I have tried different versions of KeepTrack for Android over past six years, but always ended up abandoning it for one reason or another. The latest version, however, has earned a permanent spot on my phone and warrants the company’s tagline, “The Swiss knife of tracking apps!”
KeepTrack allows the users to set up multiple custom data tracking entries. For example, I was able to use it to quickly set up a widget to track my blood pressure as well as another widget that I hit everytime I drink 32 ounces of water during the day.
When I had pain from a knee injury, I set up a tracking widget to hit ever time I took my pain meds, so that I could look back at anytime and make sure I was taking the medicine at the appropriate intervals.
Data can be entered directly into the app itself, or users can create widgets on an Android homescreen for specific data parameters as well (I have some things I track that I don’t want on any of my home screens due to privacy reasons, for example).
The app itself is free, but there are a number of in-app purchases which are absolutely essential to getting the most out of the app. All of the in-app purchase costs a little over $4 in total (one of those is a 99 cent annual cloud storage backup subscription, which worked as advertised when I switched phones several times in the course of a month).
I’d always wanted a blood pressure monitor as part of my self tracking regimen, but honestly my blood pressure was always very good and most of the decent monitors seemed always to be in the $100 range.
Then my blood pressure started to rise into the pre-hypertension area on a couple of doctors visits, which didn’t make any sense, so I broke down and bought one so I could better track my blood pressure on a day-to-day basis.
After looking around Amazon, I settled on the Omron 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor. The main advantage of the Omron 7 is that being a wrist monitor, it is very compact and portable — I can just toss it in the bottom of my backpack and take it with me anywhere if I wanted. Also, I really hate the sensation of traditional arm cuff blood pressure monitors.
I’ve tested it before and after doctor’s visits to see how well it compares to what the nurse tells me my blood pressure is, and so far it seems to be spot on accurate.
The unit will store the last 100 blood pressure readings each for two separate users (there is a slider that lets you switch between user 1 and user 2). It would be nice to have a USB or Bluetooth option to automatically copy the data, but I simply copy the readings onto a spreadsheet at the end of the week.
The nice thing is that I was able to use the unit to quickly determine why my blood pressure was slightly elevated. I sustained a knee injury and had been taking ibuprofen to deal with some of the lingering pain and inflammation. Using the Omron I was able to determine that my blood pressure was elevated in and around the times I was taking the pain killer, and returned to its normal levels when I ceased taking it. It was good to discover that the elevated blood pressure level wasn’t tied to any underlying health problem.
As I mentioned the other day, I’m using a Withings wireless scale so that every morning I weigh in and that weight gets published to a number of areas where I can keep track of how I’m doing.
One thing you notice quickly when weighing yourself daily is that your weight can fluctuate quite a bit from day to day, oftentimes in ways that seems almost random. Some people report getting discouraged when they see their weight go up a few pounds even though they are following their diet and exercise plan.
As Monica Reinagel points out at NutritionDiva.com, the key is to not focus on a single number from a given weigh-in, but rather on a moving average which will give you a much better idea of what your actual weight is.
A moving average, on the other hand, is an average that slides through time. It’s a great way to see trends or changes in whatever you’re tracking…especially when things are changing relatively slowly or there’s a lot of variation in the numbers from day to day.
. . .
. . . a moving average helps smooth out the daily fluctuations to more accurately reveal the trend. In practice, you’ll probably want to use a larger window to help you focus on the longer-term trends.
I ultimately enter my daily weight into a Google Spreadsheet that then calculates a 7-day moving average — i.e. the average of that day’s weight plus the previous 6 days’ weigh-ins. As Reinagel notes, this smoothes out the sometimes wild variations that can occur on a daily basis and gives me a much better idea of how I’m doing with my weight.
I’m obsessed with anything related to quantified self or life logging opportunities, so I finally got around to picking up a Withings Wireless Scale from Amazon a few weeks ago. The Withings scale will wirelessly transfer your weight and BMI to either a smart phone or via wifi to its website.
If you just want to use your smart phone with this, the setup appears to be quite easy. Configuring the scale to connect to my home wireless network, however, was a pain in the ass. Doing so requires using the smart phone app — there is no way to configure the WS-30 through USB.
Getting the smart phone app to recognize the scale and get it to accept my wifi settings took about half an hour of tinkering. Maybe nerds and geeks are the only ones purchasing wifi-equipped scales, because I don’t think non-technical users would have a lot of success with the configuration process.
Once the configuration was finished, however, the scale has performed flawlessly. I step on the scale, am horrified by my weight, and then a few minutes later I can log in to the Withings website and see it recorded their.
One thing to be aware of with Withings is that the company is more than happy to store you data, but if you want to get it out that can be another issue entirely. There is no capability as far as I could tell, for example, to do a simple export or save of data to a CSV file.
Withings does have an API that other applications tie into, however. For now, Withings is offered as a channel on IFTTT.com, and I use a couple recipes there to copy my weight from Withings’ site over to both a Google Calendar and my lifestream site (for example, you can see my most recent weigh-ins here).