January At The Gym

I never really stated it as a goal (namely because I didn’t do 2015 goals on my blog this year), but I wanted to get a little more serious about tracking my fitness through 2015.  I have a Fitbit that I really like that is helping with the day to day tracking, but I’ve been keeping track of my activities with going to the gym, and thought I’d post a little bit of detail.

Planet Fitness Is Great…For The Most Part

I wrote last year about how I was planning on switching gyms when it was announced that a new location was opening within a couple of miles.  I actually signed up prior to the opening, and have been going regularly or semi-regularly since it opened at the end of last May.

It’s interesting because the membership has been steadily building, and it took a big leap forward in January with all the new people trying to work in their resolution.  I typically go very early in the morning (around 5:00AM) so I never had to put up with a full gym, but my wife, who signed up in November and often goes during busy times, noticed a definite swarm.

I love the location and the price can’t be beat for what I do (so far, just the treadmill), but I will be keeping a close eye on things.  Now that the machines have gone through a few months of use, they are definitely showing some wear and tear, as many now have squeaky belts or loud motors.  These things are bound to happen, I just feel that they should stay on top of them, and will be keeping a close eye to their ongoing attention to things like this.

My Goals

I went into the month wanting to exclusively work on the treadmill, because my top goal was to lose some weight.  A few years ago, I got as high as 170 pounds, and slowly dropped to around 155 pounds a couple of years back.  Largely because of my love of snacking, I drifted back up to around 162, and then put on a little bit more around the holidays, hitting 165 around New Year.  My goal is to get back to 155, and I wanted to focus on cardio for now to hit that goal, as well as drastically reducing my snacking, which I’ve done.

My wife does a pretty balanced workout, including weights and such, and while I fully know that the this will get me in overall better shape, I really wanted to just concentrate on what would drop me a few pounds the quickest, so I stay all on the treadmill.

So, knowing that I wanted to hit the treadmill, I set a goal of running 60 miles for the month.  I typically log 3-4 miles per visit, so I knew that this would require a solid routine, which was exactly the idea!

Tracking My Treadmill Usage

I track my steps through the Fitbit, but I also started tracking my detailed workouts.  I figured out an easy way.  Since I take my phone into the gym anyways so that I can listen to music, I simply snap a picture of the readout display at the end of my workout.  This tells me the distance, the time, and the estimated calories.  Then, I simply log the data into a spreadsheet.

January At The Gym Results

As mentioned, my goal was to log 60 miles for the month, and I’m proud to say that I hit my goal.

Here are the overall stats:

Number of Runs: 16
Total Miles: 63.15
Total Time: 11 hours, 50 minutes, and 57 seconds
Total Calories Burned: 8,443

Running Pace

The totals above include a cool-down, which I do the same.  If I backed out the cool-down totals from the numbers above, my running pace for January was on average 10 minutes and 31 seconds per mile.  Not bad for a novice like me!

Out of the sixteen runs, thirteen had my pace between 10-11 minutes per mile, one was better (9:54) and I had two bad workouts where my average was over 11 minutes.

Marathon Pace

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t turn 3-5 mile runs into a 26.2 mile excursion and keep the same pace, but if, for the sake of argument, I could, my marathon pace would be 4 hours 35 minutes and 45 seconds.

That’s not too bad! Of course, in addition to knowing that I probably couldn’t keep that pace, I also have no interest in running a full marathon.  I could see myself doing a 10K (approximately 6.2 miles) or at most, a half marathon, but nothing more.

Weight Loss Check In

On top of hitting my 60 mile goal, I also checked in at 160 pounds for the month, so I dropped the holiday weight and was able to take a small chunk out of the gradual weight I’d put on.  No complaints at all!

February Goals

Since we’re now in a new month, I figured I’d put my goals out there for the month of February.  I’m going to set a range of 50-55 miles as my monthly goal, again focusing exclusively on running on the treadmill.

Readers, did you set any fitness goals for the year, and if so, are you still working at them and how are they coming along?

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Why I Purchased A Fitbit Flex

I’d heard about Fitbit, the activity tracking devices that are used to promote health and track exercise, but I didn’t really know much about them until a few weeks ago.  I work for a health care organization, and they worked out some deal where employees could buy one for half price.  Intrigued, I did a little digging online and talked to a friend of the family that I had heard used one, and decided to make the purchase.

Choosing My Fitbit Model

I looked at the various options and decided to go with the Fitbit Flex. The Flex is a device that is wearable, in that it goes on your wrist, similar to a wristwatch.  This is fine for me because I stopped wearing my watch regularly a few months ago after getting tired of how fast the battery wore out, and realizing that I didn’t really use it anymore, something that I’m sure many smartphone users realize.

