The idea of being healthy and fit wasn’t something I always entertained. The closest I got to a healthier lifestyle was attending yoga classes religiously around four to five years ago. I had a lot of excuses for stopping though: My schedule didn’t allow it, my friends stopped going, it was too expensive, the studio moved, and there was nothing else nearby.
Finding other fitness activities to do since then has been a chore, mostly for the same excuses listed above. While everyone agrees running is one of the easiest and cheapest exercises you can do just about anywhere, it’s simply not something I enjoyed doing. The turning point for me eight months ago was seeing and feeling physical manifestations of being unfit.
Confession #1: My motivation is not abs, but my weaknesses
My recent attempt at a healthier lifestyle was not due to any desire to look good in a swimsuit, although getting there wouldn’t hurt because I admittedly cringe at old clips of me with a more prominent double chin.
There is no better motivation for me to exercise than my self-defined weaknesses. Whether that’s not being able to load your own carry-on into the overhead bin, running out of breath during an easy hike, getting too tired and sore from walking and carrying a tripod at a tour or the show floor, not being able to focus at the tasks at hand, and not being able to sleep and wake up at normal hours.
Confession #2: I enjoy working out with weights and machines
Through the last few months of experimenting with different exercises, I found that strength training is most enjoyable and important to me, especially in addressing my weaknesses.
My only problem is I’m unable to do most of my routine when traveling, which I do often, unless my hotel has its own gym. For those instances, I resort to exercises that don’t require weights or machines, like tricep dips, planking, and crunches.
Confession #3: I hate running as much as I hate counting calories
There’s no getting around it: I will most likely be one of the first casualties of the zombie apocalypse. I would rather skip my exercise for the day if running outdoors was my only option.
But I started running anyway — indoors that is — on a treadmill in high-intensity intervals. Telling myself to run for 10 to 20 minutes instead of covering two miles is much easier to commit to, what with the limited time I have in a day. There’s no better feeling than doing something out of my comfort zone and knowing I can survive a quick run tells me I can survive anything, eventually.
Confession #4: I don’t really believe in smartwatches, at least not yet
A shiny new thing on your wrist is like a new gym membership; it motivates you at the start, and gives you fake willpower to overcome laziness, mostly because you want to get the most out of the investment you just made. Sometimes you’d even throw in new shoes, a new sports bra, or a fresh pair of cute leggings, just so you’d feel good while working out.
Even for everyday use, I find myself turning off notifications and not using any other function my smartphone can also do on any wearable I get my hands on. I’ve avoided smartwatches ever since the first smartwatch I tried using because of how they look, bad battery life, and not-so-useful functions.
Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to monitoring your health, smartwatches and fitness trackers can be helpful and have improved a lot over the years. But knowing how many calories I’ve burned or steps I’ve taken on a certain day doesn’t mean anything if I didn’t change my habits for the long term. A new piece of tech or clothing can only do so much to motivate me.
Confession #5: I have a fast resting heart rate and that’s not good
From the overwhelming amount of data a smartwatch gives me, I realized that what matters the most is my heart rate. One’s resting heart rate says a lot about one’s overall well-being, and my average resting heart rate says a lot about the current state of my fitness. I live a very sedentary lifestyle — I sit all day, go in front of my computer, Uber to and from work. I rarely get to walk a lot.
For what it’s worth, using a fitness wearable like the Garmin Forerunner 35 to track how much my heart beats in real time has helped. Seeing how unfit I really am with one press of a button, through a number that isn’t my calorie count and seeing that number lower little by little, motivates me to reach new goals.
It’s only been four months since I started consistently adding 10-minute running intervals before any of my workout routines and I already feel better. I climbed the easternmost part of the Great Wall of China two months ago and I didn’t get as easily tired compared to when I went up the Geumnyeonsan Mountain in Busan, South Korea back in October.
Aside from surviving easy hikes and having stronger arms that can carry a bag full of camera gear overhead, one of my fitness goals now is to have a more normal heart rate — that whenever I press that button on any smartwatch, it should say anything between 60 to 80 instead of 100 and above. Even if I don’t enjoy it as much, I’ve learned that running is still one of the best ways for me to get there. Slowly building up my running time, running at a faster pace, and maybe eventually running outdoors will help me achieve a healthier heart.
In the last few months, it’s been reinforced to me that being fit isn’t so much about how you look — having a thigh gap or toned abs doesn’t necessarily equate to good health. A healthy heart, after all, is a happy one. Everything else (abs included) will eventually follow.
Sony’s new XB900N are cheaper noise-canceling headphones with extra bass
A more affordable option
The premium noise-canceling WH-1000XM3 headphones from Sony might be the best in its class, but it’s quite pricey. Surprisingly, the Japanese maker has announced a new pair of noise-canceling headphones that is US$ 100 cheaper.
The new Sony WH-XB900N (be sure to remember that) is a more accessible alternative for those who are in the market of noise-canceling headphones. It’s priced at just US$ 250 and offers similar features to Sony’s flagship model.
Design-wise, it looks a lot like its more premium sibling and that’s probably intentional. They may look the same, but the XB900N is different on the inside. For instance, it has an inferior noise-canceling chip and it lacks the ability to adjust for atmospheric pressure when on an airplane.
On the bright side, the XB900N is great for bass lovers. It might have fewer noise-canceling features, but it has a lot more bass. It’s also equipped with touch panel controls, microphone for Google Assistant or Alexa, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.2.
Sony promises up to 30 hours of playback time with noise-canceling on a single charge, which is not shabby. Speaking of, a 10-minute quick charge will give up to an hour of play time.
The new XB900N is expected to go on sale at the end of June.
