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21 August 2014

Fitness Tracker Review: Fitbug Orb

Having trialled the MovBand, and compared the Fitbit Flex and Polar Loop all in the last year or so, I seem to have become a bit of an exercise/fitness tracker connoisseur, and most days you can usually find me wearing one.  So when Fitbug got in contact about reviewing their Fitbug Orb, I was very intrigued to see how it would match up to the other exercise and fitness trackers I've tried.

Fitness trackers range in price from the MovBand probably being right at the lower end at £27.99 (though bear in mind it only measures steps and 'movs' and currently has no app facility) right up to £100+ for the more advanced trackers.  The Fitbug Orb pitches itself in the middle of that market, with an RRP of £49.95.

To take a step backwards for a minute, you may wonder why someone would want to use an exercise or fitness tracker.  I think the main thing here is motivation.  Tracking your steps and movements each day is a great way to understand more about your routine, how active you really are, and where you could look for more opportunities to get moving.  Seeing your daily steps, time spent active, miles walked and calories burned can be extremely motivating.  Many activity trackers (including the Orb) allow you to add your food choices throughout the day using an app or a website (in the Orb's case it's its website) or even link it to MyFitnessPal so you can see how you're offsetting activity with your nutritional choices.

Fitbug Orb Review

Setup


The Orb was easy to set up and get started with.  You register your Orb on its web portal and then link it to the Fitbug app using bluetooth.  You can also purchase a bluetooth dongle to directly input into the web portal (this doesn't come in the box).

Fit/wearing the Orb

The Orb can be worn around your wrist like a watch, or alternatively you can use the clip to clip it on to your clothes, or there's a lanyard in the box too - so you have a lot of different options for how to wear it, which is definitely appealing.  I have pretty small wrists and I actually had to wear the Orb on its tightest setting meaning that the rest of the strap was tucked underneath - if I was keeping the Orb I'd probably trim the strap but mine was a press sample so thought I'd better not! The Orb itself slips inside the watch strap - on one occasion it slipped out so you have to be careful with how you insert it to avoid losing it.  The strap came undone on one occasion too, so I made sure I kept tabs on it and ensured it was all clicked into place at all times.

Day to day tracking

I've been using the Orb for just under a week now.  During that time I've used the app constantly to keep track of my steps and miles and minutes of activity.  I've found it accurate and the app setup is clean and easy to use.  I haven't used the nutrition option as a) calorie counting is not really important to me and b) I don't have frequent enough internet access to be able to routinely use the web portal, but I'd imagine this would be a useful feature if you wanted to focus on tracking both your food intake and your exercise.  You can click the button on the Orb to push your stats to the app, which worked really well for me - I had issues with both the Fitbit Flex and Polar Loop apps not syncing properly but the syncing function works really well on this.

This is a quick snap of the web portal.  I haven't been given enough review time for my targets to be set up yet but once I'd used it for the full week I assume this would all show how close I was to my allocated targets.

Fitbug web portaLFitbug Orb Review

Sleep tracking

The Fitbug Orb will also track your sleep - you click the button three times before you go to sleep and it charts your time asleep and the quality of your sleep.  This is a function on the Fitbit Flex too that can be useful to track your sleep over time and see how that contributes to how active you are.  It can be really insightful to see just how often you wake up and how much you move around!

Fitbug Orb Review

Fitbug emails and newsletter

One function that is unique to the Orb (or at least that I've seen) is the emails you receive from them on a daily basis.  For the first week, the Orb tracks your activity and nutrition, and then acts almost like a personal trainer, creating daily step targets that you can use to hit your 30 minutes of daily exercise target.  You can also add non-step based activities online, like yoga or weights, to ensure that your full activities are recorded (as, like most fitness trackers, it uses an acceleromoter that finds it difficult to track these).  You also get emailed a 'Bugzine' newsletter which has all kinds of health and fitness tips, even recipes and wellbeing advice.

Overall conclusion

Overall, I'd say that the Orb is definitely worth its price-tag and would be a useful tool for keeping motivated if you wanted to track fitness and nutrition and were looking to spend £50 or less.  One huge advantage of the Orb over other fitness trackers is the fact that it uses a watch battery, rather than having to charge over USB which the other fitness trackers I've tried all do.  It can be so frustrating having to unclip it and charge these, especially when you forget and are going out for the day, so a watch battery is a huge plus for me.

The personal trainer emails and personalised tracking is another big advantage (provided you don't mind daily emails!) and something that is a real seller for the Fitbug as its targets are all bespoke to you and your health questionnaire (you complete this when you first register your Orb).

The flexibility to wear the Orb in different ways is also a big plus - I have heard that the steps tracking is more accurate when you wear it in your pocket than on your wrist which is one consideration - it also helps if you are fashion conscious and don't fancy the wrist strap option!

