12 Week Challenge: What is it and why am I doing it?

One of my 52 in 52's for this year was to join the 12 week challenge at the gym. I go to the Goodlife Health Centre in Maroochydore, and I'd been seeing signs about it since we signed up last year. They finally opened for registrations for the February challenge, and for my birthday, Mario signed me up. Enrolling one's girlfriend in a weight loss challenge is probably not the most romantic-sounding present, but in his defence, he knew it was something I really wanted.

To be clear, I know that most PT's will groan over 12 week challenges. They believe that it promotes a short-term “quick fix” and then people will just go back to their unhealthy ways after the challenge. In my view, I think anything that can encourage someone to start looking at diet & exercise as a means to lose weight is not a bad thing. They're not encouraging plastic surgery and the shake diet after all! Plus once you start to see the changes, it can become addictive and you'll want to keep pushing to keep the numbers on the scales going down.

I know that I have demonstrated I can be consistent with exercise. I enjoy getting out there and doing something energetic. I like the feeling of finishing a race, and doing something I never dreamed possible.

My problem lays solely in food.

I'm the living proof that appearance is 80% nutrition, otherwise I'd be freaking sexy right now.

On a whole, my food isn't too bad. It's got a lot of room for improvement, don't get me wrong, but I still eat veggies and fruit and proteins etc. I don't eat pasta every night, or a loaf of bread every 2 days. My vice is sugar – once I start I won't stop until the packet is gone. When I'm in the midst of a raging sugar addiction I will need a sugary treat with every meal, and in between I will be craving again. If I'm stressed, my emotional eating desire kicks in and like a robot I march down to the corner shop and buy some lollies. On that note, I guess I need to work on coping with stress too.

So anyway, my thought process behind signing up was the following:

  • Time to give myself a kick up the bum and finally get to the goal weight I've dreamt about for so long
  • Make myself accountable for what I'm eating – not only to my PT and Mario, but also on my blog, and most importantly, to myself
  • Giving myself some confidence, by looking at a horrific “Before” photo, and feeling so proud when I compare it to what will hopefully be an amazing “After” photo
  • Joining a group of people that are going through the same thing (and making some new friends)
  • Taking advantage of my competitive nature by signing up for the 12 week challenge, and hopefully trying to take out the whole thing!

That's right, there's actually a competition behind this whole thing, which I will explain in a minute. But first, I figured I would cover what I'm getting in this 12 weeks:

For $199 (I actually paid $179 because I signed up early), that's pretty damn good. I've done the Michelle Bridges program before paying $20 a week, so by the end of it I had paid $240. I got meal plans, exercise routines, weekly seminars, a facebook group and an online community, and that's it. No face-to-face, no accountability to anyone by missing a session, and certainly no training singlet (it's the small things right). If you didn't have the willpower to log on, then you were paying for nothing and you wouldn't improve.

The Goodlife Challenge has all of the above, plus a weekly workout at the gym with everyone in the challenge, a few fun runs and a Mount Coolum climb. While you don't have to have a PT they recommend one as it really helps, and I know from personal experience that I don't push myself as hard in the gym as what a PT can make me do. I also don't know enough about technique to make sure I'm doing it right, and leaves risk for injury. With the amount of events I'm hoping to do this year I don't have time to be injured.

They also have the competition. If you want to, you can compete against everyone else in the challenge to be in the running for some prizes e.g. the club winner gets a 3 month gym membership (that would save me over $260). There's a competition for strength, but I'm only doing the “Transformation” one. The comp is judged based on your before/after photos (to see how much your body has changed) – 50%, Measurements – 30%, Essay – 10%, Attendance and Food Diary – 10%. Weight does factor into your measurements, but that's also mixed in with 4 skinfold tests and 5 girth measurements. There were also people there that were thin builds looking to “transform” in the way of build strength and muscle, so it's not all about weight loss per se. It's about transforming into the body you want to be. One such guy queried if he would be judged against people that had lost weight then, and since he would be (hopefully) putting on weight, that would count against him. Nope, it's about rating the difference between his before and after photo – not what either photo looked like against others.

If I put it in my mind that I want to take out the whole competition, it's going to be much easier for me to restrict myself from eating anything bad.

The plan here is that I will blog about my progress weekly, and share with everyone my experiences. This includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Will I post my before photo in the beginning? Unknown at this stage, possibly not since at the point of the photo being taken I'm not going to be feeling good about it. At the end? You betcha. I'll be posting both the before and after photo, and knowing that that's the plan will provide motivation as well. I want to be posting something at the end saying “yeah, back then that wasn't pretty but holy cow check me out now!”

I'd love for some cheers from everyone along the way; knowing that I've got people encouraging me will help keep me going. I know that inevitably I will hit a plateau, and I will get to a point where I want to throw in the towel. I know I'm going to get stressed, and I'm going to want to each chocolate. My test will be to overcome all of that, to stay strong and get through.

Wish me luck!