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PranaPillow & Full Prana Set!

I wrote about PranamatEco last November, when I reviewed the Pranamat they generously sent me to try.

I loved (and still love) my Pranamat, and use it regularly to ease my muscles, relax, and increase blood flow. You can read the original post about why I can’t live without my Pranamat here.

PranaPillow

When the PranamatEco team reached out to me to send me a PranaPillow to complete my set, I admit I was skeptical. Full disclosure, the exact words that went through my head were: “why do I need a pillow? I can just prop my mat up on a normal pillow and hit that spot in my neck, I sure wouldn’t be paying for a pillow…but I guess I’ll try it if they’re sending it anyways…I mean I do already love my mat.”

I take all those words back. The difference between using the PranaPillow instead of the mat with a pillow underneath it is astounding. For a product I never thought I would need, I am so grateful to have it now.

The PranaPillow is very similar to the Pranamat in the following ways:

  • the PranaPillow is an acupressure pillow
  • Acupressure is a traditional Chinese therapy that is used to relieve tension, stress, boost the immune system, increase circulation, reduce pain, break down fat deposits, and improve cellular function
  • Made with natural, environmentally friendly materials that are hypoallergenic
  • The lotus flower massagers are HIPS plastic, certified for use in surgical equipment
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • 5 year warranty
  • Worldwide shipping, and delivery is usually within 5 days

The Differences:

  • Instead of being filled with coconut fiber and lying flat like the mat does, the PranaPillow is filled with 100% natural buckwheat hulls, which allow the pillow to be molded into any position and conform to your body.
  • It is PERFECT for the back and sides of my neck, the curve in my lower back, and I also love to put it behind my thighs with my feet slightly elevated when I’m lying on the couch, especially after a run!
  • It is smaller and more portable when you need relief for smaller, more specific areas of your body

I work in an office sitting at a desk staring at a computer all day, so I carry a lot of tension in my neck, shoulders, and upper back, especially since I have the worst seated posture ever. The PranaPillow works perfectly for these trouble spots, especially since it conforms to the curves in my back to really pinpoint the tight spots.

I had a surgery last week which involved having my abdomen filled with carbon dioxide gas, and a lot of it remains in my body after surgery. One of the ways to release it is to walk and move, but I’ve been struggling to remove the last of the lingering gas from my shoulders and neck. Using the pillow a couple times a day in those trouble spots has really made a difference and helped to relieve the pain!

The Complete Set

I adore my full set. I have both the Pramat, PranaPillow, and my sweet mom bought me the travel bag for Christmas, so I am prana-portable now! Both the mat and pillow are turquoise/turquoise (obviously), and I have the turquoise/natural bag.

My favorite part about having a complete set is that now I can focus on more of my body at one time! I will place the pillow on my neck and shoulders, and then lay on the mat from mid-back to bum. It took some getting used to having that many lotus flowers on my body at once (221 on the mat and 95 on the pillow, and each flower has 25 pressure points!), but as soon as I stop tensing, relax my body, and breathe normally, it feels amazing.

The combination of the Pranamat and the PranaPillow have done wonders for my body and mind:

  • less muscle tension
  • mild decrease in cellulite on my upper thighs/hamstrings
  • better sleep, wtih less waking throughout the night
  • fewer, and less severe, headaches
  • less DOMS after a workout
  • 20 minutes minimum of relaxation per day with no cell phone

The products are versatile and travel friendly! I can use either the pillow, the mat, or both, while lying on the floor, couch, or on my bed. I have even taken my mat to work with me when I am feeling especially tight.


I can also now travel with my Pranamat, which you can bet I will be doing when I go on my cruise to Greece, Italy, Montengro, and Spain in July! Those long haul flights and 18 hour travel days will definitely require some acupressure time and I can easily take my Pranamat as a carry-on now with the carrying bag!

A key update from my original post – you can now buy the bag separately by visiting Pranaline – this was my only complaint about the products, and it’s been rectified! I have nothing but pure love for these natural, high-quality, gorgeous, and amazing products.

Click HERE to check out the site and their amazing natural products.

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Financial compensation was not received for this post. A sample product was gifted from PranamatEco. This post contains affiliate links meaning I receive compensation if an order is placed after using a link I provided. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.

