Revisiting my Fitbit Blaze experience

Yesterday involved a late night of television watching. That holds true for a large portion of the nation. It seemed like a good day to change my routines. I was motivated by a lack of sleep and some very real emotion about the election. Today I returned to walking on my treadmill. I knocked out 5,000 steps on that treadmill. Not only does that mark a healthy return to my exercise routine, but also it marks the return of my Fitbit to my daily activities. That return to using a Fitbit reminded me just how much more I wanted from the Fitbit Blaze. I’m not sure why Fitbit has kept the Blaze so spartan in terms of features. It handles showing calendar notices, calls, and texts, but does not do much else outside of tracking basic fitness data. The Fitbit Blaze does provide heart rate tracking, sleep logging, and step counts. That data helps me ensure that I’m getting enough sleep each night and logging at least 10,000 steps a day. With a good routine those things could happen organically, but it is easier to track with good historical data.

Thoughts on my Fitbit Blaze smart fitness watch

Saturday, at the end of the day I took off my Fitbit Blaze smart fitness watch. Nothing compelled me to put it back on this weekend. Maybe it is time to return to wearing my Citizen watch. The promise of smartwatches was certainly compelling. It was a narrative that promised the ability to do so many things. I would probably wear a fairly large watch to forgo having to carry a phone. We will see how long it takes before the Fitbit Blaze returns to my daily routine.

Adventure Wednesday

My new Fitbit Surge personal fitness tracker has been working well. It is much easier to charge than the Fitbit Flex. The heartrate data is really helping me understand my exercise routine. It has been interesting to watch my heartrate changes throughout the day. I’m still getting used to the size of the watch, but things seem to be working out.

The most adventurous thing that happened today was getting a glass of cranberry juice. Apparently, it was really only 27% cranberry juice. I’m guessing the rest was mostly water and sugar. It was good. I enjoyed it.

At some point in the not so distant future, I will be able to sit down at my desk and my monitor, keyboard, and mouse will be controlled by my smartphone. A mobile phone should be able to wirelessly drive my desktop technology. Mobile phones are already more powerful than many generations of computers. I’m seriously wondering about using a cell phone as a PC replacement. Some people really seem to think that a smartphone could be the computer of the future.

One of those days

It was one of those days. The kind of day where you brew two cups of coffee back to back from the same K-Cup. One cup is always inherently stronger than the other. I’m not sure exactly when the back to back brew started. It only happens about once a week. A massive pile of work to get done created the necessity of starting the day off on the right track.

My Keurig is really starting to fail. In a couple of months, I will probably be buying a new Keurig 2.0 coffee maker. We have had the current one for a long time and have been very happy with it.

My new treadmill has been working well enough. This might be the week that I finally use the new treadmill belt lubricant that arrived a couple weeks ago. Treadmill maintenance will be part of my monthly routine.

I’m getting used to watching YouTube while I exercise. Over the years, YouTube has really started to house a tremendous amount of content. I have been watching a ton of Leo Laporte, Tom Merritt, and Patrick Norton programming. TekThing is a new show that has shown some real progress.

My Initial Fitbit Surge Review

At the end of last week, my brand new Fitbit Surge arrived in a nondescript USPS delivered box. The packaging was a little tight and almost hard to open. It seemed like the watch was forced into a box designed to fit on store shelves. The tagline on the box called it the, “Fitness Super Watch.” Getting the device setup took about 10 minutes. The process was pretty straight forward. I removed the watch from the box, read the instructions, plugged the device into my computer via a very custom USB cable, and completed an update. After the update was complete, the device was ready to pair to my Fitbit account. My Fitbit Flex was removed from my account and the Fitbit Surge was added. I was wearing the Fitbit Surge and watching my heartrate in about 10 minutes of setup time.

Here are my initial thoughts after 2 days of using the device:

  • I’m over 200 lbs and the large version of the watch looks big on my wrist. It is by far bigger than any of the Citizen watches I own.
  • Based on interacting with other smartwatches, I expected to be able to do more things from the touchscreen. It pretty much only provides fitness data.
  • The software development team should update the device to show some information about charging when it is plugged in via USB. Great engineers could probably have it display how many minutes of charging are left.
Fitbit Surge vs. Fitbit Flex on my desk
Fitbit Surge vs. Fitbit Flex on my desk


On diet and exercise planning

The results are in. My enhanced 90 day exercise and diet plan appears to have worked. That was greatest and most welcome news of the year.

