The Energy Bar Bachelorette

Hi I’m Devan. I’m a 24 year-old Canadian 800m runner and I’ve reached a stage in my athletic life where I feel the desire to settle down and commit to one protein bar.

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I’ve played the energy bar field for a few years and while I’ve had fun and been (mostly) satisfied, I’m ready to find a more meaningful relationship with one brand. I’m looking for a bar to support my nutrition/recovery needs for running, but I also need something that can be a grab-and-go snack, and tastes great.

(Is that really so much to ask for? I don’t think so).

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Protein was required in the making of this photo

 

More about my relationship with protein:

While grabbing the first bar I see on the shelf, taking advantages of sales, and having the freedom to eat whatever I want has been easy –  I now feel the pull towards something more. I’m craving a more nourishing relationship. Additionally, I started seeing an awesome registered dietitian/sport nutritionist who really opened my eyes to the importance of protein. I didn’t realize I should be eating around 15g after workouts, and incorporating protein into my snacks (I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “DUH DEVAN”). I’ve always aimed to eat “healthy,” but I really didn’t have any nutritional knowledge so I’m excited to be adding this into my training.

 

“I’m craving a more nourishing relationship.”

– Devan, the Bar Bachelorette

 

This blog series will be *loosely* based on the popular TV series “the Bachelor/Bachelorette” [which of course I only ever watch ironically, don’t get too invested in, and would never bring up at work with my CEO and have a heated debate with him over lunch!!]

What I’m looking for:

In my search for love protein, I have some qualities that the winning contestant must exemplify. I’m looking for a partner with substance (protein content), that’s sweet (but not too sweet), brings some variety to the table (flavour options) and last but not least, isn’t going to break my bank account. Ultimately, I know that to find a partner I need to be willing to overlook some criteria and accept different ways to meet my needs and I am looking forward to exploring my options.

Meet the Contestants:

The “Clif Conglomerate”: Clif, Builder, Luna

Clif brings a lot to the table. The original chocolate chip flavour stole my protein bar virginity and will always hold a special place in my heart. Builder bar packs a punch at 20g of protein, and Luna offers a lower calorie options. This should be a contestant to watch for sure. If this were the real Bachelorette, when Clif got out of the limo their practiced pick up line actually made me laugh and they looked good doing it.


 

PowerBar

Another well known name, PowerBar is no stranger to protein. But do they have the je ne sais quoi I am looking for? PowerBar comes across well on night one, doesn’t get too drunk, or say anything embarrassing, and even provides comfort to an insecure younger brand. Well played PowerBar.


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KIND

Attractive and tasty – but do they have the substance (protein content) that I need in a lasting relationship? KIND has caught my eye and I’m curious to learn more.


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Quest 

Quest is good quality and is accustomed to the high life. I don’t know if we’re at the same economic stage in our lives (They are $$$). Quest is like a strong minded independent business person who doesn’t care that some people may consider the taste “chalky” because they’re already successful AF.


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Simply Protein 

Introduced to me by my nutritionist, Simply has a solid reputation to live up to.  Will a mutual connection spark a lasting relationship? They have a maple pecan flavour so hello, I am obviously all over that.


 

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Vega

I am a little skeptical/frightened by vegan products. But this journey is going to push me out of my comfort zone. Maybe Vega is the token “crazy contestant” – could be our Chad, since he really loved eating raw yams.


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SoLo

Wow, this bar tastes great and they sponsor a ton of awesome athletes! I am intrigued to learn more about the Gi benefits too – I think we might have a first impression winner on our hands here.


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Atkins 

These bad boys are often on sale for an excellent price at Safeway and they meet my post workout protein count at 17g. TBH they’re not too exciting looking… but beauty (and protein) does come from the inside.


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Ah, my college fling. I was really into these for awhile. They’ve made it into the contest because of the past – but will that be enough to give us a future?


 

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Larabar

So many flavours is dazzling, exciting, and a little distracting. I’ll have to see if they have the substance to go the distance….


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ONE 

Ah, there’s always a contestant that seems a bit out of the Bachelor/Bachelorette’s league and this would be the ONE. I sampled the Birthday Cake flavour when I was on a training trip in the US and haven’t been able to stop thinking about them… but are they just a fling? Would they be willing to move to Canada? [That didn’t work out very well for Nick & Vanessa ]


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Costco/Kirkland 

OK this one seems a bit… boring. But on paper it’s checking all the boxes. Enough protein, low sugar but still tastes good, inexpensive. I don’t know if I feel a spark… but not all relationships are love at first sight.


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Picky

Another American option, these bars are beloved by my training partner Tamara and are GOOD. Plus, the founders are awesome athletes. These bars have the backstory to grab attention, and I think they could be around for the long haul.


Coming up next:

Stay tuned to find out who will get the first bite (aka the first impression rose) in Episode 1, and who will not be getting chomped and sent back to the grocery store. If you have any last minute contestant submissions shoot me a message/comment and I’ll get them in the running!

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New Zealand, Same Me

When my mom asked me in the summer if I wanted to attend our friend’s wedding in New Zealand and road trip around the South Island for a week before dropping my sister Emma in Dunedin for her exchange term, I told her that of course I wanted to, but I couldn’t. My work had already been so accommodating of my athletic schedule, allowing me to leave the office early for practice, work from home, and take time off for meets at a moment’s notice – it really didn’t seem fair to ask for more.

Then I left my job [read more about that here].

When my mom reiterated the offer to tag along in December, I started thinking seriously about it. But I had a new reason to hold back. I left my job to focus on running. Could I really justify a 10-day “vacation” with a 21-hour time difference and two 18-hour travel days? Well according to my new coach Lynn, yes, I could!

Best decision ever.


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Out tramping! [Kiwi speak for hiking]

Not only have I dodged the Vancouver rain and snuck in some warm weather training, I was also able to attend Jenna and Nathan’s beautiful wedding and travel the South Island with my family. I’ve heard that “life is what happens when you’re making plans” and while anyone who has met me knows I love making plans, I also love jumping at awesome opportunities and experiencing what happens when you’re flexible while chasing your goals.


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Totally candid

Part of the reason this trip was so special to my family is that Emma’s exchange marks the longest time the three of us have been apart, and my mom did an exchange in NZ when she was the same age. I also wanted to do a semester abroad in NZ during my undergrad, but ended up choosing co-op and running instead. I’ve never regretted that choice, but my desire to visit the land of the Kiwi hadn’t faded, and this trip has only made me want to go back again.

I can now say that I know my way around Hagley Park, have worked out in a vineyard, and accidentally found myself running on some of the most scenic mountain bike trails in the world. I can also tell you that Kiwis live up to their chill stereotype, venison tastes “gamy” and LOTR was filmed here for a reason. Also sheep are cuter than I ever realized, and flat whites rock. There’s some heated debate about how my family feels about “Weet-bix” but I won’t get into “Wheat-gate” right now.


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Post workout in the POURING Rain. Shoutouts to Mama J + Emma for joining me!

In a lot of ways, this trip exemplified what the Brooks slogan “Run Happy” means to me. It doesn’t mean you’re grinning the entire time, feeling amazing and loving every step of the run (although that sounds pretty great). It means your exploring with every stride. Exploring how fast, how far, and how hard you can push yourself. Exploring a new city, a favourite training route, and new friendships/training groups. For me, the mindset of exploring is running happy – and it’s even better when you’re with your friends/family!

That said, as I did my last run in the pouring rain at Hagley Park I reached my limit for running/training by myself – good timing as I’m on the flight home as I write this post! I miss my group, and I miss my home. I love traveling, but I also love how when I reflect on what I’ve seen and experienced, my home still holds the same place in my heart – where I want to be right now.

Highlights/unforgettable moments:

New Zeleand is a phenomenal place. It’s natural beauty rivals BC’s claim to “the most beautiful place on earth” and everywhere we went I felt so welcomed. To generalize: the people here are chill, kind, and fit (we only made the mistake of taking an hour off the approximated hiking trail time once). Being surrounded by the incredible mountains made me feel very humbled by the power of nature. Emma pointed out so many cool geographical features in the different landscapes (#NerdAlert), and even the view out a car window truly leaves you in awe. Seeing the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes was also a powerful reminder of the power of nature, and the power of a community when it pulls together.

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Downtown Christchurch, where street art eases emptiness 


Jenna & Nathan’s Wedding. “Auntie Teri” (Mother of the bride) has been close friends with my Mom for almost 40 years and is like a sister to her. Her children Joel and Jenna each lived with us at separate times in Vancouver for a few months in their early 20s. It was an honour to attend Jenna’s special day as her “Canadian Family,”and it was even more of a privilege to meet their growing families!

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I don’t know which was more beautiful: the bride, or the open bar of NZ wines 


Milford Sound. W-O-W. My mom thought this was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and she shouldn’t have been wrong. The mountains rise from the ocean and it’s breathtaking to view from the water –  even more so from the sky. We flew out of the sound back to Te Aneu [where we were staying] and the incredible views were worth the motion sickness.

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What’s that sound? MILFORD


Food/Drinks. Ah the Flat White – Sauvignon Blanc’s only competition for the drink of the trip. Food here is crazy expensive. The standard option on any brunch menu is “toast and a spread” (legit just PB/jam on toast) for $10!!! I did eat the best salad of my life here… if you can call it a salad… it was chorizo, calamari, and roasted potatoes – but it came on lettuce so it still counts.

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Elevenses


Driving in NZ. Aside from a few minutes in a residential area when Emma took the wheel, mom was our MVP and drove the entire trip. There were some supremely sketchy moments driving down two way streets that looked like back road bike lanes, leaving the car unlocked and running while we desperately wandered around looking for a brunch spot, and turning the windshield wipers on when she tried to signal…. But we made it out alive!

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I especially enjoyed when the road signs just said “!”


Mt Isthmus Peak. Hiking is hard! I don’t feel bad that I didn’t get to the gym on this day – 16km feels FAR when you’re walking (and for the record, is further than I would run on a single day). I gained new appreciation for the fellowship’s quest (#LOTR) as we wound around an endless mountain, stepped over heaps of cow shit, and battled winds that grew in strength the higher we climbed. Thank god for protein bars and packable snacks!

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“What a nice place for a hike with your sister” – Mom 


The “Cottages.” For the most part we stayed in the cutest Airbnbs you ever did see. But one dark night…. We stayed in the middle of nowhere with no wifi/cell reception. Maybe it’s because I binge watched True Detective on the plane… but it was TERRIFYING. There were three tiny cottages/bedrooms that locked from the OUTSIDE, and it honestly felt like you were at the home of a serial murderer who attracts prey by luring tourists in desperate need of accommodation under the guise of “Charlotte the friendly Airbnb host.” As Emma would say: “no bueno.”

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Not pictured: the “Kids” room (bunk beds that locked from the outside)


Kia Ora Dunedin! Mom and I head back to Vancouver, ditching Emma at the domestic section of the Auckland airport. I am so excited to hear about the adventures she’ll have over the next five months. If she can love camping in the jungle in Belize for six weeks, I think she can handle whatever comes her way. xoxo

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“Do you think I brought too much!!??” – Emma