Feedback and awareness: form Paleo to creativity
diet and weight loss | food tracking
Marco van Heerde
Marco van Heerde is 35 years old and has been surfing for many years and is still not really good at it. In this video, he talks about the non-tech and low-tech experiments he did to become a better surfer and healthier. He learned that Quantified Self really creates awareness and feedback and because of the tracking, one creates awareness of every day decisions.
Hello my name is Marco van Heerde and I did a really modest non-tech and low-tech experiment but it taught me a lot about self-tracking and awareness.
A little background, I’m 35 years old and I’ve been surfing for many many years and I’m still not really good, but it’s one of my life goals to become proper, so that’s like one of the basic reasons to be really health conscious so I can keep up surfing until I’m really good or until I’m reasonably good, so that’s the context of my experiment.
So at the beginning of the year in this consent quest of trying to become healthier and more well, and to get more energy, I started this thing called the paleo diet. And the paleo diet it’s pretty hardcore, like you cut out all the grains and pasta and cookies, and sugars and industrial processed stuff that you normally eat. I think that now, 75% of the whole supermarket that I would normally like is not like available for me anymore. So it needs a really big change in cooking, in money as well because it’s pretty expensive and just like in your daily habits so it’s a pretty how do you say, it’s a big investment to go and follow this diet. So I really wanted to see if this diet was working.
The profit or the gains from the paleo diet is not only weight loss, but if it’s working like a large gain in energy, but more than that and overall a bigger sense of physical wellbeing.
So I started doing this really low-tech just an Excel form, and I started at the beginning of this year, January and I tracked my weight, the percentage of fat, the percentage of moisture or fluids, muscle mass, the amount of time that I surf during the week, the amount that I was training like pulling irons, and my general wellness.
I also like tried measuring my waist and measuring stuff, but it was really boring because it was only like one centimeter change.
So while I was doing this it really what struck me was that something that was really boring turned out to be quite fun, because like every Monday evening I had like weight night and I was really like, what’s it going to be this week. Because I’m a skinny kid and even when I started the whole thing I was skinny. So it changes like a couple of ounces every week.
I was scribbling down the whole thing because already you’re starting to see patterns even if you’re doing it really low-tech like this. If you put it in a graph I lost 5Kg that’s like 10 pounds, but that’s not that really opera kind of cool but for me it was like a big thing and you can see some patterns here already.
These are holidays, when you’re like on holiday or vacation you cannot cook yourself. So you have to eat pasta, drink beer in the evening and go out and do fun stuff, so I gained 2Kg in a week.
And this is some results. So I lost 10 pounds, but 77.3 is really evertime my selecting points, and like after one month and you can see the constant feedback loop is really cool because you can see like after when I get really low and starting to feel cool about myself, and you start selecting again and eating crisps and all that kind of stuff.
So now I’m really more aware of my record of 77.3 so now I’m more aware of the selecting point, so I can continue working to a new selecting point.
I only had 0.56 surf sessions for the whole year and that’s the average on a week. That’s pretty bad, that’s not okay. That’s like once every two weeks, which is decent in the Netherlands where the surf is really crappy, but the next year, 2012 my goal is to have just one surf session every week should be possible and during my work I’m more conscious. I’m ambitious in my work as well, but I’m ambitious in this goal as well. So I can make more proper decision to quit work in the morning, because I want to go surfing, and because I want to obtain this goal of having one surf session at least every week for a year. This should be possible, it’s not really a crazy, weird, point break idea that’s like something decent and I push you.
Training session, well that boring as well but you kind of have to do it. I also did an alcohol experiment and quit drinking for one month. That was really difficult especially in a social way, but the interesting thing was it had no effect on weight at all but it had a big effect on sleep and energy. So that’s one thing that I learned and I drink a lot less now.
So to conclude this first part paleo really works and I could recommend it to anyone. It’s a really amazing diet and I think I’ll keep up with it for the rest of my life. You get way more energy and a big enhancement to wellbeing, and you just feel much more fitter and energetic and I really like it.
But the actual insight from this whole experiment meant is that the data is not important, but tracking really creates awareness, and this awareness really creates fundamental change. So like doing something really boring like tracking your weight, but being conscious of the Monday weight night coming up makes you really aware of the daily choices you make.
So then I was thinking, what else do I want to change about my life or what else would I like to improve myself. So the next step in this process was I want to do my body statistics, and also more subjective goals as happiness, stress, worrying, or creativity.
So I made a form, just a really easy Google spreadsheet, and I just changed the old school paper for just an iPad. And I will just really quickly take you guys through some really personal stuff that I would like to change myself and track myself as well, so I do this daily now.
Weight, daily exercise, like some day you just roll in the car or be in the office all day, or you have an excellent day with a surf session so just rate that. The percentage that I can keep track of the paleo diet, drinking, and I don’t know, when you’re really honest I’m really happy when I don’t drink one day a week. So I think tracking the amount that you drink is really important on your energy levels and your sleep.
How many hours did you sleep, did you surf today, did you train today, and one important one how did you like your life today? Did you think it really sucked or are you in love with life? And just rating this everyday makes me really conscious during the day that I want to make every day count as to say, so sometimes I really have to do crappy work, or my customers are really lousy, or a really stressful place or really stressful stuff to do and things are not going well. But I can just accept it but I want every day to count and learn something.
So the mental stats are, are you stressed out today? How much did you worry today? I really hate worrying because it takes up a lot of energy, it’s not really constructive and it takes up your working time. So right now during the day sometimes I really worry about something and I can just like really decide, well I have to put it in tonight but I’m just going to leave this thought and quit worrying.
Creativity also a really important one in my job; my job is coming up with ideas and sometimes when you’re stressed out getting ideas is really difficult. So I measure every day how inspired I was.
Another important one, more general in life, how much did you learn today? I want to learn everything every day I would like to learn something, even if I have to go to some wedding of a nephew in some weird place in Holland, I really like to even on this stupid wedding I want to learn something. And I’m really conscious of that decision, so in the evening I have to put in how much did I learn. And when I learned nothing it was a really crappy useful day.
Reading and studying; I think it’s really crazy that people stop reading and studying after they graduated, so I try to study at least a couple of hours a week. For example, reading Kevin Kelly, it’s technical and that’s really something I cannot read in my bed just 10 minutes before I go to sleep. I really have to sit down, make some coffee and study that book to grasp it, so I think if you really want to improve yourself and evolve, you really have to track it to really do it.
And then the work stats; productivity, I really want to know how well I was working. I’m my own boss, so besides my partners there’s no one checking on me how well I was doing that day.
And also a big thing for me is tracking how much did I spend organizing and fixing stuff and how much time did I spend creating ideas and things, because it’s really easy to get stuck or spend a lot of time just organizing and fixing, and emailing, communicating and doing all of that stuff; it’s really easy. You can fill your whole day doing that. And the really difficult thing is really creating and making stuff and it’s kind of inspired on the (cofey? 10:20) metrics. So I really want to like every day to have to be four hours of in creating ideas and things
So the thing that I learned last year for me personally that Quantified Self really creates awareness and feedback, and because of the tracking you really create every day, you really create awareness of every day decisions. Not only like am I going to get a coffee or a soda or whatever which I like body stats, but also you can be really aware of how your mind or your mood runs you. So you can really decide if you’re going to be stressed out or really worried, and I really want to be aware of my mental processes and then decide am I going to make this a miserable day and being really worried about this subject, or I’m going to just park now. And in Dutch we say just park this problem and just going to enjoy the rest of my day.
So my goal is to live a conscious life through constant feedback.