An Unbiased PiYo and Shakeology Review – Week 6

Somehow I still don't look like her by week 6, LOL

Somehow I still don’t look like her by week 6, LOL

I am not a Beachbody coach. I am not being compensated for this review. My goal is to provide real information about my experience with the PiYo and 21 Day Fix programs as an independent fitness instructor trying something new.  I will be checking in weekly and posting my results at the bottom of each entry. For previous reviews, check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Weeks 4-5.

Week 6 and I am back to a normal (non-vacation or wedding) routine again and seeing the changes. I weighed myself the first day of this week and got bummed because it looked like I had gained weight, but turns out it must have been water retention because I was lighter than ever, and received more compliments than the past few weeks, by the end of week 6.

The Workouts:

There were no new workouts this week, so this section will be short. What I will say is that this week is more challenging as it rotates Drench in more frequently and my muscles felt it! I haven’t felt like I needed the rest day until this week and I sure took it!

I noticed that my endurance has increased, moves that seemed impossible or I couldn’t do all the reps of I was finishing. There were still a few I needed to max out for a minute and then join in again, or take a water break after, but for the most part I was nailing the moves. I even did all the burpees! And I hate burpees.

Sweat was brought back and I have missed it! Sweat is a great routine, mix it with Sculpt and Drench and it’s been a killer week for my body in the best way possible.

Overall:  No more easy workouts! Now just the challenging Drench, Sculpt, Core, etc. I felt burning in my arms and muscles hurt that hadn’t before. BUT I also felt stronger, did more advanced versions and had more endurance so I know the plan is working.

Week 6 was one of the first weeks I felt super accomplished and ready to challenge the workouts. I think maybe after 42+ days of doing it, it has become a routine and that pushed me forward.

The Meal Plan:

Roasted Sweet Potato and Beet Salad with herb vinaigrette

Roasted Sweet Potato and Beet Salad with herb vinaigrette

I lost my mojo a bit this week with meal planning. I did a lot of planning on the fly or the night before, so I don’t have a great group photo like I have before, unfortunately. I did branch out into some new areas; I made and froze veggie egg cups for quick protein, I roasted beets and added them to a salad with feta and herb vinaigrette (my own DIY version of this recipe) and I whipped up a lettuce wrap with sliced veggies, quinoa and crushed walnuts. So huzzah for new ideas on the go!

This was also the week of discovering as much as I thought I had a handle on this, there were some areas I didn’t. A big one was my discovery that even though I have been eating Greek yogurt, it has been the wrong kind! What? Apparently on the 21 Day Fix you can ONLY have plain and mix in your own fruit or guilt free flavorings (lemon juice, spices, etc.). What a bummer to discover that while I thought I was making good decisions with my Chobani, I was not following the plan. You can still eat flavored Greek yogurts or even fro-yo, but it has to be considered one of your three weekly treats and no yogurt will replace my wine!

Fresh Baked Vegetable Egg Cups for Freezing

Fresh Baked Vegetable Egg Cups for Freezing

I also let my husband talk me into going to the movies for the first time since starting the plan. The popcorn smelled sooooooo good. I told him I would only eat half a cup and consider it a treat/my oils, but I barely ate that much. It just isn’t as good as I remembered. And it was so darn salty! I think maybe this plan has helped me taste what is BAD in bad food.

So while I kept to the plan, but wasn’t as great as I have been at pre-prepping my meals. Luckily, I always have a large amount of healthy food on hand and I keep measuring cups and spoons from the Dollar Tree at my desk so I could still portion my snacks at the office.

Overall: Food temptations were strong, meal planning was weak but I still stuck to the plan overall. My goal is to commit more time to planning this week to have less night before or on-the-go panics on what I can eat.

Shakeology:

I admit, I was a Shakeology skeptic and now here I am wondering what I flavor I am going to order for Month 3. I am still loving the variety of flavors, this week’s favorite has been vanilla because it is an excellent base flavor I can add to – see my newest, fall-themed creation below. Many fruits and spices taste better in the vanilla vs. the chocolate as it’s a milder flavor that doesn’t overwhelm them.

