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My Fitness Tracker is a Watch

October 12, 2014

Photo from October 12, 2014

I just looked at my watch and it’s nearly approaching 10:00 a.m.

My watch is supposed to be much more than that. That’s why I bought it.

My watch was supposed to do all sorts of things for me. It was supposed to track my activity, tell me when I’ve been sedentary too long, tell me how many calories I’ve burned in a day, what my heart rate is when I am exercising and how many more steps I need to take to achieve my daily step goal.

I bought my Garmin Vivofit ( It’s the spiffy looking teal band in the picture to the left. ) as tool in my weight loss toolbox, but much to my disappointment, for the most part it’s just a watch.

On the plus side, it does have what I now refer to as the “Red Bar of Inactivity.” A little red bar of dashes that gets longer and longer when I have been inactive for too long that reminds me to get up and get moving.

But as far as an activity tracker, then device is extremely inaccurate. I’ve had days I have run half marathons that it’s calculated at nearly 8 miles more than I actually ran. I’ve had days I ran 8 miles and it’s tracked me at over 13 miles.

When I was in Orlando for the RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon last October I had the opportunity to speak to a Garmin Vivofit representative at their booth at the Fitness Expo. I asked specifically about the alarming inaccuracy in distance and was told that the device wasn’t meant to track running, it was meant to track activity. Needless to say I tilted my head to the side for a moment.

As a Fitness Instructor and Weight Loss and Wellness Coach, I do understand the difference between exercise and activity, Activity is considered the little things we do in a day that put our body in motion. Motion of any kind creates a caloric burn. Our body expends energy with every step we take. Activity is walking from the car to the door, doing housework, window shopping at the mall. Exercise is when we purposely get our heart rates into much higher zones to burn calories. It’s our time on a treadmill or elliptical, an hour of a step or kickboxing class.

Now if I had known that the Garmin VivoFit was only intended to monitor low intensity activity I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. When a device has a heart rate monitoring feature and asks me to spend even more money purchasing the additional heart rate strap that allows it to monitor my heart rate I expect it to utilize that information a bit more efficiently.

Let’s just be blunt here. If I am going to go the trouble of strapping a heart rate monitor under my chest which is the equivalent to me of wearing a small-scale torture device, I expect it to actually ascertain my heart rate and use that information to decide how vigorous my activity is and how many calories I am burning. The VivoFit does’t even really give me a true heart rate reading. If I set the screen to display my heart rate I get a reading of 0 – XXX where the end number is the highest heart rate it’s registering at that given time.

Last week I was doing a H.I.T.T. training workout on a treadmill where my heart rate was well into the 170s at times and it never registered my heart rate above 70.

According to the Garmin website the VivoFit “You can also pair vívofit 2 with a heart rate monitor during fitness activities, such as a run or a cardio class at the gym, to record your heart rate and zone data and get more accurate calorie burn information.”

Sorry, I’m not believing them.

The distance discrepancies on my device while annoying are also understandable. Everyone has a very different stride when they run. Many devices ask you to set your stride, the distance you take between each step in order to more accurately calculate your total distance. If there was a way to change that setting or actually calibrate the VivoFit it would probably be more accurate, but it failed to provide that feature.

So if my heart rate is being calculated wrong and my distance throughout the day is completely inaccurate, then I can pretty much bet that the daily step goal as well as the daily calorie burn count is also incorrect and thus when I look down at the $130 dollar device on my wrist and wear that $60 heart rate band, my first thought is, “I spent $190.00 on a watch that tells me when I’ve been sitting down for too long.”

All in all, if I wanted a device that told me the time and reminded me to get up and move I would have set movement reminder alarms on my smart phone and called it good. Lucky for me I bought mine at REI who let’s you exchange any purchase you’re not happy with within a year of purchasing it so hopefully I can find the packaging it came in and take it and trade it in for something more along the lines of what I was looking for and not a product that bills itself as an activity and fitness tracker and ends up being a decorative watch on my wrist.

 

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 Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker and currently works as a Fitness Leader, Weight Loss and Wellness Coach in Wilmington, NC

Physical Exhaustion Helped Me Find My Healthy Voice Again

10693779_722272227807843_1115779265_nI got in the car huffing and puffing and threw my hands over my face to hide the emotional storm that was brewing within me from the driver. I had stopped my Nike+ Sports watch at 6.2 miles because that is the distance that I had intended to run and the obsessive compulsive in me needed to know what my pace for that distance was, rather that the time after that where I slowed down and stopped pushing my body to perform at its maximum potential.

