Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Follow-Up Product Reviews, part II - The Flops

This post is the counterpart to my post on items that I've reviewed during this blog's tenure that I still use.  While I'm not going to cover every item that has just not caught my attention one way or another, I will focus on disappointments in this post.

Yes, this probably means I've wasted a lot of money (or time, in the case of review freebies), but how do you know what you want if you don't know what you don't want?  Sounds like dating...

The list begins with a lot of food/supplement items that make me wary, and the other half are items that are fine but never/rarely get used.  As a cliché disclaimer, what hasn't worked for me might work for someone else.  We're all different, after all. This is not to say that the products are inherently no good.

The "Flops"

1) Vega Sport Protein

Not to be mistaken with the Vega Sport Optimizer, which I think is great.  This stuff smelled and tasted like... rotting food.  I had such high expectations of this stuff, and to this day, I still have some faded green spots on the seatbelt of my car because of the gagging reaction I had when I drank (or tried to drink) this after a race.  On that same thread, the bars are probably in this same category.

2) Whole Foods Soy Protein Powder (Natural Vanilla)

Unpalatable... plus, I have cut down my soy consumption, so I will never buy another soy protein powder again.

3) ThinkThin Bars and Perfect Foods Bar

Besides their corny name, I can't stand the whey taste in the ThinkThin bars, and I'm pretty sure most whey bars would fall into the same category.  I just thought these would be different somehow...

Similar issues with the Perfect Foods Bar, except they are much more expensive.  Every time I see these in the store, I move away.

4) C9 Shorts with Zippered Pockets

I did wear these for a while, but then I realized my folly as I started to run more, and chafing ensued.  After one marathon, the stuff that I squirreled away in these pockets chafed my thigh so badly that it took more than a month to go away.  Plus, the bouncing in the pockets was not fun.  Still, for recreational purposes, I guess this would work.  Not hating on Target's workout clothing... just didn't work for me.

5) Amazing Grass

I thought these would be tasty for some reason, but they were just... grassy.  I'm sure I could have benefited more if I blended them into a smoothie, but I don't really make those too often.

6) Pacific Foods Hemp Milk

I mentioned in the other post that I mainly drink almond milk now, though hemp would be my second choice if not for the cost.  It tends to be creamier and more nutritious.  Anyway, this is one version I tried I would never touch again.

7) Voskos Greek Yogurt and Goat Yogurt

I've stopped eating Greek yogurt, and most other yogurts besides the occasional soy, completely.  Just realized that no matter what claims about enzymes, bacteria, or whatnot, my stomach still gets upset when I eat them.  But Voskos has given me the worst reaction and is calorie-heavy for a yogurt, so it is appearing here.

When it comes to goat yogurt, or most goat cheeses except dry crumbled feta, I have now realized I will never grow up to like the taste of game.

8) Vegan Grated Topping

Ah, this stuff.  I bought it in the height of my vegan-curious days, as if I missed grated parm that much that I would need this strange-tasting substitute.  Nowadays, I will either microplane some cheese that I know I'm not going to get sick over, use nutritional yeast or garlic powder, or even some leftover frozen cashew "cheeze" to get my fix.  In general, I have deviated from trying to replace certain things like this and don't really miss them anymore.

9) Better n' Peanut Butter

This stuff is just gummy and gross.  I'd rather eat real peanut butter, thanks.  Whenever I see people eating it or mentioning it, my eyebrow raises.

10) Dr. Scholl's High Heel Inserts

These do the opposite of what they are supposed to do, which is make your feet feel better in cute shoes.  It could just be my flat feet, though.

11) Zenzah Compression Socks

I wanted to like these.  I used a web coupon to get them for $25 (50% off), but when I wore them to run, I found they did NOT provide the tightness that I needed for compression.  Additionally, the socks have caused me to get blisters.  Nowadays, I wear this pre-race or for recovery after a run, but I really don't think it "does" anything.  They are certainly cute and warm, though!

12) Treadmill for the workplace

I blogged about this and have yet to really use it.  While I like the idea of being active at work, I can't even imagine multi-tasking like this.  I would rather just get my work done more efficiently and get a faster workout in later.

13) Amphipod RunLite Hydration Belt

I liked this and used it for a while, but I could never get over the bouncing and difficulty of putting the little bottles back on the belt after drinking.  I have since learned that handhelds are better.

14) Invisible Shoes / Huraches

These simple sandals are supposed to transition people to barefoot running.  I guess I never took to the idea of "barefoot" running, so likewise, these never really took off with me.

15) ChiRunning

I made a long attempt to master this technique and still think about it often, but I don't think the subtle changes in gait have been very beneficial.

16) Yoga

I have tried so many times to get into this, but I just can't.  Short of attending a live class (which is costly), I can only hope that P90X's version is entertaining enough.

17) The Stick and Foam Rollers

I will use a foam roller if I have a kink in my neck or back, but otherwise, I have not been the best about using these.  In general, what works best for me after run longs and races is gentle stretching, light walking, and rest.

18) Phiten Sports Necklace

I wore my necklace religiously for a while, about a year.  Even when I lost one, I spent another $30+ on a replacement!  I really thought these prevented injuries or boosted my performance, but honestly, I think that was all a placebo effect.  That's really too bad, because it looks so cool on the pro athletes.

19) K-T Tape

When I first discovered them, I fell in love with this tape that could be customized in many different ways for different injuries.  However, I have not been injured for more than a year, and when I was, it would be a weird place where taping was difficult an ineffective (IT band, hamstring).  "The Ukrainian" used these in his calves to prevent cramping, but they kept coming loose, so he has since switched over to compression sleeves.

20) Vapur Bottles

I have pretty much completely weaned myself off of bottled water.  Now, I drink out of a canteen-style sipping bottle from "The Ukrainian"'s company.  It's heavy and sometimes leaks, but it keeps my water cool and is so easy to drink from.  However, an intermediate step for me was the Vapur bottle, which is light-weight and BPA-free.  I stopped using this mainly because it was odd-shaped and the sport-top wasn't exactly what I wanted.  However, that didn't stop me from giving away a bunch of them, and I don't think any of the recipients are using them, either.  One person had theirs leak.  Another almost stopped me from taking a sip because they thought I was about to guzzle detergent.

21) Shoe Deodorizers

I have found that the best thing for controlling the smell of your shoes is to air them out.  Nowadays, I will rarely stuff used shoes in a bag or box without letting them air out first.  Sure beats funky sprays and balls that get lost!

22) Sport Wash

I am so glad that Tide Detergent makes a sport version of their detergent, eliminating the need for me to purchase an expensive little bottle of wash that frankly doesn't smell all that great.

23) Fanny Pack

Enough said.

24) Nike+ iPod Sport Kit

I realize that there are newer versions of this, but now that I have a Garmin, I don't need to deal with shoe pouches, faulty chips, and iPods.


I truly think that a lot of items I have purchased were out of boredom.  In the past, I had a lot more free time to explore.  Nowadays, although there might be more disposable income, things have gotten really simple, while my schedule to try things has become more hectic.  In reality, people don't really "need" a lot of things, even though they are nice to have.  When a lot of these "things" accumulate, they can really make a big mess, both in a physical and mental space.

I've learned to do more research before buying something, which is sort of why this post, and the previous one, were put into existence.


  1. I agree about handhelds -- so much easier!

  2. Agree on the Zensah socks! They are not tight enough for running compression - I do like them for plane rides or post-run, or as boot socks (wore them in NYC at Xmas time, lol) though :)

  3. I like your honest evaluations. I would agree, I can't imagine running shorts with pockets would work very well at all. I think I would hate that. And I think I have at least 3 hydration belts that I never wear for the reason you mention. I am strictly a hand held bottle guy now!