Smartwatch & Tracker Users: “Un-quantify” Yourself 14.3% of the Time

I admit to intentional irony in the headline, but here’s my point in “analog”: once per week or so, don’t use your smartwatch or fitness tracker (or at least, don’t obsess over it). I’m experimenting with this, brothers, and urge you to do the same.

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I admit to intentional irony in the headline, but here’s my point in “analog”: once per week or so, don’t use your smartwatch or fitness tracker (or at least, don’t obsess over it).  I’m experimenting with this, brothers, and urge you to do the same.

Between a fifth and a quarter of Americans own a wearable device (roughly half use it regularly).  But my guess is we OlderBeasts, who care a lot about fitness and welcome all the help we can get, are much higher-than-average users.

So a lot of us measure and strive on things like: how far did I go at what average pace?…how many calories did I burn?…what was my average and max heart rate?. I certainly do (I just moved to a “strapless” GPS/heart-rate watch that does all the land-based stuff plus count laps, stroke efficiency and things like that in the pool).

Arriving at my town’s pool the other day, I realized – horror! – I’d left the precious new wearable at home.  I actually momentarily considered driving back to get it, then realized “this is crazy—man has been swimming for 10,000 years without a gizmo on his wrist…including me for the first 40 or so years of life—I think I can ‘tough it out’ today with no tech.”

Well, I had a great swim, and thinking about this “un-quant yourself” theme, I realized it’s happened to me every now and again for running, too (forgot to bring my smartwatch on a business trip).

turn-off-your-mind

So I decided to start going low-tech sometimes on purpose.  Why might you consider this, too?

⇒ Unclutter your mind to let creativity and problem-solving bubble up while you work out.  One of the reasons we exercise is to get away from the modern world and its sometimes-suffocating nature.  Not worrying about your little wrist screen can be freeing, every now and then, and let our minds rest, or (sometimes) do their best work.

⇒ Reduce unhealthy desire for “farther/faster.”  I’m reasonably competitive, with myself especially.  That helps motivate lifelong workout habits, which is great, but when paired with precise measurement tech, it can also limit satisfaction with a workout if it wasn’t “better” than the prior one.

Example to show how crazy this actually is:  I swim at a pace per 100 meters of 1:51-1:53, for my ~2400-meter swim a couple of times per week (I’m not a fast swimmer).  Deep down, I want each swim to be a bit faster than the last.  But is this even possible for any sustained period?  If I improved my pace by one second each time I swim, within six months I’d be at world record pace…and that’s not happening.

So it’s healthy to embrace this:  at some point on your fitness curve for a given activity, you’re not going to get much faster, or go much farther.  That’s a beautiful thing, if you flip around your perspective:  you’ve gotten into really good shape, refined technique…and now you’re going to maintain performance, and enjoy your body’s ability to keep doing this.  Unplugging from wearable tech now and again helps allow this perspective.

⇒ Listen to your body.  Not relying on tech-enabled quantification brings you back to a more elemental way of calibrating your effort – how do I feel?  This is a good thing.

⇒ Finally, there’s the simple but deeply philosophical idea of sometimes just being a man in his natural state, doing something physical like your ancestors have been doing since back into the deep shadows of the past.  Getting the f**king computer off your wrist helps bring that back, man, and that’s important.

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Am I getting rid of my fitness watch?  No way!  There are tremendous benefits to it, and I’ll have one for the rest of my life.  But as with anything great that we might risk overdoing, a little moderation with wearable tech keeps everything in balance and makes life work best.

So, I’m going to “forget” my tech once a week or so, for an easy-to-moderate and mellow workout, and I think I’ll be happier for it.

I think you may, too…let me know how it goes!

“Does anybody really know what time it is…does anybody really care.” (Chicago, Does Anybody Know What Time it Is?)

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Fitness as We Age: 5 Ways to Combat Physical Vulnerability

In our quest to stay fit and vital as we age, sometimes we can’t help but experience feelings that counter-productively undermine our resolve.

It’s natural to fear and lament that our basic physical capabilities are diminished compared to our younger selves. But while this is true, you’re less over-the-hill than you think, man. This should be a manageable fear. Anyway, what are you gonna do about this – exercise less and let yourself get less fit because you can’t run a mile as fast as you could 20 years ago?

Also, like people of any age, we sometimes battle that sluggish feeling that whispers “don’t work out today…there’s always tomorrow.” But as we age, doubling down on fitness becomes ever more important, so effectively responding to that sluggish feeling is key.

Here’s the feeling that threatens our long-term body-and-soul health more than any other: the fear that we are getting more fragile, more VULNERABLE to injury and other activity-limiting aches and pains.

This is so dangerous because we can observe that it’s least partly true…but at the same time we can’t let it dictate our fitness habits and start a self-fulfilling downward trend. So how to deal with this shadow of vulnerability we feel? The trick is to neither ignore nor surrender to it.

Here are five things you can do starting now, to face up to this most-human feeling of vulnerability.

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How Aging Reduces Your Calorie Burn Rate – and How Being Active Reverses The Decline

If you’re a 40+ guy paying at least casual attention to nutrition science, you know this: as we get older, our bodies naturally burn fewer calories.

Given this reality about “base metabolic rate” (BMR), our choices are: (1) Slowly gain weight; (2) Get more active, to counter-balance the BMR decline; or (3) Reduce calories consumed.

I flirted with the first path in my 30’s but ultimately chose to reject Outcome #1, do everything I can toward Outcome #2, and also accept that a bit of Outcome #3 will be needed over time.

Whatever choice you make (and you are making a choice, man), I want it to be an informed one. So please invest a few minutes to learn about your current calorie burn rate, how it’s changing, and how your activity level affects that trajectory. Preview: getting more active can more than offset BMR decline, for many years!

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Are We Free Men Capable of Behavior Change – or Marketers’ Negative Stereotype?

Talk to ad industry people and you’ll learn that a disproportionately small share of ads target us 45+ guys. Though we’re a large portion of the population (and consumer spending), those who steer the spending of ad dollars are more interested, proportionally, in women and younger guys.

But OlderBeast isn’t about business, so why bring this up? Because it reflects “conventional wisdom” about us: that we rarely try new things, and that in many categories (e.g. nutrition), women make decisions for us.

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REAL fitness New Year’s Resolution: “I Will Discover What’s *Really* Been Holding Me Back.”

So many guys know they need to lose weight, improve cardio health, and/or battle the decline of strength and flexibility. They know all the reasons why and they know reasonably well what to do. But still…time passes. Periods of resolve (especially around New Year’s) are followed by longer periods of less discipline. The body-and-soul health gap grows larger. And the long-term game plan to address it recedes into the fuzzy future.

In truth, do you recognize yourself here? This was me circa 2004 by the way, so please don’t hear this question as criticism or judgment. I’m describing, at least, a sizable minority of 45+ guys. Maybe even a majority.

If you’re one of them, I respectfully believe you need a different kind of 2018 New Year’s resolution, man. Not just to “work out more” or “join a new gym.” These kinds of resolution are easy to make but so hard to keep over time. (So is “eat better,” but nutrition is its own major topic and here I’m sticking to the exercise component of fitness).

Here’s a resolution that may sound harder to start acting on, but which is much more likely to really matter in your life. “In 2018, I’m going to discover and attack the root cause – cognitive or emotional – of my persistent under-attention to fitness and health.”

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