Settle in, kids. This post is going to be a long one! I recently finished my first ever round of FASTer Way to Fat Loss and I am so excited to share my experience with you!
But first off, I wanted to give a little back story. If you’re new around here, I gave birth to my son in September 2016 ten weeks early. Throughout my pregnancy, I was extremely sick and lost 22 lbs in the first 4 months. That put me at the lowest weight I could remember in my adult life. I believe this post shows me at my smallest [fun fact: I threw up during that shoot, ha!]. However, once I was on bed rest in the hospital, they made me eat as much as possible to ensure that my little guy could grow, considering he would be coming early no matter what. So I laid in that bed and ate and ate for 52 straight days. When he was born, I was about 8-10 lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight. However, after he was born, I was juggling recovering from a major surgery [emergency classical C-Section], pumping every 3 hours, going back and froth to the NICU to see him, and maintaining our household that I hadn’t set foot in in the last 8 weeks. Needless to say, my health and wellness were not my top priority. Over the next 4 months I struggled with a bout of PPD and, again, I didn’t focus on my health. Fast forward to Spring when the fog in my head finally lifted and we were able to take our son out into the world and I was able to reunite with my friends and re-engage our out-and-about lifestyle. I started to eat out a lot and drink socially with friends and family. Before I knew it, Dillon was a year old and while I was mentally feeling much better, my physical health had once again taken a backseat. I had gotten to above my pre-pregnancy weight and wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror. In fact, this shoot was one of the highlights of my blogging career, but the images made me come to a stark realization. It was time for a change. Everything else in my life was going well again, so I had nothing left to blame for my physical appearance. So I told Mike that I was going to do something about it. I bought an Apple watch and joined a gym a couple weeks before Christmas and made the resolution to lose 25 lbs in 2018. That would put me around that weight during my pregnancy that was the lowest of my adult life. I only told him and a few close friends and family. I needed enough people to know for me to remain accountable but not enough that would notice if I failed. So, here is my before photo from December 2017, at 178.8 lbs, the heaviest that I can recall in my life.
I then began my fitness and health journey. I vowed to cut back on my boozing, get in the gym at least 3x a week [with a stretch goal of 4-5], and to eat much, much better than I had been. I started tracking my workouts in my Apple Watch and doing monthly weigh-ins. While this journey and results will be different for everyone, I wanted to outline my progress for the sake of this post. It’s also worth noting that I did do Dry January [aka no drinking for 30 days], so I think that had a lot to do with the success I saw in the first month of this journey. I do plan to do that again in 2019!
January = 15 activity hours logged // 6,245 active calories burned // 173 lbs [-5.8 lbs]
February = 15.5 activity hours logged // 6,587 active calories burned // 172.4 lbs [-6.4 lbs]
March = 13.75 activity hours logged // 6,720 active calories burned // 170.6 lbs [-8.2 lbs]
April = 13.3 activity hours logged // 6,439 active calories burned // 166 lbs [-12.8 lbs]
May = 10 activity hours logged // 6,122 active calories burned // 162.4 lbs [-16.4 lbs]
June = 10.5 activity hours logged // 5,902 active calories burned // 158.8 lbs [-20 lbs]
At that point, I couldn’t believe it. In just over 6 months [with 75+ hours spent at the gym] I had lost 20 lbs. It was A LOT of work and I don’t want to discount the effort I put in, but it did happen sooner than I thought it would. However, that’s when it hit a standstill. That number didn’t change at all in July or August. Blame summer, blame travel, blame barbecues, blame more stress at work. Whichever way you slice it, I knew it was time to mix it up and try something different to shed those pesky last 5 lbs to meet my goal. Enter, Faster Way to Fat Loss.
I went to get a facial with my girl Katie who had recently come off a round and I peppered her with all the questions. She looked AMAZING and spoke so highly of the program that I figured this could be my golden ticket to reach my goal weight. More than that, throughout the course of this year, I had changed my relationship with health and wellness and was game to learn more about nutrition and how the way I feed my body could impact other aspects of my life. I was all hands on deck and she hooked me up with Allie, who would eventually become my coach. If you’re curious about the program, I’d highly recommend checking out Allie’s site as there is a ton of information there. I’ll give you a quick overview:
The program has two parts: a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule (fasting for 16 hours, digesting for 8) and carb cycling by counting your macros. The intermittent fasting part is so important [and the part I’ll take with me long after the round is over] because your body is either digesting or healing. When you’re fasting you are allowing your cells to regenerate, which is crucial for so many body functions. I love that this is an element that requires no equipment, no fact sheets, nothing. You can do it at any point in your life, and start and stop whenever you want. Anytime you allow your body to do it is a good thing. I’m not a huge breakfast person so this was an easy thing to incorporate, but it did take some planning to make sure my family and I could eat within my window. The second part, the carb cycling, is done via My Fitness Pal, which is a free app. You input what you’re going to eat for the day and it calculates your macros. In the program, you’re given macro goals for each day and a workout to correspond with the macro goal to optimize your fat-burning. You can choose to do the workouts that the program provides or do it on your own, but you’re highly advised to stick to both elements of the program since they’re paired together for a reason. The best part is that they give you workouts whether you’re a beginner, a member of a gym, or need to do it at home. The entire program is so customizable to work for your life and your coach is always there to ask questions. You can even do it if you’re breastfeeding! There is a whole week before the program kicks off that is full of information and the Facebook Group becomes a great resource throughout the program.
