Measuring Up: My Next Challenge For ReadWriteBody

ReadWriteBody is an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers networked fitness and the quantified self. From December 2013 to January 2014, it is presented by Qualcomm Toq.

As I’ve been writing about digital fitness and my own efforts to improve my health, I’ve picked up a lot of fellow travelers who share my interests. One of them is Derek Flanzraich, the CEO and founder of Greatist, a site about health and wellness.

Last year, Flanzraich went on a quest for six-pack abs, using the simple strategy of eating less, moving more, drinking more water, and getting more sleep. He hit his goal, dropping from 14.7 percent body fat to 9.4 percent, though it took a toll on his quality of life.

I wish I could tell you I was at 9.4 percent body fat after my first four-month challenge. Though I’m reasonably athletic, I started out weighing 206 lbs. at 27 percent body fat, and I’m now down to 22.5 percent at 194 lbs., according to a skinfold measurement my trainer took this week. That’s taken me from obese to average, according to the American Council on Exercise.

I can do better. I have the technology.

Setting New Goals

In the wrap-up to my first challenge, which was really geared around straightforward weight loss, I noted that I could have been more strict about my diet. That’s going to be an increasing focus for this challenge.

I’m no longer gunning to lose pounds for pounds’ sake. Instead, I want to get lean and fast. My new goal is 15 percent body fat. (That will probably take me down to 175 lbs., but the figure on the scale is a secondary indicator.)

Getting leaner will help me hit another goal: Running a mile in under six minutes. That’s held up as a high standard of fitness, and I want to make it.

What I’ll Need

A lot of the gear and apps I’m already testing are ready to go to work. My running apps all track pace and heart rate reasonably well, but the specificity of training for a six-minute mile may help me narrow down which one really works the best.

See also: Running In Circles: I Can’t Pick The Right Running App

I’ll keep using heart-rate devices to measure my effort and make sure I’m pushing myself beyond my current level of performance.

And for nutrition, I’m likely to stick with MyFitnessPal, my tried-and-true standard for food logging. But I’ll pay more attention to the data, and try to link it more closely with my rest and my athletic performance.

Rest will be an increased focus. In quantifying myself, I learned I was averaging six hours a night of sleep. While running ReadWrite is restless work, I believe I can cut out some inessential leisure time—probably spent watching RuPaul’s Drag Race reruns—and put my head on the pillow instead.

So will I nail it, like Flanzraich did on his “absperiment”? Or will I only get halfway to my goal, like I did on my last challenge? The good news is that whatever happens, I’ll learn something—and hopefully you will, too.

For more frequent updates on my fitness, follow me on Twitter: @owenthomas

Sponsored by Qualcomm® Toq™—the smartwatch that’s always on, active and visible in any light.

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