Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summer

Oh, glory! IT is here! Well, actually, I write this having one more partial day of work ahead of me, but I have no actual work to do (shh! Don't tell. Someone might find something for me.), so I'm not really counting it. Maybe one of the reasons I became a teacher really was June and July. They are definitely why I don't want to leave the teaching profession!

As I sit on the cusp of long days of living like a pro-athlete (a girl can dream, can't she?), I can't help but feel a slight sense of panic. Life has become so very different now that I have TWO sons in high school. Like the sand on the beach, I'm starting to feel the moments with my sons slipping through my hands, leaving behind just a few grains of memories.

Now that they're older, there is that temptation to just let them do. To let them go their own ways with their friends, so that I can do. All those things that I never could with them hugging my legs or shouting, "MOM!" every 5 seconds. Yes, I'm enjoying finding "me" time again. Finding my handsome Groom again. But those "me" moments quickly turn into hours into days into weeks, and suddenly my oldest is looking down on me for conversation (in the literal, not the teenage, sense). And frankly, my youngest is, too. Shoulders are broader, jaws stronger, voices deeper. And it takes my breath away when I realize that for a minute, I didn't even recognize my young man in a crowd.

So, this summer, I've decided that I'm going to slow time. Yes. I am. This summer is the summer of the family "To Do." It's not original, and I'm not trying to claim it as such. We are going to create a treasure of some things that each of us want to do. And then we will force the whole family to participate. Because sometimes those things that you most DON'T want to do become the very things that you are most grateful that you've done.

Look, I'm not going to tell you this is the best idea ever and that you have to do it. And frankly, I'm not ever sure it's going to work. But I figure I have one last shot before these two kids start driving, so I'm going for it. Less social media, more family social time. Less "me" time, more mi familia time.

This is going to be THE best. summer. ever. And I'm going to drag my teens, eye rolling and grunting, into it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nuts 'N More Product Review

I was recently sent some products to sample. "Some products" would be the understatement of the century. Let me rephrase...

I came home the other day to a box containing the most heavenly delicious and mostly nutritious food item I may have ever tasted.
I was not paid or coerced into making that statement. It's completely true.

Nuts 'n More Peanut Butter

I. Love. Peanut Butter. This lovely product, Nuts 'n More Peanut Butter, contains peanuts, flax, whey protein and natural sweetener (xylitol), canola oil and maple extract. That's it. I physically had to restrain myself from eating the whole jar.

My initial reaction was that it is too sweet. But after stirring well, it didn't seem quite as sweet, or I had just gotten used to the taste. The flax is mixed in, so the texture of the peanut butter is smooth and very creamy. I personally think they don't need the canola oil because I can literally pour the product out of the jar-- a little too creamy, plus canola oil = no bueno.

Nuts 'n More Chocolate Peanut Butter

Actually, I'm afraid to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter. I know how tasty the peanut butter is, I can only imagine how much more delicious the Chocolate version is. Ok. For the good of my 5 faithful blog readers... I'm going in!

Just as I suspected... DELICIOUS! Ingredients: peanuts, flax whey protein, natural sweetener (xylitol), cocoa, natural extract. Again, the ingredients are all natural. After opening and stirring (for quite some time), to distract myself from devouring the entire jar, I spooned some into the pancake batter and made my sons some chocolate peanut butter pancakes. YUM! I actually expected this version to be super sweet, but didn't find it to be so. It's pleasantly sweet, I think the cocoa helps balance the sweetness. Again, the product is quite thin and probably could be poured from the container. (Last night, my husband actually topped his baked sweet potato with it for a twist.)

The Positives:

Taste-- both are really yummy. 
Ingredients-- all natural. Smooth and creamy
Nutrition Facts-- For both PB and Chocolate PB: Calories 188; Fat 12g; Carbs 6g (Fiber 5g); Protein 14g. 

The Not-so-Positives:

I need to preface this by saying, I have a huge problem with sweets. Huge. Both of these products have just enough sweetness to trigger the strong desire in me to binge. While these products are incredibly yummy and mostly nutritious, this is a product that I have to treat as a dessert. Otherwise, I will eat the whole jar. (Yes, I have issues.) 

Bottom Line:

This is a great line of products for people who are looking for a healthy alternative to typical peanut butter and/or Nutella. The fiber and protein added are a great bonus. 

Order Nuts 'n More and other great supplements through Reload Fitness and use my code RFAmy for a discount!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why It's Good to NOT be Satisfied

About a month ago, I was accepted as a contributor for WOD Talk Magazine. This week, I had my first article published with them. I found out yesterday and was really excited. Published! Another baby step toward being a real writer (what I want to be when I grow up).

But I was thinking about that during a monster of a workout today.* Mostly, I was thinking about how that excitement is already fading. Today, an article published doesn't make me as happy as it did yesterday. Tomorrow, even less so, I'm sure. Because that was yesterday's victory. I want more. Will another be published? Will it get more likes? Comments? Shares? Am I selfish? Too proud? Too egotistical?

How about you? Do you also find yourself wanting more? Not happy where you currently are in life? Continually looking for satisfaction? That next thing that you have to have that will be THE thing?

First, let me say, I believe that we were made to crave more. Made to never find complete satisfaction. Made with a gaping hole that we continue to throw things at, hoping it will be filled. I completely believe that we were made to search until we find our true satisfaction in God. I believe and have found to be true in my own life, as Blaise Pascal said in Pensees:
"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
Although I've found that deep, soul-satisfaction in God, I still want more. I can be content. The lack of satisfaction just causes me to continually push for more. 
Sometimes it really bothers me. Why can't I just be happy with this (any!) achievement? Why am I never quite done? 
But today I realized... that "must have more" mentality is exactly what makes me a good athlete. My desire for more means I want to run faster. I want to get one more rep. I want to lift heavier. I want to get a faster time than her, than him, than me yesterday. 
I could be better. Could be faster. Could be stronger. 
So, I guess I'm ok with getting no satisfaction. But I will continue to chase it. 

*Part 1: 15 min. AMRAP of 10 wall balls, 10 box jumps, 10 burpees. Part 2: 5 Rounds for Time of 5 snatches, 10 tire flips, 15 incline push ups, 800M run

Thursday, May 1, 2014

GNC PUREDGE Product Review

GNC recently released a new product line called PUREDGE. I was fortunate enough to be sent a box of free samples to try. I was given three different products, and now that I've had a chance to use them, I thought I'd write up a review.

I should preface this by saying that my protein and supplement purchases aren't based on taste or mix-ability or anything else really, except price. Actually, now that I've moved to a high fat-low carb diet, I'm very careful to save my carbs for fruit, not as additives in protein powder.

The tagline on the PUREDGE products is "Super Natural Performance." According to the product label,
GNC PUREDGE™ sets the new standard for quality, nature-based sports nutrition without sacrificing delicious taste or the performance benefits you'd expect from the industry leader by providing powerful natural compounds and clinically studied ingredients. Each product is certified banned substance free, contains no unhealthy artificial additives, and features a powerful Functional Flavor System that utilizes active flavoring ingredients to go beyond delicious taste and deliver additional healthy functional benefits. These innovative products give you a strong and wholesome foundation for personal improvement in any fitness pursuit.
Daily Energy Performance Energizer ($36.99 member price for 1.13 lbs. = 30 servings)
Positives: I tried the Natural Cherry Limeade flavor. It was pretty tasty; it reminded me a little of a sweet tart. It contains some carbs (just 9g and 1g from sugar), 5g of protein, natural forms of caffeine, and beta-alanine. I really like this product. I used it during 2 different CrossFit competitions and found it provided a sufficient energy boost to carry me through a second WOD of the day.

Not-so-positives: My husband tried it, and found it too sweet, which I find interesting because it contains only natural sweeteners. The only downside for me is the amount of caffeine. I started taking it as my daily pre-workout and found that it was affecting my sleep. It's just too much caffeine for me to take at 4 pm. Which is a bummer, because I really do like the product. (*I would say that I'm a little sensitive to caffeine.)

Complete Amino Daily Muscle Replenishment ($39.99 member price for 1.08 lbs. = 30 servings)
Positives: The flavor is good-- Natural Tropical Punch. The product contains
  • Refreshing 7.5g Amino Blend for Added Muscle Support*
  • Includes 2.5g of clinically Proven Betaine + 1g Carnitine and 1g Glutamine to Protect & Repair Muscle*
  • Supports Healthy Hydration and Protects from Everyday Stressors* *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I like that this (and all products in this line) contains no banned substances, no preservatives or artificial anything, no GMO- or gluten- added ingredients, no wheat, yeast, fish, egg or sugar alcohols.

Not-so-positives: I find that when mixed in a shaker cup with water, there are little particles that don't dissolve. So, as I drink it, there is a slightly gritty texture. I have to add more water to the empty bottle and swish to be sure I drink all of the serving. Also, I'm not sure about the results. I haven't noticed a marked improvement in recovery (but then again, if I don't take this particular product, I take other BCAAs. And I've definitely noticed better recovery after adding BCAAs.)

Complete Protein Whole Foods-Based Protein ($49.99 member price for 2.57 lbs. = 24 servings)
Positives: Honestly, in the past I haven't thought at all about what is in my protein powder. However, as I've become more educated and switched to a low carb diet, I'm more concerned with the extras that are in my supplements. I love that this is a protein powder with all natural ingredients and none of the junk. Complete Protein contains
COMPLETE PROTEIN WHOLE-FOOD-BASED PROTEIN
  • Delicious 20g Protein Blend Sweetened with Stevia and Monk Fruit*
  • Provides 1 Serving of Fruits & Veggies plus CHIA & CLA*
  • Over 5g of Amino Acids for Post-Workout Muscle Care*
  • Promotes Satiety & Healthy Digestion with 5g Fiber
I also love that this protein contains a serving of fruit and veggies. Plus, it tastes pretty good and mixes well with water. It does tastes quite a bit like chocolate milk-- I suppose it's the buttermilk. So be aware, this product does contain milk and soy.

Not-so-positives: I guess the downside for me is the price. On average I buy protein that sells for about $10 a pound. So, this is quite a bit more. However, at the time this blog is being typed, GNC is offering a "buy one, get one half off" sale. The only other issue I have is the carb count. One serving contains 16 grams of carbs. The sugar count is only 5 grams, but following a low-carb diet, I have been cutting the servings in half and mixing it with 1/2 a serving of a lower carb protein powder. I'm willing to forgive the higher carbs because the product contains a full serving of fruits and veggies. I would just rather eat my fruit than drink it in a protein shake.

Final word: I'm very happy that GNC is producing a product that is natural and free from so much of the bad "stuff" that is found in supplements. I applaud this product line and encourage you to try it!

Yes, GNC gave me the samples for free, but my opinions are completely my own.