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The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Exercise Maximizes Results

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I am currently in week eight of my nine week nutritional counseling program – the Afterburn Nutrition Program at The12 gym in Irvine. Almost to the end! It’s not really an end so much, as it is the beginning of new and healthier diet and exercise habits.

I detailed the eating component of the nutrition program in my last post. Although the nutritional plan is the primary focus of the program, an additional (and important) piece is regular exercise.

Throughout the program, my goal is to work out four times per week. For my regular source of exercise, I attend the Afterburn Training classes at The12 in Irvine.

The 12’s Afterburn Training classes focus on body part specific, multi-directional movements – utilizing free weights, resistance bands, cardio equipment, and body weight – with high intensity intervals. The circuit style classes are formatted to burn maximum calorie levels within each 60 minute group class.


People often ask me why I travel to Irvine, when there are plenty of gyms closer to my house. Yes, I do admit that fighting morning freeway traffic is not so fun (more enjoyable when carpooling with friends), but the classes at The 12 are not like any I have found in my local area. They are motivating, effective, and most important, fun.

Classes each day of the week focus on various parts of the body. With no two classes ever the same, I never get bored. The workouts are also designed for maximum benefit while always emphasizing good form. Unlike other workout programs I have tried in the past, I never find that I am doing anything that hurts or doesn’t feel right, risking injury to my body.

In addition to the workouts at The 12, I have been trail running and hiking one to two times per week, gradually increasing my mileage week over week of the program, with a very specific goal in mind.

A couple of months ago (before I started the nutrition program), I was scheduled to  complete a hike with my son – to the top of Saddleback Mountain. It is a 16-mile hike, with a fairly vigorous eight-mile uphill trek. During that uphill climb, you gain 4,469 feet in elevation, ending at Santiago Peak – the highest point in Orange County.

At the last minute, I backed out of the hike, and my son went without me. I just did not feel confident at that time that I could make it to the top, and certainly not at a pace to keep up with my son. I was disappointed in myself for not having the courage or ability to complete the hike, and missing out on this bonding experience.

When I began the Afterburn Nutritional program, I needed to set a goal for myself – one that had nothing to do with the numbers on the scale, but everything to do with my physical and mental health and well-being. I knew immediately what this goal should be – to get to the top of that mountain, and do it in impressive time, without strain or injury.

I picked the date months ago and have been focused on that date on the calendar throughout the program.

I am happy to report, I made it to the top last Saturday. The completion of a bucket list item for sure. When I got to the top, I literally felt on top of the world…


Now, with just a week and a half to go of my Afterburn Nutrition program, I am feeling better than ever – happy, healthy and strong. Looking forward to sharing my final results soon.

I was so hesitant to begin this program eight shorts week ago, but now, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. It’s truly one of the best things I have done for myself. I’ve learned so much about nutrition and wellness. Most important, I have developed new and better habits I can maintain for life.

If you are interested in discussing how an individual nutrition program can help you achieve balance physically, mentally and emotionally (bringing out the best version of you), I encourage you to contact the folks at The Afterburn Nutrition program for a free consultation. It’s a journey worth starting. You never know where it might take you.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.

The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Meal Planning and Progress

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I’m in week four of my nine-week Afterburn Nutrition Program at The 12. I’m down six pounds, feeling strong and sleeping like a baby. Excited about my results to date. But I’m not done yet. I still have work to do.

The question that people are asking me lately is “what are you eating?” I’ll try to provide some clarification in this post.

Keep in mind, the Afterburn Nutrition program is highly customized for each client. My meal plan is based upon my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR); activity level; body type; and food likes, dislikes, allergies, special dietary requirements etc. The nice thing about working one-on-one with a nutritional coach, is that the plan is customized for me – to deliver MY best possible results.

With that said, there are basic guidelines that apply to anyone participating in the program. First and foremost, the goal of the nutrition plan is to eat the right amount at the right times to keep your blood sugar level as consistent as possible – avoiding large spikes or drops. You want your blood sugar to look like the dotted waves within the two lines on the following chart:

Blood Sugar Chart

To do this, you need to keep your body fed consistently throughout the day. For me, this means eating six, yes SIX, meals a day. Not large meals obviously, but meals that provide a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat – to regulate blood sugar and give my body the fuel it needs throughout the day. A meal with too many carbs spikes blood sugar, causing us to store fat. A meal without any carbs drives it down, burning muscle and causing energy crashes. Protein helps us build and maintain lean muscle. Some healthy fat in every meal is like a referee in your stomach saying “Slow down everyone. Let’s hang out for a little bit and chill. We don’t all need to hit the blood stream at once.”

My Afterburn Nutrition coach, Cyrus Mokhtari, helped me to understand this whole process. Together, we developed my daily meal plan – exactly what I need to eat each day. There is no special food to buy. All meals use real food I already have in my kitchen. I can vary the meals from day to day, but the basic meal plan provides me the framework to make the right choices. It’s easy and simple and takes the guess-work out of meal planning.

I log all my meals in the My Fitness Pal app. Cyrus reviews them throughout the week and provides me with feedback. I also weigh in weekly at The 12. The scale there measures my weight, body fat percentage, percentage of lean muscle, water weight, BMR, and more. After weighing in, I meet with Cyrus to discuss results and make adjustments for the following week. We also have a weekly nutritional topic to help me learn about all aspects of nutrition so I can achieve optimum health through diet and exercise, in the long-term.


This week, after losing five pounds of pure fat, I also lost a pound of muscle (nooooo….). The answer to this problem – more calories and more food! For my BMR and activity level, I wasn’t eating enough calories to avoid losing muscle, so we increased my total calories and developed a new meal plan to keep me burning fat and gaining muscle in the weeks to come.

I can honestly say, that although I still have cravings from time to time (hello wine, cheese and bread – I see you there. We will reunite at a later date), I have never felt hungry or deprived on this program. To the contrary, I feel like I’m always eating – like ALWAYS EATING.

For those interested, here is a quick rundown of my daily meals:  My pre-workout meal is generally coffee (yay for coffee) with a little half and half and Stevia, and steel cut oats with some protein powder mixed in. (Choose protein flavor of your choice – no butter or sugar necessary.) My post workout meal is a banana, blended with protein powder and ice.

Lunch is usually a “rice bowl” – using cauliflower rice instead of white rice – with some protein (chicken, ground turkey) and veggies. (Side note, the Riced Cauliflower at Trader Joe’s is a God send. If you can find it in the freezer section of your local Trader Joe’s, pick some up immediately. It will change your life, seriously.) Yesterday’s “rice” bowl:


Then, I have a “snack meal” of some almonds and cottage cheese, or hard boiled eggs and veggies, or apple with almond butter, or if I’m on the road, a Yeah One or other type of protein bar.

Next is dinner, with grilled fish or chicken, veggies, with a roasted sweet potato or cauliflower rice. Finally, a late evening snack, that is high in protein and low in carbs, like some chicken with avocado slices or cottage cheese and tomatoes.

If you want more detail about what I’m eating each day, you can follow me on My Fitness Pal – @ocgreenmama.

Five weeks to go. I’ll update here in a couple weeks with more results and details about the exercise component of the program. Until then, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

For more information about Afterburn Nutrition, contact Cyrus Mokhtari at The 12.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.

An Appeal for Gym Etiquette

My Fellow Gym-Goer –

As a gym regular – I hit the gym at The12 multiple times per week – I have a few requests. And while I do admit to being mildly OCD, I feel like most people (OCD or not) would agree, these simple considerations would make everyone’s gym experience better.

1. PLEASE CLEAN OFF YOUR EQUIPMENT WHEN YOU ARE DONE SWEATING ON IT – I labeled this number one because it’s the single most important. Please, please, if you drip sweat all over the spin bike or treadmill or mat, wipe it off. Not with your hand. With a towel. At The12, they provide everyone with a towel. Forgetting it at home or in your car is no excuse.

But it is key to remember that the towel is not just for drying yourself off, it’s also for wiping your sweat off the gym equipment. Otherwise, you are leaving it to me to wipe up with my towel. Your sweat on my towel?! Gross.

Plus as a mom, I have enough people (who also do not always smell very good) to clean up after at home. The gym is my time away from that. Please help it stay that way.

2. PLEASE DON’T MOVE MY WEIGHTS – When we are doing a circuit, I choose my weights carefully, use them for the intended exercise, and place them in a particular spot when I’m done (generally with one weight over the other and near my water bottle – like I told you, I’m a little OCD like that). Often times, when I come back to that exercise in the circuit, my weights are gone, nowhere to be found. I don’t mind sharing if I’m not using them, but please, please, put them back where you found them so I don’t waste my exercise time running around looking for the right weights again – which I already had to begin with.

3. PLEASE MOVE THROUGH THE CIRCUIT IN THE RIGHT ORDER – At the beginning of the circuit, the instructor usually tells you where to start and how many people should be at each circuit and each exercise. The reason they do this is so that we don’t get all clogged up in one spot, without enough equipment for everyone. It’s our job as conscientious gym-goers to continue that pattern.

For example, most classes at The12 start with about four stations. Each station then has two to five exercises to run through. If you start on station two, when you are done you move to station three – not to one or four or whichever one sounds good to you at the time. Don’t be that person.

Also, each circuit has two to five exercises within it. If you start your first station on exercise three for example, you go to your next station and start with exercise three. It’s simple. It’s math. And when you are OCD, you get a little mental when it gets out of whack. Plus the bonus is – there is enough equipment for everyone. Yay!

4. PLEASE CHECK YOUR OUTFIT IN THE MIRROR (AND MAYBE BENT OVER) – Hmmm…how do I say this? Um, remember the Lululemon “see through” workout pants controversy from last year. Let’s just say it’s not limited to Lulu. A good solid pair of workout pants and a well-padded bra go a long way toward avoiding gym distractions. This doesn’t really affect me so much, it’s just that I struggle with not putting on my mom-hat, placing my arm around you and gently whispering that I can see through your pants. Now if you don’t mind it, that’s totally fine. It’s up to you. I just worry that you don’t realize it. And I don’t need one more thing to worry about. Believe me.

5. PLEASE CLEAN UP AT THE END – At the end of the class, wipe off your mat, put your weights away (if they could be with the numbers facing up that would be awesome, but I’m not going to get too picky), and generally clean up after yourself. Wash your hands. While you already have a towel in your hand, use it to dry off your hands – save the planet one paper towel at a time. Then, drop your towel in the hamper before you leave. If by mistake, you bring the towel home, wash and return it. I’m sure the folks at the gym will appreciate it. They probably already buy enough new towels every week.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, let me say that these are just small requests, from me to you – fellow gym-goer – with love. If you forget, I’m not going to get all crazy on you. But, if you could find it in your heart to keep these things in mind the next time you hit the gym, I would love and appreciate you and we can hustle on forever and ever.


Thank you! Hugs (but not super sweaty ones).

Come to think of it, let’s just make it a high-five.

xoxo – Allison

My Twelve Week Challenge: The Results, Part One

I finished my twelve-week challenge at The12 on December 29, 2013. The best part about the timing is that for the first time in my life, I began the new year with my diet and exercise goals already met. I can’t believe it – I literally have no New Year’s resolution about changing my body, my diet, or my exercise program. My only goal is to just maintain what I’ve already accomplished, and not screw up my progress to date. I can’t tell you what a great feeling that is.

Looking back, it was a long twelve weeks but also seems like it flew by – from my fears before starting, to my ten-day cleanse, to learning about macro-nutrients and food logging. Then there were the inevitable slip-ups, but finally, my ultimate commitment to the program and “remembering to be awesome”.

