Jan 2020 Health Review

Click here for other posts in my monthly series about my fitness and sleep.

What’s this about?

This is the first in a series of blog posts I intend to publish on a monthly basis about my health and fitness. This is in no way meant to serve as a how-to guide or as medical advice. I’m just a normal guy looking to live a relatively healthy lifestyle.

Why am I doing this?

  1. Mostly selfish reasons… At the end of each month, my wife and I look through a bunch of apps to see ‘how we did.’ How’d we sleep? How many minutes did we exercise? How many kcals did we burn? As you’ll see in this post, you can’t really learn a whole lot by looking at the screens. So I intend to use this series as motivation to create my own charts and to come up with a consistent framework for analyzing progress. I’m also using it as motivation to improve my presentation and writing skills.
  2. Motivation for others. I’m just a normal guy who decided to start taking spin class 3 years ago after being pretty immobile for most of my 20s. Now I’m a lot more active than I was. But I’m not out there trying to win races or be the most fit person on the block. I’m just trying to live a relatively healthy lifestyle. This is where I tell you that you can too, if you try.

What does “healthy lifestyle” mean to me?

Asking myself this question served as a good reason to think through a framework. It all started with knowing I needed to become more active a few years back. Although my reasons have evolved since then, I never really thought deeply about it until today.

I started by putting down all of the words that come to mind when thinking about a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy lifestyle framework words.

I stepped back to think about them. Then I loosely organized them by relationship to one another.

Healthy lifestyle framework words organized.

Then it came time to put them within some sort of framework. What was the guiding light? What are the key areas I focus on? And which words are associated with each of those key focal areas? Here’s where I landed:

Healthy lifestyle framework.

Each month, I’ll mostly focus on monitoring my Activity and Sleep.

I’m pleased with my level of Professional Attention in the past couple years. I didn’t go to a primary care provider for checkups or get blood work for the majority of my 20s. I was “too busy” with work and life. In actuality, I was just being really immature. It took some life awakenings (losing my in-laws to cancer) to knock some sense into me and start visiting routinely. If I just described you then grow up already and take care of yourself. It really doesn’t take too much time. I actually went this month to establish a new PCP relationship since I recently moved states. Blood work was great aside from slightly low Vitamin D. A1C was 5.1. All good 😎.

I won’t focus on my Body Inputs in this series because, well, I don’t really focus on them that much. I could eat better, and I already don’t drink alcohol or smoke. I was never a smoker and I cut out alcohol gradually beginning 3 years ago after learning how detrimental it is to your sleep. I started eliminating liquor for a year, then added beer to the list. In the past 12 months, I averaged 1 bottle of wine per month (basically 1 glass per week). It has had an amazing positive impact on my sleep.

So, that brings us full circle to the beginning… the guiding light. Why do I want to live a Healthy Lifestyle? I think I have a pretty simple and powerful answer: I want to outlive my wife because I don’t want her to have to take care of me when we’re older. And I want to be the one to have to take care of her.

Activity

  • Clearly a lot of screens to look at. At a glance, I can see a good amount of ‘up and to the right’ action taking place, which is usually good. But how good? This is a section that I plan to improve a lot in future posts. I’m going to start dumping data into a spreadsheet and creating some of my own charts that can hopefully be more informative.
  • Averaged 65 exercise mins/day, which is actually pretty high for me. I was motivated by my Apple Watch January Challenge, which I got the award for as you can see below.
  • 17,325 kcals is the highest I’ve ever burned in a month.
  • Note that Distance only includes real bike rides or if I log an outdoor walk (which I don’t always do). I don’t log Peloton miles as distance anywhere because… I’m going nowhere.
  • I’ve never really taken the time to understand Strava’s charts 🤷.
  • I target an avg of 4-5 miles of steps per day (~10,500). Anything higher and I develop some knee pain. The name of the game is longevity. You have to listen to your body and know where to give, take, and maintain.
  • Solid month. Most importantly, my body feels great.

Awards

Apple Watch

Peloton

  • 611kj is the highest total output I’ve had for a 60 minute Peloton class, which occurred on Jan 16. My highest 45 was in December at 546kj.

Heart Rate

  • I mainly care about Resting Heart Rate and HRV.
  • I don’t understand V02 Max, and have heard that the Apple Watch projection is probably wildly off and worth ignoring. Which I do, but figured I’d include here for easy reference in the future should I decide to actually learn about it.

Sleep

  • Nothing like averaging 8 hours of sleep per night. Love it.
  • This is due to the culmination of everything in this post. Being active, eating OK, getting outside, feeling financially secure, cutting out booze, and the security that comes with knowing you’re living a healthy lifestyle.

Weight

  • My short term weight management goals basically consist of wanting to maintain my weight (not creep above 190). Eventually, I want to try to get in the 170s, but it’s not a focus for me right now.

Gyroscope

Interesting Content

We listened to this Peter Attia episode which encouraged me to target shooting for 3, 1hr long Zone 2 rides per week in Feb.

Next Steps

  • Try to put together a chart of minutes in each heart rate zone for the entire month. Not sure if I’ll be able to get this from Zones App easily, Health app easily, or if I’ll have to do it very manually. But I’m going to take a look.
  • Peloton analytics are pretty weak. I’m going to put together a spreadsheet and some charts to show monthly workouts, kcals, type, and minutes. And do the same for my outside riding. This should help eliminate the desire to look at the 400 screen shots in the Activity section above.
  • Consider incorporating any feedback I get from any readers and share ideas for improvements for the next post.

Click here for other posts in this series about my fitness and sleep and reach out if you’d like to leverage anything I’ve done for your own posts. It would be awesome to get more people involved.

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