Thursday, June 30, 2011

100 Days!

OMG!  I was just working on my July goals post and I thought I'd see how many days were left until my first marathon...so I punched October 9 into a countdown thing and was greeted by ...

100 DAYS!

Holy schmoley!  What have I done....

Wrapping up the June Challenge

As a peer sheepishly around the corner, I have to admit that I didn't do so hot on the willpower front. 

Don't drink calories wherever possible - want a latte?  Drink tea.

Okay - so I didn't do very well with this one until the end of the month.   I probably would have been fine if I'd just left my coffee mug at home.  Finding out that the Good Earth Cafe on the main floor of my new office building discounts for bringing your own mug meant I brought my own and got one.  

BUT - I did finish the month with a bang.  The last 5 days of the month, I went latte-less and it didn't kill me.   In fact, I enjoyed my tea a great deal and I am going to try to maintain that.

No candy - no matter how yum it is, you have that gut for a reason and it is spelled c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e.

This one was a bit easier than I expected it to be.  I really only splurged on Candy 3 times.  Twice, because I really just wanted chocolate and the last time because it was the True Blood Premiere and I happened to be at Cross Iron Mills and saw the candy store that has the choco-dipped licorice.  Yum.   It was worth it.   If I can seriously go a month without gorging myself several times a week on choco-love, then I am sure not going to feel bad about three splurges.

Chips, on the other hand.  Buying chips for the true Blood premiere was a problem.  I wanted to snack on them all the time.  

Whole foods wherever possible.  Enjoy healthy foods prepared simply.


We ate a bit more convenience food than I would have liked, but I did make an extra effort to have fresh veggies and fruit in my meals.  

Stick to the calorie allowance in Lose It My Fitness Pal.  Don't cheat and eat up your exercise

Moving to the My Fitness Pal app did reduce my daily calories and, for the first couple of weeks using the app, I did eat up the calories my exercise earned me...but toward the end of the month (particularly in the final 4 day blast off) I stuck to what I was told and, even with a couple of potato chips thrown into the snack, I managed to stay within the allowance and burn off some extra.  Yay me!

Join a TRX class in Langdon one day a week

Did it.  Loved it.  Am shopping on Kijiji to find myself a TRX for home.  The thing that surprised me about signing up for this class is how much I ended up enjoying doing the boot camp with other moms.   We live in a little teeny town and I really didn't know many people there, but now I do.   My fitness goals are different from theirs and I'm not sure I see myself going for coffee with them anytime soon, but that weekly class was just nice to get out and do something different.

I am taking July off from the class so I can focus my Wednesdays on some race pace training, but I think I may actually go back in August and make it a part of my weekly workout.

Make cross training count...Bike plus core or plyo on Mon/Fri

Not as great as I wanted to be with this one.  My Wednesday class, however, ended up being more than just TRX and was a boot camp that incorporated core and plyo into the workout.  I think the one intense core/plyo workout a week was about all I could really handle.  

Running 3 times a week (two shorter weekday runs plus my long run on Saturday)

Um.  Ya.   Not so much :(  I did keep up my long runs - I ran a half plus a couple of 10K runs and a solo 18K...on Saturdays.  My weekday runs suffered.  I'm doing well with it this last week of the month, though.  I'll definitely be trying to get them in over the summer.

So that, in a nutshell, was June.   The month really flew by and I am ending it 4lbs lighter than I started it.   I tried to find my little calendar so I could update it, but I fear I may have accidentally cleaned house on that folder on this computer and swept it out with the rest of the junk :(   Suffice it to say - I think I definitely hit over half of my targeted workouts for the month and I'd say that's pretty good.

Now I need to come up with some sort of fabulous plan for July to keep the momentum going.   I already know this weekend is going to be stupid because tomorrow is Canada Day and I plan to enjoy the day with my family and eat whatever I please :P  and then Saturday is my friend's wedding.  I can't remember if I RSVP'd as a vegetarian, so it might be easier than I think to stick to my diet if all I can eat is salad :)

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what my plan is for July 3rd onward.

25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay

I did something a little out of character for me a couple of days ago.  I've debated with myself on whether or not I should post about it, but it's a good thing and totally worth sharing.

First, a little background.


25 years ago, Rick Hansen held his Man in Motion tour, where he wheeled himself around the world to raise awareness and showcase the abilities of the disabled and to be a part of finding the cure for spinal cord injury.   His incredible tour was awe inspiring.   Being an impressionable child at the time, I'd like to think that this tour inspired me to be the person I am today.  To never put limits on myself or others because we are all capable of surprising the world with what we can do when we're given a chance.

Fast forward 25 years and the Rick Hansen Foundation is recreating the tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original tour.  This time, though, it will be a Many in Motion tour and will be a medal relay across Canada, following in the tread marks of Hansen's original Canadian tour route.

After only a second of hesitation...I threw my name into the hat to become a relay participant.   I am sure there will be thousands and thousands of entrants and that the chance of my being selected is pretty slim, but I'm putting myself out there and am hoping to be selected for a leg of the relay that runs between Okotoks and Calgary next February.  It would surely become the most memorable 0.25K I've run :)

There are opportunites to participate across the entire country - they are seeking 7000 medal bearers! Some of the regions on the east coast are already closed to entries into the contest, but check it out anyway and see if you might like to be a part of this amazing experience. 

To enter the contest, click here
  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Warm Weather Workout Tips

Source
Yesterday, I skipped my morning run and told myself I'd make it up in the evening.  Of course, running at 4am in June in Alberta is a far cooler temperature than running at 7pm.   Especially when the day had been extraordinarily warm (keep in mind I'm a hot weather wuss.  Give me spring or fall anytime...boo to summer).  As I was panting and gasping my way through the run, my face red from both the heat and the effort (and perhaps from the frustration of swatting the murderous mosquitoes), all I could think about was how I was going to need to adapt my workouts now that summer was here.  

So I called up my good friend, Mr. Google, and asked him for some advice to survive this summer.  Here's what he told me:

1) Hydrate
The first thing I realized last night was that water was no longer optional.  Usually for a 6K run, I wouldn't even think about strapping on the fuel belt.   But last night I needed it. 

2) Back off the intensity
I had hoped to keep up an under 6 min/k pace for the entire 6K (well, excluding my walk breaks) but after a couple of kilometres, I had to dial it back.  The lack of water was making me cramp and I just couldn't maintain it.  Though if I could have kept it up, I might have been attacked by fewer of those sadistic mosquitoes (really, Langdon, do we BREED them to be the size of my hand?)

3) Avoid working out during the hottest times of the day
I'm thinking my summer plan to do my shorter weekday runs over lunch at work is probably not going to happen until fall.  Even though you would think the evenings would be much cooler - they really aren't in my part of the country...not until later anyway.   To beat the heat - you can't beat getting up a bit earlier in the morning.  Plus - it gets it out of the way before those nasty mosquitoes wake up for the day...


and don't forget your sunscreen if you do happen to be restricted to a daytime workout!

4) Take your workout indoors
This one I take some issue with.   If you're a runner and you happen to own a treadmill (I don't) then I suppose it works...but if you live in Canada and you spend the winter on that treadmill -  you just want to get outside and have some variety...am I right?   I guess you just need to do what works for you.  If you want to spend your summer on the 'mill I guess that's your prerogative.  

5) Give your body time to adapt

This one was incredibly poignant for me, after slogging through a warm weather run...the human body is an incredible machine and, given time, it can adapt to the circumstances it is presented.   A couple of weeks of dialed back workouts should be enough to help you adapt before you start ramping it up again.


So, for me, it's going to mean being patient with the temperatures and remembering to strap on my fuel belt.  Weekday runs have ceased to be optional now that I am officially in marathon training.  Honestly - they should have ceased to be optional weeks ago but I've just been too tired.   I'll be heading to bed earlier (That means you need to go to bed before 10pm, Buggie - I don't care how loud you're screaming...your bedtime is 8 and mine is 8:30!) and getting up at 4am ish to hit the highway (seriously - most of my local running routes are actually highway).

Happy summer workouts to you all!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Techy Tuesday: My Fitness Pal App for Blackberry

A while back, I reviewed the Lose It app for iPhone/iPod Touch. For almost 6 months, I logged my food and exercise religiously in that app. It was easy. It worked. It got my weight loss started again after a lengthy plateau/gain. And then June hit...and I got myself a Blackberry. There is no Lose It for Blackberry. Uh oh - Problem.

Enter My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is a very similar app to Lose It. It is available for both iPhone/iPod Touch AND Blackberry.

A quick comparison of the two
Lose ItMy Fitness Pal
  • Online access from desktop
  • Free
  • Apps for iPhone/iPod Touch only
  • Large food database
  • Ability to add own foods, recipes, exercises
  • Online access from desktop
  • Free
  • Apps for iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone
  • Large food database
  • Ability to add own foods, recipes, exercises

On the surface, the two programs seem really similar. They both also support a large user community that you can interact with, social networking capabilities, reporting tools...pretty much everything (and more) that you would need to guide you on the road to success...all you need to do is take the time to log your food and stick to what it says and you're set.

Where they differ, though, and where I found myself actually preferring My Fitness Pal is the food database. Lose It has a decent database...but it isn't always accurate and it isn't very comprehensive. When you add foods to Lose It...they are your foods. You don't share them with anyone else. My Fitness Pal gives you the option to make the manual food entry public AND gives other users a chance to verify its accuracy. As a result, there are very few foods I have had to enter myself...someone has usually gotten to it first. This is especially fantastic when I started looking for listings of small Canadian restaurants like Good Earth Cafe...most of my regular orders were already in the database!

I also noticed that the calorie allowances are quite a bit lower than with Lose It. Lose It adjusts your calories downward as you log losses. My Fitness Pal does not. It has stayed the same over the 4lbs I've lost (so far) using it. This is both good and bad. It seems like a low number but it is still fairly good from a diet perspective (at 156.5lbs it gives me 1260/day). Lose it gave me around 100 more than that.

There are drawbacks, though. The Blackberry app has minimal functionality. I can manage my meals and check in with my weight. It is a very minimalistic interface and navigation is a bit clunky. I've experimented with the iPhone version a bit and it is much more suited to a touchscreen device. Trying to scroll with the track pad on my BB can be a bit tricky and frustrating. Also - when you scroll over something, it is hard to tell if you have selected it because it merely shades the option in a pale pale blue - making it hard to distinguish from the white background. For all intents and purposes, though, the app works best if you have the mindset that it is function over form.

I do find that if I have a desktop computer available, I will tend to just log my meals that way. Having the mobile app does keep me accountable when I'm on the go, though, and I appreciate that - even if it does thwart my buying a chocolate bar because I have no excuse to not know what remains in my calorie bank :)

Some screenshots of the Blackberry App


Some screenshots of the iPhone/iPod Touch App

The Mobile Apps are free.  For more information, visit: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/mobile

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Shoes

My running shoes usually give me a lot of notice before they crap out on me. Usually in the way of foot pain. I think this is just because I wear such a cushy shoe that when the midsole is gone and the cushioning is pounded out - my feet are taking the brunt of it. Last week, I wore the older of two pairs for 10K and confirmed that they were shot. This week, for my solo 18K, I wore my much newer pair and was quite alarmed at how hard it was on my feet. Suddenly, I was faced with needing two new pairs of shoes. Oh - and less than 2 weeks until my next half marathon so I needed at least one of those pairs FAST. I need time to break them in a bit before I pound out 21.1 in them!

Normally, I buy my shoes online. I say with great pride that I have never paid over $35 + shipping on a pair of runners yet. But right now, Canada Post is on strike. I either needed to buy in a store or buy online for shipping to a store.

So, yesterday, I went shopping. I decided to go to the Running Room and try on everything they had in an 11 to see if there was anything that would be a) cheap and b) work for me.

Boy, have my Nike vomeros spoiled me. They are so cushy and just feel great. They didn't have them in my size so I tried on 5 other pairs. The closest to what I wanted was a pair of Asics. But they were PINK! I keep telling myself that one day I will be stuck with pink shoes because that will be all that is available when I am shopping. I just couldn't do it, though. I told the sales lady that I was going to need to walk around and think about them for a bit and, if I thought I could do it, I'd be back for them.

ya - I couldn't do it. I know. I know. They are runners. They are for function. They are to get me from point A to point B. You only wear them for maybe 6 months then they go away. Shut up and just buy the pink ones already. Nope. Still couldn't do it. I just really don't like pink.

I didn't go back and then I went home quite dejected that I didn't have new runners with me.

Next stop - online. Let's see if I can pick up anything out of the Running Room's clearance section and have it shipped to the Eau Claire store. Presumably this shipping would be done by courier so we wouldn't be at the mercy of the Canada Post strike. Deep breath and - CLICK. Well, lookey here. Nike Vomero 5 in size 11...it was my lucky day! I quickly clicked to buy and set up to have them shipped to Eau Claire.

This morning when I woke up...I was greeted by the news that the postal strike was over...and saw that there were lots of super deals on ebay again.

Figures.

MOMday: The Mommy's Guide to Weight Loss

Sometimes my brain takes random walks into hilarity and I end up finding inspiration where I least expect to. Today, I was pondering the number of running momma blogs that I follow and how a common thread right now seems to be stagnating weight loss. Heck - I'm there too (hence the June Challenge). As my mind wandered, I thought of a few ways that only a mommy could lose weight...

Disclaimer: note the sound as I firmly plant my tongue into my cheek....

1) Instead of cleaning off their plates - feed them off yours!
How gross is it to eat the food your kid slobbered on off his plate when he's done. Instead, dish up your own plate and feed him spoonfulls off of it. Less for you and he still gets fed. (I actually do this one - though my kids are garberators - they eat theirs THEN they eat mine. It's how I sneak veggies into them)

2) Strength Training with Kids
Muscles burns fat, right? So - hefting your 6 year old around is actually getting in another workout. To heck with letting them walk on their own...teetering down the stairs with 50lbs in your arms is just another way to fit in a workout. Remember to switch sides regularly so you won't start looking lop-sided! This is the advantage to having twins...they want to be carried at the same time. No lop-sided biceps for meee! You don't een have to schedule it - I'm sure they will happily stop using their legs if it will help you out!

3) Dancing with the Stars Babes





My little girlies are dancing superstars. I'm too intimidated by their talent to dance with them. But if you have less talented boppers...or don't intimidate easily - bop with your babes...If you want good kid music to dance to - check out the Imagination Movers albums...so fun and catchy...and not at all annoying like Barney.

4) Run Away From Your Kids
I've often said that if I had to rely on running for weight loss - I'd still be a fat girl. But what running has given me is a clearer head to apply to both my parenting and my weight loss efforts. If I don't run away from my kids at least once a week - I start to wander down ACookieorFive Way. (kind of a shady street, btw)


5) Watch your informercials
You're up  at 1:30 am anyway, why not tap into a little inspiration.  In the wee hours there are a ton of fitness informercials - probably all targetted at the mommy who's trying to drop a few.   Most of them are good for a laugh (how on earth is swinging myself back and forth on a little kneeboard gonna give me abs of steel instead of flabs for real?), but there are others with great and inspiring stories.  Great for motivation.

Just put down the phone if you're about to order that Shake Weight.  It's not gonna work and all you're gonna lose is the money you spent to have it express shipped...just put down the credit card and go back to bed...unless it's close to a decent hour - then, maybe, turn that new motivation into a workout!


Some other great ones I found online:
  • When eating doughnuts...only eat the centre part
  • Use parental block on the Food Network and then eat the PIN

    Weekly Update - June 27/11

    I meant to write this yesterday, but didn't get a chance.

    My June Challenge is going to hell in a handbasket.  I had GREAT intentions and lattes were my downfall.   Overall did I eat better?  Sure.   Well - not counting my binge last night to ring in the new season of True Blood.   But in general I'm not doing too bad.  I've lost 3.5lbs, which is always a good thing.   Overall, though, it's been a tough month in my world and the June challenge has not been in the front of my mind.

    With 4 days left in June, though, I am issuing myself a mini-challenge.  If I can't exercise a little willpower for 4 days then there is something seriously wrong with me.   For my 4 day challenge, I will be sticking to my June challenge.  No straying AT ALL.

    •     Don't drink calories wherever possible - want a latte?  Drink tea.
    •     No candy - no matter how yum it is, you have that gut for a reason and it is spelled c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e.
    •     Whole foods wherever possible.  Enjoy healthy foods prepared simply.
    •     Stick to the calorie allowance in Lose It.  Don't cheat and eat up your exercise
    •     Join a TRX class in Langdon one day a week - last class is Wednesday (then I need to decide if I will sign up for July)
    •     Make cross training count...Bike plus core or plyo on Mon/Fri
    •     Running 3 times a week (two shorter weekday runs plus my long run on Saturday)


    I can so do this.   Even if it's just to prove to myself that I have SOME willpower left.

    As for this last week - I sucked royally on the workout front.  I think I did 1 bike workout on Wednesday, a core class on Thursday and an 18K run on Saturday.   Not really a great week on that.  I did rock that 18K solo - so that should say something...but my heart wasn't in the working out last week.   Don't even talk to me about the eating.   I stayed okay for most of the days, but chocolate dipped licorice and fresh potato chips killed me Sunday night.   Ok - and maybe takeout pizza did too.  It wasn't a pretty sight.  Yummy, yes.  But not a pretty sight at all.  Especially in the eyes of my challenge.

    So - what do I think are the things that made it hard for me to concentrate on this challenge?  It's hard to say.  I have really been missing my kids this month.   In May, the novelty of having kid-free days carried me through.  Now - I am missing the snuggles and love.  All I get now is the fighting and screaming.   For an hour or two a day that I get to spend with them - the reward just isn't there.   It's been weighing really heavilly on me and has been screwing up my focus in more than just my challenge.   My work is another one.   When I returned to work, I thought I was returning to WORK...but instead I returned to a workplace that wasn't prepared for me to be back.  I can't really say much more than that.  It's just been much harder than I thought it would be.   As a result...I'm more than a little depressed (not in a need to be medicated way - just not my usually happy go lucky me) and my focus has been more than a little off.

    So - 4 more days.   I am so gonna rock these 4 days.  Then I will have a nice long run on Canada Day and celebrate my final 4 days by dancing all night at my friend's wedding on Saturday! It'll be a great way to bid farewell to June and greet July and all the summer adventures it will bring!

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Friday Reads: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

    I'm back on a bit of a YA Fiction kick again (as if I ever left) and decided to start in on Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series...starting with The Alchemyst.  As an added note - this is the first novel I have read on my new Kobo Touch (I did read Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese, but since it's for work and super short, I'm not counting it).

    First things first, I must get this out of the way. This series is NOT written by the boss on The Office. There. Now that that's cleared up (and let me tell ya - I still giggle when I read the name)..I can get on with the review of the first book in this delightful series.

    For anyone familliar with the Harry Potter books, you will know that Nicholas Flamel was the creator of the Philospher's Stone - the elixir of which will give the drinker immortality and has the power to transform ordinary materials into objects of great value.   This series starts with a magical confrontation inside of a bookstore and the revelation that the owner of the shop, Nick Fleming, is actual Nicholas Flamel.   Nicholas's wife, Perry, is abducted in the melee and they must get her back and recover the magical book that Dee (the bad guy) stole.  Twins Sophie and Josh, aged 15, are sucked into the adventure of a lifetime where Nicholas believes they are the twins who the legendary Codex foretold to be either the salvation or the destroyers of earth as we know it. 

    The story itself flows fairly well, though there are areas where the author has gotten a little Jean M. Auel repetitive.   I'm going to hesitate to comment on his writing ability because I am keeping in mind that the audience he is writing for would be tweens (what?  Not 34 year old YA junkies? I know - I'm as shocked as you are).   It is written simply, yet colourfully.  He keeps the adventures flowing and does a great job of describing the magical creatures (even if he does describe a few of them over and over and over again).


    I'm not going to go too in depth with the details here. I truly think that if you are a fan of young adult fantasy, then you should probably pick up the series for yourself and immerse yourself in it. Scott brings creatures of legend and incredible historical figures and weaves them into a modern-day fantasy tale in a way that the historians could never have predicted. This series may be labeled YA, but I think only an adult can understand the depth that went into bringing these characters into immortality.

    Scott writes in a very beautiful way. He has a knack for pulling vivid descriptions out of his prose and surrounding the reader in them. Rather than feeling like a passive reader, I feel like I am drawn right into the story and am watching the action from *right there*. By the time I was halfway through "The Alchemyst"...I had already downloaded book two, "The Magician". (and I have the rest of the books on hold through my library - though if they don't hurry up and become available, I'll be buying "The Sorceress" shortly)

    I likely won't review the other books in the series, but I am confident in saying that this is a SERIES worth reading. I know that I'll be devouring these books for at least a couple more weeks and that there maybe a few kids with summer birthdays who will be receiving them as gifts from us!

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    MILESTONE!!!!

    As of today, I've officially passed the 50lbs lost mark!   I was hovering at half a pound away for the last week...but this morning, I stepped on the scale to be greeted with 156.5!!!  That's 51.5lbs lost since Jan 1, 2010!!!

    (I did reach 155 during the time of great sickness last month...but that doesn't really count)

    Woo Hoo!!!!!!  Even though I haven't exactly been religious with sticking to my june challenge - it does appear to be working for me anyway!  

    So, I'm super happy today!   Doing little dances of joy all over the place.  Probably a good thing I took the day off.  People at work might look at me funny if I did them around the office!

    Workout Wednesday: Finding the Motivation

    I wish I had something super inspiring to share this week.  The comments to last week's post on finding what works for you were super gratifying to me.  I'm glad so many of you found my story helpful.

    This week, motivation has been hard to come by.  Between interrupted nights (oy - babies, will you just sleep already) and work being particularly draggy - I've been hard pressed to get myself into workout mode.   As a result, I've been focussing more on being super conscious of my eating for my June Challenge.

    As I said last week, lattes have been my downfall in the challenge.  I just <3 them too much.  So I got smart about it.   For the June challenge - I just can't seem to kick them...so if I can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em.  I started to lighten up my breakfast before I leave the house and then, when I get to work, I have my latte..but I have them make it with ALMOND milk which has fewer calories than soy (and tastes super yummy, I might add).   Then I have a piece of carrot cake too :P  Luckilly Good Earth's carrot cake is only 200 calories.   This little switcheroo has me eating a few extra calories in the breakfast hours, but I am finding that getting my sweet tooth out of the way early on is helping me resist later in the day!

    I haven't worked out since Saturday.  There I admitted it.   I know I need to, but I just haven't been able to get my tired arse out to do anything.   Getting up at 1am is just not conducive to working out at 4am.  No matter how badly I want it.   Last night, I didn't have any interruptions, though, and I slept in today (yay for a day off!).  My head feels clearer and I am feeling a little return of my energy.   I WILL work out today!   I will be missing my TRX class because hubby is working super late, but I will make it up by taking one tomorrow.  Today I am going to either strap the twins into the stroller and go out for a few K or I will hop on the bike.  Heck - maybe I'll do both (the run is dependent on the thickness of the swarms of  Langdon mosquitos)

    One of the biggest things I've learned this past year, when it comes to motivation, is to not freak out when it goes away for a few days and you feel powerless to work through it.   Just to always be open to it returning and be ready to greet it with a helluva workout when it does.   By adapting little things that you do, a workout lull won't hurt you - stressing out over it will do more bad than good to your psyche.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Yay! Found a dress!

    Sleeveless - check!
    V-neck - nope - but flattering slight scoop instead
    higher waist with defined band - check! (ish)
    slightly flared skirt that will swing a little - check!
    hits right around the knee - check!
    Navy or Turquoise or something - Basic LBD all the way.
    Classic, but modern looking. - Check!

    Now for the big question - how much did it break the bank?

    Um...$18. Yes - you read right. It only cost me EIGHTEEN DOLLARS! I had just left a bridal place that had nothing for me and wandered into a consignment store. They had a ton of dresses (mostly higher end stuff) and suddenly I stumbled upon this little Gap beauty. I was hesitant to go black for a wedding but, let's face it, I'm down to the wire here. I figure I will jazz it up with accesories.

    And to blow me away...it's a size 6! Eeeeeee!

    Good thing the dress was so cheap though, because the shoes I fell in love with were Stuart Weitzman....

    Bloggy Fun

    There have been some fabulous blog posts coming across my feed reader this week.  I figured, what better day to share them with y'all than Techy Tuesday.

    No Big Size Here (My Running Bucket) - Aneta talks about her experiences living as a Canadian in South Korea and enduring the body discrimination against anything that isn't teeny. 

    Today's Reason to Work out (Fitmommas) - The Summer Soltice gives us no excuses :D

    How to Select Your Next (of First) Race (Healthy Tipping Point) - Great tips to choose a fabulous race that fits you perfectly!

    Summer Cardigans (Work Chic) - Just because I'm obsessed with cardigans right now (which may or may not have something to do with the giant bruise on my arm from my glorious treadmil dismount)

    Techy Tuesday: Kobo Touch Review

    I've had the Kobo Touch for just over a week now and have read a few books on it.  I figured that is a decent little trial period and it's time to do a little review.  I've also linked to some other reviews at the end so you can see what other's thought of it.

    Overall, I'm really happy with the device so far.  As I said last week, there were a few adjustments I had to make to MYSELF to get used to using it, but it is a really user friendly little device.  A good option for someone buying their first eReader.

    While I spent the first 4 days with a defective Kobo - the replacement has impressed me even more.   I think the issues that I experienced with the first device should in no way be a reflection on the device as a whole.   From what I've been reading - my replacement reader is far closer to the experience most are having with theirs.

    Screen

    The device uses an infrared touchscreen which means you should be able to operate it with bare hands, gloved fingers, a stylus or pen etc...I'm sure this is true, I'm still adjusting to touching the screen at all.  The touch sensitivity is pretty goo, though.  I usually just tap the screen with my thumb then I'm ready to turn the page, since that's what feels more natural (coming from a reader with physical buttons).  The finger swipe just doesn't feel that natural to me.  Maybe it is more natural for people coming from an iPod Touch or iPad.

    Fingerprints aren't an issue.   I am super picky about that and, while I'm reading, I don't even see them. I have taken to wiping the screen with a microfibre cloth before I go to bed so they won't build up.  Takes about a second and takes care of it.   For those of you who might be hesitating because of the touchscreen - remember I was the biggest opponent to a touch screen reader, but this has impressed me.

    Other areas of the menu are very responsive to the touch.  The keyboard is impressively snappy.  You can type fairly quickly on it and the "keys" are large enough that you can use the pads of your fingers without accidently choosing the wrong letter.

    The biggest gripe I am hearing around the blogosphere is that the screen only does a partial refresh and then only fully refreshes every 6 turns.  This will sometimes leave "ghosting" of the text on the screen.  On my first device - this was EXTREMELY noticable.  On the replacement - I don't see it at all.   The partial refresh does alow for faster page turns and I think it gives a bit truer feel of reading a traditional book.

    Menus

    All in all, it's a pretty basic menu structure.  The home screen shows the covers of the five books you accessed most recently.   From that home screen, you can navigate to your library , the online Kobo store, Reading Life, settings, sync, etc.  It's easy.  A monkey could probably do it with ease. 

    There aren't many options for sorting your library.  You are pretty much restricted to Author and Title.  There is an option to create a shortlist of books, but now way to create subsections within the library.  Not a big issue for me right now, since I have only been reading the books that loaded from my Kobo library.   Once I start adding additional books I can see this becoming more of an issue.  On my Sony, I tended to keep several subsections to hold specific books that I would keep on there at all times.  This is something I have seen a fair bit of dissent about and I could see them correcting it in a future firmware update.

