Getting activity data from my Polar Loop?

I currently use a couple devices to track daily activity, one of them is the Polar Loop. I have been searching for a way to extract my activity data so that I can do some analysis of my own, however I have not found a way to easily do this.

Here is what I would like:

  1. step data
  2. calorie expenditure data

The other data associated with activity tracking would be nice, but not necessary. I also don’t need training data at this time.

I had thought that a potential solution would be connecting Apple’s HealthKit, then extracting the activity data from the HealthKit – however that connection doesn’t seem to be very reliable. I’m pretty confident I don’t average 68,268 steps per day. It also doesn’t go back historically as far as I’d like. The other option might be to use the Polar AccessLink api, however I haven’t tried to attempt that option at this point.

The only other option that I see is going to the web interface and manually getting the data for each day. The idea of going back to November 2013 and manually pulling the information doesn’t seem like a wonderful option, especially as you look at the amount of effort the Polar Flow web app requires just to see a single days step count data.

When I think about the type of device I use or want to use, knowing what access I have to my own information is something I consider to be a key factor. I initially started using the Polar Loop in the hope of collecting heart rate data which was unavailable with other activity tracking devices at the time. Polar is also one of the companies that has done heart rate measurement reliably for a long period of time with implementation of a chest strap (I use the H7 Bluetooth strap).  My goal of using the loop for this purpose was never accomplished, as the loop has not been the best experience for collecting exercise heart rate data and it also isn’t that useful trying to collect all day heart rate data.  I actually find that my few attempts of collecting heart rate data throughout the day is better using the H7 strap with the iOS app, but my phone eventually runs out of battery or I’m not around my phone.

In other words, I never quite achieved what I hoped to achieve using it.  However I continued to wear the tracker as my primary watch which allowed me to continue to collect step data. Now, i just want my information – which hasn’t been easy to obtain. As devices evolve, as web platforms improve – I’d love to know that I can transfer my data to new platforms over time. I’ve struggled with this issue regarding exercise data and logs in the past, I’d prefer my activity and health data not be locked up by a single company.

… If anyone has suggestions or hacks they’ve seen to get the Polar Loop activity data, I’d love to hear them.

When I’m 71 years old…

In the year 2050 I will 71 years old and turn 72 towards the end of the year. There’s really no specific reason that I think about the year 2050, however it seems like as good of a year as any to think about what the world will look like.

I love watching television shows like The Walking Dead, Revolution and The 100. I started watching Continuum this evening. All of these shows have some concept of what a world will be like in the future. I probably spend more time than necessary thinking about this, as I find the possibilities endless. Will there be some biological change that makes the world different? The movies and science fiction that sees the world after some epidemic, seems uncomfortable. Will technology advance society to a place of increased connectedness and empathy? Is the climate going to alter the weather to a point that living patterns change to such a degree that we travel across large segments of scorched earth, reminiscent of Mad Max?

What I find interesting is that most of the glimpses into the future provide us an image of survival and scarcity. There may be other visions of the future, but the television shows and movies I watch all point in that direction. I on the other hand, feel like our progress in many areas of human endeavors will actually bring forward a much more exciting world to live in.

Think about life just 100 years ago. There were many people, even in industrialized countries, that didn’t have food to eat or adequate safety. We now live in a time that every person on this planet can have enough food to live comfortably, the only reason we haven’t achieved 100% saturation is due to politics and power.

I envision a positive future where abundance of life’s necessities only grows. In this world, an individual will have more time to seek self actualization. I think this is a positive expectation?

Who knows.. maybe with too much free time, we’ll only make things more messy and contentious, with a ever constant fear of blowing up this rock. In which case, we at least have Elon Musk and others working to get us off sooner rather than later.

Thinking about April 8th, 2015… I feel that it’s time for bed.

Growing up on the edge of The Sandhills.

