Wahoo’s TICKR Run Heart Rate Monitor

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Wahoo Fitness has introduced TICKR Run and they sent me one to try! (Full disclosure, the device was given to me for free and the thoughts here are all my own.) TICKR Run is the first heart rate monitor with activity tracking that provides real-time analysis of a runner’s form, helping to improve efficiency and avoid injury rates. The device pairs with iOS and Android smartphones and other devices and retails for $79.99.

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Want the official lingo on how it works?

Using a triple axis motion sensor, TICKR Run contains an accelerometer that measures a runner’s form in three planes: vertically, side-to-side and front-to-back. Those sensors and Wahoo’s fitness app for iOS and Android (update to be released in the coming months) produce a measurement of each runner’s form called Running Smoothness. Developed exclusively by Wahoo, Running Smoothness is a sophisticated algorithm that assigns varying levels of importance to each axis and combines them into a single, easy-to-understand index. Using Running Smoothness, athletes can improve their form to avoid unnecessary body motion, which improves efficiency and reduces the risk of common running injuries. Using Wahoo’s app, runners can even track Running Smoothness through their workout history to see improvements over long periods of time.

The TICKR Run review in Jill-speak… It paired really easily with both my iPhone and my Garmin Forerunner 220 watch. Using it with the Forerunner alone you get a solid and consistent heart-rate reading, one of the most reliable I’ve ever used. Used with the app, you get the added benefit of Running Smoothness, which I don’t use all the time because I’m content with my Garmin, but when I’ve played with it I’ve been impressed. It usually has pretty comparable stats for stride rate as my Forerunner, but there’s also the added information about side-to-side motion and ground contact time. There is a treadmill mode as well, so you can use your connected device, TICKR Run and get all the same data.

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If you don’t want to use a new app for tracking, it pairs with over 50 of the most popular fitness apps out there (including Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness, etc.)

An additional perk from Wahoo is they offer BURN & BURST heart rate training plans. The BURN plan is designed to optimize fat burn and the BURST works on your speed and performance. This is a nice benefit for those who want to use the power of tapping into their heart rate for training optimization but aren’t quite sure how to approach that.

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I’ve been impressed with the strap. It is comfortable and easy to put on, the closure is controlled by hooking on the sensor, so no reaching behind to blindly fiddle for a little hook closure. Once on and after it’s been paired, I’ve not once had a problem with it losing the connection or failing to recognize my heart rate.  Since it has the bonus of being able to pair with your phone and various apps, that frees you up to use it for a multitude of sports/fitness activities, which makes it a more universally appealing option.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Cuerpaso: Natural Butt Lift & Tummy Tuck

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I was sent the workout DVD Cuerpaso to review, “cuerpaso” meaning amazing body in Spanish and Portuguese (so they claim). It stars Tadeo, who is (I’m told) a “celebrity fitness trainer” and the DVD incorporates “endurance and strength training soccer drills with energetic Brazilian dance movements to guarantee a fit, sexy body.” Guarantee, huh?  Also, it says that you will have a better butt, sleep better and your sex life will improve. Tall order from one little 48-minute workout DVD!

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I will admit, the workout is fun. I broke a sweat and got my heart rate up. It was entertaining! Entertaining because it was a good time, but also because of the instructor and the girls in the video. The instructor, Tadeo, is easygoing and seems like he’d be fun to hang out with. But he makes me chuckle with some of the things he says. And the girls… well, I’m pretty sure they were picked to be in the video based on how they looked in their bikinis and not their Cuerpaso workout prowess. And honestly, who wears a fringe-y, string bikini to workout? Even on the beach, the vast majority of people probably wouldn’t wear that. Tadeo himself didn’t wear a speedo (although he mentions in the video that he rocks one!) to workout.

Cuerpaso video

The girls in the video weren’t like the cast in some workout videos where you feel intimidated by a mass of perfect people doing the workout perfectly. They were never all choreographed together, they looked clumsy from time-to-time and orange-bikini-girl even falls down at one point! I actually found it refreshing and relatable! And funny!

Cuerpaso videoI learned some good info from this video, one of which is that soccer players have the best butts. I know this now because Tadeo told me so.
Cuerpaso Video

And he wants you to improve your rear view from doing this workout. He’s watching out for you…Cuerpaso video

Really, he wants you to improve your rear view! Tadeo likes what he sees. (Orange bikini girl isn’t keeping up with her glute bridges!)Cuerpaso video

Tadeo also hopes you will enjoy how you look naked. He even said that after his ex-girlfriend and he would “finish a session” they would stand in front of a mirror and just enjoy how they looked naked. And that statement made me laugh out loud. More power to them! More power to them…

I don’t know how you’re going to judge that your sex life improves from this workout. Isn’t it highly probable that you’ll have a great session and a regular session at different times regardless of your workout just because of life? And I am now going to call it a “session” all the time because of Tadeo calling it that.

At one point Tadeo says the workout will help rid you of cellulite, because he hates cellulite and doesn’t want to see that on you. Kind of a misguided statement, since cellulite is a naturally occurring thing, some people have it more prominently than others. It’s almost like saying, “I hate eyelashes and don’t want to see them on you.” He does acknowledge that magic creams won’t help you with cellulite though, so there’s that positive.

I’ve sprinkled some sarcasm throughout this review, but it really is a good workout. And apparently he teaches a class in Santa Monica. If I had known that when I was there a couple of weeks ago, I would have tried to attend. (I’m just building up more and more reasons for why I need a return vacation to Santa Monica!) Oh, and according to the pictures… the women in the class wear normal workout clothing!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Buoy Chair – Sit Actively! [GIVEAWAY!]

Man sitting on a Buoy chair

A while back I shared a link on Twitter and Facebook about an awesome chair that I stumbled upon online. I sit at my desk to work on a computer all day… and people aren’t really made to sit that long. But it’s the way our world has evolved and I don’t see a treadmill desk in my future. I’ve tried sitting on an exercise ball at times, but it’s really the wrong height for my desk. So when I saw this awesome chair, I was excited. I had to share it with everyone.

The Buoy chair by Turnstone.

Man sitting on a Buoy chair

And after I shared the link, Turnstone reached out to me and I got to talk with the company a little; then they offered to send me one! Holy cow!

Yep… it’s a little wacky looking, but it’s also kind of sleek and sexy. (Cause I think a chair is sexy!) When my toddler walked into my office and saw it instead of my regular chair, she said, “Uh oh! Uh oh!” But that’s mainly because she didn’t have somewhere to sit with that chair in the regular place.

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The Buoy in it’s natural habitat… AKA my messy office as opposed to a professional photo!

The Buoy has a curved bottom, so you are unsteady and you have to use your core to stay stable, kind of like sitting on a ball but you don’t have to worry about inflating it AND it has a lever to raise/lower the chair to the perfect height for your workstation/body.

Lever on Buoy Chair

I love sitting on it while I work, I find that I focus better and it doesn’t fatigue me. It’s very lightweight, so it’s easy to move out of the way (I can tuck it all the way under my desk) and roll the regular chair back in place for the toddler to sit at my desk and color. (She likes to use a pen all over a notepad and pick up my desk phone to say “HELLO!”) The only problem I have, as a telecommuter I have a lot of videoconferences and I find myself swaying/rocking back and forth when sitting on it (more than you have to in order to be steady, I just like to move… I’m a fidgeter!) and then worry that I look like a nut to my colleagues! Of course, they already know I’m a little wacky anyway!

I can’t come up with any downsides to this chair. I can sit on it for my entire workday, it’s comfy and it just makes me smile. If I could convince my work to start replacing everyone’s chairs with these, I totally would. Of course, I know a lot of my coworkers wouldn’t want to make that change.

But if you read my site, you probably have a little bit of a vested interest in health (or you’re related to me) and are probably interested in ways to improve your wellbeing. Right? You want one of these, right?

Well, the awesome people at Turnstone are letting me GIVE ONE AWAY via my site. This may be one of the cooler giveaways I’ve had on here. This baby is valued at $200+! They’re even letting the winner choose their own body/cap colors… so it’s customized for the winner.

Enter via the Rafflecopter widget. You can earn entries by following Turnstone and me on Facebook/Twitter, tweeting a message or get 5 entries by leaving a comment on this post!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yes, I received the chair for free. I have to mention that for legal reasons. But I totally love it and I’m really grateful that Turnstone offered me that opportunity and if I had tons of money, I would buy one for all of you. (Except you… you know who you are!)

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Hüma Gels: Blueberries and Mangoes

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I was sent two packets of Hüma Gel for review, one in each new flavor. Thoughts are always my own.

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I reviewed Hüma Gel on my site a year ago, their original two flavors. They recently launched two new flavors: Blueberries and Mangoes. (Yes… there is only one pictured up there. I consumed it before taking a picture. Just picture that one with a yellow package and it says “Mangoes” instead, aiiiight?)

Since I already reviewed Hüma Gel once before, I just want to say the new flavors are tasty. I think I’m going to give Blueberries the edge in these two… but the original Apple Cinnamon is still my favorite in their lineup. Their gels are all natural ingredients; you can actually read the list and understand it, so I feel good about recommending these.

A while ago I started to do some research on “premium gels” and why they cost so much. And well… life got in the way of actually getting it posted. But one of the gels in my premium list was Hüma Gel, and I had reached out to them to get some details about why it costs so much (about $2.25 per packet). Here’s what they had to say:

  1. Ingredients. How concerned is the person about the ingredients they consume? I know many athletes aren’t concerned at all (men in particular); they just want something cheap that works. However, for the athlete whose primary concern is health and fitness, ingredients are important. These people are spending hours upon hours of sweat and pain to be healthy, so they want to make sure the ingredients they’re ingesting support that goal rather than detract from it. Huma could save a lot of money by using ingredients like maltodextrin, potassium sorbate, or sodium benzoate…but that’s not what our customers want, so we only use 100% all-natural, real food ingredients whose names you can pronounce. Of course, there are side benefits to only using 100% all-natural, real food ingredients: smooth, easy to swallow consistency, no weird aftertaste, and zero stomach problems!
  2. Cutting Edge Performance Research. Some of the energy gel companies have been using basically the same formula for 20+ years. Obviously, the human body doesn’t evolve very quickly, but our understanding of it has grown tremendously. Huma Gel takes the best of past research and combines it with the latest studies to bring you the best performance gel on the market. To top it off, all our citations are publicly available on PubMed for consumers to verify on their own!
  3. Great Taste. Seriously. One of our top priorities was great taste, and we cut no corners in making that happen. Having a legitimately great taste is probably the biggest reason we’ve expanded so quickly.

Read their Energy Gel 101 for the science on gels and how to best use them.

A couple other factoids:

Q: Where did the name “Hüma ” come from?
A: Hüma is based on the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. Unfortunately, using “Tarahumara” as a name would have been far too long for our gel package, so we chopped it down to “Hüma ”.

Q: How is Hüma pronounced?
A: Hüma is pronounced “Hoo-mah” (not “Hew-mah”, though German speakers will fight on this one). The umlauts mean absolutely nothing except to make a smiley face. Hüma is happy gel!

Q: Will the fiber content in Hüma gels cause me to do a porta-potty dash?
A: No. Chia constitutes only about 1/8 of the ingredients, which is little enough to not cause GI distress. In fact, Hüma gels have a fantastic history of being stomach-problem free.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Swiftwick Socks

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I was sent three pairs of Swiftwick socks free for the purpose of review. Thoughts posted on this site are always my own.

Swiftwick socks

Swiftwick makes socks for a wide variety of sports (to name some: running, golf, hockey, fishing — did you ever think about special socks for fishing? I never did. Maybe waterproof socks, but not regular ones!) They are all wicking, to pull moisture away from the skin and avoid blisters. When they contacted me, I said that I prefer thinner socks that are low-cut and they sent me three versions from their lineup to try.

ASPIRE: Minimal sock, it’s ultra-thin which is great for summer. It has compression technology and no toe seam to eliminate bunching at the top of your shoe. It comes in fun colors too, like green, pink and purple.

