Oh heyyyy it's time for another fun fitness update!!
Today I officially completed the 21 Day Fix Extreme and I can honestly say I’ve never felt this strong, confident, and proud of myself from the inside out. I’ve come so far since I did the original 21 Day Fix for the first time back in March 2014, and I wanted to challenge myself and see what would happen if I committed 100% to a program again!
“When you lose your excuses you will find your results” -Autumn Calabrese
Beachbody trainers are always chock full of motivational quotes, but this one stuck out to me this month as I completed the 21 Day Fix Extreme because isn’t that a metaphor for everything in life?
We HAVE to get out of our own way in order to grow into the person we’re meant to be.
Some of my own excuses that popped up when I was thinking about doing this program --
“But I want wine and treats because SUMMER”
“I can’t fully commit, I’m going to leave myself wiggle room for wine and weekends...”
“I’ll never have the discipline to see this program through”
“I don’t want to feel deprived”
(See a pattern? This girl loves her wine and celebrating life with food!)
But you know what? I decided to commit. I decided that it wasn’t about willpower or discipline or forcing through or punching fear in the face or deprivation or all those aggressive tactics we use to shame and guilt and force our way into changing our bodies and habits.
I decided to take a more compassionate route, and simply get curious. I wanted to see what would happen if I devoted myself mentally, physically, and emotionally to taking the best care possible of myself.
This is the FIRST TIME I've ever done a fitness program because I want to take care of my body from the inside out. The FIRST TIME I haven't cared about what I look like, or put pressure on myself to lose weight or get an impressive before/after picture.
And let me tell you -- it's SO MUCH EASIER to stick to a program and say "no" to wine and sugar when you're motivating yourself based on love and appreciation for your body instead of feeling like you need to change to be happy.
Did I want to drop a few pounds and have more defined abs? Heck yes. But does it really matter in the end? Nope. I will love and appreciate myself no matter what.
It's ok to like your body and still want to change it.
And guess what? When you make that decision out of love and self-compassion and the curiosity to discover the strongest and healthiest version of yourself ... the results will happen as a side effect.
I decided to make July my month of EPIC self care.
I didn’t do this program to lose weight or inches, and didn’t weigh or measure myself at all. I wanted to do it for the internal changes and the confidence I always feel when I finish a hard program, and to honor my body through healthy nourishing food and challenging exercise.
I wanted to break my usual summer cycle of eating super healthy during the week, then over-indulging in wine, cocktails, froyo, and treats on the weekend and feeling like crap come Monday morning.
I wanted to spend less time working out and thinking about food, and have a simple plan to follow so I could free up my energy to focus on finishing my life coaching course.
Most of all, I knew that this month was going to be a STRETCH month for me personally and professionally, so I wanted to make sure I was taking care of myself while pushing my limits, doing big scary-exciting things like becoming a life coach and hosting live webinars for my team, and pouring love and energy into my challengers and coaches.
(I can’t emphasize how important it is to put your own energy first, especially when you spend your day pouring into others. Make sure you’re pouring from a full cup, or else you’ll burn out!)
What is the 21 Day Fix Extreme?
Put simply, it’s a next level version of the 21 Day Fix (which you learn more about on my blog here), but all you need to know is that the workouts are more challenging and the nutrition plan is a little more “strict.” In the regular 21DF you can have wine, chocolate, treats in moderation.
It uses the same nutrition plan that’s based on portion control, and you calculate the range of calories/day you need to achieve your goals then measure out your portions with the cute colored containers.
The 21DFX is geared towards fueling your body with the most nutrient-dense foods possible so it seems a little more strict, but if you make a mindset shift and remind yourself that you’re just saying “not right now” to the sugar and booze and saving them for later in order to say a bigger YES to the healthiest version of yourself, you won’t feel deprived. Your perception creates your reality - I focused on all the delicious yummy foods I could treat my body with and I can honestly say I didn’t miss sugar at all. Wine on the other hand … yeah I missed wine.
I love this program because it combines fitness AND nutrition. It’s easy to work out, but knowing how to eat right is what will make or break your results when you’re trying to work on health and wellness goals.
You can follow this program to lose weight, gain weight, or (like me) simply feel your absolute BEST from the inside out. You’re in control of your results, the amount of food you eat, and what you make of it.
There are 7 different workouts you cycle through each week, split between weight training circuits (upper body/lower body), cardio with weights, Plyometrics, Pilates, and yoga. All of the workouts are only 30-32 minutes, and are circuit-based, which means you’ll do a move for 30-60 minutes, move on to another move, and then repeat each circuit of moves 3-4 times.
One of the main differences between the regular and extreme versions is that Extreme uses more COMPOUND moves that work your entire body at once, and the regular Fix uses simple moves that are easier to master and learn.
I love this program because it has structure, but also gives you a lot of freedom. It’s not about being perfect or hitting a certain number of calories, because our bodies can’t tell the difference. It’s about eating certain portions of food to give your body the right amount of macro-nutrients (protein/carbs/fat) to feel energized, fuel your workouts, and change your body composition.
A typical day of eats
Doing this program made me realize how far I've come in my health and wellness journey, and with my relationship with food, because I didn't have to make any major changes to my diet at all! The main challenge for me was eliminating sugar and alcohol.
Here's what a typical day of eating looks like for me, both on AND off the 21DF plan.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit and protein powder, or toast and eggs
Morning snack: Vegan chocolate Shakeology blended with almond milk and ice
Lunch: GIANT salad (I love salads!) or leftovers
Afternoon snack: Veggies and hummus, or my Shakeo if I haven't had it yet
Dinner: Some combo of protein, veggies, and healthy carbs (sweet potatoes, rice, and quinoa are my go-to's) or another giant salad.
If I was hungry at night, I'd have a bedtime snack of Greek yogurt, berries, or a Shakeo mug cake.
I also LOVED using the chocolate Recover protein shake from the Beachbody Performance Line, and drank one 4-5 times a week after my more intense workouts. It's an all-natural protein powder designed to reduce muscle soreness and I swear it made a huge difference for me (AND all Performance Line supplements count as "free" containers!)
My typical weekly meal plan
I've found it's easiest for me to assign certain "containers" (aka food groups) to each meal and snack, and stay consistent every day, just rotating in different food combinations. So for example, for breakfast I'll have a carb, a protein, a fruit, and a teaspoon of healthy fat. This could look like oatmeal with eggs, fruit, and peanut butter, or toast with eggs and fruit.
I share my weekly meal plans and recipes with my Challenge Groups and clients. Here's a sneak peek of a typical week in my life!
What I learned on the 21 Day Fix Extreme
I’ve really been able to make the 21 Day Fix a lifestyle. I didn’t have to make any major adjustments to my normal diet at all. The biggest challenges for me were giving up wine and sugar, but I did it!
I learned that I can survive without alcohol, even at social events… and that some sparkling water or La Croix with a dash of liquid stevia and squeeze of lemon juice is DELICIOUS.
I learned how to eat more mindfully, and loved giving my body the best possible food. I learned how to enjoy every single bite or sip instead of mindlessly eating crap that I didn’t even truly want.
I learned how to give up emotional eating! Because of the boundaries and structure I had in place, every time I was tempted to mindlessly take a sip of Ben’s beer or dig into the ice cream in the freezer, I could check myself and tune into what I was TRULY craving. Learning how to process emotions in positive ways instead of numbing and suppressing them with food is a skill I want to help all women master, because it feels so incredible and freeing.
I learned that I need to have snacks on hand when I’m out and about (apple slices and almonds are my go-to’s!) to balance my energy throughout the day. Food is fuel! When you’re eating pure unprocessed nutrient-dense foods, your metabolism will burn right through them, so it’s ok to feel like you’re eating more.
I learned that I can live without sugar and dessert, so in the future it will be a lot easier for me to pass on the desserts, and fully savor and enjoy a glass of really good wine.
Getting results doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” and that 30 minute workouts are really all you need. Stop abusing your body and slaving away with hours of exercise … stop feeling like you’re never doing enough and always need to be burning more calories or working out harder and longer. When you give your body time to rest and recover, you’ll actually see more changes, and you’ll also have the energy to enjoy your life.
