2015 Year In Review

In getting ready to write this post, I peeked at my blog's archives of New Year's Eve posts. I can't believe I started writing this blog back in 2008, and my post preparing for 2009 tells the story of a very different gal in a very different place... But I digress.

All around 2015 was a pretty awesome year. While I did my best to live boldly, I don't think it was entirely in the ways I expected!

I got to take some amazing trips - to Florida, Nashville, Alberta and Halifax.


Both trips to the US found me hanging out with some incredible Beachbody coaches, working out with celebrity trainers (including Shaun T - ahhh!), exploring fun new-to-me cities, eating great food, enjoying warmer climates and generally having the best time.
My trip to Alberta was an adventure with Corbin's family to celebrate his Grandma (Dixie's) 80th birthday. It involved visits to Calgary, Canmore, Banff and a road trip to the village of Empress, Alberta where Corbin's dad grew up. It was my very first time seeing the mountains, and the sights in Alberta are absolutely beautiful. We enjoyed some really lovely day trips including an adventure to the Columbia Icefield, hiking in the Rockies, visits to Lake Louise and other beautiful glacial lakes and some great time spent in Canmore. It was an awesome trip and I was happy to expand my Canadian horizons to the west.

I also expanded them to the east! We were only back in Toronto for a couple weeks before we took off to Halifax for a wedding. We drove there and back (and by we I mean Corbin drove, and brought snacks and downloaded the entirety of Serial and The Mystery Show for us to listen to) which was quite the adventure in itself!! Once we got there, I fell in love with the Halifax! The weather was perfect and it was wonderful to be so close to the ocean. I visited with friends (old and new!), scoped out the farmer's market, ate yummy food and did all-things wedding related! It was a beautiful event and a really fun reason to take a trip out east!

In 2015, I continued with my fitness journey completing 2 rounds of Insanity Max:30, 21 Day Fix Extreme and getting started with The Master's Hammer and Chisel! This is the most consistent I've ever been with fitness and I attribute a lot of that success to my incredible challengers, coaches and monthly support and accountability groups. Without them, it's just me working out in my room and that just doesn't do it for me!! Today marks day 4 of Hammer and Chisel, and so far it is KICKING MY ASS. I'm so excited to share my journey with you and see the final result 56 days from now. Here goes nothing!

In the spring, I took a job with Meghan Telpner and it has been a great fit! I have the best time with our team, I love the work that we're doing, I get to use my full range of skills and I'm constantly learning. We were super busy with the launch of her second book and running the CNE Program for the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, but it's been a truly awesome ride.

I've also been growing my role as a health and fitness coach, and it's been so cool to see our team's growth and the progress our challengers have made. I've had the opportunity to help a lot of people work towards their health, fitness and business goals and look forward to continuing with this in 2016!! We have an awesome group of peeps ready to go for our January Group and I can't wait to see our team grow and thrive. I paid for all my Christmas gifts with my Beachbody income and I'm looking forward to pushing towards some really big goals in 2016!!

(Our next online support and accountability group starts on Monday and I would love for you to be a part of it so I can help you work towards YOUR 2016 goals!! Send me a message)

This is Your Year
While both of my jobs keep me busy, I'm still finding ways to perform. I had the opportunity to be a part of the first 'intimate' Confidential Music Theatre Project show in April which was one of the scariest things I've done in my life to date! I'm grateful that I had the experience, and it certainly showed me what I'm capable of doing. I also love that each year I get to do a show with our Ashnaba group, and we had a really great show in May where I performed one of my very favourite songs.


I'm also having a lot of fun making videos that include singing and getting involved with other people's fun projects - like when I got to dress up as Posh Spice for a great project earlier this week (video of that will be up next week - stay tuned!!)

I read lots of great books, saw some incredible theatre and concerts, Fringed, watched the entirety of Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad and House of Cards, spent great time with friends, rode Cecily all over the city, moved twice, made nourishing meals (including ones with meat again) and continued to be crazy in love.

Photo credit Michelle Doucette Photography
Photo Credit: Michelle Doucette Photography 


Oh, and I chopped my hair off and dyed in dark brown.

pixie





It wasn't all rainbows and unicorns (I had a wicked flu in March that took me out for 10 days, moving twice in 5 months was less than ideal and with all of the changes that happened, I definitely had to sort out what a routine looked like for me!) but all in all, it was a very transformative year and a mostly enjoyable one at that!

Over the last few weeks, I've been setting intentions for 2016, making goal lists and vision boards while reminiscing on all that has happened in 2015. I'm looking forward to riding the momentum that I've built and striving for an even more awesome year. One of my goals includes blogging more regularly again, so be sure to watch this space.

2016, let's do this.

Happy New Year, friends - I hope 2016 brings you adventure, wonder and all kinds of awesome xo

The Master's Hammer and Chisel Kick Off

Starting a new workout program is kind of like the first day of school - you've thought about what's ahead with trepidation and anticipation, you prepare yourself mentally, you get all your gear together and then you show up! That's how I'm feeling today as I embark on The Master's Hammer and Chisel.



As I mentioned before, when I first learned about this program at Coach Summit, I wasn't sure if it was going to be the right program for me. But after trying out a preview workout and focusing in on my vision for 2016, I decided to jump in with both feet! I've always enjoyed working out with weights (in various classes or with personal trainers) but until 21 Day Fix Extreme, it was never really part of my routine at home. I've been more focused on body weight focused-workouts and have had super results. 21DFX reminded me how much I enjoyed working with weights and what kind of results I could achieve.

On Saturday I finished another round of Insanity Max:30 which felt great! With a cruise coming up in March, I knew that doing The Master's Hammer and Chisel was going to be the next super challenge for me. I was very excited when I received my copy in the mail last week!

I also picked up this set of resistance bands with a door attachment on Amazon for just $17. Thanks to some sweet Christmas gifts and a little bit of strategic Boxing Day shopping, I've been able to gather a bench, stability ball and weights to do this program. The program is a bit more equipment heavy than others that I've done, but there are options depending on where you're at / what you want to acquire (you can use a stability ball in place of a bench, resistance bands in place of a chin up bar etc) I'm really looking forward to measuring my progress and increasing my strength through my Hammer and Chisel journey.

I've decided to go all in with this program, so I will be following the portion controlled container system for my meals and snacks. (I said goodbye to Christmas cookies yesterday...)




I'm doing this to really challenge myself and work towards getting the very best results from the program. I found that I felt really great when I followed the containers diligently during 21 Day Fix Extreme and also want to create some helpful resources for other people who may be following this program. Here is my meal plan for week one:

Hammer and Chisel week one meal plan @ashleydtl


Many of the recipes came from The Master's Hammer and Chisel meal guide as well as the guides from 21 Day Fix Extreme, Insanity Max:30 and the Fixate cookbook.

Today I'll be taking my before photos, measurements and then getting started with Chisel Balance. I'm super excited, but also really nervous! This is outside my comfort zone, but I'm really looking forward to a brand new challenge and the results that follow. Over the next 8 weeks I'll be sharing my thoughts on the program and at the end of February I'll be sharing my results -- let's do this!

Comment below if you're getting ready to start something new for 2016


Prepped Organics - Organic Meal Delivery Service

I love cooking and meal planning and take great pride it nourishing myself and Corbin each week. With that being said, there is something really nice about having people cook for you! So when the lovely team at Prepped Organics reached out to me about sending dinner over one night, I jumped at the opportunity!


Prepped Organics provides delicious, nourishing and organic meal delivery in Toronto. You choose from their menu of dinners each week and they provide delivery Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I love that they have gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options for 1-5 people to cover a variety of preferences and lifestyles!

They have a unique menu each week and you can choose the option best suited to your tastes and dietary preferences. The meals come fully prepared with instructions on assembly and heating.

