Sunday, January 23, 2022

Whoop Learning - Week One

It finally arrived–Whoop 4.0!!

Having completed the CrossFit Level 1 Training Seminar back in September, I received a discount-offer to invest in a Whoop-strap, a fitness-tracking device with way more information than any normal human being needs for committing to their fitness journey. But I was pleased with my risk-lean into the training seminar–which I never thought I would or could do. I was still in the mental space being eager to try new things. So I signed up. Then discovered there was a huge supply-chain issue that meant the strap would take at least 3-4 months to arrive. I considered cancelling, but then decided it was even better as a Christmas present. Which arrived January 14th. Day One then, or Week One, in a blogging series of what I’m learning in this Whoop journey.

The best things take time, and this journey’s pacing is no different. It takes at least a week for the device to begin calibrating to your own systems. And this 7-day period is only the first step in the 30-day calibration toward baseline, whatever that is. So it’s too soon to know much for certain. But it’s also the best time to bring new eyes to the journey’s start, to even get inside the terms and meanings of the categories Whoop uses.

The categories of perception in Whoop include Strain, Recovery, and Sleep. The overview screen shows the current measurements of all of them, as well as a link to your Whoop journal, the hours of sleep the night before, and the current strain accumulated, your recovery percentage, heart rate, and calories burned so far. The bottom of that screen shows the battery-charge of your device and whether it is ‘caught up’ to the current time.

I got interested in this most likely because I got an Apple Watch last year for my birthday. With that, I found myself beginning to pay attention to the minutes of movement, the active calories, the number of calories expended in a day, and “closing the circles” of movement, exercise, and breaks from sedentary-ness. Of course, I set the ‘norms’ insanely low so I could achieve and “succeed” each day. I know what my own psychology requires! 

I hadn’t been much of a ‘tracker’ before, but I began to realize how it helped me become conscious of my own rather sedentary work–computer-oriented, mostly–and the needs of my body to move. I have grown happier and happier in my capacity for movement, the opportunities I now afford myself to move. I simply feel better and better in my own skin, even as I age into my fifties, even as I experience slight discomforts/strains from the amount of movement I enjoy. I’m learning to keep moving, regardless of any strains I might have overly-feared as “wrong” somehow. Having other perspectives on my body’s capacity and movement has really helped counter my over-active psychology and inherited body-fears, in other words.

Enter Whoop. As I get more and more curious about fitness and health, beyond what I have been told my entire life–some by a physician father, some by a maven/intellectualizing husband who presumes he knows about fitness because he’s read studies in the news–I am curious to learn more about my body’s capacity, capacities. I am curious to learn how my mind has limited my physicality, I guess you could say.

The first thing I think will feed this curiosity is the Strain Coach. The algorithms Whoop uses to calculate strain amidst sleep performance and recovery give you a goal each day “for optimal training.” So, today’s Strain Coach recommendation for me says, “Based upon your 55% Recovery, 7.2 to 15.2 Day Strain will balance exertion and recovery for optimal training today.” I like the sense of having a range, a goal, for how to be in my skin today.

I also felt a confidence and assurance yesterday, based upon the device’s advice (for good or ill). Yesterday’s Recovery was 88%, in the green (not yellow of today). I noticed that I went into the Saturday morning workout with a sense of ‘ready to push myself a bit’ inside. And the 30 min AMRAP was just perfect for me. Strain of the morning showed 10.1, and while I was active with a ramble with Brian, the bulk of the day was restful, ending with 11.9 strain. I was weary, needed more water than I usually notice. And I slept hard. I wasn’t afraid of having overdone it, nor of any of the aches/pains I noticed from having pushed myself.

And this morning, I admit I was surprised with the 55% recovery, and what does that mean? The Strain Coach gives the range, so there’s a sense of “I could push myself like yesterday” OR “I could stay in optimal training with a long walk, and the movement around the house I know is coming for this week–cleaning, food prep, etc.” So…my felt sense is for less strain than yesterday, less of a workout than yesterday. Yet a range of movement to aim for, in these new terms. Good balance of "device-advice" and "body-felt-sense." Cool.

Another good input seems to be the Journal prompts in the morning. You can set up your Whoop journal to ask you prompts for behavior categories, including food intake, supplements, sleep matters (Is there a dog or cat in the bed with you? made me laugh), alcohol consumption, work at home, video calls' extent, etc. So each morning this week, I've answered the questions, using the macros tracked to input the data into the Whoop calculations. I'll be curious what I learn over time, but for now, I know it will keep me more conscious about precisely how many days/week I enjoy a drink or two with Brian. That has waxed and waned over the pandemic, increased isolation with Delta and Omicron waves of Covid, and increased Church stress for him, therefore for us both. I've been really enjoying dry-January AND I recognize how our foodie-craft-cocktail explorations have been missed too. I love this about us, and I struggle to keep it as conscious as possible. Whoop journaling will help in this, methinks.

I don’t understand the “calories” category yet, particularly as I’ve been tracking my intake, macros, with the FatSecret app, which I’ve learned to integrate alongside the InBody scans’ measurements–BMR of 1700’s. The numbers differ so far. How do these accountings align, differ, agree? Right now, I wake up with “calories” measured at 500-600. What does that mean? Sleeping, my body burns that many calories? Could be. I dunno yet. It will be interesting to see as the 30-day baseline forms. 

Enough for today. A long bundled walk beckons.

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