Moving With Google Fit

Lethargy feels like the mayonnaise that won’t squeeze out of the plastic bottle. To get unstuck, get movin’! So I’ve been ramping up my fitness. When the Summer sun isn’t trying to kill me in a Texas heatwave, I’ve been outside literally taking steps towards my exercise goals.

Walk This Way

Earlier this month, I wrote about Google buying FitBit, and I related that to my need for fitness. During this Covid-19 virus imbroglio, my YMCA closed. And after it reopened partially, my karate class was not resumed.

So what could I do without my martial arts practice to keep pushing my body? I decided that I didn’t need to repair or replace my bike or buy a fitness tracker to get movin’. I already have all I need.

A good pair of shoes.

Also, I happen to have a smartphone with built-in GPS and an Accelerometer to track my movements. With those two sensors, you kind of get the same results as a Pedometer: step counting.

So my anti-sedentary stance begins with the Google Fit app on my phone. With it, I also tried other apps: FitBit, MapMyWalk and MapMyRun.

All I must do is have my phone in my pocket when I’m on the move!

Also: hydrate. Then rehydrate.

Google Fit dashboard
The Google Fit dashboard

The FitBit app is loaded. It’s almost too much. And without a connected tracker, it’s weaksauce. The MapMyWalk app is nice, but not as simple or nice as the Google Fit app. The one thing I wanted with MapMy… was a map showing the path I walked.

Google Fit, updated this Spring, not only records my walking paths, it does it automatically! It detects when I’m walking a long distance. But I usually “start a workout” to be sure. I’m deliberate when I go for a walk anyways.

For now, I walk with mixed intermittent jogging, just to get my heart rate up. It’s been too hot to all-out jog. One thing I’ve tried is reading on my kindle while walking, which totally works. And I sometimes listen to a podcast with lightweight earbuds.

So I’m lovin’ the Google Fit app with its new Heart Points that are supported by the American Heart Association! Also, it’s accurate at counting my steps! In a step-count test of 100, the Fit app logged 104 steps. Not bad!

Overall, Google Fit is super simple. Step Count and Heart Points are the two main metrics. There are others, but you’ve got just those two rings to close each day. I set mine as a baseline, the minimum I should do as routine.

Now in my early 40’s, I’ve got to adjust to whatever fitness activity I can. These days, my lower back tells me things I don’t want to hear; I give it Advil to mute it.

So walking is easier than jogging, better on the knees for example. And you can do enough to help prevent heart disease. I already have a disease (celiac); I don’t need another one. I’ll warm up to jogging more once the weather cools down!

Let me take this back to the smartwatch/fitness tracker question.

My phone handily includes two movement recording sensors: GPS and Accelerometer. Together they act like a Pedometer. But there’s one more sensor I would like to have, something that monitors my heart rate!

Step counting, meet Pulse counting.

Since I refuse to strap a seat-belt like thing to my chest, I must opt for a geek friendly smartwatch or…a FitBit.

I won’t rehash that topic – see my other article – but I would like something on my wrist that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Forward March

The best point of all is this: I’m now movin’! And I hope it becomes a habit that sticks throughout each season. It’s the easiest thing to do, just start walking. Pick myself up from the chair and pick up the pace, one foot in front of the other.

After one week, I already feel my metabolism boosted; hunger comes on faster and easier. I feel a little better overall too, well at least sometimes. But I’m encouraged.

Let me encourage you too! Regular exercise, even a little, helps boost your mood and it can help you sleep more soundly at night. 

Lace up your shoes and get movin’!

What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Double Whammy Belt Test

For fitness (and fun), my family takes karate. I rejoined last year after a hiatus and immediately trained for the next belt, a most elusive color for me in martial arts: the Blue belt. One year later, to my surprise, the next belt test is a double-whammy!

As you might imagine, higher belt ranks require greater skills and knowledge. The first several belt levels in our Kyokushin Karate class have only one kata to learn for each (among other things). But starting with the purple belt, there are two katas needed to advance (that’s twice as many!).

So for the past year as a blue belt, I’ve been learning all the requirements for purple belt. With two katas (or “forms”, where you demonstrate many moves and combos in certain patterns) and several other techniques, I’ve had plenty to work on.

My training was a bit sporadic though. I often was grouped with the purple belts who are going for green. So sometimes I got practice towards the green belt requirements. It was a lot all together, and things easily got mixed up in my mind sometimes with similar movements in the katas.

In the past few weeks, we’ve been more focused as a class in preparation for the upcoming belt test. Our sensei observed what we knew and how well we knew it. Then last week, he told us what to work on for the belt test.

When he approached me with the paper(s) listing the required skills, he surprised me. I will be tested for both purple and green belt!!

Say what!?


At first, I thought I would be in for embarrassment, not confident that I was ready for the green belt katas. But as I looked over all the requirements spelled out on the papers for both purple and green, I realized that I already know most of it all. I just need to clarify and sharpen the green belt katas!

So I got to work. And now I’m feeling confident! I plan to go big and jump up two ranks, skipping purple to green!! I’ve got four katas (and more) to prove! Dude. If you’re curious enough, here are just two katas I must know for the test:

Gekisai Dai (for purple)

Gekisai Sho (for green)

And if you wanna dive deep, here ya go: Black Belt Wiki

For reference, here’s our school’s belt rank system:

  • White belt
  • White/Yellow belt
  • Yellow belt
  • Orange belt
  • Blue belt
  • Purple belt
  • Green belt
  • Green belt with one stripe
  • Brown belt
  • Brown belt with one stripe
  • Brown belt with two stripes
  • Black belt…

Besides the techniques I’m practicing, I’m also pushing my body with more exercise. You see, the belt test is a two day affair. Well, two classes. The first day is the physical test. This is when we get beat down, pushed to our limits and beyond. It’s as much mental as it is physical. We work-out with repetitive and tiring basic karate moves in different stances. And mixed in are a ton of calisthenic routines. Basically, we do more than enough moves to make your muscles scream at you for rest.

For this belt test, we were told there would be a new particular work-out: 1,000 punches. I called it a kilopunch!

Lord willing, no one in my family will get the flu or whatever bug is going around now. Because we need to be in tip-top shape for the testing this week.

I’m excited to be jumping to the green belt because, as it turns out, there will be a nice big group of adults all at the green belt level. So training the rest of the year will be better!

After the belt test, my family will go to Sonic to replenish all our spent calories! Also, as a class, there will later be a belt ceremony to celebrate our achievements. We get to do special training too. Last year we did a big board-breaking class. This year we plan to do weapons training!

Well, I gotta end this post and go outside to practice some more karate! Osu!

Do you work-out, exercise…what’s your favorite and what’s most challenging? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Karate Testing Perseverance

Yesterday I passed the first part of my karate belt test. It was very hard at times; my body was getting tired and weak. The extra cardio and strength exercises pushed my body to its limit, causing me to dig deep, push myself, and keep going.

After a lot of workouts, at one point we were doing 100 leg scissors; it was tough! And while doing this, for the first time, my Sensei stepped on my abs and walked across me! And then we kept going.

At the end of 100 scissors, you just want to collapse your head and legs to the floor. But no! You gotta hold it…hold it…still and steady…feel the burn, the shaky muscles…and down!

Thankfully, they allowed us to catch our breath a few times. We even got a quick water break. I needed it; my mouth had become so dry from heavy breathing.

Once the boot-camp like fitness section ended, things got a little easier yet still challenging.

We had to practice all sorts of basic karate kicks, punches, blocks, and stances but in difficult combos. We were weakened and the basic practice was tiring, but I was able to keep up well enough for the rest of the test.

In fact, by this point, I was super warmed up, sweating a ton, but I felt pumped, almost like I got a second wind. I was ready for some more karate action, but we’d really had enough for one night.

Turns out there’s a Japanese name for this type of intense extra training: Shugyo. Basically, it’s found in all warrior types of training. Even military training is similar.

It’s not something you do on a regular basis. You train extra hard just beyond your limits once in a while. It’s good!

Even though it can be grueling, I’m super glad we did it. Facing such a challenge and then succeeding is so rewarding!

You train and work hard, investing much time and sweat, and then it pays off! You feel great and accomplished. Your confidence is boosted.

And since it’s holistic, challenging your mind and spirit as much as your body, you get a whole greater feeling of fulfillment from it.

I get one day of rest before the second part of the test where I’ll have to show my skills. I must perform all the fancy karate moves I’m supposed to know well by now. Kind of like Daniel-san showing Mr. Miyagi “wax on, wax off” and “sand the floor.”

I believe I will pass, Lord willing. And the thought of attaining my blue belt is exciting!

After passing the test, in a few weeks there is a Belt Ceremony. You get to do special karate stuff like breaking boards and practicing with weapons. Usually we spar (fight) also.

Well, I gotta rest and recover.