How to Use Your Wearable to Never Get Sick Again

We all know the feeling.

You wake up with your eyelids weirdly sticking together. Your head lightly throbs as you wake up, your throat scratches at is yearns for water. Dammit, you’re sick.

The first thing you’ll want to do is sleep in, of course. Then, you’ll grab for the zinc and vitamin D and start steeping the tea. These are great steps to healing, of course, but we all know that by this point it’s too late. The virus has already come, and really, there’s nothing we’re going to be able to do now except ride out the cold or flu symptoms, lying in your bed.

If only you’d known you were going to get sick, you would’ve taken the few previous days much easier and stomped the pathogen in its path. But, obviously you can’t know you’re going to get sick until you’re, well, sick.

Or can you.

Wearable devices like Whoop Bands provide you with all kinds of information. And, if you know what you’re looking at, you can predict when your immune system will be working over time and your body will be predisposed to catching an illness.

In fact, all you have to do is look at these two metrics and, if you respond appropriately, you can glean the information necessary so you don’t get sick at all. Imagine if you all those sick days you typically deal with year in and year out were replaced with some of your most productive, energetic days.

You just have to look at these two numbers carefully: resting heart rate, and heart rate variability

This is why we track 2 metrics that will allow you to prevent sickness and reduce your number of sick days:

Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability

Before we get into to talking about these two common metrics and their relationship to one another, first we have to understand why we get sick. Now, novel viruses like SARS-COV2 (COVID-19) aside, getting the flu and the common cold — and their effects on us — depends not only on encountering pathogens but also whether our immune system is able to ward off those pathogens.

If we have elevated stress levels, are working out hard, and not sleeping as much or as well as we need to, the immune system will take a hit, leaving us more susceptible to common illness. 

Our immune system’s ability to respond to pathogens, simply, depends on our recovery from all of life’s stresses. So the question then becomes, how can I tell when the stress of my life exceeds my recovery?

Resting Heart Rate 

As your recovery slides and your body becomes fatigued, one fo the first easily recognizable signs will be your resting heart rate. Your wearable will record your resting heart rate while you sleep each night. This will give you a consistent day-to-day log for your RHR. And, generally, you’ll see a consistent number.

If your RHR rises up about 10-15% over the course of two days, that’s a sign you’re more fatigued than normal, and you should take the precautions for recovery as if you were sick. So, if your RHR is normally 50 beats per minute, and suddenly it’s 55, that’s a red flag. If this happens, cancel your workouts, get extra sleep, steep the tea, take the zinc and vitamin D. Ease off of the stress on your body.

Heart Rate Variability

HRV, as the name implies, is a measure the fluctuation (variation) in your heart beats. If your HRV is high, that means your heart rate varies more, a sign that it’s responding to changes in your environment. For example, if you start run, your heart rate will shoot up. The quicker it shoots up, the better your body is responding, and the higher your HRV will be. During activity is an extreme example, but even while we’re sleeping our body has different demands at different moments, and a high HRV is a sign our body is aptly responding. 

When you’re underrecovered and stressed, a drop in HRV will be one of the first signs. It means your body (and heart, specifically) aren’t responding the way they should. A 5-10% drop means you should ease off of your stress levels and prioritize your recovery above all else.

What Happens When These Head In the Wrong Direction

Often, your resting heart rate will have an inverse relationship with your HRV: when one drops, the other rises. If you want to ward off illness before you feel its effects, its paramount ot take action on this data before you start to feel symptoms. Once you’re symptomatic, you’re going to have to ride it out.

Getting sick is a lot like getting a small injury. Nobody wants to stretch when they feel good, but once they pull their hip flexor, you’ll see them on the foam roller all day. When really, if they just regularly stretched their hip flexors when they felt good, they wouldn’t have gotten injured in the first place.

That’s what sickness is like too. Except, with the wearable, you now have to data to know when exactly you need to prioritize recovery and taking care of your body.

Using your wearable device to make small changes is a perfect example of what mean when we talk about the importance of “being a pro.”

The ONE Prerequisite For Reaching Any Goal

One day this summer when Alyse and I were in Florida, we were out on the water with our friends. As you do when you’re boating, you don’t actually spend most of the day boating. You pack your lunch, your drinks, your sunglasses, and then boat out to a place where the waves or calm, the breeze refreshing but not overwhelming.

brown ship sailing on sea during daytime

On this July Florida day, we headed out to a cove and found the perfect spot. As soon as the engine was turned off, I dove into the cool water.

