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The Better Version of Me

I’m not sure exactly how I stumbled on Runkeeper—likely through a link on Twitter, or a post about health-related apps. Regardless, I signed up to Runkeeper in December of 2008, and I haven’t regretted our relationship once. To put it in plain terms, Runkeeper helped me change my life.

As a teenager I was politely referred to as chubby. In reality, I was fat; really fat. At 5’7” and 200’ish pounds, my BMI clocked in at 32.1—clearly landing me well within the obese class. To make matters worse, I wasn’t always 5’7” but I was always floating around 200lbs. Sure, there were periods where I lost weight—sometimes a lot of weight—but it always came back. At times I maintained 185lbs, and at others I was as low as 160lbs, but I was never really truly healthy.

During my PhD my weight ballooned back up to 185 (about 12 lbs shy of obesity). My heart rate and blood pressure were elevated. I was lethargic, and to be honest, I was embarrassed of my appearance. Being overweight didn’t just take a physical toll; it took a hit of my confidence too.

Runkeeper changed all of that. Being a Statistician—a man who loves numbers and all things data—it’s amazing to me that it took me so long to start collecting data on myself. The Runkeeper app made data collection a no-brainer. All I had to do was get off my ever-growing butt (not an easy task), do something, and turn on the app. Day-by-day, week-by-week, I started tracking what I was doing. Walking, running, biking.Everything I did was recorded. I’d look at my stats—average speeds, average distances, number of activities, proportion of runs outside vs. on a treadmill—and see how I was changing and improving. The data fed my desire to collect more, to set goals, to challenge myself, to see if I could be better than the day before. Runkeeper helped me see the better version of me that I could be.

Dan Gillis Disney

And here we are five-plus years later. My weight is a very healthy 145lbs. My resting heart rate is about 52bpm. My blood pressure is normal. I’ve completed 20 half marathons (as either official races or as part of my training), and four marathons. In January I took part in the Goofy Challenge (completing both Disney’s half and full marathons in two consecutive days!). My life is completely different. I am completely different. Runkeeper played no small part in helping me realize the better version of me.

For those of you who are wondering if you should try out Runkeeper, do it—do it now. Whatever your better version is, I guarantee you that Runkeeper will help you find it.

 

Dan Gillis

About the author:
Dan Gillis

Dan is an Assistant Professor and Statistician in the School of Computer Science at the University of Guelph. Along with Danny Williamson, he is co-founder of Farm To Fork—a program designed to change the emergency food system by creating a direct link between donors and the grocery lists of food banks and food pantries. Having received international attention, they are currently crowdsourcing funds via Microryza to complete the project. Please consider contributing if you can.

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