An Unbiased PiYo and Shakeology Review – Week 3

I am not a Beachbody coach. I am not being compensated for this review. My goal PiYo Motivationis to provide real information about my experience with this program. I will be checking in weekly and posting my results at the bottom of each entry. For the start of my review, check out Week 1Week 2 .

Today is my first day of week four of Beachbody’s PiYo teamed with clean, portioned eating through the 21 Day Fix. I have been religiously following the workout calendar, drinking vegan chocolate Shakeology and checking in with my accountability group and Beachbody Coach daily.  Now that I am done with week three, here are my thoughts:

The Workouts:

This week was my toughest one yet with the workouts – which means I felt the most accomplished. 🙂 Week four starts to transition away from the “Define” workouts to the tougher ones focused on specific trouble areas. This week I was introduced to the “Buns” and “Strength Intervals” workouts.

Buns: Your glutes and thighs will be crying after this one, but that’s how you know you are getting stronger. It brings back my nemesis move: burpees but Chalene rotates those with squats so you get some relief. Did I just say doing squats is relief?? The instructions are easy to follow and the music is enjoyable. Chalene has some classic one liners, like most of the DVDs, but she dropped this fact that I had to share: ” The legs are the key to your metabolism.” It’s a GREAT point – the legs have tons of muscles in them and comprise half your body, working them thoroughly is going to really accelerate your burn. Nice bit of education and motivation while shredding of my lower half. 🙂

I updated the menu for PiYo's Strength Intervals with my recommendations

I updated the menu for PiYo’s Strength Intervals with my recommendations

Strength Intervals: Before you start this DVD, put on a sports bra and athletic shoes. I’m 100% serious and I was very disappointed this wasn’t listed on the “Items Needed” list you get before each workout. “Strength Intervals” is twenty-five minutes of non-stop moving and it includes jogging, high knee jogging, skaters and jumping burpees mixed with lunges, planks, squats and more. I made it 5 minutes before I paused the DVD to put on a better bra and shoes. This DVD is tough if you don’t like cardio. It’s not as high impact as a P90X or plyometric based workouts, but it is higher impact than the other PiYo workouts so if you have back or knee issues I would suggest starting off with the beginner modifications and use a mirror to check your posture. That being said, this was the most challenging DVD by far for me and I feel like adding this to the rotation will really increase my strength, endurance and caloric burn.

Overall: Week three brought two workouts that really challenged me. “Strength Intervals” has jogging which ISN’T part of standard Pilates or Yoga, but does rev up the metabolism and keep the body warm for stretches. My body is adjusting to the other workouts so this is the perfect time to add in new ones.

The Meal Plan:

This week’s meal planning was a lot easier. I had some left overs from week 2 and planning has just become more intuitive. Instead of writing down “one protein out of four” I can remember exactly how many servings I need. However, I did discover this week that there are a few app available for the 21 Day Fix for iPhone and Android so it’s a great way to track how many servings down and how many to go. This website also has some great printables as well.

I’ve been getting more creative with my protein, trying new kinds of milk (almond, cashew, etc.) and integrating low fat dairy into the plan. As a pescatarian it’s been challenging and it would be easy just to say “all Gardenburgers!” but I also try to keep my soy down to one serving a day to avoid adverse side effects on my hormones (soy raises estrogen like crazy and can lead to swelling/tender breasts, fatigue, etc.).

Week 3 of my PiYo / 21 Day Fix meal plan. Yeah, that's pizza!

Week 3 of my PiYo / 21 Day Fix meal plan. Yeah, that’s pizza!

Pictured to the left is my meal plan for lunches and snacks. I always plan my meals for lunch/snacks at work and follow up with protein right after 5pm. Then I either prepare dinner at home or have something at a restaurant. As I said in previous entries, eating out is not a problem if you are smart about it.

Two things I noted this week in particular:

  1. I got ridiculously excited about random foods that fit in the plan. “Chipotle Spiced Cashews? F**ck yeah! That’s my jam.” Or “100 calorie spicy guacamole in individual servings? Add that to the cart!”
  2. Buying strictly berries for fruit is expensive and will increase once summer is over. I integrated cheaper fruits like bulk clementine oranges and nectarines to offset the cost.
  3. How much people mean to me is directly related to if they are invited to share my three “treats” a week with me. I have been strategicly planning my nights around the three- 4oz servings of wine you are allowed and inviting my closest friends to share it with me. If you have made the cut, please know how special you are. 🙂

Overall: Still geeking out over my meal planning – so many containers and such yumtastic food! I feel good knowing that I am not eating junk and I feel healthier on the inside as well. It’s nice to just reach for my pre-portioned foods daily and not stress what to pack the night before. Still miss drinking more than one glass of wine, but economically I’m a cheaper date!

Shakeology:

I drink Shakeology in the morning typically after my PiYo workout and before going to the office. It’s becoming a habit that I enjoy – it’s like a morning milkshake. I bought some caramel and coconut extracts on Amazon so I could add on flavors without adding calories. It’s been fun, a favorite recipe is a Girl Scout Samoa cookie that I have posted below. I also have been using mint extract, various spices and more to add a flavor kick.

Samoa Shakeology Recipe

Samoa Shakeology Recipe

Samoa Girl Scout Cookie Shakeology Recipe

  • 1 scoop of chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of caramel extract
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut extract
  • A pinch of organic, finely shredded coconut flakes

Simply blend them all together and enjoy!

I have noticed that with Shakeology I feel full for a few hours (likely because of the high protein blend that has chia seeds in it) AND I am not as caffeine dependent as usual. It has a small amount of caffeine in it, but not anywhere close to what I usually drink. As a result, I have stopped running to the break room for cups of green tea and started having tea as an early afternoon pep up.

Overall: I’ve been pretty skeptical about Shakeology, mostly because of the price tag. But I am really enjoying the flavor and it gives me vitamins and a boost of energy. I ordered the mixed flavor packets for next month: 8 packets of vanilla, 8 strawberry packets and 8 chocolate. I am excited to see what those other flavors are like and maybe share some creative recipes with those. I think the variety of 3 packs outweighs missing 6 servings like you get with the bag – I will report back soon!

Coach and Challenge Group:

The Coaching and Challenge groups continue to be an asset to the program. I have found support, recipes and more through these. I have also won a few freebies like samples of different flavors and T-shirts, which are a nice bonus simply for checking in frequently.

One thing that is a bit confusing is that since PiYo is an older program, the groups are more oriented towards the two hottest Beachbody challenges right now: Cize and the 21 Day Fix. While I am on the same

A free T-shirt I won in a Beachbody Challenge Group

A free T-shirt I won in a Beachbody Challenge Group

eating plan as the 21 Day Fix, I am doing it for 60 days so I went from a free five day challenge group to a 21 Day Fix group and am now in two others simultaneously. It’s a lot of places on Facebook to check in and manage. I’m sure when PiYo was the new workout all the groups were oriented towards it, but it would have been nice to also connect with other women who were in it for the long, 60 day haul and not just three weeks.

But, I still enjoy seeing photos of other challengers, hearing NSVs (non-scale victories), swapping clean eating recipes and more.

Overall: The Challenge groups are still motivating and great for workout accountability. It also helps me from eating outside the plan, because I want to stay strong for the group and not post “lost my nerve in front of some cheesecake!” I have limited the number of notifications so my phone isn’t going crazy during work hours and just check the pages once or twice a day.

…drumroll for results…

WEEK THREE RESULTS:

1.6 lbs. down for 8.6 lbs. lost in 21 days

NSVs: Pants are looser, I’m sleeping better and my coworkers have started to compliment me on looking “thinner in the midsection.” All this leads to increased self-confidence, so while it isn’t a huge weight loss this week, I am very pleased!

Tune in for a review of week four next week. Thanks for stopping by for my unbiased Piyo and Shakeology review!

Previous Entries:

Week 1

Week 2

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An Unbiased PiYo and Shakeology Review – Week 2

I am not a Beachbody coach or affiliated with one. I am not being compensated for this review. My goal is to provide real information about my experience with this program. I will be checking in weekly and posting my results at the bottom of each entry. For the start of my review, check out Week 1

Today is my first day of week 3 of Beachbody’s PiYo teamed with clean, portioned eating ala the 21 Day Fix. I have been religiously following the workout calendar, drinking vegan chocolate Shakeology and checking in with my accountability group and Beachbody Coach daily.  Now that I am done with week two, I can reflect on what it brought:

PiYo CalendarThe Workouts:

This week rotated the workouts of last week and added in “Core.” As I stated in my last entry, “Upper Body Define” and “Lower Body Define” are not a challenge. I literally feel like I’m cheating on these days, even using the advanced modifications it’s not demanding enough. Thankfully “Sweat” and “Core” are higher intensity, offer more advanced combos and are longer.  The “Core” DVD is abs based and I like that she tells you which part of the abs you are targeting – so many exercises focus on the upper or lower only, she hits the sides, obliques, etc. I also enjoyed some of the creative moves that combined plyometrics with Pilates.

Which brings me to one quick criticism, lots of ads for PiYo claim it’s “low impact with no jumping!”…well, the burpees combined with sumo squats could challenge that. It increases the calorie burn, but it is not a low-impact combo.

Overall: Week two offered a better challenge than week one with the rotation of “Sweat” and “Core.” On the other days I still didn’t feel like I had a great workout, but looking over toward week 3, it appears to phase out “Upper Body Define” and “Lower Body Define.”

The Meal Plan:

Again, the Beachbody coaches are pushing the 21 Day Fix meal plans for all their plans and challenge groups, so that is what I am following. I realized early in the week that I had misread the requirements for protein and had missed a serving a day…not good. Especially since I’m a vegetarian and protein is more challenging to come up with. So review your caloric allotment and the plan with that.

I have been randomly enjoying the meal planning aspect. There is something satisfying about seeing your food in neat little containers and dreaming about when you can eat it all.  This is the recipe I used for week 2, for the bulk of my lunches: Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet. Here is a photo of meal planning for my snacks and lunches for the workweek, looks delicious and healthy, huh?

piyo week 2Bakers beware – you will accumulate a LOT more dishes and Tupperware than ever before if you portion everything out at the beginning of the week. This keeps me on track and makes it easy to reach into my stockpile and go, but if you don’t have a dishwasher or have more time before work, you may want to rinse the same Tupperware used for the dish before and reuse it or save your plastic baggies.

I’ve had some headaches over the last week. Perhaps due to the lower calorie intake or the missing protein servings. I am continuing to monitor it.

The wine allotment of three servings of 4 oz a week is still challenging, but I’m making it work. I can also sub in certain chips or chocolate, but so far the wine is winning the 3x/week indulgence.

Overall: Still enjoying the balanced eating that allows for treats such as nut butters and cheese, but I miss my daily chocolate and being able to have more than one glass of wine. It’s a small price to pay for results and at least I get to eat REAL food. Also, getting 4 servings of protein as a vegetarian means getting reeeallly creative.

Shakeology:

Not going to lie, I’m starting to crave Shakeology in the morning. I have been making some of the awesome recipes I found on Pinterest (check out some amazing ones here!). Adding peanut butter, mint extract, fruit or a teaspoon of pudding mix is delicious.

The jury is still out on if it delivers all it promises: better energy, faster growing nails and hair, etc. I’ve cut my vitamin intake because of all the nutrients in it. I will keep posting on any good, or bad, side effects.

I also learned how to switch up my subscription, so now I can sample other flavors because as exciting as chocolate daily is, I am going to get bored. I am switching to a multi-flavor package. The good thing is you can get 2-3 flavors of Shakeology so you can find a favorite…the bad is that instead of a 30 day supply like the one flavor bag, it is only 24 servings for the same price. Once It arrives I will decide if it is worth the 6 day deficit.

Overall: Still enjoying the daily Shakeology. Mixing it up with different extracts and add-ins has made it taste more like dessert, which is always nice in my book. Looking forward to trying a new flavor. Worth the cost? Jury is still out…

beachbody challenge groupCoach and Challenge Group:

I am in my second Challenge group on this plan. I was in a free, 5 day challenge my coach ran the first week and am now in a 21 Day Fix one she is managing for the next 3 weeks. The groups are a nice motivation, I felt like skipping a workout and didn’t want to write to the group that I hadn’t done it, so I forced myself into it and felt happier afterwards. There are daily check-ins with fitness, nutrition and I like the other women sharing their successes and struggles. It’s still one of my favorite parts of the program.

Overall: Other than getting a ton of Facebook notifications from the group, I love the Challenge groups and consider them a great benefit to the program. They are keeping me on track and giving me food inspiration.

…and the big ending here…

WEEK TWO RESULTS:

2.2 lbs. down for 7 lbs. lost in 14 days

Non-Scale Victory (NSV): Even though it’s only 7 pounds, I have less stomach bloat and feel more attractive.

Tune in for a review of week 3 next week. Thanks for stopping by for my unbiased Piyo and Shakeology review!

For the start of my review, check out Week 1

An Unbiased PiYo and Shakeology Review – Week 1

PiYo I am not a Beachbody coach or affiliated with one. I am not being compensated for this review. My goal is to provide real information about my experience with this program. I will be checking in weekly and posting my results at the bottom of each entry.

Well, I finally took the plunge! After a few months of encouragement from a Beachbody coach, I decided to purchase a Challenge package that included Shakeology and PiYo. Why?

* I noticed my clothes were getting tighter and it was bumming me out

* I love Pilates and have always wondered about this program

* I want to tone up and gain strength

* It was on sale with purchase of Shakeology

I am a certified Group Fitness Instructor who teaches Pilates, so I am not new to fitness. I am skeptical of  many “As Seen on TV” workouts as they usually promise fast results but don’t give you the correct resources for maintaining them. Many often are paired with crash dieting.  Before purchasing the PiYo package I scoured the internet for reviews on the program, researched the meal plan and Shakeology ingredients, asked Beachbody lots of questions and watched snippets of the program online.

Here are my results from participating in the full program (workout schedule, meal plan, support group and daily Shakeology) for the first week. This review will be the longest to explain what the plan requires in each category, so subsequent weeks will be shorter!

The Workouts:

Included with all the packages is a comprehensive 2-month calendar of what workout to do on each day. Each week includes one day of rest, which is smart and essential for muscle recovery. Workouts are typically 20-35 minutes in length and include a fast-paced, brief warm up that transitions into the main workout with stretching between. There is very little in terms of a “cool down.” If you are someone who requires a longer warm up or cool down, I would suggest stretching before and after the DVD. The daily routines focus on rotating parts of the body – upper body one day, lower the next to let the muscles recover.

Your first week is spent on DVD one. Day one you will watch “Align” where you learn the fundamentals of each pose, some transitions and the PiYo lingo. If you are familiar with Pilates or Yoga, much of this will be a review. I really like how focused on correct alignment Chalene is, it adds a lot of credibility and safety to a home workout program. As an instructor myself, I really appreciated that. Chalene talks a lot, but her cues are really great so that even in down dog you can just listen and follow her instruction without trying to do contortions to watch the screen. “Align” is not a workout, so don’t expect to be challenged.

“Define: Lower Body” is next, it works your legs, glutes, hamstrings, etc. I liked the exercises in this, but was not very challenged. I think if I was less flexible or new to Pilates, it may have presented a challenge, but I think the goal is to get you accustomed to the movements, flow and correct alignment in each pose.

“Define: Upper Body” follows. I have less upper body strength, so it was nice for me to work on some areas I don’t gravitate towards. The biggest takeaway from this workout for me was the correct way to do tricep push ups. Chalene likes to throw those in between various moves, so expect to see a lot of them. It offered a light challenge to me.

“Sweat” is the last workout on the DVD. It is very fast, works your whole body and is the longest one yet (35 minutes). This is finally when I actually felt like I had accomplished something. The flows are quick and challenging. There are a lot of exercises utilizing your body weight, so you can feel the challenge but also need to be mindful of your alignment in the positions to avoid an achy back. I really enjoyed this one and could feel my muscles the next day, so I know it worked me harder than the others.

Overall: Week one wasn’t as challenging as I would have wanted, however I did work some areas I don’t typically and got a nice sweat on during “Sweat.” If the rest of the DVDs are anything like “Sweat” then I am optimistic I’ll see changes.

The Meal Plan:

caloric baselineYou start off your meal planning by measuring yourself, weighing yourself and figuring out your caloric baseline aka how much you can eat to see results without starving yourself. I’ve included the Caloric Baseline calculator here.

From there, weekly meal planning is key. For my caloric baseline I have to eat 4 servings of protein, 3 servings of veggies, 2 servings of fruit, 2 starches, 1 healthy fat serving (guacamole, light cheeses, etc.), 1 serving of dressings and/or nuts and 2 tablespoons healthy oils and nut butters daily. Shakeology is one of your proteins daily. You are also allowed “free” foods such as vinegar, spices, hot sauce, lemon juice, etc.

I am already someone who eats whole, organic foods as often as possible, but this has really made me realize how important portions are. Since starting this meal plan, I am realizing my idea of portions was way out of wack on some items. The plan teaching me proper portion size is a huge benefit to me for my ongoing health. I am also incorporating more nuts and seeds into my diet than ever before, an unexpected bonus.

Trying to meet these limits daily without a plan is not a good idea. Thankfully, I have done meal planning in the past so I have been carving out time to prep on the Sunday before the week starts. I usually cook up 1-2 options for lunch that incorporate protein and veggies, bag and measure fruits, slice veggies, pour dressings and seeds into small containers, etc. I will be honest, this takes me about 2-3 hours to decide what to eat, make it and portion it out, BUT I don’t have pack my lunch nightly like before. I store it all in a plastic bag so my husband doesn’t eat any and pull the necessary containers each day out and place them in my lunch bag the day before. This has kept me on track the week plus I have been doing this and takes away trying to add up my portions each day. I made a Pinterest board of meal and snack ideas that work with the plan here.

I have also been able to go out to restaurants, I just look at the menu ahead of time and choose light protein and sub out sides for healthy veggies and fruit. It’s actually not that hard if you have a place that offers grilled fish, healthy sandwiches, soups or salads.

One thing to point out, 3 times a week you are allowed to swap a starch for a 4 oz glass of wine, chocolate, etc. I love wine. Love it. So this has been a bummer. But I have been able to share a small glass with friends and then just drink water the rest of the time to avoid being a social recluse.

Overall: The meal plan is very balanced and easy to maintain with some preparation. I don’t have to avoid going to restaurants or social outings, which is a huge plus. I really miss chocolate and enjoying more than a few sips of wine though.

Shakeology:

shakeology ingrediantsBefore starting the plan, it was near impossible to find a Shakeology review from anyone BUT a Beachbody coach. It was hella annoying to start reading and find out, “oh this person actually sells it…” So here is my one week experience using it daily as a non coach.

Shakeology is the part I was most skeptical about due to it’s high price tag. Many Beachbody affiliates claim “Oh it’s cheaper than a breakfast at McDonald’s”…that’s true, but as someone who eats a Chobani for breakfast daily for a few years, my budget for breakfast is like $1. Shakeology works out to be about $4/serving if you buy it at the non-club or non-coach price. That’s pretty steep, but I justified it by getting a package.

The ingredient list is above, it IS filled with a lot of GMO-free items, protein and tons of vitamins. I am ditching my regular vitamins for the next two months so I don’t OD, so Shakeology is “saving” me money on that I guess. It is incorporating a lot of super foods, so I appreciate that as well.

The taste is far better than most meal replacement shakes. No, it doesn’t taste like a milkshake, but it’s the second closest thing I’ve found that does (Muscle Milk is first, but it’s just FILLED with sugar so I don’t use it). I mix mine in my Nutribullet with water and ice. Some days I will add a little PB2 (powdered peanut butter) or mint extract for a flavor kick. I worry I will get bored with it, so I went to handy dandy Pinterest and made a pin board of recipes. You can find it here.

Overall: Drinking Shakeology once a day has been easier than expected and knocks out one of the four proteins I need daily. I’m a pescatarian (fish, dairy, etc. but no meat) so it is a nice way to get my nutrients and tastes like a treat. Is it worth the high cost? I’m not sure yet.

Coach and Challenge Group:

Prior to starting the PiYo Challenge, I had done a few free challenge groups with my Beachbody online. I reconnected with a high school acquaintances who is a Beachbody coach a few months ago and she started inviting me to them. They were mostly 5 day clean eating challenges following a similar meal plan to the above or squat challenges. All she asked for was everyone to check in daily and often offered a fun prize to the person who posted the most. It helped me work with portions, meal planning and made me accountable for my workouts. I met some neat women, shared recipes and felt healthier.

A coach and a challenge group are free with your Challenge pack and I would highly recommend them. They answer questions, such as earlier this week I asked “Is A1 Steak Sauce considered a fruit or free food since it is mostly vinegar and raisins?” You receive encouragement. Other people’s posts can give you new food ideas. And, for me knowing I have to check in daily makes me continue on and say “no” to sleeping in or eating the free candy at work.

Overall: Challenge groups have been a beneficial part of the program, as has my coach. I consider this a big success of Beachbody as you always have someone dedicated to you that you can check in and ask questions.

…and the big ending here…

WEEK ONE RESULTS:

5.2 lbs. down

Non-Scale Victory (NSV): Increased energy and self confidence

 

 

Why Blog? Why ABCs?

Hello and welcome to my first foray into personal online writing since Live Journal. Yeah…it’s been forever.

A quick breakdown of me:

I’m a happy, healthy and crafty woman based out of Michigan. I’m married and have two fur babies. I work in an office by day and teach Pilates at night. I am a certified Group Fitness Instructor who is passionate about fitness and nutrition. I also perform frequently in professional theater and dance. I am very social and enjoy planning creative outings for when I go out with my friends or my husband, so I will be sharing date ideas and experiences here. I try to leave the country at least once every year or so and travel, so I hope to post about my exciting adventures as well. And I’ve been a DIY-er my whole life, so expect lots of tutorials and crazy attempts at Pinterest projects.

Why blog?

My friends have been encouraging me to blog for awhile now. People often come to me for travel, recipe, crafting or wellness advice and it seems like I have something to share. My goal is to use this space to share craft tutorials, recipes, workouts and unbiased product and fitness reviews.

Why ABCs?

It was a challenge to come up with a title that covered all my passions.

Adventure – travel, creative dates, new experiences

Balance – wellness, fitness and recipes

Craft – DIY projects, home improvement, etc.

The ABCs came the closest and had a fun acronym. 🙂

I plan to post to this page once a week or more and include a balance of the above. Please subscribe or check back frequently for more fun.