Shine On

Santa brought me a Misfit Shine, aka the prettiest wearable on the block. How does it stack up against my beloved FitBit?

I’d been coveting a Shine ever since I saw that it can be worn as a necklace. My main problem with most wearables is that they’re worn around the wrist, and I hate having things on my wrists. The FitBit, of course, can be clipped to waistbands or bra straps, but it still kind of always seemed to be in the way. Also, I was constantly worried that I’d forget to unclip it and put it through the wash – or (as was often the case) I’d carefully remove it and then forget to put it back on before my next outing.

misfit shine on a necklaceA necklace, though – that I can do. I originally had my eye on the Sport Necklace accessory, but it turns out the magnetic “clip” works just perfectly with a plain leather necklace threaded through it. It’s pretty cute, too, and it doesn’t scream FITNESS WEARABLE.

At night I do wear it on my wrist to track my sleep; the rubber sport band isn’t too uncomfortable and I mostly don’t notice it. By morning I’m usually wanting to take it off, though, which actually is a good thing because it means I don’t forget to put it on the necklace.

As far as tracking data goes, the Shine is a lot more limited than the FitBit. It shows your steps and an activity graph, but doesn’t track elevation or activity type; the most detailed view shows activity blocks rated by levels of exertion (pretty active, kinda active, etc – I’ve yet to get very active, so I’m not sure what the exact phrasing is for that one) with a graphic of a little exercising dude. Cute, but not super useful. There doesn’t seem to be a way to see daily or weekly totals.

The sleep tracker is also less detailed than the FitBit, with no readily available guide to the difference between “sleep” and “restful sleep.” Sleep time seems pretty accurate. I can clearly see periods of non-sleep that correspond to nighttime wakeups (yay, babies who don’t sleep through the night). Again, I wish there were more details, but I’m satisfied with what it shows.

The Shine does sync with the iPhone Health app, but it only syncs step data, not sleep. (I’m pretty sure the Misfit Beddit syncs sleep data with the Health app, though.) That’s the biggest thing on my wishlist for future updates, but I’m not holding my breath.

All in all I’ve been really happy with the Misfit. It hits a nice balance between fashion accessory and fitness tracker and does a good job of feeding my hunger for stats. And there are some seriously cute new accessories coming out soon, too!

The Dreaded Growing-Out

You’d think, considering how often I chop off all my hair, that I’d be an expert at the whole growing-out thing by now. You’d think that I’d have more tools in my hairstyling arsenal than hats and despair.

Trust me, this is as good as it was going to get.
Trust me, this is as good as it was going to get.

I loved, loved, loved the extensions I got for Mother’s Day, but they’re long gone now and I’m left with…well, this:

In the absence of an on-call hairstylist, I did what any girl in my situation would do: trolled Pinterest for ideas about how to grow out a pixie cut without wanting to jam scissors into my eye.

Pinterest had many good ideas, most of which seemed to presuppose that the natural disposition of one’s hair was somewhat more tractable than mine. I did notice a couple of themes in all the growing-out posts: curling irons are our friends, and the hair over one’s ears is not.

Ignore the dire face.
Ignore the dire face. It’s just my face.

So I curled. Yes, I curled. Then I got bored of curling and busted out the scissors instead. I trimmed my sideburns and the horrible tufts over my ears, and thinned out my bangs a little. And the result is…pretty good, I think!

I’m much happier with it and may actually go outside without a hat sometime in the nearish future. Possibly. Especially now that Rory unraveled my favorite hat.

Here is an animated gif to memorialize the transition. You’re welcome.

If this GIF does not play it's because of science or something.
If this GIF does not play it’s because of science or something. Also the cleavage is not deliberate; I’m a nursing mama and boy does it show. ::clutches pearls::

Just Write: Day 1

Baby: sleeping. Timer: set.

