JC Tech: Fitbit First Impressions

Fitbit First Impressions

Fitbit First Impressions
Offices have many features, the one person who always says hello even when you have no idea who they are, the endless tapping of keyboards, punctuated by many “hello are you there?” teleconferences. But what they all have in common is sitting. And I tell you – since I started work full time, I do a whole lot of sitting.

So after the heavy indulgence of December (I’m still looking at you chocolate orange….), one of my goals this year was to get back to a healthier lifestyle and be more active. One thing I wanted to do was just to get out and about more! Whether it was a wander to the shops or walking instead of getting the bus. After trying out my last pedometer, it didn’t meet all of my needs. I started looking for some other piece of wearable tech which could give me motivation. This was a good time for my parents to mention they were going to buy me a Fitbit for Christmas but hadn’t got round to it. So after a few text nudges, a package arrived at the door! Now I thought I would do this post as a little ‘first impressions’ about how I feel about my Fitbit Flex, then will follow it up in a couple of months to see how I get on long term! Sound good? Good.
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I received the Fitbit flex in black. It comes with two wristbands, one for strangely skinny wrists like me and one for more normal sizes. It also arrived with a charger and a wireless dongle to sync your Fitbit to your computer. It was super easy to set up – plug it in, follow the instructions and you are away. You can track it through the dongle (I will never figure out why it’s called that…) on your computer or through Bluetooth and the Fitbit app on your phone.
Now I should probably say what this thing actually does, it counts your steps, calculates your active minutes, calculates the distance travelled along with calories burnt, how your sleep is and you can also track food and water intake through the app, nifty right? And as it says it should, it definitely delivers on all of these things. For something which sits on your wrist the tech in it is so amazing. It doesn’t just count shaking your wrist as walking, so no sneaky cheating with that one! (come on we have all tried to fool the pedometer once right…). This means it’s not affected by typing, playing copious amounts of candy crush, or anything else which requires hand movement. You can set what your goals are on the app (how many steps etc) and when you get there your Fitbit will buzz and light up.
Here is where I mention that I had a wee issue with the first Fitbit I received in that after a day, I just could not get it to sync no matter what I did! So I got on the email to Fitbit and within a couple of days they had sent me a brand new one which I have had no problems with whatsoever.
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And overall, with my new Fitbit my first impression is love for sure! It’s so interesting to see how much (or more how little) I can get away with not moving about during the day. I check in and sync a couple times a day and if I see a pitiful amount of steps then I will get up, wander around the office or get up and head off to the shop – the kind of reminder I was looking for! It syncs with my fitness pal which although I don’t use all the time, is really handy. It means I can log my calories in there then both the Fitbit and my fitness pal adjust based on how many calories I am burning. So far the sleep tracking has been good – it is accurate for sure but I tend to sleep quite well, just not enough hours in the day! (So if it could figure out some way of getting everything done so I could actually get to bed on time, that would be fab!)
I did have a little issue with the black band, as I found that on me it looked a little ‘I’m being monitored on parole’, I have since bought an alternate violet band which I am loving. So far this week I have hit 10,000 steps 4 times and I have noticed I am doing a lot more activity. I have also synced my Fitbit with Pauls and my parents so we have a walk off challenge every week – all of which is very motivating!
What do you think of Fitbit’s?
JC xx

JC Updates: Feb Reflections + 10 Happy Things #6

10 Happy Things

We made it through February! Feb has been a challenging month. One where I achieved a whole lot, but it did cause a bit of stress along the way. I think it’s so important both in work and in life to just say ‘yes’, even though it may be a challenge, only by doing different and new things will you really begin to grow and stretch yourself!

I took on challenges at work, starting on a brand new project, and organising a really enjoyable tech speakers event. In blog world, I’ve done a complete blog revamp of design and some content and I organised 2 bloggers meet ups in London and Manchester! I’ve had 3 trips to Manchester, started organising holidays for later in the year, cooked, started cutting out diet coke and managed to walk 10,000 steps most days. It has been a busy 28 days!

So here are 10 happy things from the past couple of weeks. Bring on a fabulous March!

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1. By far the best things I have done this month are my two blog meet ups! I organised one in London and one in Manchester. It was so nice to meet lots of bloggers in person, sit down and have some nibbles and a drink together. I really like relaxed afternoons where you can just have a good chat and get to know people. Even though the weather was a bit useless, lovely bloggers battled the rain and hopefully everyone had a great time! And alongside that we raised almost 200 pounds for wildhearts! May have to do some more in the future.

2. We bought an air filter. I know that is a bit random, but I really struggle with allergies to dust. They get me down a bit as it causes eczema, asthma and general puffiness which are not enjoyable! The new filter takes all the dust particles out of the air, it has been so nice to not be sneezing all day – I am down to one antihistamine a day!

3. I have been avoiding refined sugar until Easter. I thought it would be really difficult but it has been going well! I’ve been finding lots of other yummy snacks and will report back on my progress.

4. We have been watching suits which I really enjoy! And House of Cards, season 3 has finally been released. I am trying to make them last as long as possible without seeing any spoilers.

5. I’ve been re-reading Harry Potter. Amazing. Enough said.

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6. I worked and had a couple of evenings in central London. Since starting my current job I haven’t really worked in the city and I missed it! It was so nice to have a wander about again.

7. The sun! I feel like the sun has finally started showing its face again, along with slightly longer days. Bring on Spring!

8. I’ve been trying some new recipes and made mozzarella stuffed turkey meatballs the other day and they were so good. Will definitely blog about the recipe soon.

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9. We booked a little weekend away to the coast for March. It’s only one night but I’m looking forward to some non-technology time.

10. I got a new blog design! I bought it from Etsy from 17th Ave Designs, and it downloads straight away. Then I tweaked it to match my colours and edited my side bar. It is still a work in progress, but I love it so far. I was also thinking of starting some blog advertising, but not sure if anyone would be interested. So if that is something you might be interested in then let me know!

What was your highlight of February?

JC xx

JC Writes: What Beauty Marketing Jargon Really Means

What beauty marketing jargon really means

There are several things in life that grind my gears, and one of them is beauty and skin care marketing. I studied biology, mainly focusing on cell biology and genetics at University and still like to stay up to date with the science world. This means that when I read those little advertisements or blurbs about a product and what it does, when it uses all this marketing jargon that sounds so scientific, all I usually see is crap. The people who write the blurbs are often looking for ‘buzz’ words rather than proven results and ingredients. You know the kinds of phrases like ‘contains extract of bee enzyme bioprotein enhanced with soy keratin complex’ but in reality that doesn’t actually mean anything!! (Note, this blog post does contain large amounts of sarcasm…)

So I thought I would write this post (and if you find it interesting maybe more?!), telling you what brands actually mean when they put something ‘fancy’ sounding on their product labels.

What beauty marketing jargon really means:

Antioxidants…. really means, compounds that have been proven to do nothing

This seems to be the ‘it’ word at the moment. Somehow everyone and their cat believes that antioxidants are some kind of magical substance which reverses aging, gives you endless energy and will protect you against 7000 kinds of diseases. However, although antioxidants produced in the body do reduce oxidative stress and help protect your cells (which could in turn delay aging) – there have been absolutely no studies which have proven putting antioxidants on your skin (or even eating them) has any positive benefit. In fact, in some studies supplementing antioxidants has been shown to increase cancer risk. So sorry all, big marketing ploy!

Plant extracts… really means, bits of a leaf or just water.

Does saying an extract of a plant really make you want to buy something? I guess this is because of the connotations this has with making the product natural (when it is usually far from it…). Some plants make awesome things, but when products have plant extract on them it probably means they have just put some leaf extract, water or a bit of petal in it so they can claim ‘plant extract’ on the tin. This won’t really add anything positive to your skin care. Some of the flower extracts do smell nice though, so I guess that is a bonus!

Increase uptake of oxygen in the skin… really means, what?! We are not plants.

I saw this on a moisturiser recently and was just astounded. Yes, our skin can take in tiny amounts of oxygen, but this oxygen doesn’t do anything. Nothing can really increase it, and there is no reason you would want to. I mean you wanted antioxidants a second ago, and now you want more oxygen? Plants uptake oxygen through their surfaces for cellular processes so they could likely benefit from this, but we are not plants.

Energy boosting… really means, nothing at all. 

I mean I think this means not dry? There is no way of increasing your energy through a beauty product. Marketing companies pop this on as it is an emotive word, we all want more energy and somehow we may get it through a beauty product?

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Removes impurities… really means, washes off dirt. 

Seriously, this just means washes off dirt. Like what water does and a good flannel.

Wheat protein/soy bioproteins/protein recycling… really means, a normal cell component found everywhere. 

Another buzz word out there is protein. As if protein is some mysterious product that we all need. Honestly, everything is made out of protein. Our skin is made of protein, this just means they take a bit of wheat/soy and put it in the product. Another ingredient that doesn’t actually do anything.

Cell-active… really means, they just want to use the word ‘cell’ in their marketing. 

We all know that cell degeneration is what leads to aging. Therefore, brands need to make sure that products affect the cells in some way. But in reality, if something actually effected your cells, then it would be a drug and be under prescription. Most products effect the area around your cells, such as filling them with more fluid which in turn makes your skin look ‘plump’.

The whole point of this post was to hopefully make you think more about what you are buying. And that in order to decode beauty jargon, essentially realise most of what you are reading is marketing! Check out the claims, google them, look at the amount of people who actually took part in a study which results they are singing. A whole lot of high-end products rely on expert marketing and not necessarily expert ingredients!

And, of course, this is not the case for all skincare and beauty jargon, some are scientifically verified and accurate! 

What marketing hype have you seen recently?

JC xx

JC Drinks: My Top 4 Herbal Teas!

Top 4 Herbal Teas

Am I getting old? Or just more British? I’m not so sure, all I know is that I can’t stop drinking tea. I think this came about for 2 reasons, one I did a teatox and spent 2 weeks thinking about and drinking tea, and two, I am giving up diet coke. Yes, the diet coke addiction is being quashed. Not because I suddenly think it’s giving me cancer, more because it doesn’t benefit me, and I think I’m becoming a bit sensitive to the amount of caffeine I was actually putting away through the day (I had an eye twitch for weeks!). I am down to one can a day which I think is pretty good, hopefully soon to be every other day and go from there!

But obviously I needed to replace the diet coke with something which also gave me a bit of ‘reward’ factor, so I have been out and about over the last month buying and trying a huge range of tea. I’m not a fan of the traditional English breakfast but in no particular order these are my top 4 herbal teas!

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1. Dragonfly Moroccan Mint Green Tea

This is the tea which has managed to get me drinking green! I find green tea by itself a bit too bitter, but this is ideal as it has a really strong and refreshing peppermint taste. I love having this as my first drink in the morning to wake me up (plus I then get to feel good about those “antioxidants”!). Plus the strings have cute tea quotes on which are nice to read when I am still half asleep.

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2. Teapigs Apple and Cinnamon Tea

This is my ideal afternoon tea, what can beat apple and cinnamon! This has a sweet and spicy flavour and smells delicious. It is a good option to beat the afternoon sugar cravings. Teapigs are quite expensive, so I like to save these for when I really need a pickup.

3. Tetleys Sweet Cranberry Tea

I tried this tea in the office last week and it was so good! Almost like watered down cranberry juice, sweet and refreshing. However, I now seem to not be able to find this tea anywhere! I am on a manhunt for this cranberry tea, I will get my hands on it again!

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4. Twinings Ginger Tea

I do like spicy tea, but find them a little overwhelming. This is an ideal ‘in between’ tea as it isn’t too spicy and has a hint of sweetness. It smells like gingerbread and I like to have it after dinner as it definitely settles the stomach.

On another note, as we know, I have been having a bit of a problem with my skin, in that over the past few months it has been breaking out. Since I have started this more tea/less diet coke, I have noticed a HUGE difference in my skin. Like more so than any skin care I have tried. I am back to having no spots, or maybe a spot which will last a day. I’m not saying that this alone caused it but seriously, I can’t think of any other lifestyle changes I have made!

What is your favourite tea?! What should I be trying next?

JC xx

JC Explores: Aldwych Abandoned Tube Station Tour!

Aldwych Abandoned Tube Station tour

I have a confession. I am a London transport nerd. I really am. It is just fascinating. The amount that has happened to London transport is probably more history than most of New Zealand. Just the size of it all blows my mind. I used to have a book of tube facts which I would only ever read on the tube. (I used to give people tube facts until I realised that not everyone shared my passions!) But luckily for me, Paul is more than happy to indulge my transport interests and for Christmas bought us tickets to go on the Aldwych abandoned tube station tour.

Now first a note on tickets, the tours run through the London transport museum (which is fabulous) and they are limited. The tickets go on sale periodically throughout the year, but they sell out quick (in 24 hours this year!) so if you want to get your hands on them then sign-up to the email newsletter and you will be alerted when they go on sale!

The tour is around an hour and our slot was at 8.30pm, (the last of the evening) so we went to Zizzis before which I quite enjoyed! We then headed over to Aldwych. The old facade is still there so it was easy to find – though the sign does say Strand as that is what it used to be called. There were around 40 people on the tour and once everyone had arrived we were ushered inside. (I may have forgotten my memory card for the camera, so we are back to the good old iPhone for this post!)

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Even from the entrance it feels a bit like you are going back in time! The station was shut in 1994 as the passenger volumes were so low, but they didn’t really invest in keeping much of it up to date, and part of the station has been shut for over 100 years. As soon as you go in, the telephone boxes transport you back (I also went to the loo and the stalls had glass, it may have been slightly frosted, but there were a lot of giggles, what were they doing back then?!).

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We had two fabulous guides who took us through the lobby and told us the history not only of the station but of general London transport history. We then all trudged down the spiral staircases to the platforms. These are really interesting, one is still used for filming movies and TV so will probably look very familiar (Sherlock!!)! The posters on the walls were ones from movie sets, and the train was one which they use for filming and training.

The other track shut years ago after the war. The station was used for a long time as a bomb shelter and to keep precious things from the London museums to protect them. It is also an area where they test out other decorative plans for other stations – to see if it looks any good and if the tiles stick on a rounded surface.

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We also had a wander round the abandoned tunnels, many of which were never finished as the demand wasn’t there. As there were a few of us on the tour, they weren’t too scary, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be there on my own!

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We headed back up the stairs and had a look in the old lifts, hearing some more stories, before getting a little book of history and headed out! The ticket also comes with half off to the London Transport museum itself (the tickets for there get you entry for a year), and 10% off the shop!

Overall, I had a fabulous time visiting Aldwych and really recommend it if you can get your hands on tickets! Think I may even use some of the photos to update our London transport photo wall…

JC xx