Tracking your body metrics

In order to get in shape, it’s beneficial to track metrics. And as a tech bro, I of course have that “give me all of the metrics” mindset. About 20 years ago, I started using the scales from Omron (Japanese company; I think they may have invented consumer-grade body fat measurement). Later on I started occasionally paying for DEXA scans – which are definitely more accurate, but there are folks saying they aren’t great either. At any rate, body fat scales do have a place in the lineup as long as you keep in mind what they are: they are not accurate, but they are consistent, if that you are doing your part and collecting enough data. And by “enough data”, I do mean at least several times a week.

As my view of body fat scales’ accuracy has shifted over the years, I have placed less value on trying to get the best of an admittedly poor measurement system, and more value on getting data which is consistent and accessible over the long term. If my scale company goes out of business in 10 years when this scale eventually fails, I still want to be able to access my weight data without digging up an old app and an old login. And I certainly don’t want to be sitting there flipping through log data on the scale itself, writing down data on a spreadsheet like I used to. So, a modern scale should integrate with your smartphone and store data in a central place which is not specific to that scale manufacturer. As I’m in the Apple ecosystem for mobile devices, that left me looking at devices which sync to Apple Health. So after a bit of research, I settled on the Lepulse electrical impedance body fat measuring scale and have been quite happy with it. As of this writing, it’s priced at $54.99 with a $10 off coupon. (Fair disclosure: that is an affiliate link)

At any rate, the scale’s app on my phone collects data from the scale over bluetooth, then passes the data to Apple Health for storage. Even if the scale dies and the app ceases to exist, that data will remain in Apple Health for me to access years down the road if my doctor wants to see long term trends in my body weight or other metrics. I will say that the scale occasionally gets out of sync with the app and won’t transfer measurements (but it will still take them and upload them when it can talk to the app again). Closing the app and re-entering it has, so far, always resolved that problem for me and the stored measurements get downloaded right away.

At any rate, we’ve established why I went with the LePulse. Now we get to what I do in order to take this admittedly imperfect measuring system (i.e. all body fat impedance measurement scales, not just the LePulse) and get consistent results out of them.

The human body varies a lot over the course of a day, especially as you eat, drink, etc. So my own routine is to weigh and scan every morning after I first get up. I will not eat or drink anything first, but I will use the bathroom first if needed. I always sleep in pajama pants and a t-shirt, so the variance introduced by clothing is perhaps in the ounces territory. If I switch times and weigh in at mid-day, or before bed, the graph of my weight is very inconsistent, and is only useful when viewed as weekly averages or whatnot. But when I’m doing weigh-in as the first thing in the morning, my results are reasonably consistent. It may never agree with my doctor’s office scale, but that has more to do with the 10 pounds of stuff in my cargo pants than anything else.

At any rate, the Lepulse scale integrates with Apple Health on my iPhone and stores my metrics, which are then accessible to other programs I’ve connected to Apple Health. If I go to a doctor’s office, I can show weight data over a several month period to prove that I’m making progress and no, you don’t need to try to sell me on a radical vegetarian diet.

As for the body fat numbers, I wish to revisit the point of consistency I brought up earlier… if the scale says 25% when you were first scanned, then 23% two months later with numerous progressively lowering data points in between, you very likely have actually lost fat. Does that mean that the initial reading was accurate? Or the later one? Probably neither one were accurate! But it is almost certainly correct that you have gone down in body fat percentage, if you have been doing your part with measuring consistently and trusting a trend, not one data point here or there. And should the scale start to indicate that you’re going up in body fat percentage over a time period, that is probably a solid indicator that something is wrong.


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