a new toy

I have a Fitbit. Of course. Doesn’t everyone??

I started with a low end tracker supplied by the hospital when I joined their fitness tracker program. I quickly became addicted to beating my steps from the previous day and decided to invest in my own, better, tracker.

My first one was a Misfit. It only tracked steps, and had a low profile, with a decorative, copper face that lit up around the edge as you made your way towards your daily goal. It wasn’t an obvious tracker, and I really liked it.

But it needed batteries, as opposed to being charged, and I started going through several batteries a week after about six months. And they weren’t all that easy to replace.

About two years ago, I started researching. There’s Garmin. Fibit. Apple. Motiv. And a whole bunch more! Apple was an easy out, I don’t have anything Mac. One friend said she had a hard time syncing her Garmin. So I took a leap on Fitbit, which a majority of reviews favored.

I got a Blaze smartwatch, which was the newest version that summer. And I love it. Two years in, there are no scratches on the face, much less a crack. May I remind you I run, lift, ride horses, boat, and do all sorts of barnwork? It works well, tracks a bunch of stuff, doesn’t require daily charging, and I can change the watch face on a whim. Not to mention the band. There are so many bands! One to go with every outfit, just like shoes (I may be a bit of a shopaholic).

There is only one drawback. It isn’t waterproof. My arm unexpectedly and repeatedly got stuck in the river about a month ago, and I have noticed–while it still actually works!–that it needs to be charged more often, and doesn’t hold the charge well. Before it conks out on me, I have decided to get another. The only other issue I had with it was that it never got my milage correct. When I run the Rail Trail, there are markers every quarter mile. My exercise app on the phone is always very close in mileage–like maybe 200 feet before or after the marker. If I ran 4 miles as recorded by the phone and markers, my Fitbit would say I might have run 3. Still not a deal breaker, as I have other methods of tracking distance.

Of course, I am going with Fitbit. The app is easy to set up and use, and after a piece of tech works for two years with no issues, I am going with the same brand. Due to the reason I need a new one, I am getting a Versa, which is waterproof. Now I can wear it kayaking–the Blaze was left on dry ground when paddling.

But which one? There are three versions . Special Edition, Versa, and Lite Edition. For rather varying prices. Special will do everything the others do, plus has a chip for paying for items without your wallet. The Lite does the basics, but you can’t download music on it (300 songs fit on the other versions), and you can’t play on-screen workouts.

After some thought, I went with the Lite Edition. No matter what, I will still be using my phone as I exercise (although I have hope that the Versa might be better at tracking distance), so I have music on that. And I don’t tend to do pre-recorded workouts. So paying the extra $60 for the regular Versa didn’t seem worthy. And I am not a fan of wallet-less paying (things are just too easy to hack), so I certainly didn’t want to shell the bucks for the Special.

Now I just have to wait til next Wednesday for it!

Fitbit Versa Smart watch Fitness smartwatch

Monthly Stats….

….for January. February was rather a lost month for posting due to our  “excitement” on the health front. Hopefully things are slowly getting back to normal.

Last month stats

So my Endomondo tracker doesn’t  track my treadmill miles. Considering that is all I have been doing since the weather makes it inconvenient to go outside, to have an accurate count, I have to add  all  my workouts together.

So I did! My January total was 38.8 miles.

This is where my record keeping addiction comes in handy. I have a Fitbit too, but a) it totals every step I take into  my daily miles and b) it doesn’t think I have gone very far on the treadmill. It tracks my steps, say 3000 for a walk on the ‘mill, but thinks I have only gone about a quarter-mile. Haven’t quite figured that out yet.

But I have my handwritten journal too, where I write down what I did and how I felt–Fitbit and Endomondo don’t know if it was hard, or if I was proud I accomplished it, or if I changed my workout based on time or feelings. That’s where I got my actual  mileage.

Thank goodness for my Dad’s genes 🙂

The hard part about exercise is figuring out how to track it. Shall we be old fashioned and keep a journal? Or get a snazzy new gadget? I suppose we all have our favorites. Some of us put in our blog, keeping ourselves honest!

I still need to track it so I know what I did, when, and for how long; so I can write about it.  I definitely don’t remember for more than a day. I have two methods: I have an app on my phone that tracks each session, and I do keep an old-fashioned  journal too.

But how does one decide? My journal is great because not only does it show in a weekly format what I did, but gives me a place to write down how I felt about it and whether I tried anything new in the session. My app is wonderful because I get a digital readout of how long and what I did.  It also sends me a monthly reckoning of calories burned, minutes exercised and miles run–if its not what I wanted to achieve, I can always strive harder the next month.

That works for me. What will work for you? There are literally thousands of apps, and many gadgets that hook up to a computer program to track your health; not only your exercise but sleep and eating patterns.

I admit, I lucked out with my app. I use Endomondo, which I love because  A) it’s simplicity and B) the amount of exercises it lists. It actually has riding  (a horse) in it. It has all my exercises, plus many more. All I could find that it is missing is that it has no gardening activity (yes, trust me, cleaning out leaves is a workout).  It has a lot of training programs and challenges too, and makes a great way to connect with others.

And the Bands! I do have a simple pedometer/watch that the hospital gives all its employees, and it connects to a website where I can track o’ so much, and connect with other hospital employees. I have become addicted to counting my steps and seeing how many I can get in a day. But does not even compare to a Fitbit, or Apple Watch or Jawbone, or one of the many more. For a great comparison of wearable trackers, check out this Self article. Your head will spin with all the choices out there.

But there is one important thing to keep in mind with an app, journal, or band: you must utilize it. Getting the coolest tech with the neatest website doesn’t mean you will get up and use it. There are four prime things to look for when you are picking out a band:
1. The wearer must have the desire and motivation to want the wearable and able to afford it.
2. The wearer must be able to wear it and recharge it easily.
3. The device must be accurate at tracking the data it’s targeting.
4. Data needs to be presented in a meaningful, user-friendly way that also motivates further action.*

What do those mean? Well, you probably need to plug it in every night when you plug your phone in.  Pick out a reasonable band, taking into account not only the up-front cost but also whether there is a monthly cost to have it connected. Same thing with an app, my Endomondo is free. However, there is a $5 monthly upgrade, but I decided that I didn’t use enough of those features to make it worth it. I did try it, which I suggest everyone try. But don’t be afraid to get rid of it if you are not utilizing all the features.

You also need to be able to understand what it says and how to set it up. Small buttons and tiny readouts are not for everyone.  Plus what it tells you must be usable to you. I don’t track food, so I could care less about calories burned. But to some people that would be a must.  I do care about time and distance, so it is important that my tracker have accurate clock and GPS.

In the end, take your time and  think about what is important to you when you exercise. Think about what kind of information you want to track–time, sleep, weight–and pick out a program/band that will do that for you. And then USE it 😛