Book Review – Running is my Therapy

Scrolling through Instagram one day I stumbled across a post about Running is my Therapy by Scott Douglas and was intrigued.

I immediately went to Amazon to read more about it. And then pre-ordered it.

running is my therapy

I struggle with anxiety and mild depression.

I have since at least high school, more anxiety than depression. My brain is a constant swirl of worries. I struggle to shut down the thoughts that pop up almost every second. I like to tell people my brain is like a browser with 281 tabs open and when you close one you open two or three more. I struggle to fall asleep because I start thinking about everything I need to get done tomorrow. And the next day. And next week, next month. Hell, I start thinking months out. It’s hard to shut down. If I awake in the middle of the night my brain immediately starts winding up again.

I thought Running is my Therapy could be an interesting read, as well as a refresher, and chance to learn more about the relationship between running, anxiety and depression. I would say it was definitely all three. Douglas does a great job of mixing in his own and other’s struggles along with studies to show how running can help ease anxiety and depression.

The book focused a lot more on depression than anxiety but it was still worth the read. It was a pretty easy and fast read for me. I would, and have been, recommending it to many people. Douglas explains the scientific stuff in a way that is easy to understand and not boring. Even if you know all of this information already it is a nice refresher and I think all the personal stories help illustrate that you are not alone. Some professional athletes even suffer from anxiety and depression.

I know running helps me with my anxiety and depression but had been having troubles getting consistent with it. It’s one of those catch-22s. Your anxious and/or depressed and can’t get out for a run because of it. You know running will help but your brain tricks you into thinking it won’t and it’s too hard. Or it’s not worth it. It won’t help but in reality, it is one of the best helpers. I will definitely pull this book out again to ready when I’m having moments like these.

I have been running consistently since the start of May. I am in no way healed, those of us with anxiety and depression will never be fully healed, but I am feeling better. I am having many more good days than bad. It’s a lifelong condition and I need to make running a lifelong habit. Whenever I fall out of it, I get more anxious and depressed which causes me to run less, gain more weight, and get even more depressed.

You can find Running is my Therapy on Amazon. I am an Amazon associate and will earn a few pennies on each purchase from the above link.

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St. Patrick’s Day Runs

St. Patrick’s Day Runs

I did three St. Patrick’s Day runs this month.  I may be a tad crazy, but you already knew that. On March 11th I did the Lucky Clover 4 miler and this past weekend, the 16th and 17th, I did the Kiss Me I’m Irish Kilt run and 8k. I missed last year’s Kiss Me I’m Irish so I was excited to be able to do it again.

st. patrick's day runs st. patrick's day runs The Lucky Clover 4 miler was put on by 131 events. It was in Chandler, so a little bit of a drive for me. Luckily at 5:30 in the morning, not many people were out yet. The run started at the Shops at Ocotillo and did a loop route. The route itself was pretty good. There were a couple of spots that the runners were limited to the bike lane but a lot of us had to go outside the bike lane/orange cones because we had to pass slower runners.

There were also a few spots where cars needed to pass through but they all waited until a decent break in runners/walkers, at least that I saw. At one intersection, we were crossing diagonally and the police were holding traffic. I kind of sped up so I could get through with the group ahead of me in case runners were stopped for traffic. I overheard one of the runners saying the police should have stopped the runners and let the cars through because “none of us are competing”. Ummm… speak for yourself dude because I am competing.

I am competing with myself!

I always want to be better than I was before. I want to get a PR in every race. If not a PR, I want to be better than the last time I ran this distance. Also, this was about the 2-mile mark and I had settled into a good groove. I take about 1.5-2 miles to get going. I’ve been stopped before at this point and it just messes up my race, especially a short one like this because I’d never get a steady pace going. Longer races it’s not *as bad* because I have more distance to get that pacing back.

I finished 321 overall out of 635, 40 of 80 in my age group with a total time of 47:08:19. My average pace was 11:47 per mile. Definitely not a PR but I’m happy with it considering the past year and a half I’ve had. I haven’t been running much and have only recently started training again.

Friday night I participated in the Kilt Run, which was 1km. They have been doing this the last couple of years to try to set a record. As far as I know, we did not make it this year. When I finished, I ran to my car and weaved through the parking lot to get at least a full mile in. It was fun and I’d probably do it again next year to help them try to get the record.

Saturday morning was the 8k. This year was a little different and we did two loops around Westgate. I think the course was short because my Garmin ended at 4.45 miles when it should have been more like 4.97. Allegedly I PR’d this race with a 51:07 and 10:17 pace, which vastly differs from my Garmin (51:52/11:37 pace). I finished 153 out of 266 overall,  87 out of 156 females and 14 of 29 in my age group.

Overall I enjoyed all of my St. Patrick’s Day runs and would do them both again.

My only wish is walkers were told to start last. I try to go in the middle of the pack, as I know I’m a middle of the packer. At the Lucky Clover, I couldn’t even run across the start line and had to weave around a ton of people who started out walking. The start of the Kiss Me I’m Irish 8k was similar. I was kicked by someone trying to get into the corral by climbing over the rope in order to get ahead of a ton of people by someone with a cane. I passed them on both my loops. Know your ability and plan accordingly! It’s all about respect. I am planning a race etiquette blog and will be sure to put this in there!

What races do or did you have this month?

Here’s a little video the Kiss Me I’m Irish had of me (mint green tank) finishing:

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2016 Firecracker 4 Mile

Last Fourth of July I ran the inaugural Firecracker 4 Mile in my hometown.

I was home for a happy time, a family reunion with relatives from Norway. I was able to run with my dad. I love running races in my hometown because I get to see it from a new point of view. When I lived there I only ran in my neighborhood. Races allow me to run by the Mississippi, my college and downtown. Downtown definitely looks different while running than it did while drinking. 😉

I wasn’t planning to run this year and neither was my dad. I wasn’t supposed to be home for a visit until the end of July, well after the race was done. Unfortunately, I had to go back early due to a death in the family. Once I knew I would be home my dad asked if I wanted to run. I said, of course! He signed us up and that was that.

I was so out of it after I forgot to take a selfie! This was on the way to coffee (and breakfast).
I was so out of it after I forgot to take a selfie! This was on the way to coffee (and breakfast).

For this year they updated the course a bit. I liked both routes but this year was a tad nicer. The start and finish were in the park, instead of the access road. The start both years included up a hill, but this year was through the river trail instead of downtown. I was worried about how narrow the trail was with all the people going through but, surprisingly, people were incredibly polite. I was a bit shocked. In Phoenix, people make rude comments rather than just saying excuse me or on your left.

The loop through town was a bit different but it was still residential streets. The ending came through downtown, into the park and then down the pier. The bad thing about running down the pier was having to go back up. I was hitting the wall and not sure I would make it and then had to run up the pier. I would have given up had I not seen the finish line coming up. As I ran through the park, my dad was waiting and had his phone ready to capture my run past. I made it through the finish line and had never been so happy to stop running.

I learned an important lesson or two this race. One: you need your inhaler when running somewhere with humidity. And two: food and nutrition do make a huge difference. I might make this a separate post as I have already gone on quite a but here! Overall, though, the race was great and I didn’t do too bad, especially considering my sporadic summer running.

2015: 40:52 total, 10:13 pace

2016: 41:20 total, 10:20 pace

My dad did much better than me:
2015: 34:59 total, 8:45 pace

2016: 31:39 total, 7:55 pace

He has gotten so fast! I definitely do not take after him here but I do try. I’d love to be that fast.

Have you done any summer races? Let me know how you did in the comments!

Are you following me on Instagram? Follow all my fitness adventures there!

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Glukos Energy Tabs

Do you remember eating the giant sweet tarts as a kid?

All the sugar.

All the sour.

All the yum.

How would you feel about an adult version? A giant sweet tart that gives you a nice energy boost?

glukos energy tabsGlukos energy tabs do just that. I use them before an evening run or weight lifting session, after a long, tiring day at work. The tabs give you a good energy boost fairly quickly but it is subtle. There’s no jolt. No shaking. Just a quick boost. I also haven’t had a crash from Glukos energy tabs. I usually end up feeling just as good at the end of a run or weight lifting session, if not better.

The positives:

  • Easily dissolves in mouth
  • Easy to chew
  • Good flavor
    • I had fruit punch and it was a bit on the tart side, which I love. If you aren’t a huge tart person it might deter you
  • Local company
    • They are based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • Gluten free

The negatives:

  • Wouldn’t dissolve in water
    • The package claims you can dissolve it in water. I tried. I waited about 5 minutes and nothing. I chewed it instead. I use Nuun a lot, which starts dissolving immediately and only takes about a minute.
  • Not enough of an energy boost to use first thing in the morning
    • I need more to get me going. Maybe this would be better for others.

glukos energy tabsI really wish the tabs would have dissolved in water. I would have loved to taste it as a drink. The tabs come in fruit punch, orange, and lemon. I was given the fruit punch to try.

Bottom line: I will continue to use the Glukos energy tabs I have and will purchase them when I’m out. I think the flavor is on point and I like the energy it gives me.

They do offer an energy powder as well and I will give that a try as well.

If you have run a Rock N Roll event you have probably used or at least seen Glukos. Glukos gels and gummies are available on the course.

I will be reviewing additional Glukos products as I gear up and train for my first marathon. I am currently in what I am calling “pre-training” (basically getting myself back on a workout schedule) and will be officially in training on August 29th. EEK!

I was given the Glukos products by my local running store, Fleet Feet Scottsdale to review. Everything in this review is my opinion. If I didn’t like the product I would tell you.

What is your favorite pre-workout energy product? Let me know in the comments.

Are you following me on Instagram? Be sure to head over and follow to see my journey to my very first marathon!

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Guns N Roses

As a child, I loved Guns N Roses. I remember taking my tiny boombox outside and blasting Welcome to the Jungle. I would listen to the radio station all day until the song came on I loved and I would quickly hit record and get it on my blank tape. It took quite a lot of patience. I am surprised at 7/8 years old, I was able to get any songs on tape.

Later, when I had my own money, I bought Appetite and Use Your Illusion on CD. I listened to those songs on repeat. I would get excited when the video for November Rain actually played on MTV. Yes, MTV actually played more music videos than reality TV shows at one point. Ahhh, the good old days.

My well loved GnR CDs.
My well loved GnR CDs.

When I read Duff McKagan wrote a book, and that it was actually good, I knew I had to read it. I also stumbled across Steven Adler’s book and picked it up. I just need to get Slash’s book and I will have all autobiographies of original GnR members. I know a lot of books have been written about Axl, but I haven’t seen one he wrote himself. I also couldn’t find one that Izzy wrote. (If you know of an Axl or Izzy autobiography, please let me know).

While both Duff and Steven’s books offer a glimpse into GnR they are vastly different. If I had to recommend just one it would be Duff’s. His book is well written, flows well and believable. Duff focuses mostly on himself and his journey. His book does include troubles with Guns, but the issues are written from a mature place. Duff has stepped back and can analyze his time with the band more as the man he has become. He has let go of what happened in the past and moved forward.

To me, Steve is still in an addict’s mindset. He sounds like he is bragging a lot. Many of the stories of his youth seem far-fetched. It is entirely possible these things happened, but it always seemed he wanted the audience to think he was cool. That he was far more sexually advanced or drug fueled than he really was as a child. I feel that Steven glosses over some of these sexual exploits in a bragging manner when if they actually happened they were abuse.

He plays the victim a lot. Everything that happened to Guns is someone else’s fault. He hints at things he maybe could have done differently but never seems to get to the point that yes, maybe I could have changed. Maybe I could have done something differently. I get it, Axl comes across as a dick no matter which way you slice it, but there were things Steven could have done or should have done to keep himself in the band.

Despite becoming an addict and being kicked out of Guns, he still seems to be living in the past, with the same mentality. He just seems stuck. Stuck in the past. Stuck in the drugs. He has admitted there’s a problem but not really. I didn’t feel sorry for him. In fact, I often wanted to tell him to stop whining and just do something about it.

Steven’s book isn’t well written; it’s disorganized. The chapter titles have little, if anything, to do with what is in the chapter. It meanders. It goes off on tangents and sometimes takes forever get back to the original story. It is as if he just talked and someone wrote down exactly what he said, in the order it was said.

