My 6-Week WTF Fitness-Food Challenge is still going… and is a partially-awesome-partially-happy fail. Yep and yay!
So… many of you know from Instagram… I embarked on a bit of a “challenge” starting last week. I did. And a challenge it was. But not for the reasons you might think.
I did not crave sugar. I did not miss alcohol. I did not regret my life after the intense and challenging workout sessions. No no.
Before I explain how it went and why i’ve made the decisions I’ve made, let me describe it to you what it is.
On this Food-Fitness 6-Week WTF Challenge the following is required:
–>> Serious fat loss: 20 pounds or 6% of your body fat in 6 weeks
–>> Intense crossfit-style workouts (kinda) 3x a week or 18x within the 6 weeks
Okay so I signed up. I figured it MUST be attainable for some people because there were definite testimonials from past participants — but I couldn’t imagine how that could be accomplished. If anything…I was damn curious.
But I joined for two reasons: To support my boyfriend in his desire to do it, and to get back into a fitness routine (because my occasional yoga or tennis was not cutting it for my heart or my brain).
Seemed reasonable. BUT THEN…
Then we went for the “weigh-in”. And we were then handed our diet outline for the next six weeks. WHAAAAAT? DIET? I don’t do diets. And with the hand-out was an explanation that the diet was 80% of the challenge — and that’s where the results were going to come from. Oh really?
On this diet…I am not allowed to eat fat. NO FAT. None. No oil in my salad dressing. No skin on my chicken. No yolk in my egg. NO AVOCADO!!!!!
All of the things I’ve ever believed in when it comes to food and nutrition and LIVING…thrown out the window.
So I began this program feeling a little (a lot) weird about it. It wasn’t that I was afraid to do it. I can eat cleaner than most people very easily. I know how to meal prep and I can make something delicious out of almost anything. It was the physiological stuff that was doing me in. Knowing what this diet was REALLY about.
Is this safe? How will this affect me long term? Do I need to lose weight? Why?
This desire to become strong and fit and feel good and healthy was suddenly and almost instantly replaced with the obsession of diet and food. How can one truly focus on both?
I can totally do this diet. But I don’t want to.
So why am I not following this crazy food plan?
Expensive (and it ain’t no grass-fed, organic butter)
This crap is expensive. Do you know how difficult it is for me to spend that kind of money on what I consider to be low-quality food? Expensive protein isolate powder. Fat-free cottage cheese and fat-free greek yogurt. Cans and cans of tuna. Breast and breasts of chicken (without the best part — skin).
My True Love (other than Malcolm)
Black coffee is only ever going to be “okay” in my books. Coffee with cream is next-level. Steamed milk with a touch of coconut oil with espresso is perfection. And sometimes the first thing you experience in the morning IS the most important part of your day. Tone set.
Fuck Fat Free
Obsessing over any way of eating is ultimately unhealthy. But cutting out a macronutrient (in this case fat) from a food plan is fucking dumb — cause macronutrients are all essential. Yes there are food plans (like GAPS or keto or gall bladder diets, etc.) that sometimes require you to give up a macronutrient, to some extent, for a period of time — for HEALING purposes — i just don’t believe weight loss is one of those reasons. Weight loss is about a long-term LIFESTYLE change. Otherwise, as we all know… you just gain it back. Or have to go forever without putting delicious cream in your coffee. I go on a more detailed rant about fat HERE.
Glorious Harvest Season
No EFFING WAY i’m giving up carrots and beets and eggplant and during HARVEST SEASON. Good lord. Nothing could make me more miserable. Honesty. You’re also missing out on what nutrients those delicious rainbow-coloured foods have to offer. I love green stuff. But I love the red and orange and purple and blue stuff too.
Too Much Food (of low-quality)
I was eating SO MUCH FOOD. Wow. And I’d feel disgustingly full. And then i’d be hungry within an hour or two. I guess this is when we were supposed to have a protein shake — not made from real food, but as an isolate that removes fat, carbs, everything. And choking that stuff down? It’s not easy. (And can I please add that stevia is the grossest tasting “sweet alternative” ever — regardless of how natural it is.)
Too much MEAT (IMO). And if you eat plant-based you’re a little bit screwed on this plan. You will need to eat a LOT of vegetables to make up for the lack of protein options. And all that soy? BRUTAL! The carb options are very low, which eliminates using many legumes and grains to source your protein. It would be EXTRA challenging as a vegetarian or vegan to eat healthy and balanced.
My Poor Bowels
Oh jeez. All of this crazy switch-up of eating. From my Dump-food, to an indulgent birthday weekend, to this no-fat crazy thing, to another indulgent weekend, to now. My body is in total: “Wtf Sara, stop it” mode. And my bowels are like: “Listen girl, if you don’t stop this insanity we are going to make you suffer.” I haven’t brought this one up on the 6-Week Challenge FB group yet. haha.
