Monday, August 11, 2014

Wired up and ready to go

FitBit and Timex Ironman on my left, Road ID and Polar
heart strap readout on my right. Hmmm, clowns to the left
of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
When I prepared to go for a run this morning, I strapped a heart monitor around my chest, the heart monitor readout and a Road ID bracelet on my right wrist, a Timex Ironman watch and a FitBit Flex on my left wrist.

The heart monitor strap/readout (a birthday gift from my sister) displays my heart rate and keeps track of calories burned, highest heart rate and average heart rate. The Timex records the time it took to take my run and the split times if I know where my mile marks are. The FitBit Flex (a birthday gift from my son and daughter) records steps as well as route taken, number of miles, active minutes and calories burned.

And the Road ID bracelet helps identify me - and find my wife - if I drop dead during my workout. (Seriously, during a vacation a few years ago in Delaware, a vulture followed me around during one of my runs.)

Being so wired up enables me to gather a lot of data about my workouts. And I’m a geek in that regard. That’s what happens after years of working as an operations director for a newspaper company where measurement of performance of various pre-press, press, and post-press  functions is an important part of the job.

It all begs the question: Why?

In my effort to keep this body of mine functioning for as long as possible, I use the data to gauge how all my 61-year-old original equipment - back, knees, hips, shoulders, etc. - is doing relative to fitness, weight, and assorted aches and pains.

I can gauge what kind of workout to have on a particular day - light, medium or heavy - based on the kinds of workouts I had the previous days. And I can calculate when I might be able to cheat on my calorie intake with an extra beer or two, or maybe a bowl of ice cream, or even a plate of Buffalo wings.

There is some question as to the effectiveness of some of this technology, however. Being wired up and ready to go doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere when it comes to overall health..

NBC’s Today Show, for example, had a report recently that FitBit users were gaining weight.

The problem is one of false positives. My FitBit tells me how many calories I’ve burned and how many calories I can afford to eat with an eye toward losing weight. But if you’re eating the wrong kinds of calories, you’re going to gain, not lose, weight.

So for today, I’ve had a Greek yogurt and fresh blueberries - coming in at about 100 calories. With the 1,492 calories I’ve burned thus far, according to FitBit, I have 2,113 calories left in my bank to consume for lunch, dinner, snacks, etc.

The Today Show report said: “Weight loss is more an art than a science. While we might like to think it’s a simple calculation of calories in and calories burned, most of us have numerous, fluctuating variables in our personal weight-loss equation.”

If a consume 1,000 of my banked calories with high salt, high fat, high sugar food, I’ll be on the wrong side of all this technology.

Could I live without all these gadgets? Sure. But it’s helpful that the data tells me where I’ve been (literally, the GPS unit on the FitBit maps where I’ve been) and gives me a good idea of where I need to go.

Digg this

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