KiFit Body Monitor – The Update

I’ve been wearing KiFit body monitor for 3 weeks now and have just downloaded the stats for analysis.

I love this bit. I have masses of data points for each day and feel compelled to create myself a database to store it all in. I can look back on each day determine my calorie intake, activity level, calorie expenditure, sleep quality, nutrient %, alcohol overload and probably more.

At the moment I am having to make do with a spreadsheet but that is fascinating enough.

I’ve matched the daily calorie deficit with a predicted weightoss (on the basis of 3500 calorie deficit = 1 pound) and matched it with actual weightloss.

Despite having a marvelous second week, this last week has been pants and my three week total was a paltry 2lbs. The calculated cumulative deficit suggests I should have lost a far more acceptable 6 lbs. I’m not dejected though, as I have the data to fall back on.

A quick glance over the stats reveals a few discrepancies. I didn’t enter any food on the first day of registering the KiFit armband and another day I forgot to enter my dinner. These knocked the expected weightloss down to 5lbs and then Lynn started looking over it with a critical eye. “Did you record those chocolate orange segments on Friday night?”

What chocolate orange segments?

I staggered home somewhat inebriated on Friday and only vaguely remember stealing the kids sweets. Having been prompted though, a few more sins crept out of the woodwork. There had been a stick of rock upstairs for quite some weeks and that seemed to disappear on that Friday night too. I woke up on Saturday to find the wrapper in the bin. I “forgot” to enter the smoothie I had at lunch yesterday and Thursday’s 50g pack of peanuts was recorded as 1 peanut rather than 1 bag of peanuts.

Having cleared up the data my expected weight loss dropped to 4lbs and no doubt a few other items bypassed the recording phase on their way to my mouth. So I think we are sufficiently within the bounds of acceptable data entry error for me to accept the data and start to draw some conclusions.

I haven’t exactly been hitting all my targets and the only one I’ve surpassed is the calories consumed target. Not the best one to pick.

I’ve run over my daily calorie consumption as well and looked back to the days where I came in under the 1700 cal target. I think I’ve got loads of room for improvement and I should be able to make progress without too much pain.

Over the next 3 weeks I’ll be making renewed efforts to hit my step target and to limit the food intake – I need to build that calorie deficit up.

I’ve found the KiFit experience to be fascinating. I really am quite a sedentary beast at heart. I’ve had 25 mins on the treadmill today, running through a high intensity routine and have still only managed to record 600 steps by 8pm. It’s easy to see how you could lull yourself into a false sense of security by partaking in the occasional gym based exercise and spend the rest of the day with your feet up consuming recovery drinks.

Running Snacks and Protein

I’m on the look out for the perfect running snack to sustain me through the long runs. I know that the sugar laden syrupy shots are very popular, but they make me gag and besides, refined carbs play havoc with my weight.

As a runner with a weight problem I struggle with the concept of sports drinks and nutrition, it absolutely galls me to replace all the calories that I’ve just struggled to sweat off with a sweet sports drink or jelly bean. If I attempt to run on water alone though I crash terribly after 10k.

I’m having a little bit of success with my weight loss at the moment by monitoring intake and expenditure with the ki-fit body monitoring gadget and dabbling with a slow carb diet. This basically means I’m restricting refined white carbs such as bread, rice, pasta and increasing the proportion of protein in my diet.

Any form of diet that balances protein and carb intake seems to work for me and as a result I’ve been dabbling with a huge array of snack bars that have a higher than typical protein content.

Don’t worry – I didn’t eat all these at once!

They aren’t particularly easy to get hold of and like anything that comes out of a health food shop they are shockingly expensive. The protein flapjack bar was an astounding £1.99

The Trek energy bars and Clif bar are my favourites. They have a very satisfying texture. Solid and chewy but not too difficult to manage between short gasps while on the run. They hold together pretty well too, and remain in one piece despite being crammed into a waistpack or rucksac and you can just break off pieces as you go. They work pretty well as emergency sustenance at work too, the protein content seems to extend the duration of satisfaction so you don’t get the high and slump associated with highly sugared snacks.

In the Great North run goodie bag there was a pack of Powerbar Ride Shots. They look pretty disgusting on the pack and remained in my drawer for months. Following my new protein craze though, I’ve been encouraged to retrieve them and I’ve used them on my last two running commutes and have found them to be ideal. They have a firm jelly consistency with a citrus centre. They stay in the mouth just a little too long for heavy breathing comfort but because they aren’t too sweet they can sit in your cheek to be savoured slowly.

I was sent some Nature Valley Granola bars to try out the other week. These aren’t protein enriched, having about 3g of protein per bar compared to approx 9g in the Clif and Trek bars, but I wanted to try them out as a possible running fuel.

Granola is very popular with ultra runners so it ought to be perfect for my more modest yet time consuming runs.

They are delicious but I find them just a little too crumbly for running with. When you start to break them up they fall to pieces and you end up trying to snaffle up individual oat flakes. They are best served at home, with a cup of tea and preferably with your feet up.

Ki Fit Body Monitoring Gadget

I’ve been watching back to back episodes of the Biggest Loser for quite some time now and in the later series the Bodybugg became an integral feature on the flabby arms of the contestants.

I’m not sure why the new gadget took so long to register with me but within three days of me acknowledging the device and researching it on the web, I was donning the British version on my own flabby arm.

The British version is sold as the Ki Fit and looks the same as the US Bodymedia gizmo but the subscription service has supposedly been optimised for the UK market.

It’s a fairly pricey piece of kit or at least it becomes so once you’ve bought the obligatory subscription to the web service. I went down the expensive route and bought the premium option with the shortest subscription. Everyone in this household was very keen to point out that gadgets have a notoriously short half life for me, so I compromised and committed to 3 months only.

The KiFit is a 24/7 body monitoring device. It has a number of sensors that pick up movement, skin temperature, conductivity and who knows what else to determine your metabolic rate or calorie burn per minute.

I’ve no idea how accurate it is. Of course the website claims its super accurate and clinically proven but I’m a little cynical. I’ve still be drawn in though and by day 4 I am loving it. As with most things, such as weighing scales, fat percentage monitors and skin fold calipers, it is consistency that holds the key, absolute accuracy is probably a pipe dream.

This gadget enables me to derive some form of analytical study of my lethargic body. Calories out, activity rate, sleep efficiency and providing I log my food intake properly I’ve got the calories in part, sussed as well. It feels as though some element of control has been handed back to me. There is no need to guess whether I’ve balanced the activity and food well enough to put me into a calorie deficit.

The web service is key to bringing the whole thing together and I am incredibly impressed with the system. It works so well – even on a mac!

Here is the activity breakdown from today. I’ve been trying to get on my feet a bit more than usual, so I had a very short stint on the treadmill at lunchtime and a walk around the common before tea. On a working day I’ve been shocked to find that my time at work is no more taxing than a night in bed, my activity level rarely moves above comatose.

I’ve set the target at 10,000 steps per day, and given my days are generally pretty sedentary, its a reasonably stretching challenge. I was still on the treadmill at 11:45 last night trying to reach the desired number.

The sleep monitor perplexes me somewhat, I can’t decide what it detects. This recording comes from Friday night so I managed a long lie in and the best sleep efficiency rating to date. The past two nights I’ve recorded less than 5 hours sleep and regardless of the duration, my night is always broken into multiple chunks. Is it normal to wake so often?

Monitoring the calorie intake is obviously a vital part of the equation and I’ve found the website offers the best interpretation of a food diary that I’ve tried to date. The search facility is fast and accurate and enables you to select items by serving size or weight, which is very handy if you are eating out or with friends and don’t feel able to pull out the scales. Where food items aren’t available you can enter them extremely easily. I actually prefer to do this anyway so that I can be sure the data is accurate and it is particularly useful when when you make up a meal from scratch.

My only problem is that I can’t easily access the website from work so I use the Tap and Track iPhone app to record my intake during the day and then manually transfer the details in the evening. I notice the US site is offering a native iPhone app for recording food intake on the go and hope the UK version isn’t going to be far behind.

I’m going to maintain a photo food journal and kifit stats resource on the semi-anonymous posterous site. If you are interested in seeing my daily intake, feel free to check it out.

9 Top iPhone Apps for Runners

I’ve been running with my iPhone for a couple of years and I think I have now got a fairly stable armory of running or health related apps that I would be prepared to recommend. I’ll split them into 4 sections and go from there.

The Running Logs

The iPhone is my ever present mobile computer. It bothers me that my training logs are locked away on the laptop at home, or worse, spread across a few online logs like Garmin Connect, Adidas miCoach and Fetcheveryone. Surely when someone asks me how my training has been going for GNR or VLM, I ought to be able to pull out my phone and demonstrate with a pretty chart or a weekly distance log. It’s taken a bit of effort but I can now do that. Of course no one has asked how my training has been going for a while.

Athlete Diary (web link) (iTunes Link)

So for example I have set up a few keywords such as wt, Avg HR, Shoe 1 etc. Each keyword can be defined as total, avg or non-numeric which determines how it is shown on the charts and summaries. As far as I know there aren’t any limits to the number of keywords you can have but it does pay to think about it at the start so you can build up a consistent data set as you go along.

Having set up the keywords I can head back to the search facility and select the date period covering the last year, select running as my sport and perhaps select the training type as race. If I now look at the log it will show me all the running races in the last year. Moving to the summary sheets the same applies – running races in the last year. If I now choose the chart option I can select the keyword of interest so for example max HR to show the variation across the selected events. If I selected a specific keyword in the search facility such as Shoe 1 my log and summaries would show all the runs where I wore shoe 1.

It is such a customisable application that is very nearly worth £11.99

The feature that makes me so particularly happy about my purchase is the import/export functionality. The designers have gone to huge effort to enable you to get all your data into the log. It’s a bit of a faff and I had to wipe the database clean and start afresh a few times before I got the hang of it but I do now have every single run from the last 4 years loaded up. I pulled data out of Sporttracks, Garmin connect, Fetch and others, faffed around with it in excel to get the right format, converted to a text file, emailed it to my phone and the copy and pasted it directly into the import screen of Athlete Diary – Genius!

It’s hard to believe how happy that makes me. All my data inside my little phone. The Athlete’s Diary – Stevens Creek Software is well worth the initial investment in time and money.

HRM Log FM (web link) (iTunes Link)
Before I came across the Athlete Diary I was convinced that the answer to my problems was an app that synced with Garmin Connect. Admittedly I don’t have all my runs on there, I had a life pre-GPS and sometimes I run on the treadmill but in recent times it is fair to say that most have been uploaded to Garmin Connect. Garmin Connect is a terrible website though and it doesn’t help me get the stats and data on my phone.

After a lot of searching I came across HRM Log FM. As an app it doesn’t do a lot, you can’t add runs or modify data in any way but it is a perfect way to view data stored on Garmin Connect. The sync is fairly painless and new runs are added to a calendar view, clicking through enables you to view the details – summary, lap details and a pace and heart rate chart. The route map isn’t shown unfortunately but it’s still very useful.

The GPS Apps

I am not a big fan of the GPS apps but then I have a Garmin Forerunner so why would I bother?

The GPS reception is not as good as the purpose built watches and the effort drains the battery far too quickly for my liking. The last time I used it I nearly found myself stranded at the end of the Wandle Trail with no juice left to call for my pick up vehicle.

Having said that I have tried a good few and have been impressed with two: Adidas miCoach and Nike+ GPS. I’ve previously reviewed the Adidas mobile miCoach app and you can read that here.

Technical Running Stuff

PaceCalc (web link) (iTunes Link)

A very simple little app. There are many websites around that will perform the same function but it’s handy to have it wrapped up in a stand alone program.

You enter your time for a race or a custom distance and Runner’s PaceCalc FM returns a screen with pace and speed conversions in metric and imperial and then on another screen it displays projected race times on the basis of your entry. It also provides a series of recommended training paces.

Cadence (web link)

This is perhaps a bit gimmicky but I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about efficient running styles at the moment. I don’t have one but would like one and apparently one of the ways to get there is to shorten your stride length and increase your step rate or cadence. 180 steps per minute is the holy grail apparently. Seems unattainable to me but I’m happy to give it go.

This app is just a running styled metronome, I set the rate to 180 (or some other number) and the little feet beat out the pace for me to follow.

That’s all there is to it.

Diet and Weight

Some runners and particularly this one, need to keep on top of their weight, or more accurately chase after it like a hurtling runaway train.

I’ve got two favourites weight logs, True Weight and FatWatch.

True Weight (web link) (iTunes Link)
I’ve used True Weight for a long time, it’s very simple and uses the Hackers Diet principles to show the “true weight” after all the fluctuations have been smoothed. The display is clear and you can view the actual weight recorded as well as the trend line.

I have to admit that unfortunately, these figures are not mine.

FatWatch (web link) (iTunes Link)
I recently moved over to FatWatch as I wanted to record both my weight and my fat %.

It uses a very similar method for plotting the trend and allows you to set a goal and show your progression (or lack of) against it.

Both applications enable you to export your data via email so you need never lose data to a locked in app again.

As you can see I have an unfavourable divergence between the green (target) and red (trend) line so it’s time to take remedial action and start the calorie controlled approach for a while. This is where the last app comes into it’s own.

Tap&Track (web link) (iTunes Link)

This app gets reviewed all over and has proved to be incredibly popular because its so intuitive and smooth to use.

You start by entering your height and weight details and after setting your weight loss goals it determines your daily calorie allowance. By the grace of god or perhaps metabolism, you can increase your daily allowance by logging some exercise. I’ve just this minute bagged 30 mins on the treadmill so that I can polish off half a bottle of bubbly without having scale anxiety tomorrow morning.

Tap & Track -Calorie Counter is a typical food, exercise and weight log and works on the principal that if you diligently record everything that you eat, you might just think twice about putting it in your mouth. I find it quite effective but you have to be strict and record everything.

Like most of these logs it has the American bias but it does still seem to have a lot of foods available locally (including Sainsburys and Pret a Manger) and besides its an absolute doddle to enter your own items which you can then save to your favourites list. I don’t mind doing this, when I go on a diet I tend to eat a rotation of very similar foods so after a fortnight I’ll have just about all the options covered.

I read reviews where people doubt the accuracy of some of the nutritional entries, I’ve found a few problems as well so its advisable to sense check new items or enter them yourself from the label.

It doesn’t seem to handle alcohol particularly well. I’ve entered the details for Stella manually but it doesn’t have a section for alcohol content and so the nutrition chart doesn’t include a piece of pie for the proportion of calories that comes from alcohol. That’s a bit of a shame for me but maybe something they could easily add as an update.

Despite a few niggles, this app is a joy to use, very well designed and so far it seems to be helping me towards my goal.

So there you have it, 9 top iPhone apps for runners, have I missed any must have apps? Let me know.

BPTT Update for 28th April

Cutting to the chase, I have to announce that my pb streak has come to an end.

I’m blaming the muesli.

I’ve just started keeping a food log on my trainingpeaks account which means I have to weigh everything before I put it on my plate. I tipped the recommended 50g of muesli into my bowl and decided the portion sizes must have been determined for kids (skinny ones at that) so I took it up to 75g. Then a stray raisin tipped over the edge taking it 78g so of course I had to continue to round the number off. Let me say, running on 100g of muesli is tough going!

5km in 34:30

Blogging Fame and Underwear

My blog has recently been discovered by a health and fitness magazine who have approached me to appear in the next issue, sporting all my running glory. It seems they stumbled across my site through some search combination of “fat and couch potato” and would like me to take part in an article supporting the claim that you can be both fat and fit.

I somehow agreed, in part due to my inability to say no to almost anything (a fact which almost saw me married to a Jamaican bus driver who produced air tickets to his homeland, where he intended us to celebrate our nuptials, all after my second ride in his no 52 bus). I am kicking myself now (about the magazine not the bus driver), the interview went fine but I am due to attend a “photo shoot” tomorrow.

This is just not my cup of tea! I have had a phone call from the mag to discuss details for tomorrow. They want to know about my bras. They want to know if I have skin or white bras, what type they are and if they are frilly. I don’t possess anything in skin, its far too silence of the lambs for my liking, I have white or was once white but I really don’t want to go showing it to anyone, especially not readers of a magazine or worse, freaky internet weirdos pretending to be magazine photographers.

I have to have my hair done too and make up, and I have to wear clothes that they provide! I wonder if they know how difficult it is for the ample woman to buy sporting gear. Size 16 cycle clothes have got to be the equivalent of size 8 in M&S. I can just see them squeezing me into some horrendous hot pant and tank top combo with my off-white grey bra bulging out the side, and lipstick. Uggh! Then they are going to photograph me and I’m going to have my sulking face on and they are going to splatter me across some magazine page and my friends are gonna see and I’ll never live it down!

waaaaaaaah!

