A weighty matter

You've likely heard the maxim "When performance is measured, performance improves." (Thomas Monson)

Today I offer my own failure to measure performance as a cautionary tale. I'm going to talk about my weight.

Like many of you, until I reached my mid-twenties (so, about 3 years ago), I could eat absolutely whatever I wanted with no consequences that affected my physical appearance. In fact, most people were concerned for my health because my skinniness caused me to appear sickly.

[caption id="attachment_204" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Me being skinny and eating cake on my 20th birthday Me being skinny and eating cake on my 20th birthday[/caption]

 

My mission president actually told me to include ice cream as a regular part of my diet. I'm not kidding. (He probably didn't realize this would lead to a cake addiction, but that's another story for another day.)

Then I reached my mid-twenties.

My mother and grandmother were delighted. "You're finally filling out," they rejoiced, likely excited they could stop scouring stores for the elusive 28x32 size jeans.

I tried to be optimistic about this development, but for someone who is used to being a natural toothpick, losing the ability to see your protruding hip bones is quite a shock. It was easy to think I was getting fat, when in reality I really was approaching a healthy body weight.

Side note: aren't our perceptions of ourselves weird and totally ridiculous?

Once I reached a normal body weight, I learned to enjoy it, but it didn't last for long. After all those years, I had acquired the ability to become chubby. Great...

So I did what everyone else does in this situation. I bought a scale. Then I did something that not everyone else does in this situation. I used it. I measured myself every day, I kept a food journal and exercised more when I started to venture outside of the safety zone, and all was more or less well.

I kept this up for a long time. I enjoyed it. I tried out a number of activity trackers and pedometers. Personal metrics became a hobby I enjoyed very much.

Then, six months ago, I stopped.

The reason was stupid. My fancy digital bathroom scale wasn't playing nice with the WiFi. (As I mentioned, personal metrics had become an enjoyable hobby, so of course I have a fancy WiFi scale.) After a number of attempts to fix it, I gave up.

Yesterday I decided to fire up the old scale. I hoped a firmware update would have fixed the issue by now. Turns out it had!

Look at what happened in the meantime.

[caption id="attachment_208" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]If only this represented the money in my bank account If only this represented the money in my bank account[/caption]

 

Notice how I hovered around my target weight so nicely when I recorded my performance regularly. Notice what happened almost immediately when my consistency dropped. Notice what happened after six months of neglect!

Some of you may be thinking, "10 pounds is no big deal, Tyler. You're ridiculous." You may be right, especially considering that I was getting away with behavior like this.

[caption id="attachment_210" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Naughty... Naughty...[/caption]

 

But it's the trend that is troubling. Do you think I would have eaten an entire crate of Reese's peanut butter eggs if I had been measuring my performance every day?

Yes, you're right, I probably still would have, but I also would have compensated through other adjustments in order to get back on track.

Point is, I've tested the opposite part of the theory that performance improves when measured, and I've seen great evidence that the maxim is true. I'm about to put it back into practice, and by sharing this story with you, I'm hoping to leverage the second half of it.

[clickToTweet tweet="When performance is measured, performance improves." quote="When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.
-Thomas Monson"]

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