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


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Staying ‘focused on fit’ for summer: amp.it.up.

You know the drill…the unofficial start to summer – Memorial Day weekend. Food abounds, cookouts aplenty and oh, the drinks, let’s not forget those. Wine, beer, sangria, the works! Summer is one of those times that really tests willpower and this lifestyle, in a sense, because there are so many more ‘triggers’ to fall off track, more social activity, more vacations and time off away from routine and suddenly, that fit lifestyle slides out the window.

But rather than allow yourself to slide, why not use this unofficial start to summer to amp it up? Re-focus, or focus even more keenly on this fit lifestyle you’ve created for yourself, steps, steps, steps, (and/or runs!), logging your eats and getting those sweatastic classes in.

I remember kicking off my 60 day challenge just about two years ago and thinking Memorial Day weekend would be my first big ‘test’ to whether I could be in a setting filled with temptations, and drinks, and walk away from it successful.

And was I successful? You better believe I was – I had my eye on the prize, inches and pounds lost, and that was not going to change for a cookout, or many cookouts throughout the course of the summer. I found my happy medium of eating foods that would fuel me (lean proteins, veggies, and fruit) and planning for, and allowing myself, the glasses of wine that I wanted far MORE than the potato salad, pasta salad, and chips and dip. I knew those things would taste good in the moment but later? I’d be feeling empty and hungry, even, and not as satisfied, had I stuck with my food plan.

So, as you head into the holiday weekend, and summer, generally, why not use this as a chance to challenge yourself to stick with it – because this is a lifestyle, not a short term ‘diet’ – and even step it up – pun intended – add more steps to your day, tweak your workout schedule, and get creative with the fabulous summer fruits and veggies coming into bloom?

Whether you are officially doing our 60 day challenge, or not, here are some ways to renew your focus on being FIT for summer, because let’s face it, it’s hard to stay motivated, slide 49ff730f6516b366c9d807c295de629ea6f0f1c67b637eac13b28803fea3d6c3into comfort zones or old habits and it feels easier to just stick with the status quo…but instead, why not challenge it head on?

Here are our tips to stay FOCUSED ON FIT for spring!

  • Commit to your number, no if’s and’s or but’s. Even if you aren’t doing the challenge officially, but have in the past, why not follow along ‘virtually?’ Renew your focus on your number, plan ahead, and stick to that number! Don’t ‘count as you go’ and find yourself over your calories, or the reverse, have TOO MANY calories at the end of the day – plan plan plan. That’s truly the key to success – plan ahead, eat when you’re hungry, not out of habit, and keep your body fueled!
  •  Focus on your trouble spots with a little ‘at home’ b9 action. Commit to an extra round of situps, tricep dips on the edge of the couch or on a mat, stretching to loosen and lengthen tight muscles, back dancing to tone that tush…you can do all of these things while you watch TV! Who wants to watch commercials, anyway? 😉
  • Drink more water, stay hydrated! It is amazing what a little extra water can do to keep you more awake, less hungry, staving off the ‘hungry horrors’ and, as we all love to hate them…PMS cravings!
  • Choose. Yes, choose. What do you want more? Wine? Cake? Appetizer? When it comes to cookouts or parties or just a date night out, do your best to choose between everything and pick ONE, and enjoy it to the fullest. I guarantee you’ll feel better and enjoy it more than if you chose all three – the wine, the cake and the appetizer.
  • Amp up your cardio. If you’re a runner, tack on an extra 10 mins to one run a week, if you’re a walker, bump up your steps to 15K, if you’re a swimmer, swim a few extra laps. The key is – stay moving and bump it up! 
  • Switch up the classes you are taking, or take an extra one every other week. Surprise your body with something new! Long & Lean Legs if you usually take Cardio, Cardio if you usually take Fusion! Keep your body guessing and it will keep changing and transforming!

A lifestyle change takes time, but once you really commit to it, and treat it as just that – a lifestyle – it won’t feel like ‘work’ but natural. We encourage you to look at this way, because that is truly what it is, a lifestyle that is achievable, maintainable and natural. And we challenge YOU to stay focused on fit as we head into summer. What do you have to lose but inches, right? See you at the barre!

