There's less of me to love since I bought a smart scale

WiThings Scale
By Kevin Michaluk on 23 Jun 2014 11:29 am
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MobileFitUnfortunately, the less of me to love is only correlated to my purchase of a smart scale. Buying a Withings Smart Body Analyzer scale did not make me shed pounds whatsoever. In fact, I have owned my Withings scale for almost four years, and it's only now in the last six months where I've really experience a significant transformation of my body.

The weight loss finally came when I made the decision to change my lifestyle - fixing the way I look at food and consume it (biggest difference: eat more veggies, consume less sugar), and making sure I set aside some time every single day for physical activity.

That being the case, I still think investing in a smart scale is one of the absolute smartest purchases you can make. In another #mobilefit article we'll explore the best smart scales on the market today - in this quick editorial I want to tell you how it helped me and why I think it's a no-brainer to have one in your household.

Weighing in... my adventure

For me, the single biggest advantage of owning my Withings scale has been the ease of tracking my weight over time, and when I hit a weigh that's at the upper end of where I want to be, making sure to get back on track. Back in my early university days, I weighed in at 176lbs. I was in pretty good shape — I loved hitting the gym — but all I wanted to be was 185lbs and buff. In other words, I wanted to pack on 10lbs of lean muscle and I'd have the lean / muscular look I was aiming for. At that point in my life though, I couldn't seem to pack on that muscle weight I wanted. I'd eat a like an elephant and lift weights like crazy, but it didn't seem to help.

Then in my later university years, when things got BUSY for me (I was into business plan competitions and traveling a lot, also launching a medical device startup while still a student), my time in the gym dropped to nil. I guess I didn't change my diet though (which still involved eating a lot), and somehow all of a sudden I overshot my lean 185lbs goal and weighed in at a flabby-ish 195lbs. Ever since I said goodbye to the 170's, I have yet to see them again. Stupid me. I should have been happy with where I was at.

Over the next few years I mainly kept things in check, yo-yo'ing up and down as my ability to put in time at the gym varied (I never tried too hard on a keeping a clean diet...I liked food and booze too much). I owned one of those Tanita bodyfat scales which calculated body fat off of impedance. It was a smart scale in its day, but not yet WiFi connected. I'd keep a notepad in my room so I could write down the date and my weight. I wasn't a slave to weighing in though, and my consistency in tracking was hit and miss.

When Withings announced the world's first WiFi enabled scale, I was sold on the concept. The ability to now automatically keep a log of my weigh-ins was a no-brainer. And better yet, the ability to create a publicly-accessible URL would help me to keep things honest in a socially-connected world. You can see my weight chart from 2010 until now below. And, you can always follow along in your web browser at http://connected.ly/kevinsweight

Kevin's Weight

When I first got the scale I went on a pretty good weight loss run, but the chaotic life of being a tech blogger eventually caught up with me and the weight started creeping back back up. The difference this time with owning the WiThings scale was that I could much more clearly see it happening. I couldn't just ignore a heavy weigh in. It was always there. So to keep me from falling off the bandwagon, I gave myself a really firm rule. No matter how crazy things get, no matter how much traveling I do and restaurants I eat out at, I never want to be more than 205lbs. I gave myself an upper weight limit.

The difference this time with owning the WiThings scale was that I could much more clearly see it happening. I couldn't just ignore a heavy weigh in. It was always there.

That one rule combined with the smart scales tracking really worked. On the occasions when I hit or exceeded that 205lb weigh in, I immediately cleaned up my act and brought things back down into check. Looking back at the chart, I actually remember my heaviest weigh-ins fondly. One was when I came home from Adam Zeis' bachelor party weekend in Montreal (I ate sooooo much smoked meat and poutine!). And my all-time heaviest weigh in was upon returning home from a glutinous, albeit delicious, week in Italy. Had I not had the WiThings scale to keep me honest these past few years, I really believe I wouldn't have brought things back into check as I always managed to do.

And while it's a topic for another story, 2014 has really been the year I've finally taken control of my lifestyle and the WiThings scale has been awesome to have as I steadily chip down my weight and body fat. Look at the far right of the chart above and you'll see the nice steep drop that is 2014. I'm back consistently in the mid 180's again, and if I want to I know I can drop down to the 170's again. Honestly, I'm now at a point where I'm not even worrying about the scale numbers anymore - I'm in shape, stronger than I've ever been and feel great.

And I think that's the other lesson here. Buying a smart scale should be a benefit - you don't want to become a slave to it. That's not the way I want to live. Everything in moderation, including moderation - sometimes you need to go a little above and beyond and enjoy life. I don't weigh in every single day on it. I weigh in a few times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. For consistency, I usually try and weigh in first thing in the morning (after a morning tinkle). I'm sure there will times when my weight will creep back up on the scale (it's still uber hard for me to keep the diet and working out in check while traveling). The good news is that I've now changed my max weight rule. Instead of 205lbs, it's 190lbs. More than that, and I go into work it off fast mode.

Why wouldn't you make your next scale a smart scale?

Most households have a scale. I can't come up with a single reason why somebody wouldn't make their next scale a smart scale that's WiFi connected. It may cost more than a regular scale, but considering it will last years, the cost-average price difference is minimal and the benefits of tracking are so worth it.

5 comments

bizzyqu

Hey Kevin, how do you think the withings compares to the fitbit aria?

Kevin Michaluk

Honestly, I don't know. As I mentioned, I've used the WiThings one when it came out. Bought it four years ago, been using it ever since, so haven't looked at upgrading yet and haven't done the research.

We do have a buyer's guide coming soon that will highlight all the differences. I think newer ones are better setup for multiple users, etc. And maybe on the software integration side. Aria will work nicer into Fitbit software. WiThings does connect to MyFitnessPal though, which is good.

Godgass

The plan for my wife and I is to get a Withings scale soon. I love the tracking and the guilt and push idea so when we do put on a few, I think we'll be able to take them off quicker. I'm seriously looking at Smartthings as well and it looks like their app works with the Withings scale. Not sure how yet but it shows the logo on their website. And now that their app works with BB10, I'm going to get started. So much to do, so much to spend but so much fun to be had.

davemacd

Why wouldn't I make my next scale a smart scale? Because of the cost. I lost 250 lbs with the help of a dumb scale just fine. I love tech, and I would *love* a Withings scale, but I just can't justify the purchase. Yet.

After dropping all those pounds, I recently added strength training to my workout routine. I had previously been on a cardio-only regimen. I've started to put weight back on, which is alarming. I would feel much better about it if my scale could tell me something, even if only comparatively, about my body fat. You focused mostly on the weight tracking. How is the other information? Do you find it useful?

Kevin Michaluk

Congrats on the weight loss!!

Yeah, it definitely helps track other things too... specifically it calculates your bodyfat. You put in your weight and age and height, and it uses impedance measurements to come up with a bodyfat measurement.

I'm sure the "accuracy" of the reading could be out compared to other methods for measuring bodyfat, but what's helpful is the trend over time. For example, if the scale tells me I'm 18% bodyfat, maybe in reality I'm actually 20% or 16%. That doesn't really matter so much - what matters is that it's consistent in this measurement. And I've found that as long as you do your measurements in similar conditions (first thing in the morning after you wake up is easiest), then it definitely is consistent.