The Workouts!

My Fit Body Boot Camp Class
My Fit Body Boot Camp Class (photo by Andre Davis at

Many have asked me, “How often do you work out?” The answer to that is five or six days per week. However, it isn’t just any workout. I am a member at Fit Body Boot Camp in Napa.

Fit Body Boot Camp, with locations across the United States, is a program that incorporates what is called High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Active Rest Training, which are more effective than many longer exercise programs. It is a 30-minute workout that focuses on getting your heart rate into the fat burning zone while at the same time, you strength train to develop more muscle mass. The workouts are known as the Afterburn ™ workouts because you burn calories long after the workout has ended, for 24-48 hours.

I attend an early-morning class Monday through Friday and most Saturdays. I choose to work out before I start the rest of day because I like the feeling of accomplishment first thing in the morning, plus it jumpstarts endorphins, fat burning, and metabolism that lasts all day. Our classes usually consist of four stations of two exercises each. We complete each exercise at a station three times for 30-40 seconds each, alternating between the two, then we move to the next station. We take a water break halfway through the class. We often finish the class with a final burst of exercise and stretching together as one group. The exercises include weight-bearing activities with hand weights, the TRX Training System, medicine balls, and ropes, as well as running, burpees, squats, lunges, mountain climbers, planks, push-ups, sit-ups, and many others.

I have been a certified aerobics instructor and fitness class participant in the past, including activities such as step aerobics, cardio-dance, power walking, and weight-based programs, and I have not found any of these to be as effective in such a short amount of time, with regard to length of the daily workout and time it has taken to get to the fitness level I have achieved to date. I recommend Fit Body Boot Camp or something similar that incorporates HIIT if you want to achieve optimal health and fitness.

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About the wine…

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Balancing wine and fitness

As some of you may know, I work in the wine business and I have a travel and wine website, Travel Wine Chick. Wine was something I began enjoying with more regularity back in 2008, when I started working as a travel manager for a wine broker and importer. In 2011, I created my website, and in 2012, I took two wine certification courses. In 2013, I began working in the wine business part time, and in 2014, I moved to the Napa Valley to work full time in the business and I completed another wine certification course. Wine became a regular part of my life. I didn’t drink it every day, but often I would come home from work, open a bottle, and drink a glass or two or three. Then there were wine events, winery visits, wine dinners, etc.

When I started my new lifestyle, I came to the realization that my noticeable weight gain began around this same time as my wine interest. I do not think that is a coincidence. When I eliminated most wine and other alcohol from my diet, I believe that jump started my weight loss. When one removes away hundreds of calories per day, that is going to make an impact. Alcohol is also depressant and it slows down one’s metabolism, so it carries a one-two punch.

People whom I know in the wine business have expressed to me disappointment, thinking that I am no longer the carefree, wine lover that I once was. That hurts a bit, but how I feel in this moment matters more than what others think. I still love wine, but I enjoy it in very small quantities. I taste wine samples at home, but I don’t consume the entire bottle. When I go to wineries to taste, I spit and dump like a true wine professional should. I no longer come home and drink wine after work, but rather save those calories for special, social occasions, like dinners out with colleagues or friends. I recently attended an amazing, multi-course winemaker dinner and I had a fantastic time sipping the wines, but I did not drink everything that was poured for me, nor did I eat everything on my plate.

Some of you, my friends, may be sad that I love something more than wine, but it’s me that I love more. I am healthy. I am happier than I have been in a long time. I love being five sizes smaller and fitting into clothes easily, not having to hide my fat from the world. Wine is delicious, but so is the rest of my life.

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The Meal Plan Outline!

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Many of my friends have asked what meal plan I’ve been using. As I mentioned in my inaugural post multiple times, I don’t cook. Reading recipes are like a foreign language to me. Having to buy certain items and ingredients overwhelms me. I am also single, so cooking for one isn’t much fun. Therefore, I asked Coach Laura to simplify the meal plan for me and below is what she shared and what I have followed religiously since the first week.

I rarely cheat and if I do cheat, I try to make the cheat still fit the plan with regard to portions, protein, vegetables, fruits, etc. If dining out, I made at least two meals out of every restaurant meal. I have eliminated most condiments/dressings/sauces, alcohol, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, refined and added sugar, and dairy (except for 2% Greek yogurt). I also log everything I eat and drink using MyFitnessPal, sync that with my Fitbit, and consume around 1000-1200 calories per day, while burning around 2000 calories per day.

The goal is to eat every 3 hours.

Breakfast: 20g or 4oz of protein + 2 cups of fruits or vegetables

Snack: A fruit or vegetable + a fat or protein

Lunch: 20g or 4 oz. of protein + 1/2 cup of starch + 2 cups of fruits or vegetables.

Snack:  A fruit or vegetable + a fat or protein

Dinner: 20g or 4 oz. protein + 2 cups of fruits or vegetables
Easy Food Suggestions
Snack fruits and vegetables: Apple, banana, baby carrots, or berries

Snack protein and fat: Hard-boiled egg, 8 almonds, 1 tablespoon of a nut butter, string cheese, or regular or 2% Greek yogurt (low fat, not fat free)

Proteins: Roasted turkey or chicken, ground turkey, frozen or fresh fish, pork tenderloin, tuna, eggs, egg whites, 2% Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese

Starch: Sweet potato, winter squash, whole grains, lentils, or peas

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How It Began

Ryan and me
Me on September 11, 2016, the day before I began my 28-day challenge

I never had a weight problem until about 10 years ago. I was always taller than most of my classmates through public school, until the boys started surpassing me in high school, but never overweight. In college, I gained the “freshman 15”, but stayed at a healthy weight. In graduate school, I lost a lot of weight because I was living alone, didn’t cook, and rarely ate dinner. I had a meal plan at the college for breakfast and lunch, but when I came home to my apartment in the evening, I was busy completing reading assignments and papers for my courses and often forgot to eat. When I accepted my community college teaching position, I was the smallest I had ever been in my life, a size 6. My mother at the time told me that I looked anorexic. During the first few years of my teaching career, I eventually gained some weight, but I was still a size 8 when I met the guy that would be my boyfriend for the next fifteen years. The first few years we dated, I had a gym membership, I sometimes taught aerobics at the college, and I also took fitness classes with other faculty. However, our relationship was long distance. I lived in Virginia and he lived in New York, so I would teach during the week, then travel to spend most weekends with him or he would travel to see me. I began gaining weight during that relationship around year nine or ten, after I ended my gym membership and stopped teaching and taking fitness classes, and kept gaining. Another factor was that when we were together, he did all of the cooking and I didn’t always know how he prepared our meals. I recall that we ate a lot of food when we were together. During this same time, I became interested in wine, which became a frequent beverage of choice. In December 2010, I knew I had a problem, so I started doing Leslie Sansone Walk at Home videos every day as my physical activity. It was not enough to make a difference because I didn’t change my eating and I was still drinking wine. When my boyfriend and I broke up and I lost my teaching job in 2012, I worked from home for a year in 2013, which made my life increasingly sedentary even though I was still doing the Leslie Sansone workouts. In 2014, I moved to Napa, California, to begin my second career and I lost 17 pounds that first year. However, it was not long until I gained it back, as I spent most of my workday at a desk, I was drinking wine, and I no longer did the Leslie Sansone workouts. I was increasingly frustrated and unhappy with myself and my appearance. I would rarely go shopping for clothes, but when I did, I would struggle to find clothes in which I “didn’t look fat.” I spent many moments in tears looking at myself in dressing room and other mirrors. The reality was that I was FAT, UNHEALTHY, and UNHAPPY.

During Labor Day weekend 2016, I traveled to my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. That Sunday morning, September 4, I woke up and was checking social media and this sponsored post from In Motion Fitness in Napa (now Fit Body Boot Camp) popped up in my news feed. It was promoting a 28-Day Little Black Dress Challenge. I clicked on the link to find out more and subscribed to website emails. I emailed the address on the website and Coach Laura replied that very day. We exchanged a few emails, including questions she asked me so that I would be ready to meet with her upon my return. She also requested that I send a photo of how I wanted to look. My reply was as follows and one of the photos I submitted to her is below.

How I envisioned myself after losing 40 pounds (source:

I can’t remember when I was the weight I used to be. I am fairly tall (5’8″) and I am able to carry more weight better than most because of my large frame, but I am ready to be more healthily curvy, if that makes sense. Attached are photos of women I found online whose body shape I’d like to aspire to reach. I am currently a size 14-16. I just want to look and feel better, be more muscular than fat, but still remain myself. The smallest I have been is a size 6 and now is the largest I’ve been. I would feel OK as a size 10-12. Size 6 was really too skinny for me, I thought. My primary challenge has been finding time to work out and finding meals for one person that are easy to prepare and taste good. I am not a cook and I don’t really enjoy a lot of work to prepare meals for one. I also work 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday  and also work a couple of part-time jobs and come home without much energy to do anything. I will send or bring my food journal on Tuesday. I eat OK about 80% of the time. I’ve been exploring less meat and more protein like eggs and low-fat yogurt. I eat more vegetables than fruits. I don’t like sweets or bread.

Because of her prompt response and a coupon code I found online, I enrolled for the challenge immediately. The following week, we met and measured weight and body fat and discussed my email and the answers to my questions. I was borderline obese and she told me I needed to lose at least 10% body fat or approximately 40 pounds to be within a healthy zone. The number of workouts per week would determine how fast I would lose. I also asked for a meal plan outline because I am not really a cook, which she provided to me. I began the workout and meal plan on Monday, September 12, 2016. I tried afternoon/evening workouts, but I realized immediately that this schedule would not work for me. Therefore, I opted for 6:35 a.m., which would allow me to wake up at the same time, work out, come home and get ready for work, then get to work by 9:00 a.m., with the blessing of my employer. Within the first two weeks, I saw results. When the franchise changed to Fit Body Boot Camp and they offered charter memberships for the first 50 people at their open house on Saturday, October 1, 2016, I enrolled for a year membership and prepaid the entire year on the spot. I knew at that moment that this was going to be a lifetime commitment, a complete lifestyle change, and an act of self love. I was ready to be myself and to be happy again.

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