Tuesday, March 10, 2020

BBT Thermometers Review for the FAM Lifestyle

BBT thermometers? What is that you ask? A basal body temperature thermometer. What do you use it for and why would you want one? If you're a biological woman of child bearing years, you may want to invest in a BBT thermometer for one of two reasons: to avoid conception or to conceive.  In the FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) Lifestyle abbreviated slang: TTA (Trying To Avoid) or TTC (Trying to Conceive).  There is an entire science behind charting your monthly cycles. It's more than just writing the dates of your menstrual cycle on the calendar. Charting your cycle is a day to day in depth analysis of your body's resting temperature (taken first thing in the morning after at least 3 hours of sleep either orally, vaginally, or via a wearable external device), cervical mucuous (CM, basically your body's signal to your most fertile days in your cycle), and/or cervix position (high or low), texture (firm or soft), or state of open or close. All these data points and biological markers make up an entire summary of a woman's reproductive health.  Doctors can look at a woman's charts and determine what steps need to be taken for testing if there are suspected issues or health concerns.  In my personal and medical opinion, every woman should learn about charting. Unfortunately, this is not something that is taught to young girls as they approach puberty.  At least not commonly taught in the United States. I can't speak for other countries.  If you're new to the FAM Lifestyle and want to use it to conceive or as your form of natural birth control or in conjunction to other non-hormonal forms of birth control then I highly recommend the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book is a more comprehensive and in depth explanation of how to chart and how to read your charts in addition to how to use the method.

Back to BBT thermometers.  What is so special about a BBT thermometer that a regular thermometer can't do the same thing for?  BBT thermometers are more accurate and work on a smaller 0.1 degree Fahrenheit scale versus a regular thermometer reading of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures are charted, a line graph is produced that visually represents a woman's monthly cycle that is broken down into the three phases of menstrual phase, Follicular phase, and Luteal phase. The Follicular phase of a woman's cycle is when her body begins exhibiting signs of pending ovulation. The Luteal phase of a woman's cycle indicates ovulation has occurred. These phases can be seen on a chart by the elevation of temperatures.  The more precise and accurate the temperatures the  more reliable the data is for determining each phase of your cycle.
My pregnancy chart using Kindara app.
In my pregnancy chart above, you can see each of my cycle's phases as follows: Menstrual phase cycle days 1-3, Follicular phase cycle days 4-19, Luteal phase cycle days 20 - confirmed pregnancy cycle day 31. Once I confirmed pregnancy three days in a row with an at home urine pregnancy test, I stopped charting.  At the time of my pregnancy chart, I was using two different BBT thermometers. I was in the process of transitioning to a wearable external device so I wouldn't have to take my temp in the morning upon waking. The biggest annoyance with oral temping was when you have to pee first thing in the morning and wait on a thermometer to get it's reading before you get out of bed.  Since I began using FAM about 8 years ago now, I have used a total of 4 different BBT thermometer devices.  

BBT Thermometer Reviews

1. EUDEMON Digital Basal Thermometer (Purchased from Amazon 8/2014 for $18.74, currently unavailable.) 
I LOVED this thermometer. It was the first one I purchased. The only downside to it was it could take 3-5 minutes to take your temp orally. My bladder did not love this thermometer and I opted for an upgrade to a different device that promised quicker results.  I have recently had to use this thermometer again (more on that in the following device reviews) and it still works!!!! It even had the correct date on the screen when I turned it on.  I hadn't turned this thermometer on since sometime in 2017. At this point, I am extremely impressed with the longevity of this device and super happy it pulled through as a trusty thermometer when I needed it most. 

