Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Lucy Mae Designs: Batman Huggie *REVIEW*

With Christmas approaching pretty fast, I thought it would be nice to share some children's gift ideas with you over the next few months, and I have a corker of a gift to share with you today...

A couple of weeks ago we received some very happy post in the form of a beautiful handmade Batman 'huggie' for little Bert, which had been made by the very talented Leanne over at Lucy Mae Designs on Facebook. This beautiful handmade huggable little beauty has been personalised with 'Bert' on the back, and is CE certified, meaning it is safe for babies from birth.

Bert's Batman Huggie

It's even personalised on the back! Perfect! 


Leanne creates a whole abundance of beautiful huggie characters from Batman, to mermaids, pirates to foxes, ice princesses to Ed Sheeran huggies and beyond...You name it, there's probably a huggie version to be had! They are so beautifully crafted, and would make an absolutely perfect gift for any little person you might happen to know (or big person, come to that!)

a selection of some of Lucy Mae Designs fabulous 'huggies' 

I love the fact that all of the huggie designs can be personalised, for that extra special touch.  The fabric choices available are just stunning, and I truly love their simplicity - somehow, their lack of body features make them even cuter, and draws your attention to their beautiful faces.

This was a few minutes after we'd unwrapped him! 

Bert snuggling his huggie - don't you just love chubby baby hands?

Bert loved his little Batman huggie from the moment he unwrapped him, he is the perfect size for Bert's chubby little hands to hold, and often accompanies Bert on his many adventures around our home (think lots of climbing, making dens with tables, sitting in boxes - you know, the usual boy stuff!). The huggie is robust enough to be energetically played with, but soft enough to still be snuggly and huggable (hence the name!) - the perfect combo! 
Bert with his perfectly huggable friend! 

Huggies are priced from £14-£20, but contact Lucy Mae Designs directly for an up-to-date price list, and availability (they are snapped up pretty quickly!) Our Batman was priced at £15, and is genuinely worth every penny. 

In fact, I'm already wondering who I can buy one for this Christmas! 

Lucy Mae designs is holding a market night this Friday 3rd October from 8.30pm, so get yourself over to their Facebook page to see what lovelies they have available to purchase on the night. 

You can also make contact about an order via email at lucymaedesigns@hotmail.co.uk

Which one is your favourite? I'd love to know. 

Mrs B

xxx
Our 'huggie' Batman fits right in at our house!

Disclaimer: We were sent a Batman huggie for the purpose of this review, but, as always, all opinions and words are my own. 


Family Fever

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was nominated to take part in this fun little blogger exchange by the lovely Donna over at Redhead Babyled. Thanks honey - it's fun to sit down and answer some random questions about myself, and hopefully you guys will all enjoy reading some of my answers. 

If you'd like to read Donna's entry you can have a peek here

So, here goes…

Holidays: UK or Abroad?

Both. I absolutely love going away in the UK, I'm quite patriotic, and love so many places in my home country. My favourite places to holiday in the UK are Cornwall, the south coast, Wales, Scotland and Yorkshire. I also love city breaks to beautiful cities such as Bristol, Cambridge and Windsor. I love the countryside, but equally love the seaside, and we are spoilt rotten in the UK for lots of both of these types of places. 

Now that we have little Bert, we are planning to stay exclusively within the UK for our holidays for a few years. This doesn't worry me at all, especially as we were lucky enough to go abroad this year for free to Cyprus. Lucky things! 

My favourite place to visit abroad is Corfu in Greece (I've been about 4 times) - but I also love city breaks to places like Paris and Rome. I've always wanted to go to New York, and I'd also love to visit the Caribbean some time, we also dream of taking Bert to Disney World at some point. (Hoping for a lottery win!)

Tea or Coffee?

Tea. Tea. Tea. I drink so much tea!!! It's a family obsession really - my Nan and Mum have always drunk bucket loads of the stuff, and now I'm carrying on the family tradition. I do like coffee, and like to drink it after a meal if we're eating out, but I tend to stick to tea at home. Strong with two sweeteners please. :-)

What’s your all time favourite TV show?

Very easy question to answer. If I have to pick one above all others it would always be FRIENDS. I watched it all the way through my youth, I've seen every single episode time after time and I STILL laugh out loud at almost every episode. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside when I watch it. They actually feel like they're MY friends. :0)

If you could fix one thing in the world, what would it be?

