Apple’s Watching

new_shiny_toys_I’ve been a Fitbit fan since the beginning. Five years of tracking steps and movement, and I’m definitely a more active person because of it.

That said, it’s time to move on. When Apple announced the new Watch with GPS support and a future Pokémon Go app…yeah. Sorry, Fitbit. It’s not you, it’s me.

I’ve been saving my pennies to buy an Apple Watch, and it arrived a couple weeks ago. I even splurged for a colorful band.

My watch and I are still in the getting-to-know you phase. I appreciate the regular nudges to move around, and Apple has incorporated mindfulness into the routine as well with the Breathe app. I like that I get notifications without having to open my phone, though there aren’t many apps I use that are supported by the watch yet. That’s OK, since I’m mostly using it as a fitness tracker.

The most useful non-fitness-related app is the integration with Todoist; being able to walk through the grocery store and check items off my shopping list without opening my phone is cool. I’m not interested in browsing Instagram or Twitter from my wrist. No big thing.

One of the primary complaints from others is the watch’s size, but I have a large frame; it doesn’t look preposterous on me, and it’s smaller and much prettier than my Fitbit Surge. The screen isn’t as hard to read and interact with as I thought it would be, and I love that I can use Siri to send messages while I’m on the go.

The biggest downside I’ve discovered is an inconsistency with Apple’s Workouts app recognizing “exercise” minutes in the Activity app.

For example, if I set up a workout for a brisk walk (30-40 minutes at 3.0 mph or greater, sustained heart rate well within my target zone) and get only 10-15 exercise minutes.

Whereas if I don’t use Workouts and do the same walk (or even a less intense pace), I’ll get 20-30 exercise minutes. I’ve calibrated the watch twice now, but this happens regardless.  I’d have to run to get Workouts to recognize my activity as “exercise-worthy”, and everyone knows I don’t run unless I’m being chased by a large, hungry animal.

Until Apple can make their own apps play nice, I’ve scrapped using Workouts in favor of just walking. It’s not as exciting as logging my walks in an app, but I get a greater sense of satisfaction from seeing exercise minutes that I sweat my fat butt off for, thank you very much!

The other thing that bugs me is the lack of support for sleep tracking; I wasn’t doing that with the Fitbit because the band irritated my wrist if I didn’t take it off at night. The Apple Watch’s band doesn’t seem to irritate, so I’d love to be able to wear it all night, but the battery wouldn’t hold up. It seems like such an obvious thing, and I wish the batteries were up to the task.

But the truly terrible thing about the Apple Watch? Niantec still hasn’t released the Pokémon Go app! I’m awaiting the announcement with baited breath, ie. obsessively checking Apps for an update. I can’t wait to be able to walk my eggs without holding my phone.

I’ve been eyeing the Watch ever since it was first announced, and I’m glad I waited. They don’t have all the kinks worked out yet, obviously, but I’m pretty happy with it.

😃+

I did the WWWP5k!

Automattic runs/walks/hops

Where’s Waldo, #wwwp5k edition.

And it begins!

And it begins!

I’ve never been a runner. I will probably never be a runner. I tried Couch to 5K once and got about a week into the program before I decided to save my knees and walk instead.

But I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately (thanks Pokémon!), and my endurance has improved. Each year, Automattic does this world-wide WordPress 5k, and this year they’re donating to a good cause, so I figured what the heck; let’s do it!

Scenic Whistler

Scenic Whistler

I was with a small group of other walkers, and I had my trusty Pokémon to keep my mind occupied when I wasn’t chatting with my walking buddy (who was also playing Pokémon). It was chilly and rainy (45℉/7℃), but the scenery was beautiful and the company made it so much fun.

I may have found myself a new Grand Meetup tradition. 🙂

 

Post-5k Soggy Walkers selfie. Photo by Jen Hooks.

Post-5k Soggy Walkers selfie. Photo by Jen Hooks.

😃+

Pokémon Go-ing

Allllll the Flareons.

Allllll the Flareons.

My little summer obsession, along with 90% of the smartphone-holding world: Pokémon Go.

I must have been a bit old for the Pokémon thing when it first came around, so I came into this a novice. I had no idea what, exactly, a Pikachu was, or why I should care. I’d also never played Ingress, so the whole augmented reality thing adds a new twist.

