Can technology teach me to pace?
A conversation with Harry Leeming of Visible
If you’re a regular reader or listener to The Rest Room, you’ll know that I harp on a lot about pacing.
As frustrating as it is, living with energy-limiting health conditions means that, whether I like it or not, my daily (and then cumulative) exertion (be that physical, cognitive, or emotional) plays a substantial role in my ability to function.
Of course, there are so many factors that are outside of our control, beyond what we do on any given day. Case in point: my current blip has been directly impacted by a cumulation of several months of externally stressful things, and my bucket hath, as I like to say, overfloweth.
But, I also continued to push myself when my capacity was lower, as if those things weren’t happening. And the reality of my illnesses is that if I do too much, or push myself past my energy envelope, I will experience post-exertional symptom exacerbation, a crash, or a flare-up.
But, given that I have fluctuating conditions, what level of exertion is safely within my energy envelope? How do I know what activities my body can tolerate? And how do I wrangle my natural tendencies in which I’m somewhat (*cough*) prone to overdoing it to the point of collapse?
This is a big reason why I’m super interested in better understanding the role exertion plays in the exacerbation of my symptoms, figuring out my warning signs that I need to slow down, and the role of tools and techniques, like pacing, to help me manage them.
So, when I heard that a new startup called Visible was building wearable technology to help people with energy-limiting conditions learn how to pace - by using real-time data from our own bodies to understand how exertion is impacting our health - I got extremely excited.
Visible is an activity tracking platform for illness, not fitness. Think Fitbit, but the total opposite! Instead of telling you to move when you’ve been sitting still for too long, it will tell you when when you’re overexerting and need to rest.
I was delighted to be invited to join the Visible team in April of this year as their Content Lead, and have had the opportunity to contribute to the development of the product.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months thinking about how we conceptualise and communicate exertion for energy-limiting chronic illnesses, and learning how we can use technology to better understand our conditions - with the aim of reducing symptoms and (importantly) suffering.
As soon as I heard about Visible, I knew that it could be a gamer changer for me (and hopefully so many others). I’m hoping that by getting more of an objective understanding (and some external validation) of what’s happening inside my body, I’ll be able to pace better, and in turn, not only predict, but reduce the number of crashes I’m experiencing.
Because of my job, I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the early testers of Visible, and the data I’ve seen so far about my own body is… well…let’s just say, not surprising but kind of depressing!
I’ve learned that over the last week or so I’ve been overexerting a lot more than I thought, and it’s helped me get a better understanding of my current, lower, capacity and how my body is responding to the different things I do throughout the day.
So, I’m really excited to finally be able to share Visible with you and welcome our co-founder, CEO (and my boss!) Harry Leeming as our guest on today’s episode of The Rest Room.
It’s a wide-ranging discussion in which we explore Harry’s experiences with Long Covid and being disbelieved, all the really cool work that’s happening at Visible, the science behind it, and how we hope it will help people living with energy-limiting chronic illnesses.
We also discuss how Visible will contribute to research to push forward the science on these conditions, and break some of the stigma by literally helping you make your invisible illness visible.
To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.
Please note: if you receive this email within the first few hours of it being sent out, it might take a few hours for the podcast to filter through to some of the podcast platforms like Amazon or Spotify.
Thanks to my brilliant producer Philly Guillou at OG Podcasts, to Lucy Dove for the episode art, and to Amit Rai for my intro music.