Should We Take Our Playlist When We Run?

To plug in or not to plug in, that is the question. Everyone would agree that music does affect the way we do things. While we have individual genres, whatever that is in our playlist influences our behavior whether we’re up for a long night of school work, crunch numbers at the office, finish a writing deadline, or when we want to get in the zone during a workout.

I have this wired Phillips earphones for about 10 years already.

Whenever we want extra focus we shut the rest of world out and enter our invisible cocoon, we play our favorite song. Others seal themselves completely, almost air tight, thanks to headphones. Introverts know this better.

Back in my younger days I was a fan of earphones or headsets. Yes, those Walkman days and then MP3 players. I don’t know when I stopped but I believe it was when I realized I need to talk to people. When I became mature–let’s say that’s true.

Safety was also an issue which is why I use less of the earphones especially when I’m mobile. When I started running more and read more about this sport, it seems that the number of cons against running while plugged in outnumbers the pros. There are so much road hazards that runners need to be aware of so being able hear a wayward driver coming from behind, for one, is a big advantage.

My opinion against wearing another set of technology in the form of the earphones remained until the day I sought that extra push to hit the steep Baguio terrain. That cold early morning I took my phone, plugged my very old but trusty wired Phillips earphones and ran. That was my first time running with Arnel Pineda, Big Fat Joe, Depeche Mode, and the rest of my Napster tracks (oopps) playing along. It made the trip on the undulating road to Burnham Park and back less tiring and stressful. Music saved the day.

For days since then I was back to wondering if these bone conduction earphones I’ve heard of months ago are worth buying. But this morning I got my answer from an unlikely source. A Facebook friend not so known for being minimalist posted a YouTube video about using technology instead of it using us. For me, the video’s message was clear and it takes me away once more from the urge to run with earphones plugged. For how long though, I don’t know.

***

As a frustrated writer, I also appreciate having music in the background. In my freelance days, I’ve finished countless articles, met writing deadlines with the help of the right music. And alcohol. I have likewise composed better blog post when music sets the mood and motivation.

My bluetooth headset we got in the US.

Few days ago I was contacted for a part-time writing job and so it seems that I would need to once again isolate myself for hours (if) when the job orders start coming in. Maybe that bone conduction earphone I see online is worth having after all.

***

How soon before someone becomes a freelancer? I’d say ten. Last week Marcus got his first feel of his mother’s home-based job when she asked him to encode few numbers from PDF to Excel while she took her break and surprisingly, wifey said he got the numbers right. Maybe, he’ll earn his first dollars soon. Haha.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (900-calorie breakfast after a 5K.)

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MyFitnessPal: Weight Loss Is Now Fun And Easier

There was once a time when losing weight was quite a struggle. There’s the gym but it requires membership. There’s your friendly liposuction clinic but obviously it’s invasive not to mention expensive. There are also self-help books on counting calories but these have limited recipes and rarely include nutritional info while some of it have ingredients that aren’t available locally. Where do you get kale, collard, cottage cheese, or quinoa? Go figure.

Fast forward to the era when almost everyone has mobile phones and almost everything starts to have its own app. Modern technology now makes losing weight interesting and fun. Weight watchers nowadays have more control, timely feedback, and could take actions fast like passing off on a slice of shortcake because calorie goal has been reached. Freeze it and tomorrow’s another day.

Seven months ago I was looking for a solution to my weight loss plateau. It’s the dreaded point of anyone trying to lose (or even gain) weight. Common knowledge dictates eat less, exercise more but it is easier said than done. Often times this hit or miss leads to under nourishment, sickness, and eventually, failure. I’ve seen people going back to square one and never attempting to cut weight ever again due to disappointment and/or lack of motivation.

This is where the apps come in. There are several apps that help count calories but I use Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal which is among the popular ones, if not the most, under its category. Since I started using it in August I have never turned back, never skipped a day without entry of my meals. The results gradually followed and goal finally reached. Thanks to data-driven weight loss.

MyFitnessPal allows its users to customize their own weight loss plan. Goal could be as aggressive as a 2-lb loss per week or just take it easy at .5 lb per week.

