Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fitness Trackers - My Take on Them

Now I find fitness trackers pretty useful and they seem to be all the rage at the moemnt!

I have owned a Jawbone UP24 which I think has now been superseded by Jawbone Up2.

The main reason I bought the jawbone was because it came in orange lol, its my fav colour. But it has plenty of cool features.

Idle Alert  - so when you have been sitting around doing nothing for too long, it reminds you to get off your lazy ass!

Step tracking -  It counts how many steps you have done each day, you can set goals and the smartphone app will tally it all up and report back how much you have done.

Sleep tracking - It works out how much sleep you have had in total, deep sleep and light sleep and you can see over a period of time how good or bad you are doing ( This feature was one of the main reasons I gave up shift work!)

Food tracking via the app- I never bothered with this, but my brother and friends logged all their food and found it really interesting to see how much they were actually eating.

The app lets you log work outs you have done and the type you have done, and estimated calories burned etc, all very good and if your friends have it too you can be part of the same team and motivate each other etc!

The Jawbone app links to a lot of other apps too, like Run Keeper for example

The main issue with the Jawbone band, which may have been sorted out with the newer versions was that, they were pretty fragile and a bit unreliable at times. My friends lasted about 6 months on average, a year tops. Mine after a year started acting up and the button on the band stopped working, but I could still use it via the app. Sometimes it would just lose all power even when it was nearly full, and then would require a full recharge again (this happened about 5 times in the near 2 years I had it).

Also battery life was never 14 days, I got a week at best

After the jawbone, I decided on a Xiaomi Mi Fitband

This is super cheap like $20 all in, it has a good app, but it doesn't do a lot of the fancy stuff that the Jawbone does.

It does:

Idle Alert
Step Tracking
Sleep Tracking

So the key features, it can be used to unlock your mobile phone too, depending on what version of android etc you are using. It is pretty well built and the battery lasts 30 days...a realistic 30 days! I have used it for 30 days between charging, that is pretty epic!

There are plenty of fake bands about so just be careful when buying. For the price its a total bargain as far as I am concerned!

You can look back over the last week/month etc and see how much you've done on average, also there are other fitness bands, so find one you like at the right price point to get you going.

These are just 2 I have used so I can comment on.

The app isn't as invasive as the Jawbone. The Jawbone app would always give you updates and tell you , that you were being lazy etc and tell you at around midday how much you had or hadn't done. The App for the Mi Fitband doesn't do any of that, you have to go into it to get an idea of where you're at, and the app doesn't link to anything else apart from Google Fit App, which is OK but nothing special. But then again look at how much you are paying for it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Exercising while having a desk job!

So all this exercising lark....I mean what is it all about?!

Working in any desk job especially IT related jobs, involve a lot of sitting around and usually with bad posture!

People seem to think that you have to have some bIg work out routine, or start big. Neither is true, trust me on this!

Now the stuff I am going to recommend I really like, I am not endorsed by them in any way, it has just worked for me.

I am a big fan of workouts at home, that are short and sweet and to the point, there are simple workouts out there for everyone. You can do them in your hotel room, on your lunch break, as soon as you walk in the door from work.

Insanity Max 30


Les Mills Combat

DDP Yoga

RKS Kettle Bell

All these DVD sets have work outs that are around the 30 min mark give or take a few minutes either side. So no real excuse not to do them. I own them all and I randomly pick a workout and go through it. It probably isn't the best way to do it, but it keeps it fresh and it keeps me active.

For me I have to do the workout as soon as I walk in the door, if I do anything else, I most likely wont get round to working out. The key is always what is more important to you, as you'll either find a way....or find an excuse my friend!

Also you are doing it in your own home, no one can see you or cares that you have to stop 15 times during the workout, all you have to worry about is finishing it...that is all...just get to the end.

When I worked nights at around 1am I would take my lunch break and spend 30 mins working out, using one of these DVDs on my laptop and then jump in the shower. It was a good way to stay awake and to use my time wisely!

There are loads of other DVD options, find something that works for you...that is the key.

Start small, these workouts require you to train 5 days a week for 30 mins a day on average, that can be pretty daunting, or you will start and then find it too hard. The key is you don't have to do the 5 days, you could start doing only 2 and just make your way through the workout routine till the end, it'll take you longer but you can easily build yourself up!

SoME people prefer to workout at the gym, and that is fine too. Just make sure the gym is pretty close to your work or home, otherwise it'll be too easy to find excuses. Also hire a personal trainer for a couple of sessions at the start and every so often, so you have someone to show you whats up and to keep tabs on your progress. I don't know about you lot, but if I am spending money...I make sure I get my moneys worth out of it! Just bare in mind most gyms make their profit from the memberships...THAT NEVER GET USED!

Some people prefer cardio, some prefer weights, some prefer to mix it up. All are fine, just get busy doing something, trust me you'll work it out as you go. People always want a master plan in place, and time and again in my life, I keep realising the best thing to do is just start, and stuff will work itself out and you'll figure it out. Just make the decision to start getting fit and make those small continuous steps towards it...THAT IS ALL!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Now that you are diabetic - my thoughts and decision

As I was heading to the ER I had all these thoughts in my head. Diabetic. I'm only 34! I knew i was pre-diabetic two years ago but I had changed right?

Well... being honest to myself - I had not changed. Yes, i stopped drinking normal soda but I started drinking more sweet tea and I’ve definitely been drinking more beer since moving to NYC. I did start doing more sports but i stopped once I moved - that was 4 months ago... maybe those short walks don't really count as exercise like I thought. I definitely know I’ve been eating more - and making unhealthy choices and having too many desserts.

Maybe the test is wrong? And it's just because i had that iced tea? When I asked my wife, she promptly explained that in a normal person, even after eating, the blood glucose reading doesn't increase much when having sugar. The fact that I have several high readings means my body has already given up and is no longer able to self-regulate blood glucose.

"But i lost weight!" my internal voice cried out. Guess what - that's one of the telltale signs. I had not achieved anything - losing weight actually confirmed it. Just from reading a little, I fit the description to the T.

I'll leave the "what is diabetes" dissertation for another post - I knew how serious it was. One of my most cherished friends has lost several toes and one lower leg because of diabetes. My best friend's dad has about lost his eyesight due to diabetes. Diabetes is called the silent killer, but it's right up there with cancer in the seriousness category.

I suddenly found myself in the priority list for death. The fact that I got it at this young age means my life expectancy is halved - or worse. My lifespan, previously limitless and undefined, now had a decreasing counter, marking minutes before diabetes will impair me or take my life.

... :p

I found myself with little options. Either be an idiot and ignore the facts, or take control of what I could control. I could choose to be a man and take the bull head on. I could also be lukewarm about it, say one thing but do another. I could lie to everyone, including myself, and act like God decided that this was going to be my cause of death and I was submitting to his will.

Oh Hell no. Not when I've worked this hard to try to guarantee my family's future. I will not leave my wife alone to deal with life on her own. I will not deprive my children of all the advice their dad could give them. I will not let my parents bury their child. I will not, so help me God, go quietly into the night. Not when Invictus is my favorite poem.

Once I decided, I didn't really consider keeping this quiet. My family for years had been noting the weight gain and had asked me in all sorts of manners to slow down and lose weight. I just didn't listen. So, I will listen now. I will comply with my doctor's orders. I will not feign ignorance or conveniently forget my condition.

I broke the news to my immediate family and godmother through Whatsapp and the reaction was ... not one of disbelief. It was sadness (they knew enough) but immediately encouragement. My godmother in particular told me something that resonated:

What's done is done - but with your intelligence and hard work I know you can overcome this!

This calmed me a bit. It had not occurred to me that this was just another problem, that while irreversible, had a definite modus operandi and well documented behaviour. All I needed was gathering data, help from my doctors and support from the people next to me - and the rest was up to me. I just needed to show a little grit - this was a problem that could be solved. I was not about to let it beat me if I could avoid it!

At that moment i took off the ghost of diabetes's mask and, staring at it in the eye, I told it I respected it but I wasn't afraid. It would take all of what I know, all the tools in the toolbox, and it won't be easy at first, but being healthy will be part of me.

I leave you with an article that covers my favorite athlete: