' Adventures with FitNyx: September 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Product Review: YogaFlexCo Yoga Wheel (GIVEAWAY)

***UPDATE: YogaFlexCo has expanded and become Breathe Life Yoga!  You can still get the same fantastic product from YogaFlexCo, but if you're near Tom's River NJ, you can also stop in to the new Breathe Life Yoga studio and meet the beautiful mind behind this great company!***

This past month I joined the Move More Yoga challenge on Instagram, and thoroughly enjoyed finding ways to work yoga into all of the many adventures I've been blessed with throughout September.  Organized by weekly themes, this challenge dared me to try some new things and bend in ways I didn't know my body even could!  I was most intimidated by the week of backbends, though.  I've had chronic back pain from an injury years ago, and my flexibility leaves a lot to be desired; needless to say, backbends don't always sound incredibly appealing to me!

But as I started following more and more yogis on Instagram, I started seeing photos of people with an interesting prop: the yoga wheel.  There are several companies making these wheels on the market, but the YogaFlex wheel in particular caught my eye.  With a wide variety of colors and padding thicknesses, and some of the best pricing available, these wheels seemed to be a great investment for advancing my yoga practice and finally overcoming some of the hesitations and fears I had about my body's abilities.

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

I was surprised and grateful to have received a new style of wheel: this model not only has thick mat padding around the exterior, but also has two strips of material on the inside, to provide better grip if you're holding on to the wheel mid-pose.  I found this especially helpful with poses like camel and one-legged bridge.  The padding is plush and soft, so resting on the wheel is very comfortable and allowed me to actually relax into some of the poses that otherwise would have strained my back painfully.  Backbends ended up being my favorite week of the challenge, now that I finally have the right equipment to help me learn and grow!  You can even see my progression in the photos below - by the time I took the bottom photo at the end of the week, I was MUCH more comfortable with backbends and with my wheel.

The yoga wheel is helpful for more than just backbends, though!  Any pose that needs additional support can benefit from a yoga wheel: forward bends, low lunges, goddess squats...  You can even use the wheel to make a pose a little more challenging, helping you push yourself past a plateau in your practice!  Try sticking a wheel under your feet in plank pose, for a little extra core work, or in wheel pose to really work those arms!  And of course, you can use the wheel for a better stretch and range of motion in restorative poses such as child's pose.

Especially for beginners, the yoga wheel should be a go-to piece of equipment in your yoga practice.  My wheel bolstered not only my back but also my confidence, which has helped me grow in leaps and bounds.  As I broke down barriers within my mind and body, as yoga is meant to do, I found myself more and more willing to try new things and push my boundaries in other practices.  I would highly recommend a wheel to anyone who is looking to build more yoga into their lives, and couldn't imagine a better wheel than the YogaFlex grippy wheel to get started!

Wanna see for yourself?  YogaFlexCo has generously offered to give away a yoga wheel to one of my readers!  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!  Giveaway ends October 6th at 11:59pm; winner must be willing to provide valid shipping address.  And even if you're not the lucky winner (or you just can't wait to find out if you won) you can still get 15% off with promo code FITNYX15 on the YogaFlexCo website!  With the holiday season approaching, yoga wheels make great gifts for the yogis in your life - and they even make yoga wheel ornaments too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you use props in your yoga practice?  What poses intimidate you, and how have you overcome those fears?  What's your favorite yoga pose?

Need another great gift idea for your beloved yogi?  Snag a promo code for the Sapphire Soul Mindful + Mystic subscription box from my review earlier this week!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The adventuring continues!

I realize the past few weeks haven't seen many posts about adventures, and after all, this blog is called "Adventures with FitNyx", so there should be more adventures, right?  Truth is, I've been having LOTS of adventures lately!  I just haven't had as much time as I'd like to sit down and write about every one of them!  So here's a quick recap of some of the fun I've been having around Cleveland lately:

Geauga County Fair - A favorite of mine, my family used to go every year.  It's been a while since I lived in the area, but now that I'm back, there was no way I was going to miss it this time 'round!  As a kid, I'd go watch the horseback riding competitions (back when I used to ride); as I got older, the focus switched more towards the incredible variety of food available.  This year, I managed to do just about everything the fair has to offer, including watching the riding competitions, playing some games, eating all the foods, enjoying the circus, checking out all the crafting submissions, watching a magic show, and grooving to the musical stylings of some of the excellent bands.  It was a weekend full of excitement and smiles, and I'm so glad I can do it again next year!

Boxing - Anyone following my Instagram feed knows by now that I've started boxing.  For right now, I'm just taking some general heavy bag classes at Title Boxing, but I'm also studying technique and working to build my upper body a little better, with the hopes that in a few months I can afford some one-on-one training to enter the realm of competitive boxing.  Or MMA, but I'm trying to start slow and learn one thing first.  Classes are a great way to get used to the feel of the gear and the impact of actually hitting something, so I think I'm off to a good start!

Biking - I've started doing a little biking lately, in some of the area's amazing Metroparks and down the Towpath Trail.  So far I'm not very good at it, but I'm enjoying the beautiful scenery and I get to share it with some great people, so I'd call it a win!  Plus, biking the Towpath was actually part of a job I've been doing: working as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Towpath Marathon, which will be run on October 11th.  I hooked this job up after running in the Towpath Ten-Ten one of my first weekends back in Cleveland, and fell in love with both the Towpath and the people who work for Canalway Partners (the organization behind the Towpath Trilogy race series).  We're shaping up to have an amazing event this year, so if you're looking for a run in October, come try the Towpath!  We offer full and half marathon distances, plus a 10k, all on the gorgeous trail.

Autocross - While I have yet to actually drive the Corvette, I have gotten to take a few ride-alongs with my dad when he races!  I've also been allowed to ride along with some of the other drivers in other souped-up autocross cars, getting a feel for the different types of cars and how they perform.  Eventually I might even take my little Hyundai out on one of these courses, just to give it a try.  I'll be sure to post any and all hilarious evidence once I do this!

Indians Games - The past few years without any kind of television service (just Netflix), I haven't really been able to enjoy televised sports games, which has been a longstanding tradition in my family.  Now that I'm back with my parents for a while, though, almost every night we gather 'round the living room with whatever delicious dinner mom makes (orange chicken mmmm) and throw on a game, usually the Indians.  Since I returned home, the team has turned their season around, and they're quite fun to watch thanks to some of their young prodigies!  I finally got to attend a game at Progressive Field The Jake on a dollar dog night, where I happily stuffed my face, we won 12-1, and I even managed to pop a pose for the yoga challenge I've been doing all month!

Shooting Range - It's been a long while since I shot much of anything, but when my aunt's boyfriend invited us all to his gun club's member appreciation picnic, I was pretty excited to handle some firearms again.  We started with perfect weather, and though my experience in the past was almost exclusively with handguns, I stepped right up for the shotgun challenges and gave it my best shot (pun intended)!  We were able to shoot for a little while, but sadly the skies opened up and we had to spend the rest of the evening indoors - but there was steak and grandma's pineapple cake, so I suppose it wasn't the worst that could have happened!

Whew!  It's been an exciting month for me!  And I'm happy to say that while my schedule will even out a little over the next few weeks, I still have plenty of interesting things on my plate to keep me busy and to provide great experiences.  I'm certainly finding ways to make the most of my time and energy, and some of these things are helping me build towards an even better future.  My adventures are about to take off to even greater heights, and I couldn't be more thrilled!

What exciting adventures have you had this summer?  Did you have any particular standouts?  What do you have planned for fall that's keeping you juiced?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Product Review: Sapphire Soul Subscription Boxes

When I received a Bulu Box for review last month, it was my first experience with a subscription box service - and it didn't go as well as I would have liked.  I liked the idea of a monthly box that would expose me to a wider range of potentially awesome products, but Bulu wasn't quite for me.  I set off to find other options to investigate, and came up with some really interesting finds.  The most interesting I found was the Sapphire Soul Mindful + Mystic series, which offers a monthly set of mindfulness, yoga, or meditation focused products.  While most other boxes are packed with small product samples, the Mindful + Mystic boxes actually contain beautiful decorative and usable items to grace your home and your spiritual practice.

Sapphire Soul Mindful Mystic Subscription Box yoga holistic gypsy

This month, the Mindful + Mystic box was created around an interesting theme: the Hamsa Hand, a multi-faith symbol for protection.  Hamsa history dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and is found prominently in South Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African cultures.  Originally used to ward off the Evil Eye, the Hamsa has become a more generalized protective amulet, and is also associated with blessings, power, and strength.  I opened my box to find myriad Hamsa products, as well as several items that can be used with the Hamsa to generate protective energies - as indicated by the box's insert describing how to utilize the items for a purification and protection ritual.  Every box comes with information about the individual items as well, including pricing and discount codes if you want to purchase more from the partnered vendors.  In a $33 box, I received over $70 worth of items, making this a phenomenal value!

Disclaimer: I received one Sapphire Soul Mindful + Mystic box free of charge in exchange for my review.  No additional compensation was provided.  All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Hamsa votive coffee mug wolf amulet gemstone crystal gypsy bracelet

As you can see, I got a LOT of really nice stuff!  Honestly, I was BLOWN AWAY when I was unpacking my box.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but this much beautiful was far more than I could have anticipated.  What really impressed me was how on-theme everything was - I've looked into some boxes where about half the items were perfectly on point, but the rest seemed to be more like filler items.  For my Hamsa box, as you can see, just about everything had a Hamsa on it!  The other items, like the gemstones and the cleansing mist, fit nicely into the protection theme and can be used as supplemental items in related rituals.  The only thing that seemed a little out of place was the Earth Magic Oracle card, though stunningly my Wolf card actually suits me pretty well, as several times it has been suggested to me that the wolf is my spirit animal.  Certainly my puppy, who is basically me as a canine, seems to align with that possibility!

hamsa coffee mug keyboard office workstation break time

My favorite item in the box turned out to be the hilarious "Talk to the Hamsa" coffee mug, which I can already tell will get me through many long nights as I continue to pack my schedule.  The amulet and votive holders are very close second and third favorites.  One thing to note, however, is that not every box will contain the same items.  Sapphire Soul designates a little "pool" of items for each month's box, and subscribers receive a subset of those products.  For example, while I received hematite and malachite gems, another subscriber might have received smoky quartz and snowflake obsidian.  I received the oracle card, but others would receive a spirit animal gemstone.  I think this variation idea makes for a wonderful surprise, so your friends can't completely spoil your excitement if they happen to receive their box first!

votive gemstone protection spray aroma fragrance protection ritual

Years ago, when I was still in school and religious studies (especially alternative and Asian religious) were my heavy focus, I spent a lot of my time getting in touch with my spirituality.  Over the years I have lost touch with so much of that, and when I returned to Cleveland, I made a promise to myself that I would find my spirituality again.  One thing I've wanted to do is create a household shrine for myself.  What better way to start than with my Hamsa items?  The first thing on my list is energy purification, to remove the negative energies that followed me from the past, and the items in this box are perfect for such purpose.  Not only was the box a wonderful surprise, but it is also a timely convenience, as if Sapphire Soul knew exactly what my soul needed!

Here's maybe the best thing about Sapphire Soul: the Mindful + Mystic box isn't their only product!  They have a wide range of boxes to suit any spiritual needs.  For crystal healing, try the Treasure Box.  Love essential oils and dreamy fragrance?  The Potions Box is your own personal apothecary.  If you like to wear your spirituality on your sleeve (or wrist or neck), the Adornments Box is for you.  There's even a Chakra Crate option, a series of seven boxes shipped one month at a time, to help cleanse and balance your chakras!

chakra gem gemstone mystic holistic meditation yoga spirituality gypsy

Perhaps better still!  Who doesn't love a good ol' discount code?!  I've got not only one, but THREE discount codes available for readers!  Hop over to Sapphire Soul and get your own Mindful + Mystic box sent right to your door, with a different theme every month, or give the gift of mindfulness to someone special in your life!  These boxes would make amazing gifts!

  • FALL2015: Receive a FREE gemstone bullet necklace with any Original or Large Mindful + Mystic box (Retail $33). The code expires 10/25/15.
  • 2016SHINE: Save 10% off any 6- or 12-month subscription for any box option! The code expires 10/25/2015.
  • PINKSHAKTI: Receive FREE shipping on the special edition Pink Shakti Warrior Breast Cancer Box. Items in this box are created and customized specifically to show support for the fight against breast cancer, and to help lift up and inspire women who are currently going through breast cancer treatment or have won the fight. A portion of the proceeds from this box will be used to create additional boxes to give to women who are going through treatment and breast cancer charities.

How do you channel your inner mystic? How does spirituality play a role in your life? Which Sapphire Soul box is calling out to your heart?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Five Things Friday: Homesick for Chicago Fitness

This past week in particular has made me especially nostalgic for Chicago.  I've only been home a couple months, and I've been VERY busy with some exciting opportunities, but the biggest hole in my life seems to be caused by missing some particular aspects of the Chicago fitness community.  Here are the top five things I miss about Chicago's massive fitness world.

5. Muddy Monk Trail Runs

Even on my bad days, Muddy Monk runs are fun and challenging.  This trail running organization is headed by a couple who dedicate their spare time to finding us some amazing bits of trail year-round.  So far, I haven't found anything like this in Cleveland, certainly not with the consistency of the Muddy Monk.  Honestly, with all the Metroparks around here, I might have to consider starting a group...

4. Class Pass

This is a catch-all heading for the insane diversity of fitness classes available in Chicago - and the ease with which an interested person can discover all of that exercisey goodness!  One membership, over a hundred gyms/studios/whatevers, and dozens of different class styles all over the city.  It's hard to find gyms at all here in Cleveland, let alone awesome boutique fitness studios like AIR or Exhale.  I'm finding some interesting things here and there, but for the most part, I think it's going to be up to ME to bring the excitement to Cleveland's group exercise scene.

3. Gratitude Yoga

Piggy-backing on Class Pass, I simply have to mention Gratitude and the lovely Lisa!  My first class with Lisa (via Class Pass, of course) changed my outlook on yoga, and gave me the courage to dive into yoga practice whole-heartedly.  She also influenced my courage levels in general, and through both her classes and the at-home practice she inspired, I found the strength and self-belief to make some major and much-needed changes in my life.  It hasn't all been smooth sailing ever since, but the general trend of my life is increasingly moving upward - it all started with Lisa and the path she helped set me on, which still guides me today.

2. Chicago Running Bloggers

Technically, I'm still a CRB member, and of course with blogging the community is still there in the online presence, but even though I knew very few of my fellow members in person, everything was so... relatable.  I was part of a local community, and my place in that group helped me establish not only my blogging presence but a deeper sense of purpose in the fitness world.  Without their support and encouragement (and their fabulous leading-by-examples) I probably would never have started blogging, let along stuck with it so long.  And that means I'd have missed out on just about every opportunity I've had in the past year to make my life so much better...

1. TAM Fitness Classes

No link for my #1 - this one is all experience.  I taught group ex classes at several locations in 2014, but it wasn't until the start of 2015, when I found a home at the TAM facility in Niles, that my fitness career really took off.  It was my first opportunity to teach ZUMBA Step, which quickly became one of the center's highlight classes.  As my class (and my popularity) grew, I was given the opportunity to add more classes, including regular ZUMBA, strength classes, and even yoga by the time I had to depart.  But it wasn't just teaching the classes that made my time at TAM so important - it was the connections I made with my amazing students.  We connected mind, body, and soul, and those women have touched my life permanently.  Through them I learned how to connect with my classes, and I'm having plenty of success here in Cleveland with my new classes, but they'll never be quite the same as those gals back at TAM, who believed in me, celebrated my successes, and helped me grow.  Thanks so much ladies, you'll always be in my heart.

