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Most people find the food the hardest thing, but I didn't mind eating salmon for breakfast, and the portions were huge. But the insane amounts of spinach and Total Greek Yoghurt are overwhelming even if you're greedy like me. Sadly I also went out at weekends which basically meant I was burning drinks, not fat. Plus I couldn't get my head around the idea of eating so much to get in shape, so I didn't always have my snacks, which is supposed to help fuel your body to burn fat and build muscle.
But then I gave myself a kick up the butt - Cycle 1 is where you're supposed to see the most changes, and if I wasn't going to commit to this, what was the point? But this lack of results was all my fault really. On the plus side, I wasn't as reliant on my morning coffee, was sleeping better and got so fit I was nailing HIIT classes in my gym. So fitness wise, there was a huge improvement. Cycle 2 is the muscle-building phase - where you eat a lot more carbs and start combining mini HIIT workouts with weight training.
Plus all those carbs tend to bloat you a bit after Cycle One. So people 'feel' like they look bigger, even if they definitely aren't.
You do four workouts a week, which are pretty intense loads of weight training lunges on leg day, I joke not , combined with two mini HIIT workouts. They still only take about an hour MAX though. On rest days, you have no carbs really, but you still have the snacks. The meals are also "Pick and Mix", so you have measurements for everything, but you make up your own meals rather than following a set meal plan. This involves a lot of adding up and creativity - I quickly worked out my go-to meals, and batch-cooked them on a Sunday for the week.
Or, if I was away, I got up at 6am on a Monday and made five portions of spag bol. My colleagues regularly joked about my love of mince. Part of this was fuelled by me joining the AMAZING unofficial Facebook group for the plan, filled with amazing fellow 'Leanies' doing the same thing, where you could laugh about gross meals or difficult leg days, or cheer on someone's amazing transformation.
I loved weight training, and the carbs also made eating out much easier if I couldn't bring in a meal. I also managed to drink less too which definitely helped my results.
Again, I didn't go completely cold turkey, because I wasn't going to be that person and cancel the fancy birthday dinner with my parents, or not toast my mate at his own wedding. Also, gross out time: Bloating did occur where I looked like I was pregnant, and I had some weird bowel movements on this cycle guess I wasn't used to all the pasta, bagels and rice cakes. So many rice cakes.
But any discomfort really did go away after some peppermint tea or on rest days. You go back to Cycle 1 principles, so you're only eating carbs after a workout. Then you're doing hardcore weight training coupled with 16 minute HIIT workouts, four times a week. This is where you're supposed to strip back more fat so all your hard-earned lean muscle is now on show, and where most people see their biggest change.
The workouts are brutal - but again, quite short, and you've built up to it for two months already, so it's not THAT bad except leg day. And shoulder day. OK every day is hard. In Cycle 3, I began to actively miss the carb bloats. Because without sweet, sweet carbs, my insane workouts were knackering, and I became heavily reliant on my two coffees and a sugar-free fizzy drink to get through the day.
But, after headaches in the first week, I didn't miss the carbs as much, and my sugar cravings had basically gone. Hangovers on Cycle 3 were [horrific], so I tried to drink as little as possible.
While I continued to love the weight-training, I definitely got a bit bored with the sheer amount of reps required - on leg day, I had to do 50 , 40, 30, 20, 10 squats, then 20, 40, 60, 80, lunges. But on the plus side, I really felt improvements in this Cycle - by the final week, I had squatted my own body weight. My Cycle 3 progress was, however, severely dented by a two week holiday to America to see my family, two weeks in, where I couldn't really stick to plan and wanted to eat ALL the peanut butter.
But it also meant I got my fill of junk food, and felt absolutely bloated after my holiday, so I came back wanting to stick to the plan and get it done with! It's weird, but after three months of dedicating your life to something, you expect some sort of medal sort it out, Joe , but instead, you get a friendly email and a 'graduation' report, which tells you what exercise you should do and what 'macros' the amounts of fats, carbs, and protein you need to eat if you want to lose more fat, gain muscle or maintain your shape.
So, did I transform into a lean winner? Did I end up with a six pack?
Well, not quite. And that's probably down to those holidays and slip-ups off plan I had. But comparing my photos over time, I realised I'd still lost body fat around my waist and hips and boobs , and I'd toned up all over.
More importantly though, I'd never felt so confident about my body. Wicks' success is ultimately down to his savvy social-media presence: his Leanin15 videos feature him throw together healthy meals in just 15 seconds, which he promises, when combined with his high-intensity interval training HIIT , will leave you looking ripped - much like the man himself, whose baby-face features can't have hindered his soaring popularity.
Yes, business is booming for Wicks: his new recipe book, Lean in 15, has sold K copies in just four weeks. He tells me he never imagined he would be so successful.
It was just having fun, connecting with an audience, sharing my ideas. According to Wicks, about people sign up to the plan every day.
I was asked to send my weight and measurements, and to upload "before" shots of my body cringe , so my progress could be tracked throughout the 90 days. As well as following Wicks's diet, you're required to work out four times a week.
I cycle 13km to work, circuit train and go to dance class regularly - I'd keep this up throughout the plan. Cycle one A few days after filling out the questionnaire, I received Cycle One of the programme - my handbook for the next 30 days - and assigned a personal trainer who would support me throughout the plan via email.
The Body Coach team designed a tailored food programme for me: I would be eating three meals and two snacks a day. The fat, protein and carbohydrate content of my meals were carefully constructed to suit my body composition and activity levels.
Wicks admonishes severe calorie restriction, teaching that fat loss can only comfortably occur when the body's energy demands are met with a small calorie deficit, paired with specific macronutrient timing. Cycle One is all about shifting excess fat so most of my meals were low in carbhoydrates and high in protein and fat; carbs were only included in post-workout "refuel" meals.
I spent a couple of hours every weekend cooking in bulk so my meals were ready for the week ahead - preparation is key. I couldn't believe how much I was eating at the start, but as I neared the end of the first 30 days, my appetite grew and I found myself feeling hungry more often - a sure sign that my metabolism was speeding up.
The high fat and protein content of my meals was nauseating initially, but my body soon adapted. But I'm teaching that you can eat a lot more food - and the same thing always comes up, 'Is this too much food? I know I'm good on social media, but the fact that it works At this point, my energy was up, my skin was glowing and my sleep quality had improved so much. My colleagues even start to compliment me on how well I was looking.
Cycle two A few days after submitting my Cycle One results, Cycle Two arrived in my inbox, complete with new dieting rules and a whole new set of recipes. In this cycle, you can get creative, making your own meals using Wicks's pick-and-mix principles.