HOT SUMMER KNOW-HOW #502 05/23/12
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Tiny Cloth Triangles of Terror: 8 Ways to Prepare for Bikini Season

By Stephanie Saunders

Nothing is quite as intimidating as bikini season. For many women, the idea of baring all in public is second only to a root canal. Sure, you're on your third round of a P90X® and INSANITY® hybrid, you haven't even been downwind of a pint of Ben & Jerry's® in 8 months, and you have a stomach Gordon Ramsey could chop tomatoes on. Still, the idea of showing off your hard work can be terrifying. Problem is, you can't avoid summer. Sure, you could opt to spend 3 months inside, watching CSI marathons, but that's not living! Instead, let's get strategic. Here are 8 easy steps to get ready for bikini season.

Woman Lying on the Beach

  1. A suit that suits. Considering they're little more than a $3 swatch of fabric, you'd think that all suits are created equal. A couple of triangles, a rectangle, and some string and you're good to go, right? Not quite. There's a world of choices out there, and everything from color to cut can make a difference in what flatters your body type. This doesn't mean you need to go to a Beverly Hills boutique and spend $400 on a custom suit. But knowing what looks good on you, and accentuates your best assets, can make you feel like you did. There are a hundred style guides out there that claim to know the perfect suit for your body type, but from experience, you'll never know until you see it on yourself. Your best bet is to try on several styles of tops: halter, bandeau, triangle, tankini, push up, and then pair them with different bottoms: low rise, high rise, boy short, Brazilian cut, or skirt, and see which flatters you. Also, look closely at colors against your skin tone. If yellow isn't your color in a sweater, it'll be no better in a swimsuit. If you prefer a pattern, make sure it doesn't detract from the rest of you. In other words, it'll require some trial and error, but the end result will be infinitely better than ordering from a catalog.
  2. Move the focus. If your six-pack isn't quite there, or your hips make you nuts, move the attention elsewhere. If you have long beautiful hair, flaunt it. If your eyes can be seen across a room, sweep on some waterproof mascara. If you're white as an angel and live in sunblock, use a touch of bronzer or a tinted moisturizer. If you have lovely teeth, break out the Crest® strips and start smiling. Just because it's a day at the beach or around the pool doesn't mean you have to pile your hair on top of your head and cover your face in zinc oxide. Take a few minutes to make yourself feel beautiful. Others are more likely to look at your face than they are at the things you're not as happy with. Remember, no one else is as critical of us as us.
  3. Woman ExfoliatingExfoliate. Beautiful skin is essential when you wear an outfit that could fit in a sandwich bag. Human skin has an extraordinary ability to regenerate itself. In the process, dead skin cells can hang out on the outermost layer, making your legs, torso, and arms look dry, dull, and scaly. One of the easiest ways to rectify the situation is to exfoliate. There are a few different ways to go about this. You can buy scrubbies, sponges, and brushes. You can also find more expensive creams and solutions that contain everything from glycolic acid to salt from the Dead Sea. Or you can go into your pantry, and mix up the following: 1/2 cup brown or raw sugar, 1/2 cup almond or coconut oil, 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon vitamin E. Once mixed, slather onto your skin, rinse in the shower, and wait for the compliments. Your skin and your significant other will thank you.
  4. Hair care down there. Since bikinis seem to be decreasing in size, a bit of extra trimming may be necessary. Each woman seems to have her own way of dealing with such matters, but if this is a new topic for you, read on. The easiest and perhaps most economical way to deal with this issue is shaving. The results are short-lived, but it's relatively pain free and doesn't require assistance from anyone else. There are several creams, sanding devices, and wax strip kits that you can find in a drug store, but you have a 50/50 chance whether they'll be effective. Professional waxing is extremely effective, yet rather painful and perhaps inconvenient. The results, however, last 3 to 4 weeks, and might just merit the few moments of ouch. Last but not least, there's laser hair removal, which, if completed a few times, can permanently remove the hair. Usually a facility will administer a numbing cream before you begin, which makes it a pain-free and easy experience. If they don't offer a numbing cream, run in the opposite direction. Laser hair removal can be pretty costly, so make sure you're ready for the dent in your bank account. Oh, the price of beauty in a bikini.
  5. A Tanned WomanThe tan advantage. There is a reason that every "after" picture out there shows the transformed with a touch of color: everybody looks better with a tan. Tanned skin helps show muscle definition, while simultaneously covering up the evils of stretch marks and cellulite. This isn't an excuse to slather yourself in Crisco® and go bake in the sun until you look and smell like a taquito. We all know the dangers of exposure to the sun and to tanning beds. Instead, there's an array of self-tanners, Mystic Tan® machines, and air brushers out there to give you a bit of glow, without fear of skin cancer. Check out what you have access to in your area, and follow the directions accordingly. Nothing kills the look faster than palms the color of a Halloween pumpkin.
  6. Woman's Waist with Measuring TapeAvoid the bloat. There are times when we can't avoid a bit of bloating, especially for women, but at every other time of the month, we do have a choice. Avoiding alcohol can make the difference between a flat tummy and the morning-after belly. Food that's high in sodium, like chips, pretzels, soy sauce, prepackaged soups, and pizza, can make us retain water and never want to take our sarongs off. Eating large portions of food, as opposed to small meals throughout the day, can also make our waistline look bigger. If you're going to strut your stuff down the beach, try eating a bunch of meals consisting of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, no larger than the size of your fist. It's the perfect size for your body to assimilate without overwhelming your stomach.
  7. Tighten up. We know exercise has a cumulative effect. If you could get a Brazil Butt Lift® in a single workout, the program would only last a day. And while it can take weeks to see improvements, there's something to be said for how much better you feel after a workout. You can see more muscle definition once your circulation is going, you get an endorphin high worthy of three Xanax®, and you can sweat out any excess water you're hanging on to. What's more, if you just crushed P90X2® Plyocide, you might walk with a bit more confidence around that pool. After all, who cares if you're not in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition; you just did 60 Jack-in-the-Box knee tucks. So even if you're on vacation, get up and do your workout before you hit the beach.
  8. Nothing is sexier than confidence. When all is said and done, feeling comfortable in your own skin, even if it contains five extra pounds, is the most attractive attribute you can have. And as tough as it is to feel resplendent in a bikini, it is possible. Start by being kind to yourself. When you look in the mirror, look at all of the beautiful things, not the stuff you dislike. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. And remember, it really is just an article of clothing. It isn't the measure of who you are, how beautiful you are, or your self-worth. Don't give that silly little yard of spandex the power. Throw one on, and remember you're perfect as you are, right now. Everything else is just icing.

