Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A bit more Fitbit

AFter I posted last night, I thought about a few more things.

I'm including a graphic of the teal wristband, that now is on my wrist. If you go to a store, you're going to pay a fair amount for replacement bands. I'm not sure what you would get by going this route. A cursory glance and inspection makes it seem that both bands are made out of the same material, they both fit the little fitbit device. The differences are, a lack of any logos that indicates this is a Fitbit device, although one could tell, the second difference is the cost. If you go to Ebay, you will discover that besides the silicone band, you can buy bands that make it look like wrist jewelry. So obviously as I mentioned, there's a band for every taste and time. You want to go fancy, just pay your money down. The colors are amazing, from Teal, that I've posted above to slate. So whatever your taste, you can find the right band for you. The cost can be very inexpensive, from about $1.25 with free shipping and on up. The shipping probably depends upon the source of the band, form China & Hong Kong, it's free, you will wait but it is free.

Okay, so I've gone on about the band, then again I think color and style are important. We want to be individuals and so a little individuality goes a long way. Then again, go to any page about 'how to get more out of the Fitbit Flex', will include the point of getting more wristbands.

One question seems to be whether it is waterproof or not. My understanding is that information on the early bands indicated they were waterproof, however the company has changed that claim to water-resistent. Although a quick read of the manual indicates:

Your Flex can be worn while you are in the shower, or working out. It is sweat-proof, rain-proof, water resistant, and can be submerged in water up to ten meters.

I can state that it can be submerged for a length of time, on the first day of using my Fitbit, it slipped off my wrist while I was washing dishes and remained underwater for a few minutes. I sort of found it when I took the water out of the sink and there it was. I wasn't sure how it was so I dried it and waited. After a few moments it did respond so yes, it can go underwater. Although now for safety sake, I take it off before going into the shower or washing dishes.

When you open the package you will find what you think is the quick start paper, all it will state is to go to the website for the manual. There it is, all there for you to read.

Another claim is the battery life, under normal use you should go about 5-7 days between charges. Since getting it, I've recharged it twice, so that's about right. If you want to extend, the recommendation is to turn off the 'all-day sync' feature, that way you only sync when you want to sync. The Bluetooth does work very well, so it's not a stress to have it the 'all-day sync' featured turned off.

The way to get the information, such as steps or set the sleep is tapping the top of the device. For the steps, you tap it twice and wait to discern how many of the little lights are lit, or blinking. Solid means you've got the a percentage, 20% per light and blinking means you're not there yet. For the sleep mode to be turned on or off, you just keep tapping it until it vibrates and two lights blink If you got one you know what I mean. There are times it seems I tapping away and other times it almost turns on by itself. I guess I need to learn a bit of patience, or read the manual closer.

There is a silent alarm feature, another vibration that can be set through the app or website. I tried it once, it did wake me up, but I've already got an alarm set on my smartphone, so why bother. I have to say, when the vibration goes off to indicate that the # of steps has been reached, there is something soul-satisfying about that vibration. You made it, time to celebrate.

Since we are all interconnected through twitter, Facebook, Google + and whatever, Fitbit also has a social media aspect. First of all, you can find friends or become friends. It has all we want, there are badges you can achieve when you reached certain milestones, which you can see and enjoy as well as share. So you can develop a community of like minded individuals who have a fitbit flex or other fitbit devices. I'm not sure how extensive the community is, I've only got one follower. You can connect with Facebook or Google+, which in interesting. I don't know too many other devices that allow connection through Google+.

Recharging takes place through it's own charger. It is it's own style, so you can't simply use whatever you have around the house, it is proprietary. This means don't lose it otherwise you will have to figure out to get the replacement. Any place that sells Fitbit will have replacement, then there is Ebay. Let's face it, Ebay is where you go when you need something.

It seems FitBit is not resting on their laurels and they are not allowing their position to be stand-pat they are continuing to develop new features with each new iteration. The Surge is probably getting some serious buzz since it was visible on the wrist of President Obama during the shooting of the program "Comedians in the Car getting Coffee". There is the Blaze which is for those who want a lot more.

It's one of many wearables out there, I'm pleased with mind and as I said at the end of yesterday's blog, I'll learn more and apply it with my life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Christmas came and I ended up with a Fitbit Flex. Bit of a story behind that, but perhaps another time.

