I was invited on this trip as a #NOWWellness Influencer, and received product samples from NOW® to thank me for my participation, but all opinions are genuinely my own.
#NOWWellness50 Influencer Trip Recap
You guys know I’m a long time fan and supporter of NOW® Foods. Their products have been a big part of my life for the past several years, and many of them have become household staples. Can you imagine my excitement when the company invited me to visit their headquarters and and see how my favorites are made?
I didn’t have to go far – Bloomingdale, IL where the factory is located is only a couple hours away from my home, so I hopped on a train and was soon greeted by a friendly driver that NOW® sent to pick me up from Union Station in Chicago.
We arrived at Eaglewood Resort & Spa where I met with Alana, who has been my NOW® point of contact for a very long time. It was so nice to finally meet her in person! Alana handed me the key to the room, which was on the second floor, so I had a nice view of the golf course. There’s nothing quite like the fall in the Midwest – the colors were spectacular!
As soon as I entered the room, I immediately spotted two huge orange bags filled with NOW® goodies waiting on the desk. Looks like Santa came early this year!
Since I arrived a little early, I decided to drop off my luggage and check out the premises. The resort is pretty large and has its own golf course, 3 restaurants, a SPA, a large indoor swimming pool, and even a 6-lane bowling alley. After the walk I returned to my room to rest a little and prepare for the upcoming activities.
DAY 1 ACTIVITIES:
First on the agenda we had the Iron Chef Challenge. We were greeted by the VP of Global Sales & Marketing Dan Richard, and Jim Emme, the CEO. NOW® is a family business, and I definitely felt like family talking to these super important men as if we’ve known each other for ages.
When everything was ready, R&D Corporate Chef and a former MasterChef contestant Suzy Singh gave us a demo on making a yummy blueberry sauce. I make something very similar at home, so I was happy to see that it gets a real chef’s seal of approval. After the demo we were split into teams and our Iron Chef challenge was to create an appetizer and a mocktail using NOW® products along with the provided pantry items [various proteins, fruits, yogurt, veggies, etc].
I must admit, although I consider myself a pretty decent home cook, I totally crack under pressure, especially when a time limit is involved. I swear, everyone else on my team had it together, except for me, haha!
We ended up making garlicky zucchini-artichoke crostini with goat cheese and herbs. For our mocktail we chose to go with a berry-infused bubbly. It turned out great, even though we didn’t win. Everyone else did such an amazing job, too!
After the challenge we were invited to dinner. Before the trip Alana asked everyone about their food preferences, and my only request was a gluten-free meal. Although I always suspected that gluten is one of my main migraine triggers, I was finally officially diagnosed with gluten sensitivity this summer by my neurologist via controlled elimination diet. To be honest, I haven’t completely given up gluten yet, but I reduced my intake by 90% which is a biiig step considering how much I love bread.
P.S.: Now makes my favorite gluten-free pasta, and it tastes amazing! I highly recommend giving it a try.
And just like that, Day 1 of #NOWWellness50 influencer trip was over.
DAY 2 ACTIVITIES:
I made sure to go to bed early since we had to gather down at the lobby at 6:40am. I am totally a night owl so I normally wouldn’t be awake at this time. To my own surprise, I woke up feeling refreshed and well-rested, so I put on my workout clothes and waltzed down to the reception area to meet up with Alana and the rest of the group. It was time for the HIIT kickboxing workout, and you guys, every muscle in my body was sore for days afterwards! One of the key components of post-workout recovery is making sure your body stays hydrated, so I kept refilling my bottle with NOW® Sports BCAA Big 6, which tastes like a delicious watermelon juice. Definitely going to keep this one in mind for future cardio exercises.
By the way, I normally do quick Youtube workouts or slow-paced yoga, so this fast-paced sweaty class was quite a challenge. I took a couple of breaks during the class and finished at my own pace still feeling like a winner. After all, any activity is better than no activity!
After the workout we were offered to make our own nutritious smoothies at the smoothie bar, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect – by 8am I was starving! NOW® Sports Brand Manager Brian Morin gave us a quick run down of some of the line’s most popular products, and explained in more detail how they are tested by a third party to ensure that there are no traces of any contaminants or banned substances. It was also my first time learning about MCT oil, which I am probably going to add to my diet.
I had pretty much the same smoothie that I make at home:
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup of spinach
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1/2 banana
- 1/4 cup NOW® Sports Egg White Protein Powder
- 1 tbs NOW Real Food® Organic Hemp Seed Hearts
- 1 tbs NOW Real Food® Organic Flax Seeds
- a couple ice cubes
After the smoothie break we had about an hour to take a shower, get changed out of our sweaty gym clothes, and have a quick breakfast before hopping onto a bus and heading over to Bloomingdale for a plant tour. When we arrived to the facility, everyone was given a pair of gloves, a special protective coat, glasses, a hair net, and shoe covers. We pretty much all looked the same so it was hard to tell who is who, haha!
NOW® makes more than 1,400 products, so I was expecting to see a pretty large factory, but it was even bigger than I imagined. The inside of the facility was immaculate! I’ve been on factory tours before and none of them were ever this clean. There was almost an air of sterility to this cleanliness, everything just looked so shiny and polished. We were guided by NOW® Nutrition Education Manager Neil Levin, who showed us some of their most expensive lab equipment and even let us take a closer look at some of the machines and conveyors making our favorite supplements, essential oils, skincare etc. Watching those big machines stick labels on the bottles was oddly satisfying. 🙂
At the end of the tour we were joined by Jim Emme again, so him and Neil answered a few more questions we had regarding plans for future product releases, their stance on the recent negative press surrounding the multivitamin market, and Neil also gave us some quick advice on calcium specifically. You know what they say, if you can’t explain something in plain words you don’t really understand the subject. Jim and Neil used terms that were easy to comprehend even for someone who doesn’t know much about nutrition and the science behind certain ingredients. I could tell right away how passionate Neil was about his job, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Jim knows a great deal about science-related topics, too.
After the plant tour we gathered at NOW® corporate offices for lunch catered by Whole Foods, and a quick DIY beauty class.
NOW® sells a lot of raw materials to make personal care products at home for those who like things to be 100% fresh and 100% natural. We made a relaxing bath soak and a refreshing facial mist, both of which came in handy when I finally got home later that night.
I heard this phrase repeated many times in many different ways throughout this short trip, and NOW® clearly wanted to get the message across. By choosing their products, you can rest assured that what you see on the label is exactly what you will find in the bottle. Third party testing is no joke, and it’s especially important for professional athletes. While I am not a sports pro, it still matters a great deal to me as an influencer and a regular consumer. My goal as a blogger is to only promote companies that deliver high quality products, it’s why I started Glamorable in the first place.
After this trip I feel even better about supporting NOW®. I’m really happy that I had this opportunity to connect with the company and other bloggers passionate about health and wellness, and I’ll be sure to update you on my favorite NOW® finds in the future more often.
P.S. If you want to see videos from the trip, check out my Instagram highlights!