Calmness tracking?!

I need something else to do with my brain temporarily. So I thought I'd come here and do something I haven't done in awhile. Write about tech.

I love wearables and especially ones with a focus on emotional and mental health. I discovered, the other day, the Spire.

I've had it for a few days now. Other than a few hours yesterday where I took it off in utter disgust (yes, I blamed the tech. you try tapering valium, menstruating, and being rational at once. go for it.) and it's only a miracle it didn't end up creating a hole in the wall to live in.

And I did this. To myself. All the Spire was doing was following my instructions and reminding me to breathe.

What does the Spire do? It tracks periods of tension, calm, and activity. When one is active it tracks steps. The rest of the time it tracks breathing.

The image over there is from this morning. According to the Spire I was calm for the first 17 minutes I was at work, then tense for 8 minutes, then calm for 3, then active for 3. No focus yet. The tension correlates to some incredible stabbing pains I was experiencing in my abdomen. I was almost certainly holding my breath. Ouch.

The app also has a monthly calendar that gives an overview of the three major segments: calm, activity, focus. In this picture I've been wearing the Spire since the evening of the 24th so it has several days of data. According to that I'm fairly in line with my goals (which have been shrunk down from the device's defaults.)

When I got the Spire one of the first things I did was to set goals and notifications. Right now it tells me if I'm in a streak of some sort (calm, focus, activity) and also buzzes my phone and the device if I have a period of 60 minutes of inactivity or 10 minutes without a deep breath. The default for the deep breath reminders, by the way, is after 60 minutes.

And this version of this screen, Today's Streaks, is probably my favorite so far. That curvy line at the top is a constant animation that shows breathing as it happens. For this screenshot I took a big, deep inhale then a slow exhale (supposedly activating my parasympathetic system).

The downside? The Spire reminded me to take a deep breath immediately after I did that and told me I was about to hit a tense streak. Unexpected. That's ok.

Now, in theory, this thing has a great battery life and one can wear it to sleep. I did fall asleep with it over the weekend. During that time I got approximately 10 reminders to take a deep breath and had a focus streak for 29 minutes until 10:08pm then another 21 minute focus streak ending at 10:30pm. That pattern continued through the night with periods of being reminded to breathe and periods of focus. I guess I'm not the most calm sleeper. My sheets coulda told you that. ;)

The Spire also has a feature I haven't yet used: Boosts. These are guided meditations:

  • Focus Boost
  • Calm Boost
  • Energy Boost
  • Deep Meditation

The reviews of those aren't so great (with repeated mentions that Headspace is better) but I'll give them a try and decide what I think later.

What do I think of this little gadget? I dig the reminders, the tracking, and the stats. I love this daily overview.

The Spire seems pretty accurate for an egg shaped think clipped to my bra or panties. It is "washing machine proof" which is akin to saying "lisa proof" though I haven't yet forgotten to remove it from my clothing (almost forgot twice. this washing machine proof thing will get proven in time, no doubt around me). It was somewhat expensive and worth every penny quadrupled if it helps. I like the app though I'd love a way to export the data/share that info on the web with full privacy control settings. It integrates with Healthkit which I haven't found at all useful. That is... er... I haven't found either Healthkit or the Spire's integration with Healthkit useful.

It did just remind me to take a deep breath, though.

I think I'll keep this one.

-Lisa, 2015-04-29, Comment

Getting my health back on track

A bunch of years ago I got on the scale and weighed 258.8lbs or so.

A year later I was just around 200lbs.

Over the last few years I've gotten into the very low 180s. I saw 179 for a bit.

Then my weight loss halted.

And halted.

And halted.

And went up....

and back down ....

and halted.

The last few years haven't always been easy or free of stress and I reverted to previous dietary choices and halted my weight loss with comfort eating. That I didn't go up much higher in weight surprises and delights me.

But now my weight is going back down.

I implemented some fairly straightforward guidelines to follow. The following is a very modified and cut down version of something I sent to Michael when asking for help staying on track.

This first set addresses my demons:

  • Chocolate. This needs to be a maximum of 2 squares a day - or ~100 calories of chocolate.
  • Fast food = no.
  • Sushi drops to 1x/week
  • Way. less. non-water/non-tea drinks. Knock off the lemonade addiction.
  • Way way way fewer grains. Bread has got. to. go.
  • No substitutions. No making some sort of fake bread out of other ingredients. Eat whole, healthy foods. if I am going to indulge - then bloody well indulge. ;)

What to aim for:

  • Proteins - 1 fist shaped amount of said item per meal.
  • Tons of veggies. Eat the rainbow (not skittles, yo). It's hard to go overboard here except with the starchy ones but even with a ton of carrots my weight had a steady decline, so whatever here. If I'm eating vegetables I'm winning!
  • Carbs are a-ok but watch these - no need to be ketotic; no need to be at 3-400 carbs either. Sweet potatoes are a winner here.
  • Eggs. These will be a primary component in my diet. Choline is nom nom.
  • Drink a whole lot more water. Hungry? 8oz of water first.

