' Adventures with FitNyx: August 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Product Review: Bulu Box

There are dozens of subscription box services out there these days, especially for health and fitness enthusiasts, but one name keeps popping up in all of my circles: Bulu Box.  This little orange box comes direct to your door every month, delivering samples of the latest and greatest in health and wellness products so you're always in the loop.  And for only $10 per month, it's one of the cheapest subscription boxes out there.

***UPDATE: I ended up receiving a six month subscription to Bulu Box after this review.  I have since received five additional boxes, and my opinion of Bulu Box decreases every month.  At the end of this review I talked about how regular subscriptions have the opportunity to fill out a profile to receive more relevant samples in each box - well, those profiles mean absolutely NOTHING.  I said I cannot have caffeine, am not pregnant (nor planning to be), and have no allergies.  Most of the products I have received since creating my profile have been caffeine products, with various allergy and pre-natal products showing up pretty frequently as well.  I have yet to receive a box that has more than one product I can actually use, and I also have not received the value I would expect from such a well known service.  Speaking of service, it's basically non-existent at Bulu Box.  My emails to customer service got me a "too bad, so sad" response that did nothing to keep my confidence as a consumer.  Gotta say it - I very strongly recommend you AVOID Bulu Box and try something else.  Check my product reviews page for other options.***

This is a fabulous service - in theory.  But what do you actually GET in a Bulu Box, and is it really worth the subscription?  Thanks to SweatPink and FitApproach, I got the opportunity to try a box myself!  I've been playing with my samples all week, and it's time to share my experience with Bulu Box and this month's products.

Disclaimer: I received one Bulu Box free of charge in exchange for my review.  No additional compensation was provided.  All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

This month's box featured some Fusion Jerkey, Runa tea, Simple Being diet supplements, Movit energy gummies, and Earth's Care anti-itch cream.  Just from opening the box, I learned an important lesson about Bulu: not every product provides enough to fully test its effects!

For example, the Simple Being Simple Diet supplement packet contained only two pills, which is only one day's worth of product.  For a weight loss supplement, that's nowhere near enough to see any noticable results, even if it was a product I'd need.  I took my one-day-dose and didn't notice any changes whatsoever.  And supposing one day would be enough to notice weight-loss results somehow, there's still no guarantee that one's body chemistry that specific day would jive with the product on the first try.  Weight loss and chemical reactions within individuals take more than one day to judge and monitor, so this product's inclusion in the Bulu Box was probably not the best choice.

The Runa Guayusa Tea is another good example of not-quite-enough.  While one tea bag was certainly enough to get a taste for one of the flavors (I had the tradition flavor, but there are others available that I did not get to try), I'm not sure one cup of tea was enough to notice if I really received the "clean energy" guayusa is supposed to provide.  Much like the diet supplement, a single sample point is too unpredictable: in this case, I drank my Runa on the way to my brother's wedding rehersal, so I'm pretty sure I had lots of excitable energy from the occasion, NOT from the tea.  I did enjoy the earthy, very drinkable flavor, but I don't believe I had enough to thorougly test the product's effects.

On the other hand, the Fusion Jerky provided came in an almost full-size bag, with more than enough lemon pepper chicken jerky to share!  There are several other flavors to try, as well, but as with the tea, apparently different Bulu Box recipients each receive a random flavor.  I don't actually eat jerky, but my parents were happy to sample some and share their thoughts:
It was good!  I had some!  Soft parts were delicious, easy to chew, and tasted like rich bacon.  The hard parts were tougher and more jerky-like - still good!  ~Papa FitNyx
I give it about a 7.  I had one piece, and it was surprisingly... different.  Changed my perception of jerky!   ~Mama FitNyx
I also had more than enough of the Earth's Care Anti-Itch Cream to properly sample, though I somehow managed to not feel itchy for the majority of my testing time!  Once I did start to experience some itching, however, I slathered on some of this thick minty cream and almost instantly started to feel better.  My only complaint is that the cream is REALLY thick, and didn't rub in very easily, even though I tried to use only a small amount.  The sample size included in the Bulu Box will probably last me the rest of the year, making this product the most usable sample of the whole bunch.

Finally, I attempted to try the Movit Energy Gummies before one of my group ex nights.  They melted in the car on the way to my classes!  I tried to peel the wrapper off to eat the gummy mass anyway once it cooled down, but it was just too sticky and blobby.  Tasted just a little of it, good flavor, but I wasn't able to eat enough to have any real effect.  Also, the package recommended eating "one or two bags" before exercise, but Bulu only sent one package.  It seems odd to me that the actual printed serving size is more than what was provided, though I have no idea if the one packet would have been sufficient for me anyway since I couldn't eat it!

Overall, I'm going to be honest: I wasn't too thrilled with my Bulu Box.  I had a couple products I didn't really need or want, and a few that simply didn't provide enough product for me to fully understand what benefits might come from extended use.  This month's box was not very "me", and that definitely tainted my view of Bulu Box as a whole.

BUT.  Then I did some more research.  It seems MY experience with Bulu Box was only a tiny fraction of what the company offers to regular subscribers!  Yes, I got a box, but what I was missing was the whole point of Bulu: a custom-tailored service that provides far more than just a handful of samples!  With a regular subscription to Bulu Box, members create personal profiles that highlight their lifestyles, habits, preferences, allergies, and aversions, which allows Bulu to make more educated selections for the contents of each box.  Receiving customized samples would definitely add a lot of value to a subscription!  Additionally, members can review the products they sample and earn points towards the purchase of full-size versions of their favorite sample products.

There's so much more to Bulu than just a little orange box!  For the full experience, try it out yourself, and be sure to create your personal profile for custom samples!  In fact, thanks to SweatPink and FitApproach, you can even take 50% off a three month subscription using promo code SWEATPINK when you sign up!  Be sure to rate the products you receive and update your profile when you find things you love - and share with all of US!  #LoveBulu #sweatpink @BuluBox @FitApproach

Have you tried a subscription box service like Bulu?  What were some of your favorite products?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wedding Weekend Recap Part 1 (Pic Heavy!)

My brother is the most amazing person on the face of the planet.

This weekend, he married his true soulmate, the only person I've ever met who was truly worthy of him.  Ever looked at a perfect couple and felt the bond between them even from a distance?  That's how every moment is for these two.  And the wedding was every bit as perfect, elegant, fun, and heartwarming as their relationship.

We traveled to New Jersey, where Meredith's family lives, and from the moment we simply drove by the reception hall, I knew this would be one heck of a classy affair!  The church, near the Princeton campus, only confirmed the splendor we'd be enjoying all weekend.  My family has never been excessively classy, but the bride's side welcomed us with open arms regardless, and we definitely stepped up our game to match, at least for a few days!

I had the honor of attending as a bridesmaid, which was a first for me.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not exactly a dressy, elegant, proper type of gal - but anyone who saw me this past weekend would be stunned.  In fact, literally my entire family actually was stunned!  I heard variations on "wow you clean up REALLY well!" all weekend.  Meredith's taste is impeccable, so the bridesmaids' dresses and the jewelry she gave us as a gift were not only gorgeous but flattering on every one of us.  We also had our hair done together, and the woman hired was a true artist.  Quick and efficient, but producing glamourous results for each girl.  Just as she does with Matt, Meredith brought out the best in each of us this weekend - not only with our appearance, but also our smiles and our souls.

The bride most likely inherited her eye for detail and refinement from her mother, who was instrumental in the planning and execution of an event so magical I almost can't describe it properly.  Nothing was left unprepared, and everything was done to the highest of standards.  I was impressed from start to finish - from the stunningly beautiful wedding dress, to the majesty and intimacy of the ceremony, to the unbridled splendor of the reception, to all the little details the photographer always managed to capture perfectly.

I'm going to take a second here to apologize for the structure of this post.  This wedding was beyond description, and I'm struggling to figure out how best to talk about it.  I know I'm bouncing around all over the place, and my writing today (or rather, all week, as I've been working on this for days) isn't my most coherent, but I'm trying to make sharable sense out of sheer magic.  Never before have I had so much trouble putting things into words, but almost every bit of this entire weekend took my breath away.  I'm overwhelmed with pride and love for these two, I just hope that is coming across in this post!

My favorite part, by far, of the entire event was watching my brother's face as she started down the aisle.  His eyes welled up, and though he managed not to actually cry, I sure couldn't hold back!  Every glance they shared was full of unbridled love, and it radiated through every person in attendance.  The people that surround this couple are some of the most sincerely good people I've ever met.  The bridal party was just super.  Though I didn't really know any of them prior to this weekend (even Matt's local friends had never really been my acquaintances) I was welcomed into the fold as if I'd been part of the group all along.  Family and friends from both sides came together and celebrated with genuine excitement.  I must admit I'm a little jealous of the community those two have built - but then again, no one in the world deserves it (or has earned it) more than they do (and have)!

While the church part was definitely classy and beautiful, the ceremony was pretty standard.  The REAL magic was at the reception, and this is the part I know I'm not able to do justice through words.  I also don't have the photos yet - anything posted here so far came from before the reception, because the photographer busted her butt to put together a slideshow of the day's events BEFORE the reception started, which was crazy impressive.  In fact... now that I think about it, maybe I'll save the reception for another day, when I have photos to properly illustrate the sheer scale and splendor we experienced!  That'll wrap this post up here before I get too much more rambly, and will let me refocus around my visual aids, so perhaps the next post will be a little better written!  For now, let me leave you with one last photo - my best "I look like Anna Kendrick" shot from the wedding photos!

All photo credits go to the amazing Janet Lanza Photography.  After years of event planning and execution, I can honestly say I've never seen such incredible work done with a camera.  Janet did not overlook a single detail.  She has a fabulous eye for locations and arrangements, and she and her daughters were both professional and delightful!  THANK YOU AGAIN for capturing my brother's love so perfectly!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wedding bound! Back next week!

Hey team, just a quick heads-up that I'll be out for the next few days for my brother's wedding.  I meant to have some posts up this week, but last minute prep work too over my schedule!  I have LOTS for y'all when I get back, though, including some exciting product reviews and giveaways, so be sure to check back next week!  HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Communitas and the Racing Community

When I wrote about my experience at the Soul Pose yoga festival, I mentioned the concept of communitas briefly.  After a few weeks working at various races, most notably for the Dirty Girl mud run series, I think now is a good time to expand a bit on the power of communitas in the fitness industry, as I see week after week the way communitas works itself into the lives of so many participants as well as my own life.

Most often, communitas is discussed in a religious or spiritual context, thanks to the work of religious theorists/anthropologist Victor Turner.  In his book Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors, Turner establishes communitas as an experience most closely linked to rites of passage, when an individual undergoes a fundamental and spiritual change that advances them from one state of being to another, often making the individual an official member of the society.  In the vast majority of cultures around the world, by far the most common rite of passage is that of attaining adulthood: bar/bat mitzvahs, confirmations, debutante balls, even high school graduations or sweet sixteen parties.  In these rituals, the youth performs actions or recites prayers that transition him or her into the beginning stages of adulthood, thereby making them fully-fledged members of their society.  Another popular rite of passage is the initiation rite, such as baptism, that ushers a secular individual into a spiritual community.

Communitas, however, is more than just the ritual itself.  It is the feeling of becoming, of stepping out of oneself and into a larger context - a feeling that is shared with something greater than the sum of its parts.  This sensation is not exclusive to religion; in fact, an excellent modern-day comparison to the experience of communitas would be any major music concert.  The music is the same as what you'd hear on the radio, but being present in the live context with thousands of others who have gathered with the same purpose generates an electric feeling that draws people together.  It is this secular version of the phenomenon that applies to the world of fitness.

Ever been to a giant, hugely popular race?  Perhaps you've checked out the Hot Chocolate series, or any of the color runs that are rapidly growing in popularity.  Thousands of people, lining up at some early morning hour, spanning every possible age group, fitness level, race, nationality, economic status, education level, and the list goes on - all there for one purpose.  All sharing the same stretch of pavement, the same finisher's medal, the same larger-than-life adventure.  It is an intensely unifying experience, while also being intensely personal to each individual as they find their place amongst the masses.  As anyone who has worn their race swag months after participation can attest, finding another person wearing the same event shirt or jacket and reliving every step of the race or the post-race festival or the starting line excitement is one of the greatest feelings the fitness industry has to offer.  Not only is there a sense of personal accomplishment, but there has been forged a connection to every other person who lived what you have lived.

In my new position as a starting line announcer for a mud run, I have become fully emersed in the energy, passion, and communitas that comes when you gather huge numbers of strong, powerful women into one place to celebrate a shared purpose.  While many of the women who participate in the Dirty Girl series have only one opportunity to feel the power of the group, I have the distinct honor of sharing that power dozens of times in a single day.  And I have to tell you a little secret: the excitement, the energy, the intensity of that communitas never dissipates or gets weaker.  It is the same electrifying feeling each and every time.  On a typical Saturday, I see a different set of 250+ faces every fifteen minutes or so, and every single wave is completely unique in the types of people, costumes, backgrounds, and so on, but every one of those waves brings the same force of will, the same dedication to the event, the same desire for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This is the secret power of racing: a feeling of becoming, of being a part of something greater.  For the vast majority of runners, racing isn't about winning, it is about the experience of joining the community, of sharing the communitas that is generated at these events.  Anyone can throw on shoes and run around a neighborhood, on a track, or on a treadmill, but the race experience offers so much more than just a new place to run.  As race companies continue to get more creative, racing will continue to become more accessible to participants of all levels, and the industry will thrive on the collective energies created at crazy theme runs and massive road races.  It's an exciting time to be a runner, that's for sure!

What races have give you that particular feeling of becoming a part of something larger than yourself?  Have you felt the elation of communitas in another type of event?  How does that feeling inspire your future?

Monday, August 10, 2015

EXHAUSTED! But still alive!

It's been a couple weeks since I popped up on the blog, and once again I apologize.  Life has been turning upside-down on almost a daily basis for a long time, but finally it's starting to turn in my favor!  I've been very busy the past three weeks with major events, and I can't wait to tell y'all every last detail - once I'm finally caught up with even MORE major events on the horizon!  A very quick recap of what this month is looking like in the world of FitNyx:

  • Saturday, July 25th/Sunday, July 26th: I volunteered to help at the Cleveland Triathlon - and ended up joining the operations team for the entire weekend!  From expo, to venue setup, to troubleshooting, to event execution, to venue cleanup, I helped with every aspect of race execution and even showed up on the news while conducting the age group awards ceremony!
Too busy for more than one picture!  But such a great experience!
  • Saturday, August 1st: I started an amazing job as the starting line announcer for the Dirty Girl mud run by heading out to the Twin Cities in Minnesota!  You may recall my race recap from my last weekend in Chicago, when I volunteered at the DG event in Chi-town - well, I made an impression on the staff and they were looking for someone like me to fill a gap on the team, and long story short, I'M HIRED!  And let me tell ya, I was made for this job like Chris Tucker was made for his role in The Fifth Element: I'm the starting line announcer, which means I get up in front of every wave, talk about the course, get everyone pumped, lead a little Zumba-esque warmup, count 'em down, and send 'em off!  I'm performing all day, which is so much fun, but even better is getting to mingle with the crowd, meet the incredible women who participate, and being responsible for thousands of smiles every event!
Photo courtesy of Gameface Media - LOVE that they snapped
a few of me!
  • Saturday, August 8th: Got my second event with DG under my belt in the ever-exciting New York City!  In fact, I spent the whole day alongside Citi Field, rockin' my mic and having a blast!  Definitely could get used to this travel-and-fun job!
Sunrise over Citi Field - I don't get to see THAT every day!
  • Saturday, August 15th: Next weekend I'll be in Milwaukee for the biggest Dirty Girl of the year!  We're actually in need of more volunteers, so if you're in the area and want to join us, sign up to volunteer - you'll get to run the race for FREE, plus you'll be instrumental in putting on the same fabulous events we've done everywhere else!  At the very least, come out and say HI to me at the starting line!
Keepin' it active at the starting line!  It's a party all day!
Photo courtesy of Gameface Media.
  • Saturday, August 22nd: Changing gears here a little - MY BROTHER'S WEDDING!  Can't even begin to tell you how happy I am for him and his wife-to-be!  She's an excellent addition to the family, we all adore her, and the wedding itself is going to be bonkers.  Plus, I'll be making my bridesmaid debut in a stunningly gorgeous dress, but I'll save photos until after the event...
  • Saturday, August 29th: Back to NY, but Buffalo this time for the last Dirty Girl of the month!  Followed by a week-long nap, at the very least!
So hopefully it makes a little sense for me to be laying low for a bit on the blog front - but I haven't forgotten about my readers!  I've got a few products on the way for review (and probably giveaway), plus I'm working on some fitness and mental health related articles both for publication and for the blog, so you'll be seeing plenty of me in the near future.  In the meantime, keep rockin' your own fitness, and be sure to keep an eye on Adventures with FitNyx for all the excitement to come!