On the other hand, Duff has moved past his addictions. He will always be an addict, but he has found healthy ways to deal with issues. He has a loving wife and children. He seems to have matured and looks back at Guns n Roses with a more objective mindset. He has made amends with the past, the band and the people.

Maybe the difference is Duff landed in the hospital and could/would die if he picked up the drink again. He had to change but instead of whining he found new ways to fill his time, new healthier vices. He found family in those that helped him recover. He did relapse once, with pills, but quickly realized and reached out to those he loved.

Duff seems to have found what he was looking for in sobriety. He never thought he would live past 30, but now he has a fulfilling life. He’s realized he has things to live for and the answer isn’t in the bottom of a vodka bottle.

Duff is living in the present while Steven seems stuck in the past. I hope Adler finds the help and peace he seems to be seeking but can’t quite grasp.

Even if you aren’t a Guns n Roses fan, I would recommend Duff’s book. It is well written and shows how deep addiction can be and how truly satisfying recovery can be once you learn to love yourself.

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Adventures in Gluten Free Eating: Otro Cafe

Shortly after my official celiac disease diagnosis, we went out for my first gluten free dining experience. I was extremely nervous. I was finally feeling good and my body was starting to heal. I did not want to mess up and get sick again. Otro Cafe, in central Phoenix, was chosen to accommodate my celiac disease and J’s parents, who are vegetarians.

I struggle with telling complete strangers that I have an autoimmune disease. Four months after my diagnosis I still struggle, imagine how hard it was a few days after my diagnosis, my very first time out. I did it though, I told the waitress that I have celiac disease and cannot have anything with gluten. She seemed to understand the importance.

We started with the guacamole classico and ceviche. We made sure to order the raw vegetables, as the chips were not gluten free. Many restaurants dust their corn tortillas with flour before frying. Seriously, they add gluten to everything. The guacamole and ceviche were tasty but eating them with vegetables just wasn’t the same as chips. I’m not sure I would order either of these unless I knew I could have the chips with them.

Despite reading online reviews stating how many gluten free entrees, I found the menu to be lacking. Only three entrees were marked gluten free and ironically were all served with a side of flour tortillas. I hate to break it to you but adding flour tortillas means it is no longer gluten free.

I ordered the paella Mexicana and reminded the waitress that I had celiac and did not want the flour tortillas.  Of course when my entree comes out there are flour tortillas. Thankfully they were on the side and not on top of the food but it really made me question the staff’s willingness to be careful with gluten when someone has informed them of having celiac disease.

The entree was decent. It wasn’t something where I would go, I need to have it again. It was lacking something, probably the tortillas. It had decent heat to it, but I was expecting more. I also thought it needed more meat. There was chicken, pork and chorizo in the dish, but it seemed the kitchen added them sparingly. I have also found out since that many chorizos have flour in them and it makes me wonder if this dish truly was gluten free.

Otro Cafe also did not have any gluten free desserts on the menu. I had to sit while everyone else enjoyed desserts that looked amazing. I had to listen to them go on about how great the desserts were. I want to have amazing desserts at restaurants too, and not just flourless chocolate cake which is the standard gluten free dessert.

Overall, I was not impressed with Otro Cafe and their claims of having gluten-free items on their menu. The gluten free options were limited and came with items that have gluten. I don’t know if I trust their staff to take care for cross contamination, since I asked for no tortillas and still received tortillas. The food I was able to eat was not anything impressive. I am able to get the same, or similar, items elsewhere that taste better.

If I have my choice, I would choose not to go back to Otro Cafe and would not recommend it to those who have celiac disease. If you are just avoiding wheat because it is the hipster thing to do, this could be a place for you. But when my health is involved I want places to take it seriously.

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Kauai Coffee Company

When we were in beautiful Kauai this past January, we stopped by the Kauai Coffee Company. We didn’t have a guided tour but instead took a self-guided walking tour. The path meandered through the estate with signs to explain the plants and process.

Although it was a bit different from Greenwell Farms tour, it was interesting. I also enjoyed being able to take our time wandering the path and reading all the signs. There was a lot of information and interesting displays.

