fitness · trackers

Apple Watch Honeymoon Is Over (but our relationship continues)

Image description: Activity face of an Apple Watch on Tracy’s arm, showing three embedded rings of different colours and the time of 3:47.

I bought an Apple Watch right before the last major lockdown started back in February (or was it March? The entire pandemic has become a big blur). I loved it so much and wrote about the way it motivated me again here. Closing the rings was an actual motivator that didn’t feel oppressive to me. There was something about it that felt more like a carrot than a stick. I never felt shamed by the watch for not closing the rings and always felt sort of encouraged.

We have all had our struggles with gadgets and trackers. Elan wrote about her tracker ring just the other day. Overall, I think I have done better with the watch than I would have without it. That is, I have gotten in a bit more activity than I otherwise would. But whereas I used to feel almost fully positive about it, the honeymoon is definitely over. What happened to that beautiful time when the watch seemed like my new best friend, all supportive and helpful?

Well, a few things, mostly having to do with not giving credit where credit is due. Back at the beginning, my Apple Watch used to sense when we were outside walking and ask me if I wanted it to start tracking our walk as an activity. Somewhere along the way it stopped doing that.

A friend with an Apple Watch was visiting me a couple of weeks ago and her watch always asked her if she was going for an outside walk. So at the end of a day of being out and about together, she’d tracked many minutes of activity just “by the by,” whereas I only tracked the minutes that I consciously and explicitly asked my watch to track.

But lest you think that my Apple Watch gives me credit for every walking minute I ask it to, I can assure you that it does not. I will routinely walk to work, which takes anywhere from 45-50 minutes. Despite tracking a 50-minute outdoor walk, the Apple Watch will “log” only 28 minutes of “activity.” My daily activity goal is 45 minutes. Granted, I will hit that 45 on my way home, since having walked to work I need to walk home again. But still. Back to this same friend — we would track the same walk and her watch would give her full credit, whereas mine would discount my walking minutes.

My watch is similarly stingy with the “move” tracking. Again with my friend, we were moving exactly the same amount at the same pace. And yet her watch would credit her a way larger percentage of move points (it’s actually measured in calories burned) for the exact same activity than mine would credit me.

And finally, there are the mysterious Stand points. That is, the watch tracks the number of hours in a day you stand for at least one minute. This is a good one for those of us with sedentary jobs. I do not resent the little reminder at ten minutes to the hour if I haven’t stood. What I do resent are the times I get that reminder when I am already standing or when I have stood quite a bit during the previous 50 minutes. Really, the watch doesn’t track “standing.” It tracks standing and moving.

I don’t doubt that standing and moving is superior to standing in some overall health sense. But it can be frustrating to be reminded to stand when it seems as if you have been standing a good portion of the preceding hour already. And then to have to stand up and march in place or do the floss or something (I actually do that a lot!) can sometimes be awkward (I did the floss outside during a break from my graduate seminar the other day to get my “stand” credit and my students were amused).

Image description: still shot of the Apple Watch’s “closing of the rings fireworks of three rings of different colours embedded in one another with an animation effect of each of them bursting into flames like fireworks.

And then there was the time when my watch stopped giving me the fireworks animation when I closed all three rings. That was a dark period that I don’t want to revisit. I mean, the added carrot of the fireworks animation actually gets me going sometimes.

What’s the upshot? I’m still liking the watch. I still wear it every day and check it from time to time. My Intervals Pro running app is still incredibly user-friendly that I cannot believe that I was loathe to switch from my very old Garmin Forerunner for fear that whatever I replaced it with wouldn’t do run intervals as well. There is no comparison. The Apple Watch plus the Intervals Pro app is a fabulous combo.

I have not activated the call to compete with either of my two fitness friends and I never will. I like that we cheer each other on instead of feel like rivals. And one of the fitness friends and I like to send each other the cheesy messages the watch gives as options for when one of us finishes a workout or closes their rings. Things like: “Incredible” or “Rockstar” or “You really know how to hit those pedals” or the more chiding “is that all you’ve got?”

I still find closing the rings motivating, but I am also really comfortable saying out loud to the Watch “I don’t care!” and then going to bed. More likely is that I will throw on a short dance workout to close the deal for the day. I don’t feel that that watch shames me into action. I have to say, I do like the positive messaging. Instead of reminding me of what I failed to accomplish, the watch rewards me for what I have accomplished. There are little monthly challenges, for example, and if you hit them great! If not, there is no rubbing your face in it or anything like that. So it’s a kind of tracking that I don’t experience as oppressive. Does that mean my views about tracking have changed since I compared it to the panopticon? Maybe a little bit but it really depends on the manner in which it motivates. Tracking can still be oppressive if it motivates as a stick not a carrot.

Upshot: the honeymoon is over but I’m still satisfied with my relationship with the Apple Watch even though it occasionally lets me down.

How do you feel about your fitness tracker?

fitness · gadgets · self care · trackers

A Fitbit for your Finger

By Elan Paulson

A number of FIFI bloggers have discussed the merits and problems of fitness trackers. Wearable trackers help folks to monitor their exercise, but they also track, store, and potentially share private health data. These high tech gadgets are slick, but their wearers can focus on the numbers rather than on the feel of exercise, during and after. They digitally reward–but also pressure–building a life around 10,000 steps per day.

More and more people in my life have fitness trackers. I held out on purchasing a wrist one because of the above issues, and watches and bracelets irritate my skin and get in the way of my keyboard.

But when I heard about a 6-gram titanium OURA ring that tracks activity, sleep, and more, I caved. I don’t know how the many sensors works in this smart ring. I just know what’s happened so far for me since I got a Fitbit for my finger.

Going Dry for Better Sleep

I can sleep for hours and hours—anytime, anywhere, like a cat (or a sloth). It has been a source of pride for me, but since getting the Oura the ring’s app reports that I am consistently only getting half of the nightly recommended “deep sleep” levels. Not enough deep sleep can negatively affect memory, cell regeneration, and energy levels. So maybe I can sleep all the time because I don’t sleep as well as I could.

The Oura’s app gives advice when it tracks sub-optimal levels. It has been tested to provide relatively accurate sleet data. So, I am now following its advice by going without alcohol for a month (for the first time in my life, I will add) to see if this lifestyle change affects my sleep pattern for the better. 

More Housework for Staying Active

Oura reports on activity levels, activity frequency, and daily activity goals. Many folks who have compared trackers (sometimes coming out better, and sometimes coming out worse, and even compared Oura to itself). It’s not the best or the worst of the bunch.

My Oura stays most happy with me when I move often, even for bits at a time, and one of the easiest way to keep moving on a regular basis while I am working from home is to take 5 minutes stretch and housework breaks.

I have never (in my life) been a regular house cleaner, but here I am tidying tidying, every day.

Smaller Wearable for Game Play

After a beautiful time playing scrimmage over the summer, I’m back playing indoor rec soccer. At our game on Thursday our ref stopped the game to tell my teammate she had on “illegal equipment.” It was her wrist fitness tracker. She had to remove it before the game could resume. Slowly I put my hands on my hips, Oura out of sight, then when the whistle blew kept playing.

Later this season, we have all been told no jewelry. But, with some tape it stays safe and out of sight.

Oura and charging station
The wee USB charging station on which my Oura charges every 4 days for about 20 minutes.

Sensors for What I am Not Sensing

A month ago, for a few days, I inexplicably became incredibly sensitive and grumpy. For days, I just wanted to cry, rage, and sleep. No other specific physical symptoms to indicated I was sick. What the heck was wrong with me?

My Oura noticed that my temperature was consistently elevated. So then I noticed. I followed its advice went a little easier on myself, physically but also mentally. Then, whatever was going on with me passed, and so did the temperature spikes.

Overall

My last attempt at wearing a step tracker revealed I was more motivated by people than by numbers alone. There are still the dependency issues and data risks. But right now–with only a few months into having the Oura–I have an empty bar fridge, a clean house, illegal equipment I can hide, and another way to pay more attention to my emotional health.

I have the Generation 2 Oura ring from this Finnish company (of the same name). The new Generation 3 ring (available now!) comes with more and newer sensors, and new features, including period prediction. (Slick!) So, I might just be asking for the Gen 3 for Christmas.

Do you have a fitness tracker or an Oura ring? What are your experiences?

221 in 2021 · gadgets · motivation · trackers

Closing those rings got Tracy motivated again

Image description: three nested rings (from inner to outer they’re red, green, blue) on a black background. This is the graphic of the Apple Watch Activity monitor app.

