Two Wonderful Things We Love This Month

By , Alicia Capetillo, Editor-in-Chief SparkPeople
Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!

Savor: Spirit Animal Crackers for Adults

I have a confession: I am an aggressively bad snacker. I break a lot of snacking rules and I'm actively trying to perfect my snacking strategy so it helps my overall goals, rather than rudely hinders them. In an effort to overhaul my bad habit of diving into last year's Easter candy or finding my hand at the bottom of a bag of plantain chips (again), I keep an eye out for foods that can satisfy my need to snack, while offering some kind of nutritional value or keeping me full instead of jonesing for even more salty or sweet goodness.

While I've replaced overly processed granola bars with homemade popcorn and fun-sized candy bars with a banana and peanut butter, the weakness I can't seem to shake is the craving for crunchy crackers. Cheez-Its, Cheetos, Teddy Grahams, Wheat Thins—you name it, I've eaten half a box or bag in one sitting. There's just something about the texture, crunching sound and taste that get me hooked every time. I very well might have been the inspiration behind Pringles' "Once You Pop, You Can't Stop" slogan. I know they're chips, but they might have been spying on me, guys.

Despite finding substitutes for a lot of my other bad snacking habits, the crunchy craving persists and I, time after time, succumb.

A few weeks ago, I received a box that promised to change my snacking future. Inside, I found Good Zebra Spirit Animal Crackers. The sharp packaging and "black + white [nothing shady]" tagline spoke to my millennial self, but it was the animals depicted on the crackers themselves that initially sold me. Leave the circus elephants and tigers to the kids—Good Zebra upped the cool ante, taking inspiration from tattoo artists for their 11 unique animal shapes, instead. And that's just the packaging. Inside is the real deal.

Photo courtesy of Good Zebra.

Currently available in three flavors—lemon, chai and vanilla—the crunchy cookies smell divine when you crack open the resealable bag. A quick peek at the ingredient list reveals various organic products, including the coconut palm sugar and honey which the cookies can thank for their hint of sweetness. The two-ounce bag contains approximately 20 cookies, a surprising 12 grams of protein and just 230 calories. If you're watching your sugar intake, it's important to note that despite having no added sugar, the natural sugars do account for 15 grams so practice moderation as you would with any snack.

As a satisfaction-later person I popped open the chai crackers first, thinking they would be my least favorite, but after enjoying the exceptional spice and sweet flavor, I've already ordered another box as of this writing. After a few bites of the lemon, I'm convinced that you can do no wrong with whichever flavor you prefer. Thanks to its high protein count—courtesy of pea protein—I have yet to eat all 20 crackers in one sitting, finding myself nibbling on the too-cool-for-elementary-school critters slowly and popping them back in my snack drawer after my stomach snacking demon has been satisfied.

Good Zebra founder Erika Szychowski developed the idea for her better animal crackers after finding it impossible to find packable, no-sugar-added snacks for her busy international travel schedule. Rather than grumble and begrudgingly step into line for Cinnabon again, she decided to do something about it and, thus, Good Zebra was born. From one avid traveler to another, thank you, Erika. I'll be throwing these in my carry-on and giving shade to the Gardetto's beckoning me from the airport convenience store for years to come.

And while they're certainly not better than a handful of grape tomatoes or carrots, Good Zebra's tasty adult-friendly animal crackers deliver on their promise to offer a simple snack that packs a tasty flavor, perfect for the compulsive snacker and travelers alike. Plus, their website just told me my spirit animal is a dragon and described me as "a mythical king of the 'jungle'" so I'm pretty much a customer for life.

Spark: "But I Can Control My Legs"

There are hundreds, probably thousands, maybe even millions of inspirational Instagram accounts (I mean, do you follow SparkPeople?), and they're all great for a mid-morning boost or a quick smile to get you through bad days. Humans of New York is one of my all-time favorites for a lot of reasons. For the unfamiliar, Humans of New York started as a photography project to showcase the city's residents and now offers a raw glimpse into the lives of strangers, both in New York and all over the world.

I studied journalism, so the simplicity of sharing people's stories gets me right in the feels, but I also find that the kindness, vulnerability, courage and humor that results from their simple project makes us all feel more connected, more understood. You'll find stories of love, loss, trial and error, comedy and tragedy. More than once I've read through a story, thinking in my head "I can't believe I'm not the only person who thinks that way! Hallelujah for that mini-miracle."

One such story struck me as so SparkPeople last month and I couldn't wait to share it:

"A lot of younger people pass by me while I’m running. It’s a bit of a metaphor for the rest of my life. I turned forty-seven in October. I’m starting to have bosses that are younger than me. It’s causing me to question what my experience is worth. I’m noticing that my younger colleagues are more adventurous and take more risks—either because they don’t know about failure or they don’t care. As I get older, I feel like more and more of my life is outside my control. That’s why I started training for the marathon. I want to be in control of something. I can’t control current events. I can’t control politics. I can’t even control my personal relationships. But I can control my legs. I can put one leg in front of the other. I can decide the miles that I run each day, each week, each month. And it feels great. I get a rush every time I make it to the top of a hill."

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Preach! If ever there was a quote that I needed printed and framed above the dresser where I keep my gym clothes, it's this one. Her positive attitude about the things she cannot control and the decision to use training for a marathon to combat those feelings get my "Yes, girl, yessss" high five of the day, week and month.  

Getting healthy means so many things to so many people, but at the end of the day, it is all about being in control of your own happiness. Taking care of yourself both mentally and physically is the best gift to your body for all it does for you. It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter if you've never been athletic. It doesn't matter if you've yo-yo dieted in the past. It doesn't matter if everyone in your life is telling you you can't. It doesn't matter if you kind of think you can't, too. All that matters is putting one foot in front of the other and deciding that today is a day that you're going to do something that makes you feel better. Get to the top of each metaphorical hill and pat yourself on the back because you've done something great and you are something wonderful.

What does health or fitness mean to your life?