Fitness Motivation with wearables
”How much do you weigh now?”
That’s a question my wife used to ask daily, which would always lead to a small fight and moments of sadness. The truth was I didn’t know because it’s extremely easy to forget to weigh yourself. Scales run out of battery power or one of the kids borrows the scale. I know those excuses well. It was easy to maintain in my head that I was still 180lbs, which is still on the heavy side for me. When I finally got around to weighing myself, I was actually 198. I decided at that moment that I had to do something. Sad thing is that I’ve had that moment several times in the past. I’ve had many different wearables and was carrying a majority of that weight through three different generations of the Apple Watch. Regardless of what I say below, none of these things will make a change with you. Truth is weight loss is certainly achievable without gadgets, it just takes a motivation on the individual.
All the wearables
I’ll just rattle them off to get them out of the way. Jawbone UP, UP2, Fitbit (the one that looked like a clip), Fitbit One (the one that went into a rubber sleeve that looked like a clip and had the sleep wrist band that always got lost and I found a week later.), Polar FT4 (Had the chest strap for pulse, really only wore that in my mountain biking phase), Apple Watch 1,2,3,4, and now the Oura Ring.
The Jawbone UP was the first thing I ever had that tracked steps and it tracked sleep as well and I would say was really the first time in my life that I ever started to regularly walk and run a little. Even now, I look back at that being a fairly nice looking bracelet as well as providing a reasonable amount of motivation through challenging friends that had them. The sleep tracking was nifty and for a little while motivated me to go to sleep by a certain time, but it was more or less a button to start and a button to stop and it tracked your movement during the night.
From there I’d say every device was pretty much an upgrade with the Polar being more or less only for tracking my heart rate while cycling. At the time, I had a Tissot Touch watch that was on the first Tomb Raider movie and the Polar just seemed very ugly compared to that Tissot, so I only wore it while cycling.
The Fitbit’s were good upgrades from the UP, especially in being able to challenge more friends since a lot more people seemed to have them. I can’t remember if the clip one tracked sleep but the One definitely did. I hated that little velcro sleeve with a passion. It would stick to clothes and blankets, get lost. My wife would always think it was something unimportant that needed to be stuck in a drawer or hidden. Cat’s seemed to love to chase it deep under the bed. Basically, I stopped tracking sleep with the FitBit.
The current situation
Really since the Apple Watch, (the actually ordered on launch day gen1. Series0), it’s been my only wearable. I still carried my Fitbit One for about 4 months after I got the watch to keep challenges going. Eventually, I just decided I didn’t care so much about the challenges and stopped carrying the One. It really wasn’t until I got new Watches and passed them down to my family that I had friends to challenge. Each Watch upgrade has been great, but I think the Watch really made turn for me when Apple added Cellular capabilities in the Series 3. Currently, I have the Series 4 and I’m 109 days into a perfect circle streak. Within a year, I’m down to 170lbs and I’m currently dropping somewhere around 1.0 to 2.0lbs per week.
I’m not going to give Apple all of the credit, in that I’ve had to change my diet a good bit to get there. I started out making my circles, eating like I did before and really saw very little gains. But, for me, there was some motivation in seeing what I was doing circle wise and wanting to actually lose the weight. That’s what actually motivated me to change my diet.
Sleep is really important
Also, I have an Oura ring, which is by far the best sleep tracker I have ever used. (My opinion). I’ve tried using the Apple Watch (Pillow App), and Beddit. My issue with the Apple Watch is simply not having time to get the watch fully charged in the AM and liking to wear the watch up until bed time. I’m sure that Apple Watches will have better battery life in the future, but I still don’t see me wanting to wear my watch to sleep, also for me, my sleep time is the best time to charge the watch. Also, Oura does a good job of actually coaching and measuring other statistics like breaths per minute, heart rate, and heart rate variability. Put that all together and you can start actually seeing how bad decisions affect sleep. I’ve actually noticed how Caffeine, even coffee in the early afternoon can mess with my sleep. Also, I had no idea that alcohol before bed would be an issue with sleep. I used to think beer made me sleepy. Now I know about the sleep hammock (no, it’s not a bed) and shoot for that. My personal opinion, it that Oura is on the right track with that. (So Tim, buy Oura. Apple could probably make a fairly sleek ring that we’d all buy and every teenager would have to have.)
I’m really new to trying meditation. I will say that I’ve definitely enjoy it. I’ve converted some of my walks into Mediation walks. (Both Headspace and Calm have Meditation walks, Calm even has it on the watch.). I use Headspace, Calm, and Oura for meditations and have even started their Sleep Casts or Stories. Calm is my absolute favorite to use right now, but I do think that Headspace really jumpstarted me into doing them. Either way, I have subscriptions to both and don’t place on changing that anytime soon.
