The Second Wave of Fitness Bands

By Laura Moncur @ 8:46 am — Filed under:

Microsoft Band from Starling FitnessMicrosoft just announced their Microsoft Band, which, like the Fitbit isn’t a watch replacement, just an activity tracker. After seeing all that Apple promised on their Apple Watch, the only reason that I can see someone buy this is if they use a non-Apple phone and want some sort of fitness tracker that isn’t Fitbit.

FitBit Surge from Starling FitnessFitbit, on the other hand has also joined the second wave of fitness bands with their Charge HR and Surge HR. The Surge is actually a watch in addition to all the other fitness tracking it does, but it’s still about as ugly as… well as ugly as a Casio.

THAT is what the second wave (and even Samsung’s Gear Fit, which I consider part of the first wave) doesn’t get about this. We are WEARING this thing. EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY!!! It NEEDS to be beautiful because we LOOK at it SEVERAL times every day. If it’s not beautiful, we aren’t going to wear it, no matter how many heart rate monitors and GPS trackers you put on it.

That’s part of what Fitbit got right the first time. Because the Fitbit had interchangeable bands, we were able to at least coordinate them with our outfits.

Interchangeable Bands for the Fitbit from Starling Fitness

We could change their appearance so that we didn’t get so sick of the slim plastic sitting on our arms next to our watches.

Tory Burch Fitbit Bracelet from Starling FitnessBut even now, after almost a year of looking at the thing, I’m SICK of it. I’m SICK of the ugly plastic and I REFUSE to pay TWO HUNDRED BUCKS for a Tory Burch bracelet to make it prettier. That Tory Burch bracelet is more expensive than the Fitbit itself. WHY would I do that?!

Why indeed?

When Apple offers me so many design choices and even a way to change the face of my watch to display the data I want, why would I buy the Surge HR or the Microsoft Band?


It all boils down to cost. The Apple Watch is rumored to start at $349, which is a full one hundred dollars more than the others. All of us are worried that the beautiful watch we have our hearts set upon is the NOT the lowest one on the market, so we’ll have to pay even MORE.

Is it worth it?

Is the Apple Watch worth that much more? Especially if you already own a Fitbit? I don’t know about you, but I have been waiting for a beautiful watch that was digital and had countdown alarms and dual time and showed the day and date on the front screen. WAITING for years for this watch, so the fact that Fitbit has upped their game and Microsoft has jumped into the pool doesn’t change my opinion. I want BEAUTIFUL and I’m willing to pay the extra one hundred dollars and wait the extra few months to get it.


The Apple Watch: OMG! DO WANT!

By Laura Moncur @ 10:56 am — Filed under:

I usually talk about watches and other gadgets on The Gadgets Page. I have had a HATE/HATE relationship with the watch designers of the world for the last nine years, so, understandably, this watch has pleased me VERY much. You can read the gadget review here:

I didn’t think Apple had it in them. Here is my journal entry from September 3rd:

In six days, Apple is making an announcement. The rumors have been flying for an iWatch. I would be reluctant to give up my FitBit and Lose It! They work so well that I am having a hard time believing that post-SteveJobs Apple can improve on that. Of course, after the 09-09 announcement, I might feel differently.

Yeah, yeah I do. Here is the video explaining the health and fitness aspects of the Apple Watch.

I had no idea that I would just give up my FitBit for anything, but the Apple Watch somehow did it.

This tan line reserved for Apple Watch from Starling Fitness


The Starling Fitness Treadmill Desk

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

As you can see, I have wanted a treadmill desk (treadputer, walk station, etc.) for a LONG time. The first time I wrote about it was back in 2006.

EIGHT years later, I FINALLY did it to my treadmill, and I’m so excited! Best of all, it only cost me THREE bucks!!

Treadmill Desk from Starling Fitness

Read more for instructions, but I’m sure you can see what I did just from this first photo. (more…)


The Best Inexpensive Treadmill Desk

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I love the design of this treadmill desk.

Ikea PVC Treadmill Desk from Starling Fitness

He used an Ikea Linnmon Table Top, four Adils legs, and 1.5 inch PVC pipe. Connecting the legs to the table was a bit of a challenge, but he explained how he did it here.

Ikea PVC Treadmill Desk Detail from Starling Fitness

To tighten the connection between the table leg and the PVC make a vertical cut at the end of the pipe and push a coupling down. The coupling will apply pressure and jamb the PVC against the metal leg.

This is the absolute BEST design for an inexpensive treadmill desk. I have been looking at these for a LONG time and this is the first one that makes me want to build it. You can see some of the other treadmill desks here:

It’s obvious that I have been interested in this for a LONG time. The truth of the matter is, I am a literal SLUG during the day. Even walking on a treadmill at ONE mile per hour while I am working would be AMAZING compared to the sloth of my typical work day. I am VERY interested in getting a desk that I can use at my treadmill right now, so this PVC plan is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for.

