Weight weight don’t tell me

In the overall scheme of things, a week is a very short time, and yet, in my life anyway, a lot has changed.

Last week I was ranting how technology was pissing me off (right now autocorrect is pissing me off because it keeps changing pissing to passing), specifically the tomtom Runner Cardio watch I had just purchased, tried, was disappointed with, and returned.

Misfit Shine 2

I picked up a Misfit Shine 2 fitness tracker in its place and I have to say, life is good again. The Misfit Shine 2 is everything I thought it would be (so no disappointments) and it is surprisingly something I didn’t expect it to be.

Sidebar: If an appointment is a planned meeting at a certain time, shouldn’t a disappointment be when you cancel said meeting?

First, it looks sharp. Dare I say, sexy? Compared to the bulky and ugly tomtom. It’s also so light and comfortable, I don’t even notice it’s there.

It’s a watch! What time is it?

Second, it does what it says it should do: tracks steps and monitors sleep, both of which are accessed via the phone app, which though it isn’t an amazing app, it suffices. One interesting thing about the app is, unlike the Garmin or Fitbit, which continuously track your steps all day long (the Misfit also keeps a running total) the Misfit breaks up your activity into segments (based on intensity?) and you can pick what that activity was, like walking, running, cycling, swimming, or yoga, to name just a few options. 
For example, throughout my day it breaks up my activity into my morning walk, my midmorning walk, my lunch walk, my midday walk, and my walk back to my car. 

My midmorning and lunch walks

My only complaint with the app is, unlike Garmin or Fitbit, it doesn’t connect with MyFitnessPal nor to S Health, Samsung’s own fitness app (which is really nice by the way). It does, however, sync up with Lose It! although not as nicely as the interface between say, the Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. So for the moment I’m using Lose It! (but only the free version. I don’t think you should have to pay a monthly subscription to any app).
Third, um, where was I? Oh! The surprise! Remember, the reason I got the tomtom was because it specifically said it could track your treadmill run. That is important to me because I’m a treadmill running fool. Street running is still rather uncomfortable for me at my present weight. 

The Misfit app, I noticed, has this feature called Activity Tagging. You can scroll through icons for running, basketball, cycling, soccer, swimming, or tennis (I’ll let you know how the tennis works later this month when I start practicing with my son for his high school team). You scroll to the activity icon, tap your Misfit three times, and say, “There’s no place like home.”

Activity Tagging

The Misfit then tracks that activity. Supposedly. In theory. I wasn’t sure what to expect since this is pretty much just a basic, if nice looking, step tracker. Well, let me tell you (because that’s what blogs are for), I was totally surprised when I finished my treadmill run using this feature (and you have to tell the app you’re finished by hitting Sync, by the way, or maybe tapping the device again). Not only did it give me my total steps and calories burned, like it does the rest of the time, but it told me how many miles I ran! And it was accurate to the treadmill’s readout to within 0.1 mile! Why did I waste time and money on the tomtom when this does the same thing? Oh, OK, the tomtom had GPS, but the Misfit has sex appeal. 
Yunmai Color Smart Scale

Guess what I just got? Oh, you peeked at the title! Yes, a smart scale!

Yunmai Color Smart Scale

I did a little research, not a lot, just enough to be dangerous and think I knew what I was going. I just wanted a digital scale to replace the old who-knows-how-reliable mechanical spring scale we had. I hadn’t planned on getting a smart scale (I didn’t know it was even a thing), but as I searched on Amazon and checked out reviews, I realized that for around the same price as a digital I could move up to a smart scale.

In the end I chose the Yunmai Color because it was attractive (the blue almost matches our bathroom), but mostly because of the price. It is 3 to 4 times less than the higher end smart scales by Fitbit, Withings, or Under Armour, but it’s price is right in the middle of the rest of the smart scale pack.

And it’s simple enough to use. You download the Yunmai Color app, register (We had a minor problem here. I registered a new account using my email while my wife signed in using Facebook then jumped on the scale first. For some reason her information appeared in my app under my name and it wouldn’t see me as a different user. So I uninstalled the app, reinstalled it, and this time signed in using my Facebook account and this time is gave me my results) and step on the scale, making sure your feet touch the two metal strips. The scale and app connect via Bluetooth. Easy peasy.

The scale, through the app, tracks your weight, as well as your BMI (and autocorrect thinks that should be BMW. I wish) and your percentage of body fat. The very first thing I noticed was on the Yunmai I weighed 5 pounds less than on the mechanical scale. 

I hugged it.

Since before Christmas I’ve been stuck at 210 pounds, give or take a pound due to a shaking needle pointing to barely visible measuring lines that I could never truly see while standing on it. Thus the reason for a digital scale in the first place.

Well, the Yunmai just helped me lose 5 pounds instantly ! It weighed me at 205.6 (all right, for the pedants, that’s 4.4 pounds to be precise). I admit that I know I didn’t lose that weight overnight and it is just showing me a more accurate measurement, and I know that means I’ve been stuck at 205 since before Christmas, not 210, but psychologically, seeing a 5 pound loss after being stagnant for so long, it might be enough to get over this weight plateau. 

So what did I do? Of course! I celebrated by having pizza for breakfast this morning.

Whoohoo! Technology is awesome!

Run. Weigh. Eat a pizza.

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Disclaimer: I do not get paid to endorse or write bad reviews on any product. 

Feel the burn

No, this isn’t a political post and has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. Although, really, folks? Am I the only one who had the squick button pushed everytime I heard “Feel the Bern?” Ick, no! I don’t want to feel him. Go away.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, on with the show!

Over the last year, I’ve been working to get back into running shape, analyzing my technique, what’s working and especially what’s not working. And dieting. 

And did you know one of those large bags of salad in the grocery store is considered a SINGLE serving? I know it’s only 5 ounces, but lordamighty, who can eat that much vegetation in one sitting? One of those bags will last me 2-1/2 days. I put a few handfuls in a Tupperware, then add fat free dressing, a little cheese (maybe a tablespoon or two), and maybe six croutons, and that’s my lunch. I’m satisfied. I can’t imagine trying to eat the whole bag.

Sorry. I digressed. Where was I? Oh, right, learning about, and adapting new techniques to my run.

I’ve changed my stride length, for instance. As a much younger runner, I thought to run fast you had to stretch your legs as far out in front of you as you could reach. Since I never ran track or Cross country in high school, I was never coached and I’ve had to learn as I go. What worked in a resilient and flexible 20-something body doesn’t in a none-of-your-business-how-old-somethjng body.

So over the year, I’ve shortened my stride and in the process went from an extreme heel striker to a mix between slight heel strike and midfoot striker. So instead of landing far out in front of my body, I’m now landing almost directly underneath my body.

Tuesday I decided to experiment again with foot strike. I was going to try to run on the balls of my feet. 

I started at a slower pace, just to get used to it, then slowly increased my tempo as I stayed up on the balls of my feet, not letting my heel make any contact with the surface.

I’ve tried this once or twice over the past year and I would just give up after a few steps. It just didn’t feel right. Almost unnatural. Maybe I wasn’t anywhere near in shape enough (read: way too heavy), but thise previous attempts were labeled as Fail and I figured it just wasn’t for me. After all, we’re all different and what works for one doesn’t work for all.

But this time out, I was determined and was able to stay up on the balls of my feet for a good long while (for me), much longer than I’ve ever attempted.

And it didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable. It felt pretty good, as a matter of fact. There definitely seemed to be less shock when I landed than during my normal foot fall.

So how long did I run on the balls of my feet? Sixteen minutes. That’s about when I started tiring and got sloppy in the execution of my landings. My calves were burning and I had to revert back to midfoot landing for the rest of the run.

When I finished, my lower legs were more tired than normal.

And today? My calves are stiff and sore has Hell. It’s like I’ve never used my calves before. 

Which means I will continue to run on the balls of my feet. It did feel good and if it means I’m working my calves and maybe they’ll start to grow and get ripped and I’ll finally have the muscular calves I’ve always wanted, then the burn is worth it.

Not my calves nor quite what I want

Run. Burn. Ouch.

