New Year’s Resolution 2012 – Cardio vs Coffee/Alcohol

My New Year’s Resolution for 2012 was to jog more miles than cups of coffee I had, and to bike more miles than alcoholic drinks I had. This required keeping track of all of this activity, which was just as much of a challenge than it was to be self-disciplined. I used the website and iPhone app Daytum (www.daytum.com) to record all of my activity over the entire year, with approximate timestamps for every entry.

It was a big challenge, and jogging beat coffee only by razor-thin margins by December 31. Cycling beat alcohol by a slightly better margin, but not without struggle. I graphed the data for the competing activities, and also created other analyses and visualizations of the data where there are interesting trends to observe and stories to tell.

This graph shows the overall competition between jogging and coffee, and between cycling and alcohol. The higher each graph, the more of a surplus of cardio I have for that particular competition.

The jogging/coffee graph is sawtooth shaped: small upward spikes every few days I went on a jog, otherwise a downward slope representing about 1 coffee a day. The graph trends upward as I trained for the San Francisco Half Marathon in spring and summer, and peaked the day of the race. Afterward I became lazier and did only the jogging necessary to keep this graph above the X-axis.

The cycling/alcohol graph is far more dramatic. It has more flat spots for when I didn’t drink for several days, and there are both upward and downward spikes of varying sizes. I achieved enormous upward spikes with rides over 30 miles, which have been labeled. Events with lots of drinking resulted in large downward spikes – especially open bar events in New York, in the case of Facebook Marketing Conference and Out for Undergraduate Business Conference.

Part of my recorded activity included the type of activity I did: jogging on a treadmill, drinking a Mocha, and so forth. I was curious about the effect of the season on the type of activity I did. I graphed this info here for outdoor vs. indoor cardio, and for iced vs. hot coffee.

The trends are actually more noisy and random than expected. Some summer months I went without outdoor cycling; September I had no outdoor jogging. Only Iced vs. Hot Coffee follows a predictable bump in the summer and dip in the winter.

This map shows all activity broken down by region. I spent most of my time in the Bay Area, with vacations to many spots around the West Coast, and several trips out to New York. For coffee and alcohol, location data wasn’t recorded with the activity, so I couldn’t get as specific as which cafe or bar I was at, but during my analysis it was easy to look back at my travel history and backfill my regional location for every day of the year.

In Southern West Coast cities I was more likely to do outdoor cardio; I brought my bike along with me for the Labor Day road trip to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. In other cities (New York, Seattle) any cardio was done in hotel gyms. My favorite statistic from the region data, although its not immediately apparent here, is that I averaged over 4 drinks a night in New York, but less than 2 drinks a night in any other region.

And when did the most exercise, coffee, and drinking occur? I broke down all activity by day of the week. I drank the most on Fridays, followed by Saturdays, and much less on weeknights. Coffee is relatively consistent, but somewhat correlated with drinking on the day before. In particular, only on Saturdays, the day after the most drinking, did I average more than 1 cup of coffee per day.

Outdoor cardio outweighed indoor cardio on weekends, when I went on longer bike rides and jogs. For some reason, bike rides were more likely on Saturdays, and outdoor jogs on Sundays. Indoor cardio dominated on weekdays. Workouts at the gym were more frequent but were of shorter length – there’s only so long I can run on a treadmill before getting bored.

What time of day was this activity? Like total activity, this differed a lot between weekdays and weekends, so I took the average start time of events in each category, broken down by day of the week. As expected, coffee is the earliest event of most days and alcohol is the latest.

On weekdays, the different types of activity are spread out. I got coffee on the way to work around 10am, and I prefer going to the gym after work in the evening. Averages are unlikely to appear in the middle of the workday, except on Wednesdays when I sometimes worked from home and worked out in the afternoon.

On weekends in the absence of work, the averages are more mashed together in the afternoon. Weekend coffee averages around 1:15pm, as I typically get coffee with brunch. Trips to the gym also happen in the afternoon. Sunday was the only day where average drinking time was before 6pm: I was more likely to day-drink on a Sunday than any other day.

On what days did no activity of any type occur? There were 19 days of the year with no activity in any category. These were more likely to occur on a weekday, when I was more willing to go without coffee, and less likely to drink.

The longest run with no activity was three days, from Wednesday, April 11 to Friday, April 13. I had a bad stomach flu, so coffee, alcohol, and exercise were a no-go. The 16 other days with no activity occurred individually.

I learned a lot about myself doing this challenge, and I highly recommend it to others. I don’t have any quantitative, measurable New Year’s Resolutions for 2013, but I plan on doing something else like this in future years, perhaps around driving, walking, or time spent online.