One of my main motivations for challenging myself to do Joe Wicks’ 90 Day SSS Plan was to learn some new habits. I’ve always loved sport and exercise, but after having a bulging disc and then the operation to sort it, my fitness routine had taken a bit of a battering. Selling our house and moving back to the UK had played havoc with my diet too. Normally a healthy eater, who likes treats on the weekend and special occasions, I had got into the habit of eating a 100g bar of chocolate before 5pm every day. Apart from anything else, it was getting expensive!
You may be the same as me, busy and distracted by being as good a mum as you can? Doing something that is good for your well-being often comes second to putting the needs of your children and husband first. You know you need to look after yourself so you’re in a good place to look after your loved ones, but it takes discipline to actually do it. Simple truth is that there has to be balance in your life, which means sometimes you need to channel your efforts into you. For me, signing up to this was a way of swinging the pendulum over to my side. For my birthday I asked for this and vouchers so I could have facials as rewards at each milestone. There is some financial investment (£125 for 90 Day SSS Plan + £180 for three facials) but the biggest investment is from me; every day to eat well and be active.
This is why I chose to do this: I wanted the structure, I wanted an end goal to aim for, I wanted to try something new, I wanted to learn, I wanted to see some muscles!
Halfway in, here are the things I have learnt/taken from it so far:
- To lean up and see muscle, you need to up your protein. I’d always considered a high protein diet to be for men wanting to get buff so you would NEVER see me tipping protein powder in my smoothies. I realise now, that when the increase in protein is in a balanced diet that isn’t also full of sugary and fatty foods, and you’re working out regularly, you get lean muscles. No bulk. No thunder thighs.
- You have to look at every meal, as a meal. Normally I would consider dinner at 6pm with the family, as The Meal of the day. Breakfast and lunch were quick food stops that simply filled a hole. Lunch would often be missed and I would just graze through the day. Grazing doesn’t work for me, because I lose awareness of what is going in. The stretch from 4pm to 6pm would be my worst time for chocolate and crisps consumption. I’ve learnt to respect each meal of the day as an opportunity to get all the good things in and you know what, I haven’t missed grazing at all.
- Carbohydrate doesn’t need to be in every meal. On this plan, carbohydrate consumption relates to exercise. Essentially you have to work for your bread! I suspected that the large pasta, rice, bread element of our meals was probably not ideal or necessary, for me and Gareth. We have lots of meals now where there is no carbohydrate at all, just protein and tons of vegetables. I’ve never felt hungry after any of my meals.
- Anyone who knows me, knows I have a sweet tooth. Sugar doesn’t really feature in this plan. You can only have one piece of fruit per day. I have no intention of keeping to this once I am off the plan, but I hope that in 90 days my body will get used to a low amount of sugar per day so treats become a weekly event, instead of daily.
- To help keep on plan, Pepsi Max has come back into my diet. I know, I know – diet drinks are of the devil (although actually they aren’t, see here). I called the Body Coach support crew about this and was surprised when they said it was an acceptable way of managing the sweet cravings. Of course they encourage you to have as little as possible, mainly because fizzy drinks aren’t good for your tummy. For the purposes of this plan it’s a lesser evil than other things, but when dark chocolate is back on the menu I’ll be shunning the aspartame.
- What I eat has a bigger impact on my body than the exercise I do. Exercise is important and necessary (see next point), but it is the input not the output that makes the difference. I’ve always exercised but my body shape never really changes and since having babies, just upping exercise doesn’t equal trimming down. Less carbohydrates, no sugar and more protein is giving me a leaner body. Fact.
- As I get older I realise that being fit is not as much for the aesthetics, as it is for my quality and length of life. I want my heart, lungs, mind and bones to get me to a ripe old age. Exercise isn’t a guarantee to a long life but it ups your chances of getting past 80, which is where I want to be when I say goodbye to this life on earth. Apparently lifting weights is key for us ladies who start losing bone density once we get into our middle life (check out this article), so buy yourself some dumbbells and pump some iron four times a week ladies.
- My shape is tall and athletic. I have broad shoulders, a wide rib cage and no boobs to speak of. I am built for running, not burlesque dancing. My limbs are long, which is lovely thank you God, but I’ve always had a tummy that sticks out and at my heavier times, creeps over my waistband. I envy friends who have curves with a small waist line and when I stand to the side, I would love to not look four months pregnant. I don’t know if I actually will get a flat tummy as I keep going, but for the first time in a long time, I don’t have a muffin top in my jeans and I don’t have to keep billowing my tops out when I sit down as a way of disguising my pot belly. I can feel muscle is under there and maybe, just maybe it will be visible in 45 days time. Crop tops will not be returning to my wardrobe, but the tucked shirt into a pair of fitted trousers may make an appearance.
- I’m not bored on this plan. I thought I would get sick of eating healthy all the time. I did get a bit over the recipes provided in Cycle One, so it’s good to be in the phase where you can make up your meals. I’ve been buying recipe books that are more focussed on healthy eating and I’m looking forward to being fully in control. Sure I’m going to bring back chocolate and sweets but I’m preparing to have an 80% lean diet, not just for me either. Less sweets in the house is good for everyone!
- Supplements do make a difference. Everyone is different and your body may lack or need different things to what mine does. I’d been suffering from sore boobs all the month long. I even went to the GP about it. She suggested Starflower Oil and my mum already had me on Evening Primose Oil. These taken every day, possibly combined with a lower intake of sugar, has meant I’m not even getting sore boobs before my period – nice. I also take Omega 3 and a probiotic, the latter of which I think has really helped to look after my digestive system, again combined with no dairy, less sugar and little caffeine. Happy tummy.
I think the big take-away so far from the 90 Day SSS Plan is that whilst this feels like a big commitment, coming from a place where I wasn’t really focussing on my health much at all. It is teaching me that it’s actually pretty straight forward to eat well and small changes on a daily basis make a big difference to your body.