Monday, December 15, 2014

PiYo: A Review of the 60 Day-Program

On September 15th, I restarted the PiYo Beachbody Workout program plus Shakeology after quitting after just a few days in July due to a hamstring injury (this was related to a fall and not to working out.

A few weeks ago, I completed the 60-day program plus Shakeology.  Here are my thoughts on the program as well as my results.


Piyo is a fusion of pilates and yoga.  You move through the poses quickly to achieve a great cardio workout while using your own body weight to build strength.  As seen with yoga, you will also improve your flexibility and your balance.

A PiYo Challenge Pack includes:

  • 9 different workouts - these workouts range are typically 20-30 minutes long
  • A meal guide with recipes
  • 30-day supply of Shakeology-vegan and regular flavors, a nutrient dense meal
  • Access to a small Challenge group on Facebook that includes support, health tips, recipes, and accountability

What you will need: enough space to take a large step to each side-about the length of a coffee table.  A yoga mat is optional, but I prefer to use a super think 3/4-inch non-skid mat that I bought off Amazon.


I know that some of these moves look difficult, but do not think that PiYo isn't for you!  When I started, I was a bit intimidated until I watched the introductory workout.  Chalene Johnson, the instructor goes through each movement teaching correct alignment.

Truth: I am only able to do the PiYo Flip on this side only.

PiYo is ideal for any age group and for any fitness level.  I have customers in their 60s.  I have people who have never workout before and people who have been killing it with Insanity and P90X. If you have never done yoga or pilates, that is okay.  There are modifiers that you can follow until you can move on to the regular and even more advanced moves.

Prior to PiYo, I could barely hold an unmodified version of side plank.

PiYo is also great for people who already practice yoga and pilates.  Chalene Johnson demonstrates how to make the movements more advanced.  Remember that this is a fusion of the two and you will get a very different workout than if you did yoga or pilates alone.

You work all major muscle groups with this one move. 

Joint Injuries and Arthritits
I was really worried about my ability to do this program, but I needed something that was low impact for my arthritis.  As many of you know, I have two herniated discs in my lumbar spine, spinal and hip arthritis, and sciatica.  I have tried several treatments and believe it or not, each of my doctors recommend core strengthening exercises.  PiYo will indeed give you super strong abs of steel!

With the arthritis, I made sure to modify some of the poses to prevent hyperextension of my back.  A few of the modifications that I make are shown below.

As will all of my workout programs, I drink my all-natural Shakeology for breakfast or for a post-workout meal.  Occasionally, I'll have a second one for dessert because it is that good and I have lots of late-night comfort eating issues.  Knowing that I am feeding my body with essential vitamins and minerals, Omega 3 fatty-acids, phytonutrients, proteins, fats, and complex carbs contributes to my ability to workout each day.

I love all of the different recipes for Shakeology.
It is like having a different breakfast every morning:
Thin Mint, Chunky Monkey, Mocha Dream, Salted-Caramel, Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. ..


I lost 5.5 lbs bringing my 7-month weight loss to a total of 26 lb. I also lost a total of 5.5 inches (my body seems to like the number 5.5) from a combination of my chest, waist, hips, arms, and legs.

My arms, abs, upper back, and legs are now very strong and toned!  I really started to see muscle definition around week 2 and continued to firm up throughout the whole program.

My endurance, strength and flexibility are better than when I was a dancer during high school.  I never ever thought I would get that flexibility back.

Joint pain: this is amazing!  Of all the things that I had tried--steroid shots, physical therapy, ice/heat, medication, and TENS unit, the one thing that has helped my back and hip the most was/is PiYo.  The Lower Fix and Sweat are my go-to workouts now when my back is bad.  It is amazing how all of that medical intervention couldn't bring me what PiYo could!

Hamstring Injury:  My hamstring had slightly atrophied from the injury and my strength was shot.  My flexibility, nonexistent.  After the 60-day PiYo program, my hamstring is much stronger and I have gotten some of my flexibility back.  I don't think I will even have full range of motion back, but I did get most of it!

So many ways to stretch, sculpt, and build leg and butt muscles


If you are looking for something that is high impact like Insanity or T25, this is not it.  This is low-impact.  It is about as low impact as you can get.  Some of the workouts seem to be more strength and flexibility oriented than cardio.  I would say that of the 9 workouts, about 4 of them are cardio which was something I didn't really expect.  All of the workouts get your heart rate up, but those 4 are truly, full on, cardio.

Working on those abs of steel!

Since I had done yoga before, I thought that the Lower Define was easy.  The rest were challenging so don't be fooled by that Lower Define!  As I was doing Upper Define and Sweat, I thought they weren't too hard, until the next day.  You do use muscles that you never thought you had and those muscles will be toned.

