Time Period Covered: 4/2/2017 – 4/29/2017 (4 weeks)
Like many of us, I struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I constantly make plans to do better in the future. I stop and start many routines over time. Nothing really sticks for more than a few weeks. Now I am trying yet again to lose some weight. My doctor says it is a must to keep my blood pressure in check. I was diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) about two years ago. I am on a medication for it. I am supposed to work on stress reduction (not my strong point). I am also strongly encouraged to lose at least 10 pounds. I can in fact attest that about a year ago when I was down approximately 10 pounds, my blood pressure was consistently in a much healthier range than it is now. My blood pressure has recently shot up into the worry zone (higher than even my normal); I blame mounting pressures at work. Anyway, all this has led me to try to get back down the needed 10 pounds. If I can go further, bonus points to me.
For inspiration, I decided to buy the book The 28-Day Challenge: Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Guide by Kayla Itsines. I first heard of Kayla through an article in Bloomberg Business Week. I have since followed her on Instagram and poked around her website. I was hesitant to buy her Bikini Body Guides though as they seemed kind of pricey for a PDF file, and I am not really much of a phone app girl. So when I discovered she was releasing a book, I figured that was the perfect option for me. What can I say about the book? In a word: ambitious. I think it would be really hard for your average unhealthy girl (like me) to pick this book up and follow it. The book was beyond me, so instead I used it for inspiration and motivation rather than an actual plan to follow. See below for my application of The 28 Day Challenge.
The majority of the book is dedicated to meal plans. I like the fact that she includes a very nice section full of information about nutrition in food and meal preparation guidelines. There are a boatload of recipes included, all nicely laid out in the 28 days that you need, plus extra ones that you can swap in if a substitute is required. Many of them look very tasty. Alas, I did not actually follow her 28 day plan, so I have no idea how those recipes turned out. The only recipe I actually tried was the beetroot dip, which I really like. Sadly, I do not find her plan very practical for the average working adult. My three main complaints: cost, time, and waste. She has a lot of variety included in her meals, which from a nutritional standpoint I understand, but all those foods have to be bought. Along with that, I found it rather wasteful when recipes called for things like half a banana, but the other half shows up in no other recipe near it. I cannot spend so much money to throw unused pieces of it away. Additionally, many of these meals require a lot of preparation with little of it seeming very make-ahead friendly. Since I work full time, it just did not seem very doable.
What did I do instead of following the lovely 28 Day Challenge meal plan? Not a whole lot of anything. On weeks 1 & 4, I was able to curb my soda consumption somewhat. The other two weeks were full caffeine intake. Unfortunately, I chose to start trying to be healthier during my yearend close, which is basically pointless. I live on sugar and caffeine during those weeks. Weeks 1 & 4 were less stressful than 2 & 3, which is why I was able to reign in the soda intake a little bit. Otherwise, I consumed a lot of fast food and sweets. This is pretty typical for me in high stress periods.
The exercise portion of the book is more of an afterthought than the meal plan. However, it does have enough information to guide you through her exercise routines. Each week has a 5/6 day workout plan, including 3 days of circuit training and 2 or 3 days of low-intensity cardio. She also includes a 10 minute rehabilitation session, which can be tacked on anywhere in the schedule. Each week includes one circuit training day for legs, one for arm/abs, and one full body, interspersed with the cardio days. Each day’s workout includes 8 exercises broken into 2 sets of 4. You are supposed to do 4 exercises for 7 minutes, short rest, the other 4 exercises for 7 minutes, a longer rest, repeat the whole thing, and stretch. The light cardio days are walking, swimming, etc. for 30-45 minutes. Again this is an ambitious plan for someone not in shape (me). While the exercises themselves are basic enough, and she has nice step by step instructions and picture guides, if you are not used to exercising full time you probably are not going to be able to complete the whole program. However, this plan is definitely something you can work up to, and overall I think much more useful to the average girl than the meal plan was.
So how did I fare on my first round of the 28 Day Challenge Circuit Training Program? Here is a quick look at my schedule. Week 1: Mon Leg Day where I barely made it through each exercise one time (as in one set of recommended reps) and was a bit sore afterward, Tues 20 minute cardio session on the elliptical, and Thurs Arm Day where again I barely made it through each exercise one time and was so sore I could barely move them for 4 days. Week 2: Mon Leg Day where I did each exercise one time with minimal soreness afterward, Wed 20 minute cardio session on the elliptical, and Fri Arm Day where again I did each exercise one time and was quite sore afterward but at least I could move this time. Week 3: Tues Leg Day where I did each exercise one time with minimal soreness afterward, Wed 20 minute cardio on the elliptical, and Fri Arm Day where I did each exercise one time with soreness afterwards though not nearly as bad as the first week. Week 4: Tues Leg Day each exercise one time through with minimal soreness, and Wed 20 minute walk. I did not do arms; I was out of energy, time, and motivation.
I know my version of the goals was not anywhere near what was outlined in the book, but really I think it inspired and motivated me to do a lot better than I normally would have done during the month of April. I do not regret buying it at all, but I am not sure I would necessarily recommend it to others. I think there are probably much more user-friendly guides out there, especially for beginners like me. However, I intend to stick with the exercise plan because I assume I will keep improving if I keep trying. I hope to use the meal plan as more of a recipe book where I pick and choose some of the things to include in my journey toward eating better. However, I will probably never actually follow the 28 Day Challenge as provided in the book.
So here is a peek at where I stand now.
Current Weight: 167.7 (prior weight was 167.5 but I do not have pics to go with it)
Doctor Goal: 155 and blood pressure in the 110/70 range
Personal Goal: 140 and blood pressure in the 110/70 range
Can I Even Dream It Goal: 130 and a picture of perfect health
Until next time, I hope you are out living the life you always dreamed you would have.