Tag Archives: UP

The Chihuahua Effect

Fitness is important in our house. I’ve written in previous blogs how my husband and I both wear the UP Band by Jawbone to track our daily activity. Since then I have added four more people to my team on the UP app and we’re all ‘competing’ to be the most active.  (No one will say it, but we all secretly want to beat everyone else).

The UP app gives you a base goal of 10,000 steps to reach each day. It’s really not that easy, especially if you’re not into cardio. A gut busting boot camp or weight session barely makes a dent in your daily step goal. Doing 100 push-ups is pretty impressive but since it doesn’t give you any steps, it doesn’t help in your daily feat to win the step game.

The people on my team who run, hike or take daily walks are the ones who are the lead steppers. I do cardio about four days a week and these are the days that I easily reach anywhere from 12,000 to 17,000 steps by the end of the day. I have an advantage over most of my teammates when it comes to topping the stepper chart on my cardio days.  I call it the ‘chihuahua effect’.

chihuahua-and-big-dogPhoto credit: http://www.chihuahuawardrobe.com/is-it-safe-to-raise-a-chihuahua-around-larger-dogs/

I’m 5 feet tall and my husband stands at 5’6″.  When we go on a weekend hike, we travel the same distance, but time after time I end up with significantly more steps than he does.

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This doesn’t go over very well with him most of the time. I really can’t blame him! He traveled just as far. He worked just as hard.

After each hike he will ask me how many steps I took and as he’s groaning I will say (with much pleasure), “It’s the chihuahua effect”. Simply: He has longer legs. He has a longer stride. I have to take more steps to keep up. We figured that I take about one and one-quarter to one and one-half steps for every one of his. This adds up over time.

Below, my stats are on the left, and my husband’s are on the right. (Somehow it shows he traveled farther than I did. This happens a lot when we use RunKeeper).

My stats His stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the course of continuous activity for an hour the UP band calculated I took about 600 more steps than he did. So what does this mean over the course of an entire day?

Well, it’s hard to say exactly because we didn’t walk everywhere together. However we did take pretty similar paths. At the end of the day I ultimately took about 1,200 more steps than he did. (Again, I’m on the left).

His final stats My final stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does all this mean exactly?

Well, not much really.

For me it’s one reason to be thankful for my very short legs. Is this fair to all my tall teammates?  Sure!

The New UP App (Try saying that 10 times fast!)

I’ve had my Jawbone UP band for just about a year now, and of the 3 activity tracking bands I own, it’s my favorite so far.

Jawbone just introduced the UP24, the wireless version of the UP band (sold for $20 more – $149.99) and the new 3.0 UP App. While I’m not about to run out and get the new band yet, I’ve been playing around with the new app for about a week and want to let you know what I’ve found so far.

Last week I received an email telling me about the update and in very general terms what to expect.

The first change is the “Today I Will” Challenge and Milestones. The email said, “What will you achieve today? New insights help you conquer daily goals and celebrate meaningful milestones. Small changes today add up to big achievements over time.”

This excited me! I love a challenge and more importantly I love to conquer it. My excitement began to dwindle though because it turns out that you have to wait for the app to prompt the daily challenge. Total bummer! About 4 days later (after my update) I was finally prompted.

My first challenge was to add 500 steps to my biggest stepping day since my app update. I was asked if I would accept the challenge of moving 13,868 steps the next day. Challenge accepted! I like how the app keeps track of how many steps I still need to take.

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It took a little extra effort to conquer the challenge on this particular day. It was a Wednesday after all, and usually it’s a struggle just to get to my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I felt pretty good about this.

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So on to the next challenge!  Wait…what? You’re asking me to do the same challenge tomorrow? I wasn’t expecting this, but OK. Challenge accepted…again. So I clicked the ‘Tomorrow’ button. photo

Challenge conquered, again! Yippee! Again, it took a little extra effort, but it was worth it to get this little pat on the back.

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Now on the the next challenge! Wait…what? You’re offering me the same challenge a third day in a row? Sorry, ‘No Thanks’.

I declined the challenge, but wasn’t offered another one yet. It’s a little disappointing, but it’s just an app after all.

My husband received a different challenge: to drink 8 glasses of water that day. I love how the app keeps track of your progress!

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And of course, after completion of his challenge, he got a little pat on the back too!

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Of course after he completed his challenge, he was offered the SAME challenge again the next day. I suppose the app is trying to create habits with the repetitive challenges, which is good, but where’s the element of surprise?

Another change to the app is the activity log. I like this!

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Just scroll up and it gives you a list of your recent data. This is just YOUR data. When you have a ‘team’ like I do, everyone’s activity shows up on your ‘timeline’ similar to a Facebook newsfeed. The activity log is just like your home page. Your recent data at a glance.

The last change worth mentioning is the sleep recovery mode. Raise your hand if you occasionally forget to set you band to ‘sleep’ mode. Me, Me! Just last night in fact! The updated app lets you easily recover your sleep summary and even breaks down your light and deep sleep just as if you had set it. Awesome!

All in all I think the new app has a lot of great potential. I was a little disappointed with the repetitive nature of the challenges, but who knows, it could really help someone else. I also wish I could prompt the challenges instead of having to wait for the app to get around to it. I do appreciate the beautiful graphs and the occasional pat on the back though.

I can’t expect too much from it. It is just an app after all!

Things That Make You Go “HUH?”

Life gets crazy, and my husband and I like to jet off in our RV whenever we can and enjoy a little ‘together time’. We take a daily fast paced ‘together time walk’ while we’re on the road to keep the blood flowing. Our goal is usually 3-4 miles.

We started using RunKeeper to log our walks mainly because this app is compatible with the UP band (which we still wear daily and love).  RunKeeper is awesome because it sends the map right to our UP apps, and well, we think that’s pretty cool! We started noticing however, that RunKeeper thinks he’s walking faster and farther than I am, when we are in fact walking side by side the entire way.

Below are our maps from a particular day in July. My map is on the left and my husband’s is on the right. We pretty much walked around the campground and retraced our steps somewhat, which explains the thicker lines.

If your mind works anything like mine, you’re thinking, what the heck was he doing?
I swear we were walking side by side. He was even walking straight! So what are all those loop-dee-loops on his map? Heck if we knew!

Karen's Wayne's

So RunKeeper gives my husband credit for going .19 miles farther than me, which I decided to round up to 1/4 mile because I want to embellish a little. It  doesn’t matter what the real number is because the whole thing doesn’t make sense. This is a GPS app. We walked the same distance.

The maps from a few days later are below. This time we walked a little faster and therefore went a little farther in about the same time. My map is on the left. Once again, my lines are nice and straight. I think I would get an ‘A’ if this were kindergarten class.

Wayne's map My walk

My husband’s map is on the right. Clearly, he would not get an ‘A’. On this day, RunKeeper says he went .21 miles farther than I did, or 1/4 mile according to my calculations. Again, we were walking side by side.

On our next trip, we used RunKeeper again and got a similar result. The maps are below. I am on the left and my husband is on the right.

Wayne's map

My mapHis map here is not as convoluted as the previous ones. This time, though, RunKeeper says he walked .38 miles farther than I did! This is over 1/3 mile!  This is getting ridiculous! I suppose if the app showed that I was the one traveling farther and faster I’d feel happy. The one thing I have going for me is the UP app estimates that I consistently take 500 more steps than he does during the course of 3 1/4 miles. (I call this the Chihuahua Effect. My stride is shorter so I have to take more steps. Works for me!)

Map My Fitness photo

The next day we used a different GPS app just to see. Map My Fitness is also compatible with the UP app, but it’s our second choice because it doesn’t send the nice map to UP that RunKeeper does. Instead we see a picture of a little man in motion. It’s just not as fun.

We took exactly the same route as the day before, but for some reason Map My Fitness gave us both credit for going about 1/10th of a mile more. Again, though, it suggests my husband still walked farther than I did. (More than 1/3 mile). A different app, but the same overall result.

On our last day of this trip my husband decided to carry his phone in his pocket for most of our walk, (previously he carried it in his hand). Holy cow! This is what made the difference. This time RunKeeper suggested he only walked .06 miles more than I did.

We decided that it’s the way my husband walks that affects the apps. He suffers from what I call ‘Excessive Arm Swing Syndrome’. Should an excessive arm swing really affect a GPS app? How many others suffer from the same disorder and think they’ve traveled farther than they really did? How many fictional miles is this across the population? How many fictional calories have been burned?  My head is spinning because there’s so much to think about!

We appreciate the data and laughs RunKeeper has given us. I’m anxious to use this GPS app with additional activities to see if we can uncover our other disorders!

Keep moving, keep laughing, keep fit!

PS – Many thanks to my husband for allowing me to have a little fun at his expense.

Fitbit Flex – Update

The Fitbit Flex - pretty packaging

The Fitbit Flex

I got my Fitbit Flex on Mother’s Day, May 12th and I encountered my first functional problem with it on Father’s Day, June 16th. That’s only 5 weeks later. This is a record I didn’t want to set! I realize that gadgets go wrong, but I felt a little sad, nonetheless. The biggest question is, how did Customer Service respond?

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I also have a Nike FuelBand and a Jawbone UP, and I love both for different reasons.  I had to contact Customer Service for both of these devices and was very impressed with their responses on both counts.

My first impression was that the Flex band would give the UP band a run for it’s money. They are very similar in function and the Flex is $30 cheaper.  But then, a product is only as good as the Company that stands behind it.  When things go wrong, I expect the company to step up, don’t you?

My Experience

Here’s what happened with the Fitbit Flex

I set my Flex for sleep mode before going to bed on Sat., June 15th by tapping the face rapidly for a few seconds.  A gently vibration signaled that the band changed settings.

Upon waking on the 16th I went to tap it rapidly again, but nothing happened.  I plugged it in to charge, but nothing lit up. The battery appeared dead and showed no signs of charging.

As I was scouring the Fitbit website for troubleshooting tips, I received an email that my Fitbit battery was low.  A nice feature if it arrives in a timely manner.  This was a little too late.

I found troubleshooting tips and followed them all. Nothing worked.

Contacting Customer Service

To contact the support team, you have to email them your problem.  Almost immediately they do send you back an automated response acknowledging you. Their response also contains this statement: “We do not currently offer live phone or chat support, but our support team is here to help seven days a week”. Yes, they said 7 days a week!

3 days later they responded to my email. I think this is a long time. It’s not just me, right?

In their response they restated all the troubleshooting tips I already tried.  In addition, they included one other tip: Clean the sensors of the tracker and charger with a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol. This actually worked!

Fitbit Help Page

So I went back to the website to check if this tip was there, and yes, somehow I missed it.  (Hey, I’m not proud! I will admit when I’m in error!) But if I missed it, how many others might miss it too?

It’s on the very bottom of the Help page, but the way that page is set up, it can easily be overlooked. The Help page is a very general troubleshooting page for ALL of their devices.  I think they should have a separate page for each specific device, with contains every tip for each specific device.  This would be very helpful to me.

My thoughts at this point

Truth be told, I am happy that my problem is fixed, but extremely annoyed at the same time. If Customer Service claims to be available 7 days a week, it shouldn’t take them 3 days to respond to a simple email request.

All in all, I still like my Fitbit Flex and am happy to be wearing it again. My favorite part is the gentle vibration it makes when you hit your step goal for the day. It gives me a feeling of joy. It’s the little things!

Now if they just improve the bigger things…

I Need Some ZZZ’s! – A Look at the Sleep Tracking Abilities of the UP and Fitbit Flex

I would love to sleep 8 hours a night. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Sleep is so precious! And it’s very important for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss. One of the reasons I love activity tracking devices is they give me an overall picture of my total well being, including my sleep pattern.

Before I wore both the UP and the Fitbit Flex I thought my sleep was horrible. Well, I still kind of feel that way, but they tell me a slightly different story. The fact that the two devices agree with each other, for the most part, makes me feel a little better about my sleep. Hey, I might feel tired and sluggish, but the graph shows I slept well! The power of positive thinking goes a long way, or at least until nap time!

What Exactly do they Tell You about your Restful Night?

(I have an iPhone 4s and all information here is based on the iPhone apps).

The graphs show the same particular night’s sleep.  The UP is on the left, the Flex on the right.

UP Sleep Graph.  The dark blue estimates deep sleep, the light blue estimates light sleep, and the orange shows getting up and moving around.

UP Sleep Graph.
The dark blue estimates deep sleep, the light blue estimates light sleep, and the orange shows getting up and moving around.

The Flex Sleep Graph. The dark blue shows sleep. The light blue shows being awake and the red shows being restless.

The Flex Sleep Graph.
The dark blue shows sleep. The light blue shows being awake and the red shows being restless.

The Breakdown

The UP App

  • The graph is easier to read and gives a lot of detailed information.
  • I really can’t argue with any of it, except it says I woke up 2x. I really got up 2x, but woke up many more times without actually getting up. The app tends to show your awake time as light sleep.

The Flex App

  • The graph leaves a lot to be desired compared to the UP. It’s very general.
  • The only specifics it gives is how long you slept and how many times you woke up.  On this particular night it says I woke up 9x. This is very sad, but probably true!
  • The Fitbit website is more impressive than the app. The website will also tell you your sleep efficiency. (The % of time you spend in bed that you’re asleep). On this particular night my sleep efficiency was 93%. Not bad IF it’s true! Still, I wish all the info. available on the website was available in the app as well!

Despite the Differences, Both were very Similar in Estimating Total Hours Slept

  • 50% of the time they reported total time slept within 6 minutes of each other. This is pretty impressive to me as I generally lie awake for at least an hour every night.
  • For the most part, the Flex told me I slept longer than the UP.

3rd Party Apps

There are 3rd party sleep apps that you can sync your devices with to supposedly improve your experience. Once linked, your device automatically sends your sleep data to the app.  Here’s the scoop on what I found.

Sleepio for the UP

Sleepio is a 6 week program ‘clinically proven’ to help you overcome poor sleep. You don’t have to have an activity tracking device to use this program, but it does import your sleep data if you do.

They give you a one week free trial. After filling out a questionnaire about your lifestyle habits, you are directed to your first interactive session with The Prof (who is animated and has a dog named Pavlov). This session lasts around 20 minutes, clarifies your goals and explains how the program works. Near the end of the session, The Prof creates a case file for you like the one below.

This is my Case File after my free Sleepio session

This is my Case File after my free Sleepio session

You can only have one session with The Prof per week, so to continue the program you must upgrade. Prices range from $10 per week, to $80 for the entire course with a 12 week access, to $120 for a 24 week access.

You set your own goals, but their goal for you is to get your sleep efficiency to at least 90%. Since mine is shown here at 92%, I really can’t justify continuing.

The program also includes an extensive library of links to articles on sleep and an online sleep deprived community who support one another.

I’m not panning this app at all. It might be helpful to some people, but not to me at this time.

SleepDebt for Fitbit Flex

This description of SleepDebt is taken directly from the website.

“SleepDebt connects with your Fitbit to analyze your sleep data and debt. Set what time you want to wake up and how many hours of sleep you are aiming for per night, and the site will let you know what time you should go to sleep. Each night, it helps you catch up on your sleep, until you clear your sleep debt. We encourage you not to try to catch up all at once, so the site will only recommend 30% of your sleep debt at a time. Catch up on your sleep finally!”

So I input my information, and this is what came back:

After telling SleepDebt I want to aim for 8 hours sleep as well as catch up on my 'debt' a little, they suggested I go to bed before 7 pm.

After telling SleepDebt I want to aim for 8 hours sleep as well as catch up on my ‘debt’ a little, they suggested I go to bed before 7 pm.

They suggest I go to bed before 7 pm?  This is not helpful. I’m not impressed at all.

Usually I give sit-UPS on a scale of 1 to 5 to rate things.  This app doesn’t even make the sit-UP scale.  I’m giving it a DOWNward Dog. Sorry SleepDebt!

The ReCap

I like having a visual of my sleep in the form of a graph.

Do I believe I sleep as well as they say? Not usually.

Does it make me feel better to see that I actually did sleep when I think I didn’t? Absolutely!

The sleep tracking abilities are far from perfect but I find them helpful.  I love that the 2 devices, made from different companies, give me a very similar picture of my sleep.  Although I do prefer the UP app over the Flex, they both do a pretty good job.

The 3rd party apps don’t seem helpful to me, but perhaps to someone!

Until next time, wishing you sweet dreams and uninterrupted sleep!

What’s UP with the UP Band by Jawbone?

I got the UP band in December, 2012. Granted, I had been wearing the Nike+ FuelBand for 6 months. But the UP promised to be different. Maybe even better. More features and less   money?  Sold!

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What is it?

  • A wristband you can wear 24/7
  • Comes in 8 colors: onyx, mint green, blue, light gray, navy blue, red, orange, hunter green
  • Comes in 3 sizes: small, medium, large
  • Compatible with Apple iOS devices (5.1+) and Android (4.0+)
  • Price tag: $129.99

What does Jawbone say the UP does?

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The home screen shows progress of sleep, activity, and meals throughout the day.

         Band + App + You = the UP System

  • The band tracks your movement  and sleep
  • The app displays your data
  • You add things like meals and mood
  • The result = insight into YOU

The Features are Numerous! Here are some that initially peaked my interest:

  • Tracks sleep – light vs. deep sleep and waking moments
  • Tracks activity – distance traveled, calories burned, both active & idle time
  • Tracks food & drink
  • Smart alarm – wakes you at the right moment in your sleep cycle so you feel refreshed
  • Idle Alert – gently vibrates if you’re idle too long
  • 10- day battery life
  • Water resistant

My Experience – Does it Deliver?

What I like Most

(Click on the images for an enlarged view)

The UP App

Graphs and Logging Workouts

The graphs in the app are pretty amazing and give you quick insight into what you’re doing all day (or night).  Take a look at the middle graph. The long orange bars near the end of the day indicate my run. I was able to log it as a workout afterwards. That action produced the 3rd graph which gives details about my run.

Also, unlike the Nike+ FuelBand, you can log and get credit for non-step-based activities including yoga, spin, weights and so much more. (Sorry Nike, they beat you out on this big time).

And this just in: The UP app is now compatible with popular weight loss apps. You can link your accounts through the UP Ap.

Tracking Food & Drink is a Snap!

Logging food is an important part of a weight loss journey and the UP app makes it so easy. It has a massive food data base, and also the option to scan the bar code on an item’s package to input the nutrition info. – Cool!

Adding Teammates to your App Makes it fun!

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I got my husband an UP for his birthday and we’ve been in a friendly competition ever since.

When you add Teammates you can view their activity as well as your own. But don’t worry, you don’t have to share everything.

Here is our activity on a particular day.

Oh, so close!

Long Battery Life

The UP does have an impressive battery life and averages 8-9 days. It also sends a reminder on your phone to charge it when you’re within the last two days of battery life.

Excellent Customer Service

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to talk about contact customer service at this point, as I’ve only had the band for 5 months. However, about 4 months in, the battery wouldn’t hold a charge for even a day.

I contacted Customer Service by email and I had a brand new UP on my wrist within a week. I was super impressed! No hassles at all.

What I don’t Like

Power Nap Feature

This feature is suppose to wake you at the optimal time, anywhere from 25-45 minutes after you fall asleep, so you feel refreshed.  I tried it twice, you know, for research.  Well, it’s true there’s no sleeping on the job.  Both times it gently vibrated 25 minutes from the time I set it. There is too much pressure to fall asleep so fast and actually get some shut eye in such a short time. This feature doesn’t work for me.

No Visual LED Display

Checking your progress throughout the day isn’t as easy with the UP as with the Nike+ FuelBand. There is no display you can see when it’s on your wrist. You have to take it off , plug it into your phone, and wait for the data to upload. This is a drawback for the impatient.

Is the Sleep Data Really Accurate?

If you generally lie awake at night for hours on end, like I do, I think the UP will paint a much brighter picture of your ‘restful’ night. Unless you actually get out of bed, the UP tracks the time you’re lying there awake as light sleep. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see the breakdown of your sleeping pattern.

The ReCAP

All in all, I love this band.  It has more features than I’ve shared here. It has features I haven’t even used yet. In my opinion, the strengths greatly outweigh the weaknesses. It’s a motivator in getting enough activity in each day and it’s really fun to add and compete with teammates. Although the sleep feature isn’t perfect, it is helpful.  The bottom line is that this little band can aid in leading a more balanced life.

On a scale of 1-5

I give the UP 4.0 sit-UPS