Sunday, June 16, 2013

TECH: The Jawbone Up Smart Device Tracks Fitness, Sleep & Eating Habits #Verizon #KnowYourSelf

Verizon Wireless sells the Jawbone Up in their retail stores
I now know what I am doing right, and doing wrong with my overall health...

Special thanks to Verizon Wireless for loaning product to facilitate this review

Since turning 50, I have gained 15 pounds and lost the ability to fall asleep easily.  These facts are hard for me to admit since I had been able to keep my weight in control for most of my adult life and I used to sleep like a rock.  I have been feeling very out of control of late and not liking it one darn bit.  For me menopause has been an evil task mistress.

I have written more than a few blog posts this year about my weight and sleep struggles and how I am trying to gain back control.  So when Verizon Wireless gave me the opportunity to review a smartphone accessory sold in their retail stores called the Jawbone Up, I jumped at the chance.

The Jawbone Up works with smartphones to track your exercise, sleep and eating patterns - all with one fashionable high tech smart device that you wear on your wrist.

The Jawbone Up is marketed as a "thoughtful combination of engineering and design, custom-made for how we live."  The Jawbone Up is a flexible smart device bracelet that combines with a corresponding smartphone app for Apple or Android devices.

Setup and use are very easy...
To use the device, you first need to download the Jawbone Up app to your smartphone and go through a setup process to add your current weight, height and age.  You also can setup daily goals.

I setup goals to walk 10,000 steps a day and to get 6 1/2 hours of sleep per night. After the setup is complete you start wearing the bracelet which tracks your steps with no further interaction needed.  Twice a day, you connect the device to your smartphone via the headphones port to download the tracking information.  Then using your smartphone, you can view the color charts to see your stats.  

I was not getting as much exercise as I thought....
In the past, I have never had to struggle much with my weight.  As long as I did my daily morning exercise bike riding, I was golden.  But, no more.  So I added the goal of doing 10,000 steps a day to try and get my weight under control.  I have been walking twice around my work complex 3-4 times a week since last summer, even through the winter months.  I just knew that I was getting my 10,000 steps a day in - until the Jawbone Up showed me that I was dead wrong.

The Jawbone Up tracks all the steps that you take during the day - every single one.  This is great if you walk or run for exercise like I do at lunch time. But if you do any other type of exercise, like I do with riding a stationary bike in the morning, you have to add that activity in manually.

Adding other types of exercise is pretty easy since it is all menu driven.  To add my daily stationary bike ride, I just choose the type of exercise from the menu pictures, and then add the duration and time of day. Adding all your exercise into the program is key because the Jawbone Up software prepares daily charts that track all your exercise and the calories you burn, both while being active and stationary.

At the end of the day, the Jawbone Up charts tell you how many calories you burned, how many steps you walked or ran, how many miles you traveled, plus the longest time you were active and idle.

I found out from my charts that I was not getting anywhere near my 10,000 steps a day just by walking twice around my work complex.  So I added a third trip around the complex every day and that hit the mark for my steps goal.  Once I hit the 10,000 daily steps, I started losing weight and getting more energy.

All I needed was the data from the Jawbone Up to know what was missing so I could come up with ways to fix the problem.

Jawbone Up Encouragement...
And to help make people more active, the Jawbone Up app has a setting where you can have the bracelet buzz when you have been inactive for a set amount of time.

I have my Jawbone Up set to virbrate when I have been inactive for 90 minutes. I then know it is time to get up from my work desk and at least walk to the bathroom or to the kitchen to get a drink of water.

The Jawbone Up also has insights that pop up for encouragement.  The above screen shot shows one of the insights praising me for averaging over 10,000 steps per day.

I need to take my butt to bed...
I know that I don't sleep worth a dime.  I have known that fact for sometime, but I have not done much to change.  Once my son goes to bed, I get a burst of energy and start working on projects and thinking about projects and getting so wound up that I have trouble falling asleep.  And even after I go to bed, I wake up during the night.  I knew it was bad, but now with the Jawbone Up, I have tons of data that I can use to make a change.

Sleep mode is a manual device setting...
The Jawbone Up can measure the amount of sleep you get and how many times you wake up during the night.  To activate sleep mode, you have to press the mode button on the bracelet once.  The instruction book recommends pressing the button right after cutting off the light when getting into bed - and that has worked very well for me since I have only forgotten to do it 3 night in the past 4 weeks. If the bracelet is not put into sleep mode, it will not track your sleep for the night. In the morning, you can press the button again to take the Jawbone Up out of sleep mode or just take 50 steps and the Jawbone Up takes itself out of sleep mode automatically.

Once the sync with your smartphone is done, you have tons of data on how you slept - and it is eye opening.  From the screen shot above, the Jawbone Up chart indicates that last Saturday night, it took me 16 minutes to fall asleep and I woke up twice during the night.  Of the 6 hours that I was asleep, I was only in deep sleep for approximately 2 hours.  I knew that I don't stay asleep most nights, but it is interesting to know how many times I woke up and for how long.

In addition to tracking activity and sleep, the Jawbone up can also track everything that you eat.  Since I don't believe in counting calories, I have not tried out that feature. But I may have to use it in the future to get my weight under control.

I would sum up my experience with the Jawbone Up as follows -

Pros -
- Bracelet design is very fashionable
- Durable design allows the device to be worn even in the shower
- Tracks every single step you take since you only take off the device to charge it
- Only has to be charged every 10 days and it takes only 30 minutes to fully charge
- No computer needed, only your smartphone and the Jawbone Up Android or Apple app
- Sleep, exercise and food log data can be transfered to other compatible tracking applications
- Cheaper than the Nike Fuel Band

Cons -
- Pricier than the Fitbit Flex
- Manual action to put the device into sleep mode can be easily forgotten when you are tired
- The charging cable is small and easy to lose
- Would be easier if the data could sync through bluetooth instead of having to physically attach the device to the smartphone
- Silver cap has to be removed for syncing - and the cap is easy to lose when it is not on the device
- Only available for Apple and Android devices - sorry  Windows Phone and Blackberry users

Since using the Jawbone Up over the past month, I have lost 3 pounds and have tons of data to help make changes with my fitness and sleep habits.  And since I have to give the loaner Jawbone Up back to Verizon, I will be purchasing my own since the device has now become a pivotal part of my daily routine.

The Jawbone Up retails for $129 and comes in wrist sizes, small, medium, and large and in lots of colors including the popular colors of black and blue. The Jawbone Up is sold in retail stores nationwide including Verizon Wireless retail stores and on the Verizon Wireless website.

Click here to learn more about the Jawbone Up on the Verizon Wireless website

Here's to good health in 2013!


Disclosure: Verizon Wireless loaned me a Jawbone Up to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

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