My Favorite Workouts: 21 Day Fix Extreme

I wasn’t going to review another Autumn Calabrese workout this soon but I just finished 21 Day Fix Extreme and I had to get my thoughts down while they were fresh. This was a really tough program for me but it was also a fun challenge to see how hard I could push myself and what I could accomplish!

I did 21 Day Fix (Real Time) and 21 Day Fix Extreme (Real Time) back to back so I really did a 42 Day program. 21 Day Fix Extreme is similar to 21 Day Fix in that it progresses in difficulty each week but is also very different in difficulty and complexity. It is definitely an advanced program. For example, most moves are compound (squat to shoulder press) and your plyo and cardio moves are done with weights. There are a lot of 30 second holds and plyo jumps. By week 3, your burpees are really two shuffle steps with a weight, the burpee and then a plyo jump with the weight! I have see this program advertised for fitness competitors to follow to prepare for competition.

As a note, I have never done the original 21 Day Fix Extreme, which I believe is 7 workouts that you repeat for 3 weeks. It is available on the BOD library but I like the Real Time programs as they offer a unique workout each day and they have the weekly progression.

I loved and hated this workout all in one. It pushed me but it also caused pain and soreness like I haven’t felt in a while. There were many workouts where I was checking the clock to see how much longer I had to do it! The Pilates with the workout band was so awkward and difficult, I really didn’t enjoy it at all. On the flip side, I loved the upper body workout, which is usually not my favorite, and the yoga pushed me and stretched me like no other! I finally nailed crow pose!

Bottom line, I really got results. Doing these two programs back to back shaved 10 inches off my body and I am fitting into clothes that have been in the back of my closet for a while. I am sure I will do this program again but it won’t be in the near future!

My Favorite: Workout Necessities

This list isn’t about workout equipment or outfits, but about little things that make my workout routine (and life) a little easier. I really can’t live without them!

1. Pre-workout and post-workout supplements

I personally use supplements from the Beachbody line: Energize and Recover. Honestly, since I don’t really drink caffeine, Energize is my go-to morning drink even when I don’t workout. It gives me a boost of energy for my workout and the day without jitters. I mix mine with lots of ice so it’s like a refreshing glass of lemonade. It comes in lemon, fruit punch and mixed berry. I really like the fruit punch but I have some mixed berry to try next. Energize has also helped me relieve headache pain!

When I first started lifting regularly, I didn’t use any type of post-workout and I definitely had muscle soreness the next day or two after. When I started using Recover, my muscle soreness became virtually nonexistent and it also helped increase my endurance for my subsequent workouts. Recover comes in chocolate but I prefer orange flavor which tastes just like a creamsicle! A thicker shake-like drink but definitely a pain-saver.

2. Dry shampoo

I have a lot of long hair and I couldn’t possible wash it every day, plus who has time for all of that? Dry shampoo is a girl’s best friend anyway but when your head and hair are all sweaty, you need to get clean. I have tried a bunch of different kinds but my favorite by far, especially after a workout, is Bumble and bumble Post Workout Dry Shampoo Mist. It’s better then just the standard dry shampoo and really works on the sweat to make your hair manageable, presentable and smelling nice. Perfect on second (or third) day hair!

3. Yoga Balm

I was introduced to Yoga Balm this year after a massage at the Ritz Carlton where we stayed for my birthday (ah, the pre-pandemic days). Yoga Balm works with the heat generated in a massage or while you work out so I put it on anything that is sore prior to exercising. It works really well on the parts of my back or neck that sometimes feel sore from sitting all day. It smells much nicer than a sports cream and feels much better too. It’s a little on the pricy side but a little goes a long way. It’s not currently available on Amazon so I linked to it at the Ritz shop. You may be able to find it somewhere else less expensive.

4. A good playlist

I don’t know about you, but it is hard for me to get through cardio or a tough workout without a little music for inspiration. It can be as simple as listening to a playlist on an Amazon Echo or curating your own inspirational list. I used to have a great list of music for my Half Marathons to keep me going. I would make sure they would last as long as my run without repeats and would throw in some special songs depending on the race (Star Wars for Disney races and some Vegas-related songs for running the Strip at Night). I used to save mine on Apple Music or listened to other playlists on Spotify. If you aren’t sure what to listen to, there are plenty of playlists to sample. Most music services will let you save songs to a playlist as you are listening.

What are some of your workout essentials?

To purchase any of my favorites, just click the link. I don’t have an affiliation to any of the products listed above with the exception of Beachbody, which I will earn a commission if you purchase using my link.

Why Do Carbs Get Such A Bad Rap?

Carbs are almost a dirty word in todays society. There are just about as many no or low carb diets as there are carbs themselves! Whether you did Atkins or South Beach decades ago or you are keto now, some people swear by the no-carb life.

I was watching the Netflix show Down to Earth with Zac Efron. While they were eating pasta in Italy, Zac mentioned that when he was filing the movie Baywatch, he didn’t eat any carbs. The carb-filled diet of the centenarians in the town they were visiting was the opposite of what any trainer had told him. His diet made a lot of news at the time but he also said it made him crazy and even depressed. I know competitors in fitness competitions carb cycle in the weeks before to enhance their physique. I have never thought of a no or low carb diet to be sustainable long-term.

Zac during Baywatch (L) and Zac during Down to Earth (R)

The problem with cutting out all carbs is that some carbs are good for you. Following a balanced macronutrient diet, like I do, carbs can account for 50% of your diet! (I am usually between 40-50% each day). Carbs provide you with glucose for fuel and fiber for digestion. They also help to keep you full and satisfied so you aren’t tempted to over-eat on unhealthy foods.

We also try and watch carbs in our house because we have two people with Type 1 Diabetes, which is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is needed to break down glucose into fuel. Type 1 Diabetes has no known cause or cure. Although people with Type 1 Diabetes can eat whatever they want, they must inject insulin to “cover” the amount of carbs they eat or drink.

How do you choose which carbs to eat? In our house, we know that most cereals or refined/processed carbs are going to spike blood sugar levels. Same with fruit juices or sugary sodas. I look at these types of carbs as empty calories. I prefer whole grain bread to white bread. There are low-carb or vegetable pastas, even cauliflower rice (although we eat plenty of brown rice).

Some people avoid fruits because they contained carbs. I avoid fruit juice because it only has the carbs but the fiber has been stripped away. We eat a lot of berries, apples and pineapple. Also good are melons and oranges.

In reality, there are many ways to reduce bad carbs still eating the foods you love. Using some of the carb substitutes mentioned above is one way. If you season your cauliflower rice correctly, you can make it tasty, I promise! I have a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta, although there are plenty of options at the grocery store. Even a burger or sandwich can be lower carb by removing the top bun or piece of bread or putting it over a salad. I promise you, as I write earlier, a taco over a salad is still delicious!

For those of you using the Ultimate Portion Fix container list, I usually have whole grain toast as one of my containers. Other popular carbs are sweet potato, black or kidney beans, lentils, brown or wild rice and quinoa. Of course, when you have a glass of wine or beer, that counts as a yellow container, so plan accordingly!

Also, check out this article from the My Fitness Pal blog about the top myths about carbs.

Don’t forget to check out some of my recipes that are filled with good carbs, including cheesecake! Keep checking back for more delicious recipes and let me know if there’s a particular food you would like to see a healthy carb version of!

My Favorite Workout: 21 Day Fix

21 Day Fix (and now 21 Day Fix Real Time) is one of the most famous Beachbody programs there is. With super trainer Autumn Calabrese, you will exercise seven days a week for three weeks: upper body, lower body, cardio, cardio with weights, pilates, yoga and what she calls the Dirty 30, which is a total body weight workout. On the third week, you can add a second workout each day if you wish. There is also 2 days of 10 minute abs.

I am on week three of this program right now but this is probably the 5th time I’ve done it. I love this program for three main reasons: the workouts are 30 minutes a day, the program is only three weeks long and there is such a variety day-to-day. This is a great program if you are just starting out or you want a sense of accomplishment. If you do multiple rounds of 21 Day Fix, you can really see how much stronger you get with each round.

It’s not to say that this program is easy. Even in 30 minutes, it will challenge you. In fact, the first time I tried this program (on DVD years ago), I didn’t even finish the first week! I had to pause abs and cardio the first few rounds! The biggest thing is, as with any fitness regime, you have to have the right mindset. As Autumn says, whether you think you will succeed or you think you will fail, you are correct. It’s all about what you choose to do.

Autumn is one of my favorite trainers. I’ve done two rounds of 80 Day Obsession, I follow her nutrition program Ultimate Portion Fix and I love her cookbooks and cooking show, Fixate. If you do one of her programs, you are going to get a lot of talking, inspirational quotes and motivation throughout the workout, something that I know is not for everyone. Last year, Beachbody remade 21 Day Fix into a real time program, meaning each workout is different. The workouts also progress in difficulty each week in the updated version. I love this format because you don’t get bored and it really brings out the personalities of both Autumn and the cast. This really helps with home workouts!

I guess a fourth thing I love about this program is that I don’t outgrow it by not having heavier weights. I have weights that range from 1 pound to 15 pounds. When I was doing 80 Day Obsession, there were days I really could have used 20 or 25 pound weights. With the current pandemic, weights are extra expensive and backordered for months, so I haven’t upgraded my collection yet. However, because of the other enhancements in the workout, I could easily challenge myself without needing something heavier than a 15 pound set of dumbbells.

If home workouts aren’t your thing, I also easily brought this workout into the gym and on the road to the hotel gym. With Beachbody On Demand, I would just throw on my AirPods, prop my phone on the weight rack and follow the program . No one ever looked at me funny (or if they did, I sure didn’t notice them!)

As with most Beachbody programs there is a modifier who works out alongside everyone else but uses low impact moves, a smaller range of motion or lighter/no weights. This truly is a great program for all fitness levels. It even made me enjoy HIIT cardio, which is really saying something!

There’s also a 21 Day Fix Extreme (also updated to real time last year) which I will be starting next week so check back for a review on that program. This one I haven’t done before so it will be exciting to try something new!

If you want to try Beachbody on Demand for free, click here.

Recipe – Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

This was a fun and easy recipe that really hit it out of the park! The whole family loved them.

SERVES: 24 (1 ball each) Prep Time: 20 min.

1 cup all-natural smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3⁄4 cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
Hot water
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, 62% cocoa or higher, chopped
2 tsp. extra-virgin organic coconut oil, unrefined

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine peanut butter, cornstarch, coconut flour, and maple syrup in a medium bowl; blend well with a spatula until mixture forms a uniform dough.
  3. Using clean hands, shape dough into twenty-four 1-inch balls; place a toothpick in the center of each ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  4. Fill small saucepan with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Place a heat-proof mixing bowl over saucepan. Add chocolate and oil. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just melted. Make sure water does not splash into the bowl.
  6. Remove balls from refrigerator. Hold a ball by the toothpick and dip into chocolate, swirling to completely coat. Return to baking sheet. Repeat with each ball. (For any uncoated areas, coat carefully with a spoon dipped into chocolate.)
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until chocolate has hardened.

Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

TIPS:
• You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Place morsels and oil in microwave-safe container. Microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds; stir. Microwave for an additional 30 to 45 seconds or until just melted. Do not overcook.
• To prevent the balls from sticking to your hands when you roll them, lightly coat your hands with nonstick cooking spray.

NUTRITIONALINFORMATION(perserving):Calories:134 TotalFat:9g SaturatedFat:4g Cholesterol:0mg Sodium:57mg Carbohydrates:12g Fiber:2g Sugars:8g Protein:4g

Containers: 1 yellow and 1 spoon per serving

I did not chop the chocolate chips, just melted them by stirring frequently over heat. I also recommend a little more than 20 minutes to harden the peanut butter as the toothpicks weren’t in there solid enough to swirl in the chocolate without the help of a spatula. I would also recommend taking the toothpicks out after the chocolate is on and before you put them back in the fridge.

Happy snacking!

My 3-Day Refresh

I have been feeling a little off lately, not sleeping well and bloated, so I decided to do a 3-day refresh. This is a Beachbody program that involves lots of fruit, vegetables, water and fiber over a 3 day period. This is not a cleanse but more of a reset to balance your digestion and hydration. I started mine on Tuesday. So what did it entail?

  • Start each morning with 8-10 oz of filtered water
  • Breakfast: Shakeology blended with water + one serving of fruit
  • Optional morning tea (one hour after breakfast)
  • Fiber Sweep digestive drink (one hour after tea)
  • Lunch: Vanilla shake blended with water + one serving of fruit + one serving of vegetable + one healthy fat
  • Afternoon snack: One vegetable + one healthy fat or raw juice (at least one hour after Lunch)
  • Optional afternoon tea ) one hour after snack)
  • Dinner: Vanilla shake blended with water + Dinner recipe list
  • Optional evening tea

The program provides the list and serving sizes of the fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. It also provides the fiber sweep, vanilla drink and Shakeology along with an instruction book, recipes and a post-refresh maintenance guide.

Tuesday morning I woke up at 6am and drank a large glass of water. Then I had a vanilla vegan Shakeology with mixed berries added to it. Around 8:45 am, I had a glass of green ginger tea. (I found when I have done this in the past, the tea really helps with any hunger pains.) A little after 10am, I drank the Fiber Sweep. For best results, you really need to put this in a shaker cup and make sure it’s mixed thoroughly. Otherwise, it’s thick and clumpy. This is definitely my least favorite part! It has a lemon flavor to it but it’s best to drink it fast. Then around 11:45, I had my lunch of a vanilla drink, one fruit, one vegetable and one healthy fat. I added cinnamon to my vanilla drink (a “free” flavoring” and only a few ice cubes so it was more like a drink and not a shake). For my fruit, I was going to have 1/2 an apple but both red apples were rotten in the middle! Luckily we always have plenty of strawberries and a serving size on the Refresh is 12! Carrots and hummus round out what is actually a decent lunch.

At 2:30 I sautéed some zucchini in avocado oil for the veggie & healthy fat. Dinner was at 5pm and was a nice little veggie stir-fry with another vanilla drink. I kept with the cinnamon since it was so good at lunch. The dinner choices are all plant based and range from different steamed or roasted veggies or various salads. There’s also an option to have vegetable broth with fresh herbs. I wasn’t hungry or wanted anything else so I didn’t have tea in the morning of afternoon.

Days two & three I ate the same breakfast, lunch and dinner but I switched out steamed cauliflower for my afternoon snack with a scoop of nut butter for my healthy fat on Day 2. I didn’t feel hungry at all these days and didn’t have any tea.

Generally, it is recommended that you only do a light workout or none at all over the three days because you are only consuming about 900 calories, but I did my normal 40 minute leg workout on Thursday and I added my Recover drink after my workout. BOD has a 3-day yoga program specific for use during the refresh.

So overall, what did I get out of this? Even during the first day, I could feel the bloat dissipating and by Day 2, my digestion was much better and my bloat was completely gone. Night 2 was the best night sleep I have had in over a month. Overall, I also lost 4 pounds. I also feel like my sweet tooth cravings are diminished. I never felt deprived or overly hungry. It was much easier than the 21-day Ultimate reset that I did back in March! This is something I would be more than happy to do if I ever feel “off-track” again.

Going forward, I am looking forward to having healthy carbs and protein again but I feel this was a good building block to help me get back on track with balanced macros and helped to cure my cravings. If you are interested in trying it out, you can purchase it here.

My Favorite Cookbook (or 2)

I like to do home workouts using Beachbody on Demand (BOD) fitness programs but what most people don’t know is there is a cooking show in the BOD lineup called Fixate. They also have 2 cookbooks, Fixate and Fixate 2. There are recipes for everything from breakfast, lunch & dinner to snacks, cocktails and even holiday favorites. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there is plenty in there for you and a lot of the recipes are gluten-free, if that is important to you. They even have spice and dressing recipes!

I love these cookbooks not just because they are full of yummy recipes but because they breakdown two measurements that make my life easier: nutritional information, especially carbs, and container counts.

Nutritional information: I cook for two people with Type 1 Diabetes so knowing how many carbs are in foods is essential. Most mainstream cookbooks don’t have this information (love you, Chrissy Teigen!) so I don’t use those books as often. Most “diet” cookbooks have a breakdown but the foods are often boring and bland. All of the Fixate recipes have the nutritional information broken down so if you are counting carbs, calories or macros (more on macros to come), it’s perfect!

Container counts: I can hear you saying what the heck are container counts? Well, you may have heard of a fitness program called 21 Day Fix. This goes hand-in-hand with the Portion Fix way of healthy eating, which is what I follow most days. The containers make it easy not only to measure the portion sizes of what you are eating but to balance your macronutrients. The Fixate cookbooks spell out the container counts and balance for you.

I promise to do a whole post on macronutrients and the containers in the future. Another nice thing about counting macros using the container system is you can Google any recipe and add “Fixate” to it and you will likely come up with a bunch of recipes someone already invented, with the container counts already figured out!

I will be trying out some new recipes as well as sharing some of the family favorites. For now, I will leave you with the donuts we made last weekend. These are only 226 calories per donut with 32 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber! Compare that with a Dunkin Donut which is 360 calories, 41 carbs and 1 gram of fiber. These were super easy to make and so delicious!

If you want to purchase either Fixate or Fixate 2 from Amazon, please use my affiliate links. The containers are also available on Amazon.