A few weeks back I published a post talking about the issues I face when it comes to body image. First of all I want to say a huge thank you to those who read it, and those who then proceeded to get in touch and tell me how much they could relate to it. Pressing ‘publish’ on that post was scary, and clearly I was right to be cautious as there were a handful of ‘Twitter Trolls’ who decided to verbally abuse me because they disagreed with my opinions, and my personal body image, but you know what? I’m glad I did press ‘publish’, because it took of lot of guts for me to write, and I felt somewhat relieved to have shared something that had been weighing me down for so long. You may remember from my post that The Body Coach’s 90 Day SSS Plan was my next glimmer of hope for earning myself the body I’ve always wanted, and the healthy lifestyle that I hadn’t quite cracked. Did I ever begin the plan? Well, the title of this post gives that away, so really the billion dollar question is, am I still doing the plan? Yes I am. The past thirty days have seen plenty of ups and downs, but I promised to keep you updated, so here you go. All the deets, good and bad.
Five days after signing up, parting with the money and filling out an extensive questionnaire, my plan arrived. Having eighty-four information packed pages to read was pretty overwhelming, so I spent the weekend prior to day one reading it, and reading it again. In case you’re not aware of what the plan contains, I was sent a number of carb refuel and reduced carb recipes, along with snack recipes, which I had to choose between on a daily basis to make sure I was eating three meals and two snacks per day, without fail. Now, the technical stuff. If you train you get a carb refuel meal straight afterwards, however all other meals (including rest days) must be from the reduced carb menu, and then of course your two snacks of choice. Workout wise, you are recommended to do four to five HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts per week in Cycle One. The entire plan is tailored based on my personal data, with every recipe suited perfectly to my optimum macros, though I should mention that my calories were actually cut by 20% due to my history of dieting. First impressions were good, and a scarily expensive food shop later, I was ready to begin Cycle One.
Monday morning, 6am, and I was at gym getting eager for workout number one. The truth? It was absolutely horrendous. Ten minutes in I lost feeling in my legs along with my hearing and vision, and so before I knew it I was charging down the gym stairs debating whether to go outside for fresh air or peg it to the toilets. I did the latter, but thankfully I got it together enough to carry on for the remaining ten minutes, even if it was a slightly less impressive attempt at exercise. I was gutted by this as prior to my holiday I’d been doing HIIT religiously five days per week, so it goes to show how as little as three weeks of junk food can affect you. But there’s good news, because by workout number three I managed to do my first, full twenty-five minute HIIT session, without feeling quite so ill. Quite an improvement, I’d say. Nutrition wise I was drinking 2.5-3 litres per day along with two whole milk, sugar free coffees. As this was basically the norm for me anyway, albeit a bit more in the way of water consumption, I didn’t have any issues with this. Then there’s the food, and this is where the struggles get real. Don’t get me wrong, some of the recipes were lovely, but I spent more time flapping about missing ingredients and getting the bizarrely precise measurements of every ingredient perfect than I did actually enjoying the food. I thought I ate healthily before, but the sugar withdrawal symptoms suggested otherwise. Facing meat and veg overload on a daily basis along with the endless prep, I’ll admit that I had numerous break downs and gave at least two “I’m quitting” speeches. But of course I wasn’t going to give in that easily.
After spending four solid hours slaving away in the kitchen getting ready for week two, I’d just about had it, and I spent my afternoon curled up in a ball on the sofa crying my eyes out at how damn hard this all was. It might seem dramatic, but don’t throw shade until you’ve tried it for yourself, because it’s way, way harder than you’d expect. That said, once I got into week two I noticed how the headaches and fatigue had gone, I was feeling more satisfied after meals, and I wasn’t craving junk food quite so often. Small improvements, but extremely promising. A couple more breakdowns took place, but thanks to Darryl and his love for cooking, he took the pressure off me by getting stuck in with making several of my meals, which he also ate (and actually semi-enjoyed). By the end of week two another five HIIT workouts were done, and I was finally starting to get into the swing of things.
I got my meal prep down to two hours on the Sunday prior to week three, and felt ready to begin day fifteen with more motivation that ever. Things were really starting to get easier now. I had a really stressful week which had me craving every take-away known to man, but did I cave? No I didn’t. I also turned down a bakewell tart (my fav), a doughnut, coffee cake (another fav), biscuits, freshly baked cookies and free Lindt chocolate during the Tesco shop. Call my crazy (I did), but this is huge news for me. I have never in my life gone two days without a sugary treat before, let alone twenty-one days, so to say I was pretty damn proud of myself at this point is an understatement. Workout wise I was loving it, another five HIIT sessions were done and dare I say it, I enjoyed every minute of them. Did I notice any changes? Yes I did. My clothes were looser, my face was clearer, and I felt I looked ‘smaller’ in the mirror.
In the fourth and final week I’ll admit that I began to grow a little bored with the food. I dislike seafood, beef and pork, so my options were pretty limited and I began to find myself forcing down the food without enjoying it. I love to create my own recipes on a whim, so really it was a case of my stubborn inner chef making an appearance at this point. Regardless of this I ate every meal and every snack that I was supposed to, staying true to form as Cycle One came to a close. Again, another five HIIT workouts were completed and I feel feeling like a champion in my own right. Week four was done. I’d actually pulled myself together enough to complete the Shift Cycle.
It’s day thirty today, which means that after dinner tonight, I am a third of the way through this plan. So how did I do? During Cycle One I lost 2.2kg / 4.9lbs and 5.5 inches (8.5 if you include my butt circumference, ankles and calves, which aren’t measurements you’re encouraged to submit on the plan). Better still, my before and after shots show a difference, even if it is minor. For someone who admittedly doesn’t have a lot to lose, I am pleased. Really pleased. My four weeks of complete and utter dedication in a desperate attempt to prove myself wrong have paid off, and that is an incredible feeling. This plan is hard to stick to, I won’t pretend it isn’t, so the fact that the only ‘off plan’ thing I consumed were a couple of small cappuccinos suggests that actually, I can do this. I can stick to something that, initially, I thought I’d fail at on the first hurdle. Physical results aside, I managed to go an entire month without merely a crumb or sip of junk food or drink. With Darryl eating as normal around me, and even baking fresh cookies on one occasion, I really thought I’d cave. So in summary, I have impressed myself. Now if that’s not a good enough reason to carry on and sail into Cycle Two with a huge grin on my face, I don’t know what is. The Shape Cycle is all about weights, HIIT and carbs, so let’s see where the next four weeks take me. Check back in a month for update number two!