But then, I noticed the boat seemed to be moving away from.

“Justin,” Alyse called out, “We didn’t put the anchor down yet, the boat’s going to keep moving away from you.”

Now I felt like the only thing that mattered was swimming back to the boat, even if it wanted to elude my grasp. That was my goal, and it looked so far away and impossible to get to. If I didn’t move, this goal would get further away.

Often in life, we feel like our goal is so far away.

We look and you see it and seems like from me to the boat feels like it’s just eons away and those steps (or in this case strokes) to get there are so hard.

Each time I did my best Michael Phelps impression, a wave came and knocked me back ten feet. At some point, I was just trying to stay above the water.

But, I just focused on step at a time, on the process of stroke after stroke.

I had a Alyse there coaching (or more aptly put, making fun of) me as I moved.

Eventually, I made it back to the boat right as the anchor caught on the bottom of the sea.

And in one semi-pull-up motion I yanked myself out of the water and onto the boat. I was like Zac Efron in Baywatch (not really). 

But that triumphant moment was a result of consistency.

If we just take one step at a time and focus on the process… Maybe we have mentors and coaches to help us along the way, helping us create a systems that we can follow day in and day out, then over time that distanced between you and the goal you’re looking up at will shrivel away.

When you pop on to the platform of your goals, everybody will be astonished when you pop out of the proverbial water, and on to your platform of success.

But it’s all about consistency.

The moment you fall the love with the journey, the moment everything becomes simple. What is your journey, and what system are you on?

Why Business Leaders Need to “Be a Pro”

As leaders and high-performers in business (or aspiring leaders), we need to treat our bodies the same way the professional athletes I work with do.

Sure, it may sound like an NHL hockey player and a CEO don’t have much in common with regards to preparation, but often the demands of the business leader are even higher.

A CEO is often expected to “play” 14 hours a day. Now, we would never expect Lebron James to be on the court 42 minutes a night, or Sidney Crosby to be on the ice for 60 minutes a night. 

If these athletes did, we wouldn’t expect them to make the right decisions, perform their role, or be their best. 

As the essayist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, Those who work much do not work hard.”

You need to give yourself a reprieve and recovery so you can bounce back…

And ultimately be the best you can be.

That’s why I tell our clients at the top of business game: 

You Need To Be a Pro

Act like a pro.

Train like a pro. 

Eat like a pro.

Recover like a pro. 

Sleep like a pro. 

I’ll share one story of a client who’s a CEO of a major company.

He told me, “Justin, I’ve been eating like an a**hole.”

Then I ask him how he’s sleeping, and recovering from his workouts, and, unsurprisingly, those are missing the mark for what needs to be performing at his best.

“Hm. I guess I’m just an a**hole,” he replied with a chuckle, knowing he needed to make changes to his nutrition to solve those other issues that were hurting his performance at work.

I told him to imagine how much more quality work he could get done… how much better his decisions would be… how paradoxically taking the time to treat your body like a pro athlete would open up empty space in your life.

He needed to start treating himself like a pro.

And, if you want to feel your best, perform your best, and advance to the top of your field, you should too.

The First Steps to Being a Pro

Professional athletes have a process. Some of them always take a pregame nap, others have a ritual meal. On the days where they’re not competing, they have routines around recovery, sleep, training so they can be ready for those competition days. 

Establish a Routine

Top professional athletes know what they need to do on gameday to prepare. You should too. Only for you, almost every day is a “game day.”

You need to have a process. Imagine sitting at your desk in the morning, having done your workout, having woken up refreshed.

Because it’s all a part of your process, you can hit the ground running from the first moment and you start working.

You have a very clear understanding of what you need to accomplish. 

The evening comes, and you know what you’re going to do before bed (your nighttime routine, which I’ll cover in another article). You know what time your phone goes away, when you have your last bite of food and your supplements. It’s all part of your routine. 

With your life set up this way, imagine how much more productive you would be? Imagine how much more quality work you would get done? 

Imagine the fewer errors you would make are the speed at which you would increase the work you accomplish.

