02-23-2016

My Mom Is My Amy Cragg

Those of you who watched the US Olympic Marathon Trials will “get” this post, and if you didn’t watch it/aren’t familiar with professional marathon running, the basics are this: Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg are training partners, teammates, and really helped each other during a tough race.

As I was watching the race unfold, I watched Shalane and Amy run together basically the entire race.

Source

In the last few miles, it was very apparent that Shalane was struggling, and Amy stayed with her, talking to her and clearly trying to give her a pep talk. It was definitely reminiscent of my tough times during my first NYC Marathon in 2011 and Chicaggo Marathon (where it was super hot).

In the last mile or so, Amy left Shalane because she saw the third place (at the time) runner closing in. She waited for Shalane at the finish line, and ended up catching her and she fell in total exhaustion. Here’s a pic:

Source

After the race, Shalane credited Amy for getting her through and to the finish line. Sometimes I really can’t believe the  mental strength these pros have. To continue running through dehydration and getting dizzy…that takes guts.

Anyway, as I was watching all of this, I couldn’t help but be grateful that my mom trains with me and runs most every step with me as well. She is my Amy Cragg. In races, when I’m bonking, she will give me pep talks and tell me to keep going and be strong.

Chicago Marathon was my worst race thus far. Yet, my mom stayed with my throughout, even though she felt fine, and helped me mentally get through it. It also pushed me harder because I didn’t want to slow her down too much. I know if I was alone, I would have probably just walked the last few miles and totally given up.

People have asked me (and her), “Why doesn’t she just go ahead and run her own race?” Trust me, I’ve told her to do that too. I always feel bad when I hold her back, but she doesn’t care. She says she wants to run with me and cross the finish with me, and that it wouldn’t feel the same to her if she crossed alone. Well, this is true for half marathons and marathons…shorter races = every (wo)man for herself :-P

I have even told her to go for a BQ time (she needs 4:00) but she said she would not want to run the Boston Marathon unless we both were there together.

I really am so grateful to have my mom running with me, and it makes for amazing experiences and memories.

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Our first half marathon!

So I am now feeling more motivated than ever to make the 2016 NYC Marathon a great one. I want to feel strong and PR. It’s in November, which feels forever away, but I’m sure time will fly and we will be in the midst of marathon training before we know it.

Runners: do you have any tips on things to do NOW before marathon training starts in July? We are currently about to start a 5K training plan to try to get faster.

Do you have a running/training partner? How do they help and push you?

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02-01-2016

3 Reasons Exercise Programs Fail & How To Overcome Them

It’s February 1st! A new month…a clean slate…

Did you know that a third of those who make New Year’s Resolutions don’t even make it to the end of January? We need to stay strong and committed as a new month rolls in!

Many people make resolutions to be healthier, work out more, etc. So why do they fall off within a month or two? That’s what I wanted to talk about today AND invite you to participate in a FREE 5 day fitness challenge that starts next week, so we can hold each other accountable and motivate each other. I’ll talk about that more in a bit.

Here are 3 reasons why exercise programs fail, and how to overcome them. + a FREE 5 day fitness challenge to re-ignite your goals and motivation! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Getting to the gym is a hassle

For many people, in the beginning they’re going to the gym every day, and then it starts to taper off. Why? Because getting to the gym might be a hassle. If you’re going after work, you might have to sit in traffic to get there. If you’re going in the morning, you might opt out because you don’t want to lug your work clothes, towel, shampoo, etc. for the post-workout shower. These small annoyances might start leading to, “I’ll just go tomorrow.” Here are a few ways to get back on track:

  • On days you get out of work late, or you wake up not wanting to drive to the gym, do an at-home workout video. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, it is better than nothing, and you’ll feel great. I love Fitness Blender on YouTube for home workouts.
  • Sign up for fitness classes. I’ve been staying consistent with my morning cycling classes because if I cancel I have to pay $20. When you have a commitment, you’re more apt to go. A second idea is to schedule a workout time with a friend…you can’t bail on your friends!
  • Create your own dumbbell workout routine that you can do at home. I wrote more about creating a full-body routine here.

Gym equipment is confusing

Alright so maybe you get to the gym, but then what? There are so many pieces of equipment, how do you know which to use OR if you’re even using them properly? This overload can cause some to feel intimidated and stop going to the gym all-together. Check out the link above on how to create your own routine. You can also use sites like bodybuilding.com that have a ton of workout plans and show how to do each exercise. My advice is to just stick to dumbbells or kettlebells. You can get a great workout with just those pieces of equipment, and oftentimes a BETTER workout than using a machine.

No accountability

If you’re trying to go at this alone, it will get tough at times. Even though I train with my mom, there are days I dread going to the gym or running. And that is even with a workout partner, so I can’t imagine if I didn’t have her! You need people to hold you accountable. Find someone to go to the gym with or run with a few times a week. Tell yourself you can only do X if you go to the gym that day (watch Netflix, get a manicure…whatever you think will work for you!). It doesn’t necessarily have to be a workout buddy either. Tell people about your goals and ask them to check in with you. When you know that people know what you’re working towards, you’re more apt to actually achieve those goals. Which is why my 5 day fitness challenge is perfect for you if you want accountability…we will all be checking in with each other and supporting each other!

So what will this 5 Day Fitness Challenge entail?

  • Daily 15 min. workout videos by me, sent to you for 5 days so you can work out right at home (and you only need dumbbells)!
  • PDF printables of the workouts in case you want to do it at the gym.
  • Instagram hashtag so you can connect with other challenge members and support each other.

AND

  • PRIZES! One lucky winner will win a PlantFusion prize pack with 1 full-size PlantFusion product of their choice (Thanks PlantFusion!). PlantFusion is a plant-based protein powder (which I love) that is perfect for smoothies and post-workout recovery shakes.

So here are the quick details:

WHEN: Feb. 8 – Feb 14

HOW DO I SIGN UP: Click below and enter your email to sign up. I will send you all the details before Feb. 8 so you’re ready to hit the ground running!



 
Leave a comment below and let me know if you signed up! :)
 
 
What do you think is a reason many people “fall off the resolution wagon” come Feb. or March?
What steps do you take to make sure you stay strong and committed?

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12-03-2015

Something That Scares Me

I’ve had this fear for a while now but something I read today reminded me of it, and I wanted to share to see if any others share this fear.

So I was scrolling through Twitter and found this article called “8 Health Swaps That Aren’t Really Better For You.” I clicked it and found the usual stuff (egg whites vs. eggs, low fat vs. full fat, etc.). Then I read the last one:

Hardcore runners—those who pound pavement at a moderate or fast pace for more than four hours a week—die at rates on par with people who don’t exercise at all, the same study reports. Too much strenuous physical activity (and pretty much all running is strenuous) can cause unhealthy changes to your heart, the study authors say.

I’ve seen this in various places before and bloggers and runners have discussed it. I won’t be stopping my training for half marathons and marathons anytime soon, but what I AM nervous about is this whole heart health thing.

We’ve all read numerous accounts of people having heart attacks or just dropping dead during races. People who were seemingly healthy. THAT is what scares me. Because how do I know if my heart is truly healthy? How does anyone know unless you go get your heart tested?

SIDE NOTE: My brother had to get a cardiology stress test done and I was there to observe – that test is hardcore! You’re running on 12% incline until your heart reaches a certain BPM. And you have to hold onto the treadmill, you can’t run normally. Yikes.

Anyway, I just find it odd that this type of testing is not somethind done at physicals ESPECIALLY for student athletes. I know the cost-aspect of it, but all in all, it just makes me nervous.

Then you read these studies claiming running causes unhealthy changes to your heart…so how will I ever know? 

So that’s that. Just something I wanted to share with you all and get your opinions on. 

What do you think of these study claims?

Do you have any fears relating to exercise or running?

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09-28-2015

When I Feel Most Confident

No weekly training recap from last week because I can sum it up real quick: 2 easy runs and a long 13 miler haha. I decided to give my shins a few days of extra rest because I felt like if I was going to do it, now is a good time as I gear up for the taper, right?

