How to find a workout that sparks joy

I am probably one of the very few who didn’t fall head over heels for Transform:20, the new workout by Beachbody Super Trainer Shaun T. I tried a sample workout before launch and just wasn’t feeling it, so I knew I wouldn’t be motivated to complete it.

Many people who say they hate working out just haven’t found the right workout…yet.

Personally, I hate going to the gym. I’ve tried it time and time again, but I just don’t feel comfortable in that scene. Last year, my husband and I started building our own home gym, and I feel like it’s pretty complete now. The great thing is that it doesn’t even have to be expensive! We found a barely used NordicTrack treadmill on Facebook Marketplace for $150, picked up a barbell set from DICK’S Sporting Goods, and scored a nice spin bike from Bath and Beyond (coupon eligible!).

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Said bike! Isn’t it great?

The above, coupled with a dance floor, huge projector, and many other odds and ends, makes our gym my happy place.

What works for me

After years of experimenting with different workouts, I’ve found a few that stand out as favorites. Instead of just sticking with one workout program, I decided to create a schedule incorporating all of my favorites. Two days a week I’ll do pure cardio, in the form of dance or step. (I’ve found that I’m better suited for longer cardio sessions in the evenings, so if I plan it right, I can bust out my workouts after work while my husband goes to the local gym.) Three days will be cardio/resistance in the form of spin and weight lifting. Two days are reserved for light workouts such as yoga, or just an old fashioned rest day.

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Some of my favorite dance workouts!

My current schedule looks like this:

  • Mon/Wed – 60 mins Cardio (Evening)
  • Tues/Fri/Sat – 15-30 min Spin & 30 mins Strength Training (Morning)
  • Thurs/Sun – Rest/Yoga/Meditation

How can you find your perfect workout?

  1. Do more of things you already enjoy. Like hiking? Plan outings with friends or take your fur baby for extra long walks on a local trail. Love dancing at the club? Bring the energy home. YouTube has some fun workouts, but you could also opt for something more regimented, like Beachbody’s Cize or Country Heat (pictured above) – both amazingly fun!
  2. Try something new. A lot of gyms and online classes offer free trials or discounts for first-time members/users. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. I just scored great ones from the Sweat app (3 months for $1) and Peloton Digital (3 months for $19.49 plus tax).
  3. Take note of what your friends are doing. A friend of mine is into spin class. I did some research and found out that local classes are pretty expensive – like $150 a month. It ended up being cheaper to buy a bike and pedal away in the comfort of my own home. One of my friends loves yoga, another does MMA, a few others are runners. Ask to join a workout and see what you think.

Really, it’s just about experimenting. Not everyone will love every workout. If a workout doesn’t spark joy, kick it to the curb and say “thank you, next.”

I tried the Commit30 Planner. Here’s what happened…

For almost the entire month of December, I was OBSESSED with the Commit30 Planner. I visited the website an excessive amount of times, downloaded a few of the free PDFs and challenges, and I had it sitting in my cart for a really long time.

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The, 2019 Weekly Day Planner, which I eventually purchased (above), comes in 5 colors and 2 convenient sizes. I opted for the larger 7″x10″ in gold for an affordable price of $34.99. Compared to most other planners out there – some only designed for 30-90 days – this is a steal!

Features

  • Full-year planner with monthly and weekly views
  • Yearly vision board (and space for a monthly vision as well)
  • Notes section for each month (bullet journal style)
  • 30-day challenge template and goal planning for each month
  • List of US holidays for 2019 & 2020
  • Bullet journal in the back
  • Pocket folder on the back flap
  • Bookmark and sticker
  • BONUS: Super-fast shipping (I ordered it on 12/28 and it arrived on the 31st – just in time!)

Stickers

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You can purchase stickers for the planner on the Commit30 site, but I’ve found Michael’s craft store to have more variety and cheaper prices – plus, you can’t beat those 40% off coupons! I loaded up on stickers to add dimension to my plans: budget, fitness, and random little things. Life is better in color – rainbow colors!

My Experience

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February’s looking good with a trip to Peru, Valentine’s Day, and snow tubing!

