Friday, January 30, 2015

Product Review: Portable Pilates Studio

Product Review: Portable Pilates Studio

I was able to try out the Portable Pilates Studio. I was so excited when the brown box was awaiting at my door. I opened it up and assembled it quickly and easily. That night I put in the DVD and completed all three workouts.

What I loved about it was how versatile it was. Sure, its a little big and I probably won't take it to the park, but I can use it standing, sitting, or lying down.

What I really liked about Empower Fitness is the support they have for women. After having a baby, I have been eager to get back into shape. It's not easy, day after day, to find the motivation to stay fit and well. I appreciate their ability to provide products and quick workouts for those of us with little to no time. Even though my love for running can dominate my workout schedule, I love to throw in new things. When I got to try out the Portable Pilates studio, I went online and  found that they have other fun exercise tools.

The other great thing about Empower Fitness is that they have a site for workouts that are available here on their website.

I found that there was a lot this piece of equipment could do. The videos guide you in a routine that has you put the feet in the hoops. The routine was both fun and challenging (I struggled when it came to my hip flexors and my arms were burning.).
It's a little big, but not bulky. I found it to be slimmer than my yoga mat and fit nicely in my mat carrier. It runs for 29.99 plus it comes with a DVD I thought it was pretty reasonable for how much it accomplishes!!

I have used it a few time on my own, and also as a balance bar. It is easy to slip the bands off the ends of the bar. 

Great workout
Easy to assemble and use
Workouts fun

Can't take it anywhere (like a yoga mat or running shoes)

Sponsored by Empower Fitness. These opinions are my own :)

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Taste Test: Skinnytaste Three Cheese Zucchini Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

 (Skinnytaste)                                                        (Mine)

I found this recipe on Pinterest and was so curious to try it. I had never made lasagna prior to this recipe. As a healthy eater myself, I imagined this would be the best recipe for my family, and it was a instant favorite. Even though it is vegetarian, it packs a lot of cheese which is filling enough and sure to satisfy those carnivores. There were many things that I enjoyed about this recipe. First, it allows you to makes things in steps and prepare ahead. As a momma of a toddler, it makes it easy to prepare the filling ahead of time as well as boiling the Lasagna noodles. Secondly, though this recipe has many steps they are very simple and easy. Lastly, you can make an additional batch to freeze (Directions found here).

I also made her Creamy Cauliflower Puree recipe for dinner as well. 


No Meat

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Workout Wear: Under Armour HeatGear Sonic All-In-One Capri

Workout Wear: Under Armour HeatGear Sonic All-In-One Capri

My husband bought these on Amazon for me at Christmas time. I was so excited to receive another addition to my workout wardrobe. I must say these were a winner for several reasons. First, these fit over the knee and are known as crops or capris. This type of running pant is great for those mid range temperatures (40-75 degrees Fahrenheit). These pants especially are great because they don't rid up your leg as you are running. Many times I find that my capris/crops hike up my leg and begin to bunch. These pants fit well and are a second skin. They are not compression, so do not provide any benefits that come with compression tights.  Thirdly, they possess an anti-microbial technology that allows for each wash to completely rid the pants of their last run smell. In addition, they are also a great wear to prevent chaffing do to runners where shorts. I like the addition of a hint of pink too. These pants are SPF 30+, part of the HeatGear nature (designed to regulate core temperature and keep you dry and enhance performance in any workout).

I did read some reviews on this product that suggested a close check on the size chart. There were complaints about the pants not fitting. This was not the case for me.

Tight fit
A touch of color
Long lasting and are able to be rid of smells (anti-microbial)
HeatGear technology
SPF 30+

No ventilation or breathability patches
Not compression
No pockets to store small items like keys

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: Crazy, Sexy Diet

Book Review: Crazy, Sexy Diet

A wealth of information, this book is filled with great recipes, encouraging words, and amazing facts. I was shocked at all that I learned. It also contains Kris Carr's purpose for writing this book. In short, Carr found out she had cancer and decided to do something about it, using food as her medicine. Carr explains in great detail and clarity how food can be both destructive and healing. There are some intriguing topics that are contained in this book that are pretty convincing.

Crazy, Sexy Diet is for a vegan/vegetarian diet. She discusses issues with meat, both it's treatment and the processing it goes through as well as how we digest and how our body processes it. Karr is encouraging in her approach and realizes that a 60/40 goal, 60 for the diet, 40 percent not. 
Karr creates a wonderful book that will have both your soul and body satisfied.

Her cookbook is a wonderful addition to Crazy, Sexy Diet.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

App Review: Nike +

App Review: Nike Plus (Nike +)  
A birthday present to myself in 2010 after I got some new Nike shoes, I had just began running and Nike was a starting point for me. This app cost $1.99 at the time (but now is FREE). I've always assimilated Nike as the Apple of fitness; they are constantly revamping their technology, perhaps the reason Apple come to mind.

This app has gone through many changes. I first bought it because of the draw it has for competitors like me. If I wasn't running a race, I wanted my runs to be as competitive as possible. It now features coaching for 5k, 10k, 13.1, and 26.2 races, challenges you can create with friends. It also allows you to compete with your friends showing you how much they have run in a month and a week. This is sometimes my motivator for getting in a few more miles. 

I really like the badges features. You can collect badges for running on certain days (i.e., Halloween, New Years, Cinco De Mayo, etc). You also can get them for how much you run (2x a week, 2 times in a day, 4 active months, etc). And badges are also acquired by kinds of runs (beach, road, forest, track, sharing your runs via social media, running at night, morning, etc). 
This too keeps me active and challenging myself. 

Like I mentioned before this app has made a lot of changes. I ditched it in January 2011 after it crashed on me during my half marathon training. And ditched it again in February 2012, after several crashes. I would get so frustrated after it would crash and not save any of my data. I still rely on my apps to keep track of my pace and route. I'm sure one day I will cave and buy a fancy Garmin or something, but until now I really rely on my apps. I've now been using it for a year with a 99% success rate on recording and storing data. In the cases when the app crashes and fails, I've found a feature that allows you to manually add a run, so you are still able to us  your miles towards receiving badges, trophies, and such.

It has a feature where it can track you both outside and on the treadmill. I am now so glad for the above mention addition because the treadmill feature is awful. It tracks way too quickly. Nike  + now has my fast mile recorded at a little over 4 minutes, yeah right :). I'm fast but I'm not a bullet. So I now don't use the Nike + app to track myself anymore on the treadmill. I just add them on after. 

The app will also keep track of your accomplishments: Fastest 1k, mile, 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon runs. I enjoy this feature because it is in one spot and I can reference it easily. It also allows you to track your shoe mileage!! And lets you know when they need to retire. I LOVE this feature.

As I mentioned, I usually use 3 apps at once for a few reasons: (1) I can't pick one I like. (2) To keep track of my distance accurately. (3) I use them for different reasons. Nike + has the slowest GPS tracking. Usually my other two apps are pretty close to each other, but Nike is usually anywhere from .5-.25 off. This isn't a big deal on those shorter runs, but when you run 26 miles that .2 matters A LOT. Or sometimes in the challenges when you run with others, you want to be done and running an extra block can sometimes be a pain. I could go in and edit my run, but that makes me feel dishonest :).

Great for competition
Challenges with friends
App has great features
Constantly updating
Tracks shoe mileage

Treadmill record feature not good
Not as accurate at recording distance.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: Run Like A Mother

Book Review: Run Like A Mother 
by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea

This was a wonderful read, I found this book during my marathon training and it couldn't have been a better motivator. McDowell and Bowen Shea met and became running buddies. Running was only known to me as a solo sport, but having a running pal makes its so much better.  more enjoyable. Running is crazy sport, filled with broken toenails and sore knees. Run Like a Mother embraces this bizarre activity and shares personal stories from mother runners. I really enjoyed reading the personal pieces because it gave me, the reader and sense of belonging. It has 26 chapters, each having a .2 little quip. It discusses topics from diet, pregnancy, trail running, running with an injury, and the essentials to wear on race day.

I didn't realize that I could love running more, until I read this book. Both Shea and McDowell have different views of running (Shea like me is competitive, where as McDowell focuses more on the journey and process.) I enjoyed both of their perspectives and how to be both a mother and a marathoner was truly inspiring. 

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys running and participates in races. Its an easy and very enjoyable read. 

They also have Train Like a Mother, which is high on my to-read list

Also visit Another Mother Runner, Shea and McDowell's fun website.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Taste Test: Reese's Spread

Taste Test: Reese's Spread

As an Influenster, I received a bottle of Reese's Spread. I was so excited to try this product. I love Nutella and was eager to see how it compared. I must say Reese's aren't my favorite candy, but every now and then will crave that sweet and savory taste. Upon receiving the sample, I made some toast and use the Reese's Spread. I really enjoyed the combination of the chocolate and peanut butter. It wasn't like a melted Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup. It had a great consistency and wasn't too rich. We also made crepes this past week and I prefer Reese's Spread as a dessert spread and would use it more likely to enhance my desserts. My family loved the taste, I was surprised at how quickly it was consumed. A major down fall is the ingredients. Sugar is number one followed by peanuts. There are a total of 19 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons. However, comparing it to a similar product, like Nutella (my favorite), which contains 21 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons. Nutella also has sugar as its main ingredient.

I would definitely purchase Reese's Spread again, it's not too sweet, but satisfying and also is versatile in its various uses (fruit, bread, ice cream, crepes, etc).


Amount of sugar per serving

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review: Skinny Bitch

Book Review: Skinny Bitch

I've read this book a few times and also their other book: Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven.

Freedman and Bornouin create a no-nonsense guide to being the healthiest version of you. It's centered mostly on the health aspect and very little in fitness. Their writing style can be a bit harsh, but it really shows their passion on the topic of being healthy.

Skinny Bitch promotes a vegan lifestyle centered around organic. The books delves heavily into the treatment, or mistreatment of animals and animal products; going as far to say that we are eating rotting carcasses. I will admit to an aversion to meat after reading this tell-all. Freedman and Barnouin write about how humans are not made to eat meat, hence the vegan approach to nourishing your body.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Hell Bent

Book Review: Hell-Bent

The title alone is intriguing enough to make you want to know more. Reading the cover further you will see: Obsession, pain, and the search for something like transcendence in competitive yoga. Competitive Yoga sounds like an oxymoron; yoga is synonymous with peace and zen. So to find transcendence in a world of competition seemed interesting, like a secret cult known to only a few...that is exactly what this book is about.

The author Benjamin Lorr writes this memoir of both his journey to fitness and the underworld of yoga.  He shares his story of being overweight and one day being convinced by a friend to try Bikram Yoga. One day, turns into thirty, and then 365 days. Lorr was able to make his way into the secret society of competitive yoga one pose at a time. Lorr opens the closed door of the secret society of Backbenders, known by few. The Backbenders is composed of devoted yogis that manipulate their body in intense poses.

Loor  recounts his experience at a Bikram teacher training that will have you sweating along with him. You'll meet the unforgettable character of Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter Styles: How to Look Hot in Cold Temps

Winter Looks of 2015!

1.Tulip Chi Tank in Shocking Pink by Athleta $44
2. Gypsy Jag by K. Deer $98
3. In A Flash Bra II by Lululemon $52
4. The Infinity Scarf (Zebra/Neon) by Fabletics $14.95
6. Sports Tank Top in Blue/Leopard Print by H & M $9.95
7. Austin Wrap by Fabletics $49.95
8. Lisa Merino Racerback Tank Yellow by Vie Active $55.30
9. Snapshot Crew by Lululemon $128

It's clear this winter that animal prints are still very in. I've seen then everywhere: shorts, pants, sports bras, jackets, tops. The other trend that I am starting to see is detailed tops. Athleta has the Tulip Chi Tank in Shocking Pink (featured above, but also in in light blue and black). Albion Fit also has Petal Pants and Top that you can find here. Both Under Armour and Forever 21 are featuring a new look on the sweat pant, a sleeker chic type of sweat pant.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Are Cheap Workout Clothes Worth It?

Q: Is it worth it to spend that extra cash on workout clothes?

A: It all depends, I suppose, on your level of fitness and the type of activity you are doing.

I have been building my collection of workout clothes for a number of years now. I began my fitness routine in running shorts with the occasional jaunt out, but most of my workouts were at the gym with my girlfriend. I didn't really know anything about gym wear at that time, so I just wore my athletic shorts and a shirt from a work project I had done (little did I know there was so much more to active wear). 

Eventually, I added yoga pants to my wardrobe when I began taking classes at the gym.  Shortly after that I picked up running full time and it was downhill from there (so to speak).

I have bought workout gear from many retail stores including Target, Sports Authority, Sports Chalet, Forever 21, H and M, Nike, Under Armour, and local boutiques. 

Of all of my purchases, Forever 21 and H & M are the place to go for the fashion conscious FIThusiast on a budget. 

I recently bought some clothing at Forever 21 and I love their styles and the affordability of the clothing. Within two washes their pants began to show LOTS of wear. One pair got a hole in the leg and on another pair of pants, the colors bled together.  I never had this problem with other pants (I expect pants to show wear within a few washes, like pilling or fading, but this was a total bummer).  I also bought a pair of pants that are totally adorable (which is why I bought them) and have received many compliments on them.  The only problem is that I can really only wear them for walking. They aren't great running crops and the seam doesn't allow for much pliability, so it makes it difficult to do any exercise that would require this (all of the ones that I enjoy).
I do like Forever 21 sport bras and tops. I haven't seen any excessive wear on them and also appreciate their labels on their sport bras (Minimal support, Maximum support).
I find that H & M is a reasonable place as well and have made several purchases there.  Their pants seem to have held up much better than the Forever 21 pants. They wear and feel like a more expensive pair with ventilation and show common wear after over 60 washes.  

The pro and con breakdown with these cheap alternatives:

Cute styles similar to expensive
Tops are best
H & M pants are a good option
Forever 21 has a good sports bra option

Purpose can be unclear (running tights vs. compression tights)
Wear easily
Lose form/tightness sooner

When selecting training gear, it is important to take into account how hard you are working, how often, and what type of sport. You can pretty much wear whatever you want walking, but when it comes to running/racing, you need to be more picky with your gear. Colder temps require some lining or technology and warmer temps need some breathability in the clothes.

Personally, I feel the extra buck is worth spending on a quality pair of pants. 

The really quality running tights and/or leggings can run from $40-$140 so be warned :)

What is your favorite workout brand?

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