Category Archives: Tools

Raffle Time! MIRA Stainless Steel 2 container set

Peeps!

It’s been awhile since I’ve hosted a raffle – and the good folks at MIRA Brands have graciously donated their Stainless Steel 2 Container Set for you to win.

Who’s feeling lucky?

Here are the facts on these great little containers:

* stainless steel

* the lids are non-toxic and free of BPA, phthalates, PVC and lead

* dishwasher safe

Chipotle chicken, anyone?
Chipotle chicken, anyone?

MIRA Brands sent me a set as well. I’ve been using them all week and I can tell you my two favorite features without hesitation:

1. Stainless steel keeps food colder/warmer longer than plastic containers

2. I can load these up with snack-worthy foods, throw them in my handbag, and the lids stay secure. Not once has the lining on my Kate Spade bag been threatened by these containers. ūüôā

(You don’t know how cranky I can get if there are almonds crushed into the lining of a gorgeous bag!)

They go through the dishwasher like a dream (I use the top rack). And this may seem frivolous to some, but I love the look of these containers. I’m not carrying around some cruddy piece of disposable plasticware. They’re cute and stylish.

My fat free greek yogurt dip is my favorite snack to cart around in these containers. The stainless steel keeps the dip nice and cool until I get to my destination (usually work) and one container holds plenty of dip for a batch of my homemade fat free chips.

My favorite tv watching snack: homemade (not fried) chips & fat free yogurt dip
My favorite tv watching snack: homemade (not fried) chips & fat free yogurt dip

They’re also handy for almonds, granola, and just about any snack portion you can think of. I keep one handy for my yogurt dip…and the other? ¬†Well, we all have our bad days, right? The other one stays in my handbag and holds my “emergency stash” when the 7 Dwarfs of the Menstrual Apocalypse are here.

Emergency Chocolate Stash!
Emergency Chocolate Stash!

So who wants a pair of their own?

All you have to do is post a comment here and tell me what you’d use your containers for – and LIKE my Facebook Fan Page. That’s it! The winning name will be picked using random.org.

One entry per person please. ūüôā Winner must reside in the US.

Entries will be accepted from now through 12 noon central time tomorrow, Saturday, April 20, 2013.

MIRA offers varied sizes of these stainless steel containers. This raffle is for a set of 2 snack sized containers.

Good luck everyone!

Me First!

Last year I cancelled my lap band surgery and lost 45 pounds all on my own just through dietary changes – which is totally badass, especially when you consider that I didn’t even incorporate regular exercise into that. I had a major paradigm shift in my outlook on food. My daily regime no longer consists of processed or sugary foods and I can’t tell you the last time I went through a fast food drive-thru for myself. I do still suffer the occasional temptation, but it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you cut the crud from your life. Your taste buds change. Be patient, stick with it, and you’ll see what I mean.

This year is all about making exercise a healthy habit, which is infinitely more challenging for me. I’m walking my first 5K in May. Go me! Some of you are going with me and I’m really looking forward to saying thanks in person for all the support and love I get from my loyal readers – so if you’re going, I’m excited to meet you!

Trying to make exercise a habit takes a lot of my energy because I’m such a whiny butt about it – and I’ve noticed lately that my snacky habits are slipping. No, I’m not throwing $30 worth of Little Debbies in my cart at the grocery store or anything, but if I’m hungry between meals I get a little lazy about what to nibble on. I used to eat balanced snacks consistently – like an apple, a lowfat chocolate milk and a handful of almonds. A good healthy snack keeps your metabolism going strong. I’ve noticed lately that I’m not taking the trouble to snack right anymore. Now it’s more like I grab a tortilla…or another cup of coffee…or even a piece of hubby’s leftover pizza. Yowch.¬†Anything to plug up the “hungry hole” and keep moving. I can see that I’m starting to make less time for myself…and that’s going to bite me in right in the fat pants if I don’t watch it.

