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New Year, New Start?

Posted by Chalky on Jan 4, 2012 in Random

Well, after over a year of silence, I felt a little compelled to finally write something here! I’m not going to bother making excuses as to why there’s been no updates here! I’m not going to try and condense everything that’s happened over the past year into a massive catch-up post like I have in the past. I might do some posts looking back at certain things if and when I get the time/can be bothered!

Today starts a new journey and I’m going to try my damnedest to make it count this year. I’ve been going to the Gym for well over a year now and whilst that has done wonders for my confidence when it comes to actually going and feeling better about myself, I’m still to see some real results when it comes to losing weight, t-shirt size or anything like that. This is partly down to the fact that, after my initial surge of interest, I have only been going to the Gym once a week when I have a Personal Training Session. However, the main reason is because I eat too much crap in-between! I snack late in the evenings and I also comfort eat when I’m feeling down, both are not good at all!

So to start off on this new adventure I went to the gym and ‘started again’ with the initial Body Test and Measurements and going again as if from scratch but with the extra confidence I’ve gained over the last year. After all the initial measurements and stuff I did a 1.5 mile ‘run’ to see how long it would take me. The ‘run’ included a 5 minute walking workout and sort of Interval Training with some running, jogging and walking (mainly because I can’t sustain a run for a full 1.5 miles!) I managed to complete it in just over 20 mins, not great I know but it’s a start. I guess if you take the 5 minute warm-up out as well it’s not too bad for someone who’s as big as I am. I’ll be repeating the Body Test and Measurements periodically and we’ll see if there’s an improvement.

So, what am I doing to help me sort this out. Well, I’m enlisting my old friend myFitnessPal to keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to my calorie intake. I’ve also got a FitBit, which I’ve been wanting to get hold of one since Veronica Belmont mentioned it on an episode of Tekzilla. A lot of people might see the FitBit as a waste of money but I like, no, need things like this to keep me interested along the way. I can’t (never have, never will) exercise for the sake of exercising. I need it to be for a reason. That’s why things like Wii Fit are good for me and if I had a bigger room, I’d get a Kinect for my XBOX. Adding a little bit of a competition to see if I can beat the number of steps I did yesterday, or burn more calories is going to help me on the way. I just need to stay more focused this time! Hey, I’m a bit of a geek, so shoot me.

Luckily for me, the release of the FitBit in the UK tied in nicely with my New Year’s Resolution of taking a step back and starting again. I pre-ordered mine on Amazon as soon as the pre-orders were available on Christmas Day (originally scheduled for Boxing Day). The FitBit was officially released on 3rd January and mine arrive today but I couldn’t do anything with it until I rolled in from the Gym at 7:30 this evening. I haven’t had much chance to use the actual FitBit itself, only racking up a measly 93 steps whilst pottering around the house, but I’ve been using the website for several days now in preparation for the actual device arriving.

I’m currently in the Beta Testing Group for myFitnessPal and their integration with FitBit. This is excellent because as the FitBit has only just been released in the UK, the Food Database is non-existent. I have been in a dialogue with FitBit over Facebook and they say they are working very hard on getting their database up to scratch. However, myFitnessPal already has an excellent user-driven database that has every food that I’ve thrown at it so far. It also has an amazing Barcode scanning feature so you can just scan the barcode with your Smartphone camera (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android and even Windows Phone 7) and it will do all of the hard work for you. Most items are now tagged with their Barcode which is excellent. The integration with FitBit allows you to enter all of your calorie intake into myFitnessPal and it will show up in the meal slots on FitBit, also your steps and exercises on FitBit are sync’d back to myFitnessPal. There are a few little kinks still to work out and the integration is not flawless yet but it’s certainly getting there. Some things that don’t work are manual activities logged in to FitBit and water consumption does not sync from myFitnessPal to FitBit. Some of these I’m sure they’ll iron out but some, such as FitBit -> myFitnessPal exercise syncing, I imagine are being left out on purpose because really myFitnessPal obviously want you to use that as the main app rather than the other way round!

I think I will mainly be using FitBit as both the website and Smartphone apps are nicer aesthetically and they have lots of interesting graphs and the data is much better presented. Basically I’ll be using myFitnessPal for the food intake only until FitBit sort out their own Food Database. I’ve been doing this for a day and a half and it seems to be working OK except some of the meals seem to get allocated to the wrong area. This can be rectified easily at the FitBit end as the Web 2.0 interface lets you drag and drop the meals around. This is mainly due to the fact that the meals in myFitnessPal have to exactly match those of FitBit, something I only did this morning.  I do love myFitnessPal still as it is more configurable.

An example of some of the FitBit Dashboard Graphs. I only got the FitBit this evening, I'm not always this lazy honest!

You can keep an eye on my progress, or lack thereof, at http://www.fitbit.com/user/22NZYQ !

Update

I just read back through this and a quick post about me updating people on what I was doing turned into an essay as usual! Also, although it may seem like it, I’m not on any kind of commission from FitBit or myFitnessPal. I probably should be. I get rather passionate about things I like. You should have seen the essay I wrote about CBC Computers and their excellent Customer Service when I first started my new job! Ooops, there I go again!