Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quantified Self 2013

I've decided that 2013 is my Quantified Self year.  If you don't know what Quantified Self is or can't get an idea from the name, I'll tell you what I think it is.  The QS movement is about collecting empirical data about yourself and ideally using that data to guide changes in your life.  A simple example of this is weighing yourself.  You can use that information to guide you towards eating more/less or any number of lifestyle adjustments.  This is not new, but many of the current metrics have only recently been easily captured.  I'll give a number of examples of other things that you can track when I describe my personal QS strategy.

Once I was hired at WellnessFX, I knew it was time to get serious about QS.  WellnessFX offers personal blood diagnostics which is commonly used by serious QSers.  I was already regularly tracking normal stuff like weight and body fat percentage.  I was intermittently tracking workouts, diets, sleep, caffeine… but never rigorous about it.

At some point, I came up with a pretty exhaustive list of possible things that you could track.  There were well over 100 different metrics.  I knew I'd have to prioritize which were most important, but even then, it's still overwhelming to start tracking 20 different things all at once.  Around the same time, I signed up for the Zenhabit's Sea Change program which you may have read about in my other posts.  You pick one habit change per month and try to accumulate them over the year.  12 habit changes in 1 year is way better than your 2-3 new years resolutions :)  I decided to apply the same thing to my QS metrics.  I would add 1-3 metrics per month.  By the end of the year, I would have some serious momentum and data.

I was technically starting this in February; so, I stashed everything that I was already tracking into my January metrics.  Here's what I had for January:
  • [Continuous/Passive] activity/sleep (Fitbit)
  • [Continuous/Passive] computer usage (RescueTime)
  • [Daily] weight/body fat % (bioelectric impedance scale)
  • [Daily] clothes I wear (just take a picture and auto-upload to google plus)
  • [Intermittent] Personal Records (PRs - workouts, lifts, etc in evernote)
  • [Intermittent] cough/sneeze (some iPhone app)
The Fitbit stuff is great (unless you lose it!), because you record all this data with little or no interaction.  Passive tracking is the ideal way to do QS whenever possible.  The only reason I manually record my weight/body fat % is because I already had a scale; otherwise I'd buy one of the cool wifi ones that sync your stuff automatically.  

I started tracking what I was wearing, because I was getting worried that I was wearing the same outfits during the week.  I don't wear that many different clothes.  I think this will also provide some interesting insight into how I look and colors that I prefer.  Correlating that info with others may show me info I never thought of.

I need to start tracking my PRs for workouts and lifts so that I can better gauge what I need for crossfit workouts and so I can see where I have deficiencies.

I seem to have had a persistent cough for a couple months (that I remember).  I started tracking when I cough or sneeze so that I know when it stops or if it never does.

This month (February), I'm adding a couple more:
  • Food/drink in my Fitbit
  • Supplements in WellnessFX iphone app
Tracking your food can be pretty cumbersome; so, I kept this month easier to get used to it.  I like tracking my food in Fitbit, because I get a real time calories in/calories out based on my real time activity tracking.  

I could use anything to track my three supplements (vitamin c, vitamin b, multivitamin), but I picked the WellnessFX app to test it out.  Additionally, my WellnessFX practitioner is the one recommended I take those supplements; so, this will make it easier for me to share my info with him on my next consult.

Going forward, I'll be adding 1-3 metrics per month based on how difficult I think it will be to adopt the tracking habit/routine.  Here is a subset of the metrics I plan to add:
  • All workouts
  • Alertness
  • Mood
  • Sex
  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Memory
  • Illness
  • Caffeine
  • Water
  • Sun exposure
  • Work/relax/lazy/intimate time
  • Temperature
  • Reading (time/content)
  • Social interaction (on/offline)
  • Skin
  • Mobility

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