I love my body

What does it mean to me to love my body?

Can I be a curvy “thick” girl who loves her body and also loves fitness? HELL YES.

I got involved with Beachbody as a coach because I believe there is a healthy, body-positive way you can approach fitness, and yes, also weight loss. I’m not in this because I believe only one body type is beautiful. I’m in this because I believe that no matter what your body type is, if you want to be fit, active, and strong, you should be able to find a healthy and positive routine that works for you.

Though I’ve fluctuated in my activity level over the years, I’m always drawn back to living an active life. By being a Beachbody coach and customer, I’m able to do that on my own terms, on my own schedule, with the support of many other people who are also on their own journey.

Loving your body and wanting to get fit or lose weight don’t have to be contradicting ideas. They can go hand in hand.

I love my body and what it can do. I love what it feels like when I feel my core muscles respond to my movements and support my ability to comfortably and confidently move. I love the way my body feels after a good workout. The way my shoulders are straighter and I sit a little taller. I love the way I’m able to bound up and down stairs with more ease when I’m a little lighter on my feet. I believe I deserve to look and feel good in my own eyes, and so I work out. Because that’s what feels good to me.

The name of the company is Beachbody, which implies that there are beach ready bodies and there are others that aren’t. I believe that taking your body to the beach is what makes it a beach body, and nothing else. I want to support that idea as I also support peoples fitness goals.

People (including myself) also have aesthetic reasons they look to fitness and weight loss. But losing weight just to lose weight isn’t sustainable. I’ve done that before and I just ended up gaining it all back once the goal was attained. When it comes to getting fit, instead of just getting skinny, it’s not a single numerical goal, it’s an ongoing state of action that is about more than just your weight.

I don’t want to support the idea that there is only one definition of beautiful, I want to be a positive force for people who want to gain strength and physical abilities, feel good, and look good, no matter their size. I want to support and encourage people to eat healthy, whole foods and to nourish their bodies like they love themselves.  

If you are interested in working with me to reach your fitness goals, send me a message and I’ll be in touch! 

  

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My Vegetable Habit

It’s actually incredible how quickly my body has adjusted to getting the proper servings of vegetables each day. Whereas before I would start itching for a high carb, high sugar treat in the late afternoon energy lull, I now long for something crunchy and green. Not to say I wouldn’t go for a good pumpkin spice muffin if you’re offering… But seriously, my body has started to crave the real good stuff.

What also might surprise you is that both my husband and I are getting VERY full from our veg-heavy meals. It’s amazing what balanced nutrition can do! Now that we’re in the habit, it seems natural to have vegetables as the majority in most meals.

The only trouble? Keeping enough veggies in the house!

Examples of my yummy meals.

Examples of my yummy meals.

Set yourself free from sugar addiction and get on the good stuff. Eat real, whole foods, and fuel your body with only the best. Ready to join me and make a commitment to your health? 21 day Fall Fitness Bootcamp starts September 14th and space is limited! Click here to participate and learn more. 

Prepped for success

MealPrepMondays

#mealprepmonday #mealprepsunday

Search them on Instagram, I promise you, it’s a thing. It’s a thing for a good reason, too! Planning and preparing meals in advance is a great way to stay ahead in healthy eating.

This week it was my birthday. I didn’t feel like making a giant salad and portions of protein on Sunday. I took the day off for other things. Well, whaddaya think happened? Monday I went out for lunch, not ideal, but delicious. Then Tuesday rolls around and there was no time for lunch packing or breakfast making. I grabbed whatever was easy to transport or fast to throw together (my shipment of Shakeology needs to get here already). I sat down to eat lunch and immediately regretted skipping prep day. Hardly any veggies, not enough of anything, dense calories but not really satisfying…

When I fail to prep, I’m left with a raggletaggle bundle of random things. There’s most often no semblance of balance to my meals this way. I’m left hungry for that something that was missing (most often either the proteins or veggies), and I’m more susceptible to temptations and “easy” snacks.

Needless to say, I wasn’t about to let the same thing happen again on Wednesday!  

Since I started the 21 day fix it’s been really interesting to see where the holes are in my eating habits. It’s obvious now I was definitely eating WAY TOO FEW veggies. That’s right.  Not too many, too few. In this meal plan sometimes the issue is you need to eat more, not less. I would fill up on nuts and cereals, calorie dense foods but I’d still be missing something, and it was definitely veggies. By prepping my week day meals I’m able to make sure I have enough veggie snacks, protein, and veggie-full lunches to keep me going strong.
I’d love to hear new ideas for balanced lunches. Post your pics on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram @Sarah_Ivy! Are you looking for a meal plan to follow? Drop your email below or send me a message here. I’ll help you find the best program for your goals.

Happy preppin’ y’all!

Making a commitment to health

ProgressionPics

I have a long history as what you would call a yo-yo dieter. Since my early twenties I’ve bounced back and forth, using diets and different fitness classes (Cardio kickboxing, Bikram, Pure Barre). I would lose a lot of weight, sometimes nearly reaching my goals! But, of course, overtime I’d fall right back into bad habits and I’d inevitably gain it all back (plus some). I’d move away from my gym, change schedules, start having a few too many “cheat days”… and just like that I’d be back at square one.

I eat pretty healthy. Throughout most of my life I’ve avoided junk foods and empty calories. I grew up eating clean, I just didn’t grow up eating carefully. I know what portions SHOULD look like meal to meal, but I enacting that discipline every day and at every meal just didn’t come naturally. You really CAN have too much avocado, brown rice, and nuts.

When I gave birth to my daughter in February of this year, I’d reached my absolute biggest. Sure, I was pregnant, but only a bit of it would be considered baby weight. I was shocked and disappointed my body had gotten out of control so quickly. How could I have gone from goal weight to my biggest in just a year and a half? I knew I needed to take charge of my health.

See, the thing is that I have always focused on just one side of my fitness at a time. I’d have the exercise routine down but not the eating, or the other way around.

Now that I’m a mom, how was I going to get the exercise and nutrition I needed for success now that I had EVEN LESS time? I can’t get to a gym when I only have a few hours each evening with Ziva! I already know as soon as it’s cold out I’ll stop heading to even the gym in our complex right here at home…

I knew it would have to be something simple, easy to follow, CONSISTENT, and that I could do at home.

I knew it had to be Beachbody.

I’ve seen this program change people’s lives, and I wanted in on that magic.

Sure, I might be late to the party, but I’ve been watching women I admire take charge of their lives both physically and financially over the last few years. I’m inspired by people like my Cousin Jen, and Amy Silverman (top beachbody coach and adventurer).

I started following the meal plan a couple of weeks ago and found it really manageable, and I’m in my first cycle of the 21 day fix and I’m loving it. Sure, I’ve done online workouts with the Tone It Up! girls and Blogilates in the past and I loved them, but being part of a private challenge group, having a team of people to be accountable to, and a structure to follow motivates me.

I lost the first 30 lbs of baby weight on my own, but in the last few weeks with beachbody I’ve lost 9 1/2 pounds. I was able to break through my plateau. It’s Not a lot, I know, but this is just the beginning. 

Pounds aren’t what it’s all about. I’ve regained confidence in my body and my abilities. Sure, I pushed out a 7 lb baby sans medication, I know my body is some legit warrior material, but I had lost mobility, comfort, and confidence in movement. I’ve only been doing the workouts consistently for a week, but I’ve already regained some of my strength and mobility. I feel free. Free to move, dance, climb, free to move like I have ownership of the body I had let get out of control.

This isn’t about weight, I think there’s beauty in every size.

This isn’t about being “beachbody ready”. This is about living my life free from limitations, with strength, mobility, and energy. 

Fitness may not have always come naturally to me, but MOTIVATION and DEDICATION always have. With a path to follow, I can get where I want to go.

