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.
  3. The STATISTICS OMG. 

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.

Springtime Cycling

So, this is my first spring with a bicycle. So far it’s been an interesting experience.

Pro’s:

  • Can ride to my new job less than 1.5 miles away very easily. I can even come home at lunch!
  • It’s spring so I don’t get sweaty.
  • Can take long bike rides with Kris. We rode 15 miles around the Gettysburg Battlefield this weekend!

I tried to find one from my fist trip to Gettysburg, but this one, taken only a month later, will suffice. It was hard back then to walk around at the car stops, let alone bike 75% of the route! Side note: we went to Gettysburg that first time on the 4th of July and Kris wore an ENGLAND shirt. My parents bought him a shirt with a picture of the US as an American flag as a present afterwards.

  • Can get in exercise despite my crazy overtime schedule.
  • Will hopefully be able to up my cycling endurance by starting out earlier in the year.

Con’s:

  • Other people. Ok, maybe I should be more specific…
  • Cars are still overly confused. Today a guy trying to pull out of a parking space would have hit me had I continued down the road like normal. Then, still unaware that I existed, the man stopped in the middle of the one-way street. I’m not sure why he even got out of the parking space, to be honest. I had to dismount and carry my bike around him. He finally noticed and got out of the car to apologize! This is just the weirdest story – people aren’t used to bikes right now so they are driving super unpredictably and dangerously around me compared to usual.
  • It’s “amateur” season. All the people who don’t normally go out in the park for recreation are out there. They are unaware that being hit by a bicycle is unpleasant and that standing 5 people wide in order to take up a whole path is rude. At least this problem disappears, unlike the previous problem, which only decreases slightly, once it actually gets hot out.
  • In general, there are just more people outside. They try to talk to me. Some guy may have scammed me out of $5 today…or he may have really had a flat tire. Some guy last week may have just been helpfully telling me that the air in my rear tire was low (I was already aware)…or he may have been strangely cat-calling me. The point is that the nice thing about cars is that you can roll up the windows and avoid contact with the outside world.
  • Oh, that reminds me of a pro. When I first moved here, I walked to work. Now that I bike, I can at least get away from the people faster!

 

Adjusting

I knew switching to a full-time office job would be a big adjustment, but holy cow! The transition, especially with the lovely addition of mandatory 45 hour weeks, has been more difficult than I expected. When we first moved here I had an office job and I don’t remember it being so difficult. Then again, I wasn’t trying to make healthy meals or get in much exercise (to be fair, I did walk 2 miles a day because I was too poor to drive to work).

While I was in grad school, I was busy ALL THE TIME. However, my schedule was fairly flexible – I could get up at 6, work for a while, go for a run at 9, work for awhile, go run some errands, then work for awhile again. Now I have to put all the work between 8-5 and fit everything else in between 5 and 10-11ish. I know that is like 6 hours so it’s probably more actual time but it’s still not what I’m used to.

It’s also been hard to adjust to a different dynamic between Kris and I. When I was home from grad school, except for brief periods (in the fall of 2012 I took a whole semester off when he had surgery, and my recent experience this winter), I didn’t have a job, so I had more of a house-wifey role. It turns out I’m not very good at being a housewife – I’m too extraverted so I spend all my time either going to stores and spending money because I’m stir crazy OR bugging Kris non-stop when he gets home from work and accusing him of literally being Don Draper if he wants to play video games and drink beer for an hour.

However, I’ve become very much accustomed to working at most part-time when I’m home and it’s hard for me to accept that I can’t just spend all day planning grocery menus and cleaning the house – I have to give up some of my control. Yes, that’s right – my problem isn’t that my husband won’t help me with the chores, it’s that I’m afraid he can’t follow a recipe so I won’t let him in the kitchen! I also feel surprisingly guilty about inconveniencing him by having a job. Like, I feel upset that I can’t just drop everything and drive him around anymore, which is ridiculous because while I know he likes me to help out he certainly doesn’t expect it of me. It’s still difficult for me, though 😦

The good news: I think I’m starting to adjust. I actually went to the gym to run after work today (I’ve failed at going to the gym three times for various small reasons); I plan to get up super early and work out before work tomorrow; and I’ve found a route to and from work that is so easy to bike that I can bike home during lunch! I’ll also get the luxury of being off all weekend, which I haven’t actually had yet – I was either working at the pizza place or visiting family.

I also did pretty well at sticking to my March goals – except for when I went home to see my grandpa who had been in the hospital, I got in my 5 workouts a week; I’d say I followed my 80/20 rule 80% of the time (I should just make that a second part of the rule); and I did super well following the alcohol rule (it helped that we bought super fancy beer that I wanted to savor). My other goals were very much related to my pizza place job, but I will say that while I was working there I did well with them – I don’t think I ate something completely unnecessary off the pizza buffet once! Now, that isn’t saying I didn’t eat any cinnastix – it is just saying I didn’t eat them just because they were free.

