Week 2 check-in

I’m not gonna lie, this wasn’t a stellar week for workouts or steps. I let myself backslide from the success of the last couple weeks; but I have an excuse. And yes, I know an excuse doesn’t make not accomplishing my goal suck less, but it’s a reality.

The plague has hit our house. Ok, it’s the flu, but a particularly rough one and I nursed my oldest daughter through it. Then my husband got it. He’s four days in and still feverish and miserable. Now, my youngest has come down with it.

As is so often a mother’s lot, I’m the only one not to spike a fever yet. Though I almost certainly will, just as soon as S. goes back to work and both girls are back in school, so there’s no one home to nurse me. (Ok, that was totally just a pre-emptive whine.) But the fact is that I haven’t really been able to slip away and hit a yoga class and, while I could certainly have walked more (be it around the house or around the block), I just didn’t. I won’t even try and pretend on this one. I just didn’t do it.

Calories 3.28.17Heart Rate 3.28.17Steps 3.28.17

As you can see, I never once burned my intended number of calories, my heart rate rarely rose and Monday (when I went grocery shopping) is the only day I did any notable number of steps. Workout-wise this week was a fail.

But I’m not going to let that discourage me. Not every week can be perfect. This wasn’t a good one. If I do get the flu, next week won’t be either. But I can still keep my eyes on the prize while acknowledging I let myself down here.

I might not have had a good workout week, but I did have something good happen. I got to talk to my sister, who lives across the country from me and I don’t speak to often. We spent over two hours on the phone, UNHEARD OF for us. It was wonderful to catch up. And one of the things she mentioned was that she’s been reading this little blog (Hi H.!).

I write this for myself; I’m just one of those people who does well by distilling my thoughts on paper. But knowing she’d read it and been a little inspired too, really made me feel like a superhero. So, we committed to one another to do better in the future, both in keeping contact and exercising. And I don’t want to have to tell her I didn’t go to the gym.

My second goal for this past week was to start a food journal. (As I mentioned, I’m dealing with some new food allergies and really need to cut certain foods out of my diet for a while. One day I’ll face writing a post about this.) I did really well on the journaling for a few days. I was using the FitBit food log. But I gave up on it.

I don’t like their log. It only seems to have pre-packaged and super common foods listed. I understand why, it means the information can be pulled from the internet. But part of my goal is to eat LESS pre-made food. As my doctor said to me, I want to, “Eat food that rots, and eat it before it does.” So, I found the FitBit food log not to be one that will work well for me.

In the past I’ve used the one on MyFitnessPal and I suppose I’ll start that one again. Though I’ll probably wait and start it on Monday. I like things in nice tidy weekly units.

Logged or not, I can tell you I didn’t eat well. My husband is the cook in the family. If left to my own devices I would probably live on cheap, cardboard pizza and angel food cake. No lie, I think this is the only thing in my kitchen when I lived on my own. And with S. down with the plague, I’ve been left to fend for myself.

Here is an example of how I did, I went grocery shopping and picked up potato chips and ranch dip. This is one of my weaknesses in life. Then, thinking better of it, I put it back. I made the right decision. Then, I had to swing by Walgreens for a prescription, saw the chips and dip and went ahead and bought it. I beat the temptation once, but it beat me in round two.

That might not even be so bad, if I just ate a few chips and a bit of dip. But when I give in to what my Cousin N. (who is a life coach specializing in out of control eating and has some really great advice that I try and take) calls the “food crazies,” I eat all the bad things, not some of them, but all of them. Even knowing I’ll feel like shit after, even knowing how bad it is for me, even knowing I won’t enjoy it all that much, I still do it. I still did it.

So, I can also call the goal of eating well this week a fail. Sigh. That’s my reality. But I don’t see a lot of reason to look back on it, instead of ahead to doing better today and tomorrow.


