Ep 091 -- The Quantified Self

To know if you’re achieving goals, improving, or declining, you need to track your metrics. This week I explore what that means and talk about some of the tools that can put a score on your performance as I explore the Quantified Self. Learn more at http://Strokecast.com/Quantified

I wasted an entire day of climbing stairs because I forgot to bring my Fitbit. Since I didn’t track it, it feels like it didn’t count. If it didn’t count, then why are my legs sore? Hmm. Strange.

The Quantified Self is the fancy new word for using technology to monitor our health and activity. The Fitbit, a small simple pedometer that tracks step and sleep quality, and the Wii Fit, a Nintendo that made exercise and balance a game, are some of the early modern examples of this.

This movement fed off the popular perception that we need to get 10,000 steps a day to be healthy. The reality is more nuanced than that, but it’s a nice round number that can inspire people to walk more.

I use my Fitbit to keep track of the steps I do and the amount of sleep I get to fuel my ongoing recovery.

Other stroke survivors can benefit, too. It’s important to monitor, track, and quantify our performance so we know if we are achieving our goals.

It’s also important to help prevent another stroke.

Regularly checking and recording our blood pressure at home is one important element. For most of us we want it under 120/80 consistently. We don’t know we’re doing that unless we track it and record it.

It can be the same way with weight. Or blood sugar. Or any of a number of different metrics our doctors may suggest we keep track of.

The key is the consistency over time. An individual reading is much less important than the pattern of the readings over time.

There are a lot of tools that can help us keep track of important metrics.

The Fitbit can keep track of steps and sleep.

Omron makes a wide array of inexpensive home blood pressure monitors. The also make the much more expensive Omron HeartGuide, a smart watch that will read your blood pressure.

Strokecast regular Dr. Nirav Shah has a startup company that tracks home blood pressure data and helps you share it with your medical team. He talked about Sentinel Healthcare in this episode.

And the other important tool can simply be a notebook and pen. You want to capture the data and look at it over time. The power is in the patterns.

Hack of the Week

I shredded a Costco chicken the other night so my girlfriend can make soup. I took Dan Oosterhaus’s advice and used my tone to do it.

In my left, affected fist, I threaded a fork up through my alternate fingers. Because my tone was strong that day, the fork was going nowhere.

I was able to use it to hold the chicken in place while I used another for in my unaffected right hand to pull the meat .

One of the important things to remember about post-stroke life is that we can come up with new and different ways to accomplish a task.


Where do we go from here?

  • If you don’t do it already, start tracking the key metrics in your life to quantify yourself.
  • Share this episode with a friend, colleague or relative by giving them the link http://Strokecast.com/Quantified
  • Subscribe to the Strokecast for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Don’t get best…get better.

Strokecast is the stroke podcast where a Gen X stroke survivor explores rehab, recovery, the frontiers of neuroscience and one-handed banana peeling by helping stroke survivors, caregivers, medical providers and stroke industry affiliates connect and share their stories.

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