Tuesday, November 25, 2014

PiYo Review

After finishing 63 days of Insanity I knew that I:

a) wanted to keep up with working out each day
b) needed a break from all of the jumping

Enter: PiYo!



PiYo is a program by Chalene Johnson (who you might be familiar with from Turbo Jam, Turbo Fire, Chalean Extreme or her New York Times Best Selling book, PUSH) which incorporates moves from Pilates and Yoga to achieve 'functional flexibility that delivers cardiovascular results'. The program is low impact while still being high intensity to help you burn calories and build muscle. There's no jumping, no weights and no strain on your joints. Everything is done with your own body weight, with a modifier being presented for each exercise by a lovely gal named Michelle. 

In my first week I was happy to get to take some time to learn the fundamentals. The first couple of days really walk you through the movements of PiYo and allow you to work on your form. There is a lot of focus on great alignment, which is really helpful when you're doing the moves on your own at home. I don't know that I've ever done so many triceps pushups or planks and that's probably a good thing!! It's also been easy to fit into my day, with each workout only being 25-45 minutes long. 

As you move through the program, the intensity of the workouts increase. Some days are focused on a specific zone (like Buns or Core) while others cover the whole body (like Sweat or Drench). Unlike a traditional Pilates or Yoga class, PiYo keeps you moving and never feels slow or repetitive. I've definitely noticed improvements in my flexibility and strength in the six weeks I've been following the program. I feel leaner and stronger and have continued to lose inches all over by body, bringing me to 19 inches lost since I started Insanity!!

I'm really looking forward to completing the last 2 weeks of PiYo, even doing this week's workouts while in New York! I've committed to getting my workouts done in the morning before we head out for each day's adventures and I know that's going to help me feel great. I'm also pretty certain that my new program is going to be Insanity MAX:30, so I'm clinging on to Chalene and our lack of jumping for as long as I can. 

PiYo would be an amazing workout for anyone looking for flexibility training, someone who is recovering from a previous injury and is looking for something low impact that won't strain joints, people looking to increase lean muscle without lifting heavy weights or those who enjoy Pilates and Yoga but also want the calorie burn of a cardio workout. It's an awesome workout and has truly been a great break from the intensity of Insanity. 

The PiYo Challenge Pack is on promo this month for a great price and I currently have 4 spots left in my December Challenge group. I would love for you to join us and this program would be an amazing way for you to get a head start on your 2015 goals!! 



If you would like to learn more about PiYo or get more information about joining my December Challenge Group, please send me an email or connect with me on Facebook

Monday, November 24, 2014

Off to NYC

I've got my passport, my sparkly ticket and too many dresses packed, and I'm ready to head to NYC tomorrow morning!! 
 

This trip has been in the works since my birthday in April and I couldn't be more excited to head to my favourite city with my very favourite person! Corbin and I had such a wonderful time last year, I'm really looking forward to a repeat.

I will be tweeting, instagramming and Facebooking our adventures which will include 3 shows, (Honeymoon In Vegas, Disenchanted and 1 TBD with Side Show and Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time being high on my list!), an Islanders game, visits with friends, incredible food, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and some Black Friday shopping! I've been plotting our days for a little while and am stoked for our adventures. It's always a tough balance when you travel, between visiting previously discovered favourite places and making time to explore new ones. I'm hoping this trip has a good balance of both.


There will most certainly be a blog post about the trip when we are back, but in the meantime feel free to follow along on social media. I think there will be a lot of squeals and smiley faces!

Are you planning any Black Friday shopping? How do you balance between old and new places when traveling?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Make Just a Ripple

A couple weeks ago I took the stage for my latest solo show, The Difference a Year Makes at the Flying Beaver Pubaret

The Difference a Year Makes
It was wonderful and therapeutic and empowering to be onstage, doing what I love and talking about the changes I've made over the last year.

The Difference a Year Makes

One of the songs that resonated most deeply in the show was 'She Used to Be Mine' which Sara Bareilles has been writing for the musical adaptation of the movie 'Waitress'. From the first time I heard the song, I knew it would be a perfect fit for the show. "It's not simple to say, most days I don't recognize me..." is all too familiar a feeling. At the end of last year when I was incredibly unhappy in my job and realizing that I wasn't doing the things in my life that I was actually passionate about, I became a fraction of myself. 

The Difference a Year Makes

Leaving that job, realigning my priorities, creating balance, nourishing my body and working actively on the relationships in my life have been a huge part of my transformation this year. It hasn't been sunshine, rainbows and unicorns 24/7, but it has been empowering and all kinds of awesome most of the time. I am living the life I want to live and that's the very best feeling. 

