Technology reviews at nickchatrath.com are designed to let you know how useful a product is in helping to transform your personal performance, with the big four intelligences in mind. (The big four intelligences are mental focus, emotional intelligence, physical sustainability and purpose. In my experience, the most effective leaders devote attention to all four.) This review will focus on the Withings Smart Body Analyzer and suggest some ways that it could improve your general performance.
Version reviewed: Withings Smart Body Analyzer, Black.
What is it?
The Smart Body Analyzer is so much more than just a stylish set of weighing scales. Simply step on with bare feet and the digital screen will first show your weight accurately, then your body fat percentage, your heart rate, and finally room air quality. All measurements are automatically logged and syncedto your smartphone app or online account. The data is plotted on to separate graphs so you can easily track your progress over time. If you have all the relevant hardware it can also give information about your activity and sleep too.
Two months after Tan had given birth to our third daughter, she began a health drive to regain her pre-pregnancy weight and fitness. Part of this has involved using the Withings SBA everyday and she has found it incredibly motivating and easy to use. “Personally when I am in control of my weight, I feel better in myself and more energised. With the scales I can see day by day and week by week how I’m getting closer to my goal and that spurs me on,” said Tan when asked about its usefulness.
I particularly like the visual 5-day chart of your weight which the Withings automatically plots after telling you your current weight. I found that if my weight was trending up this provided extra motivation to aim for a ‘zero day’, by which I mean zero sugar. If my weight was trending down it provided me great encouragement to keep going. However, on several occasions I did find myself eating badly and eating too much on a day when I had lost weight.
The scales identify users by weight, with a clever system for choosing between users with close weights; the scale will display both users and prompt you to lean left or right to select the correct one. You can have up to eight different profiles on one machine and each person can track their progress privately. Not realising this Tan and my accounts were paired on my phone so a line graph popped up on my dashboard charting her reducing weight. Perhaps not information that most people would want to share with others!
- Wait at least 3 hours after physical activity before weighing yourself. This is because dehydration due to sweating and excess lactic acid can momentarily change your physiology and “trick” the scale.
- To track the impact of exercise and different kinds of food on your weight, link the scales to the Withings app, and link this to your FitBit or Apple Health app. Weigh yourself at the same time each day for two weeks. As your weight changes (either up or down), keep a mental note of what foods you ate the day before and cross-check this with exercise data from the other app. When I tried this, I found that as long as I kept up a moderate amount of exercise, cutting out sugar enabled me to lose weight very easily. Or it enabled me to eat more than I had done before, and still maintain a constant healthy weight.
Body Fat % Tracking
Many experts think that body fat is a much better measure than weight. The SBA body fat measurement is via electrical impedance and requires both feet to be on the scales. For more information about this click here. One of my clients – a super fit, ex-Army man in his 40s – recently questioned whether the Withings reading is as accurate as a calliper test because he found the measurements consistently overestimating his body fat. The way to make the SBA body fat measurement as accurate as possible for people who are physically very active was to switch it over to ‘athletic’ mode. Indeed, the DC Rainmaker website compared the Withings with more expensive equipment and found it to be within 1% when in athletic mode.
Heart Rate & Room Air Quality
The measurement of your resting heart rate is a useful indicator for overall fitness and then finally the SBA shows your room’s air temperature and carbon dioxide level. According to Withings, the air quality monitoring lets users know when to let some fresh air in, and high carbon dioxide levels can contribute to less restorative sleep. This reading may be useful as it could tell you that your room needs to be more ventilated and help you guard against what is known as the silent killer – CO2. However, if you keep the scales in the bathroom as we do, its usefulness is limited.
I would recommend the Smart Body Analyzer to anyone wanting to track their weight and body composition to make sure they stay on top of their health and alertness. It provides comprehensive analysis as long as you use it regularly. Making it a ritual at roughly the same time of day helps.
Although weight isn’t the most important metric to track, it does provide a way of triangulating how your diet and exercise are impacting your body. There’s enough good about it – the notification functionality and heart-rate tracking in particular – to recommend it over other general purpose wearables.
- Sleek design and clear display screen
- Simple set up and functionality
- Quick, easy way of recording lots of data
- Increases awareness of the impact of your diet and exercise
- Provides visual feedback
- Good battery life (four AAA batteries) lasting at least five months
- Provides some superfluous information, e.g. weather and CO2 levels!
- Weight is an overrated measure when it comes to predicting alertness (unless your Body Mass Index is in the obese category or higher) and you should not become focussed on this alone.
My overall verdict: simple and effective
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- the 3 key factors to bear in mind when choosing a wearable.
- features and benefits comparison table that rates seven of the most important wearables today on factors including compatibility, ecosystem and how much they help you with each of the four intelligences.