They have other options, both more and less expensive.  The more affordable models seemed to require the device to be clipped on to your clothing somewhere, which I did not like at all.  I knew that I would either regularly forget to clip it on, or eventually lose it…and realistically, probably both would eventually happen.  The more expensive options have additional tracking options that the Flex doesn’t have, but as I was really looking for something just to track activity, none of them stood out enough to warrant spending extra.

My Cost

The retail cost of a Flex is $99.  When I looked around, the typical cost seemed to be around $95.  I was able to purchase mine for $53.  I believe they factor in shipping costs, which is why it’s slightly over the 50% advertised price.  Still, it’s a great deal that I could not find anywhere.

Fitbit Flex Features

The Flex has a few features that are noteworthy.

  • Step Tracking – The main point of a Fitbit is to track your activity, and that’s my main usage as well.  I did not default from the standard goal of 10,000 steps.  By tapping the device, it will show you dots corresponding to 20% increments of reaching your goal, and when you hit your goal, it will buzz to let you know you’ve reached it.
  • Sleep Tracking – You can tap your Fitbit a few times before you go to sleep and again in the morning to let it know that you’re sleeping, and it will track your movements to let you know how often you woke up and how often you had restless sleep.  If you forget to tap it to let it know you’re sleeping or have woken up, you can enter your sleep time manually on the dashboard.
  • Dashboard – Speaking of the dashboard, this is where you interface on a computer to see your progress.  There’s a small USB dongle that you plug in, and just have to the software to sync your device when you’re nearby, after which you can log in to see your steps and sleep information.  You can also manually enter what you’ve eaten and drank to have it calculate your total net calories based on eating and exercise, though I have not taken advantage of this yet.
  • Mobile Sync – Your Fitbit can sync with your phone or tablet with a free app that can be downloaded.  You just need to enable Bluetooth, and your device will sync on a regular basis, or when you tell it to.  It’s cool to have the app running and walk around and see your step count update in real time.
  • Accuracy – I’ve seen varying reports on the accuracy of the Fitbit.  My intention is to use it for high level information, and I don’t expect that the usage is anywhere near 100%.  Still, when I watch it real time during a live phone sync or just look at the activities I’ve done during the day and the corresponding steps, my gut feel tells me that it’s definitely in the range to add value and provide good information.
  • Battery Charging – The Fitbit I have is advertised as holding a charge for five days. If you have it synced to a phone, you’ll get an alert when the battery is low.  It takes about 2-3 hours plugged into a USB port to recharge the device.
  • Waterproof – The device is advertised as waterproof.  So far I’ve only taken it off to charge it, and it’s had no issues.
  • Skin Compatibility – Fitbit has had issues with some devices causing reported skin rashes.  I worried about this, as I suffer from eczema and certain areas do seem prone to getting rashes more if something is touching them, but so far there have not been any changes to my wrist or surrounding areas.

Fitbit Flex Results

I’ve been getting in some good workouts at the gym, and I pretty much exclusively run on the treadmill for my workouts.  As such, I’ve been routinely hitting my 10,000 step daily goal which is the default.  In fact, if I get a good workout, and I workout first thing in the morning (which I often do), I can count on getting my Fitbit completion buzz as early as 7:00am or so.  That’s a nice start to the day!mb-2015-01-treadmill

So far, I’m very pleased with my Fitbit purchase.  I especially love it because of the great deal that I was able to get through my employer.  If I had to pay the going price, I’m not sure it’d be on my wrist right now, but if you feel the price is worth it, I would have no problems at all recommending the Fitbit Flex.

Readers, do you have any wearable technology such as a fitness tracker, Smart Watch, or otherwise? Do you have any plans to bring this technology to your life?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Switching Gyms

I’ve been doing pretty well with my exercise.  It’s been about six months since I joined a gym.  I pretty much stick to cardio and I don’t do anything that intense.  I’m not in it to get ripped or run a marathon.  I just want to stay in shape, keep my weight at a comfortable level, and stay active.

Which is why I’m thinking about switching gyms.

I joined my gym as it was one of the only ones around that fit some of my needs: Cardio, Reasonable Price, Good Location, Early Morning Hours.

I’ve been happy where I’m at, but I just found out that a new gym is opening that I think will meet my needs even more.  Planet Fitness is coming.  Yes, they of the “I lift things up and put them down” hilarious commercials.

Looking at my list

Cardio

I do a mix of cardio machines.  The treadmill, the elliptical, and the bike are my big three, though I’ll do a stair machine every once in a while.  My current gym has 31 total machines.  I can always get on any kind that I want, though at least 10% of the machines seem to be ‘out of order’ at any one time.

