Life in CA Mommy Discoveries My Mommyology Recommends On Becoming a Better Mom

Fit (and Healthy), Bit by Bit

My husband gifted me with a Fitbit Charge HR for my last birthday.

Yay! Happy birthday to me!
Yay! Happy birthday to me!

I’d been curious about the Fitbit for quite sometime, after seeing my fitness-conscious brother and the rest of my family “compete” for the most number of steps on a daily basis.

Initially, I thought the Fitbit was just a sophisticated pedometer.  Now that I have mine, I realize it’s so much more.  And I dare say — I love it!  It’s been over a month since I started wearing it everyday, and now I feel like I can’t do without it.

The features in a nutshell.
The features in a nutshell.

Here’s my take on it.  For one to appreciate the Fitbit (and it’s product variants, like the Charge HR), you’d have to be…. un-fit. 😉 (I mean that in the most harmless way possible! )  It’s really no use to triathletes, or people like my brother who train for capoeira everyday.  But for people like me who’ve been trying to get back in shape for quite sometime, I’d say it’s a helpful tool.

For my opinion, it is this:  The Fitbit Charge HR brings a greater daily awareness to my lifestyle habits, and allows me to set concrete goals towards the change I aim to achieve.

My husband calls it my very own personal trainer, that’s attached to me 24/7 (except when it’s charging for 2 hours, which happens every 3-4 days for me).  Because I’m the type who cannot stand, not meeting a personal goal!

Come the girls’ bedtime, if I see that I’m 2,476 steps away from the daily 10,000, I start to jog up and down our little hallway.  Sam has caught marching up and down while she read RazKids in the room and she couldn’t stop laughing.

I’ve also become more conscious about exercising regularly, which has really been a challenge for me since we moved.  When I exercise, 10,000 steps is easy.  But now I know — I need to move more!  So instead of sitting down outside the Kumon center while the girls are inside, I walk or jog around the neighboring community.  When I can’t exercise, I vacuum the apartment, much to my husband’s surprise (because vacuuming was a task that I dubbed was his).  The apartment feels much cleaner, I get my steps, and everyone wins.

I’m also conscious of how much water I take in — which wasn’t much apparently during my pre-Fitbit days.  And we all know how essential 8 glasses of water is on a daily basis!

The report from my Fitbit Dashboard.
The report from my Fitbit Dashboard.

The other thing I do now is count calories.  In Manila, I honestly found this very tedious, but here — everything has some form of calorie count.  And if it’s not already on the internet, it’s easy to find.  So my Fitbit Charge HR allows me to keep track of the calories I burn, and at the very least, I try not to take in more than that.  It’s great because I’ve not given up on sweets totally, but I’ve learned to eat them more in moderation.  And when I have some calories leftover, I have the occasional glass of wine. 😉

It also keeps track of my heart rate.  I think that’s how it measures how many calories one burns.  I like seeing the difference during the day and over the course of time (given the recorded history).

Another thing:  the Fitbit Charge HR makes me less dependent on my iPhone for three things.  The first is time.  I’d always whip out or carry my iPhone in one hand because I wanted to check the time.  I was never a watch person to begin with.  But with this Fitbit on my wrist, I just tap it thrice to get the time.

The second is its caller ID function.  My husband’s biggest frustration is that I always keep my phone on silent, and I never hear it when he calls.  Because the Fitbit Charge HR syncs with my computer and my phone, it vibrates when someone calls me, and their name pops up on my wrist!  So I don’t need to take my phone off silent mode, and I don’t miss any of my husband’s calls.  Again, a win-win situation.

As you can see, I haven't been getting much sleep lately, and apparently I made up for it last night!
As you can see, I haven’t been getting much sleep lately, and apparently I made up for it last night!

The third is my sleep pattern.  I used to manually record my sleep patterns on the iPhone’s built-in Health App.  I didn’t like it much because it required I remember or estimate the time I went to bed and the time I woke up.  Sometimes though while putting the girls to sleep, I fall asleep myself — and I don’t check the time.  With my Fitbit Charge HR on my wrist, it can tell exactly when I fell asleep, when I woke up, and how many good hours of sleep I got that night.

Seeing how attached I am to my Fitbit, my husband has decided to get one for himself.  And because of that plan, we’ve decided to invest in the Aria weighing scale, another smart product extension by Fitbit.

My favorite weighing scale to date.
My favorite weighing scale to date.

The scale also syncs with the device and the internet, and can calculate one’s BMI and fat percentage.  It can track as many as 8 people’s personal stats.  You just need to input this into the dashboard when you set up.  The scale knows when it’s me, and can sense how far or near I am to my weight loss goal.

I’m also amused by the system of encouragement Fitbit has set in place.  I get alerts on my phone, and helpful tips on the newsletters, and badges when I achieve something!  I haven’t earned a badge in a while, so I am motivated to keep trying (My, I sound like a Girl Scout.  Now I understand how Sam feels about those badges!)

So can I officially call myself a penguin?!
So can I officially call myself a penguin?!

I am happy to report a little bit of progress on the weight loss goals.  I understand it’s slow given that several lifestyle changes still need to be made (and by golly gee, it’s hard!).  But it’s a start… and at least I know I’m on the right track! 😉

A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Life in CA

A Fresh Start

Who could’ve guessed, that this big “life changing move” would take a toll on my gadgets.

First it was my iPhone.  Two weeks before our actual date of departure, I dropped it face down on the cement floor of our parking garage.  I was getting Jamie out of the car that bright and early that morning and didn’t bother storing my iPhone in my pocket before doing so.  This was the nth fall in the last four years, and probably all it could take..  The inside of it cracked and the blue liquid leaked all over.

It looked something like this...
It looked something like this…

I was in a bit of a dilemma then, knowing that I was leaving in a couple of weeks (When it happened, I didn’t know the exact date), and I knew that my husband had an iPhone waiting for me here with my new line.  So it was quite the decision:  do I get a new iPhone in Manila or not?  According to the Apple Care person I approached in Manila, unless I had backed up or used iCloud, then there was no guarantee they could get the data on my phone back.

By the time Powerplant Mall closed that same evening, I was holding this:

Hello there new iPhone 5S.
Hello there new iPhone 5S.

I decided to keep my Manila line, and with the loyalty scheme came a low-monthly cash out for a 16GB iPhone.  It was a down-grade from my 32GB memory, but I figured it would do.  Better than nothing right?  Fortunately, I had somehow synced the phone to the Mac and to iCloud and so I was able to retrieve contacts, photos and purchased Apps.  Whew!

It was only then when I realized that I really couldn’t live without an iPhone, even if it was just for a few weeks.  Amazing how Apple has penetrated our lives, no?  I couldn’t even settle for a different smart phone, because all of my back up systems were linked to some Mac product.  The saying still holds true: once on a Mac, you can’t go back.

Then the day after we arrive in our new home, my Macbook Pro decides to crash.  Crash.  CRASH!

These blue vertical lines gave me a heart attack.
These blue vertical lines gave me a heart attack.

Never in my life did I think that possible.  I was filling out some forms on the web when the screen flickered and died.  After that, I couldn’t open it again.  My Apple Care had expired at this point too (just my luck ey?), and so I had to pay tech support to try and fix it on the phone.  After two hours, they concluded that it wasn’t a software issue, but a hardware one.  So the next day I trekked on over to the nearest Apple store, and the Genius tells me it’s my video card that crashed.  It was of course attached to the computer’s logic board, so they needed to send it back to the main repair center.

In my jet lagged state, we assessed the situation:  Is it better to buy a new Mac altogether or to try and salvage this one?  The thing was that either way, he wouldn’t be able to guarantee if they could save all or any of my current data.  He said he hoped I was one of those people who backed up (After what happened to my iPhone, I did back-up, but it had been a few weeks.  Can you blame me, I was packing up the house!).  In the end I decided it was cheaper to have this one fixed than get a new one.  Besides, I really didn’t have a new Mac in my budget to begin with!

I’ve been a week without a computer.  And I only got it back today.  Guess what — it’s a clean slate.

Nothing. Was. Saved.

And there it was.  A totally 'new' computer.
And there it was. A totally ‘new’ computer.

I had some files that I was working on, but they’re all gone.  Even the most recent presentations for some of my clients:  gone.  The girls’ most recent pictures and our album I was preparing to print from the Disney Cruise:  gone.  For the last week I’d been preparing myself for this possibility.  And given what had happened to my iPhone a few weeks earlier, I figured that it was the universe conspiring to send me a message.

Change isn’t one of my strong suits.  Yet in the last six years, I’ve made three big moves and had two kids.  I realized that while I was definitely excited, there was always a part of me that was nervous or worried about what was to come.  I don’t like not knowing exactly what to expect — which is in fact impossible.

An implosion always happens and I think this time, subconsciously it released itself upon my phone and Mac.  They were after all, the two items I couldn’t live without (next to my kids of course).  In the weeks leading up to our departure, they were under the most duress.  My Mac and my iPhone contain everything:  lists, contacts, notes, reminders, to do’s… everything I needed, and everything to drive me crazy and up the wall.

