Ari: Hi and welcome to the podcast. Today we’re talking with Bob from Quantified Bob, how are
Bob: Hi, Ari. Thanks for having me.
Ari: Of course. Thank you for taking this time to talk to me. First of all, just tell everybody what
Quantified Bob is.
Bob: Well, Quantified Bob is really just a blog that’s an extension of my self-tracking and bio-hacking
exploits by day. I'm sort of just an everyday sort of person kind of like yourself. I run a business,
CEO of a marketing technology firm in New York City and this has always been a passion of mine.
I've been self-tracking since I was a kid, basically. Once I got more involved with sort of what
became the self-quantified movement seeing as there are other people that carry the same
interest as myself. It really triggered me to create an outlet to sort of express and share what I
work on with others.
Ari: Now, are there particular areas of your life that you focus on tracking or I'm assuming
throughout the year you just track everything but is there things that you particularly focus on
Bob: Yeah. Back when I was a high school athlete and a college athlete a lot of it was around tracking
workouts and diet and just trying to find correlation to that and physical performance. As I got
older, my analogy sort of evolved to allow for more detailed tracking. Being able to do things
like get blood work done on a monthly basis, getting your DNA analyzed. They also run censors
and technology that can passively track different data points for you. It’s really allowed me to
capture a much bigger view of myself. I sort of differentiate self-tracking which is really the
question of data with kind of self-discovery. It’s sort of like taking that data and trying to learn
about yourself. It wasn’t that I necessarily set out to fix something; sometimes it’s about looking
over the data I've gathered and trying to find correlation. Then, you can go from there into
what is considered the bio-hacking area which is where you can sort of run the experiment on
yourself and see if changing diet or different areas of your life can have impact. My personal
interests now are still very much in personal optimization. You know, how do I get the most out
my time to make myself work more efficiently on the inside and the outside? Whether that’s
diet, nutrition, exercise. I'm also very big in reducing stress and keeping tabs on that. Then the
last area would probably be more about, again, it’s self-discovery, just being more aware, being
impacted by things in the environment of myself.
Ari: That’s great; it’s a really kind of diverse range of area to be tracking things on that you can try to
optimize. What would you say is the most profound thing that you’ve discovered about yourself
or the most actionable change you’ve been able to make?
Bob: Yeah, that’s a good point. You can collect all the data in the world, and I think a lot of people
the problem they have with self-tracking is you collect a lot of information and if you don’t act
on it – even if there's insight you can learn from it – if you don’t act on it sort of doesn’t have
much of a purpose. For me, probably one of the most recent examples would be how I switched
my diet about 8 months ago. I kind of went into a lot of what I had historically been doing and
seeing what that impact was. I've always eaten rather healthy. I don’t go to fast food
restaurants; I cook a lot at home. What I do is eat a very lean, low fat diet. I would eat lots of
pasta and meat; I come from a tiny American family so I do it in moderation but I enjoyed it. I
enjoy pizza but for training I would eat chicken and turkey. If I ate steak it would be the leanest
cut. About a year ago, what sort of triggered a lot of this was, again, I run a company, I have a
pretty active, stressful sort of daily routine and I'm in the process of selling my business.
Between that and later understanding how I was over-training at the gym; so while I may have
looked good physically, I was sort of a bit wrecked internally. My testosterone and energy just
dropped and I sort of just shut down. I had like a weekend where I literally just rolled up on the
couch and I didn’t want to do anything. I just needed to recover but I didn’t know from what.
As I started exploring diets and everything, I was sort of looking into different paleo movements
and seeing how they're approach to you can actually eat fat and healthy, saturated fat and by
cutting out things like meat and grains from your diet, how that can have a profound impact on
not just how you feel but in terms of your hormones specifically and other areas of your life. I
kind of went about it in a very just sort of everyday person sort of way. I had done blood work,
established some baselines where my key biomarkers were. During that time, I was learning a
bit more about what markers can identify if you're over training, if you're suffering from some
form of inflammation, and just knowing what's the correlation between things like cholesterol,
testosterone, and vitamin D. When I do something, I try to go full force into it. so, I sort of ate
my last big bit of pasta one Sunday and then I started basically following – and I hate using the
word diet because it’s not like I'm trying to lose weight or anything like that. It was more like a
lifestyle. You may have heard of the spinoff of the paleo movement called the bullet proof diet.
It’s a little bit like taking the premise of paleo and reducing the amount of toxins and things in
your diet to help improve your performance even more. Basically, the way it works is you get
about 50 to 60% of your calories from healthy fats, maybe 20% from things like vegetables,
healthy or kind of starchy carbs. So you really want to keep a low carb diet. With that, you work
in what's called interment fasting. What that means is I consume all my meals basically in a 6 to
7 hour window. So, I eat my first at two in the afternoon and my last meal at 8 o’clock would be
dinner and after that I won’t eat anything. What you're doing is changing the way my body sort
of process or use for energy. So instead of storing away fat and using carbohydrates for energy
it leverages ketosis and puts your body into a state where it learns to use fats for energy. The
difference between paleo and the bullet proof diet, especially when you bring in the interment
fasting, is that you kind of cheat in the morning. What you do is make a special type of coffee
that you corporate grass fed butter and some tea oil which is just instilled coconut oil. What
you're really doing is your body that energy that will get you through; you won’t feel hungry or
anything like that but you're not tripping out that state. I just programmed; my initial sort of
experiment was let me just track it for a day. I did it. I logged every meal I ate. I kept track of
everything. I incorporated a different workout routine. I actually went from going to the gym
six days a week for like an hour a day, I was focusing on a routine that was maybe three days a
week, 30 minutes – again, to ensure I'm not over-training and I’ll have the ability to recover.
After that 30 day period, I went and got retested with the blood work and the changes were
pretty, from that standpoint, pretty amazing. You get the ability to increase or get all my
biomarkers in line especially with relation to getting testosterone up by 40%. There was
elevation to my cholesterol which is sort of a natural byproduct of switching diets initially. A lot
of people are dealing with things like, me personally, things like leaky-gut or having mal
absorption issues. I'm still dealing with them from [9:13] where I would sort of troubleshoot
other doctor [9:16] years of eating meat or from genetic [9:22] how my body can process fat.
But there are a lot of other areas that I saw benefits from. Just general sort of mood and
energy, being able to be on point in the morning for that 9am meeting and not feeling tired or
trying to wake up. You're pretty sharp and focused. I think having that coffee plus healthy fats
in the morning certainly helps with that. I also, that general mental acuity was definitely
noticeable factor. I also, [10:02] that person that 4 o’clock cup of coffee in the afternoon; you
kind of have to crash and you need that pick me up. What's weird is that you'd think you'd be
drinking more coffee but quite actually I did not need it anymore. I pretty much powered
though the whole day without ever feeling ups and downs, especially people who drink soda all
day, your blood sugar is going up and down. You're pretty stable throughout the day. For me,
it’s been a pretty dramatic change; not just on the outside but on the inside as well.
Ari: You actually just covered a lot of what I was going to cover with you, which was great. Yeah,
David has actually been on the podcast; I'm a big fan. I also pretty much follow a fairly high fat
diet. I wouldn’t exactly say that its bullet proof but high fat has been very important for a
number of reasons. To mention a few of these, the energy that the anti-inflammatory benefits
of things like butter, olive oil, coconut oil; the biomarkers is an interesting one. You mentioned
blood testing; I work with Inside Tracker, I get pretty regular blood testing. It’s interesting how
the cholesterol levels changed but what I recently learned, and i that you covered this in one of
your blog posts, was that the ratio between things like [11:20] and triglycerides total cholesterol
are much more important than numbers themselves. So, can you test on that?
Bob: Yeah. So, the big problem I think with doctors in general in the medical community is you'll go
get a blood test and they give you the results and say, hey, look at how high your cholesterol is;
your LDL is horrendous. But I think before we even talk about ratios I there's the understanding
that with cholesterol you have two types. You have HDL which is considered like good
cholesterol and then you have LDL which is considered bad cholesterol. Now, the problem is
LDL; there are two types of LDL, there's two particle types. Even if you have a more elevated
level of LDL, there's a small particle – the tiny one – that’s what causes issues. People having
issues with their arteries clogging and all of that because of these little particles get packed in
through the larger particle side that sort of a bit fluffy and bigger types of LDL that your body
can process through. What I did find is that even though my cholesterol levels went up the LDL
particle found composition all the way over to the large, fluffy particle. Basically, my body was
just flushing it through. Now with ratios, I did a little research and I came across a few
interesting one. Basically, what you want to track is there's an HDL to your total cholesterol.
They say you want a ratio higher than 0.24; probably doesn’t mean a lot to your listeners until
you go into a spreadsheet and put numbers down. But what you want is a higher ratio as
possible. That ratio for myself is pretty stable. Actually, I did my 30 days stable and now since
then it keeps increasing. Then you have triglycerides HDL; they say that’s actually a good
predictor of heart disease so you want that ratio pretty low. They say below 2 but I think my
numbers are below 1; they're pretty low. Then there's just the general HDL to LDL overall ratio
which is one divided by the other; anything over 0.4 is great. Again, my numbers went up
through there. So, I'm not too concerned with the cholesterol numbers; I did go to the doctor to
kind of talk through it. I think the thing about any diet or program, whatever you want to call it,
is general sort of following [14:19] our bodies are all different. Whether we've done damage in
the past and we’re still trying to heal it or we have genetic dispositions. In my case, I realize that
I actually have issues with processing fat. I never knew this because I always ate a low fat diet. I
never had the issue of my body having to process the extra fat in my diet. Whether it’s a
combination of that mal-absorption or just having leaky gut and actually [14:54] back into your
blood stream, I'm still trying to troubleshoot that a bit and we’re testing different theories out
with that. That just takes time. Still, for me, it’s self-discovery on top of just trying to set out
and make myself feel better and more optimal.
