I am so excited that you are joining us in the program and I hope you are too!
The first week of the Program is Prep Week.
Prep Week is not the start of the actual fitness and nutrition program. This will begin 7 days from the first day of prep week on either Sunday or Monday, depending on which day you consider the first day of your week. Prep week is worked into the program for you to gradually review all the information given to you. You have a whole week to prepare for the start of the program so please take advantage of this week.
I feel that it is beneficial for you to have enough time prepare, review the workouts, get grocery lists ready, and get meals prepped for your first week. This will allow for a more smooth transition and, more importantly, the right mindset. This will also allows more time to have your questions answered, if any arise.
I am aware that I give a lot of information. I do not do this to overwhelm you, I do this for a reason. I do this so that you learn why you will be using these techniques, and why they work. This better understanding of why these techniques work will help you with long term success after you have reached your goal, whatever it may be.
***NOTE- if you have not completed all the tasks on the welcome page, please go back and complete these. If you do not do these tasks first, you will not have the information needed for prep week.
You can complete these prep week tasks, on this page, at your own speed. You may work ahead or do more tasks at once if you cannot follow the actual tasks on each day of prep week. Just be sure to complete all of the tasks prior to day 1 of the fitness and nutrition program (which actually begins one week after prep week).
Prep Week Day 1
Measurements, Weight, and Pictures
Take your before pictures. In a bathing suit or sports bra and shorts for the ladies and just shorts for the gents. It might be easier if you have someone else take these for you. If this is not an option, you can do this yourself in a mirror (preferably a full length mirror). You do not need to submit these pictures but you do need to take them! This is one of the best ways to measure progress!
Full body front view with your arms down
Full body back view with your arms down
Full body side view with your arms straight out in front of you
Preferably first thing in the morning, get your starting weight. Then, DO NOT weigh yourself again until the end of the program!
A healthy rate of weight loss is only 1-3 lbs per week (for those who have a lot to lose). Also, your body can fluctuate 5 lbs during the course of 24 hours. Our focus is to build a lean, healthy body not a body that weighs less.
Your weight is only a small measure of success NOT the only measure of success!! Your pictures, the way your clothes fit, and your measurements mean MORE than the number on the scale. I cannot tell you how many people email me half-way through the program expressing their frustration when they have not lost a lot of weight. Then, at the end of the program they have maybe only lost 5 lbs but they have lost 13 inches off their body! Would you prefer a body that looks lean and tone or a body that looks larger that weighs less on the scale? Lean and tone!!
Using a tape measure, follow the instructions given on the measurement guide to obtain your measurements.
It is easiest for you to have someone else help you obtain your measurements. However you can take your own measurements, it might take you a little more time.
You can buy a fabric tape measure in any store that has a sewing/craft section, and some grocery stores in the aisle that has the miscellaneous stuff like light bulbs and screwdrivers. You can also purchase this tape measure from amazon. This one is makes it easier to measure yourself on your own.
After you have taken all your measurements you must submit them to me by clicking on the link below. You will also need to submit your calorie goal that you set up in the My Fitness Pal App previously.
Prep Week Day 2
My Fitness Pal
You have already obtained your calorie goal in the My Fitness Pal app, and you have your designated nutrition plan. This was emailed to you by me after you filled out your client assessment. If you have not done this, you will need to go back and complete all tasks on the program welcome page before proceeding.
You will also need to download this nutrition guide and have this handy to get the rest of your settings in My Fitness Pal. You can view this as a PDF or feel free to print this or any materials you would like. Do not worry about the entire guide right now, just look at the pages indicated below to get your macro goals set in the App.
This is a customized program. Everyone is doing something different. Please focus on the plan you have been given and disregard any questions or references to other levels.
You have been assigned to one of these plans:
Custom Macros- I have given you percentages via email
The Low Carb Plan- Percentages on Page 11 of the Nutrition Guide
The Carb-Cycling Plan-Percentages on Page 10 of the Nutrition Guide
Watch the video below to learn how to put in these percentages and how to change them. This video will also demonstrate how to navigate My Fitness Pal. Have pen and piece of paper handy to write YOUR custom goals down. Write your “Carbs, Protein, and Fat” percentages with the corresponding grams you will need to eat daily. Make a quick note in your phone of these goals, take a screenshot, or post this on your fridge so you can have these handy at all times.
NOTE- These are mentioned in the video but I will mention these things again:
You DO NOT need to pay for the premium version of My Fitness Pal. I have never used it but I have some clients that really like it. This is up to you.