Want to join me in making a commitment to health? I can help you find your path on your fitness journey, help keep you on that path (even when there seems to be NO TIME and NO MOTIVATION). Let’s get on this road together!

Leave me a comment here, send me a facebook message, or go to my page here if you are interested in learning more. I’d love to see some of the people I love join me on this journey.

My Favorite Home Workout Resources

 

Top left: Tone it up. Top right: Blogilates. Bottom left: Beachbody 21 day fix. Bottome right: bodyrocktv.

Top left: Tone it up. Top right: Blogilates. Bottom left: Beachbody 21 day fix. Bottome right: bodyrocktv.

After a long day at work away from my baby the last thing I want to do is take more time away from her to go to the gym. I know some people may feel differently, they’re just dying for a little “me” time away, but Ziva is still so young and I want to be home with her as much as possible. BUT, I still want to be a good example for her of self-care and fitness. For years I’ve followed a few of these online resources:

I would get into it for a while and then fall off the wagon. I needed something with a bit more accountability, a bit more human interaction and support. I’ve recently started using Beachbody products and I’m loving the challenge groups and the way my coach (who is also still on her fitness journey) checks in with me and helps keep me on the right path with healthy, clean eating and working out. So, now my new favorite-

I’m definitely drinking the cool aide (if by cool aide you mean protein shakes full of vitamins and healthy ingredients). I’ve found new motivation to press play each night once I get Ziva to bed. It took a while to figure out when exactly I could fit in a workout, but now that I have I’m feeling, and seeing the results.

For more online/at-home workout resources, check out this comprehensive list from Huffington Post-http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-smith2/free-online-workout_b_7722024.html 

What are your favorite at home or online workout resources?

Self-Care after a Miscarriage

All of the views expressed here are my own. I have used “alternative” care most of my life and find it helpful in combination with western medical care, particularly in caring for my overall wellbeing.

SelfCare_ReadySetSarahBlog

1 Month Today

Today marks the 1 month point since I lost the baby. We would have been starting our 4th month of pregnancy today, and instead we are mourning and reflecting on 1 month since our loss.

Self-care is particularly important when my strength and resilience are stretched thin by a circumstance like this, outside of my control. I stay on the look out for ways to manage the stress and anxiety that flare up for me from time to time. But in a time like right now, when my emotions are high, and can come up unexpectedly, I find it even more important to make a concerted effort to maintain balance and practice thoughtful self-care.

A traumatic, stressful, sad life event is the perfect storm for making stress and anxiety hit a fever pitch, and I’m determined to get through this in a healthy reasonable way.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing to take care of myself since the miscarriage:

Scale Back.
One of the first and strongest feelings after returning home to Michigan after the miscarriage was that the feeling that family and home are the most important things to tend to in my life right now. This meant cutting back on outward commitments to save my energy for work, family and my personal care and interests. Sometimes getting out and getting active is a good thing, but right now it feels like all of the extracurricular commitments would just cause me to avoid my feelings, avoid thinking about things, avoid quiet moments to process our loss and grow past it. I decided that sticking to the things that matter most: my family life and health will help me heal more quickly and more fully so that when we are ready to try again I am balanced and ready.

Sure, I have had moments of guilt for dropping out of some commitments to groups I’m involved with. I tried my best to be respectful of their needs and communicated what was going on as promptly as I could. I just know that if I don’t take care of myself now, the grief will only come up later in disruptive ways. Right now, beyond my job, my main responsibilities and my all of my energy are dedicated to healing our family, tending my bond with my husband, and  caring for my physical and emotional health. These are my only and main concerns, and that is okay.

Get sleep.
Letting myself get over tired is a big no no when I’m under emotional stress. When I’m over tired everything feels harder and I get more reactive and it’s harder to stay positive. My negative thinking can get out of hand quickly, even in the best of times, and when you heap being over tired to the equation it’s a recipe for disaster.