Where’s the wine? I need to drink and then go to bed and sleep right the way through tomorrow and then I can come back and delete this post like it was some terrible nightmare I managed to live through.

End of BfL Challenge 1

I have officially completed my first Body for Life challenge although I’m ashamed to admit that it kind of just fizzled out towards the end.

I made the most progress in the first 6 weeks and the second half saw me fighting to maintain this. Anyway I can’t complain, I managed to lose another stone in total.

I’ll definately start another challenge after I’ve settled at work and found another gym where I can shift some weights. In the meantime I’ll keep up the running and keep an eye on my weight so that I don’t move backwards.

It’s been a week since my last BFL post

Oh I feel like it’s time for a major confession. I have been slacking big time. I’ve stopped recording my meals and I’ve ignored the last note to self which required me to stop having alcohol. Everything is slipping badly, I keep drinking beer and port and there have been more than a couple of chocolate muffins making their way into my gut this week!
The only positive is that my running has increased pretty dramatically but even then I am guaging my performance on how many muffins it entitles me to eat.
Not good!
I’ve just been skim reading the life history of a blogger who appears to have started the Body for Life scheme (or similar) about 6 months ago and seems to have made quite dramatic fitness gains in the process. It’s quite motivating.

Body For Life – 5 week update

So I am about 5 weeks into the BFL – Body for Life challenge and thought it was perhaps time to drop in an update and outline my progress so far.

There have been a few changes, the weight has started to drop – 9lbs in total. I lost a bit in the first couple of weeks and then as usual I hit a plateau and then over the last few days its started to drop a bit again. Here’s the weight chart:

bfl5wkweightupdate.jpg

 

bfl5wkfatmuscleupdate.jpg

 

There also appears to have been some change to my body composition, with a small but definate (I think) increase in muscle mass and a decrease in the body fat mass – which is what I’m in it for.

I am probably not quite on target to achieve my high weight loss goals for this challenge, so I better start making more of an effort. I am spot on with the exercise, doing more cardio than prescribed and working hard with the weight training. I am mostly ok with the diet but I am allowing myself a drink once or twice a week, which I really ought to stop.

Generally I have found the diet ok. It took a while to fathom out what I needed to eat to get a portion of protein and carb at each meal but when that was sorted I find my six meals a day amounts to about 1800 cals a day. Thats not bad – all about portion control.

A typical days food intake will be:
Breakfast – Banana and protein smoothie
AM Break – Ham slices and 3 rice cakes
Lunch – Chicken fillets, couscous and carrots
PM Break – Myoplex Diet shake
Tea – Grilled Tuna, new potatoes, cabbage
Evening – Cottage cheese and 3 rice cakes

Initially I was sceptical of the protein supplements but they are a blessing. It’s hard work preparing so many meals with 1 portion of carbs and 1 portion of protein, particularly at breakfast. The protein powder means I can have a nutritious fruit shake and still get the protein I need. The myoplex diet is useful after my gym workout as its easy and actually feeds my sweet cravings as its basically the only pudding style food I allow myself.

I think the program has proved very positive so far. It has given me a boost on the fitness front again as I’ve joined the gym and go every day. Not only does this mean that I’m lifting weights but I also use the treadmill. My running has shifted up a gear as a result. Since I’ve started BFL, I ran my first 5k, this morning I increased this to 7k and I’m registered in a 10k event for October.

First Goal Knocked on the Head

I was told this morning that I was arsey, something that I attributed to my restrictive diet but it’s got to lunch time and I am now on a high!

No, I haven’t gone on a major blowout and gorged myself on bangers and mash. Nope I have been to the gym.

I went on the treadmill, and after my usual 20 min run I decided to keep going. For the first time ever I managed to run 5 km non stop! Yeah, my first goal completed already. It has to be said, I only managed this, because my occassional gym buddy came to tea this morning, boasting that he had run 2.5 km in 15 mins. I am so god damn competitive I had to find someway to top it. Lets hope he doesn’t do 10 km tomorrow or I’ll be stuffed.

Anyway, I now have a yardstick to measure my progress by:
5 km treadmill run: 40 mins