 

A photo posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

We ran 12 outside, then finished with 1 mile on the treadmill because it got dark. Like I said on Instagram…check out that elevation! It will be interested to run a flat race, since most of our training runs include hills, and any races we have ran in this area have all been hilly. The idea of a totally flat race (until the end) kinda makes me nervous!

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about a sort of revelation I had while I was on that 13 mile long run. I’ve written in the past about not feeling happy with my body, or wanting to lose weight…and I’m still in that mindset most days. I know I could lose 10-15 lbs, but also know during marathon training that is just not feasible.

When I look in the mirror I’m not 100% happy with what I see. In every day clothing, I am pulling at my shirt or wearing bigger shirts to hide my belly.

However, I realized the moment I put on my workout clothes, I feel confident. When I’m wearing my spandex shorts, I like the way my legs look in the mirror. I am reminded that these legs are strong and have carried me hundreds of miles.

I feel the most confident when my hair is up in a ponytail or brand and I am out there running. Despite my sweat dripping down my face and neck (remember I sweat A LOT?), my makeup-less face, etc. I feel strong and healthy. I love hearing my breathing and my steps on the pavement. I love making my body work hard…which is why I love track workouts so much.

I don’t know why I started thinking about this while running, but it just clicked. I may not be happy with how I look, BUT I am happy with my body’s abilities, and happy that I can run every day if I wanted to. Or lift, or whatever. I am the most happy and confident while running or at the gym. 

My goals for when this marathon is over is to continue running, but also start lifting again. I do want to try to lose some weight, so that it CAN help my running (racing weight or whatever haha), but I am slowly getting to a place where as long as I’m healthy and able to run, that is my number 1 priority. Yes, sometimes it sucks not being able to wear clothes I want to wear because I feel self conscious, but it’s not longer bumming me out like it used to.

Long, random post – so thanks for reading! I want to get your thoughts as well.

When do you feel the most confident in yourself?

How has running (or exercising in general) changed your perceptions/life?

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05-11-2015

Madison Holleran’s Story

The past few days, this piece by ESPN titled Split Image has been going around the internet and being shared throughout social media. I read it on Friday while I was driving to Philadelphia. It took me a good 10-15 minutes to read, but it touched me and left me feeling…I’m not sure how to describe it.

The article captures Madison Holleran’s story. I had heard of her when everything initially happened. She was a star athlete at UPenn, who one day decided to jump off the 9th floor of a parking garage in Philadelphia. At the time, I couldn’t understand how that could happen. How someone who seemingly “had it all” could end their life. But after reading this piece, it makes more sense to me.

I can’t stop thinking about about Madison’s story. It is so tragic, and yet it happens every day. Apparently, suicide is the leading cause of death in young adults, aged 10-24. What really resonated with me is the fact that someone can look so happy on the surface, but be feeling something completely different inside. 

The article also discusses what role social media might have played. Madison felt like her friends were leading the perfect lives, when in reality they were struggling too, which they shared in this follow-up ESPN article, Life Unfiltered.

Is there an answer here? Probably not. People are more prone to share their highlights on social media, not the bad moments. And I’ve found that when someone does share the negatives, others are annoyed by it. I know someone who has posted status updates about feeling depressed or down with life, and then I hear from others, “Why would they post that, Facebook isn’t the place to air your dirty laundry.” So it’s somewhat of a catch-22. We can’t post the negatives, but in only posting the positives we are filtering our lives. The only social media platform I have found to be a place to discuss life in general has been Tumblr. What do you all think?

I can’t explain why I can’t stop thinking about this story. It makes me appreciate life, friends and family more. But it also opened my eyes. Everyone has a story, and someone might be fighting an internal battle you know nothing about. As someone who studied higher education and student affairs (my Master’s degree), it saddens me to think of that high suicide rate, and of the students who are struggling on college campuses.

