Category Archives: review

VARIDESK Standing Desk review from Merilee Kern

Do you spend your workday at a desk?  I do.  I know I wanted to spend less time sitting during the day.  I work at a standard desk, so sitting is a major part of my day.  I occasionally move away from the desk and set up at the dining room table as a standing desk setup. In my dream office, my current desk and a separate standing desk would be set up in an L-shape and I’d include a sofa and coffee/drink station.  

Even though my private office is in the dream planning stage, I decided to look into standing desks and found  Merilee Kern’s review of the VARIDESK Pro Plus 36″.  My dream private office layout may change a bit.  I can see the Pro Plus  30″  next to my current desk.

If you haven’t looked into a standing desk for yourself, read on to learn about  Merilee’s experience.  

VARIDESK Standing Desk a Smart Wellness Solution

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

The pitfalls of sitting too much have been well-proven, with the gravely serious risks ranging from medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity to increased mortality rates.  Prolonged sedentary time is also associated with a host of other adverse issues, including weight gain, neck and back pain and even anxiety. It’s no wonder that standing desks have become an increasingly popular way to combat these concerns.  


Even beyond mitigating actual health problems that can manifest from too much seat time, yet more research reveals that standing desks can give workers—and companies at large—an advantage by boosting productivity. In fact, one recent study by Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center School of Public Health found that stand-capable workstations did substantially improve worker productivity. Over the study’s six-month period, average worker productivity increased a full 46% over those with traditional, seated desk configurations.

Given my penchant for physical fitness and maximized output during office hours, coupled with my own fair share of chronic back pain, I jumped at the chance to test out the “Pro Plus 36” standing desk from VARIDESK, which makes various active office products all designed to counter the sedentary lifestyle. I found this model of particular interest since its 36” width can accommodate dual-monitor setups or larger workspace needs thanks to a two-tiered design. The upper surface holds one or two displays, while a separate lower keyboard/mouse deck provides ample room for tech basics and accessories.

proplus36black_49900_environment01-copyright-varideskt

When my package arrived, I was thrilled to see that the unit came out of the box fully assembled, ready to be placed right on top of my existing desk. The engineering also proved to be marvelous, with the company’s patented, spring-assisted lift mechanism allowing the device to be easily and smoothly raised and lowered in mere seconds to the desired height amid the 11 settings that are available. Also notable is that you don’t need to move or rearrange any devices or components when raising or lowering the VARIDESK. It all just moves with the system.  Impressively sturdy, this apparatus can stably hold up to 35 pounds even when extended to its full height.

Within minutes my workspace was transformed, giving me the freedom to work either standing or sitting—and to alternate between these two options with abandon. While working while standing can admittedly take some getting used to, the allure of increased energy, focus and proficiency; more calories burned; fewer body aches and pains and even a longer life span make this standing desk innovation one well worth the nominal $395 investment.


