Checkpoint: 2016 That Was Edition

Checkpoint: 2016 That Was Edition

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By many metrics 2016 was a good year for me. I bought my first car, the 2016 Chevy Volt. I’m in best shape of my life. My family is in good health. And I applied and got my first job since starting my career in the public service 10 years ago. I even met some wonderful people and dated a couple of them over the summer. I also joined Facebook in 2016 but the jury is still out on whether that was a positive move. 

I don’t normally reflect on the year that was like this but I feel like I need to take stock and remind myself of some of the positives.

Material

Charting material gains is easy. New job = more money. New car = increase in “status”. And GameDealsCanada continues to do make great strides. I really have no complaint in this department.

I’ve been able to get a lot of things to help my family’s lives both immediate and long term which makes me very happy. 

Physical

I could be working out more efficiently and make greater gains in less time but I choose to go down my own path. As a result of fitness bands, healthier eating and the aformentioned workouts, I physically feel fantastic everyday.

It may sound a bit strange, but I’ve learned to appreciate the outdoors and the city that I live in a lot more since I embraced these fitness bands. Pokemon Go made me aware of some low key landmarks but it didn’t have the lasting power or impact of the Fitbit. Now I take complaints about my abnormally fast walking pace as a compliment.

Mental & Emotional

For the first time ever, I felt the weight of depression during the holidays. It’s a strange sensation because I have always prided myself on being mentally tough. The last few weeks have been mentally exhausting. I don’t even know why because I actually don’t have much to worry or fuss about in the grand scheme of things.

What doesn’t help are the Trump related headlines that I read throughout the latter half of the year. I’m not a political person but Trump’s assault on the very basics of human decency drew me in more and more. Having to explain (or read explanations) on why you should treat people fairly is soul crushing. I need to stop reading his nonsense but it’s just so tough to ignore. 

Loneliness is a factor but I think its a strong case of the “grass always being greener” on the other side. I was in a relationship earlier this year that ended amicably. We reconnected during the holidays and seem to be making this “stay as friends” thing working fine. I have no desire on pursuing a romantic relationship with this person but I have a desire to go out and just spend ultimately meaningless time with her. But if I boil it down further, I don’t necessarily want to be with her but more like the fact that she fills the role of being “good company”. I chalk this all up to holiday sentimental nonsense that I found myself surrounded with. 

I have to thank GiantBomb for helping me stay distracted through it all though. I haven’t watched many shows or movies this year, but GiantBomb’s nonsense has kept me sane. 

Here’s to 2017

I don’t do new year’s resolutions. I just have a set of ever evolving goals that I build upon when I feel like it. I didn’t set out to start working out in 2016, this workout regiment was born in 2015 or so as me wanting to regain some semblance of decent shape with the small goal of being able to lift my own body weight with ease.  I’m not here to set a goal of meeting someone amazing either.

2017 will be like every other year thus far where I stay the course and continue to improve myself as I see fit. I will continue to address the concerns and issues that I face on a daily basis and just enjoy each and every day as much as possible. For instance, the immediate challenge right now is figuring out why my dad’s snowblower’s snow chute isn’t rotating properly. 

I don’t know if I will check in with another post like this at the end of 2017 but I found this helpful this year.

Checkpoint: Fitbit Edition

Checkpoint: Fitbit Edition

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I got the Fitbit Alta for my mother earlier this month and I’ve been very impressed with the fitness band. The Alta may be less capable than my Garmin Vivosmart HR, but it has the essentials while looking stylish and, most importantly, impressive software backing it up.

If I had to do it all over again, I would buy the Fitbit Alta. The Vivosmart HR’s heart rate sensor seemed to have become more inaccurate after the latest 3.40 update. The activity sensor isn’t as accurate as I hoped; it often fails to notice that I’m on a walk and not just moving about. Then there’s the software side of things which missed at least 4 days worth of activity and steps since I’ve started using the band. That’s unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the Fitbit Alta is running laps around Garmin’s Connect software by displaying live step updates.

I continue to chip away at Deus Ex: Mankind Divided but like with the Witcher 3 last year, I’m very tempted to just wait for performance patches or when I pick up the PlayStation 4 Pro later this year. The sluggishness and stutters while wandering through the city of Prague is sad. The performance is adequate while traversing in apartment complexes and other interior spaces but as soon as I’m out in the open, the game struggles to maintain acceptable performance.

Checkpoint: Fitness Edition

Checkpoint: Fitness Edition

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I have this weird relationship with fitness. There’s a clear cut “best route” to take but I refuse to embark on it. I know what I want to achieve and there are superior ways to achieve it but I just refuse to simply go out and jog, follow a P90x routine, hit the gym, lift weights or just go down the well worn path to success. It’s not that I don’t believe those methods are not effective — they just sound incredibly mundane, boring and too much work for me. I needed to buy into a system that worked for me.

I needed a system that worked for me and on my schedule. I started to do push-ups and crunches while watching Pardon The Interruption on TV. It was a 30 minute program and so I would do alternating sets until the program ended. Then I saw a Wii Fit U on sale for $25 or so and was reminded of the benefits of Yoga and I thought to myself: “Why not?” I really enjoyed using it because it provided instantaneous feedback. It was up to me to be honest in my efforts and it required some careful calibration but I genuinely enjoyed using the balance board to measure my improvements.

Now my daily workout shifted from being a 30 minute thing to 50 minutes. I’m watching daily video content from GiantBomb and other Youtube channels of interest. I was going to watch these anyways so why not watch/listen to a few videos while I’m working out.

I also purchased a pull up structure a couple years back in order to do some weightlifting. My goal was to be able to lift my own wait comfortably and I figured this was a great way to see the progress first hand.

As you can see, there are common themes and trends throughout my workout regiment. It had to be relatively easy to work into my daily life without dedicating a lot of time to it. There has to be some form of feedback or progress tracking. And finally, it had to be relatively affordable.

This brings us to my latest purchase: a fitness band. I noticed my brother toning and losing weight after following the activity tracker on his Apple Watch. I don’t like the look or price of the Apple Watch but I wanted the fitness benefits so I looked at fitness bands.

After looking around I landed on the Garmine Vivosmart HR which was a nice blend of features and price. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of smart watch so something like the Vivosmart HR’s screen and notification features fit the bill nicely. So far it’s done everything I wanted but if I were to do it all over again with what I know know, I would have picked up the Fitbit Alta instead. The only criticism I have with the Vivosmart HR is its bulk which can be attributed to the inclusion of the heart rate monitor. While nice to know, my heartrate isn’t something that I need to know to get healthier. If I continue follow the daily activity goals, I’m going to see an improvement regardless.

I’m used to it now but I would have liked to see the Vivosmart HR 5mm thinner. Thankfully it’s light because if it wasn’t, I would have sent it back. It’s supposed to do sleep tracking as well but because of the bulk, I remove it every night before going to bed.

But how has it been as a fitness tracker? I’m well aware of the fact that I didn’t move around nearly enough throughout the day. The regular reminders to get up and move was welcoming and gave me an excuse to just get up and do a lap around the floor to clear the “move bar”. I’m finding excuses to take less efficient routes in order to “get my steps in”. I’ve also forgone sitting around at my desk after eating lunch for a 30 minute walk outside.

Am I seeing the benefits? I’ve owned the fitness band for about a week and half now and I would say yes. I’ve lost about 2 lbs and have the nicest tan in years because of all this walking.

The Pokemon Go app sucks. It’s a bad app that drains my phone’s battery and heats up the case like no other app I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t help that the servers are wonky. But the game itself is fine for what it is. I try to capture some Pokemon while I do my walks but that’s about it. I haven’t done any battling because I don’t care about the battling or claiming territory in this game. I’m trying to keep my phone from dying before the end of the day so it’s not wise to invest so much time in Pokemon Go.

Other than checking out that phenomenon, I’ve been playing daily rounds of Overwatch. What a great game.