Why I switched from Fitbit to the Apple Watch

During my last stint of blogging here on “Run, Nikki, Run,” I frequently wrote about how much I loved my Fitbit.

In the two years I used the Fitbit Flex, I logged nearly 6.7 million steps and more than 3,000 miles on the device, from sauntering the streets of New York City to climbing the cliffs of Inishmore on Ireland’s Aran Islands.

When my Fitbit, as any other device these days do, fell prey to daily wear-and-tear and syncing and tracking issues, the fella suggested the Apple Watch. He had jumped ship to it a few months before after becoming frustrated with frequent issues with his own Fitbit and would not stop raving about the product.

Despite being a longtime iPhone user who loves the convenience of connectivity between Apple products, I was not easily sold. It had taken me quite some time to get used to wearing the Fitbit on my wrist, and as someone who has always hated wearing a watch, I didn’t think I would stick with it even if I spent all that money on the device. I figured I’d leave it abandoned in a drawer with all those previous attempts at getting fit.

Well, fast-forward almost two years to today, and I not only absolutely love my Apple Watch, I pretty much live my entire life by it.

apple_watch_vs_fitbit_

Here’s what I love about my Apple Watch

  • The Activity app

The Apple Watch Activity app automatically tracks how much you move, exercise and stand daily. The red move ring tracks the active calories you’re burning, while the green exercise ring shows how much “brisk activity” you’ve done. The blue stand ring monitors the hours you’ve stood and moved for a least one minute, so you’re not just staying sloth-like on the couch binging your latest streaming addiction.

There is such a sense of accomplishment when I close all three rings or, on particularly active days, double my move and exercise, which has been happening even more frequently since I’ve been hitting the gym that past few weeks.

  • Friendly competition

The friendly — and the not-so-friendly — competition the fella and I had to outdo each other using our Fitbit has carried over to the Apple Watch. It’s super-easy to share your Activity with family and friends who have the device for motivation — and challenges. You can even send a message of encouragement or smack-talking, if you’re so inclined, right from the watch, so bring it, I say!

  • Breathing reminders

Throughout the day, the Apple Watch gives you periodic reminders, whose frequency you can change to suit your needs, to take a minute — just one single minute — to stop what you’re doing and focus on breathing. If you choose to accept the notification, the watch will pulsate as you inhale, exhale and find your center, which is so very important to do a few times a day in the humble opinion of this journalist living and writing in and about today’s … climate.

  • The littlest iPhone

Thanks to Apple’s connectivity, the watch is basically an extension of your iPhone as many of the its functions like texts, calls, emails, apps and more are accessible on the Apple Watch. That means you can stay in the group message loop, get score updates from your favorite team or not miss a single message from that special someone without looking at your phone in that meeting or other place pulling out your phone would be rude. After all, you’re just checking the time. Wink.

The reigning Weekend Warrior

For the past few weeks, I’ve been joining every Workweek Hustle and Weekend Warrior Fitbit challenge I’ve been invited to as a means to start making up for my Summer of Inactivity.

At first, just as I knew I would be as my body got used to walking frequently again, I was regularly in the bottom percentile of the challenges, especially the Workweek Hustle as I’ve been working from home the past two months.

While it was tough not really being a true contender as I’ve slowly (oh-so slowly) been getting back into walking, I’ve finally made enough strides (pun intended!) to finally win my first challenge in a long, long time, this past weekend’s Weekend Warrior with 29,028 steps.

weekend warrior

I’d like to thank the late-night walk the fella and I took from 42nd Street through Central Park up to 110th Street Saturday night. It had been so long since we’ve been on one of our “bender walks” as I like to call them, and it felt so good being out in the finally-cool air in the almost-deserted park, where we could walk at our own pace and not worry about having to dodge slow walkers or sudden stoppers or walking texters.

The great thing about these challenges is that you get updates whenever someone is close to you or passes you, and I found that this weekend’s notifications really pushed me to move more than I wanted to yesterday, despite being super sore from Saturday’s jaunt. I was thisclose to winning, and I didn’t want to give up my lead for anything, so after getting home from my walk to the store, I did laps around the house while the fella watched TV and danced around the kitchen as we made dinner and by golly, it worked!

