Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Jabra Elite Sport

It has been a while since I've done a gear review here, but I am excited to write this one.  The reason for my excitement is that I have had terrible luck with wireless Bluetooth headphones, and the product I'm reviewing not only fits that bill... it does so much more!

The Jabra Elite Sport headphones have good sound quality, stay in my ear well, and has a heart-rate monitoring function!!  This means carrying one less device when working out.

Official description:

Jabra Elite Sport is the most technically advanced true wireless pair of sports earbuds available. The fully sweat proof and waterproof Elite Sport is the ultimate training aid that delivers freedom of movement on any terrain. When paired with the Jabra Sport Life app, the earbuds deliver the most comprehensive range of audio training tools, including an in-ear heart rate monitor, in-ear intelligent coaching, VO2 Max fitness testing, automatic repetition counting, a race-time predictor and a recovery advisor.

Upon opening the package, I was impressed with the slick charging apparatus/case, yet overwhelmed with a bunch of tiny ear plugs and wings.  However, this was a one-time thing and allowed me to try out many different sizes so that the ear bud fits and stays in my ear, especially if I'm going to be jumping around.  Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out how everything fits together and fit well in my ear, but once I got that, I could jump and run around with no issues.







 
Snug as a bug:
 
 
 
I downloaded the app and entered a few stats on myself. (age, weight, gender).  There was then a test screen that asked me to run/jump for a few seconds to make sure the right ear bud was picking up a heart-rate. 
 
The app has an Activity screen where you can select a workout such as running and walking, and it even includes built-in workouts!  These built-in workouts talk to you through the headphones and provide music (though you can also play your own).  There are also several coaching programs such as pace and heart-rate targeting that also guide you via in-ear instructions!
 
Speaking of music, the sound quality is great!  Compared to other wireless Bluetooth headphones I've used, I feel like the sound is very clear.  There are volume control and selection buttons on the buds, which you can use to answer your phone calls.
 


As for the heart-rate sensor, I feel that it was pretty accurate, since I am used to seeing what my Apple Watch registers.  This is a great alternative to wearing a separate heart-rate monitor!

I'm really looking forward to using these headphones more, as I do a lot of workouts off my cell phone in situations where I don't want sound to be coming out.  Having the portable workouts is even better, and it will even sync up with some other apps such as RunKeeper.

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FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of Jabra Elite Sport headphones but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.
 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quitting the Gym... Again Again

That's not a typo: this is the second time that I have voluntarily called it quits on my gym membership.  Before I had my child, I didn't have a membership because I was commuting a lot and had discovered the wonders of home workout videos.  Prior to that, I had access via work, though really, I was running outdoors a lot and didn't really need it, anyway.

After I returned to work post-baby, I didn't work out for a while trying to balance everything, and I quickly started a new job.  Once I got comfortable with that and was pumping fewer times at work than when I started, I joined the gym because I could use it during lunch hour -- my only break during those hectic days.  By then, I was about six months postpartum and was only working out randomly at home sometimes.  I think I went to the gym about three times a week after that point, which was gold.

As time went on, I started working from home more because I was transferred to a different department, and I found that less commuting meant I could make more time for workouts.  My son grew older, and now his care during the day went from very inconvenient to extremely convenient.  Ironically, I only made it to the gym once or twice a week.  I think it was because I had made significant progress in my little "home gym" project and started to use that out of convenience.  However, around the same time, I got into heavy lifting more, so I justified keeping my gym membership just for that.

The gym has been critical to me for two things besides weights.  First, when I do come into the office, it's convenient for me to go very early to beat traffic and go to the nearby gym before work.  I wouldn't be able to shower at home because that would wake everyone (yeah, ugh...).  Second, since my kiddo is still very attached to me, sometimes going to the gym was the only way I'd get a workout and shower in without being noticed.

After my first year of gym membership, I got an e-mail saying that my rate was going up, at which point I said I would get a squat rack and quit the gym.  That didn't happen.  Now, another year went by, and I recently got this:

As your partner in fitness we are proud to support your fitness goals, and we would like to thank you for being a member of [GYM]. We work hard to provide you with quality services, facilities and amenities that enable you to get the most out of every workout.
To ensure we're able to continue to meet your needs, your membership rate will be increasing by $1.57 per month. Effective July 2017, your new monthly dues rate will be $XX.XX plus applicable taxes. We do our best to keep your rate as low as possible while delivering you the best fitness experience at a great value.

Although I thought I was getting a good deal initially, this was the second raise in two years, and who knows how many will follow?  The gym was not improving at all.  Equipment was still down too often, showers mediocre, and it was still too crowded for me to do what I wanted all the time.  So the next day after I got the message, I called and cancelled my membership.

