Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our Fitbit Family Saga

So last week Hubs was taking the boys out for a bit (Mommy alone time ... ahhhh) when I received a text from Hubs ...

#3's Fitbit Flex ... just the band, without the small Fitbit device in it. I quickly checked the charger in his room, and there it was, with it's little lights a glowing. That's better than being lost, but #3 was bummed about missing out on his steps that morning.

As we are a Fitbit Family,  there is generally enough happening in any given month, that I thought maybe I'd try to make this a monthly installment. Check back, we'll see how that goes.

#3 (my 14-year old) was the last one in the family to get a Fitbit. He didn't really even want one, but I wanted him to have one. He actually wasn't crazy about wearing it. He had a One, clipped to his shorts, and he'd complain that he'd bump it with his hand and it would be uncomfortable. He said he wasn't allowed to wear it during his basketball games (although #2 always wears his, out of sight so no one says a thing). 

When Hubs decided to invest in the Surge, I figured I'd switch out the #3's One for a Flex. He did seem slightly interested in trying the wrist one (originally purchased for #1 son almost a year ago before he decided he'd rather have a clip on version). It's been a pretty good match for him. I even invested in some additional bands (you can get them in a gazillion colors/patterns on Amazon or Ebay) and some of the "protector" bands to keep it on more securely. 

If you read the Surge post, you know Hubs ended up returning it. I had actually passed the One onto the 9-year old (replacing his Zip) and he was NOT about to swap back. He liked the One. So ... Hubs got the Zip. It is actually a good fit for Hubs though. He wasn't wearing it bed to track sleep, didn't really care about stairs, and not having to constantly recharge the battery is a win for him.

I ended up buying another Zip too, because #2 lost his One. He'd been playing basketball in a tournament, and later realized it was missing (the clip was still there, just no One in it, it got sweaty and slipped out).  I told him he should have at least tried using the BTLExplorer app (Fitbit Finder) but alas he had not. I just picked up the least expensive option for him, as it's mainly just steps he's counting as well. 

So that's the family Fitbit saga from the past few months ... #2 and Hubs have achieved the number one spot recently. I'm slipping!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recent Reads - The Legacy Series

I love it when I simply stumble upon a great series. I read Twilight, but after all the hype, and waiting in-between books, it was a bit of a disappointment. I liked the Hunger Games a lot, but I must admit during the wait for the third book I forgot quite a bit. Divergent ... another YA dystopian I enjoyed, as did much of the world. I really feel like "The Legacy" rates right up there with these more well known trilogies, but so far I haven't heard of anyone else I know personally who has discovered these. I think they certainly deserve a shout out!

Book 1 is available for purchase in paperback, although it's a bit pricey. The Kindle cost is $4.99, but I was lucky enough to snag it for free. Often authors/publishers or Amazon will offer  books for free for a limited time. Sites like Book Bub and Pixal of Ink can help you watch for these ... it's a little hit and miss, in both what is offered, and sometimes the quality of free offerings, but I'll often "buy" a free book a day from these recommendations and spotlights. I just keep them in my Kindle cloud until I'm ready to read. That's what happened here ... I'd "purchased" book 1, and when I needed my next read, it was at the top of my recent purchases, and I decided to give it a try. 

The book is written in first person/present tense. I sometimes struggle with this perspective, unless it's really well written. This was. One TINY thing that would distract me a bit from my reading was all the British spellings of words (civilisation, idolised, sombrely, realised, strategising, apologises, hiccoughs, honoured, centre, etc). I do realize these are accepted English spellings, but they just jump out at my ol' American brain. :) I think I'm much more accepting of it if the setting/characters are British, but here, they were obviously American. 

