Monday, May 19, 2014

Cakeway to the West

On Saturday, my husband and I went cake hunting.  That's what I call it!   There are 250 fiberglass cakes all over the St Louis metro area celebrating the 250th birthday of St Louis.   Well I think as of the last update 234 of them have been placed.   They are at places that are landmarks or some significance to St Louis.   A certain number of the locations were voted on by the public.  Of course I had no clue about that vote until well after it was over and cakes were being placed.  All the cakes have different themes, usually relating to the location they are placed.

We took photos at each cake. Here's one that was the Soldier's Memorial in downtown St Louis that was behind a locked gate.  I guess we got there after it closed.

I took Norman, the World Equestrian Games mascot with us for some photos.   Alltech is kind of asking people to take photos of Norman traveling the world.  Here's one of Norman on the St Louis Art Museum cake.

And here's one of me with a cake so you can get a feel for the size of the cake.  This one was in Forest Park and was at the location of Shakespeare in the Park.  Every spring they do a Shakespeare play for a few weeks in Forest Park.   This was probably one of my favorite cakes.

So this leads me to talk about wearing my fitbit this weekend.  We walked all over Forest Park to get all the cakes in the park.  It was easier to walk than to hope to find parking near each cake.   I was good with walking cause I was too lazy to run before we left to go cake hunting.   Here are the stats from Saturday. 

Over 7 miles!  Woo hoo.  I'd say that was pretty accurate as we did a lot of walking all day.  It was fun to see these stats and I'm having fun with the fitbit.  

However, the anal part of me wonders how the fitbit comes up with distance related to steps.  Based on the goals, 10,000 steps = 5 miles.  Ok.  When I go on a run and I look at my stats it's pretty dang close on mileage, so I'm good with that.  I do *not* expect this thing to be accurate.  I expect it to be relative. 

So that brings me to Sunday.  Yesterday I ran 3 miles, rode Eli and then did various other things.  Here are the stats for Sunday. 

Relatively speaking I walked less steps and more miles.  This was a little more skewed in the middle of the day yesterday.  There has to be some algorithm that takes in frequency of steps or something.  My guess is that riding might throw this off some, but that just a guess.  I'm not being anal enough about it to look at the stats after every single thing I do, or try to figure it out by doing certain things on certain days.  But when I do the math, Sat come out to 2193.8 steps/mile and Sun is 1952.5 steps/mile.  A difference of 241-ish steps per mile.  *shrug*  Big enough to care?  Probably not.  Definitely not for me.  I'm still having fun with the fitbit and I'm using it in a relative way.   I like wearing it and seeing how active or lazy I'm being.  It's fun on days like Saturday when we were walking so much to have an idea of how much we actually did.  For those reasons I'm keeping it. :)   However, the anal aspect of me is still somewhat bugged by the numbers that I see.  But again I think the thing is close enough and in no way to I think it's accurate to the step, to the mile or to the calorie.  I do not take those calories burned into account in my life.  Well hell, let's be honest, I don't count calories well at all or I wouldn't be this fat right now!

Happy Monday everyone!  Hope this is a great week.  I'm looking forward to a three day weekend after this week is over.  We will probably do more cake hunting and we have tickets to the Cardinals game on Memorial Day.  Yay!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Buzz buzz buzz!

I find that I like the buzz (vibrating) from my fitbit when I reach my step goal. It happened yesterday while I was running on the treadmill. 

It's *very* hard for me to get many steps at work.  I try to get up as often as I can, but I work in a very small office.  I'd have to literally walk laps to accumulate steps.  The last time (and only other time so far) I reached my step goal was last Sunday when I ran and rode my horse.  I did the same thing yesterday.  After work I went for a short and totally unproductive ride.  Then I ran 3 miles on the treadmill at the gym.  That's when the buzz happened!  I wanted to do a happy dance, but I wasn't done running yet.  This was my first 3 mile run (treadmill or on land) that I've done without stopping since my half marathon.  I finally feel like I'm getting my running mojo back and it feels good.  Wed night I ran 2 miles and I felt so fabulous.  I wanted to run another mile but I had to get home and changed as we had tickets to the ballgame.  Unfortunately they postponed the game as we were on our way.  Damn them!  I could have ran another mile.  Geesh. 

I'm thinking of doing a 5 and dime challenge in June.  I would run a 10K in the am and a 5K at 5 PM.  Did I post about this already?  I don't remember!  I need another goal so that I keep running.  I have not yet run a race of the 10K distance so this could be fun.  It conflicts with something that I was invited to that day though, so I need to decide what I'm going to do. 