If you’re a college student and are feeling this way, please go talk to an advisor, therapist or anyone you trust. I work on a college campus, and as a student affairs professional, I can say that we are always here to talk and listen. My boss, the Athletic Director, always makes time for her student-athletes when they come in and want to talk. Don’t be embarassed or anything like that. If you want to stay anonymous and are in a crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a counselor. 

Perhaps that is why I can’t stop thinking about this. I work with students every day, I see them walking around campus, I coach them on my cross-country team…you just never know what is going on. 

I’m not really sure where I was going with this post, but I wanted to write something all weekend and get my thoughts out. If anything, I hope this ESPN article brings to light statistics regarding suicide and suicide prevention. Madison’s parents started The Madison Holleran Foundation. This is their mission statement:

The primary mission of the Madison Holleran Foundation is to prevent suicides and to assist those in a crisis situation with phone numbers and resources that will assist them during their time in crisis. We will also focus our efforts on preparing high school seniors and college freshmen, since this can be a very difficult transition period, as it was for Madison and many college freshmen.

Will increased discussion about mental health help make it less stigmatized? I guess only time will tell. But I do think things are heading in the right direction. 

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04-29-2015

7 Costco Shopping Secrets I Didn’t Know About

A few months ago I finally got a Costco membership and it’s been awesome. The day I signed up my sister was with me and I was so excited I was like “let’s post a picture of my card!” She was like “Why…” Clearly I was the only excited one.

Since then, I have my regular items that I always pick up at Costco, like their kale salad mix, eggs, apple slices, contact solution, and other household items. But there is still a lot more to Costco that I did not know about! I’m going to list a few and maybe this will help out my fellow Costco shoppers ;) Oh and if you want more information, I also linked to the appropriate Costco pages.

Costco Shopping Tips & Secrets

Costco refills ink cartridges. What?? Not that I use a printer a lot but printer ink can be pricey. This is a great deal.

Costco sells cheaper movie ticketsA 4-pack is $33.99, which comes out to about $8.50 per ticket. At the movie theater, tickets can range from $9 to over $11 depending on the movie and theater. How come I can’t find any $5 matinee specials anymore??

A asterisk means the item won’t be restocked. I encountered this when buying St. Tropez bronzing gel (which works really well by the way). Here’s more info on pricing/price codes at Costco.

Costco offers discounted vacation packages & car rentalsLiterally just found out about this website as I was writing this post, so I’ll be looking up deals for me and Dan’s Myrtle Beach trip this summer ;)

Coscto has a great refund policyThey have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their membership and will refund you your membership fee no questions ask. Also, they have a great return policy on items you buy. My mom bought a huge back of Starbucks coffee but hated the tasted. She was able to exchange it no problem, despite that the bag was already opened. I’m all about good customer services.

Buy Kirkland. In researching for writing this, multiple sources claim that Kirkland is the best brand to buy from Costco. The products are sometimes higher quality than other name brands! Here’s a list of Kirkland brands items to opt for as opposed to other brands (and in turn saves you money). Some items include over-the-counter drugs, laundry detergent, olive oil and tuna. Oh an alcohol. Supposedly, Jim Beam makes the Kirkland whiskey and Grey Goose makes the Kirkland vodka…hmm…

Costco has a price match guaranteeIf you bought an item and then next week it is on sale, Costco will credit you the difference as long as it is within 30 days of purchase. 

I’m sure there is a lot I’m missing, but please share in the comments if you know of any other little hidden perks! As I was writing this, I saw Laura of Mommy Run Fast posted about what she buys in bulk at Costco. I’ll definitely have to check some of these items out. 

I have found that many items are cheaper than buying at a normal grocery store (like salad bags and the apple slices I get), though I have also read that household items like toilet paper and paper towels are either the same price or more expensive than buying at somewhere like Target. I always have my calculator handy to calculate the unit price and see if I actually am saving money.

Do you have a Costco membership? What are your favorite items to buy? Please share any tips or secrets as well!

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04-01-2015

“My Knees Hurt When I Squat”

“My knees hurt when I squat.” This is a common complaint, and one I have heard many times as a personal trainer. Because their knees hurt, people end up not doing squats at all, when in fact, squats can help you get stronger and actually decrease knee pain!

Today we are going to talk about why your knees hurt when you squat, and what you can do to fix it. 

How To Squat Without Knee Pain

Okay, if you’ve had a knee injury in the past, then yeah, that might be contributing to your knee pain (and you should see your PT or doctor to discuss whether you should or should not do certain exercises). However, most people have muscle imbalances and weaknesses that are causing this knee pain.

One of the main culprits is not engaging the core (or simply not having core strength) during the squatting motion. As you squat, you should be hinging at the hips and moving backwards as if sitting into a chair. If you don’t, your torso will lean forward, and your knees will be at an awkward angle, causing most of the load to be on your quads…which leads to the knee pain.

Here’s great info from trainer Kevin Yates:

When you lack proper core and hip strength muscle imbalances often result in the quadriceps and lower back over working. This is one of the main reasons for knee pain during squatting.

Movements like squatting and lunging are not bad for your knees and they don’t cause injuries.

Muscle imbalances are the real problem.

One of my favorite trainers, Tony Gentilcore, has a great post about fixing your squat and avoiding knee pain. His tip, box squats, was something I practiced regularly with my clients.

Basically, you set up a box or bench behind you in the squat rack. Your goal is to squat back and touch the box with your butt before coming back up (do not actually sit on the box and then come up, you are just tapping the box).

Tapping a box or bench helps you with that movement of sitting backwards. Your weight should be on your heels and not your toes during a squat. I’ve talked about squat tips in the past, and how you can improve your form. I’ve mentioned putting a plate under your heels. Why? Because if you have a muscle imbalance or tightness, your heels might be coming up during the squat movement. Elevating your heels a bit helps you get deeper and keep the weight in your heels.

From Tony Gentilcore:

If squatting hurts your knees—and you’re not suffering from an injury—it’s because you’re making your knees do more of the work than the hips. Learning how to utilize the hips during a squat is important if you want to make them more joint-friendly. Box squats can do that.

Squats and lunges are not bad for your knees! That’s a myth similar to that of running being bad for your knees and cracking your knuckles leading to arthritis. Squats and lunges, if anything, help improve your knee health. Start working on your core strength to take the pressure off your quads and knees.

One more thing before I move on to talking about your quads…if you’re having trouble sitting back into your squat, try doing front squats and goblet squats. Since the weight is in front of your body as opposed to on your back, it will make it a bit easier for you to sit back into the squat. I talked about that in this post about squatting tips.

Moving on…another thing that might be causing your knee pain is quad weakness. If your knees hurt during walking lunges or after running, this might be why. In order to fix this, you just need to work your quad muscles a bit. Focus on exercises like the split squat, and progress to a reverse lunge. Avoid doing any forward movements like (duh) forward lunges or walking lunges…just until you build up your strength.

Here’s one of my first YouTube videos showing the split squat.

Similar with the squat, you should be going straight down NOT forward. If you are moving forward as you’re performing this you will probably feel that knee pain. Cues to repeat to yourself are: chest up, shoulders back. Your front heel should stay planted on the floor – if you come up on your toes, step your back leg further back/away from your front leg. 

My dad had knee pain during running and leg exercises, but once he started doing more split squats, his knee pain disappeared. He now runs 3 miles most days! Progression ideas for this exercise (once you master the split squat) would be: reverse lunge, front foot elevated split squat, rear foot elevated split squat, step-ups, and walking lunges.

***Remember though, please talk to your PT or doctor if knee pain is something you have regularly dealt with. Of course there could be some underlying issue that is not as simple as a muscle imbalance or lack of strength.***

Do you squat regularly? Have you ever felt knee pain?

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03-26-2015

Help Me Sleep!

I have had the worst sleep lately. All week it has taken me an hour to fall asleep, and then I end up waking up every hour feeling wide awake and struggle to go back to sleep. It is so frustrating.

I know there are things I could be doing, like logging off from the computer earlier in the night, so I’m looking for other tips beyond this. 

