Like I said in my last post, I've decided to give 21 Day Fix a whirl. For the uninitiated, 21 Day Fix is the brainchild of your every day run of the mill single mom/bikini competitor/ celebrity trainer Autumn Calabrese. The program focuses on what foods you should be eating, how much of those foods you should be eating, and daily exercise. One cycle of the program lasts 21 days, because that's allegedly how long it takes to break or form a habit.
As a Weight Watchers loyalist, I am hesitant (loathe, even) to try something new – especially a program that boldly claims if I give them 21 days, they'll give me the body I've always wanted. BUT, I do know a small handful of people in real life who have completed the program – some more than once – and sing its praises. In fact, many of them have gone on to become Beach Body coaches, and this is how I've found myself hopping aboard the 21 Day Fix train.
First things first, per my Coach's (my Best Good Friend, Kara) instructions, I purchased the 21 Day Fix Essentials package. The kit includes color-coded food containers intended to be used for preparing meals, workout DVDs, a detailed outline of the program, and some recipe ideas. I also purchased a set of light weights, because many of the exercises in the workout plan require them.
Next, because I don't have a DVD player, I attempted to log into my Beach Body account to make sure I could access the workout videos on demand. My understanding was that participants should be able to access any content associated with the program(s) they've purchased. I experienced some issues with this, resulting in a multi-day clusterfuck. Fortunately (at least in this instance), I'm unemployed, persistent, and well versed in the ways of user support. I emailed Beach Body's customer support team one day, live chatted with their customer support team the following day, and received confirmation from both that I would have to sign up for the 30 Day On Demand free trial, then pay for the content going forward.
Where I had just paid $60 for something called "The Essential Kit", I was more than a little pissed off that something essential to the program wasn't included (unless you have a DVD player, which come on it's 2016!). During all this, I had an ongoing dialogue with my coach, and she said she'd investigate. In the meantime, we agreed that I should sign up for the free trial, then cancel before the thirty day mark – with 21 being less than 30, it seemed like a solid plan.
I went through the process of signing up for the On Demand trial, and was met with this when I proceeded to the checkout:
Dafuq?! Why was there suddenly sixty-five dollars worth of shit I didn't order added to my shopping cart? I looked at the browser, and noticed the url ended with "upsell", and can only assume the addition of these items to my cart was something deliberately done by Beach Body. The only reason I can come up with for why Beach Body would do something like this is that people often blow through this part of the process, blindly enter their credit card information, them deem it too much of a hassle to return the extra items. I mean, I get that Beach Body is in the business of selling things, but this just seems like such a shitty thing to do!
Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I exited the checkout and decided to try logging into my Beach Body account to see what would happen if I tried to sign up while logged in. Lo and behold, all of the 21 Day Fix workout videos were available to stream, no purchase required.
Next, I read through the eating plan provided in my Essentials kit, and immediately noticed that the plan, as written, was not designed for people who don't eat meat and try to avoid processed foods. I did some digging online, and found some blogs that alluded to the existence of a vegan/vegetarian 21 Day Fix eating plan. I asked my coach about this, and she was able to do some additional digging and procure a pdf of the official Beach Body vegan eating plan for me.
I am so glad I asked about this instead of staying quiet and struggling to follow the plan that came with the kit, or cobbling together my own version of the plan with whatever (possibly inaccurate) information I found online. However, I was disappointed that this version of the guide – or at least instructions on where to find it – was not included in my Essential pack. Again, I would consider this information pretty essential for me to successfully participate in the program.
Finally, I downloaded the 21 Day Fix app, so I could track my food using my phone. This was by far the smoothest part of getting ready for the 21 Day Fix for me. Maybe all of Beach Body's developer resources work exclusively on this product offering. Seriously though, the app was easy to download and the functionality is super straightforward.
Obviously my preparation for 21 Day Fix wasn't without its roadblocks, and there was certainly more than one occasion on which I declared I was putting everything back in the box and returning it. A large part of my frustration was due to some ridiculously frustrating situations I encountered – seriously, if getting ready to do 21 Day Fix is this challenging, how hard is it going to be to actually do 21 day Fix?! – but I'm sure another part of me was looking for something to use as an excuse in case I fail, or maybe even an excuse to give up on this whole thing before I even start.
I promise, this totally wasn't intended to be a rant against Beach Body. I wanted to share this experience in real time and in its entirety for a couple of reasons:
As a cautionary tale for potential participants, potential Beach Body coaches, and current coaches.
There is no doubt in my mind that 21 Day Fix is an effective program that could benefit a ton of people. Unfortunately, I'm sure when faced with the obstacles I experienced, a lot of people would give up.
If you do sign up for the program, start getting your shit together a few days early. Let's be serious – the likelihood of you successfully completing Day 1 after spending the entire day trying to resolve issues is slim to none, so don't wait until Day 1 to start preparing. If you don't understand something, or you run into issues, talk to your coach. I'm obviously at an advantage because I've known my coach for more than 20 years and have no filter around her. But here's the thing, if you have a good coach, they should see suggestions and questions as an opportunity to learn and grow their coaching expertise. There's also the possibility that the issues you encounter and decide to suffer through may be the same issues that cause someone else to give up.
You can be sure that the updates I share will be honest. I am a cynic and a skeptic. As is often the case with weight loss programs, there's a lot of cheery dialogue and that patronizing brand of "you go girl" enthusiasm. I understand why it's there, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Seriously, you're not supposed to be excited to eat a salad or have a group of people with super ripped abs hand your ass to you every day. I'll allow that I usually feel great after a workout, but 90% of that feeling comes from knowing I'm done exercising.
I also have a tendency to assume that most diet and exercise plans you have to pay for are some kind of scam, and honestly, having Beach Body mysteriously add items to my cart did nothing to assuage these concerns. I guess my point here is that I don't work for Beach Body, and I'm definitely not drinking the Kool-Aid, so you should be able to expect that my thoughts on the program and my progress are completely my own. For real, I would wish that I could follow this program 100% and have it fail out of spite, if it didn't mean I'd still be overweight.
One final thing I want to point out before I continue posting about my experiences doing 21 Day Fix is that when discussing the specifics of the program, I will likely be vague. This is on purpose, and for a couple of reasons. First, I am not a Beach Body Coach or a nutritionist, and I want to make it abundantly clear that I am sharing my experiences, not advice. Second, while I may have my misgivings about some of their practices, Beach Body is a business that relies on its intellectual property to sell its products. I paid for access to this proprietary information, and if you want access to it, you should too!
That said, if you are interested in learning more about the program or have questions about specific things, I'd be more than happy to put you in touch with my Best Good Friend, Kara. Just ask.