September is here! I’m looking forward to the autumn season: cooler weather, changing leaves, all things pumpkin and apple, scarves, harvest festivals, Oktoberfest, Halloween…. it truly is my favorite time of year. With the many outdoor activities that happen in the fall, it’s time to post my September Challenge Groups so that we can Fall into Shape this month together!
SEPTEMBER 12th: Viya’s Club Challenge Group
Do you want to try out some new exercises and recipes but aren’t committed to purchasing a program? Join me to try out the 30-day FREE trial of Beachbody’s TEAM CLUB MEMBERSHIP. That’s right, you’ll get online access to workout videos with their celebrity trainers, guides for good nutrition and great places to log workouts and meet others who are doing the same things you are.
SEPTEMBER 19th: FREE 2-Week Crockpot Meal Challenge Group
With school starting and schedules filling up, sometimes it’s hard to get meals together when activities are piling up one after another. For 2 weeks join me as I put together my favorite healthy crockpot meals for you so that you are ready to take on the colder months with delicious food that will fill you up but not pack on the pounds.
SEPTEMBER 26th: 21 DAY FIX Challenge Group
Creating new, healthy habits is much easier with a support group! Join me and my fellow challengers for 4 weeks (prep week + 21 Days) to kick those bad habits and find new ways to incorporate healthy eating and fitness into your life! Although this group is geared toward the 21 Day Fix program, you can join with ANY of the Beachbody programs for added support and accountability.
You can sign up for any of these groups by contacting me here through this blog or contacting me through my Facebook page Viya’s Health and Wellness.
Yesterday was my half-birthday. I have six more months until I leave my twenties forever and enter into a new decade of being. For some people, entering 30 is a rite of passage for which they never want to encounter; my Mom, for example, is still and forever 29. Others react with apathy while more and more people are spouting that “30 is the new 20.” Like everything in life, getting older has mixed reviews.
Growing up, I had many, many people tell me that I was mature for my age. I looked, dressed and acted older. People would joke that I was like a mom in my 40’s when I was 22. There is nothing wrong with a mom in her 40’s, but I just wanted to be 22. I don’t regret my important life decisions but do realize that by not taking care of my health and fitness when it was so easily attainable, I missed out on some of the fun. Because of that, for the past few years I have had this wish in my head that I wanted to be fit and around 120 pounds by the time I turned 30. For my height and body type that is an acceptable range in which to be. Sometime around the time my son was born or shortly before, I purchased a weight tracking scale and set the goal to 135. That was my soft goal to reach since it would take me at least 40 pounds to get down there. I’d set sweeping changes and lofty goals and for a couple weeks-or months-things would work, but once the motivation train got derailed it was off the tracks for good. Though I would be ten pounds away, I’d then rocket back up because the small, everyday lifestyle changes had not been set in place. This week I hit that soft goal and am ready to take it all the way!
Once I found the 21 Day Fix and 22 Minute Hard Corps programs, things clicked into place for me. Though I enjoy the challenge of the exercises in them, it was the food component that really solidified my weight loss. I’m still not perfect, but I love having a system in place to keep me on the wagon. When I turned 29 last year, I knew it was time to get my health on track and the pressure was getting to me. I wanted to at least feel and look my age and not feel so tired and achy. I finally reached out to my coach, started the program, became a coach and have spent this year teaching myself the discipline that I lacked in my 20’s. My energy and excitement came back in spades and I even found more ways to incorporate healthy foods and fitness into a new normal for my daily routines.
I have also spent this year learning to love my body, the marks left from having two wonderful children, the strength in my arms and thighs, etc. I’m also learning that perspective is everything. I was excited in January when my little black opera dress fit again! I used to wear it in college to fancy events and for a while I couldn’t even put it on. When I put it on yesterday, it was loose and looked better than when I wore it in college!
Seeing myself as who I am, at this age and in this moment is much more important than who I think I should be. This is a lesson I want to remember and repeat so that as I grow older I will continue to take care of my body and love myself in the stage I’m in. I’m so close to my fitness goals for the year that I’m positive I will achieve them by my birthday. I also have the tools to maintain them, the small, daily routines and tricks and support to keep up the good work. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought, tougher than I gave myself credit for and braver than I expected. I’m ready to take on my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s… But I also want to enjoy each stage I’m in to the fullest so that I can look back and have a lifetime of wonderful memories in which to pass on to the next generation.
February 15, 2016. 152.8 lbs. Day 1 of Round three. Between rounds 2 & 3 I took a week off so that I could join the beginning of a challenge group after Valentine’s day. In that short break I did ease up a little with the food, but definitely kept up the exercising and didn’t go too crazy because I didn’t want to undo all my hard work. I also did the 3 Day Refresh to detox before the party, the results of which I posted previously. I felt lighter and leaner and ready to take on this round, with the extra challenge of not letting my social activities this month rob me of my success. Last fall with the holiday season I started with good habits and ended with bad ones, but with my newfound disciplines I found myself craving less junk and feeling better when I got back on track after an indulgent meal. It’s not that I said no to everything unhealthy- I had once a week where I had a few things (like mimosas and waffles at brunch) where I ate things that were definitely not in the plan, but this time I ate them in moderation and planned when I was going to indulge and when I was going to buckle down and choose healthy, nutritious food.
This round was where I could really tell a difference with my strength. I was starting to use 10 lb weights! I was hardly modifying the poses! I made it from one pushup at a time to 21 pushups! I could do 15 burpees in a minute and kiss my knees during stretches! The compound work of the last two rounds was paying off wonderfully and I could feel it in my body. I lost 6 pounds this round and made it past a mental block; you see, I had made it to 148 lbs with exercise twice in recent memory, both times the result of hard work but also with both times being interrupted by a pregnancy. We are done having kids now, but that idea of being at 148 lbs and having something interrupt my progress was stressing me out. In the 3rd week when I weighed in at 146.8 lbs I was so happy I almost cried! I kept writing down my scale numbers thinking I had them mixed up- I was so used to recording 164 that 146 felt like an error- but considering all the clothes I had to put in the donation box, all the positive comments from people who could definitely see the changes now and seeing a new body in the mirror everyday, I knew the changes were true and mine. All my effort was paying off and I was closer every day to my goal.
(What’s next, you ask? Well, I decided to join Tony Horton and go 22 Minute Hard Corps…)
January 18, 2016. 161.4 lbs. Day 1 of Round 2. Instead of giving myself a week off I jumped straight into round 2. I mean, I was already prepping my meals and found ways to fit exercise into my schedule so why stop? Plus, I was so excited by my results that I felt I had to keep going while the motivation was there! I made some gourmet meals this time around, stuffed bell peppers, bun-less bison burgers, a big batch of caramelized onions…yum! Being on the 21 Day Fix is about eating the right foods in the right amount, not about starving yourself or eating plain food. If you’re going to make a lifestyle change, you need to find healthy recipes you want to make over and over again and create “new backups,” those easy recipes you can whip out when you don’t feel like cooking anything fancy. Baked chicken (With lemons and balsamic vinegar) and steamed veggies; poached eggs on zoodles (zucchini noodles), stir fry bowls, Mexican bowls, etc. Those have become my new backup meals.
I also started getting stronger. My 6 lb weights were feeling easy. I could do 14 burpees in a minute. I could do more pushups and my flexibility was improving. I also knew that February was around the corner, and I was motivated to wear a dress from high school that *almost* fit again for a fancy party the week after Valentine’s day. Though I had healthy cookies on week 2 and a big container of lasagna as my cheat meal on week 3, I kept up the regimen of container portions and my exercise. On days when I had time I’d throw in the extra ten minute ab workout and sometimes do double workouts- when my schedule permitted. Overall however, I did find myself more active, even if it was just shoveling snow during our crazy blizzard.
Another change this round was that I started drinking Shakeology. I got the variety pack of chocolate, vanilla and cafe latte so I could vary the flavors. My favorite way to drink it still is to blend it with blueberries and almond milk. I add other things and sometimes just shake with water and go, but to me it is nice when it reminds me of a Starbucks frappuccino. I would highly recommend checking it out and purchasing it here. Because I had been leaving a red protein container empty several times a week and all of a sudden started adding in a nutrient dense drink, I gained half a pound that week, though one my body adjusted I started losing again rather quickly. (I went from gaining half a pound in a week to losing 2 pounds in half a week- bodies are interesting that way.) My energy levels did keep increasing with the Shakeology addition, and I can tell my concentration is better on the days I drink it.
Though my results were not as dramatic this time around scale wise, I lost 5 pounds and made it into the 150 range! This was as low scale-wise as I had made it post children before bouncing back up the scale, but this time I was fitter, had a better routine, and a motivational coach and accountability group to keep my fire to succeed alive. I also decided to take the plunge and become a coach myself so others could benefit from my journey and I could use my effervescent personality to inspire others. There was no turning back now. My clothes fit better, I had lost so many inches that people were starting to notice my change and I was getting a nice endorphin release of happiness everyday. Life was changing for the better now that I was taking care of me.
As I’ve said before, weight loss has always been a struggle with me. My usual routine was to lose 10-15 lbs and then something would knock my routine, kick me back into bad habits and I’d gain it all back and then some. This happened in college, before my kids, and kept happening after. My overall trajectory was in an upward ascent, and though I didn’t like it, I was unwilling to give up my unhealthy habits, even knowing they were unhealthy. I’d wish and dream about a slender body, fitting into old clothes I kept around, but the efforts I made never transpired into a lifestyle change.
December 20, 2015
October 31, 2015
Though not my highest weight ever, these pictures of me last fall were of an unhealthy me who finally had enough. I wanted a change and didn’t like the lack of energy, the lack of activity and the feeling that I had no control over my cravings or food intake. For some people, like me, I really felt like the world would end if I didn’t indulge that need for a certain food. But after Christmas I decided that was that. I had purchased the 21 Day Fix program that summer but didn’t fully use it, so I decided to start it and reach out to my coach. I wanted 2016, my last year of being in my 20’s, to be the year I corrected my past mistakes so I could start my 30’s as a healthier, happier me.
December 28, 2015. 172.4 lbs. Day 1 of my first round. I began using the containers. Luckily I love bright colors so this was fun for me. I began tracking my meals religiously on an equally colorful meal chart. I reached out to my coach for the first time and found out she had a Facebook challenge group starting after the new year. I ate more fruit than I was used to and drank lots of tea that first week. I could only do one pushup and ten burpees, but I kept with the exercises even though I modified with my 3 pound weights. At least I was starting somewhere and doing something. I joined the accountability group and got great advice on recipes, support on the days I didn’t feel like I was going to succeed, and saw other people who wanted the same things I did.
By day 21 I had become fast friends with zucchini noodles, ground turkey and salad. I still had treats, but I thought about them carefully and balanced then around healthy meals. I bumped my weights up to 6 lbs by the end and modified less. I could do more pushups in a row-probably 8 or so. I lost 9.2 lbs and 10.25 overall inches! Though that was nice and clothes fit better, the best thing was how much more energy I felt. I’m naturally a bouncy, energetic person, but hadn’t felt like one in a while. I found myself bouncing around the house after my children and wanting to be more active with them. That was a terrific feeling. I was on fire and ready for more.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by life. There are so many things I want to do, places to go, things to learn, opportunities to explore… When I think of all the things I could do every day, and all the things I don’t do, I feel like a drop in the ocean. In the swirl of life, with kids and responsibilities and chores and bills, I can feel as insignificant as that single droplet, trying to stay afloat, yearning to distinguish myself amidst the multitude of others who live life like I do. Am I living my life to the fullest? Did I chose the right road to travel? Should my life look more like that other person’s life? Am I doing enough with my life?
Then, I think of that quotation. I have the whole spectrum of emotions to choose from at any given moment. Having suffered from depression at times in my life, I remember that feeling of utter hopelessness. I also remember the euphoria of the best times in my life, like gazing at a beautiful summer landscape from the peak of a Pennsylvanian mountain while growing life inside of me. I am a culmination of the experiences and actions of my past, and each and every day I have an entire ocean of actions in which to choose my destiny.
What does that mean for me today? It means I can take a breath and focus on today. The tide changes with each sunrise and moonrise; I too can choose to change like the ocean, with fluidity, with transparency, with frequency. Since December I’ve been changing my body with small actions, that like drops of water gathered together are starting to make an ocean of change. I’m 30 pounds lighter, healthier, happier and more fit than I have been in a long time. What changes are you going to make today? Which drop of water are you going to add to your life? You are an ocean of potential. Instead of being swept away, add each drop until you flood your being with radiance and joy.
Perseverance: continually moving forward despite obstacles trying to get in your way.
Perseverance has never been my strong suit.
Passion I have in abundance.
Optimism and enthusiasm come naturally.
Talent and tenacity are familiar friends.
But persistence and perseverance are strangers I’ve recently invited into my acquaintance.
I’m more familiar with avoidance. I put off hard decisions because I’m afraid of making the wrong one. I don’t like the initial pain of dealing with problems, and so put it off, realizing that the pain will just increase over time but not ready to deal with it right now. I don’t like the fact that something will be imperfect, but if my immense burst of energy cannot take care of it initially I move on to something quicker, something simpler. That leaves me with projects unfinished, plans unmade, phone calls and letters unsent and weight unlost. I could be good at so many things with perseverance.
Music has been the passion with which I’ve been the most persistent. Being involved in the Choral Arts Society of Washington and submerging myself in the learning of new music has been the reward of years of perseverance in the honing of my skill and practice in vocal training. I know that I can succeed and persevere if I put my mind to it, I have that fire within me, but I need the motivation to take that heat and transfer it into other areas of my life.
Since weight loss has always been a struggle, I have made a habit of avoidance that I am working to break. I have FINALLY decided to take control of what I put into my body and how I treat my body, and I am going to continue to my goals no matter what this time. Just because I’m ill or there’s a special occasion with sweets or I injure myself doesn’t mean that I will undo all the good work I’ve put into myself. I will keep putting the small stones, one after another, day by day, on each other until my wall is finally built.
Here are some other quotations about perseverance in which to inspire your own journey:
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
― Maya Angelou
“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher
“Excellence does not need you to be perfect, but to be dedicated to what you commit yourself to.”
― Wayne Chirisa
“Life is like crossing a river. If you take a huge step-aim for too bigger dreams-then the current will knock you off your feet and carry you away.
The way to do it is small steps, you will take hold of life. You will get there in the end.”
― Louis Sachar
“Add persistence to patience, you get perseverance. Multiply perseverance, you get success.”
― Manuela George-Izunwa