Last Spire Review: Days 3 – 5

I deeply regret to inform you that I will be returning my Spire as it does not serve the purpose that I longed for. Below are the reasons why I am giving up the Spire long before I had planned to:

  1. It only holds 6 hours of memory.
    • This is a problem because most people are at work for 9 hours. Meaning, for  9 hours, they will not be looking at their phones, wondering if their Spire is working.
    • Another disappointing outcome is that the device cannot work without your  Spire being continuously linked to the app. This means that you will not get your notifications when the device is not linked up to the app. Problematic if you don’t carry your phone with your everywhere you go.
  2. The app drains battery life of phone.
    • I had left my Spire on the charger during the night and left the app on the phone. My phone was fully charged before I went to sleep. I woke up to the battery being at 48% without being used all night. I am trying to reduce stress, not add to it. I do not need the added stress of having to be concerned with charging my phone constantly.
  3. Does not have the ability to track everything at once.
    • This limitation I understand but it’s still a limitation. If your Spire is tracking your breathing it will not track your activity (walking). If your spire is tracking your activity, it will not track your breathing. I see this as a flaw because there are times when we are off rushing somewhere and stressed at the same time. I may need a reminder to breathe during this time but the Spire won’t do it.
  4. Does not track your activity well and yet it tracks too well.
    • Let me explain. When I’m walking around, it doesn’t track my steps very well. And yet, when I’m sitting on my couch, my little movements or even my breathing counts as being active, so it doesn’t remind me to stand and stretch after having watched an entire movie.

I was desperately hoping that this device worked but unfortunately it does not do what needs to be done. I still support Spire and their innovations because they are going in the right direction, but I cannot, with good conscience, recommend this to my patients until all the kinks have been worked out.

Spire Review: Day 2

This is day 2 of using the Spire. I forgot to mention in the previous post as to the convenience of charging the Spire. It comes with a wireless charging platform, which also comes with an extra USB port so that you can charge your other devices without taking an extra outlet. Convenient!

12138610_10207939527956225_937965980511166938_o   12094877_10207939528116229_6376429251662989116_o12068542_10207939528956250_5717843065036112681_o

I’m not sure of how long it keeps its charge but the packaging says that it shouldn’t need a charge for about 4 days. The length of battery life is also dependent upon how often you have your Spire notifying you. Currently, I have it notify me every hour as to being sedentary, not taking a deep breath and being tense or stressed out. I also enabled it to track my location so I know where I’m the most stressed.

Back to how it functions.

Well, I already found a problem with the Spire. I purposely decided to watch a movie to see if it would buzz me when I was sedentary for longer than an hour. I watched Gravity, which is 1.5 hours long, for the first time. I know. I’m late in the game to be watching Gravity but that isn’t the point. It is longer than an hour and it didn’t buzz. I’m not particularly proud of this but when I choose to be, I am a champion couch potato, especially when I have a good book. I need a nagging piece of tech to get me off my hiney, and so far, it turns out that the Spire is not that tech.

It did, however, buzz to let me know that I was feeling tense for longer than 4 minutes (video about menstruation can be some serious business). As I am using the Spire for stress management and not fitness, I do not believe that the Spire deserves to be tossed away like yesterday’s sushi just yet. With the helpful reminder, I realized that I was breathing shallowly and I took a deep breath. It is still useful for the purpose that I intended it for.

Also, the Spire is quite comfortable to wear. Just don’t wear it on the waist band of your yoga pants. Unless you have absolutely zero fat around your waist, it bends into your waist crease when you sit and it can’t read your breathing pattern properly. It is best to wear it with a waist band not made of Spandex.

Spire Review: Day 1

If you’ve read my article, “You’re Breathing Incorrectly,” you’ve probably guessed that I believe breathing is essential to one’s health. I tell most of my patients that they need to breathe more often and also teach them how to do so. Unfortunately, something as easy as breathing is not easy to do properly or continuously. My patients breathe well during the treatments because I’m overseeing their breathing but they can’t take me with them to remind them to do so everyday, throughout the day. Conundrum! Then I came across a little article about a device that you wear all day that tells reminds you to breathe called the Spire.

If you’ve ever heard of a Fitbit or Jawbone Up, then you will be familiar with the concept of a wearable tracker. Spire is another wearable tracker designed specifically for managing stress through breathing. When I found out about it, I thought, “Great! This would be really helpful to my patients!” The problem was that I didn’t know how it worked or if it worked the way I wanted it to work. I’m not about to recommend a device without knowing its effectiveness.

