A month ago, I mentioned that I would be participating in Kayla Itsines’ 2019 SWEAT 12-week challenge. Despite what was suggested for my fitness goals, I still decided to commit to her original BBG program. I’m in a BBG support group on Facebook and many have said for toning up and building muscle on my already slim body, I would be better off doing PWR or BUILD for fast results. Since it’s my first time participating in any type of fitness challenge though, I wanted something that was realistically doable so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed & quit early on. Nothing too intimidating like complicated gym equipment just yet – I figured I’d benefit greatly from first building strength & endurance, as well as focusing on form. Since my body type is most similar to Kayla’s amongst the SWEAT trainers, I figured BBG would be a great start. I know some of you have been wondering what my progress has been like so far. How about a one month update?! 😀
YES – I survived the first four weeks!
In case you aren’t familiar with how BBG works and are interested in possibly trying it, let me give you a quick run-down. Every week, there’s 3 resistance training sessions, 3 LISS (low-intensity steady state) sessions, 1 recovery day, 1 rest day, and 1 optional challenge. Ideally, you’ll want to stretch and foam roll as frequently as necessary throughout the week to help your body recover. For the sake of simplicity, I have kept up with Kayla’s calendar: leg day on Mondays, arms & abs on Wednesdays, full body on Fridays, and LISS on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On some LISS days, I’ll schedule in recovery if I’m feeling sore, or throw in a weekly challenge if my body can handle it. Sundays are rest days spent recovering.
Despite how easy Kayla makes her exercises look, the resistance training is NO joke! Minus warm-up and cool-down, each session is 28 minutes long, with 2 circuits of 4 exercises. She has 7 minutes allotted for each circuit, to be completed twice. You’re supposed to repeat the exercises until the 7 minutes is up. Of course, there’s a minute or so dedicated to a quick rest/water break in between each circuit. I am NOT one to sweat easily… but let’s just say, it’s not called the SWEAT app for no reason!
When I first started, my LISS sessions were mostly spent on the treadmill for 30 minutes at 3.8 mph with no incline. The weather got really nice in Palm Springs, so I started alternating between treadmill sessions and outdoor walks. My outdoor walks would go for 30 minutes as well, around my neighborhood. Eventually, I got a little bored of just walking every other day because I walk even on non-LISS days. So, I started throwing in 30 minutes of steady rowing at the gym instead. I found this to be a great way to not only complete LISS, but also work out my arms and back, minus the intensity that comes with resistance training.
Here’s what my BBG progress looked like this month:
As expected, getting through the first week was challenging. I had to take breaks often in between & during exercises, and leg day absolutely KILLED me. I was sore from the next day all the way until full body day. Push-ups were hard; I started out on my toes and ended up on my knees towards the end. On average, I got through 1-1.5 rounds per circuit in the allotted 7 minutes. For LISS, I stuck with treadmill only at 3.8 mph, no incline, for 30 minutes. To ensure that my body could endure the full week of resistance training, I stretched and foam rolled very often. Foam rolling hurt a lot, but definitely helped speed up recovery. I managed to complete the 300-rep arm burner challenge for the first time.
Leg day this week was a LOT harder than last. There are a lot more jumping exercises, which I’m not the biggest fan of… burpees are my weakness! Needless to say, I had to take a good amount of breaks in between exercises, but still kept a steady pace. For LISS, I switched it up some between outdoor walk and steady rowing for 30 minutes each. I felt a little defeated because I was told that I needed to start incorporating protein shakes after my workouts if I wanted to see results. I tried a whey protein shake that David made me and it was absolutely HORRIBLE. Even with plenty of tasty berries, the aftertaste is not something I can handle. I felt discouraged but decided there had to be other ways to get the protein I needed. I already eat high-protein foods like eggs, fish, lean meat, and greek yogurt. Health & fitness shouldn’t be dreadful or you’ll give up, and I’m not about to let this bring me down. I’m willing to take the slower progress and in the mean time, figure out foods that I can eat (AND enjoy) to maximize my results. Recommendations are welcome, but I can’t have peanut butter or any nuts as I’m allergic! Protein bars are iffy too because they may be produced in nut facilities… and well, they also don’t taste great from my experience so far. I wasn’t as sore as I was in the first week, so I completed the 600-rep ab challenge right after arms & abs resistance. During the challenge, I learned that it wasn’t the best idea to do these back to back, because I couldn’t finish the challenge well without sacrificing form. I still made it to the end, but was totally dead afterwards.
I found a blog post that Kayla shared with high-protein smoothie recipes! Some with NO protein powder. THANK GOD!!! I gave the first one a try with some modifications. I didn’t have oranges, so I skipped that but incorporated a banana, frozen berries, oats, flaxseeds, and greek yogurt. It was AMAZING. This will be in place of the “protein shake” for me, for now. And probably for a while… haha! Leg day doesn’t seem to get any easier… lol! My arms & shoulders were unusually sore, so I might have worked myself harder than I did before on arm day. My period came on Friday (full body day) and I still surprisingly CRUSHED the workout. I did have to substitute the burpees with one-minute planks though, because my body wasn’t having all the jumping. LISS was a combo of 30 minutes walking and sunshine, or rowing as usual.
Building up the endurance – I got through 1.5-2 rounds per circuit in the allotted 7 minutes. 😉 Surprisingly, I felt an unusual surge of energy. This week, I managed to get through a total of 4 resistance training sessions (the extra one targeted abs because I just LOVE ab workouts), 5 LISS sessions, and the 300-rep arm burner challenge again. BOOM! All that and barely sore at all – my body is responding well! LISS was a combination of rowing, treadmill, and outdoor walks for 30 minutes each. Since beginning the challenge, I’ve realized that I get hungry often and have been eating heaps more – healthy foods, that is!
Overall, I would say that the changes in physical appearance have been quite subtle so far. I’ve noticed more changes in how I feel, rather than how I look. Like many, I seek instant gratification but know that building muscle on my body will take time.
My body definitely feels stronger now that I have made BBG part of my lifestyle. I’ve been nourishing my body with fresh whole foods and plenty of water. As a result, I’m more energized, productive, and feeling a lot of happy hormones… I know that’s a thing now! Even on rest days, my body will crave exercise which I never thought would ever happen. All that, in itself, is a life-changing accomplishment worth celebrating!
My abs feel a bit harder/tighter, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that they look more defined. Not consistently, anyway. David says they do but I think he’s obligated to tell me that so I don’t get discouraged LOL! My back and legs are toning up, but nothing too noticeable in photos. I’m totally okay with that because I love my legs and want to keep them long and lean – no bulk for me there. But can we talk about ARMS?! My arms are growing a tiiiiiny bit – those baby guns are coming out slowly (check out that week 3 photo)! 😉
For the dumbbell workouts these 4 weeks, I used 2 five-pounders. I just bought 2 new eight-pounders that I’ll be upgrading to for the next 4 weeks. Since I’m not lifting weights at the gym yet, I want to do what I can to challenge myself doing BBG at home. Going forward, I also want to meet my 10k steps goal everyday! With cold stormy weather here and there the past few weeks, it’s been too easy to be lazy at home. 🙁
The PRE-BBG photo was taken on January 1st this year. Before starting the challenge, I did do a few “trial runs” of Kayla’s program on-and-off with my gym routine & fitness classes at the time to get a feel for it. With that said, I toned up just a bit from before I worked out at all. So no, I didn’t always have abs – though my stomach has always been flat and body fat percentage low. In November 2018, I was pretty much starting out with absolutely no arm muscle at all! Prior to the challenge, I was under 100 pounds (fluctuated between 95-97 pounds). Gaining weight has always been a struggle for me (but I’m still thankful for my fast metabolism haha). 4 weeks into BBG, I have FINALLY broken 100! I am at 101 pounds (45.8 kilograms) now – about 10-15 pounds from my goal weight in muscle. For me, even the littlest gains are wins 🙂 This journey has been eye-opening not only because I’m getting stronger, but also because I’m feeling more connected than ever with my amazing body!
For those who have or are participating in BBG – What was your experience like? When did you start noticing physical and non-physical changes?