Category Archives: technology

The Apple Watch and other Activity Trackers

20 Years Without a Watch

Until recently, it had been about 20 years since I’d worn a watch. Back in the 1990s, my classic Casio analog watch cost under $20 and served me well for many years. In part, my desire to stop wearing a watch was a result of not wanting to be so focused on time, and it was one less object of distraction in my field of vision.

In October of 2016, I purchased an Apple Watch which arrived in November of 2016. Recently I had someone ask my opinion of the Apple Watch. Having used it for a few months, would I go back and do it again? In other words, is it a product that seems worthwhile owning. My response was not the typical enthusiastic fanboy reply that I’ve had with some products I own: “Yes! I love it! It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever owned!” Instead, I had to think a bit. Was it worth it?

What would I advise others about this almost embarrassingly expensive watch? The reply I’ve had from some people when I ask them about their Apple Watch has been “Oh, this? I didn’t buy it. It was a gift.” One person I talked to won theirs at a conference. These people wanted me to know that they would never have made such a frivolous ridiculously extravagant unnecessary purchase. Once over that hurdle, we’re able to talk about the watch. Usually people are proud to show off expensive clothing, handbags, or sports cars, but with the Apple Watch, for some people it seems almost embarrassingly excessive.

In the past, I’d been an early adopter of technologies, buying new technology the moment it becomes available, or even decades before it’s commonly available or used. That’s expensive. My first computer-attached CD drive was a big box that cost $1,200. Today they are $20. My first scanner was $1,200. Today they cost $40. We pay a premium when buying technology early. It may give you a competitive edge in business. Maybe not. Maybe it never catches on. Some buy technology early, without any concern about its longevity, because their purchase is to show others that they are a risk taker or so extravagantly wealthy they need not care about price.

Sometimes early adopters are viewed as ‘chumps’ who pay way too much for products just so they can impress their friends and gain attention by being the “first on their block” with some new technology. This presumably conveys to others that they are wealthy and have “money to burn” on something that has up until recently been so unnecessary as to be nonresistant. For some consumers this may be true. For many people, it’s good advice to avoid new technologies that tend to be expensive, buggy, and possibly short-lived.

As someone in the industry, I like to know about new emerging technologies, and I also like to feel I’m giving back financially to the industry I’m working in. It’s a way of joining with other consumers to tell manufacturers that we collectively want this new product to succeed. It’s what we refer to today as a kick-starter. When I first learned of CD drive technology for computers, I thought, “Hey, this CD drive seems like it might become a big deal.” So, in support of the concept, I bought one, and actually found it quite useful. I suppose the same was true for early adopters of automobiles — those people probably seemed foolish to purchase something that to that point was so unnecessary that it hadn’t even existed before.

It’s been about two years since the Apple Watch came out, and now other similar products are on the market. So, my purchase comes a little late in the product cycle. This article shares what I believe are some of its benefits and drawbacks. I offer this as advice to those thinking about purchasing a fitness activity tracker or wellness wearable device.

FitBit One (July 2013)

A few years ago, when I became interested in purchasing an activity tracker I wanted one that could clip on or fit in my pocket. In July of 2013, I decided on the FitBit One ($80 from Amazon). It has worked well for many years to track my daily activity (steps and stairs climbed) as well as my sleep time and quality. I find that the FitBit website and app provide an excellent comprehensive wellness hub for not just activity, but everything relating to a person’s overall health (exercise, sleep quantity/quality, food consumption, weight, water consumption, etc.).

Yesterday, watching “The Zoo” on Animal Planet, I was surprised to see the FitBit One being used at the Bronx Zoo for tracking activity and behavior of Fennec Foxes. Each fox actually had their own FitBit wellness dashboard where their steps were displayed. Very cool. The FitBit One was an ideal device to use because it’s small, light, very rugged, waterproof, and can be fitted into a collar.

Original Apple Watch (April 2015)

The Apple Watch was first released in April 2015. To me it seemed expensive, a bit bulky, short on battery life, and its functions were limited. I didn’t want to go back to wearing something on my wrist. The FitBit was providing me with activity tracking. My iPhone had all the features I’d ever need. I wasn’t so lazy that I couldn’t reach in my pocket and use my iPhone for anything that the Apple Watch would offer on my wrist, and with the iPhone I would have a much larger screen. At a cost of $350 to $17,000, it seemed to me that the Apple Watch was an expensive unnecessary extravagance that would quickly depreciate and soon be discontinued.

