27 June 2012

Two-Mile-Tuesday and "Caitlin"

Tuesday's are officially Two-Mile-Tuesdays.
When I look at my training plan for my 1/2 marathon, almost every Tuesday (with the exception of one) are 2 milers. So it's only natural that I dubbed the weekday "Two-Mile-Tuesday".  I kinda like it.  It's catchy.

So last night, Tuesday, I hit the gym and ran my 2 miles.  Well, I ran most of my two miles.  I'm still at a 15 minute per mile pace because I still have to walk part of it.  But I did also add some intervals into my 2 miles, which shook things up.  I have to say though, I'm not a big fan of running on a treadmill.

I work out (train!) in my apartment complex gym, which is... better than most.  We have 4 relatively new treadmills, a strength training combo machine (4 machines in one), 2 ellipticals, 1 ski machine, 1 exercise bike and a complete set of dumb bells. There's even an exercise bike and adjustable step.

It's less than 2 minutes from my apartment, air conditioned, open 24 hours and generally pretty empty.  There is only one downside to my apartment complex gym: some of the people who go there.

There's this one girl who we'll call Caitlin (she looks like a Caitlin), and she just irritates me.  She's a pretty thin girl, but she has a gut, like she drinks too much soda & alcohol.  I can tell that's the spot on her body that she hates and the spot she wants to loose from, and I feel for her, because I know how hard it is to loose weight...but I just can't like her.

Every time she walks into the gym she immediately goes straight for the TV remote (there is one, wall mounted TV in our complex gym).  As soon as she finds it she changes the channel and turns the TV way up - regardless of who else is in the gym.  She doesn't ask anyone if they're watching what was on TV, or if it's alright if she bogarts it, she just does it.  

And there's the matter of her "work out's" - I wish I could call them that.  I mean, kudos to her for getting off her butt and moving, but she just phones them in, and her form is AWFUL. I wanted to correct her so badly yesterday. She was doing crunches, bent over rows and over-head presses and I just cringed watching her.

Now, I'm not what I would yet consider "fit". I'm not thin, I'm not even just overweight and I'm certainly not a trainer, but I've worked with enough trainers and I've been doing this long enough to know proper form. And this girl doesn't have it.

Here is my hope: that she'll notice that I'm awesome - that I work hard and I have great form and I push myself, and she'll as for my help. I don't think it will happen, and I certainly don't expect it to... but I wish it would.  For her sake.

And for some motivation today I bring you my favorite site.

25 June 2012

Long Slow Distance

It's shaping up to be an interesting Monday.
My alarm didn't go off this morning, so I woke up 45 minutes late.  Awesome, I know.  Good thing I normally get up 45 minutes earlier than I need to. And I'm super, super tired. I mean, we're talking narcolepsy tired. I could honestly pass out at my desk right now.  Really, I could.  Don't tempt me.  I have about a billion things to do at work this week, and next week I'm only in the office for 2 (very busy) days before I fly to MN to be with my dad when he has surgery on his shoulder (torn rotator cuff).

But I'm not here to complain.  And I'm not making excuses. I'm just... tired.  And thinking of all the stuff I have to do is making me even more tired. I'm thinking of calling it an early night tonight.  And that makes me happy, not tired.

Let's talk about this weekend: It was interesting. My boyfriend was in Kingman with his family all day Saturday and half the day Sunday. Here's how my weekend went:

Saturday - got up early (5:30) and picked up our Bountiful Basket, went to the grocery store, got home, unpacked everything, reorganized the fridge, cleaned the apartment, did laundry, made salsa (tomatillo & poblano), had breakfast, played WoW, watched Season 7 of TBL (because I haven't seen that season), berated myself for not working out.

Sunday - got up at 5:15 for a run (later than I would have liked), go ready, went outside, cursed the humidity (it was seriously humid), jog/walked around the block (4.14 miles), almost threw up, got home, showered, had breakfast, watched Season 7 of TBL, ate Sushi when the boyfriend got home, played WoW, watched more TBL, made dinner, passed out.

But I also ate way more than I should have, and not necessarily great stuff, either.  I did really poorly on my nutrition this weekend, and I know I'll pay the price for it later.  I just don't get it.  I do really well for a long time, then I just... totally and completely crap out. I know what I'm putting in my mouth is something I shouldn't be eating, but I do it anyway.  All thing's considered, though, it could have been much worse.

And I can do better. I can do so much better. So I'm going to work on that.  At least I know there's a problem, right? 