[I should probably start with a disclaimer: I have no stake in Apple at all, and I don’t even want to convince people to get an Apple Watch (which I myself hesitated over for years). I’m just saying how I’m using it and it’s helped me.]

Yesterday Cate wrote about slumps, and a few of us had something to say about them because it’s a thing these days. Towards the end she alluded to my new Apple watch. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I was in a serious slump. Usually I can pull myself out of them with a blog post in which I remind myself of all the things that usually work for me: keep it simple; start small; do less. But I wasn’t there. Looking back to a couple weeks ago, I don’t even think I was ready to be talked out of (or to talk myself out of) my slump. Everything besides sleep and the gentlest of gentle yoga seemed like SO. MUCH. EFFORT.

And then our covid case numbers started rising again. And this pandemic felt like it would never end (it still does). And we were on the eve of another stay-at-home order. A few months I had been asking around about fitness trackers and running watches and the like. My Garmin forerunner is a dinosaur and not the sort of thing you would wear any other time besides running. It’s been unreliable in booting up. People kept recommending the Apple Watch and the Garmin Vivo-something (I forget what exactly). So I bought nothing at first.

Then I decided to look into the Garmin and it turned out to be the same price range as the Apple Watch. And then they announced the lockdown. And I went into a spiral of: “I used to travel!” “I used to go out for dinner with friends.” “I used to go to a yoga studio and pay for passes.” “I used to DO THINGS.” Waaaa! Waaaa! And somehow by the end of that I had made an appointment to go the Apple Store the last day I could go (before everything went to curbside pick-up only), which happened to be the next day, to talk to a “Specialist” (lol) about a new watch.

The watch does lots of different things. But the best thing it does is the fitness “closing your rings” thing. I’m not a big fan of fitness tracking and step counting (as my experience with my workplace’s step-counting team competition has proven not once, but twice). But this ring thing! My friend Vicki invited me to be her “activity friend” on the watch, which means I can see when she’s made progress on closing her daily rings and she can see when I’ve made progress on mine. (I wouldn’t suggest becoming activity friends with anyone other than your good friends)

Image description: the rings as fireworks with light trails.

The outer (red) ring measures your movement (in terms of calories burned). You can set it to low, medium, high or custom, and it depends on things like height, age, weight. I chose medium and that seems about right for me. It’s manageable but not overbearing. The middle ring, sort of neon green, is the workout ring. The default is 30 minutes but I changed my daily target to 45 minutes since that seems pretty easy for me when I consider yoga, walking, running, and my superhero workouts. The inner ring (blue) is for standing, for at least one minute in 12 different hours in the day. You can change the number of hours in which you have a minute of standing to fewer than 12 but not more than 12. I kept mine at 12 and that seems reasonable but challenging on days when I am at my desk for hours in zoom meetings because it seems weird to get up and move around if I have to have my camera on. When you close all three rings you get a graphic on your watch that is sort of like the rings version of fireworks.

Okay. I know this seems somehow too simple to be motivating. But I have hit my targets all but one day since I got my watch a couple of weeks ago. Now keep in mind that though it counts steps, I do not have a step target and I don’t do 10,000 steps every day. In my pre-pandemic life steps were easy. But some days it’s all I can do to get myself out the door for a walk around the block.

Remember too that my watch was meant to replace my running watch. So in order to do it right, I did a little research and invested in a running app for the watch called Intervals Pro. It was costly for an app — $11.99 (CDN) — but it is so simple to set up custom interval workouts, with time or distance intervals, at set paces if you want, and it keeps a record of your training runs. And that too has added to my joy because my Garmin, ancient as it was, had exactly the kind of functionality for custom running intervals that I needed. I don’t know why I worried that something released almost ten years later wouldn’t be able to do at least as much. To be fair, without the app the Apple Watch wouldn’t have been able to do at least as much. But the app is a game changer for anyone who likes to pre-program custom run intervals.

Finally, and I am aware that this might make me sound superficial and self-indulgent, I have discovered a whole world of third party Apple Watch straps that you can order online for super cheap in all sorts of styles and colours. It is very easy to change the strap, and I do that several days a week. I also bought a protector thing that snaps on over it and affects nothing about how it looks and how it works, but will protect it from getting banged up and scratched.

Long story short: the watch has motivated me to run again, to get out for walks at lunch time or at the end of a work day, to stand up from my desk and stretch my legs more than I used to, and to include at least 45 hours of scheduled workouts in my day.

