Monday, April 7, 2014

Life-Changing Eating and Exercise

Last week a few of you emailed me to ask about the eating/exercise plan I’m doing -- how it was working, how much it was, and do I like it. Let me try to give you the basics of what I’m doing and what a typical day on this plan looks like! And YES! I LOVE it!

If you want to know how I got started with the eating plan, you can read my first post, here and see my Before pic, here. But, just a disclaimer, as with most things, I changed this plan a bit to suit my lifestyle and needs. And you should too!

I’m doing the Beach Body Challenge: 21-Day Fix (more here).

Essentially, it comes down to what most exercise plans are about: eating smaller portions/healthier foods and exercising every day. The difference is that the Beach Body community and this program offer a lot of support to keep you on track, and you get the Shakeology mix, which is the best meal-replacement shake I’ve tried. You can read more about Shakeology here.

Okay, so here is how I “cheat,” or twist this plan to my lifestyle, as a super-busy mom.

The plan has different containers, and per your calorie-requirement (which you calculate at the beginning per the booklet you receive with the plan), you are allowed to eat a certain number of containers (fruits, veggies, starches, fats, etc.) each day.

You’re supposed to eat every two hours. Once I figured out my requirements, I planned my breakfast, morning snack, and lunch to bring to work. I do most of my prep in the morning, and it takes about 20 minutes.

Breakfast (8am) – Shakeology, English muffin with almond butter, fruit goes in the Shakeology
Morning Snack (10am) – Yogurt, almond butter, veggie, fruit
Lunch (12pm) – Cabbage salad with almonds, homemade fat-free dressing, protein (ham, turkey, or leftover meat from dinner).

Then, all hell breaks loose and I deviate a bit from the plan. After lunch, I go get E. Sometimes I have to run errands, and I miss my 2pm snack which should be more fruits and veggies. I try to have a banana in my bag or some other quick fruit or veggie. Then, when I get home, I snack on fruits/veggies until dinner if I get hungry.

At dinner, I pretty much eat the same things I always ate. I make sure to have a protein, a starch, a veggie, and I’m allowed a fat! I make the same things for my family I always have. My meatloaf is made with the leanest meat I can find, ketchup, and bread crumbs (small amount of fat/starch). I make chicken meals with fat-free BBQ sauce or fat-free curried honey-mustard. I usually make these dressings by mixing the simplest of ingredients – literally, honey, Dijon-mustard, and curry powder.

The 21-day fix eating plan has great dressing recipes too! If my dinner includes some extra fat (cooking in oil, etc.), I eliminate it somewhere else in my plan. If I make mashed potatoes, I make them with fat-free Greek yogurt and salt, instead of butter. I always have a steamed veggie with each dinner.

At dinner, I keep my containers handy just to eyeball about how much I should have of each portion, and I stick to one plate of food. If I’ve had my Shakeology in the morning and eaten all my snacks throughout the day, I’m NOT hungry after dinner and can turn down late-night snacks, even after eating a smaller-portioned dinner.

So, the take-away for me, with eating, has been – don’t freak out over the containers. Focus on your morning and lunch, then do your best to get through the most chaotic part of your day. Try to eat every 2 hours, and if it’s too busy to count containers, just grab an easy-to-prep fruit or veggie for your snack. Bananas are disappearing like we have monkeys in the house! Also, I buy ready-to-eat shredded cabbage for salads (doesn’t get mushy in dressing in your lunch box), ready-to-eat carrot sticks, grapes – all easy-to-grab!
Apple peeler, and cardio exercise! Haha!

I also bought a $20 apple peeler/slicer (on Amazon here, or I got mine at the local Cider Mill)! Anything to make eating healthier easier is worth the money! We use our apple peeler almost every day. It makes the perfect size slices for E, too!

This is where the lifestyle change is really coming into play for me. On this plan, I eat more (but healthier) – pretty easy. But exercise is the hardest thing for me to work into my day, though I admit that it’s usually because of my lack of motivation.

I absolutely love the DVDs that come with this 21-Day Fix challenge. I’ve only done Cardio and Yoga so far, but those two workouts alone are worth buying the pack.

The idea is that you work out every day on this plan (for only 30 minutes).

BUT, I honestly don’t always have 30 minutes to do a workout in front of the TV. I work mornings then have E from 1pm-6:30pm, when she goes to bed, and then I do freelance work in the evening usually until 11:30pm or midnight. When I don’t have freelance work, I like to work on my blog and prints/cards to sell, etc.

I also HATE working out at night. I love to do it first thing in the morning, but the reality is that (especially if I go to bed at midnight), I’m not giving up an extra half hour of sleep in the morning.

So, my advice in terms of working out is to not think of it as working out. Think about how you want to be more active, both on your own and as a family. Then, let the workouts on this DVD complement that lifestyle change.

I knew last year that I wanted to spend more time outside with my daughter. If you just take your kids outside or to the park, you’re going to get a workout. You’re going to lift them into a swing, push the swing, chase them, play. Offer to spin them, fly them, give them piggy-back rides. If they’re happy to play on their own, walk or jog around the park while they play.

Bike ride, go for hikes, explore. Once a week, go to the local pool or kids' gym. Play, play, play! That’s how we stayed fit when we were kids, not by working out on a treadmill or in the gym, but by having fun. The other day E asked me over and over (and over) again to give her horsey rides around the living room. I thought I was going to die, but I did it for 20 straight minutes, broke out in a sweat, and called it Cardio. It counts! And, the soundtrack of that workout was my kid laughing hysterically. How sweet is that?

Then, on days when I don’t get outside, or we have a lot of errands to run, I turn to my DVDs. I do them with E in the afternoon, or I push myself to do them after she’s in bed, and I get in a great workout that makes me feel good and gives me energy.

Autumn’s 21-Day Fix has workouts that are tough, but I can do them! She also shows you modifications, easier positions, that help you get the same results even if you can’t do every exercise she can do.

At first I was a little disappointed in myself for not being able to follow this plan exactly, 100% by the book and DVDs, but I’ve lost 7lbs so far, and I’m about half-way through the program. I’m down to 198lbs (from 205), and I feel so ready to start my summer, steadily heading toward my goal weight of 175, while spending MORE time with my kid and having more energy to be active with her!

And, changing the plan to suit my needs and lifestyle means that I can continue this plan long after the 21 days are done, because it fits into my life, and I’m motivated because I’m exercising how I want to. I can splurge a bit when I do eat out and always know how to get right back on track by grabbing my containers and popping in a DVD.

Honestly, the pricing was a little expensive for our budget right now. I saved up, because I just wanted to try the product. I got the coach discount which meant that I got Shakeology for $130 for the first month and will be able to get it for less each month going forward at the coach’s rate. Still, considering that this replaces a meal and has replaced the cost (and improved the nutrition) of grabbing a quick bagel at the local café on mornings when I used to forget my breakfast, it really is a great deal and will actually save us money.

The workout plan was about $50 and completely worth it. It's a one-time cost eating and exercise plan, that is a great guide for living healthy long after your 21-Day Challenge is complete.

What worked best for me was getting the complete package – challenge pack with Shakeology and continuing to get the monthly shipment of Shakeology. I’m hooked on this product and will continue to use it for as long as I can.

If you’re interested in trying out this plan, just shoot me an email (on Facebook or, and I’ll help you get set up!

No comments: