Garmin Vivofit: One Week Review

vivofit-move-units-1x

What is the Garmin Vivofit?

The Garmin Vivofit is part of the fitness wearable trend. It’s a bracelet that collects fitness data such as the number of steps taken, the distance walked, heart rate (if paired with a monitor), and more. This data is then tracked over time in a dashboard where you can see your activities over time.

The Fitbit One

fitbitone

I had previously used the Fitbit One, which I found problematic for several reasons:

  1. The clip style was difficult to clip on and off in my pants pocket. While this probably meant I actually kept it instead of losing the One, it also meant that I hardly ever removed it to check my progress during the day. I increasingly forgot to move it to my next day’s pair of pants and would have to go searching for it before it ended up in the washer.
  2. Because I rarely checked my progress during the day, I stopped caring about the number of steps I was registering in a day. Most of the time, I had no idea if I was about to hit a goal or if I was far away from one.
  3. The One needed to be charged about once a week. Inevitably, I would be someplace inconvenient to charge and have to do it some days later.

Why did I choose the Garmin Vivofit? 

  1. The bracelet design solves a lot of the issues I had with the One. It is ever-present and my data is available with a push of a button.
  2. The bracelet doubles as a watch.
  3. The Vivofit uses a red line to indicate when I’ve been inactive for too long. Many reviews cite the lack of a vibrating alert as a negative but it’s a positive for me. I like the unobtrusive yet constant reminder of the red line.
  4. The Vivofit also features a goal counter that counts down in reverse while your total step count increases. This is really motivating and encourages me to keep moving, especially if I see at the end of the day that I’m near my goal.
  5. The Vivofit uses the equivalent of watch batteries, which last a year. Finally, a device I don’t have to constantly charge!
  6. It’s waterproof so I never have to remove it, even in the shower or while washing dishes.
  7. Reviews from trusted websites like The Wirecutter recommend it as the top pick.
  8. Price: The Vivofit retails for $130 but at the time of this posting you can get it on Amazon for $71!

What do I expect in the future from my Vivofit? 

  1. My hope is it will continue to motivate me to keep moving, as it has this first week. I haven’t always been able to follow through, but I’ve at least been aware of my inactivity.
  2. I expect the dashboard, which seems to have had a recent overhaul, to continue to improve and for new features to be added.
  3. I expect Garmin to make the Vivofit play more nicely with other apps. Currently, it has a basic interface with a few apps like MyFitnessPal, but it doesn’t export the most important data, such as steps. This would be a really nice addition to rounding out the Vivofit’s functionality.

Summary: So far, I think the Garmin Vivofit is just about perfect for someone who wants to passively track activity but also use the device as a motivational tool. 

Stop eating microwave popcorn. Get a Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper instead.

Everyone has a microwave, and that probably means you think that the best and easiest way to make popcorn is to throw a bag in and have hot popcorn a few minutes later. You would also be terribly, horribly, disgustingly WRONG.

Whirley

A stovetop Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper is the best way to make up some delicious popcorn in no time. You will only buy one, so in my opinion it’s better to spring for the stainless steel version, which has less chance of leaching aluminum into your food. If you’d rather save a few bucks, an awful lot of people use the basic version without complaint.

Why not microwave popcorn? Good question. 

  1. It’s disgusting. It is soaked in some bizarre imitation butter concoction that is greasy and coats your mouth with a disgusting film. It’s also covered in some strange salty discharge that is probably the tears of small children desperate to know what real popcorn tastes like.
  2. It makes your microwave disgusting. It leaves some waxy, butter-like residue all over the microwave tray. You want to put that in your mouth? No way!
  3. See how gross that bag is once you empty it? Why would you put the contents that caused it to be so revolting inside you?
  4. It’s unhealthy. The Food Babe, who I discovered while writing this post, does a nice job of breaking down the ingredients in microwave popcorn and their problems.
  5. It just tastes bad in every way. Sure, it smells good. However, that’s it. Once you put a kernel in your mouth, you’re spending every following second trying to convince your mouth it’s not that bad. It’s like watching a Transformers movie. It looks like something you should like but it’s impossible to consume it without realizing it’s utter crap.

Enter the Whirley Pop! Why is this so much better? 

  1. You are actually involved in the cooking process. This gives you a small sense of accomplishment and satisfaction you do not get from pushing a microwave ‘start’ button.
  2. You use actual real popcorn that you see before it becomes delicious. You can see how clean and natural it looks before you doom it to your digestive tract.
  3. You can modify the taste easily. There are different types of popcorn, different oils, different salts, different flavorings. All of these in various combinations can have a subtle or profound effect on your popcorn. Indianapolis has a fantastic popcorn store called Just Pop In! that hints at the varieties of popcorn flavors possible. This makes it fun to experiment and create your own flavor, which you can then market and sell to Just Pop In! (maybe).
  4. See how relatively clean the pan is when you’re done cooking? That’s a good sign that what you are eating isn’t disgusting.
  5. It’s cheap. Even gourmet popcorn is pretty inexpensive, all things considered.
  6. You determine how much popcorn you are going to make (and eat). This can reduce waste and be sure you utilize the popcorn you buy. It’s also really easy to make several large batches for movie night with friends.
  7. Cleanup is super easy.

So quit eating that nasty microwave popcorn and start enjoying the good life. Get a Whirley Pop!

The Joy of Slippers

Slippers are so underrated. I take mine with me pretty much anytime I’ll be indoors more than a few hours. Some friends used to laugh at me for showing up to their house with slippers in tow. Over time, I’ve noticed their jealousy at my toasty warm feet has overwhelmed their fear of being mocked and they now bring theirs out as well.

Haflinger AT

My slippers: The Haflinger AT

Why are slippers so great? I’ll tell you why: 

  1. It sucks to be cold.
  2. When your feet are freezing, it’s hard to get warm.
  3. Many people ask you to remove your shoes while in the house, especially when it’s snowy or wet outside.
  4. There’s always one person who wears their shoes anyway or walks through to the kitchen before remembering to remove them.
  5. Once you remove your shoes, there is a law of physics that states you MUST immediately misstep and get your sock wet.
  6. Slippers are easy to bring along and easy to slip on and off regularly, as required.
  7. Great slippers just feel cozy.
  8. Slippers with a rubber bottom mean you can step briefly outside or walk through the house without worrying about getting your sock wet for any reason.
  9. Slippers can add something unique to your outfit or they can blend in seamlessly, similar to shoes.
  10. Comfortable slippers make you feel good all over and anyone not wearing slippers will be jealous and wish they had your sense of confidence and style. If they say otherwise, they are a liar.

How to choose slippers:

The Sweet Home has a terrific write-up for choosing slippers. They have it pretty well covered here, so I won’t repeat it. I will say I look for a few things in my own slippers:

  • Easy on, easy off
  • Rubber sole
  • Conservative styling; giant muppet-heads on my feet are not for me.
  • Good quality; I wear them daily and expect them to last years.

Know this: Anyone commenting positively on your slippers is admiring them and wishing they had thought to bring their own slippers. Anyone commenting negatively on your slippers is jealous and hating themselves for not having their own at that moment.

Either way, you’re cozy warm and feeling great. Next time you visit a friend or family, take your slippers. You’ll be glad you did!

How to spend money

If you have some money but not all the money, I ask you to consider how you choose to spend it. What things are worth splurging on? What things you should buy as cheap as possible? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before spending money:

Where do I spend the most time? 

We can get a lot of value out of money if we spend it to enhance the places where we spend the most time. You should spend an average of 8 hours a day on your mattress; make sure it’s a good one. The side effects that come from poor sleep can literally wreck your entire life. Spend a little bit more and sleep well.

We recently had an energy audit on our house. Aside from wrapping water heater pipes and replacing light bulbs, one thing they did was offer to install a water-efficient shower-head. Sure, I said without thinking. The next morning, I was treated to a Seinfeld-like shower with no pressure. NO PRESSURE. I immediately emailed my wife and told her not to stress, that a new shower-head was on the way. I believe my exact words were “We are not going to live like savages.”

DeltaI soon installed a Delta 75152 and it was the best $23 I ever spent. Now we are still seeing a noticeable decrease in water usage while getting a better shower than we ever had before. Fifteen minutes a day in the shower is over 91 hours every year. Money well spent.

You probably spend an awful lot of time at work. Why not spend a couple of bucks to reduce the misery of your workday? A nice plant or decoration can make a huge difference if you have a dedicated workspace. If you are on your feet all day, get quality shoes. These things matter in your life.

What do I see/hear the most? 

Screens. The good ones usually don’t cost much more than the crappy ones. You can’t tell by looking in the stores b/c the lighting and displays are not the same as your home. Check out a site like The Wirecutter and trust their research. You will be thankful later.

Get the biggest screen you can with the highest quality you can. This will pay off for years when you do not feel the urgent need to upgrade again quickly. It’s far better to save and get the right one rather than settle to get one immediately.

Remember that screens now have multiple uses. I bought a large 27″ display for my home computer. I like having it in a dedicated space with a big screen. I also use it to watch Netflix or stream sports in a pinch. This makes it much more versatile than saving a few dollars and reducing my options for using it in different ways.

Between my television and computer screens, I spend a lot of time looking at them. My life is greatly enriched by having a terrific experience in those hours instead of watching mediocre screens. Also, a decent soundbar can make a huge difference in the quality of your home viewing experience without all the hassle of a surround system.

What do I touch the most? 

Spend money on things you touch the most. Even if it seems silly, this will make a huge difference in your daily life. It’s much better to spend money on a shoe horn you use daily instead of a tie you wear once a month. It’s better to have a well-fitting undershirt you wear daily that makes you feel good than one that is too short and irritates you constantly.

A great towel can start every day off on the right foot. If you love to cook, get some decent pots and pans. Love coffee? Spend a weekend upgrading your skills and drink better coffee every day.

How many times will I buy this item? 

We recently replaced our furnace and central air unit. We chose to spend more money on these because even though they are not highly visible, a more efficient furnace will save us money on future energy bills and add value to our home. We also hope this is the only furnace we buy in the next 12-18 years.

Our garage door also recently broke, splintering the wood (it was an old door) beyond repair. Again, we only plan to buy one garage door and felt that a really great door would add value to our home and give us a feeling of pleasure when seeing it daily versus a door that was poorly matched or saved a few hundred dollars over the course of our lifetime.

What should I not spend money on? 

Think about how many times you use a given item and spend money on the things you use the most. Avoid so-called luxury items that are for special occasions only. Odds are, you can rent or borrow one if needed for far cheaper than buying one and you won’t have to maintain or store it.

Do I care what other people think? 

If the most important thing to you in deciding how to spend your money is that other people know how you spend your money, you are going to make poor decisions. You might have a house that’s too large for no reason and a car that costs too much. You will have a lot of things on display for others to see that you rarely interact with yourself. You will wonder why these things do not make you happier.

Don’t do that. Look at your own life, ask the questions above, and spend your money accordingly. If you spend 3 hours a day in your car, by all means, get the best and most luxurious ride you can afford. But make the choice consciously, knowing that you are doing so because it will bring you joy, not just because the neighbors will see it.