Best SELF Journal Review

About 6 months ago, a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Best SELF Journal, as they knew I was a firm believer in journaling, yet can’t always find the time (or at least that’s what I tell myself). Throughout both of my yoga teacher training courses I have found that journaling was a powerful tool in helping to sort through your thoughts and get important ones down on paper so you can better see them, feel them and just be with them. It might sound like kind of “woo woo” stuff, but what this converts to is a clearer mind, improved focus, and more powerful internal drive. This is because you can manage your thoughts instead of juggling a million of them all at once. Once you can identify the most important things you need to devote yourself to, you can channel more of your brainpower that way.

The SELF Journal has helped me find the time to journal, and to journal better than ever before. In just 5-10 minutes a day I was able to accomplish the most important parts of my journaling routine. Then if I had extra time in the day, I could spend longer going deeper into certain areas.

review of the best self journal

What is the Best Self Journal?

The Best Self daily journal is sort of like a mix between a planner and a journal. It’s designed so that you write in it every day but it will only the take 5-10 minutes each day. The creators of it took a deep dive into the world of self-motivation and productivity, to discover what the tricks and habits were that made some of the most successful people in the world so successful. With this information, they structured the layout of the book so that it helps stimulate self-motivation and increase productivity, by helping you get clear on your goals and appreciate what you have and what you have already accomplished. To be honest, the science and detailed behind it all are a bit beyond my full understanding, but the effects have been obvious.

We had an insanely busy 2016, with our honeymoon in Finland, spending time in Argentina, moving back to Canada from Chile, running our longest ultra marathon ever, and I switched to a new job. The stressors were everywhere, and some of them were big. Sure, deep down I knew it was all for the better, and that I truly wanted to do everything we were doing. But at times it was pretty hard to manage. Once I started with this journal, it made the world of difference. Yes, I was in fact more focused and productive at achieving my goals and getting things done. But even for the areas that I wasn’t able to influence or control, I found myself more content with their progress or how they were happening. It felt like I saw the world a bit clearer, even though that’s a bit of wish washy statement!

 

Best Self Pro’s

Simplicity

The things you write in the journal each day don’t have to be epic statements or super deep memoirs. It can be absolutely anything that you feel urged to write down. Sometimes you might be trying to work through a difficult problem in your life, so you dive deep into that. Other times you might be stressed because there are a million small errands to run before an upcoming trip. It’s that simple, you just let it flow. The effectiveness of it, is in the simplicity of it.

Time Commitment

Like I said before, I used to consider journaling as a longer process where I would devote an hour or more to it so that I could really get lost in the writing. This is not like that. It’s 5-10 minutes a day, and it makes a huge impact. We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule, and this is whole heartedly following that. The 20% of your thoughts to get 80% of the clarity. Like Tony Robbins once said, “If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, you don’t have a life.”

Consistency

Maybe it wasn’t designed for this. But after adopting the practice of writing in my journal every day, I started to leach on that newly built habit to try and build more. So I thought what other things could I do either immediately before or after, or even during the time I was writing in my journal. First, I started oil pulling, while I wrote. You’re not talking anyways, so why not swoosh some coconut oil around in your mouth to help whiten your teeth. Then after I became consistent in my oil pulling habit, I started doing some simple stretches while writing. Nothing extreme or exhausting. But sitting in pigeon pose or in a wide-legged straddle, would add 5-10 minutes each day of stretching. This one is still in progress, but I am still finding myself doing it more often than not, which is more than I used to!

 

Best Self Con’s

The con I have can not and will not ever be fixed or removed. That’s because it in itself is one of the hidden perks. In doing lots of traveling, there are always so many things to pack. The beauty of the technological era is that so many things are being made digital, that it is easy to bring more things along on your phone or computer. The Self journal, is not one of those things. It requires you to add on a small notebook to your packing list if you want to continue writing. Most of the time I still bring it, because I find the value it brings me is worth a little extra weight. But sometimes, it would be nice if there was an app. I know deep down, however, that pulling me away from the technology and putting pen to paper is almost a therapy it itself, so I guess things could be worse!:)

is the self journal worth it

 

Would We Recommend the Best Self Journal?

It really doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, what you’re job is, what your current stress levels are at, this is one of those tools that can help improve your life from terrible to a little less terrible or even great to a little more great. It doesn’t take any special skills or beliefs, simply to show up and write what’s on your mind. So in saying this, I can absolutely recommend to anyone wanting to find a little more productivity or clarity in their day to day lives, go check out the Best Self Journal now!

Muscle Roller Stick from Addaday | Product Review

For the past month we have been using the muscle roller stick from Addaday in our recovery routine to test out their unique roller stick design. We’ve tried a few different types of these sticks so will mention some comparable notes throughout this review. Bottom line though, if you train or exercise at any level that gives you tight muscles, we are huge advocates in preventative actions to maintain mobility and speed up recovery, and this roller stick is extremely effective at working through tight muscles!

pressure point tools for recovery

Add-A-Day | Technical Specs

The muscle roller stick we’ve been using is the “type C massage roller” and we have really found it to be a great middle ground for great effectiveness but still a reasonable size to toss in a gym bag or carry on luggage. The roller is designed with ‘gears’ which are essentially like small roller balls that dig deeper into a muscle or crevasse in your tissues than other rollers. We’ve tried using “the stick” that is popular in the running community, and can honestly say the Addaday GETS DEEPER!

The gears are also unique because they are textured to help break apart scar tissue in the muscles and are coated in what Addaday calls Surface Skin Technology, which to us seems sort of like a thin gentle rubber coating. (We’ll touch more on this further down) There is also one special gear that is called the pinpoint precision gear, and essentially its a smaller one that can dig into more finite areas of your body like your achilles, along your shin or your soleus. This is a nice feature, and comes on a number of the different Addaday roller sticks, because it allows more versatility with a single tool. Instead of having to use a lacrosse ball to get into this muscle, then a roller stick to work through another area and a third tool to hit other things, the Type C can really handle more than other sticks we’ve used.

recovery tools for runners

 

 

 

 

Addaday Roller Stick Pro’s

Size

As we mentioned before, the Type C is a great middle ground that still allows you to leverage some good pressure onto the muscles your rolling out, but the stick is small enough to tuck down in a corner of a carry on suitcase or even stuff into your backpack or hiking pack. We really like this because while we’re traveling or out camping, we are obviously still doing lots of activities and training, so it’s nice to always have a recovery tool with you.

“Gear” Design
roller stick for muscles

I’ve never seen rollers that offer this kind of multi-gear design, and it really opens up the opportunity to wrap a muscle or roll along two sides of a bone. The most prominent place I found this helping was along the back of my neck. Always having tight neck muscles, I love the way you can slot your spine in the middle of two gears, and let the gears dig deep into your muscles, while completely avoiding the spine.

Strong

 

Maybe you’re like us, maybe your not, but if you like to put a lot of pressure behind your self massage techniques, you need a roller that A) can handle the pressure, and B) has good enough handles you can leverage the pressure. The Type C checks off both these requirements, meaning you can dig deep with this one!

 

Addaday Roller Stick Drawbacks

This is pretty specific, so if you are a female this might not even apply to you. But when I use this roller on bare skin, being a male I have moderately hairy legs, so I find the Surface Skin Technology coating can pull a little on my leg hair. Most of the time the pain from my muscles far trumps this hair pull, but it is a drawback I thought was worth mentioning. The traction you gain from this coating is definitely nice when you’re rolling over clothing, and Melissa is a fan of it, but I have to share the warning, some guys might find it drags on their body hair a bit.

 

Would We Recommend the Addaday Muscle Roller Stick

It seems today that many companies have started designing and making their own version of a muscle roller stick, but before even thinking about the product itself, we admire the values that Addaday stands for and the innovation they’ve brought into their products. Their brand name simple refers to “Add a day to your life!” and they follow that off with, “Feel Better, Move More.” Their priorities are aligned with wellness, mobility, longevity, and this shines through in their products quite well.

