Aug 262014

Although I did not wind up completing the full 12-week Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide program, 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.


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.


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
Jul 222014

It’s been a little while since we’ve chatted about my latest fitness routine, so I thought today would be a good time for an update.

As most of you probably know, I have been slowly but surely working my way through the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide eBooks, a 12-week nutrition and exercise program designed to help you get a “bikini body.” While I think this name is really lame and having a “bikini body” totally goes against all my health and wellness principles, the workouts are no joke and have totally kicked my booty into shape. The nutrition plan is also really helpful, and I’m so glad I decided to give these eBooks a chance. Bikini body or not, this program is a really good routine to follow if you’re looking for something new to keep you on track with your nutrition and fitness goals.

That being said, I haven’t been sticking to the routine as much as I was a couple months ago. When I first bought the eBooks, I followed the workouts to a tee and never missed a single Monday, Wednesday, or Friday workout. I was also tracking what I was eating, and throwing in a few other workouts here and there for good measure. I was super motivated and doing so well!

Then the summer came rolling right in, complete with flex Fridays, long weekends away from home, and fun activities with friends on weeknights. I am still working out 3-4 times a week, but sometimes it’s just a short run with Jack, or 2 of the 3 Kayla Itsines workouts I am supposed to do. I’m ok with that since summer is a fun time to enjoy yourself and I am still getting a good amount of workouts in, but I want to make sure I’m not slacking off too much and I have a strategic plan moving forward.

You may remember that on a run last week I was feeling a bit frustrated with my pace, and I mentioned that I felt like I had lost my running mojo. The run itself was fine and was still a lot of fun, but I just didn’t feel as fast or strong mentally as I used to.

The Kayla Itsines workouts are great for strength training and HIIT, but they can’t replace my love for running. Since my interest in these workouts seems to be waning slightly, and my desire to run more is definitely resurfacing, I’ve decided it’s time to switch things up a bit.

Last week I mentioned that I’ll be starting track workouts with Anne on most Thursdays, which should help my speed tremendously. I also want to get back into the habit of incorporating long runs into my weekend plans , since it’s one of my favorite things to do (last summer I used to squeeze in my long runs no matter where I was, so I know I can do that again). I would like to keep doing the Kayla Itsines workouts for cross-training purposes, but I might cut them down to twice a week instead of three times a week.

With all that work, it seems like maybe I should be working toward something, right? I mean, I have said over and over again that I enjoy my workouts most when I am working toward a goal. That being said- I think it’s time for me to run another half. I did two last year and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler earlier this spring, so it seems only natural that I should put another race on my calendar for the fall. (You may remember that I also won free entry to next year’s Rock N Roll half, but I don’t want to wait that long).

Oh heyyyy

I’m looking into fall races within driving distance of DC, so anything from NYC to Virginia Beach would probably work. At the moment I’m thinking of running the Baltimore Half with my friend Sam on October 18, but I haven’t signed up yet. I also am thinking about the Navy-Airforce Half because I have a coupon code (oooh yeah) and it will be a little easier for me logistically, but it’s on Sept. 14 which I don’t love (hello, heat). Has anyone run either of these races before? Is anyone signed up to run them this year? I could also do the Woodrow Wilson Bridge half again, but I think I want to switch things up and try a new race.

Anyway, that’s my latest update on my workouts lately. One big difference for me is that I don’t think Fabio is interested in running another half, so I will probably go out there solo or with a friend, though we will probably be running at different paces. It will be weird not to have my biggest supporter by my side, but he has promised to at least cheer me on from the sidelines!

Question of the day: Are you running any half marathons this fall, and/or do you have any recommendations for me?

 Posted by on July 22, 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!)


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!)

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.

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!


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!



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.



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!


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.


Because sometimes, you just need pizza.


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.



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:


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! 


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).


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.


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


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.


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).


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!).


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


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.


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!


**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).



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’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!



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.


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!



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 😉



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!



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.


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


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.


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:



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