Category Archives: 4 Week Challenges

4-week Challenge Final Update: Lak’s Top 5 Lessons for Healthy Living

4-week Shape-up Challenge: Lakshmi’s Final Update

I’ve spent 4 weeks on the Grit by Brit shape-up plan and in the infamous words of Ms. Brit, “I’ve seen some things.” Maybe more accurately, I’ve learned some things – about myself, my habits and my goals:

  1. Success is a commitment – I’ve finally realized that when it comes to my body and my health, achieving a goal does not happen at a finite point in time. It’s a continual commitment. There is a reason that the phrase is “healthy lifestyle,” and not “healthy moment.” Achieving a healthy lifestyle requires commitment to a healthy life. It’s not one of those quick fix wedding boot camps – be intensely committed for 3 weeks, look buff for the big day and then stop once he’s passed you the ring. Being healthy is something that I need to consider every time I want to eat something or be active (or not active).
  2. It takes a village – Hillary Clinton was so right – you can’t do this alone. Get supporters to cheer you on when you’re doing well. And to scold you when you’ve fallen off the wagon. Talking about my healthy life goals reinforced them in my head (the whole “speak it into existence” idea) and helped make those around me accountable for my success, too. No one wants to watch someone fail in health. If you tell people about who you want to be, they will enable success.
  3. My body is smarter than I am – My brain is my worst enemy. It tells me I’m hungry when I’m not. It tells me I need to stop cycling when I shouldn’t. It tells me to not get out of bed when I need to. Turn the brain off. I learned to listen to my body. Am I hungry? Let me ask my energy level and stomach. Can I go further? Let me ask my legs and heart. Sometimes the answer is “Yes, stop! You’ve worked too hard” and other times it’s all “Lakshmi, please, your grandmother could keep going.” Whatever the question, I learned to let my body answer instead of my brain.
  4. I am not perfect – Brit was continually telling me to not be so hard on myself. I find that when I hold myself to the expectation that my healthy behavior must be 100% compliant with the plan, I fail hard. And once I fail, I can’t pick myself back up. I need to lower the expectations of myself and minimize the impact of the failures so that I can get right back on-track.
  5. I am perfect – You all read about how a woman mistook me for being pregnant. My self-esteem after that episode was low. WAY LOW. But then I realized, I am who I am. I am a fertile looking woman, who is great as she is. I have (finally) realized that the whole idea that people come in different sizes isn’t necessarily because they have varying abilities to portion control. Instead, it’s sometimes just because you were handed those genes. I was at the Levi’s store this weekend (amazing transition from genes to jeans) and noticed that all their fits had positive names (Slight, Demi, Bold, Supreme Curve). This taught me my size – no matter what it is – is awesome.

Thanks friends for reading! And thanks Brit for being both my good cop and my bad cop.

Missed one of Lakshmi’s updates?  Catch up on her journey here:

Kick Off, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

4-week challenge: Sasha O or Prego?

Lakshmi’s Week 2 Update

Sasha Obama wore this adorable dress to her father’s speech at the DNC. I promptly purchased and wore it Wednesday for a work event. Not going to lie, I felt good in it. It accentuated my waist and was flattering (so I thought). I went to the work event, where the first person I spoke with had met with me a year ago. She said to me, “It’s great to see you again. And I see you have a baby bump.” Pow. All my confidence (I had even posted on Facebook about how great I felt in the dress) just disappeared like that. Unfortunately, there’s something about my body type that causes me to get mistaken for being pregnant all too often (I know, weird). I played the bigger person and instead of socking her in the face I said, “You’d be surprised how often I am mistaken for being pregnant. I must have a pregnant glow. When it does actually happen to me, I’ll be radioactive!” But I can joke all I want. It still really hurts. And when it hurts, I need some carbs. So Brit, I did eat carbs after 4 pm on Wednesday. But can you blame me? I was eating for two (PLEASE NOTE: THAT STATEMENT IS A JOKE).