You will only get out of it what you put into.  In any workout program, you have to push yourself!  That also includes keeping your eating in check which is why I like the meal guide that comes with the PiYo and of course my Shakeology.  You do need to do your workouts 4-6 x a week (the program guide calls for 6 days a week, but I like to take more rest days) to really get the results.

Even my daughter enjoys PiYo.
Every morning she rolls out the mat and practices
her own version of the moves.


To learn more about PiYo or any other Beachbody workout program or if are interested in a FREE coach who will help you develop goals and work through your struggles, you can contact me at:

To learn more about my monthly fitness challenges, the free accountability group, health tips, and meal and Shakeology recipes, visit Anna Theurer Fitness & Well-Being Facebook page.

To read my thoughts on Shakeology, check out my Shakeology Review blog post or contact me at the email address above to learn more or get the ingredient list.
(pssst, did you know that Ellie likes her chocolate shakeology with peanut butter and bananas?)

Check out my coaching buddy, Sonomi!  

My next Challenge Group will start just after the New Year on January 5, 2015.  A perfect beginning to the New Year and a perfect way to knock out those New Year's resolutions!  If interested, be sure to contact me so that I can answer your questions and get you all set up for the Challenge as with the delayed mail due to the Holidays, you will want to order soon to get your program in time.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sleep Deprived

"Just imagine how much she could learn if she got this amount of sleep each day." These are the words that I hear from Ellie's teachers, therapists, and from my own lips.

All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the early morning.

It breaks my heart when I see my daughter struggle.  She is very clever and determined and wants to learn.  Yes, she has ADHD that is mostly managed by Tenex and Adderall.  The stuff really works. . . provided she has enough sleep.  She is not getting enough sleep most days of the week.

Like adults without enough sleep, kids are cranky and irritable. However, the biggest differences which are the most detrimental to my daughter's functioning at school and in home are:

Sleep deprivation breeds sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation leads to increased impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention.  

All of which are signs of ADHD.  In fact, on days that Ellie does not get at least 8 hours of sleep, it is as though she didn't get any of her ADHD medications.  Actually, it is worse because she is so agitated.  There are meltdowns at home and at school.  Running away from the teacher.  Unable to sit still and well, just sit in general.  Grabby of other kid's clothes and food.  Essentially, my daughter cannot function.  At all.

Actually, I am unable to function!  I am exhausted and forgetful.  Some days, I feel as though I am losing my mind--like when I left the new camera at the restaurant or when I couldn't find the scissors which I apparently put in the drawer with the measuring cups.   I am just want to crawl back in a hole and lay in the fetal position.  Sadly, I cannot do that no matter how much my sleep deprived brain and body beckon me to.

This would be me on most mornings!

Summary of Ellie's sleep patterns:

Actually, there is no pattern.  Two to 4 times a week, Ellie wakes up really early and typically does not fall back asleep.  By early, I mean waking up for the day sometime between 12:30am-3:30am.  It can happened 2 days in a row, or every other day, or 2-3 days between episodes.  It happens on school days, weekends, and vacation days.  This all happens even with a good bedtime routine, white noise, blackout curtains, and a consistent, regular bedtime.  Her sleep issues are only related to waking up ridiculously early and do not involve falling asleep.  She is happy and she plays, in the dark, with her blankie, books, and stuffed princess dolls that she is allowed to have in her bedroom.

Ellie wanting to be carried into the house after
getting off the bus.

Here is what has happened in the last 1.5 months since my last sleep post:

As per the Neurologists orders, we gave Ellie 3mg of melatonin before bed each night.  This dropped Ellie's early morning wakings from 3 x week to just once a week.  This only lasted for 2 weeks. Maybe it was a fluke or many she just built up tolerance that quickly because after those 2 weeks, she returned to waking up at 2:30am at 3 times a week.

We then bumped up the melatonin to 6mg.  We gave this some time and sadly, did not see any difference.  At all.  I was really hopeful that the 6mg of melatonin would do the trick.

As we waited to hear back from Neuro (seriously, it takes days to hear back from this office), Ellie developed a new talent--turning on her bedroom light.  The first time it happened, I just assumed that in my sleep-addled state,  I forgot to turn the light off when I checked in on her.  By the 3rd night, we caught Ellie reaching for the light switch by standing on her pillow.  At that point, we started to turn off her light via the fan chain.  Unfortunately, she witnessed this and started to build a mini-tower out of pillows and stuffed princess dolls on her bed to pull the fan chain herself.  Andrew remedied this right away by removing most of the chain so that just 1.5 inches is left hanging.  Do you know what this means?  Now I have to climb on top of the bed to turn Ellie's light on and off.

Taking a short rest during dance class

After not hearing from neurology for several days, I got a text from CVS stating that "Ellie's prescription is ready for pick-up".  I mistakenly assumed that it was the auto-refill on her Tenex.  As it turns out, Neuro decided to start Ellie on 100mg of Neurontin and then increase it to 200mg after 1 week.  It was in liquid-form.  Ellie does not do liquids.  She does pills.  They would know this if they had talked to me first or even, *gasp* looked in her chart. Still, it would be a small amount of liquid and I figure I could get it into her.  I think it is interesting that I learned Neuro's plan of care through the pharmacist.

Can you believe that 2 month-old Ellie slept better than 5 year-old Ellie?

I would love to tell y'all that the Neurontin was/is awesome, but I cannot.  I have been tracking Ellie's sleep for months now and I could tell no discernible change in her random early morning parties.  They still occurred 2-3 x week and usually with those awakenings anywhere from 12:30am-3:00am.  Occasionally, she would fall back asleep around 4:30/5:30am and sleep for another hour.  One thing that I did notice, was that on some nights, she was taking longer to fall asleep.  It wasn't every night, but it was new.  One night, she didn't fall asleep until 6am!  That when when I put the call into Neurology and proclaimed that "this is not working!".  I spoke with a nurse in great detail about how there are NO changes in her waking up, but that I am concerned the Neurontin is affecting her ability to fall asleep.  I hear nothing . . . for almost a week.  During the course of that week, I was weaning Ellie off the Neurontin.

This is the "I am so tired that I will have a meltdown in just a minute" look.

In the meantime, Ellie had a follow-up with ENT.  Just a routine thing, but I mentioned The Chunky Chicken's sleep issues with Dr. Z. I got an immediate referral to a pediatric sleep specialist. Ellie's appointment isn't until mid-January, but it is better than nothing.  While I do believe that most of Ellie's sleep issues stem from her ADHD brain activity, it would be good to rule-out other issues such as sleep apnea, seizures, and all sorts of other things that can contribute to insomnia and early wakings.

At the advice of a few friends, we are also looking into Ellie's diet to see if there are trigger foods, considering the addition magnesium supplements, and also researching essential oils.

I wish I felt this chipper in the morning.  

Of course, the day before I plan to completely discontinue the Neurontin, I hear from the neurology nurse.  We are to increase the Neurontin to 300mg x 3 days with a final increase to 400mg.  Um, right.  I said "even though it may be causing her difficulty to fall asleep too?".  As usual, Neuro brushes off my worries and acts like I am making stuff up or "don't understand".  I find it very annoying seeing as Ellie is being treated for ADHD by a pediatric NP and I used to work as a pediatric NP who also managed kiddos with ADHD.  Of course, I have no idea what I am talking about!

The good news is: I got the 400 mg in capsule form.


Going Batty In Austin

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dance Fashion According to Ellie Bear

I know that I mentioned back in October that the Ellie Fashion Series was going to be a monthly occurrence and then I managed to miss November.   I think that I need a continuous IV drip of coffee. Although, I love the taste of coffee so maybe I need a keg of Dunkin Donuts/Green Mountain?

Moving on! Ellie continues to entertain me and many of her followers on Facebook with her fashion ideas.  So it only makes sense that it carries over to her dance attire.

Behold the Ellie Bear headband-legwarmer-cowgirl boots costume!

Red cowgirl boots go with everything!

She really really really likes to jump.

I have no idea what she is so excited about in this picture, but doesn't she look adorable?
Seriously?  Who taught her to put her hand on her hips?!

Presenting: Ellie's Dance Fashion Sense over the years.
Add caption

Let us not forget her big television debut.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Updates: GI and Liver, Back Arthritic Pain

It feel like it has been a while since I wrote a good update on everything that has been going on in the Theurer household. Believe it or not, the reason it has taken me so long is because things are going well and the worry is mostly gone.

Contrary to what it looks like, Ellie is not picking my nose!


In October, Ellie got moved from twice monthly appointments with the Gastroenterologist, to once every 3 months!  At the last visit, we reviewed all of Ellie's lab work-thyroid panel, metabolic panel, celiac screen, CBC, lead, vitamin D, and a bunch of IgA stuff.  All of which was thankfully normal!  However, she had continued to lose weight.  I requested an Upper GI in hopes of officially ruling out celiac disease, which is something that is more common in people with Down syndrome.  The blood tests can come back as false negatives or false positives repeatedly so the upper GI is the gold-standard for a definitive diagnosis.  The GI doc agreed that if she is still losing weight in 3 months, he would do the Upper GI.

