Monday, May 04, 2015

Fit by Fitbloggin' update: Positive developments

I have a hectic week coming up and I need to stay calm and centered. After talking to a friend last Friday and then reflecting, I realize that there are some people at work who either enjoy creating a stressful environment or who are feeling so much distress that they can't help but spread it. Maybe a little of both.

As much as I wish I had the ability to help make these problems better for them, I don't, and I am not serving anyone by getting caught up in the frenzy of it all. I need to be calm and centered to get all the work I have to do finished before I leave for D.C. next Monday. I started today with a 30-minute "Miracle Morning" practice (I can't recommend the book after reading the first 2 chapters, but there is free stuff on it all over the place). My husband gets up stupid early (like 4 a.m. lately) so I can't get up before him, so I did the practice once he left for work. It was a nice way to start the day, and it answers the question I have been having of how to really use the Passion Planner the way it is meant to be used.

My training is going well. I'm finally getting to the point where I can really push it. I rode with the fast people on a ride on Friday and kept up with them for 12 miles going up to 22 mph. Then I fell too far behind to draft and had to return on my own, but I still averaged more than 17 mph. When I rode with my husband at a more comfortable pace the next day, I felt great even though my legs were tired. I didn't get as much training in as planned, but since we had Big Happenings going on at work, it was more realistic to just do what I could. 

The week by the numbers: 

Weight change from last week: Down 4.2 pounds (I think part of it was water retention)
Days tracked last week: All 7
Average hours of sleep: Changed tracking methods
Average steps: 10,305
Hours of training: 5h 48m (was supposed to be a 10h 30m week)

Calm and centered. Time to start my day. I need to get caught up with everything so I can turn my grades in early, since I fly out next Monday. I'm actually flying to Baltimore, and planning to take the train in.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Jawbone UP 24 vs. FitBit Charge: And the winner is...

Note: This post has Amazon Affiliate links in it.
I think I need another gadget or two

I had been tracking with the Jawbone UP for about a year, and decided to give the UP 24 a try. I was looking forward to the wireless syncing, and was also hoping that Jawbone had solved its durability problems with the newer model (Interestingly, as I am writing this, I learned that both UP bands I have owned are now discontinued).

Not long after I just bought the UP 24, I was notified that our insurance company was offering a Fitbit Charge free for members who agreed to submit to some biometric screenings. Basically, the Fitbit is a bribe for the insurance company to collect information on us. If they catch a diabetic or someone with high blood pressure early, they can save a lot of money. Some of my more suspicious co-workers thought the insurance was going to use this information to charge us more if we were fat.  However, since I see my doctors regularly and they probably already had access to my height, weight, etc., I felt like it was worth a little trouble to get screened in order to try out a new gadget.

I wore them together for about a week. Interestingly, during that week, the UP needed to be reset and I lost a whole day's worth of data. That was the final straw for me. I gave the UP to my sister and switched LoseIt! to sync to the Fitbit.

When I bought the UP band, I was comparing it to the Fitbit Flex, and I didn't like the idea of having to take the "bit" part out of the wristband to charge it. I preferred the simplicity of the Jawbone band. I was afraid that if I got a Flex, I would lose the tiny piece and it wouldn't work anymore. I have a friend who has some mobility troubles with his hands and he finds it very difficult to work with the Flex.  The Charge just plugs in as is, which is much simpler to me. I don't mind that I can't change the color of the band.

Weirdly enough, I love having the watch function on the Charge. I got out of the habit of wearing a watch because they always bugged me when I was using the computer, so I would just use my phone to check the time. It's a lot more subtle to check the time on my wrist during class, and the band is thin enough that it doesn't annoy me when I'm typing.

I still liked the app for the UP better than the Fitbit app, and the UP bands I had were more attractive than the Fitbit, but I'm probably not going to buy another UP product anytime soon.  The new UP3 looks nice, but the UP2 is ugly. I think it is great that they discontinued the products that weren't working, but I'm mad that I bought the tracker on Amazon after it was discontinued and didn't know it (there is now an indication that the band is discontinued, but it wasn't there a few weeks ago when I bought my band). I wouldn't have spent the money if I knew I couldn't count on it to work. How do I know that the new trackers will be any better, and that the company will let me know if they aren't?

My dream product would be a Fitbit that used the UP "smart coach" software. And one that was waterproof, as I jumped in the pool with my Fitbit on and almost had a heart attack (I got right out and dried it off, and it seems to be fine).

Do you use an activity tracker? Which one do you have and how do you like it?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fit by Fitbloggin' update: Getting real

Last night I had guest speakers in my class, a married couple. One partner is a creative writer who works with a nonprofit to bring writing to inner-city classrooms, and the other is a high-level corporate executive. The wife was the corporate exec, and she brought her husband in to a team meeting to help her work with her team to set goals for the year.

Being aware of the shape of story -- beginning, encounters with challenges in the middle, peak action or goal, falling action, and conclusion -- can help set more realistic goals and also plan for problems. Because the exec's team had planned for potential hiccups and even written them into their story for the year, it was easier for the team to keep working together productively instead of looking for someone to blame when a setback occurred.

Why yes, that IS a Passion Planner...Thanks Fitbloggin' Secret Santa!
It wasn't new information to me, but in weight-loss blog land, everyone rushes in to scold a blogger who has a setback as if it indicates a personal failing. Including the blogger herself.  Sure, controlling the environment is a great strategy. I do it most of the time. Sometimes, though, it isn't that easy. 

No one would read a story like this: "I decided I wanted a pack of gum, so I went to the store and bought one. I'm so happy now. The End." Why do we expect goal-setting and achievement to work like that? Intellectually, we know that obstacles are going to come up, but it seems like a lot of people think that if they really had determination and persistence, everything would be like a Pinterest quote.

I'm hitting a predictably bumpy part of the story -- the end of the semester -- along with some challenges I didn't anticipate -- excessive drama and unpredictable extra hours at work -- and it has affected me. I had a bad Weight Watchers weigh-in last week, and as usual I blamed myself for it and let it drag me down further, even though it's not surprising that I would be having issues. I have barely had time to go to the grocery store to make sure I have food to pack with me, and I haven't been eating on schedule. Both of these have contributed to what I have been calling "A Case of the F--- Its" -- to riff on the "Case of the Mondays" line in Office Space

I think I have held it together fairly well, considering. I'm still tracking, still sticking to my training schedule, and still trying to get regular sleep. 

I'm over being mad at myself. This is part of my story.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fit by Fitbloggin' detour: Biometric screenings and a Mad Men fan question

I didn't weigh in at home this morning -- I had fasting tests this morning for our insurance company instead. They did weigh me, but since I was clothed and it was a different scale, I'm not going to try to compare the results with my home scale weights.

If I had gotten up a little earlier, I could have weighed in here too, but as it was, I was glad I remembered the appointment and managed to make it there on time. I am still feeling a little tired and groggy after my race yesterday, especially because I had to stay up to watch the newest Mad Men.

Mad Men fan question: Have any other Mad Men fans noticed that Peggy's wardrobe colors often relate to the account she's working on? When she was working on Burger Chef, her clothes had the colors of the logo. Last night she had a peanut butter account, and her dress was a brown print in one scene and in the next, she had a suit with a tan stripe in it. She is looking very pretty and soft lately -- they let her harsh cut grow out a little and she has been wearing more luminous makeup. When things are going bad for Peggy, they seem to use more powder to make her look tired.

Okay, now back to our regularly-scheduled program.

My numbers at these things are always good except for weight and, as a result, BMI.

Here are today's numbers with desirable target numbers in parentheses:

Total cholesterol: 133 mg/dL (less than 200)
HDL cholesterol: 73 mg/dL (greater than or equal to 60)
LDL cholesterol: 45 mg/dL (less than 130)
Triglycerides: 77 mg/dL ( less than 150)
Glucose: 85 mg/dL (less than 100)
Blood pressure: 109/81
BMI: 29.7 (18.5-24.9)
Waist circumference: 32 (less than 35 for women)

Overall, pretty good. I'm working on weight loss and stress management, which will hopefully take care of the BMI and the higher diastolic blood pressure number.

Our health care plan gave us a free Fitbit Charge for participating in this assessment, so soon I'll have a review of that gadget. It's amazing to think that they believe they will save enough money through this intervention to pay for the screening personnel and the Fitbit devices for everyone who agrees to take part.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A racy weekend

I have been just a little active lately. Once I was fully recovered from my hike into the Grand Canyon, it was time to get a little more activity.

I have the great fortune to be part of a really fun triathlon training group, Team Endurance Fusion.  On Friday we had a Spaceballs Prediction 5K (a few of our team members registered for a virtual 5K and got cool medals, but I just ran). I wasn't sure whether to predict 34:00 or 35:00, so I split the difference and said 34:30. I ran most of the race with a team member who had predicted 33:00, and surprised myself by finishing in just over 33:00.

I wore my Enell gear for this race and even had a chance to evangelize a bit with a team member who didn't like her current sports bra. We had a fun party afterward with lots of healthy food and a dunk tank. It was too cold for me to dunk but I happily tried (and missed all my throws) to dunk another team member.

The problem with race photos is you see the problems with your form. Look at that arm!
The party was to celebrate the opening of multisport season in Toledo, which kicked off with the Dooby Du today. This event is more than a double duathlon and goes Run-Bike-Run-Bike-Run. I wasn't going to do the race, because of the heavy emphasis on running, but I let myself get peer-pressured into it. It's a small race and attracts mostly serious multisport athletes. I was seriously worried about finishing last.

The start of the race. I am hidden behind the woman in gray.
I had never done or even considered doing the race before, and had no idea what to predict for a time. I decided my goals for the race were, in order of importance:
  1. To finish
  2. Not to puke
  3. Not to finish last
Another run-form nightmare. I need to be more upright.

I found the runs very challenging. They were only 2 miles each, but they felt long to me. I think I might have been a little sore from Friday's race, but I also was alone for most of the course because almost everyone was faster than me. I would always start to wonder if I had gone the wrong way. 

The biking was better, since I am so much stronger on the bike, but there were 30 mph wind gusts and there were times when I was going into the wind and really struggling.  I did manage to catch a couple of people on the bike and close the gap that had opened up during the run a bit. The first bike loop was pretty cold, but the second one was warmer. Even though the bike loops were only 6.3 miles, they felt long because of that wind.

I got lapped by the first-place man when I was finishing my second run loop. The biggest thing I had to fight was the mental challenge of feeling so far behind everyone else. It helped to know I had other team members there. There were three or four people behind me, and one was close enough to make me worry that she would pass me if I let up too much. I walked a few times because one of my feet hurt but I didn't let myself walk for very long, just a few steps. 

I wouldn't say I look happy in this finish photo, but I was relieved.
I didn't have a spectacular time -- I took longer than the two hours I threw out as a rough goal, finishing in 2:13:15. My transitions were horrible. My splits, for the geeky:

Leg Activity Distance Time Pace
1 Run 2 24:06 12:03 per mile
trans 01:45
2 Bike 6.5 23:41 16.47 mph
trans 02:27
3 Run 2 25:46 12:53 per mile
trans 01:54
4 Bike 6.5 24:26 15.96 mph
trans 02:15
5 Run 2 26:55 13:28 per mile
TOTAL 2:13:15

I did, however, manage to score second place in the 45-49 women's age group, since there were only two of us (I'm 44 but I have a birthday in December, and in triathlon, you race as the age you will be on December 31).

I was so far behind the other finishers that they hadn't printed my results before handing out awards, so I had to ask for my medal. The race organizers were really nice about it. This was a tough race for me, so I think I earned it! Our team had one third-place finisher and four second-place finishers, so I think we are going to have a great season.

Will I do this race again? Maybe, especially if I can improve that pesky running form.

Friday, April 17, 2015

LoseIt! Premium's new Patterns feature

I have been using LoseIt! to log my calories lately instead of the Weight Watchers app. I'm still technically a Weight Watchers member, mostly because I like my leader, but I have been having trouble getting to meetings lately since my class schedule changed.

Anyway, when I logged in today, I noticed that the app seemed to be suggesting that I eat more crackers.

Since I think of crackers as a bad habit, I had to investigate, and it turns out that LoseIt! has a new premium feature that notices and reports on patterns in users' calorie consumption.  I have quite a few positive patterns, according to LoseIt!, and only two negative ones: I tend to go over my calories on days I consume chocolate or pasta. 

Of course it's not a perfect feature. I am more likely to log pasta and chocolate on weekends, which are always harder for me anyway. The "cereal bars" it is suggesting help me stay on track are  actually KIND bars, which have no cereal at all in them, but the ones I choose often do have chocolate. Despite what the FDA seems to be saying, the nutty snack seems to help keep me on track, so I plan to keep them as my go-to work snack.

This is just one of the features of LoseIt! Premium. I did a full review when I first became a premium member. Since then they have added even more features and extras.

How do you track your calories? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fit by Fibloggin' Week 6: Into the Grand Canyon

This update is a little late because I was tired from our trip yesterday and didn't even think about posting. My husband and I took a long-weekend trip to the Grand Canyon, flying into Phoenix and driving into the park. 

In the photo above, you can see the Bright Angel Trail, which descends into the canyon.  We did the 6-mile roundtrip hike, which sounds easy if you don't think about how steep it is. Honestly, the three-mile roundtrip hike would have been challenging.  Going straight downhill for three miles was tough on my knees. And then climbing back up was exhausting. 

I did really well until the last hour, and then I was needing to stop frequently to rest. The air is very thin compared to home, which is roughly at sea level. We also didn't bring quite enough water, which had a huge effect on my mental state.  There was supposedly a place to refill at the three-mile turnaround, but we didn't find it. I am definitely not a desert animal. 

Weight change from last week: down 0.4 pounds
Days tracked last week: All 7
Average hours of sleep: 6 hr 40 m
Average steps: 15,432
Hours of training: Roughly 11, including the hiking.

I'm glad we did the hike. Supposedly 80% of people who visit the Grand Canyon never drop below the rim.  Even so, I'm still a little sore today. 

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07