Fitness in the digital age or how #quantifiedself entered my world by my wrist.
Simply put, the great hairless ape is not meant to live at a desk in the seated position.
The results of this indentured servitude to our qwerty keyboard master all whilst confined to cheap office outlet desk chairs means widening waistlines, poor posture, fatigue, and bad backs.
About a decade ago a minor injury turned into constant back pain. To relieve this pain at the office I’ve gone through a countless series of fancy chairs, straps, and even yoga balls. Eventually I found solace in a standing desk. I feel better and my back pain went away (entirely) after just 4 months.
Inspired by a coworker at XMission I upped the ante and hacked together a treadmill desk. Wow, what a change in my personal fitness and ability to stay focused at work. But what was it really doing for me besides a little weight loss and better sleep? How do could I quantify the changes and measure results?
A few years ago my health monitoring efforts started with the LoseIt! app on the iphone. Great for tracking some calories, weight, activity and such. Found limitations in monitoring my movement in that the app only allowed input of time doing an activity. I even tried the Eatery app from Massive Health. Still, I wanted more but what was lacking from the apps? Counting my actual activities. Movement vs. an estimated value based on time. Real, measured data was missing.
Without realizing it I found myself in the world of quantified self which is a hashtag popping up all around the internet these days. Using technology to better my physical health and understand my habits.
The hunt was on for a quality pedometer which morphed into a fitness monitor. That night while looking the Fuelband and FitBit an article popped up announcing the re-release of the Jawbone UP fitness bracelet. Since I already use another of their products I ordered one and joined the UP community on November 27th of last year.
Here are my thoughts about the UP:
1- I wear mine with the clasp side out and the end cap logo turned in. Found that I catch it on fewer things. As well, the clasp side will scratch your laptop deck and interferes with a normal keyboard. Overall, UP is a very well-built and durable bracelet.
2- It is important to learn how to put it on properly. Parallel with the skinny side of your wrist and slide it on with a little twist. Easy and keeps it from getting stretched out.
3- Beware of kids and monkeys! They will grab the bracelet and try to bend it straight in about 2 seconds. They can put all your thoughtful efforts from #2 down the drain.
4- Learn the codes. They almost make sense after awhile and are very useful.
5- Press the button for sleep mode every night. (Zzzz) It is a hard habit to learn and manual sleep input is mostly useless. The band does a great job with sleep monitoring and the alarms to wake you in light sleep are excellent!
6- Try not to plug the band into your phone after every activity. Do it once a day or every couple days. My impression is the battery life decreases faster when synced frequently.
7- When you have fitness goals, find some UP friends to team with. If social isn’t your thing then skip this tip.
8- The iOS app is top notch, really useful and beautiful. Like any great app they are improving it over time. (Although I do wish it had a companion web interface or desktop app.) A co-worker uses the Android app and it is also top quality. Their acquisition of MassiveHealth should bring some excellent improvements.
9- The coating on the end cap for the data plug wears off leaving a shiny surface. I don’t mind it but it does bother others. (Wrist pic shows the shiny surface wear.)
10- Don’t leave home without it! After a couple months this fitness reminder becomes addictive. Accidentally leave it home because you took it off for some reason and forgot it. Well, you will be running home because loosing your day of data is unacceptable… and your wrist will be lonely. It turns fitness into a fun game. Tracking your progress and measuring data.
11- Chainsaw, heavy typing, and clapping. What do these have in common? False data. 10 minutes of running a snow blower with this on and BOOM you have 30,000 steps for the day! Same with heavy typing, an angry missive can slightly impact step count.
12- Treadmills and biking. The band is ineffective at measuring this data. As mentioned above, I installed a treadmill at my office desk. Great way to get some steps in but I had to get creative to have my steps measured. Simple solution is to clip the UP through a couple lace loops and start walking. Today I’m wearing flip flops and using a cable tie to have my steps measured. (see pic) The UP really needs an accessory market to provide an activity clip option and a better clasp closure system. Check out a creative UP fashion hack.
13- The meal monitoring is easy, just time consuming so I seldom use it. Bought it primarily to monitor activity and find totally worth it for just that data. The sleep and food tracking are an added bonus.
I did run into an issue with my UP. Just 4 months into it and …dead… my everyday companion gave up on me. At least it was under warranty, although the warranty return and replacement process is painful at best. I lost 2 weeks of personal data waiting on the replacement and only received mine after sending follow-up complaints to their support department and griping to @jawbone on Twitter. But at last my replacement arrived and I am back in the realm of quantified data.
Lastly, enjoy! This has been a great device and effective health reminder. Hopefully it works for you as well as it has for me. I’ve dropped 20 lbs in 4 months and I can say that the UP has been an integral part of my lifestyle change.
Do you have an UP or another type of fitness monitor? I’d really like to hear from you on how you use yours and what success you have had in the comments below.
Find me on LinkedIn and G+ under John801.