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30 Day Freezer Meal Prep

As some of you may know, I am having a surgery at some point this year that could have me recovering on the couch for up to six weeks. Anticipating this, I decided to spend a weekend making some meals that could be frozen ahead of time to ensure that I (and the BF) could eat wholesome, healthy, and delicious food each night with leftovers for lunch the next day!

Using a mix of personal favorites, and a couple of new finds on Pinterest, I successfully made up 30 dishes, and each will feed the BF and I both dinner and lunch, with some even feeding an additional meal or two (the chicken pot pie and the pulled pork will feed at least 6). I tried to make sure I had a good variety of meals, with different proteins, and avoided duplicates so we wouldn’t get bored!

I planned out the meals I wanted, made a comprehensive grocery list, and spent $300 on groceries, not including the frozen chicken breasts I already had at home, as well as dried goods (like rice) and spices, and was able to complete the entire prep! This works out to $10/meal and $2.50/serving. While the BF had a mild heart attack at the total bill between Costco and Safeway before I began this prep, once I did this math, I felt much more relieved. For that entire month as we use these meals, the only groceries we will need to buy is fruit, vegetables, and milk! I generally spend around $125 per week on groceries, if not more, so this is much more economical. Each of the recipes below I split into two meal portions.

It’s also important to note that I own a FoodSaver vacuum sealer – this thing is the best gift my father has ever given me. Not only can I freeze any and everything from soups, to whole chickens, to burger patties, it also is a fantastic method to marinate food for a couple of hours before cooking and getting all that flavor that normally takes an overnight process. I used the sealer for most of my meals, with the exception of 10 square tins and 2 pie tins that I bought at the dollar store, for a whole $12. You can definitely still do this prep with freezer Ziploc bags, I just prefer the vacuum sealer because there is no chance of leaking or spoiling. I also lay these bags flat to freeze, and they now can stand up straight and use up minimal space in the deep freeze.

While I don’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, I am sure that any of these recipes could be adapted to suit your own needs! All links to recipes are provided. Full grocery list provided as well!

Recipes

Items with a * can be cooked in the crockpot

Poultry

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken, Broccoli, Potato, & Bacon Bake

Turkey Chili*

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole*

Chicken Ravioli Lasagna

Beef

Goulash*

Stroganoff

Sweet & Sour Meatballs*

Slow Cooker Pizza*

Spaghetti Bolognese sauce*

Lasagna

Taco Bake

Pork

Smothered Pork Chops*

Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork*

Grocery List

Meat (I purchased all my meat in bulk at Costco, it was the most cost-efficient)

12 chicken breasts

6 lbs. lean ground beef/ground turkey (I did 5 beef and 1 turkey)

2 lbs. beef stewing cubes

4-6 pork chops

2 lbs. pork tenderloin

1/3 c. cooked crumbled bacon (I use the pre-cooked bacon bits from Costco)

1 pound Italian sausage (I omitted this)

Dairy

1 ½ c. grated parmesan cheese (I use Kraft dried parmesan)

12 c. shredded cheese

⅓ c. + 2 tbsp. butter or margarine

1 c. milk

½ c. heavy cream

1 c. light sour cream

1 c. ricotta cheese

Canned goods

4 cans tomato sauce

2 small cans tomato paste

3 c. chicken broth

6 c. diced tomatoes

2 cans corn niblets

1 can white navy beans

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

4 cans cream of chicken soup

3 jars pasta sauce (of choice)

1 – 14 oz. can pizza sauce

Dry Goods

12 cups (cooked) rice

1 onion soup mix

1 pork gravy mix

1 package taco seasoning mix

1½ c. dry macaroni noodles

Spices

Oregano

All-purpose flour

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Minced garlic

Cumin

Parsley

Onion powder

Paprika

Bay leaves

Beef bouillon powder

Chicken bouillon powder

White sugar

Brown sugar

Cornstarch

White vinegar

Soya sauce

Italian seasoning

Chili powder

Cayenne pepper

Veggies

4 onions

1 bunch celery

5 red potatoes

6 heads of broccoli

7 large carrots

1 green pepper

Frozen Goods

1 bag frozen peas

1 package frozen ravioli of choice (I used fresh chicken and cheese ravioli)

1 package frozen meatballs

Miscellaneous

4 unbaked pie crusts (I used 2 packages of Pillsbury pie crusts, each comes with 2)

15 no-boil lasagna noodles

 

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Favorite Recipes from Mom’s Recipe Box

The four recipes below are some of my absolute favorites that my Mom used to make! I of course raided her recipe box a long time ago and these are often in my meal rotation.

I made these meals as part of my freezer meal prep! The grocery list I provided includes all the ingredients needed to make these recipes.

Chicken Parmesan

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 208

Carbs: 15g

Fat: 3.5g

Protein: 29.7g

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 6 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray
  3. Pour tomato sauce into pan, add in parmesan cheese and oregano, mixing well
  4. Add chicken breasts, and coat with sauce
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through
  6. Top with mozzarella cheese and cook 5 more minutes

Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 297

Carbs: 11.9g

Fat: 17.2g

Protein: 25.6g

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 bayleaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Brown beef
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (you can also use a crockpot for this instead)
  3. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray
  4. Mix beef with dry ingredients
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling (or cook on low for 6-8 hours in crockpot)
  6. Serve with pasta

Beef Goulash

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 393

Carbs: 7.9g

Fat: 24g

Protein: 32.6g

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. beef stewing cubes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. beef bouillion powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in the crockpot
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
  3. Serve with rice or pasta

Stroganoff

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 293

Carbs: 10.6g

Fat: 15.8g

Protein: 27.4g

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1 container light sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Brown beef/turkey
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F
  3. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray
  4. In casserole dish, toss turkey/beef with flour
  5. Add sour cream, chicken soup, and cheese, mix well
  6. Bake for 30 minutes
  7. Serve with rice or pasta

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SBT Seabuckthorn

I stumbled upon SBT Seabuckthorn in January of this year while I was looking for companies to support the Sweat Alberta Retreat with donations for the prizes and goodie bags. As I looked into the company and their products, I could immediately tell how passionate they were about the quality of their products, loved the variety of products that were available, and once I spoke to Crystal, I instantly knew how passionate they were about their customers as well.

The Company: SBT Seabuckthorn

SBT Seabuckthorn is a 100% female owned & operated company located in Peachland, British Columbia, Canada, who produces only 100% natural, vegan, cruelty & allergen free products. They also source only 100% eco-friendly & sustainable plants for their therapeutic skin care.

All products are non-GMO, gluten free, cruelty free, eco-friendly, soy free, and most recently palm oil free! They are also free from SLS, DEA, parabens, talc, silicone, dyes/colourants, fragrance, petroleum, formaldehyde, and have helped customers lower their cholesterol, relieve their arthritis, calm their eczema flare ups, soothe their scalps, heal wounds, burns, & scars, and so much more!

What is Seabuckthorn?

  • a medicinal plant that has been used for years in herbal medicine as it is one of the most nutritionally dense plants on earth
  • every part of the plant contains bio-active compounds that support human health
  • seabuckthorn extract contains a variety of essential fatty acids and antioxidants (including vitamin C, vitamin E and anthocyanins)

Uses for Seabuckthorn

  • stimulate the digestive system
  • enhance heart and liver health
  • treat skin disorders
  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • eczema
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • inflammation
  • rosacea

What do they make?

What don’t they make would be an easier question to answer, but here’s their main products, under which of each is a multitude of options for any ailment you may suffer from:

  • oils (ingested)
  • teas
  • cleansing bars
  • skin care products
  • hair care products
  • soothing salves

My Products

The day after the retreat ended, I received a surprise package from Crystal and SBT Seabuckthorn, and I couldn’t have been happier! Inside my box contained a tin of their wellness matcha, samples of both their day and night creams, a therapeutic vegan tea bar, and a tin of both Muscle & Joint Pain Soothing Salve and the Heal to Toe Soothing Salve. I will be writing a whole post dedicated to matcha and the SBT brand in the future, but I wanted to share my opinion on the other amazing products I was so graciously sent.

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Salves

I have used both of the salves they sent every single night since receiving them! I missed one night because I foolishly fell asleep on the couch, and regretted that decision in the morning for a lot of reasons, but sore feet were one of them.

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Muscle & Joint Pain Soothing Salve

This was the salve that every attendee at the retreat received a sample of in their goodie bag. It is made with seabuckthorn, plai, sweet birch (a natural aspirin), sweet marjoram and rosemary oils. These oils are able to penetrate deep into muscles and tissue to relieve pain, swelling, and bruising, as well as helping stiff joints. This stuff is a godsend after working out. I use it on my biceps, chest, shins, calves, shoulders, and anything else that hurts. It smells great and gently massaging it into any sore parts of my body will always help them feel a little less sore in the morning! Fun fact: marjoram is an oil that has been noted for its use in helping chronic pain like my endometriosis. So I have been rubbing it onto my abdomen in the areas that feel pain, and while I can’t rub it in as deeply as needed, it helps alleviate the smallest amount of pain. This should be in every person’s gym bag, and can be used as often as you need it!

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Heal to Toe

This salve is made with SBT Seabuckthorn oils, thyme, tea tree, lemon tea tree and peppermint oil. It is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which helps your feet from stinking up the place, and it smells amazing instead! I will be the first to admit that I have ugly feet – calloused, dry, and now that I run 2-3 times a week, they are very sore and tired. Every night when I crawl into bed, whether I run that day or not, I rub the salve into each foot from heel to toe, and wake up in the morning with moisturized and soft feet that are not sore anymore. I don’t know how I’ve ever survived without this! It will be a staple product for me now!

Other salves they make I want to try include:

Coughs & Colds & Sniffles Too

Seabuckthorn, eucalyptus, ravintsara, peppermint and ravensara oils to clear up stuffed up noses and congestion. They also carry a Sniffle Stick which contains the same ingredients and would be such a great portable way to clear up any of those upcoming summer colds.

Eczema & Dermatitis

Seabuckthorn oils, chamomile, helicrysum, rosehip and pomegranate essential oils to relieve and heal the itching. I have stress induced eczema on my arms, and it’s extremely difficult to get rid of once it pops up, and you can use this salve for extremely dry skin too.

Stretch Marks & Scars

Seabuckthorn oils, vegetable squalene, blue tansy, pomegranate and rosehip oils to refine and reduce stretch marks and scars, all while moisturizing. I am a girl, I gained and lost weight, I have stretch marks. We all do, and while that’s fine, I am all for trying to diminish their appearance! I also have a large appendectomy scar on my stomach that has never healed properly that could use a little TLC.

Sunburn

Calms and cools skin that has been overexposed to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays and will reduce redness and diminish flaking and peeling. I am fair skinned, and even with SPF 50 on, I burn in the shade. I am travelling to Greece in July and already know that no matter how hard I try, I am going to turn a lovely shade of pink. I always peel, so this would be a much better solution! Plus it would be so easy to toss into my bag each day before I head out!

Skin Creams

I react to everything – I am cursed with extremely sensitive skin and have a very hard time using any type of new product on my face. I can’t even wear anything with the slightest hint of pink on my eyes or I will puff right up! I was extremely hesitant to try these lotions knowing this, but I was assured that all of their products are allergen free so I gave it a shot and I am so glad I did.

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Day Cream

With mango and shea butter combined with seabuckthorn oil and hyaluronic acid, this cream is great as a make-up primer as it smooths lines and wrinkles, moisturizes and tones skin! It has a light smell, but one that I find very appealing. Not a single reaction occurred and after I took my makeup off my skin was nice and soft.

Night Cream

Containing olive oil squalene, grape seed extract, cucumber, wild mushrooms and Japanese Green Tea mixed with seabuckthorn oil, this cream will deeply moisturize your skin while you sleep, and fight off any wrinkles. I woke up with soft, fresh skin ready for the day!

Cleansing Bars

I’ve always been a body wash type of girl, avoiding most hard soaps. I generally find them sticky, I drop them all the time, and they seem to collect cat hair even though my cats aren’t ever actually in the shower. The cleansing bars are all natural, smell great, and really make a difference. Somehow, the cat hair never seems to stick to this soap, which is always an added bonus.

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Therapeutic Vegan Tea Bar

With both seabuckthorn and acne fighting ingredients like calcium, protein, magnesium, potassium and salicylic acid, this soap helps diminish breakouts and red spots, while also cleansing the body! I’ve recently started breaking out on my chest (thanks sweat) and this bar was the first thing I reached for to try to combat the acne and redness. I am so happy to say that it is making a difference! I would highly recommend this to anyone who experiences body acne.

I would highly recommend all of their products to anyone suffering from any type of skin ailment, and their product line will meet so many needs! The company is caring, supportive, and passionate about their products and the environment. I love both the company itself, and the products they produce and am so happy to have been able to sample some products for them!

Visit their website here to learn more about the products they carry, and follow them on Instagram to see some amazing uses for their product, learn more about the company, and have the chance to enter some draws for free product!

You can also now use the code BEFIT at checkout to save 15% on all regular priced items for your own orders!

 

Financial compensation was not received for this post. Sample products were gifted from SBT Seabuckthorn. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.

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Breaking Up With Kayla

*Disclaimer: this post is my PERSONAL opinion and thoughts based on MY experience, both from a personal level and a business perspective. You do not have to agree.

This isn’t the first time I have written about BBG:

  • See my post about how to stick to BBG here (which can really be applied to any fitness journey not just BBG)
  • My “Kaylaversary”/1 year of BBG post here
  • A post about tackling another 12 weeks of BBG here
  • The first BBG post I wrote, about attending the 2016 LA Sweat Tour and meeting Kayla herself, here.

However, this will be the last time I write about BBG.

I will be the first to tell you that Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (BBG) was what got me started. In my teens and early twenties, I was your typical thin girl who could eat whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and never gained an ounce. I didn’t exercise; I didn’t need to. As I got older, and destroyed my metabolism because I stopped eating properly (or much at all really), I inevitably began to gain weight.

I think I was about 27 when I decided that “ok, it’s time to make a change and try exercising.” I was never an athlete (unless you count swimming as a kid until I was 13), and I didn’t really know where to start. I tried CrossFit for a year, liked it but didn’t love it, got a gym membership and would go very sparingly. A friend told me about BBG, and after looking through the guides, I gave it a go. Failed, tried again, failed, and tried again. That third time it stuck. I stuck to it for 60 weeks – with injuries, illnesses, and breaks – but I did 60 weeks over the course of 1.5 years. The program was simple enough to follow: four 7-minute circuits, three times a week, add in some cardio – done. It gave me structure, routine, and dedication. In the past year and a half I found confidence in the gym, and in myself.

I created a fitness Instagram (@accountantscanbefit) when I began my BBG journey, as I had been lurking from my personal account, following Kayla and seeing the incredible transformations that she posted, checking out other accounts from girls around the world who followed the program. My account allowed me to stay accountable, find like-minded women, and even make new friends. All of this from a simple app on my phone.

Online Friends to Real Life Friends

When I started BBG, the community meant everything to me. The constant support and encouragement, the tags like #whatsonmyplate and #stopdropandselfie were such a great way to interact and meet new people. Then ‘BBG Meet Ups’ started happening. I first noticed the ones in Orlando then the ones in NYC, and I felt that Calgary should have the same! They looked like a lot of fun and brought girls from the same cities together. So I posted on my Instagram and created the #yycbbg #bbgcalgary hashtags in hopes of finding other women in Calgary following the program, and was successful. In December 2015 I ran the first YYC BBG Meet Up with 8 other girls. From there, it increasingly got more popular. Word of mouth and hashtags allowed more and more women to find out about the monthly meet ups. I started working with businesses (as many local as I could) to offer door prizes at every event.

As I ran the meet ups and continued with the BBG program, I made some amazing friends, both locally and internationally. I went to LA to meet up with one of these friends I had never met, as well as a couple of my local friends, to attend Kayla’s LA Sweat Tour and was able to connect with even more people I had only interacted with online. While that trip was amazing, I think it is where I started to notice a shift. Some of the BBG “stars” if you will were also in LA. I won’t mention names, but for people who portray themselves online as open, accepting, and positive, well they sure weren’t in person. I have never claimed, or ever will, to be anything different than I am, and while I am not a “popular” account, witnessing others dismiss you because they view themselves upon a pedestal was an eye opener. It’s always interesting meeting people in person, when they aren’t behind someone’s phone screen with their carefully crafted captions and methodical pictures. Some people are exactly who you envision; others are the polar opposite.

