Last Minute Gifts for the Techie

It’s Christmastime and everyone is in a hurry to grab everything on their lists before time runs out!

I, for one, am completely done with my holiday shopping and couldn’t be happier. And there are a few people on my list who will be quite happy with what they’ll be receiving. If you have a tech loving family member or friend to purchase for this year, check out these great products for each tech lover in your life.

Last Minute Gifts for the Techie

Fitbit Zip Gift of Health

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On the Move with the FitBit Ultra

When I started my weight loss journey this time around I knew I needed something that could easily track my fitness. I have a heart rate monitor but I only wear it when I’m going to the gym so I wanted something that would be great for all day use.

And since sadly I haven’t found enough time to fit in the gym, I’ve been trying to stay active in my day-to-day activities by walking more and doing at-home training. So it’s hard to track all that I’m doing to stay fit.

That’s when I found the FitBit Ultra. And I’ve been in love ever since.

The FitBit Ultra wirelessly tracks any and all activity in the form of how many steps are taken each day, calories burned, and how far you’ve traveled, with it’s 3-D motion sensor (think: Wii technology). All in one little device that securely attaches anywhere from your waistband to your bra to the clip it comes with. It can even track floors climbed with the new altimeter technology built in. This device is much, much more than a pedometer.

I love securing it to my pocket or waist during the day and even while running around with the kids and getting up and down 100x it has never once fallen off. It can be attached via the clip that comes with it or by simply attaching the device to your waist, bra, or pocket.

And if you’re worried about someone noticing this device, don’t. It’s so small that I’ve only once been asked about it and that’s only because a friend had read a previous blog post where I mentioned using the FitBit. She didn’t even know I was wearing it at the time!

I keep the FitBit docking station on my nightstand plugged into my laptop. That way I remember to wear it as soon as I get up and I place it back on the dock when I go to sleep. I absolutely love how easy it is to keep track of everything. All of the data is instantly sent to my computer wirelessly without me having to push a button.

AND I get super awesome reports with a run down of my activity each day. A summary of the previous week is even emailed to me so I can keep up with how active I am over the course of 7 days.

Take a look at what a typical day looks like for me: 

How awesome is this for motivation?

I’m always trying to beat the previous day’s steps. Some days I succeed, others I fail miserably. But I’m having so much fun doing it. And with the push of a button I can tell how I’m doing at any point in the day.

Not only does the display on the FitBit Ultra have the steps, stairs, and calories; it also includes a clock, stopwatch and a personalized greeting! When I’m out and about I just need to look down and check what time it is instead of pulling out my cell phone. Quick and easy!

Being home full time with my kids and working from home allows me little time to really focus on the time I spend being fit. By including the FitBit Ultra in my daily routine I not only am aware of how active I am but how active I need to be; I spend less time worrying about it! And less time tracking fitness means more time focusing on what really matters.

I have yet to use it to track my sleep but will be delving into that function this month! So stay tuned for another review of the Sleep Tracker functionality of the FitBit ultra in August.

And if you want to check out the FitBit Ultra for yourself head over to the FitBit website to purchase one today! 

Disclaimer: I received a FitBit for review purposes only. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

Underweight and an Iron Deficiency?

Last Thursday my daughter had her follow up weight check. If you remember, she fell off the chart at her 15 month appointment and the pediatrician wanted to make sure she was staying on her own curve and not plateauing in weight. Height and head circumference were just fine.

So we beefed up the healthy calories and really focused on structured meals and snacks to make sure she had as many opportunities to eat healthy, caloric foods as possible to keep her on the right track.

And the results?

In six weeks she gained 11 ounces. Enough to keep her on her own curve and out of the ‘danger zone’ of plateauing on the curve.

But, and that’s a big but, the pediatrician wanted to see a bit more of a gain to get her back onto the charts. We’ll continue to make sure she’s offered a variety of nutritious meals and snacks as well as making sure the foods we feed her are higher in calories.

Now that we’ve gotten the weight issue taken care of we’re fine, right? Wrong.

At the 15 month check up my daughter’s iron levels were low. The pedi re-checked the numbers again this time and they’re still low. Now we have to  supplement with iron drops. Not easy for a girl who doesn’t eat much.

Not only am I now trying to offer lots of foods, I’m also trying to offer foods that I can hide the iron drops in. And this girl eats maybe 5 bites of one thing at a time. Not great when the metallic flavor of the iron supplement needs to be masked by the food or drink it’s in.

I still have yet to get a full dose in her. And she needs two doses a day, every day.

Luckily I have an awesome BFF who recommended a few products to try out. She currently uses Floradix Iron & Herbs and loves it. 

I actually first heard of this brand back at BlogHer’11 last year and have even received samples at a few events I’ve attended over the past few months. I’ve put a call in to the pediatrician to see if he approves of this alternative.

They even have a kids multivitamin I’ve heard great things about called Floradix Kinderlove Children’s Multiple Vitamin. I might get that as well to start Ethan on something in case he’s lacking in nutrition too.