And this morning, I met a friend who was in town for the day, so we walked from her hotel on 39th Street to Central Park with her two little girls, and I met my 10K step goal by noon as we walked back, which was a great feeling, especially on such a gorgeous day as it was today.
Never mind that the second I’m done with this blog post, I’m probably going to crash on the couch until the fam gets home.

And I plan to walk tomorrow and the next day and the next day and … because just because you’re a Weekend Warrior doesn’t mean you can’t be a warrior on the weekdays, too, challenge or no challenge.

Nikki

Killing my Nikes and other thoughts on resolutions

I know, I know.
“Here she comes out of the woodwork with the rest of the bandwagon resolution makers.” 
Well, kinda, but not really.

I’ve changed, you see, since I last wrote back in September and even more so since my last annual resolutions post a year ago today. You see, I feel like I’ve finally come into who I am in, like, who I really am.

I’m never going to be 17-year-old Nikki ever again.
Nope, I’ll never be the 130-pound Nikki who wore her super-long, super-curly hair on top of her head in a big fat bun all the time.

The hair doesn’t grow as fast, and the weight, well, it doesn’t come off so fast these days, and while there will, I’m sure, always be part of me who’ll yearn to be the size of that skinny and sparkling teenager again with that fabulous hair, the Nikki I am today, 20 years later isn’t half bad, even though she has some — OK, a lot — of extra baggage.

But luckily, I have a fella and a family that loves me, just as I am. And I’ve finally realized that that’s enough.

Oh, Mr. Darcy. Le sigh. (Credit)

Oh, Mr. Darcy. Le sigh. (Credit)

But, having said that, that doesn’t mean I’m going to just rest on my laurels until I have to be moved out of our fabulous apartment by a forklift amid the rustling of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers and takeout burger-and-fry containers from our corner bodega. No. Oh, no, no, no.

You see, I’m still going to try and be healthy not just because I need to or because I should. No. I’m going to still pull on those workout clothes or, even if I’ve had a hellishly busy day, I’m still going to walk from my office to the fella’s after work most nights because I want to.

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I know I won’t be able to wear you for a few weeks, but your days are numbered, Nikes.

I want to kill my new Tiffany-blue Nikes, you see. I want them to smell and rip and tear just like my beloved purple Reeboks did this year because then I’ll know, I’ll really, really know, that I moved. That I made the New York pavement and wherever else these sneakers will tread upon this year my bitch. That I breathed and lived and walked and was happy.

Those Reeboks took me all around this island of Manhattan, on the country roads of Northeastern Pennsylvania, to Ireland and everywhere in between. By the end of the 2014, I had walked more than 950 miles with my Fitbit, plus another 400-plus miles using Map My Walk before I started using the Fitbit, so I think it’s safe to say that these feet of mine walked at least 1,400 miles in ’14. Wow. Wow.

My favorite moment of 2014 was actually almost an entire day. A day that was just a moment in a year’s worth of days, but when I was in it, basking in the sunshine, in the fresh blend of Irish air mixed with an Atlantic breeze with my family, I knew that this was the moment that would define my entire year, define my very existence.

Standing in the middle of a country lane on the Aran Island of Inishmore that was buzzing with crazy tour-bus drivers, polite bikers (who could teach New York bikers a thing or 10) and more cows than tourists like us as my family and I took photos and reveled in beauty the likes of which I’d never seen before, I knew that as long as I had the fella and my family beside me and comfortable sneakers on my feet, that’s all I’d really need in this world — to make the best of this world.

So, that’s my resolution: Walk. Live. Breathe. Take it all in. Exist. Kill my Nikes … and any other pair of sneakers that may follow.

Nikki

The first 250

On Friday, there was an alert in my in box from Fitbit that told me I’ve hit the 250-mile mark with the device, after having it for just under two months.