Food Friday

This week’s post will be a discussion of food “failures.” This week was so weird – everything I tried to make had SOMETHING wrong with it, though in no cases was it a complete failure.

Monday: Attempted to make lasagna. I had planned to do this, as Kris randomly said “hey, why don’t we get ricotta cheese?” at the store and I realized we had all of the ingredients except zucchini, which I ran to buy. However, when I got home, I discovered that the “giant container” of lasagna noodles had only 6 noodles in it; parts of the top 2 layers were made with spaghetti instead.

Tuesday: Started making coconut-peanut Thai curry only to find that I was “out” of red curry paste. That’s ok – I’ll improvise – after all, I had all of the ingredients for curry paste on hand! After putting my half-ass curry paste mix into the sauce, I look over to see the curry paste. I had put it somewhere “clever” while preparing to cook. It turned out ok in the end, as there was only about 2 teaspoons of paste in the jar in the first place. The curry was a bit too spicy for Kris, though 😦

Random morning I don’t fully remember because it was pre-coffee: put 3/4 of a cup instead of half of a cup of liquid into my oatmeal and it was really really really gross 😦

The good news: I only had to cook 2 days since I made lasagna!

I actually had another relatively major fail this week: my first attempt to go to the company gym. Yesterday, it was very cold and windy and I had some errands to run after work, so I planned on heading back into work to use the treadmill. When I got there, I couldn’t find the locker room at first. Then, I decided to go change in the “bathroom” (note: the gym is not on my floor, so I am unfamiliar with this floor’s layout). For some inexplicable reason the “bathroom” had a secure entrance requiring me to scan my ID, which I thought was weird…until I walked in and discovered it was a completely unmarked locker room in a different hallway than the gym! The worst part: I couldn’t even work out at the gym because I forgot my sports bra and had to go home; I ended up just doing a workout video.

I guess I’ll try again next week! After all, next week is going to present a new challenge: balancing overtime and working out. My job is in a completely new division of the company, and very little of the work was being done before we arrived (due to lack of manpower); therefore, we are a few months behind where we need to be and will be working mandatory overtime until we are caught up. It looks like I’m going to have several nights of working until 7-9, meaning I will have to hit up the gym afterwards if I want to get a workout in. Let’s just hope I don’t resort to too much takeout and too many frappucinos in the meanwhile!


Oh – I do want to end today by noting a change of plans: I will not be running the 10 mile race I had planned to this weekend, despite my weeks of training (even in the ice and snow!). My grandfather is unfortunately very ill in the hospital, so I will be going out of town to visit my family. At least I hadn’t paid for the race yet, and it still had the positive side effect of forcing me to get my ass back outside and running! I’m not sure what my next race will be – the next one I had considered is a half on April 6, and I don’t think I’m prepared for that (the longest I’ve run this month was 9 miles, and I missed a run this week). A lot of the other races I had been thinking about aren’t until October; are too difficult/too soon; or they are sold out. I’m sure I’ll find something soon, though!

Liebster “Award”

My friend Amanda’s blog (check it out, it’s awesomely geeky) was recently nominated for a Liebster Award, and she chose to nominate me as well. Thanks, Amanda!

Her blog has a great description of how the award works, but the short version is that relatively new bloggers nominate other relatively new bloggers. The rules loosely state that you need to answer a set of questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you, then come up with a list of your own questions and pass those on to other bloggers who you nominate.

I’m not going to pass this along (which means I am breaking the rules for the award, hence the quotes in the title), mostly because I feel like the blogs I read are already pretty well established or I don’t feel like I interact with those who do have a small blog enough to be non-awkward about nominating them, but I thought it would be fun – and challenging – to answer the questions she passed on to me:

