In Episode I, we met a young Jedi apprentice named Kamal. He desired to learn the ways of “Quantified Self”. In Week 2, things don’t go quite as planned, and the Empire struck back. Kamal was drawn to the Dark Side, and got a glimpse of what it’s like to be Darth KaMaul. Let’s see where he went wrong. We’ll cover all the data I collected on diet, sleep, internet use, exercise, and mood.
Food: It’s what’s for dinner
Food is fun. And it’s kinda neat to see all the food you eat for the week. Let’s look at Tuesday and Wednesday first, since I didn’t get to take any pictures on Monday. I took a picture of everything I ate , everything I drank except for water, and any medication I took. I was going to take a few supplements daily, but got lazy and just ended up taking one: Concentrace drops (which are really just dried lake water). I also tagged each picture with the date and time the item was ingested. UNRELATED: See that picture of Luke up there? I used to have a Yoda backpack and it was strangely inspiring. Plus kids are guaranteed to run up to you and say things like “WOWEEEE!” Might get one again for this experiment. Anyway, onto the food…
Notice any themes? There’s an obvious honey + chocolate thing going on here. I love raw honey, and have no words to describe my feelings for chocolate. Other than those two staples, we’ve got a shrimp dish, a venison burger, classic bacon+eggs, and some sundry snacks. Here are my meals from Thursday through Saturday:
Wuh-oh. Where to begin. Well, on 1/17/2013 I ate some gluten-free pizza. If you think that’s a crime, then go join your diet police friends while I savor a couple slices. At 5:47 AM the next day, I was three hours into not being able to sleep because of stupid pain, so I caved and took 10mg of methadone. Which in retrospect was dumb, because methadone takes at least an hour to kick in.
A couple days later I had paid back my sleep debt, and headed to Elephant Walk in Cambridge for a French/Cambodian dinner with an old friend from Johns Hopkins MPH. Afterwards, we split a delightful combination of [coconut white chocolate] and [sea salt + almond dark chocolate] . The next night I headed to the Boston location of Elephant Walk to get dinner with MD/PhD student and offal lover Victoria, Monsieur Jaminet of Perfect Health Diet, renaissance man Adam, and the ever hilarious skin care specialist Amanda. Both dinners were great, and I indulged in some bread and butter with a dessert of flourless chocolate cake at the latter dinner. Overall, I was pleased with my week food-wise. Usually when I have a too many terrible sleep nights, my pain sensitivity goes way up and I fill the pain hole with cheetos and cupcakes. I responded well this week, so go me!
Body weight: 158 lb
Daily calorie intake: Range (1,617 – 2,469), Median (1,789)
Notable nutrients: Low fiber (mean 12.3 grams), moderate carb (mean 153.6 g), pretty decent micronutrients (82% of targets achieved)
Sleep: Where it all begins
If you have sleep issues, I feel for you. I really do. A bad night of sleep often leads to a bad next day. And a year of bad sleep nights can easily lead to a terrible year . My sleep issues stem from pain — it’s no fun laying awake being exhausted but too annoyed by pain to fall asleep. I’ve tried a million things to fix this, and some work decently well, namely blue light blocking therapy and certain supplements. But this was an especially bad sleep week because I stayed up late, and had a bit more pain than average in my foot and my hip. So let’s check out the numbers:
Bed time: Range (12:30 AM – 8:45 AM), Median (2:30 AM)
Wake time: (10:15 AM – 1:50 PM), Median (11:45 AM)
Deep sleep percentage: No data
How are these numbers possible? Well, I was laid off from my job a couple months ago, and am back to being a full time PhD student slash slacker. It’s important to remember that it takes me forever to fall asleep once I get in bed, and that was not captured this week (it will be next week). Last Thursday, I went to bed at 2 AM and laid in bed for…almost 7 hours! It was insane. I would lay in bed for an hour, get ice packs, wrap my joints, read a book, lie around, get jealous of the billions currently sleeping, etc, over and over again. Also, my Android sleep app wasn’t working, so I didn’t get good data on sleep stages and deep sleep percentage. My plan for this week is getting to bed earlier and trying a bunch of supplements — including glycine and some nice tea. If I’m thinking of staying up, I’ll try very hard to imagine being smacked with a stick by Yoda.
Internet use: Aimless browsing, time wasting, and sore wrists
This week was a near total failure on the Internet front . I had aimed to browse the web for under an hour each day, but ended up with my best day of 55 minutes on the web, and worst day of 3 hours and 45 minutes. I attribute this to me sucking. I’m okay blaming one day on terrible sleep, but that doesn’t explain every other day. My solution this week is simple: do stuff other than browse the web (exercise, school work, etc), as well as return to part-time duty at the stand up desk. This might help with wrist soreness — my surgically repaired wrist hurts much more when I browse the web too much.
Internet use: Range (55 minutes – 3 hours and 45 minutes), Median (3 hours and 6 minutes)
Exercise: Everybody needs a starting point, right?
Going from a bench press of 305 to a bench press of 45 is…humbling. That combined with cold weather and increased risk of injury from even minor exercise makes me gym-averse. But I did go a couple times to do cardio, along with a very short lifting session. Here are my exercise stats for the week:
Steps taken: Range (2,893 – 6,140), Median (5,515)
Fitocracy points: Range (0 – 293), Median (0)
Physical Therapy: One (measly) session of shoulder and hip PT
This would be reasonable if I was stuck in a cabin in a snowstorm, with a yeti waiting outside to eat me. But otherwise, it sucks. I’m not aiming for the typical 10,000 steps a day, because of my foot, ankle, and hip issues. But I should get much closer to 10,000 every day. Because my pain is worse in the cold, I need to get real, and get embarassing. Like this week I ran/walked in place while watching Wayne’s World, and maybe next week I’ll do some mall-walking or treadmilling.
Mood, digestion, and time spent being awesome
These are the least objective of the measurements, yet they are the best of the measurements. If you eat perfectly and get 9 hours of sleep a night, but remain a miserable asshole, than it’s time to track something else. For me, this week was decent but still sub-par:
Mood: 1 Great, 3 Okay, 3 Bad
Digestion: 1 Great, 4 Okay, 2 Bad
Time spent being awesome: 0 hours
The bad mood days were, predictably, caused by inability to handle chronic pain combined with general malaise (see around 40 seconds into the video).
The bad digestion is a bit of a mystery, but all this tracking might pay off here. I tend to get stomach upset when eating ground meats, which is not surprising given tendency of such meat to pick up bad stuff during processing. Also, when I eat too much chocolate and/or cheese, I get stomach upset and headaches. I’ll explore these issues later. “Time spent being awesome” is going to known later as “Limitless” time. If I ever perform like Bradley Cooper in the movie “Limitless” , I will count that time in this metric. Alas, nothing of the sort happened this week, which falls squarely on my mediocre shoulders. I’ll get at least a few minutes next week, surely.
Blood tests and lab work: Blood sugar
Because my family is filled with paradoxically underweight type-2 diabetics, I’m going to measure my blood sugar a few times in the coming weeks. My last fasting blood sugar was somewhere in the 80s, but that was a whole year ago. I’ll also dig up some other sundry tests I’ve had in the past few months, and see if I need to update anything.
Cute animal picture: The Ikea monkey
If you walked into an Ikea and saw this monkey, it would make your day, right? As it is, just looking at this picture comes close to making my day. Ikea monkey, give me strength to conquer week 2 of my quantified self experiment!