The clocks rolling back an hour is the mark of long dark nights, and just like clockwork, my motivation to exercise and eat my greens, is diminishing faster than I can say pumpkin spiced latte. So when Nokia sent me their activity tracker, along with the smartest body scales on the market, and challenged me to improve my overall cardiovascular health, it couldn’t have come at a more apt time.
The Nokia Steel watch tracks my activity, heart rate, sleep and has a silent vibrating alarm clock, designed to gently wake me when I’m in the lightest sleep (you set a window of time around when you want to be getting up). It syncs to the app on my phone, as does the Body Cardio weighing scales, which I jump on every morning before I hop in the shower.
The smart scales give me a comprehensive record of my overall health, with minimal effort from me. Going deeper than my weight, it tracks and records my BMI, body fat and water percentage, muscle and bone mass, helping me to understand what goes into that number. Having a clearer picture of my body composition, I can pinpoint my efforts to lose fat and gain muscle.
Unlike most other activity trackers I’ve come across, the Nokia Steel watch looks just as good worn with a slip dress and heels for a night out, as it does for the working day. The sleek and simple clock-face, and comfy black rubber strap could never look out of place, and of course it’s waterproof, meaning I’ve no need to ever take it off.
Here are the steps (pun always intended) I’ve taken over the last month, to improve my overall health and to get those endorphins flowing.
I’ve had years of being a yo-yo exerciser. I’ve obsessively attended a 90 minute Bikram yoga class every day for a month, I’ve trained for and ran a marathon, and I’ve also been completely stagnant for six months. For me, exercise has always felt like a chore. In the past I would schedule in gym sessions for the entire month, only to back out at the last minute because I didn’t have the energy or hadn’t slept well the night before.
Having recently gone freelance, I now have the flexibility of managing my own time, and exercising when it suits me, which basically means I have no excuse. I know that not everyone has autonomy of their schedules, but one thing that has improved things for me is having a ‘menu’ of exercises I know I enjoy (once i’m there), I’m capable of, and have access to.
The first thing I do each morning, after hopping on the Body Cardio scales, is to choose which exercise I’m in the mood for on that day, and when I can fit it in. With the silent vibrating alarm, I’m able to get up early without disturbing Marc, so being at my desk by 6:30am isn’t unusual for me, and means I can get through my most important tasks by around 11:30am. I then have no qualms about taking a couple of hours out of my working day to exercise and have some lunch. I’m back at my desk by 2pm at the latest, and work through until around 6:30pm when I try to switch off from work mode.
The exercises I have on my ‘menu’ are:
1 hour of swimming whilst I listen to a podcast (waterproof bluetooth headphones)
a relaxing outdoor yoga class at the park
6k run with a friend
my own routine with weights at the gym or at home
a relaxing long walk by the canals near where I live
a hike in the countryside (I usually save this for the weekends)
Bikram yoga class
HIIT session (my least favourite)
I try to do one of these activities 5 days a week. I’m finding it so much easier, and much less of a chore to go and do what I actually feel like doing on that day, rather than what I swore to myself I would do when I scheduled it, five days earlier.
As an absolute minimum, I’ll go for a walk at lunchtime to get some fresh air and burn off some energy. The Nokia Steel has a little step counter on the face which keeps track of how many steps I’m up to in relation to my daily step goal of 10,000.
I’ve cut most meat and dairy out of my diet since July and I’ve really not missed it. Marc and I watched a few documentaries on Netflix, What The Health being the most triggering, and decided to reduce our animal product consumption. I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself veggie or pescatarian, since I’m happy to eat locally and responsibly sourced fish and meat, on occasions. We’re trying vegan products and finding lots that we’re happy to buy instead of our usual, so it’s small steps for us.
I’ve also cut down on refined sugars, and most carbohydrates. I have PCOS and so was advised to try a ketogenic diet. Unfortunately this entailed eating lots of meat and dairy products, which just left me feeling sluggish. I’m now filling up on greens, courgettes, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses. I think having barriers and limited options has helped me to keep on track so far, although I absolutely will not resist pizza, pasta and bread full-time, I’m trying to strike more of a balance. The Nokia Health Mate app syncs to My Fitness Pal, which I’ve been using for over a year now, tracking and recording my calories and macros against my activity and heart rate.
Quality sleep is super important for a healthy, balanced life and a positive state of mind. I have absolutely no idea how parents with young children function, and I can’t imagine how I’ll get through that myself when the time comes. I hear that your body adapts to needing less sleep?!
The Nokia Steel tracks my sleep patterns, so that the Health Mate app can tell me how much REM and non-REM sleep I’m getting each night. When I feel like I’ve had a long sleep, but for some reason feel tired, those are usually the nights where I’ve had mostly very light sleep and only a small amount of deep sleep in comparison. My caffeine tolerance is ridiculously low, so I can’t drink a proper coffee after 10am, and can’t have any caffeine at all after 12pm without a night of tossing and turning. It’s been interesting to see the difference in the quality of my sleep, and how caffeine affects it.
For all of the comprehensive data the watch, the scales and the app are giving me, improving my overall health has become somewhat simpler for having them. I can clearly see where I’m going right or wrong, and what steps to take each day to feel stronger and more energised. It boils down to eating less of the beige stuff, more of the green stuff and moving around as much as you can every day. Adopting small changes into your daily routine, combined a positive ‘can-do’ attitude when it comes to exercise makes all the difference.
Fancy stepping up to the challenge? Nokia and Connected Cities have launched CityMoves, an
eight-week step challenge taking place from 23rd October to 21st December 2017. Participants will be competing in four northern city regions including Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Liverpool and the North West Coast and Newcastle and the North East.
Find out more on the CityMoves page here.