21 Day Fix Extreme Meal Planning Experience

Meal Planning.....Woah boy did I NOT want to do this. My whole food philosophy is based on not counting calories, not doing portion control and measurements....just eat real food. Well, I have to admit, while that ABSOLUTELY works for everyday energy, health, happiness, and weight management it's not quite enough structure to shred down for a physique competition.

I went back and forth for awhile trying to decide how I wanted to prep for the Beachbody Classic - should I do Whole 30? Should I do Whole 30 with the 21 day fix containers? Should I stick with my regular meals and just be more careful about desserts, second helpings and eliminating any remaining processed ingredients? Finally, I decided to go with the 21day fix extreme meal planning because 1) it's structured 2) It allows me to be a  better coach for those in my challenges who already meal plan - now I have experienced it too! 3) 21 day fix extreme comes with a SPECIFIC additional meal plan for competition prep. BOOM. Gonna do that and trust the process.

So my plan (based on a recommendation from my friend who has competed before me) was to start 21 day fix extreme 28 days prior to the competition, and start the countdown to competition meal plan 21 days prior (you should not do this meal plan longer than that because of the restrictions!). I also decided to begin the REGULAR extreme meal plan that additional week ahead of time to kind of get in the groove of how it works and be familiar with the foods and concepts.

The First Week

Week 1 I was in the 1800-2000 calorie bracket of the "regular" extreme meal plan which came to 5 green containers, 5 red (protein) containers, 3 purple (fruit) 4 yellow ( carb) 1 orange (seeds/dressings) 1 blue (nuts/fats) and 5 tsp (oils/nut butters).

The first week went REALLY well. I went from 119lb to 116lb and felt like I had TONS of food. In fact, I couldn't finish my containers some days! Now to be fair, I did start this while on my period (sorry TMI!) but I may have had more water weight than normal contributing to the fast weight loss.

Positives of the first week: The food tasted great, I lost weight pretty much every day, and I did NOT feel deprived! In fact, I think that it helped me up my carbs, fruits and greens which was great for me!

Cons of the first week: Getting used to meal prep is hard. The first few days it took some serious time to figure out what I wanted to eat and how it fit in the plan. It's also relatively restrictive if you want to be hard core about it because you only have so many recipes to choose from! I will say I caught on pretty quickly and the planning became easier. I have only done the planning a day or two at a time because my husband was doing it with me, so we would organize it between the two of us to utilize leftovers and empty the fridge before moving on!

The Second Week 
(the FIRST week of countdown to competition plan)

The way Countdown to Competition works is a carb cycling pattern. For 2 days you cut fat and fruit completely out and limit your carbs to almost nothing. You focus mostly on getting your greens and upping your protein containers to compensate for depleting everything else. Then you go one day back on the regular plan. So it's 2 days high protein low carb, no fat, and 1 day of higher carb, fruit, and some fat.

I will admit - this week was VERY frustrating. I didn't lose ANY weight and I had been very excited to try countdown to competition to shred it all out! haha I fluctuated up and down .5lbs the whole week and I was SUPER strict. I even dropped down a calorie bracket towards the end of the week to see if that helped, it didn't really. Mentally this was very frustrating. Where normally I would be so happy with me strength progress and totally fine with my body and how I feel and look, this week was a battle because prepping for a competition is stressful! You feel the pressure - even if it's only from yourself.

One tip I figured out for myself in regards to prepping for the high protein days is to make 2-3 types of meat and 2-3 types of greens so you have a stockpile in the fridge and you can mix and match. This way it's available, and it's not, you know, chicken and broccoli every meal 8 times a day haha!

Positives of the second week: Well....honestly I was super stressed and cranky, so it was tough. But learning how to push through is always a positive - facing challenges and showing yourself you can do it is always good!

I tried Greek Yogurt (I'm normally dairy free) and seemed to tolerate it really well! I've since had it 2 more times and it looks like I can add it back into my diet if I want to. YAY!

Cons: Cranky, no weight loss, less variety in the foods!

Start of week 3

I have an amazing husband who helps me remember my goals, and helps me pause to see my progress. I am on day 3 of week three and I have officially bumped down a bracket and I'm mostly within the 1400-1800 calorie range now.  As I type this and I have made a few changes - overall I think it's helping me see progress and less emotional and mental frustration. 

Basically, I cheat a little. This whole plan (even the regular) is super low fat which I don't really agree with - at least not to the extent that this plan goes. It's VERY little fat and I'm used to having a LOT more in my regular diet. I don't think twice about eating avocados, grabbing a spoonful of sunbutter, or cooking with my olive or coconut oil. All of those are really restricted and I think it started to take it's tole on me physically and mentally. SO I added some fat back in when I feel like it on days where I'm not supposed to. For example, on a no fat day I made a "Cereal" out of flax seed, chopped nuts, a little almond milk and stevia. I still measured things out and didn't go overboard, but it was technically "off-plan". 

I have also shaken it up with my greens. These have been difficult for me to find variety because when you are paying attention to oils and you normally roast your veggies in oil this makes it tricky! I've had lots of steamed broccoli and green beans! :) The past week was REALLY busy and stressful ( I was studying for my NASM personal trainer certification - and I passed!), so I made some compromises and got some store-bought green juices to count for my greens on the go. I have tried to choose mostly green ones but sometimes they have a fruit in them also. Oh well. This is real life guys and no one got fat or ruined their progress from drinking a green juice that also happened to have an apple. I also made a fresh juice for myself the other day which was nice - I miss them! I used kale, lemon, carrots, and ginger for that one. MMMMM

I've also upped my workouts. While I've been pushing the whole time, I wanted to push even harder so I've doubled up my workouts to do back to back 21 day fix Extreme followed by 21 day fix.  I've enjoyed that! 

Positives of week 3: Towards the end of week 2 into week 3 I finally budged on the scale again (yay!). A little more flexibility in my mentality has been great. I would rather feel healthy and mentally strong than deplete myself and weigh a few pounds less.

Cons: This week isn't over yet, but yesterday and today I've been really hungry! This may be because I've upped my workouts, but yesterday I woke up early and blew through tons of my meal plan by noon! Paying attention to the containers is tricky. 

More to come! :)