I’m now activity friends with two people (Vicky and my friend, Diane, who I actually convinced to get a watch so that we could be activity friends). And I like seeing their progress through the day. It motivates me without making me feel competitive. It’s more in an inspirational way.

As I write this the night before I’m scheduled to post, my watch just reminded me (ever so gently, not at all in a “you should be standing!” way) that I can still get a “stand” in, bringing my daily total to 11/12 with just one more to go before bed. That’s all I need to do to close my rings today. So I’m doing it.

Do new gadgets motivate you?

fitness · motivation · new year's resolutions · trackers

Is Feeling Happier Your Goal? These Calendars Might Help

If your wellness plan for this year is physical or practice-based, you have probably already outlined the steps and systems that will take you towards your goals. Those kind of plans tend to have tangible steps that you can measure in some way – minutes of meditation, cardio, or yoga or reps of one exercise or another.

But if your goals are more intangible, you will have to choose a different approach to measuring your progress.

For example, if you have decided that you want to feel happier this year, you might find it a challenge to create a plan and it might be difficult to measure your progress.

That’s where monthly calendars like the ones below from Greater Good Science Center and Action for Happiness can help.

These calendars and their supporting materials give you tangible actions to take that have been proven to increase people’s feelings of well-being and happiness. And they don’t throw them at you all at once (which can cause me A LOT of unhappiness), instead the tasks are ‘scheduled’ for specific days.

If you are a person (like me) who can get overwhelmed by a long list of future ideas, having them organized into a calendar like this can make the project of feeling happier feel a little more in reach.

Note: I’m sharing this a few days into the month but please remember that you don’t have to catch up!

So, if you are seeking happiness this year, you can follow their daily advice. Doing (or not doing) these daily tasks will help you measure your efforts and you can check in with yourself every so often to assess whether you feel generally happier overall.

Another note: Please don’t think that I am suggesting that you MUST do everything on both calendars. That’s a sure way to feel overwhelmed. Pick one or mix-and-match. Do what you can with the resources you have and then see if their advice helps you to reach your goal.

A multi-coloured calendar from the Greater Good Science Center listing different tasks that can help improve happiness levels.
Image Description: A multi-coloured calendar from the Greater Good Science Center listing different tasks that can help improve happiness levels.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the calendar above that includes clickable links to articles about the task of the day. The Greater Good Science Center produces a new calendar each month.

A multi-coloured image of a calendar of happiness-related tasks from the  Action for Happiness website.
Image description: a multi-coloured calendar full of daily tips/activities for increasing your happiness.

Here’s a link to the Action for Happiness website where you can download a copy of the ‘Friendly February’ calendar. A new calendar is available every month.

motivation · planner · planning · self care · trackers

Can’t Keep Track: Christine asks for wellness-tracking ideas

I know that recording your habits, your exercise, and your goals is supposed to be one of the best ways to challenge yourself and to stay inspired.

I love the information I get from my Fitbit (even though it’s limited) and I find the charts it generates to be very inspiring.

And I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from looking at a paper list of things completed, progress made and skills slowly gained.

However…

I HATE the process of tracking.

I.

HATE.

IT.

I get tangled in trying to track the ‘right’ thing.

Then I forget to track, or, worse, I get so obsessed with tracking that I feel vaguely anxious about it all day.*

I find it tedious to create or customize a tracker (paper or digital) and then I find it annoying to fill it in.

I tried using a few different apps but there are so many finicky details and I find that my goals often change as I go along so it hardly feels worth the effort.

These issues are especially annoying when I am dealing with fitness-related tracking because there are so many different things that you could track and so many details that you could include.

But as annoying as it is for me to track things, I can’t write off the idea entirely.

A grid is drawn in green ink on off-white paper. There are numbers in the top row and there are flowers drawn above the top line of the grid.
Here is one of my latest attempts at creating a tracker.
I was hoping that adding some fun elements would make it more appealing.

Having ADHD makes me kind of atemporal – I forget that about the progress I have made, I forget that I used to feel differently about the challenges at hand, I forget (sometimes) that I have previously solved an issue that is looming again.

Tracking helps me counter that.

When I do track my efforts, I can see that I am making progress, that I can do things that I couldn’t do before, and it shows me that I have successfully dealt with similar challenges in the past – inspiring me to figure out how to handle them this time.

Tracking shows me patterns and invites me to reflect on why certain challenges come up.

But yet, I hate it.

On any given day, the annoyance of having to do the mechanics of tracking overshadows any possible future pay-off. (Atemporality striking again!)

But my eternal hopefulness makes me wonder if I just haven’t tried the right approach yet.

So, I thought it might be interesting to ask the Fit is a Feminist Issue readers about it.

What kinds of exercise or wellness habits do you track?

What criteria do you use to measure your progress?

What sort of tracker do you use? Digital or analog?

When and how do you use your tracker?

Have you tried using anything other than a row of checkboxes? What did you try? Anything involving colouring or drawing?

Do tell! (Pretty please.)

*Yes, I do overthink everything, it’s part of my charm. 😉

cycling · gadgets · technology · trackers

If Garmin is down, did that ride even happen?

Today Sarah and I did our usual Prince Edward County weekend ice cream ride. It’s a perfect weekend ride. 50 km round trip. Ice cream at Slickers in Bloomfield is our destination. It’s vaguely uphill getting there and vaguely downhill coming home. There are osprey nests to look out for and we’ve been meaning to make a new Strava segment, from osprey nest to osprey nest.

Slickers Ice Cream

The ride was great. The ice cream–I had campfire flavour was delicious–and the pool after felt amazing. But the final satisfaction of uploading the ride to Garmin and Strava after, in the shade, with a non alcoholic beer, didn’t happen. Garmin is down. The Garmin connect app on my phone tells me this.

Here’s the work around for manually uploading and transferring files to Strava if it’s really bothering you. Me, I’m waiting it out. But I’m bummed we can’t make our osprey nest Strava segment.

What’s going on, you might wonder?

It’s a major ransom ware attack. Wasted Locker wants millions of dollars from Garmin.

My ride is saved on my Garmin bike computer and it will upload when they’re back in business. It’ll all be fine. I missed seeing how my speeds and times compared to past trips but mostly I’m okay with it.

You? How are you coping fellow Garmin users?

gadgets · gear · trackers

Fitness trackers as health trackers and COVID-19

Last September I decided I was done with fitness watches that track steps (and other stuff). See Why Sam isn’t getting a fitness watch. I bought an analog watch for work so I could keep track of the time without looking at my phone.

From that post, “The problem is that they mostly track steps and my steps are very limited these days. When I wear one I’m conscious of how little I’m walking and sometimes I walk when I shouldn’t. My knees are happiest on days with fewer than 5000 steps. I get that just walking around campus and taking the dog around the block. I try to put step counts away but it’s so hard. See You are so much more than your step count.”

And then COVID-19 hit and I started tracking my daily temperature. I struggled a bit with sleep and I was curious to know what was going on with my resting hours. I’m feeling much more at ease with walking less and I’ve got a pretty good idea of the amount of walking that feels good for my knee.

I’ve had pneumonia a few times as an adult and I’ve had nurses track my blood oxygen levels and I was intrigued that new fitness trackers also contain pulse oximeters. No, they’re not medical devices and they’re not as accurate as having a medical professional measure it but they are supposed to be good at measuring change over time.

One of the problems COVID-19 patients have is that feel like they are breathing comfortably but their blood oxygen levels can be scarily low. Does that mean you need a home pulse oximeter? I’m going with no but if a fitness watch came with one or would be a definite bonus, right?

Interestingly the pulse oximeter trend started before COVID-19. See here. It’s useful information for athletic recovery, mountain climbers and others who train at altitude, as well as for detecting sleep apnea.

The other COVID-19 tracking capability that fitness watches might be useful for is resting heart rate. More than fever, a rise in resting heart rate can be a sign your body is fighting off a virus. This is true even in otherwise asymptotic people. “Every single time someone got sick with a viral infection, we could pick up their heart rate increasing well before they were symptomatic.”

I’m worried about getting COVID-19 and getting sick but I’m also extra worried about getting it and not knowing I have it. That’s why I’ve been regularly taking my temperature.

YMMV, but for me, tracking this stuff makes me feel less anxious and more in control.

You can either just track your own individual information to gather intel about your health or agree to be part of one of many studies pooling the data to track COVID-19.

Here’s more to read if you’re interested:

Can Fitness Trackers Detect Coronavirus Symptoms?

Apple Watch, Fitbit May Help Spot Emerging Coronavirus Outbreaks

Scientists Want to Know if Fitness Trackers Can Detect Covid ..

I bought a Garmin vivoactive 4, image featured above. I’ll blog more about the watch and its other fancy features in a bit. This is my first time owning a watch that can do so many things and I’m not sure I need to read my email on my watch.

 I’m curious though, are you tracking any of your health data differently since COVID-19?

gadgets · gear · trackers

Bettina’s sports watch situation: a quick update

Following my frustrations with finding a small multi-sport watch and the premature demise of my Apple Watch (which had been the compromise solution for my small-wrist problem), I’m pleased to report I’ve opened a new chapter in the saga.

As of a couple of weeks ago, I’m the owner of a Garmin Forerunner 245 Music, and so far I’m very happy with it. Yes, it is chunkier than the Apple Watch, but it’s still just about OK on my wrists. It actually hasn’t bothered me at all – I suspect this is because the Apple Watch acted as a “gateway drug” to my wearing larger watches and I was already sort of used to a large-ish thing round my arm.

Black Garmin watch on Bettina’s wrist.

It also has some pluses over the Apple Watch, which I’m either already enjoying or looking forward to:
+ Battery life. I charged the Apple Watch every night, but the Garmin lasts at least a week. This is phenomenal.
+ Music. I bought the AW on the speculation that an autonomous app for Spotify was coming that would allow me to listen without bringing my phone along. Not so. Apparently they’d rather push Apple Music on people by refusing to do this. I have Spotify Premium but don’t want to pay for two music streaming services. Garmin has such a standalone app, though I have yet to try it. I think it will be very nice on solo runs.
+ Sturdiness. The Garmin looks like it just might survive a fall of the kind that killed my AW (I’m still not planning on trying that out).
+ Sports stats. I prefer the way Garmin presents those to the AW ones. It seems cleaner to me and less gimmicky. Though there are definitely some gimmicky tracking features, like the “body battery”, I could totally live without, but I recognise that this is entirely down to my personal taste. YMMV. And I like the way the stats are presented mid-exercise more. The display is easier to read while running than the AW one. I also still need to explore all the sports functions it has! I haven’t taken it on a bike ride yet, for instance.

There are also some aspects where I preferred the Apple Watch though:
– Size. The Garmin is noticeably bigger, though as I said above, it hasn’t bothered me that much
– Look. The AW was sleeker, and it was really easy to switch out the sports wristband for a more elegant one, e.g. for fancy work events. I think in future, I will appear watchless at such occasions. Not a big deal, but it is nice to have a watch around for these. I’ve never been one to own multiple watches, but I might rethink that philosophy and buy a small, nicer-looking watch for “fancy times”.

And then there’s one difference I’m neutral about:
= Smartwatch functions. The AW is clearly a smartwatch with great sports functions, while the Garmin is clearly a great sports watch with smartwatch functions. I’d gotten used to some of the smartwatch functions on the AW and turned others off, but I’m also not missing those I did use all that much. I still have my phone for reminders etc. So far, I haven’t been in a situation again where I wanted to send a text from my watch – doesn’t happen often, so I can live without that feature.

I haven’t regretted my purchase. Overall, so far I feel like the Garmin’s skew towards the sports functions is more in line with what I wanted than the AW was. Let’s see how it goes!

fitness · trackers · training

RIP, Apple Watch?

A while ago, I was in the market for a sports watch. Having had issues with my small wrists and the size of most sports watches (which I blogged about here), I eventually settled on an Apple Watch. It wasn’t my first choice – I really wanted a Garmin – but it was a good second best option, and small enough not to look ridiculous on me. I really came to love the thing. It provides good statistics on running, swimming, and biking. Especially while I was training for my half marathon that never was, it was really great to track distances and progress. But I also loved it for swimming and biking. I even came to enjoy the other smartwatch features I never thought I really needed, such as calendar reminders or the ability to reply to a text message from my wrist when my phone was hidden somewhere in the depths of my backpack. The features I found annoying, I just turned off.

And then on Monday morning, in a jet-lagged haze (I got back from a work trip to the US on Sunday), I accidentally dropped my watch on the tiled bathroom floor. Even before picking it up, with a sinking feeling I knew what I would find. The poor thing had really face planted into the tiles. And indeed, the screen had completely shattered. I had a “this is why I can’t have nice things” moment right there. But alas, it was too late.

