Measured for Success

I was hooked onto Google Earth from the moment I opened the program for the very first time. I’ve always had a thing for maps, and discovering Google Earth made me understand how Bruce Lee must have felt when he got his very first nunchaku. Combine GE with Google Maps or Wikimapia and you’re assured of hours and hours of unadulterated bliss.

Among the many niceties of GE are the Ruler and Path options: Mark out any walking path, broken up into sections to account for curvature, and then automatically find out the distance covered (assuming flat land of course).

The problem with the Path option in GE is that when you save a path in ‘My Places’ folder it doesn’t store the total distance, at least not in earlier versions. Later versions of GE seem to take care of this, but I haven’t got down to figuring how, as I meanwhile discovered a nifty third-party freeware package called GE Path which puts in distance (perimeter) and many other gleeful bells and whistles. You can thus save paths as KML files, store them in your ‘My Places’ folder and even mail the paths to friends. Also, for a quick fix, Wikimapia now also offers a distance measure (the ruler icon at the top left), and it genreally serves the purpose quite adequately.

Measure distance with the ruler option in Google Earth

Being able to know the distance one walks is important, in my opinion. I think that if one is really serious about success in any project — be it weight reduction, fitness, increasing revenues, whatever — one needs to have objective, measurable parameters. What this enables is the constant comparison of achievements versus targets, and appropriate tweaking of the programme when required.

While walking, if I do not track distance — as also time — then I have no way of knowing if I’m making any progress or what percentage of targets have been reached. Some people are of the opinion that one just needs to “listen to one’s body” and do as little or as much as one “feels”. I don’t quite agree. I might feel quite different from day to day depending on a host of factors, not all related to physical condition; and the mind has ways of manipulating things and finding a hundred and one reasons to do less than planned — at least that’s the way my mind works!

I do listen to my body, though, and any unusual pain or breathlessness while exercising merits immediate attention and I either slow down or stop completely should something seem amiss. While I have no intention of stretching myself beyond limits or causing myself injury, I still see the immense value of measurement. I might do less than my target on a particular day (for whatever reason), but I damn well better know how much less.

So that’s why I measure. Via Google Earth is one way of doing it. I also know that it takes me approximately 120 steps to cover 100 metres. Currently on the walks, I cover a kilometre in approximately 11 minutes.

The other thing that has to be measured is food intake. This is the tough one. There’s such a wide variety of food and drink that’s prepared in such a wide variety of ways in India, that it’s almost impossible to arrive at accurate calorie counts. But tracking consumption is important and consistent approximations are good enough. I intend to maintain a food diary (offline) from the second 10-day cycle (Decade Two onward) of 100 for 100. Luckily, I do have a copy of a booklet released in 1998 by Dr Rajesh Parekh titled The Saffola Food Check, giving calorie counts of over 1000 Indian food items. There are also several websites offering calorie counts, but we’ll take those up later.

- Val Souza

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6 comments to Measured for Success

  • [...] Val Souza: Well, I hadn't planned 100 for 100 as… [...]

  • Val Souza

    Well, I hadn’t planned 100 for 100 as a fund raiser, but now that pledges have come in, let me do my bit too. I’ve already committed to reduce one “evening out with friends” for each of the ten decades during the program; the money saved can go into the kitty for BECC. I’m randomly estimating the figure at Rs 750 x 10 = Rs 7,500.

    Keep those pledges coming, folks!

    - Val

  • Nicky

    Val you have accepted the challenge, making a difference in your weight will also make a big difference to the BECC. When can we see your pictures on your blog and on facebook? The before and after pictures will determine your actuall weight loss to us. In solidarity with you, I will try to eat healthy and see how much weight I lose. I have no target except to stay fit to run.
    - Nicky

  • Siy

    This is good stuff… better than betting on racehorses… :)
    For starters, will add another 500 bucks per ‘decade’ (Valspeak for ’10 days’, for the uninitiated) to the kitty for targets achieved… go for it Val!!

    Cheers
    - Siy

    p.s. no you don’t have to match it if you don’t achieve targets in any decade… the penalty (if at all) is that it rests on your conscience if the intended contribution to BECC reduces on your count [yeah, counting on the fact that u have a conscience... :) ]

  • Okay, now we’re talking, Ankal! The charity of my choice is the Bandra East Community Centre, which does very good work for street children, slum children, etc. We ran the half marathon at the Mumbai Marathon for them a couple of years ago and they made real good use of the funds we collected.

    Based on your model, the pool will have 29k (3000+6000+12000+8000), assuming of course that I achieve the targets. No way I can slack off now!

    - Val

  • ankal

    so, val – we have to make a deal! bring money into the equation will perhaps spark some needless interest.
    for every gram you lose in the first month – 1 rupee will be added to a pool – if you meet your 3000 grams target in the first 30 days, that is Rs. 3,000 in the first month. For every subsequent month thereafter, the amount added to the pool will be doubled, so the second month will be 2 rupees for every gram lost, the third month – 4 rupees, and the fourth month – 8 rupees. you have to meet your targets at the end of each month. if you are successful (i have no doubt you will be) the pool will be contributed to a charity of your choice (btw, the charity’s name does not begin with val or bacardi). nicky and i will contribute to the pool. on the flip side, if you fail in any given month, you make the contribution to the pool, and the proceeds will go to the charity of our choice.
    what do you reckon? might seem a bit complicated – it can easily be demystified – you get the concept though.

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