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The incredible shrinking writer updates his progress

By Jim Bray
April 19, 2012

The Thin Man Returns…

Well, not yet; hardly! But I've been trying a pair of person-paring regimens to see if I can look a little less like a walrus without giving up my rather sedentary lifestyle.

The first system, MyTrak's The Biggest Loser (geez, how to make one feel great, eh?) Slimcoach, is a little doohickey you wear on your waist, kind of like a new age pedometer, and it tracks the steps you take and lets you know via an illuminated ring how close you're getting to fulfilling your daily ordeal – er, quota – of actually getting up off the chair or couch for a while and doing something.

The Slimcoach interfaces with an online component – via USB – where you can monitor your progress, your diet and your goals, as well as joining an online community of other fatties-to-soon-not-be and taking advantage of the collective knowledge collected there.

I'm augmenting the MyTrak system with the FitDesk, a neat exercise bike with a big, flat desk-like platform built onto its handlebars that lets you work, surf, play games or whatever while you're riding virtually across the country. I've been riding at least 10 miles a day, weekdays, in front of a 50 inch plasma TV and with my iPad on the desk.

It's the most tolerable way I've seen to get some exercise: turn on the TV and the iPad, turn off the brain, hop on the FitDesk bike and pedal – usually for just shy of an hour.

At first, the MyTrak system didn't recognize my pedaling, so I wasn't getting credit for it when I synchronized the thing with the online database. So I emailed MyTrak and someone phoned me back within an hour or so. Very impressive service! They said I needed the Polar WearLink + transmitter, a gadget you strap around your chest which sends its data to the Slimcoach wirelessly.

The MyFit folk also supplied me with a Polar WearLink + to try, which was awfully nice of them, and while I still don't get credit for as many miles as the bike tells me I've ridden, it's better than it was. I do get credit for heart activity, though, and the system credits me with more steps than it did without the WearLink +.

MyTrak SlimCoachThe strap has sensors you wet under the tap before putting it on, which means I have to ride the FitDesk with no shirt on now – and the cats run away in fright instead of hanging around like they did before the WearLink + arrived, wondering as only cats can what on Earth I'm doing.

It's a darn good thing I only do this when I'm alone in the house or my wife might also run away in horror!

I've adjusted the FitDesk's seat a few times now, and think I've found a height that works best. And though I found the seat very uncomfortable when I first perched my ponderous posterior on it, I'm either growing used to it or my bum is changing shape to accommodate the seat.

That howling from the mechanism that I mentioned in an earlier report has come back a couple of times, but it has gone away quickly each time so far. The bike's normal operation is whisper quiet and doesn't require me to turn the TV sound up to drown it out.

Oh, and I've not only lost four pounds so far but, not to split hares, the Slimcoach has upped my "lifestyle status" from "turtle" to "rabbit," which is presumably a good thing.

Time to celebrate with some beer!

Copyright 2012 Jim Bray

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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