What places or events in your life have left a lasting impression on you?  What makes you homesick?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ready to get WACKY? It's the Insane Inflatable 5k! (Discount Code)

Though I spent some amazing weekends working for one of the best mud runs in the country, I haven't really had a chance to go get silly on a race course yet this year!  After several turns running through wacky obstacles courses last year (like the Epic Fail Challenge), I switched to more serious racing for a while, but I've been jonesing for another carefree romp.

This weekend I finally get to let loose on another ridiculously fun-looking course at the Insane Inflatable 5k, which I'll be enjoying in Erie PA on Saturday!  Unlike mud runs, inflatable race courses let you stay clean while you enjoy their bouncy-house-on-steroids obstacles, which means you don't have to spend an extra hour in line for the showers after you finish - time you can instead spend on the Insane Inflatable Midway, playing games like giant cornhole or enjoying the all-day DJ.

But the real draw is, of course, the obstacles themselves.  I've been to races that barely managed to put up five obstacles along a three mile course, but the Insane Inflatable boasts 11 giant blow-up hurdles, including start and finish line obstacles.  They have everything from massive inflatable slides to gigantic ball pits!  I'm most looking forward to Pure Misery (I'll take "Things I'll Never Say Again" for $800, Alex), a military-inspired combination obstacle that stretches over 100 feet!

Next week, I'll have a full race recap to offer, with more details about how the Insane Inflatable 5k looks in-person, but for now, why not take a discount and try it out for yourself?  You can get 15% off your entry to any Insane Inflatable race (in dozens of cities across the country) with code FITNYX15 - so sign up early and save!  And if you're going to be in Erie this weekend, let's tackle this beast together!

Have you run any noteworth OCRs?  What's your favorite obstacle?  Do you prefer the more serious Spartan/Warrior Dash type races, or the silly ones?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Posts to come, I promise!

I tried to post today.  Really I did.  But for some reason my hours of writing and multiple clicks of the "save draft" button were all for naught, as my entire post was deleted and all of my work lost.  I have a lot of things to say these days, but not as much time as I'd like in which to say them, so reworking that post will sadly have to wait.  Meanwhile I have tons of exciting new products to test and review, and I'm still involved in the Move More Yoga challenge, so please keep an eye on my Instagram feed (now also cross-posting to my Facebook page, so you can follow there if you'd rather) to keep up with my adventures, and look for some substantial posting to come in the next couple weeks!

Thanks, as always, for your support!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Product Review: No Nips

Real-talk time, woman style.

Sports bras have come a long way in support and comfort, but every athletic woman knows how hard it is to find a bra that not only performs at your fitness level, but also holds in, well, your perky nips.  Exercise can be "exciting" (if you know what I mean) and while it's perfectly natural to be poking out a bit afterwards, it isn't always the most flattering or the most comfortable look for most women!

So what's a gal to do?  Tape or bandaids have been solutions in the past but ripping something like that off such a sensitive area isn't the most pleasant sensation.  Padded sports bras offer some relief, but again, it's hard to find the right fit and support in the limited range of padded bra products offered for athletic women.  Not to mention those days when you're wearing your favorite yoga shirt with that built-in shelf bra instead of an actual sports bra...

I love their slogan!
Photo source: No Nips Instagram

That's where No Nips saves the day!  A new product made from Polartec fabrics, No Nips are insertable into ANY bra or bra-like top to smooth out your chest after a tough workout.  It's a simple concept, really, but the advantage of No Nips is the material: durable, absorbent, comfortable, and machine washable.  Having many times suffered from overly-perky nipples, especially on cold race mornings, I was intensely interested in giving these pads a try!

Disclaimer: I was provided No Nips products free of charge in exchange for my review.  I have not received any other compensation, nor am I affiliated wtih No Nips.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I had the perfect opportunity to test the effectiveness of No Nips just the other day: a cold, wet, all-around ugly afternoon, the first real September day we've seen so far.  My puppy was antsy, I was feeling lethargic, and it seemed a run was the best way to help us both.  I pulled on my gear and slipped a No Nips pad into my bra - only one, though!  I figured the best way to really show the effectiveness of the product would be to do a side-by-side comparison under the exact same conditions.  So, left breast had a pad, right breast was untreated!

We went for a little more than two miles in the humid, chilly evening - exactly the kind of weather and effort that would get my nipples hard.  The run itself was pretty fun, even though it wasn't ideal conditions, but that's probably because running with Kaalia is always awesome!  She paces with me nicely, understands the importance of stopping before crossing streets, and always wags her tail the whole way!  About halfway through our run, I started noticing the No Nips side was itching, but by the end of the run I was back to not noticing there was something in my bra.

When I got home, there was a VERY noticable difference!  Thankfully I was able to get a picture before I warmed up and relaxed too much, so you can see exactly how effective the No Nips pad actually was!  As I said, there was some slight itching mid-run, but otherwise the pad was quite comfortable.  It stayed nicely in place, and though the evening was humid and I was definitely very sweaty, the pad wasn't soaked or spongy.

Even with a hastily taken, poorly lit, potato quality photo,
you can see the difference!

I received the No Nips pads with a mesh washer bag, which was an unexpected bonus, so naturally I tested the "machine washability" as well.  I'm happy to report my pad held up to washing (I only washed the one I wore, so I could compare) with no noticable distressing, misshaping, or discoloration.  True, it was only one wash, but the stitching held up and the pad held its form, and those are the two most important things!  No lumping of the material under the fabric, either, so the pad still fits smoothly and comfortably.

I've also tried using these in one of my favorite yoga tops, one that has a built-in bra.  I sometimes wear that top to work, and it's REALLY COLD in my building, so it's nice to have the padding help keep me modest in the workplace (apologies for no photos, but trust me, they work).  No Nips come in dark grey (like mine) but also in nude, so you can wear them with just about any top without giving away your secret.

No Nips worked great for me!  I'm starting to use them more in the gym, too, and will probably wear them frequently when I'm teaching classes and all eyes are on me.  Definitely going to use them on race days, too, when I'm in the middle of big crowds and there are photographers mid-course!  If you're like me and suffer from embarrassing perky nipples when you work out, No Nips is a fantastic solution to keep you modest and confident!

Do you have problems with your "post workout appearance"?  How do you solve those pesky (or perky) issues?  Do you think you'd use an insert product to help?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tabata Article Published!

Starting to click nicely with the Active Acadiana fitness magazine - my second published article was released in this month's issue!  If you don't live in the Acadiana's distribution area, you can always read their issues (and my articles) online thanks to Issuu!  You'll find my article on Tabata and the benefits of HIIT workouts on page 30 (page 32 on Issuu) - and yes, that's mine featured on the cover there!

My third article for the Active Acadiana is slated for the October "Extreme Fitness" issue, and will discuss topics in women's MMA.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Product Review: Extend Nutrition

One of the easiest products to find in the fitness world is protein powder.  In fact, it's maybe a little too easy to find - there are hundreds of powders (and other protein products) available, and it's hard to tell which products are actually worth the expense.  Not only is there a concern for the content and benefits of the product, but many protein powders are severely lacking in an appealing taste, making it difficult to choke them down even IF they're providing what you need.

In my eternal search for the perfect protein powder, I encountered Extend Nutrition, a company that provides a variety of products for fitness, weight loss, and even diabetes control.  The "Extend" comes from product design: unlike other products that typically metabolize quickly over just a couple hours, Extend products were created to last much longer.  By metabolizing over six to nine hours, Extend Nutrition helps regulate blood sugar without causing a short-term spike that quickly crashes.  I had the opportunity to try not only their protein shake mixes, but a couple of their protein bars as well.  Crisps and drizzles are also available, though I did not sample any of those items.

Disclaimer: I was provided Extend Nutrition products free of charge in exchange for my review.  I have not received any other compensation, nor am I affiliated wtih Extend Nutrition.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Extend carries three flavors of protein powder: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.  I originally tried each flavor mixed with ONLY water and ice, to gauge the raw flavor profiles of each.  Chocolate quickly pulled out in front as the tastiest, by a long shot, when mixed with only water!  Creamy and thick, it was the smoothest protein powder I'd ever consumed.  I typically drank the chocolate powder immediately after running, when I am most hungry, and found the shake to be very filling each time, carrying me through the rest of the evening post-run without needing another snack.

The vanilla and strawberry powders didn't fare so well in plain water!  In fact, the vanilla tasted a little sour, and the strawberry was borderline gross.  Neither mixed as smoothly as the chocolate, so I had to deal with little powder lumps that added nothing to the appeal of those flavors.  Perhaps it was because I drank them more slowly (reluctantly?) but neither flavor filled me up like the chocolate shakes did, either.  I'll admit, I was pretty disappointed, but was determined to find another way to enjoy at least the strawberry, as I happen to LOVE strawberry shakes!

I mixed the rest of the vanilla and strawberry packets in milk instead of water.  Though I have been cutting back on my dairy consumption, the addition of 1% milk and ice to the powder turned the whole flavor profile completely around!  The vanilla was much creamier mixed with milk, and tasted like melted ice cream instead of bland lumpy powder.  The strawberry went from worst to first as far as my preferences among the three flavors!  Thanks to the milk, my strawberry powder had a chance to really shine: it was creamy, thick, bursting with berry flavor, and I drank it WAY too fast!  If you're going to try Extend protein shakes, give strawberry a try for sure!

I also received a few "anytime bars" which became my breakfast and book-reading treats last week.  Not usually one for protein or other nutrition bars, I was skeptical about how much I'd actually like these bars.  I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the chocolate peanut butter flavor!  Peanut butter protein bars are tough to get right, but this one was fantastic.  And very filling!  More so than the shakes, the anytime bars really helped keep me satisfied over a long span of time.  This was especially helpful when I had a dinner engagement last week and wanted to EAT, but was hungry a few hours before.  Instead of snacking mindlessly the whole time, I had an Extend bar, which held me over perfectly, leaving me hungry only just in time for an amazing Indian dinner!  The cookies and cream bars were equally reliable as a meal replacement, but weren't nearly as tasty.  It was more chocolate mush than cookies and creamy, but again, still served their purpose.

I definitely would recommend Extend Nutrition for protein powder!  You may need to experiment with how you mix the powder to suit your own tastes, but once you find your sweet spot, you'll love the taste!  Each single-serve packet has 15 grams of protein and only 12 grams of carbohydrates, and at 110 calories, it's a pretty guilt-free post-workout treat; however, while it does keep you satisfied for a good few hours, you'll have to consider your overall calorie intake before using these shakes as meal replacement.  Same with the bars, which have 130 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 22 grams of carbohydrates.  I ate the bars as meal replacements, and didn't feel hungry for a while, but I'm not sure 130 calories is enough for me to consider an actual meal.  Ensure you're getting enough fuel throughout the day!

Of course, you don't have to take MY word for it!  Extend Nutrition is offering one lucky reader a $25 gift card to try any of their products!  Enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When do you use protein enhanced beverages - pre or post workout?  As a meal replacement?  Just as a snack?  What's your go-to brand and flavor?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Yoga Challenge: #MoveMoreYoga

Throughout the month of September, I'll be participating in another Instagram yoga challenge, this time run through the Move More Fitness ambassador group!  We'll have a theme for each week, and we'd love to see your poses for each week's guideline!  To play with us, be sure to tag #movemoreyoga and #movemorefitness.  For inspiration, you can check out daily poses from the challenge host @ywezelenburg or @movemorefitness!  Get ready to get your flex on!

Week 1: Animal Poses
Week 2: Standing Balances
Week 3: Inversions
Week 4: Backbends
Week 5: Relaxation and Restoration