The Type C muscle roller stick is absolutely a recovery tool that we would recommend, for athletes or for anyone who feels their mobility isn’t where it could be. We would strongly encourage people to also test out their other products, Addaday makes a incredible tool called the Boomerang Massager, that we tried out in the store and had our eyes rolling into the back of our heads!

Remember the name and go give their recovery tools a try, don’t you think it’s worth it if you can simply “Add a day to your life!”

Saxx Underwear | Product Review

This review will really only apply to half of you, but when it comes to athletics, I have found that the search for a comfortable and quality pair of underwear is not that easy. You need something that feels comfortable, but at the same time will stay comfortable while your active. Whether that’s a brutally hard cross training session, a 3-4 hour baseball game, or a 24hr+ ultra marathon. After about 3 years of trail and error, I’ve finally found a pair of boxers that can keep up with our ultra distance running. I came across Saxx Underwear earlier this summer and gave them a try during training, as we prepped for the Tahoe 200. With only a few weeks of testing them out, they were already #1 on my list to wear for the big race around lake tahoe. And I’m happy to say they went the distance. I wore a single pair of their ultra performance Quest 2.0 boxers for all 205.5 miles of that race. Over 90 hours of straight running, hiking, sleeping and sweating, and they remained comfortable from start to finish.

 

athletic boxers from Saxx

 

Now, I want to be transparent with my relationship with Saxx. Earlier in the year I wrote them asking how their products stood up during ultra marathons, and they said they’ve heard some people have used them for ultra races, but weren’t entirely sure if they would make it all the way through a 200 mile race. So they send me some of their boxers to try out, and if they felt good during training, to give them a shot during the 200 miler. This review is not a paid endorsement. I was simply overly impressed with the quality and comfort of Saxx’s products, that I thought I would share for all the other male ultra runners who might struggle with chaffing.

 

Which Saxx Underwear is Best for Running?

I tried out 4 different styles of their products, and the two that I found the best for running were both from their performance line. No surprise there! But I did find a difference in the two. Their Kinetic Boxers were great for any kind of run or workout where you’ll be pushing the throttle a bit harder. Interval runs, hill repeats, and other higher intensity runs like that, I liked the little bit of compression in them.

 

For longer training runs I preferred the Quest 2.0 performance pair. An athletic feeling pair of underwear, with a pretty decent level of comfort, but high level wicking, and absolutely no chaffing anywhere at anytime. This was the single pair of boxers I wore for the entire Tahoe 200 Ultra race.

 

best running underwear for men sax

Photo by: Scott Rokis

What Makes Saxx Awesome?

The biggest thing is probably the ballpark pouch as they call it. A hammock like pouch that “wrap” around the side of your valuable goods. This almost entirely prevents any contact with your inner leg, which is where the worst chaffing usually happens (at least for me). Along with this extra hold, the overall fit of the Saxx boxers feels extremely balanced between tightness and room to move. To explain to you just how well it keeps things in order, I have used my Saxx boxers for yoga a lot recently, and one of the things I’ve always had a problem with during yoga, is when you lay on your stomach, then go into a backbend of some sort (raising your shoulders and/or legs), I’d get a quite a bit of pinching if I didn’t readjust everything down there. But when I’m wearing Saxx, that issue has been all but eliminated, purely because they keep everything in one place, no matter how you move your body.

 

best underwear for yoga men saxx Does Saxx Make Everyday Underwear? What about different length underwear?

Saxx does make some super comfortable pairs of everyday use boxers. I absolutely love how comfy these are, and they can still handle quite well for short and moderate length runs and workouts. And while I have not tried any of their briefs or longer cut boxers, they do make 4 different lengths underwear, so everyone can stick with what they like.

 

Cons About Saxx Underwear?

 I always like to include some things that I’d love to see changed, to help show everyone that I’m not just a talking billboard. This one was a bit tough to think through though. I even tried to think whether I liked the colours, but they are actually pretty badass, coming in slick and masculine designs, as well as fun and colourful ones. Then I thought about whether I liked these enough to wear them even under shorts that have built in liners (as most running short come), but Saxx sort of beat me to this one, as they designed a pair of running shorts with Saxx underwear built in as the liner. So in the end, I don’t really have any cons to share with you, Saxx has sort of hit a home run with these. I guess I could say that they are a bit on the pricier side, selling for around the $30 CAD mark. But really with as many perks and features that I’ve mentioned above, its pretty obvious that I would argue they are well worth the money!

 

If your one of those guys who like to have a solid pair of underwear at the foundation of their wardrobe, something that performs top notch, looks slick, and is super comfortable, a pair of Saxx underwear is most definitely a product you should go checkout.

OMM Mountain Raid 1.0 Sleeping Bag – Gear Review

We are always being asked about the shoes we wear, the clothes we choose, and especially about the gear we use.  While we try to remain minimalist runners and athletes, there is always race gear that is needed for running some of the extreme ultra marathons that we run.  So we want to start including some gear reviews of our favourite products that we’ve used in our adventures.  This one came to mind after our last trip to the Atacama desert for the 4 Deserts Atacama Crossing, the OMM Mountain Raid 1.0 Sleeping Bag.

 

There are thousands of sleeping bags on the market today, all have their strengths and weaknesses, and choosing the best sleeping bag is highly dependent on the athlete and activity it’s used for.  So for a couple of lean ultra marathon runners like us, some of our top priorities for this one were weight and warmth.  Now this is more or less the main factors in anyones decision, but the way to assess them can differ.

OMM gear review mel and jon

Here is the generic product description written by Original Mountain Marathon: 

  • “The OMM Mountain Raid 1.0 sleeping bag is made from a combination of materials to ensure maximum performance and comfort. The synthetic insulation is Primaloft-One and gives the best warmth to weight ratio available on the market today.”

 

Sleeping Bag Weight

product review on sleeping bag for stage rageThe Mountain Raid 1.0 weighs just 380g, so if you’re going to be carrying a sleeping bag for multiple days in a pack, this sleeping bag won’t add to your shoulder aches!  This bag will also pack down into a stuff sac the size of a travel coffee mug (odd comparison?), which can definitely help save on space when you’re using the smallest bag possible.

 

Sleeping Bag Warmth

This one is always hard to quantify, heck even when we were researching sleeping bags for multi-day stage races, we couldn’t find a temperature rating on this bag.  So we’ll give you some hard testimonials from places we’ve used this sleeping bag.

First was a 7 day race through the northern parts of Madagascar in September of 2014.  Night time temperatures ranged around 8 to 12 degrees C.  We used the sleeping bag every night, and for many of the nights even had to unzip and open the bag up.  While we were lucky enough to not get rain during this race, this sleeping bag has a DWR treatment to the fabrics face to give it a degree of water repellency and also extra stain resistance, which is a nice perk that will help you stay warm even in wet climates.

Our other most extreme use with this sleeping bag, was when we volunteered at the 2015 Atacama Crossing.  In the driest desert in the world, the days are very hot, but the nights can be VERY cold.  With temperatures dropping down around zero, this sleeping bag started to push its limits.  We had to wear thicker sox, base layer bottoms with sweats, a regular short plus a sweater, and some nights had to put on our toques.  Even with this extra clothing our nights were still a little cool, but we were able to sleep through the night.  We were even able to snuggle up into them to take a nap out in the open desert flats one night (See photo!)

ultramarathon OMM sleeping bag adventure

Based on these experiences, plus a few camping in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, we would guesstimate a sleeping temperature limit at somewhere between 0-5 degrees C, with a comfortable limit being between 5-10 degrees C.

 

Additional Product Features or Thoughts

  1. ultra lightweight sleeping bag ultra marathonsSuper Fitted –> We see this as a perk being relatively lean bodied athletes, as it helps to keep the warmth in close to your body.  If you are a bigger build or like a little extra room to move around while you’re asleep (*definitely if you get claustrophobic easy*), you may want to look at a different bag or at least consider the tall size of this OMM bag.
    • For reference: Melissa (in photo) is 5’7 and approx. 115lbs, with a runner build
  2. Easy to Clean –> When you use a sleeping bag, you’re not likely the cleanest you’ve ever been, and this OMM bag is super easy to clean out, especially with its DWR treatment, we’ve always been able to wipe it down with a cloth, then flip it inside out and wipe the inside clean.
  3. Limited Features –> This ultra lightweight sleeping bag keeps it minimalistic in the sense there are not too many added features, they have a bungee cord drawstring to pull the hood tight, and a half length zipper for getting in and out.  Some people would have trouble getting in and out with only this half zipper, but this goes along with the tight fitting mentioned above, you know you, this is just a fact, buy what you think will work for you.

Verdict on the OMM 1.0 Sleeping Bag

This is a piece of equipment that has stayed with us for over a year now, and we could not recommend it as an ultra lightweight sleeping bag any more.  If you need something with a little more warmth to go into below freezing temperatures, I’d recommend checking out the new OMM 1.6 that has a little more insulation.  But if you’re looking for something to keep your light and fast, in running or hiking, this is a bag worth looking into!

 

Any questions or experiences you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them.

Mel and Jon

 

Check out our other Gear and Product Reviews

L-Glutamine – Powder or Capsules? – Health Product

jonathan vegan ultra marathon runners prairie naturals

L-Glutamine is one of those supplements that falls into the category of giving you “subtle” benefits – meaning you’ll need to have a somewhat regular workout routine, complimented with a relatively conscious diet in order to really see the beneficial effect.  Once you have reached a point of noticing how different foods can effect your energy levels, digestion or recovery rate, and can feel differences in muscle stamina and recovery during and after your workouts then take a look into some L-glutamine.

Prairie Naturals offers a quality L-glutamine supplement in the form of both a powder and a capsule, both with their own pros and cons.   Being a couple of ultra runners who are very cautious of what we feed our bodies, and conscious of how this affects our body, we wanted to share with you our experiences with the use of both forms during our training.  Hopefully this can help you make the decision on what would fit better into your lifestyle.

Without getting too scientific (we love to keep things simple:)!) L-glutamine can minimize muscle breakdown while improving muscle growth and recovery.  It is also a key amino acid for digestive health and optimal immune function.

L-glutamine PowderL-Glutamine powder 500cc jug_tn

This white powder is quite fine and thus makes it dissolve quickly into water, juice or in a smoothie so you can take it however you like.  The taste is so mild you likely won’t even notice it, which is a huge pro when compared to other powders.  The negative side of the powder form is quite obvious, the convenience of carrying this along with you during a race or even just to the gym can be a bit difficult and messy when you go to pour it into your bottle.

L-glutamine CapsulesL-Glutamine supplements from prairie naturals

Convenience is what the tabs are all about.  Its the same product being used, only packaged up in a swallow sized, 500mg capsules for you to take wherever you need them.  The capsules are easy to swallow and these are great to have in your running pack during longer training runs or ultras to help fight off the muscle breakdown and fatigue.   The biggest con we find with these is simply the quantity of pills you need to pop for the recommended dose.  The feeling of taking 4 pills at a time can seem a bit overwhelming.

Both forms we have to say digest well even on the run, and can help improve recovery and performance if used optimally.  What we would recommend, if you’re looking for an on the run recovery aid that you can take during a race or extra long hike/camping trip, then the capsules would definitely be the way to go.  However if you are planning to take it before or after your workout session, or can pour in a scoop or two into your bladder before a long hike, then go for the powder form, and you’ll feel less like a pharmaceutical hound!

We invite anyone and everyone to share their experiences with this product or any similar.  We definitely recommend giving some L-Glutamine a try, it can give you great benefits and help you climb to the next level of athletic performance. 🙂

 

Looking for something else? Take a read of our other supplements reviews and comparisons:

Spirulina – Powder or Tabs???

Branched Chain Amino Acids

Vegan Protein Sources

 

–> If you’re interested in other Product Reviews by Ultra Mel and Jon

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