OnePlus increased their headphone dongle’s price by more than 50 percent
Bad news for OnePlus 7 Pro users
In today’s topsy-turvy world, the headphone jack is a luxury. Most smartphone makers have dropped the former necessity, prompting a surge in dongle sales. Now, to enjoy music on your smartphone, you’ll need an unwieldy USB-C adapter or an expensive pair of Bluetooth earphones. The economy has drastically shifted.
Recently, OnePlus joined the depressing jack-less train. Last year’s OnePlus 6T notably started the new trend. Likewise, this year’s OnePlus 7 Pro launched without the beloved feature, settling instead for a USB-C slot. As with other companies, OnePlus made the dongle a necessity.
Surprisingly, the new premium flagship does not ship with a free dongle. Unlike with other smartphones, a OnePlus dongle is a separate buy, crimping your wallet even further. Even worse, the OnePlus 6T shipped with one in the box. The lack of a free dongle is a big disappointment for dedicated OnePlus fans.
Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. Spotted on Reddit, OnePlus quietly increased their dongle’s price by more than 50 percent. Previously, the dongle cost a workable US$ 8. Now, according to OnePlus’ official online store, the dongle costs a pricier US$ 12.95.
Of course, the OnePlus 6T’s free dongle offset the cost, anyway. However, it’s a different story for OnePlus 7 Pro users. Besides the flagship’s main price, customers will also shell out an additional fee for audio features.
Notably, the price hike has not applied for other international markets yet. For example, India’s store still sells the dongle for the original INR 390 price tag. If anything, the American price hike likely stems from the recent deterioration of US-China relations.
Unfortunately, OnePlus has not issued any announcements if the hike will also apply for other markets. Regardless, as with other recent news, the customer is bearing most of the geopolitical brunt.
MPow Headphones Hands-On: Are these worth your while?
Little-known brand promises value-for-money products
When people talk about headphones and earphones, the brand MPow isn’t the first one that comes to mind. The company boasts quality audio gadgets at really competitive pricing.
Of course, we have to tell for ourselves if these headsets are really any good. We gave a pair to each of our four guys. After a through hands-on, we asked for their verdict.
MPow H7 [Dan]
I’m unfamiliar with MPow. Admittedly, I Googled about the brand and my particular model. Apparently, the MPow H7 is one of the best-reviewed wireless headphones on Amazon US (and other shopping portals). I slightly expected great things. Indeed, the H7 is good for its price. However, it has a couple of shortcomings.
The good: The H7 sounds better than any headphones I’ve used for US$ 20. It’s a balanced pair of headphones for general listening. Bass is really good for electronic music. Vocals are pretty clear in acoustic hits. It’s comfortable and lightweight. I could wear them for hours without any discomfort. Also, I have no issues with pairing on my laptop or my phone.
The bad: The H7’s light weight makes it feel a bit cheap. It’s not exactly a bad thing; you’ll wear this more than you’ll hold it, after all. Additionally, the H7 looks so generic. That’s perfectly subjective, though.
For its price, the H7 is an easy recommendation for those looking for a pair of comfy, good-quality over-ear wireless headphones. It’s certainly not a looker — at least for me — but it deserves the praises it has received so far.
MPow S10 [Rodneil]
The MPow S10 is positioned as a workout companion. However, my usage proves that it can be more than that.
Still, I used it for a few workout sessions. The IPX7 helps take out the worry of getting sweat all over. The fit around your neck and on your ear was also perfect for me. I love that the buds are magnetic. You can even wear it like a pseudo-necklace when not in use.
Coming off the Galaxy Buds, I can say the audio quality lacks a little bit of texture. It just doesn’t have the crispness that I got from Samsung’s wireless earbuds. Of course, the quality isn’t that bad. For video editing and video calls, the quality is more than adequate.
There were also zero problems pairing. Switching from my phone to my laptop was seamless. It’s pretty versatile for a pair of earphones marketed as a sporting buddy, and at US$ 24.99, I would say it’s a pretty darn good deal.
MPow H5 [MJ]
The MPow H5 was a total treat. It’s comfortable to wear and carry around. For US$ 40 headphones, it comes complete with features you can see in similar yet more expensive products.
Its noise-canceling capabilities actually work against the blabbers and chatters while giving a pleasant, sound experience. It can’t completely block the human voice. Still, I think it’s a good thing as it removes the need to pause your music when people approach you. For clearer communication, you can turn off the noise-cancellation with an easily accessible button.
What I liked the most is its ability to switch Bluetooth connection between devices seamlessly. There are times that I had to switch devices (especially when I run out of battery). It’s helpful to stay connected so I can maintain focus on the task at hand.
MPow EG3 [Kevin]
The EG3 is all about gaming, and then some. It specializes in first-person shooter (FPS) games especially with the 7.1 surround sound. It puts you in the middle of the battlefield. You can tell where each sound is coming from. Together with its decent audio performance, gaming becomes a more immersive experience compared to when you only have ordinary headphones on.
Personally, I look for a specific sound when I play games and a different one when I listen to music. MPow’s Audio Center makes it easy with an equalizer and customizable audio profiles. It also has an array of effects such as environment effects, pitch shifting, and a built-in gooseneck microphone. Speaking of the mic, it has an impressive quality good enough for recording voice overs.
Notably, MPow aims for quality products with competitive pricing. For a pair of lightweight headphones delivering good audio and packing premium features, the EG3 is priced at just US$ 29 — more affordable than most models in its tier. Considered altogether, it’s hard to pass on the EG3.
Four different people, four different devices, one brand. The verdict is pretty unanimous. These MPow headsets aren’t the absolute best in terms of quality. However, in terms of value for your money, these headphones are easy recommendations.
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