Hi there! I finally got to post something again. I admit I had been lazy and uninspired to write. But here I am again, reporting for duty, sir!
So, anyway. I’m happy to report that I just finished Kayla Itsines’ 12-week BBG challenge last week. Yey, me! I still can’t believe that I was able to get over my fears and complete the entire challenge. I’d tell you all about this later.
I’d also like to report that I decided to redo the challenge instead of moving on to Week 13. This is because I’m still not that confident and I feel like I didn’t give my 100% to the workouts. Personally, I can’t leave things like that so I am starting over with Week 1 and giving it my all this time.
So, here goes my journey.
Flashback: Why I Started to Become Fit
When I was growing up in the province, the adults’ idea of “healthy” was being fat… or at least chubby. Since I was never the skinny kid, I got the malusog compliments and even won in two “healthy child” awards during Nutrition Month, where we were gauged by our physical appearance. So, at an early age, I thought that being skinny was a gauge of malnutrition.
Things started to change when I left the very provincial Occidental Mindoro and settled in Nueva Ecija for high school. I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that skinny is the measure of health here. Here, I first learned that I was overweight… and when you’re overweight, you get laughed at. I had always been this it-may-be-my-attitude-but-it’s-your-problem kind of teenager, though, so being laughed at during our annual physical check ups didn’t bother me.
But things turned worse in college. I met my first love and he would always tease me about my weight. I thought I wasn’t really that fat. I was just overweight but I was not obese. He teased me anyway. I would like to believe he didn’t mean to be rude and damage me forever, but in the end that’s what happened: I started to believe nobody would love me because I was fat. (I’m not blaming him. I take full responsibility for reacting to his words the way I did.)
Hence, my self-confidence was totally wrecked. I started to believe whatever I achieved in life would be secondary to my physical appearance. I envied the people who stayed skinny despite eating all that junk food. I even blamed my parents for my genes. Any reference to my weight literally made me cry. I abhorred having my pictures taken because I’d hate the way I looked in them anyway. I loathed shopping for clothes because the pretty dresses on the mannequins looked horrible on me… or didn’t come in my size.
When I started to earn, I became obsessed on weight loss products. There was a time I drank slimming coffee from China and I literally blacked out and palpitated I stopped drinking coffee all together. Then, I bought those expensive fat blockers which promised to allow me to eat my favorite lechon and made me just fatter in the process.
Then, I became vegetarian and banished all the weight like magic.
Here is the point where you ask, “Isn’t this supposed to be a review of Kayla’s BBG? I didn’t sign up for a lecture on the benefits of a plant-based diet!” Hahaha. Yes, I’d start in a bit. Just let me finish.
In short, I became skinny by eliminating animal products in my diet. In 2016, I completely eliminated eggs and dairy, too, and chose to pursue the vegan life.
Alas, contentment is far from me. I was skinny, but I realized that for a woman approaching her 30’s, skinny didn’t look healthy. I did enjoy when people thought I was younger – but not because I actually looked youthful, but because I was teenage-thin. I looked weak and sickly. I started wanting something else. I wanted to be like Doutzen Kroes: lean and strong.
I also began thinking that by looking unhealthy, I was not being a good poster girl for veganism. (Yes, I have this not-so-secret illusion of being veganism’s poster girl here in my city.) Instead of being able to promote the benefits of not eating animals, I’d turn people off because I looked sickly.
I stopped wanting to be skinny. I began to want to be fit and strong.
My BBG Journey
In December 2017, I downloaded the SWEAT app. I discovered it because of Hong Kong Youtube fitness icon Emi Wong, who started her fitness journey with Kayla Itsines’ BBG. I had just started exploring Instagram by then (ikr, late bloomer here), and I was intrigued by the #transformationphotos of #bbggirls and #kaylasarmy.
Just a bit of background first. BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide – a fitness program and community created by Aussies Kayla Itsines and Toby Pearce. BBG started out as two books of two circuits of two sets of four 7-minute resistance workouts. (That was a tongue-twister!) The books covered Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-24. Soon, the books became part of the SWEAT app, available on Google Play and the App Store. The app also includes a meal guide. (It has vegan but I didn’t follow it.)
By the way, SWEAT is a paid app. I preferred the one-year subscription, which set me back with $115 (almost PhP6,000.00). Some would say paying the subscription was not worth it since you can just watch free workout videos on Youtube. But I’m the type of person who loses interest easily, and having paid for the program forces me to continue, since I want to get the most out of the money I paid.
Because I was never a #fitnessgirl even in my school days*, I began my BBG journey with two rounds of the four-week pre-training. You can read about my pre-training journey here. I did the beginner’s program twice because I thought I wasn’t ready yet for the 12-week challenge.
After Week 4 of my second round, I’ve decided to move on to the 12-week challenge. I wasn’t strong yet. I still struggled with my burpees, push ups, sit ups and jump lunges. But I knew I was stronger than I had been. Plus, I started to enjoy waking up early and start my day with an intense workout. After all, exercise releases endorphins, so I felt that my days were happier and I had more energy.
The program was a never ending struggle. In the beginning, I can’t do standard push ups yet, so discovering that I had to do mountain climbers with push ups was frustrating. Then, I found myself doing standard push ups, but before I can celebrate, burpees with push ups and raised push ups were being demanded of my unfit body. I also have a hate-hate-relationship with jump lunges that I want it removed from the program entirely. Lol. By the way, jump lunges exist in the program almost every week. How cruel, right?
But as the weeks progressed and the workouts became harder and more complicated, I found myself looking forward to every new week. I’m continually surprised at the things that my body can do and my endurance. I realized I love donning my workout clothes and I even have more sport bras than regular ones now. Haha!
By Week 8, people started noticing slight changes in my body. My boss even asked me if I worked out because my body was looking “sexy” – to which I happily said yes. Francis also noticed my not-so-jiggly arms anymore. As for me, I’m loving my arms and thighs, and I can see the subtlest signs of abs when I wake up in the morning. Lol.
Now, I’m not going to lie and post all raves about BBG here. After all, this is not a paid ad. Lol. But my BBG Journey is not all pleasant. There were times when I doubted myself because I can’t see the awesome transformations of other BBG girls happening to me. Some of them saw an incredible transformation in weeks’ time. Every now and then, Kayla would share transformation photos of others who are in her program and I’d ask myself, “What am I doing wrong?” Also, I have this bad habit of lurking over some people’s Instagrams and when they post their gains and mine do not measure up, I’d hate myself and sulk. No, I don’t blame the program, Instagram or Kayla, but all these #gains posts pour negativity over me.
The best thing is Kayla would post motivation messages on her account. She would constantly reminded us, her girls, not to compare our progresses with others. Everybody is different and every body is different. My journey is unique.
Right now, I’m on my Arms and Abs day of Week 1 (second round). I’m also incorporating HIIT workouts by my ever-favorite Emi Wong on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (just because I discovered that my body isn’t really in good terms with LIIS, which makes me sleepy and lethargic afterwards).
All in all, my 12-week BBG challenge journey was an awesome experience. Would I continue? Of course! After all, I paid for it. Lol. More importantly though, BBG 1.0 is a great way to kick start one’s fitness lifestyle, just like it did Emi Wong’s.
Tips for Beginners
For all those who wish to start with BBG, here are some of my tips to begin your own fitness journey:
- Get apparel you enjoy working out on. I love sports bras and yoga pants. Even if you’re working out at home, it’s more motivating if you’re channeling sporty vibes.
- Designate a specific space where you will workout ALL THE TIME. I forgot where I got this tip but the point is have a space that will remind you to workout each time you see it. Mine is this small rectangular space between my bed and dresser.
- Have your water bottle within easy reach. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Having said that, replenish those lost electrolytes by taking a teaspoon of sea salt with water after your workout.
- Get enough sleep! This is an absolute necessity, regardless of what program you follow. Your muscles have to recover. Currently, I get seven hours a night, but my target is nine.
- In the end, any workout program will not work without proper nutrition. BBG has a built-in meal plan, which I don’t follow, but I still make sure to eat clean and check my calories and macros. I’m fortunate to be vegan, cooking my own food, and following a whole foods, plant-based diet, so eating clean isn’t hard for me.
- Having said that, don’t stress over dieting. Don’t be overly obsessed with your calories and macros. Make sure you enjoy your food or else you’d start to think healthy eating is a burden and unnecessary suffering.
- You don’t have to buy special equipment. I have two 9-pound dumb bells for all the workouts that involved lifting (including squat and press, step ups, and crab walks). If you don’t have any, you can use filled up water bottles, or none at all. IT’S OKAY TO MODIFY.
- Listen to your body. If you can’t do the specified workouts, find alternatives. There are always modifications. Personally, I still find jump lunges hard, and I modify spider push ups and raised push ups.
- Probably counter intuitively and she might hate me, I don’t recommend following Kayla on social media. Or at least I limit myself to the motivational posts. The reposted transformation photos cause me distress and make me second-guess myself, so I’m learning to avoid seeing them. Don’t compare your progress with others. EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT.
- And finally, have a positive mindset over exercise. Psyche yourself that exercise is not a chore, or a burden, but a beautiful gift you are giving to yourself and to the world. After all, by keeping yourself healthy, you contribute to a healthy world. Through another app (Fabulous), I created this mantra that I tell myself before I start exercising: “Discipline is my asset. My discipline is for myself, for the planet, and for the animals.” Repeating my purpose keeps me motivated to continue despite the struggles.
So, there goes my BBG 12-week challenge journey! If you’re a fellow #bbggirl or a fitness newbie, you can comment on this post to share your journey and struggles. Stay healthy and strong!
*My chosen PE’s in college were PE 1 (lecture), walking, duck pin bowling, and cheer leading (which involved nothing but learning the cheers and arm movements and cheering for our basketball team). In high school, I pretended I had asthma to skip volleyball.