The first two books in the series were published in 2013, book three came out in January of 2015. Lucky for me, I didn't discover the series until all three books in the trilogy were available. I was so glad I was able to go right from one to the next without having to wait. I DID have to BUY the follow-ups to the first book (they are reasonable, also just $4.99 each, I am just super cheap and feel bad buying books when I have hundreds already waiting in my Kindle cloud.) These seem to be new and unknown, so they aren't available at my library. The second/third book are ONLY available as e-books (which is fine by me, especially as I wanted them IMMEDIATELY, but I know many out there are still prefer physical books).  I read these back to back, one immediately after the other. Sometimes I don't want to do that with a series ... I need a break. But not here.  I really got to know and care about the characters. There is a love triangle, but it's seriously one of the hardest ones I've ever read!(and I mean that in a good way, I could NOT choose either!)

I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we all do a bit don't we? These were simple and stark and I thought they were great. 
I love how consistent the covers are too.  That's a silly pet peeve of mine, when the covers for a series look really different. I like them to flow there in addition to in the written word. 

There aren't many reviews on these (on either Amazon or GoodReads, especially for the third book). I'm just surprised there aren't more people reading these, as I loved them. If you are looking for something to read ... I recommend these! Let me know what you think!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weekly Weigh-In and Recap (#105)

Here in Utah, the week of the 24th is a holiday week. It's our state holiday. That did impact my Zumba for the week, as several of the classes were taking the week off. Happily, I have enough backups that I still hit my Zumba each morning, and I even got one in last Saturday. As I posted on Monday, Hubs did return from his European vacation this week. Just in time for our anniversary. 23 years! Here's a quick recap of the day by day ...

  • Friday (0717): Got in Zumba and elliptical ... and picked up a new kitten! While the Hubs is away, the family will play. He was out of town when we got our first kitty too!
  • Saturday (0718): Went to a Saturday Zumba, it was a great way to start the day. Went to #5's basketball game and got in some elliptical.
  • Sunday (0719): Rest Day.  I did walk to/from church, but that was the only activity for the day.
  • Monday (0720): Nina was back at Southziders! Got in elliptical too. Hubs was supposed to be home late today, but missed his flights and couldn't get another until tomorrow :(
  • Tuesday (0721):  My usual Zumba was taking this week off, but I had a backup. Got in elliptical too. Much overeating today though! And finally, the Hubs is home!
  • Wednesday (0722): Anticipating an anniversary dinner, I didn't eat much during the day. Still got in Zumba, elliptical and bike!
  • Thursday (0723): Hit Zumba in the morning (not my regular, although MZL is one I hit regularly, just not on Thursdays)  and got in elliptical during the day, but not terribly productive as I was playing the "waiting game" wondering when my chauffeur skills would be required (picking up #2's truck at the mechanic and the kids from the gym). 
 The new kitten ... they named her "Joy"

 Out for our anniversary ... #23!

So I did decent as far as fitness. Got in my Zumba, even with cancelled classes. Elliptical everyday, one bike session (no treadmill or weights though). I've been a little unmotivated, my steps have been suffering Food ... wasn't great, per usual. I had two really bad days (Sun&Tues) with big overages, my small deficits on other days weren't enough to make a dent. NUMBERS: Actual weigh-in and the weekly average were both up just a smidgen (.3, .04 respectively). Average intake was a whopping 2450. Average daily burn was 2714. I didn't have a deficit for the week, but was over by 1185.

I'll leave you with a couple video shorts from the week ...
 of kitten fun, and Daddy and his duckies!
A video posted by JenB (@jenblackham) on

Monday, July 20, 2015

Vacation Steps - 35k in a Day

I am not one for vacations. My anxieties kick in just thinking about it. The hours of travel, the unfamiliar and crowded tourist destinations, the food (I'm super picky). I'm just a homebody. My BIL and his family are on the opposite end of the scale. They planned out a month long European vacation for this summer. London, Paris, Italy, Rome, and Barcelona. My MIL joined them for the first leg of the trip, and my hubs decided to join them on the last leg. His passport arrived July 7, he left July 8 ... he was supposed to be back tonight, but a long line at customs and security made him miss his flight, so we won't get him home until tomorrow. :(  I have enjoyed his vacation vicariously though. 

Hubs currently has a Fitbit Zip, which is a nice device for traveling. It doesn't need charging, as it has a regular, replaceable battery. I went into his Fitbit account and changed his settings to adjust to the eight hour time difference. The first days were travel and travel recuperation ... then he met up with his brother and his family and ...

That was quite a day! Over 35K in steps! That earned him a new Fitbit badge for most steps walked in a day. That was their biggest day, but he continued to rack up impressive step counts as they saw all the sights.  Of course that also resulted in this ...


  Some of the sights ...

LATE dinners ...

 Traditional snacks still ...

...and LOTS of gelato!
We'll have to see which wins out for a weigh-in ...
all the walking, or all the eating!

Hubs did pull ahead on the Fitbit steps. I just could not keep up with all his activity (no actual "exercise" though). Hubs was pretty proud as he took over the #1 spot. He had to send me this screen grab :) Of course, today, he's been on planes all day, and I have retaken the lead (and #2 son slipped into #1 position for a bit before I took it over again). 

It's been the summer of Hub's European vacation ...
but I'm ready to have him home again!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weekly Weigh-In and Recap (#104)

I remember mere months ago, when I was stuck in the lower 150s, a tad frustrated I couldn't make the drop into the 140s. Here I am up 10 pounds, now wishing the lower 150s (or even the upper ones) were being seen on the scale. Alas, in my depression I just keep on eating, prolonging the problem!

NUMBERS: Up a bit from last week (.07) although the average went down a smidgen (to 164.20). Average in was 2364, average daily burn was 2676. That did actually end the week with a deficit ... a whopping -86 calories. The goal would be intake under 2000, and upping that burn, getting a deficit of -3500. It hasn't been happening lately.

Here's a quick week recap ...
  • Friday (0710): I had a pretty productive day with Zumba, elliptical, treadmill and bike, but Hubs reporting in from Italy had a whopping 35K on his Fitbit. That was a new badge for him. Even with all my exercise, I outdid them consuming calories. Darn Reeses eggs!
  • Saturday (0711): Basketball in the morning, a Zumba fundraiser in the afternoon. Better exercise Saturday than I've had in a bit, but I also blew it eating. Dang Chex Muddy Buddy Mix!
  • Sunday (0712): Planned rest day ... I didn't even hit 5K, but I did keep calories in check.
  • Monday (0713): My usual Zumba was taking a break, but I had a backup, although it didn't get me my usual stats. Got in elliptical and bike and kept calories in check.
  • Tuesday (0714): Zumba, plus the walk to/from the church. Got in several sessions on the elliptical ... and finished up the Reeses Eggs (so calories were over).
  • Wednesday (0715): Hit Zumba in the morning, then spent the rest of the day with family at a funeral. I hadn't eaten anything before, had a bit at the family luncheon, but did pretty good on calories today.
  • Thursday (0716): Hubs was supposed to be heading home today, but decided to extend his vacation a few more days. I'll admit to feeling a bit down, didn't feel as up to exercise, did feel like indulging in comfort food. Still hit Zumba and did some elliptical. 
Keeping an eye on the animals ... when kitty is out at the same time as the duckies. With Hubs gone, more "duckie duty" has fallen to me. The kids do help, but it does take some time every day. Luckily, we love our duckies (and our kitty!)

 #5 had cub camp on Wednesday and Thursday. 8:00 -3:00. So I was up a little earlier those mornings. The child was NOT excited to go (that's a very half-hearted thumbs up) but I think he liked it okay. He came home filthy both days!

Off in Italy, Hubs connected with his brother (and his wife and two daughters, they have been on a month long European tour). No "exercise" but all their sight-seeing has Hubs ahead of me in steps!

My cousin's family ... it was their little girl who passed away (obit).
Diagnosed with MLD eight years ago, she outlived the doctor's expectations.
(Little Eliza, Eliza'sWish).

So another week in the books. I didn't manage to make any real changes to my food or fitness, so there were really no changes on the scale either. I guess that is to be expected.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thrifty Thursday - Shop Your Way Rewards

I've never been a big shopper. I do it when necessary, but it's not something I enjoy. We have both a Kmart and Sears quite close by, but they weren't stores I would frequent. I do now though. Ever since I discovered Fitstudio! Fitstudio is a  rewards program, giving store credit for fitness. I simply linked my Fitbit, and every week ... $5 or more in points. As we all have Fitbits, I got my husband on board, my older boys, my parents. I now stop and shop at least once a week (as the points do have a quick expiration date, use them or lose them). I do enjoy getting deals and steals!