2. Wink by Kindara (Purchased from Kindara 8/2017, $129, currently unavailable)
I wrote a blog review about this product November 2017 and loved everything about this modern tech device.  It was a much more expensive device than what I was using but for the quicker temperature results and the auto sync of data, it was worth the price.  Until it stopped working.  I only used the Wink thermometer from September 2017-May 2018. And I tried going back to it this past month in February 2020 and it is completely dead. The battery will not charge and the metal plastic ring around the device to hold the top with the thermometer probe onto the main unit has broken off. This seems to be a poorly constructed device and as I have gathered from others online, a common theme among those users in the FAM community.  Kindara no longer offers their Wink thermometer. They currently have a new device they have poured their energy into promoting called the Priya Sensor, which has yet to be released but appears to be a vaginally inserted sensor that syncs to their app that allows you to have constant fertility monitoring. The device is taken out and put back in every 29 days.  After my disappointment with the Wink thermometer, I do not intend on supporting the Priya Sensor. Their customer service has a bad reputation and many have lost out after purchasing the Wink. In fact, I am a little leery about having a device inside me for a month with all the concerns about EMFs. 

3. Tempdrop by Tempdrop, Ltd (Purchased from Tempdrop, Ltd 5/2018, $150)
I decided to see what all the hype was about with the Tempdrop, a wearable external device that is worn while you sleep.  The data collected pairs and utilizes algorithms with their specific app.  I only used my first Tempdrop for 3 weeks in May 2018 until I found out I was pregnant then I used it again for a couple weeks postpartum when my menstrual cycle returned. I wasn't in the habit of charting with a baby so I quit using it and then started to use it again in December 2019 when the battery started warning me it was low.  I again quit using it and then finally changed the battery in February 2019 and a day later it quit working.  The liner between the two shells separated which prevented the device sensor from working and collecting temps.  Tempdrop's customer service is excellent and I have been sent a new sensor which I have worn without issue for one night so far.  My concerns currently are if this device will break again when I go to change the battery.  I really want to love this device but I am very apprehensive.  

4. Femometer Vinca by BONGMI (Purchased from Amazon February 17, 2020, $28.99)
Similar to Wink, the Vinca is a smart sync thermometer that allows you to take your temp and it syncs to an app.  It utilizes it's own charting app so I have had to change my charting method to their app from Kindara's app.  So far this device it fast and has been very reliable in it's syncing technology.  It actually works better than the Wink and is so much cheaper.  The thermometer I have does not have a screen display for me to view my temp but they do offer a Vinca II model that does for $49.99.  I also love how sleek and portable this device is. It will definitely travel well if I need ti pack it. This is my first cycle using it and I am very pleased with how quickly the thermometer works and how easily it syncs.  I always had issues with my Wink thermometer syncing despite it being advertised as auto-syncing. I never found the auto-sync to work and always ended up manually entering my temps into the app.  I am currently using the Vinca with the new Tempdrop sensor that was sent to me.  My first night temps with the Vinca was 97.33 and the Tempdrop was 97.17.  I did wake up frequently to breastfeed my little one and by the time I took my temp orally I had previously woken up to a restless baby about an hour prior therefore disrupting my 3 hour consecutive sleep cycle. (3 hours of consecutive sleep is rare for me as I am still breastfeeding so I can't really follow that rule for FAM are strictly as I should).  

So these are my current thoughts and experiences about the numerous devices I have used for BBT temping.  I'm going to continue to use the Tempdrop in conjunction with the Vinca for the 30 day algorithm to kick in and then I will re-evaluate how I feel about each of these devices.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

On Demand Barre Streaming Services

Until just recently I was all about the Pure Barre On Demand videos and wasn't aware of any other options.  I came across a thread in a Reddit forum for Pure Barre where someone listed a bunch of other barre studios and mentioned those options also offer online workouts.  I decided to do some research and check out all the various offerings I could find for on demand home barre workouts and their prices.  Here is my list that I compiled during my research.

1. Pure Barre GO On Demand $29.99/month

2. Physique 57 On Demand $24.99/month or $249.99/year with 2 months free, *Free 7 day trial.
Website boasts over 100 videos from 15 minutes to their signature 57 minute classes. Video library is broken down in categories for length of workout, targeted body areas, props needed to no prop workouts, levels from beginner to advanced with an additional category for stretching, and by trainer for those who have a favorite instructor and want to explore that particular person's class offerings. Cancel anytime.