I’m pretty sure that I was once again on the verge of heat exhaustion and the fact that my body would not do what I wanted it to do was frustrating me so much that I was on the verge of tears. Not even two months ago I ran a 10k, 6.2 miles with a pace time of 12 minutes and  27 seconds per mile and now, here I was pacing out at 13 minutes and 24 seconds … I’d lost over 1 minute per mile in two short months of falling short of my training.

How had I allowed this to happen? How had I slipped into such a dark place and such a deep depression that in two short months I had lost nearly 60 seconds per mile due to lack of training and would I be able to catch up in time to meet my goals of running my next half marathon in under 3 hours?

Depression is an ugly thing. That’s no lie. The last seven months have been hard for me.  I started the year by moving half way across the country in February to start my dream job working as a weight loss and wellness coach in order to help others fight obesity.

10354408_665536556828411_332345651_n (1)Usually I am the type of person that takes the negative and spins it into a positive and finds a way to use the emotions wrapped around things that I am angry or upset about to fuel my personal fitness meter. For example: my response to an emotional evening of internet bullies that had tried to get me fired from that new job–over their ridiculous assumptions about a Facebook post that I made, keeping me up late into the night with their harassing and inflammatory posts the night before I had to run a 10K (to make pace time for my upcoming Half Marathon Event)– was to drag my ass out of bed with very little sleep, and pull off one of my best event times yet of 12 minutes and 17 seconds per mile.

But when it came to dealing with the depression and funk that hit me around Father’s day and lasted well into the beginning part of August just seemed to be something that sidelined any personal fitness goals I had and propelled me into this place where it was a constant struggle for me to run because I associate running so much with my Father that every time I went for a run I found myself missing him even more. It was a double-edged sword really. I’d go for a run to achieve that feeling of spending time with my Father, and then I would hurt inside that he wasn’t here anymore.

924450_735630803149282_1711825532_n (1)And though I was struggling through the anniversary grief of his death in July, I got out there and ran a 10K during one of the hottest months of the year where I had to cross bridges and run on unsteady ground, up several hills I didn’t know about and still managed to pace out only 10 seconds per mile slower and now here I was in September fighting my body and struggling to finish with a time under 13 minutes and 30 seconds per mile and the truth is, I wasn’t angry at anyone other than myself. How had I allowed myself to lose this much ground in just two short months?

I hid my face from the person in the driver’s seat so they didn’t see the tears falling down my face as I tried to convince my body that it could do just a little bit more.  I had already stopped once at just about 5 miles into my run when my heart rate reached 177 and my face felt like it was about to melt off of my body to run into a Burger King to get a cup of ice water in order to lower my core temperature and heart rate and now here I was again, just two miles later, struggling to continue.

Once my heart rate got down into the 90s again I opened the car door and got out, determined NOT to finish the run, because I had already done that, but to finish the mission I was working on in my Zombie Run game so that I didn’t lose 55 minutes of effort put into it by ending it before it was completed. I hate failing at anything, even a mission on a run game. It’s just who I am.

I ran for less than 3 minutes before I had to walk again, I knew that I was border-lining heat exhaustion again, but I continued to walk determined to complete that mission. Seven minutes later of running when I could and walking when I had to, I started looking down at my phone in confusion. Could this mission possibly be this long? Most of them average 30 minutes or so according to my settings, so what in the world was going on? I was only getting slower, the heat beating down on me, and finally after an hour and 32 minutes, and more exhausted than I have ever been in my life I realized that if I didn’t stop I was going to end up passing out. I was tired, and I didn’t understand how that mission could possibly be still going.

So I stopped, and when I did I realized that I had completed the mission ages ago and was now just tooting along in the extra segments of “radio mode” without realizing it. That’s how confused my brain was, I hadn’t even realized that I had completed the mission and was simply adding extra time now.

Once I realized that I had been done ages ago and that I had continued to push my body past what it was capable of, into what was obviously another round of heat exhaustion now manifesting itself in the form of confusion, I sat down on the sidewalk and I started sobbing.

Roy 62I’m not even sure where the tears were coming from. Being angry with myself, missing my father, months of feeling bullied, being hurt by some of the people who I had tried so hard to give to, months of feeling like so much of my efforts in the last two years had gone unnoticed and unappreciated by people and organization that I absolutely loved; none of it mattered. It was time for those emotions to hit the surface and when I had worn my body down to exhaustion they were all pouring out uncontrollably.

Then I asked myself, how in the hell am I going to run a half marathon in October and November when I can’t even push my body to do 7.5 miles today? Why had I stopped running as much? Because of the hours I was putting in at work, and the stress over trying to study for a test and the pressure I felt to focus on weight and resistance as well as cardio, it was all catching up to me. But as I sat there on that curb crying a little voice inside me said… “You can’t please everyone all the time, the person you have to worry the most about keeping happy is yourself.”

It was my Father’s voice. A voice I have spent several months searching for, missing the sound of and regretting the fact that I hadn’t recorded it so that I could play it back in times that I really needed to hear it.

It was exactly what he would have said to me in that moment and it was exactly what I needed to hear because the truth is, that I’ve become so worried about keeping everyone else happy that I’ve forgotten about myself. From my employer, to my fellow employees, to my clients, to my blog readers to some of the people in my life that I hold closest to my heart; I’ve once again allowed myself trying to keep all of them happy to alter my behavior.

I’ve once again reached that point where I have spread myself too thin with everything I have taken on, so thin in fact that  I can no longer accomplish my own goals and truthfully, I have slipped into a place where I am afraid to say what I really think or feel out of fear of judgment.

And where does this horrible fear of judgment come from? I’ll tell you: it comes from not wanting to feel rejected or unliked. It comes from that horrible fear of being that little girl who gets picked on, bullied, talked about behind her back and made fun of.

It’s gotten to a point where not only have I given up my own fitness goals and let the important me time of getting my runs in fall to the wayside, but also to a point where I am afraid of writing what I really think, feel, or do on my own blog where I promised I would always be raw, truthful and honest because god forbid I give anyone any extra ammunition to use against me.

It’s gotten to a point where there are very few people in my life I feel I can share my real feelings with without causing some sort of emotional hurricane in my world and instead I’ve just become a giant avoider. Avoiding confrontation, avoiding conversation about anything we might disagree on, and living my life in fear of not being liked, accepted or wanted.

I picked myself up and I walked back to the car and managed to avoid breaking down in front of the driver and I went home and I collected my thoughts and the next day, even though it was an off day on my training schedule I got my ass on a treadmill and I ran 3.1 miles with a pace time of 11 minutes and 57 seconds.

10644001_1470229873253377_9252383_nAnd yesterday, I laced up my shoes for a nine mile outdoor training run and with humidity, heat, and rain, I ran 9.3 miles with a 13 minute and 27 second mile, and though it’s not the pace time that I wanted there was a part of me that found solace in the fact that I could do more distance under better weather conditions than I could two days ago, and a part of me that found comfort in knowing that if I absolutely had to run that half marathon tomorrow, I could find the athlete inside me that could do it.

But more important than that, I found something else in my run yesterday: I found me again. Somewhere in that 9.3 miles of running in the rain, heat and humidity of the south I found my voice again. I found the woman who will tell you the truth about the struggles of life after weight loss. I found the woman who will tell you this is a constant battle for me, wanting to be liked, wanting to be accepted.  I fight with body image, I tussle with the numbers I see on the scale, I struggle with my fears of failure and inadequacy and I wage an emotional war within myself with my yearning to be perfect and wanting to be normal even though I know deep inside that I’m anything but normal and everything but perfect.

If you had asked me in the beginning of this journey what I wanted most it would have been “To have the happy and healthy life that my Father wanted for me.” But somewhere in the midst of becoming a target of bullies, building a new career, dealing with the anniversary grief of my Father’s death, and building new relationships, I became afraid of being myself and decided to try to be what everyone else wanted me to be instead.

And now, I’m done. I’m done being anything but myself, unapologetically and understanding that some people won’t like me, let alone love me, and that’s okay because at the end of the day there are only three things that really matter to me, being able to look at myself in the mirror and being happy with who I am, honoring my Father’s desire for me to live a happy and healthy life and knowing that in the end, I have given those that know me the best thing I can give them, my desire to motivate and inspire them to do the same.

And now Slender Seekers, I need to get up, jog in place and remove the red bar of inactivity from my fitness tracker and decide what to do with my day off and get ready for this afternoons #20Week2WineDine #TeamSlenderSeekers training run.  But for those of you who have missed reading my blog and following my voice, fear not. I’ve found it, and you’ll be hearing a lot more from me again.

OXOXOXOXOX,
Imperfect Pandora

I’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsors because without my obligations to their support I might never have pushed myself hard enough to finally break down and start to admit my feelings.  Ameriwell BariatricsCelebrate VitaminsKay’s NaturalsWellese and BariMelts thank for being the sponsors of a contest that helps people celebrate their weight loss success and propels me to remember that my one of my number one goals is to help motivate others.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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