I was in Mauritius in November 2016, and I was going through a stage of the worst health anxiety I’ve ever had. I didn’t even know that was what it was at the time. I was there, in this amazing boutique-y, five star hotel with views to die for, and I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t stand up without feeling dizzy, or my heart racing or sweating buckets. It was like a switch had flicked, and I’d gone from excited holiday mode to this complete other person as soon as we stepped foot in the lobby. I felt guilty for not enjoying it and for being the worst company ever with my boyfriend and parents. I genuinely thought my body was going to give up on me at any point. My heart was going to stop beating. It beat so heavily and so strong and so irregularly at times that how could it carry on?
So I decided the least I could do to prevent my untimely demise was get fit, or die trying. And that would go hand in hand with weight loss, which, at 73kg or 11 and a half stone, would definitely be welcome. My rolls had peaked – I avoided sitting up on my sun lounger for fear of looking eight months pregnant. My mum’s photos of me all looked like someone I didn’t even know. I have to add I didn’t look that bad, but it was affecting my mental health and I didn’t like it. How had I got like this? Easy – London life. Pubs. Fry ups. Beer. Convenient bus routes replaced walking. More beer. Lying in bed all weekend. It all sounds delightful but it had caught up with me, and not only did I hate what I saw on the outside, but it was affecting what was happening on the inside, mentally as well as physically.
The Bodycoach and his ridiculous social media presence had been trying to catch my eye for several months and my half-hearted approach to fitness was dwindling. I’d manage two gym sessions a week, max, and then treat myself to 6 glasses of wine, a Papa John’s (extra garlic sauce, obvs) and a fry up at the weekend with a big pat on the back. I needed discipline, badly. I turned to my boyfriend in Mauritius and said, “After New Year, I’m doing this,” and pointed to the Bodycoach’s 90 Day SSS on Facebook.
“You won’t stick to it. Three months! Don’t waste your money,” was the reaction and I didn’t blame him. I’d never stuck to anything properly post-university. Yet something about his reaction, my ever increasing waistline and my incessant heart palpitations all combined at that moment and made me commit to Joe. Well at least they made me part ways with £146. This better work, I said out loud, my fingers crossed for some kind of miracle life transformation.
And that’s kind of what happened.
I won’t go into the complete ins and outs of the 90 Day SSS as I don’t want to bore you with meal prep and spinach overdoses, but it’s split into three months. The first month, C1, you look to burn fat and get fit, basically. Complete five HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts a week, around 20-25 minutes long. And eat meals from the recipes provided in the guide, all tailored to your measurements you submit when you fill out your pre-plan questionnaire. You eat a reduced-carb recipe for every meal except for when you’ve worked out, when you have a post-workout meal – higher in carbs, aiding recovery. I practiced doing a ten minute HIIT the day before I started the plan and saw just how unfit I’d become! I had delayed onset muscle soreness for at least three or four days afterwards and couldn’t even complete the ten minutes. It was pretty pathetic. My heart raced and I felt sick and wanted to pass out. I knew this was my mind telling me I wasn’t capable of this – but I had paid £146 for this hell, and planned all my meals so I wasn’t quitting before I’d started. Month one coincided with dry January which helped massively – no hungover mornings. I was up early, in the living room, waking my brother in law up with the sounds of Joe going on about burpees, in some exotic location I was not. The first month is the toughest. Your body is going through pain it’s not felt in a long time, you’ve got to food prep around your life, and still go to work every day, and explain why you’re not drinking or don’t want to order pizza. People asked me why I was doing a ‘fad diet’ and telling me I didn’t need to do this to myself. They didn’t understand that I did need to do this to myself – I needed to regain control. They also didn’t understand that there’s zero ‘fad’ involved at all. Learning what to eat, when, and eating healthily and training more. I mean, I’m annoyed I didn’t come up with the plan myself – it’s not rocket science. But it provided me the tools I needed to get off my butt. And if that’s a fad diet, then sign me up on the first train to fad-town! By the end of C1 I was getting comments. People who didn’t know I was on a plan told me I looked well and asked if I’d lost weight – I’d lost about 8lbs/half a stone/3.5kg. Not mind blowing results but I wasn’t after a quick fix – this was a game changer for the long term. My health anxiety still appeared now and then. I’d get random ectopic beats for no reason and my heart rate stayed unusually high after working out. I don’t know if this was due to poor health, or my mind telling my heart that that is what it should do, but I tried to put it to the back of my mind as I felt fitter each week, so something good was obviously happening.
