Photo by author.
This year I have decided will be the “Year of Health.” This was the yearly theme I decided on and described in more detail in this post. So far, it has been a rough but good couple of months. Have I made a ton of progress in weight loss, exercise, better meal options, etc.? Yes and no.
However, what has been working is my constant reminder of being better about my health, which helps me stay on track in choosing better options for food or using some free time for a long walk or run. The point of a theme is to surround yourself with the idea of what you want to change or progress so you can always make decisions to lead you down the path you want to go.
Part of my plan to keep health as my theme is utilizing certain tools to keep me on track. Calory is an app that I use intermittently when I want to track the number of calories I have had in a day or sometimes to look up what the nutritional contents of something are quick and easy.
The primary tool I was planning on using and still rely on daily is my Apple Watch. The Activity Rings on my Apple Watch reminds me of where I am when it comes to my physical activity for the day and use it to measure how well I am doing.
Many people pride themselves on getting a Perfect Week, Perfect Month, and even Perfect Year badges for closing all rings consistently. Since my owning the very first Apple Watch that had the Activity Rings, this was not only frustratingly difficult to achieve and to this day still bothers me when I take my Watch off to put on the charge and see that my rings, besides the Standing Goal, are barley half complete.
Over the years, I have been someone who appreciates jogging and running, especially long distances. Today it can be more difficult for me to run for a long time due to my lack of exercise and increased body mass, but I still do love the idea of going long distances on foot.
This is especially enjoyable when you can listen to your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook to keep you company as you go. Audiobooks help keep me entertained, but it also motivates me to keep going, so I can continue to listen.
The problem with jogging with the Apple Watch is that jogging doesn’t burn that many calories, depending on how long you go. After running 2.83 miles, which took about 40 minutes a couple of days ago, my Apple Watch said I burned a total of 545 Calories or 445 Active Calories. Burning that many calories are not bad, but it is barely half of my current 800 calorie Move Ring goal.
So after my run, I ended up doing a Fitness+ workout to complete my Move Ring for the day. There have many days where I take a walk twice during breaks at work and go for a 2-mile jog or 20-minute Fitness+ workout but still have 100 calories left to complete on my Move Ring when I take it off for the night.
In the past, I would jog around the house a bunch of times or do a quick workout, trying to get my heart rate up to complete the rings. Now, I just put the Watch on the charger and shrug it off. Internally I am annoyed that I am once again finishing the day “incomplete” but don’t have the energy or motivation to do anything about it.
Apple recently provided the ability to change the Move Goal. I have done this a few times to fit my needs, but manipulating this goal daily to complete my rings is way more work than it is worth. On a day that I am not very active but want to keep my closed-ring-streak, I could drop my Move Goal to something very low so that the Ring completes but feel this is gaming the system. Why do I feel like I need to manipulate or game something to stay on track?
Instead, I have embraced my love/hate relationship with the Activity Rings. Somedays, I kill it, and I go over 100% on my Move and Exercise goals, and sometimes even hit 200%. And then there are days where I barely get the Move Ring to close more than 50%, and the Exercise Ring does not move at all.
The days that I have hardly any movement on my Activity Rings are the days when I am using the Apple Watch as a watch and notification device. I have learned to forget about the fitness part of it and stay focused on whatever I am doing that day. When I am busy with work, home related stuff, or other personal situation that doesn’t involve physical Activity I now accept that my Watch that day is just a smartwatch.
When I do close all my rings in a day, the feeling I get is still exhilarating for me. When I finish a hard workout, or after a long day of doing yard work with my wife, seeing those swirling ring animation on my Watch telling me I “Completed All 3 Rings” is the reason why I still like the Apple Watch as a fitness device.
Just because I can’t complete all three rings every day doesn’t mean that the Watch’s fitness side is useless. I had moments where I felt this way when I realized I was not using the Apple Watch to its fullest when it came to all the fitness and activity features it offers.
But now I am in a place where I appreciate the fitness part of the Watch and know that it isn’t a make a break situation if I don’t always get 100%. Part of my goal in choosing The Year of Health was to build better habits surrounding my health. Following specific rigorous diets, forcing myself to follow extreme workout routines, or setting unrealistic expectations around health don’t always set you up in making habits for the long run.
Instead, I am thinking of meals that I want to eat now to lose weight and feel better but want to continue to eat forever. I want to set up a workout routine that I don’t hate, so I will continue doing it long after this year is over.
I also don’t want to set myself up for future disappointment if I choose to set a goal to close all my Activity rings consistently for an entire year because that is not what I want my Apple Watch and Activity Rings to provide. I want them to be a guidance and a small glimpse into how I am doing, and once I start feeling like it is a judgment, I no longer want it.
This is all to say that I am enjoying using the Apple Watch and the Fitness features that it brings. The Activity Rings and Fitness+ have been a lot of fun to use in the past couple of months while health is on my mind. I look forward to closing all my rings, but if I don’t because I was focused on other things or the workouts I did that day were the best I could do, it is still a success.