Topic Archives: Videos
On July 4th, 2009 Jan Szelagiewicz decided to make a change in his life. After taking stock of his personal health and his family history with heart disease he began a weight-loss journey that included a variety of self-tracking tools. Over the course of a few years Jan tracked his diet, activities such as cycling, swimming, and running, and his strength. In this talk, presented at the Quantified Self Warsaw meetup group, Jan describes how he used self-tracking to mark his progress and stay on course.
Lee Rogers has been collecting data about himself for over three years. The daily checkins, movements, and other activities of his life are capture by automatic and passive systems and tools. What makes Lee a bit different than most is that he’s set up a personal automation system to collect and make sense of all that data. A big part of that system is creating an annual report every year that focuses on his goals and different methods to display and visualize the vast amount of information he’s collecting. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS meetup group, Lee explains his data collection and why he values these annual snapshots of his life.
When we decide to track one thing, we sometimes find that we are indirectly tracking something else. That is the theme of today’s talk.
When Mark Leavitt was 57, he found out that he had heart disease, a condition that runs in his family. Mark set about making some life changes. He tracked his weight while adopting a low-fat diet. His tracking showed him that he was making progress and that progress encouraged him to keep tracking. But once Mark’s weight loss stalled and then started to backslide (though he had maintained his diet) his desire to track dwindled and was then snuffed out by a major life event.
Though he was ostensibly tracking weight, this experience gave him some insight into his motivation. He began to build a mental model of his willpower. When was it strong? When was it weak? Using his background as a doctor to make assumptions on the nature of his willpower, he used the tracking of other lifestyle changes, such as movement and strength-training, to test those assumptions and better understand how to follow through on his intentions.
Watch below to see what Mark found worked for him and if you would like to see how Mark’s keeping up with his habits, you can check out his live dashboard here.
One of the benefits of long-term self-tracking is that one builds up a toolbox of investigatory methods that can be drawn upon when medical adversity hits. One year ago, when Mark Drangsholt experienced brain fog during a research retreat while on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, he had to draw upon the self-tracking tools at his disposal to figure out what was behind this troubling symptom.
Watch this invaluable talk on how Mark was able to combine his self-tracking investigation with his medical treatments to significantly improve his neurocognitive condition.
Here is Mark’s description of his talk:
What did you do?
I identified that I had neurocognitive (brain) abnormalities – which decreased my memory function (less recall) – and verified it with a neuropsychologist’s extensive tests. I tried several trials of supplements with only slight improvement. I searched for possible causes which included being an APOE-4 gene carrier and having past bouts of atrial fibrillation.
How did you do it?
Through daily, weekly and monthly tracking of many variables including body weight, percent body fat, physical activity, Total, HDL, LDL cholesterol, depression, etc. I created global indices of neurocognitive function and reconstructed global neurocog function using a daily schedule and electronic diary with notes, recall of days and events of decreased memory function, academic and clinical work output, etc. I asked for a referral to a neuropsychologist and had 4 hours of comprehensive neurocog testing.
What did you learn?
My hunch that I had developed some neurocognitive changes was verified by the neuropsychologist as “early white matter dysfunction”. A brain MRI showed no abnormalities. Trials of resveratrol supplements only helped slightly. There were some waxing and waning of symptoms, worsened by lack of sleep and high negative stress while working. A trial with a statin called, “Simvastatin” (10 mg) began to lessen the memory problems, and a dramatic improvement occurred after 2.5-3 weeks. Subsequent retesting 3 months later showed significant improvement in the category related to white matter dysfunction in the brain. Eight months later, I am still doing well – perhaps even more improvement – in neurocog function.
At our recent Bay Area QS meetup, Kevin Krejci presented a short update about the ongoing self-tracking and treatment projects he’s undergoing as part of living with Parkinson’s Disease. Back in January, Kevin first presented his tracking journey and how he’s using different tools to understand and improve his life. Watch his short talk below to see how he’s progressing.
In 2013 Eric Boyd started using a Nike FuelBand to track his activity. Not satisfied with the built in reporting the mobile and web applications were delivering he decided to dive into the data by accessing the Nike developer API. By being able to access the minute-level daily data Eric was able to make sense of his daily patterns, explore abnormalities in his data, and learn a bit more about how the FuelBand calculated it’s core metrics. Watch Eric’s talk from our 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference to hear more about Eric’s experience.
Cors Brinkman is a media artist and student. In June of 2013, he started a project to keep track of himself. He decided to start with LifeSlice, a tool to have your computer keep track of your behavior by taking a picture, screenshot, and location data every hour. After experimenting with that system Cors added in mood tracking to round out his data collection. In this talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Cors describes his process and some of the interesting ways he visualized and analyzed his thousands of self-portraits.
Philip Thomas is a software engineer at OpenDNS. He’s been collecting a lot of personal data since college, first starting with his custom built beer tracking system. He then moved on to slightly more sophisticated personal data. As the data started to pile up in services and systems he started to explore what it would take to create his own custom personal dashboard. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS meetup group, Philip explains how he built his dashboard and why it’s so valuable to him as he tracks his life.
Natalie Melchiorre wanted to work on her upper body strength so she decided to start a 100-pushup challenge. Using a popular iOS app she followed a plan and tracked her progress as she increased her strength. Along the way she encountered some hurdles, but continued on. In this talk, presented at the Phoenix Quantified Self meetup group, Natalie describes her experience with setting this ambitious goal and what she ultimately learned when she failed to complete it. Make sure to stick around to hear Natalie talk about the intersection of goals, performance, and identity.
Amaan Penang was faced with a life change when he moved from Texas to California to start a new job. While preparing for the move he started to examine his financial health and was surprised by what he didn’t understand about his spending and income. Using the popular financial tracking software, Mint, he started to examine his historical spending. In this talk, presented at the Silicon Valley Quantified Self meetup group, Amaaan explains how he tracks his data, crunches the numbers, and finds “interesting patterns” in his data.