Ari: What I love about this and what I want everyone to kind of gain from this is whether you're
trying to be more productive or healthier or whatever it is, there are different pathways for
them. A lot of people tell you that a good diet is the basis for doing anything but if you want to
be a better athlete or you want to do better on your SAT’s, whatever it might, they could say it’s
the diet. Some people might say sleep, some people may say it’s meditation. Regardless of
what it is, Bob is giving you guys a really good example and I've had these experiences myself, a
really good example of somebody who is not a biologist or a doctor or another kind of scientist
can really experiment with their body, measure the performance and the changes and then
continue along that pathway to what works and what doesn’t. I find that changing the bullet
proof for 30 days and measuring those metrics is such a perfect example of why Quantified Self
makes so much sense. What I really want to end with is what I do with everybody. I’d like to
know what your top three personal productivity tips are. The things that make you better every
Bob: Top three? I would say the first, even though it does sort of relate to body and mind it has a
definite impact on productivity. I think it’s important for people, especially if you have a very
high pressure lifestyle to have an outlet to relieve the stress. What I mean is there's two parts
to it. One is the ability to sort of clear your mind. I know some people practice meditation and
they find the moment to sort of do that. For me, I'm a musician; I played in bands for years.
Sometimes you have a situation where you have to focus all of your attention on something
else. It takes my mind off everything else that’s sort of happening in my life. It’s a way to sort of
escape and it is a very Zen sort of outlet for me. Also, playing team sports; I'm an active soccer
player. When I'm playing soccer, again, it’s just a way for me to both get exercise but it lets my
mind drift off away from thinking about all the things that are going on in my life [17:31]. It’s a
little bit different than going to the gym in the morning. For me, my entire day I don’t have any
alone time. From the moment I wake up, girlfriend, dog, work, everything else, the gym is
actually the one place where I can sort of have a moment to reflect. It helps me sort of get
through the morning; first thing in the morning. It’s a way for me to think through my day a
little bit. By the time I get to work, I've sort of worked a lot of things out in my head. That’s sort
of like a 2 in 1 tip; the second, I would say is pretty important as well. You really need to
conserve your decision making energy. Low power is a treatable resource. There are days
where you can come home from work and be just completely exhausted and you're like, why? I
didn’t exercise today, I ate okay; I don’t know what wore me out, and it’s just the mental
decision making non-stop. If you're just constantly making those choices it can wear you down.
There was a great article recently in Vanity Fair where they interviewed Barrack Obama and he
talked about this. He actually said the only reason he only wears grey or blue suits is that he can
reduce his choices. He wants to tear down all his decision making and conserve his power only
for important decisions. I sort of try to take that to heart; when I can avoid having to make a
decision here [19:05], somebody else can do that for me. I have to focus my energy on more
important things in my life. Third, I started this early in the year. This is the idea of [19:19]
recent schedule. I borrowed this from Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter. He takes each day,
and you're always going to have other meetings and obligations and all that, but the moment
you have available when you're not in a meeting, you're not having something to do or some
assignment, you focus on an area. For me it’s work. Like Mondays, I could say that’s committed
to how the company works; management meeting or a new business strategy. So, people know
don’t bother me on Wednesday with that kind of question or request. We’ll get to it. I’ll split
the week up so I might do a morning; each area has a morning, one day and afternoon the
other. One day might be product development, one might be communication, one is HR
company calls or recruitment or writing financial. So, the idea of scheming, for me, it allows me
to always remain focused. I know on any given day like what am I working on when I'm not
doing something else. It keeps me very on point. Also, allows other people around me to
clearly already know what I'm working on and when to sort of bother me or if they want to
make a request, they know when I can get to it.
Ari: Those are really pretty diverse and really good examples; I love it. Thank you for those. Where
can people find out more about what you're doing and what you're working on?
Bob: Yeah, go to QuantifiedBob.com or just follow quantifiedbob on twitter. That’s where you'll find
my exploits; I’ll try to be posting more frequently. I've a bunch of personal experiments queued
up. The challenge is you can only run a certain amount at any given time because you don’t
want to impact one experiment with another. I've got some pretty interesting experiments
planned as far as to focus on mental acuity, stress release, as well as trying to improve cognitive
Ari: Hey, sorry. We lost you for a second. You said you have some pretty cool experiments and
what else did you say?
Bob: Oh, did you drop out on the last part?
Bob: I've got some interesting personal experiments chewed up. I was saying how you can’t do
everything at once because if you're running numerous experiments some may impact the
others. You need to stabilize and have a baseline, certainly. I'm doing some things related to
quantifying things around stress, along with mental acuity, and trying to raise intelligence in
terms of cognitive function.
Ari: Okay, cool. Actually, cognitive stuff is something that I've been focusing on recently, too.
Maybe we’ll be able to swap notes. Bob, thank you so much for talking to me, it is always
fascinating to me to hear from someone who’s tracking something from such a high level.
Thanks for your time and I hope everybody gets a chance to check out Bob’s site and follow
Bob: Thanks, Ari.