This, dear Badasses, is Tallahassee, Florida during the summer. Around here, summer starts right around Memorial Day and effectively hangs around like a hot, wet sponge until Halloween. It stinks.
Summer officially began last week, but Tallahassee hit a record 105 degrees a good week or so before that. We also set some sort of "most consecutive days of 90 or hotter" record. Awesome. NOT.
Amid such wretched heat, I present you with my favorite fitness and health 'finds' - a few bright spots to make the summer of 2011 worth sweating through.
Hopefully, some of them will make you happy, too. Drum roll, please...
BADASS CEO'S FAVORITES of Summer 2011
1. Fooducate: This daily blog consistently is a rich treasure trove of no-nonsense information about food products and nutrition. Fooducate unveils the truth behind "it's so good for you" health claims and explains the skinny-- and not so skinny - on everything from mac n cheese to energy bars and frozen diet entrees. But the coolest thing is the Fooducate app for iPhones and Droids that allows you to scan an item in the grocery store and quickly get the Fooducate info on that item. I am still a Blackberry devotee, but am closer than ever to getting an iPhone - all because of Fooducate. For now, I am signed up for their daily blogs. So far every one has taught me something.
2. Bosu Trainer: Squats, pushups, pikes, cardio drills like leapfrogs and burpees - put enough Bosu Trainers together, and you get a heart-pumping, body-sculpting, Badass playground! The Bosu Trainer is a recurring 'player' in my classes and training sessions - and as much as it can make their muscles burn, clients and students also love it. And who can blame them? The Bosu makes workouts challenging AND fun.
3. Zobha and Lucy athletic wear: I have long been a devotee of Lululemon and Athleta, but ever since I tried the Zobha and Lucy lines, I am hooked. These two lines feature pants, shorts, tops, sports bras and jackets in bright colors, flattering fits, and durable and movement-friendly fabrics. All for prices comparable or less than Lululemon and Athleta. Forget baggy sweats. Fitness and fashion CAN go hand in hand. And when you look good, you feel good - all the more motivation to work harder when working out.
4. Ultimate Muscle Protein (Chocolate): This whey and caseine blend protein powder from Beverly International has the best taste and consistency, and its nutritional profile is strong (120 calories per scoop, less than 4 grams of fat, no sugar, 4 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein). It is delicious with oatmeal, in smoothies, and with Greek yogurt. My chocolate pudding "trick": Just mix a scoop or two with reduced amounts of water or unsweetened almond milk. Stir it until it is smooth and refrigerate. Within half an hour, you have thick, creamy chocolate pudding! And lots of muscle-building protein. Get it for less at allstarhealth.com.
5. Bolthouse Farms dressings: "Light" and Fat-Free salad dressings are a potential minefield of overly processed Franken-stuff and way too much sodium. Bolthouse Farms, bless them, offers a line of delicious, flavorful dressings with REAL ingredients like yogurt, apple juice, nonfat milk, egg yolk and vinegar. My favorite is the chunky blue cheese, which plays a starring role in my apple-blue cheese summer coleslaw. It is just 50 calories and less than 5 grams of fat for 2 tablespooons but tastes as rich and creamy as any blue cheese dressing out there.
6. Kashi Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon: In my world, cinnamon makes everything taste better - be it oatmeal, cookie batter or even smoothies. It's also great for regulating blood sugar. So I love Kashi's new cinnamon-dusted whole grain version of Cheerios, which are low in sugar, fat and have about 150 calories for a cup.
7. Mediterranean Snack Food Baked Lentil Chips: Rice cakes are cardboard disguised as food. Baked potato chips usually aren't much better. But the grease factor of regular potato chips makes them a less than ideal snack. Lucky for us, The Mediterranean Snack Food company's Baked Lentil Chips comes to the rescue for your next snack attack. These lentil chips, available in varieties like Cucumber Dill and Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper (and sold at most grocers and gourmet/organic places like Earth Fare and Fresh Market), are crispy, light and amazing on their own or dipped in hummus or guacamole. And you don't have to limit yourself to 5 chips to keep the calories low. A serving size is 22 chips, which is perfect for an afternoon snack, and just 110 calories and 3 grams of fat. The chips even offer 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber and are gluten-free. Buh-bye rice cakes. These are the bomb.
8. You Bars: I am a huge advocate of whole food. Real food. Unprocessed food. I don't like to eat things that feature of a laundry list of unrecognizable Franken-gredients. So I am in love with You Bars. This online site walks you through the making of your energy bars, protein cookies, trail mixes and shakes. You can literally choose every single ingredient that goes into your food, and then you get to name it. Do you want cashew or almond butter, or soy nut? Cherries or Goji berries? Oats or no oats? They're about $3 per bar, but I'm OK with paying more and knowing what I am eating. The website even calculates the nutritional profile as you build your bar. So cool.
Coming up: Simple But Strenuous - Pushups + Squats x many reps = Badass kickin'...