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Wednesday, July 27

FITNESS // Will I Lose Weight Doing Country Heat and How Can I Try It?



A few months ago I got to beta test a new workout from Beachbody called Country Heat. You might have seen me post about how surprised I was about how sweaty I got from just dancing around for a half hour. Well I've not gotten to peek at the whole program and do a bunch of the routines and I am pretty pumped to share with you about it!

First things first... what is Country Heat?

Country Heat is the newest fitness program from Beachbody. It was created by Autumn Calabrese (of 21 Day Fix fame) and is a dance based program for anybody set to country pop music. So I'll admit it. I was skeptical at first. How much of a workout is dancing going to give me? Is the music going to suck? Is it going to be super challenging routines that I won't be able to keep up with? Will I get bored? All those concerns were put to rest when Beachbody gave me early access last week to the whole program to try the routines and experience it for myself and OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS...

Do you see these numbers? I decided to put Country Heat to the test to see how the calorie burn stacked up to an intense cardio program like 22 Minute Hard Corps. So I grabbed my watch and tracked my workout. The workout was just under 30 minutes long with the last few minutes being a cool down. I was covered in sweat by the end. And I never once felt miserable or wanted to stop or got bored. I LOVED IT. I loved the music (even though I'm not a huge country music fan), I loved the moves, I loved the structure, and the energy and the entire thing was just... FUN. So as you can see in the photo above, I burned almost an identical amount of calories doing Country Heat as I did doing a cardio workout from 22 Minute Hard Corps. Which is just crazy to me because it felt so different. 22 Minute Hard Corps feels like a workout. Country Heat feels like a night out with your girlfriends and you're just dancing to music that makes you wanna move!

How is this possible? Well in Country Heat you really just don't stop moving. What I love most about it is that you are not learning a dance routine, so don't worry about having to memorize and perform a whole thing by the end. You learn two moves, you put them together and do them for a few 8 counts, and then you move on! In between moves you keep moving with a low impact side step. Its so natural you'll probably find yourself doing it without even having to think about it! The whole thing just flows so well! And more than anything... it's just fun. It's a fun way to get moving an get your cardio done. And if you're like me, and you HATE traditional cardio, then this might just be your new soulmate workout!


So the question everyone is asking me is... "Will I lose weight doing Country Heat?" I get it. We've been programmed (especially as women) to think that we have to torture and kill ourselves with cardio and at the gym to get any results. We are trained to think that workouts have to suck to be effective. But the good news is that misconception is laid to rest here. The test group participants had just ASTONISHING transformations. Why? Because this program keeps you moving and works your whole body during the dynamic movements of each dance move. And since Autumn created it, she's including her portion control container meal plan (like the one in the 21 Day Fix) that helps you make sure you are eating the right amount of food in the right proportions. No calorie counting or deprivation required!

This workout is for anyone from absolute beginner to advanced. There is even a modifier that you can follow if you need low impact versions of the jumpier moves. Keep reading, I'm gonna share more specifics about the program and how you can try it in August with me!!!



Country Heat launches this week! Today, July 27th the Challenge Pack goes live so you can get your hands on it FIRST and get everything at a huge discount! The challenge packs are the best possible savings that's available so I wanted to talk to you a little bit about them! In the photo above you'll see what's all included. As you can see it's a jackpot of goodies!

When you get the challenge pack you get... 

- 6 half hour or less workouts on DVD
- Access to Beachbody On Demand for a month where you can stream all of your Country Heat workouts digitally as well as have access to the entire library of On Demand content! (Which means you could actually do your first workout the same day you order! You can log in and stream it while you wait for your kit to come in the mail!!!)
- The entire portion control mealplan including the 7 containers and the nutrition guide full of tips and help to keep you on track
- The Quickstart Guide which gives you a quick and dirty cliffsnotes version of everything so if you're so excited and want to start the minute you open your box, you can!
- A 30 day calendar letting you know exactly which workout to do each day
- A month's supply of Shakeology in whatever flavor you choose to help you stay on track, have energy, fight sweet cravings, and fuel your body (my secret weapon!)
- Access to our private August accountability group on Facebook where I'll be checking in with you every day, giving you tips and answering questions. It's like 24/7 workout buddy support!

Is Country Heat right for me? 

Here's my honest opinion on this... If you are someone who workout out a lot and you are in amazing shape then this workout is not going to be the most challenging for you by any means, but it is an incredible way to switch up your cardio or even add in a different type of cardio for you!

If you are someone who hates to workout then absolutely YES you will love this!

If you are someone who has limitations in the workouts you can do either due to age or injury or your weight, then yes this program is going to be an amazing tool in your toolkit for you to get moving again!

If you are someone with a lot of weight to lose, so much so that you struggle to do more challenging home workouts because you just aren't there yet with your endurance and strength, then yes this will be an amazing way for you to challenge multiple muscle groups and just get moving without having to be going up and down off the floor or messing with weights.

I'm vegan/paleo/primal/vegetarian/have food allergies... can I still do the meal plan? Yes! Absolutely! and a perk of working with a coach like me is that in my challenge groups I give extra tools for people with nutrition needs that are unique so that you can shopping lists and meal plan ideas for how to tweak the portion control plan to fit your diet.

I've been joking with my friends that this program takes me back to my old high school cheerleading days of learning quick little 8 count dance routines! I love it!

Ready to try it yourself?!
My Country Heat challenge group will begin on August 8th which will give you plenty of time to get your kit in the mail, hit up the grocery store for healthy options, and set some goals with me to get the most out of August and get some results! I'll be opening up my group on August 1st to start getting to know each other and planning and prepping! I'll teach you how to navigate the portion control meal plan and walk you through the workouts all month!

More than anything though, I'll be there to help you stay accountable. You'll check in with me every day and I'll be your support system reminding you of your goals and that you can do it!

If you do not currently have a coach the first step is to make me your coach for free! It's super quick, you just click here to sign up with me for free. If you already have a coach, then make sure to reach out to them and for details on their available groups.

If you have any questions or just want to let me know that you are interested in getting Country Heat and joining me for August, fill out this contact form! Also check back later TODAY! I'll update this post with the direct links to get your packs and join me!!!


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Sunday, July 24

PERSONAL // A Letter To 2013 Self...

beachbody success becka robinson

Dear 2013 Becka,

I see you. I do. I know you think that no one does. I see your hurt and your constant struggle to re-gain some sort of recognizable parts of yourself. To grab onto some bit of confidence. I see you grasp at anything hoping this will help you out of your hole and I watch the ropes snap off in your hands leaving you without hope for any escape. I know how frustrated you are. I know how you feel like you're just treading water all day every day. I see the way you carry on. I see your exhaustion battling a disease you barely understand causing damage you don't realize you are causing. I see your struggle.

I know you are doubtful. I know you think that your future is set. I know you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into photography and you wonder how long you can keep up the pace. I know you secretly long to have weekends to spend with family and friends as your son gets bigger. I know you hate living booking to booking, wondering if you'll have enough money for the holidays. Having to miss out on birthdays and farewell parties to take extra bookings to pay the bills. But I'm here to tell you that INCREDIBLE things are on your horizon. Hold on just 1 more month! Because next month you are going to be presented with something that will change the trajectory of your future. And be brave Becka, because you're going to have to scrounge up all those last embers of faith you might have to decide to give this new lifestyle and opportunity your all in the midst of lots of naysayers.

When it comes, you are going to have to make a decision. A decision to try ONE LAST TIME or to let it pass you by. Decide to try! Find a way to make it work. Don't hide from the work. And show up every day with the best effort you can. Don't worry about those squat jumps, you'll get better. And stronger. And don't rush it. You'll slip up here and there but you're going to build an incredible community that will hold you up when you start to fall. You might not believe this but you're going to have an entire squad by your side and working alongside you! It's going to change you in all the best ways! Get ready old friend, your world is about to completely transform! Hold onto hope. I'll see you on the other side!

PS. Don't ever do bangs again, k? ;)

Love, 2016 Becka
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Wednesday, July 20

PERSONAL // One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread


Last week I was feeling icky. Not in my health or body but in my mind and soul. I was trying everything to shake the gray cloud hanging over me and I just couldn't seem to see the light. As I was talking to a close friend about it she asked me, "Becka, have you been saying your affirmations still?" And it was like a lightbulb went on above my head. I had completely stopped! I have no idea why. Just laziness probably. If you read my post earlier this week about feeling stuck you know that I already know I need to work on my routine and waking up earlier and controlling the schedule of my day instead of letting it get away from me. (Summer is hard, ya'll!)

So anyways... I started doing my daily affirmations again. I'd say them in the morning and at night. And I'd say them anytime throughout the day when I felt my mindset start to shift out of gratitude and into stress or fear or anything negative. And within just 2 days I felt like I had done a 180! You might be rolling your eyes at me but just try it for yourself and you'll see! When your thoughts are on the wrong wavelength it ripples into everything else. It's like wearing gray colored glasses that cloud everything you look at with blah.

It got me to thinking, "What else did I used to do that made me happy that I've stopped doing?" And you know what I realized? I haven't baked in months. Probably since Christmas. And I LOVE to bake. So why did I stop doing something I love? Who knows. Why do we do stupid things to ourselves? Probably because I got busy or I got lazy or I just started putting myself at the bottom of my long list of people to make happy every day. (Can I get an amen, ladies?!) But I saw some spotty bananas on our kitchen counter this week and I just knew it was a gift from the Universe. Direct from the stratosphere to my heart. Bake Becka.

So I decided to make a cleaned up version of my tried and true favorite: BANANA BREAD! I found a recipe and adapted it just slightly. This is a one bowl recipe. So it's super easy. If you have kids, they can help you mash up the bananas and mix everything in. It's so simple ya'll!

This is also a gluten free recipe and it could very easily be adapted to be fully dairy free or vegan. (Use something other than butter to grease the pan and swap out the egg for a flax egg and you're golden!) You can use honey instead of sugar if you prefer as well or play with the amounts. My bananas were pretty sweet so I didn't need anything extra but feel free to add honey if you need it.

And most of all... ENJOY! Enjoy the baking. Enjoy doing something with your hands. Enjoy eating something that tastes delicious and probably brings back some happy memories for you. Enjoy making it with your kids. Or enjoy having the kitchen to yourself for once and baking solo! Enjoy it warm from the oven with some butter (or coconut oil if you are dairy free) and a drizzle of honey. And while you're at it, why don't you say some affirmations to yourself while you're baking. You know, just kill those two birds with one stone. Need some help coming up with some? Try one of these!



INGREDIENTS 
3 medium ripe bananas
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup or sugar in the raw
1/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
3.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp xanthum gum
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 1/4 cup  almond meal
2 1/2  gluten free flour blend (I like Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF flour)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with spray with butter or nonstick spray. Mash bananas with a fork in a large bowl. Add all ingredients through almond milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Last add almond meal, gluten free flour blend and oats and stir. Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. When ready, it should feel firm and be crackly and golden brown on top. Let cool completely before cutting or it will be too tender to hold form. Serve with butter and honey or as is. Store leftovers in a covered container for up to a few days. Slice and freeze for longer term storage. (Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker)

If you make this and love it! Let me know! Tag me in a photo so I can see how yours turned out! 
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Monday, July 18

COFFEE CUP CHATS // When I'm Feeling Stuck...


Grab a cup of coffee. I wanna talk. Let's pretend that we are sitting across a tiny table from each other, a breeze blowing across us and we're carefree! Coffee cup chats are the best kinds of chats aren't they? So what's going on with me right now you ask? I feel stuck.

I'm the kind of person who does really well when she is unleashed on a goal. When I decide on a path I'm ready to already be running down it. When I know what I want, I want it yesterday. When I'm ready to go, I'm ready to already be there. Anyone else? *raises hand*

Right now, I'm in between. I'm in between all the things. (Cue dramatic exhale.) I'm in between pretty much every big thing and big deal going on in my life right now. And I'll be honest, I don't love it.  I hate knowing where I want to be at, or what direction I want to go in, and then being powerless to move myself in that direction because of things outside of my control.

Summer is rough isn't it? It's like the bridge between the first half of the year and the second. And while it comes with some sweet perks like summer vacation, pool parties, and fireworks, it also comes with some downsides like no real schedule, lack of childcare, and waiting.

So what is a girl to do when she's feeling her least favorite feeling: stuck?

I've said before that I HATE feeling stuck. It's compulsive. If I start to feel stuck I start to panic and flail around and push back and rebel and try to force things I shouldn't be trying to force. I'm like an animal in a cage. It's not my best quality but for some reason stuck is just something that I hate.

So right now, as you can imagine, I'm feeling all sorts of uncomfortable. I hate feeling stuck. And even more than that I hate feeling stuck on things that I can't control. I can't make school start any sooner. I can't make events come any quicker. I can't make houses appear on the market that aren't there yet. I can't make other people say yes before they are ready. So I sit, stuck, at the mercy of the Universe to change the light from red to green so I can take off toward the future again.

So in case you are in mid-summer-stall-out in your life, here's some of what I'm doing to help myself push through to the other side.

1. Control The Controllable - Here's where I start to feel better. And maybe you will too? I can't control that there's no school or childcare right now. But I can control our daily schedule if I want to. I can set an alarm. I can plan a day trip. I can stop letting our days be run with reaction instead of proaction. I can get all the paperwork done. I can brainstorm new ideas so when the stop sign is lifted I'm ready to run. I can visualize and plan. I can take care of all the details so we are ready to go. Control the controllable.

2. Find Out What Have I Been Avoiding and Do That - I've noticed that when things start to slow to a crawl there's usually at least 1 or 2 things that I can do that I've been avoiding doing for whatever reason. Usually stuck comes alongside procrastination because stuck makes me feel powerless. I don't want to hit another wall. I don't want to try something and be disappointed if it doesn't help unstick me. I want to sit around and wallow for a bit and hope that magically my obstacle is removed. But that's not really helpful is it? So I try to find the thing I've been avoiding doing and do that thing. Because usually the thing we are avoiding is the thing we need to do the very most. I already know my thing. It's waking up earlier and working off a schedule. What's yours?

3. Trust - This isn't easy. And you guys, I'm preaching to myself on this one more than to any of you. But trusting the process and that the things that are supposed to happen and be happening are. It's tough to not be in 100% control, but we've gotta believe that things are going to work out, even when we can't control them. Inhale gratitude, exhale trust. Repeat.

So here we are, living in the in between moments and having to learn how to not only be okay with it, but make the best of it. I'm committing to doing those three things this week, what about you? If you're feeling stuck too tell me what steps you are going to take this week to help yourself handle the ickiness of stuck better so you can thrive in the in between. Come tell me!



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Sunday, July 10

FITNESS | MY P90X WEEK 3 PROGRESS AND HASHIMOTOS UPDATE

p90x progress success
I've now completed three weeks of the original P90X workout and I would just like to say that I'm so proud of myself already! Sometimes I get in my own head and think things like, "What if I'm not seeing enough progress to impress everyone? What if I didn't lose weight this week? What if my body isn't changing quickly enough? And I have to remind myself that the fact that I've finished 3 weeks of P90X is an insane victory in itself! When I first got started with Beachbody I could barely get through a 25 minute workout. And since then I've fed myself the lie that I am just not capable of completing long programs. And yet here I am, completing one of the longest and arguably hardest home workout programs available! I'm so proud of myself!

Next up... I want to be really honest while sharing my journey so anyone who finds their way here doesn't just see the highlight reel but can see the struggle that goes on with things like this. I'm not a gym rat. I don't love to work out. But I love feeling strong and I have to take care of myself to feel good and right now I'm in a stage in my life where I want to prove to myself that I can tackle hard physical challenges and finish them! I want to push my body to see what it can do. That's why I'm doing P90X. Yes, I want to lose some weight and get more muscle definition but I also want to feel like a fucking champion by finishing it and proving to myself that I could do it!

So in the spirit of full transparency this update will have more of the not-so-lovely side of things. If you don't like reading about challenges then stop now because I'm going to be really honest with mine. 

I'll wait if you want to go ahead and hop back over to Pinterest for happy things.

Still here? Cool let's chat. This was the hardest week for me so far to stay consistent with my workouts. I don't know why. I just struggled more. I sweat more this week than any week so far. I had to really pep talk myself into going and pushing play. I even skipped a day and ended up having to make it up (2 P90X workouts in 1 day are no small feat ya'll!) This week I had a lot of trouble sleeping. Meaning that I didn't sleep 1 full night well until Friday. So I was dragging every day and had no oomph to give which made me not want to do my workouts. So on the workout side of things I give myself a C+ or  B-. I got them done, but I definitely didn't push myself as much as I could have and I didn't do them all on the assigned days like I should have.
thigh weightloss
Struggle number two... this is the week before my cycle so I've been moody and bloated and generally blah all week. And also just not looking forward to next week when I'll be even more bloated and in pain and wanting to eat every carbohydrate I can find. So basically for two weeks every month I feel like shit. And this was one of those weeks. My progress photo was a bit of a bummer because I woke up bloated (which is such a mood-killer isn't it?!). I did decide to look for the good in things which is that I looked about the same in this progress photo as last week which is actually a victory since I'm bloated right now and last week I took my photo on a day I felt super lean. So if my bloated day this week looks like my lean day last week that's definitely a win in my book!

Struggle number 3 is that I have an autoimmune condition that I have to manage called Hashimotos. I'm lucky because we caught mine before it turned into full fledged hypothyroidism and I have, over the last 2 years, been able to manage my symptoms with lifestyle choices of nutrition, exercise, and managing my stress levels. When I was first diagnosed I was a giant mess. And it took going on the GAPS diet for about a month, going gluten free, and then eventually going paleo for me to finally get in a place where my symptoms were mostly gone and manageable. 

Now that I'm not 100% paleo and now that I'm doing more challenging (read: stressful on the body) workouts, my symptoms have started to come back a little bit and I'm trying to find a new balance to where I can push myself more physically and still manage my symptoms and keep them at bay. My most common symptoms that come and go are bad quality sleep, bloating, irritability and anxiety, psorasis (you can see in the photo below), brain fog/memory issues, and trouble losing weight or rapid weight gain for no apparent reasons. There are tons of other symptoms but at this stage these are the ones I struggle with the most. And when my nutrition is off or my stress levels are high they start to come back stronger and stronger. When I've got everything in check they go away more.

Last year I had them completely gone when I was doing Piyo and eating strictly paleo. I went through a super stressful time personally and they all flared right back up and ever since then I've struggled to get them back under control. When I start to notice symptoms affecting me stronger I know it's time to dial things back in and work harder to stay on track with my nutrition and keep my stress levels low. Why is that important? Because Hashimotos is an auto-immune disease. So anything that causes inflammation in your body or stresses your immune system adds to the problem. For me... gluten, dairy, sugar, and most grains make my symptoms worse. It's just really hard to avoid all those things all the time. And stress I can try to manage but something life happens and things happen that are outside of my control so I just have to do my best to cope well and stay calm. 

hashimotos symptoms
I wanted to track my symptoms in this program because it is intense and generally low impact, more mellow workouts are good for people with auto-immune because you aren't pushing your body super hard. (I believe that's why I did so well when I was just doing Piyo... it's super low impact!) But I don't want to be limited to yoga my whole life and I really want to push myself as an athlete. I went into this commitment to P90X knowing that it would be a challenge for me to figure out how to keep my symptoms in check while pushing my body harder. The key, I'm finding, is in what I put INTO my body. Over the last 3 weeks I've cut out a lot of grains, sugar, and dairy and already you can see a difference in the psoriases that I have on my ankle. I know that I need to dial my food in even more to combat it it's just so hard to eat just lean protein and veggies exclusively. But this next week I'm committed to no sugar, no grains at all, and no dairy and I'm hoping to feel a shift by next weekend.
healthy recipes
I was asked what nutrition plan I was following. So far I've been doing a tweaked version of the Portion Fix (category 2) where I eat 4 veggie servings, 4 protein servings, 3 carb servings, 3 fruit servings, 2 fat servings and 3 oil servings a day. How I break that up is that I eat scrambled egg whites with kale and spinach for my first meal, a smoothie bowl with vegan chocolate shakeology, tons of spinach and kale, and frozen berries, topped with coconut or nuts for lunch, and then a dinner of protein, veggie, and carb. Up until this point I've been lax on my carbs and choosing things like rice, corn, or gluten free options and I know that I need to go grain free again so this upcoming week I'll be getting my carbs in as fruit, sweet potatoes, and almond milk instead of more traditional things like rice or tortillas or gluten free bread. I'm also going to be dialing back on my sugar. I've been sweetening my smoothie bowls and I'm going to stop and drinking sweetened drinks and having coconut ice cream so I'm going to cut those things out and see what happens. I'm also going to be a little more lax with my healthy fats because my body tends to do well on high fat mealplans so I'm adding some MCT oil into my coffee and smoothies. I'll report back with how that affects me, if it does at all. 

I wanted to share with you some numbers for my progress so far!!! I chose not to weigh myself before starting because scales are emotionally tough for me, and as someone who has an autoimmune disease that makes it super difficult to lose weight, I have learned that scales are not the best way for me to measure my progress. So instead, I took progress photos and measurements. 

I'm down a total of just under 5.5 inches! Most impressively 3.5 of those in my thighs which are usually where I lose the least so I'm super pumped about that! And I finally saw a small decrease in my arms which you might remember from last week I was so excited to see some definition in! My arms never seem to change so it's exciting to see progress in these problem areas! (Since January I've lost a total of 10 inches in my thighs thanks to Tony Horton's programs!) 




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