How Little Data changed my life
In my work life I am driven by data around the businesses I have responsibility for. Whether it’s revenue, traffic, clicks, dollars saved, data is a big part of how I understand things. It gives me the ability in a digital world to follow trends, track objectives, experiment with new ideas to improve metrics and know whether myself and my team are making things better or worse.
Late last year after a visit to the doctor’s office for a checkup that was long over due, I discovered my cholesterol was through the roof. High enough that even determining risk factors for heart conditions was not possible. My thoughts immediately turned to my beautiful family and especially my daughter who just turned two in April. After getting to my forties and fairly certain I was not going to have a family, I met the one. I knew it from the moment I met her. We have been married for three years now. We had a perfect, beautiful, fun and smart little girl that neither of us thought we would have. I can’t imagine not being there for as long as I possibly can. Doing everything it takes to be there for them and also to enjoy every moment with the people I love.
So I immediately started taking stock of my lifestyle. Diet needed to change. Activity levels were at an all time low brought on by my long commutes in a car to work, long hours and running out of hours in the day. Getting my diet back on track was fairly easy and my weight dropped quickly. Then as 2014 started I decided I also needed to get my fitness levels back on track or I would be eating salad and grilled chicken for ever. I started slowly by working out on a stationary bike every other day. I committed myself to getting up at 6AM every day to get a few extra hours. I also wanted to support my wife in getting some time in the mornings too for her own goals. So on days I wasn’t working out, I still got up at 6AM and hung out with my daughter. The gym was monotonous. It was something that had to be done, but not something that I was excited about.
In February we took a much needed break together to sunny Florida. While there I committed myself to still staying active. The gym was about 2-3 km from where we were staying. I walked the first day to go see what they had in the gym. I used an app for that! My first Little Data. It told me how far I walked, calories, speed, route. I had a first taste of Little Life Data KPI’s. The next day as my personality is want to do, I wanted to improve my life KPI’s. I went for a run. Sort of. Ran two minutes, gasped, ran when I stopped gasping and repeated for 5km or so. But my numbers were better! My brother-in-law then said he would come with me the next day. Well now I had to do it again. I was sore from the day before, but went out again, smartphone in hand running my KPI collector apps and some tunes to keep me distracted. Data said I did slightly better again.
Since then I have run almost 500km, burned 48,000 calories, lost 20lbs (40lbs since the journey began last year). I can now run over 10km at a not bad pace and log about 25km per week on the road. Each day I see in numbers that I am running faster, farther and becoming stronger. I feel antsy if I don’t run because I wonder if my KPI’s will go backwards. I need to see the graph and the numbers get better! I enjoy the feeling after especially the long runs. There is also a certain meditative state to keeping moving for an hour or more and willing yourself not to stop. I look at my watch and it tells me my heart rate at the time which I now know what that means for my ability to keep the pace up or if I can push a bit more. It also instantly tells me how fast I’m going and how much farther I have to run to get to my goal for the day. The Personal Records keep improving every few weeks.
I get home and plug-in my watch and look at my dashboards updated for the day. I see the data of friends who inspire me to keep improving as well. It’s my new daily habit that I believe is now going be a life habit. Little Data tells me every day that I’m doing better. Instant feedback.