In addition to my fitness points, there will often be sales, coupons, and surprise points. These can often be used together. I ended up shopping enough on my own account, that I went ahead and paid for "MAX" which includes free shipping on many products. Usually this runs $40, but there was a special around Christmas, and I got it for $19. The Max program also adds $3 in points every month, so that definitely made it worth it to me. Anyone who doesn't have a Kmart or Sears around might look into that option. They offer a 3-month trial free as well (no strings!)

As the points do expire quickly, at times I'll have $5 or more waiting, and I know I'm not going to make it into the store. I'll jump online and check out the sales, find something within my points range, have it shipped to the store ... and my entire transaction didn't cost me a penny! I've picked up many t-shirts for myself and the boys. Shoes, shorts, sunglasses, a new basketball, a purse... I've picked up SO many things for little or no cost to me. I prefer the Sears pickup ... they guarantee to have you in and out in five minutes or less, and you can even pick it up without ever having to leave you car!

$5 doesn't sound like a lot ... but often I'll just stop and grab a package of paper towels or toilet paper. You always need those things! The savings really add up. If you watch, sometimes a new $5 will be added right before the previous week's one expires, and you have a little more money to play with. There are also additional ways to add a little more ... daily workouts, posting to FB or Twitter, participating in challenges. A couple of my separate Fitstudio accounts got combined into our main Shop Your Way rewards number ... and that account adds up even faster. 

If you have a Fitbit, or one of the other fitness trackers (Jawbone, BodyMedia, Nike, Moves, Map My Fitness) and a Kmart or Sears close by ... I absolutely recommend this program.  If you don't have a tracker, I believe you can add your workouts manually (it's just a bit more work). 

I'm a little surprised this program isn't more well known. The cashiers at Kmart haven't even been aware of it ... one of the cashiers that checked me out regularly (as I mentioned, I now make weekly trips in) ended up buying a Fitbit JUST to participate in this program, because she saw how much I was saving. 

So every few months, I'll probably jump here on the blog, and do a Thrifty Thursday post and tell you about all the things I've "purchased" for pennies (or nothing) lately using my Shop Your Way Rewards points. I actually feel guilty at times ... ;)

Anyone else enjoying FitStudio?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What I'm Watching - Sense8

Time for another edition of TV Tuesday. Television shows are my distraction/motivation while I exercise. While on the elliptical or treadmill, or even doing my weight workout, that's when I watch.

We have both Netflix and Amazon Prime. As I needed a new program, I decided to give a Netflix Original a try. Sense8. It was pretty bizarre, and definitely not network TV (more profanity, nudity and sex even than many HBO shows). And if homosexuality is hard for you to handle, you'll probably have a tough time. After a bit of a bumpy start, getting to know the characters and such, the story was quite intriguing. Weird. Bizarre ... but good. A couple of times I'd only planned on a quick 10 minute session, and ended up staying on my machines for a longer workout.

I've always loved accents ... this show had a LOT. The eight main characters are spread all over the world, and of course they all speak English. Accented English. I was glad for subtitles/captions (which I have on all the time if they are available).

It was a bit over the top ... too paranormal for my husband to enjoy at all. I'm into that stuff though. It jumped around a lot. Not all the characters were that likeable, especially at the start, but they all grew on me. It was interesting to see how everyone has their own strengths. All the sensates were new actors to me (I've never seen them in anything else). Naveen Andrews (Sayid from Lost) and a small role for Daryl Hannah were the only familiar faces.

I really hadn't heard about this show anywhere ... it was just one I happened to see added on Netflix, and I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did.

... and that's what I've been watching. 
What to watch next ...

