Reviews

FitBit Blaze {A Review}

A few weeks ago I received a FitBit Blaze as part of a project I’m working on with Sport Chek. This post is NOT part of that project. Because I have been asked many times both in person and on social media how I am liking the Blaze, I decided to write this post.

fitbit blaze 24/7 activity tracker review

When I first started talking with Sport Chek, they offered me either the FitBit Blaze, or the Alta. Despite the fact that the Blaze is now on my wrist, I initially requested the Alta. You see, I already have my Polar M400 and the TomTom Spark I got only a few months back so it seemed foolish to get yet another fitness watch. Especially since my Polar is still my preferred running training computer, and my TomTom is great for both teaching and long walks (since it has a built in music player and fits a bit more comfortably on my wrist). And then there is my regular non-fitness watch that I wear on the weekends and when I’m out. I just didn’t make sense to get another watch. Whereas the Alta was simply an upgrade from my FitBit Flex which I’ve been wearing for years regardless of which watch I had on the other wrist.

So why do I now have the Blaze? Because they sent it to me by mistake. When I opened the package¬†and saw the Blaze I realized they had made a mistake, but seeing it in person I was also a bit like, “Ohhhhhhh, it looks so nice!!” So I did what any logical person in 2016 with an iPhone would do. I asked Google if I could have more than one FitBit attached to the same account. And the answer was yes. Not only that, but once you have two FitBit devices on your account it will detect which one you are using so you can switch from one to the other without having to do anything within the app or the website.

fitbit blaze 24/7 activity tracker review

That sealed the deal. I emailed them and said that I had received the Blaze, but now that I wanted to keep it. This way, those times when I wanted to wear a different watch I could pop my FitBit Flex back on without losing any of those precious FitBit steps. ūüėČ

So I set it up and put it on, and took my Flex off. One thing you should know is that I wear my watch on my left wrist, and my FitBit was always on my right wrist, so moving to the Blaze meant for the first time in years I had a naked right wrist. That might not seem like a big deal, but in the past few years my fibromyalgia has started bothering my arm joints more than anything else so I regularly have wrist pain. That pain is often worse on my right side than my left (which is odd since I’m left handed), so having a bare right arm was immediately enjoyable.

I feel badly saying this, but since putting the Blaze on my wrist, I haven’t worn any other watches – including my Michael Kors watch, or put my FitBit Flex back on.

fitbit blaze 24/7 activity tracker review

The band is so comfortable, and it’s sporty while being stylish so I don’t feel like I’m wearing a clunky sports watch if I’m wearing it on on the weekend. I’m sure as time goes on I’ll start incorporating the others back into a rotation, but right now I’m pretty smitten.

The strap is flexible and comfortable. The size small on my tiny wrist fits snug without me putting it on the smallest setting.

After using the FitBit Flex for so long (which only has 5 lights that light up as your step count increases during the day) it was nice to be able to see exactly how many steps I have without having to open the website or the app on my phone.¬†It’s also cool to have a constant heart rate reading. In the past I’ve poo-pooed wrist heart rate watches because they made you stop and put your fingers on a sensor to read your heart rate. I should have know technology had moved past that, and instead this uses LED lights to read your heart rate automatically. I’m sure they’ve been doing that for a while since I know the Force also tracks your heart rate.

It also explains what that flashing light I use to see when I took my TomTom off was, I guess I’m a bit slow to pick up on the LED heart rate tracking game. Anyway, if you have been wondering how these devices track your heart rate, that’s how.

The Blaze has some other fun features like FitStar which has pre-programmed workouts you can follow, a stopwatch and timer, alarms, workout tracking (which it really does automatically so I have yet to track an actual workout since mine have all been classes Рbut this would come in really handy during runs, bike rides, walks and whatnot).

Additionally, you can receive your texts messages and accept or decline phone calls right from your watch face which is fun – but remember your phone’s bluetooth must be left on in order for that to work.

fitbit blaze 24/7 activity tracker review

I have yet to try controlling your iPhone music right from the Blaze. Another instructor on Facebook mentioned that that is how she starts and stops (or skips) songs in Zumba and I think that is GENIUS. I don’t use my phone for my music in classes so that sweet idea won’t work for me, but it might for you!

As I mentioned bluetooth above, this is where I’ll put my one negative comment about the Blaze. In general I’m not a fan of leaving my bluetooth on 24/7. It drains my phone battery and I really don’t need to be updated on my wrist anytime I get a text message (which is pretty often). However, in the first week of using the Blaze, there were at least two times I turned my bluetooth on to sync my data and my phone couldn’t connect to the Blaze. In both those instances I ended up having to delete it from my account and re-adding it. Not a huge deal, but a bit of a pain in the butt. But that is a software issue, not a problem with the Blaze itself, and a couple days ago¬†there was an update to the software so it’s possible this issue has already been addressed. In the meantime, I’ve been leaving my bluetooth on because it’s not very often that I am in a place where I cannot charge my phone throughout the day if needed.

So yeah, I’m pretty smitten with this little gadget. The battery lasts about 5 days on a charge, takes about 2 hours to recharge so I usually do it when I’m sitting at the computer working anyway. I’ve heard others complain that they found popping it in and out of the strap setting to charge seemed “flimsy” and that they were afraid they were going to break it, but I’ve not felt that at all. The watch frame is metal and it snaps in and out securely but not difficultly.

One of the reasons¬†such a full featured unit can last so long in one charge (in comparison, my Flex lasts about 7 days) is partly because¬†the screen goes to sleep when you aren’t looking at it. To turn the screen on you can tap the button on the side of the unit, but it will also automatically turn on when it senses you lift your arm or turn your wrist to look at it. It’s not perfect, but that works most of the time. That’s also why I don’t mind wearing it to bed since it doesn’t have a light shining all night long, plus it is easy for me to wake up and quickly look at the time without having to turn to my nightstand.

Is It Worth The Price?

That is going to be an individual decision based on your needs. If all you need/want is a tracker to see how many steps you are taking then one of the less expensive models will suit you just fine. If you want more functionality like the built in heart rate monitor, FitStar and some of the other features in a sleek watch styled unit – then yeah I’d say it’s worth $250.

I recently read this article where a man went to the ER and it was because they were able to look back at his heart rate reading via the FitBit app on his phone that they were able to quickly determine how to best treat him. Knowing that my husband has had heart issues in the past (he had to have an extra pathway in his heart ablated 1 1/2 years ago), this article really made me think about upgrading him to the FitBit Force or Blaze so that he could have that 24/7 heart info too in case he were to start having problems again.

And though I thought I didn’t think I cared about the heart rate monitor feature for myself, I’ve since changed my tune. As someone who has suffered from over-training syndrome and is still finding her way back to a fully healthy state from it, being able¬†keep a watch on my heart rate¬†to make sure my resting heart rate doesn’t do anything weird is important and I find myself checking in once a week to see whether my average resting heart rate is going up or down.

But if heart rate tracking really isn’t something that you feel you need to worry about, I’d go with the Alta because that aqua sure is beautiful! ūüėÄ

There you go – my FitBit Blaze review! I hope it answered some of the questions you might have about this cool new gadget.

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Three Foam Roller Exercises You Should Do Every Day

By now you’ve heard about foam rolling, if not from me¬†then from someone else. And if you somehow have made it this far without ever hearing about it, here is a super quick crash course.

We all experience tension in our bodies whether it be from working at a desk, on an assembly line, exercise, sitting a certain way, from previous injuries, etc. When we experience chronic tension or tightness, adhesions form on muscles, tendons and ligaments which can cause circulatory issues, pain, limit range of motion and cause inflammation. Stretching cannot break up these adhesions, you need deep tissue work to break them up.

Most of us don’t have the funds or the time to go for daily deep tissue massages. At least I don’t! That’s why a foam roller can be your best friend. For a one-time investment that is less than one trip to the masseuse, you can buy a foam roller that will be able to start breaking up those adhesions and return circulation the affected areas right from the comfort of your home.

Now I won’t lie to you, deep tissue massage whether from a set of skilled hands or a foam roller is not a relaxing zen-like experience. It flipping hurts. Especially at first when those areas are so inflamed and sore to the touch. But the goods news is that like with the foot relfexology which I wrote about last week, it takes only a few sessions for the pain to begin to lesson.

In a perfect world we would all have time to spend a good half an hour or so foam rolling each day after a nice walk or workout to help break up those adhesions and prevent new ones from forming while providing the rest of our muscles with a nice relaxing message – but in case you hadn’t noticed, we don’t live in a perfect world. That is why today I want to show you the three foam roller exercises you can¬†should be doing everyday, and they will take a total of about 10 minutes to do – so you can easily fit this in during commercial breaks of a 30-minute TV show.

The three foam roller exercises you should be doing every day.

(click the image from your desktop to pin for later)

I’ve chosen these three exercises based on my experience both personally and as a trainer as the foam roller exercises that are the most needed¬†for¬†the majority of the people I’ve¬†coached.

In case you are wondering why you should listen to me, I completed a self-myofascial release programming course a few years ago so I do have professional training on this subject. 

Those three areas are the back, the ITB and the glutes.

Does it matter what kind of foam roller you use? Yes and no. If you are just starting out and have never foam rolled before, grabbing one of the less expensive foam rollers is a good place to start. The problem with those, is they are made of a lower density foam so over time will start to warp. My first foam roller now is compressed in the middle making look more like an hour glass than a cylinder.

The three foam roller exercises you should be doing every day.

My first foam roller and I having some quality time after a long run

What’s more, those less expensive rollers tend to be perfectly flat on the surface. You might wonder why that matters, well when you are foam rolling, remember you are working adhesions to improve blood flow. Yet when foam rolling with a roller that is flat on the surface, you are actually slowing blood flow even more as you “mush” (a very technical term there, haha) the foam roller into your muscles. When you use a foam roller with grooves and channels like the Trigger Point GRID, there are always areas where the blood can continue to flow and circulate while you are working. That makes it more effective, and the grooves and channels on the GRID are strategically placed to better mimic an actual massage.

The three foam roller exercises you should be doing every day.

The long narrow sections are there to mimic fingers, the wider section the palm, and in small squares you cannot see in the above photo mimic fingertips.

At this point is should come as no surprise that I highly recommend Trigger Point’s GRID Foam Rollers. I’ve had the original GRID for quite a while and love it so much. I had learned about the GRID at a fitness conference years ago, but never had the opportunity to try – and feel the difference – until I bought my own. The difference between it and my old foam roller is like the difference between night and day. It is so far superior I cannot even believe it.

And then last month Trigger Point sent me the new GRID X (pictured above) which is twice as firm as the original. Oh my gosh, once again – the difference is unbelievable. The GRID X is definitely a much firmer roller, and for that reason I would suggest starting out with the original GRID before upping the intensity.

Starting out you are going to find foam rolling painful to begin with as you first start to break up those adhesions, so you’ll want to do it with a less dense roller. Once you’ve worked out those initial areas and are starting to feel a bit better when rolling, then I would recommend moving up to the GRID X if you want to increase the intensity level.

In today’s video I’m going to be using the GRID X to demonstrate the three exercises, but¬†the exercises will be the same regardless of which roller you choose to use.

It’s really important to remember to breathe while on your foam roller – resist the urge to hold your breathe! And if you find a spot that is really, really sore, only stay there for a couple seconds. Each time you roll it will get a little bit less sore and you’ll be able to stay there longer. And finally, make sure you can recognize the difference between muscular pain and mechanical pain. When using your foam roller you should expect muscular pain, but if the pain feels like it might be mechanical, stop what you are doing and be sure to consult a health care professional before returning to foam rolling!

In the coming months I am going to be releasing an “At-Home Fascia Release E-Course” which will provide a much more in-depth explanation on foam rolling, different exercises you can do with the foam roller and other fascia release tools. If you are interested in being kept in the loop about that e-course, be sure to sign up for my e-mail list!

Amazon.ca links:

Amazon.com links:

Disclosure: Trigger Point sent me with the GRID X foam roller free of charge, but I purchased the GRID with my own money and truly recommend Trigger Point rollers over others on the market. This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through one of these links you are helping to support this site Рthank you!

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Reflexology Made Easy With FootFixx

Did I ever tell you that back in¬†my days as an office dweller, when my fibromyalgia was at it’s worst and I could barely make it through the day I took a course on reflexology? It was one of the first things I did on my journey to living a happier, healthier life.¬†Was it life changing? I’m not sure about that, but I did learn a lot about my body and how I can help take better care of it through my feet.¬†Anyway, reflexology is something that¬†I realize I have stopped practising over the past 5 or 6 years, and it wasn’t until last month¬†that I began¬†bringing it back into my life. It all started when FlexFixx contacted me about checking out their FootFixx Massage Therapy tools.

FootFixx is a set of myo-fascial release and reflexology tools that allows you to easily release tension built up in your feet while at the same time reflexing the nerve endings in your feet that correspond with different parts of your body - all at once!

Because I am a huge fan of fascia release tools (especially ones made by Canadians!) I quickly said I would love to check out FootFixx. When it arrived they sent me their user guide along with the product, and it was inside the user guide I became re-invested in the idea of reflexology.

You see, the thing about practising reflexology on yourself is that it is pretty exhausting. I find it hard on the fingers and while my feet felt better afterwards, my hands were often left feeling sore and painful Рdefinitely not the result you ultimately want. So while my initial interest in FootFixx was for fascia release, the idea that these tools could also provide reflexology treatments at the same time was a definite bonus! The very first night with FootFixx, I got out my reflexology manual so I could pin point all the super sore spots on my feet.  When I did I was amazed  that the spots on my feet that hurt the most, related to the parts of my body that had been giving me the most problems as of late. Those places being my back (spine) and stomach/intestines. I say I was surprised Рand I was, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

The first few times I used the FootFixx balls I could barely put any pressure on probably 50% of my feet because they were sore and tender. I knew going into this that I had one area on my left foot that had “something” wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure if it was a pressure fracture or a fascia issue from wearing worn out sneakers. After only two or three sessions with the FootFixx balls that pain was gone. And as any fitness instructor can tell you, having a pain you fear is a fracture disappear is in itself a huge stress reliever!

FootFixx is a set of myo-fascial release and reflexology tools that allows you to easily release tension built up in your feet while at the same time reflexing the nerve endings in your feet that correspond with different parts of your body - all at once!

Now after a few weeks of using the system almost daily, I’m down to just a couple spots on each foot that are still really tender. These three balls have made a huge difference in my life and how my feet – and body feel in just a few short week.¬†And those spots that are still tender are now primarily focused in my intestines, which makes a lot of sense as I typically have an IBS flair-up in the spring time.

But reflexology aside, FootFixx is wonderful for massaging tired, achy feet and helping to release that bunched up fasica. Not only does it provide three different options for relaxing and rejuvenating your feet, but it also is wonderful for people suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, and other foot related ailments.

When the fascia in your feet are tight and bunched up, it can throw off your entire body. Envision an elastic that runs from your foot, up your leg, up your torso and down your arm. What happens when you pull at the elastic and tie it in a knot down at the bottom? It pulls everything else slightly out of place. That’s why sometimes you can have a pain in your hip and think there is something wrong with it, only to find out the problem is actually with your opposite knee. Or your hamstring is off because your pectoral is too tight. It’s all interconnected!

And while this is promoted as primarily for your feet, you can use them elsewhere for fasica release as well. Later this spring/early summer I am going to be releasing a fascia release & foam rolling e-course, in which I will teach you how to use these balls as well a couple other tools to help release full body tension and fascia! Be sure to sign up for my e-mail list if you want to be kept in the loop for that an other upcoming e-courses!

I’ve also found it to be really beneficial for my fibromyalgia. I can certainly tell the nights I use it from the night when I don’t. Last night I was feeling lazy and didn’t bother rolling out my feet before bed, and I spent all night tossing and turning because my arms and legs hurt so much. I can’t say for certain that had I used FootFixx that I would have slept better, but I know that on the nights I do use it, I tend to have a more restful sleep. Even if it’s a placebo effect, I’m quite content as long as I sleep!

As far as these types of massage and myo-fascia release tools go, FootFixx is definitely one of the more affordable and easy to purchase since it is sold on Amazon. For my US readers here is the direct link to their listing and for my fellow Canadians, you can order from Amazon.ca by clicking here.

But wait! The lovely folks at FlexFixx want to give my readers an even better deal so they are offering you all a coupon code for an additional 15% off your order! Simply enter the coupon code SUZIBLOG at checkout.

I hope you’ll consider checking out FootFixx, if you are active¬†or spend a lot of time on your feet, you really owe it to yourself to take the time to take care of them. You never know, you might find that rolling your feet can¬†cure some of those other body

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for FootFixx Massage Therapy. All opinions expressed above are 100% honest and entirely my own.

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Lick Your Plate Cookbook

I’m a book girl. I love to read, I love looking at books, organizing books, collecting books, and using books. And since I’m a food and fitness blogger it should come as no surprise that I love me a good cookbook.

A few weeks ago I received a copy of the new cookbook “Lick Your Plate” by Julie Albert & Lisa Gnat which is a visual delight just based on it’s photography alone!

lick your plate is a cookbook made for every home cook and is filled with recipes sure to delight the whole family!

One of my biggest beefs with cookbooks is when they don’t have good photos, or even worse – any photos. As I am always looking to improve my own photography skills, I find myself paying more attention to food photographs in the cookbooks I have, and Lick Your Plate is visually stunning. Every photo in the book is beautiful and showcases the recipes to perfection!

But I know you’re not here to hear about the photos! Lick Your Plate is touted as “A Lip Smackin’ Book Tor Every Home Cook” and I think that is pretty accurate description. The recipes are simple but impressive, any are perfect for any busy at-home cook looking to feed their family fast, healthy, and delicious food.

lick your plate is a cookbook made for every home cook and is filled with recipes sure to delight the whole family!

The first time I looked through it I saw so many recipes to try I had to go get a pad of sticky tabs, and now it’s a rainbow of marked pages.

Some of the recipes I am really looking forward to trying include the:

But believe me, I have about 20 other recipes marked to try as well. It’s going to take me a while to work my way through this one! Which is great because I normally only find a handful of recipes that interest me in any one cookbook. To find so many right off the top was really exciting!

The cookbook is broken up into 10 chapters which cover everything from No Fork Required Appetizers, to Rule the Roost Chicken & Turkey, to Rise & Shine Brunch and everything in between!

The past few weeks have been pretty crazy over here so I sadly haven’t had a chance to test out the recipes, but based on what I’ve seen, I’ll be very surprised if I don’t love them. They use fresh whole ingredients, are straight forward and easy to follow, and sound downright amazing!

This would make an amazing Mother’s Day gift for any ladies in your life who enjoy cooking, or for anyone who likes to spend time in the kitchen.

Lick Your Plate was released on March 29th and is available to purchase on Amazon (affiliate link).

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Lick Your Plate free of charge.

