Category Archives: Reviews
I wrote previously about using a standing desk and my medical reasons for doing so, mostly the fact that I had daily pain in my lower back that was exacerbated by sitting for long periods. After seeing a variety of doctors and specialists, there was no injury or structural issue causing the pain. It was what it was, so I accepted the pain and lived with it.
But for years, as an avid Howard Stern listener, I’ve heard Howard talk about how he overcame back pain by seeing a New York doctor, John Sarno, MD. Howard talked about how Dr. Sarno helped him understand the mind-body connection for his back pain that ultimately led him to pain-free living with no medical intervention.
So I ordered Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Dr. Sarno in November of 2008. I read a bit of the book when I bought it but I couldn’t get into it so I stopped after a dozen pages.
And then last week, while traveling for business, I decided to give the book another shot. After reading a couple of chapters and following the advice in the book, I am no longer experiencing regular back pain. There have been some random moments of pain in the last week, but I quickly apply the advice in the book and the pain goes away.
Dr. Sarno makes the point in the book that the book is no replacement for seeing a doctor so I’ll make the point, too. But, if like me, you’ve been through the full gamut of doctors and been told that there is nothing really wrong with you and you are still experiencing pain, this book may give you a way to deal with the pain which, for me, made the pain go away.
So how does it work? I won’t try to explain the entire concept since I wouldn’t do it justice, but the doctor’s research tells him that the pain is a physical expression of repressed anger and anxiety that your mind blocks to protect you. The book offers advice on how to confront the pain, acknowledge the source, and deal with the repressed anger and anxiety so you can live without pain.
Sound crazy? It may be, but it worked for me with an almost immediate benefit. And if you’re dealing with back pain, I hope it works for you, too!
Thanks, Howard and Dr. Sarno!
Disclosure: I work for Microsoft Corporation, a Ford Supplier and partner in the Sync software in Ford vehicles. The work I do for Microsoft is unrelated to the Ford relationship. As a Ford Supplier, we receive a discount on the vehicles though I did not use that program for my 2011 Explorer. The opinions and views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of my employer.
UPDATE: I had my Explorer updated with the latest software in August and the latency issues I experienced with the touch screen have gone away!
In January, I bought the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer XLT. It’s a complete redesign of the Explorer and it’s very similar to the GMC Acadia that I had for the last three years.
The Acadia was a great car but I only had it for a lease so when the time to turn it in was approaching, I considered the getting a new Acadia but the new Explorer caught my eye, specifically the new design and all of the tech features you get for less money than an equivalent Acadia vehicle with less tech. You can see the similarities between the two SUVs side by side in this picture.
The cool tech features start with the displays on either side of the speedometer. You can easily customize the left display with trip, fuel economy, tachometer, and other displays, depending on your preference. I like to display the distance to empty. On the right side, you can choose from entertainment, navigation, climate, or phone settings. I like the navigation display since it shows a little speed limit sign with the speed limit for the road you’re on at the time, if it has the info. Pretty handy!
Most of the tech features are in the center console on the touchscreen. On the home screen, there are shortcuts to the popular features from each of the four main functions – phone, navigation, entertainment, and climate. You can easily turn on the heated seats or jump into navigation using the MyFord Touch software.
I use my cell phone a lot more while driving since it’s easy to hit the voice command button and say “Call Michael Moore at home” and have it dial home with no hands. and because the microphone is just above the driver, the sound quality for me and the other side is pretty good, according to my wife and others I’ve spoken with. It’s so much safer, too! The Sync software downloads the contacts from my Windows Phone 7 device that I’ve paired using Bluetooth so you can use the voice commands with no issue.
I’m really enjoying the entertainment features. I’ve been a Sirius radio subscriber since Howard Stern first announced he was going to satellite radio more than six years ago and Sirius is nicely featured as one of the entertainment sources.
I’ve also plugged in my Microsoft Zune HD. For my Zune, I have the Zune Pass subscription that allows me to download whatever I want from the millions of songs in the catalog for a $15 monthly subscription. So at this point, I have over 4,000 songs on my Zune. I barely used my Zune in my Acadia but I use it almost daily in my Explorer. It connects to one of the two USB ports in the little compartment in the dash. The Sync software indexes the music so I can easily call up songs, artists, or albums using voice commands like “Play Artist Train”…. very nice!
For anyone into the tech features, I think you’ll be excited about what Ford is doing. There are some little quirks at times with responsiveness but overall the experience is very good. I would certainly recommend that you check it out if you want lots of tech features for a very reasonable cost.
Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way by BodyMedia. I paid full price for the product and ongoing subscription service.
Since April of 2010, I’ve been wearing the BodyMedia FIT Armband Advantage, a product more commonly known as the BodyBugg (the 24-Hour Fitness brand name) as seen on the Biggest Loser television show.
I bought the product to better understand how much I burn so I could better plan a diet to support my strength training and weight loss goals.
It’s basically a sensor you strap to your left tricep using an included armband as you can see in the picture here.
On the product’s website, they explain that the sensor and associated website help you monitor:
- Total Calories Burned
- Total Steps Taken
- Total Time Spent In Physical Activity
- Sleep Duration and Efficiency
Using the Sensor
To use the sensor, you wear it all the time, even while sleeping, and only take it off for the shower since it’s not waterproof. And then every couple of days, you use the included cable to connect the sensor to your computer to download the data and charge it’s rechargeable battery.
Uploading Your Data
Uploading your data is easy. When you setup the sensor initially, you install their software on your computer and setup a user account for the website. There is a monthly fee for the website but you get the first three months free and there was a discount because I signed up for a year’s service ($6.95/month).
Using the Website
The website is terrific. As you can see in the screen shot, the left column shows my goals, all of which are customizable at anytime. In the right column, it shows my actual performance for the day. Since I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill for a bit, I did well that day.
You can expand any or all sections of the data to show you detailed performance throughout the day. That’s been really helpful for me since I can see the spikes in calorie burn, recall what I did at the time of day, and understand how well I’m doing in my workouts or everyday actions like working in the office and what each activity contributes to my daily burn.
You can see in this screenshot that the sensor monitors your steps by hour. How many steps should you take in a day? Opinions vary but 10,000 steps has become commonly accepted as a good, active number for each day. For me, that translates into around five miles of walking a day.
As mentioned earlier, you should wear the sensor to sleep too since it provides feedback on your amount of sleep and the quality of your sleep. Not feeling rested when you wake in the morning? The monitor will tell you how long you actually slept versus just laying down and how many times you woke during the night. It’s not as detailed as a sleep study (which I’ve had when I was diagnosed with sleep apnea) but it will give you a good sense of whether or not you’re getting enough sleep.
There are other features on the site like a Food Logging tool. I don’t log my food at this point. I have in the past using Calorie Count on About.com. I’ve also used the Food Logging tool on the BodyMedia website. If you use this feature, which they’ve greatly improved in the last year, it will plug your total calorie amount into the calculations on your daily activity page so you know what your real caloric deficit is each day. Since I don’t log my food, I use an estimated number of calories consumed each day.
Measuring each day is helpful but I think taking a longer look at what you’re doing helps guide your decisions. Are you active enough? Are you walking enough? Do you get enough sleep? There is a 28-day view shown here that helps you look at your performance over time and I think that’s the right time period to consider as you continuously evaluate your health.
What have I learned in the last ten months?
- I probably didn’t eat enough in my first 9 months of training since I thought I only burned about 2,200 calories a day so I tried to eat only 1,600 – 1,700 to lose weight. I likely could have built more muscle as I trained if I fed my workouts since I was closer to 3,000 calories burned most days.
- I need to walk more. I’m only averaging around 3,500 steps during the last month. I need to spend more time on the treadmill.
- I’m sleeping well. I wish I had used the sensor before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and started CPAP so I could see the difference in what the sensor reports. At this point, I get a solid 8 hours a night, occasionally a little less, but usually right on which is what my body needs to heal from my workouts and keep my body healthy and fresh.
The sensor is a constant reminder that I’m focused on my health. After the first day or so you forget that you’re wearing it most of the time, but in the moments that I feel the armband there, I’m reminded why I wear it and what I’m doing for my health. It’s a good feeling. It was also a good feeling recently when I ordered a new, larger armband. The medium armband that comes with the sensor became too small thanks to the arm workouts I’ve been doing. It was getting a bit like a blood pressure cuff so I went to the next size up. So it will be fun for me to see how much I need to keep letting out the strap as I keep working at the gym.
You can buy the product on the BodyMedia website or from online retailers like Amazon.com for about $200 plus the website subscription. For me, it’s been a great investment in my health since I have some great information to use in my planning. People focus so much on what’s going in (food/drink) but they completely guess about what you’re burning which is a huge miss! This product takes the guess work out of it. I would recommend this product to anyone focused on their health whether you are at your goal weight or not.
Please feel free to ask questions if there’s anything I haven’t covered.