Anyone else watched this show? Your thoughts?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weekly Weigh-in and Recap (#103)

Well ... last weekend was AWFUL for food/fitness. It was the Fourth of July holiday, so there were family celebrations and such. A new high on the weight there Monday morning, but then I did get motivated enough to control calories, for a few days anyway. NUMBERS: Friday weigh-in weight was down 1.4 pounds from last week, but the average actually went up .79 (to 164.63). Average in was 2390, average daily burn was 2690 ... crunching the numbers, I ended up with a calorie overage for the week of 570.

Starting Monday, I did have some good calorie control days. Monday at 1600, Tuesday at 1750, Wednesday up to 2000, and then over on Thursday, right before weigh-in. But the weekend before those days was SO bad, even those under 2000 days couldn't balance things out.  I did pretty good with exercise this week. My usual Zumba and elliptical, plus I got in several sessions on the bike, and I did do some weights.

Here's a quick look back at the week ...

  • Friday: Hubs had the day off and wanted to take the kids waverunning. I was in an emotional funk that day. I really wasn't up to going (the long drive, the crowds, the sun, a swimsuit) so I stayed home, fetal position in bed most of the day, but still managed to consume a ton of calories.
  • Saturday: 4th of July holiday. Hubs suggested breakfast out, so we went. Had a family party in the evening, so there was overeating.
  • Sunday: Still got in a bit of elliptical today. Had a family party with my side of the clan.
  • Monday: Good day ... controlled calories and got in a lot of activity.
  • Tuesday: Pretty good day ... kept calories in check, got in my Zumba, elliptical, bike and weights. Hubs final packing prep, as he's leaving tomorrow for a week long Italian vacation.
  • Wednesday: Hubs was off early. I hit Zumba and did elliptical, but was having trouble feeling motivated. Barely kept calories at 2000. TOM time.
  • Thursday: Zumba in the morning, and evening! Got in elliptical too, but also overate today.

 The boys enjoying the beach on Friday (it was actually SO crowded, the ramps were full and they couldn't put the wave runners in the water).

 Saturday Breakfast (Big Head cutout representing #1 son who is in Mexico)

 Family on the Forth 

So ... this weekend wasn't quite as bad. Maybe I won't start of Monday with quite the deficit from last week. Hopefully I WILL have my Monday motivation. See if I can't control the calories going in. Even if I didn't give up sugar completely, or quit carbs or go Paleo or completely clean. If I just IMPROVED both the quantity and quality, just a little bit, I know I could  see a change. 

Did you know, that this little 10.5oz package of Chex Muddy Buddies is actually TEN servings (130 calories each). Do you know how easy it is to just pick at the package while writing on the computer and consume the entire thing?  It. Is. Easy. Unfortunately. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

WWI #102 - Failing

Not a good week. I feel a bit like I've given up. The weekend was really bad as far as food and fitness, although the scale didn't shift much. Managed to drop the numbers a bit by mid-week, but then they rebounded for the official weigh-in on Friday. 

NUMBERS: Down .02 from last week. Average was exactly the same. Average intake was 2514. Average daily burn dropped to 2512 ... first time it's actually been under the average intake possibly ever. That equaled out to an overage of 2410 for the week. 

I'm not sure what's wrong with me of late. I'm feeling a bit down and discouraged. Still exercising, but not as much. Not getting in much variety, intensity. Just Zumba and Elliptical. I missed Zumba on Thursday and Friday again (and Sat/Sun are off days). No bike, no treadmill or track. No weights again this week. 

In addition to not getting as many workouts in, I also didn't stop and record them in my Daily Mile tracker. I always really try to catch up on my inputs by Sunday night, so that I start the week fresh. I got this notice on Monday. I've dropped drastically on my Fitbit friends list, and you might notice I haven't been blogging as much either. Fails.

I also failed on My Fitness Pal. I'm not sure what my streak was ... I hadn't missed a day logging food since I started over TWO YEARS ago. My streak was 750+ days I think. And then I missed a day. Saturday. I didn't log. I just didn't really think about it. There goes my streak. Now I know I could contact MFP with an excuse and get it reinstated, but I did miss a day. No excuses. I did log Saturday the next day, and have logged daily since.  So there's that ...

