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Looking Back, Looking Forward December 29, 2011

I’d say that 2011 was overall very positive for me, health and activity-wise. Here’s a peek at what went on last year:

January:

first snowshoe adventure, New Mexico
2nd year as Weight Watchers leader
2nd “Healthaversary” Party

February:

I took my first of two trips to Baltimore last year!

running in the snow
meeting the awesome Roni for the first time!

March:

The “Fight for Air” Stairclimb with Sabrina
View from the top: 110 flights up!
Oakland Running Festival Twilight 5k THE NEXT DAY!

That was quite a weekend.

featured in story in Oakland Trib about running after injuries

April:

Trip to London (here on Abbey Road)
and Paris (Notre Dame)
Good thing we walked a lot because typical breakfast = croissants and cheese

May:

My first Bay to Breakers. CRAZY!

Yeah, people run naked. Why??

100th Anniversary medal was pretty nice

Major highlight of 2011: Fitbloggin!

MizFitOnline herself! I love Carla.

Best. Roomies. Ever.

Thank you Roni!!

June:

Nia dance party for my friend Audrey's Bday

July:

NorCal Fitbloggin' Local Meetup

of course there was tons of awesome food

signed up for Team in Training to do my first triathlon!

met the best training buddy EVER

August:

started riding a bike after 20 years

started swimming after 18 years

September:

A few bumps and bruises

Learned how to put on a wetsuit

Look, Ma! No hand!

October:

Dealing with the mental game

"Stories of the Body" Retreat at Santa Sabina

giving the course a test run

practice "mini tri" with paper medal

November:

Featured story in local paper

Holy moley, I did it.

Joined the TNT Hike/Snowshoe Team

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot with WW folks

December:

Las Vegas Santa Claus 5k!

Looking back, I have to say I feel good about it. That was quite a year. I kept pushing myself and finding new and different things to do. I think that’s the name of the game. Keep going. Keep improving and challenging.

What’s in store for 2012? I’m starting out with a New Year’s Day 10k run. Then I’m doing the TinkerBell Half Marathon in Disneyland with my two daughters (fun!) on January 29th.  February 5th is the TNT Snowshoe Hike in Yosemite (prettty!) and then I’m diving into a new season of triathlon training, this time as a mentor. I can’t wait to get back to training again!! Would you like to be on my team and become a triathlete in 2012? Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!!

What did you do in 2011 for health and fitness’ sake? What are your plans for 2012? I want to know!!

 

Philips Vs. FitBit: The Activity Monitor Showdown

Filed under: gadgets and products,Uncategorized — Susan @ 2:03 am

I’ve been using a Philips DirectLife Activity Monitor for over two years now, and I pretty much have loved it. But I recently got intrigued by the FitBit, and I decided to give it a spin to compare the two. I think that activity monitors are really, really useful tools for health and fitness. I want to be able to share one of these gadgets with future clients, and I wanted to choose the best one. I once used a BodyBugg but I felt like it was too complicated, offered almost too much (kinda like Microsoft Word) and I hated the feel of having an elastic cuff around my arm all the time. Like having my blood pressure taken. So I switched to the simpler DirectLife and it’s been working well for a few years now.

Well. It’s a tough choice! Both the DirectLife and FitBit have some distinct pros and cons.

The FitBit arrived a few days after I ordered it and I was very excited to try it out. It has some additional features that the Philips Directlife Activity Monitor doesn’t have, like estimating flights of stairs climbed and sleep quality. I thought that was kind of cool, since there have been many studies linking quality of sleep with weight loss.

But after 2 days, my FitBit died. It just stopped doing its cool things no matter how many times I re-installed the software, stuck it with a paper clip to reset it and contacted Customer Service. All of which were time consuming and a pain in the butt. Then I got a new one. Which took over a week to arrive, which was frustrating. I had 2 days of activity tracked and I hated having that hiatus in between. Then I almost killed the new one by putting it in the washing machine. It didn’t work for many days but then somehow it revived (dried out?).

So here’s the rundown. I LOVE many elements of the FitBit, but for me, the one major drawback is that it is not waterproof. I had no idea how important a feature this was, until I didn’t have it anymore.

