Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quilting Fitness - reviews of another sort

Today, I'm going to wander off the quilty-path a bit and talk about something that most of us want to avoid -- fitness.  We all KNOW it is good for us, but with the exception of a rare few people, most of us would rather spend time behind our sewing machines than on a treadmill.  Frankly, I don't blame anyone for wanting to do that!  I mean hey, I pump my iron, right?  But, whether it be January 1st the year after you turn 30, or perhaps after someone asks when you are expecting another little one when you aren't pregnant, at some point the idea pops into your head that you could be doing more to be in better health.  Enter a desire to eat better and get fit.

For me, eating better comes and goes depending on how busy we are, and how much my husband travels.  I have a much easier time preparing a good home cooked meal when I can count on another grown up to eat some of it.  The kids, well, they are kids.  One minute broccoli is their favorite, then next, they don't want to look at it.  It is frustrating.  So, I will skip pontificating about eating better.

With getting fit though, there is something I can chat about!  And you can too, with other quilters even (more on that to come).

Before vacation, I was lazily restarting to run, encouraged by the lovely Esther from Threads on the Floor who had recently done the same.  Workouts were rather sporadic at best.  I also got some app tips from Katie of Katie's Quilting Corner and thought I would try out one of them while on vacation.

If you have a smart phone, apps can really help you keep track of your activities, goals and let you connect with others.  Some of the apps are also friendly with one another!  The following reviews are not-sponsored, just my opinions.

My Fitness Pal

One such app is the My Fitness Pal app and website.

My Fitness Pal is a free app on iTunes.  The mobile app allows you to keep a food diary, log in exercise, even keep track of how much water you drink.  It will also give you "reports" of your progress toward your goals.  Also, you can find friends or join a group to receive and give encouragement to one another.  There is a group on My Fitness Pal called "Fit Quilters".  Katie is a member of this group.

Fit Bit

I also have a fit bit.  A fit what?  A Fit Bit.  A tiny little pedometer that you can order through their website here.  The pedometer (called the Fit Bit One) cost $100, but before you all shoot me for suggesting you spend your precious fabric allowance on a pedometer it does more than just count your steps.  Plus, my only other experience with a pedometer that would track things over time; the pedometer cost $25, but then also $10 per month to track the data.  This pedometer is $100 all up front and can also track your sleep!  I don't know how it does it, but it knows exactly when you are asleep and when you are awakened by something.  It also tracks how many stairs you climb.  Again, I'm not sure how it knows you are going up instead of forward, but it does.  I originally thought that this was just some conversion from the number of steps you took, but while on vacation we didn't have 2 flights of stairs to walk up like we do here at home, so I got zero stairs stats until the day we went hiking up a cliff.  So, it knows.  It also has a silent alarm, which my husband uses "to not wake me up".  I've had other pedometers in the past, and another feature that makes this one worth the extra money is that it is rechargeable and syncs wirelessly with your computer.  I just have to walk by the computer and it uploads all my stats for the day.  I don't even have to log in.

The app for the Fit Bit is free.  It is very similar to My Fitness Pal.  You can keep a food diary, enter exercise other than steps (like swimming or weight lifting), keep track of water intake, see progress reports and see stats posted by friends.  I've joined a group called the "QuiltCast Fitbitters", which is brand new so it is full of freshly motivated quilters just like you.  Sandy from Quilting for the Rest of Us created the group.  Several of the members are podcasters, but it is not a requirement to join.

So far, I prefer the Fit Bit app and website for tracking stuff.  I just prefer the layout, etc., but there is a way to use both.  While I haven't set it up yet, there is a way to get your Fit Bit pedometer stats sent to My Fitness Pal.


So those apps are all great for tracking fitness, what if you want to start running and need someone to tell you what to do?  Maybe a Couch to 5K app could help.  Running isn't for everyone.  It wasn't for me either, but having a friend sucker you into it helps.  What also helped was getting that "runner's high" that I heard about.  It took a few weeks, but I definitely got it and it made me look forward to my next work out.  But, I digress....Most Couch to 5K are similar in that they start you off slowly with short intervals of running and walking.  They tell you when to run and when to walk so you don't have to keep looking at your watch.  Most apps also work with the music functions of your phone so you can listen to music while you run.  Most programs are about 8 weeks long, but vary in how fast they progress you and how much running you will actually be able to complete at the end (more on that later).  I have tried out the following Couch to 5K apps:

Active Couch to 5K

I first tried out this app over a year ago when my sister-in-law wanted some company while training for a 5K.  I think it was $3.99 when I bought it, and it is one of the more popular ones on iTunes.
This program gets you ready to run a 5K in 9-ish weeks.  Why the "ish"?  Well, I found that I had to repeat a few weeks because I wasn't ready to progress when the running went from 5 minutes at a time to 8 minutes at a time, etc.  Those 3 extra minutes nearly killed me the first time around.

