Category Archives: Technology

Yeah I Bit

Being 599 years old now (50) I have turned into one of those “I used to walk 5 miles one way barefoot in the snow to school” people when relating how “hard” we had it back in the day and how soft the yutes of today are. I love saying stuff like, “back in the day we had to look in a phone book for a number or call and get direction or use an actual paper map to get somewhere. These churn know nothing of the hardships we dusties born in the 1960s had to endure. But, let’s be clear, I love my tech. I love saying “ok Google, give me the best chocolate chip cookie recipe while listening to Spotify on my fancy wireless speakers. When it comes to tech and fitness though, I’m decidedly old school. I think the most important tech you need is a good pair of shoes for whatever your activity is. Tech fabric is good too for old hot flashing broads like myself but the wearables? Nah B I’m good. My Timex Ironman tells me how long and how fast I’m going and any course I’m on has mile markers on it. Yet a funny thing happened in March 2015. I had the bright idea to take my old self to the store and get a wearable. I didn’t do any research either. I know my Soror swore by her wearable and if it was good enough for my diva sister it would be good enough for me. So I copped me a Fitbit.

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Being a semi-doubter I wasn’t about to drop any serious coin, so I got the next to the cheapest model, the One. It was cool, easy to set up and use and the app was clean. I stuck it on my strap and headed out the door, every day, that I remembered and logged 35 to 45k steps a week. Clearly short of the standard 10,000 a day “they ” say we’re supposed to get. It didn’t help me do any more than I was already doing. Then one day I forgot I had it clipped to mon brassiere and threw it in the washing machine. It no longer worked but I was not pressed. I was busy anyway, working all those jobs trying to get my life together. 10,000 steps, let alone a Fitbit, was the last thing on my mind. Then it happened.

I blew up!

Being a petite fleur, 5 lbs shows up quickly and I was up about 25. Then my doctor was on my case about it so, I got another ONE. I wore it every day got the steps in when I could and reached that fanatic tipping point where I would turn my car around and go back home and get the blasted Fitbit if I forgot it. Who does that? Me and a bunch of other weirdos who want to track every doggone thing. I was full-fledge addicted and it was nothing nice.

I started adding friends on Fitbit, participating in Challenges, and watched my dad and that same Soror whoop me every week in step totals. Didn’t care though, I was actually moving more, was actually getting those pounds off and winning a challenge every now and then. All that “success” justified a reward, that reward was an upgrade. Amazon had the Charge2 on sale and I had to have it.

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I was in love. So sleek, so fancy, telling me when to get up off my fanny and move, it was the bomb! Until it wasn’t. I missed my watch. My regular big old Ironman. I TOOK it off and put my One back on and watch my steps turn well, weird. I could walk through Wal-Mart and get a thousand steps with the One and get MAYBE a quarter of that with the Charge2. I could do my hair for an hour with the Charge2 and get a thousand steps sitting down. I called bulls***.

The Charge2 is arm sensitive/driven. Do a lot of arm moving and waving and those steps go up. Walk with little arm movement or if it isn’t loose enough on the arm the steps are woefully under counted. There’s some user forums and documents and such that tell you to measure your steps and calibrate to address those issues. Then I remembered why I didn’t get a wearable for such a long time. I ain’t trying to do ALL THAT.

Now it’s May 2017. I still wear them both but use the Charge2 mostly for cardio and strength training and the One for walking. As of the day of this writing I haven’t worn either for a few days and it’s been GREAT! You see sometimes too much of a good thing is exactly that, too much. Fitbit had me stressing over how much sleep I wasn’t getting (which was also dead wrong), how I can smoke my friends step count and going into full scale panic when I didn’t have it on. Do I think wearables are useful? Absolutely, they can be a motivator and provide instant feedback on what you’re doing. However they can’t be wholly relied upon to starting or maintaining a healthy body/healthy life. In my experience, how my body and mind feel continues to be the best gauge of stamina, strength, flexibility and how rested and mentally well I am. Might be the same for you too.

Tell me about your experience. Do you use a wearable to measure your exercise, steps, heart rate and such? How’s it working out for you? Let me know in the comments or in the usual spots and until next time, see you on the trail where I’ll be rocking my trusty Ironman and maybe a Fitbit hidden somewhere.

