my year[s] of sweat!

After wasting a lifetime chasing quick fixes, I finally put my big girl pants on and took accountability for my health. I exercised every single day of 2013. And it didn't kill me. So now I'm continuing my journey of well-being into 2014. Please join me!

a little reminder couldn’t hurt

When I first started out on the 365-day mission last year, one of the first investments I made was in a BodyMedia Core armband. Why? Because it would give me a real-time view (via the ugliest wristwatch on the planet) as to my progress against my calorie burn goals. In fact, the technology in this thing is quite remarkable.

It features an accelerometer, to gauge how vigorous your activity is, along with a sensor to measure perspiration for exertion levels, as well as the standard pedometer-type functionality to track steps/distance.

In those early days, I wasn’t super familiar with the calorie burn driven from various physical activities so wearing this device took the guesswork out of it.

core-display-strap

This bad boy certainly did the trick, but no one could accuse it of being discreet.

Between the large armband wrapped around your upper arm and the ugly-ass watch on your wrist, it’s clear you won’t be making any best-dressed lists while wearing it, but damn this puppy is effective.

It kept me on task every day. If I found myself short on steps or calories burned in the evenings, I would just jog on the spot, or do jumping jacks, during TV commercials. It was a great little reminder that I hadn’t moved enough for the day.

I wore this thing every single day for over 6+ months. Even during tank top season. I was committed, and resigned myself to the importance of function over fashion.

Eventually though, I became so familiar with the level of effort it took to get to my desired 2,500 calories per day burned that I no longer needed the visual cues. So I ditched it.

Now that I’m a working girl again, I know that I’m way more sedentary during business hours. And I know that I need to be way more conscious of how much (or little) I’m exerting myself. I decided that I could use a helpful reminder again – just to make sure I stay on track.

The idea of putting the Core armband back on my arm was about as attractive an option as wearing high waisted jeans. Not a good look for most of the population. Right Jessica Simpson?

High-waisted-pants

Great idea, lousy execution. Just say no to high waisted jeans.

Source 

I’ve been hearing about everyone and their brother buying FitBits lately (New Year’s Resolution, anyone??), so I decided to investigate. I’ve only had it for 24 hours, but already I can tell it is nowhere near as accurate for calorie burn as the fashion faux-pas BodyMedia Core armband, but it is much, much more discreet:

simple_b-dis-png_h4621896b75431a4c9499334fb64c3247Okay, so it’s not the greatest match for my stack of Tiffany silver bracelets, but it’s nowhere near as offensive as its predecessor. So I’ll test it. If nothing else, it will tell me how many steps I’ve made in a day (not a bad gauge of activity level) and it will also tell me how well (or not) I slept the previous night.

I’m just excited that I have something to keep me honest now that I have demands [other than those of the exercise or entertainment variety] on my time. It’s like a little cheat sheet, a non judgmental buddy to just remind me that I need to get my ass moving. I’m good with that.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

62 comments on “a little reminder couldn’t hurt

  1. The Vanilla Housewife
    February 12, 2014

    Will it work the same if you put it on your ankles? :D Stupid question, I know. Nyahahaha I only asked because I was thinking, you can use the old one and still keep it away from sight. :D
    I’m such a dingbat. :)

  2. Ice_Badger
    February 12, 2014

    I love my fitbit :-)

    I know it is not *that accurate* for calorie burn, but for tracking amount of activity, distance sleep etc it works fine :-)

    I upgraded from the flex to the force which has a readout screen and tracks height climbed too which seems better too :-D

    step for step when you are walking it is pretty good (I am sad enough to watch it sometimes to see if the numbers change with the steps…and they do so that is ok)

    they are a good reminder to get up and walk about :-)

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      Perfect as a reminder of total activity, I agree. And nowhere near as offensive to look at as the BodyMedia armband. :-)

      • Ice_Badger
        February 12, 2014

        no, not really noticeable at all :-)

        I feel very odd if I am not wearing mine now!

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          And I really like the sleep tracker. the armband didn’t have that.

        • Ice_Badger
          February 12, 2014

          it is actually pretty good…although I did have it set to sensitive tracking at first which was a little scary as it said I only slept about 1 hour a night…

          mind you it is vaguely worrying how restless / awake I am during the night even on normal tracking!

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          I thought so too, although I can’t say I’m super surprised. I knew I was a very light sleeper.
          perhaps a hot toddy before bed would help. :-)

        • Ice_Badger
          February 12, 2014

          i wasn’t surprised either…I have restless legs and they seem to wake me up a lot!

          hot toddy is definitely the way forward :-)

  3. El Guapo
    February 12, 2014

    Hope it works!
    I can’t imagine there isn’t some sort of high-end, stylish device that would work for you on all counts.
    Try Hammacher Schlemmer, perhaps?

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      Ha! Or perhaps I just need to chill the fuck out about worrying about being stylish. :-)

  4. whichwaynow101
    February 12, 2014

    I think it would look nice stacked with your Tiffany bracelets. Surely the jingling would be an indication of exertion?

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      Maybe I could spray paint it silver so it blends better? :-)

      • whichwaynow101
        February 12, 2014

        Oooooo! That sounds nice. If it were me I’d add some glitter too!

