The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Adidas ClimaLite Running Shirt

I recently bought an Adidas ClimaLite running shirt for my early morning summer jogs. This shirt is made from Adidas’ version of moisture-wicking/quick-dry fabric, and is supposed to be highly breathable and cool even when temperatures rise. I was originally planning to buy UnderArmour, but the sports store had a sale on these Adidas shirts so I got two for the price of one UA shirt. Was it a good deal?

Actually, yes, I think my purchase turned out very well. The ClimaLite running shirt is very lightweight, which was quite a change from the cotton t-shirts I had been running in. And, they really are quick-drying, which makes me feel a whole lot better during long runs. To be sure, the shirts do get wet, but they don’t get soaked or stay wet the way regular t-shirts do.

There’s not much else to say about the shirt. It’s cool, comfortable, lightweight, and doesn’t chafe… aren’t those pretty much the highlights for a product like this? Anyway, I give this Adidas ClimaLite running shirt a thumbs up, and will definitely be buying more gear from them in the future!

Roomba 530 Vacuum Robot

We love gadgets in our house, so it was only a matter of time before we bought a Roomba vacuum robot. These things have been around for a few years now, and though I had my eye on them when they first hit the market, I wanted to wait to give the manufacturer a chance to work out the inevitable bugs before spending money on the thing.

Good thing I did. When comparing reviews from 2008 to 2011, it seems there has been significant improvement in the product. The manufacturer proclaims that the robot now has better navigation, cleaning coverage, and particle pickup, and from what I’ve seen firsthand, I would have to agree. I’ve been using this item for about a month, and like it even more than I initially thought I would.

Pros:

  • Very easy to use. You simply push the start button and let the Roomba go.
  • The on-board navigation is very good. My Roomba has not once gotten stuck, which means I don’t even have to monitor the thing when it’s working.
  • Good cleaning capabilities. While I wouldn’t say this product picks up as much dust, dirt, and pet hair as my full-size Dyson, it is incredibly effective as a sweeper when I want a quick (rather than a deep) clean.
  • The virtual walls are helpful in establishing barriers and preventing the robot from getting into trouble.

Cons:

  • The battery life leaves something to be desired. I would say the robot can work for about 2 hours before needing a charge, which isn’t long enough for my tastes.
  • It takes a long time for the Roomba to cover even a small room. I think the product would be much more effective if there were some kind of initial mapping feature where I could use a remote control to steer the robot around the room as it internally maps the area. Then I could let it loose and it would cover the same path that I just “drove” it over, making for a much quicker job of it.
  • It’s a bit louder than I expected. I realize it’s a vacuum and is gonna make some noise, but it’s pretty loud for such a little machine.

Overall impression:

As I said, I like the Roomba more than I thought I would. This particular model is not quite suited to be a full-time replacement for my vacuum cleaner just yet, but it’s great to have for tidying up on those days when I’m just too busy to spend time vacuuming. At right around $300, the price was reasonable for the performance delivered. I give the Roomba 530 a thumbs up!

Lytro Digital Cameras

I’m not tech-minded at all, so I probably won’t be able to explain this very well. But I just read about a new digital camera from Lytro that allows you to change the focus of a picture with a simple mouse click. You know how sometimes the more interesting action is going on in the background of a photo and how you wish your focus had been in the right place? Well, now you never have to agonize over those barely missed shots. Seriously this technology looks awesome!! Go to the Lytro gallery and play around with some photos yourself. I wish I knew more about the camera itself, though — like, how much it costs!!!

Lytro Picture Gallery

Playing in the yard

My son outgrew his plastic slide and swing set years ago, and has been asking for some kind of replacement ever since. He’s still only 8 years old, so it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll continue to be interested in jungle gyms and such for a few more years. The only problem is, most of the stuff for backyards seems to be geared towards younger children.

Maybe what I need to do is look at commercial playground equipment instead. Obviously, this stuff is meant for public parks and places like that, so we wouldn’t be able to have a full set or anything. But a rainbow climber or something similar might work. I’ll have to check into this a little bit more!

Father’s Day 2011

Well, I once again find myself unprepared for Father’s Day. I have been spending the last hour looking for a suitable gift, but honestly after almost 40 of these, I just don’t know anymore. I would love to be able to get my dad one of the big LG lcd tvs he’s had his eye on or another tech toy that he could tinker with in his free time. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the money for that kind of purchase right now.

As it is, I’ll probably end up getting him a card and taking him out to dinner. At least I can tell myself that spending time together is the real point of the day, right?

Nike Wrestling Shoes

My cousin is still in high school, and made the wrestling team last year. That was the first time he had ever wrestled, so he wasn’t on varsity or anything. But he really trained hard over the summer and is getting serious about the sport. In fact, he has asked me to buy him a pair of Nike Inflict wrestling shoes for his birthday, which is coming up soon. I have been looking around for some cheap prices, and can get a pair for less than $75, so I think I’ll go ahead and buy them. I remember what it was like being on a high school team and wanting good equipment to help my performance. I just wish I’d had an accommodating aunt back then!

Perfect Pushup Review

About two months ago, I purchased a product called Perfect Push Up. It’s billed as a revolutionary way to do pushups because the handles rotate as you lower and raise your body, which supposedly works more muscle groups and helps you get “ripped” faster. Getting ripped wasn’t my goal (I’m a woman), but I did want to tone my arms and build some upper body strength. I thought Perfect Pushup looked like it might actually work, unlike other exercise gimmicks, so I decided to pay the $60 price tag. (I’ve since seen the item advertised for less).

My initial excitement about the product was tempered by the fact that I couldn’t do much with it at first. The day I opened the package, I could do exactly one set of 3 pushups!!! I was flabbergasted because at the time I could do 12 regular pushups on the floor, and expected to be able to do at least that many with the Perfect Pushup handles. But no… I was only able to pump out 3 before collapsing.

To me (and bear in mind that I’m not an expert here), this indicated that the product actually was working more muscle groups than regular pushups. That’s why each one was harder to do and took more of a toll on my body. So I decided to build myself up slowly by doing girly pushups from my knees and try to add an extra rep or another set when possible. After two months of use, I am now able to do three sets of 9 reps — a total of 18 pushups (regular style, not the girly way) with the Perfect Pushup handles. What’s more, I’m now able to crank out 20 standard pushups on the floor without batting an eye.

Clearly, these aren’t eye-popping numbers, but they do show that the Perfect Pushup handles helped me make steady improvement and increase my upper body strength, which was my goal. Plus, I’m only two months in and am continuing to use the handles three or four times per week, so I’m sure I’ll get even stronger from here on out.

The product also came with an instructional DVD that shows a bunch of different exercises you can do with the Perfect Pushup handles. I watched the DVD when I first got the package and tried some of the exercises, but couldn’t do any at that time (they’re pretty hard!). I haven’t gone back to try again, though. Maybe that’s something I’ll do in the coming months and maybe the results will be worth detailing in another review.

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised by how effective the Perfect Pushup handles are. I don’t think the improvements I’ve experienced could have come about from doing regular pushups alone, because that’s what I’d been doing for over a year and hadn’t moved beyond 12. Though I have my doubts as to whether anyone would be able to get as ripped as the guy on the package and in the videos, I still think this is a worthwhile product to add to your collection of home exercise equipment. I’m glad I bought it!

Eat This, Not That (2011 Edition)

Practically everyone has heard about the Eat This, Not That series of books by David Zinczenko. These books are all about making smart “food swaps” that will save you fat and calories and allow you to lose weight without dieting. In fact, Zinczenko markets the books as a “no-diet weight loss solution”. Of course, I was skeptical about whether or not simple swaps would actually work, but since the books have been enormously popular for years and since my usual diet routine was getting me absolutely nowhere, I decided to give it a go.

Obviously, this isn’t the kind of book that’s meant to be read cover to cover. It’s laid out as more of a quick reference guide that you can check when you’re at the supermarket or a restaurant. There are plenty of full color photos throughout the book, as well as relevant nutritional info that spells out exactly why one pick is better than another.

Let me just say that I was pretty appalled at some of the fat and calorie totals of the things I eat at my favorite restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse or TGI Friday’s. For example, according to pg. 181, Friday’s full-size salads average a whopping 1,251 calories!! So much for thinking you’re doing the right thing, huh? Yuck.

Anyway, I haven’t tried all of the suggested food swaps, but from what I have tried and what I’ve seen just from skimming the rest of the book is that many of the recommendations actually compare apples to apples, so to speak. In other words, the author doesn’t “cheat” by suggesting you swap out a hamburger with a bowl of soup in order to save calories. Instead, he might suggest that you swap out a burger and fries (at Friday’s, for example) with a grilled steak and mashed potatoes. So you’re still getting the meat and potatoes you crave, but just in a different form that saves close to 200 calories.

Along with the restaurant tips, I enjoyed the supermarket swaps. I am now saving myself about 40 calories per serving on my honey mustard sauce, 50 calories per serving on my sandwich bread, 40 calories on pasta sauce, 40 calories on potato chips (Baked Lay’s BBQ instead of Lay’s Tangy Carolina BBQ), and more. Sure, 40 calories isn’t an earth-shattering number, but it adds up, ya know?

Overall, I’m very impressed with Eat This, Not That. I have just started using the guide so I don’t have any weight loss to report as of yet, but I’m confident that I’ll drop at least a few pounds if I stick to the smart swaps and learn to make even better choices on my own.