I’m overweight.

That means: 210 Lbs, 5’11”. Lots of driving, airplanes, lots of coffee, lots of typing (coding, testing, writing), and raising kids will do that to you.

Yes, I coach soccer, which is an hour of light exercise a few times a month in-season.

I suppose I could look at someone else more overweight and say “hey, I’m not that bad off.”

I could make a New Year’s commitment to exercise and eat better; but I gave that one up this year in May for STAREast and never made it back.

The problems? First, Over-eating isn’t *visible* to me – or to anyone else – except in a gradual form that is hard to notice. I don’t have much energy and my clothes don’t fit … but I haven’t had much energy in awhile, and I can always buy larger clothes. So I am trapped in an addiction cycle; I feel bad, so I eat, and feel better for a short while, but worse in the long term. So, the next day, I feel bad, so …

Second, exercise is not convenient. Especially in the winter.

Now, If I could just make diet and exercise something that was visible to my friends, family and colleagues – something I could bask in glory for success, and something they could hound and decry me for failure. Then I might have a chance to break this addiction cycle. I think the key is to make it public.

So, here are a few things I’m going to do:

1) I purchased an elliptical trainer, so “It’s too cold” is not a good excuse.

2) I created an account on

Traineo is a metric manic’s dream website.

You enter your weight as often as you check it, and it creates pretty graphs.

You enter your amount of exercise, and it creates pretty graphs – even calculating the calories you burned based on the type of exercise, time you spend, and intensity.

You can create a goal, and it will show how far you are from that goal, and how much time you have remaining.

And you can create custom metrics. Here’s my site.

Here’s my basic strategy:

If I work out three to four times a week on the elliptical, that should be enough to maintain, but not lose, weight.

So I want to do something else to lose the weight. How about give up Mountain Dew during the work week? A 20 Oz, twice a day, five days a week, that’s 200 Oz less Mountain Dew.

I also often eat junk for breakfast. So I created a score for my breakfast eating; 0 is Cheerios or fruit; 5 is super sized McDonalds.

What this has to do with software development

I’ve been using traineo for four days now. Just four days into the system, I found that I was eating candy bars and other snacks.

That doesn’t show up in the metrics!

So the metrics have some value, but are imperfect. Once you realize how to game them, it’s pretty easy to abuse them and remove the value, if not make them downright misleading and harmful.

Does that sound familiar?

Over the holidays, I may not have time to blog, but I’ll try to keep the traineo site up. I believe there will be additional insights into software that we can mine from it.

And, if you’d like to encourage me, please feel free to check out the site and see how I’m doin’. There is even a role called a traineo “motivator” where traineo emails you my stats weekly. If we’ve actually met in real life, and you’re interested in being a motivator, let me know.

PS – If you can’t see the tie-in between technical debt, metrics, and weight yet – don’t worry, it’s coming …

4 comments on “Metrics

  1. Switch to Diet Dew. It makes all the difference in the world. The accumulated caloric intake of regular soda is truly mindboggling.

    Rough estimates put a pound of weight at about 3000 calories.

  2. Probably TMI, but what the heck.

    At some point (which I believe is different for different people), a low fat diet doesn’t work. If you have metabolic syndrome, or if you’ve gained way too much weight (which I don’t think you have, but what do I know), you need to low carb. Otherwise, your body just keeps telling you to eat.

    Even if you choose not to low carb (still eating potatoes and bananas), consider removing all processed food from your diet: no sugar soda (no soda at all), no bread, no crackers, no cheerios (oatmeal instead) just real food. I bet it would not take you long to get back to whatever shape you’d like to be.

    I’ve lost 40 pounds low carbing. For taller men like you, it’s even easier and faster. It’s also much healthier, especially for those of us over a certain age, where we have to watch lots of numbers.

    That said, DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. My experience is definitely not going to be yours.

  3. Nice topic.
    I’ve somehow always thought of technical debt and being overweight that way.
    So following from the previous comment:

    Imagine that I can’t run a 5K race. I’ve tried. I just don’t have enought stamina. The ‘debt’ is in the way. I imagine a person who is not overweight would spend a shorter time getting ready to run a 5K race than me. I simply have too much debt to overcome to get to ‘his level’. My time preparing just to catch with him is where ‘opportunity cost’ lies. It will cost me more to get my opportunity to ‘run the race’ – he needs short training, his opportunity to ‘grasp’ the ‘successfull participation’ in the race is withing his ‘reach’ and so on….
    The analogy for sofware teams is similar. I have witnessed recently a coversation where an opportunity to make some changes to software presented itself but during analysis it was discovered we can’t do it. We have too much tech debt to actually participate in the opportunity. I think this aspect of technical debt is worth exploring….
    OK. and now put down that candy bar…

    thanks. marekj

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