Thursday 12 October 2017

Why you need a fitness tracker.

I went to Vancouver a few weeks ago with my mom and my sister; we had lots of champagne, tequila, coffee, good food and laughs, shopping, walking everywhere.. and lots of tracking our steps. Or should I say, these two hardcores were tracking their steps what felt like hourly, comparing, getting competitive over who’s was reading higher, and meanwhile I couldn’t have found it more annoying – although I did like hearing about the calories burnt the one day we tackled 22 THOUSAND STEPS. Whoo Boy – I had a burger that night and enjoyed every single hard-earned bite. Anyway, I found it so annoying and was continually teasing them for being such dorks who obsessed over what their fitness tracker was telling them..

And then three weeks later, I promptly ate my words once I got my own and fell in deep, deep love with being a step tracking asshole myself.

aside - aren't my mom & sister gorgeous?! 

Jake recently got life insurance that included a free fitness tracker band – meant to be an incentive to continue being active & result in lower premiums, however being the stubborn boy he is, was pretty certain he was never going to wear it. Since I wanted to see what kind of steps I was getting in daily, what kind of calorie burn registered just by functioning and what kind of sleep I was getting, I decided to wear it myself and as long as they didn’t realize it was a woman and not a man wearing it, he’d reap the rewards. And oh man, life has been obsessively changed. I fucking love this thing. It stopped working momentarily for a few days and I was pissed because I had some really great active days, and didn’t get to reap the benefits of the app congratulating me. My coworker tried to tell me that as long as I felt proud that was all that mattered. Umm, thank you, I know you’re right technically, but I need that recognition in number form and I was super bitter my little tracker had missed out on recording my 12,000 step day.

I work in an office and sit upwards of 8 hours a day, and I’m a fairly sedentary person when I don’t have a reason to move. I believe the word for that is Lazy? But, I digress. Studies have come out identifying just how horrendously bad this is for your health, and I’d be lying if it didn’t really freak me out. I mean, these days you can just about pick anything and learn that eventually, it’s probably going to kill you if something else doesn’t first. But knowing that my job can shave years off my life, not to mention opens the door to heart disease or possible cancers? Fuck that.  Now here’s the thing: I pride myself on being pretty active, working out 3-4 times a week pretty vigorously, as well as working outside in our yard on the weekends, and going for long walks here and there. So even though my job might be low-key killing me, my exercise at least balances it out, right? Apparently not, because it’s 2017 and we can’t have nice things: these studies have shown that that doesn’t matter, the sitting for these extended periods are quite simply, no Bueno and it doesn’t matter how active you are during your personal time. Talk about a buzzkill/wake up call. Currently trying to figure out a way to get a treadmill desk approved by management.

So, what this tracker does best? It keeps me accountable, and it provides an attainable goal to reach if I just move a bit more than I’m used to. After about an hour or so of inactivity, it beeps at you a warning to move your ass. It continues to do so until you’ve satisfied it and gone for 200 steps, and then it shuts off again. Let’s be honest, how often have you sat at your desk and realized you haven’t gotten up for 4 or more hours!? I certainly have. With this guy, it doesn’t let me unless I ignore it, but then I feel guilty for ignoring it, and I end up going for a walk around the parking lot. This not only satisfies my tracker, it satisfies me. I get some fresh air, it is the quickest tension reliever, and I come back into the office with a bit more pep in my step.

It only took a week or so, but I’ve also become that annoying step tracker like my mom and my sister; I pace while brushing my teeth, pace while my coffee brews, I march in step at the photocopier, march in place while I wash my hands; anything for those steps man, anything. I now park my car at the furthest part of the parking lot at work, or anytime I run errands. I’m realizing now just how few steps I was getting in on rest days, and to be honest it was pretty eye opening. Like I said, this keeps me accountable, but it also shows just how quick & easy these changes are to make, and how they all add up.

This is the particular model I have, here, which is great as a start but it’s not the best. I have to track my workouts through My FitnessPal, because it hasn’t quite figured out my cardio routine yet, and it also doesn’t track heartrate to the extent that I’d like it to. The other day I spent an hour on the elliptical alternating between level 18, 15 & going no lower than 12 – hard as fuck, and makes you go slower because it feels like you’re pushing through sand. It recognized it as a leisurely, slow paced hour long walk for a whopping 110 calories because I was moving slow, whereas the machine read over 600 calories burned. You know, same same, but different.

If you’re looking to take the plunge, there are these options here, here and here. At any price range, having something to keep you accountable and aware is definitely worth it, and in my opinion should be on everyone’s Christmas list. My mom and sister welcomed me to the asshole step tracker’s club, after they (lovingly) made me eat my words. 

Wednesday 4 October 2017

The one in which we subbed pre-marital counselling with puzzles.

Some couples work out their kinks before marriage by going to counselling. Hey, this is no shade, there should be zero shame in going to couple's counselling, or counselling in general for that matter. Personally I love talking & I love plans of action, so counselling is never something I've been ashamed to admit to. So yea, some couples go to counselling to work out the pre-marriage kinks, develop communication tools and conflict resolution skills; sometimes they do it for the sheer fact that their religion kinda makes them do it. Some buy interactive books and do it at home that way; some people go to retreats or seminars. Some people are perfect and don't need anything and just go full steam ahead - sometimes those couples are referred to as liars - I kid, kind of. We here at Casa de Stuch, bought a puzzle. A big ass, puzzle. That was the bain of my existence the second I realized just how fucking hard it was going to be to complete.

So, you know how every couple has a thing that they do? It's just their "thing" they do as a couple. Maybe it's hiking, maybe it's cooking together, maybe it's splitting the paper on Sundays, or playing cards, or dancing in their living room. We don't really have a "thing" specific to us. Well, that's not true, we chirp each other like we're on a hockey team and try not to burst out laughing when we land a really good burn. BUT, I refuse to accept that that is our friggin' thing. It's not, so shut up everybody reading this who is nodding their head thinking uhhh yes it is so your thing. You just zip it.

Jake works long hours, and often when he comes home he's exhausted. I've been really wanting us to get in the habit of doing something together, that doesn't solely include laying in bed on our phones or watching a show, showing each other funny/cute shit, and sneaking a kiss or an arm rub intermittently. I want something we can do together that encourages dialogue, and is unplugged in nature. In short, I'm getting sick of social media or television taking up our rare private time together. However, making someone who's just worked 13 hours go for a walk is an easy recipe for a not good time.

Enter, puzzles. Yes, like the ones your grandma used to do.

I won't take credit for this at all, one of our couple friends mentioned that they do puzzles and the next day we happened to be in a toy store getting a birthday present for our nephew, and there was a whole wall of puzzles! So, we decided to become puzzle people. Did we start off by buying a relatively easy, 300 piece puzzle to get our feet wet?
Of course not! We bought a 2,000 piece puzzle, of Cinque Terre and all of it's beautiful, varied & colorful condos! Because: "That's where we're going to honeymoon! Omg, it's a siiiign!" SUPER EASY. Not at all like learning how to swim by jumping into the middle of the ocean. Not at all like learning how to cook by preparing a souffle for the Queen. Nope, super simple. 

Well, let me tell you something. I did not pull the team here. I dragged down the average, so hard. One thing I didn't anticipate about being a puzzle person is that 2,000 piece puzzles are god damn hard. Here I am, "OMG Babe! I just got thee pieces in row!! Look!" And meanwhile Jake is casually finishing up his 30 piece spree like it's no big deal. Then he points out that my piece doesn't actually fit there. "It's not hard babe, it's just like math. Easy!" So basically, the hobby of my anxiety ridden nightmares. Why didn't we decide to become living room dancers!? I'm a good dancer, ish.

Here's the thing. We both have our shortcomings. Jake, while he is so many wonderful things, is not a teacher. He tries, but god love him, the man is just not a teacher. Or at least a patient one.You should've seen him explaining football to me!  And me? I do not take criticism well, constructive or otherwise. Or even semi decently, especially depending on the time of month. I instantly get my back up and get defensive. Criticism to me instantly reads as judgement against me personally. I know, it's bad, I'm working on it. So what do you get with not a patient teacher, and someone who bristles at criticism? Harmonious hobbying, obviously. The first few nights of puzzle making was a lot less romantic comedy montage of laughs, kissing & wine while a Michelle Branch song played in the background, and a lot more "Stick to your side, this is my side! I had that piece! What the fucking fuck this is so hard why did we pick this stupid fucking puzzle!?" " Sorry, I wasn't yelling at you I was yelling at this STUPID PIECE WHERE DO YOU GO". It. Was. Special.

And you know what happened? It kinda became Jake's hobby for a good two week span, because I hated it and I hated how frustrated I would get at my lack of ability - so to avoid fighting or being snappy, I just left it alone for a while. I would hang out with him, put a piece in here or there, but generally I hung out at the table doing my nails, writing lists or asking him questions while he worked on it. Was it being done the way we originally imagined? No, no it sure wasn't, but we were still spending time together without technology, and we were still talking without being overly distracted.
We figured out my niche was: getting the little condos together,  picking out the pieces Jake needs, and mostly just sitting there keeping him company while he blasts through the puzzle. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and as it turns out, puzzles that have every variation of orange, yellow and blue are not my strength, but they are for Mr. Details. My strength was lending him company, and taking the opportunity to talk to my slightly distracted fiance about the burning questions like:
"How will we schedule time for the two of us when our life gets overwhelming?"
"When and if we encounter possible financial/career troubles, how will we work through it together?"
"What are the pink jobs, and what are the blue jobs?" "No, all the pink jobs can't be the gross ones, you need to do gross ones too, that's the whole point"
"How often will you bring me flowers home without having to be subtly reminded first?"
"How much money would I have to bribe you with to go vegan for a month?" - that's the kind of stuff relationships counselors ask, right?

Who needs pre-marital counselling when you have THIS on your dining room table teaching you how to work together, communicate and conflict resolution? Are we geniuses? No, no we're not. We're two overachievers who jumped into a hobby at the expert end of the pool. By the time Jake had done most of the really hard stuff, is when I came back in to help out, and together we finished it. It was the most exhilarating few hours too the night it was finally complete, when everything just started fitting into place, and we were working together. "Is this piece the one you were looking for? Here you go." "Look babe! I just nailed that entire chunk! Look at us go!"  See? Teamwork makes the Dreamwork. Always, even if half of the team jumped ship for a while and sat on the sidelines maintaining the role of Cheerleader.

After we finished and admired our work, Jake goes "Okay so how about the next one we go for a 5,000 piece?" and then we laughed and laughed until Jake passed out because I was choking him :)