The Fitbit, a very popular fitness device. I've been watching some sports TV at the gym and there were a number of Fitbit ads. It could be argued where else would a fitness device be advertised but on a sports channel? It was a very positive ad, as they all are. In fact if one looks at the local electronic store, there are a numbers of devices that do the same. Or one could simply use the smartphone with the various apps that would give the same functionality. So why go for something on the wrist? I do have a watch, I still wear one, in fact my watch is a GPS enabled watch, which I use when I run. On the other wrist I have my various silicone bracelets, yes I still wear those. In fact, try and take them off my wrist, I don't think so. But that's not the topic. I first wondered about wearing one and was it something I would be interested.

When you purchase the Fitbit Flex, you will have the Fitbit and a wireless dongle. Chances are you're not going to use it. If you do, it plugs into the USB port on your computer desktop or laptop and it is used to synchronize the Fitbit. This is because there is a website which one can track and keep a record of the activity. However, one of the best aspects of the Fitbit is the fact that it's Bluetooth enabled, so with a good smartphone one can easily sync without having to go through a dongle.

I believe there are two main functions, at least that is what I'm using the most: measuring steps and timing sleep. The default is 10,000 steps a day. This is based on the idea that 10,000 steps is a good number to walk a day, it works out to approximately 8 km, or 5 miles a day. As we have been made aware, sitting at a desk for 8 hours or more can have a very negative impact on health. Some are calling sitting the new smoking. I don't know if I would go that far, but sitting down for a very long time can be detrimental to your overall well-being. I'm discovering that sitting down doesn't help your outlook on life at all, probably because when at work, you're doing something that takes all the attention and there's a deadline connected and it becomes you and that is a troubling place to be. Plus you're spending far too much time at Facebook and there's a big beautiful world out there, and you could be enjoying it and posting the photos you admire on the page of others. Well, that was a bit of a rant, let's get back to the steps. Your steps are measured out for you, and with the Flex, I can by tapping the top of it, get an idea of the number of steps I've taken. Plus when I reach the goal, it vibrates. In fact vibration is one of the ways the device communicates with the wearer. For true accuracy, the sync'ing with the website and more like your smartphone will give you all the information. As I mentioned, it is Bluetooth enabled and does quite a good job in the syncing, not too much of a delay. Also, through the smartphone app, you can add more data as required. One thing I keep forgetting is how much water I drink in the day. Along with the daily total, you can get an idea of how you've been doing over the past week, has it been a good week to walk, or has there been way too much sitting. As you study the graph, or even look at the daily numbers, you gain a motivation to do better. After all, how difficult is it to walk 10,000 steps, surprising sometimes it can be difficult. So you begin to strategize how you plan to either pass it or at least improve. That might be it's hidden function, not just a keeper of steps, but a motivator you wear on your wrist, at all time. Of course, if you suffer a bit with OCD, this might become a shackle, because your entire life will now be geared to those 5 little flashing LED's. This is probably part of the secret sauce of the Fitbit, you have this motivation on your wrist and you don't want to get rid of it.

. Then there is sleep. Do a search on 'not getting enough sleep'. There are all sorts of reports. One website has this comment:

Getting fewer than 6 hours of shut-eye night after night is risky. In one study, people over the age of 45 who got less than 6 hours of sleep a night doubled their chances for stroke or heart attack and were also more likely to have heart failure.
Of course if you get more then 8 hours, there are other complications. It seems for adults, the sweet spot is between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Then again, with television and the Internet, there are so many distractions. This is where Fitbit can help, you can monitor your sleep and each morning you can download a graph that will give you the times of sleep, how many times you were either up or restless. The latter according to the help file means you were moving about, although you weren't fully awake, or you had some sleep related issues. Then there is the times you were awake. It will give you the minutes you were awake and so you will have a good idea, also it will feature the time you were awake. You can probably deduce what the problem was, mine would be the cat wanting in, and then wanting to be fed.

As with the steps, it defaults to 8 hours. So each morning, this can be downloaded and you can probably look back and understand why you were either so full of energy or why it didn't matter how much coffee you drank, you were dragging yourself at work.

Like I said there are other activities to track, such as calories burned, amount of water drank, also you can post a specific exercise, plus you get the amount of time you were active. So there is a great deal of feedback available for you to track and follow through. It's good to get feedback instead of wondering if you're doing enough, or getting enough sleep, or exercise, or water for that matter. All of this, on your wrist.

