The first step is to define the goal or objective; what will this project deliver? I’m interested in measuring my overall healthy behaviors so I can see how consistent I’m being. Since I weigh-in weekly I’m not so interested in day to day consistency as I am week to week so I guess it should measure my weekly healthy behaviors.
The next step is to determine the customer requirements. Since I’m the customer, that should be pretty easy…
- Should be easy to do (no more than 5 minutes each day)
- Needs to capture all parts of healthy living, not just one or two areas
- Should be as objective as possible with little room for subjective rankings
To be honest that #3 criteria was pretty hard to overcome. How do you rate your health without being subjective? However, if you make subjective ratings, then you are always at the mercy of how you feel; when you are in a good mood you’ll rate yourself better and when you are in a bad mood you’ll rate yourself worse.
I decided to go with a points system. I created a spreadsheet with a column for each day of the week (my week starts on Saturday when I weigh-in). Then I listed out all the things that I consider important to being healthy. I created a list of about 25 items that centered around smoking, drinking, diet, exercise, mental health, and a few “other” items that didn’t fall into a category. The idea is that at the end of each day I would quickly go through the list and check off each item I completed that day. At the end of the week I would go to my spreadsheet and mark all the points I earned and it would automatically give me a health rating for the week; a number between 0.0 (completing nothing) and 10.0 (completing everything). For those math challenged individuals out there, the formula is: Points Earned / Total Possible Points * 10.0
Some of the items on the list are the same, but just at higher levels. For example, I can get a point for doing 30 minutes of light intensity exercise like walking. I can get a second point if I do 60 minutes. Points are given based on individual meals plus one for eating 4-6 small meals each day so I can earn 4 points each day just for following my eating plan. A few of the points are subjective… one point for not losing my temper all day. It’s not perfect, but at least it’s a start.
The next step was to test it out and see if the numbers seemed reasonable. I filled in last week’s information expecting to earn about a 7.0 on my new health scale. The actual result was a 6.4 which was a little low, but then I remembered that I really didn’t get started on this consistency thing until Monday last week and my week was setup for Saturday through Friday. Had I done a little better just on those first two days the score would have been about 6.8 so I’m pretty happy with the scaling.
So now each week when I weigh-in and post I will also post my health score for the week. Keep in mind the goal is not to get to 10, but rather to have a consistent score week after week (with maybe a little improvement over time). I would rather be a 7-6-7-7-8 then a 9-8-1-6-3. Remember, consistency over perfection. How do you measure healthy behavior?