1.18.2017

Bikini Body Guide vs Healthy Body Guide Reviewed

I really love the flexibility of working out at home.  I don't have to drive there, jockey for space, or look at other people's sweat.  I was so excited when I found Bikini Body Guide because it gave me more workouts to do in the convenience of my home.  I don't even have to bother with a DVD and I can blast the music as loud as I want.  Then I found Healthy Body Guide and that was even more variety, which is always a good thing to prevent exercise boredom.  I've completed all 24 weeks of the Bikini Body Guide and done the 12 week Healthy Body Guide.  They are both circuit training style workouts and kind of similar, so I thought it might be helpful to review and compare the two for anyone who might be wondering which one to do or if the more expensive Bikini Body Guide is worth the money.   This is the basic rundown of each program.



BIKINI BODY GUIDE | KAYLA ITSINES

The Bikini Body Guide is a PDF Circuit Training style plan with detailed pictures and explanations of each workout that you can print out or view electronically, keep forever, and take everywhere.

The cost is $53.00 for each 12-week guide, and if you want the Nutrition Guide it's more money.  There is also a Sweat With Kayla App that is $20.00 per month.  I have no idea what features it provides, as it isn't something I was interested in.

The Bikini Body Guide is 24 weeks but broken down into 1.0 and 2.0 for 12 weeks each.  Each workout has two Circuits.  Each circuit is repeated twice for a total of 4 circuits.  Every week of workouts is done twice in a row before moving onto the next set.

Each circuit is to be done 7 minutes.  If you don't finish, you don't finish, and if you do, you repeat the circuit.  You do as much of each circuit as you can for a total of 28 minutes.

The recommended schedule starts out with 2-3 resistance training circuits per week and 2-3 sessions of low impact steady state cardio (LISS) and progresses to 3-4 sessions of resistance, 2-3 sessions of 35-45 LISS, and 1-2 sessions of 10-15 high intensity interval training (HIIT) weekly.   The way I did it was 3-4 circuits per week, plus 2-3 LISS/HIIT sessions per week for a total of 5-6 days per week.  I did not do two workouts per day.  My LISS was either walking or the elliptical and HIIT was treadmill running intervals.

The split for Bikini Body Guide 1.0 is leg day, arm day, and full body for the first four weeks and then it switches to leg day, arm day, ab day.  2.0 is also leg day, arm day, ab day, but incorporates a fourth full body day circuit every other week.

Equipment:  dumbbells, jump rope, bench, bosu, steps, barbell, medicine ball, and kettle bell.  I did the entire program without the barbell, bench, kettle bell or bosu.  I didn't miss the bosu at all, and was able to use my dumbbells for all barbell and kettle ball exercises.  Barbells can also substitute for medicine balls.  My bench was a storage bench full of pajamas.  If you don't have a jump rope you can jog in place, but jump ropes are a great inexpensive exercise tool to have.  The only thing I really felt strongly about having was the the step up.  There wasn't a single chair in my house that would work, and step ups are in so many of the circuits that I think you will miss out if you don't have one.

Bikini Body Guide is super high intensity and it can be somewhat repetitive.  Lot's of jumping.  Lots of lunging.  If it's leg day you will be doing things like step ups, jump lunges, walking lunges, and squat and press with medicine ball.  It will hurt.  You will sweat a lot, and feel like you are going to collapse after almost every single workout.  Some ab days are a little bit less grueling, but the numbers are such that they are still very challenging.  Arm days are pretty intense too because of the sheer number of repetitions.

@Kayla_Itsines has quite the cult following on Instagram.  I would even go so far as to say some of the girls are obsessed with Kayla, the workouts, and everything BBG.  Her transformations are pretty impressive.  Kayla Itsines is basically a fitness celebrity in Australia and there are girls all over the world who do BBG meet-ups and provide support and encouragement to each other.  I think she was one of the first who created a guide and used Instagram for promotion.  #bbg #bikinibodyguide #bbggirls #kaylasarmy #sweatwithkayla #deathbykayla are just a few of her always trending hashtags.  There are girls on Instagram who have built their entire following by doing her guide and some of them claim to be doing it consistently for years.  Personally, my body could not handle the rigor long term, but more power to them.     


