Category: Fitness

The Best Time to Workout

What’s the best time of day to workout? Ok, get ready to be annoyed. It’s the time of day when you’re most likely to workout.

I’m sorry. I know that’s not the answer you really want. But I think it’s true, partly because of experience and partly because of research. (Not like the conducting experiments or gathering data kind of research, just the reading articles on what I consider reliable websites kind of research.) I, at different times since I started exercising, have sought out the best time of day to work out. Like, when are you most likely to get the best results? The most bang for your buck? And, while my research hasn’t been exhaustive, I have come to the conclusion that there’s no one right answer.

Some people advocate exercising first thing in the morning. You’re in a fasted state, you’ll burn off stuff already in your body (glycogen I think?), that kind of thing. You might burn off more fat. I’ve also read that late afternoon is really the optimal time to workout– energy wise, performance wise. Hormone levels might be at a more optimal level in the afternoon, too. I haven’t read that nighttime is ideal, but I bet someone out there says that it is.

The answer I gave above- the time of day when you’re most likely to workout is the time of day when you’re most likely to workout- isn’t my favorite answer for me either. But I’ve accepted it as the truth.

I think the real best time of day for me, as far as how good a workout I get, how I feel during and after, when I have the most energy, is mid-morning. In a perfect world I’d wake up, ease into my day, have breakfast and coffee. Then I’d either relax with my kids and husband or do some chores around the house (though I guess in a really perfect world I wouldn’t be doing chores ever, would I?). About an hour and a half to two hours after I finished eating, I’d exercise. This does happen once in a while, and it really is when I feel best. But it doesn’t happen a lot.

The reality right now is that my time is not really my own. I can’t exercise at that time of day because it just doesn’t work. I have things to do, places to be, other people’s schedules to consider. So I wake up early. Now I’m sure some of you are saying, “I can’t exercise in the morning. That’s not happening. I’m not a morning person.” I said the same things. I didn’t think I could ever do it. I didn’t think it would happen. I am so not a morning person. If anything I’m a night owl….A night owl who has grudgingly become more of a morning person. Thanks to #1- kids and #2- really wanting to exercise and knowing if it didn’t happen then it might never happen.

I think the morning is probably the best time for most people for the same reasons it works for me. Once it’s done you can move on with your day. If you don’t do it first thing there’s a good chance something will crop up during the day that prevents you from doing it. Or you’ll be too tired to do it. You’ll also get that good feeling early, and what a great way to start your day. But it does take some getting used to.

When I first started exercising I did it at night. (Back then I would think I could never do it in the morning, now I look back and think how did I ever do it at night?!) It was what worked for me then. I had an infant I was breastfeeding, who was still waking up a few times a night to eat, plus three other kids, ages 3, 5, and 7. I was so tired and needed that sleep in the morning. Night time was the only time I could get it done. I’d put Danny to bed around 7:00, then the other kids, and exercise in the living room, before Danny woke up for his first nighttime feeding.

There was a period of time between those nighttime workouts and when I started working out in the morning when I had to accept and deal with a more difficult truth. I had to workout whenever I could, and that would change day to day. I would have much rather have had a set time, a schedule, a routine. But things were hectic, mornings were unreliable (usually due to a child or two or three or four who had made it to my bed or lured me to their bed sometime during the night). I was so tired at night, and the kids were staying up later. I had to accept the need for a more flexible mindset. It irked me, but that’s where I was at that time. This transition period might ultimately have made it easier for me to embrace the idea of morning workouts.

So I’d encourage every one to consider morning workouts. Even if you’re not a “morning person.” No birds are pulling my blankets back as I awake feeling refreshed and perky and ready for a fantastic day. Looking radiant of course. There’s lots of hitting snooze and internal dialogue, some of which I can’t repeat here for fear my children might read this. But it happens. Most days. I’m tired and cold and puffy-eyed and crazy-haired and feeling rather grumpy most days. But by the time the warm-up is over I’m usually feeling closer to human and by the time the whole thing is over I’m often feeling like a superhero. A pleasant, life-loving superhero. (Until I try to wake up my middle schooler anyway)

Wherever you are at right now, make it a priority. That’s the most important thing. My crazy-runner-husband used to say all the time, “You have to make it a priority.” And I used to roll my eyes and curse under my breath. But that idea must have nestled somewhere in my brain and eventually manifested itself. Because here I am telling anyone who will listen to make it a priority. It just has to be. And it might be tough at first, but keep at it and one day it will really be like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Just something that’s part of your day. Often one of the best parts of your day.

Have you found your ideal time? Are you struggling to make time for exercise? I’d love to hear from you! Sometimes just venting or chatting about something can help you process things and make things click 🙂

 

28-Day Plank Challenge

Have you seen challenges everywhere? Especially plank challenges and squat challenges? I have and I have never done one! I’ve been most intrigued by the plank challenge, but never actually went ahead and did it even though my belly is in need of the most attention. To put it nicely.

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A few weeks ago a friend mentioned doing a plank challenge and I thought it would be a fun thing to try for the first time on my Facebook page! What better way to honor my trouble spot? It will be a tribute to my core, the core I can get so cranky about. Maybe it will be just what my poor core needs….

So I’ve been looking around online at different challenges to get ideas, and I put together my own schedule. My very own 28-Day Plank Challenge. I decided to go with the basic forearm plank to keep it simple. There are a lot of plank options out there, and I think trying out different ones could be a fun way to try them out and focus on strengthening different areas of the core. For now, though, I want to focus on one exercise. I also went with 28 days instead of 30 or 31 because I’m a nerd and I like to finish up on a Sunday, not some crazy day like Tuesday.

We will start at 20 seconds. If you have not been doing planks regularly, or have never done one, this might be a long time. You can shorten the length of time and/or modify the plank by doing it on your knees. If you have been doing planks this might seem too easy. You can always modify if the times don’t seem right for you. We can adjust the schedule- add or subtract seconds here and there- so that it works for where you and your core are at 🙂

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We start Monday, May 30th!!! Each day I’ll post an accountability post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/stayathomefit. All you have to do is comment on that post to let us know you did your plank. We’ll encourage each other through the 4 weeks, and hopefully share our progress!

How do you do a plank with proper form? You can watch a quick video from Fitness magazine here. Do pay attention to form- I don’t want anyone to get hurt! And of course if you have any back issues or injuries that put you at risk for injury modify or consult your doctor first!!

What are the benefits of doing a plank? It’s a wonderful way to strengthen your core, but also your upper and lower body. It can increase your flexibility, improve your posture, and have a positive effect on your mood! I’m excited about all of those things! I hope you’ll join us 🙂

 

 

Progress & Pictures

I just did something that makes me feel a little like a crazy person, like I’m a little unhinged from reality…I posted before and after pictures on my Stay at Home Fit Facebook page.

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This was hard for many reasons- I hate pictures of myself, always have. I just hate them- I’m not very photogenic, they make me more self-conscious, blah blah blah. All of this coaching stuff has gotten me to confront my discomfort for sure. Sweaty selfies are still painful, but I know they’re important. They hold me accountable. People who are supporting me (and maybe whom I’m motivating) might be motivated by actually seeing me going through the motions. So I get it and that’s why I do it, and I think- you know what? It’s probably really good for me too.

Half-naked pictures though in the dead of winter? Ugh. Takes it to a whole new level. But I felt like I owed it to some people to share my progress. There’s one person in particular who is in my head- she’s encouraged me, and her comments have inspired me too- inspired me to take better care of myself- eat better, workout harder, really commit to what I’m doing. I felt like I owed it to her to show her my physical progress. If I saw someone post on and off for 8 weeks about this great new program, when it was over I’d want some kind of conclusion I think. Like, “So? What happened?”

Well, this is what happened…

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I have mixed feelings to be honest. And it’s hard to share some of it- I feel vulnerable. I also want to be positive and have a good attitude, but part of me is just sick of my damn belly. Yes, I love my belly- it was home to 4 beautiful children, it’s mine, it’s healthy, I’m strong and all that. All that is true. And I think the last 3 years have been a turning point in my health and fitness because of a change of mindset- I went from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be strong and fit. I am also a thousand times more confident than I’ve ever been, at any time in my life. All that said, it kinda sucks when you work out consistently and eat really healthy and you still have a muffin top.

I have progressed- I am proud of my body and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t dread getting dressed like I used to….I just have this trouble spot. The better part of me just wants to be patient and knows that if I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll continue to progress. I think part of the reason my middle is lagging behind the rest of me is that the belly is often the last part to go. I think it’s also because I never in my life worked my core. I have no muscle memory in there. Never having been fit or in shape means I have a lot more work to do. Also, it’s my body type. I’m an apple, if you like the whole fruit thing.

Your body is part of who you are, like it or not. For most of us, our physical selves affect our mental and emotional selves. Number one, it’s healthier to be fit, to lose weight (especially weight around our middle, like my pet), to exercise and eat healthy, of course. But feeling good about ourselves is important too. We don’t have to be skinny, or look like a supermodel, or aspire to some unrealistic airbrushed body type, but as my husband once said, “It’s hard to get out of bed when your pants don’t fit.” It’s nice to feel comfortable with your physical self, it’s nice to fit comfortably in your clothes.

Part of me was afraid to share because I feel like some people might be like, “she does all this work and looks like that? why bother?” I can’t worry about that. I can tell you I am proud of the glimmer of abs on the horizon. For the first time in my life I am seeing the beginnings of definition. I can also tell you that my body has transformed over the last 3 years- from the outside and the inside. My legs are strong and muscular, I have biceps, my upper body is strong and looks strong. I am healthier. I am no longer plagued by stomach trouble like i was almost my whole life, I feel a thousand times better, I have more energy. The most wonderful part is the mental and emotional part, though. That has meant the most to me.

Overall, I think before and after pictures are so helpful as part of your fitness journey. They are motivating and they are a better gauge of progress than the scale. That little bugger is temperamental, and we have all heard how muscle weighs more than fat and all that. I think taking “before” pictures before beginning a workout program really gets you in the right mindset, too. I know it sucks taking them. I know you feel ridiculous (and maybe like a crazy person) taking them. But I also know that they serve a useful purpose, and you might look back at them one day and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

So what next? I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I love my workouts and I love my clean eating. And after my next round of Hammer & Chisel I’m going to share some new pictures and we’ll see what happens. Either way, i’m going to focus on the positives and be kind to myself about all those things that bug me.

Finishing a Workout Program

Yesterday was the last day of Les Mills Pump for me! I love finishing a workout program. There is a real feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. I’m proud of myself! It was hard; some of these workouts are an hour long. I struggled through some of them, and there were some days I didn’t want to start.

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Les Mills Pump is a 13-week program, so it’s been part of my life for a while now. Finishing a program is kind of a big deal. If you’re like me, you can probably think back to lots of fitness programs or diets or workout fads you started and didn’t finish.  And I think that might be part of the magic of Beachbody. You commit to a program, and something about the way it’s all mapped out helps you succeed. When you succeed, you feel good, you can see and feel results, and you are motivated to continue. When you commit to a program, see it through  to the end, and complete it you feel so good. You feel proud of yourself. I love this quote about self-esteem and I think it’s so true.

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I am proud of who I am as a person, and I’m proud of various things I’ve done in my life. I’m proud of being a stay-at-home-mom. But there are few things I see the finish of day-to-day as a stay-at-home mom. I’m not handing in a project by a deadline or getting an A in a class. I’m tremendously proud of my children, and I have feelings of satisfaction when my children do something, but it’s pride and awe of them and who they are and joy at being the one who gets to watch these moments. I feel good about stuff, and I love being home with them. There’s nothing I’d rather do. But sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the needs and desires of your family, and feel a little lost (as an individual) in the shuffle.

When I finish a tough workout I feel proud of myself. It’s a great way to start the day. And the feeling I get when I finish a whole program is amazing….

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I beat myself up about my tendency to start things and not finish them. I also hate the quote, “It’s the thought that counts” because I have terrible follow-through. I’m scatter-brained at home, I write notes to people and don’t send them, I have gifts meant for people from three years ago in my closet…Follow-through is not my strong suit. But I finished Les Mills Pump. And Insanity, and Piyo, and P90X3, and Chalean Extreme, and every other Beachbody program I’ve started. I stick to it and I am so proud of that. I’ve made a commitment to my health and well-being and I haven’t given up, I’ve made changes for life.

This program was great and I definitely feel stronger than I ever have. I did an Insanity workout on one of my cardio days and I could do more than I used to be able to do, and do some of the moves that I really used to struggle with.

I also run faster. When I run up a hill I feel like my quads and hamstrings are powering me up…I feel them engage and think of my workouts! A few years ago I don’t think I knew what a quad was 🙂

I see the glimmer of abs on the horizon, too…my stomach is definitely my most difficult area. I am an apple for sure, and it is very frustrating. I am trying to be patient, but I’ll admit I have days where I get just plain pissed off that my middle isn’t further along. This program definiltey gave them a nudge in the right direction, though. I can see a little bit of definition.

My “core” also feels stronger. I can keep my lower back pressed to the floor during crunches, which I could never really do before. I think having a complete lack of muscle in my core is what’s making it take so long…I think I had so far to go to build any muscle that it made doing the exercises difficult and made for some slow progress. I know if I keep up the clean eating, and stay consistent with my exercise, I’ll see more results. I just have to watch that I don’t get impatient and sabotage my hard work with crappy eating! I’m so good so much of the time, but I still struggle with stress eating sometimes!

So there is a great feeling of satisfaction that comes with completing one of these programs. It’s also exciting! And it’s fun. I loved Les Mills Pump. I am soooo excited to start my next program: Hammer & Chisel. I feel like a little kid over these programs sometimes. I can’t wait for it to start!

Between now and then I will be busy with the wonderful Christmas season. I’ll play around with some workouts I haven’t done in a while or have been wanting to try. I’ll definitely throw a few Pump workouts in there to stay on top of the gains I’ve made. I’ll eat clean hopefully 80% of the time and enjoy the other 20% without feeling too guilty!

What are you going to do to stay on track during the holidays?

 

My Review of the 3 Day Refresh

I just tried the 3 Day Refresh for the first time in September. Before I began, I googled it to get an idea of what I was in for…and I was terrified by what I saw. Well, maybe terrified is a slight exaggeration. But I was nervous- it seemed terrible!

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I LOVE the 3 Day Refresh!!! It was difficult, yes, but not terribly difficult. I never felt woozy or light-headed or sick. I didn’t cramp up or have trouble sleeping. And when it was over…I felt AMAZING! I was elated, full of energy, and had zero cravings for anything other than healthy food. The feelings lasted a while, too.

I did not lose a ton of weight. I had seen stories of people losing 8 or 9 pounds, or at least 5 or 6. I lost about 3 pounds, but I’m not a drop-weight kind of person. I am pretty near my goal weight (if I had to pick a number- I know it’s not all about that number, but I do have one in my head). I was happy though. It did nudge me past a number I’ve been stuck at for a while. And while I felt a little deflated on the third morning when I looked at the scale, the way I felt the next day more than compensated for it- I felt so good.

So I’ll give you a run-through of what the 3 days look like…each day is pretty much the same. I kept my foods pretty much the same too, but you are given some choices in the guide book.

My box arrived and everything is very clearly spelled out for you…

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Basically, you have Shakeology for breakfast, along with a serving of fruit. So I had strawberry Shakeology blended with ice and water, and half a banana each day for breakfast. Mid-morning I had a cup of green tea. Coffee is allowed, but this was my first time doing it and I wanted to do it by the book to get the best results. In the late morning you drink a fiber drink. It was not tasty, but it was not awful either. I just chugged it down. It reminded me of Metamucil.

For lunch, you have a shake, a fruit option, a veggie option, and a healthy fat. I loved lunch! So I would have the shake (I did not like the shake- I ended up chugging the shake down, too) and half a grapefruit, and celery with sun butter. It felt so satisfying.

You can also have an afternoon snack, and I loved this too. I had celery and almond butter every afternoon. I had never had almond butter before because of nut allergies in the house. But I was very careful and cleaned up well after eating it…and it was soooo good! Very satisfying snack.

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Dinner consists of a shake and an option from a list of recipes. I had the same thing each day- a big old salad. It seemed like the most food to me! And it was tasty- a little olive oil and sunflower seeds. Yum!

The 3-Day Refresh guide offers you a list of options for the fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and dinners you get each day. You can also have vegetable broth with dinner. I had it the first two nights, but not the third. There is no animal protein included in the three days, which is why I chose the package where the vegan Shakeology is included. Plant protein is easier to digest.

I felt pretty good the 3 days. I was definitely hungry, but like I said earlier, it was not terrible. I exercised the first and third days (a short workout) and went for a walk with my husband and children on the second day. So I wasn’t languishing on a coach somewhere. I did have a slight, dull headache the whole three days. I’m guessing that was from no coffee!

I’ve always had mixed feelings about cleanses…I believe our bodies are pretty efficient at doing what they need to do, so we don’t really need cleanses. But then I feel like our bodies are up against so much- so many toxins come into them from the food we eat and the air we breathe. They work hard all the time, maybe a cleanse is a good way to help the body out. A cleanse is a good way to reset the body and help you get your eating on the right track. I also think cleanses can be useful when you’re feeling stuck. Sometimes you can break through a barrier with a cleanse and your body is revved up for better weight loss.

The 3-Day Refresh definitely helped me with my cravings. When I finished, all I craved was good, healthy, natural food. I felt fantastic. My energy was also through the roof. I felt truly elated- happy, strong, positive, refreshed. It was wonderful! And I will definitely do it again and again, periodically to give my body a break, or after a vacation or holiday, to get back into good habits. And (ugh- my first time sharing pictures like this anywhere!) I was happy with my results!! Excuse the mess behind me 🙂

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My tips for the 3-Day Refresh:

  • Plan Ahead. Definitely make sure you have everything you need for each day ahead of time. You don’t want to get caught hungry!
  • Time it Right. Don’t plan to do it when you have a special occasion or a big event. The added stress won’t help! Try to do it when you don’t have much going on. I also found the first day the hardest, so maybe plan around a weekend.
  • Drink your Water. Drink, drink, drink. It will help you to feel more full.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. Yes, I’m a Beachbody coach, but I truly loved the way I felt when it was all over. And I did not gain the weight back on day 4. In fact, I’ve since lost a few more pounds! It helped me break through a plateau. That’s a big success for me.

Have you ever tried the 3-Day Refresh?

 

My Beachbody Story

In June of 2012 I went to a friend’s house for coffee. I had just had my fourth baby, a boy, in May. I love this friend, and I don’t see her very regularly, but when we get together we have a ton of stuff to talk about. That day she told me about a program she saw an infomercial about on TV called Insanity. I had never heard of it…

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I went home that day and watched the informercial on my phone while I nursed my son. It looked pretty crazy. When I spoke to my friend again, I said, “That looks amazing. I just don’t think I could ever do it.” And I believed that. I had never done a pushup outside of a physical fitness test. I may not have even known what a burpee was at the time. I went on with my summer.

It was a fun summer, I’m sure. But there was a growing uneasiness inside me. I had gotten “almost fit” before my fourth with a brief stint of running. But I was feeling very heavy, very uncomfortable in my own skin. My husband has a quote I love: “It’s hard to get out of bed when your pants don’t fit.” And that is so true! All vanity aside, this is the body we live in and spend the day in and we have to clothe it and when we can’t do that comfortably it just sucks. I felt out of control, weak, helpless, unhealthy.

That September, my birth month, I just did it- I ordered Insanity. It was somewhat impulsive, but I feel like it had been floating around in my head since June. It was a lot of money for us; money is tight with me staying at home and I probably had no business spending $120 on a fitness program. But I did it. And I tracked the shipping every single day.

When it arrived I took the fit test. I almost threw up. That would happen again a few times that week. And throughout the program. I also cried a few times. But I stuck with it and I somehow loved it. I loved the craziness of it. I loved what I was doing with my body. I loved pushing myself to the point of tears. I loved the challenge and the sense of accomplishment that came after. And I saw results. Pretty quickly. I saw improvements in what I was doing, and I saw changes in my body. That was very satisfying. When I saw friends at Thanksgiving that I hadn’t seen since Labor Day, it was an almost jaw-dropping reaction. All of this was good for my self-esteem, my confidence. I also started to thrive on the joy you get from exercise- the endorphins, the good feelings it generates, the improvement in your mood. I became a better mother- I was happier, more fun. I had more energy and more patience because I was becoming more at peace with myself. I felt better, so my mood was better, so I treated those around me better.

I also loved the example I was setting for my kids. They watched me a lot in those days; we only have one TV in our house. They watched me sweat and struggle and push through and finish and feel proud. I think those were good lessons for physical challenges and any other challenge. I was proud of myself.

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I would go on to do Insanity again, and then I tried other Beachbody programs. I joined a Facebook accountability group (grudgingly) and was surprised by how much I liked the sharing and the support. I have loved every program I have done- Insanity, T25, Insanity: The Asylum, P90X3, PiYo, Chalene Extreme, 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Insanity Max 30. They are all motivating and they give you results. The variety is great, but you know you’re gonna see progress. My body is completely different than it ever was; I used to wonder if you could change your body and I have learned that you can!

I have learned a ton about nutrition and clean eating with the programs. And I continue to grow…I have a lot of fitness goals yet to meet. I need to work on some issues. I want to do a pull-up, unassisted. Pushups drive me crazy; I want to be able to bang out 20 pushups no problem. I still have a sweet tooth that pops up unexpectedly and won’t go away. But my pants fit. It is much easier to get out of bed when your pants fit, when you don’t feel like you’re expanding like a balloon.

There is a particular moment that sticks out in my mind from years ago…I was on a canoe trip. It was one of the funnest days ever. I had a great time. But I remember being in the water, with clothes on and a life vest, and having to climb back into the canoe. I couldn’t do it. I felt like a beached whale (I wasn’t particularly heavy at the time- just totally out of shape) and I couldn’t do it. I shrugged it off and somehow got back in and had fun the rest of the day. But I was struck by that feeling of not being able to haul my fat self back into the canoe.

I think part of the success I’ve had the last three years has been because of a shift in goals…yes, I would like to be thin and to wear clothes that fit nice and look good. But I mostly want to be strong, to be fit, to be healthy. I want to set goals for myself and meet them; I want to do things I thought I could never do.

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I have become passionate about health and fitness and nutrition and it was three years of loving Beachbody that finally got me to become a coach. I wanted to add Shakeology to my life, too, and knew the discount would help out there. So I signed up…and I love the added motivation and accountability that being a coach brings. I love seeing it change other peoples’ lives that way it has changed mine. I get downright mushy about it, because it has genuinely changed every part of my life. And all for the good.

Working Out at Home

I chose “Stay at Home Fit” as a title for my blog because when I finally started getting fit, it happened at home. I am a stay-at-home-mom now, and have been for almost ten years, but this isn’t just for stay-at-home-moms or dads; it’s for anyone who wants to get fit at home!

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I have never belonged to a gym…for many reasons. One, I’m kind of shy and don’t have any desire to go to a gym. Two, I have four kids and I feel lucky to go to the bathroom by myself or get out to run errands without a full minivan. It wouldn’t be easy to get out on my own. Three, it’s expensive, and not something I would prioritize for our budget.

I know some people love the social part of going to the gym, and some people like the childcare provided by many gyms. The only part of belonging to a gym that does appeal to me is the classes- I’d love to go to a yoga class a few times a week, or try a spin class. But that’s not for me, at least not for a while.

So, in all fairness, I have never belonged to a gym and I have never really had the desire to belong to a gym. I understand the appeal of them, but here are my top reasons I love working out at home

  • I love working out at home because of the convenience! I would not want to be bothered with getting dressed to go work out at a gym. Even the minimum effort it would require to be presentable for other people seems like too much work. I can wear ratty old workout clothes and I don’t care what my hair looks like.
  • I also like not having to leave the house. It cuts back on the time involved since I’m not traveling anywhere. Plus I don’t have to go out in the cold or the rain.
  • I don’t need childcare. Most of the time I exercise before my children wake up in the morning. On the days that doesn’t happen, they occupy themselves or they watch a show. Every once in a while they interrupt me, but for the most part they don’t now. It used to be harder, but they have really gotten used to it. Even my two-year old lets me finish the workout most times…occasionally adding some resistance to my push ups as he climbs on my back. And sometimes the others even join in, which makes it kinda fun.
  • It is sooo much more cost-effective. The workout programs I use are a one time expense, and I get a lot of use out of them! My sister and I also share programs sometimes. And with the new Beachbody OnDemand available, there is another way to expand your workout collection for a small cost!
  • I get that going to the gym and having friends there might add a sense of accountability. Plus, if you are a stay-at-home or work-at-home person, just getting out of the house might be worth the cost and trouble of a gym! But I like being able to do it at home, on my own schedule. I do believe having someone (or some ones) you are accountable to makes a big difference in motivation and results. I reluctantly joined a Facebook accountability group, and ended up loving it! Now I’m part of a few and they are great motivation, and a great source of support, and a lot of fun. These groups really feel like a social connection for me, and they are important in my fitness routines.

I won’t even talk about germs…but they matter to me too!

So, Stay at Home Fit is about getting fit at home, whether you work outside the home or not. It’s what’s worked for me. I would like to get out more as the weather gets nicer, to start running more. I have also enjoyed yoga classes and as my kids get older would like to join classes here and there…

But I see at-home fitness always being a mainstay in my fitness. I love all the Beachbody programs I have tried- Insanity, Insanity: The Asylum, T25, P90X3, Piyo, Chalean Extreme, 21 Day Fix, Insanity Max 30. I have my favorites, but I would honestly do all of them over again, and plan to! You can also create hybrid workout calendars, blending two programs, or a chosen program and running. The variety is enough to keep things interesting, and to keep your body guessing. I get excited about picking my next workout program!

I also think working out at home is a good option if you’re self-conscious about exercise. It’s all about you there. Just make sure to set yourself up for success- find a workout partner, write down your goals, post inspirational and motivational pictures and sayings. And be patient with yourself…it is all worth it! Once you get hooked, you’ll love it, and you’ll love what you can do:)

My Review of the 21 Day Fix

I was really surprised by this program. I did not expect to love it…but I love the 21 Day Fix! And I don’t know anyone who has completed the program that doesn’t love it!

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The 21 Day Fix was also the program I chose for the first Facebook accountability group I started on my own. And I love that group. One of the participants had the following to say about it:

“i can’t believe we are done with round one. i am pretty damn impressed with myself and ready for round two. my scale moved and i feel great. i have never worked out everyday. the most i ever got to the gym was three days a week. i have learned so much…..
here is what i learned
1. working out everyday is doable when you have a plan
2. you will not die from working out a little everyday
3. you do not need to drown your salads in salad dressing. it is actually nice to be able to taste the vegetables.
4. a baked sweet potato is very yummy with out two pats of butter
5. having buddies keeping you accountable really works”

She was and still is one of the highlights of the group- always posting, always commenting positively, posting recipes and motivating quotes. And when she posted this, without me asking her to, I loved it! It’s a great summary of what you can get from the 21 Day Fix.

There are so many great things about the program (I like Autumn- the trainer, I like Kat- the modifier, I like the daily quotes on the chalkboard in the background) but here are a few points I think it’s important to mention…

  • One of the great things about the 21 Day Fix is that it’s 21 days. A longer program can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new or just getting back to exercise. It feels manageable.
  • Another great thing is that you can get results fast. And that’s motivating. It makes you want to keep it up.
  • The eating plan spells it all out for you. The 21 Day Fix containers make it easy and kinda fun; having a new knickknack adds a certain something to planning it out.photo-6
  • You can still eat all types of food- you’re not cutting out any food group. You can have carbs, just not with every meal.
  • The workouts are totally doable. First of all, they’re 30 minutes so it’s not too daunting and you can usually find that kind of time in your day. Second, there’s a modifier, so even if you could push yourself, you know you can modify and take it a little easier if you want to.
  • There’s a different workout each day. You don’t get sick of the workouts, because they’re different each day.
  • The format of the workouts makes the time pass quickly! Most of the workouts are done in rounds, with a given number of exercises in each round. This is also nice if there’s one exercise your really hate! You know you only have to do it twice and then it’s done…until next week:)
  • You learn lifelong good habits. Like the quote above, you learn to like salad with less dressing, vegetables with less butter or cheese. You eat vegetables more often than you used to.
  • It teaches you balance. You can eat anything you want, just not all the time. I can eat pizza. I can eat pizza every week. But…if I know I’m having pizza on Saturday, and I find myself faced with pizza on a Friday, I can choose to eat pizza then and there or wait and have it Saturday. If I’m having ice cream and cake for a birthday, I’ll try to avoid carbs during the day. And none of it is deprivation; I am making healthy choices and I feel good about them.

This last one was a big eye-opener for me. For the last few years I have been eating really healthy foods. Most of the time. Because of that, I sometimes felt entitled to eat junk as if it didn’t really count. But junk adds up. If we have pizza once a week there’s a splurge. If we make cookies and I have a few (or eat some cookie dough, or both) there’s a splurge. If my mom brings over a bag of Double Chocolate Milanos, there’s a splurge. If I have tea with my friend and she buys a bag of Double Chocolate Milanos (can you tell they’re my favorite?), there’s a splurge. If I buy pink Hershey’s kisses for Valentines Day to put in my kids’ lunch boxes and happen to eat 3 or 4 or 27 there’s a splurge. And this could all happen in one week. And not seem like I was really being so bad, because it was over the course of a week. And it wasn’t like I went out to dinner and had fettucine alfredo and chocolate cake for dessert. It was dribs and drabs, but they add up.

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The 21 Day Fix forces you to be more mindful of your food choices, and to see each individual choice as part of a bigger picture.

The 21 Day Fix workouts are as follows:

  • Total Body Cardio Fix- works the whole body using weights
  • Upper Body Fix- focuses on the upper body, uses weights
  • Lower Body Fix- focuses on the lower body, uses weights
  • Pilates Fix- my favorite Pilates ever. A nice change of pace, but you will feel it!
  • Cardio Fix- cardio, no weights
  • Dirty 30- lots of cardio, with weights, challenging
  • Yoga Fix- a nice yoga workout; you’ll feel great at the end.

They are all challenging, but not so hard that they’re daunting. I’ve been working out with Beachbody programs for over 2 1/2 years and it was a good, challenging workout. I have friends who are in better shape than I am, and used to exercising hard, who love this program. But you could do it if you haven’t worked out in years, if you have a lot of weight to lose, if you are completely out of shape. I would really recommend it to almost anyone!

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The 21 Day Fix is a total package. It is so healthy. The first few days you might feel a little hungry, but it’s never terrible. You really do get to eat a lot of food. And after those first few days I remember saying, “I feel amazing!” You will feel healthier, stronger, you can almost feel the results happening right there in that first week. It’s a wonderful feeling!

Insanity

 

I had my fourth baby, a beautiful boy named Danny, in May of 2012.  In just the couple years previous I had gotten my first taste of meeting a goal with exercise- I stuck with a training program and ran a half-marathon in 2010.  It took me almost 2 1/2 hours, but I did it!  And it was very fulfilling to have finally stuck with something.  But, once again, I lapsed on the exercise front and gained a ton of weight during my fourth pregnancy- hitting my highest weight ever.

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During the summer of 2012 I visited a friend and she told me about Insanity.  I had never heard of it before, but I was intrigued.  When I went home that day I watched an infomercial online and texted my friend something along the lines of …”that looks amazing.  But I don’t think I could ever do that.”  I watched those people doing the workout and really believed in my heart that was something I could/would never do…

By the end of the summer I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but that weight was still pretty high!  I felt heavy and bloated, weighed down by my own body.  I watched so many people around me exercising- going for runs or bike rides, playing basketball, just being active.  And I felt bad about myself- wondered why nothing ever stuck for me, ever worked for me.  Wondered what was wrong that I just couldn’t keep with it.  I had never found something I loved or thrived at on my own.  Nothing had ever “clicked” for me…

Running had been ok, but progress was slow and I didn’t really see any results.  When I was running I was proud of myself for sticking with it, happy that I found some pleasure in it, and fulfilled by meeting a goal.  But I didn’t really look or feel much more “in shape” than I had at the start and I was still pretty slow.  Plus, I wavered in my commitment.

That summer I knew I was probably not going to have another baby, that my body would really be my own again.  I wanted to finally take charge of it, get healthy and fit and feel good about myself.

My 37th birthday was that September and I ordered Insanity for myself.  It was a splurge- money is a little tight around here with me being at home with the kids for so long.  But I bought it as a present for myself, and I tracked it’s shipping each day.  Maybe that’s part of the reason it became my click, the investment and the anticipation.

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Insanity came in the mail and I started right away.  The first week was definitely insane!  I almost threw up during one of the first workouts and I have never sweat like that in my life.  But I stuck with it…there were times I cried during and/or after.  It was really intense.  I didn’t miss a workout.  I stuck with it like I had never stuck with anything before.  I worked out at night back then, after all four kids were in bed but before Danny would wake up to be nursed!

 

And the results were insane, too.  I lost 25 pounds doing Insanity, and changed my body.  That Thanksgiving I saw friends I hadn’t seen since the summer and they couldn’t believe the change.  It felt good to get such amazing results so quickly- it was gratifying and motivating.  It also felt good to notice physical gains; the progress was evident one week to the next.  By the end of the whole program I was not only lighter and thinner, but I was more flexible and stronger.  I could do things that I hadn’t been able to do at the start.  The first time I went for a run after completing Insanity, I ran my fastest three miles ever- easily!  I hadn’t run in months, but the conditioning I got from Insanity meant more than all those months I had put into running when it was all I did.

And I love Shaun T.  I loved him then, and I love him even more now.  I liked the bootcamp style of Insanity; I don’t really like dance-y kinds of workouts.  I liked the intense intervals and the breaks in between.  I also liked seeing the people in the video, watching them struggle but get it done.  Something about the whole thing worked for me.

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Insanity was the beginning.  I have not stopped exercising since.  I…love to exercise!  I eat so much better now, too.  I feel better than ever and happier than ever.  I used to make excuses about not exercising because it was unfair to my children, it took away from their time.  I could not have been more wrong- it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for them!  It’s made me a better mother.  And at this point in my life, everything comes back to my children.  So this part means a lot.

My fitness journey…

My fitness journey sounds very corny, but I’m not sure what else to call it.  I have never in my life been as “fit” as I am right now, but I still have a long way to go to meet my goals.  So…I’m in progress, evolving, keeping on in my journey.

I was never an athlete, and never an exerciser.  I always wanted to lose weight or fit in smaller clothes; I would look around at other people with envy.  But my desire to be thin was never impetus enough to stick with anything.  (I had one particularly vigorous go at running in college and I roped my roommate into it…she went on to lose 40 pounds and compete in triathlons.  I lasted about a week before wimping out.)

My first ever organized sporting event was a 5K I ran when I was 35 or so…it felt really good to finish that race, even if it was finished very slowly.  I still remember the first time I ran three miles without stopping- my kids were waiting at the end and I cried when I got there.  Exercising brings out lots of things in us…it is empowering and emotional.  I never knew it could be all these things.  I always viewed it more as a superficial endeavor- a means to a skinny end.  Unless you were an athlete I kind of thought of exercise as a vain hobby.

I’m happy to say I’ve come to know all the things exercise can be…and in the process I’ve grown as a person.  I love to exercise now and I love feeling strong and healthy.  Over the last couple years, I have tried different kinds of exercise and have learned a lot about nutrition, too.  Like I said before, it’s ongoing.  I’m not perfect, but the person I am now is so different from the person I was when I began.  I still struggle to eat right and I have days when it’s really hard to get my workout in because I didn’t get up early and do it…but that’s ok.  I’m making better choices all the time…choosing to be healthy and fit, choosing to be happy.