As this first quarter comes to a close, I’ve been looking at my goals, and one thing has become quite clear:

I won’t be hitting my weight goal for April.

In fact, the scale hasn’t really budged since the beginning of the year. For whatever reason, I’ve been really struggling to get back into good habits. As I reflected on this, I started to wonder what I had been doing a year ago when things were going really well.

Thankfully, we have data!

Finding the healthiest week

I know I was at my healthiest between August and December of 2016. But let’s go through and see what data we can piece together to find the healthiest week in the bunch. Any measurement here will be subjective, but I’ll try to get my hands on:

  • Weight
  • Exercise
  • Sleep quantity
  • Blood pressure

Nutrition would be great to look at as well, but some bad memories of playing with MyFitnessPal’s API scare me off of that a bit.

I would love to be able to track meditation – in fact, I suspect it’s a key factor – but unfortunately I had started using Headspace at that time, and they don’t seem to provide data export (as an aside, Insight Timer provides all the data, and it’s free!)

Weight, exercise, sleep, and blood pressure

I was nervous this might be a challenge. I used a Withings smartwatch and wifi scale, as well as a blood pressure cuff at the time. Since then, Withings was bought out by Nokia, and I was nervous I might find my data had disappeared.

Nope! Data export is nice and easy!

I get a nice and clean CSV to process, and after averaging each metric for the week, here’s what we see:

Week Weight Steps Sleep BP(s) BP(d)
2016-08-01 360.44 2280 n/a n/a n/a
2016-08-08 355.87 1205 n/a 130 76
2016-08-15 350.38 1536 n/a 128 73
2016-08-22 345.88 3032 n/a 113 66
2016-08-29 337.7 1089 n/a 114 69
2016-09-05 329.84 2580 n/a 120 73
2016-09-12 326.1 1865 n/a 117 72
2016-09-19 321.14 910 n/a 119 71
2016-09-26 314.37 2854 n/a 119 69
2016-10-03 308.25 8321 5.74 119 70
2016-10-10 300.77 4880 5.11 122 72
2016-10-17 296.43 2847 6.52 n/a n/a
2016-10-24 293.09 2369 7.32 116 66
2016-10-31 288.63 1837 7.05 116 69
2016-11-07 287.28 3481 5.63 n/a n/a
2016-11-14 299.05 2807 4.68 n/a n/a
2016-11-21 300.1 4288 n/a n/a n/a
2016-11-28 292.11 4281 9.11 112 68
2016-12-05 282.23 2455 7.26 112 68
2016-12-12 278.53 2161 7.9 114 69
2016-12-19 276.8 4397 7.06 110 67
2016-12-26 302.6 1768 n/a n/a n/a

The banner weeks

Man do I miss those blood pressure numbers!

Looking at the data, I was surprised at just how iffy my sleep had been. And I wasn’t walking anywhere near as much as I had thought! I pulled up the week of October 24th in my journal, and found the following:

I took a week off of living healthy. It wasn’t a smart idea. Now I’m just behind and nervous about flaking out on even more stuff. I didn’t write or meditate either, which was a mistake. I’m feeling more hostility and fear, with less compassion. Need to calm down.

…okay, so not the best week then. Looking at other entries that week, I managed to remain pretty cynical. Let’s look at the week of December 5th:

Anyway, lots to do. I wish I felt better. What the f$#^ is up with me?

Um…

No magic system

I started writing this post in the hope of stumbling on a few key habits that made everything run smoothly. Hoping that maybe it’s just a matter of drinking more water. Or going for walks. Some gimmick that has a disproportionate positive effect.

Nope.

Even during my healthiest period in a long time – a time I still look back on very fondly – things weren’t sunshine and rainbows. And maybe that’s the real takeaway: that it isn’t about trying to find perfect weeks. It’s about incremental progress, and striving to make each day a little better than the last.

And also that rosy retrospection is a jerk!