Motivation Monday {and a protein bar roundup}

Well, we are back from a wonderful week long vacation and I am still trying to accept the fact that I have to get back to reality, even though I am already sitting at my desk and have a mile long to-do list staring me in the face. The struggle is definitely real today.  We had a really great time in Sarasota, and while I wouldn’t exactly call it a restful trip since we were on the go nonstop, we did a lot of fun things including visiting some new places.  We are all worn out and probably could have used another day to recuperate, but alas the real world calls.  More on the Sarasota trip to come later.

 While I definitely had my share of treats and did not track my food/calories in My Fitness Pal, I also exercised just about every day. We were also pretty active the whole trip in general, so I feel like I somewhat made up for all the extra calories and treats that I normally wouldn’t consume.  Thankfully there are a few Orangetheory Fitness studios in the area that I was able to visit.  It was pretty hot while we were there (per the usual), so the air conditioned studios were definitely a nice reprise from the scorching sun.  I did take my workout outside a few mornings though.  Stats from last week…

 Monday 8/8: 60 minute Orangetheory Fitness class

Tuesday 8/9: 65 minute power walk with some hill intervals (Sarasota is completely flat, but there is this random man-made mountain near my parent’s house that is perfect for hill sprints)

Wednesday 8/10: 65 minute walk/jog outside

Thursday 8/11: 60 minute Orangetheory Fitness class

Friday 8/12: 30 minute walk outside that morning and then another one that evening

Saturday 8/13: Travel day, but I did walk around our neighborhood that evening for 35 minutes, pushing Asher Wade in the stroller

Sunday 8/14: 60 minute Orangetheory Fitness class

I thought I’d do a roundup of some of my favorite protein bars.  We are “Gold Card” members at both Vitamin Shoppe and GNC, so we get most of our bars and supplements from those two places.  However, I’m more partial to Vitamin Shoppe because I find they have a better selection.

 *As far as taste goes, Quest Bars are my favorite. I like every single flavor, although white chocolate raspberry has always been my go-to (love those chunks of white chocolate chips).  With 20 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber, they are pretty filling as well.  I have one issue with these…they contain sugar alcohols and other artificial sweeteners that can often wreak havoc on my stomach.  I’m really sensitive to a lot of artificial sweeteners (Stevia, which is plant based, does not bother me at all), and I try to avoid them as much as I can.  Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but that’s only if and when I am very careful about avoiding artificial sweeteners for the remainder of the day.  If I had a choice, I’d also prefer a dairy free bar, which these are not (they contain whey protein, which is milk based, but also a great source of protein).  Still though, as far as flavor, texture, size and stats go, these bars are awesome.

*I was introduced to RX Bars when I was doing Whole30 and they have remained a staple in our pantry. Minimal ingredients (6 or less, and they’re printed right on the front of the label), around 12 grams of protein and no artificial ingredients whatsoever.  They are chewy and taste good…not my most favorite in taste in texture, but definitely not my least.  The blueberry and newest maple sea salt flavors are probably my favorites.  They are filling too.  Price is kind of high on these.  I get them for around $45/box off Amazon.

*I recently tried a No Cow Bar a month or so ago and I’ve been buying them pretty regularly now. I love that they are dairy, soy and gluten free and still have around 20 grams of protein.  It’s hard to find a plant based protein bar that still has a decent amount of protein AND tastes good.  I particularly like the raspberry truffle flavor, but they’re honestly all good.  However, like the Quest Bars, these also have artificial sweeteners, so I have to be careful.

*Fit Joy has been a recent addition to our pantry as well. I initially wasn’t crazy about these, but they are growing on me.  Similar stats to a Quest Bar, but no artificial sweeteners.  As far as taste and texture, not quite as good as Quest Bars, but still tasty.  I actually like the cinnamon roll flavor best, which is kind of random since I’m not usually a huge cinnamon fan, but it really works here.

*I used to be a big Clif Bar consumer, and I still go to them when I’m in a pinch or traveling because you can find them in most gas stations. They taste awesome (love every single flavor, especially the “holiday” flavors they come out with around this time of year) and are pretty filling and the ingredient list isn’t too bad.  My one issue with these is the high calorie count, primarily due to the high carbs and sugar.  They are heavy on the grains and while I like that there are no artificial sweeteners, too much real sugar isn’t good either.  Definitely good if you’re in a pinch though, and they make a decent meal replacement if you are in a hurry.

*While Lara Bars are technically not protein bars (they usually only have a few grams of protein), they are worth mentioning because they are a great option when you need a mid-afternoon energy boost. I love Lara Bars because of their very short ingredient list (less than 6!), consisting of only dried fruit and nuts.  They are one of the cleanest snack bars and they are delicious.  I love every single flavor, but my favorite is probably cherry pie or coconut cream pie.  I heard Lara Bar has come out with a protein bar, but I have yet to try, or even find, it.  It’s called the Lara Bar ALT and has around 10 grams of protein.  Really hoping to get my hands on one soon!

*Also not really a protein bar, but I’d be remised not to mention my favorite “protein cookie.” While I don’t recommend eating one of these every day, since the calories and carbs are on the high side, they are great for when you’re craving a cookie.  I feel like I’m treating myself, but still getting a protein boost.  Plus they’re dairy free, soy free, non-GMO and have a good amount of fiber.  Lemon poppy seed is my favorite flavor, with the newest birthday cake flavor coming in a close second.

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