80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 13

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I would be lying if I said that I was happy with the way 80 Day Obsession ended for me. But it's not for the reason you might think.

 
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I began my final week (Peak Week!) a day earlier than the rest of the world, on Sunday (essentially skipping my rest day), because I had plans on visiting some of of my college girlfriends in Brooklyn over the next weekend, right after my program ended. I was planning on flying out Friday night and knew that I probably wouldn't be able to complete the final workout ("Booty Day") on Saturday morning in my friend's apartment because I needed my weights. So I shifted everything a day back.

Last Sunday was Easter for my husband's family (they are Orthodox Christian), but it was also supposed to be a deplete day in Peak Week. Deplete days are essentially low carb days. In Peak week, it's 2 deplete days, then 1 regular eating day, then 2 deplete days, then 1 regular eating day, which is basically carb-cycling. I had done carb-cycling before when I did the "Countdown to Competition" meal plan with 21 Day Fix Extreme right before my wedding, so I wasn't really stressed or nervous to do it again. Even though it was Easter, I was able to stick to a mainly protein/veggie/healthy fats diet. So the week was starting off right.

I decided to do early AM workouts each day this week, even though I didn't necessarily need to. I'm not totally sure why, it just saved me some time in the evenings to get other stuff done. On Tuesday (leg day), I pushed myself extra hard. Upped my weights to mostly 20 pound free weights on all exercises. It felt AWESOME in the moment. But I really wish I foam rolled because I felt so sore the next day!

Turns out, though, the aches and pains might not just have been from the tough workout. I had been experiencing a scratchy throat for most of the week, but was pushing through it. The pain wasn't too bad and I could get through my daily activities just fine. Plus, next week my high school select choir is going to NYSSMA Majors and I wanted to rehearse with them.

 
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On Wednesday morning, I was only really able to get through about half of my Day 78 workout (I did one round of everything instead of two). When I got home from school on Wednesday, I took my temperature and crawled right into bed. I basically fell asleep at 4 PM. On Thursday morning, I still had my fever and my sore throat was way worse. I stayed home from work and went to the doctor. He said I had strep and needed to stay home from school on Friday, too, while I began antibiotics. The aches and pains I had been feeling might be from working out, he said, but could also be partially caused by the strep.

I was supposed to be flying to Brooklyn on Friday at 6:30 PM and so I asked him about this. He said that if my fever broke and I was feeling better, then I technically could, since I would have been on antibiotics for 24 hours at that point. But by midday on Friday, neither of those things had happened and I knew that I couldn't go. So I had to make the dumb, stupid grown-up decision and cancel my flight and suffer through my FOMO while my girlfriends saw a Broadway show and had brunch and enjoyed NYC.

 
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You might be wondering, what happened to Peak Week? What happened to the deplete days and Days 79 and 80 of the workouts? Yeah, those didn't happen. As I write this journal entry on Sunday, I am still in a bunch of pain, though my fever did break. I've ended up having a bunch of soup and froyo and jello and various other cold/hot smooth things which are NOT a part of the meal plan. 

I've learned two big things from this surprise week:

This guy, though <3

This guy, though <3

1) I have a great support system. As I was first getting sick, I kept thinking, "Oh my god, the dishes are piling up - I'm a bad wife. I have to cancel on this trip - I'm a bad friend. I'm not finishing this fitness program - I'm a bad leader. I have to ask all of the favors of my coworkers - I'm a bad colleague." But then, that began to flip all that in my mind. Sawyer has been taking care of me, essentially waiting on me hand and foot (with innumerable Wegmans trips) and taking care of all of our typically shared household chores. My friends were so kind and gracious in understanding why I couldn't go and sent me little texts and pictures over the weekend to check on me. My fitness challengers kept on rocking their own health journey and began following up with ME to see how I was doing. And my work friends really stepped in at the eleventh hour to make sure everything happened that needed to get done. So my feelings of self-pity and self-doubt have really shifted to gratitude.

2) 80 Day Obsession is not meant to be 80 days and then you're done. And I knew this all along, but this sickness was kind of like a reminder from the universe. Because fitness should continue to be a part of everyone's lives, not just for 80 days, but for almost every day. So it doesn't really matter if I did 78 days instead of 80 days, because as soon as I feel better, I'll just begin exercising and eating well again on what would have been my "81st day".

So what exactly am I going to do next? Welllllllll I actually think I am going to do 80DO again. Now, I think I can hear my friends and family gasp from hear, so before you get too nervous, let me say that I will be doing it with modifications. I will not be trying to follow the meal plan 100%. I will be enjoying wine with my girlfriends, and pizza with my family, and I will go out to lunch with my colleagues during Regents week in June. But I think I have learned how much I don't really need all of those things in order to have fun or enjoy myself. 

Of course, I find it humorous that after my 3-month self-imposed sobriety, I end up beginning a 10-day antibiotic regimen.

 
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If you're at all curious about what these workouts or timed nutrition could do for you and your health goals, or you want to do the modified 80 Day Obsession with me, just fill out this form here. We'll divide the 80 days into three 30-day challenges :) It's gonna be great! I can't wait to work with you!

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 12

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PHASE 3 IS OVAAA!!!! Just one week (Peak Week) left! 

Oh my goodness, what a blur. I feel SO motivated to crush the end of this program, but I'll tell ya, it was not like that earlier this week. About a month or two ago, we learned that the all of the heating systems in the school were being replaced this summer and that the teachers would need to fully pack up their classrooms by graduation. There was a little grumbling, but we generally accepted it. It needed to be done.

Then, about two weeks ago, the music department was told that our chorus room was going to be started over April break, so we would need to do it by then. Actually, by April 9th. Actually, could it be done ASAP?

So the beginning of our week was spent quickly breaking down and packing up that room (including my whole choral library) and moving things into the band room & general music room upstairs.

 
My desk is now in a practice room. Sorry kids!

My desk is now in a practice room. Sorry kids!

 

This led to a crazy few days where every free moment (you know, all that free time teachers have) was spent reorganizing and making sure everything was set and accessible for the rest of the year. My regular eating routine was totally thrown off. Even though I had meal prepped, I came so close to saying, "Whatever. I'm close enough anyways, almost done" and grabbing a snack from the vending machine in the teacher's lounge, or picking up fast food for lunch. Because I was TIRED and FRUSTRATED and didn't I deserve it??

But I DIDN'T do that. I ate the healthy food that I spent time buying and preparing. And I was proud of it. And I did my workouts before/after school, even when I just didn't feel like it. And that is where discipline and habit comes in.

 
TGIF!

TGIF!

 

Because I do these things day in and day out, I can continue doing them. It wasn't always this way. I've had false starts with programs before, where I will stop doing them after a few days and slip back into old bad habits. It has taken YEARS to build up this discipline. If you are following my story and ever feel disheartened because you are not seeing your own progress, I challenge you to STICK WITH IT. Try a week. And then another. And then a month. And soon enough, it will become easier and easier, because you will have momentum. You can do this. And if you need the push, join my FREE 5-day challenge clean eating challenge. And I will help you.

 
Four years of work!

Four years of work!

 

I am SO looking forward to peak week! There are 4 "deplete" days where we are carb cycling AKA basically just eating protein & veggies, for a final shred. It will be tough, but I know I can do it!

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 11

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Getting sooo close to the end! This past week was a blur. Our March concerto concert was Tuesday night. My high school choral groups performed, as well as my elementary band students (We did a 5th-12th grade piece all together! It was super cool.). I wore a dress from H&M that I've had for YEARS. At first, I didn't think I looked all that different from last year. But I actually can really see it in my face now! 

 
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Sometimes I am grateful for long days at school because then I am forced to be on top of my meal prep game. When I have all of my food ready for the day, it's super easy to stay on track. If I've had a long day, and I'm supposed to come home and cook dinner, it's ten times harder to stick to my healthy plan.

We had Friday off from school for Good Friday and Sawyer and I went to my parents' house for the weekend to celebrate Easter. My mom has been so awesome with making healthy food for me during these past 11 weeks whenever I'm home to visit. She always double checks if I can have certain foods and what recipes are okay. But (and I think she would agree with this), it's easier than you would think. What I'm eating is really nothing special, or that different from what many of you probably eat for dinner each night - a grain, a veggie, and a protein. Truly, it's the timing and eating 5 small/medium-sized meals throughout the day that is the more difficult part. And seriously, it's difficult because I'm eating MORE food that I probably would otherwise.

 
Me and one of my BFF's Annemarie at church in our hometown on Easter Sunday! Dress from Stitch Fix.

Me and one of my BFF's Annemarie at church in our hometown on Easter Sunday! Dress from Stitch Fix.

 

I reallllllllly wanted beer or wine when we were just hanging out together Saturday night. We were playing Pinochle & Rummikub with my parents and a glass of wine would have just been perfect. I will not lie, as this journey has gone on, I have gotten more relaxed with my nutrition. On Easter Sunday, I straight up had like 20 Hershey kisses. I think I am eating closer to like 95/5 or 90/10 (stricter than my usual 80/20 balance in my regular fitness journey life, but not that perfect 100 that this program really wants you to be at). But I did not have any alcohol. I will be waiting on until this program is done to have that glass of red wine.

Instead, I texted my best friend Carina (who is also on this 80 day journey) and we commiserated together and then encouraged each other to stay strong. Community has been key is continuing on this journey. When I do temporarily think I want to call it quits, the 10 women that are doing this program with me (virtually, via our Facebook group) have totally got my back. 

If there is one thing I've learned over these past eleven (11!!!) weeks, it's that nutrition really makes all the difference. "You can't out train a bad diet" is something that I've heard over and over again in my fitness journey, but I can REALLY see that now. So much so, that it's inspired me to run a FREE 5-day healthy eating challenge for all of you out there. This is going to be Monday, April 16th - Friday, April 20th. I will create a 5-day clean eating meal plan and we can all follow it together. We can totally do five days with no cheats, if only to prove to yourself that you can do it (and see/feel the physical and mental changes that come from eating clean, even after just five days). If you want IN on this free challenge, just fill out this quick application here.

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 10

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I cannot BELIEVE I have completed ten weeks of this program! It is honestly mind-blowing. At the beginning of this journey, I remember feeling like the 80 days would never come. Now it feels like they are going by too fast. I made a comment to a friend last week that it kind feels like a summer camp that is coming to a close (she laughed, but it's true!). I will also miss the exclusive little group of 10 women that I am on this journey with. We can do this again, of course, but it won't be the same. However, I have been thinking about doing this again, though not as strictly... but that's a post for another week.

This past week was pretty intense. Sawyer was out of town and I theoretically should have had more free time to myself. Somehow, though, I had things going on after school most nights, so I had to do early morning workouts. I think I prefer the early AM workouts, though. I have much more energy throughout the day (which is great for teaching, particularly when I'm working with my elementary band students!) and then just have more time to myself in the afternoon & evening. Whatever program I do after these 80 days are up, I think I will keep my early morning routine going.

 
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My nutrition was mostly on point this past week. There were times I "binged" (I'm putting these words in quotes... while I did literally binge, I don't feel any guilt or any other negative feeling associated with the word) but it was on foods that are a part of my plan (extra slices of sprouted multigrain bread, for example) and I truly think my body needed it. If I continue with timed nutrition & intense workouts, I think I may need to increase my caloric intake a bit. I'll have to crunch the numbers, but that is what feels right for my body.

Even after "overeating", my weight & body fat percentage has been steadily decreasing. It really is a great feeling, to know you're working hard and see results.

But every day is not all sunshine and rainbows. I mentioned body image issues in my Instagram post. Listen, I am LOVING my toned arms and baby abs and I worked hard to earn them. But no matter how hard I work, I will always have accessory axillary breast tissue (present in 2%-6% of women), unless I get surgery. They will decrease as my body fat percentage goes down, but diet and exercise alone cannot rid them. Those extra little lumps of fat have driven me crazy for years. They are what have made me question every tank top, dress, and bathing suit I have ever owned. Prom & wedding dress shopping were terrible - I overanalyzed every dress I tried on because of that armpit fat... "Should I go with this sleeveless dress? Or try something with sleeves that will cover these?"

 
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I was certain that everyone stared at them. I still think people do. But my self-confidence has increased over my fitness journey and here is a big reason why - PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. Yes, basically "self-help" books. I prefer to think of them as inspirational quotes in book form. Listening to audiobooks on personal development has been KEY in building up my confidence. My two favorites are:

  1. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
  2. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

Even though sometimes I have moments of self-doubt, I think about how far I have come. And that makes me smile and feel proud. If you ever see me wearing something sleeveless, you know: I am feeling like one badass lady. If you are dealing with body image issues (or maybe you have axillary breast tissue, too!), I hope that this post inspired you. I'd love to chat personal development books further, if you want more recommendations!

Three more weeks!

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 9

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Soooo yeah, I cheated on my meal plan a TON this week. And it wasn't just one day. It was multiple days.

The week started out rough for me. It was the first week after the musical, and theoretically I should have more time and be able to "do it all", but that never happens for me. More time = more time to procrastinate. I did manage to meal plan and grocery shop last Sunday, but I never got to the "prep" part. I figured I would do it Monday morning.

Well, with my sheer exhaustion from show weekend, plus Daylight Saving's, I woke up SUPER late for school on Monday. Like, at-the-time-I-normally-leave late. And I was not meal prepped. Woof. As I was throwing clothes on and trying to fix my hair and make-up and look like a semi-put together adult, I heard Sawyer getting up and asking what I needed made. I told him that he didn't have to, but he insisted that he helped, even though that meant getting up an extra hour early for him! He is so sweet. Best husband ever.

 
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As I raced downstairs, we finished the last few items together and off I went to school. When I got home that night I completed the rest of the week's actual meal prep. So the rest of the week should be smooth sailing, right?

Wrong.

The sugar craving hit early in the week. Not sure what it was, but I needed sugar BAD. And my body couldn't be tricked by fruit sugar, no no no. It needed that high fructose corn syrup. And even though I really keep nothing in the house to tempt me, I knew that there was some Aunt Jemima Lite syrup hidden in the back of a cabinet. While I have (mostly) switched to use real maple syrup, Sawyer still likes the fake stuff. So we have both.

 
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And I went to town. That bottle in the picture? Yeah, that was mostly full earlier in the week. I DRANK ALMOST AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF LITE SYRUP, FOLKS.

Later in the week, carb cravings hit. I ate a bunch of extra multigrain tortillas (they're in the meal plan, but not like 4 at a time). And on Sunday, we had a little "Thanksgiving in March" (hey, we really liked Thanksgiving food, okay?) at my mother-in-law's and while I did bring my own baked potato, I also ate some of the stovetop stuffing and a slice of pumpkin pie.

Woof. This is the most off-track I have been throughout this entire journey.

 But I don't feel particularly bad about it.

For starters, if I look at everything I ate last week critically, I would be following the 90/10 rule, I would say (90% clean, 10% "dirty" or processed). Following the 80/20 rule is what's recommended for weight loss and is what I subscribe to typically (and will FO SHO return to). This is just an extreme program that I am doing because I want to see if I can do it. I'm pushing myself here. This is not for the weight loss beginner, I'll tell you that.

And guess what? Even after "all that", I woke up on Saturday at my LOWEST WEIGHT AND BODY FAT PERCENTAGE since high school. I now fall into the "normal" brackets for BMI and body fat percentage. I have been in the overweight/obese ranges for as long as I can remember. And the reason I achieved this is because I still did my workouts and drank my water and got good nights' sleep and did not give up on myself. Do not give up on yourself! Each day is a new day.

 
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But clearly, meal prep is my key to success. I really feel like it's my jam & helps me be successful. When I've got it done, I am WAY more likely to be on track with my nutrition. I was so inspired by this week, that my next health & fitness challenge group is going to center around meal prep, and how meal prep saves you time and helps you lose weight. We're gonna start on March 26th - the three-week challenge will line up perfectly with my last three weeks of 80 Day Obsession! If you think you'd like to be a part of this, please fill out this interest form and I'll be in touch with you.  I'd love to be your coach <3

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 8

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THIS WAS THE TOUGHEST WEEK OF MY LIFE BUT EVERYTHING WAS SOOO WORTH IT!!!

Our school put on an AMAZING production of "The Addams Family" this past weekend. Like seriously, both of our show nights were AWESOME. I was so proud of all of the students and adults involved.

 
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I am the pit band conductor for our shows. If any of you have done musical theater before, you know that tech week can be TOUGH. They are long, grueling nights. I taught until 3:10 and then we began at 5:30 and went until 9:30 or 10 each night. Kids actually began getting into make-up much earlier than 5:30. I just stayed through at school, but it wasn't a lot of time to get anything major done.

I had to get my workouts done in the morning before school. It was the only way. And I was super tired doing so. But I was committed.

In our school (and many schools, I think), parents provide potluck dinners for all those involved in the show on the nights of tech week. And our students' parents do a fabulous job. They make tons of amazing entrees and desserts, enough for everyone, even our custodial staff. I think the toughest thing about this week (even tougher than waking up at 4:30 AM) was declining this food each night. It's not that I wanted the food, really. It was mostly casserole-type things designed to be made in massive quantities and give the kids quick energy. But it was saying a polite 'no' to all of the parents that really just wanted to give back to us, the production staff.

 
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I ate my carrots, brown rice, and plain Greek yogurt with unsweetened coconut each night alongside everyone else. I was pretty much a creature of habit last week. I don't get bored eating the same foods, and since I wasn't cooking for Sawyer, I didn't vary my dinners. Some of my students noticed my "weird" eating (they always seemed to catch me eating carrots...) and poked a little fun at me, but I wonder if I affected them in a positive way at all. Maybe they took salad at dinner when they otherwise wouldn't have. Maybe not. I like to think that they did.

But anyways, the show went SUPER well. It was so great. And putting on a show always brings people together, and that includes teachers and students. It was so lovely. But I am looking forward to getting more sleep and more free time to myself in the upcoming weeks. Phase 3 is up next! I'm loving the results I'm seeing from the first two phases. I can't wait to see where Phase 3 brings me!!!

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 7

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Alright, Week 7 is in the books! We hit the halfway mark during this week - day 40/80. I'm amazed at how far I've come, but I know I've still got a long way to go. T

his past week has had some high moments as well as low moments. I had late nights after school each week for the musical and just stayed through, instead of going home, to save on mileage and gas. This meant that I had to meal prep EVERY meal of the week and pack it with me each day. I also brought along things to make tea (with some 1% milk and raw honey) in my classroom. 

On the very first day of the work week, I ended up eating the entire jar of honey that I brought with me, a la Winnie-the-Pooh. I don't even know what really happened; I would have a spoonful and then I just felt compelled to finish the whole thing. Like I had to do it. I thought I had really kicked my sugar craving back in Week 2 of this program, but it came back with a vengeance on this day.

 
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I initially was extremely disappointed in myself and turned to the awesome ladies in my 80 Day Slay challenge group for support. They totally built me back up and I knew that I would make the next day a fresh start. And then I went to my musical rehearsal and conducted for two and a half hours and I'm pretty sure I worked off a bunch of that sugar, haha. Conducting a show every single night for two weeks is in itself an arm workout!

And you know what? The rest of the week turned around! I finished listening to my audiobook ("Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders) and started listening to some BOPS on my way to and from work. I had some really great energized days. And it was getting warm out!

Then on Thursday night, right as I was starting to feel like I was stuck in my own personal Groundhog Day (wake up, work out, teach, rehearse, sleep, repeat), the weather took and turn and it began to snow a TON. I got up early on Friday anyway to get my workout done (just in case I did have to go in to work), but we did get a snow day :) I'm glad I worked out early, though. Doing something active every day is just a part of my routine now, like brushing my teeth. It is a habit more than anything. A healthy habit!

 
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Friday was the best possible day to get a snow day. It landed right on a day with no musical rehearsal, where our students could get lots of rest and enjoy a 3-day weekend (with one tech rehearsal). My own dress rehearsal on Friday evening got cancelled due to the weather, but it was ok. It's a professional group that I sing with and we were ready for our concerts on Saturday and Sunday.

I grocery shopped on Saturday and did some meal prep on Sunday. I love having my routine! This is it coming up - the big week. The 6-day reason why I almost didn't embark on this 80-day journey AT ALL: tech week.

For those of you who have ever been involved in high school theatre before, you know that tech week is a long, grueling process. It's a week where, once you arrive to work each morning, you think, "Wasn't I JUST here?". And you were. Precisely 9 hours ago.

And yet I will still get up and fit in my 40-60 minute workouts and grab my meal prepped food and shower and drive to work to teach. It will happen because I want it to happen. I'm seeing results and I like the way I feel. I've made this a discipline. "It always seems impossible until it is done".

 
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Last week, as I was remarking to my beginning band students how I was impressed that not a single one of them had quit this year (as 5th graders had in years past), one of my flute students said to me, "Well, I remember in the beginning of the year, you said don't quit, that it will be hard at first, but that's not a reason to quit. And it was hard but now I can play!". <3

We can do hard things, people. ONWARD.

 

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 6

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Week 6 was very good indeed. It was February break for me, which ended up being ok. I spoke a lot on my Instagram story last week about how I am sometimes less on top of my fitness and nutrition whenever I have a school break. A lot of teachers seemed to agree - even though we have more time, the lack of structure really throws us off. Somehow, the day gets away from us and we find ourselves thinking, "Wow, I would be teaching 4th period by now on a normal day! Where did the time go?" before we've even really eaten or done anything productive.

 
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Monday I had completely free, except for a dentist appointment, so I was totally able to workout grocery shop, and even do a little meal prep. Even though I'd have time to cook this week, I'm still lazy and would like to just grab and go.

But Tuesday-Thursday, I visited my parents in Albany (well, Clifton Park). In order to stay on top of my workouts, I needed to bring my free weights with me. My parents do have some weights at their house, but I definitely wanted to bring my 15s and 20s. It wasn't all that difficult, just a few extra things to pack. And I'm glad I did! I really pushed myself last week, upping my weights even more.

 
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Let's talk about Wednesday real quick - Wednesday was REFEED DAY. And it was awesome. I have never experienced a fitness regime that actually INSTRUCTED me to eat things like bagels and brownies before. The 5 "dirty yellow containers" (white carbs) that I had were half a Bruegger's bagel (which are better than LI/NYC bagels, in my opinion... :P), a chickpea brownie, a burger bun (1/2 the bun is one serving, so I had both halves), and a handful of pretzels (I had Snyder's butter pretzels... one of my FAVE snacks and something I used to kind of binge on/mindlessly eat in the past). The rest of my day was pretty much the same. I still ate at specific times. I still did my workout. It wasn't a cheat day... we went to City Beer Hall in Albany before a Sienna basketball game with my parents, but I did not get beer. That's where I had my delicious burger, though!

 
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When I was back in Cuse on Thursday night, we went to our friends' house to try homemade pho and play Dungeons & Dragons for the first time. Both were awesome and we'll definitely by trying both again! On Friday & Saturday night, Sawyer and I ate out at Azteca (a Mexican restaurant) and Asuka (the sushi place from last week). Since the next two weeks are going to be so busy for me, I wanted to spend time out with Sawyer. I was able to stay on point with my meal plan the whole time.

The next two weeks are late nights... we have rehearsal for the musical nearly every night. I also have my own dress rehearsals and concerts for the professional choir that I sing with on the days when I don't have musical rehearsal. It's gonna be crazy! I'm also not coming home between school and rehearsal to save on time/gas/mileage, so I'm getting up early and doing my workouts then. Check out my Instagram stories - every day I post my sweaty selfie!

These two weeks were the reason why I considered not even starting this 80 day program. But, after going through 6 weeks of the program, I know I can do this. It might even be EASIER than last week, because everything in my day has to be so regimented. My workouts will be done first thing in the AM and my meals will all be packed (saving me money!).

Sawyer was also so cute yesterday. As we were putting away groceries together yesterday, I mentioned that I had forgone a few items in order to stay close to our grocery budget for the month of February. Then later that evening, I went to a dress rehearsal with my professional choir. When I got back, Sawyer said he had gone to Wegmans and gotten me treats - he had picked up all of the things I skipped when shopping before! He got a bunch of berries, seltzer water, natural peanut butter, and my face wash. He is definitely a keeper <3

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 5

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Week 5, ahh, what a change!

The workouts were more intense in such an awesome way. AND the number of calories I get to consume was bumped up due to that workout intensity sooo it was a win-win. More healthy carbs and fruits. So it was win-win-win?

The order of the workouts each week is different now that it was in Phase 1. It now goes:
Monday - booty day
Tuesday - cardio core (the workout that once made me cry)
Wednesday - AAA (arms, abs, and butt :P)
Thursday - leg day
Friday - total body core
Saturday - cardio flow
Sunday - rest day

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My husband Sawyer was supposed to be out of town in the middle of this week, but his work trip got cancelled. Which was fine, that means I got to see him more, but I was planning on BLASTING my music to help me get through some of these workouts and I didn't want to bug him with it, especially since I had to do my Wednesday workout in the early AM. I had pit band rehearsal after school and then 8th grade parent night in the evening (what a way to spend Valentine's Day!). I still did pump up the jams for cardio core - I NEED it. It's what gets me psyched up instead of psyched out. I don't know why I can suddenly lift heavy, but ask me to do some cardio, and I wimp out.

I ate dinner out three times this week. And I still stuck to my meal plan! On Tuesday night, I took my girlfriend Olivia out to dinner for an early birthday celebration. She picked this AWESOME Mexican place that I'd never been to (San Miguel in Syracuse, check it out). I am proud to say that I resisted the chips & salsa (now that is the true test of self-control). I ordered the carne asada and ate the steak (protein), pico de gallo + onions sauteed in butter (veggies and oil), and refried beans (carb). I skipped out on the guac and most of the rice on my plate. And the tortillas on the side. Now I love me some flour tortillas. My friends and family can attest to me eating MULTIPLE plain flour tortillas. So that is a huge non-scale victory for me, to be honest.

I had takeout from Francesca's (I got the steak salad) on Friday and we tried a new sushi place near our house on Saturday (Asuka Grill & Sushi Bar). Sushi is actually pretty easy to eat on the meal plan. I tried seaweed salad for the first time and it was GOOD. It's something I'm gonna get every time I order sushi now! So pumped this new restaurant is only like 4 minutes from our house.

On Saturday, Sawyer and I were invited to join our friends Chris & Amanda for couple's yoga at Mandala Moon Yoga in Marcellus. It was perfect timing in my workout week - I had done my Saturday workout early in the AM, so I was up for a good stretch. And I was excited to try out partner yoga - I had never done that before. It was really cool that Sawyer was so open-minded about trying it. The last time he did yoga was on New Year's Day 2014 or 2015 (basically, we woke up feeling so gross after eating/drinking, that we felt we needed to do something healthy, so we pulled out the only at-home workout I had at the time - a generic yoga DVD from Target or Wegmans).

Check out these awesome poses we got to do! I am so proud of us! 

I am always so so glad when I get to do healthy things with other people, or when I see those around me being influenced to make healthy choices. I am looking forward to Week 6 next week, mostly because I will get a REFEED DAY on Wednesday! Which means that I get to eat "dirty carbs" AKA white bread to replenish the glycogen in my muscles and set my body up for success on Thursday's leg day.

I am also nervous. Because it is my February break. So I get a week off from teaching. This would sound like I'd have more time to eat right and exercise, but I know myself. I know that I will waste a lot of time next week dilly-dallying around and getting nothing done. I much prefer the structure of school/the work week. I know to many that may sound crazy, but there are definitely teachers out there who agree with me!

I plan on spending a few days out in Albany with my parents. You best believe that I'm taking all of my weights with me and getting my workouts in! Hold me to it!

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 4

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Feeling pretty darn proud of myself!!!

I have now finished 26 days of this 80 day program, which OFFICIALLY marks the end of Phase 1! There are three total phases :)

I did much better in Week 4 than I did in Week 3. My mindset was much more positive all around. I need to get back into reading personal development books (or rather, listening to them. I love www.audible.com) and get back into consistent mindset work. Some people call personal development books "self-help books" and attach a stigma to them, but they really do help improve your mindset in all areas of your life. The books that I've read have totally transformed who I am as a fitness enthusiast, teacher, wife, friend, and daughter. The last one I finished in mid-January and was called The Happiness Project. If you have any recommendations for my next read, I'd love to hear it!

I'm really impressed with how I've started saving money as I grocery shop for healthy foods, too. At the beginning of this 80 day journey, my grocery bill was a little higher than normal. I do eat more food while following this plan than I would otherwise. In the weeks leading up to this, I would usually have a superfoods shake on the way to school, eat my lunch that I meal prepped, and then make dinner at home. I would snack in between on whatever I could find (mostly the candy in my desk....). Now that I'm adding 2 planned snacks in the day, plus my preworkout meal, there's more food to buy. But instead of the berries I had in Week 1, I'm buying more bananas, clementines, and apples. I can get way more for my buck. Instead of snacking on 6 shrimp once a day, I'm having plain Greek yogurt that I can get in a Family Pack size at Wegman's. So my grocery bill has come down. And even though I am going UP a meal plan next week in Phase 2 (I'll be on Plan B, which adds another fruit, healthy carb, and healthy oil to my daily intake), I think it will still be consistent. Saving money = winning.

Another thing I did this week was I actually track my weights by writing them down, to see if I made improvements from week to week. I KNOW that I've upped my weights throughout the four weeks of Phase 1, but I didn't keep track of it, so I can't be sure! Ugh! But better late than never :)

But speaking of tracking, I have tracked my weight, body fat percentage, and measurements since Day 1 of this journey. And my results from Phase 1 are pretty freaking awesome.

I have lost 5.8 pounds, 1.6% body fat, and 5.5 total inches (meaning an inch off my hips, a half inch off of each thigh, etc.)!

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to look BEYOND the scale. If I was to look just at the weight loss, I would be pretty disheartened. All of this strict nutrition and exercise for just 1ish pounds per week? Yeesh. BUT the drop in body fat percentage and inches really are the key indicators. They mean that I am dropping fat stores and gaining muscle. I HIGHLY recommend getting a cool scale that measures your body fat percentage and measuring tape (you can literally get them at the dollar store).

The other way I recommend tracking your progress is by taking pictures. Yes, it totally feels goofy doing so in the moment. But it really helps you visually see your progress. I see less bulge in my back photos and more toned arms and a lifted booty in my side profile photos.

Progress makes you feel good. And it makes you motivated for more. I always tell my challengers to look for those small non-scale victories... do you clothes fit better? Are you generally happier? Is your skin clearer? These are all things that can come from maintaining a healthy diet and staying physically active. And they are all just as important, if not more so, than the number on the scale <3 Look for your own victories this week, my friends! I can't wait to hear about them!!

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 3

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At about 5:30 AM last Wednesday, I was ugly crying as I stepped half-heartedly side to side, trying to follow along with the perky workout crew on my TV.

 
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Sometimes it's not glamorous, folks.

I wrote last week how I've never been 100% perfect with a fitness/nutrition plan after the two-week mark. I totally psyched myself out for Week 3 by doing this. And by Wednesday, all of the negative thoughts were running through my mind: this is ridiculous, why am I waking up to do this, I am too busy for this, I don't want to eat these foods, this is too much with the musical, I look like a crazy person with my cooler full of food each day, etc. 

I posted about my bad workout to my Instagram story and to my fitness challenge group (gotta keep it 100 with you all). The support I got was wonderful. My teacher friend Meghan, who does BBG, messaged me and said "We all have those days. But you did the workout. I mean, you didn't skip it. Think about what you'd tell your students." She is SO RIGHT.

Just because something is hard, it doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. Autumn Calabrese says all of the time during the workouts, "You can do hard things". And she's totally right. I've been incorporating that phrase into my teaching, particularly with my beginner band students and my select high school women's choir (though I rephrase it to "You can do tough/difficult things" it doesn't sound as inappropriate, haha).

The biggest part is that I DID NOT GIVE UP AFTER THAT UGLY CRY. I stuck with my meal plan (mostly because everything was already prepped and it was literally easier to grab the pre-portioned bags of food rather than cook unhealthy things - meal prep ftw) and you know what? In the next few days, I felt like a BOSS during my workouts. And now I'm 25% done with the program! 20 of 80 days COMPLETE! Just one more week and we are out of Phase 1. Two more phases to go (plus the final "peak week").

 
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Next phase, I am actually going to be adding MORE food into my diet. I need to - I think I have hit a plateau in terms of fat loss. I lost 6 pounds and 1% of body fat after Week 1, but have remained pretty stagnant sense. I think my body is clinging on to what it's got right now because I am taking in slightly too few calories for the level of intensity of the workouts. So yes, I am going to eat more to lose more. WIN.

I have also found that when I eat certain complex carbs (like whole wheat pasta), I have CRAZY bloating. So I'm going to begin adding these probiotics during Week 4 to help. But only when I have certain foods that seem to cause the bloating. It will be trial and error.

I am very much looking forward to the "refeed days" coming up in the next two phases. We use the refeed days to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles for harder workouts. I am already dreaming of what I'm going to have... the first one is right during my February break, too. I'm picturing waffles, a burger bun, and maybe white pasta. Mmmm.

After this program, I for sure will go back to my 80/20 lifestyle for eating healthy/indulging. There will be wine. There will be sweets. But there will also be new things in my diet, like eating before I workout (never did that before this program) or actually choosing to eat carrots (they are super satisfying to me right now. I've hated them all my life. Go figure).

But I have to see this thing through. And see if I can do it. WE CAN DO TOUGH THINGS!

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal - Week 2

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Another week in the books! I've still been 100% on top of my workouts and timed nutrition, which is a good thing! Some wins: I've started doubling up my resistance loops and going up in my weights for leg day, which is a big deal for me! It means I'm getting stronger. I actually saw a post-workout photo of me on Timehop from last year where I posed with my 5- and 8-pound weights. Now my 8s are my light weights! On leg days, I use 20-pound weights for my heavies. But there's no shame in anyone's game... where you are at is where you are at. Everyone's journey is different.

 
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Speaking of different journeys, I've been thinking a lot about food lately. The 80 Day Obsession program is all about timed nutrition and there is a big focus on eating clean foods. Basically, cutting out processed foods, like fast food, things with added sugars and sodium, and also alcohol. I have honestly been okay with it all so far. I have really embraced food as the fuel for these tough workouts I'm doing. And I've gotten to have some awesome things. I am LOVING the awesome things I can make with my air fryer. Mostly the sweet potato fries. The air fryer is essentially a convection oven that requires little to no oil to give things a fried texture and taste. It doesn't "make things healthy", but it is just a healthier way to make a fried food. Or "fried" food, rather.

 
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But I'm not gonna lie, my cravings hit hard Saturday night. I really wanted something sugar-y. You know those soft, white cookies with the thick colorful frosting that come in packs of 6 or so? Yeah, those. I reeeeally wanted those. AND I know I am going to have to battle my cravings for them on Tuesday night. My school hosts a winter Art & Music Gala and the parent-teacher association provides the snacks and those cookies are ALWAYS there.

Some people's health & fitness journeys have room for these sweets and that is totally cool. That is THEIR journey. My journey for these 80 days is gonna be NO treats. I just need to see if I can do it. There will be treats then. Some of my girlfriends from Syracuse University are getting together in Brooklyn in April - on the 80th day of this program. You know wine will be had that night!

