Monday, January 11, 2016

Tone It Up Challenge Week 1 Recap

I had a surprisingly easy time sticking to the first week of the Tone It Up challenge. While I discuss some of the challenges below, I followed the plan perfectly until Friday's dinner and still made good plan-aligned choices through the weekend. I'll definitely be making some changes to the plan next week (I'm looking at you, chicken breast) but all in all I'm excited to be back on the TIU wagon. I can already see some physical changes and I've lost 2 lbs this week. I definitely recommend printing out the plan and writing down any changes you're making to the week on the sheets. I've been keeping the current day's print out on the counter in the kitchen so I don't have to worry about remembering what each meal is. I made some changes to the plan that are totally TIU Approved in order to make meals more enjoyable for me. A dollop of Dijon mustard in the oil + vinegar dressing on the kale salad made my heart sing and adding a few chopped scallions, lime juice, some curry powder, and a little mango chutney to my chicken and Greek yogurt made a boring wrap filling into a funky chicken salad. I listed out the good and the bad for this week, as well as what I'll be changing up to make next week as successful as possible. I also added salt to pretty much every recipe so that I didn't pass out - if you didn't know, I have very low blood pressure and low-sodium is a no-go for me! 

The Good
  • I loved the breakfasts, snacks, and lunches this week. I have re-fallen in love with protein pancakes (which used to be a staple item in my breakfast rotation) and marinating kale actually made such a huge difference that I actually liked the kale salads. I never felt hungry or deprived - I was eating real food and enjoying it.
  • I seemed to find a good balance for meal prep where I prepped enough to make following the plan easy but not so much that I was only eating microwaved food. The only meal I struggled with was M5 (dinner), which I talk about below.
  • I followed the meal plan perfectly until Friday M5, which was much better than I anticipated.
  • I worked out every day this week and only missed one thing from the weekly plan. I had a lot of life stuff come up on Thursday and I was unable to get my cardio in before work and so I just came home at 8:30 and did the foam rolling routine. 
  • I've lost 2 lbs this week!

The Bad
  • I was so sick of chicken breast by Friday. 
  • I really dislike having leftovers or the same thing multiple times a week for dinner. Both Wednesday and Thursday I barely ate any of my dinner because the food sounded so unappetizing to me. It was weird because I really enjoyed those meals when I had them Monday and Tuesday, but the second time around I was sick of it. I think the chicken burnout contributed to this as well. 
  • In addition to never wanting to look at a chicken breast again, I was totally protein-ed out, if that's even a thing. Every meal was so high in protein I was barely hungry by dinner, which I think might also be why I didn't want to eat my M5 the second half of the week. I craved fruit & pasta at night pretty much the whole week, even when I wasn't that physically hungry.
  • By Friday night all I wanted was a serving of pasta for dinner - so I made pasta. I was so bummed out all day because the idea of having more chicken for dinner was depressing. It was a simple one-pot pasta dish but it was the best dinner I ate all week just because there wasn't any chicken in it. Even with having 2 servings of the pasta, I was still within my calorie goal for the day, so I felt fine about the whole thing. It wasn't TIU Approved, but I seriously thought I was going to cry if I ate chicken for another meal.
  • I forgot I was going to be out of the house all day Saturday! I didn't get back home until 10 and I certainly wasn't going to cook chicken drumsticks for an hour and eat at 11 PM. I ended up having pasta leftovers, which were delicious. I regret nothing.
  • Did I mention I am really sick of chicken breast?
The Changes
  • I'm diversifying my protein choices this week. I'm definitely going to be eating pork tenderloin for a couple of meals! I'll also be adding in more chicken drumsticks and other non-breast cuts for dinner - I take a cue from Gina at and pull the skin off to make them lower calorie! 
  • Since this weekend is my 1 year wedding anniversary, I've already owned up that we'll be going out to eat both Saturday and Sunday night. Knowing I'm going to have 2 meals I'll really enjoy at the end of the week helps me stick to the plan Monday through Friday. 
Overall, I'm very excited with the results I'm already seeing. Other than my dinner issues, I loved the food I was eating and I think I'm making appropriate changes to make the plan work for me. Are any of you following the challenge this year? Let me know what your struggles and successes this week were in the comments! I wish you all the best in the 2nd week of the challenge and I'll be back next week with another recap!

XOXO Samantha

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tone It Up Challenge // Why I Love TIU & How I Plan for Challenges!!

Happy New Year!! With the New Year comes resolutions, so it's no surprise I've been getting a lot of questions about Tone It Up! I've wanted to share my experience with TIU with you guys for a while, but with the 12 Spreads of Christmas, I didn't have time to film another video! I attempted to film a fitness PWM where I discussed this, but I was very unhappy with the results and decided that my blog would be a better place to talk about my goals for this upcoming challenge, what Tone It Up is all about, and what my experience with them has been like.

I will say that I have followed the TIU workouts much more religiously than the meal plan. About a year ago (right around the time I purchased the plan) I was struggling with binge eating and I gained a significant amount of weight for my height. I sought treatment for my eating issues and have learned much more effective outlets for dealing with stress and anxiety than binge eating! I feel like my weight gain is something I needed to mention as I've been following TIU for 2 years - I was not following their meal plan AT ALL even though I would frequently make meals from their plan and enjoyed them. Even as I gained weight, I could see tangible results from the workouts. I was significantly more flexible in my yoga practice, I had to buy progressively heavier weights, and I had increased endurance. 

Before I talk about what TIU is and what I like about it, I want to address some of the most common complaints or concerns I see when people talk about the plan.
  • It is not a "starvation diet." The plan works for both weight loss and weight maintenance. You are encouraged to calculate your BMR and your TDEE and to be aware of your caloric needs. They lay out a plan for you, but also give lists of foods that are between 100 & 250 calories to reach an appropriate caloric intake for your body and fitness goals. 
  • The "Seven Day Slimdown" is not representative of the plan as a whole. It is meant to be something you do infrequently (as in only once or twice a year, if ever) before a big event. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, then don't do it! It isn't required for success on the plan. They specifically say to NEVER go below 1200 calories and to eat more if you are feeling light headed or weak. You also cut back on your workouts while doing this short plan. Many of the harsh reviews online seem to think that the 7DSD is what you are encouraged to eat like every day, which is ridiculous. 
  • It is not a low carb or restrictive diet. They encourage you to eat fruit and healthy starches! They also want you to be able to enjoy the food you really love at parties or holidays - they never say you shouldn't enjoy your favorites occasionally!! The guide has tips on how to enjoy the foods you love on special occasions without overindulging. 
  • You can use heavy weights! They have frequently said that they use 5 lb weights when they film because they have to film the same routines over and over and they wouldn't be able to do that with heavier weights. They want you to increase your weight as your strength increases!! Many critiques mention that they only use the light weights in videos, but they seem to miss the part where Karina and Katrina encourage you to lift heavier.
So what IS Tone It Up? Overall, the plan lays out what you should eat during the day. K&K encourage you to know your calorie needs and adjust your meals accordingly. They are now including the calorie counts of recipes in the plan which makes it easier than ever to know how much you are eating. The plan as a whole functions as more of an exchange system, where they lay out how much of each food group you should eat at each meal. There are also 8 week guides included for this past bikini series and this TIU challenge that is just starting. If you are new to the plan, the guides are the best place to start to see what a day on the plan looks like. 

One of my favorite parts of TIU is the wonderful community of supportive women. I find it astounding that there is such a kind community on the Internet - women are honest and vulnerable with each other and receive support and love in return. People don't judge or tear down; they build up and encourage. There is no snark, no drama, no "Bye Felicia" moments... while occasionally outsiders may come in on social media and troll, the people actually in the community are wonderful. You do NOT have to purchase the plan to be a part of this community - it's free! I follow at least 100 TIU accounts on Instagram and I love seeing both the positive and the struggles. It makes me feel like I'm not alone!! Check out hashtags like #toneitup, #tiuteam, or #tiumeals to get an idea of what the community is like!

The workouts are also entirely free. While you can buy DVDs, you do not have to be a nutrition plan member to get them and they are a much lower price point than the plan. The YouTube videos are just as challenging as the DVD workouts, though usually a little shorter. (I'm looking at you, HIITy Bitty Bikini!!) Their workouts over the past 2 years have definitely increased in difficulty - the workouts during this past Bikini Series are pretty representative of what the DVDs are like and what a typical new workout feels like. If you are not sure about the plan, I would encourage you to use the free resources - the workouts, the community, the free recipes posted on the website! 

So why do I feel like TIU works for me?
  • When I used to do a lot of running, I never felt like I was done with a workout, which led to issues with overexercising. I like having a plan laid out and having someone else tell me what I have to do. I feel a sense of completion when I check off my workouts each day and I no longer feel the urge to overdo it. I am totally fine taking days off if I am tired, sick, busy, or just don't feel like it - as my planner shows!! 
  • I love the emphasis on body positivity - they want you to workout and eat well as a way to take care of yourself, not as a form of punishment. They never talk negatively about bodies or body parts - never anything about jiggly legs or flabby tummies. There is only positive talk about how working out can strengthen your body.
  • I love that they also encompass the mental/emotional part of taking care of your body. They really want you to focus on self care in many capacities, which is something I struggle with! Journaling, visualization, taking time for myself, making myself a priority... these are all things I've started doing regularly with encouragement from TIU. 
  • The plan has REAL FOOD. While I don't know that I'll ever eat some of the recipes featuring seaweed or kelp, those are few and far between. The plan has encouraged me to try so many new things that have become fast favorites: quinoa, kale, Brussels sprouts, various nuts and seeds, tofu, cacao nibs, & chia seeds! I never feel like I'm eating "diet" food when I make a recipe from the plan. It's because it isn't diet food - the plan is designed to be something you adapt to use for weight loss or just living a healthy lifestyle. 
Is there anything I don't like about TIU?
  • I have an undergrad degree in pre-med biology and I worked in a health psychology lab my junior and senior year. I have little patience for "bro-science." While most of the plan is nutritionally and scientifically sound, some small components like alkalinity of food and your body are mentioned and I choose to ignore that as I don't see the scientific evidence to back this up. Overall this isn't a problem... there are maybe 2 pages I just ignore!
How I Plan for Success
  • Meal Planning! I've talked about how I meal plan in my fitness PWMs, but I start by writing down all the meals I want to make that week. Since the 8 week guide lays out what I'm eating, I edited it slightly to accommodate my likes and dislikes - for instance, I subbed out shredded chicken for tuna and since I had a couple blocks of tofu in the fridge I decided to use that instead of chicken in one of the recipes that is repeated several times during the week. Then I went through the recipes and wrote down all the ingredients I didn't already have in my kitchen - voila! A shopping list :) 
  • Sunday grocery shopping. If you've watched even one PWM, you know I shop on Sundays. I like to have all my food ready to go for Monday so I don't have to worry about having the right breakfast or lunch. 
  • Meal Prep! While I hate microwaved meat, there are definitely some prepping steps I still do. I chopped bell peppers and onions for egg scrambles and other dishes. I sauted some of them for another dish so I can just assemble. I pressed, cut, and baked the tofu for teriyaki bowls. I put chicken in the slow cooker to make shredded chicken for chicken salad and to add to salads. I will still do a little cooking each day, but having some components already done makes sticking to the meal plan so much easier. 
  • Write down your workouts!! I use an Erin Condren Life Planner as my fitness planner. I list all my workouts using Planner Kate's workout stickers. It helps me plan out my week better and I'm never surprised if I have a longer workout one day or I need to go to the gym instead of working out at home. 
  • Write down your goals! Sit down and think about what you want to get out of this challenge and where you hope to be when it is over. How will you achieve that? What is realistic? How can you push yourself and stretch yourself? 

I also wanted to share my goals with you for the next 8 weeks. My big picture fitness goal is to be at my goal weight for my sister-in-law's wedding in May. I have currently lost about 25% of the weight I want to lose. I hope to have reached 75% of that goal by the end of the challenge, which I think is a realistic amount - 10 lbs over 8 weeks.

  1. I will reach 130 lbs, which represents 75% of my total weight loss goal.
  2. I will choose to take care of my body by following the TIU 8 Week Guide for each meal during the next 8 weeks.
  3. I will take time to journal and visualize my goals each day.
  4. I will do 100 miles of cardio by the end of the challenge.
  5. I will feel strong & confident in a body that is well taken care of.

I am hoping to do an update post each week of the challenge. If you are interested in seeing what I'm eating each day, make sure you are following me on snapchat at SamanthaPlans. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments! I'm more than happy to answer :) 

XOXO Samantha