Navigating the Bar Craze When the Whole Aisle is Consumed By Them

It seems like every day there is a new protein, health, or real food bar hitting the market, and honestly it can seem overwhelming. I walked into my local grocery store the other day and saw three new brands I had never heard of. Now, most bars have a particular purpose: snack, protein, energy, but how do we organize those and what’s best for our individual day-to-days? To be honest I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I hope this helps just a bit!

My biggest rule of thumb is, and we all know it, whole foods first! But what does that even mean in a culture of 50 bars to choose from all with claims on their label of being this or that? Hopefully this little break down will help you clarify just a bit!

Snack Bars:

  1. RxBar this one is my favorite because the sugar isn’t off the charts and its all natural, and there are so few ingredients – which are all listed on the front of the label. This bar gives you a well rounded option when you’re hungry in the middle of the day or on-the-go! This can ALSO fit into an adequate protein bar so win-win.
  2. Larabar – the sugar here is a little bit more substantial but again the ingredients are all whole foods that are pronounceable and generally good for you. Personally I’m a little fuller when I eat Larabars, they are richer on my stomach even though the calorie counts of RxBar and Larabar are similar, but Jon LOVES them and I know he’s eating a decent snack instead one of the super processed and sugared granola bars or Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
  3. CLIF Whole Lotta – we all know this brand and the multiple lines of bars they make, however depending on which bar you are consuming the ingredient list can be a little lengthy and the sugar count high. HOWEVER, this option is short on ingredients and gives you just what you need to curb hunger, and from a reputable brand.

Biggest bar to avoid: standard CLIF. In my view CLIF stands in a unique place. If you are an endurance athlete and need a boost during long training sessions then a CLIF product is NO problem, however, for their standard bars their ingredient list is long and sugar high. So, if you need a boost of energy it’s so much better to find some whole foods that can give you something more well-rounded and nutritious.

Protein Bars:

  1. Quest – Quest came into my life a little over a year ago when I was still trying to put on weight. While they don’t have the simplest of ingredient lists they do supply a healthy dose of fats, protein, and fiber and very little sugar. They keep me full and balanced on long days of work and training. **NOTE: not every flavor is the same so check the ingredients before you indulge 
  2. Epic – while they don’t have an ample amount of protein I love these pars because they are whole animal, low ingredient, and low sugar, all while being filling and delicious.
  3. Health Warrior Protein Bar – plant based, real food, low sugar bar that I have come to really enjoy for a boost.

Biggest bar to avoid: ThinkThin. I actually used to love these as one of the first bars to burst on the scene of the bar-pandamonium , but their sodium and sugar alcohols are through the roof, and their list of ingredients is just not worth it!

Energy Bars:

  1. Picky Bars – Lauren Fleischman and Jesse Thomas are the brains behind this brand and being endurance athletes themselves I was intrigued by what they were creating. While the added sugars aren’t my favorite in the case of endurance athletics and a pronounceable ingredient list these bars are perfect and definitely rise to the top! Just make sure you are using them in the correct setting!
  2. ProBar – These can also be used as meal replacement so be careful of consuming too much. However, they have pronounceable and clean ingredients and can be a GREAT source of well rounded nutrition in a bind or after a long workout!
  3. Kind Protein – these are substantial, and while they don’t have a super fighting power sugar content they are well rounded with almost anything that your body requires when you are grinding through the week or pounding the pavement.

Biggest bar to avoid: PowerBar. One of the originals. But the first ingredient is cane invert syrup and Maltodextrin follows closely behind it, just not the whole food, well rounded nutrition that’s best.

Honorable Mentions:

*Goodness Knows – Snack

*Jimmy Bars – Protein

*Bonk Breaker – Energy

I hope this guide helps you breakdown some of this bar craze, and that it helps you find the best products for your activity level and overall health! Enjoy!

Healing Low Iron… And the Smoothie I’m obsessed With

A couple weeks ago I had a small procedure that went completely fine, but what it led to finding has let me on in some crucial info about my body in the past couple weeks. I’ve heard the word “Anemia” since before I can remember, as an endurance athlete both in the swimming realm and running realm vitamin and mineral deficiencies were something we were made aware of young. However, the research has only gotten deeper and more involved the older I get and the more technology plays such a major role.