The Good News:

Bear started to eat!  A LOT!  Like 2 croissants, a cup of raspberries, and a zone bar in one sitting.  She has even eaten breakfast a few times.  We still have days where she may not eat more than 200 calories, but they are few and far between.  I am going to have my Chunky Chicken back!

We seem to have a successful bowel regimen for Ellie.  We are continuing with the Miralax and are administering senna for 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off.  Senna is a stimulant laxative, as opposed to osmotic, so the bowel can become dependent on it.  This is why we do not do it everyday.  I was really worried that a full 2 weeks on would trigger dependence, but she seems to do fine on the off weeks.

Liver Scare:
Just when things seem to be going along fine, Ellie freaks us out.  For 3 weeks, Ellie's stools were super pale.  Think flesh-colored.  Clay-colored and white stools can indicate a problem with your bile duct or production of bilirubin.  Bile is used to break down fats and gives stool its brown color.  A liver or gallbladder problem can present as pale or white stools.  After a full on liver panel and an abdominal ultrasound, we learned that Ellie has abnormally small, but normal formed kidneys.  Her blood work came back normal and her liver, spleen, gallbladder, and pancreas were normal!

We do not know why her stools were they way they were, but I am positively relieved that she doesn't have any liver problems!


Back in July, I managed to tear my hamstring and obturator externus by falling a whopping 6-inches to the ground.  I was on crutches for about 3 weeks and in some serious pain.  My back pain, which had been improving, took on a downward spiral after this injury.  I felt like I was back to baseline, but this time with the posterior of my thigh and groin on fire.  My Dr. K had me do a trial of Neurontin to help with nerve pain.  Let's just say that it really does help with nerve pain, but it can also headaches, fatigue, and dizziness.  I found myself with an incapacitating headache and nearly passing out.  I tried to push through and see if the side effects would subside, but they did not. Needless to say, Neurontin was not a good fit for me.

It was finally determined by my physical rehab doc that I would need a 2nd opinion (good thing I already had one lined up!).  There was pretty much nothing more that he could do (already tried pain management, TENS unit, PT, steroid shots, chiropractic care which made it worse).  As a farewell gift, he placed a steroid shot into my right sacroiliac joint and another into my ischeal tuberosity bursa--think the top part of the hamstring near your butt.

Miracles do occur!  I was told that the SI shot would probably do nothing as only 1-3% of people with back pain have it stem from their SI joint.  Um, he was wrong.  I had searing nerve pain all the way down to my toes when he injected the steroids.  To me, this means it worked.  My pain improved in a matter of 5 days.  My bursa shot freaking cured my hamstring immediately.  I could walk!  I have lost a lot of hamstring strength and flexibility and I am struggling to regain it. Honestly, I wonder if my hamstring will ever be back to where it was before my fall.

A few weeks later, I met with Dr. S, a neurosurgeon.  He reviewed my MRI and said he saw the following:

Compressed discs with herniation into the spinal column L4-L5 and L5-S1
Connective tissue tears in the disc L4-S1
Bony deformities and enlargement of the lumbar facets joints L3-S1 (aka facet hypertrophy)
Minor nerve impingement due to the enlarged facet joints decreasing space for nerve movement.

At this point, I do not need surgery.  Whoooohoooooo! Actually, for my issues, there isn't any type of surgery that would help me.  I sort of figured this and I didn't think my pain and activity limitations were severe enough for surgery anyway.  If I start to have significant nerve problems, he can file down my facet joints.  Oh fun. He also told me that I will always  have pain and it will get worse as I age. He is just full of sunshine and rainbows!  Dr. S did say that since the herniations are acute injuries, the pain from that will subside in a few months.  Until then, I am to build up my core muscles through pilates.  Good thing I have been doing PiYo.  Abs of steel, baby.

My favorite stretch for my hip flexors

I just completed the 60 days of PiYo which is a combination of pilates and yoga.  The Lower Define workout really helps my back and hip.  The Warrior poses and Pigeon bring the most relief.  I am able to sit for longer periods.  For the last month, I have been able to drive Ellie to her horse therapy and dance class without excruciating pain.  I am very functional most of the day, but then I am pretty sore by the evening.  At night, I have a hard time sleeping.  Still, I am much happier, stronger, and less depressed.

Addendum: November 18, 2014
I think I jinxed it all by writing this post.

For the past few days, my back has not been all that great.  I am super stiff in the morning.  As the day goes on, it starts to hurt so that by bedtime, I have trouble sleeping due to pain.  It is not unbearable, but it is enough that I put a call into my Physical Rehab doc.  I imagine it will be several days before I hear back.  Until then, I am having lots of intimate relations with my ice pack.

Most likely because Ellie is eating again, she is all backed up.  We double her Miralax dose at the end of last week.  Exciting news: the last two days, Ellie requested to sit on the potty!
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