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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mary Lou's Weigh Platform

Remember Mary Lou Retton from the 80's? (Am I dating myself here?) She's that energetic girl who, in 1984, won an Olympic all Around Gold Medal in gymnastics (the first American woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics). If you ever wondered what happened to her, here she is! Would you like to invite her into your bedroom? Read on...

The Mary Lou's Weigh Platform is a unique type of scale for managing your weight. What makes it unique? Well, for one thing, it has no dial on it. Just a button you press with your toe to turn it on. So how do you know what you weigh? Here's the kicker: you don't! The scale (aka platform) never, ever tells you what you weigh. It's almost like having a best friend who weighs you blindfolded each week and is sworn to secrecy to NEVER reveal your weight. So although this is a voice scale (yes, it talks) it never will shout out, "You weigh 278 pounds!" and embarrass you to everyone within earshot. When you use this scale, you never, ever have to know what you weigh. It won't tell you, even if you threaten it or take it apart or jump on it. Very trustworthy little device.

What the platform does tell you is the *change* in your weight since the last time you stepped on it. So after the initial stepping-on, each time you get on it, it says, "You are 2 pounds below your starting weight" or "You are 1 pound above your starting weight." And do you know who tells you this vital information? It's Mary Lou Retton!! She is trapped inside the little scale and every time you step on her, she yelps out not only your weight change but also a piece of dieting advice! (Okay, she is not really in the scale, but it IS her voice you'll hear. How'd they do that??) Yes, every morning you can have Mary Lou's perky voice cheering you on to not give up. It's kinda nice to have a built-in cheerleader... an Olympic champion, no less. And the scale goes in ten pound increments. Once you've lost ten pounds, it cheers, applauds, and resets for the next ten. So you work towards small, achievable goals of ten pound chunks rather than focusing on 50 or 60 or whatever pounds you have to lose.

What I like about the scale: It's great for people who are scale obsessed and number obsessed because you never get discouraged by seeing your sheer poundage on the dial. It keeps track of your losses and gains for you, so you don't have to remember what you weighed last time. It's cheery and perky. It can weigh and remember 2 different people depending on which side of the button you press, so you and chubby hubby can both get in on the action. The weight loss tips are nice. It has a weight limit of 330 pounds. And it's pretty low cost, under $50 at the time this was written.

What I dislike about the scale: You might want to know what you actually weigh... but this can be solved by going to the doctor once in awhile or weighing on a friend's scale occasionally. It's cheery and perky (which isn't always what I want first thing in the morning). And it's LOUD. It does have a volume switch, but even set to low, it's loud enough for people in my living room to hear the muffled cries of "you are 3 pounds above your starting weight" from the bedroom. If you have a sleeping spouse, baby, or child in the near vicinity of this scale, you might have to delay your morning weigh-ins. And I found myself skipping the weigh-in on occasion just because I didn't want my older kids or husband hearing it. I'm kinda self conscious that way. But if you live alone, have an isolated room to keep it in, or just don't care who hears, this won't bother you.

As I said, Mary Lou is *really* perky. The instruction booklet acknowledges this and warns that no, the scale is not bulletproof and will not work anymore if you shoot it. Mary Lou is cheery and encouraging, like having a buddy patting you on the back saying "it's okay, keep trying" as you sob with your face in your hands over gaining 5 pounds. You know what I'd like to see? A Jillian Michaels platform. You'd get on it and it would shout things like, "Holy *&%% what have you been eating?? HIT THE FLOOR AND GIVE ME 300 SITUPS!! NOW!!" or "Great, you lost a pound, now get on the treadmill and run 6 miles so you can lose two more!" or even "YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT THIS WEEK IF I HAVE TO RIP OFF YOUR ARM AND BEAT YOU WITH IT!" Yeah. No cutesy peppiness there.

The Mary Lou's Weigh website has some free helpful tools such as recipes and exercise tips, as well as weight loss success stories. There's also an interesting Ask the Experts section to peruse. And you can purchase a Platform here.

Want to try one for yourself for free? You have a chance to win your very own Platform by leaving a comment on this review telling me what you think you'd like or dislike about this product. Be sure and leave me a way to contact you if you are the winner (blog or email address). Open to residents of the USA only (sorry folks!) A random winner will be chosen on February 5th. Good luck!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

GelPro Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat

Just a few days before Thanksgiving, I received something really cool in the mail: a GelPro Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat. Yes, I was really excited. If you have ever had knee problems (or hip problems, back problems, or foot problems), you'll understand why. And if you're obese, odds are you've had some kind of pain in one of these areas. If not, you just wait.

For me, the main source of discomfort has been my knees. I have severe degenerative arthritis and some other knee problems that cause me a lot of pain, especially if I stand for long periods of time (or even short periods. It depends on the day). So, Thanksgiving for me has been a mixed bag. I love cooking, but standing in the kitchen all day by the sink and stove has *always* landed me in trouble. I end up limping around for the rest of the evening and the next day, popping pain medication and feeling 90 years old. This has happened every single year since I got fat. Over a decade. So when the GelPro mat came in time for Thanksgiving, I was thrilled! I could give it a REAL test: cook Thanksgiving dinner on it, standing all day, and see if it lessens my pain at all.

The GelPro mat has a patented, shock-absorbing gel core. The site explains: "Everyone can benefit from the comfort provided by a GelPro mat. There are, however, millions of individuals that are especially susceptible to hard, unforgiving flooring. Chief among them − young and old alike − are those with painful arthritis, lower back pain, foot pain, plantar fasciitis, and diabetes. These conditions, along with foot pain, plantar fasciitis, and diabetes are all exacerbated by standing on hard flooring. GelPro mats have unique and unsurpassed ergonomic properties to help counter these irritating and disabling pains."