Sad times: the cracked screen of Bettina’s Apple Watch 😦

It also has to be said that I’m sometimes not very smart. I hadn’t bought the extra Apple Care warranty for it, and now it’s going to cost me an arm and a leg to replace the screen. It’s so expensive that for the same money I could buy a decent Garmin replacement.

I’m considering it. As much as I loved the Apple Watch, I still think I would love a Garmin more because of the added functionalities for athletes and longer battery life (I’m also informed they are sturdier, which at this point is probably not a bad idea). At the same time though, my wrists haven’t grown since I was last looking for a watch, and Garmin hasn’t seen the light in the meantime and produced a smaller model I like. As I’m hemming and hawing, for now I really miss my Apple Watch. I went swimming without it today, and as I miscounted my lanes I thought back wistfully to the times I could have just tapped its screen to see how much I’d already done. Sad times! 😥

I know some of my fellow bloggers really aren’t into the idea of tracking, but personally, I love it. I find it motivating and helpful as a training tool. So I will be doing something about it – just not entirely sure what yet. Do you all have any advice?

advertising · body image · charity · fitness · kids and exercise · Martha's Musings · trackers

Kids and fitness trackers: the holiday edition (not)

 

TW: weightloss mentioned; negative self talk examples included.

By MarthaFitat55

Almost two years ago this March coming, I wrote about targetting kids for weight loss campaigns and fitness trackers. The nutshell: not a great idea because kids are vulnerable.

I was reminded of that piece when this article came across my feed describing how UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund has developed a tracker that allows kids to feed other children when they reach certain step goals.

I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.

North American kids — largely affluent, well fed, and probably mostly white — are being told use this tracker and you will feed the poor somewhere else.

You can’t escape the irony here; the colonialist, patriarchally coated irony of having privileged kids walking their walk to good works.

danielle-macinnes-d9IFdsA1HIA-unsplash
Images shows young white female-presenting child looking at a quarter cupcake on a plate.  Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Article author Angela Lashbrooks says this about the idea: A punitive or even rewards-based system to encourage young people to move more won’t be effective in the mid or long term, and could cause or worsen obsessive thoughts and behaviors in some kids.

That’s because there isn’t a lot of good evidence showing trackers work with kids and teens:

One 2019 study found that teenage subjects actually became less likely to engage in moderate or vigorous physical activity after five weeks of wearing a Fitbit. It suggested that the tracker appeared to weaken the inherent motivation and self-determination needed to compel kids to be active. Another study, from 2017, saw similar results: After an initial surge in interest in exercise spanning a few weeks, the kids mostly stopped engaging with the trackers and actively resisted them, claiming that they were inaccurate and therefore not trustworthy.

While our kids on this continent are mostly sedentary and we should be concerned with the amount of screen time they engage in, getting kids to wear trackers and get their fitness on by appealing to an altruistic goal is problematic.

Kids follow what they see. Kids also know when they are being gamed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up on Christmas morning and discover a tracker under the tree. Given all the negative messages we send out about size and what fitness looks like, I can see the thought processes now:

Parental units gave me a tracker! Trackers are used by people who want to lose weight. Parents must think I need to lose weight. Parents must think I am fat. Fat people are ugly. Parents must think I am ugly. Parents won’t love me if I’m fat. Parents won’t love me anymore if I don’t lose weight. …

Unless a tracker is something the child has spontaneously on their own expressed an interest in, there are better ways to get your kid engaged in fitness than planting this kind of non-gift under the tree.

If you want to focus on a healthier, more active lifestyle, buy swim passes for everyone. Or sign them up for that bike repair workshop so they can fix their bikes on their own. Or plot walking routes in your community and track the steps as a world wide adventure.

If social action is on your list of things, then talk as a family about supporting community agencies who help vulnerable kids and families throughout the year and not just in holiday season. This article offers some great insights into why giving should be a daily thing and not a holiday one-off.

Gifts that focus on self-improvement aren’t really gifts in my opinion. They are projections of your own desires. How about you? What do you think would be more appropriate for gift giving?

MarthaFitat55 is not a fan of self-improvement gifts for any occasion. She gets her fit on through walking, swimming, yoga and powerlifting. But not all at once.