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.


DigiFit
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.

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