Related Articles
"7 Colors of the Phytonutrient Rainbow: How Eating a Variety of Colors Can Keep You Healthy"
"10 Tips to Keep Ladies Hot and Healthy"
"Ten 10-Second Stress Busters"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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Booze Bust: Can Exercise and Alcohol Go Hand in Hand?

By Collette DeBenedetto

Summer (aka drinking) season is upon us—sun, fun, barbecues, and brewskis with your broskis. Ah, the good life. But with shirts off, where are you going to hide the burgers and beer? You wouldn't think of telling your buddies that you're passing up the booze to watch your weight because, let's be honest, you were Spring Break King of '93 and you have a reputation to uphold. How do you keep the six-pack, while still having fun? It's all about balance. You don't have to say no to all of the goodies, but you do need to make conscious choices to keep your days healthy. I would not recommend going cold turkey. This is not a "diet" or practice in social suicide; rather, this is a lifestyle change.

People Dancing at the Beach

Evil spirits abound . . .

Just because you're logging hours on the treadmill and embarrassing Arnold in the weight room doesn't mean you can put the cast of Jersey Shore to shame in the bar and not have consequences. One does not cancel the other. There are some major side effects, including packed-on fat, slower recovery, and disrupted sleep, to name a few. It's common knowledge that alcohol is a powerful diuretic and can cause major electrolyte imbalances, which puts you at a much higher risk for musculoskeletal injuries and brain impairment. Other effects include altered reaction time, decreased testosterone levels, and sleep disturbance. Furthermore, alcohol is stored as fat in your body and destroys amino acids. When you've had one too many drinks, your body's glycolysis process becomes impaired. This means your body begins to produce lactic acid, causing a decline in energy, as well as decreased muscle recovery, and increased soreness.

