My personal fitness tracker/app throw-down (Part Two)

Here’s Part One, if you missed it. Fair warning, this may grow into three posts!

So, to continue; last Fall I decided I needed to make some changes. Not like “I want to lose weight and be pretty” changes, but more along the lines of I need to move it or lose it. I see too many older people who are primarily sedentary and their main topic of conversation is their rapidly fading health and yeah, while I know we’re all heading that way… I’d like to be as healthy as I can for as long as I can, and I mean, let’s look at how many times I’ve had bronchitis in the last five years. And how I’ve gained weight. And how tired I am all the time. It’s hard to get to sleep, when I get to sleep I have really stressful dreams that wake me up and don’t let me get back to sleep, and then I get tired in the middle of the afternoon and fall asleep wherever I am, but can’t do more than nap because I have work to do. And of course MY OLD FRIEND ANXIETY. A lot of those things tie in together – the more you fix the mind the more your mind will want to fix your body, and the more you fix your body the more the mind will follow along. You can read that forever and a day on all the online health/wellness blogs but it can’t come from outside. Change has to come from within.

I sat with myself for a while and discovered… I was ready for change. But baby steps. I did a couple of things. No, I started doing a lot of things, slowly adding one on top of the other. Baby steps. In October I joined Noom; in November I bought a new fitness tracker; for Christmas I bought myself a new/used treadmill; in February I bought a tracker I love even more and sort of wish I’d gone with the first time. Oh – and in mid/late January sometime I got my yearly winter sinus infection that turned into bronchitis – again – did I mention yearly? – and so there I was I was trying, really trying hard to make all these good choices and I was getting…. sicker? What the actual fuck, yo. That just doesn’t seem fair.

Years ago I joined Weight Watchers (did I mention this in the previous post?) with a group of friends, when we all worked at the Enginerding company. It was easy to do it with a bunch of friends, because we were all there, we all saw each other every day, we all traded recipes and cheered each other on and supported each other when we were having bad days. But that’s when my food allergies started to arise, and a lot of the WW recipes were based on fish – which I love, and can be healthy, but I was suddenly allergic to and could no longer eat. Same with chicken, and turkey, two other meats that WW relied heavily on.

I wound up drifting out of Weight Watchers. I still tried to do the same activities I did – dog walking, keeping an eye on my step count – but I found myself floundering in the “what can I eat now” department. That’s been… oh, a good twelve years or so now, and I’m *still* floundering. But that might be a whole different post – I’m getting off track here!

So. I joined Noom. (What is Noom?) I thought about Noom for like a month before I joined. WW had been pretty good, results-wise, as long as I stayed on it, but then? Gained everything back and more. Was Noom going to be like that? Was I going to set myself up to fail? And how… groupy was it? Because I didn’t have a work group of people to do this with any more. I mean, I just can’t see the cats getting into it, ya know? But I thought about what I wanted – to feel healthy and vibrant vs wanting to meet a certain number on the scale, and feeling healthy and vibrant *by far* won out. A number is a number and can change depending on salt and water intake and hormones and what time of day it is. So tiring to try to care about for a long time. But the accountability of a group did work for me – or the accountability of weighing myself weekly, anyway (more for curiosity and “is this working” than “oooo am I a size 2 yet? SPOILER: I WILL NEVER BE A SIZE 2), and being around people who had the same goals. I joined Noom.

We’ve been talking about making healthier choices over in my Ravelry group, and here’s what I wrote when people asked me about Noom:

Things that I like about Noom: 
no food is “off limits” – foods are either green, yellow, or red; eat as much green as you want, focus on middle-of-the-road yellow ones, and try to put a cap on the red ones. In other words, it’s kind of Michael Pollin — “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” 
there’s an active community – you’re assigned a group a few weeks in, and there’s a group coach who posts weekly prompts and the app encourages you with prompts to post there as well. Everyone in your group started the same time you did, so everyone is within a few days of each other in the program 
there are daily articles to read, that encourage more of a change of thinking rather than a change of diet. You’re encouraged to explore how you feel about food as much as you’re encouraged to make better choices. 
you are immediately assigned a personal “coach” with whom you touch base every other day or so, talking about choices you’re making that week and goals/improvements. 
there’s a large recipe database and food tracking info. 
you can add exercise routines either to remind you to do it or “hey I just did this”.

