The Health Metrics that I’m Keeping Track of

person holding on red pen while writing on book
Disclaimer:

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I’m currently tracking my health in a spreadsheet because I want to be more aware of how I’m doing. I’m specifically interested in observing my mental health and diabetes wellness.

In the past, I’ve used blood glucose log books to keep track of my glucose readings, which is a pretty standard practice. However, now, my glucose meter and insulin pump keep track of that for me, so I don’t keep a separate manual record. Instead, I’m recording a few specific health metrics into a spreadsheet, because I’m curious on what I can learn about myself from these numbers.

I also have studied OKRs a bit and one take away is to measure what matters — whatever you are measuring tends to get better, if there’s a way to influence it. It’s on your mind. Seeing the numbers makes you want to improve.

When you think about health metrics, there are a lot of things that one could record, and these things vary in how much control we have over them, but let’s list out some possible things we could record:

  • weight
  • height
  • fasting glucose level
  • blood pressure
  • hours of sleep
  • temperature
  • oxygen saturation
  • calories and/or carbohydrates eaten
  • salt intake
  • exercise
  • pain levels and location
  • bowel movements
  • caffeine intake
  • medication usage

The body is complex and there’s a lot to pay attention to. And a lot we can try to influence. Self awareness is a good first step.

Keeping a health journal is also helpful so that you can provide your doctor with an accurate timeline of your health issues and trends.

While this may change in the future, I’m paying special attention to the following health metrics right now:

Time in Range (TIR)

I am keeping track of the percentage of time I’m in range each day. I’m using the standard range of 70-180mg/dL. My Medtronic 670G Insulin Pump has a history which provides the time in range for each day, so every day I record the time in range percentage in the spreadsheet.

The effect this has is that I tend to keep a tighter control because I’m watching this number and setting a goal for myself to keep a high time in range. For more on Time in Range (TIR), check out Diatribe’s article on Time in Range. The general suggestion is to aim for at least a 70% TIR, but everyone is different. I think a good starting point is to look at your current TIR and try for a goal that’s slightly better, and then when you reach that goal, try for an even better goal. You may run into a cap of what you can achieve with your current treatment plan — if you do, discuss with your doctor to see what suggestions they have!

A high Time in Range (TIR) is correlated with a lower likelihood of having complications.

When I’m doing well on controlling my blood glucose, my time in range is above 80%. There are days that are exceptions — but keeping track of TIR motivates me to do my best.

My Insulin Pump provides a history with a lot of detailed information!

Mood

I believe that mental health is critical to overall health. I would even say “mental health first.” Taking good care of your diabetes is a lot easier when feeling happy.

I don’t always feel happy. I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I have swings of depression and hypomania. Fortunately, I’ve been pretty stable for a long time, but I do have some periods of time where I feel mildly down, as well as some “up” feeling days.

I’m using a simple -3 to +3 scale where 0 is neutral, which is a common way to quantify mood for people with bipolar disorder. For example, see this mood chart. However, while researching this article, I found that there’s another type of mood scale which does from 0 to 13 and 6-7 is considered “normal.” I may switch to that scale.

Basically, I want to keep track of my mood so that I can see if I’m starting to have an episode. It’s about self awareness. If needed, it’s something I can bring to a doctor, to ask for help.

person in gray jacket walking on pathway between trees during daytime
I’m keeping track of my rainy days. That way I can tell if I’m starting to feel depressed for more often than normal and will have that information to share with my doctor.

Menstrual Cycle

As a female who gets a period, it’s helpful to know when that’s expected. Also, I’m curious as to how much insulin needs vary with time of month. I’ve written about insulin needs changing due to hormonal changes that happen as part of the menstrual cycle and I’m curious to see that in myself.

Total Daily Insulin Amount

What is my insulin requirement? How much does it change? I copy this number down from my insulin pump history. I’m hoping to see the connections between this number and my menstrual cycle, my mood and exercise.

Exercise

Did I exercise? What kind of exercise and for how long?

Exercise is important to overall health, so I’m keeping track of it. It also tends to effect my daily insulin amount because when I exercise more, I need less insulin.

Check out my previous blog posts about diabetes and mental health

Share your thoughts below

I’d love to hear what you’re keeping track of or what you plan to start logging.

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