Misfit Shine Fitness and Activity Monitor – Review

misfit shine
The Misfit Shine is a sleek and chic fitness monitor and activity band that can be both worn on the wrist, talked into a sock or sports bra, or tucked neatly into one of the beautiful accessory pieces of jewelry the company offers.
Right out of the gate, the Misfit Shine is one of the prettiest options I’ve seen when it comes to fitness monitors. It looks more like jewelry, or live a matte river pebble than a fitness device, which is a nice change. The band comes with an included wristband, or magnetic clip, so you can choose where and how to wear it.

How Shine Works
IMG_1157While I was still gaga over how beautiful the device looked, I had difficulty getting it working out of the box. I went through all of the steps Misfit outlines to get the band set up,  but the device just would not work. I put the battery in and took it out again several times, hoping to get things working but to no avail. I even tried using a different battery than the one Misfit includes, just to see if mine happened to be dead. That didn’t work either. Looking closer at the inside of the device, I had an idea: it appeared to me that one of the metal connectors that is supposed to touch the battery was not touching properly, so I took some tiny pliers I have, and bent it to make better contact. Then I popped the battery back in, and voila!, it worked right away.  I’m pretty sure Misfit would not advocate for people to go mucking about with the interior guts of this device untrained, but this is what worked for me. Either way I was pleased that the device was now working.
The Misfit band works similar to other fitness bands, in that you also download a free companion app, set up a free account, and that’s the way you view and use most of your data.

The Device Displayshine lights
The display on the band itself is a circle of subtle LED lights. Depending on how much of your step goal you’ve completed, a different number of lights in the ring light up. I really liked this subtle display, despite the fact that it required some thought to calculate in my head, and was what I’d call at a glance.  Even so I’d know if I was a quarter or halfway to my goal, if not the specific numbers.  What I did, however, like about the ring light display is that it reminded me of looking up into the night sky at stars; it reminded me of staring up at constellations.

The App
The Shine uses “points” to calculate your activity levels. This is one thing about the device I did not like. With other bands, your actual steps ARE your goal, and to me that’s something tangible that I can see and understand.  I know that to get more steps, I take more steps.  But with the Misfit Shine, I’m not sure what the points mean, or exactly how I get  a good amount of them. IMG_1996I found that frustrating, but that may be a personal preference. I know some people who swear by the Nike fuel band, and it uses a similarly random system of points. To each their own I suppose. I should point out after that complaint that when you go into the app, you can actually get more specific details about how many steps you took, how far you went in terms of distance, and how many calories you burn, so happily,  the info is actually measured and available to you.

While I found the step count slightly off compared to the device I normally use, the actual mileage, or number of kilometers I went that day was actually quite similar. Ditto for the calories burned. While calibrating the Shine would be the ideal solution; unfortunately, it’s not an option, and that that is a source of frustration for other users too. One person I found on a chat board  pointed out that as a very short person, the device was vastly over calculating her metrics.

Sleep Function
Like many similar fitness devices, the Misfit Shine also will calculate and track your sleep.  The app will display deep versus lighter sleep in a grid, so it’s easy to read at a glance. It will also give you an overall number of hours you actually slept, versus what your sleep goal is (mine as it turns out is a rather unrealistic eight hours per night!)
I also found that sleeping with the Shine was quite easy; the smoothness and thinness of the band means it is very unobtrusive, and doesn’t get caught on anything, particularly on sheets or under pillows.   The device also has the option of allowing you to edit your recorded sleep, in case there has been an error. Not that I found any errors in my sleep tracking.

Other Functions
The Shine can also be used as a watch with simple taps, and it will display the time using solid and flashing lights around the edge of its lighted display. Another plus is that it is waterproof 250 m, so you can use it well swimming. It syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth which is always handy as well.

Battery

The Shine uses a small disc battery, about the size you find in a key fob (nickel sized), technically called a standard CR2032 coin cell battery.  That means no charging or recharging, which is nice.  Misfit says the battery should be swapped out every 4-6 months, or when it stops working.
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The Verdict
In short, I really like the looks of this device, possibly better than any other fitness band on the market. While I didn’t appreciate the points function of the app and it’s calculations, the fact that my step count and distance are available within the app is important and means I don’t have to rely on Misfit’s points.   I am also personally a big fan of fitness devices that are versatile, or that have a core piece you can remove from the band, and tuck wherever you want. I use this feature frequently, and will tuck my fitness monitor into my bra, or a sock, if I don’t want to wear an obvious rubber athletic style band (my regular band, a Fitbit) to an elegant function, date, or night out. The nice thing about the Shine is people might not realize that it is even a fitness tracker.
While the app and it’s layout is not my favorite, the information is all there, and easy to read. It’s also very easy to navigate through historical data or previous days with a simple swipe.misfit grab
In short, I would definitely recommend this band to someone who is looking to start out on the fitness track. Particularly the type of person who doesn’t want everyone to notice they are wearing a bulky rubber band around their wrist, since the Misfit Shine is much more like a beautiful bracelet then a utilitarian fitness device. Form and function, all in one great and customizeable package, since different colour trackers and a variety of band options are available.

Misfit Shine is available for $99 on the company’s website, and for the same price on Future Shop’s site in Canada.

Looking to check out other fitness devices?  Read about the Basis Peak, Fitbit Flex, and check out info on some other devices that I featured on CTV News Tech Talk.

Review: Kenwood Triblade Hand Blender kit

‘Basis Peak’ Activity, Fitness and Heart Rate Monitor Review

basic peakBasis Peak is a sports and fitness watch with built-in activity monitor and heart rate monitor. The watch comes in both black and white, and the model I tested (black) has a very subtle white-on-black display, that’s very easy to read, yet not super glaring and in your face.  If that beautiful display has a downside, it’s that it’s completely invisible in the dark.  The watches are large, particularly for a woman, so that’s something to keep in mind when choosing one, and because of the built-in heart rate monitor, they are also quite thick.  With that said, it is fairly light and easy to wear, and I got used to it fairly quickly. The watch uses an external (and rather bulky) charger to recharge the built in battery, which lasts about 4 days.

Specs:

  • 24/7 automatic fitness and sleep tracking
  • Heart rate during exercise—no chest strap needed
  • Automatically tracks walks, runs and rides
  • Automatic sleep detection with sleep stage insights
  • Smartwatch notifications for text, email, call on your wrist

Set Up
IMG_1977Setting up the Basis Peak was not the easiest task. I ended up setting it up twice, both to check out the process in detail, and becacuse I had problems with the app that forced a reinstall.
The first time, right out of the box, was definitely much easier.  You download the app and set up an account, which was simple enough.  Then you strap on the watch and start moving. Sort of.
I didn’t really realize it, and it wasn’t quite clear, but not only do you have to get the app up and running, you need to pair the Peak watch with the app, and your phone. It took me a couple of days to realize the app was not updating with info from the watch. So I did some further reading and research, and realized the two devices were not actually connected; they needed to be paired.
In my initial set up, I had connected the app to the watch, but as it turns out I also needed to connect the watch to the phone.  I needed to also go to the watch’s main menu, and select “Pair” with the phone and app. Once that was done, I started getting info, though not immiediately.
The watch itself is quite easy to operate, with a fairly simplified menu. There are four basic screens on the watch itself: The time (main default screen), your heart rate, and the main menu, and then sometimes a fourth screen which most often has showed me a random graphic of a fox. Sometimes this will also display messages that come in via your phone. You navigate between the screens using simple swipe gestures.IMG_1979

The second time around, re-setting up the Peak was a huge problem.  I had to uninstall the app, as it had completely stopped functioning.  I reinstalled it, and had to repair the watch, but it took about 8-9 attempts before it would find the watch.   Once I had repaired the app and the Peak, there was still no data coming in.  The watch would say ‘syncing’, but nothing was happening.  After about 35 minutes, data finally appeared in the app, but that was well after I’d left the gym and my treadmill testing behind. Suffice to say, if you’re having trouble re-pairing your Peak and your phone, keep trying, it’ll work eventually.

Message Notifications
One great feature I found myself enjoying about the Basis Peak, was the fact that text messages, phone calls, and Twitter notifications all came into my wrist, with a very subtle vibration. I did not get emails, and I don’t know if that’s a setting i can turn on and off, or it’s just not supported.  (Either way, I’d rather not read  along email on a 1″ screen on my wrist anyway, so I didn’t dig too deeply into this.)  While the font is rather small to read, and long messages must be scrolled through, it was easy enough to read them, and decide if I needed to stop what I was doing to respond to them on the phone, since I wasn’t able to respond to them via the watch/device itself. The watch (I keep calling it a ‘watch’ because that’s what it looks most like, though Basis calls it a ‘Fitness and Sleep Tracker’) also has a do not disturb function which is helpful if you are needing to focus and want to turn your alerts off.
basis peak
Heart Rate Monitor
I will say this about most wrist-based fitness and activity monitors or heart rate monitors; They are not scientific devices, and I certainly wouldn’t call the information absolutely accurate, especially in a medical sense. But what makes many of these devices great is that they give you the best possible idea of what’s going on with your fitness and activity. So with that caveat I can say the heart rate monitor on the Basis Peak was quite accurate for me. Especially since the only other heart rate notification I would be able to compare it to is the one I use on the treadmill at my gym. In as much as that one is accurate, so is the Basis Peak. It gave me basically a matching heart rate so I had confidence it was about as accurate as anything else I would use. I did like that when I was running, or my heart rate was high, the Peak displayed it constantly, allowing me to check it at a glance.

The App
IMG_1994If there was one thing I did not particularly care for about the Basis Peak, it’s their app. I found it difficult and complicated to read, hard to navigate, and generally just a pain in the butt. Compared to some other devices where all the info you need is on your main screen at a glance, I thought there was too much going on with the Peak app.  It does this bizarre thing where, if I were to go for a 50 minute run and then walk after, it breaks the activity up and shows it to you based on what your heart rate was. So if my heart rate was high for 20 minutes it will display that differently than what the heart rate was when I walked for 40 minutes. It took a while to figure out what the device was displaying, and how it was relevant.  The tiny horizontal bar graph it uses to display this info is also very confusing, and too tiny to be of any relevance.
I also found a significant lag between when I completed the activities, and when they appeared in the app. More often than not I would have to do a manual sync several times, to get the information to update, and even then it wouldn’t show up for about 30 minutes or so. I found that particularly frustrating when I was at the gym, doing a run, and wanted an instant update on my status and progress. At least I was getting instant heart rate readings on the watch itself.
The app’s main dashboard is also a very confusing display of what it calls ‘habits’ plus some other info like your recent sleep or activity, except most often the app would display mine as “Get moving to see your activity”.IMG_1991
Oddly, during testing, the watch also counted a 45 minute time span one evening where I was sitting watching TV, as sleep, and I couldn’t find a way to delete or modify that info.  That tells me this device’s app needs some work.
I do like the idea of the Peak ‘habits’, as kind of a game. You can choose several ‘habits” to get into, and completing them will give you digital badges; things like getting in a few thousand steps before noon, or meeting your sleep goal, or even wearing the watch for a certain number of hours per day. You get the idea.
The app also has what it calls a ‘charting’ feature which will display your movement and activity over the course of the day. A great idea to see when you are most and least active, except when I was testing it, it was only available for the current day. I found no way I was able to go back and get historical data for comparison, or even to compare day over day month over month while using Charting. You, however, can find historical data in the “Activity Feed” tab, then click on the activity for the day to get your chart, but it took me days to figure that out. Even then, if you want to look at different days you cant swipe through a calendar, you have to go in and out of the Activity Feed and click on individual days.  Doing that was clunky and tedious.

The Fox

basis peak cat foxRandomly sometimes a fox would pop up on the fourth screen, whether I was at home or on the golf course.  So what is it?  I had no idea, and I didn’t get any clues from the Basis website.  Searching the web, I found out it’s a sleeping cat, and a place holder for your activity notes.  It’s supposed to be a reminder to get up and get active so there’s something to show.  Cute idea, except how is it supposed to motivate me if it I have no idea what it is? I’d love it more if when you tapped it,  you got a message that says, “Cat-napping?  Get up and move!”.  Then I’d feel it was helping me.
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The Verdict
While I very much like the Peak itself, and would probably wear it just as a cool watch, with built-in heart rate monitor at the gym, I don’t think that using it with the app is something I would do. It’s just too much data that I don’t need and too hard to pour through it and figure out what’s going on, or which screen it’s been squirreled away in. I did also particularly like the notification functions on the watch; it’s a nice added feature which as it turns out comes in rather handy.
I’d certainly look at re-evaluating my thoughts on the app, if it were to undergo some kind of simplification and or redesign. But for now it’s just too much.

Get this watch if you want a watch and heart rate monitor.  Don’t get it for the confusing and clunky metrics.

Basis Peak is $199 on the company’s website, and is also available in Canada at Future Shop for $349.  Why the price discrepancy?  You’ve got me!

