Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We Did The 21 Day Fix!

A couple months ago Adam had a routine physical. He has a family history of heart disease so we like to stay on top of his health checkups. The good news is that Adam's heart and blood pressure and blood sugar are all excellent. However, the doctor mentioned that he could stand to lose a few pounds in order to further reduce his risk factors for heart disease. So like any loving wife, I offered to whip him in to shape and put him on a strict diet. Can you believe that Adam has never intentionally tried to lose weight in his life? Over the next few weeks Adam lost 8 pounds just by listening to my advice about portion control. But then we both lost motivation and his weight loss stalled out.

Meanwhile, I wasn't entirely happy with my body or my weight. I lost all 55 pounds of the weight I gained while pregnant with Jenna, but my body was still looking pretty pudgy to me. My tummy pooch didn't go away as easily after this pregnancy and I was just feeling really soft and low on energy.

Enter the 21 Day Fix! I had been hearing about this popular program by Beachbody for a while. Normally I don't pay attention to these types of infomercial lose-weight-quick plans. They seem gimmicky and unhealthy. But this one is different, and here is why. The 21 Day Fix combines a 30-minute daily workout with sensible portion control. That's it. No replacement meals or bars with weird ingredients. Just whole, nutrient-dense foods in smart portions. This appealed to me because I fully believe in eating real unprocessed foods as much as possible. I just falter when it comes to eating the proper portions. (And staying away from sugar!) I also like that this plan does not eliminate any food groups. I don't think I could ever stop eating an entire food group. I felt a little silly approaching Adam with the idea to try the 21 Day Fix. But he was immediately excited about the workouts, and I was excited about the meal plan. So we agreed to motivate each other in our weak areas, and do the 21 Day Fix together. Here is a brief summary!

Workouts: It's no secret that I'm not the most athletic person. I really do not like exercising, especially when it comes to cardio. So the idea of a workout that was 30 minutes start to finish (including warmup and cooldown) sounded very do-able. Adam set his alarm for 5am and woke me up so we could get our workout in before the kids woke up. If it had not been for Adam getting up and working out with me, I most definitely would have quit after day 1! Here were out workouts:

MON: Total Body Cardio Fix
TUE: Upper Fix 
WED: Lower Fix 
THU: Pilates Fix 
FRI: Cardio Fix 
SAT: Dirty 30 
SUN: Yoga Fix.

The program also came with an extra 10-minute AB Fix, which we did a few times. I loved all the ab-work in this program but Adam hated it. He preferred the cardio, which I hated!

So here's the deal. These workouts were short and intense. But very do-able for a beginner like me. By the end of each workout I was ready to collapse. But at the same time I felt strong and really proud of myself. The first week was tough because I was SO sore. Walking up and down the stairs killed me. Picking up the kids killed me. But then the soreness went away and the exercises started getting a little easier. And waking up early even got easier! By the end of the 3 weeks the workouts were starting to feel a little bit easier and I was using my "heavier" weights.

(Ryan picking up my weight)

(Ryan picking up Adam's weight. Whoa!)

Nutrition: Now for the fun part....the food! When I first saw the little containers that would be aiding us in our portion control, I was shocked by how small they appeared. I was afraid I'd be starving during the 21 day fix! However, (this is coming from someone who loves eating large amounts) I really did eat a lot of food on this plan. Based on your current weight, you are assigned a caloric range, which then determines how many of each color container you can eat. For example, if you fall in the 1200-1499 calorie range, each day you get to fill up and eat 3 green containers, 2 purples, 4 reds, 2 yellows, 1 blue, 1 orange, and 2 tsps of oil or nut butters. (Yellow and blue were my favorites! Carbs and cheese.)
I fell into the lowest calorie range, but bumped myself up to the next range because I am still nursing and I did not want to do anything to jeopardize my milk supply. The meal plan is comprised of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. I found it to be a lot more vegetables and protein than I am used to eating, and fewer carbohydrates. I am going to be completely honest and say that the first 5 days were really hard. I had a constant headache, and I think it was some sort of withdrawal from sugar. My body was used to eating way too much sugar and probably too many unhealthy carbs.
We ate SO many veggies on this plan. I kept returning to the grocery store to stock up on more produce. 4 servings may not sound like a ton, but you would be surprised by how much food you can stuff into the little containers. It's a good thing Adam and I both love vegetables.

On the 21 day fix you are given a list of foods that you can eat in each category. For example, just because cinnamon toast crunch would be considered a carb doesn't mean you can stuff it into your yellow container and eat it on this plan. Instead, healthy yellow options would be foods like brown rice, whole wheat pitas, or quinoa.
A few reflections on the eating plan. The key to success is to plan ahead. I had an excel spreadsheet (I know, I'm a nerd) that I used to keep track of what we were eating. I tried to plan out what Adam and I were going to eat a couple days in advance. It helped to spread our food out throughout the day, so we didn't end up with 3 servings of protein still left to eat at 9pm. Putting together our meal plans was like a puzzle and I really did enjoy it. Here is what a typical day of eating looked like for me. You are encouraged to eat every 2-3 hours on this plan, so that is what I tried to do.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with sunflower seeds and peanut butter. (Adam and I loved eating our oats after our workout. It is a new favorite breakfast for us).
Snack: Fruit and eggs 
Lunch: Generally leftovers , or some combo of protein, veggies, and maybe a carb 
Snack: Fruit and peanut butter/yogurt (I often blended iced coffee with banana and peanut butter and yogurt to make a "frappuccino"
Dinner: A protein, carb, and 2 servings of veggies
Snack: I often "saved" a protein to eat in the evening when my craving for ice cream struck. I would eat full fat plain greek yogurt with lots of cinnamon sprinkled on top. If I closed my eyes I could almost pretend it was ice cream.

So as you can see, I was definitely eating a lot of food on this plan. There were even a few days when I couldn't eat all of my containers. I would also like to note that we went on a family vacation for 3 days during our diet. I packed every single thing we would eat in a large cooler, so that we didn't have to eat out on our trip. It definitely felt like a sacrifice but we both agreed that we were proud of ourselves afterwards for sticking to our plan.

Once my headache cleared on the 5th day I started to notice a big change in the way I was feeling. I was no longer experiencing the afternoon slump. I felt like I had consistent energy all day long. My body was being fueled every few hours with the proper portions, and I honestly felt really great. I also noticed that my taste buds were changing. I started to really look forward to my healthy foods, and found that they satisfied my cravings for less healthy foods. For example, one day I was out past my snack time and I came home ravenous. All I wanted to eat was a banana with peanut butter. And it tasted SO good!

So do you want to know what our results were at the end of the 21 days?? I went back and forth, and back and forth about whether or not to post these pictures. I am honestly really embarrassed by my "before" pictures. I hate the way I look. Gaining 55 pounds and giving birth to my 3rd baby in less than 5 years definitely changed my body. But the number one comment I hear from people about my blog is this: They appreciate my honesty and transparency. So I'm being honest and vulnerable here and posting my pictures and stats. Whew. Here we go.

In 21 days.......

I lost 4 inches in my waist.
I lost 3 inches in my hips.

I lost 9.4 pounds.

By no means do I have a six-pack. But if I stand a certain way and tighten my stomach muscles, I actually see a little something!

(Adam would prefer I not post his results. But he did even better than me!!)

We finished our 21 day diet over the weekend. And what did Adam and I do the next day? We ate pizza and ice cream and chocolate........and the next day Adam woke up and asked me if we can do another 21 day fix soon. And I agreed. Because we honestly both felt kind of crummy. The indulgent food wasn't that satisfying after all. It left me with a headache and I've been feeling kind of blah.

I'm really glad Adam and I did the 21 Day Fix together. Sure, we could have just tried to eat healthier, but sometimes it really helps to have a solid plan with guidelines. It also helped having a coach. LeAnn, author of the popular blog Real Fit, Real Food Mom, was our 21 Day Fix coach and she did a great job providing us with information and encouragement along the way.

Let me know if you have any questions about the 21 Day Fix!

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