Tuesday, 1 July 2014

My top pick of healthy snack bars

BOUNCE ENERGY BALLS (click to buy)
Bounce Balls are a relatively new product and come in a bitebized ball with 6 different flavours to choose from. Each ball is really high in lots of nutrients - not just protein - whether it's vitamin E, magnesium or fibre and contains naturally occurring ingredients and super foods such as carob, cacao nibs and spirulina to name a few.

Each flavour ranges between 3g and 10g of protein, around 160-200 calories and contains no trans fat. They're all gluten free, too. I love these and can't get enough of the Coconut & Macadamia flavour which tastes like a cross between cake and coconut macaroon - so satisfying as a post-work out snack!

QUEST BARS (click to buy)
Oh my. I have been dying to get my hands on some Quest Bars for a long time, and was so happy to find that a local store (Sports Food in Glasgow, for those locally) stocked them as my usual online shop, Protein Pix and Mix was out of stock.

Quest Bars feel like the ultimate treat, especially when heated up in the oven until they're warm and cookie-like. At around 170 calories each, with only 4g of carbs and a whopping 20g of protein I seriously wish these were more readily available in the UK as they'd be great to grab to re-fuel on the go! The flavours are insanely good too with Peanut Butter Supreme (oh come on, I couldn't not love the PB one!), Strawberry Cheesecake and Cookies & Cream being my favourites.

NAKD BARS (click to buy)
Similar to quest bars, but without the hefty USA import price tag these Nakd Bars make a good cookie/cake substitute when heated. The flavours are not as exciting, and they don't pack in nearly as much protein but they taste great nonetheless.

I find that I can't eat them too often as its easy to get sickened of the chewy texture and that they're not quite sweet enough for me sometimes but being available in most supermarkets and even some corner shops, these are usually my snack of choice if I'm out and about!

Being a big fan of their all natural nut butters, it's no surprise that these snack bars from Meridian are one of my favourites. I'm not such a big fan of their Almond Butter bar (it doesn't have much taste, I find) but the Peanut Butter bar blows my mind every time I eat it. Seriously, so tasty!

At under 200 calories and 8g of protein these don't give as much protein as other bars but they make my sweet toothe day every time I have one and they keep me feeling full between meals.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

One year progress and an update

(I guess I really do have a favourite pair of shoes....)

It’s been two months since I last posted a progress update and despite only losing 2 or 3 pounds in this space of time I feel like I’ve made quite a lot of progress in other ways. It's also been 1 year since I started my weightloss journey and I'm almost 3 stone lighter, a hell of a lot fitter and most importantly, so much happier.

I mentioned in my last post that my focus has to change from weight after noticing that my weightloss was slowing down as I got slimmer and this is something I feel I’m doing well with. It’s not easy moving away from judging everything in numbers when you’ve spent a year weighing yourself weekly and noting it down, right down to the exact half lb. I found it particularly hard on a Sunday night when I’d think about what the scales would read on my usual Monday morning weigh in so I’ve stopped weighing myself weekly and will probably only do it periodically from now on.

I’ve changed the way I work out too, which has resulted in some brilliant progress in my body shape and muscle definition which in turn is making me appreciate my progress without linking it to the numbers. Rather than doing mostly cardio I’ve stepped away from my beloved hour long sessions on the spin bike and rowing marathons and do maybe 20-30 minutes HIIT on spin bike or Versa Climber (probably my favourite piece of cardio equipment, ever!) followed by around 40 minutes of circuits using weights. I get so much enjoyment out of planning a circuit of 4 or 5 exercises and then taking myself to the gym to do it. I’ve built up a collection of self-made circuits to work different parts of my body and these circuits, combined with breaking my workouts down and working individual muscle groups on each session (why didn’t I do this sooner?) has really made a difference.

My arms are much more leaner and my biceps are definitely coming through. Triceps are my big area of focus just now as although they’ve definitely firmed up a lot I was once the queen of bingo wings and have a lot of progress left to make. My stomach is not quite flat but I’m getting closer week by week and being the type of girl who holds all of her extra weight in that area, this makes me happy! My legs are getting a bit skinny for my liking, but with my current obsession with big quads I’m sure this will change too!

Overall I’m really happy and proud of my progress. I feel like I’ve almost got to the end of my weightloss journey and now it’s all about building muscle and getting a bit of definition.

I'd love to know how you're all getting on with your weightless and exercise goals so please share your progress in my comments! :)


Friday, 27 June 2014

Raw chocolate from iQ Chocolate


A few weeks ago I went to the Ideal Home Show in Glasgow and somehow, instead of walking out with bags of homeware, I brought home a bag full of chocolate. There's no hiding the fact that I'm a big chocolate fan, but with eating healthily I've been trying to limit myself to a few squares of high percentage dark chocolate per week. However this little beauty, brought to you by Scottish company iQ Superfood Chocolate goes one step further as it's raw chocolate.

Cocoa beans are actually jam packed full of nutrients, but the usual chocolate making process heats the beans to such high temperatures that any trace of nutrients is lost by the time it reaches our mouth. Raw chocolate uses a much gentler process meaning that all that potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron (who knew chocolate was so good for you, eh?) found in the beans can be absorbed by your body.

Not only this, but iQ Chocolate use rare cocoa beans from the Rio Negro Valley. Now I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on cocoa, but this chocolate is definitely the nicest I've ate (if we're taking Kinder Buenos out of the equation, anyway...) and it definitely tastes high quality, even compared to brands such as Green & Blacks.

I've tried the Plush Peppermint flavour which is like a fresher, mintier After Eight without the cream filling and Espresso Kick which definitely gave ma a kick and has become my favourite espresso chocolate to date - and I've tried a lot. You can tell the flavours added to the cocoa are fresh ingredients and not artificial flavourings. The espresso chocolate tastes almost as though you're eating actual coffee beans.

I'll definitely be picking up some more bars to try. At £2.99 they do seem a little expensive but just 1 block is enough to satisfy my super sweet tooth so I've been getting 4 servings from each bar. They're also only 197 calories for the entire bar too, so this is definitely a guilt-free treat!

Have you tried raw chocolate yet?


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Life lately #9

It's been a while since I posted one of these (November, actually - wow!), and I thought it was about time I updated you with everything going on in my life!

I've quite obviously, if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, been exercising, meal prepping and buying far too much new sports wear (even I will admit that 2 pairs of Nike trainers in 1 week is a little bit obsessive) and generally just being healthy. It's actually 1 year since I started keeping fit and living a healthier lifestyle and I've got a post about my progress scheduled for a few days time.

I've had to schedule quite a few posts this week, since I'm jetting off (errr, flying Glasgow to Bristol...) to Glastonbury this! It's not all pleasure, it's actually part of my exciting new job working in the Promo Team for the company I work - squeeeeee! It's pretty easy to figure out who I work for, but if you're at Glastonbury this weekend then keep your eyes out for some big turquoise and yellow cows and you'll maybe spot me covered in mud next to one doing my thing!

Other than that I've been sprucing my house up a little, and I finally got around to completing my bathroom makeover which I couldn't be happier with. I've been loving the warmer weather and taking advantage of the lovely boardwalk on my doorstep. You really can't beat a walk along it when the sun is setting, just look at that view!


Monday, 23 June 2014

My Summer Occasion with M&S


When M&S contacted me to get involved with their Summer Occasion campaign, I jumped at the chance. After missing out on Tough Mudder (all my friends dropped out, and I wasn't brave enough to go it alone - maybe next year!) I'd been trying to think of more ways to get active this Summer and get myself out of the gym and into the sunshine and some new goodies would definitely entice me to do just that.

My ultimate goal this Summer is to climb one of the various mountains and hills just a stones throw away from where I live so I picked some supplies that I thought would help me out. However with the gorgeous weather over the past week I couldn't help but give my sports bra a test run and get outside and do a spot of running on the gorgeous boardwalk (I Instagrammed it right here) on my doorstep. I don't know why I don't do this more often!

I'd been eyeing up this bra from M&S (which also comes in a gorgeous patterned version that I'm tempted to buy) for a few months now and I couldn't be happier with it. I hate the type of sports bras that completely flatten your chest and leave you feeling uncomfortable both in confidence and style. This bra has just the right amount of support to stop any jiggling around, but being a push-up style still leaves you feeling perky. It also gets bonus points for actually functioning like a real bra with a clip fastening, adjustable strap lengths which are also inter-changeable to whichever style of top you're wearing.

The moment I spotted this H2O+ Face Mist I knew it would be love at first spritz. I can't stand being overly hot in Summer and can often be found moaning and whining about wanting nothing more than to submerge myself in an ice cold bath. This product isn't quite the ice cold bath that my mind pictures in those situations, but it definitely does the job. A few sprays later my whole body is feeling much cooler, particularly my face. I'm pretty sure this will stop me having a strop half way up a mountain because my body temperature is too high!

I decided to pick up a nice L'Occitane hand cream too, as my plans to do any sort of outdoor activity, especially climbing rocky hills, will most likely leave my hands in a sorry state. It's already come in handy on my recent runs though, as my boyfriend and I discovered some bars perfect for pull-ups and my hands have become a little dry after gripping less than comfortable the metal bars. I was hoping the hand cream would have a slightly stronger scent to it being Cherry Blossom flavoured, but despite the lack of fragrance it soaks in quickly and does fix my dry, sore hands in no time.

What are your Summer essentials? Are you taking part in any outdoor activity?