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Fitbit Flex Review

June 12, 2014

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A few weeks back I posted a photo of my new Fitbit Flex on Instagram. I got a lot of comments asking for my thoughts on the Flex, and now that I’ve had some time to wear it and use it for a few weeks, I feel ready to share my thoughts. I should mention first that my Fitbit Flex was given to me free through a program at work. We logged our fruits and veggies every day for 5 weeks and received a Fitbit at the end, which means a lot of my co-workers are walking around with the same green Flex.

My biggest hang-up with the Flex before receiving it was the appearance. It’s not ugly by any means, but it looks much more sporty than the clothes I usually wear to work. I found that after wearing the Flex for a few days, I quickly got over this issue. Sure, it looks a little sporty but for work and play I don’t mind wearing it at all. Additionally, swapping out band colors is quick and inexpensive and I think when I get around to buying a grey or black band I’ll like it even more. Did you hear that they are planning on doing a collaboration with Tory Burch? I may be the first person buying a gold bangle for my Fitbit!

I don’t wear many bracelets at work because I find they get in the way with typing and working on my computer. The designers did a great job with the Flex because it doesn’t bother me at all throughout the day. It’s amazing how comfortable it is to wear the Flex!

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Prior to getting the Flex I knew that 10,000 steps was the recommended number to get in a day, but I had no idea what 10,000 steps really looked like or if I was getting anywhere close to that number. I’m very active many days at work, so I figured I was doing pretty good, but I didn’t have any data to back that theory up.

My first observation wearing the Flex was how little things add up to big things. When I park at the back of the parking garage, take the stairs a few extra times, go on a short walk with the dogs around the block a few times,  it’s much easier to get to 10,000 steps. Of course, I knew this in theory, but I like having tangible evidence that little things add up. It motivates me throughout the day to take  walk around the building or take a short jog if I’m low on steps for the day.

The sleep function is one of the most interesting features of the Flex. You tap the Flex five times to let it know you’re going to sleep, and again when you wake up. In the meantime, the Flex keeps track of how many times you are awake in the night and how many times you are restless. It gives you a little recap each day on the efficiency of your sleep.

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Ease of Use
This is one of the strongest areas for the Fitbit Flex. Once you set up your Flex you can track your progress on your desktop at (as seen above) or you can track your progress on the mobile app that automatically syncs with your Fitbit via bluetooth. The desktop interface has much more information but I love the mobile app for convenience. Both interfaces allow you to change your goals based on personal preference.

There is also a place to log water intake for the day (a favorite feature of mine!) and your food and calorie intake. Since I already use My Fitness Pal, I linked my apps to streamline the process. The whole system is very easy to use and quick to set up, which I appreciated. It’s certainly not a product where you need to be super techy to use and enjoy.

I really love my Flex! It’s been so much fun to know more about my fitness and activity levels along with my sleep patterns. For the price (a little under $100) I think it’s a great value and I really enjoy using and wearing the Flex.

Do any of you have a Fitbit or something similar? I would love to know if your experiences have been the same! Love it or leave it? 



Eating With and Without Rules

June 5, 2014


I’ve mentioned this before, but Instagram has quickly become my favorite form of social media. I share a lot of food photos on Instagram, and some of those photos include meat now and again. And, as you can probably guess, it means quite a few people have questions about if I’m still a vegetarian or not. The short answer? No.

It’s been quite a while since I talked specifically about my food choices, and truth be told I’ve been on a bit of a food journey over the past few months.

Over Christmas and the entire month of December I decided to give paleo-style eating a try. I heard great things about paleo from a number of people and wanted to see what all the hype was about. As you can imagine, it was a huge shift for me having been a vegetarian for the last 3 years. After about a month of eating paleo, I realized that it wasn’t an eating style that suited me at all. I loved the focus on whole foods, but I really missed my grains and their filling nature.

What really sent me fleeing from paleo was the fact that I actually gained weight during that month and I felt sluggish. I’m not saying this to bash paleo in any way, since I have had friends who love it and thrive eating that way, but for me and my body it wasn’t a good fit. This experiment further emphasized what I’ve always believed: A one-size-fits-all style of eating just doesn’t exist.

After my experiment with paleo I was at a loss as to what was next. Go back to vegetarian? Eat completely without rules and restrictions? While I don’t really like food labels, I did crave some type of structure in my diet so going without any guidelines seemed strange, too.

I decided to go back to eating vegetarian 85-90% of the time and allowing myself meat when my body craved it or it was the healthiest choice available. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in an airport or restaurant and been stuck eating a baked potato or something similar in the name of being a vegetarian when, in reality, getting a grilled chicken breast would have been the more nutritionally-sound choice. It didn’t make sense to me to make an inferior food choice in the name of following a set of self-imposed rules.

