Ingress

If you saw my recent tumblr posts you may have thought I’m playing Ingress.  I am. Ingress is many things: an augmented reality game, Google Maps gamified, a walking game, a reason to get outside the house.

The game centers around “portals”.  Portals can be gathering places, libraries, churches, unique businesses, or artworks — and, as a result of some business tie-ins, Zipcar stations & Jamba Juice stores are portals too.  Players can suggest portals.  The company that made the game, Niantic, is part of Google, and I’m sure that Google Maps is making use of this information.

[T]he other morning I spent about an hour playing in Washington Square Park. The park has loads of portals so I figured it would be a good place to try to focus on taking over some enemy ones.

Turns out that even in a place with a dozen or so portals within two blocks, it is difficult to play without being constantly on the move. After a portal is hacked it has a cool down period before it can be hacked again. […] Hacking an enemy portal makes you lose energy, which you replenish by collecting more. To do that, you have to walk around. The energy shows up as little white dots on the map. It’s plentiful, but you have to physically go get it by walking around with the game open on your phone.

The Mary Sue

I find the game fun. I get in-game goodies by hacking portals defined around the area, and I can claim portals using those goodies. I can also attack “enemy” portals.

There can be a lot of walking, yes, but the speed can be your own, as can the number of breaks you take.  By default, you can hack each portal every 5 minutes with a max of 4 times in 4 hours.  For me, this can mean I hack a portal and move on.  On the other hand, when I had 2 portals in range from a shady bench this afternoon, it went like:

  1. Hack 1st portal
  2. Hack 2nd portal
  3. Add goodies to the portals (to make it give out better gear, or better shielded, or able to be hacked more frequently – whatever)
  4. Read twitter
  5. Hack portals again
  6.  Repeat steps 4 and 5 twice
  7. Move on to more portals

Obviously your mileage may vary.  It’s summer in Seattle. I currently favor playing in areas with lots of benches, shade, and occasional water fountains or coffee shops to get drinks.  I also play quite a bit while riding to and from work (I ride with a friend who prefers to drive) or on the bus.

“[M]y favorite way to use Ingress is as tourist guidebook. Beyond that vampire grave in Rhode Island, Ingress also led me to a home on the Upper West Side where Babe Ruth once lived and to the site of Thomas Paine’s death in Greenwich Village. ”

NY Times

Ingress has led me to better explore parks and streets that I thought I knew.  I’ve discovered the local library has more artwork than I thought, along with the local churches and the local senior center.

Image shows Before: walk, sit at desk, eat, walk, bed. After: same, but with ingress in between.

Ingress is an experience. The whole point is to go out and find some portals, then, once you’ve established your presence, take a look at the real world. Enjoy some artwork, explore a museum. Get inspired. Interact with people. Make new friends, even. After all. You’re fighting for the fate of human creativity and thought, here. May as well make use of that wonderful mind of yours and share it with others.

Android Police

The Fitbit

I’ve been seeing pedometers discussed a bit lately.  In some ways, they get a bad rap; we’ve seen them [mis-]used in “wellness” programs and that accuracy varies.  Although they can be amusing, as noted by one NY Times commenter:

Fitbit has a clip on model that I attach to the waistband of tights or to the center of my bra. I’ve had this one for a year and it’s gone through the laundry and still works…though it did count the washing and drying as 37 flights of stairs.

comment from Karen in Chicago

Ana Mardoll, meanwhile, uses one to be sure she doesn’t walk too much.

As it happens, I’ve had a Fitbit Zip for about 6 months now.  What does it say?

Graph showing 6 months of data

Graph showing daily average steps for every 7 days

The above graph the daily average steps for each week.  There’s some variations, but it varies between 2400 and 5500 per day.

Daily average steps per month

Daily average steps per month

The daily average per month graph, however, shows a much smaller variation – from 2950 to 3400.  That’s a fairly narrow range.  On average, the Zip says I’m walking about the same as I did six months ago.

What has changed?

I have become more aware of how much I walk.  I thought I was more active on the weekends because I walk around the house more frequently than the office.  Wrong!  The house is more compact; I have to make an effort if I want to walk as much on the weekends as I do by just going to work.

I am more consistent in my walking routine.  I had noticed before I got the Zip that varying between “not walking much” and “going on a hike” would leave me with aching knees.  Now I have a higher “minimum” and I have a LOT fewer problems.

For the curious, the Fitbit Zip is pretty much a pedometer.  It doesn’t do flights of stairs or track my sleep, like other models do.  It uploads data to a website for long-term tracking.   The website can be used with or without one of the trackers, if you’re into manually entering things.  (Personally I just use the Zip.)

One gripe I’ve had about the “dashboard” is that it assumes I want to track my weight, calories, etc.  No, I don’t want to log food. I don’t want to track my weight. I don’t care how many calories you think I’ve used….

Snapshot of Fitbit dash

Bonus reminder my Fitbit doesn’t track stairs.

There’s also a beta for a new dashboard, which is better at letting me hide what I don’t care to see.

Example new dashboard.

Example new dashboard.

Personally I prefer the new one.

Overall, if you’re the sort of person who learned to disconnect from and distrust your body, this kind of tracker may be a useful tool.  But like many things, your mileage may vary.

Happy New Year!

Image of a fat woman talking on the phone in an office setting.

Image courtesy of the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Hello and welcome!  I’m back at work with my new cartoon-a-day calendar (New Yorker cartoons) and new wall calendar (Pacific Northwest landscapes).  I even cut off some of the photos from last year’s wall calendar to decorate my cube.  Ready to work!  (Yes, I know it’s Wednesday, but today feels like Monday to me.  Yay four-day weekends! )

I adjusted the layout, let me know if you can’t find things.  Also, let me know if you have additional topics or questions you’d like me to write about.

As for resolutions, well, there’s resolve and then there’s Resolve the carpet cleaner, (Two Lumps).  There’s also ASDAH’s Resolved: Addressing Weight Bias in Health Care Project, collecting health care stories in video or written form.  Please see their site to see what they are asking for and the submission methods.

 

In the meantime, some things to read / discuss if you wish – warning for fat hate:

People are living longer! I thought this would be a good thing. Oops! As Fatties United discusses, some people aren’t happy with this.

Since so many fat people have had the audacity to keep on living instead of dropping dead on schedule, Dr. Mokdad is predicting that all these fat folks will be old sick fat folks and require lots and lots of medical treatment.

Study results show that “normal weight” folks don’t live longer than overweight folks? (Again?) Oh noes, must include lots of fat panic in the news coverage!

Charlotte Cooper writes about The UK Royal College of Physicians and their concerned about obesity!  Oh dear.

Reading the report is like a journey into Opposite Land. The work is well-meaning, but it exists with a framework that is profoundly problematic. For example, it is hard to disagree that current service delivery for fat people is really poor, particularly for those who undergo weight loss surgery, and that there needs to be proper auditing, quality control and monitoring of all obesity treatments.

But the report, as is typical in a medicalised discourse of fat, is entrenched in a view that regards weight loss as the universal solution to the problem of fat people and health. The authors throw about “severe complex obesity,” a term they’re obviously pretty proud of, coming soon to a healthcare provider near you, and bound to further medicalise and stigmatise fat people. They make the crucial mistake of failing to question the effectiveness of weight loss at all, so it’s not weight loss surgery that ruins fat people’s health, it’s the fact that the care pathways surrounding the surgery need tweaking. This ties them up in all kinds of knots, looking for answers in the wrong places, for example suggesting that the UK needs a Michelle Obama figure to galvanise the population against obesity, even though her crusade in the US has been disastrous in re-stigmatising fat kids, and even though we’ve already seen Jamie Oliver screw things up over here.

Anyway, let’s be careful out there. Now, I’m going for a walk.

“Peaceful” and “relaxing”?

From today’s Between Friends comic by Sandra Bell-Lundy comes this exchange….

Maeve: How’s your walking regimen?
Susan: Actually, I’m enjoying it.
Susan: Every evening I walk around the neighborhood … it’s such a peaceful, relaxing way to end the day.
Maeve, shocked: “Peaceful” and “relaxing”?
Maeve, accusing: I thought you were trying to improve your health!!

Yes, starting a new exercise program can be hard.

Yes, some people are training for a competition or rebuilding after an injury or illness or surgery. That can be hard.

But it is possible to dance or play basketball or do yoga or walk around the neighborhood and finish relaxed and happy. And it’s still exercise. Even if you your BMI doesn’t automagically register as “normal”.

Maybe if we didn’t all expect that “exercise” is a universal experience with universal results this wouldn’t be so confusing.

Things That’s Up

New job is going well.   It’s my first completely non-managerial job in years.  Even when I was a “department of one” I was was still doing a lot of project / process management. I’m enjoying just doing things.

I also like this “getting paid” thing.  ;)

My commute is about an hour each way, sometimes longer, depending on bus connections. This is longer than I’m used to, and I’m glad I get to read or noodle on the computer during the long bus ride.

On the fitness front, I’m adapting well to the daily walking-between-buses routine, even with my backpack weighing 16lbs once I add the work equipment I may need at home.  (I carried a heavier backpack in college, but I was more used to it then.  I’m being careful while I adapt now, and doing more tummy crunches and other core work.)

I’m also focusing on being sure I can do tomorrow what I did today — in other words, I’m totally agreeing with Noël on her recent “go hard or go home” rant.

My work desk situation isn’t perfect from an ergonomic point of view, but I’ve made some adjustments that help (raising the monitor & getting a mouse pad).  I also find getting up and walking around a bit every few hours does wonders.  I’m in a rather large office building, so a trip to the bathroom or to refill my water bottle tends to get the kinks out.

I am also dealing with some family stuff.  My father’s been sick lately, and I finally convinced him to see a doctor, so I’ve been ferrying him to and from various appointments.  I wish he’d been willing to see a doctor before, when I was unemployed, but no.  Le sigh.   I’m also finding that being paid hourly makes me worry less about taking time off than when I salaried.  Interesting…

What is frustrating is that 8 hours of work + lunch + 2 (or more) hours of commute  = more of my day that I’d like.  Meeting the man of the house for dinner and a soccer game at the pub?  Fun.  Also takes up most of my “down” time.  My schedule has also been shifted earlier than I prefer.   The temptation to short myself on sleep is strong in the evening, but I know damn well I won’t be happy (or productive) if I do.

So. Off to sleep.  Be good, y’all.

Some things I’m glad about today

1)  Riding the bus to my new job means I’m walking daily again, at least on weekdays. Funny how walking even a 1/2 mile or so every day can feel good, even if it’s spread throughout the day.

2)  Yes, I have a temp gig.   At the moment it’s a better fit than the old place.

3) The commute is a short bus ride and a longer bus ride – if I make connections badly it can take 90 minutes or more.  I am getting better at making connections, though, and the long bus route is conducive to reading books or surfing the net (many of the buses have wifi).  De-stressing on the way home is a good thing.

4) The trees are blooming, but my meds are keeping my asthma largely under control.

5) From s. e. smith’s thought-provoking post on what our culture means by  “taking care of yourself“:

They don’t care about my health. They don’t care whether I am happy, whether I enjoy my body, whether I like moving and living in my body. They care that they don’t like looking at me and wish that my body would go away, would shrink, would dwindle away so that it will no longer offend their eyes. This is what people mean when they ask me if I’m ‘taking care of myself,’ when they give me a sidelong glance while I eat a doughnut, when they scrutinise me if I start to wheeze on a hike, because of course, I must be wheezing because I am fat and out of shape, not because I have asthma.

6) Hugs, kisses, and dinner from the man of the house.  :)

Yelling Out The Car Window

Today a young(ish?) male passenger in a car yelled something at me out of the car window. I was walking down the sidewalk at the time.* This isn’t common around here, perhaps because Seattleites are reserved (or unsocial, take your pick) — and/or because it’s the suburbs, so not a huge number of walkers anyway.

I could tell by his tone that he was yelling rather loudly and angrily. But between the speed of the car (30mph zone) and Bono singing from my iPod, I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch the words.** Poor boy, here he got up the gumption to speak out against the fat oppressors*** and I didn’t even hear what he said!


*This sort of street harassment is not uncommon in the fat experience. It’s also interesting that it’s often targeted at fat people who are exercising, to the point that fat people cite fear of social stigma as a reason to NOT exercise.

**Possibly a triumph of tech over hate?

***Yes, sarcasm is strong here. Also a shout-out to Brian’s alternate world theory.

Update: Yelling is not physical violence.  I do not consider yelling to justify physical violence or vandalism.

A year ago: Exercise Progress

…I started a program of walking every day.   I didn’t keep up with it being a daily walk, but I did get consistent enough in walking and strength training that I did not have to use a cane since … last January?*

I’m considering this a victory.

Two things that helped:

1) Focusing on the exercises I thought would give me the most results. I had a low level of strength in my legs and walking was sometimes difficult, so I focused on strength training and small but consistent levels of walking.

2) Using the “Days Since” tracker on my iGoogle home page to track my activity. “Days Since” tracks how many days since I did something; clicking the green “rewind” button resets to zero.  It doesn’t keep a calendar of everything I’ve done, though it does maintain a running average of the interval for each item (and turns the text red if the number of “Days Since” is greater than that item’s average).   For me this is a good way to make sure I don’t put off something too long, without making me nuts if I get off a day on my routine.  A screenshot is below.

Sample of Days Since screen

Sample of Days Since screen

Once I got up to a basic level of ability, I did start to benefit from not needing to do as much to maintain my ability as to build new muscles.  There were weeks where I’d get maybe 1 walk and 1 round of leg lifts – but I did that minimal amount, and was able to do more the following week.

It also helped that I had a concrete reason to exercise: maintaining mobility and avoiding pain.  If I slacked on leg lifts for more than a week my knees would start to hurt.   I felt better when doing these exercises multiple times a week, which encouraged me to keep doing them.

This isn’t meant as a comment on anyone else.  I have some arthritis and a low fitness level, so I’m taking steps to improve for my own selfish reasons. Not everyone else has the same ability levels (or would make the same decisions and time investment even if they did).   But having posted here about this 2010 commitment, it made sense to report back on how it went.

*Edited to add: Did see a reference to using a cane in early January last year, so to be safe it’s been most of a year.

Things you don’t think about…

I had a job interview.  Overall I think it went well; it seems like a cool place with interesting work, and I think they got a good sense of what I can do for them.  If they make an offer I’ll be pleased, but I’m still looking.  (AKA: Nice first date, but it’s just a first date.  ;)

However…

The interview was on top of one of Seattle’s hills.  I had thought there was a public parking lot a (relatively flat) block over.  Turns out it’s not a public lot.  I ended up parking in a lot a block and a half the other way…

Down one of those steep, 15% grade hills from the office.

Now, I didn’t start my exercise routine with the idea of being able to walk this particular hill.  But thanks to exercising routinely, I was able to walk up it without a problem.  :)   Going back down to my car I went very slowly, but again, not a problem.   Kind of makes me glad I’ve been deliberately including the hills around my house when going for walks!

(Of course, if I get the job I’ll probably end up walking that sort of hill more frequently. ;)

(FYI: Seattle has hills steeper than 15%, but the one I was one was about a 15% grade.)

Some Good Things

Riot Nrrd explains why  judging other people’s health can be inaccurate.

Despite turning my ankle a couple times Monday (and working too much and walking too little these past weeks) I didn’t have problems walking over a mile at the Sounders game Tuesday night :)

Manufacturer's pic of my preferred CPAP mask

My new CPAP mask arrived! Somehow I’d broken the widget that connects the nose piece to the headgear.  I’ve got another mask which is smaller and has fewer breakable parts and drives me NUTS because it vents “down” from my nose, thus sending a steady stream of air ONTO MY BODY to KEEP ME AWAKE.  So once again I got a replacement of my preferred mask.  (Among other features, it vents “up” from my nose.)

Searching this blog tells me this last happened in May 2009.

I find it interesting that I didn’t even try to sleep without my CPAP.  I used the backup mask a few nights and the broken taped-together mask a few nights, but no non-CPAP nights.

Last weekend the man of the house and I spent a night at the Seattle Westin Hotel. We did one of the “romance” packages, with sparkling wine, breakfast in bed, and a late checkout.   I enjoyed it immensely, and I’m really glad we got to do it.

Oh, and the view wasn’t bad either.  The only camera I had was my cell, which wasn’t the best, but it’s a nice memento of the weekend.