VIBE: This one is a little more cushioned, but still really thin. It has compression, but less than the other lines.

SUSTAIN: The only socks on the market created from post-industrial recycled nylon. From refusing to use chemicals to wick away moisture, to a commitment to being made in the USA – these are their tribute to the company’s eco-conscious ideals.

Their socks all come in a variety of heights. I prefer my running socks to be pretty low, so I was sent the ZERO models. I found all of them to be comfortable and effective. They were maybe a tad bit too low, as I had to make sure I pulled them up in place exactly right so my shoe didn’t rub on my Achilles. But when that was done, they didn’t move during the run.

My favorite was the SUSTAIN pair. They actually didn’t seem to need as much precision to get them on right and they were super comfy, even after a few washings. All of them came through the wash great with no shrinking or pilling. If I were buying a pair, I would probably pick the SUSTAIN, but any of them were fantastic socks. They retail for $11.99 a pair, pretty comparable with most specialty running socks.

They have a sock club where you can get specialty designed sock-of-the-month socks. As of this writing, the specialty sock is one with a “Mom” tattoo design on the ankle. They also offer the “Wick Nation”, a rewards program for buying socks and referring people to the site. (None of these links are referral links, FYI.) They have some pretty big names in ultrarunning signed on to their product, you can check out a list of athletes in Swiftwick socks as well.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Block Island Organics Sunscreen

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I was sent some Block Island Organics Sunblock for testing/review purposes. As always, forever and ever, opinions on this site are mine mine mine.

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Unless you are a hardcore treadmill fan, runners spend so much time outside that we definitely need to take precautions to protect our skin. I try to be diligent in putting on sunblock before going out to run, but I confess to some bad habits. I never remember to put it on my legs! And sometimes I forget my arms! But I always have sunblock on my face/neck/ears while running and my regular day-to-day moisturizer and BB Cream contain sun protection too.

When I was doing marathon training years ago, I discovered that many of the traditional sport sunblocks would not be as waterproof or sweat resistant as they claimed. And then they would run into my eyes… and it was excruciating! I still wore contacts at that time and that really intensified the pain. So I switched to mineral-based sunscreen and never looked back.

Block Island Organics sunscreens are non-toxic mineral based (zinc and titanium) products and come in a variety of SPF levels (15, 30, 40 and a Baby version, zinc-only). The products are non-comedogenic, vegan formulated, paraben-free, phthalate-free, nano particle-free, artificial fragrance-free, non-eye irritating, not tested on animals, made in the USA and highly rated by the Environmental Working Group.

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I liked the way it felt while putting it on, it didn’t feel too thick or pasty like some I’ve tried and it rubs on easily. And even though I didn’t have the special baby formula, I slathered some of it on my toddler’s arms way easier than the fancy organic sunblock I bought for her when she was 6-months old but hate putting on her because it feels like I’m trying to rub runny silly putty all over.

Like most mineral-based sunscreens it can give you a little bit of a ghosty appearance, mainly because the minerals are an actual physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Like the lifeguard look from the 80′s with their colored noses?

Lifeguard with sunblock on the nose.

After running and sweating in the sunblock, I did have some white streaks in my elbow pits (totally the technical term there) but that was no big deal. When I wiped sweat off my face with my shirt, it left traces of white residue behind as well.

The business started out of an eco spa on Block Island, Rhode Island called Koru Eco Spa. Their philosophy is to actively enjoy the outdoors with the motto “Play Smart. Play Safe. Non-Toxic Suncare.” They strive to make safe, effective sun care products and educate the public on sun care issues but don’t believe in avoiding the sun altogether.

Overall, I really like this sunscreen! The main downsides: it costs $25.99-29.99 a bottle and the only way to get it is to order it online. No running to chain drugstore down the street to pick some more up if I run out. HOWEVER… the bottle is a 6 oz. bottle as opposed to a 3-4 oz. bottle like many mineral sunblocks, so it works out to being comparable or cheaper than most mineral products on the market.

GET 20% off your order by using the code JillWillRun20 on the Block Island site!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Zim’s: Heels & Feet Foot Cream & Max-Freeze Continuous Spray

Zim's Foot Cream and Max Freeze Spray

I received a couple of products for free from Zim’s for the purpose of review. Opinions are my own, as always! I reviewed some of Zim’s products a year ago as well.

Zim's Foot Cream and Max Freeze Spray

Zim’s Heels & Feet Foot Cream offers effective skincare for runner’s feet for enduring the wear and tear of road running. Its naturally-based ingredients keep feet and toes soft and supple; aiding in the prevention of thickened skin.

- I like this product, it smooths on well and it improves the appearance of dry skin on the feet very quickly. I have only used it at night, before I go to sleep and with socks on over it. So I’m not sure how long it takes to really absorb into the skin. Tip: Shake the bottle up a little before you flip the top open because it might separate a little when setting.

Zim’s Max-Freeze Continuous Spray for Feet is specifically designed to ease pain and discomfort on sore heels and feet. The fast-acting spray on formula provides temporary relief of achy feet, using all-natural and certified organic ingredients.

- This says it is for feet… my feet haven’t hurt and I haven’t felt the need for some kind of pain relief on them. However, it does say on the bottle it is for the temporary pain relief of muscle aches/strains, bruises, backache, etc. I have sprayed it on bruises with great success and I’ve sprayed it on my own neck when it’s felt tight and sore. I really like the spray application, it gets a nice even covering in one quick blast. It is a menthol product, so it does have that trademark scent. But since it is applied in a nice fine mist, the scent dissipates more quickly than cream products I’ve tried.

These are both great products, and I can probably ramble on and on about how much I loved the Max-Freeze spray. I don’t know that I should love a pain-relief product that much or be excited when I’ve run into something once more and think, “Yes! I have a new bruise that I can treat with the spray!” (Well, maybe it’s not that extreme, but after the initial pain subsides, it’s always a relief to know that I have it available.)

Zim’s products are available online and in LOTS of retails across the US and Canada.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

REM-Fit

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So… we all know that sleep is a great form of recovery, right? But what if where we’re sleeping is actually causing more problems? I was sent a bunch of sleep gear in the REM-Fit by Protect-a-Bed line to give my bed a makeover and I’m going to be testing it for a while. Right now, the pillow protectors and mattress protector have been on my bed for 2 weeks and I’ve been sleeping on the pillow during that time too.

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I plan to check back in here after I’ve been sleeping on this stuff for a couple of hot summer months. But I thought I would let you know some of the ways the system is supposed to help.

  • Preventing allergens and dust mites (particularly important as runners begin spring training).
  • Adjusting to sleepers’ temperatures so they’re not too hot or too cold (through thermoregulating properties),
  • Helping sleepers find the perfect pillow. The Rest Adjustable Pillow lets sleepers create their ideal pillow with their preferred amount of fill.

So my initial reactions…

  • I like that you can adjust the amount of fill in the pillow to meet your needs. I haven’t had as much neck and upper back pain since switching to this pillow.
  • I haven’t been extremely hot or cold in bed. And we’ve had some temperature swings. The real test will be in the summer when the overnight lows are around 90.  Anything that can help my body regulate temperature will be welcome.
  • My bed sheets stay in place better! It’s a silly thing, but having the mattress protector under my fitted sheet seems to keep the sheet from pulling up. (My husband makes a mess of the bed. You should see our bed in the morning, his side looks like a tornado went through it and mine is mostly made.) A neat and tidy bed is one of my great pleasures in life, so this seems to actually make that easier to maintain!

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REM-Fit just launched its Wake-Up Champions team. This is a group of fitness enthusiasts interested in exercise and overall health (particularly sleep). They’ll be giving Wake-Up Champions team member the chance to test out new products, regular motivational tips and updates and more. It’s free to join and anyone can join.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

BE REAL Shoes (minimal shoe review)

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These BE REAL shoes were sent to me for the purpose of review. Opinions are my own. And also… I owe them a huge apology because I have been really slow in getting this posted!

