One year walking with the Withings Pulse O2

TL;DR: Walking has become a habit, I can’t figure having a day without doing my 10 000 steps now. 🐾

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It all started the 16th of May 2016, we received an email at work announcing there would be a walking challenge in June. We would have to walk during all this month 8000 steps a day.

In order to record our steps, the company offered us a Withings go and if we want we could take another device and pay the gap with the basic one. So I decided to go with the Pulse one as it allows to track the heart rate, oximetry, and sleep.

My pulse with my current step record established the 14th of May 2017 after the 52km walk “Marche de la bièvre

If we succeed the challenge, FCMS would offer 5 000 € to two associations:

which are associations to help children. So the goal was motivating.

The challenge

The company would be divided into 3 main teams (350 employees). When we started the challenge, I was living at almost 50 meters of the metro, so to walk, I obviously had to avoid it to go to work. It was about 50 minutes (11 metro stations) which was more or less 6 500 steps: almost the goal we had to reach every day. Plus the steps at the office, plus going to lunch and going back to home it would be easy to reach the goal. I ended the 1st week with an average of more than 10 000 steps a day. But it was training as the real challenge would only officially start the 1st of June.

1st week, above the 8000 steps required.

I must say it was really a pleasure, I really enjoyed walking almost 1 hour before going to work. Of course, I had to wake up earlier but not so much because going by metro took me 25 minutes whereas it was 50 minutes walking, which is “only” the double. And walking in Paris is nice (if you forget the pollution of course…) As I had to cross the Seine I could have this kind of view when the weather was nice (it was right before the 2016 flooding starts).

I felt in shape. Moreover, it’s good for the mood to be at the office and say, “Wow it’s cool it’s 9 AM and I have already made 1 hour of activity”, it helps to have the good spirits.

Crossing the Seine and arriving at “Musée du Louvre”.

BUT, as there was a leaderboard every one started to walk more and more to be at the top of it. As the steps were reinitialized each week, there was a “weekly mini-challenge” between the members of our team.

I didn’t win a week so far, so, the week from 20 to 26 June, I decided I would win this one. I changed my goal to be 30 000 steps a day. That would take me some time as it is almost 25 km a day, I had to:

  • Go to work (50 minutes)
  • Walk an hour between 12 AM and 2 PM eating a sandwich
  • Come back from work: (50 minutes)
  • And eventually, walk one hour or more after dinner (or running depending on how I felt) to reach 30 000 steps.
My best week ever.

That was quite an ambitious goal as nobody before in the team made more than 150 000 steps which are already quite good. I tried to stay motivated every day and I made it.

It really felt good to succeed in this mini-challenge. To be honest it was more to see if I could do it during a whole week rather than taking the 1st place of the leaderboard (which I didn’t have by the way). I remember this Sunday, I said to myself:

Wow, I feel so good!

I was in shape and I wasn’t tired, it’s as if I was in a positive spiral, the more steps I did the more I felt in shape, the more I felt motivated.

With this intense “internal competition” our team won the challenge with an average of 9000 steps a day.

Giving the prizes to the associations at the company summer party.

About the pulse

I won’t make a full review of the pulse, to sum-up and some advice:

  • Don’t forget it, it happened to me several times at the beginning, but it is such a habit now it can’t happen anymore.
  • I wear it on the wrist, at the beginning I tried to put it in my wallet but I couldn’t access it. On the belt, it’s not so easy to access either and felt it would be easier to lose. So, the best is to wear it on the wrist, if I want to wear a watch I put it on my right arm. The advantage of wearing it on your wrist is that you don’t have to search for it. And there is nothing more upsetting than not knowing where it is and searching it everywhere in the house, remember it is small!
  • Don’t take it alone in your pocket, it is small and you can easily lose it. I almost lost it in a shop, I was pulling out my wallet and my pulse felt on the floor and didn’t notice. It’s someone behind me who saw it felt, I was lucky this time.
  • I don’t track my sleep, I only did it one week, the conclusion was… that I didn’t sleep enough. And to have 7 hours of effective sleep you must be in the bed at least 8 hours. (at least for me)
  • I take my heart rate and oximetry every morning after taking mi pill for hypertension.
  • I prefer to use Runkeeper to follow my running activities.
  • Both web and smart-phone applications are nice, you have all your data, your friends’ leaderboard…
  • Badges are fun and you are always eager to see what’s the next one to get!

So yes, I am happy with it. It does the job quite well.

Competing with my friends

After the challenge, I talked about the Pulse to a friend and she wanted to try. She used and liked to walk a lot so she bought one and joined my team. (which in fact is not really a “team” because you only see the people you added and vice versa) That was fun because every-day we were motivating each other. As I was training for the half marathon it was quite hard for her to follow just by walking but she beat me several times! One week when she was in Paris with me, we ended our weekly challenge with this:

Done without cheating!

That was just! I won by 4 steps!

Keeping the habit

After the challenge, I didn’t walk that much but tried to keep the habit. So sometimes I went to work walking especially when the weather was nice. But if I look at my statistics I only made about 60 000 steps a week until September where I started the semi-marathon training. (my 1st one)

Walking in the “Jardin des plantes” with my friend.

Having done all these walks and distances helped me be more confident about what I could achieve that’s why I wanted to challenge me on a half-marathon. (that will be part of a different story) During the 3 months of training, I made between 100 000 and 150 000 steps a week.

And now? My habit goal:

My current goal is to walk 10000 steps 👣 every day. I wanted to do it during all 2017, unfortunately I was sick at the end of February, and I couldn’t do it 2 days. Here is what it looks like on Tokeeen:

The habit month detail page on Tokeeen.

I didn’t do it two days and neither the two last days of January. But as of the 3rd of February I did it every day that’s a three and a half month in a row, I want (and I will!) do it until the end of the year. My initial goal was to do it 365 days in a row. That was one of my 2017 challenges.

I moved in February, not very far from the Eiffel Tower, now to go to work I have about 35 minutes (4500 steps) so to do the 10 000 steps I just have to go and come back from work.

Walking in Paris is nice and it makes me feel like I was a tourist because it breaks the “metro-boulot-dodo” (metro-work-sleep) routine. Here are some photos of my typical way from my flat (Invalides 7ème) to work (Opéra 9ème).

Walking down the Saint Dominique street, looking back to see the Eiffel Tower.
Along the “Quais de Seine”
Passing by “Place de la Concorde”
Passing by “Place Vendôme”
Passing by “Place de l’Opéra”
And eventually arriving at work. In the background, you can see the “Basilique du sacré coeur”

That’s about a 40 min walk which is just perfect before starting to work.

One other effect of walking is that the more I walk the more I’m disgusted to take the metro, but sometimes when I am late I have to. And if it is crowded I say:

Why didn’t I woke up earlier ??? Why ??? 😤

Night walk

We made it! Yes!

This year I had another challenge: to do a more than 50 km night walk, this one is called “Marche de la bièvre”. Even it doesn’t seem hard, walking by night (we start at 0 AM) more than 50km in a row is not easy! The first time I tried such a walk I abandoned at km 44 because I had blisters on both feet.

But this time as I was trained it was OK and I could finish even the last 10 km were quite hard. We got lost several times, this is funny now, but wasn’t at the time when we had to go back and walk 2 km more than the planned way! That was almost 11 hours to finish but we eventually had our medals! 🏅

What’s next? New goals:

  • Walk 100 000 steps in a day

My current record is actually 72 000 as I mentioned before, but I would like to reach the 100 000 limit which will not be easy. I was thinking to start at 6 AM doing ten 10 000 steps series, resting a little between each one. I will have to walk almost all the day.

  • Finish the “Versailles — Mantes-la-jolie” walk

This one is the first I tried and had to abandon. It’s 54 km at the end of January, so it’s cold and you are lucky if it doesn’t rain! Here is the photo when I abandoned and took the bus to reach the finish line. Didn’t remove my smile though because I was happy having tried and done my best.

Taking the “Bus de la honte” (bus of shame) to abandon… but I’ll do it next year!

I am very happy to have and to keep this habit. It helps me to stay in shape, reduce my stress and also to stabilize my weight.

This was my first story on medium, I am French so if you can spot grammar errors, typos, whatever (sure there are a lot!)… your feedback is welcome.

Thanks a lot for reading and happy walking! See you. Loïc. 😉

Call for action:

Tokeeen the habit tracker.

French guy trying to be a better person.