In 2010, the University of Houston created a 3-week experiment on alcohol and exercise using rats. The scientists took a group of alcohol-loving rats and made half of them use running wheels while the other half stayed sedentary. Once the scientists took away the wheels, the active rats drank more alcohol than the sedentary rats. J. Leigh Leasure, PhD, told Fitbie that "it's possible that exercise could cause cross-tolerance to alcohol meaning, it may make alcohol less rewarding, so people would therefore drink more of it in order to get its feel-good effects." So the more curls you tackle in Back & Biceps may just have you wanting more 12 ounce curls on the weekend.

And whatever you do, don't pop a cold one post-exercise. When you work out, your blood sugar naturally drops. After you're finished, your body focuses on replacing your glycogen stores. If you consume alcohol post-workout, your glycogen stores will not be replaced since your body will be busy metabolizing alcohol, causing your blood sugar levels to stay at an unhealthy level. It's important to first replenish with a proper recovery drink post-workout, like P90X® Results and Recovery Formula® or alternative post-workout snack.

. . . And yet, we raise our glasses.

Toasting Wine GlassesRegardless of these issues, most people reading this will still hoist a tankard this coming weekend. You can drink alcohol, have a social life, and still be healthy. Yes, I dared to say it. I promise. You do have to make choices and moderate those choices because after all, alcohol is made up of calories. And the calories usually don't stop at the alcohol. Think of the sugary mixers and the post-bar grub. How many times has eating cheese fries with gravy from a diner in North Jersey at 3 AM seemed like a "great idea"? The keys are in choices and in moderation.

Once you're at the barbecue or bar of choice, which drink do you choose? Let's take a look at your best bets from a caloric standpoint:

  1. Hard alcohol. Most distilled spirits have under 100 calories and limited carbohydrates in their 1.5 ounce serving size. If you can stick to hard alcohol with a 0-calorie mixer, your waistline will thank you. We recommend water or club soda. You can also use diet sodas or juices, but then you're getting into artificial sweetener territory. Proceed at your own peril.
  2. Wine (red/white/sparkling). A 5-ounce serving of wine will pack in about 100 calories. But be wary here. Many restaurants will pour larger servings.
  3. Light Beer. Light beers have limited calories and carbohydrates, which makes them a great choice for the calorie conscious. Look for brands that have under 100 calories in a 12-ounce serving.

Man Drinking a Glass of BeerWhen looking at what to stay away from, try to nix mixed drinks and full-calorie beers—although if you're not counting calories, full-calorie, craft-brewed beers are your best bet from a holistic perspective, in that they're made from naturally healthy ingredients and free of additives, fillers, and other chemicals. Mixed drinks are packed with syrups, sugars, and sodas that can easily add in hundreds of calories to your cocktail. And no it's not healthy even if the mixer is made from fruit. That fruit is high in sugar! They may look and taste sweet, but mixed drinks can wreak havoc on your body. Fruit by itself is great for you, but I don't think the bartender at Joe Shmo's pub down the street is grating coconut and chopping up pineapple . . . he's probably mixing canned fruit juice. The reason why fruit by itself is good for you is because it packs FIBER with it, which helps slow the digestion and absorption of the fructose, or sugar. Fruit juices have all the sugar, but none of the fiber, leaving your insulin response to skyrocket and fall. Furthermore, sugar masks the taste of alcohol and you may not realize how much alcohol you're consuming.

When imbibing, try to alternate between alcoholic beverage and water. This will aid the absorption process; keep you hydrated; and help you slow down, keeping your alcohol intake to a moderate level. Plus, when your buddies are on drink number four, you'll only be on drink number two. At that point, they may be too drunk to notice or care that you're not drinking alcohol! If you want to look like you're still drinking, one of my favorite tricks is to just get a club soda or diet soda and garnish with lemon or lime. It gives the appearance that you're drinking so you won't have to explain yourself to anyone.

If you overdo it, that's okay. Overdoing it is not an excuse to jump into a downward spiral. It's an opportunity to recognize that you didn't like the outcome of something and you can change it moving forward. Perhaps, waking up in Tijuana after a night of too much tequila doesn't feel or look so good. Your body will remind you of that in the days following. Moving forward, recognize you may need to balance and make different choices in the future.

