Fitbit Charge HR

Both Vishnu and I have been using Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracking devices since January.  Now, I know what you’re thinking – “You never mentioned this on the blog.”  Yes, I kept my Fitbit a big secret!  But I promise it was for a good reason!  I wanted to use it for a few months before sharing my thoughts.

Fitbit1
Like everything else, our Fitbits come with a back story!  It all started when Vishnu declared that he wanted a Fitbit.  I told him to go for it, but that I definitely wasn’t interested.  I didn’t need a tracking device to motivate me to workout (or so I thought!).  Well, to make a long story short, Vishnu ordered the small band for himself.  It ended up being too small, so he suggested I keep it.  After playing with it for a bit, I unexpectedly fell in love.  And Vishnu ended up ordering a larger Fitbit for himself.

To this day, I don’t know if Vishnu made a true mistake when ordering or if he did that on purpose so that I would end up getting a Fitbit too.  He claims it was a mistake, but I’m just not convinced!

Fitbit2

So this isn’t going to be a comprehensive review of the Fitbit Charge HR.  I’m not super techie, so I’m pretty sure a technical review from me would help no one!   If that’s what you’re looking for, I highly recommend you check out the following sites…

Instead, I want to share the everyday user perspective, specifically the good and the not so good as well as behavior changes/lessons learned.
Fitbit3
Let’s start with the good…

  • The caller ID feature is pretty cool.  Basically, if you get a call and your phone is close by but not accessible, your Fitbit vibrates and the name of whoever is calling shows up on the screen.
  • This Fitbit can serve as a watch.  In fact, on a day to day basis, I hardly wear my actual watch anymore.
  • The sleep tracker is helpful at a high level.  In the beginning, I looked at my sleep patterns every day.  Now that it’s been a few months, I hardly take a look.  But if you’re a light/poor sleeper, this may be a helpful feature.  It doesn’t give very detailed data, but I’ve found that the information it does provide is fairly accurate.
  • The Fitbit app is a great tool.  I love all the chart and graphs and the built in GPS feature.  It’s very convenient.
  • Battery life has not been an issue for us.  I usually charge my Fitbit when I shower, and even that small amount of time is enough to make it last a few days.
  • I like how Fitbit fosters friendly competition among its users.  There’s a feature in the app that allows you to add friends and see their seven day step count.  Not sure how many people it actually motivates, but knowing exactly how much other people are moving definitely motivates me to increase my activity.
  • The built in heart rate monitor (the HR in the Charge HR) is a really neat feature in this Fitbit model.  If you want to understand the technology behind it, check out the reviews I linked to.  Basically, the device uses your wrist pulse to assess your heart rate, and from the very unscientific tests I’ve run, it’s fairly accurate.  This feature also allows the Fitbit to calculate your daily caloric burn with a fair degree of accuracy using your age, height, and weight along with your heart rate from throughout the day.

The not so good…

  • I’ve found that the step counter is not always accurate.  It does a good job counting steps when you’re actually moving your legs, but I’ve learned that it also counts steps when you’re sitting/standing.  For example, I somehow went from 4,000 steps to over 10,000 all while driving to Savannah.  I also seem to accumulate a lot of steps while chopping vegetables and washing dishes.  I get that it’s not designed to be precise, but it can get a little annoying sometimes!  This also goes to show that the Fitbit data should be looked at as more of a trend than anything else.  It gives you a big picture view of how active you are, not an exact one. 
  • The physical design of the device has grown on me, but it’s still a little too clunky.  I wish it was a bit sleeker, especially for those of us with smaller wrists.
  • If you’re the type of person who needs instant feedback, don’t rely on the Fitbit app to provide that for you.   While the content is great, it takes forrrrever to update!

Fitbit4
Behavior changes/lessons learned

To be honest, I don’t know if the Fitbit has changed my behavior much in terms of activity level.  However, I will say that it’s been an extra source of motivation on days where I’m teetering on the edge of “should I workout today or not.”  Not going to lie, meeting and sometimes even exceeding your step goal for the day is a great feeling!  And for the numbers people like me, it’s nice to see the facts and figures.

Regularly wearing a Fitbit has also been eye-opening.  On days where I don’t intentionally exercise and just flow through my normal routine (go to work, come home, cook dinner, etc.), I barely hit 5,000 steps!!!  If that doesn’t push you to move more, I don’t know what will.

As far as Vishnu is concerned, I honestly haven’t seen much of a change in him.  As much as he wanted a Fitbit, he’s not as into it as I am (go figure!).  I’m hoping that having a more normal/structured routine come July will help in this department!  This just goes to show that a Fitbit alone is not good enough to change behavior.  Your own internal motivation plays a much bigger role!

So while this wasn’t a technical/detailed review of the Fitbit Charge HR, I hope it provided good, practical information!  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Do you own a fitness tracker device?  If so, which one?

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Before I share more about the delicious Blueberry Banana Muffins I made yesterday, let’s recap the weekend:

  • After 7 long months, I finally went and got a professional pedicure.  SO needed!  I even picked a summery shade (Essie Haute in the Heat).  I’ll spare you you a picture of my feet though.  Because the internet does not need any more feet pics! 
  • We had our friends Adam and Khusbu over for dinner on Saturday night.  I made a simple Asian stir fry and Katie’s chocolate chip blondies.  A&K brought the beer and wine.  Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a fruity Pinot Noir, check out Mirassou Winery’s 2012 Pinot.  It was delicious!  As usual, we had a blast eating and talking.  Can’t wait to see them again soon at our friend Sweeti’s wedding in Detroit!
  • I cleaned my little heart out this weekend!  Nothing was spared.  Vishnu didn’t think I’d find much to donate/throw away, but I filled two large trash bags – one with junk and another with clothes/shoes.  I’m hoping my efforts will make packing a little easier.  #alreadytired

That was my weekend in three concise bullet points.

Ok, so about these muffins.  I came across the recipe while cleaning out a recipe folder I’ve had forever (I told you nothing was spared!).  Unfortunately, I have no idea who to give credit to for these tasty muffins.  The recipe I found was handwritten on a scrap piece of paper.  I did end up making a few changes to the original, so I’ll take some credit!  I subbed white whole wheat flour for all purpose, coconut oil for canola, and raw granulated sugar for brown. 

Blueberry Banana Muffins 017  
What you ultimately end up with are light, slightly sweet muffins bursting with juicy blueberries.  Muffins that would be perfect with your morning cup of coffee!  And because they are made with real/wholesome ingredients, there’s no guilt when you decide to eat two instead of one!

Blueberry Banana Muffins 012 

Blueberry Banana Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raw granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, Greek yogurt, eggs, mashed bananas, and vanilla until blended.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and ix together just until combined.  Do not over mix.  Slowly fold in the blueberries. 

Spoon the batter (~1/4 cup) into the muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes.  The muffins should appear golden brown in color.

ENJOY!

How was your weekend? 
What’s your favorite kind of muffin?

Three Things Thursday (11)

Thursday posts are quickly becoming my favorite to write because I can share whatever I want in a simple yet structured way! And it gives me a chance to talk about random updates and/or things that don’t warrant a separate post. Love it!3-Things-Thursday-BadgeWith that, here are my three things for this week…

One – Firmoo glasses

I was recently contacted by Firmoo, a global online optical store, to try out a pair of glasses. Prescription glasses at that. The ordering process was quite easy – select the frame you want, enter your prescription information, and hit submit. And for an affordable online retailer, I would say there are a decent amount of frames to choose from.

Firmoo1 
When my glasses actually came in, I was super excited. I already have a pair of Ray-Ban glasses that I love, but I figured it’d be nice to have a back-up pair. Well, to be honest, I was happy with the frame and the way it looked on me, but I was a little disappointed with how thick the lenses were. I have a VERY strong prescription and was under the impression that I’d be receiving hi-index lenses. The misunderstanding was probably my fault. But because of the thick lenses, I don’t feel comfortable wearing the glasses outside our apartment. So they truly are back-up glasses!

Firmoo2 
If you’re looking for affordable glasses, Firmoo may be for you. Just be sure to read everything thoroughly so you know what you’re getting!

Two – The Bright Side podcast

My friend Shannon introduced me to The Bright Side podcast, and I love it! In fact, during a recent 45 minute run, I listened to three episodes (each one is ~15 minutes long). If you’re into topics like work-life balance, leadership, communication, relationships, self-discovery, etc., this is the perfect podcast for you.

The Bright Side podcast 
Three – Himalayan Earthquake

By now, we’ve all heard about the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th. The last I heard over 7,500 people have lost their lives and 14,500 people are injured. I can’t even imagine…there really are no words. With every story I hear on the news, my heart breaks a little more. But what brings a tiny bit of comfort is knowing that so many people are doing what they can to support Nepal and its people.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably seen Dixya’s name pop up every now and then. She’s the blogger behind Food, Pleasure & Health and a good friend of mine. Dixya is also from Nepal. Thankfully, her family and friends are all ok, but that didn’t stop Dixya from doing everything she could to help. Over the course of just a few days, she worked with number of different people and was able to send 50+ boxes of medical supplies and essential items to Nepal. Truly incredible!

If you find yourself wanting to help/donate but are confused by all the different relief organizations out there (I definitely was), I highly recommend you donate to Dixya’s cousins fundraiser – Himalayan Earthquake – Support the Survivors. They are trying to raise $10,000 to help a village called Nuwakot that was close to the epicenter of the earthquake. All funds will help provide basic needs (food, water, shelter, etc.) to this village.

Help Nepal Fundraiser

If you don’t have the money to donate right now, that’s ok too. In that case, please share the fundraiser link with family/friends, on social media, etc. Every little bit/act counts.

That’s all I have for this week!  Not sure if a Friday post will happen or not yet.  We have a big regional work meeting today and tomorrow, so we shall see.  If I don’t check back in, have a wonderful weekend!

Your turn to share – what are three things you’ve been thinking about/doing this week! If you’re a blogger, write a post and link back to one or all of the hostesses: Raj from Pink Chai Living, Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, or Salma from The Write Balance. Then share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page).

5 Ways I’ve Learned to Make Time

Almost three months ago, I wrote a post about shifting my language from “I don’t have time” to the “I don’t make time.”   And over the past few months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make time, especially for the things that make my soul sing!

Now, this is no easy task for someone with a take charge and [kind of!] dominant personality like mine.  I’m sure Vishnu could say a lot more about this, but I’ll stop there!

In my quest to make more time, I’ve learned some universal things.  What I do think can vary from person to person is consistency.  Nothing is going to change overnight.  Staying consistent with your habits/decisions is absolutely key.

5 Ways to Make time

With that, here are the 5 ways I’ve learned to make time.

Give up on perfection.
As I’ve blogged about numerous times before, perfect does not exist.  And as I’ve learned over the past few months, doing the best you can is usually the best way to do things.  I’m not 100% there yet, but so far, when I’ve been able to let go of perfection, only good things/feelings have happened.  As hippie and cliché as it sounds, I really do feel lighter and happier!

And there’s no easy way to do this.  The one (and only) thing that’s worked for me is to have an internal dialogue about the illusion of perfect whenever crazy thoughts pop into my head.  I’m always reminding myself that perfect does not exist and that no one expects me to be perfect or do everything perfectly.  With time, the internal dialogue sticks and becomes a way of life.

Learn to delegate.
Have I ever mentioned that I’m a bit of a control freak?  People like me don’t want to delegate.  They want to do everything themselves, and in the process, they drive everyone around them crazy!

While at work, you’re kind of forced to delegate and all that, but at home…well, that’s a different story.  Me being me, I didn’t necessarily choose to delegate household duties to Vishnu.  I was forced to.  I kept finding myself in situations where there was no time to do everything that needed doing and keep my sanity.  I was also starting to feel slightly resentful that I was the one taking care of everything…even though it was completely my choice.

Well, one day I broke down and asked Vishnu to go to the store to get our groceries..FOR THE WEEK!  This was HUGE!  All in all, it turned out ok.  Did he get things that weren’t on the list?  Yes.  Did he buy the more expensive tomato sauce?  Sure did.  But was I able to save/make an hour of time that wouldn’t have otherwise been mine?  YES!  And that’s when it dawned on me.  Delegation (which is not “do exactly what I tell you how I tell you” as I’ve learned) is one of the best ways to make time.  Now I delegate lots of things – cleaning the bathroom, folding the laundry, washing the dishes, etc!!  I haven’t asked yet, but I don’t think Vishnu minds my newfound skill.  Happy wife, happy life.  Right?!

Prioritize your to do list
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve learned that not everything is an urgent priority.  I try my best to schedule things according to how important they are.  For example, in my paper planner (yes I’m one of those people!), I don’t list my entire week’s to do list under one day.  I look at when something needs to get done by and how much time it’s going to take and schedule accordingly.

I’m also much more cognizant about not letting the Parita-centric priorities fall to the wayside.  These would be to dos that fall under the “important but not urgent” list (working out, reading, blogging, etc.).

And finally, learn to say no.  This could honestly be it’s own tip/blog post, but say no to lunches/dinners that you feel obligated to go to, say no to projects that don’t inspire you, say no to anything that doesn’t light you up.  When you start saying no, you’ll be able to say yes to the things that actually matter.

Eliminate distractions
Distractions can take many forms.  Most recently, the biggest distraction in my life came in the form of an iPhone game called 1010.  My addiction got so bad that I would delete it swearing I was done, and then hours later I would re-download it.  CRAZY!  I can’t even tell you how many hours I wasted playing this stupid game.

And while distractions can be fun and necessary in small doses, you should actively monitor how you use your time over the course of the day.  I think most of us would be surprised by how much time gets consumed by unassuming distractions.

And just for the record, I deleted the game a while back and have yet to re-download it!

Get a good night’s rest
Sleep.  It’s makes everything better/easier.

