Yup, you read correctly. I didn’t mention it on social media at all, but from November 7th to November 27th, I completed Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix.
I know, I know… you’re probably thinking “WHY?” There is a pretty negative connotation surrounding all things Beachbody, because like with most things, people get overzealous and talk about it non-stop while trying to rope others into it, and I don’t “look like someone that needs to go on a diet.” I actually never had anyone approach me and ask me to ‘join their challenge group’ or ‘think about becoming a coach to make some extra money’ like I’ve heard has happened to a lot of other people. So while I was wary of it, like I am with any ‘quick fix’ type of programs or products, I didn’t have any personal negative experiences with it. In fact, I knew a few people who — wary of it like me — gave it a try and were pleased with their results.
So, why did I decide to try it? Well, I’ve been feeling a little ‘meh’ in my own skin lately. I’ve never been someone to focus on the number on the scale because it can fluctuate A LOT and isn’t always indicative of how I’m feeling. Instead, I focus more on how I’m feeling and the way my clothes are fitting. Since I’ve been in a running injury cycle for the last two-ish years, I’ve been doing a lot of cross-training, not a lot of running, and a lot of eating like crap. I was always convinced that I was working out enough to cancel out my poor eating habits, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that isn’t the case (boo metabolism slowing down). When I was in high school and college I was solidly in the 130-135 pound range, but wore generally the same sizes I do now, and I was in really great shape… I was swimming 2+ hours a day! So when I ate, I ATE. I also had the metabolism of a teenager/someone in their early 20’s, so I could order a double quarter pounder with cheese (super sized!) from McDonalds, eat the whole thing, and live to tell the tale. Gross, I know. Now I can range anywhere from 120-127, and usually feel most comfortable and my ‘fittest’ when I’m closer to 120. So, despite working out 7x a week (sometimes more than once a day), I wasn’t seeing any big changes. I mean, with the weights I was lifting and the cardio I was doing, I felt like I should’ve seen more muscle definition. That’s when I had the unfortunate realization that all those kitschy sayings are true… “abs are made in the kitchen,” “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” etc. Whomp, whomp.
My main goal for the 21-day fix was to get better with my eating. I knew my workouts, generally speaking, were fine on their own. But I also knew that I was definitely not eating enough of the right stuff, and eating too much of the wrong stuff. I didn’t want to do anything wildly restrictive because I knew it wouldn’t be long-lasting, so that’s why the 21-day fix was most appealing. Rather than count calories, you use color coded containers that correspond to different food groups. Green and purple, the largest containers, are for your fruits and veggies. The sizes get smaller from there, but there really isn’t anything you have to completely eliminate. And yes, there’s the Shakeology portion. This isn’t required, but is widely encouraged… I think mostly because it’s actually really expensive. I bought it because it was on sale with the challenge pack, and figured if I was going to do it, I’d go all in. Guess what? Shakeology tastes just like every other kind of protein powder out there… generally gross, but okay enough to suck down. If anyone tells you they love the taste, they’re lying to you… or they don’t have tastebuds. I ordered everything online off of Beachbody’s website, selected my twitter-friend Nicole as my coach, and started trying to plan out how I was going to make it through the 21 days. There are three calorie ranges to choose from based on calculating your current height/weight and how much weight you want to lose. Since I wasn’t really focused on losing weight per say, I selected the middle option. I went through periods of thinking the containers were so small and I was going to starve, to thinking it was actually enough food.
This was the first time I actually did ‘meal prep’ which is all the rage these days. I had given it the side eye in the past, but mostly because I’m lazy and the last thing I want to do on a Sunday afternoon is roast veggies and cook grains for hours. Turns out, though, it isn’t nearly as time consuming as it seems. I bought tons of vegetables, threw them on a pan, and popped them into the oven for awhile. I also cooked a bunch of brown rice and quinoa, and hardboiled eggs. It was relatively quick and easy, and it allowed me to be prepared (and in some cases over prepared), for the week ahead. I pre-portioned out my lunches and snacks to fit the guidelines, and had everything in the fridge organized so there was no thinking involved when it came time to pack my lunch in the morning before work. Having everything planned and a lot of it already cooked made it SO much easier to stick to it. I’m confident that if I hadn’t done all that prep work I would’ve cheated… which defeats the whole purpose!