DO NOT log in your activity or your workouts into My Fitness Pal
You may log in your water consumption if you would like but don’t have to do this. Just be sure you are getting enough water.
You ONLY use the percentages to obtain your grams of carbs, protein, and fats. You DO NOT use these percentages to track your progress. You are keeping track of the grams you are eating on the “Nutrients” page demonstrated in the video above.
For accountability in this program, you will take a screenshot of the “Nutrients” page demonstrated in the video above and upload this on the Facebook page. There will a daily post with that date and you will upload this screenshot in the comments of that day’s post. You may turn off notifications for comments on this post so you don’t get notifications each time someone uploads their macros for that day.
If you are not on Facebook, you may email me this screenshot.
How often you post your nutrition is up to you. I encourage for you to do this daily to stay accountable. If I do not hear from you, I assume no news is good news and that you are doing well on your own.
I check these within 24 hours. I am not looking for perfection. I know you will not hit these goals on the dot. You can see your numbers and you know if you hit your goals. I won’t point this out to you each time you post. I will give you encouragement and if you have any specific questions I will answer them. If I think something is off, I will double check with you on this. The goal is accountability. You will have good days and bad days… that is life! If you have a bad day, we move on to the next day.
Prep Week Day 3
Take some time and review the nutrition guide which was provided on day 2. You will have time to practice your meals on day 3 of prep week. For now, get familiar with what is available to you. This is where your nutrition guide comes in handy. In this guide you have access to approved foods, food to avoid, meal planning tips, a weekly planner with examples, a full week example of with a grocery list, food substitutions, and Macro Cheat Sheets.
I have a few of these in separate guides as well…
You have access to a recipe library with a ton of recipes in your portal that give you guidance on which days are best to use them. These recipes are not 100% perfect for the program. I do this to provide you with realistic examples so you can modify these to your needs. For example, some recipes contain cheese. I recommend to avoid dairy so simply omit the cheese. Some recipes call for noodles which can easily substituted by chickpea noodles, egg noodles, or edamame noodles.
On my recommendations page there are a few local Indy meal services that I like to use. If you are not local to Indy you may have something similar near you. These types of companies are good to be aware of when you are in a pinch. You may not have time every single week to meal prep when you typically do. These types of meal prep or prepared meal companies offer a great alternative. I typically have some freezer meals on hand at all times in case I only have a few minutes to make something. This prevents the temptation to grab something else quick and easy, which usually is not the best choice.
I typically get a lot of questions about NET Carbs.
Not all of you will be paying attention to NET Carbs. If you are in the custom macro plan, you are not looking at NET Carbs but you have been given a fiber goal to hit every day. It is good to understand why we are looking at fiber and NET carbs.
My Fitness Pal does not show NET Carbs, it only shows “carbohydrates” which is all your carbohydrates including sugar and fiber. Sugar, fiber, and some others are all carbohydrates. Fiber is a GOOD carbohydrate, sugar is not as good. So, to differentiate the good from the not so good, we look at NET Carbs.
Total Carbohydrates (all the carbs) SUBTRACTING Fiber = NET Carbs
Your goal is under 50 NET Carbs per day
You eat 75g total carbohydrates AND
You eat 25g of fiber
75g-25g= 50 NET Carbs so you have met your goal!
You eat 100g total carbohydrates
You eat 50g of fiber
100g-50g= 50 NET Carbs, you are still good.
The moral of the story is, the more fiber you eat the more carbs you can eat because these are GOOD Carbs!
Please watch this video which provides answers to the frequently asked questions that I get about nutrition…
Intermittent Fasting does not start until WEEK 3 of the program. If you are already intermittent fasting, you may continue this if you would like. This is to ensure that you are ready and your body is ready to begin this technique. This is covered on the Week 2 Page and Week 3 Page in the Client Portal Website.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. If you have a hard time eating enough in a normal day then shortening the time you can eat will not be a good option for you.
How to know you are ready…
You should be consistently hitting your macro goals most of the time, and you should feel comfortable with hitting your macro goals. If you are not eating enough and hitting your goals in a normal day, then you will not be ready to hit these goals in a shorter period of eating time (6-8 hours).
If you feel that your hunger and energy levels have stabilized. If you feel that you are less hungry during the day and your do not have the energy and hunger fluctuations then you should be ready to start on WEEK 3.
How to intermittent fast…
This will be covered on the Week 2 and Week 3 Pages in the Client Portal website.
If you are breastfeeding, I would like you to contact me if this is something you would like to try. Otherwise, you do not need to contact me to start Intermittent Fasting on Week 3.