Probably the best part of the program is that even if you fall off for a day of two, you can hop back on and your coach will be there to support you. I went on 3 trips during my 6 week round, had a death in the family, and celebrated my son’s birthday and was still able to indulge a bit and still get back on track.
I wanted to answer some FAQs that I had crowd-sourced on my Instagram about my experience next:
Q: What was the hardest part?
A: I think the hardest part was the weekends. During the week it was easy to stay super dedicated to the meals and workouts, but then on the weekends, booze and pizza would call. While I did admittedly cheat on a lot of weekend days, I tried really hard to make even my indulgences fit within the macros. But if you’re used to an out-and-about lifestyle that involves social drinking and eating out, that will probably be your biggest challenge, too. Honestly this was one of the reasons I chose this time of year to do the program, as doing this during summer would be so hard!
Q: What are your favorite low-carb snacks?
A: Honestly, this was a huge adjustment for me! I hadn’t really ever done a low-carb diet before so I scoured Pinterest, asked my sister [who eats low-carb basically always], and utilized the people in my Facebook Group for inspiration. The things I always turned to on low-carb days were avocado smoothies with chia seeds or a handful of nuts, like almonds. Really, on low-carb days, I would just have really big meals and not snack that much since it was easier to cook a well-balanced low-carb meal rather than reach for snacks.
Q: Are you planning on doing a second round? Do you think it’s a lifestyle you can keep up with?
A: I am not planning on doing a second round at this point. I honestly believe I’ve taken away so much knowledge that I can implement elements of the program into my lifestyle without even thinking. I think the people who do repeat rounds are those who love to be held accountable and like having the resources at their fingertips. I think that I will continue to intermittent fast and also do two low-carb days a week to pair with my HIIT workouts. But I definitely understand why people would go back for repeat rounds! I think that FWTFL is sustainable whether or not you go back for repeat rounds if you diligently incorporate the elements into your life on an ongoing basis.
Q: What was the biggest challenge? Was anything easier than expected? [I’m on wk 2]
A: I think the biggest challenge was getting myself set up in My Fitness Pal in order to track my macros. There was some initial work that had to be done to get my recipes queued up so that I could program each day. It was kind of like a puzzle piece where you had to fit all your food together to hit your macros. While it got easier over time, it definitely wasn’t a practice that I was used to. The intermittent fasting was honestly easier than expected! I think by day 3, the morning hunger was gone and I could easily go til 11 before I broke my fast. I want to continue to do that because it has helped so much with my discipline and overall bloating and gut health. I thought working out 5 days a week [which you do on the program] would be difficult, but since I had already been in a good cadence of exercising this year, the 5 days a week was a breeze and felt really empowering. They give you guidance on what each days’ workout should be to coincide with which type of nutritional day it is [ie- low carb] and that really helped keep me focused.
Q: Is it easy to do for a working mom? I don’t have a blender or the ability to “cook” my lunch.
A: It is! I’m a working mom and the program was not intimidating at all. You don’t have to own a blender [although I highly recommend getting one, in general!] and you don’t have to be able to cook in the middle of the day. That’s the best part of the program. You can make it what you want/need it to be. The Facebook Group you join is a fantastic resource to crowd-source tips and tricks on how people make it work. A lot of people would take salads or wraps to work for lunch and that worked out great. You could also buy smoothies or juices out if you so desired, but it’s definitely not a requirement to succeed in the program. I would recommend spending some time perusing the internet [like Pinterest] for ‘”low-carb lunch ideas” or things of that nature to figure out what could work for you. The program even has it’s own cookbook should that interest you! For dinner what worked for my family is I’d just make meals as I normally would and omit the carbs for myself [ie- if I was making BBQ chicken sandwiches for the family, I just wouldn’t eat the bun]. You can find ways to make the program for you and your lifestyle! That’s the beauty.
Q: Were you so hungry or ever felt deprived during the program?
A: No! I ate 1500 calories a day on the program [which MFP determined for me after answering some questions about my body/lifestyle] and because I had to eat only for 8 hours a day, I actually some days found it tough to get those calories in! I literally ate non-stop. You are definitely not hungry on this program. And the best part is I would wake up not bloated at all and could make it til I broke my fast because I had eaten a full day’s worth of calories the day before.
Phew, if you’re still with me I applaud you. Now for the finale, I’m going to share my before and afters from the program alone. Mind you, these results are in 6 weeks [of which I circumstantially and admittedly wavered on and off throughout]. I am thrilled with the progress I made during the program and feel so much stronger and leaner. The top is the before and the bottom is the after! At the close of the program I weighed 153.8, a full 25 lbs down from when I started this journey, meaning I lost 5 lbs in the 6 weeks of the program! I swear that it actually worked out that way. I couldn’t have made that up if I tried! The real story, though, is in my inches lost. I lost TEN INCHES during this program! I had to double and triple check that number with Allie because I couldn’t believe it. My clothes fit so much better and I know the body I see in the mirror is one that is a result of self-love and hard work. I look forward to putting into motion some of the elements of the program into my everyday life and can’t thank Allie enough for her amazing coaching. If you want to get under her wing, you can sign up here. I promise you won’t regret it! I think I may try another round in 2019 if I feel myself hitting a plateau or am craving a refresh. Please let me know if you have any additional questions! Thanks for reading and following me along this life-changing journey!
^ FWTFL AFTER ^
^ ME, TODAY ^
A big thank you to Allie and FWTFL for comping my participation in the program in exchange for a review. All opinions [and results!] are my own.