Fitbit Alta HR Review

This week I got the new Fitbit Alta HR and wanted to review it.  I have been using a Fitbit Blaze, which I did a First Look Review when I received over a year ago and then a follow up after two months.  I still really like the Fitbit Blaze and have been happily using it.  I did take off from exercising after my surgery last year, but lately I’ve been getting back into some walking (still not going to the Y yet) and am becoming more active.

And, the Blaze is great for that.  Despite that I bought a new Alta HR.  Usually when I buy a new Fitbit it is because the new tracker has some great new feature that I don’t have with the old tracker.  That isn’t the case with the Alta.  In fact, it has fewer features than the Blaze.  And, some of those features are important to me.  So, why get the Alta?

Looks.  That is mostly it.  Well, comfort is a factor, but that is relatively minor.  I love my Blaze and it does a lot of stuff.  If I could have only the Blaze or the Alta HR, I would go for function over form and keep the Blaze.  But, Fitbit allows you to have more than one tracker on your account.  I can wear the Alta HR part of the time, then switch midday to the Blaze and then switch back and if I sync both of them I will end up with all my steps and calorie burned counted nad all my activities recorded.

For that reason the question wasn’t Blaze or Alta HR.  The question was Blaze only or Blaze and Alta HR.  When I looked at it that way, it was easy for me to decide on having both of them.

The Alta HR does most of what the Blaze does.  It also is much smaller.  It is very sleek to look at.  Like the Blaze, you can switch bands if you want.  It is just that the Alta HR is prettier.  The Alta HR looks like the Alta which came out close to the time the Blaze came out.  I wasn’t tempted by the Alta, however, as it didn’t continuously monitor heart rate and that is a dealbreaker feature for me.  The Alta HR does continuously monitor heart rate.  I like how it looks and it is very comfortable to wear.  That is important since I wear my Fitbit 24/7 as I use it to also monitor sleep.

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Goal Update

At the start of this year, I decided to make monthly goals.  I did make some progress on them, but will repeat them for February.

The first goal was to cook more food at home and make freezer meals for future use.  I did reasonably well on this.  In my post setting my January goals, I said I had made some turky chili and some chicken/bean/rice wraps in a large batch.  I had then frozen individual servings.  That was a good start, but I indicated I needed to do more.  And, didn’t do any more of that type of cooking for the rest of the month.  We did eat more at home because I decided to only eat out once on the weekend instead of twice every weekend.  That was adding too many extra calories and making it harder during the week, particularly when we sometimes needed to eat out during the week when we were out and about far from home.  By only eating out once on most weekends, it has helped to make the rest of the week easier.

The second goal was to rejoin the YMCA and start strength training again.  I did rejoin the Y, but haven’t done anything with it.  January was a terrible month on activity.  There were some reasons for some of this.  January was a rough month for us and our pets.  Our 14 1/2 year old dog died.  That was expected as something that was going to soon happen, but was still hard.  Then, our cat who was being treated for lymphoma had come out of remission and by the end of the month he was gone.  And, finally, one of our other cats (the one I showed in the Christmas tree) had to have major surgery to have all of her teeth removed (to treat gingivostomatitis).  Her recovery has gone very well, but it was all very stressful.  During this time, I really just wanted to mostly be home with my pets and didn’t have a lot of energy to think about working out.

For February, the plan is to continue on with the goals I had for January.  I will do more cooking and will actually start using the Y.

Weigh In

Even though I had already weighed in for January, I chose to weigh in on Saturday.  I was down .6 pounds, to 143.6 pounds.  As I mentioned in my Dining Out post the other day, I had a really good week this week.  A big part of that was only eating out once last weekend instead of twice.  Doing that made everything very easy the rest of the week.  I am planning to do the same thing this week.  We ate out after the meeting and I don’t have plans to eat out again this week.  It is possible we might end up with eating out mid-week especially if we are out and about and it makes sense to do so.  But, we aren’t going to go out for our typical Sunday meal out.

The other thing we did on Saturday after we had lunch was that I rejoined the YMCA.  When I hadn’t been able to go due to surgery I had dropped my membership.  I rejoined and am planning to go to a different location than I went to before.  It is a little farther away but is a larger facility so I want to try it out.  I can still attend the other facility (it is a citywide membership), though.  The one I was attending before is about 20 minutes away versus about 35 minutes so we’ll see how that goes.  I need to get back to regularly going to the Y.  I’ve really slacked off on activity.  It has been raining quite a bit and was cold before that so I haven’t been walking outside much.  I could use the treadmill, of course, but I just haven’t done it.

2017 Goals (January Anyway)

It is that time of year again.  Goals.  I’ve not really done well with goal setting since the start of this blog.  This is my 4th go at it.  And, I’m not really happy with how I set goals in past years.

