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.