Of course, I didn’t stick to the plan 100%. During the first week, I attended a wine and cheese party on Saturday. There was no way I was going to pass up delicious cheese, wine, and bread. It just wasn’t going to happen. I tried to be mindful of how much I was eating (and what), but I also didn’t restrict myself. Having that kind of flexibility and wiggle room was important for me. Similarly, during the second week, I was in Philly to run the 8k, cheer for the marathon, and see some friends. Since most of my friend outings revolve around food, I wasn’t about to restrict myself then, either. I had a doughnut on Saturday morning after my race, and then enjoyed wine and plenty of (delicious!) food at dinner on Saturday night. Again, I was mindful of how much I was eating and what it was, but I didn’t think twice about it. And of course the end of the 21 days, Thanksgiving happened. Just like the first two ‘cheat’ days, I paid attention to what I was eating and didn’t overeat, but I at no point turned something down because of my ‘diet.’ Eating right really is all about balance. There’s no way I’d be able to follow an eating plan that didn’t have any wiggle room.
Aside from the eating portion, there’s the workouts. I didn’t do any of the cardio workouts because I supplemented that with running, and I avoided the lower body specific workouts just to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it as I’m getting back into running. I did, however, do the ‘Upper Fix,’ ‘Dirty 30,’ and ’10 minute ab fix’ weekly in addition to my running, some yoga, and some spinning. The workouts are short (30 minutes total if you include the warm-up and cool-down, which I usually didn’t) and are deceptively hard. I was using two 5 pound weights which I assumed would be too light, but doing each exercise for a minute straight proved to be a lot more difficult than I originally anticipated. I was sore after each workout the first time I did it, but it got better as I continued doing them over the course of the three weeks.
So after all that, what did I think? I actually really, really liked the 21-day fix. I learned a lot about my eating habits! I definitely don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables despite being a vegetarian, I lean too heavily on my workouts as excuses for poor food choices, and I definitely don’t drink enough water. We were encouraged to weigh ourselves and take measurements before the challenge as well as at the end. While my measurements weren’t anything staggering (my quads got bigger because I’m running more again – YAY!, but I lost almost a full inch at my hips and a half inch at my waist), I did loose about 5 pounds (give or take, of course). Considering the challenge ended the weekend after Thanksgiving, my numbers probably would’ve been more ‘impressive’ if that wasn’t the case. But more importantly than those numbers, I feel better. Some of the pants I’d been avoiding because they were just a little too tight fit much more comfortably. And I have some baby ab muscles poking through… just in time for layering season, ha.
I would definitely recommend this to someone looking to overhaul their eating habits a bit. I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do this if I was in the middle of training for a race, but this was the perfect time for me to try it. You can definitely do it on the cheaper side by not including Shakeology and ordering the containers on Amazon rather than through Beachbody. You also don’t have to join a challenge group, but I found the camaraderie of a group (via an app) motivating. There are tons of resources online (meal planning sheets you can download, blogs full of recipes, tips and tricks, and more), and it really isn’t that hard or drastic. Basically, it’s just a way to make sure you’re not overeating, and what you are eating is good for you. Like they say, not all calories are created equal… and as someone who relies on my body a lot to achieve goals and feel good about myself, I need to treat it better. But I am also all about those indulgences (give me booze! cheese! chocolate!)… I just needed to learn how to control them a bit better.
Now let’s see how I do during the month of December!
Have you ever done 21-day fix, or something similar? What did you think?
If you haven’t, would you try it?