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tomtom gone gone

In Friday’s blog post, I wrote that I had just purchased a Tomtom Runner Cardio and I detailed my thoughts on it up to that point.

My prime concern at the time was the tomtom wasn’t syncing. I had wasted an evening and an entire next day trying to get it to sync. I tried everything, including unlinking the tomtom from my smartphone, turning off bluetooth, uninstalling the tomtom sport app, shutting down and restarting the smartphone and on and on and on. Nothing worked.

After I got back home that evening, I plugged it into the computer to see if I could get it to sync. I had plugged it into the computer when I first got it to charge it. This time I plugged it in and it started downloading an update, as well as a GPS map. I’m not sure why it didn’t install the update when I first plugged the watch in, but there you go.

After the updates were done installing, I went through the whole process of reinstalling the tomtom sport app, turning on bluetooth, and trying to get the phone and watch to sync.

This time, they synced. Yay!

Now I could play with it. So I went running on my treadmill. The tomtom Runner Cardio seemed to do a pretty good job figuring out my speed and tracked my treadmill run as well as the treadmill itself did. Yay! That was the main reason I bought the watch, because as I said, I do a lot of treadmill running, especially  in the winter.

Two issues down. Now to play with the app itself. Well, let me tell you, the app still sucks. It’s as minimalistic as they come. Maybe that’s because the watch itself is very simplistic, only designed to track running, outside or on a treadmill, so the app has very few features.

Sure it has some great feedback for the run. But it really doesn’t do much else.

Unlike the Garmin or Fitbit phone app, which have several useful features to help you monitor different activities, this pretty much just tracks your heartbeat and your runs.

And with regards to your heartbeat, that never seemed to show up on the app. Ever. It said something that if you wear the watch at least two hours a day, it’ll provide you with a resting heart rate. Or something. But it never did. The app never showed me anything about my heart rate.

It said it was syncing. It did upload my treadmill run info. But the heart? Nothing.

And also unlike the Garmin or Fitbit, syncing wasn’t automatic. You had to have both the app open and menu down on the watch to wake it up in order to sync. Way too much work.

So at this point, I’ve chalked the watch up as a Big Fail as a fitness watch. It doesn’t do step counting, it doesn’t monitor sleep, and the heart rate monitor is questionable at best. Sometimes it wouldn’t read anything when on my wrist, other times it was reading a heart rate of well over 100 when I was supposedly resting. So unless it realized I was stressed over the fact that the watch sucked, it just did not work very well. Additionally, the watch itself was bulky and uncomfortable. Not to mention, the app is a fail as well. Too minimal in feedback to even be useful.

So the bottom line? I’ve returned the tomtom Runner Cardio. I’m not sure I’d even recommend it to people who just want it for running. It was just too unreliable.

And I’ve picked up the Misfit Shine 2 in red. The fitness tracker I should have gotten the first place.

Maybe I’ll post a review. Maybe not. I already know the Misfit phone app is pretty awesome because my wife has the Misfit Ray. And the Misfit Shine 2 is similar in function to the Misfit Ray, it just has a different look to it. Both are very stylish. Both are comfortable and unobtrusive.

misfitspeedoshine2

Misfit Shine 2

I like red.

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2/28/2017 — I completely forgot to add one other point against the tomtom, and I believe it’s something in common with even their popular Spark model: the USB charger dock. 

TomTom Charger Dock

That bulky end piece on the left docks with the watch behind the menu button. I had some trouble getting it to fit, but then it finally clicked on.

No big deal until the watch was done downloading updates and had finished charging and it came time to disconnect.

I pulled and tugged and wiggled it, but nothing. I looked for a hidden tab or anything to indicate how it separated, but it seemed once joined it didn’t want to unjoin.

I was afraid if I used too much force, I’d damage something.

So I Googled how to disconnect the dock from the watch. It appears that is a common problem because there were tons of people asking the same thing.

The answer? Just yank hard.

Yes, well, I finally got it after several minutes of tugging, wiggling, and jerking. And the second time I attached it, removing wasn’t any easier.

So keep that in mind if you’re considering a tomtom Runner or Cardio.