The Downfall of FitBit (August 2016)

By 2016, it seemed to me that the FitBit ecosystem was beginning to crumble. Here are a few core reasons why I became less enthusiastic about the FitBit system:

  1. Data. FitBit advertises that they believe a person’s personal health data is their own, and should be downloadable. Presumably some companies don’t offer an easy way to get information downloaded from their cloud services. So, FitBit was distinguishing themselves as data download friendly. In reality, their data download feature is quite limited, allowing for downloads only one month at a time. These downloads creates spreadsheets that are workbooks with multiple pages. So, there’s no way to click a button and download several years of data, and there’s no way to easily get all of your data in one place for longitudinal analysis. If you weigh in several times a day to check variations, you’ll be frustrated to see that the downloaded data only includes one weight measurement per day and no time is included.
  2. Food. The FitBit food database seems to increasingly have common foods that are not listed. In some cases, it seems that certain restaurant foods are listed, but some are missing. Other entries seem incorrect. When you look on the label and check what’s in the FitBit database, the information is sometimes wrong or incomplete. I eventually started manually entering my foods to make sure the values were correct.
  3. Sleep. FitBit had developed one of the best sleep analysis reporting systems available. Then they broke it. Here are a few of the things that no longer work properly.
    1. Ambiguous Tracking. In the past, the FitBit software would show when you were in deep sleep, light sleep, and awake during the night with the exact time displayed so you could look into what might be disrupting sleep. At some point in 2016 the software was ‘upgraded’ and the ability to see these details was gone.
    2. Bad Synchronization Issues. In the past, when you’d wake up in the morning and tap the “I’m Awake” button, you would immediately see your sleep chart. With their latest ‘improved’ version, it takes a long time for the chart to show up. It’s as if the FitBit One device is not synchronizing periodically throughout the night even though that setting is on. So, one must wait sometimes several minutes for it to work.
    3. Duplicate Synchronization. Sometimes an error message will appear on screen saying there is already a sleep entry for the current day. It’s as if the synchronization with the cloud results in some duplication.
    4. Problems Adjusting Sleep Range. When you go to make slight corrections in the sleep range, the chart immediately shows the adjustment, but then, before your eyes, it will adjust itself back to what it had been. So you change it again. This can happen a few times. It’s as if the cloud data has priority over the changes you’re making and so the cloud wins out unless you go slowly. Because the detailed time is no longer showing in the graph, it’s not possible to quickly tap on the graph to see when you went to sleep. In other words, if you’re entering your sleep time the following morning, and didn’t start the sleep timer the night before, or the sleep timer crashed, when you go to adjust that time, it’s guess work because you see red lines and blue lines but no indication of the actual time. So, each time you guess a time, and enter it, the chart adjusts and then goes back to what it had been. It’s a bit frustrating.
  4. Weight. The Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale was one of my favorite FitBit products. Every day I would weigh in, and moments later my weight and percent body fat would show up. There would be a delay, sometimes of several days, between the time I’d weigh in and when the weight would show up in my FitBit app or online. I began manually recording my weight every day, which defeats the purpose of having it automatically recorded. Eventually I went back to using my old Tanita Ironman InnerScan Body Composition Monitor which game me a much more comprehensive body composition analysis.

I’ve reported the above to FitBit and was told they will take these things under advisement. Since then, multiple firmware updates have been released and numerous app updates have been released. The company doesn’t seem to be interested in fixing the above issues. Becoming less enthusiastic with the FitBit caused me to look at what the Apple Watch might be able to do.

The Improved Apple Watch (September 2016)

In September of 2016, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 models with some significant improvements over the original model. The Series 1 is the same as the original Apple Watch, but with improved internal computing power and lower price of $269. The Series 2 offers a faster processor, built-in GPS, water resistant enclosure, a brighter display, and other benefits. For $100 more than the Series 1, the Series 2 at $369 seems to be a better value.

Deciding to Purchase the Apple Watch

The improvements offered with the Apple Watch Series 2 were part of what motivated me to consider purchasing the Apple Watch. Here are some additional thoughts and considerations that motivated me to purchase the Apple Watch.