Via: LINNMON treadmill desk with PVC pipe legs – IKEA Hackers


Samsung Unveils the Gear Fit

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Just a few days ago, Samsung showed the world their Gear Fit. It’s a watch, heart rate monitor, fitness tracker and mp3 player. Here is a video showing it here:

It has customizable screens and bands that are easy to change out.

It looks awesome, doesn’t it? In fact, it almost becomes the watch of my dreams that I’ve spoken about on The Gadgets Page:

Samsung Gear Fit - What's The Catch from Starling FitnessIt’s the watch I’ve been waiting for almost a DECADE. So, what’s the catch?

The catch is that it doesn’t work with my iPhone. The catch is that it only communicates with 20 Samsung devices. The catch is that I would have to figure out how to get music on the damn thing because it doesn’t work with iTunes. The catch is that it is so integrated into the Samsung world that it is completely useless to me.

It’s pretty, Samsung, and you did a good impression of the Apple presentation style, but it’s not going to fly.


S2H Replay: What Went Wrong

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I was looking through my old screenshots and I found this from a magazine:

S2H Replay from Starling Fitness

It is a review for S2H Replay, a wristband device that I actually bought because of this ad. I wore it for a while, hated it and stuffed it into a box. I actually saw it the other day when I was cleaning out a box and tossed it aside in disgust. I never earned even one “reward,” and that stupid little bracelet didn’t seem very accurate.

I was curious if S2H is still around, but when I went to their website, this is what I found:

S2H Accounts Deleted

So, if you did like them, it didn’t matter because they were deleting all your information. It seems that they were closing up shop so they could offer their services to corporations.

After only a month with my Fitbit, I absolutely adore it and would be devastated if they closed up shop. Where did S2H go wrong and Fitbit go right?

  • GOOD website: The Fitbit syncs seamlessly with my iPhone and my computer making everything easy to read.
  • No false promises: Fitbit never promised to give me rewards for completing my daily steps, so I don’t feel ripped off when all I earn is a 20% off a product I don’t want.
  • Fashion sense: I can change my band on my Fitbit to match my outfit. I know that shouldn’t be a big deal, but for me, it was.
  • Compatibility: My Fitbit works with Lose It! and My Fitness Pal, so any activity I do, automatically syncs over to my food program. This was the deciding factor for me when I chose the Fitbit.

Honestly, I liked the little smiley face and frowny face on the S2H. Considering how little the LEDs on the Fitbit tell me, I liked them better. In the end, S2H was SO close. A little band around my wrist that keeps track of activity for me is a brilliant idea and they were doing it way before any of the other companies.


Someday Your Phone Breathalyzer Will Tell You If You’re Burning Fat

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

BACtrack Keychain breathalyzerI found a study at IOPScience that describes a breathalyzer that measures the amount of acetone in your breath.

According to them, acetone is a by-product of fat burning and excreted through your breath.

Acetone contained in our exhaled breath is a metabolic product of the breakdown of body fat and is expected to be a good indicator of fat-burning.

They can measure this with huge spectrometers, but that would be too difficult to carry around with you, so they have developed a small device that works with your smartphone to analyze your breath.

Here, we prototype a portable breath acetone analyzer that has two types of semiconductor-based gas sensors with different sensitivity characteristics, enabling the acetone concentration to be calculated while taking into account the presence of ethanol, hydrogen, and humidity. To investigate the accuracy of our prototype and its application in diet support, experiments were conducted on healthy adult volunteers. Breath acetone concentrations obtained from our prototype and from gas chromatography showed a strong correlation throughout the experiments. Moreover, body fat in subjects with a controlled caloric intake and taking exercise decreased significantly, whereas breath acetone concentrations in those subjects increased significantly. These results prove that our prototype is practical and useful for self-monitoring of fat-burning at home or outside. Our prototype will help to prevent and alleviate obesity and diabetes.

This study was sponsored by NTT Docomo, the largest mobile phone provider in Japan, so the idea that your phone could tell you if you are burning off fat may be a reality in the near future.

But is this information helpful?

At this moment, I would say no, but, way back when, I said the same thing about wearable fitness technology, which I ADORE now. More data certainly opened my eyes to my slug-like ways as far as activity is concerned. Perhaps something like this would help me know more about my body.

Or, perhaps it would be just a distraction. I can’t tell right now, but I am excited to see this fat burning breathalyzer show up on the market.

Image via: BACtrack Keychain Breathalizer


I Eat When The Fitbit Tells Me To Eat

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

The Fitbit Flex on my wrist went off at 10 am, but I was trying to write a blog entry. I ignored it. The irony is that I was trying to write an entry for Starling Fitness. I should have just looked at my wrist and realized that I had forgotten the most important thing to keep me eating healthy: I Eat When The Fitbit Tells Me To Eat.

Eat When The Fitbit Tells You to Eat from Starling Fitness

Fitbit Silent Alarms from Starling FitnessThere should be no question about it. I used to want to eat ALL day long without relief from the hunger. It wasn’t until I set alarms every two and a half hours that I found that I could go any amount of time without thinking about food.

Now, I find myself FORGETTING about food and making the alarm go away without bothering to eat. I went a half hour without eating my apple that was already washed and ready to eat. All I had to do was put it in my piehole.

Why? Why do I let myself forget the torment of constant obsession with food and fall into bad habits? As long as I FEED my poor, abused body, it will give me HOURS of time when I won’t even THINK about food. If I had to feed my cat every two and a half hours, I wouldn’t think twice about abandoning my work and jumping up when the alarm went off. Yet, when it comes time to feed MYSELF, I won’t even bother.

And the worst trick of all, is that if I don’t feed myself healthy food every two and a half hours, I get FATTER!! I end up feeling so hungry that I eat an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting. It’s a paradoxical practical joke that I have played on my body for years, and yet, I still haven’t learned how to do it properly.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard. I alternately starved and stuffed my body for YEARS and I’ve only been practicing this type of eating for three months. I’m trying to undo YEARS of bad habits, so I guess it’s going to take some time until this is second nature to me. Until then, I am going to jump when that alarm goes off and stick some food in my piehole!

Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.


My Higher Power: Fitbit Flex

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and twelve-step programs are the first few steps. In particular, the requirement to believe in a Higher Power as you know it. I may not be able to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who actually CARES about my inability to stop eating, but I can lay all my trust in science.

In the past, I have over-counted my exercise. I talked about that here:

Back then, I said:

Since I followed the program exactly, I was very frustrated that I was only losing minimal amounts of weight. I now know why. I am such a SLUG during the day, that I was over-counting my exercise points. What I would have counted as four points, is only showing up as two points with the ActiveLink because my workday is so sedentary.

Fitbit Flex from Starling FitnessMy solution was to count whatever the ActiveLink said, but now that I’m using the Lose It app, I needed something that worked with calories instead of Weight Watchers Points, so I bought a Fitbit Flex with my Christmas money and decided to faithfully use it as my Higher Power. It is ALWAYS on my wrist.

I’ve run into one problem with the Fitbit. I have not been able to get it to accurately measure riding on the exercise bike. I’ve tried wearing it around my ankle under my sock and putting the Fitbit into a Nike+ pocket on my shoe. Neither one showed any significant workout, even though I worked my butt off. This is one case where I need to trust my heart rate monitor and not worry about the outcome.

Additionally, the silent alarms on the the Fitbit Flex are a godsend. I set them for every two and a half hours and when they go off, I eat. No questions asked. I just do what my Higher Power tells me to do. The reason I do this is because eating tiny meals at such regular intervals has helped me be less hungry. I talked about that here:

Just like an anorexic, my hunger response is broken, so I don’t eat when I’m hungry. I would be eating ALL the time if I did. I eat when the Fitbit alarm silently vibrates on my wrist.

It might be strange to consider a fitness gadget my Higher Power, but it has helped me stay honest about the amount of exercise I’m doing and reminds me to eat at regular intervals. I have humbly put my trust in its evaluation of my activity level and faithfully ate whenever it told me to. This simple faith and humility have helped me stay on my program for longer than I have been able to in years, so I’m not going to stop.

Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

Related entries:


My Higher Power: Lose It!

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and twelve-step programs are the first few steps. In particular, the requirement to believe in a Higher Power as you know it. I may not be able to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who actually CARES about my inability to stop eating, but I can lay all my trust in science.

Lose It App from Starling FitnessOne piece of science that has been debated is the Calories In Vs. Calories Out concept. There are those who don’t believe this is the case and that you can eat far more food as long as you tweak the macronutrients. Honestly, I NEVER lost weight when I ate more calories than I burned. I feel fuller when my protein and fat are higher than my carbs, but if I ate more calories than I exercised away, I didn’t lose weight.

So, I decided that one of my atheist Higher Powers was Lose It!. It runs on the web, on an iPhone and an Android phone. I put in my age, gender, weight and height into their system, told them I wanted to lose at least a pound a week and then I have faithfully followed their calorie counts. I just turned over all my food thoughts to Lose It. I can even monitor my carbs, protein and fat percentages, trying to manipulate them to keep me feeling fuller.

Entering food is easy. I can make recipes and find out the calorie counts for our favorite dinners. It even works with my Fitbit.

Most importantly, there is a community aspect to Lose It. If you have friends, you can post on the activity stream, asking for advice. Unlike a prayer to God, my Lose It friends can ANSWER my questions and help me through hard times with words of encouragement and advice. I can set my privacy as much as I want, but I let them see all of my food, exercise and weigh-ins so that they can have the full picture of my food life.

It may sound strange to believe in a web app as one’s Higher Power, but my hunger response is BROKEN. I’m hungry all the time and I can eat until I’m in PAIN and still want to eat more. Using the Lose It app as my Higher Power has relieved me of all those decisions that I used to make about food. Are there calories left in my day? Then I can eat. If not, I’m done. I have just released all of my decisions about food to this Higher Power and my life is more sane because of it.

Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

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