How To Find The Best Fitness Tracker When Traveling

November 30th, 2012 2 comments

As someone who does a lot of traveling the last thing I want to think about when out exploring this wide world of ours is physical fitness. Especially since I have a tendency to overindulge when there are lots of fancy new foods to try. But I have found that it is quite easy for me to gain a lot of weight on my travels unless I keep a strict eye on my caloric intake. That's why I love my Xiaomi mi band 2 tracker. This little gadget has really helped me with my exercise weight loss. It blows my old Fitbit out of the water terms of features. My old Fitbit Charge had only a fraction of these features and was over twice as expensive.

My Xiaomi Mi Band 2 has all of its features and more and Is very affordable at around $50, it also packs quite a lot of features for its price: I love its heart rates sensor, sleep tracking, & water resistance. When I'm out and about walking around or going to the gym I always try to bring my fitness tracker with me. Especially since it has an optical heart rate monitor so I always know what level of activity is needed to burn off all those extra calories I consume during my trips abroad. I also like the fact that I can literally submerge this tracker when I'm out swimming in a strange place or even just doing laps at the pool without having to worry about it malfunctioning or breaking down.

For my last trip I pretty much wore my fitness tracker and never took it off. Everything was very seamless and automated and the device keeps track of how many steps I I take and tallies it at the end of the day to give me a rough idea of how many calories are burned. This makes it a lot easier for me to plan my meals and schedule my portion control accordingly. It's great because I can do all this while having fun and being out and about traveling. I don't have to worry about how much I've been eating versus how much calories im burning as the tracker does it all for me. I have heard a lot of good things about sport watches from the likes of Suunto and Polar.

I have a friend who has a sports watch it's kind of like a fitness tracker on crack - it can pretty much track everything for you and has built-in training apps and crazy things like GPS tracking for super accurate stat calculations. She swears by her watch but says it's very pricey so I don't think I will be spending the money for one of these anytime soon especially since I have so many other amazing places to travel to, and as we all know travel cost money. Haha. Although it doesn't have quite as many features as a sports watch, my Xiaomi Mi Band 2 syncs up with my smart phone so that I can answer my calls and text from the tracker instead of having to take out my phone in some foreign place and worry about someone trying to steal it from me or mug me! Yikes!

And last but not least, my fitness tracker like seems to have the ability to log my sleeping patterns. I'm not quite sure how accurate this is and there doesn't seem to be a lot of information about online but it is nice feature to have nonetheless. Whatever, I've always been a heavy sleeper and have never had trouble sleeping. Sleep tracking is kind of a neat little feature but I don't really use it a whole lot.

I definitely think that this is one of the best fitness trackers I've ever used and I will continue to use the device probably until it breaks and then buy another one since they are so cheap! I really can't say enough good things about these little gadgets and I hope all of you will consider integrating one into your lives in the future, especially if you're someone like me who prefers to automate their life and not worry about all the little things. Well that's it for now folks. Sorry been so sporadic with my updates but I will try to write more in the future.

My First Love

March 17th, 2013 No comments

I know, I know, you thought my blog was dead. So did I. Life has become more complicated for me becoming a master’s student. The only recent climbing I’ve done is in the gym, and you don’t want to hear about that. So my poor blog sat neglected.

But suddenly today, in the midst of working on two huge projects, I feel the need to write (“Procrastinate much?”  I can almost hear my daughter say). However, I feel the need to share my excitement about a new endeavor I am taking on that has to do with my first love, cycling.


I fell in love with riding at a young age, when I received a pink Huffy bike called Sweet Thunder #2. I seriously spent most of my daylight hours on this beauty!

Photo Credit:

My next bike, which I can’t find a picture of, was a red 10-speed with a trademark 80′s rainbow decal on the top tube. It was made by Panasonic, which caused me to be relentlessly ridiculed by the neighborhood boys, “Can you get a sound on that?!” I didn’t care, I would ride all day, sun up to sun down, I was in the saddle.

When my kids were small I had a cruiser and would haul them around in a bike trailer through the neighborhood we lived in. It was fun, but I was missing that feeling I had when I was kid. That is, until I met the Contessa.

