Wow! It’s been hard to believe it’s only been a year since I have completely changed my relationship with diet and exercise?! In fact, exactly a year ago to the date, I shared (perhaps over shared) with you all the journey I had begun with the Faster Way to Fat Loss program, developed by Amanda Tress. I don’t believe in coincidences; therefore, I’m writing an update on my progress this past year, including challenges, learnings, and benefits.
First, I am incredibly proud that I have continued to maintain this lifestyle for more than a year. As you may have read in my previous post, I began the program in February 2017 after feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by my current exercise regime and lack of diligence with my diet. Frankly, I was over-exercising (running several times a week, in addition to various exercise classes) in an effort to combat my poor eating habits. I was feeling frustrated by my continued weight gain and how tight my clothes continued to feel but lacked guidance, knowledge, and accountability to make significant changes to my diet. I signed up for Amanda’s program after a late night social media session, and I could not be happier a year later!
left: April 2017 | right: April 2018
Be read to see my first post for all the “in’s and out’s” of the program.
For 6 weeks, I diligently followed the program to the letter. I had decided that I needed to commit to see if this program would indeed work for me. I followed up with 2 more 6-week programs, to solidify my new learnings and to join friends as they began to adopt this lifestyle. Now, I’m using the word lifestyle purposefully here. I came to understand that this wasn’t a diet (you’ve heard of those crazy diets when you drink only juice or never eat carbs). I knew that I couldn’t live the rest of my life never chewing, or never drinking, or never eating out.
With that said (and with maintaining this lifestyle in mind), I have taken breaks from following the Faster Way (which includes eating a balanced macronutrient diet – requiring tracking, intermittent fasting, and carb cycling). My first break was a week when I went to London this past summer. I must admit that it was freeing not to be entering my food into My Fitness Pal and I even ate breakfast (which I don’t do ordinarily with the 16 hour fast each day). Most recently, I took a break from tracking and clean eating when on a spring break vacation. And after a week, I confess that I am eager to get back on track (literally tracking). I have come to understand that these breaks are key for me to maintain this lifestyle and I have started incorporating them every 6-7 weeks – maybe not an entire week but at least a few days of freedom.
No year in review would be complete without addressing the holidays. Dread…I fell off the wagon. I didn’t just take a week off. I would be good all day and then fall into cocktails, treats, and general bad choices in the evening. Then I would not post nor share my daily updates with the Facebook group (reminder to read my original post with the ins and outs of the program). I continued to workout; because I’m confident doing so, but I definitely was not diligent with my eating. And come January, when I finally had the courage to take stock (which included stepping on the scale – a big “no-no” with the program), I saw the consequences of my lack of will power. I had regained 7 pounds (nearly half of my original loss)! I was so discouraged that all of my hard work could be reversed. But, if I’m honest, I started sliding in early November – so after nearly 8 weeks of poor choices, of course I would experience repercussions.
In January, I stopped the VIP program I had joined and re-enrolled in the first 6 week program of the new year. I felt that the smaller group would provide me with greater accountability and the set time frame would give me a greater sense of working towards a goal. I recruited several of my friends to rejoin me as well. It felt great to be back at on track and, even after just a couple of weeks, I was feeling a lot better. I had more energy, experienced better sleep, and my clothes began to fit better. After completing the 6 weeks, I felt back in control and rejoined the VIP membership group. While the VIP group is larger, the workouts are more challenging and I don’t have the sense of “starting over” each 6 weeks. 4 months later, I feel recommitted, reinvigorated and I’m re-sharing with all of you!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I get hungry fasting until noon each day?
Yes, I get hungry around 11:00. But honestly, I got hungry around 11:00 when I ate breakfast each day! I believe that your body gets in a routine with regards to eating (it’s proven with sleep as well). It’s also freeing not to eat breakfast. I get the kids out the door each morning while drinking coffee, I exercise, get ready, and begin my day without having to take a break for food. Then, I eat two substantial meals for lunch and dinner. I’m hungry then and I look forward to, plan and prepare a balanced plate rather than eating what’s available or what I have made for my kids.
Is tracking your food daily difficult?
Once you get the hang of the My Fitness Pal app, it becomes pretty intuitive to track your food. I’m also a creature of habit, and generally eat the same things during the week. It’s easy to use when you eat similar things because the app stores what you enter. The real challenge is guess-timating when I eat out or at an event when I didn’t prepare the food. But I just do my best to enter the ingredients. I really do live Amanda’s motto of “Progress not Perfection.” And yes, tracking food is yet another thing I do in my day but I’ve found that it’s the only way that I stay accountible and mindful of what I am eating.
Are the workouts challenging?
I think that this answer really depends on your level of fitness prior to beginning the program. The workouts generally take me about an hour (including warm-up and stretching). There are 5 workouts per week – 2 interval-based cardio workouts and 3 weight-lifting. Amanda and team offer a beginner, at home and gym workout plan each week. They are designed with recommendations for each day, but I will vary and move the days based on my schedule for the week. There are also two rest days that are considered “low macro” days, when you eat 25% fewer calories. I generally do not workout on those days (and choose them based on my family’s schedule) but hiking, walking, and yoga are also great for these days.
Do I really have to join a Facebook group with strangers?
Yes, you do. This is one of the reasons that contributed to my success with this program. As I shared in my previous post, I was totally not into this when I began my first 6 weeks, but it is actually a part of the program that I have come to enjoy the most. The accountability and support offered by your fellow participants is a major motivation and a key component to making this program work. I personally enjoyed the connections I made with a group of strangers and I was surprised by just how much we had in common, aside from a commitment to healthier living.
Does it become easier?
It does take time to adjust. And the program seems overwhelming at first – carb cycling, daily fasting, macronutrients, My Fitness Pal, weight-lifting – they all may be new to you. They were to me. This is also one of the benefits of the Facebook group. You can ask questions. Amanda and her team are very responsive. And other participants offer what is working for them. And, it does become second nature. Prior to the 6 weeks, you do have a “prep week” to begin to practice and prepare. I truly believe that it took much of my first 6 week program to get the hang of it all. And then I followed up with another round to solidify and practice my learnings.
Do I have to give up everything I love?
No! No. Life has to be worth living. Could I live without ice cream?? Most certainly not. I still eat cheese (albeit sparingly), enjoy desserts (probably more often than I should), and drink. For the most part, I eat what I am feeding my family and I’m eating whole foods. I also have a job that requires entertaining and eating out often and I am still able to do those things and stay on track. Do I fall into an Easter basket of candy? I sometimes still do. I’m still working through my addiction to sugar. Do I save my treats only for leg day? Not always. I’m living that mantra “Progress Not Perfection” and applying it to all aspects of my life.
Are there other benefits aside from weight-loss?
Aside from the confidence that losing weight and being in control of your diet provides, I have found that I am sleeping much more soundly. I think this is due in part to intermittent fasting. Studies have shown that your body has time to heal and address other issues when not constantly digesting (it takes the body 12-13 hours to digest your last meal). I have been fairly healthy this past year, which I also attribute to healthier food choices coupled with fasting. I am also working on being more mindful with all aspects of my daily life, not just eating. I make choices throughout my day and making good ones around food empowers me to make other good choices (for example, how I spend my time, how I react to events, and respond to other people). In general, I feel like I am prioritizing myself and my own well-being in an effort to live a more fulfilled and meaningful, healthy life.
How do I sign up?
The next 6 week program begins April 23rd (yes, Monday). Here is the link. Please DM, email or comment with any additional questions.
Thanks for reading! Happy Friday. ~Jenn