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Health on Willem's Blog

Riding with a power meter on your bike

Installing and using the 4iiii Precision Powermeter

Aug. 28, 2019
In this post I describe my experience with installing the 4iiii Precision Powermeter on my road bike.

After I created a minimal road bike, I decided to install a power meter to find out what's it like to measure the power output of my legs. What can you learn from a power meter? Is it difficult to install? Is it worth it? Read along to find out.

Limitations of sleep tracking using a wearable

Comparison with a chest strap HR-monitor

July 16, 2019
Limitations of heart rate analyses during sleep, why you should reconsider tracking your sleep.

Sleep monitoring is a popular feature of many smartwatches and wearables. Devices like Fitbit, Withings, Apple Watch and Biostrap analyse biometrics during your sleep. These wearables are worn on the wrist and use optical sensors to capture your heart rate. I wondered how the optical sensors would compare to a high resolution chest strap HR-monitor.

Optical vs chest strap heart rate monitors

Measuring beats per minute using different sensors

July 15, 2019
Understanding the differences in common HR monitors used in wearables, smartwatches and fitness trackers

With modern wearables, smartwatches and fitness bands, it has become easy and common to measure your heart rate. There are however fundamental differences in sensor types. Some sensors capture the electrical signal from your heart while others use light to analyse the blood flowing through your vessels. If you're interested in measuring heart rate, it's good to understand these differences.

Six months with MCADD

Thoughts and tips on the daily life as parents

June 24, 2019
It's six months since our son was born with MCADD, a good moment to reflect upon the experience of being a parent with some thoughts and tips.

Tomorrow it's six months since our son was born, a good moment to reflect upon the experience of being a parent of a kid with MCADD. This metabolic condition demands special attention on the feeding schedule and preparation for situations when things go different. It's good to share that this has quickly become normal for us, here are some thoughts and tips.

Solo around the Markermeer (211KM)

Tips to prepare, to endure and to enjoy long distance cycling

May 29, 2019
This week I took my bike for a long distance (211)KM ride around the Dutch Markermeer, solo! Read along for practical tips for long distance cycling.

This week I took my bike for a long distance (211KM) ride around the Dutch Markermeer, solo! Unlike participating in an organised event with service, support and company along the way, going solo requires a different preparation, mindset and planning. Read along for some practical tips for long distance cycling.

The best bike computer app: Cyclemeter

Get advanced ride data with a flexible setup

Apr. 30, 2019
Collect advanced bike ride data using your smartphone connected to external Bluetooth sensors and a steer mounted display.

This month I have intensified my training to become fit for this year's Fietselfstedentocht, a 235KM bicycle ride through Friesland. Over the years I have tested different kinds of bike computer setups: from dedicated (and expensive) Garmin Edge bike computers to no data at all. Eventually I came up with a flexible setup to gather advanced ride data using my smartphone, let me explain how this works.

One year on the ultimate commuter bike

6000KM in 12 months with Gates CDN/CDX and Shimano Alfine

Feb. 27, 2019
Answering questions from one of the most popular posts of last year, I am reviewing my commuter bike after one year of extensive use through winter and summer.

A year ago I tried to create the ultimate commuter bike, a modified Sensa Cintura with the Gates CDN/CDX carbon belt drive. I received lots of messages from cyclists and commuters from all over the world. From the Swiss alps, France, Italy, Germany, United States and even "down under", Australia! You all wanted to know: how does the upgraded bike hold up?

Born with MCADD

Medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency

Jan. 29, 2019
Our son was diagnosed with MCADD days after he was born. We experienced a metabolic crisis but were lucky to be just in time!

Just days after our son was born, we ran into trouble when our little man didn't want to eat anymore. Repeated attempts to feed him failed as he appeared to be too tired to drink from his mother. When we measured his body temperature we were shocked, only 33º Celsius! What followed was nothing less than an incredible emotional rollercoaster!

