Viya’s Health and Wellness

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.


My success with 21 Day Fix: Round 3

2/20/16 Valentine’s day party in my favorite high school dance dress

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.

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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.

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My 21 Day Fix changes

(What’s next, you ask?  Well, I decided to join Tony Horton and go 22 Minute Hard Corps…)

My success with 21 Day Fix: Round 2

1/18/16 Little black college dress

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.


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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.

Round 2 before and after results

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.

(To be continued…on to Round 3!)

Foodie Friday: Stir-Fry Bowls

Sometimes, when I need a simple meal (especially when I know I’ll be busy this week) I use this system to create a stir fry bowl.  You can find great recipes to make authentic stir fry, and I’m not claiming that this is one of them, but I am giving you a good blueprint to make quick, delicious meals that can be easily made in large quantities to feed you for days with a variety of options to keep you from getting bored.  You can be as creative or as mundane as you want, and it can be as simple as what is in your fridge and pantry or as elaborate as purchasing several different finishing oils and exotic vegetables from the grocery store.   Continue reading “Foodie Friday: Stir-Fry Bowls”

The Madness of March

March is upon us!  Spring is ALMOST here!  I LOVE being outside and being more active when the weather warms up.  It’s like awakening from a state of sleep for me, and I’m finally ready to shed off winter and enjoy what spring has to offer.  With that in mind, I wanted to share two Facebook Challenge Groups I’m going to be starting on MARCH 15 to energize and encourage others who want to use the spring to “spring into good health.”


21 Day Fix Challenge Group

     This is the program that I have been doing consistently since December 20th, 2015.  Though I purchased it in the summer of last year, I was not consistent with it until after Christmas, when I looked at my holiday photos and held my holiday belly and realized I had had enough.  I was tired of feeling unhealthy, unhappy, and unattractive.  Most of all, I was tired of feeling out of control of my eating habits.  People can be beautiful and confident at any size-I strongly believe that- however how you FEEL on the inside is what matters and I needed to change my lifestyle to change how I FELT.  The weight loss for me was a bonus side effect of getting healthy.  That’s what this program is.  Simple tools for getting healthy.  Portion control containers + clean eating + 30 minute exercise + support= the best you possible!

      The challenge group I’m setting up through Facebook will add the support, motivation and accountability aspect of the program into place.  You can eat from your kitchen, practice at home, and check in with others trying to get healthy and lose weight from the comfort of your computer.  This was the key piece for me.  With two little kids and my choir schedule, I don’t have time for the gym, and I prefer to exercise at home.  I am NOT good however at staying on track without someone to vent to and someone to encourage me.  If you need that too, send me your contact information here or find me on Facebook through the link on the side of the blog and I’ll get you started in the group.  Once you purchase the program on my Beachbody website, I’ll be your coach for life and help you through any of the programs to get you as fit as you’re willing to get.


March Madness Fitness Challenge Group

     This challenge group is my FREE March fitness group, based on the basketball competition that has enthralled millions all over the U.S.  Technically, you don’t have to be a fan of basketball to play, but I’m sure it will make it more enjoyable.  Here are the rules to the game:

  1. Pick one team at beginning of challenge. If that team loses, you are allowed to pick another team to keep up with the fitness, however you will be ineligible for the grand prize.
  2. Each sports team is designated a certain fitness routine and recommended reps. As your team plays, do the fitness reps for your team and the team they are playing that evening.  You may choose to do the recommended reps or challenge yourself to do one rep for each goal scored in the game.
  3. Post pictures, videos or comments (each one gives you a participation point) about the game on the Facebook group to gain eligibility to win the participation prizes.
  4. You can do more fitness reps for other games outside of your team choice for participation points (i.e. the more games you watch/do workouts for the more points towards the participation prizes).
  5. The challenge group is FREE, however if you do decide to place an order for Shakeology before or during the challenge then you will be eligible to win the bigger prizes.
  6. The person with the most participation points will win a free custom Beachbody t-shirt.  The person who ordered Shakeology with the most participation points will win a free custom Beachbody t-shirt and other Beachbody swag.  If a person who ordered Shakeology chooses a team at the beginning and that team wins March Madness then they will win the grand prize, a free custom t-shirt and a free basic Beachbody program of their choice!


Again, send me your contact information via this blog or on Facebook and I’ll set you up in the Facebook group.  Both begin on March 15th and you are welcome to join both!  Start building your summer body this spring and regain your health with some fun programs together with fun people!