Ask and ye shall receive

Last week I moaned about how nice it would be to get a FitBit Alta HR. When the primary activity you plan to do is yoga, a step counter is pretty pointless, a heart rate monitor make loads more sense. I could only moan about it though, because I didn’t happen to have an extra $150 to go buy myself a shiny new toy, even if it would be a useful one.

But, BUT you guys, my lovely, supportive husband arranged a whip-around with his family and they got me one as an early birthday present! I was super excited. Not just to get something I really wanted, but also that it was a true surprise.

After 15 years of marriage, shared bank accounts, shared Amazon accounts, hell, shared memories sometimes—in the sense that we argue over which of us experienced something and which was just there (it was totally me who got hives from the soft-shell crab, not him)—it’s not often we manage to get one another presents without one of us at least suspecting it. But he did. Plus, he handed it to me when I was distracted and focused on something else. So, I honestly just stood there and gaped at it for a moment before I processed what was happening.

That was last night, and after a bit of hassle to get the silly thing to update its firmware (really, we thought it was just broken for a while) I got a full days use out of it today and I thought I’d report back.

This isn’t quite a review and probably more of an advertisement for FitBit that I’d like. So, keep in mind I’m just talking about my experience with the tracker available to me. I’m not making any claim about how it might compare to another brand or endorsing anything. (I have no idea why I feel obligated to make that assertion.)

So first, it’s just plain cool to have an actual screen. Keep in mind that I was previously using a Flex, which just had a row of lights to indicate steps. It relayed very little information. But when all I needed was a pedometer, it did the job just fine. But I’m really enjoying having an actual screen that relayed actual information.

And I wore it to yoga today, so I got to see how it’s going to work for tracking my activity level beyond simple steps and I was pleased. It still only logged 90 steps in the hour I was there and the FitBit dashboard still only shows steps when you look under the activities page, which I admit is a bit disappointing. But it does show me as active.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.06.27 PM

Which, when compared with just a chart of steps, is a lot more useful, as far as I’m concerned. Because if you just look at steps, I seem sedentary during the time I was working out, which was from 10-11. The spick you see there is me walking from the car to the gym, then to the car and back again because I forgot something. There is no evidence that I spent an hour moving.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.07.31 PM

An additional funny story: the Alta also has periodic reminder-to-move feature. Every now and again it will vibrate with a little message that says, “Care to stroll?” or “Reminder to move.” I like this, because I often do get up when it does goes off, even if just for a few minutes. But the reminders must be associated with steps, not heart rate, because after 50 minutes of yoga, just as I was settling down into Savasana, it vibrated with a remember-to-move.  “Dude, I’ve been moving for almost an hour,” I thought. It amused me.

But seeing what my heart rate does during a yoga class also showed me something else. My heart rate goes up, that’s good, but it doesn’t stay up. It’s great that I appear to have a pretty good recovery rate, because the HR drops pretty quickly, but seeing this up-down-up-down is a visual reminder that I really do need to do some cardio that will keep my heart rate up in a sustained fashion. Yoga is great in a lot of ways, but it’s obvious that it’s not doing that for me. It’s not that I didn’t know I need at least a little cardio, but seeing my heart rate go up and down instead of go up and stay up for a while, as is needs to for good health highlights that yoga won’t be enough on its own.

I haven’t sore the HR monitor for  tae kwon do class yet though. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there. But again, I doubt it’ll keep my heart rate up. I suspect it’ll be very similar to the yoga class, with more steps involved. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Having the heart rate option also added a resting heart rate box to my dashboard, which I’ve yet to figure out the use of. I have no doubt there is one, maybe as I improve my resting HR will go down. That’d be a verifiable improvement. Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.10.13 PM

A minor criticism is that I do find that not being able to control when it tracks sleep is problematic for me. (Or I haven’t found a way to tell it when I’m going to bed, which I could do with the Flex.) It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I read, I’m still for long enough that the motion tracker thinks I’ve gone to bed. So, if I plan to try and accurately track my sleep I anticipate having to correct it regularly.