250 fitbit

Two-hundred and fifty miles in less than two months? Surely, that’s some kind of Superwoman record, right?

Well, that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself as I pat myself on the back. Here’s to the next 250!

Nikki

Vixen in the Kitchen: Quinoa-stuffed tomatoes

Even though I’ve been doing most of our cooking, it’s been a while since I’ve felt like a vixen in our kitchen.

I’ve been bored and uninspired, falling into the rut of making the same things from my roster over and over. The fella is such an imaginative and inspired cook, so there’s some pretty big shoes to fill, but no matter how many dinners I make, I still get so nervous that I’m going to screw something up.

But I’ve started making a big batch of quinoa during the week to have for my lunches and am kind of quinoa-obsessed right now, so I thought I’d incorporate it into dinner one night. Since I was also craving my tried-and-true parmesan tomatoes, I thought I’d change them up by stuffing with quinoa.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Figuring two per person, I got six big beefsteak tomatoes. (There’s one hidden under the biggest one on top)
– Quinoa, olive oil, breadcrumbs and shredded mozzarella cheese.

I pre-made the quinoa (according to the box instructions) earlier in the day so it was cool for handling.

I heated the oven to 400 degrees, dug out the tomato stems and used a melon baller to remove most of the the “guts.”

As the oven heated, I mixed a few tablespoons of olive oil into the quinoa, tasting along the way until it was the right amount of saturated, and then added a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs. I mixed the cheese in last, and used about half of the package. I spooned the mixture into the tomatoes and topped it with a small pinch of cheese.

I popped the tomatoes in the oven for 10 minutes as I steamed fresh broccoli in the microwave, which I doused with some balsamic vinegar and dusted with breadcrumbs. The broccoli then went in the oven for 10 minutes, making the total cooking time just 20 minutes!

2014-04-16 19.53.12

Super easy, super fast and super delicious!

What’s your favorite quinoa recipe? I’m dying to try some new ones!

Nikki

25 miles closer to who I want to be

Ever since I downloaded it, I have been obsessed with Map My Walk. I always knew that I covered a lot of ground walking around the city, but it’s pretty amazing to see just how much it all adds up to.

Take this weekend, for example. From Friday to Sunday, I walked a record (for me) 25 miles around this great island.

My 12-mile journey on Friday took me from 34th Street down to St. Mark’s and the Bowery, to the Village and SoHo, where I met up with the fella after work and we walked uptown on the West Side, stopping to eat before catching a train home at 59th Street. We laid low on Saturday, only logging one mile, when, since I cannot tell a lie, we walked to the neighborhood taco truck for dinner.
It is what it is.

The route of yesterday's 12-mile excursion.

The route of yesterday’s 12-mile excursion.

We more than made up for that yesterday, when we walked from 14th Street all the way home to 149th, which included wandering through Central Park, where we met up with the Girl Child at 81st Street. Thanks to zigzagging blocks here and there and walking through the park, we logged another 12 miles for the day.

It’s invigorating, really, to see how far I go and how my pace varies throughout the course of a walk, and I find it a great motivator to keep going, to best my last mile’s pace or get just one extra block in … which usually turns in to two or five or 10.

Next weekend, if the stupid weather cooperates, we’re planning on doing our biggest walk yet: The whole island of Manhattan, from Inwood down to Battery Park. It should be pretty easy because Manhattan is a little more than 13 miles, which is only one more mile than I’ve already done twice just this weekend.

And looking even further into our fitness future, we plan to add jogging into the mix and start taking part in some of the many 5Ks held in the city. Even if I can’t jog all or part of those races at first, I know I can make those 3.1 miles my bitch pretty easily, especially given the mileage I’ve accomplished this weekend — and this is just the beginning!

Nikki

Beating weekend temptations

I find it so easy to be good during the week, especially when I’m in an office setting. But even working from home, I tend to make fairly healthy choices Monday through Friday while also managing to get in some lengthy walks or some time on the Air Climber.

