My Fitness Journey
I restarted my fitness journey on May 20, 2012. I went into my garage, laid down, and proceeded to do eight crunches. I thought I was going to die. That was my first workout after a Iong hiatus. I had always been in shape growing up. In my early years, I was a skateboarder and competitive martial artist. I participated in TaeKwonDo competitions to include three Jr. Olympic National Championships. In 1992 I joined the US Army, where PT (physical training) was a daily occurrence, and I continued training in martial arts. When I got out in 1999, I started work at Call One, Inc. as a Shipping/Receiving Clerk. I was on my feet all day in this role, and my body was constantly in motion.
In 2000, I applied for a Sales role. This was completely different from my previous position. As a sales rep, I was seated for long periods and rarely did anything physical. To make things worse, I started getting pretty good at helping customers, and my sales began to improve, which helped increase my income. This increase supported eating out multiple times a week, having dessert after every meal, and having coffee with lots of cream and sugar. Not to mention the steady stream of sodas and energy drinks. Nightly, I would sit in my man-cave and play video games, eat chips, and drink beer into the wee hours of the night.
By 2012, at age 39, I had reached a weight of 246lbs (I’m only 5’8”), and worse, my waistline had grown to size 42, and that was tight. Tying my shoes had become a major physical event to the point where I traded shoes with laces for more accessible slip-on shoes. I had had enough and decided to get fit by forty. I started slowly reducing the amount of food I was eating and did some bodyweight exercises daily. After eight weeks in, I started incorporating free weights and added walking on the weekends.
I had always hated running. The first time I went for a walk, I struggled the first quarter-mile and was terrified at the realization I had to walk back the same distance to get home. I remained disciplined. My nutrition improved and my walks got longer.
December 2013, I participated in a 100 Mile Month Challenge with a Facebook fitness group I was a member of. The longer my walks got, the more critical the need to listen to music to keep me motivated and energized. This was when I started the process of testing multiple earbuds and headphones. I tried so many, from corded to wireless Bluetooth models from various brands.
In 2014, I started using the Poly (formerly Plantronics) BackBeat FIT. These became my Bluetooth headphones of choice. They were sweat and waterproof and had a battery life of up to 8 hours. They fit well, were comfortable, and, more importantly, allowed me to hear background noise around me like traffic while running. Yes, my walks had turned into runs. I then established an annual goal of 1,200 miles or 100 miles per month. I logged 1,356 miles in 2014 and 1,301 miles in 2015.
October 2016, I somewhat fell off the wagon. Looking back, my body needed a break. I worked out seven days a week and often twice a day, including logging 100+ miles monthly. For three months (Oct-Dec 2016), I reduced workouts but continued eating like I was still training as intensely as I was. The weight and layers of fat quickly accumulated. I ended up logging 1,138 miles for 2016. In January 2017, I tried readjusting my training and food intake. Admittingly, I struggled and only logged 916.6 miles in 2017. In 2018 I started slow and improved my consistency. I twisted my ankle in April 2018, which slowed my progress. I experienced a devastating loss when my beloved Boxer, running, and workout partner, Loki, passed away unexpectedly on October 10, 2018. I didn’t know how I would move forward. For 2018, I logged 1,065 miles.
Otis joins our family!
2019 started slow. I was depressed and didn’t feel like running or exercising. My wife sensed this and secretly went on the hunt for a new running partner. In March 2019, we traveled to the west coast of Florida to pick up Otis!!!
Otis quickly warmed my heart and injected a new sense of joy and motivation to start working out again. Otis and I began doing everything together. He was allowed into select retail stores, the dry cleaners, and even to my bi-weekly haircuts. He started that first year slowly. Otis was soon walking and running with me as well! What began as a slow year finished strong. I ended up logging 972.5 miles in 2019.
2020 started with a bang, and I logged 133.8 miles that January! I was doing well and then the global pandemic forced our companies to work from home in mid-March. The lack of commute actually helped fuel even more running. February through June I was logging 100+ miles monthly. July 2, I sprained my ankle pretty bad. Enough so that I only logged 25.2 miles that month. I came back strong in August, and by now, my wife had started walking in the morning with me! She, too, started very slow but now regularly walks three to six miles! She also tried a few headphones, including the Powerbeats Pro, Apple AirPods Pro, and currently the Jabra Elite 85t. I was happy to log 1,463 miles for 2020!
This brings us to 2021. My nutrition has not been optimal. You could say I gained the COVID-19 pounds. I need to reduce my overall daily caloric intake, reduce or quit eating junk, and increase my strength training sessions. Fortunately, we’re still working from home, so my wife, Otis, and I have been able to walk together almost daily, and year to date (January 1 – November 7) I have logged 1,215 miles! My goal has changed from being fit by forty to having functional strength and mobility in my fifties and beyond. I turned forty-eight this year, and I have started thinking more about long-term health and physical fitness. Years of bad habits begin to catch up right about now. My wife and I must refocus on our nutrition and increase our workouts. She has signed up for her first virtual half-marathon this month. She went from the couch to her first 5K last year in October. In December 2020, she completed her first virtual 10K, and on September 11, 2021, she completed a 9.11 Mile Memorial Challenge! I am extremely proud of her.
I shared my 100 miles per month goal on LinkedIn and received an overwhelming show of support from my connections and beyond. To include Logitech (Ultimate Ears) and Jabra who sent me a set of earbuds to test. The rest of this blog focuses on my personal opinion and review of the Ultimate Ears UE FITS, Jabra Elite Active 75t and the Poly (formerly Plantronics) BackBeat Fit 2100.
Ultimate Ears UE FITS – MSRP $249
In August of this year, I had an opportunity to test a set of Ultimate Ears UE FITS. I logged 123 miles wearing them. They offer unique True Custom Fit earbud tips via their patented Lightform Technology. Download the UE FITS app before you open the earbuds from their packaging; they are in like a cocoon. It’s not like any other headset or earbuds I’ve ever experienced. This is a wild process that I’ve never experienced before. The earbud tips light up, get warm, and mold to your ear for a perfect fit. In addition to their self-molding tips fitted to your unique earprint, they are sweat-resistant and offer up to 8 hours of battery life and 20 hours with the case. They never fell out of my ears while I was using them, and I was able to customize the function of the tap sensors to mimic what I had grown accustomed to with the BackBeat Fit 2100. You can also check battery life and edit your UE Signature sound via UE FITS app. They sound awesome! Many will appreciate that you can use the UE FITS earbuds at the same time or independently. Wear one or both depending on what you are doing. While I appreciate the tap sensors sometimes, sweat droplets would “tap” them and cause them to perform the function I set. Other than that, the UE FITS performed fantastically. Via the UE FITS app, you can also access the “Take a Selfie” feature, making the earbud tips glow for your photo!
Jabra Elite Active 75t – MSRP $179
In September 2021, I tested the Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds, logging 135.2 miles wearing them. In terms of sound, when compared to the Poly BackBeat Fit 2100 and Ultimate Ears UE FITS, the Jabra Elite Active 75t hands down provided the best audio quality performance when streaming music. Download the Jabra Sound+ App to access the multiple features, functions, and customization available. These surprisingly never fell out during our walks, runs, strength training, or even heavy bag sessions. The Jabra Elite Active 75t have been specifically designed for an active lifestyle. An IP57-rating (IP57 verified to withstand fresh water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.) makes them fully waterproof and sweatproof. They also have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) that helps keep you focused during workouts. A tremendous must-have included is the HearThrough feature which allows you to hear what’s going on around you. This is essential when running on busy public streets and need to listen for oncoming traffic, cyclist, golf carts, and other runners. There are three Sound Modes: Active Noise Cancellation, HearThrough, and ANC Off. You get up to 28 hours (earbud 7.5 hours and charging case 20.5 hours) with default settings and up to 24 hours (earbud 5.5 hours and charging case 18.5 hours) with ANC on. I prefer the tactile buttons the Jabra Elite Active 75t provides vs. touch or tap sensors.
Poly BackBeat Fit 2100
I have been using a version of the Poly BackBeat FIT since 2014. I have logged literally thousands and thousands of miles (Dec 2013 – November 7, 2021, I’ve logged a total of 9,526 miles) using them along with strength training sessions and trips to the grocery store and other places. I have replaced them only three times during that period. The BackBeat Fit 2100 just work, and I was sad to hear that Poly would no longer be manufacturing them. I have always appreciated their Always Aware ear tips that allowed me to hear my surroundings. They were comfortable, IP57-rated durable, sweat-proof, and waterproof, provided up to 7hrs of listen time, and never fell out of my ears. The Poly Backbeat Fit have been with me through multiple stages of my fitness journey. I applaud and appreciate them.
I have been extremely fortunate to have started my journey when I did. I have no idea how healthy I truly am. I haven’t been to a doctor since my post-Army physical back in 1999. What I know is how I feel. And I feel good, good, good! My goals today have nothing to do with my physique. However, it’s often a by-product of putting in work with your nutrition and overall fitness routine. I look towards my fifties, sixties, seventies, and beyond if I happen to be so lucky. I started my journey at age 39 to be fit by forty. At 48, I now focus on functional strength and mobility. I take no supplements or vitamins and do my best to cook all our meals. Daily, my wife has been making green smoothies packed with leafy greens, fruits and vegetables. Feel free to follow me on social media! We’re hoping someday to have grandchildren and be able to play with them.