8 weeks ago I embarked on my first F45 challenge. For those that haven’t heard of F45, it is, at it’s core, a high intensity circuit training workout, that is franchised around the globe. The challenge has it’s members following a meal plan, participating in classes and being supported by trainers, articles and of course an app. I was inspired by the results one of my closest friends had achieved in the previous challenge, she not only won the challenge for our local club but her physical transformation was really impressive. My reasons for entering the challenge were:
- Eating cleaner
- Being more prepared with lunches so I didn’t buy them all the time
- Having something other than peanut butter toast for breakfast
- Drinking less alcohol
- Eating less sugar especially chocolate
- Be lighter and leaner for my ultra-marathon (100km)
- Be stronger so that I had less aches and pains and can jump around with and carry the kids – Monty is 14kg and still likes to be picked up a lot.
- Be healthier for my 40th than I was for my 30th birthday
In preparation for the challenge, I made sure Eliot was on board. I couldn’t have done it without his help and support. One, because he cooks most of the dinners in our house and two, he’s my cheer squad, I need him to spur me on when things get tough. I also binged on a ridiculous amount of burgers, nachos, boozy drinks, chocolate and cakes before I started. I felt pretty darn gross before that first scan and taking the before photos was an exercise I’d rather not repeat.
The first few days were rough. Headaches, being light headed and cranky as all heck. I also felt quite overwhelmed about how much of my brain space it was taking and time for preparation. I was determined to stick with it though, within reason.
Throughout the challenge I didn’t follow the meal plans to the letter and had a number of nights where I went out and indulged. It’s worthy to note that the meals themselves are actually quite tasty and I’ve pinned some of them to become family favourites. There are a few ingredients which I would consider fashionable at the moment. As an example, coconut oil features a lot and I know it is really popular but it is high in saturated fats so I replaced it with olive oil in a lot of recipes. Just be wary and make sure you use your judgement about what you put in your mouth.
I committed to doing 3 x F45 sessions a week. Most people doing the challenge usually do a couple more but I was also training for my ultra so had to fit in long runs. I never missed a Monday though, even after a 5 hour run in the Dandenong Ranges.
All in all, I’m really happy with my results. I dropped 5% body fat and maintained my lean muscle. Other than the numbers from the body scans, I noticed a number of other interesting things, some expected, some not.
- More energy – drinking less alcohol and eating better definitely made it easier to get out of bed to get to my 5.30am sessions
- Better posture and less neck and shoulder pain – building my upper body strength did wonders for the back and neck pain I used to get.
- I felt more resilient and stable in my moods after the first few days. This was true for my health too, I didn’t get hit with the viral colds that the kids brought home from childcare
- I took a minute off my personal best time at park run.
- The kids ate a lot of what we ate for dinner and I was surprised at some of the things they liked. We did add more carbohydrates to their meals – they’re carb monsters.
- We significantly reduced our meat portion sizes and cut out a heap of carbs and dairy and I didn’t miss it. Even cutting out cheese toasties wasn’t a big deal! (My nickname from Carley is QT – short for Queen Toastie)
- I still had after dinner sweet cravings but I replaced the block of chocolate with strawberries, Avalanche Hot Chocolate or a bliss ball. The choices I made were better.
- A bag of almonds lasts a LOT longer these days. Counting out 5 almonds for a snack at the time felt silly but it really is all you need.
- Initially I ended up going to the grocery store almost every day then we switched to getting groceries delivered twice a week. It took a bit more thought to plan it out but worked much better than one big shop and lots of little ones.
- Weird stuff
- It’s more difficult to shave my armpits – the increase in my lats muscles mean my armpits are deeper and harder to get at
- My necklace is longer – I must have lost some neck circumference.
- My shoes, particularly my ballet flats fall off more – toned my feet?
Post challenge, I was in two minds as to whether I would head straight out and devour a burger. I ended up opting for nachos and I must say I regretted it. I felt lethargic and bloated afterwards! So I’m back on to clean eating and it agrees with me so much more. I did enjoy a colleagues birthday cake though!
As with any kind of fitness or diet program, you should consult your health professional before embarking on it. F45 and the F45 Challenge worked for me. I’m addicted to the style of activity and the recipes were really quite delicious. I will continue to train with them as long as I can.