I have lived in many different locations through the state of Nebraska: Alliance, Imperial, Hastings, Broken Bow, O’Neill and Lincoln – those are the towns I can remember. I think I also lived in North Platte prior to any of my own childhood memories. Three of those places: Alliance, Broken Bow and O’Neill rest at the edges of a highly unique geographic location, called the Sandhills.

When I mention that I grew up in Nebraska, most people I meet have never been there. It truly is fly over country for most people, with potentially the closest they come is a ski trip or family vacation to the Rocky Mountains. If someone has been near the area I grew up, it’s because they took I-80 through the state on their way west. (And even then, I have probably met less than a dozen people that have ever done this in the past 5 years). I-80 doesn’t provide the best experience, for someone passing through the state.

While many people see it as a place to fly over, I look back at it and appreciate the childhood it allowed me to have. I surely didn’t think this way growing up. I felt like I was missing out on so much. However, I realize now that the things I either took fore granted back then or outright disliked about growing up in western and central Nebraska are key to who I am today. Could I live there again, probably not – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of respect for what it gave me.

Here’s a video that a former teacher from Broken Bow posted on Facebook today. Interestingly, it’s posted by a guy who grew up in Nebraska and (according to his twitter profile) lives in southern California.

My West: The Sandhills of Nebraska from Ron Scheer on Vimeo.

Who’s compassion do you need most?

I don’t think that “compassionate” is a way that I would describe myself. I care for others. I want to see others succeed. I believe that I’m fair and non-judgmental – however, I would not self describe myself as an overly compassionate person. I’ve spent a decent amount of time thinking about this after Nikki wrote her post discussing empathy vs. sympathy.

One of the individuals that I have the least compassion for, is myself. The ability to have self-compassion is something that I’ve never been exceptional at.  As I was growing up, it was never well received for someone to have too much confidence and as a result it was not uncommon to see people develop self-degrading humor. I definitely didn’t lack outward expressions of confidence, however I don’t feel I ever really felt confident. I always sought other’s approval.  I think as I get older the expectations to have bigger accomplishments and more success only continue to grow larger. These expectations continually shrink the amount of compassion that did exist.

I’m not even certain I completely understand the concept of self-compassion. I have been wondering if it includes forgiveness, empathy, grace ….  Yesterday, I read a great post from one of my favorite twitter follows on the subject, Emma Seppala, from Stanford’s Center for Compassion & Altruism Research and Education.  Her post was: Self-Compassion Outweighs Self-Esteem for Resilience and Empowerment.

Here is my favorite piece of the blog, describing self-compassion:

It is, in a sense, taking on the attitude that one might have toward a friend who has failed at something. Rather than berating him, judging him, and adding to his despair, we listen with empathy and understanding, encourage him to remember that mistakes are only normal, and validate his emotions without adding fuel to the fire. Self-compassion is the ability to act with ourselves as we would with such a friend.

I certainly don’t have complete thoughts on the subject, just some general observations and moments of awareness that I’ve had recently. The one thing I feel like I’ve concluded is that without having an appropriate amount of self-compassion (I’m not certain I know what amount that is), it is challenging to have stability of happiness. Without self-compassion, there becomes a need to find happiness in materials, ego, achievement and others; none of these offer long term stability. Even if they could, it becomes easy to dismiss it when your struggling within yourself.

My Audible List

In Sept of 2013, I realized that I wasn’t reading quite as much as I’d like. The barrier that I felt was difficult to overcome was – time. To try and “read” more I subscribed to Audible and have been subscribed ever since. I love it. I often find myself listening to books: in the car, at the grocery store, on a run, walking Kelty…

I may not always be listening to a book, as i like to consume many podcasts also – but I’ve found Audible a great way to get the information from books that I want to read, but likely wouldn’t take the time to sit down and read (as evidenced by the number of unread books at my Kindle App at the moment).  I thought I’d share the list of books I’ve listened to, with one or two sentences about each:

List starts with most current:

  1. Predictably Irrational – started just this morning, I’ve heard Dan Ariely a couple times on youtube videos or podcasts and decided to finally listen to this book. Human behavior is my thing.
  2. Scrum, The art of doing twice the work in half the time – I listened to this on the car ride from Chicago last week. The methodology is mostly used and known within the software development world, so it was interesting to get other examples.
  3. The hard things about hard things – The VC world and how it impacts start-ups is of large interest to me. It was interesting to hear the stories that Ben Horowitz had as a entrepreneur prior to becoming a VC.
  4. Fooled by randomness – When I spend a lot of time thinking about using data, understanding patterns, etc. It’s good to have perspective that opens my mind to the idea that maybe, there are events that are not predictible and completely based on randomness.
  5. The patient will see you now – I loved the discussion and thought provoking ideas around the future of health care. Where will I fit into that mix as my mission is to provide preventive care?
  6. Rewire – started.. but didn’t get into it. May try again?
  7. The signal and the noise – It made me start thinking about how data is used, primarily in a Bayesian way. The idea of using probabilities to help guide your decision making and inferences, opposed to tests of significance is not a common practice in most academic literature and this made me think about that.
  8. The innovator’s dilemma – I’ve actually listened to this book twice. It has many lessons about the pitfalls businesses can encounter when innovation is hindered.
  9. The innovators – I love almost everthing I’ve read by Walter Isaacson (Einstein and Steve Job’s bio) and this is not different. I felt like I got a college education on the history of innovation in technology, which made me go listen to The Innovator’s Dilemma again.
  10. The wild truth – I started it… but stopped. The story was a little too depressing and made me feel really shity.
  11. Crucial conversations – listened to a few hours, didn’t finish.
  12. Zero to one – I love to listen to people that have contrarian view points and Peter Thiel is one of those guys. One lesson I took away is that when you are starting a business, look for the opportunity to establish a monopoly.
  13. What I learned losing a million dollars – It was one of Tim Ferriss’ book club suggestions. It was interesting and fun story to listen too, if nothing else because of the knowledge the guy started at the University of Kentucky.
  14. Antifragile – I liked the content of the book and enjoy Nassim Taleb’s points of view, but I stopped listening to this book about half way through. It should really be read and not listened to, so I hope to get to it again someday.
  15. The five dysfunctions of a team – I generally don’t like lessons being taught through stories and fables, but this book was worth the time to listen to. It’s easy to see how many of the dysfunctions can happen and are likely very common.
  16. Bird by bird – I purchased because Jason from This Week in Start-Ups suggested the title. I needed motivation to start writing again and it was enjoyable to hear the authors approach, struggles, etc.
  17. The art of mental training – I was wanting to read more on managing stress, anxiety and taking lessons from sport into other areas of life. The stories and narrative of the book were interesting, but hinted a little too much to the idea of the karate kid.
  18. Think like a freak – I love the freakonomics guys, so this book was a no-brainer. I need to go back and listen again.
  19. Shrinkage – The story of Bryan Bishop going through his experience with brain cancer. A tough topic with enough humor to make it palatable and not overly sad.
  20. The talent code – One of the best books that I’ve listened too on Audible, as the concepts are so widely applicable to my work as a coach. The value of practice is understood – but the right kind of practice is what really matters.
  21. The rise of superman – The ability for extreme sport athletes to achieve Flow is reviewed in this book, along with discussions on the benefits of achieving Flow. The topic of the dark side of Flow is also discussed, which is interesting for me at this point, because what does an athlete do when they can no longer unlock that feeling?
  22. The sports gene – The other book that I’ve enjoy the most, in counter argument to The Talent Code. Are some people born to have advantages in sports… of course they are.
  23. The everything store – I loved the background story about Amazon’s rise to becoming what they are today. I liked the biographical stories and insight about Jeff Bezos even more.
  24. Running Blind – one of the Jack Reacher novels.
  25. Free – Is it possible to have a business that operates on the idea that the price of an item or service is free? That’s the topic of the book and looking at the app and software world today, it feels like everything as the initial price of free.
  26. The energy bus – The Nebraska Athletic Director was said to have handed this to people when he got the job, so I wanted to listen. The Husker AD follows through with the philosphy as he fired Bo Pelini (who could easily be seen as a energy vampire)
  27. Tripwire – a Jack Reacher novel
  28. Die Trying – a Jack Reacher novel
  29. Killing Floor – a Jack Reacher novel

