One summer when I was 13 years old, I had a bit of trouble deciding what to do with my time since I was too young to work at the ice cream shop down the street. Instead, I rode my bike around the neighborhoods and not-so-major roads in north Wilmington. I rode an average of 15 miles and burned 456 calories.
When I wasn’t riding my bike, I swam for my local swim team and let the hours pass with lots of cannonballs, Marco Polo, and poor attempts at sand volleyball. I burned an extra 800 calories with these activities, so long as I did them at an 80% intensity.
OK, realistically speaking, as a 13-year-old I was blissfully clueless. I didn’t care about calories, average speed, and even time spent outside playing, so long as I made it home in time for dinner. I didn’t come home and eat my afternoon snack with the right ratio of carbs to protein (unless Dortios and Velveeta magically fits that bill), and I didn’t know what my ideal weight or body composition was. Part of this had to do with my care-free age, but at the time, all of the “body data” we live with now was not readily accessible either. A recent Newsweek article explored this phenomenon as a part of the “Quantified Self” movement in “The Body Data Craze”. According to the article, 7/10 people are self-tracking in some capacity! Not only do we “track,” we also experiment with the variables: if I sleep more, am I less hungry throughout the day? If I run 4 miles instead of 3.5 every day, will my weight decrease?
We at The Human Solution certainly benefit from the trend. One of the major selling points of our treadmill desks is the LifeSpan Fitness tracker console and Intelli-Step. I love tracking how far I’ve walked throughout the day. That one number can give me a sense of accomplishment as well as a feeling that I am progressing toward my goals. Many tracking applications take it one step further and add a social component, as well. The editor of Cooking Light recently went on what he called the “social diet”, and tracked his dieting highs and lows publicly.
There’s no doubt in my mind that quantifying progress is important, whether in terms of miles run, calories torched, or kudos received. However, when trying to make a change it is also important to notice incremental differences in how you feel and your overall quality of life. Maybe your clothes fit a bit better, or you have more energy throughout the day. Keep your overall health and happiness in mind, and enjoy using the numbers – to a degree.
Find ergonomic products for your number-happy cravings at TheHumanSolution.com