Beachbody LIIFT 4 Challenge Review

In 2018, I had a goal to lose 18 pounds. It matched the year well, but also with the amount of weight I gained during pregnancy.  While I was nearly back to pre-pregnancy weight almost immediately after delivering my 9.5 lb daughter, I gained it all back with breastfeeding.  I’d always heard from people that you should lose weight while breastfeeding from all the extra calories you burn- it’s not true for everyone!  This article does a great job explaining why if you fall into that group.

I was ravenous while breastfeeding, so it was hard to keep from eating. Even when I did practice self control with portion size or trying to cut carbs, my milk supply would tank so I couldn’t continue. When I weaned, I started trying to eat healthier to lose some weight, but my sugar cravings were huge. I would snack with my toddler and I still felt so hungry that it was difficult to portion-control. I needed a big change and when a friend shared with me about her results from Beachbody, I was ready to try it.

I joined an 8-week challenge and absolutely loved it, so I thought I would share with those of you who need something to get you motivated. Here’s what I loved:

liift4Exercise

Going to a gym or group workouts are not my thing. It doesn’t fit well within my schedule and I don’t feel comfortable. I loved the access to Beachbody on Demand- doing the workouts any time I want from home. For this 8-week challenge, I did the LIIFT 4 program. It is 30-40 minutes 4 times per week, which felt so do-able. The routines were HARD, but every exercise had a modification option too.

I discovered that I really like the mix of weight lifting and cardio and that it works really well for my body. I improved significantly in strength- starting out with 5lbs as my heavy weights and ending up with 15lbs. There is a weight tracker so you can track the weight you use on each move and see how you improve.  I feel so much stronger and have more stamina and better balance. I could barely do a couple of modified push ups at the beginning, and now I can do 30+.

The other thing I liked about this program is that every day is different. Weeks do not repeat, so it keeps things interesting.  Typically, one day would focus on chest/triceps, one on legs, one on shoulders and one on back/biceps, always ending with a couple core exercises. I saw inches lost in each area and toning all over, but especially in my waist (6 inches lost).

Since doing this LIIFT 4 Challenge, I did the 21 Day Fix work outs during December. They were okay but I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much. I love that I have the flexibility to try out different styles and trainers, but I’ll be going back to LIIFT 4 soon.

Nutrition

Weight loss is mostly what you eat. I knew this would be my greatest challenge, but I was motivated to do it right. The program I did was part of the 21 Day Fix meal plan. You get containers mailed to you and based on your weight, you know how many containers of each food group you can eat that day: veggies, protein, fruit, carbs, nuts/seeds, oil.  Essentially, the focus is on veggies and protein.

I liked this model because it gave me some reasonable guidelines to follow. I never actually measured using the containers, but generally eye-balled the amounts and tracked how much I ate each day.  I was extremely strict about following the plan, BUT I did not follow it exactly when it came to healthy fats and fruit. I felt the program allowed more fruit than I really needed (3 servings), so I never ate that much. I also feel that it doesn’t allow for enough healthy fat. I didn’t hesitate to cook with coconut or avocado oil or to eat avocado or drink butter coffee or use as much Primal Kitchen dressing on my salads as I wanted (I didn’t go crazy like eating a stick of butter). Those healthy fats help us feel fuller longer and help us lose fat.

The other thing I like about the meal plan is that it allows for a couple of cheats. 1- three days a week, you can trade a carb container for a glass of red wine. I didn’t do it often, but it was nice to have the option. 2- you get one cheat meal each week, which I usually reserved for football-watching parties on Saturdays or date night. I would drink and eat what I wanted without worrying about it and always make sure I exercised the next day. Having this cheat meal to look forward to was helpful for me to stay motivated.

Ultimately, following the meal plan was most important to getting results- many people in the challenge group admitted to cheating multiple times per week and their lack of results definitely showed it.

The other part of this program is Shakeology. I was most hesitant about this because I am not a shake person. I am a big fan of “real food” and not using meal replacements. However, I looked into the ingredients in Shakeology and was impressed. It includes protein and dense nutrients, with only 7 grams of sugar, and is whole-foods based.  The nutrients include super-fruit antioxidants (to combat free radicals), adaptogens (to combat stress), a blend of super-greens, and pre- and pro-biotics and enzymes to aid digestion.

Beachbody makes the following benefit claims about Shakeology, and from personal experience, I would agree these are definitely true:

  • Lose weight
  • Reduce junk food cravings – to me, this was the most important one and it is what kept me drinking it daily. I simply don’t crave dessert or sugar after drinking it.
  • Provide healthy energy
  • Support your digestion and regularity.

I personally use the Vegan Vanilla Shakeology (I avoid dairy as I’m not very tolerant to it) and like that it is flexible to drink simply with unsweetened coconut milk and ice, but also to mix with berries and/or a half banana for a smoothie.  I add collagen peptides and spirulina powder as well for an extra nutrient punch. I use it as a snack replacement mid afternoon when hunger or cravings kick in.

