Own it Fit recently ran a 6 week challenge in Sydney. There are many different reasons why people do a 6 week challenge such as to lose weight, get stronger, get fitter or get in shape for your wedding day or a sporting event such as Tough Mudder. Another good reason to do a 6 week challenge is to get back on track with your health especially if you felt like you had fallen off the wagon and over indulged recently. The Own it Fit 6 week challenge was definitely challenging with participants having to commit to eating clean food, very limited amounts of alcohol and exercising 5 days a week. There have been some great transformations during the challenge. The key part of the challenge lies around eating the right nutrition. Our diet accounts for 80% of the results that we achieve. Fitness, sleeping and our mind account for the rest. We are happy to share our top 5 nutritional tips with you if you click here. It’s not a secret on how to get results- it’s consistency in nutrition, exercise and sleep that counts.
Leanne Cotter is an Own it Fit client who has been doing the 6 week challenge in Sydney. We asked her to write about her experience and her reasoning for doing the challenge in the first place. Leanne has been keeping a journal while on the challenge so she can share her highs and lows during the 6 week challenge. We will release this diary over a number of posts.
Over to Leanne:
Introduction: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going” Jim Rohn
Five years ago I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). One of the first things my doctor explained to me was the importance of maintaining a healthy weight range which meant a good diet & regular exercise. Sadly with PCOS you tend to put on weight very easily and in all the wrong places – namely the stomach (I’m sure it wouldn’t be so bad if the weight went to your breasts). A lot of women who have PCOS are also at higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease & other health problems. Diet & exercise are something that I still find difficult at times, especially when a lot of my friends don’t seem to have to work as hard to lose/maintain their weight. As a result I have tried various diets over the years and exercise programs but nothing that I’ve stuck with long term because I would always get frustrated and give up.
The motivating factors that really pushed me to stop with the excuses and take a stand on my health occurred after I got back from a big overseas trip in March 2013. I realised that I had put on quite a bit of “holiday weight”. When you don’t have an exercise routine and you’re eating all 3 meals out plus overindulging in alcohol the kilos are bound to stack on. As it turns out though whilst they’re easy to put on they’re not so easy to work off. I could have just ignored it, after all it’s natural to put on weight after a holiday right? But while I knew I had put on weight, there were several that happened on my first day back at work that made me decide I had to get serious about losing it. The first was not being able to fit into one of my favourite, and expensive, work skirts. The second happened shortly after I arrived in the office and swung past the local coffee shop to grab a latte. My barista congratulated me. When I asked what he was talking about, he replied with “You’re pregnant right?” (Note to all men: never assume a woman is pregnant unless you’re told they are!). Of course he realised quickly that he had said the wrong thing and then tried to back track what he had said but it was too late, it was out there. The final straw however was when I arrived back to the office, and told one of my lovely but extremely blunt colleagues the story and her response was “Yeah I thought the same thing, your face looks bloated”. Geez, talk about a kicking a girl when’s she’s down!
It was then I decided that I would show them! Plus I really didn’t want to have to pay for a brand new wardrobe because none of my clothes would no longer fit, I was sick of struggling to breath after running 20 metres to the bus stop because my fitness levels were rubbish and I definitely didn’t want to develop diabetes or heart disease or any of those other nasty illnesses that are associated with excessive belly fat. But the trouble was keeping myself motivated which has traditionally been a bit of a problem. This is where Mel & Own it Fit came in and I can honestly say that it’s been one of the best things I have ever done, not just for my health & fitness but also socially.
So when I recently agreed to participate in Own-it-Fits 6 week challenge and Mel asked me to blog about my experience, so that others can learn about the program, I jumped right at it. I’m hoping that I will be able help other people like me learn more about health & fitness and see the benefits in joining Own-it-fit either in a social capacity or to lose the kgs.
Week One – “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison
With summer coming up & my goal weight still a little way off, I thought it was time to really focus. My fitness levels had already begun to improve through training with Mel & I had lost a few kilos, even though I broke several toes in May (not related to training but rather my own stupidity) which put me out of action for 8 weeks. But my diet…my diet needed work. Mel suggested that I try the 6 week challenge which was designed by a nutritionist & would make me more conscious of my food choices by forcing me to record all the items I consume on a daily basis. Unfortunately it also meant giving up some food items that I am particularly fond of, but it’s only 6 weeks and in the grand scheme of things 6 weeks is not a long time. That is, it didn’t seem like a long time when I agreed to do it.