Things I don’t like about Noom: 
I’m not entiiiiiiiiiiirely sure that the personal coach isn’t a bot – for some reason they assigned me the most dude-bro ever, and I feel mildly uncomfortable talking to him about things like “I just want to not be disgusted by myself when I look in the mirror” or “PMS, what a bitch, amirite”. He’s very gung-ho and very “HEY LORENA OMG GIRL WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO THIS WEEK ISN’T TODAY AWESOME” and I’m like… chill, dude. Just… chill. 
I just hate logging food every day. This is a me-thing, and I’m going to hate it anywhere I have to log food, not because I eat badly but because of my food allergies… dude-bro suggests recipes to me all the time and I’m like “uh, still allergic to chicken???” so if I make recipe changes I have to type in the entire recipe and omg kill me please. 
the daily articles only take like ten minutes a day, but sometimes you have to type things in and if you don’t screenshot it, later on when a few days later it asks you to reflect on something you wrote the day before, if you go back to see what you wrote it doesn’t save… so you have to type it in all over again. I started keeping a notebook near where I read my articles, so I can write stuff down so I don’t forget later (there is a “bookmark” so you can save certain articles, like suggested exercise routines, but even bookmarked articles don’t save typed in info). 
and this is another me-thing, but sometimes I don’t read the articles until late in the evening and the article is along the lines of “ok, today when you _________, focus on _____________” and I’m like, shit.

That’s my run-down on Noom. My six months are about up, and I’m debating whether to stay for another six months or not. On one hand I’ve gotten out of it what I wanted – I feel more alive, more vibrant, somewhat healthier (side-eyes sinus infections) and although the number on the scale has not changed that much, pants that were snug at Christmas, I can now take off and pull on without unbuttoning and unzipping. Note to self: maybe buy a second belt.

I bought a new fitness tracker. Yep, this part is why there’s going to be a third installment (I’m already at 1400!). I thought about getting another FitBit, but I honestly didn’t think it was worth the hassle. I didn’t want to pay $100 for something that was going to keep driving me bananas with all the same things I didn’t like about it before… so I comparison shopped and read articles and wound up buying a LetsCom. This did everything I liked about the FitBit and a little bit more; tracks steps, distance traveled, calories burned, active minutes, heartbeat, sleep tracking, morning alarms… it also had newfangled things like a sedentary alarm if you want it to tell you that you’ve been sitting too long, pairs to your phone so will tell you if you have calls or text messages, somehow also operates the camera on your phone so you can … use it like a self-timer for selfies? Oh! And it has… A WATCH! Suddenly I would know what time it was! Hahahaha.

Anyway, mostly I just used it to see what time it was, and what my step count was. I didn’t want it to control my phone. I didn’t even really care about alarms, or how many minutes a day I’d been active, or my heartbeat… listen – I have asthma. I’m on an inhaler. My heartbeat can change within seconds after a puff of Ventolin. Keeping track of my heart rate just doesn’t seem interesting to me. I’m not an athlete who’s trying to keep heart rate above x for x number of minutes to max some calorie burn. Really I just want to know that I may have started with only taking 1200 steps a day in October and I’m up to 5500 steps a day six months later. Or more, if I go to Disney for a day.

Oh – and my favorite, favorite thing about the LetsCom tracker was that… remember how I said charging the FitBit was sometimes like fighting the will of God, with the little dongle thing that was most of the time all like “WHAT BATTERY, BITCH?”? With the LetsCom, you pull the band off of one end of the tracker face and it’s a USB connector! You just plug that tracker face into the port on your computer and BAM. An hour later, that thing is charged for four or five days. So relaxing, after the FitBit Dongle Fiasco.

If there was one thing I didn’t like about the LetsCom (besides the extremely broken English in the associated phone app, VeryFitPro) it’s that at night, in the dark, as I’m asleep… it would light up. And that shit was like a lighthouse. The light shining in my eyes would wake me up. I could never figure out why it happened – it didn’t happen during the day. Just at night, while I was asleep. I tried wearing it in different configurations (right wrist vs left, inside out vs outside out) and all I can guess is that something touching it – like, when I rolled over in my sleep, if it brushed against the blanket – would bring it to life and it would very excitedly, extremely brightly, let me know what time it was. YES THANK YOU, GO TO BED, TRACKER, YOU’RE DRUNK. Oh – and like the FitBit, it would count my knitting stitches as steps. Just FYI for the crafters out there.

One last thing I did… I bought a new/used treadmill. This is pretty standard. It looks and acts like a treadmill. Completely functional, does what I want, has room to grow if I want to add speed or an incline. Has some funky Internet thing I haven’t looked into that you can tell it “I’m walking this particular hiking trail in France” and it’ll GPS the trail and surprise you with hills and dips in accordance with the actual trail. Haven’t tried any of that yet – it’s all I can do with my lungs to get up to 3 MPH these days.

Sorry this is getting so long… 2000 words now and counting… stay tuned for Part Three! Because yes! There’s more! Why? Because when I got the LetsCom, I was also looking at the Bellabeat Leaf. I went with the LetsCom because it was $25 and I am frugal AF. However….. (stay tuned)!

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