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Tips for staying within your number, out of your routine

This time of year brings upon travel, lack of routine, and stress. Jolene can relate, which is why we decided to have her guest post today on our blog on this topic. Her full time job requires travel- and not just to CT or NY where the time zone is the same, but to LA, Texas and the like. So not only does traveling in general throw a curve ball to someone who is trying to eat healthy and plan ahead, but the time change doesn’t help much either. Read below for some tips on how to stay turn to your health and fitness goals, even on the road.

Tanya

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As my job requires a fair amount of travel, and I also love to travel in my spare time (and feel so grateful to have the opportunity TO travel quite a bit!), I wanted to share some tips I’ve mentally collected as I travel, for business, and for pleasure. As I was going through the inaugural 60 day challenge, one of my biggest fears was how on earth I was going to stay in my number, fitting in workouts and steps, and focused on continuing the lifestyle I was cultivating for myself. (I started my job about 6 months before the challenge began) But as I’ve continued in this lifestyle for the past year and a half, I’m always amazed at how much easier and more ingrained it becomes, especially when I travel.  Because let’s face it, when you have all of the tools (hello barre n9ne® classes!), the access to the right foods and control over your schedule and meals, it’s relatively easy to stay on track…especially when you then compare that to traveling, where all of that routine is stripped away bare.

So here are my tips for staying in your number when you’re traveling,  or otherwise out of your (controllable!) routine (a lot of these tips also apply to when you’re out to dinner with coworkers etc, where you have less ability to control your food).

Restaurants should be a luxury, not an ‘everyday’ thing. But when restaurants become an everyday thing because you are traveling and have zero access to homecooked meals…look at restaurants and dining out as a ‘necessary evil’ and as I’ve said in a prior post, ‘be normal.’ It may be tempting to look at the menu, and going into it, having every intention of bypassing the bread, the appetizers and the sauce-laden entrees, but then, once amid the social atmosphere of your coworkers, you decide to choose a heavier than planned for entree.  Instead, switch your focus and think of this meal as a necessity. You aren’t going out to dinner because of your choice to do so (where, when I go out to dinner, I go rarely, and take that occasion to pick one of my favorite restaurants, and really enjoy it, for the experience and atmosphere, combined with a good, real-food meal), you are doing it because you have to. So, if you were at home and making dinner for yourself, would you make the sauce-laden curried rice and beef dish or would you go for the piece of grilled chicken or steak with light vegetables and a salad, maybe a baked potato? You’d probably go for the latter, or at least I would, so switch your focus and choose smartly. And save that perhaps heavier meal for a time when you truly want to, and plan ahead for it.

Be prepared. When flying (or driving or any sort of travel where you’re hours away from your destination, with at least one meal to contend with), be prepared. It sounds ‘no-duh’ but it truly goes hand in hand with the above tip, if you plan ahead and ‘be normal’ – would you really go somewhere where you know you’ll be away from your own food options without packing something sensible? Probably not. So do the same here. Pack fruit (apples, bananas, pears are good options with lots of fiber), 90 calorie peanut butter packets, 100 calorie nuts, even packets of oatmeal that you can make easily with hot water. Pack Healthy Bites (if you’re me!) for a quick 50-calorie pick me up that will surprise you with how long it sticks with you. You’ll more easily bypass the snack tray on your flight, filled with empty calories – Fritos, chips and cookies – and be more satisfied, longer, with your own options. This is one of the only times I also suggest an energy bar as a meal replacement, if you’re traveling through a meal. Choose one that has real ingredients listed first (or the only things listed!), that has anywhere from 170-230 cals and 10-15 grams of protein for the most staying power. Kind, Simply Bar, Larabar (these have less protein, however, more fiber!), and some of the Zone Perfect bars (natural varieties) are some of the options I go for most. When you get to the airport, scope out a snack stand that has yogurt, and choose an all natural, organic, or Greek yogurt style. These pack protein, fiber and calcium that will also sustain you longer. And soon enough you’ll realize you just endured a long flight without a) blowing your calories on empty snacks or b) being forced to choose higher calorie breakfast or lunch options at the airport or drive through because you have no other option (other than starve…and who wants to do that?!).