3. The Bar Method / Bar Online $19.00/month, *Free 14 day trial
Website boasts workouts range from 15 to 60 minutes. Workouts begin with a quick warm-up followed by weights and push ups to tone arms and shoulders, variations of their signature moves to tone and shape legs, floor work to strengthen core, and the overall workout increases stamina.  Workouts utilize props such as weights, ball, barre, and mat with substitutions easily worked in to workouts if you do not have access to particular props. The website further states that their classes are different because they were developed by physical therapists to ensure the exercises are safe for any participant regardless of shape, age, and physical limitations or injuries. Instructors are rigorously trained in a lengthy process that includes annual training and certifications/exams.

4. The Barre Code No pricing listed.
Membership must be created for access which can be done in a studio or by creating a video account in their system.

5. Barre 3 $29/month, *15 day free trial
Cancel anytime. Access to full body workouts that focus on strength, conditioning, cardio, and mindfulness. New workouts and collections added every month.  They also offer progress tracking features.

6. Xtend Barre $89/year, $59/6 months, $14/month
Part of a partnership with other online streaming fitness programs, XTend Barre is a blend of Pilates and dance moves offered through OpenFit.  14 day free trail applicable to the year subscription. 

7. Barre Fitness Free access to online video library via YouTube uploads.

After reviewing all the options I listed, I am considering trying out The Bar Method.  I like the price of $19/month compared to Pure Barre's $29.99/month.  The Bar Method also seems to be more of a low impact program and comparable to what I am already doing with Pure Barre's workouts.  Some of the other options seem to be more high impact cardio which is not my cup of tea. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Back on the Pure Barre On Demand Bandwagon (Newly Re-branded as Pure Barre GO)

It's been a couple weeks of consistent participation in at home Pure Barre GO workouts and I am happy to report that I am feeling the progress.  My core is feeling so much stronger.  I have also noticed a slimming down of my post baby belly.  Things are starting to tone up.  I'm also experiencing DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) on a regular basis so I know these workouts are targeting areas that need attention.

My favorite part of doing the Pure Barre GO classes is how easy they are to do.  It is so convenient for Moms that can't get away to attend a live class or leave the home to go to the gym.  I usually do my workouts after baby boy has been put down to bed for the night.  I'm also enjoying the low impact movements of their fitness philosophy.

There are some downsides to the at home workouts and that is in regards to the equipment.  I haven't been able to find their double tube resistance bands for at home use.  A couple years ago I was able to purchase one of their red balls and I believe I got it from their online store.  I do not see an online store through their main website however, reddit users have commented that there is a new website layout in the works and the online store will be back.  Prospective re-opening of the online store has been said "early 2020." So that is something we will have to wait and see if it transpires.  I just don't get the impression that their online classes are a priority in the grand scheme of things.  I could be wrong.  In the meantime I have been using a figure 8 resistance band I acquired many years ago from Amazon.  For now, it does the job.  I do plan on stopping by a local studio to see if they sell the double tube resistance bands.

Another equipment pitfall I experienced was during one of the workouts I was instructed to "pull off the barre."  This basically means you are holding onto the barre and leaning your weight back and using the barre to support all your weight.  This does not work using a chair or stand alone barre supports that you may use such as the Lebert Equilizer Bars.  This is best performed in a door frame using the wall, a stable couch or other piece of furniture, or as in my case a secure dance fitness pole.  This is a great reason to preview the online videos prior to performing them if you have the time to do so.  While the PB GO videos have been really good at telling you exactly what equipment is needed for each workout, there have been surprises like the pull off the barre that can leave you fumbling around in the midst of a workout.

These were just a few of my thoughts as far after a couple weeks of consistent participation in their online classes.  I have recently decided to adopt the "2 day workout" idea for my fitness goals this year which means you don't go more than 2 days in a row of not working out.  I got this idea from a local influencer that posted about the concept on Instagram and decided to work it into my ideology for my own personal fitness.  I really like that it takes the pressure off and I don't feel bad about taking it easy if I need to or if a workout just doesn't fit into my day (which I've yet to experience since PB GO offers various quick workouts that can be completed in as little as 10 minutes).  I'm planning to continue updating my progress as long as I am a subscriber to the PB GO so be on the lookout for future blogs as I continue along my at home fitness journey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Pregnancy Comfort/Fitness Must Haves

***I originally wrote this blog on January 19, 2019. I had my baby the first week of February 2019 and at the time of posting this blog, just celebrated his first birthday. Looking back through this list of items, it appears I created this list in the order in which I acquired each item in the form of a timeline. ***

I wanted to combine both my comfort and fitness must haves that I have really enjoyed during my active pregnancy.  I've had a few set backs during my final weeks of pregnancy that have forced me to slow down and take it easy - which has been where the comfort items have REALLY come in handy.  So without further ado, here is my list of must have items.

1. Water Bottle
I purchased a 1 gallon water bottle from Amazon early on in my pregnancy so I could keep track of my daily intake.  I ended up drinking 1.5-2 gallons daily.

2. Lemon Drops
These were a first trimester item that I used whenever I felt nauseated. Luckily for me, I didn't really experience any overwhelming nausea. I made sure to constantly be nibbling on something and drinking plenty of fluids throughout this period typically known for increased nausea.

3. Snoogle Pregnancy Pillow
I purchased one of these very early in my pregnancy and anticipated using it all throughout.  Unfortunately a few weeks into my third trimester I had to quit using this pillow and opt for an alternative for a good night's rest.

4. Jacket Extender
As my bump grew during the colder months, so did my need to bundle up.  I didn't want to buy a whole new jacket so instead I opted for an extender that I was able to attach to my favorite winter coat.

5. Backpack
I had to ditch my shoulder tote work bag and opt for a backpack.  This change up really made a huge difference in my coming and going to and from work.  As my body changed throughout my pregnancy, so did my ability to move as well as I did before.  Carrying all necessary items and my giant water bottle in a back pack made it less of a struggle when getting to work on time was of utmost importance.

6. Boppy Wedge
Mid-third trimester I had to upgrade from the Snoogle Pregnancy Pillow to the Boppy Wedge pillow.  This little pillow made a huge difference in alleviating aches and pains I was experiencing throughout the night.  Due to nerve compression in my left hand, sleeping with the Snoogle would cause numbness in my entire arm by morning.  The wedge pillow allows me to have freedom of my arm placement all while supporting my bump and back muscles for a good night of rest.  It also made it easier to get in and out of bed or to change sides as my bump grew larger and made movement much more difficult.

7. Exercise Ball
I use one to sit on while at work, in the shower, and for fitness activities.  I cannot praise the use of an exercise ball enough.  This thing helped me stretch out achy hips and sciatica pain, alleviated restless legs, and provided a place to rest while taking a shower where I do not have an area already for sitting. I also incorporated my exercise ball into my weekly circuit routines.  If there is one fitness item you plan on getting while pregnant, let it be an exercise ball.  You will not regret your decision.

8. Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Lotion
I went through several containers of lotion before I landed on using this one.  I have used the Palmer's Belly Lotion and Lubriderm Fragrance Free Body Lotions to apply to my skin as it stretches and becomes itchy.  My favorite for long lasting softness and anti-itch has been the Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Lotion.  I find that one application after showering in the morning to last all day. The other lotions I have used I had to reapply later in the day as I noticed the skin on my belly looking dry and my legs becoming itchy.

9. Travel Size Foam Roller
I bought one on Amazon that was a travel 2 in 1 combo.  I use the foam roller for rolling out my lower back, side of my hips, front of my hips, and upper back. One thing I have noticed during rolling is that is really gets my abdomen moving so if I am having a lot of gas pain, this has given me a lot of relief.  In addition to alleviating aches and pains I also found some foam roller exercises online that I was able to implement for some extra workout activities.

10. Pilates Ring
While the majority of the items I listed lean towards comfort items, I wanted to include the Pilates ring in this list as it was something I have been using quite frequently during my home circuit workouts with my husband.  My favorite way to use the Pilates ring was to incorporate it into leg squeezes to work my inner/outer thighs and glutes.  I suffer from third trimester sciatica so being able to maintain some level of fitness is really important to me for labor and delivery.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Happy New Year! 2020 Edition

It's a new year and I took an entire year off from blogging because I had a baby in 2019. 👶 My cute and cuddly busy bundle of joy is now a toddler and that has enabled me some freedom to start working again on my own fitness goals.  While every baby is different, I got to be the lucky Mama that had a very hard infant.  I have baby sat and been around enough kids to know that my child was NOT an easy baby whatsoever. I've taken care of multiple children that have been easier than my own kid.  So needless to say, last year my mind was not in a place to sit down and blog. I was barely able to workout.  So as my angry little infant has transformed into a happy go lucky little on the move toddler, my life has gotten significantly easier.  Believe me, my husband and I have collectively shared a big sigh of relief.

Moving on from baby-gate 2019, I have decided that I would dip my toes back in and start blogging about my postpartum experiences with fitness.  I wish I had blogged more as I was going through postpartum but like I said, the craziness that was my life didn't allow much breathing room let alone setting aside time to really think.  To sum up these last twelve months, I have noticed that my body took it's sweet time and took exactly twelve months to start to feel normal again.  This could be my age talking here (34 pregnant/35 delivery). It amazes me that some women are ready to start trying for another baby two weeks after having one. Who are you and WHAT kind of crazy hormones are you producing? I would have loved to have felt like my body bounced back that quickly but the reality was, it was no longer my body - it was the baby's as much as it was when he was on the inside as it was when he came out. I was his nutritional, comfort, and life support. To an extent, I still am. I'm still breastfeeding at twelve months postpartum.  Anyone who has breastfed can tell you that you are literally eating for two.  It's so important you eat and eat well.  As my little one starts to wean, I am still eating a higher caloric intake.  This is an adjustment I am going to have to focus on making so I don't fall into weight issues that can be harmful to my health.

To combat my higher caloric intake while breastfeeding and starting the weaning process, I've recently gotten back into increasing my physical activity. One of the things I have started back with is using my DeskCycle at work.  I was unable to use it in my later stages of pregnancy because my belly prevented me from comfortably cycling at my desk.  I've written several blogs about the DeskCycle. See DeskCycle for Your Sedentary Work Day and DeskCycle One Year Update. I'm happy to report that this thing is amazing and all these years later I am still using it.  I'd forgotten all the feel good benefits I experienced while using my DeskCycle until I started using it again.  In my opinion, this thing is HIGHLY recommended.

Another fun fitness tool I recently incorporated into my fitness routine is a FeetUp Yoga Trainer. It's a solid wooden chair/bench looking contraption that has a padded seat. Except it's best used for yoga stands or inversions.  The FeetUp yoga trainer has been an amazing addition to my fitness routine. I love using it for stretching and of course for it's intended purpose of getting upside down.  I have been using this for my cool down stretching flows after pole, circuit training, and barre workouts.  In addition to cool down sessions, I have also found the FeetUp to be amazing for core work.  I'm still playing around with how I intend to use it and have been doing quite a bit of research for ideas on different exercises I can do with it.  I'm hoping to dedicate a future blog post to this.

I also recently re-subscribed to the Pure Barre On Demand so I can get back into doing barre workouts at home.  I know there are some barre fitness workouts online that can be accessed for free but since I am familiar with Pure Barre On Demand (recently changed to Pure Barre GO for re-branding), I decided to give their program another GO (totally unintentional pun 😂). I wrote a detailed blog about Pure Barre On Demand back in May of 2018.  A lot of the content is the same. The most recent content is from November 2019 which I have seen many people complain about online.  There is however, A LOT of content.  I feel like for me it would take me a long time to get through all the content.  It's not that big of a deal to me but for some, it has been a deal breaker.  One thing that has changed since my last subscription is every once in awhile they will post a month and the week with daily workout videos you can do for that week.  I like this concept as it gives me a plan to work from. It hasn't been consistent though and I wonder if this is a feature they are trying to work out kinks as they transition into their new brand of Pure Barre GO.  One thing I have been doing is during some down time I like to watch the video I plan on doing the day or night before. It gives me a chance to focus on form of specific exercises so when I go to do the workout I will know what to expect.  This may be just something I do as I get back into the Pure Bare world and after awhile I may not do this anymore but for now, I find this to be helpful.