Afterward, we sampled coffee. A lot of coffee before making our purchases. Big Braddah was our favorite non-flavored coffees. Of the flavored coffees, our favorite was the Toasty Banana Nut Cream. You can actually smell the banana while it is brewing and as you sip. At first I wasn’t sure if I would even like it, but once I tried it I was sold. Besides the macadamia nut flavors, we also picked up a coconut caramel crunch. I am pretty sure you cannot go wrong when you add coconut or caramel to coffee.

If you ever find yourself on the island of Kauai, be sure to stop by the Kauai Coffee Company. You can take a short tour and sample amazing coffees. I am sure you will also find something to take home in the gift shop.

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Restaurant Review: Fired Pie

Having celiac disease I have to be really careful about what and where I eat. It really limits the places I can go that have a dedicated gluten-free menu. Surprisingly, some of the best restaurants are pizza places. Fired Pie just happens to be one of my favorites.

Fired Pie is a local Phoenix-area chain in the style of Chipotle. You can design your own pizza or pick from a few of the pre-designed menu items. So far I have only sampled from their pre-designed menu items because they have all been extremely tasty.

I have tried the pesto chicken, steak and blue, and meaty Italian. My least favorite was probably the meaty Italian because, of course, it was more greasy than the others. I really liked the steak and blue, although I did leave off the mushrooms. The menu items are well thought out and all the flavors mix well together. I plan to try the Hawaiian bbq next. Then maybe I will design my own. 😉

The toppings all seem to be fresh. They don’t skimp on the meat or cheese, which are essential ingredients on a pizza. My only complaint is the gluten-free pizza crust. It is one of the better gluten-free crusts I’ve had, but it isn’t the same as a regular pizza crust. Their gluten-free crust is a little bit thicker and chewier than their regular crust (I had it before I knew I had celiac). Plus it costs more, unfortunately for me it is expensive to have celiac disease.

They are very cognizant of celiac disease. Every time I tell them I have celiac disease, they go into attack mode. They change their gloves, wipe down surfaces, and they even have a gluten-free crust only pizza cutter. They take it quite serious, more so than some other places I’ve been. I have never *knocks on wood* been sick after eating at Fired Pie.

If you are ever in the Phoenix area I would highly suggest you check out Fired Pie (and get the steak and blue).

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Kona Coffee Tour

burlap sacks

One thing I wanted to do when we visited the Big Island of Hawaii was tour a Kona plantation. Before we left we decided on Greenwell Farms. I looked at a few different websites, but Greenwell and their products just stood out to me.

Greenwell Farms Dates back to 1850. The coffee plants in this photo are over 100 years old. They are no longer used to produce old treescoffee.

The tour wasn’t very long, but I feel like we learned a lot. The coffee trees had been recently harvested so there wasn’t much to see there. A few plants still had berries on them. Our guide told us about how people come from all over to help harvest the coffee trees. I was tempted to become a migrant coffee worker until I learned about the spiders that live in the coffee trees!

Coffee trees are pruned to a stump at the end of their third year. This keeps them healthy and green. Coffee trees produce viable cherries for 30-50 years.

Coffee trees are part of the Gardenia family, which is why they have beautiful white blooms. The blooms are often referred to as Kona snow because it looks like snow on the coffee trees. That is the kind of snow I can handle! Each bloom produces a cherry, which has two beans. The exception is a peaberry when the two beans grow together as one.


Cherries are soaked in water for 12-14 hours before drying. Greenwell Farms sundries then rake, by hand, some of their beans.

The area where the beans are roasted has a retractable roof. We were able to watch a few employees rake the beans. It was quite fascinating.


roasting 2

Most people know there are different roasts from light to medium to dark. I learned the difference between them: Light roasts have more caffeine. Light roasts spend less time in the dryer and, therefore, retain more caffeine. No wonder I prefer medium or light to dark.

Greenwell Farms also has a ton of different fruit trees from avocados to pineapples and

Can you spot Carl?
Can you spot Carl?

many fruits in between. Did you know you can plant the top of a pineapple and grow your own tree? I have yet to try this. They give the fruit away to the people who take tours. We didn’t get to try anything though because the people the day before wiped them out. They also have a family of chameleons, lead by Carl, living in the tree by the gift shop.

Of course, I picked up several bags of coffee while I was there. All of their coffee is available to sample and I was highly caffeinated after the tour. Everything was excellent, but I walked away with Jeni, which was a limited edition plus the macadamia nut and chocolate macadamia nut.

If you ever find yourself on the Big Island of Hawaii I highly suggest a visit to Greenwell

Tour Guide
Tour Guide

Farms. The tour is fairly quick but still informative and interesting plus there are free samples in the end. I would also recommend you buy some coffee to take home. Greenwell Farms is the best coffee I have ever had and now I am out; I will need to place an order. Although it would be way more fun to go back to Greenwell Farms I think ordering online is the more conservative option.

Once you go Hawaiian, you never want to go back.

A coffee bean that has been taken out of the cherry.
A coffee bean that has been taken out of the cherry.
And this is what is inside.
And this is what is inside.
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Product Review: Fitbit Surge

My (current) favorite health-related product is my Fitbit Surge. I got it a couple of months ago and am still going strong with it. I had been searching for a gps watch with wrist heart rate monitor for my runs but was having a hard time deciding. I had a tomtom on my wish list for months but couldn’t pull the trigger. I didn’t intend to buy a Fitbit.

But then a few months ago my bathroom scale had decided it had enough. I didn’t want to go with out so I hopped online and started scrolling through the selection on Amazon and came across the Fitbit Aria. I wanted a decent scale and one that would give body fat (I know it’s not accurate but can give me a trend). I was leaning towards the Aria but figured what good is it without a Fitbit tracker.

I didn’t realize Fitbit had the Surge. I stumbled upon it and once I saw it and read through the website I knew I had to have it, which meant I had to have the Aria as well. I ordered both and was impatient for them to arrive. I have been using them ever since.

I had been using my S Health to get my step count but then I had to carry my phone everywhere, having the watch is so much more convenient and it has way more options. I use it to track my sleep and my food in conjunction with myfitnesspal.

So far I have only used the free run and love it. It takes only a few seconds to connect to the gps and I can see my current pace time and miles at a quick glance. I was using an app on my phone before and it was always such a pain to see how I was doing. I plan to try out the lap feature soon; I just want to see how that option works and if it would be good for my speed work. I don’t do it on a track but rather stretches of road that are approximately a quarter-mile. Hopefully the lap feature will be adequate.

I also like the other exercise tracking options. So far I have used the yoga and weight training ones. It helps me track how long each session was and a heart rate/calorie estimate. I feel it’s a little more accurate than my guessing. 😉

I feel the watch helps keep me more active throughout the day. I know I want to reach 10,000 steps a day so I find excuses to get up and walk a bit more. It is easier at work; on the weekends I work on my blog and photography business and don’t move as much as I should. I just get into the zone and enjoy the work but with the watch I check my steps after a bit. I walk for a few minutes and get back at it.

As much as I love this watch I do have a few small complaints, not enough to get me to stop wearing it. First Fitbit says the battery should last 5-7 days (5 if you use the gps). Mine lasted 2.5 days the first time, no gps usage. I turned off the backlight and still 2,5 days. I use the gps, 2.5 days. I have not tried turning off the heart rate monitor but I am not sure that would make that much of a difference. I would love it if the battery did last 5 days. It uses a special usb charger so I can’t just grab my phone/kindle charger and do it at work. I have to remember to charge it overnight or at home when I am not moving a lot.

My only other issue is the size. I ordered a small band because my wrist is pretty small. I have it fastened in the middle of the band, not too tight and not too loose. The band is fine but my problem is the actually watch part. It is huge. It fits slightly awkward on my wrist because it is almost as wide as my wrist. If it was a bit smaller I think it would fit on my wrist better. As it is, it slightly goes off my wrist and gets to be uncomfortable since I wear it almost 24/7 (never in the shower). In fact I took it off when I went to bed last night because it was bothering me. It isn’t so bad that I am going to stop wearing it or not recommend it but I just feel it could be a bit smaller to fit on those of us with small wrists. Maybe Fitbit could do a male and female rather than large and small?


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