visualizations for motivation


It's January in Rochester, which means that my seasonal affective disorder is in full swing. I go into full hibernation mode at this time of year, wanting to just burrow under the covers and wait for spring. The result is that I eat too many carbs, gain too much weight, and feel awful.

At last week's social computing symposium, I saw a lot of really wonderful projects that used visualization of "hidden" data to shape behavior. Most of it was urban and/or architectural, but it got me thinking about how I could better track and visualize data that's important to me personally.

Today, I started using one of my favorite free iPhone apps again--LoseIt. I liked it before, when it was only on my phone--it's a relatively friction-free way to track daily exercise and caloric intake. But they've improved it now by adding great visualizations on their website. I can see daily and weekly summaries of my activity, progress towards my goals, charts showing my favorite foods (and the ones that I'm getting the most calories from), and more. They've also incorporated a social component, so that I can track my progress against that of one or more friends (Weez, you need to sign up :).

Because I'm going to be getting most of my exercise by trying to take the dog for more walks and runs around the neighborhood, I also wanted to find a way to track that activity. I thought about the Nike+ system, but it won't work with my iPhone 3G, which is annoying. Then I considered a Fitbit, which I'd seen Caterina tweet about, but they're not shipping for another month. Finally, I took a look at Runkeeper, an iPhone app that tracks your location via GPS, and calculates your speed and distance. I'm starting with the free version of the app tomorrow to see how it works for me, but I've seen people in my Facebook feed reporting their runs using it, and the reviews seem good.

Now I find myself coveting the Withings WiFi Body Scale, which does the same thing for weight and BMI--transmitting the data wirelessly from the scale to the server, and from there back to your iPhone/iPod. I think that if I stick with the other tools between now and April, I'll ask for that for my birthday :)


Just picked up a Withings scale over the weekend. Am only on the 4th day of use so I can't provide a deep comment but early indications are good. Scale works well; the wifi and iPhone integration is smooth. Now I just need to get back into my regular gym schedule (and away from my Holiday Gluttony) and watch the weight melt away ;)

Yeah, I'm starting to covet one in a big way. My birthday is only 3 months away, so if I stay on track with my weight loss efforts, I think that would be a perfect gift. :)

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This page contains a single entry published on January 18, 2010 6:28 PM.

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