Fitbit Charge HR First Impressions

2015-05-22 16.39.25So I finally caved and ordered a FitBit Charge HR because REI was having a deal, and I was already planning on upgrading anyway.  There were only a couple things I was hesitating about, first I had only just bought my FitBit Flex in September, so upgrading so quickly felt like a waste of money.  Though to be honest, I really wanted a heart rate monitor with my fitness tracker in the first place, and almost went with a different brand to try to get that function but then it turned out that none of the ones on the market at the time really offered it.

I also wanted to see if they would release any new band colors because unlike the Flex, the Charge HR isn’t able to be switched out to have a new color with the same tracker.  If I couldn’t switch the band color, I really, really wanted to get my Charge HR in red.

But it’s been around six months since they announced the new products and no new colors are on the horizon.  I’ve seen the announcements about the slate and tangerine wristbands, but I’ve not known anybody who actually physically has those, and in the end black is the better choice for me anyway if I can’t have red.

The other reason I wanted to wait six months was because I wanted to make sure they’d gotten all the kinks out.  One of my co-workers got a Charge HR a few months ago, and I’ve been asking her about her experience and what her device does, and there have been some really glowing reviews lately so I figured that coupled with the sale meant it was time.

I’ve only been wearing the Charge HR for a few days so far, but I’m pretty happy with it.  It’s got all the things I like about my Flex but a lot of extras. I love having a watch feature, I’ve missed knowing what time it was.  And since I have a heart condition and generally like to have a heart rate monitor handy, this is perfect for me.  Plus no more math to figure out how many dots equals how much towards my goal.

There’s a few things I’m still getting used to so far.  First, figuring out how to wear it.  How tight should it be, how far up my arm, all that stuff.  It takes a bit more getting used to than I expected.  I read everything in their materials about the topic, but I’m still not sure if I’m doing it right.  Maybe I should search out some user YouTube videos.

A second concern is the sleep tracking.  I’ve had a bit of trouble with it’s automatic sleep tracking features, but they are possibly related to ongoing issues with the dashboard instead of the tracker itself.  Usually my app and my web dashboard don’t say any sleep is logged, but when I go to manually enter it, it’s magically appeared.  This morning, it just had no sleep log at all and it decided I was asleep most of the morning after I got up (it marked me as awake, just also as a sleep log).  I never minded needing to put the Flex in sleep mode, and it’s not really that much of a big deal to manually enter when I went to bed and got up, but it seems like maybe if it’s supposed to be a major feature it should be a bit more functional.  Maybe it’ll work the kinks out over time.

The last thing is a bit superficial and cosmetic, but the band isn’t perfect. The waffle pattern on the plastic looks great, but it seems to collect dust and dirt in a way and is hard to keep always looking nice.  It also is a type of plastic that really makes you sweat more underneath it, and in the muggy humidity of Virginia’s summer I don’t need help with that. I wish they offered some sort of liner band made of moisture wicking fabric to help offset the issue, because sweat interferes with the heart rate tracker so it loses functionality simply because of the material in the band.

In general, I’m really happy with my upgrade.  I love testing the new features and figuring out how it works, I think my sleep tracking, once I make sure it’s got the right times listed, is more accurate than before.  I wish it did a few more things, but no tracker is going to be perfect.

I’ll have a stronger opinion later, but I’d say if you have a Flex and love it, stick with it for now.  But if you’re joining the world of FitBit, I’d go for the Charge HR of what they’re currently offering.

Posted in FitBit, gear.

Gear acquired

440Thanks to REI’s anniversary sale, I’ve now ordered the first of some of my big ticket items for this experiment, a tent.

I finally decided to buy a membership to REI a few months ago after I realized that it’s only a one time fee, and not something where you have to renew the card every year, which makes it by far one of the best deals out there for membership cards.

So this tent is normally $129.99, but thanks to the sale and a 20% off coupon for members, we picked it up for only $71.73.  Really not a bad price for a three man tent.

I also grabbed some more food to try out, a new camp chair that should be more comfortable when we’re car camping, and I’m upgrading to the Fitbit Charge HR, which I’ll review once it comes in and I’ve had a chance to use it.  I’m looking forward to it.

Posted in gear.

Progress is slow, but that’s the point

When I started this plan to eventually do a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to just do it overnight.

Then I got sidetracked with knee pain, with surgery, and a million other things.