Along the way, I learned so much, and realized all the things I was doing wrong before I joined The12.

One thing I can honestly say about this journey is that it was easier than I initially thought it would be. I did not have to work out every day – actually, I only exercised about four times a week. I did not have to starve myself, and at no point did I ever feel hungry. As a matter of fact, some days my problem was not being able to get in enough food. I had support, coaching and encouragement every step of the way.

And, then there are the results. Those speak for themselves.

First, to the numbers, pulled straight from the InBody scale at The12 …

OCGreenMamaChallengeNumbersCollageIn just twelve weeks, I lost 12.4 pounds – from 130.1 pounds to 117.7. Most remarkably, this weight loss was entirely from fat. No loss of water, no loss of muscle. 100% fat loss! My total percentage of body fat dropped from 23.5% to 16.5%. You can see in the body composition percentage numbers above, my body fat mass (the purple line) went way down while my dry lean mass (the blue line) stayed the same.

Then, on to the photos. This part makes me all squirmy and uncomfortable. (I had my daughter take these – yes, she may be scarred for life – every Monday morning literally right before heading out the door to the gym – no hair or makeup – just 43-year-old me. Okay, no more excuses, here goes …)



And for the final picture, I think it’s good to look at week one versus twelve. Here is a different angle to mix it up a bit:


At the beginning of the challenge, my coach asked me to write a letter expressing my reasons for wanting to participate in this challenge – a letter that I could look back on in the weeks ahead to provide the extra motivation I would need to get through the challenge.  

Here is me reading the letter (it will make a bit more sense if you read “this post” before viewing – you know if you have time and all) and a few thoughts after – unscripted, unedited. I had no idea there would be tears and as much over-sharing – which also makes me a little uncomfortable – but here goes…

So there it is – raw and unfiltered. My thoughts on completing this twelve-week challenge. It has been quite a journey, both physically and emotionally. I realize that losing twelve pounds is not some great, earth-shattering accomplishment. I know that others have jumped over much greater health and fitness hurdles than I have. But for me, in my life, it was big. I truly believe that the outside transformation is just a physical manifestation of the transformation inside. There is such a mind-body connection. When you realize that when you put your mind to it, you can transform your body, you also realize that you can transform your thoughts. When you transform your thoughts, you can change your life.

I’ve arrived to a place of peace and happiness, which feels better than any weight loss ever could. Well, that and throwing medicine balls. Those suckers are surprisingly therapeutic.

Finally, a really big thank you to everyone who supported me throughout this challenge. Not only the people at The12 – who were awesome – but also to family and friends who sent me kind words, left me likes and comments on my posts and pictures, and offered words of encouragement. Each and every one really meant a lot to me.

This is merely a step of my journey – not the final one. I am setting out new goals and challenges for 2014. For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the new year. #12monthchallenge coming up next. I’m ready.

My Twelve Week Challenge: When You Remember to be Awesome

First of all, let me clarify that I am not claiming that I am awesome. However, I do have the capacity for awesomeness, and this is something I have a tendency to forget.

At some point during this challenge, I think shortly after the time I wrote this post about my struggles, I decided that there was a little bit of awesome left in me, and I should probably start using it.

I just woke up one day and thought, “What if I kicked ass today?”

And then I did. And then the next day, and the next, and the one after that. Before I knew it, my schedule looked like this –

Guess what happens when you decide to kick ass? You get results.

Results mean you hit your twelve week goal by the end of week seven. Bam! And that feels really, really good.  I’ve dropped ten pounds and reduced my body fat percentage by 4.7% (from 23.5% to 18.8%).

That is a 20% change in body fat in under seven weeks! It’s remarkable to me. For years, I have tried and failed at something that I was able to do in just seven short weeks of The12Movement’s Twelve-Week Challenge.

At the beginning of my challenge, Josh Boyd, CEO and Founder of The12, said to me “If you follow this plan, I believe you will hit your goal by the end of week seven.” And my internal critic was rolling her eyes and saying “Sure Josh. No problem – cough, cough”.

But, guess what? Josh was right. I followed the eating plan, put my all into my workouts, remembered to kick some ass along the way – and I did it.

So what happens now? Do I just hand in the towel and be done?

Well, the first thing I did is gave myself a “free night”. There may have been bread AND cheese AND wine. Shhh, don’t tell my coach Derek Graham.

Now, the next thing I do is get back to work. Yesterday, I met with my coach and we created some new goals – which include building more lean muscle mass and seeing how much I can possibly sculpt this stomach I do not love – the one that two doctors told me nothing short of surgery will fix. Well, now I’m just out to prove them wrong.

And maybe, just maybe I’ll tackle that marathon I’ve been talking about for years. You never know what some great coaching, a lot of hard work, and a little bit of awesomeness can accomplish.

My Twelve Week Challenge: Seven Things I Had All Wrong

Before beginning my Twelve-week Fitness Challenge at The12 gym in Irvine, I considered myself to be a pretty healthy person. I exercised regularly. I ate whole foods, primarily organic. I even tracked my calories (though somewhat irregularly) using MyFitnessPal. But the results just were not there. I would lose and gain the same 8-10 pounds over and over again. I was in a rut where my body was not responding and I knew there had to be a better way.

Now that I am in week six of the challenge, I can look back and see many of the reasons for my poor results. What I realize now is that diet is about 90% of the equation. You can’t out-run, out-lift, out-exercise a diet that isn’t working for your body.

Here is a list of the things I was doing wrong before I started this challenge: (Well, in my diet anyway. We don’t have time or space for the all-inclusive list of my wrong-doings.)

1. Not Eating Often Enough

Before the challenge, I was eating a meal only about twice a day – lunch and dinner. I would usually just have coffee and maybe a banana for breakfast and then go to work out. I wouldn’t eat much throughout the day, and finish with a fairly large dinner. My body was all out of whack, not having the proper fuel to stay energized throughout the day. Now, I eat six smaller meals a day (pre-workout, post-workout, followed by four to five meals throughout the day). I feel like I’m constantly eating, but I’m losing weight.

This single change is so key to maintaining your body in the optimum fat-burning zone. It doesn’t have to be six meals. Maybe four works for you. That’s fine, as long as they are regular and provide you with some good nutrition to sustain you throughout the day. Once your body becomes accustomed to being fed on a regular basis, your metabolism can stabilize and your fat-burning engine can get to work burning that stubborn belly fat that creeps on as you get older.

2. Not Eating Breakfast and/or Before my Workout

We’ve all heard “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” a million times yet somehow, most adults ignore this advice. It’s an old and overused saying – BECAUSE IT’S TRUE. Ideally, you should eat within an hour of waking so your body doesn’t go into “starvation mode”.

Plus, you need food to get through a morning workout. Some good carbs and lean protein in your stomach help you go longer, be stronger and perform better. Your body needs fuel to perform.

3. Not Determining my Specific Calorie Needs per Day and Tracking My Food Consistently

I have been using MyFitnessPal for over a year with mixed results. I was pretty good about logging during the week, but went dark on the weekends. Just those couple of days of not logging made a huge difference in my calories intake, and therefore my results.

“But it’s so time consuming”, I hear people say. Honestly, after you become accustomed to the program and it saves your favorite and most-eaten foods, it’s really doesn’t take that much time. It’s probably about ten minutes per day. Plus, the app is on your phone so you can log it anywhere, anytime. So put down the Candy Crush for a little bit and track your food. It works. I promise.

The first step to tracking your food intake is to determine the amount of calories you need on a daily basis. Here is some great advice from Josh Boyd, CEO and Founder of The12, on how to determine that for your own body –

“Determining how many calories you need to lose weight is one of the most confusing parts of the weight loss process. The simple way to determine this number is to eat 10-12 times your body weight in pounds. For example, a 200lb person would eat 2000-2400 calories.It is always best to start high and come down only if necessary. Your ultimate goal is to eat as many calories as possible that still enable you to lose weight. If eating 9-10 times your body weight results in no weight loss over a period of 3 weeks, you likely have some metabolic damage or down regulation.

To put it simply, a damaged metabolism is typically caused by prolonged excessive calorie restriction combined with excessive physical activity.Your goal should be to eat as much food as possible that still allows you to drop body fat. When you don’t eat enough, important metabolism regulating hormones begin to down-regulate. Hormones such as thyroid and leptin start to lower to create a homeostasis in the body. Not only that, but muscle tissue begins to break down and be used for energy. This reduction in lean body mass also slows your metabolism since muscle is very metabolically active – “eating” fat and burning calories at all hours of the day. ”

This is exactly why determining your caloric intake is so important. You need to eat enough calories to lose weight, but not so many that you don’t get to your goal.

4. Not Eating Enough Protein & Eating Too Many Carbs

As someone who eats primarily vegetarian/vegan, I was loading up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but sort of ignoring my protein intake. I was more concerned about the impact of my food on the environment than I was on the impact of my food on my body. Now, I realize that protein is key to my health, fitness, and weight loss.

I am becoming accustomed to eating organic chicken, wild caught fish and organic cage-free egg whites – like EVERY DAY. Egg whites, who knew? I really never ate them before, and now they are my new go-to source for protein. I hard boil my eggs, and just grab one, pop out the yolk in the middle, and eat them whenever I need a quick snack. I also cook them for breakfast, and even add them to my smoothies (the pasteurized egg whites in a carton). They are my new BFF.

To give you an example of the kind of tweaks that I am talking about, here are some photos of my old salad I would eat for lunch –


Sure, it has a lot of good stuff in it, but it’s pretty much all carbohydrates and fat. Very little protein to be found.

I have replaced those old salads with something more like this:


Still lots of organic greens, but adding a substantial amount of protein – wild caught cod fish in the first photo and egg whites and nitrate-free, low-sodium turkey in the second.

The flip side of not eating enough protein is that I was eating far too many carbohydrates.

Now that I am doing the challenge, I get almost all of my carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit. I refer to this drawer of my pantry as the “food I no longer eat”.


Come to think of it, I pretty much don’t eat out of my pantry at all right now. Almost all of my food is fresh and contained in the meat, vegetable and fruit drawers of my refrigerator.


Right now, my goal is to get 50% of my calories from protein, 30% from carbohydrates and 20% from fat. That is a little extreme, and really only maintainable for me in the short-term. Once I complete the challenge, I plan to go for more for a 40/30/30 split.

So how do you determine how much protein, carbs and fat are right for you? Here is some more advice from Josh specific to determining the right protein, carbohydrate and fat ratios for your needs:

“Try to get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day and eat some protein at each meal. The more active you are, the more protein you’ll need. The lower your body fat percentage becomes, the more protein you will need to intake. Fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats and carbohydrates. The numbers of each will be different for each person, but generally speaking, the more active you are the more carbs you will eat relative to fat. Aim to eat at least 15 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of carbohydrates you consume.”

5. Not Planning my Meals in Advance

The key to maintaining the right macro ratios (protein/carbs/fat) is to plan your meals in advance. Many of the folks at The12 plan them for the whole week, but I am more a day or two at a time kind of person. Also, because I go to at least one grocery store pretty much every day, advance planning is not as important to me. So, find what works for you, but plan it out in advance and log it.

On many days, I log all my food into MyFitnessPal in the morning, then just follow the schedule to hit my macronutrients. When I log early, I can see if my macros are off and adjust accordingly – BEFORE I EAT THE FOOD. By then, it’s too late. You can really “undo” what you already ate, but you can easily tweak a meal in advance.