I learned that it’s ok to follow the modifier when I couldn’t keep up with the moves, and it’s ok to feel weak. Feeling weak doesn’t mean you’re weak -- it means that you’ve found your edge and have room to improve and become stronger! It’s something to CELEBRATE, not beat yourself up over.
Tips for success
- You have to go all in for yourself. Don't leave ANY room for excuses to creep in. Trust yourself, and trust that you can do anything for 21 days!
- Stay hydrated. Water is so important... I love making infused water with ginger, mint, and lemon.
- Start slow! Use light weights and the modifier to master the moves. Form is SO important than being a hero, especially if you’re working out at home without a trainer to give you adjustments and tips. Trust me - even modifying the moves you’ll feel it the next day!
Here was my approach:
Week 1 - light weights, follow the modifier
Week 2 - increase weights, try the regular moves if you’ve mastered form, add the 10 min abs twice a week
Week 3 - challenge and push yourself while honoring your limits
- Make sure to warm up and stretch before and after the workout. I didn’t feel like the warm up and stretches were sufficient, you only get 2-3 minutes at either end of the workout, and there aren’t any “off” days with this program, just “active rest” days with Pilates and Yoga that will still challenge your muscles. On most days I went outside for a quick walk or jog around the block to warm up, and I also tried to foam roll a couple times a week to recover. You can also substitute a yoga class or longer yoga routine for the 30 minute yoga day.
21 Day Fix Extreme FAQ’s
Should I do the 21 Day Fix or 21DF Extreme?
I always recommend starting with the original 21 Day Fix if you’ve never done it before, because it will lay a really solid foundation and teach you the basics of the portion control system. If you’ve been working out consistently for several months, have mastered other programs, and are looking to take your results to the next level, then Extreme might be for you. IT’S HARD. I still had to follow the modifier by the end for some of the moves, and sometimes I couldn’t even finish the whole set WITH modifications. Don’t let your ego choose for you or you’ll end up injuring yourself and feeling defeated.
If you want to talk about your goals or chat about the best program for you, shoot me a message!
Do I have to do Shakeology?
You don't HAVE to, but it will make your experience a lot more delicious, help you eliminate sugar cravings, give you TONS of energy, and make sure your body is getting all the micro-nutrients it needs. So in other words, it's worth it!
Will I feel hungry or deprived?
You might feel hungry at first as your body adjusts, but I didn’t really have any issues and I LOVE FOOD. If your energy dips, you can eat an extra piece of fruit or bump up to the next calorie bracket to make sure you’re fueling your body properly! In terms of feeling deprived -- that’s more of a mindset thing. Focus on what you CAN eat, and remind yourself you’re not saying “no,” you’re just saying “not right now” to indulgent treats.
Are the results maintainable?
I’m super lazy and unmotivated, will I be able to do this?
It’s only 21 days -- seriously that’s such a short period of time and it’s going to fly by. Less than a month!
Can I do this while pregnant/breastfeeding?
Ask your doctor, but it’s likely! If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll usually bump up your calorie bracket and eat extra food, but still in the propor portions and ratio of protein/carbs/fat.
Can I do this program and train for a race at the same time?
I’m not a trained professional so I can’t give advice except to listen to your body. Personally, I would never add additional workouts or runs to an intense program like this because its designed to push your body to its limits… however if you wanted to EXCHANGE the cardio workouts for runs that would probably be ok. Just make sure you’re adjusting your calorie bracket accordingly, because it’s designed for 30 minute workouts and you want to be very careful to fuel properly to avoid injury or damaging your metabolism.
I think this program might be my fave. I love the balance of different workouts, love that they're SHORT yet challenging, and I LOVE the results I've gained on the inside and out. Being healthy is about so much more than weight. Your body will naturally assume its healthy weight when you're treating yourself with love and respect, so let's stop beating ourselves up and start to actually nourish and respect our bodies and minds.
If you want me to coach you through this program (or try the original Fix!), I’d love to support you.
"I feel so confident and free from feeling trapped in what seemed for so long to be a hopeless pattern of ‘letting myself go’ when it came to my fitness and nutrition. I can’t even begin to say how thankful I am that I found Anna on Instagram and signed up for my first Challenge. It has been such a game changer and has renewed my hope and excitement in life!” -Rebecca K.
If I can do this, you can too!