tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

29Dec/160

Vacations and Loose Skin

Vacation wise, this has probably been one of my healthiest yet. My wife’s side of the family is very health conscious, so the food is healthy and in reasonable proportions, and everyone works out pretty much daily. There is also an adorable little niece who we hand off chasing duties to, meaning someone in the house is always responsible for following her around as she runs around and making sure she doesn’t bang her head on anything. It’s a running joke by now that she’s helping me get my daily steps in. Just now this blog was interrupted by following her around for 10 minutes, running after her, and occasionally sitting down to read half of a book.

Maybe it’s the mirrors here, or maybe it’s a weight loss, but I’m noticing some loose skin. The skin around my belly button is starting to sag a bit on each side. Just a bit. But I had my wife look at it, and she agrees it looks like loose skin.

I was hoping to avoid this. I was hoping I wasn’t too far gone, but the stretch marks that I’ve had for years likely speak against that. But it’s funny in that it’s both a positive and a negative. It’s something to celebrate and something to worry about. It means I’m making serious progress. But it’s also an unpleasant side effect of this whole process. It means I may need to have surgery, or do some special exercises to work on this. It means that I was working towards a place where I’d feel comfortable being shirtless in a pool, and now realizing I’m liking actually moving AWAY from that.

But it does mean progress. It does mean health. It does mean I’m moving in the right direction. It’s a funny little victory there.

28Dec/160

Apple Watch First Impressions

A few weeks ago, thanks to an unexpected bonus and a good Black Friday sale, my wife and I picked up a pair of Apple Watches. I’ve worn it every day since purchasing it and thought I’d share some early thoughts.

It hasn’t radically changed my life

Simple fact of the matter there. It’s a lovely little thing, but truthfully my habits and whatnot haven’t largely changed since purchasing it. I’ve been on a good weight loss trend, and this hasn’t really arrested or helped that, I think. Certainly hasn’t hurt. It’s nice being able to track my workouts a bit better and have a more accurate idea of my calorie burning thanks to the heart rate monitor, but it hasn’t made me workout more or less. There’s nothing I can really do that I couldn’t do before.

But mind you, the same can be said of the iPad when I first got it. There was nothing I could do on that that I couldn’t technically do on my iPhone. But there was lots it encouraged me to do, like read more, read the paper, etc. There are still plenty of activities I just generally won’t do if I don’t have my iPad with me. 

And with the Watch I could see the same happening, particularly if I didn’t already have a workout schedule going. I am more likely to quickly respond to texts and messages I find, partly because I can do so quickly from my watch, and because I’m more likely to see them. So far this hasn’t proven a hindrance to me. It doesn’t bug me to get the notifications. I can very easily dismiss them from the watch or ignore them. That’s been nice!

The Good

It’s a pretty little thing, for sure. I can change my watch face at will between something fun like a Mickey Mouse face (WHICH ANNOUNCES THE TIME WHEN I TAP HIM OMG GUYS) and a more informative one. My default has generally been one that has the weather report, time, my current activity levels and a quick button for the Breathe App.

That is probably my favourite feature of it. The watch has an app called Breathe, which takes you through a short, one minute, guided meditation at will. The guidance is minimal - just some taps to breath in and out and a quiet bell when you’re done, but it’s something I can do. It tracks how often you do it throughout the day, and gives you a summary at the end of the week, as well as tracking your heart rate through the exercise.

For me really the tracking has been the most fun and useful part. It tracks how many calories I burn through movement, how much exercise I get each day, and how often I go an hour without standing. It has metrics for these things and as you complete them you fill 3 “rings”, which is the main activity tracking. You get updates throughout the day on how you’re doing.

Now these don’t always seem to be the most accurate. It counts basically any time I’m walking anywhere as “exercise” and anytime I stand up as “movement.” I can fill the exercise bar easily (which is set at 30 minutes, which you can’t change) even on the weekends just by moving around my house and going up and down the stairs in a normal way. The fact that I can fill it so easily seems to defeat the purpose, though I’ve read reports from others where it doesn’t seem to get filled up for them at all, even on a long walk. The “movement” bar seems easy to fill as well, though that’s adjustable, but I always very easily fill that one.

Despite their flaws, I LOVE having this tracking ability and being able to look back over the month. All this data is synced to my iPhone for viewing and review. It even tracks my heart rate throughout the day and syncs that, minute by minute. I’m not sure how accurate it is always - I think it depends partly on how tight the watch it and how it’s sitting on my wrist - but it’s fun to have the trends anyway.

Using it to pay also feels very futuristic. I’ve used ApplePay on my phone before but it feels much cooler on the watch, I’ve gotta say. 

The Bad

I don’t have a lot of BAD to say, honestly. The battery is solid (I’ve yet to run out of battery in a given day, and for example now I’m sitting at 46% at 6pm on a normal day, having gotten up at 5:45am). The interface is fine - it could be better, but I’m not sure how, and making a useable and intuitive interface on a tiny touch screen is no mean feat. I had it all down within a day or two of messing around. I wish there was a different way to browse apps on the Watch, but that’s about the worst I would say.

Mostly I’d say my main problem is there aren’t a ton of apps for it, and that feels like wasted potential. There’s a fun workout app called CarrotFit that guides you through workouts, pinging your wrist when it’s time to switch movements and giving you a visual on how to perform the workout on your watch screen, and it’s great, but I feel like there could be something that counts my pushups or something like that. 

 

Overall, it’s a great device, and I’m glad I bought it. It won’t change my life, but it does…smooth it out a bit, if that makes sense.