  • Brightness. One of my concerns about the original Apple Watch was that the screen seemed a bit dim. The Series 2 has a brighter screen.
  • Consumer Interest. When I purchase a product or service, I feel that in some way I’m offering my ‘vote of support’ for seeing that product continue to be developed and available in the future. In the past, I’ve purchased and used products while they were in their infancy, and so excessively costly that purchasing them was almost an act of absurdity. In the 1980s, while in college, I sat in lectures halls using a laptop computer (TANDY Model 100) about 15 years before laptop computers became widely available and economical. In the 1990s, when the Apple Newton became available, I paid about $800 for what was essentially the first iPad, about 20 years before the technology was widely adopted. As mentioned previously, my first scanner was $1,200 and my first CD ROM drive was also $1,200. These all became tools I used and relied on, but the act of being an early adopter to me was, in part, a way to support the industry and products. The Apple Watch is a product I want to be supportive of, even if in its current version it’s still a bit expensive, Early adopters help make it possible to have continued development of products so in the future they can be better and less expensive.
  • Cost. At a cost of $269 for the base model, the Apple Watch Series 1 is priced similarly to other fitness tracker smart watches and wellness wearables. TomTom offers more advanced smart watches for up to $350. Garmin has smart watches for up to $450. FitBit has activity trackers for up to $200. Polar has smart watches for as much as $372. So, at $369 for the Apple Watch Series 2, it’s not the most expensive smartwatch available.
  • Future of Wellness Wearables. There are some wearable wellness technologies on the horizon that I think will make wearable devices commonplace. The next generation of wellness wearables such as AIRO and the Healbe GoBe promise to provide realtime blood analysis to determine our actual caloric intake. The FDA has approved wearable pancreas technologies that may eliminate Diabetes. I’d like to embrace the idea of using wellness wearables, and the Apple Watch seems like a good place to start.
  • Improved Activity Tracking. I like the idea of more accurately tracking my other activities besides just tracking my steps during the day. The Apple Watch can track calories burned during bike riding, weight lifting, as well as exercise on elliptical and other fitness equipment. I like the idea of having a single consolidated data collection system for all my activities.
  • Informed Support Provider. As a tech support person, I find that immersion is the best way to learn a new technology. I want to know how to purchase, setup, use, diagnose, and fix the technologies that I support. In addition to that, I enjoy looking for creative ways to use technology that I can only discover once using it. So, even if I’m doing very little in the way of helping people purchase, setup, use, or fix these new all-in-one solid-state modular mobile technologies, I think what I can offer of value are insights into creative ways to use them.
  • Product Demand. Seeing the market expand with a wide array of similarly priced watches seems to indicate that wearables are not going to be a passing fad. I’ve seen more and more people using some kind of wellness wearable. So, I’m not concerned about potentially investing in a technology that won’t be around in a year or two.
  • Pulse Monitoring. Something my pocket FitBit doesn’t provide is pulse monitoring, and this got me thinking that smart phones can do just about anything, but they don’t offer realtime pulse monitoring while exercising. For that we need wearables.
  • Speed. One of my concerns about the original Apple Watch was that it seemed a bit slow to open apps and perform functions. The Series 2 has a faster processor which should work with future upgrades at least for a couple years.
  • Waterproof. A drawback to the original Apple Watch is that it can be easily damaged by water. I’m reluctant to purchase a product at any price that’s potentially damaged by exposure to a little bit of water. The new Apple Watch Series 2 is water resistant to 50 meters. That’s important to me. Whatever product I would be wearing, I want to be able to wear it in the rain on my bike, sweating at the gym, or while doing dishes.

Which Apple Watch Model to Purchase

With their various products, Apple typically offers some very persuasive reasons for spending a little more on an upgraded product. For example, a bigger screen on the iPhone is just $100 more. Getting 4-times as much memory (up from 32 to 128GB storage) is $100 more. Getting the newest model with improved features and camera rather than last year’s model is just $100 more (Apple offers the previous year product at a $100 discount off the current year). It seems foolish to spend so much money on a phone and not spend a few hundred dollars more to make it an amazingly fast, big, super-duper phone. Their laptop computers, desktop computers, iPad devices, and the Apple Watch have similar pricing that makes you want to get the nicer models for “just a little more money.”

When you visit the Apple Watch purchase and configuration page, you’ll see a list of models, features, and options to choose from:

  • Series – 1 or 2. The Apple Watch Series 1 costs $269. As mentioned above, for another $100 the Series 2 offers a long list of additional benefits such as a faster processor, built-in GPS, water resistant enclosure, a brighter display, and more. So, the Series 2 seems to be the best value.
  • Case Size – 38mm or 42mm. At a cost of about $30 more, it makes sense to have a larger display. For the Series 2, this brings the price to $400.
  • Case Material – Aluminum, Stainless Steel, or Ceramic. The case material is fairly important since the watch is something that will likely be bumped into objects. Aluminum and the accompanying watch crystal are more susceptible to scratches and damaged. Stainless Steel provides a much more durable case and crystal option. At a cost of $200 more, it makes sense to have such a costly product protected from damage. This brings the cost to $600. The Ceramic case version costs about $1,300 which makes it impractical for most people, although Ceramic is reportedly much stronger than Stainless Steel.
  • Watch Band. There are a variety of watch band options with the Apple Watch. The Sport band is a comfortable, durable, stain resistant band which happens to be the least expensive option.
  • Apple Care. For a cost of $49, it’s possible to get a two-year warranty rather than a one-year warranty. This also provides “up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a $69 service fee, plus applicable tax. In addition, you’ll get 24/7 priority access to Apple experts via chat or phone.”

So, an Apple Watch, Series 2, 42 mm, Stainless Steel Case, with the Apple Care extended service costs about $650 and seems to be a good choice. You can see how it’s fairly easy to reach a price that’s twice the cost of the basic model. Anyone wanting to save a few hundred dollars on the Apple watch could consider purchasing the basic model for $269. Those with less concern about cost, and desiring the latest style can spend $1,300 or more.

Most Used Apple Watch Features

Having used the Apple Watch over the past 5 months, here are some of the functions I find useful.

