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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12-04-2014

How and Why You Should Nap

Who loves naps? I would take a nap everyday if I could. The nice thing about working from home some days is that I CAN take a nap, but usually I don’t because I just think of everything else I could be doing with that time. But some days, desperate times call for desperate measures ;)

If you nap, you’ve likely experienced that nap where you pass out, wake up 2 hours later, and still feel tired and groggy. Those are the worst. Dan never naps because he always wants to take long naps – I try to tell him 20-30 minutes is the perfect amount but he says that’s too short. 

So with that being said…let’s talk about some nap tips!

Napping Tips

Napping boosts productivity

Taking a short nap gives your  mind some rest and helps you wake up refreshed and ready to get back to work. In a study done by UC Berkeley, they found that a test group who took a 90-minute nap did much better on tests and were actually able to learn and retain more information than those who did not nap during the day. 

It’s as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you’re not going to receive any more mail. It’s just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder.”

Now obviously we can’t all be taking 90 minute naps, but it goes to show that taking a short, power nap on your lunch break could make you more productive for your afternoon work shift.

Short naps are key

According to the Mayo Clinic, 10-30 minute naps are the perfect length. You will wake up refreshed as opposed to groggy. Taking shorter naps will also decrease the chances of it interfering with your sleep at night. The Mayo Clinic also suggests taking naps between 2-3 p.m. I always get the afternoon slump around this time! If you do want to take a longer nap, then go for 90 minutes. This will equal an entire sleep cycle, so you’ll wake up with no grogginess. This graphic from Lifehacker is very helpful!

How Long Should I Nap
Drink coffee before a nap

My roommate actually told me this in college. If you drink coffee before a nap, it takes about 20-30 minutes for the caffeine to kick in, so you’ll wake up from the caffeine, and wake up energized and ready to get back to work.

I visited Google headquarters in NYC a few years ago, and they had this awesome nap pod for their employees. I mean how cool is this?

Google

I’ve seen WeWork coworking spaces with nap areas as well. Companies are starting to see that napping can really boost productivity, as opposed to slogging along with your work half asleep. I remember when I had an internship in college that was about an hour commute. I would go to my car and take a 20 minute nap during my lunch break. I seriously love naps.

In Paraguay, their lunch break is two sometimes three hours, to allow people to go home for lunch and take a “siesta.” Though, their workday ends at 7. Not sure which I would prefer, 9-5(ish) with a one hour lunch, or 8-7 with a 2 hour break in the middle. Probably 9-5 because staying longer would interfere with my gym time ;)

Do you take naps? If you had a nap pod at work, would you use it?

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08-06-2014

Revisiting IIFYM

Last year, I wrote a post on the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet and what my thoughts were on it.

During that time, I think IIFYM was still gaining traction in the fitness community. Now, I see it everywhere. Just search #IIFYM on Instagram and you’ll come up with hundreds of posts.

Initially, I was not a fan of this. As I mentioned in my original post, an article that I had read on IIFYM stated that

How can a burger from McDonalds be equivalent to a meal of chicken, brown rice and cashews? It’s quite simple, your body does not recognize whether the food your eating is ‘clean’ or ‘junk’. It will only recognize food’s for it’s nutrients, such as proteins, fats or carbohydrates.

 

Hmm…I don’t buy it. But that’s just me. I don’t see how eating something from McDonald’s can be the same thing as chicken and vegetables. I get that they may have the same macronutrients, but what about the preservatives and chemicals in that burger?

But at the same time, I do like the IIFYM way of thinking. While I don’t think fast food and actual food are comparable, I like the premise behind this way of eating.

If you’re not familiar with IIFYM, basically instead of tracking calories you track your macronutrients (grams of protein, carbs, fat and fiber). You can figure out how many calories and grams of each of those things you need using this IIFYM calculator.

The reason I like IIFYM is because it allows you do be more flexible with your nutrition. Yes, we all know we should “eat clean” but sometimes you want to splurge a little. You want to go out to dinner with friends, or indulge in a bit of ice cream. IIFYM allows you do to that because you can simply include those into your daily macro counts.

