Diet Diagnosis: The Get Fit Challenge

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THE BACKGROUND: POST CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY SELF-LOATHING

By late December, the amount of holiday headspace that my weight (about 3kg more than my new normal) was occupying was unacceptably high. I was spending an inordinate amount of precious sea, sun, sand and family time thinking about how tight my pants were. It had to stop. I needed an intervention and I needed to be invested – financially and emotionally. That’s when I found The Get Fit Challenge. I’d come across a year or so before in a fitness magazine or on Facebook but I’d decided that Peter Place was too far to travel for an exercise class. Fast forward to January 2016 and I was willing to to commute…

90% DIET, GIRLS. (AND SAY BYE BYE TO BUBBLY)

A few days before the challenge started, we were invited to a briefing. Lesley, the female trainer, looked us in the eye and said that getting in shape was 80% diet. She added that for women, it might even by 90% diet. She told us that was no allowance for alcohol during the challenge. Not one drop. We all looked at one another in shock with our post holiday bellies and diaries full of dinner plans. What? No alcohol AT ALL? (I lasted consecutive 34 days before succumbing to a glass or three of Cap Classique. 34 out of 84 days. Not even halfway).

THE GET FIT CHALLENGE DIET

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It’s spartan

The Get Fit Challenge was started in Durban by two personal trainers from Virgin Active who wanted to help their clients actually see visible results. The key is obviously the diet. I’m only able to review it from my perspective, obviously, but also only from a female perspective. Without giving away Get Fit’s intellectual property, I’ll give you an idea of how the diet works. In short, it’s what I call… ahem… “spartan” – i.e. light on content (but probably contains sufficient calories for health purposes).

Say cheers! (to your social life)

I won’t lie, I found it very challenging (but I would say that about every diet). It’s simplicity suited me though. Travel/ holidays and social engagements made it much, much harder for me. I don’t have a hectic social life, so that helped, especially with the “no booze” policy but I found myself making fewer plans which involved drinking or eating out. As a result, my lame social life went from below average to pathetic.

There is sugar in, like, everything

If you stick to the diet to the letter, you consume: no dairy, no fruit, very specific, healthy carbs only and no carbs after lunch. (I didn’t even attempt cutting out milk in coffee and I ate some fruit, but tried not to eat lots of it and tried to choose lower sugar/ lower calorie fruit like strawberries, blueberries or melons though I sometimes went a bit wild and consumed banana or apple).

Breakfast

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For breakfast they tell you to have protein and carbs, but ideally no bread as breads off the shelf contain sugar. (I’ve never really understood before why bread is evil unless you are gluten intolerant. Now I know.) I either ate three scrambled eggs with 100% rye toast or Oats (the original ones that are really, really bland as a result of having no crap added to them) with some whey protein. Let me tell you now that I cannot stand pills and potions (aka supplements and shakes). I often eat my breakfast post work-out while driving kids to school. One morning Chiara’s classmate was sitting behind me in the car when he got a whiff of my whey protein. “Eeeeuwww!!!! What’s that SMELL??” he shouted so loudly I think the whole of the Sandton CBD could hear. Chiara then gave a good sniff and together they began a cacophony of mock-vomiting noises from the backseat. I kind of agree. Whey protein is fake and gross.

Snacks

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Mid-morning and afternoon, you’re supposed to snack on biltong or protein shakes or half a can of tuna or such-like. I tried to avoid this: I don’t think biltong is healthy and it makes me even thirstier than usual. I also loathe drinking my “food”. But if you’re on the run, it’s not so easy to carry around your half handful of smoked mackerel for your 3pm snack…

Lunch and dinner

For lunch and dinner you eat a very small portion of lean protein with veg and/or salad. At lunch you need to have some brown rice or sweet potato and somewhere in the day you throw in a tiny morsel of healthy fat. I don’t like nuts so I would have half an avo at lunch which was like manna from heaven and at night I would half choke on my bone dry chicken breast or piece of fish pan-fried with Spray and Cook.

In short, the diet is a riot but it obviously works if you can stick to it.

THE GET FIT CHALLENGE EXERCISE CLASSES

You sign up for a 6-week/ 8-week or 12-week challenge. (I did the latter – it was the one that started the soonest in January and that’s why I chose it). You pay up-front to attend a Get Fit class once, twice or three times a week. If you work it out, you pay about R180 per class so the cost is similar to a Sweat 1000 class, for example, if you’re able to attend all the classes you pay for. I signed up for twice a week at a cost of R4,200. During the twelve weeks, I was out of town twice for a total of two weeks. I also got gastro which put me out for a week. So I ended up wasting about 7 sessions which I wasn’t able to catch up because of times/ location/ traffic/ other commitments etc.

The classes consist of intense resistance training for short intervals at a time. Not totally dissimilar to “The Grid” at Virgin Active, but what sets the Get Fit classes apart is the awesome, super-fast paced music. I found I could cope fairly easily with some of the exercises in a class and others were really challenging for me. Some people were super fit, in great shape and were coming to class purely for fitness maintenance purposes, others were trying to start exercising after a long break, it appeared. The theory is that you can sort of go at your own pace. I battled to remember what to do at the different stations (it gets explained up-front before the class starts) so I would also try to pair up with at least one other person which made the experience easier and more fun.

RESULTS & RECOMMENDATIONS

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BEFORE: Jan 2016: 64kg. AFTER: April 2016: 61kg

For me, it was a great kickstart to shed the extra 3kg that were really bugging me. I’m bummed I’m not able to put up a picture of a six-pack. According to Get Fit’s assessment, I am a mere 4kg away from body fat of 18%, which would be “excellent” for my, ahem… age (37). So close and yet so far… For real inspiration, check out the Challenge’s winners and finalists here.

I would definitely recommend the Challenge if you live or work close to Coachman’s Crossing in Peter Place and you need to have something to lose like your time, money or dignity, when you don’t stick to a diet after Day 2. I lost all of these in spades in those 12 weeks but am happy to report that at least I lost a few kilos too, so I consider the experience worth my while.

(The next challenge is a 12 week challenge and it starts on 9 May. You can sign up here.)

(I wrote this post entirely independently with no payment or input from Get Fit. These are purely my views and my experiences).

4 comments

  1. Hi Natalie, Good for you! I started gaining much later in life, after I retired and when it went past 20 extra pounds, I went to Jenny Craig. The diet is much more varied, includes fruit and even tiny desserts. Portions are very small. You exercise on your own, but I’ve always done some kind of activity so just kept up my regular gym workouts. After about a year I’d lost the 20 pounds plus about 4 inches around my waist and hips, which is where I gain. The best day was when I put on a skirt, zipped it, and it fell off! The bad news is that you pretty much have to stay on some sort of diet to maintain the weight. Bummer, as Justin would say.

  2. Thanks, Sula. More dedication and commitment required to achieve ultimate goal obviously, but then one starts to think “to what end? at what cost?” Kind of silly in the greater scheme of things but I write about the frivolous issue of weight and diets because I know I’m not alone in cyber space in having these issues take up my headspace…

  3. Hi Joan. It’s comforting to hear you’re human too. I just put it down to good genes when I met you and zero indication of laziness – either mental or physical. Yip, I totally agree, it’s a lifelong balance of enjoying food but exercising moderation.

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