The F45 Challenge: Fat to Fit in 8 Weeks?

It's been over a year since I last posted on this blog, mostly due to studying to become admitted as a lawyer in the UK. I'm pleased to say I passed, so I should hopefully be back to semi-regular posting again! There are a ton of travel and lifestyle stories I have stored up (India, China, Cuba, USA, Italy...), but I want to start with something a little different from previous posts: I want to share with you my F45 Challenge journey. 

For the uninitiated, F45 (which stands for "Functional 45 minutes") is an Australian fitness concept, which combines high intensity interval training, circuit training and functional movements in a group setting. The F45 Challenge is an 8 week program which encourages you to: (1) get 8 hours sleep; (2) drink at least 3L of water; (3) attend an F45 class; (4) take a magnesium supplement; (5) drink lemon in warm water; and (6) follow a prescribed meal plan, every day for 8 weeks. It is a global competition which runs a few times a year, and previous winners have won amazing travel prizes including a trip to Bora Bora!

Photo Credit: Time Out Beijing

Before signing up for the F45 Challenge, I was a casual gym goer at best. I have never been sporty and have always been uncoordinated, focusing my attention on more academic and creative pursuits. In contrast, the hubby was once very sporty, active and athletic but due to his work and other lifestyle choices - let's just say we were a sedentary couple with two sedentary Lhasa Apsos, who loved nothing more than to eat and travel in style. It was the hubby's idea to do the Challenge (and he was going to do it with or without me). I was reticent at first, but wanted to support what would be a rather drastic change from eating blocks of Cadbury Fruit and Nut as a midnight snack while watching Netflix. So we signed up together on 3 October 2018 at our local gym, F45 Orchard.

Pre-Challenge Body Scan Results

Shortly before the Challenge commenced, we had our body scans taken using an InBody machine, which evaluates your skeletal muscle mass and body fat based on your height, weight and sex.

My first InBody test results revealed:

Weight
61.9 kg
Normal
Skeletal Muscle Mass
23 kg
Under
Body Fat Mass
19.6 kg
Normal
BMI
21.2
Normal
Percent Body Fat
31.7%
Over
Visceral Fat Level
7
Normal (1-9)

The trainers termed my body composition "Skinny Fat" and I had to work on gaining muscle while losing fat. My opening score was a low 68/100 points.

The hubby's results were drastically different from mine, with an impressive amount of skeletal muscle mass to begin with (well within the "Over" range) but he would also have to lose a good amount of body fat for a healthy body composition. His InBody score was 82/100 points.

Weeks 1-2: "Spring Training"

The first two weeks of the program are designed to be a complete detox. No alcohol, no caffeine, and lots of lemon. Fondly referred to as the hardest stage of the Challenge, this phase is meant to alkalize the body with the goals of reducing fluid retention and cleansing the blood and liver of toxins. It was during this fortnight that we were the most cautious. Not wanting to over-exert ourselves with the shock of daily morning gym sessions, both the hubby and I exercised only 6 out of the 7 days for each of the first two weeks (deciding to incorporate a "rest day"). The F45 gym classes followed a pattern of Monday cardio, Tuesday weights, Wednesday cardio, Thursday weights, Friday cardio, Saturday hybrid (the 60 minute infamous "Hollywood" workout) and Sunday hybrid. I found cardio classes left you more exhausted (but at least I could do most of the exercises). Weights, on the other hand, I initially struggled with - having no abdominal strength and weak shoulders. I could only lift 2kg dumbbells for shoulder raises and needed 3 bands to do an assisted chin-up.

The meals (recipes all available on the bespoke F45 Challenge App) were actually not as bad as I thought they might be - with special mentions going to the Cherry Ripe Smoothie and the Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipes (delicious, seriously!) - and neither of us experienced any hunger pains. The program provides for 5 meals a day: breakfast, an AM snack, lunch, a PM snack and dinner. As an avid dessert fan, it was a struggle to adjust to having dinner as the last meal of the day. To cope with this, I chose to have my warm lemon water two hours after dinner and one hour before I brushed my teeth. If you decide to try this, make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain water immediately after taking the lemon water to protect the enamel in your teeth!

The F45 Challenge App was a great way to track progress, as well as the place to get the week's recipes.

Skipping over alcohol was not a problem (I hardly drink) but I thought I would be affected by the no caffeine rule. Before the Challenge, the first thing I would do when I got to work was grab a cup of coffee. Knowing this, I mentally prepared myself by substituting coffee for my magnesium diasporal supplement and found that I didn't struggle without the coffee at all!

Weeks 3-6: "Regular Season"

Termed the Regular Season, this is the longest phase of the Challenge at 4 weeks. The meal plans during this stage are based on a breakdown of 45% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 15% healthy fats with the goal of increasing muscle hypertrophy (i.e. the growth of muscle cells). The hubby and I decided to step up our exercise as our bodies had seemed to adapt to the new sleeping patterns and diet. The hubby upped his exercise to two F45 classes a day. I was content to stick with just the one class, but we scrapped the rest day. We also indulged in getting massages each weekend, which I like to think helped our muscles recover better as well as provide some relaxation. Mentally, we knew that if we could reach the halfway mark of one month, we would go all the way.

Mid-Challenge Body Scan Results

Near the end of Week 4, we had our mid-Challenge scans. These are not required to be submitted for competition purposes (only the Pre-Challenge and End of Challenge scans are) but it was quite nice to track our progress. Here were my InBody results:

Weight
59.8 kg
Normal
Skeletal Muscle Mass
24.2 kg
Border of Under/Normal
Body Fat Mass
15.7 kg
Normal
BMI
20.5
Normal
Percent Body Fat
26.3%
Normal
Visceral Fat Level
6
Normal (1-9)

After 26 F45 classes, I had gained 1.2 kg of muscle, lost 3.9 kg of fat and decreased my body fat percentage by 5.4%. My InBody score increased to 74/100. The global female winner of the previous Challenge lost a total of 10.5% of body fat at the end of the 8 weeks, so it seems I am on track!

The hubby's results were even better with an InBody score of 94/100. His body composition had become the ideal "D" shape on the InBody muscle-fat analysis chart, with less weight, more muscle mass and less body fat.

In terms of sticking to the regime, it definitely did get easier. The only hiccup I had was during an incredibly busy Thursday at work; I eventually closed my deal at 4.00 am on Friday morning. At midnight, my stomach was growling and I felt hunger pains for the first time during the Challenge. I ended up snacking on an extra 7 almonds (approximately half of a typical AM or PM snack on the F45 meal plan) which seemed to sustain me for the rest of that night. I had cancelled my morning F45 session deliberately, but somehow my body woke me up and I ended up completing the Friday cardio class on three hours of sleep. 

On the other hand, the hubby had a real scare. He had upped his cardio exercise routine to three classes a day - two in the morning back-to-back and one in the afternoon. Last week, he had the flu but insisted on going to his double morning session, resulting in him collapsing during a class and having to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital. He was discharged by the doctor later that day but was advised to take it easier on the exercise. No-one can fault him on his dedication to the program!

All I can say is, it's been an exciting journey so far - I am enjoying myself far more than I thought I would (in part because it is a competition and I love competition) and the carb/sugar cravings have mostly subsided. Stay tuned for the final phase (the "World Series") and of course, the end results.

xx Amanda 


amanda@lslookbook

No comments :

Post a Comment

Instagram