What did you learn? – Quantified Self

Allen Neuringer kicked off the conference with a chat on what he’s discovered from thirty years of doing and educating self-experimentation.

Steven Jonas

March 20, 2019

In September 2018, the QS group converged in Portland for our annual convention. We are joyful to share video of the talks at the occasion. You’ll find all of them on the QS18 program web page.

In eight years, we now have held 10 conferences. With every one, the talks present how the main target of the group continues to evolve. Some subjects are regularly developed, with new insights constructed on past tasks, and other subjects are new areas to be explored and shared. We see new tools, new visualizations and new methods. Although it’s not all about what’s new. Some talks have been concerning the wonderful execution of a venture using a standard device.

Our occasion opened with one such speak. Valerie Lanard showed how she’s tracked her health for over a decade merely with an excel spreadsheet that she keeps open on her pc at all times. Nicely, the spreadsheet started out simple. Over time, it grew in complexity to accompany many various points of her coaching. A lot so that it couldn’t fit into a single speak, and targeted solely on what she discovered from monitoring when she was NOT coaching. It’s an amazing instance of what could be completed with a device that’s been around for decades.

Emergent Themes

Our talks are submitted by attendees. They’re a reflection of the pursuits of individuals locally. We don’t purpose to have themes with the talks, however they arise naturally. Two or three tasks can be targeted in the identical path, but what we find is that although the tasks are seemingly comparable, they develop into much totally different because of the methods, motivations, and aims of the presenters.

Novel Visualizations

One place the place there was innovation was in visualization. As individuals locally develop ways to know their knowledge and share what they study, they’re pushed to develop new methods or undertake methods type different fields to show their knowledge in a approach that reveals greater than normal visualizations. Typically these modifications are small, however let us see the info in a brand new approach.

Jakob’s undertaking on determining what’s inflicting his complications. Watch his speak right here.

In his speak on solving his persistent headaches, Jakob Eg Larsen showed an fascinating to show streaks. The visualization captures that subjective feeling of a streak feeling more vital the longer it goes on. This visualization exhibits the absence of something, but I might see an identical visualization being useful for behavior monitoring apps. Sometimes, an app will present the worth of your present streak and perhaps the length of your highest streak, however not rather more. The effect of that is that there is usually a large demotivating issue when you miss a day and that quantity you’ve been build up goes to 0. Right here, you see the historical past and it conveys the sensation that you might build the streak again up again.

In an analogous vein, Madison Lukacyzk developed a solution to visualize her focus that showed the value and the rarity of uninterrupted time in her day. She calls it her focus meter and it shortly exhibits her how typically and during what time of the week she is able to work without distraction.

Typically when doing a self-tracking challenge, there is a want for more knowledge from extra metrics. But it is typically troublesome to seek out relationships between them. Azure Grant, in her undertaking on understanding her biological rhythms, used an efficient technique for displaying the coherence between eight totally different metrics. In different words, which metrics tended to move in the same path. At a look, it’s straightforward to sift via 23 relationships and see where there’s larger coherence. Multiply that by four, as seen within the slide, and that’s 92 connections to shortly explore.

Operating in a fasted state

A incredible example are the talks by Jessica Ching and Mikey Sklar that concerned operating in a fasted state. Mikey was trying to stroll a report 100 miles in someday in a fasted state, whereas Jessica was finding a method round limitations imposed on individuals who exercise with diabetes.

While it appears obvious for Jessica to be monitoring her glucose, there were two speakers who have been also tracking blood sugar however will not be diabetic. Ben Greatest tested his response to over 30 totally different foods, discovering that the meals that affected his blood sugar less than expeected have been low-starch, high fiber breads, flax milk, strawberries and lactose-free cream cheese. Justin Lawler had many helpful insights from sporting a steady glucose monitor for 4 months. It confirmed him the clear influence that continual stress from huge life modifications is having on his glucose ranges. He discovered that straightforward interventions, similar to taking a stroll after eating blunted his blood sugar spikes. He additionally found that while fasting, his blood sugar dipped too low whereas he sleeping. Justin concluded that fasting is probably not for him.


Kyrill Potapov explored fasting additional with a 5 day water fast, having panels carried out earlier than and after. He discovered that his complete cholesterol and cortisol went down sharply. His HDL was not in vary, and only increased reasonably in the course of the quick. However after testing it a number of weeks later, it had elevated additional nonetheless and was again in vary. It wasn’t all good news. Some metrics moved in the flawed course: Testosterone lowered, and triglycerides went up.


Two tasks on tracking complications demonstrated the iterative nature of self-tracking tasks. Jackob Eg Larsen and Stephen Maher each initially tried monitoring the complications themselves, however found it harder than it seemed. As an example, in case your head hurts, but subsides for a bit, but then comes back, does that rely as two complications? As an alternative, they both found it simpler to track not signs, but the interventions. For Jakob, it was when he took aspirin, and for Stephen, it was when he took triptans. The fascinating factor for Jakob was that he found that his use of aspirin may very well be inflicting his headaches. Seeing the bounds of the treatment, it turned his new focus into not taking aspirin, and figuring out different ways to ease his headaches (trace: drink more water).

Bodily Limitations

Exploring our physical limitation was a theme in Valerie Lanard and Ralph Pethica’s tasks. Valerie keeps meticulous data of her workouts together with what keeps her from exercising, most prominently accidents and sickness. She was capable of see a pattern that she most often obtained sick after visiting family. She additionally observed that as she’s elevated her objectives for the amount of exercise she will get per yr, her accidents also improve. This induced a couple of modifications: She now asks her family prematurely if they are sick and can postpone a visit She had a paradigm shift so that she now sees rest as a elementary element of her training, moderately than an “excuse”.

From Valerie Lanards speak on what prevents her from exercising. Watch her speak right here.

Ralph is bodily lively, but in addition works with rugby athletes to enhance their health. This provides him insight into what kind of metrics are probably the most helpful for predicting efficiency and damage. It is sensible that coaching too regularly with out satisfactory rest durations is extra more likely to trigger damage. Getting the timing right is troublesome although because he found that waiting too lengthy earlier than coaching once more can also be more more likely to cause damage. He found that subjective assessment is among the most helpful tools for seeing the stress that’s being put on the body. Nevertheless, as he sees together with his athletes, the older ones are higher (or extra trustworthy) about their self-evaluation. Maybe it’s as a result of as we age, we begin to see our limitations and should discover ways to work around (or with) them.


Daniel Reeves and Eli Ricker explored private limitations within the type of monitoring commitments. How typically can we do what we are saying we’ll do and the way can that be improved? Daniel Reeves discovered that simply the tracking of commitments, induced him to make quite a bit fewer “I will” statements and when he does he’s more particular about what he’s promising. It’s also nice to have all these commitments in a single place. Eli Ricker has been exploring what affects her means to complete her longtime objectives. It took loads of iteration to find what motivates her. She found that the punishment works higher for her than rewards for and that it was a real wrestle to maintain to commitments when she was on her own, somewhat than a structured surroundings.


A think about maintaining commitments is focus. Maggie Delano used pomodoros, a time-blocking method, to assist hold her give attention to progress in the direction of her PhD. It took her 363 pomodoros (i.e., 25-minute blocks) to write down her thesis. However she discovered that making an attempt to maximise the variety of pomodoros she might fit right into a day wasn’t essentially a very good thing. In weeks that saw greater than 40 pomodoros completed, subsequent weeks had a decreased work output. It’s an efficient illustrations of minor burnout, displaying Maggie the price of overwork.

Maggie Delano’s pomodoros on her option to her PhD. Watch her speak here.

Madison Lukazyck discovered that taking a look at her time as 5-minute blocks that both did or did not have a distraction helped her visualize her week and see the times and occasions where she truly capable of take pleasure in giant chunks of time to get issues executed. Shamay Agaron used the Spire to see how effective his research periods have been, discovering that he has less focus within the morning, and that research periods over 100 minutes have been increasingly ineffective.

College students

Other college students that introduced on their research habits included Alex Truong, who found that he spends an obscene amount of time enjoying Fortnite and watching YouTube (while still finishing his homework, naturally) and Lydia Lutsyshyna who found that she stabilized her eating and sleeping habits by merely proscribing her research to the library.

That ought to give a taste of the various talks that have been at QS18. You’ll be able to explore your complete program and download slides on the conference program web page, and watch more talks at our new Present&Tell web page. If you get impressed to do a challenge of your personal, hold us within the loop by making a challenge log at the forum.

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