  5. Sean Smithson
    February 12, 2014

    “Even during tank top season.” Now that’s commitment.

    Also, “Now that I’m a working girl again…” Be careful Nancy.. You could get a lot of unwanted attention with phrases like that!

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      That’s the plan, Sean. That is the plan. ;-)

  6. PinotNinja
    February 12, 2014

    One time I actually tried on a pair of high waisted jeans — it might be one of the worst decisions I ever made since that horrific image will be forever burned into my brain. Just say no, indeed.

    I think, even though it’s not as accurate, the fitbit will do the trick of reminding you to just keep on moving and to take advantage of your down moments — it’s the 2014 version of tying a string around your finger to remember. Push-ups during a boring conference call? Don’t mind if I do.

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      Totally PNinj — less about the 100% accuracy of the calorie burn and more about the visual cue to just move more. For that, it is perfect.

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      p.s. No one looks good in the high waisted jeans. Well, maybe the 6′ tall supermodels, but no regular human. :-)

  7. Ingrid
    February 12, 2014

    I’ve been considering a fitbit so I’ll be interested in hearing an honest review in a month or so. I’m back to hiking hills in AZ. Rockport was nearly as flat as a 2×4!

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      I’ve gotta say that I’m liking the sleep tracker component (something the armband didn’t offer). So far, the calorie count (burn) seems pretty accurate. I had to input a 1 hour class at Pure Barre manually, because those very small movements don’t register as activity. But that would have been the case with the armband too, so no difference there. So far, so good. And it’s a good price + no monthly subscription fees. The armband had a monthly fee, and you couldn’t see your full results without it. I’ll share more of my thoughts as I get more use, but for now, it’s well worth the small investment.

  8. Andra Watkins
    February 12, 2014

    I have to agree with PN above. Several of my Rotary friends wear FitBits, and I never notice them. (Instead, they all wag them in my face and proclaim the glory of their FitBit.) The point is to keep you moving. This may be all you need. If it isn’t, you can always go back to the Core armband. People are pretty understanding of such things these days. I can’t imagine anyone would be put off by your wearing it at work.

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      I knew I joined the right place when I saw that everyone from work was wearing a fitbit. It turns out that my company gave them as gifts to all the staff and key alliance partners, etc. Kismet! I like that I work for a place that thinks to do stuff like that (versus a box of chocolate or a basket).

      It definitely motivated me to go for a 90 minute walk last night (after a midday fitness class) because my total steps were so low at 6pm. It’s getting the job done.

  9. Carrie Rubin
    February 12, 2014

    I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it. I’d like a heart-rate monitor for just my wrist, but as you pointed out, they’re not that accurate. I had one with an around-the-chest attachment, and it worked well, but I didn’t like wearing it, so I stopped once I could easily estimate my calorie expenditure with a particular workout. But I may have to look into the one with the upper arm sensor. That’s better than wearing one around my lower chest!

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      Actually, the BodyMedia armband didn’t do heart rate monitoring. I found that odd, given how advanced some of the other measurements were. I wore the FitBit all day yesterday, and I’ve gotta say it was pretty dang accurate, so maybe I was quick to judge. It also gives a sleep tracker graphic which shows how soundly you slept (or restless you were) during sleep hours. That’s pretty cool, and also not a feature offered by the BodyMedia unit.
      So far, so good. And Costco is selling it right now for $89 (cheapest price I’ve seen so far).

      • Carrie Rubin
        February 12, 2014

        How does it estimate your calories if not tracking your brachial pulse? Heart rate’s needed to determine calorie expenditure.

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          The armband uses a combination of accelerometer for speed/vigor and a sensor that measures body head/perspiration (and leveraging your body stats: height, weight, age, gender). I’m sure there’s more to it, but it was surprisingly accurate. eg. If I input my height/weight/age/gender on a treadmill, my calories burned on the device were generally in the range of what the treadmill would display (although the device was usually a bit higher). The FitBit seems to be gauging well too, but not great for activities like weight training – or the Pure Barre class I attended yesterday. Those movements are too small to register activity, so you need to track those through manual inputs to the interface (laptop or phone).

        • Carrie Rubin
          February 12, 2014

          Good to know. Thanks so much for the info! I’ll have to look into it.

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          I read a bunch of online reviews comparing the FitBit to the Nike Fuel and the Jawbone UP – and the FitBit comes out on top for most reviews. At this price point it’s a low cost trial – and so far I’m finding value. Let me know what you decide on!

  10. NW Frame of Mind
    February 12, 2014

    I’ve been meaning to pick up a fitbit too and my sister in law loves hers. She doesn’t notice the wristband at all but I’m thinking about the clip on style that comes with an optional sleep band so you can still track at night. Yeah, I don’t want to look at the plastic next to my silver bracelets. ;) I’ll take a look at Costco!

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      I thought about that Zip model, but wondered if it would be even less accurate, so I opted for the Flex. It’s actually not too bad to look at, and it’s pretty lightweight so you don’t really notice you’re wearing it after a while. So far, so good.