This brings me to the latest installation of Big Fat Crafts. (Except this isn’t really a craft since it just involves printing something out, but I’m giving myself permission to get all fancy with the wording.)

I wanted to create something that would remind me of my commitment to myself when I’m at my most vulnerable: standing in front of the open refrigerator and/or pantry…cruising for a snack. So I created these “Me First” labels and smacked them on a couple plastic bins from the discount store. Now when I open the fridge or the pantry, my eyes are drawn straight to a visual reminder of my most important health goal: Me First!

Take THAT, temptation!
Take THAT, temptation!

Whether hubby’s tempting snacks are there or not, when I see that “Me First” sign I’m instantly reminded why I’m doing this. Suddenly I feel like I’m hurting myself if I grab for the Crunch ‘n Munch (and DUH, I am…but this makes it harder to ignore my conscience). It puts things in immediate perspective for me. I made two bins: one for the fridge, and one for the pantry.

So that’s one “danger point” I’ve got resolved. I feel so much better about where I am food-wise, but this was a vulnerable spot that needed to be addressed. And I addressed it. Like a boss.

100 calories of healthy yogurt or cookie dough? It's easy. Me (and my health) FIRST!
100 calories of healthy yogurt or cookie dough? It’s easy. Me (and my health) FIRST!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to make your own “Me First” snack bins, I’ll make it easy for you. You’ll find free printable versions here…and I even made them in different colors in case you don’t like the teal one shown here. (I printed mine on cardstock paper since regular paper gets a little warped from refrigerator moisture.) Printed design is 4 x 6.

What creative solutions have you come up with to control your own vulnerable spots? Share your ideas here.

Click here to download the Me First printable in teal!

Click here to download the Me First printable in green!

Click here to download the Me First printable in royal blue!

Click here to download the Me First printable in red!

Click here to download the Me First printable in pumpkin!

Click here to download the Me First printable in purple!

 

Fitocracy: Too Much, Too Soon

Hey y’all!

As I announced on my Facebook fan page recently, I am going inactive on Fitocracy. ¬†Here’s why…

Although a worthwhile and arguably kick-ass idea, Fitocracy appears to be 90% iron pumping triathlon winning fitness ninjas and 10% fitness newbies. ¬†I may revisit my decision in the future, but after careful consideration and a few experiences that made me shake my head…I’m done for now. ¬†To those of you who followed me there and enthusiastically participated in our group challenges, I wholeheartedly apologize if I have disappointed you. ¬†I love you all dearly and I truly appreciate your support as I go through this process of attaining the healthy lifestyle I’m striving for.

Please allow me to offer the following evidence as I state my case…

Exhibit A: ¬†Naked people. ¬†While impressive, keep your naked ass off my computer – especially if I’m cruising for quests and challenges at work. ¬†People do post naked pictures of their expertly, if not overly sculpted physiques. ¬†I’m just not into that. ¬†At all.

Exhibit B: ¬†Fitocrats hitting on Fitocrats. ¬†Ya know…I’d go to the gym if I wanted to see that. ¬†Save the “Let’s get together for a romantic dinner of Muscle Milk” for someplace where the rest of us don’t have to watch.

Exhibit C: ¬†Speaking in tongues. ¬†You know that feeling when you take your car to the mechanic and they check it out, then walk up to you with what looks like a grease covered apple wedger and say “Your squinky squank’s got malnagging boogle parts in it and they’ve all gotta be replaced”? ¬† You just stand there and blink, wondering what the hell they just said, right? ¬†Check out this actual update that showed up on my feed one day:

This has been driving me crazy all day. I read a t-nation post about avoiding Britany Spears syndrome, thick waist from isolating abs and obliques all day every day. He recommends a female, wanting to lose weight, carb cycle with a (c/p/f) 60/30/10, 10/30/60 split with high fat days are lifting days (ish) and the carb day is a rest day (4 day cycle).¬†I have been doing a lean gains recomp for 6 weeks and have had good results. I want to start a cut but now I’m questioning my macros.¬†

I must have read it 5 times, all the while wondering to myself how many Power Bars a person has to eat to get that jacked up. ¬†I can’t relate. ¬†I don’t want to relate. ¬†I don’t want to live in a world where “Britany Spears Syndrome” is a real affliction…so piss off!

