I figured it would be useful for people to know where I’m coming from so that it’s easier to see what I’m trying to get out of this project.
I am a thirty four year old software engineer. I sit in front of a computer for many hours of the day and make it do my bidding. Most of my career has been based around Open Source software, which means that a lot of the nuts and bolts of my day job and private time are released to the public to hopefuly benefit others. To put it another way, I’m very comfortable sharing my work and opening it up to critique and betterment by others, and in a similar way, the sharing of my health data seems like a natural thing to do for me, rather than a dangerous, silly thing to do.
My chosen profession means a lot of sedentary hours per day, which now appears to be quite unhealthy for both mind and body. In general my health is quite reasonable, my only medication is for mild stomach reflux.
I don’t sleep terribly well, I cannot remember the last time I jumped out of bed and actually felt energised. During the week it can be a real struggle to stick to the nine to five, my internal sleeping clock seems to be out of whack by about five hours. I’m often most alert late at night when I should be getting to sleep. This means I end up actually getting to sleep quite late and struggle to get to out of bed at the time I need to in order to get to work on time.
My diet is reasonably good in terms of what I eat; lots of starches and vegetables, probably not even fruit, with small amounts of meat. In all things I’m quite bad at moderation, but good at abstinence: I can generally stay away from the packet of Tim Tams, but if I start, they’re all likely to go. In short, I eat reasonably well, but too much. I have a little pot belly growing, but it’s small enough at this stage that I haven’t had to give it a name.
Exercise is a real problem for me, I’ve never been very athletic or energetic, I’ve always ended up in the sedentary positions (soccer goalie) or sports (cricket, javelin) rather than running or swimming. My chief excercise these days is walking.
So in short, I need to sleep more, eat less, and exercise (much) more. Probably fairly typical of most Australians. I don’t need to buy any gadgets to tell me this, and yet I still don’t do anything about it. The heart of this project is to find out what I need to do to motivate myself to change.
About my open source Quantified Self project
The quantified self movement is a worldwide undertaking to increase individual responsibility with respect to health. The movement has been enabled by the increasing number of cheap, wearable gadgets that measure different health metrics.
My residency at The Edge is based around using a suite of these tools to track my own health statistics and explore the issues around this. I’m going to be publishing all the data I collect and look at ways of visualising this data, both online in a physical display at The Edge. Invidivudally, these tools are relatively cheap and you will be able to follow along at home if you wish.
I’m breaking my residency up into four parts:
1) Baseline: Buying all my gadgets, getting used to them, getting baseline data for the rest of the project.
2) The Brain: In this section I’ll be looking at improving my mental health, by looking at improving my sleep, concentration and relaxation techniques.
3) Intakes: In this section I’ll be attempting to improve my food intake by following the national food guidelines.
4) Outputs: In this section I’ll be be concentrating on my exercise and movement. I’ll be looking at sitting/standing/exercising desks.
I don’t have everything locked down so if you come up with ideas of things I should be trying, or wish to try tracking your own health data, please let me know in the comments.