February 2016 Posts

How a Fitness Tracker Changed My Lifestyle

How a Fitness Tracker Changed My Lifestyle

Many years ago I purchased my first fitness tracker, the original Jawbone Up.  I bought it almost as a novelty item – I’m a techie guy and this was the latest and greatest tech gadget so had to give it a shot.  It was annoying to wear, constantly getting caught on my bracelet, uncomfortable as I tried to sleep and a chore to charge and sync.  My fitness tracker experiment lasted a month or so at most.  It soon lived in my backpack with the idea that one day I’d get back to wearing it again…  That day never came.

Fast forward to 2015, I was hopping around online and came across the Jawbone Up Move.  This fitness tracker seemed to be the answer to all my prior complaints – wireless Bluetooth syncing and a six month battery that never needed charging topped the list of benefits.  So, I hit the buy button and two days later it arrived at my doorstep.  Once again, I was off to tracking my steps.  Here’s the thing, I realized just how sedentary I was on a regular basis.  I’m a guy who’s always on the go, 24/7 aside from a few hours of necessary sleep to recharge.  I realized that while I’m always “active” doing things, I wasn’t very physically active aside from weekends playing with my boys in the park.  My average day at the office consisted of 1,500 steps on a good day.

That was six months ago.  I’m still wearing my Jawbone Up Move daily, it’s comfortably clipped to the inside of my pants pocket everywhere I go.  It’s discreet, out of the way, and it just plain works with zero effort.  I love the app which is really the key to it all.  It makes me accountable to myself to hit my daily step goal.  In the past two months, I haven’t missed my goal even a single time.  I’m averaging around 12,000 steps per day, knocking it out of the ballpark with upwards of 16-18,000 steps on a great day.  Here’s the thing, it’s been a relatively easy transition from pathetic to walking several miles each day.  I’ve found I’m great at multitasking in terms of being able to walk and talk or walk and type e-mails.  Now, instead of sitting idle at my desk while taking a twenty minute call, I pop on my headset and chat while I walk.  I’ve just instantly added 2,000 steps to my day (I walk at a pace of 100 steps/min).  Same thing with catching up on e-mails, especially reading those that are just informational or those which only require a short response.  I can work through a handful of e-mails on my phone and simultaneously add a thousand or more steps to my daily count.  As an added bonus, I find I’m also focused without distraction as I walk along doing these other tasks.  A true win-win scenario.

In addition to my daytime walking routine, I’ve also found that I really enjoy the relaxation of a late night walk after the rest of the world has gone to sleep.  It allows me to reflect back on the day’s events and think through solutions to the challenges I face in the day ahead.  It’s a great routine for both my body and my mind that’s become something I look forward to each evening.

In terms of the sleep tracking functionality, this tracker honestly hasn’t changed my sleep habits at all, but I still enjoy using it each night.  The things that I’ve learned are (1) I’m a really solid sleeper – and (2) I don’t get enough of it.  My sleep cycles are virtually textbook perfect with my body alternating between light and deep sleep.  I discovered that I fall asleep in minutes, it’s clear when I slow down and lay down I’m out like a light.  I honestly don’t have the desire to change the length of time I sleep each night.  I’ve got a million and one things happening in life and I don’t want to miss a moment of it sleeping life away.

Now-a-days I’m looking great and I’m feeling great too.  I’m not meaning to sound conceded, but I’ve truly never looked better in my entire life.  The funny thing is I didn’t look bad before I started this new lifestyle routine, I’ve always been in good shape and been happy with my height to weight ratio.  Turns out dropping 10 lbs (literally) was an even better fit for my body.  It almost came as a surprise that I’d lost the weight, it wasn’t even intentional, it just happened.  Makes sense though, a friend of mine recently lost a ton of weight – to the point I mistakenly thought he’d gotten surgery.  He explained to me that it was all a matter of simple math: move more and eat less equals less weight.  Well, I’m moving more but have skipped the eating less part, I love great food way too much.  Probably a good thing or I’d be considerably underweight with all I’m moving these days.

If you’re interested in buying the same model fitness tracker I use to try it for yourself, don’t be confused by all the different models and brands.  This one is simply called the “Jawbone Up Move” and is sold virtually everyone online and locally at a lot of retailers.  People mistakenly refer to my device a “FitBit”, but that’s actually a completely different brand.  Nothing against FitBit, they’re the household brand name in these devices, but their software pales in comparison to Jawbone’s.  Since the phone app software is the single biggest area where I interact with the device each day (which strongly motivates me), I wanted the best, cleanest and easiest to use platform available.  Jawbone is the clear cut winner in this regard.  A great app matched with a great device has made for a fantastic user experience which I highly recommend to others.

One last caveat, these fitness trackers aren’t just $50 each.  Yes, that’s the price for the FIRST one you buy.  Then when that one falls off your belt, pants, etc., you need to fork over another $50 for a replacement.  When another one mysteriously falls off of an aircraft wing (oops), there’s another $50 spent.  Eventually you’ll be spending $50 for Jawbone #6 after the fifth one finds a new home on the floor of a crowded concert never to be seen again.  To all those who got free Jawbone’s courtesy of me, you’re welcome.  I’ve probably spent around $300 on these little devices.  That being said, are they worth it?  Every single penny.  I’m already looking forward to my brand spanking new one…  I’m thinking by around February my current one will take leap of faith off of my pocket to find its new owner.  Hopefully it will add another 10,000 steps to their daily routine too – it may end up being the best treasure they ever find!