Where does this leave me?  Well, I know I didn't mention it here, but several months ago, we finally took the plunge and got a treadmill for our garage gym.  While I tend to run outdoors when I can, "The Ukrainian" often prefers the treadmill, and this opens up running during off-times.  I've tripped too many times in the dark to trust myself from being that hardcore, plus, we live in an area where coyotes and other wildlife have been seen.  Having an indoor treadmill also helps with cardio warm-ups for other workouts I might do.

I won't be able to work out anymore on the days I come into the office.  I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do about that.  Maybe I will just do a lot of walking on those days, do some resistance training at my desk, or maybe even try working out at the home gym without showering??  Same for times when I need to get away -- I just need to work around my toddler's needs and maybe go without showering more often.

I still don't have that squat rack, though I think that is in my near future.  It would pay for itself in about three months of not paying gym dues and another three months for the barbell.  We have a smaller barbell that I can use for training in the meantime.  Money isn't exactly an issue, but it's the principle... the same one that got me to quit the gym in the first place.  Plus, I primarily do workout videos, anyway.

Anyway, I don't think this is going to be a huge deal, but if anyone in a similar position is thinking about quitting the gym, I thought I'd provide my perspective on making this kind of decision while still staying committed to regular exercise.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Walking Science Experiment

Whew.

Since I'm all about controlling my blood sugar these days, I spend a lot of my time planning out my food, discovering new foods, and looking at the ways I react to certain foods.  This post is a random list of what I've learned so far.

  • As I mentioned in my last post, although my doctor told me that spot-checking my blood glucose levels wouldn't be useful at the level that I'm at, I have found that it has been a huge help.  So thank you, Amazon, for selling affordable test strips.

  • In my last post, I also said that rice is a no-no.  I did a second test where I had just HALF a cup of brown rice, along with other things in a meal (protein, fat)... unlike last time when I had white rice in isolation.  Yet still, it did seem to raise my levels, so now I'm pretty much avoiding rice altogether.  This is useful information.  I've read that basmati rice might be an option since it's lower glycemic, so that will be the next test I do.  Yes, it sucks... being Asian-American... rice is huge.  I've been eating riced cauliflower and quinoa instead for now.  On that same thread, I suspect Japanese food will need to be limited since it contains a lot of "hidden" sugars.

  • Pasta seems to raise me a bit, but at a more manageable level.  I don't eat pasta very often to begin with, so this isn't super useful information, but it's good to know I can pick at some without ill effects.

  • I haven't done too much testing on sweets (baked goods in particular) yet, and the main reason for that is because a) I've found many alternatives to sweets (more on that later?), and b) I find that eating sweets begets cravings for them.  The first month after my test, I was pretty strict about my sweet/carb intake, and although I had a rough period where I craved things, that passed, so I don't want to trigger them again.  Now, there have been weak moments, mostly when we are at events, where sweets have not spiked me since I just nibble and eat other things with them.  This is good news.

  • Finally, I ate a lot of yogurt, some of it sweetened, in the past year, so I wanted to see if this was what was contributing to my poor results.  Well, I finally got the courage to test this (those Fage Crossovers are the BOMB), and nope... it's not that.  Very good to know, but I'll be saving those for treats since again, the sugar within might beget cravings.

  • I have switched to sprouted and einkorn (primitive wheat) bread, which I tolerate well, but I haven't really eaten other breads yet.  I will be sure to test other breads as I try them, but honestly, the sprouted breads are so tasty.  Bagels are a monster -- I'm not sure if I will test those or not, unless I get really desperate.  I used to love bagels, but it was another one of those items I cut in recent years since I have long known how carb-y they are.

  • Back to the first bullet-point, my advice is to take charge of your health.  My doctors have not addressed my test results and probably would not until I plunge into full-blown diabetes.  They cared when I was pregnant and cared about my son when he was born, but otherwise, we are kind of on our own.  I think this is typical of doctors as a whole and not just mine, likely because of costs and limited understanding of these types of things.

This is very preliminary, but aside from rice, I think that if I just spread my carb intake throughout the day, I might be all right.  It does make me wonder why my official numbers have been high, but maybe it was more related to timing than anything else.

I should add that a few months into moderating my carb intake, I've felt pretty good overall.  Yes, there are rough days, but overall, I think I have a little more energy than before.  It does kind of burn me out to put so much thought into tracking and timing and testing.  For example, if I've eaten a smaller meal and get hungry shortly after, I can't eat again until it's time to test my glucose levels if I'm testing a good.  Also, going out is more complicated, and I find that's where I'm making the most "mistakes."  I'm hoping all these things get better with time, and this close tracking/monitoring period is going to be temporary until I knock the training wheels off.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can move the dial back, but along the way, I'm doing something good for myself.  Perhaps this is all just one of those veiled blessings.

On the note of blessings, Happy (early) Mother's Day to those in the motherly roles in life!  Mothers make the world go 'round!  Although I typically don't really celebrate myself on this day because we're busy celebrating the older generations, I'm so lucky to have so many to celebrate with right now.