Wednesday, August 20, 2014

PiYo home workout review!

Click here to apply to my next PiYo Challenge Group!

Several weeks ago I started a new home workout program called PiYo. I absolutely love it and have been running monthly 30-day online accountability groups with other ladies who are equally obsessed, and we're having an absolute blast! The 21 Day Fix will always be my baby, but it's fun to host groups that are a little more laid back and less strict on the nutrition front. 

What is PiYo?

PiYo is a low-impact, high intensity workout program that uses yoga and Pilates inspired moves to build lean muscle, burn fat, and increase flexibility. It's dynamic and bodyweight-based so you don't need any equipment, but it's definitely harder than it seems and will challenge you in the best possible way! PiYo is perfect if you don't have the patience or attention span for yoga, but still want the benefits of increased flexibility and all-over muscle tone. 

If you want to watch the promo video, you can click here. Be warned, it's cheesy....but you get the idea.

PiYo classes have been taught live in gyms for a while, but the at-home version was just released in June. It was created by one of my biggest motivational and fitness idols Chalene Johnson, who has a no-nonsense yet friendly and supportive approach that I love, so I was really looking forward to this release!

The kit comes with three DVD's plus a bonus workout, and includes 11 total routines that range from 20-45 minutes long and target every part of your body. I love the variety of these workouts. Some are more "yoga flow" style, some are more strength based (think squats, pushups, and lunges!), and some are this ridiculous combo of everything plus crazy breakdance style moves that push your limits and will leave you dripping in sweat! There is literally no other type of workout like this out there.

"Drench" is the longest and most challenging workout, and in 45 minutes I burn over 350 calories, the equivalent of a THREE MILE RUN without having to leave the house or pound the pavement! Oh and the endorphin afterglow of PiYo is unparalleled. You finish each workout feeling insanely blissed out and happy!

Here's a quick description of all the routines:

This workout breaks down the most important and effective moves in the program to help you perfect your form and get the best results possible.

Get your sleekest and leanest legs ever as you lengthen and strengthen your entire lower body from your glutes and hamstrings to your calves.

Use this incredibly effective workout to start chiseling away at your upper body to shape your arms, carve out your triceps, and sculpt sexy shoulders.

A traditional PiYo workout that incorporates effective dynamic conditioning, fast-paced cardio yoga-flows, and bodyweight resistance strength training to help sculpt your entire body!

This ab-centric workout hits your powerhouse from every angle. You'll build a strong core; flat, sculpted abs and obliques; and a strong, sexy back.

Twenty-five minutes is all you need of this nonstop body-carving, calorie-incinerating workout that uses no weights, no equipment, and gives you no bulk!

This endurance workout maximizes fat burning while it works every muscle in your body. It will not only leave you drenched, it will kick-start your metabolism as you scorch away the fat.

This workout uses varying tempos to keep your muscles under tension for different periods of time. This generates muscular endurance and metabolic changes that will totally transform your figure.

Focused on the glutes, this workout is designed to lift, redefine, and tighten the entire backside of your body for the perfect tight and round butt.

Plus you get two surprise workouts!

The program is designed to run for 60 days and comes with two different calendar guides that tell you which workout to do every day. One calendar is for beginners, and one is for more advanced levels. I haven't been religiously following the guides, but I've been fitting in all the workouts 3-5 times a week alongside my normal workout routine that includes running, weights circuits, HIIT circuits, and spin class. I have to say that PiYo is an AMAZING addition to my routine and really balances everything else out! I'm really injury prone, especially when I run more than a couple times a week, so I love knowing that I'm giving my body a well-deserved stretch while gaining strength at the same time.

It also comes with a nutrition guide with a comprehensive and easy to follow clean eating plan. 

Who is PiYo for?

I would say PiYo is for you if you...
  • like Pilates and yoga, but struggle with sticking to a routine
  • want to gain flexibility and stretch more, but lack the attention span or focus
  • are a complete fitness beginner
  • have knee or joint problems and want a low-impact workout that will still burn major calories
  • are a runner, swimmer, triathlete, or fitness enthusiast who wants to add some cross-training to avoid injury and improve performance

Aaaaand a fitness review post wouldn't be complete without my signature 5:30 am crazy hair, bleary eyed before-and-after selfie!

I've been doing a PiYo workout at least 3 times a week for the past six weeks, and the consistency has given me some great results! I wasn't sure what to expect because althoug PiYo is tough and will definitely get your heart rate up, it's definitely not as intense as my favorite crazy HIIT or cardio interval workouts. But my core, arms, and lower body are noticeably more defined, my upper body strength is CRAZY (hello pushups and planks), and I feel a lot more flexible and balanced overall! Oh, and my run times are decreasing, spin class feels easier, I can do twenty pushups on my toes, and I can hold a plank or mountain climbers for TWICE as long as I could before. 

I will be running 30-Day PiYo accountability groups online starting the first Monday of every month for the foreseeable future because I love sharing this program and motivating women to establish and maintain healthy habits and see the results and self confidence that I've experienced on my own journey! 

In my Challenge Groups I provide daily inspirational posts, meal plans, healthy recipes, one-on-one support, check-ins to hold you accountable, and we end up building a really encouraging and fun community of like-minded women.  I don't care what your background is or what your goals are--as long as you are willing to take a chance on making a positive change and doing something for YOU, I'd be happy to help you out and be your cheerleader, drill sergeant, life coach, friend, whoever you need me to be. The first step towards making a healthy lifestyle change is the hardest, but after that it just gets fun!

If you are interested in joining my next PiYo Challenge, you can apply here and I'll be in touch with more details!

You can also email me at Hit me up with any questions you have about PiYo or health and fitness in general! I look forward to hearing from you, and I can't wait to be your new workout buddy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

BBQ chicken chopped salad

How is it Sunday night already? Weekends always go too fast, no matter how much or how little we have on the schedule. This weekend was a much needed low-key break from the summer craziness! Ben and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, went out for our weekly froyo trip, cleaned and organized the apartment, stopped by our local wine shop for their free Sunday tasting, and finally made it to church for the first time since .....Easter?? I'm so happy I don't have to work on Sundays any more! 

Speaking of work, I'm officially down to my last two weeks at the zoo before launching out on my own. It is exciting, surreal, and starting to kind of freak me out, but I'm doing my best to enjoy this phase of life and trust that everything will work out! I know for certain that I'm headed in the right direction, I have the support of everyone who matters in my life, I truly do believe in myself, and heck--we never really know what the future will bring so why not pursue what makes you happy? 

Nothing is for certain, so don't ever settle for a life that is leaving you aching for something more. Write down what you want to ultimately achieve, do some work, and get out of that comfort zone! I'm looking forward to blogging more and focusing on my poor Etsy shop which has been languishing in neglect all summer! So many exciting projects and goals that I want to transfer from my mind into reality. 

So that's my quick life update! Let's get to the recipe!

Giant "more is more" dinner salads are apparently becoming a thing in our household. They are just so fresh and tasty, and a perfect way to take advantage of all the summer produce!

Like all my recipes these days, this dinner is fast, easy, and not really a recipe at all. Just keep adding all the produce in your fridge or anything else you think might go well with the flavors! (Blue cheese? Hard boiled egg? Leftover pulled pork?) 

Salads are like a blank canvas, and I love creating delicious works of art.

Oh, and this salad is husband approved. It's extremely hearty and you can eat a ginormous portion because it's mostly veggies! The BBQ Vinaigrette is maybe the best part.

BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

Serves 3-4


-2 heads of romaine, chopped into bite size pieces
-3 chicken breasts, diced
-Seasoning for the chicken (I used a BBQ seasoning mix plus Chipotle Mrs. Dash)
-Bacon! (As much as you want. I've been loving the uncured nitrate-free thick cut bacon at Aldi!)
-1 ear of sweet corn (you can slice off the kernels raw, if it's fresh!)
-1 can white beans (or black beans)
-1 avocado
-Red onion
-Other random veggies that you love

BBQ Vinaigrette

-1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I was going to make my own, but then got lazy and used Sweet Baby Ray's)
-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg's is the best)
-2T olive oil
-a big squirt of yellow mustard

Cook the bacon until desired level of crispiness, then set aside to drain. Leave half the bacon grease in the pan, season the chicken, and saute the chicken in the hot grease until browned and cooked through. Chop all your veggies, and then shake all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar. Assemble all salad ingredients, drizzle with vinaigrette, and enjoy with a bold red wine!

Friday, August 15, 2014

black bean and summer veggie burrito bowl

Happy Friday!

This week has thrown me way off schedule, but in a good way. Wednesday night Ben and I went to a Cubs game, and then yesterday I took the day off for a semi-impromptu girls day with my sister Ella! We had a jam-packed adventure in the city (which is turning into a habit...) including eating at three of my favorite restaurants, shopping, and walking 204398 miles.

This weekend Ben and I have absolutely no plans for the first time in as long as I can remember and I'm really looking forward to having a chance to organize my life/mind/apartment and just BREATHE! I'm coming up on my last two weeks at work, and I want to be able to enjoy and make the most of this once in a lifetime transitional phase instead of stressing out and feeling overwhelmed.

Anyway, that's what's up with me right now! Since life has been so crazy, dinners have been one of two things: going out, or super easy and fast concoctions at home. It's all about balance!

August is the best time of the year in terms of vegetables. Everything is in season, and it's hard not to go overboard at the farmer's market! The central Illinois small town girl inside of me has a pretty high standard for sweet corn, and I'm happy to say I found a great corn hook up here in the city. This black bean and summer veggie burrito bowl has it all, and is a great way to use up random veggies in the fridge!

Black Bean and Summer Veggie Burrito Bowl
Serves 4-6


-1 T olive oil
-one red onion, sliced
-2 ears of corn, cooked or raw
-2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
-red cabbage, shredded
-tomatoes, chopped
-(Insert random veggies here. More is more!)
-taco seasonings (I love Mrs. Dash chipotle seasoning)
-1 lime, juiced
-plain Greek yogurt (a large dollop per serving)

Heat the olive oil in the largest pan you have. Saute the onion for 4-5 minutes, then add beans, corn, cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, and random veggies, spices, and cook until it's all warmed up. Top with cilantro, lime juice, yogurt, guacamole, and enjoy!

This bowl would also be great with some rice, or wrapped up in a tortilla as an actual burrito. And voila, you don't even need to go to Chipotle! AND you can use the money you save to grab some ice cream or froyo for dessert. That's what I would do.

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