So part of me is kind of sad that I have so little to show for this effort.  But lately I really have been getting better.  It’s slow, but it’s happening.  Since I got my FitBit a few months ago, I’ve gone from a very low goal of 5,000 steps a day to now doing 7,000 a day.  And I have hit my goal every single day.  Sometimes more easily than others.

I can walk more easily in bad weather, and I can convince myself more easily that I can manage something because I know I’ve managed to walk the day before and the day before.  Two weeks ago, we walked a four mile round trip to a nearby lake and then back home.  We did this a few years back, to walk to see the fireworks over the lake, and then I found it completely exhausting.  I was very sore, and generally thought the trip was way too much.  This time around, it was tiring but mostly because it was really hot and I didn’t appreciate the sun on my face the whole time.  The walking itself wasn’t too bad, and my feet weren’t numb or swollen afterwards.

So, progress.

Now to just try to keep up the habit of updating this blog!

Posted in Uncategorized.

Classes at REI

152For a long while I’ve been meaning to sign up for a class or two at REI, and when they opened up a store closer to me in Tyson’s Corner I started paying more attention to the schedule.

I was finally able to find some time to hit up their Camping Basics class last week.  The class was fun, though it was focused more on “car camping” or actually going to a site and staying for a while.  Granted, this isn’t really what I’ll be doing when I am hiking but it still gave me a good base of the kind of gear I’ll need.

As a bonus, my best friend came with me and now we’re planning to do some car camping, but outfit about half our gear as hiking/backpacking stuff and the other half (tent, stove) as car camping gear.  Then I’ll be able to start getting some experience with camping in less difficult circumstances than a long hike.  But we are thinking we won’t start that until spring.  Not really keen on going out in the winter as a first step.

The class was great, and the REI in Tyson’s is quite nice, so I’ll definitely be going back there, probably for a backpacking for beginners class.

Posted in classes.

Getting geared up

One of the tricks with starting to walk more regularly is that I’m starting to find all the gaps and problems in my wardrobe.  In general, I’m not much of a clothes person and there are a lot of reasons for that.  But I just don’t really own a huge selection of things in the first place.

Which became a problem kind of quickly.  People like to say that walking around is an exercise anybody can do for free.  That’s technically true, but I found out really quickly how miserable it can be.  I started this thing (this time around anyway) at the start of September, which is when it’s still quite hot in this area.  But there’s also starting to be hints of how bad winter is going to get.

Which means I figured out fast that I needed clothes that helped me cool off in the heat, keep warm in the winter, and stay dry when it starts raining.  And basically all I had were t-shirts and some ratty old tennis shoes I’ve owned for three years.

51pwfCn25jL._SL1500_When I first decided that I needed to get some actual athletic clothes, I hit all the online shopping places I usually go to when I need something new. Because the trick is, as a plus size woman, there’s almost nowhere that I can shop in person and actually find quality clothes that fit.

But then I discovered that none of my normal online stores carried active wear, or they didn’t carry it past a size 18 or so.  It was baffling to me, exactly what in the world are larger women supposed to do when they want to start getting fit?  I suppose the answer is “be uncomfortable until society deems them fit to rejoin them” or something.

Then I decided to actually go to the mall and try some stuff on and I got a big shock – actual athletic clothing manufacterers make clothes with normal sizing.  As in, not vanity sizing, and not the stupid stuff I’ve gotten used to.  Once I actually started trying on clothes at an Under Armour store, I realized that I could actually fit their stuff.

Of course, that made me go a little overboard, because finding a high quality brand that had stuff in my size is a bit of a shock.  But now I’ve started building up a nice wardrobe of a variety of styles and layers for different kinds of weather.  I also managed to snag some really good deals at the REI Outlet website.

It’s surprising how much better walking has gotten now that I have some proper shirts, and even more so that I have good socks.  Now to just get some new shoes to go with it, which is going to be painful because a good pair of walking shoes is really expensive, but I know my feet will thank me for it.

Posted in gear.

Joining FitBit

So, I’d basically stalled out, almost entirely.  If you look back over my blog, it’s just been a bit of a mess for the last year or so.

But then I read this book, and I won’t link to it or name it because I actually thought it was kind of a terrible book.  It was about habits, and it was actually kind of poorly written and full of bad science (or badly explained science).

The thing is though, it made me remember a few things that are important about fitness:

-I’m a sucker for anything that involves tracking, filling progress bars, and earning even meaningless rewards like “badges.”

