Health Month hearts Fitbit

Fitbit

I’ve been a fan of the stylish Fitbit since before it was born, stalking the blog where the founders talked about building a little gadget from scratch, and I believe I pre-ordered one well over a year before it was available.

Their little pedometer is actually fun to carry around, and whenever I show it to someone they’re like “Oooh, I want one!” Who knows how many I’ve sold that way.

I have been interested in integrating the walking data into Health Month for a long time, and I’m finally able to say that it’s live!  Here’s what you need to do.

Step oneGET A FITBIT! $99, free shipping, coolest little gadget ever.

Step two. Link up your Fitbit to Health Month from your “Edit Account” page.

Step three. Add either the “Walk” rule or the “Walk X Steps” rule to your next month’s rules.

Step four. There is no step four!  From then on, when you fill out your activities for the month, it will automatically fill in your information based on your Fitbit activity. Like so:

Pretty neat, right?

Please give it a shot, let me know what you think about it.  I’ve also got a Health Month group over on the Fitbit website if you want to try out some reverse integration as well. 

As you can tell, I have a bit of a crush on the Fitbit team.  I figure, any company that’s trying to make being healthy a little more fun is a friend of mine.

Woah! 11 new rules!

I haven’t added any new rules recently, so I thought I’d go through the Uservoice Forums and the list of popular “custom rules” to find those that keep popping up. 

As people start planning their March rules, I’ve added 11 new rules for you to pick from:

  1. Wake up before X o’clock
  2. Walk your dog!
  3. Do yoga
  4. Stretch
  5. Do your household chores
  6. Walk at least X steps a day (this will soon have Fitbit integration!)
  7. Track your dreams
  8. Track your spending
  9. No fruit (the only 4-hour Body “Slow Carb” rule that wasn’t already in the system)
  10. No snacking (a “No S Diet” rule that wasn’t already in the system)
  11. No seconds (another “No S Diet” rule that wasn’t in the system)

Let me know what you think of these new rules, and if you think there are any other new rules you’d like to see.

What are your rules going to be for March?  Start choosing them now!

New feature: import your rules to new months with the Rule Wizard

New feature!  See that yellow box on the “Choose your rules” page?  It will now be available for anyone who’s played more than one month, and will help you easily import previous rules to the next month, improving them at the same time.

Here’s an example of how it will look:

The design’s a little rough at the moment, but the basic functionality is there.  I am open to ideas on how to improve the experience, make it more useful, more fun, smarter, happier, etc.

This is a feature that’s been requested by users literally 3.8 MILLION times.  Literally.  The reason it has taken me so long to build it is because I didn’t want to just build a basic importer… Health Month is all about getting smarter every month.  And that required a little bit of thought about how exactly one could learn from one’s rules. 

Since I know which rules you’re interested in working on, and how well you did in previous months, it’s possible to recommend the smallest possible improvement along the way towards those goals.  One of the things that sets Health Month apart from most goal-making and behavior-change sites, in my opinion, is its ability to help people tread that normally confusing, momentum-losing, world of moderation.  Be moderate!  And know that you’re making progress in moderation.  Change is hard, small steps are absolutely necessary.  Give yourself a bit of a break and celebrate the small steps.

Excerpts from New Yorker article, Social Animal

Just read a slightly tangential article in the New Yorker all about happiness, identity, education, the subconscious, and many things in between.  Here are a few of my favorite lines.

On happiness:

Joining a group that meets just once a month produces the same increase in happiness as doubling your income. According to research by Daniel Kahneman, Alan B. Krueger, and others, the daily activities most closely associated with happiness are social—having sex, socializing after work, and having dinner with friends.

On perception: 

Our perceptions, the scientist said, are fantasies we construct that correlate with reality.

On identity and the flow of information:

I believe we inherit a great river of knowledge, a flow of patterns coming from many sources. The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past we call genetics. The information passed along from hundreds of years ago we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago we call family, and the information offered months ago we call education. But it is all information that flows through us. The brain is adapted to the river of knowledge and exists only as a creature in that river. Our thoughts are profoundly molded by this long historic flow, and none of us exists, self-made, in isolation from it.

A bit more on that:

Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.

If you’re intrigued, dive in and read the rest of the very strange article.

Most health solutions aren’t medical, they’re social.

It’s becoming more obvious to people that our friends and family have a huge impact not only on our current health, but our future health changes. From the ever-wise Jay Parkinson:

This is a significant paradigm shift. The companies that realize the future of health is about life and happiness rather than sickness, death, and medical solutions are the ones that will lead in the next decade. More importantly, the companies that can find a business model around social solutions for the neediest, most costly patients, are the ones who will not only make a killing, but change the face of healthcare in the world.

The whole post is very worth reading.  

Thanks to Jason Kottke for drawing the connection between this general theory about how it all works and the actual goals/effects of playing Health Month.

February… the real start of the year

Some new things for February!

1. If you’re a team-coordinator, you can now invite all of the members from your previous month to play again this month (and I’ll make sure to remind current team leaders to do this before the end of every month).

2. We’ve got a bunch of new “official bloggers” for the month (and a few who’ve decided to continue on from January).  Meet them!

3. Working on some really exciting features for March.  Including the ability to move your rules from month to month in a really easy (and smart) way.  Apologies that this is taking longer than it seems like it should… I’m very much interested in this feature and I want to get it right.  The ability to learn from your rules, and do better and better on them each month, is really at the core of what this site is all about.  I’ve been listening to the feedback from lots of users, and I think that you’re really going to like what I’m working on.

Note about badges:

I’m getting a lot of emails about people asking for badges.  They will be given out for January’s game starting February 1st.  If you don’t see a badge show up for you, make sure of the following things:

  1. You started on the 1st, and have played every single day in the month.
  2. You have more than 0 life points.
  3. Your account is linked to your Foursquare account.

If you pass those 3 requirements, and still aren’t seeing your badge by end-of-day February 1st, let me know your username in the comments here.

Calling all bloggers

I’ve really enjoyed reading about Health Month through the eyes of this month’s official bloggers.  Have you?

I’m putting a call out to anyone who’s interested in blogging their health month in February.  The only requirements are that you’ve got a blog (or can get one), plan on playing Health Month, and are willing to publicly blog at least once or twice a week about how it’s all playing out for you.  You don’t have to “win” the month, you just have to be interested in talking about how it goes (good OR bad).

All interested parties… email me (buster@healthmonth.com) the following information:

  1. Your Health Month username
  2. Your blog’s URL (get one on posterous.com or tumblr.com if you don’t have one)
  3. A link to any of your writing from the recent past (so I can see how you write)
  4. Why you want to do this

Looking forward to hearing from you all!

Your Nutritionista: To Carb or Not to Carb?

Your Nutritionista: To Carb or Not to Carb?