Get on a (revised) schedule. For me, when I travel, it’s typically cross-country and across three time zones. Where suddenly, I’m thrown into a limbo of hunger at the ‘wrong’ times – immediately when I wake up (because my body things it is breakfast, which I typically eat around 9 am), yet it is only 6 am, to lunchtime cravings at all of 9 am Pacific time (when it feels like noon!). And suddenly, you’re faced with figuring out how to quell your hunger cues, while balancing the fact that you have three extra hours in your day to contend with, and your meals are all thrown off. The best advice I can give is to try and ‘get on schedule’ with whatever time zone you are in, as fast as possible. For me, that means spacing our my breakfast as slowly as possible so I am not starving by the time lunchtime rolls around (feeling like 3 pm in my brain!), while also balancing out my calories so I’m not ‘out’ of calories by mid-afternoon. Instead of one ‘bigger’ breakfast of my go-to oatmeal that I enjoy at home, I’ll instead eat a two-step smaller breakfast, essentially half my calories for breakfast at around 7 am Pacific time, and the other half around 9 am Pacific time, so I quell my hunger but also ‘get on schedule’ with the time zone I am in. This usually means a yogurt or nuts or a banana and peanut butter around 7, and an energy bar or packet of 100 calorie unsweetened oatmeal with peanut butter (about half the calories of my typical oatmeal goodness made at home).

When traveling or out of your routine, and out of your control, don’t let that become your excuse for not eating ‘normally’empower yourself by being prepared and choosing wisely, and staying within your number when traveling or out to dinner with coworkers etc., won’t be nearly as difficult as you may think.


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On mindfulness.

We have such an awesome group of instructors at barre n9ne®, which I am forever grateful for. Although I love writing blog posts, I know that you don’t just want to hear from me all the time 🙂  I am delighted that Jolene decided to write a post on mindful eating today. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
– Tanya
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As we approach the eating holiday season, there are naturally treats galore to tempt, tempt, tempt. And rather than feel like you are heading into the holidays either feeling deprived, ‘battling the food log’ or feel the urge to throw caution to the wind, I thought I would share some food for thought (pun semi-intended!) to help you get into a good mindset as you dive into Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and every party or gathering you attend this holiday season.

Use the food log as a tool and a guide. For those that use a food log, and count calories (and even for those that don’t!), this sounds simple, but it is easy to see the log as ‘the enemy’ or something you are a slave to, but ultimately, it is your secret weapon to get you through the holidays without feeling deprived, with the ability to enjoy that glass or two of wine, or that special pie your Gram always makes on Christmas Eve.  “Back load’ your log on days that you have a holiday party. Eat a lighter breakfast and lunch, but choose fueling options, like cottage cheese with strawberries, or Greek yogurt with fresh pineapple, both super high in protein, fiber and calcium, that will keep you fuller longer. Using your best judgement, plan your evening’s food options. Focus on vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, and use sauces and cheeses more sparingly. Or, if you are like me, you’d rather forgo the bread or the mashed potatoes in favor of a glass or two of wine. You’ll be surprised how little you miss the ‘usual’ staple items, like mashed potatoes when you are fueled up on lean proteins and vegetables that will keep you feeling satisfied.

Listen to your internal cues. Eat slowly, savor the food you are enjoying but more importantly, focus on the conversations, the family and friends you rarely get to see, and the food becomes a natural backdrop, vs. the center of attention. For me, I naturally eat more freely at my own family’s homes, and when it is at an acquaintance’s home, tend to eat less, being more reserved. My trick when at a family’s home for dinner is to pretend that I AM at an acquaintance’s home for a party, and that intuitively makes me eat less, and focus much more on the people around me. And I stop, gauge whether I am truly still hungry or if that bowl of chips is tricking me into feeling hungry (when I know that bowl of chips won’t actually satisfy me at all!).

Enjoy the food you are eating and be at peace with your choices. When you are at peace with what you are eating, and are focused primarily on foods that fuel and sustain you, with a ‘dash’ of those things you MOST want (again, for me, that would be a glass or two of wine!), you will become more mindful, naturally of your eats. And feel less struggle and internal battles against food.  It takes time, it takes a lot of practice, and a boatload of patience, but when you really step back and think about the food choices you are making and if they’ll successfully fill you up and energize you, you’ll naturally veer towards those foods again and again.

Lastly, be ‘normal.’ This one may sound weird, but the advice I always give myself when I am making food choices is to simply eat normally. What would I eat on a normal day that doesn’t include a meal out or a dinner party. Would I eat an appetizer at home on a normal evening, plus a roll, plus dessert and a half bottle of wine? Probably not. So why do that at a dinner party or dining out? Choose the one thing that you would NOT eat normally (say, that delicious piece of bread at Not Your Average Joe’s that clocks in at 200 calories) but really enjoy, and plan for it. But if you wouldn’t go all out at home on a regular basis, why do that when out of your ‘food routine?’

We hope these tips help you as you focus on the holidays ahead, while also balancing the enjoyment and magic of the holidays, and staying focused on your 60 day challenge journey, or your lifestyle change that you’ve embarked on, to live a healthy, happy, fit life.

Cheers,

Jolene


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Why the barre n9ne challenge changed my perspective. By Jolene Bonina

It might sound dramatic, but honestly, the barre n9ne challenge has changed my life in many ways, and most certainly, my perspective. You may be wondering how a workout could have that affect on me, but it has, and here’s why.

  • I view food as fuel, not happiness. I never thought I had an emotional tie to food, but going into this challenge, I most certainly did. I thought sticking with my ‘number’ would be insanely difficult in the summer, especially, where there are cookouts abounding, drinks aflowing and goodies everywhere you look. But with Tanya’s guidance, I was able to navigate many cookouts and weddings too, sticking within my number (or as close as possible) without feeling deprived. This was one of my biggest a-ha moments and is why I plan to stick with this way of eating forever. It doesn’t end with the challenge. This is a lifestyle change (and yes, I was still able to fit in my beloved wine on weekends and not starve myself. It is possible!!)
  • I’ll never go to a gym again. (except the dreadmill in the throes of winter). I’ve already canceled my gym membership, and will only open a new one (when I move next month) soley for the dreadmill in the winter. This is a huge departure for me. I have had a gym membership for as long as I can remember. I remember moving to Beverly almost 5 years ago and trying to ‘time’ when one membership would end and when the next would start, so I wouldn’t have a gap in memberships. I went to my boyfriend’s gym at his apartment today just to stay active while he did a weight workout. Damn, I was bored. There were no machines that interested me, nothing. I just wanted to do plies and maybe even some dreaded love to hate planks. barre n9ne is where I wanted to be. It is where I plan to be, 4-5 days a week, sticking with the best and hardest workouts I have ever done.
  • I am starting to love, not hate, my body. Prior to the barre n9ne challenge, I was heading for a dark place, mentally, when it came to my body image. I tore myself apart. I hated how I looked and didn’t know if it was because I was comparing myself to others, or if I had actually gained weight. I didn’t want to admit that maybe I had, but looking back at pictures prior to the challenge and now, it is clear. I most certainly did gain a few, but beyond that, I was like a hamster spinning on a wheel. My workouts were not effective. I was not seeing results. Week one of barre n9ne? Results. Need I say more?
  • I don’t miss spinning, lunges or squats. At all! When Tanya laid out our plan when we started the challenge, she requested that we do not do any other classes except hers (a very fair and valid request, given the goal was to do HER classes to see results) and do not do lunges or squats. She swore by her Legs class and as much as I was thrilled to start that class, I clung to lunges and squats at first. I panicked a little in my head, thinking that my legs wouldn’t see results without those two exercises (the ‘gym staple’). Damn, was I wrong. My legs have never looked better and I am amazed that I can even say that and believe it when I say it!

I could honestly go on and on, but I will leave you one piece of advice for those of you considering the challenge.

Immerse yourself.

Surrender to the challenge and live it, breathe it and commit to it. You won’t be dissapointed.

And, if there is any reason you are wavering against doing it, please, GO FOR IT, it will be worth every penny, every  bead of sweat, every minute of pain. (pain in a good way!). Trust me.

Tanya, thank you for giving my sister and me the challenge of a lifetime. I firmly believe you meet everyone for a reason and we met you at exactly the right time in our lives. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the barre n9ne community, to have met you and Julianna and the other fabulous instructors, and to be what I believe is just the beginning of something huge.