Archive | May, 2016

TomTom Spark Cardio + Music

31 May

I love my TomTom Spark Cardio + Music! And a disclaimer from me—this review is fairly glowing, because I genuinely love my TomTom. I didn’t get anything at all for writing this review and I don’t work for the company or anything—this is just an ideal product for me and it took a LOT of trail and error on my part to find it. This is also NOT my first rodeo with fitness trackers. Prior to this I had a FitBit Zip and a Garmin ____ 2 (as well as various phone-apps). I like this tracker best, and here’s why:

I hate carrying things. I’m the gal who will forget my jacket or purse in the booth at a restaurant. Pockets in women’s clothes are not large enough to accommodate a phone, and will look like an ugly bulge if you do. Also, I’m afraid the phone will drop out of a pocket. Once, I tried an arm band to hold my i-pod (and in theory you could use one for a phone) and liked it at first. But the tan lines were crazy, and it started rubbing in a bad way because of sweat—so I loved the arm band less. Also I couldn’t see my upper-arm well enough to skip songs or skip the volume, especially without breaking stride. And the number one reason arm bands don’t work, is eventually mine got bigger and became a leg band, then when it grew large enough to become a belt, I tossed it. So I bought a legit, moisture-wicking running belt to carry my phone. I like it for walking around the city hands-free, but for running it has too much weight bouncing around, and I’m paranoid my phone will fall out. So the option of just wearing a watch and stringing cordless headphones through my hat—awesome!!! The number one, greatest thing over every other tracker is my ability to run/sport hands-free. I absolutely LOOOOVVED running with nothing in my hands and no cords, but still having all the data and my tunes!

tomtom spark cardio plus music

The band is about the same size as the one I bought in order to have my FitBit Zip on my wrist. And the TomTom’s band is negligibly larger than the Garmin’s. What makes it superior, is the fact the band goes through a watch-like mechanism and the loop latches down, the through end latches down, and there is a third latch that locks the band in place. My FitFit arm band just hooked one end to the other and had a cheap little plastic portion that went over that. The Garmin was slightly better then my FitBit watch because it _____________, but this is the most secure. I am not afraid it will come open at any time. Also, just like the FitBit, you can trade out the band for fancy colors or when your first one looks a little worse for wear. There are a lot less options right now then there were for FitBit, so I’m hoping for some power yellow, or patterns to come on the market soon.

The face of the tracker is very large. This is great for display purposes, because I can see it without breaking my stride too much during a run, whereas I had to really peer at the tiny FitBit Zip and sideways Garmin displays. This is only OK for wearability, so I put the face on the inside of my wrist so every outfit doesn’t scream, “fitness nerd!” and it is a little. . . Less. And yes, it still seems to track my heart rate accurately worn that way.

Speaking of the display, I didn’t think I would like the color of the numbers on the TomTom. My Garmin’s digital with backlight had made me pretty happy. I compare these to white road paint—they just sort of glow, but not by indiglow. And it goes without saying the tiny, unlighted/unglowing digital font in the FitBit fares worst—you have to peer at it in every scenario. Aside from the reflecti-color, the font is very large on the TomTom, and if you really can’t handle not having light, you just hold your hand over the face for a few seconds and it will light up. I found I usually don’t have to go to that extent, but it hasn’t been a nuisance when I’ve had to. Also, I think there might be a setting that let’s you trade all-the-time backlighting for battery drainage.

As for battery, I have not had a problem. I wear my TomTom all day as a pedometer and watch as much as for fitness tracking. It lasted a 12 hour work day just fine. My FitBit was constantly needing a new battery (like every 2-3 weeks) and the garmin was supposed to last a year. I just charge my TomTom through the night while I sleep and it’s worked out OK for me.

The music—is awesome! I used to run with my i-pod. It was one of the thin ones and help 16GB so it wasn’t terrible. But I had to hold something, and my headphone cord had to be tucked through my clothes. Then, the cord was too short for a full arm swing, so I was constantly fighting to keep my arm swing from pulling the ear buds out of my ears. This was a horrible nuisance on long runs and on the timed, sprints absolutely slowed me down. How can you sprint your fastest without having a full arm? And you either had to slow down to re-tuck the headphones in the top of the sports bra or just continue on with one ear bud getting pulled out. My TomTom, isn’t that different of a set up from the i-pods. I physically hook it to my computer in the same way. I pick some (but not all) playlists from i-tunes, which I had been doing with my i-pod anyway. The display will accommodate ____________ playlists and the music itself can’t exceed 3 GB. My i-pod held 16GB, but I rarely used all of those songs on my run, and I can just soup up my “workout” playlist if I want more variety. I bought the combo TomTom/headphones package for just-in-case, because I wanted to be certain I could play my tunes—because let’s be real, this tracker’s main selling point is its ability to play music. Then, all I had to do was navigate “up” one screen on my watch and hold the middle button of the headphones until it flashed red/blue. They paired very quickly and that was that. The headphones screw into your ears and I just pull them through my running hat in case the buds fall out of my ears during a run (there has never been even a threat of that). I can play any individual playlist straight through, shuffle any individual playlist, or shuffle all the music I imported. The sound is just as good as my i-pod. If I am not feeling a song that comes up, I can navigate “up” on the watch then “right” to skip, “left” to re-play. The only thing I don’t like about that is, IF you’re already in the middle of tacking an activity, you have to go back passed the start menu for said-activity to change the song. That ends the activity and once, I was in the middle of a timed mile and accidently ended my time/distance by skipping a song. Now, I just use the controls on the headphones—hold the front button for 2 sec to change the song without messing up my running stats.

