Coffee is a social unifier, people are constantly meeting up for a cup, professing their addiction love on everything from t-shirts to internet memes, and it’s a go-to gift for the person who has everything (because you can never have enough coffee, am I right?). While coffee brings us together, it can also set you apart in your athletic endeavors if optimized properly within a training diet.
Today, I’m spilling the beans on how coffee can improve performance and endurance, increase focus, and provide that extra edge your looking for on race day. Continue reading →
Whether traveling far or near, one thing thing that messes with us “fitness” types most is the disruption that being away from home can cause with normal workout, eating and sleep patterns. If you are heading on a fun-packed Spring Break trip, travelling to a destination race, going overseas for an epic adventure or just making it through yet another business trip, these Five Tips for Fit Spring Travel can keep you feeling happy and healthy despite the craziest itinerary.
I don’t usually do a “5 for Friday” shoutout, but this week has been full of so many interesting, fun, amazing things that I though I should. Then, I realized I had excessively more than 5 things to share – so, you’re getting “15 for Friday!” I’m talking about everything from amazing eco-wellness products from Shiftcon, the lotions I put on my face, a really cool app-based, customized meal delivery service, my latest ambassadorships, the 3M Half Marathon, mystery excitement news, and more! You have to read on to find out all the deets!
The advice to not snack before bed is much more fiction than fact! The real story on noshing at night has a happy ending for those of us who are always hungry. Turns out it’s perfectly okay, if not a “good thing,” to eat a little something before bed, especially if you are trying to build or maintain muscle. However, before you start feeding your midnight munchies, there are exceptions and caveats – aren’t there always?!
Thank you Florastor® Daily Probiotics for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your bottle of Florastor®Daily Probiotics to complement your active lifestyle
!Have you ever become all-out sick, or at a minimum felt like crap on a crumby cracker, a few days after finishing a physically or mentally intense event like a marathon or Ironman, huge work deadline or even hosting a mother-in-law (not mine, of course)? Falling under the weather after the black cloud of stress has lifted isn’t a coincidence; it’s an all-to-real occurrence that is referred to as the “Let Down Effect.”
Various studies have correlated the dissipation or “let down” of real or perceived stress with an increase in common colds, illnesses, flare-ups of chronic conditions like asthma, migraines, tummy trouble and other medical ailments. By now, you’ve heard that chronic stress can make you sick and eventually even kill you, but many are surprised to learn that getting sick after a high-stress event (and while perhaps feeling quite relaxed about life) is all too common. This “Let Down Effect’ happens, in simple terms, due to the weakened state our bodies are left in left in after “things get better” – we use a lot of energy and resources to function in high alert mode without a break
When stressed, physically or mentally, increased levels of cortisol, adrenaline and other hormones put your body in fight-or-flight mode and mask the perception of pain. We are cleverly designed like this to safely and quickly extract ourselves during the threat of danger, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, the immune system can be compromised, especially after prolonged periods of stress, and latent or chronic conditions can flare up.
In addition to these tolls of physical stress, the let down from emotional stress can cause many of the same problems. For example, dopamine (the pleasure and reward hormone) levels can drop, initiating possibly addictive behaviors like over eating, drinking and substance abuse as a person tries to subconsciously find relief.
So, how do you prevent or at least lessen your chances of falling victim to the “Let Down Effect”?
Sleep Well: Sleep deprivation compromises the immune system, so don’t pull all-nighters thinking you’ll come out ahead. Instead, do the best you can to get 7 to 8 hours a night by staying away from large late evening meals (including alcohol and caffeine), avoiding the blue light emitted from screens several hours before bed, taking a warm bath and using a diffuser to mist essential oils like lavender and chamomile.
Exercise Regularly: Moderate-intensity exercise done on a regular basis can keep your body from downshifting too quickly after a high stress event. If you don’t have time for an official jog or workout, try to include at least some extra walking or other movements in your day.
Decompress Frequently: If life is throwing too much your way, schedule non-negotiable “breaks” to relax whether it’s a 10 minute morning meditation, an entire hour devoted to yoga or even just 1 of minute of positive visualization every couple hours.
Nourish Your Immune System: Try vitamin C rich foods like oranges and grapefruit, vitamin E rich foods like sunflower seeds or spinach, zinc rich foods like beef and egg yolks. Probiotics can also help strengthen your digestive balance and support a healthy immune system.
So, speaking of nourishing the body to help allay stress and prevent illness, I’m sharing a couple things I’ve been doing lately to stay as well as I can. You may have read my post last month about a Sleep and Stress test I took recently – it revealed that my cortisol and cortisone levels are highly elevated throughout the entire day without ever falling to normal as they should. This is likely a result of everyday work/family stress magnified by my running and obstacle course training, and chronic lack of sleep — I’m working hard to resolve it.
So, one of the things I started doing was taking Florastor® Daily Probiotics in the morning and evening with my meals – it’s the best-selling probiotic worldwide and backed by 60 years of use and research. So far, I’ve been really happy with how this easy-to-take capsule is bringing my digestion into balance and helping me better maintain my immune function. Florastor® is the only probiotic brand with Saccharomyces boulardii lyo CNCM I-745 which helps restore your natural flora. Florastor® helps my body break down carbs and fiber and naturally absorb water and nutrients from the foods I eat, these are good things for me as I fluctuate from being bloated to dehydrate when under stress. I also appreciate that this product is vegetarian, gluten-free, contains non-GMO ingredients and can be stored at room temperature. While, thankfully, I rarely have taken antibiotics, Florastor® Daily Probiotics can help those that need to be on this medication maintain a healthy flora balance.
I also wanted to share this quick and easy breakfast recipe that is high in zinc – 60 Second 2-Egg & Beef Omelet. Yay, beef and whole eggs are both great sources of zinc, an essential mineral that keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth. My recipe is also high in protein, and you know I’m a stickler for getting approximately 25g of protein at breakfast – the eggs and beef are very satisfying for only 220 calories and keep me from tanking mid-morning. Plus, this microwave mug recipe takes less than 1 minute to prepare and around 60 seconds to cook, so there’s absolutely no stress in making breakfast on even the most frantic mornings!
Have you ever become sick after a period of physical or emotional stress? What do you do to boost your immunity or bounce back from a “tough time” healthy? Please share your comments and tips below – XOXO, Jennifer
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
60-Second 2-Egg & Beef Mug Omelet
Got a minute? Then you've got a healthy, balanced breakfast packed with protein thanks to this super speedy egg recipe that cooks up in 60 seconds.
Training is hard. Rest days are harder, often they can be a hard pill to swallow! I hear this from dedicated runners, triathletes CrossFitters, obstacle course racers, weight-lifters and other hard-core athletes all the time. In fact, I often fight the urge to workout 365, even when I know rationally that my body needs adequate time to recover from a hard effort on the track or in the gym. In part, it’s this drive to go balls out regardless of pain and suffering that distinguishes winners from losers on game day. However, keeping this mindset every day of the week can wear you down mentally, tear you down physically and get you stuck in a rut where you’ve plateaued and are no longer making gains.
But who among the athletic elite (and even us regular people just striving to be the best we can be) want to sit around on the couch all day, waiting for some sort of generic mandate of “not moving a muscle” to pass?! That’s not really the best option mentally and physically either. Activities on these light load days should take into consideration your current fitness level and fatigue felt from the previous workout – less volume, less intensity (less than 60% effort) and keeping it fun are the key points! My go-to active recovery day includes a short walk followed by a gentle, stretching yoga sequence to help flush out toxins and encourage mobility so I’ll be ready to go harder the next day! Here is one of my favorite active recovery “Rest Day” Yoga Workouts:
Getting enough sleep (7 to 8 hours would be optimal), rehydrating with plenty of water (check out my post on 50 Shades of Pee) and eating well with a focus on fresh vegetables and fruit paired with lean proteins are also important to workout recovery.
Another important part of recovery is eating right, right?! Most of us are aware that carbohydrates metabolize into the quickly-sourced energy that powers performance and that consuming a protein-rich snack post-workout (in a 3:1 to 4:1 carb to protein ratio) helps repair muscle and tissue taxed by exercise. But what you eat every day, day in and day out, has a profound effect on athletic performance too – you can’t outrun a poor diet!
In addition to eating a balanced diet of lean proteins, fresh fruits and veggies and healthy whole grains, I I also take a daily multivitamin to make sure my bases are covered. Every Woman’s One Daily Multivitamin from New Chapter caught my attention from the hundreds (if not 1000s of different brands out there) because of the way that it’s made. These vitamins are fermented with probiotics and whole foods and gentle enough to take any time – even first thing in the morning on an empty stomach! I’ve never feel woozy or nauseous after taking any of their products.
Every Woman’s One Daily Multivitamin from New Chapter is ideal for active women because it contains extra nutrients for energy support, stress support†, immune support and bone support.* And, this award-winning vitamin (BEST Multivitamin Award. Delicious Living 2016 Supplement Awards) is Non-GMO Project Verified, made with certified organic vegetables & herbs, vegetarian, kosher, gluten free and has no synthetic fillers. I love how they are equally helpful to the planet as they are to us – all ingredients are mindfully and sustainably sourced!
You can purchase Every Woman’s One Daily Multivitamin at a number of online retailers including Amazon.com– love how I can usually get free shipping and also save by setting up a subscription (because, it really sucks to run out of vitamins)!
What are your tips for recovery and general wellness for an active lifestyle? Are you racing competing, training or taking it easy this weekend — please share in the comments, I’d love to chat! XOXO — Jennifer
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, care, or prevent any disease.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.
I think my new “Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live NOW” shirt sums it all up to a T! When a company whose products you already love, loves you back with double-puffy-hearted hospitality, it’s a win-win-win – for me, for them, for YOU! Recently, I was invited to visit Now Foods at their Midwest Operations Facility and Corporate Headquarters in Bloomingdale, IL (a suburb of Chicago) to learn more about their products lines, core values and mission to “enable people to live healthier lives.” It was a fun and fact-filled two days with a group of other health and fitness influencers. Of course, we naturally had fit a group workout into the festivities and headed over to Lifetime Fitness for a specially developed HIIT workout that targeted 9 body parts to promote Target’s awesome athletic line called “C9.” That serious sweat session was followed by a bit of relaxing yoga and a delicious post-workout smoothie made with nourishing NOW products. My excitement is bubbling over from seeing with my own eyes how NOW products are made from start to finish and meeting with company executives including Jim Emme (CEO) and Dan Richard (son of founder). Oh, and by the way, please feel free to take a virtual tour of the Midwest Operations Facility yourself! Not only did I get a chance to tour the facilities, but also got to participate in some fun and educational sessions including a presentation by the lovely Dr. Wendy Bazilian on Food Tribes (more about this in an upcoming post) and impact these different diet choices (like Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan, etc) have on athletic performance. It was also fun to partake in a DIY session where we made our own Aromatherapy Bath Soak and also Exercise Equipment Cleaning Spray using very versatile and pesticide/herbicide free Now Essential Oils. So, to recap my amazing experience, I want to share with you three awesome things I learned about this honest, totally-transparent and quality-focused company that started out way-back-when in 1968 as a simple health food store. Also, make sure to read through to the end, they are generously sponsoring an enormous giveaway of products for one lucky reader to win! 1) NOW Foods makes and sells nearly everything on my shopping list! Seriously, I think this company makes almost everything I need to support my healthy living . . . except fresh fruit and vegetables. Not only does Now Foods make a vast array of vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition products (how I first found them), but they also have an impressive selection of personal care and wellness items, essential oils, healthy foods and even natural pet care products! Even though this large company produces so many different items, each individual product is very thoughtfully and carefully made — it’s as if each came from a single-focus boutique operation. There is just that much passion among the employees at this company that has been recognized as one of the “101Best & Brightest” to work in the nation!
Over here to the left, a couple of the protein powders that started my love affair with NOW Foods. Oh, and their food lines is amazing and so many of their products, from BetterStevia™ (it really is better) to gourmet, small-batch Ellyndale Foods™ to , are the foundation for many of my healthy recipes on the blog including my Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing (I used their organic hemp seeds and avocado oil for this yummy summer dish). Also, the Living Now™ line up is has a nice variety of tasty, junk-free products that make it easier and more convenient to keep a gluten-free diet. We also had an interesting and informative “oil tasting” led by the adorable and talented Executive Chef in their corporate test kitchen. Apparently, there is a proper way to appreciate the flavor of oils (think wine tasting) and I slurped in little bits of various oils one at a time, from pumpkin seed and almond to olive and sesame, and let them slowly wash over my tongue! At the end of this taste-test, I have very moist lips as a whipped up a homemade berry salad dressing using the macadamia nut oil. We also made to-go salads for our travel home that day and packed our jars from a rainbow array of produce, nuts and healthy grains – of course, I went straight to the Organic Tri-Colored Quinoa from NOW Real Food™ , one of my favorites ( because, when meat isn’t on the menu, this near-celebrity-status seed offers a complete amino acid chain). 2) NOW products are a blessing for my body and budget Now Foods products are both affordable AND high-quality — gasp, I know! These two factors are important to so many of us trying to live, role model and share our passion for the “fit life.” It’s such a common assumption in the natural health food and supplement industry that the more expensive, the better — not so! In fact, many times (not always), an expensive product is actually quite cheap in quality and just jacked up with a big marketing budget. But NOW Foods never tries to trick you into thinking that you’re getting something you’re not. They don’t waste money (which is ultimately your $) on overkill advertising because they are confident that their products always stand up to the test – literally!
My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality AND affordable, whoohoo!
Just one example, I can get NOW Whey Protein Isolate for double the amount for half the price (okay, that’s a generalization, but the point is it’s a very good deal) as many other brands I’ve tried – plus the macros are spot on in my opinion, as opposed to many of the other protein powder options out there. Same goes for product after product in their collection of hundreds (if not thousands) of different items. NOW also maintains a highly efficient, low-error operations facility that helps keep costs down. And, because NOW is privately-owned, they don’t have to jack up prices to please profit-margin focused shareholders – actually, NOW wants to please YOU, even if that means a little less moola in their own pockets 3) NOW Tests to be the Best
Learning some of the high-tech testing that goes on at the $40M lab at NOW.
So what did I just mean when I just said in #2 that “products always stand up to the test”? I mean that NOW is highly committed to quality and bringing you the cleanest, safest products. Their 263,000 square foot facility is widely regarded as one of the most scientifically-advanced in the natural products industry. The $40+ million lab of this privately-owned company is simply amazing and is nearly unmatched both nationally and world-wide. I could tell from the giddy grins on the otherwise serious chemists, bio-scientists and other laboratory professionals’ faces that the NOW lab was THE place to be. Not only does NOW test the quality of their finished products, but they also monitor and maintain quality all through the entire manufacturing process which starts with product development and receiving raw ingredients from vendors and ends with storing in appropriate thermostatically-controlled environments and shipping out from a precision-inspired, highly-streamlined warehouse. They also keep samples from each batch of products for a lengthy six years to ensure that if there ever is a problem, they can identify and correct immediately. I really appreciate that NOW is very transparent about the make-up of their natural products, ingredient lists and macros for nearly everything on their website. Plus, with all this testing I’ve described – I am 100% confident I’m getting what’s sold. Plus, they stand by their products if there ever is a rare, rare, rare exception. The overwhelming majority of NOW products certified organic and non-GMO, those few that aren’t are always in the pipeline to meet those standards as soon as viable in the ingredient sourcing process. Feel free to read more about the Must Use Ingredients and Must NEVER Use Ingredients. Join the twitter chat on June 16th (9PM EST) to learn get into the conversation — follow @NOWfoodsand #NOWgetfit Enter my giveaway for a huge haul of NOW products, the same two huge bags of items they sent me home with! It’s so much stuff, I can’t even describe it all – but it’s a bit of everything (probably $200+ at least) and you won’t be disappointed! USA only! Thank you FitFulFocus.com for the photo of loot, because I was so excited to try everything that I forgot to snap a pic! Don’t miss #NOWGetFit Twitter Party 6/16 9pm EST w/ me @NowFoods and @Fitfluential #ad a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sometimes I stumble onto something while shopping and I’m all like “ooooh, I want that so bad. . . but I totally don’t need it right now, I have way too many.” Usually, I cave in . . . and quick! Case in point, the continually growing size of my already enormous running shoe, compression sock, flip flop, trucker hat, miniature bowl, exotic herb, flavored tea and protein powder collections.
Yeah, yeah, I have a stock pile of protein powder of all different ilks and ingredients . . . some of it I found, must most found me for review or recipe development. Naming a “best” protein powder is really so subjective, basically it boils down to individual nutrition needs, lifestyle, taste and tolerance. But, dang, some protein powders are definitely choices than others! My practical side tells me to use up all my stash before I actually BUY the product I prefer.But let me tell you, I recently found a protein powder that had me running to the trash with my mother lode of “meh” products – it’s the Organic Protein from The Natural Citizen. By the way, use coupon code THEFITFORK to get $10 off your purchase at TheNaturalCitizen.com
This new plant-based Organic Protein powder is totally on point to boost your next smoothie, but I’ve also used it for baking everything from pancakes and cookies – check out my Giant Cherry Almond Protein Breakfast Cookie recipe below! This protein powder is sublimely simple, and that gives me control over what I do or don’t put it my recipe. On its own, this powdered supplement has just four organic, whole food ingredients – hemp protein, brown rice protein, pea protein, and sacha inchi protein. One serving delivers 15 grams of vegan protein per serving along with fiber, omega fatty acids and amino acids – oh, and for only 80 calories! Plus, there are no added flavors and other undesirable “extras” so the taste of Mother Nature’s other wholesome food can shine through.
So, raise your hand if you want a cookie for breakfast but thing you shouldn’t?! Well, my single-serve Giant Cherry Almond Protein Breakfast Cookie will make you think you’re really splurging first thing out of bed, but actually its super healthy and balanced with 25 grams protein for sustained energy and muscle-making and 25 clean carbs to help power your body and brain for the morning’s tasks, workouts or whatever you do! In about 15 minutes from start to finish, you’ll be enjoying a super-sized, under-300-calorie cookie with your morning coffee – and that’s my cup of tea! It’s also gluten-free, if that is a concern.
The Natural Citizen has a full line of other wonderful products that are all non-gmo, organic, gluten-free and vegan including Organic Digest, Organic Greens, and Organic Energy.As a totally on-the-go person who probably doesn’t get as much sleep as she needs, I’ve fallen in love with the Organic Energy. This blend features maca, quinoa, green tea and Rhodiola rosea to offer truly balanced and uniquely simple energy support – no more getting jacked up on too much caffeine. I found the ripest, sweetest Texas melon yesterday and blended up this recipe for a Honeydew Natural Energy Smoothie.
This is how you make the Honeydew Natural Energy Smoothie:
Blend together and pour in tall glass (or melon bowl):
What is your go-to morning meal? Are you getting enough protein at breakfast (you need around 25g)?! What are your non-negotiables in a protein powder? What do you “collect”? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
Giant Cherry Almond Protein Breakfast Cookie (Gluten-free)