Friday, July 26, 2013

Five for Friday {July 26th}

1.  I've signed up for my first Sprint Triathlon!  I wanted to do one that was nearby and smaller so I decided on the Naperville Sprint Triathlon.  I am really excited (and a little nervous) about the race.   I've done a couple of brick workouts which have gone pretty well so I feel much better about the race than I did before.  Cycling is definitely my weakest sport, and the one I've worked on the least, so I know that part will be a challenge for me.  Otherwise I think I'm ready - the race is next weekend!
2. My work schedule includes some late nights and sometimes early mornings to follow and I have been looking for a natural caffeine boost for those mornings I feel especially tired.  I don't drink soda anymore and do not like coffee so I've been on the search for some kind of boost.  Jillian Michaels mentioned EBOOST on her podcast and I finally got to try it about a month ago when I went home for a short visit since my mom had some I could try.  EBOOST is full of vitamins, minerals, and super nutrients that gives you a natural energy boost.  They come in energy shots or powders you can mix into your water.  There are three flavors, but the Pink Lemonade powder is my favorite, followed by the Orange  (I didn't like the Pomegranate one at all.)   I have been drinking it before my early long runs on the weekend and sometimes in the afternoon for a pick me up.  I notice a definite boost in my energy levels.  I love that it is only 10 calories and all natural with no funky chemical junk in it.  

3.  Since it's summer and regular TV is on hiatus I usually spend end up binge watching shows I missed or some old favorites.  This summer has been no exception.  I'm sure I've mentioned that I'm a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and had the urge to watch the series again so I pulled out my DVDs and did just that.  I've only ever seen a few episodes of the Buffy spin off Angel and when I discovered it was on Amazon Prime I decided to watch that too.  I'm currently in the middle of that now.  Next is the second half of the past season of Mad Men and then probably season three of Downton Abbey.  I fully admit to being a TV junkie. 

4.  Disclosure: About a month ago I was contacted by Mark Bar asking if I wanted to sample and review their product.  I was given one of each of the four bars they make to try.  As always, all opinions are my own.
Mark Bars are a pre-workout, post-workout, or just everyday snack made with 100% natural ingredients   They are made with real food like quinoa, gluten-free oats, blueberries, peanut butter, almonds, dates, and honey.   They are a Chicago based company and were created by Mark Beier an account turned personal trainer.  Before the email I had seen them at the Goddess and the Grocer (a local deli) and was very excited to try them out.  The simple ingredients and yummy flavors caught my attention.  The four flavors are Blueberry Almond, Chocolate Cherry Almond, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Honey Almond.  I truly liked all the bars, but my favorite was the Chocolate Cherry Almond.  The bars are flavorful and had the perfect chewy bar texture.  They reminded me of homemade granola bars.  I had them as my prerun fuel and thought they were great!  They are in a few stores in the Midwest, but you can also order them online if you want to try them.  This month you can get 10% off the Blueberry Bar with the code BBMONTH.  

5.  Two Sundays ago the #runChi Fleet Feet team got together to man the Hydration Stations along the Lakefront Path in Chicago.  Besides having 20 beautiful miles of path along Lake Michigan we also have the wonderful people at Fleet Feet Chicago to provide Gatorade and Water at three different parts of the trail during the summer months for everyone out there walking, running, roller blading, or biking.  The stations open up around 6am so it was an early start to my Sunday.  It was still dark when I rode my bike over to North Avenue Beach at 5:30am.  I did get to see the sunrise over the lake which was pretty (and lots of drunk people heading home from their night out).  
via fellow #runChi teammate Joanna
We had about four or five people manning each station.  Fleet Feet supplies everything we just had to set things up with help from one of their team.  We were out there until about 9:30am.  I loved volunteering and chatting with runners about what they were training for and wishing them luck on upcoming races.  It was also fun to talk with some of my fellow #runChi teammates.  I know I take advantage of those aid stations on my long runs, so it was nice to volunteer some of my time for others doing the same thing.

If you are local and interested in volunteering at one of the Hydration Stations shoot an email over to Fleet Feet at ffinfo @ fleetfeetchicago (dot) com.  The stations are every Saturday and Sunday through October 6th so there is still time to volunteer!

Any tips for my first sprint triathlon?  Do you have a favorite TV show you could watch over and over?  Do you prefer to binge watch a series or wait for episodes week by week?  What is one of your favorite pre workout snacks or drinks?  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

UP by Jawbone Review

Disclosure: I was provided the UP by Jawbone to borrow, return, and review by Verizon Wireless.  As always, opinions are all my own.  

A couple months ago I was given the opportunity to test the UP by Jawbone.  I couldn't pass on such a great opportunity so said yes and got to use the UP band for a month.  
So what is the UP band?  Essentially it is a fitness tracking device that you simply wear on your wrist throughout the day.  It tracks your steps, distance, calories, and sleep.
I have already been using a similar fitness device, the Core Armband from Body Media to track my fitness and calories since December.  I really love my Body Media (which I purchased myself) so I was interested in how another product might compare.

Let's start with the things I liked about the UP:
Easy to wear -It is a bracelet that goes on your non dominant wrist.  It can be worn 24/7, even in the shower.

Discreet - Because it looks like a bracelet it isn't super noticeable you are wearing anything out of the ordinary.
Long Battery Life - This band can go 10 days before it needs to be charged again!
Easy to sync - You simply plug the bracelet into the headphone jack of your phone to upload you information.

Records your steps, calories, and sleep - I think knowing all of this information is super interesting and is helpful in figuring out your diet and activity levels for each day.  You simply hold the button on the band when you are going to sleep and then once you wake up.  
Free App for Smartphone with no Monthly Fee -  It makes adding your food and checking your information throughout the day really easy because it's all on your phone.  In order to see the information your Body Media band collects you have become a member of the website and pay a small monthly fee.  The design and interface of the UP app is always colorful, sleek, and easy to use.  
Daily Tips & Feedback - Another good feature in the app is that you get daily tips and feedback.  

Silent Alarm - I loved this feature!  Because the band tracks your sleep it can wake you up at a good time during your sleep cycle.  You set an alarm, choose a 10-30 minute window, and the bracelet vibrates to wake you up.  Being woken up in my lighter sleep by a buzz on my wrist instead of a loud beep during deep sleep is so much nicer. 

There were a few things that could be better though:
Accuracy of information- Since the band is on your wrist I think it probably over estimates the amount of steps throughout the day, because it thought every move I made of my arms throughout the day could be steps.  I continued to wear my Body Media when I wore the UP and the UP said I took way more steps.  I think Body Media was probably more accurate on this front.  
Activity Tracking - This is a con for both the UP and Body Media (although Body Media has better ways around it).  They are pretty much good for just tracking walking and running activities and it is hard to register swimming, biking, or yoga with the bands.  You can enter it in after, but it's not really the same.
Only a Smart Phone App- This is also a con because you can only see your information on your phone.  I love that it is an all inclusive app, but I would love a website to view the information too.

Overall I liked the UP band a lot.  I find this technology fascinating and really helpful in achieving and maintaining my health and fitness goals.  It allows you to set step, calorie, and sleep goals that you try to meet everyday which makes it a challenge and a bit more fun.  At $130 it isn't cheap, but I think it is a good investment that you can get a lot of use out of.  It is a great technology tool, plus it's interesting to see how many steps you take in a day or how well you sleep at night!

An interesting side note is that Body Media was recently acquired by Jawbone.  This was another reason I wanted to see what Jawbone had to offer.  Nothing has really changed with how Body Media works, but it will be interesting to see if and/or how Jawbone's technology could merge with Body Media's.  

What kind of technology devices do you use to track your health and fitness goals - Garmin, FitBit, UP, BodyMedia, MyFitnessPal, etc?