Sleep is healing. I often work things out in my dream life. It’s really important to keep up a healthy sleep routine when emotionally tested. Not too much, not too little. I’m trying to stick with a solid 8 hour routine to keep myself on track. In the late hours if I’m not in bed and ready to sleep, the sad and longing thoughts of loss creep in, the arguments and emotional, irrational behavior pick up quickly. If you are anything like me, do everyone a favor and give yourself an early bed time and a regular wake up call. When that alarm goes off, get up and get going with your day.

Talk About It
If you need to talk about what has happened, go ahead and talk about it. Don’t wait for others to ask, or expect others to bring it up. Not to say you should share when you don’t feel comfortable, or all of the time, but I’ve found that most people are nervous to bring it up for fear of reminding me or upsetting me… so it’s up to me to bring it up if I’m feeling the need to share a thought or feeling about what has happened. It can be a dark place in the days after losing a baby, don’t spend your energy being upset with people for not asking, or being angry with them for something they don’t know.

Find the people you feel safe talking with about your feelings. It doesn’t have to be everyone, but find a few people you can share your thoughts with and go ahead and talk. Telling your story, recounting memories, sadness, and concerns can be a release. Hearing about the sadness other people I love are experiencing has also helped me feel that I’m not alone in my grief (not that I want anyone to be sad, but it is validating to know I’m not the only one grieving the loss of the potential life of our little one).

Assume that people mean well. Many people don’t understand, can’t understand what it means to lose a child early in pregnancy. Many will say things that can be a bit upsetting… assume that they mean well and move on to find people who will support you in the ways you need. I found that speaking out publicly about our loss allowed me to find other people who have been through pregnancy loss. Sharing with them and discussing the deep feelings of grief and fear has been really helpful. Knowing that they understand that this was a child we lost, and not just a blip on the radar is comforting.

For me, sharing in writing has been as cathartic as sharing in person (and is available whenever I need it). You can read my story, and some of my musings about the miscarriage herehere, and here.

Physical care.
I saw my OB Gyn in the first weeks after the miscarriage to make sure I was medically ok. That was the first step and the minimum of what I could do to care for myself physically. I’ve written in the past about developing a meditation practice, and my forays into acupuncture (you can read about those here and here).  Acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage have been really helpful ways to support my wellbeing.

In the week or two right after the miscarriage I suffered from severe lower back pain and headaches. I’ve read that these are common symptoms after a miscarriage due to dropping hormone levels and the body readjusting and the uterus shrinking back down. The physical memories of the pregnancy and the pain of the miscarriage were overwhelming and often led to emotional pain. While some of this just had to be endured, I decided to take initiative and fix what I could.

The chiropractic office I go to, Optimal Wellness Family Chiropractic, has been a great source of support and care during my years in Royal Oak. I discovered Dr. Michaela through a Groupon for a massage at her clinic and have been going back since (Brian, my husband, now goes there as well). This office happens to focus on pregnancy and pediatrics, so I felt this was a good place to go for post-miscarriage care. Sure, it was a small splurge to get Brian and myself each a massage, but it was worth it to provide my body with the physical relief and relaxation after such a traumatic event. The chiropractic adjustments, caring concern, and listening ear that Dr. Michaela provided in those first few days alleviated not only some of my physical pain and discomfort, but also helped me feel cared for and safe in my grief.

Exercise and healthy diet. 
We are taking this new-found pre-babies time to work on my physical health. I gained some lb’s over the winter and  during the pregnancy I couldn’t make any drastic changes in exercise routine and diet. Now that I have the time (whether we want it or not) I’m committed to taking care of my body as much as possible. I’ve been following the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge as a way to manage my diet and “reset” my eating behaviors that led to the weight gain (you can read more about that here). Brian and I have also been following a 30 day ab challenge to work on toning up, and we are taking advantage of sunshine for long walks with our pup.

These things not only make me feel happy because they are things I like to do, but the exercise and healthy eating make me physically feel great and boost my overall mood. Sure, there have been times I’ve wanted to eat my feelings during the last month, but I’ve decided to not engage in self-destructive behaviors that will only make things worse. I can’t take the chance right now of pushing myself even deeper into grief, and a potential depressive episode. Right now, I’m going to do everything I can to lift myself up.

Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)
Don’t risk traveling down the road of spiraling negative thinking. It takes a lot of work and practice to learn to recognize negative thought patterns. Knowing what to look out for and how to turn your thinking around is a great place to start learning how to check yourself. I’ll admit… I slip up all of the time. Just last night I was deep in a cycle of spiraling negative thoughts, I was near the edge emotionally and it was not good. I let my deep feelings of sadness spin into negative feelings about my life, relationships, and everything in-between. I was deep in it before I realized I was in a spiral, and by then harm had been done. With the tools of self-reflective thinking, support from my husband, time, and a little sleep, I was able to pull myself back up a bit to make it through today.

It’s a constant process of catching myself on my way to, or in a place of anger, bitterness, or self-pity, and then purposefully and thoughtfully drawing my mind away from those destructive thoughts. Here are some resources that talk about how to recognize negative thinking, negative self-talk and how to “talk back”:

Things aren’t great. Bad things have happened. I choose to keep going, I choose to focus on making our lives better and fighting for the chance to try again, even if I’m scared shitless about what could happen if the unthinkable happens again. I’m going to be a fighter. That’s my choice.

Buy yourself flowers
Or whatever small acts that make you feel joy.

SelfCareFlowers_ReadySetSarahBlog

Recipe Review Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge Part 1

I’m falling in love with eating this way. Even just 5 days in I’m starting to worry what am I gonna do when the meal plan runs out!

Challenge Tip: If you need to pack your lunches and snacks as well as make dinner, at first be prepared to spend about 2 hours prepping food at night… make this a week you don’t have plans! It get’s faster but unless you are already a pro at this be prepared to spend time on it. You can find the Challenge details here, and here is a link to the printable version of the full challenge instructions and recipes (I found it helpful to print it out and put in a binder. You can read more here about my prep). Links to each day’s menu and recipe are included in the title, “Day #” below.

*Review Key: Eat it= Delicious. Skip it= you guessed it, I don’t prefer this item.

Day 1:
Other than the morning shake, all of the meals seemed more bland than I would have hoped. I could definitely feel myself detoxing from sugar and coffee. The Asparagus salad tasted a bit gross after being in the fridge overnight (Skip it). Perhaps my lemon was too big and made it too “lemony”. Since this is supposed to be a Sunday meal I’m guessing it’s not meant to be made in advance. Dinner wasn’t bad, just nothing to write home about. I think this is really the “cleanse” day… if you know what I mean. I felt great the next day and was all cleared out. I definitely recommend starting Day 1 on Sunday not Monday to see if these meals are better fresh.

Kale Smoothie, Day 1

Kale Smoothie, Day 1

Day 2:

  • Overnight oats with blueberries and chia seeds– Eat it. This is a huge breakfast portion! I kept double checking that I hadn’t over done the ingredients (when I usually make it it’s about half as much). After the light meals of yesterday this seemed like a TON. It was good too. I would absolutely make all three meals again. So satisfying.
  • Kale, Chickpea, and fennel salad with orange Vinaigrette– Eat it. hearty and tasty. I was totally satisfied.
  • Sliced tomato with basil, feta, and balsamic– Eat it. Who doesn’t like a caprese type salad? With just 1 ounce of feta, this is still a filling and yummy snack.
  • Napa Cabbage wraps with chicken, mango, and avocado and lime-basil vinaigrette– Eat it. I was skeptical about dinner, lettuce wraps can be bland, but this was DELICIOUS! The basil and mango and avocado were a great mix of flavors and balanced well with the crisp napa cabbage wrap.
Kale, Chickpea and Fennel Salad, Day 2

Kale, Chickpea and Fennel Salad, Day 2

Day 3: 
Lunch was easy to prep in advance. I was worried about not prepping breakfast in advance since I can be slow in the mornings… I managed to get it all prepped in time, though the traffic still made me late :-(.

  • Blackberry-Yogurt Parfait-Skip it. The parfait was alright. Only alright. The ground flax seed flavor was a bit over powering and I decided to “cheat” and add  a pack of Stevia sweetener. After that cheat and a long drive to work, I found we were out of green tea at the office, so I cheated again with a mug of decaff coffee. It didn’t taste very good though, so it wasn’t worth the cheat.

Both lunch and dinner on day 3 are SO GOOD.

  • Asian Chicken Salad with Tamari-Lime Vinaigrette Eat it. I would absolutely make this salad again. The Napa cabbage from Whole Foods was flavorful and crisp and the dressing was perfect.

Last night we went to a free, preview showing of the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore movie Blended. They are always a cute pair and the film was funnier than I had expected. We got home really late but I was determined to stick to the challenge! I whipped up the Big Batch Cooked Lentils and Cauliflower steaks as swiftly as I could

  • Cauliflower Steaks with LentilsEat it. The lentils. OMG, the lentils. I have made lentil soup before, but other than that I don’t usually work much with lentils. THIS RECIPE is AMAZING. I used red lentils (that’s what I had in the house already), and the paprika and Tamari seasoning are a perfect combo with the shallots and garlic. I can’t wait to eat this again. The cauliflower steak is good, but I could have skipped it for more lentils (I didn’t). I was so full from the lentils and cauliflower that I wasn’t even hungry for the night time snack (and I figured chocolate that close to bedtime was a bad plan). My cauliflower head must be bigger than theirs though, cause there was enough left over for 3 omelets, not just the 1 we make on day 5.
Asian Chicken Salad, Day 3

Asian Chicken Salad, Day 3

Day 4

  • Scallion, Feta Omelette Eat it. It’s worth it. Again, super flavorful and filling. I’m definitely liking this meal plan despite the work. I wouldn’t have known to cook the white part of the scallion first and then add the green part. This method cooked it up perfectly and the salty creamy feta just topped it off.
  • Greek Salad with Lentils and Lime VinaigretteEat it. It’s very good. I’m adding this salad to my lunch repertoire. I don’t prefer red bell peppers so I swapped it out for an orange one, it still worked with the flavors and the lentils. I could see making a big batch of these lentils regularly to eat with many meals. I was skeptical about adding it to the salad, but it really works with the other flavors.
  • Mango-Banana Smoothie with Chia SeedsEat it. This is a really great combination for a smoothie. I will definitely make it again. The chia seeds completely break down and make it a thick smoothie full of flavor. I’d use a more-ripe banana though. Mine were pretty greenish-yellow when I put the smoothie mix in the freezer and I think that effected the flavor. I had to add a little bit of Stevia to sweeten it up.
  • Roasted Chicken Breast with Fennel and Spinach– Eat it. Fennel is my new favorite vegetable. I am going to be cooking with fennel regularly from now on. Seriously, roasted fennel is absolutely incredible. It almost didn’t mater what was in the salad with it, the fennel stole my heart and tummy. I can’t wait to eat the rest on day 5.
Roasted Chicken Salad with Fennel and Spinach, Day 4

Roasted Chicken Salad with Fennel and Spinach, Day 4

Challenge Tip: If you need to eat dinner later like I do (because of my commute I can’t start prepping dinners until about 7pm most nights), you might want to consider taking your night time snack as an afternoon snack for between lunch and dinner. I’ve found that I’m really hungry around 3-4pm and need something to hold me over so I’m eating my morning snack

 

Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge Prep

Week 1 haul

I’ll admit, when I saw the headline for the Buzzfeed Food Clean Eating Challenge I thought it was satire. I didn’t even click through. Later a friend mentioned that the recipes actually looked pretty good, so I gave it a second look.

Though the lengthy shopping lists and daily instructions seem a bit daunting at first, I was glad to see every detail of how to logistically follow the challenge laid out in full (i.e. prep this today, defrost that, etc.).

Be prepared to spend A LOT up front ($160+). We had many expensive ingredients already on hand, like chia seeds and flax seeds, and it still cost an arm and a leg.
Clean out your fridge in advance because you are going to need the room. I wish I’d taken a pick of the packed shelves before I started the meal prep!

Shopping:
I did most of my shopping at Trader Joe’s (that’s our usual store so we were headed there anyways). I ended up making a separate trip to Whole Foods and Meijer for the remaining vegetables that either were not available, didn’t look good or were too much in quantity at TJ’s ( I had to go to Meijer’s because Whole Foods was out of Arugala, apparently that’s a hot item on Mother’s day). If you don’t mind the price tag, you could do your full shopping trip at Whole Foods and avoid the running around. We also had a number of ingredients already in the house. Be sure to take stock before you leave to save yourself the money (and space!).

Prep:
There is a bit of extra food prep on day 1 to get all of the smoothies frozen ingredients bagged up, and if you are going to need to pack your next day lunches to take with you, I recommend you start earlier in the day to prep, not 9pm. If you have any evening plans during the week you may want to pre-make or prep the ingredients for those as well.

Links:
The plan-

  • The full plan and links to each day and the printables here
  • Printable plan with instructions and recipes here

Shopping lists-

  • Week 1 shopping list here
  • Week 2 Shopping list here

Daily Instructions (instructions without images are included in the printable plan as well)-

I started on Monday (the plan starts on Sunday) so I’m just shifting each day forward one. So far so good!

Wish me luck! After just shopping and prepping I’m already a little nervous about what I’ve gotten myself into. If you’ve tried a challenge like this before or are doing it now too, or eat like this on a regular basis (look at you, super star!!), please comment with any tips or tricks for staying on top of it all.

Now let’s just see if I can go two weeks cranking meals out like this. The eating isn’t the hard part, it’s definitely the prep time.

Cheers!

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What I learned from my Up Band by Jawbone

It would be hard to miss the fact that I am parked on my bum a lot. I mean, a lot.

Lack of physical activity is inevitable with long work days as a desk jockey, a long daily commute, and computer based hobbies. Add in the fact that it’s too cold and/or snowy, or suffocatingly humid many months of the year here in Michigan, and that activity level starts running pretty close to nil.

I’ve always loved physically active hobbies: hiking, swimming, turbo kick, riding my bike around town, etc. And, for a while there before graduate school, before moving to a state with only a few short months of what I consider “quality outdoor activity weather,” I actually did these things on a pretty regular basis. It sounds like a bucket of excuses (it is), but in my present life, these things are just a bit more challenging to fit in, or aren’t readily available options most of the year.

Everything that comes with the Jawbone Up Band. The charging cord plugs into the iPhone charger base. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

Everything that comes with the Jawbone Up Band. The charging cord plugs into the iPhone charger base. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

Combining my love of gadgets, lifestyle iPhone Apps, and health maintenance tools, the idea of using a wearable activity tracker like the Up Band was a natural step. I’m a little late on the bandwagon, and believe me, despite my desire to be an early adopter I have a budget to mind so it took me a little while to convince myself it was worth the splurge. At about $129 retail it wasn’t going to be an impulse buy.*

*The new Up Band 3.0 (Up24) retails at $149 and has bluetooth synching unlike my older model which requires plugging in to the iPhone jack.

I started looking seriously in the summer of 2013 after seeing a coworker wearing the super snazzy mint colored band. She told me about how much her whole family enjoyed using their bands to encourage and hold each other accountable (they are all able to connect and see each others activities on the App), and about what she liked and didn’t like about her band, and after reading a few reviews online about the alternatives, I decided I would go with the Jawbone Up Band as well.

The Up Band (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

The Up Band (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

What I learned.

  • I have an impossibly sedentary lifestyle. No wonder even when I’m eating right I can’t lose weight! Unless I intentionally tack on a few bursts of activity (like walking for 30 minutes at lunch, or going to the gym after work), it’s nearly impossible for me to reach the 10,000/daily recommended steps for healthy living! On work days when I have  many meetings, miss the lunch walk, and have board meetings after work, I can get as low as 3,000-4,000 steps! THAT’S LESS THAN HALF THE RECOMMENDED STEPS. Damn. Wake up call. If I’m going to be active and healthy, it’s going to have to be intentional, planned and in addition to my daily activities, cause they just aren’t cutting it. Seeing a low little 4k at the end of the day is just the wake up call I need to get back up and out the door to the gym to try to at least reach 8k!
  • My effort level in exercise is low. I typically select exercise that involves pretty low impact, and I’ve now learned, low effort. I guess part of it is stamina, the other part is laziness. I definitely need some sort of external push to make me move my booty… if left to my own devices, I just don’t push that hard. I don’t know how accurate the effort rating is on the Up Band, and an “easy” effort level for the Up Band may not feel that way to me. It’s good to know though, so that I know I need to push myself harder.
  • I need to go to bed earlier. Though I’ve heard that the sleep monitoring in the Up Band has questionable usefulness when it comes to analyzing quality of sleep (there are four stages in sleep and the band only reports deep and light sleep), it is interesting to see what my sleep looks like. From what I can tell, I have longer and more periods of deep sleep in the hours before midnight than I do in the hours between midnight and rising. So, I decided this means I should be heading to bed a little earlier if I want to get some high quality sleep in before the alarm.
  • In-put vs. Out-put. The iPhone app for the Up Band syncs with MyFitnessPal, the app that I was already using to track my diet and exercise manually. Linking these two together gave me a clearer picture of what my caloric in-put and out-put really looks like on a daily basis.

What bugs me.

  • The band is a bit bulky, and gets caught in my sleeves.
  • Seems like all of the good colors sold out.
  • The light grey band I ordered is the color of old school computer equipment (tan-ish grey dullness), not a pretty white-ish grey that it appears on-screen.
  • Part of the fun of wearable technology is comparing your data to your friends through the apps. If you don’t know enough people with the device to compare, encourage and compete with, and the initial intrigue of the data itself starts to ware off, the device starts to lose its appeal.
  • The Up Band doesn’t have an adjustable strap. Sure, it isn’t a set closure with a set width, but during that time of the month when I’m bloated and retaining water the band can start to dig in, leaving an imprint in my puffy arm. Maybe I should have gone with a bigger size to allow for the expansion, but it would be nice if it could just adjust.
  • Sharp edge on the button side. I’ve scratched myself on the corner of the square button end of the band a few times, and scratched my husband at least once. I would love it if future models rounded the corners out just a little bit.
The sharp button edge on the Up Band. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

The sharp button edge on the Up Band. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

Ultimately, did I need a device to tell me I need to get a move on? Probably not. But, having  external data helps me determine exactly what I need to be doing to change my outcomes. Why am I not losing weight? Why am I so darn sleepy? Now I know, and I can figure out the different small ways I can change my behavior to get the outcomes I want. Plus, I get to geek out on the data about myself. Definitely worth the money in my eyes.

What about the FitBit?

My job is now offering a deal with FitBit, and I’m thinking I might give the Force or Flex a try for comparison. I’ll let you know if I do it. The up side with the FitBit products are that they are a tiny bit less bulky (I tried one on), and they have an adjustable strap. I haven’t heard much about the app that goes with it, but I have heard of skin irritations from the Force, and that concerns me a bit since I have sensitive skin. I do like the idea of the LED display on the Force. I always look down at my Up Band expecting to see the time displayed, so that is a definite perk of the Force! Plus it comes in some pretty snazzy colors.