Do you have a favorite brand? One that you love for whatever reason? Maybe the company has products that you love the quality of; or perhaps you love the prices; whatever the reason, it’s a brand that you trust. I was given the opportunity to attend an immersion event for a brand in the Health and Wellness / Natural Products industry; and at the end of the event, I’d found a favorite brand. And it is NOW Foods. This post is sponsored by NOW Foods. I am thrilled to be working with the NOW brand. They flew me out to Chicago so I could attend their #NOWGetFit Immersion event. All thoughts and opinions are my own!
NOW Foods | Affordable Natural Products
Before the trip to Chicago for Now Foods’ Immersion Event, I had heard the brand name before and seen the bright orange protein powder tubs in health food stores. I had tried the NOW Sports Amino Powder Pre-Workout (and loved it, might I add!). But my knowledge beyond that was minimal.
Working with FitFluential, the NOW brand sponsored an event for bloggers to attend to learn about NOW. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this event, learn about NOW’s values, mission, and processes, and spread the word. Before I get into the details of the trip and the brand, I want to share some quick pictures from the event.
The biggest takeaway from the weekend was that I can trust the NOW brand.
1.The ingredients they put into their products are of the BEST quality.
Furthermore, one of their promise’s to the consumer is of quality. They have a Quality Control and Quality Assurance Program, which I have seen in action. NOW goes above and beyond the regulations (which includes FDA inspections) and what is required of the supplement industry to ensure pure, effective, and natural products.
While visiting one of the NOW Plants in Illinois, I was able to see some of the thousands of tests on materials and products that they conduct to make sure that products are safe from contamination, adulteration, and ingredient substitution. Not to mention, they are one of just a few supplement suppliers that have a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certification.
It is all too common for supplement brands and suppliers to skip out on quality ingredients and quality checks in order to push a product to the public.
2. The price of their products is literally unbeatable.
When you look at the quality of the ingredients and the precision of their health and safety checks, you’ll be shocked at how affordable the products are.
Throughout my time with NOW, it was very clear to me that their mission is to produce the best products at an affordable price. When speaking with the CEO and the founder’s son, they both said that they didn’t want people to have to choose between paying a bill and living a healthy life. As a counselor that primarily works with children and families that live at or under the poverty line, this truly struck a chord with me.
3. The company and it’s employees feel like a family.
And along those lines, every consumer and purchaser of NOW products brings you into that family as well.
Have you ever met a CEO of a huge corporation or business that knew the name of every employee? From the men and women on the board to the men and women who pack the boxes for distribution? I hadn’t until I met Jim Emme, CEO of NOW Foods.
We heard a lot about how NOW values its employees. For instance, the company gives a bonus to all employees every quarter (and the size of that bonus depends on how well the company does that quarter) but every single employee, from the CEO to the plant workers, gets the exact same bonus. Additionally, the Board evaluates the salaries of the employee’s yearly to make sure that they can support themselves and their families with their earnings. It was so refreshing to hear how they treat everyone like family.
We also saw how NOW values their employees. During our tour of the plant, Mr. Emme greeted and conversed with every employee in the building. He knew their names, knew their families, and genuinely cared about what they had to say. I was floored! It was clear to see that the employees truly enjoyed their job… We even met an employee that had been working with NOW for 25 years. That is a true testament to how the company treats their employees.
4. You can get such a variety of products and know that with every item you purchase, it’s the best of the best.
Like I mentioned before, I had a very limited knowledge on the NOW brand and it’s products. In case you aren’t familiar either, here are the different NOW lines.
Dietary Supplements: Dietary supplements help make sure that you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs! I personally take their ProBiotics. They’re life-changing. I’ll be publishing a post on these this month. Stay tuned!
Sports Nutrition: This includes things like: Protein powders, BCAAs, pre-workout, and SO MUCH MORE!
Natural Foods: In almost every person’s fitness journey, they struggle with their Food and Diet at some point. NOW Foods has some AMAZING foods, and cooking aids (oils, nut butters, etc.) to help you reach your goals! I have tried out some new recipes with their foods that will be posted on Instagram in the coming weeks! NOW Foods also has some awesome recipes and pointers that they post as well on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Essential Oils: I had no experience whatsoever with Essential Oils prior to the Immersion Event. But I was able to learn some of the basics and uses. They even taught us how to make a gym cleaning spray and massage oil with some of the oils!
NOW Pets: Their Pet Line is their newest and I am so excited about this! I have 2 labs (who are basically my babies) and I want them to live happy and healthy lives, too!
My Favorite NOW Products
Pea Protein Powder: I’ve been using this post-workout for the last 2 weeks. LOVE IT! The taste is phenomenal… and that is one of the most important things to me. I can’t eat or drink something that I can barely get down!
Better Stevia: Zero calorie, low glycemic natural sweetener. I’ll never go back to others after trying Better Stevia. They also have French Vanilla Better Stevia which is PERFECT for my morning coffee!
Avocado Oil: Notice that the label says Ellyndale, which is part of NOW. So you know it’s the same top notch quality!
Probiotics: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. THESE PROBIOTICS ARE LIFE-CHANGING!!!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Reebok. I received these shoes for free. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Qualities of Good Shoes
Over the past few years, there has been a spike in the importance of what shoes you’re wearing. The shoes on your feet have become a status symbol. Working in a middle school, I see this on a daily basis. “WHAT ARE THOOOOOSE?!” can be heard regularly, referring to what shoes you have on. But this isn’t just a middle school, teenage trend. This spans across all age groups, genders, ethnicities, etc. If you need convincing, hop on Instagram and search for the hastag “shoegame.” Nearly 3 MILLION posts come up with that tag, and I’m sure there are even more with other popular hashtags referring to shoes!
For me, personally, I will admit that I like for my shoes to look good… but COMFORT and QUALITY are the most important factors for me. If I’m lucky, I can find a shoe that has it all! I was fortunate enough to be able to try the Reebok Harmony Road and I am thrilled to be able to work with Reebok on this sponsored campaign! All thoughts and opinions are my own. And I cannot wait to tell you (and show you) how wonderful these new shoes are. Fair warning though, you’ll want to snag a pair of your own ASAP!!
The Reebok Harmony Road was designed with distance runners in mind. In fact, the Harmony Road is such an impressive shoe that is the winner of Runner’s World 2017 Best Debut Shoe.
First impressions are key; and the Reebok Harmony Road was on point. The second I opened the shoebox, I couldn’t wait to try them on. They look sleek, breathable, and
There are a few color options available on the Reebok website but the charcoal grey shoes with the mint and pink soles are by far my favorite. They look sharp and will match any exercise outfit you wear… not to mention, they have that pop of color on the sole for some extra personality!
The comfort of these shoes is, hands-down, the BEST part about the Reebok Harmony Roads. First, I have to mention how breathable and lightweight they are. I didn’t feel like I was lugging 5 pound weights on my feet, like I have with other running shoes. Second, the soles of these shoes have a new, innovative cushioning in the soles made from Kooshlan TPU foam. I’ve never felt a running shoe so comfortable. If you’re a distance runner, you know that the sport takes a toll on the foot, ankle, joints, etc. The Harmony soles absorb a lot of the shock from your shoe hitting the pavement.
The biggest takeaway for me, regarding comfort, was the lack of pain I felt throughout my joints and muscles after a long run from wearing these shoes! The sole cushioning is a LIFESAVER (or should I say – joint saver!)!! I have a tendency to overpronate when I run, and these shoes had the perfect amount of cushion and support for that!
The Reebok Harmony Road’s are fairly true to size. They felt slightly longer than my other running shoes, but not enough to make a huge difference. For my next run, I plan on trying a thicker pair of socks to see how that feels! They also weren’t too narrow or too wide for my feet. That is especially important to me because if a shoe is too narrow or too wide, I can’t wear it (let alone for miles and miles of training).
This shoe features a low cut design; however, that does not impact the overall stability of the shoe. Your ankles have the mobility to move, yet they still feel supported by the overall structure of the shoe itself. They are lightweight but sturdy at the same time.
I discussed the soles of the Reebok Harmony Road in the “Comfort” section. But I want to mention some of the other aspects of the sole that help with stability too. For example, these shoes have a Carbon rubber heelstrike which provides traction. Additionally, these shoes have a high abrasion rubber outsole which is EXTREMELY durable.
Not a long distance runner? Not a problem!
But don’t worry if you are not a long distance runner, you can still see AMAZING benefits from wearing this shoes for other activities. I wore these shoes to the gym for a couple of workout sessions and they worked perfectly! The lightweight and low rise design make them great for gym workouts in addition to running.
This shoe has exceeded all of my expectations. I look forward to training for my 5k, 10k, and next half marathon with the Reebok Harmony Road, as well as continue my strength training workouts in them! To learn more and buy your own, clickhere!
I don’t know about you… but when I have a killer gym outfit on, I completely crush my workout. Have you ever noticed that when you like what you are wearing and/or how you look, you get more accomplished? That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. Here’s my theory:
When you feel confident, you can conquer the world.
That feeling, or that mindset, spreads into everything that you do. And sometimes, a killer outfit does just that. It gives you CONFIDENCE!
So, it’s my pleasure to be able to work with a company like prAna and give you a sneak peek into their Spring collection. This line has a TON of activewear pieces that will set your confidence on fire! I received 2 selections from prAna for free, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you have never heard of prAna, let me tell you why I love the company.
The California-based company, prAna, that creates stylish and sustainably made clothes. prAna has a strong dedication to their community and the world. From prAna’s website,
“We go out of our way to ensure the impact we make on the world is mostly confined to our aesthetic. By using materials and partnering with companies and factories that adhere to strict guidelines for safety and efficacy, we’re able to make the beautiful and functional products we love, in a way that we can all feel good about.”
But, my absolute favorite thing about prAna is their devotion to giving back.
“Throughout the year we partner with several local and international charities to help make a difference. Whether it’s cleaning up beaches here in Southern California or sending aid to areas affected by natural disasters, we continue to find ways to serve our community.”
My prAna Picks
The first piece is the Mika Strappy Top. As you can see, this top is AMAZING. Nothing makes me feel more confident than being able to (successfully) pull off a strappy back tank. Having a bigger chest has made this more difficult, but the Mika has a built in cami bra. So I can do my stretches and yoga without a problem — and look damn good doing it!
The second prAna piece is the Juniper pant. These pants feel like jersey – and they are ultra comfortable. The are fitted through the knee and flare out at the calf.
If you want to get some prAna gear of your own, use the code “S4P17WPS” at checkout for a discount!
Water. The most essential of all nutrients. We can’t live without it. So why is it so important? And past that, why is alkaline water, like Essence pH10, so beneficial for us?
How Water Impacts Health
1. The human body is approximately 2/3 water. Why? A number of reasons!
2. Our cells need it to function properly as it maintains the health of every cell
3. Our blood is comprised of nearly 90% water – which is extremely important carries nutrients and oxygen throughout our body
4. It aids digestion and the breakdown of the food that we eat
5. Water transports waste and toxins out of our bodies (i.e. pee)
6. Water helps us regulate our temperature (for example, sweating is our body’s natural cooling mechanism)
7. It protects our joints, spinal cord, and tissues
8. Water keeps us from being dehydrated (which is of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE!!)
These are just a few examples of why water is essential to our bodies. But it all comes down to this: we cannot survive without water. Our bodies will become dehydrated and dehydration can lead to death. Moral of the story: DRINK UP! However, we want to make sure that what we put in our bodies is clean, healthy, digestible, etc. Which is why we don’t drink straight out of a lake. So, we filter our water.
Furthermore, there are companies and organizations that have continued the process of creating healthy, clean water! I am fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to try Essence pH10 Water, which is a premium alkaline water that has extra, critical nutrients in it. These include: calcium, magnesium, and zinc acetate. So while you are drinking water, you are also giving your body more of what it needs to survive and thrive.
What Is Alkaline Water?
Alkaline water is less acidic than your tap water (higher pH level). Therefore, it has pH-balancing abilities (neutralizes / lowers the acidity in our bodies) while also being very hydrating.
One of the best ways to keep yourself out of a fitness slump is to try a new workout or training type. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: You’re less likely to skip a workout if you are excited about doing it! And on the other hand, you are much more likely to get bored if you are doing the same workouts over and over again. Redundancy will inevitably lead to burnout. Don’t get to that point! Try a new workout style, who knows – maybe it’ll be your new go-to workout! Related: How to Get Out of Your Fitness Slump with a Sledgehammer Workout
What is The Surge from Hedstrom Fitness?
Revolutionary. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of Hedstrom‘s products. They’ve released the Bosu Ball, the Kamagon, and now the Surge. According to Hedstrom, the “SURGE® is a product that lets you train for everyday life. A product that truly makes you better at everything! SURGE® is “living resistance” that builds an athletic core which can take anything life and sport can dish out through intense and dynamic training.”
The Surge is a long cylinder that you can fill with water. Filling it with water makes it heavier. Theres a nifty, convenient chart on the side that tells you what the Surge will weigh with however much water you put in! It’s basically a barbell at home that you can change the weight on, without having to have a bunch of bulky equipment lying around! Bonus feature: it really challenges your stability because the water moves around inside the Surge.
In case you don’t want to read those bulky paragraphs, let me break it down for you….
1. The Surge is like a barbell.
2. You put water in it to create resistance… The more water you add, the more it weighs!
3. It’s just one piece of equipment… No more bulky gym equipment lying around and creating mess in your home.
4. The water creates a more challenging workout – Hydro Inertia Training! The water moves around inside The Surge and creates an unstable resistance for your workout moves. Every exercise you do is more challenging with these hydro-inertia principles!
5. You can do almost any exercise with the Surge (and the Kamagon ball!) now… anytime, anywhere!
I was sent The Surge from Hedstrom to try out and it is a game changer!! I now have a great way of lifting weights on days that I don’t feel like going to the gym. Try these exercises for a full body workout with your Hedstrom Fitness gear!
Featured Hydro-Inertia Exercises:
Half Burpee: Start in the plank position with your hands in the Surge handles. Jump your feet inward towards your hands. You can either stand up, while keeping your back straight and your chest up, or you can jump your feet back to the start position!
Bent Over Row:Bend forward, keeping your back straight, head in line with your spine, and knees slightly bent, with the weight hanging directly in front of you. Lift The Surge towards your chest and keep your elbows tight in towards your body. Then slowly return to the starting position. You can do these with an overhand grip or an underhand grip!
Tricep Press: Hold the weight above your head. Slowly lower the weight behind your head… but make sure you keep your elbows inward by your ears. Slowly lift the weight back to the starting position. Side Note: It helps to stand with one foot in front of the other so that you don’t strain your lower back!
Bicep Curl: Stand with a split stance (one foot in front of the other), which protects your lower back. Hold the Surge with an underhand grip. Bring the weight up towards your chest, keeping your elbows stationary by your side.
Other Exercises for The Hedstrom Surge:
Lunge (and all lunge variations)
Squat (and all squat variations)
Oblique Twists (also known as Russian Twists)
And the list goes on! Check out this video library which has TONS of exercises to do with Hedstrom exercise products!!
You can get the Surge, Kamagon, or other Hedstrom Fitness products at the Hedstrom website, and you can use the code: SPHF25 for the next month for 25% off!
*Disclaimer: This post is a sponspored post. I am thrilled to work with Hedstrom on this campaign! All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Number one way to break out of a workout slump? Do workouts that make you feel badass. It’s a tried and true approach to fitness motivation! I broke out of my fitness downward spiral with a sledgehammer workout. And WOW! I felt on top of the world after this workout. All jokes aside: Workouts that burn fat, exercises that challenge you, and fitness routines that excite you will be your key to getting motivated to work out and staying motivated to exercise.
Burn Fat Faster with Fun Cardio Workouts
Speaking from personal experience, one of the biggest culprits of fitness burnout is boredom. If you’re dreading a mundane, boring workout, you’re more likely to come up with excuses to stay home. But on the other hand, when you are excited and pumped to go do a workout, you’re less likely to skip it. For example, I am 10 times more likely to skip my cardio workout routine if I know I’ll be running on the treadmill… And I’m 100 times more likely to lose my motivation to exercise if I’ve been running on the treadmill day after day. Whenever I feel myself lacking motivation or excitement to go to the gym, I start a new workout routine. Last year, I started to do jump rope workouts for cardio. This year, I decided to try a sledgehammer workout.
Sledgehammer exercises can be done so that they target specific muscle groups or work your entire body; it just depends! My muscles were not expecting how difficult the work would be. When your muscles go through a routine, they get used to it. This can cause it to be harder for your muscles to grow.
Do you need more reasons why sledgehammer workouts are worth your while?
You’ll be doing a strength and cardio workout in one
You will work on your balance and hand/eye coordination
You’ll exercise muscles that may be neglected in your usual workout
You will burn A TON OF CALORIES
It can be used at home, outside, or at the gym!
I was given the opportunity to try out the incredible Mostfit Core Hammer, which is GREAT for any fitness level. They sent me their Core Hammer free of charge, but don’t worry – all of the thoughts and opinions I share in this post are 100% my own!
If you’re a gym newbie or fitness beginner, you won’t have any problem trying the Core Hammer… And if you’re a gym rat or a fitness competitor, you’ll see the value in Mostfit’s hammer as well as the sledgehammer workouts you can do!
Pro Tip: You can do this sledgehammer workout without a tire (which is my FAVORITE part about it because who has a tire just laying around to smash with a hammer??).
Here are some of the exercises that kicked my behind during my sledgehammer workout with the Mostfit Core Hammer:
Sledgehammer Slams: With every other workout hammer on the market, you’d need a tire to do this exercise (or else you’d destroy whatever you hit). But with the Mostfit Core Hammer, you can slam almost anything (Key Word: almost… Use your best judgment please! And test whatever you plan on hitting with a light tap before you really go for it). As you are slamming the Core Hammer down, slide the upper hand closer to the lower hand at the base; and as you are heaving the hammer back up, slide that same upper hand back to its starting position. Trust me: This helps.
Diagonal “Tree Chops” or Baseball Swings: Pretend that you are chopping a tree or swinging a baseball bat while keeping your core and ab muscles stationary and facing forward (don’t turn your body while you swing). You’ll do this fat burning ab exercise and feel your six pack form!
Squats (Two Handed Grip): This is an exercise to tone your thighs, lift your butt, work your ab muscles, and more. When you try it, you’ll really feel your entire body engaged and working hard to burn fat! Hold the sledgehammer with both hands as it is in the upright position. Perform a squat.
Squats (One Handed Grip): This is another whole body fitness exercise. Therefore, your body will be working hard to burn more calories! Start with the Mostfit Core Hammer in the upright position in one hand (it’s a balancing act!), and perform a squat while balancing the hammer.
MostFit Core Hammer Honorable Mentions:
Bicep Curls (*Hold the hammer in the upright position in one hand. Curl your hand towards your shoulder, while keeping your elbow locked in at your side)
Most of these exercises require you to do them with each hand. Since only ONE side of the hammer is weighted, you must give each side an opportunity to work harder! So, make sure that you perform all these sledgehammer exercises with the head of the hammer facing BOTH directions (i.e., do 10 reps for the right, and 10 for the left)!
Using unique fitness equipment can add so much value to your workout routine. If you aren’t sure how to do an exercise, do some research or ask a personal trainer (like me! I’d be more than happy to help). That being said, sledge hammer exercises are FUN and can make you feel like a gladiator. Just remember, when using a sledgehammer for working out, make sure you are aware of your surroundings too. You don’t want to hurt anyone or yourself!
Hi! Welcome to Cardio, Weights, & Protein Shakes. I’m a 20-something from Atlanta, GA where I work as a certified school counselor and personal trainer. I have a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in Sociology, and a M. Ed. in Professional Counseling from the University of Georgia. I started Cardio, Weights, & Protein Shakes in 2015 to share my journey in fitness, health, and life in general.