Recently, I had the opportunity to take my first ever, behind-the-scenes tour of a manufacturer. And I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty darn excited.
Ever since I ended up with advanced adrenal fatigue back in 2014, I have been MUCH more conscious of the foods that I eat and the products that I use. It was like a veil was lifted off of my eyes and I realized that it is up to ME to take care of my health. No one else is going to do it for me.
And, ever since I had that revelation and really took control of my own health back, it's been an interesting and educational journey ever since!
Because the truth is, it is up to us to be aware of what we're putting on and in our bodies. Unfortunately, we can't assume that just because something is on the grocery store or drug store shelf, that it is safe for us. The reality is that many of the food items and personal care products that are in the mainstream market today are laden with chemicals and toxins that are literally taking a toll on our bodies and our health everyday.
Which is why, I am SO excited when I find companies like NOW Foods - who not only genuinely care about the health of their customers, but also go above and beyond to ensure the safety and integrity of their products.
A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in an "immersion" tour of the NOW Foods facilities in Chicago, IL as part of a campaign with Fitfluential (thanks Kelly!). It was a whirlwind 24 hours for sure, but so much fun too!
First, it was off to Chicago on Thursday afternoon. Since I'm not a huge fan of flying, I'm grateful that it was a short trip and the "windy city" wasn't too windy. Although it was a little chilly for this (admittedly, transplanted) Carolina girl!
Then, it was time to check in at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa, where the other influencers and I would be staying for the night. It was a small group (about 20-25), but they came from all across the country and spanned the health and wellness spectrum from health coaches and bloggers, to nutritionists and professional athletes.
Although the view from the patio off my room was pretty great, the most exciting part was what was inside the room - the swag bag! I thought I might get a few goodies to try, but the folks from NOW Foods went over and above my expectations. There were two huge bags of fun stuff waiting for me in my room (plus the welcome bag they gave me on my way in)!
I was super excited to see a tub of their plant protein powder, since that is the first protein powder I ever used, way back in 2012, when I first started to see a naturopathic doctor. But, there was so much other stuff to try, from supplements to essential oils... it felt like Christmas morning!
After getting some dinner and a good night's sleep, it was time to get down to business bright and early on Friday morning! Since I still consider myself in the "recovery" phase of adrenal fatigue and I haven't built up enough endurance yet for regular exercise, I had to skip the early morning workout, but I hear everyone had a lot of fun!
So, I met up with everyone at the DIY smoothie bar - ahhh... my favorite way to start the day! It's funny because I am used to having to bring my own individual packets of protein powder and a shaker cup with me whenever I travel, but this time, I didn't need to! Again, they blew away my expectations with a HUGE spread that included lots of berries, bananas, avocados, several types of non-dairy milk and of course, plenty of NOW protein powders and supplements to add to our smoothies. Then, we got to try out the NOW Sports premium personal blender and head off to our seats for a short presentation.
After we all made our smoothies, we listened to a short presentation on the NOW Sports products. Now, I'll have to admit... this is an area that I don't know a whole lot about since, like I said, I still haven't been able to return to a "normal" level of exercise after the adrenal fatigue. But, I was very impressed to learn that their entire line of sports products is guaranteed to be free of ALL the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) banned substances. So, if you are a professional athlete who is required to participate in mandatory drug tests, you don't have to worry about an unknown ingredient showing up in your products!
Although I may not be able to use any of their high-performance Sports products just yet, I am excited about one of them right now - their L-Glutamine powder.
Glutamine is a conditionally-essential amino acid (meaning you may need more of it at some times than others) and fuels the growth of cells in the immune system and the GI tract. Since adrenal fatigue and leaky gut syndrome (tears in the lining of your gut that can lead to inflammation all over the body) often go hand-in-hand, I am always on the hunt for anything I can do to keep my gut healthy. And ironically, I had just learned before this trip that the NOW Sports L-Glutamine powder is one of the best out there on the market! It is pure, free form, non-GMO, gluten free and vegan.
After the presentation, we headed back to our rooms to pack up, relax and have a little breakfast before we boarded the bus for the NOW Foods plant. Once we arrived, we watched a short film on the history of the company (they're celebrating their 50th anniversary this year!) and then donned our fashionable hairnets, gowns and goggles to start the tour!
Now, again, I'll be the first to admit... I am not a scientist. I am the epitome of a right-brained person and my brain tends to glaze over when it hears too much math or science. But, even though I may not have understood all of the scientific lingo we heard during the tour, I did understand one thing quite clearly. The extent that this company goes to to ensure the safety and quality of their products is truly mind-blowing.
It's not just a quick once-over and then pack it up type deal. No, every single product that they manufacture goes through extensive testing and re-testing. From the very beginning stages before they've ever even began producing a product - there are entire teams of people dissecting materials down into individual components and studying them closely. They test for quality, for potency, effectiveness, for any traces of contaminants and even have an entire "balance room" dedicated to making sure they are truly putting the exact weight of product in the bottle that it says on the label.
After we finished touring the lab area, we headed out into the production side of things. First, we saw the massive ovens they use to heat their coconut oil products so they become liquid before packaging.
And then we got to see all the action as it happened - teas being packaged, essential oils being bottled and vitamins going down the assembly lines. You never think about everything that goes into the production of just one product until you see it up close. And again, I am so grateful for the care and concern that this company puts into every step! For instance, not only do they clean the equipment between production runs (in order to prevent any type of contamination), but they clean the floors, the walls and even the ceiling too!
One of the things I was most impressed with was this company's transparency. They showed us every part of their operation from beginning to end. And the cool thing is, it's not just for "influencers." Nope. The folks at NOW actually welcome their customers to come in for a visit anytime to check out their operations!
Because, as they expressed to us several times, they know the value of word-of-mouth. You may have noticed, that you probably haven't seen a lot of advertising for NOW before. It's not one of the big, "in your face" brands. Yet, it's been around for 50 years and is going strong. That's because they put their focus on providing quality products instead of huge marketing campaigns. And they trust the satisfaction of their customers (and the friends they tell and the friends they tell...) will be their best marketing campaign. I love that!
The other thing that I loved the most about NOW Foods is just how clean their products actually are. Again, as a maniacal label-reader, it is nice to be able to feel safe with a company's products, without having to use a magnifying glass on every single one. They use only organic, natural ingredients, no artificial flavors or sweeteners, use non-GMO ingredients whenever possible and always disclose all of their ingredients on their product labels. Yay for honesty!
After our tour, then it was off to the NOW Foods offices located just down the road, where we had a delicious lunch by Whole Foods and then dove straight into a body care class. This was actually my favorite part of the whole trip since I love me some natural body care products and am always down to learn some new DIY recipes.
Using simple ingredients like NOW magnesium flakes, NOW essential oils, distilled water, salt and witch hazel, we made two homemade products - a muscle soak and a cleaner spray for wiping down gym equipment before and after your workout. We also learned all about the many uses of NOW essential oils - which, let me stress, are actually every bit as effective and pure as some of those "bigger" brands out there that charge twice as much!
After the class, it was time to board the bus so we could head back home. It was truly a whirlwind trip, but amazing nonetheless!
I am so glad that my first influencer tour was with a company that I can truly stand behind and genuinely say I feel safe with. I am all about inspiring other people to take control of their health and be aware of what they put on and in their bodies, so I love working with companies who have the same goal!
That all being said... I promised you a giveaway.
So, without further adieu, here it is!
Not only did NOW Foods send me home with a big swag bag full of goodies, but they want to give one of you the same thing! That's over $500 worth of amazing products for free!! You'll even get a glass oil diffuser and a full size premium personal blender!
Here's what you'll get if you win:
- NOW Sports premium personal blender
- Glass swirl USB oil diffuser
- Essential oils set
- Organic quinoa penne pasta
- Grass-fed whey protein concentrate (chocolate)
- Organic plant protein (vanilla)
- BCAA Big 6 (watermelon)
- Sugarless sugar
- Nutri-shave natural shave cream
- Magnesium topical spray
- Joint and muscle cream
- Xyli-White coconut oil toothpaste
- Ultra Omega-3
- Co-Enzyme B Complex
- Coconut Infusions butter-flavored coconut oil
- MCT Oil (chocolate mocha)
- CurcuFRESH curcumin
- Liquid L-carnitine
- Slender Sticks drink mix (coconut water)
- Brain Attention chewables (chocolate)
- Spirulina powder
- Vitamin D-3
- Maca capsules
- Super enzymes
It's like Christmas, right??
So, make sure you head over to my Instagram page now to enter. The drawing will close at midnight EST this Wednesday (May 30th) and I will draw the winner on Thursday morning. Winners are limited to US residents only. Here's how to enter:
- Follow me on Instagram.
- Follow NOW Foods on Instagram.
- Like this post.
- Tag at least 1 friend who you think might want to win too.
That's it! Good luck!! And make sure to check out NOW Foods when you have a chance. You won't regret it!