Further, very soon after I became a “Fitocracy Hero” (thanks to all of you joining me there and winning me that extra badge) I was sorry to see several seasoned members posting whining about the fact that so many new people would be joining at the start of the new year…which was made even worse because Dr. Oz had decided to endorse Fitocracy. ¬†There was a lot of snobbery and eye-rolling going on at the prospect of having to deal with new members – something I thought was kind of shitty, for lack of a better term.

I don’t begrudge the Fitocrats their place on the internet and I completely applaud them for doing what they love to do, but I have to be around people I can relate to…and I can’t relate to them. ¬†I’m sorry if you’re disappointed…and I hope you forgive me. ¬†If it helps, I’m mentally wishing each of you to win a million hundred dollars and a lap dance from Hugh Jackman.

I’ll be back by Sunday to tell you all about The Path. ¬†I hope that sounds mysteriously awesome…because it’s supposed to.

Much love…

 

Fitbit: Sleep Tracking

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while are well aware that I suffer from insomnia. ¬†Probably from squeezing so much awesome into all this plus sized cuteness, right? ¬†In fact, I’m so awesome that I have to resort to prescription drugs to catch my z’s – but that’s another habit I hope to kick in 2013. ¬†I think it’s reasonable to expect that once I start consistently shaking my moneymaker I’ll be a lot more tired at night…don’t you?

I’m using one of the coolest tools around to help me hit my 2013 goal of making exercise a consistent habit: ¬†the Fitbit Ultra tracker. ¬†If you’re not up to speed with this little badass bit of technological goodness, click here to read about my first experience with it. ¬†One of the features of the Fitbit Ultra activity tracker is that it monitors your sleep. ¬†I kid you not.

The technological geniuses over at Fitbit have several activity tracking devices to choose from. ¬†Some offer more features than others, some are at a lower price point than others. ¬†I have the Fitbit Ultra, which I recently purchased, but don’t see on their website, so I’ll have to ask them about that. ¬†Stay tuned!! ¬†I encourage you to check out their website for complete info on all the devices they have to offer.

The sleep tracking feature has been really interesting for me to play with – and I would imagine it could be very enlightening to some folks who might unknowingly suffer from sleep apnea and have no idea. It tracks how many times the user wakes up during the night. ¬†I average around 11 times. ¬†I have no idea if that’s normal, especially since I take medication to help me sleep, but I plan on sharing that information with my doctor the next time I see him just to make sure.

Likewise, I can imagine that the sleep tracking feature could be very enlightening for anyone who sleep walks and has no idea. ¬†Like Hot Mess Hubby. ¬†Seriously…he thought he was stumbling into the bathroom one night and peed on a ficus in our bedroom instead. ¬†Try explaining that to the carpet cleaning guy.

To track my sleep, I just slip the Fitbit Ultra into a little slot on the wrist band that came with it. ¬†(Normally during the day I keep Fitbit clipped to my bra.) ¬†When I lurch out of bed the next morning, I log in to my Fitbit online account and enter the time I went to bed and the time I got out of bed. Simple. ¬†Here’s what Fitbit had to say about last night’s sleep:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, it took me an hour and 11 minutes to fall asleep.  This is actually pretty accurate.  I was reading in bed last night.  Fitbit sensed that I was flipping pages on my Kindle (or petting Caesar the crabby tabby when he head-butts said Kindle).  Once I fell asleep, I awoke 8 times.

I don’t track my sleep every night. ¬†Why? ¬†I’m not sure why I should. ¬†I guess I don’t understand the benefits of daily sleep tracking. ¬†Maybe I’ll throw that in the email I send them about the Ultra. ¬†I do find it useful, though, and I’ll definitely publish follow-up posts if I hear back from Fitbit – and when I discuss the 11 average wake-ups with my doctor.