Self-reminder: food trending in regards to macros has less daily significance and more weekly significance. If I miss protein one day - 'sok!

And then, after I introduced this routine, my cousin had a comment on one of his posts about intermittent fasting. I did this before quite a bit. I loved it. I worked out fasted. The whole thing. I felt amazing.

So I've introduced a 16/8 schedule. 16 hours fasting, 8 hours to eat. No caloric change: stay under 1400 kcal/day; the main change here is the reduced eating window. This is a weekday routine; no fasting on weekends.

In theory with all of these guidelines I wouldn't need to track my food and I'd still lose weight. That's a great goal; but right now I still find that I'm struggling and not always making the choices in line with my goals - so I'm tracking food with MyFitnessPal. When I don't log I gain weight. It's pretty simple.

And there's more to it than outlined above. There's the whole fitness thang wherein I enable myself to dance for many hours at a time because .... festivals.

Fitness - the below are minimums:

  • 1 walk/day with the dogs. Exception: Horrible weather. Start adding in some Tabata/HIIT intervals
  • Some form of yoga/pilates/stretching every day for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • 10-15 minutes of high active dancing each day
  • Get the TRX up in a highly traffic location and use them every time I pass by for at least 1 rep, preferably 5.
  • Get back in the damned pool. I love the damned pool. Damned pool.
  • Practice handstands.

I started the diet part about a week ago (ish) and did mostly ok then backtracked in the beginning of this week care of my old friend: stress. I've been back on track since Wednesday and doing amazingly and watching my weight slowly go down down down.

The fitness part has been harder. I am walking a lot - the dogs have been out mostly every day (I think we missed one) and I've been walking at lunch as well. I've been dancing randomly at home since Michael frequently DJs songs that are fun to dance to. He's an awesome DJ!

The rest I'm still working on integrating.

Oh, and I need to add skating back in somehow... it's summer, maybe it's time to invest in some artistic inline skates so I can practice in the sunlight. Whee!

This looks like quite a lot in writing; it really is not that much. The plan boils down to this:

"Eat healthy, whole, nutritious foods. Indulge sometimes. Stay active and moving. Have fun!"

Kick ass.

-Lisa, 2015-04-17, Comment

Change . . . it happens

"Entanglement .... that is what I'm writing about today."

On December 1, 2012 I posted Life is short.

A little over 2 years later and changes are happening again.

"Being in a triad has awesomeness at its center and a large helping of learning. Sounds like many relationships, right?"

That learning isn't always easy. It doesn't always lead to a continuation of that situation. Learning may cause change.

"Three adults living together (and who knows who the future holds?) has its trials and tribulations; not entirely different from a couple, but potentially magnified - both the good and the bad."

Unfortunately the living situation didn't work out. Different personalities, different habits, different needs - despite incredible efforts from all of us we were not able to make cohabitation a comfortable or safe fit. The trials and tribulations - magnified - were simply too much.

"And it has been beautiful. Wonderful. A dream come true."

That was true of many times living together. Many, many times were beautiful, wonderful, and dreamlike.

"Learning how to communicate effectively in these intimate, interconnected relationships has been a real struggle at times. I was worried that living together might make these things harder for me - and for all of us thereby."

For me, that statement ended up being truth. In the next few months our family configuration will again change with one person moving out.

It's not easy. And somewhere along the way I learned that model of family configuration with our set of individuals and individual awesomeness didn't combine smoothly or comfortably. We gave it a real, hard, long try. The cost to health was high; our family was worth fighting for. It still is.

"My father said to me the other day that I've never been conventional. Maybe not, but I'm having a fucking blast in this"

Still not conventional; not likely to become so. Back when I wrote that post I expected many things would happen if the cohabitation situation changed - relief was not one of my expectations. However, when the announcement was made about the move-out I was filled with relief. Relief that the madness was ending. Relief that there was a new beginning. Relief at change.

I am joyful, excited, and eager for the changes coming this summer. The old wasn't working.... in with the new!

-Lisa, 2015-04-13, Comment

There are 41 pages and 123 total entries.
You are on Page 1
Older Posts