A healthy lifestyle blog by ACE Certified Group Exercise Trainer.

Activity Tracker Garmin Vivofit Review

 I bought a Garmin Vivofit last month as my activity tracker-of-choice and thought I'd give it a review for anyone thinking of getting an activity tracker or trying out the Garmin.

What I love about the Vivofit:

  1. You don't have to charge it. Ever. Yep! It runs off a small watch battery that needs replacement every year or so. I really like this feature.
  2. It measures your heart rate. I bought the version that came with a heart rate strap. This really comes in handy when running or biking and it also comes in handy when trying to accurately measure calorie burn.
  3. The screen! I love that I can see at any point in time how many steps, distance, calories burned, heart rate, time, etc. I think this is a nice feature. 
  4. It's waterproof. I don't worry about taking it off for baths or dishes.
  5. It's comfy and durable. 
What is not so great about the Vivofit:
  1. The app is OK. Since I have the screen showing me my data, I find I hardly go into the app. It doesn't sync with MyFitness Pal for calorie tracking either.
  2. The screen does not light up in the dark. It does show up pretty well in bright sun, but it is not backlit (hence the reason it has a battery that only needs replacing every year). I didn't mind this too much because I rarely needed it in dimly lit situations unless I was running in the dark at 5 AM. then I found I had to shine my phone light on it to see it.
  3. The band itself. It pops off when I'm holding my 2 year old on my hip and carrying her around. I should probably just switch it to the other hand and this would probably take care of that problem. Otherwise it's easy to snap on and off.
  4. It overestimates steps/distance. For me, I would measure out a 3 or 4 mile run and I noticed my Vivofit would say I went 4.25 miles. 
Overall, I am really happy with this purchase. While I realize this band may not be the perfect option for everyone, I do recommend it for those fitness junkies who want something that will work while running, biking, or swimming and enjoy using a heart rate monitor for training. I also recommend it for someone who needs a screen with data and wants a "no-fuss" tracker. I don't recommend it for someone just wanting a simple pedometer (there are cheaper options for that!) or someone who is an app junkie and likes to utilize apps and sync with different apps.

What I learned about myself using this tracker:
  1. I don't get enough steps in most days on my own. While I do workout (and sometimes twice a day) I don't get close to the 10,000 steps a day without some thought and motivation. I typically get 5-6,000 steps if I don't exercise at all. If I do a Barre or Bootcamp class I get about 7,000. So I figured out that I either need to run OR make sure I walk for 30 min to 1 hr per day to get to 10,000. If I run 3+ miles I typically get 10,000 steps. If I do long distance it's more like 15k or even 20k.
  2. My job (hospital community relations/marketing) requires a few hours a day on the computer. I have tried standing at my bar counter to at least avoid "sitting" so much during that time. In my perfect world I would buy a treadmill desk, but I don't see that happening soon!
  3. I like the little red bar that "taunts" you to get up and move if you've been sitting too long. It's nice to have a friendly nudge to get your ass off the couch or out of the desk chair!

Comes in Black, Blue, Purple, Teal, & Gray
My Vivofit showing almost 20,000 steps after a long day of double workouts and painting my den!
Vivofit in teal with two other trackers.

The Mommy Tummy - Healing Diastasis Recti

I have several post-partum and pregnant clients, so I thought addressing the topic of the "mommy pooch" aka "diastasis recti" would be very helpful for pretty much any woman who has ever given birth (or will be giving birth).

What is diastasis recti? It's basically a separation down the midline of your ab muscles (rectus abdominis). See the lovely figure below. (Don't you just love how the pregnant lady's boobs went to hell in the illustration?)

How do you know if you have a diastasis recti? 

STEP 1: Lie on your back with knees bent
STEP 2: Place two fingers in the center of your belly, just above the belly button, pointing towards your toes.
STEP 3: Try to relax your abs and lift your head off the floor. (keeping abs as relaxed as possible will give you a more accurate reading, while squeezing abs tight will make the gap seem smaller)
Source: Daily HIIT Blog
If you have a separation of 1 finger, you don't have an issue. If you have 2-2.5 or larger (some women have 3 finger and 4 finger separations), it's considered problematic.

Personally, after I had my babies, I had a separation of 2.5 fingers. I have gotten it down to 1.5 but would still like to close the gap further.

Women who haven't given birth in YEARS can still have a diastasis recti and it still can be healed years later!

If you have this condition - STOP crunching immediately!

Women with diastasis recti larger than 2 fingers should not crunch. It actually can make your gap worse. Other exercises to avoid: planks, pushups on the floor, burpees, yoga poses like "cow pose" that extend the abs.

I know what you're thinking - that sucks! But, don't despair, there are several modifications and exercise to help improve the diastsis recti. First off, several exercises we do in my classes help strengthen the core without aggravating this condition - think squats, wall sits, lunges, cardio intervals, arm sculpting with weights.

GOOD EXERCISES TO START HEALING (some can be done during pregnancy)

1. Tummy vaccum - laying on your back in crunch position, knees bent, suck your tummy in while taking a deep breath in and squeeze. Don't hold your breath but hold the squeeze for 5-10 seconds. Do 5 - 12 reps. Do these kneeling if pregnant past the first trimester.

2. Flat back holds - on all fours, completely flat back (no cat or cow) do the tummy vaccum exercises.

3. Elevators - in seated or standing position, breathe in and pull abs up and in like going up in an elevator.


1. Jumping - take extra care to make sure to squeeze the abs as you lift feet off the ground. Don't jump as high or alternate lifting only one leg off the ground instead of both.

2. Planks & Pushups - Instead of planking or pushups go on to all fours and focus on squeezing the core tight. To push up, either do on the wall or keep your butt up in the air as you push up. Never do a plank if you can't keep your core squeezed tight during the exercise.

3. Side plank - always keep one leg on the ground.

4. Mountain climbers - keep booty high in the air and slow down the leg motion.

5. Standing Oblique crunches - don't do them, just focus on squeezing the muscles while standing in place, doing forward standing crunches.

6. Regular crunches on floor - lift head off the ground only (not shoulders) and squeeze tight as you take a deep breath. OR do standing front crunches instead.

7. Leg lifts on the floor - keep knees bent and gently lift one knee at a time to the chest as you squeeze tummy in.

8. Lat pull downs or pullups - do not do. Do shoulder presses overhead instead.

9. Overhead tricep press while lying on back- do butterfly open/close instead.

10. Positions laying on stomach - don't push belly into the floor. Rocking horse movements instead of superman movements.


1. Focus, focus, focus on posture. Make a conscious effort to engage and squeeze the core when sitting, standing, etc.
2. Splint. There are several belly splints that pull the muscles in, especially useful during exercise.
3. Seeing a doctor. If you have any pain, tender bulges, issues holding urine, etc. you should see a physician. The diastasis could be a symptom of a hernia or prolapse and needs to be treated.

Exercises: http://inspiredrd.com/2013/11/5-exercises-to-heal-diastasis.html
Explanation: http://bikinibodymommy.com/2013/04/28/diastasis-recti-101-why-some-moms-shouldnt-do-crunches/
Modifications: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmFfzHz5-Us
Exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2FW0UhNAas

Dressing for outdoor workouts and Pearl Izumi Jacket Review

It's super important to have the right workout gear, especially when exercising outdoors. I recently bought a jacket to use on my runs and I love it! It's the Pearl Izumi Women's Select Thermal Barrier. I know weather is warming up, but now is the time to purchase a good quality jacket on sale to use next year!

Why do you need a decent jacket? It makes all the world of difference in how comfortable you are exercising in cold or windy conditions. I selected the Pearl Izumi jacket because it is lightweight, wind resistant, water resistant, and insulating. It was $120 normally, but on Amazon I got it on sale for $81. Now is the time to get online and buy a jacket for next winter because they will be on clearance!

I really notice a difference using this jacket versus a cheap-o brand (I swear!). The jacket almost seems too lightweight to keep you warm, but it is sooo insulating. It does a great job blocking the wind. It's very form fitting (to keep wind out and insulate, so if you have a bigger chest or stomach area size up).


One of the biggest mistakes you can make when exercising in cold weather is to dress too warmly. Hence the reason you need a very lightweight jacket (not a down ski jacket or 10 layers of turtlenecks and sweaters). Exercise generates a considerable amount of heat — enough to make you feel like it's much warmer than it really is (typically 20 degrees warmer). The evaporation of sweat, however, can make you lose heat from your body and feel chilled. The solution?
Dress in layers that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat and then put back on as needed. First, put on a thin layer of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin.
Next, add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation. Top this with a waterproof, breathable outer layer.
For me, in cold temperatures (40 degrees and less) I run in: a sports bra, synthetic long sleeve top, and my running jacket. I usually wear running tights. I add gloves and hat if I need and warm socks. If I get hot, I take the jacket off and tie around my waist. Then I put it back on if I start running into the wind or if I start walking/cool down.