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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5 Questions with…Rebecca McCabe!

Our  5 Questions’ series continues! Meet Rebecca McCabe. She is a 60-day challenger in our Andover location and we chose to feature her for a few reasons!

First, she has seen AMAZING results in such a brief amount of time doing the barre n9ne® 60 Day Challenge. She began on June 1, 2012 and has lost 12.4 pounds and 13.75 inches! She has a completely new mindset and outlook on her healthy, fit, and happy lifestyle! She, like some of our new challengers when they first start out, was wary of actually eating *more* calories than she previously had been. She worried about gaining weight.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s truly the opposite! Fuel your body with real, wholesome foods, stay active (10,000+ steps a day!) and work up a sweat in any of our fabulous barre n9ne® studio classes, and the inches and pounds will literally come off.

Rebecca is a gleaming example of this! We are so proud of her, for trusting us, the approach, and going full-force into the challenge, seeing amazing results and realizing she can have things like PEANUT BUTTER again! Congratulations Rebecca!

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Why did you decide to do the barre n9ne challenge (and when did you start)? 

I started the 60 Day Challenge in June, about a month after I started to take classes in Andover and I never imagining the impact it would have on my life.  After my first class in Andover, I knew I was in love with barre.  I’ve danced all my life, and these classes were right up my alley. I’ve tried countless times to lose weight, sometimes with success and sometimes not.  I would definitely categorize myself as a yo-yo dieter: always being on a diet, or “starting my diet tomorrow.”  As I learned about the challenge, it just seemed so different from anything I’d ever tried, a life changing experience, not just a 60-day experience.  Seeing as my previous attempts at losing weight had failed, I had no doubt that I wanted to give this a try.

What were you doing previously (if anything) for fitness?

My main form of fitness prior to the challenge was dance; dancing once a week for about an hour and a half (my favorite hour and half of the week)!  An hour and a half of dance is great, but exercising once a week, I know just doesn’t cut it!

I was also an on again, off again runner.  I would start to run for 2-3 weeks everyday, then I’d get bored and stop for a long time.  My expectation was that running would help me lose weight, and when I didn’t see results, I would just stop.  I didn’t really have any real goals with running; I was just running without a purpose.

I had a mentality of “all or nothing.” I would work out really hard (everyday), and track calories (1,000/day).  However, the minute I stopped doing one thing, I would give up entirely, in large part to the fact that my exercise and calorie regime was completely unrealistic and unsustainable.

Did you have any reservations going into the challenge? Or any skepticism?

I remember being in the meeting for the first challenge as Tanya was going over the program.  I believe she said: I’ll start with the easiest step of the challenge and lead to the hardest.  The first three steps seemed like they were going to be challenging, but I wouldn’t say I was skeptical.  I recognize that they were all very essential parts of a successful lifestyle, and would help me attain the changes I was looking to make.  The 4th step however gave me many reservations:

  • STEP 1: 64 oz of water….PLAIN WATER! I am someone who NEVER EVER consumed PLAIN water.  I have endless packages of various Crystal Light packs stocked in my pantry because I used them all the time, even carrying them in my purse to restaurants.  The very thought of having to drink 64 oz. of this bland substance, seemed like an impossible mission….and this was supposed to be the easiest part?  I had some reservations about my ability to complete this task, but I completely understood the rationale.  With determination I knew it could be done!
  • STEP 2: Take 10,000 steps/day! I actually thought that this part of the challenge would be easy for me.  I’m a physical therapist at a hospital, so I figured I’m moving around for a good portion of the day, so that’s not too bad…..but after putting my fitbit (pedometer) on for a day, I quickly learned that 10,000 steps/day is a lot more than I had anticipated. I realized how much of the day I spent sitting down for one reason or another.  This too was going to be a challenge that I knew would just require me becoming more aware of how much I was moving, and making an effort to get up and about more.
  • STEP 3: No artificial sweeteners. Well, aside from the 4 packs a day of Crystal Light that I was consuming, I knew that this part of the challenge would NOT be a problem for me.  I’m not a coffee or tea drinker, so the only thing that I had to really get rid of the the crystal light, and if I have to drink 64 oz. of plain water, then there would be no need for artificial sweeteners.
  • STEP 4: STICK TO YOUR NUMBER!!!!  And this is where I had all my skepticism.  When I first started this challenge I was eating 1,000-1,100 calories/day.  I had “dieted” before (in college) eating 1,000 calories/day and lost a lot of weight, which I later gained back.  Leading up to the challenge I was back to “dieting.”  I had lost 6 pounds in 1 month, eating at this number!  So, in the back of mind I contemplated not changing my number, not even addressing how much I was eating, just sticking to STEPS 1 – 3, while eating 1,000 calories/day, figuring I’d definitely have success. It’s such a hard concept to grasp: eat more, and lose more.  I just thought I was the exception…. “yes, everyone else can eat their number, but I’ve done this for so long now (eating low calories) that my body’s just used to it, and that if I try to eat more, my body will want to store it!” I was convinced that this would never work for me. I did in the end decide to discuss my number with the staff, who gave me a number, a number that was a complete compromise, because my reservations about eating high calories was so big.  About a week into the challenge, as I started becoming more active on the facebook page it became clear to me that I really needed to take the full plunge, and give this challenge my all.  Why put all the effort into most of the challenge, if I wasn’t going give it 100%!

What have your results been – both physical and mental?

Physically:

During my first challenge I lost 10 pounds, and 11.75 inches, fitting into clothes I’d never thought I’d get back into.  Less then a year ago I was digging through my closet trying to find something to wear for a job interview, and none of my nice clothes fit.  Today, I put those same clothes on, and not only can I get them over my hips, but they are now falling off!

Mentally:

I wouldn’t say that I’m a new person, I’m just a better me.  Somewhere on these journey, I’ve become more confident, happy, and developed the mentality that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!  This challenge has quite literally changed my life: the way I feel, how I eat and look at food.  I went from being a “dieter” to being a healthy person! I started as someone who didn’t enjoy going out because of how I looked, and now I’m someone who enjoys being out and about and can hold my head high, and with confidence in who I’ve become.

What was your biggest a-ha moment during the challenge?

I’ve had a couple of a-ha moments!  First, was probably when I saw my family for the first time since starting the challenge (about 5 weeks into it).  Their first comments being “where did all of you go!”  It was that moment, combined with my half-way point weigh-in (2 days later), that provided me with the “a-ha”…eating more really can make you lose more.  I was beaming inside, and couldn’t get over that feeling of success; that feeling that make these positive life changes were all worth it.

My second a-ha moment was going out to lunch at Cheesecake Factory.  Going out to eat was something that I’d dreaded, thinking I was going to watch my family eat pasta, or a burger, with fries, while I would be munching on a bowl of lettuce with dressing on the side.  So, when I opened my menu, I was pleasantly surprised to find a section that offered lighter options…..that didn’t just include salads.  I scanned the page, and found “Margherita Flatbread Pizza.”  I absolutely could not believe that this was even an option for me.  I had my doubts about how big this would actually be, or if would taste good……but let me tell you it was absolutely PERFECT! For 330 calories (330 calories I never would allow myself when eating 1,000 calories/day), it was by far the BEST pizza I have ever had.  This is the moment when I realized that eating out isn’t something to dread, but something to enjoy and share with great company.

How have your eating habits changed or evolved since embarking on the challenge?

Without a doubt, the biggest change I’ve experienced throughout this challenge has been my eating habits.  Prior to this challenge my meals consisted of having cereal for breakfast, a sandwich, granola bar and 100- calorie pack for lunch, and pasta or a lean cuisine for dinner, and lots of after dinner sugar free/fat free snacks.  I was consuming foods because they were low in calories, never looking at what was in these foods to make them so “low-calorie”.  The only vegetables that I ate were onions, and sometimes bell peppers (because I decided I didn’t like them) and I had never EVER had fish!

Since this challenge began, the foods I have tried and meals I have made are endless.  There wouldn’t be enough time or space for me to tell you everything I’ve tried, but I’ll give a few (unlikely) foods that I think you should definitely try, if you haven’t already: tilapia, eggplant, quinoa, and my favorite – SPAGHETTI SQUASH

Now I LOVE grocery shopping! I love piling up my shopping cart with fresh produce and exploring the aisles for new healthy options.  I’ve been amazed to learn how much processing goes into so many foods.  One of the most eye-opening experiences I had was when I encountered peanut butter with NO CALORIES! With everything I’ve learned thus far, all I could do was laugh.  I thought to myself, there is absolutely NO WAY for this to be good for me…..and quickly realized that the old me would have jumped on the opportunity to have a no calorie peanut butter, not thinking twice about what was being put into it.  One of my favorite parts of this challenge (other than experimenting with lots of new foods), has been the addition of REAL PEANUT BUTTER into my diet! Because I was eating so few calories before, real peanut butter was never an option (high calories, but lots of nutrients)…..now I think everything tastes better with a little P.B.

I also try to use my weekend to plan my meals for the week, usually making a different dinner each night.  It gives me something to look forward to every night, instead of coming home to a small little TV dinner.  It’s also more enjoyable to eat, because I know how much time and effort I spent putting everything together.

Lastly, dessert is something that I absolutely love, and would never go without. Thanks to the barre n9ne® banana peanut butter ice cream, dessert is both delicious and nutritious.

What motivates you to continue the challenge and what advice do you have for anyone embarking on the 60 day challenge?

What motivates me to keep going…..WHAT DOESN’T?!  I love the classes, I feel better about myself, I love that nothing gets easier, but I’m still getting stronger, I love the people that I’ve met, and I love how much my life has changed for the better.  What motivates me is that I still have “a-ha” moments, that I’m still growing as a person, and I continue to be challenged each day through class, making the right food choices, getting all those steps in, and drinking that water.

Since embarking on this challenge, I decided I wanted to complete a half-marathon.  It’s always been something I put on the back burner, but never really gone for it. So, TODAY, while I was running around the lake, going on my longest run (ever), I just thought to myself, anything is possible.  It’s not that running is a part of the challenge, but I feel that since starting this challenge, I’ve gained this mentality that literally anything is possible, if you put in the effort.  When I started this challenge, I thought it would be impossible to drink the water, walk 10,000 everyday, eat “real” food, but I’ve done it.  I LOVE that this challenge has made me feel that nothing is impossible, and that’s what keeps me going back for more!

Advice:

My best advice would be to embrace this challenge with open arms.  If you’re skeptical (as I was at first), I’m telling you, just give it a try!  These instructors are all great, and knowledgable….utilize their knowledge and TRUST them.  If something’s not working for you, let them help you. To me, this challenge is a community of wonderful people all striving to make changes in our lives for the better! This challenge is the best gift that you could give to yourself: believe in yourself!

Some helpful tips that have worked for me: planning makes all the difference in the world! If you are able to determine ahead of time what your schedule will be like the next day(s) you’ll know when you need to fit in some extra time for walking, so you’re not walking in circles around your house at 11:45pm (unless that’s what you like to do), or making sure you have snacks on hand. Planning can get you excited about what your next day/week has to offer.

NO ONE SAID IT WOULD BE EASY, THEY SAID IT WOULD BE WORTH IT!

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

I have a love – hate relationship with the side-lying leg lifts (for the side swoop) – they are SO painful, but I LOVE the challenge, and they always leave me SORE (in a good way)!

I just want to finish by saying THANK YOU to this amazing barre n9ne® staff!  This challenge has without a doubt changed by life for the better.  I’ve learned so much about a true healthy lifestyle and feel like I’ve grown so much as a person.  The wonderful B9 staff has been incredible; they are so helpful, encouraging and motivating.  There aren’t enough positive words to describe the impact this challenge has had on me.  Anyone who talks to me for more than 5 minutes, knows about barre n9ne®…….it has become such an integral part of who I am.  I look forward to completing this challenge, and many more to come!

Rebecca’s amazing results!!

Rebecca ‘barren9ne’ing’ it on her way to work – bring on CHAIR!