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How I maintain my visual food and exercise diary: the details

OK, I’ve been getting a bunch of questions about how I do my visual food and exercise diary. So, here are the details :-) All credit goes to the commenter on LifeHacker who told me about Swurl.

First, some tools I use to do it:

  • Digital camera or camera phone
  • My browser is Flock (based on FireFox) because it ties together all my social networking stuff
  • Flickr account to post the photos
  • Swurl page to automatically display the feed of photos from Flickr

If that sounds like Greek to you, don’t worry. Stay with me. You do NOT need to be an expert to do this!

  1. I take pictures of everything I eat and the exercise I do. It’s not art. It’s just a reminder.
  2. Whenever I get around to it — three times a day or once every three weeks, whatever — I plug my camera into my computer. Explorer pops up automatically, listing my photos.
  3. I select the photos by date for the time period I need to upload and drag them on to my media bar (the top black bar) in Flock. (I have Flock configured to be logged in to my Flickr account.)
  4. Flock lets me batch tag, resize, and upload the pictures, all at once. Done. I don’t bother rotate, touch up, etc.  Again, it’s not art.  It’s a record.

That’s all I need to do. My swurl page, configured to display my Flickr photos, automatically displays them, by day. I don’t need to do anything there.

Done. Takes minutes.

I was also asked why I do a visual diary. I used to write notes in my planner. And I still may at times. When I go to China for two weeks next month, I’m unlikely to snap photos of my food at business dinners! So here’s my why:

  • I’m a visual person
  • It’s an experiment: recent research showed that people who take pictures of their food lose almost twice as much as people who write it down
  • I don’t have to weigh, measure, or guess
  • It’s objective and honest
  • Now that I have a system, it’s easier — I remember to record it
  • It’s easier to scan the timeline photos to troubleshoot. If I have 57 pictures of a spoonful of Nutella in one day, there’s something going on! 😉

Hope that helps! If you have specific questions about any of these steps, don’t hesitate to ask. This is a quick and dirty post, so if there’s a gap, let me know!

Wed, September 24 2008 » Useful tools