If you haven’t heard of Joe Wicks, you need to crawl out from the cave you’ve been living in and have a Google. He’s got big hair, a cheeky smile, and calls broccoli ‘midget trees’. He’s now also a best-selling author with his ‘Lean in 15′ cookbook, and he’s the mastermind behind the ’90 Day Shape, Shift and Sustain Plan’. For the sum of around £150, Joe sends you a specially tailored workout and meal plan that will help you lose fat, build lean muscle and, crucially, give you a plan to help you keep the weight off. All sounds good so far, right?
At the beginning of March last year, after insta-stalking Joe for a fair few months, I finally realised that my ‘dust diet’ wasn’t working for me (read about that here), and hopped aboard the 90 Day train. I was sceptical and cautious that this was going to be another fad diet, but I couldn’t’ve been more wrong.
I thought I’d map out my opinions of my 90Day journey in some handy bullet points that can be seen below…
Pluses with the plan…
- It taught me how to eat properly. If you have read my ‘Dust Diet’ post, you will see that my body was in starvation mode, but I was unaware of this. The plan taught me to ditch these ‘quick fixes’, and to focus on real, whole foods in order to fuel my body. The portions are massive at first, but as you become used to your new routine, you quickly start to get hungry again, which means that your metabolism is revved up, which MEANS that you will begin to burn fat. Plus, the recipes are delicious. I don’t know if it’s because I’m greedy, but I can’t think of a single meal that I hated whilst on plan (although you do get a bit sick of all the spinach).
- It taught me how to train properly. Prior to my 90 Day journey, I would go to the gym, do a solid hour of cardio, before doing a few ‘girly’ weights (I’m sorry, I hate to stereotype!). It was low intensity but was taking its toll on my body. However, the first 30 days of Joe’s plan focuses solely around HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training): HIIT has been widely studied, and has been found to be the best type of cardio to enable fat loss- and the best bit is that it only lasts between 20-30 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, even now when I compete a HIIT workout I feel like keeling over (who knew that 30 seconds could feel like such a long time?!), but it does beat running on a treadmill for hours, yet still seeing minimal results. Cycles 2 and 3 focus on weight training, and now I can lift heavier and understand how to use weights properly/do different weight exercises, too.
- It gave me a routine. Have you ever been to the gym and you just don’t have a clue what you’re doing? You have a go on the treadmill, maybe sit on a bike for a bit, do some crunches and then go home. It’s aimless and pointless because you’re not utilising your time efficiently. The 90DaySSSPlan gave me structure to my gym routine: I was in and out within half an hour during the first cycle; the second cycle was a bit lengthier (especially leg day!), between 1-1.5 hours; and the third cycle was around an hour too. It made life so much simpler to have a ‘check list’: to go in, smash my HIIT, complete my weight reps and then get on with my day.
- It educated me on the need for supplements. Although I was technically drinking protein shakes before starting the plan, they were just used as meal replacements. During this plan, I started drinking not only whey protein, but also BCAA powder; and taking vitamins such as calcium, vitamin C, multi vitamins, cod liver oil, vitamin E… My mum was getting so worried with all these pills, I think she was planning some kind of drug intervention. While the sups are not necessary to complete the plan, they are recommended, and it was useful for me to learn what all these various white powders were doing to my body.
- It can be completed fully at home/anywhere in the world. Whilst this didn’t effect me because I’m from the UK and have a gym membership, a nifty trick with the plan is that it is emailed to you, so you can have access to it anywhere in the world. Just print it out and get cracking, OR keep it on your computer/tablet/smart phone for easy access (this is also great for when you’re going to the supermarket). I know loads of people that have completed all three cycles at home, simply by purchasing a set of weights, and by trawling YouTube for HIIT inspo.
- Although it says not to, Joe himself is no stranger to a ‘cheat meal’. During Cycle one, I turned 21. I may or may not have returned home from my surprise party and eaten two thirds of my birthday cake. Before the plan, I would’ve punished myself by not eating the next day, but thanks to Joe’s honesty, I was able to draw a line under my slip-up and carry on with the plan. Guilteeee.
Now onto the minuses with the plan…
- It is time consuming. You are encouraged to meal prep on this plan. Whilst this is a good thing, as it takes away any last minute ‘oh shit, I don’t have enough chicken!’ moments and also saves you cooking/washing up every day, it doesn’t mean that the four+ hours you will spend in the kitchen every Sunday will get any easier. And frankly, if you’re anything like me, you will still have ‘oh shit, I don’t have enough chicken!’ moments, which will mean trawling back through Liverpool to Lidl, because it’s about 50p cheaper then Tesco (and ‘every little helps‘, remember?).
- The meticulous weighing gets on your nerves. In the end, I got so fed up of weighing ‘x’ amount of grams of salmon, and then having to cut about a centimetre off, that I just gave up and started using rough amounts. Which kind of defeats what you’ve paid for. Call me impatient, but one or two grams wasn’t worth the constant fuss/waste for me, so rough measurements became the way forward.
- Some of the coaches aren’t up to scratch. To be fair, I can’t fault my coach (Sarah, you were lovely and patient with my tedious questions), but I know from the (unofficial) Facebook support group that some coaches don’t really have a clue what they’re on about. Wrong advice is sometimes given, which is frustrating when you’ve paid quite a hefty sum of money, leading on to…
- There are some mistakes in the plan. Similar to my previous point, when you’ve paid 150 quid for a ‘tailor made’ plan, you don’t expect to have spelling mistakes in it! I bought my plan nearly a year ago now, and I know that there are still mistakes in the new plans, which is a little disappointing.
- I don’t think the volume of food is sustainable after finishing the plan. I remember that once in Cycle two, I ended up eating a full broccoli with my meal. A FULL BROCCOLI. Whilst the plan has made me appreciate the importance of leafy green veg in my diet, having nearly two broccolis everyday is just not sustainable in my opinion, let alone everything else that is expected to be on my plate. I was in my second year of uni when I started the plan, so I suppose my ‘poor student’ status didn’t help… But even if you have a solid income, it’s worth keeping in mind that the cost of the plan certainly doesn’t stop after the initial purchase.
Now you have read both my pros and cons about the 90DaySSSPlan, I just want to reiterate that in no way slating it: the most important thing that Joe has taught me (/made me do) is that I need to eat properly. Not to starve myself, but to listen to my body and be able to fuel it to get the best results possible. I do think that the plan works more successfully if you have more to lose; but having said that, some of his ‘Hall of Fame’ clients started off slimmer than me, and managed to gain even more lean muscle. Although at the end of the plan I saw minimal changes (only losing a few inches and pounds), there was a huge change in how I felt in myself: I no longer felt a crippling anxiety over what I was eating, because my plan was telling me in black and white what I needed to have. Someone else was in control, and it gave my head time to heal, as well as letting my body get stronger and fitter because it was receiving the food it deserved. Additionally, when you take into consideration that I was dramatically under-eating (having no more than 1000 calories a day), it’s a miracle that I didn’t put on about ten stone after going back to a normal diet.
Apologies for the lengthy post, but I really wanted to consolidate my whole journey in one go. I am incredibly grateful to Joe for trying to teach me that ‘food is not the enemy’, and whilst I do still struggle with ‘the Guilt’ of eating something ‘bad’, I know clearly now what is nutritionally beneficial for me, and what should be had in moderation. I appreciate that everyone has a different experience with the plan- this was just mine, and I have documented it in the most honest way that I can!
If you managed to get to the end of this, thank you for reading!