The first year was 2014 soon after I started this blog.  That year I had huge list of goals and then set monthly interim goals.  That was sort of OK, but I had a leg injury during the year that made many of my goals impossible or inappropriate.  But, I felt sort of locked into them since they were annual goals.

So for 2015, I decided to do quarterly goals recognizing that a year is a long time and stuff happens.  I also reduced my total number of goals.  Even so, I felt I still had too many goals.  I do better if I focus on 1 or 2 things at a time.

And, that leads to 2016.  I set 2 annual goals — improve body composition and live a healthy lifestyle in terms of food and activity.  I then chose 2 actions that I intended to work on to progress on the annual goals – increase the number of calories burned daily and cook more real food at home and eat out less.  I planned to update the actions throughout the year.  But, then I had plastic surgery and that derailed all that.  I think my problem was I had forgotten that annual goals were really not a good idea.

Where does that leave me for 2017?  This year I do remember that annual goals don’t work for me.  I certainly have aspirations of things that I would like to see happen during this year.  But, I also think that goals should be behavior oriented.  That is a true goal to me is a behavioral goal not simply a wished for result.  Trying to set a goal for the whole year is unlikely to be a good behavioral goal.

I think I was on the right track in 2015 when I did quarterly goals.  But, I really think even quarterly is too long a period for me.  And, I think I was right in 2016 to want to focus on a couple of things at a time.  I do better when I do that.

And, that leads to 2017.  Instead of annual goals, I am going to have monthly goals to work on 2 or 3 things.  As I start consistently doing something from a behavioral standpoint I will change the goal.  If it is something that I have now made a routine habit, I will still do the action but remove the goal from the next month.  If it is something that I am making progress on, but want to do with greater intensity I will change the goal (for example, if I had a goal to strength train twice a week and achieved that I might make a new goal to train 3 times a week).

With that my January goals are:

  1.  Cook more food at home and make freezer meals for future use.  A couple of years ago I really started working on reducing my eating of processed foods.  And, I started cooking more at home.  I didn’t do as much as I wanted but I was going in the right direction. But, over this last year with the surgery I got out of the habit of cooking.  And, I went back to eating more frozen foods and eating out a lot.  This year I want to cook more.  I don’t like to have to spend a lot of time cooking when I am hungry right then so making batches of things and freezing them for some meals works well for me.
  2. Rejoin the YMCA and start strength training again.  I was regularly going to the Y before I had surgery.  I worked with a personal trainer on strength training twice a week for almost a year.  And, then, I couldn’t do that type of exercise for months.  I can now do some strength training and need to get back to it.  I dropped my Y membership when I wasn’t able to use it.  I want to rejoin and start going at least a couple of times a week.

I have started out with a little progress on the food part.  On Wednesday, I made my Turkey 3 bean chili and froze several extra batches.  And, then a made chicken/bean/rice burritos and froze those as well.  These make good healthy meals that I can heat up quickly.  I still need to do more, but it is a good start.  I haven’t done the Y yet.  I actually went in to rejoin in late December, but they said they were about to have a special where there would not be a joining fee so I decided to wait to join.  I’ll probably go by there this weekend to rejoin.

[For those who might wonder… No, I am not going to set a weight loss goal for 2017.  While I am at my Weight Watchers goal weight I do actually want to lose a few pounds.  In short, I don’t set weight loss goals because weight loss isn’t a behavior.  I talked about this at length in this post.]

 

Willpower Doesn’t Matter

In my last post I talked about the importance of motivation and the use of tools to help turn motivation into action.  But what about willpower?  How important is having willpower to achieving weight loss?  In all the years I’ve worked (or not) on weight loss, I’ve so often heard people say something like, “I need more willpower.”  And, I’ve heard some criticize others for not losing weight, saying that all they need is willpower and if they just had willpower, then they would lose weight.  Is this true?  I’m not sure that it is.  I certainly don’t think that it mattered much for me.

Part of the problem with “willpower” is that people mean different things by the term.  This definition of willpower at Merriam-Webster is “energetic determination.”  I’m not sure that definition really tells me much.  Sometimes “willpower” seems to be used to mean self-control or being disciplined.  With many people who say that all you need to lose weight is willpower, there is a sort of implication that willpower is a kind of inner strength that allows you to prevail against temptation.  And, if you don’t have “willpower” then the implication is that you are weak.

Regardless of the definition of willpower, I still find it too vague to be helpful to me in losing weight.  Willpower is often treated as something that one has or doesn’t have and that with it you succeed at weight loss and without it you are powerless to do anything against the temptation of food.  The problem for me comes with trying to put my hands on it to figure out how to get it.  It is easy to say that I want more willpower, but how do I get some?  Where does it come from?  Is it something I can consciously go get or is it something innate that I either have or don’t have? [Read more…]