Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body, spoke about the popular Quantified Self movement at Wired’s recent health conference – Living By Numbers. The Quantified Self is a movement aimed at integrating technology into the data collection of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (ex. calories, air quality, sleep), states (ex. temperament, excitement level, hydration level) and performance (psychological and physical). The movement started in 2007 by two Wired magazine editors, Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly. Wolf and Kelly describe The Quantified Self as “a collaboration of users and toolmakers who share an interest in self-knowledge through self-tracking”.
Ferriss is one of the many collaborators of the movement and is well known within the community for his colorful history of self-tracking. Ferriss’ self-quantification was born out of his drive to become an All-American wrestler in high school. In order to cut weight successfully, Ferriss experimented with different dehydration methodologies and tracked his progress. He then began to track his workouts, nutrition, mental state, and physical performance.
Although he originally used a pencil and paper to track his progress, his quantification toolbox has significantly advanced technologically. Ferriss uses an online blood lab, Wellness FX, to track his biomarker diagnostics. He uses the myZeo sleep manager to track his sleep quality. He also had a blood glucose monitor inserted into his abdomen to constantly track his interstitial glucose levels. According to Ferris, the act of measuring makes you more aware of your decisions and his own experience supports that. While using his constant blood glucose monitor, Ferriss saw how long after a meal glucose peaked in his body. With this knowledge he tweaked the timing of his post-workout shake to optimize his body’s ability to absorb protein and build muscle. A few of the other tools that Ferriss uses in his own self-quantification tools are the Lift App, a behavior modification application, and the Nike Fuel band, a popular activity monitor.
In addition to describing his own self-quantification behavior, Ferriss also discussed the rapid popularity of his books. When asked to explain his books’ mass following, Ferriss said that encouraging people to self-track and share their results has a perpetuating effect. If your goal is to impact the highest number of people you need to know how to market properly. First, you need to get their attention and then give you can give them a prescription. Clearly Ferriss is a master at this.
You can see the full interview here