Thursday, August 27, 2015

Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker

As you know, fitness trackers are all the rage lately.  I haven't been able to commit to one for very long, mostly because I don't like wearing things on my wrist.

A while back, I reviewed the Omron Alvita Pedometer, which was a great pedometer because it was no-fuss, automatically resetting itself each day and only counting legitimate steps instead of just shakes.

I was given the chance to review a next generation of this device, the Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker.  It uses similar technology but now interacts with your phone!

  • Tracks steps, aerobic steps, distance and calories burned
  • Wirelessly syncs your data to our free Omron Fitness app
  • Tap on screen for easy access to current day’s data
  • Calculates stride automatically based on height and weight input for easy set up
  • Battery saving mode turns screen off after 20 seconds of inactivity; continues tracking all activity
  • Displays current day’s activity and stores up to 14 days in memory

  • The app worked pretty well and synced easily, which is important to me because that was a deal-breaker for other stuff I've tried.  They also improved on the physical design of this device.  The older model was annoying to keep clipped on, but this one holds on much better!  It's also smaller and more... attractive?... than the older model.

    Some screenshots:

    The above was only for part of the day (I didn't wear it to the gym due to me being forgetful)!  I know I still gotta work on moving more, though!

    FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of this product to review but was not otherwise compensated for a positive review.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015


    It has taken me over a year to finally discuss this topic. 

    I debated posting something but then figured that someone might benefit from reading it at some point, as I tried to find similar posts when I was in need to them, only to find there weren't many.

    Yes, diabetes. 

    It is no secret that I (like many people) have a sweet tooth, and I've had my fair share of meals and treats with my friends and my husband that probably warrant a welcome sign for blood sugar issues.  However, I never really worried about it because,

    a) I've generally been pretty active and am of a normal weight
    b) I know of nobody in my family with blood sugar issues, and
    c) I attend health screenings like a good corporate worker and had great results each time.

    So about a year ago, I was gaping at the screen when I saw my gestational diabetes screening come back wayyyyy off the charts.  This is that test that all the "healthy living bloggers" whine about where you have to drink some sweet drink at the end of the second trimester, but I came into it just knowing I'd pass and move along, no big deal.  But I'm glad I wasn't being a know-it-all and tried to ditch it. 

    I got a call from my doctor the following business day, who was pretty much like, "Yeahhhhh... it is pointless to do a longer test."  My first reaction was, unsurprisingly, "WHY me?!"  Unlike many pregnant people, I actually ate a lot better than normal because I had a very nauseous first trimester and never quite got my usual cravings after that.  I was also still pretty active at that point.  So I kept trying to rationalize as I was sitting in a class where they played cheezy videos of pregnant women measuring out tortillas, rice, and pasta in little cups.

    This brings me to one of my first hurdles in all of this, which was getting over the stigma of diabetes.  Most folks I knew who were diabetics were Type 2 and overweight, and while I know the gestational kind is different, I couldn't help but notice there was only one other woman that was my size in the class, and the rest, well, appeared to be overweight.  Out in the world, I tried to keep quiet about my diagnosis, but inevitably there was that awkward moment when someone would push food on the pregnant lady and finally I'd have to explain that it wouldn't be a good idea.  When they'd find out, I'd get comments like, "Maybe you ate a lot of carbs in your first trimester," or "Oh, but you're always so healthy" as if something I did caused this scary condition.

    Maybe "scary" is a strong word to use, but when you're a first-time mom-to-be armed with Google, everything is scary.  My "research" told me that while I was in good company, only around 8-10% of pregnant women get this.  I should also add that only 10% of pregnancies end up with your water breaking before labor, so I guess I just hit some weird bulls-eyes. 

    A throwback! I think this was about 4-5 weeks pre-baby.

    Anyway, as I started following the food plan and testing my blood sugar four (yes, four, some days more) times a day, I started seeing that something did indeed happen when I "messed up."  My blood sugar would spike on completely random stuff like beans, but I could eat Chicago style pizza with no problems.  I ended up eating a lot of protein, and I often ate the same breakfast, lunch and dinner in controlled portions.  For a pregnant person, let me tell you, that sucked, especially when "pumpkin" season came, and I couldn't really have anything.  I also had to walk after meals when I could, which was rough sometimes, but I was lucky that I never needed to go on insulin because my doctors were okay with my logs. 