HEALTHY BODY GUIDE | ALEXA JEAN FITNESS

The Healthy Body Guide is a PDF Circuit Training style plan with detailed pictures and explanations of each workout that you can print out or view electronically, keep forever, and take everywhere.

I purchased its as part of a bundle for only $29.99 that included two 30 day Ab challenges, a 30 day butt and leg guide, and a 30 day meal planning guide. 

The Healthy Body Guide is 12 weeks long.  Each workout is 1 circuit that is repeated 4x.  Every week of workouts is done twice before moving onto the next set.

It takes as long as it takes.  There is no set time.  For me that was 20-35 minutes, depending on the workout.

The recommended schedule is five circuits per week, and two session of 30-45 minutes of cardio to be done on ab days.  I did not do it that way.  For all but the last three weeks I did the five circuits plus one day of cardio at the gym for a total of 6 days per week.  The last three weeks I did only the circuits for 5 days a week total.  By this time, I was well into my fitness journey and looking to stay steady, but if I had started out with this in January I probably would have done it how it was recommended.

The split is total body day, upper body day, leg + glutes day, and two ab day circuits. 

No equipment required, although I did add ankle weights, dumbbells, and a medicine ball for additional challenge.

The exercises in general are lower impact on the body, and easier on the knees overall because it incorporates a greater variety of types of exercises.   There is some jumping, and some lunging, but it mixes in exercises that are less jarring on the body.  On leg day some of the exercise include things like glute bridges and donkey kicks.

@AlexaJeanFitness has a much smaller community on Instagram than BBG.  You can still use her #healthybodyguide hashtag and connect with others using the program, but Alexa Jean has been criticized for being unresponsive to followers and not doing very much to nurture her online community. 

MY REVIEW

Bikini Body Guide is my jam, and I keep going back to it.  It is super hard and super sweaty.  I like it that when I give it everything I got, I know I am pushing myself as hard as I can go.  When I was sweating my way through the pain of my last set of double pulse box jumps in week 23 legs I felt like an athlete.  Pushing myself that hard makes me feel bad ass, and it gets results.  My strength and endurance improved so much, and it was instrumental in helping me lose weight and tone my body.  I did BBG 1.0 in 2015, 2.0 in 2016 and both times I saw real physical changes in my appearance.  My husband joined in a few times and has found every single workout to be extremely challenging.  It's no joke.  As much as I love BBG,  I also hate it sometimes because it is so hard.  It's physically and mentally tough facing those workouts day in day out.  I have bad knees so I knew I had to be very careful or else I wouldn't make it.  Sometimes, I couldn't run on HIIT day and had to do steep incline instead.  Sometimes I couldn't walk as fast on LISS day, and had to take it easier on leg circuits than I wanted to, but I did what I had to do in order to save my knees.   The different body part splits helped, but there were times I had to wait on leg circuits until the very last moment, because my knees were hurting so bad and filling with fluid.  My lower half was feeling pretty beat up by the end. It can feel repetitive, but Bikini Body Guide is designed to challenge every muscle of your body over and over and over again so when you finish you feel like you can take on anything.  If you follow a healthy meal plan and stick with the program it will whip you into shape with just 30 minutes of exercise per day.  I'd say it is overpriced, but I have gotten so much out of it that I think it's worth it.

I started BBG 2.0 right after a two month program so by the time I finished it was five months of being on pretty hard core programs.  I needed a mental break from having to do specific workouts and a physical break to recover from the intensity so I spent the next two months mixing and matching workouts.  My goal was to keep going hard through October, but after seven months, I was losing motivation.  I needed something to keep me on track and that didn't make me want to keel over and quit.  Healthy Body Guide was just the thing to keep me going.  Alexa Jean realizes that squats, lunging, and jumping aren't the only way to work legs.  Her circuits include intense exercises like burpees (lots of burpees!!) and split lunges, but also incorporates things like donkey kicks, hip thrusts, and leg lifts that are great for glutes and legs, but also low impact on the body.  It is not as hard as BBG, but it is still a nice comprehensive set of workouts and very challenging.   The exercises worked my muscles in ways that Bikini Body Guide didn't and you really can't beat the price.