Wow. That is a lot more books than i realized as I’ve never when through them prior to just now. As you can tell, I do give myself permission to stop listening and move on to something else once I start to get bored or find no more value in the book. That is something I find much harder in a book that I’m reading, not sure why?

Any suggestions for something to listen to next?

The negative impact of ambition

On my walk today, I listened to the latest Tim Ferriss podcast which was a reading titled “Lazy: A Manifesto”.  You should go listen to it if you have every said, “I’m so busy” to someone when they ask how you are doing.

I do this all the time. The truth is that my busyness is almost always a function of my own decisions. I agree to things that I don’t likely have extra time to do, but I also like the fact that someone is asking me to do them. What is somewhat ironic is that I actually feel like saying “no” is something I’m also good at. However, when something appeals to my ego – I have a hard time turning it down.

The end result is that I get to do things that are somewhat interesting, that are potentially beneficail for my career or experience; yet I end up lacking freedom and free time. This is a part of the understanding that I’ve had with myself for several years – “work really hard now”, then at some point I’ll have accomplished my biggest goals and can relax for awhile.

This is where ambition can be a two edged sword:  ambition drives me to work hard today, however when I reach goals – I’m prone to just set higher goals. There rarely comes a day where “relax” happens.

A few weeks ago, someone said they appreciate “how hard I work”.  It wasn’t from a co-worker, but from someone from outside my “work life”.  I appeciated the complement, however – thinking about it in retrospect and with the knowledge of having just listened to the “Lazy: A Manifesto” – I hope that is not all I’m known and appreciated for.  I don’t think it is, but it was the first thing they commented on.

In a similar sort of eye opening moment, last week on the way home from Chicago – I listend to the book “Scrum: The art of doing twice the work in half the time”.  A comment from the book was something to the effect that, if you have to work overtime and many hours to get a project done – you are not doing it right.  That’s a paraphrase, but I think I understood the message.

It’s funny how being “busy” and working “60 hours a week” is just accepted as the necessary evil of success… or at least I’ve accepted that notion.

One last point from the podcast today, that I find interesting. It talked about how many fortunate and well-off people are who describe themselves as “busy” – because people who truly do have to work 3 jobs, overnight shifts, etc… they don’t self describe themselves as “busy” they identify with being “tired”.  How true!  Being busy for many, is a function of fulfilling ego and wanting feelings of importance.

Writing is one very therapeutic activity.

When I’m in need of thinking through something that has me either puzzled, confused or feeling down – there have been two very positive activities that I’ve used to effectively do this: running and writing. I have used various other things also, such as meditation, going for walks and listening to music – but running and writing are the two things that have always worked the best.

The form of writing has never been consistent over the years – it has included private journaling, blogging, writing stories, writing poems, just writing random thoughts and even writing a piece with a purpose – they all have been useful. Lately, I have been out of the habit of writing – which isn’t good, as I start to miss it.

I have also not been running, other than short runs at very random moments – as my ankle still isn’t responding well to getting out to run. While doing other workouts is ok, it doesn’t have the same therapeutic benefit for me that running does.

As a desire to be more consistent with writing, in the absence of running – I decided to write a blog post every day in April. And… here it is, almost the end of day two and I’m just getting this post done.

If nothing else, writing out this desire and making it available for the public will hopefully provide some accountability for me to get it done.