A Reply to My Coach: Part I

I was trying to figure out how to post this so that it wouldn’t be too long.  The goal of this post: Reply to an e-mail I received from my DirectLife coach.  The problem is that his e-mail is pretty long, and I know my reply is going to be pretty long, so I think I’m going to split this into two posts, one addressing the issue I’m having with my DirectLife thingamajig not recording my exercise biking, and then, I think, a following post will address my end exercise goals in general, and the limits I’m going to hit with the DirectLife monitor.  So, here we go…

Part I of my coach’s e-mail:

Hi Andy,


I hope you are well. I came across your blog this morning and thought I would check in with you to see how you are. Congratulations on your site by the way, I think it can become a great motivator to achieve your weight goal, and it is very interesting and funny. I read that you liked the program in general and the emails from your coach (thanks! I really appreciate that!) but you mentioned as well that you are very disappointed by the readings you are getting from your biking exercises and were considering to stop participating with DirectLife.


I was very sorry to read that. I understand that it can be disappointing to work out on your bike expecting your activity to be very high but then, when you check, it doesn’t look that spectacular.Please, stay with me on this one and maybe, together, we can get to the bottom of this and make the program work for you.


What you are noticing is that the monitor underestimates your bikingif you compare it with your walking. This happens because the monitor is a triaxial accelerometer, it measures acceleration in three different planes, but it doesn’t pick up on increased muscle tension. With the indication of putting the monitor in your sock, the system can compensate the lack of acceleration of your stationary bike. However, because the device cannot register increased muscle tension, your biking session might be underestimated depending on theresistance that you select on the bike…

My Reply to Part I:

Hi Coach!

I wanted to thank you for your super-detailed e-mail to me about some of the frustration I’m having with my DirectLife monitor, and mention that I think I have found sort of a solution to the monitor not giving the greatest of readings when I’m riding my exercise bike.

Your e-mail had me think a little bit more about exactly what was happening with the monitor while I was walking versus while I was on my exercise bike, so I tried a couple of different methods to get a better reading.  First I tried a couple of different positions for the monitor in my sock, trying it to the side, on the top, etc., and then I tried it in my shoe itself (I didn’t think that would work that great especially since my Nike+ thing doesn’t recognize exercising biking at all).  As I thought about the way the monitor worked that you mentioned in your e-mail, I realized the thing that was really missing was the more, hmm, I guess the best way to put this, violent motion, whether it be “increased muscle tension” as you said, or just the natural “bouncing up and down while walking or jogging” as I saw it. The problem with putting the monitor in my sock, and with the cycling motion, is that there wasn’t any violent motion for the monitor to recognize.

Now, since my exercise bike is a Schwinn Airdyne, I worked on paying attention to all of the motions going on while on the bike, especially since it included both the upper and lower portions. The legs were pretty straightforward, going in a smooth, up and down motion, like, well, riding a bike, and things didn’t really “jiggle” that much to get the monitor to move around on all axis to help it realize I was moving a lot. So I paid attention to my arm movements.  Hmm? This might be something that might work.

At first I took the belt holder for my DirectLife monitor and strapped it around my heart monitor watchband, and although a little better reading, there still wasn’t the “punch” to the motion, and the reading was no better than in my sock. Then I think I found something that would finally work.  I had a Velcro strap I could loosely put around my right wrist, and I put the monitor in the belt holder and attached it to the strap.  This allowed the monitor to bounce around more, as my arms pumped along with the pedaling, and when I synched the monitor it still didn’t register as high as I thought it should, but it was a lot better than when I put the monitor in my sock, and it made me feel better about my exercise bike workout.

Now I now this isn’t the appropriate or recommended placement of the monitor, but for my ultimate goal, which I’ll go into more in Part II of this reply, I think I found something that works, and makes me feel better about my exercise level when using the DirectLife system.

Thanks again for your reply, and later this week I’ll finish up with some explanations of my “work” schedule and why there are long stretches with pretty much no movement, and further analysis of where my upper limit of daily activity will probably end up.

Until next time,


This is my weight loss plan… Get your own!