For all of you coffee fans, there are so many ways for you to enjoy your coffee now without using dairy products and all the calories and carbs!
Yes, you may drink coffee when fasting (this is covered in Week 2 and Week 3). Once you go over 50 calories, you technically are no longer fasting. If you HAVE to have your coffee with a bit more than 50 calories, then do it. Pick your battles, it’s not going to affect much. Just try to keep your additives healthy. When you are fasting try to keep the calories as low as possible.
There are so many choices out there with so many different brands. You will have to do some experimenting to see what you like best.
Coconut Milk Dairy Free Creamer (So Delicious Brand or others)
Unsweetened Vanilla Cashew Milk
Stevia to sweeten
Cinnamon to flavor
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Dairy Free Nut Pods
1/2 Coconut milk and 1/2 almond Milk Creamer (Better Half brand or others)
Prep Week Day 4
You have been given a recommendation of a fitness plan to start with. This can be adjusted to a more difficult level or less difficult level if you feel this is necessary. Just touch base with me before doing so.
You will be given a home version of workouts and a gym version of workouts at your level. The workouts are given to you in days 1-7. These days can be moved in ANY order that works for you and your schedule. I recommend to avoid two strength days in a row to allow for muscle recovery. The workouts can be done at any time of day that works for you. Just remember to do the recommended stretching, warm-up, and cool-down to prevent injury.
The strength Workouts
You will have 2-3 strength workouts per week depending on your level. You are given a home version and a gym version. The home version only requires a light, medium, and heavy set of dumbbells and a chair or bench (and the optional TRX). You may also do the home version of workouts at the gym for more variety. If you would like some recommendations on dumbbells and other products and services, please check out the recommendations page.
The gym version has more variety because there is more equipment in a gym, but they are equally effective.
Keep in mind that if you have not exercised in a long time, take it slow the first few weeks and ease yourself into this fitness program. Give yourself some grace if you cannot complete the entire workout. Just try one set of each exercise at first.
If something bothers you, or you need a modification to any of the workouts, please contact me for assistance.
The length of your workouts depends on the level you have been assigned. I would give yourself 60 minutes initially for each workout. You will be figuring out which weight to use and familiarizing yourself with the different exercises, this will take more time. If you need to omit abs or a few sets of exercises in the workouts because of time, that is fine. I would rather you do as much as you can instead of not doing the workout at all.
Visit the Week 1 Page to view your workouts. If you are not familiar with some of the exercises, you can refer to the exercise library.
The cardio workouts
You will have 2 days of cardio which for most of you, unless you are told otherwise, will be HIIT workouts. These High Intensity Interval Training workouts are much more effective at burning fat and improving your metabolism than steady state cardio. You get a better workout in shorter amount of time. Your HIIT cardio workouts will vary depending on what is convenient for you and the length will depend on your level. This can be ANY activity that gets your heart rate up (elliptical, treadmill, bike, running outside, boxing, swimming, tennis, etc.). These workouts are detailed for you on your workout pages posted in week 1.
You are also provided with pre-choreographed workouts that can be done anywhere (home, hotel room, on a beach).
The exercise Library
This exercise library contains videos of how to do each exercise. The videos usually have a modified version or two of each exercise so be sure to watch the entire video. They are divided into muscle group so you can locate them quickly.
The YouTube Channel
Refine YOU also has a YouTube channel which contains all of the exercise videos for the program. If you join the channel you can simply search the channel for the exercise video. All you have to do is click the search button and type in the exercise and it will bring the video up for you.
Print out the workout sheets for the first week. As you are looking through the exercises ahead of time, put a star next to the ones you are not familiar with. Then visit the exercise library to head to the YouTube channel to watch the video on how to perform the exercise and make a small note next to it to remind yourself how to do the exercise. This will save you time on your first workout day so that you are not looking up every single exercise. I would also bring this with you and write down the weight you use for each exercise.
Once you are comfortable with the workouts, I find that it is helpful to view the workout and take a screenshot of the workout on my phone. Then, when it is time for your workout, all you need to do is pull it up in your photos.
If you have certain classes that you enjoy participating in, you may substitute these into the workouts. However, to substitute correctly, I recommend that you follow the workouts that I provide WITHOUT substitution for the first week or two. You will get a feel for how the cardio and strength days feel. You will then know how to substitute in your classes more appropriately.
For your cardio workouts (which include intervals) there is a free app called “seconds.” This allows you to set an interval timer without having to watch the clock. There is a paid version which allows you to save timers and you can customize things a bit more. The free version is fine. If you get the My Zone HR monitor, that app has an interval timer included.