Healthy Brunch at Home

“Healthy brunch?”  You may say, “Is there such a thing?”  Why, yes, there is.  As much as I love a bottomless mimosa brunch at those swanky D.C. eateries I enjoy, my wallet-and my waistline- can’t afford such a thing every weekend.  So, sometimes I have to get creative and make some gourmet looking yet tasty breakfasts at home.  Here are some brunch ideas (all 21 Day Fix approved) that are easy to make on those weekend mornings you just feel like staying in. Continue reading “Healthy Brunch at Home”

Tex Mex Casserole (21 Day Fix approved)

Being a Texan and living far away from the border means that I don’t get all the Tex Mex food that I love.  Don’t get me wrong- there are many good places that can be found, but the searching process is much more intricate.  Also being half-Mexican, I am lucky in that I gained some wonderfully authentic Mexican recipes from my late abuela.  However, sometimes I’m in the mood for some quick and Tex Mex like tacos, enchiladas, or fajitas.  This casserole is a little bit of everything and is healthy to boot!   Continue reading “Tex Mex Casserole (21 Day Fix approved)”

Road trip to health

We’ve all heard the cliché, “Patience is a virtue,” but when it comes to reaching a goal, all I want to do is get there NOW.  In an instantly gratified society I’m tempted to reach for the new “best new product” or “quick fix” when it comes to weight loss.  I spent years indulging myself and ignoring the advice of my body, why should I spend time and effort to fix the problem when I can just take care of it with the latest fad?  What is the catch?  The catch is: you won’t learn your lesson with a quick fix and the cycle will continue.

True, lasting change comes from growth.  I’ve spent years knowing what is good for me.  I knew the foods I should eat and why.  I knew I should eat them in smaller portions.  I knew I should be getting exercise on a daily basis and get a routine going.  I knew I needed to reign in my stomach and my wallet because what I was doing was not good for me.  Knowing and doing are two very different things.  Sometimes I would do.  I’d eat right some of the time and exercise a little bit.  I’d start a program and like it until something distracted me, or I got sick/injured, or it was someone’s birthday and I HAD to eat a piece of cake…and that brownie…and that latte the next morning…and the week after that.  (You see where this leads.)  I could have used a pill or a crash diet or surgery-some people have great results with those things- however my understanding from the people with whom I’ve spoken use those things to avoid the change, skipping the growth.  The people I know who have had the most success are the people who start small, one step at a time, until that one action becomes a habit, and those habits link together to form a routine, and whose routines continue to expand until they create the fabric of their lifestyle.  These are a few of the nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned and am trying to implement into my own life and daily choices:

  1.  Create a road map to your goal.  When you’re taking a trip, you don’t just click your heels and go from Maryland to California.  You look at a map, figure out which route your going to take, pick the cities you’re going to stop in, and plan how long it is going to take to get there.  For example, don’t just say, “I’m going to lose 60 pounds.”  Say, I’m going to lose 60 pounds by this date next year.  That gives me 2 months to lose each 10 lbs, so I plan to be x weight by one month,  x weight by two months, etc.
  2. Pick the best mode of transportation.  Everyone has a different preference when it comes to, well, everything.  Eating well and exercising is no exception.  I am not a runner.  I want to like it, but it is just not my thing.  (One day I WILL complete a 5k, but that is a different mountain I need to climb.)  I like zumba, I LOVE yoga (when I can afford to go to a studio), and I love my Beachbody workouts (like the 21 Day Fix) from the convenience of my home. Find what works for you and do it.  Which way will get you to your destination the best?  Would you rather take a scenic drive or a nonstop flight?  Which one can you see yourself sticking with for the duration of the journey?
  3. Find people who will travel with you.  One of the reasons I am doing so well right now on my fitness journey is because my Beachbody coach and support group is amazing.  Having the right amount of accountability-and let’s be honest, someone to bitch to every once in awhile- can be the difference between sticking with a program and falling off the wagon.  Sometimes I’ve been too scared to share my goals and struggles in the past because of how I thought people would perceive me.  Lately I’ve realized that we need to share, because so many people out there are going through the same things and need to know that they are not alone.  Sometimes we need people to engage on our trip instead of just sleeping beside us in the car the whole way.
  4. Stop and appreciate the surroundings every once in awhile.  There are some people who like to go nonstop from point A to point B with tunnel vision on and are disciplined enough to stay focused the whole time.  I am not that person.  I love spontaneity, hate routines, and get bored with monotony.  Though planes get me places faster, I love car trips.  I love seeing the landscape change and getting to intimately know the road I’m traveling.  On my weight loss journey, I’ve been keeping a list of the positive changes I see daily to remind myself that progress is being made-even when I can’t tell from a mirror or a scale.  Those minor victories may be stops on the way to my destination, but by acknowledging them, by embracing the change instead of just seeing how far I still have left to go, I learn to keep moving forward so I can see how far I’ve come.

    I’m finally able to bind a side angle pose!
  5. Learn how to navigate detours.  For me this is the hardest step, but the most important.  There will always be a reason to quit-and excuse to hinder my progress.  I have a weight chart from the last couple of years that looks like a mountain range with gradual drops and steep inclines.  There was always something that got in my way and caused me to backslide.  If you’re traveling and make it a quarter of the way across country and hit a traffic jam or get a flat tire are you just going to turn around and head home?  No!  Learning how to accept the obstacle, find a way around it, and keep going is paramount.  Knowing that a detour is not a road closure means you can still get there, even if you have to do some creative problem solving to make it.


     Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination.  Though my goal right now is to lose weight, my journey to health will last me a lifetime.  With the right tools and support, I look forward to enjoying that path, leading me toward new goals I haven’t even dreamed yet.  Don’t limit yourself when you can explore new possibilities every day.



A story of excess

I love excess. I don’t want to love it, but I do. I binge watch my favorite shows on Netflix. I read my favorite books until I can’t stay awake anymore. I can’t go to the store to only get one thing- a ten minute trip to Ikea? Ha! Of course not! When I get excited about something it takes over my life for a period of time, it consumes me, until I get my fill.

This predilection also extends to food. I have spent many years trying to undo my penchant for decadence; years of bakery breads and delicious sweets, beers and butters, cakes and cordials all memorialized in the weight on my hips and beyond. Is the instant gratification worth the extra pounds and loss of energy? Logically, no. Emotionally, it depends on what is triggering me at the moment and how severe my craving.
I’ve always craved food. I’ll visualize a specific food (or even restaurant) and am not satisfied until I’ve satiated my desire. That’s why I was willing to drive 45 minutes away and spend big bucks on some Belgian waffles or drive around in circles looking for non existent parking to get a falafel- I have always felt like a slave to my cravings.

I finally decided that enough was enough and jumped into the 21 Day Fix program. I waited until after the holidays so that I could have a better chance of success, away from food temptations, to begin. What I like best about the program is that it is has great tools to combat excess. The containers are obviously tools for portion control, to teach moderation. The exercises also are concise but challenging, which has helped me stick with it. I’ve done exercise programs before, but I usually start them and overload myself at the beginning instead of slowly working up to heavier weights or more endurance, pushing myself past my limit, usually because I think I’m in better shape than I am, but also because I am an expert at consuming myself in excess.
So far with two rounds of the 21 Day Fix program I have done very well managing my cravings and curbing my excess. When I fill a yellow container with pasta it may seem like too little at first, but after eating it covered with veggies and proteins I realize that I’m actually full; all those times I formerly would grab a second helping because I loved the taste were just superfluous.

That doesn’t mean I have gotten rid of all my cravings though. The second week I dreamt of dinner rolls. In that dream I was throwing away my husband’s rolls because I told him they weren’t allowed at home. He was not happy in that dream, and a little chagrined when I told him the next day as well. That week I allowed myself one cheat meal, and although the meal itself fit into my portion allowance, I allowed myself one restaurant roll. It was so delicious and even more so because it was a special treat.
I have had a few special treats while on this program, but because I consciously make decisions about what and when I eat, allowing myself healthy treats weekly and an unhealthy treat occasionally, it really helps to mitigate my cravings. I now tell myself, “Yes, I really want that, but I’ve had my cheat meal this week. How about next week I have that for lunch.” Sometimes that next week the craving is gone and I don’t need it, or other times I wake up every morning counting down the days until that meal. Usually in that case I try to visualize something else or eat something healthy with that same taste profile, like when I craved a big restaurant burger but made lean bison burgers at home instead. I had to choose between a bun and sweet potato fries, but once they were eaten I didn’t miss the bun.

Shakeology does help satisfy my sweet tooth 

Will my cravings for unhealthy food ever go away? Probably not. There are still emotional triggers and stressors that will bring them back. I will still be around the food that can cause me to spiral into a twenty pound indulgence binge, but now more than ever I feel like I have practiced the art of moderation and gained a little more balance into my excessive life.