Here's the quick weekly recap ...
  • Friday (0626) I did attempt Zumba in the morning. Went to two different locations and it didn't happen. No Zumba :(  Did get in a little elliptical. Took the little boys bowling. The bigger boys returned home from their basketball camp in the evening.
  • Saturday (0627) Not very motivated today. Got in 20minutes elliptical, but that was all. Didn't really have anything keeping me busy during the day either :( Hubs worked all day making a water balloon filler. The boys wanted to try Dairy Queen in the evening ... that was a total waste of calories!
  • Sunday (0628) We all went to church today (sans Hubs who was working), then I got in a nice nap! In the evening we went out to my folks to play games. 
  • Monday (0629) Had Zumba at the backup church, smaller, but it was fun and intimate. Picked up a swimming pool for the duckies on the way home. #5 had basketball practice, and #3 and #4 went too, shooting hoops for the hour. Then we had some drama with a lost iphone, but luckily it was located. Also got in some elliptical.
  • Tuesday (0630) Zumba in the morning ... walked to and from. Took the boys (and a buddy) to the rec center to buy them a month pass, then they stayed and played basketball for several hours. I should have got some stuff done at home, but I just didn't know when they would call for pickup and it impacted my motivation and productivity. Did get in some elliptical.
  • Wednesday (0701) I usually attend a Zumba close by on Wednesdays, but the Southziders class needed an instructor and asked me to fill in, so I did. Got in some elliptical at home too. Took the boys to the rec center again today, although #3 went in the opposite direction, playing basketball at a church with his friends. A bit of chauffeur duty today.
  • Thursday (0702) Morning Zumba was taking the holiday week off. I could have hit a different class, but just didn't feel motivated enough to try. Took the boys to the dentist, ran some errands, dropped the boys at the rec center.  I did fit in an hour on the elliptical (in several small sessions). Went to Zumba in the evening, but it was only three of us, and our instructor had just had some surgery so she wasn't dancing. We did a couple practice numbers. 
 Pictures from the Week

 Games with Grandpa

Hubs and his new water balloon filler

The boys putting the water balloon filler to work

The duckies enjoying their new pool ...
A video posted by JenB (@jenblackham) on

Still struggling. I'm feeling fat, not liking what I see in the mirror or picture. But instead of fighting it I just seem to be giving up. I'm not feeling very motivated to move. I am wanting to eat all the time. Sometimes I do feel starving, even lightheaded, other times I'm just eating for comfort or craving. I have been noticing a bit more eating out as I write my journal entries, and I am continuing to record my food in My Fitness Pal, even though I blew my streak.  I'm not sure what needs to happen to get me back on track ...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June 2015 - Zumba Stats

My shadow self ... with school out, I can now walk to Zumba on Tuesday mornings. It's held at our local church building, which is maybe a 1/4 mile away. The weather has been beautiful too. I've been recapping each month of Zumba, so as June as come to a close, here's a look back at my stats ...

I hit 24 Zumba classes. I didn't make it out to Heather's class in Sandy (I'll resume it when school starts up, hitting closer classes during the summer as the schedule allows), but I hit a couple new ones. A Wednesday one out West (Hollie&Becky) is now most likely a regular one for me, and Debbie in Daybreak was back, so I hit several of her classes as well.

*click on image to enlarge

In the previous months, I've often had two stat numbers in the "heart rate" sections -- as I was including feedback from both my Polar and my ChargeHR. But the Polar was just was not working so much of the time. I decided to just give up on it, as I do have heart rate readings from the Charge. It is nice not to have to worry about the chest strap!

Also in previous months, I've listed the "winners" with the highest numbers. This month, I started out strong. Day 1 was the day I hit all my highs. Highest heart rate (153/138 ... same as last month's high), highest calorie burn, highest steps. All on June 1. I'm fairly certain those records will stand for a while.

... and what songs did we dance to that day?

Here's some additional pictures from a few different classes.

 Marian's Morning Class in West Jordan

 Southziders in Draper

 MZL in West Jordan

Marian with a little Zumba helper :)
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