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Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Review: Wii Fit

I tested out the Wii Fit tonight with Adam after a friend at work loaned it to me. We just tried out the basic features to see what we thought. I have to admit I was very skeptical…fitness in a video game? Really?

When you are a first-time user on the Wii Fit ($99.99, Wii not included), you set up a fitness profile complete with weight, BMI, balance test, etc., and the system gives you your fitness “age.” You also get several tips and facts about fitness. The system emphasizes setting goals, and gives you fun little ways to keep track and meet them.

The “workouts” are divided into several categories: yoga, aerobics, balance, strength. We tried a few from each, and since I scored pretty low on balance during my assessment, I focused on the balance games. I’m pretty terrible at video games, so it took me awhile to get the hang of things, but some of the exercises were better than others. I enjoyed the yoga, but was frustrated that it was one pose at a time instead of a series.

Neither of us really worked up a sweat and it took way too long between each activity to get to the next, but I liked how it helped you keep good form because you could see where your center of balance was. It was fun and tracking weight and goals is a good method for motivation. For people who never workout, I think the assessment could be a good wake-up call and maybe encourage them to get moving.

I would be surprised if anyone had remarkable results just from using Wii Fit, but I think it’s a good option to have for families and rainy days, maybe to change things up a little.

– albledsoe

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Gadget Review: RunKeeper App

I have had my eye on an all-in-one, watch/GPS/heart rate monitor since I signed up for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. You need an easy way to stay on track when you are logging all of those miles, right? What better way than through the magic of the GPS?! As snazzy as these gizmos are, the $300+ price tag was more than I wanted to spend. My solution – let’s see if there is an app for that!

Sure enough, there is. And, it’s free – even better! There are a number of applications for the iPhone that allow you to take advantage of the GPS capability of the phone. After flipping through a few options I chose the RunKeeper Free application. The application has stopwatch functionality, displays your per mile pace, current pace and lists the number of calories burned during your workout. The calorie count is just an estimate since you don’t enter your weight, but the application allows you to track your time and distance for several sports in addition to running. Cycling, walking, hiking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, skating, swimming and mountain biking are all included activities in the free version of RunKeeper.

You can also manually enter your workouts that are completed when you are indoors or on gym equipment. After recording a workout, all of your data is then saved into your account which you can access at any time online or through the RunKeeper application.

I like that I’m able to launch the application, throw my phone in my fanny pack (oh yeah, I sport the pack when I run outside) and go. I know I’ll have an accurate mileage calculation when I’m done and the application can be paused when needed for bathroom and water breaks. During your workout the display includes your distance traveled, your average per mile pace, and current pace.

My verdict – it’s pretty darn handy for a free app. This has given me the flexibility to track my outdoor runs and the freedom to make up my route along the way. Who likes to backtrack and drive their route after they are finished? Not me! I also like having an easy way to access an electronic record of my runs. I can flip through to see my progress and get a pre-workout pick-me-up if needed; it’s nice to have a reminder of the miles I have already logged before heading out for a long run. I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a reliable GPS option, but doesn’t want to spend a small fortune on the “perfect” watch/GPS/HRM combo. I’ve still got my eye on my dream watch, but my handy RunKeeper is what I will be using to stay on track until the big day in April.

RunKeeper also offers an upgraded version and a subscription service that allows you to utilize their reporting functions to analyze your workouts, view graphs, and connect with other users.

How do you prefer to track your mileage when walking, running or cycling?
-Sara

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With the super-sized culture showing up everywhere you look in the food industry, I was delighted when I received a gift that was the exact opposite of the, “bigger is better” philosophy. A dear friend treated me to a set of mini kitchen goodies complete with miniature utensils, baking dishes and preparation bowls.

My Miniature Kitchen Utensils

She knew that I would enjoy anything for the kitchen, but she picked these out so I could sample new recipes without committing to an entire 9×13 pan of it. What a sweetie!

My most recent mini-adventure was during my Mexican food challenge. I made miniature chile rellano casseroles. Cooking with smaller dishes and in smaller portions is great because:

  • You can try out some things that you might have otherwise dismissed; small portions equal a small commitment.
  • Your cooking time gets cut WAY down. A casserole that takes 60 minutes to cook when in regular casserole size may only be a 20 minutes. Who doesn’t love a 30 minute meal?

Sure this was a gift for me, but I’m ready to share the love and try any sort of miniature treat you want to have tested. I’ll give it a go and report back with all the details. (I mean, we’re called Fit To Be Tried for a reason!)

Leave a comment to submit your mini recipe today!

-Sara

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Although the Smarty Panties didn’t win the No Skirts Allowed Adventure Race this year, we did get a sweet door prize: vouchers for a free pair of Salomon XT Wings Trail Running Shoes. I was so excited…what girl doesn’t love shoes? And free ones at that!

Salomon XT Wings

Salomon XT Wings

Within a few days of returning to Louisville at the race, I headed to the Trail Store to get fitted and mailed in my voucher. Funny enough, the staffer who helped me was wearing these shoes, and he gave a great testimonial. He said he wears them for running and casually, and loves them. Sweet! Less than a week later, the box with my shiny new shoes had arrived.

I had been running in a pair of Asics that were described as road/trail hybrids. They did the trick, but a dedicated pair of trail shoes was definitely on my wish list, and now here they were on my front stoop! The first run in the XT Wings started out great. The shoes are lighter, have great traction/tread, and I really like the cinch-style (“Quicklace”) lacing system, though it’s taking some getting used to. A bonus is that they’re pretty cute, gotta love the green and grey color scheme (like F2BT!).

A couple miles into the test run, I got an all-to-familiar feeling…blisters forming on the arches of my feet. This is a personal problem I have learned to live with, and after several years I’ve found a pretty reliable fix (or fixes): Superfeet insoles, BodyGlide, and the perfect socks (which can vary depending on the shoes, and takes some trial and error to discover).

We slowed to a walk and finished our route, I let the blisters heal, and next time time tried the shoes with my insoles. No blisters!

The best thing I’ve noticed since I started running trails in these shoes is the sturdy reinforced toe. I can stub my toe on a tree root or the dirt (yeah, I’m not the most graceful runner around) and not even feel it. I even tripped once and fell flat on my face, but my toe was no worse for wear! They’re also easier to clean, which is handy for muddy Kentucky winters.

I’d give these shoes 3.5 of 4 stars so far. If I had paid for them, I would definitely be satisfied with my purchase.

– albledsoe

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Tea for Two

As much as I like to cook, I rarely treat myself to new kitchen gadgets. They can be expensive and often end up in the back of a cabinet. But, I can sure browse with the best of them. A few weeks ago, I spent at least 10 minutes deciding whether or not I would really use a “jam spoon.” My brain finally started working and I realized I was considering paying $10 for an oversized teaspoon with a built in jar opener. I think I’ll stick with a butter knife…

Teavana Perfect Tea Maker

Teavana®Perfect Tea Maker

So, when my husband suggested that we head to Teavana last weekend, I figured it would be just another of my usual kitchen gadget browsing sessions. I was definitely wrong. I picked out two new green teas and I got the mother of all tea gadgets, a Teavana®Perfect Tea Maker. If you are a tea drinker, this is the gadget for you.

You can use the Tea Maker to make a single cup or an entire pitcher of loose leaf tea. It has a built in filter in the bottom so you are able to pour the hot water in with the tea, let it steep, and then drain it directly into your cup. No tea leaf particles, and best of all, it can go in the dishwasher after you empty it out the leaves. It might as well be self cleaning!

This handy gadget makes drinking loose leaf teas much easier. You can get really great tea in a flash. Speaking of really great tea… go green! The antioxidants in green tea have the potential to help your heart, and fight cancer all in one sip. How much should you drink? Marji McCullough, ScD, RD, the American Cancer Society’s strategic director of nutritional epidemiology, offers this as a suggestion: “eat your fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts — and go ahead, drink as much green tea as you want.”

Lucky for me, brewing just got a little easier!

What is your favorite tea to brew?

– Sara

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