I don’t agree with IIFYM in terms of “Eat whatever you want just count your macros” but it is a more flexible approach to nutrition than other diets such as paleo or just calorie counting. Plus, if you just count calories, you’re not making sure that you’re actually getting enough protein, carbs and fat in one day. My main goal is to eat as many whole foods as possible, but indulge when I want to and not feel guilty.

What do you think of IIFYM? Have you tried it?

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03-04-2013

Motivational Monday!

Sorry for the delay in posting today’s Motivational Monday…it’s been a hectic and busy week or so, but in a good way!

Here’s today’s quote for you:

How many times have you said, “I’ll start tomorrow,” or “I’ll start Monday.” Hey, I’m guilty of it too! I started Whole30 last week but wasn’t fully prepared and stocked up with food, so I said I’d just re-start today. Sometimes it’s ok, but sometimes we get into the habit of starting all of our goals “tomorrow.” Or we wait until the “perfect time.” As this quote says, tomorrow never comes, and there will never be a perfect time! Whatever your goals are for this week, month or year, start working towards them today.

What goals will you work on TODAY?

02-24-2013

Third Time’s A Charm

FINALLY was able to get in my 6 mile run yesterday. After trying on Tuesday and Friday (and failing), I tried one last time on Saturday. I really wanted to get in a 6 miler because my group will be doing 7 miles this Tuesday.

I wasn’t able to complete the runs the 2 times previous because my calves kept burning and getting tight…it felt like lactic acid buildup. I’m not sure why this happened, but I googled it and one of the reasons is possible dehydration? So Friday night I made sure to drink a ton of water before attempting another run on Saturday.

I started off feeling fine but was nervous that once I got further into the run I would start to fade. Surprisingly, I felt great! There were a few hills I was able to climb no problem (thanks to my hill workouts I’ve been doing on the treadmill probably!).

There were 2 times I had to stop for a few seconds to stretch out my calves, but overall it was a good run. I got new Mizuno sneakers too so that helped. Time to ice and do tennis ball rolling up until 7 miles on Tuesday! I can’t believe we have built up to 7 miles again…I don’t think I’ve ran more than 6 since training for the New York City Marathon. Hopefully it goes well!

Here are my splits for my run. I tried to maintain an easy, consistent pace…but wanted to pick it up for the last mile a bit. I like ending a little faster :)

Do you ever have off days, or multiple off days in a row? How do you deal with the frustration?

02-18-2013

Motivational Monday!

It’s a new week! Can you believe there are less than 2 weeks left in February? Time really does fly. 2013 has been treating me well so far, and I hope the same goes for you! I am an optimist by nature, which is why I love today’s quote:

If you remain positive, and have a positive outlook on life, there is no doubt in my mind you will find happiness and fulfillment, even in the toughest of times. I have been going through a rough patch when it comes to self-satisfaction…but despite the negatives I always try to look on the bright side. There are so many things to be grateful for every day, and I remind myself of that. Sure, some days I am not happy with the way I look, or I have a bad run…but then I remember I am lucky I can even run, and that I have a healthy, strong body. Try to be positive this week, even in the face of tough challenges that come your way.

Do you usually look at the glass half full or half empty?

02-11-2013

Motivational Monday!

It’s a new week! And as one of my friends pointed out…only 16 weeks until June 1! I seriously cannot wait until summer.

Here’s today’s motivational quote:

How has everyone been doing with their resolutions? Around Valentine’s Day (this week) is when most people fall off. Don’t be one of those people! Remember your resolutions and goals, and write down steps you will go through to continue to achieve them. I love this quote because it invokes a sense of passion and fire…be strong, be unstoppable, be fierce in whatever it is you are doing.

What is your resolution progress? Have you been going strong or faltered a bit? Hey, if you have it’s okay, just get back up and keep on going!

01-28-2013

Motivational Monday!

I have been pretty busy this past week as it’s been the first week of the semester. I already have a lot of assignments and projects to work on, both academic and personal. While it can be stressful at times, I like knowing that everything I am doing is to achieve a certain goal.

I love this quote from Finding Nemo! In stressful times, it’s important to remember to just keep “swimming.” If you’re working towards goals, be grateful for the opportunities presented to you even if it means you’re busier than ever. In the end, it’s all worth it.

