4A-HEALTHY-BMI   40,920
40,000-49,999 SparkPoints
4A-HEALTHY-BMI's Recent Blog Entries

Measuring % body fat

Friday, April 01, 2011

My own personal philosophy is to

1) get the BMI below 30, and then
2) focus on dropping body fat.

The problem is, how do you actually *measure* body fat? It's elusive.

Here's a nice synopsis on Wikipedia:

Here's an interactive web tutorial on some methods:
(Calipers aren't mentioned in this one.)

Leigh Peele wrote a very nice post about the topic:

The pictures in there are especially helpful.

James Krieger wrote a really really in-depth series of 7 columns about the relative pros and cons of different methods for figuring out % body fat:

The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurementť: Part 1

The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement: Part 2

"The bottom line is that underwater weighing can give good results when looking at group averages, but not so good results when looking at individuals. The sad thing is that underwater weighing is actually the best method out of the 2-compartment models. Other methods, including the Bod Pod, BIA, and skinfolds, are significantly worse."

The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement, Part 3: Bod Pod

"The Bod Pod does OK when looking at group averages, with some studies showing error rates of around 2%; however, other studies have indicated average error rates of over 5%. The individual error rate for the Bod Pod can be unacceptably high in some individuals, and the Bod Pod is horrible for tracking change over time. For these reasons I would recommend against using the Bod Pod as a body composition assessment tool. Hydrostatic weighing, despite some of its problems, is much more reliable."

The Pitfalls of Bodyfat Measurement, Part 4: Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA)

"BIA can be problematic because it’s a prediction based off of a prediction, so the error gets compounded. When you look at group averages for BIA measurements, there tends to be bias, with BIA often underpredicting how much fat you have. As with other techniques, the individual error rates can get high, with some research showing error rates of around 8-9%. In fact, BIA doesn’t do much better than BMI at predicting body fat in some cases. When it comes to measuring change over time, BIA can often underpredict the amount of fat loss, and the estimated change can be off by up to 8%.

For all of these reasons, I am not a fan of BIA for measuring body composition in individuals. If you are going to use BIA for tracking body composition over time, I recommend very long time intervals between measurements (at least 3 months, but 6 months is probably better), as the error rate for BIA can be larger than the changes in body fat in you see. Whatever numbers you do get using BIA, always remember they are very rough predictions….and I emphasize very rough."

The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement, Part 5: Skinfolds

"Like BIA, skinfolds can be way off when it comes to determining body fat percentage in individuals. When it comes to tracking change over time in groups, then skinfolds do pretty well. However, errors for tracking change in individuals over time can be up to 3-5%. Thus, if you are going to use skinfolds for tracking a single person over time, I recommend very long time intervals between measurements (minimum of 3 months but 6 months is better); otherwise, the error rate is higher than the change that you can see. In fact, I recommend against even calculating a body fat percentage. If skinfold thicknesses are going down, then you are likely losing fat."

The Pitfalls of Body Fat “Measurementť, Part 6: Dual-Energy X-Ray
Absorptiometry (DEXA)

"Despite the fact that DEXA represents a 3-compartment model, its error rates are no better than hydrostatic weighing, and in some cases is worse. Like other techniques, DEXA does well when looking at group averages, but not so well when looking at individuals. Individual error rates tend to hover around 5%, although some studies have shown error rates as high as 10%. When looking at change over time in individuals, error rates have hovered around 5% in some research, although other research has indicated DEXA to perform much more poorly. For these reasons, I do not recommend DEXA for tracking change over time in individuals. If you do use DEXA for tracking change over time, I recommend very long time periods between measurements (a minimum of 3-6 months), as you will need a minimum of a 5% change in body fat to reliably detect a true change in body fat in most people."

The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement, The Final Chapter

"Body fat testing isn’t useless, but you do need to be careful in how you interpret the results." "For extremely obese people, I recommend simple body weight and circumference measurements."


According to him, hydrostatic weighing (NOT Bod Pod) and DXA are the most accurate. For following trends in % body fat he recommends calipers or if you're extremely obese, a plain old measuring tape.

For those of us who have weighed over 300 lbs, our bones are likely to be extremely dense (we're weight-lifting all the time just by walking around), so DXA is probably a better bet than hydrostatic weighing if you want to go either of those routes. I had a DXA scan done Jan '10 and at that point they said my bones were 25% denser than average.

