Skinny And Company Coconut Oil


Every now and again, I get asked to try and then review a “health” product. I’m very finicky about which ones I review. Quite frankly, some of them are not very healthy. So when Nina Martin e-mailed me asking me to sample Skinny and Company Coconut Oil Products, I did my research to see if this was the type of product I wanted you to see on my blog.

Skinny and Company was founded by Luke and Matthew Geddie, two adventurous brothers who travelled to Viet Nam and fell in love with the country people and culture. Along with Kim Vo, they decided to found a company that could bring the natural coconut products of the country to the world while supporting the local Vietnamese community. The products are:

100% natural and truly “tree to table”, cold processed (never heated above 97 degrees), no chemicals, no fillers, no preservatives and pesticide free.

That was good enough for me to tell Nina to go ahead and send me a sample box. When I got them I was excited to try the coconut oil, facial oil, and sugar scrub they sent me.


The first one I tried was the facial oil. I used it first as a moisturizer for my hands.
The guide that came with the products said it was good for sensitive skin. I will caution you not to expect miracles when it comes to inflamed skin (I have some eczema that just won’t quit) but it worked well on my other sensitive skin. As a make-up remover it worked really well too. My favorite use was as a conditioner for my hair. I put just a little bit in after shampooing and worked it all through my hair. It gave me a lot of extra body and shine that my regular conditioner could not match.


The next product I tried was the coconut oil. I was intrigued by the claim that adding it to my favorite foods would keep me feeling fuller for longer. I added a teaspoon to my morning protein shake. It added a nice coconut flavor to my chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry shake. And yes, I drank my shake at 8:30 am and did not feel hungry again until about 1 pm. That’s unheard of for me. I also used it to cook. I would recommend using it in foods you would enjoy an added coconut flavor. I added it to quinoa, mushrooms, and pine nuts. Not the best flavor mix. The next time I cook with it, I will try it with chicken, shrimp or tilapia. That would taste great!


The last (and favorite) product I tried was the sugar scrub. It tastes delicious and as soon as the weather cools down, I am trying it in my tea (yes, you can eat all these products). During my shower, this stuff sloughed the rough skin right off. It also doubles as a moisturizer. No need to lotion after my shower. Bonus!

If YOU would like to try any of the Skinny and Company Coconut oil products, I have a code that will get you 10% off your purchase. Just comment “skinny” below and I will send it to you.

 

Extend Nutrition Bars Review

I’ve been a health and fitness girl from the time I picked up a hockey stick in 9th grade.  My hubby was a high school athlete, but was never into exercise and healthy eating as an adult until a stent at age 40 made it really important (to say the least).  For the last 13 years, we have been trying to eat right and exercise regularly. It’s great to have a fitness partner right in my own house!

My box of Extend Nutrition came in the mail!
My box of Extend Nutrition came in the mail!

 

So when Extend Nutrition asked me to try their protein bars and write a review, it was only natural that Bob and I try them together and tell you what we think.  When they came in the mail, I was excited to have a new nutritious snack to try. Extend sent six bars and three different flavors.  We were able to each try three different kinds to see which flavor was our favorite.  We are always looking for convenient nutrition.

The letter that came with our bars explained that all Extend Nutrition products (they also make drizzles and shakes) are designed to stabilize your blood sugar for six to nine hours. This would “improve performance during physical activity and enhance muscle recovery post-exercise.”

We decided to put those claims to the test! Bob took one along to work to eat before he worked out with his trainer.  He wanted to see if it would get him through his workout without running out of steam. I tried one before my most grueling workout.  Usually after a day of work and a session of “PiYo Drench”, I am totally spent. I wanted to see if I would feel differently after snacking on an Extend Nutrition Bar instead of my usual snack of peanut butter and raisins.

Bob’s report: “I took an Extend Nutrition Bar along to work and ate it at 10:00 a.m. before my workout. Usually I eat a banana as my pre-workout snack.  I ate the cookies and cream flavor.  It tasted about the same as some other protein bars I have tasted in the past.  I liked the flavor. My trainer put me through a pretty intense workout at 11 a.m.  I felt good throughout my workout.  I wasn’t hungry again until 1 p.m.  When I eat a banana, I usually get hungry again before it’s time for lunch.”

My report:  I planned to eat my bar an hour before my “PiYo Drench” workout.  I’m a personal trainer and I had a client coming at 4:30 p.m.   I was going to eat my bar about 4:20 so it would be totally digested by 5:30 when I would start my workout.  My client showed up a little early so I only ate about half of it before she came and had to eat the other half a lot closer to workout time. I ate the Mixed Berry and it turned out to be my favorite flavor.  It didn’t have the protein powder taste that some other protein bars I’ve tried have. My workout went well and fatigue wise I felt much better than during a usual Thursday night workout (usually I start out tired and just get more tired). After my workout I didn’t feel as spent as I usually do on a Thursday night either.  The only advice I have is make sure you eat your bar an hour before workout.  During the “beast mode” series (trust me, it’s intense) I felt a little nauseous. That was my fault for eating and then working out right away.

I also found some other good uses for Extend Nutrition bars.  You can eat one after you drop your daughter off at college at suppertime and make it home without starving (after she ditches you to have supper with her new roommates!) They also make a great breakfast before you go somewhere like a meeting or church so your stomach doesn’t growl at inconvenient moments!

You can find Extend Nutrition Bars at Walgreens and CVS.  You can also order them from Amazon.com or order directly from http://www.extendbar.com Here’s some nutrition info. that compares Extend Nutrition Bars to other name brands. The best choice looks pretty obvious!

chart-with-orange-highlight

 

PiYo Review

 

PiYo2

About 10 weeks ago, I started a new home workout program called PiYo. I told myself I would do a review here when I had completed the program so here it is!

The Pros

  1. It starts you out slowly– The first three weeks get you started with lower intensity workouts.  These workouts are the building blocks, strengthening your muscles for the higher intensity workouts that begin to be included in week four. By week five the workouts are more intense, but your body is ready for it.  This cuts down on the muscle soreness which causes you to walk strangely, especially up and down steps!
  2. There are built in modifications– I have been working out consistently for a long time.  If this was my very first workout experience, even the low intensity workouts could have been a challenge.  Chalene Johnson planned for this and has a class member demonstrate modifications for every exercise.  You can follow the modifications until you’re ready for a little more intensity.
  3. No equipment needed-None, zero, nada. Every exercise is done with your own body weight.  This is good news for your bank account.
  4. No/low impact-If you don’t want all the joint jarring jumping in your workout, but still want the intensity, PiYo is it.
  5. Keeps you flexible and well balanced–  If you are getting older (and who isn’t?) these yoga inspired workouts will keep Father Time from robbing you of these two important body qualities.
  6. Fun-I get bored with the same old, same old.  This is something different and challenging.

The Cons

  1. Lack of upper body pulling movements– The upper body exercises have to rely on pushing movements only, mainly because there is no equipment (see pro #3). This can leave you with tight pecs and rounded shoulders.  See my post next week to see how I compensated for this.
  2. A lot of sweating when you are upside down- (downward dog position).  Highly uncomfortable.  Keep a towel handy that you can grab quickly.
  3. Hard to see the instructor when you are upside down-  Make sure you WATCH the Allign video first and then try the exercises. Watching each of the videos before you actually try them would be helpful too.

The really good thing about PiYo is there are live classes all over the country.  If you are not sure you would like this program, go to a local fitness center that offers PiYo classes and try a few.  If you like the live classes, the PiYo basic workout is a great buy.  I got mine for under $50.  I get a discount because I’m a coach, but the regular price is beween $50 and $60.  Once you have it, you can use it forever…or at least until your DVD player breaks down!

Let me know what YOU think of PiYo after you try it.

Fitbit Flex Review

I do love my technology when I can use it in my workouts.  I got my Fitbit in the beginning of September.  I wanted a way to keep track of how many steps I walk at work each day.  I was pretty sure I was walking A LOT.  I thought about buying a plain old pedometer, but then I thought, why not just step it up a little and get a Fitbit Flex?

I was never really interested in Fitbit when it was a clip for your clothing.  I knew I would wash it or lose it.  When they came out with the bracelet I knew I could keep track of that a little better.

I am not going to do the glowing review here.  I will try to give you the pros and cons on price, ease of operation, comfort etc.

Price:  At $99.00 Fitbit Flex is a little pricey.  You do get a lot of features for your money, though.  Previously, I was using Lose It, which is a free app to keep track of calories burned and calories consumed.  The deciding factor for me after doing my research was I could import my Lose It stats into Fitbit Flex.  After purchase, I realized the import feature was a premium feature (I would have to pay a fee to be able to import Lose It data to Fitbit Flex).   I also found out that if I had bought my Fitbit Flex from Verizon, I could have gotten a 25% teacher discount through PSEA.  Bummer.

Features: Fitbit Flex keeps track of your steps, miles you walk, number of “active” minutes, calories burned, amount of sleep you get each night, calories eaten, and amount of water you drink.  Steps, miles, calories burned and sleep are recorded automatically through the Fitbit  You wear it inside a bracelet on your wrist. You must input your calories eaten and water intake on your computer or your mobile device. The data base of food is not as nice as the one I was using on Lose It.  And there is no bar code scan (which is a great feature on Lose It) The data base does have lots of foods in it and you can find almost anything you need to input.  If you take part in other physical activities that won’t be recorded correctly by wrist movement, you can  input those as well. When you set up your features, you choose one as your goal.  I chose calories burned and decided my goal would be 1500 each day.  When you reach your goal, your FBF vibrates and you can celebrate!

My Fav Features:

The sleep tracker.  It subtracts minutes you were awake or restless through the night.  I know that I have been more aware of my sleep habits and have made an effort to get to bed earlier on weeknights because of my results.  The bad thing is you have to remember to put your Fitbit Flex in sleep mode.  Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I forget to take it out of sleep mode in the morning.

The Silent Alarm:  Vibrates to wake you up in the morning. Doesn’t bug anyone else.

See your calories expended in real time:  That way you can gauge how many calories you should take in throughout the day.  This was a BIG help when I broke my foot recently and was a lot less active during the day.

Ease of Operation:  This is a big plus.  My husband (an I.T. guy) and I always joke about the fact that there is no such thing as “plug and play”.  My Fitbit Flex came pretty close.  I was able to set it up and get it working all by myself.  That NEVER happens. I always need help from Computer Bob with my technology toys, but not this time. Just remember to set it up on your computer first, then on your mobile device.  I did this backwards and it took a little longer, but I was still able to do it on my own.

Comfort:  Wearing a plastic/rubber bracelet all day and night took some getting use to for me.  I do not shower with it on, although the directions say you can.  The research I did said the display fogs up from the water at times.  I figured I wouldn’t be missing too much calorie burn in the shower. When I am not going to be too active, I will take it off, because I just get sick of it after awhile.

So..bottom line.  I am sticking with the Fitbit Flex way better than I stuck with Lose It. I didn’t gain any weight while my foot was broken and keeping track of calories in and out is more like a game and less like a pain in the tukis.

Do you have a FitBit Flex?  What do you think of yours?

 

Nutrition Tools: E Diets.com

Changes and transitions; we are going through a lot of those at my house lately.  My oldest daughter finished college and she’s working full time and living in Pittsburgh.  She’s planning a Fall 2014 wedding and we are currently making plans for that happy occasion.

Marla tries on wedding dresses.

My youngest daughter is heading to college in a few week.  My house is tossed up. Things for a dorm room are being stored in the basement.  Marla’s room is in transition to a guest room.

New guest room

Soon I will be heading back to my full time job teaching middle school P.E. I hope to also be working toward starting to see a few clients as a Certified Personal Trainer.  With all theses transitions happening, it could be easy to get sidetracked in regards to healthy eating.

Lucky for us, we started subscribing to e-diets a few months ago.  E diets is an affordable (we had a Groupon so it only ended up costing about $30.00 for the year) subscription, sending you healthy menus, ingredient lists and recipes.  You can choose from several diet types.  We chose “clean eating” but there are other options, like Paleo, vegetarian and Mediterranian. E diets sends you a PDF menu each week. For each day of the week you receive a recipe for one meal (entree and side) plus a grocery list of items you will need to buy.  We usually make one or two of these meals each week.  Some of them are pretty labor intensive, but some are really easy. I haven’t found one yet that hasn’t been delicious.

If you try e diets, let me know how it goes for you.  It certainly is helping us to make our life transitions.

What’s in Your Workout App Collection?

It’s been crazy around the house this week. I haven’t been able to take any more back exercise video yet.  I just got a new iPhone 5 and loaded some new workout apps on it. Here’s what I’m using these days:

Songza:

This is a great music app, you can pick out several different types of music genres from the “concierge” depending on what you’re in the mood for.  I use this app when I am riding the stationary bike or doing a number of other workouts where music enhances things. My favorite is, “drop a beat workout”, but there are tons you can choose from. Cost: FREE

Bit Timer:

All you need to do with this app is set the “work” time,  the “rest” time and how many times you want it to repeat.  Hit start and this timer will keep you on track for circuit and interval workouts.  Bit Timer gives you a three second audible count before you change from work to rest or back.  I use this app to time tabatas, mountain hike intervals and circuit workouts.  Cost:  99 cents

Map My Walk:

This is what I call a  motivational gadget.  Start “Map My Walk” when you begin walking, or running.  It will record a GPS map of your walk/run route.  It will tell you when each mile has been completed. When you save your workout, you get a summary that includes total distance, speed, speed per mile, elevation changes and other nifty info.  You then have the option to share your workout details on facebook, e-mail, or twitter.  Cost: FREE (Note-there is a “Map My Walk” premium available at a cost.  The company sends you e-mails frequently to see if you want to upgrade which is mildly annoying after a while)

Rip Deck:

This app is great for when you’re travelling or when you need to work out with no equipment and little space. (Warning: excuse eliminator!) Just program in the four types of exercises you want to do, plus a bonus exercise for jokers if you want. Rip Deck “shuffles” the cyber deck of cards. You touch the screen and do the exercise and the number of reps each card represents. Instant workout.  You can read my review of Rip Deck here. This one costs 99 cents.  Economical, simple and effective; this is my kind of app.

 

Lose It!

The only thing that has ever worked for me when it comes to weight loss is counting calories, making sure that calories burned from basal metabolism plus exercise is greater than calories in for the week.  Lose it! makes this sooo much easier.  Put in your age and current weight, how much weight you want to lose and how much per week you want that to be. (You HAVE to be realistic. I put in 1/2 pound per week.) Lose it gives you a daily calorie intake you should shoot for and helps you keep track of calories in and calories out through exercise. It has a HUGE database of foods, plus restaurants and brand name foods.  You can also scan bar codes on any packaged foods you buy.  This app is FREE.  The free version does so much, but there is also a premium version that gives you extra features as well. Read my expanded review of Lose it! here.

Now I’m asking for your help.  Let me know what workout apps you love.  I want to add to my collection.

 

“Lose It!”Weight Loss App For Your Smart Phone

So it’s after the holidays, you ate, you drank, you gained, you slugged.  If you need some help to get back on track, look no further than your smart phone and download a free app called “Lose It!”

“Lose it!” is an exercise and diet tracking app that is relatively simple to use.  In order for it to work for you, you will need to figure out how many calories you should be eating each day.  You may need to go to another website to do this.  After looking at several, the website I found most accurate was www.hussmanfitness.org/bmrcalc.htm It will give you a calorie range to stay within.  You will need this information to complete the goals section of “Lose It!” Once you have the numbers, you can get started.

The “Lose It!” app is really easy to use on a smart phone and the nice thing is it will travel with you to work, to restaurants and to the gym. You will be able to keep track of all calories in and all calories out.  When you keep track of it all, you can’t help but lose weight.

I like to use “Lose It!” after holidays and vacations so those 2 or 3 pounds I gain during these times don’t accumulate to 10 to 15 over time.  I have included a Youtube video at the bottom of this post made by an app reviewer to show you how to use “Lose It!” It shows the app on an iphone, but it is almost identical to my Android. Now stop slugging and get busy everybody!

 

Fitness: Rip Deck Workout App

Ever do the Deck of Cards Workout? Each suit represents a different type of exercise (hearts are jumping jacks, spades are burpees etc.). Each card stands for a certain number of reps. My hubby tried this the old school way (real deck of cards) with his group training class.  Being the techie that he is, he googled “deck of cards workout” and found the Rip Deck Workout App.

 

This app gives you four levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced and custom). Once you set up your workout, you just tap the screen to flip your cards.  It gives you the suit, what exercise you should do, and the number of reps to complete. All you need to do is follow the directions. Simple! The workout takes about 30 minutes.  You can do it literally anywhere and you don’t need any equipment at all.

It times you on each exercise and gives you a breakdown of how many reps you completed and how long it took to do each card. It has a social component too.  You can e-mail your results to a friend and challenge them to beat your score.  You can also post your results on facebook or twitter.

The cost of this app is only 99 cents.  If you use it and get in great shape, it will be well worth the investment! If you have used Rip Deck, let me know what you think about it.

Love My Foam Roller!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not often that you find a fitness product for only $24.00 that you love so much, but that is how I feel about my foam roller.  The foam roller was designed to help you stretch out your fascia.  That’s the connective tissue that encases your muscles.  It can become tight and knotted up from everyday wear and tear. Exercise can make it sore too.  Foam rollers are like having a chiropracter in your house whenever you need him (or her).  Basically, you use the foam roller to knead out the kinks in your body the way a rolling pin rolls and stretches dough.

Here’s a video of the five top foam roller exercises done by Alex Poole.  This short video will help get you started.  Enjoy his lovely English Accent.  In the meantime, I will pull together my fav foam roller exercises to share with you.  Where to get a foam roller?  I got mine at amazon.com Do you have a favorite foam roller exercise?  Please share it in the comments.  I would love to try a few new ones myself.

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Himalayan Salt Caves


Have you ever heard of a Himalayan Salt Cave? This is the ultimate
stress relief. Our local Curves just added one. I have visited it twice and love, love, love it! For $15 you can have 45 minutes of great relaxation. While you are relaxing, you are breathing in 84 different minerals and trace elements. These promote health by helping to reduce inflammation in the body. Lots of different ailments can be positively affected. The salt cave can help allergies, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, skin ailments and more. I could feel and hear (weird) my sinuses opening up a few minutes after I went into the salt cave.

My absolute favorite things about the salt cave is the total relaxation you get for the 45 minutes you are there. When you enter you sit in a recliner under softly lit lanterns and twinkling lights that resemble stars. You take about eight to ten deep breaths to get the minerals flowing through your system. Relaxing music begins to play and in just a few minutes I am transported somewhere else…some people fall asleep, but I feel like I get into more of a meditative state and I love it. When the lights come up, I feel totally relaxed and refreshed. If you get a chance, find a salt cave near you and give it a try!
If you have had a salt cave experience, share it in the comments.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad