Fitbit Charge Review: Every Step Counts

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Fitbit through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Fitbit, all opinions are my own.

FitbitLogo_400pxI recently received a Fitbit Charge to review on F&F, and I’m excited to share my experience with this nifty little tracker with you guys today.

Fitbit Charge Review

I have to be completely honest and admit upfront that I wasn’t sure how I’d like using an activity tracker, mainly because I am not technologically inclined at ALL. I’ve tried tracking various things in the past such as my meals on LoseIt or my steps through the American Heart Association’s get walking now website. Most recently, I’ve tried tracking my progress with heavy lifting at the gym, and even though this was resorting back to the old-school way of pen and paper, I still couldn’t do it. Each and every time I’ve started to track something, I’ve inevitably stopped. So when I received the Fitbit Charge, I was skeptical, but I forced Tim to set it all up for me (because no way would I try to set up something myself) before I began using it.

Fitbit Charge Review

Here are some of the Charge’s main features:

  • All-day activity: The Charge tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, and active minutes.
  • Watch and display: The wristband displays time, daily stats, and exercise mode.
  • Caller ID: If your phone is nearby, the watch will display incoming call notifications.
  • Long battery life: The battery life of this tracker is 7-10 days, which is longer than a lot of other competing trackers out there. I feel like I never have to charge the Charge!
  • Auto sleep and alarms: The Charge will automatically monitor your sleep and allow you to set silent alarms.
  • Wireless syncing: This product will wirelessly and instantaneously link your stats to most smart phones and computers.

One of the things I found most eye-opening after using my Fitbit was how LITTLE I actually move throughout the day! As a full-time wellness coordinator, I’ll admit I was a bit embarrassed to discover that I came nowhere near the magical 10,000 steps a day number  that’s prescribed like medicine to maintain good health. Sure, I work HARD in the gym, but that’s just for about an hour a day, five or six days a week. The rest of my 23 hours? Despite trying to take the stairs or use my standing desk as much as possible, I’m pretty sedentary. Don’t tell anyone at work. Seriously though, it’s pretty scary. Check out this article that explains why you can’t out-exercise the harmful effects of sitting.

Standing Desk

Here are some of the biggest benefits/takeaways I got from my first month of using the Fitbit:

  • The sleep tracker! Holy moly, has this been helpful. If I had to pinpoint one of my unhealthiest areas, it would be the amount of sleep I get. I know it’s not good for me, but I tend to neglect sleep to get more things done or spend more time with Tim. The Fitbit’s sleep component will not only show you how many minutes you spend asleep, but how many minutes you were restless throughout the night. Knowing that I’ll see a number lower than 7 hours in the morning has helped me prioritize sleep a little better. I’m still not totally there, but it’s definitely an area I’ve improved on. Another interesting thing I’ve observed relating to the sleep tracker is that on nights I don’t do so great with getting enough sleep, I’m noticeably HUNGRIER the next day…and therefore more likely to grab something not so great for me…and therefore less likely to have a good workout. I always knew sleep and nutrition and workouts were closely related, but it’s been interesting to come to these conclusions on my own.
  • The Fitbit Charge has helped me simply become more aware of my daily movement patterns. I know that on days I teach in the morning, my step counts are higher just by nature of walking around the group exercise studio. I know that on days I work from home, my step counts are the lowest, as it doesn’t take much to walk from my office to my bathroom to my kitchen and back. Plus, I don’t even get to take the stairs as much when I work from home anymore either, because our stupid landlord STILL hasn’t fixed our washer and dryer in the basement! Rage.

Fitbit Charge Review

  • Because the number of steps I’m taking are now displaying on my wrist and automatically syncing to both my phone and computer, I don’t have to take any extra time to track anything myself unless I want to enter in more information via the app and/or dashboard about my activity details or food intake.
  • I’ve become more deliberate in my movement breaks throughout the day. I work on the 6th floor in my building, and I now walk the full flight of stairs up at least three times a day. I’m using the silent alarm feature to remind myself to get up and move, but I haven’t yet tried setting this to wake me up in the morning. I think it’s because I’m still traumatized from the time I overslept for my 6am class a few years ago (aka I still set three alarms in the morning now). When I started tracking my steps, I would barely hit 5,000 a day. Now I’m much closer to reaching the 10,000 on a daily basis!

Fitbit Charge Review

  • A couple of other features worth mentioning are that the wristband is comfortable and not too clunky. It feels like I’m wearing a watch, and I’m completely used to it now. Also, the Fitbit has a big community component so if you are someone who likes competition and is motivated by what others are doing, this would be perfect for you. I haven’t had a chance to play with the community part of the dashboard too much yet, but if you are using it, friend me!

If I had to pick one area where I think the Fitbit Charge falls short, it would be that not all types of workouts “count” toward daily activity steps. The Fitbit calculates walking, running, and hiking into your stats, but it doesn’t really pick up on other types of workouts  such as weight lifting, yoga, rowing, etc. I found it frustrating to slug weights around the weight room for an hour or leave the spin studio drenched in sweat, only to find my tracker up a few steps (or miles or calories!) from when I last checked it. I think you can log this stuff manually, but like I said, having to do that is usually what makes me fall off the bandwagon.

Fitbit Charge Review

So I guess the million-dollar question is whether I would recommend the Fitbit Charge, and my honest answer is that it depends! If you are looking for a wearable that is going to tell you more detailed information about all types of workouts, I would recommend opting for one that has heart rate monitoring capabilities or equates the calories and steps automatically. However, if you are just looking for a tool to give you that extra motivation to get up and move more throughout the day, then yes, I would definitely recommend getting a Fitbit because it truly is eye-opening and can help you learn a lot about your current activity levels and sleep patterns.

–Let’s chat–
Do you own a Fitbit or any kind of wearable fitness tracker? What is your experience with them? Does anyone work for a company that distributes any kind of wearables to their employees? How do you make sure that every step counts?

If you have a tracker, I’d love to see pictures on social media of you in action! Feel free to link up on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram tagging me @fitnessandfeta and using #findyourfit along with #ffholidayhustle.

Heidi Klum For New Balance: A Collision of Sport + Fashion

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Heidi Klum for New Balance through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Heidi Klum for New Balance, all opinions are my own.

A couple of months ago, I was cleaning out my closet when I realized that workout clothes make up about 50% of my wardrobe. It’s funny because I am someone who rotates through the same office clothes over and over without really caring how many times I repeat an outfit. I also couldn’t care less about wearing name brand items or buying a thousand pairs of shoes. I’d rather buy a fitness trampoline, remember? I actually JUST reluctantly bought new black flats after wearing the same pair for over a year. Whoops.

But when it comes to my gym gear, it’s a totally different story. As a fitness instructor, personal trainer, and fitness blogger, I like and want to look good. I want to look my best for members who take my class and for all of you who support my blog and use my fitness posts for motivation. Imagine if I were showing up to class in sweats and a t-shirt? Or if in every post you saw me sporting baggy and worn out clothes? Woof. (No judgment if you prefer to wear those items, it’s just not what works for me).

HKNB 1600 Squat Machine

Basically, I like to stay fit without sacrificing how I look, and I like showing people that the burn is beautiful. Sometimes fitness newbies say they don’t want to sweat or mess up their appearance, but I tell them sweating doesn’t have to mean that. Sweating helps you look good AND feel good. I definitely care more about buying and wearing name brand items for exercising than I do for anything else. I won’t fathom spending over $30 on a purse, yet I’ll spend upward of $50 on a fun workout top. I like to wear form-fitting tanks, cute zip-up jackets in bright colors, and anything that is head-turning and heart-pumping. My favorite workout bottoms are capris or crops. And don’t even get me started on sneakers. I can’t get enough!

HKNB 1600

One of the most popular athletic names you’ll find in my closet is New Balance, and recently New Balance teamed up with Heidi Klum to launch their new Heidi Klum for New Balance collection (HKNB). This collection is one part Heidi and one part New Balance, as you can see in the description below:

“Designed for any workout regime, the HKNB collection represents modern, sophisticated style that is both functional and fashionable to not only make you look good while working out, but also feel great doing it. We’ve carefully crafted each piece taking Heidi’s fashion ethos coupled with our performance expertise, to create flattering styles that help maximize performance.”

HKNB 1600 Sneakers

I recently tested out the new HKNB 1600 sneakers in the picture above. The 1600 is a running shoe that features a blown rubber outsole, breathable air mesh, and a synthetic/mesh upper. Heidi Klum describes this shoe as being for a runner who is “both serious about running and serious about looking good.”

When I received these sneakers, I was a little nervous because they looked a lot narrower than the rest of the sneakers in my collection. They have an 8mm drop and a reduced toe box volume, so I wasn’t sure how that would affect the small bunion I have on my right foot. When I wore them around my house to break them in, the first thing I noticed was the tight fit, as the sneakers conformed to my feet like gloves would to my hands.