I checked my Tanita BIA scale against the DXA % body fat measurement and discovered that if the scale was set to "athlete" mode the readings matched exactly.

So for now I'm just going with what my scale says, although BIA is not supposed to be very accurate. I'm averaging the daily measurements over at physicsdiet.com.

Although DXA is the technology used on the Biggest Loser to assess % body fat, many people still do not know about it. Here is a nice PDF article by Mary Oates summarizing its use, with pictures:

So, where can you get a DXA scan done?

If you live west of the Continental Divide you can probably find a sports medicine or wellness center that will do it, if you just use Google Maps and search for "DXA" and "DEXA."

If you live in the East, it seems to generally be a bit trickier. You'll need to contact the radiology or imaging departments at a few local hospitals to find out if they 1) have the right machines (GE Lunar or Hologic) and 2) if they will even do a whole body scan (many places just use DXA for bone density testing and either don't know they can or don't choose to provide whole body composition analyses).

Once you've found a place that knows what you are talking about, you can bring the above Oats PDF article to your physician and ask for an order for the scan.

There aren't any lists anywhere of facilities that provide DXA body composition analysis, so I've started compiling one. The list of places that have responded so far is here:

If you know of a place that does it, or any lists where people collect that kind of information, please have them fill out this form here, so we can find more places:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JEANKNEE 5/25/2014 10:02PM

    Thanks for directing me to your post. Your support is appreciated.


Report Inappropriate Comment
VTRICIA 4/26/2013 11:31AM

    Awesome info! The bod pod seems like such a good idea, shame it doesn't pan out. They could probably make it a lot more effective by making it more like a steel can, but that would probably freak people out.

Comment edited on: 4/26/2013 11:33:04 AM

Report Inappropriate Comment
OOLALA53 10/28/2011 7:16AM

    I've had the underwater weighing and DEXA ( at San Diego State University.) DEXA was a lot easier! But it's expensive. I have a Tanita scale, but I know it's way off. I also used calipers. Though they many not be accurate, they certainly seemed to match the changes that happened in my body over the year I used them. They are harder to use, but cheap and available.

Don't you wonder how they can test the accuracy of the tests?


Report Inappropriate Comment
HOUNDLOVER1 10/27/2011 2:28PM

    Thanks for all the detailed info. Makes me wonder if a tape measure and a mirror isn't easier. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
LJR4HEALTH 7/27/2011 3:43PM

    Thank you for that detailed info I knew that all of the test are estimates I always thought the test in the water was most accurate learned something new today

Report Inappropriate Comment
KAYOTIC 4/3/2011 2:06PM

    Great stuff here, gives me a new perspective on this type of measurement. I've been trying to lower my body fat % for years, and just seem stuck, and the tool of measurement is BIA (since that's what I have easy access to), I've also only been tracking infrequently, so maybe that's been a good thing. It's just not moving at all, but then again, I'm in maintenance, and my program isn't changed all that much either. I've recently upped my strength training so hopefully next time I get on that scale I'll see some difference.

Thanks for all this info!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MADABOUTCATS 4/2/2011 5:31PM

    My physical therapist has been measuring me monthly and it's proving to be a great motivational tool. I lost over 5 inches total last month, but the numbers on the scale are going down at a snail's pace now. I know my clothes are getting looser and I have bags more energy, so that's good enough for me. :-) Thanks for the post. Will check into the DXA technology here in England. Did it cost a lot to have it done in the States? Susan emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 4/2/2011 12:56PM

I know, right? Who would have thought (or even wanted to believe) that a measuring tape could be preferable than any of these high tech methods?

Go figure.

Like you said in the related thread, I'm going to continue using BIA because it's there. But I'm not going to believe it beyond an 8-9% margin of error.

If you find any facilities around you that do this, please have them add themselves to the list! :-)

Comment edited on: 4/2/2011 12:58:44 PM

Report Inappropriate Comment
GRACEFULIFE 4/2/2011 12:53PM

    Actually, Krieger suggested not even converting the skinfold measurements to body fat percentage. He suggested using the sum of all the skinfold measurements as a figure of merit. I intend to shift to that and circumference measurements for tracking how my plan is working.

I've debated about summing the skinfolds vs. using them individually, and I will see how they look once I start having them taken regularly again. I suppose summing them does eliminate some of the random error in individual measurements, and also the "fat comes off in sheets" rule of thumb would indicate that the sum of the skinfolds would be the best measurement of fat loss progress.

However, all that only really applies to someone in a fairly normal range of body fat. For an obese person, circumference measurements are probably the best tracking method.

None of which is, of course, what I'd have said a year ago.

Report Inappropriate Comment
JESPAH 4/2/2011 9:38AM

    Interesting. Hologic is based here (I know one of their Directors). Maybe they have more machines here as well.

Thanks for the info!

Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 4/1/2011 1:15PM


According to Krieger the Bod Pod is not any better than calipers for accuracy and significantly worse for tracking changes in % body fat...

Report Inappropriate Comment
250STRONG 4/1/2011 1:08PM

    Great info! I just did a BodPod assessment yesterday. It was only $25 at my local university sports medicine dept. Definitely more accurate than calipers or bio-impedence (over 30% body fat).

Report Inappropriate Comment

Rotator cuff. :-(

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The one really important joint for kayaking is the shoulder. The one thing you don't want to mess up is your rotator cuff.

Guess what I hurt when I fell snowboarding on Sunday? Yeah.

^%$#@!! off-season sports.

Doc says to stay off it 8-10 days and if it's not better by then to get an MRI.

Which means I won't be going to West Virginia to paddle this weekend as I'd planned.

So now I get to satisfy myself with indoor cycling. Weight lifting is going to be kind of out, until the shoulder is better. Except for stuff I can do with my left hand I suppose. I'll ask my PT when I see him tomorrow.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 3/31/2011 10:01AM


Treat yourself well, dolling.

Report Inappropriate Comment

    yikes owwww and oh bgguer, that sckus maybe i can send my top half to you and the two(halves) can have fun while the rest of (us ) heals and gets on with it. Still hopefully it will not be major and in 10 days its will all be good news! Fingers crossed emoticon emoticon At least you can work out your frustrations on the bike, i'm only allowed to do 10mins bike twice a day, and no weights above 2kg which doesnt really cut it. Oh well here's thinking healing thoughts for you, on your bike and off course what they all tell me
NODI(no overdoing it ) rules emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
JUDYK17 3/29/2011 9:52PM

    Hope it gets better soon, make sure you give it the rest it needs.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MONIEE2 3/29/2011 6:59PM

    A big OUCH!!! Take care of yourself, I have a problem with my rotator cuff & it is no joke. I am amazed at your weight loss journey!!! You go girl!!!





Report Inappropriate Comment
ELYMWX 3/29/2011 4:57PM

    Ouch. And that's all I can say. Take care...

Report Inappropriate Comment
CARRIE1948 3/29/2011 3:02PM

    So sorry. The good news is you get to bike

Report Inappropriate Comment
GEE-KNEE 3/29/2011 1:29PM

    I hope it gets better soon, so you can get back to doing the things you love.

Report Inappropriate Comment
FRECKS96 3/29/2011 1:15PM

    Ugh, good luck!

Report Inappropriate Comment
GRACEFULIFE 3/29/2011 1:07PM

    Right... that and the knee thing puts lunge/squat/deadlift out... core work involving the arms like plank holds or rollouts is out.... sucks. But you could do left-handed swings and snatches.

I'm totally sorry for you... keep us up to date on how it heals.

Report Inappropriate Comment
WOLFKITTY 3/29/2011 11:15AM

    Eek! Sorry to hear it, but I'm sending you get well wishes. Maybe the PT will straighten things out. I kinda have a pain in my should blade after doing a 2 hour Zumba party class on Sunday. I think I was just a little too enthusiastic with my dancing. Not nearly as serious as your injury, but I'm trying to stretch it and treat it well until that goes away.

Best of luck, my friend!

Report Inappropriate Comment
VEEJAY3 3/29/2011 10:44AM

    I'm a swimmer, and when my shoulder continued to twinge for MONTHS after a bad fall, I was sure I'd torn something in my rotator cuff and would need surgery. Saw my massage therapist, and he said 'let's give it three sessions, and if it's still hurting, you have to get that MRI".

Three (painful!!!! owwweeee!!) sessions later, I was back to my mile-a-day swim with no pain whatsoever.

I hope your injury is an easy fix ... think about massage therapy if you don't already use it. Best of luck ... I HATE to be on the injured reserve list right when the weather turns beautiful!!!


Report Inappropriate Comment
DDOORN 3/29/2011 10:29AM

    Oof! What a double-edge sword our "fun" can be...!


Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 3/29/2011 10:29AM

    I like my PT. He's good. But I wish I didn't need to go there at all. I already lift weights, see a trainer, etc.

I think I'll pick his brain about kayak-specific stuff. My trainer hasn't been so helpful for that; she's more into all-round fitness, which is OK but doesn't focus on my favored sport.

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 3/29/2011 10:26AM


I can relate to injuries, it just sucks. No other way about it.

Report Inappropriate Comment
AHEALTHIERME44 3/29/2011 10:25AM

    Sorry to hear about your shoulder injury! This really hits home for me because I took a serious fall at work and hurt my left shoulder last July. Definitely see your PT asap as he can help you with exercises that will help you keep it moving. When I went I found that the mobilization and ultrasound were really helpful the first couple of weeks especially. We gradually worked up to strengthening and now I am stronger then ever! I still have days when it bothers me but it does not limit what I do anymore.
Hang in there!! It takes time but you will be out kayaking soon.
Way to find other activities in the mean time :)

Report Inappropriate Comment

Similarities between managing a huge weight loss and eating disorders

Friday, March 18, 2011

PATTILYNN224 and I have been discussing perceptions of this weight loss process and body dysmorphia, etc.

Something about her questions cut down right to the heart of the matter in a way that made me want to share my answers here.

The conversation started when she commented on the photo of me going over Ohiopyle Falls

When you started your journey to better health did you know you were going to get to the place you're at now or were you just hopeful?

I had NO IDEA I'd start doing something crazy like whitewater kayaking.

At the very beginning I would have been thrilled to just get my weight under 300. Seriously. LOL

When it went under 200 I was shocked and amazed.

And when I got my % body fat between 17 and 19 last year (which is technically "athlete" range) I really didn't believe it.

I still have trouble thinking of myself as an athlete, but I'm working on it. It takes a lot longer to change what's inside your head than it does to lose the weight.
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31489881/ns/ health-womens_health

Thanks for the link. I guess because I am so far away from that point in my life I never really considered those things. Thanks for the flip side. It's an eye opener. I wonder if that is how some fall into becoming anorexic?

If I were focused more on body weight and less on athletic performance (my strength to weight ratio i.e. lean muscle versus fat), I can easily see how I could slip into some kind of anorexia. There are a lot of similarities between the process of losing a massive amount of weight and having an eating disorder.

In order to make a change this big in my life I've had to go to some extremes in terms of control. (They don't call it "morbidly" obese for nothing - that sh1t will kill you - so I figure it's a matter of life and death to keep it off.) I weigh almost everything I eat and, I log my weight and percent body fat daily at physicsdiet.com.

I log my cardio exercise with a heart rate monitor and try to get an adequate number of strength training sessions per week and I lift heavy. At the moment I'm aiming for two workouts per day at least three days M-F to support the long, hard kayking and snowboarding sessions on the weekends I do for fun.

It didn't start out this way - at first all I did was log my food and walking/water aerobics/weight lifting at SP and weigh myself once a week. I wasn't concerned with my macronutrient ratios or my % body fat. I was just excited to see the pounds dropping and hoped to go down a size in clothes and maybe one day be out of ordering 3X and 4X sizes online and be able to shop in the 1X and 2X sizes in actual stores.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 6/26/2012 10:26PM

    This is a great blog about eating disorders and weight loss maintenance. It's amazing how our minds work in similar paths . . . or maybe I'm coming along the path a bit later!! Thanks for the link!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
GRACEFULIFE 3/21/2011 10:30AM


Report Inappropriate Comment
LADYGWEN25 3/21/2011 8:20AM

    I agree there's a fine line.. and i think it all has to do with mindset like 4A and Gracefullife said.. If your mindset is one that working out every days leads to a more productive lifestyle through playing sports, activities, enjoying your kid more.. then you're on the right track.. If you mindset comes down to scrutinizing every single bite of food to the tenth on the scale .. or even a fixation of how much you're eating to how much you're working out.. You could have the start of a problem.

Report Inappropriate Comment
FRECKS96 3/21/2011 7:57AM

    Thanks for sharing. I had a conversation with my mom this weekend that touched on a similar topic. It's always good to be reminded of what we need to be mindful of.

Report Inappropriate Comment
ANNE7X7 3/20/2011 8:43PM

    Thank you for sharing this!! I've been pondering this a lot, and your thoughts on it are super interesting!

Report Inappropriate Comment
KAZINMICH 3/20/2011 1:51PM

    I struggle emotionally with my weight and worry that no matter what I do I'll be stuck at this weight the rest of my life. Or I worry I will have to go so overboard to be healthy it will take over my life. I don't want to do 2 or 3 workouts a day, I don't want my life to be work, workout, cook, clean, sleep. My body keeps revolting over the one workout I try to get done. I refuse to give up despite my physical ailments. It took a drastic overhaul of my diet, and adding in exercise to lose what i lost, but its very hard to tell that I lost close to 40 lbs already.

Report Inappropriate Comment
DDOORN 3/19/2011 10:49PM

    Thank you for sharing both the conversation AND the link...I can attest to that article applying to men as well!


Report Inappropriate Comment
KAYOTIC 3/19/2011 4:19PM

    What a wonderful accomplishment, and the journey you are on is inspiring!

It sounds like you have found a great balance in working out and having fun, this should serve you well in your new life as an athlete!

Report Inappropriate Comment
GRACEFULIFE 3/19/2011 10:43AM

    "If you're at a healthy BMI and you're beating yourself up over the scale number, you're treading in dangerous water."

I disagree, mainly because I believe that having a larger amount of muscle mass can readily put you into the "overweight" BMI range. If you define "healthy BMI" as "up to 30" as 4A has to me before then I retract my point.

I read an article from one of the notable trainers online in which a client commented that when they'd been obese, they'd "never thought of themselves as someone who can exercise". And that's a real key. The switch from that to "I love what lifting heavy does to my body" or "I'd love to go shred today" or getting up saying "Oh cool, today I get to go kayak class IV" is a sea change, and that is really what a healthy lifestyle is about.

I didn't even pull off a huge transformation like 4A, but even for me it was a big deal to say "OK now I am quite fit, I don't care so much about my weight". Since the bottom I've gained about 15 pounds... thing is, I gained like 10 of it nearly instantly after I began weight training and my size barely changed. I'm significantly smaller than the last time I was at this weight. I'm trying to cut some again, but the difference is that this tme it's not something I'd gnaw my arm off for. Now it's just another thing I'd like to have happen, eventually.

Comment edited on: 3/19/2011 12:27:27 PM

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 3/19/2011 10:05AM

    I think you made the VERY important transition from being focused on the scale to more practical goals like athletic performance. If you get fixated on the scale number, you're flirting with eating disorder territory. The only way to make the scale continuously go down is to eat less and exercise more. Once you are at a healthy weight, you really have to get into eating disorder territory to make the scale go down much more. If you're at a healthy BMI and you're beating yourself up over the scale number, you're treading in dangerous water.

Comment edited on: 3/19/2011 10:06:42 AM

Report Inappropriate Comment
JESPAH 3/19/2011 9:45AM

    It does seem to be a fine line/related. Certainly an extreme either way can tip us over.

For some of us, we are here because of somewhat addictive personalities. Being addicted to food, or to weight loss, well, they could perhaps be two sides of one coin.

Report Inappropriate Comment
CARRIE1948 3/19/2011 8:22AM

    All I know is my body perception is radically different from what the world sees. It's not a case of what I monitor or wanting to hit a certain number on the scale or body fat - I simply see myself as fat now when I didn't before. I notice all the places where I still jiggle a little and give fleeting notice to my increased strength and endurance.

Report Inappropriate Comment
WOLFKITTY 3/18/2011 12:16PM

    I know that I've said things before like, "Yeah, I started losing weight and one of the things that appealed to me was that I have 100% control over how I move my body or what I eat". I guess that's one of the things that is a major milestone for anorexia, is that feeling of control. But I don't believe that I behave in a dysfunctional way. I log my food, I eat almost 2,000 calories a day, and since it's working toward being healthier without excessive exercise, it doesn't fall into that category.

I want to keep it like that - an effort to sustain and strengthen life, not squelch it. But I know that people with eating disorders believe that they ARE doing that, sometimes. Isn't it a fine line?


Report Inappropriate Comment

Research Guinea Pig - mobile wellness apps

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So I joined a study as a research subject. It's kind of cool.

They lent me an Android phone for a month and I'm supposed to take a photograph whenever I make a health-related decision, rate it on a scale of -3 to +3, associate an emotion with it, and share it with the other people in the study who are also doing the same thing.

Then we can look at each other's photos and comment on them and have conversations.

Here's the page where the research study is described:

Look at the list of projects on the lower left and click "Vera."

If you don't feel like following the link, here's the blurb about the study:

"A key to behavior change is the ability to intervene at the point of decision. In health behavior, this could be the moment one must decide between taking the elevator or the stairs or whether or not to eat a piece of cake. These are also the moments where it is most difficult to reach people--they occur throughout the day, often randomly, in any location. Fortunately, the ubiquity and awareness of today's mobile phones provides us with a solution. The goal of this project is to explore the use of the mobile phone as a behavioral interrupt: how, at the point of health-related decisions, can we encourage people to take a moment to think about the ramifications of their decision, reflect on past decisions, and ultimately make healthier choices?"

So far I've only had one conversation with someone who posted a picture of her dog (I commented that I thought it looked cute and she said thanks).

It kind of reminds me of the blogs WOLFKITTY was doing for a while where she logged all her food by photograph.

I'm interested to see if it'll help me stay on track, because it often is at the moment of decision that I waver and sometimes end up making choices I regret - especially when it comes to binge eating. I'll let you know how it goes.

It's also kind of neat to have access to a smart phone. My cheapo Tracfone can't do these things. I think I prefer the iPod interface to Android overall, but I could get used to the swipe text entry feature...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4A-HEALTHY-BMI 3/18/2011 2:48PM

I found this on one of the websites for a grad student working on VERA:

How can mobile phones can be used to employ various forms of motivation-both social and individual-to encourage healthy behavior? Intrinsic motivators are innate motivational factors such as competition, cooperation, control, and recognition that have been leveraged to bring about behavior change in many circumstances. Social influence has been shown to play an important role in persuasion and the motivation of behavior change; countless studies, both involving technology and not, have shown that individuals grouped with peers have better results in alcohol and smoking cessation, losing weight, exercising, and even surviving cancer. Through good design, all of these motivational factors can be employed and studied in mobile phone applications. We have developed and pilot-tested a health behavior application called VERA in which users take photos to document health-related behaviors, then rate and reflect on their own behaviors as well as those of their peers. Preliminary data show that individuals using VERA exhibit generally healthier behavior than those who don't, and that individuals using VERA with their peers are healthier yet. Furthermore, VERA collects volumes of highly valuable data, explicitly documenting the day-to-day health-related behavior with associated stress and emotional state of participants. This represents great promise for the use of cell phones as a means of encouraging healthier behaviors related to weight loss and the prevention of obesity.

Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 3/18/2011 12:02PM

I'm not sure either, but like you said, logging works. Perhaps they're just trying to see if an app like this will work for the purposes of logging and how it can be improved. Either way I'm not about to turn down the chance to spend a month being accountable in a different way.

(Or the chance to have a free smart phone for a month. It doesn't do calls or txt but I can access the online river levels, which is sweet for kayaking purposes...)

Here's their manifesto:

"The Interaction Design Lab explores social and technical issues in the design, implementation, and evaluation of information and communication technologies. We conduct research in mobile computing, technologies for health and wellness, social networking, affective computing, design theory, and related areas. Our work seeks to understand how technology can help enable more healthy, socially connected, reflective living."

So perhaps it's just an experiment in how to develop a health decision logging app. Perhaps the real point is to figure out what features make us interact, or to find out how we interact - both with the app and with each other through the app.

Anyway, for the purposes of most research projects it is usually best for the subjects to just follow the instructions without knowing the real questions behind the study. Otherwise we might accidentally bias the results.

Comment edited on: 3/18/2011 12:14:07 PM

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 3/18/2011 12:00PM

    I think people change their behavior(s) when being watched or when they're tracking (food tracking is a great example of that). So I guess I just don't get what they're hoping to accomplish. Maybe I just can't get my head around fuzzy stuff since I deal with machines most of my day.

Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 3/18/2011 11:19AM

My understanding is that we're supposed to pull out the phone and make the decision right there on the spot and log it immediately. That's why they want us using a web-accessible phone. At the moment since I'm still getting used to the idea, I often realize I've already made a critical decision and I log it after the fact.

They surveyed us at the beginning of the study and said they'd survey us again at the end. So I think they're looking for some change in the answers, probably as a perceived effect of using the app.

This is social science, dude. It ain't like the physical sciences we geeks know and love. It's way fuzzy and hard to quantify.
(Since they don't have guinea pig emoticons, the rabbit will have to do.)

I suppose we could pretend this is a rat or hamster or some other sort of lab animal, but it appears to be outside, not in a cage...

...and anyway, white rabbits are typical lab animals.

Comment edited on: 3/18/2011 11:20:57 AM

Report Inappropriate Comment

    So I guess I'm not following entirely. You make a million decisions all day long. Before you make a "critical" decision, you're supposed to pull out the phone? Or do you review your good/bad decisions after the deed is done? It seems to me like this is subject to the uncertainty principle. Or is that the idea? Are they trying to measure you in your 'natural environment' or are they trying to measure if the phone changes your behavior?

Report Inappropriate Comment
WOLFKITTY 3/18/2011 2:46AM

    Hmmmmm!! Interesting!
I can't wait to hear what YOUR analysis is after this!

Report Inappropriate Comment
GRACEFULIFE 3/18/2011 12:29AM

    I have an Android phone now and I'm still getting used to it, but I like it overall. The battery life I don't think I'm happy with though.

I wish I could get in this just so I could watch your stuff, hahaha.

Swype is awesome. So is text entry by speech, with no programming required. Lots of cool stuff in the market, too...

Report Inappropriate Comment

Inexpensive healthy food

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspired by another blog post to share some of my current eating habits.

I frequently buy the big family pack of boneless chicken breasts from Wegmans ($1.99/lb), and with kitchen scissors trim off the remaining bits of fat (those go in a container in the fridge for cat treats). As far as I can tell, Wegmans does not inject this chicken with extra saline.

Then I chop up the breasts with the scissors into manageable pieces and freeze them, in handfuls of pieces, in ziploc bags.

To use I dump the frozen raw chicken pieces into a microwave bowl with some water and cook 'em. Usually it takes about 3 minutes on high, then I poke them apart and cook for 3 more, often adding a can of "Light" soup (Campbell's and Progresso both make soups which have about 150 - 200 calories per can.) Or I just add actual vegetables and seasonings and make soup from scratch. If I have the time I lengthen the second cooking time to 10 or 15 minutes on medium power. The flavor is better and there is less risk of boiling over.

I like to buy these packages of salmon and keep 'em in the freezer. They're individually wrapped, which is convenient. I take one out when I arrive at work and it's usually thawed by lunchtime.

Then I fire up the toaster oven, spread foil on the tray, spray with some olive oil,

sprinkle salt-free lemon pepper, slap that fish on top, sprinkle with more lemon pepper, and broil for 5-10 minutes.

You can do the same thing with shrimp and you don't even have to thaw them first, although I sometimes do. You can also add shrimp to soups. It's one of the lowest-calorie lean protein sources out there.

Sometimes I just microwave the shrimp, stopping every few minutes to dump out the water and move the cold ones in the center to the outside.

Then I dip in Tabasco sauce as I eat them.

I also buy giant Hubbard squash (anywhere from 1-5 dollars each), drop them from chest height on the front stoop to break 'em open, scoop out the seeds, and bake skin-side down for about 3 hours at 350. The seeds go into the bird feeder where the blue jays enjoy them.

Sometimes I rinse the seeds and bake sprinkled with salt-free seasoning. It depends on how ambitious I feel and whether I want a high calorie snack sitting around or not.

When a fork goes in easily and there are lots of nice carmelized edges I scoop the flesh into microwave and freezer friendly containers and freeze them. One squash often yields more than 16 cups of actual food. I think the flavor is superior to other kinds such as butternut.

Then I microwave with seasonings (any kind of alt-free one works) or add a dollop to the chicken soup, above.

Sometimes for dessert I just take the squash cold, add some nutmeg and cinnamon and sugar substitute and mix it up. It tastes like pumpkin pie.

P.S. The absolute best tasting squash, in my opinion, is Buttercup.


I didn't mention it above because Hubbard is so much cheaper and tastes almost as good. I bake it the same way, but because it's smaller it takes more like 1-2 hours. They're small enough you can cut them open with a knife. Sometimes I'll bake half of one in the toaster oven for lunch. (No one else uses the toaster oven at work between breakfast and lunch so it's available.)

It was bred in North Dakota to replace sweet potatoes which don't grow there because it's too cold:

Yeager, A.F. and E. Latzke. Buttercup Squash: Its Origin and Use. Fargo, ND: Agricultural Experiment Station, North Dakota Agricultural College, 1932. Bulletin/North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station no. 258. 19 p. NAL 100 N813 no.258

In 1922 North Dakota researchers Yeager and Latzke undertook a squash breeding program that was initially focused on the Hubbard squash. Their aim was to develop a desirable variety that would take the place of the sweet potato, which had proved unsatisfactory in variety testing in the region. This report, issued ten years hence, describes the origin of the Buttercup variety, a small turban-shaped squash selected from an accidental cross of Quality and Essex Hybrid, and also considers growing methods and the variety’s cooking and food qualities. A good portion of the bulletin consists of general instructions for cooking and several dozen recipes (p. 13-19). With black-and-white photos, and bibliography (sources cited in footnotes).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIBBYGEO 3/24/2011 1:47PM

    Thanks for the tips! They are good ones!

Report Inappropriate Comment
DDOORN 3/18/2011 11:28AM

    More ideas:


Report Inappropriate Comment
KAZINMICH 3/17/2011 8:29PM

    What an Awesome blog!!! What great information on food, I am sooo going to try this.

I also buy the similar chicken - boneless, not injected, skinless. I also trim (for the pets) and always keep some cooked in the fridge, and some cooked in the freezer.

I have tried following my mother-in-laws some what instructions on cooking squash in the microwave, and it didn't work out.. so I am SO going to try this. and I also am very excited to feed the seeds to the outdoor animals!! They are going to be so happy!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
ALYFITN 3/17/2011 9:14AM

    I always get a lot out of your blogs--what great information.

I am a new fan of electric pressure cookers. I grew up in a home with a mom who used the stovetop kind and was always afraid it would blow up. But the electric kind is easier--and it cooks squash really fast for supper. I LOVE squash---all kinds.

Report Inappropriate Comment
JESPAH 3/17/2011 6:53AM


So many people feel that a meal's not complete unless it's got beef in it.

Report Inappropriate Comment

    sounds like YUM i love salmon

Report Inappropriate Comment
SEYSARAH 3/17/2011 12:17AM

    Loved the squash ideas..and have wondered for years how one is supposed to get into a Hubbard squash..and then what..thanks so much...

Report Inappropriate Comment
CARRIE1948 3/16/2011 6:47PM

    I buy teh same chicken and salmon. I also buy the tilapia just for a change

Report Inappropriate Comment
ANNIEMAC_98 3/16/2011 4:29PM

    Great blog! I plan on trying these things! Thanks so much!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CHBADILLO 3/16/2011 2:49PM

    Love your BLOG, great infomation! What's a Wegman's , a grocery store? We don't have any of those here. GREAT ideas I'm going to use, all but the squash, it's a texture thing. LOL

Report Inappropriate Comment
ZENMIND7 3/16/2011 1:48PM

    Great ideas. Thanks!

I love your method of opening up the squash! -- "drop them from chest height on the front stoop to break 'em open" (Although I'm a little scared of the germs on my front stoop, even if the thing is going to get cooked at 350!)

I wish my work had a toaster oven.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MRDPOLING 3/16/2011 1:42PM

    Very good! going to use some of your ideas too! Thanks for sharing!

Report Inappropriate Comment
PATTICAN 3/16/2011 1:26PM

    I'm a big fan of butternut, but I'll have to check out this squash. Thanks for the heads up!

Report Inappropriate Comment
DDOORN 3/16/2011 1:19PM

    We're big fans of stocking up @ Wegmans when their chicken is on sale...they seem to have better quality than most of the other stores.


Report Inappropriate Comment
ROZELL99 3/16/2011 1:10PM

  Good suggestions, thanks!

Report Inappropriate Comment

First Page  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 Last Page