Monday, March 23, 2015

ClassPass Chicago Reviews: Barre Code, Flirty Girl Fitness

I owe you more ClassPass reviews, and I'm finally going to deliver! If you're new around these parts, ClassPass is a monthly membership in a bunch of different cities that allows you to go to as many group exercise classes at participating studios as you want. The only limitation is that you can attend a max of 3 classes per month at the same studio. I hemmed and hawed over whether ClassPass was worth $99 a month for awhile (especially considering I have access to a gym in my office for free). After becoming increasingly bored with my office gym (and therefore increasingly lazy to with my workouts), I finally pulled the trigger in January and haven't looked back. I've been to classes all over the city, from barre to boxing to Bikram and more. As of this morning, I've been to 50 classes, an average of 5.5 classes a week! 

Today I wanted to talk about two of my absolute favorites: Barre Code's Brawl and Flirty Girl Fitness' Knockouts. Prior to joining ClassPass I had actually never been to a kickboxing class, but I always wanted to try out. Turns out I absolutely love the intensity of kickboxing classes, and nothing makes me feel quite as badass as throwing jabs and hooks at myself in the mirror. On with the reviews!

Barre Code - Brawl
When I went to my first class, I honestly had no idea what to expect considering I’d never been to a kickboxing class before. As I signed in, the instructor, Lara, informed me that the class was about 25 minutes of cardio, followed by 10 minutes of strength, followed by 10 minutes of cardio, and then 5 minutes of cool down. Lots of cardio makes me nervous, because sans running, I’m always afraid my endurance isn’t what it used to be, but there was no turning back.

Not actually from my class. (source)
The studio room itself has padded rubber floor and it was pretty dark, which, when we’re doing unfamiliar boxing moves, I appreciate so I don't have to fixate on my own awkward movements in the mirror. The class began some easy warmups, and then we launched into learning a series of moves, and then combining those moves together. We would learn a move, repeat it over for a number of counts, then learn the following move, and then repeat the combination. We repeated this process until we had a whole sequence of choreography (probably 8-10 moves), and then we did the entire combination the whole way through four time before breaking for strength... Which. Was. Brutal. Those tiny barre movements are always so deceptively hard, and even harder when your muscles are fatigued from the cardio. I’ve taken a bunch of Brawl classes now, each with completely different strengths sequences which were both very tough. We switched back to cardio for a few more repetitions of the full sequence. Lara’s cues were really helpful as we went along, so I could remember what was coming next. Even for a kickboxing newbie like myself, it wasn’t too tough to keep up (though my legs always get tangled for the first few sets of cross kicks). I also always like that we finish with a cardio burst of high knees or running in place before cooling down, because I'm really spent (but definitely riding the endorphin high) after that! 

Flirty Girl Fitness - Knockouts
I feel like Flirty Girl Fitness gets a bad rep for being "that place that offers pole dancing classes." What I've learned, though, is that pole dancing is just one of many classes FGF offers - the vast majority of which don't involve a pole. So far I've been to POUND (review here) and Knockouts, and no, I don't plan on attending a pole class anytime soon (but they look hard!). Unlike Brawl, Knockouts is less about the overall choreography, and more about learning one move and then repeating it until fatigued, and then moving onto the next move. Unfortunately the Knockouts classes are at a tough time for me to make them, but both classes I've been to I have loved (and I'd absolutely go more if they added more to the schedule!).

Like most cardio classes, the class begins with a short warmup before launching right into the moves. I would say that another major difference between Brawl and Knockouts is that Knockouts feels a little more like a workout (rather than learning choreography), because some of the moves are very close to more traditional exercises, like lunge + front kick. But the class moves really quickly, and I always feel a really great burn as we're finishing out the set of any one move. Also, Kelly, the instructor, sometimes pulls out the pads so we can actually throw some hits at a target, so I enjoy when I get to put my moves into practice and actually land some punches! I never would have thought that I would love kickboxing as much as I do (watching actual boxing feels so... violent), but it turns out the moves are a lot of fun, and a good way to get out some aggression :)

That's what I've been up to lately on the workout front! What are your favorite exercise classes?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Weighing In and Working Out

Last Week's Weight: 173.4
Current Weight: 173.2
Change: -0.2
Total Loss: -54.8

I mean, I'll take it. With St. Patrick's Day this past weekend, there was definitely a lot more indulging than usual (including, ahem, mozzarella sticks and fried ravioli and deep dish OOPS), but I did stick pretty closely to the plan throughout the rest of the week. And, I already meal-prepped my lunches/dinners for the week, and picked up some more ingredients to cook at home basically from now until when I go on vacation (T-9 days but who's counting).

So, while eating wasn't thaaaaat phenomenal, I'm happy to report I had a kickass workout week last week (which helped with the eating side because I earned 61 activity points)! Here's what I did:
  • Monday - Brawl @ Barre Code
    • Guys. This is my most favorite workout. WHO KNEW I WOULD LOVE KICKBOXING SO MUCH? I didn't looooove this instructor, but overall a good burn and a good way to start the week.
  • Tuesday - Go Row @ Go Row
    • Did you know that it's possible to workout so hard you want to puke while sitting down? I didn't until Go Row. Channeled my inner Frank Underwood for this one and it was a killer workout.
  • Wednesday - Fat Shred @ i.d. gym
    • This class is almost always in my weekly rotation. The stations make it go by so quickly, and I really like the instructor!
  • Thursday - FlyBarre60 @ FlyBarre/FlyWheel
    • I love that FlyBarre is different from normal barre. Sometimes normal barre seems - I'll just say it - snooty. FlyBarre isn't that way at all - it's faster paced and a little "dancier" (but not too dancey) than normal barre, and it goes by really quickly.
  • Friday - Brawl @ Barre Code
    • THIS is my favorite Brawl class with my favorite teacher. And man, Friday's routine was killer. Charleston Kicks are my nemesis, but dang it's a good way to start the day.
  • Sunday - Original 90 @ 105f Bikram
    • I would probably in the future not recommend a hot yoga class the day after an afternoon of St. Patrick's Day drinking. On the plus side, I felt reallllllly detoxed after (and really thirsty).
So, that's what I've been up to, and this week is keeping up the grueling workout pace! On tap for me this week:
  • Monday - Yoga Sculpt (which actually ended up being barre)
  • Tuesday - FlyWheel
  • Wednesday - Unify in the AM and Boxing in the PM
  • Thursday - Go Row or mayyybe rest day
  • Friday - Brawl
  • Saturday - TBD or maybe rest day
  • Sunday - POUND
I owe you guys so many more workout class reviews, I'm just trying to find the time to write them up! Clearly I'm still loving ClassPass and it's keeping me busy. Here's hoping I can do better with eating this week to see a bigger loss on the scale before my vacation :)

How was your weigh-in Wednesday?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hungry Hungry

Last Week's Weight: 173.8
Current Weight: 173.4
Change: -0.4
Total Loss: -54.6

A loss is a loss, and I'm in this game to lose weight, so this week's weigh-in is a definite win! I've been trying to reel in a few key behaviors that I know are most responsible for this plateau:
  • Snacking while I'm cooking. Usually by the time I get home from work I am starving. I'm up and out of my apartment by 5:30am most morning, so by the time I get home around 7, I'm both tired and hungry and immediately want a snack. To fix this, I'm making a concerted effort to grab a glass of water while I make dinner, instead of immediately opening the pantry. 
  • Little nibbles. MAN THIS IS SO HARD. If there is food in front of me, I want to eat it. No regard for if I'm hungry, and little regard for if it's something I actually want to eat or not (except Cheez-its. I hate Cheez-its). Honestly, giving up sweets for Lent has really helped with this considering the perpetual stream of candy temptation around my office. And donuts. And Potbelly cookies. And... you get it. 
  • Portion control. I prepped my lunches for last week and this week, leaving me no excuses but to eat my lunch and track it. By far the biggest win was when I had a bunch of points left for dinner on Monday, so I bought a (medium-sized) frozen pizza, and just planned on eating the whole thing (#YOLO). Well, while I waited for the pizza to cook, I realized that I wasn't actually THAT hungry. Certainly not hungry enough to eat a whole (19PP) frozen pizza. So, I cut it in half and saved the rest for lunch the next day. This may seem like a duhhhhh thing to do, but this is actually pretty monumental for me. I am awful at recognizing/listening to hunger cues (and if I'm being totally honest, I pretty much always eat the whole pizza in one sitting), so this is progress!
(Oh wait, yes I am)
How was your weigh-in Wednesday?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Magical Weight Loss Tricks

