If there’s anything 2016 has inspired me to do it’s to go back to the basics. While some years I get excited about all the fancy new gadgets that can help me keep my healthstyle running smoothly, this year I’ve been more interested in the things I already know I can rely on.
One of the nice things I’ve noticed about my healthstyle after doing this for nearly a decade is that my gear doesn’t change much. There are a few notable upgrades this year (Fitbit and Kindle have some amazing new products), but overall it’s still the same stuff I’ve been using year in and year out.
There is something comfortable in that knowledge. Knowing that even going from student to professional, from single to married, from California girl to New Yorker, the things I use to care for myself haven’t changed all that much. When it comes down to it, life isn’t that complicated.
Fitbit Flex 2 $90
If you’ve followed my work for awhile you know that I’ve always preferred clip-on activity trackers (e.g. the Fitbit One) over bracelets. Not only are the big rubber bracelets far outside my fashion aesthetic, they have traditionally been so large on my small frame that I have to take them off in order to get my arms in or out of any type of jacket or coat. I have no patience for this.
This year that all changed. The Fitbit Flex 2 is the first activity tracking bracelet that is small and sleek enough that I don’t mind wearing it 24/7. I can even sleep with it on, which was unheard of with the big uncomfortable bracelets of Fitbit past.
Even better, you can upgrade your Fitbit Flex 2 with accessories that turn it into real jewelry. I had never been impressed with the branded Tory Burch bracelets for the old models. They were too trendy looking and always too big, even in the smallest size. But the new bracelets ($100) and pendants ($80) that Fitbit makes for the Flex 2 are shockingly stylish, and because the bracelets come in three sizes one actually fits me. I’ve had several people compliment me on my beautiful bracelet, not realizing it was a Fitbit (I have the gold one). That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
There are only two minor downsides I’ve noticed. The first is that the battery doesn’t last nearly as long as the Fitbit One, so I have to charge it every 4-5 days. This doesn’t bother me enough to switch back, but if you prefer not to worry about regular charging the One is still your best bet.
Second, because the device is so small there is no number count screen directly on the surface. There are some lights to indicate about how close you are to your daily step goal and it buzzes when you reach it, but you have to check your app to get an exact reading. For me this is no big deal at all since I only want to reach my goal each day, but if you like the screen and other more complex features that some of the other Fitbits offer (e.g. floors climbed, heart rate, text messages, etc.) then the Flex 2 isn’t the tracker for you.
Le Creuset Dutch oven ($360)
As a graduation gift in 2010, my thesis advisor and lab mates pooled their resources and got me a gift card to Sur La Table, the fancy gourmet kitchen store. I used that money to buy a red Le Creuset Dutch oven, and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received (thanks guys!).
A Dutch oven is basically just a large cast iron pot covered in enamel, but it is virtually indestructible and its uses are endless. Between making stocks, soups, braises and stews, I use my Dutch oven at least 1-2 times per week and can’t imagine what I’d do without it. It’s also beautiful and makes your kitchen feel welcoming, so I just leave mine on the stove all the time even when it’s clean.
If there’s a foodist in your life who doesn’t have a Le Creuset, this is definitely one of those magical gifts they will remember (and use!) forever.
Bluetooth headphones are another one of those devices that improve my life so dramatically it’s hard to overstate. If you workout often, you already know that wired headphones are impossible. Back when I was using the Apple headphones, at least once a week the cord would get caught on my weights and rip the earbuds out of my head so violently I’d swear out loud. I shudder just thinking about it.
Over the years I’ve tried a number of different types of bluetooth headphones, and the Powerbeats are still the best. Not only do they stay in my ears even when I’m sweating, running and lifting, I also use them to listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I’m running errands, walking the dog and doing housework. They’re also great for making phone calls, especially if you have to leave your phone in the windowsill in order to get decent reception in your building (yes, I’m speaking from experience). I’ve heard they work wonderfully with the Apple Watch as well.
Sleep is one of those Home Court Habits that is an anchor for all the rest. What are the odds you’ll fit in your workout, go to the grocery store or cook dinner after work if you aren’t well rested? You and I both know the answer to that.
Getting good sleep isn’t always easy though. For any number of reasons our brains can fight with us and keep us up at night, despite our best efforts. I haven’t had much luck with apps or sleep masks, and prefer not to rely on medications. But this simple white noise machine can be surprisingly helpful at lulling me to sleep.
Kindle Oasis ($289)
When I think about my Kindle I get the warm fuzzies. Naturally I appreciate my computer and iPhone, but the main reason I have them is for work. My Kindle is the only device I use daily purely for pleasure (I’m not a TV person).
For a book geek and frequent traveler like me, the upgrades that Amazon put out this year in the Kindle Oasis makes it pretty much the perfect reading device. The battery literally lasts for months. It’s light, easy to hold, and easy to navigate. I’m to the point where I actually prefer Kindle books to paper ones.
I had the Kindle Voyage ($200) for many years and loved it, so if the Oasis is a bit out of your budget you won’t be disappointed with the slightly older version. It’s still very light and easy to use. For frequent travelers though, I strongly recommend upgrading to the 3G version of either device (there is no monthly fee) so you can download books anywhere, even if there’s no wifi.
Foodist gear ($20-45)
People are always asking my husband and I where we get our Foodist t-shirts and sweatshirts (we live in them). I created a store at Spreadshirt where you can order your own in whatever size/color you like. Kevin loves the gray tri-blend t-shirts. I live in the black and navy slouchy sweatshirts. There’s adorable baby onesies as well.
Did you know that you can give Foodist Kitchen as a gift? Foodist Kitchen helps you learn to cook without recipes in 30 days by teaching you essential kitchen habits and universal cooking principles, along with basic cooking techniques. The goal is to help you develop intuition and confidence in the kitchen, that ultimately saves you time, money and takes the stress out of feeding yourself.
If you’ve been thinking that someone you know would really appreciate learning to cook without recipes, you can purchase a gift membership for that person and I’ll send you a gift code you can give them to access the program.
It’s perfect for college students, newly weds, or anyone who feels intimidated and frustrated by cooking at home.
Thanks as always for your support and happy holidays!