Optimize how your body works!
My Life and Performance is a tracker and a journal that helps you track your meals, exercise, work, moods and sleep to align your daily actions with the way your body works.
The app is simple – tap a button when you are about to eat, drink coffee, exercise or go to bed. This creates a life journal entry that you can edit later. By seeing how your actions unfold over the course of the day, you will be able to see what contributed to your performance and what did not. Over a week or two, you will see a pattern of how your body works (or doesn’t) at different times of the day.
Why bother with tracking? There are 2 good reasons.
- Science of Chronobiology suggests that there are optimal times for different activity over the course of the day. This is caused by a 24 hour cycle in release of various hormones and even timed activation of certain genes! Your levels of adrenaline, cortisol, testesterone, leptin, glucose and insulin vary over the course of the day. These affect your performance, ability to digest food and perform physical tasks. There are other cycles, that are longer than 24 hours that may be detected in the human body. Disruption of these cycles may cause cardiovascular and metabolic issues.
- Normally we are only vaguely aware of how what we eat and what we do over the course of the day affects our performance. Tapping a button before taking an action helps you get off the “autopilot” and examine your actions in more detail:
- Will eating this bagel make me drowsy in an hour?
- Will this cup of coffee sabotage my sleep at 3AM?
- Will snoozing at this hour push my body to start it’s next sleep cycle, resulting in more groggy awakening?
- Can I exercise my way out of feeling bad?
- When am I most productive in the day?
Normally these questions do not even appear in the mind, as the action is executed mechanically. With My Life and Performance tracker, you can become more aware of how your structure your life.
Optimizing bodily systems
Your various organ systems are governed by internal biological clocks. Some of these clocks are affected by outside stimuli, like light, while others are completely blind and keep ticking regardless of external conditions. These clocks control when you release certain hormones and even when some of your genes get turned on and off.
Start optimizing your performance by looking at your diet. The body cannot maintain high levels of digestive enzymes at all times, and as a result, eating meals at predictable times improves your digestion, because body knows when to increase digestive system activity.
The availability of snacks in the modern world means that we often snack because snacks are available, or because we are bored or anxious. While snacking can help maintain blood’s glucose levels, constant snacking puts an extra pressure on the digestive system and keeps the stomach consistently filled.
Having trouble with insomnia? Start by tracking your caffeine intake and wake/bed times. You pattern of going to bed identifies if your body is having trouble regulating your sleep/wake cycle. Normally, Melatonin, a sleep promoting hormone starts to be released about 3 hours after darkness onset. But in the modern world, the lights are on all the way up until the moment of bedtime! This is especially true if you are watching TV or looking at multiple monitors while working late. If your bedtime pattern is chaotic, start by picking a consistent bedtime, like 0:30 AM and start to dim lights about an hour before bed. Reduce your activity intensity over that hour to prepare your body for sleep. Lucid Dreaming App for iPhone includes a sleep tracker that can calculate sleep onset time.
But what about the awakening time? Getting out of bed may be a major issue if you are not familiar with the concept of sleep cycles. A sleep cycle is a 90 minute sequence of light and deep sleep stages. During deep sleep the brain is slowed down and the body is very relaxed. Waking up from deep sleep is very difficult.
Tracking Exercise and shape
My Life and Performance tracker uses color coded markers to highlight different activity during the day.
Every day that you do not put a red marker on the tracker is a little hint that you should start taking your body more seriously. It took me 3 days without meditation to start doing calm, reflective activity before bed and 4 days to re-start exercising. All by simply having no physical activity to report!
Optimizing sports performance.
If you are a serious athlete, you will have a plenty of red markers to analyze, but did you know that your body has has hours of peak endurance, flexibility and muscle strength? This is tied to the effect of biological clocks within your body.
By tracking and analyzing the duration of your workouts, you will be able to increase your workout results by finding optimal workout times. Improvements in your diet and sleep will definitely show in your ability and motivation to work out.
Do you have higher spiritual needs but just can’t quiet your mind enough to get into deep meditation? By tracking the times and depth of your meditative experiences, you may be able to find that optimal 15 minutes of silence when your brain can get quiet and clear.
Each marker has a duration metric. The metric remembers the time of the previous activity. By meditating at different times, you will be able to see in which direction you adjust the duration – is it going up or down?
Improving work performance and productivity
Work is a major issue in the lives of many people, including myself. As I started to track my activity, I noticed that work dominates my day, and I can find myself working at all hours of the day, with the question of productivity consistently nagging at me. By analyzing when I can really get into work, I feel less guilty about doing other activity at times when I would not be able to work productively!
Working when you are most ready to work will make tasks that are impossible at different times merely hard. Creative inspiration is more likely to visit you and make that one minor tweak that is responsible for a great result.
Or maybe you find yourself lacking energy to accomplish tasks at certain hours of the day? By seeing when such times occur over the course of the day, you will be able to better understand, and correct their causes. Know when you are not at your best and avoid scheduling or accepting meetings at those hours.
Are you commuting and hating traffic? Does sitting in a bumper to bumper traffic bring up all the frustrations of the day over and over? Keep track of your driving experiences to find the shortest and least stressful hours for commute.
Tracking Moods and happiness
Having the perfect body and knowing how it works will be of little use if you are feeling sad and lack motivation. To help you understand if there’s a pattern to those feelings, you can track your positive and negative moods. Chances are they are cyclical and are linked to a particular cause.
- By analyzing and writing down what makes you sad, it is easier to deal with sadness. Knowing why you feel sad, and knowing what you can do about that beats being just sad on any day of the week.
- Seeing why you are feeling great and knowing that you helped make it happen feels better than just feeling great!
By optimizing your food, sleep and exercise habits, while managing workloads, you will be able to improve your moods or catch yourself spiraling into depression and get help before the mood starts to dominate your waking hours.
Detailed activity tracking
You create journal entries at a tap of a button. At a later point, you can add additional information about the event. This helps with the journal analysis at a later point. Every marker on the clock screen or history screen brings you to its corresponding detailed journal entry. This makes analysis quick and easy.
Using the next/previous buttons, you can quickly jump through all events in a given day to either analyze the events or add notes.
From the detailed screen, you can change the time of the event and assign various metrics to help you measure the event against related entries.