-The social aspect of fitness and health can’t be overlooked.  It’s more than just a vague plan to sometimes walk with a friend (which is good) but having a person really on your side who is both encouraging and HELPING and actively beside you.

So I decided that in order to meet those two goals, I’d make an investment:

My FitBit Flex

My FitBit Flex

My best friend had a FitBit Flex and she liked it, so I finally caved and got one of my own. That was just under a month ago, and it’s been a big change since then. I have to say, that $100 has had the biggest impact on my health and wellness of any I’ve spent.

First thing I did was lower all of the default goals. I put in that I wanted to walk one mile a day, 5,000 steps, and only do 15 active minutes. That probably seems low to some people, but I was in a pretty bad spot so I wanted to start slow and build myself up.

Since then, I’ve met my step goal every single day. I figure at the end of October I’ll revisit all the goals and look at how I’ve done and if I need to increase them to make it a challenge. But for now, I’m just focused on meeting my goals. I did increase my distance goal, because 5,000 steps is over two miles, so I figured I may as well put that at two.

The social part also definitely helps, adding a few friends on the FitBit website has motivated me to stay at least midway on the leaderboard (I’ll never be first, my friends are too active!) and just to keep going because people who will motivate me can see my progress.  If I slacked off, they’d know, and they’re good friends so they’d say something.

So overall, I highly recommend FitBit, I love their dashboard.  It’s interface is very user friendly and simple, plus it looks nice.  If you’re having trouble getting yourself off the couch or away from the computer, there’s just something about wanting to fill that little light bar and have it buzz to tell you that you’re done.

I’ll start updating this more again now that I’m actually getting out.  But yeah, we’re back on plan for walking a set amount each day and then slowly increasing, with the help of some technology.

Feel free to friend me on FitBit!

Posted in FitBit.

Hiatus Explained

So I’ve still got this plan and I still want to do it, but basically my legs and knees have been giving me nothing but trouble over the last few months, and I’m just not in good shape.  So I’ve not really had a ton to say, other than “ow.”  Hoping to have more soon, who knows.  Just trying to take baby steps.

Posted in knees.

What am I doing?

I need to get remotivated for this project.  I need to be excited about it again, and get up and move and go places and walk around.

But today everything is covered in snow.  Hm…

At the least I’m going to get back to posting.  Once a week, keep me to it.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Get Moving Challenge!

So, yesterday marked the first day of the Get Moving Challenge. The first day was relatively simple, just based around scheduling your workout.

I did that, planning to alternate walks and getting back into doing my physical therapy exercises from my knee surgery. Hopefully I can manage to do a little bit each day. The suggestions mentioned maybe not starting so big, but I’m trying very hard to form habits right now, and I don’t think twice a week is enough to form a habit.

Today’s goal is to work with a fitness video and routine that they provide. I haven’t done it yet, but it looks pretty good. Hopefully I’ll be able to do all the exercises with the pain in my knees. Plus I’m planning on taking a walk today as well.

They don’t let you embed their videos (which is a shame, that would be a much better way for them to get the word out and get their logo in front of people without having to do their own advertising) but you can visit the second day of the challenge here.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tagged with , , , .

A new route

A few months ago, my best friend moved into a temporary apartment while she was looking for a new place.  My husband has been bugging me since then to take a walk to visit her instead of driving because he really likes the path that goes in that direction.

We finally went last week, and it really was worth it.  It reminded me of why I like living in this particular small neighborhood that I live in, because there were several spots where you could only just see the houses or barely hear the cars from the path, so it really felt like you were in the woods.  And there was this lovely little bridge over a small creek in the middle of nowhere, the kind of place where it would be wonderful to just set up a camp chair and hang out for a while.

The last part of the trail was kind of difficult though, because there was a very steep hill that was followed by a very long but slight slope.  So I ran out of breath and couldn’t catch back up for a while.

I’m not entirely sure if this particular hike was the reason that my knee is acting up again.  It’s doing some stranger things than before, so I’m trying to do light duty for a few days to make it feel better.  The problems with my knees are making me more upset every time, because if anything derails this entire plan (other than my own problems with concentration/motivation) it’s going to be my knees.  And that’s super discouraging.

But the walk itself did remind me of exactly why I want to do this, so that was a plus.

Posted in blog. Tagged with , , .