  • Driving. I’ve had a variety of GPS systems that work fairly well, but most distract me from my driving as I look to the map to double-check for my position and approaching turns. With the Apple Watch, I like having the vibration and sounds that alert me to upcoming turns without having to look away from the road to an on-screen map.
  • Messages. While riding my bike, if I receive an email, phone call, or text message, it’s nice to be alerted on my watch.
  • Payments. It’s handy at stores to use the Apple Watch for payment during checkout at the register. So, when going into stores that accept Apple Pay, I don’t need to carry my bag.
  • Pulse. In the past, I found it very convenient and accurate to use my $10 classic Casio analog watch to check my pulse. However, I do find it’s nice to have realtime ongoing monitoring of my pulse. I like being able to see my pulse at a glance while riding my bike or exercising — not having to interrupt my workout. At night, my pulse is monitored to provide enhanced sleep quality data.
  • Relaxation. A person doesn’t need a fancy watch to remind them to relax. Even so, it is nice to have the watch remind me to stand if I’ve been sitting for too long, and to do focused breathing periodically throughout the day.
  • Sleep. With the AutoSleep app ($2.99) it’s possible to use the Apple Watch for very advanced sleep tracking.
  • Time. In the past, I’ve not wanted the time to be so visible throughout the day. However, these days I’m finding it nice to be able to look at my wrist and see the time. If I decide I don’t want to be reminded of the time, it’s easy enough to display only the weather or my activity progress for the day. In the same way the Apple iPhone is often used for everything but phone calls, the Apple Watch is becoming a device that will be used for many tasks other than checking the time.
  • Weather. I’ve configured my watch to show (among other things) the temperature, daily predicted high/low temperature, and precipitation (if any). So, just lifting the watch, in one place as I’m going out the door, I know what outerwear I should grab for my walk, bike ride or other activity.
  • Workout. When walking, riding my bike, working out on the elliptical machine, or lifting weights, I like using the Apple Watch to track my workouts. The watch uses my pulse to calculate my level of exertion and calories burned. For outdoor activities, I can review a map of my route with variations in speed represented by red (slow), yellow (moderate), or green (fast). All of my activity during the day, week, and month can be charted.

Third-Party Programs

The above functions mostly make use of the built-in functions without additional third party software. For decades, whether using Windows or Apple computers, I’ve made a choice to do as much as I can with the included software. I find computers (or watches) tend to work faster, more reliably, and have a longer battery life. When necessary I’ll use a third party program or app, but I try not to overdo it. I consider how necessary it is, and whether or not I could do something similar with built-in features. I know there are other people who fill their computers, iPads, iPhones, and Apple Watches with hundreds of games, utilities, and programs many of which no longer get used. I try to avoid that other unnecessary clutter. With the Apple Watch, I don’t want too many distractions and pop-ups during the day. I can configure the watch to alert me to just what’s essential.

Concluding Thoughts

With regard to activity trackers, smart watches, and wellness wearables, there’s clearly no single obvious best choice for everyone. Each person will have their own needs, budget, and sensibility about what works best for them. I hope the above observations help those trying to decide what to do with their own wearable technology purchase.

Fitbit Aria Weight Data Export Download

Summary

The Fitbit Aria scale automatically uploads your daily weight and percent body fat measurements to the cloud. This data is available when logged into the Fitbit website.

You can see charts of your progress, and a list of the 10 most recent weigh-ins. Your comprehensive data can be downloaded as an Excel workbook here https://www.fitbit.com/export/user/data

Download Feature Missing Data

If you use the download feature, the resulting download is limited. For example, the time of your weigh ins will be missing, and if you’ve been tracking your high and low weight for the day, that information will be lost. Only one weight per day is provided in the download. Another example of missing data is with sleep tracking. The download doesn’t include when you went to bed and when you woke up.

On the Fitbit data download page, you’ll find this statement: “Your data belongs to you.” It’s great that they make some provision for getting data out of their site. However, it’s odd that they wouldn’t just allow the download of all the data including the details that are actually there.

How to Get Your Detailed Weigh-in Data

To get your detailed weight data, including the time of weigh-in and multiple measurements per day, follow these steps:

  1. Login to the Fitbit website.
  2. Go to this page https://www.fitbit.com/weight
  3. Scroll down to see Measurement History.
  4. Click the Load 10 more option.
  5. Keep clicking the button to reveal as much data as you’d like. Unfortunately, if you’ve been using Fitbit for years and only just recently decided you’d like your detailed data, you’ll need to click the Load 10 more button a lot of times to see all your data.
  6. Once you’ve revealed as much as you want, highlight all the values and then copy them (using CTRL+C or the right mouse click menu).
  7. Paste this information into Notepad (on Windows) or TextEdit (on Mac).
  8. Select all the text and then copy and paste it into Microsoft Word. Putting the text into Notepad or TextEdit first helps to remove the formatting from the text. This can also be done within Word, but people may find it easier to use these intermediary programs instead.
  9. Use the Replace function in Word (found under Edit > Find in some versions) to make the following replacements:
    1. Replace the days of the week with nothing. Be sure to include the comma and space. This will help cleanup the date information so it can be recognized by Excel. So, as an example, replace “Sunday, ” with nothing. Do this for all days of the week.
    2. Replace the word ” at ” including the spaces around it with the year for the exported data. This will make the data information complete and recognizable by Excel later.
    3. Replace “Delete Measurement” with “^t” which is the symbol for a tab. This will put a tab between the date  and the weight measurement that follows.
    4. Replace ” kg ” with “^t” to insert a tab separator there. Or, if you used pounds then replace ” lb ” with a tab.
    5. Replace “% fat” with nothing. This will remove the % symbol and the word fat.
    6. If you had some weight measurements that didn’t include the percent body fat, then your previous replacement of ” kg ” would not have replaced the kg where there was no space after kg. So, replace ” kg” with nothing to ensure it’s gone. This needs to be done last because for the other entries, a tab needs to be inserted.
  10. At this point, you should be left with a clean listing of entries for your weigh-ins. Copy and paste this into Excel.
  11. Excel should automatically place the data in separate columns.
  12. Now you have your detailed weigh-in data.

