Here are some brief reflections on 14 days of tracking sleep, nutrition, exercise and productivity.
I am most focused and productive on 7 hours of sleep. I experimented with 9 hours, 8 hours, 7 hours, and 6 hours. I tracked these times for 3 consecutive days. My next experiment will be the times I go to sleep and wake up within those 7 hours. I have a feeling the time of day and night will reflect on my level of performance.
I practice a high fat, low carb diet, no gluten, no processed foods, no sugar, heavy on red meat. I have practiced this diet for 8 months and found better mental and physical results through this way of eating. However, there are foods within this diet that I came to suspect, such as eggs. After 8 months, I wanted to cycle some foods in and out to make sure I was not making a dogmatic nutrition decision. To me, nutrition is more for mental and physical optimization.
I found that 14 days is not sufficient time to adequately judge my performance. Furthermore, I needed a more controlled environment. I did find that yes, I have a gluten intolerance which did not surprise me. However, I was surprised by the time my body recovers from gluten (about 7 days) and the delayed onset of gluten issues. I experienced a significant drop in my moods 72 hours after gluten consumption. My “cheat” consisted of 5 chocolate chip cookies. The problem is that I do not ingest sugar and I ingested no sugar from fruits during those 14 days.
Another variable I tried was stopping Intermittent Fasting (IF). I normally eat within an 8 hour window (11:30am to 7pm). I wanted to test the 3-meal-a-day theory. After 3 days I experienced severe hunger where I had not experienced hunger while IF’ing. Again, this experiment is not ideal because at the same time I was introducing gluten and sugar.
I need to carefully introduce one culprit at a time to understand how my body reacts. I must be more careful to conduct controlled experiments.
I did not really change-up my exercise routine. I do a 15 minute full-body routine every morning. I always try to introduce new exercises in order to achieve proper muscle confusion. I found that I experience greater results from adding 2 new compound exercises every 2 days. My next goal is to increase the speed at which I conduct these exercises. That will occur over the course of 14 days.
My productivity sky-rocketed in days 5 to 9 and steadily increased during days 1-4. After the 9th day my productivity decreased. When I reviewed my self-tracking data, I found that day 9 was when I also experienced worsening moods and increased sleepiness. At this time I was introducing gluten into my diet along with sugar and experimenting with meal frequency.
What I learned from 14 days of self tracking:
I must be more controlled in experimenting. Period. I am an impatient person by nature but self-experimenting cannot be fast-tracked. I don’t consider any of this a failure as I learned better experimentation methods. I also think I may learn to be more patient in a general sense.
Another thing I learned is that I require better visualization of my self-tracking methods. I started better graphs but I’m searching for something prettier and more interactive. At the moment, I’m taking an online class through MIT called Statistics and Visualization for Data Analysis and Inference in order to get some ideas.
I’m beginning a new experiment in two days where I will go back to IF’ing, go back to a strict Paleo diet, but I will add in higher fat ratios through butter consumption. Yes, straight butter. I want to test the theory put forth by Seth Roberts that butter will increase my mental focus. I also found that people who practice Paleo nutrition experience increased energy.