Beyond Intuition: A Simple Guide to Lifestyle Tracking & Why Feelings Aren’t Always the Best Health Metric

Monitoring both lifestyle and blood metrics offers an authoritative perspective on one’s overall health, the impact of daily habits, and the effectiveness of implemented interventions. Solely depending on intuitive assertions or subjective “I feel” statements lacks both quantifiability and accuracy, rendering them insufficient for precise health evaluations. For robust and reliable assessments, data-driven metrics are imperative.

track tracking health metrics dripdok

Why Subjective Measures Fail

Studies have shown that patients relying on subjective measures to gauge health are often misled, under whelmed, and disappointed by treatment interventions no matter the treatment type or cost.

Using feelings and intuition as the sole methods to gauge health has its limitations. While they can sometimes offer valuable insights, relying on them exclusively can lead to misjudgments for several reasons:

  • Subjectivity: Feelings and intuition are subjective experiences, which means they can vary widely from person to person and can be influenced by external factors such as mood, stress, or recent events.
  • Bias: Cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias (favoring information that confirms one’s existing beliefs) or availability heuristic (relying on immediate examples that come to mind), can skew one’s intuitive assessments of health.
  • Lack of Sensitivity: Many serious health conditions may not manifest with noticeable symptoms until they’re in advanced stages. By relying solely on how one feels, early signs of diseases like hypertension or certain types of cancer may be missed.
  • Misinterpretation of Symptoms: Some feelings or sensations can be easily misinterpreted. For instance, anxiety can sometimes mimic the symptoms of heart disease. Without objective tests, it can be hard to distinguish between the two.
  • Placebo and Nocebo Effects: Belief in a treatment’s efficacy can lead to perceived improvements (placebo), while negative beliefs can lead to perceived worsening of symptoms (nocebo), even if there’s no actual physiological change.
  • External Influences: Our perception of our health can be influenced by external opinions, experiences of others, something recently read or seen in the media, or even by the mere act of being asked about a particular symptom.
  • Emotional States: Temporary emotional states such as sadness, elation, or anxiety can distort one’s perception of their overall health.
  • Normalizing Symptoms: Over time, people may come to see certain symptoms as “normal” for them, even if they might indicate a health issue. This normalization can lead to overlooking potential health concerns.
  • Delayed Symptoms: Some health impacts, especially from lifestyle choices, might not manifest immediately. For instance, the consequences of a poor diet, smoking, or excessive alcohol might not be felt until years later, leading one to mistakenly believe they’re in good health.
  • Lack of Comprehensive Understanding: Intuition doesn’t always consider the holistic picture of health, which encompasses physical, mental, and social well-being.

However, it’s also important to note that intuition and feelings aren’t entirely without merit. Patients often know their bodies best, and a sudden “gut feeling” that something isn’t right can be crucial. Many times, patients seek medical help based on a feeling that something is off, leading to the discovery of a health condition.

In summary, while feelings and intuition can be a part of understanding one’s health, they should be complemented with objective measures, regular check-ups, and consultations with healthcare professionals for a comprehensive and accurate assessment of health.

While taste can sometimes indicate the nutritional value of food, enjoying (the process of feeling good) processed items like a Big Mac can be misleading. These foods often contain unhealthy amounts of fat, salt, and simple carbs. Just like with sugary beverages, what tastes good isn’t always good for you.

Paul Thagard Ph.D.

Hidden Health Shifts: What’s Changing in Your Body Without You Realizing?

Certainly, many aspects of one’s health and physiological functioning might not manifest as immediate or tangible feelings. Here are some (there are many more) of them:

  1. Subclinical Nutrient Deficiencies: A person may have deficiencies in certain vitamins or minerals without experiencing overt symptoms. For instance, a mild deficiency of vitamin D might not produce noticeable symptoms but could still impact bone density and immune function.
  2. Early-stage Chronic Diseases: Diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) are often termed “silent” because they may not produce noticeable symptoms until they have progressed to a more severe stage.
  3. Low-grade Chronic Inflammation: Chronic inflammation can be a precursor to several diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. It often goes unnoticed as it might not produce obvious symptoms.
  4. Mild Cellular Changes: Oxidative stress can cause damage to cells and DNA. While the body repairs much of this damage, some might accumulate over time, leading to aging and increasing the risk of cancer.
  5. Suboptimal Gut Microbiome Balance: The balance of beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria in the gut can influence many aspects of health. Changes in this balance might not always produce symptoms but can affect nutrient absorption, immune function, and even mood.
  6. Subclinical Thyroid Dysfunction: Minor imbalances in thyroid hormone levels might not produce noticeable symptoms but can influence metabolism, body temperature, and other physiological processes.
  7. Hidden Tumors: Some tumors, especially in their early stages, might not produce symptoms or be palpable. They might be discovered incidentally during imaging for another purpose.
  8. Bone Density Changes: Osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis, involves reduced bone density but might not manifest as symptoms until a bone is fractured.
  9. Liver Fat Accumulation: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can begin as a buildup of fat in liver cells, which might not produce noticeable symptoms but can progress to more severe liver diseases.
  10. Glucose Regulation: Before the onset of type 2 diabetes, there’s a stage called prediabetes where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes. This stage might not produce noticeable symptoms.
  11. Latent Infections: Some infections can reside in the body without producing symptoms, such as latent tuberculosis or certain viral infections.

