Microsoft Band 2 – Can This Fitness Tracker Hold It’s Own?

First off, I am not really a tech nerd.  I don’t really know much about processor speeds and the technical this or that.  I am, however, a fitness addict.  I like having a fitness accessory that looks good.  So if anyone was thinking about picking up a fitness tracker, this is my review of the Microsoft Band 2.  I’ll try to keep it short and sweet 🙂

Let me open by saying this thing is sexy.  I mean look at it…

It has a better aesthetic appeal, in my opinion, than a Fitbit or Garmin.  It’s just mysterious enough that you get that, “Oooh what is that?” from people seeing it for the first time.  One of the cool features is that you can change the color of the screen and the design as well.  So if you’re a metrosexual like me that likes to match their accessories to their outfit, this is perfect.  The downside is that the designs are limited and the colors are your basic color schemes.  The upside is that the colors are basic enough to match any outfit I can throw at it.  The edges are rounded which make it super comfortable to wear.  The clasp is different than most bands I’ve seen.  It has two buttons that you push in on the sides to set the clasp.  The clasp slides on a groove which allows you to tighten it as little or as much as you want without having to deal with holes like a watch band.  It’s more than comfortable enough to sleep in.

But it’s not all about aesthetics, how does this thing perform?!  The band has a built in GPS so you can go on runs without having to drag your phone along with you.  When you get back to your phone, it will show you a map of what you just ran, along with your pace, splits, and even your heart rate with the built-in heart rate monitor.  Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more lifting and HIIT workouts so the heart rate function has been very handy in finding that sweet spot to get the most out of your workout.  I’ve found the functionality to be very accurate compared to side by side mapping by my phone and Pivotal Living Bracelet.  

Some other cool features are the workout tracker.  Actually it’s more of a workout planner.  You can program through the Microsoft app what you want your workout to consist of and you can follow it at gym time.  Alternatively, you can choose a workout that’s already been provided by some of the built-in fitness professionals.  The Microsoft Band 2 also functions as a smart watch, as it can receive texts, emails, and alerts as long as you are within Bluetooth range of your phone.  The face of the band is touchscreen which is pretty rad.  You can scroll through the menus by sliding your finger across the screen or just tap the screen to access your daily steps, distance, and calories burned.  One of the coolest features is the built in UV monitor.  If you’re like me and love getting your tan on, click the UV menu, turn your wrist upside down so the sensor is in the sun, and within five seconds it will tell you the UV index.  Pointless? Maybe.  But I think it’s the coolest thing ever.  “UV index of 9?! I need to be outside!”  Yea, that’s me.   

So what are the honest downsides?  Sometimes I have trouble getting the band to sync.  It’s like the Bluetooth doesn’t want to find it.   The Microsoft Health forum is a huge resource to troubleshoot any issues you may have.  The biggest downside is that it isn’t waterproof.  Which means no, you won’t see me running a Spartan Race in it because the water obstacles will likely turn my band into a $200 paper weight.  Being in the rain or something probably wouldn’t hurt it, but it is advised to not be submerged.

To wrap this up, if you’re looking for a fitness tracker that does a good job tracking your runs, can double as a sexy accessory, can color coordinate to your workout attire, can work as a smart device and let you know when you’re receiving important messages and alerts, and can tell you whether to tan or if it’s going to rain later, and can tell your heart rate whole doing all that, then this may be the device for you!

*all opinions are purely my own with no ties to Microsoft whatsoever.  Photo credits to Microsoft on the last two pictures.  

What I Learned About Being A Father of Two

Some of you, not many, may have asked, “whatever happened to that Spartan Daddy Blog?”  He used to annoy us all the time with his posts!  Well there is a good reason for my hiatus.  The Spartan daddy welcomed to this world Lynnae Faith into the world on May 28th!  

I’ve always wondered how as a parent you could ever possibly love anything more than your first child.  How could there possibly be room for more love?  I had a ton of questions that translated into a slight nervousness as to how this was going to work in my life.  So here are some things that I’ve learned the past few months being a father of two girls.

1)  Hearts expand – just when you think you can’t possibly love anything more than your first child, along comes the second.  It’s like your heart automatically doubles in capacity at first glance.  

2) Getting ready takes twice as long –  what used to take 15 minutes to get a 5 year old ready, has now turned into a 35 minute ordeal.  Yelling at one to get her shoes on while the second pukes.  Shoes are finally on but we forgot something.  Uh oh.  Blowout in the diaper.  Oh you want to nurse now? Yea. My life. 

3) You forget how amazing sleep is –  I’ll be honest, I took sleep for granted.  The nights I used to be able to stay up late and get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted blissful sleep is now gone.  I now get to wake up every few hours to whimpering or the shrieking cries of hunger.  

4) there is a severe lack of testosterone in my home – a wife, two daughters, and even my cat is a female.  I need to escape to my basement and lift weights to get my dose of manliness in for the day before my kids turn me into a sloppy pile of mushy love again.  

5) One on one time is important – whether it’s with your wife or one of the kids, spending one on one time is important.  My 5 year old was a little jealous at first when she wasn’t the center of attention anymore.  I’ve tried to make it a point to spend one on one time with her to assure her that she is still important as well.  

6) you time is important as well – having to split time between three other people can be draining.  Not that’s it’s a bad thing at all, but reserving some you time is important too.  Usually after the kids go to sleep, that’s my workout time.  I unwind from the day, recharge myself, and we are good to go.

Out of all these things, none of them are bad.  I wouldn’t change any of them.  I love my family and would take any of these six things any day of the week.  Look for more fitness related posts in the near future!  I am currently training for my very first physique competition on October 1! My cutting diet is underway! Until then….AROO!

My Favorite Workout Tunes

I thought I would share something a little different in this post.  I’ve been busy lately, getting ready to open a new theater, hitting the gym hard, contemplating on getting into competition next year, etc.   Did I mention I’ve been working out a lot? Oh I did?  Well I am not the kind of guy who works out in silence.  Listening to myself grunt and moan for an hour and a half isn’t my cup of tea.  I absolutely have to listen to something other than my own breathing.  Enter Spotify.  I have my moods where I get into hardcore metal, hip hop, reggae, Maroon5 (shut up, you probably listen to them too sometimes)…but there are a few songs that are a staple every time I enter the presence of the weights.  Here are my top five workout songs!

Krewella – “Alive” –  this song single-handedly brought me through my first half-marathon.  Something about the lyrics of “all alone, just the beat inside my soul” pumps me up.  Something about being out on the course with nothing to rely on but your training, your perseverance, and your heart resonates with me.  Killer poppy/dubstep, if you haven’t listened to them, do eet, do eet now!!!

Watsky – “Moral of the Story” – this song SCREAMS that “work” is what gets you that end result.  When a songs lyrics include “I’ll f’in punch a dragon, even with the Himalayas in my way it’s gonna happen”, you know you have license to get pumped.

Skrillex – “Dirty Vibe” – what playlist would be complete without a little Skrillex?  This song gets me pumped.  I don’t know why.  I think it’s because the song goes to a half time but speeds the lyrics to double time, at the same time.  Confused? Me too.  Just listen.

Psymbionic – “One Thing” – when the bass line in this song hits, I can officially lift anything.  225, 425, 925…doesn’t matter.  The original is better than the remix version.  

Underoath – “Reinventing Your Exit” – actually anything off of the “They’re Only Chasing Safety” album.  The perfect blend of screaming with incredible singing.  This is one of my favorites off this album.  Although I could insert any of the first five tracks just as easily.  

Every now and then I will see threads on workout music or people that are looking for new songs to jam to while they do their thang.  I get that my tastes might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, these tracks are always on the playlist when I need that little something to ignite that fire in me.  Enjoy!  

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The Solution for Those That Hate Tying Their Shoes

If you’re anything like me, you hate tying your shoes.  I just hate it.  It’s an inconvenience and it’s 30 seconds I can’t afford to lose.  I would much rather slip a pair of shoes on and fly out the door.  There are many advantages to this.  Your sleep is maximized because you can lay in bed an extra 30 seconds every day.  Your risk of injury from tripping over untied laces goes down.  Plus your coolness factor goes up because…well…you own Snaplaces.

My Under Armour slip-ons are one of the most comfortable shoes I own.  Not just because of the 4D foam, but because I don’t have to worry about laces being too tight or too lose, I can just slide them on and they adjust to my foot.  So I looked at alternatives to make my shoes more convenient.  I looked at Hickies, I looked at Lock Laces, but they didn’t seem to work for me.  Then I came across Snaplaces.  

The elasticity of the product intrigued me.  I didn’t have this awkward bow that jutted out or have an awkward number or laces to string through.  They just worked.  My friends at Snaplaces were kind enough to send me a few sets of Snaplaces to try out.  I was impressed.  The set up is super easy.  You feed one set of laces through two sets of holes, the other set through the other two sets of holes, cut to the tightness you want, fasten to the clips, voila!  

Hook the laces on the other side and you have just made yourself a pair of slip-on running shoes with your preferred tightness and fit.

Snaplaces are 100% American made.  I always support American products.  They have hundreds, literally hundreds of color combinations to choose from.  When I spoke with Joseph, he asked me to send him a picture of my shoes.  He then asked me if I wanted the shoes to pop or if I wanted a more subtle look.  Of course I opted for the “pop.”  So I got these sweet neon yellow laces for my Brooks.  I used one set and put them on my wife’s shoes so she could test them.  She raves about them.  I showed my Snaplaces to my parents and my mom bought two pairs.  The convenience of your running shoes being slip-on and a perfect fit every time is awesome.  

The only complaint I have about these is that two of my clips broke.  I’m not even sure how I did it.  I just looked down and it wasn’t clipped anymore.  I contacted Snaplaces and they promptly replaced them and asked that I send back the broken ones for testing.  They said a few of the colors became brittle in the process of making them.  Plus 1,000 points for customer service!  So I got a replacement of the pair that broke plus a red pair.  The beauty of customization is that you can mix and match when you buy.  You can vary the lace color or the snap color for a truly unique look for your shoes.  I put two different color snaps on my Brooks to set them off a little. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to wear these on any training runs or any regular running races. I’m not sure I would trust them during a Spartan Race or other obstacle race.  I’d be afraid I would kick a wall and break a snap or lose them in the mud due to the slight elasticity.  However, the thought of throwing on a pair of shoes that have a little give after a race sounds great as my feet swell and throb from soreness and overuse.  So if you hate tying your shoes, love the convenience of slip-ons, or you just want a shoe that is tight but has a little give, I think you’ll really like what Snaplaces has to offer.  Give them a shot!!!  Check them out at!
*A big thank you to Snaplaces for outfitting my shoes 

**All opinions in this post are 100% my own

Elf on the Shelf Returns

It’s almost that time of year when the Elf on the Shelf is set to return.  My daughter named her Carol.  Everything revolved around Carol.  We bought her last year and I have never known of such a powerful behavior modification tool in all my years of being a psychology major.  Whenever my daughter would throw a fit, all we had to do was remind her that Carol was watching and the fit would promptly end.  She even has her own pair of Carol pajamas.  

I talked with Jo about this the other day.  I decided to test her (big mistake).  I told her, “it’s almost Christmas time, do you know what that means?”  I left this question so open-ended, she could have said anything.  She could have said “Jesus’ birthday!” or “Santa is coming” or “it’s almost time for presents!” But no!!!  The first thing out of her mouth is “Carol is coming back!”  

So it is about that time for Carol to come back from the North Pole, and by North Pole I mean my underwear drawer because who would look there?  It’s almost time for me to abandon my man card and surf Pinterest (yes Pinterest) for the latest ideas on how to creatively maneuver Carol into precarious positions.  

I have a feeling that Carol is coming back with an eye patch!  She will also be wearing a Spartan medal on occasion, this I know for sure.  Does anyone else have any ideas for Carol?  

Many parents may say, “how can you lie to your child like that? Say that Santa is real? Manipulate your child with a toy for positive behavior?”  To them I say, “I just do.” Ha!  My child has yet to ask me point blank if Santa is real.  My child has never once asked to pray to Santa.  Christmas has always been about Jesus in our household and always will be.  When Carol becomes more of a focus than the real meaning of the holidays, then she will be adopted into another home with a family that will appreciate her.  For the time being, she is a toy that is providing some holiday entertainment for everyone.  My daughter smiles so big every morning when Carol is around.  She runs into my room and drags me out of bed to show me where Carol is and what kind of sillyness she has gotten into. Stay tuned for many more stories on Carol in the coming months.  Now that I think about it, has anyone ever run a holiday Spartan with an Elf on the Shelf? That would be so awesome!
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