I recently demonstrated the Basis Peak and several other Wearables on CTV Morning Live. Watch it here.

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Preview: FitBark Dog Activity Monitor

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Fitbark is available now for preorder fom Future Shop and will start shipping on March 6th

Dogs, just like people, need to be active to be healthy.  In the wild, dogs can run free, hunt, and play at will.  But domesticated dogs are a lot different from their wild canine cousins.  How much does your dog really get up to play or run?  You can find out using the FitBark Dog Activity Monitor.

How does it work, what can it tell you and is it right for your dog?  Read the full article on the Future Shop Tech Blog.

fitbark app

5 Top Fitness Wearables & Trackers

misfit shine
The Misfit Shine

You’ve probably got at least one friend or coworker who wears one; a fitness band, pedometer, step counter, heart rate monitor or clip. You may have wondered why they’re so great and what they can do for you.

In short they’re ultra-smart, ultra portable monitors that can give you information on things like how much you move, how well you sleep, some can show your heart rate, how high you climb and even how many calories you’re burning.

There’s several models out there; the Nike Fuelband, the Magellan echo, Pebble, plus health tracking is also built into the Apple watch (whenever it comes out) and the Samsung Gear watches. Wearables are big business — fitness monitoring has become a billion-dollar industry.  Most fitness bands are compatible with the biggies; iPhone and Android phones, and each one pairs with an app that displays your data.

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On CTV Morning Live, we took a look at several options for fitness and health bands.  I’ll note a bit about each, but check back here in the coming weeks for detailed reviews of each band shown on TV. You can watch the video HERE.

FITBIT Flex and Charge

The Fitbit Charge
The Fitbit Charge

Full disclosure; I’m a Fitbit owner.  The Fitbit Flex was my first ever fitness band purchase, and it’s still the one I wear all the time.  Recently I was able to try out the Charge, the newer band with a couple more bells and whistles than the basic Flex; namely a watch on the band. They track steps, calories burned, and distance travelled.  The Fitbit Charge also tracks floors climbed, and has the added benefit of a display face you can also use as a watch.

I also showed you the wireless scale; the Fitbit Aria. It’s a simple and easy to use scale, that will automatically upload your weight and body fat (if you weigh-in in bare feet!) to your Fitbit app.  A handy way to keep tabs on your step goal progress.

 

 

JAWBONE

jawbone up moveThe Jawbone UpMOVE falls into my category of fitness trackers that can be separated from their bands and/or clips and moved wherever you want  so they can be hidden.  A great option if you’re going to a fancy dinner and don’t want people gawking at your rubber wrist band.  The band encourages you to “Get fit, lose weight and have fun doing it. UP MOVE comes in a bunch of brilliant colors that you can mix and match with accessories. Clip it on and wear it anywhere. And with an LED display and Smart Coach to guide you, the UP MOVE tracker doesn’t just count your steps and track your sleep—it gets you over the hump and moving on your path to a better you.”  This device tracks activity like steps and distance, as well as sleep.

 

MISFIT Shine

I LOVE the simple beauty of this band, called the Shine (pictured above).  The lights are like a subtle constellation, and the band is smooth and won’t catch on anything, it’s easy to wear, light and very easy to forget you have on.  The app is easy to read and understand, and while it measured calories on par with what some other bands did, I found it under-counted steps and distance, compared to other bands like the Fitbit. It should be noted this band has not been calibrated, as I was unable to figure out on my own how to do it. Watch for a more detailed review here soon.  One aspect I DO like about the Shine; you can hide the tracking disc in jewelry, tuck it in your bra, or sock, and no one will know you’re wearing one.

BASIS Peak

basic peakThe Basis Peak was one of the only fitness bands I tried that had a built in heart rate monitor. I loved it, and according to the other heart rate monitor I usually use (on the treadmill at the gym) it’s just as accurate.  I loved the subtle simplicity of the white-on-black watch face.  In addition to heart rate, the Peak also counts all the usual stuff like steps and sleep.  Peak automatically detects your sleeping cycles, including REM & deep sleep, which it says gives you in-depth data on the quality of your night’s sleep. The Peak automatically adjusts weekly goals based on your performance, and it comes with habit notifications on your phone or wrist when you’re on track or need a nudge, which is a nice addition to give you motivation. This device will also send your alerts and texts to your band, letting you stay in touch when you need to be.