At my post-op appointment two days later I was weak, like really weak, and really pale – it was not my best look. My doc went ahead and took my blood work again. It was ugly. Not only was I below normal for both Hemoglobin and Hematocrit I was VERY low. I felt like I didn’t know myself, everything felt foreign.  I had lost some blood in surgery, but this went deeper than surgery there was more at play.

The last time I had my Iron checked was in the fall of 2018, not so long ago. My training had decreased and I was just pressing through at the minimum through the end of the year. At that point my levels were in the normal range, maybe a little low for a woman of my age and physical health, but normal. SO what changed in 6-7 months??? And how do I get myself back to healthy???

PAYING ATTENTION TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRAINING + NUTRITION

At the beginning of 2019 I found my zeal for running again, while January and February were slow on the race calendar the craziness that March would bring led me to pick up intensity fast. Simultaneously, I was staying really lean in the animal protein department – I was eating almost NO red meat, even though poultry was still a regular part of my diet, the foods that I ate to make up for it were not rich in that vital nutrient.

So my training increased so my need increased but level of intake stayed the same leading to a negative outcome, and that outcome was huge when it came to my recovery after this procedure.

But, I’m also really glad it came to light, it’s helped me change somethings in my diet and be more in tune to my body in general. And I don’t think I’m alone in the endurance athlete realm who is growing in this awareness and knowledge every day!

As someone who has a Nutrition Certification I am a firm believer in a well-rounded diet. We need protein, fats, and carbohydrates to keep our body functioning at our best. I know some people don’t eat animal protein, but you HAVE to find other ways to get those nutrients. Likewise, people who believe a low-carb diet is best, please make sure to give yourself at least an adequate amount of carbs – regardless of what anyone says you need them in moderation.

All that to say here are a few things I have implemented in my diet to help increase my iron and overall health in general as well as one of my favorite new recipes below!

*Disclaimer: moderation is always key, and these are not long term solutions, but temporary changes to get the most effective results 

DON’TS

  • Limit dairy + calcium rich foods. While you need calcium for strong bones it’s also a big iron inhibitor
  • Limit corn. I am popcorn’s #1 fan, but I also love some corn tortilla chips & guac, not the best idea to go hard when you are wanting optimum iron absorption.
  • Stay clear of gluten. While this normal for me research emphasis staying clear of sugary starches and eat those natural carbohydrates like brown rice and potatoes.
  • No Caffeine! Gosh I was already feeling terrible, but the compounding caffeine headache for three days was not my best life.

DO’Sa

  • Eat animal protein including red meat. Right now I’m keeping mixed between red meat and poultry, but making sure that at least one meal has this as well as at least one meal has eggs (yes the yolks). 
  • If you are a vegetarian eat all the beans! 
  • Get those dark leafy greens. From salads, to sautéing it up with some of protein and carbs, to throwing it in a smoothie it’s essential to get these in your diet. 
  • Flax seed + Chia Seed + Hemp Seeds. The nutritional benefits of these have been researched time and time again, but they are also great for getting those micronutrients you need. I throw the mix in smoothies, peanut butter w/ fruit, and pretty much anything else. 

If you are an endurance athlete, make sure to get your Iron levels tested regularly so you don’t fall prey to the same thing I did. As always ask the doc before taking any actual supplements, too much Iron can be a bad thing. 

Knowing that I needed extra nutrients and was struggling for creativity I found a way to mix it altogether in a delicious way that helps fuel my body with everything it needs.

Jordan’s Iron Absorption Smoothie 

-1/2 cup of OJ (vitamin C for iron absorption)

-1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (for texture and flavor)

-1/2 banana

-1 cup of frozen berries

-2 handfuls of spinach + Kale mix (iron rich)

-1 heaping TBSP of hemp seed + flax seed + chia seed mixture (all the micronutrients)

Blend it altogether and enjoy!

 

urger, but because of the cholesterol and fat I had limited it pretty severely. So right now I am 

2018 Best Nine

Instagram blows up more than normal this time of year between holiday pictures and what has popped up in recent years as the “Best Nine”. In short it’s a processor that gathers your nine most engaged with posts and turns them into a collage. So I thought we could do a blog post on the Best Nine of 2018 through words instead of pictures.

