I mentioned in my last post (Lost 13 Pounds in 28 Days: The 28 x 24 Hour Repair) that my wife and I both tried Beach Body’s 21 Day Fix program. As you can see from the pictures above, I had some pretty good success with it, as did my wife…of course, she’d kill me if I posted half-naked pictures of her on the Internet, so you’ll just need to take my word for it, and settle for my pics instead.
Here’s my review of 21 Day Fix:
The program is very simple, polished, and wrapped up in a tight little package. Any able-bodied person with willpower, a DVD player, and the ability to read the instructional booklet for 15 minutes can achieve solid results with the 21 Day Fix–I can pretty much guarantee that.
The basic gist of the program is that you stick to a well-rounded, calorie deficient diet, while exercising to one of the seven included workout routines every day for 21 days. Let’s take a closer look.
The 21 diet is the bread n’ butter of the program (though bread and butter are strictly prohibited). If you’re just doing the 30 minute workouts, and eating whatever you want, it is 100% your fault if you fail to achieve the results that you’re after. In order to be successful with this program, you MUST stick to the meal plan. If I, a beer drinking, pepperoni eating man of many calories, can do it successfully, you can too. Given that, it’s no easy task (I said it was simple, not easy).
There’s plenty of room for variety in the program (I’ll get to that in a minute), but the part that I struggled with was the hunger. The reason so many people who complete the 21 Day Fix achieve real results is because the program operates on one of the most tried-and-true weight loss principles of all time: calorie deficiency.
Before you begin, you weigh yourself (and take a series of “before” measurements if you’re up to it…I should have, but I didn’t), and use the booklet to place yourself in a daily calorie range. I fell into the ~2200 calories/day range. Once your range is established, you determine how many servings of food you get to use to mix-and-match your daily caloric intake. All food servings are measured using 21’s claim to fame: the multi-colored containers.
I read over the premise of the plan before my wife ordered it, saw the containers pictured in the promotional pics, and didn’t think much of it; they looked pretty stout, and once I saw that you can fill them up multiple times a day (e.g., I can eat six red containers of “proteins” every day in the 2200 cal range), I felt pretty confident in my ability to breeze through it…yep, pretty confident…until the package showed up, and I got to see how freakin’ small the containers really are.
My wife said that she pretty much adjusted to the calorie deficiency after three days. I, however, rocked a steady stomach growl almost the entire time, but I managed. I’m the only man I know who completed the system, but my wife’s girlfriends who tried it seem to have adjusted similarly to the diet after a few days, as she did. Of course, I had to be the hungry exception…whatever…it sucks, but it’s not that bad.
As I mentioned before, Autumn, the trainer and billed author of the program, gives a huge list of options for filling the containers, so as long as you have a flexible pallet, you never really get bored with your meal options. As far as appetite control is concerned, I know that I just mentioned being hungry all the time, but after a week or so, I did start to find my rhythm. The key is–as I mentioned in my own fitness program that I did a couple years ago–you have to prepare and plan as many meals and snacks for the day ahead of time…generally speaking, a hungry person who has crap in front of them, is going to eat crap…if you keep putting 21 Day-approved food in front of you when you’re hungry, you’ll do fine.
The plan does offer a little wiggle room for eating out, and having the occasional drink. I chose to refrain from drinking altogether (there’s only an allowance for one adult beverage every few days, so what’s the point?), but I did go out to eat a couple times, including a trip to the pizza shop, and I still had success. This highlights what is possibly my favorite benefit of the program. Completing it, even with the occasional “cheats” teaches you how to eat healthy, regardless of your nutritional IQ before starting the plan. Eating right during these three weeks not only boasts great results, but it leaves you with a solid foundation on how to eat right for the rest of your life.
As I mentioned, sticking to the diet is the most critical element of the 21 Day Fix, but sticking to a workout program is pretty darn important too if you’re seeking optimal results. Overall, I think the workouts featured on the program are adequate, but I wasn’t really blown away.
The objective–requirement, actually–is to complete the 30-minute workout of the day, every day. Again, pretty simple. All the workouts are included on two DVDs. In summary, you have an upper body day, a lower body, a no-weight cardio, a cardio with weights, yoga and Pilates (both are deemed active recovery days), and a routine called the “Dirty 30”, which is basically a fully body circuit. Also included is a bonus 10-minute ab routine. Here’s my overall impression of the workout portion of The Fix:
- You have to workout every day, but each workout is only 30 minutes. With very little exception, almost anyone can make room for a half-hour workout in their day.
- There are very few equipment requirements. All you need is a set of “light” weights, and a set of “heavier” weights. All the weighted workouts focus on very high reps (most exercises are broken down into two-minute super sets), so even if you’re a total beast, you’re not going to be able to sustain very heavy weight…at least not anything that would cost more than $15 at a box store. On many of the workouts, you also have the option of subbing in resistance bands. I even used my Bulgarian bags a couple times.
- The workouts are very easy to follow along. I have no doubt that a person with little to no previous workout experience would have any trouble getting the hang of the routines. You’re encouraged to push yourself, but go at your own pace, and she always has a couple people doing modified movements (both novice and advanced).
- Autumn is easy on the eyes. To put it another way, I’d rather look at her for 30 minutes every day than look at Tony Horton for an hour and a half (or heaven forbid, Tony Little). That may be a shallow point, but I’m a man doing a fitness program that’s clearly marketed toward women–let me have my silver lining.
The Not-So Good:
- Every workout has a Beach Body advertisement that you HAVE to watch EVERY time…no skipping through it. I get pissed off at the movies sitting through commercials after buying an overpriced ticket, so you can imagine how irked I was at this little marketing gotcha. I finally gave up and just encoded an MP4 copy of each title, completely editing them out the ads altogether. That said, if you aren’t very tech savvy, you’re probably just going to have to get used to it…or write your congressman.
- I appreciate the simple format of the workouts, and I was definitely huffing and puffing during a few of them, but I still felt like they left a little to be desired, at least for a more experienced participant of the program. For a few days, I actually just scrapped the 21 Day Fix scheduled workout, and put my own together (e.g., an upper body routine that featured pull ups, and several push up variations). I also thought that the yoga was a little underwhelming. I’m not going to ding them too much on this since, again, I think it’s great for those just starting out, or trying to get back into it, and you definitely don’t want to over-train on a calorie deficient diet. However, if you’re the high-speed animal type, you might want to have a few more challenging workouts in your back pocket, just in case.
- I said earlier that I love the fact that the workouts are only 30 minutes, but the warm-ups and cool-downs have a rushed, manufactured feel to them. Speaking as someone who has paid heavily for skimping on warm-ups and stretches, I’ll say that you might want to carve out an extra 5-10 minutes every workout just for safety’s sake.
- I’m totally nit-picking here, but Autumn shouts, “Yeh!?” a lot when asking whether or not her fellow peers are ready to begin each exercise. The first few times, it was kind of endearing, but after 21 days, my mute button was worn to a nub.
Summing it up
All things considered, the 21 Day Fix is a solid program that promises real results, especially to a beginner entering into the world of fitness. It has a couple minor hang ups that I mentioned, but its overall simplicity and conciseness makes it a program that I’d recommend to just about anyone looking to launch into a healthy lifestyle, capped with an inspiring outcome. YEH?!