Drafts and diet

Bad habits are insidious and hard to shake. As my wife went through cancer treatment, I began to eat poorly and too much. The modest discipline that had allowed me to lose 15 pounds a couple of years earlier seemed unimportant, and I adopted the attitude of “at least I’m not drinking.” Now it’s time to put that year of self-indulgence and rationalization behind me and redevelop the good habits I abandoned.

The only way I’ve ever been able to lose weight is by weighing myself every day and keeping track of the progress (and backsliding). There is, I know, a school of thought that says this approach is wrong-headed, that daily weight fluctuations will drive you crazy. Luckily, I know enough about statistical process control that I expect certain variations and don’t let them mask the overall trend.

My assistant in the daily record keeping is Drafts, the fast and flexible note-taking app, and a simple Dropbox Action I’ve created for it. After I weigh myself, I open Drafts, type in the weight, and tap the “Weight” action. A second later, I hear the bi-doop sound that tells me the weight, with a datestamp, has been appended to a file, also named “Weight,” in my Dropbox folder. Here’s how the Action is defined.

Drafts Dropbox Action

The line appended to the file starts with a simple mm/dd/yy datestamp, followed by two spaces (I like the extra separation) and the weight.

This is, I think, the fastest way to do this. Drafts launches quickly and always opens in edit mode, ready for me to type.1 Its timestamping tag language means I don’t even have to go through the minimal effort of typing a TextExpander abbreviation to add the date.

When I want to track my progress, I can open the “Weight” file in Notesy on my phone or in BBEdit on my Mac. The format I’ve chosen makes plotting the data easy, too, although I’ve never found that especially helpful.

  1. I have Drafts set to start a new note whenever I’ve been away from it for more than a minute, so it always launches with a clean new note in the morning when I weigh myself.