 

Breakthrough in Regulating Glucose: How I reduced my blood sugar from 329 to 88

Introduction

To the best of my knowledge, much of what you’re about to read has not been published or discussed anywhere. It’s based on my own personal research and experiences. I’m about to describe some serious failings in how we currently approach regulation of glucose levels and management of diabetes. This article is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure. Contact your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your exercise or diet.

Most Glucose Readings are Inaccurate

People interested in tracking their blood glucose levels, who have experimented a bit, know that two readings taken at the same time can sometimes be as much 30 points apart. That’s a huge difference. It’s usually because of errors in how the testing is done. However, if you get two readings that are very similar, there’s a likelihood that the average of those two is close to accurate. It may take as many as three readings to know you have an accurate number.

At a cost of up to $1.40 per test strip, most people check their glucose once per day, in the morning, and get only one (probably inaccurate) data point for a 24-hour period. They are left not knowing if their blood glucose increases during the day, or if the morning reading is the highest level for the day.

Having an accurate reading at night and in the morning can help identify conditions such as “The Dawn Phenomenon” and “The Somogyi Effect.” (source)

With only a single morning reading, there’s no awareness about the actual glucose impact of different foods eaten, and no knowledge of how different exercises during the day impact blood sugar levels.

Despite the life saving insight that even just two samples per day could provide, for some reason, insurance companies only pay for one test strip per day.

Glucose Testing Made Financially Accessible

Recently CVS Pharmacy began selling their brand of glucose test strips for $22 per box of 100 strips retail price rather than $140 per box of 100 (what some of the insurance-preferred brand name test strip manufacturers charge). This has really shaken up the industry, and has people asking about the ethics of marking up essential healthcare products to make a 400% increase in profit when people’s lives are at risk.

Now, anyone with $22 can buy a box of 100 test strips and map out what’s causing their diabetes (or high glucose levels), then take corrective action to cure it. Because diabetes is the gateway to a host of other illnesses, big pharmaceutical companies are undoubtedly upset about this development, as are the companies that are trying to sell test strips for $140 per 100 rather than $22 per 100.

What the Healthcare Industry Tells You

Ask just about any doctor about glucose testing, and they will try to convince you that you don’t need to pay attention to your glucose levels during the day “because the numbers fluctuate so much and are meaningless.” Perhaps the doctors are influenced by what the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies tell them.

Yet, anyone actually testing their own glucose levels will quickly learn how their body responds to various kinds of foods and exercises, and the impact of a sedentary lifestyle becomes measurable.

Positive results of varying degrees can be seen in a matter of hours, days, and weeks. Some exercises have a greater impact than others. Depending on the carbs, sugars, glycemic index, and your own unique metabolic processes, different foods will impact your glucose levels differently.

All of this can be learned by strategically performing your own glucose testing.

Clinical Research for $1 Per Day

We’re talking about in-home clinical research that’s about as complicated as an elementary school science project and costs about 45 cents to $1 per day, and it could save lives. Yet, even with the recent 85%  drop in cost for the CVS test strips, insurance companies refuse to pay for it and doctor’s don’t suggest it.

The fact is that most people are on their own with regard to predictive and preventative care. Even if you go to an integrative medicine doctor, most insurance companies won’t cover exploratory procedures and preventative treatments.

So, in the case of blood sugar management, you’ll probably need to pay with your own money to get a glucose tester and test strips, because in some cases insurance companies will only cover the cost of brand name testers, and even then they only cover one test strip per day.

Our current industrial medical complex, despite possessing billions of our dollars, apparently can’t or won’t conduct this basic research, so it’s up to each individual to clinically study and learn about their own health conditions to develop a personalized wellness regime. This, of course, should be done in collaboration with an practitioner of integrative medicine, and it’s good to continue with a traditional doctor for whatever minimal care is offered by the insurance companies.

Since I seem to be banging on the same drum as everyone else in proclaiming the failings of western medicine, I should state that there is much good research being done, and many good people having a positive impact who work in various sectors of the healthcare industry. So, it’s not the people who have failed us, it’s the system itself that’s not serving us as well as it could. Just as large corporations have too much monied influence over our government, they also have too much selfish influence over the healthcare industry.

Danger! Call your doctor immediately!

About a mont ago, my glucose levels were reaching over 300 as you can see in the reading below.

20150314sa-glucose-reading-blood-sugar-over-300-IMG_0076

The standard medical advisory for readings this high is: “Danger. Call your doctor immediately.” (Source: University of Washington)

I was alarmed. I knew I had to do something. So, I did, and below you can see the results before and after about 30 days later.

20150314sa-glucose-reading-blood-sugar-over-300-before-after-IMG_0078-1024x800

 

Background

I should share some of the background leading up to my high glucose reading. By the way, when I saw the reading above of over 300, I didn’t call my doctor immediately. Here’s why…

For many years I’ve been periodically testing my blood sugar levels. Year after year, they were normal.

In the fall of 2013, I’d started using a protein drink mix called Muscle Milk. I created a video about the experience. The protein drink does what it promises. It produces amazing levels of energy and strength. However, in the process, it raises cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

However, I didn’t realize what was going on with my health, until several weeks into using the product and I had my annual physical. The doctor immediately declared me to be a diabetic, wanted to put me on high blood pressure medication, and was alarmed about my cholesterol levels. I was really surprised since I’d not previously had trouble with my blood sugar being high. Yet, it was close to 140 according to the lab work. That’s the highest I’d ever seen it.

I explained that I’d been using a nutritional supplement that I suspected had skewed the lab results. I asked if we could wait on the high blood pressure medicine. The doctor reluctantly agreed to wait on the high blood pressure medicine, but insisted that I take Metformin to help regulate my blood sugar.

I thought to myself, “What could go wrong?”

Well, here’s what went wrong.

I started taking the Metformin prescription and noticed my blood sugar levels were increasing. Every few days the numbers were higher. Soon my blood sugar levels were up to 180, then 220, then one day they reached 285 while on the Metformin. “This is crazy,” I thought.

I immediately stopped taking Metformin, and did some online research. I read that “patients taking metformin can also experience high blood sugar.” (source) I’m glad I’d been checking my blood sugar regularly rather than once per day in the morning. Otherwise I might have been unaware of the danger I was in.

For me this was just another disappointing experience where I was trying to play by the rules, and doing what the doctor had ordered, and my condition became worse.

It took me months to bring my blood sugar levels back down. Without much provocation at all, they’d be back up again. The extreme reaction I was having to foods high in sugars and carbs was alarming, but it allowed me to have a very sensitive measurement tool to evaluate a lot of different foods.

Using my own body as a research lab, I tested various foods and exercises to learn more about their impact on glucose levels. By February 2015, the testing was over. It had to be. Eating a typical American diet was resulting in blood sugar levels of over 300.

I gathered all my research from the past year of testing, and put it all to work. The result was a return to normal levels in about 30 days.

I’m going to publish more details about my findings in the coming weeks.

To learn more, read the health section of my March 2015 news update.

OneTouch® Verio®Sync Blood Glucose Meter and iPhone App

Summary

This page provides information and resources for the OneTouch® Verio®Sync Blood Glucose Meter and iPhone App. Visit VerioSync page on the OneTouch website for more details. While the testing system is relatively inexpensive and has the advantage of synchronizing with a smartphone, the test strips are very expensive costing about $1.60 each when purchased in a bulk pack of 100 strips. Amazon lists the retail price for 100 strips as $330. However, you can buy 100 strips for about $70 on Amazon.

Video Introduction

Video User Guides

 

Activity, Health, and Nutrition Tracking and Monitoring Technologies

Summary

There’s been a lot in the news lately about technologies available now or in the near future that will help track your activity, nutritional intake, and vitals. The most recent and interesting of these are systems that scan your body, food, or beverages using spectrometers and similar technologies to provide accurate non-invasive reporting with little or no user involvement. This page offers a directory of the more prominent devices.

Activity Tracking Devices

There are a variety of bracelets and clip-on devices designed to track activity. Products like Basis monitor skin temperature and preparation to more precisely determine activity and calories burned. Here’s a short list of the products out there:

Food & Beverage Scanning Devices

  • GE Universal Food Scanner – Will scan a plate of food and tell you the calories.
  • Vessyl – Will scan beverages and can tell you what the beverage is, and in many cases who the manufacturer is, along with nutritional data.

Body Scanning Devices

  • AIRO – Uses spectrometer technology to monitor your blood and tell you what you’re eating based on blood analysis.

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Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer – Low speed, masticating juicing system

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Product Summary

The Omega J8006 Nutrition Center is a masticating style juicer. Sometimes referred to as a low speed juicer, the Nutrition Center processes at 80rpm, whereas most other juicers process at a speed of 1,650 to 15,000rpm. The low speed protects and maintains healthy enzymes, prevents oxidation and allows juice to be stored up to 72 hours without degradation. The GE Ultem Auger is 8x stronger than most other plastics and the powerful gear reduction is equivalent to a 2HP Motor. The dual stage juice processing system extracts the maximum amount of juice from fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, even wheatgrass! You can also use the nutrition center to turn nuts into nut butters (an all-natural peanut butter), make baby food from natural, fresh ingredients, whip up soy milk, extrude pasta, grind coffee and spices, and mince herbs and garlic. Make delicious and nutritious drinks and snacks that everyone will love. Measuring 7in wide, 15.5in deep and 8.5in tall. [View on Amazon]

Product Resources

Product Features

  • Low speed, masticating style juicing system
  • Omega’s Nutrition Center does more than just juice. You can turn nuts into nut butters (an all-natural peanut butter), make baby food from natural, fresh ingredients, whip up soy milk, extrude pasta, grind coffee and spices, and mince herbs and garlic.
  • Includes a GE Ultem Auger which is 8x stronger than most other plastics.
  • Powerful gear reduction is equivalent to a 2HP Motor.
  • Juicer processes at 80rpm’s. Low speed or masticating style juicer squeezes, instead of grinding, which allows the juice to maintain its pure color, natural taste, vitamins and nutrients.
  • Dual stage juicer. First, juice is extracted by crushing the fruit or vegetable. Then, before the pulp is ejected, the pulp is squeezed during the second pressed stage. This results in a higher yield of juice and a very dry pulp.
  • Extracts the maximum amount of nutrients, vitamins, taste and juice from minimum amounts of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens such as spinach and kale, even wheatgrass.
  • Economical. Since the juicer is so efficient and productive, you’ll get the greatest amount of juice from the least amount of produce.
  • The low speed system does not mean a longer time to juice. It means a more efficient juicer. More nutrients and antioxidants, plus better flavored juice and freshness.
  • Engineered for quiet operation and longer life.
  • The low speed system limits froth and foam preventing oxidation.
  • Juice can be stored for up to 72 hours without degradation or the juice separation that occurs with other juicers.

Product Images

This juicer efficiently juices hard and soft fruits and vegetables without destroying the natural flavor and nutritional benefits.
This juicer efficiently juices hard and soft fruits and vegetables without destroying the natural flavor and nutritional benefits.
Use the homogenizer attachment to make fresh frozen desserts, natural baby food, and nut butters (an all-natural form of peanut butter.)
Use the homogenizer attachment to make fresh frozen desserts, natural baby food, and nut butters (an all-natural form of peanut butter.)
Wheatgrasses, kale, cabbage, spinach, and pine tree needles are just some of the natural products that can be juiced with the Omega 8006 Nutrition Center. Enjoy the best that nature offers in raw foods of all kinds and juice them for full nutritional benefits.
Wheatgrasses, kale, cabbage, spinach, and pine tree needles are just some of the natural products that can be juiced with the Omega 8006 Nutrition Center. Enjoy the best that nature offers in raw foods of all kinds and juice them for full nutritional benefits.
Grind coffee beans and flour.
Grind coffee beans and flour.
The food processor attachment chops and minces, providing natural flavor and nutrition from garlic, scallions, red pepper, ginger, and most other foods, including herbs and seasonings. Soft foods for special diets for babies are quick and easy to prepare with the mincing set-up.
The food processor attachment chops and minces, providing natural flavor and nutrition from garlic, scallions, red pepper, ginger, and most other foods, including herbs and seasonings. Soft foods for special diets for babies are quick and easy to prepare with the mincing set-up.
Homemade spaghetti, linguini, or breadsticks can be extruded in just minutes with the included pasta nozzles.
Homemade spaghetti, linguini, or breadsticks can be extruded in just minutes with the included pasta nozzles.

Description from Manufacturer’s Website

The Omega 8006 Nutrition Center Masticating Juicer is equipped with a powerful motor, this masticating juice extractor thoroughly chews up plant fibers to fully extract vitamins, enzymes, and minerals from fruits and vegetables. The unit’s dual-stage juicing system ensures maximum efficiency, while its low rotation speed of 80 RPMs means no foaming, no clogging, and no heat build-up. Other highlights include a high juice yield with very dry pulp, an automatic pulp-ejection function for continuous juicing, heavy-duty construction, four stabilizing feet, and quiet operation. Easy to assemble, operate, and clean. Nutrition Centers are not just for juicing; they turn nuts into nut butter, extrude pasta, grind coffee and spices, mince herbs and garlic, make baby food, and whip up soy milk in a flash. Use Nutrition Centers to make delicious healthy drinks and snacks everyone will love. The ULapproved masticating juice extractor measures 14-1/2 by 6-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches and carries a 15-year warranty.

