Feed Your Face: Thrive Market and Eating Evolved

Raise your hand if you like food.

*raises hand*

Now, raise your hand if you like food delivered to your door?

*Hand still raised*

Keep that hand up if you like that delivered food to actually save you money AND benefit other people?

*Both hands in the air*

Well, my friends, have I got something for you.

For the past year or so, I have been a member of Thrive Market, an online grocer of sorts, and I’m a little bit in love.

Thrive Market is a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to our members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families.

Thrive is great because it gives me easy access to a lot of the typically more expensive paleo ingredients that I use in a lot of my cooking. AND Thrive not only ensures that the consumer pays less than retail, they also provide healthy food to low-income families. How great is that.

Here’s how their model works:

It’s seriously so great. I place an order probably once every two weeks, stocking up on baking ingredients like coconut flour, maple sugar, almond flour, or condiments like Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce (I’m obsessed with this right now) and snacks that are sometimes harder to find in my local grocery store. I save a few pennies on my purchase (yay for me!) and I feel good about how my dollar is giving back (yay community!).

Which leads me to my next rave this week: I generally follow a flexible dieting plan (not an official program, I just track my macros and food myself in MyFitnessPal). The flexible part of this plan is that I can still treat myself so long as at the end of the day, my macro profile remains balanced. Granted, I don’t take this to mean that I should go balls out on donuts or cookies all the time, but there are definitely days where based on what I’ve prepared and planned to eat, I can have some kind of treat.

A lot of times, I want that treat to be ice cream. But lately, I’ve been treating myself with Eating Evolved chocolate. Eating Evolved explains:

We have a guiding principle that influences every decision we make — Chocolate: It’s Food, Not Candy. When chocolate is done right, it’s a delicious, antioxidant-rich superfood — a far cry from the commoditized, sugar-filled milk chocolate candies that line supermarket shelves. It is this principle that also drives our simple mission, which is to be the go-to chocolate for health conscious consumers. We know what it’s like to have nothing suitable on the market, and we work hard to solve that problem every day.

It’s Food, Not Candy. DUDE. That’s like… probably one of the most profound things ever said about chocolate. Which makes me super happy, because there are few things in this world that I love more than chocolate. Like, maybe two things. Clay and cheese. But even cheese is a toss-up.

All of Eating Evolved’s products are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free and they are paleo and vegan, which is totally rad if you’re looking for a treat that is compliant with some kind of dietary plan.

They have a number of delicious snacks, but my favorite by far are their coconut butter cups. These dark chocolate cups filled with coconut butter are to dieeeee for. My favorite flavor is probably the caramel & sea salt, closely followed by the classic… but mint is right up there, too. I usually get a few packets of these with my Thrive Market order, toss them in my freezer, and bust one out for an after gym snack.

I can’t recommend Thrive or Eating Evolved enough. Big ups to both of these companies for fueling my workouts and my life – deliciously!

Review: Gainz Box

I don’t know about you, but I love subscription boxes. There’s just something fun about a box showing up on my doorstep with cool, curated stuff just for me. I’ve previously done Stride Box, I’m a frequent Stitch Fix-er, we currently subscribe to o the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Loot Crate, and I recently signed up to try gainz box.Gainz Box delivers a number of specially curated CrossFit and weightlifting products to your door – now, disclaimer, I don’t do CrossFit. I enjoy following CrossFit athletes and many of my workouts use elements, but I’ve never been to a box nor have I ever done a class. That said, I still felt like gainz box has products that were for me! I was thrilled to receive mine this week and was excited to see how the products could work in my gym life.

Each box could contain the following elements: apparel, supplements, equipment, snacks, collectibles, and since the boxes are curated by different experts each month, you also get a bit of their knowledge.

The February box was put together by Julian Alcaraz and Miranda Oldroyd – both well-known and seasoned CrossFit Games athletes. The products included are some of their favorites and the included write up gives you details about what’s included, as well as some discount codes if you want to buy more!

The first thing I pulled out of the box was WOD Welder hand cream. This moisturizer is supposed to increase the elasticity of your skin and help repair your callouses, ultimately protecting them from nasty rips and tears. I have some gnarly callouses from all of the barbell work I do, and I can tell you I need all the help I can get. Plus, it smells good and isn’t too heavy or greasy. That’s a win!

You guys. I love tea. A lot. I drink tea every day – usually hot, because it’s the easiest to make at work. But yeah, tea is great. I was super excited to see this in this box and I was even more excited to see that it was just that: tea – nothing extra added, tea and water. Paleo, no added sugar. I had this at work yesterday, and omg. It was awesome. I need to get my hands on more of these, because it’s starting to get warm in Virginia and iced tea is my jam. Gimme.

Also included? A shaker bottle. I probably have… six… seven shaker bottles? Clay and I use these daily, whether it’s for preworkout or protein shakes. One can never have too many. I threw this one in my gym bag, where it will probably live permanently, or get migrated to my office, so I have one there. 

Getting new workout clothes is maybe one of my favorite things ever – and this box had not only this v-neck tee from Wod Gear, it also included a pair of socks. I haven’t tried those yet (I’m picky about my socks), but I wore this shirt to the gym yesterday and it was great. Typically, I don’t wear sleeved shirts when I work out, but this one’s sleeves are short enough that I didn’t get too hot. It’s a nice add to my collection. All in all, I was really pleased with what I got this month. This box is a little pricey – for the month to month subscription it’s $32, but the value is great. You’re getting approximately $75 worth of gear for about half the cost. And with the coupon codes included as well? Yeah. I approve.

I’m going to keep my subscription for another month or two for sure – I’d like to see what other boxes look like and I definitely don’t mind getting some new swag in the process. I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be a crossfitter to subscribe to gainz box – honestly, I found everything in this box useful to me as someone who weight trains regularly. If you do, too, check it out! You’ll get some great products, and maybe you’ll be exposed to something you haven’t tried before.

 

New Year’s Resolutions? More Like Life Resolutions.

Now that we’re a month into 2017, those resolutions we made a few short weeks ago might have already fallen to the wayside. Or, you could have been like me and not made any resolutions at all, in which case you might still be trying to figure out what you want to do in 2017 and how you’re going to accomplish it.

We hear so much talk about #newyearnewme that is almost seems like a requirement that we all resolve to be skinnier or stronger or whatever. I have a hard time with that, because 1. The me that I am right now seems pretty okay, and 2. Shouldn’t we focus more on being a better human being and making meaningful changes in our lives than just the superficial?

Similarly, I don’t think the beginning of the year has cornered the market on when we’re allowed to set goals. Who says you can’t make resolutions at the end of January, or in May or in August? No one, that’s who.

Given that, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks really evaluating some *life* things and have made pledges to myself and to others. Some of these pledges are fitness related, others are more broadly applicable in my life. All are aimed at growing into a better person and maybe bettering the word around me, too.

1. Get more sleep.
This is a fitness goal if I’ve ever seen one. Having a history of troubled sleep or simply not getting enough has meant that I haven’t allowed my body the appropriate recovery time. In the last month and a half, Clay and I have prioritized early bedtimes in favor of getting the most sleep possible. Consequently, we’ve been feeling a lot better physically and been more successful in the gym.

2. Read more books.
This seems like a gimme, but it’s ones that I’m really excited about! I used to be voracious reader as a kid, but since graduating college, the time I’ve dedicated to reading has dwindled. However, now that getting to bed early is a reality, so is making time to read a little before falling asleep. My goal is to finish at least 30 books this year – I’m already two in (one of those being Game of Thrones. Go big or go home amirite?)
3. Balance my workouts.
Weightlifting has been front and center for more than a year, but I want to make sure I’m balancing that with cardio as well – I feel better physically when I make time for a run or a Kaza class or two during the week. I want to stick to this, especially while Clay travels for work and my gym partner is gone.