 

 

GARMIN Vivosmart

Not only does the vivosmart track steps and movement, it also sends messages from your phone to your band.  A light vibration lets you know you have alerts. Each time you receive a text, email or call on a compatible Bluetooth device,   vívosmart gently vibrates and automatically displays the information. You just touch and swipe the screen to read more.

The Garmin Vivosmart was lent to me by MEC, where you can pick up one of your own.

Garmin vivosmart
Garmin vivosmart

 

The trackers above are all available at any number of stores in Canada, including Future Shop.

 

My pick is Fitbit; and for me it’s the Flex.  I’ve been wearing it reliable and enjoyably for over 2 years now, and I have no plant to change.  Click HERE to read more on Fitbit apps you’ll love, or click HERE for my review of the Fitbit Flex.

Do you have a favourite fitness band or device I  should look at?  Send me an email via my contact page or add one in comments below.

erin tech talk

Checking Out Streaming TV; What are the options, and how do I pick?

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You probably know there are different options for streaming TV out there. But what exactly is streaming TV? Do you need it? What will it do for you that regular TV won’t?

Let’s take a look at the top three streaming TV options available in Canada, what differentiates each one, as well as their price points to help you pick the right streaming TV choice for you.

 

 

 

If you’d prefer to watch me explain them, as opposed to reading, check out my segment on CTV Morning Live.

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What is Streaming TV?
Streaming TV is basically a way to get TV programs from the web, directly to your TV. Increasingly, broadcasters, and content providers like Netflix are making their programs available via the Internet, but many people still get them the old-fashioned way, by sitting hunched at their computer. Streaming TV boxes or sticks mean that you can get those programs on your living room, family room, or other main TV set, without complicated hook ups or the need for an entire squad of teenagers to come to your house. You simply plug them in, connect them to your home wifi network, and they’re ready to go.

What are My Streaming TV Options?

There are three main players as far as streaming TV is concerned. Yes, there are other options to get streaming TV on your television, such as using a gaming console.  But today we’ll focus on just those devices that exist for the purpose of streaming TV.

fs apple tvApple TV
Apple TV is definitely the most long-standing player, and possibly the most familiar one for Canadians. It’s been around since about 2007 or 2008, depending on which version you’re considering.  Once upon a time, it was pretty much the only way to get to streaming TV. Now it has competition, and it’s my opinion that anytime now, Apple will upgrade, streamline, shrink the size, as well as the price of Apple TV in the near future.  Apple TV is basically a small box the size of two slices of sandwich bread. It plugs into your HDMI port, and uses an included remote control to allow you to surf for streaming TV channels. What kind of channels are available?  The big ones are Netflix and YouTube. But there are dozens and dozens of available channels nowadays, covering everything from south American soap operas, to Japanese anime cartoons, to NFL and NHL, plus dozens more genre specific options. Whatever your preference as far as unique TV channels goes, you can bet it’s out there on a streaming TV device. (Check the full list of Apple TV apps here)   Apple’s TV is controlled on your screen, using an included remote control.  You’ll also need an iTunes account.  The major bonus of the Apple TV for me is access to much of the iTunes library of current TV content, unlike other players, where the most current TV is not easily accessible.

Apple TV retails for about $110.
roku-streaming-stickRoku Streaming Stick

Roku was the second major player to arrive in Canada.  It’s had a couple of different streaming TV options that are similar in size to the Apple TV, but in the spring of 2014, they brought in the Streaming Stick.  It’s a streaming player the size of your thumb, that plugs invisibly into your TV, and comes with many of the same third-party channels as Apple does.  Its size is a bonus, and its price is even better – $59. This unit too comes with a remote included, and interfaces the same way as Apple TV; right on your TV screen.  Check out what’s available on Roku, here.

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 2.14.40 PMGoogle Chromecast

Google is the latest arrival to Canada, having launched several months after Roku’s stick.  Google Chromecast has a totally different user interface, in that you must use your tablet or smartphone to control and play the content.  While Apple and Roku provide you the content, and upgrade it as new channels come online, with Google, you need to download individual channel apps onto your smartphone in order to play them. I found this kind of tedious, because there’s no surfing for stuff to watch, or to see what’s new.  In order to keep up on Google’s available content, one needs to go to the Chromecast website, then see what’s been added.  From there you go to your app store, and download the individual channel apps you like.  Then you need to go into each app, pick your content, and tell the Chromecast to play it back.   I also found the apps quite buggy compared to Roku and Apple. Read more about what’s new on Chromecast in my recent Tech Blog article for Future Shop. While it’s the most work for your streaming TV, the Chromecast is the cheapest option at about $39.