What I like about the app:

  • Each workout is 30-40 minutes long.  Totally doable, even on a busy day.
  • There is a halfway done cue - convenient so I know when to turn around and head home
  • Music options include a shuffle feature - I like my workouts to be predictable (sometimes), but not my music.
  • You can share your progress with Facebook, Twitter, or the Active Network (the first "group" experience I ever had)
  • Free run option - don't want to follow the program one day and just want to do your own thing?  Just try out the free run option
  • There's a map for that! - When your workout is complete, it shows you a map of where you ran.  Just neat.
  • It tells you about 5K events in your area
  • MOST Importantly!! - at the end of the program, it has you running for 30 minutes straight, which is close to the average 24 minute time for women for a 5K.  So you will be able to actually RUN a 5K at the end.
What I wish was different:
  • Sometimes it is hard to hear what the trainer says over the music - I wouldn't have know this could be improved if I hadn't tried out the next app, which does a better job of this.
  • I think the program could be longer to allow for slightly more gentle increases in running time toward the end of the program.  12 weeks would be better, I think.
  • The workouts are predictable - this could be good and could be bad if you loose interest easily.

Zombies Run Couch to 5K

Based on the recommendation of Katie of Katie's Quilting Corner, I tried out this app.  I think it was only $1.99 at the time.  Now, Zombies are not usually my thing, but the premise of the app sounded interesting.  Instead of just telling you when to run and when to walk, this app tells you a story.  If you immerse yourself into the story, you are running for a purpose - to collect supplies for a settlement traumatized by zombies.  It is entertaining!  This is an 8 week course, but they have other apps to continue the story, I mean running program. 
 
What I like about this app:
  • It is entertaining - one of my problems with running is that I spend a lot of time and energy thinking about running, when I can stop and how hard it is.  This app keeps me thinking about other things
  • This app does a much better job going between talking to you and your music.  I can hear everything they are trying to say, and still hear my music too.
  • Workouts are more varied - not all the workouts for a given week are the same.  Keeps you interested.
  • The program incorporates some other exercises, like knee lifts and heel raises into the program
  • It also allows you to share your progress via Facebook and Twitter.  They also have their own website and community, but I haven't checked it out.
  • It seems to start you out easier and progress you slower (but see below for the drawback of this)
What I wish was different:
  • My music doesn't shuffle - I can designate a special "playlist" from my phone, but it plays them in the exact same order each time.  So I find myself deleting and adding songs before I go out to run just so I can have a different order.
  • You must take advantage of the "Free Form Run" sections of each workout otherwise....
  • It doesn't have you running a full 5K by the end of the program - the last work out has you running two 10 minute increments with a 5 minute walk in between.  If you've taken advantage of the free form runs and tried to run almost the whole segment, you probably won't have any trouble doing a 24 minute run, probably... 
  • Longer workouts - workouts start at 34 minutes, but go up to 60 minutes.  So you are running for a longer amount of time overall, but not in one burst like you would in a 5K event.

Probably the best thing about this app so far was when I was hearing zombie noises "chasing" me, then it cut to my music of "Tangerine Speedo" (Please bring me a towel, Mr. Tangerine Speedo).  How that song got into my playlist that day, I am not sure, but I nearly fell over laughing when it happened.

I can still see some of you shaking your heads, "no".  Wouldn't it be great to have an actual Quilter's Run that is approximately a 5K and takes you by way of a few quilt shops?  Now that's my idea of a Quilter's Run.  I would totally run between stops to get the best selection, right?  It's a pipe dream for now, but who knows?  Perhaps if I find a location and start organizing now....yeah right!

For now, I am motivated to improve my fitness.  Like Quilters ADHD, I also have Fitness ADHD, but I hope between the new 5K app and the Fit Bit group, I just might stick with it.  If any of you are already on My Fitness Pal or Fit Bit, I am "Quilterinthecloset" on My Fitness Pal, and "Jen Lanak" on Fit Bit if you want to be friends.

What about you?  How do you stay fit with a sedentary hobby like quilting?  I would love to know.


Thanks for reading today,

Jen


 



7 comments:

  1. Great review Jen! I'm just beginning to get moving again - although just walking at the moment I do want to build up to running. That zombie one sounds like heaps of fun, I might try it :o)

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  2. Thank you for the reviews. I walk 30 minutes home from work every night. Just started but hope to increase the time and frequency. Baby steps.

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  3. Great post Jen, I take two Zumba classes a week but have been looking to add something else in. I have downloaded a Couch to 5K app to my phone but have never looked at it, I will definitely have a look at it now :)

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  4. You are almost inspiring me to get an app and start running. Almost.

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  5. I'm right there with you! I've been using fitness pal for over two years. I've recently purchased the fitbit fled (adore!) and run listening tomZombies, Run! Have you tried connecting to EveryMove.org? It gives you discount rewards for being active. I've already often $50 at NakedWines.com and am currently working for two months of pound online classes... Good stuff!

    Keep up the great work! :-)

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  6. Great post, and great reviews. I am totally going to look into the fit bit pedometer. Thanks for all the info, and as usual you inspire me to do better.

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  7. Great reviews, can you look at sports bras sometime? That's long been my excuse for not running, my boobs are too big and I can't find a decent sports bra!!!

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