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AfterShokz Bluez 2S Wireless Headphones Review + Giveaway

TGIF friends! And it’s especially a nice TGIF for me because I am taking most of next week off for a little mental (and physical) health break! Teaching fitness classes and coaching and blogging is all fun and I have no complaints about how I get to earn a living, but girlfriend needs some time off now and again! Everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to be doing on my vacation, and really besides a couple dates with friends and a few movies on Netflix and onDemand, the answer is not much. One thing I want to really concentrate on this spring/summer is finishing all the online courses I’ve registered for and not completed. And a big part of that is watching videos and listening to lectures online, which I’m hoping to get a jump start on next week. That’s where today’s post come in! I was sent a set of AfterShokz Bluez 2S Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones this week, which are making it really easy for me to listen to lectures and podcasts on the go without everyone in the room having to listen along with me!

The Bluez 2S AfterShokz wireless bone conduction headphones allow you to listen to music while still being able to hear what is going on around you making them a fantastic (And safe) choice for fitness activities like runners, cycling and more.

I have a pair of traditional headphones that I keep at my desk when my husband and I are both working at the same time, but I find they hurt where they wrap around my head and really aren’t all that comfortable. And earbuds and I have always had a love hate relationship. I’ve got really small ear holes (is there a more technical term for that? haha) so unless they come with different rubber covers to adjust to different ear sizes they are in general pretty uncomfortable.

That’s what makes the AfterShokz Bluez 2S so different -they don’t actually go in your ears! Instead they rest just outside your ears on your cheek bones and the bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones. This means you can listen to your music or audiobooks or podcasts, but still be able to hear what is going on around you at the same time!
The Bluez 2S AfterShokz wireless bone conduction headphones allow you to listen to music while still being able to hear what is going on around you making them a fantastic (And safe) choice for fitness activities like runners, cycling and more.

I know, it sounds crazy, but now that I’ve tried them I really like them! They are more comfortable that traditional headphones and don’t go in my ear so¬†the size of the speaker isn’t any issue. At first I was concerned that there would be a lot of sound leakage (you know, when you can hear everything that is happening in someone else’s headphones), but was pleasantly surprised at how little sound leakage there actually is. You can certainly hear bits and pieces coming from the headphones, but¬†nothing compared to what I first imagined.

As a runner, and a runner who has notoriously had issues with headphones while running, I don’t think these would work for me in that regard. They aren’t adjustable, and while there is an adjustable tension band included to provide a more secure fit, I have a tiny head (my brother would tell you I¬†have a head like a ping pong ball…) so even with the band the fit is fairly loose. However, I would have no issues wearing this on a walk or hike, or on a bike ride -I especially think these would be great for cyclists because of the open ear design (in case you are worrying about getting them wet from sweating, they are IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust and moisture). Chances are the most typical use for me will be general¬†(non athletic) but it’s nice to have these on standby should I ever actually take up cycling like I keep saying I am.

The triangular button you can see on the side in the above photos is the multi-function button which easily allows you to play or pause music, skip songs, answer or end a phone call, redial and a number of other calling functions without ever having to get out your phone. Pretty cool! And in case you are afraid you’ll get lost in all the functions when using the Bluez 2S, they also come equipped with¬†Audrey Says‚ĄĘ which¬†provides voice prompts to help you along the way.

The Bluez 2S AfterShokz wireless bone conduction headphones allow you to listen to music while still being able to hear what is going on around you making them a fantastic (And safe) choice for fitness activities like runners, cycling and more.

On the underside you’ll find the micro USB port for charging. One full charge will¬†give you 6 hours of continuous play, or 10 days of standby time. This is also where you will find the power button and the volume controls. It’s taken me a few tries to get use to adjusting the volume from below (my other wireless headphones have the controls on top so it’s been a bit of a learning curve), but¬†that’s a pretty minor learning curve.

I haven’t had the chance to try out all the features yet but so far those I’ve used I’ve found user friendly. And because I’ve been enjoying my Bluez 2S Headphones so much I’m delighted that they have offered to give one of YOU your very own pair!

To Enter: Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below.

Please make sure to follow the directions provided, I do check entries and any who do not follow the rules will be deleted.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the USA.

Good luck!!

Disclosure: I was provided with the Bluez 2S Wireless Headphones in exchange for this post. All opinions are entirely my own.

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