A Girl Eats in Brooklyn

This past weekend, boyfriend and I journeyed back to Brooklyn for his mom’s birthday surprise party. For the first year of our relationship Matt was still living in Brooklyn, so I was usually there about twice a month. Since he’s moved to Boston I’m lucky to get there twice a year, so I was super excited to visit friends and hit up all our favorite haunts (mostly food/drink related…).

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All the Brooklyn Beers

Sadly, we were only there for a hot second. He had to work Friday until 2am, I had an orientation Monday at 7:45am, so we had roughly 24 hours actually in the city. Not to worry though – while we didn’t get to all of our favorite spots, I still managed to eat about 3x my body weight in those 24 hours. Because I’m not a quitter.

pizza Continue reading

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New Beginnings

Short Version:

For those of you who don’t know, I (semi) recently left my career in marketing to pursue a new degree and career in Nursing. I am loving on that decision even though nursing school is really, really hard.

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Long Version:

I knew marketing wasn’t for me from my very first internship in the summer of 2011. Turns out, sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week is not nearly as fun and interesting as analyzing high-profile case studies and attending lectures led by truly brilliant Professors for roughly 15 hours a week, while living with all of your friends and partying your face off every weekend.

Who knew?

I went into senior year in minor crisis mode. I had two semesters left to 1) find what would make me happy, 2) obtain enough credits to do it, and 3) land a job in a totally new field upon graduating.

Lol.

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Throughout the fall I toyed with different ideas – veterinary school, physical therapy, teaching English abroad, on and on. Ultimately, each option proved to be very expensive or very time-consuming or, usually, both. I decided to give marketing another shot. After all, one experience does not an entire industry make, and I did have this lovely, prestigious diploma that I had poured 4 years of time and effort into. So, armed with my business degree and a stubborn determination to make it work, off into the real world I went to find and rock my new career.

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After a grueling (and I do mean grueling) few months of job searching, I was lucky to be offered a position with the same company where I had interned the summer before. Small detour here, but if you are a new grad searching for a job please try not to get discouraged. It is a horrible, demoralizing process and we all go through it. The first one is the hardest, I promise it gets much easier after that (to this day I still have recruiters reaching out to me, and I’m not even in the field anymore…). As it turns out, this first job would end up being my favorite of the roughly 4 years and 4 positions I held in my brief stint in marketing.

You read that right. Four years, four positions. Clue #2 you might be in the wrong field: flight behavior. Clue #1 being that you are totally miserable.

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I actually really liked that first company I worked for, it was a fun product and I was able to work in a lot of different areas with fun and intelligent people. Some of my closest friends to this day are people I met in that first job, and I am certainly forever grateful for that piece. Still, something didn’t feel right, and I still couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I would spend the next couple of years bouncing from job to job, each time entering with a new hope and leaving discouraged that I still hadn’t found “the one.” As the months passed I was getting increasingly frustrated, mostly with myself. I was making very good money for someone my age, I had a secure job with more offers coming in every day, I had the expensive city apartment, the fancy gym membership (I mean, not Equinox fancy, but a few steps up from Planet Fitness…), I could go out for drinks on weeknights at Swanky new bars downtown and not have to think twice about the cost. In short, it was everything I thought I wanted. I was playing the part and drinking the Kool Aid, so WHY was I still feeling like something was missing?

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The turning point came last summer, July 2015. My grandmother had fallen and broken her hip in May, and two months of surgery and attempted rehab had not been enough. She wasn’t going to come back from this, and was going into hospice to live the rest of her days comfortably. At the time, I was working at one of Boston’s biggest and most well-known marketing agencies. I was up to my eyeballs in work and was mega-stressed about taking the time off to go see her. My boss, to his credit, encouraged me to go and assured me that the team would not crumble if I (the most junior member of the team, so in retrospect, duh) took some time to go spend with my family.

I’m not going to go into all the details of the last 9 days I spent with my grandmother. I actually wrote a post on it, edited it 3 times, and ultimately decided it was too personal to share. What I will say is this: yes, she was old and lived a long life, but I quickly learned that there is a difference between having a loved one die and watching a loved one die. Did I see her physically pass? No. But I did sit with her for hours feeling powerless while she lay in a morphine-induced coma and slowly faded away.

I ran a lot to try to distract myself, cried more than I ran, and drank more than I cried; and somewhere between the miles and the tears and the copious, copious amounts of wine consumed, I realized something. I didn’t care about my job. It was totally meaningless to me. I didn’t care about the work I was doing, I only cared that I got a paycheck so that I could fund all those things mentioned above. Despite all that, I had let this job cause me 2007-Britney-Spears-levels of stress and consume my entire life, to the point that I almost didn’t get to say goodbye to a family member I loved.

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Having never been hospitalized personally, this was my first real interaction with on-the-job nurses for any significant amount of time. I lived with a few nurses in college, but to be honest didn’t really understand the ins and outs of the profession. The comfort that those hospice nurses brought not only to my grandmother, but also to our grieving family really can’t be put into words. This was my “aha” new perspective moment: I needed a change, and nursing was it.

I had been teaching Group Exercise classes for about a year, so I knew I liked working with people and making a positive difference in their lives. I’ve also always been interested in holistic health and wellness. The switch made so much sense, it was almost laughable. As anyone who knows me can tell you, moderation is not my forte, so as with all things in my life I dove in head first. I started taking pre-requisite courses for accelerated second degree programs that August, was accepted into Salem State’s program in March, left my job in May, and haven’t looked back since.


As the cliche goes, hindsight is 20/20. It’s crystal clear to me now why marketing wasn’t a good fit, but that’s a story for another time. I traded in my apartment, my salary, my desk, and my laptop for student loans and scrubs. And I would do it again. A thousand times over.

It’s never too late for a new beginning. I don’t look at this as “starting over.” Starting over implies that everything before was for naught. I don’t regret my 4 years at Boston College, it was the best experience and I count myself beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to learn there. BC taught me how to think critically; how to analyze a problem, break it down, and solve it. It taught me how to study, how to take tests, and manage my time. I owe much of my academic success to that school, and I met some great friends there (I also had an absolute blast, so there’s that). My education and experience in business has served me well and continues to do so. I have a solid understanding of finance and economics. I know how to manage a budget. I’ve learned how to work with and for people, some more difficult than others. I’ve been on more interviews than I can count, and that is a skill that can really only be learned by practice. I’m taking all of this with me as I move forward in this new adventure.


Taking chances is scary. It’s also part of life. If you’re not happy, odds are there is a reason (or a few reasons). Find that reason and change it. Don’t be weighed down by what you were, become what you are now.

When I teach a Group Exercise class, my goal is simple: empowerment. I want my students to own their power. The power to improve, to better yourself, to change your life, and to be whatever and however you want to be.

You know, all of that hippie-dippie stuff you pick up living/working in the Cambridge area.

What better to take a chance on than yourself? Practicing what you preach, y’all. Apparently, it can change your life.

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If nothing else, I hope my story can inspire anybody who is considering making a change to go for it! My path is more uncertain than it has been in 4 years but somehow I’m cool as a cucumber, which as someone with anxiety is no small feat. I’ll end this with a quote from the Queen, because I have an enormous girl crush… and she’s right. I did it. Why not you?

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21 Day Fix – Results and Review

Before I begin, two things:

1) I am not a Beachbody coach. I will not be trying to sell you things and I have nothing to gain from posting a positive review.
2) Beachbody did not provide me with a sample NOR pay me to write this review. I do not have even close to the level of social influence needed for them to know or care that I exist.

So, in my unpaid, unbiased, and unfiltered opinion the short version is this: 21 Day Fix is an extremely effective program that is both sustainable and absolutely brilliant in it’s simplicity and ability to get results.

Results

I’m really not one for mirror selfies, and I am CERTAINLY not one for posting them on the internet. However, for the sake of a meaningful review I am stifling my pride long enough to hit “publish” then immediately trying to forget that it happened. Anyway, that’s not really the point.

The point is (because a “results” post without results would be pretty crappy) I lost 5 pounds and 7.5 inches on (a modified) 21 Day Fix.

Left: Before | Right: After

Left: Before Right: After

I say modified because I didn’t follow the Fix as precisely as maybe I should have on weekends. Ultimately, it was just too hard for me. I work at the gym on weekends and I want to see my friends. I’m not going to carry pre-portioned food around with me as I go about my life, it’s just not going to happen. I did my best to make healthy choices on the weekend, and I don’t feel the need to ask myself for anything more than that.

Left: Before | Right: After

I feel stronger, leaner, and more balanced than I did before. I gain and lose weight very evenly throughout my body. Always have and probably always will. Those 7.5 inches came from roughly 1-1.5 in each arm, thigh, waist, and hips. At the end of the fix, I felt truly awesome. Strong and proud and confident for (and this is hard to admit) the first time in a long, long time.

Left: Before | Right: After

Left: Before | Right: After

Do I look drastically different? Maybe not. It’s always harder to see results on yourself than it is on other people. I work out a lot and eat a very healthy diet as it is, so I wasn’t expecting crazy results. I’m psyched with what I got, and I’m proud of the progress I made (Look at that baby bicep forming – LOOK AT IT!). It was a hard 3 weeks of diligent meal planning and preparation, and I am really proud of myself for sticking with it.

Please do excuse my hair and general appearance in these pictures. Mornings are hard.

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Things I Learned (In no particular order):

  • I need to eat more earlier in the day. A small breakfast at 7:30am then trying to stick it out til noon does not cut it for me. By adding a snack between breakfast and lunch I found myself not counting down the minutes until 12:00pm and actually feeling satisfied with the lunch that I brought (which translates into not raiding the snack closet immediately after finishing said lunch).
  • I need to eat less at night. More specifically, I need to plan AND portion my dinner BEFORE I get home. By the time I get home after work my willpower is shot. I’m sleepy and hungry and probably grumpy, and left to my own devices I will eat everything in sight. Knowing exactly what foods and in what amounts I needed to eat when I got home kept me from overeating but definitely didn’t leave me feeling hungry either.
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  • 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough if you do it right. As in not going to the gym without a plan and end up lollygagging around for the better part of 2 hours trying to decide what to do and avoiding the things I don’t want to do (I’m looking at you, assisted pull-ups…). Work smart and work hard and 30 minutes is plenty.
  • Carbs are still really delicious and there is nothing anyone can ever say or do that will make me want less of them. Sorry.
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  • ^Ditto wine.
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Shakeology

Okay, here’s the deal. Shakeology is the bread and butter of Beachbody. They pitch it with every other product and program they market and I’m sure, given the price point, that they make a ton of money off of it. So I’m going to talk about it, and what I think after going through my free 7-day sample pack (I think they give the free sample to everyone who orders 21 Day fix without ordering Shakeology).

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Let me start by saying that I really wanted to hate Shakeology. I wanted to tell you it sucks. That it is useless and tastes like chalk and to not waste your money. And the sole reason I wanted to tell you that is because sometimes I just like to be contradictory. If I have people blowing up my newsfeed telling me how great something is, my first instinct is to want to tear it down. That’s probably a character flaw that I should work on, but I digress.

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I don’t feel that way. I actually ended up liking Shakeology (I chose the chocolate flavor, it comes in other flavors as well). It didn’t have that sicky-sweet, artificial flavor that a lot of protein powders have. For the sake of being PC, Shakeology is not a “protein powder” per se. It’s more of a meal replacement Shake, so it has more nutrients and recognizable ingredients than what you might see in a standard protein powder. I felt really good after drinking it. Heck, I even looked forward to it in the morning. I would blend it with 1 purple container of frozen berries and water, and it really tasted like a treat. In general, I have no complaints about Shakeology and am actually a fan of the product in and of itself.

Morning Shakeology Smoothie

Morning Shakeology Smoothie

But guys, seriously. Can we stop talking about this stuff like it’s made from unicorn blood and the tears of kittens?

Shakeology is not going to solve all of your problems. It is not going to save the world or cure cancer, so I think it would be helpful if people could stop talking about it like it is the greatest thing to come out of the health and fitness world since Richard Simmons.

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If you replace a meal with Shakeology, yes, you will lose weight. Why? Because it has under 200 calories, and I would bet that whatever meal you are replacing it with had a lot more calories than that. It’s just math.

I’m not here to dispute the health benefits of Shakeology. I know a lot of people who drink it daily and absolutely love it because they feel much better doing so. That’s great, and if you have the money and desire to give it a try then go for it! Like I said, I liked Shakeology. It definitely has some great nutritional value and I very much enjoyed it while I had it. But please, for crying out loud, be realistic.

If your “healthiest meal of the day” is a powder that comes from a bag, you might want to reevaluate your diet as a whole. I’m not saying that to be mean, I’m saying that because you probably need a few cups of vegetables and some fruit in your life. A bag of powder does not equal a plate of real vegetables. It just doesn’t. No matter what Beachbody or anybody else wants you to think.

Sorry 'bout it.

Sorry ’bout it.

Also, Shakeology is really expensive. There is no getting around that. Compare it to a $4 Starbucks Latte or a $4 fast food meal all you want, but I’m not buying those things on a daily basis (or ever). Compare Shakeology with my usual breakfast of oatmeal with sliced banana and cinnamon, which comes out to ~$0.75 per serving, and I am not sold.

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So, in summation, Shakeology is fine. If you are a person who has a hard time eating breakfast either because you feel like you don’t have time or just aren’t hungry in the morning, then absolutely Shakeology is a good option for you. It’s quick and nutritious and certainly better than not having breakfast at all. It’s also better than sugary cereals or bagels or other highly processed and refined (and delicious) carbohydrates. If you try Shakeology and love how it makes you feel, then great! But PLEASE don’t feel like this powder is the end all be all of your health journey. If you can’t stomach the price point (and right now, I cannot) then don’t drink Shakeology. There are plenty of other healthy alternatives out in the world for you to consume.

Dos and Don’ts of the 21 Day Fix

I think it’s pretty clear that I am a big fan of the 21 Day Fix and would recommend it to pretty much anyone. So to conclude this review – here’s a list of things to do and not do while on the 21 Day Fix.

DO plan your meals ahead of time. Especially towards the beginning of the program. The tally sheets are great, but don’t think that you can go into a day armed with just your containers and your tally sheets and no plan and think that it’s going to go well for you.

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DO try the workouts that are provided to you. If you end up hating them then you don’t have to do it again, but they are curated to work with the eating plan so they are at the very least worth a shot.

DON’T sign on for aggressive physical activity if you can avoid it. I had signed up for a race well before I decided to try the fix. Energy levels were definitely not where they should have been, and while my time was actually better than I was expecting I definitely did not feel good during or after.

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Casually Dying.

DON’T be too hard on yourself or give up the minute you slip up. You will slip up, I guarantee it. This is 100% NOT a big deal. Just get back on track as soon as you can. If you don’t slip up, you’re probably not human and we probably can’t be friends…

If you have used the 21 Day Fix and have tips, tricks, or recipes to share please leave a comment! I’d love to hear them for my next round (it will happen eventually…probably).

21 Day Fix Meal Plan

I’m closing in on the end of my first round of 21 Day Fix, and I have to say it took me at least half of these 21 days to really get a firm grasp on the meal plan.

And that’s a very generous estimate.

In light of that, I decided to document and share what a day of “Fix eating” looked like for me and my calorie range, which was 1,200-1,499. Since most of the fix approved foods are whole, unprocessed, and “clean” (if you will), it actually ends up being a pretty substantial amount of food. If you do decide to take on the Fix, hopefully this helps ease some concerns that you’re going to be starving and miserable (spoiler alert: you won’t, but I can’t promise you aren’t going to want to inhale all of the chocolate and fried food in sight).

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Please be advised that I am (clearly) NOT a food blogger. These are not beautifully plated, staged, and photographed culinary masterpieces. This is me sitting in my apartment or at work, portioning from my Fix containers to other containers, and doing my best to give you a realistic view of what you could be eating on this plan via my Samsung Galaxy S5.

You can split up your foods however you’d like. I believe Beachbody recommends 6 meals over the course of the day (3 smaller meals and 3 “snacks”). Don’t quote me on that, because frankly I’m too lazy to remove myself from my bed where I am comfortably writing this post and check. Regardless, some people choose to do it this way, I did not. I split my containers across 3 meals and 2 snacks. Do whatever works for you. If you aren’t sure, try both and see how you feel. Everyone’s body reacts differently so please don’t think that one way is better or worse than the other.

Breakfast: Protein Smoothie
-Protein Powder or Shakeology: 1 Red
-Frozen Mixed Berries: 1/2 Purple
-Ground flax meal: 1 Orange

-Coconut Oil: 1 tsp.
-Water

wpid-20150428_075853.jpg Best consumed while lounging in fuzzy slippers and avoiding getting ready to go to work.

Morning Snack: Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Sweet Potato Frittata
-See recipe for full list of ingredients. Basically eggs, veggies, cheese, spices.
-1/2 Red, 1 Green, 1 tsp.
-Also pictured: coffee. “Free” drink, as it should be. Thank God.

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This one is straight from the Beachbody blog. It was really satisfying and fairly easy to make. I discovered the blog recipes in my 3rd week and **highly** recommend using them. They give you the number of servings AND container amounts per serving. Lazy girl approved? Check.

Lunch: Spinach and Chicken Pasta
-Whole wheat pasta: 1 Yellow
-Spinach: 1 Green
-Chicken (poached)*: 1 Red
-Tomato Sauce: 1/2 Purple

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Pretty straightforward. I’m Italian. I love pasta. I like putting veggies in my pasta. I dislike having to portion it into that yellow container when really I want 6 yellow containers worth, but I guess that’s kind of the point…

*I almost always poach my chicken in water with a bunch of different herbs and spices. I like doing it this way for a number of reasons. It doesn’t add additional calories, it’s quick, the clean up is super easy, and if you add enough spices it ends up being delicious. If you detest poached chicken, don’t eat it. This should go without saying, but I have heard stories of so-called fitness professionals insisting that their clients eat certain foods even if that food triggers their gag reflex. At any rate, there are a bunch of ways to cook your chicken – poach, bake, slow cooker, grill, whatever floats your boat. If you hate chicken, change up your protein. This is one of my favorite things about 21 Day Fix. You have OPTIONS.

Afternoon Snack: Apple Baked Oatmeal
-See recipe for full ingredient list
-1 Yellow, 1 Purple, 1/2 Red

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Another one from the Beachbody blog. I have to be honest, I found this one to be kind of bland. It didn’t phase me, since I eat plain oatmeal pretty regularly the baked apples added enough sweetness for my taste, but if you are not used to eating this way you may not like this one so much.

Dinner: Pork Carnitas Lettuce Wraps with Cilantro Lime Yogurt Topping
-See recipe for full ingredient list
-1 Green, 1 Red, 1 Blue (add avocado or cheese, your choice for your blue container!)

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Guys. Make this dinner. Like now. Even if you aren’t on the 21 Day Fix.
This was SO easy and SO good. The recipes calls for tortillas, which would be delicious. I used lettuce wraps because I wanted to save my yellow container for elsewhere, and those were also really good! Do NOT skip the yogurt topping. Seriously. Don’t ask questions, just don’t do it. Also top with Sriracha for obvious reasons.

So there you have it. 4 Red, 3 Green, 2 Purple, 2 Yellow, 1 Orange, 1 Blue, and 2 tsp. Below are some of the other variations I have used over the last 3 weeks because again, options, you have lots of them. I used this free template from The Fitness Focus to plan and it was definitely a huge help in keeping me organized and on track.
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21 Day Fix has been a really positive experience for me so far (and you can trust me, because I’m not a Beachbody coach and really have nothing to gain from posting a positive review), and I’m looking forward to sharing my final results and review next week!

I’m also really looking forward to a cheeseburger.

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21 Day Fix

Last Monday I took the plunge and started the 21 Day Fix by Beachbody. For those who are unfamiliar with Beachbody, they are a massive company out of California that has created a number of at home fitness/workout programs, as well as healthy eating/nutrition programs (if your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram are perpetually blown up with pictures of “Shakeology” then you have encountered Beachbody). 21 Day Fix is a program that, at it’s core, teaches simple, healthy eating habits with an easy to follow plan over the course of 21 days. It also includes workout DVDs and a schedule of which workout to do on which day.

fix brand

I could go into lots of detail about the program, but you could Google “21 Day Fix” and find much better, comprehensive, and more interesting articles than I have the patience to write. They also have an infomercial, so next time you’re pretending to watch TV while really creeping on Facebook, go ahead and let that run in the background if you’re looking to get an idea.

fix inclusions

Instead I am going to talk about why I have chosen to do 21 Day Fix, my initial thoughts on the program and on Beachbody in general (with the caveat that this is the first time I have ever used any of their products), and generally why I feel that it is right for me. Hopefully it helps others who may be trying to decide if the program is a good fit for them.

Why 21 Day Fix?

Mostly I am just trying to get a grasp on portion control, and I am trying to do that without spending 3 hours counting out grains of rice and meticulously weighing every food item I don’t want to eat on a kitchen scale I don’t own. I honestly think that part of the reason it is so hard for people to lose weight is because we’ve made it so complicated and time consuming. I have 2 jobs, I like to go out with my friends, there are Game of Thrones episodes to be watched and books to be read, so you’ll be hard pressed to find me dedicating my free time to weighing out food, counting macros, or living on meal replacement shakes.

water WF

In terms of the foods I do eat, my diet is extremely healthy. Obsessively, obnoxiously, I-drink-kale-smoothies-and-insist-they-taste-good (they do, btw) healthy. I will lecture you on the benefits of chia seeds, I bring salads to work for lunch every day, and me & quinoa are pretty much BFF.

Standard grocery run.

Standard grocery run.

My fitness level is also pretty good. There is plenty of room for improvement, of course, but I’m in the gym 5-6 days a week doing different combinations of lifting, HIIT, chisel, yoga, running, etc. I also wear a Fitbit, and I make a point to get in the 10,000 recommended steps/day. Desk jobs are pretty lame, and mine is definitely wreaking havoc on my posture and general activity level, so wearing the Fitbit keeps me mindful of getting up and moving around throughout the day.

Unfortunately, even the healthiest foods when eaten in (what I assume to be) linebacker-esque quantities result in caloric intake that is much higher than the output that comes from 10,000 steps and an hour or 2 in the gym. This totally sucks, but it’s the sad truth.

sick of calories

Among my other bad habits (plural) are the following:

  • Not eating enough calories throughout the day. I then come home and want to inhale 14 pizzas.
  • Condiments. I love them. Completely obsessed. End result is a lot of excess calories and a LOT of sodium (I’m looking at you, ketchup).
  • Not eating enough fruit.
  • Portions. I already said it. I’m saying it again to really drive this point home.

daily calories

The Eating Plan

The 21 Day Fix is so simple. I cannot emphasize this enough. There are 6 different color-coded containers that correspond to different food groups – Vegetables (green), Fruits (purple), Protein (red), Carbs (yellow), Healthy Fats (blue), and Seeds/Dressings (orange). You are also given a teaspoon allotment for oils and nut/seed butters (peanut, almond, whatever you want).

containers
You use a simple formula based on your current weight to determine your target calorie range for the 21 days, and that range determines how many of each container you get each day.

calorie target
Each container comes with a list of approved foods. The eating plan booklet also has dressing recipes, seasoning mixes, meal ideas, and examples of what a full day of eating might look like. There are “free” foods like vinegars and mustards to add some flavor, coffee and tea ideas, you can also swap out containers for things like wine, chocolate, and other deliciousness a few times a week.

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There are a lot of foods to choose from. For a full list – check out this PDF from The Exercise Movement. What I love about the food list is that it emphasizes real, unprocessed, wholesome foods. The lists are even written in order of most nutritious to least by container, which I think is a cool thing in terms of teaching people how to eat well.

The Workouts

Each day of the week has a different workout assigned to it. So 7 workouts in total plus the “10 Minute Fix for Abs” that you can add to any day if you’re looking for a little bit extra. In order (Mon-Sun): Total Body Cardio, Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Pilates Fix, Cardio Fix, Dirty 30 (circuit workout), and Yoga Fix. Each workout is roughly 30 minutes, and you can stream them from the Team Beachbody website or use the DVD’s they send with the program.

fix workouts

Originally I was not planning on doing the 21 Day Fix workouts. I have my own workouts and classes that I like to do, and to be honest I was snobbily not expecting much from a 30 minute workout DVD.

I take it back, Autumn Calabrese. You have kicked my ass harder in 30 minutes via DVD than I do in the gym on a regular basis.

autumn

You have also officially made my list of girl crushes ❤

The workouts really surprised me (in a good way!). They are dynamic, challenging, and I love that they are only 30 minutes because I have no excuse to not get it done every day. However, sometimes the “home workout” aspect can be a huge challenge. I live on the 2nd floor of an old building, so I can’t really do the cardio workouts because they require a lot of jumping that I’m sure the downstairs neighbors would not be okay with. On those days I take my laptop to the gym, which is doable but not ideal. You’ll also need two sets of dumbbells and a mat, not a huge investment but something to consider before starting.

Not Ideal.

Not Ideal.

Shakeology

I feel like you can’t talk about Beachbody without talking about Shakeology. I received a free sample pack with my 21 Day Fix, but I am going to refrain from giving my opinion on it until I have finished the entire thing. However, know that if you are going to try a Beachbody program, they are going to aggressively pitch Shakeology until your ears bleed.

Week 1 Thoughts

With 1 week down I was feeling really good about the program overall. I have to admit, the first 3 days were ROUGH. I was hungry and irritable. My energy levels plummeted. I was also really, really sick of washing my containers (we don’t have a dishwasher, so it’s all hand wash for this girl). Luckily since the workouts are only 30 minutes I was still able to get them done even though I wasn’t feeling up to it.

The end of the week was much better. I had read reviews where people said “you won’t feel hungry” or “you won’t even need all of your containers” and I finally started to see how this would be true. I never felt really full, but I wasn’t hungry either. I could have eaten 20 more carb containers, but if I came to the end of the day and I could have had another half serving of fruit, I didn’t feel like I needed it. This program is majorly helping me learn to tell the difference between hunger and cravings.

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In the first couple of days I did lose a couple pounds, but mostly I think I lost a lot of bloat. This program cuts sodium in a big way which has been huge for me. I have noticed a difference in how I feel in that my meals never make me feel sluggish, puffy, or downright sick.

I’ve also been seeing results from the workouts. I like going to the gym, but I really like not having to spend hours there. I’m feeling and looking stronger from 30 minutes a day. This program is really driving home the fact that you can’t out-train a bad diet, and since my nutrition and portions are in line I still feel really good after just 30 minutes.

Week 2 Thoughts

I am most of the way through week 2, and have to admit that I have cheated twice this week (I had froyo and some celebratory snacks with my coworkers after a really positive review from the client – SUE ME).

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Small slip-ups aside, my meals have been perfectly planned and portioned all week. If I do have a treat (read: wine), I either get a bit more exercise in or I don’t fill my containers all the way at dinner. I’m not perfect, I didn’t expect to be going into this. 21 Day Fix has just made me very mindful of everything that I’m putting into my body, and I think that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Another thing that this program has made me realize is that there will always be “something” happening to cause you to fall off of your healthy eating habits. I put “something” in quotes because it could be any number of things, and you have to learn to identify what those are for you and your life. For me, I have declined roughly 8-10 invitations for drinks, lunches out, free candy (not from a sketchy guy in a van), and dinners with friends.

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Do I wish I could say I have 100% followed the program to a T every day since I started? Of course. But I also don’t feel bad about the couple of times I’ve “slipped up” because I’m a realist. I have a fairly high stress job and a lot going on in my life, so if it is a choice of froyo or homicide, this girl is going to opt for froyo every time. And again, for every 1 thing that I have accepted there are about 5 that I have turned down. Balance, y’all. It’s a thing.

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Coming Up – WEEK 3!

Next week is my final week, and I am going to really, really focus my efforts and try to follow the plan to a T. Last weekend I was not prepared, and while I did make healthy choices because I was very aware of my eating habits, I have no idea if they fit the program because I didn’t have my containers with me or any sort of plan. This weekend, I’m going to have everything prepped so that I’m good to go no matter what the weekend throws at me.

Here’s to hoping this positive attitude stays with me throughout the final stretch of the fix. My poor boyfriend is probably going to go into hiding otherwise. I’m not fun when you take my wine away.

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Spring Fever

Back in November (read: last time I posted), I unknowingly and most unfortunately foreshadowed the upcoming season.

“Also it’s starting to get pretty cold, and once the snow hits running is going to be a no-go. I am going to have muster up 99% of my willpower to drag myself to the gym after work, and use the remaining shreds to not eat all the food and drink all the wine when I get home. It’s going to be a long winter.

Just hating everything.

Just hating everything.

This winter, as predicted was long and terrible. The longest and most terrible, in fact, depending on what statistics you’re using. Boston broke records, as in more than one, with all of the fluffy white bullshit that fell from the sky.

WTF.

WTF.

    1. Snowiest total season, with 110.6 inches*
    2. Snowiest month, February with 64.8 inches*
    3.  On the list of top 10 heaviest  Boston snowstorms, numbers 6 and 7 were back to back – January 26-27 and February 7-10.*
      *Any of these may be outdated, as the snow continued LONG after it should have. Whatever. You get the idea. You also have a search engine at your disposal, should you absolutely need an exact figure.

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Among the official records, are others that, while most likely will not be seen in any official record books, are worth noting nonetheless.

  1. Most consecutive Mondays NOT worked due to snow: 5 (The entire month of February)
  2. Most residents hurling themselves out of windows due to some combination of desperation/cabin fever.
  3. Most miles not run due to lack of snow shoes and being physically unable to get out the front door.
  4. Most self-restraint exhibited by an entire city for not torching their unreliable and infuriating public transportation system.

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Generally speaking, I really like winter. I find it refreshing and I’m pretty sure I would lose my mind living somewhere that didn’t have seasons. As an avid skier, I also really like snow. A lot. I was lucky enough to be able to do some absolutely epic skiing out in Vail for the first time this past February.

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However, there were multiple occasions where we were unable to go skiing back home or really do anything at all because there was TOO much snow. Roads closed, mountains closed, everything shut down. When there is so much snow that it actually inhibits the ability to do snow-based sports, we have a problem.

At any rate, you get the idea, there was a lot of f*cking snow. The city was a bit of a death trap, complete with narrow, ice-covered sidewalks and roads that were not much better. Needless to say, running didn’t happen. Even now at the beginning of April there is still some snow on the ground that refuses to melt, even though most of it is gone. Luckily, the sidewalks are clear, the weather is getting warmer, and we are entering one of my most favorite times of year here in Boston.

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We Bostonians LOVE our Spring. Love. We love it because we have 4 months of pent-up energy and a serious Vitamin D deficiency that needs remedying. We love it because we are a city of runners who get to play host to one of the greatest races in the world, the Boston Marathon. We love it because the Red Sox return to Fenway, and we always look forward to the new season as a fresh start regardless of 86-year curses or other such silliness. We love it so much that my office closed at 2pm on the first day of nice weather for absolutely no reason other than it was tolerable outside.

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Our long winters make the nice days indescribably precious to us. We don’t waste a single minute of sunshine because there is a good chance that the next day we could be buried in soul-crushing, apocalyptic levels of ice. In some states, residents don hats and gloves in 50-degree weather, lest they risk hypothermia/frostbite/death. Here in New England, 50-degree weather means that restaurants open their patios for some beautiful al fresco dining, and we carve out seats in the snowbanks to catch some rays.

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There is an unparalleled energy that radiates from the city and all of it’s people in the spring when the weather begins to turn. Mostly, you feel it coming from the shit-eating grins on the faces of absolutely everyone outside, regardless of what they are doing. So, in the spirit of “who cares, it’s nice out!” I decided that in spite of the fact that I have done exactly 0 running between November and March I should sign up for not 1, but 4 races.

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I should probably be more concerned than I am, but I really feel like my body is in a good place right now for the first time in years. I love running, and I have no intention of stopping, but I’ve finally realized (aka admitted) that there is a lot more to total body wellness than just running. You have to lift weights, you have to keep a healthy diet, you DEFINITELY have to stretch, you should probably make a legitimate effort to get sufficient sleep, and, not for nothing, there are more effective forms of cardio that can burn a lot more calories a lot faster (not the end all be all of exercise, but worth noting).

With all of that in mind, I spent the winter training in ways that I had never given the focus they deserve before. Lifting actual weights, HIIT, kickboxing, Bodyshred – these became my regular day-to-day workouts and I think/hope that they have paid off! Am I in the best shape of my life? Certainly not, but my joints aren’t killing me and I don’t have to carve 2 hours out of my day to workout because higher intensity = better workout in less time. Win Win.

30 Minutes of Bodyshred - Aftermath.

30 Minutes of Bodyshred – Aftermath.

But back to running. I’m registered for the BAA Distance Medley, which includes the 5k (April), 10k (June), and half marathon (October). I’m also really excited to be running my third Harpoon 5 Miler this May to raise money for ALS research! The race is a blast and the after party is even better, and all for a great cause.

I’m looking forward to getting back into running, but I’m also looking forward to actually being smart about it (I’m full of novel ideas). Here’s to hoping my high and mighty attitude about my balanced workouts is actually warranted, and I’m not going to be sidelined with an injury in 3 weeks.

#TBT

#TBT

Busy Season

I’ve been a busy busy bumblebee. It seems like in the last month all the things happened all at the same time.

Ever since I was 5 years old, fall has been an epic struggle for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall – the weather and the leaves and football and pumpkin flavored everything. Emotionally, however, I just always have a really hard time adjusting to life, even if life isn’t changing. I can’t explain it, anxiety disorders are a strange thing, but every year for the last 20 years it happens and has happened.

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Much like accountants have a busy season at the beginning of the year (which, from what I hear, is dreadful), I too have a busy season. From September-November I load my life with so much crap that I don’t have time to stop and think about anything. Similarly, any time I am stressed (whether in the fall or not) I tend to keep putting more on my plate until I don’t have a free minute in any day. In theory this should stress me out more, but I find that too much free time makes me anxious. Yes, you read that right. Relaxing makes me anxious. Go figure.

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This fall has been no different. So here is the rundown of what I have been doing since my last post in October, aka my laundry list of excuses for not blogging:

1) I got a new job
I left one marketing agency for another (albeit, much bigger) marketing agency. Changing jobs is always hard. I’ve been lucky in my last (and only) two positions to meet and become friends with some truly talented, intelligent, and all-around great people. The new job is a fairly different role for me, and I’m excited to see how much I can learn from it. I am 1 week in and so far so good. The people are great, the office is really great (we have a tap room – marketing perks), and I think the role is going to be a very good fit.

marketing

Career wins.

2) I got another new job
I’ve started working part time in reception at a gym. My gym, to be specific. Fitness is something that has always interested me, so when I saw that my gym was hiring I thought it could be a really great way to dip my toe in the industry water, if you will. Also free membership + some extra cash. So, win and win = more job wins.

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I also figured it would be a really great way to get an “in” at one of Boston’s gyms, because…

3) I *finally* got my ACE Group Fitness Certification

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I’ve been interested in being a group fitness instructor since I was 19. The summer before my sophomore year at BC, I went out to Connecticut for 1 day to get my Zumba Instructor Certification. Here is my advice for anyone who is interested in becoming a group fitness instructor – do your research. I am going to repeat that for emphasis – DO. YOUR. RESEARCH.

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Many specialty/branded group exercise classes have their own certifications, typically a 1 day workshop, sometimes with a practical exam and/or written exam afterwards, but sometimes not. The stricter, more intense ones will require proof that you are already a certified group fitness instructor, the rest don’t care as long as your check doesn’t bounce. However, most gyms will NOT hire you without a group fitness instructor certification. Period.

This is the mistake I made, I got my Zumba certification without researching what I would need to actually teach in a gym. It expired without my ever getting to use it. Furthermore, these certifications are EXPENSIVE. My ACE package cost me around $300, and it makes sense to get the package, because the test alone will run you $250 (more on ACE to come later). Most workshops for specific classes cost at least $200, with varying degrees of ludicrous-expense depending on how far in advance you sign up. That doesn’t even include additional materials, instructor networks, or any of the other “add ons” you need to continue to teach and maintain your certification.

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However, sometimes you get lucky and you get an email 3 days before a workshop for a class that hasn’t even hit your city yet – and they offer you HALF off. So yesterday….

4) I took the Jillian Michaels BODYSHRED workshop
BodyShred is the latest bit of magic to come out of the Jillian Michaels empire. It has been around for a couple of years, but hasn’t really hit Boston just yet. For anyone who doesn’t know (and if you don’t know, we’ve probably never met), I have a huge girl crush on Jillian Michaels. I think she is an absolutely amazing, kick-ass human being and I would give ANYTHING to meet her. In lieu of meeting her, I just watch her shows, go to her speaking tours, and buy her workout DVDs. Not that I’m totally creepy.

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Naturally when I heard that she was launching a group exercise army, I had to be a part of it. The workshop was all day from 9-6, and it started with us taking a class in it’s entirety. Within the first 4 minutes, I thought I was going to die. The class is only 30 minutes long, and I got my ass absolutely handed to me.

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The rest of the day was spent studying methodology, class format/sequence, exercise options, and all of that good stuff. I passed the practical exam on site, and have 2 weeks to take and pass the online written exam. I am so beyond excited to start teaching this, and once it happens I’ll do a much more in-depth post about it. For now, suffice it to say that people are busy, and a class that can give you a total body workout in 30 minutes is, in my book, pretty flippin’ awesome.

4) I went to Florida
I have family in Florida, and when I realized that I would have some time off between jobs I knew I had to get down there to see them. The fact that it was going to be in the 80s and sunny all week didn’t hurt either. I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle, who are always so overly-generous and accommodating. My aunt also makes absolute magic in the kitchen, meaning I ate way too much and have zero regrets about that.

Shrimp & grits with collard greens. Drool worthy.

Shrimp & grits with collard greens. Drool worthy.

I also got to spend some time with my adorably confused grandparents, who are 93 years old and still killing it. It was such a great week and I came back feeling totally refreshed, well-rested, and tan. Tan in Boston in November. Win, win, win.

It's hard being me.

It’s hard being me.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Now that my work schedule has changed, my workOUT schedule is also going to have to change. I’ve been completely spoiled by the fact that I was able to work out during lunch at my old office. No such luck anymore. Also it’s starting to get pretty cold, and once the snow hits running is going to be a no-go. I am going to have muster up 99% of my willpower to drag myself to the gym after work, and use the remaining shreds to not eat all the food and drink all the wine when I get home.

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It’s going to be a long winter.

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