Here's one of my biggest secrets: I have NEVER followed a Beachbody meal plan perfectly. The closest I've ever gotten was when I did the Countdown to Competition meal plan in from 21 Day Fix Extreme in the weeks leading up to my wedding. I did the first two weeks well... but then by week three, I let my final dress fitting psych myself out (read about that epic breakdown here...) and I started deviating from the plan AKA drinking wine & having Chi-Moe's-le (Chipotle with Moe's queso, obviously). 

 
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What I've learned from all of that is that I used food (and alcohol?) as a comfort when I was feeling low. Now I am trying to rely on other things. The natural endorphin high from exercise, soothing baths, reading a fun book, etc. But my point is that I've never made it past two weeks. Let's see what Week 3 brings...

 
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80 Day Obsession Journal – Week 1

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Ok, wow. These 80 days are going to be no joke.

I'm not gonna lie, I thought a few times about quitting already. I think that's pretty normal, particularly with such a stringent program. 

Basically, the nuts and bolts of this program are intense workouts with timed nutrition. Each workout is about an hour long (I miss the 30 minute workouts of 21 Day Fix!) and you eat certain food groups based on when you do your workout. Most days, I've been doing my workouts after work, which has been nice. I get to "sleep in" (only until about 5:45 or 6 AM... #teacherproblems) and it's been a nice change of pace. I was an early morning workout person for a while last year.

The only trouble so far is that if I workout after school, sometimes "dinner" can fall pretty late in the evening, because of the timed nutrition. But my husband and I have been able to eat together most nights!

The week started off a bit rough because I was experiencing vertigo problems from a viral inner ear infection. But my doctor said I was cleared to workout. I modified VERY heavily on Monday's and Tuesday's workouts, particularly the moves requiring balance. I liked the moves when we were on the ground.

This program has us using resistance bands and floor sliders, in addition to weights and I'm finding them pretty fun to use. The bands have been rolling up on my legs a bit, but I seem to be finding my groove with them and it's getting easier. Which is exactly what Autumn Calabrese (the creator of the program) said would happen. Trust the process, Rachel.

Wednesday was an interesting night because I had an evening pit band rehearsal for the musical. Driving home and back would waste a lot of time (and gas and mileage) and I wouldn't be able to get a proper workout in at home. Soooo I brought my equipment and clothes with me and worked out in my classroom! Teacher friends, have you ever done that??

 
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As the week progressed, I was feeling really pleased with myself. I stuck with the meal plan 100% perfectly. That part was easy... but ONLY because I had done my home work and meal planned and prepped the weekend before. I use a Google sheet to write out all of the things I need to eat and when. This is when being a teacher is kind of helpful, because my life is so prescribed by time anyways, that I could fall into a routine really easily (ex. eating a protein, healthy fat, and veggie during my 4th period 8th grade study hall).

Friday was what I anticipated to be my biggest hurdle. Sawyer and I have resolved to do a date night once a month and so on Friday we went out to dinner and a movie. I was nervous to eat out, but it actually was fairly simple, since we picked a steakhouse. I had the most delicious filet mignon, onions/mushrooms, and some mashed potatoes, which was what I was supposed to eat post-workout (a protein, a veggie, a carb, and a teaspoon of oil). The toughest part was skipping on the wine selection at dinner and the popcorn/candy at the movies. But I was on a mission!

 
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Waking up Saturday morning, I FINALLY felt sore. I hadn't felt very sore all week, but Friday's leg workout killed me! Saturday was my first official weekend pit band rehearsal with my students - I usually bring them snacks. I brought a dozen donuts, but resisted eating any (even though some looked cute!). I posed this question to my health/fitness Facebook group - what healthy snacks can I bring them?? Some of my students asked for veggie/fruit trays, which I will happily bring!

After rehearsal at school in the morning, and a long nap, I finally got in the final workout of the week and man was it tough. I'll have to post some videos from the Saturday workout to my Instagram story next week. It's bonkers.

Sunday was my meal plan/grocery shop/meal prep/get-everything-done-before-my-own-rehearsal-day.I sing with a professional group that rehearses Sunday nights, which is sometimes a big stressor because I feel so crunched for time to get ready for the week. I did end up getting everything ready, but I did not do the suggested foam rolling (even though I did get this Gaiam foam roller - I'll try it next weekend). I did, however, get a chance to relax in my friend's hot tub, so I'll take that for a rest day ;)

 
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MY ACTUAL BIGGEST CHALLENGES: I honestly think Sunday, my rest day, was my toughest day BECAUSE that day had much less structure than the rest of the week. I didn't eat for like 5 hours (I was out doing errands and shopping and didn't bring anything with me!). I'm supposed to eat every 2-3. But I think it's ok! I also am not drinking enough water... this has ALWAYS been my biggest challenge. I am making improvements. I seriously would go a whole day only drinking a single can of seltzer. To be honest, I'm not sure how I can function like that. I'm doing better, but I'm definitely not doing the "half my body weight in ounces" amount.

All in all, it was a pretty successful first week. I am looking forward to the rest of this program and it's super cool doing it in real time as it is being released. The energy and excitement surrounding it as everyone tries it for the first time is pretty neat. Make sure to follow me on Instagram (@rachel.reaches) and check out my story each day for more updates on how I'm tackling 80 Day Obsession!!

 
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