HKNB 1600 Sneakers

However, despite the glove like fit, because the sneaker material is mesh and so breathable, these sneakers have worked for me. In fact, the more times I wear them, the more I like them. The low platform is a nice change of pace from some of my other sneakers (now I need to get more low socks!). I love how lightweight they are. Plus, how cool is this color combination? It’s nice to add a pair of black sneakers to my ever-growing collection of bright hues. Black with cosmic sky, that is. 😉

I haven’t been able to test these out while running yet, but I’ve sported them for cardio cross-training and in the weight room.

HKNB 1600: Strength

Not gonna lie, I feel cool wearing these sneakers. Don’t judge me. I also showed them off to my friend Ashley during our morning gym date yesterday. Don’t mind the streaky mirror pic!

HKNB - Ashley & I

For more pics from the Heidi Klum for New Balance collection, check out the board I created on my Pinterest page.

Pinterest Board

–Let’s chat–
Are you someone who owns more workout clothes than “regular” clothes? What do you like to wear while you exercise to stay fit without sacrificing how you look? What features do you look for in an athletic sneaker? Do you own any items from the HKNB collection?

Product Review: KIND Healthy Grains Line

Today we’re gonna chat about granola bars, mmkay?

I’ve never really been one to stick with just one brand of bar. I’ve jumped around from Luna bars to Clif bars to Larabars and more. The list goes on. But over the past year or two, as Tim and I have really started paying attention to the ingredients in the food we buy, I’ve been more partial to KIND. I think that they have the best compromise when it comes to what’s in their products versus taste.

I was first exposed to KIND bars while traveling for work. I remember being hungry and rushing through the airport (ok, I was more likely hangry at this point). I remember grabbing the dark chocolate nuts and sea salt bar from one of the newsstand places. Then I remember it was love at first bite. Seriously, delicious. After that first experience, I read up a little more on KIND and liked what I found. Their ingredient lists are simple. I know what each ingredient is, and I can pronounce them. That’s so important.

Healthy Airport Snacks

This year I actually collaborated with KIND for our wellness program at work. My co-worker, Jen, has a contact at KIND that first donated products for our company-wide walking program kick-off and then sent staff to work a table at our first company wide health fair. To say that the table and samples were a huge hit at our fair is an understatement. People are still talking about them!

Last fall, KIND launched a new healthy grains line to expand their product offerings. Luckily for me, KIND recently offered to send me a sampling to try and review for you guys.

Kind Bar Healthy Grains

Each KIND healthy grains bar is gluten-free, non GMO, and has 18-22 grams of whole grains (amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and gluten-free oats). Each runs in around 150 calories and has about 6 grams of sugar. For more nutrition info, you’ll have to check out each bar individually on their website.

KIND healthy grains bars are available in the following flavors:

  • Maple pumpkin seeds with sea salt
  • Oats and honey with toasted coconut
  • Dark chocolate chunk
  • Vanilla blueberry
  • Peanut butter dark chocolate

The healthy grains bars are advertised as being “chewy with a crunch,” and this description is spot on. I think a lot of other granola bars out there are either one or the other, but these are a nice blend of both. They remind me of the texture of a Rice Krispie treat. I really like getting a subtle crunch with each bite without having the entire bar crumble all over my lap. That’s the worst, especially because the crumbs usually end up all over my car too . Most of the time I’m snacking on these on the way to the gym!

I also enjoy the subtle flavor tastes in each bar. That might sound weird, but for example, when eating the vanilla blueberry bar, I got just the right amount of blueberry and vanilla with each bite. I hate when a bar has a flavor that’s SO strong you feel like what you’re eating can’t be real.

While I enjoyed all the flavors, I think my favorite was the maple pumpkin with sea salt.

Kind Healthy Grain

Tim said he really like the maple pumpkin one too because he usually craves salt in the afternoon, so this bar was a nice way for him to curb his salty craving without turning to a not so good for your snack. I have to agree!

Thank you, KIND, for letting me sample your healthy grains line! Loved it.

–Let’s chat–
Are you loyal to any one brand of granola bars? Have you tried KIND bars before? What about KIND’s healthy grains line? Which of the flavors sounds the best to you?

Disclaimer:  I was not paid to write this post, but I was provided free products in exchange for writing this review.  As always, all opinions are my own.