Health

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My new “toy” (and Nike+ Sportband experience)

Filed in Health

I’ve come to the conclusion that the data from the first five months of my Nike+ Sportband usage is faulty. Yes, that set of data where I was doing a pace of between 9′ and 9′ 30″ per walk.

I’ve just bought a new pedometer, but that’s not the reason why I’m now finding fault with its predecessor. The new pedometer is the Omron HJ-113. It counts steps, distance, calories and even fat.

In order to use the HJ-113 correctly, the manual said I was to measure my stride and key it in for future reference. I was supposed to walk 10 steps, measure the distance walked and divide it by 10. I thought, since I already have something like nine months of data, I’d work out the average. That data is not from the Nike+ Sportband which doesn’t measure steps, but from my simple and cheap (RM5/-) pedometer that I’d continued to use alongside the more sophisticated gadgetry.

Anyway, from my most recent walk, I found that my stride was around 73 cm. Wow, I found myself thinking, that’s a pretty long stride for a small person like me to take in my size 5 shoes. Then I went back to the first five months to take a sample and found that I was doing more than 85 cm. That couldn’t be. I would’ve had to have taken very big strides. It could only mean one thing – the walk data for those months was faulty.

I also came to the conclusion that counting steps is still the best way to maintain a walking log. A simple and cheap pedometer can do that. But I’m also used to seeing how many calories I burn for each walk. Which was why I decided to get the Omron HJ-113. (Actually, I just like gadgets, especially new gadgets.)

According to the manual, the HJ-113 counts more than steps, distance, calories, and fat burned. It also counts aerobic steps. But I’m not going to dance when I walk. Apparently, aerobic steps happen when the user walks 60 steps or more in one minute. The HJ-113 has a separate aerobic step counter that is activated after 10 minutes of walking more than 60 steps per minute. Wow, that’s pretty sophisticated, maybe more so that the Nike+ Sportband.

I haven’t taken the HJ-113 for a walk yet, so I’ll do an update after I’ve done so. I’m looking forward to it.

The Omron HJ-113 (mine’s the same colour):

Click on the picture for more information.

English or American?

Filed in Health

No, this is not a post about the 2010 World Cup.

Following mother’s recent brush with diabetes, I’d asked for a blood glucose test at my last lupus consultation. That was 2 months ago. At this morning’s consultation, Dr Y, my rheumatologist, told me that my level was 5.8 from that test (to be honest, I’d forgotten about this). I asked what it meant.

She said it depended on whether I was in the States, or in England and Europe. In the States, 5.5 is the upper limit which means if I were there, the alarm bells would’ve gone off. In England and Europe, however, 6.1 is the upper limit, so I am still alright. She then asked me if I wanted to be English or American.

I turned to look at the trainee nurse. “What’s 5.5 plus 6.1?” I asked her.

Dr Y started to say something but I explained that I just wanted to take an average of those two numbers. It turned out to be 5.8. So I’m on the borderline. The upper borderline.

When I got home, I got online and googled for blood glucose. I wanted to know how to avoid staying on the upper limit. One of the googled articles talked about the 4 Common Causes of High Glucose Levels.

Turns out exercise is an important factor to managing blood glucose. When I took that test two months ago, I was an irregular walker (2 walks in March and 1 in April). Since then, I’ve made a commitment to my morning walks so I think I’m headed in the right direction. And now I have even more reason to keep walking.

Dehydration is another factor. I know I’m still not drinking enough water, so I will aim to drink more from now on, until I reach the target of eight glasses, or 2 litres, of water per day.

As for the other 2 factors – well, I need to cut down on carbohydrates (bye-bye Mr Potato and Pringles), plus I need to make sure I don’t get stressed out.

And that’s it for this health report.

Test or Trust?

Filed in Health, My Faith

To be honest, I didn’t even think of either this morning. I just wanted to go for my walk as per schedule. The sky looked overcast and for the first time, I walked out to the balcony to check. The road below didn’t look wet and I had to look closely to see the vertical lines falling down.

I thought of a hat, even a raincoat, but the latter would make me sweat (not the way I would sweat on my walks; my way is natural, adding a raincoat would not be, but I digress). Then I decided to just go, at least to the ground floor and if the rain was heavy, to maybe use the gym.

Downstairs, the road looked wet but without any raindrops. So I started on my walk, activating the Nike+ Sportband, holding it down until it told me to “walk”.

It was still drizzling a little. I’d thought of doing an old route, where there would be trees to ward off the rain. But on the curb, I decided to turn left (new route) instead of cross the road.

It was still drizzling and I found myself asking “What if it doesn’t stop?” And immediately, another voice answered.

“Hello? Who is in charge of the rain?”

God is. And I’d already told Him when I was on the balcony looking out that I wanted to go for my walk.

So I continued walking. And the drizzle stopped. Across the road, someone under an umbrella closed it, tentatively, head lifted to make sure it really had stopped.

