The Ultimate Guide to the Best Fitness Trackers of 2014

Ultimate Guide to Fitness Trackers 2014

I love my Fitbit Force.

I really do. In fact, I think it’s one of the best fitness trackers out there. But I’m a little biased.

I have found it to be extremely motivating, especially on days when I work out. I always strive to reach a minimum of 5,000 steps during a workout so that I can easily hit 10,000 steps by the end of the day. So on the days I feel like I just don’t want to keep going, or don’t want to do the classes that get me the most steps (and incidently raise my heart rate the most), my Fitbit is there to taunt me by letting me know I’m nowhere near my minimum of 5,000 steps or that I’m only 200 steps away.

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Should You Workout When Your Sick?

Should You Workout When Your Sick

This is a common question among those of us trying to lose weight. When we exercise, obviously our heart rate increases and blood circulates around the body much faster. This means the immune cells, especially the sentinel cells, flow around the body much faster than they normally would, which is one of the reasons exercise improves the immune system. But is it wise to exercise when your immune system is already compromised by sickness?

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Vegan Mayonnaise Recipe

Vegan Mayo Recipe

Most of you may know that I’m a vegan. I started out vegetarian and then went vegan about three years ago. I originally did it for health reasons and now, it’s the morality of the thing. Since becoming vegan, I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of different recipes from various vegan cookbooks and I’m going to be sharing some of my favorites on this blog in the weeks to come. This one is probably my absolute favorite.

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen this picture before:

Vegan Mayo

Vegan Mayo made with cashews

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Fitbit Sleep Tracking and Biphasic Sleep

I’ve been really watching my Fitbit sleep tracking data lately. I’ve been so tired recently, and I’m trying to figure out why. In fact, I’ve been so tired that I’ve had to use every last ounce of my willpower to get myself up and workout and one day last week it wasn’t enough. So I have to figure out why I’m so tired.

Well, I figured it out, I’m not sleeping well at all. According to my Fitbit sleep data, I toss and turn…. a LOT! Greg thought it might be the dog itching herself throughout the night and hitting the bed when she does, making my Fitbit record movement when I’m not the one moving. But I’ve left the dog in the living room to test that theory and sure enough, I still got lots of pink bars on my sleep pattern chart.

During this third week of my fitness program, I’ve been a bit worried about my fatigue, so I watched my sleep pattern even more closely. I took a few naps in hopes that it might help alleviate some of the fatigue I was feeling and that’s when I found something very interesting.

On Thursday last week, I came home with a pounding headache, and consequently I went straight to bed to sleep off the migraine. As always, I set my Fitbit to record my sleep. I woke up about 3.5 hours later, headache much improved, and synced my Fitbit. This is what I saw. (more…)

Fitness Progress Report: Weeks 2 and 3

I was really excited to get started on my fitness plan for week two. I was going to try the Xbox One Kinect Fitness app again, but I don’t think I’m in shape enough ready to get through any of the classes. So I’m going to wait until about six weeks before I try again.

During week two, I planned on adding in some weight training on top of my cardio routine. This is one of the many reasons I love the original Your Shape Fitness Evolved, the weight training routines are more challenging than the ones on the 2012 version. One of my favorite weight workouts is the Nivea Tone Up with Sarah Maxwell. It’s 15 minutes long, and if you haven’t been working out, or you are at all out of shape, it will kick your ass.

I alternated weight training days with cardio days. So Monday I did the Nivea Tone Up along with some cardio boxing classes. Tuesday was all cardio boxing, and Wednesday I did Nivea Tone Up and a couple cardio boxing classes.

Monday, I burned 341 calories, 113 doing the Nivea Tone Up class and 228 with cardio boxing.

Tuesday I burned 478 calories with just cardio boxing. Unfortunately, my Xbox 360 didn’t upload my stats. Convenient I know. But My Fitbit did track everything! Here’s the proof! (more…)

Getting Back to Working Out with Kinect

Up Before the Ass Crack of DawnI finally got back to working out with the Kinect. I last Monday – 02/17/2014, and  I’m so proud of myself!! I even got up before the ass crack of dawn to get in my workout!

But I’m so out of shape!! It make kind of upsets me because I apparently got so depressed that I really let myself go.

But I can’t let that get to me. I have to keep my eye on the prize. I want to see what my body is meant to look like, and to do that I have to workout religiously, like I did the first time.

I tried the Xbox One Kinect and was actually really disappointed, but I’ll save that for another post.