We’re also making Green Monsters every day and are considering adding chlorella or spirulina. There isn’t a ton of iron in the chlorella or spirulina but it’s very easily assimilated. There’s also a chewable called Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Kid Greenz that I’m looking into as well.

And on top of the supplements I am also watching her Vitamin C consumption as well since it’s supposed to aid in absorption of iron. So along with the iron drops I’m also offering orange juice, melon, strawberries, apricots, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes.

I’m going to try my best to get her iron levels up and decide on a course of action. If it’s not one thing it’s another! So is life…

A positive in this is the fact that my daughter is a smart, funny, and very personable 16 1/2 month old and we are blessed that our problems are ones we can address and resolve. I know that some families aren’t as lucky.

Have any suggestions for increasing iron? I’d love to hear them!

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Green Monster Smoothies {Breakfast Recipe}

Green Monster Smoothie

One of my favorite new ways to get greens into my kids is by blending them up into smoothie form. And this smoothie started it all. Now this is just your basic Green Monster. There are so many different variations of this smoothie and my kids and I love to experiment with what we put in it when we make it.

For some awesome ways to shake up the original recipe check out my friend CB’s Green Monster journey over on her blog See Cupcake Run. Just search for “green monster” since I’m not sure how to link to one of her categories.

Green Monster Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ripe, frozen banana, peeled
  • 3 handfuls organic spinach
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (or PB2)
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Add 1 cup of milk to the blender.

Now add in the chia or flax (if using) and nut butter.

Next, add in the spinach followed by the banana on top.

Blend until smooth.

Add in your ice cubes and blend some more.

Serves 2 | 4 WW pp+ with PB2 (not including banana)

Health and Fitness Update

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve given an update on how I’m doing on my weight loss journey. And I have to say that I’m kind of at a standstill. I’m in the middle of my second 6-Week Challenge at the YMCA and I just can’t seem to get out of the slump I’m in. I’m working out with a trainer as part of a group 2 times a week, I’m working out on my own the other days of the week and I’m tracking everything I eat. So I give myself a pat on the back for that.

But I kinda got ahead of myself and jumped onto the 17 Day Diet plan in hopes of an “easy” way out of the current decade I’m in. And I half assed it. I was just so excited about the success my friends have had on the plan and I knew if I was diligent enough I could see success too. But I’m working out too much for the first phase of the plan to be doable. And I found myself making excuses for sneaking bites of foods that weren’t on the list. Sure, I could have stuck with it for just a bit but I was feeling icky and almost… empty.

The lean meats and veggies (TONS of veggies) are still around but I need whole grains… I need my oatmeal! Especially when I’m doing difficult workouts with a trainer and exerting a lot of energy. So I’ve put the 17 Day Diet aside for a bit and am just focusing on the calories. I use to input what I’m eating and I try to stick with their calorie recommendations. But instead of eating the calories I’ve burned in my workouts I leave those as a deficit. So I’m consuming about 1250 calories a day.

What I have learned from the plan is that I need to stop eating carbs after 2pm. If I do that, I lose! It might not be as much as when I totally cut out the whole grains. And I’m eating yogurt regularly. Two servings a day. With those two things combined with lean meats, low-sugar fruits and LOTS of veggies I think I can stay on track and slowly get back to losing. And once this challenge is over I might just re-visit the 17 Day Diet.

I am excited to say that I am happily in a size 12. Last Friday I tried on an old pair of jeans from high school (OMG!) and they fit. Sure they were a tiny bit snug but they fit. (Want to see how good they look on me? Check out my butt in my Boba review!) And all of my 14s are falling off of me. Too bad I have to stick with my budget. I’ll be visiting the Goodwill later on this week. Because as soon as I have more pants I’m getting rid of the 14s for good! No more turning back. I’m on a roll and I’m going to make it to goal!

Weight Loss Progress
Starting Weight: 224.6 1/30/2011
Size 16
Current Weight: 192.7 2/18/2012
Size 12
Total to go: 37.7lbs
Total lost: 31.9lbs

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Food, Nutrition, and Health Tips for Kids

Food Nutrition and Health Tips for Kids - great snack and meal ideas

One of the biggest problems I have when it comes to my toddler and eating is that he doesn’t eat meals like I do. He would much rather snack all day then have large meals.

So in order to get him to eat during the day I let him have small snacks every two to three hours versus a set breakfast, lunch and dinner. And because it’s so easy to grab a pre-packaged snack from the cupboard I needed to find some simple, quick, healthy snack ideas to keep him fueled throughout the day. [Read more…]

Great Snack Ideas for Kids {Tips and Tricks}

You know the saying, “Variety is the spice of life”? This really holds true when it comes to toddlers and food. I sometimes get in a rut when I go grocery shopping. I buy the same fruits, veggies and snacks over and over again. And I notice that after a few weeks of the same handful of choices my son starts to lose interest in those foods. He even started to turn down berries for breakfast or dessert so I knew things had to change.

