Bold Vigor

Be bold, become an active force of healthy growth. Find information and resources for fitness, health and positive habits on the Bold Vigor BLOG site.

Basis Peak adds smartwatch features but keeps fitness focus

Jonah Comstock writing for MobiHealthNews.com:

Perhaps most impressively, with the new Basis Peak, the company has solved a persistent problem with their much-advertised heart rate tracking feature. The Basis Band has always been able to measure optical heart rate at rest, but during exercise the optical sensor jostled too much to reliably deliver a reading. By using a raised berm around the optical sensor and tighter fitting straps, the Peak is able to block out the ambient light and movement distortion that normally obscure the readings.

This sounds interesting. I nearly purchased the Basis B1 after it came out but held off when I learned that it couldn’t track heart rate effectively during exercise. If the Basis Peak does so it could be a good option for those interested in fitness tracking. I look forward to it’s release and subsequent reviews in November to see if they’ve really solved the heart rate monitoring issues.

Food Dyes and ADHD

Michael Greger, M.D. writing for NutritionFact.org:

Years ago I featured a landmark study in my video Are Artificial Colors Bad for You?, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge in perhaps the most prestigious medical journal in the world. It showed that artificial colors increased “inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity among young children.” So what happened? Well, the British government said, OK, there’re no health benefits to these dyes, only health risks, so it’s a no-brainer. They mandated that food manufacturers remove most of the artificial food colors from products. In fact, the whole European Union said that if manufacturers want to keep using the dyes, then they have to put a warning label stating: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Many international food companies have taken them out of their products in Europe, but continue to use them in the same products here in the U.S. where similar regulations are not currently in place.

It is appalling what large companies in the U.S are able to get away… and yet, change won’t happen until we, as individuals, take responsibility to educate ourselves and to alter our eating habits. I had no idea prior to this article how prevalent dyes are in processed foods. Knowledge is power but it is only a start. It takes a lot of time to learn and to alter habits. It’s challenging but it can be done. Here is proof and a great resource to help you get started: 100 Days of Real Food.

Accuracy of fitness bands tested; reserachers find way to correct self-report errors

From a Science Daily post based on research from Iowa State University:

Gregory Welk, a professor of kinesiology, says a majority of the devices provided reasonably accurate estimates (within 10 to 15 percent) of calories burned. The BodyMedia FIT was the top performer with a 9.3 percent error rating, which is comparable to research models, Welk said. The Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One were next with a 10.1 and 10.4 percent error rating, respectively. Here is how the other monitors performed: Jawbone Up (12.2 percent), Actigraph (12.6 percent), Directlife (12.8 percent), Nike Fuel Band (13.0 percent) and Basis Band (23.5 percent).

Yikes, calling 10% error rating "reasonably accurate" seems generous. For a two thousand calorie diet, that's 200 calories. A significant difference for someone trying to get in shape and/or loose weight. 

As I noted in my Misfit Shine review, even the location in which you wear a fitness tracking device can cause significant differences for the same activity. Until this is fixed, and accuracy is within a percentage point or two, fitness trackers will be little more than a motivational device to help get you moving. 

On a side note, I was really surprised to see the Basis Band have such a high error rate. With its extra sensors I'd have expected it to be more accurate than the others.

Get Out and Go, Enjoy Your Fitness

Often we treat exercise as a task, as something we have to do. Some of us dread it despite the benefits. While others of us constantly push ourselves to do more: heavier, longer, faster. We complain about the time it takes. About a seeming lack of results. About aches and pains. We might look for ways to avoid exercise. Excuses. Maybe its become a chore we'd rather avoid. It doesn't have to be though. There is more to exercise than heart rate and calorie burn. Consider this story about Charlie...

Charlie went to the perimeter of his office building and starred out the window. Bright sunlight illuminated the pale blue sky. Several stories down people wandered about, some on quick errands but many just out enjoying the day. Most seemed calm. At ease. Content to linger outside away from their cubicles and computer screens. Charlie turned his attention inward. He felt sore, tired. Though he’d been working out an a regular basis again, today his body barked its discomfort. I should rest today, he thought. My body needs it. He'd planned this as a recovery day so didn't feel bad about missing a workout. Still... the day...it was a beautiful day. 

Charlie hesitated a moment, conflicted. What the hell, he thought. I'll take it slow and easy. Walk if I have too. He had the opportunity to exercise at work because his company had a small fitness center. Sometimes he took advantage.