When you are doing your strength workouts, you should be lifting heavy enough that you should not be able to do many more reps than what is required. If you feel you can do 5 more reps, you should increase your weight.
Postpartum/Breastfeeding Client Information
If your core is weak or you have diastasis (separation of the rectus abdominal muscles) from being pregnant, we will need to modify your abs. Instructions on how to check for this...
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
2. Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
3. With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
4. Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch,” making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
5. Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU DON’T SIMPLY PULL YOUR HEAD OFF THE MAT-A COMMON MISTAKE. TO EFFECTIVELY CONTRACT YOUR ABS, YOU NEED TO MOVE YOUR RIB CAGE CLOSER TO YOUR PELVIS. IF YOU DON’T ADEQUATELY ACTIVATE YOUR ABDOMINAL WALL, YOU MIGHT ASSUME THAT YOU HAVE ABDOMINAL SEPARATION. BUT FOR MOST, AS THE RIB CAGE MOVES CLOSER TO THE PELVIS AND THE CONTRACTION DEEPENS, THE WIDTH OF THE GAP AT YOUR MID-LINE WILL DECREASE.
Don’t panic if you feel a “hole” in your belly in the first few postpartum weeks. Everyone’s connective tissue at the mid-line is lax after childbirth. As you recover, your mid-line will slowly regain its former density and elasticity, and the “hole” will become shallower, and if you do the right exercises, more narrow too.
SIGNS OF DIASTASIS RECTI/ABDOMINAL SEPARATION
A gap of more than 2 1/2 finger-widths when the rectus abdominis is fully contracted. The gap does not shrink as you contract your abdominal wall. You can sometimes see a small mound protruding along the length of you mid-line.
If at any time you see a round, hard, or painful bulge protruding from your belly button area, or along your mid line, consult with your OBGYN
If you have diastasis recti, do not do the abdominal workouts on the regular workout sheets. You must do the diastasis abdominal workout until you have closed the gap. Failure to do this will result in the permanent mama pooch no matter how trim you are.
Heart Rate Monitoring
The focus of The Refine YOU Program’s workouts is to get enough to give us results but not too much to cause stress to our bodies and hormones. One way to be sure you are staying on track is by monitoring your heart rate, especially during cardio workouts. This is NOT required for the program. If you are more advanced and/or already have a heart rate monitor, you might as well put it to good use. Below is a guide to monitoring your heart rate if you choose to do so.
You may also gauge how hard you are working by how you feel. If you are gasping for breath and cannot say more than a few words at a time, you are at higher intensities (anaerobic). If you are doing cardio, sweating, but you are able to speak a sentence, you are doing “aerobic" activity.
Below are a few images showing the heart rate zones and what your heart rate should look like during your cardio workouts.
Prep Week Day 5
Plan Your Week/Practice
This part of the program takes more effort initially. You will not “get it” right away, and you are not expected to. This is a learning process. You are not handed exactly what to eat every day. Everyone has different goals, different tastes, and different food preferences. You will need to learn how to eat the foods YOU like to eat to make them work for YOU.
Additionally, if you are given exactly what to eat every single meal of every day, how are you to learn how to eat on your own? How will you go on vacation, go out to eat, and live life just sticking to the things that someone has told you to eat. That is not realistic or a long term solution. Please keep this in mind as you go through the first couple weeks. You WILL make mistakes and you will learn from these mistakes. That is part of the learning process. This is not a quick fix, it is a jump start to a lifestyle change. Be patient and trust the process.
You may use these blank planner pages to help you plan your week.
Step 1- Look at your schedule for the week. Decide which days will be your workout days and write these down. Remember, there is no specific order you have to do these workouts. Just avoid two strength days in a row.
Step 2- Write down your nutrition for each day of the week. If you are carb-cycling or in the low carb plan, your nutrition will differ depending on your workout of the day. If you have been given only one setting to follow, then your nutrition is the same every day.
Step 3- Choose 1-2 recipes of your own or from the recipe library to prepare. Remember, you can double recipes to give you plenty for leftovers. This will save you time during the week. Write these down on a few of the days that you will eat them. The recipe library is divided into high carb recipes and low-moderate carb day recipes which gives you some guidance on what days would be best. If you are on the low carb plan or custom plan, you should stick to the low-moderate carb day recipes.