But seriously, I’ve found that when I sleep well, I’m able to focus better, I’m much more rational, and I have the energy to do the things that are important to me…like read before bed!  Makes sense though, right?  If you’re always tired, the last thing on your mind will be making time for and taking care of yourself.

How do you make time for the important stuff?

A Few Days in St. Petersburg

As I mentioned in my post on Thursday, Vishnu and I spent a portion of the weekend in St. Petersburg.  The purpose of our trip was to find an apartment and guess what…WE DID!  I was honestly a little nervous that nothing would be available for when we needed to move, but it worked out pretty nicely.  We were able to stay within our budget, and our new place is in a super cute neighborhood full of restaurants, shops, parks, etc. 

Now that we have a place and a move-in date the real work and planning begins…  But I’ll save all that for another post. 

Florida_sunset 
Gorgeous Florida sunset!

We didn’t just apartment hunt while in St. Petersburg.  We also ate some really good food. 

On Friday, we went to a place called Meze 119 for lunch.  It’s a vegetarian (with some vegan options) Greek restaurant.  The Yelp reviews I read were all pretty positive, so I knew we were in for a treat.

We got the basil pine nut hummus and zaatar bread to start.  In my opinion, the hummus could have been a little more flavorful.  It was all a little too subtle for my liking.  The creamy texture was spot on though.  The zaatar bread was perfectly toasted, and the spices sprinkled on top added a lot of rich flavor. 

Meze 119_hummus 
I also ordered the Cyprus BLT and loved the panko-crusted tomatoes, the olive tapenade, and the tempeh bacon.  Definitely something I’d order again.

Meze 119_BLT 
Vishnu ordered the Shawarma and liked it a lot.  While he loves his meat, vegetarian chicken is something he seems to be able to get on board with.  I had a bite of his sandwich and really liked how saucy it was.  Tons of curry flavor too.  We ordered the garlic potatoes with his sandwich and am so glad we did.  They weren’t super crispy, but the roasted garlic bits on top were spicy and added so much flavor.  I heard the table next to ours ask for hot sauce, so I followed suit.  You guys.  I wish they sold this stuff by the bottle.  The sauce had a spicy smoky vinegary tang.  So good!

Meze 119_Shawarma 
Later that night, we went to The Refinery for dinner.  All credit goes to Vishnu for finding this place and making a reservation.  He was a little nervous that I wouldn’t like it because there weren’t too many vegetarian options, but we both agreed that his was one of the most creative meals we’ve ever had.  The entire menu is made up of eclectic dishes that combine a number of very different/unique ingredients (read on for more detailed descriptions) that at first glance don’t seem like they would go together.  But of course, everything was absolutely delicious.  And the best part is that the menu changes every few days based on what the local farms can provide, so your experience will likely be completely different every time you visit.

We started with the Eggplant Blini which was essentially an eggplant puree pancake with tiny tomatoes, cucumber, radish, ricotta, and orange.  The pancake itself had a bit of Mediterrean flavor which all the other ingredients added to beautifully.  I’m going to try to recreate this at home!

The Refinery_Blini 
For my entree, I ordered the Potato, Leek, and Yellow Squash Casserole.  While this combination doesn’t sound unusual at all, the outside ingredients were plum and truffle honey.  I was shocked by how well everything came together!  The casserole was rich and creamy, the vegetables were tender, and the plum/honey combo added a subtle sweetness. 

The Refinery_Veggie Casserole 
For his entree, Vishnu ordered the Butter Burger.  Talk about crazy combinations – this burger came with all different kinds of butters, including apple-raisin butter, peanut butter, tomato butter, etc.  Our waitress highly recommended it, and Vishnu said that he could totally see why it was so popular.  As with all the other dishes, non of the flavors competed with each other.  The different components added to the overall taste in their own subtle way.

The Refinery_Burger 
Going into this meal, I told Vishnu that I didn’t want dessert.  The two options on the menu didn’t sound all that appealing to me.  Well, that all changed when our waitress (who was amazing!) took it upon herself to describe each one in detail.  I obviously and rather quickly changed my mind on the whole no dessert thing!  The best way to describe what we got is to think of a pie with a gooey brownie filling, a ginger shortbread crust, and lime whipped cream.  Sounds insanely weird but it totally worked!  The chocolate filling was dark and rich, the ginger crust was subtly spicy, and the lime whipped cream added a pop of citrus.  I really really really hope that this dessert is on the menu the next time we eat here. 

The Refinery_Chocolate Pie

So based on this trip, I think we’re going to adjust to living in St. Petersburg just fine! 

Now if only our current apartment would pack and move itself!

Happy Monday!

Do you live in a foodie city?  What’s one restaurant people should try when visiting?