In 2013 I found myself experimenting more and more with the new quantified self technologies. If you are looking for some ideas on what to try out in 2014 and if you think that digital can give you a head start on your health resolutions then here are six things you might like to try out.
1. App action. Much is made of the comparative strengths of the big quantified self gadgets such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike Fuelband. But having tried them all out, I have found that it’s their companion apps that makes all the difference. For me, the Jawbone Up has the best smartphone app and for that reason is worth a try if you haven’t already. It’s data visualisations are slick, navigation is great and up with the best, and the app plugs into other services easily, such as IFTTT.com.
2. Lift. If there’s one thing that helps you stick to you goals, it’s peer pressure. A service I have used this year to help on this front is Lift. Founded by a team including the founders of Twitter, Lift lets you browse for activities to add to an online list of habits which you then need to tick off every day and share with others. Lift works best when kept simple, so pick a few habits and use this app to try to stick to them.
3. Scales. Tracking your weight has never been easier, whether you are trying to shift the pounds or bulk up in the new year. I can recommend the Withings Smart Body Analyzer for this. It has a great app which charts your stats, from weight to BMI and more. If also connects to web services such as IFTTT so you can experiment with how you log and access your data.
4. IFTTT. I have mentioned it twice already. If This Then That is a service that has vastly improved in recent months. It connects dozens of different apps and web services, with recent additions including Google Glass and iPhone location. My tip would be for you to browse shared ‘recipes’ on IFTTT and start using some of the health focused set-ups on there. Running a search for Withings, Jawbone or FitBit will give you a bunch of ideas.
5. Sleep. Using your quantified self gadgets to improve your rest time has to be one of their most overlooked features. I would recommend the Jawbone Up for its sleep functionality. It allows you to set your morning alarm call to go off only when you are in light sleep, for example – the theory being that you are more refreshed when you wake up when you’re in light sleep. It’s silent alarm and powernap function are pretty good too.
6. Diet. Logging your food intake needs to be simple if you’re going to find the time and energy to do it. Both Fitbit and the Jawbone Up have good food logging aspects to their app, but my tip here is to spend just three days tracking your typical food intake and then measuring the amount of energy you need to burn off to ensure you’re more active than what you eat. If a typical day equals 10,000 steps of energy to burn off, then you don’t need to track food intake every day in order to know what a good activity target should be. So do some diet tracking early in the new year and you’ll be able to set better activity targets thereafter.