Categories
Life Technology

Step-Focused Life

I came to a realization recently – ironically while walking my dog – that ever since I got my first FitBit a few years back, I’ve been leading a very step-focused life.  And if I’m being honest with myself, this is why my creative drive has taken a steep dive these last 4-5 years.  Let me explain.   

The FitBit – and by extension, most health-focused smart watches (such as my Gear S3 or Samsung’s latest offerings in the Galaxy Watch / Galaxy Watch Active) – have as their main feature a step count.  They’ve branched out to include heart rate monitoring and other fun stuff, but the main draw is that these are smart devices that track your steps in a better way than those simple pedometers.   

At the basic level, most of these devices try to encourage you to reach 10,000 steps (even though that’s an arbitrary number and there are probably better numbers to reach; but that’s not important right now) every day.  On top of that, in both the FitBit and Samsung software ecosystems at least, there are communities where you can add friends and join challenges (most of the time the challenges are to earn the most steps, but there are other kinds as well).  I would say that the goal is to get the wearers more active in general.   

This is overall great for me; I do feel motivated to move more and be more active.  I wouldn’t say that I was a complete couch potato prior to putting on a FitBit, but this is the point I’m getting at; I’ve found that my main driving force every day seems to be “put the watch on to make sure I capture all my steps – I need to get my steps!”  This extends to make it important enough to wear my watch at night.  Tracking sleep is useful, sure, but the truth is I’m more worried about catching those steps between the bed and the bathroom in the middle of the night.   

I used to read a lot more often during the week at work.  Now, I go for a walk more often than not (unless the weather is particularly bad).  Especially if I see a low step total by lunch time (anything less than 3000 is cause for an extra walk), I feel the need to take a short 20 minute walk around the block.  I’m not complaining entirely; I mean, it’s usually nice to get out of the office and enjoy the fresh air, even in the winter.   

But I think it’s also leaving me frustrated creatively.  Why don’t I take some time to read or create something instead of going out at lunch?  Sometimes I try to do both, but it doesn’t always work out.  More importantly what I’m trying to do is let go of my attachment to my smart watch.  Oh I’ll wear it every day, but I’m trying to be less worried about my step totals.  Perhaps one way around that might be to find a watch face that doesn’t put my steps right in my face.   

I’m also going to be lowering my daily step goal.  Right now it’s set at 10690 or something to that effect.  I’m not going to lower it to something ridiculously low like 2000, but I think I’ll be able to find a sweet spot that allows me to hit it consistently (although not necessarily every day, to keep it something I can work toward).   

I feel like this kind of change will help steer me away from being worried about making sure I have enough steps during the day.  That’s the first change here.  The next step to increasing my creativity is probably unrelated to this, so I won’t get into it (plus, I don’t know what that is right now). 

Categories
Goals

Data Dump

Back in March, I got a Samsung Gear S3 smart watch to replace my FitBit Charge 2.  I’ve been doing a lot more tracking, etc. with it than I ever did with my FitBit.  But until now, I haven’t really looked at the data.  Well, now’s my chance.  Here’s all of the health data I’ve recorded.

Sleep

My data actually goes back to January – I assume that some data got imported when I did some syncs with different apps.  Here are my average sleep times for each month:

  • January – 7 hrs 26 mins
  • February – 7 hrs 47 mins
  • March – 7 hrs 56 mins
  • April – 7 hrs 0 mins
  • May (to date) – 7 hrs 2 mins

My average sleep efficiency recorded for April/May was 90%.  I’m not actually quite sure what “sleep efficiency” is, and whether or not that was a metric that Samsung came up with.  It turns out, it’s an actual number you can figure out yourself.  Here’s how verywellhealth.com defines it:

Sleep efficiency is the ratio of the total time spent asleep (total sleep time) in a night compared to the total amount of time spent in bed. For example, if a man spends 8 hours in bed on a given night, but only actually sleeps for four of those hours, his sleep efficiency for that evening would be 50% (four divided by eight multiplied by 100 percent).

So it looks like I’ve been sleeping pretty well, on average.

Steps

  • March – 8112 average daily steps; average distance 6.07km
  • April – 8247 average daily steps; average distance 5.63km
  • May (to date) – 8813 average daily steps; average distance 5.92km

I seem to be fairly consistent with the average daily steps.  My goal is 10,200 currently, and I’ve hit that 18 times (according to my ‘badge’ list – the last time I hit it was this past Monday).  The most steps I’ve walked to date was March 14th, when I hit 16,838 steps.  The previous record before that was 13,392.