Hey, bright side: 4.14 mile run! Yeah! I decided to try my hand at a LSD (Long Slow Distance) run, so I went around the block. Seriously, our blocks are big. haha. Unfortunately the Running God's were not looking favorably upon me on Sunday morning.  In Phoenix, 10% humidity is a freakin' lot.  I don't know how humid it was Sunday morning, but it was enough to feel oppressive, which is saying a lot for where I live.  When I stepped outside and saw the heavy clouds and scattered showers in the distance I thought "well, maybe it won't be so bad.  maybe it'll dissipate as the sun comes up..." Nope!

So it stayed humid the whole run.  I accidentally hit "airplane mode" on my phone very early in, and unfortunately that disconnected my HRM to my phone, so I jogged for about a mile and a half (straight - which is a huge deal for me!) without getting an accurate reading.  So my calories were off and my workout was off, but once I noticed I started a new workout, got my HRM reconnected and I was good to go.  Unfortunately by the time I noticed I was getting really weary from the jog and the humidity and the blazing sun, which was coming up and intent on cooking me like a fatty hunk of meat.

By the time I hit mile 3, I also hit my wall. I walk jogged for about half of the 4.14 miles.  I had to.  See, I almost threw up.  I am not the kind of person who works out (trains!) until they throw up. Throwing up is my least favorite thing ever.  So as soon as I started to feel sickly like that in my tummy I hit the walk button.  I hoofed it the rest of the way home, but I didn't feel better until after I'd showered and was laying on the couch with my breakfast.

And my pace? About a 15 minute mile.  That's with the walk jog.  Just the jog is probably anywhere from a 10 - 12 minute mile.  Which isn't terrible, actually.  I just need to work on getting to the point where I don't have to take walk breaks and I can just... jog.  That's my goal for the 1/2 marathon. I want to run it... not run/walk it.

Also, my new iPod armband is not quite as comfortable as I originally thought.  Turns out it's great for short distances (and I know some people would think 4 miles is short), but it chafes pretty bad and get's really itchy when it get's sweaty. So it looks like I'm going to be looking for a new one.

So I'm going to look into a "running weather" app. I know there must be one out there... there's an app for everything!

My plan this week:
Eat right - for real, I need to make up for my really poor weekend and find a way to carry my awesome week day eating habits into my weekends, too.  It's more than just willpower... it's boredom. I snack when I'm bored. I need to keep healthy snacks around all the time (especially when I'm at home) and find something to do to occupy my time so I don't WANT to snack!

Get some rest - even if it means my boyfriend making fun of me because I go to bed at 8pm, I am going to get some extra sleep this week!

Kick the Caffeine - sometimes I get extra tired in the morning if I have caffeine multiple days in a row... like I can't get going without it, comprende? Last week I had caffeine 4 days in a row, so that might contribute.  Time to kick it!

Train Right - I need to stretch more.  I'd like to incorporate yoga but I'm terrible at it (of course, I'll do it anyway).  Also: get some nice, short runs in there to build endurance and stamina.

Here's a random question for you all: I've been looking for a running track to do some speed training on, but I'm having a hard time finding one.  I could just do speed training on the street, but it's really hard to measure distance.  There are several high schools in my area, but I don't think I can just go use the track.  In the small town I grew up in, anyone could just go use the HS track.  It sucked, but it was totally open to the public.  Here, I'm not so sure, and I don't have a gym membership.  So - public track in Phoenix and.... go!

Stay Shiny!

22 June 2012

Weigh In Day #3

So I weighed in today.
I met my goal... sort of, so my boyfriend didn't get $10.  I weigh 192 today, which is the same weight as this time last week.  The difference? Last week I was only supposed to weigh 193 (but I lost 2 pounds).  This week I lost zero pounds, but because my goal (through Stickk.com) was 192, and I weighed in at 192... no $10 for boyfriend! yay! Haha.

I'm not bummed that I didn't lose weight.  I didn't work out enough this week and I splurged on Monday, then had splurgey left-overs on Tuesday.  It was all bad.  I had too many carbs and not enough protein.

But I didn't gain weight, so it's a win.  Besides, I'm still on schedule. No matter which way I look at it, the glass is half full and I'm still rocking hard core.

Not so nice thing, though: I had to spend 450$ on a flight to Minnesota July 3 - July 8.  My Dad has a torn rotator cuff and has surgery on the 6th, and my sister has finals so she can't make it out there.  Which means I have to. Bright side, though: I get to spend the 4th of July with my Dad and a few close friends that I haven't seen in a long, long time.

My boyfriend can't make it because his work has already put up the schedule, and my flight times SUCK, but I'm excited about the trip... sort of.  I'm bummed my Dad has to have surgery but he'll be ok - he's a strong guy.

Working out will be interesting.  It will be the week before I start my pre-training training for the 1/2 Marathon, so I'm going to be doing some runs, for sure, but I'll be in MN... with the humidity.

Phoenix doesn't have humidity, and when we do we practically die.  So running in a different kind of weather will be a change.  At least the scenery is nice!  I'm going to bring some workout gear for sure!

And there's biking, which I miss like crazy!!  We have this neat trail there called the Douglas Trail.  It's 16 miles from Pine Island (where my Dad lives) to Rochester (the closest big city).  The trail used to be a rail road track, but they took out the tracks and made it a trail and it's a really gorgeous walk/run/bike.  It goes through farmland and riverside and it's surrounded by trees.  I'm hoping my Dad has an extra bike he can loan me so I can take a nice ride on the trail. Not the whole 16 miles (plus another 16 back!) but maybe 8 miles? I could do 8 miles.

Anyway, that's what's new.  I'm a little stressed because of the last minute travel plans that are happening right after 2 jam-packed days at work, but it'll be ok.

Stay shiny!

21 June 2012

Thursday: Motivation and Inspiration

Today I would like to take a break from my regularly scheduled ranting about training (not just working out!) and nutrition to motivate and inspire you.

Images from Believe-To-Achieve (If you ever need any motivation, check out that site!)

you need all three!

wishing and dreaming will only get you so far!

Don't lose your spirit!

This is the key to happiness!

This helps light my soul on fire!

I was telling myself something similar this morning, without ever hearing this quote!

Don't ever let yourself believe you're less than you are: You are everything you want to be!

Stay shiny and drink your water!

20 June 2012

I Will Eat All the Foods! And Training for a Half

Yesterday was all bad.
Well, ok, maybe not all bad.  But it was pretty bad.  Nutritionally speaking, anyway.  I just wanted to eat everything in sight.  And I did... mostly.  I mean, I don't have bad things in sight, so that's not so bad, right? Except I had left-overs from Monday night's splurge... Chang's. I love Chang's, but today I just feel bloated and gross.

Probably because yesterday was super carb heavy.  I had a total of 267g of carbs, where I normally have between 150 and 170g.  The highest I've had was 201g.  What did I eat that was so carb-o-licious, you ask?

Well, let's see...
Breakfast was a delicious and super healthy smoothie. I had a total of 37g of carbs at breakfast.  Totally normal for me.  Lunch only had 43g, again, not bad.  Dinner, 59g.  We're only at 139 here, so I've got some carbs to spare.  It was my snacks that killed me.  My AM snack had 55g, my afternoon had 47g, and my after-dinner snack (remember I said I ate all the foods?) had 26g.  My snack's alone had 129g of carbs. A normal snacky day for me (with 3 snacks) only tops out at about 75g of carbs.

I don't regret it. Well, ok, maybe a little.  But I can't change it, so all I can do is move forward to change the now and the future.  And I have to say, I love that I've been keeping my detailed food logs.  It makes it easy for me to pinpoint what the problem is.

For example: before my food logs if I felt bloaty and gross and just ucky I wouldn't equate it to food.  Or, I might, but I wouldn't know what to change.  I'd just say, "oh well, ho hum I guess it'll go away."

But now that I've been keeping these logs I know what normal is for me, and what isn't.  So when I'm feeling bloated and icky and gross I can look at my food log and say, "Golly it looks like I ate almost twice as many carbs as I normally do" or, "gee I sure didn't get enough protein yesterday, no wonder I feel sluggish."  See?

In other news, I picked up a Kindle book called Runners World Big Book of Marathon & Half Marathon Training: Winning Strategies, Inspiring Stories and the Ultimate Training Tools (Amazon.com).  Long title, I know.  But worth it.  It's about $11 for the Kindle and it's great!  I'm already into chapter 3.  There's more to it than that, though.  I suppose I should give you the back story. 

See, I'm running a half marathon in December.  December 2nd, to be exact, and I've never run an official race before.  I can run a 10k (or I used to be able to) but never longer than that.  Recently I decided that I need to get back into it, and I stumbled upon this half marathon.  I thought to myself "Self, you put it on your 2012 to-do list, so hop to it!"  And hop I did.  I paid the 48$ fee, sealing my fate, and promptly had a panic attack because I am just NOT READY to run a 1/2 marathon!

I taped this to my computer at my desk at work
so I can see it and be inspired and happy always.

The first thing I did was pick up a copy of Runner's World magazine.  I love that magazine.  PS: this awesome picture to the leftis from this month's issue. It made me really happy. I wish the guy was a girl, but I still feel like, in spirit at least, that's me when I'm running. As I was perusing the mag I saw an advert for this book.  I looked it up online and viola.  It was mine.  Instant wireless download via my kindle. (I love my kindle).  I started reading it at lunch yesterday and I just haven't stopped.  It has everything and it's great for beginners or seasoned pro's who want to brush up on the basics.

