Fitness inspiration seems to be just as common as cats and nail art on Instagram. I follow a few exercise trainers for their tips and tricks though one in particular, @EmilySkye30DayShred, stood out for me. I don’t know much about her since she’s Australian, but apparently she’s a model/trainer who helps people lose weight the right way — eating clean and working out. She advertises a 30 Day Ab Shred program that includes a gluten-free meal plan (for both meat eaters and vegetarians) exercise regimen, grocery lists and access to workout videos and an online forum to interact with other people doing her plan. I decided to buy it (on sale) after seeing relatable before and after pictures.
It’s really taboo for me to say I’d like to be an “After” picture. I stand at 5’1 and weigh 117 and any time I’ve said anything food or exercise related to someone it’s always met with “You don’t need to do that.” I fall into the normal category on the BMI chart for my height and weight. However, I carry extra baggage around my stomach and thighs. Because I’m three apples tall, any weight gain is noticeable and my clothes become tight and uncomfortable quickly. I’m fine with my weight, I’m not looking to lose pounds, I’m looking to tone up.
I told myself Alexis, you are going to do this and finally be successful at clean eating and exercising! But after four and a half days on Emily’s program I quit. Here’s what happened:
You have to prepare every day’s meals in advance, there’s no getting around it. Unless you don’t have a job. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (except the rice cake snack) all require cooking or blending. I have to be at my job before 7 AM most mornings and there is no time for cooking and blending, and I absolutely hated coming home from an 11 hour day at work to cook dinner and then cook more after that. Today I learned that I don’t enjoy cooking.
Cost is another factor. My grocery bill for the food on her list came to $140. For one person. For one week. And that’s not even organic. The total for the list was $200 after I had to buy protein powder and a few bulk items at Costco. I don’t know how much this list costs Australians who’ve done her plan, but please share, because I need to know if fresh food is just really high priced or just inaccessible to Americans.
Did you know that the UN (via their food and agriculture organization) has ranked the US #2 among the fattest developed nations? 31.8% of our population is considered obese, Mexico recently unseated us as #1 by a mere 1%. No wonder it’s an epidemic, we can’t afford to eat fresh! After this, I won’t judge the contents of another person’s cart ever again. I was able to afford my fresh and healthy food, but everything non-essential I was planning on buying that week went out the window.
Storage is another con. You can’t cook the meals and store them as-is, some ingredients need to be separated until they’re ready to eat, so I was going to work with four or five tupperware containers plus my reusable water bottles. I have my own little fridge in my office so I was able to store everything. But in a shared fridge? Yikes.
A few of the recipes are vague and the portions sizes are larger than what the recipe dictates. There is also no nutritional information provided and several ingredients on her list I had to skip because they just weren’t available; raw honey and a pumpkin being the most memorable. Some of the recipes were exotic. I wasn’t a fan of the quinoa breakfast bowls which didn’t turn smooth and creamy like the directions said it would and the green smoothie came out like green water. The plan also relies heavily on coconut oil, eggs and spinach, so if you don’t like one or all of those things then it probably isn’t for you.
Other cons include the workout videos and forum. To gain access to the forum you need Facebook credentials, which isn’t advertised and it’s something I don’t have so I can’t use a presumably useful tool. Emily also advertises workout videos but her “videos” are actually just clips of her giving instruction on how to do each move correctly. Helpful, yes, but I can’t workout to 30 second clips while reading the routine on paper. She posts follow-along videos on Instagram, but those are sped-up and also 15 seconds.
On to the Pros!
Of the recipes I made in my 4.5 days, I repeated a few because they were so good. I was full until each meal, and I didn’t have any cravings for junk or sweets or snacks. I’m a serial snacker so this was a big deal.
Emily makes it as easy as possible to follow her plan; grocery lists are broken down by week, meals are already planned out per day as are the workouts. Her workouts are calisthenic-based and can be performed at home or at the gym. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do her workouts (because I was cooking!) but for shits and giggles I followed along to one of her Instagram workout posts in my PJs before bed and found them to be surprisingly hard — in a good way. I definitely see trimming up if you stick to them.
My conclusion is that Emily’s program isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. If your lifestyle allows for the adjustments that need to be made to follow her plan then the pros outweigh the cons immensely. While I couldn’t complete the challenge, I am going to be adding some of the recipes to my regular diet and I will be doing her workouts when I can. I can commit to that much.