Exercise

  • March – 99 average active minutes
  • April – 103 average active minutes
  • May (to date) – 115 average active minutes

You can tell that I’ve been more active as the weather gets better.

Heart Rate

  • March – 46 bpm Minimum | 68 bpm Average | 200 bpm Maximum
  • April – 45 bpm Minimum | 67 bpm Average | 171 bpm Maximum
  • May (to date) – 49 bpm Minimum | 69 bpm Average | 177 bpm Maximum

I’m not sure how to analyze this data, to be honest.  Is that good?  Bad?  Looking at the average, specifically; I figure that the minimums/maximums will probably be outliers anyway (and the max would be recorded during exercise).

I did some brief research, and found a formula for figuring out targets for training at least.   Using that formula, my max heart rate should be 186-188.  So it looks like except for March, I’m well within that range and have some room to work harder.  I found a Livestrong article that suggests 60 to 100 bpm is “normal” for ages 10 and up.

So there you have it.  I’m interested to see how my numbers compare for June/July/August.  I anticipate that my steps / exercise will probably increase vs the comparable numbers for March/April/May.  I think that it would be realistic to shoot for a 65 bpm average as well.

Categories
Technology

How to use a Fitbit Charge 2 Like a Smart Watch

I’ve been extremely satisfied with my FitBit Charge 2; I upgraded to it from using a Charge HR, which was also a nice little device on its own. The Charge 2 is leaps and bounds over it. But it’s not a smart watch.

Initially, I was okay with this. I figured that I didn’t need a smart watch – they were a cool thing and probably useful for some people, but not my thing. I was just interested in the fitness tracking aspect of it. That was true until I bought my wife an Apple Watch and got to see how truly cool and useful it was. So, I talked myself into getting a smart watch of my own.

But in the meantime, I decided that I would make the most of my Charge 2 and try to get some smart watch features going on my own.

This guide I’ve put together is something I came up with on my own to make it “smart watch-y”, and relies on using the Android phone OS; I’m sure you could probably get some of the same experience on an iPhone, but some of the things I describe are Android-only.

Notifications

The easiest thing to activate are notifications. This aspect is built into the Charge 2 already, allowing you to be notified on your wrist of incoming calls, calendar events, and select notifications. Out of the box, it only supports text messages and Facebook Messenger. However, if you have an Android device (like me), you can add a few more options here.

For me, I had an extra option showing – AutoNotification. This is a plugin for the automation program Tasker, which I use a lot. Theoretically you could route all your notifications through AutoNotification and then send them that way through your FitBit. This might be the best solution, since you can customize how your notifications appear in fine detail, so this might also improve your experience on your phone at the same time.

But if you’re not really up for fine tuning and customizing to the Nth degree, you should consider the app Fit Notifications. This app is compatible with a few other FitBit devices, and essentially allows you to send notifications for just about every app on your phone to your FitBit. You just need to select Fit Notifications as your notification service for messages in the FitBit app, and then select which apps you want to receive notifications from in the Fit Notifications settings. Simple as that, making it the most efficient method of receiving customized notifications.

My current clock face of choice

Clock Face

The next step is to pick a cool looking clock face. While it would be fantastic if you could create custom clock faces, or import faces from other people, it’s just not possible. FitBit provides a few different faces to choose from – go with what looks good to you. But try to pick something that makes good use of the entire screen.

At the end of the day, this part isn’t the most important change, but helps aesthetically to create the illusion of using a smart watch.

Calendar Notifications

This probably deserves to be grouped under ‘notifications’ in general, but make sure you have your calendar set up in the notifications for your device. To fully utilize this you’ll probably want to make sure you have event reminders set up as well, otherwise you won’t get the notifications for any events.

Again, it’s not a huge piece of the puzzle, but put together with everything else and it helps complete it.

That’s It!

You’re done! I have to do some more research on this, but I think that’s all that you can do to try to recreate the smart watch experience with a FitBit Charge 2. The rest is really already done for you – fitness tracking is built-in, as it’s the primary feature; and you can turn on / off alarms at your convenience in the menus on your device.

It’s not perfect, but it might help you decide whether or not you really need a smart watch after all. Since I haven’t purchased an Ionic yet, this might end up changing my mind. Who knows?