  1. If you were trapped inside a video game for the rest of your life, which game would you want it to be? Honestly, getting stuck in a video game doesn’t sound that appealing. The Sims? Someone would drown me or set me on fire! Civilization? Gandhi nukes me. These all sound way to much like things that could happen in the real world (i.e. random world leaders nuking you, not specifically Gandhi!) so I think I’d rather stay here where I at least won’t have my entire world cease to function because somebody left a plate on the floor.
  2. Which spaceship would you like to explore the universe in? I don’t know if I’m geeky enough to answer this question. I can only think of like, 4 spaceship names. I guess the Enterprise would be pretty cool so I could use the holodeck  (I am sure I spelled that wrong) and replicate myself tons of cookies.
  3. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your blog? How much work it is! I barely put any work into my blog – I just do it for my own enjoyment – and it still takes HOURS per week! I used to think that blogging was something anyone could pick up and do well at.
  4. If you could have any mythical animal as a friend/pet/companion, what would it be and why? The only mythical animal I can think of off the top of my head is a unicorn, so I am pleading with Kris for help with this question. He just brought me a stack of D&D books. I’m not sure whether to be amused or concerned. The first page had scary monsters. Now there are dragons. Dragons are pretty cool, I guess. A lot of these things aren’t even animals. Oh! A hippogriff! I know what that is from Harry Potter! I’ll pick it for nostalgic purposes. I also perked up at “pegasus,” so I guess I like flying things that I can ride.
  5. What fictional world is your home away from home? I think I would enjoy living in the Shire, as long as the rest of Middle Earth leaves it alone. I could live in a nice little hole in the ground and eat all day.
  6. If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would it be? This one is difficult for me, mostly because I don’t really have a favorite “character.” I really don’t know. Sorry for the cop-out on this question.
  7. What daily (or semi-daily) activity/chore do you wish you could get by without doing? It would be really nice if I didn’t have to constantly clean up pet hair.
  8. What is your number one pet peeve? HOW TO PICK?! Let’s go with watching people use computers differently than I do, even if the way they are using it isn’t really less efficient (and especially if it is).
  9. If you had to pick an apocalypse, which one would you pick? Everyone dies of a superbug. I almost never get sick, so I guess I get to live through this one. Also, no ongoing apocalypse to deal with (i.e. zombies, though I feel fairly prepared for that particular apocalypse). Once people die, it’s mostly done. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn out like The Stand.
  10. What job did you want as a kid? What job would you want if you didn’t have to worry about making a living? As a kid I wanted to be a country music singer! Haha, I don’t even listen to country music at all now. If I didn’t have to worry about money I wouldn’t have a “job,” per se – I’d pursue passions instead. I’d travel around running races; I’d attempt to write a book; I’d study different subjects I was interested in; I’d work on improving my sewing skills. Yes, all of these can technically be jobs, but none of them are a dream job I’d dedicate myself to or anything.
  11. What is your favorite color, and what is your favorite nerdy thing corresponding to that color? Pink. Are there pink nerdy things? I’m honestly not sure.

Food Friday

It’s been a busy week adjusting to my new job! The position I am in is part of a completely new part of the organization and there has been A LOT of information to process. Unfortunately, I still have to work this weekend at the pizza place, so I won’t get much of a break, but after this weekend, I can look forward to a more predictable M-F schedule.

Don’t worry, I’ve still made time for exercise! The day of my “rest day” I made sure to go for two ten minute walks on my breaks; I have gone running after work two evenings this week (and did a workout video once); and I rode my bike to work today. I’m still adjusting a bit – I hope to get in more walks as the weather warms up, to bike in more often (I haven’t located the locker room yet), and to take advantage of the on-site gym.


Anyway, since this is Food Friday, I do want to focus a bit more on food.

Packing my lunch and continuing to cook healthy meals has gone well, overall – Kris even cooked once this week while I was on a run (I normally don’t let him near the kitchen)! I am going to experiment to see what sort of healthy fare I can find in the cafeteria today, as I am out of bread to make my normal PB&J sandwich. Hopefully I find something suitable and avoid the coffee shop – I’m not sure if I can, though – they have BOTH coffee and ice cream (in some of my favorite brands).

I would like to reflect a bit on what exactly I have been eating this week and what has/has not been working well for me:

  • Speaking of coffee, drinking coffee only at home is not going to work out. If I don’t actually want to spend half of my salary at the coffee shop, I should probably invest in a thermos. I have had a caffeine headache everyday!
  • My breakfasts have been holding me over – every morning I have been having a bowl of oatmeal (made with half water, half milk) with maple syrup, craisins, and cinnamon mixed in. I haven’t felt hungry until lunch time AT ALL. I’m honestly amazed. As it warms up I may switch to Greek yogurt; we will have to see how that compares.
  • My lunch so far has been a PB&J sandwich, carrots with hummus, a piece of cheese, and a piece of fruit. It seems small when I eat it, but I have felt pretty full. I usually only snack in the afternoon so that I’m not hungry later, not because I’m super hungry when I have the snack.
  • Working out at night might take some adjustment. I usually eat some sort of granola bar in the afternoon for a snack to give me energy for the workout, which works well, but then after the workout I am STARVING. I eat dinner and immediately feel hungry. I’m not going over my calories but I feel like I’m shoving all of them into a 2 hour post-workout period.
  • I need to plan better for nights I go out to eat. We went out for dinner on Tuesday, and I made it my rest day because I didn’t have time to do both. In theory, that was a good idea; in practice, my reasonable for a restaurant dinner (a falafel gyro with a side of fries and 2 beers) made me go WAY over my calorie limit for the day.

I also wanted to take this as a chance to talk up the Aldi brand granola bars I bought last week. They are amazing! I bought two kinds: a Clif and a KIND knockoff. Both taste pretty much as good as the originals (I might even prefer Aldi’s crunchy peanut butter Clif-type bars), and are significantly cheaper. My only complaint is that they don’t have more flavors. Hopefully people start buying more of my favorite flavors in the name brands so they trickle down to Aldi!