Totally waterproof!

This is the deal. I wear my DirectLife all day, all night, every day, 24/7. I never take it off except to charge and sync it. I wear it on a chain around my neck and unless I’m going to some super-fancy affair (in which case I stick it in my bra), that’s wear it stays. I don’t ever think about it. I wear it in the shower. I wear it in the pool. I wore it during my triathlon. I NEVER TAKE IT OFF.

Maybe I’m just too clueless and lazy for a FitBit. I clip it on my clothing. And then when I take that piece of clothing off, I often totally forget about the Fitbit. And many hours of activity are lost. Sometimes it ends up in the washing machine. This is NOT GOOD. Once I clipped it on my sports bra. But then I washed it. Bad bad bad.

I really, really liked that the FitBit would show its data in real time, and that I didn’t have to connect it to the computer to see my stats. I loved that it measured steps, miles, calories, flights of stairs. SO COOL.

real time data! Nifty!

So to recap:

Philips DirectLife:

Pros: easy to use, great individual coaching, clear data online, waterproof, durable

Cons: only tracks “movement” and not individual elements like steps, stairs, etc.

FitBit:

Pros: easy to use, clear data online, can see data in real-time, has various data points (steps, mileage, calories, sleep, stairs)

Cons: easily damaged (?), delicate, customer service takes FOREVER, not waterproof, must transfer from clothing to clothing, no coaching

They both cost about the same ($100, give or take a few bucks). For now, I’m going to continue using both, but for my personal use I think I’m probably going to stick with the DirectLife. It’s a no-brainer for no brains like me. Also, I just remembered the amazing personal coaching that DL offers. It’s a live person who emails you especially when it looks like you’re slacking off. They support, encourage and trouble shoot.

The customer service at FitBit was maddening. Basically you send them an email. It takes 24 hours average for them to respond with some suggestions. Then if the suggestion doesn’t work, you have to send ANOTHER email, more time elapses, and UGH. There’s no way to talk to a “live” person either by phone or online and get real-time support. Which I think is a major terrible drawback.  I like to be able to try something, with the person RIGHT THERE, and then I say, “yeah, that worked! thanks!” or “that didn’t work, now what?” and I can get it taken care of right then instead of waiting two days for another fruitless email exchange.

I’ve heard of another gadget – Jack something? something Jack? which I might try. Whichever one I get is going to end up with a heck of a lot of business from me (I’m incorporating one of them into my developing business), and I want to get it right.

Have you used one of these activity monitors, or another one? Which one do you like and why?

 

I’m Ba-ackkkk! December 26, 2011

Wow, I did not mean for this hiatus to take this long. I didn’t mean to take a hiatus at all, but it just happened – due to holiday overwhelm, work work work, a little laziness, and little funk. All of that together means a very long gap since my last blog post. I’ve missed blogging! But I just haven’t felt like I’ve had even a minute to get my thoughts together, let alone post. So this is going to be a catch-up post of all that’s happened since I wrote last.

When we were last together (virtually), I had just started hiking with the TNT Hike Team. I’m still on the team! and since then I’ve done some amazing and beautiful hikes around the Bay Area, all on trails I’ve never hiked on before. Which is pretty amazing, considering they are all within an hour drive of my house. Most of the hikes have been in the 3-4 hour range, which is pretty substantial.

Nature Appreciation Moment

Nature appreciation moment

Sunol Wilderness: breathtaking!

lunch break at Rodeo Beach hike

me and buddy Jon at Rodeo Beach

Can you see the Pacific Ocean? Wooo!

Inspiration Point hike

I did a couple of goofy events, including the Weight Watchers Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot (my third in a row). It was POURING rain that morning but it felt good to get out and do a wet little 5k walk with some other leaders and members.

trotting turkeys

Another thing I did was go to Las Vegas over the first weekend in December. I’d originally booked that weekend for the Las Vegas Marathon, but at the time I hadn’t known I was going to do the triathlon. I knew I wasn’t ready to do a half marathon quite so soon. But I went for a fun weekend anyway and ended up participating in the Great Santa Claus 5k, which beat the Guinness World Record for the most running Santas in one place! Ten thousand Santa Clauses was pretty surreal and hilarious (and very Vegas). The Santa suit (including beard) was included in the registration fee. It wasn’t my best run by far, but I did finish and it was a great way to get back into it. Sort of. Ha.

Getting suited upTa-daa! Ho ho ho!

Wow, that's a lotta Santas!

Greatest cheerleader ever

Run, Santas, Run!

Even though I wasn’t running the Las Vegas Half, I knew a lot of people who were, so it was the first time I went out and cheered for a marathon. That was an amazing experience. I made a sign and stood out in front of our hotel. There was a water station so I immediately got to work passing out cups of water. The crazy thing is that it emptied out in less than an hour. That was rather unimpressive. Having to tell people, “One more mile to water!” Ugh. I also heard some nasty rumors about many many people puking after the race, and that the water we’d been handing out had come from fire hydrants. I hate to think that was true.

Sadly empty water stop

I got to meet the fantastic Paola who started running with Team in Training in LA this year. She’s got the bug! She’s hooked! I got to see her both coming and going, and when she came back around on her return loop, I got to walk with her towards the finish. It was great to finally meet her after being blog/Twitter buddies for so long. I was carrying my favorite “If your feet hurt, it’s because you are kicking butt!” sign. I have to admit, after seeing all the cold runners out there in the dark (it was the first nighttime marathon) I was kinda glad I hadn’t signed up myself. Kudos to all those who finished!!

Did I mention it was FREEZING?

The other thing that happened is that I was officially invited to become a mentor for the Summer TNT Triathlon Team! Me and Lily! YESSSS! We are so excited. My awesome mentor from last season, Annika, is now going to be one of the training coaches (and she will ROCK it). The team is going to be training simultaneously for the Wildflower Tri (which sounds hecka hard to me, very hilly!) and also the South Maui Triathlon (YES). I think my plan is going to be to do the Wildflower Sprint Tri in May, as well as cheer on all my teammates for the Olympic, and then do the Olympic Tri in Maui. Good plan? I think so. I am so pumped!!! And I really do feel like I need an Olympic triathlon do-over. Doing the Marin County Tri was an incredible experience, but I learned a LOT and I am ready to put that learning to the test. Plus I am so, so, so ready to train with the team again. I am ready and excited to be a mentor. We will have a new coach this time, who sounds scary. “He’s intense.” More intense than Haakon? OMG!

Our tri team had a little reunion/holiday party a few weeks ago and it was so awesome to see everyone again, tacky sweaters and all. I miss them!

Go Team Holiday Sweaters!

Lily with our team honoree, Izzy Faith!

Coach Haakon and Vince both have impeccable taste.

These weeks since the triathlon have convinced me that I really do need a team or group of some kind to keep me going. I’ve had some workouts, but they have been few, far between and wimpy. I give up way too soon when I’m alone. I have a hard time starting and a tough time going if I feel the slightest ache or twinge.

Today I tried out a new group: the local WOW team. I met them through Coach Michelle and they’re really cool – about helping women to be fit, mostly through running and walking, for their whole lives. I like their philosophy a lot. Today I met up for a group run. There were about 15 women there at the Berkeley Marina (foggy but pretty). Anyway, the plan was to run for an hour. We started with a 5 minute walk to warmup, then people were going to run 30 minutes out and back. When people started running, I immediately had this thought “I’ll just walk” but then I remembered that I’m allegedly doing a half marathon in a month. I started running too and one woman just happened to be at exactly my pace. How awesome is that! We ran together the whole way and it was really pleasant and distracting. For the first couple miles my feet were SCREAMING at me and I know that if I’d been alone, I would have just plain quit. But I noticed the second mile, they were hurting less and by the third mile they felt just fine. We ran just a hair under 5 miles at a pace I hadn’t run in many months. I was so excited and felt so good when I finished, that I came home and signed up for a New Year’s Day 10k. (wanna come with me?) Yay! I’m ba-ack!!!

 

 
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