All about barre-style workouts, what inspires me and tips on healthy eating for life

5 questions with Rochelle Cooper

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Today we are celebrating the barre-versary of Rochelle Cooper, one of our amazing clients at the studio who, one year ago, started the 60-day challenge. Since then, after embracing every single aspect of the challenge (and then some!), she has emerged as a beautiful, strong and fit, totally transformed woman. We’re sharing her story with you all here, in her (very beautiful) words. Congratulations, Rochelle, we love you! 

~Tanya

Why did you decide to do the barre n9ne challenge (and when did you start)?
Barre n9ne challenge was my total savior. About a year after having my second child, I was at an all-time low (or high…depending on how you look at it) in terms of my body image and overall happiness.  I had gained about 50 pounds with each of my pregnancies.  The person that I saw when I looked in the mirror was just not “me”  and, frankly, just made me sad. At that point, I was so miserable that I would avoid being in pictures with my kids (I did not want my kids or anyone else to remember me that way) and would detest social events because I dreaded getting dressed for them. I was still wearing maternity garb (the horror!) and hiding in stretchy clothes (if it had a button or a zipper, I was definitely not having it).  It is sad, but I had totally given up on myself and actually had the thought one day, “Maybe this is just the way I am supposed to look in my role as ‘Rochelle the mom.'”

Ummmm….HELL NO!?! I started my first barre n9ne challenge on August 1st of last year.  I ran into Erica Brown (of b9 instructor fame), a friend that I have known since middle school, at the Endicott Park playground one day. She looked so amazingly fit and happy.  I asked her, “What are you doing?” and she gave me the low-down on b9.  She had done the challenge after having twins and was totally my inspiration. She then mentioned that she was starting a new challenge called the “Skinny Jeans Challenge”.  The deal was officially sealed. If, after 60 days, I would be wearing skinny jeans or any jeans at all for that matter, I was “IN”.  That day I went home and emailed Tanya about signing up for a challenge. I had NO idea what barre was — all I knew was that I needed to do something.  I remember emailing back and forth with Tanya and saying, “Just tell me what to do and I will work my ass off (literally).” It was game on. 

What were you doing previously (if anything) for fitness?
Nothing! Now matter how much I tried to justify it, chasing my kids around all day could NOT be considered “fitness”!!

Finding time for yourself as a mom can be tricky.  You kind of get sucked into this world where YOUR needs are last on the list. The limited amount of free time you have gets filled up with things like laundry, showering, maybe grocery shopping.  I would say things like, “How am I supposed to find time to exercise? I barely have two seconds to myself!” It just did not seem possible. Leaving to do any kind of exercise felt selfish and I had a lot of guilt about it.  Like, why am I doing this when there are about 7 loads of laundry to be done!? 

Did you have any reservations going into the challenge? Or any skepticism?
No, I was totally ready! I knew after seeing Erica and chatting with Tanya that I was going to make this happen for myself no matter what.  It was like I was given a game plan to follow — steps, classes, water, my number.  I just had to follow the game plan and work my butt off and I would be golden.

Also, I had no idea about barre so I was kind of happy-go-lucky about it all! I remember bee-bopping into my first class with Tanya with sneakers on and seeing everyone on their mats with bare feet.  I was like, “You mean, you don’t need sneakers for this? It should be a cinch!” and then, afterwards, I practically crawled out of the class on my hands and knees saying, “Whhhat just happened?”

 What have your results been – both physical and mental?
My physical results have been incredible.  I have lost jussst about 40 pounds and a boatload of inches. I have gone down 3 dress sizes.  My flexibility is improving and my balance has come a long way! I look at my arms and legs and don’t even recognize them. My butt, though a mere shell of its former self, is still holding on for dear life…but I am good with that. This is definitely my best physical self of all time.  Which, after having two kids, feels pretty darn amazing.  (Did you just applaud?)  I go into my closet now and it is a place of bliss because clothes that I wore when I was 25 are too big for me now. (Finally! An excuse to get rid of those high-waisted Monica Gellar jeans!)  And, the jeans I was trying to squeeze into after 60 days of the challenge have been given to goodwill and traded in for a much skinnier and sexier pair.

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Because of the awesome Barre to 5k page I have started running, too.  I have done a few 5k races and I am training to run the Tufts 10K in October.  A major goal for me because I ran it right BEFORE having my kids. 

Also, I especially love situations where I can prove how  freakishly strong I have become from doing barre. For instance, when I am in Market Basket carrying 4 gallons of milk AND my two year old and the clerk asks me if I need help I can say, “No. I’ve totally got this.”  Or when I am in a parking lot carrying  5 beach chairs I can say, “Yeah, I’ll grab the cooler, too.” 😉 

All kidding aside, there is definitely a feeling of empowerment that comes along with being fit and strong. The positive mental results have been insurmountable. As a result of this journey, I have become a better wife, mom, and overall woman.   I smile and laugh WAY more.  Taking time for myself now feels essential and not at all selfish.  Everyone in my family benefits from me being in a good place. Now, I crave barre and running.  If I DON’T exercise I get so grouchy!

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What was your biggest a-ha moment during the challenge?
My first a-ha moment was definitely the time I weighed out 2 oz. of pasta and 5 oz. of wine. I had never counted calories in my life, so it was totally eye-opening.  I was like, “Annnnd herein lies the problem.” I was pretty much eating my day’s worth of calories in one sitting. 

In addition, I have recognized the importance of managing eating AND staying active. It is a perfect symbiosis.  I have never managed to mesh the two before.  If I was exercising a lot, I would always eat more and say, “Well, I ran on the treadmill so I can totally eat this bag of cheese curls.” OR I would do the complete opposite of starving myself and NOT exercising. 

How have your eating habits changed or evolved since embarking on the challenge?
My eating habits have done a complete 180 degree flip since embarking on the challenge.  I had gotten to a pretty bad place with eating. I am home with my kids so it got to the point where I told myself there “wasn’t time”  to eat during the day.  I would be running around crazy, “forget to eat breakfast” and raccoon things like sandwich crusts and fishies off of their plates for lunch.  Then, I would be so starving at dinner that I would have a HUGE meal that usually involved a second helping.  I would drink coffee all day and essentially no water and wonder why I was exhausted! 

 Now, I make sure to eat throughout the day.  My quick breakfast is usually a yogurt with granola and fruit.  But I will often times feed my kids then make myself an egg white omelet or egg sandwich on toast.  I also always sit down to eat lunch with my kids now.  When I make their lunch, I make one for myself and sit down to eat with them.  It’s good connection time for us and it gives me a chance to refuel.  In the afternoon I make sure to have a snack, too.  Oh, and two dark chocolate Hershey kisses. 🙂 And, at dinner, I usually make a side salad instead of having a second helping.  Logging my food and planning for the day definitely keeps me on track.  I love the My Fitness Pal app on my phone because I can log my food while doing steps or waiting in line, etc.  Also, I cannot live without my food scale and measuring cups! I have a little “measuring center” on my kitchen counter so that they are easily accessible — no excuses! And, if I do not drink my huge jug of water I feel like I am going to shrivel up like a raisin.

I am definitely a person who has always loved to eat, My husband and I come from Italian backgrounds where eating is a central part of family and life. I think the challenge worked so well for me because I did not feel deprived. No one was telling me, “You can’t drink wine” or “You can only eat grapefruit.” I think If someone said, “No more pasta, no more pizza, no more wine, no more chocolate, etc.” I would cry 🙂 So, the fact that I have a certain amount of calories each day to play with is very freeing.  I have learned to make healthy choices that will keep me full longer and give me energy rather than grabbing the first thing that appeals to me in the cabinet.  I also have learned to enjoy me some good stuff.  A wise woman once coined the phrase, “Commit to the cookie.” In other words, if I want to enjoy that chocolate chip cookie, I am going to do it and enjoy every bite of it dammit.  I just have to factor it into my number and maybe not follow it up with a brownie sundae 😉 

What motivates you to continue the challenge and what advice do you have for anyone embarking on the 60 day challenge?
My kids are the hugest source of motivation.  Throughout this journey, they have really taken notice of my lifestyle change. To me, the most profound result of this is the fact that my kids are learning how to be healthy from me.  It is amazing to me that my 2 year old knows the word “exercise” and runs around the house like a maniac saying that he is “exercising” like me (Do I really look like that when I run, Buddy?).  He also knows the words “Fitbit” and “pedometer” 😉 Today my 4 year old asked me to go running with him simply because we are “running pals” and he wants to run all the way to his school with me.   He didn’t even care that it was raining out. Both my kids love going to Monkey Barre and seeing where “Mommy exercises” and that makes me proud.  Also, to have my kids see that a woman can be strong is important to me (I have two boys).  I love that I can say, “Mommy can lift it,” instead of saying, “Let me call Daddy to lift that.”  My husband has also been a big motivator throughout my journey.  He truly believes in the “happy wife, happy life” school of thought and I could not have done it without his love, support and an infinite amount of high fives.

Also, I just feel great overall.  I have loved seeing the results I have worked hard for and reaping their benefits.  I feel strong, powerful and fit.  Like I could conquer the world or something…

The other b9 ladies are also a huge motivating factor.  I could not have done all this without them.  I have made some great friends through this whole experience–b9 ladies are strong, amazing people. Tanya, all of the instructors, and my fellow b n9ners are truly a family that has kept me laughing, working hard, and feeling supported.  If ever there is a day where I am feeling down or lazy, all I need to do is check in to the Facebook page to see who’s just run 5 miles or who’s legs and butt are broken because of an intense glute series.  It keeps me honest and gets me up off my butt.  In this past year, I have had the chance to witness many an amazing transformation–you other ladies have been so inspiring!

Advice for future challengers–DO IT!! Embrace every aspect and it works.  Don’t look at it like a diet, approach it like you are changing your life.  You will be transformed.  Do your steps, drink your water, stay within your number, go to class and join the FB page.  Take the tools and run with them.  You’ve totally got this. 

Bonus question! What is your favorite and least favorite barre n9ne® signature ‘move’ and why?

Favorite would definitely be a killer plank series. In the beginning, I could not even hold myself up in a plank, so know I love seeing how far I can push myself.  I also love thigh dancing because, let’s face it, who the heck doesn’t love a good thigh dance?

Least favorite would be glutes at the bar AND glutes on the mat simply because I always feel like my form is horrendous and I am leaning to one side.  I also have a LOVE/HATE relationship with “chair” because it kills me every time but it hurts so good. 

Regardless of it all, ANY time at the barre is a GOOD time!  If you see me, come say “hi” — I will be the chick shaking and making crazy faces! 🙂

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