Brain…well…brain is sort of all over the place, but that’s par for the course these days. I’m pretty sure I forgot how hard it is to have a baby and to sleep in fits and starts and crave sugar like a mad woman (this from someone who normally craves sugar like a mad woman, which seems sort of quaint in retrospect). But who needs a fully functional brain, am I right? Rational thought is highly overrated.

I’m doing this writing challenge (Writing 101: Building A Blogging Habit) and the first day is supposed to be a brain dump, essentially. Twenty minutes of free writing. Did I mention I set the timer? Otherwise I’d be tabbing over to Facebook and getting distracted by posts from baby gear manufacturers and forgetting what I was supposed to be focusing on. I keep entering these contests to win things like play yards and high-end strollers and whatnot. It’s like some weird sort of addiction. I don’t win, but I could win, and entering is relatively easy – all it takes is signing up for a newsletter or adding a brand to my Like list. Attention has become currency. It’s bizarre, but it’s interesting, too, the way paying attention to something has worth.

And there’s something to be said for that – I’ve definitely found myself buying certain brands because I follow them on social media and like the way they come across. Probably some are brands I only followed to enter a contest. (On the other hand, I’ve unfollowed many, many other contest-entry Likes because they turned out to be annoying/religious/spammy/off-topic/whatever, so it’s by no means across the board.)

Losing the thread here. Refocusing. What was I talking about again? Free writing, guys: not as easy as it looks. (I did NaNoWriMo one year as a free writing exercise, and oh man, was that manuscript terrible. I can’t even bear to look at it. SO BAD.) (I’m pretty sure that was one of the years I won, though.)

I keep stopping, resting my fingers against the keys, feeling the grooves on the f and the j like they will tell me what to type next. Part of me wants to keep going. Just keep writing, crack open my head and dump the contents onto a page.

Most of me wants to go to sleep. The baby’s sleeping. (Sort of.) It looks like a lot of fun.

And that’s it. Twenty minutes. I could have written more if I hadn’t paused to gather my thoughts or whatever, but this isn’t too bad. 450 words, give or take. I’ll take it.

in like a lion

March, man. March is brutal. For one thing: the weather. Last year at this time it was temperate and beautiful. Sandals were worn. Skirts.

This year? Rain and more rain, with high temperatures barely cracking 50 degrees.

So maybe I can blame the weather for the fact that I am totally lagging on my second Health Month.
health month march stats

Don’t let the points fool you: I’ve healed myself twice (and Not So was kind enough to heal me once as well) so technically I should be barely scraping by at around 5 points.

Surprisingly, it’s the little things that are catching me out – flossing, for example. Some nights it’s just too much, you know? Cooking dinner four nights a week – well, some weeks we’re doing a lot more takeout than others, is all I’m saying. (It’s a good thing I don’t have a ‘clean the house’ rule, too. Seriously.)

I’m not as motivated this month as I was last month and it shows. Shockingly, being sick for three weeks (and then having a sick kid) kind of takes it out of you! Not to mention the fact that we’re doing a huge lifestyle restructure, which is good – very good – but not unstressful.

There are a few things lurking on the plus side, though. Sugar, for example. Sticking to the three-days-a-week rule this month? A breeze.

And since I’ve been forcing myself to floss (almost) every night, my gums have been a lot happier. It’s like every dentist I’ve ever had knew what they were talking about! Crazy.

Maybe the trick is to not load up on rules. Incremental changes are the way to go. I’ll keep that in mind for next month, when I – oh, who am I kidding? I’m going to do what I always do: vastly over-estimate the amount of time and motivation I possess and then feel horrid when I don’t accomplish everything on my list.

Join me next month! It’ll be like a slow-mo train wreck. You know you want to.

Recap: February Health Month

Sooo-o, I managed to make it through February. Barely. Let’s take a look back, shall we?
February Health Month

I managed to follow my paltry two rules meticulously until the last three days of the last week. Screw it, I thought. I’m stressed and cranky and having a breakdown or whatever.* I can do better next month. So I had dessert. Two days worth of dessert.

But a weird thing happened: after two days of sugar, I didn’t want any more.

Which is so not a thing I ever thought I’d say.

Anyway, the stats:

Health Month Progress Graph

You see that dip there at the end? That was me, stuffing my face with ice cream sandwiches and my first Snickers bar in a month. (And the climb on the very last day was me nursing a wicked sugar hangover.)

But! Despite falling off the wagon for the last couple of days, I still got my badge:
Health Month Badge

Isn’t it pretty and shiny?

I’m playing again this month; you can follow along here. Sign up for next month while you’re there! You can even be on my team. Maybe.


Changing habits, one badge at a time

The entire concept behind Health Month is pretty excellent: make changes to your patterns and habits by making it into a game. You get to set rules and then win points every day for following them. You earn fruit, and if your Life Points get too low, you can replenish them (or someone else’s) by using your fruit. And then at the end of the month, if you’ve followed all your rules, you get a FourSquare badge.

I probably don’t have to tell you how intensely I covet the FourSquare badge.

Health Month was created by Buster Benson, the same guy behind the fantastic 750 Words, a site that encourages daily writing by creating challenges and giving badges as rewards. Health Month is a similar setup, only with lots more options. You can totally customize your goals – anything from “Sleep More” to “Exercise Daily” to “Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup.” There’s even a wheel you can spin to add to the random aspect: sometimes you get extra points, but occasionally you lose points. It’s all part of the fun!

Since I’m just starting out, this month’s rules are pretty basic: take a multivitamin every day (easy) and only allow myself added sugar 3 days per week (…not so easy). The idea is to make incremental changes rather than major lifestyle overhauls.

And, two weeks in, it seems to be working. Despite the fact that I crave cake like no one’s business, I am kicking ass at Health Month.

my Health Month wall

That said, next month I plan to really bump it up. It should be pretty fun to watch, so if you have any interest in making any changes to your habits or diet or whatever, you should sign up for next month too! Make sure you add me as a friend so we can keep track of each other’s progress, or throw fruit at each other, or whatever.

In which we learn just how sleep-deprived I am

My WakeMate came in the mail yesterday.* What is a WakeMate, you ask? Well. It’s this thing, you see, and you wear it while you sleep, and in the morning you can see exactly how restful your sleep actually was. Also it keeps track of your sleep patterns and the idea is that it can tailor your wake-up time to your sleep cycle so you wake up feeling all chipper and refreshed.

Also, it’s very stylish and I think I will wear it during the day as an accessory.
WakeMate armband
(I kid.)

I was super excited to try it out since I wake up every morning feeling like I got run over by a truck. Sleep is supposed to be restful, right? I mean, I’m not a morning person under the best of circumstances, but between Not So’s insomnia and the kid leaping into bed with me every morning to snuggle (have I mentioned just how many elbows and knees he has?) I feel like I’m trying to sleep on an amusement park ride.

Anyway, so. I’ve tried tracking my sleep using things like YawnLog, but it’s hard to be objective about things like sleep. I’m pretty sure, for example, that the nights when I’m like I totally didn’t sleep AT ALL I probably did sleep, some. Maybe.

But the WakeMate will answer the question once and for all.

(Have I mentioned how much I love gadgets?)

I set up the app on my iPhone, which was pretty easy.

There was a certain amount of turning things on and off (and having to go to a specific page on the WakeMate site for instructions, since the little card that came with the device was somewhat exceptionally vague – probably because there are different instructions for each gadget you can sync it with) but once I got it all charged up and discovered on my phone’s Bluetooth I was ready to go.

Then I just had to, you know, sleep.

Here’s where I’d start talking about how my night went, but it would be a lot easier for you to just, you know, look at the chart:

Yes. In fact, I slept like crap. Sure, I was in bed for 8 hours and change, but it took me 23 minutes to fall asleep! And I woke up 24 times in the night! No wonder I feel like a zombie.