6. Overestimating the Calorie Burn of my Workouts

Before I started this challenge, I would rely on the calorie information in MyFitnessPal or Runkeeper, or the reading of a friend in class. Now I know that these these measurements were way off. The calorie burn of each person varies greatly depending upon their effort level, weight, percentage of lean muscle mass, etc. My results will not be yours and vice versa. I have also learned that different activities can vary widely in their calorie burn. Workouts should be matched to your goals – weight loss, muscle sculpting, etc.

Now armed with my Polar watch (calibrated to my own individual resting heart rate), I know exactly how many calories I burn during each workout.


More on workouts and sample calorie burn for many different exercises coming up in a future post.

7. Too much Wine, followed by too Much Whine

I love wine – like love. I love to buy it, share it, store it, taste it. I love everything about it. I have this sign in my house and I believe it to be true.


But, drinking wine on more nights of the week than not was not doing my body any favors. I was drinking too much wine, and then whining about not being able to lose weight. See the problem?

So, do I not drink wine at all anymore? Hey, let’s not go crazy. Yes, I do still enjoy wine but now it’s more the exception than the rule. My favorite part of the day has always been the post-kid-shuttling, dinner-prep time in the kitchen. I pour a glass of wine to relax while cooking and helping with homework. So, I do still do that, but not every night. And when I do, I actually MEASURE MY WINE before I pour it in my glass. After that, sparkling water in a wine glass works just fine. I have noticed too that one nice glass of red gives me that warm lovely feeling – that promotes joy and relaxation. It doesn’t require three.

Less wine, less whining, more results.

Speaking of results, here’s a quick update. I’m still making progress on the challenge but it’s a little bit slower now, which is to be expected at this point of the challenge. I am still losing body fat but my muscle mass is stabilizing rather than increasing, which is why I just upped my protein consumption.

But more importantly, I feel amazing – lighter, healthier, happier than I have in a long time.

Also, you know those “when I get skinny jeans” you hold on to in your closet. Yep, those are coming out of the bottom of the pile. They may not even be in style anymore but I’m wearing them. Skinny jeans be damned, I’m busting out my actual “skinny jeans”. It’s time to let them see the light of day.

My Twelve Week Challenge: When Life Gets in the Way

I blame it on Katy Perry. She started the downfall …

Last week, right after writing this post where I was bragging about how well I am doing with my challenge, it fell apart in one night.

We took our kids to Katy Perry’s “We Can Survive” benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a mad dash to pick up three kids from two different schools, get everyone in the car, and try to get to the Bowl by 5:00pm. I was so concerned about packing snacks for the drive, getting a change of clothes and sweatshirts for the kids, and making sure we had what they needed to get homework done (in between pre-show action and the concert), I neglected to pack any food for myself.

After a typical rush-hour in LA, we squeaked in just it in time for the pre-concert sound check and Q & A with Katy. But we made it. The kids (well atleast the girls) were thrilled.

In between the pre-show and the concert, our tickets included a hosted party with drinks and appetizers. I figured I could probably find something to eat there. Boy, was I wrong.

We got to the patio area of the Bowl and I checked out the fare – sliders, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and plates of cookies. Seriously. Those were our only options – and I was starving. So yes, I probably could have left my family, headed out into the crowds in search of some type of food that was 12-week-challenge approved – and probably way overpriced.

Or, alternatively, I could hang out with the family, not fight the crowds, and enjoy free food. As you could guess, I chose the latter. And man, was that the best tasting grilled cheese I ever had. I hadn’t had bread or cheese in so long, I may have slipped and had two – or three. Plus a glass of wine, or maybe two.

The next day, I woke up with terrible guilt, vowed to “never let that happen again”, got to the The12 for a great class and worked my butt off.

But, of course, it did happen again. A couple days later, I ended up with a house full of hungry teenagers on a Friday night. My plans for roasting a chicken that wouldn’t even feed half of them was not going to work. So, I did what you do when you have a house full of people you aren’t prepared for – ordered pizza. Yes, I probably could have made a chicken breast for myself while everyone else stood around the kitchen eating pizza…but as you can probably guess, I didn’t.

And then, about a week later, I went to a neighborhood Bunco party. I put a meal in the oven for the family, headed out the door as my husband headed in, and went there thinking I could find something to eat that was 12-challenge-approved. The food was delicious, but pasta, bread and salad – not a morsel of protein to be found. And of course there was wine, because, well that is kind of the point of Bunco.

This led to more next-morning guilt, kicking myself for “not sticking to the plan”. Plus I had a headache and a terrible night of sleep, because when you don’t really drink much anymore and people refill your wine glass for you, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Which is all to say that I blame this on Katy Perry, teenagers and Bunco.

Not really. The blame falls squarely on me. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Those are the words that are going through my mind right now. I know that I need to be better prepared. As I said at the start of this challenge, worrying about my own needs can be kind of low on my priority list.

So, I need to find a better balance. I am working on it but I screw it up sometimes. See, for me, this 12-week-challenge isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I want to learn to make better choices that I can keep up – like forever. And forever is a long time. Mistakes are inevitable.

Another thing that is always on my mind is the example I am setting for my kids. I think finding a healthy balance that is not obsessive is important. I want my kids to remember how much fun we had as a family at the concert, not that mom made a big deal out of food and left to go find something she could eat. I want to remember having fun with my neighbors at Bunco, not the fact that I couldn’t eat my neighbors cooking because it didn’t have the perfect macronutrient ratios.

And when I look back on this past week, I want to remember this…


…not the fact that I didn’t achieve perfect macro’s each day.

Which is not to say that I am not going to try to do better. I really am. I think the key is not letting a few mistakes derail me and make me lose focus on my goal. So, while the bad news is I didn’t lose any weight this past week, the good news is that I didn’t gain any either. I guess I did enough right to make up for my wrongs. And, my fat to muscle ratio is still improving. Fat going down and muscle going up. I’m still making progress – it’s three steps forward and two steps back, but it’s still going in the right direction.

Most importantly, I still feel (in spite of these slip-ups) much healthier overall. I am sleeping better, have no aches or pains, have more energy, and most of my clothes in my closet actually fit – no spanx required!

So instead of beating myself up, I am going to learn from my mistakes, and try to find a better balance between living my life and sticking to the plan. Which should be especially challenging as we head into the holiday season.

I will not be perfect, but I will strive to do better – in the challenge and in life. Which in the end, is all I can really ask.

My Twelve Week Challenge: Macronutrients and Reintroducing Foods

Now that I have finished the ten-day cleanse portion of my challenge, I have entered the “Metabolic Phase”, which is challenge days 11-28.

At the end of the cleanse, I met with my coach Derek Graham (CSO & co-founder of The12), who designed a nutrition plan for me that includes the macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar and sodium) ratios/totals that I should strive for on a daily basis, specific to my individual body type and challenge goals.

With the macronutrients established, I also was able to begin reintroducing foods that were not allowed during the cleanse period.

The first thing I reintroduced was coffee (of course), but not exactly the way I was drinking it before. First, I am now brewing a blend of 50% regular and 50% decaf. The “caffeine withdrawal” I experienced on the cleanse scared me a little bit, and I never want to be dependent upon a substance like that again. I am also limiting my coffee to one cup in the morning. If I want another after that, I brew some tea.

Second, I have changed what I add to my coffee. My favorite has always been the Vanilla Half and Half from Trader Joes, but I didn’t realize how many calories and sugar this adds to my diet every morning. I am now mixing my own creamer made with unsweetened Coconut milk, a drop of pure vanilla extract and a few drops of Stevia. I mix it in a container and pour it in my coffee. This one little switch done daily is a big improvement to my diet and has a big impact in the long run.


I track my food every day using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone and submit the daily totals at the end of the day to my coach Derek. What I send him daily looks like this –


Once Derek receives my information, he provides me with daily feedback on nutritional shifts that I can make specific to my body and goals at the end of the challenge. If he needs additional information or sees a bad pattern developing, I send him my entire log for the day that lists every item that I ate throughout the day.

If you are looking for accountability, that is it right there. People keep complimenting me on my willpower, but really it’s more of a case of “I don’t want my coach to see that I ate that.”

If left to my own devices, I do not think I would have the willpower and consistency to keep this going. There is something about this program – the clear directions, accountability, and results that make sticking to the program so much easier than trying to do it on my own.

Speaking of results, I want to share how I am doing so far. I stepped on the scale at The12 yesterday – which is no regular scale by the way. It is a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that measures not only your weight, but also the amount of your weight that is comprised of muscle, fat, water, etc. In addition, it measures the ratio of lean muscle to fat in every part of your body (leg, arm, and trunk).

After standing on the scale for a few minutes, you get a final reading that looks like this –

OCGreenMama_Macro4You can also look at reports of your progress (sorry the pics are blurry, there is no “screen shot” I can take to capture this info):

OCGreenMama_Macro5There is a lot of detail in the reports that I’m not super concerned about right now, but I’m guessing they will come into play later in the challenge, but the bottom line is…

I’m down 6.2 pounds and lowered by body fat percentage to 20.6%, which is almost 3% less than when I started! This is working! It’s really working!

I am so excited about all the changes taking place in my body. I can not wait to see what will happen in the weeks to come. Bring it on!

My Twelve Week Challenge: Ten-Day Cleanse

The Twelve-Week Challenge at The12 begins with a ten-day cleanse, or metabolic detox, designed to rid your body of toxins that have accumulated over time and help it perform at it’s optimum level. This gives you the right foundation to begin the rest of the challenge.

The detox is a key component of the challenge because in large part, a person’s overall physical health comes from their ability to efficiently detoxify and eliminate waste. At times, when the toxins – from the food we eat, water and other beverages we drink, air we breathe and the materials surrounding us daily (like paints, carpeting, dyes, cleaning products and even beauty products) are too much, they may overwhelm our system and our bodies may need some help getting rid of them.

Though not scientifically proven, a detox is designed to reduce the burdens on our organs (specifically the liver, kidney, intestines, and lymphatic system); promote healthy digestion; clean the digestive tract; increase immunity and circulation; promote healthy cell growth while reducing free radical damage; and curb addictions to things like caffeine, alcohol, salt and processed foods.

Oh yeah, and although this is not the goal of the program, it also helps you lose weight – a nice little bonus.

The 10-Day program that I did is called “Clear Change” from Metagenics. You can read more about this program on the Metagenics website.

After completing the program, I can tell you first, that I’m really glad it’s over. And second, that I feel phenomenal. Seriously, better than I have in a long, long time.

The eating program on the cleanse was not as hard to stick to as I expected. The program guidelines are very specific and detailed. I am good at following directions and sticking to a plan, so that part was not a problem at all. The thing that took me by surprise though, was how my body responded to the program. The first couple of days, I was exhausted. I was okay day three, but then days four through six were pretty rough. The body aches and pains I had due to the cleanse, combined with catching a cold made the challenge quite challenging for me.

By day five, I developed a weird sciatic-like back pain that I could not figure out. I finally found my answer online – caffeine withdrawal – which I found pretty scary. I don’t really consume that much caffeine, at least I think – a cup or two of coffee in the morning and usually and iced tea in the afternoon. However, this was enough caffeine ingested daily for long enough to make for some serious pain. At one point I said to my husband, “if this is what caffeine withdrawal feels like, remind me to never try heroine.” (Don’t worry Mom, I would never actually try heroine.)

By day seven though, the fog started to lift, the aches and pains subsided, and I started to feel more like myself. Finally, on day eight, the results of the cleanse really kicked in. Not only did I feel like myself, I felt like a better, lighter, faster, cleaner version of myself. It feels amazing.

“But how much weight did you lose?” This is the question everyone wants to know, so here is the bottom line – the results…

I lost 4.3 pounds during the cleanse period – yes the .3 is important. So, I went from 130.1 pounds to 125.7 and my body fat (percentage of my weight that is comprised of body fat) went from 23.5% to 22.9%.

