Health, Happiness and .. Technology?

by Matt Chatterley Matt Chatterley in Thoughts and Musings

Three years ago, almost to the day, I weighed myself and decided I wasn't very happy with being 33 years old and 90kg (14st 2lbs - a BMI of 28.4 for my height, just tickling the top of the 'Overweight' bracket). I knew it was only going to 'get worse from here on', so I decided I was going to get fit.

We've all been through the same process - so I started going to the gym three times a week. I lost 4kgs by the end of 2012. Pretty good! It also gave me a bit of a taste for running in particularly, so I did the only logical thing - I signed up for the Jersey Marathon and spent most of 2013 training my way through various injuries, until I ran it in about 5 and a half hours. I shed about another 6kg in the process - it took literally all year.

I didn't keep up my whole schedule during 2014 as I wasn't really able to put 5-6 hours a week into running (or didn't feel well enough at times; some persistant problems have kept me from getting back into it properly). However, a year further on - and three years from where I started - I'm almost at my first target weight of 68kg (150lbs - the middle of the 'average' BMI bracket for my height) - and I've achieved most of that in the last 10 weeks.

It wasn't that hard, actually. But the way I managed it surprised me - I bought a Jawbone UP. I'd previously dismissed fitness/activity trackers as gimmicky - and in a way they are - most of the benefit really comes from the way it encourages you to track your activity and diet, but nonetheless, it was the catalyst that allowed me to make some tweaks and lose roughly 1kg a week on average - and keep it off!

That's a long story to get to a simple point - that the more information you have about how your body is working (or how it isn't working), the better able you are to make the right decisions to generate the outcome which you want. While this isn't a new principle to many of us (feedback, review, repeat), the application of it to oneself is a fairly new area.

Wearables aren't just the future - with the various smart-watches, contactless payment stickers and wristbands and all the rest, they're here - and evolving quickly (it's interesting to consider where they will go in the future, as I'd suggest they won't be worn any more, but rather attached or implanted).

The potential uses of bio-feedback are just a small slice of the topics which could be explored at the upcoming HackJsy Digital Health Hackathon - and I'm very excited to see what the teams come up with this time around - I hope you can join us!

Have you had any positive (or negative!) experiences with wearables which you'd like to share?

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