Which is better?  Which would I recommend?  I think it really just depends on where you are at in your fitness journey and how much pounding your body can handle.  My knees are awful and I made it through BBG so I think it's doable for those who have knee issues.  You just have to listen to your body and modify if necessary to make it easier on the joints.  On the other hand, Healthy Body Guide is already set up to be easier on the body as is.  If you are just starting out and want to do both, I would recommend starting with HBG.  See how you like it, build strength, and then move onto BBG.  Lately, I've been trying to incorporate at least one BBG leg day per week because they provide the greatest challenge then I mix in other workouts that give my knees a break.   I haven't even gotten to the extra Alexa Jean workouts that came with the yet, so I still have that to look forward to.   I really do recommend both if you enjoy the quick yet intense circuit training style workouts.  I absolutely love having both options available to mix up my exercise routine however I see fit. 

1.10.2017

In Those Jeans

Wow.  This time last year I was just starting my determined quest to lose weight, tone up, and fix my metabolism once and for all.  To those of you just starting out this year.  Keep going.  Don't quit.  You will thank yourself by the time Summer turns into Thanksgiving and you don't have to beat yourself up about extra carbs and a few missed workouts sabotaging your progress.  They won't, because you have already done the work.


I did an 8 week challenge I found on Instagram and the 12 week Bikini Body Guide back to back from January to May.  I continued consistent workouts, but took two months off from a specific program in June and July.  I took a bit of a break in July, due to travel and other things.  I could feel myself losing motivation so I started the 12 week Healthy Body Guide in August and that took me all the way through October.  I had an I have to do this, no excuses mindset that you really need to put up with hard workouts day in and day out on top of work and everything else.  It kept me on schedule.  If I missed a day, I'd have to double up, or I would fall behind.  Skipping even one day, could lead to another, and another so I committed to the process and that was that. I cannot begin to tell you how excited and relieved I was when I did that last total body workout.  It was the end of ten long, hard, awesome, and productive months of 5-6 days a week of intense exercise.  Being on a program is great for motivation and accountability, but I was so tired and so over it, and also pretty proud of myself for sticking with it and accomplishing my goals.  

The year before, I had gone through my closet and weeded out clothes I hoped I might fit into again and others I knew were a lost cause.  So many designer jeans.  Joe's.  Seven's.  Gone.  Never to be worn again.  Expensive jeans were never important to me.  I was fine with Old Navy, Levi's...whatever fit good at a reasonable price, until that one day I went out and bought a pair of Joe's Jeans.  I was hooked.  They felt AMAZING.  I had finally allowed myself to cough up the money for designer jeans and look what happened?  Sadly, I removed them from my closet because I couldn't bear to look at them any more and I told myself I would never buy another pair again.  Ever.  In my mind I didn't deserve them.  I had my chance and I got fat.
December 2011:  Not my lowest weight | December 2016: 18 lbs heavier 
It was so hard to see my body changing in the mirror and have no control over it.  I was aware of the fabric pressing against my thighs making me want to jump out of my skin, and I felt bulk and fat where there used to be bone.  The scale went up, and up and up and then my clothes got too tight.  I still remember that day, summer 2015, when MJ and I were getting ready to spend the day biking downtown.  I went through my drawers, and realized I had no shorts that fit.  I had been hiding under skirts all year, even in the winter.  I had already busted out of all pants, but could still squeeze into shorts.  We had to stop at Kohl's on the way, and there was hardly anything to choose from because summer shorts had already been replaced by Jeans.  I was devastated, miserable, ashamed, and so angry at myself for putting myself in that position in the first place.

By this time last year, I had mourned the loss of my skinny body for almost three years.  I'd gained so much weight and it felt hopeless, but I didn't give up.  I stuck to the plan and  ever so slowly, my body began to respond.  Ever so slowly, I am learning to appreciate the stronger healthier body I have now.

I know I should have been grateful just to have a body that works, but the reality is that I don't think I was ever going to be satisfied with the body I had last year.  I did not recognize the person I saw in the mirror.  It was not my best me, and I knew it.  That body was the aftermath of years and years of disordered eating.  My quest for thin had backfired, leaving me with a decimated metabolism, and insatiable hunger.  I was hungry all the time no matter what I ate.  No matter how much I exercised or what I ate, the pounds piled on, and the only way to fix it was to do what I should have been doing all along.  Healthy eating (not minimal eating) and exercise.  It's no secret, but somehow all these years I had no idea that you could actually eat food and lose weight.  That concept did not exist for me and no matter how many times I read it, heard it, and was told it, I refused to believe.  It was my way or the highway, and my way was to eat as little food as possible, do as much exercise as possible, and still be a functioning human being.  It was a big change.  I had to get used to not ignoring hunger cues.  Hunger pangs used to mean I was doing something right, but now they mean it's time to eat.  I had to learn to feed my body what it actually needed.  1/2 cup of fiber one cereal, one string cheese, and a tiny container of yogurt is not lunch and thin deli slices of ham, with 45 calorie slice of reduced fat cheese between two pieces of 50 calorie bread is not dinner.  It's not normal to have a zero calorie day.  Do you know what that is?  It didn't happen all the time, but it is a day where I ate so little food and exercised so much that my net sum calories was zero.  I was trashing my body and it felt good.  I liked it.  Just think about that for a moment.

Oh, the things I had to do to fit into those jeans!

The worst thing about it.  Well, not the worst thing.  The worst thing was being that physically and mentally unwell.  The second worse thing is that I still thought I was fat, and nobody, not my mom, not my husband, could tell me any different.  If you are going to suffer that much you'd think you would at least enjoy being thin right?  But that's not how it works.

I lost about 10 lbs and 5 1/2 inches.  I am fitting into pants and shorts I couldn't get into before, but there are others that I will never get back into.  I cried when I could barely pull them past my thighs, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that I will not and should not ever be that size again.  It's that simple.  I can't go back.  I have curves.  I have a butt.  I can no longer cut glass with my shoulder bones, and knobby elbows and that's okay.  I still have plenty of days when I miss how I used to look, but overall I'm happy with the progress I made and making peace with how I'm built.  I am sitting at 23lbs above my lowest weight, but thin does not always equal healthy.  I actually think I'm in the best shape of my life right now.  My blood pressure was 97/52 at my last doctor's appointment and my resting heart rate is in the 50's.  Those are the real reasons people should exercise.  Not just for vanity.

It took me a long time to come around, but if this is the body I'm meant to have I think it's time to reconsider those designer jeans.  The "fat jeans" I bought in 2014 are getting too big.  I've worked hard, and the curvy me deserves them even more than the skinny me ever did.  

1.03.2017

12 Days of Awesome

De Nile river is not just a river in Africa because it's running all through me right now.  Deep.  Even as late as driving to work today, I thought that somehow I was wrong and I wasn't supposed to go back yet.  I had convinced myself that I would arrive to an empty parking lot and realize I did my calendar dates wrong and I had one more day.  I'd already done the work of getting up, but no matter, I'd happily drive home and hop back into bed with my slumbering husband.  Whelp.  That didn't happen.

I also meant to write a post about Christmas, and then I'd do a second post about New Year's, but that didn't happen either.

The worst thing about the holiday break is that I stumbled out of bed in the middle of the night at the Hard Rock Hotel and accidentally drank an $11 bottle of hotel water instead of the $1.99 bottle I brought from home.  In other words, my break was pretty awesome. 

By the end of the year I'm exhausted.  It doesn't matter how many vacations I've had either.  I'm exhausted, and it's cold, and all I want to do is curl up into a ball for the rest of my life.  It's a good thing I don't ever have a lot of holiday shopping to do, because I simply don't have the energy for it.  Malls, crowds, post offices.  NO.  I went straight to Amazon for one husband plus an adorable niece and nephew.  We usually do a family gift exchange, but we didn't even do that this year.  Everyone had an expensive year, and for a bunch of adults Christmas gifting is just not that important.  We'll re-evaluate next year.  I look forward to holiday break with a vengeance every single year.  It's the one reason I won't quit this job.  Well, it's not the only reason, but totally free days of paid time off for Christmas is pretty high up there.  The first official thing I did over Christmas break besides shut down my stupid  6:20am weekday alarm was eat pizza at happy hour, and it only got better.  There were plenty of lazy mornings drinking coffee and watching TV, that turned into an entire day spent in pajamas, but I didn't spend the entire time at home...although that doesn't sound half bad.
We didn't do cards.  This is it.
We opened presents on Christmas morning, just the two of us.  Guys.  He got me Chanel No. 5.  I have definitely heard of it, but never smelled it because why would I?  But it smells so good.  I don't know how much it costs but I'm pretty sure it's worth every penny.  He also got me the perfect cashmere sweater.  It fits exactly the way I like it.  He got me a few other perfect gifts, but he always does good when it comes to gifts.  This year I think I did pretty good too, and I have to add that I did not get one clue from him as to what he wanted.  Not one!  The only thing he could think of that he wanted and didn't already have is a gun and I'm absolutely not the best person to shop for it so that was out.  He went out and bought his own gun (as adults do) and I came up with some other things that he loved including that polka dot shirt from Land's End.  I wore my new sweater and he wore his new shirt that night to dinner.  We are those people who go out to dinner on holidays so Christmas dinner was at George's at the Cove- California Modern in La Jolla.  It was pricey, but at least I can say I didn't mind the bill that much because the food was so exceptional it felt worth it.

The day after Christmas we went to the movies to see Fences (Denzel Washington).  The day after that we hiked Mt. Woodson at Lake Poway which is 7.5 miles and very challenging.  Afterwards we went to the very same place we went to after the last time we did that hike and I ate the very same thing.  Nicky Rotten's!!  Nothing like a hot juicy burger and an ice cold beer after a 1,000 calorie hike.


Hard Rock Hotel for New Year's Eve was his idea.  Well, it was his friends idea, and that friend didn't even end up going, but we didn't let that stop us.  My first thought when MJ told me he booked the tickets was darn, I'm going to have to wear heels.  I gave up on heels.  I hate heels.  I no longer wear heels.  The last time I wore them was during the summer when I went out in Las Vegas and my feet hate heels so much one of the shoes broke.  Heels aside, I was still excited because we haven't done the going out thing for New Year's Eve since 2013.  MJ is here for a limited time only so we might as well live it up.  The folks who came to party at Hard Rock are serious.  They showed up in droves dressed to kill, and by that I mean in the shortest, tightest, lowest cut, shiniest dresses possible.  I was no exception (minus the sequins)! The place was packed, the dance floor was packed, and any semblance that I made any effort at all to do my hair was gone by the end of the night.  I toughed it out in those heels for as long as humanly possible which turned out to be three hours.  My hair was wilted and my feet were DONE, but those three hours were really fun! I drank just enough to wake up with a headache, which was no big deal really.  Nothing that a giant pancake couldn't cure.


We stayed at Hard Rock an extra night so the next day we went to breakfast...well it was more like brunch by the time I made it out of bed.  No, I did not order an entire cake for myself.  That giant thing is a baked cinnamon pancake from Richard Walker's Pancake House.  I was only able to eat half of it, but it was really good.  After that we walked over to the International Auto Show at the convention center, and then picked up food from a really loud bar called Bootlegger, where we saw an almost fight on our way out, and ate dinner in bed while watching a movie.  I really like eating in bed because it's something we don't do at home, and I'm telling you, the Cobb salad that came out of that box was one of the best I have ever eaten in my life.  It was great.  Everything was great.  Not even the accidental drinking of bottled water that cost more than a bottle of decent wine could bring me down.
The Gaslamp
I love a good staycation.  I felt like I had all the time in the world with myself and with my husband for sleeping in, watching TV, morning walks, and just existing in life without any real responsibilities.  I really, really needed that and I'm pretty sure I'm going to really really need it again in approximately 353 days. 


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