I tracked every workout and meal for a month – here’s what happened
I tend to not keep track of things.
At work, don’t get me wrong, I’m an organisational maestro. I have master spreadsheets for my range of spreadsheets; Evernote folders arranged using a strict chronological system; Google docs and Trello boards and colour coded to do lists coming out of my ears.
But I have little understanding of how many calories I consume each day. Absolutely no idea of my daily step count, and no more than a vague feeling I should be doing more when considering my exercise habits.
Up until this point, I’ve always considered fitness and health tech as interesting, but not for me. Naturally, I care about my wellbeing, but I’m arrogant enough to believe that I’m eating healthily enough, that football once a week and occasional yoga is sufficient exercise, and that – despite Sunday junk food splurges and Saturday binge drinking – I’m in decent nick. Frankly, I don’t need technology to tell me what to do.
It took three days of using the Healthspan system to teach me I was very, very wrong.
Christmas dinner: a bad day for calorie counting
There’s a lot going on in the Heathspan app. It’s free and it’s fun to play around with, but the system only really reveals its power when synced with the . Once you link the two together and start logging your food intake, you’re offered up daily recommendations on how many calories to consume. After a couple weeks, it gets even more clever. You can order your own bespoke supps, straight from the app, formulated based on your personal biometrics and health concerns.
Tapping in every snack and meal can get a little tedious, but I found that after a few days of logging it became second nature, and the nutritional ‘nudging’ effects of being constantly aware of what I was eating soon began to take hold: an apple rather than some Christmas chocolate leftovers; a yoghurt rather than a scoop of Häagen-Dazs. It’s not rocket science, obviously, but the numbers in my pocket quantifying my sins certainly helped twist my arm towards healthier fare.
The key revelation: my diet is far more calorifically chaotic than I thought. One day I’ll behave with monastic restraint, barely notching up 1,500kcal; the next I’ll gorge my way north of 3,500. Strangely, this inconsistency doesn’t seem related to how much – or, more often, how little – exercise I do. But no matter. Knowledge is power, and come dinner time I soon learned to deploy a glance at the app before I dined as a steadying influence on portion control.
The net result: I lost five pounds of belly chub over the course of a month. I know this because I tracked my weight weekly using a set of – again, synced – , which offered up readings for my body fat percentage and visceral (internal) fat alongside the kg reading. This wasn’t just water weight. It was that nasty blancmange-like bit below the belly button. To be rid of it without having had to skip pudding (that often) is genuinely exciting.
The total tracking team
To fuel my occasional bouts of exercise, I used the electrolyte and protein ordering features of the app. The protein calculator is particularly clever. After filling in a short questionnaire on your preferences and measuring your biometric data, a box that matches your needs is personalised – by flavour, health goal, dietary preference and dose – and sent to your door. I know. Pretty snazzy.
Now, I’m not sure if the personalised electrolytes and protein combo bookending my sporadic runs and weekly five-a-side is going to jump-cut me back to the glories of my athletic youth. I'm not sure of that at all. But the protein certainly aided my recovery. Aches and pains after football were cut short. The first mile of every run was a little swifter. A little sparklier.
In short, then, it’s a great start – and I have no intention of cancelling my monthly supply, or my daily logging. Five pounds down and armed with my scales, personalised supps and protein-packed shaker, I’m looking forward to my next challenge: a 10k obstacle race in May. In fact, I’ve already started planning my strategy for each obstacle using a series of Google Docs.
Video: Full Day of Eating on a Cut | MACROS & CALORIES TRACKED
How to Find Out the Age and Value of a Guitar
Reading Between the Food Label Lines
3 Ways to Draw a Face
Proof This Major Trend Isnt Going Anywhere
Kate Moss’ 40th Birthday Preparations
Best Ways to Exercise at Home
This woman’s rant about buying bigger bras is actually spot on
Trump: Walgreens raising wages because of tax cuts
Sardines: Among the Healthiest Foods You Can Eat
How to Plant Desert Rose Seeds
How to Prepare Quinoa