It seems my Instagram feed is filling more and more with images of juice fasts and teatoxes and shakeology and talk of things like BCAAs and casein and B12s and aminos and R2D2 (I made that last one up). And I'm over here like:

It should come as no surprise that I'm a pretty firm believer in losing weight in a sustainable way. That is, no crazy fad diets or elixirs or powders. I lost more than 50lbs without a single cold-pressed juice fast, and I'm committed to losing the rest of the weight the same way. If you want to take fancy schmancy supplements and powders and shots and shakes, by all means, get down with your bad self, but these things aren't necessary for weight loss. 

[UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT] The only magic bullets for weight loss success are discipline and consistency.

Another non-surprising fact is that my journey has had a fair amount of bumps and derailments along the way. But sticking to the plan and eating within my points (consistently!!!) is what produces results. Going to the gym on a regular basis and challenging myself in my workouts produces results. Giving up weekly Jimmy Johns (I still love you, JJ) and instead finding better ways to treat myself produces results. No magic fixes required.

I don't say any of this to shame anyone who chooses to do these things. I say it to hopefully offer advice to those who are worried they need to do those things to be successful: you don't. Weight loss on its own is intimidating enough, so know that you don't need expensive fancy supplements for success. You don't need fancy DVDs or Lululemon apparel or a costly gym membership (you do need a good sports bra, though). Most importantly, you just need to learn how to make the right decisions about nutrition and working out. Every damn day. 

What's your recipe for weight loss success?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Catching Up and Weighing In

Weigh In Wednesday
Last Week's Weight: 175
Current Weight: 173.8
Change: -1.2
Total Loss: -54.2

Let's chat, shall we?

Blogging has been sporadic (at best) lately, because work has been pretty full throttle since about Christmas. And, weight loss progress has been less than stellar. Week after week I've stepped on the scale and seen a number between about 172-177. Then, there were some weeks where I said screw it, and didn't weigh in at all. That's the truth.

I feel like by not blogging about my weight, I've been letting the number bring me down. I am working out 5-6 days a week, but I did have a few weeks where my attitude toward eating can be summed up as follows:

I see people who (it seems) eat more than I do and lose weight. I see people who (it seems) work out less than I do and lose weight. I'm totally aware that this is whining and that my assumptions about what other people do/don't do to lose weight could very much be wrong. But sometimes I just think: WHAT THE HELL BODY CAN WE REMEMBER WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LOSE WEIGHT CONSISTENTLY?

Based on the fact that I've not plateaued in the mid 170's three times now (I've probably spent almost a collective year in this weight range) it would seem my body is quite comfortable here. But am I? I don't know. 

I'm really really really happy I don't weigh 228lbs anymore. I'm proud of how hard I worked to lose 54+lbs. But I'm not as muscular as I would like to be. I'm really glad I can push myself harder when I'm working out and that making myself work out isn't as much of a battle as it once was. But I'm still a little squishier than I want to be. 

I don't think there is a perfect number where I will suddenly be content and happy and never have another negative body-related thought. But, at the same time, I often feel like throwing away the scale is a slippery slope to disregarding weight gain and focusing too much on little wins (that aren't adding up). 

All of this is to say, I'm still here, I'm still trying, and I'm still weighing in. My focus this month is to have less "YOLO eating" weeks, and more restraint around unhealthy foods. I actually gave up sweets for lent (and by lent I mean until I go on vacation at the end of the month), which I think has drastically helped me reel in the little nibbles at work that have been adding up. This week I lost weight, so I must be doing something right. Now, I just need to keep it up!

How was your weigh in Wednesday?