Me kissing the Contessa

Damn it was love at first sight. As soon as I clipped in and started pedaling, those feelings of freedom came flooding back. Me and the road, we were one again.

The Plan

So now that you know about my bike history, you may or not remember I mentioned I was excited about a new endeavor. I am part of a new cycling advocacy non-profit, and I can’t tell you how happy it has made me. Where I live, Ann Arbor, Michigan, there are a ton of cyclists and a fair amount of bike lanes, but the proposed projects are in danger of losing funding.  According to our Transportation Authority, Eli Cooper, back in 1978 we were even with Madison and Boulder with bike lane initiatives, but the 80s hit Michigan hard and projects were scrapped. We have gained new momentum as of late, but all that could change again.

So, as a poor grad student, I am making it my job to do all I can to keep them rolling. The organization is called Bike A2 and don’t have a website yet, but you can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. I imagine until we get a website I will be writing here periodically about what is going on, so stay tuned!



Top 9 Holiday Gift for Climbers

November 30th, 2012 2 comments

Back by popular demand is my gift list for climbers! To show the climber in your life that you understand their need to crimp the side of a door jamb every they walk through a doorway, I have come up with some fantastic ideas that say “climb on!”


Photo Credit: Ryan Jones, Hoosier Heights Indoor Rock Climbing Gym

1. A Hangboard. This is one of my favorite gift ideas because it is an easy way to train at home, is affordable, and doubles as wall art. Being a Michigan girl, I have to call out the DRCC, who have some bomb hangboards and fingerboards, pictured to the left.

2. If the climber in your life is female, treat her to a new climbing top from prAna or Stonewear Designs. I personally feel you can’t have too many climbing tops.

3. Ale-8-One. If your climber climbs at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, give them something they will be pining away for all winter…Ok, fair enough, you can’t give them the rock, but you can send them locally produced Ale-8 Ginger Ale which is only sold in a few counties.

Photo Credit:

4. Donate to the Access Fund in their name. Without access and protection, climbers can lose what they love so dearly.

5. Guidebooks. Guidebooks are a great resource for any climber to have. They serve as both climbing beta and “tick-lists”. You can buy a traditional book or some places have apps you can download ~ be advised, I have been told the RRG app works even when you can’t receive a signal. There are many publishers out there, it depends on the region for who has the best publication. I have used Wolverine guidebooks for RRG and NRG.

6. Stick-Clip. If you are feeling crafty you can personalize this gift and make it yourself. Cragmama has fantastic step-by-step instructions that you can follow. Below is a picture of the one I made using her method.

Homemade Stick Clip

7. A NOLS Wilderness First-Aid Course. Sign your climber up for this 16 hour course that teaches them basic First-Aid in the backcountry. The cost is $200-$250 and they are offered throughout the US.

8. A Climber Man Ear Cuff. Just because you can’t take things too seriously and it kind of makes me laugh.

9. A gym membership! The gift that keeps giving.

I could have come up with one more, but 9 is one of my favorite numbers so chose to stop here. Climb hard, be safe!

OR Show Rookie

August 10th, 2012 2 comments

I set a goal for myself that I would someday make it to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Show. It only took a year-and-half to make it happen, which was surprisingly fast to me! It was a last minute decision, yet, everything lined up perfectly, which for me is always a sign that something is meant to be.

My head is still swimming from all the gear I saw and all of the people I met. I went as a volunteer, not as a blogger, so I didn’t make any appointments with vendors, but instead took it all in. After spending three solid days on the floor, I still didn’t get to see everything, hello, prAna Rejunivation Room, totally missed you!

I did make it to the 7AM breakfast put on by the Conservation Alliance that featured Aron Rolston who spoke of his life-altering accident that caused him to cut off part of his arm with a dull pocket knife. I haven’t been able to watch 120 Hours because I don’t have the stomach for it, but what a gifted speaker Rolston is. The audience was at times laughing, wincing, tearing up, and then laughing again.

Another event I didn’t want to miss was the “Kiss My Klout” panel with Yoon Kim (Viral Thoughts and Blogs for Brands) Sara Lingafelter (Verde PR), Mark Silliman (Spadout) and Darius Abbassi (The Clymb). For social media junkies like me, this was a must. Each panel member offered their own bit of expertise in the ever changing realm of “social”.