He stepped outside and basked in the warm sunlight. Charlie walked for a bit and just enjoyed the day. A cool, refreshing breeze contrasted with the warm sunlight and made for perfect conditions. He listened to the rustling of leaves and to the hum of chatting voices. Birds tweeted. White puffy clouds dotted the blue sky. Charlie grinned. He walked a bit longer and then started to jog. He had an app to track his workouts but he left it in his locker. Pace. Distance. None of it mattered today. He settled into an easy pace, not strenuous or challenging, comfortable. He ran for the joy of exercising outside on a beautiful day. 

Fitness sites often focus on how to get leaner, stronger, faster and offer fitness and nutritional advice on how to do so. At its core though, fitness should be fun. There is no better way to build a positive habit than to enjoy what you do. For Charlie that means getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. What is it for you? If you haven't found it yet, keep searching. It's out there.

National Running Day 2014: Here's How You Can Celebrate The World's Oldest Sport

As reported by Janissa Delzo on Medical Daily. This is a terrific idea! You exercise and charities benefit. Win, win:

The holiday has been celebrated the first Wednesday of June since 2009. This year, National Running Day has teamed up with Charity Miles. Charity Miles allows you to earn money for charity when you walk, run, or bike. Download the free Charity Miles app on your iPhone or Android, choose the charity you want to support, and start moving. Every mile logged produces a donation toward your selected charity. Runners can earn 25 cents per mile for any of the following charities: Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Stand Up to Cancer, Wounded Warrior Project, and many others.

I planned to get out for a short run this evening to celebrate National Running Day, but pushed it a bit futher after learning about this!

Apple Steps into the Health Arena with Health app

Apple introduced a new Health app for users and Healthkit SDK for developers and in so doing likely solved one major problem in the wearable fitness device market. Fragmentation. There are other problems, but fragmentation is one of the biggest. Dozens of companies now make wearable fitness trackers and watches and many more make apps that can be used with an iPhone. While a few companies are working together to find ways to consolidate data, most are proprietary, making it near impossible to get an accurate health picture. 

As an example, consider my experience over the past few years. I’ve used multiple fitness apps. I’ve used a running watch that gathers data in conjunction with a shoe pod. I’ve used a multi-sport GPS watch. And most recently I’ve used a motion based fitness tracker. All had plusses and minuses but one of the biggest issues is that the data is scattered across multiple apps and devices. That’s a problem when you switch devices, or when you want to use a speciality device for a specific thing like sleep tracking or, in my case, when you lose the device. I recently lost a Misfit Shine fitness tracker and now all that data is stuck in the Shine app. In the current state of the industry it is near impossible to gain insight into personal health and fitness trends, in large part because of that fragmentation. 

So, having one app that the others can pass information to as a ‘health hub’ is a nice solution and a great first step for Apple. Provided device manufactures get on board, it won’t matter which device I use because any that I choose will pass information to Apple’s Health app.  And I’ll always have access to that information so will finally be able to gain insight from the data. 

There are potential issue of course, it’s possible that device manufactures won’t get on board. However, provided the app is intuitive and presents data in a way that is helpful and easy to understand my guess is that many people will want to take advantage. Since good design and usability are hallmarks of Apple products,I’d be surprised if it weren’t the case with the Health app. Assuming it is the case, I’d be willing to bet that most major players will be on board by the time the Health app is available in the fall. 

Thing is, while potentially solving the fragmentation problem is great for the industry, I think the real game-changer with the Health app is the potential to communicate vitals and data with physicians. In an example that included the Mayo Clinical they talked about passing information back in forth between a patient and doctor. Imagine the possibilities if physicians, dietitians or personal trainers had access to the data the Health app can collect. We’d all benefit through individualized health and fitness programs that are based on real data and not just our anecdotal perceptions. There is huge potential here and it could be that it is component that helps Apple disrupt the health and fitness industries. 

Now if there was only a great device that could continuously capture all that data and pass it on to the Health app…

Two hundred thousand stars

Two hundred billion stars. That’s an estimate for the Milky Way galaxy.  At least 200 billion. There is also estimated to be over 100 billion galaxies. I’m no math major and a quick attempt for an answer from my calculator just gives me some funky five digit answer that includes letters and symbols. I take it to mean awful lot.

I know of the number of stars because of a recent article I read by Phil Plait over on Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog. His post was actually about a picture of a small cut of the Milky Way galaxy in which he estimates there to be some 200,000 stars in the picture. It’s a magnificent picture and an interesting story. 

Personally, I don’t care much about the number of stars in the picture or in the galaxy for that matter. You lose me in the millions somewhere. After that you’re pretty much talking a different language. It’s like trying to decipher the number of drops of water in the ocean or the number of gains of sand on the beach. I know there is a real number. You could even tell me what it is. I just can’t quite comprehend what it actually means. 

Anyway, I don’t look at the picture and wonder how many stars are in it. I look at it and wonder about life. About how remarkable it is that our tiny little planet is orbiting our tiny little star. About our insignificance. I wonder how many of those 200 billion stars have planets orbiting them and how many of those planets support life. And of those that do, what is that life like? Do they make stuff? Do they have religions? Governments? Do they view the universe as we do or are they wired in a way so that their perspective is completely different than ours? Do they think they’re all alone?

My mind wanders through options. Possibilities. At some point it lands on the notion that we are alone in the universe. Nothing else is out there wondering because there is nothing else. I mean, what if? What if, despite all those stars and all those potential planets, none of them support life. It seems unlikely. But then again, doesn’t life seem unlikely in the first place?  

My perspective changes. All of a sudden we aren’t so insignificant. As the only life bearing planet in the entire universe we are suddenly extremely significant. If we fail. Life fails. If life fails then what's the point of it all? If there is nobody to gaze at the stars and wonder what if. Then what?  

Anyway, thinking in that manner makes me want to change. At least for a short while. All of a sudden, certain things seem less important. Cars. Mortgages. The accumulation of stuff. What seems important is advancing life. Managing our planet so as to preserve it as long as possible. Learning. Growing. 

Increasingly it seems that our focus, both individually and as a species, is short-term. We’re like water bugs darting over the surface of a pond. I get it. I'm darting all about too. Chasing stuff. Everyday. And I want everything now. It’s hard to wait. Life is short. 

But in the fast is best, instant everything world we’ve created the long-term perspective is suffering. I mean, a person doesn’t become an expert in a day. An astronomer doesn’t know everything the first time they gaze at the stars. A person isn’t fit the first time they exercise. It takes lots of trying. Failing. Little successes. It takes persistence. After all, it took nearly 14 billion years to get here.

Vested Interest

It’s interesting, the perspective when you don’t have a vested interest in an outcome. No subjective nor emotional connection. No concern of consequences. You’re just a curious observer viewing an event. It’s not necessarily worse but not better either. Just different. 

Take the recent call at the end of the Clippers, Thunder game discussed in an article by Ben Golliver on Sports Illustrated as a for instance. I read the story. Watched the video clip. Sure, the evidence from replay is pretty convincing that the ball…blah, blah, blah. 

The reality is that the Clippers let a seven point lead slip away in fifty seconds. That the correct call was a Clippers player fouling a Thunder player. That there were numerous calls, non-calls, and plays in the course of the game that affected the outcome. The reality is that those with a vested interest don’t care about the reality. Their’s is a subjective opinion. Of a sporting event. No big deal. As a sports fan I’ve held the subjective opinion many, many times. 

Here I could roll into an opinion on how Doc Rivers knows this. On how he is a smart and experienced coach that is using the situation to deflect away from the fact that his team blew a big lead in a little time. Using it to rally his team. Fostering the “it’s us against the world” mentality to help inspire them in the remaining games. Probably he is. 

Like the outcome of the game though, I don’t care. It’s the broader implications I gravitate towards. The notion of how a vested interest affects are view of things. Of how we react. Make decisions. Every day. Decisions about health, fitness, work, parenting, relationships. Life decisions. Are you subjective or objective? Do you make excuses based on one questionable call when there were hundreds of different things that affected the final outcome?

Emotion. Belief. Powerful things that can lift us to achieve beyond our seeming capability or limit us to quit before achieving that which we are capable. They can cause us to rant about seeming injustice or to rise above the mediocre. Powerful or limiting. Your decision. 

Don’t lose the emotion. Don’t waver in belief. Just see the objective in the discretionary.

Chasing Rainbows

Do you chase rainbows? Stare off into the distance and want of something different. Better. New. Do you search for where the rainbow meets the land? 

It seems so easy. There. Just down the street or over that ridge or behind those trees. Riches. Right there. So close we can reach out and grab hold. Almost. We hear the stories; know it happens. If it can for others why not for us.

Do you catch glimpses of others lives and wonder how they can have it so good? Posted pictures of smiling kids and fun vacations. One hundred and forty character descriptions of a recent achievement or a successful new endeavor. 

Do you chase rainbows but find that when you get there, it isn’t? No magical, mystical place with multicolored light. No pot of gold. No brand new you. Just another vantage to where the rainbow might be. Just over that hill. There. Right there. 

Are you formulating an idea about a message in this post? Something to the affect of stop chasing rainbows, there is no pot of gold. Buck up and get on with your life. Stop whining. That’s not it. I like chasing rainbows. Dreaming dreams. I don’t want to stop and wouldn’t suggest that anyone else should either. The message is subtle and direct. Stop measuring against fragments of others and put in the work. Me. I’ve long focused on the wrong things. Got caught up in the challenges like lack of time, lack of inspiration, priorities beyond my control. Excuses. I know the excuses. 

The thing is that magic can happen. Just not magically. It takes effort. Hard work. Those that get there do so by building positive habits. By following a process. By maintaing focus. Problem is most of us want it quick. And when we get it we want to be done and on to the next thing. A diet. A fitness plan. A get rich quick scheme. It doesn’t work like that though. Not for most of us anyway. 

It’s one day at a time. A step or two each day. Constant, consistent effort. That’s how it works. It’s taken me a long time to learn that. Heck, I’m still working on it. At least I recognize the excuses now anyway. 

You might never reach the rainbow. It’s unlikely. Maybe impossible. But who cares? When you get to where you think it is, stop. Look around. Realize how far you’ve come, then continue on. You might just find that it isn’t about the riches but rather about the chase.

4 “Heart Healthy” Foods That Can Clog Your Arteries (#4 is Worst)

Kris Gunnars writing for Authority Nutrition:

The manufacturers often add labels like “whole grain” with the purpose of deceiving people into thinking that their products are healthy.

However… usually, these “whole” grains have been pulverized into very fine flour and have pretty much the same effects on your blood sugar and metabolism as their refined counterparts.

These cereals, including the healthy looking ones, are also usually loaded with refined sugar, although the manufacturers often use clever tricks to hide the true amount of sugar in their products.

Sugar, sugar everywhere. Nothing on this list is too surprising but cereal, say it isn't so. Ok, so I've known that many cereals are unhealthy but darn they are a quick and easy breakfast option. As a compromise we’ve focused on cereals with less than 10 grams of sugar per bowl but even with that much sugar it eliminates a lot of options. Add to that the information in this article on the negative effects of how how many cereals are made and it is just one more processed food that should be cut from a persons diet. Personally, this one will be hard but as of today I’m focused on a morning smoothie. It’s quick and easy to make, I have control over the ingredients and they are tasty. Win, win, win! Tomorrow morning I’m giving this smoothie a try:

1/2 cup frozen cranberries
1/2 of an avocado
1 gram cracker
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 and 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk. 

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Misfit Shine Review

Snapshot: Fitness trackers are growing in popularity, but are they worth the investment? In this review I’ll provide insight on my experience with the Misfit Shine. While this is not a comparison between fitness trackers (the Shine is the only fitness tracker that I’ve used) I did use the product daily for an extended period of time. 

Buy Recommendation: Usage dependent. If you are just looking to gain some insight and motivation for your everyday activity then the Misfit Shine is a good option. If you want something that provides an accurate overall fitness picture, including your workout activity then skip it. 

What’s Good:
•    Waterproof
•    Nice Design
•    Tracks Multiple Activities
•    Intuitive App
•    Stores data for later syncing with phone app

What’s Bad:
•    Questionable data
•    Spotty ‘tap’ system for on device feedback
•    Limited, proprietary data view option
•    And…

I lost my Shine. Sad, I know. Made even more so by the fact it had become a part of my daily routine. A confidant. A quiet motivator to get up and moving. Yes, the shine in question is the Misfit Shine fitness tracker. 

About the size of three quarters stacked, the Shine is attractive and unobtrusive. Definite selling points if design is important to you. However, one of the Shines’ biggest strengths is also a weakness.  See, the Shine has a grove in its center that allows it to be moved to different types of holders. As of now they have a wristband, a necklace and a clip that can be used on shoelaces or a pocket or a shirt collar or any other creative place you can think to clip it (the wristband and clip come with the device and the necklace is sold separately). A nice design feature is that the clip is held in place by a magnet. The device itself has a metal casing and the clip a magnet so, snap, a functional clip with a variety of options. In theory this flexibility is great, except when its not. That’s where my tracking ends and my story begins. 

On a cold but bright early spring day, my family and I made a short trek to an indoor water park.  A mini vacation to escape the harsh midwest winter that refuses to give way to spring. I wore my Shine that day, unconcerned about the potential hazards. Confident in the manufacturers waterproof claim. Months earlier, shortly after I’d received the Shine (it was a gift) I’d worn it in a pool to see how it worked while swimming laps for exercise. The Shine has activity tags that include: cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball, and soccer (along with the default running/walking tag).  The swimming tag worked (more on tags and specifically data from tags soon) as did the waterproofing. Sadly though the flexible wear benefit became a liability. 

At the water park, the family and I coasted in the lazy river, and rushed down water slides. We relaxed in the humid warmth pretending that we were on an oceanside beach. I was curious how the Shine would track my activity that day but once at the water park I didn’t give it a second thought. Not once did I try to tap the device to compare my activity to my daily goal. About the tapping. The Shine has a smooth surface with little dots on it, like numbers on a watch. If you tap the device twice quickly it will show you, based on LED lights under those dots, your daily activity and then the current time. A triple tap will switch the activity to a mode different from the default (you predetermine what mode that will be in the app). The tapping works, but not perfectly. It often takes a few tries. The point is that I was mostly unconcerned about the days activity and the Shine was content being ignored.

So much so that when my wife pointed in concern at my wrist that afternoon I was momentarily dumbfounded by the hole in the band. A quick search of my surrounding area confirmed the obvious. My shine was gone. Lost. I did retrace my steps and poked around the end of the water slides but to no avail. Likely it had come off in a water rush on one of the slides but I had no idea which one. I checked the lost and found but if anyone stumbled on it, they kept it for themselves. I imagine it on it’s own little activity trek, through drainpipes and into the filtration system under the park. 

Now you could argue that I shouldn’t have worn it to the water park in the first place. To me though it kind of defeats the purpose of a fitness tracker if you can’t wear it everywhere you go. That’s a reason I wanted a waterproof option. But that's the thing with the Shine, and with most fitness trackers, it is all about tradeoffs.

For instance, I ran the same amount of time at the same speed on a treadmill on two different occasions. One time I wore the Shine on my wrist while the other I wore it on my shoe. I tried this experiment because I'd worn the Shine cycling and the points, and calories burned, seemed skewed compared to similar amounts of time running. I guessed that it was because I wore the Shine on my shoe while cycling (as suggested by the manufacturer). Sure enough, the numbers were significantly different on my two runs. A 41 minute run with the Shine in the wristband netted me 734 points and a very active badge, while the 41 minute run with the Shine on my shoe netted me 1231 points and the same very active badge. Quite significant. And really, what good is wearing it on different spots if you just end up with skewed data?

When you get down to it, that is the fatal flaw of fitness trackers. They are motion sensors with software that tries to put that motion into the perspective of steps or points or fuel or whatever the manufacturer dreams up to motivate you. No matter how good the sensor or the software, they are still only tracking motion. One item. And a subjective one at that. In the Shine's case the software seems fine and the app is both intuitive and useful in the information it provides. But I won't be replacing it. Not with another Shine or with any fitness tracker. The technology is still too limited to effectively track daily activity and workout activity and I want something that does both. And both well. 

There is just nothing on the market that provides that blend of software, sensors and design to make it worth it to me to replace the Shine. Yet anyway…

Consumers most unsatisfied with poor voice control, bad speakers in current smart watches

Appleinsider reports on a satisfaction study from current smart watch users:

Users view smart watches primarily as an extension of their smartphone rather than a standalone device, the report concludes. This leads to frustration when even simple operations — such as receiving notifications — fail, forcing users to pull out their pocket devices when they may prefer not to.

Users view ‘smart’ watches as an extension of their phones because manufactures are making them that way. That’s not smart. That’s a dumb watch that relays information from a smartphone. A phone that is already in your pocket or purse. For the average user there might be a couple times a month when that would actually come in handy. Otherwise, overkill. There in lies the problem. If you want to appeal to a broad audience of everyday users you need to give them more than a relay device. That’s why I believe any wearable device from Apple will work with an iPhone and also independently of one.

The Pinnacle of Fitness Failure: Samsung’s Gear Fit Activity Tracker

Ray Maker writing about the Samsung Gear Fit activity tracker on his DC Rainmaker site:

When I look at functionality as an activity monitor, it sorta works on the device, but mind-bogglingly doesn’t send that data anywhere.  How is it that in the age of connected everything, this doesn’t transmit the single thing it’s designed to do?  Dear 1985, they’d like your clicky little cereal box step-pedometer back.