But I’ve always struggled with the celebratory nature of weekends.
* At first, it was letting loose with my friends because, well, that’s just what you sometimes do on Fridays and Saturdays.
* Then it was finding weekend traditions with the fella and the Boy and Girl Childs.
* Then there was that year the fella and I did the long-distance thing and crammed all of our time together into two days.
* That was followed by our move to the city and two demanding and exhausting jobs and subway time that amounted into much, much more than 40-hours a week, so a lot of weekends were spent just trying to recharge ourselves inside our tiny railroad apartment that we didn’t get to see too much of during the week.
* After a year of that, we moved to a new place that had ample room for me to spread my exercise wings again, the GC moved in with us, I started freelancing, and the fella got a job he loves. Weekends became his time to be in the apartment we all love so much, but after being at home all week, I was itchy to get out and explore together instead of solo like I do during my off time during the week.

Sure, there were some struggles as I tried to let him have some couch time and he begrudgingly gave in when I’d start saying, “Let’s go for a walk! Wanna take a walk?” in the same voice I’d ask a dog.
You should know it’s also my Talking-to-Children voice.

Since starting this healthier lifestyle together, though, getting exercise in is just something that we now do on autopilot.

Take yesterday, for example. We needed groceries, but instead of just heading to the store four blocks away and coming back, we did a three-mile walk around our neighborhood. And up here in Harlem, that means we walked up more than a few steep hills. And on Saturday, we walked from the restaurant on 41st where we had dinner to our beloved bakery on Bleecker two-plus miles away to share our weekly treat, a lemon gingerbread cookie.

So today, when I stepped on the scale, for the first time in a really, really long time, my weight didn’t go up over the weekend. It stayed where it had been on Friday, and it was empowering. Of course, it would’ve been better if I’d lost weight over the weekend, but I’m not going to knock this maintain one little bit, especially given my indulgent weekends in the past. There will be time for that as we continue on this path.

We’re thinking our food through now, like only stealing a few fries from the kids instead of having our own plates at The Counter burger joint Saturday or making a killer meal of bacon-wrapped scallops and whole wheat pizza with spinach, olives and fresh mozzarella last night or savoring our nightly desserts.

Yes, they were both just as good as they look.

Yes, they were both just as good as they look.

I appreciate food so much more now that I’m not shoveling it in as fast as I can. I don’t eat as much, and it tastes so much better. My mom always accused me of “living to eat” instead of “eating to live,” and I own up to that. I love food, and I will always love food, but I think I’ve melded those two sayings into something good for me at last.

What about you? Do you “live to eat,” “eat to live” or a delicious combo of both like me? How do you survive weekend temptations?

Nikki 

Walking on air again

When my mom gave me an Amazon gift card for Christmas, the plan was to use it to get Kindle books. But with receiving a bunch of book gifts, a winter that’s actually, well, been winter and the recent addition of HBO Go to our TV (which gives me unlimited access to “Sex and the City,” aka My Favorite Show to Watch Whilst Exercising), I knew there was something much better for me that that gift card could go toward.

So I  went ahead and ordered a new Air Climber.

Hello, old friend. I've missed you.

Hello, old friend. I’ve missed you.

It sure has been a long time since I’ve written about my beloved AC (two years, to be exact!), but now that we live in an apartment that actually has consistent heat (as opposed to our apartment back in Pennsylvania which was so frigid it caused the AC’s billows to crack) and room for me to step (which our first New York apartment decidedly did not have), it’s high time I got back on the red and black contraption that could always be counted on to give me good results.

So when it arrived last week, I couldn’t wait to hop on and actually get to wear my brand-new Reeboks, which I thought I’d have to wait until spring to break in. I was reminded very quickly how hardcore the AC is. Fifteen minutes in, I thought my legs were going to give out, which was surprising because you and I both know I walk a lot, but man, this just — ahem — steps up the cardio to a whole different level.

I lost four pounds since last week already, which pleases me greatly. So while it may take me a few weeks to get back to making it through a whole “SATC” episode like I used to on the AC, at least I’m taking a — cough, cough — step in the right direction.
OK, I’m done with the puns, promise. Well, in this post at least.

