Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review: Habitwise

We all know that a healthy diet and exercise program are essential to our mental and physical well-being. You know that exhilaration you feel after an intense workout? It's like you put that treadmill in its place and you're on top of the world. Or how about the feeling of pride when you can finally button up those "skinny" jeans? There's nothing more exuberant than that sense of accomplishment from setting and meeting - or even surpassing - your goals. When you get fit and eat better, you just feel better, all-around. It even tends to rub off and inspire those around us.

But unfortunately for most of us, the challenge is consistency. We may be able to stay motivated for awhile but eventually, we fall back into old habits. Our shrinking waistlines start to shrink less and less and those Ho-Ho's creep their way back into our pantries. We know better but for some reason, we can't keep up the momentum.

Now there's a way to regain your willpower. It's called Habitwise. (How clever!)
Habitwise began with a simple weight loss tool originally named, A-Wrist-A-Trac, which was discovered by a team of clinicians at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha, Nebraska. A small group of professional women saw A-Wrist-A-Trac's potential and were inspired by the low-tech innovation that could be used to remedy challenges in their own lives- especially the challenge between knowing and doing when it comes to living a healthier life. The women found that simple bracelets served as friendly reminders and empowered them to accomplish many goals, thus paving the journey for Habitwise.
Habitwise offers products for men, women and children that encourage healthy habits in areas such as weight management, water intake, fitness and more. Each product is approved by a Scientific Advisory Board and endures "reality checks" to make sure it can withstand even the most rigorous of lifestyles.

If you're a reader of this blog, you'll know I am a participating in the Body After Baby challenge in an effort to feel more comfortable with my post-baby shape and lose some of the last few pesky pounds I'd gained as a result of fertility treatment and subsequent pregnancy. I have a difficult time getting motivated to work out and am notorious for making excuses as to why I'm too busy or too tired to start an exercise routine. I can use all the help I can get. So, when I saw an opportunity on Blog Friendly PR to review a product from Habitwise, I jumped at the chance.

I was sent the getLoss for women in the Cool color palette. The getLoss is a collection of 30 beaded bracelets and a guide to help you formulate a plan. Each bracelet is color-coded to track food groups, calories, points or other measurements throughout the day. You begin each morning by placing all of the bracelets on one wrist. As you eat, you shift the various colors and quantities of bracelets to the other wrist. At the end of the day, any bracelets that remain represent the nutrients you lacked or your unused calories. For example, under the food group plan, if three blue bracelets are left over, it would mean you only took in five of the eight recommended glasses of water that day. Under the calorie plan, if you were to move all of your bracelets to the other wrist, you would have met your calorie allowance for that day. Since I'm still breastfeeding and need to take in more calories to maintain my supply, I chose to abide by the food group plan.

I admit it took me awhile to get used to moving the bracelets from wrist to wrist. I would eat, wash dishes and get distracted before I could switch them over. Or I would drink a glass of milk or water and forget to move my bracelet. On several occasions, I found myself trying to think back about what I had consumed and not accounted for. But after a few days, I had gotten myself into the routine and it was like second nature. I documented my first day with Habitwise to demonstrate how it works.

I started out in the morning with all of the bracelets on one wrist. It is a lot of bracelets but they are extremely lightweight and weren't bothersome. Of course, if you are on the petite side and have lower caloric requirements, you can leave out some of the bracelets to eliminate bulk.

Throughout the day, I consulted the handy dandy guidebook to view the FDA recommendations and remind myself which color bracelet stood for which food group.

By the end of the day, I was left with this:

I could see that I didn't drink nearly enough water and was also missing some fruit and vegetable servings. I ate more than my share of grains (aka carbs or THE DEVIL!) and ran out of those copper-colored bracelets pretty early in the day. Same with my glasses of milk. I found myself reaching for a cream-colored bracelet in the evening and I had already run out. Oops! It really made me think about my eating habits and in which areas I needed improvement. The next day, I cut back on my milk in favor of more water. I may have still missed some food groups (hey, believe it or not, I'm not perfect!) but I did have less overall bracelets on my wrist. I found myself striving to move as many bracelets as I could. I was really motivated!

I love the entire concept of Habitwise. The bracelets are simple, practical and pretty. I'm not ashamed to wear them while I run my errands or meet up with playdate pals. Plus, the variety of colors match just about anything. They can't be any easier to use. There is a visible reminder right there on my wrist to make better choices. I can picture teenagers as well as grandmothers wearing getLoss.

I also love that you can really tailor the system for just about any habit you need to improve. Need to work out more often? How about one bracelet for every 15 minutes of exercise you do. Need to curb your spending? Try one bracelet for every $10 you spend. Moms of newborns, you could even use these bracelets to track poo/pee diapers, bottle feeds or nursing sessions. The possibilities are almost endless. Heck, you could even wear them just to accessorize!

The only major disadvantage I found with the getLoss bracelets were that they were not exactly kid-friendly. My toddler was instantly attracted to the beads and would pull at them or try to teethe on them constantly. Gentle is not in his vocabularly. I was afraid he would break them so it was a battle to wear them everyday, all day long. The elastic was very stretchy so they did hold up even after being yanked a gazillion times. But all I could picture were beads flying all over the place and my son picking them up and putting them in his mouth. The beads could definitely pose a choking hazard if broken. For this reason, I think the kids' getTracking system with the jelly bracelets would be safer for moms with small children. However, I would like to see a more stylish, teething-friendly alternative for moms.

Bottom line: I would recommend utilizing any of the Habitwise products to keep you on the right track when it comes to your health. Whether you are just getting started or you are a fitness guru, Habitwise offers a much-needed reminder to take care of yourself - and repel that dreadful Mommy Brain.

BUY IT: Habitwise products can be purchased exclusively in their online store (ARV $24-$28).

More products are in the works, such as getComfort, a tool designed to help you develop the habits necessary to find comfort while grieving. As a miscarriage survivor, I am excited about a product devoted to mental and emotional health, which are equally important as physical health.

Disclaimer: As mentioned above, I received the getLoss bracelet collection from Sara at Habitwise to facilitate my candid review. I was not compensated in any other way for my post. The opinions expressed in this review are purely mine. You may have a different experience with this product.


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