FitBit Week 1 – “HOLD ME CHELSEA”

Sorry I’m about a day late with this post – I was busy running 4 miles in the 88 degree 90000000% humidity last night. But I have a lot to say about my first week with my FitBit, so I wanted to make sure I posted my experience, even if it is a whole day late (to be excused during the first week of the semester, right??)

The good:

  • Still mostly the data. I love seeing all the data!
  • Seeing how many steps I really do take. I am a lot more active than I expected, especially with this new office job. I have been walking over the 10,000 step goal almost every day (did not meet goal on Monday rest day). I walked over 50 miles in the last week! This could also be bad, though, because always feel like I’m bragging when I talk about it at work. Like, someone will be like “I took 9,000 steps yesterday!” and someone else will be like “Wow, that’s so many! Way more than I took!” and I’m just hiding in my cube trying not to bring up that I took 22,000 steps like an asshole.
  • The ease of syncing (although more on this later….). Overall it works super well with MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. I still think it’s calorie count is a little high for me, but we will see. I am trying to lose that five lbs I gained anyway, so if I keep “undereating” like the FitBit thinks I am that should not be a problem; if the FitBit is overestimating, I should at least not GAIN weight. At least it will be an interesting experiment!
  • The alarm. I’m very surprised how much a silent vibrating alarm can wake you up. Also, I have been able to get up earlier than Kris while being somewhat less disturbing to his sleep (I’m still loud and clumsy, but at least there isn’t an alarm on top of all my noise!).

The bad:

  • I am not a particularly huge fan of how it can be difficult to separate which activities you were doing at a particular time. Like, when did my walk with Belle start and end? All I see is the number of steps I took in each 15 minute interval.
  • Sometimes, despite the ease of syncing, the graphs on my phone will not update to reflect the numbers on my actual dashboard.
  • Can’t brag about my millions of steps, as already mentioned 😥
  • I really wish it had a heart rate monitor, although I doubt I’d wear it anyway (main reason I haven’t shelled out money for a new GPS watch – I never use that very expensive part of it anyway).

The just plain confusing:

  • The greetings.
  • I’m still perplexed by the flower. I never know why it is big or small at any given time.

Fun story related to the greetings: the other day, I was having trouble getting my FitBit to sync to my phone. I was trying everything – restarting my phone, attempting to figure out how to restart the FitBit (side note: this fixed it), moving the FitBit closer to my phone, cycling through all of the screens, etc. Every time I set it down and picked it back up all it would say was “HOLD ME CHELSEA.” Kris and I are convinced this thing is my overly attached girlfriend. I mean, I should have known, it watches me sleep. By the way, when it started working again, it started saying normal things like “WOOT! CHELSEA.” Ok, maybe just normal in comparison to “hold me/hug me.”

Now, on to some fun screenshots!

There are two large green areas – first is a walk with Belle, the second is a 3 mile run. I think it’s interesting the dog walk is almost as intense!

I sleep pretty well and at pretty consistent times, I’d say. Please note the large pink area at 2:30 in the morning last night when some neighbors decided it was appropriate to argue in the middle of the street 😡 On a lighter note, you can see where I forgot to turn it off of sleep mode when I woke up Wednesday morning.

Here is why you use appropriate axis on graphs. Monday looks ridiculously low compared to the other days. Per the FitBit, I still burnt over 2,000 calories!


Long Run and Kitchen Issues

I haven’t run a race ALL year – first, I had to cancel my plans to run a 10 mile race to go visit my ill grandfather (don’t worry, he’s back to 100%); then, I cancelled my plans to run the same half marathon I ran last June because Kris and I were going to do one of the bike tours instead, but for some reason that I can’t remember right now, we didn’t; then, I was just going to do a short 5K…and then found out we were planning to be out of town AGAIN (to see Kris’s extended family for the 1st time in a year). So now, I’m planning to run a half marathon in October, but obviously I am not in my peak running condition, here. I’m back to using Hal Higdon’s Novice II plan to train (what I used the very first time I ran a half).