Overall, I would say the Fitbit family of devices are worth owning and using. They can be very unobtrusive, being they are just on your wrist. Although I will say, they are easily identifiable. You can customize your Fitbit, there are a large selection of wristbands of every color and design imaginable. Just check out the global flea market that is Ebay. I just purchased a teal one and it looks nice. I suspect you can get a wristband that will match your mood or outfit. I'm still learning but I think this will be an important part of my overall fitness plan. The more I learn, the more it will become a part of me.

If I was to give a downside, it's just one more device to wear. I'm still not sure how to track non moving exercise, I know it can be done through the website, but that's a bit of a pain, I wear this to the gym and when I'm working out, I would like to know how it gets tracked. Also, there is question about accuracy, some times it seems to track more steps then other devices. Still, it gives a general idea on how things are going and will help you track your day. So they are worth owning and using.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Goals for 2016

In my haste to complete my year end thoughts, I realized I forgot to mention that I managed to do a 5 minute wall plank, twice during the year. This was a goal I had been working on for a couple of months. It's quite the effort to get up to 5 minutes, I had used one of the wall plank programs that recommended increases in increments of 30 seconds approximate every week.

Lately I've been concentrating on the same morning routine and program. I'm going to be going over it and making changes where I feel it is necessary. There is always the risk that muscles will become used to the same routine and simply plateau. I've also commenced doing some pull ups on the pull up bar. It's going to take a lot of time to develop. I have to admit pull ups is not something I'm very good at, but now it is time to start working on that aspect of the workout.

Now the housekeeping is complete, it's time to look ahead to 2016. What are my fitness goals?

I've been thinking about running and have decided I should cut back on my miles. I think it might be a pattern I need to adopt, one year of lots of running and then tapering for the year. I'm looking at running about 660 miles. At the same time I plan to do a few races, I've got my eyes on a couple that I would like to participate and enjoy. Some of them will be ones I've done in the past, others will be new, and maybe one or two were skipped last year. If I can manage, I would enjoy doing another half marathon. There's a few changes I need to make in my training that will be help with the ending. Running will always be the essential to my fitness program and I don't ever want that to change. I've gained so much by running that I will never quit. It's a vital part of my life and that will always be there for me. I'm not sure if there is any more gear I need to buy, but I'm keeping my options open.

When it comes to races, I'm thinking I should do another Color Run, they are so much fun and they keep making them better, at least that's what I see when I visit the various webpages. Plus I need to buy some more of that gear and schwag that they make available. I still have to get a few stickers and some new bracelets.

I realized 2015 was not a good year for my bike. I have a new one and really haven't put it through the paces. I do miss my old bike, it ended it's function in a tragic accident. I know I talked about it in the last blog, so no sense repeating myself. But still, considering the miles I have put in on my bike in the past, it's time to get things going. I'm not sure where I'm going to take it, but I plan to do a lot of touring in the countryside again. I do like biking, it's a great way to release energy and to discover the country around where I live. I've been to Ayr and north to Kitchener. It's time to look around again. I'm thinking I should buy something to keep my smartphone in place on the handlebars. I'll use the built-in GPS function to get my miles going. I can say I'm looking forward to riding again. It's been a while and I know it will be part of my cross-training and should help lower the risk of injuries.

Other thoughts about the new year: well, will continue to develop my morning routine program. That should keep me going and starting the new day off in a positive way. I've been incorporating some yoga and meditation in the routine. This will expand over the next year. I've purchased a membership at yogadownload and will continue to look for routines to help. I have to say, since I've been stretching through the Camel Pose, my back feels a lot better.

An event I am looking forward to happening is the opening up of the new World Gym near my office. This will cut the commute from home to gym by about 15 minutes. As well, there will be a lot of parking in the area, so it won't be too bad come the usual January-February crush of people exercising indoors during the cold weather. Not everyone is as crazy as I am. It will be a full service gym and so everything at the main one will be there. I've heard they will offer all the classes as well, with some of the same teachers. The Gym has also made an investment in a registered massage therapist. I haven't found out about costs, but perhaps every so often, after a strenuous workout, it might be worthwhile.

So some of my goals. I know I'm not hard and fast on numbers. I have come to the conclusion the best thing to do is simply to get out there and run and not worry about the accumulated distance. I run because I enjoy it. Although I always have a number in my mind, it's the journey that becomes the best part.

So I hope you, like me will have a great year of fitness, fun and enjoying life.