Friday, November 29, 2013

Withings WS-50 scale: Weightwatching made easy

Before this I've been using mechanical scale and logged my weights to Openoffice's spreadsheets, but not very diligently. It was obvious that if the measurement process is too difficult, I will not do it often enough.

To do the weight watching correctly, I should meticulously log my weight daily so I could see the effects of diet and exercising more clearly. There's always a little fluctuation in your weight so measuring daily you are able to see the "noise" and filter it out of the results. If you don't want the measure daily, you can do the measurements once a month, but then take measurements for a couple of days and get the your average weight.

There's was an article in a Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat about Quantified Self and self-measuring and they mentioned Withings's smart scale that sends measurements straight into Withings's website. I found this scale, Withings WS-50, on a Finnish online store  They had also the cheaper version WS-30 for sale but WS-50 measures also body fat percentage, pulse, air quality (Co2) and temperature. Becaus of this WS-50 was 30 euros more expensive than WS-30. The price for WS-50 was 160 euros.

It was a bit pricey for a scale but how much will I save time and effort when every measurement is automatically logged? For a long-term investment the price is not so bad, especially if I can control my weight better with it. I didn't feel myself overweight because I do exercise, mainly kite surfing, kayaking, rollerblading, and jogging. But there was still some potbelly visible. It was a one of the big disappointments of life when I discovered having no potbelly was not a result of my superior genes but simply because I was younger then...

So I went to pick up the scale as soon as possible from At first, I installed it in a way that the scale sent the measurents to my Android tablet, and from there they were transferred to Withings's website. It turned out to be a stupid solution because I would have to open the Android application each time for synchronization. So I connected the scale directly to my Wi-Fi network from which it then automatically synchronizes data to Withings's website.

Due to air quality measurements you should place the scale in bedroom, if you intend to measure the air quality of the bedroom as I do. I installed the device in late June, and since then I've gotten into the habit weigh in every morning. At least not yet that has not caused any 'dont-want-to'-reactions because all I have to do is step on the scale. Then I just stand for half a minute when the scale takes all the measurements: weight, body fat and heart rate, and then shows air quality information from the last night.

At the same time I started to reduce the carbohydrates even though I do not follow strict low-carbohydrate-diet. In hindsight, it would have been more interesting to start the measuring before changing the diet to be able to compare the changes, but on the other hand, why wait?

A change of diet was clearly influencing my weight, and daily measurements allow to distinguish clearly between the larger trend and "the noise". From midsummer onwards I have lost about 8 pounds and I have not felt I have been "weightwatching". Rice was left out and I changed the pasta to whole-wheat pasta​​. I still eat kebab but now with salad instead of pita bread. So quite small changes all in all.

Body fat percentage is now what I try to focus on. Body fat percentage measurement is not very reliable and it's not worth staring at the absolute values, but rather what kind of change there's between measurements, the relative values. Body fat percentage also varies quite a bit between measurements. If I have slept badly, usually I have a mild dehydration in the morning, which increases body fat measurements and decreases the weight measurements. Therefore, for example, the latest measurement shows now the lowest weight of all time and at the same time a high fat percentage.

There's isn't a direct rule, however, between dehydration, weight and fat percentageI used still my "old-fashioned" spreadsheet and I calculated the weight and fat percentage figures how much the values ​​of today differ from the long-term average (value - weekly average). Then I made a correlation diagram between weight and fat percentage but, at least visually, I did not found any strong correlation between the two measurements.

Body fat percentage has, therefore, also dropped as it should be, but all the weight loss does not appear to have come from fat reduction, but also from reduction of muscle. If those figures are to be trusted.

Air quality metrics are shown as curves of night temperatures and carbon dioxide concentration i.e. how well air exchanges.
For me this was definitely money's worth because I can now see almost in real time how the diet and exercise changes will affect my body. Before this I wasn't measuring these things as meticulously as now precisely because of the
"trouble" of manual logging. It will be interesting to see where the weight settles with the current way of living.

Similar experiences has also Matthew Ames in Vimeo video. His weight fell about 6 pounds each month. He also measured his body weight daily like me, and his weight decrease was also aided by increased physical activity.

Matthew Ames - One Small Step on the Scale

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