More importantly though, I feel great. My skin looks better than ever, and I’m sleeping through the night consistently for the first time in a long, long time. My quality of life is so improved already. I can’t wait to build on that in the upcoming weeks.

For those who want more detail, below I breakdown the Metagenics 10-day detox plan day by day along with my personal experience each day. It’s A LOT of information, I know, but I wrote this to be a kind of what-to-expect guide for anyone considering the plan, so I wanted to include as much detail as possible. Of course, every person’s body will respond differently during a cleanse, but having a personal first-hand account as a guideline I thought might be helpful.

Note: Each day of the program, you should drink at least 64 ounces of plain, purified, distilled or mineral water to flush the system. This is very important as it flushes out the toxins that you are ridding from your body. Also, there are no caloric restrictions on this program. You can eat as much as you want of the allowed foods each day.

It is also recommended to only eat organic produce, wild-caught fish and free-range chicken. And although it isn’t mentioned in the program guide, I also was more careful than ever when choosing the products I put on my skin during this time. As I was flushing out toxins, I didn’t want to put more in my body through my skin (the largest organ in our body), so I used organic lotions, makeup, all-natural deodorant, etc. 

Metabolic Cleanse: Day One

Eliminate all refined sugars – anything with added sucrose, high fructose corn syrup or alcohol, any sodas, caffeine, dairy products, eggs, soy, beef, pork, foods with wheat or wheat flour or corn or cornflower, and any processed foods.

“What’s left?”, you may be thinking. Well, it’s actually still quite a bit – all fruits (no oranges); all vegetables (no corn); nuts (no peanut); legumes (no soy); fish (must be fresh, wild-caught); free-range chicken; rice (brown and white); gluten-free oats; rice pasta; potato flour, quinoa; milk alternatives (rice, hazelnut, hemp, almond, coconut); plus a variety of oils, vinegars, herbs and natural sweeteners for flavor.

This is the only day when you do not add any nutritional support – the Metagenics powder and/or supplements.

My Experience Day One:

Not having coffee was not the traumatic event I imagined it to be. Herbal tea made a nice substitute, and the fact that I could have some hot oatmeal with coconut milk and strawberries made me happy. I had plenty of energy still and enjoyed a good workout at The12. The eating went pretty well.

My big win was at dinner. I was making homemade chicken nuggets for the kids and was envying their crusted baked chicken. So, I made a version for myself, rubbing a little olive oil on free-range, organic chicken breasts and then sprinkling almond meal on them and tossing them in the oven. I was pretty impressed with myself for making breaded chicken that was challenge-friendly. Score! I was completely exhausted by 10pm. Fell into bed and slept like a baby until 6:00am.


Metabolic Cleanse: Day Two

Continue foods from day one – no change.

Begin adding Metagenix Ultra Clear Renew nutritional beverage twice a day – 1 scoop mixed in water or juice.

My Experience Day Two:

Made coffee for my husband. Gave it a big whiff before I handed it to him and it was almost like drinking it (only totally not). Brewed my decaf herbal tea and had some rice cereal with bananas and coconut milk. Still had energy and enjoyed a challenging workout at The12. The rules of the cleanse on day two are the same as day one, but now I added the Metagenics Nutritional Beverage and Supplement Capsules.

Around 3pm, fatigue started to set in, big time. I felt an overwhelming exhaustion and cloudiness, but with hours of shuttling kids around ahead, I had to power through. I came home to find my husband and son sitting on the couch watching baseball and eating tortilla chips. I was shocked that I could smell the chips the second I walked in the door, but I resisted. I was completely exhausted again and fell asleep at 9:15, which I don’t think I’ve done in about ten years. Again, slept like a baby.

Metabolic Cleanse: Day Three

Continue foods from day one and two, but now eliminate nuts/seeds, rice/grains, and milk substitutes.

Continue nutritional beverage mix – 1 scoop twice a day.

Begin taking AdvaClear supplement capsules – 2 capsules twice a day.

My Experience Day Three

The challenge became more difficult today. Life, as it tends to do, got in the way. The day started with what was supposed to be a simple 45 minute dentist appointment that went wrong. The work was more complicated than the dentist had thought, and I ended up there for two hours (on a pretty empty stomach) and needed Novocaine. When the dentist told me he was giving me the Novocaine injection, I briefly thought about whether that was going to effect my challenge and considered saying no. But I have to tell you, Novocaine, and my paralyzing fear of dental work ultimately won.

After my appointment, I went to a birthday lunch for a friend. With a partially numb mouth and all the restrictions of my diet, I wasn’t much of a lunch date. Luckily, my friend chose Tender Greens, so I was able to find a vegetarian garlic soup and side of soft grilled veggies that worked with both my diet, and my partially paralyzed mouth. By the end of the day some of the “joint soreness” that they had warned about during the cleanse kicked in. My lower back and hips were killing me. I tried to sleep, but the pain was pretty bad so I tossed and turned all night. I did not sleep like a baby.

Metabolic Cleanse: Day Four

Food is the same as day three.

Continue powdered beverage mix  – increase to 2 scoops twice a day.

Continue AdvaClear capsules – two capsules two times per day.

My Experience Day Four

Woke up after a restless sleep to find the lower back/hip pain had not subsided…at all. That, combined with the fact that I had now contracted the cold bug that had been traveling around my house for the past few weeks, made for a pretty miserable day. Plus, there was the added complication that because I was in detox-mode, I couldn’t take any pain relievers – ahhhh! Initially, I thought that I had the flu, but in retrospect, I believe it was just the cold virus combined with the cleanse-related joint pain that made it feel that way.

Throughout the day, I kept focusing on the goal at the end, and repeating in my head one of my favorite quotes “the only way out is through.” Also, I thought about how much of a first-world problem this all was and just told myself to power through.

