N of 1 Micro-Journal
A proactive and enthusiastic journey towards human performance, healthy aging and longevity
A tool for self knowledge
Once the COVID lockdowns started and I bought my first wearable (Oura ring) and started on a quantified sleep improvement project. A few months of data later I decided I needed to weave in the biological science of the menstrual cycle and so I read a 300pg book on it. I started complementing my digital data with a micro-journal; and three years, two more wearables (Garmin / Whoop), copious reading on the latest longevity science, and several editions of my customized journal later, I have developed my N of 1 Menstrual Micro-Journal.
It has helped me acquire valuable #SelfKnowledge and I am now creating my own personal healthy aging plan, as well as working on collecting and organizing digital bio marker data as well as qualitative data that would be useful in anticipating, mitigating and managing perimenopause when the time comes.
The value & power of insight
Not having any form of data or awareness of one's body and experiences within it, is akin to driving a car without a dashboard. Luckily today, there are many forms of wearable sensors which can help us gather biometric data and glean insights into the state of our body. However our perceptions, experience and daily activities are also correlated to the biomarker data and journaling is an excellent way to bring awareness to how those elements intersect and connect.
This micro-journal has been refined over the years to capture menstrual cycle related body and mind changes as well as the biomarkers associated with it. Through the use of it I have been able to identify relationships between hormonal changes in my cycle as well as changes to my sleep, mood, appetite as well as body. It has helped me make positive changes which have improved the quality of my life and experience in my body.
A monthly check-in
Keeping tabs on healthy aging goals
After three years of micro-journaling and collecting digital biomarkers I have a good sense of what normal looks like throughout my cycle. I then augmented that with a monthly check in around weight, BMI, muscle mass and fat percentage. This helped me see the impact of how a couple months of being relatively more sedentary increased my body fat and decreased my muscle mass. Muscle being an important healthy aging component. So I decided to track it more regularly so that I can catch adverse changes before they trend.
Another important element for healthy aging is a healthy heart and one of the contributors to that is VO2Max which I now track and aim to improve. Seeing it every month reminds me of that goal.
Reviewing last year's micro journal I realized that there were some body related improvements I needed but didn't realize because I wasn't able to see the trends of persistent issues. Adding in the body figure to the monthly check in which a comments section is the current way I am looking to catch body issues before they become chronic or serious. The result so far has been a quicker turn around in seeing a professional.
One concrete recent result has been seeing a physiotherapist who understood an alignment issue relating to a childhood foot injury and scanned my foot and made custom 3D printed insole orthotics which have been a game changer and have improved my posture too!
Seeing the cycle at one glance
Unlocking menstrual patterns
According to the National Institute of Health, the menstrual cycle is the 5th vital sign. Menstrual health is a key indicator of overall health and being able to understand one's individual experience with the cyclical hormonal fluctuations is a super power in and of itself.
I had been cycle tracking for many years but it had only been to track the dates and nothing more. But over the years I have developed a more refined way to journal my menstrual experiences in a way that I can visually see and in a format that is accessible for me. Writing thoughts and feelings in a journal has been way to get closer to myself and my body's menstrual experience.
Some examples include avoiding meetings in the morning during some parts of my luteal phase and intentionally making more effort to do aerobic exercises during my luteal phase. This has been a new form of self-care and self-compassion that I have enjoyed. I have documented some of these findings on Thrive here.
There is not enough research being done on the women's physiology and there continues to be a concerning gap in research and interest relating to the female biology and life experience across all stages (puberty, period, motherhood, post partum, perimenopause, menopause). An n of 1 study can be invaluable to acquiring the self knowledge that can be useful in improving the quality of the lived experience in one's body and one's over all life.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and connecting with all those interested in the pursuit of self knowledge in our species' human performance, healthy aging and longevity journey.