To convert feeling-based misinformation into reliable information, one must think consciously about whether the information was derived from reliable processes.

Paul Thagard Ph.D.

In summary, while feelings and overt symptoms are essential indicators of health, they don’t capture the entirety of one’s physiological state. Regular medical check-ups and diagnostic tests are crucial to get a comprehensive understanding of one’s health and catch potential issues in their early stages.

How To Better Approach Tracking

To track these metrics easily, consider the following approaches:

1. Wearable Devices:

  • Activity Trackers: Devices like Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch, or Xiaomi Mi Band track steps, heart rate, sleep, and other fitness metrics.
  • Sleep Monitors: Devices such as Oura Ring or specialized sleep tracking apps can give detailed insights into sleep quality, duration, and stages.

How To Export Apple Watch Or Oura Ring Data Easily

2. Mobile Apps:

  • Lifestyle Tracking: Apps like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer can track daily food intake, exercise, water consumption, and more.
  • Mood & Habit Tracking: Apps like Daylio, Moodnotes, or HabitBull allow you to track your mood and habits, providing insights over time.

3. Regular Blood Tests:

  • Routine Lab Tests: Regularly schedule comprehensive blood tests that evaluate markers such as cholesterol levels, blood sugar, liver and kidney function, electrolytes, and more.
  • Home Testing Kits: Some companies offer home blood test kits where you can take a sample and send it in for analysis. These can be particularly useful for tracking specific markers over time, like hormone levels or nutrient deficiencies. Companies like Lab Me in the USA make this easy.

4. Digital Health Platforms:

  • Online Dashboards: Platforms like InsideTracker or WellnessFX allow you to upload blood test results, analyze data, get recommendations, and track changes over time.

5. Manual Journaling:

  • Dedicated Journal: Keep a health and wellness journal where you manually note things like daily activities, food intake, mood, sleep, and any symptoms or changes.

6. Blood Pressure Monitors:

  • Home Devices: Automated home blood pressure monitors make it easy to track blood pressure over time. Some devices now connect to apps that store and analyze the data.

7. Blood Glucose Monitors:

  • Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs): Devices like the Freestyle Libre or Dexcom G6 provide real-time insights into blood sugar levels.
  • Standard Glucose Meters: Useful for diabetics or those looking to monitor blood sugar levels after meals.

8. Scales and Body Composition Monitors:

  • Smart scales, like those from Withings or Fitbit, can track weight, body fat percentage, and other metrics over time.

9. Calendar Alerts & Reminders:

  • Set recurring reminders on your phone or computer for tracking specific metrics, like mood or symptoms, at the same time each day.

10. Integration Platforms:

  • Platforms like Apple Health (for iOS) or Google Fit (for Android) can aggregate data from different sources, giving you a comprehensive view of your health metrics in one place.

When it comes to understanding our health, relying solely on our feelings can be like trying to guess the plot of a movie by watching a few scenes. While feelings give us hints, they don’t show the full picture of what’s happening inside our bodies.

For example, just because we feel energetic doesn’t necessarily mean our body is in peak health. Science is based on reproducible results and quantified measurements. So, while it’s useful to track how we feel on a scale, it’s equally crucial to remember that these feelings only scratch the surface.

For a deeper, long-term understanding of our health, we need more comprehensive tools like medical tests. They give us a clearer picture of our internal health, ensuring we’re not just feeling good now but setting ourselves up for a healthier future.

Lastly, consistency is key. The more consistently you are tracking, the more meaningful and useful your data will be over time. Regularly review your data to identify patterns, assess the effectiveness of interventions, and adjust your lifestyle or habits accordingly.

DripDok focuses on metrics because they are the map to your outcomes and our success. To learn more or book an appointment contact us today.

Tag Cloud