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P.S. add me on Fitbit ūüėÉ

Photos: MsThorns

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It’s Just Counting Right?

Screenshot_2013-11-29-17-01-15 (3)I count for a living. My fascination with numbers and statistics and such is lifelong and everything that I was able to learn and retain from my schooling many years ago I use in my daily life.  For those that count for a living, Lotus 123 and its successor that dwarfed it, Microsoft Excel, became the norm for the way we count things on the job.  Having mastered Excel at work, it became the tool for counting things at home, my budget, my collections and eventually my exercise.  I kept a fairly elaborate Excel spreadsheet with accompanying graphs for my exercise and weight data.  A couple of burglaries later I stopped recording in Excel and now just keep track of my exercise by calendar. Little did I know that this tracking I was doing had a name, the Quantified Self, there is even a movement with meet-ups and conferences.

According to the Wikipedia¬†entry¬†¬†the Quantified Self¬†“…¬†is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood,¬†arousal,¬†blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental¬†and physical). Such self-monitoring and self-sensing, which combines wearable sensors (EEG,¬†ECG, video, etc.) and¬†wearable computing, is also known as¬†lifelogging.” Guess I’ve been part of the movement as long as Excel has been around. ¬†What’s different now is that a lot of the technology is wearable and ¬†the data can be sent directly from the device on your body to the web where the analytics are done and reports generated by a click or touch. On the whole I think the movement is great. ¬†Technology that will get folks moving and eating food that’s good for them is a win for everybody. ¬†My results however of the technology-based quantified self have been mixed. 

The Rundown
Apps:
Nike+ Running¬†– I used the¬†app¬†on an¬†iPhone¬†3g¬†back in’ 09 I think. ¬†I tested it on a run in my favorite park where getting a GPS signal is dicey, as such the app mileage fell well short of the actual per the trail measurements. ¬†After another attempt at a different, more open park with a measured trail, the mileage was still short. Anything that cheats me out of my hard-earned mileage is a no-go.
Daily Burn¬†– Back in 2010 I’d put on some pounds, my eating was pretty much out of control so I used this app to count calories and found it really helpful. I returned to it this year and found that it was a pay program which is a definite no for me.
Sleepbot¬†– I’m a notoriously bad sleeper and wanted to try this out of¬†curiosity. ¬†This happened to be my favorite as it was the easiest to use and didn’t require any sign up. ¬†You pretty much set an alarm, turn the app on as you’re going to sleep and check out the results when you wake up. ¬†Only downside is that you have to put the phone in the bed with you. ¬†
MyFitnessPal¬†– I used this year because I felt I was eating too much and wanted to quantify just how much. ¬†The app and the site are free, easy to use and the database of foods is huge. ¬†The exercise component is great as well and allows you to add exercises that aren’t in the database, you do have to provide a calories burned number for any additions however. ¬†MyFitnessPal¬†does incorporate¬†Fitbit¬†so that would eliminate some manual entry.¬†
 
Wearable Devices:
Fitbit¬†I have some friends who love them. ¬†Having failed using simple stuff like a pedometer I passed on the clip-on models. ¬†The wrist models are a bit more compelling, I just haven’t pressed play on this as yet.
Sportline ¬†I borrowed the¬†heart monitor watch (below) and liked its simplicity/ease of use, but sometimes had difficulty with the bars picking up my pulse. ¬†I’m not sure if I was moving too much, hands were too sweaty or what.
 

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The Quantified Me, The Quantified You
Maybe I’m stubborn, cheap or both but for now I’m going to stick with the technology I trust to log what I’m doing, my¬†Ironman¬†Watch and the calendar on my phone. ¬†As new stuff comes along I’ll give it a whirl and maybe do a¬†test-drive¬†on a Fitbit, but if it requires anymore effort to use than the two items above then that piece of tech, whatever it is won’t make the cut.¬†
 

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How about you? Do you quantify yourself, what technology do you use?  Your suggestions and experiences using any of the technology to do so are welcomed in the comments. 
 
Until next time, see you on the trail or the gym with nothing but a watch and a phone, and clothes of course.

photos: msthorns