What’s in Your Body Wash?

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When was the last time you checked the ingredients on the back of your favorite body wash or hand soap? If it wasn’t recently, you may want to take another look.

Just last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned some over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body wash products, saying they’re no more effective than soap and water and could actually cause long-term harm. This affects around 2,100 products or roughly 40 percent of the over-the-counter antibacterial soap market that contains any one of the 19 ingredients that are part of the ban.

As an avid antibacterial user, I’ve been cleaning out my cupboards and replacing these products with natural and organic items. After all, what I put in, on or around my body isn’t just affecting me anymore; I want our son to grow up happy and healthy, too.

So after scouting out options for washing up safely, I’ve got a few new favorites I wanted to share:

Lavido Intoxicating Body Wash ($24 via Lavido.com)

True to its name, this body wash has a deep, musky scent that is mysteriously addictive and will add a luxurious feel to your regular shower routine. Maybe it’s the distilled Patchouli and Vanilla Oil extracts, or it could be the purified mineral-rich waters from the Sea of Galilee, which have been used since Roman times for their healing and recuperative powers. Either way, I can’t get enough of this body wash.

Scientific Organics Citrus Kombucha Body Wash ($44 via emerginC.com)

Kombucha is the latest yogi health-drink craze, so why not see if it does as much good on the body as it does in it? Said to help improve skin tone, moisture and radiance, this body wash is formulated with fermented tea, grape stem cells, aloe and spirulina — a veritable “super-food” cocktail for skin in need of some TLC. Science aside, I love its energizing scent and the fact that it’s 100 percent natural.

Art Naturals Anti-Fungal Body & Foot Wash ($18 via ArtNaturals.com)

Natural Oils have been used for centuries due to their antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties. This body wash just so happens to be the best of both worlds: Not only does it contain a powerful, yet gentle blend of Tea Tree, Jojoba, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary Oil to help aid common skin conditions, but it also effectively removes dirt, excess oils, fungus and bacteria. Put simply, it’s a morning shower must-have.

Have you made the move to all-natural skincare products — why or why not? 

10 Fourth Trimester Life-Savers

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Back when Wyatt was just a bump in my belly, I shared a few favorite firstsecond and third trimester essentials that helped us make our way through pregnancy together.

But have you heard of the fourth trimester? It’s the concept that the first three months after birth are quite literally an extension of life in the womb for baby.

And I’m not gonna lie: At times, it can be a rocky transition for everyone involved. Not only does baby need lots of attention, but mama also deserves extra TLC during recovery and those sleepless nights and days spent getting to know the newest family member.

As always, everyone’s experience will be a bit different, but these are just a few of the things that I found helpful for easing into motherhood. And by ‘easing in’ I mean jumping with both feet into the deep end. 

1. Nursing Tanks

If you’re nursing or pumping, not only will you need quick access, but you’ll also need something pretty forgiving as you change size throughout the day. Consider the Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Cotton Camis part of your new mom uniform; at $20 a pop, they’re as budget-friendly as they are baby-friendly.

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2. Support Tights

Another staple in your new mom wardrobe? A pair of tummy-friendly tights, which are both comfortable and versatile as your body shape-shifts in the first few months postpartum. One of my favorites were Blanqi’s Highwaist Support Leggings, which not only help provide some extra core support but also come in handy when you’re between sizes.

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3. Nipple Butter

Whether you use it for nursing or as a lube with your breast pump, Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Natural Nipple Butter is the best stuff out there — period. It’s from a local company, it’s all-natural and it works, so do yourself a favor and stockpile this stuff by the case before baby comes.

earth-mama-angel-baby-natural-nipple-butter4. Breast Pump

Speaking of your ‘ladies,’ if you’re thinking of breastfeeding and/or pumping you’ll want something to get the job done without too much…collateral damage, shall we say? After trying the Medela Freestyle, which was awesomely small and portable, I ultimately settled on the Spectra Baby S1. It came highly recommended from a girlfriend, and I found it to be just as effective, but a lot gentler.

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5. Pumping Bra

If you’re a woman, you’re no stranger to multitasking. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’re no stranger to multitasking while pumping. Enter the Simple Wishes D*Lite Hands-Free Pumping Bra, which is adjustable in size to sustain a perfect fit over time as a nursing mother’s size changes. Brilliant!

