|Two apps and a gadget that have improved my life recently
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
- Serial Reader: This app takes books that are out of copyright and chops them up into bite-sized chunks called “issues” (10-15 minutes reading time). It delivers one issue of your selected work to you every 24 hours. It’s been a great help to me in getting me to sit down and read full-length novels again. H/t to fred_mouse for bringing it to my attention. Since installing the app a few months ago, I have re-read most of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries (3-5 issues each), Northanger Abbey (30 issues), The Secret Garden (37 issues), The Importance of Being Earnest (9 issues) and Anne of the Island (32 issues). I’m in the middle of Moonfleet (32 issues), which is new to me, and also Anne’s House of Dreams (33 issues), which is a childhood favourite. I do most of my reading on the train or in the bath, and keeping up with 2-3 serials at once is perfect for those activities.
- Fitbit: The bloke got me a Fitbit Charge for UK Mother’s Day (back in March). Just to be clear that this was not foisted upon me, let me assure you all that I asked for it in advance. I had a Fitbit for a while after Keiki was born and it helped me lose all my baby weight. The band broke about nine months into its life, and I failed to follow that up. This was stupid as it had been purchased from John Lewis who would probably have replaced it without a fuss, but never mind, my brain was pretty broken due to sleep deprivation all the way through Keiki’s breastfeeding (20 months). Since the previous Fitbit broke, my weight has crept up slowly by about 5 kg/11 lbs, not helped by the fact that I spent almost all of 2016 ill with repeated colds.
I’ve managed to keep well since January of this year, and in March I thought, it’s time to start a regular exercise programme again. At the start of May, I moved my target from 10,000 up to 12,000 steps/day and am hitting or exceeding it 6 days a week. I also started running again. I’m going twice a week right now, hoping to increase to three times a week, but it’s pretty difficult to carve out the time. I’ve lost a bit of the weight, though I’m still about 3 kg (6 lbs) over where I like to be. I have to keep reminding myself that losing weight healthily is a slow process, and 2 kg over 7 weeks is a good rate of progress.
It’s also helping me to prioritise sleeping. On a normal work day I get 6-6.5 hours of sleep, but I’m trying to accept that 1-2 times per week, I need to go to bed when the kids do and get 8-9 hours. It makes me feel much, much better.
I like that it tracks my resting heart rate. Since I started wearing the Fitbit and using it to help me prioritise my health, my resting heart rate has dropped by 8 bpm.
The Fitbit has been redesigned so that it’s easy to swap bands, so hopefully I can stick with it for longer.
- Spotify: The bloke upgraded his Spotify account to the Family version so I could use and we could put it on the tablet for the kids. I don’t think I’m overstating matters when I say that this, combined with dropping a little cash on a decent pair of earbuds, has improved in my mental health. Over the past few years, I’d gotten out of the habit of listening to new music. Much as I love joking about being an aging rivethead with musical tastes stuck in 1994-2003 (which is still true of my preferences in EBM), I have missed the kick of finding a new song I really liked and listening it to death, seat-dancing to it on the train and memorising the lyrics. Amongst the things I’m currently obsessing over are the latest Goldfrapp album, MØ and the Suicide Squad soundtrack.
Also, it was wonderful to be able to (almost) immediately download Ukrainian electro-folk band ONUKA’s entire oeuvre on the app in the middle of watching Eurovision. Learning to love Eurovision after moving to the UK is a whole entry in itself, but suffice to say it is now an annual ritual, involving cooking the food of the host country (Ukrainian flatbread and beetroot salad, thank you, the bloke!), drinking silly cocktails and shouting a lot in disagreement at the judging (Azerbaijan was robbed).
In conclusion: Spotify! Brilliant! Yeah, yeah, I know I’m a decade late to the party. Whatevs. I still love my MP3 library, even if most of it is pre-2004.
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