The only thing that other trackers like the Polar Loop and Fitbit Flex have on the Orb is that there's no indication on the Orb display of how you're doing (both the Flex and the Loop have display bars that indicate whether you've met your goal).  But the app works well and if you always have your phone to hand then this shouldn't put you off.

I'd also be slightly concerned that the Orb might slip out of the strap, or that the strap might come off - more wearing would show whether this is a real issue, but fingers crossed just checking it's clipped in properly should eliminate this.

Have you tried the Fitbug Orb? Have you used any other activity or fitness trackers?

You can buy the Fitbug Orb on their website for £49.95.

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( I was provided with a press sample for review - all opinions are my own )

19 August 2014

Honest to blog: A blogging promise

We used to have a weird phrase or analogy where I used to work, that when things got really frantic and hectic, we called it shooting elephants.  The idea is that instead of being able to be proactive and tackle your priorities at a manageable pace, you're being overrun by elephants and you have to keep shooting them or you get trampled. I'm not sure that even makes sense looking back on it, but I kind of know what I mean - it's that moment when you lose control and everything is reactive rather than proactive, with things coming at you from all angles.  I would never shoot an elephant by the way, I'm an animal lover and I think elephants are pretty cool.

I love the fact that more people are openly talking about the fact that blogging can be a bit stressful now and then, with both Media Marmalade (in this post) and Zoe Newlove (in this post) writing about how challenging it can be managing a blog and a full-time job.  Lately, I've definitely felt like I'm shooting elephants with my to-do list - no sooner do I get one thing ticked off, than another three or four things pop up that demand my attention. If I ever mention that I'm finding it challenging managing blogging commitments on Twitter I get a few similar responses - first of all that a blog should be a hobby, not a chore  (and I agree) and secondly that people should be grateful for the amazing opportunities that blogging brings - anything on my to do list relating to blogging is usually a review, or event, or a collaboration, and I'm lucky to receive those opportunities (I also agree with this).

Filofax

Though my blog clearly started as, and still is, a hobby, it clearly has grown from its inception in both scope and popularity (and I am blessed to have people who want to read what to write!) which has meant that people now want to work with me to have their product/event/website featured or reviewed on my blog. The reason they are getting in contact with me in the first place is because they think my readers will be interested (otherwise they'd be wasting their time and mine) and so I do consider most requests for collaborations as long as they are relevant, interesting and something I would write about or buy myself.  And as a blog reader, I think that's okay - I certainly am not put off by collaborations on other blogs and it's through these kind of partnerships that my pennies end up disappearing out of my bank account through me buying products I've seen in reviews or clothes I've seen in outfit posts or wishlists.  So, everybody's happy - the blogger, the client, the reader, okay, maybe not my bank manager - but still.

When bloggers taking on collaborations becomes a problem it's usually for one of two reasons:

1. They take on collaborations that are not relevant for their blog because the temptation of £££ is too much (and I get that - let's face it, it's sometimes hard to balance integrity against looking in your cupboards and seeing you'll be eating beans on toast for the rest of the month if you don't say yes).

2. They take on too many collaborations, meaning that the balance becomes out of kilter.  All of a sudden those posts you loved about their DIY crafting/life updates/happy lists fall by the wayside in favour of guest posts, wishlists and product reviews.  You lose the personality and the personal-ness of the blog - and that's when people start to walk away and find other blogs where you can really get to know the person, rather than it being an endless copy and paste of press releases and product launches.

I'm not pointing the finger here without looking in the mirror myself (I'm mixing metaphors like the Pope in the woods) and I'll be honest, I've done both of these myself.  Last Christmas I didn't have as much money as I wanted to buy people Christmas presents, and I said yes to more things than I should have, and on occasion I took things on that perhaps weren't right for me and my blog.  I'm not going to lie, it's hard.  Blog integrity doesn't pay for Christmas presents, or weddings, or holidays, and so the temptation to take on a collaboration in exchange for cold, hard, cash, when you're gut is telling you not to is hard, but necessary if you want to retain the passion behind blogging and that allure that makes people keep coming back.

The second point is what really concerns me though.  When I chat to people about their favourite of the types of posts I regularly do, they are kind enough to say that they love the real lifestyle posts - the days out, the barbecues, the walks along the beach and even the Honest To Blogs like this one where I just, sort of purge thoughts, concerns, fears and so on.  I guess that's because no-one else can write about what Rosie did, or what Bodhi got up to, or how I'm feeling, but me.  Whereas most other bloggers do wishlist posts, or product reviews or PR collaborations.  I think that people like the stuff that's personal, the stuff that they can connect with, the stuff that makes them nod until their neck hurts.  It's sad but lately there are photos I've taken of fun things that I've done that I've never been able to write about because I've had too many other blog commitments, or emails to answer.  Sidelining what this blog was started for in favour of what has almost become the demands of 'a second job' is frankly not cool.  I want to write about books I've read, and runs I've been on, and beautiful front doors I've spotted, and poems I've loved, and things I've made and people I've met, and funny things that Bodhi has done.  That is this blog's raison d'ĂȘtre.  The other stuff is fun too - and finding creative ways to tell you about brands I think you'll love is great, but the ratio needs to be right.  They should just be add ons here and there, not the main bulk of my blog.  I think that's slipped a little lately, and for that I apologise.  On top of that, it's become unmanageable. Looking in your diary and seeing that you have six blog posts to write that week and only one evening free, is just not possible.  And those emails chasing me to find out where the blog post is after a few days of receiving a product make me feel really stressed and under pressure.  Stress is not something I need in my life when it's brought on by something that's supposed to be a hobby - blogging is supposed to be my escape, my fun, my passion, not another source of angst.  And I have been feeling pretty stressed - setting alarms in the mornings to blog before work and turning down social occasions because I have deadlines.  Not what I ever wanted from blogging.

Filofax

My promise to you is that in future, all of that stuff that I love writing about and you (thankyou) seem to love reading about, will be what you will find here.  I promise to you that I will trust my gut as to what you will want to read, and I will increasingly say no to things I think you might not.  I want my blog to be full of salty air and goofy smiles again, and I pledge that I will make that happen.  It doesn't mean that there won't be collaborations on here, but it does mean that I will be careful with what I choose to do, and I will try and do them in a way that you will still really enjoy reading.

"Do it cos' you love it, or don't do it", as they say.  (And they, are pretty wise).

Big love,

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18 August 2014

Birthday gifts, timepieces and the Mulberry

I have a few little birthday posts in my drafts folder - I can't wait to share photos of the camping weekend that Tom surprised me with, or the day itself; but first, I thought I'd share a few special little presents I received.

What was really special about this birthday was that every single gift was so thoughtful and carefully chosen - it really warmed my heart to receive such wonderful presents, and it made me so grateful to have such amazing friends in my life.  Obviously friendships are not all about presents! But what I mean is that the presents I received were so thoughtful that it made me thankful for the effort and care that people took when buying me gifts! Several items too are things that I will cherish for the next 30 years, which makes it even more special.

The lovely Sally unexpectedly sent me some beautiful flowers, which was so kind and thoughtful.
I've not used Bloom & Wild before but the flowers are stunning and they are still going strong 10 days later!

Bloom and Wild
Bloom and Wild

Tom's main present was that he treated me to four days away staying a Bell Tent on a beautiful campsite, but he also bought this lovely rope candle holder and a bottle of champagne - you have to have bubbles to celebrate your 30th!

Champage

I bought my friend Kate a clutch for her birthday and we've taken to calling it Mrs Clutch and addressing it as if it were a person (e.g. is Mrs Clutch coming out tonight? - and so on).  Kate bought me a beautiful clutch too, and had it engraved with Mrs Clutch! So now we both have Mrs Clutches!

Mrs Clutch Mrs Clutch

Perfect for a camping weekend, my friend Nicole treated me to a hamper full of local ciders, apple juices and a mulling kit, as well as the beautiful rose gold bracelet I featured in this post.

Hamper of ciders

My brother's girlfriend Elly bought me this fab fox satchel - could you get a more Rosie present?

Fox satchel

The lovely Katy bought me this gorgeous wooden clock which is waiting to be hung in our bedroom. It was such a lovely surprise on my birthday as she organised for it to be sent to my work and for Tom to collect it.  It's going to look so perfect on our wall.

clock

I was also kindly sent a stunning Olivia Burton watch by Twisted Time.  It arrived a couple of days before my birthday, so I'm calling it a birthday present anyway!  I absolutely love the hummingbird design - it's sure to pop up in lots of outfit posts as it's so classic and goes with everything.

Olivia Burton watch Olivia Burton watch
// olivia burton mink hummingbird watch, £75*

Of course the present that I've barely let out of my sight since I received it is the beautiful Mulberry Oversized Alexa bag that I was given by my parents.

Mulberry Alexa oversized

My Mum and I went to Bicester Village and chose it together.  Photos really don't do it justice - the soft leather and classic Mulberry styling and details are simply stunning.

I went to see Sarah in London last Friday (and that's a whole other blog post!) and she surprised me with a dress she made herself especially for me! I had commented on how beautiful the fabric was when she bought it and she got my measurements off my Mum (who also recently made me a dress - lucky Rosie!) and whipped me up this utterly stunning dress.  I was almost speechless when I opened it and I haven't wanted to take it off since, it is just perfect.  Here is a quick snap from when I snuck into a changing room whilst we were in London to try it on - proper outfit photos to follow!


I really am so touched by all the wonderful gifts I received, and there were a few more lovely things I haven't mentioned as I don't want to totally bomb you with present photos!  Big love to everyone who took the time to send me a happy birthday message on Twitter/Facebook or in blog comments, it really was a wonderful birthday.

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