The device itself was remarkably unobtrusive. I barely noticed the wristband while I slept and there were no incidents of me yanking it off and throwing it across the room (which was a thing that happened to my retainer in high school, about which I apparently harbored extreme ill will).

I can’t wait to find out how I do tonight.

*Do I seriously have to mention every time I post about a product that I don’t do sponsored posts? Seriously. People do not give me things. And if they did, trust me, I would state that upfront.

This is my resolved face

Usually my New Year’s resolutions are sort of cribbed together at the last minute and comprised of various levels of wishful thinking. Not this year! This year, I’m taking All The Reasons 2010 Sucked (TM) and using them as a base for some make-my-life-better resolutions. Not unlike a roux. A roux of suck.


1. I will write for two hours every weekday.

2. I will EXERCISE. (Yes I know, this is on my list every year.) Not So got me a 5-class gift certificate to Barre 3, my absolute favorite exercise studio anywhere ever, which means I totally don’t have any excuse to slack. At least for a little while.

3. I will set up a budget and stick to it. 2010 (Which Sucked (TM)) was the year we went into crazy debt when business dried up, and though it would have sucked any way you slice it, having some backup in the form of savings would have kept me slightly more sane for the duration. I think. Maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe money problems will ALWAYS make me into a crazy person. Clearly the only solution is to become disgustingly wealthy.


1. No more friends as clients. Friends + work = not mixy. (This is not to say I don’t become friends with my clients. I love that! But the other way around is just a recipe for doom.)

2. No more working for the weekend. Loverboy may have rocked the red leather pants*, but I vow to save weekends for other things, like sleeping and hanging out with my husband and my kid. And crocheting, which I did way too little of in 2010.

3. No more working on the cheap. I read somewhere that designers should do projects for full price or for free – never at a discount. Initially I scoffed, but now I’m kind of thinking that article was onto something. I’ve got sort of a half-baked plan to set aside a certain number of hours for pro-bono stuff that maybe I’ll offer to worthy causes or something. Something.

4. I will hire some sort of accounting/bookkeeping/numbers person to deal with the stuff I don’t know how to deal with, i.e. anything related to taxes. DONE! Look at that, it’s barely the new year and I’ve already checked something off. Woot!

*Yes. I totally just made an early-80s Loverboy reference that no one under 30 will get. I AM OFFICIALLY OLD.

so. and stuff.

Yeah, so that whole ‘ulcer’ thing? Not so much. Gastro Doc and his Snaking Cameras of Doom went in and found…nothing. A perfect set of innards, with nary a blemish. A week later the blood work came back with the all-clear as well.

So, um…good?

I mean, good, obviously, but you know what would be better? If I didn’t still hurt so goddamn much. Seriously, figure out a) why I’m in so much pain every couple of weeks and b) how to make that not happen anymore, and I will be in a really fucking good mood. I promise.

(Actually I’m in a pretty good mood currently…but still.)


Probably the most difficult part of this whole ulcer thing – aside from the OW, of course – is the fact that I can’t have sugar.

Well, I CAN have sugar, technically – the doctor didn’t say anything about avoiding it except in a sort of roundabout way – but sugar gives me headaches, and I can’t take Advil anymore, so no headaches = good, yeah? (I can’t tell if treats make the ulcer worse, since currently anything I eat kind of makes it hurt.)

But as you all may be aware, I am a sugar addict. I just had to cancel my plans to join a group of friends tonight because we were all meeting for dessert at this fabulous dessert restaurant; I took one look at the menu and went I can’t be around this stuff without having something. Which…is good, right? Progress? Kind of like a newly-enwagoned alcoholic bowing out of an evening at the bar?

I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the gastro doc (with whom I still need to make an appointment, gack) will give me antibiotics and then this whole thing will be done. And I can celebrate with dessert.