Step 4- On one or two of the days you will use a certain recipe, practice filling out the rest of the day’s food. If you would like to practice/plan your entire first week, that would be very helpful. I find that this is typically too overwhelming for most. I would stick to 1-2 days to practice with at first. Login to your My Fitness Pal App and put these foods in for the day. See where you end up. If you are close to your macro goals, great! (You most likely won’t be) Remove some foods and try some others until you get closer (within about 10 grams). This will give you some practice in logging in foods and you will already have 1-2 days planned for next week!
Use the tools that have been provided for you earlier in your nutrition guide and on day 3 of prep week. Here they are again…
Every lunch and dinner NO MATTER WHAT DAY IT IS should include a protein and vegetable. That is your starting point. For those in the Low Carb Plan and The Custom Plan, you are looking at Low-Moderate Carb Days.
Low Carb Days- Stick to the basics. Protein (can be high in fat) and Vegetables. Add some fat sources in your meals like avocado, bacon, nuts in your salads, cook with EVOO. Snacks should be low carb high fat (refer to the cheat sheet) like nuts, jerky, nut butter and veggies etc. Avoid fruit, protein shakes and bars because they are higher in carbs.
Moderate Carb Days-Should be similar to Low Carb Day but you can work in some lower carb fruits for snacks (refer to the fruit cheat sheet) like blueberries. Or, its okay to do some lower carb protein bars or shakes. You may work in a bit more carbs on this day in your snacks or in one of your meals (some fruit in a salad, or some sweet potato with dinner).
High Carb Days- Think of these days as LOW FAT Days. Protein should be LEAN choices. Vegetables can be higher carb choices. Each meal should contain a carb. Add quinoa to your salad, sweet potato with your dinner, brown/black rice, fruit in your salad, etc. Your snacks should be low fat/high carb like fruit, protein smoothies, overnight oats, etc. Avoid nuts, cooking with oils, avocado (any of the higher fat foods that you eat on low carb days).
Prep Week Day 6
Purge your pantry of the things you do not want to be tempted with during the program. If you have kids and you have to keep some snacks, put them toward the back behind other items.
Create your grocery list for the recipes you would like to prepare for next week as well as other food items that you will need.
Here is a list of items I keep in bulk to always have on hand and items that I purchase routinely.
Prep Week Day 7
Put aside about 90 minutes to prepare some meals ahead of time. People always seem to think that meal prep is super complicated and daunting. It really isn't. You don't have to cook a lot of these super elaborate meals that take a lot of time.
I typically will cook ahead of time 1-2 recipes for the week ahead of time, that is it. I just double the recipe if they are meals that my whole family will eat.
For the rest of my food, I prepare what I call “separates.”
I prepare 1-2 grain or carb items (rice, sweet potatoes, etc.)
Bake or cook on the skillet some chicken breasts (I cut them in half to cook them more quickly)
Hard boil some eggs
Brown some ground turkey or beef with a seasoning
Steam 1-2 veggies
Wash and prep fresh fruit and veggies
Pre-measure some nuts in single servings
I will then combine these separates with other items in the fridge or pantry to make multiple different meals using the same foods but in different ways. As long as you have some pre-cooked protein, you are good to go!
For example: If you have pre-cooked chicken breast you can… throw it in a salad, put it in an omelet, put it on some chickpea pasta with some tomato sauce, throw it back in the skillet with some veggies for a stir-fry, add some Mexican rice, guacamole for a fajita dish, etc.
Each week I will give you a mindset goal or task for the week. I encourage you to embrace this aspect of the program. This program should not only be a physical transformation for you.
The Refine YOU Program is a TOTAL TRANSFORMATION. mIND, BODY AND SPIRIT.
Your mindset is actually more important than your customized nutrition and fitness plan. Keeping a positive outlook while going through the program and not getting down on yourself when you make a mistake or have a bad day is KEY in your success. If you mess up, move onto the next meal or the next day and mark it up as a learning experience.
Each week, I will be focusing on different aspects of overall health and giving you a task to focus on for the week. I will also be explaining why these things are important in healthy living. These tasks are things that should be worked into your daily life as part of living a healthy lifestyle.
You are ready!
Day 1 of your fitness/nutrition program will start on Sunday or Monday depending on when you feel your week starts.
Remember, Progress NOT Perfection.
In this first week there are a lot of adjustments. You will make some mistakes and you will not feel comfortable yet. You are NOT allowed to quit. I do not expect you to “get it” right away. This is a jump start to a lifestyle change and to learn how to make this last, it will take some time and patience.
There is no magic shake, there is no magic pill. If there was, no one would have a problem and someone would be a billionaire.
You have made the right choice to learn how to take control of your health and learn the techniques to implement that will last you as long as you want.
Be patient, and ask questions, that is what I am here for.