The second month, C2, introduced more carbs into the recipes and the HIITs are shortened and interspersed with GVT (German Volume Training) or ten sets of ten basically with different days focussed on arms, shoulders, legs etc. The workouts were longer due to all the sets and reps and this meant it was harder to fit into my schedule – some weeks I think I only managed three workouts out of the prescribed four. But I stuck to the food most days and although I was drinking again, I only did it in the pub and never brought home a cheeky bottle of red after work. By the end of month two I was only a couple of pounds lighter but by then I wasn’t too fussed about the figure on the scales as I knew I was building strength and muscle, which in the long run would set me up for a more efficient metabolism and just a kick-ass bod.
Then, I had a month unplanned break as I got offered a trip to Australia with work (someone had to do it) which obviously I would not be following the plan on! The trip was fairly active and although I drank heavily and ate freely throughout, my weight stayed the same and I came out unscathed, picking up where I left off at the start of April.
By month three, C3, it was back to reduced carb meals except after workouts, and this is where I saw some crazy results. The workouts are switched up again to pyramid training, where you start off with a high weight and low reps, and work your way up to high reps and low weight, with short HIITs still interspersed between sets. With your muscles being hit hard and your fitness improving with each week, it’s no wonder this is where people see their best results. And by the end, not only had my body lost its baggage, my mind had too. I was one stone and two pounds lighter since starting the plan and I felt like I’d peeled back my flab to reveal a new person physically and mentally. My clothes fit again. My bra straps weren’t cutting into my back fat. My thighs weren’t rubbing together anymore. My once achy knees were no longer achy. The best thing? My anxiety was 95% gone. I’d seen myself go from not being able to complete a ten minute HIIT, to being able to train four times a week with heavy weights and intense routines. Seeing my body be able to endure those levels of intensity proved to me there was nothing wrong with my heart or my body. That I wasn’t going to drop dead at any moment. And of course, exercise releases lots of lovely endorphins which fight off negative thoughts, even on those days when you have to drag your arse kicking and screaming to the gym. Joe always says you never regret a workout – this is my mantra now, for life.
Since finishing the plan, I quit my job, got married (which Joe even came to – via video link), moved to Dubai, and started working in a whole new industry, so a lot has happened. In terms of training I kept up C3 principles more or less but enjoyed meals out and drinks in moderation. My transformation kept going and by December 2017 I was down to nine stone and nine pounds – almost two stone below my starting weight. Moving to Dubai helped a lot! Alcohol is expensive here and I was unemployed for 3 months so I spent a lot of time in the gym which meant I could really focus on training.
In January of this year I decided to do Joe’s revamped plan which was offered to all graduates for free. I didn’t really need a plan and was doing quite well on my own, but I felt like I wanted to do it almost in honour of the changes it had made to my life, exactly one year on from the day I started the first plan.
The recipes have improved massively (no more mountains of spinach) but C2 and C3 now just include weighted HIITs instead of concentrated sets and reps and this made me realise that lifting is where I need to now focus. My results this time round were minimal to zero and I think I lost a couple of pounds but the workouts were not getting me the results I wanted. For me moving forward, it’s all about strength and the amazing feeling of power that lifting brings – that feeling that you can conquer anything. And the plan just isn’t really made for that now. However I am eternally grateful that it did introduce me to weights.
My only real criticism of Joe’s plan is the lack of guidance after you’re finished. You’re given recommended amounts of key ingredients that you should use in recipes based on your final measurements, but you’re not given any information on calories or macros. If you really want to hone in on simultaneous fat loss and muscle growth, being in a calorie deficit is the first lesson – and I feel like many people would be completely lost after graduation, and be at risk of just falling back into old habits. Being able to go it alone is key to maintaining a healthy fitness regime – and that’s why my 90 Day SSS journey is at an end. Just living off C3 principles for most of last year taught me nothing about nutrition or what I needed to get the results I wanted. I also deprived myself of carbs way more than I needed to because this is what the plan teaches you – that carbs are only needed post workout and that simply isn’t true.
I now track my calories and macros (which means I don’t need to only follow Joe’s recipes!) and I also eat carbs 2-3 times a day. I normally do some form of training six days a week, so I definitely need them! I can also eat out or have a pizza or a takeaway and just fit it into my calories – no more having to feel guilty if you don’t ‘follow the plan’.
I’m now following workouts from LDNM Bikini Body Guide (I really dislike the term ‘bikini body’ but I’m brushing past that). I can see more muscle tone in my arms and abs already and I can’t wait to see results later down the line. Whatever path my fitness journey takes, I’ll always credit Joe Wicks for his well-made, easy to follow plan and for changing my life physically and even more importantly, mentally. Because that’s literally what he did for me and thousands of others. In a nutshell – what a dude.
Check out Joe Wicks’ video message at our wedding, organised in secret by my husband’s brother and best man.
Have you completed the 90 Day SSS? What was your experience and why did you sign up? Get in touch and comment below!
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