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6. Nursing Pads

And while we’re on the subject of milk, when it comes in you’ll want to be prepared with some disposable nursing pads to keep from leaking through your shirts, on the sheets…you get the point. But after your supply evens out, I’ve found these washable breast pads to be more comfortable and better at wicking away moisture.

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7. Robe & Comfy PJ’s

One of the best maternity investments I made in terms of cost-per-wear was this robe and nightgown set. I can’t say enough about how handy a lightweight cotton robe with pockets can be for keeping you warm when you’re up at all hours, as well as having handy pockets to stack bottles, pacifiers, burp-cloths, etc.

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8. Amazon Prime

Another invaluable investment? An Amazon Prime subscription, which is worth it’s weight in gold. From diapers to developmental toys and everything else in between, it’s a necessity in those early days when you need something — stat! — and can’t get out to the store. Simply search, click and it’ll be on your doorstep in two days.

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9. Meals

I cooked exactly two freezer meals and one batch of lactation cookies before Wyatt came, thinking that’d tide us over until I get back on my feet and had time to get in the kitchen again. HA! Little did I know we’d come to rely heavily on frozen foods, take-out, meal delivery services and the kindness of friends and family in those first few months. Have a friend with a new baby and want to know how you can help? Bring over a warm meal, and they’ll be forever indebted to you.

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10. Thank You Cards

I’m old-school and believe that any gift you receive deserves a nice handwritten thank-you. Save time — and your sanity — by stamping and putting your return address on a bunch of cards before baby arrives. That way you can write them as you go, ensuring you’ll get ’em out the door in a timely manner and also remember who sent what when the time comes.

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*Bonus: Netflix Subscription

Finally, no list of postpartum must-haves would be complete without the mother of all necessities during those first few months: a Netflix subscription. When you’re up at all hours night after night, it’s either stare at the ceiling while feeding or immerse yourself in a season — or three — of your favorite show (my choice was Orange is the New Black). So sink into the couch together and enjoy some quality cuddle time!

Mamas, what were your fourth trimester must-haves? 

Fave Fix: XShot Pro Camera Extender

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It’s true — the running joke among bloggers and social media-philes is that if it didn’t get posted, tweeted or shared (gasp!) it may not have happened. This is particularly true when it comes to workouts with the fitness crowd.

But in all seriousness, I typically carry my phone for safety reasons (particularly when running), and sometimes it is nice to have a camera on hand to document breathtaking scenery, grab a group shot or capture the adrenaline high after conquering an especially tough challenge.

That’s where my trusty GoPro usually comes in. While I absolutely love it, I’ll admit it hasn’t gotten as much use as I would like because my arm length (or lack thereof) is limiting and can make it tough to get the exact shot I want.

Enter the XShot Pro Camera Extender ($64.95), which is a must-have accessory for any GoPro owner (in fact, they’ve got a whole series of Go Pro Poles). Not only does it help make a great camera even more versatile, but it also give you a lot of room to get creative and work all kinds of new angles.

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Here’s the lowdown, from my perspective:

Features: 

  • Aluminum GoPro mount with thumbscrew
  • Aluminum tripod mount included for other cameras
  • XShot Mount rotates 360°
  • Compatible with HERO, HERO2, HERO3, HERO3+ and HERO4 cameras
  • Compatible with other action cameras (e.g., Sony, Ion, JVC)
  • Compatible with any compact camera

Pros:

  • SUPER easy to use — attach, adjust angle, extend, aim and smile 🙂
  • Compatible with many different kinds of cameras — pick your poison!
  • Durable, yet secure — aircraft-grade aluminum, over-sized wrist strap, non-slip rubber grip
  • Pocket-friendly — weighs less than seven ounces, collapses to seven inches long and extends to 32 inches
  • Gives new life to your GoPro…the picture options and angles are pretty much endless!

Cons:

  • Another thing to carry — not as run-friendly for the “naked” runner, but would fit well in a trail vest
  • Swapping camera mounts (GoPro/universal) requires an Allen wrench, which can be a bit tedious while on-the-go
  • Maximum camera weight is listed at 1.25 pounds, so while you can technically put any kind on it…there is a limit
  • Mixed feedback on underwater and saltwater use (I haven’t tested it that way, though, so do your research before buying!)

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But the best part? I went from having to grab haphazard shots like this (taken almost exactly a year ago!)…

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To being able to take fun pictures like this with more people — and scenery — in them!

Well, eventually…but you get the point. While Baby H has me sidelined from my usual trail adventures at the moment, I’m itching to hit the track with the LUNA ladies next month and get some great images of them doing their thing. 

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What’s your favorite piece of equipment for capturing moments — and action shots — worth sharing? I’d love to hear other recommendations below! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the XShot Pro for free as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication. All opinions are my own. 

10 Third Trimester Life-Savers

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After sharing my first trimester and second trimester essentials, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty with a few items that are helping to get me through the home stretch of pregnancy — aka the third trimester.

As always, everyone’s experience varies, but I thought it’d be fun to share a few of my favorite items for making life just a little bit easier during these final few weeks…

1. Maternity Swimsuit

One thing I’ve discovered this trimester is that the amount of time you’ll want to spend in the pool is directly proportional to how far along you are in your pregnancy, which is why a good maternity swimsuit is essential.

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I sized up and purchased this one from Coeur Sports for days I want to let the belly breathe, but also received an unused hand-me-down Liz Lange maternity swimsuit (mine pictured above) from a friend that’s been my go-to on cold mornings or days when I want a little more modesty at the pool.

2. Chiropractic Work

As your body preps itself to be able to push your baby out, hormones help loosen related ligaments; the upside is that this helps make room, but the downside is that it’s super easy to throw your spine and pelvis out of proper alignment.

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Based on a recommendation from my prenatal movement coach, I’ve recently started regular sessions with a local practitioner who specializes in prenatal care — not only has it worked wonders on my tweaky SI joint, but I’m also hoping it’ll encourage Baby H to move into a head-down position.

3. Acupuncture

Even before pregnancy, I was all about exploring alternative medicines, but it’s especially important now if it could help me achieve optimal health while Baby H is developing at his or her different stages of growth and differentiation.

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I’ve been going about once a month for the past year, but now that I’m in the third trimester I made the switch to another local resource who specializes in women’s health in the hopes that I can bake this little bun well and, maybe just maybe, persuade Baby H to flip.

4. TUMS

Almost every pregnant woman’s best friend, you’ll be popping these puppies like candy come the last few months — or as soon as your expanding uterus starts to encroach upon precious stomach space.

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Of course, you don’t want to overdo it so be sure to discuss any supplementation with your doctor first; but assuming you get the go ahead, take as directed to help soothe your poor esophagus from the retaliation of your squashed stomach.

5. Hypnobirth App

Created by an experienced practicing Midwife and hypnotherapist, this app was recommended by a friend who has been using it to help keep herself calm, relaxed and confident as delivery day draws nearer.

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And because these last few weeks seem to be flying by, I’m making more of an effort to be mindful and enjoy the moment — to take time to sit down, do nothing and just be with my growing baby without distractions — so we’ll see if this helps!

6. All. The. Butters.

This was a second trimester must-have, but it’s well worth mentioning again now that the belly is swelling to epic proportions and starting to itch and pull in odd places.

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I’ve been alternating Farmaesthetics Nourishing Herbal CreamBooda Butter and The Spoiled Mama’s Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks in heavy rotation after each shower in the hopes that they’ll help keep my skin elastic enough to accommodate Baby H as s/he packs on the pounds.

7. All. The. Fiber.

As regular as I was before and during the majority of my pregnancy, there are days now when my digestive system comes to a grinding halt — yep, there’s no such thing as TMI when we’re talking pregnancy — so the best defense is a good offense when it comes to preventing constipation.

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When I’m not popping probiotics, prunes or other high-fiber whole foods, I’ll occasionally sneak a pack of my new favorite treat when I’m craving sweets but want to try to steer clear of the super unhealthy stuff.

8. Support Gear

Like we need another piece of clothing to struggle into while pregnant, right?! But hear me out here…support gear is highly underrated when it comes to keeping yourself comfortable while dragging around an extra 25-35 pounds in your midsection.

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I’m still using my Blanqi BODYSTYLER® Maternity Underbust Belly Support Tanks daily (use my referral link to get a code for 20% off!), and even though I’m not running, I’ve started using my heavy-duty maternity support belt to help keep things reinforced during walks and other activities.

9. Mama-to-Be Teas

When it comes time to kick up those (now-swollen) feet at the end of the day, I can’t think of a better way to relax than with a good book and a hot cup of tea.

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Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Mama-To-Be Sampler just so happens to be one of my favorites — not only is is a local Oregon company, but it’s also got a box of its four best-selling varieties geared specifically for us queasy, heartburn-prone, anxiety-ridden and/or waiting-for-the-big-day preggos.

10. Maternity Activewear

You may have already seen my post on Mumberry, which makes super-legit maternity activewear, thanks to the brand’s signature Mumband™, which is built into all of their apparel and provides crucial belly and back support.

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But another staple in my gym-going attire has been Ingrid & Isabel’s Active Legging with Crossover Panel, which was recommended by another pregnant friend; these pants are beyond comfy with thick material, a good fit and a stomach panel that stays put — definitely worth checking out!

What are your must-haves for the third trimester of pregnancy? Any other tips to share?

Fave Fix: Feetures! Elite Socks

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What do you do when you’re not able to run at the moment, let alone walk at a very brisk pace without getting winded or causing contractions?

You geek out over running accessories in the hopes that testing some new gear will help keep you from trying to distract yourself by cranking up the resistance during your current low-intensity, low-impact workouts.

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Which is why we’re talking socks today, particularly the Feetures! Elite Collection ($14.99 per pair), the brand’s most technically advanced product (yep, they had me at “targeted compression”).

Designed to provide maximum support in all the right places, these socks also feature a construction that reduces irritation and discomfort (i.e. protection from blisters), as well as material that wicks moisture to keep feet cool and dry.

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I tried out a pair from each end of the cushioning spectrum — one with light cushioning (in “Ultraviolet”) and the other with maximum cushioning (in “Atlantis”).

And no, not all of Feetures!’ socks come in such bright colors; they just knew I’m a sucker for loud workout gear, so they sent me two fun colorways to check out. 

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Since I have a pretty narrow heel, I prefer thick running socks; what I love about this max cushioning style is that the tab at the back is nice and cushy (see picture below) to act as both a buffer and a barrier as your feet inevitably shift in your shoes.

They held up nicely during a long walk on the treadmill in which I played with speeds and incline to try them from different angles, so I can only assume they’ll perform just as well once I’m back running out on the roads post-baby.

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As for the pair with light cushioning, they’re perfect for cross-training — so I tried them out during a bootcamp session, as well as the walk to and from class.

What I like about these is that they’re slightly less bulky, yet still provide plenty of protection thanks to an anatomical design in which there’s extra cushioning in high-impact areas (see the picture below where I flipped it inside out to illustrate), as well as seamless construction that virtually eliminates any irritation.

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Sure, “A sock is a sock,” you may be saying to yourself. But you’ll beg to differ the first time you have to cut a run short — or grit your teeth and tough it out if you’re far from your home/car — due to a hot spot that develops into a painful blister.

So do yourself a favor, whether your’re ramping up workouts, still enjoying your off-season, doing some pre-training planning for the year or simply sidelined (like me!) for the next few months, and take a moment to inventory and update your outdated running attire and accessories.

You’d be surprised at how quickly technology changes and how much more pleasant workouts can be when your gear works with you rather than against you!

When’s the last time you re-vamped your workout gear?

Treating Winter Skincare Woes

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about pregnancy so far it’s that there are a lot of constants — fluctuating hormones, escalating excitement, random discomforts and exponential expansion, just to name a few. Oh, and the fact that just when you think you’ve got things figured out, your body will throw you for a loop.

Case in point: Schizophrenic skin.

I’m pretty good about trying to meet my daily quota of water to keep the inside of my body (and Baby H) hydrated. But despite Portland’s nonstop-soggy climate, the humidity in the air wasn’t enough; our cold winter weather was still managing to wreak havoc on my now-sensitive skin (read: dry patches and red blotches on my face, along with chapped hands from frequent hand-washing during cold & flu season).

Since so many skincare ingredients are no-nos for preggos, I went in search of a few new products that would not only be safe, but also ultra-nourishing. I ended up revamping my regimen with the following, which I wanted to share in case you’re experiencing similar skin maladies this season:

Remove Makeup: Wipe face gently with Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes with Cotton Extract to remove dirt, oil and makeup.

Cleanse: Massage Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser into damp skin fro 20 seconds, then rinse with warm water to hydrate and help balance skin.

Moisturize: Apply Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk to clean, slightly-damp face (morning and night) to mend freaked-out skin.

Treat: Slather on good ole Mentholatum Ointment for chapped lips and Farmaesthetics Hand to Heel Softening Salve on cracked hands, heels and ashy elbows.

Prevent: Alternate Farmaesthetics Nourishing Herbal Cream with The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter and Booda Butter to keep belly itchiness at bay and help prevent stretch marks.

Pamper: Spritz pillow with Earth Mama Angel Baby Morning Wellness Spray for aromatherapy effects, soak swollen feet with Farmaesthetics Field Lavender Solar Salt Mineral Bath, soothe tense muscles with Farmaesthetics Deep Lavender Rub and ease anxiety with Farmaesthetics Lemon Balm Remedy Oil.

Note: As it turns out, Farmaesthetics has a special New & Nursing Mothers Gift Set, which effectively kills many birds with one stone (i.e. ALL the Farmaesthetics products mentioned about are included), so I’d suggest checking it out.

Not only because you can sample a smorgasbord of products at once, but also because all six formulations come in convenient travel-sized containers — perfect for babymooning or in your hospital bag!

What are your best tips for treating winter skincare woes? 

Fave Fix: Energems Chocolate Energy

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Normally I’m not a huge proponent of energy supplements. No judgment; I just prefer to go about things the old fashioned way to try to keep my energy levels steady throughout the day — e.g. healthy eating, ample sleep and regular exercise.

But…

I’m not so rigid that I’m opposed to an afternoon pick-me-up (usually in the form of caffeine) on those rare days where I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open around 3 pm. I’m also not opposed to the occasional treat, which is usually in the form of chocolate.

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So when I caught wind of Energems, which combines dark chocolate with Vitamins B and D, plus a “clean” energy boost from caffeine, my ears perked up. I’ve used caffeine-enhanced gels and chews with success during races, so why not see if something similar can help me handle a sweet craving and manage the dreaded afternoon slump?

But first things first: I draw the line at putting random chemicals in my body, so I was interested to see if the nutritional information stacked up against the product’s claims. And in case you’re wondering (like I was), L-Theanine is a chemical derived from tea leaves and mushrooms; it’s meant to promote a relaxing effect, which keeps any caffeine-related jitters at bay.

Note: There’s not much information regarding its safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation, plus I’m trying to limit my caffeine and sugar intake right now, so I only tested one Energem at a time. Luckily, Ben was happy to help play guinea pig for the full dose!

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The amount of caffeine in one serving is equivalent to a large cup of coffee. But I like that you can customize the amount with one, two or three Energems to get only the boost you want, nothing more.

Why the vitamins, though? Well, B vitamins help support physical energy, and vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because it’s supposed to help support a healthy mental state. That’s especially helpful during the dreary winters here in the Pacific Northwest!

As far as taste goes, while Energems aren’t candy, they reminded me a bit of your typical coated chocolate treats. And the flavors are great — Dark Chocolate is for purists, Mint Dark Chocolate is refreshing without overpowering, and Berry-Flavored Dark Chocolate tasted nice and natural.

Since I only took one of each flavor at a time, I didn’t experience as much of an energy boost, although I did enjoy the fact that I could get a sweet treat with the addition of some helpful antioxidants and vitamins. Ben, on the other hand, took a full dose each time and reported good results — he wasn’t bouncing off the walls by any means, but liked the flavors and the feeling of alertness.

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I don’t intend to use Energems regularly because I usually get my daily dose of caffeine with my morning coffee and I happen to think that the best way to combat fatigue in the long-run is to move more, eat well and rest properly. But I’ll be putting a bottle in my purse for when I’m on-the-go and want a quick pick-me-up that’s both convenient and will hopefully prevent me from making poor choices out of fatigue (like swinging through the drive-through for a milkshake!).

It’s also something I may try later at full dose post-pregnancy for shorter events, like 5ks and 10ks, when I want a smooth burst of energy without a crash. I’m not sure how practical they are for during the event (stuffing a baggie of them down my sports bra is a likely a no-no due to the melt factor), but they’re a lot more convenient than a cup of coffee at the start line!

How do you handle those occasional afternoon energy slumps? Would you try a healthier alternative to energy drinks for a mid-day pick-me-up?

Disclaimer: I received complementary product to try. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Kinetic Fix!