    Things I ate a lot of: nuts, nut butters, meat, cheese, Greek yogurt (only ones with a certain carb/protein ratio), low-carb bread (I could only have 1 slice, at breakfast), controlled portions of rice at dinner, vegetables, Nature Valley Protein Bars, full-fat ice cream or Cool Whip in controlled portions and paired with cheese, basically anything had to be paired with protein
    Things I avoided: desserts (duh) besides small bites, most Asian food (sad!), juice or any sweetened beverage (I also avoided artificial sweeteners, but that was my choice), beans (including hummus), corn, breads/wraps, fruit for the most part (and I really could have used more prunes...), potatoes over a certain portion, oatmeal, cereal, basically anything that was a normal part of my diet beforehand

    When Baby Tuesday was born, his blood sugar was perfect!  He was heavier than other babies born in my family, but I think that had more to do with all the fluid I received during my long hospital stay, since by the time we left, he was barely 7 lb.  They never bothered testing me after I was first admitted, they fed me all sorts of carb-y goodness in the hospital, and I ate 75% of an entire cake in the days that followed (mostly during the night when I was up nursing a lot).  A couple of months later, I passed all the follow-up tests and more recently, passed my corporate wellness screening with no problem. 

    I will need to do parts of the tests again once a year, so the story isn't over.  In fact, I was told that my risk of eventually becoming diabetic is something like 50% greater than the general population.  That... is scary.  Thus, I've been trying to avoid overdoing it on the sugar (working on it! -- tough when you're sleepless, though!) and staying active.  I'm not sure how this will all play into whether I cut meat out of my diet again, whether I will run long distances again, or even whether I will ever swallow a running gel again.  So more to come, for sure.

    If you are in this same boat and found this post on Google or something, here's my advice to you:

    • don't freak out
    • it's the overall numbers that matter, not one meal or even a couple
    • don't feel bad if you need medication; having too-high blood sugar is way worse
    • target blood sugar guidelines are so varied between practices, so it seems like not a lot is known about this condition
    • all those needle stick marks did eventually disappear from my fingers (use the sides to test) -- also, the first few tests suck, but then you get used to it
    • Babycenter, for all the weirdos on there, was a good portal of information
    • people will say a lot of dumb things, but as far as I was able to research, this is caused by a poor interaction between the pancreas and the placenta blocking stuff, so in other words, not your fault at all
    • if you're a first-time mom-to-be, consider this the first of many things that will be out of your control in your motherhood journey -- a co-worker who had to do lovenox injections during her pregnancy shared this with me when I confided in her, and it really helped me cope

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015


    It has been a while since my last update.  Free time is such a luxury these days, and I'm pretty sure I will never complain about being bored again.

    First, there's work.  I started a new job a few months ago, and although I really, really wanted to find something that would cut my commute, I'll just take what I can get for now.  There's a definite learning curve, and it can get kind of consuming sometimes, not ideal for a [very tired] new mom who is still waiting to sleep a full night (or close?) after a year of pregnancy and baby wake-ups.

    While I'm on the "mom" topic, Baby Tuesday is NINE months old (cue the feels!).  He has been crawling (on his belly) everywhere and pulling up to stand.  No longer is it possible to watch TV while he lays or plays quietly, which makes binge-watching on Netflix kind of impossible.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was slammed by a stomach bug, and afterward, I was only pumping half of what the little guy takes in while I'm at work.  I thought I was okay with this, but then I imagined having to mix a bottle every time I'd normally just nurse him, and I don't even know how that would work!  So I've been back to oats and flax and teas and cookies and all the stuff I was eating in the early days.  I have no idea how long I'll keep at it, but let's just say I look forward to when he can have regular milk.  I keep hearing about a "PPD2" that comes with weaning, which makes me want to nurse him until he's 5.  Okay, so that's extreme, but mannn, I don't know if I can handle another hormone crash.  When the time comes, maybe I'll just start running a lot to see if that helps counteract it.

    On that note, I am so thankful to have been able to keep up a fitness routine.  It's the only thing that keeps me sane these days, and it's only possible due to a gym being right near my work and sneaking in stuff on the weekends during naps.  After some bidding wars on eBay, I got the Ogio X Fit bag because my temporary cheap bags that I took to the gym literally fell apart. 

    It has a few features that really drew me to it:

    - hard zippered pocket on the top (I store my work badge and phone in there)
    - ventilated separate shoe compartment
    - towel/mat holder on side (to roll up my towel)
    - outside front zipper pocket (for toiletries)
    - a sternum strap and random places on the outside that I could use for things like this D-clip that I use for my lock and headband

    It pretty much fits the bill in terms of storing what I need, and I love that I can roll my towel up on the side and have a separate shoe compartment -- all while taking care of my back.  Once the shoes are in there, the main compartment doesn't have that much room, but it is just enough for a few pieces of clothing.  There is an area for a tablet, which I use to store underthings and dry shampoo, two smaller mesh pockets where I store my iPod and face wipes, and then the rest is one big compartment where my actual gym clothes go.

    I'm hoping to do a 10K or half-marathon by the end of the year, but I'm having trouble finding one that doesn't require a long drive or waking up supremely early.  I've become pretty accustomed to running 3 miles at a time, which is mostly what I have time for right now, but I think I am fit enough to do more (thanks, Insanity!).  The baby seems to be nearly strong enough to ride in the jogging stroller now, but I think I'm going to have to work up to that and figure out scheduling and stuff.

    FTC Disclaimer: I purchased the Ogio bag on my own and was not compensated to provide a positive review.