Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fitness Trackers | Do they work?

Back when I used to work in public accounting, during tax season we would do pedometer challenges to see who could get the most steps in while we were working 11+ hour days. Fun, huh? It basically encouraged us to keep moving so that we didn't mold our butts into our chairs. When I first heard that the goal was to get 10k steps/day I was floored. I couldn't believe it was even possible to get that many steps in -- especially when you had a desk job. A few of my co-workers lived really close to the office and could walk to work. That was a huge advantage for them. One of them would regularly get 20k steps a day -- even while sitting all day at work. I was intrigued!


We tracked our steps by week and after the entire season, we would see how far across the US we could walk if we combined all of our steps. I think we made it from Seattle to the mid-west one year? The point is, you have to make exercise, tracking steps and just being active fun. That's why one of my favorite features of the Fitbit Flex is how you can be social with friends. You can challenge others to daily step wars and see how you rank among your friends.

Before my Fitbit days, I had a Jawbone UP for about a year. It served it's purpose but a few of the big issues I had was that it didn't have a screen (or really anyway to tell you how many steps you'd gotten in) and you had to manually plug it into your phone for results.  When it died suddenly (RIP Jawbone), I decided to get a Fitbit and I am so glad I did. I love how you can tap it to see how much progress you've made and also how it syncs automatically with my phone for real-time results.

I know there are mixed feelings out there about the effectiveness of these trackers, but I know for me, I have found them to be very effective and eye-opening. I cannot ignore those days were I work 12 hours and then only get in about 2,000 steps all day because I didn't take breaks, grab water, walk to the bathroom, just simple things. For me, awareness was the first step. After I became aware, then  I knew I could make changes but if I never even realized that I was only getting in a few thousand steps per day, making those changes would never have crossed my mind. I even park farther away at the grocery store so I can get more steps in.

One of my very favorite features of these trackers is their ability to track your sleep. Now I am not sure how accurate they are, but it's really nice to be able to tell how many hours I got of deep vs light sleep, how long it took me to fall asleep, how many hours I slept for etc.  I think knowledge is power and anytime I can make better decisions based on how informed I am, you bet I am going to try to get as much data and info as I can to make the best decision possible. I feel like I need about 7 hours of sleep per night and I can usually tell without looking at my tracker how many hours I got based on how I feel the next day.

Bottom line: I believe my fitness tracker is helping me reach my goals and I plan to keep using it for several years to come.

Do you have a fitness tracker? If so, tell me about it in the comments section below.

xoxo,


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Wanderlust: Charleston

Since we got back from Seattle at Christmas, we haven't traveled and I was getting the itch! So we decided to visit a few friends in Charleston last weekend for President's Day Weekend. We drove up (down?) on Saturday morning -- Jake did a bit of golfing and I worked from the hotel. Then we met up with friends for dinner and drinks at Rarebit. After dinner, we stopped in Prohibition to grab a few nightcaps. I think I went to bed at midnight which is VERY late for me. #30something 




A few Sunday highlights:

Brunch at Westendorff. MUST TRY! 

Driving around all the 'hoods, mastering the house stalk

Grabbing a lavender latte from Black Tap Coffee. 

Browsing the boutique JAMES.

Charleston is one of my all-time favorite cities -- it's definitely my happy place. And the best part is that it's only a 3 hour drive from Charlotte.  As you can imagine, every time we drive away from Charleston, the only thing I can think about is when can we come back? 

Happy Traveling, 



Sunday, February 14, 2016

What Exactly is the 21 Day Fix?

Hey guys... remember me? Sorry I've been MIA lately. February is the busiest month at work and the blog is the first thing to go. One thing that I committed to on February 1st was starting the 21 Day Fix. I had heard about it from several friends and co-workers and after my best friend told me she lost 12 lbs in 3 weeks, I was like, where exactly do I sign up?


I ordered my kit which includes different colored containers for different food types (think yellow for carbs, red for protein, etc). The kit also comes with daily workout DVD's and a guide to help you determine which foods go in which 'buckets'. The other key to this program is that you get a certain amount of containers each day. Think 3 veggie containers, 2 fruit containers, 4 protein containers, etc. They also want you to eat clean and avoid added sugar. Who knew that store bought tomato sauce had added sugar? 

A few surprising things have happened in these past 2 weeks:
  • My body doesn't crave sugar anymore. 
  • It's actually hard to eat all the food that you are supposed to each day -- it's too much food.
  • I don't get hungry as often as I used to. Before I would have my 10:00 am snack like clockwork but now I actually check in with myself to see if I am even hungry. If not, I drink water.
  • I made my own granola... and it was super easy. 
  • I have made a point to work out every single day for the past 14 days (minus 2 days when I was traveling for work and it was literally impossible with my schedule). 