My first weeks as dad

On the challenges and rewards of being a father

Jan. 24, 2019
Last Christmas my wife gave birth of our son. It's a life changing experience to become a parent. Read along for my (biometric) findings and some practical tips.

Last Christmas my wife gave birth to our son, a little boy that would change everything! It's an incredible experience to become a parent, especially if it is your first kid. It introduces a whole new way of living, having to deal with regular feeding, caring and sleepless nights. Read along for my (biometric) findings and some practical tips!

Do amazing things with a focused mind

Taking an ice bath and swimming in the Amstel river

Dec. 6, 2018
Read about my experience during the workshop I got as a birth day present involving the Wim Hof Method.

Just when the temperature was a low 2° Celsius, I jumped in the Amstel river! While it was nearly freezing outside I went for a swim, just moments after I've taken an ice bath! This post is about the incredible birthday present I got, a workshop involving the Wim Hof Method.

Swimming and cycling with Apple Watch

Different activities in the workout app in watchOS

Sep. 27, 2018
This month I tested the newest watchOS while swimming and cycling.

This month Apple launched a new Apple Watch series and released an update to watchOS. The focus of the smartwatch is more and more gearing towards health and fitness. This made me curious, how well does Apple Watch work for different activities?

Enjoy a festival without alcohol

Alcohol-free beer at Rock Werchter

July 10, 2018
This year I didn't drink alcohol during Rock Werchter, leading to interesting observations during the music festival.

Last weekend me and my brother went to Rock Werchter, a multi-day, music festival in Belgium. Over 140 thousand visitors enjoy world famous artists like Pearl Jam, Nick Cave, Artic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher, The Killers and the Queens of the Stone Age. This year I didn't drink alcohol during the festival, leading to some interesting observations...

Listen to your body

Why I stopped using health and fitness sensors

May 17, 2018
Using health data gathered by sensors and wearables I learned to listen to my body. Now I have stopped using bluetooth sensors all together.

A good customer of mine was once a physiotherapist, he told me about people asking him to "feel their muscles" to tell them how they where doing. "Crazy!" he told me: "I can never feel better than the people themselves, if they only would listen to their body". This caused me to question the health and fitness sensors I use.

Outside the comfort zone: amateur acting

Wearing an heart rate monitor during my debut performance

Apr. 18, 2018
This month I strapped myself with sensors during a little experiment outside my comfort zone: I debuted as amateur actor!

This month I made my debut as amateur actor. I am no Hollywood star, nor do I envy to become one. But I do like crazy experiments and operating outside of my comfort zone often leads to new and refreshing insights. I took part in an amateur drama play and - in the name of science and fun - strapped myself with sensors to measure what happened to my body.

Creating the ultimate commuter bike

Riding at 35KM/h with Nexus Alfine 8 and Gates Carbon Drive

Feb. 24, 2018
Creating the ultimate commuter bike by upgrading the Sensa Cintura belt drive bike.

This winter I use a Sensa Cintura bike with a Gates Carbon belt drive as my daily commuter. It's a bike designed to be nice to ride thanks to its sporty lightweight frame. It's also meant to be low on maintenance thanks to the belt drive and Nexus Afline 8 integrated gear hub. After 1800KM in just eight weeks, it was time for some upgrades.

Commuting by bike

One week (240KM) on the VanMoof Electrified S

Dec. 2, 2017
One week on the VanMoof Electrified S E-bike testing it for commuting and comparing it to a normal bike.

For a few years now, I commute to work using a bicycle. I have lost more than 15KG since I stopped using my scooter. This week I tested a VanMoof Electrified S, an electric bike with an industrial, minimal design. Is it any good? How does it compare to a normal bike? Will an electric bike make you lazy? Read along to find out!

Collecting health data with Biostrap

Wearing a clinical-grade photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor for a month

Nov. 15, 2017
Wearing a clinical-grade PPG sensor for a month to collect advanced biometrics from my wrist.

Most wearables (smartwatches, fitness trackers, etc.) use very basic sensors to capture heart rate. Their signal is binary: just counting beats. Biostrap is different, instead of just checking pulses, it captures a high-fidelity PPG waveform. These waveforms are the same kind that doctors use, making me wonder what I could learn from them!

Fietselfstedentocht 2017

Cycling the 235KM bicycle tour through Friesland

June 30, 2017
Cycling the 235KM long Fietselfstedentocht through Friesland

This month I cycled the Fietselfstedentocht, a 235KM tour through Friesland. This tour brings you through various Frisian cities throughout one of the most Northern provinces of the Netherlands. The tour was first organised in 1912 and has grown to become legendary due to its history, challenge and popularity; well worthy of a blog post!

Smartwatches vs Mechanical watches

Why I still wear mechanical and why smartwatches have potential

Apr. 30, 2017
Why I still wear a mechanical watch and why smartwatches have potential.

Technology has come a long way since the first computer. Smartwatches today are very much an achievement of miniaturisation of technology. I recently used an Apple Watch Series 2 to find out if technology has come far enough to replace my mechanical watch, today I share you my findings.

One year of cycling

GPS recording an entire year of bike rides using Garmin and Strava

Dec. 31, 2016
GPS recording an entire year of bike rides using Garmin and Strava.

One year ago I started recording all my bike rides, including commutes, short grocery trips and long Gran Fondos. I equipped my bicycles with Garmin Edge computers that recorded location (GPS), speed, cadence and my heart rate. I covered more than 7683 kilometers during 320 hours of riding. It's time to review all the data and share some photos I took along the ride!

Harvesting boredom to let creativity flourish

using the Punkt MP01 dumb phone

Oct. 1, 2016
What does it mean for my state of mind and creativity if I am no longer be constantly connected to the Internet using a smartphone.

Smartphones are everywhere in the modern society we live in today. Through our 4G and WiFi connections the internet is just one tap away. In fact, it is so close that it feels like a natural extension. But is this wealth of information all good or does it have a downside too? It seems like an interesting experiment to go app-less for a while and solely use a dumb phone.

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Dashboard and charging connector are integrated into the frame
Dashboard and charging connector are integrated into the frame
Nocturnal HRV trend, an indicator how fit you are, has stabilised, too
Nocturnal HRV trend, an indicator how fit you are, has stabilised, too
The crank arm has it's model and length written on it, on my bike that's: FC-5800, 172.5MM
The crank arm has it's model and length written on it, on my bike that's: FC-5800, 172.5MM
The Magnetic Charging dock is a fancy solution to an annoying problem: the constant need to charge the smartwatch
The Magnetic Charging dock is a fancy solution to an annoying problem: the constant need to charge the smartwatch
Along the way you collect stamps from the various Frisian cities. You need a completed card in order to collect the medal (Elfstedenkruisje)
Along the way you collect stamps from the various Frisian cities. You need a completed card in order to collect the medal (Elfstedenkruisje)
Queens of the Stone Age at Rock Werchter 2018
Queens of the Stone Age at Rock Werchter 2018
The Biostrap PPG sensor is about as thick as a watch
The Biostrap PPG sensor is about as thick as a watch
The VanMoof app
The VanMoof app
The Punkt MP01 dumb phone
The Punkt MP01 dumb phone
Comparing data from sleep analyses (two nights with clearly a different pattern)
Comparing data from sleep analyses (two nights with clearly a different pattern)
4iii Precision Power meter installed on my bike
4iii Precision Power meter installed on my bike
Elfstedentocht - where men become heroes
Elfstedentocht - where men become heroes
Heart rate during my debut - with annotations explaining what happened
Heart rate during my debut - with annotations explaining what happened
Data from a good sleep (causing my HRV to recover)
Data from a good sleep (causing my HRV to recover)
Flyer announcing the play
Flyer announcing the play "Zusters in Zaken" by "De Opregte Amateur"
Maybe the ultimate commuter bike?
Maybe the ultimate commuter bike?
With or without a power meter: don't forget to enjoy your ride!
With or without a power meter: don't forget to enjoy your ride!

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