Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Balance Bar Dark Review and Giveaway

For the past two days, my friend Elena and I have been getting up at the butt crack of dawn to attend a spinning class in downtown Traverse City at a new studio called Buka Bike. Just from glancing at their website, you know you’re going to be in for a one-of-a-kind cycling experience when you sign up for a class.

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The bikes are like nothing I’ve ever seen before – they actually tilt from side to side so that when you’re out of the saddle, you have to use your core in a way that you could never do on a traditional spin bike. The instructors lead you through intense workouts that engage your entire body and the 45 minutes flies by. You also have the option of wearing a heart rate monitor during the class (there is no charge for this) and after entering your stats online (height, weight, gender, age), your heart rate and calorie burn is displayed on the flat screen televisions that hang up on either side of the room. This morning I burned almost 700 calories in one class! That is insane. I’ll definitely be coming back for more classes!

So, if you follow me on Facebook, then you might have seen my post yesterday about almost passing out after class. When the class was over I started getting really dizzy and my ears started ringing. I started to panic – I’ve never fainted before – and sat down in the back of the room for a minute. The instructor saw me and the first thing she asked was if I had eaten anything before class. Whoops..my bad. Definitely learned my lesson there. The low blood sugar (caused from not eating anything before an intense workout), coupled with the fact that I am terribly out of shape right now is probably what caused my little episode and I made sure not to make the same mistake today. I ate a protein bar on the way to class and felt SO much better.

On that note, let’s talk about those protein bars.

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Balance Bar recently came out with a new line of products - Balance Bar Dark. They reached out to me a couple months ago and asked if I’d like to try out the new variety, and since I’m a long time fan of Balance Bars I willingly agreed. I was sent this lovely variety pack, which came with nine bars (three in each flavor), a cute little Balance Bar notebook, and an eco-friendly bag.

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The bars are available in three flavors: Dark Chocolate Coconut, Dark Chocolate Peanut, and Dark Chocolate Crunch.

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Here is some information about the bars from the company:

  • The Balance Bar Dark bars are high in protein, certified gluten free, an excellent source of antioxidants (Vitamins A, C, E), certified kosher dairy and contain 4 grams of fiber per serving.
  • As with all Balance Bar products, the new Dark line follows the 40-30-30 nutrition principle – a proven formula developed by scientists to help stabilize blood sugar levels that represents the caloric ratio the body needs to enjoy lasting balanced energy and satisfy hunger for longer; 40% of total calories from carbs, 30% from quality protein and 30% from dietary fat.
  • Balance Bar Dark is the first nutrition bar line on the market to bear the well-respected Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal. The Rainforest Alliance certification assures consumers that our cocoa beans are grown on sustainably managed farms that protect people and their surrounding ecosystems of water, soil and wildlife.

I already knew about the protein content and the 40-30-30 principle that Balance Bar follows, but I was impressed with the new Rainforest Alliance Certification. I’ve never seen a protein bar that was eco-friendly – that’s pretty neat.

I’ve tried all three of the flavors, and they are all delicious. They have a dark chocolate coating and don’t taste chalky like other protein bars do. I’m especially fond of the the Dark Chocolate Crunch bar. My favorite Balance Bar flavor of all time is the Chocolate Mint Cookie Crunch from the Balance Bar Gold collection, and the Dark Chocolate Crunch reminds me of that bar minus the mint.

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Okay, so here’s the fun part of this post: Balance Bar offered to send one of you guys the same sample pack that I received so that you can try out the new flavors for yourself! Here’s what you have to do in order to enter the giveaway:

  • Required: Like and follow Balance Bar on Facebook and Twitter
  • Leave a comment letting me know your favorite way to fuel up for a workout, or tell me what Balance Bar Dark flavor you’d like to try.

I’ll choose a winner this weekend!

One winner per household, email address or home address. If you have won this prize on another blog you are ineligible to win again.


GOOD LUCK!


Disclaimer:
I was sent complimentary Balance Bars to review for the blog, but was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Packed Lunches and the New ALT Bar from LARABAR

I’ve been trying not to force myself to blog, but instead waiting for it to just come naturally. I’ve mentioned this before, but it kind of goes hand in hand with this weight loss/healthy living thing. When I’m doing good and staying on track, I’m more motivated to blog. Who wants to blog about how they’ve been sitting around on the couch eating ice cream? Not some of my finest moments, that’s for sure.

However, the past few days have actually been going pretty well for me and as a result, here I am – not surprisingly – sitting at my computer ready to give you all an update. I finally downloaded Lose It! on my new phone and have been tracking calories since last Thursday. Big step for me! I’ve also been making some changes with my diet. I’m trying not to take on too much at once – in other words, be “perfect” all the time – because that almost always leads to failure. Instead, I’m focusing on a couple things that desperately need improvement. Counting calories is the first change, and the second is that I’m trying to curb my sugar cravings. I have been eating WAY too much of it lately and it has got to stop. I reached a point where I was pretty much eating dessert/junk food every single day and it was having a serious impact on my mood and on the scale. The only way to get rid of the addiction is to stop feeding it, so with the exception of a few Sour Pouch Kids that were sitting on the counter at work on Friday, I haven’t had any.

With regards to my meals lately, breakfast has been a typical diet staple: egg whites and oatmeal. However, I’m not THAT good – I still fill my egg white omelette with goat cheese Winking smile. I’ve been switching things up for lunch though, so I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite packed lunches that have been in the rotation recently.

First up is my favorite: the smorgasbord!

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I love packing a bunch of different things to eat. This is a very common combination for me: fruit, hummus and crackers (more specifically, Blue Diamond Nut Thins), string cheese, and a Chobani Flip. BTW, have you tried these? I am totally obsessed with them, especially the Almond Coco Loco and Key Lime Crumble flavors. My local grocery stores are always running out of them, so I stockpile them whenever they have some in!

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Sometimes I’ll pack a protein bar instead of crackers and hummus, like these new ALT bars that LARABAR kindly sent me.

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ALT bars are an alternative protein bar made with pea protein. Each bar is made with the same wholesome, gluten-free, vegan ingredients that you can expect from any LARABAR, but contain ten grams of protein instead of the typical four to five found in most Larabars. They are available in four flavors: Peanut Butter Cookie, Pumpkin Pie, Cinnamon Apple Crisp, and Lemon Pound Cake. So far, I’ve tried the Lemon Pound Cake and the Peanut Butter Cookie and I was definitely a fan. They do taste a little different than regular Larabars and they are not as moist, but that’s to be expected from any protein bar. I will definitely be buying these when I see them in stores!

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When I’m in the mood for veggies, my lunches look more like this:

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The above photo contains a spinach salad with strawberries, feta cheese, and cashews (so good!) and a pita filled with turkey, hummus, avocado, and cucumber. A couple clementines round out the meal – and let me just say that it is a good one. I always feel so healthy when I eat this lunch!


Watching my calories is hard enough, but it has also been a challenge for me to get back on the bandwagon with workouts. When I can get myself to the gym and do thirty minutes of cardio, that’s an accomplishment. I know with time my love for exercise will return, but until then I have to force myself to do it. On Thursday, I ran for the first time in months and it was pretty brutal. I ran for five minute intervals at a 5.0 for thirty five minutes and I was about dying. A year and a half ago, that was my “rest” pace when I was doing HIIT on the treadmill! It’s disappointing how far I’ve slid back, but I suppose the only direction to go from here is up.

On that note, it’s about time for me to get ready for bed. I have a feeling I’ll be regretting this in the morning, but I signed up for a 6 am spin class with a friend! Yikes.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Oh, Hey

Well that was certainly an unplanned hiatus.

I didn’t mean to just quit blogging like that, I swear! It just sort of happened. Not only does it take a lot of time, but I guess I kind of lost interest. I stopped taking pictures of everything and it has been nice to come home from work and just relax without feeling like I “have” to get a blog post up. I really appreciate all of the emails, tweets, and Facebook posts asking if everything is okay. The truth is that I’ve sort of been dealing with some stuff in my personal life that has contributed to my lack of motivation. Since someone is bound to ask, I might as well put it out there: Eric and I have been struggling and have decided to break things off (for now at least). I don’t want to get into the details, but I think we need some time away from each other to find ourselves again as individuals. It’s been really hard, but we’ve still been talking a lot and getting along. Relationships are so confusing, and I’m kind of just taking it one day at a time. I really hope that we can work things out someday, but if not then it just wasn’t meant to be.


Despite everything that has been going on with Eric, there have actually been some fun things going on over here as well. At the end of March, I made my first “big girl” purchase and got myself a new (used) car! I’ve been “window shopping” for cars since before I even graduated but have put put off actually buying one because I’ve been putting a lot of money towards my student loans. I have had my eye on one SUV/crossover in particular, and a few months ago I finally test drove one. It was pretty much love at first drive. I couldn’t afford a brand new one so I made myself a budget and a list of requirements that I wanted and started searching online. I finally found the perfect one at a dealership in Warren, OH, which was about an 8 hour drive from my apartment. I contacted them and the salesman said someone would drive the car right to my door if I agreed to trade in my Pontiac Vibe. It was a done deal!

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I’ve had the Vibe since high school and while I have a lot of memories associated with it, I was stoked to trade it in and move on up in the automobile world Smile. I’m absolutely loving my new car and I don’t regret my decision to buy it at all!


While we’re on the topic of new purchases, I also joined the iPhone club last month!

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I’ve had a Droid Incredible HTC for a couple years now and when it came time for my contract to renew, I decided to go ahead and give the iPhone a whirl. I wasn’t particularly attached to my Droid and I’m not an Apple hater (though many in people in my life are…) so I thought it would be fun to switch things up. I must say that so far, I am a fan. It is so easy to use, I love the way it looks, and it’s a lot easier to manage both of my Gmail accounts from my phone than it was on the Droid. Definitely happy with this purchase as well.


Besides updating my wheels and my phone, I’ve been working a lot at the pharmacy. There hasn’t been too much else going on in my life, but Eric and I did go to a local bodybuilding show last month. It was awesome! Those people are so inspiring and I only wish I had the drive and determination that they do. I’ve let myself go, and it’s depressing. I’ve put on a lot of weight and all it does is make my clothes tighter and my confidence go down. It’s amazing how things just spiral out of control, but they do. However, today is a new day and if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s staring over Winking smile. I got a good workout in this morning and tomorrow I’m taking my bike out for the first ride of the year!


As always, thanks for your support and still following me on this journey. I can’t believe I was blessed with so many loyal readers and I am forever grateful for all of you <3

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