I made myself a smoothie for breakfast – kale, banana, raspberries, and two scoops of the Metagenix Ultra-Clear renew powder. It was tasty and filling. Lunch was a large salad and dinner was red potatoes, broccoli and lentil beans. The cold kicked in more and more as the day wore on. Tried to go to bed early but couldn’t sleep because of all the aches and pains. It was hard to tell at this point which aches were flu related, and which were cleanse related. As I laid in bed and try to manage the pain, I pictured these areas of my body releasing toxins so that they can become healthier and stronger. That helped my psyche, but didn’t help me sleep unfortunately.

Metabolic Cleanse: Days Five – Seven

These three days were the most difficult of the cleanse in terms of diet. Now, you can only eat from the following list: cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collards and bok choy), greens (including spinach, red and green lettuce, romaine, endive, watercress, radicchio, arugula, and escarole – though I don’t even know what that is), whole or freshly juiced apples and pears with no added sugars (organics preferred), fish, legumes, water and herbal tea. Food can be seasoned with oils, vinegar and herbs only.

Increase nutritional beverage to two scoops four times per day.

Increase AdvaClear capsules to two capsules three times per day.

My Experience, Days Five Through Seven

I had what I thought was the flu, but considering the side effects of a cleanse include fatigue, malaise, aches and pains, emotional duress, acne, headaches, allergies, and symptoms of colds and flu, I believe it was part of my healing process. Detoxification specialists call these reactions healing crises, caused by temporarily increased levels of toxins in the body due to elimination and cleansing. Which is all to say, it’s a good pain, but pain nonetheless.

I had very little energy all three of these days and strenuous exercise was pretty much out of the question. I reminded myself often of the end goal and try to ignore the temporary pain. (If you begin the cleanse on a Monday, these days are Friday to Sunday. My recommendation is to try to schedule your cleanse to coincide with a weekend where you don’t have a lot of activities or obligations so you can rest, recover, and eat only at home due to the eating restrictions).

Finding food options was not as easy. I came up with this salad (organic spinach, organic honey crisp apples, organic garbanzo beans and organic hummus drizzled with olive oil and vinegar), and it made me happy.


Metabolic Cleanse: Day Eight

Add back in all other fruits, vegetables and white rice to diet.

Decrease powdered beverage mix – 2 scoops three times a day.

My Experience Day Eight

When I woke up on day eight – although it was only 5:30am – it felt like the sun was shining and birds were singing. I felt phenomenal for the first time during the cleanse. Finally, my cold has dissipated, the pain was gone, my head was clear and I was ready to embrace the day.

After getting kids off to school, I headed to The12 for my first workout in five days and powered through pretty well. It was also nice to add back in the rest of the fruits and vegetables, as well as rice. Oh beautiful rice, I had never been so excited to eat it in my life.

Metabolic Detox: Day Nine

Add millet, tapioca, amaranth, buckwheat, legumes, nuts and seeds back into diet.

Decrease powdered beverage mix – 2 scoops twice a day.

My Experience Day Nine

Day nine felt a lot like eight. I had my best workout yet at The12, and burned more calories than any of my previous workouts. Chicken was reintroduced today, which made me very happy. I never though I could tire of fish, but I found that I needed to mix it up. I roasted an organic free-range chicken (seasoned with lemon, rosemary, garlic, and a little bit of sea salt). I combined with red potatoes and green beans and finally, for the first time since I started the cleanse, my family and I could all eat the exact same meal.


Metabolic Cleanse: Day Ten

Slowly reintroduce foods that have not been added to diet.

If food allergies are suspected, try one at a time and wait 24-48 hours for a reaction.

My Experience: Day Ten

I’m done, I’m done, I’m done, I’m done! There may have been some skipping and happy dancing. There was no champagne sadly but I did overindulge in sparkling water.

On a more serious note, I have to say I am proud of myself. Forgoing caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar, salt, eggs, soy, beef, pork, foods with wheat or wheat flour or corn or cornflower, and any processed foods is no small challenge. I am so glad I did it.

I can’t stop smiling because I feel (and I think look) so much healthier. I can not wait to build on the progress I have made during the next step of this journey. I hope you follow along. I’ll keep you posted…

My Twelve Week Challenge: The Night Before

Tomorrow, I start a new chapter of my life. I’m excited, nervous, and a little scared. But for the most part, I feel ready – to write a new chapter to my story that includes better health, better fitness and an overall better me.

Tomorrow is the first day of my Twelve-Week Challenge at The12, a new unique and cutting-edge gym in Irvine.

The challenge begins with a ten-day cleanse. It is not a fast, which can cause muscle wasting and fatigue, but rather a detoxification process, which includes the proper macro-nutrients (protein and carbohydrates) plus specific micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Designed to enhance the body’s natural metabolic detoxification process while providing adequate fuel for cleansing and daily activities.

Weight loss is not the goal of the cleanse, although it may happen – hey, I certainly wouldn’t complain. The main goal is to detox the body and eliminate potential allergens, which are then slowly reintroduced at the end of the cleanse, allowing you to pinpoint any problem foods.

Once the cleanse is done, my journey will be far from over. It will include an additional ten weeks of the challenge, where I will focus on specific macro-nutrient goals, food journaling, and participating in The12’s Afterburn Training.

My intention is to update regularly on this journey – to share my progress, set backs and concerns – my unbiased opinion about the process. In the hopes that I might be able to inspire others. And, if I get really brave, I may even share my before and after photos – although the thought of my 40-something, I-gave-birth-to-nine-plus-pound-babies belly being on public display makes me shudder. But hey, with some hard work and a little luck, there is a chance that it may turn into something that would not be so mortifying for me. I know it won’t be easy but if it happens, I’m sharing for sure.

For a little insight on why I decided to embark on this journey and what my initial concerns are, check out this video –

Off to bed now and on to better days ahead beginning tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Disclaimer: Although I did receive a discount on some products and services of The12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.