A Tale of Two Selfies & An Unpodcast

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling hard to keep up with my life and feeling this knot of doom hanging over me about the holidays coming up and how am I going to do it all, be everything that everyone needs me to be, and have enough of me to put out all the fires that keep popping up. It was exhausting. I haven’t been sleeping well, and having a hard time keeping myself from eating all the bad things!

Since I started PiYo, my morning workouts have been where I work through those emotional leftovers from the day before, but for the past two weeks I could barely drag myself out of bed for them and I just didn’t feel that “ahhhhhhhhhh” moment afterwards. My success partner, Lacy, and I made a commitment to post our sweaty selfies as a way to be accountable to each other and our clients. Here’s mine from Wednesday…

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I took TEN and this was the best smile I could manage. I just wasn’t feeling it. I was too wrapped up in what I knew was coming in the rest of my day, and it wrecked my ability to make the most of my morning. I wasn’t wrong about my day, either. I have a recurring project that was assigned to me a couple of years ago that gives me a lot of anxiety because it’s pretty far outside of my strong skill set. I have begged and pleaded for reassignment with no luck. Meanwhile, it keeps growing and getting more complicated, and at one point on Wednesday I locked myself in my office, put my head down and cried like a baby because I felt like it would never end.

On Thursday, I didn’t even bother getting out of bed to work out. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I considered calling out, fantasized about quitting, and eventually dragged myself out the door and into the office. I listen to podcasts in the car, and happened to be listening to the Unpodcast that day. And Scott Stratten said something along the lines of “I don’t spend time working on my weaknesses. I think that just wastes time I could spend on getting great at my strengths.”

And I was like – WHOA. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing to myself. I’ve been feeling like there are so many things about me that I need to fix, that I need to work on, that I need to get better at, that I need to just manage, that I haven’t put any time into the things I’m GOOD at. No wonder I feel like crap about myself if all my energy is going into things I can barely scrape together and whose only role in my bigger plan is to eventually GO AWAY.

So I pushed the nightmare project off to the side, took care of the things that were on deadline, and spent the entire rest of my day on a project that I love and that I excel at. And you know what? It worked. It freaking worked! I rushed back from lunch to get back to it, and was almost late leaving for the day because I had to get one last thought down into my notes – which I brought home for the weekend because some of them can be reused for my coaching business.

When I got home, I had quality time with PJ and Paul, and I slept like a rock. I woke up this morning excited for my workout, and I nailed it. It was FUN again! Here’s today’s selfie:

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On the FIRST try too. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, not that I won’t ever try to learn a new skill or get better about something I’m not good at, but I’m definitely going to be more guarded with my time to make sure that these things don’t take over my life again. Life lessons from (un)marketers for the win!

Big Reveal – PiYo Round 1 Results!

This is going to be one of those posts where I have to shut my eyes to hit send. I’ve got some photos to share with you today that are pretty embarrassing, but I hope they’ll help other people realize that “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

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At the beginning of July, I took a big step out of my comfort zone and ordered one of those Beachbody kits – you know, the ones from all those infomercials. I had seen the infomercials for P90X, Insanity, Body Beast, and was so intimidated by all those buff bodies that I never really considered that I could do something like it! Then I started seeing the 21 Day Fix spot and thought “Now that’s more my speed!”

So when I called my friend Pam, who has had AMAZING results with several Beachbody programs, especially T25, that’s what I thought I’d be doing. I was all set to get 21 Day Fixed, and started saving my pennies to order the full challenge pack with Shakeology. Then I called her back and told her I was almost ready to order, and she said, “Before you do, I wanted to let you know that Chalene Johnson [creator of TurboJam and TurboFire] has a new program that I think you will LOVE! It’s called PiYo, and it’s brand new. If you want to wait one more week until it’s released, we can both order it and do it together.”

When she explained that PiYo is a pilates/yoga inspired workout that is focused on building strength and flexibility using just your body weight, I was intrigued. I’ve always enjoyed both pilates and yoga, and loved the idea of having someone to go through the program with. So I placed my order and joined Pam’s challenge group at the beginning of July.

One of the first things she told me to do was take “before” pictures and measurements as well as weighing myself. I was REALLY not happy about this, for reasons that all be obvious when you see the pictures a little later on! But I did it, and now I’m glad I did because changes are so gradual that is really hard to see any other way.

The program itself was great. There are multiple workouts on three DVD’s, so even though I was working out six days a week, I wasn’t getting bored with the repetition. The pack even included a calendar so that I didn’t have to try to figure out which workout to do next or when it was time to move on to some of the more advanced routines. And within each workout, Chalene and her team of instructors demonstrate each move with modifiers for the beginners and also for more advanced people.

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That girl on the right is Modifier Michele – she’s my new best friend. No offense to my current best friends, but Michele and I hung out for at least one move in every workout for the last 60 days. I kind of feel like I owe her a Christmas card now! But I hardly ever manage to get cards in the mail anyway, so hopefully she’ll just see this blog and know that I appreciate her haha.

Finishing the program this week was bittersweet. There was a HUGE sense of accomplishment, and I am thrilled with my results…but I’m going to miss waking up and seeing Chalene’s smiling face every morning! There will be a round two of PiYo in my future, but after this weekend I’ll be moving on to the 21 Day Fix to mix things up a little.

Here are the three main pillars of the program as I followed it:

– 30 minute PiYo workout, 6 days a week

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– 1 Shakeology daily

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– 4-5 small meals a day based on clean eating principles (the challenge pack comes with a nutrition plan)

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It really was easy to follow, I would do my workout and shake first thing in the morning and go about my day. I did well with eating clean, although I’ll never claim that I was perfect at it! I would probably have even more dramatic results if I had been perfect at it, but I was never aiming for a total transformation in only 8 weeks. I’m looking at this as the first 8 weeks of the rest of my life, and I will always need to make room for imperfection, because that’s how life works, right?

So how did these three pillars work out for me? Take a look and see!

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I set a goal to lose 10 pounds and 10 inches in my 8 weeks on this program.

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I missed one goal by a little, but I smashed the other one! I lost a total of 7 pounds and 16 inches by the last day. Most of the inches came off of my waist and my thighs, which is a-ok with me!

So there you have it, my “after” photos for PiYo, that have just become my “before” photos for 21 Day Fix! If you’re considering starting a fitness program, there is no time like the present. I’ve become a Beachbody coach as part of my journey, and would love to help you reach YOUR goals! I can hook you up with any of the workout programs Beachbody offers, and I’ve got challenge groups set up for the month of September, send me a message and I’ll get you enrolled!

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How To: Eat Clean(er) In Restaurants

Clean eating at home isn’t exactly easy, especially when you’re juggling a family and a busy schedule. But at least you have the advantage of controlling your ingredients and your environment. So if we ate at home for every meal, the path to healthy eating habits would be relatively smooth. But of course we live in the real world, and that means eating at other people’s homes and at restaurants sometimes too. The easy way out is to say “Oh, it’s a special occasion, and I’ll have whatever I want *just this once*.” But when *just this once* becomes every couple of days, it’s easy to get off track in a hurry.

So here are some of my survival strategies to be able to eat out and enjoy my time with family, friends, and colleagues without throwing away all my hard work and exercise:

Don’t Arrive Too Hungry

Just like grocery shopping, if you are starving when you walk into a restaurant, the unhealthy choices are more likely to jump out at you and you’re more likely to overeat in general. It’s also much easier to say “No thanks” to a bread basket if you aren’t entertaining a herd of rampaging wildebeests in your tummy (what? Just me and PJ?) Eat a high protein snack before you go and it’ll be easier to stay on track.

Say No To Soda
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Regular soda is full of empty calories, and diet versions actually stimulate your appetite and craving for sugar. Stick to water and unsweetened teas for your main drink, and save your beverage calories for a glass of wine instead.

Skip The Salad

This may seem counterintuitive to a healthy eating strategy, but think about this – which of these three dishes is going to give you a bigger bang for your vegetable buck?

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The typical house salad at many restaurants may make you feel good when you order it, but is usually just a pile of lettuce with a couple of tomatoes and/or cucumbers and it’s not at all satisfying to eat. And a lot of entree salads are loaded with fatty fried chicken, and covered with high fat dressings and other unhealthy items. You’re better off ordering the pizza with lots of veggies (that are ironically not often included in the salads!) or another entree with some nutritional value than suffering through a boring plate of lettuce or thinking you were “good” because you ordered a salad and then binging on dessert….or so I’ve heard!

Read Like A Chef

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When you’re looking for a healthy entree, pay attention to the ingredients and also to how it’s prepared. Look for broiled, grilled and baked items, and stay away from smothered ones. Sauteed is a tricky one, because it CAN be done with a light touch, but most of the time it isn’t. You’ll probably be looking at a lot of unnecessary fat and oil with a sauteed dish. If you don’t understand a term and how it relates to fats used in cooking, ask your server or look it up.

Have What She’s Having

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Ok, I love this movie. And you don’t need to be quite as high maintenance as Sally, but she really is onto something with all her “on the side” orders. I always ask for dressings and sauces on the side, because they add flavor but also add a ton of fat and calories most of the time. So I dip my fork into the dressing or sauce before each bite to get the flavor, and rarely use more than a quarter of what they send out.

Divide & Conquer

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It’s no secret that restaurant portions are typically way outside the norm in their size and amount of calories involved. One good strategy to manage this is to take a good look at your plate before you take that first bite or Instagram photo, and decide where your stopping point is. I usually eat half of my plate and then stop for a couple of minutes to decide if I’m still hungry or if I’m talking the rest home for lunch. It’s easy to get caught up in conversation and finish a whole huge plate before you know it, so deciding where you stop before you start can be a big help.

These are my six favorite strategies for keeping on track away from home – what are yours? Leave them in the comments!

How To: Set Up Goal Jars

First of all, I want to say a big thank you to everyone for being so supportive of my clean eating post! I was a little nervous about starting to share about this health and fitness journey we’re on here, but I felt so great after many of your responses that I’m feeling good about sharing more along the way. So thank you for that 🙂

I saw a project on Pinterest in the fitness category awhile back that was intriguing. And like the menu planner, I knew it needed a little tweaking to work for me. It’s been a work in progress, but this feels like a good time to share about it anyway.

The original project has two matching jars painted with a variation of “Pounds To Go” on one and “Pounds Lost” on the other. They’ve got marbles in them to represent pounds or half pounds and as you lose weight, you’re supposed to move a marble from one jar to the other. I tried it once, and it ended up being just another way to fail because I just don’t shed pounds easily and it was depressing to stare at that full jar every day.

And then I realized that I was going about it all wrong, and I could use some of the skills from my job to put together a version that would work better for me.
At work, I keep a dashboard of all our marketing campaigns. I track how many people see each message, how many people visit our website, how many call or email us for more information, and how many ultimately make a purchase from us. Our main goal is, of course, to make that last  number as big as possible, but – here’s the big secret – you can only do that by making changes to the other numbers. There’s no way for me to make an extra 50 or 100 people make a purchase. But if I can place a message in front of 10,000 people and 1000 of them visit my website, where 100 of them contact us for more information, and I do that over and over and over again, I will get my 100 new customers. The more you look at the numbers and figure out where you are falling behind in that conversion to the next level, the better you’ll get at knowing where to make changes to help boost the process along.

So, I took that idea and put it in a jar that lives next to my jewelry box, where I see it every day. I added pearls to represent inches I need to lose to fit into my long term goal dress size. Then I added stones to represent pounds to lose along the way to my long term goal. And last, I added a penny for each of the 30 sessions in my workout program.

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Every day after my workout, I move a penny from the “goal” jar to the “done” jar. And on my check in days, I move stones and/or pearls over for any inches or pounds I’ve lost.

At the end of my first program, my done jar had 30 pennies, 6 pearls, and 4 stones in it. If it had just had those lonely little stones in it after all that work, I probably would have quit. Again. But making the work part of the goal itself made a huge difference for me.

I didn’t feel like I had failed because I only had 4 stones, I felt like I was really making progress because my “done” jar was starting to fill up. So I gave myself the reward I had promised myself for finishing the program, and added 48 more pennies to the “goal” jar for the workouts in my next program.

I have rewards planned for myself as I move those stones and pearls too, and it feels really good to see that pile of pennies stacking up in the bottom of the jar! I’m already thinking about what program I want to do next – any suggestions?

What keeps you motivated? Does it make a difference if you are at a point where your goal seems far away, or right around the corner? What kinds of rewards do you give yourself for meeting your goals? I’d love to hear about them all!