4. Get more involved in my community.
This is a goal that has grown out of the atmosphere of the past few weeks – I feel that to best do my small part to fix what is so broken, I first need to get to know my neighbors and our community. To better understand what challenges we all face and what our priorities are.

5. Adjust my five year plan.
Following the last goal, this one is broader. My new five year plan includes going back to school and getting my law degree, so that I can really make bigger moves in advocacy and political action. But, in order to make that happen, I need to make some other adjustments and allowances. I’m grateful to have a partner who supports and encourages these dreams – and who understands that they may take time to achieve, but they are still possible.

More than new year’s resolutions, these goals aren’t time-stamped, and they certainly don’t have an expiration date. My next steps are just to keep on trucking and make a little bit of progress every day.

How do you set goals for yourself? Do you buy into New Year’s resolutions?

Weight Lifting Wednesday

It’s been a while. Oops.

The holidays happened. Then I moved. Now January is almost over and I feel like I don’t know where it went. Gah.

In all of this busy-ness, running has kind of fallen to the curb. I’ve run maybe twice since the Baltimore marathon in October. I’m signed up for a couple of races this spring, but honestly, I’m enjoying the break. From running at least.Look at those musclesssss

What have I been doing in the meantime?

Lifting a lot of heavy things.

The boyfrannnd is a Marine and that means being in shape and PT tests and since we both like fitness (and beer and pizza), we find ways to workout together so we can eat and drink together, too. We’ve crafted a workout schedule that is mostly weight training, balanced with some cardio and I’ve really been feeling great. Physically and mentally. It’s a huge boost to my self esteem to see the numbers on the plates tick up week to week.

By no means are we preparing for any body building or bikini figure contests, but damn if my arms and traps and lats don’t look way better than they used to.

Weight lifting can be super intimidating – I get it – but with the right plan for you, it can be the best workout you’ve ever gotten.

Just to give you a taste, here’s a week in the life of my current training schedule:

 

Monday: Back/Shoulders

  • Pull-up pyramid(5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5)/push-ups (10) superset
  • Military Press: 65#; 4×10
  • Barbell Rows: 115#; 4×10
  • Lat pull downs: 104#; 4×10
  • Tricep pull-up pyramid (5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5)

Tuesday: Legs

  • Squats: 165#; 4×12 (we opted for reps over weight here, whereas our last training cycle was focused more on heavy lifts and I was squatting 195#-200#)
  • Deadlifts: 165#; 2×10

Wednesday: Chest

  • Straight bench: 105#; 4×8
  • Incline bench: 95#; 4×8
  • Decline bench 105#; 4×8

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Bi/Tri

  • Standing curl (27.5#)/dips (10) superset: 4×10
  • Reverse grip pull downs : 55#; 4×10
  • EZ Bar Curls: 50#; 4×10
  • Tricep pushdowns: 55#; 4×10
  • Rope curls: 55#; 4×10
  • Plate curl drop sets: 45#, 35#, 25#

Saturday/Sunday: Cardio 
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I mean, one of the most frustrating things I hear from women is that they “don’t want to get big.” Now, I totally get the not wanting to look like some juiced-up East German Olympian with a lady ‘stache, but muscles are hot! And being strong is sexy. I love looking in the mirror and knowing that the reason my shirt is a little tighter or my jeans are filled out more is because I can squat more than what my boyfriend weighs.

Stringing together pull-ups, a thing I haven’t been able to do since I was a kid, is awesome. The day I finally put up 135# on my bench press? I felt like such a badass. Not to mention the fact that lifting weights is an incredible way to build core strength (without having to do a million crunches or other silly ab workouts) and is great cross training for running, biking or other cardio-based workouts.

If you’re at all intrigued by weight training – ask a trainer about it! When you’re at the gym, don’t be intimidated, just do some reading and research and give it a try. Make a plan, start light and get lifting!