Motivation

I think we all know- it helps to have a friend hold you accountable. I had my friend as my “coach” personally encouraging me, but also was part of a Facebook group with everyone participating. There was a prize at the end for earning points throughout- points for posting pictures of the shakes, sweaty selfies after exercising and for checking in each Monday with measurements and other results.  It was encouraging to see others posting and know I wasn’t alone.

Results

At the end of the 8 weeks, I had lost 12 pounds and 20.5 inches. The challenge ended just after Thanksgiving.  Through December, I continued to focus on protein and veggies, resisting sugar but indulging when I really wanted to, and kept up a 4-day per week exercise routine. I lost an additional 5 pounds after the challenge, narrowly missing my goal.  While I gained back a few lbs from Christmas and New Year’s champagne + dessert, I quickly lost those and more during a 10-Day Sugar Detox I did starting Jan 2nd. Since October 1 when I started with the Beachbody programs, I’ve lost 20 pounds!!

I’m motivated to continue towards more weight loss and toning this year, so I’ll be starting another challenge later this month. If you are interested in joining me to start off reaching your goals this new year, let me know!

2018 Recap

Family ChristmasIt’s almost 2019! My daughter is almost 2… so hard to believe! This year has been spent finding balance with being a mom and wife, working, caring for others and refocusing on my own health. I recently made some big changes to my diet and fitness routine and lost quite a few pounds and inches… I’ll be sharing more about that soon!

I like to do a recap each year with a list of all my posts to share with anyone who missed them.  Here it goes:

The most popular reader post this year was: What the Bible Says About Essential Oils

Recipes:

Product Reviews:

  • Greenlife Ceramic Cookware – ditch your toxic non-stick cookware!
  • Monat – loving this safe shampoo, conditioner and styling products
  • OraWellness – the best, most effective oral care that’s healed cavities!

For New/Expecting Parents:

Health Stories: Navigating health stuff can be challenging, and dealing with chronic or unknown/undiagnosed illness feels isolating.  Last year, I started sharing health stories, which I hope make you feel encouraged and less alone. I would love to continue this series next year, so please let me know if you have a story to share (anonymously or not).

Wishing you a healthy & hopeful new year!  May the Lord bless you abundantly!

*Photograph by Jessica Doffing Photography

Back at it…

Wow… somehow it’s been almost 4 months since I’ve blogged.  It’s hard to find time for hobbies lately that aren’t just zoning out after bedtime with a glass of wine and Netflix.  I do have several posts scheduled you can look forward to, but thought I would do a quick catch up on life lately.

Last Fall, the stress of trying to work full time with a baby caught up to me.  I was working from home two days a week, but it was hard. I wanted more time to play with her beyond evenings and the weekend.  Honestly, I’m not someone who loves to work or enjoys that time away from home… I don’t say that to guilt those that do, but I say it because I’ve felt out-of-the-norm as a working mom who doesn’t feel that way.   I’m thankful that my work supported my need for flexibility and allowed me to go part-time. I’m still in the office three days a week, but my days at home can be focused on my girl as well as giving me time to run errands, get groceries, meal prep, exercise and clean house.  And I’m actually able to enjoy my weekends with my family.  I feel grateful for a schedule that gives a whole lot more balance to my life and that’s allowed me to focus on my health again, as well as precious time my girl.

In other news… this Spring, I weaned my daughter.  I shared about our many struggles with breastfeeding in the early months, but honestly it was never easy. We were never on a schedule, never able to wean from the nipple shield, pumping at work and after bedtime was annoying and I always struggled with / stressed about supply.  Plus, breastfeeding seemed to have the opposite effect on me that it does on others and made me gain 20 pounds; I couldn’t cut down on calories because it would affect my supply and I was ready to lose the extra weight.

While I never “loved” nursing like some women do, I was so thankful for the ability to provide a strong foundation for my daughter’s health, giving her the best nutrition possible.  I did love the bond it created.

When she reached her first birthday, I was ready to start the process. She got sick with RSV right after that and I didn’t want to stop then as her immune system recovered.  I hoped it would happen naturally, but of course it didn’t.  It was really tough on me emotionally (ok, likely hormones had a lot to do with it) to intentionally stop because I had worked SO hard to make it happen in the first place. Eventually, I convinced myself that I needed to do it for me and started decreasing one session per day each week.  We just kept busy or got out of the house to distract her.  We couldn’t do a bottle replacement because she wouldn’t drink milk.  We tried all kinds of milk, but she didn’t like any of it.  She still eats yogurt every morning and loves cheese at mealtime. She loves her sippy cup of water and drinks more than any kid I know. The process took about 6 weeks, but she handled it really well and I was thankful it was easy in that way. IMG_7547

These days, I’m chasing a 17-month old toddler.  She’s been walking since 10 months, so she’s runner and climber now, constantly on the move.  She’s outgoing and says + waves hi and bye to everyone we see at the grocery store. She loves her dog “Belle-y” and feeds her as many snacks (aka “nacks”) as she can sneak. If you ask her what sound an animal makes that she doesn’t know, she’ll scrunch her nose and sniff like a bunny because that’s her favorite. She loves to dance and clap her hands and stomp her feet with joy.  She gives the best hugs with a pat on the back and always blows kisses when saying bye-bye. Her favorite foods are blueberries, bananas, applesauce, yogurt, chicken, cheese, ice cream and whatever we’re eating. And she’s absolutely loving the pool this Summer, already swimming like a champ.  These are truly the best days.

 

 

A 2017 Recap

2017 was quite a year… my life completely changed upon welcoming our baby girl.  I am loving being a mama!  I haven’t had as much time for blogging this year, but surprisingly I’ve gotten more traffic than ever to this site this year.  Thanks for sticking with me and reading!  In case you missed any posts over the past year, I’ll do a quick highlight here…

The year started out waiting anxiously for my daughter to arrive, giving birth, navigating breastfeeding and life with a newborn, and figuring out how to survive be a mom.  Most of my blog posts this year were focused on parenthood, as it has been quite all-consuming lately.

I’ve only shared two recipes this year, though you see more on my Instagram stories if you follow me. One was for an easy household hack and another for the quickest, yummiest weeknight dinner – those save me as a working mom!

Lastly, I started a series on sharing various health stories.  I’ve shared a lot of my own, but I am so encouraged by hearing how others find hope in tough diagnoses or lack there-of.  I hope you have been encouraged also!  I would love to continue this series next year, so please let me know if you have a story to share (anonymously or not – I am more than happy to plug your personal blog!).

Wising you a healthy & hopeful new year!  May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Christine

1B9A4174

*Photograph by Jessica Doffing Photography

 

Life Lately…

Apologies for being quite absent lately…. it’s been 3 months since my last post- eek!  I have a few drafts in the works, so you will see some more blog posts in the coming weeks.   Is there anything specific you want to hear about? Let me know!!

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week!  We sure have lots to be thankful for this year.  Our baby girl is already 10 months old and is such a happy, fun baby.  She’s adventurous and always on the move… I think she may start walking soon.  I’m so very thankful that we’ve been blessed to continue with exclusive breastfeeding still even with all our troubles in the beginning.  She also loves food, which I can thank the Baby Led Weaning process for- I’ll be sharing all about introducing her to solids here soon.

I’m also thankful to work for a company & manager that have been supportive of me as a working mom and allowed me to go part-time.  It’s allowed for much better balance in my life and I am blessed to be able to spend more time with my daughter.  Just a few months ago, I was in absolute survival-mode; now I can breathe again.  On Mondays, I try to prep our breakfast & lunch meals for the work week, so I’ll soon be sharing my favorite recipes like overnight oats and paleo broccoli salad, as well as some go-to weeknight meals. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram @chrissysu and #healthyandhopeful – I am always showing my #mealprepmonday routine and recipes on my Story.

I hope y’all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  God Bless!

A Recap of 2016

Wow… is it really almost 2017!?!  As I look forward to the huge life change that 2017 will bring, I wanted to take some time to reflect back on 2016.  If you’ve missed any of my blogs this year, this will be the perfect opportunity to catch up!

2016 was certainly a roller-coaster for my health.  The year started off with me still trying to figure out what was causing my random high cortisol responses and unexplained weight gain.  Then, in May, we found out we were expecting, even though doctors had told me I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant. Pregnancy brought on constant nausea and exhaustion that kept me down and out for a few months, and then a gestational diabetes diagnosis rocked my world.

Here’s a recap of the blogs I wrote in 2016:

Travel

VeniceI’m a huge believer that vacations are super important for your overall health and well-being.  We all need to take a break and relax, and traveling to experience different foods and cultures is great way to relieve stress. The past couple of years, we have taken two trips to Europe that were incredible.  I got so many requests for advice, I just decided to write all about our itineraries and recommendations right here:

My Favorite Natural Products & Organic Grocery Deals

BruschettaHealthy Recipes

Pregnancy:

Essential Oils

Thieves Essential OilHighlighting the benefits of some of my favorite essential oils to both your overall wellness and to creating and keeping a natural home.

Happy New Year!!

2016-recap

Big News!!

Due in JanuarySo, I’ve been a little absent on this blog the past few months but am returning with some exciting news to share…

I’m pregnant!  We are expecting our baby girl in January!

We are so thankful that God has blessed us with this precious child.  Having been told by several doctors that it was unlikely I would get pregnant naturally, we were unsure what we would face when we were ready to start a family.  God had other plans and has proven his healing power yet again.  He graciously answered many years of prayers and we had faith that this would not be our struggle- that all my efforts in nutrition and supplements to balance my hormones and heal my body would make it possible. I ask for your prayers in a continued healthy pregnancy and delivery.

I’m excited to share more about my health journey as I dive into this new season of pregnancy, post-partum and motherhood!