Retrofit Blog

Self Monitoring

Embrace the data to shed the weight

October 30, 2013

When you tell people you work at a tech-based startup company, they assume that you spend your days rolling around an open office space with your MacBook Pro wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I'm guilty as charged, and it's pretty awesome. Because of the open floor plan at the Retrofit office, I'm often within earshot of our CEO, Jeff Hyman, as he's discussing Retrofit with potential investors or clients. Usually, at some point in the conversation he says, "you can't manage what you don't measure." Jeff is right, and this is why self-monitoring is a key component of the Retrofit program and weight loss in general.

Most behavioral weight-loss programs require goal setting and self-monitoring. Psychologist Frederick Kanfer, who built the foundation for many self-management theories practiced today, believed that changing habits and behavior depended on self-regulatory skills. Regulating behavior is easier with a frame of reference. Therefore, monitoring oneself facilitates better self-regulation, which ultimately results in behavior change. Research has shown that self-monitoring of weight, activity, and/or dietary intake translates to weight loss under the right conditions.1

Self-monitoring can improve your health, and it's easier than ever with modern technology. There are many devices and applications on the market that assist with meal, activity, and/or weight tracking. They range from free smart phone applications to silly GPS sunglasses with heads-up displays. With a growing Quantified Self movement and celebrity Tweets about daily step counts, more and more people are purchasing self-monitoring devices. Sure, you can self-monitor via a paper diary, but it's tedious, not as effective, and the cool kids aren't doing it.

These self-monitoring devices play a vital role in significant and sustained weight loss. Self-monitoring is a statistically significant component of the Retrofit program. More consistent activity and weight monitoring increases Retrofit clients' odds of reaching weight loss goals. Buying the technology is easy, but using it everyday, aggregating and analyzing its data, and developing goals around it are not.

At Retrofit, we have integrated the use of Fitbit activity trackers, Withings scales, and really cool proprietary food and exercise logging software to help clients understand how their everyday decisions affect their health. This technology is paired with personal support from the best weight loss experts in the industry.

Self-monitoring may not have the same effect on everyone, but I don't think it hurts anyone to be more mindful of his or her actions. At Retrofit, weight loss starts with self-monitoring. Like Jeff says, "you can't manage what you don't measure."

1Lora E Burke, Jing Wang, and Mary Ann Sevick, "Self-monitoring in Weight Loss: a Systematic Review of the Literature," Journal of the American Dietetic Association 111, no. 1 (January 2011): 92-102, doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.10.008.

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Buck Hanson Research Analyst

Buck has a background in public health research and evidence-based medicine. Prior to working at Retrofit, he held positions at the American Dental Association and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Buck believes beer always tastes better after a long bike ride or a day of skiing.

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