review: UP by Jawbone

Last summer, my roommate made the decision to go Paleo.  Since moving in with me in 2010, both our lives had taken some difficult turns.  While we were both quick to rebound, such challenges usually come with boatloads of stress, which can trigger many other things. In a relatively short amount of time, J found himself the heaviest he’d ever been.  He wore the weight well, and no one (including me) would ever believe he weighed what he did.  But he found himself at a place where he knew change was necessary.

Since then, J has upped his exercise (which was always good) and completely changed his eating habits–no grains, far less sugar/carbs.  He puts coconut oil in his coffee, drinks protein shakes, and doesn’t always eat three meals a day.  He subsists mostly on meat and vegetables.  He doesn’t seem to be feeling deprived at all, and it’s been a lifestyle change that has worked really well for him.  As of today, J has lost about 70 pounds.  It’s been amazing and inspiring to watch.

I’ve never talked much about weight in my blogging.  It’s always been an intensely personal thing for me–mostly because my struggle with it has lasted my whole life and has challenged me right to my core.  I have been every weight imaginable.  For years, I thought I had the whole thing under control–that I had it all figured out.  Then, life happened.  I hurt my knee and got diagnosed with a thyroid condition–in which the cure messed up my metabolism.  For a while, I didn’t give a crap about it.  Now, I guess I’m at a point where I don’t really care about my weight.  I care about how I feel.  I care about what I’m able to do.  I care about my health.  I don’t want to struggle with heart disease or some other illness down the road.  And, knock on wood, I’ve weathered the struggles with weight pretty well health-wise.

I’m still figuring things out.  I have my good and bad days.  Like I said yesterday, I’m in the midst of a revolution.  That hits everything, including–and maybe most especially–how I take care of myself.  Since my roomie’s decision, I haven’t been down the Paleo road.  But I have changed how I eat.  For the most part, I eat all organic.  I avoid GMOs.  I don’t eat much soy or peanut butter.  I stay away from HFCS, especially sodas.  I drink a lot more tea.  I try (and mostly fail) to avoid gluten.  I try to eat local and grass-fed.  I eat high quality fats and things that don’t have lots of chemicals/additives.  And if I’m gonna eat something bad, I make sure it’s the best damn something I can find.  I also take lots of supplements–something I’ve never ever done.  I’m finding I’m much more comfortable with alternative medicine than traditional–and I feel so much better.

I’m down about 40 pounds since November, which is actually pretty awesome since I didn’t really try to lose anything.  All I did was make simple shifts.  When I did actively try to lose weight with the Virgin Diet, it was mostly as an experiment to figure out what was making me feel so terrible all the time.  I ended up gaining weight and reversing some of the good I did just by eating like I wanted.  The minute I stopped, I started losing again.  Since that time in January, I’ve purposefully let my freak flag fly food-wise because I knew I could really mess up my metabolism again.   I’ve been careful to manage the thyroid, and I feel like it’s finally functioning as it should.  So, now, I feel like it’s time to test myself and make some more small steps.  I’ve realized, for me, that food is a very small part of the equation.  I have good instincts.  The things I want to eat, usually, are healthy.  If I’m taking care of my nutritional needs, I don’t crave crap.  But I am the world’s worst person when it comes to eating regularly, sleeping, remembering medicine, etc.  I am focusing more on finding ways to be more consistent, as well as dealing with tough emotional stuff, and just being more active–in baby steps.

I don’t like talking about weight, honestly.  It makes me uncomfortable.  That’s how I know it’s something that’s tender and vulnerable–something I need to pay attention to.  As much as I admire great bloggers who share their emotional and physical journeys with the entire planet, I’m just not there.  Anything I do in this regard needs to come from me–not some people-pleasing part of me–which is where it always came from in the past.  It’s taken me a long time to accept every part of who I am.  I feel like I do, but it’s shaky ground.   I’m comfortable in my own skin, for the most part, but I feel like I’m rebuilding parts of me from the ground up–and that requires a bit of privacy.  But I still want to share when I have victories and when things work for me.  Mostly because I know I’m not alone in this struggle–and I don’t want people to suffer the way I have.

###

My roommate is a gadget guy.  I think that comes from his developer brain.  He likes to figure out how things work.  He’s good at fixing things.  So, it’s no surprise he got a FitBit.  And then another more advanced FitBit.  And then UP, in addition to his FitBit.  I probably rolled my eyes and mumbled about it being obsessive and excessive.  I got irritated when he’d enter his food into his app while we’d be talking about something or other.  I may have been judgmental.

I think–mostly–because whenever I’ve done the same thing–it put me in a crazy, obsessive place where all I thought about was food.  It’s why I’ve never kept a food diary for long.

But I saw it was working for him, so I was curious about the technology.  He gave me a FitBit, and it went unused after the first day.  It wasn’t really practical for me, and I probably just wasn’t interested.  Over the past few months, though, as things got more crazy life-wise, I noticed I was reverting back to my typical insomniac ways.  If I did sleep, it was at weird hours and poor sleep.  I wasn’t eating breakfast or lunch because I was too busy or never hungry.  I wasn’t drinking water for no real reason at all.  I was forgetting to do things to the point that I had to set alarms.  And I was getting sick all the damn time.

I happened to be watching TV one morning before work, and someone started talking about UP by Jawbone–or what I called the tire thing on my roomie’s wrist.  They showed the app, and I really liked it.  And then, I saw data–about sleep, mostly.

Welp.  That did it.  Spreadsheets?!  Okay.

So, I told my roommate I wanted one.  I meant for my birthday or Christmas.  And on Sunday, he came home with one.

###

I really like UP.  My battery was dead when I got it, so I had to charge it up–but it was pretty easy to do.  The whole thing is pretty intuitive.  Mine looks like a colorful bracelet.  It’s not so comfortable, to me, but I think that’s because I don’t wear things on my wrist normally.  You can wear it in the shower–but I don’t because I’m not one to push that limit.  It logs your sleep, your food, your steps, your water intake, and your mood.  It’s all quite easy.

What I like, though, is that I can’t just look at my wrist and see all this info.  I have to sync it with my phone–which means it takes me out of my routine and makes me present for me.  For a minute, I have to be cognizant of my body and how I’ve been treating it that day.

I can see that I didn’t move much in the last hour and immediately set an alarm to buzz me a reminder to walk or do something.  I can check my stats before lunch and see that I ate a ton of crap today, so maybe I should just have some veggies.  I can see that I’ve only had 1 glass of water all day and then remember to go get some.

For me, this device reminds me to do the things I want to do–to be cognizant that I’m not doing them.  It forces me to check in with myself.  This is genius for me–the girl who checks in with everyone except herself.  It’s a reminder to take care.

Since starting the UP band, I’ve actually drank water all day long–even the amount I’m supposed to drink.  When I get ice, I remember to put water in the glass.  When I have terrible sleep, I remember I need to take a nap.  The device makes sure it’s the optimum sleep I can get too, by waking me up at the exact right time.  I can log my food without feeling crazy because I’m syncing up anyway.  When I go to the bathroom, I power walk in place to get more steps in–mostly because I’m competitive and want to beat my steps from the day before.  Since Sunday, I’ve tripled my steps and slept twice as long.  I even ate three meals yesterday.

I still have to make the choices, but it makes making those choices a lot easier.

The UP band doesn’t have the gadgetry necessary to record blood pressure, heart, rate, etc.  However, I think it’s a great tool for anyone struggling to do the simplest things–like me.  Once you change your mindset, it’s possible to change everything.

My roommate and I were talking the other day about these types of things–health-related apps.  Mostly because his company was recognized by President Obama for helping make health more accessible to people.

It’s so crazy to think about how much the Internet can change health for the better.  Personal apps can make the difference in whether people live or die.  There are so many things this type of technology can do for people to make them take action when they absolutely need to.  I can’t help but think it would have made a difference in my Mama’s death…that perhaps, had she had an app telling her what was happening she would have gone to the doctor before CHF kicked in.

We live in exciting times.  But the best news is that these tools really make it possible for us to take responsibility and be active participants in our own health and the health of our loved ones.  The more accessible things are, the fewer people will die and the better people’s lives will be.

I think I may be the new gadget junkie.

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