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:


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.


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.


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.


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!


Product Review: Jawbone UP24

Remember that New Year’s resolution you made a couple months ago?  How’s that going?  If you are looking for some motivation to get back on track, I would highly recommend a fitness tracker.  With so many options on the market, there really is something for everyone.  But, with the abundance of choices, it can be totally overwhelming to decide which one to get.  You could spend hours researching the articles online that provide comparisons on every single feature; ultimately, it comes down to what is most important to you.  After a lot of research, I decided on the Jawbone UP24 and I have loved it!  Here’s what I was looking for in a fitness tracker and how this band matches up…


Looks Good – If I was going to wear something 24/7, it had to be something I would want to wear.  I chose the Jawbone UP24 because it was one of the sleekest options, with a thin band and simple design.  There are plenty of options that are a bit more fashionable, but I wasn’t really looking for something that would stand out.  I wanted neutral and understated, so I chose the black (Onyx) color. I only wish they would offer an even more neutral light gray option.

Feels Good – In terms of comfort, the band fits perfectly and I barely notice it anymore. I used the measurement chart on their website and got a medium (my husband’s large fits him well) – it does stretch slightly over time, so keep that in mind.  It’s easy to take on and off when you need to, which I really only do when I shower (it is splash resistant, but I’d rather not risk it).  Wearing it at night while I sleep hasn’t bothered me a bit.  My only two annoyances are: it can be irritating to type on a laptop -my husband actually takes his off at his desk- and it can get caught up in sweaters or jackets as I’m putting them on.  This tracker does not monitor heart rate – while that does improve accuracy, I was never going to wear a band around my chest every day.

Easy to Use – From the time I opened the package to get this set up, this tracker has been effortless.  I simply downloaded the free app, my band synced via Bluetooth and it was ready to go.  The app is easy to navigate and intuitive.  All of the information I want to know is in one place and the goals & reminders are easy to set up.  Plus, the homepage acts kind of like a newsfeed, showing you what your friends are up to and how you & they are meeting set goals. The band itself has a button on it that you press to go into sleep mode or to turn off the alarm – it’s super simple and you don’t need to open the app to perform those commands.

Today Goal Summary

Syncs Automatically – This tracker connects via Bluetooth to the app on your phone.  No need to remember to plug it in at the end of each day or connect to your computer.  I know where I am at throughout the day just by opening the app on my phone or through the notifications I’ve chosen for it to send.  The app also ties in with MyFitnessPal to track your calories and MapMyFitness to track your exercise.  I’m not really a calorie-counter (read why here), but I do like to keep a food diary for personal accountability, so it’s been helpful to see how I am balancing food intake & movement.

Battery Life – One of the reasons I chose the Jawbone UP24 is its battery life.  It lasts a solid 7 days and notifies you when you have a day left to charge.  Plus, it only takes about 30 minutes to fully charge again.  It comes with a connector that I plug in directly to my iPhone USB charger adaptor, so I didn’t have to purchase anything additional.  One TV-show or morning commute worth of charging and you’re good to go for the week – I love it!

Sleep Monitor/Alarm – Does anyone else hate their alarm clock?  Okay, I knew I wasn’t the only one. This tracks your sleep and will wake you up at the most ideal time in the morning.  I simply set the alarm for the time I must wake up by and within 30 minutes of that time, if I transition into light sleep, it will begin vibrating to wake me up gently.  This has been magical for me as I no longer have that panicked alarm wake up anymore.  It feels natural to wake up.  I was also curious to see how many hours and the quality of sleep I was really getting each night.  This tracker has been great for keeping me on a consistent bedtime schedule and making sure I meet my 8 hours per night goal – it reminds you when you should get ready for bed each night. Then, each morning, I can see how long it took me to fall asleep, how much deep sleep I got, how many times I woke up, etc. – it’s been enlightening.

Sleep Tracking

Cost – There can be quite a range of price for fitness trackers.  Honestly, I really wasn’t looking to spend over $100 on one of these. On Amazon, this one cost $99 and if you find it on sale at Best Buy, you can get it even cheaper.  I think it’s been a great value and have no regrets.

Motivating – Ultimately, the whole reason I wanted one of these was to keep myself motivated and accountable to move more, sleep consistently and eat healthier.  And, honestly, it really has helped with each of those.  The buzz every 30 minutes of non-movement reminds me to get up from my desk and keep moving throughout the day.  My competitive nature makes me want to take the stairs, park further away, and go on more walks to get more steps in.  Not only can I see how I compare with the friends I am connected to, but I can see how I am meeting my goals each day – that keeps me far more accountable than some overarching resolution.  Whether or not the step count is exactly right, I really am moving more each day and that’s a win for improving my health.

Daily Steps

Have you been considering a fitness tracker?  What features are most important to you?


I am currently sitting in a coffee shop on this cold, rainy day, drinking an almond milk latte and writing in the middle of the afternoon.  I am thankful for days like this… for days to relax, to do what I love and for being myself again.  I finally obeyed doctor’s orders and left my job;  I have a few more days off before I start a new adventure on Monday!  These two weeks have been wonderful; I have been tackling house projects, reading, traveling & finally getting a chance to completely unwind.

I’m hopeful for 2015.  Even though it’s only one month into the year, I’m keeping up with my goals and excited for what is to come.  I am loving how my new Jawbone Up24 is holding me accountable… I have kept a daily food diary since Jan 2 and I am taking my pup for a walk or run nearly every day.  In just the past week, I’ve lost 5 pounds – I’m sure the drop in stress levels helped quite a bit.  I’m also feeling the improvement in my health.  I’ve been on my new health protocol to bring balance to my hormones, vitamin D, iron & electrolyte levels for 4 months and really noticing how my body is healing itself.

During my free time, I’m hoping to write a few more blogs to share over the next couple of months.  While I have some topics in mind, I want to know what you want to hear about.  Help me out…

A Health Challenge: My Goals

Auld Lang SyneWe are almost halfway through January and I wanted to check in… how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?   I’ll be honest, I’ve failed already.  But, I’m not giving up quite yet!  

I recently organized a health challenge for my office and have also decided to participate.  The challenge runs 12 weeks and started yesterday.  The competition is based off of body fat percentage loss since that is a good indicator of both fitness and health and more accurate than BMI.  Plus, you can see your percentage loss, weight loss and inches loss at the end, which is so encouraging.  Y’all, my current body fat percentage puts me in the “overweight” range… I have got to get back in that healthy range! I’ve known for awhile what I should be eating and doing to get my body healthy, I just haven’t had the self control to do it. As I sat down last night to think through my goals and make a plan, I knew that many of you also have some health resolutions this year and might want to see what I’m doing.  If you haven’t made a resolution yet – it’s not too late!  Here are the five things I am focusing on for this challenge, why they are important and some simple action steps to follow if you are interested in adapting them yourself:

  1. Increase Nutrients – With all the packaged and processed foods in our restaurants and grocery stores, we are no longer getting the nutrients our bodies are starved for.  We have essentially become malnourished as a culture.  The blog 100 Days of Real Food has some great meal plans and recipes to avoid processed food.  I will be focusing on eating real food with real health value to my body.  I will aim for 5+ servings of vegetables per day and a high protein, high fat diet to keep me full and give my body energy instead of relying on cheap carbs to do so.  Basically, I’ll just be eating lots of freshorganic produce and protein.
  2. Eat Clean – It is important to eliminate the toxins in our environment and foods that are causing harm to our bodies.  In order for the nutrients we eat to work effectively to help our body, we need to make sure we are not poisoning it at the same time.  I always look for these on food labels when grocery shopping or on a restaurant menu:
    Pesticide-Free (Produce)
    Cage-Free (Eggs)
    Free-Range (Chicken)
    Grass-Fed (Beef)
    Wild-Caught (Fish)
  3. Eliminate Inflammatory Foods – While losing weight/inches/fat would be great, my main goal is health.  I want to get my hormones balanced, be pain-free and increase my immune function.  My adrenal levels are currently way high, which is inhibiting all of those things and causing me to gain weight.  Eek! The only way to fix it is to change my diet: I will be avoiding grains & cheap carbs, soy (as always!), sugar (except for a couple of special occasions & some dark chocolate here and there) and vegetable oil (I use coconut oil instead… and no, it doesn’t taste like coconut).
  4. Drink More Water – A couple of months ago, I read the book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water and learned so much about how dehydrated I am (I plan to write a review about the book soon!).  Drinking lots of water has tons of benefits, including losing weight & detoxifying the body.  Per the book’s recommendation, my goal will be to drink at least 64 oz of water per day, plus an extra 16 oz for any coffee or tea I drink since those beverages work to dehydrate us.  Also, less alcohol… red wine is healthy, right?
  5. Get Moving – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate exercising.  I can commit to eating well all day, but commitments to exercise always fail.  Recently, I watched an interesting documentary about exercise and I really want to put the routine into practice.  It will only take 3 minutes a week… surely I can.  I’m going skiing soon and my trip to Europe this Spring will entail lots of walking, so I need to be in shape. I woke up this morning and worked out for the first time in years, so I’m off to a great start. Please, ask me next time you see me and hold me accountable!

Writing those out makes it seem a little less daunting than it did yesterday.  Instead of focusing on what I can’t have, I’m going to focus on all the yummy foods that I can eat…. here’s to bacon, avocados, raw cheese, BBQ, sushi, colorful salads, nuts, fresh juice, sweet potato fries, fried okra, dark chocolate, and (in case you forgot) bacon.  Cheers!  *Water glasses clink*

Who else wants to join me?  What are your goals?

Tips for Staying Fit During Thanksgiving

With a holiday so centered around a tempting buffet of food, lazy days watching football and pies galore, it can be hard to not feeling like the stuffed turkey after Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips on how to stay fit and healthy during your Thanksgiving holiday:

Eat Breakfast: We tend to save up our appetite for a big meal, but you’ll end up overeating if you do.

Chew Slowly: Focus on your loved ones and enjoy the dinner table conversation. Give your body time to process how much you’re eating so you don’t eat too much.

Drink Water: Our bodies often misinterpret being thirsty as being hungry; staying hydrated will help you eat appropriately-sized portions.  And, remember, that all those liquid calories in alcohol can really sneak up on you too.

Exercise: Take your family to the Turkey Trot for a fun fitness outing, shop til you drop during Black Friday sales, or, if you’re traveling, try these easy exercises you can do in the car or an airplane.


Buy the Best: Turkey can be an incredibly healthy part of the Thanksgiving spread.  Make sure to choose pasture-raised, organic turkey to feed to your family so that you can avoid the contamination risks and toxicity that are in conventional meat.

Choose Wisely: Remember, Fats Don’t Make You Fat, Carbs Do!  Load up your plate with turkey and veggies and check out these delicious options for healthy side dishes:

Don’t Skip Dessert: It’s okay to splurge a little.  If you’re like me, trying to stop eating any dessert is likely to make me abandon my diet altogether. Limit yourself to one piece of pie and try this yummy, healthy version of whipped cream instead.

Transform Your Leftovers: The benefits of bone broth are astounding, so make a hearty turkey and vegetable soup that will last all weekend.

Remember the Primary Ingredient: Gratitude! If your Fall has been anything like mine, it is likely that stress has taken its toll on your body; and if not already, the upcoming holidays sure might.  Gratitude has been proven to have great health benefits so cherish the time with your family and friends, relax, and remember all that you have to be thankful for this holiday season.  As I look forward to Thanksgiving next week, I am reminded of all that I have to be thankful for, especially for my health.  I am so grateful for all that I have learned and for the incredible healing, especially with the chronic pain I used to suffer from, that I have experienced this year.

What are you thankful for this year?