The Barre Workout: My Experience With Barre Class

My gym offers a variety of group fitness classes, and I like to shake up my routine by trying new things sometimes. I have tried the ever-popular Zumba, another dance-based class called K-Danze (apparently pronounced “Cadence” which was news to me.)

This week I decided to try a new class: The Barre workout. Now, I am told by the internet that the Barre workout is going to be the hottest workout of 2015. So I couldn’t pass it up, obviously.

At this point, in the introduction portion of this post, I want to reiterate that I am not even a little coordinated. I actually thought to myself, on the way home from my Barre class “I should start an EventuallyFormerFatty YouTube channel where someone records me hilariously flailing around, wobbling and falling over, and in general looking like a doofus during these group fitness classes. That shit would go viral and people would think “Well, I might suck, but I can do a whole lot better than that, so maybe I will give this fitness thing a try!”

I am totally willing to look like a fool as long as I have some fun and get my sweat on. And if my random failings and flailings make someone else feel like “Shit, I’m doing alright compared to that spaz,” then I’m cool with that. Some people lead by example. Not all of us can be examples of the right thing to do.

And in Barre class… mission accomplished… mostly.

I knew I wasn’t particularly coordinated, but I was not fully aware that I have very little sense of balance. Turns out…

Where my other classes have been about constant movement and sky-high energy, Barre class has a very different approach and vibe. The idea is to develop strength using the ballet Barre by holding or pulsing specific positions for an extended period of time. It focuses on form and core stability. Simple enough, right? Should be a nice change of pace to slow down a little, right?

I rue every decision that led to the decision to try the Barre workout. Why, oh why, did I fancy myself a ballerina in the making?

Okay, that might be a little dramatic. But seriously. I didn’t even know it was possible to hurt this much after a workout. A scant few days before I fought the Barre and the Barre won, I had thought to myself “I must be getting good at this whole fitness thing! I haven’t felt sore after a workout in ages!”

How naïve I was.

During the class, we focused on things like lunges and the Plié. All things I have done before, but not things I have had to hold for an extended period of time in which I fully considered just sprinting out of the room. But I did it, legs vibrating all the way. When I walked away, I felt full of pent up energy. It was great.

And then I woke up the next day to work at 7 a.m. And my first waking thought was “Am I paralyzed? I don’t think I can walk. Shit.”

Spoiler alert: I can still walk. But not very well.

THE PAIN. I’m finishing this entry three days later and I STILL had trouble walking today. The muscles in my lower thigh/knee area have been experiencing some hot, searing pain since waking up on Saturday. And that muscle that runs along my inner thigh from my groin to my knee? DEATH.

Ballerinas often suffer for their art, and so too must Eventually Former Fatties suffer for the bodies they desire.

Am I sexy yet? Ouch. Ouch on all counts. I feel like Barre class is a cruel joke that those hard-as-nails ballerinas have decided to inflict on the general public.

Conclusion: If you love waking up in immeasurable amounts of pain, the Barre workout is for you!

MyFitnessPal Coaching Review: Week 2

If you have been following the blog, you know that I have been trying on the new service from MyFitnessPal, MyFitnessPal Coach for the last few weeks. Last week got off to, well, not the greatest of starts as the service was still a little buggy.

This week, in order to get me some more of the features of the app, I was prompted to install the beta testing version of the app and… TADA! I was able to communicate directly with my coach!

I was able to do a diagnostic questionnaire which helps my coach to determine the best course of action to take. The diagnostic was very in-depth. It asked about my eating habits, exercise habits, lifestyle, and home environment. I actually found that answering these questions helped me to self-identify some struggles I have.

For instance, I realized that I feel guilty about the fact that I don’t let my husband keep “junk” food in his own house, and I am therefore much more likely to say “okay” when he suggests we go out to eat. This actually prompted a conversation between my husband and I, where I realized that that guilt really was coming from me, not from any feelings he had. He literally shrugged and said “I’m a grown man. If I want junk food, I can get in my car and go get it any time.”

Knowing this allowed me to let go of that self-imposed guilt and move on. So next time he wants to get pizza, my answer is “Is it cheat day? THEN NO!”

Okay, I might be nicer about it than that. Maybe.

Sometimes putting habits in writing is enough for you to look at them and say “Whoa. I should fix that.”

But a little self-reflection goes a long way, right?

Talking with my coach

After you complete the diagnostic, going to the Coach tab takes you directly to a messenger-like screen where you have a running dialogue with your coach. My coach and I have already had several conversations: plateaus, making convenience meals for home, making foods that fit within my goals that my veggie-averse husband might also like. Just moments ago I asked about macronutrients, which I have mostly ignored except a pretty vague “More protein” push in my head.

I want to take the time to talk about my coach, as she is an integral part of my experience. Now obviously, people may have different experiences with different coaches.

My coach has been great thus far, but I suspect that she is more used to beginners. I kind of get a sense that she doesn’t quite know what to do with me. I kind of have developed a set of habits that, while not perfect, are pretty effective, other than my plateaus that have plagued me as of late.

One thing I have recognized is that it is difficult to take criticism, even such positive, well-constructed criticism, at this stage. For instance, yesterday was my cheat day. I had two slices of pizza. Damn fine pizza filled with cheese and alfredo and all the greatness that is the local pizza haunt that piles on the toppings.

She commented on my diary, which is obviously her job, saying that next time I should choose one slice and a big salad on the side so I can reduce the calories and score some nutrients.

Of COURSE that is the right thing to do. I KNOW that. But maybe… pizza.

I found myself thinking “If this is not new advice to me, why am I not following it?”

That’s the hard part. Consistently following the advice you know is right.

So here is my goal for the coming week: consistently making the decisions I know to be right.

Something Missing

So if you recall from my Day 1 Post, there was a list of promised features for coaching. Obviously, I am still experiencing the Beta test features, so who knows how much of the real features have not made it to my current experience?

I have definitely gotten a solid dose of “Strategies for overcoming challenges and techniques for developing new habits.” I also feel like my coach has been good about upholding “the flexibility to eat the foods you love” aspect of the bargain.

One of the items on MyFitnessPal’s list was “Access to hundreds of dietitian-approved, macronutrient balanced recipes.” Maybe I’m missing these? Where are they? I got an email from “MyFitnessPal Recipes” at one point. Maybe they are there? I asked my coach for some make-ahead meal ideas hoping that she would reveal access to this members-only area full of recipes, but alas! She sent me to resources on external sites like Cooking Light.

I will report back if I find them.

MyFitnessPal Coaching: Week 1 Recap

To read the day-by-day play-by-play of my experience as I experienced it, click the links below.  This entry is a recap of my experiences.  

MyFitnessPal Coaching Review Day 1
MyFitnessPal Coaching Review Day 2
MyFitnessPal Coaching Review Day 3
MyFitnessPal Coaching Review Day 4
MyFitnessPal Coaching Review Day 5

MyFitnessPal Coaching: Good idea or BEST IDEA EVER?!?!

One week ago, I noticed that MyFitnessPal was offering a paid coaching service. I was really excited by this development. I am a huge fan of MyFitnesspal, and individualized coaching seems like the perfect premium service for the company to break into the “freemium” model.

Upon doing a little reading, I noted that MyFitnessPal had acquired the coaching startup “Sessions.” But my Google-jitsu ended there. There was blessedly little information about the coaching service available online after the announcement of the initial acquisition.

So little, in fact, that I wondered if I was seeing a mirage that appeared inside my favorite application.

A rocky start

After my husband convinced me to try the service for a month, I signed up! I entered my credit card info and was greeted with a bio of my coach, a seasoned expert with what I considered to be a solid philosophy of nutrition and weight loss.

Eagerly awaited the rest of the promised features, I pressed next… and was met with an error.
MyFitnessPal Coaching Error

Ruh roh.

I emailed support with the highest of all possible hopes. They were soon dashed by the initial response from a support agent who I later learned was new and misinformed.

The agent replied that MyFitnessPal offered no such service, and that he believed I had contacted the wrong company.

What?

Talking to the right people

Not sure where to turn, I replied to what I was sure was an auto-generated email from the desk of Glennis Coursey, Coaching Lead at MyFitnessPal. I briefly told him how excited I was about the feature and the issues I was having with the functionality of the app and the frustrating encounter with customer support.

Very shortly after, I received a personal response, where he connected me with Nick, whose title I am not entirely sure of. Nick and Glennis were excellent, making sure to keep me updated as they worked on my case.

The issues I am experiencing have not yet been resolved, but I am confident that they will be soon. In the meantime, I am able to experience some, not all, parts of the Coaching portion of the app.

Daily diary comments

Part of the included service is daily comments made by your coach. Thus far, I have been EXTREMELY satisfied with the comments made by my coach. To recap, here are a few comments I have received.

Positive comments:
MyFitnessPal Coach CommentsMyFitnessPal Coach Comments

Room for improvement comments
MyFitnessPal Coach CommentsIn MyFitnessPal Coach, your coach actually comments right in your diary.  It's pretty neat!

I love the attention to detail to these comments, particularly the redirection the coach provides when there are less-than beautiful choices in my diary… like the Taco Bell pictured above.

I’m also thrilled that my coach didn’t immediately jump in with “NO TACO BELL EVER!  RAWR!”  Just a simple “hey, moving forward, find some balance.”

Results

I spoke about the effect of knowing a coach was watching and the positive impact it has on the decisions you make.  It is the same reason we automatically slow down when we see cops even if we weren’t speeding.  When we know someone who cares is watching, we naturally strive to be on our best behavior.

This caused some legitimate results to happen.  I already feel like I have a good grasp on nutrition, but with my coach watching, I found myself less likely to cheat and made my decisions more carefully.

The result on the scale this week were pretty inspiring.  I’ve lost around 5 lbs, which is a rate that is much faster than I had been losing.  I haven’t made any extensive conscious changes, mind you, just doing what I already know is right.

Going forward…

I am very much looking forward to being able to use all parts of this app!  I am particularly interested in the promised “macronutrient balanced recipes” and the “eye-opening behavioral insights.”  Spoiler alert: I eat very healthy for breakfast and lunch, and then eat crap for dinner and yet somehow make my calorie goals.

 

MyFitnessPal Coach Review: Day 5

This is an ongoing review of my one month experience with the new paid MyFitnessPal Coaching feature. To catch up, here are links to the previous entries.

MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 1
MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 2
MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 3
MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 4

Updates…

Nothing to report in terms of the functionality fixes. They did mention that it might be later in the week before a solution was found, so I am waiting to get a taste for all the cool features I am sure are in store.

The feature that I have been able to experience is the daily diary comments made by my coach. These continue to be great, constructive comments. If you read yesterday’s entry, you will note that she made a very constructive comment that was not a praise comment, which I really appreciate. After all, the whole reason for getting coaching is to learn what you could do better.

I do like that my coach praises what I already do well. It is a little incentive to keep it up and keep going. But I especially crave the actionable changes my coach suggests like the one made yesterday.

The EYES

The Eyes TJ Eckleburg
There has been an interesting effect I have noticed personally since signing up for coaching that I wanted to share.

You know how sometimes you are driving down the road and suddenly you see a police officer and so you slow down, only to realize “Wait, I wasn’t speeding.”  Or how sometimes you will be working and your boss walks past so you try to look smarter, more engaged, and like you are a diligent, hard worker?  Even though you get your work done, when someone is watching, it makes you aware of how things look from an outsider perspective.

When I began logging my calories, I felt that the very act of logging things helped me to make good decisions. No thank you to that second portion. I will choose vegetables instead of a cheeseburger. I will pass on that snack in the break room.

But then, logging my calories became such a normal, routine part of my life that the factor that influenced me to choose differently went away. Don’t get me wrong, I still made healthy decisions, but it was more the mechanics of a calorie budget that influenced these decisions, not some sense of pride in wanting my food diary to look awesome.

Now that my coach is watching and making daily comments on my diary, regardless of what she comments, the very fact that she is watching influences the things I choose. As I went to pick out something to bring to work for lunch today, I literally thought to myself “My coach is gonna be so proud of these awesome veggies I am making!” (Sidenote: They were awesome and she was indeed proud.)

This week, I have been making healthy choices, not just because I now live a healthy lifestyle, but because I am a bit of a showoff, and I have someone to whom I can show off.

It pays to have someone checking in on your diary.

And I am happy to report that there appears to be a real correlation with the coaching, even in the limited scope I am able to access right now, and my weight. I have lost a total of 4.6 lbs this week since I began coaching. Mind you, I didn’t make any distinct changes to what I was doing. But just having that extra push to do the things I know will make me successful instead of little cheats and shortcuts here and there seems to do the trick.

It has also made me a lot more honest about my logging. One of my big goals at the new year was to log more thoroughly. I was doing this religiously for the first 60 pounds or so, but then I got a little sloppy about it.

Having a coach checking my diary daily is a real incentive to keep my food log very accurate and comprehensive. I’ve even been logging the zero-calorie things I eat and drink just so I can give my coach a better idea of what my day looks like.  After all, there is really no sense in investing in coaching if you aren’t going to lay it all on the table, right?

MyFitnessPal Coach Review: Day 4

This is an ongoing review of my one month experience with the new paid MyFitnessPal Coaching feature.  To catch up, here are links to the previous entries.

MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 1
MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 2
MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 3

Today’s entry will be pretty short.  I am not experiencing the full functionality still.  I am okay with this. The support team has been great about keeping in touch with me. I also know they are working on it because throughout the day there have been quizzical changes that have been made to the app on my end that change back without any action on my part shortly thereafter. My coach changed and then changed back, my language changed for a short time, and the dates in my diary went wonky at one point. All sure signs that people are working behind the scenes to get things sorted out.

Hark!

Some good news today!  I got some real, live criticism from my coach!  As you know from the last few days, I have felt that my coach was “playing nice” and holding back.

Here it is, in all its glory.

In MyFitnessPal Coach, your coach actually comments right in your diary. It’s pretty neat!

Here is what I like about this interaction:

  • It addresses an item that is not outwardly “bad.” It’s not like she mentioned the sugar content of a milkshake.
  • Not only is it a replacement of the actual item I was eating, it replaces the FUNCTION of the item. I grab an oatmeal cup when I have a hurried morning.
  • The redirect she provided was specific and actionable.

Going forward

I am still looking forward to seeing the reaction to a “cheat” day. So far I have been pretty darn good! What does the coach say when I have an “off the wagon” day?

I am DYING to experience the remaining functionality of the app. I want access to those recipes and to be able to ask my coach questions and all that stuff. It will come, I am just impatient!

 

Read on…
MyFitnessPal Coach Review Day 5