For once in my life, I felt lighter.  Instead of hanging on to the past and its data, I just… let it go (literally)!  Instead of trying to pre-determine the where and what and how, I’m left with just going with the flow and taking things as they come one day at a time.  Figuratively and literally speaking, the past after all, will always be there (thank GOD for back-ups), and they are memories of good times and good experiences, but they need not all be carried through into the present and the near future.  And knowing this I know that as I move forward, there’s less anxiety and more excitement.

That’s the nice thing about a clean slate right?  It’s a fresh start.  You get to do everything for the first time — again.

Mommyology at Work

Once On A Mac, There’s No Turning Back

I was getting the girls ready to leave the other day and caught sight of our dining room table that I just had to take a picture.

My Mommyology Apple Products We Own
Apple literally runs our lives. (Missing: another iPhone, the old iPods, and a Time Capsule.)

It was only then when I realized what an Apple family we’ve turned out to be.  They have the best loyalty scheme and repeat purchase strategy ever, I tell you.  You don’t know you’ve actually gotten sucked into it until it’s too late and if you want your life to stay easy, then there is no way out of it!

Not that I’m complaining.  Well, not really anyway.  I do love all Apple products and software and while I have had my share of frustrations, I’d still have to say that the entire package that they offer is far more superior than any of the other available options (In my humble opinion).  I once read an article about how they don’t actually do consumer research, but think about what they would want and proceed to develop it from there.  That works, because more often that not consumer research will just give you a pulse of what’s already out there.  But for a lighthouse brand such as Apple, they get to create and dictate what should come next (In other related news, I wonder what Steve Jobs’ most recent announcement is going to do to them in the next few years!) .

I was recently talking to a sales representative, as I upgraded my MacBook Air to a MacBook Pro, and consequently shifted from a Leopard to a Lion.  The Air is still to be used within our home, but I hear that while compatible it is much easier if both units are on the same operating system (ie OX S Lion), and at the same time, I couldn’t install the most current software on the Air because the software required the newer operating systems to run.   Anyway, the sales representative was telling me that upgrading from a Leopard to a Snow Leopard to a Lion would only cost me $60, much cheaper than any other operating system that competitors were offering.  While that might be true, I couldn’t help but think that the reason why it appears “cheap”, is because all the other items and peripherals are sold separately at various “affordable” prices and you don’t realize it until you’ve purchased all of it.  Then you compute that you’ve spent a little bit more than you bargained for.

A few months later when the launch of more updated products and software come out, you actually end up spending again.  Whether you decide to wait another round or just upgrade as the new ones come, you spend the same.  Either way, they draw you (and your repeat business in), hook, line and sinker.  It’s no wonder that Apple is every now and then is the #1 global company (depending on whether Exxon performs well this quarter or not).

That is marketing, what else can I say.

(Back to the thought on Steve Jobs… man.  What’s it going to be like without him?)

Mommy Anecdotes Mommy Discoveries My Mommyology Recommends

The Era of iPodatoes

My Mommyology iPodato
The new couch potato is the iPodato.

An iPod Anecdote:

Snowed in one Tuesday, Sam repeatedly asked to watch her Barney show on the TV.  She persisted all day, but I still kept trying to distract her with other toys.  She then asked for the iPod, so I compromised and said we would take turns, and I would go first.  To my surprise, she did not protest and sat down beside me to patiently wait for her turn.  At one point I handed her the iPod and stood up to go to the bathroom.

I came back to find that she had flipped to the Netflix application, one I didn’t even know we had on there, clicked onto her Barney program, and was now watching the show I would not let her see on TV — from the iPod.  She looked up at me with this triumphant grin and said, “Barney Mommy!”

I was yet again, out-smarted by my 2-year old.

So I have to ask:  Is there still a parent in this world that will leave the house without an iPhone, an iPod, or an iPad in their bag for their kids?  They provide such an easy form of distraction no matter where you are, that I now wouldn’t know what to do without one.  These gadgets and all their content, can keep Sam in place for at least 45 minutes, which is generally enough time for me to peacefully get some food down without choking.

She first surprised us one day, at the age of 10 months, when she picked up my iPod and slid it open.  Since then it has been a part of her vocabulary, and one of her constant “toys”.  To date we have purchased several applications for her to learn and play with, the likes of Duck Duck Moose for instance.  She even plays popular games like Angry Birds, and Cut the Rope.  I don’t know about the motor skill and mental skill development, I hope there is progress in that area, but I do know that she is learning to emphatically say things like, “Bonk the pigs Dad! ” or “That’s a Bomb!  Don’t cut it!  It might explode!“, when playing Fruit Ninja with her Daddy.  Ahh, the new generation.

Apple, you have once again made yourself indispensable in our daily lives.  And at such a young age at that!  Congratulations.