The life of a student-athlete might sometimes feel challenging. Competing on the highest American college level requires dedication and time. Every time you step on the court or improve your fitness you have to give the maximum effort. You know that you are not only trying to improve yourself but also do the best to push your teammates to their limit. Then there is the other side of your life. The life when you have to be able to crunch those equations, learn the ancient Roman history and create new business models after a long day full of practices and lectures. The life of a student-athlete is balancing with athletic training and gaining knowledge. Sometimes it is challenging.
Discovering healthier lifestyle
Until this summer I was all about getting those carbs and proteins. The only essential nutrition components of an athlete, right? Even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy my meals neither felt good after eating I kept going. Having asthma, popping allergy pills and being sick in a fairly regular cycle came natural to me. It was until my asthma got a lot worse and none of the doctors seemed to have an answer. After hours and hours of research and many great advices I slowly started to change my nutrition. That was also when I bumped into Four Sigma Foods and their products.
30-Days of The Lion’s Mane
I signed up for the FSF-Challenge and got chosen to try the Lion’s Mane, which is a herb blend with Lion’s Mane mushroom. Having a sweet tooth like me, the Lion’s Mane was an excellent tea replacement with a great licorice-like taste. Even though I really enjoy it in hot water I also find it easy to use in my post-workout smoothies and after Tero’s advice, also in raw chocolate.
One of the major problems in my student-athlete life used to be staying awake and focusing in long night classes. I found the Lion’s Mane to have a relaxing effect while at the same time keeping me focused and alert. As I’m still experimenting simultaneously with a lot of different foods, it is difficult to evaluate if Lion’s Mane boosted my cognitive abilities and improved my memory, but I think these results will be seen in a longer period of time.
All I can say is that since I started to eat healthier I feel a lot better and more energetic than before. I haven’t been sick once and my skin looks a lot better. Not only is my food looking better than before, it also tastes better. Even though I still have asthma and allergies, I believe that with a healthier nutrition I can at least reduce the symptoms. Four Sigma Foods’ easy-to-use products fit perfectly my hectic lifestyle and will be part of my nutrition also in the future.
David completed his FSF Challenge with LUONTOlife Spark, which is no longer being sold. Spark’s equivalent product is now called Instant Cordyceps. The only difference recipe wise between Spark and Instant Cordyceps is the taste – Instant Cordyceps is sweetened with Stevia and is more appealing to most people.. or not as taste is a completely subjective matter.
My name is David Brickhill-Jones and im an Australian that has been living in Scandinavia for over 10yrs now. The last 5yrs in Helsinki, Finland. I moved here as an Orienteer, and have competed in many World Championships, World Cups, Jukolas etc etc over the last decade. I also compete in running races, from 5kms on the track up to the 100km+ Ultra Distances. While im 31yrs old now, i still have a few years running at the top of my sports. And any extra supplements like what LuontoLife makes, will hopefully keep me in the game for longer. Putting in up to 200kms a week running needs a lot of energy, and controlling this, by my eating and supplements is a very important challenge, one that the superfood groups seem to be helping with.
I first heard about LuontoLifes products through Pauli, when he gave me some Spark to try out. I was certainly intrigued by these superfood products. When training 13-14 times a week, any products that may give a certain advantage were certainly worth the try.
Aimee completed her FSF Challenge with LUONTOlife Spark, which is no longer being sold. Spark’s equivalent product is now called FSF Instant Cordyceps. The only difference recipe wise between Spark and Instant Cordyceps is the taste – Instant Cordyceps is sweetened with Stevia and is more appealing to most people.. or not as taste is a completely subjective matter.
Studying two degrees, working two jobs and training for iron woman racing my average week flies by. However, having to deal with Ross River Fever and Glandular fever for four years, 2011 marked a year of return to serious training and racing for myself.
Having had two serious viruses in the past I still find fatigue a hard battle to fight even though I am so fit and healthy. I struggle a lot with fatigue not only in the water but also in the classroom.
Stumbling across LUONTOlife one day on the Internet when I was researching a packaging design assignment, I was instantly impressed by their website. So impressed, with their clean consistent designs showcased on the website, it was natural for me to ‘like’ Four Sigma Foods on Facebook. I then went another step further and tweeted to Four Sigma Foods how nicely their website and products were designed.
