Confession: I’m a bit of a data junkie. I get excited when I get ahold of new gadgets to get more accurate measurements or be able to take more factors into account. I actually enjoy measuring all the different numbers and statistics related to my health and overanalyzing them to infinity and beyond.
One of the great things about numbers is they don’t lie. But they can be deceptive. The scale may lack accuracy or precision. You may weight yourself at different times of day with varying amounts of water weight.. The numbers may not take enough factors into account and be oversimplified (e.g. calories, BMI, weight). But numbers don’t make shit up like our magical thinking minds do. They don’t try to deceive you the way product labels and marketing does (be skeptical with their numbers). Numbers can help you snap out of a rut because they don’t lie and you can’t escape the truth (but never underestimate the power of creative explanations). Numbers are the red pill of healthy living when used with an understanding of their limitations, what they really represent and how they fit in to the big picture. It was stepping on the scale and seeing what I actually weighed that got me to flip the switch to really commit to becoming the best version of myself.
With all the gadgets, information, science and formulas it can be easy to trip yourself into an analytical pit of doom where you hyper analyze every meal, workout and everything in between. This can be a bit of a problem because it can eventually lead to obsessive tunnel-vision focus where you forget how to say “fuck it” and let go.
I think using scales, food logs, and health gadgets are great for getting started, getting yourself back on track or checking in with yourself. But I think it is important to not get too rigid or reliant. It is important to learn to eyeball a meal and just know it is the right amount for you. I think one of the most important aspects of healthy living is to learn to listen to your body. I think focusing too much on numbers can distract you from your own body. I think sometimes people feel a sense of obligation to follow their schedule or hitting a number just for the sake of following it. But this becomes a problem when being attached to that number/ schedule/ goal results in ignoring the signals your body is giving you and defeating the purpose of why you are making those decisions in the first place.
What this comes down to is balance. Take advantage of math, science and technology. Objectifying yourself with measurements can be useful to help detach and give a better understanding of yourself and your habit. But they don’t tell the whole story. Measurements are just abstract representations of the real data. They don’t experience your body. Only you do and your body knows itself better than anything else. Success in healthy living more than just a number.
Fun calculations to play with: