Thursday, June 25, 2015

Running update - 2/3 of the way there!

My first update was after 1 1/2 weeks of running.  This update is after a grand total of 3.  So I am obviously still quite the beginner.  But we often learn the most when we're first starting out, so I thought I'd post about my progress, and what I've learned.

So first of all, the main thing I've learned during my second 1 1/2 weeks:

It actually does make sense to "warm up" and stretch before running!  Yes, I had read that.  In multiple places.  But when I used to lift weights, I warmed up by running!  So why did I need to warm up to run if running was a warm-up?  What I've realized is that 30 minutes of running is very different from 5.  During a longer run or walk/jog, we use the same muscles in a repetitive way for a long period of time.  That places a different type of strain on them and on the connective tissues.  It makes sense to warm those muscles up and lightly stretch them before that repetitive use.  That is very different from the type of muscle use we do during weight lifting. 

If you are a runner and starting to lift weights - note that the opposite is true for weight-lifting!  Do not do static stretches before weight lifting, or you will increase your chance of injury.  (A little dynamic stretching is good - but not static.)

Running with friends is fun!!!  SO SO SO fun!  Yup, I finally ran with a friend.  We jogged together on Sunday, both pushing our toddlers in our jogging strollers.  And then we jogged together again on Tuesday, with her pushing a toddler and me all on my own.  Jogging together definitely helped me with pacing - I went at a nice slow easy-to-maintain pace.  And I certainly can talk while maintaining that pace!  I'm hoping I didn't talk her ear off - but I figure she still wants to jog with me, so that's a good sign.  :) 
Since this is one of the friends that I'll be running the 5k with, I feel like a couple jogs a week with her are great 5k training.  That made me feel free to do what I wanted on my third jog of the week - so I did my favorite without worrying about it - I let myself go as fast as I wanted for a mile or so until I got tired, and then walked for a minute or two to recover, ran fast again for 2/3 of a mile, walked again, and so on.  I still end up going much faster on average when I do this than when I jog steadily at the conversational pace.  The key is that this time I didn't beat myself up mentally about the walking bits.  I work my lungs and hearts a lot more this way, so I figure the two types of jogs serve different purposes and both are good - I'll do one or two nice steady conversational jogs with my friend per week, and one or two heart/lung/speed workouts per week, and enjoy both!

T25, while designed for runners, is a little intense to start while also starting a running program.  Starting both at the same time was a little like increasing my mileage too quickly - apparently the most common mistake that new runners make.  So I've put T25 on hold for now, and will come back to it once I'm more established in my running.  In the meantime, I'm using my 21DFX videos for my cross training.

And here are my distances and paces (underlining a couple of the new ones I'm really proud of):
  • Walk/jog 1 Tues: 2.32 miles, 11:39 pace 
  • Walk/jog 2 Thurs: 2.40 miles, 12:06 pace
  • Walk/jog 3 Sat: 2.28 miles, 12:24 pace, but pushing almost-4-yo in the jogging stroller
  • Walk/jog 1 Mon: 2.54 miles, 10:50 pace 
  • Walk/jog 2 Wed: 2.54 miles, 10:33 pace
  • Steady jog Fri: 2.52 miles, 10:20 pace
  • Walk/jog 1 Mon: 2.54 miles, 10:09 pace
  • Steady jog Wed: 3.12 miles, 11:52 pace
  • Warmup + stretching + jog Sunday: 2.58 miles, 16:48 pace, w/ friend and pushing almost-4-yo in the jogging stroller (note, forgot to pause timer while stretching, so pace is a little slower probably)
  • Warmup + stretching + jog + post-jog walk Tuesday:  3.76 miles, 15:50 pace, w/ friend (note, includes time spent stretching, waiting at stoplights, etc.  So pace is a little slower)
  • Walk/jog 2 Thursday: 3.20 miles, 10:41 pace (I did stretch after the warmup walk, but I paused the timer while I did)
I figure I probably have about 3 jogs or walk/jogs left before the 5k.  Sunday will be with my friend again.  Tuesday may or may not be with my friend.  And Thursday I'll keep my jog a little slower and shorter so I don't tire myself out or risk hurting myself. 

I haven't even done my first 5k, and I have to admit thoughts of a second race are already entering my head.  There's a 10k in my hometown in the fall - I could aim for that if my friends are also interested.  OR, if I can find another 5k, I think it might be fun to try and do an under-30 5k.  I suspect I could if I trained for it.  But I'm not sure if my friends would be interested in going for speed.  For now, I'm focused on having fun with my friends next weekend!  :)

Summer accessories - a new summer purse and sandals

Every Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer I buy myself a couple of key basics.  I usually buy a new pair of shoes - in winter it's usually a pair of boots, booties, or pumps, and in summer it is usually a pair of sandals.  And I often buy a new purse.  Sometimes I'll use the same purse for a few winters in a row or a few summers in a row, but rarely longer than that, as styles and my lifestyle slowly evolve, and as I wear the purses out!

I think Rebecca Minkoff is officially a new favorite for these seasonal basics.  My winter purse - that black one with the zippers - is Rebecca Minkoff.  And both my new summer sandals and my new summer purse are Rebecca Minkoff.  Her stuff is that perfect in-between in terms of quality and price - nice design and good quality, but not high-end designer so a little more reasonably priced.  Her purses are obviously inspired by Chanel, but they aren't straight-up copies, and tend to have a little more edge to them.  One thing to know - her stuff almost always goes on sale.  So if you like her stuff too, but don't want to pay full price, just watch for sales, check places like Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth, etc.  Between those 3 items, the most I paid was 60% of full price. 
I'm super excited about this purse for a couple reasons: The quilted white leather is super nice looking, the studs add a nice little hard/interesting touch, and the strap is super-easily adjustable to be either a short or long strap - so I can wear the purse multiple ways.  I've been looking for a good white leather purse for almost a decade!  I think I finally found one.  Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep it reasonably nice looking.  :)

(Dress: Hand-me-down from that friend, purse: Rebecca Minkoff from, Shoes: Rebecca Minkoff from Saks Off Fifth.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

21 Days to Make or Break a Habit?

As you know, I've been doing 21 day fitness challenges lately, and they are working wonders for me.  I'm actually hosting my own one right now (with two of my best friends as my "challenge group"), and am really enjoying that!

But a lot of beachbody coaches say the reason we do 21 day challenges is that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit.  That's a pretty broad statement, and I found it hard to believe.  I wanted to learn: (1) Does it really take 21 days to make or break a habit?  And, especially if not, (2) What does it take to make or break a habit?  Whether it's work, play, family - we all want to build better habits.

So to give you an idea, my own coaches used these pics when recruiting for their challenge groups.  You have to admit, it is catchy.

But the idea that 21 days is enough to make or break a habit is hard for me to believe. And I am not one to accept a statement like that blindly. 

Being the nerd that I am, I had to read up (including psychology research).

Of everything I read, these two articles were really nice and concise, and helpful. They address the 21 day question, but they also give a nice outline of what you do need to do to build a new habit.  So, if you are trying to build any good new habits, I recommend these articles:

Here's how I would summarize it:
The bad news: If you want to develop a new habit, doing something for 21 days isn't quite enough.
The good news: You CAN develop new habits, and there's a clear process to do so. It may take longer than 21 days, but if you stick with it, you will do it!

So what does it take to develop a new habit?  My interpretation, after reading up, is that there are 3 key elements:
  1. Be clear about your motivation: why are you trying to establish this new habit?  How will you feel if you do it, vs. if you don't?  Where will you be in 5 years if you do it, vs. if you don't?
  2. Be willing to work hard.  You will have to work to build and maintain your habit every day.  There will be many times, especially early on (e.g. that catchy 21 days), but even later (vacation, super-busy periods, ...), when it feels hard.  If you're clear on (1), and remember that you have to fight through, you can maintain that habit. 
  3. Celebrate your success. You are making progress - celebrate that, and if possible have people around you who celebrate it for you too.  This will help you to stay on track, and stick with it.
By it's very definition, a habit will become easier to maintain as it becomes more established.  But there will always be temptations to go back to old ways.  I think these three core pieces are important regardless of what the habit is - whether it is being efficient and effective at work, maintaining a workout routine, eating healthy, or putting your phone away so you play actively with the kids in the evening.  Regardless of the habit you want to build and maintain, it's always important to keep these three in mind.  

And back to the beginning: When it comes to these 21 day fitness challenges - they do help with the habit formation process.  And doing multiple of them can help to keep you on track to truly establish new exercise and eating habits.  A good coach, who asks you to think about your motivation, posts information and reminders (and "rules" like never go more than 3 days without working out - even when you're on vacation!) to keep you working hard, and a group that is celebrating your progress with you, will help.  But in the end, a single 21 day fitness challenge probably isn't going to change your life.  It probably is going to improve your fitness from what it was 21 days earlier.  :) 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Matching shoes and shirt

It's the first day of Summer!!!  Well, from a school perspective it is - I am done with Spring quarter grading, and I am NOT teaching nights.  Woo-hoo!!!  That means I am back to my standard up-at-5 routine, and while it's going to take a tiny bit of re-adjusting, I'm excited about that.

It also means I can pull out the summer work clothes.  To be fair, since my workplace has no dress code whatsoever, I could wear any of this any time of year.  But to me, summer is a time for more skirts and dresses, more flats and wedges, more cropped pants, and more short sleeves, and maybe even (gasp) a sleevless top or two, with a cardigan just in case I get the urge to cover up.  

So on my first day of Summer clothing, I pulled out this fun blouse.  I love the color - it is a super vibrant rich green.  The color shows best, as usual, in the close-up.  And, I happen to have a pair of shoes in the same green.  Hence the title of this post.

I realize that it's a little cliche to match shoes and shirt.  It also makes me look shorter - a pair of black heels would have been quite leg-lengthening with this outfit.  But I love it anyway!  I just can't resist every once in a while.  

I kept my accessories simple, as I often do.  I just wore a small pair of dangly black earrings and my watch and rings.  The neck-tie on this blouse, plus the color itself, are my main accessories.  

What do you think of matching shoes and shirt?  Cute, cliche, or just too stumpifying? 

(Top: New York and Company, Pants: White house black market, Shoes: Bandolino from DSW)

The "container" approach to diet/nutrition

The 21 day fix and 21 day fix extreme container approach to diet and nutrition are getting a lot of publicity lately.  I've had three different friends mention that they've read about it online or seen something about it on TV.  Since I've been using them on and off for almost two months now, I thought I'd share my perspective.


The basic concept is that there are color-coded containers for different food categories, along with a booklet explaining what foods belong in which categories, which foods are just plain no-nos, and which foods can be considered for a once a week treat ("extreme" doesn't allow treats, but I gave myself some anyway :) ).

Depending on your calorie needs - based on your gender, weight, activity level, and weight loss goals - you eat the corresponding number of each container.  For example, when I started out and was trying to lose weight, I was eating 2 "yellows" of carbs and 2 "purples" of fruit a day.  Now that I'm just trying to maintain, I'm up to 3 "yellows" of carbs and 3 "purples" of fruit.

For me, this approach was perfect.  It really drove me to eat healthy foods.  But I don't have to obsess about counting calories, or macro-nutrients (carb/protein/fat grams) and ratios.  I just kept a running tally of my containers as the day progressed, and after a few days it became super easy.  It is quick and simple.

The basic idea is that if you follow the containers - some days you will have more calories and some less, but it will work out to be about where you should be.  And you will have the right nutrients.  I like that philosophy.

After using the containers consistently for a few weeks, I took a couple weeks off, and found that my eating habits slowly became worse again, but they remained better than before I had started.  Then I just resumed using the containers again, to kick myself back into shape.

Sample Meals/Snacks

Here are a few of my favorite container-based meals.  Now the crazy thing is that the meals I've pictured below still don't add up to my required total.  So on a typical day I'd have to eat all this, plus some!  That's another amazing thing to me about this plan.  I ended up eating actually more than I used to.  It's just that it is such healthy food, that I still ended up slimming down. 

One red (protein) - 8 egg whites (scrambled with vanilla and cinnamon), 1 purple (fruit: same size as green, and I misplaced my purple!) - a pear chopped up.  And some coffee w/ stevia.

Snack (not pictured)
1 red (6 oz) of plain greek yogurt + 1 purple (1 cup) of blueberries

1 red of chicken plus 1 green of onions and bell peppers, plus about 1/8 purple of salsa (not pictured but I would often add - some avacado (blue container - healthy fats)):
(And yes, that is a full-size dinner plate, and not a salad plate.)

1 green of celery sticks + 2 tsp of peanut butter

Lamb stew with lamb (red), garbanzo beans (yellow), carrots and onions (green), and currants (purple)

Post-workout snack/Dessert:
Shakeology protein shake, made with a little bit of greek yogurt and lots of ice to make a super-yummy dessert.  And you know, if it's Friday, maybe a little bonus scotch.  ;)  That one's not part of the plan.

Why do containers make sense?

It seems like most people fall into one extreme or another when it comes to counting calories and watching what they eat: Either don't have the time or energy to keep it up, or they end up obsessing and it becomes psychologically unhealthy. 

The Weight Watchers point system was designed with that in mind, and has worked for thousands of people (mostly women) over the decades.  But even with that, for most foods there's a step of checking how many points it's worth.  One also has to measure or weigh food on one's own to make sure it's the right serving size to map to the number of points.

Autumn Calabrese's container approach takes a similar idea - let's simplify healthy eating for people, and make it easy for them to stick with it - and takes it to the next level.

Ultimately, I think it makes sense for one simple reason: It is fast and easy to follow.
And the little details - like the fact that the suggested diet is one that is well balanced and healthy, makes the person using it feel full and satisfied, etc., certainly help.

That's my take!  :)
If you're interested in trying it, Beachbody sells the diet/nutrition component on it's own, or you can buy it in conjunction with the fitness programs (which include 8 different 30-minute super-efficient workouts), or in combination with the fitness programs and the Shakeology super-shake.  The more you buy the bigger the discounts, and I personally recommend the "Challenge Pack" which combines all 3, but all 3 options are available.  You can browse and read up more, or see all the options, on my official Beachbody Coach Site, here, or let me know and I can send you more direct links. You can also see my 21 day fix extreme review and results here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Watercolor pumps take 3

Oh how I love these shoes!  But where oh where is the summer weather so I can break out the white cropped pants with them?!  Not here yet. 

So in the meantime, this outfit is not too different from the one I wore the first day I wore these shoes a few months ago!  Here's a pic of that earlier outfit, so you can see the differences.

I think today's version is better for the office.  Tucked in tops always look more polished and professional to me.  The pants also fit a little better for work now that I've slimmed down a little more (not as tight in the thighs and butt). And I'm super excited about my new skinny belt that perfectly matches the belt and earrings!  :)  But that original outfit was not bad either.  Let's face it, none of us wears *completely* different outfits every day.  And I don't either, even though I do have a way-bigger-than-fits-in-my-closet wardrobe.  Little things like tucking or not tucking, or wearing different belts, can be fun ways to add just a little variety. 

(Blouse and belt: White house black market, Tank: Forever 21, Pants: Express, Shoes: Vince Camuto from DSW, Earrings: old.  2-year old calls them my "candy" earrings.  :) )

Thursday, June 11, 2015

When short on time, Wear a dress

We had a big group going-away lunch for a colleague the other day, but I was completely behind getting ready.  I had to get ready fast and run out the door.  And I knew we would be walking almost a mile to the restaurant, and the same back.  So I threw on a work-appropriate dress, my comfy black pumps (that I really should get rid of because they are a bit run down, but they are still so comfortable I can't bear to), and grabbed my usual black purse.  I took my work bag too, since I was also going to the office, but I didn't want to carry that all the way to the restaurant with me, and my purse is slim enough to slip inside. 

And I got so many compliments!  It's amazing how put together and polished a good dress can look, but it's also so fast and easy!  I have definitely expanded my work-dress collection over the last year, and I'm getting a lot of great use out of it.  For anyone else who finds themselves short on time getting ready - I highly recommend a few great dresses. 

(Dress: White house black market, I sewed the slit down a bit because it was originally too high for work, Purse: Rebecca Minkoff from Nordstrom, Shoes: Bandolino from DSW.  My Sister in law told me the other day that Bandolino often goes on sale at Macy's, so I may have to make an actual trip into a Macy's one of these days - I'm a little scared though....  Macy's and I don't get along all that well...  - More on that later, if I actually try and go.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Running Progress

No pictures - I've been too focused on jogging to pause for pics! The only one I've taken is a post-walk/jog sweaty pic, and you probably don't want to see that. :)

I'm only 1 1/2 weeks into my running, but given that I only have 3 weeks left until the 5k, I'm a third of the way there!! So I figured it was a good time to post.

SO, first the stats:
  • Walk/jog 1 Tues: 2.32 miles, 11:39 pace 
  • Walk/jog 2 Thurs: 2.40 miles, 12:06 pace (a little tired after Tues walk/jog and Wed 21DFX pilates) 
  • Walk/jog 3 Sat: 2.28 miles, 12:24 pace, but pushing almost-4-yo in the jogging stroller and carrying on a conversation the whole time!! (And even more tired after Tues,Wed,Thurs, plus Fri 21DFX upper fix extreme plus 10 minute hardcore abs) 
 Sunday rest day!

  • Walk/jog 1 Mon: 2.54 miles, 10:50 pace!! Woo-hoo! Already starting to see improvement from the 3 walk/jogs last week and a rest day to let my body rebuild itself stronger. :) 
  • Walk/jog 2 Wed: ... before I give my stats - I was totally expecting this one to be worse since I was tired from Mon walk/jog and Tues T25 Total Body Conditioning video - BUT 
  • 2.54 miles, 10:33 pace! Woooo-hoooo! :) 
I'm sure my Friday walk/jog will be a little slower, but I'll take another rest day Sunday and hopefully be able to jog faster/longer again on Monday. I'm hoping to be able to do full jogs, rather than walk/jogs, starting next week. We'll see how it goes.

It's amazing to me to see progress like this already! Overall, I'm following the basic approach of alternating walking and jogging, and increasing the length of the jogging intervals more or less gradually.

I'm doing my walk/jogs 3x a week, on alternate days, with cross-training (using my 21 day fix extreme and T25 videos) 3x a week on days I don't run. Sunday is a rest day.

I'm reading the Runner's World "Complete Book of Women's Running" by Dagny Scott, and it's great. (Thanks K-- for recommending it!!)

I think the main thing I'll have to be careful about is overtraining. I'm trying to keep my cross-training relatively low impact to minimize the strain on my knees. But T25 is *very* jumpy. That's part of why T25 is supposedly so good for runners - it increases speed and power - but I'm really not at an "increase speed and power" stage as much as a "manage to jog without falling apart" stage. So I may hold off on T25 a little until after the 5k and fall back on 21DFX for now. We'll see. I'm going to read the chapter on cross-training tonight before I decide! :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

New shirt, new shoes, old outfit - but better

Navy pinstripe suit, white shirt, red accessories - it's a classic.  But I've been wearing my navy suit so much, and my navy boot-cut pants, that I finally started wanting a pair of navy shoes.  Despite my fairly extensive shoe collection, I have never owned a pair of navy shoes!  I pair all sorts of other colors with navy - black, brown, burgundy, grey, red - and they all work, but they all distract a little and break up the leg line.  But there's something a little grandmothery about most navy shoes to me.  So when I happened upon these on the White House Black Market website, I could hardly believe it - they were stunning!  Super skinny heel, pointed toe, and such an interesting finish - they are a little shimmery and purple-y iridescent under that classic patent finish.  They look like designer shoes, but at a fraction of the price.  But they were only left in a size 11!  So I basically stalked the website for a few weeks, and the moment a size 8.5 was returned, I pounced.

They are just as gorgeous as I had hoped, but it turns out my heel slips out of them like crazy!  They look like designer shoes, but they don't fit like them.  Unfortunately I only figured this out when I got to work today.  So I've basically spent the whole day doing that annoying toe-curling-to-keep-shoes-on thing.  Not good.  Tomorrow I will add a pair of heel grips, and hopefully they will be ready for me next time. 

The blouse is new too.  I'm hoping to get a lot of use out of it.  I don't think anyone can go wrong with another white blouse or button-down, as long as it fits reasonably well. I like that this one is still simple/basic white, but has some nice details.  (As WHBM tends to do.)

(Suit: j-crew, shoes and blouse: white house black market, cami: spanx from Nordstrom, Necklace and belt: old and don't remember where I got them)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tummy bow

When I saw this shirt online, I figured it would either be absolutely adorable, or completely horrible.  Turns out it's not horrible.  :)  I love shirts that combine men's shirting details - this fabric is super men's shirting, the sleeves have a real french cuff, and the collar is nice and high - with something very feminine - like the gathered shoulders, seaming and shaping, and bow.  

I was nervous that the bow on the tummy would look super maternity-ish, and a few of the reviews for this shirt said that it did.  But I think it worked on me.  The shirt is very fitted - it actually has elastic and gathers in the back so that it can perfectly stretch to fit the waist of the wearer.  Being that fitted over the stomach and waist helps to make it look less maternity-ish.  That said, it's probably best not to wear a bow on your tummy unless (1) you are actually pregnant, or (2) your tummy is fairly small.   :)

(And I straightened my bow out a bit before class.  :) )

(Shirt: White house black market, Pants and shoes: Nordstrom)

Hand me downs

One of my mom friends has given my little girl a lot of great hand-me-downs from her daughter.  Yesterday, I got some hand-me-downs from her!  These pics are from trying on one of the dresses - isn't it amazing??  I got 4 dresses and I'm super excited about all of them.  I'm sure I will wear them over the course of the next few months, but I just couldn't wait to share this one.

I love when friends (or sisters) pass clothes to each other, but I always have this doubt about whether someone will be offended when I offer them my hand-me-downs.  Most are in great shape (sometimes never worn or worn once) and are high quality.  I would be happy to get them - and am super happy in this case.  But I still have my doubts.  But now at least I know I can offer this one friend some of mine - I assume she won't be offended!  :)

(L - don't worry, I'm still saving stuff for you.  But since she's shaped more straight like me, I'm going to go through and figure out which ones are better for straight like her vs. curvy like you.  :) )

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Preparing for a 5k in 4 1/2 weeks?

To be fair, I'm not exactly starting from my couch - "couch to 5k in X weeks" seems like a popular internet article headline.  But I also haven't run, jogged, or even walk-jogged, in over 2 1/2 years. And that was just for the 3 weeks in between nursing and being pregnant again.  So other than that 3 weeks, I haven't jogged in 6 years!  And even back then I never jogged more than a mile at a time.

Two of my friends (independently) asked me on Sunday if I'd sign up to do a 5k with them on July 4th.  It sounded like a fun challenge so I went ahead and registered (Sunday was the early registration deadline which saved me 5$ - but I really registered as a commitment device).  Now I have just over 4 weeks to prepare.

I went ahead and looked up training schedules for prepping for a 5k.  They mostly last 8-10 weeks.  I have 4 1/2. ... Oops.

I did a test walk/jog today, where I let myself go at a comfortable pace - able to speak in short sentences - tracked my walk/jog intervals using the timer on my iPhone, and used Map My Fitness to give me overall stats.  It turns out I can do 2.32 miles at an 11:39 pace.  I had to walk a decent amount, but I had one 5-minute and one 7-minute jogging interval in there - so I can also jog for several minutes at a time.  That helps a bit - it means that I should be able to start roughly around week 2-3 of those training programs and cut it down to 6-7 weeks.  ...  I have 4 1/2.  Oops.

So this is going to be tight!  I've put together my own training plan, combining walk/jogs with Focus T25 for running-friendly cross training.  And we'll see how it goes!

Worst case, I walk a bit of my 5k.  But I want to run it!  And in particular, I want to keep pace with my friends and have fun with them on race day.  :)

Sidenote: How awesome is it that I seem fit enough that friends would think to ask me to join them in running a 5k??  That was super cool to me.  It really made me feel like these last couple months of working out are having a really positive visible effect - that I seem fit and energetic to people who know me.

If you're thinking about running a 5k yourself, here are a few helpful links I found.  Runner's World has great training plans for people who can already run 30 minutes at a time. But that is not so helpful for beginners.  These were better:
  • A very practical article with good tips on how to push yourself hard enough but not too hard - this is the reason I thought to use the talk test.  Otherwise I've always run myself a little too hard.  The talk-test run was so much more fun and relaxing than those harder ones I've always done in the past!
  • Hybrid running T25 training plan - my plan works off of this one, but compresses it from 10 weeks to 4 1/2! :)
  • A simple 3-walk/run-per-week training plan - The hybrid plan uses this basic philosophy as well, and it was quite common in the plans I found.  The idea is to alternate walking and running, and each week increase the length of the run segments, eventually getting to the point of all running.  The variation in the plans is usually in minor timing issues, and in what you do on those other 4 days - all have 1 or 2 days of rest, some have more cross-training than others, and some have you run or walk even more.

Monday, June 1, 2015

21 Day Fix Extreme

A picture is worth a thousand words?  Well, here it is:


Those were my results in just 21 days!  In 3 weeks, I lost at least an inch in my waist, I lost inches in my arms, hips and thighs, I lost 2 pounds, and I am stronger and more fit than I have been in years.  (I know for some 2 pounds doesn't sound like much - but keep in mind I'm close to (at? past?) the point where I should stop losing pounds, so toning up is more my goal.)

If you followed my old blog, you know that I went through years of exploring the world of fitness.  I had a trainer for a couple years who designed fabulous workouts for me.  But despite all that, I have never had abs like these.

So, what did I do?
The specific program is called 21 Day Fix Extreme, but I think there are 3 key elements:

I joined an online "Challenge Group" which I checked into daily. It was great for accountability, support, and inspiration.

The program has a daily workout for each day of the week, and each workout is a very focused 30 minutes.  The workouts are short enough that there's no excuse - I can squeeze them in.  But they are effective.  
21 day fix *extreme* does have pretty intense workouts, so it's best for someone who is already in decent shape and is used to working out.  For someone who is starting off, the same trainer designed 21 day fix.  That would be a perfect program to start off with - same basic structure, but less "extreme" workouts.

This part was amazing for me - there is a super simple nutrition plan associated with the program.  It uses colored tupperwares.  I was supposed to eat 3 "green" tupperwares of veggies, 4 "red" of protein, 2 "yellow" of carbs, etc., per day.  It was so easy to follow, and it was an incredibly healthy way to eat.  I learned that I wasn't eating enough before!!  So these results are partly due to my eating *more,* but in particular eating more of the right things.

I loved this program so much that I did something a little crazy for me - I just signed up to be a Beachbody coach!!!  So if you want to learn more about this program, or others from Beachbody, let me know.  You can check out my beachbody site, WowFitness, here:, or at

I'm going to start my own challenge group in a week or two!! If you're interested in joining let me know!  (No beachbody purchase neccessary!)  It will be on facebook, and will go for 3 weeks.  If you want to push yourself to eat healthier and exercise more for 3 weeks, join!

And if you're interested in this particular program, it turns out that beachbody put 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme as their monthly special for June!!  So there's a great discount on the program right now!  I honestly thought they would never put 21 day fix on special because it is such a hot-selling program anyway.  But I guess I was wrong!  I'm super excited about that for anyone who doesn't have it yet, because I honestly think it's an amazing program.  Obviously I thought it would be good or I wouldn't have bought it.  But after doing it - it's way better than I could ever have imagined.  I mean seriously - look at those pictures again - THREE WEEKS!


EDIT: Here are a few convenient links if you want to try the program that I used.
Free team beachbody membership: gives you access to their super useful webpage, message boards with expert answers, etc. You can also sign up for a free trial of the premium/club membership, which gives you access to streaming workouts if you want to try a few out before you buy.
21 Day Fix Challenge Pack: Workouts, nutrition plan with color-coded containers, plus the Beachbody "meal replacement dense nutrition" drink Shakeology - I think of it as sort-of a super-awesome protein shake plus - really good for post-workout recovery. (extra discount this month)
21 Day Fix Extreme Challenge Pack: Similar to the 21 Day Fix, but with more extreme workouts - this is the one I did.  Includes workouts, nutrition plan with color-coded containers, plus the Beachbody "meal replacement dense nutrition" drink Shakeology - I think of it as sort-of a super-awesome protein shake plus - really good for post-workout recovery. (extra discount this month)

The sale is extended through July!  Here are the links:
 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack
 21 Day Fix Extreme Challenge Pack

Also, here are two more posts I wrote after this one which are related:

About the eating plan: The "container" approach to diet/nutrition

Also relevant - shakeology is super discounted the first month when you buy a challenge pack, so you might as well try it.  BUT, it becomes expensive after that.  So for the decision of whether to continue after the first month, here's my take:   Shakeology or other protein shakes - worth it?

The work dinner - business formal?!

Every year, around late May or early June, we have an office banquet. This year, the invitation stated that the attire was "Business Formal."  Normally nothing specific is mentioned.  When I told hubby, he immediately exclaimed "Great!  Now I know exactly what to wear!"  Business Formal is super easy for men, because it has a clear meaning - full suit, with tie.  For women, it's a little harder.  Especially if you happen to be the "business" side of a couple.  As a spouse, you just wear a nice dress and you're fine.  As the professional, you need to look professional.  But for most of us women, we also don't want to look like we're dressing like a man.

I think my outfit worked out pretty well, and this is my go-to formula for this type of situation: Below-knee-length, modest up-top, fitted sheath dress, with a blazer and heels.  The blazer can be left on or taken off, depending on how conservatively everyone else is dressed, and depending on the temperature!   I also carry a simple small clutch, which I can hold between my arm and body when I need my hands.  I try to wear dresses that are just a bit more "evening" than the fitted sheaths I wear to the office.  The beadwork at the neck on this dress, and the fact that it is sleeveless (but still reasonably modest), make it a bit more evening. 

(Dress: BCBG, blazer: Zac Posen, shoes: Sergio Rossi, purse: gift and no particular brand)