One more thing…

Increasingly, TV manufacturers are building smart TV capabilities right into their TVs.  One example I recently tested out was VIZIO.  Using their Via remote, you can access many of the same channels as you could with a streaming stick, directly within the TV.  While the major players like Netflix and YouTube are there, there’s definitely not as much content available – yet.  One major bonus though? You can access your social media accounts right on the TV; and it’s definitely cool watching a season finale or big game on TV, while you keep a specific hashtag up in the Twitter window, and watch the online comments as they happen.  You can do the same with Facebook.  Want to learn more about VIZIO’s Smart TV?  Check out my recent review.

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Do you have questions about Streaming TV? Ask away in comments!

Choosing a Gaming TV

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There are a lot of factors that go into picking the right gaming TV for you.  And what you might want, someone else might think is not a priority.  Personal preference, and brand loyalty are also a big factors when researching an upgrade to your TV.  Read on for some of the top things to consider when buying a new gaming TV.

Choosing a Gaming TV

Fitbit Apps You’ll Love!

I LOVE my Fitbit Flex, and have worn it daily for nearly 2 years.  It keeps me honest on the fitness front, and gets me moving each day by buzzing me with silent alarms.  While the band does all the counting, there are some great apps it integrates with to make your life, health, and fitness management easier.

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 For starters, you’ll want to know about the Fitbit App itself.  It’s a very easy to read and understand interface that counts your steps each day, tracks your sleep, records weight, and activity, and as you’re about to see, meshes with many third-party apps. The app syncs with your wristband via Bluetooth each time you launch the app on your mobile device.  While it syncs your steps automatically, you’ll need to input things like weight and water consumption yourself, and use one of the apps below if you want to track your food.  The Fitbit app also syncs your sleep pattens automatically so you can get a good sense of how many hours you’re getting, and what times of night you might be restless, or awake.

The Fitbit app is clean, streamlined and easy to read at a glance, and configurable to some extent, allowing you to keep or discard certain metrics, depending what you want to see.  Need a crash course in what the Fitbit is or how it works? Check out a great Tech Blog about the Fitbit line.

 Health & Wellness

 

My Fitness Pal (My personal favourite)MFP.jpg

Probably my #1 app for use with the Fitbit.  My Fitness Pal tracks your food and exercise, and also meshes that information with the movement and steps you get from the Fitbit. You set up an account, and tell it if you’re looking to gain or lose weight, or just keep things where they are.  It then tells you how much you should be eating in a day.  From there, the easy to use (and recently improved) interface allows you to manually enter your food, or to scan a barcode, and it will input the food for you.  It keeps track of your calories, then adjusts your calorie count for the day, based on how much or how little exercise you do.  So if you have a particularly busy day, it actually wants you to consume more calories!  The Fitbit, once you set the app up to link with your Fitbit, makes all the adjustments and shares any info with the app for seamless info flow.

Price: Free

Other Fitbit-compatible apps like it: Lose It, Foodzy

 

TactioHealth

This app snagged “Best App Ever” in 2012. tactio.jpg It’s said to be the #1 Medical App in in over 10 countries, and in the  Top 10 Medical App in over 25 countries.  Tactio tracks all your body stats, from weight, to body fat and BMI, and your body measurements.  If you’re looking for something more in-depth than My Fitness Pal, this is your app, because it also tracks blood pressure, glucose levels, and cholesterol to give you a much better handle on your personal health markers.  It also counts steps and syncs with Fitbit to share the data, and allows you to make meal plans and count calories.  The app will even remind you to weigh in, get to your annual physical and deliver news updates (based on your profile), from the CDC and WHO. When I went through the set up, the questions were detailed and specific; it wants to know how many veggies you eat, what your waist measurement is, how much you move at work and in workouts, if you smoke, and more.  Be warned; if you’re going through the set up and get interrupted it doesn’t save what you’ve already input, so finish this before exiting, or before letting your phone go to sleep! Once your account is set up, link it to your Fitbit.

