Using Data toHack My Habits andWhip Up My WillpowerShow-and-Tell SessionQuantified Self ConferenceMay 2013Mark Leavittmark...
Using Data toHack My Habits andWhip Up My WillpowerShow-and-Tell SessionQuantified Self ConferenceMay 2013Mark Leavittmark...
The Experiment• Age: 57• Diet: typical American• Weight: 190 lb / 86 kg• Activity: sedentary• Workouts: zeroStarting Point...
The Experiment• Age: 57• Diet: typical American• Weight: 190 lb / 86 kg• Activity: sedentary• Workouts: zeroCan Quantified...
My 4-Step Approach1. Learn2. Model3. Track4. Hack
LearnThe Willpower InstinctKelly McGonigal, Ph.D.The Power of HabitCharles DuhiggYounger Next YearChris Crowley &Henry S. ...
LearnThe Willpower InstinctKelly McGonigal, Ph.D.The Power of HabitCharles DuhiggYounger Next YearChris Crowley &Henry S. ...
Model: My Brain(Oversimplified, But It Works for Me)PRIMITIVE Loop• Found in all animals• Short-term rewards• Unconscious ...
Model: My Brain(Oversimplified, But It Works for Me)ADVANCED Loop• Sophisticated, humans only• Long-term goals• Conscious,...
Model: Self-TrackingADVANCED Loop• Sophisticated, humans only• Long-term goals• Conscious, willpower• “Pause and plan”PRIM...
Model: Self-HackingADVANCED Loop• Sophisticated, humans only• Long-term goals• Conscious, willpower• “Pause and plan”PRIMI...
Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightLow-fat diet +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Gradual backslide• Tracking drop-off#FAIL
Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightLow-fat diet +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Gradual backslide• Tracking drop-off#FAIL
Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightHacks:• Enhanced data visualization• Go 100% vegan -- no fuzzy rules• Use willpower upstream – ...
Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightHacks:• Enhanced data visualization• Go 100% vegan -- no fuzzy rules• Use willpower upstream – ...
Habit 2: ActivityA Hack to Make ‘Seat Time’ More ActiveAttachedmini-ellipticalexerciserHacked seatSplit keyboard in armsKn...
Habit 2: ActivityA Hack to Make ‘Seat Time’ More ActiveAttachedmini-ellipticalexerciserReal-timered/yellow/greenfeedback l...
Habit 2: Activity
Habit 2: ActivityResult:• 70,000 steps/wk
Habit 3: Strength TrainingPerform strength trainingafter aerobic exercise +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Backslide afte...
Habit 3: Strength TrainingPerform strength trainingafter aerobic exercise +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Backslide afte...
Habit 3: Strength TrainingHacks:• Same 3 days every week• Early AM (highest willpower)• Eat 1 orange before workout(rising...
Habit 3: Strength TrainingHacks:• Same 3 days every week• Early AM (highest willpower)• Eat 1 orange before workout(rising...
Experimental ResultsStarting point(2007)Present day(2013)Nutrition /WeightUnhealthyAmerican diet;190 lb / 86 kg100% plant-...
What Did I Learn?Life-long habits can be changed!
What Did I Learn?Life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.
What Did I Learn?Even life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.Make a mental model...
What Did I Learn?Even life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.Make a mental model...
What Did I Learn?Even life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.Make a mental model...
Thanks for listening!Questions and DiscussionContact info:Email: mark@markleavitt.comTwitter: @markleavittWebsite: marklea...
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Mark Leavitt: Using Data to Hack My Habits and Whip Up My Willpower - Show and Tell for QS Europe May 2013

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This is a show-and-tell presentation I will be giving at the Quantified Self EU Conference, May 11-12, 2013.

  • @Mainardo Manzano Thanks for the positive feedback, and best of success with your own goals!
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  • Awesome experimentation. I like the fact that failures are an integral part of the experiment. Hacking the brain, taking in the good is the surest way to make significant and measurable transformation. Your 4 steps where very significant to the achievement of your goal. Approach1. Learn2. Model3. Track4. Hack Thank you.
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Mark Leavitt: Using Data to Hack My Habits and Whip Up My Willpower - Show and Tell for QS Europe May 2013

  1. 1. Using Data toHack My Habits andWhip Up My WillpowerShow-and-Tell SessionQuantified Self ConferenceMay 2013Mark Leavittmark@markleavitt.com
  2. 2. Using Data toHack My Habits andWhip Up My WillpowerShow-and-Tell SessionQuantified Self ConferenceMay 2013Mark Leavittmark@markleavitt.com
  3. 3. The Experiment• Age: 57• Diet: typical American• Weight: 190 lb / 86 kg• Activity: sedentary• Workouts: zeroStarting Point (2007)
  4. 4. The Experiment• Age: 57• Diet: typical American• Weight: 190 lb / 86 kg• Activity: sedentary• Workouts: zeroCan Quantified Self techniqueshelp me transformthese life-long habits?
  5. 5. My 4-Step Approach1. Learn2. Model3. Track4. Hack
  6. 6. LearnThe Willpower InstinctKelly McGonigal, Ph.D.The Power of HabitCharles DuhiggYounger Next YearChris Crowley &Henry S. Lodge, M.D.
  7. 7. LearnThe Willpower InstinctKelly McGonigal, Ph.D.The Power of HabitCharles DuhiggYounger Next YearChris Crowley &Henry S. Lodge, M.D.
  8. 8. Model: My Brain(Oversimplified, But It Works for Me)PRIMITIVE Loop• Found in all animals• Short-term rewards• Unconscious habits• “I want that NOW”
  9. 9. Model: My Brain(Oversimplified, But It Works for Me)ADVANCED Loop• Sophisticated, humans only• Long-term goals• Conscious, willpower• “Pause and plan”PRIMITIVE Loop• Found in all animals• Short-term rewards• Unconscious habits• “I want that NOW”
  10. 10. Model: Self-TrackingADVANCED Loop• Sophisticated, humans only• Long-term goals• Conscious, willpower• “Pause and plan”PRIMITIVE Loop• Primitive, all animals• “I want it NOW”• Short-term rewards• Automatic, unconsciousSelf-Tracking:Increasing myawareness ofunconscious habitsand their effects
  11. 11. Model: Self-HackingADVANCED Loop• Sophisticated, humans only• Long-term goals• Conscious, willpower• “Pause and plan”PRIMITIVE Loop• Primitive, all animals• “I want it NOW”• Short-term rewards• Automatic, unconsciousSelf-Tracking:Increasing myawareness ofunconscious habitsand their effectsSelf-Hacking:Using knowledgeand willpower toto create / hack intothose habits
  12. 12. Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightLow-fat diet +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Gradual backslide• Tracking drop-off#FAIL
  13. 13. Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightLow-fat diet +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Gradual backslide• Tracking drop-off#FAIL
  14. 14. Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightHacks:• Enhanced data visualization• Go 100% vegan -- no fuzzy rules• Use willpower upstream – at thegrocery store, not the tableResult:• Within target zone• Stable >18 months#wØØt
  15. 15. Habit 1: Nutrition / WeightHacks:• Enhanced data visualization• Go 100% vegan -- no fuzzy rules• Use willpower upstream – at thegrocery store, not the tableResult:• Within target zone• Stable >18 months#wØØt
  16. 16. Habit 2: ActivityA Hack to Make ‘Seat Time’ More ActiveAttachedmini-ellipticalexerciserHacked seatSplit keyboard in armsKnees free to move
  17. 17. Habit 2: ActivityA Hack to Make ‘Seat Time’ More ActiveAttachedmini-ellipticalexerciserReal-timered/yellow/greenfeedback lightHacked seatSplit keyboard in armsKnees free to moveAll datacaptured inself-trackingdatabase
  18. 18. Habit 2: Activity
  19. 19. Habit 2: ActivityResult:• 70,000 steps/wk
  20. 20. Habit 3: Strength TrainingPerform strength trainingafter aerobic exercise +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Backslide after 3 months• Compliance poor: mostweeks, I skipped 1 or 2 ofthe 3 desired sessions#FAIL
  21. 21. Habit 3: Strength TrainingPerform strength trainingafter aerobic exercise +Basic Tracking• Initial success• Backslide after 3 months• Compliance poor: mostweeks, I skipped 1 or 2 ofthe 3 desired sessions#FAIL
  22. 22. Habit 3: Strength TrainingHacks:• Same 3 days every week• Early AM (highest willpower)• Eat 1 orange before workout(rising glucose increases willpower)• Eat breakfast after session (reward)Result:• Increased strength• 96% compliance#wØØt
  23. 23. Habit 3: Strength TrainingHacks:• Same 3 days every week• Early AM (highest willpower)• Eat 1 orange before workout(rising glucose increases willpower)• Eat breakfast after session (reward)Result:• Increased strength• 96% compliance#wØØt
  24. 24. Experimental ResultsStarting point(2007)Present day(2013)Nutrition /WeightUnhealthyAmerican diet;190 lb / 86 kg100% plant-based diet;147 lb / 67 kgActivity Sedentary5 miles / 8 kmdaily averageStrength Zero workouts3 workouts/wk96% compliance
  25. 25. What Did I Learn?Life-long habits can be changed!
  26. 26. What Did I Learn?Life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.
  27. 27. What Did I Learn?Even life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.Make a mental model ofwillpower and habit mechanisms.
  28. 28. What Did I Learn?Even life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.Make a mental model ofwillpower and habit mechanisms.Expect first attempts to fail.
  29. 29. What Did I Learn?Even life-long habits can be changed!Learn some science,but beware of its limitations.Make a mental model ofwillpower and habit mechanisms.Expect first attempts to fail.Keep iterating through track-hack cycles.
  30. 30. Thanks for listening!Questions and DiscussionContact info:Email: mark@markleavitt.comTwitter: @markleavittWebsite: markleavitt.com

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