I even took it upon myself to schedule out my training for the Half.  I used their schedule (in one of the appendixes) and set it up for myself on my own calendar.  I have roughly 24 weeks before the Half.  That seems like a lot and a little all at once.  The training schedule is 10 weeks, so here's what I'm doing:

I'm taking the next 3 weeks to build up my general fitness whatever way I choose.  Then, for 10 weeks, I'm going to do what I'm calling the Pre-Training Training.  I'm literally going to go through the complete 10 week training plan for the Half.  At the end of it, I'm going to run the Half... on the course of the actual Half Marathon.  Maybe.  I haven't decided on that one yet.  On one hand I want to know what my first time would be to see if I could beat it.  On the other hand... race day magic, you know? I might wait.

Anyway, then I'm giving myself 1 week to recover.  I'll do light cardio or whatever.  Then the Real Training begins.  I start the 10 week training with the previous 10 weeks already under my belt, and hopefully I'll be a little bit faster and a little bit thinner.  At the end of those 10 weeks, of course, is the Half.  

So I have my workouts scheduled for the next 24 weeks. It feels kinda nice.  It's really neat to think that I'm not just working out... I'm Training. That kind of elevates the whole fitness thing for me, really.  I can't quit, I can't skip, I can't give up... I'm Training.  You know?

Anyway, I'm pretty psyched about this Half Marathon. My goal is to just finish without injuring myself and to feel great.  I'm not looking to set a super fast time or to beat anyone. I'm just interested in finishing... and then eating and then passing out.

So that's the plan.  And the confession about the food.  And I don't think I'm going to reach my goal this week of losing 1 pound (I snuck a peak at the scale this morning and I was up 2 pounds, but you know, that changes from day to day. I just hope I'm not up 2 pounds on Friday!) but even if I don't that's ok, because I'll lose it next week for sure.  

Hard work.
Stay shiny!

17 June 2012

Before Photos and DigiFit Update

Well folks, here we go: the dreaded before photos.
I'm not going to get all sentimental or sappy or whiny about them, either.  They are what they are and I can't do anything about what my before photos look like.  All I can do is work towards what the "after" photos will look like.  And let me tell you, it will be awesome.

Without further adieu, here they are.

I've also posted them on my progress page. I can't wait to see the after pics!

On the DigiFit front: I am happy to say that I figured out how to turn off the push notifications on my phone, which is nice and battery-saving.  Also, now that I have some more data, here's an update on the screens.

The dashboard (above) shows your overall day-to-day activity.  Hovering over any will give you a small break-down, and clicking on it will take you to the workout details page.

Turning on the location services and logging an outdoor workout where you go somewhere will generate a map.  It's really neat - it shows you where you hit each mile marker and your route, and the iPhone measures pace and elevation, too! So I can get that data even though I don't have the FitBit.
Now I can use the neat combination chart (above), that shows heartbeats, pace and elevation stacked, which is a neat way to see how your body reacts to changes in pace and elevation.

The HR zones are only available on the mobile app, however, but they are a lot of fun! To the left is the zone breakdown for my most recent workout.  It was a3.3 mile jog that took approximately 50 minutes.

That about does it for me today, folks.  I'll post another update later this week.  Stay shiny!

15 June 2012

I love technology.  
No, seriously.  Back in the 60's people thought we'd have flying cars by now, but I'll take what we've got and what we're working towards over a flying car any day.  Besides, I'm holding out for my personal teleporation pad.  Flying car or not, you should probably buckle up, this will be a long one!

Before I get into the technology aspect, lets start with my weekly weigh in.
Officially: 192.2 pounds (down 2 pounds from last week!) I also measured my waist & hips, which come out to 34" (waist) and 46" (hips).  In the future I'm going to post a screenshot of my Withings app for my weigh in (I love it!) but because I'm doing the review today that screenshot will be below.  Plus, my boyfriend won't be getting $10 today, since I met (exceeded!) my goal of losing 1 pound this week.  Thanks, Stickk!

On to the technology aspect.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, I ordered some neat things, which all play nicely together. Below I'll give you my own review of all of them, with screenshots! Keep in mind, I haven't been using these long term yet, so I don't have a lot of data.  I'll do another review in a month or so.  

A quick note about my OS etc before this gets going: I am an iPhone user, but I have Windows 7 on my PC and I use Firefox for my browser (Safari on the iPhone).  I haven't experienced any incompatibility issues with anything below in these formats.  