    File Types

    EPUB and PDF have been widely touted for this reader...here's the comprehensive list, though
    Books: EPUB, PDF and MOBI
    Documents: PDF
    Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF
    Text: TXT, HTML and RTF
    Comic Books: CBZ and CBR

    I like that it reads pretty much any format.  The mobi was a nice surprise, though, because I have heard through the grapevine that this means it will read Kindle files (not all of them...but if a book doesn't offer a preview, you should be able to change the file extension to .mobi and read it on a Kobo.  Don't quote me - I haven't tried it yet)

    Ultimately, for me, the Kobo is a good choice for someone looking to replace a Sony because all of the same file types are readable.

    Store

    It is ridiculously easy to buy books from the Kobo Store.  Luckily for me (and my Visa), I need to be on a local wireless to do it.  Here's hoping I never learn how to tether my blackberry.

    When buying a book, the device accesses your account, just like it would anywhere else. your store credits still apply.  youc an still use a gift card. 

    Charging

    The Kobo Touch only comes with a USB to micro USB cable for both loading books and charging the device.   I hate charging anything on my laptop, though, so I did a little bit of digging and found a forum post where a Kobo employee said their unofficial stand on wall chargers is that the blackberry charger works and is used around their office with great success...but you didn't hear it from them.  I got a chuckle. I have charged mine with my Blackberry charger and it works great - takes about 3 hours to fully charge.


    I can't speak to battery life quite yet since I haven't had it long enough yet to see it drain.   My replacement Kobo was about 3/4 full of juice when I took itout of the box and it is around half now.  That is representative of 4 days of reading.  I try to keep the wifi shut off (well, in airplane mode) except when I'm syncing it or buying a new book.

    Last Thoughts

    For now the verdict is a big Thumbs up.  I'm pretty happy with the Kobo Touch.  If for nothing else, it is great to have a fun new toy.   The price point (under $150) makes it much more affordable than my Sony was 3 years ago (at over $300).  Also - Kobo is a Canadian company who is striving to be the leader in ereading.   I'm always willing to buy Canadian (yes, I know it's not made here, but it was conceived here) and I think it's a smart choice for longevity because the Touch will read multiple file types - meaning your library can be moved to another device down the road ifyou need it to.


    Other Reviews:

    Goodereader.com: http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/review-of-the-kobo-touch-e-reader/
    CNET: http://reviews.cnet.com/e-book-readers/kobo-touch-black/4505-3508_7-34746372.html

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    MOMday: Dressing the Post-Baby Body

    Ahhh - remember the early days?  Those days right after baby was born and you could just slouch around in your maternity clothes for a while longer.  Those lovely stretchy waist "buffet" pants and empire waisted tops.  I had a really loevly maternity dress that I loved to wear in those days.   Flattering, comfy, long enough to feel secure in it, low cut enough to show off the boobs I'd just grown.  LOL.  Ya - those were the days.

    All too soon, though, I started to feel like a schlump.  If I didn't get rid of those maternity clothes, and fast, I was destined to still be wearing them and would probably let myself go even further.  So I sold them all.  Got them out of the house and forced mysefl to buy a few new things to fit my post-baby body.  Do I remember what I bought?  No, not really.  Chances are it was things that were destined to be covered in baby puke (x2) anyway.

    Months after that - I made my goal to shed the baby weight.  I stayed in my schlumpy clothes until I couldn't wear them anymore and then I bought new, smaller, schlumpy clothes.   Then, I bought new, smaller, nice clothes before I went back to work.   The onw thing I didn't buy myself was a nice dress.  Not even when I was heading too Mexico for my brother in law's wedding (Hello - $5 at Reitmans...and it's not like there are any photos of me there to prove I even went).

    Now - I am 10lbs away from my goal weight and I want to buy a really nice dress and shoes for a close friends wedding...a wedding that is in just over a week and a half.   But even at this new smaller size - I am still dressing my post baby body.  I wear the same dress size as I did at the age of 22...but the body that's in that size 8 is SIGNIFICANTLY different than the 22 year olds that once wore it.

    Age 22 - well before baby
    • Long, sleek and slim legs
    • Flat stomach
    • No cellulite
    • Feet that were used to wearing heels
    • Size 10 feet

    Age 34 - Post Baby Reality
    • Long legs, but the muscles are different now.  Where once was slim, now sits athletic
    • Soft belly with stretched, loose skin (bet that makes y'all yearn for twins don't it!?!)
    • Um - let's not talk about cellulite.  At least it's better than a year ago.
    • Foot injury years ago keeps me out of the heels I once wore
    • Size 11 feet

    So, off I go dress shopping.   I can picture all of these gauzy, light, ruffly things looking super cute on me...but it is the 22 year old size 8 me that I see them on.  Bad momma. Those things don't look super cute on 34 year old size 8 me. Especially since they seem to all hit me just south of my bum...and by just south I mean JUST.  I take hanger after hanger into the change room - and all I end up leaving the stores with is a static charged bob that makes me look half crazed as I head back to the office.   I can't find a single thing with structure that will raise me up, hold me in, work some magic and make me able to dance all night in it without fear of needing to bring an emergency sewing kit with me.

    I can picture that perfect dress:
    • Sleeveless
    • V-neck
    • higher waist with defined band
    • slightly flared skirt that will swing a little
    • hits right around the knee
    • Navy or Turquoise or something
    • Classic, but modern looking.

    Sound super cute, right? Well - it does to me, anyway.  Ah well - the search continues.  I just hope I don't end up ironing the wrinkles out of my $5 Reitmans sundress...

    Now, for the shoes...for my post-baby, size 11 feet - do clown shoes come in "dressy"?

    A Very Racy Morning

    Ha ha - bet that got your attention!  All kidding aside, I had a very productive morning...registering for more races!

    First, and most importantly, the one y'all have been waiting for me to announce.   I registered for my first full marathon!  On October 9, 2011, I will be lining up with a whole bunch of other crazy runners in Kelowna to run the BMO Okanagan Marathon!

    In support for this goal, I also registered for two more half marathons

    Intact Canadian Derby Edmonton Half Marathon (Aug 21/11)

    Dinosaur Valley Half Marathon (Sept 11/11)


    These will bring my total half marathon count to 7!!! Wowza!!! If you'd told me last year that by the end of 2011, I would have run at least 7 half marathons and one full - I'd have called you crazy to your face!  But here I am!   All registered for them all and ready to get serious about my training!

    Wish me luck...and to all of those who register for Kelowna from this point onward...if it rains, you were forewarned! :P

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    A brand new Kobo

    Well - it has been an eventful week as I play with my new Kobo.  For the first couple of days that I had it - it was great.  I thought the touchscreen was a bit sluggish but didn't really think anything of it.  I was having great fun reading and racking up page turns and hours read in Reading Life.

    Then Wednesday hit.

    As I finishing reading at lunch, I noticed that the lower half of the screen had lines etched across it - dividing the screen in half.   It wasn't the ghosting of pages gone by, but dark, horizontal lines that got worse as the page turns wore on.   I was so upset.   I put out a call on Mobile Read to see if anyone else was experiencing it.  Nope.  No one.  



    I posted the above photos to describe the problem and someone weighed in that it looked like it might be a screen connection issue.  Regardless, I knew I had to take that unit back and exchange it.

    Chapters was wonderful about it.  They said they hadn't seen anything like that happen yet and they quickly swapped it out for another unit.  Kobo was great too - when I posted the problem on Twitter - they responded within a couple of minutes, eager to help.   In the end, though, last night, I brought home a brand new Kobo Touch.  Same as the old one.  However, on this one, I noticed that the touchscreen is much snappier (on the first one it would sometimes take 4-5 tries to turn a page) and the print is much brighter.  With any luck - the issue I had with the first one will be something that is few and far between on these devices.  

    Issue notwithstanding, I am pretty happy with the little reader.  Now I'm just waiting to see when MEdge will come out with covers for them.  I wasn't a bit fan of what I saw in Chapters for Kobo covers and I would really like to get one that is made for my reader!

    Friday Reads: The High Road by Terry Fallis

    The High Road picks up right where The Best Laid Plans left us.   Good thing, too, since I was hardly ready to leave these characters quite yet.   This book find our beloved Angus back on the campaign trail...but this time he actually WANTS it!   While I found the first book quite amusing.  The sequel is laugh out loud hilarious!   Not one I could easily read in public unless I wanted people looking at me funny.

    Warning - the next couple of paragraphs contain details of the book that some readers might wish to discover for themselves.  I've tried to be general while providing some of the colour of the story.

    The book is split into two parts.  The first chronicles Angus's campaign, where he is up against not one, but TWO Tories.  Emerson "Flamethrower" Fox is a master at negative campaigning.  If an opponent has even the slightest speck of dirt on them - he exploits it to help his own campaign.  He just didn't expect Angus to be so proud of his record of 23 arrests!   The other Tory candidate, is Alden Stonehouse - local religious leader with an enthusiastic following.   No matter because neither of these guys stood a chance against Honest Angus.   Throughout a campaign rife with hilarious hijinx - this is one election the residents of Cumberland-Prescott are not soon to forget.

    Come a nail-biting election night, Angus wins!  It's close, but he ultimately takes the prize.  Then it is on to Parliament Hill, where a special assignment has come to our favourite Scot!   A major Ottawa bridge suddenly collapsed into the river in the wee hours of the day after Election Night.   With Angus's engineering background, the newly elected Prime Minister wants him to discover why and report on it.  Angus agrees, but only if it is on his terms and provides full disclosure of his findings to the public.   The PM agrees and Angus throws himself into the investigation.    The deeper he digs, the more disturbing his findings become.  But it's too late now - the PM agreed and there's no turning back now!  Add in an adventurous visit from the US President and his alcoholic wife and you're going to be laughing your butt off for a good chunk of the book!

    Like The Best Laid Plans - this book keeps you turning pages. The characters are painted in rich full colour.  In some ways, the story does wrap up a bit too neatly - Angus seems to have a golden horseshoe up his arse - but since we love him so much, it's not heartbreaking to see him win.

    I highly recommend this!  It is among the best books I have read in a while!   So, go buy it (or check it out of the library) already!!!  Just make sure you read it!

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Mid-Month Check in: June Challenge

    Wow!  June is already halfway done...how did that happen?  I guess that means it's time for me to *grudgingly* check in with how my challenge is going.

    Don't drink calories wherever possible - want a latte?  Drink tea.


    Ya - this so isn't happening.   I WANT it to, but lattes are just so yummy in the morning when a baby has kept me up all night and my eyelids are heavier than lead.  Oh - and finding out that the cafe in my office building will only charge me for a small when I bring in my own mug...it's not a good scene right now on this part of the challenge.  The incredible point to this is that it is a miracle that I have stuck to just one each day!

    I suck.


    No candy - no matter how yum it is, you have that gut for a reason and it is spelled c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e.

    This one is going surprisingly well.  I have only bought candy ONCE!  It was the day after my half and I only caved because hubby wanted some and I figured I deserved some too.  Bad mindset - good self control the rest of the time, though.

    Whole foods wherever possible.  Enjoy healthy foods prepared simply.


    I'm trying.  Unfortunately, the move to my new office building has meant a group of us have been exploring the restaurants in the new neighbourhood so I haven't been bringing my lunch very much.  I am trying to prepare relatively healthy dinners, though.  I did bring a lunch today...maybe this will be the start of something smart...


    Stick to the calorie allowance in Lose It/My Fitness Pal.  Don't cheat and eat up your exercise

    Doing ok with this one.   Not as good as I could be, considering I've taken a few days off to recover from my half (actually - the recovery is more for my treadmill dismount since it hurts more).  I do seem to be eating up my exercise though.   I need to get better at that.  I also think maybe I need to pull out the measuring spoons and get a new battery for my kitchen scale.   My weight seems to be stagnating.

    Join a TRX class in Langdon one day a week

    Done!  Two classes down, three to go! Next one is tonight!  I'm loving it so far.   I think the TRX is defniitely something to add to our home gym.  I'm not sold on continuing to pay to go to a formal class - especially since the TRX bootcamp is just offered once a week and I need more flexibility than to hold myself to just a wednesday class.

    Make cross training count...Bike plus core or plyo on Mon/Fri


    Last week I did really well.   This week, I have been recovering, but I anticipate that for the rest of the week and then to the rest of the month, I will be on track.

    Running 3 times a week (two shorter weekday runs plus my long run on Saturday)

    Kinda.   Last week, I did a 5K on Tuesday, then all of the running at the clinic on Friday and the half on Saturday.  I skipped a run on Tuesday this week (recovering), but am going to try my darndest to get one in tomorrow and Saturday. 



    So here's my updated calendar:


    Looking at it this way makes me think I am doing ok.  11/15 days, I stayed with what was on the calendar.  

    My weight loss of a 1.5lbs last week seems to be back 3 days in to this week...and it brought a couple of friends. Might be hormonal so maybe I'll see a change this weekend.  I really need to put our bathroom scale in a box that only unlocks for 2 minutes on the same day each week..then I won't be able to hop on it every morning. I remain optimistic, though.  I doubt I'll see the full 10lbs drop off this month, but if I can buckle down for the last half of the month - I should hopefully see about 5 come off.  If only that buckle down bit wasn't the hard part!

    So that's how it's been going!  Did you challenge yourself this month too?  How are you doing so far?

    Workout Wednesday: "It Works for Me!"

    So often when we decide to start losing weight/getting in shape, we start the hunt for the latest and greatest "thing" that will help us do it.  We google diets that have worked for other people. We buy book after book after book. We figure that if it worked for that friend/that celebrity/that coworker...then of course it is going to work for us too.

    And, of course, we are disappointed when it doesn't.

    Now that I am so close to my goal weight, I have a lot of people wanting to know how I did it in the hope that maybe I latched onto some magical secret that might help them too.   The reality is that what I did may not work for anyone else.  But it is what worked for me.  And it certainly wasn't magic.  All it took was discovering the secrets that released me from how I had been thinking in the past.   It also meant I had to be open to doing what it took once I knew what would work for me.  Much of weight loss is simple math and can be figured out on a basic phrase: Eat less. Move more.  For me - I had years of faulty programming to debug (pardon the tech terms - 'tis the world I live in)

    First, I needed a mantra.  
    I didn't even realize I needed it, but once I stubled on it - it made all the difference to cleaning up my programming.   For me, it ended up being the title of a book: Secrets of a Former Fat Girl.   I had gotten a bookstore Gift Card for Christmas and I decided to spend it in support of my new years resolution.  2010 was going to be the year I lost weight.  On Boxing Day, I headed into the diet book section and this one almost leapt into my hand (surprising, too, since it has a great deal of pink on it).   I liked the idea of being a "Former Fat Girl".  Even now - 50lbs later, I find I get through the harder times or the times when I need to reset and get back on track...I have found what works for me.

    Next - I needed a workout I could be consistent with.

    I have a nice little home gym and over the last 10 years, I've used it in bursts and stops (The stops have usually been longer than the bursts).   If I was going to reach my goal of being a "Former Fat Girl", I was going to need a physical activity that I could do consistently and I had to enjoy it enough to stick to it.   We had a stationary bike and the workout room has a TV and DVD player so my thinking eventually led me to this decision: I would buy an entire TV series on DVD to watch while I biked.  The unbreakable deal I made with myself, though, was that I wasn't allowed to watch it UNLESS I was riding that bike!  Making that deal unbreakable is what eventually got me exercising consistently.  AND ENJOYING IT!   Each episode of Felicity (the series I started with) was 45 minutes long...and I wanted to watch an episode every day once I got into the storyline again.  

    Eventually, of course, I stumbled into a love of running...but my TV and Biking thing holds strong.  I still really enjoy it.  Most importantly, it has made me want to exercise consistently for over a year and half!   No more bursts and stops - I have found what works for me. 

    (a side note - if I had to rely on running alone for weight loss - I'd never lose a pound.   Most of my loss has come from eating less and biking. Most of my runs just aren't long enough to burn much fat.)

    Then, there was the diet thing.
    I needed to eat less. And drink less. And snack less. I had spent all of the days since the birth of my twins eating so much and forgiving myself by saying "My body needs it so I can feed my babies!".  Even as the scale crept up and my pant size along with it - I was still telling myself this.  When I stepped on the scale and saw that number that started with a two - enough was enough.  I needed a diet and it wasn't going to be a diet I could find in any book.  Well - except one.  A food journal.   I bought myself a shiny new food journal the same day I bought that Former Fat Girl book.  My decision was that I was going to give myself a calorie allowance and try to roughly stick to it.   As long as i was breatsfeeding, I needed to still eat more than a normal dieter...but nowhere what I had been snarfing in a day.  I decided that 2000 calories a day seemed generous enough for what my daughters would need but low enough that I should see results.  And I certainly started to see those results quickly.  between Jan 1 and Feb 15 - I lost 15lbs.  By the time the start of April hit, I was down 20!.  All of it was due to my concentrating on just staying "around" 2000 calories a day.  I wrote everything down and when I was around 2000 calories - I stopped.  Every day. 

    It was around this time that I had to rethink that calorie allowance.  My losses had slowed considerably when my milk dried up.   My body just wasn't using the calories to make milk anymore...and without that need - I certainly didn't need the calories.  I dropped my allowance down to around 1500 a day.   Sure, my stomach snarled at me for a few days, but eventually it got used to it and the pounds started to melt away again.   By the end of April, I was down 30lbs!   After that, I was training for my first half and the losses slowed dramatically.  It took me until October to lose another 10.   Frustrating. 

    Then, after I ran that first half...I gave myself a bit too much freedom during recovery.  Ignoring what my TNT coach had said about how a runner can gain a lot of weight in their abdomen if they aren't careful after an endurance event - I was soon up 10lbs and it was all in my stomach!   Ugh!

    Enter 2011.  I had 28lbs to go.   It was gonna come off this year, come hell or high water!  

    I bought a new journal and started to write everything down..but it was dragging me down.  My written journal had served me well in the early days, but it now felt like math and I'm more of a calculator girl.  One of the bloggers I had just started to follow had a post about how he used the iPhone app "Lose It" with great success. (They also have a free tracker online for all users). The way he talked about it made it seem so easy!  I checked to see if it worked on the iPod Touch and within minutes, I was up and running with this free app!   I started to see results within days - the weight started to come off again, as long as I stuck to what it told me I had as a calorie allowance.  Same concept as my written journal - but this gave me the ability to see how my workouts affected what I could eat each day.   As I started logging my new lower weights, the app could adjust my calorie allowance so I could still see progress.   It also gave a date to look at so I could see how if I kept losing at the same rate - I could be at my goal by a certain date!  It was so cool!

    By the start of April this year, I was down to only needing to lose the last 10lbs!  And then I went to Mexico.  All inclusive buffets.  Desserts tempting me at every turn.  A bag of guacamole the size of my head from Walmart!  I'm amazed that in 2 weeks I only gained 3 lbs!  Guess that's where being vegetarian helped - it's hard to overeat (much) when there is hardly any food you CAN eat!  I tried to keep tracking while I was away, but found that the absense of preparing my own food meant I couldn't really identify how much of anything I was snarfing.  So I only loosely tracked.  Unfortunately - it made it harder for me to get back to regularly tracking when we got home again.

    I stayed loose at the tracking for the next month or so.   Not enough to derail me - I always had my eye on the prize, but I was seriously plateaued!   If I didn't do something - and soon - I was going to start gaining again.   Once I had my new Blackberry, Lose It was no longer a mobile option.  So - I checked out My Fitness Pal (which DOES have a BB app - and an online tracker, as well) and found it was really similar, though has far more pre-entered foods (and many Canadian-specific restaurant foods).  So - now I have reset myself again and am using this app now.   Last week was the first week and I am already down 1.5lbs!   For now, I have found what works for me!

    Do you see the theme throughout my LONG tale?  I was always on the hunt for what worked for me.   I may have read and researched what worked for others, but I had to always be honest with myself and adapt each thing to fit who I was.   It was this little adjustment that made my weight loss uniquely my own.  No one was telling me what to eat and when.  How hard I needed to work out or how often.  I was always in control and my tracking made it so I could always clearly see when I was slacking off in any department.

    In the end - long term success will only come from doing what works for you.   It may take a while to get honest with yourself and hunt down what it is, but when you do the successes will follow!  Don't forget to celebrate them in a way that works for you too!


    Have you found what works for you, yet?  Share it in the comments!  I'd love to hear about it!

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Booksurfers - Publishing Innovation at Work

    Today my RSS feed had something super creative and interesting on it - not that it doesn't usually - but today it is something I can't get out of my head!  The concept is so unique and wonderful that I just HAVE to share it!

    http://www.booksurfers.co.uk/

    This is a new ebook series geared toward getting more kids to read the classics.  The premise is that this evil guy has kidnapped the parents of these kids and he won't return them unless the kids jump into the classic books and steal certain artifacts for him!  The two books that are available thus far are Treasure Island and The Wizard of Oz.   Plans to release Robin Hood and A Christmas Carol are in the works as well.  

    I am intrigued by the concept of these books because they blend the classics with a hint of magic to breathe new life into them.   Not every classic would be able to be adapted to this type of storytelling (think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and trying to hide 4 kids in a submarine), but the vast majority have enough places to hide extra characters or to allow for direct interaction.  I loved the Inkheart Trilogy and can see many parallels to this storyline, except with beloved characters from books gone by.

    Another wonderful feature of the books is that being in epub format, the reader is also able to easilly switch over to read the classic in its original form as well. The text is hyoerlinked throughout so the reader is able to transport themselves into the original story at whatever point the characters are visiting it - sans these new characters.  

    The books are only available in ebook format which may pose an issue for many kids who want to read them because I am sure the number of kids within the ages of 9-12 (where these are geared) do not happen to have ereaders quite yet (though I suppose ipads and ipod touch with the Kindle App would work too - Grrr to Amazon for not allowing the Blackberry Kindle App to work in Canada yet). 

    The books are also, unfortunately, only available through Kindle. It is my hope that they will quickly be released to EPUB and opened up to far more ereading devices as I am now DYING to get my hands on them!

    Techy Tuesday: Kobo Touch eReader

    On Sunday, Hubby went off TV shopping to replace our plasma that died suddenly over the weekend.  Little did I ever expect he'd bring me home a little surprise of my own - a brand spanking new Kobo Touch in lilac!   I hadn't even had a chance to play with one in store yet since they had shown up a week earlier than I expected!

    I was rendered speechless!  Really! Me = Speechless!

    I was immediately met with a conundrum.  If I didn't like the colour - I had to return it before I opened it or it couldn't be returned.  So, instead of tearing open the box - I had to sit and think and ponder and mull over whether I wanted to hold out and get a different colour.  In the end - I decided that I liked the lilac just fine and opened it right up!    Of course - I thought of all of you and took my camera along on the unboxing (one day, I may give a video unboxing a try...but not today).  Pardon my messy house int he background :P

    The box:



    The reader was right at the top.  At first glance, it seemed so small compared to my sony (though you can see in a later photo that it was not much smaller at all)




    Under the reader was the manual


    Then some Kobo Read On stickers


    and finally the USB cable and the warranty info



    I tried it out in my mEdge case and the reader is a bit small for it, but it still holds it securely so I likely won't need to buy a new case for a while. (good thing, too, since mEdge doesn't make them yet)



    I turned it on and was greeted by a setup screen so we had to wander down to my office to set up the new desktop software and update the reader with all of my Kobo books. Once I had logged in on the device, I received an email gift certificate for $10 towards books in the Kobo store.  Nice touch!






    Then it was time to take 'er for a spin :) My early thoughts on it...


    It did come pre-loaded with several previews of different books, but I deleted them all off the device.  

    The first thing I noticed was how much brighter the screen is than my Sony.  Guess that's what you get for 3 years of advancements in eInk technology.


     
    The Eink technology in the Kobo Touch is quite different from what I was used to on my old Sony.  On the Sony, when you turned a page - the entire screen would go black for a moment and then the next page would appear.   With the Pearl Eink, this complete refresh doesn't happen.  The page turns are very snappy.  Occassionally, there is some ghosting of the previous page but it typically fades quickly. This quick turn is something to adjust to since I am used to timing my page turns to my reading speed and I find I try to turn the page too early on the Kobo and have to flip back to finish the last sentence, while on the sony - I would have had enough time to finish the page before it refreshed.    

    The touchscreen is not as sensitive as I expected it to be.  Sometimes if I swipe my finger across the screen, it doesn't pick it up and a second swipe becomes necessary.  Also, sometimes the swipe motion doesn't turn the page but, instead, activates a little menu along the bottom.   I think it just means I'm swiping too close to the bottom of the screen.   Ultimately, though, as natural as that swipe motion should feel, it doesn't.  I find I tap to turn the pages far more often.  

    I can see myself buying some sort of skin for the front bezel of the Kobo.   Having decided to keep the white reader, I find myself wondering if it will eventually yellow.  Perhaps someone with an older white Kobo can weigh in on whether they have noticed any yellowing so I can gauge if this is something I will need to be concerned about very quickly.

    Along this same note - I find myself being really happy I decided to keep the white one.  It is a lot more feminine looking than I think the black would be.  When it's in my cover, I don't notice the lilac backing, but it is nice to know something so girly is there.


    I read in another review someone weighing in on the actual colour of the lilac as opposed to how it is represented in the marketing images.  It is definitely a more matte lilac.  The images used on the websites show it as being more pearlized.  Just something to keep in mind when ordering online without seeing it in person. 

    There is no real way to shut off the wifi...I just keep mine in airplane mode and hope that does it.

    I was disappointed that it only came with a USB cable for charging, though I shouldn't be surprised - my Sony was the same way.  I've just been using a PSP wall charger with the sony for so long that I have never charged it on a computer.  A little research showed me that my blackberry charger should work just fine to keep it full of juice.

    When it is in sleep mode - the screen is not blank.  This surprised me because it would seem that the image on the screen might draw power away from the battery life.  Then I remembered that the Eink doesn't use power except in page turns so that put my mind to rest.  Regardless - I quickly turned off the image of the book cover that was appearing.

    I like that I can change fonts and have more than 3 different sizes to choose from.  Sometimes my tired, old eyes need a bigger font.

    I really like the dictionary, though I've read it only works when you buy your books from Kobo.  It's nice to be able to quickly look up a word I may not immediately know.

    It does have a built in web browser...but the internet isn't as interesting in Black and White.  I tried to get to my blog, but it won't display at all.  I doubt I'll ever use it.  That being said, though, the touch keyboard is nice.


    and, lastly, my biggest concern...FINGERPRINTS.   Not such a big deal after all.  Because the screen is matte and not as reflective as most touch screen devices, any fingerprints aren't really noticable.   A quick wipe of a microfibre cloth takes them right off.  I still find myself being reluctant to use the reader while I eat, though...

    Things I haven't done yet (but will soon):
    • Bought a book using the device
    • Loaded my own non-Kobo books onto it
    • Tested out how it handles PDFs
    So, there you have it...the Kobo Touch ereader.  I saw today that Indigo is sold out online, but several of the stores here still have many of them in stock.  Just make sure you have thought about the colour thoroughly before you open the box because Indigo won't let you return it if you change your mind on the colour...

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Official Pics from Footstock Half Marathon

    I must say - I'm always much more impressed with the photos I get when Marathon-Photos.com is taking the race pics...They got some neat ones on Saturday!  I really think the finish line ones with the reflections on the pavement are really cool...and note my foamy knees in the last one :D