Sunday, January 3, 2016

Planning the 21 Day Fix with Menu Planner for iOS

The key to success on the 21 Day Fix plan is definitely in the planning. It is a simple concept that uses color-coded containers of various sizes that make it easy to ensure you are eating the right balance of foods, but you still have to translate it into daily living. Ultimately, it's a numbers game, and some advance planning goes a heck of a long way towards making sure you are able to do it right and see the best results.

Having the right tools at your fingertips is key. I have tried many ways to menu plan as I figured out what works for me, everything from basic handwritten lists to fancy spreadsheets with formulas that showed me how many containers I had left as I planned. Ultimately, I ended up wanting something that was easy to use on my iPhone and iPad, so I turned to my favorite planning app, Menu Planner for iOS.

It has a huge variety of features, but they don't get in the way so you can use as many or as few as you like. It can be used as a basic way to just type out your plan, or can be extended to include attached recipes and shopping lists created from your plan.  There are so many possibilities to really take your 21 Day Fix meal planning to the next level!

Adding Meals

Putting in your meals is as easy as tapping Add Meal, choosing the type (Breakfast, Snack, etc) and then tapping the + symbol to add an item. Type the food or meal name, and then you can just click Add as one-time use, or select the recipe or food that comes up (it's all customizable - to add a food or recipe name, just click the + sign on the top right and select which to create.


Adding Containers

To list out the containers for each meal/snack, I use the iOS symbols that match up with the container colors (found by clicking on the emoji icon on your keyboard). Just click on the dots next to the meal name and choose Add Note, then type in the containers used. To see a quick overview of the day's containers, tap on the sort button on the bottom and it shows only the meal titles and notes.

Copy/Move Meals

This is probably my most-used feature. I repeat a lot of what I eat, particularly things like breakfast and snacks, so it makes meal planning fast. Also handy for copying over leftovers from the night before. Bonus that it brings all the notes with it, so you don't have to retype the containers. To use, just tap the three dots to the left of the meal and select to Copy or Move, and it'll open up a little calendar to select the day to copy/move to, along with a preview of what's already planned for that day.

iPad version:

Adding/Viewing Recipes

It's handy to be able to have any recipes you need at your fingertips, so I also use the Recipe section a lot. There are two ways to add recipes - you can type them in yourself, you can import full recipes from the built-in web browser (only works with more major sites), or you can import just the link so it brings in the recipe title and links you straight to the page. Not only does it make it easy to view your recipes when prepping and cooking - they link right from your meal plan - it also provides great meal-planning inspiration by perusing your recipe book after you've got a collection in there. You can add to your plan right from the recipe book, and see the last time you had something.

Viewing Your Plan

There are daily, monthly and weekly views for your meals that makes it easy to see what you've got in store for making a shopping list - the iPhone and iPad are set up a little differently. My favorite view is the iPad's weekly view - it lets you see your entire week on a single page with the containers in the notes listed. From here you can also print your plans if you're more of a paper person. Tip - the notes aren't included in the printed copy - use a screen shot of the weekly view then print that.


iPad version:

There are lots of other features, from creating shopping lists to tracking your pantry stock, but that's how far I take it.  Perhaps this year I'll take it up to the next level!

For more app recommendations, check out my Top Apps for 21 Day Fix Success post.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Top Apps for 21 Day Fix Success

Like many out there these days, my iPhone is never far from my hand.  So when I started doing the 21 Day Fix, one of the first things I did was seek out apps that would help me keep up with it.  It's not difficult plan, but it is a big lifestyle change, and it takes some organization and planning to get the best results.  Here are my top recommendations for apps to help you succeed on the 21 Day Fix!*

21 Day Fix Tracker - Free - this is the official app from Beachbody, and it's fantastic for basic tracking.  When you open the app you tell it your gender and weight, and it presents the correct ratio of containers for your size.  Then for each meal just tap the containers you ate (allows for half containers), and it shows you what you have left for the day.  Great way to see the balance of your day too!  There's also a notes section that can be used for tracking workout details or a food diary, a handy area where you can see the complete food lists for each container, and a section where you can input measurements and weight for before and after transformation tracking.

Menu Planner - $2.99 - this is a menu planning app I have used for years, and it turned out to be perfect for planning the 21 Day Fix.  It's a full-featured app that not only lets you create custom meal plans easily, but also can import/store recipes, generate shopping lists from your plans, and even be used to track pantry inventory if you want to get really into it.  I love how simple it makes to create and view my plans (bonus that it syncs between your iPhone and iPad).  To track the containers I'm using while planning, I use the emoji keyboard on iPhone, which has hearts or diamonds symbols in each of the container colors.  For more details on how I use it, check out my post - Planning the 21 Day Fix with Menu Planner for iOS.

Waterlogged - Free - getting enough water is so key to seeing great results on the fix, and this app is a simple one for making sure you're hitting your goal.  The 21 Day Fix app above has water tracking, but I like the extra elements that this app brings, particularly the reminders.  For whatever reason, remembering to drink water is hard for me, even when the bottle is sitting right in front of me.  This app can remind you at regular intervals, or just when you're behind on your water goals.  You can also customize your goals and the size of the containers you drink from, which I really like.

BodyShot - $4.49 - it might be intimidating, or not seem all that important at first, but believe me when I say that you will appreciate having before and after pictures, even if you never share them with a single person.  Seeing proof of the changes in your body for yourself is extremely motivating to keep going!  Results truly are addictive.  Use this app to store pictures and track weight and measurements and you'll be able to see your progress easily at a glance and view side by sides.

Day One - $0.99 - one of the things I really wish I had done more of in the beginning was track my progress mentally and physically in a way I could revisit.  When I began the 21 Day Fix Extreme I also began using Day One as a fit life journaling app, and it has helped me not only have an outlet to share my victories and struggles, but also in a practical sense to easily reference which weights I used the last time I did the workout, and how I did with them.  It's also great way to form a private "brag book" of sorts of your fitness journey and revisit just how far you've come on times when you need a little extra motivation to keep going!

Facebook - Free - OK, you've probably already got this one.  But it's a must-have to join a challenge group hosted by a Beachbody coach that gives you an extra level of motivation, accountability and cameraderie you just can't get doing the program on your own.  Having support is so important, and finding people who have the same goals and are trying to reach them in the same way goes a long way towards helping you stick with it.  I have met so many wonderful people through my groups, and I owe a lot of my success to them!

Pinterest - Free - this is definitely the best place to get new ideas!  I have created quite the collection on my 21 Day Fix and Shakeology Pinterest boards whiling away the time waiting in lines or riding in the car.  You'll find recipes, meal plans, tips for eating out, and so much inspiration for how to use those little colored containers while still keeping things interesting.  It can start to feel repetitive sometimes, so I often turn to Pinterest for new inspiration to change things up.

Photofy - Free - if you're participating in challenge groups or sharing your journey anywhere, having a good photo editing app is a must.  I have gotten completely hooked on Photofy for creating fun photo collages, adding artwork and text to my photos, and sharing my experiences on the 21 Day Fix in a more creative and inspirational way.  It has so many features it's hard to name them all, but it's so versatile - you can drag borders to display collage photos better, add filters, select from a lot of fonts and artwork elements, add shadows, and more - there are even stock photos for creating your own fitspirational photos.  Easily my favorite photo editing app now!

*note that all of these are for iOS

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My 2015 Transformation with the 21 Day Fix

2015 was quite a year for me - so many changes for the better, and I owe a lot of that to the 21 Day Fix and Autumn Calabrese!  She gave me the tools I needed to focus my efforts and really kick start myself into becoming a woman truly comfortable and content in her own skin.

*Results may vary

I have always wanted to be thin, fit and happy with what I see - who doesn't? And I have definitely enjoyed plenty of my life that way - I was lucky that it came naturally when I was young. I also lost a lot of weight when I got married, and when I was between jobs - but I always had some kind of extra push. This year was the time I decided it was time to do it simply because I wanted (and needed) to. 

 I had tried to get myself back in gear repeatedly with very little results, so I never kept up with it long. Then one day I saw the 21 Day Fix infomercial. 

Yep, I was suckered in by an infomercial. But it looked doable! Exercise is never something I've enjoyed, but I can suck it up for 30 minutes. And the food plan looked flexible enough to work easily with my needs for a strictly gluten-free diet, and also not too radical - it's a good balance of protein, carbs, and produce, with a few treats available to keep it livable. So I took the plunge and officially began my first round June 15, 2015. At that time, I told myself I could do anything for 21 days. 

Next thing I knew, I was hooked. This was a plan that worked - I was actually seeing results! On top of that, I felt amazing. Between all the clean eating, Shakeology and exercise I was finally hitting all of the things I needed to make it happen. And I finally felt in control of my food.  You really can't exercise off a bad diet. 

In just a few short months, not only have I gotten myself to the point where I truly love my body for what it looks like, I'm also crazy impressed with what it can do. Those workouts are so effective in building strength and endurance! I regularly pushed myself to modify less and go up in weights, and it felt so good. By November, I was ready to take it to the next level with 21 Day Fix Extreme, and now I'm gearing up to try out the Master's Hammer & Chisel on Monday!  If you had told me in June I'd be attempting an advanced program in January I would have laughed. And yet here I am, at least ready to try.

On top of that, this program has upped my mental game considerably. I have the energy to do more than just what I have to, and it's paying off! I became a Beachbody coach, initially to help me afford my new Shakeology habit, but it has really started to open up possibilities for having my own business to provide extra income. On top of that, my performance at work improved and I was recruited for a new position at my company!  And thanks to my new healthy choices, I feel absolutely ready to take it on and succeed in 2016.  Confidence truly is priceless.

So what are you waiting for?  See what the 21 Day Fix can do for you!  Reach out to me on Facebook or at - I can help guide you along the way.  You've got nothing to lose but self doubt!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

21 Day Fix: Where to Begin

So you've made the decision to kick start your transformation with the 21 Day Fix. Great choice! You now have all the tools you need to achieve your healthy goals - the eating guide, the workouts, and can't forget the Shakeology - and you just have to follow it. Easy, right?

Then you open that box and start reading over your new plan, and suddenly it starts to seem a bit overwhelming. You get the workouts, the containers, and the lists of foods you can eat all laid out for you in a clear and simple way, but translating that into action can be challenging.

The good news for you is that I've been through it, and I can help! I've been following the plan with great success since June, and it has completely changed the way I treat and view my body. I even became a Beachbody coach because I loved it so much and wanted to share with others.

 The 21 Day Fix is designed to fit easily into your busy lifestyle, but it does take some planning to really succeed and get the results you want. So where do you start?

First of all, give yourself at least a few days, ideally a full week, to prepare. This is a major life change for most people - it takes some forethought! You want to have your equipment, food, and plan all in place before you begin so you can hit the ground running on day one.

Think about where you can do the workouts - you'll need a room with at least enough space to lay flat and spread your arms out (I have plenty of space on my 6x8 rug).  I recommend having some kind of padded surface as well if it's not a carpeted area - I put a thick nonslip carpet pad under the rug on my tile floor.  And if you don't have a ceiling fan in the room, I'd invest in a portable one!

In that area you'll also need a way to play the routines - if you just have the program, you'll need a TV and DVD player.  If you subscribe to Beachbody on Demand, you can stream the workouts from a variety of sources, including anywhere you have a web browser.

There is a resistance band modifier on all of the weights workouts on the 21 Day Fix, so technically that's all you need, but I really recommend using free weights.  I've used the band when traveling and it's doable, but kind of complicated and awkward.  The lighter weights are very inexpensive and easy to find.    I started with 3 and 5 pound weights - I was not necessarily a stranger to exercise, but it had been awhile since I'd done anything more strenuous than yoga.  Err on the side of lighter/no weights though if it's been awhile - that initial few days of sore is tough if you go too hard.  Plenty of time to work your way up as it gets easier!

You'll also want a yoga mat for the pilates and yoga days, and either a cushioned mat or a beach towel for extra padding for your hands/knees for the floor moves - really necessary to protect your skin if you're on carpeting.

Make sure you have comfortable workout clothes - I usually wear running shorts and lightweight workout tanks for the most mobility.  I switch out for yoga pants on the yoga and pilates days.  For the shoes, cross trainers are your best bet since there are a lot of lateral moves (I absolutely love my Asics Gel-Fit Sanas, super lightweight and flexible!).  Also good to have a water bottle and some extra hand towels for all that sweat you'll be pouring :)

Start thinking about what you're going to eat.  You only have to work out for 30 minutes a day.  You have to sustain yourself throughout the rest of it!  Without planning, it's easy to quickly derail on the food - and that is the key to seeing results on this plan.  Contrary to many hopes, you can't exercise off a bad diet.

You've got your portion ratios and a list of foods, but that's all it is - numbers and foods.  You've got to make meals of that!  Unless you live alone, you probably have to think about other people's needs and wants as well for at least some of those meals.  If you're eating something entirely different from your family, it's not going to be easy to stick with.  Look at the food list, and note down items you use in family meals and snacks already.  It'll be easier when you stick to what's familiar, especially at first.

Hit up Pinterest for recipes and meal plan ideas - there are so many out there!  Autumn also has a fantastic cookbook, Fixate, that makes it really simple to find family-friendly recipes and translate them into containers.

Finally, start working on your meal plan - check out my post for some tips!  I like to plan the entire week ahead of time so I can shop and prep over the weekend.  It takes the pressure off during the week, you are setting yourself up for success, and it saves a ton of time.  Seriously.  I can't stress this planning thing enough!

Another element to planning is when.  Schedule your workouts just like appointments so that you don't miss them.  For me, this time is first thing in the morning, because getting up earlier is my way of adding the time I need to my day.  I also am notorious for blowing it off after work.  But maybe you're an evening person instead because your mornings are crazy.  Figure out what time works for you, and plan it.  It's just 30 minutes!

Also think about when you'll do things like meal prep and shopping - for me, I like to plan on Saturdays, and shop and do some prep on Sundays and some each evening - for more tips, check out my meal prepping post.

I promise, you CAN do this!  It's such a great way to turn around your eating and exercise habits for the better in a way that fits into your life.  If you want more personal help and guidance getting started, I can help with that too - just get in touch at or head on over to my Facebook page.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Are You Ready for the 21 Day Fix?

It’s almost that time.  The time when everyone wakes up from their holiday celebrations and indulgences and realizes that the party has to stop sometime.  The time where all of the media that constantly surrounds us suddenly goes from displaying every indulgent treat imaginable to clean and healthy food, new exercise gear, and lose pounds fast fitness tips.  I welcome it - it’s about to be a fresh new year, and a great chance for a fresh new you!

I’m going to be starting a new round January 4th with a laser focus on my nutrition, as that is easily where I see about 90% of my results.  The workouts are fantastic, and a great way to keep your metabolism humming, your mood up, and sculpt those muscles – but when you add in the clean, balanced eating plan that’s where the magic starts to happen!

That is why the 21 Day Fix program was the key for me.  In the past I’d start a workout regimen and give up after seeing barely any results over the course of a few months despite logging long hours at the gym.  I thought I was making healthier eating choices, but I still wasn’t balancing them correctly and eating too much of the wrong things. 

This program not only gives you condensed 30-minute workouts that can be adapted to all levels and get you in and out quickly in the comfort of your own home, it also provides an eating plan that uses a simple color-based method of balancing your food choices so that you are feeding your body for optimal nutrition and fat burning.  Add in the month’s supply of Shakeology that comes with the challenge pack and all its amazing benefits, and you’re well on your way towards jump starting your own healthy lifestyle! 

Now, Autumn Calabrese will give you the plan, but I think that to really succeed you also need some guidance - and that is where I come in.  I’ve done these programs for over 6 months now, graduating from 21 Day Fix to the 21 Day Fix Extreme program, and I want to help you!  I have the experience with it and the connections in the Beachbody coaching world to answer your questions, provide tips and ideas for success, personal encouragement and motivation in my online challenge group starting Jan 4th.  If you’re interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Facebook or via email at

Also check back throughout the week as I post more about my transformation story and my tips for successful preparation for the 21 Day Fix program!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Simple & Delicious: Roasted Kale

So I've been a kale fan for awhile, but it doesn't come into the meal plan all that regularly since lately I seem to tend towards roasted vegetables that require little effort and cleanup. That is before I have now figured out how to roast kale in a way that I actually like it.

I had tried kale chips in the past and was not a fan. When it gets really crispy crunchy, it almost dissolves in your mouth and I really could not get behind that. But last night I started thinking about the idea of getting it to a partially crispy state, so it still had some of that greens texture, while also getting that nice flavor from browning that makes roasted vegetables so irresistible.

Not only did it work really well, bonus that it was super quick, simple and even delicious left over!

Roasted Kale
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 (I did mine on convection roast at 350).

Remove tough stems from kale and coarsely chop. Toss kale in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Line a baking sheet in foil. Spread kale out on the baking sheet (it's ok that it will not be in a single layer - it will shrink as it cooks).

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until leaves just start to brown.

I ate mine with a side of roasted spaghetti squash and chopped chicken, and it was really delicious! 21 Day Fix container equivalent of the above pictured plate - 2 green, 1 red, 1 teaspoon

I only ate about half of what I roasted last night, so I stored the rest in the fridge overnight and took it to work today for a hearty twist on my usual lunch salad. It was surprisingly really delicious cold, too! It even retained a little of the crispy texture.

I served it up with chopped chicken, quinoa, sliced almonds and balsamic vinaigrette. It is definitely going to be making an appearance many, many times in future lunch boxes! 21 Day Fix container equivalent - 1 red, 1 yellow, 2 green, 1 orange, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 blue

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chicken Tenders with Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli

I absolutely love spaghetti squash. If you haven't tried it, it's definitely worth a shot! It's simple to prep (although it does take some bicep strength to cut in half) and very versatile - it essentially just takes on the flavor of whatever you mix with it. Which is especially good when that something is cheese.
I paired my cheesy spaghetti squash with quick homemade chicken tenders and roasted broccoli, which I cooked at the same time while finishing off the squash on the stovetop. It was simple enough for a weeknight, and a healthy dinner that fits right in with the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan!

Chicken Tenders with Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli

Makes about 4 servings

  • 2 packages chicken tenders, about 2 lbs
  • 1 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (or any milk)
  • 1/2 tbsp gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 tbsp high-quality butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Spicy seasoning blend (I used Weber's Bold Chipotle)
Preheat oven to 400 for convection, 425 for regular oven. Cut spaghetti squash in half. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place cut side down on a lined baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, until squash is golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool, at least 15 mins.

While squash is cooling, spread the broccoli out on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, season with spicy seasoning. Next, prep the chicken tenders. Spread breadcrumbs, parmesan and spicy seasoning blend on a small plate. Drizzle the chicken tenders with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then press in the breadcrumbs. Lay out on a lined baking sheet.

Roast the broccoli and chicken tenders for approx 15 minutes, or until both are crisp and browned. If needed, roast the broccoli a few extra minutes while the chicken tenders rest.

While the broccoli and chicken is cooking, use a fork to shred the spaghetti squash (for a quick demonstration, check out my video). Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the gluten-free flour and whisk together until browned. Pour in the milk and whisk for about four more minutes, until smooth and thickened. Whisk in shredded cheese and remove from heat once melted. Stir in the spaghetti squash - add in stages, as depending on the size of the squash you may have more or less. Serve immediately with the chicken tenders and broccoli.

This dish also reheats really well! I run the chicken tenders and broccoli through a couple of rounds in the toaster oven, and microwave the spaghetti squash for about 30 seconds. Using the toaster oven crisps it right back up so it tastes as good as the first night!

21 Day Fix Serving Suggestion:

I served myself three chicken tenders, 1/2 green container of broccoli and 1/2 green container of the spaghetti squash and counted it as 1 Red, 1 Green, 1/2 Blue, 1/2 Yellow, 1 Teaspoon
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