Vega Pre-Workout Review

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.39.39 PM

Today I’ll be reviewing the Vega Pre-Workout in the flavour lemon lime. Find it here or in store at most Whole Foods or GNC locations.

Also, although this review will focus on the pre-workout listed above, in order for you to get the most out of it, I will also be comparing it to the Vega Endurance Gel in the orange zest flavour (find it here). This way, you will see the benefits of this product, with the comparison of another product on the market, from the same company.

Taste

So, the taste is sort of up in the air for me. No, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever drank, and it’s not the worst. If you mix the right amount of water, and mix well (I use a protein bottle to shake it together and would recommend others do the same), then it is absolutely more than bearable, and I even find, after a while, I’ve come to like it. But yes, it will take some getting used to.

Now, all that being said, before I ever tried this pre-workout in lemon lime, I bought several samples of the Endurance Gel in orange zest, and let me tell you, it made the lemon lime pre workout taste like a tropical dream. The endurance gel, taken by itself without any mixing required, tastes, in my very personal opinion, absolutely horrible. I’m talking full on gag reflexes kicking in. The combination of orange and dates (the first ingredient) was just completely wrong. After this trial, it’s a miracle I ever tried another Vega product again. But I’m definitely glad I did.

Performance 

I’m fully aware that this performance part is likely the most important component of the review. Knowing that, I’m happy to report the noticeable difference this pre-workout makes. Not only will it help push you to go workout** (you take it 20 minutes before the workout), but while you’re there, it will likely push you to go harder than you would otherwise. I notice a significant difference when I do or don’t take this pre-workout, especially when I’m feeling extra-sluggish beforehand (we all have those days).

** Even though it does help push me go workout, I would never recommend it exclusively for this purpose, because if you don’t want to go to the gym before you take it, it’s no miracle. When I say it helps push me, it’s always after I’ve made the decision that I will be going. If you’re only hopeful of a workout, this will likely go wasted when it doesn’t push you to go to the gym and it ends up pointlessly sitting in your system.

When comparing it to the endurance gel, I’d say that both work especially well for what they are marketed to do. This, as a pre-workout, starts working immediately to give me energy and help push me to work out, where as with the endurance gel, I didn’t notice an immediate effect the same way. Though it did help push me through extra-long workouts.

Value

So, depending on where you buy this, I’ve found the tub can range from about $40 to $60.

I workout anywhere from 2 days a week on a bad week, to 5 days a week on a good week, and the first tub lasted me about three months (there are 30 servings per container). Keep in mind, however, that you don’t need to use this pre-workout every time you work out. If you are already full of energy, you’re probably right to skip it that day and wait for a day when you need the extra push.

The endurance gels are not sold in containers, and can only be purchased 12 at a time for just over $20. So, adding that up, both products are fairly similar in price.

Finally, the reason this pre-workout really sells itself for me is because of a very personal problem I have with eating before hitting the gym. If I eat anywhere within a 2-hour window of any type of cardio, I will almost immediately cramp up. This poses a lot of problems for me, because I also don’t like going to the gym hungry (if I do, I never feel like I get a proper workout in).  This pre-workout is literally the solution to my problem. It gives me the energy a small snack before the gym would, if I was able to eat it, and since it’s just a drink, I never feel cramping because of it.

Keeping all this in mind, I’d say the price is fairly reasonable, especially considering the fact that when you buy Vega, you are buying natural, wholesome ingredients.

I hope this helps, and in the end, yes I’d definitely recommend the Vega Pre-workout. I’d love to hear from you about your own experience with this pre-workout or others like it.

(Calories per 18 g scoop: 70 – Sugar per 18 g scoop: 12 g)


Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to freshen up your hot summer day, or the perfect add-on to your Fourth of July picnic, my new lemon poppyseed dressing is an easy and delicious solution.

 

IMG_5581

Approximately 60 Calories per 15 ml serving

Literally, it’s so simple, it’s practically impossible to screw up.

Ingredients:

- 1/4 olive oil
- 1/4 lemon juice
- 2 TBS agave nectar
- 2 TBS plain greek yogurt
- 1 TBS poppy seeds
- pinch of salt & pepper

Directions:

Toss all the ingredients into a blender (to avoid a clump of poppy seeds at the bottom of your container, make sure you add the wet ingredients first), blend until smooth and milky, and then you’re done!

To finish off your salad, try some fresh greens of your choice, walnut bits, a couple handfuls of sliced strawberries, and you are good to go.

 


Homemade Cookies and Cream Protein Bars

 

IMG_5354

So remember when I raved about Quest Cookie Dough Protein Bars here?

Well, little did I know at the time, but for the months to come I’d literally obsess over the idea of these protein bars. I itched to go to the US so I could order more of them, and while I waited, I was constantly looking for a replacement, either homemade or store bought, but to no avail.

Or so I thought.

Well, months later, I am happy to announce that I have created some beautifully delicious cookies and cream protein bars that are loaded with protein, and taste, in my opinion, absolutely delicious.

The only caveat is that you will need cookies and cream protein powder. Does this mean that my recipe is basically for normal protein bars with just a flavored protein? Well, yes. In truth, you could supplement this recipe for any flavor you want (though I’d definitely stay away from fruity flavors), but so far I’ve found that cookies and cream works the best. In the future, I’ll let you know if I find any new flavors that compare.

Where can you find cookies and cream protein? I purchased mine from Costco, which you can find here. Though you can also purchase it on Amazon here. If you don’t want the 5 pound size, Amazon also offers a 2 pound version, though the 5 pound is obviously the better deal, and since it is absolutely delicious, I’m sure you’ll get the use out of the larger size. In fact, I can almost guarantee that I’ll be coming up with more ways to incorporate this protein into your diet in the future, so maybe investing in the large size won’t be a bad thing.

What you will need:

- 4 scoops of cookies and cream protein powder (if you’re looking for a bar without quite so much protein, you can take out a few scoops, just make sure to adjust the almond milk, and perhaps the agave nectar [if it's not sweet enough with less protein powder]).
- 1 3/4 cup of ground whole-wheat oats.
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- 2 TBS of Agave Nectar (Add more if you want them sweeter)
- 2 TBS peanut butter (or almond butter)
- 1 TSP of vanilla extract
- 2 TBS chocolate chip chunks (optional)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/4 whole wheat cake flour
- wax paper

First, combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl: almond milk,  peanut (or almond) butter, agave nectar and vanilla extract.

IMG_5322

Before you can combine the dry ingredient, first you must blend the oats to turn them into an oat flour (if you already have oat flour, you can skip this step).

IMG_5279

Next, in a smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients: protein powder, oat flour, chocolate chip chunks*, and salt (do not add the cake flour, it will be needed later).

* You’ll notice my lack of chocolate chips in the photos to come. I didn’t use them in this batch, as they are optional.

IMG_5301

Once you have the two separate bowls, slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing vigorously (near the end, this will get very difficult. I recommend switching to a large fork to stir, as it’ll get too thick for a whisker). You can use your hands as well, though the mixture at this point if very sticky, and it’ll be hard to come off.

IMG_5326

Once it is fully combined, cover the bowl and freeze the mixture for about 30 minutes. When finished, sprinkle some of the cake flour on your wax paper (I suggest having flour on your hands when working with the dough as well), and place the dough against the wax paper. Next, add the rest of the 1/4 cup of cake flour and work to combine it into the dough (now you will need to use your hands). This should illuminate the stickiness, at least for the most part.

Once you’ve combined the flour, use a pinch more, sprinkled on top of the dough ball, and place another sheet of wax paper on top of it. First, with your hands, flatten out the dough (only touching the wax paper), then with a roller, work until smooth and flat. (Imagine where you’ll be cutting out the six bars in order to spread it in the right way).

Finally, place it in the fridge, with the wax paper, for about 30 minutes. At this time, cut your bars, and serve whenever you are ready. They are great after a workout, or as a meal replacement on the go (Hint: As I’m writing this, I’m eating one as a pre-workout breakfast).

These bars are 267 calories each. Although this is high, the protein within them (20 grams) should keep you full for quite some time, justifying the high number.

Good luck with your protein bars! If you don’t have cookies and cream protein powder, but have another type you’d like to try, play around with the ingredients. If you have vanilla protein, for example, I’d recommend adding cinnamon to make a cinnamon bun type flavor (I did this before these bars, and they turned out well too).


Pamper Yourself

What does pampering have to do with weight loss and health?

Well, let me just say that I believe it has everything to do with it.

Why?

I can only speak from personal experience, but I know that when I act in a way that makes me feel better about how I look, then I am more likely to continue acting in such a way that will continue to make me feel better about how I look. It’s similar to what I talked about here in terms of seeing the progress of losing weight on a scale.

It’s important to understand that change motivates change.

IMG_4807

Me with my lighter, more hydrated hair.

 

When you witness real, physical results, you will push yourself harder and go further then you possibly can if you’re stuck staring at the same reflection every day.

So why pamper? Why not just wait for results on the scale? Or from your waistline?

Well, it’s pretty simple. A colour change to your hair, or some new painted nails is a lot more instantaneous than a new pant size. Obviously, the pant size is the real goal, but seeing positive change, even non-weight related change, can help push your limits when it comes to losing weight and being healthier.

Especially, if like me, you’ve been in a slump for the past little while, whether it be a few days, weeks, or even months.

See, for the past several months I had been suffering through a health-related weight-loss plateau, and for what felt like forever, I couldn’t figure out the cause. No matter how hard I seemed to be trying, it felt like everyday I was slipping up, consuming too many calories, and the scale was never moving. Well, let’s just say it was never moving down.

So, a few weeks ago, I was fed-up with it all.

And instead of sitting around hoping to see a change that wasn’t coming, I decided to make a change in any way I could.

That, for me, meant new, lighter, moisturized hair, tanner skin (even though it was of the spray-tan variety), and peachy pink nails.

Maybe for you it’ll mean something different. Just think of a change within your control and do it. Maybe it’ll be the exact type of change you need.

If, however, your change does fall under a similar category as mine, such as dying your hair, I have a few tips to help you out.

Perhaps you don’t know me, and if you don’t, you likely don’t know the curly mess that sits atop my head on a daily basis. Like most curly-haired girls, I’m also blessed with immensely dry, frizzy hair, that well, let’s just say doesn’t take too kindly to hair dyes.

For years now, if I ever wanted to dye my hair, I’d always go darker because it seemed like the healthier option. The problem is, a) my hair is pretty darn dark to begin with, b) it still dries out my hair a lot more than I’d like, and c) I needed a change, and a hair colour I consistently had been returning to for years just didn’t seem like the right way to go.

Thus, I decided to lighten my hair. But, let me just say that I was prepared. Before I lightened it at all (because of the dark dyes I’ve used in the past, it took several lightenings to see a difference) I began looking up the best products to hydrate and revive my hair, both within my house already, and ones I’d need to buy at the store.

Lush, I found, has an incredible array of hair treatments to fit whatever type of hair disaster you are trying to fix, whether you’ve recently died your hair or not (also, if you’re looking for a natural hair dying method, you should try their henna hair dyes, because I’ve heard great things about them, and you’ll probably get to forgo the dry mess us using unnatural dyes get to suffer through… if only they could make a lightening henna).

I chose the Jasmine & Fluff Eaze treatment which worked beautifully. However, since I wanted to get as much use out of the product as possible, and since I was also wanting to add coconut oil to my hair (knowing from personal experience how hydrating it can be) I decided to combine the two products.

IMG_4834

Check out Lush in store or online to find the hair treatment best suited for your needs.

Let me say it worked beautifully, and I will definitely be buying the product again and using the same 50/50 combination of coconut oil and the lush treatment. For best result, I recommend heating the coconut oil first, mixing the two ingredients, adding them to your hair, and then wrapping plastic around your head (a grocery bag works great) to keep the moisture in and prevent the product from drying out on your head. The guy who helped me at Lush told me I could leave the product in for as long as I wanted, so I opted for several hours. This, in my opinion, seemed again like the best way to get the most out of the product. Once you’re done, just wash it out. Though, I’d recommend maybe a second shampooing just to make sure you get all the product out.

IMG_4836

Applying the Lush Jasmine & Henna Fluff Eaze Treatment/Coconut oil through my hair.


Feature Friday: Jonathon Walters

A year ago Jonathon Walters was told by doctors that he would never successfully lose weight without an operation. He was too large, it was argued. He, however, disagreed. This past year, he has proven them wrong and lost hundreds of pounds through the simple methods of diet and exercise. His story and his progress can help inspire us all and remind us that no journey is too long, and no weight is too high. If you want to change, you can.

10314728_624779790940041_2038671522595162547_n
What started your journey?

This weight loss journey was started shortly after I lost my father in May 2013. For months, health wise, I destroyed myself. I binge ate and threw any thought of health out the door. I gained probably 20 pounds in 2 months and, at that point, decided that this couldn’t happen, this is not the end for me. I have to be strong and get healthy. So July 19th 2013, I decided I was going to take my life back. I left a lifestyle of fast food and soda where I took in about 6,000 calories daily and changed into a diet of meat and veggies with limited carbs and 2,000 calories or less a day.

Before you started your journey, what food would you crave most often?

I remember eating brownies by the box and they were probably my weakness because I used to eat them with my mother as a kid. They were comfortable.

What junky food do you crave most now? How do you fight these cravings? And, what are the healthy foods you find you crave now?

I am currently past the cravings part, but at the beginning I really craved chips for some reason. I had to mentally fight myself to stay away from the food and never sacrifice what I wanted most for what I wanted at that moment. I recommend using that saying when you feel you may have a moment of weakness, it can really make a difference in how “important” those junk foods are.

Now, I’m actually to a point where I crave healthier foods like bananas, apples, peaches, and even get the craving for kale and ginger. The kale and ginger are probably induced by the juicing I do though (Editors note: Check out my experience with juicing here). They taste great juiced and are so nutritious.

How many times/days a week do you workout? What keeps you motived?

I have to stay VERY active as I have had huge goals to reach. I never take a day off. I alternate days so parts of my body get rest while the others are working.

At the start, it felt near impossible, but as I stuck with it and made it habit I couldn’t imagine a day of just sitting on the couch like I used to on days off. My main exercise is walking. I usually hit about 10 miles a day between walking/jogging/running. I use it as a time to clear my thoughts and mentally prepare my day. It’s very theraputic.

When exercising, do you split up your time equally between cardio and weights?

I have been very adamant on my focus of 50/50 cardio and weight training. I was so large when I started that losing weight at a fast pace would have resulted in massive amounts of loose skin. Balancing toning with the weights and cardio with running, I actually have very little loose skin.

Do you have a final goal in mind for your weight loss? Has it ever changed?

When people ask about a final goal, they assume there is a number or something. I expect I will start maintaining my weight at 240, which will be a total loss of 236 pounds, but I will keep doing what I am doing and my body will decide when its healthy, not the scale.

Finally, if you had one piece of advice for someone starting out, someone struggling within their journey, or trying to start again after messing up, what would you tell them?

My number one advice for anyone starting it out is, don’t look at the time it is going to take and back down from it. That time is going to pass whether you are working hard, or not working at all. In that time, mold the person you want to become and never tell yourself you can’t, always prove to yourself that you can.

Want to see more of Jonathon Walters? Visit his Facebook page here, or his youtube channel.

Feature Friday focuses on individuals throughout their own weight loss journey. These are meant to help inspire you, motivate you, and show you that who you are is not what matters, all of us are capable of success.

Breakfast: The most important meal of the day?

IMG_4473

 

The idea that breakfast is the meal in the day you absolutely cannot skip if you ever actually hope to lose any weight at all, has been one of the most common health fads as of the last few years.

Continue reading


Feature Friday: Part III

At the beginning of January we continued with Tamara’s weight loss journey. We looked at some of her struggles as well as her triumphs, and all the little moments in between. This week, we’re going to end Tamara’s story focusing on you, the readers. She’s here to give you guys advice based on her journey to help you and your future weight loss goals.

Tamara Taylor made the decision to be healthy, and throughout this past year, has completely changed her life around. She decided that this journey wasn’t going to be about trying to love herself more, instead it would be about showing her body the love she knew it deserved. 

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 4.09.07 PM

 

Continue reading


QUEST: Cookie Dough Protein Bar

Let me just start out by saying one thing: I NEVER buy protein bars. I haven’t even eaten a protein bar since I was about ten years old and asked for it because I knew my mom would never buy me an actual candy bar.

Throughout my healthy journey, I never even looked at protein bars. The majority of them are stocked full of calories and sugar and crap that I didn’t want to touch.

Though, I would like to note that I do consume vanilla whey protein after every gym workout, and I would recommend that everyone do so too.

Contrary to popular opinion, protein is not just for men trying to bulk up.

Protein after a workout helps rebuild the muscles that have been stretched and worn. This, as a result, make that morning after an intense workout so so much easier. If your muscles rebuild faster, you’ll reboot faster, and you’ll be ready for your next workout that much sooner.

Though, now let’s get to the point of this post.

Quest Protein Bars.

And, to be even more specific, Cookie Dough Quest Bars.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 10.15.35 PM

Begin open-mouth drooling now.

Continue reading


No Fail February

So January was complicated.

The month, for me, was a giant mixture of different high’s and low’s.

I’d go to the gym for a week, then miss a week. Eat healthy for several days, then binge on unhealthy foods.

I think January has always been sort of a cursed month for me, as I’m sure it is for lots of people.

It’s the month after December. The month after Christmas parties, candy canes, sugar cookies, gingerbread men. The month after relaxing with family, sleeping in till noon, skipping the workouts.

Then January rolls around. Suddenly everything’s about resolutions and kicking yourself back into shape.

But damn, it can be hard. Continue reading


Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

IMG_0133

Continue reading


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 546 other followers