Has Quantified Self Made Me Healthier Or Neurotic?
I record my heart rate on my Runtastic App as soon as I wake up and before I get out of bed. This is after I turn off my sleeping app and log my mood. The sleeping app, Pillow, I set the night before and tagged that I worked out that day and that I did some reading before bed. The nights where I work on my laptop or watched TV too close to falling sleep lowers my sleep “quality” score so I adjust accordingly.
Once out of bed I retreat to a solitary room in the house where I meditate for 20 minutes wearing my Muse brainwave headband which sends the data to its app. My calmness score seems to be improving, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I’ve contacted them suggesting some new features to which they were very receptive and are now building. Once they’re available I believe I can glean more insight into how to adjust other activities in my life to get the most of out the practice. I log all of my meditation sessions in my Insight Timer app. Today, I am at 228 consecutive days with at least one session which is represented as 4 orange stars of which for some reason I seem to be proud.
Soon after meditation I either lift heavy weights, do yoga, or do a brief cardio workout. I’m experimenting with the “One Minute Workout” after hearing about it on Tim Ferris Show podcast episode #217. In preparing for Tough Mudder last year I did a lot of hills and sprints which I preferred over long drawn out runs so this idea fits my workout style perfectly. It’s much more structured and requires tracking times and speeds. I record my heart rate once again to compare my resting heart rate (RHR) and my maximum heart rate (MHR). The ultimate goal is to get my RHR to around 45 bpm which for someone my age, 44, is quite healthy and supposedly mean that my heart is working efficiently and my cardiovascular is healthy. So far I’ve gone from 62 to 53 so it seems to be working.
Right after the morning workout I head up to take a shower, but right before I weigh myself which I record in my Apple Health App. I’ve lost 20+ lbs getting me to a good place which is around 190 lbs, but I’d still like to trim down a bit more. Next, I shower but I think if I describe the body wash and skin moisturizer regimen I use it would get too close to the opening scene in American Psycho so I won’t do that here.
A few years ago when I abruptly stopped boxing I gained more than 60 pounds and was extremely unhealthy. When I finally went back to the gym to get back to being healthier I began measuring things. It was simple at first. I weighed myself twice a day at the same time every day and recorded it. It was enough to have that number in the back of my mind throughout the day when I was making food choices. It was subtle, but effective. Now I measure much more. Activities such as how much I can lift or how fast I can do the 300 workout or even how fast I can run 2KM are all things I can measure and strive to improve upon. Turns out measurement really is motivation, but can the measurement turn into obsession? It absolutely can. We have to reconcile the fact that we always need to have a goal to improve with celebrating the goals we do achieve. What an unfortunate irony it would be if our efforts in the pursuit of happiness and health were to become the cause of our discontent and maladies.
I don’t really think I’m at the point of being neurotic, but when I look at my morning routine I do think I could easily fall into an obsessive place. Truth be told I feel I’m the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been and that why we bother measuring right? I just have to always be mindful about why I’m doing it. I’m not doing to have the best set of happiness and health scores. I’m doing it to actually BE happy and healthy. And it’s working!