So here I am, wearing a Spire on my waistband to test out its effectiveness. I just received it in the mail yesterday. By the way, I have not been sponsored by Spire or have I received this for free.

The packaging, by the way, is beautiful.

12079844_10207939528076228_3199103849436132457_o

As you can see, very simple design and pleasing to look at. The device is quite small and is to be worn either on the waistband or on the bra, if you are a female. The side that looks like a pebble is to be worn against the skin.

12068542_10207939527996226_313445614776352603_o   12109867_10207939528036227_5723126498575550893_o12120050_10207939528916249_4803522169181061554_o

It measures the movement of your chest or your stomach to see the rate of your breathing. An app is to be downloaded to track everything that it measures.

12120015_10207939528796246_3685311362580298382_o

So what exactly does the Spire keep a track of? It keeps track of the duration or what they like to call streaks when you were calm, focused and active. You can also set up the Spire to vibrate or buzz you for different notifications that you set. For instance, you can set it up to let you know if you haven’t taken a deep breath in 60 minutes or have been sedentary for 30 minutes. You can also set goals for yourself, such as wanting to be calm for at least 90 minutes a day or take 10,000 steps a day.

Since I just started using my Spire, I don’t quite know if it is effective. What I do know, so far, is that it is comfortable to wear but you cannot wear it at night. Since I have been writing this article for awhile, it has buzzed to let me know that I’ve been sedentary for too long.

I will wear the Spire for 3 weeks and evaluate its effectiveness based on the rubric below:

  • Effectiveness (does it remind me at times that I told it to, has my stress decreased…)
  • Accuracy
  • Comfort

The Spire can be bought for $149.95 and offers a 30 day money back guarantee. If you would like to know more about the Spire and how they came up with their technology, please go to this link.

You’re Breathing Incorrectly

Breathing is an essential part of being alive. But most of us do not breathe correctly. If you are tired, stressed, and have difficulty falling asleep, you are probably breathing incorrectly.

Take this very moment to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. What part of your body moved the most? If you answered shoulders, you are breathing incorrectly.

When your shoulders move up and down when breathing, that indicates that you are not using your main breathing muscle: the diaphragm. The diaphragm is this big muscle located under your rib cage. This muscle expands and contracts like a balloon when you breathe. And when you use the diaphragm, your stomach is the main moving body part.

Why is this so important, you ask. Well, when you don’t use your main breathing muscle, you are not breathing deep enough to allow for maximum intake of oxygen. When you don’t have enough oxygen, your body does not run as smoothly as it could. For instance, when a person breathes in pure oxygen, they feel a burst of energy and have a sense of euphoria (happiness, giddiness, relaxation). So imagine how energized and relaxed your could be if you only breathed in a bit deeper. You don’t need to buy a tank of pure oxygen to feel re-energized. Just breathe correctly.

And before I teach you all how to breathe correctly, take the time to notice how tense your shoulders are, how tired you feel, and how often you tend to sigh. A big reason your shoulders are tense if because you are using your neck and shoulder muscles to open of the rib cage to breathe rather than the diaphragm. You are tired because you are not getting enough nourishing oxygen into your body. You are sighing because sighing is a reaction to stress and when you sigh, you breathe in deeper and exhale fully.

How to breathe (do this exercise/meditation when you are in bed for the best practice and best quality of sleep):

  • Lie on your back and place a heavy book (like a dictionary) right below your belly button
    • This is so that you can feel how the diaphragm works
    • If you still have difficulty feeling it, try lying on your stomach and take a couple of deep breaths
  • When you breathe, try to keep your shoulders still and expand and contract your stomach
    • You should be able to lift the book up and down
  • It takes a bit of practice to get it right, but you will start to feel the difference
  • Do this for several breaths
  • Once you seem to have a handle on it, get rid of the book and do the following breathing meditation

Simple Breathing Meditation:

  • Breathe in as deeply as you can and then exhale as much air out as you can
    • A deep inhale and exhale is one breath
  • Take 10 deep breaths.
    • If you lose count, start counting back at one
    • If you complete 10, start counting back at one

After doing this for a week, you will notice improved quality of sleep and wake up feeling more energized. You will also start to notice less tightness in your shoulders and neck. The longer you do this, you will start breathing this way without prompt.

Happy breathing,

Graceful Points