If you read my Opening Up| How I Began Exercising Consistently – 6 Month Fitness Update! post, you will know that in January I began Sarah’s Day 8 Week Lifestyle challenge with her first e-book, Sweat It To Shred It. I enjoyed it so much, I then completed her follow up 8 week guide, Sweat It Reload. Following Sarah across her Instagram and YouTube over the last few years, I have always loved her passion and positivity, and felt inspired by her workouts. I could see through her vlogs just how much Sarah lives and breathes fitness into her lifestyle, and knew that this was something I wanted to introduce into my own life. In a world of influencers and many falsehoods, I appreciated her down to earth attitude and could relate to her motivation to train and to make a change in my own life, amongst my own motivators. I purchased these guides with the intention to help me get in the swing of regular exercise, and the hope it would slowly increase intensity, with just enough variety to avoid boredom that I previously had experienced. Ding, ding, ding! It did just that. In the introduction of her first guide, Sweat It To Shred It, she adds:
” I NOW WAKE UP EVERY MORNING EXCITED AND MOTIVATED TO TRAIN. NO MORE DREADING THE GYM, OR YOUR MORNING RUN. IT’S TIME TO MIX IT UP, HAVE FUN AND START SEEING RESULTS!”
And you know what, I absolutely felt the same way.
So, what was my fitness like at the start of the program? Prior to starting these challenges, I would rate myself as being on the lower-average fitness level for a woman of my age (25). I wasn’t terrible, but honestly my upper body strength was poor; I could barely do 1 ladies’ push up. I could run a mile on average in approximately 10.5 -11 minutes, with the odd fluke of a quicker time. I also enjoyed HIIT workouts in the past and was accustomed to Pilates every now again, however I hadn’t consistently stuck at exercising for a long time. My flexibility to start off with was also a challenge for me. So the fact these exercises were aimed to encourage flexibility development was a bonus. I had relatively strong abs but not much definition, and it (like most) was the main area I wanted to tone.
So how does it work? The workouts are designed to get you sweaty, active, to tone your body along with completing challenges and 15 min fat burners, proving that you that you don’t need to workout for 2 hours a day to get fit. These e-books are a mixture of resistance and circuit exercises, with a variety of training styles. Every 3 weeks, the guide cranks it up a notch. In the past, I would find myself plateauing after the 2-3 week mark or lost interest. So if like me, you suffer with boredom from exercises – this is the guide for you! Some moves weren’t too beginner friendly, or admittedly that easy to make out on the e-book. But it is clearly stated at the beginning of the first e-book to make adjustments to account for your own flexibility. In addition to this after a quick YouTube search it wasn’t rocket science to break down the move or to swap it out for an easier modification. If you haven’t followed Sarah or watched any of her videos, one thing you should know is that she is a big believer in, “Listening to your body”. If something hurts or is too difficult, stop and modify it. If she’s not feeling something, she’s honest about it and I have a lot of respect for that.
Did I do every workout? The first few weeks definitely ease you in, beginning with 3 days a week, plus optional challenges and activities like walking or swimming etc., to keep you interested and motivated. At the beginning, I went with how I was feeling and did skip some of the optional challenges and changed up the activities like beach run circuits to account for U.K. weather. But the intention was there, despite changing it up for a different workout that day. I was also conscientious to not overdo it or anger any old injuries. I was happy to try my hardest but to go at my own pace, learning from my past mistakes. The good thing is, you do not need a lot of room for these workouts. During the first 8 weeks no equipment is needed, apart from a yoga mat. In weeks 9-16, I swapped out some of the equipment needed in Sweat It Reload, such as using a chair instead of a bench. I luckily had some dumbbells to hand of differing weights, but you can get creative and lift what you have in the house (think tins, bottles of water, whatever you have!). Or if you want to be a bit more committed, order some free weights online. Some days I really didn’t feel like completing my workout, but I wanted to compete with myself and I was determined to push through. I did not skip any of the essential workouts (sweaty shredders/ toning powers/ circuits).
I’ll tell you one thing, I never regretted completing a workout.
What did I discover throughout the 16 weeks?
- First and foremost, I obviously got so much stronger and fitter. Over time, some of those challenging moves (like ab kicks) got easier and those burpees I once so despised, were no longer so terrible. I could also easily and proudly do 10 proper push ups by the end of it!
- I pushed myself harder but also looked forward to my rest days. Knowing that I was being consistent and more disciplined than ever helped me feel more motivated to not only get through the work day, but to complete my days of exercise for the week
- I developed a lot more self-discipline
- I felt proud, happier and calmer on days I exercised
- I developed more of a love for athleisure and began relaxing in it (I never did this before!) I also bought some new “proper” workout clothing, swapping out my old miscellaneous t-shirt collection for new shorts and sports bras. This also helped for motivation!
- Despite my prior protests, I “can” exercise at all times of the day; but my preference is between 9-11am
- The program also helped me get fit in other ways. Although I had not done any running throughout the program, I could run a mile lot quicker and I also got noticeably more flexible
- Did I lose weight? I typically don’t weigh myself regularly, but I did weigh myself once every 7-10 days to keep track. To be honest, I tended to fluctuate a kilo either side. However it is important to note that we all have different body types and I did not change my eating habits. My goal was not to lose weight, but to tone up, get stronger and more flexible. I’m sure if I changed my diet, I would have lost a couple of kilos. Nonetheless, I did noticeably tone up and I developed muscle definition that I hadn’t seen in years! My shoulders and arms got more lean and muscular. My love handles got smaller, both my quads and glutes were more defined. I’d call that an all round win, wouldn’t you?
- I felt more confident in myself and overall my clothes did fit better
- I began to see elements of my personality from when I was a kid again shine through. Although it’s natural to change as we grow up, I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed being active!
- I gained a tremendous amount of respect for women who keep up an active lifestyle despite their challenges of work, familiy, disability etc. There are also a lot of positive women who are “influencers” like Sarah’s Day and Kayla Instines who want you to love your body, get stronger whilst putting your health and wellbeing first
Would I do it again? Absolutely! I began telling my friends about the workouts, particularly after being complimented on my toned up body, (I hadn’t seen anyone other than on video calls or my parents for 2 months in lockdown so I guess it was noticeable). Exercising consistently also has had a positive impact on my mental health, particularly over the pandemic the last few months.
Overall, I think the guide is a great way to kick start a healthier lifestyle and assist regular exercise to become a habit.
My final thoughts would be… Sarah, when is the next e-book for weeks 17 – 25 coming out?! In the meantime I will eagerly be awaiting her secret “cooking project” which is due to launch in August!
I hope you will subscribe if you enjoyed this blog post. If so, check out the below: