Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bestowed: Review and Giveaway

I love trying new things.  That's the whole point of this blog, isn't it?  Taking on dares, and passing them on to you!  

Recently, the folks at Bestowed offered me the chance to sample their products and share a review.  I skimmed the website, and some of the brand partners involved looked appealing, so I agreed, and here we are today:

Bestowed is a subscription service that offers customers a chance to sample, discover, learn, and purchase healthy nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle products.  These come in the form of a box, delivered once per month.  The five items in each box, carefully selected by Heather Bauer and her team, include nutrition bars, snacks, cereals, supplements, trials for online fitness tools, and more.  Consumers recieve a box, sample the products, and can decide if they're interested in continuing to consume or use the product.

I was looking forward to getting my first box.  It's not just about the items you get, but also the fun of wondering what will be inside and what you might discover!

Inside my box, I found a wide variety of items:

The first thing I noticed was the giant bag of KIND Healthy Grains Oats & Honey Clusters.  Although I don't eat grains very often anymore, I was a little excited to sample this.  It seems like a decent gluten-free option for an occasional crunchy treat mixed in with my yogurt.

A few of the other products, I couldn't even really count as treats.  I had gone into this knowing that I might not want a few products, and that's fine.  I have nutrition preferences that not all people share, so I can simply choose not to eat those products.  

So... I had little interest in... the E-Boost (I generally avoid energy-boosters, however natural the ingredients), Hemphearts, and Nektar Honey Crystals (I don't have any use for such sweetener packets).  Olives (or Oloves) are one of the few foods that I do not like, but the Gnu bars were difficult to turn down.  I used to live off of those in college; they were my favorite on-the-go snack.  Even though I no longer eat them (or other wheat-based bars), I recall the taste and texture well, and know that other recipients of this box may have discovered a new favorite snack bar.

The box also contained a $25 gift card to iTRAIN, a website that provides downloadable workout programs, music mixes, HD videos, and celebrity trainer voice-overs.  I work out at home quite often, definitely prove useful.  It's fitness anywhere, anytime, completely customizable to YOU.

Creepy photo of me and my card.
I'm evilly plotting my first iTRAIN programs.

So you see, it's not just sampling snacks; Bestowed boxes can include just about anything to help you try new wellness products and services.  I'm pumped to download these workouts.

Another cool differentiating feature is that Bestowed enables you to shop its featured products via the blog on the website, so if you either get a package and LOVE the sample, or just want to seek out a recommended product, you can buy yourself some more. 


Overall, I was glad I sampled Bestowed.  
It was fun going though the box and discovering old treats, but, I admit, slightly disappointing that I had no use for most of them.  
Still, I'm also looking forward to trying the iTRAIN website to see what those trainers and videos have to offer.  
Although my personal dietary preferences discourage me from buying subscription for myself, 
there may be plenty for YOU to discover!

Plus, who knows what next month will bring!


Interested in trying Bestowed for yourself?  

Sign up here and use the coupon code - 5OFFBESTOWED01 - to get $5 off your order! 

But wait!  Want to WIN a FREE BOX??

It's GIVEAWAY TIME!  To enter, just leave a comment below telling which of the items in this box (or on the Bestowed Brands page) you're most interested in trying (or getting MORE of) for yourself.

One Bonus Entry: Tweet about the giveaway including both this blog post URL (, @DareYouToBlog, and @bstowed. Please leave a second comment linking to the tweet.

Details: Contest open until June 7, 11:59pm.  One winner will be selected at random and announced by the following Monday. Winner must either comment by logging in with contact information (Email, blog, or Twitter) or claim prize after winner is announced.  Contest open to US residents only (sorry!). Good luck!

Dislaimer: I was provided with this box and its contents by Bestowed, free of charge, in exchange for a review post. I was not compensated in any way for this review, and the opinions expressed above are all my own. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Graduate! And update...

What a whirlwind 2013 has already been!  As June approaches (gasp!), I can't believe we're nearing the halfway mark.  I gave a teaser in January for all the exciting goals I had going for each month, and then completely failed to keep you updated on my progress.  Please accept my sincerest apologies.

I've been kind of busy, working full time and doing things like this, too:

I'm a Master!

Now that THAT's done with, it's finally time for an update!  
Here's a quick glimpse into what I've been up to:

Natural Skincare. 
Taking the paleo/primal lifestyle a step further: Skinfood. Ditching the toxins and replacing them with nature's own moisturizers, cleansers, etc.  This started with swapping my lotion for coconut oil, and has gone much further since then. I'll be sharing as I experiment over time.  If you're looking for some information on this, I recommend the Skintervention Guide. I first started on my own, taking bits and pieces of information from various sources, but now The Guide--Liz Wolfe's E-book has become my natural beauty bible.

I've been working hard to become strong.  With my busy schedule, my workouts have dropped in frequency, but I try to make them count.  I still do one favorite group strength training class when I can (maybe once every two weeks), but most of my workouts have taken place in my own home.  Remember that at-home workouts can be easy and effective!  Often this includes DVDs--either Jillian Michaels on Gaiam TV or A.M. Yoga--or piecemeal workouts using free apps like Daily Workout Apps.  I also slipped in treadmill walks and interval runs when possible.

I've taken great care to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.  I aim for eight, and sometimes hit it, but I try to never go below seven.  Below seven, and I feel it the next day.  I make sure to shut down at a reasonable hour, so I can relax and slip into a sleep-ready state when needed.

Other than that, I've kept on my usual path with nutrition, trying to keep my diet as REAL-foods-based as possible most of the time, letting up a bit when dining out.  I've focused on increasing the quality of my foods, even those without any grains or seed oils.  That is, I'm seeking out wild-caught fish instead of farmed, grass-fed beef instead of grain-fed, and even grass-fed dairy on occasion, alternating my yogurts.  It's a journey, and I'm still learning.  Just trying to get the best quality ingredients for my body!

What I'm BEGINNING to work on: 

Ask why and learn more.
Really, Congress?  Voting down an amendment to the farm bill that wouldn't even do anything severe, would only grant states permission to require labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?  It wouldn't require it, itself! The amendment would have merely given states permission to do something that most other countries in Europe and beyond already do!  If my food's DNA has been messed with in a lab, I want to know. Is it too much to ask to let states decide?  It would have been a (big) baby step in the right direction, but I guess our Senators don't want to mess with Iowa, the nation's largest producer of corn and soybean crops...

Sigh.  I care, and it affects us all, so I'd like to learn more about this.  Whether or not you're concerned about GMOs, why shouldn't they be labeled for those of us who have a preference one way or the other? Let us vote with our dollars! I've been loosely following, but want to stay more on top of things.  If you'd like to do the same (dare you to!), I highly recommend Marion Nestle's blog, Food Politics. I'll try to bring important stories like this one to you, here.

In the beginning of 2013, I set several goals for the year, one of which was to get back to running.  I worked so hard to master the mile and conquer the 5k, but since my last long run in September, I've shifted away from running and toward strength.  I've focused instead on full-body strength workouts, which usually are interval-based, definitely working my cardiovascular system, as well.  I've enjoyed this a lot, but I do want to maintain my 5k mastery. I want to be able to easily say, "Sure!" when a 5k opportunity arises.  I want to be able.

And really, I think I am. It's more mental than anything else, but I have for sure lost some running skills in my time away.  To be clear, my goal is NOT to run a marathon. I am perfectly content with my 5k, but I need to get back to a place where that is comfortable.  In order to do so, I decided to join in on the Runner's World Summer Run Streak 2013.  Running one mile a day, from now until July 4, will be just the consistency that I need to get accustomed to running again.

I also decided to up the ante by instituting my own "Three on Thursday" plan, where every Thursday, I run 3 miles, any way, any how.  If it means in the beginning, I do more intervals or take some walking breaks, that's fine.  The goal is, again, to return to my 5k comfort level.

Last Thursday, I started off strong!  It was terribly rainy, so I hopped on the treadmill and began.  It turned out to be a great workout to get back in the game, even if not a traditional 5k.  I ran the first mile and a half in intervals alternating 4 mph and between 6.5 and 9 mph.  Then, I turned the incline up to 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, and back down again for the next mile at 3.5 mph.  Finally, ran the remaining half mile around 6mph.  This workout had enough change to keep me from getting bored, and I remembered how much I love running to music, jacking up the speed during a great chorus.  I had considered stopping after 2.5 miles (and instead counting the half mile I had already walked during the day, out and about), but felt SO good completing the full three miles as part of the workout.

Great start to Three on Thursday! 

As always, you can keep up with my mileage and hold me accountable on DailyMile.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I started the Run Streak by doing a quick jog around the block, for just one mile. It felt AMAZING to be outside, in the sun, with cool wind... So much better than on the treadmill.  This summer, I hope to take my runs outside more often.  If you do, as well, don't forget to Heed the Heat!

I'm halfway through Obsessed and I'm, well, obsessed.  Love what Mika Brzezinski is doing, and commend her bravery and hard work in putting this book together.  Will be sharing more about it when I finish!  You can follow along with my summer reading on Goodreads.

On Insta

And that's a wrap!  Pretty solid update, I hope.  It's been lovely catching up, but in order to get my seven hours in, it's time for bed!

Oh, and a dare? Well, I think I've given several...

  • Dare you to join the Runner's World Run Streak!
  • Dare you to join ME for Three on Thursday!
  • Dare you to read Obsessed.
  • Dare you to seek out natural skincare!
  • Dare you to sleep, relax, and read :)

Which of these topics are you most interested in hearing more about?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Remember: Memorial Day

As we (here in America) celebrate the holiday weekend, the day off from work, the proximity of summer... Dare you to take a moment to remember what we're really celebrating.  Take a moment to remember the veterans who have fought for our freedom.  Take a moment to simply remember.

Happy Memorial Day!
Wishing you all a fun and safe holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Live With Fire

I first dared you to Live With Fire in March, when I tried out the Reebok DMX Sky running shoes, which were perfect for a casual runner like myself.

However, I've since learned that Reebok's "Live With Fire" message goes way beyond hot running shoes.

FitFluential and Reebok
Me & Alec of

I was invited to a women's media event for Reebok as a FitFluential Ambassador, where the Reebok team would introduce us to who Reebok is, what they've been about in the past, and what they're doing for the future.  I've gotten to know Reebok well this year, and the more I learn, the more I love.

First of all, walking into Location 5, where the event was held, attendees were shown what Reebok is about at every corner.

Quotes lined the entrance and hallways:

Even the bathroom signs represented the Reebok brand!

Love this.
After admiring the decor, we were treated to some breakfast, and later lunch.

Then we entered the main hall, where we could browse the apparel and accessories for the various categories of fitness for which Reebok designs their products.

It was all functional for the workout types, and very fashionable, street-friendly at the same time.  Lots of colors!

Training with the mannequins

I like!  The racks had even more items to browse, and, feeling the materials, I could tell these would be soft and comfortable for either lounging or sweating.

Finally, the day officially began with Matt O'Toole, Chief Marketing Officer for Reebok, introducing us to Reebok's mission and where they're headed.  Reebok has been a pioneer for years in empowering people--especially women--to seek out fitness and life experiences.  He discussed how fitness is about more than being in shape; it's about connecting with others, achieving new heights, and experiencing life.

One of the most notable aspects of his talk and the general conversation that day was that there was no talk about being fit, being strong, or looking good; those are simply biproducts of the main purpose of life: to live it.  Live with passion.  Live with fire.

"Life simply asks that you join it.  Live with fire."

Matt O'Toole also described "The Girl" that wears and defines Reebok: She works out at least 4 times/week. She does not always the same thing; her regimen is based on variety! Maybe she goes for a run one day, does crossfit another, and practices yoga the next.

No wonder I'm so drawn to Reebok!  This could easily describe me; I love a wide variety of workouts and sample many types of classes in addition to solo walks, runs, and at-home videos.  I don't stick to one and do it every day of my life.  I'll do maybe three a week, mixing up what I include based on my mood that day, my schedule, any fun classes being offered, etc.  I believe variety is the spice of life--and fitness--and Reebok seems to agree.

For that reason, Reebok teams up with fitness instructors and enthusiasts from all corners of the fitness world.

Reebok Ambassadors

On this day, the Brand Ambassadors would explain how they partnered with Reebok to help design apparel to meet the needs of the sport, and prove it in a workout.  Reebok Brand Ambassadors include  Amy Dixon, Tara Stiles, Vanessa Vassallo, Annie Sakamoto, Christmas Abbott, Alicia Keys, and more.

These fitness celebrities led us in a quick warm-up before the real workouts began.

Then, we separated into groups for more intimate introductions to each fitness category's foundational beliefs, apparel design, and workout sample.  Each ambassador would explain their category's apparel and lead a workout.

In line with "The Reebok Girl" mindset, the day had a ton of variety.  the conference's workouts included: Training (CrossFit), YogaDanceRunning, and Walking.  I could only attend the first day, so I participated in the first three workouts, but I hear the walks and runs on NYC's High Line were great, too!

I'll post recaps of each workout separately, but here's a video montage of the day!

You can see the variety, jam-packed into one day!  Reebok really does have something for everyone, whether you're a dedicated CrossFitter or runner, a casual yogi or dancer... Or, if you're like me, and enjoy doing a little bit of this and that -- Reebok has it ALL!  Reebok is dedicated to all aspects of fitness, of living life to the fullest and becoming your best self.

To help you get there, Reebok has all kinds of fitness apparel--clothing and footwear tailored to each type of workout. As shown in the video above, the clothes are vibrant and fun--things you might even wear outside of the gym!  I can vouch that those items we sampled for the day's workouts were incredible comfortable and wicked away sweat perfectly.  Keep an eye out for these hitting stores in July 2013.  I know I will!

Yoga or street casual! Rebel Yoga.

To also further the cause of effective training, Reebok's latest endeavor--Reebok ONE--sets out to "fuel the fire" by being the place for fitness professionals.  Reebok ONE provides them with education, discounts, resources, community, and connection, all of which helps them help you!  Reebok identifies the greatness in people and trainers that they respect, and help them do more.

Again, this goes for all categories of fitness. The goal is to stop tearing down one type or another that you don't believe is the "best," but rather to embrace the variety and realize that we can take different paths to the same place of fitness.

Reebok has also teamed up with Spotify so you can have personalized playlists created for your next workout, or even borrow playlists and songs from your favorite Reebok ambassadors!

The day concluded with dinner at Revel, where we got to talk about the workouts and clothing, and learn about the ways we are similar and different -- my new friends were from Germany, France, and Poland!  It was quite an international affair!

A beautiful way to end a fun, informative day.  

I'll be discussing each of their fitness categories and apparel sectors in blog posts to come, explaining more in depth how each workout with the brand ambassadors went!  Hint: They were awesome.

Til then, I dare you to embrace Reebok's message: 

Join life.  Live with fire!

How do YOU live with fire?  
Which apparel above will you look for this summer?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Prices on linked websites will not change but I may earn credit for any purchases following links from this blog. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fill up on Protein

Have you ever made yourself or ordered a giant salad, jam-packed with more vegetables than you can count?   (No? Just me, then? ;) )

Were you satisfied after?  Or were you soon looking around for something else to eat?  The fiber and water in these types of meals often fill me up immediately, but then leave me hungry and grazing just two or three hours later.  Have you experienced this, too?

This is why I started seeking out protein at every meal.  Protein tells your brain you are full, and keeps you full.  Protein also tells your body to make and retain muscle and other lean tissue, because it's made up of the amino acids your body needs to repair itself.  This is why protein consumption is often recommended for after a workout.

Other benefits?  Higher protein consumption is also linked with lower risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Of course, you can increase your protein intake by eating animal sources like fish, meat, and eggs.  Vegetarian or vegan?  Try these meat-free protein sources.   Looking beyond beans and tofu, did you know that you can get protein from vegetables, too?  Whether you're eating meat, fish, dairy, beans, nuts, or fruit, Mark's Daily Apple has a great list of dietary sources of protein and grams per serving.  Check that out for help choosing foods to fill your plate.

Today, I'm with Jonathan Bailor of the Smarter Science of Slim, when he dares you to trade carbs for protein.  Not entirely, of course, but for the most part, the Standard American Diet promotes way too many starchy carbohydrates, whereas those calories really could be going toward body-building, satiating protein.

Since I started making sure I got a significant amount of protein at every meal (aiming for 20-30 grams--an increase at the time for me), I've found that my meals satisfy for longer.  I remain satisfied, even two, three, or four hours later.  I can make it til the next mealtime without going hungry and searching for snacks.  For a while now, I've successfully increased my daily protein intake to near 90 grams/day, and still trying to climb higher. It's been an adjustment, especially after two years of pescetarianism, but I'm getting there!

Want to reap the benefits of increasing your protein intake?  I dare you to!  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Discover! Outdoor Adventures

I've dared you to go outside.  I've dared you to walk.  I've dared you to run.

Today, I combine all three.

Blue Skies

As the weather gets warmer, I've now spent infinitely more time outdoors, taking advantage of every sunny, rain-free day to walk.  Cars? Subways? Buses?  No thank you!  Save your money and move those legs!  Whether you're simply trying to get from Point A to Point B, or you have a mere five, ten, or thirty minutes to spare, I dare you to walk or jog.

Make it an adventure.  Explore!  Do not map out your route.  Ditch your Garmin.  Just go where your legs, the street lights, your gut takes you.  Not only will you benefit from the fresh air and sunlight, but you may also even discover something new!  How much do you really explore your area?  When you're driving around, do you get to appreciate the nature surrounding your home?  Might there be hidden gems you've yet to uncover?

Spring is here

During the beautiful weather of the past couple weekends, I made my way outdoors for some casual jog-walk-running action.  I didn't wear my Garmin and didn't track my mileage.  I just started running, walked when I felt like it, then ran some more.  Along the way, I discovered some cute little mini-parks that exist near my home!  Previously, I'd thought the nearest park was a good 15-20 minutes' walk away, but now I know of a few places where, if I want, I could bring a book and do some reading outdoors.  I could also just sit and listen to music, feel the sun, enjoy the breeze, get some work done,  or relax. Whatever it is, I found some nice, quiet park benches for it; I've got nearby options for the summer.

What might you discover if you set out on your own?  Dare you to find out!  

Don't plan, just go.  Let me know what you stumble upon! :)