"Stuff I'm working on ..."

Health and Workout Data Tracking

by kaeru published 2022/10/13 11:13:00 GMT+8, last modified 2022-10-13T18:24:18+08:00

Graph showing events and weight lossI've been struggling with health for some time. Simply by not looking after myself enough. Covid-19 movement restrictions just made it worse, and I was very overweight at the start of the year. Getting out and walking, reduced weight a bit, but then leveled off at a still overweight point.

Increasing intensity didn't help, because of a bad back from overuse when I was younger, then later neglect and being overweight, increasing intensity by jogging often lead to just more aches and injuries.

Reducing food intake didn't help much either, just being more hungry, less energy, motivation and exercise.

Getting a bike, and cycling meant being able to get around and exercise with no pain. Plus it was more enjoyable. I kept finding excuses to go out just to ride somewhere. This time I got another drop in weight, but like walking it settled at a new lower level but didn't go down anymore.

Like walking, just increasing intensity for cycling didn't help.

According to BMI calculations, I was a few kilograms overweight for my height, but I know and can feel that all the extra weight is not good for my bad back. I still need to lose another 8kgs.

I had to be smarter about this.

Using data from bicycle sensors, phone and for now listening to body to get sense of intensity, I could see that slightly decreasing intensity, but staying at higher levels of zone 2 (also sometimes referred to as green zone or base), I was using almost the same amount of calories vs short bursts of high intensity workouts before.

So the data shows there was little benefit, calorie burning wise, from more intense workouts. And wasn't going much slower either at lower intensity rate.

Changing things up, I would now only train in the zone 2. As soon as I started feeling labored I would simply back down, and shift to an easier gear, while keeping same cadence. Staying in zone 2 also meant, I can just keep going further too.

Being careful, I'm steadily increasing daily distance by only 2km each week, which is an extra loop around the circuit route I'm taking.

I'm now up to 10km daily, and losing almost 0.4kg per week. In 4 more weeks, I'll be doing 20km per day, while improving at this sustainable pace. I don't feel tired, and every day feels easier than the last, but when looking at data, actually burning more calories and going faster each day.

Mentally doing this is easier with cycling. When you drop down a gear, it's not as demotivating as dropping down to a walking pace from a running pace. As a person who is used to running, it is depressing, when you have to slow down to a walk. For cycling, you barely notice going a few kilometers per hour slower.

The few minutes of being slower I mentioned at the start by decreasing intensity?

By doing sustainable workouts, I'm now doing 10km (30mins), and at the same speed as what was previously an intense workout earlier, where I was exhausted after 5km (15mins).

The workouts are also realistic. I'm only spending 30mins each day to cycle 10km. When i reach 20km I think it will only be at speed where it will take less than an hour.

This doesn't mean I don't like running, when I'm no longer overweight, and my back is not under so much daily strain anymore from all the extra weight, I'd like to start running and and playing basketball again.

Current Data Tracking Setup

Supercycle app with Android Phone mounted on bicycle

I use an Android phone, and the ecosystem is filled with walled gardens. The best simple central health tracking app for now is Google Fit, but getting data into it from different apps isn't always straightforward.

Cycling Cadence/Speed/Elevation

I use my mobile phone as my bike computer and use the free SuperCycle app. It looks nice and has all the features you need. For data sharing, capture data with SuperCycle, then export it to Strava automatically which then exports it to Google Fit. Strava also gets updates on my weight from Google Fit, so able to more accurately calculate calories used. Just make sure to set the right privacy settings for Strava. Sharing your location and activity publicly is dangerous from my viewpoint. Hopefully with new Health Connect API, in future one won't need to jump through so many hoops for data sharing.

Installed Bontrager Duotrap Cadence and Speed Sensor

I have a Trek bike, so the Bontrager Duotrap S fits seamlessly to capture cadence and speed data. Supercycle/Android is able to capture the live data via Bluetooth.

For now it's enough data to track workout intensity, see actual results and lose weight effectively.

What's still not working

Sleep and better recovery. I'm still not sleeping better, and I'm not always sure when I need a day of rest. And I still don't have enough energy for non-workout things I enjoy like playing music and drawing.

Step by step.

I'm on target to not be overweight by end of next month, and that is a huge first step already to being healthy again.