Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Getting Beasty: My Weight Loss Journey Pt. 2

The first part to this post left off in July of 2016, so I will pick up where I left off!  I was 10 months postpartum and was down about 35 pounds from my full-term weight. I felt good, but wanted to push through my 4 month plateau and tone up. I had done a little running, a little spin bike, and was doing some targeted free weight workouts I had pinned on Pinterest, but was not seeing much for results.  Enter Sagi Kalev and the Body Beast program.

Body Beast is a weightlifting program with a macro-nutrient based meal plan.  A friend who is a Beachbody coach gifted it to me (shameless plug for her - visit Sam and Josh here on Facebook) and it sat on my shelf for about 4 months before I finally bit the bullet to commit. The program kit comes with a variety of workouts on DVD, a workout schedule, and a guidebook to walk you through it, including the accompanying meal plan.

I usually don't like to follow meal plans... I don't know if it's because I'm too much of a control freak or just a bit of a rebel... but this time around I committed to following the meal plan as closely as possible.

You can choose between the "ripped" or "mass" calorie plan, with the former being more geared to getting lean and the latter to bulking up.  There is a calculation based on your gender, weight, activity level, and body fat percentage that determines how many calories you will be allotted.

I chose the ripped calorie plan and was allowed 2200 calories a day for the first 8 weeks of the program. First off, can I just say, "Hallelujah", because that number is about 1000 calories more than what many other programs would have given me!

Each calorie plan is divided into six food categories and you are assigned the number of servings for each category. For me this was:  Starches - 5, Legumes - 3, Vegetables - 5, Fruits - 5, Proteins - 10, and Fats - 5.  There are also a few supplements that they recommend included in every plan, but I did not take any supplements.

There are a number of things I liked about the Body Beast meal plan. A few of my top favorites were:
1. Counting categories was easier for me than counting calories

2. By counting categories instead of calories, I was eating a more balanced diet.

3. By planning ahead, I was able to eat most of what I wanted.

4. Did I mention 2200 calories!?  I didn't feel deprived on this plan and was not hungry.

It took a little getting used to, but counting categories was soon second nature. I started by food journaling, transitioned to logging on a spreadsheet on my phone, and eventually didn't need to food log at all.

I do better when I have less options, so my typical breakfast was usually one of the following:
  • 1 cup steel cut oats with honey, cinnamon, and fruit 
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with honey, cinnamon, and fruit
  • Egg scramble (because I suck at making omelettes!) with 1 egg plus 3 egg whites, cheese, and veggies with a slice of toast
*I read something once that talked about the benefits of consuming cinnamon and honey together on a daily basis and took it as the gospel truth.  Now I'm just addicted to the combo!* 

For lunch, I typically had one of the following:
"Sweet Tooth Salad" - Mixed greens, apples, Craisins, raisins, cucumber, cheese, candied pecans, and a homemade balsamic dressing

Burrito Bowl - Brown rice, black beans, corn, sauteed peppers and onions, chicken, salsa, and plain Greek yogurt

3 Pickle Roll-ups (piece of lunch meat wrapped around half a cheese stick and a pickle) with veggies and hummus, fruit, and cottage cheese

*I swapped out sour cream for plain Greek yogurt because they literally taste the exact same and I could count it as a protein instead of a fat.  Also Hidden Valley sells ranch dip packets that you mix with Greek yogurt and it is amaze-balls.  I used it for veggie dip or on my salad - again counting it as a protein instead of a fat* 

And for supper, I had whatever I was making for supper with my family.  It is really important to me that my kids don't gain a warped view on what is "healthy" due to me eating differently than them.  It's one thing to have a different breakfast or lunch, my kids just chalk that up to mommy loving salad, but at dinner we all sit down together so I wanted to eat with them.  I exercised portion control where necessary, but pretty much ate everything that was served.

Depending on how my daily menu worked out, I had 1-3 snacks.  I rarely snacked between breakfast and lunch because we eat lunch at 11 so there isn't much time!  I always snacked between lunch and supper because let's get real, 6+ hours is a long stretch without food! And I had an after supper snack about 50% of the time.  Snacks were filling up the categories I hadn't yet maxed out on, so they were often fruit, veggies, or protein, but some of my favorite go to's were:
  • "Trail Mix" - peanuts, craisins/raisins, and mini M&Ms
  • Banana ice cream - Frozen bananas blended with cocoa powder and mini M&Ms
  • Fruit with Greek yogurt dip - Greek yogurt, peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon
Clearly, I am a bit of sweet tooth, and no, M&Ms were not on the meal plan.  However, I find that a little goes a long way with the mini version and it satisfied my sweet tooth cravings. I sometimes counted them as a starch but usually just allowed it as a freebie.  Other freebies I didn't count were honey, pickles, mustard, spices, balsamic, garlic, and the candy coating on my pecans!   Also peanuts were not listed in the guidebook as legumes, but I counted them as that since that is technically what they are.  Like I said, I'm kind of a rebel. :)

The meal plan changed to a low carb/high protein diet after the first 8 weeks of the program.  The workouts changed at the same time to incorporate more cardio.  This is because the last four weeks, or the "Beast Phase", is designed around cutting and is "where you'll shred your last vestiges of body fat and get ready to pose down".  I clearly was not preparing for a body building competition, but wanted to follow the program so I switched over.  

Truth be told, this girl is not made for a low carb diet.  I had zero issues with the first part of the meal plan and plan to stick to it for the rest of my life because it is just that maintainable.  However, the last part of the meal plan was more challenging.  I got through it, but will probably not do it again.

To be fair, when I say I had zero issues with the first part, that is not to say I didn't cheat!  I had a designated cheat meal each week, which sometimes turned into a cheat day.  I also cheated on non-cheat days at times!  I refuse to eat light when I go out to eat, because I do it so rarely.  I also was not about to miss out on fair food!  Plus, I camped for 2 weeks at a campground that boasts the best hard ice cream in homemade waffle cones, so clearly I got one at least every other day!  But the thing about lifting weights is, as long as I didn't fall of the healthy eating wagon too long and continued working out regardless of my diet status, it didn't affect my progress!

I had already purchased 3 sets of free weights - 3#, 5#, and 8#, and my hubby had a weight bench and resistance band, so I was pretty much set to go.  I eventually got an exercise ball when my hubby started doing the workouts with me and moved up into his weights when my weak little muscles got a little stronger.  

Like the meal plan, the weightlifting program had two options, "Lean Beast" or "Huge Beast".  I went with the former.  Throughout the program, you exercise 6 days a week, with one rest day.  The first 3 weeks of the program is called "BUILD" and you focus on different body part combinations each day - Back/Bis, Chest/Tris, Shoulders, Legs, and Cardio/Abs.  The videos are 38-50 minutes in length and include 9-11 exercises that you usually do 15, 12, and 8 reps of, increasing your weight as the reps go down.  Sometimes you would combine two or three exercises into a "Super Set" or "Giant Set", sometimes you would add on a "drop-set" of 8 more reps at a lower weight.  

After the first three weeks, you transition into the "BULK" phase which lasts 5 weeks.  The workouts for this phase are singularly focused - Arms, Back, Chest, Shoulders, Legs, and the same Cardio/Abs as before.  The length shortened a little with videos lasting 29-41 minutes and the number of exercises per workout reduced to 7-8.  The reps were similar to before with the addition of a "Progressive Set" which has you start like usual (15 reps - light weight, 12 reps - medium weight, 8 reps - heavy weight) and then reverse it, decreasing weight and increasing reps back to the beginning.  There was also a force set, 5 sets of 5 reps, added.  

The final "BEAST" phase of the workout program changes in conjunction with the meal plan switching to low carb/high protein.  These last four weeks incorporate more cardio and switch between the workout videos used in the first two phases.

Overall, I really liked the workouts.  Something about weight-lifting feels easier than other workouts to me. Not to say it isn't challenging physically, but mentally it is easier to do 3 sets of reps of an exercise and then move on, versus a high intensity plyo workout.  Not to say the latter isn't needed, it is incorporated into the cardio workout to a degree, but I just found myself less likely to dread a workout and more excited to check it off my list of things to do.

I didn't miss a single workout for the first 8 or 9 weeks, despite camping for 3 of them.  I was able to print off the workout list that you are supposed to record your weights on and do the workouts in my camper.  In the final 3 weeks, I had started two new jobs and missed at least one workout each week. It bothered me to not stick to it 100%, but I just couldn't swing it!  

With this program you are supposed to take photos and mark down your measurements and weight before beginning and after completing the program.  I also took weight and measurements after each phase, and intended to take photos as well, but didn't take any after the BUILD phase.

Although I saw a ton of change in the definition of my upper body, my measurements did not change for my arms or chest.  The area that needed the most toning up was my lower half and that is where I DID lose inches. 

On July 11th, I weighed 145.4.  Measurements - Waist-29", Hips-40", Thigh-23.75" each
On Aug. 1st, I weighed 142.0.   Measurements - Waist-28", Hips-40", Thigh-23" each
On Sept. 5th, I weighed 138.6.  Measurements - Waist-27.5", Hips-38.5", Thigh-23" each
On Oct. 3rd, I weighed 133.2.   Measurements - Waist-27", Hips-37.5", Thigh-22.5" each

In 12 weeks, overall weight lost = 12.2 lbs.  Total inches lost = 7".  My BMI started at 22.1 and ended at 20.5

I am super excited about what this program was able to accomplish in 12 weeks and I intend to do another round of the program.  My goal this time around is to maintain my weight, but continue toning up - specifically the lower half!  I will stay in the original meal plan for the duration of the program, and have called upon the wisdom of my Beachbody Coach friend, Sam to design a workout schedule that incorporates a little more cardio and rotates between the BUILD and BULK workout videos.  She is also my go to person when I start to lose motivation or need some extra encouragement, because not all of your friends want to hear about your diet and exercise successes and shortcomings!  I highly recommend her to you if you are looking for a coach, or even if you just want to learn more!

A friend on Instagram did a side by side of her before and after picture and I thought it was really cool to see her progress in this way.  My journey started over a year ago so the photo on the left is my 1 month postpartum photo where I weighed in at 164.4.  The photo on the right was my final photo after completing Body Beast where I weighed in at 132.2.

I also tried to layer my after photo over my before photo to get a visual of how the weight loss was distributed across my body.  The shadow you see is my before photo.

Thanks for letting me share my journey with you and get some accountability in the process!!

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