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Aug 262014
 

Although I did not wind up completing the full 12 week Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide program (affiliate link, FYI), I did manage to make it through 8 solid weeks of workouts and healthy eating, so I wanted to share my final thoughts with you all today.

Originally I wasn’t planning to write a wrap-up or final thoughts post about the program since I am still continuing to do the workouts a couple times a week, but man, do you guys have a lot of questions about it! Nearly every day I receive an email about the program, and I have more than 100 comments on my Kayla Itsines Updates post, so I know the need for information is real.

Today I’ll be sharing an overview of how the plan works, an explanation of what my results were like, and answers to some of your commonly asked questions. Ready? Here we go!

Who is Kayla Itsines, and what is her Bikini Body Program?

Kayla Itsines is a personal trainer based out of Australia. She has created two eBooks – essentially PDFs – as part of her “Bikini Body Program,” one for fitness called the Training Guide, and one for nutrition called the H.E.L.P. Nutrition Guide. You can purchase the guides together and save $19, or you can choose to just buy just one of the eBooks. You can buy the eBooks here.

Kayla has a huge following on Instagram, where she frequently posts before and after pictures from the program. They are truly inspirational photos, and are part of the reason why I’m sure so many women are dying to try her program.

[Source]

Do you need both eBooks?

The two eBooks are very different from each other, and though they can be completed separately I recommend purchasing both if you want to see the best results. Even if you are already happy with your nutrition or have a great workout regimen, it’s helpful to see what Kayla recommends since she’s the professional.

If you really want to buy only one, I personally got more value out of the Training Guide because you can do the workouts over and over again. I already know a decent amount about nutrition/have a relatively healthy diet, so while I found the H.E.L.P. Nutrition Guide to be helpful, it didn’t change my eating habits too much. It was also a little more vague, whereas the Training Guide gives you specific instructions for each day of the program.

Both of the guides are great though, and I’m sure this preference varies for everyone.

 [Source]

What’s in the Training Guide?

The Kayla Itsines Training Guide includes workouts for you to complete for weeks 1-12. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the book provides workouts for Legs & Cardio, Abs & Arms, and Full Body which you will complete. On other days, you are encouraged to run, speed walk, or complete your own HIIT workout.

Each of the workouts in the Training Guide includes two circuits, which you will complete two times (4 circuits total per workout). You will have 7 minutes to complete as many rounds of the circuit as you can. This workout should take you 28 minutes total, not counting any time for resting between circuits (4 circuits x 7 min each = 28 min).

Here’s an example of one of the circuits for Legs & Cardio. You would complete this circuit as many times as you could in 7 minutes (I usually can get through them twice – sometimes more, sometimes less) and then do the second circuit (not pictured). After that you would repeat the process until you’ve done circuit 1 twice (14 minutes) and circuit 2 twice (14 minutes) for a sweaty and challenging 28 minute workout.

Note: The back of the guide has explanations for each of the moves in case it’s unclear what you should do from the picture.

Here’s an example of what your week might look like workout wise:

  • Monday – Legs & Cardio
  • Tuesday – Short run
  • Wednesday – Arms & abs
  • Thursday – Speed walk or HIIT
  • Friday – Full Body
  • Saturday – Stretch/yoga
  • Sunday – Rest

You can do all of the workouts from home or in a gym, but just note that if you choose to do the workouts at home you’ll have to get creative with some of the equipment (weights, medicine ball, bench, etc.).

I should also mention that the workouts are fairly challenging, and if you don’t have a strong fitness background you should probably spend a week or two doing some light exercise before getting started. I do believe anyone can do these workouts to a varying degree, but that does not mean they are easy. At all.

What’s in the H.E.L.P. Nutrition Guide?

The H.E.L.P. Nutrition Guide is very simple and follows the Australian dietary guidelines, which seem pretty similar to the U.S. guidelines. The plan sort of reminds me of the old food pyramid because it recommends having things like 5 servings of vegetables, 2.5 servings of dairy, 2 healthy fats, etc. per day. The foods recommended in the plan are all wholesome and clean, and there is no room for any junk food or sweets (except fruit). The plan does allow for one “cheat meal” a week, which is to both help you stick to the plan, and reset your metabolism so you don’t fall into a plateau. The Nutrition Guide also provides sample recipes and meal plans, as well as a science section in the back explaining why it’s important to eat certain types of foods and steer clear of others.

Because I already followed a relatively healthy diet, I used this eBook as a general guideline. I did not use her recipes or meal plans, but I did track my servings using the notepad function on my iPhone.

This is probably the topic I received the most questions about: What counts as a healthy fat? What would a serving size of grains include? What should I do about counting calories? etc. etc. etc. I have literally received more than 100 questions about this, and although I will do what I can to address them, I encourage you to buy the guide yourself and try it out. This post is here to help you with the program or answer any questions you might have before pulling the trigger – I am not going to give away Kayla’s hard-earned knowledge for free.

Also, I want to reinstate that this Nutrition Guide is just that – a guide – and it should not be looked to as the Holy Bible. You need to figure out what eating plan works for you and adjust the recommendations to fit that. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs.

What were my results?

Although I didn’t take any before and after pictures or weigh myself much during this time period (I’m not a huge fan of doing either of those things, which is a topic for another day) I did notice some nice differences in my body from the Bikini Body plan. My clothes fit looser and I saw a much more noticeable gap in my thighs. That, my friends, was a pretty awesome feeling. I think it was worth doing the program just for that!

I also noticed my shoulders and arms were a lot more defined, probably because I was mostly running before I started the Bikini Body program and was admittedly ignoring my arms and abs a bit.

My friends were also telling me that I looked really good, which is always nice to hear. 🙂 So, while I can’t give you any concrete numbers, I can definitely say the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body program worked for me.

Final Thoughts

While this program worked well for me, it’s like any other fitness and nutrition regimen in that you will get out what you put in. If you work hard, watch what you eat, and do the workouts, you will get awesome results. If you take it easy, cheat, skip workouts, and slack off, you won’t. It’s just like everything else in life, and there is no quick fix.

And yes, I still hate the name “Bikini Body,” since I think it emphasizes all the wrong aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but I have to admit the program itself is pretty great. 😉

For more information about my experience with the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide eBooks, please review the Workouts tab at the top of the page, and click on Kayla Itsines.

**NOTE: This post was not sponsored by anyone, although I am an affiliate of the Kayla Itsines program because I truly believe in it. As always all opinions are my own. If you have a question about the program, please read this post in its entirety before asking. There’s a good chance I’ve already addressed it above. Also, check out the questions others have asked in this post, since your question might have already been answered. Lastly, due to copyright information included in the eBooks, I cannot and will not give or sell you a copy.**

Question of the day: Do you have any other questions about the Bikini Body eBooks?

 Posted by on August 26, 2014
Jun 112014
 

Can you believe it’s been more than a month since I’ve posted a What I Ate Wednesday post? The insanity!! Let’s get back to one of my favorite CET traditions today by taking a look at what I’ve been eating lately. This will also give me a chance to talk more about my progress with the Kayla Itsines eBooks (affiliate link, FYI), which will hopefully be helpful since you guys have had a LOT of questions!!

As always, a big thanks go out to Jenn for hosting the What I Ate Wednesday linkup!


So here’s what I’ve been eating lately (i.e., the last couple of weeks!)

Breakfasts

I have pretty much omitted cereal from my breakfast rotation (I know, I never thought that would happen either) and I am loving it! These days I have been switching back and forth between two awesome breakfast recipes that came from some of my favorite bloggers.

The first is perfect microwave banana oatmeal from Anne, usually with a little natural peanut butter and nuts, seeds, or dried fruit mixed in. (Tip for storing natural peanut butter: keep it upside down in your cabinet so the oil will float to the top and you’ll never need to stir it!)
oatmeal

I’ve been making oatmeal this way for almost a year now, and I don’t think I could make it any other way again! The banana and milk really make a difference!

The other recipe I’ve been loving lately is the two ingredient pancake from Tina (who just had her baby BTW! Omg he’s so cute I could die. #instagramstalker). I also will usually eat this with a bit of natural peanut butter.
twoingredientpancake

The first time I tried making these two ingredient pancakes I thought they were sort of watery and weird, but once I got the hang of cooking them low and slow, I realized I had been cooking them wrong! They are actually amazing!

Both of these recipes are easy and nutritious and keep me full all morning long. If you’re looking for something new to eat for breakfast I would definitely give these a try!

Lunches

My lunches have consisted of giant salads made with greens (usually baby spinach/kale mixture) and a serving each of grains, protein, and healthy fats. I’ve found that salads that include all of those types of foods keep me feeling full the longest, and I actually enjoy eating them instead of thinking “ugh, a salad for lunch.”

My new routine includes cooking up a bunch of grains and roasting some veggies/chicken on Sunday nights so I can use them for salads and dinner all week long. The night before I’ll usually pack my greens and veggies in a giant tupperware container, and then I put the grains and protein in a separate, smaller container. When I get to work, I nuke the grains and protein in the microwave and then add the hot chicken/beans/rice/quinoa to the cold greens. Something about warm chicken and rice in a cold salad just sounds much better to me than a completely cold salad.

I’ve been making my own salad dressing too which includes a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and a little honey. I make this on Sundays too and then pour it into little individual containers to bring to work.

These salads are really easy to throw together and I’ve been totally loving them. Sometimes I worry that I’m eating too much salad (seriously, my bowls are huge) but I know I’m ok as long as I’m not loading up on too many of the toppings. There’s nothing wrong with a lot of greens!

salad2

Snacks

I’m still loving my sliced apples every day around 3:30 pm! Sometimes I’ll have a few raw almonds on the side, and sometimes not. It depends how hungry I am.

applesandalmonds

Dinners

To be honest I’ve been getting pretty lazy with my dinners lately. As I’ve mentioned before, Fabio plays a lot of sports during the week (volleyball is over so it’s just soccer and softball for now, but we are both starting up flag football with our friends soon!) so I’m usually just cooking for one. A lot of the time I will wind up having another salad of sorts, but usually with some different roasted vegetables (hot) mixed in with a couple of wedges of Laughing Cow cheese so it gets all melty. You can read more about making throw-together dinner bowls here. My favorite veggies to include are sweet potatoes or butternut squash so I can get a bit of sweetness to go along with the rest of the ingredients which are salty and/or spicy. Yum!

dinner

Other dinners include the typical grilled/baked chicken with veggies on the side, or some type of spaghetti squash/ground turkey spaghetti situation. Everything I’ve been eating has been really tasty, but sometimes when Fabio’s not home my creativity starts to wane. Ah well, that’s life.

Treats & Cheats

Those of you who have been following along with my progress on the Kayla Itsines BBG eBooks may remember that I am allowed one “cheat” meal per week. I have been straying from this a little bit because 1) I sort of hate the idea of a cheat- nothing you enjoy should be seen as cheating – and 2) I’m trying to improve my eating for the long run and having just one unhealthy meal a week is not always feasible.

Take last week for example. On Monday Fabio and I had dinner with some friends of ours at a Mexican restaurant. I wanted to order something healthy but also something I was going to enjoy eating, so I went with grilled fish tacos. I also snacked on some of the chips and salsa and had two glasses of sangria. Technically by this BBG plan that should have been my “cheat” meal, right?

So what happens later in the week when my friends invite me to a BBQ where I know I will probably want a cheeseburger or hot dog and will be drinking beer? Do I just not go because I already used up my weekly cheat? No. That’s just not me. For some people that might work out ok, but when I’m with my friends I want to enjoy myself and live in the moment rather than worry that it might mess up my “diet.” I don’t like diets anyway, and don’t see this as one, so I just eat healthy wholesome foods when I can, and enjoy myself when I can’t.

castironskilletpizza

Because sometimes, you just need pizza.

Workouts

Ok now moving on to the workouts- they have been going great!! I’ve explained how the workouts work here and here, so today I will just tell you that I am still totally loving them. Of course when my alarm goes off at 5:30 I want to either throw my phone at the wall, pull the blankets over my head, or basically do anything to get out of bed and workout, but the thought of how I will feel once my workout is over always gets me up and moving.

The workouts are challenging but they don’t make me want to die, and I am always, always dripping in sweat at the end.

