Author Archives: Sarah

BodyMedia FIT LINK Armband: Review

BodyMedia FIT Armband Review

Anyone who has made an effort to lose weight and get in shape knows that it can be quite the challenge.  In theory it’s so simple – eat healthier, cut out some calories and exercise.  But in practice it’s all a little more complicated.  How many calories should you be eating?  How much exercise do you need to reach your goals?  How do you get motivated on those days when you’re just not feeling it?

Losing a bit of weight and getting fit are two of my biggest goals for the year.  Since January I’ve been making an effort to make better food choices and get up off the couch.  I bought an inexpensive pedometer and made it a goal to reach 10,000 steps each day and most days I get there.  Without too much effort, I dropped about five pounds.  Then I hit a standstill.  Frustration was setting in, so I jumped at the opportunity to test out a BodyMedia FIT Armband, a wearable device that is designed to eliminate the guesswork and help you get results.

BodyMedia FIT LINK ArmbandThe BodyMedia Armband is designed to be worn up to 23 hours a day, and syncs with your computer via USB cable.  Using four sensors, the armband measures motion, heat flux, skin temperature and galvanic skin response.  These measurements are used to track calorie burn, physical activity, steps taken and even your sleep duration and efficiency.  You can view your activity as well as track your food consumption via the online Activity Manager, giving you a full picture of your daily calorie intake and expenditure.

There are two armband models to choose from, each with its own benefits.  The CORE Armband is sleeker, 1/3 smaller in size.  The LINK Armband is Bluetooth enabled, to deliver real time data to your mobile device via the BodyMedia FIT App for Android and iOS.  I opted for the LINK Armband as the Bluetooth capability was very appealing to me.

Getting started with the BodyMedia FIT system is fairly simple. Log into the online Activity Manager and enter some basic information including your gender, height and weight. You can then choose a goal: Lose Weight, Maintain Weight or Get Active. I set my goal as weight loss and soon I had a plan for losing 1.5 lbs a week: a personalized calorie target and an activity goal to help reach a daily 750 calorie deficit. Seeing my results on a daily basis has been very motivational for me, I’m driven to reach that daily activity target.

BodyMedia Activity Manager GoalsIt does take a bit of time to get used to wearing the armband day and night.  I feel a little self-conscious wearing the armband out in public, though this is a small price to pay for fitness.  That said, the armband wouldn’t be my first choice accessory for a little black dress and I do have a few long sleeved shirts for layering that simply won’t fit comfortably with the armband on.  Fortunately the weather is warming up and casual tees and tank tops will be my uniform for months.

Having used several other websites to track my food intake in the past, I’ve been spoiled by the their extensive food databases.  I was unable to find many of the foods I eat on a regular basis in the system and entering all of the calorie and nutrition values can be time consuming.  The good news is that once you enter a food into the system, it will always be there for future use.

BodyMedia FIT Dashboard

There is no doubt that I’m getting a much clearer picture of my physical activity with the armband than I was before.  Where before I was simply focused on reaching the 10,000 step mark, now I can see the difference it makes in calorie burn when I walk faster or run.  I don’t have to guess how many calories I’m burning when I torture myself with a Jillian Michaels video.  I have noticed that the step count I get on the armband is not accurate.  Wearing both the armband and a pedometer which I know to be accurate resulted in big discrepancies.  I’m not sure if this is to be expected from the armbands in general or just something off with mine.  Being that the goal here is calories burned and not steps taken, this isn’t a dealbreaker.

The BodyMedia FIT LINK Armband retails from $179 from the BodyMedia website and at retailers including Amazon.com.  Included with the armband is a three month subscription for the online Activity Manager, a subscription fee of $6.95 will be billed monthly thereafter.

If you are serious about losing weight and getting fit, a BodyMedia Armband is definitely worth a look.  You may find that it’s worth the investment.

Disclosure: I was provided with a BodyMedia FIT Armband and trial subscription for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Girl Power

Girl Power

Even princesses can be tough!

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Muffins

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Muffins

It doesn’t any fancy preparation to enjoy yogurt, just a container and a spoon will suffice.  Yet when you venture beyond eating it by the spoonful, there are a world of possibilities.  From breakfast smoothies to dinner entrees, this versatile ingredient will earn its place in your refrigerator.  One of my favorite ways to use yogurt is as a substitute for high-fat ingredients found in baked goods.  I recently found myself with some strawberries and bananas to use up and a quick Pinterest search yielded this great low-fat, light on sugar muffin recipe.  The original recipe called for several ingredients I didn’t have on hand, so I adapted it to work with the contents of my pantry.  The result?  A tasty breakfast treat!

Strawberry Banana MuffinsStrawberry Banana Yogurt Muffins
Yield: 12 Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup Mountain High Vanilla Yoghurt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Bananas, Mashed
1 Cup Chopped Strawberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease muffin tin or spray with nonstick spray. (I couldn’t resist using these super cute liners for this batch of muffins, but these particular muffins do tend to stick to the paper. To avoid this problem, I’d recommend not using paper liners for this recipe.)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Mix the brown sugar, egg, yoghurt, vanilla and bananas until well combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold strawberries into the batter.

Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tins, filling approximately 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

You can find lots of other tasty recipes at the Mountain High Yoghurt website.

Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mountain High Yoghurt. I received a gift card to purchase yogurt, a product kit, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Protecting Babies from RSV

Toddler Meets New Baby

Everyone loves babies. We all want to hold them, cuddle them and marvel at them.  While we have only the best intentions, it’s easy to forget that we need to take special care to protect these little ones from germs and illnesses. It’s common sense to wash your hands before touching a baby, but it’s amazing how fast common sense goes out the window when you’re staring at an angelic little face.  On our first trip to the zoo with my twins, we were approached by a woman who gushed over how cute they were, then impulsively grabbed my daughters hand and started kissing it.  I’m  was stunned and struggled to maintain my composure long enough to remove the babies from the situation and wash their hands just in case.

Before the birth of my first son, I had never heard of RSV.  Nearly every baby will be exposed to this virus by the age of 2.  Serious infections can cause hospitalization and even death, in fact, RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants.  While we were lucky not to have any RSV related medical issues with our kids, it was a common topic of conversation among a group of mothers I am close with.  Several infants in our group ended up requiring treatments ranging from inhalers to hospitalization. The risks of RSV are especially great for premature babies, as illustrated in this infographic.

RSV Infographic

Spreading awareness of RSV and general new baby etiquette can go a long way towards keeping new arrivals healthy.

A few tips to remember when a loved one has a new baby:

  • Call before you visit. New parents need time to set up a routine and bond. By giving them time to do so before you visit, you are respecting the new family.
  • Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness.
  • Remember that parents know best. If you feel they are being overprotective or overly cautious, just consider that only they know what’s best for the health of their new son or daughter.
  • Offer to do something to ease their responsibilities as they spend time as a family, such as laundry, cooking or dishes. Sleep-deprived moms and dads will appreciate your help!

If you do schedule a visit with a new baby:

  • Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby. Parents, and the new baby, will appreciate it.
  • Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children, especially if they attend day care or preschool, often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.

A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (e.g., wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.

To learn more about RSV, visit www.rsvprotection.com.

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Spring at the Bellagio Conservatory

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012 Floral Painting

The Conservatory at The Bellagio is a must visit for us whenever we go to Las Vegas.  You’ll find this giant atrium adjacent to the hotel lobby.  The stunning horticultural display changes five times a year, so you’ll always see something new. Best of all, it’s free!  Here is just a glimpse of the Spring Celebration exhibit which will run through May 13.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012

Giant flower-covered bees and daffodils add a bit of whimsy to the display.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012

Rowboats and waterfalls – what spring daydreams are made of.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012

They must have known poppies are my favorite…

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012 Poppies

Have you ever visited the Conservatory at the Bellagio?  What are your must-see Las Vegas attractions?