TomTom needs to work on that. What’s wrong with a universal Mini-USB  plug?

Tomtom fail fail so far so far

Technology is really pissing me off.

For example, my Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge this morning had no signal. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch point shit. The signal strength meter was greyed out with a tiny “x” by it, plus the words “Emergency calls only” was displayed along the top.

WTF? I hate this phone. Or I hate Verizon. Or I hate my building. Maybe it’s all part of some dastardly plan by the Cheeto in Cheat to prevent me from responding to his ignorant tweets.

Whatever.

My latest technology related rant is my brand spanking new fitness watch. I only just got it last night and already I’m frustrated as Hell.

It’s a tomtom Runner Cardio  (according to Amazon it’s been discontinued by the manufacturer — yet tomtom’s website shows something amazingly similar for 3x the price I paid. Go figure.).

To be honest, I haven’t even had a chance to run it through its paces yet. I spent the entire evening and again this morning just trying to get the thing TO SYNC UP WITH THEIR GODDAMMED PHONE APP!

But aside from that, what else is giving you buyer’s remorse, I hear you ask. Allow me to count the ways.

1) It doesn’t track steps! Really? I thought that was just a given with any wearable fitness device: they track steps. Not this one. And maybe that’s my fault. I didn’t think to even look for that as a feature when I was reading about it because I assumed that was a standard on all fitness devices. It would be like buying a car and then finding out it doesn’t have a GAS PEDAL. “We find most of our customers are perfectly happy just idling wherever they go.”

2) It doesn’t track sleep. Again, and maybe I’m wrong, but I assumed sleep tracking was another basic for fitness trackers. My Garmin Vivofit monitored sleep. So did my Fitbit Charge HR. My wife’s brand new Misfit Ray also monitors sleep. The tomtom doesn’t. But then, this thing is so bulky, I doubt I could wear it comfortably while I slept. Which brings up reason #3.

3) This thing is “Yuge!” as Benedict Donald would say. It did not look this big in the box at Best Buy when I looked at it. Nor did it seem so massive in the various pictures I looked at, but believe me, it’s so large I can’t even wear it comfortably with a long sleeve shirt; not and be able to button the cuff. In fact, buttoning the cuff squeezes the navigation button on the band and makes the menus change willy-nilly. Also, you can’t simple move the cuff off the watch to look at it. It’s that tight. I mean, the watch part is 1-5/8 inches wide, as is the strap buckle, while the strap itself narrows to a still very wide 1-1/4 inches. I mean, it feels like a massive shackle on my wrist.

Tomtom Runner Cardio

At this point, based on its pure bulk alone, I wish I had gone with the Misfit Shine 2. They are very minimal, unobtrusive, and much more stylish considering they are just a round disc (available in several colors) with tiny lights around the perimeter to indicate your status. And they track steps as well as sleep.

Misfit Shine 2

4) I chose the tomtom specifically because it had a heart monitor, which was a feature I liked of the Fitbit this was replacing. But unlike the Fitbit, which constantly monitored your heart rate and instantly provided feedback with just a tap and a glance, this one seems to take the long way home, forcing you to menu over to the heart rate sensor. Maybe I’m wrong in that. Maybe it does constantly monitor your heart and syncs that info to the phone app except, oh, that’s right, IT ISN’T SYNCING!

And the syncing problem isn’t with the phone, it’s something to do with either the tomtom app, or even the watch itself (maybe it just has a crappy Bluetooth transceiver), because almost every review of the app in the Android Play Store is bitching about, what’s that? Oh, right, SYNCING PROBLEMS!

Are you listening tomtom? Your app is a Piece of Shit!

Nothing pisses me off faster than technology that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

At this point, your probably wondering, Ed, what made you choose this particular fitness watch?

Well, I’ll tell you since you asked so nicely. I chose the Runner Cardio because it is specifically designed to track RUNNING. It has GPS to track your run, provides info on pace and distance, and compares runs, meaning it’ll show you how you did compared to your last run and if you’re beating or losing to yourself. But what really sold me was this can track you on the treadmill.

I do a lot of treadmill running. This is Wisconsin, after all, and we have more bad days than good. A fitness watch that could track me while indoors on a treadmill had me at “Hello.”

But I haven’t run with it yet. I’m still trying to SYNC THE GODDAMMED THING! Maybe once I do run with it the watch will impress me so much I’ll be able to forgive it all its other faults.

Maybe. I mean, a step counter is nice, but I know I average 20,000 steps a day, so I don’t need one for motivation. And a sleep tracker is fun to look at and go, “See? This and this and this were when the effing dogs had to go outside. Bastards.” But again, it isn’t an absolute necessity.

But not syncing? That is a deal breaker and I’m pissed.

SYNC, DAMN YOU!

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Say pineapple

Why is it called a “cold?”

I looked it up and I’d tell you but I forgot already. Mostly it has to do with occurring during the colder months so people associated it with the cold and came to call it a cold.

It’s most likely a rhinovirus I have. It’s kicking my ass. I felt it coming on last Wednesday and my plan was to run that night. I wonder if running would kill it or reduce it?

Supposedly, the virus incubates in your nose because it’s colder (86°F/32°C) in your snoz than the rest of your body which is 98°F/37°C.

Thus I was curious if running would raise the temperature enough to stop it from spreading.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home, the cold was already giving me a runny nose, congestion, a cough, as well as muscular aches, fatigue, headache, and muscle weakness.

I was too pooped to run. I could barely make it up and down the stairs I ached so much.

So I didn’t run. And haven’t run yet.Nor can I focus enough to read or write. So today is day 5 of being held hostage by the rhinovirus.

The big drawback is, supposedly you should lose your appetite. I didn’t! I’ve been hungry all the time. So I snacked and snacked and snacked and imagine I’ve put on holiday-worthy pounds.

The other issue with colds and me is that I cannot take the majority of cold medicines. Even though those don’t really work anyway, at least they reduce your symptoms. Pick up any cold medicine and read the list of Warnings, specifically the “Do not use if you have…” and I have several of those listed.

So the only thing I can safely use is Vicks Vap-o-rub. That and a netipot. Consider yourselves lucky. Most of you can take the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest medicine.

But the worst seems behind me now. Maybe tomorrow I can run. That’ll make it a week since my last run while eating like a pig.

I am not going to weigh myself. I don’t need that kind a negative feedback. I’ll just try to get back on track (no pun intended) with my diet and exercise and count this last week as a bust.

Sorry. I’m done whining now.

Oh, and the title refers to a factoid my youngest son said, that if someone is going to sneeze, say “pineapple” and they won’t.

Run. Cough. Sniff.

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Review Puma Mobium Elite V2

Ok, I know I promised a review of my Puma Mobium Elite V2 running shoes months ago. If you’ve actually been waiting for it, I apologize. But here it is. I hope the wait was worth it.

First, we’ll get the disclaimer out of the way. I have not been compensated for this review (but if you would like to send me a check, feel free). Nor am I affiliated with Puma or any running shoe company or store. I do admit, however, that I have always had a thing for Puma, although the last pair I actually used for running was in 1984.

There. That was relatively painless. 

I’ve had my pair of Puma Mobium Elite V2 running shoes for several months now. My first impressions of them were that they were lighter and more flexible than either my Brooks Adrenaline or my Saucony Grid Cohesion  (now retired to walking shoes), but they also had less cushioning.

Now, months later, I run almost exclusively in the Puma Mobiums. The pair I have aren’t for heel strikers, at least not extreme heel strikers, yet they’ve become more and more comfortable with each run. Maybe I adjusted my stride a little to become more of a midfoot striker, but that’s been an ongoing process and not something forced upon me by the shoe.

Also, considering I have flat feet and overpronate, I haven’t had any foot or joint pain despite the fact that these are more minimal than anything I’m used to. 

The soles have a rubber band (Mobium band) that Puma claims stretches as the foot flexes then releases all that kinetic energy when you push off. In effect, its supposed to be like snapping a rubberband. I don’t know if it does or not but I will admit that it felt like my step was springier on my outdoor runs, as if I was a little lighter.

The soles also have an arch in them where the Mobium band crosses in its figure 8 shape (see second picture below). I’m going to assume this absorbs some of the shock of your foot strike whereas other companies use thicker cushioning material to insulate your foot.

Additionally, Puma says the sole is designed like a cat’s paw. Sure. Ok. You can see the sole pictured below. I don’t know if they provide more grip as claimed, but they do seem very flexible.

The toe box is roomy, both width-wise and in front and my toes don’t feel crammed in there, nor do they rub against the front like they do with some shoes. Puma claims the shoe fabric conforms to your foot somehow. Adaptive running they call it. I don’t know if it does but I didn’t get that pinched feel across the top of my foot I get with other shoes.

To be honest, when I bought these my expectations were very low. All my other so-called running shoes from Puma were anything but made for running. They were more fashion than function. I was worried the Puma Mobiums would also turn out to be just another pair of good looking walkers. But I was pleasantly surprised to find these are an actual honest-to-goodness pair of running shoe and, despite the cool colors, aren’t just a fashion statement.

The Puma Mobium Elite V2 are now my go-to running shoes and I use them for the majority of my runs, preferring them to my Brooks Adrenaline, which had been my previous go-to shoes.

I’m happy Puma is finally concentrating on R&D in their running shoe development instead of relying on their marketing department.

If you’re looking for a comfortable, light weight trainer, then consider looking at a pair of these.

Run. Buy new shoes.Run some more.

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To sleep perchance to dream

I am so not a morning person. I might have mentioned this previously. To me, morning is for sleeping and you shouldn’t have to get up until the sun has warmed everything. 

I’d much prefer staying up late. It’s just how I’m wired, although as I’m getting older I can’t stay up as late as I once did and still expect to function at work in the morning. 

Yet, even going to bed earlier because I can’t stay up as late hasn’t made me a morning person. It’s just made me a tired night person.

This is all a lead-in to my present dilemma. 

Am not a morning person, so I run in the evenings. Always have. Problem that I’m seeing just recently, in the last month or so, is that after my evening run, I can’t fall asleep!

This bothers me because I have never had insomnia nor have my evening runs ever prevented me from sleeping. On the contrary, my evening runs exhausted me and I’d fall into an immediate, sound sleep.

Not lately, however. Now I find myself lying awake in bed tossing and turning. Some of it might be hormones like Adrenaline coursing through my veins, while some could be that my muscles and joints start to ache if I stay in one position too long, which forces me to change position, waking me up.

So my preamble to this was to demonstrate that switching my runs to the morning is a no go. That isn’t going to happen. Morning runs aren’t productive for me. I’m exhausted and can’t push myself the way I can in the evening, therefore I don’t improve.

Now, as an aside, I’m not one to take medication unless I have to (like the ones my doctor prescribes to keep me alive). I rarely take aspirin, but then I rarely get headaches. And the few times I’ve been prescribed pain medication, I’ve only used it if the pain became a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10.

For example, I had my wisdom teeth, all four, removed as a teen. The dentist gave me a bottle of pain killers. I never used them. In fact, I was eating popcorn that night. I will not be denied my popcorn!

The other night, however, Tuesday it was, I decided to try some Ibuprofen PM. Pain medication with a sleep aid. Now I have never in my life taken a sleep aid. Never. I’ve always had a fear of them. Of getting addicted. Of not getting real REM sleep. Of becoming one of those zombie-like people who are alternating between amphetamines and barbituates.

But I thought I’d try it just this once.

And it worked. I slept through the night. I had no joint pain and my brain took a break. Although the sleep aid did nothing for the dogs, they still had to get up, completely uncaring that I was now groggier than normal to put them out for their 1:00 AM piss.

The next morning, I woke refreshed without the usual joint stiffness I experience these days after exercise. I didn’t hobble down the stairs, groaning and grimacing.

So what did I learn? 

I’m not sure. I run again tonight and I’ll try the Ibuprofen PM again tonight and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Maybe just using it on run days I won’t get addicted?

Or is there something else I could do to help me sleep?

Do you take pain meds/sleep aids after exercise? How is that working for you? I’d like to know if I’m in the minority here. Or if I’m being overly paranoid.

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