Changing routines and habits takes time and energy. Making wholesale changes to diet and exercise requires a certain degree of commitment. They have to be changes that are sustainable. My motivation to take action was very real. I have always had access to gym equipment and can reasonably control my menu choices. The changes had to happen. They did happen. Now the question is about whether or not they will be sustainable. Consult a trained medical professional you trust when building a major exercise and diet plan change. I talked to my doctor before making these changes.

Here are the steps I took:

Step 1: Stop drinking soda (diet or regular), energy drinks, or eating candy. This was a major change to my diet. I have consumed several regular or diet soda beverages every day for years. The hardest part of the change was ordering water at restaurants and avoiding fast food. This change is pretty easy to start implementing. For me this was the line in the sand that started me down the path toward being healthier. I have even stopped carrying a pack of emergency skittles or gummy bears in my pocket. I eat a square of very dark chocolate (high cocoa) when absolutely necessary.

Step 2: Resolve to drink coffee (black), green tea, and water. Some people can go without caffeine. I’m not one of those people. At a minimum, I have one cup of coffee per day. I purchased two different water bottles. A little 400 ml that I use for traveling and a 1000 ml bottle that sits on my desk at home. Drinking enough water was not a priority for me over the last few years. I have made an effort to drink the right amount of water throughout the day and when traveling.

Step 3: Start walking 30 to 60 minutes per day. My initial attempts to get going on a treadmill involved walking at about 2.5 miles per hour. Even that much training was enough to raise my heartrate. I have gradually moved up to walking at about 3.7 to 4.0 miles per hour. This year a treadmill has been setup in my basement. That addition to my workout arsenal should help ensure that no barrios exist to walking a few minutes a day.

Step 4: Reduce and manage meal portion sizes to include the right amount of the right things. This step was the most challenging. Meal planning has never really been on my radar. I’m not a dietitian or a food science expert. At the start of this plan, I knew to avoid things that were deep friend and that eating more vegetables was probably a good idea. I ended up attending a class on what to eat and how to manage my portions. Some things can be done to remove some of the complexity. I elected to eat granola and Greek yogurt for breakfast every day. I mix things up by having whole wheat pancakes every once in a while, but for the most part my breakfast routine is very well established. Making that decision ensured that 1/3 of my meals would be on track. When I’m working from home it is easy to grab a vegetarian or vegan Amy’s meal from the deep freezer. Traveling always presents challenging food choices. Dinner choices have revolved around good portion sizes and trying to eat more vegetables.

Step 5: Stop eating random and unhealthy snacks. I have stopped snacking all together. I eat appropriate portions for my meals and avoid any other consumption of calories. Making this change was super difficult at first, but was possible. My snack choices were never very well balanced or nutritious. My travel bag does include a couple protein bars and a package of nuts just in case a meal gets delayed. Chips and salsa are one of my favorite snacks. I have been actively trying to avoid sitting at my desk and eating.

Those five steps have worked for me. That does not mean they will work for you.

Diet soda moratorium

Effective immediately I’m giving up the consumption of diet soda. The diet soda moratorium will be in place indefinitely. My new plan involves switching to coffee in the morning and green tea in the afternoon. Ultimately, the science on diet soda seems to be unclear at this time. Given that degree of uncertainty, a strict moratorium seems justifiable. I do not need to consume diet soda.

12/10 updates

6:55 AM 12 oz cup of coffee
7:20 AM 24 oz cup of filtered water
10:15 AM 12 oz cup of coffee
10:30 AM 24 oz cup of filtered water
1:14 PM 12 oz of green tea
6:00 PM 12 oz cup of coffee

No diet soda or regular soda was consumed on 12/10.

Back at the gym

Yeah, I fell off the workout wagon. My routine changed. A new job happened. I did not respond well to the change. Every hotel I stayed at had a gym. I could have stayed on track. Today I broke that unhealthy cycle and got on the treadmill.

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Almost July

I’m not sure how it happened, but summer is here. Winter is just a memory at this point. In just about half a month the mud run will occur. Yeah — a 5k mud run. Training for the mud run has been going well enough. Even James seems to be training now. The team might just make it. My weekday morning workout plan has been effective. Apparently, the key is leaving the house with my gym clothes on. That pretty much locks me into the cycle. My workout routine is no secret. The cycle is simple: running, rowing, and weights. People have asked me why I don’t run outdoors now that the weather is nicer. The routine has to remain the same. Running outdoors just will not work. I need a combination of weights and cardiovascular work.

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