Thoughts on EnergyBits and Spirulina

Update –

I have been using EnergyBits now for a number of weeks.  My wife and I have also added RecoveryBits into our routines as well.  Both products are 100% algae (EB is 100% spirulina and RB is 100% chlorella).  If you’d like to learn more about these products you can visit http://www.energybits.com/.  Remember, it’s not so much a supplement as it is a “FOOD”.  Algae is beginning to receive a lot of buzz in the fitness and athlete community.

If you’d like to try a sample please reach out to me.  I am now an EnergyBits Ambassador and you can use my discount code “PersonalReboot” for a 20% discount!

 

I previously mentioned that about 8 weeks ago or so, my wife made some very dramatic and significant changes to her life.  Out of an interest in health and better quality living, she made the decision to not just go “vegan”, but “raw vegan”.  Over the next 6 weeks she completely changed her dietary approach and her view on fitness.  From an activity standpoint, she is really using a Tim Ferriss 4-HourBody-ish approach of “Minimal Effective Dose”, or the smallest increment needed to make the largest proportional impact.  Using a simple bodyweight regimen of exercises and some kettlebell and dumbell work, she has completely transformed her body in a very short period of time. Among the most significant improvements has been her fasting blood sugar levels first thing in the AM (dropped about 100 points on average).  Her diet has probably had the greatest impact, not just on her re-composition project, but on my nutrition as well.

Around this same time, I was deeply immersed in “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll.  I’m not prepared to go 100% vegan, but the science and the results are clear – a plant-based diet (or a diet that is plant-heavy) can be a tremendous advantage in the life of an endurance athlete, as well as a casual recreational athlete.

One night in bed we were both reading and she asked me if I had read anything or heard anything about algae as a superfood.  Rich Roll mentions it a few times in Finding Ultra, and I have numerous Twitter friends that were finding success using a product called “EnergyBits”.  After a 2 minute discussion we decided that I would ping EnergyBits to see if I could grab some samples.  After some Twitter messages some email with their Brand Manager, my free samples were on the way.

Energybits

The samples arrived and we plowed through them quickly, but our initial experience was positive.  We both felt heightened alertness, especially in the AM.  I used them as a pre-workout fuel and I felt as if my energy levels sustained well, but the sample size was way too small to go from.  We then decided to place an order for a full bag o’bits, which represents a pretty significant investment, but for a 30 day supply being used by two people, we felt it was necessary to get a decent idea of how good this stuff was.

So after some waiting, the package came.  I will say that the folks at EnergyBits really go above-and-beyond when it comes to marketing collateral in the package!  It’s obvious that they are in the process of creating a space in the performance food and nutraceutical space, and their story is going to be a different narrative to different folks (casual joggers, crossfitters, runners, endurance athletes, elite, weekend warriors, etc).  I certainly understand this, as I work in Marketing and I know how tough it is to evangelize a new product.

I’ve been keeping careful track of how I feel before, during and post workout, and while my wife and I are both trying new things in terms of diet and programs, we were able to remove a lot of the rotating variables to get a good read on EnergyBits’ performance.  So here are my thoughts after using the bits for a couple of weeks:

  • Spirulina algae is really one of the most ‘perfect’ foods on Earth.  It’s highly sustainable, is the richest source of protein in the world, has more beta carotene, more antioxidants, more iron than any other food, and the micronutrients are highly bioavailable (easily absorbed).
  • The slight ‘fish food’ odor is not totally a turn-off.  You swallow these tiny pill bits with water and there is no aftertaste.  In fact the smell reminds me of the old TetraMin fish food from the aquarium store!
  • It’s obvious that there is a very real and noticeable uptick in my workouts when I take 30 bits 10 minutes before kicking off.  I don’t have lab data to back this up, but I feel as if my lactic acid burn was delayed on hill climbs on the bike, and I could push much harder in the pool without feeling completely smashed.
  • I can’t attest to this, but my wife reports that her in-between meal hunger is squashed when she takes EnergyBits.
  • My wife also said that taking 5-8 bits prior to bedtime helped deep sleep come on quicker.  I conk out easily after reading at bedtime, but for her it’s tougher.

I can easily say with confidence that these little wonders will be used heavily by yours truly, and everyone in my household.  We’ve given my daughters EnergyBits in the morning with breakfast as a little vitamin-booster, and they ask for them every morning now.  As my triathlon training program evolves into longer and more intense training sessions (again my goal this year is to not just survive but complete ROCK my 70.3 Labor Day weekend), EnergyBits will be in my tri-bag and in my FuelBelt.

run-better-with-bits

All in all, thumbs way up on this.  I’m generally oblivious to the way supplements and products “make me feel” for some reason.  I need about 1000 mg of ibuprophen in order to take the edge off of anything, and continuous cups of coffee really don’t wire me up, but EnergyBits provided a noticeable change for the better. 

I have applied to become an EnergyBits Ambassador, however I purchased my supply (beyond my free samples) on my dime.  I do not, as of yet, have the ability to take orders, but I will update my blog and Twitter when I do.

Slumping and feeling ‘meh’ – time to rally

So I very well know that nobody wants to read a “sad sack” post – “Woe is me” thing…

It’s true though – I traveled most of the last week and aside from two awesome runs (one in Baton Rouge and another around the lake in Austin) I was completely buried with travel and work-related stress.  Things are moving into the springtime “insane” period at work, and my schedule will become more and more difficult as we come closer to summertime. Additionally, without going into details the subtle dynamics of my job are becoming more complex and that is bringing about more stress than is typical.  All I can do is put my head down and plow through doing my best work and know that everything should fall into place.

I haven’t been in the pool since last weekend (4/6), and aside from a quick 30 minute spin over the weekend I haven’t been on the bike at all.  The worst part – I haven’t felt that burning, that crushing desire to get out there and move!  That bothers me.  Actually it pisses me off, as I know I’m just settling for bleh-excuses and meh-laziness.

Now this Boston-thing on top of it all – I’m incredibly angry and saddened.  They say that if you want to see humanity at its most positive, visit the finish line at a marathon.  Watching the coverage is heart-breaking, but also uplifting at the same time.

This must become my catalyst today.  I have to move things forward in a positive way.

Breakthrough Swim

I wanted to share a quick post about how important it is to engage others, group up, and find mutual support in your training.  As triathletes, this sport is widely an individual endeavor, however the preparation for this individual pursuit can (and I would argue SHOULD) be undertaken with others.

There is safety in numbers, you know...

There is safety in numbers, you know…

Last summer, soon after my friend Derek inspired me to consider taking my running for fitness’ sake to a new level via triathlon, I learned that there was a Northern Delaware triathlon team locally called the Delaware Swim and Fitness TriDawgs.  While we have over 250 members, the team is really comprised of a smaller group of very active and dedicated age-group athletes.  Several members are 140.6 multi-time finishers, and some have qualified and raced Kona, in addition to shorter course distances as well.  I participated in some Open Water Swim sessions last summer in preparation for my September and October sprints – but this spring I’ve been taking part in some organized masters swim sessions with the team.  These sessions have been by “invite only”, since we only have 6 lanes and 90 minutes of time, but I’ve learned that not only can I hang with the team, but I’m also pretty fast – or faster than I thought I was anyway!

This past week, I pressed myself hard and did a speed/power session that was shared by one of my Twitter friends:

BluebTweet

I did this same workout, but I pushed HARD!  I maxxed it out, to the point where between the 3rd and 4th sprint I puked in the pool gutter, and then kept going.

Thursday and Friday were recovery days – my upper body really felt sore, especially with all the pulling with paddles.  One thing to know – be careful about technique when doing pull drills with paddles, since the added resistance could cause undue pressure on your shoulders.

When we show up for Saturday practice, we do not know what to expect specifically.  When I saw “XX x XXX on X:XX” I knew something was up.  Once I heard the “Aw crap” mutterings, I thought “This can’t be good…”

We did our warmup, then some drills, then the coach split us up evenly across all 6 lanes. When I say “evenly”, I immediately sensed that each lane had a balance of top, middle tier, and developing swimmers.  I was the low man on the proverbial totem pole in my lane.

Our mission – (10) 100 yard sprints FULL OUT – balls to the wall – on 5 minutes.  I initially thought “On five minutes – this shouldn’t be too bad”, but I was mistaken.  For the first couple of 100s, everything was fine – I was breathing hard coming into the last 25, but I was OK.  Then in the 3rd and 4th repeat, the wall smacked in the face.  My arms didn’t want to move, and my pace went from 1:20 to 1:32-ish.  I felt like quitting, but the swimmers were cheering each other on and making a big deal of it.  Every minute a new swimmer left, and when they came into the wall to turn for the back-50 we raised the roof.

At that point, all I could do is just go with it.  It hurt like a mother-effer, but it wasn’t going to get worse, I wasn’t going to die, and if I push through it, I’ll have accomplished something.

My 100s dropped back down into the low 1:20s.  I was suddenly swimming at a level and intensity I’ve never approached before, and I was in some pain and suffering but I was dealing.

The thought crossed my mind that if I can become comfortable with finding that limit, and pushing slightly beyond while living on the edge of the suffering, I might learn how to manage that pain and find it within myself to win.  When I mean “win” I mean just winning against myself.

So my average was 1:25 over the (10) 100s.  As a point of comparison, I averaged 1:36 in my last five intervals on Wednesday night (when I puked in the gutter).

Sad but a little true.

Sad but a little true.

This drives the point home to me – I need to start running and biking with others.  If my level is actually this much higher than I thought it was in the pool, then I’m assuming that similar gains in the other segments may be found.

When you have had the opportunity to work out with a team or group, have you found another level?  After going back “solo” were you able to maintain?

On coaching, family involvement, and nutrition

To this point, my learning process in triathlon training has been largely self-discovered.  I’ve read a ton, attended webinars, subscribed to many newsletters, periodicals, and YouTube channels and have become pretty knowledgeable on a lot of the basic training methodologies.  I generally pick things up quickly when I encounter new areas of study, and I normally immerse myself in a very compulsive and “addicted” way.

My local triathlon team is “coached” but not specifically so.  Our coach leads a weekly Saturday AM swim workout, and we have optional organized Monday night track workout, Tuesday night group ride, and Wednesday night open water swims come summer time.  Our team is fed a weekly training newsletter, and we organize well at key races in the mid-Atlantic area.  These resources have been great to help me learn the basics, but lately I’ve been wondering if I should engage with a dedicated coach?

I attended a webinar with the founder of TriDot – this is a virtual coaching program built on data analytics and real training outcomes as opposed to theory.  Attendees of the webinar were invited to “apply” to enroll in a “Free-for-Feedback” program.  In short you commit to an initiation fee and then two months’ worth of training limited guidance in exchange of providing your own personal qualitative and quantitative feedback in set intervals.  If all of the commitments are met you receive a refund equal to the initiation fee and first 2 months.

I’m not sure how I feel about this – after all its a significant financial commitment for a system that sounds sensible and rooted in real outcomes, but I don’t think there’s quite enough coaching engagement for the price.  I’m happy I “qualified” (they have some basic requirements that the training candidates must meet) but I’m not certain its for me.

I think a lot of my immediate gains for this season will be pretty low-hanging fruit.  First, I need to build my overall fitness.  The one thing I want to change is training for POWER before ENDURANCE.  They say that the power thresholds become limiters down the line when endurance is built.  If your power is limited, no amount of lower zone training will make you faster, just more aerobically efficient.  I think I better understand this now, and I’m going to take the next 4 weeks to maximize power in all phases of training.

I have the power - bitches!

I have the power – bitches!

On the family side of things, my wife has really been a source of inspiration for me.  In the last month, my wife has made some profound changes – namely she’s not only gone vegan but also “Raw until 4pm”.  She has committed to yoga and strength training (doing something active every day), and has also began the practice of “trying something new at least once per week”.  It’s been incredibly inspiring to watch her discover new things, and it’s really brought us both closer together.  Not too mention, she’s lost 20 pounds in the last 30 days!

Our kids are also looking at the two of us for a positive example, and they are both asking to go outside and play more, considering more healthy food options (given their ages of 7 & 8 this is more OUR responsibility as parents), and just being more active and healthy.  We completed our winter swim team season, and they both came to me and ASKED to sign up for a kids’ triathlon.  I happened to find a good one at the end of this month that is well within their physical grasp, and they will be competing in respective 7-8 and 9-10 age groups.  We’ve had a great time getting outside when the weather cooperates and back in the pool!

Chip off the old block?  I hope so!

Chip off the old block? I hope so!

In watching my wife alter her diet – and by the way her fasting morning blood sugar has dropped about 100 points every day! – I’ve tried to make some changes in my own diet strategy.  I also recently completed Rich Roll’s book “Finding Ultra” – very much worth a read if you are an endurance athlete.  I’ve always found the word “Vegan” a little like the untouchable 3rd Rail – it typically comes with so many other social and political connotations (that I do not align with for the most part).  Still there are some great benefits to eating more like a vegan and achieving a better nutritional balance:

  1. I am eating WAY MORE veggies than ever before.  A self-confessed meat and potatoes guy, this has been a big adjustment for me, but it’s been a welcomed one.
  2. I have been having a green machine smoothie each morning for breakfast – heavy on the spinach, kale, avacado, green raw protein, coconut water, banana and pineapple.  I’ve been able to skip coffee most mornings!
  3. Eating more whole, unprocessed foods is causing me to be less hungry, and not stuff my face so much.  I still have lapses, but I’ve been pretty good.
  4. Gluten is pretty much gone from my diet at this point.  I won’t say I’m totally gluten-free, but I’m probably 85% there.  Gluten is an insidious bitch, and hides in all kinds of stuff you wouldn’t think it would be.
  5. I’ve been playing around with HerbaLife 24 products – specifically “Hydrate” and “Prolong”.  I’m going to do a full review on both sometime soon, but they work extremely well but have a couple of annoying aspects to them.  Plus they both are very expensive and not too much more effective than regular old G2 with a scoop of Blox for longer workout sessions.

All in all – my energy has been high, and I’ve been able to amp-up the intensity quite a bit.  I haven’t even begun my half iron program yet (20 weeks), but I’m ready to rock.

I think the vegan thing isn’t quite up my alley, but I do intend on getting closer to a better balance – plus I can’t envision a world where I would pass on bacon…

Sorry if this offends you...

Sorry if this offends you…

Yes...because Bacon!

Yes…because Bacon!