Part of the reason I don’t know about putting it in sleep mode is that it came with very few directions, none actually, and I can’t say I appreciated that. I mean this is it, just a note to download the app.


I especially didn’t appreciate it since the very first thing the app wanted to do was update the firmware on a product that is brand new and hot off the assembly line. And even more since downloading that firmware was problematic.

It failed half a dozen times before it worked. And in the end, I don’t know if it finally worked just because I tried it six times and it randomly happened to succeed the last time, or because I restarted the phone with the app on it, or because I rebooted the Alta, or because I pointedly moved the old Flex farther away, in case it was interfering somehow. I don’t know why it didn’t work the first five times or why it finally did on the sixth. That was an inauspicious and annoying start. But I’ve been happy with it since then. (You know, for the past 24 hours, which is hardly a very long test period.)

Any-hoo, I’m still feeling inspired to get moving and the new FitBit looks to be a good addition. Honestly though, I’m finding this whole blogging this helps too. Maybe it’s just who I am, but this putting things in words seems to work for me.


Week one check in

In figuring out what I want to do with this journal, I decided I’d commit to at least a once a week check-in post, and Sunday seems like a good day for it. So here we are, a week in. How’d it go?

I feel like it was a successful first week. Maybe not all gung-ho, but I didn’t let myself wimp out, even when there were times I wanted to. I made it to five workout classes. Granted, none of them were high-intensity classes. But I don’t even care. I’m more concerned with going than anything else, at this point. So, two yoga classes and three tae kwon do classes satisfies me.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.06.40 PM

On Tuesday, I dug out my old FitBit so I could track my steps and be encouraged to get up and move about more often. Obviously, as you can see, it’s pretty useless for tracking how hard a yoga class is, but it does help me be more aware when I’ve spent the rest of the day as a sloth, which I do fairly often. All those books aren’t going to read themselves!

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.10.23 PM

And obviously this is something I need to work on. I mean, I’m aiming for 10,000 steps a DAY and I managed basically that in a WEEK, even though I’d decided to do better. OK, maybe there were a couple thousand on Monday. I seem to average about a thousand during a tae kwon do class, based on the two above. But still. That’s a pretty poor showing if I do say so myself.

I am looking into upgrading my FitBit to one that tracks the heart rate. OK, I’m dreaming of upgrading. Because lets be honest, I can’t afford anything new right now. But if I could, I totally would get this.

Alta HR, special addition

Wellll, I suppose I don’t need to spend an extra $30 for the gold plating (a regular one is only $149.95), but if I’m gonna fantasize I might as well go big, right? Hey, FitBit wanna send me a freebie and I’ll document my experience using it here? LOL. Man, I wish that sort of thing really happened in my life.

Anyhow, my point is that if I want a tracker that more accurately reflects my experience, I’m gonna need one that does better than say I burned 80 calories, with 81 steps (most of which were probably walking into and out of the room), when I actually did a class that had my heart pounding in my head. But until I can arrange that, I’ll stick with logging classes—I’m not disappointed with the five I did—and trying to up my number of steps each day, even if it’s just walking from the kitchen to the bedroom more often.

I think I’ll also start a food diary next week. For reasons including new food sensitivities and thousands of dollars in doctors visits, that probably deserve a whole post of their own though. But I also honestly believe what I do or don’t eat effects how I feel and how much energy I do or don’t have. So, it’s a valid subject to explore.

Week one down, I’m still feeling inspired. So, I’m going to call it a success. I admit, as always, I was guilty of doing exercise preparation related things as if that equaled actually going to the gym or for a walk. I spent a ridiculous amount of time picking out the right tracker and, of course, one really must have an updated color coded spreadsheet of available workout classes to accompany their goal. Right? Right?! I mean, everyone does this, right?


Despite the few time wasters, I’m still going with Yay me.