Four Sigma Foods then got in touch with me and offered for me to trial their product Spark. I took an instant liking. My training performances improved, while staying awake and alert in two-hour lectures at university became a lot easier.
Loving Spark so much I decided then to take up the Four Sigma Foods 30day Challenge. Choosing to undertake the 30day challenge towards the business end of my surf life saving season, after 7days into the challenge I found I was able to study for longer periods of time. I also felt Spark helped me immensely with my recovering time between races as the day got on. Spending anywhere from 6-8hours on the beach the Australian sun can become quite taxing.
At the end of the 30days, my grades at university improved and my body was feeling the best it had in a few years.
One thing I didn’t enjoy too much about spark was the actual taste of the product. As I am an avid sweet tooth fan I found it difficult some days too drink it. The drink I found is quite bitter. For anyone how is thinking about trialling spark and has a sweet tooth like myself I recommend buying flavoured tea bags. Each day I have my spark mix in with warm raspberry and pomegranate flavoured tea and bitterness of spark is almost unnoticeable.
I speak highly of Spark and would recommend it too anyone looking for the extra kick!
Photos: Matti Hallanoro
Mårten completed his FSF Challenge with LUONTOlife Spark, which is no longer being sold. Spark’s equivalent product is now called FSF Instant Cordyceps. The only difference recipe wise between Spark and Instant Cordyceps is the taste – Instant Cordyceps is sweetened with Stevia and is more appealing to most people.. or not as taste is a completely subjective matter.
I started my FSF Challenge month soon after running a 2.21’03″ marathon in Rotterdam. After fading badly after halfway (1.08’30″) my time was not going to be enough to qualify for the London Olympic Marathon, even if my time was the 2nd best by a Finn for the year.
My expectation before starting the FSF Challenge month was that I would feel a difference in my recovering ability at some point but did not expect a significant change right from day 1. My stomach got slightly upset during the first week but after that I was able to digest the SPARK-shots without trouble. The recovering period after running a marathon is always a great stress for the body and the ways the body starts feeling energetic again differs after each one. I did skiing the first week in order to keep the blood flowing without ground-impact in the legs. Two weeks after the marathon I was already ready to do orienteering in the woods, but my body was not quite ready for running on hard surface. Shorter distances in the woods were OK already 3 weeks after the marathon, which might have been partly due to Luontolife’s SPARK.
Unfortunately I suffered some setbacks in health through troublesome Achilles tendons a few weeks later as I had started to run in lighter shoes. There were a few races lately I had to withdraw from before reaching the finish line, but I feel like I have been quite well-balanced to face these difficulties. Other from sports my life has included quite big changes as my duty in a development project on Zanzibar (Tanzania) ended in February and I have tried to find a new occupation to keep me busy in between double-daily runs. Moving back to Helsinki, Finland has been another stress factor, during which having good nutrition has been a key factor.
As an elite athlete I strive to perfect all the aspects in my life to serve a healthier physique. Nutrition is a clear foundation in my mind. I have not been exposed to super foods without actively searching for knowledge about them. During my time studying at a hippy Flagstaff, Arizona there were some interesting people munching on stuff I had never heard of before. I have had times when my body really demands a certain chow – is it because we are able to identify which nutrients we are lacking at the moment? Perhaps, but how on earth could we respond to those calls if we have not been introduced to all the functional super foods available on our planet? I feel like our society has a tendency to focus on negative shocking news too much in favor for enlightening lessons from our surroundings. Modern medicine has taken over with a focus on revenue on the cost of putting the spotlight on making us live healthier.
I hope my experience from the FSF Challenge will keep me focused on living my life to my potential as doing so is a choice each and everyone have the chance to make!
- Mårten Boström
I’m a professional volleyball from Finland and I’ve been representing our national team for roughly 5-years now. During that time I’ve played in two European Volleyball Championships and in three Volleyball World Leagues. In the latter I’ve been fighting against the best teams in the world and even been able to once win Brazil. If I need to comment about my accomplishments a bit, then I guess being ranked as the best players in my position in two World Leagues must be “the” thing. I’ve also been back in the days 5th at the Beach Volleyball Youth World Champs, but I had to give up on beach volley quite early on as the indoor national team always plays their tournaments during the summer.
I’ve also played one season as a pro in France, after which I noticed that the lifestyle of a professional indoor volleyball player was not for me and therefore decided to return back to home to concentrate on my Uni studies. Right now I’m studying in the University of Jyväskylä at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences. My dreams are more and more focused around music and exploring the world! We’ll see where I’m in five years…
My Experiences on Instant Cordyceps
My FSF Challenge was quite twofold. I started using the Instant Cordyceps(previously known as Spark) first for one month with moderate dosage (1 sachet per day) during my study period. I felt great using the product for this month! It improved my quality of sleep and thus resulted in more energy for my daily routines. Being so excited about the product I continued the test for another month with a more intense 3 sachet per day pace, and that didn’t unfortunately bring as bright results…
My second test period started in the backend of April just as I started my intense national team training camp in Kuortane, Finland. During the first week of intense use I felt pretty normal. Nothing super, nothing bad. I trained extremely hard twice a day, and the training camp in Finland was immediately followed by another training camp in Spain. I continued my daily use of Instant Cordyceps and also my arduous exercise regime. Due to my studies I had not trained so hard in a while, so I started to feel slightly lethargic towards the end, but nothing I hadn’t felt before in my career. At the end of the camp I started to notice a surprising effect in my body. My breath was getting tighter during the evenings, which was a bit unexpected as Cordyceps is especially known to help with lungs and our respiratory system. This was the first spring/summer I had felt slight allergic reactions, but since I didn’t want to risk to upcoming Olympic Trials and World Cup, I decided to stop using Instant Cordyceps. As it was an intense few weeks, I’m not sure quite sure what caused my lung pain, but surely Instant Cordyceps didn’t stop it.
Pulling It All Together
So this time I couldn’t do the whole 30-day FSF Challenge, which bugs me out a bit. Especially when on the first time around I felt so good with using the product. I guess our body works in mysterious ways where something that works for one, might not work for another. And what works now, might not work in the future.
I still want to thank all the FSF Team members for giving me the chance to participate in this challenge. It was interesting to test the product and I’m absolutely I will be using various superfoods in the future…just need to find the right combos :)
Be good! :)
I’m a professional Olympic style boxer who has represented both Finland and Estonia in international tournaments. Right now I’m happily the ruling Nordic, Baltic, Estonian and Finnish champion in my weight class (super heavyweight). I was also able to win two well respected international tournaments last year (GeeBee and Tammer). As I write this I’m getting ready for my main goal of the year – the qualifying tournament for the London 2012 Summer Olympics held in Trabzon, Turkey. My dream is to feel the Olympic spirit! :)
As you can imagine life of a boxer is not easy. Even on an average week I train 9-11 times hard and thus my body is often both mentally and physically literally beaten. I can totally agree with the ESPNs comment that boxing is the world’s most difficult sport. I think that in order to succeed in boxing – and in life for that matter – you have to be willing to work extremely hard and to believe in yourself. Being said that, I think you should still maintain an open mind to new things. And especially in nutrition I have applied this principle while trying to find the things that truly work for my body.
During the last year I’ve been extensively testing every “superfood” product on the market. I thought why not give them a chance since I can always go back to the things I ate before. So I have recently tested everything from spirulina to velvet antler. Well, some of them work and some don’t.
How the Trial Proceed
Beginning of 2012 Erkki from LUONTOlife called me and told me about Instant Cordyceps. He gave me a box of that and a box of Instant Reishi. I was just about to go to a tough Estonian national team training camp so it was best possible acid test for any new product. After that I trained a while in Finland while drinking Instant Cordyceps during my second daily workout, which is usually sparring.
In March I was in the Olympic qualifying bid preparation camp in Italy with roughly five of the TOP 10 guys in the world including world champions and Olympic gold medal winners. There I trained three times a day while using Instant Cordyceps. On a typical day the first exercise was a 10 min warm up run, 4-5 times 3 min with different shadow boxing combinations, and both push ups and sit ups in between the sets. After roughly a 2.5 hour rest we had a set anaerobic runs with variety of different intensities/lengths. And then after a 4.5-5 hour rest we did the main exercise of the day focusing purely on boxing. We did either 9 different sparring rounds or 6 technique rounds and 3 sparring rounds. For those who are not so familiar with the world of boxing I can tell you that after a day like this with the big boys you never have a problem getting sleep.
The Surprising Effects
As I have a world-class fitness level, I didn’t feel that I need to use any product like this to recover from every little exercise. But when you have already done 1-2 exercises and you’re getting ready to prepare for the toughest session of the day, then I thought taking this Cordyceps based instant drink was creating remarkable boost to my body. Actually I found Instant Cordyceps to be one of the best – if not the best – superfood products on the market for a person like me. It gave me energy, mental focus, and helped me to recover faster from spars/intervals.
Now I do need to give full disclaimer. No product I have ever used has replaced the need to for rest! Not even this one. After 5 days in Italy doing my 6th spar round I was just shredded despite all the Instant Cordyceps I had drank. So before going into more sophisticated things like herbs and superfoods, any athlete or amateur should remember the importance of recovery times.
I think Instant Cordyceps works especially well when you need to sweat even the last resources out from your soul to the gym floor. As a pro athlete I can’t tell how well this will work a person who doesn’t live an active life, but if you practise any sport even a little bit I would recommend you try the Instant Cordyceps. And the same by the way goes to the Instant Reishi. But with serious athletes I think they could get 110-115% out of their training regime with a normal 100% input. And this extra force will make you a winner on no matter level you are.
People, remember to stay active in your life and look at what you are eating!
Peace and love,
Cover image: Douglas Symon
About 4 years ago I totally changed my lifestyle, eating habits and even my thinking. Ever since I’ve been experimenting with different superfoods and my diet probably seems quite unusual to many people with all the spirulina, chlorella, chaga and especially my daily green “swamp smoothies”. That said, I am very used to different kinds of superfoods and did not hesitate when I was asked to take part in Four Sigma Foods Challenge.
I lead quite an active life and have found that diet plays the main role in having enough energy to do everything I want. My immunity has always been quite low, although after my lifestyle change it has grown stronger; and I stress very easily. Reishi boosts the immune system, reduces stress and improves the quality of sleep among many other good qualities, so FSF Instant Reishi was just the right product for me to try.
Photo: “Swamp smoothie” with a lot of spirulina and other greens. Instant Reishi goes well into any kind of smoothies!
The First Week of FSF Challenge
I started the challenge with three sachets a day, as advised. The first thing I noticed was the taste, which I found very pleasant and not bitter at all. I did not need to use honey with Instant Reishi was recommended in the sachets. The feeling after drinking Instant Reishi was light and energetic. During the first week I had even too much energy and did not get much of sleep. I would suggest starting with a lower dose, maybe with one or two sachets a day, if you are very sensitive or new to reishi. Running is my dearest hobby, and during the first week I was able to add more kilometers to my regimen even after a short break in training.
From Sleep Walking to Quality Sleep
After the first week I sometimes forgot to take all the 3 sachets a day, but still discovered some very nice benefits. The best effect I noticed was the improved quality of sleep. I’m a very bad sleeper and even tend to sleepwalk, but after the first week of the FSF Challenge I started to sleep very well. I use an iPhone app called Sleep Cycle which analyzes my sleep patterns every night and makes neat graphs of them. Even the app began showing that my sleep patterns permanently changed from very irregular and shallow sleep to almost entirely deep sleep. Even after a short night’s sleep I felt rested and energetic. After the first week of FSF Challenge the weather did not favor running, so I can’t tell for certain if there has been any improvement in that.
Even though my diet is otherwise very healthy, I still have a terrible craving for anything and everything sweet. I had hoped that Instant Reishi would help me get rid of my bad habit of regularly eating something sweet. Unfortunately that did not happen, but I will continue the fight! I did not notice being less stressed during the trial period, but maybe I reacted less to the stress and was able to keep a positive mood even during the most hectic days.
Cons of Instant Reishi
There were not many cons about Instant Reishi. The worst thing about Instant Reishi I can come up with was the centered tear line, which made opening the sachet a bit of a pain in the butt. Apparently some changes are going to be made with the tear line in the next batch, which is a good improvement. Other than that I have not much negative to say about Instant Reishi. It still isn’t a cure-all remedy though. I got a flu during my FSF Challenge period, but felt I got better faster than normally. During the flu I took 4-5 sachets of Instant Reishi a day, but maybe I could have taken even more.
Conclusions and Future Testing
Instant Reishi is a good and easy to use product and I am very happy I could take part in Four Sigma Foods Challenge. I would recommend it especially to everyone having trouble sleeping or with high stress levels. I will continue using Instant Reishi, and probably will add Spark to my daily regimen. It will be interesting to see how Instant Reishi will work with Spark and if they together will improve my running and most of all my immune system.