Whether you’re already a CEO or another high-performer, you’re not just trying to be another brick in the wall of the machine. You are or are trying to be in the top 1% of all achievers in North America, to be the type of person people strive to seep into the footprints of… just like pro athletes.

Start By Monitoring

As you’ll see will be a theme, there’s no way to know what diet, exercise program, or nightly sleep routine works best for you unless you’re looking at metrics. The old adage is “What get’s measured gets managed,” but it goes deeper than that. “What gets measured gets manipulated.” If you don’t know how well you’re sleeping, eating, or exercising, how can you make changes?

We’ll be diving in deeper with each of these topics, but for now, the best thing you can do is start measuring these. Then, use those metrics to guide you in finding your pro-like routine. 

Make The Most of Your One Shot

In life, we only get one opportunity. I know, I sound like an Eminem song. 

But, it’s true. And, even though it may be a bit trite, it’s always a good reminder to tell ourselves that it’s never too late to take a chance, to reinvent ourselves, to steer in the direction of our dreams instead of trudging along a path where we’re digging a deeper and deeper ditch.

I’ve had stretches where I thought I was heading the right direction, but I didn’t realized what it was doing to me. Whether it was my anorexic youth brought on comments from a hockey coach, or the pattern of needing drugs to get through crazy workdays. I needed stimulants to get me going relaxants to sleep at night. I’ve been divorced, fired, completely lost, and unfulfilled.

I’ve felt that pain. You’ve probably felt that pain too. Or, you’re going through it now.

But whether you’re going through a difficult period right now, or whether you’re at your best and looking to go further (man, that’s the time to watch the magic happen), I have the same questions:

What are you investing in? 

I don’t just mean investing money. Are you investing in furthering yourself by reading books instead of scrolling through Instagram?

Who are you investing in?

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Which people are you investing most of your energy into? What changes could you make to shift your environment to surround yourself with people more conducive to your growth.

Where are you spending your time, your money, your attention?

Because we have one body, that’s it. One magnificent bag of carbon to guide us through this world until we pass on. We only get one shot at this. But it’s never too late to alter your direction, alter your path.

Business giant (co-founder of PayPal, among other features) Peter Thiel brought up a groundbreaking thought exercise on Tim Ferriss’s Podcast. He said, “if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: why can’t you do this in 6 months?”

As a pure thought exercise, put aside the (seeming) ridiculousness of the questions and think about it, journal on it.

It’s also a reminder to change the way you’re thinking. Imagine big goals even if at first they seem like they require massive otherworldly action. What are the simple steps you can take to achieving them?

Come back and think that movement, physically moving the body, physically challenging the body. It creates confidence and that confidence allows us to take massive action.

What if you could get your body where you want it to be in 2 years in 8 weeks? How would you maximize that and what kind of action would it take to get there?

Imagine you’ve taken those steps, and it takes you 12 weeks instead of 8. You’ve still saved yourself years of time by taking big action. Or, maybe those results aren’t exactly what you wanted after all, but you’ve still moved in the right direction. Now you tweek the plans, and with your new confidence, you take more action.

It becomes a positive feedback loop cycle where you’re now always improving. 

But it all started because you took the initial leap to improve your body.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s easy in this day and age to get caught up in what other people doing. Whether it’s the fitness experts, business gurus, friends, or your significant other, comparison is a natural human sentiment.

This year, everybody has had their struggles.

Personally, this year, I’ve worked on overcoming comparison myself to others, whether that’s Justin, colleagues, or people on social media.

With so much time alone with ourselves it’s given me the space to be more introspective about my connection with myself

Now, I’ve always had a positive connection with myself, but this year has allowed me dwell on it further, to deepen it, to identify who I really am, and ask questions about how I then carry that in my interactions with others.

In my introspection, I found myself asking myself: What unique perspectives, experiences, and skills do I carry with me in my interactions?

Once I did the introspective work, the comparison bug dissipated. I knew my experiences could also offer a new perspective and varying strengths to my interaction with colleagues, clients, and yes, my partner Justin.

I see myself as a valuable member of others’ support teams, and likewise, I now recognize more which relationships bring me up.

Now, I feel like I’m getting to closer to where all of my relationships bring me fulfillment and growth that’s greater than the sum of our individual experiences.

In other words, the sum is greater than its parts.

And it all started with looking inward, rather than outward at others.