f45 8 week fitness challenge, day 1 out of 56
14 Oct 2019
Fitness is to me a keystone habit. A keystone habit is a regular action that naturally leads to other positive habits. When you exercise a lot, you have to design your environment to make this easier. So you go to bed earlier, you are more likely to want to eat better, go outside and be social.
F45 is a high intensity, functional group training program. Each session runs for 45 minutes, and you can go to as many sessions as you want to a week. 3-5 are encouraged weekly for this 8 week challenge.
Before signing up for the 8 week challenge, I attended six sessions to see if it was a right fit for me. Which is important. You have to find a fitness class that works for you. Here are the reasons why I think it is a right fit for me personally:
- The sessions are very fast paced. There isn't time for me to 'give up', because by the time you reach that point it's time to move on to the next exercise. That is an advantage over running for me.
- There is a huge variety of exercises. No two sessions are the same, and most of them are wildly different in terms of how many different types of exercises we do and in terms of the exercises themselves. Great ideas to bring home too.
- The intensity of the exercises are up to you. So even if you are having a really bad, low energy day, you can make a session. For the most part though, the enviroment and energy there is infectious, so chances are you'll want to do more. Even better.
- The support is incredible. It's obvious the trainers care about helping people. They gently correct form, made me as an anxious beginner actually want to stay instead of run away. There is also a Whatsapp group for the challenge. It's only day one and there has been a ton of encouragement, advice asked and recieved, meel prep images and general kindness. It's lovely.
To make the most of this opportunity, I'm going to keep a live-journal of how the challenge goes. As per my usual style of live-journalling, I will be capturing the process, highlighting helpful and actionable advice, and identifying areas to improve on.
I decided to follow the meal plan exactly. There is an option to buy the meals ready made, but at $250, I decided to buy the ingredients and cook them myself (though having it all cooked for you can be worth the cost in time saved).
To keep the cost down, everything I could bulk buy in terms of dry and freezable goods, I did. I'm guessing most of those will transfer over to the following weeks. For the first week, I paid $308.74 for everything on the shopping list for two people. The cost should be much lower over the remaining weeks because of all the bulk bought items. You might have many of the condiments and herbs already, we were basically starting from scratch.
We spent Saturday night cooking all of the breakfasts for the week, and most of Sunday night cooking as many of the lunches and dinners we could. We didn't manage to cook all of them, but theres only a few days worth left to make and that's pretty managable. We froze most of them, and stored chopped veggies in portioned tubs filled with water to keep them fresh.
Exercise helper plan
To help myself find it easier to stick to the challenge, I created a planner sheet, which you can see below. There are a lot of psychological reward system tricks packed into this one, or at least, tricks that work for me.
The entire 8 week plan is on a single page. This is so that I can see in a glance what has been done, and what is left to do. A big picture view helps me to stay motivated, especially when I don't have to flip back to see my goals, inspirational quotes and progress.
I aim to do 5 sessions a week, one every weekday and the weekend for recovery. I opted for every weekday because during my trial sessions, I kept on saying to myself "If I skip today, I can do it tomorrow instead". This way, my rest days are set and my mindset is solidified around the idea that weekdays are training days.
There is a grid of 5 squares by 8, which represents 5 sessions a week for 8 weeks. When I complete a session, I get to colour in a square. This is similar to a child getting to put a star on a calendar for doing their homework, it works.
There is a before and after measurements section. The weight value is least important to me. The measurements give you a better idea of the progress you are making, especially as muscle is denser than fat, which the scales are unable to distinguish between. I'm not going to take measurements anywhere but at the start and end, so that there is no opportunity for me to get demotivated by numbers. Also, it'll make the surprise of the final results more impactful because you won't have seen the little leaps in progress along the way, it'll just be one big giant leap.
There is also a square for every day of the challenge where I can colour in how many liters of water I have drunk, whether I exercised (F45 or a 5k plus walk), whether I slept well and what my mood was. These are consistent with some of the things tracked on the challenge app, but I wanted to make them a little more visible in one easily accessible page.
There is a goals section, which includes three very specific overarching goals that I want to acheive by the end of this challenge. I'll be setting mini goals for each session too.
With the goals in mind, there is also a section where I write down a few actionably things I can do to make it easier to stick to the challenge, in accordance to my goals. Some examples include setting an alarm to remind me to go to bed, fill up my water bottle halfway and freeze overnight, meal prepping and finding out train times instead of just winging it.
There is a lot going on in this page, but it is super tailored to my own personality and what works for me. Which is key throughout this challenge. If you are struggling at any point, take a bit of time to ask yourself why instead of beating yourself up, and brainstorm ways to make it easier for yourself. Better to make the challenge too easy than not.
DAY 1 OF 56
Oh wow, today was tough. Tougher than usual. We all got a message in Whatsapp telling us that there was a surprise for todays session. No it wasn't cake (cry cry). When we book our classes in the app, we get an overview of what to expect. Last night, the session we thought we were doing was switched out to a session known as "The Playoffs"
The session is designed to test your current fitness level, so is pretty intense. We all got given a little form to fill in, where we recorded what weights we used and how many reps we did for each of the 10 exercise stations, for a period of 45s per station.
At the end of the 8 week challenge, there will be an optional 'redo' of this challenge, in public on or near the Harbour bridge (I think), which is where the idea of "Playoff" comes in, as it is a competition. It's also a kind of "Playoff" against your former self. By the end of this challenge, we should be able to run rings around our newbie challenger selves. So the form was a good way to track progress.
Exercises I loved
My favourite exercises (or the ones I found easiest) from this session were the rowing machine, the squats with a medicine ball that you then throw over your shoulder, and the bar weights that you do a squat with, stand up and lift over your head, and repeat.
Exercises I struggled with
Most of them. Burpees, jumping back and forth over a bench, hopping over hurdles, push ups with your feet in mini feet hammocks and more. I am very much not a gazelle in this place. I have to do modified (half versions) of some of the exercises because I can't even do one of the whole ones properly yet.
Oddly, I don't mind at all how much I have to learn. At some point, I'll do a session and at the end of it realise that I actually got through the whole thing as it was intended to be done. That'll be an awesome moment. In the mean time, I'll keep getting stronger and keep trying.
- Bring a tiny notebook and keep track of weights used and reps for each exercise. I didn't fill out the form today, but thought it was a great idea to measure progress over the 8 weeks.
- Form correction: When doing medicine ball squats, keep shoulders back, place feet further apart and core tight (not sure how to do the core tight one yet).
- Form correction: Bend knees slightly when lifting, don't arch back, can do damage.
- Form correction: Can do push ups on knees, let arms take weight, not knees, and shoulders should be level with arms. Arms tucked in like 90 degree chicken wings.
Meal plan commentary
Descriptions might be missing ingredients, just a commentary on the meal plan. Part of the challenge cost so not able to share in whole.
Overall, the food was great. I noticed throughout the day that I kept wanting to snack on things, even though I wasn't hungry at all. This wasn't a hydration issue either as I drank over 3 liters of water and green lemon tea. I tend to want to snack every now and again when working, but didn't realise that I had that urge when not actually hungry.
It was really difficult sticking to water and green tea. Major cravings for fizzy drinks. We have a sodastream and coke syrup which is no where near as bad as store bought coke, but stayed away from it. I don't like sparkling water by itself, and don't want to add fruit and stuff to it when sticking to this meal plan. I'll get over it.
- Breakfast was cocunut yoghurt with nuts and chocolate protein powder etc. Expected it to be bitter, it was really nice.
- The protein chocolate cacao nib balls are amaaaazing!
- Balsamic vinegar chicken salad was okay. It wilted a bit and couldn't really heat up. This one is better made fresh.
- Strawberry protein shake, nom
- Salmon with thai sauce and salad with brown rice. WOW
First day of the challenge went pretty well, happy dance! The odd thing though is that while I am extremely tired today, I'm not sore at all. Whereas last week I hurt after every session. I felt like I put a lot more into this session than usual. Not sure if I didn't push myself as hard as I could have, or if I'm just starting to get used to it. Will see what happens after the weight session tomorrow.