But it can be taken in so many other ways too. This past week I have also been feeling so frustrated that I haven’t been seeing the results I’ve wanted from exercising and eating clean. I will admit to eating a few too many bowls of cereal and a few cookies this week due to this frustration. But I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday, bought a bunch of healthy food, and am ready to keep going. Even when you don’t see the results you want, just keep going. Keep exercising. Keep eating healthy. The benefits go so much farther than just looking good. You are helping your body be healthy, and giving it the nutrients it needs.

Have you ever been in a rut where you feel like you’re not seeing results? Trader Joe’s snapped me out of it…what snapped you out of it?

01-21-2013

Motivational Monday!

Nooooooo…I go back to school and work tomorrow =’(

I know, I know…I had a month off… “cry me a river.” It’s just been so relaxing!

Anyway, here is my motivation for you today:

A lot of the time, in our fitness and healthy journeys, we strive to be the “best” or compare ourselves to others. Why do they look like that and I don’t? How are they faster than me when I put in more work? There are so many questions like that I’m sure we have all thought before. But this quote is true. It’s all about being better than you were yesterday.

Coincidentally enough, my favorite professional runner/running idol, Kara Goucher, tweeted something along these lines yesterday as well:

Screen shot 2013-01-20 at 11.26.32 PM

Every day, with every extra rep you do or mile you run, you are better than you were yesterday. Just by getting up and going to the gym you are better than yesterday! Forward progress always. Stop comparing yourself to others or competing against others…compete against yourself and strive to be the best you can.

What are your goals this week? Mine is to run 12 miles by Saturday!

 

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01-18-2013

Fruit is Healthy…Right?

First off, happy Friday everyone! I’m actually sad it’s Friday, because it’s my last weekend before my winter break is over. My break has been so relaxing and I am kind of dreading going back to school. But, I can’t complain too much, since I’ll be graduating with my Master’s in May!

Anyway…today’s post could be controversial, which is why it’s filed under my “Thinking Out Loud” tab ;)

We’ll be discussing FRUIT.

I randomly thought about writing this as I walked by the smoothie shop at the mall the other day. Fruit smoothies are healthy right? Well, I won’t be saying that’s wrong because yes, fruits are obviously healthy and nutritious. But if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a certain weight, as with everything, fruit should be eaten in moderation.

Fruits contain a lot of sugar, and while it is obviously different than sugar found in candy bars or cookies, this sugar means fruit has higher calories than a vegetable for example. According to CNN Health Expert Dr. Melina Jampolis,

Fruits and vegetables, which are higher in water and fiber and lower in calories than other foods, are less likely to cause weight gain or prevent weight loss, as you would have to eat much larger portions to consume too many calories. However, fruit has almost three times the calories per serving as nonstarchy vegetables, so it is easier to consume too many fruit calories, which can interfere with weight loss. I frequently see patients who think of fruit as a “free food” and are unknowingly consuming up to 250 extra calories a day, which could prevent them from losing one pound of fat every two weeks!

She recommends sticking to 3 servings per day. I also recommend making sure you eat the correct serving size, and also look at nutritional facts for different fruits. Bananas and apples contain more calories, carbs and sugar than berries do. I try to eat more berries, and save the banana or apple for a pre or post-workout snack.

I would also be wary of those fruit smoothies. Sometimes I see people posting pictures of their smoothies, yet the ingredients are all fruits. That is a looootttt of sugar and hundreds of calories. The calories are fine, depending on your goals, but sugar, even if it’s natural, should be limited.

Also, don’t kid yourself into thinking drinking a cup or orange or apple juice counts as fruit. That is not a serving of fruit! Check the ingredients. Most likely, it’s fruit concentrate (and has preservatives).

The CDC has a great calculator that tells you how much fruit and veggies you should eat depending on your age, sex and activity level. According to this, I should have 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of veggies per day. If I made a multi-fruit smoothie, that would be way over my alotted amount. They also provide nutritional information for different fruits, and what fruits to eat if you are trying to lose weight.

Remember, everything is good in moderation. Yes, fruits are healthy, full of fiber, and nutritious, but you just need to make sure you’re not eating too much. Stick to berries, and save the higher calorie fruits for a pre or post-workout snack. I love bananas and apples with peanut butter!

What is your take on fruit? What’s your favorite fruit? Mine’s definitely bananas!

Find my other “Thinking Out Loud” posts here.

 

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