Here’s my I’m-totally-sweaty-and-my-hair-got-caught-in-my-bobbypins-while-doing-burpees-but-I-feel-so-great face.

workout

Results

I have honestly not lost that much weight in my 5ish weeks of following this plan (I think this is probably because I was already eating healthfully and was in decent shape before I started), but I can definitely see changes in my body! I’ve noticed that when I lay in certain positions, my legs no longer touch where they once did, and my love handles and behind look smaller (to me). Fabio commented the other day on how my legs look leaner and stronger, and it was totally unprompted so I believe him! 😉 Even if I’m not really seeing the scale move at all, I’m feeling really good about my body right now, and after all isn’t that what’s most important?

**Note: this post was not sponsored by anyone, and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Question of the day: What kind of salads keep you full?

 Posted by on June 11, 2014
May 202014
 

Hey friends! Two weeks ago I told you about how I purchased the Bikini Body Guide eBooks from Kayla Itsines (affiliate link, FYI), and you guys seemed really interested in them! I got a lot of comments, emails, and tweets with your questions, so I thought today would be a good time for an update. Hold on to your seatbelts- this is going to be a long one!

First and foremost, I should explain how to purchase the eBooks. Although they are technically called eBooks, they are actually just PDFs. You can buy them from the Kayla Itsines website here. You won’t find them on Amazon or anywhere else where they sell traditional eBooks. I hope that helps clarify things!

As for my update- so far it’s going great! I’ve lost about 5 pounds in two weeks, although I have to say most of that was probably bloating from all the junk I ate and drank right before I started. Bleh. Like many women, I have a typical “weight range” that fluctuates up a few pounds or down a few pounds from day to day. When I started using the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) eBooks, I was at the heavier end of my usual range. I am now one pound less than my typical low weight range, so take that as you will (1 pound loss or 5). Either way the scale is moving in the right direction and my body is feeling great 🙂

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty…

The Nutrition Plan

The BBG Nutrition Plan (which is called the Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Plan aka HELP…so clever!) is one of the things I was most excited about when I decided to try out the 12-week BBG plan. I have always had (and probably always will have) a love-hate relationship with food. I grew up not understanding healthy food AT ALL and was basically (unknowingly) addicted to junk food. You can read more about that here.

Now I try really hard to eat a balanced diet but I still crave food that’s bad for me and I’m not sure that will ever really go away. I am totally fine with following a 80-20 diet (eating healthy 80% of the time and enjoying yourself the other 20% of the time) but lately that balance seemed to be leaning more toward a 60-40 “balance” which I was NOT ok with. Especially with summer right around the corner and some fun plans on the agenda which involve being in a bathing suit.

The HELP Nutrition Guide suggests following a food regimen that a) I was already familiar with/loosely following, b) was backed up by science, and c) in-line with my nutrition preferences and beliefs (i.e., no fad diets), which made it a perfect match for me. In short, when I read about it I couldn’t wait to give it a shot!

The Nutrition Plan recommend eating a specific number of servings of each food every day. As I have explained before, it’s basically like following the old food pyramid recommendations we all grew up with.

To track my meals, I use the notepad app on my phone. Basically I write out the recommended number of servings of each food I should be eating each day under “IDEAL,” and then I list the actual amounts I’ve eaten below it. At the end of each day I delete all the numbers in the “ACTUAL” list and start over.

Here’s a sample of what my tracking looks like after I’ve eaten breakfast:

mealtracking

You’ll notice that some of the serving amounts seem pretty large (6 servings of grains!) but the portion sizes are actually really small, so it balances out. One slice of bread, for example, counts as one serving, so a sandwich would be two servings. Similarly, 1/4 cup of brown rice counts as one serving, and sometimes with dinner I’d rather have 1/2 cup of brown rice instead of just 1/4, which bumps it up to two servings. I don’t usually wind up eating all 6 servings of grains, but I get a lot closer than I thought I would. I also run out of dairy and healthy fat servings before I even make it to dinner time, so that’s been a bit of a change. I used to just pop raw almonds by the handful, but now I’m more careful! I also have to be careful to avoid processed foods, since they aren’t recommended on the meal plan. So far that has been going well!

Overall I would say that what I’ve been eating while following the HELP Nutrition Plan hasn’t changed all that much, but the amounts definitely have. Here’s a snapshot of some of my meals.

Breakfast hasn’t really changed that much for me. I am trying to make an effort to eat cleaner (i.e., less cereal) even though technically some whole grain cereal is still allowed on the plan. I’ve been having a lot of my favorite oatmeal (which I make with 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup skim milk, 1 mashed banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon) and I’ve also brought the two ingredient pancakes from Tina over at Carrots ‘N Cake back into the mix. I forgot how tasty these are! 

twoingredienthealthypancake

Yogurt and fruit has also been a good go-to. The picture below includes one container of blueberry Chobani, a sliced banana, and organic coconut granola. Yum. FYI, this would count as one serving of dairy, 1 serving of fruit, and 1 serving of grains).

yogurtbananagranola

Lunches have been a bigger switch for me. As part of the nutrition plan, I am supposed to eat six servings of vegetables every day. I thought I was really good at eating a lot of veggies before, but it turns out I was no where close to getting six servings (it was more like 3-4). I have been trying to squeeze them in wherever I can, which means replacing my beloved turkey and cheese sandwiches with giant veggie-packed salads. These usually include mixed greens, baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, and feta cheese. Other add-ins include any leftovers we might have laying around like chicken, roasted veggies, quinoa, or rice.

photo

My salad-making skills are improving and I’ve been enjoying these combos!

salad

Not much has changed with my snacks; I still eat an apple almost every day and depending on whether I have any servings of healthy fats left I will also eat some almonds or peanut butter on the side (just 1 tsp. of peanut butter = 1 serving of healthy fats, BTW, so that’s been a bit of a change). Through this process I have realized that I was probably eating way too many healthy fats before I started this nutrition plan. Also, you can only have two pieces of fruit! I usually have a banana with breakfast and an apple as my snack, and then that’s that.

healthyafternoonsnack

There’s always room for more veggies though! Carrots and hummus still make a perfect snack (I usually count hummus as one of my healthy fats though, so I have to be careful how much I have).

carrotsandhummus

Dinners have also stayed pretty much the same. I am trying to include more lean meats and lots of veggies, but that has always been a priority for me. Being on the nutrition plan does help keep me from ordering out too often, and it also encourages me to steer clear of unnecessary alcohol with dinner, but I’ll get to more on that in a minute.

Here is a tilapia filet with Thai curry sauce that I pulled out of the freezer from the Saucy Fish Co., some broccoli rice, and sweet potato wedges (that recipe is also from Carrots ‘N Cake! These are so tasty, and you must try them if you haven’t yet!).

thaitilapiaandveggies

More broccoli & rice, grilled chicken, and balsamic carrots & cauliflower. Simple, nutritious, delicious.

balsamicchickenandveggies

Unfortunately (for me) Desserts and Alcohol pretty much have no place in the nutrition plan. I know. However, since the BBG plan is a 12-week program, I’m trying to be realistic about things. Knowing myself, my social life, and my sweet tooth, there is just no way I won’t eat any sweets or alcohol for twelve weeks. It’s just not realistic!

The plan does allow for one “cheat meal” per week, so I try to schedule my social events around that. Even still, I know I am usually tempted by booze and/or sugar more than once a week, so I am just doing the best I can. I want this plan to be something I feel comfortable following well beyond the 12 weeks, and omitting drinks and sweets all together just won’t work for me. That being said, I have made a huge change from having a glass of wine with dinner and a low-calorie dessert afterword each and every day, to saving my “cheats” for when it’s really important. It’s a step in the right direction but I’ll be honest, even that hasn’t been easy! Oh well, at least I’m making progress!

The Exercise Plan

I have also really been loving the BBG exercise plan! I’m on week 3 right now, and for weeks 1-4 you complete 3 resistance training workouts (circuits) and 2-3 low intensity steady state (LISS) workouts like a light jog or power walk. I probably should be taking the LISS workouts more seriously, but I walk a lot every day anyway to and from the metro plus when walking Jack, so I like to think if I just take Jack a little further than usual or go for a quick run that counts. Eh, maybe it does, but I could probably do more on this front.

I think the reason I’ve been taking the LISS workouts so easy is because the circuits are so tough!! Here’s an example of one of the circuits. As I explained before, you have 7 minutes to run through the circuit as many times as you can (usually 2 for me) and then one minute of rest before moving on to circuit #2. Then you repeat, so you wind up doing 14 minutes (4 rounds) of each circuit. Phew.

kaylaitsinescircuit

I am usually dripping in sweat after each and every workout and feel sore in some spots the next day. They are quick (about 30 mins) and effective which I love!

photo (1)

And that’s about it for my Kayla Itsines BBG update! The nutrition plan is going really well and so are the workouts. I’m just chugging along trying to continue toning up/losing a little weight and reminding myself that I’m in it for the long haul, so if I mess up here or there it’s really no biggie. Also, I continue to look at the Kayla Itsines transformations on her website to keep my motivation up. Hopefully in 12 weeks I will look like these awesome ladies!

kaylaitsinestranformations

**Note: Although I am an affiliate for the Kayla Itsines program this post was not sponsored by anyone. All thoughts and opinions are my own. **

Question of the day: How do you deal with unhealthy “cheats” in your diet?

 Posted by on May 20, 2014
May 072014
 

Over the weekend I was lounging around on the couch and feeling bad about my body, when I read this blog post on the Skinny Confidential. It featured an interview with a new-to-me fitness guru/personal trainer from Australia, Kayla Itsines, who is apparently a huge sensation all over instagram (I had never heard of her, but maybe I’ve just been living under a rock).

kaylaistines

[Source]

Kayla had been a trainer for a few years when she realized there weren’t many fitness or nutrition plans geared toward women. She noticed than many women want a similar look (lean without being too muscular), so she went on to create her own plan/start her own business. Almost immediately her clients starting seeing great results, and since then she has been a huge success. Just take a look at some of her transformations!

kayla-itsines-transformations

[Source]

Kayla’s plans focus on quick, intense workouts, and clean and balanced meals. Once she realized how much people liked her plans, she created two eBooks so her workouts and nutrition plan could be available to people all over the world.

“My clients saw amazing results in 12 weeks or sometimes even sooner, and began to tell their friends and spread an amazing positive message. I soon realized that this was becoming bigger than I had imagined, and I needed a way to reach more women.”

I did a little digging into the eBooks and her plans, and I loved what I saw! At first I was thrown off by the “Bikini body” title, but after some research I saw that she defines a bikini body as a body that you feel proud of when you’re in a bikini- whether that’s strong, thing, lean, etc. She just wants women to work hard and feel proud of how they look. I also loved that the transformations seemed to come from real girls with real bodies like mine, so I was intrigued. I read a few more reviews online, and then decided to try them out!

kayla-itsines-ebooks

 [Source]

One of the eBooks includes workouts/fitness tips, and the other includes meal plans and recipes. BOTH eBooks include an education/science section in the back, explaining why micronutrients are important and why HIIT exercising burns more fat, for example. I love this! It’s so important to know why you’re being told to do something. As soon as I bought them, the eBooks were emailed to me in PDF format.

Nutrition Plan

Kayla’s nutrition plan is very simple and follows the Australian dietary guidelines, which seem pretty similar to the ones in the U.S. Her plan sort of reminds me of the old food pyramid because she recommends having 5 servings of vegetables, 2.5 servings of dairy, 2 healthy fats, etc. per day. The foods she recommends eating are all wholesome and clean, and there is no room for any junk food or sweets (except fruit). Her plan does allow for one “cheat meal” a week, which is to both help you stick to the plan, and reset your metabolism so you don’t fall into a plateau.

So far it’s been really easy to follow and I haven’t had to make too many modifications to my original diet, but keeping track of what goes into my mouth has made me a lot more aware of the number of times a week I would mindlessly eat a Girl Scout cookie, drink wine or beer with dinner for no reason, and just generally not care what I was eating. No more of that! Now I am tracking everything and making smarter choices, which are still relatively similar to the way I was eating before 🙂

Now, since it’s What I Ate Wednesday I might as well show you guys what I’ve been eating on the nutrition plan so far. Here’s what I ate on Day 1 of the plan, which was Monday.

Breakfast

I had 1/3 cup of oats, 1/3 cup of skim milk, 1 banana, and 1 tsp. of peanut butter. When measuring my peanut butter I noticed that I used to use way more than just a teaspoon (oops) and sometimes I added trail mix for crunch, which was adding a lot of fat and calories. Just because it’s a healthy fat doesn’t mean you can eat as much of it as you want!

oatmeal

Lunch

I met my dad for lunch on Monday, and instead of getting a sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries or a salad like I normally would have, I opted to order an Ahi tuna salad. Kayla’s plan requires a lot of servings of vegetables throughout the day (5) so I am trying to get them in wherever I can. This salad was delicious and I even had some extra tuna to take home for salads later in the week 😉

rawtunasalad

Snack

A chopped apple. No real change here, except that I omitted the mini Babybel cheese I usually eat in the afternoon. I am only supposed to have 2.5 servings of diary in a day, and I knew I wanted some dairy in my dinner 😉 It’s all about planning ahead!

apple

Dinner

For dinner I made a version of this Mexican quinoa with lazy-girl guacamole (it was Cinco de Mayo, after all!!) and added some shredded cheese and fat free Greek yogurt on top. I also beefed up the veggies by adding some spinach.

texmexquinoa

Yum! This was a great recipe! It was easy to make, included lots of veggies, protein, and healthy grains. Perfect!

texmexquinoaguac

No dessert, because like I said there’s not really any place on the meal plan for sweets. So far I’ve been coping with that part ok (you know I have a crazy sweet tooth) and I think this is working because I am not actually limiting myself. I have been telling myself that if I really, really want something sweet, I can have one or two Hershey kisses. I’ve been keeping this in the back of my mind, and strangely I haven’t caved in to that option yet. I really would like to kick my sugar addiction, so for now my willpower is outweighing my taste buds. For now. 😉

Overall I am really liking the nutrition plan because it’s so similar to how I was already eating, but just encourages me to make some smarter choices.

Workouts

The workout plan includes a structured 12-week calendar for resistance training (circuits), HIIT, LIIT (biking, easy jogging, power walking), stretching, etc.

So far I have done one LIIT workout, and two of the resistance workouts. Those resistance circuits are tough! Each one includes two circuits with four exercises in each. For each circuit you set the timer for 7 minutes and complete the four exercises as many times as you can (for me I get through 2 rounds in 7 minutes). Then you do the same for the second circuit. Then you repeat!

In the end you wind up doing Circuit 1 twice (14 minutes) and Circuit 2 twice (14 minutes) for a sweaty and challenging 28 minute workout. It’s great! Here’s a sample one, for your abs:

kayla-itsines-abworkout

[Source]

So far the workouts have been quick, CHALLENGING, and fun. I’m a fan!

Overall Thoughts

I am so happy I found these eBooks, and am really excited about having a new workout regimen and nutrition plan to follow. I have been in a rut lately in terms of my motivation and fitness/eating routine, so I think this will be a great way to get my butt back in gear. I don’t know if I will be following this plan for the whole 12 weeks (I do still want to look into triathlon training) but if it gets me out of my rut I’ll be happy. Who knows, I may even start counting my food servings from now on?

Question of the day: How do you get out of a fitness/nutrition rut?

 Posted by on May 7, 2014
May 262017
 

Helloooo! How are ya? I’m feeling pumped because it’s almost time for a three-day weekend where I’ll be spending time at the beach with some of my best friends! Woohoo! But first I have to make it through half a workday before we can hit the road. I hope the time goes quickly!

Overall I had a really nice week, despite some super rainy and gray weather. The sun barely came out all week! Anyway, here’s a look at my workouts.

Saturday, May 20 – Saturday was a rest day that I spent traipsing around vineyards in Virginia with some of my best girl friends!

Sunday, May 21 – I wasn’t feeling so hot on Sunday after all the wine the day before (oof) so I thought going for a short run might help. I only wound up going a mile, but it really did make me feel much better after! My headache was pretty much completely gone after that.

Monday, May 22 – I was planning to complete one of my Kayla Itsines workouts at the track on Monday, but when I woke up to pouring rain I decided to move my workout indoors. I knew I still had to walk Jack and would get wet regardless, so I took him on a one-mile warm-up run that was extremely wet. When we came inside, I chose a Kayla workout that didn’t require too much space and got to work! The one I picked included burpees, jumping lunges, push-ups, squats, mountain climbers, V-ups, and more. It was a good one!

Tuesday, May 23 – On Tuesday, I drove over to CorePower Yoga for my favorite Sculpt class with Monica. I swear, she kicks my butt every time! I still think she’s the hardest CPY sculpt instructor I’ve ever had. Her plank series is insane!

Wednesday, May 24 – Wednesday it was finally not raining (though it was still chilly and gray out) so I took Jack for a three-mile run along our favorite path. It was nice to get outside!

Thursday, May 25 – On Thursday, Fabio and I headed over to BodyMass Gym for another one of their bootcamps (we’ve been loving them lately!) and this time we were joined by one of my college besties, Lauren! Lauren lives really close to the gym and is also on ClassPass (<– affiliate link for $30 off), so the night before class I texted her to see if she was free to join us. To my delight she was, so on Thursday morning she joined us for a fun class that included a mix of upper body, core, and leg exercises (so many jumping lunges and lunges on the slider!).

It was especially fun chatting about wedding stuff with her since she and I met right before Fabio and I met in 2008, so the three of us all know each other really well. 🙂 So fun! Thanks for joining us, Lauren!

Friday, May 26 – Tomorrow (it’s Thursday night as I type this) I’m signed up for another bootcamp class with my friend Kathleen at Urban Athletic Club (Anne is out of town this week). It should be good!

*Edited to add: Omg I did MORE jumping lunges in today’s class. Help!

And one other thing happened this week that I wanted to share with you all – my coworkers threw me a surprise bridal shower!

I thought I was on my way to a regular meeting, and when I got to the conference room I saw that they had set up a whole spread complete with decorations, balloons, adorable snacks, and even some presents.

How sweet is this?! They also somehow found my registry, so they got me one gift from there and then a few other personal gifts. They are the best!

After opening presents, we played a couple of games! For the first game, my coworker Dani played about 10 seconds of a song with “love” in the title and you had to guess the name and the artist (each answer was worth half a point). It was so fun!

Then my other coworker Carly said she had another game that was just for me – uh oh! It turns out she had contacted Fabio (my coworkers are very sneaky) and asked him a bunch of trivia questions like “where does Chelsea want to retire” and “what is Fabio’s most prized possession” and then I had to guess what Fabio’s answers were. It was hard, but I did a lot better than I did at my regular shower. 🙂

It was so fun, and so unbelievably thoughtful. I am truly lucky to be blessed with so many wonderful people in my life!

After the party, I moved all the decorations over to my desk. 🙂

Hooray indeed! 🙂

Question of the day: For those of you celebrating Memorial Day, what are your plans?

 Posted by on May 26, 2017
May 192017
 

Hey friends! Did you have a good week? Mine was a good one, complete with a fun work conference at the Newseum (along with a post-conference happy hour on the roof overlooking the Capitol!) and a meeting with our HOA board that we took outside since it was such a nice evening. Sometimes little things like that can make a big difference in an otherwise boring week!

I also got in a bunch of good workouts this week, though I didn’t get many pictures (blogger fail). Here’s a look!

Saturday, May 13 & Sunday, May 14: These were both rest days! I thought about going for a run with Jack on Sunday morning since Fabio was out playing golf and I had some extra time to myself, but I decided to take him on an extra long walk through our local park instead. It was still nice to be out and about!

Monday, May 15: On Monday, I took Jack for a one-mile warm-up run and then headed to the track to complete a Kayla Itsines circuit workout. I have been loving these workouts lately since they’re quick and easy and I can do them outside without having to go too far from home.

Monday’s circuit included step-ups, step-up/lunges, walking lunges, jump rope, burpees, and more. It was a good one, and once again I was happy to just be outside in the sunshine. What a perfect way to start the day! 🙂

Tuesday, May 16: On Tuesday, Fabio joined me for a class at Bodymass Gym in Court House via ClassPass (<– affiliate link for $30 off). I’m so glad we discovered this fun bootcamp-style gym so close to home!

Recycled photo from last time we went

Our instructor Chaz took us through a bunch of circuits with exercises like goblet side lunges on sliders, push-ups, and more. Halfway through class Chaz challenged me to use a heavier weight, which is one thing I really like about these classes. The coaches definitely push you in the best possible way! I was pretty sore after this workout, especially my upper body. Ouch!

Wednesday, May 17 – Wednesday’s workout featured a class at Urban Athletic Club with my favorite workout buddies Anne and Kathleen. It was a good one, like usual, and I especially enjoyed the series of outside sprints since it was such a nice day out. Also, if any of you read Anne’s blog, you might have seen that she shared some exciting news this week!! 🙂 Congrats to Anne and Matt! <3

Thursday, May 18 – Thursday was a rest day since I had a work conference and had to be downtown by 8:30 a.m. I could have gotten up earlier for a class, but I decided to sleep in instead! It was a good decision.

Friday, May 19 – I have an early morning meeting tomorrow (it’s Thursday night as I write this) so I won’t be taking a class, but I do plan to get in a three-mile run with Jack. It’s been a while since I’ve run that route with him (a week? two weeks?) so I’m looking forward to it!

The end.

Question of the day: What was your favorite workout this week?

 Posted by on May 19, 2017
May 122017
 

Oh man, this has been a week. Work is crazy, life is crazy, and I feel like I just need a minute to catch my breath. Phew! Hopefully things will be a little calmer this weekend.

Luckily I had some really good workouts this week, and I felt like they helped to keep me grounded and sane. I used to dread working out (back in the days when I used to work out in my living room after work – oof) but now I look forward to it as the one time of my day that I don’t have to think about anything else on my to-do list. I also know that a workout will improve my mood immensely. What a change!

Here’s a look at what I was up to!

Sat., May 6 & Sun. May 7 – Rest days! This weekend was spent traipsing around New York City with Fabio and our family and friends.

Mon., May 8 – On Monday, I took my workout over to the track at Washington Lee High School, which is right by my house. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I decided to complete one of my old Kayla Itsines workouts on the track.

I positioned myself next to a bench so I could do some step-ups, and then got to work! My workout included weighted walking lunges, burpees, squat jumps, sumo squats, step-ups, and more. It was a good one! And it was so nice to be outside in the sun. 🙂

Tues., May 9 – On Tuesday, Fabio and I headed to a FlyWheel class via ClassPass (<– affiliate link for $30 off). We had Richard as our instructor, and his classes are always so hard. My total power at the end of class was 293, which was much higher than my usual 255ish. Clearly he pushed us on Tuesday! I was dripping in sweat by the end of class, and was feeling so happy to have such a good workout behind me. Plus, it’s always fun when Fabio joins me! 🙂

Wed., May 10 – Wednesday was bootcamp day with the girls! I met up with Anne and Kathleen at our favorite spot, Urban Athletic Club, for a 7 a.m. class. Unfortunately all the usual instructors were randomly out of town/unavailable that day, so we had a last minute fill-in instructor teach us. He was a nice guy, but I didn’t love the workout he took us through which included toe-taps on the medicine ball, cleans, skaters, push-ups, and just a couple of other moves. The one part of the workout that I did really enjoy was a quick jaunt around the neighborhood, and since it was such a pretty day out, it was nice to get a quick run in outside!

Thurs., May 11 – Thursday was a rest day for me since we wound up going to the National’s game with our friends Megan and JR the night before and didn’t get home until around 11:00 p.m. By that time the stress of the week had caught up to me (plus it was rainy and gross out on Thursday morning), and I was glad to have a planned rest day.

I love these guys so much!

Fri., May 12 – Tomorrow morning (it’s Thursday night as I write this), I’m planning to take the sculpt class at CorePower Yoga. It’s one of my favorite classes, and I’m really looking forward to it!

And that’s a wrap! I hope whatever you do this weekend is exactly what you want to be doing – whether that means it’s filled with lots of plans or none at all. 🙂

Question of the day: Have you been to any baseball games yet this year? This was our first one of the season!

 Posted by on May 12, 2017
Apr 212017
 

Helloooo! How was your week? Mine was a good one and it went by really fast. Love when that happens!

I also got some good workouts in, so let’s take a look back shall we?

Sat., April 15 – Before heading over to Baltimore for Diane and Alex’s baby gender reveal on Saturday, I ran three miles with my favorite furry running partner, Jack! Through work, I recently heard about an app called Charity Miles that allows you to raise money for the charity of your choice with every walk, run, or bike ride you log through the app. I thought it was a really cool concept (and such an easy way to raise money for causes that are important to you!) so I gave it a shot on Saturday morning.

It was really easy to set up, and I loved knowing that my quick, three-mile run was able to make a difference!

Sun., April 16 – Rest day! I spent Easter soaking up lots of time with family. 🙂

Mon., April 17 – Another three-mile run with Jack! This time the Charity Miles app said “together we’ve earned $17,655,” so I was happy to see that more people had used the app over the weekend. I’m not sure exactly how much each mile adds to the donated total, but I still think it’s cool that a run I would have done anyway can help raise money for important causes!

Tues., April 18 – On Tuesday, Anne, Fabio, and I checked out a new-to-us bootcamp class at Bodymass Gym via ClassPass (<–affiliate link for $30 off!).

The class was conveniently located in Courthouse, and we didn’t have to feed the meter until 8:00 a.m. which was really nice. We wound up taking their Bodymass Blast class, which is a full-body workout with a mix of cardio and strength-based circuits. This is one of their smaller classes by design, which we liked since it gave us more time to work one-on-one with our instructor, Chaz. Chaz led us through a series of circuits with planks, push-ups, step-ups, goblet squats, burpees, lunges, and more. It was a really good workout, and we all agreed we’d happily return again soon!

Wed., April 19 – I did something a little different on Wednesday! I am trying to “save up” my ClassPass classes since I ran out so quickly last month, but I didn’t feel like doing another run either. Instead I packed up a couple of weights and a sweat towel and walked over to the tennis courts near my house!

From there I completed one of my old Kayla Itsines workouts (I did legs and cardio and used the bench for step-ups) and it was really hard! I hadn’t done one of those workouts in literally years, but I still had the PDF saved on my phone so it wasn’t hard to pull it up and quickly find the one I wanted to do. By the end of the two repeated circuits, my legs were burning and I was dripping in sweat! Success! This is definitely a workout I’ll have to add to my rotation more often.

Thurs., April 20 – On Thursday, I joined my buddies Kathleen and Anne for our weekly bootcamp class at Urban Athletic Club! The coaches all tease us because we usually chat during class — don’t they know we use our workout hour to catch up? It’s basically like a coffee date without the coffee. 🙂 We still work just as hard!

This week’s class was taught by Graham, the owner of UAC who we hadn’t had for a while. It was a great class and included broad jumps, walking lunges, pull-ups, jump rope, wall-balls, deadlifts, bicep curls, sit-ups, and more.

It was a good one!

Fri., April 21 – Rest day!

Alright friends, that’s all I have for you today! I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Question of the day: When you’re not taking a class/going to the gym and you’re not running, what are some other ways you work out on your own?

 Posted by on April 21, 2017
Feb 232016
 

Whew, I had a rough morning yesterday!

I woke up at 5:15 am ready to hit the ground running with a healthier day, and after getting dressed and walking Jack I headed out the door for a 6:15 spin class at Reformation Fitness. After driving over there and parking, I walked up to the door only to discover that it was locked.

There was a sign on the door saying they keep the door locked during non-peak hours, and you should check your class confirmation email for how to get in (there was a key pad next to the door, so I thought maybe you had to enter a code?). I had been to Reformation Fitness for a morning spin class before and didn’t remember this happening, but I checked my email on my phone anyway to see if there was a code for the key pad. Nope. I stood around awkwardly for a few minutes watching the minutes tick closer to the class start time, and was so confused.

Thankfully one of the employees from Reformation came to the rescue and unlocked the door, and she asked if I was there for the 6:30 HIIT or TRX class. Hmm – no, I’m here for spin at 6:15? I double checked my ClassPass reservation and saw that while yes, it was at 6:15, it was actually at 6:15 pm. Ahhh!!

On Sunday when I was booking my class, I used the ClassPass website instead of the app, which has a new feature that recommends classes for you based on your previous classes. I saw spin at 6:15, which I know is a class I’ve taken before, so I signed up. Oops. I guess I should have looked at the class listing more carefully!

Luckily, the lady who let me in was very accommodating and she let me sign up for a 6:30 am TRX class instead. It was also really lucky that I wore my regular sneakers, since a lot of times when I take spin I wear my comfy Uggs and then change into my spin shoes right before class. Crisis averted!

I was then led into the TRX studio, where I sat and looked at my phone for 15 minutes while I waited for class to begin. I tried not to think about that extra 15 minutes of sleep I could have gotten. Sigh.

IMG_9466

Soon enough our instructor Erika arrived and walked us through our workout for the day!

We began with four minutes of as many rounds as possible of 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, and 10 squats. Then we rowed 850 meters on the rower. Truthfully, I started hating that rower after a while. Get me off of that thing! We also did a couple of planks and side planks to finish off the warm up.

Next it was time for our circuit of the day! Erika had us complete three rounds of the following:

    • 30 tuck jumps
      • Plank holds
    • 20 weighted jumping lunges
      • Up and down push-ups with feet in the TRX
    • 40 plank jacks with feet in the TRX
      • Weighted squats

This wound up being a partner exercise so while one person completed the first exercise (e.g., 30 tuck jumps) the other person would hold a plank. Then we would switch, until we’d each done the two exercises three times. After that, we moved on to the next set of two exercises (e.g., 20 weighted jumping lunges and push-ups).

IMG_9465

This was a really tough workout, it reminded me a bit of the Kayla Itsines workouts that I used to do/still do on occasion. I can’t say I missed the tuck jumps or weighted jumping lunges! Everything was also much harder with our feet in the TRX bands, which I’ve learned from past workouts at Urban Athletic Club. Phew. It was definitely a hard workout, and I’m actually glad that I mixed up the spin class time so I could try something new!

At the end of class during our stretch, I realized I didn’t pay my parking meter because the 6:15 spin class was supposed to end at 7:00 am (the time you have to start paying) and with the class confusion I forgot to go back out and pay it. Erika mentioned that the meter maids were outside right as we were wrapping up class, so I high-tailed it out of there and arrived at my car right before I got a ticket. Side note: I also packed myself a delicious salad for lunch about an hour later, and then left it on my counter. What a Monday!

Anyway, the TRX class at Reformation Fitness wound up being really great, and I will definitely be back. When my hair is sweaty and my face is red, you know it was a good one!

IMG_9467

By the way, if you want to use my ClassPass referral code, you can get $20 off your first month!

Question of the day: Please tell me about something stupid you’ve done recently to make me feel better. 🙂

 Posted by on February 23, 2016
Aug 252015
 

Raise your hand if you remember when my every day lunch used to look like this.

Yep, anyone who has been reading CET for more than a year or so may remember that I used to have this same exact lunch every day at work: a sandwich thin with turkey, American cheese, and mayo and/or mustard, plus carrots and hummus on the side. I ate this meal almost every day for years and I never, ever got tired of it. In fact, I bet if you put one of those lunches down in front of me right now, I would still lovingly cherish every bite. Yum.

However, I can’t tell you the last time I ate a lunch that looked like that. Now my lunches look more like this, and I love them just as much. Plus they are more filling, nutritious, and wholesome than the crap I was eating before.

So, what changed?

Last May, I got pretty bored with my fitness routine and decided to switch things up by purchasing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body program (I still cringe at that name…ick). At the time, I thought the workout guide had the most bang for its buck and I’ve even recommended that if people can’t afford to purchase both the nutrition plan and the workout guide, they should just buy the workout guide. For someone who “already ate pretty healthy,” I didn’t think I really needed a nutrition plan and the workouts could be done over and over again, making them seem like the better option for anyone who didn’t want to buy both. I stuck with this belief for quite a while, but now, more than a year later, I might be changing my tune.

You see, Kayla’s nutrition plan got me in the habit of tracking my meals again. While I have tried almost every food tracking app there is (MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers, Fooducate, etc.) I usually found it tiresome to track every ingredient in every meal and eventually after a couple of weeks I would stop using the tracker. With Kayla’s plan I started tracking servings – servings of protein, vegetables, healthy fats, etc. – and this ultimately made it easier to stick to.

To track my food I kept a note in my phone, and each day I would compare how many actual servings of each food group I was eating compared to my goal. (The number of servings you aim for can/should be different for everyone depending on your goals, so you may not want to follow exactly what I have shown below.) Having a simple note to keep myself accountable was really easy and helpful, and though I still eventually stopped tracking everything in the note, I did keep it going for much longer than any of my other tracking attempts.

The biggest surprise for me during this time was realizing that I wasn’t getting nearly enough vegetables in my diet. Yes I would eat a serving of fruit or vegetables with every meal, but carrots on the side of my little sandwich thin just wasn’t cutting it. I realized that if I was going to consume enough veggies to meet the goals of the plan, I would need to start boosting up the veggie volume during lunch.

Enter, the salad!

At first, I was pretty crappy at making salads. I just didn’t know what would taste good together and I usually wound up starving and unsatisfied after eating one. Eventually after playing around with a bunch of combinations, I finally found something that really worked for me. Here’s how I make salads that truly satisfy my tummy and taste buds.

What I put in my salads

  • Mixed greens. I like buying one bag of spinach and one bag of “power greens” or other mixed greens.
  • Pre-cooked chicken. Costco has great grilled chicken breasts that come in a two-pack; I usually keep one pack in the fridge and one in the freezer for later. Sometimes I’ll buy a Rotisserie chicken instead.
  • A grain. I usually have quinoa or brown rice.
  • Some kind of crunchy veggie. I like buying bags of either broccoli slaw or shredded carrots. If I don’t have these, I’ll just chop up some carrots.
  • Something sweet. I suggest either Craisins, sweet corn, or any fresh fruit like strawberries, apples, or blueberries. Roasted sweet potatoes also work great!
  • Tasty cheese. I like feta or, on special occasions, goat cheese.
  • Healthy salad dressing. Usually I make my own dressing with olive oil + balsamic vinegar + spicy mustard + salt + pepper. On rare occasions I’ll buy a pre-made dressing without a lot of funky ingredients.

Costco chicken

[Source]

How I pack up my salads for work

Sundays are usually my prep days for salads, and on this day I’ll cook up some quinoa or brown rice and package everything together. Once the quinoa or rice has cooled, I’ll divide it into four or five (depending on how much I made) small tupperware containers. Then I’ll add some of the precooked chicken to the tupperware containers and pop them into the fridge.

Next I usually make a big batch of salad dressing and pour them into smaller tupperware containers that are the perfect size for salad dressing (I think I got mine at the Container store, but I’ve seen them in random aisles of the grocery store). Again, I’ll usually make enough dressing for four or five salads, depending on how much quinoa or rice I made. Once these are done, they go into the fridge too!

In the morning to finish up my salad before work, I’ll add the greens, crunchy veggie, sweet item, and cheese into a big salad tupperware container. Then I’ll pack it up in my lunch bag (these days a recycled Lululemon bag that has seen better days) and throw in the dressing and the grain/chicken tupperware (that’s three separate tupperware containers for those who are counting…we use a lot of tupperware!). I then toss in an apple for my afternoon snack and I’m ready to go to work!

How I assemble my salads at work

I start by heating up the grain and chicken mixture because I’ve found that I really enjoy having a warm element to my salads. When it’s hot, I’ll take turns adding the dressing and the grains/chicken to the salad, and then I pop the lid back on my big tupperware container to shake everything up. This is why having a big container is key – it allows everything to move around and get evenly coated with dressing. And then, voila! A perfectly delicious sweet, salty, savory, healthy salad for lunch.

Through all this trial and error, I found that I really need some sort of grain in my salad to keep me feeling full. Otherwise I get hungry again a couple hours later! I also really like having something sweet in my salads since it helps me rein in my sweet tooth after my meal.

If you’ve tried doing the whole salad for lunch thing and you just can’t get into it, I highly recommend playing around with different flavor combinations until you find something that really makes you happy. Now I can’t imagine going back to the sandwich – even though it is still tasty – because of all the crappy ingredients in there. I just feel so good after a giant, wholesome, filling, delicious salad!

Question of the day: What do you usually eat for lunch?

Psst: Read more about my experience with the Kayla Itsines plan here

 Posted by on August 25, 2015