Wednesday, August 05, 2015


Activity trackers worry me. They feel like they're one of the systems of control we are all baked in every day. I always worry about obsession with numbers as opposed to ... experience. In other words if you do some kind of exercise and it feels good then isn't that enough to make you want to do it again? Isn't that better than holding to a random metric? I could go on and on.
I love gadgets.
There was a commercial in which a woman is swimming and then she puts a disc on her smart phone and gets ... DATA!!! Ooooo. What's that? Google?
It was a Shine and at the time of the commercial it wasn't even available. But because I had searched for it I'd see ads for it and ads for similar things and finally (after many months) I decided I wanted it.
I was interested in tracking my swim and my sleep. I've wondered if I have Apnea although I doubted it because I'm usually awakened (or kept awake) by pain, needing to pee and my yammering brain. If I stop breathing the other things will likely snap me out of it. And I'm not really sleepy all day, which I understand is a symptom. Sometimes in the late afternoon I crash a bit but I don't feel like I have a big problem. And the Shine has more or less confirmed that.
It has a three color graph that reads dark for restful sleep, lighter for light sleep and really light for awake. I always wake up at least twice a night (more if the mommy is in the nest), I usually sleep between 6 and 7 hours a night, about half of which is restful sleep. If you stacked up all my graphs for a month it would show that I don't really sleep the same way every night. The mommy has an impact (not a good one) and I usually have a "recovery" night when she goes back to her apartment.
I was a little disappointed in the amount of data on swimming. Shine makes you set a activity point goal. I set a really low goal. I make more than my goal during the time I swim. On days when I swim I usually more than double my goal. But on non swim days I sometimes don't make it, or I barely make it. On mommy days I usually make it. There's always "activity" related to her care. There have been some -uh- funny moments.
When I first got it I was manically checking all day. One day I arrived at the evening (AKA the time I stop moving) and I was kind of far from my goal. I checked after every trip to the bathroom. I washed dishes that might have left in the sink. I fidgeted. Squirmed. Checked. I made it. There's a commercial right now for the Apple phone (I think) in which people read the activity tracker and react. The last scene shows a fellow obviously ready for bed when he checks in and sees he hasn't quite made his goal so he snaps up and does some jumping jacks. It makes me smile. Or is it a grimace?
Remember that exercise thing in 1984?

I discovered that I get slightly more points when I read than if I watch a movie. One night I was settling in for a movie and noticed that I felt OK about it because I had been to the pool and was way past my goal. That's exactly the kind of thing I do not want. I do not want plastic and metal determining how I feel about anything, ever.
My Shine broke after a month. They replaced it but it took a week so the addiction broke. I stopped all the checking. Until yesterday. I was hyper and bored. I checked in the morning to see my sleep chart. I checked right before I went to the pool, which I often do just to see where I'm at. I checked after my swim and saw that I was past goal. OK. I usually don't check again until the end of the day but yesterday I kept finding reasons to check. At some point I saw that I was close to doubling my goal and got hyper again. (Made it!)
The good thing has been that I now do some yoga every morning. Not much. And the tracking on yoga is really weak. No real data. Basically you tell it to record that you did yoga and it does. I have no idea why this record that no one but me will ever see has created the space for me to do something that I love but can't get it together to do. I do understand how documenting creates awareness.
When I first started the yoga I was so stiff. I'm having more joint pain lately.  A few months later I stand a little straighter. I can't overstate how small the amount of focused yoga I do is but it does cause me to stretch more often during the day.
So that's good.
The Shine gives you a calories burned number for specific activity and the day. It seems a bit off. Either way to high or not high enough. You can take a picture of what you eat and add it to your day but there's no data. I took a picture of my French toast one day. It was pretty. I'm not dealing with calories.
And you can record your weight, which I do when I'm at the doctor's office but I am not going to do on a daily, or weekly basis.
I am a bit - oh I don't know - annoyed that I get the same amount of points for a day that I do for an hour in the pool. But it does make sense. I have some pain on the pool but not anywhere near what I have outside of it. My activity graphs are spiky. I get up and do as much as I can before it starts to hurt and then I sit down. Wait for the pain to abate and then get back up. So it does make sense. And it doesn't really mean much.
Funny also. I realized as I was writing that I mention commercials twice. Systems of control?