Juicer Type Masticating Juicer
Finish Chrome
Speed Low Rotation Speed of 80 RPM
Motor Gear Reduction Equivalent of 2 HP Motor
Weight (lbs) 20.0
Dimensions 6½” W x 14½” D x 15½” H (165mm W x 368mm D x 394mm H)
Wattage 150 Watts
Features
  • Continuous Juicing with Automatic Pulp Ejection
  • Exclusive “Dual Stage” Masticating Extraction
  • High Juice Yield – Very Dry Pulp
  • 8 Times Stronger GE Ultem Auger
  • Powerful Motor
  • Less Foaming Than Double Gear Juicers
  • No Heat Rise Promotes Healthier, Longer Lasting Juice
  • Heavy Duty Construction
  • Engineered for Quiet Operation and Long Life
  • User Friendly – Easy to Assemble, Operate, and Clean
  • All Components Included
Usage Exclusive Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) Household Approval
Warranty 15 Years
Spec_sheet Download 8006 Juicer Spec Sheet

Fitbit Aria Scale Wi-fi Network Setup Error

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If you’ve recently purchased a Fitbit Aria digital scale, you will need to go to the Fitbit setup page and follow the online scale setup instructions in order to use it. This requires a wireless network, and you may need a mobile device (smart phone or tablet) such as an iPhone to setup the scale because the recommended setup software commonly fails to work properly and results in an error message during setup. You may get an error message similar to the one below.

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Below are the alternate instructions for setting up your Fitbit Aria scale using a mobile device.

From your mobile device, visit the mobile Fitbit Aria setup page found here:

http://www.fitbit.com/scale/setup/start

Then follow the instructions.

Organizing the FitBit Online Dashboard

Dashboard. Below is a screen shot of how I’ve organized the panels in my online Fitbit Dashboard. I’ve moved to the top, those items that I have the greatest ability to do something about in real-time (what I eat and how active I am). This way, throughout the day, I’m visually reminded of these things and can at any time take positive action and see immediate feedback. Not shown is water intake tracking. That shows up in the iPhone app and elsewhere in the online account.

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The above article was written by Greg Johnson.

FitBit Sleep Quality Monitoring – Logging Sleep the Next Day

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Summary. If you forget to start the “I’m going to sleep now” mode of the FitBit app on your iPhone, you can enter the sleep time the following day:

  1. Go to More
  2. Choose Sleep
  3. From the sleep screen, press + to add a new sleep session

FitBit will suggest a time that you fell asleep based on when your last activity was the night before. It assumes lots of activity leading up to no activity is the point when you fell asleep.

Determining Wake Time. The FitBit app will assume the current time is your wake time. If you’ve not thought to enter your sleep session until an hour into your day, you may have trouble remembering exactly when you woke up if you didn’t note it at the time. You can create the sleep session and then adjust it online at FitBit.com under the Sleep heading in your Log page. You’ll probably see a normal night of sleeping with a lot of activity toward the end. That’s when you were awake in the morning and walking around. You can trim back the wake time to the point that you first noticed activity in the morning. This will give you a fairly accurate record of your sleep session for the previous night.

Click here to read the full article on FitBit.

Using the Fitbit One Health and Fitness Tracking Monitor for Wellness

Activity Tracking and Sleep Monitoring iPhone Apps. I’ve tried a few of the iPhone apps designed to track exercise and monitor sleep. Some of the drawbacks to these devices are:

  • Use up excessive battery power.
  • Don’t integrate with online wellness programs.
  • GPS programs don’t work while walking indoors or on a treadmill.
  • Pedometers don’t track sleep.
  • Sleep monitors dependent upon sound or bed movement are inaccurate.

Activity Tracking and Sleep Monitoring Devices. There are a few independent devices that resolve almost all of the above issues: Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up, and the Fitbit One. After some research, I decided to get the Fitbit One. The Jawbone Up requires a physical connection to an iPhone to synchronize. I prefer wireless real-time synchronizing. I also wanted something small I could wear on my shirt rather than a wristband. So, that left the Fitbit One as the device of choice. It also includes an altimeter to measure stairs climbed.

My Personal Goals. My goal in using the Fitbit One is to provide me with some data so I can be motivated with immediate measurable feedback as I pursue my wellness goals. In particular, I’m exploring ways to improve my sleep quantity and quality. As an IT support person, I want to make an effort to be “more active” during the day, but measuring my success requires some device to do the tracking. Combining these three functions in one app is useful. Previously I’d used different iPhone apps to track nutrition, exercise, and sleep. The Fitbit iPhone app and online console track these as well as pulse (resting, normal, and high), blood pressure, pulse, and blood sugar levels. You can also create new items for tracking (such as blood oxygen level).

What’s Included. Shown below are the FitBit Plus, clip, USB wireless receiver, nighttime wrist band, and USB charging cable.

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Areas Needing Improvement. The Fitbit does have room for improvement. For example, it has no pause button, so all movement is tracked as if you’re walking or running. If you do a lot of bicycle riding or spend time in a vehicle, the movements will likely be interpreted as walking or running. Keep this in mind when taking advice from the system about your caloric intake. The system will think you’ve burned more calories than you actually have and thus you’ll be encouraged to eat more than you should.

Resources. Below are some documents and resources for the FitBit.