Elliott Bay and some of West Seattle

Elliott Bay and some of West Seattle

Music Monday: Sound Wave

Yesterday I went to a Sounders game.  Besides the game, there was over a mile of walking to/from the stadium. Plus, our seats are on the 100 level, where everyone stands the entire game – so if you want to see the game you end up standing. Or, if you’re me, you sometimes migrate up to the not-always-sold-out disabled seats.

Saturday the seat I usually sit in had been sold, so I stood for the first game in a while. (Actually I ended up shifting between my feet most of the night, rather like a slow aerobics class.) But the great part is that my knees aren’t bothering me today. ;)

This video is the Sound Wave, the Sounders’ pro marching band, performing the Sounders theme song. ;)

Why I like Aravon sandals

I love having sandals I can get on the treadmill with and not walk out of! Specifically they’re Aravon 3 Strap Sandals I got a few years ago.

Aravon Sandal

Aravon Sandal

Today I felt like going for a walk.  Not wanting to burn in the sunshine I decided I’d try the treadmill despite my sandals.  I only did .6 miles (going uphill for much of it), enough to get the ball of my right foot feeling a little bit hot, but I checked and it’s not a blister.  My previous walking in these hasn’t been as steady as the treadmill tends to induce, so I was concerned I’d have to quit long before I did.  I am pleased.  I’m not going to wear them daily, but on a warm day like today it’s nice to have comfortable sandals.  :)

Oh: and not only was I in sandals and a knee-length skirt on the treadmill, but I ended up explaining why I was singing about a pretty little dead girl in a coupe de ville while walking on the treadmill in my sandals and skirt.  (I was listening to the studio version and couldn’t resist the urge to sing along.  The song has also spawned a short story series in The Edge of Propinquity.)

Hm. Not sure if this is good or bad…

On the one hand, going a week without a walk isn’t something I’m thrilled with.  Being inconsistent with exercise is part of how I’ve screwed up my knees in the past.

On the other hand, it IS nice that when I finally went for a walk this evening (at 10pm, after work, hoping it would help me unwind) I didn’t have any problems with doing my usual walk.   Yay leg lifts & other strength training.  ;)

As if the Biggest Loser wasn’t bad enough…

Now VH1 is doing a version where you not only have to take off work during filming (if your employer allows it) and follow questionable weight-loss procedures but you also have to pay to $10,000 participate!

Most people who have trouble losing weight suffer from a lack of motivation. Now twelve overweight teams enter a weight loss competition like no other. Their motivation is money, their OWN money. Each team must pay an entrance fee of $10,000! If they lose they leave with nothing, but if they win by losing the greatest combined percentage of weight loss, they will walk away with $100,000!

Of course, it may be the $10,000 comes out of each participant’s stipend, but, y’know, suppose it doesn’t.

What else could you do for $10,000?

For $10,000 (plus whatever it costs to take off work) why not just follow a favorite band on tour?   If you can find a room with gym access, you can lift weights in the morning, sightsee (aka walk) each afternoon, dance (aka exercise) during the show, and actually HAVE FUN.

Or you could spend a couple weeks touring Europe or New York or DC or Boston, walking through museums and galleries and shops.   Or a week or two at Disney, or Hawaii.  Lots of walking, and you can probably fit in some weight-lifting.

Or you could put the money into a nice safe money market fund for the next time your dryer or fridge or car dies.

Of course, I don’t know if you’d lose weight doing these other activities.  If you increase your activity level you might get into better shape.   Oh, and you’ll HAVE FUN with the other vacations, and get some piece of mind if you save the money.   And you don’t have producers editing the footage to make a better story.

What would you do if you had $10,000 in savings?

Thankful Thursday

[a not-always-weekly exercise in gratitude]

This Thursday I’m especially thankful for:

  1. Interesting conversations about OA, trusting medical practitioners, and fat acceptance.
  2. Figuring out how to update a friend’s website despite no prior experience in the content management system it’s setup with or the language the site is using.
  3. Exercising regularly isn’t hurting.  I realize this may be a factor of how I’m exercising (frequently small workouts and not pushing hard to increase what I’m doing) but I’m still glad it’s working.
  4. Dinner with friends & family.
  5. Getting into shirtsleeves weather — coats not required (at least in Seattle ;)