Losing weight is always a tricky thing. Our bodies change as we age, exercise, gain and lose weight. One person’s 150 is another person’s 130. It may also be difficult to choose a “goal weight” because you may not have weighed that amount in a decade or more so how do you know if that is an appropriate weight for your current self.
So how can you tell if you are being successful on your journey to slim down? I have several non-scale ways of monitoring my progress.
1. Am I getting stronger or is my endurance changing? The thing I like about doing the same workout programs is I can really gage my progress. If I started out doing 10 pound goblet squats and I’m now doing the same exercise with 30 pounds, I am definitely stronger. If you can make it through a tough cardio workout without pausing, that’s a great sign too. If you are a running, adding distance or dropping your minutes per mile shows progress. These are great non-scale victories.
2. Are you clothes fitting differently? This is a great gage for me. I even have a pair of mint green jeans I am looking forward to fitting into! When I can wear those comfortably again, I know I will have hit my goal! Other clothes begin to get baggy and maybe need to be given away. Be realistic though. If you have been working out a lot, your clothes may fit differently and some may never fit the same as they did before. That’s not a bad thing! Athletic women know the pain of finding pants that can fit right!
3. Do you feel better? If you have more energy, are sleeping better and are less bloated, that is great progress. Honestly, I would rather take all of those than a random number on a scale.
What are some of your non scale methods of tracking progress?
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!
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.
As I write this, I just finished my first workout in two days. I planned to take Sunday as a rest day but when Monday came around, I listened to my body and knew I needed an extra one.
Rest days are important. They help heal your body from the strain you put it through during your workouts. Sometimes you also need the mental break from working out. Whatever the reason, no one ever lost all their fitness or weight loss from taking a rest day here and there. Could I have forced myself into my gym yesterday? Probably, but that extra day of rest allowed me to tackle the workout today with heavier weights and more energy.
Even an active rest day can be beneficial. Taking a walk or a bike ride, doing yoga or swimming in the pool; these are all great active rest days that allow you to physically and mentally take a break. You can even stretch or foam roll!
Yoga is one of those omnipresent things that it seems like everyone has tried at least once. One of the things I love about yoga is it strengthens your body and your mind. It also helps to stretch out all my muscles I make sore while I’m lifting weights. It can be your only method of exercise or you can fit it into a cross-training schedule. It is perfect for active rest days. I am pretty sure I do at least a few down dogs and crows every day just to stretch!
I was fortunate to experience my first yoga class on a rock pier jutting into the ocean in Jamaica. The teacher was an Expat hippie with dreadlocks down to her ankles. It was so amazing and zen, especially at the end, sitting in Shavasana (corpse pose which has you lying on your back, still, at the end of each class) at sunset. I honestly thought this is what yoga was all about.
I didn’t really start taking regular classes until after I had my daughter. I had gained 54 pounds with my pregnancy and when she was six months old, we relocated to Orlando. I signed up for the local YMCA and started attending yoga classes there. Taking classes three times a week, along with regular walks, helped me shave off those 54 pounds and then 10 more! I felt strong and clear headed. My favorite teacher (no deadlocks on this one) would put a lavender scented towel over your eyes while you were in Shavasana. Again, total zen!
Since then, I’ve had private classes in Las Vegas (surprise that I was the only one that signed up for the 8am yoga class), a giant class outside on top of one of the office buildings in downtown Orlando, tried out the Beachbody Yoga, a few apps including one called Pocket Yoga and quite a few yoga DVDs. The favorite DVD (also available online) is Body by Bethenny which is shockingly good for a celebrity exercise program, especially the core section. Yoga is so versatile that it translates to so many different modes.
You can even do virtual yoga! My friend Kelly is a yoga teacher in at the Yoga School of Miami. Unfortunately, I was never able to take her class because of the distance but now anyone can! Just sign up here. With Kelly, you get Pink Floyd, David Bowie & Prince, which is an awesome way to do yoga! Check her out. She does yoga teacher training too!!
Yoga is perfect for all fitness levels and ages as well. There are even programs specifically for kids. I have heard many times that there is no ego in yoga. You only try and improve yourself each time your practice. I have also found the others in my classes are only encouraging. At the Y, we would have time to practice stands, whether it be shoulder stands, head stands or even a handstand. It would usually involve lots of laughter and cheering when someone achieved the stand that had been working on. I always leave yoga a happier person then when I started! So where some people don’t enjoy working out at gyms, yoga is a much more inviting space for group fitness.
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.