eat, move, think, feel


gadgets and products

Day 12 #NHBPM: My Favorite App(s)

It’s a good thing that we get two “get out of jail free” days from NHBPM. It looks like I just took mine this weekend. I got SLAMMED, scheduled wise. On Saturday I drove four hours (ack!) for a Weight Watchers training (it was good, but more sitting! I paced a lot) and then four hours home.  I was FRIED when I got home. NO blogging Saturday.

Then, Sunday was filled with fun but time-eating social events: a clutterbusting gathering at a friend’s house (how great is that -a small group of us cleared out and organized a pantry, cupboard AND a big entry shelf/drawer thing) in the morning, then a very cool baby shower (books for baby! to build her library! I LOVE THIS IDEA) in the afternoon and then dinner and visit with Junior in the evening. That was my weekend. But no more slacking for me! I’m in it till the end.

Day 12 – Monday, Nov. 12

Call BS on something. What’s something that is just ridiculous? OR “My favorite health app / device / game is…” and review it

OK. I will admit I am not in the mood to “call BS” on anything because I’m just not in the mood for controversy right now. But I could definitely do that in a few cases. I’m going to take the easier route (and more positive!) of discussing my favorite health app/device(s).

Everyone knows I am a big fan of movement devices. I’m loving my Weight Watchers ActiveLink, which is pretty much a WW linked device that is the same as the DirectLife activity monitor. Very similar. They work great.

I was looking at my phone and trying to figure out which app(s) I use and like the most. I think the one I use the most (other than SleepTime, which I already wrote about) is RunKeeper. I’ve been using it a few  years now and anticipate I’ll be using it a lot more now that I am on RUN TEAM (YAYY!).

I love Runkeeper. I love that you can GPS your route, measure time and pace, sync your music and also have audio reminders at time and/or distance markers (every 5 or 10 minutes, every half or quarter mile). It keeps me going to know that I am running an X minute mile. I love being able to link it to FB and Twitter. It’s a great and motivating app and I know I’m going to be using it a lot more.

So that was Day 12! Almost halfway through the month!!

What’s Sleep Got To Do With It?

I haven’t been a person who (knock wood) who has had a lot of trouble with sleep. I LOVE sleep and I haven’t generally had much trouble falling or staying asleep. Getting up has been another story.

Anyway- recently the good folks at WeGoHealth invited me to try out a couple of health related apps. I am, as many of you know, a real fan of gadgets and gizmos when it comes to monitoring my health and/or fitness. So I jumped at the chance. Several of the manufacturers and inventors were going to be at the Body 2.0 fair in San Francisco so I wanted to try them out before meeting them in person.

One of the apps that really caught my attention was an iPhone app called SleepTime. The idea is that you put the phone near your pillow, then the app monitors your deep sleep, light sleep and awake times. The deep (REM) sleep is really necessary for health. It’s when all the good renewal happens. BUT if you wake up during a REM period, it can be very disorienting and disruptive.

SleepTime keeps track of your various wake/sleep states, and makes it a goal of waking you up only from light sleep. So if, say, you want to get up at 7:00am, it will track your sleep and wake you up during your lightest phase between 6:30 and 7:00. I learned the hard way that it is MUCH better to get up at 6:30 during light sleep, than it is to wake up at 6:55 from REM sleep.

Pretty much every night for the past week, I’ve woken up (thanks to SleepTime) during light sleep. I’ve been exercising and eating well, and feeling alert and energetic. But one night I set my “window” too narrowly (I designated a 10 minute rather than a 30 minute window). The app did not have any choice but to wake me up during REM. WELL…

I woke up all emotionally jangled. I’d been in the depths of some disturbing, upsetting dream. I couldn’t fully “wake up” no matter how much coffee I had. I had had a full 8 hours so I should have felt rested, but I didn’t. In fact, I felt like crap all day. I made some truly horrible food choices, things I had not eaten in months/years. I chose not to exercise because I was just too exhausted. In fact, it was a total bust of a day until I went to bed again that night. What a wreck.

I was amazed to wake up from light sleep the next morning and feel 10000% better. That next day I made great food choices and worked out and generally felt awesome. It was like (no pun intended) night and day. I’m not kidding!

We all know that sleep deprivation – not enough sleep – can lead to stress, high blood pressure and weight gain from increased cortisol (stress hormone). I never thought I had an “issue” with sleep because I knew I slept “enough.” But it’s about quality, not just quantity.

I’ve been in touch with the folks at Azumio, Inc (who make the app). They also make some other nifty health apps called Instant Heart Rate, Stress Check and Stress Doctor (biofeedback to decrease stress – cool huh?). I will be reviewing those later on. Anyway, these apps are all free. I encourage you to download them and try them out. People who leave comments here after trying one of the free apps are eligible to get a code for an updated, more nifty version. Give them a try!


Philips Vs. FitBit: The Activity Monitor Showdown

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.


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?

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