Fueling A Fast-Paced Life With Fitlife Foods

by Jennifer Thai in ,

Between my roles as full-time social media producer, freelance social media strategist and part-time lifestyle blogger, it's easy for the hours in my day to pass by in the blink of an eye. Especially considering the off hours I work sometimes at HSN, it can be difficult to keep a healthy eating schedule.

Lucky for me, I've been introduced to the lifesaver that is Fitlife Foods, which just recently opened the doors to its ninth location in the Tampa Bay area. Fitlife Foods gives its customers access to fresh, made-from-scratch prepared foods, understanding that time is precious to all of us, and that quick and convenient doesn't necessarily have to mean unhealthy. I have a Fitlife Foods location right down the road from me, which means that on Sundays, I can stop by and load up my cooler bag with meals and snacks for the week and not have to resort to fast food or microwave popcorn (as tempting as it may be) during my days at work.

I personally don't count my calories, carbs, etc., but for those of you who do, Fitlife Foods offers detailed nutritional info on all of its meals, both on the packaging and online. I usually purchase the medium-sized meals, which are the perfect portions for me.

I blend the Fitmix Antioxidant Blend into my daily morning oatmeal to give me the protein fill I need to hold me over until lunchtime.

I blend the Fitmix Antioxidant Blend into my daily morning oatmeal to give me the protein fill I need to hold me over until lunchtime.

Tampa Bay BBQ Beef with Mac ‘N Cheese: Slow-cooked tender, lean steak with a sweet & tangy BBQ sauce and served with homemade mac ‘n cheese.

Peanut Butter Oat Crunch: Homemade peanut butter bites made with gluten-free oats with red grapes and sliced apples.

I've really enjoyed all of the meals that I've tried so far, my most favorites being the Mac 'N Cheese and Low Carb Huevos Rancheros. And in regards to snacks, the Peanut Butter Oat Crunch is on point. When I experience those midday pangs of hunger, the peanut butter bites fill me up, and paired with the fresh fruit, give me that boost of energy that I need to make it through the rest of my day.

Fitlife Foods has nine different locations in the Tampa Bay area. To find the location nearest you, click here. You can view the menu here. For additional updates on Fitlife Foods, follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

*Disclosure: I was provided a gift card to try meals from Fitlife Foods. This post was written on my own accord, and opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Fitlife Foods.

Customized Hair Care From ShampYou

by Jennifer Thai in

It's difficult to get exactly what I want in a shampoo all in one single bottle. For my caramel highlights and lackluster hair, I'm in need of a formula that will bring out my vibrant brunette tones and give my locks a little more texture and body. I've been using John Frieda's Brilliant Brunette Volumizing Shampoo, but I'm not exactly wow-ed by it. It's been my go-to shampoo because it's reasonably priced and treats my hair okay. 

ShampYou introduced me to its unique line of customizable, salon-quality shampoo. With four shampoo base blends and six SuperSerums, over 144 unique combinations are possible - simply choose the shampoo base blend that is the right fit for your hair's needs, mix into two SuperSerums of your choice, and shake.

I let them know about my personal hair needs: I had color-treated hair that could use more texture and volume, and that got oily pretty easily. ShampYou sent me a bottle of its Juniper + Mint shampoo base blend, two SuperSerums (Beautiful Brunette and Turn Up The Volume and a bottle of its Cashmere + White Lilly creme de conditioner

So, I added my two SuperSerums to the shampoo base blend and shook it like crazy until well-blended. I used both the shampoo and conditioner five times over the course of two weeks. The most noticeable change in my hair was the texture - it had body and bounce, and not with the usual oily-feeling that my hair tends to easily accumulate.

The smell of the shampoo and conditioner is wonderful and fragrant, but gentle. And at $10 per shampoo base blend and $3.50 per SuperSerum, $17 for a bottle of salon-quality shampoo that is customized specifically for your hair is not a bad price point at all. And currently, Ulta is offering ShampYou products for buy two, get one free - that in combination with Ulta's $3.50 off $15 purchase coupon essentially gets you both of your SuperSerums for free!

 *Disclosure: The product featured in this post was provided by ShampYou for feature/review. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of ShampYou.