I’m a sucker for gamifying exercise. A Fitbit kept me motivated for years, and I still wear a Surge every day. I used to play Just Dance and Wii Fit; anything to distract myself from the mindless monotony that is exercise, really.

IMG_1347I’d been in a movement rut since moving north. I lost interest in the Wii, and the treadmill got boring when I ran out of shows to binge watch on Netflix. We live in a beautiful area, but exploring beyond our one, long road means going on hikes into the deep woods, and I’m not a fan of bugs. Plus there’s always the chance you’ll encounter a moose or a bear or another large, angry animal that wants you to GTFO. Don’t get me wrong; I love nature, I just love it best when I’m indoors.

But thanks to Pokémon, my step counts and active minutes are up (my Fitbit is all, “Who are you???”), and I actually have a tan from spending so much time outside.

A TAN. Me, with the vampire complexion. I haven’t had a tan since I was a kid.

You're mine, Snorlax.

You’re mine, Snorlax.

So of course, I roped Tim and Mom into playing, too. We don’t have any Pokémon or Pokéstops within walking distance, but there are lots in town (ahh, small-town USA — you can’t walk ten feet without running into a church). The kids enjoy helping us catch monsters and evolving new ones. It’s given us something to do during monotonous trips to town for groceries and errands; the other day, we hunted down and caught a Snorlax in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I once spotted a Scyther flying around the kids’ dance school, but didn’t get to it in time.

I’ve also been exploring my surroundings, finding excuses to hang out in areas I would have ignored before; Boston’s seaport area was fun (all the Magikarps!), and the last time I went to Bangor, I walked around downtown and the UMaine campus. I plan to take a mini road trip up Route 1 to look for Pokémon soon. Northern Maine has no shortage of churches and statues, many of which are Pokéstops.

Who knows how long this will keep me interested, but I’m enjoying the extra movement and the excitement of discovering new monsters while it lasts. I doubt I’ll ever be one of those people who’s “addicted” to exercise, but if I can find a way to make it palatable and semi-regular such that I don’t feel like a total Slowpoke (see what I did there?), I’m happy.

😃+

health update, the last half year or so?

What the hell happened to last year’s health kick? Well, it kinda ran off the rails after I joined Automattic. My weight crept back up, I stopped paying attention to what I was eating, and my exercise routine was not so much a routine anymore. The results spoke for themselves — I felt gross and bloated, tired, not very happy. Boo.

So, in January I hopped (or, in my given condition, sluggishly oozed) back on the wagon, and now I’m feeling confident enough to tell you how things have been going.

January

  • Started Weight Watchers on a whim, after seeing one too many TV commercials. Was suspicious, but their “points” system makes it much easier to keep track of food, and the iPhone app is handy when we’re grocery shopping.
  • Also started playing Health Month again, because I noticed a lot of the habits I tracked last year have stuck — which is great! I regularly take my vitamins and floss my teeth. Maybe tracking some other healthy habits will help them stick, too. My rules involve drinking more water, hitting my target step goal, and remembering to track food.
  • Resumed a near-daily exercise routine, mostly Just Dance, and felt out of shape and silly, bouncing around like a monkey in my living room.
  • Went to Hawaii and put WW on hold (so much eating out) but did not come back fatter. Win/win.

February

  • Lost some weight. Did not feel too deprived while doing so.
  • Continued working out.
  • Added a new rule to Health Month — make an effort to get more quality alone time. I’m terrible about taking time for myself.

March

  • Lost more weight. Was warned I was losing too fast, so I started keeping closer track of Activity points, and eating them. I like eating.
  • Bought a food scale to more accurately measure portions.
  • 45-minute Just Dance workouts no longer made me want to die.

Now

  • I’ve lost 30 pounds since mid-January, over 35 total from after Gwen was born.
  • Fashion bonus: My jeans fit comfortably again.
  • Started Couch-to-5K. Just Dance is now easy, I need a physical challenge. It’s pretty hard to imagine me, jogging, but I’m sure stranger things have happened. I just can’t think of what…

Next 3 Months

  • I’d like to be able to jog a mile in less than 12 minutes, fairly comfortably, without needing to walk.
  • I need to set a new goal weight. I hope to lose between 12 & 24 pounds by the end of June.
  • Keep on keepin’ on.
😃+

health update, january

January is always a challenging month for me, personally. I’m not sure whose bright idea it was to start the new year in January–I’m hardly up for tackling major resolutions in the dead of winter. Wait until spring, then I might feel inclined to change my life, but this month is only good for hibernation.