I ended up using the Xbox 360 Kinect and I played my favorite: Your Shape Fitness Evolved (YSFE). On Monday I burned 155 calories (and 31 on the Xbox One). I know it wasn’t much, but I also didn’t want to overdue it… I’m that out of shape, and I don’t want to risk injuring my knees and getting side-lined again. (more…)

Dealing With Emotional Eating

FitspirationI’m an emotional eater. I admit it. I have been since I went to college. I eat when I’m stressed, I eat when I’m happy as a reward, I eat when I’m depressed, I even eat when I’m pissed off.

I gained 59 lbs when I went to college. I weighed 140 when I left home, and I was 199 when I left and got married to my first husband. Things just escalated from there. I was in a marriage that was unhealthy, and I was very unhappy. So I ate to make myself feel better.

I had a car accident in 1999, and ended up with a neck injury that left me with chronic pain and atypical migraines. My doctor at the time put me on Wellbutrin, and I lost about 20lbs because it curbed my appetite. However, I was already over 200lbs. I don’t remember what I weighed before starting the drug, but I think it was about 220lbs. (more…)

Sleep Tracking With The Fitbit Force

I have found that my Fitbit Force is actually quite indispensable. The adjustments it makes to my caloric intake based on my activity for the day makes it easy to stay on target. If I’m not really active, the Fitbit subtracts calories from my allotment for the day. If I’m really active, it adds calories. Because of this, I’ve lost 3 lbs in the 3 weeks I’ve had the Force.

The sleep tracking information, however, is my favorite part of the Fitbit, and it’s extremely useful. For example, I conducted an experiment recently. The Fitbit has shown me that I really only get about 3, maybe 4 hours of real sleep every night, as shown in the image below.

Sleep Tracking 2/12/2014

In the sleep pattern above, the pink spikes are the times I was restless, and the blue area is the time I was actually asleep. As you can see, my sleep efficiency was only 60 percent. On Thursday, my sleep pattern was even more erratic.

Sleep Tracking 2/13/2014

On Friday, I felt extremely worn down even though I actually got more sleep on Thursday night. So Friday night, I decided to try an experiment.

I’ve been trying to get off many of my medications recently, even though I don’t take that many. One of those is the Buspar I take for anxiety. I already know that when I take the Buspar, I wake up much earlier than when I don’t, which is what made me decide to experiment. I took one Buspar and one Robaxin (a muscle relaxant). This is my sleep pattern Friday night.

Sleep Tracking 2/14/2014

As you can clearly see in the sleep pattern above, it’s less erratic, it looks more like there is actually a consistent pattern and my sleep efficiency increased by about 20 percent! I did the same thing on Friday night, and although I slept longer and the pattern looks a bit more erratic, my sleep efficiency went up another 1 percent.

Sleep Tracking 2/15/2014

I’m planning on doing another experiment on my sleep patterns. Since we finally got our new TV, I’m going to start using the Kinect Fitness app on the Xbox One to work out. I’m going to stop taking the Buspar again, and see how working out affects my sleeping pattern. I’m actually quite interested to see how exercise affects my sleep since all the research says that it provides more restful sleep.

So to anyone who is thinking about purchasing a Fitbit Force, or any Fitbit product, I would highly recommend them if not for just the sleep tracking information!

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Overcoming Temptation

On Monday, I made a commitment to eat only a whole foods, plant-based diet. No more cheating with cheese and sour cream (although on occasion I might indulge in Talenti’s vegetarian ice cream).

I decided to start this strict diet last week, and in anticipation of the changes, I created a menu based on foods I found in some of my vegan cookbooks and planned a grocery list for a week’s worth of meals. I wanted to start small, so this month, I’m planning meals weekly instead of for the whole month (plus I have a lot of these weekly meal planner sheets to use!).

My Vegan Menu

 

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2014 New Years Resolutions

This post comes a bit late, but better late than never right?

2013 was not a great year when it comes to my health and fitness. There were a few weeks where I managed to get a bit of motivation and will power together and workout regularly. But I wasn’t able to stay motivated for long, so I couldn’t get into a routine.

In fact, since I started my part time job, I really haven’t had any time to figure out a schedule that will allow me time to homeschool, blog and write for clients, let alone find time to exercise.

But that’s not an excuse.

I have to find the time.

But 2014 isn’t starting out the way I’d planned. Our TV is broken thanks to the cat who needs his nuts snipped, and I got a defective FitBit Force. Thankfully, Fitbit kindly replaced the defective Force, sending me a new one right away.

So, what are my goals for 2014? Actually, they are pretty simple. (more…)