So how much is too much? The National Health Service of the UK recommends that men should limit their intake to 3 to 4 units a day (that's about 2 to 3 standard drinks here in the States) while women should limit their drinks to no more than 2 to 3 units a day (1 or 2 drinks). You can still lift weights and drink beer too, just don't think you'll be able to drink scotch like Ron Burgundy at night and train like Rocky the next day at the gym.

Resources:

Related Articles
"Hot Cups o' Love: Top 10 Herbal Teas to Warm You Up All Year Round"
"8 Lower-Calorie Holiday Cocktails"
"Sugar Addiction Detox 101"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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Urban Gardening Part Two: It's All in the Herbs
7 Steps to Planting a Container Garden

By Lisa Palac

(The second in a series on how city slickers can nurture their green thumbs. Find part one here.)

It's spring, the time when everything starts to, literally, spring up. And every year, urban dwellers the world over have the same reaction: this is it! This is the year I finally plant that veggie patch and spend autumn feasting on homegrown produce. Then they look around their third-story walk-up with nothing but a fire escape for outdoor space and realize that's just not going to happen.

Gardening

Or is it?

Even if you've never grown anything before, but have always wanted to take part in this rite of spring, a container herb garden is a perfect way to begin. Here's how to get started:

  1. Woman GardeningA place in the sun. Herbs basically need three important things: full sun, lots of water, and good drainage. For best results, herbs must be grown outdoors. If you live in a seasonal climate, make sure the last frost has come and gone before planting. If your plants aren't doing very well as the season progresses, they might need a sunnier spot or perhaps, a bit less sun. This is one of the essential truths about plants: they've got to have their "spot" to flourish.
  2. The easiest herbs to grow. "If you want to see if you have a green thumb, start with mint," says Cassy Aoyagi, co-owner of FormLA, a team of Los Angeles-based landscape architects specializing in sustainable practices. "Mint just takes over," she says. Mint is a perennial herb, which means that it lasts from season to season, and there are many varieties of mint including spearmint, peppermint, and even chocolate mint.

    The next bulletproof perennial herb, according to Aoyagi, is rosemary. Incredibly hardy and fast-growing, rosemary can tolerate full sun, but can do with much less. It can withstand over-watering and also survive a drought. It's a hard one to kill. If you choose an upright woody variety of rosemary, says Aoyagi, you can use the fragrant stems as skewers for grilling vegetables. Stems of rosemary can also be used to infuse olive oils and marinades. Other easy-to-grow classic perennials include thyme and oregano.

    Basil, cilantro, and parsley are annual herbs, which means they only last one season and are replanted annually. They can absolutely be planted alongside perennial herbs in the same container. If you want to make, say, fresh pesto, however, you'll need more than a single plant. In fact, you'll need at least five or six. If this is the case, you may want a separate pot for large groups of single-variety herbs.
  3. Planting in soilChoosing the best soil. Fish emulsion, worm castings, bone meal, and bat guano hardly sound appetizing, but they are used in organic soil to fertilize the most delicious things. Most organic potting soils available for sale already contain all the ingredients you need to grow lush, healthy plants. For a container herb garden, you don't need additional fertilizer. Organic potting soil is preferable to the mix known simply as potting soil, because commercial soils often contain low-release fertilizers and other chemicals that could potentially be unhealthy.
  4. Container size and shape. All herbs can be planted together in the same container. For example, a 12-inch round ceramic pot can hold four or five herbs. Here's an ideal container size: a wood rectangle that measures 36 inches long by 12 inches high by 12 inches deep. If you can go 18 inches deep, even better, as the more room you give the roots, the larger and healthier the plants will be. Also, make sure there are holes in the bottom of whatever container you choose, so the water can drain out.
  5. Buying the plants. Although you could start from seeds, it's much easier to buy a mature plant. Plants are generally sold by the size of their container. Starter herbs are usually sold in 4-inch pots. Some vendors will sell several individual plants of the same variety in one 4-inch pot, knowing that the plants will be repotted. You can visit a plant nursery or farmer's market to buy your plants, or order online if you're looking for a particular heirloom variety.
  6. The planting. Let's say you're going to plant five herbs in a 12-inch round pot. First, fill the pot about three-quarters to the top with the organic potting soil you've purchased. Next, take the starter herb out of its plastic container by turning the plant upside-down and gently removing the plastic container. Using your fingertips, gently dig in and separate the roots just a little bit, so the roots are no longer compressed in the plastic pot shape. Then, make a little hole in the soil where you intend to plant the herb. Allow 3 to 4 inches between herbs. Set the herb in the soil and cover with more soil. Instead of patting the soil completely flat, try to build a slight mound on the top of each plant, as this little "hill" often helps with drainage.
  7. A Couple GardeningCare and Watering. One of the fundamentals of plant care is this: the more you trim your plant during the growing season, the more new growth you get. So the more leaves you pinch off your basil plant, or the more sprigs of rosemary you clip, the fuller and more leafy your herbs will be. At the end of the season, many perennials will appear fairly dormant. At this stage, you could cut the plant way back, and it will spring back as the weather warms up. Here's another fundamental: the only way to really know if the soil is moist enough is to stick your finger deep in the dirt. For plants that require full water, it should feel damp but not soaking wet. Signs of overwatering and underwatering can seem very similar to a novice, such as leaves yellowing and dropping, but if you test the soil with your finger, you'll have a good idea of which direction things are going.

    Now it's time to reap the fruits—or leaves, anyway—of your labor. A sprinkle of chopped basil on a salad makes it exponentially more delicious, especially if you've grown it yourself. Plus, look at all you can do with fresh mint: cilantro mint chutney, cucumber mint soda, mint ice cubes, chilled peach mint soup. Not to mention that both parsley and cilantro are high in antioxidants. Growing your own herbs is also a really fun and extremely satisfying way to get just a little more green in your day.

Resources:

  • FormLA Landscaping: www.formlainc.com
    McWilliams, J. E. (2009). Just Food. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Related Articles
"Spring Cleansing: 5 Great Reasons to Do a Detox"
"Fit Trippin': 10 Ways to Stay Fit While Traveling"
"Leaf Relief: 8 Awesome Herbs for Your Kitchen"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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Taste the Tropics: Tropical Strawberry Shakeology®

Shakeology®Hit the beach with The Healthiest Meal of the Day®.

http://www.teambeachbody.com/watch/success-stories/shakeology-success.

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Recipe: Minty Avocado Margarita

(Makes 1 serving)

Minty Avocado Margarita


  • 1/4 ripe, small avocado
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. agave nectar or honey
  • 2–3 sprigs of mint
  • 2 oz. water
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Fine sea salt (optional)
  • Lime wedge, for garnish
  1. Wet outside of margarita glass with lime wedge and dip into salt. Set glass aside.
  2. In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, muddle* the avocado with the lime juice, agave nectar, and mint.
  3. Add water and ice; shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into ice-filled, salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with lime wedge and serve.

*What is muddling? Muddling is a bartending/mixology term that means crushing fruits and herbs to release the juices and flavoring oils.

Tip: For an alcoholic version, omit the water and replace with 1-1/2 ounce, good quality tequila and 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

Nutritional Information (Without alcohol): (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
182 5 g 1 g 0 mg 4 mg 36 g 5 g 30 g 1 g

Nutritional Information (Alcoholic): (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
370 5 g 1 g 0 mg 4 mg 52 g 5 g 45 g 1 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.


P90X® and P90X2® Portion Information

Nutritional Information (Without alcohol): (per serving)

Snack Fat
1 1/2


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Recipe: Pomegranate Tarragon Daiquiri

(Makes 1 serving)

Pomegranate Tarragon Daiquiri


  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. agave nectar or honey
  • 4 oz. 100% pomegranate juice
  • Tarragon sprig and lime wedge for garnish
  1. In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, muddle* the tarragon leaves with the lime juice and agave nectar.
  2. Add pomegranate juice and ice; shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into ice-filled glass. Garnish with tarragon sprig lime wedge. Serve immediately.

*What is muddling? Muddling is a bartending/mixology term that means crushing fruits and herbs to release the juices and flavoring oils.

Tip: For an alcoholic version, add 2 ounces dark rum to cocktail shaker before shaking vigorously.

Nutritional Information (Without alcohol): (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
218 0 g 0 g 0 mg 10 mg 52 g 2 g 48 g 0 g

Nutritional Information (Alcoholic): (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
345 0 g 0 g 0 mg 11 mg 52 g 2 g 48 g 0 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.


P90X® and P90X2® Portion Information

Nutritional Information (Without alcohol): (per serving)

Snack Fruit
1 1


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