How “The Leaf” can help you break bad habits and become a better role model

How “The Leaf” can help you break bad habits and become a better role model

After I gave my old digital alarm clock to my daughter, I developed a bad habit. I started using my tablet as an alarm clock, which might not sound that terrible but it led to the following three really terrible things:

  1. My tablet was the last thing I looked at before going to sleep.
  2. If I woke up in the middle of the night in order to check the time, I would see all the emails, messages, and tweets that were waiting for me and sometimes I would read them.
  3. When my alarm went off in the morning, I would start checking email before my eyes had even adjusted.

The Leaf

Product: The Leaf
Manufacturer: Bellabeat Inc.
Price range: Silver LEAF is USD 119.99 / Rose Gold LEAF is USD 149.99

You guys, I can’t stress enough how negative this was for me. I think just knowing that the messages were there waiting for me was affecting my sleep. And I need my sleep, at least seven hours (but preferably eight) to even come close to being able to function. Not to mention the immeasurable stress of beginning and ending my day with emails and the Internet.

I knew I needed to stop immediately but I wasn’t that jazzed about finding another solution. But then I stumbled across a health tracker for women called the LEAF by Bellabeat and I was able to solve not only my tablet-as-alarm-clock problem but a few others as well (which I will get to in more detail below). With regards to replacing the alarm clock, I have set the LEAF to wake me up in the morning with a gentle vibration that hasn’t yet failed to rouse me, but doesn’t wake my soundly-sleeping husband. Now that I don’t have any electronics in my bedroom, I’m sleeping so much better. And the LEAF is helping me track that. This alone is a big win for me.

But there’s more that I love about the LEAF. It’s meant to raise awareness about how you’re spending your day and little ways you can improve so you feel your best. This probably isn’t for people who are super interested in detailed fitness tracking (although an upgrade to the app lets you manually input the type of activity or sport you are doing so it can track it more accurately). Still it’s probably more for those of us who want to get a clearer picture of how we’re doing when it comes to activity, sleep, and breathing so that we can make adjustments.

And I really do need that because since I workout and walk everyday I can easily fall into the trap of thinking I’m more active than I am and end up sitting in front of the computer for way longer than I intend to. Now if I haven’t been active enough for a period of time the Leaf vibrates to remind me to get off my butt. Yesterday after it buzzed I went straight out for a walk around the neighbourhood. Today when it buzzed I ran up and down the stairs a few times and did some stretches.

Sometimes though, I’ll admit, I don’t really understand why it’s buzzing. So I reached out to Bellabeat to ask and the rep from the company had this to say:

“The inactivity alert currently goes off depending on how many steps you’ve taken in the last couple of hours. The exact criteria depends on the level you set in the app and may change without prior notice. This way the Leaf might even vibrate mid-activity if you didn’t take enough steps in the last couple of hours, which can be confusing. We’re working on changing these criteria to make it easier for the users to understand why their Leaf vibrated. We’re also working on improving the information in the app to make it clearer for the user what the vibrations mean. Updates are coming regularly so make sure to update the app.”

Another thing I like about the LEAF is how pretty it is. Being a bit of an earthy girl, the understated silver leaf on a solid wood backing appealed to me more than some of the heavy black bracelets I’ve come to associate with fitness trackers. I also liked the versatility of how it could be worn: clipped to a neckline or waistband, as a necklace, or as a bracelet. Even with all those choices I’ve only been using it clipped to the neckline because for me that’s been the most comfortable and convenient. It also seems to be the best position for tracking sleep.

I’ll be interested to see what future upgrades Bellabeat comes up with for the Leaf. And I can imagine getting a bit hooked on health tracking in general and possibly wanting to graduate to something a bit more robust or potentially water proof, but for my purposes right now, the LEAF is working. It counts my steps, alerts me when I haven’t moved enough, tracks my sleep, walks me through breathing exercise, and even tracks my menstrual cycle creating an overall picture of my health day-to-day that’s very useful.

One downside for us Canadians is that the LEAF app seems to run only on American data, giving advice from the American Heart Association and tracking miles instead of kilometres. A Canadian version would be nice but for me it isn’t a deal breaker. Also important to note: due to high demand Bellabeat has to restock the LEAF monthly, so when you go to their site it asks you to subscribe to a wait list and when more stock becomes available you are notified so you can buy immediately.

All in all, I’m enjoying the Leaf and it’s adding a new layer of awareness to my day. I would happily give it as a present to any woman in my life who is looking to tweak their health habits in the new year.

Bellabeat provided me with the LEAF free of charge for my review. All opinions are my own. 

Images courtesy of Bellabeat

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