I am a HUGE metric junkie. I like to record and graph things in an attempt to understand trends. One example of this is my weight. A few years ago I decided I would start jogging in an attempt to lose some weight. I chose this form of exercise because I wanted to improve my cardio and drop a few pounds. Plus you never see a fat jogger.
For three months I walked/jogged for 30 minutes five days a week and burnt around 300 calories per session. After three months of this I noticed something strange. I had gained 10 pounds. Disappointed, I assumed I had gained muscle weight and left it at that because denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
Fast forward to earlier this year. A routine physical with my doctor revealed I had gained 16 pounds in the last three years and blood work indicated high TSH levels suggesting that I suffer from Hypothyroidism. Not cool, especially since my wife and I are hyper conscious about what we stuff into our pie holes and have been eating organic for the last year and a half.
We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we are very mindful of our food choices and make deliberate attempts to eat right and educate ourselves with regard to nutrition and diet.
Withings – Wifi Body Scale
When my Doctor told me two months ago that I might have hypothyroidism I was kind of bummed that the weight gain did not set off any red flags for me. Although I was weighing myself somewhat regularly, there were periods where I didn’t even want to stand on the scale because I knew it wouldn’t be good. When I did weigh myself I did my best to keep a written log. As a result, I have an inconsistent history of my weight fluctuations to look back on.
Realizing that guessing what my weight was “way back when” was not the most efficient way to monitor my weight fluctuations and determine the impact of my diet and exercise, I decided to do some research to see if someone had created a scale that would automate the measurement and data collection process.
Thankfully, a company by the name of Withings has with their Wifi Body Scale.
After pouring through the overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon I decided to buy one of these and I must say I am quite pleased. The Withings WiFi body scale connects to your wireless network and automatically updates your weight to their site where it is plotted on a beautiful interactive graph.
What makes this extra cool is that the web-site interface:
- Is FREE
- Allows you to export your data in csv format
- Integrates with many popular fitness sites (more on that later)
- Provides API access
The scale itself has a nice thin modern design and comes in both black and white. I got the black one. Setup is straight forward and once configured can support up to 8 different users. An algorithm determines who is standing on the scale at any given time (by comparing weights I would imagine) and when two people with similar skeletal girth use the scale shifting your weight from side to side allows you to select your profile.
Upon standing on the scale the users weight, BMI (Body Mass Index) and % Body Fat are displayed in succession before the display goes back to sleep and your data is transmitted wirelessly to the Withings site.
The Withings Site
Here you can interactively view all manner of metrics related to your weight over a varied period of time. Your percent body fat, lean mass, and height are all readily available and displayed graphically with a simple click of a button.
From a user’s perspective this is awesome because you are not required to do anything more then stand on a scale (as you always have) yet because the Withings scale is able to measure body fat it is able to provide you with a wealth of actionable information with regard to your body composition.
Want to see how your body fat, lean mass or height (good for kids) has varied over time, a simple mouse click provides you with the data you need to see how your progressing to your goals.
It is also worth noting that Withings also makes a blood pressure monitor (Withings BP-800) that connects to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch (no android support yet :( ). This information is then uploaded to your Withings account so you can have all your weight and blood pressure information in one place. Keep this in mind if blood pressure metrics are also important to you.
If you want a way to automate the collection of your weight this scale is perfect!
Call me crazy, maybe I’m just nuts, but the geek in me expects more these days. When evaluating technology it’s incredibly important for me that it works and plays well with others. So many companies fail in this regard and greedily want to control your eyes by forcing you to view your data on their site. This is quite understandable because there is a lot of money to be made controlling content.
With that said, I am happy to report that Withings gets it. They know that consumers want interoperability and the ability to control their own data. As a result they not only allow you to download your data in csv format, they provide a share button that allows you to connect your data with an assortment of other online social networking and health tracking sites so you can view your data where you want without bouncing around from site to site.
If you are hardcore about sharing your data with others, Withings provides custom code you can place on your website to share real-time interactive charts with your visitors. If you know how to add a link to your blog then you know everything you need to to embed beautiful charts on your site.
This is not a requirement for me, or something I care to do, but here’s mine so you can get a feel for the interface it provides (which is very similar to what is provided on the Withings website).
NOTE: I’ve shrunken down the interactive graph to fit in the space below. This ended up cutting off the zoom out button. Despite that, the graph should give you a feel for the interface. Of course the real interface fills the entire height and width of your browser. Now go ahead and click it! Don’t be shy.
Another interactive widget Withings provides.
Another killer feature that proves that Withings knows what it’s doing, is the ability to access your interactive graph from a dedicated application within your Apple iPad, iPhone or Android devices. I am rocking a Droid X and I must say it’s quite cool to have all your historical data immediately accessible wherever you are. The UI for the Withings App looks similar to what you get with the web interface but also cleverly makes use of your smart phones accelerometer to change the display depending on how your phone is oriented.
The Withings app works just as good on my Xoom as it does on my Droid X allowing you to better visualize and manipulate the graphs. A minor annoyance (but I am nitpicking now) is that in the vertical orientation, the tablet version does not scale to fit the full screen. It doesn’t really bother me because in the horizontal orientation (the graph view) it does scale nicely and that’s the view I am interested in anyway.
The purpose of tracking my weight so carefully was so that I could more accurately determine the impact of both physical and dietary changes. With that said, I found a really neat and free application on the Android Market called Runkeeper. Runkeeper is super simple to use and utilizes your phones GPS to track your distance, speed, and calories burned. This information is automatically uploaded to the Runkeeper website where you can review your daily and weekly fitness totals at your leisure.
I mention this because Runkeeper is also capable of automatically pulling in data from a variety of sources, including Withings. Which means that your weight and body fat measurements magically appear on their site allowing you to view all your metrics in one place. That’s what I’m talking about!
If you are
a little off in the head like me and need a tool to help motivate you to lose weight, automatically track your family’s weight history, provide actionable data that you can view through your PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android device, and integrates with other popular online fitness services then the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale is the perfect tool to add to your wellness arsenal.