This summer I have been buying strawberries, grapes and apples weekly. On a quick trip to Trader Joe’s with my son he saw the oranges from across the store and literally ran to them with glee. He practically begged me to buy some for him. So I obliged and threw in a bag of oranges. I asked him if any of the vegetables looked tasty and he grabbed a crown of broccoli. We got home and immediately he asked for an orange. I peeled it and he devoured it in minutes. Then at dinner time he asked to help make the broccoli so I let him break some up to put in the steamer. He ate that as well (along with a few bites of chicken).

It seemed as though having him choose a few items that he was willing to try lead to him eating more than normal. So I started looking for great suggestions to keep him excited about the food we served him so he would be more willing to eat. Now I don’t expect him to eat like a champ every day. Toddlers eat like cavemen. They scavenge for a few days and just snack a tiny bit and  then they have what I call eating days where they seem to not get enough. Eating days maybe come every 4-5 days… Below are a few tidbits I’ve found from various sources that now help me keep things exciting for him when he does decide to eat.

1. Get the Kids Involved in Meal Planning
Starting the week off with a list of meals to make each day not only saves time but ultimately helps save money as well. Adding the kids into the mix will also save tears and aggravation at dinner time when your child doesn’t like what’s been put in front of them. Let your child help you meal plan so they can choose what they want to eat. Perhaps start by letting one choose one meal a week. Or if you have younger children like me, let them choose the side dish (carbs, starches or veggies). If my son has chosen his veggie than he more than likely eats at least 3 bites of it when served to him at dinner.

2. Take the Kids Grocery Shopping
I know, I know. It’s a pain to take the kids in the grocery store. I used to dread shopping with both of mine and would wait till the weekend to do all of my grocery shopping alone and kid-less (plus I got to indulge in a coffee that wasn’t cold while I shopped). But then, like I mentioned before, my son got excited about eating the food he chose. And I’ve been taking him alone without the baby so he feels like he has my complete attention when I shop. It’s a great bonding time that I actually look forward to now! Plus as your children help choose the meals and then see what ingredients go into the meals they may just start to get interested in making the meals.

3. Let the Kids Help in the Kitchen
Grab that stool from the garage or closet and push it up to the counter. Find odd jobs while prepping for dinner that are safe for your child to do. I purchased a child-safe knife from Pampered Chef that my son uses along side me to chop up herbs while I chop up veggies. He also helps rip up lettuce for salad, add pre-measured cups of ingredients to the bowl and crack eggs. When he starts cooking with me he gets excited about the food he is working with. He’s even taken to eating lettuce and salads without prompting because he prepares the salads for mealtime.

All of these three things will lead to your child not only being proficient in making meals for your family but will also help your child stay on the healthy track. By giving your child the opportunity to make smart choices about food, and then showing them how to prepare the meals to eat, they will know what to do when they get older and have to think about food on their own. My greatest challenge to myself right now is to try and lead a healthier life for my children so that I am the role-model they look to when they choose how they’re going to eat and live.

A great tidbit I heard in a panel discussion at BlogHer’11 from one of the speakers was that the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do” holds no value. What you do says a lot and kids are going to follow your lead. So keep a variety of healthy choices available for your children and get them involved!

Baby-Led Weaning {Ditching the Purees}

Miss M has been interested in our food since she was about 4 1/2 months old. I knew she was ready for solids when she started lurching for our spoons and plates and trying to snag what we were eating. So I started her on purees and she seemed to be into it. But she never seemed to be interested after taking about a tablespoon of food. She was much more into gnawing on the spoon. So I started researching and asking around and found the answer I was looking for. Baby-led weaning.

I put away the purees I made and wiped off the food processor. M’s first real experience with baby-led weaning  was with a food she was used to… apples. I just sauteed them up so they were soft and diced them up. I don’t think I made the pieces big enough so I stopped after a few tastes. Here are a few pictures from her experience 🙂

She did really well picking up the pieces with her fingers so I gave her a few puffs to practice with. Then I started thinking of what I was going to serve for dinner. And I figured carrots would be good to practice with as well. I made sure to keep them in stick form so she could grab onto them and gnaw little pieces off. They were a hit! She loved it and the mess she left proved that she had a great time as well.

Since that first day we’ve offered her a little of whatever we’re having at each meal. Sometimes she just plays with the food and other times she eats a bit. She’s really good at chewing with her gums! Definitely surprised me with how well her gums work to chew.

And she’s doing great with her sippy too. She still uses it mostly as a teether but she does get water out of it every once in a while. Friday night we had pizza so I made her a deconstructed pizza plate of sorts. She got to taste olives, a bit of mozzarella, some steamed broccoli and pizza crust. She looked like she thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the family meal. I wasn’t too sure about the cheese since she seems a bit young to have it but we’ve had no problems so far.

I really think this is not going to be easier for us in general but it’s less stressful, in my opinion. I never worried about how much E was eating when he was on purees but I did start to worry when he started eating table food since I didn’t think he was getting enough. Now I know it’s all just practice at this point. Her main nutrition still comes from my breastmilk and she’s getting really good at playing with her food 🙂

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