I have decided to keep the fitbit.   I like it enough and while it's not totally accurate I knew that going in.  For example, I think it gave me more distance (that's different than steps) for my run yesterday, but that's ok.   I'm thinking of doing a fitbit challenge.  Where I reach the step goal every day for a certain length of time.  I just don't know - could I do a month?  Whew.  Seeing how little steps I get during a day at work I'm not sure.   I do find the little thing on my wrist to be very motivating though.  I just wonder how long I will be motivated by it?  That's the thing.  Oh - I should say I thought I was having battery issues when it was half uncharged after the first 24 hours of use.  Maybe I didn't charge it enough the first time?  I charged it last Friday night and didn't charge it again till last night.  I don't think I would have had to last night.  When I plugged it in it started the charge with 2 lights (out of 5).  But they say it lasts 5 days and last night was day 6.  I didn't want it to die on me in the middle of the day.  Nor did I want it to die at night cause the sleep stuff is my favorite data to see. :)   But 6 days is really good!  I didn't get any notifications from the app that it needed to be charged.  I read that you will get those when the battery is low.  Of course that's if you have bluetooth on your phone turned on so it can sync. If you don't. . . and say you don't manually sync it for 12 hours - there's no way it can tell you the battery is low.  So while there are these little quirks I do like the little thing!  And boy is the fitbit little.  Kind of impresses me with how small it is. 

Have a great weekend everyone!  Next week I'm going to try to write a post about time anxiety if I can formulate my words in a respectable fashion. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

More fitbit thoughts

So I wore my fitbit all weekend.   I will admit I don't love the rubber type strap.  But I've never been fond of those rubber bracelets that support various causes.  I find them slightly uncomfortable in heat if I sweat at all.   So I knew this going in.  I decided the small strap is the right size.  So if I keep the fitbit I can finally open my 3 pack of straps and swap colors.  I have at tiny 6" wrist, but I thought I might want the extra room from the large strap.  But I realized that the largest setting on the small strap will work just fine for that. 

I was at a graduation ceremony Sat and clapping would throw the fitbit into sleep mode so I took it off. If you didn't know you have to tell the fitbit when you are going to sleep.  You have to rapidly tap the thing till it vibrates and lights up in the sleep pattern.  You have to the same thing in the morning when you wake up.  Or you can use the fitbit app to do these things I think.  You can also apparently enter sleep manually.  I haven't tried either of those last two methods.   I don't love that I have to tell it when I'm sleeping but it's ok.  It works and I think seeing my sleep information is my favorite thing about it. 

I didn't sleep well Saturday night and here are the results.

The other (smaller) info screen says I had 14 mins awake (3x) and 50 mins restlessness (30x).   That's probably very true.   

The fitbit also allows you to set an alarm and it will vibrate at that time.  I did that today, but I'm not sure I know how to turn it off.   I was already awake so it wasn't a good test of whether it would wake me on it's own.   It will only go off twice though, so if you use it you better get up.  I don't think I'll be using it.  Interestingly when I did my research I read that that Jawbone Up will wake you according to your sleep pattern as close to the alarm time as it can.  So basically it won't wake you during REM sleep.   That could be interesting.  I don't pretend to know how long a REM cycle is but I'd be one unhappy person if my alarm went off 20 mins later cause it didn't wake me during REM.  Ha!

So the next photo is a little comparison.  The top is my final information from Sat.  I did not workout that day.  I went to the graduation ceremony. . . then we did photos on campus (which involved a lot of walking to a place that we had a hard time finding). . . then we went to lunch. . . later that afternoon I did a bit of house work, but not much.  So I was more active than a work day for sure, but not a workout day. 

The bottom is yesterday but it is not my final stats.  This was at a random time yesterday evening when I was playing with the app and syncing my data (it's super fast to sync via the bluetooth on my phone!).   So I woke up and did very little for an hour or so. . . I went on a two mile run (after which my total data was over 4K steps and the mileage appeared about right given I accumulated some in the house). . . then I went to the barn to ride my horse. . .   So that's tough cause I realized I got almost the same # of steps as the 2 mile run.  My ride was about 25 mins. . . my run was under 24 mins. . . so it was approx the same amount of time.  I will be the first to say that the idea that I just sit on my horse and he does all the work is false.   So I should get some credit for it.  And again the fitbit has no clue what I did.  Sure I should earn more cals for the run as opposed to the ride. More thoughts on that later.  So then I ran some errands (Target and the grocery store). The fitbit vibrated a crazy happy pattern while I was in Target cause I reached my 10K steps!  *happy dance*   The rest of the day was on and off random things. . . .  

So now let's compare the random moment from yesterday with the final stats from Sat. 

How do I earn more steps, more miles and more "very active" mins and I have about 100 less cals?  IMO that's whacked.   Now my total calories for yesterday were 2,870 so it was "more" than Saturday, but at that moment in time, if my day was over, you mean to tell me I'd burn less cals?  That's a crock of shit!   So I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I posted that photo to fitbit's FB page and am waiting to see what they say.  

