My girlfriend has been a longtime fan of Shakeology; a nutritional smoothie, and decided to become a Beachbody Coach. She did this to help others, but more importantly, did it for the discount. Apparently another perk is finding out about new exercise and dieting programs offered by Beach Body. The latest is 21 Day Fix. She told me about it and asked if I wanted to participate. I said yes because she is fairly in shape, and I am more of an almost fairly in shape, and need to catch up with her.
21 Day Fix is an exercise and diet program from Beach Body (the
demented psychos people who brought you P90X and Insanity). The concept is 21 days straight of 30 minute exercises and a nutrition plan based on colored containers corresponding with different food groups (red for protein, green for veggies, etc). I'll explain the exercise and nutrition plan, then finish up with my reaction to the 21 Day Fix.
The exercise portion consists of seven 30-minute workouts: Total body cardio, Upper body Fix, Lower body Fix, Pilates Fix, Cardio Fix, Dirty 30, and Yoga Fix. There is a bonus 10 min abs, but since I hate ab workouts, I refuse to acknowledge its existence. A few days into the routine, I noticed that there is a method to the madness regarding the order of the workouts. They smartly target different groups preventing over exertion and allowing rest (except abs… Autumn loves working out abs and every workout featured them at some point). The Pilates and Yoga days are designed for "active recovery", though I felt there was very little "recovery" during the Pilates (my abs! They burn!). There’s the token “less-in-shape-than-everyone-else-in-the-video” (Hi Kat!) to show you the easier versions of all the exercises. All of the workouts involve the whole body (did I mention abs?) and I never felt I was wasting my time on any of them.
The first day of workouts got off to a slow start. Determined to squeeze in all the workouts, we decided to get up a little early and workout in the morning before work. We started the DvD and I expected a boring, fairly easy workout. Yeah, I was wrong… The workouts are pretty intense (except Yoga) and I was sore following each one of them. Some involve weights and you’re supposed to have a light and heavy set. I started with just a medium set for all, but added a heavy set the last week of exercising and I felt it.
They really pack a punch in a limited amount of time, and even though I dislike exercise DvDs and would rather run, I’ll probably continue using at least the Total Body and Upper Body Fix ones to supplement my preferred cardio exercise; jogging.
While the Exercise Fix was easy to jump into, the nutrition portion took a lot of initial work and planning.
The 21 Day Fix nutrition portion uses color containers to measure your foods. Your calorie goals determine how many of each color you can eat in one day. You get one of each color with the kit. The general mantra is if you can fit it into the container, then you can eat it. (Our particular kit was missing the polka dot “doughnut” container, much to our disappointment.)
Purple = Fruit
Red= (lean) Protein
Yellow = Starches/Carbs
Blue = Cheese/Nuts
Orange = Seeds/Oil based dressings
Teaspoon = Cooking oils and peanut butter
Most diets eliminate a food group, and this one was no different. Very Low sodium/Fat, but, worst of all, was almost zero dairy. No cheese, no ranch, no creamer, no milkshakes. You were allowed to substitute a Yellow up to three times a week for treats, like a glass of milk, wine, or approved sweets. Finally, since Shakeology is intended to be part of this diet, you could substitute one shake for Red (plus purple is you mixed fruit in with it). Finally, you were supposed to avoid sugar substitutes like diet soda (guess what part I cheated on…).
It took a while to compile a first-week grocery list that included all the items we needed to eat, but eliminating the dairy that is normally a staple of our normal diet.
Since I like to find out how things work (this is the guy who once took all his Transformers apart to see how they transformed), I compiled these handy-dandy charts:
Using SCIENCE! (ie, a measuring cup and water) I figured out the portion sizes of each container. This made it much easier to cook recipes and portion out the food since there were only one of each color in the kit. I did make the dyslexic mistake of thinking it was a Tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, but realized my mistake when I pulled out a tablespoon of peanut butter and thought “this is too good to be true”.
The intention of the containers/colors is to eliminate calorie counting. I personally like calorie counting and think it’s incredibly easy to keep track of nowadays with nutritional labels and the internet, but I was determined to stick to the 21 Day Fix plan as much as possible. Assuming I’d probably over-portion a bit, I chose the 1500-1800 range (through past diets I’ve found 1800 calories to be ideal for me). After finding myself incredibly hungry on a constant basis throughout the first 4-5 days, I kept track of my calories and found I was averaging far below 1500.
I compiled an ideal daily diet according to the 21 Day Fix booklet to see how accurate the calorie ranges were:
Ideal Daily Diet (1580 Cal)
As you can see, even the ideal diet is still in the bottom of the 1500-1800 range. Even so, here was my average daily diet using my allotted colors:
My Week 1 Average Daily Diet (1280 Cal)
Multi grain bread
Peanut Butter (2)
No wonder I was hungry. A 300 calorie difference, and 600 less than my goal. I helped alleviate this by adding a Red and Yellow.
I also found I had a tendency to “color hoard”, especially during workdays, and would have a large amount of colors left by dinnertime. This left me very hungry during the day, and made it feel like I was stuffing myself at night. I shifted some colors to earlier in the day, which helped, though I was still hungry more often than not.
My 21 Days:
I followed the 21 Day Fix as strictly as possible. I think I only had two meals where I consumed more than my allotment of cheese, and drank a bit more wine, plus a couple Guinness’s (hey, it was St Patty’s Day). Even on those days, I never went over my 1800 calorie goal (I kept track of my calories on days I knew I’d be cheating). I did every workout except for subbing two runs for a Cardio and Yoga, plus a Zombie/Mud run 5K for a Legs Fix. Other than feeling a bit sore, and complaining about too many ab focused exercises, I had little trouble finding motivation for doing my daily workout.
While nutritionally I ate better, I was very hungry the majority of the 21 Day Fix. Normally my diets consist of a calorie counting, low carb approach. Since the 21 Day Fix virtually eliminates dairy, this killed many of my go-to snacks, dressings, and sauces. My low carb (under 80 grams), higher fat, calorie counting (1800) diets left me far more satisfied and more energy. It’s probably not as nutritionally sound as the 21 Day Fix diet, but it’s far more satisfying and I can sustain it longer.
While I stuck to the whole 21 days, I noticed both my girlfriend and I weakened considerably the final 7 days and it took a lot of forced motivation and support to gut it out. We were tired of being deprived of our favorite foods and felt sleeping in was a better alternative to getting up early and working out (but we did still workout in the evening).
Overall I liked the concept of the 21 Day Fix. Since it was “only” 21 days, it was easier to push through it since we both knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The exercises were challenging but not overwhelming, and that was our favorite part of the program. The nutritional part was easy once we got the hang of it, but it’s not a lifestyle either of us would be able to, or want to, live with. We plan to do another round of the 21 Day Fix, but this time we’ll count calories instead of using the color system.
My Girlfriend didn’t lose any weight, but lost 5.5 combined inches overall (Hips, thighs, waist, etc).
I lost 8 lbs and 1.5 inches from my waist (I didn’t do full body measurements)
Even with the assumption that a few lbs were water retention due to the sinfully delicious “last meal” we ate prior to the diet, those are pretty decent results for 21 days. I feel more toned than when I started and am determined to continue dieting.
If nothing else, the 21 Day Fix is a perfect way to “boot camp” your fitness/diet and either lose a few lbs or inches, or get yourself on the right track for more weight-loss and/or a fitter/toner body.