There are tons of review blogs out there, so, let it be known now that I am not a review blog. However, I will tell people about my discoveries from time to time, just because, well, I think they are awesome and who am I to hoard the info?
First stop: Food (of course)!
Noah’s Bagels Coffee: I often wondered why in the heck there was a Noah’s Bagels in Culver City that was directly adjacent to a Starbucks. It seemed to me that such a move was a nail in the proverbial coffee coffin. I’d always headed to the “bucks” because of their flavorful, winter-y concoctions for my bi-weekly budgeted coffee treat, but today I decided to grab a bagel and a coffee quaff at Noah’s. Aribica beans are used for Noah’s blends, and, with the first sip of my dark roast, I knew it was no ordinary brew. Multi-tonal, rich and amazing, this coffee takes the (coffee) cake!
Nature Valley Protein Granola Bar (in Peanut, Almond and Dark Chocolate): Peanuts and chocolate are the best things on the planet, but a lot of granola bars or health bars have so many additives that you can’t really taste the true marriage of the flavors. Not this bar. As soon as I bit into it, I wanted to sing its praises. Plus, there are 10g of protein per bar and only 190 cals. Oh, and I got a box on sale yesterday at CVS for only $2.99. Yep, you’re welcome.
Trader Joe’s Cranberry Chevre: Cranberry-covered goat cheese is just the thing to pair with a glass of Cab for an evening snack, or as a last-minute party appetizer. Seriously, this stuff is addictive, and only $3.99 for an 8oz log. TJ’s also says to spread it on that leftover turkey sandwich you’ll be bound to be making for the next week after. Sounds like a plan, Stan!
Bolthouse Farms Holiday Nog: If you’re an eggnog fan, but not a fat and calories fan, I have your answer. I am already a Bolthouse fangirl, but I was awesomely surprised by their limited edition healthy eggnog-like drink. I was even further surprised to learn that it only has 80 calories and contains carrot juice, and it’s also incredibly delicious. What’s “nog” to love?
Second Stop: Apparel & Gear
Gore Cycling Apparel (Winter): I didn’t want to spend my money. I’m unemployed still. However, when the salesguy at Cynergy Cycles in Santa Monica pointed me to a brand new rack of Gore Winter apparel and I saw my dream jacket, The Phantom 2.0 SO Lady Windstopper, my wallet opened. Not only is it an attractive, warm jacket that can be layered over other active gear, or, heck, worn with street clothing, the sleeves zip off and it becomes a warm, functional cycling jersey. So, basically, you’re getting a jacket and a jersey for the price of one item. At least that’s what I tell myself after shelling out $180 for one item.
Old Navy Athletic Clothing: Runners, run yourselves over to Old Navy! Their compression and dri-fit gear is great. The cuts are flattering and the material is functional. I wore a pair of their crops in the Catalina Eco Marathon–no chafing! I wear their long sleeve dri-fit shirts (with thumbholes–luv!) under my running tees or cycling jersey. or by themselves. They fit fantastically and are a cost-effective alternative to costly brand name base layers. Sure, they’re not merino, but they work to block the wind and keep you relatively dry (which, coming from a sweat-er like me, means a lot).
Gymboss Interval Timer: New to running or using the Jeff Galloway walk/run method and don’t want to break the bank on an expensive watch just yet? Grab one of these! Sure, it kind of looks like an old school pager, but it clips easily onto your running belt and can go forever on one AAA battery! Plus, it beeps AND vibrates, which can be a great thing to have when you’re running in a noisy space. It’s easy to change and is a handy little tool if you just want to go for a stress-busting run and not fuss about pace, turnover or distance. At only $19.95, it’ll be your budget-friendly running buddy until you can splurge on one of those fancy Garmins.
P.S. If anyone can recommend a good, cost-effective winter cycling legging, I would be eternally grateful!
Third Stop: Other Stuff
Anti-Stress Technique: We all know that working out can help relieve some stress and lift a person’s mood, but, if that doesn’t cut it, I learned a great technique that has really helped me to quiet my mind and alleviate some of the pain of worry. First, focus on your breath. Breath deeply, but not forced. Focus on the air moving in and out of your lungs, rushing in and out of your nostrils. After focusing 100% on your breath, become aware of your heart beating. Feel your heart and your breath. After you feel focused on those two things, add another subtle touch sensation, such as the air moving across your skin, or the softness of your mattress if you’re lying in bed. It only takes a few moments, but it really, really helps. Plus, it’s free!
Inspirational Stories: I live for inspirational stories of people who decided to get fit and give up the couch once and for all, and do so with a great combination of humility, determination and, at times, humor. One of the books I read and couldn’t put down was Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir by Jeanette Fulda, which depicts a young woman’s autobiographical journey out of morbid obesity in a way that is both light-hearted and real. Even if you’re not struggling with your weight, it’s a wonderfully motivational, uplifting read. Also, next Spring, look out for a new season of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition with professional trainer, Chris Powell. I’m not a big reality TV fan, or a big crier, but, somehow, every episode has me fixated and welling up with emotion. What I like about Chris is that he truly cares about his clients in an overall sense, and puts their mental and physical health first. Yes, he demands a lot of them in order to make a drastic change in one year’s time, but he never shames them, yells, or forces them to do anything. It’s about each individual’s personal journey to overcome the source of their poor eating and exercise habits, which is what is essential to anyone’s sustainable healthy lifestyle. In fact, one of the things that inspired me to do an Ironman was watching a 300-lb guy complete an Olympic distance triathlon, and a 250-lb woman complete a half marathon. If they can do it, so can I.
So, there you have it. This is what is interesting me now. How about you? Any new products, techniques or ideas that have sparked your interest? Let me know!