Oh yeah…that’s another thing about me — I can’t eat the same foods and dishes over and over and over. I did get very creative with the options we had to work with. But I’m sure by week three I would have been LOSING IT. I have always appreciated the beautiful array of ingredient options at my constant creative fingertips. Please don’t take it away. Sob!
Instinct is REAL and RIGHT and TRUE
Nothing about this diet felt right. For someone like me, who has spent YEARS trying various diets, experimenting (to my detriment), and honing in on what I know is good for my body and brain (and soul), everything about this didn’t feel right. I knew I’d get myself into trouble.
Or…maybe I’m just a control freak?!
Besides…I went away for the weekend. I gave myself a green light. And I think I may have eaten my weight in avocados. That’s the other side. It’ll lead to binging. Even if they’re only avocados — and eggs with yolks. (Okay, there may have been tequila, too.)
Why was it a good experience?
Awareness Is Always Rad
Doing this made me more conscious of booze and calories and fat (particularly the first one, as it’s summer patio season extraordinaire). I do believe I was already doing the awareness thing with the 3-week Dump I embarked on — awareness of what was going in my food world, and making sure my food world was of quality. This diet also made me aware that not eating fat made me miserable and gave me insight into the kinds of foods people must crave when trying to go fat-free.
I recipe-developed the shit out of that food list. This was a fun challenge for me, but also rather useful for clients that have a limited amount of fat they’re able to eat. So that always feels good.
Off My Butt
Honestly, I have really enjoyed the workouts. I mean, they’re hard — but they’re REALLY good. I’m not into extreme stuff and these workouts come with the perfect balance of motivation, encouragement, knowledge-backed instruction, not too easy at all (which is what I need), but not so insane it’s undoable (and all levels welcome). The thing I’ve learned as I get a bit older — I don’t push myself if I don’t have to. And when you’ve got trainers (who actually know what they’re doing) encouraging you, and other participants around you working hard, it is impossible not to just go for it. And it feels good. I was always a solo worker-outer — and while I still prefer that for a few reasons, I have so appreciated the support and accountability of a group — and ten workout time-options a day to choose from.
So now what? Am I out $600? Probably. But…I’m going to keep moving my body. And I’m going to keep eating great food — and be conscious.
But the things I’m not doing going forward:
Obsessively counting my calories
Drinking 2-4 protein isolate shakes a day
Eating eggs without the yolk (ever again ever)
Eating keto (the other option they gave me — again, I’m not cutting out carbs)
Removing avocado from my diet (honestly the stupidest thing I have ever agreed to do)
Removing ANYTHING fruit or vegetable related
Signing up for something I know in my heart is wrong
Macronutrients — What On The What?
So why is fat so important? READ THAT HERE
So what is the problem with reducing or removing carbs? Hmmmm. Weeeeeellllll…. READ THAT HERE
And what about all that additional protein? Ha. READ THAT HERE, TOO
I have no doubt this program works as it is designed to do. But at what cost? Massive, fast weight loss? Serious calorie reduction? Cutting out of macro-nutrients that we NEED to thrive? We all know what happens once it’s over. (And I ALSO can’t afford to mess with my hormones like that anymore. I’m in my 40’s, dudes.)
ON A SURPRISING SIDE-NOTE: The owners of this gym are a sweet and fabulous young couple. And they are definitely body builders — and I can certainly see how hard they work. I understand why they’ve chosen the diets they have to use with their clients. I don’t agree with it. But I get it — and I don’t HAVE to agree with it. It’s a one-size fits all style of eating that works for some bodybuilders and is likely about a million times better than what many people eat. No McDonald’s take-out. No chocolate cake. But it isn’t sustainable unless this is your whole life. (And I’m happy to say it’s not mine.) I have obvious doubts about posting this because I think, as they tweak their business model, and learn (as we all do — especially about food and diets) that they will only improve — and will remain sweet and awesome and offer great workouts.
But I have a duty to share my thoughts with you, as my people. Because:
A) Have you ever known me not to speak my mind about something I feel strongly about?
B) I must have confused the hell out of you for embarking on this — and I’m sorry for that.
Ultimately, I did this for my sweetheart and for a new adventure. But I also did it for self-love (because frankly I was out of shape) and I did it for my love of my real food business (so I keep learning), and food, and YOU…so you know what NOT to do. No regrets. It was only a week. And…it only cost me $600. haha. (Gulp.)
The question always remains: Is it sustainable?
Is rapid weight-loss healthy? And at what cost are you doing this — what else is missing from you diet that you need to maintain a healthy life? And mostly… does it make you happy? Because the one thing I have learned for CERTAIN, in the world of nutrition and food, is that if you aren’t happy or finding a mental balance in your life, then it doesn’t much matter what you eat. Period!
Now come back in four more weeks for PART TWO. I will share with you my exact results. I will share with you what I did. I will be blunt. I will be honest. I will probably use swear words. And I will probably be a goofball. Oh yes, you know I will.