Anna Maria Locke

October 2015

Roasted Squash with Savory Autumn Stuffing

October 2015Anna LockeComment

Happy November!

I am so excited for Daylight Savings this year, and having more of that gorgeous golden autumn sunlight in the mornings...especially since I am renewing my commitment to early morning runs this week! It's glorious here in Chicago, with record warm temperatures in the 70's, although I'm actually ready for some cooler fall temps!

Did you do anything fun for Halloween? This was the first year in as long as I can remember that Ben and I had no plans, so we just had a super relaxed evening at home. 

We watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (ha), I baked some candy monster cookies for coffee hour at church (have leftover candy? MAKE THESE NOW), and also cooked up this delicious stuffed pumpkin recipe for a seasonally appropriate dinner!

I adapted this dish from my friend Katie's delicious stuffed squash recipe. Make sure to head over, check out her gorgeous food photography and healthy recipes, and send her some love!

I've made this two times now (once with acorn squash, this time with little pumpkins) and it is SO amazing. The stuffing makes lots of leftovers, perfect to mix with some rice or quinoa for lunches!

Fall comfort food is my fave.

Roasted Squash with Savory Autumn Stuffing

(Serves 4 with extra stuffing)

Ingredients

- 2 small squash (pumpkin, acorn) or 1 large squash (spaghetti, butternut)
- 1 package sweet Italian turkey sausage
- 1 large onion, red or yellow
- 1 apple
- 2 carrots
- 4 stalks celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp rosemary
- salt and pepper
- feta
- dried cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Carefully carve off squash stems.
Slice squashes in half, scoop out seeds (don't throw them away--roast the seeds too!), place in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 45-60 minutes, until you can pierce the squash with a fork and it feels soft.

In the meantime, chop up all your stuffing ingredients!

Heat a large skillet with a T of olive oil and saute the onion, carrots, celery, garlic for 5-10 minutes, or until softened. Season with rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste.

Remove the turkey sausage from its casings and add to the skillet with the veggie mix. Break up the sausage as it cooks.

When the squash is done baking, fill each half with a scoop of stuffing, top with feta and cranberries, and enjoy!

xo Anna

Each serving (1/2 small squash with about 1/5 of stuffing mixture) = 2 green, 1 red, 1 tsp on the 21 Day Fix.

 

Girls trip to Cabo (travel recap)!

October 2015Anna LockeComment

Do you ever think "I wish I had a job that allowed me more time to travel?"

I used to have that thought in the back of my mind. Well, I'm learning that I have to be careful what I wish for because this year has been chock full of adventures and trips!

Last Friday I leapt out of bed at 4am to escape cold, dark, chilly Chicago for the sunshine and turquoise waters of Los Cabos, Mexico for a long weekend. It was an incredible trip and I'm excited to share some of my pictures and stories!

My friend Kathleen and I traveled to Cabo together to celebrate the destination wedding of our mutual friend Deidre at Dreams Los Cabos Resort and Spa. This was our first time to Cabo and we had no idea what we were in for.

Well, after two endlessly long flights, a bajillion hours processing through customs, and navigating the gauntlet of overly ambitious drivers waiting to pounce on us at the airport (shit, I made eye contact... "do you need a driver? a ride? boyfriend for the week?" just keep walking), we made it to the edge of the Baja Peninsula and were greeted by our friendly airport shuttle driver Alfredo, who entertained us with stories and beers while he zoomed us down the highway to the coast.

And soon we arrived at THIS magical place!

The resort literally just re-opened a few weeks ago after being devastated by a hurricane last year, and it took our breath away.

The tip of the Baja peninsula is covered with craggy mountains, vegetation and cacti in a blend that reminded me of a cross between Cancun and Arizona, and the land edges up to the most beautiful turquoise waves of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.

Kathleen and I quickly settled into our new routine.

It's not hard to love your life when you're living in the lap of all-inclusive luxury and great service! 

It was really fun to travel with a fellow Tone It Up girl because we have the exact same lifestyle quirks.

Our ideal vacation day begins by waking up early around 6am, ordering a "pre-breakfast" room service snack of toast, coffee and tea, and fresh fruit, and then wandering out to the beach for a HIIT workout.

Then we would get showered and dressed in our bikinis and cover ups before wandering down to the breakfast buffet for a mimosa-soaked feast. 

Then comes a couple of quiet hours under our shady cabana listening to the waves and relaxing before a light al fresco lunch, and then meeting up with the rest of the wedding party for cocktails and an afternoon at the pool!

The wedding itself was absolutely magical. I've never been to a destination wedding before, and being there to celebrate Deidre and Howard with a small group of their closest friends and family was extremely special.

After we all sobbed our way through the ceremony, we were treated to champagne, appetizers, and a three piece string Mexican band before our dinner on the terrace overlooking the beach!

Seriously. I can't even believe these pictures are real.

We all sat around one gorgeously arrayed communal table.

And spent the evening drinking, eating, laughing, and celebrating with the happy couple!

I absolutely love love love weddings, but this one was really something extra special.

Kathleen and I made the excellent decision to spend an extra day at the resort after the wedding. 

We loved trying out all the restaurants and making friends with the staff. I think they were amused by two young women traveling together :)

It's really hard for me to take a few days "off" to completely relax and unplug (and I admit I checked my email a couple times), but overall this trip was the first time I've ever taken an official vacation for myself.

It's surreal to be able to experience places like this.

Two years ago I would never have believed I'd be traveling all over the world multiple times a year, and I'd be feeling trapped by my 9-5, hoarding my limited vacation days to see my family for Christmas.

Now I'm in the middle of literally designing the lifestyle of my dreams, and I'm finally starting to believe that I am worth experiences like this. It's pretty crazy and a little overwhelming, and the process is long and hard, but I will never take it for granted.

Honestly, it's kind of hard for me to share this trip because I don't want to come off as bragging or "look at me, my life rocks!"

But quite frankly, my life does rock right now. I am literally happier than I've ever been. And I want to feel that happiness without dampening or second-guessing it.

Most of all, I want to SHARE this feeling because I want you to feel this way too.

For the first time in my life, hard work is paying off, I don't have to change to fit a mold or squeeze into someone else's expectations, and I am free to travel and design the life that I wouldn't even ALLOW myself to dream about even one year ago.

What are YOUR dreams?

And most of all, how do you want to feel about your life?

Giving myself permission to ask and answer both those questions has changed everything.

xo Anna

ChaLEAN Extreme Review

October 2015Anna LockeComment

A couple weeks ago I finished a 90 day at-home strength training program, ChaLEAN Extreme.

I love doing Beachbody programs because you end up learning so much about yourself in the process, and committing to actually finish a long program gives you the best feeling of accomplishment, similar to training for a big race.

I really liked my ChaLEAN Extreme experience and I’m excited to finally share my review with you!

To be honest, it's taken me a while to work up the courage to post these pictures, because my inner critic keeps flaring up and telling me my before and after isn't "good enough."

But I DO want to share because I want to show you that a transformation is so much more than a before and after picture.

Pictures, and numbers on the scale, are only external representations and don't even begin to reflect the changes that happen on the INSIDE when you show up and commit to making a positive change in your life.

So even though I'm far from being a ripped, lean, professional fitness model, even though my outside transformation isn't as dramatic as some other people's, I'm still proud of the muscle I've gained. I'm proud of the inner and outer strength that isn't reflected in these pictures. I'm proud of myself for actually starting and finishing a 90 day program, and I hope to convey that deeper level of transformation in this blog review post!

If you're looking for a shallow "quick fix" solution, just know that it doesn't exist.

It takes lots of time, consistency, and dedication to build muscle and change your body.

THIS is a story of a girl who decided to fight for her self confidence and freedom from the voices that tell her she's never good enough, skinny enough, or ripped enough.

This is the truth. I am enough. You are too.

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WHY I TRIED CHALEAN EXTREME


I absolutely love Chalene Johnson from her podcast, PiYo program, and from listening to her speak live at various conferences, so I knew I wanted to try ChaLEAN Extreme at some point. It is a 90 day commitment though, so I wanted the timing to be right.

This June when Ben and I returned from Holland, I was more than ready to make a change.

For the past year or so, I’d been living what a normal person would consider a super healthy lifestyle. I work out 5-6 days/week, eat tons of veggies and healthy foods, and don’t struggle with day to day motivation.

BUT I also felt like I was physically and mentally in a plateau. I was still controlled by following “food rules” and exercising for physical results (aka to be fit/skinny), not for the sheer joy of moving my body.

So I decided to commit to ChaLEAN Extreme to mix up my routine, gain consistency, and get that feeling of confidence back!

 

I chose CLX because I love lifting weights, and wanted to focus on feeling strong, not losing weight or burning calories.

 

I ended up really loving this program! I didn’t take before and after weights or measurements (and don’t even own a scale anymore), but I have definitely started to put on a lot of muscle and my body composition is changing. I have never felt this strong in my life.

chalean extreme review

WHAT I GAINED FROM CHALEAN EXTREME


CLX gave me FREEDOM to finally trust my body.

Trust that I can go out to a nice restaurant for my anniversary and enjoy every bite without thinking about how it’s going to show up on my tummy or hips, or how I will have to workout tomorrow to burn it off.

Trust that my body knows exactly what it needs. I don’t have to eat out of boredom or anxiety….but if I do, it will be ok and I can forgive myself.

Freedom to give myself permission to literally slowwww down. We don’t have to punish our bodies with intense interval or cardio every day. 

My mind is always racing a million miles a minute, and doing these slower-paced lifting workouts forced me to interrupt the pattern and start to calm my mind as well.

My metabolism is stoked, and my muscles burn everything for fuel.

It’s not about being perfect anymore, or eating clean, or obsessing about food, or obsessing about my abs in the mirror every time I go to the bathroom.

It’s about LIVING MY LIFE.


WHY HAVING SUPPORT IS SO IMPORTANT


It’s always hard for me to commit to a new workout program. Yup, even as a health and fitness coach.

The thing is, whenever we are starting something new or decide to make a change, it’s an opportunity for fears and insecurities to pop up!

“What if I don’t see results?”

“What if it doesn’t work for me?”

“What if I can’t stick with it?”

“What if I can’t change?”

But it’s so important to push our boundaries and see what we’re capable of achieving when we give ourselves a chance.

Don’t place pressure on yourself or expect a certain outcome. Just do your best and be curious!

Like Chalene says in one of the workouts, “you’re not just changing your body, you’re changing your identity.”

This is so true. It’s not just about losing weight or dropping a size, it’s about connecting with your inner strength and confidence and energy that will radiate from within.

This is also why we can lose weight and still not be happy. If you don’t work on yourself on the iNSIDE while you’re working on the outside, you won’t ever really change.

One of my favorite parts of being a coach is being able to give women the emotional support they need when they’re trying to change their own identity. Having support, whether its in the form of a partner or friend in real life, and/or a virtual community of women who are on the same journey and understand your goals, is so critical to sticking with your routine and making those changes happen.


PROGRAM OVERVIEW


Length: 12 weeks (3 months), split into three 4-week phases

Weekly schedule: 3 strength circuits, 2 cardio intervals, optional abs, and 2 recovery days/week

Here's a breakdown of the three phases:


You can order the program as a DVD set, but I just streamed it from Beachbody On Demand.


Here is a sneak peek of all the workouts that come with the program, as they appear on Beachbody On Demand!

Yup, it's a lot. 

This is why I love BOD. You also get the Deluxe workouts, which incorporate a stability ball. The Extreme Core Circuit is one of my favorite ab workouts of all time.

You also get digital downloads of the fitness guide and workout schedule, nutrition guide, and worksheets to track your weights and progress!

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WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED?


You will need several sets of dumbbells, ranging from 5 pounds to 25-30+ pounds.

I got by with a set of 5 lb, 10 lb, and 20 lb dumbells, resistance bands, and adjustable 5 lb ankle weights that I wore as bracelets to up my dumbbell weights ;)

Work with what you've got!

Chalean Extreme results

DO I HAVE TO DO THE FULL PROGRAM TO GET RESULTS?


You could probably half-ass your way through and still see results, but I can’t emphasize how important it is to fully commit to a program and see it through start to finish.

We live in a world where we’re conditioned to expect and demand instant results.

Show up for yourself.

It’s fun to play around and try a variety of different workouts (especially now Beachbody On Demand is available), but Beachbody programs are scientifically designed by fitness professionals and created to give your body results in a safe and balanced way.

It’s important not to mess with the system!

I stopped feeling results in month two because it’s DESIGNED to bulk you up, before you burn fat and lean down in month three. Was I tempted to give up in month 2? Heck yes. But I’m glad I stuck it out.

Trust the program, trust your body, and honor yourself by committing to start AND finish a program, no matter how you feel or how discouraged you get along the way.

This not only guarantees physical results, but it will build your confidence and emotional resiliency. 

If you’re afraid you’ll lose motivation, or if your history of giving up on yourself is preventing you from committing, reach out! Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to do it alone. Let’s work together. That’s what I’m here for :)


BUT I HAVE A WORK TRIP/VACATION/BIRTHDAY/BUSY SEASON/I AM NOT SURE IF I CAN COMMIT


Girl.

Tough love time.

We are always going to have excuses and trips and events that will tempt us to throw in the towel and give up.

That’s life! You’re never going to have a perfect, uninterrupted 90 day span where you can devote your 100% focus to perfectly completing a rigorous fitness program by the book.

Perfection is a myth.

What’s most important is simply showing up, modifying the program to fit your life, and NOT EVER GIVING UP no matter what.

Again, if you want to figure out how to align your goals with your lifestyle, email me!


HOW I MODIFIED THE PROGRAM TO FIT MY LIFE


While I was doing ChaLEAN Extreme, I traveled almost every other weekend and celebrated several events, including my 3 year wedding anniversary and 10 year high school reunion.

So I committed to doing the three strength circuits every single week while I was at home. I only missed two out of 36.

Some weeks I did the interval workouts, but usually I mixed things up and substituted running, other workouts from BOD, or Tone It Up routines for the cardio days!


NUTRITION


It's a fact that the majority of your fitness and weight loss results come from what you eat, not what you do.

One of the best parts of Beachbody On Demand is that you can download the nutrition plans, workout calendars, and any other bonus resources for every single program. ChaLEAN Extreme does come with a nutrition guide, but I didn’t follow it because I’m at a personally great place with food.

Throughout ChaLEAN Extreme I followed my personal "80/20" mentality. I eat healthy whole foods 80% of the time (roughly), and allow myself lots of wiggle room for treats because I love food!

If you're struggling to get in a solid clean eating routine or have lots of unhealthy habits to kick, the 21 Day Fix is a great place to start!

I did end up eating a LOT more than I usually do while I was doing ChaLEAN Extreme because my body was burning so many calories throughout the day from the heavy weight lifting.


A NOTE ON SUPPLEMENTS


I’m not really big into protein powders or supplements since I get everything I need from Shakeology and eating a primarily whole-foods diet, but I did take the opportunity to try out Beachbody’s new Performance Line and ended up loving a couple of these additional all-natural supplements!

I especially love the chocolate Recovery protein powder, the Hydrate electrolytes, and the overnight Recharge.

I drink the Recovery immediately after an intense strength workout (or blended into my Shakeo), the Hydrate either during or right after a cardio workout, and I occasionally will make the Recharge for “dessert” on days I’ve had a draining workout and/or am having sugar cravings at night.

I can’t really tell whether or not the extra protein helped with my recovery and muscle soreness, but I can tell an immediate difference with Hydrate. I have more endurance and am less prone to energy dips right after I workout.


WHO THIS PROGRAM IS FOR


You'll probably like ChaLEAN Extreme if...

-You want to slow down and focus on establishing a mind-body connection. (This program is the opposite of Insanity!)

-You want to build muscle and strength

-You want a long-term program to develop consistency, discipline, and long term results

-You are clicking with this blog post


WHO THIS PROGRAM IS NOT FOR


ChaLEAN Extreme is probably not for you if...

-You're a complete beginner and have zero fitness background

-You have a lot of weight to lose

-You don’t have a handle on your nutrition

-You aren’t mentally ready to commit to a 3 month program

-You're looking for a quick fix or an easy way out (hint: it doesn't exist)


I hope this post answered some of your questions and inspired you to take ownership of your own energy and fitness journey. No more excuses girl! If I can do it, you can too. Seriously ;)

You are worth it!

xo Anna

Want support or group coaching?

I am an independent Team Beachbody Coach