This past spring, I logged in many hours at the gym. Combine that with an incredibly challenging school year as a teacher, and it is no surprise that I took the summer off to relax and recharge. Now it’s August, (or as teachers like to say “One Long Sunday”) and I feel relaxed mentally, but physically I feel puffy, bloated and I’m thinking I relaxed a tad too much this summer. So on Aug. 1, I set a goal to be back in my skinny jeans by the time the first leaves hit the ground. When I made this goal, I felt motivated to get back into my healthy eating and fitness regimen. I knew how to execute my plan during the school year, but wasn’t sure how to do this during the hectic, no-schedule summer with its endless opportunities for snacking! That’s when I discovered Quest Protein Bars.

quest protein bar

Photo Credit: Brownie Bites

Quest Protein Bars are quick and on-the-go, but they also they are gluten-free, use no artificial sweeteners, no sugar, no sugar oils, no soy protein, junk ingredients or glycerine! No other nutrition company has been able to create a product that is low carb but also high in protein and fiber. Oh and did I mention they have no trans fats?

I felt like I had stumbled upon a little treasure when finding these Quest Bars. I’ve heard about them from friends and family and have seen a lot of people posting about them online and on Instagram, so I was actually really excited and motivated to get back on my game. And then Day 1 of my new plan arrived and my motivation wavered once reality hit, then I remembered… this was going to take some work.

Here’s a little preview of my quest to get back in my skinny jeans – week 1:

Monday 3:00 PM: Box of Quest Bars arrived as I was heading to the gym. (For the first time in 3 weeks…shh!) I grabbed the Chocolate Brownie flavor and ate it on the way. I was impressed by the flavor and the consistency, and it gave me the energy I needed for the grueling first day back without weighing me down.

Tuesday 10:00 AM: I realized I’d fed my kids but not myself – as usual. As I was grabbing my daughter’s leftover “crusts” from her Healthy Banana Waffles (click here for the yummy recipe), I remembered the Quest Bars and opted for that healthy option instead. I tried the Banana Nut Muffin flavor. I was definitely not disappointed and it sure beat soggy waffle “crusts”!

Wednesday 4:30 PM: While finishing up some home projects, I kept walking into the kitchen to stare into a near empty cupboard (apparently I gave up food shopping for the summer, too) for something to satisfy a chocolate craving. On the third trip back, I peeked into the shipping box and saw some Quest Cravings Protein Peanut Butter Cups. Yes, please! I was delighted that once I opened the package they were so big I only need to eat one. It was surprisingly tasty and it kept me both satisfied and satiated until dinner time. I made a mental note to keep these healthy goodies in my desk drawer for that inevitable end of the day, “I-deserve-a-treat-for-dealing-with-125-teenagers” moments. They happen more times than I’d like!

Thursday 12:30 PM: Friends invited us to their community pool for the day. I perused the snack bar menu and noticed it was filled with everything I knew NOT to eat while at the pool. Then I remembered I threw a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Protein Bar into my pool bag before we left. I ate that and relished at how impressed the other moms looked when they saw me sticking to my healthy eating goals. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right?!

Friday 8:30 PM: I saw my husband head to the fridge for some ice cream. Do I dare? No way – I have been so good all week! But still, I felt let down that I couldn’t enjoy a sweet treat with my husband. Then I remembered that I had that second Quest Peanut Butter Cup from Wednesday! I wondered what would happen if I microwaved it for 30 seconds and dribbled it over a 1/2 cup of light vanilla ice cream? Well, chocolate-peanut butter deliciousness is the answer to that question!

Saturday 11:00 AM: Ugh. We were stuck in traffic heading to the New Jersey shore and I was starving! With two sleeping kids it was definitely not worth stopping at the rest stop, so I figured I’d wait it out until we arrived. Then my growling stomach reminded me I threw a Quest Bar in my bag the other day before we went to the mall. I got even more excited when I saw the Coconut Cashew bar. I’ve been excited to try this flavor because I’ve heard it is the best. Let me tell you, it was delicious! It drove away the hunger pangs and it didn’t have that “healthy” taste that most other brands have. The best part? When I got to the beach house, I proudly turned down the bagels and cream cheese!

Sunday 2:00 PM: Everyone was snacking at the beach and I took my Quest Bar out of my beach bag with pride. This time I enjoyed the Mixed Berry Bliss flavor, but what did I enjoy more? The sheer satisfaction that I didn’t let myself down and I stuck to my healthy eating goals even during the difficult temptations.

After a week, I am no longer surprised by how tasty the Quest Bars are or how well they satisfy me. I am surprised, however, that when I got on the scale this morning I lost a little over 2 pounds this week! Nutrition professionals always talk about how important it is to track your eating and count your calories when trying to lose weight, but the first week back I like to do the opposite. I count the calories I didn’t eat. It boosts my confidence to go to a party and look at the chocolate cake I would’ve eaten last week but turned it down this week (thanks to the satisfying taste of the Quest Bars). That’s at least 500 calories for my “Count it Out” bank. Go me! If supplementing real food for protein bars isn’t your thing, you can still eating healthy and enjoy it! Try some of these delicious recipes for low calorie/high flavor options!