A Shift in the Online BBG Community

It was after this trip I started to notice a shift. This exact shift has been quite the topic of conversation on social media lately, but it isn’t something only one person has experienced. I’ve lived it, and so have so many others. I know first-hand several women who agree with me on this stance. The shift is hard to explain, but I think it’s best described as one of competitiveness: who has the most collaborations, who has the best-looking photos, who writes a caption that inspires the most people, and inevitably, who can get their transformation reposted by Kayla herself. I’ll be transparent here, I used to want that repost too – that validation that all my hard work was recognized. When she did repost my progress, I was like “Woah that’s cool.”, but it wasn’t that “OH MY GOD, MY LIFE IS CHANGED!” feeling I used to think I wanted – that affirmation that my hard work was worth it. Guess what – I didn’t need someone I didn’t even know to notice me to know that it was worth it. I already felt that within.

Workout Boredom

The first two rounds of BBG worked for me – it’s a great starting program and I will never deny that. As a person grows stronger and more able to challenge themselves though, the BBG program becomes stale and boring. For some people it is a long-term program, but for me it is not. After 4 rounds (BBG 1 twice, and BBG 2 twice) I had intended to stop following the program and try something new. That changed, and while I regret the decision to stop the new program I was following, it was something I did for the Calgary community, which I will talk about next.

A Shift in the Local BBG Community

The shift I sensed in the community when I went to the LA Sweat Tour was also present in the YYC BBG Meet Ups. What was once an environment of support, encouragement and no judgement started to change too. The meet ups stopped being something I enjoyed running, and became a part-time job that I began to dread. People started to expect a lot from me and didn’t seem to realize that running these events took time, money, and WORK. I did all of this myself, spending around 20+ hours a week of planning, organizing, emailing, and staying on top of the Facebook account I created, responding to questions, encouraging the women as well as trying to stay on top of all the local women’s fitness Instagram accounts so that I could be a proper leader and remain involved in their lives. More women starting attending, participating in the Facebook group, and I felt obligated to follow every local Instagram account. It was exhausting, so I decided to start running meet ups quarterly instead of monthly. I never asked for help – I took on this role and these events on my own, knowing their potential to grow, and never took any compensation for my time. All and any money that was earned in surplus of what was needed to cover the costs of bookings were donated directly back to the not-for-profit facility I used to host these events. Earning money was never the reason I started these events – it was to create a community for women where they could feel safe, supported, and empowered.

Working with the Sweat Team: 12-Week Challenge

In November, Kayla’s very own Sweat Team reached out to me about the next 12 week challenge, beginning in January 2017, which would focus on the BBG community and meet ups themselves. They asked if I would be interested in having the YYC BBG Meet Up in March be part of the 12 Week Challenge to represent Canada. They would be providing tank tops to everyone who attended, products to be given away, and (what was a relief for me), support. This would be so huge for the community in Calgary and for the Canadian communities as a whole. I obviously said yes. I also started an accountability group for this challenge for Calgary and area girls, where I would do daily check-ins with everyone, provide the weekly workout requirements, and provide any tips and tricks I could think of. This provided a space for these women to ask questions, support each other, and ideally complete the full 12 weeks. I chose to also do BBG again in order to facilitate this group, as well as feeling semi-obligated to follow the program since my meet up was part of it.

Fending for Myself

I have never, ever, been more stressed about a meet up than the one on March 12. The promise of a tank top for everyone fell through (whether it was a misunderstanding or not, I still don’t know) – I was in fact only being sent 30 in total. This caused so many issues – I have never gotten so many angry emails in my life once I explained to people that there were only 30 tanks total. I deal with conflict on a daily basis, but when people assumed I was making these choices to put them out, well that was a little hard to handle. Working with the Sweat Team was very stressful and disconcerting for me. I would go days at a time without any correspondence when I had sent time-sensitive and important questions, which caused me a lot of concern. When I sent out an email with questions I had (because I was being asked them), I didn’t get a single response for two weeks – that was extremely frustrating. When I ran the meet ups myself, at least I could provide the answers. While I understand the time difference can create an issue, I work in finance for a multinational corporation and the time difference has never been this much of an issue for us. I was sincerely under the impression that the tank tops were being sent for everyone, so that’s what I said, and when that changed, I was the one who got the blame.

Lack of Engagement Support

I was also very frustrated at the lack of advertising on the Sweat Team’s end. If they had properly communicated that the focus was on the communities and made people aware of where those 12 meet ups were going to be held, the communities would have gotten more attention and support as they all came together. Instead, as per my usual meet ups, the advertising fell on my own account, which doesn’t have the same type of reach as theirs.

