If you’re anything like me, you’ve been through a few different patterns since March last year. In lockdown No.1, I was working at my local shop and decided to start running, so I was able to stay pretty active. Lockdown No.2 however, was a different story. It consisted of being stuck in a flat, online uni driving me crazy, and I developed some particularly bad habits (like eating Biscoff spread directly out of the jar…).
So, in February I decided I needed something to help me snap out of my bad eating and inconsistent exercise routine, and I signed up for the Joe Wicks 90-day plan. Here I am, 90 days later, having just completed the programme!
How does it work?
There are three 30-day cycles within the plan. I did five workouts a week, with 25-minute cardio and bodyweight workouts in cycle one, 30-minute strength training workouts in cycle two, and 35-minute combinations of cardio, abs, bodyweight and strength training in cycle three.
For each cycle, I was sent a combination of reduced carb and carb refuel recipes, with instructions on when to eat which meal. Each day I was able to eat two healthy snacks and drank at least two-and-a-half litres of water. I was able to choose when in the day I wanted to work out and developed a routine of exercising in the evening so I could have the carb refuel meals for dinner (yum!).
I’ll be honest, in the first week I didn’t think I was going to make it through. The workouts were okay (despite a noise complaint from a grumpy neighbour), but the food plan felt complicated and overwhelming, and as a student, WAY over budget. As much as Joe says that anyone can live healthily, this plan has definitely cost me more than the sign-up fee of £67.
But I stayed consistent, made adaptations, and tried to stick to the meal plans and build healthier habits. The further in I got, the more I believed that I could do it, and here I am, 90 days later, having just about made it through.
I’ve stopped boredom snacking (studying at home can be dangerous) and have still been able to enjoy my food. Recipes like the spicy chicken pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese have been a real lifesaver. I’ve also been lucky enough to have my boyfriend supporting me through the plan, eating the dinners, and doing all the workouts with me. If you do decide to do the plan, get a buddy to sign up with you, and you can hold each other to account. Plus, workouts are much more fun together.
Another unexpected challenge was getting hold of weights during lockdown. I wasn’t convinced that weights would suit me, so I didn’t want to fork out upwards of £80 for a decent set of weights, however everywhere budget-friendly seemed to be sold out! So, improvising, I managed to get hold of a set of water weights online, which, whilst not the most aesthetically pleasing, do the job just fine.
The only problem I had with this, was that Joe encouraged using different sets of dumbbells for different exercises and was constantly saying that to progress you needed to increase the weights – all very well when you’re kitted out with a home gym, but I made do with what I had, and I have definitely seen a change.
Workout wise, if I’m honest, I have started to hate the sound of Joe’s voice probably as much as I now hate mountain climbers! I stuck to the HIIT sessions each week, occasionally opting for a 5K run instead. It has been great to see my fitness improve – I started out doing press-ups from the knees, and now can manage full press-ups, plus I’ve just achieved my fastest 5K time. Now, I’m going to explore other exercise options, continue to improve my running, and most of all just make sure that I’m consistently pushing myself.
In terms of feeling more comfortable in my own skin, unfortunately, the plan has had the opposite effect. Despite the positive messages, and the fact that I know I am making changes for the better (my skinny jeans are SO much more comfortable now), I am more unhappy with myself than ever. All this focus on nutrition and seeing posts about the amazing transformations people have gone through on the plan is making me obsess over everything that I still want to change.
But it is important to see how far I have come as well. Just because I still hate my stomach (I’m sure many can relate) doesn’t mean this plan hasn’t done amazing things for me. I am stronger and leaner, and will hopefully have a much better outlook towards healthy eating and exercise…once I have caught up on my stash of Easter eggs.
This plan has definitely shown me that consistency is key, and that is the approach I will be taking in the future.
By Frankie Galton