I would say the best part was meeting so many people in real life that I have only known through Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and email. I love how small our world has become because of these tools. There was a #ClimbChat Tweetup on Saturday where I got to meet so many awesome people, and then climb with them on Sunday. One of them was Climbrunliftmom who I actually met up with the day before and we became instant BFFs and channeled our inner 13 year-olds together. Good times.

If I had to sum up my experience with one word it would be Gratitude. I am grateful to be part of the Outdoor Industry and grateful for the people it connects me to. I am already plotting on how I can make it to my next OR Show, yes, it’s that good. Oh, and yeah, I also met a few rock stars…be jealous.

Having a beer with Dean Potter and Whisper.

How to have physical therapy without a physical therapist

July 11th, 2012 No comments

Let me just preface this by saying I think physical therapy with a trained therapist is crucial to healing, and if you are recovering from an injury, you should not skip it. And, I am not a trained professional. But, what happens if, like me, because of red-tape, you can no longer get the therapy you need? Well, if you are like me, you take matters into your own hands.

I have been recovering from an ankle injury for about eight months now. I am still not 100% back to normal, but I am doing pretty well, because I have been keeping active. Movement has really been the key to strengthening my ankle. A few things I have learned that really help are:


Practicing yoga has been tremendous. I always wear my ankle brace so I don’t twist it or bend it in ways it shouldn’t go. I have definitely had to check my ego at the door though! It is my right (dominate) ankle that is weak, so me doing one-legged poses is pretty funny! For most people, your dominate leg is much more sturdy and stable than your non-dominate one; so I am constantly wobbling and fighting to balance with both legs. It is the subtle movements that give me the most trouble because my ligaments are shot, so it is still difficult for me to stand on one foot. But it is so good for me to keep trying, and I’m getting better.


Stand up paddleboarding is the bomb! You need to balance on a board, in the water, which really uses your ligaments so you stay on top and not fall off your board.


I was afraid to ride my road bike at first because I have clip-less pedals. My fear was that I would come to a stop and not be able to unclip. I waited until my ankle was far enough along that clipping and unclipping was no problem. Pedaling can really give your ankle a lot of flexing and movement.

Rock climbing

Yeah, I did this before and couldn’t wait to get back to it. If the route has some really technical footwork, it’s a bit much for me, but most of the routes I have done are fine. I find I have to be creative though because my ankle doesn’t turn every-which-way like it used to.


Just getting out to walk is giving you movement. I do not suggest running, I am still not able to run because I don’t have that “roll” yet, but I wasn’t much of a runner anyway.

Depending on where you at with you recovery, you may want to alternate ice and heat after any of these activities. I did at first, after rock climbing, but after a few weeks I no longer felt it was necessary. Always listen to your body, and don’t push it too hard.

Happy healing!

Breaking into a new grade

June 11th, 2012 4 comments

I always called myself a solid 5.10 climber. I know in some circles that means you could onsite every 10, anytime, any place. Well, I wouldn’t have exactly claimed that, but felt 10 was my grade. I had never tried climbing an 11, just figured I couldn’t do it. I tend to get hung up on ratings, doubting my abilities. I remember climbing with a friend of mine more than year ago at the gym. There was new 5.10d he told me to try, I was reluctant at first and he said, “Don’t look at the rating, just climb it!” So I did, and holy smoke, I onsited it. Ever since then I have tried to be open minded, except for the fact I wouldn’t touch anything rated higher than a 10!

I recently heard that the best time to try to break into a new grade is after a break from climbing. Hmmm, I thought, I just has a six-month break, maybe I should try 11′s. I rebounded to my previous level in a matter weeks, maybe I could keep up the momentum. So on a whim, after climbing three 9s with a new partner, I jumped onto a 5.11a. I finished the route with only one fall. Wow, that felt good. I look back now, and have no idea why I would never even consider trying one. Wait, that is a lie. Yes I do. I held myself back. I didn’t think of myself as an 11 climber.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

I think we limit ourselves in many aspects of life by defining ourselves too narrowly. As soon as we stop believing in ourselves, we fail. In everything. To me this is really evident in young children. When I used to work with young children (my own included) and they were trying something new, even if I were afraid they might fall, or drop something breakable, or whatever, I never made it known. I remained calm and smiled reassuringly at them, because they believed they could do it. I found that the second an adult questioned their ability, they questioned it themselves and more times than not, failed at what they were attempting. I think this is true for adults, but in a much subtler way. I’m Pretty sure it was Henry Ford that said, “Think you can, think you can’t; either way, you will be right!” Sounds pretty accurate to me.

Have an amazing day believing in yourself!

Spring climbing at the RRG

April 9th, 2012 5 comments

Well I’d call my first rock climbing trip of the year a success. I recently spent 3 days in the RRG climbing with my kids, some friends, and of course, Stella, my truck – a must have for climbing at PMRP. It is the first time I have climbed outside since my accident and my first time back to Kentucky since last April, and I am happy to report, it is still an incredible place!

Before leaving I was sure to do some lead climbing in the gym. This was a good move for me, I think it helped with my confidence. I haven’t lead anything since July of last year, so practice is good. Turns out I kinda forgot all efficient clipping techniques, but now I have a new goal!

The weather was amazing. We had warm, sunny days, it even reached 85 on our last day which was delightful for this Michigan girl. Being outside and having contact with real rock again did so much good for my soul and for my kids’ souls too. My teen-aged daughter sometimes “forgets” her connection with nature; however, this trip fully reacquainted her with it.

For me the best part was not how hard I climbed (I didn’t really climb that hard) but how mentally present I climbed. For the first time while leading, I didn’t get nervous or sketched out when I was above my last bolt. It was really an exciting discovery. I noticed that I was solely focused on where the next move was and didn’t give a second thought to moving above my protection and finding really good placements before clipping. In the past, I would get nervous inside and want to just clip ASAP and would not necessarily be in the best position for doing this. This time I trusted that if I kept moving, there would be some good holds and I would find them, which I did.

I attribute some of this to the yoga I have practicing 5 days a week, lately. My breath work has become such a huge part of my climbing. I kept making sure I was breathing in and out, especially when at cruxes. I noticed my breath would get faster and faster, but continuous. After the crux on 27 Years of Climbing, my belayer yelled up to me to shake out and regulate my breathing before moving to the chains. This was great advice and allowed me to send this 5 star, super fun climb.

I guess the only drawback of this kind of focus was that on another climb I almost missed a clip because I was just breathing and climbing! Good thing I had an attentive belayer (thanks Darcy!).

Three days down there was more of teaser than anything. Ever since I’ve been home I just keep thinking about going back. Hopefully RRG, will we meet again soon.

Review: prAna Mariposa tank

March 16th, 2012 No comments

Want to know a sure sign of spring? Nope, it’s not the return of the robins (although, I do love this!). Or a groundhog not seeing its shadow. It is me a buying a new climbing/yoga tank top to add to my collection! It has become a sort of ritual for me. This year, my latest lovely is the prAna Mariposa top. And it is lovely!

Back of prAna Mariposa

I usually go for the cute strappy-back tanks and this one definitely has this feature with a double criss-cross back. It also has a shelf bra, which is a must.

I tested this top out both practicing yoga and climbing at the gym. In both cases I found it to be very comfortable and well behaved! Meaning, my favorite thing about this top is the fact that it stays in place. It is made with Veeda fabric which consists of 45% recycled spun polyester/45% spun polyester and 10% spandex. Sometimes I find that my yoga and climbing tops have too much stretch in them and it is like pulling on a rubber band to get it to stay over the tops of my pants- and it stays for a while, but tends to creep up. Not so with this top, I didn’t have to pull it back down once. And it is silky smooth to the touch.

Mariposa is featured in Plum, Waterfall (both shown), and Black. It retails for $65. For more information visit prAna.

Pretty in the front too!

The secret to happiness is…

March 10th, 2012 4 comments

What is the secret to happiness? I’m going to say movement. After being inactive for seven months, I finally began climbing and practicing yoga again this past week and I feel new and old again. New, because I feel fresh and revived, old, because I remember this blissful feeling. It feels like its been a lifetime ago, but I remember it. It is something you have to experience first-hand to know what I am talking about.

I remember reading years ago that Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and founder of Waldorf Education, said something to the effect that movement was vital for babies to learn to speak and think. According to him, it is why children crawl and walk before they talk. I feel a new reverence to movement because of having to live with an inability to do what I love the most, active movement. It seems to me now that for months I couldn’t articulate what wasn’t right with me (besides the obvious, a bad ankle). It was my inability to truly feel happy because of my lack of active movement.

I’m not gonna lie and say I’m crushin’ it at the gym. No, I am not yet sending 5.10s but I am shocked at how much my body remembers. I wondered if it would be like starting over completely, but it’s not. My body knows when to turn my hips toward the wall and to move my feet up hoping there will be a good handhold waiting for me. It knows without me thinking about it, which is really exciting and amazing to me.

And yoga. Oh, yoga, how I have missed you working away all of my past stresses from my muscle memory! I have forgotten how good it feels to hold my back upright. I have forgotten how addicting it is to have my shoulders loosened by a session, but then craving more and more afterward because it’s not enough! This feeling was so clean and freeing to me that after my first returning class, I gave up coffee and diet soda and have not looked back. I don’t want anything to break this blissful state I am bathing in. And again, I am giving you my disclaimer, I am not even able to keep up with the class because of my ankle, but it doesn’t matter. I am doing what my body needs, working at my own pace, and it is just right.

Don’t judge yourself, just be present and experience the wonders of what your body can do. Move and be grateful. Show your body gratitude by filling it with healthy food, drink, and thoughts. We all deserve to feel our best at all times; choose to feel well.

My semi-review of the 2012 Osprey Aura

February 19th, 2012 2 comments

I am calling this a semi-review because although I did test the new Osprey Aura 50 backpack, I did it in an unconventional way. I loaded it up with a little weight and wore it around the gear shop I work in, for 5 hours. I only put 10lbs in it because my ankle is still weak, I was wearing my Merrell Tetra Launch boots, and still had to perform all of my duties, such as climbing up and down ladders, fitting customers with backpacks, ringing at the register, etc. Yet, I can honestly say, I am impressed.

One of the biggest changes Osprey made to this pack is that it is now adjustable to fit a variety of torso lengths. I have a short torso, and their past designs didn’t fit me properly. This was sad for me because I loved how lightweight is was and still is (3lbs 5oz). It has other features like:

Lite-Wire frame and 3D tensioned breathable mesh back to allow maximum ventilation

Stow-On-the-Go holder for trekking poles

Zippered pocket on the hipbelt, (which I love for snacks on the trail)

A floating top lid

Dual ice axe loops with bungee tie-offs

Hydration pack compatible

Two zippered pockets on the front

Sleeping pad straps on the bottom

The color choices are Eggplant Purple and Pinon Green

The MSR is $199.

The only thing the 50 liter pack doesn’t have is the zippered compartment on the bottom for your sleeping bag, but the 65 liter version of this pack does. Bottom line is, I am excited about this pack and think Osprey did an amazing job. I can’t wait to test it out for real, outside!

For more information, check out Osprey’s Website.

Categories: Gear Review Tags: ,

January 15th, 2012 2 comments

Oh. My. Gosh. I have missed this feeling so much. In fact, I see now that I took it for granted. But, not anymore! I am talking about the way your body feels after you have spent the day rock, or, as my case may be, ice climbing! Oh, sweet, sweet, arm and whole body fatigue, how I have missed you!

Since my injury August 17, 2011, I haven’t been able to rock climb, or really do much of anything. It has been really hard for me. As much as I strive to be happy and positive, I have at times felt not in-control of my life, and like I have been living someone else’s life. But today, I really felt like me again.

I went to Peabody’s Ice Climbing Club, local man-made ice towers in Michigan. I figured since mountaineering boots offer very little ankle flex, I could probably pull it off. I did…kind-of. At first it was hard for me, I have lost all my strength and technique living like a hermit for more than 4 months, but by my 3rd climb, I made it to the top! And now my arms and body have that feeling of being used and it’s awesome.

Have you ever been on forced down-time from the activity/hobby you love? What was it like for you? How did you cope?

My first climb since my injury!