My Personal Nutriton Logs / SparkPeople
These are my personal logs I'm keeping in Excel, via SparkPeople.  Basically I write down everything I eat in a food journal.  Then I log it into SparkPeople.  Once that's done for the entire day, I view a report of the entire day, then I export the data to a file (which I choose to open with Excel).  I've set up my excel logs so they work for me, and I insert a screenshot of my SparkPeople pie charts.

Daily Nutrition with pie chart screenshot
I keep 2 logs: one for daily nutrition, and one that has overall line graphs to show a snapshot of my progress. The chart above is my daily nutrition chart. This is basically just the exported file from SparkPeople, that I format in excel.  I add the daily totals and daily goals myself, because for some reason that info doesn't come through.  I don't add the totals for each meal, though, because that's just tedious.

The chart below is my line graph.  It's really helpful to see how I'm doing over time.  I added in the blue, shaded area myself based on what my goal ranges should be.  This helps me see where I'm at and where I should be.

Line graph to show daily, over-time progress

These graphs are killer useful!  They help me make good food choices and analyze my nutrition over time so I can plan well-balanced, healthy meals.  In just the short time I've been using it so far (since June 6th), I've already been able to make generalizations about the things I eat and move things around so I'm still eating the things I love, but my daily nutrition is more balanced.

Withings Scale.
I love this thing.  It's a WiFi scale and costs about $160 (through Amazon.com) and can sync with a wide variety of fitness websites and programs.  Seriously, if it tracks weight, this thing can probably sync with it.  Plus, they have a really neat interface and an app for both Android & Apple. 

The interface can be a little confusing at first, but if you just play around in it you can figure it out - it took me about an hour or so to get the hang of it.  I did have a little issue with it syncing the incorrect information to my app and Sparkpeople.  In the app my body fat and lean mass were listed as way higher than the web interface, and then SparkPeople would match the app.  

I discovered that on your phone you have to go to configuration > weight and then turn on fat mass in % and lean mass in %.  It was showing in actual pounds instead of percentages like everything else, and then SparkPeople was automatically interpreting those as percentages (because it didn't know any better).
Withings iPhone App
To the left is a view of the Withings, iPhone App.  The lighter blue bar in the center represents the healthy range for each group (weight, lean mass and fat mass) and it shows where I currently am in respect to that.  The goal is to get all your sliders into the light blue range. If you turn the phone horizontal, it will display the graph, shown below (which I took from the web-interface, but they look pretty much the same).

Withings web-interface (weight only)

Polar Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor
Simply put: awesome.  This HRM costs about 75$ (through Amazon.com) and is very comfortable to wear and the care instructions are detailed and clear.  The booklet that comes with it is huge, but its printed in like 15 languages. You really only need the first 5 pages or so.

Polar Bluetooth Smart HRM
No web app here! Just a good, high-tech device
The "pod" detaches from the strap, which is neat, and the snaps that hold it in are sturdy.  I didn't notice any slippage of the strap while wearing it, and the little "pod" is actually pretty small.  It didn't bother me at all.  It not only sync's with my DigiFit app (easily and quickly!) but it sync's with workout equipment, too! I was getting a reading from both my app and the treadmill during my workout, though they differed by between 1 and 3 heartbeats.  I used the info on my app, not the treadmill (because I don't trust those things as a rule).

Bonus: because I purchased this HRM, I saved myself a little extra money and one less device. The DigiFit app can sync with ANT+ HRMs, Bluetooth HRMs and Bluetooth Smart HRMs.  If I were to purchase an ANT+ HRM I would also have to purchase the DigiFit Connect (yes - another device) in order for DigiFit to connect to my HRM.  Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart devices do not require the DigiFit Connect - but make sure you check that your smartphone is compatible with Bluetooth / Bluetooth Smart before you buy your HRM!  The DigiFit website lists devices and compatibility.

The only con would be battery life.  Per the instructions, the battery only lasts about 150 hours, and it's not rechargeable.  It's easy enough to take out and replace, however, and the batteries are inexpensive.  And since it's Bluetooth Smart, it uses less power (and less juice on my phone!) than a regular Bluetooth device. 

TuneBand for iPhone
Yay for an armband - finally! This iPhone 4s compatible armband costs about 22$ (through Amazon.com).  I didn't wear it on my workout yesterday since I was in the apartment complex gym and not outdoors, but I did try it on and walk around with it for a while.

The strap material is comfortable and stretchy.  Most of the straps for these devices aren't long enough to fit around my arm, but this one was!  The rubber holder for the iPhone fits really well - not too tight, not too loose - and I'm not afraid the phone will fall out of or off the strap.

It comes with the rubber phone holder, screen protectors (both front and back) and the strap, plus a neat little "thank you for purchasing" card which is really well designed.

The only con is that the rubber holder for the phone covers up  the volume and silent buttons on the side, which was a little awkward for me, and I found myself pressing them accidentally when I was moving the phone around.  It's not a cover I would want on my phone all the time, though you can leave it on all the time if you'd like.  Also, since the phone is exposed you wouldn't want to take it out in the rain with this strap, but since I live in Arizona I don't predict I'll have an issue with that.

I cannot say enough happy things about this website and app!  Seriously my new favorite thing!  I saved it for last because I have the most screenshots for it.  It's seriously detailed and it can just do so much!  

Ok, first off, It tracks heart rate real time when you're working out.  I paid roughly $10 for the ability to do fitness assessments and to connect to my devices (it's about $3 to connect to devices - a one time payment that is required to connect to an HRM, the scale and other devices - and about $5 to get the fitness assessment workouts).  I am so glad that I paid for both!

The app has a lot of options and is super sleek, and the web interface is really detailed, too!  You can turn voice commands on or off, have a male of female voice, select when you want voice prompts, choose a variety of workouts or do your own, workout indoors or outdoors, turn maps/location services on or off (to map your route) and it connects with a handful of devices.  I consider myself tech-savvy and it took me a good several hours and one workout to get the hang of how the device works.  I recommend checking out their FAQs page and watching some of the how-to videos (there is no shame - I had to, too!).

I have DigiFit connected to my Withings Scale and my HRM, but it will also connect to a FitBit (which is a type of pedometer but way cooler and I want one), the Withings Blood Pressure Cuff (which I don't want or need) and the Zeo Sleep Monitor (something I think would be cool, but I don't plan on buying).  I'm pretty sure it connects to other things, but I can't think of them right now.  The website lists them and even sells them in packages.

Basically, if you were to have all those devices, DigiFit could give you a snapshot of your total, overall health in one place.  The only thing it doesn't seem to do is blood work, and I'm sure they're trying to figure that out! Granted, it's a lot of devices and it can get expensive, but it's so comprehensive and sleek, I can't wait to start racking up the results!

Fit Test results (web interface)

Moving on, yesterday I did my first fit test and it went off without a hitch.  I did the 7 minute beginner cardio fit test.  The instructions were clear and the male voice was not annoying or robotic.  The above photo is of the fit test results online.  It shows the date, duration, score, V02 Max (which is estimated), average heart rate and max heart rate.  If I do a fit test every month I can compare my scores to see how much I improve over time... which is AWESOME.  Plus, there are a LOT of fit test options.  You can do one for almost every activity type (run, bike, cardio etc) and there are a variety of intensity levels for each (like beginner and advanced, etc).

App results page (iPhone)
Let's take a look at the app interface.  I did a quick, 20 minute fast-walk workout after my fit test just to see how the app worked and how to interpret the data.  To the left you can see the app results page.  It doesn't list distance because I don't have a pedometer (FitBit), but once I get that it will plug in the distance and pace.  You can also add your distance manually online and it will calculate your pace.  It's a really comprehensive results page... but wait! there's more!

More results! (iPhone)
Slide over to the next screen and you can see how long you spent in each zone with a handy-dandy pie chart!

Even more results! (iPhone)
This has my personal HR zones plugged in - neat, right?
Slide it again and you can see just where in each zone your heart was for your entire workout.  This chart is probably my favorite, because I've been told by trainers that I need to "workout in zone 2" to burn fat... usually that's just an arbitrary number.  How do I know which zone is zone 2? What number = zone 2? Now I don't have to remember!!  

Bonus: since I did the fit test, I have my own set of custom heart rate zones tailored to my heart!  It's way more accurate, that way!

Yeah, that's right, more info! (iPhone)

You can also enter information about your workout.  What mood were you in? Were you indoors or outdoors and what was the weather like?  How intense was this for you?  Any notes?  Yeah, it's that great.  Plus, there's an in-app camera you can use to take pics if you want to.


The web interface is super detailed.  I mean... It's just nuts how detailed this is.  You can view it using the web browser on your smartphone, but I recommend a computer or tablet, just because there's so much info!  Below, the next 2 screenshots show my "dashboard" page, which shows me a snapshot of all my info.

Dashboard (web interface) part 1
I toggle between time, calories and distance (it will show over time but obviously I only have the one day logged).  The top half is a general overview of workouts and the bottom half shows an overview of health stats.  Since I don't have the blood pressure cuff or Zeo neither of those widgets have data.

Dashboard (web interface) part2
The lower half of the dashboard page (pictured above) shows a more detailed view of each workout I did that day.  I can click on many of the factors below to get an even more detailed view.

Workout details (web interface)
Want to see details about your workout? Just click on view details (above).  I can see all the info I entered in the phone app, adjust them, or enter in the data if I didn't do it on my phone.  Here I can also enter in the Miles to get an accurate calculation of pace.

Fancy Combination Chart (web interface)
How about checking out how your heart rate and pace changes when your elevation changes? Or if your speed changes, what does that do to your heart rate?  Well, there's a chart for that!  I don't have FitBit (YET!!) so I can't really use this chart - pictured above -  (YET!!) but once I do, it will show me my elevation, heart rate and speed and how they're all related.

More workout breakdown details (web interface)
Want to see more details about your workout? They've got it and it's easy to find.  A lot of these charts are all on the same screen, I just wanted you to be able to see bigger images of them so I cut them into pieces. You're welcome.

Personal Best Screen (web interface)

DigiFit will also track your personal achievements (left).  As you improve, your personal bests will be displayed.  You can see there's an option for checking out your personal bests for the year or month, or all at once.

Ok, final set of screenshots, I promise.  Let's say you want to see how many times you worked out over the course of the month, or see how far you ran each week.  DigiFit has a handy calendar built in for you to take a look at.  It's interactive, it's sexy and it's really amazing.  Seriously, these guys thought of everything!

Calendar (web interface)
Click on an icon to see it's details!

Easy to figure out symbols show you where you weighed in and what workouts you did on what days.  Weekly totals are calculated on the far right.  Clicking on any of the symbols will give you details on the information it's referencing (left).


At the bottom of the calendar page, it shows you statistics for your month and year to date.  I'm really excited to see this fill out.

Calendar page statistics (web interface)

I've been looking for a comprehensive workout calendar for months.  This is the first one that I've had that is exactly what I wanted.  DigiFit: you had better never quit on me, because I effin love you!

I have only 2 cons: 
1) I can't figure out how to get the push-notifications on my phone to turn off.  I've checked the settings within the app with no luck, and I turned off the notifications for the app in my iPhone settings notification center, but it still sends them.  That turns my phone screen on mid-workout and when you're jumping in and out of zones it can get annoying.  Plus it uses more battery life that way.  

2) Obviously: battery life.  They have a really great tutorial on how to extend battery life if you're a hardcore, hours-long athlete, but because it connects to the HRM via Bluetooth... even with Bluetooth Smart it's still going to be a drain.  Add in music playing at the same time and I can see how it would run your battery down pretty quickly.  ANT+ would use less battery power, but I like my new HRM too much to spend the money on a switch.  For an hour - 2 hour long workout I don't think my phone would die.  I'll test that out and let you know, since I'm training for a 1/2 marathon.

OK, so those are my reviews.  
I would 100% recommend DigiFit to anyone and everyone.  To really use it to it's fullest potential, however, you have to at least have a HRM - either with ANT+ (and the DigiFit Connect) or with Bluetooth/Bluetooth Smart technology.

The Withings Scale is one of my favorite toys.  It's not necessary, though if you're trying to lose weight I think you should have a scale of some kind, but it's definitely fun.  I love that I don't have to enter my weight into 12 different applications... it does it automatically. Bless you, WiFi Gods.

I'm really looking forward to getting the FitBit, which I've asked my boyfriend to get me for my birthday in August.  That device can sync up with my DigiFit account and provide me with even more comprehensive data.  I do a lot of hiking in the Fall through Spring, so it will be really neat to see my Heart Rate vs. Elevation vs. Pace on my hikes and compare that to my jogs.

Overall downside: it's a lot of devices.  Even if you don't get the blood pressure cuff and the sleep monitor, it's a minimum of 2 devices (heart rate monitor and smartphone to collect data), 3 if you have an ANT+ HRM (because you need the DigiFit Connect).  My total "devices" is up to 4 and I'm going to make it 5 in August.
  1. Scale - for weight (WiFi = awesome plus)
  2. SmartPhone - apps! Though most people have one these days, I know some don't.
  3. Armband - to take my workouts mobile!
  4. HRM - to accurately measure HR and calories burned
  5. FitBit - to measure pace, elevation, steps etc (coming in August!)
  6. (PS: that's not counting the DigiFit app that you have to download, or SparkPeople/my Excel files, which I use to monitor my nutrition)
I can't wait to show an update of some of my graphs and charts next month (or next week, haha!) after I have some more data to report on.  I am a tech type of girl... and the fact that I can use this kind of technology, which is easy and I don't have to think about much, to get these kind of awesome and comprehensive results... well, I'm like a kid in a candy store.  It's so much fun to me!  Granted, it's not for everyone... but I love it.  End of story.

So, if you've stuck around this long, congrats, you are probably one of the few.  I realize this was a long one, but there were a lot of pretty pictures to look at!

This weekend (or Monday, whenever) I'll update with progress photos. Or, more accurately, start-of-challenge photos.  Then at the end of my 20 weeks, I'll add my new photos.  I'm going to do progress pics every month, because I'm crazy like that, but I will probably only upload them for milestones.

Stay Shiny!

PS: if anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask! I'm more than happy to share my technology-friendly views, thoughts and info etc.  And if anyone picks up one or more of the above, that would be cool to know, too! I'm curious about your thoughts and experiences with the tech.

13 June 2012

Making Changes

I realize it's been a while since I've checked in.  I've been making changes and commitments and getting back into it.  No, really, I have.

Since June 06 I've been keeping detailed records of what I've eaten.  Everything I've eaten.  I'm exporting my SparkPeople nutrition reports and generating four graphs.  I highlighted my ideal range within these graphs and I'm making sure I stay in them.  Granted, I do better in some areas than others.

I've already noticed a trend: I need to find a way to reduce the amount of fats I'm eating. Now, they're good fats, don't get me wrong here, but I notice that I typically get the same amount of protein every day (a really great amount) and then I'll either have a lot of carbs or a lot of fats.  I need to figure out how to balance my carbs and my fats so my charts are a bit more even.

I haven't been working out as much as I should be, but when you're losing weight the biggest priority is nutrition, so that's what I'm focusing on.  Nutrition.  I am going to work exercise in there, don't get me wrong, but part of my problem is that I'll go full-tilt on everything, and I need to get really good at one thing before I add another one in there. I can't expect that I can do it all, all at once, you know?

So I'm starting to add the fitness in as well.  And to track that I've ordered some handy techy-tools which I'll report on as soon as I get to try them out, but for now here's the plan:

  • I ordered a special Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) with a smart bluetooth technology.  This HRM will sync with my iPhone.
  • I ordered an armband strap for my iPhone. Seems easy... but not so much. I'm picky, and I wanted to make sure I got exactly what I wanted.
  • I ordered (and received) a Withings WiFi scale.
  • I joined a website called Stickk and set up a goal to lose 1 pound every week, or I owe my BF $10 (automatically sent to him if I don't reach my goal!!)
  • I also downloaded a free app called Digifit.  I LOVE THIS APP!  I bought all the extra's for under $10.

Now, separately, these all might not be so amazing, but put them together and you get a comprehensive fitness-measuring tool!

Here's how it works
My Withings scale has WiFi and measures my weight, lean mass, fat mass and BMI.  Every time I measure it sends the measurements to my Withings account online automatically.  It can also sync to multiple accounts - like SparkPeople and Stickk and Digifit, automatically updating my weight with those programs.

The HRM syncs to Digifit, and accurately tracks my calories (based on heart rate).  Digifit allows me to see my zones, set my own workouts, map my route, do fit tests, and gives me results I can actually interpret since it will tell me which heart rate zone I'm in instead of giving me just an arbitrary number. (seriously, if you tell me my HR is at 180 I'll have no idea which zone I'm in, and trying to remember which zone is which number is just a pain)  Yay Digifit!

So I strap on my iPhone using my new armband, set up my Digifit to connect to my HRM, select the workout I want and BAM. I can now go jogging (I can use it indoors or outdoors!) or do whatever and accurately track all of these things, all while listening to my favorite tunes.

On weigh in day my weight automatically get's updated to all the various places I want it right after I step on the scale. If I don't reach my goal of 1 pound every week, Stickk automatically sends my boyfriend 10$, and I work that much harder next week so that he doesn't get paid. Hello accountability.

There's another little piece of the puzzle called a FitBit.  I asked my boyfriend if it could be my birthday present.  It's a little 100$ gadget that tracks your steps, stairs, pace etc.  I think it can also track calories in, too, which is neat, but I haven't played around in the program (obviously) because I don't have one yet.

I love technology, and I am committed to losing weight and getting fit and making this change last. The combined seems like a lot, and it is... there are a lot of little pieces to this puzzle, but for me it works.  If I have to log on to 6 different websites and enter my information 6 different times... no thanks. It takes too much time and I don't have a lot of that.  The Withings reports are really neat, and I'm looking forward to see the DigiFit reports (screenshots to come!), plus SparkPeople is great for my nutrition and community.

Overall, I'm really excited.  By the end of the week I'll have all of my toys in, and I'll set them up and write a review blog on them.  I'm also going to try to blog once a week (at least) - probably after weigh in days, which are Friday's... so maybe Saturday or Sunday.

Stay Shiny!