I am very good at following the rules and having this sort of structure has been really good for me. I took before photos and I am very excited to see what my results will be. Stay tuned to find out! I'll post a review once I am done with the program. 

Another unique part of the program is the Accountability Group and the coaching aspect of it. I am part of an accountability group on Facebook where you post daily to -- think, after you've done your workout, to give and get support from others participating in the program as well and to ask questions. This has been my favorite part of the program BY FAR! 

One final thought - healthy eating is really a lifestyle and no amount of short term dieting will help you if you keep going back to your old habits. So, as they say -- it takes 21 days to form a habit and while I've been pretty good about exercising, I would always let myself splurge anytime we were traveling or going out to dinners. So, I think this program is also teaching me that what KIND of foods you eat matters -- just counting calories does not take into account that you are eating way too many empty calorie carbs and not enough nutritious fruits and veggies. 

Have you tried the 21 Day Fix? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Unconventional Apps + Friday Five

You might remember that I used to be a blackberry addict. Jake converted to an iPhone a long time ago and he would hand me his phone, while he was driving, to respond to a text and I wanted to throw it out the window. I was like I DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE THIS THING! I was terrified of giving up my keyboard. Little did I know that after finally converting in Fall 2012, I would totally fall in love with it. I am seriously obsessed with my phone and it's constantly at my side. 

One of the things I didn't like about my blackberry was there there weren't a lot of apps available and as a result, I couldn't use Instagram or my online banking app, or the Starbucks app. You get the point. Anyway, for Friday Five, I wanted to share 5 of my favorite unconventional apps. So, here goes... 


Run Pee 

I have used this app for about a year now. It tells you when you go to the bathroom (i.e. which scenes it's ok to miss) during a movie. 

Hotel Tonight 

You can book a hotel for the night. It's great for last minute deals and you can actually book up to a week in advance. We used this app and booked a hotel in Asheville for the weekend for less than $100/night.

Open Table 

I love eating out at restaurants. I hate calling to make reservations. Enter this app, which lets you make a reservation at many restaurants. I've earned a $50 dining certification and am on my way to my 2nd one... Woop! 

AnyList

The best way to share your grocery list with anyone. It's real time, so the hubby can see that I crossed something off the list and he can add stuff to the list while I'm at the store. Feels like magic!

Spotify 

Have you heard of Spotify yet? It's $10/mo to get this app on your phone but it's 1,000% worth it. I use this to interface with my car and home stereo. I have not bought an album in probably more than 5 years (except for that darn Taylor Swift 1989 album).  I also have unlimited data grandfathered from AT&T so that helps. 


Do you have any life saving, fun unconventional apps? If so, please share! 


Happy Weekending,

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bath Bomb Collab with Hodgespodges

Today I am super excited to share a collaboration I did with my friend and neighbor, Joey from Hodgespodges. We met last Fall and pretty soon after we started hanging out regularly, she mentioned making DIY bath bombs together.  I fell in love with the idea and before we knew it, we were buying citric acid and a kitchen scale. So -- we are basically bonded for life now. Read Joey's bath bomb post here


Over the years, I've purchased my share of Lush Bath Bombs but for as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to try making my own. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved taking baths. I probably prefer them more than I prefer taking a shower if I don't have to wash my hair.  I am also very big on self care and taking a bath is one of the things I do when I am taking time out of my busy day to take care of me. So -- without further ado, below is the recipe that we used (adapted from here).   

DIY Bath Bombs 

What You'll Need (each portion below makes 2 bath bombs):

  • 4 oz. baking soda
  • 2 oz. cornstarch
  • 2 oz. citric acid
  • 2 oz. epsom salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp essential oil (we used peppermint, lavender and lemongrass).
  • 1 1/4 tsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 drops food coloring 
  • Molds (we used plastic christmas ornaments) 
  • kitchen scale to measure oz. 



Steps:

1. Combine dry ingredients (baking soda, cornstarch, citric acid, and epsom salt) in a large mixing bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Be sure to melt the coconut oil beforehand in the microwave for 10 second intervals. This is what is going to hold your bath bombs together. 




3. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk as you go. 



4. Fill up your molds. Press two molds together and remove one mold. Let dry for 10 minutes before removing the other side of the mold. I think this is where we messed up with ours as the two sides did not stick together the following day after we let them set for 24 hours.


Tip: We used purple food coloring for the lavender, green for peppermint and yellow for lemongrass. 


The finished product: 


I had so much fun making these with Joey! Now, it's not a quick process but it's actually very therapeutic and calming -- it was my first time using essential oils -- but it will definitely not be my last. 

Have you tried to (or do you want to) make bath bombs at home? Please share your thoughts in the comments! 

xoxo,

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