Did I mention that you get calories no matter what with fitbit?  It's based on your BMR cause we burn calories just by living.  So you can wake up and have a calorie burn.  I'm totally ok with that. 

Things I need to look into include how to tell the fitbit that I did an activity. Like say you did yoga.  You would want to get cals for that since the step count would be minimal.   I also need to see about syncing MyFitnessPal with fitbit.  Fitbit has it's own way of entering food, but everything I've read says to use MyFitnessPal.  So I will start to do that this week hopefully.  I'm trying to start hardcore being good with my diet later this week.  

Now as for the fitbit not knowing what I did. . . I need to see if I can link a certain time frame of steps to a run for example. But here's what I'm thinking - this is showing me a level of activity. I will not use this as gospel.   I will use it as relative (which is what makes me mad about that last photo above- relatively that's whacked).   I want to use it to make me think about being more active - parking farther away, walking around my office during the day . . .    I think I'm undecided if I'm keeping it simply because of that last photo.  That annoys me more than I can explain I think.   Also I know this counts steps and you can get false data.   Let's say you are talking and moving your hands around.  That will probably give you steps.  Also I've read if you are pushing a stroller or maybe even a shopping cart, that your hand is too still and you won't get steps.  I was conscious of keeping my left hand down and moving while at the store yesterday.  When I was sweeping my kitchen floor yesterday I was sure I was getting steps for each sweep of the broom while I was standing still essentially.  But I'm ok with that because I think that I should get calorie credit for sweeping.  So I think of the steps as more of an ambiguous measurement of activity.   So looking at it that way I'm ok with the flukes in how the fitbit might count a step.  I read that you get a lot of steps for washing your hair!  Well quite frankly I see no need to wear this thing in the shower.  You *can* but I don't see why that's necessary.  I'm not in there for an hour.  I can put it back on when I get out. :)   

So I'm not sure yet whether I'm keeping this thing.  I probably will cause I'm lazy about returning it and I find it kind of fun and addictive to sync throughout the day.  But like I said - that last photo of data just drives me batty.  I hope fitbit replies to my FB post regarding that.    

Happy Monday!  Have a great week. :)   

Friday, May 9, 2014

I jumped on the Fitbit bandwagon

I had been thinking about this for some time.  But I was too stubborn because I felt like they are somewhat of a gimmick.   I know you can't get an accurate calorie count without a heart rate monitor.  And even then - how accurate is it?  I mean I get more calories with my Polar Heart Rate monitor than with my Garmin for the same distance run.    I'm sure there are many algorithms a certain company can use to determine calorie count. 

Well in regards to the fitbit I decided I needed some motivation.   I knew going in that this would be a "relative" thing for me.  I knew that I would look at a pattern of activity and not hard core numbers.  I thought that it would motivate me to move more - to maybe park farther away - that kind of thing.  I was also very interested in the sleep tracking. . .  I was unsure about a wrist model because how can something on your wrist track your steps?   And there are problems with it, but I know that going in.  So I think I have reasonable expectations. 

So there it is!  I got the black model cause I knew I'd want a black strap regardless of the other colors I have.   Target had a deal with a free three pack of straps with purchase.  All my local stores were out so I ordered online. I have the redcard debit card, so I got 5% off, I found a coupon online for $5 off, there was free shipping. . . so I came out with a better deal than I had I bought in the store (cause of the $5 online coupon).   

I should take a moment to say I researched a lot of bands.  The Jawbone Up would have been my band of choice but there was so much online about how they just quit in a couple months. People have been going through 3-4 bands in a year or less!   So I didn't want to have to deal with that.  When I was in KY my friend had a Jawbone Up.  She showed me the interface. She loves it.  But it was her second one.  At that point I didn't question that piece of information, but after reading reviews I think those things just crap out.  Jawbone does not have any quality control clearly.  

So here I am with the Fitbit Flex.  I ordered it Wednesday and it arrived the next day!  I was so excited.  I set it up last night.  Set up was really easy, but there are things I can configure that I haven't yet.  For example the default goal is 10,000 steps.  While I'd love to reach that goal I don't think there is any way I will with a desk job.  But for now I'm leaving it and I'm just going to watch my trends for a few days.  

I put it on last night as I figured it was charged and on (it's not like you can turn the thing off).  So if it's tracking anyways lets track my sleep.  Here are the results:

I was definitely awake at that red line as I got up to use the bathroom.  I'm intrigued by the period of restlessness early on in the night.   I can't wait to see my sleep pattern.   

I will have more to say about the fitbit as I use it.   Since I haven't had it 24 hours I don't feel comfortable saying much more.  Right now the goal is to move more.  For example yesterday when I got to the barn I had to get my horse out of his turnout lot.   The configuration is so stupid in that you have to walk past the whole turnout to get to the gate.   Lately I've been climbing over the fence where ever I see my horse, getting him and then walking to the gate.   Yesterday I didn't hop over the fence.  I walked all the way to the end, through the gate, and back to my horse.   These are the things I'm hoping to improve.   Stop being lazy and MOVE!   I gotta get back under the 200 lb mark.   Even though it's hard to tell I've put on a few lbs and my clothing isn't tight I'd like to get back under that mark. Then I'd like to lose 10-15 more lbs to get back into some of the clothing I was wearing when I had hip surgery.  It's an uphill battle to say the least.  This is just one tool to motivate my lazy bum.  Cause since I ran the half marathon I've been pretty lazy!   (oh - it will be interesting to see what the fitbit records when I am riding my horse!)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's on your keychain?

I had an Albanese gummy bear on my keychain.    Albanese makes the world's best gummy bears!  They have an "A" on their bellies and you can often find them repackaged as a different brand if you have the eagle eyes to notice the A.

I retired my gummy bear keychain after many years for this:

I thought it was a fun little way to keep the memory of my half marathon with me.  Thanks to  Crow Biz Etsy shop for making this!

I kind of went crazy looking for 13.1 stuff after the race. As you know I have the sticker on my car.   Well I also just ordered a necklace from Etsy as well.  I will post that when I get it.  If I get it.  I asked for a variation of a necklace after not being able to find what I wanted.   *fingers crossed*   Now I just need a 13.1 shirt that will fit my fluffy self and isn't cut for a stick thin person. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May is here!

May is here!  That means April is over.  Thank goodness.  I had such a busy April.  I took a lot of days off of work and traveled to KY twice. 

The Wednesday after I did the half marathon I went back to KY.  Lexington this time for the Rolex KY 3 Day Event.  Horse people know what this is and we simply refer to it as Rolex.   Lol.  Which confuses the average person, I now realize.  It's the highest level eventing competition in the US.   Eventing is made up of three phases: Dressage, Cross Country Jumping and Stadium Jumping.  Scores are combined and the lowest score wins.   I attend this event as a member of the press, which sounds much more cool than it is.  I photograph the competition for various publications/websites.  This year we had a group of 7 and were working for various publications.  It doesn't may me a penny though.  I get into the competition for free. I get a lot of free food and some gifts (invariably I get a couple flash drives).   I go because I have fun, I don't have to pay for much other than gas/hotel and I get to shop.  Shop?  Well I don't have many tack shops near me, so Rolex offers the opportunity to see things in real life. I can touch, feel and judge quality.  I can score some bargains - like a half price Kerrits jacket!  *happy dance*

Wanna see a photo that I took? 

That's some majorly big jumping huh? :)  It doesn't get bigger than this level right here.  This is what you see at the Olympics and the World Equestrain Games.  4 star level!   That horse/rider came in 2nd place and was the top scoring US pair.  

So. . . all this traveling has led to some bad eating habits (soda, taco bell, etc) and it's hard to break.  Especially when you come back to work and there is cake one day and doughnuts the next.  I really need to get back on track cause I'm back to my highest weight of the year. :(  I hate that.   I'm really struggling with willpower.  I'm not going to lie.  I'm also dealing with being terribly tired and lazy.   I was cutting my Thyroid medication back because (long story short) it was taking a while to get to me from Canada.  So instead of running out and going days without I was trying to stretch what I had left.  Luckily it came last night, so this morning I had my full dose.   Hopefully I start to feel better by next week.   

I have not ran one step since the half marathon.  I think it's time to decide what I'm doing going forward.  I wanted to try a different Beach Body workout. . . . something to get the weight off of me, as running doesn't do that.  But I also need to keep my cardio going by running here and there cause I do think I'd like to do a half marathon in the fall.  I think. . . . I might be crazy!!!!!!  Ah!   

Now I must confess a disappointment. . . Blogger tells me I had 101 views on my previous post. . . this was half marathon recap.  It was linked from a very popular blog, so I expected a lot of views.  However I'm beyond sad that not one person commented.  Not a "way to go!".  Not a "good job!".   Not a "Congratulations".  Not one thing.  I'm not asking for comments now, but I'm just sad.  That was a major accomplishment for me. I know I have very few regular readers, but that blog got a lot of views and I'm sad I didn't get a single comment.  

Ok enough of the I-feel-sorry-for-myself.  I gotta get my work ethic mojo back and get back into the swing of things at work.  It's hard to do after so much travel.  I'm looking forward to a weekend of nothing coming up.   Have a great day everyone!