Please note that this post contains affiliate links (and discount codes!) for which I get a small commission.
Every athlete has a few things that they use religiously, whether it’s a good luck charm, everyday essential, or an indulgence every once in awhile. I thought I would share some of my favorite things but it will be an extensive list from my favorite workout shoes to my favorite supplements.
All of these products are ones I use (almost) daily and I genuinely believe in them, and I share them with my friends all the time. I’m hearing Ari’s 7 Rings right now.
Buy myself all of my favorite things…..
Favorite gym bag: Adidas Diablo Duffel Bag (less than $25 on Amazon)
This gym bag has been my go-to for forever. It’s big enough to pack everything you need, but not so big that you feel like you’re going on vacation. I fit my resistance bands, jump rope, journal water, wrist wraps, lifting belt, WODies, sometimes supplements, a change of clothes if I need, and my water in this bag. It’s durable and has a hard plastic bottom, so it stays formed. The inside is also waterproof, so it your drink spills, it won’t be all over the floor.
Mine has lasted me over 4 years with daily use. I’ve take care of the bag, but it’s a quality product and has held up the abuse of being thrown, slid, dropped, spilled on, kicked, dug through, and spilled in.
Favorite shoes: Nobull trainers ($99-$159 on Their Site)
While these shoes are on the high end of the CrossFit/Training shoe spectrum, I can say this is my absolute favorite pair of shoes that I wear (I actually just ordered this Rubber Ducky Trainer). NOBULL set out to create a shoe made of high quality materials that are stylish but functional. They are a minimalist shoe (so for those of you who need that extra support, maybe try something different) but I have no plantar fascias pain wearing these, unlike a few pairs of Nikes, and even my few pairs of Reebok Nanos. I wear these for everything: hiking, workouts, yard work, grocery shopping, etc and they just stay comfy, even after almost 2 years of wear and tear. This is also the lightest shoe I ever wore. Sometimes with a larger heel-toe drop and the extra padding, the shoe gets heavy, which can suck when you’re moving around and you need to be light on your feet. I put these on and it was like wearing a cloud.
Def try these if you’re looking for a high quality, light, but strong shoe for your workouts.
Favorite Water Bottle: HyrdoJug ($20-30) Get 10% off with code: LIFTBYLES
This is the water jug we all wanted but never knew we needed. BPA free, top rack dishwasher safe, and wide-mouth top with shaker bottle-like lid, it’s everything I could ever want.
Getting your water is important and with experts saying that up to a gallon a day is necessary to aid substantially in weight loss, you’re going to need a bigger bottle. The Hydrojug holds up to 75 ounces of water and comes with a cool carry handle. You can also purchase an insulating sleeve or other carrier, which makes this jug even easier to transport or carry when you’re on the go.
I have owned 3 of these jugs so far and they’ve all been fantastic. I took one to the Arnold, and when I became an ambassador for Hydrojug, I got 2 more, a sleeve, and straw. My purple one shattered because I dropped it when it was full (go figure), but now that I have a spare, it’s all good.
They also provide replacement parts (like the O-ring in the top that prevents leaks) so you don’t have to buy a whole new jug.
My favorite Meal Prep: Clean Eatz ($75 for 10 meals)
Clean Eatz (specifically the one in Lancaster, PA) has been a lifesaver for me in terms of time, varied meals, and macro counting. I don’t have to cook anymore; I get delicious meals; and they’re good for me (whouda thunk it?). They’re cheaper than Freshly, Blue Apron, and other meal services, and they cost less per meal than a trip to Panera Bread.
Their menu comes out every Thursday and you can order through Sunday night (usually). I pick up my meals Monday evening and have them through the rest of the week. They have great options that are all under 500 calories. I just heat, doctor, and eat. At about $8 per meal to start, it’s VERY affordable too. I order 10 meals a week and it saves me the headache and the gas bill. For a long time I was spending nearly $50 per week to eat the same thing for a week. Needless to say, I got tired of it really quickly and the meal prep stopped.
Favorite Macro Calculator: IIFYM.com (FREE)
I’ve used IIFYM for years. They have you complete a simple questionnaire that identifies where you’re at, current activity level, and where you’d like to be. Then it gives you the macro breakdown, which you can tweak (I show you how in my Nutrition Planning Course on Udemy, out late July). I had fantastic results using this tool when I was bulking in spring 2017 and competing. I was able to gain a healthy 10lbs and my performance peaked. This is also the tool I’ll be using to calculate your macros when you choose me as your coach.
A word before you read on: your regular diet should be on point before you begin adding supplements. If you are just starting to count macros and workout, I highly suggest adding a protein shake and multivitamin ONLY to your diet until you have a better idea of your energy levels, performance, and if you have additional goals. Otherwise, get your eating on track and DO NOT add supplements unless it’s necessary. Remember, these are meant to give you a boost; They’re not replacements, which you should have already made if your eating habits were less than stellar.
Preworkout: FNX Reinforce (Use Code Les15 for 15% off)
This preworkout is a favorite for a reason. I have a caffeine sensitivity and this formula has the B vitamins and energy complex that carries me through my workout without wrecking me later. With L-Arginine and L-Citrulline, it helps increase the production of nitric oxide in the blood, rather than pumping you up with stimulants like Beta Alanine (I actually really hate this ingredient, the tingly feeling is actually a harmless overload of your nervous system, something I never got used to) or caffeine.
Reinforce is a stimulant-free preworkout. I’ve tried many different ones, most recently Alani Nutrition’s preworkout (not a fan), and for awhile, I stopped taking it because I couldn’t find a good one that was non-stim. But this one has been a game changer. I can use it after my coffee in the morning and not feel jittery, anxious, or like a zombie with a rapid heartbeat.
Protein: OPtimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey ($50 for 5lbs on Amazon)
Protein is the essential macro for recovery and it can’t be overlooked. After trying MuscleMilk, MuscleTech, BPI Sports, FNX Restart, and countless other samples, I found that Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey really is gold standard, for a few reasons: 1) mixability is phenomenal (I’ve never drank chunks), 2) Protein ratio is up there and contains the isolate, not just the concentrate (77.4% Protein per serving), making it high quality, and 3) it’s reasonably priced. Bodybuilding.com usually runs a sale or other promotion, so you can pick up this protein and other supplements cheaper than you would at GNC or other retailer.
BCAA’s: Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA 5000 Powder ($48 for 2 Pack On Amazon)
So truth be told, the 60 serving is a better value but I ordered the 40 serving with the thought of “what if I don’t like it?”. Hence the 40 serving I bought. I like these BCAA’s because they don’t have a sour taste to them (this one tastes like orange Kool-Aid if you ask me) and the aminos are balanced, which make them perfect for recovery. Again, mixability is great (no chunks or grit) and it stays suspended in your bottle or cup for at least 2 hours because you don’t want all the good stuff to sink to the bottom (ick!)
And this 2-pack available on Amazon means if you’re not sure about it, you can gift one to a friend (just in case you forgot their birthday and they LOVE the gym)
GREENs: FNX REbalance (Use code les15 for 15% off)
These rebalance greens are great for getting in some extra veggies you wouldn’t get otherwise and they help keep your gut healthy (after all majority of your immune system is in our digestive tract). Keeping your gut healthy means better nutrient absorption, greater energy, and better overall results. While I do have to say I’m not a fan of sucralose being present in the greens (I’ll let you know my feelings on artificial sweeteners), it does contain barley, alfalfa, kamut, oat, and wheat grass powder to help in digestion, and a number of other enzymes that keep you healthy. These are on the expensive side ($55/container), so make sure you use my discount to save a little moolah.
Multivitamin: FNX Repair (Available in Men’s or Women’s, use Code LES15 for 15% off)
This multivitamin is a good one. It’s complete and the makers at FNX did a few things differently with this multivitamin than the one you see at the grocery store. First off, they package it in a capsule rather than a caplet for better absoption. There are more specific formulas for men and women (you know how you look at the bottom and they look SURPRISINGLY similar?), so you know the vitamin is made for your biology.
Third, there’s more than 100% of your daily value of each nutrient in each dose. This is really critical because athletes, and those involved in heavier physical activity, need to absorb more nutrients for adequate recovery, maintenance, and growth. Some multivitamins don’t have enough calcium (some as little as 30%, what’s up with that?), and others have waay too much of another, but this one is juuuussst right.
Music Streaming Service: Spotify ($9.99 per month, Now includes Hulu)
Spotify has been my go-to for years because of their deals and myriad of music, including podcasts too. I started with their 3 months of Premium for 0$.99 (BEST. DEAL. EVER.), graduated to their student program ($4.99 per month with Hulu and now Showtime included), and now I’m on their regular plan with Hulu included (was $13.99 for both, and then they dropped my rate to $9.99). You can’t beat this deal if you know how to play their system. They always have these promotions running too.
I’ve been loyal to Spotify for years because I’ve always been able to find the music I want and, if it’s not on there, then I can wait, or it’s probably something I didn’t want to listen to in the first place. I know a lot of people are touting Apple Music as a superior competitor but I beg to differ. Spotify is cross-platform, meaning no matter what device you have (except Apple’s HomePod), you can have it. They have multiple offerings for you to try their premium service and they’ve partnered with Hulu and other companies (something Apple doesn’t do), making their offer more value driven than Apple’s. Spotify has also developed their controls for multiple devices, so I can use my phone or computer to control Spotify on my TV or Playstation if they’re on the same Wifi network. I haven’t heard of Apple doing this either. So, the versatility and value keep me coming back month after month.
Their selection of not-so-well known artists is also growing, which makes me excited for the direction the service is going. Local artists can have more exposure and I hope that Spotify comes up with a promotional program to help them get noticed in the future, which would give the platform an even bigger boost.
Favorite HEadBands: Sleefs (use my code EATLIFTWANDER40 for 40% off your first order, even sale items!)
Ah, Sleefs. What a brand. Sleefs is a small company based out of Florida whose primary market focus is compression gear, included arm sleeves, shorts, tees, custom apparel, and, my personal favorite, headbands. They also sell compression gear to schools for their sports programs all over the country.
I discovered this small brand years ago at the Arnold Classic and I haven’t gone back. Their products are priced reasonably ($13 for a tee and $5 for headbands when they’re on sale? Yes, please). I usually order 5 or 6 headbands at a time because it then justifies shipping or gets your free shipping.
Their headbands do wick away moisture fantastically, and everything is machine washable (yay!). Definitely check them out if you’re looking for headbands or compression apparel at a really good price. My only issue is that they don’t have enough of a selection for women (sorry ladies no booty shorts 😦 ). My hope is thatnts they’ll expand soon, but in the meantime, still take a look.
Let me know if I missed anything or if there’s a product you want me to review!
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Happy LIFTing, Les