The week they sent us dinner, I had to go for the Greek grilled chicken with rice pilaf and Greek salad with a local sheep milk feta. I noted that I was gluten free and dairy free and everything was easily accommodated! They even made me a special dairy free tzatziki to enjoy with my chicken which was a really lovely touch!



I was super impressed with the team hand delivered my package to me and explained everything that was inside. They even included some special raw, gluten free peanut butter cookies as an extra special treat - nice touch!!

The preparation instructions were easy to follow and everything came together in less than 15 minutes, including heating everything up. 




The meal was delicious. I was especially impressed with how moist the chicken was, even after we heated it up. Greek food is some of my very favourite food, so this was a great meal! The portion for 2 people was very generous and we were able to enjoy leftovers of salad and rice the following day.

I loved using their service and will definitely keep it in mind when things get crazy in the future - it's so nice to have an expertly prepared meal that takes the guess work out of shopping, preparing and cooking with organic ingredients. Chef Anna & the team makes the food with care and it shows in the preparation and level of detail of everything included.

If awesome organic food, delivered to your door sounds like it would be helpful (and awesome!) for you, the team at Prepped Organics have a promotion running where you can use the code WELCOME25 to receive 25% off your first order.  Enjoy!!

Coach Summit 2015




This post about Beachbody Summit has been such a long time coming. Life got in the way of writing it and didn't want to half-ass it because it was such an incredible experience - so finally, months later, here is the full scoop!

The City

Nashville is an incredible city - unlike anywhere I've ever been! There is music EVERYWHERE. In every bar, every nook and cranny, even playing out of boxes on street corners. It is AMAZING. And somehow every band is better than the last band you saw. The quality of the musicians there is unreal and for me it didn't even really matter that I'm not a huge country music fan - I just loved being immersed in music everywhere I went.



Southern hospitality is REAL. I learned that during a short stay in Georgia a few years ago, but this was solidified for me while we were visiting. From the staff everywhere, servers, hotel concierge, uber drivers, men who asked me to dance while we were out to the various people that we met - southern hospitality is legit!

The night life is a lot of fun. We went to a number of different places (each with awesome music) but my very favourite was Acme. They had a beautiful rooftop patio and an awesome band on the main floor where we danced the night away.

The Community


Connecting with my team and all sorts of awesome coaches was a gift.

Summit 2015 Team Ignite



Being the token Canadian on my coach's team, I often feel disconnected all the way up here! I talk to these ladies every day, but I don't actually get to see them and hug them very often. It was so wonderful to hang out with them for 3 days straight and be surrounded by 24,000 other awesome coaches who are out there helping others and doing great things in their business.




The Event


Summit was nothing short of phenomenal. I was on cloud 9 from the minute I arrived to the second I got back to Toronto. We attended 2 awesome events in the stadium where the Tennessee Titans play and 2 others in the area where the Nashville Predators play - where else can you house 24,000 coaches?!



These events were full of inspiration, information and another awesome opportunity to connect with fellow coaches. We got to see some wonderful speakers including Simon Sinek, Chalene Johnson, Dewitt Jones and a whole slew of top Beachbody coaches and executives. I felt like a little sponge, furiously taking notes and photos trying to absorb as much information as I possibly could. During the closing ceremonies we got to witness some of the very best fireworks I've ever seen and it was a beautiful way to end our time there.

The Food

While we were at the conference a lot of the time, I did have a chance to try out some great Nashville restaurants in between sessions, on our evenings out and on my Nashville exploration day before I headed home! Some of the highlights included brunch at Biscuit Love, stellar peaches at the farmers' market, southern BBQ, iced tea and treats at Barista Parlor, vegan cupcakes at Khan's Desserts and an incredible meal at Avo,  Nashville's very first raw restaurant!







And what Beachbody event would be complete without a Shakeology bar? I even got to try out some of the new Shakeology Boosts when they launched at Summit.



