Thursday, January 13, 2011

What We Think: A Review

Confession time:  Mr. Helen is a terrible eater.  Or maybe he's just a normal eater. I wouldn't know, because I'm not sure what normal is.  In any case, we have a standing joke in our house about his family "stomach" which seems to be sensitive to many things, including certain combinations of foods.  Don't get me wrong, he's not a picky eater and in fact is quite adventurous, but he would never ever have a cup of coffee after eating pizza, for example.  (I would and have!)

What he often does is go for long periods of time without eating.  He's quite easily distracted from food and if he gets busy, he just won't eat.  Which then causes his blood sugar to completely crash and of course, he chooses things like Little Debbie snack cakes or a slice of white bread spread with honey, or he will sit and eat half a bag of tortilla chips.  That is not a typo.  Terrible eater.

Many years ago, when Mr. Helen first got really committed to karate, he kept coming home from his classes completely wiped out, exhausted.  Of course, that was because he ate terrible all day, or didn't even eat enough because he was either busy or afraid it was too close to his workout and that his stomach would get upset.  Then, he would go to the dojo for 3 hours.  Obviously, his exhaustion was his body was rebelling because it was not getting enough fuel. He also started dropping weight like crazy.  Trust me when I say he does not need to lose weight.

It was around this same time that I started distance running and training for my first marathon.  The first long run that we did was 8 miles.   I had never run anything more than 5 miles so that was a very scary run.  But I had experienced runners around me who told me to just run until I couldn't run anymore and then I should walk until I could run again.  As it turned out, there were two other runners who ran my pace and the three of us took off and promptly got lost.  We actually ended up running 9.27 miles that day and it took over 2 hours.  By the time I got in my car, I was weeping from frustration and exhaustion.  When I got home from that run, I took a shower and had something to eat.  Suddenly I didn't feel like I could keep my eyes open, so I layed down for what I thought would be a short nap. It was around 11 a.m.

Mr. Helen had a friend visiting for the weekend and they were off golfing.  When they arrived home, he was quite alarmed that I wasn't up and about.  He came into our room and gently woke me to ask me if everything was OK.  I told him,"No, I HATE running.  I am never running again.  I don't even know why I thought I could do this.  Probably because I'm just stupid, stupid, stupid!" Then I asked him to go away and just let me sleep because I really thought I was actually dying.  Several hours later, he came and woke me again.  I sat up and cried and cried and told him to please just let me die peacefully.  Finally, around 5 p.m. he came in the room and insisted that I get up or he was taking me to the hospital.

Once I got up and got something more to eat I was able to keep myself awake until about 9 p.m. then went back to bed and slept straight through until 7 the next morning.  When I woke up, rested and sane, I knew there was no way I was going to let running take me out.  I was going to beat it come hell or high water, because I'm stubborn that way.

The next week, when I met up with the group and told the experienced runners what had happened, they told me that was pretty common and that I would need to figure out how to fuel properly before and after my run and I'd be amazed at how much better I felt.  (Confession:  before that first long run?  I didn't eat a thing.) Thus began my quest for the perfect pre and post long run fuels and eventually, as the runs got much longer, what to fuel with during the run.

I tried everything... Gu, Powergel, Gatorade, Shot Bloks, Sport Beans, Powerade, Nuun, Accelerade, toast, bagels, bananas, oranges, pancakes, potatoes, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, oatmeal... and eventually found the combinations that worked best for me, which did not include a lot of the manufactured items like Gu.  My stomach just didn't like them and it took several long runs with stomach aches and issues afterward to figure that out.  Just too much sugar or something.  What did work was oatmeal or a couple slices of toast before the run; bananas and pretzels, and small amounts of watered down Powerade or Accelerade during;  then something like a smoothie or protein drink while I took a  post run ice bath.  Ultimately followed by some real food with a good protein-carb ratio like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread - or a Subway sandwich.

Once I figured this out, I was knocking off 15 and 20 mile runs like they were nothing. I was coming home, doing all the housework and bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan.  Mr. Helen noticed and began asking me what he could do to be energized for his own karate workouts.  Thus began our quest to improve his eating and also began his love affair with supplements.  Once he realized that if he tried to eat a little better (or even a little more) and was properly hydrating before and refueling after his workouts there was no turning back. The man thinks that hydration drinks like Accelerade or Nuun are better than a piece of white bread with honey on it.  He calls it "Go Juice."  Won't leave home without it so to speak. I wish I owned stock in GNC to be truthful.

So you can only imagine the excitement at my house when the shipment of Athlete's Honey Milk arrived.  They were very generous and sent me one case each of Honey, Light Chocolate, and Light Coffee! Once he was able to wrap his head around the fact that all I did was comment on Shelley's blog, and yes, the Honey Milk people just sent it for free, you'd have thought we won the lottery.  Then he opened one of the cases and said, "Gross. It's milk.  That's not going to work!"  I told him that I begged to differ, based on the nutrition facts labels alone I thought that these drinks would be great for pre and post workouts. Then we looked up the website and after we read what was there, he decided he would try the honey flavor because it was "full calorie and had more protein and besides, you don't really like honey all that much right?"  I agreed he could have the Honey but he had to let me at least take a sip of one.

Mr. Helen is using it as a preworkout drink and I'm using it post long runs.  What we've found is that Athlete's Honey Milk does just exactly what they claim it will:  helps us rebuild, refuel and recover.  It is made from real milk and honey and I think that makes it friendly for both his family stomach and my running stomach.   I also like the fact that both of us are probably getting more calcium than we've had in a good long while. 

As for the flavors?  Neither one of us is a coffee fan.  I did taste one of the coffee flavored drinks and while it tastes fine, I'm just not a coffee flavored anything fan (not even ice cream!). The honey flavor is very good, but honestly, I don't need the extra 90 calories that comes with it.  Mr. Helen would give all his props to the honey flavor, for sure.

The chocolate, on the other hand, is to die for in my opinion.  It is so good and chocolately and when it's really cold, I think I could drink it in one gulp.  I have even found myself choosing to have one in place of a dessert at night. 

What we don't like so much:  we can't buy them locally.  Boo!  Right now they seem to be sold only in these states. So if you happen to live there good for you.  They do offer FREE SHIPPING, so Mr. Helen asked me last week to look into ordering him the honey flavor but when I went to do that, they were out of stock.  Boo again!  Though I noticed today that they are back in stock so I guess I'll order them - goodness knows I need to keep him away from my chocolate.  Because I also noticed this morning that his love for the Honey Milk has driven him to dipping into my precious stash of dark chocolate.  Oh no he didn't!


  1. What a great backstory, and a great review! I nervously laughed at your having gotten lost during that long run - that is a big fear of mine! Can't believe it actually happened to you.

    Love that Mr. Helen has become such a convert to adequate nutrition, thanks to you! And that he likes the Honey Milk is really cool - but heck yeah, keep him out of your chocolate! Confession time: I, too, have had a bottle of the chocolate as a dessert once or twice. Too bad you don't like the coffee flavor - I love it (and just ordered two cases of it). If we were closer we could do a swap!

    So nice that the folks at Athlete's Honey Milk were so generous - I am really impressed with both their company and their product. :)

  2. We all muddle through this fitness and nutrition thing together, don't we?

  3. Ha, I had to laugh after your run you are doing all the housework and bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan! Love it!

    My husband normally doesn't eat ANYTHING until 1 in the afternoon, usually something small like a sandwich, and then what I make for dinner. That's it! So crazy!

    Glad you figured out how to fuel before and after - I think some people forget that the after is just as important!

    One more day until those Tae Bo tapes are mine! :D

    p.s. the Walmart 5 miles from my house sells those drinks - email me if you want me to ship some to you! :D

  4. Wait, what's wrong with Little Debbie's cakes?
    I bet I'd like them ALL!!!

  5. I love reading how people got started. It's not something that is easy to do and takes perseverance. I love that you were determined to take on running and you've done it! Success!

    I found out that a store near me carries Honey Milk so I think I need to go get me some.

    Keep up the awesome work. I think about you and Shelley when I'm trying to take on running and having a tough time. You guys are awesome.

  6. Thanks for the great review Helen! I will have to look for those. My son could use those as good fuel for his very lean, calorie burning body!

  7. Helen talking about hardcore runners: 8 miles on your ever first run! Holy cow!

    I have to packages of gels for longer runs but am kind of afraid to use them (and I haven't run that long yet) because I'm having so much issues with my stomach. I like your way. I eat a banana before a run and a protein shake after the run. At this point I'm only drinking water during but I'll keep the pretzels in mind because I heard more runners about this.

  8. I loved your story that went along with this review - made it much more personal. However, I cannot believe that your husband is considered a poor eater. From what I've read about him I thought he was a hard core healthy eater! Men.

  9. It's like you were meant to be a runner,
    and you finally just found it!

  10. Helen - Yes, we did have a few hours this week when the website was out of honey... What can I say - the stuff is selling and we're very excited about that. Thanks for your patience and understanding. As for stocking it in a store near you, email us at with a few in your area where you'd like to see it sold and we'll work on it.

    Thanks for this great review and story behind it. We here at Athletes HoneyMilk are always very excited to hear about how our product is being received, and what people are doing with it as they work hard to change their lives, and the lives of those around them. We are just making the fuel for you. You're doing the rest. Congratulations on your running achievements. We are honored to be a part of your quest to reach your potential.


    Anders Porter