Bob’s BAAAACK! A Review

You might remember when I got a Bob Harper 4 disc DVD set, tried one of the workouts and promptly had my you know what kicked.

Well I came back for more! I tried out the first thirty minute workout from the Total Trainer Plus DVD and I’m here to tell you all about it!** First off-an overall rating-

I have now started rating these DVDs based on grimace level-that’s a half smile right?

As you can see, it gets a half smile, half grimace rating. Hey, it’s an improvement over the face rating after this workout.

As I mentioned, the Total Trainer Plus DVD is divided into two workouts-an upper and lower body workout, each thirty minutes in length. I use “upper” and “lower” loosely because Bob promises to get your entire body and delivers.

The circuits consist of kettlebell swings, jump lunges, alternating lunges, lots of planks and oh so much more. The workout only required kettlebells (if you have ‘em), dumbbells, a table and a mat so it’s a great home workout.

What I really liked about this DVD is that nice Bob came out to play. By “nice”, I don’t mean the workout was easy (because it’s wasn’t), but he was encouraging and cracked jokes instead of going into yelling, super-intense Bob, which happened during the other two Bob DVDs I’ve tried. I also liked that he only worked out with one other person (Sam), who was easy to follow and super fit-although she did grunt a lot…Not sure about that one.

Just me Bob and Sam…and those paint swatches that are never going to be covered up.

Another pro to this workout was that it felt very efficient. It was only thirty minutes, but afterward, I was dripping in sweat and felt like it had hit my entire body. So far, this is my favorite workout in the series and a great option for when you’re in time crunch.

Happy Friday!

Fact. (source)

**If you scrolled all the way down here-Sorry for the overly exclamatory statements. It’s Friday, I’m currently sitting in the middle of my living room floor  in my sweaty post Bob DVD workout clothes…and have I mentioned it’s Friday?


Fun Fitness Find: FitBit Ultra

After hearing so many amazing reviews of the FitBit Ultra, I was contemplating buying one.

Fate happened to intervene a couple of weeks ago when I received one as a part of a special promotion when my boyfriend purchased my new best friend, the XBox Kinect.

FitBit! This was actually after I opened it out of excitement. Then I decided to be a good blogger and put everything back in the box and photograph it.

The FitBit Ultra comes with a charging base, a mini hip holster and a wristband that is used for tracking sleep patterns. As with most electronics these days, the FitBit Ultra is easy to use right out of the box and guides you through the set up process once you plug the USB cord into your computer.

The goods-wristband, hip holster and the FitBit Ultra on its charging base.

Its also very small (about the size of my thumb) and can be worn in a variety of places on your body to track movement. The box recommended that I wear it in my cleave…so I’m pretty sure you can guess where I put it every day.

My FitBit placement can make for awkward social situations.

Now on to the fun stuff.

The FitBit Ultra tracks your daily steps taken, miles traveled, number of flights climbed and approximate calorie burn and you can view these numbers on an easy to read display. There is also a flower that “grows” throughout the day to indicate your level of movement-you have to keep moving throughout the day to keep your flower healthy.

What I love most about the FitBit Ultra is the online dashboard. When the device is near its base, the FitBit Ultra automatically syncs activity to your dashboard, where all of your daily stats are listed. It’s really fun to get a comprehensive overview of your daily activity. The FitBit Ultra also adapts to daily activity levels and sets new movement goals accordingly, so the more you move and log activity, the harder your goals get!

Get all of your information in one spot-on the dashboard!

In addition to tracking activity patterns, FitBit Ultra also helps you track your sleep. Two things I’ve learned so far: When I go to sleep, I pass the you know what out (7 minutes?!) and  the cat licking my eyelids in order to get her food in the morning is indeed having an effect on my quality of sleep.

When my cat wants her food at 5:30 a.m., she wants her food at 5:30 a.m.

The dashboard also has a handy dandy food tracker and library. One of the things I have been working on since December is keeping an honest record of my food intake. Back then, my food tracking, although organized, looked like this…

I think there might be a theme to my food journal notes...

But with the FitBit Ultra, my food tracking looks like this…

Easy food tracking. My snarky notes about my my mood in relation to my hunger are still included.

The food dashboard allows users to quickly enter food items and serving sizes through an online library of nutrition data. Better yet, when you can’t find a certain food in the dashboard’s extensive online library, you can quickly add a new item along with its nutrition information. In addition to easy meal entry, I also like that the food dashboard provides a breakdown of the nutritional value for all of your daily meals.

I'm an active lady. I love my carbs.

I’ve been using the FitBit Ultra for a little more than a week now and I have to say I love it!* I love being able to track my food intake, activity and sleep all in one spot. The only thing I think it needs is a reminder feature that buzzes to keep you moving throughout the day. I, for one, know I could use a reminder to get up and move during my long days at the office.

Bottom Line: The FitBit Ultra might come in a small box, but it is a powerhouse of a fitness tool. If you want to know more about the FitBit or the FitBit Ultra, check out the official website.

If you use a FitBit or FitBit Ultra, I would love to hear what you think in the comments section below. If you have any questions about my experience with the FitBit Ultra, feel free to ask away!

*Just in case you’re wondering, no, FitBit did pay or give me free products for this shiny review-I just love my FitBit Ultra so much that I wanted to spread the word, but hey, FitBit if you’re reading and you need a new brand evangelist…I’m your girl! :)


Ask A Blogger: Meals and Miles

Hi everyone!

As you might have read last week, I said I had an exciting announcement (well at least for me). So here it is!

Every morning, one of the things I look forward to is a Google Reader full of new posts from my favorite bloggers. In an effort to get to know more about them and learn from their experience, I asked some of my favorite bloggers a few questions. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to their questions here!

FIrst up is Meghann from Meals and Miles.

Meghann is from Tampa, Florida and “is one of those crazy people who thinks training for marathons is fun”. Her blog, Meals and Miles, documents “one girl’s journey through running and food”. To learn more about Meghann and her blog, read below!

If you had to describe your blog in 5 words or less how would you do it? It’s my life, one meal and mile at a time. ( I think that’s more than 5 ;) )

Why did you start blogging? I started blogging to document how I was maintaining a 30lb weight loss while working full time and still having a social life. Then it sort of became my daily diary for life, love, and food.

How do you keep coming up with new content that will keep your readers interested? The good thing about blogging about my life is there’s always a new adventure to tackle.
What is your most memorable blogging moment or biggest blogging achievement?When five other bloggers and I planned and executed the first Healthy Living Summit. When we opened registration for the first time and the 125 tickets sold out in 20 minutes, we do we were on to something big.
Do you have any advice to those who want to start their own blog? Don’t follow the ‘cookie cutter’ blog approach because there isn’t one. Be yourself and blog about what YOU want to blog about, not what you think other people want to read about.

Aside from blogging and breaking a sweat, what do you like to do in your free time? I’m a tv junkie! I LOVE catching up on my favorite tv shows! I also love trying new things – if it’s new and different – I’m there!

Do you have a mantra? If it’s a tough workout, I like to repeat to myself ‘You are a machine. You are a machine.’ It helps to remind myself that my body is trained to do this and will make it through.

What’s one food that you couldn’t live without? Too many things to count! Probably cereal and bread – I’m a carbs girl.

What’s your favorite way to break a sweat? Running. Obviously. ;)

Any weird pre-race superstitions? No, but I’m always super paranoid that I’m going to arrive late, so I make a point to always arrive ridiculously early before a race start. 

What are some of your favorite blogs? Too many!!

Hope you enjoyed the first edition of “Ask A Blogger”! I’m always looking for new bloggers to follow, so if you have favorite bloggers that you want to know more about (or think I should know about) let me know in the comments section!


Q&A-Spider Veins

A few weeks ago, I was in New York and one of my best friends, a girl who is quite the goddess–runs marathons, super smart and healthy–showed me a slight imperfection on her otherwise perfect body–small blue and red veins on the back of her knees and thighs, which had developed over the past few years.  Both of us had always associated these veins with older women–so why did she have them and even more important how could she get rid of them? With her permission, I set out to find the answer in the form of a blog post.

The Goddess' Legs

Well, my friends these veins are caused by a backup of blood and are more commonly known as spider veins, due to their spidery appearance.   They are a very close cousin to varicose veins and although most associate this condition with older women, it actually appears in about 50-55% of women and 40-45% of men in the US.   Spider veins are caused by hormone changes, sun exposure, injuries and heredity, which might explain why my otherwise healthy and active friend has been recently afflicted with this condition.

If you find yourself in the same position as my friend, don’t get frustrated.  There are multiple ways to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of spider veins.  Some of the more extreme treatments include sclerotherapy (injecting liquid chemicals into the veins to seal them shut), laser treatments and other surgical procedures.  Some simpler alternatives include wearing sunscreen, moving around every 30 or so minutes, and eating a low-salt, high-fiber diet.  This means that even if you’re super active, but you sit at your desk all day, you need to get up and move and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.

If you’d like more information on spider veins, check out this great site, compliments of the Women’s


Work It Out Books

Hope everyone has had a great start to the week.

Check out my video below for a great tip on how to get rid of your old fitness magazines and keep your workouts and recipes organized and accessible.  And after you’re done with your magazines–remember to recycle!


Monitoring Your Success

Today my friend sent me an interesting New York Times article about heart rate measurement that really got me thinking.  As a college athlete I was always told that to get my maximum heart rate, I should just subtract my age from 220.  Many of our workouts were focused on achieving certain levels of exertion based on heart rate, so getting this measurement right was pretty important.

The article reports on a study that is shedding new light on this method…at least when it comes to women.  In the study, researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago collected maximum heart rate data from 5,437 healthy women, who range in age from  35 to 93.  They found that the maximum heart rate number derived from the old “220-your age” calculation was off the mark for most of the study’s subjects.  Using heart rate statistics from their sample pool, researchers derived a new calculation just for women, which is 206 minus 88 percent of your age.

The rest of the article goes on to talk about how this calculation might still leave women in a heart rate range that is too far above or below where they should be, which can still leave you frustrated during a workout.  For example, using the old formulation, my maximum heart rate would be 196.  With the new formula it would be around 185—a significantly lower number.

In the end, I think that Dr. Tim Church, an exercise researcher and director of preventative medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, gets it right.  He states, “Everyone kind of has their own natural pace.  If you like to work a little harder, then work harder. If you like to work less hard but a little longer, then do that.  Find what works for you.”  I found that doing some cardio workouts sans heart rate monitor worked best for me, as I didn’t come out of workouts feeling bad about myself if I wasn’t hitting certain numbers.

So bottom line: If hitting those numbers makes you work hard during a workout, then go for it.  If they’re just stressing you out, don’t pay too much attention to them and listen to your body.  Just make sure you’re giving it your all.

If you want to calculate your target heart rate based on the old formula use this nifty tool from MayoClinic.

Want more information on heart rate monitors?  Start here.  I have the Polar F6.