Yesterday, I woke up excited to run my 6 miles. I saw the high was going to be in the low 70s and that it was supposed to be sporadically rainy, so I figured the weather would be great (cool and not too humid, and I could probably sneak in the run between rain showers). I must not have been stretching or something, though, because almost the entire time, something in my legs felt tight, and by the time everything went back to normal in terms of tightness, I was just sweaty and miserable. I ran at a 10:00 pace, which is TERRIBLE for 6 miles for me – despite my general slacking on running, I’ve been regularly running 7-9 miles for my long runs with 10:00 being my slowest pace pretty much all summer.

I’m sure it was just an artifact of postponing my Thursday run until Friday night after work, not stretching, and then going out again the next morning for my long run, but I still had one pretty major concern. When I first started out, my right ankle felt really tight. I’ve been having some minor issues with it since I wrecked my bike a few weeks ago (slipped on loose gravel and skinned my knee – the bike and I were well enough to bike 4 miles home), but I can’t decide whether I should go to the doctor or not. When I first wrecked the bike, I think I like smooshed the area (my lower tibia, right above my ankle) or something, because it hurt enough that I decided to take a whole week off running after the wreck. It seemed to get better, though – I had promised Kris I would go to the doctor if it didn’t start to improve after 2-3 days, and every day it did legitimately feel better. It was never swollen, and the only sign of injury was a small bruise that appeared out of nowhere 2 weeks later and only lasted a couple of days.

The issue, though, is that it still hurts if I touch it. It doesn’t hurt to walk or run on it – even yesterday, it didn’t hurt, it just felt like I needed to stretch it out –  and it never hurts badly, but if I poke the affected area, it is still a bit sensitive, even though it’s been nearly a month. It’s one of those things I do have mild concern about but I feel like it would be a giant pain in the ass to take off work, go to the doctor, have them refer me to another doctor, just for them to tell me that there is nothing wrong. Ok, maybe that isn’t the real reason – I have good insurance, and like, a week of sick time, so this is a really lame excuse, this wouldn’t even cost me any money or be that big of an inconvenience. I think I’m mostly afraid if I ask a doctor about it they will think I am silly for even considering there might be a problem. It’s probably something I just need to get over and go ask about (side note: this fear stems from a terrible doctor I had in high school who would dismiss all my medical concerns as fabricated and literally laughed at me on multiple occasions; I haven’t seen this man in like 10 years but it’s still a huge issue for me).

Now on to the kitchen issues. Lately, for some reason, I have been having MAJOR kitchen organization issues. My mom keeps buying me tons of Tupperware, and I myself keep buying new gadgets, and I do not have room for any of this shit in my teeny tiny kitchen with cupboards that have only one shelf. My solution had been to just pretty much leave things laying on the dining room table, but we were having a board game day with some friends yesterday and we weren’t sure whether we were going to their house or they were coming to ours, and I had to clean up this mess because apparently you need a table to play board games on. I ended up throwing things into random cupboards or putting them into the storage area we have on our enclosed back porch…yeah, right beside the lawnmower. Very sanitary. I have no idea how to fix this organization problem, either. There are no more cupboards and all the places I have to keep this stuff (the backporch and the basement) are not very sanitary or good for things like appliances because moisture can get in. I’ve been trying to hold off on buying a standalone pantry or something because we are probably going to move out of this place in like, less than a year, but trying to deal with this yesterday was incredibly frustrating. 

Now, on to a couple of more lighthearted kitchen issues. After my long run yesterday, I came home and decided to make homemade strombolis. Sorry for the lack of stromboli pictures; I was far too hungry to stop and take a picture of them before eating. A few weeks ago, I had bought a new “spice rack” for my kitchen. A key kitchen organization issue was that the area that the spices was in was taken over by other food, and the spices slowly migrated to the top of my microwave, where they were always getting knocked over by the cat (or, more likely, by me because I’m clumsy and the plates are in the cupboard right above the microwave). I decided to buy a small shelf I could hang on the wall over my stove, and found the perfect one at a yard sale for $2! 

Well, I hadn’t had any problems with it until yesterday when I made these strombolis. As far as I knew, the oven in my gas stove vents through the rear right burner. None of the burners are directly below this shelf, and cooking has not seemed to affect the spices, so I didn’t think baking would either. This morning I came down and noticed that the chili powder was falling over in the rack. I picked it up, and saw that it, and several other spices, were completely warped! Upon further examination, my oven has a vent directly below this rack, so when I was baking the strombolis it melted the spices. Luckily, this thing is just hung on a couple of nails and can easily be lifted off while baking, but I can’t believe I melted like half my spices!

The label even fell off!

One final kitchen organization problem. I promise, this really is the last! I also went grocery shopping yesterday (wow, now I am sounding like I was really productive!). I’m not sure if it was the peanut butter recall or what, but the peanut butter I normally buy (which is NOT on the recall) was LESS THAN HALF PRICE. Seriously, it $1.21. Kris encouraged me to be a rational person because we already had some at home, so I only bought two, but I still don’t really have enough room for all this peanut butter. Is there such a thing as too much peanut butter?

Note: this is where I used to keep the spices, if you were wondering why I ran out of room for them.


Fitbit – Day One

So, last night, I got my Fitbit One in the mail. I’m obviously still not sure what I think about it, since I’ve had it for like, 24 hours, but I thought I’d share my initial impressions. I’ll try to remember to do follow up posts about it, as well.

First, a bit of background. I first heard of these like, a year ago, and immediately wanted one because…OMG STATS…but I couldn’t get past the fact that you have to wear these daily activity trackers (not just the Fitbit) on your wrist/arm/whatever. Perhaps I’m a little vain, but I just couldn’t imagine wearing a plastic bracelet that screams “I’m obsessed with calorie counting” in basically any situation that wasn’t like, sitting around my house or going to Walmart (maybe Target, because they sell them, so it’s less embarrassing, but I’d have to match my outfit).

I’ve been thinking about getting one again because my mom keeps harassing me about them (everyone at her office has one but she doesn’t want to drop the $$ without me trying it out first), and then I found out about the teeny weeny little Fitbit One that you don’t have to wear on your wrist! Luckily, someone at work randomly showed me theirs because I might be known as the weird girl who has no identify characteristics other than being fitness and stats obsessed (no, not an exaggeration at all; I’m fairly certain my coworkers just think I’m some geeky health nut). I was instantly like “OMG LOOK AT ALL THIS DATA THAT AUTO SYNCS TO YOUR PHONE!!!! AND YOU CAN JUST WEAR IT LIKE ON YOUR BELT OR IN YOUR POCKET WUTTTT?!?!”  (also not an exaggeration; I was that excited).

I went home and held off on ordering one for like, a day. The only reason I held off was that I had around $150 available to put towards fitness junk, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted this or a new GPS watch (the connector cable to my Chinese knock off one is broken, and I’m not really sure how to get a replacement part for my Chinese knock off). I was a bit concerned that because I’m already active, the Fitbit, which is basically a fancy pedometer, wouldn’t be that useful.

Honestly, while I love the data I can get from my GPS watch, though, I never use the heart rate monitor because I can never find the strap, so all it really does is save me from having to correct RunKeeper maps that occasionally mess up and using smartphone data (note: the GPS watch also occasionally messes up and needs fixed as well and Kris and I technically have unlimited data). Therefore, it is also not that useful. I might still buy a new GPS watch in a month or two, but after reading reviews of basically how fantastic a Fitbit is for sedentary office workers (it’s possible I’m not as obviously active as I assume – after all, I sit on my ass at work like 9 hours a day) and seeing all those pretty charts, I thought this might be a better investment. Besides, if I end up hating the thing, I’m sure my mom would love it.

Now, on to my actual impressions of the thing. 

The bad(ish):

  1. A little confusing to set up. Part of this was my fault. I signed up using Facebook, then forgot my Facebook password. However, it was also a slow process (as in, it took a long time to load) and there aren’t very good instructions if you aren’t tech-savvy, especially not to sync to other apps.
  2. It handles cycling strangely, but not necessarily in a way that will negatively affect the stats it tracks. It gave a pretty good calorie approximation by estimating that I walked steps equivalent to roughly a third of the distance, and realized I went uphill and gave me credit for climbing “stairs.” 
  3. I’m not sure if I am doing something incorrectly or if the Fitbit is double counting calories burnt. I know it’s not COMPLETELY double counting them because it’s not adding twice as many extra exercise activities as MyFitnessPal, but the TDEE (total amount of food I should eat based off of how much energy I exerted) it is listing for me is like, 300 calories over what I’d expect and mostly consists of me walking to the bathroom at the office (on a side note, I should walk more slowly, as this is apparently counts as “very active minutes” for me sometimes). I think my biggest concern is whether it is counting my cycling “steps” as calories burnt in addition to the logged cycling on MyFitnessPal (even though MFP says it won’t double count if you enter the activity through MFP).

The good:

  1. As I said, it’s super tiny and also pretty secure. I wore it clipped inside a cami under a dress today so it wasn’t visible (I bought the “burgundy” one which is more like bright pink) and it connected easily to my FlipBelt for running.
  2. It syncs to my phone using bluetooth! This is important not because I mind using data, but because my workplace is kind of a dungeon and you should see my holding my phone at all kinds of weird angles trying to get enough data service to sync MFP. This isn’t a pro for everyone, though; only certain devices are supported for this feature.

Here are my calories burnt for the day. The yellow lines are mostly me biking to and from work (the lone green line abut 3/4 through the day is biking up a hill to return to work from lunch; apparently I bike more vigorously at lunchtime). I think seeing my after-work zooming around is pretty interesting, too – the run is obvious, but there is a giant spike of bikehomewalkdogonemilerun4milesnowfindfoodomgnowIcansit that you don’t see anywhere else throughout the day. 

The sleep stats are also awesome! Not sure if I can improve my sleep much if I’m already so efficient, but I think it’s cool to see some patterns. The big pink block at 4am-ish represents a bathroom break; I think it would be interesting to see if I always go at the same time and then get SO RESTLESS afterwards! I vaguely remember waking up again and again and checking my phone to make sure I hadn’t slept through my alarm. Also, fun fact: the other large pink block right before 3 am is a kitty attack. Misty just randomly jumped up my bed and started biting my arm. Hopefully THAT doesn’t become a sleep pattern.

My (not so) Triumphant Return to Fitness

You may (or may not have, I mean, after all you probably stopped checking by now…) have noticed that I haven’t been on this blog in several months. I was a bit overwhelmed with starting my new full-time job and I had to pull back on my exercise a bit. In general, I haven’t been exercising as much or really eating right and I’ve been somewhat in denial about it. I am still the same “size,” after all… and I did always want to see what would happen if I stopped tracking my food consistently… so I convinced myself to let things slide.

Well, a few things got me back into gear. To be honest, I never really completely stopped all my good habits. I still tracked food the majority of days (most weeks), and still went running 4 days a week (most weeks) and still got a long bike ride in on the weekends (most weeks). Notice a pattern here? The problem is that “most weeks” isn’t really good enough, unless “most” means something more like 90% than 50%, which in my case it did not.

Recently, a few things made me realize that I needed to get “back” on track (the quotes are because I was never completely off…I was just sort of going really slowing):

  • I started training for a half, and realized I have run two half marathons faster than I can currently run 3 miles (pace per mile)
  • 5 miles seems like a long run (rather than my normal midweek run)
  • I convinced myself it was ok not to track food for like, a week (even though there weren’t really special occasions)
  • I gained 5 lbs (that is 1 lb per month I have worked at an office)

The good news is that I have a few things going for me, and some plans going forward. I have still been running and biking fairly regularly, for example. I have also logged everything I ate for the past 2 days (a weekend!) and been within my calorie limits…and actually eaten non-corn vegetables (hey, it’s summer, the three food groups are corn, ice cream, and beer, right?).

Going forward, I’ve decided a first step is to return to blogging. It’s difficult to blog when you feel like you are doing poorly and not making progress, which is a major reason I quit blogging. That just led to a downward spiral, however – I didn’t blog because I was making poor choices, and I made poor choices because I didn’t have to write about them if I wasn’t blogging. I also ordered a fitbit…I’ll write more about that when I get it, but the short version is that I think it will be a good motivating device now that my lifestyle has clearly changed to be that of a person with a sedentary office job.