Be Real Shoes collection

Photo from berealshoes.com

Minimal shoes aren’t as “hot” right now, there seems to be a maximum cushioning trend going on. But I also think that we are in a new era of running shoes, where we’ll have more options available to us. Several years ago (maybe 2009?) I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. And I liked how they felt. I would run a speedy one-mile loop around my neighborhood in them and they were great for strengthening my calves. I wore them during my pregnancy to walk the dog. But I tried them on again about 5 months after my daughter was born and they didn’t feel good anymore. While my feet didn’t drastically change, they did change in subtle ways. Yet another weird way you can be forever altered by having a kid!

When I tried on the BE REAL shoes, I felt that same connection to the ground that I got from the toe shoes, but there were a couple of really great differences:

  1. My feet didn’t feel squished/pinched/constricted
  2. They’re easy to put on.

I don’t run far in shoes this minimal. Just some strides up/down my street and walking the dog, things of that nature. They’re good for developing strength in that regard, but I don’t want to or intend to use them for distance.

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The shoes have an all-terrain sole and I have walked across rocks and it’s never bothered me. This gives them traction in a variety of conditions: trail, grass, wet, streets. Oh, and the sole is a patent-pending 100% recyclable sole. Interesting, huh? The company is committed to domestic and eco-friendly manufacturing.

But….

BUT…

BUT…

To be gentle, they’re not the most attractive shoes in the world. I know, we don’t pick our running shoes by how they look. (Well, not first and foremost. We should focus on fit/feel. But if looks come into play… that’s alright.) And when I wear them with running shorts I feel like they really stand out. It’s weird how I can feel self-conscious in these but not in neon orange/yellow shoes, huh? C’est la vie.

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Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

The Athlete’s Cookbook

The Athlete's Cookbook

I was sent The Athlete’s Cookbook free for review, thoughts are my own.

The Athlete's Cookbook

If you’ve ever spent time on any message board with athletes, food is always a hot topic. Hell… food is a hot topic in this country all around. There are different opinions on which food groups to include/exclude, which diet is good/bad/best/worst and conflicting advice flying at us from every avenue. It’s enough to make you go crazy. So for the most part, I’ve learned to avoid it… but it wasn’t easy to retrain my brain in that regard. So I’m always a little leery about reviewing books that have to do with food/diet.

The Athlete’s Cookbook one is overall very good, there are a couple of things that are maybe a little questionable, but nothing too dire. (Only if the reader takes everything too literally.)

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The bulk of the book is actually recipes, which I found nice. And the recipes are all normal food. There’s no instructions about the strange special ingredients you have to order from an unknown website or branded food-products. The meal plans/protocols included are pretty straight-forward goals as well; weight management, strength training, endurance. No unrealistic promises like: drop your pace by 2 min/mile or shed 4 dress sizes in a week or get ripped glutes in a day.

And while I skimmed the plans and the advice they gave on how/when to eat certain recipes, I’m never going to refer back to those. They do offer some meal plans that recommend recipes from the book and when to eat those during the day in relationship to workouts. As long as the reader takes that as a general rule of thumb and applies it to their own life (for example, you don’t HAVE to eat the exact recipe at 5 AM on Wednesdays if that doesn’t work for you!) then they are good guidelines.

With a toddler at home and a husband who’s never at home, I find it hard to fit in recipe testing. But I did find time to make a few things from this book and my favorite so far has to be the Hot Quinoa Cereal.

Hot Quinoa Cereal

The great thing about this recipe is that it can serve as the foundation for several variations. So instead of the chopped nuts and mango, I’ve adapted it to put whatever fruit/nuts I feel like. Just the approach of cooking the quinoa with cinnamon and vanilla makes for a great base that can be enjoyed hot or cold. To make it super easy, throw the quinoa, water, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a rice cooker. Keep the leftovers in the fridge for a few days to pull out for easy breakfast.

Hot Quinoa Cereal

The book is great in that it has recipes from several different regions, it doesn’t just try to recreate “American classics” in a healthier way. None of it feels like it’s trying to adapt to being healthier, they’re just practically healthy! And I like that they don’t feature calorie counts on the recipes, it helps with following intuitive eating cues, at least for me.

And if you’re wondering about the cute little text/icons on the pics… I got a new app: MocaDeco. I had to play with it!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.