Saturday, June 21, 2014

Self-diagnosis through Data Analysis

I've been pouring over data in a first-pass effort to make sense of any trends.  I have been keeping an Excel file with dates and weights since I started training at 24 Hour Fitness in Tempe, AZ.  The trainer I had there encouraged me to measure myself with a cloth tape.  I kept track of these readings: bust, waist, hips, thigh, calf.  I don't know why I didn't keep doing that.  I also looked for my records of success with Weight Watchers, which I did in 2001 and 2002, but they seem to have vanished into the cloud of data that will never be seen again.  The top panel shows simple weight versus time.  The panel at bottom left (pie charts) shows percentage of calories burned in various workout types.  The panel at bottom right shows distance (in miles, red) and Calories burned (green) with workouts that have been tracked using MapMyRide.  I marked some big milestones of my cycling adventures with arrows.

The pie charts were created by selecting regions of the top scatterplot where the weight trend was going down (success) or up (gains).  I calculated the number of workouts per month and divided that by the number of months included in the pie chart.  

In 2011, for example, I had a period of success in the summer months where I was working out almost every day.  I devoted about half of my calories burned to cycling and about 33% to running.  Less than half my workouts were cycling and about 40% were running.  

Another time I had success was in 2009 where 75% of my calories and workouts were cycling.  Here about 20% of calories and workouts were running.  About 5% of my workouts included yoga.  Even though I was not working out every day, I was getting rides in that were at a high level of intensity.  I was doing hill training and long distance rides on Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday.

One period where I gained weight in 2011, I was only cycling 70% of the time, which accounted for 58% of my weight loss.  This may mean that although I was riding regularly, it was at a lower intensity.  I was running 15% of the time, which accounted for 23% of calories burned.  About 5% of my workouts were devoted to toning and yoga, including adult ballet.  These two categories together accounted for 15% of my calories burned.  This was despite working out about 5 days a week.

In 2014 so far, 77% of my calories have been burned cycling, attributed to 67% of my workouts.  I have been burning 15% of calories in toning (Zumba) and only 1% of my workouts have been yoga.  Only 5% of my workouts have been running though, accounting for 5% of my calories burned.  I have been doing a larger percentage of walking, 5% of workouts, which has had a negligible impact on overall calories burned.  I have been working out only about every other day.

The conclusions that I can draw from this analysis is to get in more runs and work out more days per week.  I could also try to increase the intensity of my bike rides.  I could also try more long walks.  And it would be nice to return to bicycle commuting.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Please watch and share this video!  It is part of a competition to communicate science to the public.  Semifinalists will be awarded travel funding to the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco (August 2014).  Judging criteria includes quality and number of views.  Thanks!