The data does pretty much everything I want and more, and I read numerous times the heart monitor is the most accurate on the market—and bonus, no chest strap required! You can even see your bpm while you’re running and on a graph with your speed/pace later. And there is a setting for you to run in a certain heart rate zone with voiceovers that make sure you do.

The sleep tracker is not really a thing. It pretty much gives you the hours slept and leaves any other information out. The Garmin showed movement and told me when I was in light sleep vs. deep sleep with a graph and I found that very useful. This one just wants to name sleep as a feature—so I just charge my TomTom to my computer at night instead. To improve the sleep function the need to track movement and give me graphs like the Garmin. And allow me to write notes on the night like the Garmin. Oh, and have a smaller band to trade out for sleep purposes, because I slept fine in this, but it could have been more comfortable. Never mind—if you want in-depth sleep analysis get a tracker specifically for that, because even the Garmin, which was better, was still not that informative. Or best yet, get a sleep study.

I like that it will sync automatically to the phone app or I can do it at the computer. I really HATED having to always manually sync the Garmin, because my FitBit had always auto-synced if I was in proximity to my computer. So the TomTom’s syncing has been working out. The only thing I like less about the TomTom, is the MySports computer program isn’t as souped up as my FitBit program had been. For instance, I can’t invite friends to see their progress and I can’t track (or sync) food and water. If I could see my mate’s and mom’s step count and link MySports to LoseIt—my TomTom would be absolutely perfect for me.
My favorite thing about FitBit—the huge array of replacement bands and the data-heavy social website. My favorite thing about the Garmin—the tone telling me I had been sedentary too long . But don’t let the TomTom’s mediocre reviews scare you off. If you hate carrying things (even a phone) and love exercising with music I highly recommend this tracker!

I’ve Been In Utah a Year!

4 May

Hey, hey hey!

U district

Once I stopped being a student, I pretty much stopped writing.  Though I like blogging, my daily run is more important to me, and aside from working full-time, sometimes that’s the only thing I do all day.

It’s weird to think how different I am as a person now.  I don’t have long-term career goals at the moment.  Not in a depressed, sad way–and (hopefully) not in a loser way.  My priorities are not really my career, and only my career any more.  I’ve come to the realization I must work to live, but it’s not EVERYTHING.  Also, the barriers into my career were crazy.  And that drags me down.  For instance, I’m pretty down on big-university and I’m not sure I’ll ever attend one again.  All I got was a huge amount of insurmountable debt–and nothing really to show for it.

The vet thing–didn’t work out.  And it’s too bad it kept working out that way, because I would have been the most wonderful, dedicated veterinarian.  But they didn’t want me–time and time again.  So I eventually (after literally 10 attempts) I had to learn when to say when.

Audiology:  Unlike veterinary medicine, which I know a plethra of (unfair) politics, issues, and reasons why I wasn’t accepted, I have no idea why Audiology didn’t want me.  I had a 4.0 GPA and I forgot my GRE scores (they are in this blog somewhere) but they were good.  Here is what the university published,

UU AuD class stats

The minimum GPA requirement for admission is a 3.0. Our average admission profile for an incoming Au.D. student for Fall 2015 was a 3.74 GPA and a GRE score of 311. These are only averages, and we admit candidates above and below these values.

So I met that, did extra-curriculars, worked during school, and tutored students in my program–what else could they want?  Maybe they give preferance to Utah residents–and I didn’t become one until too late.  I really don’t know.  But I certainly didn’t try nearly as hard as I did vet school, once they wait-listed me.  I only applied the once, then kinda felt thankful that I didn’t have 4 more years of school I couldn’t pay for.

So those things changed my perspective, and now I may SEEM lazy.  But it’s not the case.  I’m just sort of on hold for now.  We are living in Utah to save money.  Because Cool and I want our lives to be in Colorado.  It’s just too expensive for now.  So I’m working at a company (we both are) that we can make direct transfers to when we move.  And I don’t trust the management, or love my coworkers, but I’m hanging in there.  Because the peace of mind of having a job before you move, and moving and starting work when money is tight–is totally worth hassle now.

And I figure, I can’t make concrete plans because we are leaving, so I’ll just have to start over anyway.  This is a 3-4 year period of saving money and focusing on things besides my career.  My health for one.  Relationships.  Enjoying nature.  More easy-going types of things, for sure–but not less important than career stuff.

I was singularly focused on my career my whole life.  And what did that get me?  Thus, I’m changing my outlook slowly, and I’ll refocus on the career once we’ve settled in Colorado (last move ever!).

CO 169

So I’m alive, I’m well.  I just don’t make the time to write like I used to.  And maybe another post won’t happen for awhile–but I’m not stressing out over it.