Child abuse. I would eradicate child abuse of all types. Physical, mental, sexual, slavery, all and any way that a child is exploited in this world, I would erase it. Having a child of my own has made me super sensitive to stories of children being hurt, so much so that I can no longer watch the news - it upsets me too much and actually makes me feel a bit depressed. 

Wow - that was a deep one. 

If you could have a super power, what would you choose?

I'd love to be able to travel with a click of my finger. It would mean I could go anywhere I like a) in a few seconds worth of travel and b) for free. I imagine what it would be like to just be able to nip to Jamaica for the weekend, or being able to travel 100 miles to see my mum just for a quick cup of tea. I could just pop over to my best friend's house in Wales without that long journey. Amazing. 

If you could go back to one time in your life, when would it be?

I'd go back to my childhood - to Friday nights when I used to stay at my Nanny and Grandad's house - eating fish fingers in front of the TV, cuddling my nanny, and playing with my Grandad - listening to his stories and feeling all safe and warm. I'd give anything to be back around them again, losing them in my teenage years was really hard as we were super-close. I think about them so often, especially since having Bert. He is named after my Grandad, who was called Albert. 

What would be your perfect Christmas present?

Ooooh now this is a hard one. Probably loads of awesome clothes from my favourite shops (Joules, Boden, Cath Kidston, Seasalt, La Redoute, The White Stuff, Fatface). Or a big diamond ring!! Or a surprise weekend away somewhere lovely. Or one of those GIANT boxes of Hotel Chocolat boxes of chocolates. Hahaha….there are just toooooo many beautiful things I want. Ooooh I know an original piece of art from Anita Klein would be AMAZING, or an original paper cut by Rob Ryan. :-) 

Where did your blog name come from?

Well, Mrs Bishop is my married name (I was Lucy Moon before that), and I wanted my blog name to incorporate my main passion which is baking. I knew I didn't want it to be solely a baking blog, so I needed a name that would allow for other subject matter, and 'banter' seemed like a pretty good umbrella term - and it had a nice ring to it. Ta'Dah! Mrs Bishop's Bakes and Banter was born. 

Where do you see your blog this time next year?

If I'm honest, I try not to think too far ahead - I'm more of an 'enjoy the moment you're in' kinda lady. I'd love to think that the blog will still be going strong, that I'll still be really enjoying writing it, and that I will still be lucky enough to get some amazing opportunities and experiences because of what I do over here in my little corner of Cyberspace. 

Tell us about your closest friend...


This is hard because I have so many close friends, who are all classed as 'best' and 'closest'. So, I'll tell you about them all. 

I have my Carmi, who I've been friends with since college - she is the kindest, most beautiful lady I know, and I miss her terribly when I don't see her for ages (she lives in Surrey where I grew up). 

There's my beautiful Watford Besties: Danni and her soon to be husband, Charlie. Danni and I went to University together, and have been so close ever since. Both our partners (Charlie and Liam) get on so well, and all four of us socialise all the time - we love them dearly. 

There's lovely Liz - my sister from another mister - we met about 3 years ago - Liz started up a WI group in Bedford aimed at a younger demographic, and I went along nervously by myself around Christmas time three years ago - desperate to make a circle of friends in Bedford now that we'd bought our house here and decided to settle down. It was the best decision I ever made, and now I'm lucky enough to call some of the women from our WI group some of my bestest friends (you know who you are Mags, Anwyn, Lisa, Clare, Janet, Rachel, Claire, Judit…). Liz and I hit it off from day one, she just 'gets' me more than anyone else, we have so much in common, have identical sense of humours, and just generally have a blast when we are together. 

My oldest girl friend, and who I'm probably the closest to in the world, the one who knows me warts and all is my awesome friend Susie, who lives far away in Wales, and who I only get to see once a year if I'm lucky. We met about 12 years ago, when I was at school, and she was my modern languages teacher!! We hit it off, and used to laugh and giggle all the way through our German lessons. I totally looked up to her, and after she left my school to move on to another teaching post elsewhere I was gutted. We promised to stay in touch, and we've never looked back. I pretty much talk to her almost every day - at least a few times a week minimum. I am an auntie to her five amazing children, and I genuinely could not imagine my life without her. 

There's Adam, my very oldest friend in the whole world - we've been friends since the first day of primary school (year 1)…I went on a camping holiday with him and his lovely family when I was 7 years old to Pevensey Bay (I have such fond memories of that holiday Ad, camping, sleeping in a tent with you in our sleeping bags) and we've been close ever since. We did a lot of acting together growing up - we both caught the 'drama bug' at school, and we both went on to study acting at university. We don't get to catch up these days as often as I'd like, but when I see him he is always the same old Adam, with the biggest heart and warmest hugs. 

Then there's Cosham, my Michael. (Cosham is his surname, but that's how we've always known him) he is my second oldest boy friend. We went to secondary school together, and he is just my gorgeous squishy, cuddly Michael, who gives the biggest best bear hugs in the world. Again, I don't get to see him as often as I'd like due to us living far apart these days, but he's there at every special occasion, with his massive grin and booming laugh.

I also have my blogger bestie Emma, who writes over at Life According to Mrs Shilts - we've been friends since we 'met' online through our blogs a few years ago - we finally got to meet in the flesh this year at BritMums Live, and we of course, enjoyed the most awesome girlie weekend together and had a blast! Big love goes to Jade and Donna who I also got to meet at BritMums this year and are now great friends too, and to beautiful Rhia from Virtual Rhiality, who I will DEFINITELY finally get to meet in the flesh between now & Christmas, I promise! 

Agh, I miss all my friends now :-( LOVE YOU GUYS.

------------------------------------------------------------

Okay, so here are the ten lovely bloggers I nominate. They are all super awesome, inspiring women, who all write blogs that I love. (Please don’t feel you have to join in lovelies, but if you do fancy playing along, that would be fun too!)...

2. Jade from Late for Reality
3. Rhia from Virtual Rhiality
4. Anwyn from It's A Rowberry Life
5. Liz from Little Red Welly
6. Janet from Kitchen Table Sewing
7. Emma from The Mini Mes and Me
8. Lisa from Women Who Are
9. Vicki from A Life of Geekery
10. Judit from Monster Yarns

And my ten questions for your lovelies are as follows:

1. What is your signature bake?

2. If you had to choose only one film to watch for the rest of time, and no others, what would you choose?

3. What is your favourite home cooked dinner, and why?

4. Do you have a favourite artist or piece of artwork?

5. What's your tipple of choice?

6. Do you collect anything?

7. What are you reading at the moment?

8. Do you have a dream job? Or are you lucky enough to already do your dream job?

9. What is your favourite item of clothing in your current wardrobe and why?

10. Who is your most embarrassing celebrity crush? (Let's face it girls, we're never too old for a crush!)





Tuesday, 23 September 2014

That's Not My Fox *REVIEW*

We are a big fan of books in the Bishop household. 

Little Bert is no exception to this love of reading, and seems to have well and truly caught the book bug from his Daddy and I. His favourite books are chunky board books which are easy for him to handle - he loves to be able to turn the pages himself, and especially loves books that have textures for him to touch, or flaps for him to lift. 

I first discovered the 'That's Not My…' range of books from Usborne Children's Books back when I was teaching, I thought they were lovely simple books, with beautiful bright colours, and a great sensory element. 

When Bert was born we were kindly given a copy of 'That's Not My Lion' as a gift because of the famous poem/story Albert and the Lion. It was one of the first books Bert got properly interested and involved in - he loved to run his little hands over the different textures, and enjoyed helping us to point at all of the words. 

For his first Christmas, Usborne sent us 'That's Not My Reindeer' which we can't wait to bring out again this Christmas, as we're sure Bert will appreciate it so much more this Christmas, as he was a bit small to really 'get it' last year.

At Bert's Nanny's house he has a copy of 'That's Not My Goat', and at his other Nanny's house he has two more of the collection: 'That's Not My Duck' - Ducks are his favourite animals, and his first word, so this is a very special book for the B Man, and 'That's Not My Monkey', which is a very apt title for a cheeky monkey such as Bert. 

His Daddy managed to find him 'That's Not My Dragon' (Dragon's are Daddy's favourite), and so you can see Bert has developed quite the collection!


some of Bert's collection

When Usborne offered to send us their new title in their 'That's Not My..' range, I obviously couldn't turn down the chance to expand Bert's collection further. And so, we are now the proud owners of 'That's Not My Fox', and of course, Bert is delighted with it. 


Each page in the 'That's Not My…' books have a sensory element - a part of the subject (Fox, Pirate, Dragon etc) has a different texture to the rest of the page - it might be a furry fox tail, a shiny duck beak, or a rough dragon's skin. The pictures are bold and colourful, and the text is so simple and repetitive - perfect for little ones just starting out on their books and reading love affair. 

A couple of example pages so you get the idea



The books are chunky, sturdy and very well made. The thick board pages are easy for little hands to turn, and Bert never seems to get bored of running his chubby little fingers over the multitude of textures these books offer. 






Each 'That's Not My…' book retails at £5.99 per book, I think this is such a reasonable price, and it makes collecting lots of titles totally affordable. They would also make a perfect gift for any little book worms you might know. 

There are so many more in the collection that I'd love to get for Bert - at the top of our wish list is:


There are just so many books in this beautiful collection, and we can't wait to add these further titles to our little library in due course. 

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of 'That's Not My Fox' for the purpose of this review, however, all words, opinions and photographs are my own. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Why do I write? Blog Hop

I was tagged to take part in this 'Why Do I Write?' Blog Hop by my lovely blogger friend Jade, who writes over at Late For Reality. This is the first time I've participated in a Blog Hop - I thought it might be a nice one to have a crack at, and will hopefully give my readers a bit of an insight into why I blog, and how my writing process works. 

Here's Jades blog hop if you'd like a read. :-)

So here we go, first question...

1. Why do I write?

I started this blog back on the 30th January 2012. It really started as an online diary - a way to house in one place all the things I was getting up to, all of my thoughts and ideas, and a way to share with my family (who live 100 miles away) how I was getting on week to week. I was feeling that 'new year-new you' vibe, and was determined to shed weight for my upcoming nuptials (Aug 2012).

Once I started writing I became totally addicted. My family and friends all read it, and said they enjoyed it, and before I knew it friends of friends had started reading, and soon a whole host of strangers…it occurred to me that actually maybe I do have a voice worth listening to, that I might be able to create something people will enjoy reading. I found that writing the blog really helped me to see potential 'material' everywhere, and soon I realised that the blog was driving me to seek out new experiences and adding so much joy to my everyday.

I've always found the process of writing things down cathartic - I kept a diary as a teenager, and this was just my extension of that really. The blog has helped me to deal with some pretty hefty things, and has helped to keep me on track - especially when it comes to weight loss. I'd have found it far harder to have lost the 5 stone 5 lbs (and counting!) if it wasn't for the blog - writing about the numbers on the scale, saying it out loud to all of you lovely readers, somehow makes me more accountable - I feel like I'll be letting you down, as well as myself, if I gain - does that make sense?

I have also enjoyed being able to document our journey into parenthood on the blog. From our miscarriage in 2012, the pregnancy with Bert, to little Bert's arrival, and all the joy he has bought to our lives since then, I love having it all documented on here to look back on in the future.

2. What am I working on?

At the moment I'm working on a few cool things: I'm braving it into the world of vlogging (video blogging) very soon and will be reviewing a SUPER exciting kitchen gadget for you all…eeek!

I have a couple of beautiful children's toy reviews in the making…hopefully I'll be able to share lots of lovely gift ideas with you all between now and Christmas (you know how I love to shop!)

I also have to play catch up with my Baking Challenge posts - as I missed August (it was SUCH a busy month for us) …. so I owe you two baking challenges this month. I'm also making a birthday cake for my cousin's 30th birthday at the end of September, so all being well I'll be able to share that with you all as well.

3. How does my blog differ from others of its genre?

I think my blog is different because it doesn't quite conform to just one genre. When describing my little virtual world I usually use the umbrella term 'lifestyle' blog as I cover such a wide range of topics from baking, parenting, health/fitness, wellbeing, interior design, fashion and crafting to name but a few!

I'd say my blog is very true to me - I have pretty strict integrity when it comes to opportunities I say yes to - I won't review something that does't genuinely interest or excite me and I won't work with a company unless I know that I and my readers will enjoy it.

4. How does my writing process work?

A lot of my posts are quite 'off the cuff' - just me chattering about something I've done, somewhere I've been, or some pretty things I've found online. Sometimes, my posts are more planned - and might be a few weeks in the making. It really does depend on the subject of the post. I try to include loads of photos as I know that when I read other blogs I love to see lots of pictures of their lives (I'm SO nosy, so I can only assume all you lovely blog readers are too!) I usually write with a loose idea beforehand of what I want the post contain/how I want it to look, then I proof read. Finally, I get my husband to have a peek (he's great at spotting mistakes I might have missed) before I press 'publish'. I don't usually post anything without his opinion, as his is the opinion I trust most among all others, plus I think its fair he sees what I'm about to say before anyone else!

I'm constantly on the lookout for things I might want to write about on the blog - from a recipe I might see and think 'oooh that'll make a fab blog' to a dinner I throw together and think 'blimey that was easy/tasty/cheap/filling (delete as appropriate) I should blog that one'. Sometimes it might be how I'm feeling emotionally about something that will prompt a post, or it might be a fun day out we've had that I'm desperate to share with you. I love to mark all of my special occasions with a post such as my birthday, anniversaries and Bert's milestones, and I enjoy sharing awesome product reviews with any space I can find in-between all of the above!

I hope you enjoy reading my blog half as much as I enjoy writing it!

I tag the lovely Emma over at Life According to Mrs Shilts, Rhia over at Virtual Rhiality, and finally Anwyn over at It's A Rowberry Life: I would love you read your answers girls!

Please ensure your posts go live on Monday 29th September.



Happy Blogging!


Mrs B

xxx

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Letter To My Younger Self...



Dear 21 Year Old Lucy,

I know you're feeling a bit lost right now. You don't truly know who you are yet, or what you want from life, but you soon will - all that soul searching you're doing right now will really help you to get things clearer. I wish you could know how great everything is going to become in your future! You have some hard years ahead of you - some tough decisions to make, relationships to break, and mistakes that you have to go and make - if you don't you'll end up somewhere different to where you are now, and where you are now at 27 is really great! 

Please don't keep stressing about the future and about all of the 'what if's', stop telling yourself that you'll never meet anyone worth settling down with, and that you'll probably end up alone - that's just the voice of the silly woe-is-me teenager that's still stuck inside you. Ignore her! You need to move on from that teenage woe…it won't help. You should be more confident, you have so much potential to offer the world, and you mean an awful lot to a great number of people. You're a good person - don't forget that! 

I want to talk to you about your teenage years - yes, they were really tough (whose weren't?) and you had to learn some harsh life lessons. You made some really bad relationship choices, and got very hurt - but look how strong those experiences have made you! Stop stewing about those silly decisions, you made them, you got knocked down, but you picked yourself back up again - that's the bit you MUST concentrate on - your strength, not your weakness. Those awful relationships have taught you exactly what you DON'T want from a partner, they will inform all your other relationship choices, and eventually you're going to make a blinder of a choice, and marry someone who is perfect for you, and who will never hurt you like you've been hurt before. 

Now, I know you don't want to hear it, but I need to talk to you about your weight. You're a very big girl, and it makes you miserable every day. It affects your confidence constantly, and you beat yourself up about it all of the time. What would be really useful for you long-term is to just get on and do something about it RIGHT NOW at 21. It will save you the really hard slog in 6 years time when you'll have to embark on a 6 stone weight loss journey. 

Trust me when I tell you how much happier you will be when you are lighter, fitter and healthier. You'll have so much more confidence and you'll fall in love with fashion for the first time. I know that you imagine all the time what it would be like to be able to buy clothes from any shop on the high street instead of just the 'plus size' sections - I can tell you what it will feel like...it will be brilliant! You'll be desperate to buy beautiful clothes all of the time and you'll be able to wear stunning clothes from shops you absolutely love such as Boden, Joules and Cath Kidston!! And you'll start to feel pretty and sexy for perhaps the first time ever. You won't have to avoid shopping trips with your friends because they're all thinner and can fit into clothes in shops that you can't. Do it now Lucy - start exercising as much as you can, and try to teach yourself moderation when it comes to eating. Don't keep using food as your crutch, it will just make you more miserable. Discover calorie counting, it really works, and will teach you what is 'enough' for your body to consume. If you do it now you'll have so many more years of happiness and self confidence, you won't regret it. 

Finally, listen to your mum! I know you don't want to admit it at the moment, but deep down you know that she's always right. She's a great judge of character - and when she tells you to go on a second date with a man called Liam, DEFINITELY listen to her…he's a keeper. 

Be kind to yourself Lucy, give yourself a break, leave the past behind you and see the potential staring back at you in the mirror and start making the most of it! 

Love

27 Year Old Lucy 

xxx

Disclaimer: This post is a 'Letter To My Younger Self' in partnership with Legal & General

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Weight Update & FitBug Orb *REVIEW*

Lucy's Weight Loss Update

Since my last weight loss post I've had a really busy time. We had a manic few weeks full of celebrations for little Bert's first birthday, and a week long holiday to Cyprus with my hubby. 

I made a conscious decision before the celebrations began that I would stop calorie counting and I would enjoy a couple of week's indulgence. For me, the point of having lost so much weight is to be able to enjoy all the food I eat without guilt. The way I do this now is consciously deciding on what treats I'm going to have, and ensure they are not every day and in vast quantities. I try to eat a very balanced diet most of the time and do plenty of exercise, in order to be able to go off the rails every now and then, without causing too much damage. 

Over the two weeks of not calorie counting I ate A LOT - birthday cake, party food, cream teas, fish and chips, doughnuts, ice cream, and on holiday we ate from the buffet restaurant for breakfast and dinner, and certainly got our money's worth. I wasn't ultra stupid - I didn't make myself feel sick, or eat for the sake of eating - I ate what I wanted, but there was still a quiet nagging voice telling me not to be too greedy.

Honestly, by the time I got back from holiday I was beginning to get a bit fed up with 'treat food', and well in need of some fruit, vegetables and moderation! I felt pretty horrendous. Lesson learned - two weeks 'off' is perhaps a tad too long for me these days. I was dreading the weigh-in on the friday morning after our holiday (I weigh in every Friday morning religiously), I was pretty sure I must have put on at least a stone….but, I'd put on just 5 lbs in the two weeks off. 

Some of you might recoil in horror at putting on 2.5 lbs a week for two weeks, but I ate SO much and really enjoyed every mouthful - I was pleasantly surprised. I know that if I put my mind to it I can soon lose that 5 lbs I put on. After having lost over 5 stone, 5 lbs doesn't seem as scary! 

I felt so relaxed over Bert's birthday and throughly enjoyed all the yummy foods I indulged in. The holiday was glorious: being able to eat what I liked for a week, with no little man to amuse at meal times was such a treat - it added so much enjoyment to the experience. 

For me, food will always be emotional. I will probably always see it as a reward, a treat. I know that without yummy scrummy foods to cook, and eat, I'd have a lot less pleasure in my life. I understand this now, and embrace it instead of trying to hide it. 

Since returning from holiday I have lost 1 of the 5 lbs I put on. I now have 11 lbs to lose to get to my final target weight. 

To date I have lost 5 stone 5 lbs since September 2013. 


Hubby and I at our biggest! 

Me last week - Current weight: 11 stone 11 lbs 
Goal weight: 11 stone

I have set myself a goal to have reached that target weight by my best friend's wedding in early December. This gives me about 11 weeks to lose 11 lbs. It will mean I need to really keep my eye on the ball as much as possible between now and then - I have a lot of celebrations coming up in the next few months (cousins 30th, my birthday, a weekend away with hubby, hubby's 30th) and I need to be conscious to try and ensure whatever treats I have are reasonable, and met with lots of exercise to counteract the naughtiness. 

I dream of being in the position when I'm at my goal weight, and work hard to maintain that most of the time. Then, at times when I want a 'break' such as Christmas, my birthday, Easter etc I could take some time off from calorie counting, consciously allow myself to eat treats and probably put some weight on over that set period, then, after the week/two week period (I can't imagine a time when I'd ever need to stop calorie counting for longer than two weeks?) I would weigh in, see the damage and be prepared to lose whatever I've put on. 

Having been in a position when I had over 6 stone to lose, I can now laugh in the face of 6 lbs…having just had two weeks off and eaten the amount I have, I understand that a few weeks off isn't ever going to result in me getting as big as I was before. As long as I deal with the weight gain straight away, and get it off almost as quickly as it went on. 

A gain of 5 lbs at christmas, followed by 5 lbs at Easter, etc would soon add up if I didn't work at losing it again straight away. 

Onwards and upwards: I'm still feeling really motivated and excited about the prospect of being the slimmest I've ever been and working hard to achieve my goals. 

FitBug Orb *REVIEW*


For the past two months I've been trying out a wearable activity monitor called the FitBug Orb which is currently priced at £49.95. FitBug claims that this device can track your steps, distance travelled and hours slept, and will help you to lose weight, get fitter, feel healthier and happier. Big claims from a little product! 

To stay healthy we are meant to take 10,000 steps a day - when I first used a pedometer years ago (when they came free in boxes of Special K!) I was a quite lazy, overweight teenager, and I'm ashamed to say I barely managed to reach 5,000 steps a day, let alone 10,000. As I've gotten older, wiser and much more health conscious, I no longer find it as difficult to reach that step goal. 

What I was interested in finding out was how accurately had I been recording my recent activity levels using just guesstimation and the My Fitness Pal App, compared to the readings I would now get from the FitBug Orb?



In the past I have used both wearable pedometers, and GPS tracking phone Apps to help monitor my activity levels- but I found the pedometers to be wildly inaccurate, and the GPS Apps just drained the battery from my iPhone so quickly it wasn't feasible to use daily. I was interested to try out the Orb and see how it stacked up against my previous experiences with activity monitors. 

What I Needed...

A wearable activity monitor which is 

  • easy to use
  • simple to understand
  • able to track my daily steps
  • able to tell me how many minutes I've stepped actively (so that I can put that information into My Fitness Pal to work out how many calories I've burned)
  • not a drain on my iPhone's battery

The Basics

This little monitor is tiny and easy to wear - at just slightly bigger than a 10p piece, and really light, you can wear it multiple ways - either on a clip to your bra/underwear/belt, a lanyard for around your wrist, or in the watch attachment. The clip, lanyard and watch attachment all come in the box with the Orb for less than fifty pounds. I think this is a pretty reasonable price for what you get. 

The Orb doesn't have a screen for you to read your data from like most pedometers, which means it is very small and light compared to other activity monitors. Instead, it transmits the data it collects via bluetooth to an app on your bluetooth device (such as an iPhone), and it is from the App that you can track your progress. 

Set Up

When my FitBug Orb arrived I found the set up process to be very smooth. I followed the instructions in the pack, registered my Orb online using the serial number found on the bottom of the packaging, downloaded the free App to my phone, and then connected the two via bluetooth. It asks you input your stats (height, current weight, sex etc) and you're good to go. I couldn't wait to start wearing it and giving it a good road test. 

What I particularly love about the Orb is that it tells you how many of your daily steps count as aerobic (calorie burning) steps. For someone like me, whose primary calorie burning exercise source is brisk walking, this is invaluable to me - I was forever guesstimating how many minutes of brisk walking I'd done each day by looking at the time I set out, and arrived home - but this has so many flaws: I wasn't particularly allowing for any dips in pace, stopping/starting etc: all of which would effect the calories I burn. With the Orb I can now see exactly how many minutes of aerobic walking I have done each day and how many miles I have covered. I then input that information into My Fitness Pal, which is the App I use to count calories. Using the Orb has resulted in a much more reliable calculation of how many minutes each day I've spent walking fast enough (around 3 mph is my average pace) to burn calories.

wearing the Orb in the wrist/watch style accessory

I wear the Orb every day on the bra clip attachment. I'm quite hefty in the boob area, so this tiny little Orb soon gets lost if I clip it to the centre middle of my bra front. It is comfortable to wear - once it is on I forget I'm even wearing it!

Don't make the same mistake I did on the first day - I wore the Orb in the wrist/watch style accessory, and then walked along pushing Bert in the buggy. I found that pushing the buggy really messed up the reading as I guess it wasn't getting the movement it needed from my wrist to register my steps. Note to self: wear on bra clip when pushing buggy! Ever since then I've used the bra clip instead, and the readings have been much more reliable. 

If you don't push a buggy most of the time like me, then the watch attachment is brilliant - I would usually expect to pay extra for things like that, so the fact that it comes with the standard package is brilliant. When I've worn the wrist watch attachment on the rare occasions I get to walk by myself without the buggy, I've found it to be really comfortable to wear and well fitting (it has loads of different holes like a normal watch to ensure it will fit any wrist size). It doesn't have a watch face though - I made myself look really silly looking at it for the time on a few occasions - note to FitBug HQ - if you could include a working watch face, that would be great, and would save me from looking like an idiot! Cheers. 

Along with the App, and device itself you also get what's called a KiK digital coach - which after a week, looks at your progress, and starts to set you daily step targets to help encourage you to move more. You will then receive a weekly email with inspiration and advice tailored to you from your digital "coach" (not an actual person, just the software being all clever and using your data to come up with attainable goals) - which I found to be quite motivating. 

The App

The App screen shows you your day like this:

Total steps - Have you met your goal? - Aerobic steps - Distance travelled - Calories burned
A screen shot of the App before I've started stepping!

You transmit data from the Orb to your App either by pressing the button on your Orb once to transmit the current data, or by having it set on beacon mode, where it regularly updates your App with data throughout your day. 

You can also select the 'History' tab, which will give you an overview of your week - I found this to be a really helpful function - it enabled me to see which days I hadn't walked very much, which days I'd greatly exceeded my targets and I could use the history to try to see some patterns in my exercise. 


The colour coded key is a quick an easy way to see if you are meeting, exceeding, or not quite making your goals. From the App you can also see what your goals are, read your sleep data, and change your settings. 

On my best day I made 29,174 steps of which 26,018 were aerobic. On that day I walked 9 miles in total and could input 4 hours 02 minutes of moderate pace walking into My Fitness Pal which amassed to burning 984 calories. Phew! That was a tiring day. 

Sleep mode

One of the other functions of the Orb is a sleep monitor, and I must say I was dubious about this part of its functionality, and in all honesty, I still am. 

You can press a button before you go to sleep at night, which puts your Orb into 'sleep mode' where it apparently tracks the quality of your sleep, how much you wake up and for how long, and how long in total you sleep for. 

Don't ask me how it is supposed to be able to do all this! I have no idea! Perhaps the people over at FitBug can explain the science behind it?

Honestly, I found the Orb a bit uncomfortable to wear at night, and the whole process a little bit of a faff. I would forget to turn it onto sleep mode, or forget to turn it back to normal mode in the morning, and then my readings would be off. It says that the Orb will put itself back into normal mode after taking 50 consecutive steps, but quite often I found it would stay in sleep mode until i either a) remembered to switch it back or b) started aerobic steps. 

This was one of the best and most accurate sleep readings I managed because I put it into sleep mode when I could barely keep my eyes open any more at 1:16am, and remembered to switch it back to normal mode as soon as I woke up at 6:51am. I must have slept pretty soundly that night as my quality of sleep was 98%, not bad! 

The sleep function's issues weren't too much of an issue for me, as I'm not particularly interested in this part of the Orb's functionality. Putting it into sleep mode when I get into bed didn't seem accurate to me as it quite often takes me a while to get off to sleep, I couldn't work out if the Orb would think you were asleep from the moment you turned on sleep mode, or if it can magically work out when you drift off from your movements?

I figured that I could forget about using the sleep function as I know pretty accurately by looking at the clock how long I've slept for. I usually remember if I wake up in the night, so equally, knowing the quality of my sleep isn't really difficult for me either. 

Overview

On the whole I found the Orb to do what it says on the tin, so to speak. It ticked every box on the 'What I Needed…' list.

It seems to accurately track your steps, and give you a fair idea of how many minutes each day you've spent doing aerobic exercise. For me, that is really the only information I am interested in. It means I can input with confidence my calories burned using My Fitness Pal, and get better results in terms of weight loss because of that. 

It is easy to set up, doesn't drain your iPhone battery, and I found the multiple ways to wear it very useful. The KiK coach is a helpful addition to keep you motivated, and if you have a better memory than me you will probably find the sleep tracker a useful addition to its function as well. 

I would genuinely recommend the Orb to friends, in fact, I already recommend it to my sister, and she has bought her own and has been using it for the past month! Compared to other activity monitors on the market it is a much more reasonable price - I think you definitely get plenty for your money! 

You can follow FitBug on Twitter @FitbugActive 
And find out more on their website here

Disclaimer: I was sent a FitBug Orb for the purpose of this review - all words, opinions and images are my own. 

Family Fever