So those are a few things I have been doing off the pole for fitness. On the pole I have found that my brain thinks I can still do things the way I used to but my body is where the reality check really happens. I'm working on grip with my legs, inversions, and endurance.  All things that have seemingly gone away.  I have been wearing my Cleo's Rockin Pole grippy leggings A LOT. I also recently purchased a new pair of ballet slippers in bright red.  In addition to working on strength on the pole, I have revisited some of my former Pole Harmony studio routines.  I'm currently working on the Beginner Pole Routine I used to teach.  It's been fun to get back into pole and dancing.  I'm hoping that if I am able to have another child that I can continue to maintain my fitness through another pregnancy.  One thing I learned from going through my first pregnancy is to listen to my body and take it easy when  I need to both physically and mentally.  That time heals and working at my own pace is what is best for me.

Monday, December 24, 2018

2019 New Year's 30 Day DoYogaWithMe Challenges with Prize Packages

My favorite online yoga class streaming service DoYogawithMe.com is offering 30 day Yoga Challenge where participants will have the chance to win one of three gift baskets in the month of January! To participate, check out their details on each of the gift baskets and click the level of your choice for how to get started with the 30 Day Challenge.  Challenges will be live on December 31st.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

My TOP 5 Holiday Fitness Gift Guide and Hiatus Update + Pregnancy Fitness Items

It's been awhile since I last posted! I hadn't realized how much time has gone by.  So where have I been? Pregnant! I'm 8.5 months as I write this blog entry.  It's been a crazy busy past few months with appointments, organizing, and fitting in my workouts while growing a tiny human.  I withheld telling anyone until I was about 22 weeks when I decided to let my sister in law host a baby shower.  I had previously decided not to go the traditional celebratory route until after baby was born but am glad we were able to share this long awaited news with our close family and friends and celebrate at an event.  I've had a lot of time for self care and have shifted my workouts to a home based buddy circuit with my husband.  I'd like to share some gift ideas for my annual holiday gift list.  While it may not be aerialist or pole dancing specific this year, I think it works well for those looking for a well rounded fitness themed guide.

1. Pilates Ring
I have incorporated a Pilates Ring into my workouts this past year and I must say - I LOVE the versatility of this thing! My favorite target areas have been glutes, thighs, and abs; which a Pilates Ring does a great job at getting to that workout burn we all know and love from those Barre classes.

2. Foam Roller
This item is a definite NEED for all fitness areas.  I used mine religiously for pole, aerial, and now in pregnancy.  The one I choose from Amazon is a 2-in-1 13" with carrying case which is perfect for on the go.  I'm adding this to my hospital bag as a must have labor support item.  For regular fitness uses, the foam roller has become a staple among those in the aerial and dance apparatus fitness disciplines as it helps relieve muscle tightness all while incorporating necessary injury prevention.

3. Stress Relief Candle
Bath and Body Works has an amazing Aromatherapy line with Spearmint and Eucalyptus scented Stress Relief products.  Ideal to burn on your rest days to soak up some relaxation or during a deep stretch session.  This candle is an immediate self care win.

4. In Shower Steamer for Stress Relief
Still on the Spearmint and Eucalyptus bandwagon here but these Bath and Body Works in shower steamers are the perfect gift item that can be used post workout, when you're feeling under the weather, or as a Sunday Spa day relaxation prep for the upcoming week.  Other scents available include Energy Blend of orange and ginger, Comfort Blend of vanilla and patchouli, and Sleep Blend of lavender and cedarwood.

5. Resistance Bands
I feel like 2018 was really the year of implementing resistance bands in our pre and post-class conditioning at the Circus gym.  Since I have been on a teaching break due to pregnancy, I have fallen in love all over again with my bands for my at home pregnancy workouts.  I have been really enjoying the on the go versatile fitness gadgets that target multiple areas of the body lately.  I've used my bands at work while sitting at my desk and in the car during an eleven hour trip to keep my body moving and to ward off pregnancy related restless legs. This kit is an ideal stocking stuffer for your favorite fitness enthusiast.

There you have it, my top 5 favorites from the past year. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and a Happy 2019!