The days I didn’t have fresh fruits or spices ready, I fell back on my chocolate and strawberry flavors. I have yet to make a great recipe for the strawberry one, but it’s coming I’m sure!

Let me introduce you to my latest and greatest creation: The Pumpkin Spice Shakeology.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shakeology created by Miranda

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shakeology created by Miranda

With fall here, I have been craving some Starbucks PSL like the white girl I am and this idea came to me as a healthier option. It’s super easy, all you need is 2 ingredients plus water for a fall taste that packs a protein punch!

Ingredients

  • 1 scoop or packet Vanilla Shakeology
  • 1/2 cup Tazo Pumpkin Chai tea mix (available at Target and most grocery stores)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup water to dilute tea mix (more water for less strong pumpkin spice taste)
  • 4-6 cubes of ice
  • Optional: cinnamon to garnish the top and add a little spice

Throw all ingredients into your bender and mix on high for 30 seconds to a minute. It’s the healthiest pumpkin spice shake I’ve ever heard of!

210 calories if you measure it out exactly per the above and about 52 mgs of caffeine.

Overall: I’m still drinking Shakeology daily and I seriously love it. I expected to be bored or not like it, but that’s not the case. It has become an essential part of my morning routine and it gives me energy and keeps me full from 7:30 a.m. to around 11 or so, so it’s become my breakfast meal replacement. Do I think it is a miracle in a glass? No. Do I think it’s insanely healthy and gives me more nutrients than I would likely consume daily? Yes. And for now that paired with the meal replacement and energy is good enough for me.

Coach and Challenge Group:

Beachbody Challenge Groups

Beachbody Challenge Groups

I got added into another challenge group this week by my coach. YAY! But unfortunately I slacked more than usual, so boo on me. The girls did inspire me to post more often and take some photos, so it wasn’t a total loss. I even was asked to write a daily question/challenge for them since I am a fitness nut/always online. That was fun. It gave me a mini taste of what my coach does daily.

Full disclosure, the past two weeks I have been thinking that I could probably rock it as a coach. I am not committed yet, but it’s a consideration. I’ve had two people directly ask me how I am losing weight, tell me I was an “inspiration” to them, etc. and it seems like a waste if I just start to refer them to other people if they want advice from ME. I am not going to decide until my program ends and I finish blogging my review in two weeks, just to stay unbiased and make sure it is right for me.

Overall: The challenge groups are what YOU put into them, so if you suck at posting, you probably won’t have a great time. But if you interact with the other women and stay consistent, it can be a great way to stay reliable, get some recipes and inspiration from others and be entered for fun prizes.

WEEKS 6 RESULTS:

1.2 lb. down for 11.6 lbs. lost in 42 days.  I’ve experienced significant muscle toning and gain too.

NSVs: Received three “you look thinner!” compliments in one workday, looked at myself in my lingerie and liked what I saw for the first time in months.

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

Week 3.

Weeks 4-5

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Lazy Cherry Tomato Salsa

I made this tonight for freezing instead of canning. Added two jalapenos and a little more garlic. Great way to keep high-sodium salsa products out of your home and use up cherry tomatoes.

grow it cook it can it

We’ve been harvesting a lot of cherry tomatoes recently.

Normally, cherry tomatoes are mostly for fresh eating since it would be crazy to peel them for sauce or other canning projects…

…but since I hate peeling pretty much everything (carrots, peaches, potatoes, etc.), I stopped peeling my tomatoes long ago.  I just zap them with my immersion blender for sauce, ketchup, jam, and salsa.  If I peeled my tomatoes, there’s no way I’d have a two whole shelves in the pantry filled with tomato products.  There’s just no way, not enough hours in the day.

This means I can take advantage of that delicious, superpowered cherry tomato flavor for all my canning projects — it doesn’t just have to be a summer treat.

This salsa is my way of turning a bajillion cherry tomatoes into something wonderful.  I’m sure we’ll have it with tortilla chips and in burritos, but what…

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An Unbiased PiYo and Shakeology Review – Weeks 4 & 5

I am not a Beachbody coach. I am not being compensated for this review. My goal is to provide real information about my experience with this program as an independent fitness instructor trying something new.  I will be checking in weekly and posting my results at the bottom of each entry. For previous reviews, check out Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3.