Poor Delivery on Promises

I wasn’t sure the swag that was promised was even going to make it on time. People kept saying to me, “Well, I didn’t get a tank top, so I assume I will get swag to keep things fair.” I was a little overwhelmed, to say the least. The products arrived a mere three days before the meet up due to customs complications. I was extra stressed – if people were upset about not getting a simple tank top, the lack of products was sure to send them over the top. Thankfully they DID arrive, and I made sure allocation was fair (with no help from the Sweat Team). Of course some people were still disappointed, which of course was directed at me.

The Unfortunate Aftermath

I stopped feeling like the meet ups were a safe space. I felt the competitiveness infiltrating the meet ups, the judging eyes, the “I have more followers than you” vibe – all things I never wanted to be a part of my life, or part of the community I had worked so hard to create. I appreciate all the people who follow me, and I hope that one day something I say can give them a little bit of encouragement or support when they need it, but I don’t post to gain followers. I post for me, to track my progress, to document my journey, and honestly to find like-minded people and create lasting friendships. I don’t want followers for the sake of a number; I want connections.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

A week before Kayla’s NYC BBG Meet Up, I received an email from the Sweat Team inviting me to attend. Knowing that others were being offered flights and accommodations, I asked if this was something that would be covered for me. I was told no, and this felt like a slap in the face. I highly doubt that was their intentions, but that is how it felt to me in that moment. While I never asked for anything in return, to be asked to attend an event, and then told I had to pay for it anyways, after everything I had done for them on my own time and with my own money – it hurt. I’ve since spoken to the team to express my concerns and I hope that things will begin to turn around.

It was due to this shift, the loss of enjoyment, and this experience that I made the decision to stop running the YYC BBG Meet Ups. The lack of support for event planning, communication, and consideration for me as a person was more than enough reason for me to stop. This came on the heels of my decision to stop following the BBG program entirely.

BBG Long Term: Not Sustainable

For that 5th set of 12 weeks, I dreaded every single workout. I didn’t enjoy the movements or the workouts, and I didn’t feel challenged. My body did not change at all in those 12 weeks, and I just started to hate the gym again. Again, this is a great program when you start, but plateau is inevitable. I know dozens of girls personally who experienced injuries, just like I developed a knee issue due to the high amount of plyometric movements. This program is amazing for women who want to lose weight and tone up, but not so much for muscle growth. It is heavily cardio intensive, focusing on HIIT style workouts, LISS, and HIIT within the program. It is also a 5-6 day workout program per week, and for many this leads to burnout and exhaustion, and ultimately injuries. Many girls also develop the feeling that they have to continue to maintain 5-6 cardio workouts a week in order to maintain their progress, make further changes, and begin to feel poorly about themselves if they do any less, when in reality, rest is just as important as exercise!

There has been absolutely no progress in the variety of the workouts, other than being able to continue the weeks through use of the app. What started as a grass-roots organization that empowered women and taught them that working out doesn’t have to be an embarrassing ordeal, but can be done with just body weight and the encouragement of your BBG sisters, has become stale after “X” amount of cycles. It needs to be progressed past just body weight and updated faster than once every year and a half (i.e. the app, which is still the same thing, just continuous). Once women stop seeing results, the workout becomes boring and tedious, which leads to less time being active. When you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you inevitably stop doing it.

Find What You Love

So many people ask if they should just keep doing BBG, and my response is always: does it make you happy? THAT is what you should ask yourself in any program you follow, business, career, life, etc. If it doesn’t make you happy, why are you doing it? You are never obligated to only follow one thing for the rest of your life – so why should you? Being featured by Kayla isn’t the only way to recognize your hard work – look in the MIRROR. Be proud of your commitments, your drive, and of who you are. It isn’t the program that works; YOU work.

What works for some will not work for others. Some people are paid to post products on Instagram, are featured by Kayla regularly, and while that may seem great, do not compare yourself to others. Fitness shouldn’t be about Instagram fame – in all honesty, very few will achieve that level of success. Do not define yourself by the success of others. Define yourself by your own achievements.

So there you have it. I am now a #bbgquitter and I’ve broken up with Kayla. Maybe we will get back together some day, but for now, I am leaving the negativity behind me.

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