Basically, I just toss and turn every night. Even beyond just this past week, every single night I wake up to go to the bathroom at least 1-2 times. The only nights I don’t are when I had a hard workout or something and am exhausted.

This issue seriously sucks, and from what I’ve found online it’s called “nocturia,” which is described as this by the Cleveland Clinic:

Nocturia is a condition in which you wake up during the night because you have to urinate. 

Normally, you should be able to sleep six to eight hours during the night without having to get up to go to the bathroom. People who have nocturia wake up more than once a night to urinate. This can cause disruptions in a normal sleep cycle.

I’ve told my doctor about it, and they tested me for diabetes and what not (don’t have it), and told me to just not drink too much water/fluids before bed. I do that. The last I drink is usually during dinner and maybe I’ll have a gulp of water right before bed.

My sleep is so interrupted because of this, and as a result I feel tired most days. And this past week…forget it…on Monday I took an almost 2 hour nap because I was so tired from not being able to fall asleep the night before.

Ecard

Do people sleep through the whole night and wake up feeling awake and refreshed? Because I honestly can’t imagine what that feels like. This is also what contributes to my “not a morning person” thing…I can’t wake up to exercise when I feel like a zombie and haven’t gotten restful sleep.

This post is pretty much just venting about lack of sleep, but I do want to hear your tips. How do you help yourself fall asleep at night? Here’s my usual bed time routine:

  • Read stuff on my laptop while I watch some Netflix. This is my way of relaxing after a long day.
  • Brush my teeth, take my contacts out, etc. etc.
  • Lay in bed, scroll through Instagram before setting my alarm and turning off the light.
  • Lay there for 15 minutes…still awake…get up to pee again so I can empty my bladder before falling asleep in hopes of not waking up in the middle of the night (doesn’t work).
  • If I don’t fall asleep within 15-30 minutes, repeat above step.
  • Eventually fall asleep, and wake up at 2-3 am to pee.

I know one thing I can probably improve is scrolling through Instagram before bed. I should probably just read a book or something. But I really just want something mindless; sometimes books get my mind going and I can’t stop thinking about the book or plotline as I try to fall asleep lol.

I bought peppermint tea the other day to have after dinner as another way to relax. Maybe I’ll buy a lavendar candle or something to light before bed? Has anyone tried melatonin?

I am open to any and all suggestions!

What is your bedtime routine? Do you use anything to help you fall asleep?

Anyone else have to deal with “nocturia?”

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03-23-2015

Questions About Training For a PR

Happy Monday everyone! We’re not even going to go into my training last week because I was home sick most of the week therefore only ran twice. One easy run and one speed workout on the treadmill…which is actually what is prompting this post today…

I want to hit some PRs this year. I’m probably running a spring half end of April or in May, but I know this probably won’t be a PR, and I’m okay with that. My main goal is a fall half marathon and marathon PR.

I’ve been reading Run Less, Run Faster because so many of you recommended it to me in previous posts. It’s definitely intriguing. While I don’t think I will only be running 3 days a week (I do want to experiment with higher mileage and see what happens), I do want to do the workouts. 

Run Less, Run Faster

I was looking at the 4:10 marathon plan since my goal is a 2:05 half marathon. The track workouts are definitely speedy for me, but I’m willing to put in the work. Which is what leads me to these questions:

  • Should you be running faster than usual to get faster? For example, some plans, like Jack Daniels or others, use training paces in relation to your most recent 5K or other race. Meaning, my track workout paces would definitely not be what’s in plan in Run Less, Run Faster. BUT, I want to train to get faster…does that make sense?
  • Some people say too much intensity leads to injury…but then we have people doing crazy fast sprints/hill sprints on treadmills as a HIIT workout…people who might not run on a regular basis at all…(random point I know…I’m just thinking outloud here).
  • Lastly, even though intensity could lead to injury, many plans also say “if you want to run a half or full at a certain pace, you need to train at that pace,” so then…why would I be going based on my most recent 5K time, and run workouts at a pace that I’m already running?

Like I said, I’m mainly just thinking outloud and would love to hear feedback from you. Especially if you’ve used the Run Less, Run Faster plan.

Today I’m supposed to be doing 800 repeats at 7:47 pace I think. That’s fast for me, and I did it last week but could only finish 2.5 repeats (I was also sick)…so we’ll see how it goes!

Have you used the Run Less, Run Faster plan to set a PR? Did you find the workouts really challenging? Or do I need to “step down” a plan?

What do you think of my questions regarding training intensities?

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03-18-2015

The Plight Of The Honey Bee + Nektar Honey Crystals Review

Disclaimer: Nektar Naturals provided me with product. All opinions are my own.

Did you know the honey bee population in the US is declining? I didn’t know until I started working with Nektar Naturals, who makes Nektar Honey Crystals. I’ll give you more info on that in a minute.

The plight of the honey bee...do you know how it affects you?

According to the US Department of Agriculture:

The honey bee population in the United States has been declining for decades. The number of managed U.S. honey bee colonies dropped from 6 million in 1947, to just 2.5 million today.

Last summer, the USDA provided $8 million as “incentives for Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin farmers and ranchers who establish new habitats for declining honey bee populations.”

So why should we care?

When you think of honey bees, you might only be thinking of them pollinating flowers, etc. But bees are responsible for a lot of the crops we might be eating on a daily basis. The USDA Agricultural Research Service states:

Commercial production of many specialty crops like almonds and other tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables depend on pollination by honey bees.

I really never even thought of those things in relation to bees. In California, approximately 60 percent of all manage honey bee colonies (1.4 million colonies) are used for the almond industry.

Colony losses can be linked to pathogens, colony collapse disorder (where beekeepers just find dead colonies with no bees), weather (like unusually hot or cold), and more. The USDA is still researching factors and what might be causing this vast decline.

A tip they give to the public is to not use pesticides during the day, when bees might be out looking for nectar or pollinating plants. 

Again, I had never even thought of any of this! So what does this have to do with Nektar Honey Crystals?

Well, I first heard of the plight of the honey bee through working with them. On their website they talk about using eco-friendly materials for all phases of production whenever possible. The company states they support the efforts of the research being done in this field to stop this decline.

So what are Nektar Honey Crystals?

They’re exactly that. Honey crystals! Jeremy Edelman, founder, was tired of the sticky mess of honey bottles and jars. As a tea drinker myself (and someone who eats oatmeal on the go regularly), I can relate. I don’t take my honey bottle with me because it’s just a mess. 

Anyway, that’s how the honey crystals were born! 

Nektar Naturals
The honey crystals are all natural granulated honey. 1 packet is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of honey. They are naturally gluten-free, GMO free, Made in the USA (!), and Kosher.

I’ve tried it in my oatmeal and teas, and have spread the word to my best friend and my family…who also love it. Here’s an oatmeal shot from my friend:

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.49.50 AM
You can use them for a lot of things, such as baking (protein pancakes anyone?)

pancakes
Or a myriad of other recipes. Here are a few actually from fellow bloggers:

All great ideas I would have never thought of…and that’s why I’m not a food blogger ;)

Nektar also provides recipe ideas on their website, from sweet potato fries to an apple honey cocktail (yum). They also mention using it as a sports drink. Add in honey crystals to your water, add lemon, and you’ve got home made Gatorade. Honey contains natural electrolytes and sugar for that boost you need. I haven’t tried this but will once I start doing longer runs…stay tuned for my review on that!

You can find Nektar at most grocery stores, such as Whole Foods, Earth Fare and Shop Rite (for my NJ peeps). Use their store locator to find a store near you.

Giveaway

Lastly, they are hosting a giveaway that ends March 20. You can win 3 different cannisters of tea from Bare Tea, which makes organic whole leaf teas, 2 boxes of Nektar Honey Crystals and 2 mugs. Want to win? Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m going to keep doing research on the honey bees because now I’m intrigued. I really had no idea. It’s funny how we can take simple things, like honey and honey bees, for granted and not even give them a second thought. 

Did you know about the honey bee decline?

What is one environmental issue you feel strongly about? For me it’s deforrestation. Sigh.

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