Motivation, where art thou?

In simple terms, motivation is the desire to do things. One quick Google search will produce almost 500 million results including articles, books, images, and studies on motivation. “5 Ways Millennials Can Fine Motivation At Work” (Forbes). “This Navy SEAL Says Your Lack of Motivation Does Not Matter…” (Inc.com). “Motivation may be less limited than we think” (Science Daily). You get the idea.

What does this tell you? Other than bundles of contradicting information, it shows that motivation is a hot topic and many people must be in dire need of it.

About two years ago I read a book called “What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. It included a code to take an assessment that would produce my top motivators. Usually, I’m skeptical about these types of assessments because who knows me better than I do? It turns out that my results were SPOT ON.

I’m driven by challenge, creativity, autonomy, and money.

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At the time, this book helped me understand that I wasn’t getting what I needed out of my job. I felt stuck and couldn’t understand why I had no desire to get up and go to work anymore (other than the hour-long commute I faced every morning, of course!). I realized that I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing. It wasn’t creative, there was a ton of “red tape,” I felt micro-managed, and the pay wasn’t nearly enough for the work I was doing and the distance I was traveling. Even though I knew my work, in a way, helped other people, that wasn’t a big enough factor to keep me motivated.

The authors suggest trying to revise your work responsibilities to better suit your needs to be more productive. If you try it, and it doesn’t work, move on. That’s exactly what I ended up doing.

What motivates you?

The first step in getting motivated is finding out what exactly drives YOU. I highly recommend taking The Motivators Assessment for yourself – even if you don’t want to read the book, you can purchase a code online. You’ll end up with a detailed printout of top motivators that I have found invaluable.

Motivation is fluid, which means that it can be hard to keep the momentum because different things drive us all at different times. I know, personally, that some days my motivation is abundant and I can accomplish my entire task list and then some. Those are the days I get in 7,000 steps before 9am. Other days, just getting out of bed feels like an accomplishment. Sound familiar?

You have to find something that – even on your darkest of days – will keep you moving.

Look forward to your reward

Let’s say you’re driven by chocolate. Get a special bag of truffles and reward yourself with one after doing something big – like organizing your kitchen cabinets or meal prepping for the week. This way you have something to look forward to. (I promise that one chocolate won’t break your eating plan, if you’re sticking to one. Plus, it’s better to eat one than the entire bag!)

Make it a game

Maybe you’re motivated by a good challenge like I am. Some days I dare myself to burn 5-10 more calories in my workout than I did the day before. If I do, I can revel in the satisfaction that is “winning.” If I don’t, I make it my goal for the next day.

Just get it done

There will be days when you won’t want to get out of bed. The worst thing you can do is punish yourself for it. I allow 3-5 minutes of wallowing (or snoozing the alarm) before I break out of the funk. Let the feeling pass, pick yourself up, and just do the task – even when you really don’t want to. The ability to do so is the sign of a successful person.

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A passage from Big Magic.

 

While no book, article, etc. can give you motivation, they can give you ideas on how to motivate yourself. Here are a few favorites that have helped me along the way:

What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy

 

DISCLOSURE: This post is not sponsored by any of the books or authors appearing above. I appreciate your support for books and programs that I love, but I will not receive any commission or affiliate compensation if you make a purchase. I just really enjoyed these reads and hope that you can also snag some positive takeaways.

Happy Reading!

Fall Fun

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp hoodie weather, the crunch of the leaves, spooky Halloween stories, carved pumpkins, all things apple (crisp, cider, pie), spicy scents, and the thrill of it. Most of all, I love that you can move around and be outside without sweating bullets. It’s one of the best times to get out and get moving. And what better way to do that, then to check out some of the area’s best haunted attractions!

My fiancé and I started a tradition of going around to different haunted houses hayrides each weekend in October. This is our fifth year (and we actually expanded the fun into September)! Not only is it a crazy good time, but between the scares, belly laughs, and trekking through cornfields and woods, it’s also a pretty awesome way to burn a few calories and sneak in 2,000+ steps. Afterwards, you can enjoy a few fall snacks to put those calories (and then some) back on. Uhhh…triple win?!

I’m really not sure what’s going on in the state of Pennsylvania, but they have some kickass haunts. They are perfectly creepy, gory, and even downright funny. But beware, because if you are traveling from New York or another state that has strict rules about practically everything, you will be in for a shock. Some of the haunts in PA don’t have any metal detectors or security checks, and actors are allowed to touch you. (Touch you in the sense that they can poke, prod, run fingers through hair, and in some cases, put you in a cage or jump up on a wagon and drag you off.) Call me crazy, but I think these things add to the suspense, fear, and entertainment.

Tips

  • Plan Ahead – We (well, I) like to map out our haunts in early September so we have a clear action plan. Some of the places we travel to are over 3 hours away (this is serious stuff!). If you don’t want to drive 6 hours or more round trip, you could see about hotels or other things you could do in the area and make a weekend getaway out of it.
  • Visit Early – Most attractions are open the last two weekends of September, which is actually the perfect time to go. (Keep this in mind for next year.) Lines are short and you can get by with paying for the base ticket instead of upgrading (see below).
  • Dress in Layers – Fall weather is unpredictable. Remember the time it snowed on Halloween? It’s always a good idea to wear pants if you will be in a wooded area (think deer ticks). I usually opt for jeans, boots, a long sleeve shirt, and a fleece jacket. One time last year we needed hand and foot warmers because the wagon ride was so cold. Two weeks ago I went in a t-shirt and was still hot. Just check the weather before you go.
  • Wear Proper Footwear – This shouldn’t have to be said, but still – don’t wear flip-flops, sandals, or heels because…duh. Wear something that will support your feet while walking on uneven ground. Boots or sneakers are always a good choice.
  • Splurge for the VIP Pass – When it comes to haunted attractions (and amusement parks), I really believe in going all-out. You might spend $25 or more per person for a VIP ticket, but that will allow you to skip the lines and go first. Why is this a big deal? Believe it or not, you could be waiting in line for hours before you even get to go through one attraction. That just sucks the fun right out of everything. Do yourself a favor – get this pass and you can do the royalty wave to everyone else as you board your wagon first.

NY/PA Attractions

#6 – The Barn of Terror

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Photo property of The Barn of Terror

My Rating: 1.5 Stars

Location: Lake Katrine, NY

Cost – CASH ONLY (ATM on site): $33 per person

Theme: Creepy Farm Family

Duration: About 60 minutes

Review: I kept waiting for something to happen and it just didn’t. First you walk through an 8-room barn and silo, then you take a bus down to a corn maze. The barn was dark and the costumes were pretty cheap and mostly looked the same – bloody hockey mask and black robe. The corn maze was so boring I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Truly disappointing that the space is there, but the creativity was severely lacking. After 15 years in business, you would think there would be more excitement.

Bottom Line: Regardless of the stellar reviews on Facebook, this “haunt” is not worth your time or money. The only reason it gets 1.5 stars is that I got quite a few steps in thanks to the corn maze.

#5 – Headless Horseman

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Location: Ulster Park, NY

Cost:

  • It’s cheaper to buy tickets online, but plan ahead because tickets are non-refundable due to weather. You can, however, use them for another night.
  • $45.90 + tax – Online Ticket
  • $49.95 + tax – On-site Ticket
  • $25 extra for Scream Pass (aka VIP badge of honor)

Theme: A Series of Haunts

Duration: 2.5-3 hours (depending on wait times)

Review: There are 10 attractions (including a hayride, corn maze, and several haunted houses) and a little “village” of gift shops and cafes, which makes for a full evening. All guests must go through a bag check / metal detector after purchasing tickets. Keep this in mind because that line gets long fast and all ticket holders are considered equal until you pass through the gates. The hayride theme changes slightly every year, but the other attractions are pretty much “fixed.” Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. This year I went on opening night back in September and was really disappointed that the company didn’t take advantage of their 25th year in business to do something special for the guests. It was like any other year with the ridiculously long lines and predictable haunts.

Bottom Line: If you live in or near the Hudson Valley, try it at least once, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.

#4 – Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Location: Glen Mills, PA

Cost:

  • $40 –  (Base) Combo – General admission to all three events
  • $75 – VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events
  • $100 – Super VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events, PLUS: VIP parking, hot dog, popcorn, soft drink, and t-shirt

Theme: The Walking Dead Meets Prehistoric Times

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were zombies, there were dinosaurs. There were also spiders, snakes, and clowns. A scare for everyone. It was just okay. We went on a weekend in September – there weren’t any lines so we were able to get by on just the base ticket. There were only three attractions – hayride, corn maze, and haunted house. The theme was a bit odd, but the special effects were pretty cool. I love Psycho and A&E’s Bates Motel series, but there was little connection to both. I think the majority of my disappointment stems from just wanting more.

Bottom Line: If you’re in the area, I would recommend checking it out for a fun evening. But if you have to drive over an hour, I would say skip it.

#3 – Pure Terror Scream Park

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My Rating: 4 Stars

Location: Monroe, NY

Cost:

  • Prices are cheaper on-site. Cash only.
  • $45.25 – Online General Admission
  • $68.69 – Online VIP Admission

Theme: Clowns

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were clowns, lots of clowns. There were also spiders and very dark places. A scare for everyone, really. After I got over the frustration of finding the place, parking, and waiting in line, it was fun. We went on opening night so it was cheaper and there were fewer people. There are six haunted houses that are seriously awesome. One group is admitted at a time, which causes a really long wait in line, but a better experience once you’re actually inside. The makeup and special effects were so good that it was hard to tell real person from prop. I love that they incorporated the new release of IT into one of the houses – very nice touch! This was my first visit, but according to the website, the content is freshened up each year. Will most likely make this an annual trip.

Bottom Line: Definitely check it out!

 

#2 Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Location: Spring City, PA

Cost:

  • $18 – Individual Attraction Tickets
  • $35-44 – Combo Pass
    • General admission to 3 haunted attractions
  • $39-48 – Super Combo Pass
    • General admission to 4 haunted attractions
  • $78 – Pennhurst VIP Pass
    • Front of the line privileges to all 4 haunted attractions
  • Note: online tickets have varying service charges

Theme: Insane Asylum

Duration: Approx. 2 hours

Review: This place is really cool because it is actually an asylum turned haunted house. The original buildings have been repurposed to create a haunted insane asylum, catacombs, and more. There isn’t a hayride, but you won’t be disappointed by the 3 main attractions:  Dungeon of Lost Souls, Containment Tunnels (new for 2017), and Mayflower After Dark. There are creepy clowns and walking dead, but the real terror here is the idea of the insane asylum and the horrible things that were probably done there. That and the fact that you spend a lot of time walking in near darkness and through strobe lights. While you are waiting on the lines you may or may not be terrorized by the cast members. Luckily, the VIP pass will help you avoid this. Again, do the royalty wave as you enter. I can’t wait to visit again this year!

Note: This is the ONLY haunted attraction that actually reduced some of their prices for the 2017 season. Very impressive.

Bottom Line: You’ve gotta go. I’m sure this one will be on your list for years to come.

 #1 Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Attraction

My Rating: 5 Stars

Location: Scranton, PA

Cost – CASH ONLY (ATM on site)

  • $45– General Admission
  • $70 – VIP Package
  • $3 – Parking
  • Note: online tickets have a $2.75 service charge

Theme: All Things Creepy

Duration: 75-90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There are 4 attractions including a hayride, dark forest walkthrough, pitch-black indoor walkthrough, and zombie maze. There are hillbillies, spiders, zombies, government officials (super scary), and the Grim Reaper and Michael Myers make appearances out in the woods. There’s also something really cool that happens during the hayride, but you’ll have to just take my word for it because saying too much would just ruin it. The combination of so many different attractions and a super long and enjoyable hayride makes this my number one choice. The first time we did this, we were laughing, we were screaming, we were having so much fun. We wanted to do it again. This year we are making a special trip on Friday the 13th 😉

Note: The price increased $10 from last year. I’m not crazy about it, but I still think this one comes out on top.

Bottom Line: Make the trip. I don’t care if you’re in California, Florida, or Toronto. It’s worth it.

I hope you go and have a great time this fall. I’d love to know if I’m missing out on any good ones 🙂

Happy October!

An obsession is coming 

Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

This January, Autumn Calabrese is back with a new Beachbody fitness program. You know her – celebrity fitness trainer and creator of 21 Day Fix, Country Heat, and the cooking show Fixate, to name a few.

80-Day Obsession – a program designed to sculpt your abs and booty.

When the news first broke at the beginning of the month, I was less than thrilled. An 80-day program? That’s like a lifetime. I quickly dismissed the idea and went back to Letting Shi(f)t Go.

Then I thought about it. In the scheme of things, 80 days is not very long. It’s less than three months – the probationary period before benefits kick in at a new job, the first trimester of pregnancy, a quarter of a year. In fact, several other Beachbody programs run longer. In other words, it’s doable.

I thought about chunking the program into four 20-day cycles and how each new cycle would be an opportunity to take before and after photos, reset the mind, and begin anew. It would be good to challenge myself to make a BIG commitment, and to show others that even with a full-time job, a family, and a few freelance jobs on the side, it’s still totally possible to work on yourself. Now I’m actually excited for it to begin!

What I know

  • The program lasts 80 days (duh) and will begin in January
  • New workouts are released every Monday-Friday
  • High-intensity workouts build on previous ones – no repeats
  • Times vary from 45-60 minutes a day (much like in Core de Force)
  • It follows the container system, with precise guidelines of when to eat what
  • There will be tacos!

Preparation

So maybe you aren’t in the mindset to fully commit right now. It’s going to be an extreme 80 days. Luckily, you still have about four months to get your mind and body ready for it. Start by completing some of Autumn’s other programs – 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and Hammer & Chisel.

Before you say “Oh, hell no!” I encourage you to believe in yourself. Before you think you can’t commit to 80 days, see my idea for breaking it down (above). Before you say that 45-60 minutes a day is just unreasonable, remember that a one-hour workout is just 4% of your day. It might take some rearranging of your schedule (I wake up at 5 am to get my workout in before I go to my day job), but it’s definitely worth it. Your body (and your mind) will thank you.

Always remember – nothing is impossible.

My aching back!

When my muscles start screaming, I know they are overworked and need a little TLC. In my earlier days, I would have popped a few Advil and called it a day, but now I rely on natural methods of pain relief. Here are a few things you can do to ease muscle tension and discomfort.

Drink more water

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Don’t like drinking water? Make it into an hourly game or buy fun water bottles like this one!

I think the girls in my challenge groups must be sick of me saying “drink more.” What happens when flowers don’t get enough water? They dry up. What happens when lakes don’t get enough water? They dry up. What happens when your body doesn’t get enough water? You literally dry up – flaky skin, brittle hair, chapped lips, etc. Hydrate your body and your muscles to help increase your energy and prevent muscle cramping.

Stretch

Never underestimate the power of the cool down. I used to hate this so much. Once I was done with the meat of the workout, I was DONE. That meant no extra time to stretch out those muscles I just literally worked to the bone. It hurt, and I quickly learned my lesson. Think of it as your reward for finishing a tough sweat sesh – your muscles and body deserve it. I also recommend stretching or light yoga just before bed to prevent cramping at night.

Eat up post-workout

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I love Icelandic yogurt with berries and pistachios post-workout. It’s a nice treat!

I never miss an opportunity for a snack! After working out, you’ll want something to fuel the day as well as calm inflammation, aid in muscle repair, and improve mental focus. I have a brand of gluten free post-workout bars that I absolutely LOVE, but you can also opt for eggs, a protein shake, grilled chicken, oatmeal, bananas, cottage cheese, berries, or a handful of nuts.

Take a warm bath

Nothing is more soothing than a warm bath with lots of bubbles. Add some Epsom salts and lavender essential oil and take a deep soak. Both help to ease the tension in your muscles and joints.

Rub on some essential oils

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I use these two oils post workout and also diffuse the lavender one throughout the day.

There are a host of oils that are good for post workout – cinnamon bark, wintergreen, and basil (for sore muscles and joints), grapefruit (lessons mental and physical fatigue), lavender (eases muscle tension), and peppermint (clears breathing). Diffuse in the air or rub directly on your skin. For sensitive skin, you’ll want to use a carrier oil or cream. Just mix a drop or two of your essential oil with your carrier and apply. I only use 100% pure essential oils of high quality so I know I’m putting the good stuff in my body.

Try a foam roller

Foam rollers improve flexibility and also help to massage tired, achy muscles. For this reason, it might be painful at first, but after prolonged use, it will feel oh so good! Benefits include the reduced likelihood of injury, better sleep, boosted energy, and soothed muscles aches.

Get some rest

wp-1501720797577.If you’re feeling sore, don’t overdo it. Curl up with a book or find something on Netflix and then get a good 7-8 hours of sleep. Your body needs time to recharge and create energy, so don’t skimp out on those old fashioned zzzs!

How do you relieve your achy muscles?

I’d never do another Whole30 again!

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Whole30 gets a lot of press – good or bad, it’s still attention. Last year I completed my first and only Whole30. After a month without dairy, grains, legumes (including my beloved peanut butter), sugar, alcohol, daily superfood shake, and baked goods, I felt accomplished and proud of myself for completing such a huge feat.

If I’m fully honest, I didn’t experience any of the earth shattering changes that others have. I didn’t lose a ton of weight, the headaches I was experiencing almost daily didn’t decrease, I still wasn’t sleeping well, and I didn’t feel like a completely new person.

In one respect, the Whole30 was a total eye-opener. Prior to starting my month-long journey, I didn’t realize how much sugar and hydrogenated oils were in EVERYTHING. I took many of the “healthy” grocery store items for their full-face value. I never thought that ketchup, bbq sauce, salad dressings, mayo, and even bacon and diced tomatoes would be laden with every form of sugar that you can imagine. I was blind to the fact that what I was putting into my body was actually doing more harm than good. I took “good” food for granted.

On the flip side, I believe that the Whole30 can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food. Now, I might get a lot of crap for saying this, but hear me out.

Where it went wrong

When I did my first Whole30 in July 2016, I thought it was the greatest idea since sliced (paleo) bread. I followed the rules and when other people were posting Whole30 meals that weren’t quite compliant on Instagram and Facebook, it made me angry. I started buying foods in the spirit of the Whole30. I stocked up on the books and even gave the new cookbook for a Christmas gift. For a good six months, I was a self-appointed Whole30 police officer. After a while, it was giving me so much anxiety, that it got old.

In the last year, I’ve tried to complete a second Whole30 multiple times. I planned menus and grocery lists, I tossed all of the unapproved items from my kitchen, and even set up a 30-day calendar. I was ready. Then, multiple times, it just didn’t happen. I really beat myself up about it. Seriously, how hard is it to START something? Something that I was supposedly obsessed with not too long ago.

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Typical meal prep Sunday.

I turned to Whole30 Facebook groups for support or guidance, but that just made it worse. There is so much cattiness, rule breaking, and unsupportiveness that I found the groups to be the opposite of encouraging. I left each one and decided to find my own way.

After playing with my diet for a couple of months, I realized that I don’t want to cut out so many foods from my diet. I enjoy mixing a spoonful of raw local honey into Icelandic every morning, I love making pancakes for Sunday breakfast, I look forward to sushi date nights and a nice burger with a bun every so often, and I will never miss another National Ice Cream Soda Day! They key isn’t cutting out all the foods that make you happy (unless medically necessary, of course), the key is moderation.

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Anyone else LOVE creamsicles??

Everything in moderation

I’ve finally comfortably settled into a “diet” that seems to work for me: portion-controlled and mostly keto/paleo. What does that mean? I consume around 1,400 calories a day (it’s PLENTY), and eat a diet high in fat and low in carbs and protein – pizza, chocolate, and dessert included! It’s satisfying, it’s yummy, and although it restricts HOW much I pile on my plate, it doesn’t restrict WHAT I can eat. I never go to bed hungry.

How does this work? Well, because I’m not limiting myself, I don’t have crazy cravings for sugar or carbs. In fact, I’ve actually all but eliminated peanut butter (one of my favorite things!), alcohol, and several other unapproved Whole30 items at will – not as a direct result of my Whole30 experience. I’m just making healthier choices and looking at food as fuel.

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A typical breakfast – hella yum!

The 80-20 Rule

No one eats 100% healthy 100% of the time – it’s just not sustainable. A lot of health coaches and fitness-minded individuals practice the 80-20 Rule, which means that you eat 100% healthy for 80% of the time. That other 20%? That’s when you fit in the donuts, chocolate, wine, nachos, cake, ice cream sodas – all the stuff that makes your soul sing. It works because you don’t feel deprived, because you know that you can have your cake and eat it too, and because you won’t feel guilty for indulging a little when out with friends or on the weekends.

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The right size treat.

The (New) Bottom Line

Every once in a while I’m really, really wrong. This was one such time. The Whole30 taught me an important awareness about food that continues to this day, but it also made me a little neurotic. I’m no longer recommending or endorsing the lifestyle. However, I will say that if you are interested in learning about it, check out the book “It Starts with Food” from your local library. Written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, creators of the Whole30, it breaks down the science and why behind the bad foods we put into our bodies. It is relatively easy to understand, even to non-science-y types and will give you a very granular view of the program.

If you have questions about finding a diet or way of eating that is right for you, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help you find a good fit!

 

Get your dance on

Let me just say this – I never knew dancing to country music could be so much fun! At first I was really unsure about Country Heat. A lot of Beachbody coaches and friends of mine were posting great things about the program, saying it was easy enough for people who can’t dance (AKA me). I tried a preview track online (Routine 1: Country Swing) and was hooked from the very first move. You don’t have to be a dancer to start or rock this program, but you will be a better one by the end of it.

 

This Beachbody workout is for you if you don’t really like putting the “work” in workouts, you want something with minimal commitment, you like to dance like a fool when no one’s watching, and/or you’re a country girl (or guy!) at heart. I honestly can’t think of any reasons why you wouldn’t want to try it. If you’re new to working out, this would make a great first program.

 

Country Heat lasts 30 days with a rest day on Sunday to give your body a break – so technically it’s only 26 days, which is totally doable. If you get the Deluxe package, you get a couple additional workouts to help you burn more calories and get fit faster.

 

What’s enticing about this program is that it’s so much fun that you don’t even feel like you’re working out. even so, you’ll still work up a sweat be the end. Most days the routines are approximately 30 minutes. You also have the option to add a quick line dance before or after your workout for an extra challenge. After your first week there are 7 days that include a second, 25-minute workout called Dance Conditioning.

 

This is the first program I’ve purchased digitally from Beachbody on Demand (BOD). My reason was simple – I did NOT want another set of portion control containers. (At the time of purchase, Beachbody had not released a DVD only set.) I couldn’t be happier with my BOD subscription. I stream the workouts on the big screen with my Amazon Firestick. I can easily access my purchased programs and try others that are available in the member library. Since the Firestick is portable, I can virtually take my workouts with me wherever I go – even on vacation.

Cost*

  • •Country Heat Base DVD Package w/o containers – $39.90 + s&h
  • •Country Heat Base DVD Package w/containers – $59.85 + s&h
  • •Country Heat Deluxe DVD Package – $119.70 + s&h
  • •Country Heat & Shakeology Challenge Pack – $140 + s&h

Before You Begin

Make sure to track your results! Take measurements, weigh yourself, and figure out your container breakdown (more details under “Nutrition”).

Watch the move breakdown videos; trust me – they will come in handy.

Nutrition

Start each day off right – with breakfast. This can be a shake or another healthier option like sweet potato hash and eggs. I’m a fan of eating non-traditional breakfasts. Sweet potato chocolate chili, anyone?

A little Sunday meal prep can help you stay on track!

The program recommends eating small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. I’ve gotten into the habit of eating 3 filling meals with minimal snacking. Do what works best for you. The included recipe booklet has fun meals such as Double Chocolate Cookies, Smoked Baked Beans, and Southwest Breakfast Scramble. You can even have a glass of wine a couple of days a week!

I love that the newer Beachbody programs all use the same container breakdowns. It makes it super easy to stay on top of your nutrition as you move through the programs. Use a simple formula to figure out how many of each container you get per day. Mine are based on a 1,200-1,499 calorie diet: 4Red (protein), 3Green (veggies), 2Purple (fruits), 2Yellow (carbs), 1Blue (healthy fats), 1Orange (nuts and seeds), and 2Teaspoons (oils). This turns out to be plenty of food, but if you’re still hungry, and a glass of water doesn’t do the trick, add another green or red. This plan can also be designed around a vegetarian or gluten free lifestyle.

The fix containers help you eat just the right amount.

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the workouts and throughout the day – at least half of your body weight. It will cut down on hunger and keep you hydrated. It might not seem like you’ll need it, but these workouts get you really sweaty.

My favorite way to keep hydrated – with my Healthy Human water bottle.

Optional Equipment

Yoga mat / towel for Dance Conditioning workouts

The Workouts

(In the Deluxe Program) there are 7 workouts that are alternated between the weeks. Each has 22 moves total and they are broken into pairs. You do the first move for 8 counts, the second move for 8, you put them together for 4 repetitions and then you move on to the next set. You might not get them down right away – I didn’t – but, by the end of the week, you’ll be good to go.

Dance Conditioning makes an appearance in week 2 and is only done 7 of the 26 working days. This is more about stretching and bodywork than it is about dancing, but it’s still fun and feels really good.

There are also two bonus line dances that you can add before or after your workout. One is a complete routine set to a song called “Night Crawl,” which was developed by Jody Messina specifically for this program. The other is a routine set to Jill Johnson’s “Cowboy Up.” At the end, Autumn will show you how to do the turns required in “real” country line dancing.

The dance routines feature well-known music tracks such as “Footloose,” “That’s My Kinda Night,” “5 1 5 0,” and “I Like It, I Love It.”

The Trainer

Image is the property of Beachbody, LLC.

Autumn Calabrese – Celebrity Fitness Trainer, creator of the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix EXTREME, co-creator of Hammer & Chisel, and author of the Fixate cookbook. She’s a doll and her upbeat attitude will motivate you to finish every rep.

The Results

A lot of people seem to love this program – and I can definitely add myself to that list. I read a ton of positive reviews online. You can definitely expect to see results in week two if you follow through. This is one of my favorites. I looked forward to my workouts every day. Overall I lost a few pounds, but for me, the biggest victory way realizing that I actually enjoy working out. I honestly never thought I would be the type of person who worked out every day. Since starting Country Heat in October, I’ve worked out 5-6 days a week. And most recently, I’ve been on a 7-day streak since January 2nd.

The Beachbody app makes it easy and fun to log and track workouts.

Bottom Line: I have and will continue to recommend this to all of my friends and family. Try it out for yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? If you decide it’s not really your thing, Beachbody offers a 30-day money back guarantee (less s&h). If you do like it and you see results, be sure to submit your before and after photos, weight, and measurements to the Beachbody Challenge and they will send you a FREE t-shirt. Either way, you really can’t lose.

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise, fitness, and/or diet program.

*Other package options available online. Team Beachbody Club members save 10%, coaches save 25%. Prices valid as of 2/1/2017. Visit teambeachbody.com/KPfitMiss for more information on programs, to sign up for Beachbody On Demand, and to request me as your FREE coach!

 

Keep on blazin’ on

What is the Fitbit Blaze? A smart watch that, in addition to telling time, allows you to track your steps, calories burned, heart rate, and log daily exercise, among other things.
Who is it for? Anyone who wants to track daily activity, up their fitness game, add challenges, and look stylish while doing so.

Price. Starts out at $199.95, but can be caught on sale.

Why I like it

Stylish. The watch has received criticism for its 80s-like retro feel. (As if that were a bad thing!) I prefer the Fitbit’s rectangular shape over a circular watch face. But really, it’s just about personal preference.

Comfortable. I’ll admit that when I first saw the watch in person, I wasn’t sure I would be able to sleep with it. It’s pretty large in comparison to my small wrist. BUT, like (un-itchy) clothing, once you have it on, you don’t really feel it anymore. The band is soft and flexible and there are plenty of holes to find the right fit. I don’t even notice it while sleeping.

Awesome App. The app is very user friendly and automatically syncs to the watch to provide you with updated stats upon launch. You can see your steps, miles traveled, calories burned, time exercised, sleep quality, and so much more. You can even look at trends for the week or month. It also shows you how much battery is left and when you need a recharge. It’s really awesome and gets an A++ from me.

Move Reminders. If you have a desk job, you’ll appreciate the hourly reminders to get up and move. Small movements throughout the day add up – if you take 250 steps each hour while at work, you will have taken 2,000 by the time you quit for the night. Take a walk to refill your water, grab a cup of tea, or, like I prefer, walk to the farthest bathroom and back.

Sleep. Easily track your sleep quality and habits, and awake to a silent alarm each morning. I wasn’t sure that the slight vibrations would wake me up. They do. The problem is hitting snooze!

Customizable. There are so many fun ways to switch up your style. Fitbit sells a variety of interchangeable bands, but some cost upwards of $75. Check eBay for many bands under $5. You can also change the way the clock displays – there are 9 digital and analog styles to choose from.

Battery Life. The battery lasts about 4 days, which is fantastic (and a lot longer than other smart watches). You also get a pretty long warning before the system shuts down. Mine blinked red for over 8 hours and I was able to plug it in before it flat lined (not ideal, but it happens).

Why some people don’t

Display. The Blaze has been criticized for NOT having an Always On display. I can tell you that I’m not a fan of always on for two reasons – it drains the battery faster and it is kind of annoying. With the Blaze, you click the left button to turn on the screen and it stays on for a few seconds – long enough to check the time, the date, and your stats. You can also raise your wrist (as if to check the time) and the display will appear. If that’s a total deal breaker, you might want to look into other smart watches.

It’s not waterproof. I’ve had other activity trackers that you can shower and swim with. It would make it more convenient, but it’s not a must for me. I just remove it with the rest of my jewelry before I hop in the shower and put it back on when I’m done. No big deal.

Charging. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the method of charging. You have to pop the device out of the band / unit and put it into the charging “dock.” I would much prefer wireless charging, or another method that doesn’t require disassembling the unit. But it does only take about 2 hours to get a full charge that lasts 4 days – I definitely can’t complain about that.

These future upgrades would be totally awesome

Notifications. You can get multiple notifications – text, email, calendar appointments, etc. sent straight to your Blaze. I wish you could respond to them with a touch of a finger, but you can’t. While the watch is smart, it’s a smart FITNESS watch, with fitness being the top priority. Future models could include the ability to respond and I’m sure the ratings would be off the charts.

FitStar. The watch comes with a built-in module called FitStar, which helps you to get fit anywhere through body weight workouts. You can do a warm-up, 7-minute workout, or 10-minute abs. The problem? If you don’t use the application, you can’t remove it. Is it annoying? Not to me, but I’ve seen a few complaints about it. Future models could suppress this feature.

Camera. Typical smart watches include the ability to point the camera with the phone and snap a picture from the watch. What an awesome feature this would be on the Blaze. The technology to make a shutter button is out there – think Bluetooth selfie sticks!

The icing on the cake (AKA why this is my must-have fitness gadget)

Heart Rate

  • I started tracking my stress levels and heart rate a few months ago to see if they were migraine triggers. I know that my resting heart rate is between 68 and 72, so when I’m feeling stressed or upset, I can check the watch and see if there is any elevation. Of course there usually is. I know that when my heart rate is elevated I need to practice some relaxation techniques to bring it down.
  • I can also track my heart rate during exercise to see what my average and max heart rates are and when I’m in the fat burning zone. This is also really helpful if you are looking to lose weight.

Calories Burned

  • I had another fitness tracker that wasn’t so great at the calorie tracking. I was getting so discouraged because my morning cardio workouts were only registering as 33 calories burned. I felt like I was just wasting my time. With the Blaze, I can see that I’m burning over 200 calories for every 30 minutes of exercise. That really motivates me to keep it up!

Smart Features

  • This is not just your typical fitness tracker. You can see your texts and calls, and control your music with the tap of your finger. This comes in handy at work when I need to pause my music or audiobook to take a call or if someone stops by my desk – it’s faster than pausing through the phone.

Badges

  • You can earn different badges for exercise milestones and then share them on Facebook or Twitter. When I was in Colorado in early December and we hiked up a gigantic mountain, I got a Stadium badge for climbing 150 floors in a day! I’ll probably never get close to that again, but it was a pretty awesome achievement.

 

Bottom Line: This is, hands-down, the best investment you could make for your personal health. Why? Because you will either see your fitness efforts paying off, which will push you to keep going OR you will realize how inactive you really are during the day and form better habits. I would totally recommend this to a friend.