The Workouts

We each got to pick 2 workouts while we were at Summit and of COURSE I wanted to work out with my love, Shaun T! Insanity is what started this whole coaching journey for me so that was the obvious choice, and Cize was actually coming out while we were in Nashville, so I thought that would be super fun!

My Insanity workout was nearly the first thing I did while I was in Nashville. After getting up at 3:30am a busy morning of travel and 2 flights, I arrived, dropped my things at the hotel, went to registration, stopped for a group photo and then busted my butt for Insanity. The program IS called Insanity so it seemed fitting for it to be under insane circumstances...


It was all sorts of amazing.

I also got to try out Cize the following day. The workout was PACKED because everyone was so stoked for the workout to launch! I absolutely LOVE Cize -- a workout that doesn't feel like work because you're dancing?!? YES!!



I am so thankful that I had the chance to take this trip. I earned my ticket to Summit by being a Success Starter (which means that I hit certain milestones in my first three months as a coach) which was so cool! I've already got my ticket for next summer's summit and am really looking forward to being back in Nashville with my team again!!

Do you want to join me in Nashville this summer? Become a coach on my team and let's talk about how you could earn your own free ticket to Nashville!

Cara's All Natural Products

Last summer, when I had the pleasure of participating in the very first Confidential Music Theatre Project I had the chance to share a very unique experience with some incredible Toronto talent. One of the very special people that I met was Cara Adams.


In addition to being a lovely operatic soprano, Cara also runs her own company selling all natural beauty care products. It all started with a passion for natural skin care products as she was concerned about the things she was using on her own body. Cara went on to share some of her creations with close family and friends, who went on to share the products with their family and friends, and so a business was born.

Being in the opera world, Cara created a special body butter blend for her friend Measha Brueggergosman which has definitely helped to channel some attention to her brand!

I love that the products have very few ingredients, and Care speaks passionately about her reasoning for including each one. Her products are also free of parabens and synthetic fragrances. She uses many organic ingredients and works hard to use the very best sources for her ingredients. I've had the pleasure of trying out a selection of products from both Cara's regular and luxury lines and I've definitely found a few new favourite things!!


Of the products I tried, my favourites would have to be the Rosemary Mint bodywash, Ultra Rich Handcream and moisturizing lip balm (in coconut macaroon!!) 

I love the fragrance of the Rosemary Mint Body Wash, but didn't find it to be overpowering. It lathers nicely and a little bit went a long way. The ultra rich hand cream also doubles as a beautiful face cream. As someone who doesn't use a tonne of creams or moisturizers, I liked that it didn't make my skin feel oily or gross - just hydrated and happy. And I'm obsessed with the coconut macaroon lip balm - cocoa butter & extra virgin coconut oil come together to make a deliciously moisturizing lip balm -- I want to get one to put in every bag / pocket I have!! Cara also carries a selection of baby products as well as sugar scrubs and bath salts. 

You can order Cara's All Natural products through her website and you can get more details about local events where she will be selling her products on her Facebook page. With the holidays around the corner, she will be at a couple of upcoming markets including the French Christmas Market this Saturday December 12th



and the Vendor Queens Market at Markham House from December 17 - 20. 


It's so wonderful to see friends doing awesome things out in the world! If you're looking for a new Canadian-made brand of natural products or perhaps you are looking for a holiday gift - be sure to check out Cara's lovely products! 

Free December Accountability Group

Can you believe it's December? Christmas is in 3 weeks and I'm in a wee bit of shock about it. The holi-month is in full swing, and the next thing you know it's going to be 2016!



To help you manage the craziness of the holi-month, I'm running a free fitness & healthy eating accountability group beginning Monday December 7 - 18. There will be streamed workouts, healthy recipes, tools for managing the holiday season, prizes and more! It will all take place in a private Facebook group and will be a great chance for you to connect with some awesome, like-minded people this season.

If you'd like to be a part of the group, send me an email with the subject line "I'm in" and we'll get you into the group!

Happy December!

Get a glimpse into coaching

After celebrating my one year coach-aversary recently, I elaborated a bit more about my journey with this video.


I've been getting lots of questions about coaching, so this week I'm hosting a 3 day sneak peek to share what it's all about! 

Beachbody Coach Toronto Canada

Have you ever felt curious about what this 'coaching' thing is all about? 

Maybe you've wondered what's up with all the food photos, sweaty selfies and quotes that I post.

This week I'll be hosting a 3 day glimpse into coaching where I'll be sharing what's involved and how it has impacted my life.

Things like:

- what do coaches actually do?
- how does it all work?
- how do you get paid?
- common hesitations peeps may feel (not wanting to be a salesperson, not being at their goal weight etc)
- what it would mean for you to be a part of our awesome, growing team

All in a private Facebook group that you can access when it's convenient for you.

Totally free. 
No pressure. 
No weirdness. 
Just honest answers from me (including why I was skeptical about becoming a coach in the first place!!) 

You might be thinking that it's not for you or not something you're interested in doing this very second, but I would love for you to hear me out. Get a peek of what this coaching thing has done for *my* life and how it could benefit YOU (and those around you!)

Would you like to learn more? Fill in my coach application and I'll add you to our group on Wednesday! 

Making my Way Through The UnDiet Cookbook + Giveaway

Almost exactly seven years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. It feels like a lifetime ago.

My doctor told me to eat a "healthy, well-balanced diet" and to avoid things like nuts and seeds that might cause problems. He offered traditional medicinal options including medication, surgery and hardcore, experimental medication -- none of which sounded like great options to me. I made the decision to see a naturopath, made major changes in my diet and saw incredible improvement.

Before my diagnosis, I knew nothing about Crohn's Disease and didn't know anyone who had it - so I did what any good person does and took to the internet! I searched for blogs and other folks who also had Crohn's. While reading the comments on a random blog post one day, I discovered the blog of a Toronto nutritionist who also had healed herself from Crohn's Disease.

Her name was Meghan Telpner.

I started religiously reading her blog and decided to treat myself to some of her cooking classes for my birthday. Gluten free, dairy free cooking was all new to me, so I needed all the help and inspiration I could get! I documented our weekly classes here on the blog and the recipes I learned from Meghan became staples in my new way of eating.

Meghan Telpner and Ashley Gibson

After the cooking classes ended, Meghan continued to be an important person in my life. I followed her blog, helped out at events, cheerleaded for her programs, took a life-changing adventure to St. Lucia and beamed with pride when her first book, UnDiet came out. While it was awesome that I could finally stop using the duotang of recipes and had them in proper book form, it was mostly so inspiring to see someone I admired so much reaching their goals and doing awesome things in the world.




This past March I was taken down with that horrific godzilla flu and was pretty much confined to bed for over a week. After a nap one day, I checked Facebook and saw that Meghan had posted a job description for an 'Executive Assistant and Director of Outreach and Customer Happiness'. I eagerly read through the job description and when I got to the bottom of it I thought to myself - that is the perfect job for me. I applied. I interviewed. And a few weeks later I had my first day in the kitchen, working with Meghan (and her small but kick ass team).

I knew that the UnDiet Cookbook was going to be coming out in the fall and Meghan and I discussed some of the plans leading up to the release of the book. Because of things that we were working on, I actually had a manuscript of the book (in a word document) on my computer before the book even came out. I started to peruse recipes and got really excited for what was to come.

The book included 130 gluten free, dairy free recipes including some old revamped favourites (from the duotang days) and a whole bunch of brand new, shiny ones! The first recipe I made from the Word doc was the Banana Berry Oatmazing Muffins - Corbin joked that they were muffins from the future since the book hadn't even been released.

The UnDiet Cookbook





He also said they were some of his favourite muffins ever.

They were incredibly easy to make, adaptable (depending on the type of berries you used) and didn't taste "gluten free" - they just tasted like a delicious muffin!! I brought them into the kitchen for Meghan and Maeve, and Maeve declared it one of her favourite muffins as well. Success!

However cool it was to have the word doc version, it was even better to get my hands on the actual book. The recipes themselves are amazing, but when you couple the recipes with the beautiful photography from Catherine Farquharson and Miya Visneyei and incredible food styling, it really is something else. Every photo is amazing, and that visual appeal is so important to me in a cookbook!

The book starts with an introduction to Meghan's story, what it means to live the UnDiet Life and provides some guidance on how to get started in the kitchen. From there, the recipes are broken into 8 sections, followed by an awesome Lifestyle section including beauty care recipes, entertaining, travel tips and some thoughts on how to live the very best, most vibrant life.

I have peppered my book with stickies, highlighting the recipes I want to make and have had a blast cooking my way through it. 

gluten free has brizzles

Gluten free pancakes from The UnDiet Cookbook



Gluten free dairy free quiche
I'm obsessed with the 'Begin with Brekkie' section. The Sweet Potato Zucchini Hash Brizzles are absolutely delicious and so easy! I paired them with poached eggs and it was the perfect combination. I also loved the Chocolate, Chocolate, Say it Twice Pancakes (which are like eating cake for breakfast) and the Vegalicious Quiche complete with millet crust!

Everything in the book is vegetarian / vegan friendly, and there are also options to make many recipes in the book nut-free, grain free or protein-powered. Meghan's UnDiet philosophy is all about breaking the rules and leaving the labels for tin cans - and advocates for people to eat what works for them while remaining open to the evolutionary nature of what our bodies need at different times in our lives.

Gluten free pear tart


Gluten free crackers
Everything I've made has been a success so far! Favourites include the Creamed Mushroom Love Soup, Flourless Ginger Pear Tartlets, Balsamic Roasted Vegetables, Golden Girl Citrus-Spiced Tempeh and the Let's Stay Together Crackers (which impressed Corbin immensely "you're making homemade crackers?!")

Even though I've gotten a pretty good head start with the recipes, with 130 in total, I still have a ways to go! I haven't even dipped into the beauty care section (homemade toothpaste? yes!!) and want to try my hand at making some of the condiments from scratch, like the Spicy Mango Chutney.

This book is beautiful.
The recipes are awesome.
And it's already a staple in my kitchen.

I may be a bit biased, but I truly mean it. Even if I weren't working for Meghan I would have bought this book on release day and be cooking through it just the same (just without the bootleg word doc preview maybe...)

Meghan was a person I needed to meet seven years ago and her recipes, enthusiasm, passion, drive and philosophy have played a huge impact on my healing and my life. Her story reassured me that I was on the right track with my own healing and everything else that has followed has been a big beautiful bonus! I'm grateful that I now get to go to work in the kitchen where so much changed for me and work alongside someone who has been such an incredible mentor, cheerleader and friend.


---

The UnDiet Cookbook is all kinds of awesome and I'm really excited to be able to give away a copy to one very lucky reader! (And since I see the author on a pretty regular basis, I can probably even get it signed for you!)

Congratulations to Faith!! I'll be emailing you to get your details so I can send the book out to you ASAP. 

To win your very own copy of The UnDiet Cookbook:

Leave a comment below with your name, email address + the recipe you'd want to make first from the UnDiet Cookbook (you can take a peek inside the book to get some ideas or see what other folks have been enjoying on the Virtual Book Tour!)

Contest closes at 11:59pm Thursday November 12. I'll pick a random winner from all comments received and notify the winner by email. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents.

Good luck!!


Lego Movie Costume DIY

For Hallowe'en Corbin and I were invited to a Will Ferrell themed party and it seemed like doing a costume together would be the most fun. I scoured Will's IMDB and found a lot of strong contenders but based on our mutual adoration for a certain movie, there was one clear winner:

Lord Business and Princess Unikitty from The Lego Movie.

This seemed perfect for us and a fun opportunity for some arts & crafts. I picked up some paint, brushes and bristol board and Corbin helped secure the right sized cardboard boxes and a 72 hour marathon of building and painting began!

DIY crafty fun

Corbin and I make a great team (probably because everything is awesome when you're part of a team) and it was a joint effort to bring both costumes to life. Princess Unikitty was outfitted with a hockey helmet inside to keep everything stable, while Lord Business had a fedora strapped to some cardboard to stay put. My tail was made from cardboard and bristol board and then attached to a belt for wearing. After building the structures we painted the faces and pieces and added costume pieces to bring everything together. The end result was pretty fantastic!

Princess Unikitty costume DIY

Lord Business costume DIY

Taking public transit in our costumes was maybe not the best choice (having peripheral vision comes in handy while trying to hold on on the bus), but we got to the party safely. Everyone loved our costumes and later it was funny to chat with people who didn't know that it was us inside. It was also humorous to observe people checking us out without realizing that we could fully see them doing so from inside the masks. 

There's more footage of Corbin dancing out there, but this will suffice for now. Side note: Part of the hilarious...


Watching Corbin dance as Lord Business was pretty epic and hilarious.

Lego Movie costume DIY



All of the work was definitely worth it and we had a fun night at the party. The walk home was also pretty great (we decided that taking the bus a second time was a bit too risky seeing that it would likely be even more crowded and by that time people would be more intoxicated and we weren't sure that we'd fit in an Uber with our giant heads + my tail) Folks who hadn't seen the movie would shout things like "LEGO MAN" and people who were familiar with the movie started losing their minds over Princess Unikitty, even singing to me about Cloud Cuckoo Land. Totally made my night!!

It was definitely a Hallowe'en to remember and I had such a blast creating our costumes with Corbin! That being said, I'm going to appreciate taking the bus this week without a massive head complete with 18 inch horn. So. Much. Safer!

I hope you had a super fun and creative Halloween!!

PS - If you haven't yet seen the Lego Movie, you should make that happen. 

21 Day Fix Extreme - My Experience

Back in the spring, I was really excited for the release of 21 Day Fix Extreme. Many of my fellow coaches and challengers had done the original 21 Day Fix and LOVED it, and I thought this would prove to be an awesome new challenge for me. It boasted:
  • 30 minute workouts, each with weights and/or a resistance band
  • variety in the workouts - plyo, upper body, lower body, pilates, cardio & yoga
  • modifier for every exercise
  • food plan, complete with portion controlled rainbow-coloured containers
  • opportunity to get shredded 
I was super stoked to do this program and had a group of gals all set to do it with me...
And then I got the godzilla flu. I was out of commission for 10 days complete with fever, no appetite, lethargy, weakness and fainting. It was AWFUL!! It took me awhile to get back into the swing of things and I definitely wasn't in shape to do the program (Heck, I couldn't even get out of BED for 10 days, let alone do jumping jacks with weights!!)

After I regained my strength and my health, I got back into working out daily. I did many of the 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts and dabbled in the program, but never completed the full 21 consecutively and NEVER embarked on the meal plan. 

Why?

Back in 2006 when I first decided to lose weight I counted points, which at the time was a glorified way of counting calories. It did a great job of helping me learn about portion and was instrumental in me losing 35 lbs, but it also created an obsession with numbers.

Be it points or the number on the scale, I was a wee bit obsessed and not always in a positive, helpful way. A lot changed - I learned more about healthy eating and real food.

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and went gluten & dairy free.

I lost more weight in an unhealthy way after my break up then gained it all back + more. But I remained obsessed with numbers and the scale until I stopped counting points and banished the scale. I found freedom in not weighing myself and viewing all food as choices, rather than good or bad foods that had a number attached.

In doing so, I found a balance with healthy eating and finding those goods feelings inside myself - not based on any number. So I was resistant to try using the containers because I didn't want to feel restricted / inhabited / confined to numbers again.

In the 21 Day Fix system, the containers help with portions, focusing on whole foods and gives you a system to follow (each colour represents a food group). You count the number of each container you have each day, but those are the only numbers to follow. Watching my challengers and fellow coaches follow this plan and have super results was incredibly inspiring and I also wanted to really understand the program. Yah, I could read about and learn everything there was to know - but that's very different than actually DOING!

With all of the traveling I did this summer, I also had let a lot of treats creep into my daily routine. Treats are great and delicious - but they should actually be a treat, not a daily occurrence. 

21 Day Fix meal plan

So with all of that in mind, I declared that I was going ALL IN in October, committing to a full 21 days of the program and giving the containers a go. 

I loved all the variety in the workouts. There are 7 different workouts that you're doing, so over 3 weeks you only do each workout 3 times. I really enjoyed seeing myself get stronger each time I did a workout - be it with heavier weights, the ability to do more reps, use better form or not have to modify. I started out with 3, 5 and 10 lbs weights. I'm about ready to retire the 3's and need to pick up some 8's!! 

I find Autumn to be very motivating (and am also motivated by the handsome, bearded men in the workout - hah!!) She is fierce, but not scary. I want to work harder because of the things that she says!!
21 day fix meals for the day

I committed to the meal plan last week and found a few interesting things:
  • Planning is key- I knew that going in and do like to have a meal plan each week, but ensuring that you get the correct number of containers each day definitely requires some thoughtfulness and planning. If you have everything on hand, and can make a few big things to help you get through the week, you're golden!
  • There are so many snacks - I'm not usually a snacker, but in order to get in all of my containers for the day I was required to change that, which was actually awesome! My energy levels were stable and I felt like I was eating so much food. I also tried out a bunch of new, fun snack recipes and will be incorporating them into my routine. 

gluten free pumpkin muffin 21 day fix

  • I didn't feel restricted - I enjoyed having a plan to follow and I didn't feel like I was depriving myself because there was so much food. Counting containers didn't freak me out like I was worried it might and it was great to have a goal to work towards. 
  • More protein please - the meal plan forced me to focus on protein, which was a good thing! I was having protein at most meals and incorporating it into my snacks as well, which was great. 
  • Let's change things up a bit - I tried some new recipes that I really enjoyed. I made a bunch from the Fixate Cookbook and some from the 21DFX meal plan book. I haven't talked about this on the blog yet, but I started eating meat again back in the spring (it was part of my recovery after I was sick...) I'm focused on eating ethical meat from quality sources, and still eating a predominantly plant-based diet that is gluten & dairy free. It's been an interesting transition for sure, but I feel amazing. Cooking with meat is still foreign to me, so it's been good to try some new recipes and find new favourites. 

turkey chili 21 day fix

Some of my favourite meals included: Shakeology smoothies in the morning, big salads with tofu, hummus & lots of veggies, chili, taco salad, cashew & oat hot cakes and eggs with veggies & goat cheese. 

gluten free pancakes 21 day fix

Some of my favourite snacks were: sliced fruit with nut butter, plain (goat) yogurt with fruit & seeds, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin energy bites. 

gluten free pumpkin bites 21 day fix snack

I'm proud to report that on Sunday I finished Day 21 of the program and did a week of the container system. And as a result, I dropped 6 inches - not bad for 3 weeks!! I didn't take my own advice and didn't do progress photos -- I need to find a spot in my new house to take them! 

Autumn Calabrese bobblehead

I am proud to have completed all 21 days and am looking forward to more workouts with Autumn come the new year! I am going to be using more of the 21 Day Fix recipes (and continuing to play with the Fixate cookbook) and I think I will follow the meal plan hardcore again come January. 

If this sounds like a program you would like to try (either Extreme or the original) I would love to have you join me in one of our upcoming challenge groups! You can do anything for 21 days! 30 minutes a day at home + colour coded containers + support?? Totally manageable - and I'd be with you every step of the way! 

Where are my fellow 21 Day Fix-ers at? What is your favourite workout? Do you have a favourite 21 Day Fix approved recipe?