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Devices Sports Wellbeing

Switching from a Fitbit Charge to a Garmin Vivoactive 4

Change happens

As you may remember, I bought a Fitbit Charge 3 in October 2018. I hadn’t worn a watch, let alone a fitness tracker like this, before that. I soon came to enjoy having it, and the data it gave me.

Unfortunately, the screen stopped working soon after the warranty expired on the device, and I made the decision to switch to a Garmin Vivoactive 4. I’ve had the Vivoactive 4 for a few weeks now, and I’m really enjoying it.

My failing Fitbit Charge 3

My Fitbit worked really well for most of the time that I’ve owned it. I found the data I received from it when I exercised (whether that was running, walking, or something else) to be great motivation to get back out there and do more exercise.

I noticed that the device started becoming a bit sluggish when I swiped the screen while running sometime in November. I would swipe the screen to switch to a different option, and it would take a moment longer to change.

I went for a run after my 5km race, and the device just stopped responding to my gestures, and I basically lost the tracking on the run between trying to get it to respond, and just giving up.

My disabled Fitbit Charge 3

Following the recommended troubleshooting steps helped the first time, and seemed to restore the device to normal functioning. Unfortunately, it failed again, and this time the screen stopped responding altogether.

Troubleshooting steps for the Fitbit Charge 3

These are the troubleshooting steps the Fitbit Support team recommended:

  1. Connect the device to the charging cable.
  2. While the device is plugged into the charging cable, press and hold the button down for 15 seconds.
  3. The device turns on and shows a battery icon. Two vibrations occur: first a short vibration, then a medium vibration.
  4. The device turns off.
  5. The device turns on and shows a progress bar and short vibrations occur. The progress bar completes. Note: A total of 7 short vibrations occur.
  6. Remove the device from the charging cable. The device shuts down.
  7. Important: Plug the device into the charging cable again.

I reached out to the Fitbit Support team on Twitter. They were pretty responsive, and were clearly trying to help me out. Ultimately, though, the device was out of warranty, so they couldn’t really do much more.

They suggested that I purchase a new Fitbit device. I considered going for the Fitbit Versa 2, but I was reluctant to buy another device that could die just outside its warranty period.

Researching alternatives to the Fitbit Charge 3

As you may gather, by this point I wanted something more than a simple tracker, so I started exploring something closer to a smart watch/fitness watch.

In the meantime, the Fitbit was still tracking my biometrics passively, so I still wore the device for step, and sleep tracking until my new device arrived.

I narrowed my options down to the Vivoactive 4, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. In the reviews I watched, both received great feedback. Here are some of the reviews that I found helpful:

Galaxy Watch Active 2

Vivoactive 4

I made my choice

I ultimately decided to go for the Vivoactive 4 because it seemed like a more robust fitness tracker, with smart watch features. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 seemed to be a smart watch first, with fitness tracking features.

I also liked that the Vivoactive 4 seemed to have better battery life, and offers a lot more data. The data really appealed to me.

So I ordered the device earlier this month from a local reseller, and switched over to it almost right away. For the most part, I really like this device, and I’m glad I chose it.

I won’t go into specs, and details. You can find plenty of that information in the reviews I shared above (and many others). Instead, I’ll share some thoughts and experiences.

Nitpicking the Vivoactive 4

As much as I like the device, there are a couple small issues that detract from the experience a little. To begin with, the sleep tracking doesn’t seem to be as accurate as the Fitbit. I wore both devices one night, and noticed a few differences between the data I received.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 sleep tracking data
Garmin Vivoactive 4 sleep tracking data
Fitbit Charge 3 sleep tracking data
Fitbit Charge 3 sleep tracking data

Subjectively, the Fitbit seemed to be more accurate. I’ve noticed that my Garmin seems to regard anything short of actually getting out of bed and walking around to be part of the sleep cycle. If I lie in bed reading, for example, it tends to think I’m still sleeping.

I’ve started manually editing my wake times for a little more accuracy.

I like the Vivoactive’s Stress Tracking and Body Battery features (tracking stress levels, and energy levels, respectively), although I’m not sure how accurate they are. They roughly correspond with how I feel at a given point in time, but they either seem to exaggerate levels, or understate them.

Still, as general indicators, they can be helpful.

What I really like about the Vivoactive 4

In general, I really like this device. It looks great, it’s comfortable to wear, and I find it pretty easy to operate.

Garmin Vivoactive 4
Garmin Vivoactive 4

I’ve had some fun switching between watch faces to find a watch face that offers me enough data points. The one above is called Crystal. It’s pretty customisable, and gives me all the data points I want to have at a glance.

I’m currently using Simple TDB that has a cleaner look, and with enough data points to persuade me to stick with it.

Simple TDB watch face
Simple TDB watch face

Using the Vivoactive 4 to track my runs is really easy. I push the top button, wait a few seconds for the GPS to start tracking, and then run.

It’s really easy to see a number of data points when running, at a glance, and my watch quickly sends my activity data up to Strava when I finish a run. By contrast, the Fitbit Charge 3 had to connect through my phone for GPS tracking, and that didn’t always work.

If my phone’s Bluetooth wasn’t working well at the time (which happens at times), I’d had to restart my phone to get it to sync correctly. My Garmin still uses the phone to send data to Strava, but it seems to sync more reliably.

I also really like that I have built-in GPS!

Performance

The device’s battery life really depends on what you’re using. If you’re running with music, and GPS, you’ll probably need to charge in a day or two.

On the days when I’m not running (and using GPS), the watch goes for a few days before I need to charge it. The battery life isn’t quite like the Fitbit Charge 3, but it’s ok.

It takes an hour, at most, to charge the Vivoactive 4, and then I’m ready to go again. I’ll often charge it while I’m working, or watching TV.

Is it right for you?

Just based on what I know about Garmin’s fitness trackers/watches in this price range, the Vivoactive 4 seems to be a sort of “general” use device. It handle fitness tracking for a large number of activities pretty well, and it’s a good fit for me.

If you’re a dedicated runner, it will probably be great for you, too. At the same time, I found this comparison between the Vivoactive 4 and the Forerunner 245 to be really interesting from the perspective of additional features that the Forerunner has for, well, runners:

I’m really happy with my purchase, and I’ve been for a few runs with it already. As I had hoped, being able to track my activity is motivating me to get out there more often (which is the point).

Categories
Events and Life Sports Wellbeing

I ran my first timed 5km race

Last week I ran my first timed 5km race as part of the annual Modiin Race. I set myself the goal of running in the 5km race last year when my wife and son competed in last year’s Modiin Race, and I’m pretty proud of myself for achieving my goal.

I started running again towards the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, and was pretty consistent until about April when I stopped running.

Then, as the race approached, I decided to start running again at the beginning of November when the weather started to cool.

My November running log
My November runs

My pace was predictably relatively slow to begin with (I hadn’t done much exercise for months, after all), but I feel like I improved nicely over the following two weeks.

I was hoping to complete the race in under 30 minutes, although I just realised that I based that goal on the assumption that the race course was 5km.

It was actually a little more, so my time was pretty good for my first 5km race in years (I ran a 5km fun run years ago in Johannesburg).

I wouldn’t say that I enjoy running, necessarily, but I do like getting out and exercising. I also enjoy the feeling of progress when I run further without slowing to walk, and the feeling of having accomplished something for myself afterwards.

My post race moment
Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Sports Wellbeing

Today’s alternative to my usual run

Frisbee and a ball
Our frisbee and ball

I finally took some time to get outside, and exercise for the first time in about a week. I was going to do my usual run (it’s effective but I don’t particularly like it) when my daughter asked me to take her to the park.

I was about to say “No”, and that I wouldn’t have time, and then it occurred to both of us that I could take her to the park, and get my cardio workout.

So we took a ball and a frisbee. Our daughter (and, later, her friend too), threw the frisbee, or kicked the ball, and I ran around fetching it for them.

This worked out to be a win-win, I think.

Categories
Music Wellbeing

Feeling a bit better with this song

I’ve had a rough week or two with more anxiety and depression than usual. Music tends to help my mood, and “Like Gold” by Vance Joy is one of those songs for me:

Actually, I’m really enjoying Vance Joy generally at the moment. Here’a a great playlist to binge with:

Categories
Wellbeing

Why people with ADHD take medication – it often helps us function

I’ve started watching Jessica’s channel, How to ADHD. Actually, I’ve been binging a little this morning. I’m watching one video at the moment in which she explains what happened when she ran out of her medication, and just couldn’t focus:

Many people with ADHD are embarrassed that they need to take medication to function. I don’t feel that way at all because I remember far too many days when I sat staring out a window, or doing everything other than the work I needed to do to earn a living.

Heck, I think back to my early career, and even my school years, when I probably spent more time looking out a window, and unable to focus on my office/school work, than actually getting my work done.

This is why I take my pill every morning. It helps me participate in my day to day life, and function more effectively.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Gabriel Tenan
Categories
Music Wellbeing

The music that helps get me up those hills

I’ve been running for the last two months (not continuously), and I’ve experimented with some sort of audio accompaniment to help pass the time.

I started off listening to podcasts, and while this helped me get through more of my podcast backlog, listening to podcasts doesn’t really give me that extra oompf to get up the hills.

So I switched over to some music. I started off with “9 Dead Alive” by Rodrigo y Gabriela, but then it disappeared from Spotify (for me at least). I then bought the album, and loaded it onto my phone to play through another audio app on my phone

That worked for a run or two until I felt the need for something different. In the past, I’ve tended to go for movie soundtracks when I worked out, specifically instrumental soundtracks. With music from the likes of Batman, the Flash, and more, the playlist definitely has the drama to get up those hills.

Still, it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. So I looked at some of the music I’ve been listening to lately, and came up with my current “Going for a run” playlist:

This music isn’t exactly what you’d hear in a gym, or otherwise associate with some sort of workout but what I like about these songs is that they tend to have a great cadence for my current running pace.

I’ve used this playlist for about a week or so, and so far it’s helped move me along my current route at a decent pace.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Jenny Hill
Categories
Events and Life Food and Drink Wellbeing

Diabetic for 6 years

Today is the sixth anniversary of my Diabetes diagnosis. I remember the morning I received the news from my doctor. I had gone for blood tests because I was feeling thirsty almost constantly, and I noticed that my vision was a little fuzzy.

I discovered that these are two typical symptoms of Diabetes later. At the time, I was in a state of shock. I was only 37. I thought that life as I knew it was over. It was, just not how I thought at the time.

Being diagnosed forced me to lose weight, and start eating far better. Much of the credit for eating better goes to my wife who’s found great, Diabetic-friendly alternatives to common ingredients in the years since then. I remember that she basically went out and replaced much of our kitchen inventory with healthier options almost right away.

Since then, my control has been mostly ok.

The thing with Diabetes is that it’s a progressive condition. You need to work at it, every day, for the rest of your life.

That means you need to be mindful about what you eat, and when you eat it. I haven’t found that depriving entirely is the way to go, at least not for me. I cheat now and then, and focus on keeping that urge under control.

I’ve slipped many times. My levels were way too high for most of 2018, and I’ve started to bring them back down in the last couple months with more regular exercise. When I spoke to my doctor after my latest blood test results, she said that she’d formally prescribe exercise if she could, it’s that important.

I started running at the beginning of the year. I aim for 20 minutes, five times a week. I can’t say that I enjoy running, but I’m getting stronger, and 20 minutes isn’t that much time. It’s enough to get my heart rate up to where it needs to be (frequently even higher), and I can see the results in my routine blood tests.

I can also see what happens when I take a break from my running.

For now, my goal is to get my levels down enough for a “normal” HbA1c test in a month or two. That’s only going to happen with regular exercise, better discipline with what I eat, and a focus on the positive benefits of all of this effort.

At the same time, I’m also thinking about doing a race or two this year. The city conducts a running race in November each year. Gina and Aaron ran last year, and I think I’ll join them this year, and run the 5km race.

It’s been a challenging 6 years, and I’m sure there will be more challenges in the year ahead. The point, though, is that there will be years to look forward to.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Brian Metzler*

*FYI, this isn’t what I look like when I’m running. It’s what I imagine when I’m gasping for breath, lurching up a hill on my usual route.

Categories
Wellbeing

Not sure who took who for a walk this morning

I need to be more active. My Diabetes control has been pretty non-existent this year. Thankfully, my new Fitbit gives me an easy way to measure my (lack of) progress, and I’ve started making better use of short gaps in my daily schedule to get outside more often.

Home must be here somewhere …

I had an hour gap between shifts this morning, so I took our dog out for a walk in our area. The nice thing about walking with her is that she tends to move at a pretty fast pace (once she gets past the anxiety of being in a new space). It’s mostly her way of trying to return home as quickly as she can, wherever that is.

The upside of that is that we tend to have a pretty brisk walk so I can get my heart rate up a bit. Today we only walked for about 15 minutes or so. Next time, we’ll head out further, I think.

I’d like to do at least half an hour at a time, at a fast walk. I’m also contemplating buying a pair of decent running shoes and getting back into running. The challenge is that Winter is setting in. The prospect of running in the cold rain doesn’t thrill me.