Planet Fitness is opening and will have around 100 machines.  I stopped into the sales Find the right gym and right exercise program for you.office and while the gym space is under construction, they have aisles of cardio.  It’s their main focus, so it would be good.  I’ve read reviews of other locations all part of the same franchise, and everybody is happy with the quality and durability.  It seems like it’d be a step up to go Planet Fitness.

Reasonable Price

Right now, I’m a little over halfway through a $99 for 6 months deal, which works out to $16.50 per month.  There are no signup or annual fees.  My current gym changes their promos all the time, so if I were to renew when my membership expires, I’d probably pay $75 for another four months, or $18.75.

Planet Fitness is pretty slick.  They charge $10 per month.  There is normally a $29 startup fee, but they are knocking it down to $1 as part of the pre-grand opening.  They also charge $29 per year as an administrative fee, but they’re not charging that until June 2015, as they’d waive the first year.  Even with the $29 fee, a year averages to just under $11 per month.  So, I’d be saving money.

Location

My current gym is a 2 mile drive from my house.  Planet Fitness would be 2.5 miles.  An extra mile round trip per day? I think I could stomach that.

Hours

I get up and am there at opening time, which is 5:30.  With Planet Fitness, that would never happen, as it’s open 24 hours a day.  Other locations show that they may cut this back, but even when they do, they usually stay open 24 hours on the weekdays and scale back on the weekends, which is fine.  I’m an early bird and I like the 24 hour thing.  There are times where if I wake up early, I’d love get up and go.  With Planet Fitness, I could.

Am I Going To Do It?

I think I’m going to do it.  The only thing holding me back is that I’m paid up until July, so if I signed up, I’d have about 6-8 weeks of overlapping membership, as I have to sign up by April 30 to take advantage of the cost breaks I outlined above.  Still, I think that it would pay for itself with the cost savings it would present.

I think a gym like Planet Fitness is great.  They cater to people who are looking to get in shape, not bodybuilders or those looking for advanced workouts.  That pretty much defines my goals and objectives to a tee, and if I can get that and save a few bucks a month, it seems like a no-brainer.

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Nurturing Competitive Discipline

Men seldom claim to be emotional, yet they make no bones about making similar claims about being competitive. The truth is, it’s hard to have one without the other.

Take the 2006 Soccer World Cup Final between France and Italy. It was the final game in a French shirt for one of France’s greatest ever players, Zinedine Zidane. He was a calm and reflective midfield general with skill in abundance. The stage was set for Zidane to end mb-201403workouthis career clutching the World Cup in triumph. Instead, he ended it walking from the field of play, dismissed by the referee for, of all things, head-butting an Italian defender, Marco Materazzi. Just for one moment Zidane, normally the most level-headed of players, let the competitive nature of the fixture get to him and his discipline evaporated. The result – disaster. France lost and Zidane’s golden career ended beneath a blackened cloud.

Stay Competitive – Stay Disciplined

The greatest talents in sports know how to maintain their discipline, even if it means they are perceived as boring. Take Ray Allen, for example, of the NBA’s Miami Heat. He’s perceived as a metronome of a player – reliable, solid and unspectacular. So dull in fact, he’s the all-time NBA leader in three-pointers and a 10-time All-Star. Allen never lets emotion get the better of him.

Injuries can also influence an athlete psychologically. After facing a serious injury, it can be difficult to return to the same form as before getting hurt. For this reason, many athletes now work with physical therapists when rehabbing an injury, as this gives them the confidence to return as strong as ever. If you are recovering from a serious injury, remember to focus on what you can control. You have control over your own body, so you can take few risks while competing. By having this discipline, you can potentially avoid additional injuries in the future.

Sport Psychology is seen as a huge deal these days. It’s not just about having the talent – it’s also about having the mental strength to apply it.

You can use discipline to give yourself a competitive advantage in your own competitive endeavors. If you’re not the sports type, why not give online poker a try?

Poker is a game of skill and managing probabilities with a little fortune thrown in. Here are a few tips that should help you maintain your competitive discipline whilst playing:

  • Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t. In poker, this is your bankroll. Work out a monthly amount that you can afford to lose, and stick to it. Only ever gamble with ten percent of your bankroll at any one time. Never play with money you can’t afford to lose.
  • Stay relaxed. If you feel that your emotions are beginning to influence your decision-making, walk away from the table and do something else. Come back when you feel calmer.
  • Develop routines. Play at the same time each day where you’re likely to remain undisturbed. External annoyances will always threaten your concentration.

Developing focus takes time, effort and discipline. A disciplined mind will always make the least irrational decisions. Dedicating time to developing your focus and discipline will bring its own rewards, and help you in many walks of life, including some avenues you would not have previously thought of.

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