The Quantified Self – How Much Data is Too Much

This is a topic that’s very current for me – hence why I thought it appropriate to talk to you about it, my dear reader :o)

I’ve recently dived into the wonderland that’s HRV monitoring (Heart Rate Variability). HRV is a small part of the blackhole of self evaluation data – what we’ll call The Quantified Self…

HRV specifically is widely used by fitness and health pros to measure progress and recovery. But not widely understood by the normal folks (like me, and perhaps, you). But I digress.

So because I ventured into measuring HRV, I bought an HR strap.

I already had a FitBit HR too – purchased to measure my vitals and sleep quality. The later I’ve had for over a year – and got bored of it’s data within the first 30 days of that. All that is a perfect example of a device (or an app for that matter) that does a great job of collecting data, but not giving you much advice on what to do with it in an easy to follow way.

Now that I’ve collected some HRV data from this late experiment – I’m back at the crossroads of The Quantified Self (TQS).

Hmmm – there’s a pattern here. I have all this data – and little clue about what to do with it.

Which brings me to the first rule of TQS club…

The 1st Rule of The Quantified Self Club

Don’t collect data for the sake of it!

It’s just a waste of effort, and can be very misleading.

It can also sap your adrenals as it can create chronic stress in your body. Kind of like you’re sending a message to your subconscious that says: There’s something wrong with you and that’s why I’m collecting data… but we don’t know what is wrong, so just look for something we can hang our hat onto.

And that, brings me to the second rule…

The 2nd Rule of The Quantified Self Club

Decide what is your desired outcome – then only start tracking…

Your decision should be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, actionable, relevant (to you as a person), and timely (to the life situation you’re currently in).

Deciding your desired outcome first, will force you to define your QS sweet-spot. In other words – what’s your personal balance between enough data (to help you find your desired end result), and not so much data that it turns you into an OCD madperson (gender objective term ;o), and drowns you in pointless record keeping.

Starting with the end in mind will also force you to define what you want to track, and how much you want to track.

Finally – when you’ve defined those – you’ll be much more focused when looking for apps, tools, mentors, tribes, habits, and methods to support your efforts (yes you’ll need all of those – trust me).

And finally finallybecause you’re clear on your goals -you’ll be more likely to follow through and be thorough – you have a mission. You’ve chosen to accept.

The Mission – Should You Choose To Accept It…

Here’s the game I’m proposing you consider (call it your personal quest for the quantified self).

To illustrate – I will run you through what I decided to do and my thought process. It’s much better then talking theory at you, right.

Take my quest as an example and create your ownone that puts fire in your belly.

Here’s what I decided:

My desired end result is to understand the general correlation between how I feel on a daily basis in terms of energy and quality of mood, and the lifestyle choices I make each day.

I also want to understand how quickly and how well I recover from my workouts and to adjust my training load and type of workout according to when my body is most ready.

That way I’ll reduce inflammation and hopefully improve my health and mental wellbeing even more because I’ll be working with my body – as opposed to blindfolded.

I’m also looking forward to learning a lot about how things affect me. In my experience having data to backup any feeling – is a VERY powerful anchor for behaviour change.

Knowing that a good night’s sleep gives me a 10 score on my HRV the next morning – is almost tangible feedback. It shows me that my body likes this, as opposed to me just having read a good night’s sleep is good for me :o)

My challenge/quest will run from today – 5 May 2016 until I start my coaching certification on the 2nd July 2016.

That’s it.

Now – Let the Games Begin!

It’ll be interesting to see what I have learned along the way and after I review all my data at the end of my challenge.

Should you choose to follow me on your personal quest – post your intent below here and let’s help drive each other to be consistent with data entry…

NOTE: This morning I already spotted discrepancies (quite wide ones in fact) between my baseline HRV. I used 3 different apps and they all came at 54, 61, 72 – I have some ideas as to why. And will randomise the order in which I use the apps daily – just to see if that will affect the discrepancies…

Anita Chaperon
Be happy. Be you.

Anita :o)
personal change catalyst



P.S. I go in a lot more depth about the data I decided to track. I also share the toolset I ended up selecting to help me track, and most importantly, to interpret the data I collect. All that is available in our 1% Club tribe, where I can also help you figure out how to structure your own challenge.