We all know it’s a good idea to pay attention to health, or “the status of the physical holster”. There’s no need to go scientific to realize, no need to read product declarations to comprehend, count calories or carbohydrates to measure, that lots of things we put in our mouth, more so in the western “civilized” world, is bad for our health.
That we do an awful lot of ass-sitting, remain inactive for the better part of otherwise busy days further contributes to what might unfold as somewhat of a challenge, later in life.
Getting older one discovers that things previously running on autopilot, demands more attention. Like burning fat, slows down, exercising need to happen more regularly if you want to stay in decent shape. This realization hit me especially when passing 40, or right before. Don’t remember, it certainly hit me, that’s for sure.
The daily/weekly dosage of training, in a moderate sense, went up from seldom, ad-hoc, occasional, to often and regular. Running/biking in summer, cross-country skiing during winter.
For some people this aging realization develops into what to me seems nothing short of training hysteria. Which at one point gave life to a whole industry. Gyms sprang up everywhere, I now have 3, if not 4, in short pedaling distance from home. But have yet to set my foot/feet in one of them.
For me, changing pace, changing routines, focus, apply the will to master the change, was a DIY matter. If I could not get my ass into gear then certainly spending lots of money and going to a gym would not help. The most important was to establish a routine, find a pattern, a cycle, a methodology, that would produce some results.
One day I came across an article about Interval Training, no longer have the link, and that changed my perception of what was needed, what to do. This NYTimes article sheds more light on the subject, you’ll also find links to a study to further widen the horizon. I recommend this article too, plus the subsequent ones. Good reading!
A few weeks using interval training methodologies, and some time developing methods that worked for me, huge change. No need for metering, not only did I feel better, more fit, clear physiological signs confirmed it. My doctor noticed it too, while in for a check, heartbeat rhythm change, resting beat lowered.
Until recently I’ve not kept track of progress or status. Quite likely it would have continued that way if it wasn’t for…
A Wristwatch & wireless health monitor
called FitBit Surge. Got it as a present for my birthday. At first glance a wristwatch, slightly bulky/raised, but with pretty neat design. It’s good to wear and the rubber band feels comfortable enough.
While the picture to the right shows digits you can choose between several time display options in configuration, whether web dashboard or via an app. Mine is now set with analog mode.
From an easy to read display you can swipe to read the number of steps you’ve walked, heartbeat frequency, distance, calories spent, number of stairs/floors and so forth.
You touch to invoke menus, one with a subset where you can track your run, your bike route, with in-built GPS.
Surge comes with a USB dongle, and connects wirelessly to your computer, as well as to your phone or tablet.
A dashboard of movable widgets lets you configure various displays and functions, set up your own standards for activity. And help you keep track on progress.
The app is very good, easy to use, nice design, and provide you with live updated info. Below a part of my dashboard.
Each widget and monitoring section can be individually configured, you can set your own standards and adapt it as you wish. Among other things you can set your stride length based on your physical characteristics, goals for daily or weekly activities and a whole lot more.
Accumulated information is being fed into the displays, and you get a log of your activities. Since GPS driven it tracks distance and elevations which I think is both cool and useful. I bike routes with lots of down/uphill. Statistics shows me heartbeat frequency and overall performance, speed and calories burned.
Going from analog to digital approach
If it hadn’t been for my better half I’d continued in the same analog fashion as before. Done my stuff, based on what I believed was working, routinely, and gauged results based on the “sticking finger in the air” method.
There’s this thing about over-focus, about being hung up, obsessed. Let something good develop into monitoring madness, with all or any psychological implications that might have. Perhaps it brings happiness to some, self contentment, I can see how it also might lead to negative effects. A daily log of your own inadequacy, laziness, of goals never reached.
Use it for what it is, a digital window viewing your daily or weekly activities. Set standards and goals that are within reach. Increase or raise thresholds when or if needed, when you feel ready. My amount of daily and weekly activity went up after I got Surge. However, that was a part of my original, analog plan.
I won’t let this thing or concept dominate my life and neither should you. It is after all about a whole lot more than physiologically related curves, digits, logs and statistics.