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How I Used The Apple Watch To Get In Shape – HODINKEE

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I started out skeptical of Cupertino’s smartwatch. But a renewed focus on fitness convinced me to give it another shot.
In Watch of the Week, we invite HODINKEE staffers and friends to explain why they love a certain piece. This week’s columnist is a tech reporter for Consumer Reports.
One hundred and ninety-five pounds?!? What the heck!
It was the morning of December 30, 2017, and I was standing on a scale at a blood donation center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, embarrassed by the number staring back at me. It was my second time there in as many months. The first time, in mid-October, was to donate blood for the sole purpose of finding out my blood type in order to wrap up my Colombian citizenship application process.
It turned out that my blood type, A positive, was in short supply, and the blood-donation center wanted to know if I’d be interested in donating again – platelets this time. “Sure,” I said on the phone when they called. “I can do that.”
Now, 195 pounds might not be so bad if you’re a 6’4” natural heavyweight cutting to make light heavyweight the week before a five-round title fight. I, however, am 5’9” and write about laptops for a living, and the closest I get to escaping a mount is resizing images of MacBooks and Dell Inspirons in Photoshop.
I use that morning where I saw 195 on the scale as a sort of dividing line between when I looked at my weight as a sort of “Eh, it is what it is” (that type of resignation sets in when you consider Peanut M&Ms a basic food group) to, “Uh, yeah, I have to do something.” And what I did was dust off my Apple Watch, hop on my bike, and ride around New York City like a maniac.
My relationship with the Apple Watch before deciding to do something about my weight can best be described as polite ambivalence.
I’m a tech reporter by trade, and I remember watching the livestream of the initial Apple Watch presentation in September 2014 (which, thanks to YouTube, can still be seen in its entirety) and thinking to myself, “Ehhh.”
At the time, I hadn’t consistently worn a watch since high school (a humble Skagen) and wouldn’t have known the difference between a chronograph and chronometer if my life depended on it. And the idea of having my wrist buzzzz every time I got a Slack notification made my skin crawl. (Still does, actually.) Besides, I’m in front of a computer all day, and my iPhone, tragically, is never more than four inches away at any given time. Why would I need a watch?
Fast forward a few years and The House That Steve Jobs Built began to narrow the focus of the Apple Watch from an amorphous “computer on your wrist” to “a very fancy FitBit, designed by Apple in California.” This I could get into, especially since it coincided with me getting into cycling, in part to lessen my reliance on the then-crumbling subway.
To me, the key insight delivered by the Apple Watch is how much effort it takes to burn a calorie. Ten minutes on the bike and you’re lucky to burn 100 calories. Go all-out for 30 minutes, absolutely kill yourself, and maybe you’ll crack 300 calories. Cool.
I started looking at every snack food in terms of minutes on the bike and it helped me actually think about what I was eating. Armed with this new framework I declared war on my belly.
Looking back, it’s sorta funny how quickly I went from being an Apple Watch skeptic to being an Apple Watch stan. While fitness tracking was the reason I gave the Apple Watch a second chance in the early part of 2018, it was the Apple Watch Series 4, which was released that fall, where Apple really sealed the deal for me. This version of the watch was two millimeters smaller than the Series 3/2/1, which made it more comfortable to wear on my 6.5-inch wrist. It was faster and the battery lasted longer. Couple that with my discovery that you could buy straps from Amazon that were nearly as good as the official Apple ones for like $10 and I was hooked.
Maybe I didn’t need my wrist to vibrate every time I got an Instagram like (he writes as if he gets many of those), but I certainly didn’t mind the steady stream of soccer news alerts provided by apps like BBC Sport and Spain’s Marca. A quick flick of the wrist would tell me if that incoming WhatsApp message could safely be ignored or needed to be answered immediately. And while on the bike, I could get used to easily skipping Spotify songs or flicking through my Overcast (a power user’s podcast app) cycling playlist.
That it’s an almost impossibly accurate watch was pretty cool, too.
And the way I see it, the Infograph Modular face (along with its predecessor, which was called Modular) was designed with a certain type of person in mind, someone whose skin itches whenever they see unused white space on a webpage and who demands total information density at all times. C’est moi.
Infograph Modular is a digital dial with room for up to six complications, not counting the time itself. I laid mine out like this: The day and date in the top right corner (which, when tapped, would open my calendar app); the five-day forecast via the premium weather app Carrot (which, when tapped, would open the full Carrot app); remaining battery life in the bottom left; my Activity rings in the bottom center; the humidity in the bottom right corner (this would also open Carrot when tapped). New York melts into a fetid swamp in the summertime, but it’s always nice to know exactly how sweaty you’ll get today before you head out the door.
In the top left corner I kept the Exercise app, which I’d tap whenever I hopped on the bike.
It should also be noted that the Apple Watch eventually opened my eyes to “real” watches, planting the idea in my brain that these things exist and that They Are Neat. I remember watching the opening episodes of the Amazon adaptation of The Man in the High Castle in the fall of 2018 and noticing the character Joe Blake wearing a type of watch I had never seen before. (Not that I knew anything about watches at the time, but still.) A few minutes later, Google turned up that he was wearing something called a “Flieger.” File -> New Tab, www.amazon.com -> “Flieger watch.” Two days later I became the proud owner of a Citizen Eco-Drive Flieger, which I still own.
My collection would eventually grow beyond this Citizen, though that didn’t happen until about a year later when I began researching affordable watches at the prodding of the author John Biggs, who was my first boss and remains a dear friend. The first automatic in my collection? That would be the Seiko SRPD87, which I bought from a nearby jewelry store roughly 14 seconds after reading James Stacey’s review for HODINKEE.
Now? Well, I’ve made the same mistake that many watch folks make when they first get into the hobby and now have a drawer filled with around a dozen $200 to $300 watches. I’ve got Orients, Timexes, Islanders, a handful of AliExpress-style “homages,” and, of course, an absolute ton of Seikos. If I’m honest, I probably have too many watches right now and am hoping to whittle down my collection next summer with the hopes of buying a shiny new Doxa Sub 300T.
The signs that you’re on the right track don’t manifest overnight, but instead drip via a series of entries in the Health app. That, and your pants begin to fit again.
As a lifelong nerd, the need to quantify and reduce basically everything to numbers has always made sense to me, a sort of generalized “pics or it didn’t happen” to guide you through life. The Apple Watch unlocks this, enabling you to track in real time the number of calories you burn per workout. In my case, the Apple Watch would also keep track of how long (in minutes) I biked, how many miles I covered, my cycling speed, any elevation gained (minimal, given this is New York City we’re talking about), and my heart rate.
Typically, I’d bike 30 minutes in the morning to work, those same 30 minutes coming home to Queens, and as many as three hours on Saturday or Sunday, zooming around Central Park or up and down the Hudson River Waterfront Greenway with a single AirPod in my right ear, almost certainly playing the video game podcast Retronauts.
Once home, I’d step on my WiFi-connected scale, which would then sync my weight and body fat percentage to my iPhone. This obsessive data-tracking worked well for me. I weighed 138 right as the pandemic set in during the spring of 2020, a year that just about sapped my will to do much beyond work, watch YouTube, and play very old video games.
Now, I ate my fair share of junk throughout 2020 but have recently gotten back into my cycling (and tracking) routine again, spurred on by the hope that the worst was behind us.
Nicholas De Leon is a longtime technology reporter living in New York whose hobbies (besides watches!) include watching soccer and playing old video games.
The HODINKEE Shop is an authorized retailer of Apple Watches; explore the collection here.
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Living with diabetes: U of A Exhibit shows a diabetic's daily struggles – KGUN

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Across the country, one in ten people were told they had diabetes in 2020 and a few years before, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services about 600,000 people have type 2 diabetes and about 1,800 youth are diagnosed with type 1, both creating daily struggles for them and their families.
Over at the University of Arizona, there is a new exhibit in the health sciences library that is helping depict the day in the life for those with diabetes called Strips and Needles: A Day in the Life”.
“My goal for the exhibit strips and needles is to serve a whole host of communities,” Dr. Michael Lee Zirulnik, the exhibit’s creator and type 1 diabetic, said. “To serve medical and allied health students, to serve families, to let families know that beauty can come out of things that are a challenge, and for people that have a hidden or visible disabilities, whether it’s diabetes or something else.”
Zirulnik cataloged over 3,000 test strips and insulin syringe needles into the panels of the exhibit, showcasing a full year of daily struggles for diabetics.
The Diabetes Prevention Program is a year long support group that helps those suffering with type 2 learn to create healthy lifestyle choices. The program’s state director Vanessa da Silva said from stress management to a healthy diet, there are ways to help with type 2.
She said when someone is both chronically or acutely stressed, their blood sugar spikes, which is even more prevalent due to the pandemic.
“They’re also reporting that for those that have had COVID and the worse the infection is the higher the risk is for diabetes, type 1 or type 2,” she said. “Our diabetes risk is higher in certain populations that are lower economic status, a hispanic/latino, or tribal, of which we have a lot here in Arizona.”
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America Battles Diabetes Crisis – VOA Learning English

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America Battles Diabetes Crisis  VOA Learning English
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Coaching restructure at BAM – New Straits Times

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