Price: Free

Similar to : My Fitness Pal (but much more in depth)

 

Beeminder

We all know the feeling; you set some goals, make a plan, and after a few weeks, boredom (or real life) sets in, and your carefully orchestrated fitness plan goes kaput.  Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.10.00 PM.pngWhat if you had to pay for missing a workout?  That would probably make you think twice about your lame excuse.  Beeminder ’stings’ you for missing a workout, by making you pony up a cash penalty. “If you go off track, you pledge money to stay on the road the next time. If you go off track again, we charge you,” says the company’s app description.  Basically, if you flake, you pay. It’s not just for workouts.  If you want to learn Spanish, ballroom dance, or just to commit to doing something on a regular basis (call your mother!), Beeminder will make it your top priority, and penalize you if you don’t follow through.  Worth noting: I had a great deal of difficulty getting the app set up.  The only setup options are via Facebook and Twitter, and it kept giving me an “Authentication failed” message saying it didn’t recognize my profile. I’d love to know if it works better for any of you, and I’d be willing to give it another try.

Price: Free

Games

 

Tappy Fit

You’re the kind of person who likes to gamify your life, so this is right up your alley. photo 2-1.PNG

This low-res faux-80’s era app uses your Fitbit data to improve your game experience as you navigate your flying shoe around your 2-bit world. Take more steps, some tasks get easier.  Skip them, and you have to work your thumbs a lot harder.  It’s a very basic (and a little dull) app, but fun for those who might need an extra boost.  I deleted it almost immediately after testing.

Price: Free

Similar to: Welly (which is basically a digital pet who gets cared for via the steps you take)

 

For Runners

 

Map My Run

I’ve been looking for an app like this for weeks, and was pleased when my research led me to this one. photo 1.PNG
Map My Run geo-locates you, and finds different routes you can take nearby, to cover a particular distance you might want.  Looking for a 5K near the office?  It lays out a handful of options.  Just want a quick 2-mile close to home?  Take your pick from the displayed maps. The app is colourful and very user-friendly.  Just touch, and run! And of course, it syncs with your Fitbit!

Price: Free

Similar to this: Digifit,  Endomondo and…

 

Runtastic

photo 3.PNGA really great pedometer app.  It uses the accelerometer inside your phone to track distance, speed, steps and calories burned.

You click it to start it when you go out for a walk, run or bike, and the app automatically sends your data to the aforementioned My Fitness Pal.  Technically this app doesn’t sync to Fitbit but it’s a great app to try out to see how (and if!) you might use a pedometer like a Fitbit.

Price: Free

 

Fitbolt Web App

You work a desk job, and you spend 7.8 hours per day sitting.  Need some motivation, maybe a reminder to get up, move, and do some stretching?  The Fitbolt desktop app claims to be just what you’re looking for.  It puts a tiny counter in your browser, and counts you down to a pre-set interval.  It will also display recommended stretches and movement activities you can do at your desk.  While the elbow/arm stretches were fine, I wasn’t about to do a plank on the dirty office carpet. I also didn’t like the fact that when the counter hits zero, there’s no alert, or alarm to remind you to get up.  It (in my Firefox browser, anyway) just reset it self and started counting again.  Also annoyingly, when do do remember to remember to look at the clock and try out a move, if you click that you’ve done it, it rewards you with …an ad.  Not to mention it kept crashing when I tried to log in to the dashboard.  Great idea in theory, but don’t waste your effort on this program.

Price: Free

 

Do you have a Fitbit-connected app you LOVE?  Tell me about it in comments.  I’d love to check out your favourite.

 

4 Ways to Connect Your Home & Make Life Better

chromecast

It doesn’t take much to kick your home’s connectivity into high gear. You probably already have WiFi, so what about taking things to the next level? A high-powered router, or a camera to keep watch on the kids, the dog; security can be great additions.  But even small add-ons like a set of wireless speakers can save you trouble, hook ups and clutter when it comes to entertaining or relaxing. And Wireless TV from Google on a thumb-drive? … don’t even get me started.  Click here to read the FULL article: 4 Ways to Connect Your Home & Make Life Better

Banish those Milk Crates! Set up a Functional, Fun Home Office

Banish those Milk Crates! Set up a Functional, Fun Home Office

Click to read the full article .

fs pink deskTake and old table and paint it a girlie colour.  I love pink or Tiffany Blue, and my husband doesn’t.  But in my office, it’s just me.  So I got the brightest fuschia I could find from the home improvement store and rolled it all over the cruddy wood cast-off desk I had.  Voila! I love the way it livens up the room.

A friend of mine colour coordinated all her office accessories; she got bright cobalt blue everything, and has a white desk and office space.  The blast of colour is really inspiring.

fs office pillow.jpg