February 1st, 2012

pain report

Up with 'stina!!

So maybe a year and a half ago or so, a friend of mine got serious about his diet and radically changed things. The turnaround in his life (and size) was pretty remarkable, and I was very impressed. He credited a device called "Body Bugg", and shortly afterwards, I started looking into it and comparable devices.

There are maybe a half dozen such devices on the market. "Body Bugg", "Body Media", and "Fitbit are the three best known. I'm not entirely clear on how exactly they work, but they claim to track movement, body temperature and other measures to be able to get a really good look at energy (i.e. calorie) expenditure throughout the day. They all have some sort of web interface where you can log food intake. The first two are strapped to the upper arm, and the last one you can tuck away more discretely. There have been positive and negative aspects of each. Some require a membership to the websites to be able to track everything. The initial cash outlay can be anywhere from $99 to $250 depending on the model and the features you choose. Some seem to be more accurate than others. And the reviews have been all over the place.

So I decided to consult with a nutritionist instead. I started a program in October, and I'm just about at the half-way point. I use "Calorie Count.com's food log, and I monitor activity through a pedometer, my Nike+ running chip, and my heart rate monitor. My weight loss hasn't been as dramatic as it was five years ago, but it's been steady, and my food habits have changed drastically. I eat breakfast every morning. My portion control is a lot better, and I just have a lot more information about the food I eat.

On the activity side, though, it's been sporatic. I worked out like a fiend in June, sloughed off in July, worked out again in August and the first two weeks of September, and then slid off. Got back on the wagon in October, then got sick for three weeks. I did that awesome four week bootcamp at the gym in late November and early December. Followed by one of the best runs in recent memory. And then from December 15 to January 15, I only worked out a grand total of once. Since then, I've gotten back on the wagon, working out six times in the last two weeks and every day this week.

So I was super excited when I got a device in the mail yesterday.

Backing up.

In December, at Geek Night, a friend of ours was talking about a new device he'd read about by Jawbone, the maker of a lot of bluetooth devices, called UP. He was particularly interested in the sleep measurement of the device, but it seemed to have a lot of other features that were interesting, too. It's a bracelet that sort of resembles one of those Livestrong bracelets, but a but thicker in diameter. It interfaces with an iphone, ipod touch or ipad. (I don't think you can use it if you don't have one), and it's meant to be worn all the time. It basically tracks movement. From that it can give you information about steps, distance, calories burned, pace, intensity level and active vs inactive time. It also can track your sleep patterns through the movement: detects hours slept, time to fall asleep, light vs. deep sleep and sleep quality. There's a food part of the device, too. You take pictures of your meals and then evaluate how you feel a few hours afterwards. You can also set it up to give you a little shake if you haven't moved in awhile ("awhile" is defined by you).

Anyhow, it looked pretty cool, and I chatted over lunch about it with my mom. She thought it was an awesome gift for my dad for Christmas, and after looking into it, she went ahead and ordered it. The DAY (December 9) that she ordered the device, Jawbone announced that they were holding production because of some sort of flaw with the battery. They sent her a nice email explaining the issue, and she forwarded it to me. Included in the e-mail was this paragraph:
In the meantime, for those of you excited to begin experiencing UP now, we are creating a special testing community for Jawbone fans. Spots are limited, but given your early enthusiasm, we've reserved you a place. Testers will receive an UP band free of charge, provide feedback and help guide the direction of the product. To claim your spot in this group, please e-mail us at...

Though I wasn't the one that ordered the device, I emailed and asked to be in the testing group. And on January 7, I was registered as a tester. I have to fill out surveys every now and then, and I'm sure they're monitoring our data. They shipped the device last week and I got it last night.

So far, I've been wearing it for about 18 hours. I ordered the Medium, because my wrist is EXACTLY seven inches around, and I probably should have ordered the Large. I wear two bracelets on my right arm and my heart rate monitor/watch on my left. I decided to put it on the side of my heart rate monitor because it seemed to get in the way of the bracelets. I suspect that in a day or two, I won't even notice that it's there.

I put it on late last night, so I didn't really record much in the way of activity (though I did have a 10,000 step day per my pedometer). But the sleep recording was pretty impressive. I slept for 7 hours 32 minutes last night, going to bed at 11:28 and waking up at 7:39. It got a few tosses and turns in the middle of the night for 44 minutes of light sleep. It got the 5:00 am Celosa waking me up and then me peeing. It got the 6:00 Graham waking me up. And it got me waking up but staying in bed for a few minutes. I told it I generally want to wake up at 8:00, so at around 7:30, it started shaking my wrist. I spent 39 minutes awake in bed from the time I went to bed until I got up.

I went to the gym this morning, and it was pretty on par with the Nike+ chip in terms of miles run (2.47) and with the pedometer in terms of steps taken (4300). It breaks down the workout to vigorous (25:50), moderate (3:00), and light (15:02). It also tells me calories for the workout (476.5). It's a little ahead of my pedometer, which thinks I've gone 6171 steps today. But the 6,502 steps it's recorded includes the shower I took after the gym. I can't wear the pedometer in the shower. I also like it's little "Move around a little" reminder, which I've set to every 30 minutes. It's a little shake that's not too obtrusive similar to the "wake up" shake.

All in all, on Day 1, it seems like it's going to be quite useful. I just hope I can keep up.