9. Books on books – From Leaders Eat Last to Creativity, Inc. to Girl Wash Your Face there were some incredible and powerful books I got to dive into this year. Next Year the stakes get higher with even more books on the agenda, here are links to just a few:

Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek

Creativity Inc – Ed Catmull

Girl Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis

Come Matter Here – Hannah Brencher

8. Kyle Pease Foundation

On Labor Day this year I had the opportunity to push-assist for the Kyle Pease Foundation at the Big Peach Sizzler 10K alongside an old friend of mine, Tori. This was truly one of the best memories and opportunities of the year that taught me so much about the power behind the sport of running and the community that surrounds it.

7. Peachtree Road Race PR

This was one of my biggest racing surprises of the year, just barely missing the 40 minute barrier at the AJC Peachtree Road Race on the Fourth of July. While other goals this year were missed this one was absolutely a defining racing moment for me!

6. Kali-girl

Just days after Passion Conference 2018 we headed to the shelter to gain a new family member. Originally named Patricia, Kali has taught me SO much especially in the moments I wanted to send her back (which would actually never have happened, but these were trying times), but shes one of the biggest blessings to us.

5. First Time Homeowners

With the addition of our newest four-legged girl we were a little cramped in our apartment so it was time to explore other options. After about six months of searching and looking at our priorities and must-haves we found this cute 3/1.5 1950’s home inside the Atlanta perimeter with a fenced in backyard for the dogs. While there are some updates we cannot wait to tackle, we are loving our little piece of the city and so are our girls.

4. November Project Atlanta

At the end of March Facebook notified me of an event a friend of mine was attending on Wednesday morning at 6:27a on the Beltline that was a free workout, so I thought why on Earth not? So now, 9 months later it has become a staple in my routine and in my community. It’s free fitness, with the most consistent and encouraging community you could ask for. In 49 cities across the WORLD you should really check it out here.

3. Thailand

In 2015 Jon was the student Worship Leader for a church outside the city so during their annual spring break mission trip we had the opportunity to serve both the people of the Dominican Republic and the students of this church in varying ways although we were not married at this time. In 2016, I had the opportunity to head to Uganda with my families church to serve, and while I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything it was hard without Jon. So at the beginning of this year when one of my friends mentioned serving in Thailand I knew it was a knees down in prayer type situation because it was both Jon and I or neither of us. The Lord opened every door to get to serve inside this amazing country. It was trans formative to say the least and we cannot wait for the next opportunity to serve together.

2. Finishing my first book

Yep, you are reading that right! Just a few weeks ago I put the final period on the first book that I have finished. Right now it’s being reviewed and edited by a team close to me and I am so excited to share the finished product with you all sometime in the next several months – stay tuned!

Number 1: God’s sovereignty over my health and regaining it back!

It is no secret at this point that my health has been on a roller coaster for the last two years, and this year was a fight to get back to a healthy state, and I’m so thankful to say that the Lord has been working even when it’s so much slower (and harder) than I would like. There is no doubt in the work he has done in my body, mind and soul during this year when it comes to my mental and physical health, and I believe this is just the first step in the next season of how He is going to move. Nothing is too big for Him, it just takes a complete surrender.

So yeah, what a year! Thank you Lord for everything you have done and what you are continuing to do through our lives and the city and community around us. Passion 2019 is this week and we are so excited. See you next year

Happy New Year Everyone!

Jordan

Running into the Holidays & Cold: A Guide for Runners & Gift Ideas

My alarm went off at 5:28 am this morning and after doing a quick glimpse at the freezing temp and windy conditions the bed beckoned me back to sleep until 6:15 am. It’s not me giving up my speed work, it’s simply delaying it until the conditions are slightly more favorable. Unfortunately today, favorable doesn’t seem to be in the vocabulary, and despite the fact that after tomorrow we get a slight reprieve from freezing and windy it’s time to face the music: COLD IS COMING, RUNNERS PREPARE.

Now some people love to run in the cold and that is all well and good, you go do your thing. I however, need everything in a streamlined order to tackle the harsher miles. Proper pre-run fueling, correct layers, and warm recovery techniques, so without further ado my favorite cold weather gear & products:

Cochran Mill group

1. Pre-Run Fuel: Cinnamon spice oatmeal. There is nothing like some hearty oatmeal to get your whole food carbs before  you hit the outdoor conditions. You have to plan ahead, but like with anything it’s worth it to get the whole nutrients this gives. Here’s a quick recipe:

Homemade Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal 

1/2 cup steel cut, gluten free oats (I like Vitacost brand)

1/2 organic Gala or Honey-crisp apple 

pinch of salt and cinnamon 

On low-med heat add a dab of butter to a fry pan and let it coat the base. Once melted down add you diced up apples, cinnamon, and salt (sometimes I add some pumpkin spice as well). Mix apples until coated with spice and let simmer on stove for 10 minutes. In the last five minutes add your 1/2 cup of oats with 1 cup of water and let it cook on low-medium heat until water is removed. Add in your spice covered apples and let it simmer on low heat for two minutes. Enjoy! 