Local Bites: On Swann Part Two

by Jennifer Thai in ,

I cannot get enough of Hyde Park Village's latest addition, On Swann! Not too long after our first visit, pH and I returned to nom on some other menu items that we didn't get to try. Except, I had to order my favorite Carrot Soup again - it's my favorite!

Spiced Carrot Soup - Red lentils, buttermilk creme, radish & mint-pea pesto.

Tomato Soup - Heirloom tomatoes, prosciutto & cream.

Swann Manhattan made with house-made sweet vermouth.

The Farm - Chicken liver mousse, apricot mostarda, duck rillette, pork pate, drunken goat cheese, raypenaer, gorgonzola dulce, capicola, prosciutto, creminelli tartufo salami, served with pecan raisin croutons & sourdough croutons.

Gnocchi - Herb lemon ricotta, garlic, tomato sauce & pesto.

Hot Chicken - Crispy tenders, paprika honey butter & romseco aioli.

pH, my bourbon connoisseur, absolutely loved the Swann Manhattan, made with a special sweet vermouth that is prepared in-house. He also really loved the Hot Chicken starter, touting it as the best chicken tenders he's ever had, ever. 

On Swann did not disappoint, again. We really enjoyed The Farm charcuterie and the stuffed Gnocchi was delicious. If you still have not been, you need to make reservations and give On Swann a try!

On Swann is located at 1501 Swann Avenue in Tampa. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. You can view the menu here. For additional updates from On Swann, follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

Tech Meets Vogue

by Jennifer Thai in

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be a part of the launch of TPA Lady Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to impact the community by connecting, inspiring and showcasing women doing amazing things. Themed "Badass Women," we had these amazing "be badass" tees made for us by WovePrint.co. I couldn't think of a more perfect accessory to pair with this tee than the Martini Choker from Black Dot Products, a jewelry line created by architect Camila Borges-Chiang, who 3D prints and laser-cuts these classic pieces.

I am in love with her entire jewelry line - each and every piece exudes a modern, geometric feel - minimal, yet still bold enough to make a statement. And guess what, gentlemen - there's a men's collection for you, too.

I am in awe of Camila - in my eyes, to be able to tackle her career in architecture by day and flawlessly execute her passion for designing classic jewelry pieces by night, truly makes her one badass woman. Next on my wish list? The Trapez Choker. I cannot get enough of choker necklaces this season!

I'm giving you an opportunity to win a Martini Choker of your own! I'm hosting a giveaway in partnership with Camila and Black Dot Products over on my Instagram page - the giveaway launches at 12 p.m. EST!

 *Disclosure: The product featured in this post was provided by Black Dot Products for feature/review. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Black Dot Products.

Hi-Chew Taste Test Challenge

by Jennifer Thai in

I've always loved fruity candy, especially ones with a chewy texture. I remember going to the Oriental market with my mom when I was younger and begging her to buy me my favorite green apple Hi-Chew candy. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, Hi-Chew is a Japanese candy brand known for its real-fruit flavors and chewy texture, and has most recently made its way to being a cult favorite in the U.S. It used to only be sold at Asian markets, but now I've been seeing the brand a lot more at local candy stores, and even at Forever 21 at checkout.

Hi-Chew put my palate and knowledge of their candy to the test, with a taste test challenge - after sending me their candy in Strawberry, Mango, Green Apple, Grape, Cherry and Mango flavors, they challenged me to guess each flavor in a blind taste test. pH happily assisted, but mostly to make fun of me:

I made an oopsie on one of those - melon wasn't even one of the six flavors to choose from! But the point is, it's not hard to distinguish the flavors, given that real-fruit flavor. If you haven't given Hi-Chew a try yet, and you love fruity, chewy candy - check out the locator to see where your nearest Hi-Chew candy pickup location is!

Backless, Strapless, Fearless

by Jennifer Thai in

Some of my favorite summer pieces are open-backed or mildly see-through, and without the right bra alternative, I've been wearing a tan camisole to get by. I had purchased a backless, strapless bra from Target to try, but felt like it didn't offer the coverage I wanted and was terrified it'd slip off with its less-than-stellar adhesive, which is the worst feeling to have when you're trying to enjoy a day/night out with friends.

The kind folks over at Nudwear sent me a couple of their products to try, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Initial impression - love the packaging. It reassures me that I can actually take proper care of these bras, instead of packaging them back up in a cheap, plastic container. I chose to test the Sofia Strapless Backless Adhesive Bra first, since it was my most immediate need, wardobe-wise.

This Jenn Girl - nudwear 1
This Jenn Girl - nudwear 2
This Jenn Girl - nudwear 3
This Jenn Girl - nudwear 4

I love the feminine, lace look, and most importantly, the coverage it provides along with the fact that it doesn't feel like it's about to fall off, even on the most humid of Florida days. So whether I'm getting dressed up for date night with a see-through lace dress or heading to brunch with friends in a backless tank top, I feel confident and fearless (of wardrobe malfunctions, anyway) with Nudwear.

I haven't gotten the chance to try the Daisies Waterproof Adhesive Covers yet, but will provide an update when I find the reason to use them!

 *Disclosure: The product featured in this post was provided by Nudwear for feature/review. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Nudwear.

Local Do's: TPA Lady Project

by Jennifer Thai in

This past weekend, I had the honor of taking part in a very special occasion - the launch of TPA Lady Project! About a year and a half ago, my beautiful, boss-lady-of-a-friend, Corrine, shared her passion project with me - her plan to launch The Lady Project here in Tampa. The Lady Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to impact the community by connecting, inspiring and showcasing women doing amazing things, a piece that was missing from the Tampa Bay area. After a year and a half of mapping out a plan, refining the details and busting her butt, Corrine successfully launched TPA Lady Project at its first event, hosting over 100 new TPA Lady Project members!

In partnership with local non-profit Purple Dot Yoga Project, an organization whose mission is to raise social responsibility around domestic violence and empower and support those affect through the practice of yoga, TPA Lady Project presented Badass Women, an evening of inspiring talks featuring local women leaving their mark in the Tampa Bay area.

Station House St. Pete graciously donated their space for this event, which set the perfect mood for an evening filled with inspiration, motivation and the feeling of community.

I had the honor of being part of the evening's panelists, alongside five amazing, driven women:

  • Maureen McDole, founder of Keep St. Pete Lit, an organization that celebrates and promotes the literary community in the Tampa Bay area through arts, education and events.
  • Jenny Miller and Katelyn Grady, owners of The Body Electric Yoga Company, whose mission is to help enrich lives through accessible and challenging yoga.
  • Corrine Turpin, a design and digital strategist, and city manager of TPA Lady Project.
  • Kate Berlin, executive director of Purple Dot Yoga Project.

Corrine Turpin (TPA Lady Project) | Kate Berlin (Purple Dot Yoga Project)

Maureen McDole (Keep St. Pete Lit) | Jenny Miller & Katelyn Grady (The Electric Body Yoga Co.) | Me! | Corrine Turpin (TPA Lady Project) | Kate Berlin (Purple Dot Yoga Project)

Sierra Barter, CEO & Co-Founder of The Lady Project | Kate Huot, Special Projects Manager at The Lady Project

What an amazing evening. We shared laughter and tears, successes and struggles with each other, and found friendship through the act of helping each other rise. I'd never felt so uplifted. The night was a wonderful blur, but I remember the things that made an impression on me most - I remember Maureen talking about her daughter's free spirit and constant determination and how it inspired her daily. I remember Jenny and Katelyn sharing their struggles of getting their yoga studio off the ground and the way they looked at each other when they shared how the other inspires her. I remember Corrine tearing up at the thought of her mom being her biggest source of inspiration, and saying how she wished her mom could be there in St. Pete to be a part of the launch. I remember Kate sharing how she pushes forward every day trying not to be her own worst enemy and the person that holds herself back. All of that, struck a chord with me - reminders to love myself more, and to love those around me more.

To everyone who came out to support us: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I hope you took away inspiration from the evening and created new connections and friendships. For those of you who were unable to make it, but would like to become a member and join us at our next event, you can apply here. For my non-Tampa friends who are interested in joining a local chapter or creating one, find more info here

Local Bites: Local Legendary Burger at the Hard Rock Cafe in Tampa

by Jennifer Thai in ,

Personally, I've yet to find an extremely good, artisan burger in Tampa. If I find myself having a serious craving for one, I either have to settle for a plain-ish burger at a chain spot that's nearby, or I have to drive all the way to the St. Pete side.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa invited me to come to the Hard Rock Cafe to try their new Local Legendary Burger - The Ol' Bay Burger. A Local Legendary Burger is a burger that each Hard Rock Cafe around the world creates to reflect its local culture - a month-long contest was held throughout Seminole Hard Rock Tampa's Food and Beverage Department and the winning burger, The Ol' Bay Burger, was chosen.


The Ol' Bay Burger was created by Chef Doug, who wanted to incorporate a crab cake, a popular treat in the Tampa Bay Area, into his creation. The burger features: 

  • A crab cake made with jumbo lump crab meat
  • Jack cheese
  • House made 8 oz. burger seasoned with Old Bay
  • Freshly sliced tomatoes
  • Shredded lettuce
  • House made 'Davy Jones' sauce

I found out three things during this visit:

  1. The Ol' Bay Burger is really delicious.   It is full of flavor, between the juicy burger, crab cake rich in crab meat and the special 'Davy Jones' sauce.
  2. The Hard Rock Cafe has really good steak fries! I had zero expectations for the fries going in, but they were perfectly hot and crispy and were delicious when dipped into the 'Davy Jones' sauce.
  3. They also have really awesome pickles that are preserved in vinegar for just one day - they're crunchy and have just the right amount of sour in them, and pair perfectly with the burger. 

If you've never thought of going to the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa solely for the food, you're missing out. This is just one of many delicious food finds that are hiding away in the midst of slot machines - if you're looking for a new burger to try, I highly recommend you give this one a try!

 The Hard Rock Cafe is located at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and you can view the menu here.

*Disclosure: The meal featured in this post was provided by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for feature and for an honest review. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino or the Hard Rock Cafe.

Healthy Hair Styling With MONAT

by Jennifer Thai in

I have naturally straight hair, but I love to curl it and create wavy, textured locks! Other than the occasional mist of hairspray, I'm hesitant to put other products in my hair - mainly because I don't want to load it up with harsh chemicals and partially because I don't need any more oil in my hair than I already seem to accumulate.

MONAT reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in trying some of their hair products - I was really interested in the fact that the ingredients in the products are naturally-based and sustainable. What's extremely helpful is that all of the items in their online storefront have the ingredients listed, so you know exactly what's in the product you're purchasing. I was also interested in finding out whether I could discover a new product that wouldn't add shine and oil to my hair, so I happily agreed and received the Replenish Masque and the Restyle Instant Sculpting Taffy.

This Jenn Girl - MONAT Global 1
This Jenn Girl - MONAT Global 2

I used both of these products for three weeks - the Replenish Masque replaced my usual conditioner and the Restyle Instant Sculpting Taffy replaced my hairspray. I am in love with the smell of these products! The best part is, there are no harsh fragrances, harmful colors, parabens, sulfates or other nasty chemicals that can slowly destroy your hair and effect your health.

I also love the way my hair feels. I've been happily running my hands through my hair, noticing that it's got more of a bounce and lightweight feeling, and most importantly, no added oiliness. The Replenish Masque revitalizes my post-shampoo tangled hair and makes it feel so smooth and nourished, while the Restyle Instant Sculpting Taffy does an amazing job of adding texture to my hair and keeping my curls from losing their bounce in the Florida humidity.

Day 1 Post Shampoo

Day 1 Post Shampoo

Day 2 Post Shampoo

Day 2 Post Shampoo

Overall, I'm extremely pleased and impressed with the MONAT products I've tried so far. At $50 and $34 price points, the Replenish Masque and Restyle Instant Sculpting Taffy are at a higher end than your usual drugstore hair brands, but considering the all-natural, botanical ingredients and how they've made my hair feel and look in just under a month, I truly believe that they are well worth it.

*Disclosure: The product featured in this post was provided by MONAT Global for feature/review. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of MONAT Global.