Mel started the challenge by giving us a list of foods that we could and could not eat during the 6 weeks, explained that we needed to commit to regular exercise at least 5 times each week (not just the group training classes but other forms of exercise such as walking etc.) and measured our current fitness levels through a variety of different tests in order to determine our BioAge. She also gave us a food diary and goal setting booklet which she told us we needed to fill out. Looking through the list of foods we couldn’t eat I began to feel a little apprehensive. Alcohol was naturally out. I know that alcohol is empty calories, I know that alcohol contributes to health problems if you drink excessively and I know that it leads to indulging on fatty foods late at night or the next day to curb that hangover but I still was slightly disappointed. The no dairy element didn’t bother me. I’ve been drinking almond milk for over a year now after I was told that soy milk has been linked to female hormone imbalances (Women with PCOS have an excessive amount of male hormones as it so it is best to avoid any other disruptions). Besides, given the choice between a cheese platter or a chocolaty dessert I would always choose the chocolate. Which leads me to the next No-No – Sugar!
It goes without saying that any healthy diet should have very little sugar in it. But sugar doesn’t just relate to chocolate & sweets, and there are a surprising number of foods that you would never think had sugar added to them! Tin veggies for example! Luckily Mel gave us specific recipes & examples of what to buy & what to avoid which was extremely helpful. The last and probably the main source of most of my apprehension was no grains or legumes. I love pasta, l love bread & I adore rice but under this challenge I was not going to be able to eat any of them! The reason for eliminating these foods from your diet is that all these foods are high on the GI index which means that they raise blood sugar quickly and keep it high for a significant period of time. This increases the odds that your insulin levels will also be high – PCOS suffers usually have elevated insulin levels already and for this reason are at a higher risk of developing diabetes & putting on excessive amounts of weight particularly around the mid-section. Even more reason for me in particular to really focus on eliminating these items from my diet. Fats on the other hand have zero effect on blood sugar. And whilst protein does affect blood sugar it’s not nearly as much as carbs. The diet focuses on eating healthy fats, good sources of protein and lots and lots of veggies. Even though I knew the health benefits I still wasn’t overly enthusiastic. I’m not a huge meat lover but I told myself it was only for 6 weeks…
At the beginning of the week I felt fine. I did however stuff up on Tuesday when I failed to prepared my lunch the night before and ordered a chicken salad from the local retailer only to find it had a mayo-based dressing on it (lesson learnt: always remember to ask for no dressing or sauces or ask for them on the side if eating out). As the week went on however I began to feel really low on energy, overly emotional & irritable despite me doing everything that I was supposed to do including drinking over 2 litres of water a day & having small approved snacks in between meals. By Sunday I was honestly ready to give up. On top of the previous symptoms I also developed stomach cramps, nausea & headaches. I was convinced that the diet was not the right choice for my body and that I needed carbs to function. On Sunday afternoon I messaged Mel and told her that I wasn’t going to go ahead with the diet from Monday but that I would still come along to training. Luckily Mel wasn’t going to let me give up that easily. She explained that all the symptoms were normal and that my body was detoxing all the bad stuff that had built up over the years as a result of poor diet and excessive sugar/drinking alcohol. Eventually she managed to convince me to stick with it. I’m glad she did because over the next few days all the bad side effects stopped and my energy levels soared (more than what I had even prior to starting the diet). Best of all though, I began to notice some changes to my shape and some of my clothes fit more comfortably than before. It was start and I began to view the diet more favourably.
What’s my number one tip for surviving week one?
The week one side effects are quite nasty but I promise you that once they pass you feel a million times better. Remember what you are setting out to achieve and acknowledge that it means hard work and time. Also plan a big shop at the beginning of the week and prepare your meals in advance. I know people have busy lives but your health should be your number one priority and that means ensuring that you’re eating healthy nutritional foods & exercising! Plus if you prep in advance and refrigerate/freeze your meals you will save money & time. And if you stuff up, learn from it and try again