The advent of low-cost wearables and sophisticated cell-phones makes it possible for us to track an ever-expanding number of health metrics. My health tracking journey began with me tracking a spectrum of indicators: weight, blood glucose, ketones, macronutrients, and more.
Over time, however, I realized that many of these variables were not predictive or influenceable. Which is to say they weren’t really important. This is why, for example, I don’t track my weight.
What’s more, the act of tracking too many things can create an additional obligation that only adds to the stress of what’s already a difficult endeavor.
So if you’re going to track your health habits, I believe it’s worth focusing on tracking the things that really matter and avoiding those that don’t.
Here are the 5 things that I’m currently tracking:
Fasting Hours / Stuck to Diet
Nutrition is probably the most important health variable you can track. Unfortunately, it’s also the most complex.
After reading countless books on nutrition and experimenting with nearly every conceivable diet under the sun, I’ve returned to the truism that the best diet is the one that you can stick to. For me, this is a fasting-based diet.
Even if you follow a diet other than fasting, I recommend simply tracking whether you stuck to the diet for the day or not. This can be as simple as logging a yes or no in your calendar, spreadsheet or journal each day.
Exercise is worth tracking because it’s both predictive and influenceable. Predictive because, more lean body mass means better insulin resistance, and better mobility means a lower probability of injury. Influenceable because I can control how much I exercise.
I track whether or not I exercised each day. It’s a yes or no variable. I define exercise as a long run, a sprint workout, or cross-training / muscle-building activity.
In an earlier post, I discussed the power of negative habits. For me, alcohol is the negative habit I need to be mindful of. It impacts my sleep, my work ethic, my nutrition, virtually all the health variables I track.
To track this, I simply record the number of drinks I have each day (if at all). So far I’ve found it very helpful.
As I’ve been learning in from Matthew Walker’s excellent book, Why We Sleep, sleep impacts virtually everything we do. I’ll save the specifics for a future post but suffice to say that your body needs sleep about as much as it needs water.
I use the Oura ring to track my sleep because I’m a technophile. But you don’t need to do this to get useable sleep data.
To start, I recommend using Apple’s Bedtime feature on your iPhone to ensure that you’re getting 7-9 hours of sleep opportunity on a daily basis.
Meditation / Emotional Resilience Training
Regular readers may recall that I have been skeptical about meditation and its benefits. That hasn’t changed (and I hope to go deeper into this in a future post).
In spite of this, I’ve continued to meditate primarily because the risk/reward ratio is very clearly stacked in favor of doing something rather than nothing. Meditating doesn’t cost much money or time and the benefits, if and when they materialize, could be life changing.
I track simply whether I meditated or not each day. This is a Yes or No column on my tracking sheet. If I meditate for at least 10 minutes I put a yes down.
This is what I’ve settled on as of Q1 2019, but it may not be right for you. Please let me know if you disagree with any tracking strategy or have some of your own to share!