Plexus vs. Shakeology: Is the Pink Drink a better deal?

Disclaimer:Β I am an independent Team Beachbody Coach and therefore have a bias. Read on at your own risk. πŸ™‚

A couple of months ago, I was talking with a young woman who was unhappy with her weight loss journey and extolling the virtues of Shakeology and 21 Day Fix. I believe these products work, I’m an example of how well they work, otherwise, I wouldn’t be out there going “Hey! Look at these pictures of me in my underwear! See that cellulite in the October picture? Totally gone in the November picture!”

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For true, though.

Anywho. She brought up that she’d been using Plexus and wasn’t pleased with her results. I’d vaguely heard of the brand before but I’d never done any research into what it was, so I didn’t really have a good response as to why it wasn’t working for her. After a little digging, this is what I uncovered:

Plexus Slim (a.k.a. The Pink Drink) is something you put into your water 30 minutes prior to a meal and it acts as an appetite suppressant. It claims to help maintain healthy blood pressure and sugar, as well as healthy cholesterol levels. And it claims to give you more willpower over your food choices! Okay…except for long term use of appetite suppressants has been shown to increase the likelihood of hypertension. And how exactly is a powder supposed to change your psychology? But whatevs. I’ll move on.

The label, for the most part, boasts fairly natural ingredients, except for they don’t specify where the “natural flavors” come from, they don’t let us know where the polydextrose is coming from (this is an additive used to increase the non-dietary fiber content in food, replace sugar, and reduce calories), and we don’t know if the silicon dioxide is produced synthetically or by crushing/milling it from natural sources.

Plexus info on the left, Shakeology info on the right.

If you read the FAQ, Plexus Slim continues with the claim that it targets fat cells and even goes so far as to assure the consumer that it goes after “adipose fat” and not the fat in breast tissue. O__O For realsies? I can lose weight and not go from a nearly B cup to a AA? How is that possible? Either you’re making stuff up or you have some miracle workers that should be making a crap ton more money.

In their defense, they also point out that you cannot continue to gorge yourself at an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet, take Plexus Slim, and expect to see massive weight loss, so that’s good. At least they’re being honest there. However, you’ll lose weight (but not in your boobs) and you can do it for $84.95 a month! Awesome.

I was listening to all of this from this lovely lady and being asked to justify Shakeology’s cost to her. Alright.

Here’s the thing: Shakeology is not an appetite suppressant. It’s also not necessarily a meal replacement shake (not on its own, anyway). If we’re speaking in terms of caloric needs, you have to mix other things in with the powder in order for the calorie levels to get high enough for it to serve as a meal replacement. It is not a diet drink. It’s meant to serve as a boost of protein, vitamins, and minerals because a lot of people don’t get what they need from the foods they eat. It will not target your fat cells over your muscle cells. It will not magically leave your boob fat alone (I just…really?). What it will do is make you feel a million times better. You will have more energy. You will see reduced sugar cravings. You will become more regular because of the probiotics. Your hair and nails will become healthier (hooray biotin!). And, you can pair it with a workout and nutrition program that has already accounted for it to make a genuine lifestyle change.

What it comes down to is your priorities. If you’re looking for a quick fix, by all means, spend the $84 on the Pink Drink, dump it in your water, and hope for results. If you’re looking to make a legitimate lifestyle change in which you are more active, you eat better, and you feel better, Shakeology and Beachbody programs are where you’ll want to invest your time and money. Yes, $125 a month is expensive (although…only $40 more a month than Plexus. And Shakeology is approved for long-term use. Just sayin’.). However, for me, the $4 a day that I spend on Shakeology is well worth the changes I’ve seen in my health, both mental and physical. I haven’t had my yearly knock-down cold that usually hits around September. I have more energy. My mood is improved. My gut is happy. I firmly believe that all of this has been achieved through drinking my shakes daily and being consistent in making better decisions with exercise and nutrition. And trust me, if someone who loves wine and cheese as much as I do can do it, you can, too.

The choice is yours.

 

My Fitness Journey (The Road So Far)

Carry on my wayward son…

What? Wrong show? Darn, I thought Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki might show up…

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve had a rough road when it comes to fitness over the past few years. When Mom died, so did all of my energy and desire to exercise. I did it because I knew it would keep me healthy, but I did it half-heartedly. It was really only when I saw my engagement pictures that I decided to do something. I just did not love how I looked and I knew it was because of how I was taking care of myself.

Even though our engagement photos turned out beautifully, I was not happy with the way I looked in them.
Even though our engagement photos turned out beautifully, I was not happy with the way I looked in them.

I needed something new, so off to aerial silks I went! I loved the feeling of flying that I got and the confidence it gave me to take on new things. Add in the fact that I got to spend so much of my time around strong, amazing women and I started to realize that I was capable of so much more than what I was doing.

Feeling pretty fly (seewhatIdidthere?)
Feeling pretty fly (seewhatIdidthere?)

After having yet another mammogram, I decided to take my health way more seriously. I started lifting weights, eating clean, and started drinking Shakeology which has a ton of vitamins and minerals that I wasn’t getting in my other meals. I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this good in a really long time. Probably since high school. Even when I was working out a ton and weighed way less than I do now, I had such low energy and headaches all the time…I was pretty miserable. I’m really grateful that I found my way to Turners and to Beachbody because I’m in such a better place than I was even six months ago. I’ve become even more confident, so much so that I’m willing to talk about my depression, my therapy, and my medication.

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Over the past couple of weeks, however, I’ve started to slip. October was a really busy month around Turners, and because I’m a person who enjoys having responsibilities and being a part of things, I didn’t have a day off for about two weeks. So when the opportunity arose, I went for it. And went for it. And went for it. I took several days off from circus and several days off from working out. My eating, while still technically clean, was not the best (gruyere and cheddar mac and cheese, anyone?). And I felt the effects. This past week has been miserable for me. I’ve been in a lousy mood, I actually wound up having an anxiety attack, and I feel bad physically. I’m achy, my joints hurt…all from not taking care of myself. Part of the mental issue is because this time of year is really hard for me with Mom being gone. It’s really hard to not have your mom around when it’s your birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas…especially when she was such a massive part of what made those events special. So, couple that with not taking care of myself, and it was a perfect storm for me to come apart at the seams a little.

But I know how to sew myself back up. I know that if I start getting back to being consistent, I’ll feel a million times better. It’s not enough for me to drink my Shakeology and expect to feel like a million dollars. I’ve got to put in the work. So, I’ve decided to set a Movember Challenge l for myself. In November, I’m going to work out for 30 minutes a day, every day. I’m going to weigh myself and take measurements tomorrow and I’m not going to do it again until the end of November. I need to get back on track with taking care of myself so I can be a better wife, sister, and friend. I need to take care of myself before I can take care of anyone else.

Do you want to join in on the Movember Challenge? Find me on Facebook and I’ll add you to my group! Let’s go in to the holidays feeling awesome and let’s do it together. πŸ˜€

A Weenie’s Review of Body Beast

Disclaimer: I am an independent Team Beachbody Coach and therefore have a bias. However, I did Body Beast before coming a coach, so there’s that.

So because I believe going whole hog on just about everything, my first foray into all things Beachbody was in June. I had invited my little brother to dinner and when he got there, I couldn’t believe what I saw! My thin little brother had these totally toned, bulked up arms! What the heck?! I asked him what he’d been doing.

“There’s this thing called Body Beast.”

I wanted in. I had plateaued at silks and thought that by doing some weight lifting at home, I could work through the plateau. Darling little brother brought me the DVDs, the meal plan book, and three sets of weights. He’s pretty freaking awesome.

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The Workout

Body Beast works in 3 phases: Build, Bulk, Beast. The trainer who created it, Sagi Kalev, wanted to create a program that would allow for regular folks like you and me to build muscle like the people who compete in body building competitions. There are two different ways to work through the program, either to lean out and lose weight or to bulk up and build a ton of muscle. I chose the lean out schedule and got started.

My initial thoughts: Sagi is the broiest bro who ever broed. He is hysterical to listen to and greatly encouraging even as he’s kicking your butt. There was only one “girly” comment made throughout the videos, which I appreciated, because, hellooooooooo. Woman doing your program, dude. English is clearly his second language so he kept messing up idioms which would make me laugh in the middle of my workout and forget about how much my muscles were screaming. The workouts broke down like this:

Build Chest/Tris- I worried about feeling like I would die during this workout but it was very manageable. It was also really funny because one of his demo people is named Sean and I don’t know what Sean did to Sagi, but Sagi is not very nice to him. Like at all. It made for some major giggles while working out.

Build Legs- I did not worry about feeling like I would die during this workout…but I should have. Holy bejeezus, leg day. I never understood why people avoided it until now.

Build Back/Bis- This was pretty manageable as well. You use a pull up bar for this bad boy which was awkward for me because my pull up bar is in a completely different area of my house so I had to turn the tv up way loud and run to my bar when it came time to do pull ups.

Build Shoulders- This made me realize that my shoulders are really weak and I need to continue to work on those bad boys.

Bulk Chest- I thought Bulk would be way more difficult than Build but it actually felt quite a bit easier while I was doing it. I was definitely more sore the next day but I’ll take it.

Bulk Legs- I just…leg death. Quadzilla.

Bulk Arms- Biceps, triceps, oh my! The progressive sets here made my arms screeeeeeeeeeeam.

Bulk Back- Aerialists are really reliant on their back muscles, so I felt I really needed this workout. And I loved it.

Bulk Shoulder- Dude, why are my shoulders so weak?! That’s what I kept yelling at the TV. Sagi never answered me. Jerk.

Beast Cardio- Okay, so both leg days were really difficult for me, but cardio totally killed. It was all body weight exercises and I had no idea I could get my heart pumping just using my body weight.

Beast Abs- Only 10 minutes but totally worth it!

The Nutrition

So the meal plan here is significantly different than some of Beachbody’s other workouts. Since the idea is to be able to build muscle, your caloric intake is significantly higher than a program where the only desire is to lose weight. Obviously protein is a huge component here but the book also comes with other food lists to help you on your journey.

My Results

So I made it through the Build and Bulk phases before school got back in session but with the workouts all being anywhere from 36 to 56 minutes long, I just didn’t have the time to continue into the Beast phase. I will say I felt quite a bit stronger and started seeing quite a bit of tone in my arms and legs before I had to start. I stayed the same weight, 164, throughout the entire program but I wasn’t as diligent about following the meal plan as I was for 21 Day Fix.

June 2015: before I started Body Beast August 2015: After Body Beast September 2015: After 21 Day Fix
June 2015: before I started Body Beast
August 2015: After Body Beast
September 2015: After 21 Day Fix

I was pleased with the results I saw, but I will warn that this workout does require a level of time commitment that most of the other Beachbody workouts don’t. However, if you’re looking to build a lot of muscle and lean out, this is definitely the program for you.

Lucky for you, the Challenge Pack is on sale this month! For $140, you receive The Body Beast workouts and nutrition plan, and a month’s supply of Shakeology, the healthiest meal of the day!

Put Yourself First

Welcome back, sports fans! Sorry it’s been a while…life got kind of crazy the past few weeks. Things at circus started becoming…well, circus-y. We have a show coming up next week, we had auditions, intensives, all kinds of fun and crazy. Then, I went to Kansas City to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and beautiful nephew. You guys, it’s not fair that this kid is so cute. Like, at all. And, I had surgery! I was born tongue-tied and now I am free!

Throughout all of this, a tiny voice in the back of my head was saying “You haven’t updated the blog, you haven’t updated the blog, you haven’t updated the blog.” I finally had to tell myself that I was taking a break just to get that little voice to shut up so I could enjoy my time with my family and friends. Seriously, I was worrying about a blog while I was wandering around Kansas City with the cutest baby on the face of the planet!

Why is it so hard to let go and take care of ourselves?

Earlier this year, during a particularly emotional session, my therapist sat, calmly listening to me relay my frustrations that it felt like I couldn’t get what I wanted out of a situation because the people involved were only thinking of themselves and what was I going to do, there was nothing I could do, oh my gosh, why me.

“Lauren. There absolutely is something you can do, you just don’t want to do it.”

What? Tell me, oh wise one.

“These people are just really good at putting themselves first. You have to learn how to do that.”

Putting myself first sounds so selfish. Thinking that my needs should be the most important ones in my life makes me feel like I’m the most self-centered person on the planet, but then sitting around and complaining about how my needs weren’t being met didn’t make much sense. I was raised to put others first. My mother was a teacher and her compassion for others was a huge part of what made her so fantastic at her job. And I deeply care for the people around me; a frequent phrase I tell my friends in the same situation is “put the mask on yourself first,” but I can’t seem to take that advice myself. Do you have to completely sacrifice your own needs in order to care for others?

I’ve slowly started working on this thought process. I started with my health. Basic maintenance seemed like the easiest way for me to start putting myself first. It couldn’t possibly hurt anyone else if I started thinking more about what I ate and working out consistently.

The boost in confidence I’ve felt has helped me start taking other steps to putting myself first. I’m learning how to say “no.” Not just to insane requests by my kids (“Can we skip class and go to Wendy’s if we bring you something back?”…okay, that wasn’t so insane. Wendy’s chicken nuggets are delicious. But I’m watching my nutrition, kids, get it together) but to allowing myself to be stretched too thin. It used to be that whenever someone asked me to do something for them I’d say “Yes” without thinking about it. Instead, now, I’m thinking about the amount of time and energy things are going to require of me. I want to have enough time and energy to be a good wife, sister, daughter, friend…I can’t do that if I say yes to everything.

As with anything, this is a work in progress. Sometimes the amount of justification I have to do in my own head to work past my guilt is more work than just actually taking on a task. But I’m slowly realizing that by putting myself first I’m actually better able to take care of the people around me. When I’m healthy and happy, I have the energy to help others and I can’t achieve that state unless I’m thinking about my needs.

What do you do to take care of yourself? Is this something you need to work on?

Why I Became (and have stayed) a Beachbody Coach

TL;DR: Became a coach because I’m tired of feeling like I’ve got a big ol’ breast cancer target on my back; stayed a coach because it’s awesome

I just really love dinosaurs...
I just really love dinosaurs…

Let us take a journey back to spring of 2014. I was finishing up my first year at a new school. I had recently started taking classes at Turners Circus, learning how to hang from fabric 20 feet in the air (although to be honest, at the time, I was maybe 2 feet in the air). I was belly dancing like a mad woman. I was planning on starting my yoga teacher training in the fall. And then, about a month before my scheduled annual, I found a small lump in my breast. Nothing massive, but definitely something…off.

I made every excuse in the book for myself. I get Ganglion cysts all over the place (I currently have one in my jaw and one in my wrist). It was a knot from where I had been working new muscles. But that panic started to creep up on me. My mom. Two of my aunts. Jesus, was this going to happen to me, too?

3 mammograms, an ultrasound, and an MRI later, I was given the all clear. I had a few small cysts the doctors were going to monitor and I was officially started on my regimen of yearly mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs due to the strong family history.

Fast forward to the same time, this year. I just had my yearly ultrasound but they forgot to schedule me for a mammogram (and as I write this, it occurs to me that I have not been scheduled for my yearly MRI). As I sat and explained to yet another scheduler my family history, my calculated lifetime risk of breast cancer, and yes, I’m aware that I’m 28 but here’s the letter from both a radiologist and my doctor that want me to get screened yearly, just freaking do it already, I thought to myself “Is this really my life? Is this really how it’s going to be?” I felt that big pink target burning itself into my back. A friend’s comment kept ringing in my ears. “It’s really not a question of if you’ll be diagnosed but when.”

I felt completely helpless and out of control. Neither of which sit well with me.

Enter Beachbody

My dear teacher friend Whitney had been doing the 21 Day Fix since about January and was seeing amazing results. Not only was she looking better, but she seemed happier, more in control. She would frequently talk about how working with that particular regimen had helped her to take a step back and bring a focus on her health as a vehicle to be a better mom, wife, teacher, friend, etc. She didn’t become a Beachbody coach until later in the spring (March? April? I don’t remember) and was so happy to be helping people on their journey towards becoming their most awesome selves.

I could feel myself beginning to spiral down my usual path when I was feeling sorry for myself–eat all the pasta, drink all the wine, moan and groan about how life wasn’t fair and I’m essentially being billed for faulty genetics, blah, blah…and I was so tired of that routine. I needed some control back in my life. I had just been diagnosed with depression in February and had started taking medication in May. I had that extremely frustrating and demoralizing experience with the doctor’s office. I was so tired of feeling like my body was the thing in control, not me.

I started doing Body Beast in June. It’s an intense weight lifting program with a hilarious trainer named Sagi. He’s Israeli and English is clearly not his first language. In between feeling like I was going to die and laughing at the stuff he said, I started to feel normal again. And I continued to talk to Whitney over the summer about her experiences with The 21 Day Fix and coaching. I knew eventually that I would have to start focusing on my nutrition if I wanted to feel a positive change and feel like I was taking control of my health again.

I bought PiYo in July. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I found Chalene Johnson’s way of training refreshing and fun. The workouts brought a balance to my Body Beast/circus training schedule, allowing for low-impact exercise. It also brought me back to my yoga mat. I had had a sour experience at my old yoga studio and I let it drive me away. I started feeling strong enough to push past those negative feelings as well as to begin focusing on what I was putting in my body.

Then, in August, came The 21 Day Fix. I was nervous. Would I start fixating too much on food? Would I fall into disordered eating habits? Would I blow it off? I decided, after much deliberation, to go whole hog and become a Beachbody coach. I thought it would help keep me accountable and I’ve collected quite a bit of health knowledge over the years, so I could easily use that to help people. Plus, I got a discount on products, including Shakeology. Why the hell not?

Thank goodness for Whitney and the amazing team that I’ve found. As I’ve gone through training, I’ve realized that as much or more than selling products, this company really cares about helping people. One of the expectations that Beachbody has of its coaches is that we do personal development (i.e., read self-help books, listen to motivational speakers, etc) because how can we help other people if we’re not at our personal best? An interesting activity they had us do in training was to create five buckets where we plan on focusing our time. The only stipulations were that the number 1 bucket had to be you and that Beachbody could be no higher than 4.This activity has really helped me to decide where I’m focusing my energy and has actually been a great stress reducer.

I’ve told the hubs several times since starting that even if I don’t make any money off of this venture, I’ve learned and changed my way of thinking so much that I don’t really care. I’ve gone from thinking things like “Well, that’ll never happen for me,” to “Why not me?” I’m learning to focus my mind on the things that are important to me. I’ve also stopped thinking of my story as something to not talk about. I’ve been through a lot. My family has been through a lot. It’s a part of who I am and why I do the things I do. If someone out there is struggling in ways that are similar to me, shouldn’t I let them know they aren’t alone?

So there you have it. I became a coach because I wanted to feel more in control over my health. I have stayed a coach because I’m a better person because of it and I want to help others who are struggling.

Has anything changed your way of thinking like this? If you’re interested in hearing more about the coaching opportunity, please feel free to contact me with your questions. I’d be happy to help you get started on what has truly been a fantastic journey.

Quick and Dirty Chicken Curry

The hubs used to be the only cook in our household. Note the “used to be.” As I watched and learned what flavor profiles went together, I thought to myself (like I usually do) “I can do this.” Granted, my knife skills were crap and the hubs was pretty convinced that he was going to have to sew my fingers back on, but I plunged ahead…not with a knife in my hand because that would be dangerous.

I like one pot meals. We don’t have a dishwasher and so the fewer dishes the better. Enter Thai red chicken curry. It’s got the sweetness of coconut milk, the spice of delicious, delicious curry paste, and the brightness of cilantro and lime. Nom nom nom. First things first, some tools to make your life easier:

These are in every knife block and are not just for opening packages!
These are in every knife block and are not just for opening packages!

Poultry/kitchen shears are a cook’s best friend. When it doesn’t really matter that the chicken cuts are uniform in size, I go for these bad boys and snip away. It saves me time and I don’t have to fight with a knife.

So! After I cut up some chickens and got them going in a pan with some sesame oil, I got to work on the veggies.

 

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All delicious recipes begin with cut up onions, in my opinion. It’s gotten to the point that I get weirded out when I’m cooking and don’t cut up an onion. Who does that?

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This is the one recipe I have that I don’t usually follow up the onion with garlic. The flavors are so strong in this recipe that I don’t know that garlic is absolutely necessary. Anywho. I take the chicken off the heat and place it into a bowl so it doesn’t get overcooked. Deglaze the pan with a little white wine to get the bottom bits of delicious flavor up in yo’ vegetables. Cut up a potato and green pepper. I put the potato in the pan I used to cook the chicken and get that going first because you want the potatoes to have time to cook. After that comes the green pepper. Nom nom nom.

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Veggies for days! Dice yourself up a zucchini and yellow squash and toss those bad boys in! Keep everything moving, sauteeing until the vegetables are tender.

Now, I love mushrooms. I don’t really think about putting the “correct” mushrooms in. The hubs and I once had an epic fight over the type of mushroom that should be used in this dish (and stir fries). It’s no skin off my nose if you use white button, portabello, shiitake…don’t know, don’t care. If you’re a kitchen purest, sorry ’boutcha.

Mmmmm, yummy.
Mmmmm, yummy.

Add in a can of coconut milk and reduce the heat. Now comes the best part.

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Get your happy butt to the nearest Asian grocery and get a big ol’ container of red curry paste. Why the Asian market? Because their curry pastes are hotter than the ones sold in traditional grocery stores and it’s cheaper. This big tub cost me about $8 when a teeeeeeeeny tiny jar at my local grocery cost me $4. Nope.

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Here’s where things get a little “chef’s choice.” I add in a few dashes of fish sauce, but that is definitely to your taste. It can get overpowering really quickly, so be careful. Next, a little soy, and then finally, a handful of cilantro, and a squirt of lime juice.

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Voila! I serve this over rice, but it could easily be served over asian noodles or eaten on its own if you’re doing the low-carb thing. I recommend it with a nice riesling, since the sweet will help offset the spice. I will warn you that there is a potential to get really drunk, really quickly when eating this bad boy because spicy.

Enjoy!

Thai Red Coconut Curry

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped (optional…this dish works well as a vegetarian/vegan meal)

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow crookneck squach, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 or 2 potatoes, diced

1 package of mushrooms, chopped

1 green pepper, diced

Half a bunch of cilantro, chopped

Lime juice

Fish sauce (available at any Asian market)

Soy sauce

Red curry paste

1 can of coconut milk

Sesame oil

Salt and pepper

White wine (Riesling)

  1. Heat skillet with sesame oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add salted and peppered chopped chicken thighs. Cook through, then set aside.
  2. Β Deglaze pan with small amount of white wine (have a drink while you’re cooking!). Add in red onion, cook until tender and translucent. Add in potatoes and cook until beginning to yield to a fork. Add in green peppers and begin cooking until tender. Add in zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms. Continue cooking untilΒ  tender.
  3. Add in can of coconut milk, stirring to make sure the vegetables are slightly covered.
  4. Add red curry paste. I start with a tablespoon and begin to increase to make it spicier. Stir until it’s well incorporated.
  5. Β Add a dash of fish sauce, soy sauce, and the lime juice. Add in cilantro. Stir.
  6. Remove from heat. Serve over rice, Asian noodles, or on its own.
  7. Drink lots of wine while you’re eating! Nom nom nom!

Peanut butter and jelly, Pilates and Yoga

Disclaimer: I am an independent Team Beachbody Coach and therefore have a bias towards their products. However, I strive to keep my reviews as objective as possible, promise. πŸ™‚

why-piyo-works

So, before Beachbody, before I became a coach, before I started drinking Shakeology, I was really into yoga. I still am, but my practice is not nearly as consistent as I would like it. Initially, yoga served as a cross-training for belly dance, allowing me to regain some of the flexibility I had lost by running so much. Then, it became what it is supposed to be: a practice in bringing the mind and body together as a harmonious entity. It really frustrated me when I would do a workout program that “included yoga” because it wasn’t really yoga, it was yoga for push ups. Thanks, but no thanks.

I had also done Pilates as a separate entity. I was never super into it because it didn’t make me sweat and I was a bit of a sweat junkie. I also don’t think I was doing it right because nowadays, Pilates makes me sore and back then, nopers.

Enter PiYo

I started off the summer with Body Beast and then transitioned to PiYo as a way to recover in the evenings. I liked the idea of having a low impact, body weight exercise regiment to follow. It was also my first purchase through my coach and I was really excited to support her as much as possible.

The first thing I noticed was Chalene Johnson’s personality. She is so bubbly and supportive that I wanted to climb through the tv set and hug her. It wasn’t Richard Simmons level of perk, but it was enough to keep me engaged the entire time.

The Workouts

Align: The Fundamentals This workout goes through all of the movements and poses that Chalene includes as you move throughout the program. It’s pretty slow paced and she discusses what you should be feeling in each pose. I liked this because if I weren’t an experienced yogi, I would have no idea how to do the poses correctly and potentially wind up hurting myself.

Define: Lower Body This workout is only about 20 minutes long, but you feel it. She incorporates lunges through the Warrior pose series as well as different ways to stretch out your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. The only complaint I had with this was that there was one series that did not fully balance out the body. I don’t know that other people would catch it, but I did. The next time I did the workout, I just paused the video so I could finish out the balancing.

Define: Upper Body So, I’ll admit, I totally thought I would breeze through this one because I had just done Body Beast and I was doing silks. Nope. Lots of chatarangas, lots of tricep pushups…I was whining by the end of it. This bad boy is about 35 minutes long, but I wasn’t counting down the seconds, so it’s got that going for it.

Sweat I remember my coach telling me that she sweated up a storm during this one but I was all “Nah, I won’t do that. I’m not a sweaty person.” Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. This sucker was pretty difficult. It’s a little more yoga focused than the others and it will leave you sweaty by the end. Promise.

Drench I just…you’ll be soaked by the end. This is the longest of the workouts at 45 minutes, so save it for a Saturday. There’s a slow-ish warm up and then some things to get your heart pumping, and by the end you’re just kind of gross and sweaty. But happy! Right? Because endorphins make you happy?

Core I really appreciate that Chalene took the time to think out a core workout that actually gets your entire core. This gets at both your abdominals and your back muscles. A lot of the time, people forget that your back is a part of your core.

Strength Intervals Who said you needed weights to get strong? This workout will remind you that all you need to get in shape is a little bit of space and you. All body weight exercises, all the time. Boom.

Sculpt This one focuses more on building your endurance, so you’re holding poses longer in some and then moving a little quicker through others. This will help those folks who are struggling to make it through a 30 minute workout.

Buns This is a bonus workout that you get if you order through a Beachbody Coach (like yours truly). This will definitely help get you that nice yoga butt that people love so very, very much. πŸ™‚

The Nutrition

PiYo comes with a nutrition plan that is less structured than say the 21 Day Fix. You get food lists of things that are recommended that you eat, but no containers, a little less direction on portion sizing…this part of the program is really meant for people who have a decent handle on things like that. But, if you don’t, never fear. Your Beachbody Coach can help you with that.

PiYo Challenge Pack

The challenge pack is on sale this month! For $140, you get the PiYo DVDs and nutrition guide along with a month’s supply of Shakeology. Yep, you’re essentially getting PiYo for $15, how great of a deal is that? If you’re interested in that, fill in the form below and I’ll answer any questions you have and get you the hook up!

Who Do I Recommend PiYo For

I really recommend this program for just about everyone. It’s a good, low-impact program that is easy on the joints, so if you have injuries or arthritis, you’ll be fine with it. It’s also a good cross-training regiment for aerialists, dancers, runners…anyone who is looking to increase their flexibility and strength at the same time. If you’re looking for something a little more structured in the nutrition department, I’d consider adding in the 21 Day Fix containers to help with portion sizing.

PiYo Promo Video

If you’re interested in the PiYo Challenge Pack, fill in the form below and I’ll get to you as quickly as possible!

Sunday Supper: Skirt Steak Tacos

The hubs works nights during the week so that means that I’m in charge of dinner. But on weekends, he gets to play. Sometimes he’ll let me pick the recipes and sometimes he just goes to town. This particular recipe is a play on steak fajitas; although I can rock out some sauteed veggies, I drive the struggle-bus when it comes to searing steak. The last time I tried it, the steak was definitely super rubbery because I didn’t get the pan hot enough. In steps super hubs.

Pretty pretty vegetables!
Pretty pretty vegetables!

So when the hubs and I first got together he was just appalled at my knife skills…or lack thereof. He was pretty convinced that I was going to saw my thumb off at some point, so he showed me how to rock out in the kitchen. For the vegetable portion of this, I cut up two red onions, two green peppers, three or four jalapenos, and four or five small mushrooms. I like to beef up the amount of vegetables whenever possible so that I can get in all the green containers I need for the day. πŸ˜€

Woohoo, camera phone pictures.
Woohoo, camera phone pictures.

While I was cutting up the vegetables, I had the steak marinating in olive oil and taco seasoning. You can use any seasoning of your choice; I’ll admit that I use the Old El Paso Hot and Spicy seasoning because oh my goodness it’s delicious. Yes, I know it’s not necessarily clean eating. I regret nothing.

Skirt steak has more connective tissue in it than some other cuts, so I try to marinate it for at least half an hour. I would do the same with a flank steak.

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After the steak has been marinating for at least half an hour, the hubs heats up our griddle pan to high heat. You want to see the oil smoke gently before you put anything down so you can get a nice sear on it.

Om nom nom.
Om nom nom.

Fair warning, searing a steak that has been marinating in taco seasoning will make the house smell delicious…and will also make you cough quite a bit. Because pepper spray. It’s a thing.

Muffy doesn't care, Muffy wants steak.
Muffy doesn’t care, Muffy wants steak.

The house does smell delicious. Leave the steak on the griddle pan for about 3 minutes per side for a medium rare steak. You really don’t want to overcook this particular cut–it will turn in to rubber and be super difficult to eat.

*angels singing*
*angels singing*

Once the steak is cooked, you need to let it rest. Please, please, please, do not skip this all important step. This is like warming up and cooling down when you exercise. This is like brushing your teeth when you wake up in the morning. You have to do it. If you cut into the steak too early, you will lose all of the delicious, delicious juices. Let that baby sit for between five to ten minutes.

I sauteed the veggies on the same griddle pan so they could get some of the nommy flavors. I also forgot to take pictures. Womp.

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Muffy is not impressed with me.

So, after you’ve let the steak rest, you can finally cut in to it! Make sure you’re cutting against the grain. What the heck does that mean? When you’re looking down at the steak, you should be able to see lines which indicate which way the muscle fibers are going. Cut perpendicular to those lines and you are golden. Cut along those lines and you wind up with a lot of connective tissue in every single bite and that is not nommy. Cut thin strips of delicious, delicious meat.

Make sure you cut it right!
Make sure you cut it right!

Now you are ready to eat! I put mine on a tortilla, but you could totally make a steak taco salad situation, or just eat the steak with the veggies. In fact, when I eat it for lunch, that’s what I usually do. I also put on some chipotle chimichurri that the hubs makes (sooooo good), and a blue container’s worth of cheese and sour cream.

I also have a tendency to overfill these bad boys. Whoops!
I also have a tendency to overfill these bad boys. Whoops!

Skirt Steak Tacos (1 red, 1 green)

2 Red Onions, chopped

2 Green Peppers, chopped

3-4 Jalapenos, chopped

5-6 Mushrooms, chopped

Taco seasoning

1 lb skirt steak or similar cut

Olive oil

Mix olive oil and taco seasoning together. Pour mixture over skirt steak, patting to ensure seasoning sticks to the steak. Wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Cut vegetables into strips (think fajitas).

Drizzle griddle pan with olive oil and heat to high, when the oil just starts to smoke. Unwrap steak and place on griddle pan. Leave for approximately 3 minutes, then flip sides, again for approximately 3 minutes. Remove steak from griddle pan and allow to rest for between 5 and 10 minutes.

While steak is resting, place vegetables on griddle pan. Keep them moving to avoid burning. When vegetables are tender, remove from heat.

Cut into steak, being sure to cut against the grain. Cut into thin strips.

Enjoy!

An Inner Fat Kid’s Review of 21 Day Fix

Disclaimer: I am an Independent Beachbody Coach and therefore do have a bias towards their products. However, being a coach does not mean that I have to love all of their trainers. πŸ˜‰

TL;DR: 21 Day Fix works, people. Even for fat kids like me who cheat and drink wine with dinner every night. Mmm, wine.

Oh, Autumn Calabrese with the abs. I love and hate you.
Oh, Autumn Calabrese with the abs. I love and hate you.

Around January, one of my dear teacher friends started talking about this new diet she was on. There were containers and you got so many a day and then there were these workouts…I tried to follow the conversation but my mind soon drifted towards what delicious pasta dish the hubs was going to be making for me that weekend. Goat cheese pasta, mmmm…

Fast-forward to May, when I asked to see her book that explained all of these mystical things because she looked fan-freaking-tastic and I wanted some of that. I perused through it, worried that it would trigger me back into disordered eating habits, and put it on the back burner.

Another fast-forward to the end of July when I decided to take the plunge and become a Beachbody coach. When you become a coach, the best bang for your buck is to purchase what’s called a Challenge Pack. You get a month’s supply of Shakeology and one of Beachbody’s many, many, many, MANY workout programs. I decided to go with 21 Day Fix because, while I ate fairly healthily in terms of my food being “clean” (the new buzzword for not processed), my meals were pretty freaking heavy and rich. Goat cheese pasta, mmmm…Where was I? Oh, right. 21 Day Fix. Here we go.

The Nutrition

The Mystical Containers of Autumn Calaberese
The Mystical Containers of Autumn Calaberese

So, I love food. Like, a lot. The hubs is Italian, so we rock out Italian style quite a bit. Pasta, wine, and lots of it. I haven’t always had the best relationship with food, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, but lately, we looooooove each other. Maybe a little too much. So when I got the containers, I was a little worried that I would feel deprived of my delicious, delicious food.

Not the case, amazingly enough.

With the 21 Day Fix, you get 7 containers which are color coded. Green for Veggies, Purple for Fruit, Red for Protein, Yellow for Carbs, Blue for Healthy Fats (yes, they do exist), and two Oranges for Salad Dressings/Oils/Seeds/Nuts. No, this is not all you get to eat all day. You also get this:

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Inside of this pretty little book, you have all you need to calculate out how many of each container you get every single day. They also have food lists of what foods you should be cramming into those bad boys. I will fully admit that I have not been strictly adhering to the food lists because, again, inner fat kid. However, they’re pretty extensive. Like, goat cheese extensive. Nom nom nom.

The plans are broken into different caloric brackets, ranging from a 1,200-1,499 bracket (anyone who falls into this bracket gets the same number of containers a day) to a 2,100-2,300 bracket. The plan I’m on gets me 3 greens, 2 purples, 4 reds, 2 yellows, 1 blue, and 1 orange a day.

The important questions: does it work and did I feel satisfied?

Yes, it totally works. Even being a big ol’ cheater and drinking wine with my dinner literally every night I was on this (again, Italian hubs) and going out a few times along the way, I lost 5 pounds doing this plan. That may not sound like a lot, however, I started off at 164 with a pretty decent amount of muscle. I’ve been stuck at 164 for like the past three years, have not been able to get below it except for when I had the flu for 6 days and did not feel like eating. Getting down to 159 was pretty friggin’ exciting.

I also felt satisfied the entire time. Never felt deprived or like I wanted to gnaw my own arm off. Like I said, we ate pretty clean beforehand. I was just a little more conscientious about what recipes we were making and had to make some very minor adjustments to our usual recipes.

I mentioned earlier that I was worried that this particular plan would trigger some of my disordered eating tendencies but I actually found that this kept me from obsessing over every little calorie I consumed. I had been doing MyFitnessPal and something about seeing those numbers really makes me super fixated. With 21 Day Fix, since it’s just a simple if it fits and is healthy, I eats it, I found myself thinking about food less (except for deciding what recipe I was going to try that week–I mean, I do love food). I also think that thinking of this as more about a lifestyle change than a diet was also helpful. The 21 Day Fix nutrition plan is totally sustainable as a lifestyle as opposed to a lot of diets that are only supposed to go for a set period of time.

Okay. On to the next part.

The Workouts

Along with the fancy containers, you get two DVDs with six workouts plus a ten minute ab workout. The workouts are:

Total Body Cardio Fix: This workout utilizes two sets of weights, heavy and light, a mat, and you. You’re doing each exercise for a minute, usually using the weights. It doesn’t make me want to die, but it definitely gets me sweating, and I definitely felt it the next day. The surrenders in particular. Booty on FIRE! πŸ˜€

Upper Fix: Again, you’ve got the two sets of weights, a mat, and you. As you can tell from the title, this workout focuses on your upper body, with some really great ab exercises at the end. After doing Body Beast all summer (not to worry, there will be a review), I thought I wouldn’t find this workout challenging. Negative, Ghost Rider. This sucker works really well and I definitely think this has helped me blow through the plateau I was experiencing at silks.

Lower Fix: Ugh, the dreaded leg day. Same equipment as before, a million times harder than the other two days. Not gonna lie, I skipped this one during the 2nd week of the Fix because I hate leg day that much. I get up at 5 AM to get these workouts in before school and on Wednesdays I reeeeeally want to sleep in so I don’t have to do leg day. But, this is a really effective workout. My legs are dying at the end and the idea of going up and down stairs for the rest of the day has me seriously questioning my life choices. A++

Pilates Fix: You just need a mat for this one. I really like any program that incorporates a true Pilates workout. It is such a beneficial form of exercise that I used to blow off because it didn’t make me sweat enough, but after having back spasms that landed me on the couch for a week, I love me some Pilates. Autumn does a great job of toning down the Jillian Michaels-esque perkiness and pushing for this one. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still a workout and you still feel it afterwards.

Cardio Fix: No equipment needed for this one, but make sure you have water close by! This one is like leg day for me. I definitely want to sleep in and skip this sucker and I usually wind up doing it after work because I’m a big baby. This is all body weight exercises and is designed to get your heart rate up and make your muscles scream at the same time. As Autumn says, “Hate me today, love me tomorrow.” Oh, I do, Autumn, I do.

Dirty 30: Don’t ask me why, but this one scared me for a long time. I think it was the title. But it felt like the Total Body Cardio Fix to me. Difficult, but not impossible. You’re back to the weights, mat, and you routine here. Actually, I just did this one before sitting down to write this post and checking in with myself, I feel it in my legs and arms. This is one of the first ones where I felt like Autumn did some concentrated tricep work, but the other days have it in there as well, just sneaky.

Yoga Fix: Ahhhh, yoga. I love you so much. You need a mat for this one. Now, I usually have a problem with workout programs that include yoga because they don’t practice yoga the way it’s meant to be practiced. It’s used as just another way to get your heart rate up and get you sweating, which is fine, but you do need recovery days, people! That’s the purpose of this yoga session. Autumn completely loses the personal trainer attitude and is all peace and light during this session and I love that. You can definitely tell that each pose has been chosen to get at all the muscles you’ve worked during the week and help them release. My only complaint is there is no pigeon pose. I love pigeon pose. Mmmm, pigeon pose…

So there you have it. I will say that I was pretty skeptical of the workouts because I didn’t think they would be challenging enough for me and now I want to kick past me in the shin and tell her to shut up. These suckers work you the eff out. And the modifiers are fantastic ( I know because I had to switch to them a couple of times). Autumn Calabrese has a little Jillian Michaels to her, but I like her better for some reason. I think it’s because she reminds me of a personal trainer I had years ago. I will say there are days that I want to punch her in the throat if she says “You can do anything for 60 seconds” one more time, but on those days, I just mute her. πŸ˜‰ There are also a couple of comments she makes on leg day about a guy using “girl weights” and I’m like “I didn’t know weights had genders!” Come on, people. It’s 2015. But overall, she’s a good personality to have wake me up at 5:30 in the morning (oy, what is wrong with me?).

Results

Pictures! Because Pictures!
Pictures! Because Pictures!front_progress[1]
Alrightie. Does 21 Day Fix work? I say yes. I went from 164 to 159, a 30 inch waist to a 29 inch waist and toned up my arms, legs, and butt (I no longer have a thutt, I have an actual butt that does not magically melt into my thighs). I didn’t follow the nutrition plan as well as I could have (I can’t resist fries sometimes…okay, all the time), and I still saw results. So, if you’re someone with more willpower than me, imagine what this sucker could do for you! I did drink Shakeology the entire time I was on it and am continuing to do so. I actually just started my second round of the Fix and I’m gonna tryyyyyyyyyyyy my best to adhere more closely to the plan. We’ll see how that goes.

Tune back in tomorrow when I’ll be sharing a recipe for skirt steak tacos, and then next week, when I’ll be reviewing PiYo! The PiYo Challenge Pack is on sale this month! Woohoo!

Chalene, you're so awesome!
Chalene, you’re so awesome!

Weekly Meal Plan and Workout Schedule for August 30th to September 4th, 2015!

So in between my reviews of different health related products, I thought I would post my weekly meal plan and workout schedule to perhaps offer some inspiration if folks are struggling. πŸ™‚ I’ve actually been meal planning for a few years now but it’s only been recently that I’ve been focusing on planning clean meals. Basically what I try to do is plan something on Sunday that can be my lunch Monday, and so on and so forth.

Dinners This Week

Skirt Steak Tacos with Fajita Veggies

Crockpot Chinese Chicken Salad

Turkey Tacos with Fajita Veggies

Grilled Perch with Grilled Eggplant Stacks

I always plan on eating leftovers on Thursday and Friday because by that point in the week, I’m pretty cooked. It’s just me and the hubs, so since most recipes are for four servings, anything we cook yields enough leftovers for us to eat it for lunch the next day. Saturdays are usually my “Nope. Not Today.” days, where I’ll be more indulgent. The hubs is Italian and an aaaaaaaaamazing cook, but since he works nights, he doesn’t get to play as much as he’d like. Saturdays are his days to play. Even though a lot of his recipes are heavy (think goat cheese cream pasta…omnomnom), they are technically clean since we make just about everything from scratch.

We've just recently started growing our own herbs to include in our recipes!
We’ve just recently started growing our own herbs to include in our recipes!

For breakfast and snacks throughout the week, I stick to Vanilla Shakeology with some sort of frozen fruit (mixed berries, cherries, mango, whatevs) and I snack on bananas a lot of the time. Since I’m climbing in the air at least 3 times a week, the potassium is important to keep me from cramping up, falling, and dying. πŸ˜›

Workout Schedule

  • Sunday: Yoga
  • Monday: Total Body Cardio Fix in the am, yoga in the pm
  • Tuesday: Upper Fix in the am, aerials in the pm
  • Wednesday: Lower Fix in the am, aerials or yoga in the pm
  • Thursday: Pilates Fix in the am, aerials and belly dance in the pm
  • Friday: Cardio Fix in the am, yoga in the pm
  • Saturday: Dirty 30
  • Sunday: Yoga in the am, aerials in the pm

My workout schedule is pretty consistent. I’m a creature of habit and do not love surprises, so knowing what I’m going to do for the week keeps me consistent. IF I’m left to my own devices, it usually winds up like this:

Word play five!
Word play five!

So there you have it! Am I perfect? No. Will there be days where I don’t get done what I want? Probably. But laying it out at the beginning of the week is super duper helpful.

What does your week look like?

Stay tuned for next Saturday when I review 21 Day Fix!