2. Layer Up: Nike and The North Face have the best base layers in my opinion, but you also need to accessorize. Here’s all my favorite gear I ran in during the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon which was a crisp 36 degrees, no windchill.

3. Carrying on those longer runs: 

  • Hot Hands – usually despite gloves the wind still whips through, these long-lasting hand warmers will keep your fingers from going numb.
  • Nathan Handheld – when it get’s cold it’s hard to motivated to hydrate, but it’s important nonetheless. The 12oz is my favorite, but you can range from 10-18oz
  • Foxelli Headlamp – we obviously know it’s darker for longer through the winter and while my husband doesn’t love when I go it alone solo there are opportunities for group night/morning running and that means headlamp. This one is basic, but comfortable and does the trick!
  • Nuun Hydration – This is one of the biggest ways to help get you those electrolytes without having to fumble around for salt sticks, or different fluids. Just drop a tab into your handheld and keep going.

4. Recovery:

  • Nourishing Food – I’m going to bring it back up again, but Run Fast. Eat Slow will fit the bill for this every single time.
  • Foam Roller or R-8 Roller – you might be familiar with a foam roller, and can get a basic one off Amazon here. The R-8 Roller is a more advanced system that you can move to those hard to reach areas while on the go for a more active recovery. They are pricey, but the work wonders in recovery.
  • Yoga Classes – Corepower is probably my favorite with a broad range of hot-yoga offerings, but I’ve heard great things about YogaWorks (formerly Infinity Yoga) as well. Wherever you may be geographically (there are lists everywhere of great yoga studios), I have found that a consistent yoga practice keeps your muscles healthy, your core strong, and your stress down. Gift a membership to really anyone – we probably should all yoga more.

 

Do you feel more prepared already? Does this help with gift ideas? Do you have any different suggestions? Let me know!

Jordan

 

 

Experienced But Not Easy – Cochran Mill Half Marathon

This weekend made 19 half marathons, 3 full marathons, a handful of 10 milers and 15Ks, 9 10Ks, and more 5Ks than I can count, and as much “experience” as I’ve had running, Saturday was the hardest day of competition that I can remember.

Every half marathon is memorable for one reason or the other. In 2014 I got to toe the line in front of our nations capital building watching the sunrise, in 2016 my first taste of runDisney magic at the Princess Half Marathon, in 2017 Rock N Roll Nashville supposedly my fourth full marathon became somewhere in the line of my half marathons because of the severe heat, and just this past May the torrential downpour unlike any other that swept across the coast of the Carolinas made for a sopping girl for all 13.1. They all have stories, but when it comes to strength and fatigue I think of the physical highs and lows. Saturday was different, Saturday was mental.

Trail running is something I regularly enjoy, maybe because the opportunity doesn’t present itself enough for me to get tired of it, but 5-6 miles has always been my max. Dirty Spokes is a GREAT trail race series around North Georgia and most of my trail experience is thanks to them. Of course, I thought with the trail experience I had coupled with my half marathon experience a trail half marathon would just make sense. I was wrong.

Let me preface this all by saying this was 100% worth it. Tony and Lisa at Peak Racing have been friends of mine for several years now and I love getting to support their races, they do a terrific job. But Saturday was hard, it was mentally grueling in every way.

The start was cold – like mid 30s cold – something we aren’t quite used to here in the south. My sweet husband was there at the start so I could throw off my layers at the last minute before we took off, and then it started. Taking off with the group towards the tree line was the easy part, and then leaves and trees everywhere you looked. The sun peaking in through the canopy as we winded through the woods, over hills, and through creeks (literally through them, adds about 10 lbs in weight with wet shoes), no mile markers, very few people: just you and the trail ahead.

When I say I roller-coastered through every emotion I am not joking in the slightest bit. The first mile or two were tough, but nothing I wasn’t used to. As I got into my stride and thinned out from the racers around me, the regular uncomfortable stretching happened, but then I found my legs and the pleasure of being out in the woods with very little distraction took hold and the smile danced on my face.  After 45 minutes I was mostly alone, scanning the vast opening in front of me to try to keep the trail in check with the two guys that were just a bit ahead, bad idea. Fall #1 happened somewhere around mile 6-7; at this point I was already feeling slightly drained. I was frustrated to say the least, no I was angry – I could tell my body was starting to fade, but my will power to keep at my current pace over took. Trip, slip, tumble, lose the trail: my pattern for the next 30-45 minutes and I was over it.

As much as I’ve raced and as tired as I’ve gotten, quitting has never been in my vocabulary. This was the first time I wanted to raise the flag in surrender and be rescued by helicopter and taken to the snacks at the end. Then I realized that I wasn’t getting out of this and it was a chance to challenge and strengthen myself mentally in a brand new way. So after taking a breath and a moment to refocus, I found my rhythm again and found the joy in the sport I’m so fond of. For the next 40 minutes I focused on my own steps, not those of the people ahead of me or behind me, but those right where I was. Taking steps slower if I needed to and allowing myself the freedom to push just as long as I could be safe and stay upright, and then I used the space to think of EVERYTHING I had to be thankful for. It made all the difference.

After 2 hours I was exhausted physically and mentally but I could hear the finish in the distance as people were cheering and music was blaring. I was “home free”, and at the end after hugging my friends and husbands necks – gratitude.

A few things I learned over those few hours:

  1. You have to stop focusing on where other people are, or you might face plant in the place you are.
  2. Just because you’ve done training in one way, doesn’t mean you can easily adapt to any circumstance. You have to train your mind, body, and soul in whatever goals you hope to achieve.
  3. I should run trails more often and always carry a handheld water bottle!

Thank you to Peak Racing Events (Tony & Lisa), Big Peach Running Co, Pure Kneads (can I get a whoop, whoop for gluten free peanut butter sandwiches at the end), Quest Nutrition, Nuun Hydration, Allison Lerer, Wade Coleman, Chris Dillon, and Jennifer Butz for everything you brought to the table as sponsors, hosts, and teammates!

And to my #1, my crew chief, and partner thanks for helping me through the highs and lows and letting our dogs have some fun in the process!

Trails taught me a lot, and I will be back!

Be thankful today friends.

Jordan

 

 

 

Jumping In.

A few weeks ago a writing job that had been presented to me during the summer had fallen through. Since initially saying yes it had been on my mind even though it wasn’t scheduled to start until Q4. As the weeks had passed the pull to stay clear of “putting all my eggs in that basket” had been pressing, and thankfully I listened.

Now a few weeks past the disappointment, and post the realities of big transitions, the cloudiness of life is starting to clear and fresh breath is becoming the lead story. Of course this really is the best place to be heading into the holidays, but what does that really mean? As I continue on in a season of uncertainty, the feelings of being bogged down by this that and the other have been replaced with new opportunities and are bringing excitement with the added capacity to be able to jump in.

Right now: it means staying in my part time project management/administrator role, but as always, the Lord has been gracious to breathe new life into the familiar. On a new, new front it looks like starting my studies for getting a nutrition certification After the past couple years of a physical and mental health battle in the realm of nutrition, the passion is burning to dive into the opportunity to learn and provide a safe space for people to learn and grow towards the best versions of them! If you have any questions please feel free to comment or email me : jordan@fuelingherforward.com .

While I’m studying, and during the holidays I will be posting some of my favorite holiday healthies (yes they exist) along with some of the most fun ways to stay active and enjoy during the coming season + a mental health perspective on it all. Per usual I’ll be referencing Run Fast. Eat Slow regularly!

And then you probably ask about running. Next Saturday is the Cochran Mill Trail Race and then my calendar is clear as in zero, zilch, nada, although I will be volunteering for the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon. There is something beautiful about endless opportunities, but a peace about zero expectation. For five years I have pushed hard to be the best runner, teammate, and woman that I can be in order to be able to continue to step into the immeasurably more and glorify Him through all of it. He get’s ALL the praise for allowing me to reach so many of the goals that have been set, and recover from the hard and low points. So the future is exciting even though uncertain.

Bring it on!

What do you have coming up? Is there anything you are excited about? A goal you are aiming to reach before the end of the year?

All for now,

Jordan