- Make it a habit. Of course I’m taking about the good things. Whatever it is, if I do it everyday and make it something I can track, then it becomes a source of pride that I continue doing it everyday. New case in point is Streaks Exercise, I’m two weeks into doing a 6 min exercise every day. And being that I hate, pushups, crunches, etc. that’s really saying something.
- Track everything and make that a habit. Food, Caffeine, etc. This actually was a problem for me, I only tracked the good stuff. Tracked the days that my diet was good, but didn’t track those cheat meals either by conveniently forgetting or even not knowing what to track it by. Now sometimes, I pre-track my meals and snacks and sometimes that convinces me not eat it in the first place.
- Balance exercise, rest, and sleep. This hurt me early on as well, and really relates to doing more exercise to move a stat on your wearable isn’t really helping in the long run, if you don’t sleep then drink unhealthy energy drinks the next day or even late after noon coffee to get you through the afternoon. It’s better to take it slightly easy one day and start building a cycle of proper sleep to an energetic next day. At one point, I really started to feel drained when I started pushing myself a bit and I had started my diet. I ended up eating more bad stuff to make up for calories burned.
- Leave some tech at home or turn on do not disturbed for during exercise. This really doesn’t have as much to do with Health other than since I’ve started doing Meditation walks, I get too carried away with notifications. So usually, when I get home, I leave my phone at the house and walk with my Apple Watch, Air Pods, and Oura ring alone. Yes it’s tech, but it’s less noticeable tech.
- As far as diet, I’m still trying to figure that out myself. But what works for me is to not get hungry in the first place. That way I don’t give in to the temptation to end up getting fast food or picking up takeout from somewhere. I’ve started keeping a selection of Nature Box on hand, and my daily ritual is Soylent Cafe Vanilla for breakfast and the Soylent without caffeine for lunch. Maybe a few snacks in the afternoon. Then a pretty regular dinner of Blue Apron or Sun Basket. I’ve also done away with Colas’s, energy drinks or any other liquid calories. Only drinks during the day are the Soylents, maybe one extra coffee in the am, and water. When I get home I budget two Michelob Ultra beers on the weekday and three or so on the weekend. (Yeah, I need to do better there.)
- Don’t be afraid to cheat, but limit or schedule the cheat. For me it’s meals. I started out allowing a couple of cheat meals a week where I ate and drank what I wanted. I’ve since scheduled myself two cheat meals a week and intend on dropping that to one when I feel I can live up to it. This isn’t a binding agreement with any one (Except MyFitnessPal), so occasionally when I’m out of town, I tend to eat out for dinner. But for the most part I keep it simple and do a cheat meal on each weekend day.
Apps that I use
- Streaks and Streaks Exercise. Steaks goes back to the make it a habit thing. I love that it shows me days in a row. That alone has made me walk the dogs in the rain, or finish up a circle or two after a day of car traveling. Streaks Exercise being able to work on the Apple Watch alone has worked out very good where during my walks I can duck in to the office or at the house, and do a quick 6 minute exercise no matter where my phone is.
- MyFitnessPal or MyNetDiary to track foot. I’m currently using MyFitnessPal but I found MyNetDiary to be extremely good as well. It’s just that I don’t need two of them and more of my friends are on MyFitnessPal and part of my motivation to eat right is that I’m sharing that data.
- Caffeine and Water Minder. My favorite two apps for tracking those two things. It would be nice if MyFitnessPal just added Caffeine to it’s information that it provides because I’m normally tracking the during there as well. Water Minder is really easy to use just my favorite. MyFitnessPal tracks it as well but I like Water Minder better.
- HeadSpace and Calm. I do Meditations on both and love parts of both. I suppose if I’m recommending, I recommend HeadSpace to a person started and teach them how to Mediate, but Calm’s Apple watch app is better. But then Headspace seems to have more content, maybe. I’d say Calm for now, but if Headspace adds more to the Apple Watch app then it could go the other day. That’s why I ended up with both.
- Oura’s App. This is only going to work if you have the ring. I do a couple of quick meditations or rests in it every day. It helps Oura with your Heart Rate Varitability.
- Built in Exercise, Breath, and Music apps on Apple Watch. Other than the Streaks Exercise app, all other excercise and walks are recorded with the Apple Watch Excercise app. Breath for simple 1 minute rests works and if I’m not doing a meditation walk I’m listening to music from either my iphone or Apple Watch.