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Geocaching and the Fitbit-a Perfect Fit.

the fitbit bracelet

cute little thing

My son recently bought me the Fitbit for Mother’s day. I really love it. It works with MyFitnessPal, so I don’t have to learn some new calorie tracking software, and it does work with others, but I don’t use anything else, so I can”t comment on that. What I will tell you is that having a goal always there in front of you makes you more aware of it and eager to go. If it’s 3:00pm, and I see I’m no where close to my goal of 10,000 steps, I’ll be the one volunteering to run errands. If I do log my eating on MyFitnessPal, and I see I’m at or close to my calorie goal, I’ll turn down desert. Just knowing you have to log something, or in the case of the fitbit, it will automatically be logged for you, will change your behavior.

a snapshot of the fitbit screen, showing how many steps and miles

on your phone, you can check how you are doing as the day progresses.

You can track what you are doing on your smart phone, seeing your progress as the day goes on. You can also see it on your computer, which will give you more information.

computer screen snapshot, showing the same information as the phone.

computer screen snapshot, showing the same information as the phone.

I do realize all of this can get a bit obsessive, but if you are having trouble losing weight, or just want to see how things really stack up in your life, this is a great tool.For instance, I always tell people if you want to lose weight, don’t eat out. Well, this confirmed it. Every time I ate out, I went way over my calories for the day, and I have it set for maintainence, so if I was trying to lose weight, it would be hopeless.

Just to warn you though, it is a bit buggy. It can log your sleep, but I found if I don’t hit “log sleep” on my phone, it is wildly inaccurate. It doesn’t always update quickly, and if you don’t have internet, it can’t work with your phone, even though it is bluetooth enabled. Also, I briefly tried their calorie tracking software, and didn’t like it. That could be just a case of familiarity. I’ve used my fitness pal before and like it.

And Geocaching fits in how?

So one of the main measures the Fitbit uses is how many steps you take. Geocaching is treasure hunting using either a gps or your phone to find little objects other people hid. Obviously, you have to walk to find them, and so they fit hand in hand. I spent the weekend Geocaching with a friend of mine who taught me about it, and who is an avid geocacher. I wouldn’t post a blog article about it, except that I tried out the phone software and was extremely impressed. In the past, you had to have a gps, which made it a more exclusive pastime. You had decide ahead of time if you liked it enough to buy a device, and then learn the device at the same time you were learning geocaching, making it the kind of hobby you would only get into if someone mentored you, or if you were really determined. Now with the phone version, every one with a smart phone can do it.¬† I downloaded the free trial version and took another friend out. We just tried it on some new local caches. She had my gps, and I had the phone. I would say they worked equally as well.

I wanted to show you what the screen shots looked like, but then I realized there was no way to show you without publishing my location blatently! While I’m fond of many of you, that is oversharing on a major scale.

New Hobby

Ok, so anyone who knows me knows that I need a new hobby like most women need more shoes. In spite of that, my neighbor took me hiking on Saturday, and she taught me about geocaching, and about the tags the orienteering clubs put on trees to find. These two things turn any walk in the woods into a treasure hunt. I followed up by taking my husband out the next day to find some more.

This isn’t the first time I had heard of geocaching. We had signed up on the website back in 2007, and had never done anything about it. For the uninitiated, or “muggles”, and the website calls them, geocaching¬† is where you hide a waterproof container with whatever you want, usually a notebook, some trinkets or coordinates to another site, in it. You then post those coordinates (latitude and longitude) on the website, and other people try to find them. I don’t know if this was played prior to gps’s but they are the standard tool today. When you find a posted cache, you then log it online, as well as sign the notebook if there is one.¬† Obviously, cache’s have to be in public access places, and there are rules, like don’t disturb grave stones if you hide it in a cemetery.

The orienteering clubs have organized events, where people compete to find all the tags in a race. However, they leave them up all year, so if you have one of their maps, you can go whenever you want at your own pace. Their maps are marked with clues like “distinct tree”, being difficult for being open to interpretation.

Both (games?, hobbies?) teach you map reading and navigation skills. They both get you out of doors, walking and hiking. If you are not a big fan of a walk in the woods, there are urban and suburban geocaches, and you still have to do a bit of walking to find them. Even if you are dead on the coordinates, the cache is still hidden, and some cachers take fiendish delight in making them hard to find.

In any case, it got us out this weekend, we practiced our winter survival skills. Never leave home in the winter without supplies! We tested our cold weather gear and had fun.

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