Nikki

Get up and go

Just as I was getting balls deep into a week-plus cycle of sleeping through the night, I was wide awake this morning at 2 a.m. and stayed that way until almost 6 a.m.

Since I was up, I did what any good girl would do while the rest of the house and building slumbered and took to Netflix, where I  continued my recent tear of watching fabulous documentaries about fabulous New Yorky people, like the Kennedys and Diana Vreeland (can I just pause to mention how frigging fantastic she was?? Such style! Such great vision! Watching it made me realize that even though I work from home, there’s no reason I shouldn’t dress up or not wear lipstick around the house on a daily basis because why the hell not? I just might be wearing my best red lips right now if you must know. It goes fantastically with my black yoga pants!).

Last night started with a program about Candy Darling, one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars. She was so beautiful and tragic, and it’s kind of BS that she, who was born as a man, had better cheekbones than I do. I also tried to watch a doc about Halston, but the interviewer was so unprofessional and stupid I had to turn it off after 10 minutes. But I watched enough of it to see some of Liza Minnelli’s fantabulous apartment and have decided that I would like to have that be my “downtown” pad, so don’t be surprised if you hear a ding-dong one of these days, “Lucille 2.”

MMWAnyway, now that that’s all out of my system, even though I super-cleaned the apartment and did some work, all day I felt sluggish and on the verge of a binge. I know  it was definitely because I was so tired mixed with the fact that I know for a fact I haven’t been drinking as much water as I should lately (for shame!). It wasn’t until I took the garbage outside that I realized how nice it was here in New York today — like, almost 40 degrees nice! — so I came back upstairs, put on some workout clothes, downloaded a new pedometer app that works with My Fitness Pal called Map My Walk and out the door I went.

The fella had gone to a nutritionist last night, and she gave him a meal plan that the two of us are going to put into practice ASAP. Some of the stuff, like cutting out white foods and most of the processed junk in our lives and adding some more fish and protein-rich foods into our diets we’ve actually done in recent weeks, so hopefully this will be an easy transition and lifestyle change.

We’re both pretty excited and hopeful that this will be the thing that sticks, finally. If you’ve been reading RNR for any amount of time, you know I’ve fallen off and gotten back on the exercise/healthy-eating wagon more times than Chris Christie has been in the news in recent weeks. Sad but true, but I know that us doing this together is a key to success. And a little — OK, a lot of — competition between the two of us is sure to kick things up a notch, especially because the bastard males of the species lose weight so much faster than women. Hmmph.

Now that I logged a brisk almost two-mile walk this evening, I feel better, less on-the-verge-of-binging and more quiet inside my head. I tell ya, they were onto something with this thing called exercise …

So are any of you on Map My Walk? What do you think about it?

Nikki

Red Bamboo, Part Deux

When my friend asked if I wanted to go to lunch last week, there was no doubt in our minds that we were going back to Red Bamboo, the fabulous vegan restaurant in the Village that I wrote about back in November.

Above is the feast we shared, and it was just as amazing as the first time. We started with popcorn shrimp, which came with a spicy and tasty cocktail sauce. I’d always wondered how the vegan version of fish would taste, and I was delighted to find out that the taste and texture of this shrimp were really dead on.

My friend had roast beef, which was really good and I had the soul chicken sandwich, which, like the shrimp, had the taste and texture of actual chicken. There were four really big chunks of it, and I ended up just eating it without the bun because it was so good on its own.

Like good girls, we just had to split a dessert and we unanimously chose the s’mores cheesecake. When we went last time, we had pumpkin cheesecake, which tasted so much like real cheesecake I couldn’t believe it was vegan. The s’mores version, however, tasted more like fudge than that slightly sour cheesecakeness, and it was decadent and divine.

I was so in heaven after this meal that I ended up walking 80 blocks afterward and made the fella and Girl Child go back with me the very next day. And I cannot tell a lie: The GC and I just got back from having yet another fabulous meal at Red Bamboo.

Nikki