My Healthy Valentine: Gift & Date Ideas (That Won’t Break the Bank)

Your team at LIFEAID Beverage Co. has put together a list of their absolute favorite gift and date ideas to help you make this your healthiest and happiest Valentine’s Day yet!

Most of them cost little to nothing, but their worth is priceless. Here are some suggestions for making this Valentine’s Day an unforgettable one:

1. Get outdoors.

Whether you end up strolling along the beach or going on a day hike to a favorite spot, taking an adventure with someone you love is sure to spark joy. It’s romantic and (bonus!) it’s free. Go soak up some fresh air and work up an appetite, while basking in the bliss of endorphins as a result of spending time in nature with the company of your partner, family or friends.

2. Throw down.

You may not consider yourself the “artsy” type, but we guarantee your loved one will treasure anything you make (whether it’s hand-thrown or glazed pottery, a necklace, etc.). Why not surprise them by taking a local class at a nearby pottery/bead studio? The staff will help you, so — regardless of your skill level — the end result is sure to be both unique and special.

3. Hang with friends.

Who says Valentine’s Day is just for lovers? We think it’s the perfect excuse for dinner with friends, an afternoon spent downtown, or building a pillow fort and enjoying game night or a good movie at home with the gang. Whatever the activity, being with the ones you love is all that matters — enjoy their company & do something fun with your favorite humans.

4. Build-your-own bouquet.

This year, skip the store-bought (often over-priced) bouquets. Instead, visit a local farmer’s market or flower shop and pick out your own arrangement of just a few fresh flowers specifically for him or her. It’ll feel way more personal (plus, you’ll probably save yourself some serious cash, too) Bonus: Add a thoughtful handwritten note and you’ll have them swooning in no time!

5. Get physical.

Hugging for 20 seconds is known to increase levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin (nature’s anti-depressant) in the body! Physical touch (including holding hands) also helps you stay healthy by reducing cortisol levels, lowering blood pressure & heart rate, and reducing stress. Plus, it’s just a great way to stay warm on these cold winter days.

6. Be crafty.

Glue sticks and crayons are not reserved solely for school children. A little bit of time and a few simple craft supplies can go a long way when it comes to showing a loved one you care. We’re a fan of making our own valentine cards. Handwritten notes are priceless, and all you need is some colorful craft paper and pens.

Your loved one(s) will  treasure the time you spent making something just for them.

7. Heat things up.

women's white sleeveless dress

Before your mind wanders to the bedroom … Consider heating things up in the kitchen by cooking a meal together. Fact: Daily life is hectic. Slow down, put on your favorite record, pour some wine (or your drink of choice), and take your time really enjoying the process of cooking a meal together from scratch. Note: We know this may require some helping hands if you have little ones.

So plan ahead and get a babysitter, or — if they’re old enough — let the kids join in the fun, and make an evening of it for the whole family!

8. Buy flours (instead of flowers).

If your loved one has a sweet tooth, head to the kitchen and bake them their favorite treat or try a new recipe. Tip: Use valentine-themed cookie cutters, pink & red frosting or a ribbon to sweetly finish it off. Adding a special note will, of course, be the “icing on the cake.”

9. Pick up the phone.

Many of us may not be able to be with loved ones this Valentine’s Day, so set aside some time to pick up the phone or send a special note to someone you love. Don’t forget about the relatives in your life who may be feeling especially lonely — simply hearing from you would be the best gift of all.

10. Share the LIFEAID love.

(You knew it was coming!) At LIFEAID, we truly are passionate about helping others live their best, healthiest life. What better way to show someone you care about their health than with a case of LIFEAID Daily Blend, great for helping to reduce inflammation from everyday stress and thrive in life.

O U R  S P E C I A L  G I F T  J U S T  F O R  Y O U :

This Valentine’s Day, enjoy 20% OFF all cases of LIFEAID Daily Blend! Offer valid for 24 hours only — shop this Thursday (Feb. 14) to save some dough for your valentine! (Discount taken at checkout.)

two persons forming love fingers

Whatever you do, we want to wish you & your loved ones a happy and healthy Valentine’s Day — you are loved.

—From your team at LIFEAID Beverage Co.


> > > Live well.

The 25 Best Inflammation-Fighting Foods (And How to Use Them Daily)

According to a recent article on written by food director Liz Moody …

The impact of food on inflammation is clear—but actually incorporating those foods into your daily life can be easier said than done. Here are 25 foods that are scientifically proven to help fight inflammation, and how I use them in my daily life:

1. Blueberries

I choose wild blueberries whenever possible, which have higher levels of antioxidants and are thus more potent inflammation fighters. I keep a stockpile of frozen ones on hand and use them to make blueberry pancakes (my favorite easy recipe is here) and to use in smoothies (they play especially well with almond butter and cacao).

2. Bone broth

Continually cited by doctors as a top-inflammation fighter, bone broth has become a staple in my cooking. I either make a batch or keep some frozen Bonafide Provisions stocked. I’ll keep some in larger containers to use as a soup base or to make grains taste umami-rich and delicious (you can use it wherever a recipe calls for stock), but I’ll also freeze some in an ice cube tray, then pop the frozen cubes out and store ’em in the freezer in a large zip-top bag. These smaller servings can be used to deglaze vegetables or to add a quick hit of gut-healing flavor to dishes.

3. Apples

New favorite dessert alert: When you’re craving something sweet post-dinner, cut an apple into cubes and saute it a skillet with some ghee, cardamom, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and a dash of vanilla extract until the apples soften and begin to brown. It’s like apple pie filling, but it’s ready in seconds and is packed with inflammation-fighting ingredients.

4. Raspberries

I love using raspberries in smoothies (you can find one of my go-to recipes here), but honestly, the sweet-tart fruits are one of my favorite stand-alone snacks. I like to stuff chocolate chips (I use Santa Barbara Chocolate Company’s coconut sugar ones) in their cavity and treat it like a decadent truffle.

5. Arugula

Arugula is one of my favorite types of greens. It has a peppery, bold flavor and is widely available. I love it in salads, but I find that, because of its bite, you want to make sure that salad has really strong flavor and textural elements. The perfect way to eat arugula, in my opinion, is in a healthier grilled cheese, with sourdough bread (better for your gut!), pastured cheese, some type of sweet jam or jelly (raspberry chia jam works great), a generous layer of arugula, and a crack of fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. I heat it all up in ghee until it’s crispy on the outside and the cheese is perfectly melted and then eat the best damn weeknight dinner around.

6. Pistachios

I’m not one to play favorites, but let’s face it, pistachios are the best nut. With a vibrant green color and a meaty, hearty texture, they add oomph to salads, make a delectably decadent nut milk, and make the best nut butter I’ve ever had. Just throw some shelled, raw pistachios in a food processor with cardamom, a bit of avocado oil, and some honey—I use the results on toast (ideally with some fresh crushed pistachios on top for crunch), thinned with a bit of water and drizzled on fruit for dessert, and in the world’s best PB&J (that’s pistachiobutter and jelly, and it’s far superior to its basic peanut butter counterpart).


7. Spinach

I don’t actually love using spinach in salads—it’s flat surfaces don’t give the body, fluff, and heft that’s ideal, and you end up with a clumpy, dressing-slicked pile at the bottom of the bowl. They are, however, the perfect greens for smoothies—you can add a ton without tasting it at all. So do it—add a ton! The main mistake I see people making with green smoothies is using a lackluster quantity of greens, so really heap ’em in there. Here’s an easy formula, plus my current favorite go-to to get you started.

8. Garlic

I have a recipe in my upcoming cookbook for what I consider the world’s most delicious two-minute salad, which eschews dressing for a mix of lemon juice and zest, garlic, and olive oil. Garlic has such a potent flavor and can be used to elevate everything from greens to stir-fries. The big change I make when cooking with it? Chop it when you first start cooking—like, before you do anything else—to let the healing properties activate (they need about 20 minutes). Then add it toward the end of whatever you’re making, giving enough time to mellow its bite but keep all of its therapeutic powers intact.

9. Turmeric

There are two ways to use turmeric: embracing its earthy, slightly bitter flavor, or hiding it. I do both: I’ll often wind down from the day with a turmeric latte or make a turmeric sauce to top vegetables and salads. I’ll also just sprinkle a bit into everything I eat, from smoothies to stir-fries. (Always remember to consume it with black pepper and fat for maximum bio-availability.)

LIFEAID Daily Blend also contains turmeric to help reduce inflammation from everyday stress. Simply crack open an ice-cold can to get your daily dose of turmeric!

10. Tomatoes

Lycopene, the anti-inflammatory compound in tomatoes, actually increases when the fruit is cooked, so, while I can often be found popping sun golds in the summer, I rely on canned tomato paste as my main form of the inflammation-fighting ingredient. The paste is inexpensive (usually around $2 a can) and adds mega-umami depth to any tomato-based dish. I mix it with dried spices and a bit of water to create a quick and easy pizza sauce, or mix it with bone broth as a perfect tomato sauce for pasta.

11. Cacao

Ah, cacao, how do I love thee. Cacao is what we wellness folk eat when we want to have our cake and literally eat it too. Simply chocolate in its purest form, it makes everything you use it in taste like dessert. I keep two kinds of cacao (usually from Navitas Organics, which I’ve found to taste the cleanest) on hand: Powdered, which I use in smoothies, brownies, and to add depth to tomato-based dishes (you just need a pinch!); and nibs, which are the perfect crunchy topping for desserts, a surprising salad mix-in, and the perfect sub for chocolate chips in any cookie dough dishes.

12. Brussels sprouts

The widespread availability of pre-shredded Brussels sprouts has, without exaggeration, changed my midweek life. Pan-fried with some avocado oil in a skillet until brown and crispy (which happens in minutes, because of the increased surface area), they can quickly turn into tacos, a stir-fry, a warm salad, or a delicious side. I flavor ’em with whatever spices I’m feeling that day: Herbes d’Provence if I’m feeling French, curry if I’m going for an Indian vibe, harissa if I want more of a North Africa feel.

13. Ginger

I love fresh ginger, although honestly, I’m often pretty lazy and will just settle for ground, which has a much less piquant, spicy flavor. I’ll use either in stir-fries or to make a soothing tea (a go-to if my stomach is at all upset).

14. Grass-fed meat

I have a seafood aversion, so I rely on grass-fed meat to get my proper omega balance. I always have ground beef (I get mine shipped frozen from Thrive Market or ButcherBox) ready to make tacos or Bolognese, although I always try to flip the ratio of veggies so they outnumber the animal protein (my Way More Veggies Bolognese was the runaway hit among recipe testers for my new cookbook).

15. Rooibos tea

Caffeine stokes my anxiety, so I rely on tea as a way to distract me from snacking throughout the day. Rooibos is my go-to—I sip it plain or with a bit of almond milk foamed in.

16. Olive oil

Contrary to popular belief in the wellness world, you can actually cook with high-quality olive oils, and they have some of the best anti-inflammatory properties of any cooking oils. It does have a less neutral flavor than avocado oil (another go-to), but I love using it as a base for salad dressing and to pan-fry eggs, a trick I learned in Spain that leads to some of the best scrambles around. It also captures and diffuses flavor—one of the reasons it’s so revered in Italian cooking, where they start many meals by warming aromatics in the oil—which I take advantage of by making a quick flavor-rich popcorn topper with garlic and whatever fresh herbs or dried spices I have around. I like Lucini and California Olive Ranch, both of which are widely available and reasonably priced.

17. Pastured eggs

Eggs are one of the healthiest foods around—if you choose pastured eggs from hens that have been eating bugs and grasses. Vital Farms makes some of the most widely available ones (the bright-orange yolks are glorious), and I’ll also pick some up at my local farmers market if I find myself there on Saturday morning. My go-to way to eat eggs is as a breakfast-for-dinner situation, which is the easiest, laziest way to get food on the table after a long day. I’ll do a quick soft scramble, top it with any leftover sauces I have in the fridge (pesto is my fave), and serve the whole thing on top of sourdough toast. Heaven.

18. Collagen

If you’re not on board the collagen train by now, you’re missing out. I mix Vital Proteins into my smoothies on most days, and my skin, hair, and nails have never looked better (my nails actually grow annoyingly fast now).

19. Dandelion

Warning: Dandelion is super bitter. I mitigate this by stir-frying it in some avocado oil or ghee with chili flakes and garlic (chopped at least 20 minutes ahead of time, per above!). The result is a savory, spicy, piquant side that’ll be your new addiction.

20. Rose water

I became addicted to rose water and orange blossom water when I was traveling in the Middle East and have since used them to upgrade much of my cooking, especially in the dessert realm. Available online, in the international section of grocery stores, and at many liquor shops, rose water serves as the perfect base for rose lattes, one of my favorite anti-anxiety drinks. I also love it splashed on a bowl of fresh berries with a bit of vanilla for the perfect feels-fancy-but-takes-seconds dessert.

21. Medicinal mushrooms

I don’t actually love the flavor or texture of traditional culinary mushrooms, but I’ve long wanted to take advantage of their myriad health benefits. When Four Sigmatic and Om came along with their medicinal mushroom blends, I gingerly dipped a toe in before diving into the deep end. I swear by Om’s immunity blend when I get sick (I just mix it into smoothies), and Four Sigmatic’s reishi hot chocolate is my go-to de-stressing drink.

22. Thyme

I’m obsessed with herbs—I use them not only in savory cooking but in smoothies (lemon zest and fresh thyme make an amazing smoothie, as do strawberry and basil) and crisps, with the herb acting the perfect counterpoint to the sweet fruit.

23. Chia seeds

Chia is one of the most used foods in my kitchen, due to its ability to act as a high-protein thickener in any number of recipes. I’ll use it to add bulk, protein, and healthy fat to smoothies, and, when I’m feeling a bit backed up, I’ll make chia pudding (right now, I’m all about that pumpkin pie flavor), which Terry Wahls, M.D., cites as one of her go-to constipation recipes.

24. Cauliflower

The new darling of the grain-free world, cauliflower has been turned into everything from dinner rolls to pizza crust, with varying degrees of success. My favorite is cauliflower rice, which I buy pre-made or quickly pulse in a food processor, and Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi, which lives up to its cult-favorite status with a delightfully chewy but fluffy texture. Mixed with some tomato paste and bone broth or a bit of canned pumpkin, pan-fried sage, and ghee, it’s a perfect 10-minute dinner.

25. Lemon

While I think starting every day with lemon water is slightly overrated (not to mention bad for tooth enamel!), lemon is a key ingredient for culinary and anti-inflammatory success. Often, when dishes feel like they’re missing a sparkle or pop, they’re missing acid, and lemon is one of my go-tos. I use it to finish soups, salad dressings, stir-fries, fruit crisps, and more.

Note: All original content and photography is the property of Liz Moody and LIFEAID Beverage Co. does not sponsor or endorse any specific products or sources referenced in Liz Moody’s article, nor is Liz Moody associated with LIFEAID its products. We just happen to love what she does, and are happy to share it with you here!

Source: Click here to read the original article on by Liz Moody.












Liz Moody is the food director at mindbodygreen. She’s contributed to Glamour, Women’s Health, Food & Wine, goop, and many other publications and is the woman behind the healthy food blog and Instagram account @lizmoody. She’s the author of two healthy cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships comes out in April 2019, and her Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best was released in April 2017. She’s a known green smoothie pusher and will rarely turn down a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie.

> > > Live well.


Self-Made Man: How to Take on Red Bull and Monster from Scratch – with Aaron Hinde

by Mike Dillard | Originally published Feb. 22, 2018

Today is a story about David vs Goliath…

But in our tale, David is a guy named Aaron Hinde, and a few years ago he decided to take on the Goliaths of the energy drink industry, Red Bull and Monster.

In 2009, Aaron and his business partner Orion hated the fact that they couldn’t find a healthy energy drink, so they decided to create their own.

Neither of them had been in the beverage industry before, and had no idea how to create one. They had almost no money, zero investors, and no distribution.

But that didn’t stop them.

A few Google searches and phone calls later, and they had their first can of LifeAid in their hands.

But creating the product was the easy part.

Getting it onto store shelves without a budget was the real challenge.

So they started thinking outside the box and skipped the grocery chains completely.

Instead, they went after one specific fitness niche and slowly but surely started to build a following…

Today, LifeAid will do over $30 million in net profits, and can be found on store shelves everywhere from Albertson’s to Whole Foods to GNC.

It is a truly inspiring story that contains an incredibly valuable marketing lesson for every startup…


Listen to the full podcast here:

Read the full podcast transcription below:

Mike Dillard:                      Hi, my name is Mike Dillard and this is Self Made Man, the podcast for those who want to leave their mark on the world and create a legacy of honor, integrity, and achievement in every aspect of your life. I’m glad you’re here and once again it is time to forge your destiny.

Mike Dillard:                      Today is a story about David versus Goliath, but in our tale David is a guy named Aaron Hinde and a few years ago he decided to take on the Goliaths of the energy drink industry, Red Bull and Monster. Back in 2009 Aaron and his business partner Orion hated the fact that they could not find a healthy energy drink, so they decided to create their own. Now neither of them had been in the beverage industry before. They had no idea how to create one. They had almost no money, zero investors, and no distribution. But hell, that did not stop them. A few phone calls and Google searches later they had their first can of LifeAid in their hands.

Mike Dillard:                      But creating the product was the easy part. Getting it onto store shelves without a budget was the real challenge. So they started thinking outside the box and they skipped the grocery chains completely. Instead, they went after one specific fitness niche and slowly but surely started to build a following. Today LIFEAID will do over $30 million in net profits, that’s got to be over 100 million in gross revenue, and it can be found in store shelves everywhere from Albertson’s to Whole Foods to GNC.

Mike Dillard:                      It is a truly inspiring story that contains an incredibly valuable marketing lesson for every single startup out there, and speaking of David versus Goliath, the new platform is now live. You guys have probably seen it already, and in many ways, we are pursuing the same strategy Aaron and Orion did to take on our much larger, more established competitors in the e-learning space, and that is by offering a superior quality product to a very specific group of people, namely you and the other amazing entrepreneurs out there who want to change the world.

Mike Dillard:                      If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, head to and checkout the insane amount of value you’ll get when you upgrade to a premium membership for just $19. For those of you who already have upgraded, thank you so much. You’re what makes this possible. With that being said, please help me welcome Aaron Hinde.

Mike Dillard:                      Well Aaron Hinde, welcome to Self Made Man. I’m looking forward to our discussion today based on what you guys have accomplished. It’s been absolutely amazing.

Aaron Hinde:                     Mike, thanks for having me on. Looking forward to it.

Mike Dillard:                      Absolutely brother. If those who are listening have been to at least a Whole Foods recently, and you’ve gone down the beverage aisle as I do almost on a daily basis looking for my caffeine fix, you’ve seen, you’ve probably seen a row of energy drinks, we’ll say functional beverages called LIFEAID. Aaron, you’re the founder of that company, and y’all just been growing like crazy, 50% a year for the last, gosh, seven or eight years now. You founded the company in 2011. That’s awesome man.

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, it’s been a great ride, great ride.

Mike Dillard:                      Absolutely. I’ve always had an interest in the functional beverage entity/energy market because I am always looking for a product that was really the same reasons you guys created LIFEAID, meaning I’m looking for my caffeine fix in the healthiest way possible, as little sugar possible that tastes good, that’s not going to mess me up health wise, but that will provide me with an alternative to coffee because I’ve never been a really big coffee fan.

Mike Dillard:                      I know that’s part of some of the inspiration why y’all started the beverage. But take everybody back to 2011 and dive into your story and the story of LIFEAID and why you started the company.

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, sure. I think Mark Twain’s quote sums it up quite well, that all you need in life is ignorance and confidence and success was sure, and that’s what we were full of back in 2011, a lot of ignorance and a lot of confidence, thinking that two young entrepreneurs with zero beverage experience could kind of take on the big boys and actually make a difference. If we knew what we knew now, it may be a different scenario back then, but I was a sports chiropractor here in Santa Cruz, California in this kind of the hippy capital of the world for those that aren’t familiar with it. We’ve got a lot of cool brands that have come out of here, a lot of functional brands, a lot of food and beverage brands like Odwalla, Santa Cruz Organics, so on and so forth.

Aaron Hinde:                     Really I think the inspiration was I was coming down the beverage aisle at a local grocery store, and my young son at the time, he was just a couple years old, reached into an open-air cooler and grabbed an energy drink. And here I’ve spent 10 years of my life trying to get athletes off the energy drinks, telling them, “Look, this stuff’s going to cause adrenal fatigue. It’s high sugar. It’s high caffeine. It’s not a good way to over stimulate your body.” And here my kid’s reaching for one, and I’m going, “Geez, why is my kid reaching for that when you’ve got kombucha here, we’ve got chia, we’ve got all these more healthful alternatives?” The bottom line is the energy drinks are cool. They’re cool, sexy, and hip. They appeal to the younger generation. The healthful drinks at the time were very hippie-dippie in nature. They weren’t cool at all.

Aaron Hinde:                     My business partner was a certified financial planner here in town. We had this grand idea of like, look, we want to create a clean, healthy beverage company that was cool, sexy, and hip like the energy drinks, but unlike the energy drinks, they were actually good for you so you could kind of give a wink-wink to the moms out there that, hey, your kid may be reaching for this, but it’s actually clean, it’s low sugar, it doesn’t have any of the artificial garbage, and we have some real good functional ingredients in there that can help aid with a particular vocation or lifestyle.

Mike Dillard:                      I love stories where an entrepreneur has an idea and a moment of inspiration for a product in a business that’s in an industry they have zero experience in. I relate to that because that’s what happened with me with EverGrow and my Hydroponic venture essentially to build that product. That’s where you were when it came to creating your own beverage line. What did you do to actually get the ball rolling? How does somebody go from an idea into actual execution of that?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I mean, I had a little bit of past experience in the CPG space. I had a …

Mike Dillard:                      Consumer product goods.

Aaron Hinde:                     Yes, exactly. I had a private label eye drop brand called Irie Eyes which I marketed to Stoners being here in Santa Cruz who were sold in like 2,000 head shops. So I had some experience there and had some lessons and kind of accurate thinking around that business. So when there was an opportunity to start this, it was literally on my business partner’s birthday. We sat down in front of the computer. We had this idea of LIFEAID and this vision of these very niche products. We sat at the computer and registered 80 domain names in one night. We got for $12. Heck, we even got for $12 if you believe it or not, that was still available.

Aaron Hinde:                     I mean we went through, registered all the domains, and then just started doing some research, how do you create a beverage company, and started thinking about formulations and found the Flavor House in Southern California and kind of the rest is history.

Mike Dillard:                      I’d love to go through that process in a little bit of detail. You pick up the phone. You call these companies. Is that what you would google is flavor house, or is there a different name for that?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I know, it was Flavor House. I mean, there’s a lot of different companies you have to kind of work with from can manufacturers, contract co-packers that actually do the filling, supplement manufacturers, so on and so forth. But for us kind of in the beginning is we took what we thought our formulations would be for these drinks down to a flavor house where they order very small quantities of the supplements and the preferred sweetener and then basically try to make it taste good.

Aaron Hinde:                     Interesting story right that first meeting at the Flavor House, we walk in, we’re working with a brilliant food scientist, PhD food scientist. She looks at my formulation and the first thing she says to us is like, “Look, guys this formula looks great, but there’s zero chance we’re going to be able to make something taste good with this level of supplements in a can and keeping your sugar low and without using any artificial sweeteners.” I remember we looked at her and said, “Well, we appreciate it, but I guess we’re not at the right place,” and we started to walk out the door. She says, “Whoa, whoa, let’s give it a shot,” and we kept working at it and working at it and I’m happy to say that the products have turned out really well.

Mike Dillard:                      How many iterations did you have to go through to get it to that perfect balance between taste and ingredient?

Aaron Hinde:                     I’d say now we can nail it in two or three, but at the very beginning even our first production run of our number one selling skew which is FitAid, a big recovery drink, I was embarrassed to even sample it to people, it tasted so fat. So I’m glad to say we’ve gotten a lot better at that process.

Mike Dillard:                      What next? You found your formulation company. Is it just a matter of okay this tastes good, let’s order a batch? What does that process look like?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, so next we have to find a can manufacturer. My business partner and I started this company with $30,000 each. When we started calling the big boy can manufacturers, the minimum on there is like 200,000 cans just to get cans printed on. What we heard there was something called silver bullets, which are these blank cans, which really, they don’t have many up because these cans are made to order, so they produce the can and print them all as part of one run, but for some reason somebody might have some overage they didn’t print on and you can actually occasionally find blank cans.

Aaron Hinde:                     So we call the West Coast rap for Wrexham, which is one of the big can manufacturers, and we actually get them on the phone. Just to give a little bit of background. The beverage industry has a 99% failure rate, so most of the people coming into this have hoop dreams or they’re complete broke dicks, it’s a one and done business at best, so that’s probably his perspective as we’re talking to him about this grandiose plan that we have. We ask them, it’s like, “Hey, we can’t afford the 200,000 cans, but do you have a pallet of these silver bullets lying around?” He’s, “Look, look guys, no, I don’t have any of those lying around, and it’s not common that there’s any overages, and when you’re ready to actually step up and do a real run, let us know.”

Mike Dillard:                      And the minimum was what? 200,000?

Aaron Hinde:                     200,000. Yeah.

Mike Dillard:                      What’s the approximate price on that?

Aaron Hinde:                     It would have pretty much cleaned out our bank account at the time. That’s when you add in the flavor house, and that’s not even buying any of the ingredients that actually go in there or paying the co-packing fees.

Aaron Hinde:                     We’re literally sitting there, we had this, all this excitement of the domain names registered, the flavor house picked out, and then we’re like, “Oh crap, we’re done. We can’t afford the 200,000 cans.” And I say, “You know what? Let’s send,” his name was Mike as well, “Let’s send Mike a nice thank-you card,” and in it we put $100 Ruth’s Chris gift certificate. So, Mike, thanks for talking to us. Let us know if any silver bullets come up. Ruth’s Chris.

Aaron Hinde:                     Well, guess what shows up a week later? We get an email. “Hey guys, I found a pallet of silver bullets.” So we bought that one pallet of blank cans. We had them shrink sleeved, which is extremely expensive, cost about 30 cents a can just put a shrink sleeve. So instead of printing them on it, you put a plastic sheet basically with your label over the top. Then we talked to a co-packer, ended up doing a very short run for us. Our first run of product which was a GolferAid of all things cost us $3 a can, our cost, costing goods, and we went out and started selling golf courses product for $2 a can. But we knew the economics would work if we could get to some scale. We were just trying to get some proof of concept.

Mike Dillard:                      Wow. That really is at least it’s my assumption that the trick to entering that 1% of successful beverage companies is distribution, right? Like anybody can come formulate a can and create a brand, but how do you get these products out there into the marketplace, especially because you’re going up against some massive, massive really well-established companies who are in this same niche?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I mean most people when they in the beverage space or even in any really food product, the big goal is, okay, we want to get into Whole Foods, we want to get into 7-Eleven, and they’re out pursuing those type of companies. What they don’t realize is when someone goes into a convenience store, most people are in a convenience store for like 90 seconds, they know exactly what type of drink they’re going for. It’s not a place for trial.

Aaron Hinde:                     We started trying to get some grocery traction and failed miserably. We were running out of money very quickly and we looked at this and go, we can’t compete against the big boys on their turf. There’s no way. We don’t have the marketing dollars. We don’t have the brand recognition.

Aaron Hinde:                     So what we did is at the time we actually had three SKUs out, GolferAid, FitAid, and PartyAid, and it was almost like three different companies because we had three different websites, different social accounts, they’re definitely different communities, different formulations, et cetera. We kind of looked at the business and said, “Okay, which one of these is kind of has the most potential,” and we started selling direct to golf courses where we were getting some traction. We actually did about a half million bucks in our first year just selling to golf courses.

Aaron Hinde:                     But if we looked at FitAid, and FitAid specifically as a recovery drink in the CrossFit channel which is where we grew up in, my business partner and I met in a CrossFit a gym, and we saw the trajectory. The sell-in was easier. The sell-through was better. Our volume numbers were better. So we decided to put our chips all in to making FitAid a success, specifically in the CrossFit channel. Seven years ago if you went into a CrossFit gym, they didn’t have any drinks. All they had was maybe a fridge with some waters they bought from Costco on the honor system people put $1 and then took a water.

Aaron Hinde:                     We started developing direct response marketing campaigns taking basically what all the info marketers were doing and applying it to beverages and selling online. I mean, for the first five years we didn’t have one sales rep. We were doing $13 million with zero sales reps.

Mike Dillard:                      Wow. So were you all buying those little fridges and like setting them to CrossFit gyms with your beverages, or what did that look like?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah exactly. Our initial offer which is a lot sweeter now because we can afford to be sweeter knowing life-time value, but was basically purchase 10 cases of product, we’re going to give you this free $400 fridge and we’re going to give you a banner and POS and all that kind of stuff. And from HQ we just started sending those offers out. We’d send them out a snail mail four pack of samples, a nice written sales letter, some testimonials and a time-sensitive call to action, super old-school, and we started converting. I’ll never forget that first month it’s like, “Holy shit, we just got new 30 gyms this month.” We used to ring the bell in the office every time a new account came on. Then the next month we got like 60. Then the month after 100. For a while we were churning like 250 new gyms a month. It was awesome.

Mike Dillard:                      How were you getting ahold of the contact information for all of these gyms?

Aaron Hinde:                     One at a time.

Mike Dillard:                      Oh really? Wow.

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, you had to basically go online. We paid somebody in Bangladesh to basically list build for us and go scour the internet and find out where the gyms were and what the mailing address was and who the contact was one at a time because it’s a licensing model. It’s not like we sold CrossFit HQ and therefore we’re in all the gyms. We literally have gotten into 5,000 CrossFit gyms selling them one at a time.

Mike Dillard:                      Wow. So you guys definitely just kind of guerrilla marketed this thing and bootstrapped it. You started building up some momentum. Was there a moment in your business’ development that really allowed you to start going vertical from a growth perspective and allow you to get into places like Whole Foods?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I mean, it all came to instead of pushing our way into accounts, we started getting pulled. The nice thing about CrossFit specifically is it’s really affected all of fitness. If you’re going to like the new Gold’s Gyms, they have what’s called Gold’s fit which is basically CrossFit without the barbells. Look at the success of Orangetheory. We started getting pulled into other gym chains. I know you’ve had Bedros on the show, Fit Body Boot Camp. We started getting pulled into all these different gym chains. So the FitAid line specifically started becoming like the go to recovery drink and functional fitness that led to a partnership with Spartan Race.

Aaron Hinde:                     We started handing out ice-cold cans right when people needed it most, right when they finished a grueling Spartan Race. Well, the buyers at all these major retailers happened to be running Spartan races, or happened to be training at a CrossFit a gym or a Gold’s Gym and seeing our product and then calling us, saying, “Hey, we really want to get this in,” and we would just say, “Look, we don’t have the marketing budget for slotting fees and all of this.” “No,” like, “that’s okay. We’re going to bring you in. We know you’re a small company.” Then we would just prove ourselves out on a usually a very regional level, which led to global authorizations.

Aaron Hinde:                     A great example is Whole Foods where the buyer at the time in the Rocky Mountain region was kind of Utah, Colorado was an avid crossfitter. We were sold at his gym. He brought us in one day before the window closed on new products. We got this call from a Whole Foods buyer and we got him out everything they needed in one day. They put us in the sets. We sold like gangbusters. He got promoted to corporate, brought us in into a global rollout and that relationship has been great, which led to us closing Sprouts nationwide and Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and so on and so forth.

Mike Dillard:                      Awesome. You guys are growing like crazy. You’ve got some huge competitors out there, Monster, Red Bull, et cetera. How have they taken to your success?

Aaron Hinde:                     Well, early on we took a couple of bumps and bruises from the big boys. The first was with our GolferAid line. I had this great idea like, “Hey, we’re in the Monterey Bay. We’re real close to Monterey and Carmel,” which Pebble Beach is at. We went down to Pebble Beach and got a P.O. box. In Pebble Beach they have their own post office, and we started doing all of our GolferAid mailings out of there, and so we put Pebble Beach on the can.

Aaron Hinde:                     Our first cease and desist we got from Pebble Beach Corporation saying, “Hey, you can’t use Pebble Beach on the can,” which we had already printed these couple of hundred thousand cans, so that was always a challenge. Then shortly after that we get a cease and desist from Pepsi saying one of our lines that we hadn’t even come out with yet but we had approval from the trademark office which was [GamerAid 00:19:08] which was they said was too close to Gatorade and therefore put a cease and desist on that.

Aaron Hinde:                     It’s always a little scary as a young bootstrapping company to get official letters from some of these big players.

Mike Dillard:                      Did you guys say, “Oh, okay, it’s not worth the fight,” because to me that’s like so unrelated, it’s not even funny. It’s two completely different industries.

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, and the trademark office sided with us. They gave us the trademark. We called our attorneys, they’re like, “Yeah, we can win this, but it’s going to cost you 200,000.”

Mike Dillard:                      Oh, I see.

Aaron Hinde:                     But when you have 20,000 in the bank account that’s just not a reality.

Mike Dillard:                      Got it. That makes sense. Yeah, interesting. The legal process is not necessarily about who’s right. It’s who can afford to go through it and finish it, which is interesting. Have you guys ever raised around?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah. Last year we raised around from a private equity group KarpRiley in the East Coast. They’re just great partners, very entrepreneur friendly, long timelines. They’ve got a lot of experience in restaurants and other consumer package goods. They’ve got a great reputation in beverage, so we couldn’t be happier with that partnership. That’s allowed us the capital to really scale into some of these bigger accounts like Kroger and Safeway.

Mike Dillard:                      I was going to ask you what the use of funds would be for you guys if you’re seeming to do it quite well on your own, if there’s a particular area you wanted to deploy it in?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I mean it’s mainly been for human capital. We went last year we brought on like 35 new team members, quite a few on the sales side of things. Once you do, it takes … it does take feet on the street to have the meetings and land some of these bigger corporate accounts. We did a great job from headquarter managing the online business, direct to consumer, and direct to gym business, direct to golf course business. But as we got into the bigger retailers, those relationships needed to be managed. We needed to make sure …

Aaron Hinde:                     There’s so many things that can go wrong on retail from dented cans are the kiss of death. You could have a couple dented cans sitting on the shelf and affect your volume because nobody’s going to buy a dented can. So you literally have to have feet on the street going into the accounts, developing relationships with the store managers, managing promotional calendars, making sure there’s no dented cans, setting up displays, point-of-sale, all kinds of stuff. We’ve really, that private equity round has allowed us to beef up that sale side of the business and really start to scale.

Mike Dillard:                      Awesome. What’s your personal goal for the company in the next 5 to 10 years? Are you looking at being acquired at some point? Is that your goal? Or are you just, “Man, I’m having a blast, I’m going to do this as long as I can”? What are you thinking?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I mean we’re having a good time. We’ve got a great team assembled. We all really enjoy working together. One of our core kind of tenets is work hard, play hard, and we definitely practice that on a daily basis.

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I mean there’s people out there that have definitely knocked on the door and looked at us as an acquisition target. But let’s face it, a lot of the big boys when they buy you, they kind of bastardize the band and strip down the efficacy. That’s not what we’re all about. We want to change consumers expectations and hold the big boys accountable for what they’re putting out, because I’ve got two kids. Let’s face it. They’ve gotten a free pass in my opinion from way too for poisoning our kids with sugar water and garbage ingredients. I’d prefer to keep it tight, keep it lean, continue to run a profitable company, and who knows, maybe we’ll IPO down the road.

Mike Dillard:                      Can you talk about some of the common ingredients found in those mainstream brands that are particularly harmful, and why people should not be consuming that?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, I mean well the most obvious is sugar. I mean, sugar’s been demonized quite a bit rightfully so today. It’s not that sugar or carbohydrates are evil in and of themselves, but the excess that they’re consumed, especially in this country, is totally out of control, it’s causing chronic inflammation with people, diabetes, and a lot of other chronic diseases as a result of the inflammation.

Aaron Hinde:                     Next I’d look at jacking your body up on too much caffeine. I do enjoy coffee and I’m not anti caffeine, but it’s crazy. I see some people are drinking four, five, six cups a day or drinking … young kids drinking three energy drinks a day, and it’s like, “Wow, that’s a lot of artificial stimulus just to get your body going in the morning.”

Aaron Hinde:                     Then the artificial sweeteners I think have been rightly demonized as well. So you got less people using sucralose and aspartame, and looking for more cleaner, functional beverages that don’t have the sugar or the artificials in them.

Mike Dillard:                      Yeah, I mean you just look at the sugar-free versions of that, where people are like, “Oh, there’s no sugar, I’m good,” but man, the ingredients in those things are just horrific if you do your research on them.

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah, especially the dyes too. Look at them. I mean, start doing research on all the different dyes, the blues and the reds. I mean, that stuff is toxic. I’m all about eating clean it is one area that I do not skimp on, grass-fed organic. It’s like food is the primary drug we give our bodies on a daily basis, and we’ve got to really pay attention to what we’re putting into our body because it has a direct reflect in how we perform, whether we’re an athlete or you are an entrepreneur, it’s we’re always in performance mode. If you’re having performance issues or midday fatigue, you got to look at your diet and go, “Okay, what’s going on here with my body?”

Mike Dillard:                      We’ve got obviously a huge audience of entrepreneurs who are listening to this right now. What’s your biggest piece of advice or lessons learned over the last seven years as you’ve gone from nothing to 30 million I think what a net this year?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah.

Mike Dillard:                      Which is just massive. What are those key moments and obstacles that you’ve overcome that have allowed you to do that successfully?

Aaron Hinde:                     There’s been so many. I mean, I mentioned accurate thinking earlier, but I see a lot of entrepreneurs, especially with physical goods that they’re just not thinking accurately about either the timing or the ingredients and the makeup or the market or the marketing, not putting enough attention into that. But I think my biggest lesson over the last seven years, I like to go back to a quote from Henry Ford, he says, “If everyone is moving forward together, success will take care of itself.” What that means to me is it’s an alignment issue. If you want to scale a business, you have to have alignment.

Aaron Hinde:                     Like me and my business partner have to be perfectly aligned most of the time, and that took some time. It’s almost like a marriage. It took some time to get that alignment and to kind of divvy up who’s in charge of what aspects of the business, having our team completely aligned on what is our goal.

Aaron Hinde:                     We want to be the next billion dollar beverage brand. We’ve said that since day one, probably way too early we started saying that. So how do we get there? We get there by executing on a weekly basis. I think you’ve had Vern Harnish on this show. We utilized a lot of those Rockefeller habits and gamifying quarterly goals to make sure we’re getting our team and each department in complete alignment on what we need to accomplish in this three-month window in order to hit our annual goal, in order to become that next billion-dollar brand.

Mike Dillard:                      Can you give us an example on how you gamify your goals?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah. We have one kind of down week at the beginning of each quarter. It’s not really a down week, but it’s an opportunity to reflect on the previous quarter, see what we’ve accomplished as far as our objectives and key results, our OKRs which some of our KPIs are tied in.

Aaron Hinde:                     Each individual at this company every quarter has two or three or four objectives that they are going to accomplish personally that contributes to their team’s quarterly goal, and then they have one or two personal goals. Because we know that life is life. There’s no work life and personal life. It’s all life. If you’re having a fight with your wife at home, it affects work. If work’s burning you out, it affects home. We want to make sure everyone’s moving together in unison and that everything’s really balanced out, so we’re looking at a few work OKRs and a couple personal. Those tie into the department, so what the department needs to achieve as an aggregate.

Aaron Hinde:                     Then what we do is we create a forward-looking vision statement, so at the beginning of our team meeting, which is every Tuesday, someone in the team reads the forward-looking vision statement as if we’ve already accomplished everything that each department has laid out for that quarter, okay. Then once we achieve at the end of the quarter and then every department head chimes in every week, we’re at 15% completion, we’re at 30% completion, and we always give a hard time to those that are lagging a little bit and obviously praise those that are ahead of the game, and if we hit 80% achievement or better at the end of the quarter, we do something really fun for the entire team. Like we rented out the Chardonnay sailboat out of Santa Cruz and we had a big booze cruise out on the bay, or we’ll do something that’s an activity, get everyone out of the office that’s really fun.

Aaron Hinde:                     Additionally, each individual at this company is bonused at the end of the year a percentage of their salary based on the completion rate of their individual quarters. We add up the four quarter completion rates and that ties into their bonus. They’re very personally incentivized from a financial perspective and then we’re incentivized in an aggregate sense by some type of a reward at the end of the quarter.

Mike Dillard:                      You mentioned Vern. I was going to ask you, is there a particular person or group that you guys have learned from and pursued when it comes to acquiring your business education? Because there’s two different primary skill sets in building a business. They’re selling your product and your service, and there’s actually building a company. They’re very different skill sets. Have you pursued an education on the business side of things from a specific person or group?

Aaron Hinde:                     Yeah. When we were really struggling and we’re running out of money, one of my mentors who was actually my mentor when I was a chiropractor who’s a brilliant marketer Ben Altadonna, he reached out to me and he said, “Hey, I’m a member of this marketing group. There’s a lot of smart people in there. I think you’d get a ton of value. It’s not cheap. It’s 25 grand. I know you don’t have the money. I’ll loan you the money. Don’t worry about it. Pay me back when you can.” I’m thinking, “Ben’s successful. He’s somebody that I look to. He’s never led me astray.” I said, “Okay.”

Aaron Hinde:                     He’d loan me the money. I showed up at Genius Network, and just started chatting with everybody and absorbing everything that I possibly could from how to run business to scaling to business and marketing and everything. I started to get a lot of clarity and then I just started diving in the books. I’m going through like a book a week for years just absorbing, absorbing, absorbing content, and then trying to implement as much as possible.

Aaron Hinde:                     So a lot of it was trial and error, a lot of it was having really great mentors, and then just the free information that’s available, and what are you going to spend five bucks, 10 bucks, 20 bucks on a book, free podcasts. I mean, it’s all out there. I think now what I really try to do is manage my information so I don’t get total information overload on, okay, what am I trying to achieve this quarter and what information resources are really going to help me get from point A to B.

Mike Dillard:                      Yeah, absolutely. When it comes to hiring, is that something you guys have just pursued on your own and do internally? Do you use a recruiting firm? How do you all go about that?

Aaron Hinde:                     The nice thing is we understood from a very early stage that the value of our business is in our list. So we’ve been list building aggressively. On our email lists we have over 200,000 people now. At social media we’re at like 450,000, [inaudible 00:31:31] with our FitAid Instagram being our biggest at I think 182, something like that. When we have positions available, we send an email blast out to our list, we do a post on social media. I remember for one sales position we posted, we got a thousand applicants.

Aaron Hinde:                     So what we do is we run everybody through [Top Grader 00:31:50]. If you haven’t heard of Top Grader, you should check it out. It’s a great resource to get rid of the deadbeats and help you kind of screen through who the créme are, and from there we will identify say our top 10 candidates and do 10 phone interviews and then bring five people in for in-person interviews. Usually all five of those people are extremely qualified for what we’re looking for from a skills’ perspective, and from there we’re really just looking at the right cultural fit.

Mike Dillard:                      Very cool, very cool. Yeah, and this has been such a cool story. I really love it when you get to start with an entrepreneur at the very beginning, and like I mentioned earlier, especially when you start at a brand new industry that’s new to you, because it’s one thing if you’re just following your natural evolution, but for you guys to jump into such a competitive high startup cost industry and make it work has just been great. I think the key to your success is the fact that you pursued a really, really, really specific customer niche, specifically CrossFit, golfers-

Aaron Hinde:                     100%.

Mike Dillard:                      But that’s it. Yeah, I think folks are like, “I just need to make a great quality product with a really cool logo and put it on the shelf and that’s it,” they’re going to fail, right?

Aaron Hinde:                     A lot of people talk about going deep in a niche. I would say the one caveat to that is you have to be part of that niche as well. The reason we were successful in CrossFit is because we CrossFit ourselves. So when we’re going to the shows, there’s a certain look that a crossfitter has, there’s a certain dress that a crossfitter has. We’re successful with PartyAid at Burning Man it’s because I’m a burner, my business partner is a DJ. When you’re looking at a niche, don’t just go, “Oh, that’s an underserved niche. I’m going to go for it.” Make sure you’re immersing yourself in that niche, become part of that community because the authenticity shines through in the products as well.

Mike Dillard:                      Yeah, it’s not going to work well if you’re selling this beverage and you’re 50 pounds overweight, right?

Aaron Hinde:                     Exactly, exactly.

Mike Dillard:                      Yeah, without a doubt, agreed. Well, Aaron this has been awesome brother. Any final words of wisdom or resources that you guys have found recently that have just kind of changed the game for you?

Aaron Hinde:                     From a resource perspective we use a lot of different resources, a lot of reporting. Slack has just been a great tool just for internal communication and to get all the back-and-forth with email out of the way. So if you’re not using Slack, it’s free to a certain point, check that out.

Aaron Hinde:                     There’s a company here in Santa Cruz if you want to get real sophisticated on your reporting and looking at all types of different metrics called Looker. It’s been an incredible resource for giving me my daily dashboards, at looking at every aspect that I want to monitor that I’m in charge of the business and looking at how variables are affecting sales and conversions and leads and so forth. So Looker’s been a great resource.

Aaron Hinde:                     Then I would just say from a very human perspective, I look at why have we been successful in our space, why are we getting traction. Our products are great. We’re from those communities, but really when it comes down to it with all the technology that’s available and everything, this is still a relationship game. And business is all about relationships. So treat people well, treat people how you would want to be treated. As someone told me, “The people that you meet on the way up are the same people you meet on the way down,” so you never know who you’re talking to. Just approach life as such and treat people well and I think that good karma always comes back around.

Mike Dillard:                      Yeah, agreed, agreed, agreed. Well, Aaron, thank you so much. This has been just a fantastic story and a lot of valuable lessons learned in there for entrepreneurs who are just getting started. Where can folks go to buy some LIFEAID?

Aaron Hinde:                     Well, they could always check out our website, lifeaidbevco A-I-D, or check us out at your local retailer. I mean we’re in all the Whole Foods, all the Sprouts, HAB, down in your neck of the woods in Texas, multiple Safeway divisions, Kroger divisions, Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, so on and so forth. So check us out if you’re looking for a clean, healthy alternative.

Mike Dillard:                      Awesome. Aaron, thank you so much. Guys, gals, thanks for listening as always and we’ll see you next week. Take care.

You can follow Aaron Hinde on Instagram: @AaronHinde

> > > Live well.

Distribution Roundup: LIFEAID Goes Chainwide in Walmart


Reporting a 169 percent increase in sales for 2018, LIFEAID Beverage Company announced last week it is aiming to triple its retail presence to at least 18,000 doors this year, including Walmart, Whole Foods, Kroger, and Sprouts stores.

The announcement comes as the company prepares to expand chainwide at Walmart with its FitAid, FocusAid, and ImmunityAid SKUs, as the retailer looks to grow its functional beverage set with national and regional brands.

LIFEAID VP of Sales Dan Leja told BevNET, “The company entered 429 stores Walmart last year and that the expansion marks a ten-fold increase.”

The company has also expanded in Kroger; according to Leja, LIFEAID has experienced a “natural evolution” with the retailer, having first entered with a 40-store test in the Texas market in 2016 and slowly expanded over the past two years. The latest expansion brings the brand’s presence to 15 Kroger divisions, which Leja said is about 1,500 doors.

LIFEAID has also reformulated its nootropic-based FocusAid line to double its caffeine content to 100 mg per can. Leja said the SKU is projected to grow more than 500 percent in 2019 and will make up 40 percent of the company’s total placement.

Leja said the company is also seeking to increase brand awareness by working with “micro influencers” who can appeal to the company’s niche target demographics. LIFEAID will seek to grow its FitAid line within yoga studios, while the company is recruiting musicians and DJs to promote its PartyAid line.

“We really want to piggyback off of what we’ve done with FitAid and building the name within the Crossfit and functional fitness space,” Leja said. “It’s not gimmicky or anything like that. We’re truly passionate about the offerings that we have and we want to portray that in a professional manner.”

On the West Coast, LIFEAID is also building out its DSD network to service the convenience channel, working with distributors Hensley in Arizona, Golden Beverage in Utah, Bonanza in Nevada, and New Age in Colorado. The company is negotiating contracts currently to service the entirety of California and the Pacific Northwest.

“By building out this proof of concept we wanted a story we could take to distributors and not just sell them on hopes and dreams,” he said. “Most of our retail authorizations started in the west, so that’s why we’re building our DSD footprint there. We also have some high-level meetings coming up in the Northeast in the coming weeks to start carving out a DSD footprint there as well.”

Visit for more information about the brand, or to shop the entire lineup of their clean nutritional blends to fit your active lifestyle.

Source: on – Jan. 31, 2019 at 6:41 p.m.

LIFEAID Beverage Co. Anticipates Strong 2019 Sales and Distribution

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – LIFEAID Beverage Company, the range of function-driven and nutrition-focused products popular with performance-conscious consumers, achieved significant business and brand-building milestones in 2018. LIFEAID enters 2019 in an exceptional position to become a recognized leader in the functional beverage category, health and wellness supplements and the emerging category of nootropics.

Increased 2019 Distribution at Walmart

LIFEAID started selling in approximately 400 Walmart stores in 2018, merchandised next to enhanced water brands. This year, the number of Walmart stores carrying LIFEAID will increase ten-fold, with the LIFEAID SKUs FitAid, FocusAid and the recently launched ImmunityAid selling in the retailer’s newly-planned ‘functional beverage’ section. According to LIFEAID co-founder and CEO Orion Melehan, “Consumers are actively looking for functional benefits in whatever they drink, and this is an excellent opportunity for brands like LIFEAID to connect with more performance-driven consumers across the U.S.”

Strategic Innovation: ImmunityAid and FocusAid

The range of LIFEAID products always emphasizes innovation – through thoughtful ingredient selection and formulation. In October 2018, the brand introduced ImmunityAid, a health and wellness-focused product created to help combat the negative effects of flu season. Upon launch, ImmunityAid became an instant success, and in 2019 will enjoy increased availability in approximately 8,500 retailers nationwide.

FocusAid, the LIFEAID brand’s ‘brain food’ nootropic product, has become increasingly popular as an alternative to coffee and energy drinks, is a top-selling SKU for LIFEAID and is becoming one of the best-selling nootropic products at retail, with sales of FocusAid up 162 percent in 2018.

Overall Retail Growth

LIFEAID launched in 2011 solely on e-commerce and did not enter retail doors until 2015, making its 169 percent retail growth in 2018 even more impressive. By the end of last year, the LIFEAID brand was available in approximately 8,000 retail doors including Kroger, Whole Foods Market, HEB, CVS, Sprouts and GNC.

In 2019, the brand will triple its total retail doors to over 18,000.

At Kroger, availability of LIFEAID beverages will increase from three divisions of the grocery chain to 15 divisions. Sales of LIFEAID at Kroger affiliate Safeway increased 350 percent vs. a year ago. In premium grocery chain Whole Foods, LIFEAID is the number three best-selling natural “energy drink.” Per SPINS, LIFEAID sales growth is up 169 percent for the full 2018 year.

Direct Store Distribution (DSD) Network

As part of the brand’s multichannel sales model, the LIFEAID senior leadership team is concentrating on increasing the brand’s DSD network along the West Coast, in Utah and in Southern Nevada. “We expect to have our West Coast DSD network fully in place by the end of 2019,” states CEO Melehan, “and will replicate a similar DSD architecture across the country starting in 2020.”

LIFEAID co-founder and president Aaron Hinde adds, “Our 2019 success will be based on adding a strategic mix of retail partners that increase our availability in key markets and also help build the LIFEAID brand through forward-thinking retail programming. While we remain dedicated to the consumer convenience of e-commerce and enjoy an increasing D2C online business, grocery and convenience stores represent extraordinary growth opportunities. Our innovation pipeline is robust, and LIFEAID is meeting existing, and identifying new, consumer need-states that inform the creation of our functional line. We’re excited about this upcoming year and what it means for our brand and the category of functional beverage.”


With a focus on great-tasting, wellness-enhancing and solutions-driven supplements that can be enjoyed as a drink, LIFEAID Beverage Co. has become a leading brand among health- and performance-conscious consumers. LIFEAID offers a range of beverages that meet popular consumer need-states including: FitAid, FocusAid, LifeAid, GolferAid, PartyAid and the newly launched ImmunityAid. Since founding LIFEAID Beverage Co. in 2011, Orion Melehan and Aaron Hinde have built the brand into a thriving consumer-focused business and wellness movement that is a standout on e-comm and social media, and one of the most dynamic brands at retail in the US and 20 other countries.

Visit for more information about the brand, or to shop the entire lineup of their clean nutritional blends to fit your active lifestyle.

Source: Press Release on – Jan. 25, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Top photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon

Twin Sisters Embody the American Dream — LIFEAID Spotlight on Margarita & Natalia Guzman



Twin sisters from Colombia share a glimpse into the struggle and perseverance which brought them to America, and the strength it took to help them build their lives as extreme fitness athletes and personal trainers.


Natalia & Margarita Guzman (best known on social media as @Las2winz) migrated to the United States from Tunja, Colombia in June of 2001. Living in fear, with the family receiving daily life threats, their parents made the decision to move away from Colombia in search of a safer life in the United states.

June 15, 2001, was the day the twin sisters’ lives would change forever.

Speaking zero English, the Guzmans left their families behind and their parents sold their business, basically restarting their lives from scratch. Everything their parents worked so hard for their entire lives was (poof!) gone.

To say they experienced culture shock in the United States would be a severe understatement. The Guzmans went from living in a 3-bedroom house to a 2-bedroom apartment. Their parents, Juan and Esperanza, went from owning their own business to working low-income jobs just to pay the bills. The hardest part of moving to the U.S. was the language barrier — not being able to understand or communicate with anyone.

“We were bullied a lot,” Margarita admits. “People made fun of how we spoke. There were not many friends.”

Growing up as non-English-speaking immigrant students proved very challenging and oftentimes lonely, as the girls struggled to make friends amidst such a thick language barrier. As middle schoolers, Natalia and Margarita were teased simply for the way they spoke, leading to many insecurities. They also endured the struggles of watching both of their parents work jobs they did not love — such as delivering bouncy houses to parties on the weekends, newspaper routes in the early mornings and cleaning offices late at night.

The pain of watching their parents fall from the position of business owners to working low-paying jobs proved both heartbreaking and motivating.

At the age of 15, both Natalia and Margarita started working, eventually working their way through college. Juggling full-time jobs and a full college course load was no easy task for either of them, but they managed to graduate from CSU-Long Beach in 2004, with Business degrees in Finance. Soon after graduating, they both began working out and ended up getting jobs as personal trainers at a bootcamp called OC|FIT.

“It was in that environment (at OC|FIT) that we found our passion and calling. We were meant to inspire, motivate and change people’s lives through fitness.”

For the next four years, the Guzman sisters went on to be trainers and manage one of OC|Fit’s five locations. This helped Natalia build up enough courage to open our own (sixth) location of OC|Fit on April 2, 2018. With the support of their clients, both of their savings and their parents’ life savings, the Guzman girls suddenly went from working for someone else to owning their own business in the United States of America.

“We can proudly say that we have achieved the American Dream. We started from nothing with nothing and built a successful gym that changes lives every single day,” says Margarita.

Their hard work, tenacity, discipline, motivation and drive to succeed propelled the Guzmans to become Latina women business owners.

As fitness enthusiasts, the twins have also completed extreme obstacle course races in Las Vegas, Dallas, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Oahu and Seattle.

“Every day we are living the American Dream, and we have our parents to thank for that. Everyone is given the ability to make their dreams a reality, it is up to each of us to get out there, work hard, and make it happen.”

Twin sisters Margarita & Natalia (@Las2winz) are not just living the American Dream,

their story is inspiring others to …

dream big!

To learn more about OC|Fit, visit or follow the Guzman sisters on Instagram: @las2winz

> > > Live well.

Top photo credit: Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG




“A Better Way to Think,” Ep. 1 — Your Favorite LIFEAID CST Bookworms Read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

With a customer satisfaction rating of 95%, the customer service team at LIFEAID Beverage Co. must be doing something right!

Every quarter, the team of nearly half a dozen customer service team members reads a book and discusses it together — sharing their insights, questions and takeaways. Topics range from motivation, customer service, team-building, humorous life lessons, positive habits and everything in between. Inevitably, the team walks away with a better understanding of how to be the best possible version of themselves — at work and in their personal life.

In this edition of A Better Way to Think, your LIFEAID customer service team bookworms Jade, Rose & Steven tackle The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Here’s what they had to say about the book and how it changed each of their lives …


Rose’s Takeaway: This chapter brings up how traditional literature regarding effectiveness is superficial, providing only quick fixes and social bandaids that mask chronic problems.

In order to achieve long-term success, you must put the work in and take no shortcuts along the way. 

Perceptions govern the way we see, and how we see governs how we behave. So we must change the lens through which we see the world before we can change the reality of what’s on the other side of the lens. 

HABIT 1:  Be Proactive 

Jade’s Takeaway: Proactivity” is defined by Covey as the following: “We have the initiative and responsibility to make things happen.” There are three “social maps” or theories of determination that are thought to influence or determine an individual’s life. These are Genetic Determinism (you are the way you are because of your genes and ancestry), Psychic Determinism (your childhood and upbringing laid out your personal tendencies and character structure), Environmental Determinism (factors in your environment and surroundings are responsible for your situation).

The philosopher and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl came to a realization amidst unbelievable horrors and tragedy, saying,

“Man has the freedom to choose, using self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will.” Between stimulus and response is the power to choose.

This means that the individual has the ability to choose how they respond to stimulus and circumstance. The ability to be “Response-able” to be proactive. Highly productive people recognize responsibility — their behavior is a product of their own conscience choices, based on values rather than a product of their circumstances.  “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” Proactive people focus on their “circle of influence,” the things that they can do something about. Reactive people focus on their “circle of concern” — focusing on the things that they have little to no control over. Gaining an awareness over the areas in which we can expand our energies is a step in becoming proactive.

“The commitments that we make to ourselves and others and our integrity to those commitments is the essence of our growth and the clearest manifestation of our proactivity”

Rose’s Takeaway: What matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life. It’s not the doing of others or even our own mistakes that hurt us, but how we react to them. The idea that the problem is out there, with others or circumstances, is the problem itself. Learn to view the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation. This section also touches on something I found powerful: “Love is a Verb.” Love is an action, the feeling follows.

HABIT 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Steven’s Takeaway: Beginning with the end in mind ensures you don’t violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important in life. You must start with a clear understanding of your destination and know where you are going so that you better understand where you are now and the steps need to get there. In addition, this concept is based around the principle that “all things are created twice.” The first creation is leadership, carefully thinking through business endeavors. The second creation is management, the organizing of all elements to meet the objective. Effectiveness does not depend solely on how much effort we expend, but on whether or not the effort is focused in the right areas. 

“Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.”

A Personal Mission Statement is the most effective way to begin with the end in mind. We must begin in the center of the circle of influence which is composed of our most basic paradigms. The center is sourced by security (sense of worth), guidance (source of direction), wisdom (perspective on life), and power (capacity to act). When these four things are harmonized they create a great force. An effective Organizational Mission Statement is one that reflects the shared vision and values of everyone within that organization, creating unity and tremendous commitment. 

HABIT 3: Put First Things First

Rose, Jade & Steven’s Takeaways: Habit 3 is the fulfillment of habits 1 and 2. Habit 1 says you are the creator, it empowers you to say that is an unhealthy program I’ve been given, an ineffective script that I can change. Habit 2 is the first mental creation, based on the ability to envision. Create with our minds what we cannot presently see with our eyes. Habit 3 is the physical creation, the natural emergence of habits 1 and 2. The Power of Independent Wealth: Manage from the left, lead with the right. Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what the first things are, management is the discipline to carry things out. Discipline is a function of independent will, it comes from within.

Time = Efficiency / People = Effectiveness

Delegation plays a big part in effective management.

“Effective people are not problem minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems” — LIFEAID core value: Be solution-oriented, not problem-focused.

HABIT 4: Think Win, Win

Steven’s Takeaway: Private victory precedes public victory. “Until we stop treating the symptoms and start treating the problem, our efforts will only bring counterproductive results.” Move away from the “quick-fix” band-aids.

The Emotional Bank Account is an important concept to help establish and maintain healthy relationships with friends, colleagues, customers, etc.

Rose’s Takeaway: There is no quick fix to building or repairing relationships, they are long term investments. Make deposits into people’s emotional bank accounts by seeking to understand what’s important to the individual, make what’s important to the other person as important to you as that person is to you. Tend to the little things, keep commitments, show personal integrity and clarify expectations to avoid miscommunication.

HABIT 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Rose’s Takeaway: First diagnose, then prescribe. To interact with someone effectively, you must first understand them. If you are using some sort of technique, the person will sense duplicity and manipulation. The key to influence is is your example, if your private performance doesn’t doesn’t square up with your public performance, a person is likely to not open up to you. We typically seek first to be understood. Empathic listening is listening with intent to understand. Empathic listening is powerful because it gives you data to work this, listening in itself is a tremendous deposit into one’s emotional bank account. It is deeply therapeutic and healing because it gives the person psychological air.

HABIT 6: Synergize

Jade’s takeaway: Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership. Synergy can be defined as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Factors coming together to make something greater. LIFEAID is a prime example of synergy. Different departments and assets coming together to make something greater than anyone component. An example of synergistic communication at LIFEAID is the weekly department head meeting. Coming together to discuss and find ways to find win, win solutions to various roadblocks within each department, helping team members reach their goals. The same thing can be said for the weekly Customer Service meetings. An effective company needs to be synergistic. Everybody brings something to the table.

HABIT 7: Sharpen the Saw & Inside-Out Again

Rose & Steven’s Takeaways: Sharpening the saw. Take all the habits we’ve discussed and apply them all to your life. Covey compares training your patience to building muscle in the gym. The growth happens during those last few repetitions — when the nerve fiber registers pain, the fiber is then made stronger. If it happens to be raining on a morning you had planned to take a jog, simply think, “Oh great, this is an opportunity for me to exercise my patience and willpower as well as train.” At LIFEAID, we are constantly encourage to remain active and take care of our bodies.

The four dimensions we sharpen are: physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional. Your spiritual dimension is your core. “If ones motives are wrong, nothing can be right.” As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do the job less well. Character can’t be made except by a steady continued process. 

“When we take the time to draw on the leadership center of our lives … it spreads like an umbrella over everything else. It renews us, it refreshes us.”

A  B  O  U  T     T  H  E     T  E  A  M :
 and Steven have been valuable members of the LIFEAID customer service team since 2017. 
Jade has been the LIFEAID customer service team captain since 2016.

Stephen R. Covey’s best-selling book is available for purchase online & at local bookstores nationwide.










> > > Live well.


Hearty Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

By: Karenia Bowman |

Nothing says “cozy winter comfort food” quite like beef stew.

If you know me, you know there’s nothing I love more than family gatherings, valid excuses for being extra festive, and healthier takes on our favorite comfort foods. My husband is a comfort food guy through and through, so naturally I eat up every ounce of his unrestrained enthusiasm when I make one of the classics. According to my husband, Hearty Beef Stew is the holy grail of comfort food. When I make him his beloved hearty beef stew, nothing else in the world matters to him except for those deliciously tender chunks of beef, velvety smooth pillows of potato along with the ensemble of stew veggies that melt in your mouth with each and every bite. We can’t forget about that deep, rich, savory sauce … because it’s all about the sauce. I think it’s pretty safe to say that when it comes to feeding a true comfort food connoisseur, saucy beefy things are a BIG DEAL. 

You might be asking, “How can I make a healthier version of such a serious classic without sacrificing my lifestyle goals?”

Easily. With a few strategic swaps, you can enjoy comforting favorites like this beef stew. Instead of purchasing the fattier cuts of stew meat, opt for extra lean cuts. You will drastically reduce the fat and calories without sacrificing flavor. My other strategic swap involves thickening the sauce.  A lot of stew recipes use white flour as the main thickening agent. I have nothing against white flour, but with gluten intolerance and/or sensitivity on the rise, I always look for convenient alternatives such as cornstarch, which is inexpensive and readily available.

This recipe is all about convenient home cooked comfort food. No endless hours in the kitchen, no huge pile of dirty dishes that will not do themselves, just some minor chopping, mixing and setting the slow cooker. Whether your days and nights are filled with some seasonal festive fun, or you’re heading to the gym for a much needed workout at the end of a busy day, or you simply can’t cook but you have to eat something to stay alive, the slow cooker can and will be your best friend here.

Even though many of us love this time of year, we are often exhausted by the end of each day. Endless parties and gatherings, holiday events and obligations, the struggle to maintain the balance of a healthy lifestyle in the midst of abundant temptation, and the excitement of the season followed by the inevitable burnout, are all very real experiences we may encounter. As the holidays get closer and our days and evenings get busier, coming home to cook a labor intensive meal is the last thing we want to do. It’s okay to make things a little (or a lot) easier on yourself. Plug in your slow cooker with pride, and let it do the work for you … You can even skip the dishes.

All you need to do is pull up a chair and serve yourself up a generous bowl of this hearty, savory stew to soothe your soul, and fill your belly at the end of a long, eventful day. 



Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat

Servings: 6 | 282 calories per serving
27g Protein | 28g Carbs | 4g Fat 


1.5 lb. extra lean stew meat, trimmed and cubed

1 lb. Dutch baby or red potatoes, quartered

1 cup yellow onion, diced

1 cup celery, chopped

1.5 cups carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup reduced sodium beef broth, gluten free

2 Tablespoons tomato paste, whisked in broth

1/4 cup cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water

2 bay leaves

1.5 teaspoons dried thyme

Kosher salt & coarse ground pepper, to taste


  1. Place the trimmed stew meat in the slow cooker. Quarter the baby potatoes, dice the onion, chop the celery, slice the peeled carrots and mince the garlic cloves, then add them to the slow cooker. Pour wine over the meat and vegetable mixture. Whisk the tomato paste in the beef broth until smooth, then pour the mixture into the slow cooker cavity. In a small ramekin, combine 1/4 cup of cold water and cornstarch. Gently stir until the cornstarch has dissolved. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker. Add the bay leaves and dried thyme, then season the stew mixture with salt and pepper. Cover the stew with a lid and turn the heat on the low setting, and let cook for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the stew is done, remove the bay leaves. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste preferences and enjoy immediately, or transfer to an airtight storage container and store in the refrigerator for later.


> > > Live well.

How Do Our Emotions Affect Our Immune Response?

New research uncovers fresh evidence to suggest that frequent exposure to negative emotions may have an important impact on the functioning of the immune system.

Do you often feel sad or angry? This could affect how your body reacts, researchers warn.

Many studies have shown that chronic exposure to stressanxiety, and negative moods generally can affect physical health to a large extent.

As Medical News Today reported only last year, researchers have found that chronic stress has a negative impact on memory.

Also, feelings of distress can raise the risk of cardiovascular events, such as stroke.

Now, a study conducted by specialists from Pennsylvania State University in State College has found that negative moods may change the way in which the immune response functions, and they are associated with an increased risk of exacerbated inflammation.

The results of the research — which was led by Jennifer Graham-Engeland, an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University — appear in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Negative moods and inflammation

The scientists collected the data for the study via a two-tiered approach. They used questionnaires that asked participants to record their feelings over time and in the moment. These assessments took place over 2 weeks and allowed the team to map out the participants’ emotional profiles.

The scientists also assessed the immune response of the volunteers by collecting blood samples from them and looking for markers of inflammation.

Inflammation occurs naturally, as part of the immune response, when the body reacts to infections or wounds. However, high levels of inflammation are associated with poor health and a range of chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

Graham-Engeland and team noticed that individuals who experienced negative moods several times per day for extended periods of time tended to have higher levels of inflammation biomarkers in their blood.

The scientists also note that if they collected blood samples from participants soon after they had experienced a negative emotion such as sadness or anger, inflammation biomarkers were all the more present in the blood.

However, experiencing positive moods — even for a short while before the collection of a blood sample — was associated with lower inflammation levels. However, this was only true for male participants in this study, the investigators specify.

‘Affect is modifiable’

The scientists are confident that their study adds crucial evidence regarding the impact of negative affect on health — especially since their participants belonged to diverse ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Nevertheless, they caution that to confirm these findings, they will need to replicate them in further studies. They point out that the recent research was the first to explore the link between both momentary and long-term mood reports and measures of inflammation.

“We hope that this research will prompt investigators to include momentary measures of stress and affect in research examining inflammation, to replicate the current findings and help characterize the mechanisms underlying associations between affect and inflammation,” explains Graham-Engeland.

In the future, they hope that this and similar studies may allow specialists to come up with better strategies to improve mood and thus protect aspects of physical health.

Because affect is modifiable, we are excited about these findings and hope that they will spur additional research to understand the connection between affect and inflammation, which in turn may promote novel psychosocial interventions that promote health broadly and help break a cycle that can lead to chronic inflammation, disability, and disease.”

—Jennifer Graham-Engeland

Source: Medical News Today

— Published

For information about the IMMUNITYAID Support Blend which contains essential vitamins and clean ingredients your body’s immune system needs to stay defended daily, visit our product page here.

> > > Live well.

Chipotle Launches New “Lifestyle Bowls” for Paleo, Keto, Whole30 & Protein-Rich Diets

Dieters looking to stick to their New Year’s resolutions need look no further than their local Chipotle.

The burrito restaurant introduced a collection of “lifestyle bowls” earlier this week, available exclusively through its mobile app and website. The new offerings use the same ingredients that Chipotle has always offered, but are catered to folks adhering to the popular keto, paleo, Whole30 and other protein-rich diet plans.

The online-only availability of these meals is a strategic move by the company to coax more customers to order digitally, since average checks of digital orders tend to be higher than orders placed at the restaurant.

The bowls are a bit pricier than a traditional bowl as they all contain guacamole or double the meat, both extra charges at the chain. Without add-ons, salads and bowls cost between $7.60 and $8.60, as priced at a New Jersey Chipotle restaurant. In comparison, these lifestyle bowls run from $10.30 to $11.15.

The appeal of the bowls is that dieters don’t need to build their own or try and figure out what items fit their diet plan, Chipotle does it for them.

Read the full article here.

Source: CNBC |By 


> > > Live well.