Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nike FuelBand

A while back I promised to write about the tools I'm using to motivate myself to get in shape. Now that I've been using them for a while I can show you that they are working! Today I'll tell you about a device called the Nike+ Fuel Band.

It takes the form of an unobtrusive black bracelet while it silently measures your movements and updates your daily activity score. This score is a new concept - a brand new generic unit of measurement called Nike Fuelpoints. Its purpose is to level the playing field for people of all body shapes and sizes. A heavy person burns more calories walking a mile than a light person, but they would each earn the same number of points as Nike measures them. Yes, the device also measures calories and steps taken, but I don't know how accurate those measurements are.

Here's my score after waking up, taking a shower, boiling water for tea and carrying my tea tray to the kitchen.

The red and green dot make more sense a little later in the day when you can see more of the dots. The green dot is the goal I've set for myself. When these pics were taken, I think my goal was about 3500. Throughout the day, I push the button to display the time and get a sense of how far the bar graph has progressed.

When I want to know my score, I push the button twice to display the actual number.

The motivating effect of this simple device is pretty amazing. I rapidly found myself doing extra things in a day just to get my score up. And, if my score was low after dinner, I'd go for a walk. With my goal set as high as it is, I have to stay active all day to make it. It would take something like a 10-mile run to get a days' points after dinner.

Now, this functionality is pretty amazing, but it gets better. The Fuel Band syncs with my iPod through Bluetooth to upload all of my activity history. The chart below is for today. I started the day a little different than normal. Since we had a house meeting this morning, I started in the studio at 5:30. Then, around 7:00, I left for my regular morning routine - a brisk 5-mile hike in the forest. At 9:00 there's a 15-minute workout and then it's back to the studio until the big dip, the house meeting. At 5:30, there's meditation before dinner and then a short, gentle walk to "help digest".

If we look back over the last two months, you can see that this device has been doing exactly what it was intended to do - keeping me more active. You can see a steady escalation in my daily activity after Coupeville. (After one day spent mostly in bed. Those shows are exhausting!) See the thin blue line behind the bars? That's my activity goal for the day. I kept moving it higher and higher until it was kind of hard to reach without some real exercise.

And, you can see that September has not been as successful. I'll explain that when I write about my new diet. It took a few days of sluggishness to get my body used to functioning without lots of sugar and caffeine, but you can see that I'm back in the saddle!

There lots of other bells and whistles (sometimes literally) with this app, but there's one other piece that really keeps me motivated. It's the "Streak". A streak is a series of days in a row wherein I met my goal.

My longest streak was 26 days. It got broken when I placed Jacob's loom setup at a higher priority than exercising. It was a calculated risk, and I was hyper-aware of the decision I was making thanks to the Fuel Band and its records.

And now that I'm pretty well adjusted to my new diet and exercise program, there's nothing keeping me from beating my previous streak record. I'm on Day 5 right now. Just three more weeks of disciplined exercise until I beat my record!

See? The self-competitive game aspect of this thing is addictive and the end result is more exercise and better health. Awesome, huh?

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