Monday 23 February 2015

The Upbeat Blogger Challenge

For the past 8 months I have been making a conscious decision to eat better and move more. I began the gym in July 2014 and I haven’t looked back, it has been a huge lifestyle change for me and one that I actually cannot believe I didn't make sooner. In the time that I have spent cooking more homemade nutritious meals I have noticed a number of changes, I have lost weight and made those first baby steps to toning up, I feel more confident in myself and how I look, and I know that the changes I have made (though I may accidentally demolish a chocolate bar every now and again) are permanent and now just my everyday lifestyle. 

I was recently invited to take part in the Upbeat Blogger Challenge, Upbeat is a tasty protein drink that is low in fat and only ranks in on the calorie scale at only 149 calories. It boasts half the sugar content that is found in the vast majority of your typical fruit smoothies and makes a great ‘snack’ after you finish working out, or to even kick start your morning. I could see straight away that taking part in this challenge would be a great way to kick start the year, I was supplied with vouchers to kit me out with a weeks’ worth of Upbeat drinks, and sent a very generous Tesco shop full of healthy food to go alongside and aid the challenge. The nature of the challenge was to see how I felt before I began, how I felt during the week I was drinking the Upbeat drinks and how I feel now that it is all over.

Getting Started
I was pleased to see that everything I had already been cooking and eating was included within the shop, Meats, Fish, Quinoa and lots of fruit and vegetables. This meant I was already off to a flying start. It meant that I haven’t had to drastically change my usual day to day lifestyle, because it’s something that I have eased myself into over the last few months and the food and recipe ideas are all items that I use on a daily basis.

Although recently I have been testing the water and eating outside my usual comfort zone. I have been eating fish such as Salmon and Haddock, and even discovered that I enjoy Dates, Almonds, Cashew Nuts, Celery and Banana’s (I am aware that Bananas are not too exotic, but I have always been put off for some reason..), It really is surprising what you find you like if you give yourself the chance to really experience it. This of course has made preparing meals a lot easier, and I am more than willing to give anything a whirl at least once.   

I stocked up on the Upbeat drinks for the week at our local Tesco, unfortunately they only stock two of the three flavours, Strawberry and Mango & Passion Fruit, the third flavour which I am yet to try is Blueberry and Raspberry, so I will have to hunt this out at some point in the not so distant future.

 Extra Protein
I enjoy a protein rich diet, but since starting this challenge I have made the conscious effort to include it more throughout the day. There are so many options, you could even have a small portion of peanuts for a mid-morning snack and  steak salad for lunch, finishing up with chicken enchiladas for dinner. You don’t have to limit what you eat, you just have to eat more of the right things. I have been by passing rice more and more recently after trying Quinoa for the first time a few weeks ago, Quinoa is a grain that has more protein and fiber than rice or oats, and can be deliciously flavoured with stock or even lemon juice. It’s easy to cook up and is tasty hot or cold, it can be mixed into a salad or enjoyed on the side, and is great to have in the cupboard.

I prepare my snacks and lunches at home, usually the evening before. I find this helps me stay on track and I don’t find myself nipping off to the vending machine at work. In fact since June last year, I haven’t ventured to the vending machine once! A typical work snack for me may be Celery and Peanut Butter one day, Low Fat Greek Yoghurt and rolled outs with berries the next, or even a simple piece of fruit such as a banana. When lunch time comes a knocking I often enjoy chicken, turkey, steak or tuna and a weighed helping of Quinoa with some salad. Another day I may have a Tuna and boiled Egg Wrap with Cucumber. I am really trying to jumble the menu up so I am getting a tasty selection of different foods to enjoy.

Now I am enjoying Upbeat drinks alongside my staple diet too, I have been incorporating them into my after work out snack. Sometimes when I get home from the gym I am peckish and really need a little something to perk me up again. This is where Upbeat has been a great help, it’s always good to enjoy some additional protein after working out, and this seems to hit the spot as an ideal ‘snack’. Both of the flavours that I have tried have been delicious and completely blown my expectations out of the water, having tried the other half’s Whey Protein mixes before I was a little worried as to what I was signing up to. However I needn’t have worried, the Strawberry tastes just like a Love Heart Sweet in my opinion and the Mango and Passion Fruit is equally as delicious.

A week ago I began following Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide, I am the kind of person who needs everything laid out in front of me, up until I began following this guide I was simply winging it. In all fairness to myself I haven’t lead myself to far off the beaten path and I am pleased with the results that I have achieved in this time, but I know that I can do more, so now when I finish my gym session I actually have a few more sequenced exercises to perform. After enjoying my Upbeat I am ready to get going again, I feel energised and don’t have to worry that I may do some un-necessary snacking.

I took the below picture on the left 3 weeks ago (3rd February 2015), just before I started following the eBook and taking part in the Upbeat Challenge. The photo on the right was taken this morning (23rd February 2015).

A week has passed…
I have now been enjoying Upbeat for a week, and I will continue to add these protein rich drinks to my shopping trolley from now on. I am so pleased I took part in this challenge, I may not have altered my eating plan to drastically to take part but that just pointed out to me that I was already heading in the right direction. I have learnt more about the right kind of foods to eat and discovered new foods that I actually enjoy (foods that I wouldn’t have touched before). I don’t feel to different but I do have noticeably more energy after drinking one, and I do find that they help keep me fuller longer, which of course is good if you are trying to watch what you are eating.

Going forward I will be continuing to use all that I have learnt from this challenge, and I am sure the results will speak for themselves. I have got to where I am now through eating better, working out and looking after myself. I look forward to seeing what the next 8 months may bring, because if you truly want something and are willing to put the work in, you will be surprised at just how quickly you will begin to see changes.

Disclaimer: I took part in the Upbeat Blogger Challenge and was provided with vouchers to purchase the drinks free of charge. I was sent a generous shop in order to cook up my meals for the challenge in exchange for this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.   

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