Category Archives: Reviews

5 Running Must Haves & Armpocket Review and Giveaway

Happy Hump Day y’all!

How fun was this Monday’s guest post, where coach Suz shared her 5 tips on  how to train for your first half?! A big THANK YOU to all of you who chirped in the conversation! There’s so much to learn.

First half-marathon training tips

The best part about running is that you don’t really need a gym membership or any fancy gear to get started. However, when you are new to the running world everything looks helpful. Sometimes it may get overwhelming and difficult to know what you actually need and what is superfluous. I would like to share some of my favorite running necessities that I can’t live without.

  1. Well-fitted running shoesI found some great tips on how to find perfect running shoes at Run Addicts, here are some of them:
    • Go to the store in the evening: ‘studies have shown feet tend to expand few millimeters up to 2 centimeters by the end of the day’.
    • Make sure to wear socks you normally run in.
    • There must be a finger-width space between your great toe and the shoe box and  a thumb width at the end of the shoe. ‘You will end up buying shoes that are bigger in size than what you normally wear but that’s perfectly OK.’ However, don’t exceed a finger-width span!
    • ‘NEVER wear a brand new running shoe for a race; make sure you already used them for 100 miles runs at minimum’.

    Here is some more.

    Running shoes infographic

    Source

    *Read more on this here.*

     

  2. Foam RollerI have a love-hate relationship with my foam roller. It hurts so much at first, but then feels soooooo good. If you have never foam rolled before, head over to one of my previous posts to find out how to do it as a pro!Benefits of Foam Rolling
  3. Proper Hydration

    I can’t stress enough the importance of staying hydrated not only when you go out for a run but also throughout the day. Why? Because it affects your performance and overall health!I personally like to use a water pack on longer runs *It was my life savior during the Spartan Beast race!*. I will also be soon trying out a Hydro Belt that I recently got as a gift from my parents.Regardless of what your preference is, take your water with you or simply stop at water fountains if it’s an option!
    Why dehydration is making you fat and sick

    Source

    For more hydration tips check out:
    Hydration 101 – 8 hydration myths busted & tips on how to stay hydrated this summer.
    4 Flavoured Water Recipes that will make you excited about drinking water.

  4. Hat & Sunscreen 

    Sunstroke is a real thing, so apply your sunscreen diligently and don’t forget your hat before you get outside.running away from the sun
    Source 

  5. Armpocket!

I was recently contacted by a representative from Armpocket to review their product. I was super excited about this opportunity because I use an app on my phone that tracks my runs, so I absolutely have to have it on me.

Armpocket 1

Previously I used a Flip Belt, which I still like very much. However, I always had to remove the case from my phone to be able to fit it in. *Our phones are getting bigger and bigger by the day! What’s up with that?* It worked, but it was challenging for me to take out my phone mid run. *Oh please, don’t you have to ABSOLUTELY take a picture of something? ‘Ahhh, that’s such a beautiful sunset!’, ‘Check out that beaver!’ LOL!* Also, when I run, I sweat… I won’t go too much in detail, but I think it’s a common knowledge that our phones are home to all kinds of bacteria as is.

So what is an Armpocket?

It is an armband that was engineered with many unique features that provides a comfortable and secure way of carrying their smart phones, keys, IDs and other ‘necessities’ for active people. It is weather and sweat proof. It has a touch-though screen, so you can freely use your apps. It’s moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial, natural bamboo rayon back and vented strap keep you cool and dry.

I was recommended to get Ultra i-35 based on the type and size of my phone. I picked it in Arctic Blue with a medium strap which is good for arm size 10″ to 15″.*It is available in 3 strap length.*

Ultra i-35 armpocket

Of course, I was a bit apprehensive since I’m not used to have anything bulky on my arms as I run. I also wasn’t sure if it would be comfortable and whether it would slip.

I was very pleasantly surprised! To be honest, I completely forgot that I even had it on my arm. I didn’t experience any discomfort: My Armpocket didn’t slip nor did it bounce. I also looooove that it has 3 little pockets inside, so my phone won’t get scratched!

I can assure you that you will be seeing it a lot in my pictures. It’s perfect for any workout or an afternoon hike!

Armpocket 2

My friends at Armpocket were super generous and let me do a giveaway for you guys! One lucky pal or gal will win an Armpocket of their choice. The giveaway is available only to the residents of the U.S. and Canada. All you’ve got to do to enter the draw is to participate in the Rafflecopter giveaway in the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will be closed at 12am on April 26th (Eastern Time). I will contact the winner via email, so please make sure that you provide me with one.

Be sure to check out Armpocket Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too!

What are your must haves when you run?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Giveaway, Half-Marathon Training, Reviews, Running, Uncategorized

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bars Review

Hi there!

Earlier this month I was given an opportunity to review Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bars. I am very honored to do it since it’s a Canadian company.

If you’ve never tried hemp seeds, hemp products have a slightly nutty taste. According to care2 article, hemp has the following 5  health benefits:

  1. The protein and fiber in hemp combine to slow digestion, which prevents spikes in blood sugar and therefore sustains your body’s energy. A diet rich in hemp promotes digestive regularity.
  2. When sprinkled on your cereal or fruit at breakfast, hemp protein and fiber also help aid in satiety, which will prevent you from snacking and keep you fuller longer.
  3. The Omega-3 fatty acids in hemp reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, and may even ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Hemp seeds are one of the few Omega-3 sources found in plants.
  4. The Omega-6 fatty acids in hemp stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and help the brain function.
  5. Hemp seeds contain essential amino acids, which improves muscle control, mental function, and normal body maintenance of cells, muscle, tissues, and organs.

(Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-surprising-health-benefits-of-hemp-2.html#ixzz40wRqQLmS)

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart bars are crafted with the goodness of hemp and other tasty ingredients too. They’ve whipped up three different delicious flavours to choose from: vanilla, chocolate and apple cinnamon. Each 45 gram bar contains 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of omegas, so whether you grab one for a pre-workout snack or nutrition on the go, these convenient bars are sure to get you through even your busiest day! Needless to say, I was very curious to try out the two flavors I was provided with: Apple Cinnamon & Chocolate.

IMG_0077

Apple Cinnamon

Ingredients: Hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds), organic coconut palm sugar, organic brown rice syrup, dried apple, cinnamon, organic apple flavor, pectin, organic sunflower oil, organic caramel flavour, rosemary extract.

I definitely liked this flavour a lot! It’s not overly sweet, yet satisfies a sweet tooth. I had it as an afternoon snack just before my workout. It was light and filling and gave me the boost I needed.

IMG_0080

Chocolate

Ingredients: Hemp heart (shelled hemp seeds), organic brown rice syrup, organic coconut palm sugar, organic cocoa mass, organic dutch-process cocoa, organic chocolate flavour, pectin, organic sunflower oil, rosemary extract.

It took me a few bites to appreciate the taste of this bar, mostly because it’s been a while since I had dark chocolate. *I’ll blame Valentine’s day for this! Haha!* That being said, I can see myself enjoying it before a long run or simply as a snack.

IMG_0083

Manitoba Harvest is running a photo contest:

Tag @manitobaharvest #hempheartbar #fuelledbyhemp #sweatpink @fitapproach for a chance to win a box of your favorite flavor of Hemp Heart Bars!

A winner will be chosen each month!

Eligibility: open to US and Canada residents

Also Manitoba Harvest offers a discount to all of my readers. The discount code hhbarlaunch1015 will get you 15% off! It expires on March 31, 2016, so go ahead and take advantage of it!

What is your favourite hemp product?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Reviews, Running, Weight Loss

Pregnancy & Positive Body Image: Celebrating Femininity & All Body Types

Hello 3rd trimester!!! I can’t believe it’s been already 28 weeks that I have a little miracle growing inside of my belly. It is, hands down, the best experience of my life! So before I was wondering about the purpose of life, having children (own or adopted) just might be it!

bump 27 weeks

I won’t say that it’s just sunshine and roses all the time, but it’s definitely worth the end result!

You may or may not recall, but last year I wrote a post about my struggle with my body image in the past. And even though I do have some off days here and there like everybody else, I do my absolute best to welcome and celebrate the changes my body goes through during pregnancy. Creating life is the most beautiful thing on Earth and we as women should embrace it.

This being said, there are so many people who are out there who feel entitled to make comments to future mothers like ‘Gosh! You are so small! Is it normal?’ or ‘Are you sure you don’t have twins in there?’. To me, each pregnancy is unique and as long as the baby is growing normally and you make healthy choices for the both of you, you are a great mother: Your size says absolutely nothing about your baby’s health or development.

What some individuals don’t realize is that those comments may be hurtful, especially if you catch a mommy-to-be on a day when she is not feeling that great about herself.

Recently, Cassey Ho from Blogilates, whom I greatly admire, did a social experiment on her Instagram account. What was the reason? She got really fed up with all negativity and cyber-bullying. Let’s be fair, famous or not, pregnant or not, we all have days when our self-esteem is not at its highest. So what she did is posted a photoshoped picture of herself with the ‘perfect’ body, but she didn’t mention anything to anyone.

Cassey Ho - the perfect body experiment Finally got my perfect body. Watch my new video where I share with you all my body slimming secrets www.youtube.com/blogilates (link in profile)

A photo posted by Cassey Ho (@blogilates) on Apr 16, 2015 at 9:21pm PDT

I remember scrolling through that picture. I was surprised by a drastic change in her body and thought to myself that something was off. I won’t lie, I was confused because those who follow Blogilates know that it’s just not the way she is. But as usual, there were plenty comments from both haters and admirers.

A day later, Cassey posted the following video on Youtube:

I was instantly relieved and reminded why I like her so much! What is the perfect body, anyway? Who is it that decides?

I remembered about a video on BuzzFeed posted a few months back about women’s ideal body types throughout history. Check it out for youself:

Lesson learned? EVERY SINGLE BODY IS BEAUTIFUL in its own and unique way. There is no such thing as a perfect or ideal body. We should all celebrate our beauty and uniqueness! This is why I was absolutely thrilled when a few weeks ago I was contacted by a company called eShakti to review their product.

eShakti.com is the only online women’s fashion apparel company offering sizes 0-36W and custom clothing. What I loved about it from the get go is that the company believes that all women have the right to wear affordable fashion that is made for them and makes them look their absolute best. *FINALLY!*

I was offered a choice of an outfit, and even though it was gifted to me, all opinions are my own.

Let me start by saying that normally I do not feel comfortable buying clothes online because I always have the fear ‘What if it doesn’t fit right?’, so I normally limit myself to buying books from Amazon. *What? A girl HAS GOT to shop! Haha!* The process, surprisingly was extremely straight forward.

Step 1: Choose the style

I went for a flowy maxi dress because I wanted to be able to wear it ASAP and for as long as I can, obviously! *Haha!*

Step 1

Step 2: Customizing 

This is the step that I normally fear.

I really loved that they have both standard and custom size option; especially that my baby bump is constantly growing! I can’t emphasize enough how happy I was to be able to put in extra comments to make sure that the inside lining wasn’t too tight to accommodate my growing baby girl. I also made sure to specify my height and ask to make the dress shorter (just enough to go all the way to the ground) because I plan on wearing flats and not high heels. *I’m all about comfort!*

There were also options to remove embroidery and/or pockets, but I really liked the dress the way it was and decided not to use them.

Step 2

Step 3: Ordering

Ordering was as simple as it gets! But I’ll be honest, I was still very much apprehensive about the quality of the dress and whether it would look like it did in the picture. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

The dress fit really well: All of my instructions were followed to the T. Even the length was perfect! The color and quality were also great. After all was said done, I might reconsider shopping for clothing online! *Sorry, my dear wallet! Hehe!* 

And, of course, I was all for modeling it for you… AND CELEBRATING MY BEAUTIFUL BABY BUMP!

eShakti 1

eShakti 2

eShakti 3

By the way, the last picture is my favorite! I look like an air balloon and I’m absolutely loving it!!!!

You can check out eShakti for yourself through the following media channels:

Website: www.eShakti.com
Facebook: eShakti
Twitter: @eShakti
Pinterest: eshakti

Finally, the company was kind enough to provide my readers with a discount of 10% until May 17, 2015.  You can take advantage of it by entering code candiesandcrunches in ‘the promotional code’ box. *Please, be advised that I do not benefit from any of your purchases.*

A few other pointers:

  • It is not case-sensitive.
  • Code can be used any number of times until the validity period.
  • It can be combined with any other promotional offer, gift coupon or gift card in the same order unless explicitly specified otherwise in the offer conditions.
  • This discount code is not applicable on clearance / sale, gift cards & overstock categories.
  • Not applicable on previous purchases.

Finally, I’d like to finish off this post by saying the following:

EMBRACE YOUR BODY AND FEMININITY REGARDLESS YOUR AGE, SIZE OR BODY SHAPE! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

celebrating all body shapesSource

How do you celebrate your body?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fashion, Health, Motivation, Reviews

My Non-Fitness Obsession & CanvasPop Review and Giveaway!

Well, hello there, beautiful people!

It’s a long weekend here in Canada and you are about to enjoy it even more!

Today’s post will be somewhat different because I would like to talk to you about a passion of mine which is NOT fitness related. *HA!*

Is that even possible

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while or those who know me in real life, it won’t come as a surprise… But I am OBSESSED with photography! I absolutely love taking pictures, editing them and looking at beautiful images taken by other photographers. The whole ordeal is very therapeutic to me!

photography is the memory

Source

I’ve never been exceptionally creative. However, I do always feel that I can express my creativity through the pictures I take.

I think this hobby started when my dad asked me to take a picture of him and our dog when I was a teen. I was mesmerized by the entire process of my dad taking pictures by carefully adjusting camera settings and then developing film. It was magic happening in front of my eyes.

When I was 20 years old, I bought myself my first camera… Let’s just put it this way… People would be flabbergasted if I didn’t have it on me.

That being said, taking pictures is great, but what’s even more important is preserving them. I’ve always been terrible at printing out my photographs! I paid dearly for my laziness when my laptop crashed in 2013: 4 years of memories were completely erased… I was devastated! *Thank God for Facebook and picture sharing!*

no

That day I vowed to myself that I’ll get better at saving those precious memories. I still have tons of pictures to print, but… I, for one, created a picture frame wall on our staircase to celebrate my relationship with my hubby which was later joined by a beautiful canvas of our wedding picture.

stairs

I don’t know if you, guys, believe in destiny or things coming true when you really want them to happen, but get this… A couple of weeks back, me and Justin were looking through some of our pictures, and Justin said something across these lines, “Babe, you know what, we should have some of our pictures printed out on a canvas.” Obviously, it was like music to my ears and he had no convincing to do.

Here is where it gets crazy. A few days later I was contacted by a company called CanvasPop to see if I would like to review their product. Now… my readers know that I’ve never posted any reviews on my blog to date. I must assure you, this is not due to the lack of interest from companies. I just refuse to accept any offers that go against my values or could potentially jeopardize my bond with all my dear followers. So even though the request was very tempting, I decided to do my homework first and headed straight to their website www.canvaspop.com.

Made with Love — behind the scenes with CanvasPop from CanvasPop on Vimeo.

This is where I got really excited. Upon only a few minutes on their website, a pop up chat appeared in the bottom right corner. A very friendly representative, Steve, asked me if I needed any assistance, and, when I told him that I was simply surfing, he encouraged me to let him know should I have any questions. *WOW!* 

The website is super user-friendly and very easy to navigate. I had lots of fun clicking through endless options like adding text to pictures, changing up filters and effects, creating collages (from IG pictures!!!) and triptych images. Furthermore, there are multiple canvas sizes, frames and edge choices available.

And then… I said, YES, ABSOLUTELY!

Once again, customer service was exceptionally fast and efficient when it came to ordering and shipment of my order. Upon sending my request, I received a digital proof of the design to ensure that I was satisfied with how it looked. And even though I was told that it would take between 7 and 10 business days to receive the canvas, it took only 2! The picture came out very bright and lively, just the way I imagined it, and the mirrored edge made it look complete!

My hubby, without any hesitation, put the canvas up on the wall in our living room right above the TV, so we get to enjoy looking at it every single day. You be the judge! *We are one good looking couple, eh?! Hehe!*  

CanvasPop

I can assure you that I am very pleased customer and I will definitely be printing my images through CanvasPop in the future. I have soooooo many decorating ideas for the nursery for our baby girl!!!!!! *I’m already 24.5 weeks! Time FLIES!!!*

Finally, CanvasPop was super generous and offered a great discount to all of my dedicated readers. Any of you can get a rebate of 35% off your entire order by using a discount code: CANDIES35 from now till April 30, 2015. To make things even better, one lucky gal or pal will also win a free 16 x 20 canvas with the .75″ frame depth + free shipping!!! The giveaway is available only to the residents of the U.S. and Canada. All you’ve got to do to enter the draw is to participate in the Rafflecopter giveaway in the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will be closed at 12am on April 10th (Eastern Time). I will contact the winner via email, so please make sure that you provide me with one.

Now tell me, if you were to get a canvas, what picture or pictures would you print? Why?

Happy Easter!

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Giveaway, Pregnancy, Reviews