The site goes on to explain that the mat helps prevent muscle spasms and tension by promoting blood flow. It also works by lowering the impact forces to the body and joints. You can read on the site about a scientific study which concluded that anti-fatigue mats reduced discomfort and fatigue by as much as 50% when standing on concrete floors for several hours.

So how did it work?? Well, I put it on the floor between my kitchen sink and stove, so I could stand on it while cooking AND washing dishes. I stepped onto its cushy goodness and my bare feet just relaxed right into the mat. It seriously feels SO GOOD. I would carpet my house in this stuff if I could. Anyway, I was standing a LOT, as I do every Thanksgiving while I make a million different dishes. And at the end of the day, I noticed I had no pain at all. Now, let me say I *always* have knee discomfort. They ache even if I sit all day long. But like I said, I used to be limping and/or immobile after a day of cooking. So this was a HUGE improvement to me. I felt like I hadn't even been standing all day. No limping, no pain. Seriously impressive. I love this thing. And no, I'm not getting paid for this review so if it sucked, I'd be sure and let you know. This mat has really helped me with being able to stand and cook or wash dishes without being sore later.

The mat comes in two sizes: 20" x 36" and 20" by 72". It comes in a ton of colors, textures, and patterns to match any decor, and it comes with a one year warranty.

Now for the best part: You can win a beautiful 20" by 36" GelPro mat in the Basketweave pattern for YOUR kitchen, for free, right here! In order to win, you need to leave a comment stating two things: 1) Why would you like to have a GelPro mat? (do you have knee pain? plantar fasciitis? sore legs? just think it's cute? want to give it to grandma?); and 2) your color preference if you win. Go here: GelPro Basketweave Color Choices and decide which of the six colors you like best. This contest is open to residents of the USA *and CANADA* and your mat will be shipped to you free of charge if you win. You must leave me a way to contact you if you are the winner. Good luck! I *know* you will totally love this mat! A winner will be chosen on January 25th.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The EatSmart Nutrition Scale

How would you like to win one of these fancy schmancy digital food scales?? Read on...

A couple of months ago I received an EatSmart Digital Nutrition Scale in the mail. The EatSmart company sent me this complimentary scale to try out so I could write an unbiased review for my readers. It's been really fun messing with this high-tech gadget, and thankfully it's really easy to use once you know which buttons to press.

I've used a kitchen scale before. It was a cheap plastic dial thing that cost about $5 at WalMart. I never used it much, because by the time I got a plate to balance on the itty bitty top of the scale, then manually dialed it back to zero for a tare, then tried to balance my food on the plate (usually tipping it over in the process), I was too annoyed to actually take the time to READ the scale, then go look up the calorie value for my food, get out a calculator, and figure out how many calories was in that amount of food. I went back to measuring cups, and basically eyeballing things like meat and cheese.

But this thing, wow. This scale is just a joy to use. It's big and flat and has a 6 pound weight capacity (so you could measure Fido on here if he is a teacup poodle and sits still long enough, although I don't think that would be very sanitary and makes me wonder WHY you would want to know how many calories are in your dog). It's digital. It has a database of 999 foods already programmed in... foods that don't usually have nutrition labels, like various cuts of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy, and grains. You stick your food on the scale, enter the 3 digit code (from the accompanying booklet) for that food, and presto! The scale tells you how many calories are in the exact amount of food that you placed on the scale. And handily, it also tells you the food's content of 11 other values: carbs, fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, calcium, protein, and vitamin K. When you press the MODE button, you can examine the nutrition content of any other foods that have a Nutrition Facts label on them. Pour some cereal into a bowl on the scale, enter info from the label for serving size and whatever other nutrient you want examined, and the scale tells you the nutrient content of your bowl of cereal. Nice!

I have to say, this is the coolest kitchen scale I have ever tried. It has this memory feature that you can use to build a meal or a snack. You can put your dinner plate on the scale, then add your meat (press memory), your vegetable (press memory), your starch (press memory) and then at the end, the memory recall will tell you the nutritional value total of the meal on your plate. Really cool. When I talked to the company representative on the phone, he told me some people use this to build 100-calorie-packs for themselves with various different foods.

This scale is more than a scale. It's an educational tool to learn about what you're putting in your body. Every time you put a food on the scale, you not only get the weight and calories (without running to look up calories in a book, or using a calculator to figure out the total), but you also get all the other nutritional information. If you're watching your sodium, the scale will help you with that. Cholesterol? That too. Carb counting? Got it covered.

I don't want to sound like an infomercial, but I think this is a great tool for people who are trying to learn about nutrition or lose weight. This scale is a "professional" food scale that is used by the Center for Medical Weight Loss and their clients, as well as nutritionists and clients at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. You can purchase this scale at amazon.com, where you can also read almost 100 very positive reviews.

If you need a good kitchen scale but don't have $69.95 to spend at the moment, the EatSmart company also makes a very simple, but accurate kitchen scale (the Precision Pro) for $19.95. All it does is weigh your food, though. No fancy tricks from this one.

Want to win a free EatSmart fancy schmancy Nutrition Scale?? Go to the EatSmart website and watch the 8-minute demonstration video. Then leave me a comment telling me what you think of the video or what you like/dislike about the scale. Winner will be chosen randomly and will receive a lovely free EatSmart Nutrition Scale in the mail. (USA residents only this time, sorry folks!) I'll announce the winner on January 15th. Good luck!

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