Regular Mummyfique contributor and self-professed fitness enthusiast, Ruth Chew takes on the 12 weeks Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide challenge and shows us how to lose those extra weight and gain those tight bikini abs.
With over 4 million followers on Instagram, 3.5 million on Facebook and over 261,000 on Twitter, it’s hard to ignore this fitness trainer from Adelaide, Australia called Kayla Itsines.
With her 12-week Bikini Body Training Guide, millions of women around the world have discovered a fitness regime and lifestyle which has shown results and delivered, or shall we say, uncovered, abs?
The programme is over 12-weeks, incorporating resistance circuits training, each resistance circuit last 28 minutes, with other exercise guides and advice including diet and meal plans for two weeks with recipes. At AUD$69.97 each for the e-Books to be downloaded as .pdfs or on the Apple iTunes store for AUD $4.61 a week for three months, the Bikini Body Guide or BBG as everyone on the programme calls it, doesn’t come cheap. There are other accessories and gym equipment such as a medicine ball, Bosu ball, foam roller and fitness tracker which she recommends as part of the programme.
The programme focuses on health benefits of keeping active over five to six days a week with activities interspersed with her recommended circuits training. These activities are easy to accomplish to get active – a 35 to 40 minute brisk walk as a Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS) workout where the intensity is not high but enough of a heart rate to be considered above normal, a HIIT (high-intensity Interval workout) which can be found in her guides as well plus stretching exercise to keep muscles from being sore too long. The BBG is also available for women who have progressed beyond the first 12 weeks which are known as BBG 1.0 (weeks 1-12). The next rounds up are 2.0 (weeks 13 – 24) and 3.0 (weeks 25 – 36) which are available to women who want a more intense workout.
I started BBG 1.0 in July of 2015 after a trip to the doctor and had a goal to lose both actual weight on the scales and visceral fat which amounts to total body loss. Twelve kilos is a big number but I have a six, 12- and 18-month plan which breaks that down to four kilos every six months.
Due to planned holidays to Hong Kong and staycations with my children, the workouts had to be modified for certain weeks. I even repeated some weeks along the three months because I didn’t complete a good week of workouts.
The workouts planned are planned progressive overload which changes or increases the training frequency and resistance levels. The progressions go in weeks of four:-
Week 1 through 4 where you perform 3 resistance circuits, 2 LISS cardio training and 1 Stretch session
Week 5 through 8 where you perform 3 resistance circuits, 4-5 LISS cardio training, 1 Stretch session and;
Week 9 through 12 as the maximum load of the programme with 3-4 sessions of resistance training, 2-3 LISS cardio training, 1-2 sessions of HIIT and 1-2 sessions of Stretch.
The BBG training programme is intense at the later stages and from the second month you will need to spend a lot of time in the gym and in fact, by week 9, you’ll find you only return home for meals and a shower!
While it sounds intense, many of the LISS and HIIT sessions can be doubled up on the same day. For example, I do my circuits on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with HIITs on Tuesdays and Thursdays plus LISS on those same days too. I reserve a full body circuit plus LISS on Saturdays. The only rule she advocates is not for HIIT and resistance circuits to be on the same day, to avoid muscle fatigue and possible injuries. Many of the BBG women have 1 rest day to recuperate.
To be honest, I’ve had training before and was doing sports through polytechnic and university days so some of the exercises are not new. But the intensity of the circuits is the killer: 4 rounds of circuits, each circuit with 4 exercises to be completed in 7 minutes, making it a total of 28 minutes per session. This excludes a five to ten minute cardio run and stretching before and after. However, as I progressed, I found that I completed the circuits with ease and still had time within the 7 minutes. Well, you go through them AGAIN. Till the timer buzzes at the seven-minute mark.
For LISS sessions, I either walked on the treadmill for 40 minutes at a low speed where the heart rate is at a constant pace. I plug into TV show reruns on my device and go on effortlessly. Alternatively, I joined Zumba Fitness classes at the nearby gym to get the heart rate up but regular over the course of the 40 minutes. For HIIT sessions, it’s a 30:30 ratio of 30 seconds intensity and 30 seconds of standstill or cruise rate. Repeat over 10 to 15 minutes. This is done on a treadmill or an exercise bike at the gym.
I saw the most dramatic improvement from weeks 7 onward and by week 11, my clothes were getting looser. I was also more fit than when I started. The scales told a good change – I’d lost 1.5 kgs but my visceral fat reading dropped from 12 to 8, which means the fat around the tummy had been cut down.
[picture – @ruthsweats]
DIET & MEAL PLAN
The BBG Food Guide is based on a 1,200 to 1,500 calorie and macro-nutrient based diet (or macros) which focuses on the main food groups to provide nutrients to burn calories throughout the day and provide the necessary nutrients for the body to function. The macronutrients are loosely defined as carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre. Within macros, the Itsines’ recommends 3 meals and 2 snacks throughout the day to sustain this healthy lifestyle, while on the exercise regime.
The only thing is, as a Mum with two young growing children and a husband whose preference is the Asian-diet, this diet is not sustainable. What I did was to follow the macros to create healthy portions within the communal meals I had with my family and really keep to a healthy and lean way to track my nutrition through the day.
Breakfast is usually overnight oats with fruits high in anti-oxidants such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries. Or I have wholegrain bread with egg white omelettes and half a side of avocado.
Lunch works out to be a salad with quinoa, grilled chicken or prawns, tomatoes, chia seeds, and tofu or a chicken or ham sandwich with less or no cheese and lots of fibre.
Dinner is a mish-mash of what my family is having or a repeat of lunch. Occasionally, I make a side of grilled chicken or beef and have clear vegetable broth with whatever vegetable stir-fry we have that night. In place of white rice, I’ve changed our family’s rice to brown and red rice, and we mix it with a bit of white rice for taste. If I’ve had lots of carbs for the earlier part of the day, I switch out the rice with a steamed tofu, topped with lightly sautéed minced garlic, assorted mushrooms in a light soy sauce.
Snacks can be a low-fat latte to a cup of low-fat yogurt with fruit or an organic puffed rice cake and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
While not entirely limiting, the training schedule as well as the meals don’t make one very social. As with all fitness regimes, Itsines’ BBG recommends one cheat day but she suggests it as a two-hour cheat meal so one can still enjoy the food and savour the cravings while on a diet.
However, amid playdates and meeting up with friends and family, the regime is extremely limiting. I don’t follow her diet plan to a T but use the guiding principles to keep my diet afloat. I also break up the cheat day into meals across the week, so it’s sustainable for myself in the long run.
After round 1 of BBG, I’ve lost 2.3 kilos to date and am one dress size down. My results have been positive and although I’ve not got the rock solid abdominal muscles yet but the fat is slowly melting. I’ve decided to continue on the regime but repeat weeks 1 to 12 again. Once I’m more confident and find myself struggling less with each circuit in the later weeks, I will be ready to progress to 1.0.
Mummyfique Rating: 4 Fiques
Cost: Mid-range if you have an existing gym membership or access to facilities. High if you don’t.
The Sweat with Kayla App is available on the Apple iTunes store. As of December 2015, the App is not available on Android yet.