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!
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:
You 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.
Before 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