There are numerous studies that demonstrate the benefits of periodic, short-duration fasting, such as weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and brain function, immune system regeneration, and longevity. I’ve been a fan (and practitioner) of intermittent fasting for several years, but other than an occasional 24-hour liver cleanse or protein fast, I had never done any extended fasting. My original plan was to do a “traditional” water fast, where nothing but water is consumed for a period of 3-5 days. However, during my research I began looking for ways to get all of the benefits of a water-only fast, but in a way that was “easier” (both mentally and physically), safer, and would minimize catabolic effects (loss of muscle mass). Enter the “fasting mimicking diet”… [Read more…]
I’ve recently started incorporating an application called Moves into my self-tracking arsenal. As an app, Moves only does just one thing, but does it well – it runs in the background on your smartphone and passively tracks your location 24/7. It has no social sharing functionality, gamification, or bloated features. You can look at a timeline of your day and see how long you were actually at work versus commuting (it tracks steps as well if you are into that sort of stuff).
The location tracking app recently released an API to allow 3rd-party developers and apps to integrate their data. Notable design/data visualization guru Nicholas Felton whipped together some code using Processing that provides a cool visualization layer to my Moves location data. Here is what a typical New York City day looks like for me:
The yellow lines indicate times when I was walking (to subway, out for lunch, walking the dog), gray lines show when I was in transit (subway, cab, driving), and blue lines represent times I was riding my bike (in this case, to a soccer game). Pretty neat, but nothing too exciting. However, if we look at several weeks worth of data, we can reveal some interesting trends!
Note that I left out two days of data where I went on out of state trips, as this skews the visualization (in its current incarnation). Check out Moves, and and if you aren’t afraid to get too technical you can get the MovesMapper code here. And this is a great set of location data that can be easily exported and integrated into other self-tracking experiments.
Most self-tracking enthusiasts are embarking on new paths of self-discovery that require an understanding of subjects and skills very different than those from their formal education or professions, such as statistics, biology, or electronics. Fortunately, the democratization of education through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) via sites such as Coursera, Udacity, and edX (to name a few) are making it possible for individuals to continue advancing their education, often at their own pace and at no cost.
While searching around for courses that I might be interested in taking myself, I realized that no one had yet compiled a list of QS-related studies, so I’ve put together the following list of great online learning resources that you can start taking this fall “semester.” I hope to continue expanding this list over time, and perhaps it will become the basis of an actual “Quantified Self” curriculum! Please contact me if you know of any great courses I may have missed. Now hit those (virtual) books!
Intro to Biohacking – Be Smarter, Stronger, and Happier
Ari Meisel (of LessDoing.com) will teach you how to reclaim your life. You will learn how to properly train your muscles, strengthen your mind, and turn your body into a machine that will maximize your potential. Categories covered include Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Mind, Supplements, Productivity, and Self-Tracking. $49, Udemy.com
The Bulletproof Life
During this class, Dave Asprey (of Bulletproof Exec fame) will teach you how to effortlessly lose weight without counting calories, how to turn off inflammation in the body, how to upgrade your IQ by at least 10 points, how to turn off your stress response, and how to have more control over what happens in your head. Oh, and Dave will also teach you how to make his world-famous Bulletproof Coffee. $Free, CreativeLive.com
Maintaining Your Body
Learn to live The Supple Life with this ultimate guide to resolving pain, preventing injury, and optimizing athletic performance. Kelly Starrett (of MobilityWod.com fame and the best-selling book “Becoming a Supple Leopard“) offers a healthy “how-to” blueprint for moving about in our hectic everyday lives. How do you fix your position while sitting at your desk at work for hours on end? How can you lift your kids without hurting your back? What’s the best way to run to avoid long-term injury? Kelly will give you all the tools you need to perfect your movement and ensure long-lasting health and mobility. $99, CreativeLive.com
Introduction to Biology – The Secret of Life (MIT)
Explore the secret of life through the basics of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, recombinant DNA, genomics, and rational medicine, taught by one of the founders of the Human Genome Project. You will first focus on the structure and function of macromolecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins. You will discover how changes in the structure of some of these macromolecules alter their functions and what the implications such changes have on human health. As you continue in the course, you will apply an understanding of heredity and information flow within cells to human health and disease and will learn about molecular biological techniques and their potential to impact our changing world. $FREE, edX.org
Useful Genetics (University of British Columbia)
This college-level course gives students a thorough understanding of gene function and inheritance, and enables them to apply this understanding to real-world issues, both personal and societal. This is Part 1 of what is now a two-part course. $FREE, Coursera.com
Statistics One (Princeton University)
This course is, quite literally, for everyone. If you think you can’t learn statistics, this course is for you. If you had a statistics course before but feel like you need a refresher, this course is for you. Even if you are a relatively advanced researcher or analyst, this course provides a foundation and a context that helps to put one’s work into perspective. $FREE, Coursera.com
Introduction to Statistics (Stanford University)
In this class you will be introduced to techniques for visualizing relationships in data and systematic techniques for understanding the relationships using mathematics. It will cover visualization, probability, regression, and other topics that will help you learn the basic methods of understanding data with statistics. $FREE, Udacity.com
Data Analysis (Johns Hopkins University)
This course is an applied statistics course focusing on data analysis. Instead of focusing on mathematical details, the lectures will be designed to help you apply these techniques to real data using the R statistical programming language, interpret the results, and diagnose potential problems in your analysis. $FREE, Coursera.com
Computing for Data Analysis (Johns Hopkins University)
This course is about learning the fundamental computing skills necessary for effective data analysis. You will learn to program in R and to use R for reading data, writing functions, making informative graphs, and applying modern statistical methods. $FREE, Coursera.com
Learning from Data (Caltech)
This is an introductory, self-paced course in machine learning (ML) that covers the basic theory, algorithms, and applications. ML is a key technology in Big Data, and in many financial, medical, commercial, and scientific applications. It enables computational systems to adaptively improve their performance with experience accumulated from the observed data. $FREE, caltech.edu
Data Management for Clinical Research (Vanderbilt University)
This course is designed to teach important concepts related to research data planning, collection, storage, and dissemination. Instructors will offer information and best-practice guidelines for 1) investigator-initiated and sponsored research studies, 2) single- and multi-center studies, and 3) prospective data collection and secondary-reuse of clinical data for purposes of research. $FREE, Coursera.com
Scientific Computing (University of Washington)
This is a more advance-level course. Investigate the flexibility and power of project-oriented computational analysis. Practice using this technique to resolve complicated problems in a range of fields including the physical and engineering sciences, finance and economics, medical, social, and biological sciences. Enhance communication of information by creating visual representations of scientific data. $FREE, Coursera.com
Design of Experiments
Quantified Self How-To: Designing Self-Experiments
Sadly I’ve been unable to find a decent, free online course related to experimental design (particularly when dealing with n=1 experiments). Konstantin from MeasuredMe has put together the most solid personal analytics tutorial I’ve come across to date. $FREE, hplusmagazine.com
Sensor Technologies for Interactive Environments (MIT)
I was looking for a great introductory course to sensor technologies, and this one looks promising, but lacks any online video. This course is a broad introduction to a host of sensor technologies, illustrated by applications drawn from human-computer interfaces and ubiquitous computing. Covers the principles and operation of a variety of sensor architectures and modalities, including pressure, strain, displacement, proximity, thermal, electric and magnetic field, optical, acoustic, RF, inertial, and bioelectric. Simple sensor processing algorithms and wired and wireless network standards are also discussed. $FREE, MIT.edu
Circuits and Electronics (MIT)
6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is an experimental on-line adaptation of MIT’s first undergraduate analog design course: 6.002. The course introduces engineering in the context of the lumped circuit abstraction. Topics covered include: resistive elements and networks; independent and dependent sources; switches and MOS transistors; digital abstraction; amplifiers; energy storage elements; dynamics of first- and second-order networks; design in the time and frequency domains; and analog and digital circuits and applications. $FREE, MIT.edu
Maker Training Camp: Introduction to Arduino
Have you heard about fun things you could do with an Arduino, but aren’t sure what do do first? This is the course for you. They will help you set up, program, troubleshoot, and design circuits for your Arduino. No matter what brings you to the world of physical computing, this course is an excellent place to start. $80, Udemy.com
The first question I usually get from people is, “so, what are you tracking?”, so I have compiled a list of experiments I am currently conducting (as well as planning to), which I will update regularly. For me, “tracking” is simply the collection of data – the real fun is constructing experiments around that data to identify correlations or test theories.
One challenge is that I can only conduct a few experiments at any given time – otherwise, actions related to one experiment can interfere with biomarkers that may need to be tracked in another experiment (especially when trying to establish baselines). Another is that some experiments can take a really long time to conduct, especially when trying to establish baseline numbers (see previous point) or waiting for test results (i.e., telomere testing currently takes around 8 weeks to get results). This also explains why I haven’t been posting as frequently as I would like!
I’ve set up a page where you can check out my in-progress and planned experiments. I will continue to update this list, and as I complete my n=1 experiments, I will link them to their corresponding write-ups. Don’t hesitate to reach out (you can email me at bob [ at ] quantifiedbob [ dot ] com or @QuantifiedBob on Twitter) if you’d like more info or if you working on similar experiments!
In Progress (view details):
- Telomere Analysis
- Bulletproof Diet – Cholesterol/Bloodwork
- Central Nervous System (CNS) Training
- Stress Management with Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Training
- Skin/Scar Repair
- Quantifying the Value of My Time (Time Optimization)
Planned (view details):
- Cognitive Improvement using Dual N-Back Training
- Oxaloacetate and Glucose Tolerance (Anti-Aging) Effects
- Environmental Monitoring