Personalized diet plan.

The app’s weight goal factors in the user’s activity level from Not Very Active to Very Active. Mine should be the former but since I have the leisure to take short breaks when my Garmin says Move! I set mine on Lightly Active. I normally achieve 10 stairs level (up) and 5,000 steps daily.

Activity level menu.

Of course, counting calories means food consumed versus daily calorie goal. This is where MyFitnessPal’s huge food database becomes an advantage. You may now start throwing away those diet self-help books you bought from the thrift shop. If you’re Filipino or Asian or anyone but American most likely those paper books do not include local dishes. So far everything I ate are on MyFitnessPal: sinigang, tulingan, sisig, tuna pasta, pizza, adobo, kamoteng kahoy, kangkong, balut, bulalo, sweet potatoes, bananas, eggs, etc. Whether it’s English or Tagalog food name, this app would have a match for it.

Use the app’s barcode reader if food label has a barcode. Trust me you’ll love this feature.
App shows calorie per food based on servings and it totals everything per meal. Here’s my 600-calorie breakfast.

After all meal entries are in, the app predicts possible weight result. When I started months ago I smirked when it said I would be 145 lbs. Well, it happened, breached it even further and I never doubted the app since then.

The number always motivates.

Interestingly, sooner or later calories wouldn’t be the only thing that matters. Anyone who gets more serious about diet and nutrition would be asking about nutrient details like sodium, cholesterol, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans. Then there’s also the question if where the calories are coming from. Does it come mainly from carbs, fats, or protein? MyFitnessPal got these covered.

Macro shows our diet needs to include fat. Keto guys rejoice!
Want more details, MyFitnessPal has this Nutrients tab for you.

There’s a big caveat to all this. MyFitnessPal computes based on accuracy of the user’s entry so honesty is a big factor here. User details like height, initial weight, activity levels must be all correct. Needless to say, if it’s two slices of apple pie you ate it must be two apple slices that should be entered or else weight predictions would remain a number and not a reality. And your bathroom scale would surely know.

There are also basic tools I use to complement the app. I have a cheap digital kitchen scale my wife got online and on most days I wear a Garmin Vivoactive HR watch that records calories consumed based on my physical activities such as running, walking, intervals, stairs climbed, etc.

The Garmin smart watch pairs with MyFitnessPal app and calorie goals are adjusted accordingly. I found some discrepancies though on how MyFitnessPal adjusts so I would ignore the big numbers whenever I see them.

Garmin Connect app shows a more accurate ‘calorie left’ number.
Better ignore the adjusted 1000 calories unless you workout like Dwayne Johnson.

MyFitnessPal is free but it has a premium package if you want to be more detailed about your diet. Free works for me for now.

***

Revision: I won’t sleep tight if I don’t include the barcode reader screenshot and change the boring title.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Cold uphill run to Makiling.)

The future of mobility

My Facebook timeline was recently full of posts featuring wheelchairs. It made me wonder then if it happens to be wheelchair awareness day. I didn’t bother to check. Today a post from my elder sister shows a concept wheelchair that could make the less mobile live more independently. This one’s the future of wheelchair. The video is on Facebook.

The concept wheelchair extends to hard to reach areas. (Image from Facebook.)

So is it wheelchair awareness season? Mobilityawarenessmonth.com says it’s May but it’s nice to know anyway that there seems to be a growing and sustained awareness on the needs of people who have limited mobility. May we soon see more people-with-disability-friendly places.

***

Weather was ideal last Sunday so I grabbed the opportunity to have Marcus take a morning stroll. He enjoyed it.

Summoning his inner peace.
Our morning walk partner. He got hot pan de sal for reward.

Today’s weather, however, isn’t as good as last week’s so as of this writing, past 1 PM, we let Marcus stay asleep. Thanks but no thanks to tropical storm Butchoy that despite having exited out of the Philippine area of responsibility is still making the skies dark every now and then. There’s always a next time.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Cats are dying.)

 

 

Are Tablets Good for Children?

April 23, Thursday. We were in a developmental pediatrician’s clinic. Our main purpose that day was to have Marcus checked for his unexplained frailty–he falls, he trips for no apparent reason. And among the factors we believed that contribute to his abnormal condition is just his lack of physical activities compared with other children of his age.

Immediately after being checked by the doctor, Marcus went to his cousin who is seated just across the doctor’s desk. Jed was occupied with Minecraft (they have been playing this game most of the time since day one of Jed’s one-week vacation) on our PLDT Telpad. They were quiet–as I have advised them–but the gadget captured the doctor’s attention. We didn’t expect what she said next.

“Were you ever aware about the effect of that gadget to your kid?” the doctor asked. “We’ll I’ve read about it,” I replied defensively. Obviously, she has a lot more to say about it, she went on with her lecture.

According to her, these gadgets impact our children big time. Kids nowadays who start to learn, some as young as six months old, how to use smartphones and tablets exhibit at least one of the following characteristics: impatience, short attention span, excessively possessive, and snaps easily. She added that electronic gadgets have been observed to cause ADHD and even trigger autism. While she was spot on regarding the characteristics–it was everything we have observed from Marcus, I was skeptic about ADHD and autism.

Nevertheless I swear that day that there will be lesser gadget time for Marcus. I felt more convinced that he needs to get more physical activity. I thought it was time to pump his green bike back to life. But it was a plan that would change quickly the following day.

Are smartphones and tablets good for children then? Given the effects of these gadgets, would we want to keep our kids away from them? Of course, this where parenting comes in. The key here is appropriate control as well as being good role models. Parents must also have the awareness that different kids have different needs which for my wife and I right now is the most important thing.

After April 23 we are back to allowing Marcus to have more gadget time. My wife and I have agreed that we will not force him anymore to get engaged in physical activities. We will let him play Minecraft more where he can build his own world and move around any terrain without falling down, without getting hurt. The doctor won’t probably understand but hopefully someday she will.

***

Mood: 7/10 Honks! (This toothache is killing me.)

Is Man Never Contented?

The first time I heard the cliché man is never contented was way back when I was in elementary. I never knew its meaning would become clearer and clearer as I grow older. Back then it was just begging for He-Man action figures when I’ve got the small plastic toy soldiers; wanting to have Legos when I’ve got freebie building blocks from sari-sari store junk foods packs; dreaming of having BB aluminum slingshots when I already have the bayabas wood piece; and imagining of having Tonka toys dragged around instead of the Milo cans transformed into trucks with wheels cut out from old smagol (slippers). All these wants I never got.

Twenty plus years later this phrase remains true.

The recent change from our stereotyped Kia Pride to the highly praised Honda brand gave me the feeling of a paradigm shift. I felt as if I just exchanged my push cart to a Bugatti. The change was drastic. From having our first car being pre-owned and the second car brand new.

If having the Kia Pride made me search the web for support groups then it’snowonderifI’vealreadyspentsometimebrowsingandlurkinginHondaforums.

But then reality struck. And it sucks. My precious Mary has its flaws and weaknesses too. Some of the owners find their City as having poor suspension, dashboards that are easily scratched, rusting hinges, poor gas mileage, rickety interiors and so forth. I did double check if I’m not reading my Kia Pride’sforum.

Are these bad reviews true or are these just sour graping? I checked and found my own list of the Honda City 2008’s pros and cons (so far).

Pros:

Power Steering.

Very silent engine. I find it necessary to honk every now and then to keep inattentive pedestrians from straying near Mary while I’m passing.

Spacious interior and boot.

Four cup holders. Who said you can’t drink and drive?

Cons:

Manual antenna. My Kia pride has powered version.

Very tight boot and gas lever. Having a Rolex is a bad idea. But then again who has a genuine Rolex and a City.

Audio player is not MP3 capable. And there are only two speakers located in the front. I pity the rear passengers.

The side panels and ceiling are prone to dirt stains due to the fabric material.

And so it is proven once again that man is never contented. Gid. Of course this is both a good and a bad thing. It becomes good when one aims for a better life but it becomes so bad when one keeps on having more wants than needs. It becomes worse when someone keeps on staring at the seductive Toyota Camry while inside a brand new Honda City. Ti abi.