We've officially reached the finish line.
Nine weeks ago, inspired by Kumail Nanjiani's incredible body transformation for his role in Marvel's upcoming The Eternals, we set out on a journey to follow the teachings of the man who got him there, celebrity trainer and The Hollywood Body Plan author David Higgins.
So, we got David's book and secured his supplemental #Super program breakdowns, available for the first time after being put to the test on the casts of Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984 and more as part of a fundraising effort for his native Australia back when the wildfires raging across the nation were the biggest thing we had to worry about. We prepared to become intermittent fasters. And then, once the coronavirus became a truly global pandemic, we figured out how to do everything we thought we'd be doing in a gym in our homes instead.
And here we are, nine weeks later, with some seriously impressive results and a new outlook on fitness and health. It's safe to say this experience truly changed us both.
"Now you're at the level of understanding and knowledge and and physical strength that you can really turn your hand and try things that you never thought you wanted or couldn't do before in the past. So I would honestly say, if not working with me, that's totally fine, I get it, but if you try different things that you might enjoy, you'll be surprised how physically able you are and strong you are to actually keep up with these kinds of different programs, whatever it is," David encouraged during our final phone call. "Have a think about it and just have a bit of a play because this is now time for you to sort of take the shackles off and go, 'OK, I am strong enough. I'm confident enough in my own body to literally go and do whatever it is I want to do.' And that's a really empowering position to be in."
Before we say goodbye and head out into our fitness futures, feeling all sorts of empowered, we want to share some final thoughts on this experience and give you a peek at the physical transformations made. (If you want to catch up before reading on, you can find Parts One, Two and Three here.)
When I think back to how I felt nine weeks ago as we first started this journey compared to how I feel now, It seems like that was a totally different person. This experience has been transformative in so many ways that go beyond just the physical aspect of it. Nine weeks ago, I was almost regretful that I agreed to do something so far out of my comfort zone in such a public forum, 15 lbs. heavier due to my reliance on take out and possessed a lack of motivation to get fit. The person that I am now feels an overwhelming amount of guilt even just thinking about skipping a day of working out, a regular intermittent faster and I now enjoy fresh fruits and veggies as a snacks as opposed to something - anything - with a lot of carbs. Honestly, who am I?!
As far as diet went, I had to retrain my mind at the onset to eat to live instead of living to eat, and I think that philosophy really helped me as I traversed each week of working out and intermittent fasting. Simplifying my meals, sticking with what works and what's easy to make at home and choosing healthy snacks if I needed it all worked well for me. I am also quite proud to say that haven't had a sip of Diet Coke, which I drank regularly, since this began. I think I'm officially done with soda, which is something I never thought I'd actually say.
In terms of the working out, I'm so proud of myself. I was terrified to start this because the old me would creatively find ways to avoid physical activity and all the reps and rounds of SuperShe on paper seemed so overwhelming. But I overcame that fear more every week as I got comfortable with each workout, physically started to see results and surprised myself with how quickly I felt myself building strength based on being consistent and embracing the challenge. Each week was still a challenge, sometimes to find motivation or sometimes to find the physical strength, but I did it and gained some confidence along with all these new muscles.
I should also mention that my program really only lasted eight weeks because the Tuesday of our final ninth week, I sadly lost my grandfather and all working out and healthy eating went straight out the window as I took time to grieve with my family. I did a full workout one day, took a two mile walk another day and managed a few days of intermittent fasting but overall I wouldn't count that final week as being very productive and I think that's important to share here. My "after" photos, however, were taken on April 26th once all was said and done and I am still so proud of the progress that I made despite the setback in the last week.
The most meaningful and impactful part of this whole thing is how much I benefited mentally from eating healthy and staying active, especially in the COVID-19 era of isolation and quarantine. It all starts from within. I intend to stick with the intermittent fasting, find heavier weights and to realistically work out 3-4 days a week. I will also still stick with the SuperMe plan because rotating through those full body and lower body exercises made sense to me and, again, I learned throughout this process that if I stick with what works for me I have the best results. Maybe one day I'll actually be able to do a proper push up.
All in all, I lost 15 lbs., I never missed a day of working out (aside from my last four days, which I am giving myself grace for) and I'm as addicted to working out now as I was to drinking Diet Coke before so, overall, I achieved my goals. I even have a little bit of ab definition to show for it! I'm so grateful to finally find a fitness regimen that works for me and look forward to this healthy new lifestyle that I can confidently say has changed me for the better. To reference one of the greatest movies of all time, I feel like I just won the "Most Changed For the Better Since High School" award in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, so I'd like to thank Billy Christianson, Billy Nilles, David Higgins and everyone else who supported me throughout this transformation.
How does the saying go? If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans? That's sort of how embarking on this process felt. When I got the idea, all the way back in January, the world was burning—literally. And I thought it would be great to bring some awareness to David's cause while finally committing to a fitness program that was more than just "spent 45 minutes on the elliptical and then go home."
Who would've ever guessed that we'd be where we are today, isolated in our homes and clinging to whatever ounce of sanity we have left?
As the start date for Alli and I got closer and closer, it became abundantly clear that we weren't going to be able to do any of this as originally planned. Go to a gym? Not possible. Find all the equipment we'd need to do this at home? A process. And yet, we pulled it off. (And with the little gym I've built in my garage, I might not return to my membership even when it's considered safe. Sorry, Crunch!)
I look at that GIF of my before and after photos that our incredible Senior Creative Editor Melissa Herwitt made for us and I'm filled with pride. Of course, I still see all the areas that I need to continue to work on because my brain is a jerk like that, but there's such a marked difference in my body that I sit back and think, "I did that." And that's a good feeling.
So, let's recount the tangible differences: I am 14.5 lbs. lighter—and I still was able to allow myself the occasional piece of bread! None of my pants or shorts fit me anymore, they're all too loose at the waist. Shirts I haven't been able to wear in years don't feel so snug around the stomach anymore, but do feel a little tighter in the sleeve thanks to my growing arm definition. There's even a hint of ab on my body.
And the intangible: I've been converted to the intermittent fast lifestyle, having seen firsthand the benefits. I look forward to my workout after work, thankful for both the routine and the chance to check out from the day for just a bit. I've managed to stay sane during a truly dark and uncertain point in time. (Truthfully, I don't know how I would've gotten through these early stages of this pandemic without this to focus on.)
When this all started, nine weeks seemed like a very long time, holding a side plank for longer than 30 seconds seemed impossible, and feeling truly strong seemed like something I might have to keep pretending at.
But here I am, feeling like I've conquered it all.
And with the structure that these nine weeks have provided me—engrained in me, even—and an incredible framework from by David to build off of, I can't wait to see how I'm feeling in another nine weeks, and another after that. Because even though the program is over, my fitness journey is just getting started.
I may not have come out of this looking as ripped as Kumail, but I gained a self-confidence that feels even better. And who knows? Maybe by the time we're all able to gather for pool parties and beach days safely again, I'll actually have gotten there. Stranger things have happened.
For the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic and for tips on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please visit The Center for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov.