Geek Gets Fit: A Data-Driven Approach to Fitness

Seven or eight years ago, I could run a six minute mile (or run six miles), do 100 pushups in two minutes, and swim a mile without being out of breath. That was then. In the intervening period, I’ve conceded ground to age, gravity, and entropy. I’ve always worked out to some degree, but for the last few years in particular, my heart just hasn’t been in it. I run 1-2 miles several times per week and I occasionally hit the gym for some weights, but I don’t really focus on it. I sort of always have this picture in my mind of how fit I’ll be when I really get my act together and do start focusing on it. Well, that time has come. I knew it was here when several people in my life made comments on how I’ve started looking a little heavy. I finally realized that I have this picture in my head of who I am and how fit I am that doesn’t match reality anymore. So it’s time to make some changes. And one of the really valuable things I’ve learned about myself over the last decade is that I do much better at self-improvement when two factors are present:

  • Measuring and tracking the data
  • Being accountable

So, I decided to try something that I’m uncomfortable with, and make my journey to physical fitness a public one. Starting today, I’ll be tracking and occasionally posting a myriad of data, including:

  • Diet
  • Workout schedule, weights, times, etc.
  • Weight, body fat percentage, measurements, etc
  • Photos (probably NSFW 🙂 )
  • Results of physical fitness test (details below)

I’ll try and keep the actuals posts on the subject infrequent, probably once every few weeks or so, but I’ll have an area on the site where I detail all my efforts and what’s working, what isn’t, etc. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who’s interested in this stuff, so hopefully we can learn from each other. I’m still working out all the details, but right now I’m planning on this workout schedule:

  • Monday / Wednesday / Friday run to the gym for weightlifting (1.5 miles roundtrip)
  • Tuesday – Run
  • Thursday – Swim
  • Saturday – Run or Swim if I feel like it

I’m giving myself one flexible “freebie” day per week where I’ll skip my workout if something comes up, as I’ve previously done the “workout every single day with zero exceptions” thing and while it’s doable, it gets really old. I’m currently working out 3 days per week and it’s much better to be able to fit exercise to my schedule.

I’ll be tracking my workouts and all the details, but I also want to get a bigger picture look at my progress over time, so once per month, I’m going to take the Navy SEAL physical fitness test, which consists of:

  • 500 yard swim in 12:30 or less
  • 10 minute break
  • Max pushups in 2 mins (minimum of 42)
  • 2 min break
  • Max situps in 2 mins (minimum of 52)
  • 2 minute break
  • Max pullups with no time limit (minimum of 8 )
  • 1.5 mile run in 10:30 or less

I chose this test because I’m familiar with it, because it’s challenging, and because I think it represents a fairly well-rounded approach to fitness. I’ll take it the first time within the next week or so, though I doubt I’ll be able to pass. Hopefully I’ll pass at the end of Feb or March, though.

Anyway, I hope that someone out there will find this interesting. Believe me, my intent is not to brag or show off in any way, as I think you’ll see when I first start posting my times and workout details. But I truly believe that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone, and I’m excited to see what kind of improvements I can make over the coming year. I hope you’ll join me.