The past few months of eating with a more relaxed yet mindful approach have been wonderful! I don’t eat much meat during the week, but occasionally I’ll have a hamburger on the grill or a little shaved turkey with my lunch. As always, the meat is more of an afterthought and the veggies are front and center on the plate. It’s freeing to be able to make the choice to include meat now and again without having to eat it all the time. The more I play around with what I eat, I have realized that all-or-nothing rarely works.

How do you approach your eating style? I’m curious if others of you steer clear of hard and fast food rules, too?


June Food and Fitness Goals + May Goals Recap

June 3, 2014


May Food and Fitness Goals
1. Drink at least 80 oz of water each day
Why didn’t anyone tell me how great drinking water makes you feel?! Actually, people did tell me that drinking water all day makes you feel much better than drinking coffee all day, but I never listened. I’m a convert for life. After my first two cups of coffee, I’ve been switching over to water for the remainder of the day.
2. Lose those last 3 pounds my body has been hanging on to recently.
Done! I’m back to wearing all my favorite items of clothing. It’s amazing how a few extra pounds can make such a difference. It’s not about being “skinny” but about feeling healthy and like my regular self.
3. Exercise 45 minutes 5x a week
I’m not sure if I hit this goal or not since I didn’t really track my exercise each day, but I think I was close. Joe and I have been playing a lot of tennis, which means we can be exercising for 1 1/2 hours on any given night. I think makes up for any of my shorter workouts. I’ve also been upping my running mileage and getting in more runs in the 3 1/2 to 4+ mile range. The plan is to find a half marathon to sign up for later this summer or fall. I’m really missing having something to train for and the feeling of going on a really long weekend run.
4. Make a vitamin and supplement plan and stick to it
For a number of reasons (too lengthy to go into with this post) I have had to re-vamp my vitamin and supplement routine. I bought one of those little plastic pill boxes to keep track of all my vitamins, yet another example of how I’m 80 years old at heart. I’m taking a daily vitamin D, a series of herbal supplements from my acupuncturist, Metanx, fish oil and a baby aspirin daily. I’m also looking to add a daily DHA supplement soon.
5. Log food and water intake in My Fitness Pal each day
I didn’t really succeed in this regard. After a few weeks I lost steam and got a little bored with logging all my food. Now that my body has settled back to my regular weight, I’m less interested in a daily calorie tally.
6. Participate in my friend Robin’s (free!) Pilates Summer Series
I had such a great time participating in the Pilates Summer Series! It’s amazing how doing just 5 to 10 minutes of toning Pilates each day can make a difference in your body. The videos are still online and will remain on Robin’s site, so head over there and browse. I’m planning on continuing to do the videos in the weeks and months to come!

June Food and Fitness Goals
1. Try One New Fitness Class I’m an introvert at heart, although you probably wouldn’t guess so if you met me. Sometimes I shy away from trying new things, like a new fitness class at our gym. My goal is to mix things up by trying at least one new class this month.

2. Drink 80 oz Water Daily
Keeping this one on the list because it’s a new habit and I think I could use a daily reminder to keep it up.

3. Eat More Mindfully/Practice Intuitive Eating
Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the routine of eating, rather than listening to what my body is saying. this month I want to focus on eating more intuitively and base my food choices and the timing of my meals around what my body is saying instead of based around what time it is or what I feel like I should eat.

4. Beat Joe in a Set of Tennis
Joe and I made a list of summer goals, and this topped my list. We’re pretty competitive in tennis and it’s one of the few sports we can play together where I hold my own. I’ve come very close to beating him already this spring/summer. Joe says I haven’t been “big enough to handle the moment!” Ha!

5. Get in 10,000 Steps Per Day
I recently got a FitBit Flex through work and have been having a fun time tracking my steps each day. I’m making a conscious effort to get in at least 10,000 steps each day. On the weekends it’s much easier than during the week, but I’m finding that most days I do get above the 10,000 step mark. It’s nice to have a tangible reminder to take the stairs and walk more throughout the day.

What are your food and fitness goals for the month?



May Food and Fitness Goals

May 7, 2014

Quinoa Salad 2

This month I’m taking part in The May Challenge over at Dani’s blog, Thyme is Honey. I don’t usually sign up for many health or fitness challenges, but I liked that you got to set your own goals for this challenge. Participating in the challenge got me thinking of other goals I have for the month. It seems so much more manageable to set monthly mini goals rather than large goals at the beginning of the year that you forget about a few weeks later.

Here are my goals for the month of May

1. Drink at least 80 oz of water each day
2. Lose those last 3 pounds my body has been hanging on to recently. (Update: Down 1 pound, 2 to go!)
3. Exercise 45 minutes 5x a week
4. Make a vitamin and supplement plan and stick to it
5. Log food and water intake in My Fitness Pal each day (for The May Challenge)
6. Participate in my friend Robin’s (free!) Pilates Summer Series. Robin is a Pilates instructor and did a series on her blog a few months back called the 28 Days of Pilates. It was amazing! The videos are all super short, just 5 to 10 minutes in length, and can be done at home with no special equipment. I’m so excited to participate in her next series. It’s not too late to sign up! You can get registered (once again, for free!) HERE.


As part of The May Challenge, I created an easy lunch salad recipe that can be made at the beginning of the week and packaged into lunch containers for easy meals on the go. This recipe is incredibly quick to put together and really saves my butt when I don’t have anything in the fridge to put in our lunch containers. Head on over to Dani’s website for the recipe!

What are your goals for the month of May? Are you big into participating in online fitness challenges?



Curbing The Caffeine Addiction

October 17, 2013


My love affair with coffee has been well documented on this blog. And it’s not an overstatement to say I love the stuff. But lately, I’ve been doing a little health inventory, searching for ways that I can eat and live healthier and feel even better. I’m already a pretty clean eater, but my caffeine addiction stood out to me as an area where I could make some changes. My typical coffee consumption, if I’m being totally honest, looks a little like this:

5:30 am: The alarm goes off, I brew a pot of coffee as the oatmeal cooks on the stove. I have a cup with a splash of 2% milk while Joe and I eat breakfast together.

6:45 am: I have another cup (this time black) while I get ready for work, doing my makeup and hair while taking sips of coffee along the way. Usually I only drink half of this cup.

9:00 am: I am at work for a while before I make myself a cup of coffee at work, usually in the Keurig or Nespresso machine, and usually served with a little almond milk or 2% milk, whatever I have on hand.

2:00 pm: This time is hit or miss, but usually I’ll make myself a cup of coffee in the afternoon as a little pick-me-up through my day.

8:00 pm: I make a cup of decaf coffee with a piece of dark chocolate for dessert after dinner while relaxing/watching TV/reading.

Just reading that routine made me a little embarrassed. It means that some days, I can consume upwards of 4 cups of regular coffee and a cup of decaf in a single day. It’s no wonder that I’ve been feeling a little sluggish lately and have had a hard time staying asleep at night! I think my body has been telling me something, and I’ve been ignoring it.

Every now and again I put myself through a coffee detox, cutting out caffeine entirely for a week or two. Every time I cut out the coffee it’s incredibly painful, both physically and emotionally. Yes, I cry and get upset, and feel incredibly crabby. I’m more clumsy than usual and find it hard to focus. I read this article about the perils of caffeine withdrawal and can totally relate.

This time, instead of going cold turkey, I’ve been swapping out coffee for other beverages and allowing myself a cup of coffee or an espresso in the early afternoon, around 2 or 3. It’s amazing how great coffee makes me feel when I limit myself to a single cup. I used to think caffeine had no impact on me, but I think I was just consuming too much to notice.

So what have I been drinking instead? Here’s the breakdown:

1. Water!
This is sort of a no-brainer, but I’ve been keeping my water bottle close by throughout the day. It’s been really easy to drink extra water when I’m not constantly guzzling coffee.
2. Herbal Tea
Now that it’s getting colder outside, I need a little something warm to get me going in the morning. I’ve never been much of a tea person, but I do love a cup of mint tea, especially when accompanied by a little bit of steamed milk and stevia. At Starbucks, I’ve been ordering a Grande Refresh Tea (their version of mint) with a little steamed 2% milk. Around Christmas, they also have sugar-free peppermint syrup, which is my weakness.
3. Fresh Juice
When I’m at home and have time to juice, I have been taking full advantage. We still have plenty of apples from our CSA and it’s also a great way to use up leftover produce. My favorite combination lately has been beets and apples. I just love the color!
4. Hot Water + Fresh Lemon Juice
I’ve read a lot about the benefits of hot water and lemon juice. It seems crazy that such a simple combination could be so good for you, but I’m willing to give it a try. I don’t have this every day, but once in a while it’s a nice way to mix things up.
5. Steamed Almond Milk
We have a milk warmer/frother at home, making it super quick and easy to make hot steamed milk. I’ve been dressing it up with a little cinnamon and stevia or a little bit of local honey to keep things interesting. This is the closest I’ve come to finding something that satisfies me the way coffee does.

I have to admit that I feel SO much better without all the coffee. I’m more hydrated, energetic and appreciative of coffee when I do have my cup in the afternoon. And I have been sleeping much more soundly through the night, which is a welcome perk. Better sleep means I don’t need as much caffeine. Funny how that works!

Do any of you have other suggestions of what to substitute for coffee? Although the ideas above are great, I still find myself missing the rich, earthy flavor of coffee in the morning.

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