In all, VARIDESK is a sound all-in-one way to work smarter, be healthier and perform at peak levels.


~~~

“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

MAIN RT HI Tight 2
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25599350

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22890825

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16005804

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23057991

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24297826

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26088005

http://today.tamu.edu/2016/05/25/boosting-productivity-at-work-may-be-simple-stand-up/

 

Review: Orgalif Bento Lunch Box Containers

I received these containers at a discount from Tomoson.com in exchange for my honest review.  My opinions are mine and I would not recommend anything I did not believe in.

bentos

It doesn’t matter how on point your fitness game is if your fueling game is off.  Yes, your calories might be in check, but your optimal balance of protein, carbs, and fat may not be.  I log every meal, whether on plan or not.   Why?  It helps me see why I don’t make progress.  When there are more good days than bad, I either lose or maintain.  Before I started my current food plan, I noticed I reached for fat and carbs more than protein.  A lot more fat than anything else, really.  Yes, almond and sunflower butter are good, but not at the amounts I’d reach for on a daily basis. Oy!

Speaking of, I stepped up my food prep game a few weeks ago and am seeing results.

Note:  Results include increases in energy level, change in how my clothes fit, training gains, and changes on the scale.  No one result trumps or minimizes another.

I’m following the macros from Flexible Dining for Vegans and don’t feel deprived, disappointed, or hungry. One issue I do have, though, is sticking on plan when I oversleep, have back-to-back shifts, or am running around.  One thing that does help is having meals and snacks ready to go.  Instead of relying on shakes or bars for most of it (or trying to rush and fix a plate or bowl), I try to pack individual meals.  I received the opportunity to review a set of Orgalif Bento Boxes and put them right to the test.

The boxes are a good size, dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe, and the different colored lids were a plus for me. I could reach for the meal I wanted just by spotting the lid.  You know how it is when you live with other people, the fridge gets rearranged whether you want it to or not.  Knowing that these containers are full of ‘that crazy vegan food’ tends to keep the family away.   They don’t know good eating!  I took a couple from the freezer straight to the microwave with no issues.   They washed up nicely in the dishwasher, too.  They’re about perfect.  I fill them on meal prep days and am ready to go for a few meals.  The containers are not leak proof, so I use them at home exclusively.  They do fit nicely in lunch bags, so just skip sauces and gravies and things should be golden.

Orgalif offers a five year, 100% satisfaction guarantee.  Five years!  That says a lot in this disposable world.   Go get yours, risk free, and get to prepping!

Review – BarnDad’s FiberDX

I received samples of BarnDad’s Fiber DX in exchange for my honest review from Tomoson.com.  I would not recommend anything I did not care for. 

I have a love-hate relationship with fiber supplements.  I know I could use more fiber some days, but every experiment I’ve had with psyllium husk has failed.  Big time failed. Painful bloating no matter how much water I drink afterward failed. I’m not a quitter, but I think six failed attempts with different products should be a message.  But because of the family history of cardiovascular issues, I keep trying.  Experts recommend a healthy diet include a minimum of 25 and up to 50 grams of fiber per day.  Do you get enough?

barn dadI usually get my fiber boost from ground flaxseeds these days, but an opportunity arose to try something new. I’ve seen ads for BarnDad’s Fiber DX around for years, but hadn’t taken the plunge because bloating.  I read the label and saw that that BarnDad’s products use a multi-layer fiber mix, so I accepted to offer to try the supplements.  I was not disappointed.  Not really. There was slight disappointment for the dairy-free person (me), but not for the omnivore (hubby).

BarnDad suggests you have one 15 minutes or so before a meal to help keep you from overeating.  The fiber and protein also aid in keeping cholesterol down, helps regulate blood glucose and A1C levels, and speeds muscle recovery.  Because we’re rebels, we had them either in place of regular snacks or after dinner to reduce late night snacking.

Hubby had his choice between the flavored versions, new Cinnamon Bun, German Chocolate, and new Strawberry Cream.  They each have whey protein and just 80-90 calories per serving.  Yes, I was kinda jealous.  First up was the Cinnamon Bun flavor.  It has whey protein, so I could not give it a try.  Hubby was happy to give it a shot because cinnamon bun.  He stirred it the first time he tried it and thought it was okay texture-wise.  (Note:  It was smoother and creamier when blended in the Ninja the second time he had it.)  He said it tasted just like a cinnamon bun, which surprised him.  The Strawberry Cream was okay, but then again, he isn’t the biggest fan of strawberry shakes.  He thought the German Chocolate was too sweet, but he isn’t as much of a fan of German Chocolate as I am.  He just doesn’t get it.  Am I right? bard dad german choc

The only dairy-free option at this time is the Original Unflavored.  It has 11 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein in each 50 calorie serving.  I decided that plain would not do, so I added it to two of my usual shakes.  The addition did not affect the flavor or texture of my usual protein/fruit shake and was undetectable in my protein latte.  The extra fiber and protein did not bother me at all.

barn dad cinnamon

I cannot believe that any product with psyllium husk did not leave me bloated, but BarnDad’s did not. I still can’t believe it. The multi-layer fiber matrix is magical.

The verdict?  BarnDad’s FiberDX would work nicely in the daily (or almost daily) routine.  It adds a big dose of fiber and shot of protein in a yummy little package. I do wish the flavored varieties were also non-dairy so I could mix things up, but that’s not a deal breaker when it’s  so easy to use.

Give it a try for yourself.  Go to BarnDad’s website for free sample pack (shipping required), recipes, and more.  If you see it on your local store shelves, just pick up a tub and go from there.

Do you take a fiber supplement?

A tale of two headphones


I received both sets of headphones for a discounted price from Tomoson.com.  My views are my own and I would not recommend anything I did not care for. 

I have a headphone problem.  I tend to lose them myself or have them removed from my possession by my kids.  For those reasons, I try to keep a few pair on hand.  I don’t usually spend much because the kids snatch them, but lately I’ve decided to spend a little more for quality’s sake.  I have a pair from Skullcandy that I like and another pair for Yurbuds that do the trick.  What I didn’t have is a pair dedicated solely to work. When the opportunity arose to review a couple of pairs, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed in either.

First to arrive was a lovely pink pair of UiiSsi U1 In-ear earbuds.  Yes, pink, because I love pink and thought it might reduce the chances of them ending up with one of my kids.

IMG_20160218_132229

The sound quality is good and the microphone is clear whether used at my laptop or on my phone.The built-in remote worked smoothly and it was easy to control volume and song selection while on the go.  I wasn’t fond of the earbud shape, though, and they were a little difficult to put in. The cord is designed to loop around the ear or hang loose, wearer’s choice.  Looping them worked for me and they were fairly comfortable.

They were great around the house, but did not stay in well while I took laps around the neighborhood.  That was a little disappointing, but not a deal-breaker.   These are regularly priced at $9.99 and available in black, red, green, white, and the lovely pink shade I purchased.

uiisii2uiisii

The second pair I tested was from MEE audio.  The MP7 Secure-Fit Sports In-Ear Headphones are fantastic!  They’re comfortable, have great sound with a clear microphone, and fit perfectly.   The built-in remote worked well at my desk and while on a walk.  A friend didn’t realize I was using a microphone and not speaking directly into my phone during a call, which was a plus. Another plus was the semi-hard case that would keep them protected in a purse or gym bag.   There were also additional silicone tips so that the optimal fit can be found.

mee-audiomee-audio2

These are available in black, blue, green, and red at an average price of $39.99 on amazon.com and BestBuy.com.

At the end of the day, I prefer UiiSii for desk (or kitchen) use and MEE Audio for the gym or on the road.

If you’ll excuse me, I have som J-Rock to listen to while I get some kitchen prep done.

Review – Renard Compression Socks

I received a pair at a discounted price for review purposes via Tomoson.com.  My views are my own and I do not recommend anything if I don’t believe in it. 

The muscle and joint aches after a solid workout are manageable for the most part until the next day.  That’s when I really feel it, especially after leg day.  Foam rolling, stretching, and muscle rub just don’t do enough after ambitious leg days. Add in the misfiring pain messages (thanks, Fibromyalgia) and Arthritis and I want to skip leg day for weeks. I wear a compression sleeve on my knee and wrap on my ankle when the pain gets bad, but had not considered compression socks until after the 5K in January.  I loved how good my back and shoulders felt after the run/walk and I think the compression top likely played a role.  I know the support for my knee and ankle made a difference, too. renard off

I’ve checked prices on compression socks and leg sleeves and decide I could try them later.  You know, when my wallet felt heavier. I was approached with an offer to purchase my first pair of compression socks at a deep discount and figured it couldn’t hurt.  I am now officially in love with Renard Compression Socks. Sorry, hubby.

Why Renard Compression Socks?  According to Renard (and others), they provide muscle support and functionality, increase blood circulation, inhibit accumulation of lactic acid, all of which reduce soreness after a workout.  I decided to put them to the test while lifting, walking, and in general when a pain flare kicked in.  I felt like I could go further while walking and hit the 4 mile mark at close to a 4 mph pace.  I felt it in my shins and calves while speeding up, but that feeling was fleeting and did not result in excessive soreness or pain the next day.  My feet were also dry thanks to the breathable Nylon/Spandex blend.

I tried them a second time on leg day.  Oh, man, was it leg day.  There were squats, lunges, and deadlifts for what felt like days.  I finished with a good stretch and put my feet up afterward.  I expected pain the next day, but did not feel as much as I expected.  Renard promises calf and shin support and I had it. My thighs, however, were not as pleased.  Then again, they were not covered by compression gear. 

IMG_20160220_013948

On the third try, it was just a pain flare day.  My ankles were swelling and I had leg cramps.  I decided to slip on the compression socks to see if they would reduce the pain in my legs so I could sleep.  They did!  I felt a reduction in ankle pain and the leg cramps seemed to fade.  Compression socks were like a constant massage – a gentle, yet effective massage.  I felt fantastic the next morning and couldn’t believe the difference that type of support made.

Like I said, I’m now in love with Renard Compression Socks.  The best part, they’re on sale right now for $15.99 a pair on Amazon and they fit over my healthy runner’s calves.

Do you use compression gear?  What is your favorite type?

Product review: Vino Mio Foldable Wine Bottle

I received the Vino Mio Foldable Wine Bottle for free to review via Tomoson.com.  My views are my own and I do not recommend anything if I don’t believe in it.

I don’t always take wine with me wherever I go, but when I wanted to in the past, I had to either deal with bottles or a box.  You know you found a box of Franzia either at your place or served at a party back in the day.  While boxed varieties have improved over the years, I still haven’t found one that makes me happy.  I don’t drink much wine, but when I do, I want a glass of good Pinot Grigio or Zinfandel with dinner or dessert.

Did you know that there are events around Charleston that allow attendees to bring alcohol?  The biggest – and my favorite – is the Spoleto Finale held at Middleton Place every summer. I’ve taken a bottle or three before, but worried about breakage the entire time.  A box just didn’t feel right and reminded me of the old days when money was tight and my youthful taste buds only wanted the wine ‘warmth’ and not the flavor.

Instead of mediocre box or fumbling with bottles, I now have the option of filling up a bottle with my wine of choice.  Thank you, Vino Mio Foldable Wine Bottles!  I wouldn’t have thought of filling my own bottles before finding these.  The bottles are tiny when empty, but don’t let that fool you.  The Vino Mio refillable bottles each hold a full 750 ml bottle of wine. Filling them takes a little patience the first time around. Don’t wait until the last minute because you have to fill the bottles a little at a time and force the air bubbles out as you go.

Vino Mio bottles

I’m tickled by the label.  “Possibly Quality Wine?”  In my younger years, ‘possibly’ was the truth.  Each package includes a bottle with a red or white-type of label so you can take one of each style with you wherever you go.

These bottles are BPA-free, re-usuable, flexible, and foldable or rollable, making them easy to put away when it’s time to go.  The tiny size means they don’t take up much space in the kitchen, either.
I can take my favorites with me instead of making do with one I don’t particularly care for or worrying about broken glass. I cannot wait to use them again during next year’s finale.

Want a pair of your own?  Two Vino Mio Foldable Wine Bottles are just $13.99 on Amazon.com.  Shipping is free for Amazon Prime users.  Cassani Company stands behind its product with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  It’s a hassle-free lifetime guarantee; that says a lot.

Drink responsibly.  Follow the local laws about public alcohol consumption and leave the beach, park, or picnic area as nice as you found them.  Don’t be that guy.

Review: Ozeri WeightMaster Digital Bath Scale with BMI and Weight Differential Detection

I try to avoid the scale. I know, weight is a measure of health (so they say), and there’s a scale hop required at every doc’s visit and one at the physical therapist’s office.  We always had a scale growing up and for some reason were expected to have one.  I didn’t have one during my single days and didn’t care, but for some reason just had to have one once the life with hubs, kids, and dogs started.  For some reason I felt like we needed one.

I hate the scale in general.  It mocks me when I think I look smaller and feel lighter.  It jumps out from under the bed and kicks me in the toe.  It calls to me when I ignore it for too long, taunting me.  Yes, I’m aware it may not happen that way, but it feels like it.

I had the opportunity to move on up to a prettier, less bossy scale and jumped at the chance. The timing was perfect because physical therapy was in full swing and so was my tweaked eating plan.  I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add something else new
to the mix, even if it was as intimidating as a scale. The Ozeri WeightMaster Digital Bath Scale with BMI and Weight Differential Detection has a long name, sleek look,  and nice features.

See, I told you it was attractive.
See, I told you it was attractive.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the package is how attractive the scale is. This baby is a nice-looking slab of
tempered glass with non-slip pads that are gentle on my hardwood floor.  It came with batteries (nice) and clear instructions on
setting up separate profiles for multiple users.  The Weight Differential Detection tracks changes from your last weigh in,
and averages of the last three and seven weigh-ins.  How cool is that?  I like this feature because I can accurately track my
results alone.  Granted I had to teach the family to switch between profiles, but that was no biggie – when they paid attention.

The WeightMaster accepts weight up to 400 pounds.  I don’t want to need that weight limit, but it’s nice to have that option.  It also measures Body Mass Index (BMI), but honestly I try to ignore BMI measures myself because it doesn’t paint a clear picture of health.
I do love the Color Alert Technology which displays a green light for a loss and red light for gain.  If I wanted to gain weight, I might find this annoying.  But I’m all about gains in health and losses in fat and pants size.

I almost bought a different scale, but am glad the Ozeri WeightMaster fell into my lap.  Not only is it accurate (compared to the doc’s scale) and attractive, it’s engineered and manufactured in the USA.  More companies need to stay here instead of trying to move out of the country (I’m  looking at you, Burger King). Ozeri stands behind their products with a 100% Hassle-Free Satisfaction Guarantee. Pick up the WeightMaster in (black or white) or check out Ozeri’s other scales.  I won’t get on the scale more often, but when I do, it will be the WeightMaster.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

skinny-jan-bag

Review: Skinny Jane 7 Day Quick Start

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

You know I like my shakes and smoothies.  They’re a quick and easy way to get a nice dose of protein, good carbs, and good fat in a portable format.  I was selected to review a 7 day sample of Skinny Jane’s Quick Slim Kit and decided to give it a chance.  It’s only a week, right?

For seven days, my day started with Skinny Jane Burn, then a shake, two mini meals, Skinny Jane Cleanse, then dinner.  If the routine seems familiar, it’s similar to one many of us followed years ago.

Skinny Jane’s Skinny Blend Weight Loss Shake is $39.99 for a 30 shake bag and available in Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Banana.  The whey protein shake blended well and had no chalky texture or aftertaste.  Each serving has 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, ad 12 grams of protein. 
Skinny Burn, also $39.95, is a powerful supplement that combines raspberry ketones, green tea, caffeine, and other ingredients proven to help boost the metabolism ad burn fat.  I didn’t feel jittery and had no problem swallowing the capsules.

Skinny Cleanse is $29.95 for a 30 capsules.  The cleanse is effective and might catch you off guard if you’re switching from a primarily lower fiber way of eating.  I generally get a minimum of 50-60 grams of fiber daily and still felt it.

As for the meal plan, I wasn’t convinced.  Low calorie plans have bitten me in the butt before, but I was willing to try for a few days.  I had to go back to my usual way of eating after the first day.  I was too cranky and hungry to live with. I kept my menu clean and within my usual calorie range.

At the end of seven days, I’d lost 2 pounds.  That isn’t too shabby for someone like me who tends to hold onto weight like crazy, especially when fitness is off the table.  If I’d followed the eating plan, I may have lost more.

If you’d like to give Skinny Jane a try, visit SkinnyJane.com and check out the shop.  The 28 day Weight Loss Challenge Kit is $119 and includes the shake, supplements, goal card, t-shirt, and SkinnyMap.  The SkinnyMap is the program guide complete with meal plans, a fast food guide, motivational tools, and more.

Get a chance to win a kit for yourself.  Just leave a comment about your quest for better health.  
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.