Tech Savvy: I resolve to get fit
By PHIL SEIBEL
There, I said it. It is now official — my New Year’s resolution is to get fit.
I have made that same resolution each year since I graduated college, and up until last year I never really did anything that resembled getting fit. Last year I finally took a step, well a few hundred thousand of them, in the right direction.
We, my wife and I, got gym memberships, I made a habit of actually going, and I trimmed down on my portions at meals. And wouldn’t ‘cha know, it worked. Imagine that — no fancy “super diet” but good old-fashioned sweat and portion control. Really it’s no surprise and it was the safest way to go about my weight loss. I ended up losing 20 pounds, still about 15 short of my goal but I was pretty excited. So excited I got lazy. I’ve been fortunate that in the lapse that I’ve had only 5 pounds has crept back up on me, but I’ve already noticed, and that brings me to my “new” resolution.
But this year will be different; I have a new resource to help keep me on track.
Thanks to our friends at Verizon Wireless, they were able to send us a FitBit One (www.fitbit.com). The FitBit line is the latest in fitness tracking tools and I like to think of it as a pedometer on steroids, combined with an all around wellness tracker to help give you a more well-rounded view of your overall health. There are three main tools in the FitBit line — the FitBit Zip ($60), the FitBit One ($100) and the Aria Scale ($130). Basically the Zip is the starter option, it’s more of a square shape, easy to read and will track your basic information — steps, calories burned and distance traveled. However, we lucked out and Verizon sent us the FitBit One to demo. The One is the upgraded option. It not only tracks the things the Zip does, but it will also track flights of stairs (for all your step climbers out there) and your sleep patterns!
OK great, so I’ve got a pedometer that does other cool stuff but how is that going to help me? Didn’t you say it would help keep me on track? Right-o! The FitBit Zip and One sync with your computer via a USB dongle that you plug into your computer and every time you’re within about 20 feet of it, your FitBit will automatically sync with your tracker! That means that I no longer have to rely on me to keep track of all my stats, mileage and other vital statistics, I simply have to use my computer, which for me is definitely not a problem. You can also set up your FitBit to sync with your mobile device or tablet (Android or iOS) via Bluetooth and it will automatically sync with that as well. I have my USB dongle plugged into my work computer, so as long as I remember to show up to work my stats are tracked.
And don’t worry if you’re going away for vacation and you don’t have your FitBit synced with your mobile device. Over Christmas I was away for five days and the FitBit stored that info until I got back to my computer and uploaded it then.
Both FitBit Trackers also have a rechargeable battery, which is really awesome. My One has been on battery for over a week now without having to charge it and even when it does run low, the USB recharger is really easy to use. I just pop my One into the charger and two metal contacts recharge my FitBit within a couple hours. It’s completely foolproof and I can recharge it when I get to work and I’m just sitting at my desk.
Don’t forget too about the Aria Scale. It’s wi-fi enabled and what you do is take it through the easy 10 minute set up and your scale will use your home’s wi-fi to upload your weight, estimated BMI and your weight trends directly to your FitBit account. With the ability to have up to 8 profiles saved on your scale, the entire family can use the scale to track their progress after the holidays. Another benefit of the scale is that you do not need a FitBit Zip or One to use it; the scale will act as a standalone product. However, if you choose to use it in tandem with either of the Trackers you will be able to get the complete feel of how the FitBit system works.
So now, we’ve talked about three great tracking tools and how they work and the cool thing is that’s not even the best part. For me the coolest part about using a FitBit as more than a pedometer on steroids is their online dashboard and interface. When you create a FitBit account you are able to track your stats and enter additional information that creates a dashboard of comprehensive information about your well-being. In addition to the automatically synced stats, you can also enter information about your diet, water intake, blood pressure, glucose levels and there is also a journal where you can note anomalies and specific instances that can help explain abnormal stats. You can also upgrade your account which will give you additional reports that will show ranking and will also provide a “Trainer” that will help customize your diet and regimen to help not only keep you on track, but also give you suggestions on how to maximize your efforts.
There is also a Community Groups feature that you can take advantage of so you can put together a support group of people that can help encourage you to stay on track. Any member can create a group and you can then invite any other member to join. In fact, to help me stay on track, I’ve created a Tech Savvy Brainerd Group and I’m inviting any Tech Savvy fans who want to give a FitBit a try to join our group and we can get fit together! Just go to this link: www.fitbit.com/group/22CKB2 and you can either log in or sign up and join the group.
Thanks again to Verizon to sending us a demo One, my wife and I picked our Ones up already and the Aria Scale too, so we’re set for a lifetime of “friendly” competition in getting fit. The One paired perfectly with my Motorola Droid 3, my iPad and also with the Verizon Wireless HTC Droid DNA they let us review too. (Don’t miss the review on Jan. 20!)
So watch out you 15 pounds around my midsection, you’re getting obliterated in 2013. And with my FitBit One, I’ll know exactly when you’re going down.
My resolution: A h’app’ier life
By JESSI PIERCE
Yes, pun intended. Of course, like my counterpart Phil, getting fit tops my New Year’s resolution list this year and every year. But in addition to get in shape physically, this year I wanted to do a complete 360 in getting my mind and self in shape.
Money, money, money, money — Call it the curse of irresponsible college spending, but after turning 18, like so many young adults I know, finances have always been an area of difficulty for me. I am blessed to have a steady income and parents that are always willing and able to help when I am in a jam but at 25, I have decided that it is up to me to organize my personal finances. Nutmeg is an app that helps you build and manage you’re own personal investment portfolio and keeps track of personal and financial goals. In addition to Nutmeg, I highly recommend having your own banks app ready and available on your smartphone. I bank with U.S. Bank and adore their app to keep track of my checking and savings account and the security is great.
Learn a new language — In addition to smartening up financially, this year I decided I wanted to continue to excel my mind. MindSnacks, a startup on iPads, is wonderful for this. It includes mini lessons with real education value and increases in difficulty as you see fit.
Love life, and find the love of your life — Currently single and at the age where admittedly I am ready to set my sights on “the right one” and settle down, there are some great apps to help not only build current relationships but search for the next one. Current dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony have their own apps but in addition to those, some interesting ones are At The Pool and Seekly. At The Pool is more than just a dating app, but perfect for people looking to get out and meet some new people who share the same interests. Seekly is a fun video speed dating created by two professional women who “wanted to take out the time wasting elements of online dating.”
Don’t Miss It!
New for 2013, Jessi and I are taking Tech Savvy live! We thought it would be a lot of fun to get involved with our fans on a regular basis and help answer some questions, or just chat about some of the new things in tech on a regular basis. We are going to try out a couple different platforms before we decide on a surefire way to set this up, so on Jan. 13, at 4 p.m., we are hosting the first ever Tech Savvy Live Chat. We’re going to use Google’s Hangouts and see how that works for us and for you, and we’ll have a follow up meeting on Jan. 20 as well.
For more details check the column regularly, but especially check on Twitter, @pseibel or @jessi_pierce for updates and links to the live chat.