Measuring my way to improvement

Measuring my way to improvement

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” – H. James Harrington

I don’t know why i’m continuing to pad this post out with more words because that quote sums up the point i want to make beautifully. However, I don’t write as often as I used to so it’s a good opportunity to ramble on a bit, just to make sure I haven’t forgotten how to write and express my thoughts in a blog post.

What to do after you reach a goal…

A few months ago, i wrote about how i’d gotten fitter and lost weight over a long period of time, hitting a target i’d set a couple of years previous. What happens when you hit a fitness target? Well, three things can happen…

  • you can keep pushing harder and set more targets
  • you can stay where you are, maintaining current position
  • you can fall back to where you were originally

The first two are what everyone wants to do… nobody wants to do the latter. I’m no different. Before publishing that post 4 months ago, i’d already started to put together a plan for how to keep myself on track once the target was inevitably hit. In a word, the plan was ‘stats’. I love stats… finding patterns, tracking stats nobody has tracked before, trying to find new stories or angles to look at things based on stats.

Stats = knowledge, knowledge = power so i knew that if i could monitor and log stats on myself over a long period of time, i’d be able to make better, smarter decisions and see a bigger picture emerging through graphs and charts. For example, if we had some way of logging heart-rate, blood pressure, brain activity, body fat, weight, sleep, temperature, food consumed, think about how much we’d be able to learn about ourselves. Over a long period of time, we’d be able to recognise abnormalities in stats and take action proactively to prevent heart attacks or organ failure or stress etc…

That stuff is all possible to measure today, but it’s not automated which is why we don’t do it. We only do it whenever we’re sick… if a child isn’t feeling well, we check their temperature, check for rashes, try to figure out what they ate, how much sleep they’ve had etc… reactive stuff as opposed to proactive stuff. It’s a shame we don’t log more stats about ourselves. When I thought about this and recognised the potential long term value, I realised I should do something about it.

The Bigger Picture

Since March, I’ve been logging some basic stats on myself. I’m happy to report that since then, I haven’t gone off the rails.. i ensured i wouldn’t by setting up this long term project for myself – to record my weight related stats indefinitely at least once a month, but ideally once a week..

Although the data i’m collecting on myself now is fairly useless (as it’s only over 4 months), it will become fascinating over time… Imagine if someone weighed themselves every week for 20 years and recorded results.. or better yet recorded bodyfat, body water, waist & thigh measurements, body temperature, amount of sleep… The results would be fascinating to look at. That’s the goal for me. But here’s what stats have done for me over the past 4 months.. simply being aware of this project was enough motivation for me to exercise and not to eat a bunch of stuff i didn’t need as i know doing so would result in the type of graphs that head in the wrong direction. It’s inevitable that will happen of course and it has happened over the 4 months, but the bigger picture is all that’s important and right now, i’m very close to the stage where a flat-line from now on will be the goal. Which is a luxurious position to be in of course but if you invest the thought and time in to this sort of system and analysis, maybe you can get and stay at where you want to be at too…

4 months of stats


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