Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

Saving Lives with Apple Watch

“I participated in the Heart Study too. Like Perlow, I forgot about it for long stretches. I’m fortunate that I didn’t receive the sort of alert Perlow did, but in September, Stanford sent me a notification that my participation in the study was ending. It turns out that over the course of 188 days, Stanford collected 1,743 heart measurements from me. Multiply that by the thousands of people in the study, and the potential the Apple Watch has for medical research is remarkable, while at the same time helping individuals like Perlow one at a time.”

How the Stanford Heart Study App Saved Jason Perlow via MacStories

I too participated in the Stanford Heart Study via the Apple Watch (my stats above). Males in my family have a history of Heart Disease and Afib, so I was nervous but eager to see if this seemingly innocuous contribution to science using my watch would catch anything. I’ve also been trying hard to “get in shape” given that I’ve just turned 40. I’ve lost 24 pounds since May and continue to try to live healthier with food and drink choices.

I was sort of relieved the day I got a notification that the study had ended. There had been no updates to contact Stanford during the study. Evidently if the Watch app detected anything that was suspicious of Afib, you were patched through to a Stanford Cardiologist via FaceTime. While that’s an amazing technological experience, I didn’t want to participate in doing so for this situation.

So, it’s amazing to read the testimony above by someone who did have the experience of catching a very deadly condition early simply because they wore an Apple Watch. The device is certainly saving my life by the daily motivation to get healthy and stay that way, and I see a bright future where conditions will be caught early by devices such as these.




Apple Watch and My Health

I’ve owned a couple of Apple Watches in the past and always appreciated the design and constant alerts. But after a while, I would look at the Watch on my bedside charger in the morning and think “Do I need to wear you today? Nah.”

So, I’ve been skeptical about the Apple Watch and thought of it as little more than a constant buzzer to keep you tuned in to the latest Trump tweets or emails from Staples. But all that changed recently.

I’m turning 40 this year, and I realize it’s cliche and pretentious to write such things on the internet being a privileged white male who has a relatively comfortable life… but, I wanted to hit 40 in stride and in good shape rather than having a George W. Bush hangover-inspired epiphany after an all-nighter. As a result, I’ve dabbled in diets and moderate exercise and even keeping of track of my steps with Fitbits and an Aria Wifi scale and using MyFitnessPal on my phone(s) over the last year or so. None of those stuck. I’m fickle and it takes a lot for anyone or anything to make their way into my life as a steady constant.

I picked up an Apple Watch Series 3 back in March on a whim (don’t @ me… I acknowledge my privilege as I’ve said and these things are tools I use in my career) not thinking much would come of it. However, Merianna had been saying good things about hers and I was intrigued by the cellular communication since it meant I could take calls, listen to music (with AirPods), and have a number of functionalities without having to carry my phone everywhere. Little did I know it would be those damned rings, not the cell connection, that would win me over.

About a month ago, I really started taking Apple’s Activity app on the Watch and iPhone seriously. I looked at the calendar and realized I only had a few months left to go in my 30’s and I needed to make the most of them. It started innocently enough with occasional jogs around the living room at night to close the Exercise Ring or parking at the far end of the lot on yet another trip to the grocery store or hardware store to get more action on my Move Ring. Then I realized the Stand Ring was actually helping me be more productive as I tend to go down deep rabbit holes with a client site or marketing strategy and I can completely overspend my time budget without noticing it. The Stand Ring has become a sort of egg-timer of “getting things done” as silly as that may sound. Little by little, the rings have crept into the Congress of voices that fill my head and speak very loudly and authoritatively throughout the day and drown out the “but I don’t wanna go for a jog or do another P90x workout!” detractors.

It’s really been something of a revolution in my head.

I’ve always been a sporadic eater and frequently skip breakfast. Merianna has been an amazing partner with her choice of meals and prep work to keep me honest with my food and drink as well as putting up with my late night exercise sessions (potty training a 2.5-year-old and running your own company will severely limit your time to work out during the day, I’ve found but I’m working on that as well). My next goal is to turn those late night sessions into early morning ones.

I would go into a deep dive of which apps I use, but I’ve included a screenshot here at the top of the article and Frederico Viticci has done a much better job outlining his similar experience than I ever could. You should go read this in all of its entirety:

I suppose it’s only natural that a renewed commitment to getting back in shape eventually led me to completely reevaluate the role of the Apple Watch in my life. After just a few months of daily commitment, I’m now at the point where I get irritated if I don’t dedicate at least 30 minutes of my morning to working out. I’m constantly keeping an eye on my rings to make sure I hit all three goals every day, and I’m always thinking of new ways to push for harder workouts and mix them up with different exercises.

Source: Second Life: Rethinking Myself Through Exercise, Mindfulness, and Gratitude – MacStories

I’ll report back in a few months to see how things have progressed. I’m down 10 lbs within a month already just by a few lifestyle changes. I know that pace won’t continue, but my body is giving me positive feedback already with my endurance and mind/body relationship.