Fitbit provides this answer on their website to the question “Why should I track my sleep?”

“Fitbit’s sleep tracking is based on research conducted by sleep labs.¬†Following body movement during sleep provides a measurement of the quality of rest. Tossing and turning in one’s sleep, which can be detected by Fitbit Trackers, is indicative of restlessness.”

As I motor through 2013 on my way to a healthier, more active lifestyle I hope to ween myself off all sleep medications…and maybe I can put a dent in those wake-ups – although, according to Fitbit, I’m a fairly efficient sleeper. ¬†Obviously, they’re not taking 130 pound half-wit dogs into account.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See, Dyson doesn’t like to be reminded that there are other dogs in the world. I left the tv on in the living room and got the bejesus scared out of me when he started barking like there was a serial killer on the front porch. Maybe Fitbit can come up with a dog collar that wirelessly connects to my Ultra tracker and shouts “No!” if I’m sleeping peacefully and he opens his doggy yap.

Hey, I can dream.

Have you been motivated to grab a Fitbit tracker because of this blog? ¬†I’d love to hear what you have to say about your own experience. ¬†Share your experience here!

 

Fitbit: the first impression

Hey y’all!

As you know, I’ve decided to make exercise a habit in 2013. ¬†2012 was about getting the food demons in check, which I’ve done – so now I’m going after exercise. ¬†Keep in mind, I have the same love for exercise as I do for the Taliban: ¬†less than ZERO. ¬†In many ways, I feel like this is going to be a bigger challenge than my food demons ever were…so I’m gathering all the tools I possible can. ¬†Fitbit is one that I’ve decided to try (click here to read the original post about why I decided on Fitbit).

I’m still getting to know how it works, but so far I really like it.

Mine! All mine!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a quick run down:

SET UP

Set up is pretty easy. ¬†The packaging information gives you four steps to set up your device, including the set up of your free account on Fitbit’s website. ¬†It took less than 15 minutes.

The online process for registering Fitbit is only 4 easy steps.

 

THE DEVICE

I bought the Fitbit Ultra, which is the one that monitors your sleep patterns and stairs climbed. ¬†Normal retail price of this one is about $99, however I had a nice sized gift card thanks to my Best Buy Reward Zone membership…so I didn’t have to pay that much for mine. ¬†Unlike BodyBugg, there no monthly fee to use this device.

The Fitbit Ultra packaging contains the Fitbit device, a belt clip, the usb charging cord and stand, and the wrist band you can use if you want to wear it for sleep monitoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s interesting to me how small the device is. ¬†You can see here that it’s not even as big as a tube of lip balm. The device clamps onto whatever garment you want it to – even without the belt clip. ¬†In my opinion, the device is snug enough on it’s own. Judge for yourself, though!

Smaller than a standard tube of lip balm…nice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACCURACY

After the set up process, I clipped it to my bra and immediately began wondering how it can the different between a step and just random movement. ¬†How accurate is it? ¬†How does it know? ¬†I had to find out in my very non-scientific way, so I did what any non-scientist would do: ¬†I shimmied my boobies like I haven’t shimmied in years, peeps. ¬†I’m fairly certain I achieved some kind of seismic activity. ¬†Then I reached down into my bra and hit the button on Fitbit that tells me how many steps I’ve taken. ¬†0 steps.

Hmm…a good sign. ¬†I couldn’t fake it out with my giant boob dance. ¬†Cool.

(Oh, and I didn’t take pics of the scientific boob shimmy experiment. ¬†You’re welcome.)

WEARING THE FITBIT

I went about my day, mostly unaware that the little thing was clipped to my bra. ¬†You can’t feel it, it doesn’t interfere with anything. ¬†(Boys, you can clip it to your waist band or belt – although, personally, I think y’all should have to wear underwire undies just to keep shit real between the genders, but whatever. ¬†If you think underwire might be uncomfortable, just wuss out and put it on your waist or clip it to the front pocket of your pants. ¬†Wherever you put it, make sure you push it all the way onto your garment and you should be fine…it’s got a pretty good grip. ¬†Read the directions, use your best judgment. ¬†I barely noticed it.

Any time I want to see how many steps I’ve taken, I just push the button on Fitbit and the display shows me the number.

SYNCING FITBIT WITH YOUR ACCOUNT

Every once in a while, I would be back around my laptop and POOF my Fitbit would sync its data with the Fitbit website and my stats would update. ¬†Syncing didn’t happen every single time, but it did happen throughout the day. ¬†The online FAQ states that you should attach Fitbit to the charging cradle if you ever want to force a sync, which I did a few times the first day just because I wanted to see the update. ¬†The nice thing is that you don’t have to force a sync in order for the device to update your online account.

ONLINE ACCOUNT

The online account is free and there is no monthly charge. ¬†Online, you’ll see the details of your activity – depending on which Fitbit device you have. ¬†Here’s a snapshot of just a portion of my online account yesterday:

MOBILE APP

There are mobile apps for iPhone and Android users. ¬†I downloaded the mobile app, thinking it would be handy to use when I’m away from the laptop for extended periods. ¬†I thought that’s what it was for…but Fitbit surprised me again.

There I was, sitting on the couch a few hours before bed time, when my phone vibrates. ¬†It was the Fitbit mobile app telling me “Almost there! You only have 287 more steps to take before hitting your goal today!!”

Seriously…eff’in awesome! ¬†Nudge, nudge, nudge, Dianne…get up off your ass and take 287 more steps please. ¬†And you know what? ¬†I did.

BODYBUG VS FITBIT: MY FIRST IMPRESSION

Fitbit’s price is easier on the wallet. ¬†Fitbit Ultra is $99. ¬†Bodybugg is $119 and $149, depending on which model you get. ¬†Also, Bodybugg doesn’t have a digital display, so if you want a display to see your steps, etc. then it’s another $50 and an extra device to wear (on your wrist…looks like an ugly black sports watch). ¬†Fitbit has a less expensive model for $49 that counts steps, but doesn’t track sleep or stairs climbed.

Syncing is wireless with Fitbit.  My old Bodybug required a cable Рalthough I believe they do have wireless syncing available now.

Unlike my old Bodybug, I can push a button on Fitbit and see how many steps I’ve taken. ¬†My Bodybug had to be synced at the computer before I could see my steps. ¬†As mentioned above, they have a wrist display that you can purchase separately…but Fitbit clips to your bra or your pocket and doesn’t require a wrist display.

There is no monthly fee required in order to sync my information to my account with Fitbit. ¬†Bodybug requires a membership fee. ¬†I do not like recurring charges of any kind and avoid them whenever I can. ¬†I figure the less I spend on crap like that, the more designer handbags I can put in my inventory. ¬†Priorities. ¬†ūüôā

One last thing: ¬†Fitbit is very affectionate. ¬†I picked it up yesterday and it said “SMOOCHES” on the display. ¬†Adorable! ¬†I can always use more smooches. ¬†It probably seems silly to some of you, but think about it this way: ¬†I hate exercise with the fire of a thousand suns…and this little pro-exercise bugger got me to smile and take 287 extra steps. ¬†Before Fitbit, I would have kept on sitting.

Future blog posts will include more detail on sleep tracking and other features – so if you’re thinking of buying one, you might want to stayed tuned for that. ¬†For now, I can say that I’m a very happy girl. ¬†My money was well spent.

 

** I have not been compensated by Fitbit in any way for this blog post – in fact, they don’t even know I exist. ¬†This blog post contains my sincere opinions and experiences with the Fitbit device. ¬†I think it’s important to confirm for you that my ¬†purchase of the Fitbit tracker and my experience is my own…and that my opinion has not be swayed in any way by any kind of compensation from Fitbit. ¬†(And if Fitbit ever happens to read this…you’re welcome for the free advertising. ¬†LOL.)