Transform :20 Week 6


I COMPLETED TRANSFORM :20! And I cannot wait to give you the scoop on it all.

So, my final week of this program was indeed while I was on vacation with family in Florida. Truth be told, when I realized back in January that these weeks would be overlapping, I was a bit nervous and thought about putting my workouts on *pause* for this week and resuming them when I got back, ending the program a week after my challengers and the rest of the world. But that thought lasted for just a tiny second because I realized that this is essentially the BEAUTY of Beachbody On-Demand. That you can do the workouts from ANYWHERE.

So each morning on my vacation, I woke up early (like 6 AM-ish) and drank my preworkout and went downstairs to workout while everyone else was still sleeping. That part wasn’t hard to do, as I’m used to waking up stupid early to go to work (#teacherlife) and all of the fun in the sun I was having during the day had me out like a light by 9 PM or so anyways. It actually was kind of nice… it was my own special time to myself.


But Rachel, this program is all about THE STEP. Don’t tell me you brought that thing on a plane to Florida??


Well, no. I didn’t. I thought about asking my sister- and brother-in-law to bring it down with them (they drove, and brought some of our luggage with them) but I decided not to. You can actually do this program without a step at all. Olivia, one of the cast members, does all the moves sans step right next to Shaun T, showing you EXACTLY how it can be done. So I followed her. A few of my modifiers were different because of it (the lack of step made it harder/easier to complete, depending on the move), but whatever. The point was that I got active and got my heart rate up because I literally laid around and did nothing but read and play on my phone all week (except for one failed attempt at boogie boarding, haha), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Let’s chat about eating healthy on vacation.

As I made it pretty clear in my Insta posts & journal entries in the weeks leading up to this trip, I fully intended on eating ALL OF THE DONUTS on this trip. This vacation spot is home to my favorite donut shop ever, The Donut Experiment, where your donut is made fresh and to order. I literally had 2-3 donuts almost every single day of the week. (No lie.) And they were so good. To me, this is what “#balance” is truly. When you have something that is a fun food, definitely not a fuel food, but truly brings you joy. A Marie Kondo food experience, if you will. Stopping at Dunkin Donuts and eating a crappy donut because I had a bad day teaching does not make me feel better, really. That “fun food” does not bring me joy. So, I (read: we all) need to stop chalking our poor eating habits up to “#balance”.


While we were there, our family did some grocery shopping at Publix to get fun foods for vacation meals & snacks. I had a packet of Shakeology mixed with water each day, so I knew I was getting at least some nutrients in. But by midweek, my husband (who does not drink Shakeology, but will indulge in Shakeology mug cake, haha) was craving some veggies, so he and I went to the store to refresh our grocery supplies, like a dope steak salad, which paired nicely with the wine I was drinking all week! Hahaha.


All of this is to say that after this vacation week, my “results” (weight, inches) were basically the same as where I was when I started Transform :20. I didn’t take measurements or after photos because we LITERALLY have been go-go-go since we got off the plane on Saturday (musical rehearsals, a friend’s birthday party, grocery shopping, meal prepping, meetings, etc.). But don’t let this scare you away from trying the program - after Week 5, I was at my lowest weight since before the holidays, was eating mostly low- or no-carb (I’ve been following a lot of Dr. Mark Hyman’s & Dr. Stephen Gundry’s stuff), and was feeling high energy and great. And it truly is a sustainable program. 20-minute workouts are easy to fit into any day, and are certainly easier to complete before work than, say, the 60-minute 80 Day Obsession workouts. The nutrition piece is simple to jump back in to with proper meal prepping and busy schedules. A vacation is always tough.

But with this, my journey isn’t over! This is the third Beachbody program I’ve journaled about as it’s been released and I can’t wait to do that with all of the future ones. I especially can’t wait for the relaunch of 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme! Those are the programs that really jumpstarted my weight loss. Stay tuned for the next journal!


Transform :20 Week 5


Week 5 of Transform 20 means we are into the third and final leg of the journey! Shaun T and some of the other people in the video actually added a level to their step this week but I didn’t because helloooo I’m short and also I’m struggling with/modifying the moves to begin with.


I started off the week knowing it was going to be busy from the start. I had 7-9 rehearsals most nights with the kids and I was eyeing a snowstorm that was supposed to be coming our way Tuesday. I meal prepped lunches and dinners for both Sawyer and myself. Sometimes when I have to be at school late, I’ll leave Sawyer a recipe to make us for dinner. But Sawyer is building the set for this musical, don’t forget, so he gets home late like I do. This means that neither of us has the time to cook at night. The meal-prepped dinners have been a big help. I think I might keep up this practice, at least for a few nights a week, so snack meals of crackers and cheese aren’t our first course of action whenever we are feeling particularly tired/lazy.


I made goat cheese & beet salads for lunches this week, but I’ll admit that by the end of the week I was tired of eating the same thing every day for lunch. That hasn’t happened to me in a while. I’m usually pretty ok with eating the same thing day in and day out. By Friday, I abandoned the beet salad and moved up my chicken stir fry meal prep dinner. After school, I grabbed burritos for myself and Sawyer for dinner because, yes, we were still at school on a Friday night.


Eating generally went ok beyond that. (And by “ok” I mean I ate mostly fuel foods rather than all fun foods.) We did, however, go to Défi Cuisine Corp in Syracuse for Valentine’s Day for a freaking DOPE 5-course dinner. This is a cool, new-ish restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients in its fancy meals. But one thing I noticed is that there were hardly any starches in what they served us. No excess bread, like so many restaurants like to serve. Just healthy fats, proteins, & vegetables. And it was delicious.


Next week is the FINAL week of this program. I’ve really loved it so far, as it has been PERFECT for my busy season as musical director. But we will also be on Anna Maria Island in Florida for February break during this week. I fully intend on completing my workouts each day, so we’ll see how this workout program does on the road. (Most of Beachbody’s programs are so incredibly easy to take anywhere, as long as you have the internet and don’t need too much equipment.) Let’s see!


Transform :20 Week 4


The end of Week 4 marked the end of Chapter 2 in Transform :20… the “Climb” phase. It was a really, really good week of the program all around.

I am continuing to work hard and make every minute of the twenty count in each day’s workout and I consistently meet or exceed my transformers. I also really stuck to my nutrition this week, minus a Saturday treat meal of sushi and a few glasses of white wine. (The sugar content in sushi rice and white wine can be high, but it isn’t like McDonald’s or anything.) But sushi and wine just seemed perfect after a long day of rehearsing and set-building at school. Especially one where I dropped/broke AN ENTIRE GALLON OF PAINT all over the school parking lot. Sign. You know how sometimes you have food that you’re telling yourself is a treat, but afterwards you’re like, “Why did I eat that?” This wasn’t like that. This meal gave both me and my husband a feeling of perfect contentedness. And THAT, my friends, is a treat meal.

Testing stone patterns on the set!

Testing stone patterns on the set!


But seriously, beyond those treats, I am eating pretty well. I know that partially has to do with the fact that I have no opportunity to eat anything BESIDES the heathy foods I am packing myself because I am just at school all the time. But I’m starting to feel great and that’s helping me say “no, thanks” when less-worthy treats do arise, like when someone offers candy or something. Even when I’m super exhausted, haha. I made a choice at Friday night dinner with the fam fam to get something healthy. I picked Chipotle’s new Keto Salad Bowl! It was actually pretty good and low-carb!

My weight did come down from last weekend’s spike (read about that craziness here) and I’m now definitely loosing weight since the start of this program. With only twenty minute workouts a day! Can’t hardly believe it but here we are. I haven’t measured myself since the start of the program, but I have a feeling that I am loosing inches, too. I am just feeling thinner & lighter. My clothes fit better and aren’t snug. They’re loose, even. I am so ready to get to Florida in a week! Make sure you follow me on Insta (@rachel.reaches) to creep on my vacation!


Transform :20 Week 3


I can’t believe we’re already halfway done with this program! It’s insane. It’s been a blast doing it all with Team Reach Higher, though! My teammates Mel & Ceara have been running an AMAZING challenge group for our team this month. It’s been so inspiring to learn from them! We will have a new challenge group up in March, so stay tuned! (Make sure to get on the waiting list if you aren’t already on my team, though!)


So this week definitely started out strong. I’ll tell you what, even though these workouts are only twenty minutes long, I am SO SWEATY when they’re over. I know I’m really giving my all in each of those twenty minutes. And with shorter workouts like these, you really have to. It’s definitely tough to do so in the morning, but drinking preworkout helps get me going in the early AM. If you watch my Insta stories, you’ll see that I drink that every day before a workout.


As I’ve said before, the key to any fitness program when you’re working towards weight loss or fat loss is your NUTRITION. You truly cannot out train a poor diet. I started off strong and followed my plan. I had meal planned and prepped over the weekend. I had interesting and varied fuel foods. But as the week went on, things got more difficult. And so I stopped trying. Over the weekend, I took some students overnight to SUNY Binghamton to participate in the Zone 3 Area All-State Mixed Chorus. I did this same trip last year when I was doing 80 Day Obsession, but it was at Ithaca High School and wasn’t an overnight. Last year, I was able to take my red Saratoga cooler full of food with me each day. I also had access to a microwave. This year was tougher. The district was paying for our meals, and so we went to Wendy’s, Olive Garden, and Panera - places all chosen by the students.

But I’m kind of making excuses here and I know it… particularly at the second two locations, I could’ve made healthier choices. One or two breadsticks instead of four, a protein-heavy salad instead of mac n’ cheese. But I didn’t and here we are. I wasn’t happy with how I felt after eating all of that. I was uncomfortable in my body. But on Sunday, I went ahead and gave myself some self-care, gave myself the mental grace to eat whatever was available at the Super Bowl party that I was going to, and start again for Week 4.

Speaking of self-care, did you know that my teammates and I are running a FREE 7-day self-care challenge?? Yeah! It’s called “Be Your Own Valentine!” Make sure you sign up… we start on February 10th! <3


Transform :20 Week 2

Rachel+Reaches_Week+2 (1).png

The end of Week 2 means the end of Phase 1 (“Commit”) of Transform :20, which means that we are already a third of the way done! It already feels like it’s flying by. That’s probably because I’m just coming off a round of 80 Day Obsession, which lasts forever, haha. Or…. twice as long as this 42 day program.

I had last Monday off from school, as it was MLK Jr Day. Typically, I do much better nutritionally when I am busy all day long and am basically forced to just eat out of my cooler of meal prepped foods. When I have free time, I tend to graze and snack, and not on healthy items. Hearken back to some of my previous journal entries about drinking out of a syrup bottle


But I did okay. I honestly got the most “snack-y” when I got home from my late night musical rehearsals and busted out cheese & crackers, or a beer. I truly would chalk it all up to my TOM, though. I reigned in my snack attacks over the weekend. I shopped the grocery store perimeter and created a baller meal plan for Week 3. Feel free to download blank weeknight meal plan template below and use it on social, like on your Insta stories!


The best part about this week was trying to beat my transformers. Those are those three 1-minute workout challenges that I talked about last week, where you count the number of reps you can do in a minute. I am proud to say that I increased EVERY SINGLE ONE of my transformers this week. Maybe I just didn’t push myself hard enough last week, but I was able to crank out a ton more reps. And it was pretty fun to do :)


Even though it was a busy week rehearsal-wise, we still got to spend some time with friends. Sawyer and I went with my friend Amanda Dober (follow her on Insta! @wereallalittlefruity) to Clayscapes Pottery for a Sup n’ Turn class. I’m definitely not going to become a potter any time soon, but it was really fun.

This class gave me some inspiration for a self-care free challenge that I want to run: “Be Your Own Valentine”. I definitely want to incorporate a day where we work on a creative project as a part of our self-care. Go here to sign up for this free challenge, coming up February 10th-16th!


Transform :20 Week 1

Week 1

Man, it feels like this new year is already F L Y I N G. This first month is almost done! I need to really slow down and take it all in and appreciate everything that is going on in my life. One thing I am so grateful for is this brand new program, Transformation :20! It incorporates the portioned meal planning system that I know and love (and helped me lose over 30 pounds) with twenty-minute workouts that really pack a punch. These workouts happen six times a week, with Sunday being your rest day. It’s a step-based aerobic program, but there are also full bodyweight exercises, too. It’s definitely not your mama’s 1980s step program! But you honestly can do it without a step, if you wanted. They even show an example of someone doing the moves without a step in the workout videos. And Saturday is a stretch day, which I am so glad for, because if it’s not built in the schedule, I normally don’t do it! Whoops.


So far, these workouts have been really fun. They incorporate these things called “transformers”, which are essentially three minute-long challenges where you try to get as many reps in of a move as you can. The music changes and it kind of feels like you’re in a video game. It’s really exciting. Two things I love about these transformers:

  1. The focus is on beating your numbers each week. NOT on beating anyone else’s numbers. NOT on lowering the number on the scale. But on you becoming better, faster, stronger. I freaking love that.

  2. There’s MUSIC in these workouts. I loved 80 Day Obsession, but I always had to have my own tunes going in order to help stay motivated. As a music teacher, I value and understand the power of music to change your mood. My students might not know this, but I love electronic music like Galantis & Sylvan Esso. I don’t only listen to choral and band music, hahahaha. P.S. there is another new Beachbody program releasing this year called Morning Meltdown 100 where EACH workout will feature music mixed by a LIVE DJ! How cool is that?? Stay tuned!


One thing that I know I will need to focus on over these next six weeks (that’s the length of the program, 42 days. 36 days of workouts and 7 rest days) is nutrition. When I did the VIP early access release of LIIFT4 last summer, I learned big time that if I want shorter workouts, I really need to dial it in nutritionally. While you can’t out train a poor diet, a 60-minute workout is most likely going to do more for you than a 20-minute one. But it’s musical season and I’m directing this year. It’s definitely a bigger time commitment than just directing the pit band. I don’t have time for a 60-minute sweat sesh each day. But instead of saying “Screw it. I’m not working out until mid-March after the show”, I’m making time for these 20-minute ones :)


Let’s see if I beat my transformers numbers next week!