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Follow the Fitstream blog for our latest news and health and fitness stories from around the world that are focused on fitness tracking, measurement and motivation.

October Fitness Planner 01-10-2014

This is the latest instalment of our free monthly fitness planner series for October 2014:

october planner

Download the October planner, print it off and add in your goals and activity for the month. It's a great way to plan ahead and stay accountable, and if you add it to your fridge or somewhere you'll regularly see it this will help you stay focused and conscious of your health and fitness for the month. 

Sometimes we all fall into the trap of ambling through our health and fitness routines so let's get focused again!

We'd love for you to send us photos of your planner to Facebook or Twitter too. 

track body

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September Wrap-up at Fitstream 29-09-2014

wrap-up

We can barely believe we’re writing our monthly wrap-up post as September went by in a flash, but here’s our recap on Fitstream goings on this month.

We made a new friend in Chris Angel, a quantified-selfer we had the pleasure of speaking with who’s used his self measurement method to lose over 82 lbs of fat since January! Find out how he did it and learn about his personal experience in our interview.

We also published our free September Fitness Planner to help you plan out goals and activity for the month and it made it onto people’s fridges around the world. Seeing as how you're finding it useful we're going to keep it up and will be releasing the October planner in a day or two so check back soon.

There’s thousands of you are using our Fitness Journal app to track your body metrics and we’re getting a lot of questions on what’s the best way to track body fat in particular. We have our general guide to measuring body fat and for those of you doing it yourself with calipers we’ve now updated our body fat caliper tracking article so it’s more helpful and contains a template and formulas to get you started.

Whilst we're on the topic of the Fitstream Journaling app - it was a huge month for Apple as they released iOS8 and a two new iPhones and this meant a lot of work for us to update Fitstream. We’re just waiting for approval on the latest version now but there’s a pretty large queue so it’s taking longer than usual. It should be coming soon and as soon as it gets the green light you’ll find a slightly sexier redesign and the introduction of a whole new area with your current body measurements to show your latest body status at a glance.

Thanks for using Fitstream and as usual we’d love to hear from you with any feedback or ideas.

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Quantified Self - A Case Study On Body Transformation Through Self Tracking 20-09-2014

chris angelWe want to share with you our first case study on how self tracking, otherwise known as the quantified self movement, can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

We’re well aware of how recording your body metrics and health markers can transform your physique. It’s why we built Fitstream in the first place and to help encourage others to do the same. We love to read as much we can about the quantified self industry and recently we stumbled upon a blog by Chris Angel, used mainly to document his journey into better health. This is his story so far.

Chris started his quantified self project in January 2014, motivated by two goals;

  1. Lose 25% of body fat and trim down to 104 kg / 16 st. 5 Lbs / 229 Lbs by December 2014 (from a starting weight of 139 Kg)
  2. Get his blood pressure readings out of the hypertensive zone

Each day started the same, by measuring and recording body statistics to monitor physical progress and help understand his weight loss through data, Chris hoped to design an optimal lifestyle that worked for him and his health goals.

Over the course of the last 9 months Chris has embraced an admirable range of experiments and activities; from simple data gathering and visualisation, to 3D Bodymetrics scans, gratitude journaling and building DIY standing workstations, and it’s really paid off. Check out the body stats below;

StatsJanuary 2014February 2014June 2014September 2014
Body Weight

139 kg

21 st 12 lbs

306 lbs

126.8 kg

19 st 13 lbs

279 lbs

106.2 kg

16 st 10 lbs

234 lbs

89.6 kg

14 st 1 lbs

197.5 lbs

Body Fat % 41.9 38 27.7 21
Skeletal Muscle 25.7 27.9 33.4 37
Visceral Fat Level  25 22 16 11
Blood Pressure (BP) - 123/78 163/87 -
BMI

42.5

Obese Class 3

39.1

Obese Class 2

32.8

Obese Class 1

27.7

Overweight

Progress Notes Starting Position

12.2 kg lost or 8% of body weight reduced in one month

Blood Pressure back in normal range

Total weight loss since starting 32.8 kg (6 months), 23% of body weight lost Total weight loss 49.4 kg since starting (9 months), 35% of body weight lost

As you can see, Chris smashed his initial weight loss goal by April, and reevaluated his weight loss target to 90kg which he also achieved in September this year.

Here are some of the health markers Chris tracked along the way;

  • Body weight
  • Body Fat Percentage
  • Steps taken
  • Blood Pressure / BP
  • Calorie intake
  • Calorie expenditure
  • Nutritional intake
  • Exercise / Workout logs (heart rate, duration, activity)
  • Body Mass Index / BMI
  • Visceral fat
  • Skeletal muscle

The range of data collected is so important as Chris demonstrated in one of his posts;

"Feeling pretty bad about my sudden lack of weight loss, I’ve been looking at my data to seek encouraging signs. I found something pretty good! This chart shows that the percentage of my body composed of fat has been steadily falling while the percentage of my body that is composed of skeletal muscle has been steadily rising. I’m now at the point where the two are about to converge and then invert."

muscle fat graph

This serves to illustrate why tracking body weight alone is not a great health marker and we should be more focused on the actual composition of our body!

Overall, Chris has found that taking a quantified self approach to his health has dramatically improved his physical condition and helped him meet goals much quicker than forecasted. Taking regular measurements helped him stay focused, accountable and allowed him to understand his body, and how it responds to his actions and diet. In his own words, the data he’s collected “tells a story of which I am quite proud.

We caught up with Chris and asked him a few questions about his quantified self journey;

What made you start self tracking?

Before I started with my quantified self approach I’d always had a problem with my weight, losing and regaining it continuously.

Late last year, with my 46th birthday looming I decided to do something about it. I can’t remember quite how I heard about the quantified self method but it really appealed to my personality type so I began using it and started seeing results.

Can you talk us through your routine?

Taking my readings is more or less the first thing I do each morning. I’ll switch on my laptop, open the spreadsheet where I keep my records and jump on my Omron Scale. The scale takes a full set of readings for me and I’ll add these to my spreadsheet with the time of day.

I’ll then have a cup of coffee and take one or two more self tracking measurements and get on with my day.

What fitness equipment and tracking software do you use?

Mainly it’s my Omron Scale, the BF511. There’s also my Polar FT2 heart rate monitor which I use during exercise to make sure that I’m training at the right intensity. I find this really helpful because it’s easy to think that you’re training harder than you actually are, and it’s really quite motivational for me to see how I’m improving over time.

I used to wear the FitBit fitness tracker religiously for a few months and it was useful to prompt me to move but eventually I started to ignore it as I developed the healthy habits myself. It was great transitionary bit of equipment though and I'd describe it as more of a ‘bridging’ device to help get me from completely out of shape into better health.

I also used the Omron automatic blood pressure cuff whilst I was trying to get my BP back into normal levels.

From a software perspective I really found the online Nutracheck calorie counting and food diary service essential. They also have an on-staff Nutritionist and Personal Trainer for advice too. There’s these rosette icons you’re awarded for hitting various milestones, which might seem a little pointless but I really look forward to unlocking!

Oh, and Google Docs for my spreadsheet that I built to track the metrics.

What kind of data are you now tracking?

I’m still focused on weight loss at the moment as well as tracking BMI, Body Fat %, skeletal muscle, visceral fat, resting metabolism and dietary data via Nutracheck.

In terms of diet information this includes calorie intake and expenditure, and therefore my surplus or deficit each day, and also the composition of my intake such as grams of fat.

I’ve phased out my blood pressure measurement after reaching my goal and it was quite time consuming to take those readings (it took 12 minutes to take three readings and average these out).

There’s also a general sense of wellbeing that I measure on a scale from 1-5 which I guess is more subjective than everything else but helps me to understand how my state of mind affects my stats.

What exercise and physical training are you doing?

Back when I first started in January I was walking. It was pretty shameful at the time but I had to begin with a simple quarter of a mile, and afterwards I’d get home feeling crippled and seriously sweating. I focused hard on walking and quickly increased the distance and duration and I got to the point where it was starting to get a little boring.

I then moved on to some cross trainer work to up the intensity without putting too much stress on the joints and there’s the occasional game of badminton with friends.

Around 6-8 weeks ago I hired a personal trainer and rebuilt my home gym, which sounds grandiose but basically has some weight plates and a bench to let me do more resistance training.

Actually today I’ve just booked my first ever yoga and pilates session in as I want to help develop my flexibility and work on the core body strength.

Do you think you could have made as much progress without taking the quantified self approach?

No chance.

I will continue to self track and will refine the approach in line with my goals. It’s something I think I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

What are the main lessons you have learned through the process and what would you recommend to others thinking of trying it?

It helps to break your records down into manageable chunks in your spreadsheet so that you can filter by time periods and easily browse your data.

You will have failures but don’t let it get to you. The quantified self approach helps keep you accountable and allows you to reflect on the data and what went wrong. You can look at how far you’ve come and see the big picture rather than dwelling on recent mistakes. The occasional times that I fell off the wagon I was able to see what I’d achieved since the start of the year which really helped to set some perspective instead of locking myself in a short term view.

Saying that, it’s an error to think that data will tell you everything. Data needs interpretation before it’s useful. You need to spend the time looking at the trends and experimenting.

Also, make sure that you take regular progress pics and body measurements. Sadly, it’s not something I did and I really regret not having these to reflect on my progress visually. There were times when the scales told me that I’d lost a lot of weight but I didn’t really think it was noticeable, but progress pictures would have helped me track that and see the changes for myself.

Finally, definitely keep a food diary. It’s been a vital part of my progress!

What’s next for you? Do you have a new set of goals or experiments in the pipeline?

I’m going to slowly bring my weight down to around 75 kg and increase the amount of resistance training that I’m doing. I’ve started looking at CrossFit so that’s something I’m considering too.

Ultimately, I’m moving away from my obsession with weight loss and I’m going to focus on fitness in 2015. It’s all well and good moving towards my ideal weight range but I want to make sure my body looks the way I want too.


Tell us your story

We wanted to thank Chris again for sharing his progress with us and we hope you enjoyed reading about the journey. Just before publishing this Chris emailed us to let us know he’d just hit a 50 kg weight loss milestone since starting his new quantified self tracking lifestyle so the improvements are still coming in quickly for him.  If you’d like to follow the rest of his progress you can do so on his Tumblr blog.

If you have any questions, comments, or stories of your own to share we’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter, or email - admin@fitsream.com.

You can also use the Fitstream Body Tracking App which is now available on for free on the Apple Store to start tracking your body measurements, progress pictures and notes (Android version is coming soon too!).

body tracking

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Free September Fitness Planner 03-09-2014

As part of a new series, Fitstream are going to be releasing a free planner each month to help you take charge of health and fitness.

Here’s our first instalment for September (sorry it’s a little late! We promise to get the next one out before the month starts). It’s available as a PDF file so that you can download and print out here -

http://fitstre.am/septplan14 

Fitness planner

This is a great way to plan ahead and really think about your routine. The planner will help you stay accountable, consider your goals and build your activity around what you should be doing to help achieve them.

The planner will work great with our free Fitness Journaling app too, so if you have an iPhone make sure that you download this to give you somewhere to track your activity, body measurements and progress over time.

We really hope you find this useful and would love to hear any feedback that you have for next month.

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August Wrap-up at Fitstream 31-08-2014

August was another bumper month for Fitstream and we made some great strides on the website and fitness journalling app. If you missed anything, here’s a recap below;

fitstream app measurementsThe Body Tracking App

You can now create your Fitstream account using your email information, which is great news for all you Facebook haters out there! If you haven’t already you can download the app from the Apple Store now and get set up in minutes.

We’re rolling out a new section of the app out so that you can see your current body measurements at a glance and get some visual prompts on any missing measurements. It will also prompt you to update any old measurements that haven't been updated for a while. We've included a sneak peak of the new interface in this article.

We’ll be submitting this to the app store in a week or two, so expect to see the updated app in September.

Oh… and the Android version of the app is still in progress and we’re making good headway so watch this space.

The Fitstream Website

We’ve been struggling a little lately due to the increases in traffic so the site’s been running slower than usual and there’s been more down time than we’d like!

We’re on the case though and there’s been a lot of technical work going on behind the scenes. We have a new setup in development and will be launching this in September where the site will be much more stable and running quicker than Usain Bolt.

We also published some great new content in August for you;

  • Learn why you should be keeping a health and fitness journal, how to do it and what information to record in our complete guide to journaling
  • Saying thank you is better for you than you think! Check out how a gratitude journal can change your life and help meet those health and fitness ambitions
  • Get some inspiration on what to record in your journal and take your fitness to the next level in our journalling inspiration article, with over a hundred tips to get you scribbling 

Need some help getting your fitness regime organized?

Come back to our blog in the next few days and we’ve got a nice little freebie for you to help plan your fitness each month. It’s an idea we’ve been working on for a while now and we really think it will help give you some clarity with your training regime and progress.

Thanks for continuing to use Fitstream and we hope you’re making incredible progress towards those goals. Check out our Livefeed for some inspiration on people using the app.

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