Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fluff

Tuesday Tazer and Gaigai had a half day, so we took the opportunity to head up to Michigan to pick some apples.  Even though  it was raining on and off, we donned our rain gear and had a great time - now we need to figure out what to with all of them:)

K and are back in Michigan to celebrate our anniversary weekend.  Strange not to have the kiddos - all 4 plus the dog are home with my aunt and uncle (exciting, but miss them already).  We're planning to visit some local wineries, do some biking and just relaxing.

Also this weekend - the Lithuanians in Los Angeles are having LT Days (headed up by my brother in law).  Here's a glimpse of the fun they had last year.  The video is kind of long, but hopefully the music itself is enough to make you want to dance!

Happy Friday!!

What is your favorite apple recipe?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Morsels - onions, coconuts and metabolism boosting treats

I don't know about you, but we're always looking for easy ways to improve our diet, make us healthier and possibly loose weight simultaneously.  Here are some interesting tidbits worth trying...

A study in The Journal of Nutrition has linked rutin, a compound found in onions, to reduced belly fat (and to keep blood vessels clear of blockages) in animals fed high-fat, high-carb diets.  Possible explanation is that poor diets can lead to inflammation, which contributes to obesity, but rutin (also found in apples, citrus fruits and cranberries) may have an anti-inflammatory effect.

For decades coconuts have gotten a bad rap because of their high saturated fat content.  Turns out coconuts are healthy - coconut oil is swimming in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), fats that can be metabolized faster than other oils and help absorb nutrients.  Some preliminary studies also suggest that the MCFAs in coconut oil may help treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, Lou Gehrig's, MS and diabetes.  The lauric acid in coconuts may help the body fight viruses.  In addition fresh coconut meat is an excellent source of fiber and raw coconut water is rich in minerals, including potassium, manganese and magnesium.  

Metabolism-Boosting Treats
1.  White tea:  least processed tea and has more EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) - a mix of compounds that decrease your body’s production of fat cells, according to German research.
2.  Grass-Fed Beef: the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in grass-fed beef can boost your metabolism and help you drop belly fat too.  You’ll also find CLA in dairy products from grass-fed animals.
3.  Peanut Butter for Breakfast: eating some fat within an hour after you wake up sets your metabolism to burn fat better for the rest of the day, according to a study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  (Don’t like PB?  Try another healthy fat: almond or cashew butter, some macadamia nuts sprinkled on cereal or yogurt, or an avocado.)
4.   Yogurt: a British study found that slim people have a healthy crop of gut bacteria, which helps control how your body absorbs and metabolizes fat.  Eat yogurt with live cultures to get more good bacteria, which helps your system metabolize fat faster.  
5.  A Just Barely-Ripe Banana: Bananas that a just barely ripe are a great source of Resistant Starch - a type of carb that boosts your body’s ability to burn more fat.

Tidbits taken from What the Yuck?!, Natural Health, Experience Life, Women's Magazine, Well-Being Journal.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Orbana Healthy Energy Drink Review

Orbana -  a revolutionary healthy energy drink which provides a genuine source of endurance without the dreaded spike and crash. 

Developed by sports, health, and nutrition experts, Orbana Healthy Energy Drink is refreshing, great tasting and easily digestible.  

Contains:  vitamins, minerals, amino acids and electrolytes which delay fatigue and improve recovery time. 

Free of:  caffeine, sweeteners, artificial colors and preservatives, steroids, stimulants, contaminants and synthetic taste.  

Kovas and I were sent some packets to try.  We mixed up the powder before running to stay energized and after to re-energize and recover.  Truly free from synthetic taste, Orbana has a light refreshing citrusy pineapple taste.  It's not too sweet, but obviously can be diluted or concentrated as one's tastes desire.  It is easy to digest - I had no problems during or after my runs.  

Everything in Orbana healthy energy is there for a reason - to promote good health and improve performance and endurance. 

Check out the comparison chart of what is in Orbana compared to other energy drinks: 

Orbana is the first company to be awarded with the “Informed Sport” accreditation, followed by Informed Choice and it’s also part of an on-going testing program. 

Drink before, during to stay energized and after to re-energize and aid in recovery or any time you need extra energy.

Find out more on the Orbana website, follow on Twitter, like them onFacebook.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Orbana. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits - Sugar High

According to conservative USDA estimates, on average, Americans consume 22 teaspoons of "added sugars" each day, or 355 additional calories, more than double what is recommended by the American Heart Association.

Research shows that eating sugar-laden foods or drinks with a high glycemic index, like white bread, ice cream or high-sugar energy bars about an hour before a run may cause you to tire more quickly.

Sugary foods consumed during high intensity exercise, however, can help you train harder and longer.  If running for more than 60 minutes, 30-60 grams of simple carbs for each hour of acitivity.  If exercising for an hour or less, water is all you need.

Immediately post-run you are also allowed to consume sugar, guilt-free.  At this time muscles are craving sugar to replenish glycogen stores to prepare for next exercise session.    

As for the rest of the day, shelf sugary foods.

Studies suggest that sugar activates the brain's neural pathways in a manner similar to taking narcotic drugs.  Just like morphine, the more sugar you eat, the more you need to feel the effect.  The more you satisfy your sugar cravings and your sugar calorie intake sneaks upward, the more likely it is that you'll be trying to run off a Buddha-belly.

For the all the details, read the full article, "Sugar Shock" in this month's issue of TrailRunner magazine.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Columbia Sportswear Field Testing and Product Review

During the summer Kovas and I were given the great opportunity to participate in Columbia’s Sportswear Field Testing Program.   Columbia is a family business gone global. It started out as a small hat company in Portland 70 years ago. Today Columbia makes high-quality performance products which are available around the world.   I was sent the Women’s Peak Power Shell and the Women’s Cool Rules Short Sleeve Shirt. To see what Kovas thought of the Men’s Peak 2 Peak Jacket and Altimeter Shirt, read his review over at Midwest Multisport Life

Waiting for some lunch after a morning of touring Klaipeda.
Women’s Peak Power™ Shell 
The Peak Power is an incredible breathable waterproof shell. It’s outfitted with Columbia’s Omni-Dry® which includes an ultra-light laminate membrane that’s over 50-percent air to keep you cool and dry. In addition, underarm vents zip open to further disperse heat. An attached, adjustable storm hood provides maximum protection from wind and rain. I used this jacket to run errands and wore it during breezy, rainy days traveling in Lithuania.  It traveled well and kept me (us) dry.  

Women’s Cool Rules™ Short Sleeve Top 
The Cool Rules Short Sleeve Top is a super cute wicking running top that actively cools you down as your body heats up. Columbia’s Omni-Freeze® and Omni-Shade UPF30 technologies keep you cool and protected. Special flat yarn construction increases the surface area against your skin to pull heat away as it is generated. Mesh patterning on the back and underarm area provide maximum ventilation. I wore this shirt for long and short runs during the peak heat and humidity of the Midwest summer. It performed great - even though I was drenched with sweat, my shirt did not cling or feel heavy. 

The Peak Power Shell and Cool Rules Short Sleeve Top look great and perform well.  Like many of their products, these items are also very versatile.  They transition easily from touring to hiking or running all the while providing comfort and style.

For more information, go to the Columbia website, read their blog, like onFacebook, or follow on Twitter.  To read my reviews of the Columbia Master of Faster, Drainmaker and Bug Shield Long Sleeve Top, check out my posts on

From front yard to forest, Columbia keeps you comfortable and protected 
so you can stay out longer. 

Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Columbia Sportswear. I was not compensated in any other way for the reviews, was not obligated to give them a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits - All in the Head

Some 25% of college-age people may already have mild hearing loss, according to new research published in the International Journal of Audiology. And aural damage can be exhausting because “your body has to work harder to concentrate on sounds,” says study author Colleen Le Prell, Ph.D. So dial down the volume when using earphones.  If somebody else can hear your music - it’s too loud. 

 Patients who took up a 10-week running program reported a drop of about 40 percent in the quantity and intensity of migraines - as much as they’d get from some meds. Exercise may reduce levels of stress hormones that trigger headaches (International Journal of Sports Medicine). 

 A new study found that the ability to learn and retain information improved after weight-loss surgery. Slimming down improves factors like high blood pressure that may affect the brain, says study author John Gunstad, Ph.D. And that’s true even if you don’t go under the knife to lose. 

 Frequent trips to any kind of store could actually extend your life. In a new study, women who went shopping daily for 10 years - even if they didn’t end up buying anything - were 23 percent less likely to die during that time period than those who browsed less often (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health). 

Facts taken from Women's Health and Shape magazines

Friday, September 9, 2011

Brooks Summer Gear Review

I was super excited to receive a whole summer running outfit from Brooks - from top to bottom:  the Versatile EZ Racerback Tank, Epiphany bra top, Glycerine Shorts and Trailblade shoes.
Running the Oakbrook half marathon in my Versatile EZ Racerback Tank.
The Versatile EZ Tank and the Glycerine Shorts were perfect for running in the heat and humidity of the Midwest summer.  The Versatile EZ Racerback Tank's lightweight, moisture wicking fabric is very soft and comfortable with just the right amount of stretch.  The subtle blossom print detail on the back and contrasting princess seams add a nice design touch.  The Glycerine Short is also very comfortable and lightweight.  The flattering semi-fitted, low-riders have a 3 1/2" inseam which allow for unrestricted movement. The low rise, a wide waist band and soft inner liner prevent riding up and chafing.  The wicking material is quick drying and doesn't show sweat.  

The Epiphany Bra Top is a great sports bra.  It has mesh on the sides and back for greater breathability.  With a stylish racerback design and encapsulation/compression cups, it is very comfortable for light to moderate activity, but did not provide enough support for me for running.  I enjoy wearing it for lower impact activities such as hiking, biking and playing with the kids.  Plus it's comfortable enough to wear all day!

Brooks Versatile EZ Tank, Glycerine Shorts, Epiphany Bra Top

The Trailblade is the perfect shoe to run to and through trails.  It is rough and rugged, providing the support for dirt, roots, gravel, etc. yet light and easy on the road.  Although I would like to run more trails, my fear of running alone through the woods and getting lost keeps me mostly on the roads (unless I go with my hubby or on shorter trails where I'm comfortable going solo).  I brought my Trailblades on our trip to Lithuania this summer with the intention of running.  Instead I ended up doing a lot of walking in them - they're super comfortable as walking shoes!

Brooks Trailblade

Right at the peak of heat and humidity, the timing of the arrival of my Brooks summer gear couldn't have been better!  Brooks makes quality, comfortable and stylish running gear with their True Blue Guarantee.  If you are not completely satisfied, return them within 30 days, no questions asked.  

For more info or to buy products, go to the Brooks website.  You can also find them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, or read the Brooks blog.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Brooks Running. I did not pay for the items, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend Recap - Kayaking and Oakbrook Half Marathon

Saturday morning the kiddos headed up to Michigan.  We spent the morning kayaking on the peaceful Galien River, had lunch and then headed to the beach.  As dark clouds covered Chicago and headed our way, we decided to pack up and head back to the cottage.  After a brief storm, we headed back outside to chat and play until it was time for bed.  
Kayaking on the Galien
Sunday morning Little A Bomb and I drove home - love that he naps in the car again (peaceful ride home:)) and spent the day relaxing with K...

Pre-race jitters
Monday morning we headed over for the Oakbrook 1/2 Marathon.  It was a beautiful cool morning, sunny and breezy.  Excited and a little nervous for my first half, we headed to the start.  As I was getting ready, I pulled out my iPod - frozen - ugh!!  Thankfully I met up with my best friend of 30+ years.  I hadn't run with her in ages (if ever?) and wasn't really sure if we were going to run the race together, but we did.  We chatted through the whole hilly course which was on a combination of wide streets and crushed gravel paths and bike trails through scenic Fullersburg Forest Preserve.  K and Little A Bomb cheered us on strategically throughout the race, offering Chomps and taking pictures/movies.  I can't say it was an easy race, but definitely an enjoyable experience!

Happy to be finished!

Wonderful weekend to end a great summer!

How did you spend your last weekend of summer?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

RecoFiT Armcooler Compression Sleeves

RecoFiT Armcoolers offer comfort and protection from the sun, no matter what your activity.

Mid-morning run with RecoFiT Armcoolers
K and I recently had the opportunity to try RecoFiT Armcooler Compression Sleeves (see his review here).  Although skeptical before trying them, I can honestly attest that these super cool, cooling sleeves really work!  

The sleeves are made with Icefil fabric which dissipates heat while blocking infrared radiation and UV radiation, cooling skin by up to 5 degrees Farenheit.  When you first put them on, you can feel a cooling sensation cover your arms.  For sunny mid-day runs, they do a great job of cooling, blocking harmful rays and providing light compression.  They're great for runners, triathletes, cyclists, golfers, tennis players, gardeners and anyone else outside under the hot sun.   

For more information, visit the RecoFiT website and follow RecoFiT on Facebook and Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of RecoFiT. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the product website, the opinions are my own.)
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