I was trained as a researcher. I’ve further pursued training in data analysis & predictive analytics. I think machine learning has facilitated insights into nutrition and health that no human could have spotted. Using tools like the ARX has saved me so much effort helping people get results faster and safer than they had in the past. I use data every single day to keep clients motivated and on track.
I say all of that so as to show my bona fides, because what I’m about to say is the polar opposite: I don’t know if data is always useful. In fact, I think it can be tyrannizing.
I’ve been training for nearly 20 years. I responded fairly quickly early in my career before basically settling in to nearly peaking out with objective measures insofar as progress. The deep dive into the minutia is akin to the quantified self folks, only I didn’t call it that when I started. From sleep to nutrition to supplementation to affect, I believed the more data I had, and the more change I saw in that data, the better my results.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Mentally masturbating over some marginally measurable microcosm of metabolism is distracting at best, paralyzing at worst. Our ability to measure this stuff does not mean that the measurements are accurate, nor does it mean that changes locally reflect improvements systemically. That’s too reductionist.
This idea is counterintuitive on its face: how do you know if you’re getting better? How do you know if you’re healthier? How do you “scratch the itch” to look under the hood if you don’t count?
Flip that around and as more questions:
Do you need a Dexascan to tell you that you’re lean, or can you look in the mirror at how defined your stomach is?
Do you need to know exactly how many calories you ate at this meal, or can you feel satisfied from the amount of food you ate without feeling stuffed?
Do you need a GPS to tell you that you were running at the limit of your ability for a given distance, or are you out of breath and having deep conversations with your central governor to make it through?
Do you need to know how *exactly* much work you performed during your strength training session, or were you able to maintain the mind-muscle connection right up to the point of muscular failure?
You are aware your body doesn’t count, right? That’s just humans sticking something cold and digital on our squishy biological vehicle.
Instead, measures are a tool, but not the goal. At a macro level they have utility, but at some point they’re not sensitive enough to tell us if changes in their reading (with the error rate that everything has) actually is a function of changes in us.
Work hard, consistently. Don’t get hurt. Value recovery. You have to do this until you die, so take a focused, but relaxed, approach.