As you all know I am doing the F45 8-Week Challenge. If you missed out on why I have signed up for this rather full on exercise and nutrition challenge you can catch up here. I have been keeping a diary throughout my ordeal (sorry, I really did mean to say joyous experience) on the off chance anyone who reads this feels inspired to take part and wants a thorough understanding of what is involved.
The Lead Up
I started at my local F45 studio three weeks before the Challenge started and from the get go there were whisperings of it around class. Who was going to take part? What was involved? Who dropped out last time because it was too hard?
As I was new to the whole thing, the challenge seemed like a mythical exercise beast only for the hard-core, not something newly-returned-to-exercise me could participate in. Then I started to see photos of the transformations some of my fellow F45-ers had underwent after the last challenge. Most had a starting body similar to my own, so I started to feel more confident and decided to find out more about it.
The challenge lasts eight weeks and involves both an exercise and nutrition component. I went along to the information night, downloaded the handy challenge app and booked in for my full body scan. I haven’t weighed myself in years because, frankly, I don’t really care about numbers, I am more interested in how I look and feel and how I fit in my clothes.
My full body scan revealed, among other things like my muscle mass and water retention, that I weigh 75.4kg. This came as a bit of a shock to me as I remembered being 60 something last time I weighed myself. Based on the results of my scan, it was recommended that I lose 16.6kg to get back within my healthy BMI. That’s right everyone, according to my BMI, I am obese. Let’s not even get into the ridiculousness of that.
The Challenge app is the home for all the meal recipes. I input my sex, age, current weight and goal weight and was given the mean plan for an average woman working a desk job. We were told if we were feeling really hungry, or if we had a physically demanding job, that we could increase our portion sizes a little but I was determined to stick to the plan as it was as best I could.
I also discovered when I was putting together my shopping list that we needed protein to make protein shakes. I have never set foot in a protein place in my life and the guys in my local place took pity on my lack of protein knowledge and gave me a complimentary shaker to shake up my vanilla isowhey.
I had already been training six days a week in the lead up so I wasn’t worried about working hard physically; I was worried about falling off the nutrition bandwagon.
The first two weeks of the F45 challenge program are called ‘Spring Training.’ I wasn’t fooled by this overly cheerful description; I knew this detoxing and alkalising phase was going to be tough.
The first week of the challenge coincided with my last week of unemployment so I had plenty of time to cook my meals and snacks. Firstly, I don’t cook. Once I tried to peel a sweet potato and dropped it in the bin. That’s how bad I am. We had an option to pay for our meals to be prepared by a chef but as I had no day job and no money coming in I had to suck it up and prepare my food myself. I made my meals during the day while Jesse was at work so that the atrocities I committed in the kitchen went unwitnessed.
I would say that I began the week very optimistically, but come Tuesday I was hungry, emotional and dying for a sweetie. I don’t drink coffee and I rarely drink alcohol, so it was very easy for me to cut those out. It was the sugar withdrawals that got me. I found after dinner to be the hardest time of day and I would lie in bed trying to go to sleep feeling hungry.
I had to go to Sydney on the Friday and Saturday for Leiden work so I couldn’t stick to my meal plan exactly but I packed all my snacks and got meals that as closely resembled what I was supposed to have as possible. I actually ate the same kale and broccoli salad twice because it was the only option that fit the bill.
On Sunday I was supposed to go to a Christmas in July party for my casual job but I thought it was best I remove myself from the temptations of a party so I sat home and did magazine work, feeling a little smug while everyone else had fun.
After a week of training and following the meal plan I certainly felt thinner but I felt hungry and generally pissy because I missed sweets. But as Jesse said, my love of sweets is what got me into the mess of not fitting in my clothes, and he is quite right.
Week two marked the second week of my detoxing phase and really tested my will power. I started a new day job on the Monday and to celebrate my lovely new colleagues baked no fewer than three cakes. Three. I couldn’t be that douche that refuses cake because they are on a diet, so I forwent my prescribed boiled egg and hummus snack for a sliver of apple teacake.
The next extreme test of my will power came later in the week when Jesse attempted to coax me into eating pizza with him. I said no and instead proceeded to huff around the kitchen making my healthy zucchini dinner, cursing him for putting the thought of pizza in my head.
My training this week was vastly improved by my first ever pair of Lulu Lemon tights. I have been really scabby and mostly wearing a mixture of the few good activewear pieces I own: ill-fitting tights and old dance clothes, so it was a nice change to wear something as fancy as everyone else.
I feel like my sugar cravings were much more manageable this week compared to last and I felt much happier about the whole situation. I developed the trick of pushing all my meals much further back than I would normally eat so that the gap between dinner and bedtime was that much shorter.
The first two weeks of the challenge were called the ‘detox/alkalising’ phase and without sugar or caffeine, these weeks were as unappealing as they sound. Week three marked the beginning of the ‘regular season’, the longest diet phase of the challenge, lasting four weeks. According to my motivational newsletter I received at the start of the week, this phase is supposed to: create lean, muscle tone, support quick muscle recovery, enhance exercise performance and strengthen immune function.
Week three was the week of the lentil and chickpea. It seemed that every meal I ate, excluding breakfast thank god, either had a lentil or a chickpea in it. Or celery. By Friday my stomach could no longer handle digesting this concoction and rather than feeling like I was losing weight, I felt extremely bloated and gassy.
The other lowlight of this week was the cashew smoothie that was my breakfast two mornings. You would be forgiven for thinking that with a name like cashew smoothie, this liquid breakfast delight would feature the humble cashew as its hero. But no my friends, this smoothie contained only four cashews.
I felt really good about my training this week, but was originally only able to book into five days instead of six due to my inability to organise my classes far enough in advance. Because I was going to miss out on my Sunday class I booked into a dance class at 6th Position instead. I then managed to get into my Sunday class and ended up doing both for bonus points.
My will power has remained surprisingly strong and I am yet to significantly break my diet. My new work colleagues wanted to go to the Doughnut Department this week so I went with them to bond but only drank tea. I did have a small chai latte on Saturday morning as used to be my Saturday tradition at the Farmers Market, but I made sure to eat a little less breakfast to make up for it.
This week I went a little off the rails with my nutrition. But I feel I was justified, at least for some of it.
After a very good Monday where I exercised, sipped my lemon water, applied my magnesium oil and followed the diet plan exactly, I intentionally dropped the ball diet wise on Tuesday night. The 15th marked Jesse and I’s four-year anniversary so rather than eat the tofu dinner I was supposed to, I had green pizza and garlic bread to celebrate with him.
On the Thursday we got free tickets to see a film so I strategically forwent dinner again and ate popcorn instead. On Thursday and Friday I somehow managed to forget to eat one of my snacks both days. I was very restrained and had no drink when my work colleagues went for beers on Friday night after work.
I have a heart monitor that I wear when I train so that I can measure my performance and engage with some friendly competition with my fellow F45-ers. While I felt much stronger and fitter while I trained this week, I was disappointed to see that I was getting worse results on my monitor than ever. After a few dispiriting days I realised that I had improved so much that my regular amount of effort wasn’t cutting it any more and that I now needed to push harder. Once I had that epiphany I was able to get my heart rate up.
On the weekend, Jesse and I headed up to Sydney to celebrate our anniversary further. I generally ate things that closely resembled the diet plan but I had no intention of missing out on all the little treats we traditionally have together when we come to Sydney. After four weeks of slogging my guts out and denying myself, a little treat will help me get through the next four weeks.
How I Feel So Far?
Despite my little detour in Week four I’m definitely feeling good. I don’t own scales so I feel like I have lost some weight but I have no idea how much. I am feeling stronger and fitter but still a little hungry. I continue to feel like a dickhead when I tell people I can’t have a drink, a coffee or a cake with them because I am on a diet, but generally people are very accepting.
For some reason since I started this challenge one of the rare quotes attributed to Kate Moss keeps popping into my head. ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.’ At the moment I don’t that is true, a hell of a lot of things taste better than how I feel even though I am skinnier; but hey, I am only 4 weeks in. Let’s see how I feel at the end.