      • NW Frame of Mind
        February 12, 2014

        Good to know. I’ll make up my mind soon and you’re right the band is actually not bad. They are so popular I see them everywhere.

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          Seriously! Now that I’m wearing one, I notice it everywhere! If you get one, let me know what you think.

        • NW Frame of Mind
          February 12, 2014

          I will! My dad and brother just started wearing theirs yesterday, maybe I should start a little friendly family competition to keep them motivated. ;)

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          Do it!!!

  11. Expat Eye
    February 12, 2014

    You should just go the whole hog and wear it on a dog collar around your neck :) It won’t work but damn you’ll look the bidness! Do they come in leopard print or just black??

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      Leopard print would be too fabulous for me. I’ll stick with black, for now at least… :-)

      • Expat Eye
        February 13, 2014

        I don’t think you realise how fabulous you are ;)

        • nancytex2013
          February 13, 2014

          Aww, you are the sweetest thing EVER. <3

  12. Rachael @ mummyflyingsolo
    February 12, 2014

    hahahahaha I totally agree about the high waisted jeans. Very few people are pulling them off.

    I loved this line: “my stack of Tiffany silver bracelets” Oooo la la! ;-)

    I agree, the new one is much more discreet. How do they test the reliability of these things anyway? I’ve often heard people say their pedometres don’t seem accurate. I suppose you can google such things!

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      So apparently pedometers are supposedly the most accurate at tracking steps. Evidently your hips don’t lie. Thank you Shakira. For calorie burn I think it’s basically using the steps/distance/time thing to figure out how hard you’re working. Hard to say on the FitBit. With the ugly armband there were a few different sensors that explained how it knew how much your were working. So far though, it seems pretty darned accurate. And way less horrific to wear, so I’ll keep it. ;-)

      p.s. a girl’s gotta have her Tiffany. :-)

      • Rachael @ mummyflyingsolo
        February 12, 2014

        haha damn straight! I might wear one today :-)

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          Love me some Tiffany bling. :-)

        • Rachael @ mummyflyingsolo
          February 12, 2014

          You’ve inspired me…just looking at this discreet fitness band made by Garmin http://sites.garmin.com/vivo/?lang=en&country=AU

        • nancytex2013
          February 12, 2014

          Very cool! Before you buy, maybe read some online reviews. I think it’s all subjective, but it is good to hear what others have to say. That’s what made me land on the FitBit (versus the Jawbone UP or the Nike Fuel). Looks like the Garmin one is hot off the press, so it may have some cool new features.

        • Rachael @ mummyflyingsolo
          February 12, 2014

          Yeah I think it’s still on pre-order but good tip. Thanks!

  13. joannesisco
    February 12, 2014

    I have a Fitbit Zip and I love it. I just thought I’d mention that they take a beating too. I’ve forgotten my FitBit on my workout clothes a couple of times and it’s gone through a full washing machine cycle (most recent episode was yesterday). Mine seems to be indestructible.

    • nancytex2013
      February 12, 2014

      That is a massive testimonial! (And I forgot to mention that the BodyMedia armband was not allowed in the shower). I love that the FitBit flex is allowed in the shower (and I suppose I could even swim with it – given you’ve run yours through the washing machine and it still works!). I think it’s great that it’s rugged enough to be able to withstand a bit of a beating.

  14. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?
    February 12, 2014

    Oh please let us know how you like it after you’ve used it a few weeks! Pretty please!

  15. hikingtohealthy
    February 13, 2014

    I have the original fitbit and have been using it for a year and a half now… I will be interested to see how you like the Force. Mine is finally starting to give up.

    • nancytex2013
      February 13, 2014

      Hey Kathy, I’m actually using the Flex, not the Force. The only benefits I could see from the Force was the instant display of stats on the unit (versus just looking at the app on my phone), plus it offers the silent wakeup (vibrate) for a time you set when you log your sleep stuff. Wasn’t enough to justify the price difference (to me) so I went with the Flex (which sounds like it’s the original model). So far, I really like it.

      • hikingtohealthy
        February 13, 2014

        Oh Ok…. I was looking at the force a while back. I have just the traditional pedometer they made before the Flex or Force it is kinda falling apart but still seems to work fine so I will keep using it until it dies!

        • nancytex2013
          February 13, 2014

          Costco is selling the Flex for $89 – it’s a great deal.

        • hikingtohealthy
          February 13, 2014

          That is a good deal! I paid that for my pedometer 18 months ago!

        • nancytex2013
          February 13, 2014

          I know, right??!!

  16. Pingback: short on time, long on stories | my year[s] of sweat!

  17. El Guapo
    February 22, 2014

    Hey, I just saw a blurb that they were recalling Fitbits because some users were experiencing rashes.
    Thought you should know…

    (And if yours is working well, maybe have a jeweler or tailor mount it on a leather strap?)

    • nancytex2013
      February 22, 2014

      I heard something about the rashes too. Maybe it’s a rubber sensitivity thing?
      So far mine’s working out just fine. Not sure you can retrofit them into other bracelets because the device pops in and out of a hole in the back. Interesting idea though. I’ll see if a jewellery making friend has any thoughts. Thanks for the idea!

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