Really tough to get the workouts in this week. I was in Boston Wed – Thursday AM. And am in Richmond Thursday AM to Friday night. Working a ton – so my options to workout were between the hours of midnight and 4 am. Sooo…I didn’t workout Thursday and Friday. I’ll get back into the groove on Saturday, I promise!

Here’s the dress I wore Wednesday. Isn’t it adorable? (the black and white one). No one mistook Sasha Obama for being prego.

Brit’s Advice for Lakshmi

  • Accentuate the positive – when you reflect on your week, ALWAYS think about everything you did WELL first.  If you start with your “slip ups,” it’s too easy to get discouraged and eventually quit your shape up efforts.
  • Don’t think in absolutes – you will never have a perfect day, so don’t beat yourself up if you sneak a cookie or miss a workout.  Just think about living a “balanced” life and schedule some extra workout time or a super lean meal to compensate for your “slip up”

4-week challenge: Lak’s Week 1 Update

Hey Gang – Lakshmi has completed her 1st week of the 4-week challenge and is lookin’ mighty fine!  Keep up with her progress and send in your notes of encouragement.  You can see my comments and words of advice throughout her update.  Have a great weekend!  – Brit

SEXY IN BLACK

Week 1 of my Grit by Brit 4-week challenge is almost done. Here are some successes, failures (let’s call them, “opportunities for improvement” – I don’t like the word “failures”) and things I’ve learned. I haven’t lost any weight, but I’m feeling sleeker:

Successes:

  • I rocked the workout schedule. My muscles have been in a constant state of soreness this week (in a good way) – eat a banana to help with soreness
  • Chugging water like woah. I may have had more than 2L a day
  • I managed to follow the ‘no simple carbs after 4 pm’ rule (for the most part)
  • I’ve only been snacking at night. Breakfast and lunch have become my main meals
  • I’ve been watching my food intake. Just being conscious of the food I’m eating is an improvement

Opportunities for Improvement

  • Well on Sunday, I went to dinner. The menu didn’t say my meal came with rice (I ordered specifically because no carbs were listed). But it did. And I ate it
  • I may have gamed the system. Find me around 3:50 pm, you’ll see me downing some carbs in preparation for my 4 pm deadline – this is okay, it’s a start
  • Perchance all my eating decisions weren’t all perfect before 4 pm. I could have made healthier choices, but the new hires at work were training in the office and there was SO MUCH extra food. Eating for free v. eating right…it’s a toss up. Penny pinching won
  • I could have eaten more vegetables. I found myself having more almonds than raw vegetables
  • I’ve hit the 3 drink limit for the week (it was a social week). And I’m going to a wedding this weekend…uh oh

Things I’ve Learned:

  • Make others accountable for your eating decisions. Everyone at work knows I’m on the Grit by Brit plan. So when I’m teased by some delicious snack in the office kitchen, my co-workers intervened with some humiliating comment like “you can’t eat that.” You lose all your dignity, but hopefully you also lose your weight
  • If you eat a big lunch, you don’t need a big dinner. I’m not hungry right now. I can’t believe it
  • Water makes you feel good. I’m finally hydrated!

Questions for Brit

  • Can I eat quinoa after 4 pm? Yes in moderation
  • Do you have any good recommendations for what to eat at night? Nothing, drink water, why do you need fuel to sleep??

Lots of love boo – keep up the good work!

Brit 😉

NEW 4-week challenge: Chi-town shape up w/Lakshmi

I’m kicking off a new 4-week challenge with my friend, Lakshmi.  Ordinarily, I’d give you my usual song and dance about how we became friends, blah blah blah.  But I think a picture is a worth a 1,000 words when it comes to describing our friendship.  So get to know her, check out her diet and exercise plan (maybe even try it for yourself) and check in every week for her progress reports!

Luv, Brit

Our friendship…

Meet Lakshmi a.k.a “Lak-sheezy”

I’m a girl with good intentions, but I am easily swayed off course. I try to work out each day and am able to eat well until the mid-afternoon. Then I find temptation taking over and a handful of miniature chocolates in my hand. I’ve got some major love for starch and sugar – and I need help curbing the cravings.

My goal is to not change in the short-term, but change in the long-term. I want to fix bad habits. It would be amazing if I could drop some lbs. But mostly I just want to get tone, feel confident about my body, and feel some control in my life.

I’m a consultant with unpredictable hours and very last minute travel. I make it a priority to get to the gym. It’s not always possible, but by in large, I’m there 4 – 6 times a week. My hours are long, which makes cooking and planning meals tough.

Help me!

Exercise – I’m a class girl. Unless someone tells me what to do, I will convince myself it’s okay to stop. The meaner the teacher, the better in my world.

Also, I walk to and from work (25 minutes each way) while listening to a live stream of NPR (how yuppie is that?).

As for my diet…

Breakfast – I try to do oatmeal and coffee. Sometimes I do museli with fruit.

Lunch – Salad or sandwich and a diet soda (I know, I know). On a bad day, I add in chips. And chocolate…

Snack – This is where I falter. My company is really good about supplying snacks. No good deed goes unnoticed, so I find myself often in our snack cabinet foraging for sugar and/or salt. Lately our miniature Hershey chocolates have been by downfall.

Dinner – I like starch, especially potatoes. Today I had some leftover gnocchi. Sometimes it’s a frozen dinner. I am tired when I get home from work (usually 8 or 9), so I’m in no mood to cook for one.

Dessert – I will have a tablespoon of PB. Or chocolate covered bananas from Trader Joe’s (4 pieces)

Here are things I don’t like: Running, chicken (it’s a dirty bird), cold meat on salad (unless it’s tuna), pork, ham, lifting weights

Here are things I’m allergic to: Shellfish, walnuts

Here are things I like: Spinning, yoga, potatoes, french macarons

Also, I’m awesome at taking my vitamins everyday.

Brit’s 4-week shape up plan for Lakshmi

4-week challenge ‘Euro Style’ COMPLETE: Sexy, Sexy, Sexy

Jenny has officially completed my 4-week challenge and she looks SMOKIN’ HOT!  Below you can read her final update and see pics from her challenge completion photo shoot.

Lookin’ FIT 50’s style – way to go Jenny! 

Jenny’s biggest lessons of the 4 Week Challenge:
  1. At 28, diet is much more important than it used to be, and all the changes that I used to see so fast take more time.
  2. Also, it is so important for me to keep my workouts fresh, so I don’t burn out or lose motivation.
  3. And finally, slow down a bit – getting sick really sets one back with regard to working out, so it is important to make sure that i’m not pushing myself too hard and wearing myself down.

Regardless, this past four weeks have been great – I look better, feel better  and have done some great new workouts that have really re-motivated me!  I’m more toned, but I still have my curves as you can see above 🙂

If you missed any of Jenny’s earlier updates, you can catch up here: 

Kick Start – Full PlanWeek 1Week 2Week 3

4-week Challenge: Jenny’s Week 3 Update – Maintaining in Malaga, Spain

Despite vacations, minor set-backs and work commitments, Jenny has done an excellent job staying on track with her 4-week challenge!  If you are trying the challenge for yourself, stay motivated by keeping up with her progress.  Here’s her week 3 update:

“My girl’s weekend in Malaga was really great! I found a nice balance between relaxing, getting in some workouts, eating healthy, and eating whatever I wanted! 🙂 I took the first day off from any kind of activity except for walking around, eating tapas, and drinking wine. But the next two days my friend and I got two solid workouts in at a local gym, and ate mostly salads. We also did a ton of walking around! It wasn’t so hard for me to eat healthy, since I’m actually not a huge fan of Spanish cuisine. But that said, my friend and I didn’t hold back on the Sangria or wine  (Hey, you gotta live a little!). I found that it is much easier to keep up with diet and exercise when on vacation when you are with someone who is also health conscious and likes a good workout!

And now that I am back at home, I feel great – I don’t think I lost any weight, but I don’t think I gained any either. I’ve just gotten back, and I’ve already hit the weights and a spinning session! I love that way I feel after a rest day – super strong and energetic! Now I’m pushing hard for the next three days (spinning every day to get all three classes in + Pilates + Brit’s workouts!) – And then going to a Wedding over the weekend (and plan on looking fabulous in a new dress I bought in Spain!).

So here it goes with the last week of the four-week challenge – wish me luck!”

– Jenny

Brit’s advice for Jenny:

  • Keep your eye on the Prize –   I want Jenny to be extra disciplined this week.  She should revisit the goals she set at the start of the challenge and have FULL CONFIDENCE that she can achieve them!
  • Focus on Food – After a vacation, it’s common to want to hit the gym hard, which is a good thing.  However, Jenny should be extra mindful of what goes into her mouth.  She must be careful not to wipe out all of her hard work in the gym by consuming too many calories.
  • Stretch, Stretch, Stretch – Since Jenny has been away for a few days, it may take a her body a little time to adjust to the hardcore workout regimen.  T0 prevent soreness and injury (and ultimately missed workouts), I want her to stretch for at least 15 minutes per day.

4-week Challenge: Jenny’s Week 2 Update – “Keep Calm and Carry On”

Happy Friday!  Jenny has just wrapped up week 2 of her 4-Week Challenge.  Try the challenge for yourself and stay motivated by keeping up with Jenny’s progress!

       

Jenny’s Week 2 Progress Report:

Week Two: Øv! (as we say in Danish – think: “Ugh” in English :)) Do I feel good about this week? Eh. I pushed myself hard – but not as hard as I felt like I could. I was busy and stressed and spent most of the week trying to catch up with everything and everyone. Should I cut myself some slack? Probably so. For me, working out is just as much mental as it is physical; Maybe it is my history in the fitness industry and/or maybe it is my need to push myself in some way (the feeling of progress), but I know that my mood, happiness, overall ability to handle stress and focus, all rely heavily on my ability to workout in one way or another.

At the same time, I also have to realize that I’m not 21 anymore, and cannot push myself to the same limits as I used to – and some days, that is hard for me to accept. My body responds and changes much more slowly than it used to, and this can be hard for someone like me who is so impatient. So even though I feel stronger and ‘tighter’, the way I feel about the week is not as positive as I’d hoped for. I’m trying to remember that results take time, and patience is key. I know that many people might give up when they feel like this, but that isn’t really my style 🙂

On a positive note, I did take Brit’s advice and started adding protein to my breakfast.  Usually its egg whites or a whey protein shake (see pics above).  I can tell that the protein helps me feel fuller and keeps me from overeating later in the day.

I did Brit’s killer legs workout on Monday and could barely walk on Tuesday. I think maybe its better for me to do legs when I have a day off the next day, because Spinning the next day was hard (and then cardio and Pilates the day after that!), and they probably could have used a recovery day. Seriously, four days later my legs are still sore – and they haven’t been this sore since I can even remember!

Now I’m off to a weekend in Malaga.  Do I feel 100% beach ready? Not exactly. But I am going to go have a good time, and keep focused on my goals. This will be an interesting week, as maintaining diet and exercise can be challenging on vacation – and it is important to strike a good balance. I tend to have an “all or nothing” personality, so this should be good personal challenge 🙂

-Jenny

Brit’s Advice for Jenny:

  • Do your best to stay on the plan during vacation.  There are several alternative workouts on Grit by Brit, like my Keepin’ Trim While Travelin’ hotel gym workout.  Also hiking, walking and being active in general we keep you in good shape.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Focus on the positive.  You are kickin’ butt by doing your workouts and incorporating healthy habits (like protein at breakfast)!  Just take things one day at a time try to make each day healthier and more active than the day before.
  • The half-way point is always the make or break.  Don’t be like most people and give up if the numbers on the scale aren’t budging.  All things take time, so keep calm and carry on 🙂

If you missed Jenny’s Week 1 Progress Report CLICK HERE to catch up!