And I went on to complete my walk. And to enjoy it, too.

So was it test or trust? It was a mix of both. And it will continue to be a mix of test and trust in most situations – not God’s fault, but completely mine. Because I still cannot believe I am worthy of His attention, and care, and love. But I am.

Milestone

Filed in Health, Personal

After three months of occasional walks, I have completed a total of 54.4km which, according to the nikerunning.com site, qualified me to move forward one level, from yellow to orange. Of course, I’ve walked more than that, but the usual stuff such as from car to lobby lift, or from car to front door of sister’s house, or even my frequent mall meanderings do not count. The 54.4 kilometres were on set walking routes mapped at the aforementioned site.

This morning’s 5.39km walk was 36.8% further than my very first walk of 3.94km back in late January. That first walk was also the shortest I’ve done these past three months. The longest walk I ever did was 5.98km. Walking pace has always been below 10 minutes, which both pleased and surprised me the first time I saw the number.

Seeing the orange on my NikeRunning profile page has given me a renewed purpose to keep going for my morning walks. Previously, it was “I don’t feel like walking this morning, my joints hurt … ” but from now on, I want to meet my 3-walks-a-week commitment. Unless it rains. Heavily.

Here’s the plan – to walk at least 3 times a week, to maintain a minimum of 5km per walk, to keep my walking pace below 10 minutes, and to move to the next level, green, within three months.

The above plan will be achieved with the help of my Nike+ Sportband and the nikerunning.com site. The Sportband has proved to be a good investment. Some of my motivation has come from seeing my walks visually represented. Here’s the one from this morning.

Having walking buddies and seeing their achievements also help to motivate me further. Thanks, Nazley.

Related Post
RTFM!

RTFM!

Filed in Gadgets, Health

Except in this case, it wouldn’t have helped. The manufacturer had expected the buyers to buy the complete kit, so that everything would work together.

About a week ago, I’d bought a Nike+ Sportband to help with my morning walks. While it won’t help me walk better or more often, it is a cool gadget that’s a few steps up from my previous pedometer and handphone.

The Sportband is one part of a two-piece kit that is worn on the wrist and has a detachable electronic counter (like a pendrive). The other part of the kit is a tiny sensor (Nazley describes it as the height of a stack of three 50 sen coins) which goes inside one of the shoes. After calibration, the sensor communicates information to the counter on the wrist (the most important being distance) which is unplugged after each workout and plugged into the computer to send the information to the Nike Running site where the user has previously set up an account.

There is actually a third part to the two-piece kit. Actually, it’s more like an accessory. It’s a pair of Nike+ shoes that has a slot in the inside sole of one of the shoes to place the sensor during workout.

Before buying, I’d checked with my cousin’s son who has been using the gadget for a while. He said the shoes were not compulsory, the sensor works fine with any workout shoes, just slip it inside one of the shoes. And that was where the problem laid.

Because Nike expected everyone to buy the special Nike+ shoes to complete the kit, they did not include information on how to place the sensor inside a regular pair of shoes. The first time I used the Sportband and sensor, it showed I’d walked a measly 0.34 km. I knew that was not right, as I’d previously mapped the route online and saw that it was 0.7km, which I walk 4 times. The second time was even worse – 0.02km!!

Had I purchased a faulty sensor?

So I went to the Nike forums and did a search. And found that I was not the only user with a “faulty” sensor. I found that it was not the sensor that was faulty. The problem was in the way the sensor is placed in the shoe.

Apparently, this was a problem Nike had not anticipated because someone from Nike participated in one of the discussions (yes, there was more than one discussion) at the Nike forums and helped to figure out what was wrong.

This is how the sensor should be placed in a non Nike+ shoe:
parallel to the road and face up, with the Nike Swoosh logo “facing the sky”

I’m guessing that this placement problem never came up with the proper Nike+ shoes. I’m guessing if a user had placed the sensor “upside down” in the slot, it would not have been a perfect fit, so the user would’ve simply taken it out and placed it correctly. After all, there are only two ways to place the sensor in the slot – the logo side facing upward or inside the slot.

So, after finding the solution on the Nike forums, I placed the sensor correctly this morning and recalibrated it with the recommended 0.4km walk. I then did my usual walk and was glad to see the distance toting up nicely as I walked. By the end of my walk, the distance shown was an encouraging 3.94km.

To stop the sensor from slipping and sliding inside the sock, I’d placed a bit of Blu Tack on the bottom of the sensor and stuck it to the top of my right foot before putting on the sock.

No more problems. Well, not exactly. I’d like to get a holder for the sensor. Nazley has a DIY holder, but I’m a lousy DIYer so I googled and found various products. All well and good, except they’re not available in Malaysia. I know, because I’d gone into four sports shops (including Nike Women) at a shopping mall to ask, and all I got in return were funny stares like I’m not from this planet.

Now I need to figure out how to get one from the States.