In any case, I knew last week would be a wash due to Tim’s trip–playing chauffer to the girls meant no walking to and from work, and obviously I didn’t count on having a stomach virus. It was not a good week for exercise. I lost just over 10 pounds thanks to the flu, 5.5 of which I’ve gained back in the last week. But hey, that’s still a net loss of about 5 pounds, bringing the grand to-date total to 16 pounds lost. I can’t say I see the difference, but I feel better.

It’s hard to stay motivated now that it’s colder outside but I manage. This week I tried walking to Gwen’s daycare in the evenings, about twice the distance I’d normally walk in one trip (roughly 1.5 miles), but it’s very cold and a little treacherous due to ice on the sidewalks. On the upside, I’ve found it’s easy for me to walk that far now–that wasn’t the case three months ago! When spring comes it will be the perfect walk to end my workday.

Other than that, I’ve moved a lot of my exercise time indoors due to single-digit or lower temps. Tim is jumping on the “get healthier” bandwagon with me, and we’ve started playing Wii Sports in the evenings (I walk or jog in place between turns). I have yet to convince him to try Just Dance, but someday, someday. 😉

I’m still playing Health Month with success–it appeals to the overachiever in me. Despite last week’s setback, I haven’t had much difficulty following my rules, so in February I plan on tackling 6 rules instead of 3. I worry that I’m upping the ante too much too soon, but then remind myself, what’s the worst that could happen? Plus I’ve built in a bit of flexibility such that I get a free day each week.

One of the things I’ve been pondering is my motivation for continuing this project in the long term… what about it will keep me going after this has become routine? When the weight stops coming off? Or when I suddenly just don’t feel like doing it? My biggest fear is falling off the bandwagon and not getting back on. It’s funny because I’m really enjoying this new routine and you’d think the enjoyment would be motivation enough, but it’s not that simple. I suppose it just goes to show, even enjoyable things require effort.

Part of this means looking at past experiences and examining what caused them to fail, so I can make this round “stick.” A few points come to mind…

  • In the past, one failure meant total failure. Broke the no candy rule? Eat the whole bag. Forgot to exercise one day? Stop exercising for the rest of the week. I can’t let myself get bogged down with slippery-slope thoughts.
  • I have a tendency to let my actions (or lack thereof) have an unhealthy impact on my self-esteem. How much I eat, what I eat, what I weigh and how I exercise has no bearing on my worth as a person…. except in my mind. A single failure does not mean I am a failure. It’s a necessary distinction if I’m going to be successful in the long term.
  • I’m easily discouraged by big goals and I often fail to take into account the smaller steps and time required to achieve more complex things. I didn’t have the patience for “big picture” thinking in my early 20’s, but now I’m starting to understand the value of making small, incremental changes over time.
  • I have a tendency to set myself up for failure by being too inflexible. For example, forcing myself to do one type of exercise for a set amount of time every day. This is something I’ve become better at in recent months–finding alternatives when the usual routine falls through or when I simply want a change of proverbial scenery. Allowing the occasional indulgence such that I don’t feel trapped or left wanting.
  • And finally, boredom. If my mind isn’t occupied or if there isn’t a short-term goal to be met, I’m less likely to enjoy something, and therefore much less likely to continue doing it. Ever since I got a phone this hasn’t been a problem–there’s always a game to play or a show to watch, right at my fingertips. I’m surrounded by tech–“boring” can no longer be an excuse.

I’m happy to say I’ve reached the point where this new lifestyle is not a huge physical challenge for me. I feel much stronger than when I started this process back in October, and it’s nice to see a noticeable improvement. At some point I’ll want to step it up, but for now I want to continue enjoying the experience without pushing it.

The real challenge is a mental one. Committing to my goals while at the same time accepting the occasional failure and moving past it (better yet, accepting that an indulgence is just that–a worthy indulgence, not a failure!) It’s hard. Getting past that annoying little voice in my head that says “I don’t wanna!” from the moment I get up until the time I go to bed. I suppose what I’m really trying to figure out is where that voice is coming from so I can shut her up… or at least get better at ignoring her.

😃+