I like to stalk fit chicks on Instagram. They’re strong, sexy, accomplished, and always seem to be supporting other women. So when I saw one of my favorites (who currently has over 1.4 million followers) was hosting a 4-week fitness challenge, I thought, what the hell, why not? It seemed simple enough: lift, eat, check in, repeat. I’m proud to say I completed the most intense meal and exercise plan I’ve ever done, and even if it’s not something I’ll stick with long term, I’m glad I gave it a try.
- I spent a TON of money. Healthy food isn’t necessarily more expensive than junk food, but I was eating about 50% more during the challenge than I usually would, and I felt that in my grocery budget. There was also an egg shortage in the city I live in, forcing me to go to multiple stores to find grossly overpriced egg whites (which I ate every. single. day.). The protein powder and BCAAs I was taking were not particularly cheap, and I can only imagine how much I would have spent at GNC if I’d opted to also purchase fat burners, pre-workouts, toners, sleep aids, etc.
- I was constantly in the bathroom. Persistently chugging water combined with the fact that the BCAA’s I was using were a mild diuretic meant I had to pee every 5 seconds, and that gets really annoying and disruptive to your life. Also, all the broccoli and protein shakes made me super gassy. My poor family tolerated being around me, anyway.
- I annoyed my friends and family. It turns out that no one likes being regularly turned down to hang out because you have to work out. They also don’t like when you go out to eat and order tilapia and asparagus when they’re scarfing down a calzone. People would say, “What’s going to happen to you if you skip one workout?” or “What’s going to happen if you eat one doughnut with me?” And I admit that nothing would have happened, but that attitude could lead to multiple skipped work outs and many cheat meals and I really wanted to give myself a chance to find out how my body would respond if I stuck to the plan. Most people didn’t understand that, and I could see that I was annoying them.
- I changed my metabolism. The first few days felt like I was constantly shoving food in my mouth when I wasn’t particularly hungry. By the end, I needed every single bite. I was eating more calories and more carbs than I ever would have picked if I’d made my own meal plan and I was also losing fat in the process.
- I leaned out. I have one of those bodies that holds fat in my stomach if I have any fat at all. I was able to lean out my midsection without starving myself or living on the treadmill. I wasn’t hungry often; I was just not particularly full or satisfied most of the time, either.
- I got stronger than I’d ever been. I can honestly say that I had more muscle mass and definition than I’ve ever had in my life, and was able to lift heavier, too. Strong is the new skinny, they say, and I am definitely digging my new bod.
- I got a lot of support. For the amount of money I paid to enter this challenge, I was not expecting the level of contact and support that I received. I hate going to the gym, and she was super cool about providing me with 3048320 modifications to my exercise plan to fit the equipment I have in my home gym. I got weekly check-ins and a lot of positivity, and any questions or concerns I had were generally answered within 24 hours.
- I felt like CRAP when I stopped. I know that you’re supposed to ease back in to your usual eating routine and I’ve heard horror stories of what can happen to your body if you go on a wild streak after being on a restrictive diet. I didn’t go nuts after, although I did indulge in too much pizza and beer for Sunday Funday when it was over. The combination of adding back in sugar, dairy, and alcohol and dropping down calories and water intake made me feel like CRAP. I had headaches and low energy. I’m sure this could have been avoided if I’d been smarter about the transition back to average person life, which I meant to be, but turns out I used up all my willpower during the challenge.
- I didn’t win any money. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about placing. I worked my ass off and it showed! But overall, the satisfaction of completing something this difficult combined with my results was absolutely a win in itself. The money I spent entering the contest was still significantly less than it would have cost me to get a meal and workout plan from a trainer at my local gym, so I don’t regret entering from a financial standpoint. If you’re considering entering one of these contests and are willing to work hard, sacrifice, and stick to the plan, I would say yes, it is absolutely worth it. Because you are worth giving yourself a chance to change, even if that change doesn’t involve winning any money.