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SFH #123 and 1/2: Numbers & Health
A math sidebar
I'm coming at you for a second time today to cue back up ⬆️ evening timing for the blog. I was going through numbering all of the blogs, as you can see in the title here. As I was working through them and reviewing the statistics, I noticed a few stand-out correlations.
Evening blog releases fare better than morning ones. 🌙
IFing, Coffee, and Blue Light were at the top of the stack in popularity. 🏔
And nutrition posts outperform all other categories. 🍽
Powered with this information and regularly checking my statistics, I'll continue to do my best to bring you the goods. 🤌🏼
With that said, I wanted to share a bit about the power of numbers (tracking) in the world of health. Most of what I'll highlight in health tracking and numbers has become much more accessible thanks to wearables (a separate post coming). For example, I own both a Whoop strap and an Oura ring. Outside of wearables, technology like smart scales, blood tests, and electrostatic handhelds can be used to gauge our health metrics as well.
I don't fall into the category of the 'numbers don't lie' belief. For me, it's about interpretation and intentions, as well as the goals for our healthy lifestyle. I've used tracking throughout my adult life to spot-check my health and steer myself and others in the direction of improved outcomes.
Here are my Pros and Cons of monitoring the numbers.
Better sleep. 😴 This is why I love wearables. I want to know the quality of my sleep. No wearable is 100% accurate, though sleep tracking if used consistently, will get you most of the way there. Matthew Walker believes modern sleep trackers are about 75% accurate.1 I've dialed in my habits to produce the ideal sleep patterns and alleviate the issues as they arise.
Improved fitness and physiological functioning. 💪🏾 As a former data junkie, I can tell you that you can dial in your fitness and physiology quite precisely if you are willing to dive all in. I enjoyed my high-end fitness as a triathlete years ago. It's not as valuable to me any longer, and the cost (see the cons below) of constant monitoring is undoubtedly a deterrent for me.
Unlocking patterns. 🔑 You don't know what you don't know. When using numbers in your health in any respect, they can connect the dots to unlock patterns between our habits/behaviors and our health outcomes—wondering why you feel refreshed on the weekends versus weekdays? The answer may lie in your health stats.
Motivation. 🙌🏽 Seeing your metrics can be a motivator to jump on an issue. If you think you are living healthy and find out that lagging energy at the end of the day may be due to Vitamin D or Iron levels, you are more likely to take action.
Stress. 😫 No doubt I've stressed over seeing poor metrics, and I'm anxious some mornings waiting to see my results load up on my Whoop app—no bueno! If the mere act of checking creates tension, it's likely not a great habit to sustain without addressing the root cause.
Accuracy.🎯 As I touched on earlier, wearables and smart technology are only as good as our interpretation and regular use. Numbers are not the end all be all. They are helpful, but taking them with a grain of salt is quite important. I'm looking for trends and correlations. I'm not trying to tweak my metrics as if I were a professional athlete. There's also nothing wrong with going all-in on specific metrics if you try to optimize every healthy pathway possible.
Sustainability. ♻️ Ever try and track macros? I have. I enjoy it for maybe a week or two, and then I'm checked out. If it's not sustainable, then we should consider that. I do like the idea of spot-checking things like food intake. When asking yourself how sustainable the tracking may be, the vital thing to consider is the result you are looking for and the upfront cost of diving into the monitoring. For example, I wouldn't recommend spending several hundreds of dollars on a biometric device if you think you won't make it past a few months. ⌚️
Yours in health,