Tag Archives: video

Shannon Conners: A Lifetime of Personal Data


One of Shannon’s journals.

The emergence of self-tracking tools that came with the advent of the smartphone was a boon for people like Shannon Conners, who have long been recording their personal data with pen and paper. Her workout and food journals date back to her high school years.

Not content to let her data be incomplete, she has used novel sources for filling out her data sets, like going through her baby books for weight check-ins. Having a picture of her data that is comprehensive gives her a unique view. By adding annotations of major life events, she can see the vicissitudes of life reflected in her data.



Looking at her data side by side in JMP, her tool of choice, she sees how one affects the other. She determined that her cholesterol levels moved in the same direction as her weight, demonstrating to her that managing weight can be a good “surrogate variable” for keeping other biomarkers in check.

Her story may inspire you to increase your self-tracking diligence (it has for me). It has already inspired people around her. Her mother and sisters, after seeing her results with managing her weight, asked for Shannon’s coaching on how they can use self-tracking to help themselves. This is the value of sharing one’s methods: it can inspire others to change their ways of living and being.

The charts in this talk are fantastic, but they go by so quickly that I wanted to share them here so you can take them in. It should be no surprise that Shannon was featured in our QS Visualization Gallery and interviewed for the QS Radio podcast. You can keep up with Shannon on her blog, where she writes about her methods and what she’s learning.





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Ilyse Magy: Know Thy Cycle, Know Thyself

“My luteal phase went from 10 days to 16, which is a frickin’ Quantified Self miracle.”

In this great talk, Ilyse Magy describes how tracking her menstrual cycle with the Fertility Awareness Method and Kindara worked for more than birth control. Tracking her cycle helped her understand how it affects her emotional state, and led her to find out that she had a previously unnoticed vitamin deficiency.  ”Once I started charting, I was pretty amazed by what I was learning, but also kind of mad that no one had ever told me this stuff before.”

You can discuss this show&tell talk at the QS Forum.

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Robby Macdonell: The Data Is in, I am a Distracted Driver

“When I see someone driving towards me with their face buried in their phone, I get gloriously indignant about it.”

Robby Macdonell has given great talks on transportation logging and time-tracking. Here, he combined those two data streams, using Automatic and RescueTime, to prove that he does not use his phone while driving nearly as often as other drivers.

Only the data didn’t agree.

Watch how Robby confronts the realization that he is more distracted than he thought and the changes he made because of it.

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Mark Moschel: Parasites and Gut Repair


While traveling in Ecuador, Mark Moschel ate some ceviche from a street cart that he later found contained a parasite called giardia.

Mark's Enemy Within

Giardia lamblia

Experiencing fatigue, light-headedness, and digestive issues, Mark used the Reporter app to track his symptoms and Ubiome to measure his gut flora to help him understand and combat the parasite.

Though a trying experience, Mark brings levity to his show&talk presented at QS15.

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Ralph Pethica: Improving My Fitness With Genetics

1_RalphPethica_QS Talk 2014 Powerpoint

One interesting aspect of personal data is how it can reveal what is unique about you. Nowhere is this more true than with genetic information coming from DNA testing kits. However, people are still at an early stage on how they apply that information to their lives. Ralph Pethica, who has a PhD in genetics, was interested in what his DNA could tell him about how to train more effectively. His findings were presented as an ignite talk at the 2014 QS Europe Conference.

What did Ralph do?
Ralph loves to surf. When it is the off-season, he trains so that his body will be in good condition for when the warm weather rolls back around. He used genetic research to inform how he designed his training plans.

How did Ralph do it?
Ralph used a 23andMe kit to find out his genetic profile. He researched those genes that have been found to have an impact on fitness to see his body should respond to exercise. For example, did he possess genes that gave him an advantage in building muscle with resistance training? He then modified his training routines to take advantage of this information and monitored his results (using the Polar watch and a Withings scale) to see whether his assumptions held up.

What did Ralph learn?
Ralph found out that he has genetic disadvantages when it came to strength training. This told him that progress in this area depended more on his lifestyle. In particular, he found that eating immediately after working out was important.

When it came to cardio exercise, he had a number of genetic advantages. The unexpected downside to this is that his body adapts quickly to any training regimen, resulting in a plateau. To get around this, he varied his training plan and monitored his results. On one day, he would cycle at a steady rate, while the next, he would use high-intensity intervals. His body seemed to respond to the varied training plan and he hit fewer plateaus. Without knowing which genes he possessed, and reading current research on those genes, it is unlikely that he would have discovered these effective customizations to his training plan.

Ralph has taken what he’s learned and built a tool called Genetrainer to help people use their genetic information to inform their fitness plains. You can check it out here.

Tools: Genetrainer, 23andMe, Polar RCX5, Withings Smart Body Analyzer

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Tereza Nemessanyi on Honestly Now

Tereza Nemessanyi started quantifying herself in a time of great loneliness, after both her parents had died and she was missing their advice. She asked her friends for advice, but she found it to be polite and not always honest. So she built an app, Honestly Now, to let people anonymously ask for and give each other frank advice. In the video below, Tereza talks about what she learned from this project, including how to calibrate whether something is worth stressing about. (Filmed by the New York QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

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Quantified Self San Diego #2 Meeting Recap

On Tuesday Evening, January 18th, another inquisitive, intelligent and enthusiastic group of individuals came together to share and learn at the 2nd Quantified Self San Diego.

The event was hosted by Paula Nenn and Summer Rogers of Optimal Health and Prevention Research Foundation.  Paula attended our 1st QSSD, and was so in tune with what we were doing that she immediately offered her support by offering to host our next meeting.

After everyone socialized a bit over beverages and healthy snacks we started off the evening with a talk from Nate Heintzman, Ph.D. from Calit2 and the Biomedical Informatics Group at UCSD.

He shared information about his blood sugar as measured by the Dexcom SEVEN PLUS on an important and stressful day for him – the day he interviewed for a faculty positon.

The information from the device shows how you could appear to be diabetic, when you are actually stressed! Check out his talk on HealthGeek.TV at this link. UPDATE: (slides here) Continue reading

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Marco Castros on the Weighting Chair

Marco Castros loves food. He’s also interested in exploring the relationship we have with food, and how it changes depending on the company we are in. Marco spoke at the last New York QS Show&Tell meetup. In the video below, he describes how he hacked his Withings scale and designed a “Weighting Chair” that records the weight of anyone who sits in it. And yes, the chair tweets.

Marco Castros – Weighting Chair – 5-10 from Steve Dean on Vimeo.

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