This week I am combining Weeks 4 and 5 because I went out of town last week. Since they are over, I am able to fully review the new workouts, Shakeology and meal planning, etc. Here are my thoughts.

PiYo DVD Run Times

PiYo DVD Run Times

The Workouts:

Drench: I had heard from my Beachbody coach that this one was killer and she wasn’t kidding. It was 48 minutes of dynamic movement, sculpting and muscle burn. The time required was a shock, I barely got it in before work because the previous DVDs were 20-35 minutes, but I sweat through it and live talk-to- text myself my thoughts for an in-the-moment review. This is what I was thinking while performing the moves in “Drench”…

0:01 complete: “48 minutes? WTF?”

7:00 complete: “Ok, same movements we’ve learned before, nothing crazy…”

12:00 complete: “Too fast! I can barely keep up, form is suffering on me and cues aren’t great.”

18:00 complete: “First break due to butt cheek cramp. That’s a new one.”

19:00 complete: “Planks, planks and a new move!”

25:00 complete: “Squats and burpees, nearly the same combo as before so thankfully in familiar, albeit thigh-burning, territory.”

30:00 complete: “Stopping for water. I’m surprised Beachbody doesn’t include a quick water break or two in their workouts considering how the 21 Day Fix is so focused on hydration.”

40:00 complete: “I’m really irritated because this ‘flow’ section is really weak in terms of cueing, which newbies need. I know these moves from my past with Pilates, but someone new would be really confused and overwhelmed. Not good Chalene!”

48:00 complete – the end: “Nice cool down. I feel very accomplished but this was my least favorite so far.”

Sculpt: This workout uses varying tempos to keep your muscles under tension for different periods of time. Some felt like nice, long stretches, others felt like hell in the best way possible. Many of the moves are repetition from the past DVDs, so if you get bored easily it may be a low point for you. For me, I do these before work when I am groggy so it was a nice way to not have to think.

The claim for “Sculpt”  is that it “generates muscular endurance and metabolic changes that will totally transform your figure.” I don’t know about that, but I did really enjoy the 30 minute workout. It focuses on lots of tricep push ups, planks, etc. and had a similar flow sequence to “Drench.” Was it the most challenging DVD so far? No, but it was a nice in-between workout to give your muscles a break from some of the more challenging DVDs like “Drench” and “Sweat.” Want to explore more? The “Fill Me With Meaning” blog has a great breakdown of all the exercises you do in “Sculpt.”

Week 5 I went on a camping trip and did not do PiYo for four days. I couldn’t do the workouts due to no electricity or wifi, but my coach thought that if I just worked out/did activities it would even out. I hiked a minimum of 8 miles a day on steep inclines, kayaked 5 miles in wind with 2-4 foot tall waves one day, etc. I’m hoping this trip didn’t set me back.

PiYo Meal Plan Week 4

PiYo Meal Plan Week 4

Overall: Weeks 4 and 5 introduced two new workouts – one I enjoyed but wasn’t as challenged by and another I felt was almost too-demanding for a newbie and didn’t have proper form/cues. While “Drench” is not my favorite, it did challenge me more than the others, so I have to give PiYo props for keeping my muscles tired and working. The past two weeks have completely cut Upper Body Define” and “Lower Body Define” out of the equation, so I’m excited to see the program getting harder and less elementary.


The Meal Plan:

As stated in my last review, meal planning has become much easier now that I can recall off the top of my head how many portions I need of what food group. Week 4 went well with me feeling amazing and excelling at meal planning. You’ll see my photo of a full work week of lunches and snacks prepped for the office. I noticed flatter abs and looser clothes and all was right with the world.

Week 5 was tougher; it was over a holiday weekend and I had a wedding to attend. I packed a cooler of goodies which helped me stay on track, but the build your own pasta bar, carrot cake and open bar proved to be a bit too tempting. I tried to limit my portions and not drink to excess, but I did indulge because I can’t be a total social pariah. I got back on track for three days, but then it was off to a long weekend of camping in a national park without internet access or a fridge. I looked up advice for camping on the 21 Day Fix and found this great article on the “Finding Motivation Everyday” blog. I packed my favorite healthy snacks, pictured below, that are camping and 21 Day Fix approved, but it was still a struggle. I had to eat more processed foods than usual due to eating vegetarian hot dogs or canned chili. I tried to limit my starches, but when you hike 8 miles on cliffs and kayak 5 miles in the same day, your body will tell you that it needs carbs and you need to listen so I wasn’t 100% compliant with the plan. Plus, smores are a tradition, so I had to have those one night. I did my best, but I didn’t want to be starved or miserable so I did go outside the plan.

21 Day Fix Approved Camping Snacks

21 Day Fix Approved Camping Snacks

Overall: Still missing chocolate, wine, etc. in unlimited quantities but learning to live without excess. Being creative with the meals, planning in advance and cooking large portions has been the key to staying on track. Snacks for traveling are essential, but meals on vacation or at special events can be tough. I think it’s ok to take a break every now and then to celebrate with someone, everything in moderation right? I am starting Week 6 on track again, packed meals, less processed food and the motivation to get back to 100% compliance. 

Shakeology:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Shakeology Mug Cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Shakeology Mug Cake

Week 4 I was finishing my bag of Vegan Chocolate Shakeology and still enjoying it. I was really craving chocolate cake one day and was having my shake at night instead of the morning, so I got creative and made my first Shakeology Mug Cake. It’s your classic mug cake or protein pancake recipe using ingredients you likely have on hand.

Ingredients
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology
-1 tbs sweetener of your choice (I used agave)
– dash of salt
– 1 egg
– optional mix in: 1 tbs PB2 peanut butter, 1 tbs cocoa powder (I used both!)
– 2 or 3 tbs milk or almond milk

Peanut Butter Chocolate Shakeology Mug Cake Ingredients

Peanut Butter Chocolate Shakeology Mug Cake Ingredients

Directions:

  1.  In a mug mix Shakeology, baking powder, salt, peanut butter and cocoa, cocoa, and sweetener if it’s a dry sweetener like stevia or sugar.
  2. Next, mix in an egg, 2-3 tablespoons of milk and sweetener if it’s wet like agave.
  3. Mix until dry ingredients are wet. Really scrape bottom to mix and sides.
  4. Microwave for 90 seconds. Don’t be alarmed if the cake puffs out above the mug, it will deflate once the heat is off.
  5. Let rest in microwave for 2 minutes as it is hot. Cake should easily pull away from the mug with little residue. Enjoy!
Finished Shakeology Mug Cake

Finished Shakeology Mug Cake

I love my chocolate, but decided to switch out the flavors to see what the others had to offer. I was excited to open my Beachbody delivery on Week 5 to find my combo pack – strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. A Neapolitan flavor box, if you will. I have tried the three and strawberry is my new favorite! If you like strawberry shakes or strawberry milk, this is for you. The combo boxes have 6 less servings than a bag, so I was hesitant to give up those days initially, but now that I have tried the others I think the variety will keep me excited for my daily shake and is well worth it.

Shakeology Combo Pack

Shakeology Combo Pack

Overall: Shakeology must have some addictive ingredient in it because I am shockingly not tired of it yet. I invested in the combo box (same prices, more variety, less servings) and feel that if you need to sample different flavors before selecting a 30-day bag of one OR if you are doing a long-term plan the variety it presents is worth the missing packets. Try coming up with new shakes, cakes, etc. and it will keep your stomach interested!

Coach and Challenge Group:

Weeks 4 and 5 were not as strong in terms of the support I received. One challenge group was over so I was switched into a 5 day one with new people who weren’t doing any BB exercises, which wasn’t as beneficial. Week 5 I was completely without a challenge group as my coach wasn’t running one, but she did encourage me to check in on her permanent accountability Facebook page. The page is less active as people are posting sporadically so it was less motivating and engaging. I’m hoping that for Weeks 6-8 she puts me in a new one of women who are actively working to improve themselves.

Overall: The Challenge groups and support was missed during weeks 4-5. While my coach did check in, I missed the daily accountability. The groups are a nice, free tool that comes with your program, so use it!

…drumroll for results…

My PiYo and 21 Day Fix Abs Week 4

My PiYo and 21 Day Fix Abs Week 4

WEEKS 4-5 RESULTS:

1 lb. down for 9.6 lbs. lost in 35 days. I’ve experienced significant muscle gain too.

NSVs: Better endurance, noticing muscle tone in new areas, had the confidence to rock shorts for the first time in over a year.

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

Week 3.

Easy Italian Freezer Tomatoes

It’s that time of year when gardeners are picking more tomatoes than they can eat. I’m always looking for a way to use them as  fast as possible, but I ended up with a few pounds last week and no exit strategy. I am not interested in boiling and peeling mine, especially since I only grow Juliette or cherry varieties that are small. So I decided to do my stand-by preserving method: baking and freezing with an Italian twist! The prep will take just a few minutes, but plan for a day you will be around for at least an hour and half for them to sloowwwllyy bake.

These tomatoes are a juicy addition to pastas, especially if you freeze them and add them in the winter when you are craving fresh tomatoes. The spices add a bite to your Italian cooking to perk up your meals.

Easy Italian Freezer Tomatoes Ingredients

Easy Italian Freezer Tomatoes Ingredients

Ingredients

  • Fresh, small tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoning mix or pizza seasoning
  • Parchment paper

Step 1:

Cut tomatoes on a parchment-lined tray.

Cut tomatoes on a parchment-lined tray.

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Wash and scrub tomatoes, especially if you just picked them. Allow to dry. Then cut them into halves or if you have

larger tomatoes (Juliette varieties) you can cut them into thirds. Click here for a quick trick for cutting in halves that will save you prep time–also great for grapes!

Step 2:

In a large bow, drizzle enough olive oil to coat your tomato halves. Mix the tomatoes in the bowl until all tomatoes are lightly covered in olive oil. Lay the tomatoes out on a parchment lined tray with the cut sides facing up.

Top tomatoes with delicious spices!

Top tomatoes with delicious spices!

Step 3:

Lightly sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes with Italian seasoning to taste.

When the skins are wrinkled they are ready!

When the skins are wrinkled they are ready!

Step 4:

Place tomatoes in the preheated oven and set the timer for 90-120 minutes. Check the tomatoes every 20 minutes and once the skins start to get a little bit wrinkly they are ready. You can keep them juicy like I did if you bake for about 90 minutes OR if you want more of a sun dried tomato you will want to bake for much longer (3-4 hours) until they dry and flatten.

Baked Italian Tomatoes

Baked Italian Tomatoes

Step 5:

Allow to cool. The tomatoes are ready to be used immediately or prepped for freezing. If freezing, remove them and place on another tray (or remove the parchment and place them on the same tray) and place in your freezer so they can freeze individually.

Step 6:

After they are frozen through, pick off the tray individually and place into a freezer bag or foodsaver bag. You can now pop them into your dishes throughout the year for a fresh from the garden taste.

Enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe for more recipes, fitness and fun!

Easy Italian Freezer Tomatoes

Easy Italian Freezer Tomatoes

Empty Pill Bottles Desperately Needed (Take your meds & help others!)

While this isn’t fitness or craft-based, this is a great idea to balance your life by eliminating clutter and doing some good. I plan to start an envelope of my own bottles and send off once it fills up!

ginger ail

Pill bottles: they are those translucent orange soldiers that pile up all around us… in our drawers, bags, cabinets… sometimes I wonder – if I had saved every empty pill bottle since I got sick, what would that look like?
Mountains of Pill Bottles
One of the things I have always hated the most about being sick, is you often need more help than you can give.  That’s not always true, but there are definitely days or weeks like that for even the most functioning among us.  I see those specials on tv and think: I want to build a Habitat for Humanity house or dig wells in Africa (this might be a late night, insomnia induced thought but the general sentiment still stands).

Neither of those will be happening in my lifetime, but that’s okay.  There really are other things we can do, all of us, to help other people no matter how…

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