While I love this planner so, so much, I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not a planner girl. A sticker girl for sure, but I always end up preferring a digital (or mental) account of my plans and to-do list. The only section I’ve used religiously is the monthly layout, where I can track EVERYTHING that’s important to me:

  • when bills are due
  • how many times I fill up my gas tank
  • what I spend on groceries
  • number of workouts
  • starting and ending weight
  • weekend plans
  • meal prep
  • housework
  • and pretty much everything else

I’ve never been a fan of keeping a detailed daily workout log (it records on my phone) or writing down my meals (for the most part, I follow my weekly meal plan). I thought this planner would make those tasks more fun, but daily tracking will never be my cup of tea.

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Each month has a few words of wisdom at the start. 

The Bottom Line: This planner/journal is amazing and I love the idea of it. It’s perfect for someone who loves keeping lists, planning EVERYTHING, tracking food and workouts, and carrying around a journal to make note of random things. It would also be great for people looking to set and track goals, keep a physical schedule, or replace an unfavorable planner.

Warning: Unpopular opinion shared below. 

At the end of last year, I decided to cancel my Beachbody Coach account. After toying with the idea for a while, I had a few revelations that culminated in one huge Eureka moment before my 29th birthday: it just wasn’t bringing me joy. And like Marie Kondo says, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart.” I feel like this is true with material objects AND every other aspect of life.

I’ve completed so many fitness programs and so, so many reviews, but at a point, I feel like it just gets old. You drop pounds, you gain them again. You restrict your diet, then you add in cheat days, and finally, life just becomes one big feast. At this point, I should look and feel like a fitness competitor (insert laughing so hard I’m crying emoji). But instead, like many other loyal Beachbody groupies, I’m right where I started, ready to “begin again” with the next program launch.

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The beginning of LIIFT4.

While I’ve loved programs like Shift Shop and LIIFT4, I could only complete them so many times before they just got…well…stale. So, after four years of Beachbody, I’ve decided to bid adieu to coaching and BOD. Don’t get me wrong, $99 a year is a great price for what you get – if you use it.

In the last few weeks, I’ve tried classes from Sweat by Kayla Itsines, AKT (Kelly Ripa’s trainer), Jillian Michaels, and BodyBoss. While good, none of them are really worth the $20+ a month, in my opinion.

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Calorie burn from a Body Step workout.

This year, I’ve decided to DIY my own fitness plan, incorporating all of my favorite things – dance, HIIT, strength training, and biking. Stay tuned for future posts on what that looks like and how you can create your own!

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New gym equipment coming soon!!

The Productivity Project

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I’m not one to write a review prior to finishing a book, but the thing is, I could base my entire rating on just Part One. This has been one of the best books I’ve read all year and the absolute best (ever) on the subject of productivity. If you’re looking for a great read to start off the new year, The Productivity Project is a perfect choice.

Title: The Productivity Project
Author: Chris Bailey
Genre: Personal / Professional Development
DS Rating: 4.5/5

When I was younger – maybe high school age – I thought it would be a great idea to maximize each day. If I could get by on just 6 hours of sleep, I’d have 18 to accomplish everything on my list. I’m pretty sure Chris Bailey would cringe at that rationale. What I didn’t know then was not all 18 hours are equal.

In one of the most helpful exercises I’ve ever done, Bailey suggests plotting out your energy throughout the day for a minimum of a week. Then, once you find your “Biological Prime Time,” you only complete your most important tasks during that window. Wow. Mind blown. It turns out that I’m at my prime between 7 and 11 am, and again from 5 to 7 pm. It all goes down hill after that. (Something I’ll be working on in 2019.)

Why it’s great…

Bailey spent time after college working on A Year of Productivity (which is also a blog). He read so many books and articles and studies (oh my!) on productivity and time management and shares the best in his book. He also performed some self-experiments like watching 70 hours of TED talks in one week, working 90-hour work weeks, and waking up at 5:30 am each morning to see the impact on his productivity. Basically, he does the dirty work for us. And thank God, because, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Each chapter is filled with a wealth of information to make you look at time and productivity in a whole new light. The exercises are helpful, and in between, you’ll be graced by tidbits of info that will make you a trivia all-star. Speaking of, did you know that prior to 1883 there were hundreds of time zones used in the United States? I didn’t.

But, what I love even more is that each chapter has a small summary at the beginning and estimated reading time. I’ve seen more and more articles list reading times, but never a book. It’s truly awesome.

What now?

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I fully intend to be more focused and efficient in 2019, and The Productivity Project is just what I needed to get started. I was even inspired to pick up a new planner to document my list of goals and accomplishments. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on that experience too.

Happy New Year, friends!

10K a Day

If you work in an office setting (like I do), you probably know just how hard it is to get in the number of recommended steps each day. I park in the farthest possible spot, always take the stairs, get up at least once an hour to stretch my legs, bypass the closest bathroom, workout almost daily, and most days I barely hit 6,000 steps. #Annoying.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of neck pain, restless legs, and a lot of stiffness. I started looking into it and found out I was dying. Kidding. Never -I repeat, NEVER – plug your symptoms into WebMD. But I was shocked to find studies show that sitting for extended periods of time does the body harm EVEN if you workout daily. And now we have something else to worry about.

This is bad news for those of us who work 8-9 hour days with our butts in a chair. So when my company, who is very supportive of healthy initiatives for employees, decided to host a 6-week fall walking challenge, I quickly formed a team and vowed that we would get in over 10K steps a day.

I honestly didn’t realize how hard that would be.

Walktober

The program had a really cool app that allowed you to log your steps, view your team stats, and check out your team rank (which I may have checked too many times a day). Did you guys know that my top strength in the Gallup Strengthsfinder is Competition? It’s true – I love a good challenge.

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Catchy, huh?

Each day there was an opportunity to get one of three leaves – red (for walking at least 6K steps), orange (for walking at least 8K), and gold (for walking at least 10K). The goal was to get at least 30 leaves in any color over 42 days. My goal was to get 42 gold leaves.

My Experience

Yesterday was the last day of the challenge and the sixth week of LIIFT4. With that program, I’ve been doing a lot of lifting and some HIIT for almost two months now. It’s a great program (more on that soon!), but because it involves a lot of weighted moves with my feet planted on the ground, I only get around 1,000 steps a workout if I’m lucky.

Fortunately, my husband and I had a trip to Universal planned for the first weekend of the challenge! We both got in over 20K steps a day that weekend. Hey, where are my platinum leaves??

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Halloween Horror Night had us walking past 1 am. This guy wouldn’t carry me back to the car – do you believe it?!

There were many, many days when I had to supplement my LIIFT4 workouts with extra cardio like Core de Force (MMA) or Country Heat (dance) just to boost my step count. But that also meant I didn’t get a rest day and ended up burning over 900 calories. Mah legs – I couldn’t feel mah legs.

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Dance burns a TON of calories, and it’s fun!

Some days I took three laps around my work campus at lunch (6K steps), while listening to an audiobook and silently cheering myself on. Some nights I’d be walking on the treadmill at 10 pm hating my life and the “stupid” challenge.

But, you know what? It got me up and walking – the goal. It also got me to make decisions around step count. Oh, walk around the mall? Yes, I can do that. That will get me at least 2,500 steps. Let’s go!

The Results

My team did okay – we landed in 3rd place out of 21 teams. Okay, not too shabby, but I can’t say I didn’t want to see us take home the trophy: a sponsored lunch for the entire team. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded with food for successfully completing a fitness challenge?

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It’s okay – I’ll just continue to eat my own tasty lunch that I prepared myself. I’m not bitter, thank you very much!

I tied for first place with a handful of others in the individual competition, getting 42 gold leaves. I ended each night over 10K, even if just by a few steps. There’s only one prize to go around, so I’m not sure how’ll they’ll split it.

My legs feel more toned, albeit shaky. I feel empowered to keep stepping, even though I sometimes walk like a 99 year old granny. But, you guys, I haven’t taken a full rest day in SIX freakin weeks, so I plan to take full advantage of my three LIIFT4 rest days this week.

Bottom Line: Yes, it’s a challenge to get in 10K steps a day if your job involves a desk, a chair, and a timeclock. But, it’s very possible. I encourage all of you to be more active and go for the gold! And maybe just spread the steps out more throughout the day. Trying to get 6,000 or more steps after work was not my idea of a good time.

 

Want some (keto) cookies??

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Nui. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from eatnui.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Changing your diet is hard. One minute you’re devouring bowls of chicken alfredo pasta with a side of warm, crusty garlic bread, and the next you’re munching on cucumber sticks wondering if there’s more to life than this. (Kidding! I actually happen to enjoy cucumber sticks with a little sea salt, I swear.)

But seriously, it’s tough to make changes, especially ones that last more than a few days.

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My typical lunch – chili (protein), veggies w/ avocado (healthy fat), and dessert!!

Recently, I made the decision to stick to a diet that is keto/paleo-friendly. What does that mean, exactly? I understand that paleo and keto are, in many ways, very different, but I decided to take the best features of both and unite them.

  • High Fat, Veggie, and Protein (keeps me full)
  • Low Carb & Sugar (reduces cravings)
  • Moderate Dairy (reduces bloating)
  • Gluten & Legume Free (better for my gut)

I know what you’re thinking – that cuts out a lot of the good stuff. Well, it definitely eliminates things that my body doesn’t like. You see, I’ve been known to demolish cartons of Peeps, bags of Sour Patch Kids, tubs of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and oh, don’t get me started on peanut butter cookies. I. Want. Them. All.

I can’t say for certain whether it’s because I’m getting older, or because my body’s just tired of being fed crap, but I was feeling really run down, bloated, lethargic, and heavy. Then, as soon as I got serious about eating healthier and working out harder, I noticed immediate changes. (Cue angelic/heavenly music.)

I knew this wasn’t going to be a month-long thing, but rather a life-long journey, so I started focusing on all of the things I could eat.. Turns out, there are a ton of paleo and keto recipes, resources, and ready-to-eat products on the good ol’ internet.

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That’s how I stumbled upon Nui, a company that makes delicious keto cookies with full-fat ingredients and only 4 net carbs. Amazing. Of course, my favorite is the peanut butter!

Grab a Glass of Milk

Nui cookies are gluten-free, low glycemic, and don’t have any added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or GMOs. Ingredients like heavy cream and grass-fed butter make these cookies so rich and satisfying, you won’t even know they’re good for you. Eat them on the go or pack them with lunch – we could all use a little afternoon treat. However you choose, feel free to indulge that sweet tooth of yours – hope is not lost.

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When you visit eatnui.com, you’ll find recipes and a comprehensive guide to beginning a keto lifestyle. If you’re considering it and want to know more, I suggest you check it out!

I can’t recommend these cookies enough. Game changer!

That 9 to 5 Life

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Hello Healthy Box. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from hellohealthybox.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Let me just say this – I never knew what a challenge it would be to work in an office full time and still eat clean, keep fit, and be active. Every time I turn around there is an office party – someone retiring, getting married, having a baby, celebrating a birthday. We also have food for every holiday – even those unofficial ones like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. And don’t get me started on those vending machines. Twix ice cream bars? Yes, please! Actually, make it two.

All of those little calories we think nothing of – a few pieces of candy here, a slice of cake there – add up. Before you know it, you’ve got that little 9-5 belly.

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That’s where Hello Healthy Box comes in. I can’t say enough positive things about this company and program! It’s solved the “I don’t have time” problem of many a working woman. The box provides you with 4 grab-and-go meals to eat during the workday, taking the guesswork out of meal prep. There’s no tracking or calorie counting. Just add your own dinner, some veggies, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s that simple.

The Program

Each new customer will purchase a starter pack, a 2-week initial supply of food for $198.00 + state tax & ground shipping to your location. Thereafter, you can order in weekly increments. The 2-week supply gets you 56 foods for about $14 per day. Not bad, considering a morning coffee alone will set you back about $5.

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Some of the meals from my first 2 weeks

Each day is pretty simple:

  • Choose 4 packaged foods, spaced throughout the workday
  • Add 2 cups of veggies at lunch
  • Eat a 4 oz serving of protein and 2 cups of veggies for dinner
  • Drink at least 64 oz of water
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Veggies are delish! Who loves my vintage plates??

Helpful Things to Know

  • This IS a diet program. If you follow it as recommended, you can lose 1-3 pounds a week.
  • There are a lot of restrictions for the weight loss phase – no sugar, starchy veggies, grains, wine, processed foods, etc. It’s in line with keto.
  • The program is designed to help you control 80% of your daily food choices.
  • Soups, meals, drinks, etc. come powdered. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting this, but everything is very portable and easy to prepare with just water.
  • You can still eat out and make healthy choices (salad w/ chicken, steak & steamed veggies, etc).
  • Feeling tired and achy at the start is normal because our bodies are so used to being fueled by a sugar rush at all hours of the day.
  • To ensure you’re seeing results, I’d recommend weighing weekly.
  • Always, always consult your doctor to make sure a new diet is safe for you. Meals are high protein, low carb, and low sugar, which could be a shock to your body if you’re not used to them.
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My favorite sloppy joes over spaghetti squash sauteed with bacon. Yum!

This program is for you if you:

  • work in an office setting
  • have a busy schedule
  • don’t have (or don’t care to) meal prep
  • have poor eating habits
  • need something quick to grab on the go
  • want to get healthy but just don’t know where to start
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Most of my meals during the week are eaten right here – at my desk.

Things I Loved

No program is perfect. And I’m sure there will be things I loved that others won’t and vice versa. I’m a pretty picky eater, so I wasn’t a fan of some of the foods. But this is actually built into the plan. The company knows that everyone won’t love everything. In fact, they even mention that customers will usually find 6-10 foods they love and repeat them for the weight loss phase of the program. Fortunately, I was able to find more than 10 things I was happy to eat more than once.

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Cream of chicken soup with a side salad for lunch.

Below are a few other things I really loved:

  • The Welcome Guide is a really helpful blueprint for success with the program. I used it as a quick reference whenever I needed a refresher.
  • I saw a weight reduction right away; I was down 3 lbs in the first 4 days.
  • There’s a great variety. A lot of the food choices were super yummy and easy for me to grab a bar on-the-go or sip soup out of a mug in a meeting.
  • The high-protein / high-fiber foods and eating schedule kept me full between meals.
  • If you’re not crazy about some of the meals, you can swap them.
  • If you’re not satisfied, there’s a 100% Money Back Guarantee (less shipping) within 15 days of purchase.

Things I Wasn’t Crazy About:

Anytime I write a review, it’s important that I share the truth with my readers so you won’t be swayed into trying something without all the facts. One of the toughest things for me was skipping my meal prep. By now you all know that I get a little crazy with Sunday Prep, even going so far as to plan everything out in Excel. It just works for my Type A personality.

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Tomato soup with sauteed veggies.

Below are a few more things that I wasn’t 100% crazy about:

  • Most items don’t have ingredients or nutritional facts on the package, but they are available online.
  • Carrots are not allowed (starchy veggie). They are such an easy and versatile veggie and one of my favorites.
  • I missed adding a mashed banana (fruit not allowed) to my morning oatmeal.
  • I like sweetening my foods with natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and dates, but only artificial sweeteners are allowed.
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Making healthy choices outside of the box – Greek salad from the diner!

My Results

Halfway into week two, I was seeing great results and decided to extend the program another week. It was just too easy to pack my food for the day. During this time, I was “forced” to drink more water, eat more veggies, and resist the urge to grab unhealthy foods during the day. This was definitely helpful because it made me try new spices to flavor veggies, practice more self-control around some of my favorite foods, and gain a new appreciation for healthy dinners. I even bypassed cupcakes and apple cider doughnuts at the office (one of my favorite fall treats!).

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My performance has been on point. I didn’t even need pre-workout!

I was able to pinpoint a few veggies that don’t love me (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower), and I decided to remain decided to eat low carb, and high protein, fat, and veggie after the 21 days.

Overall, I lost 8.2 lbs during the 3 weeks of using Hello Healthy Box and working out 6 days a week. In addition, my energy levels are remaining high throughout the day and I’ve received so many comments about my clear and glowing skin!

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Sometimes I ate these chips for breakfast. Because, yum!

Bottom Line: The program really works if you follow it. It takes the guesswork out of what to eat during the workday and just makes life easier. I would recommend Hello Healthy Box to anyone who has been struggling with their weight and falls into one of the above categories. This may just be the answer you were looking for – it was for me!

Bonus: Use code Snacker25 to get $25 off your first box!!