The Difference a Year Makes

"Make just a ripple, come on be brave. This time a ripple, next time a wave! Sometimes you have to start small, climbing the tiniest wall. Maybe you're going to fall, but it's better than not starting at all"

-Everybody Says Don't, Stephen Sondheim

The Difference a Year Makes
I hear that the show spurned some conversations about following one's dreams and focusing on the things that make people the happiest, which is really awesome. For a long time I believed that those things had a place in my life, but fit into a smaller part of my personal 'pie of life'. Pursuing your passions can be scary, but even taking just a small step in that direction can have a HUGE impact on your life. Fear of failure, fear of success, guilt, anxiety and all sorts of other things can stand in our way, but unless you try, you'll never know. 

The Difference a Year Makes

Thanks to everyone who came to the show, sent well wishes, flowers and tweets - I couldn't be more grateful and appreciative. Thanks to the Pubaret for being wonderful hosts once again. Thanks to Giustin for being an incredible musical director and confidante throughout the process of creating the show. And thanks to Corbin for the beautiful photos and ongoing support, encouragement and love. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Meal Planning Magic

Meal planning is something that I used to be really good at and made a BIG priority for myself. But since I've been living on my own, it's been a task that has dwindled on my list of priorities. Because my schedule can be all over the place, I find it more challenging to set a day to do my grocery shopping and meal prep and then stick to a meal plan when I'm running from worky to Corbin's house to rehearsal and everywhere else! I end up spending more money on take away food than I would like and I come home to a house that doesn't have a tonne of choices in the fridge and pantry.

This week I set out to be more diligent with my meal planning. I set a goal to bring a packed meal to all work shifts and rehearsals and made myself a little meal planner, complete with my schedule for each day. I'm happy to say that I was pretty successful!! I made some delicious meals, saved lots of money and had a great time cooking with Corbin on Monday and Tuesday.

Here are a couple of my favourites from the week!!

gluten free vegan raw taco salad

This taco salad from Choosing Raw was unbelievable!! We loved it so much!! I made the filling with walnuts, lentils and sundried tomatoes and changed up the spices a bit. The guac was incredible and cashew sour cream is one of my very favourite things. We enjoyed this for dinner one night and by lunch the next day I was CRAVING it! I love leftovers!!! We will be making this again. And again. And again.

gluten free vegan veggie bowl
I made these veggie bowls back in March for Corbin's birthday and we were obsessed with the ranch hummus that was on top of them! When I was looking through Pinterest trying to decide what to make for dinner on Tuesday, they popped up and I knew we had to have them again. I think they were even better the second time! We used fresh herbs in the hummus which made it extra green (and extra yummy) and had a handle on how to make the polenta this time around. They were so good! And also provided great leftovers for the next day. There are a lot of components, but with two of us pulling everything together in the kitchen it was actually pretty easy and came together in about 40 minutes.

one bowl gluten free banana bread

For a treat, I decided to try out this One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread recipe and it turned out so well! It was really easy, I had most of the ingredients on hand and everyone who tried it really enjoyed it. They were also surprised that it was gluten and dairy free, which is always a good sign! It was just delicious banana bread. I will definitely be making this again! (Actually today, as I want to bring some to my cast for our last rehearsal tomorrow)

I'm really proud that I stuck to my plan this week and had a blast in the kitchen. While my meal planning may not be as structured as it used to be, I can still make it happen if I make it a priority! If you're super and on the go like I am, take the time to get some groceries and make a couple of yummy meals that you can enjoy throughout the week. Your tummy and your wallet will thank you!

What are your best meal planning tips? What was on your meal plan this week??

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why is This Time Going to Be Any Different?

There's been a question that's been brewing in the back of my brain and coming up in my thoughts of late:

Why is this time going to be any different?

This has been specifically related to my recent transformation and lifestyle change as a result of completing Insanity and (now) PiYo.

I've lost weight before. In 2006, I joined Weight Watchers and lost 30 lbs. Around the time of my break up, I lost another 10 unintentionally and not in a healthy way. Over the course of the next 2 years I would put some of that weight back on. There was a point where I almost took a leave of absence from Weight Watchers because I wasn't feeling good on the inside or the outside and was having a hard time reconciling those feelings while being outwardly positive in my meetings.

After I left WW in 2012, I focused on feeling good in my own skin, rather than basing my feelings on the scale. I stopped weighing myself for a long time and focused on nourishing my body. At the beginning of 2014, I set a goal to continue do exactly that and right before I started Insanity, was feeling really awesome.

Since joining Weight Watchers, I've dabbled in fitness off and on. I've had gym memberships, personal trainers, gone to boot camps and had great results. I remember looking back at photos from my boot camp days and thinking about how much I would LOVE to go back to having that body. But after boot camp, I didn't really keep up with my workouts as much as I could have and my body didn't stay that way.

With my weight and level of fitness fluctuating up and down since I took that initial step back in 2006, you can see why this question of "why is this time going to be different" has come into focus. And I know that I'm not alone in this. Instead of get down on myself and worry about what 'could' or 'might' happen, I've chosen to come up with a list of reasons as to why this time is going to be different.

I feel awesome, inside and out. 


It's interesting, but this is new for me. For the first time, I truly feel that how I feel on the inside, matches what's happening on the outside. I don't know that I've ever had that.

With my initial weight loss, I was so focused on the scale and getting down past a certain number. Even when I tried to focus on how I was FEELING, it was really difficult to shove the scale out of my brain. When I was at my fittest (during boot camp) I wrote in my journal about how I wanted to lose 5 more pounds (wtf?!), despite the fact that my body was toned, I had lost a significant amount of body fat and had increased my level of fitness significantly. When I stepped away from the scale, I was able to get back to feeling good about myself in a way that was totally separate from what I weighed. Going into Insanity with that mentality made my progress feel even better and gave me extra confidence.

I have an incredible support network. 


Having accountability and support has been an integral part throughout weight loss and fitness journey. Meetings, mentors and classes have always helped me. Having an inspiring and motivating Coach, along with an online support & accountability group has kept me focused and on track. It's something that I'm committed to continuing with going forward, as I know that it will help keep me motivated and on track.

And just because I'm a Coach now, doesn't mean that I'm going to stop focusing on my own progress and journey. I realize that feeling my best and actively working towards my own goals, is going to help me help others do the same. I am right down there in the trenches and that isn't about to end anytime soon. Helping others is INCREDIBLE and continues to inspire me every day. It's an amazing feeling that is just going to continue to grow over time.

My expectations feel manageable and realistic. 


Looking back at how my mentality about health, weight loss and fitness has changed over the years is really interesting to me.

As much as I tried not to be, there were times when I was a slave to the scale. 0.8 lbs would upset me. During that boot camp, I was fixated on losing 5 more pounds. I had a lot of expectations for myself that were all based around a number. I've weighed myself out of curiosity since finishing Insanity, but I've left the obsession with the number on the scale in the past.

Previously, I would feel guilty for eating certain foods or overindulging. In time, I've been able to get out of the 'good' and 'bad' food mentality, and just make choices about what I eat. Yesterday, I had a gluten free, vegan brownie and it was delicious. No guilt, no shame. Just enjoyment. I now write down what I eat to keep myself accountable, but also to see patterns and work towards fueling my body in the best way possible.

I missed a workout on the weekend because life was crazy and I was exhausted. I didn't beat myself up or stress out about it and just got back on track on Monday.  My attitude is firmly planted in positivity and moderation and it feels awesome. I'm committed to feeling good and nourishing my body, and that's exactly what I'm doing.

I'm done with the negative self talk. 


Allowing myself to hear the thought "why is this time going to be any different?" and answering the question honestly and realistically has been huge for me. Negative self talk could have previously convinced me that I wouldn't be able to maintain this healthy, positive lifestyle or that I would just quit or stop working out or gain weight or feel terrible. And to be honest, this post seemed a bit scary to write because I was publicly putting that question and these answers out into the world. I can see that all of the ups and downs and things that have brought me to this place have been experiences, and not failure.I refuse to beat myself up for things that have happened in the past or ways that life has changed. I recognize that things could change in an instant once again, but in this moment, I'm committing to feeling great, nourishing my body and continuing with the healthy habits that I've formed to help me do that successfully. Positive self talk is HUGE and I'm working on it every day.

Ashley Gibson progress PiYo Beachbody


Negative self talk, you can take a hike.

I'm so happy to be in this place and recognize that it's been a long journey to get here. This time is going to be different because of the way I feel, the attitude I've embraced and the expectations I've set for myself.

It already IS different this time around and I'm excited and inspired to keep moving forward.

What's different for YOU this time? What steps have you taken to stay motivated, focused and feeling great once you've made changes in your lifestyle?

And if you're ready to make a change in your lifestyle and make it different for YOU this time around, I wanna talk! I've got a new support & accountability group starting on Monday to run through the end of 2014 to help make that happen. Comment below with your email, message me on Facebook or send me a message in the 'contact' section. I would love to connect with you and hear more xo