whole life challenge

Review of the Whole Life Challenge

In the beginning of January I signed up for an 8 week challenge called Whole Life Challenge. The 8 weeks ended this past weekend and I wanted to capture my experience while encouraging all of my readers to sign up for the next Challenge in May.

The overall mission of the Whole Life Challenge is simple in text: To create lives of unbound possibility where health and fitness are limitless resources and the right of every human to design and share. You know when you sign up that you are making a lot of changes in your daily life but I didn’t realize what type of healthy habits I would be developing over the 8 weeks (or how hard some of them would be!)

My Biggest Challenges of the Whole Life Challenge

It is easy to look back and think “I owned that challenge”, but really, the challenge owned me.

Food Prep and Planning

I signed up for the advanced eating challenge which equates to paleo eating with no grains, diary or soy. This meant that we cooked 98% of our meals for 8 weeks. Besides the last week when we were on vacation I can count on one hand how many times we ate out. The process proved that meal planning and proper food prep is necessary even when you live in a moderately progressive area like Boulder/Denver.

 Working out and Stretching Daily

During this challenge I really drank the CrossFit kool-aid but as a true beginner I am only going 3-4x a week. If I missed a workout it was never due to being lazy but due to time constraints of work and commuting to/from. To the same tune getting in 10 minutes of stretching after a 12 hour day at work wasn’t always top of mind when I stumbled in the door. These two pieces of the challenge are something I still carry with me as I don’t feel like I overcame them 100% or have nailed down a great balance.

My Biggest Wins of the Whole Life Challenge

The great thing about this challenge is it truly challenged every piece of my life in a healthy and exciting way. The wins outweigh the challenges greatly and picking out the biggest is difficult.

Most importantly my biggest win was completing (and dominating) this challenge with my new wife. We signed up together and created many healthy habits together like cooking and working out together more.

The stats: 5″ lost around my hips and waist, 10% improvement on my baseline test (11 mins: 800m run, 75 airsquats, 50 situps, 25 pushups and then as many burpees as possible in time left)

My Overall Review

Cliche as it is, this challenge was life changing and I would recommend it even to a die hard athlete.

I plan on continuing to eat mostly paleo, with proper food planning and prep on the weekends. CrossFit is very much part of my workout habits and will only make me a more balanced cyclist during the season. I’m not sure if I will do the challenge again anytime soon but that is mainly due to wanting to implement the “rules” of the challenge in my everyday life!

The Whole Life Challenge has changed my life, maybe it will change yours too?

Power Hungry Cookbook

Review: Power Hungry Cookbook

If you know me, you know that I’m not a culinary expert. While I have being doing my best in 2013 to tackle learning how to cook better please know I am not a genius in the kitchen (or grocery store!) This review is a true real world, clue-less cook, review.

Power Hungry Cookbook: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook

ingredients

If you are reading this there is a good chance you have eaten some sort of Clif Bar, or Powerbar over the past few weeks. If you are anything like me you are burnt out on the textures, taste or cost every time you swallow one of those $2-5 bars. This is exactly why my interest was peaked when this book showed up for review. Time to branch out of my comfort zone and hopefully make yummy goodies!

The actual book of the Power Hungry Cookbook

The first 30 pages are under “The Power Hungry Pantry” which explains ingredient choices, substitutes and even how to make your own DIY glucose syrup. As a beginner at this, the Pantry pages were helpful and smoothed out some confusion of substitutions.

The book is broken down into a few chapters to easily find something that may tickle your taste buds. Super-Natural Knock-Offs, Activity Bars, Endurance Bars, Protein Bars, Raw and Almost Raw Bars. Something to note, this book doesn’t just make bars but also gel blocks, brownies and cookies.

Reading through the recipes they are easy to follow. As with any cookbook, it’s always good to read through the ingredients and instructions twice before heading to the store. After each recipe there are Bar Tips, Bar Keeping and Bar Variations, all helpful especially after you’ve had a few batches and want to change things up a bit.

Recipes and Rating

Emily and I tried three recipes on our first go around. In the process we created our own rating system from 1-5, it’s a great way to see what we like, or don’t, and what we want to keep making even as we try more recipes. The rating on each recipe reflects an average of our individual ratings combined.

Power Hungry Cookbook

Brewed Awakening Cappuccino Bars – Rating 3.75

Calories: 220 Fat: 9.7g Carbs: 31.3g Protein: 5g 

espresso

Main ingredients: Rolled oats, walnuts, almonds, coconut, brown rice, some espresso powder and other goodies. These are under activity bars, and make about 16 bars a batch. They are perfect for your jersey pocket, or to chow for breakfast.

Pumpkin Pie Power Bars – Rating 4

Calories: 127 Fat: 2.3g Carbs: 15g Protein: 12g

Power Hungry Cookbook

Main ingredients: Rolled oats (processed into powder), pumpkin puree, whey protein, greek yogurt and eggs. Fall “crack” bars are what these should be called. Perfect to head into fall with one of these in your lunch or jersey pocket. Without any additional chocolate or variations it taste much like the filler of pumpkin pie but in a fluffy bar. These are considered endurance bars and make 10 bars.

Seeds of Power Bars – Rating 2.75

Calories: 199 Fat: 9.2g Carbs: 24.8g Protein: 6.1g 

mix

This was my least favorite bar, but Emily loved it. It does have a great taste, but I can’t get over all the seeds and it was by far the most intensive of the three bars. These are under endurance bars and make 20 bars.

Ingredients and Side Notes

The ingredients for the recipes we decided on weren’t the easiest to find but with some proper searching and inquiries at local stores we found everything in one afternoon. 90% was found at our local natural food store (Sprouts), the local grocer had everything else. The initial investment was around $70-80 but mostly due to us not having many ingredients for baking in our house. We went to the bulk section for all the seeds and nuts so we could buy very little for this first round. The whey protein was the most expensive at $20 for the jug, but it stores well and will also be used in smoothies. Once you have the key ingredients the cost per bar will go down the more you make them. Don’t go too heavy on recipe specific ingredients until you know you love those bars and that you will make them again.

We plan on trying out some of the knock-off recipes to see if we like our versions better than the store bought. Our rating system uses this idea of store bought compared to final product. I do believe two of our three recipes tested so far were better than what I can buy at the store. Being able to edit and try out new things helps as well. For example we are almost out of Pumpkin bars so I’m simply going to go downstairs tonight and whip up a batch. No need to spend more money or remember to order them so I don’t starve on the next ride.

I highly recommend this book for yourself and it will be a great Christmast gift for active friends in your life!

Visit the author’s website or buy your copy on Amazon.

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost for review.

 

IMG_3574

Review: Clif Bar Sierra Trail Mix

Clif Bar is one of the original energy bars on the market and are a pretty standard energy snack on the trail or in a cyclist pocket. It’s great to see when they add more flavors to their options to keep people interested and not burnt out on their selection

Clif Bar Sierra Trail Mix $15 per box of 12

WCB13_388-Nutritionals_Clif-Bar_STM

Ingredients

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Peanuts, Chocolate Chips (Dried Cane Syrup, Unsweetened Chocolate‡, Cocoa Butter‡, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract), Organic Raisins, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Peanut Butter (Organic Peanuts, Salt), ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin, Organic Psyllium), Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Roasted Sunflower Seeds (Sunflower Seeds, Sunflower Oil), Organic Date Paste, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Natural Vitamin E (Antioxidant).

IMG_3576

Taste Test

This bar really tast like a great bag of trail mix in a bar but with some additional moisture so you don’t have cotton mouth. It’s a welcoming difference of many bars with it’s chocolate chips, soy rice crisps, raisins and pumpkin seeds. Yummy goodness! I

f you are looking for an easy choice for calories in a wrapper, give this your own taste test and let me know what you think!

GU Electrolyte Brew Review

Review: GU Electrolyte Brew Lemon Lime

Reviewing a nutritional item is so different than trying on a pair of shorts. Even restaurants I struggle with reviews. What I like is much different than what you may like, but my job is to tell you about my experience and you come up with a conclusion that fits you to try it or not. Let’s try to make this as useful to you as possible!

This review should start with a disclaimer, and notice to never ride behind me. I sweat a lot. Which means I need to take on a lot of liquids and replacement for the salt leaving my body on a salty stream.

Overall Review of the Gu Electrolyte Brew

Two thumbs up, the Brew is mostly carbs and sodium. Exactly what I need on hot days in the southeast. Replenishes what I’m sweating out without giving me a heavy stomach while riding tempo. If I need something with more weight to it I goto Cytomax. The Lemon Lime flavor reminds me the taste of the original Gatorade flavor. I find it strangely comforting as it brings me back to two a day practices in high school!

These guys come in single serve packets or big jugs. I recommend to try out a different flavors of the single serve and let me know what you think!

Visit Gu Electrolyte Brew Online

FTC Disclaimer: The product was provided at no charge for review. I was not paid or bribed, but wouldn’t mind getting paid once in awhile for this.

 

Hydrapak Soft Flask

Hydrapak Soft Flask

On long rides I use gels, every 30 minutes on rides over 3 hours. On races under 3 hours I use it as well to keep my legs turning over well. On the longer rides I carry a flask or two of gel instead of single packages. The single packages are wasteful and can get expensive.

For the past 4 years I’ve used Hammer Gel’s hard plastic flask. I’m excited to see how the new(ish) Soft Flask from Hydrapak works out. I’ll be able to roll up the bottom to get the last drops of gel and it packs up smaller after use instead of taking up a ton of room in my pocket or bag.

Do you use gel? How do you carry it?