Looking at the sports angle, the optical sensor is on a good day, barely half-functional.  And thus, there’s really no point in using it.  Further, as I saw in my testing the unit just pulls calorie metrics from a lottery system.  How is it that I run nearly 8 miles and only burn 285 calories

Ouch. This is from a couple weeks ago and still, ouch. I’ve perused quite a few reviews on the DC Rainmaker site. They are always extremely detailed and quite helpful for making buying decisions. While this review is no exception, I was surprised at the unfavorable conclusion. Not from the review standpoint, every complaint seems spot on based on the information provided. Rather from the product standpoint. The cynic in me sides with John Gruber at Daring Fireball on this one.  

Here’s the thing. Even if Samsung iterates on this product quickly, fixes the optical sensor issue and the plethora of software issues, I still wouldn’t buy the device because of this one key point:

Of course, for many, the single biggest hurdle will be that it only works with Samsung devices.  Thus, without a Samsung phone/tablet, the device won’t show a single thing beyond ‘Connect your phone’.

Even if it worked with any phone or tablet (not just specific Samsung devices) I still wouldn’t purchase this product. Really, who wants a wearable device that is only an extension of a smartphone? From a fitness perspective I want to be able to leave my phone behind and still gain the valuable insight a sports watch, and to a lesser degree a fitness tracker, can provide. Sure, it should sync with a phone, tablet and/or computer but it needs to work independently. Some, like the Fitbit or the Misfit Shine (see my review here), do so but are limited in functionality. My preference is for one device that is easy to use, can work with a phone or tablet but also independently of another device, and at the very least includes motion detection, GPS and a heart rate sensor. Maybe something like, oh, I don’t know, an iWatch…

What's Cooking! Music To My Ears Review

First things first, the music worked wonders! Ok, so I’d be lying if I said it made me love going to the grocery store. I certainly didn’t run home and offer to grocery shop every week. But, it did make the experience better. Without the normal angst. Almost pleasant even. As soon as I parked the car I fired up the tunes and headed on in. I opted to shuffle all of my music by The National. They have a great mix of music, with a fair amount of dark, melancholy songs that somehow worked great at the grocery store. It was like being on a sedative. I felt so calm as I worked my way through the store. I found it a bit ironic that while searching for the only item on my list that I struggled to find the song “Hard To Find” started playing. It made me smile. It feels good that I’ve made the first step towards a better grocery shopping experience. 

Unfortunately much of that good mojo was lost when it came to actually making the meals I planned. It wasn’t my fault. Really. It was the weather. It changed. Messed up my plans to cook the ribs on Sunday. Everything spiraled out of control from there. 

Ok, I’m blaming. The weather was bad on Sunday, but I knew it was coming far enough in advance so that I was able to get to the store on Saturday and still could have made the ribs. I chickened out though (ha, chickened out of making ribs). Two hours of cooking on the grill seemed like a daunting task. Plus making and applying a rub and sauce. I was in over my head. So instead I stopped at our local meat store and bought pre-cooked ribs. I have to say they were delicious. Everyone gave them a thumbs up. And so easy. Still, I plan to make amends on this one. Maybe Memorial Day weekend.

As for the Grilled Chicken and Green Chili Soup I did actually go through with this one but I messed it up a little bit. I tried to double the recipe but not double the hot peppers. It ended up a little bland. I also got a bit too much rice in the mix so had to add water so it wasn’t so thick. It was still edible but I think it would have been much better if I didn’t get caught in my vicious circle of improvisation. Oh well, better luck next time.

10 healthy eating apps this nutritionist loves

Cynthia Sass writing on CNN Health:

What doesn't this app do? Fooducate's database contains over 200,000 products, each with a letter grade based on nutritional value, along with things to know about a product (like if it contains any artificial additives), and healthy alternatives. Using your phone's camera, you can also scan a product's UPC code to access quick info.

Recently, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to labels, but it is mostly around sugar content. As a side note, it is crazy how much sugar is added to products that you’d expect little or no sugar. I purchased barbecue sauce last weekend and in the few items I picked up sugar content ranged from 5 grams to 23 grams. 

My attention to labels has opened up a whole new world of ingredients many of which I can’t even pronounce let alone know anything about.I haven’t tried any of the apps on this list but will be in the near future. One of the great things about having a computer in your pocket wherever you go is being able to make informed decisions. These apps will definitely help improve my decision making in the grocery store. I’m most looking forward to giving the Fooducate and Chemical Cuisine apps a try.