There’s no question that nutrition plays a key role in reaching any weight loss, muscle-building, or other fitness goal. And while “the Anytime way” is to recommend a whole foods, clean eating lifestyle that allows the occasional treat, you may be tempted (like me!) to try one of the many themed diet or eating plans that have their own specific parameters. That’s fine. They can be a great tool to kick-start your healthier way of life! Just make sure to do your research first.
This post examines one popular plan, called the 21-Day Fix—started by single working mom and bikini competitor Autumn Calabrese. Does it really work for real people? How much time, effort, and money do you have to invest? Here are the answers from three people who recently took on the challenge.
21 Day Fix Basics
- 21-day plan touting “Simple Fitness. Simple Eating. Fast Results.”
- 7 color-coded containers focus on portion control and balanced meals.
- Combine eating plan with one [provided] 30-minute workout a day.
- People repeat the 21 days for additional results.
- Optional: Educational resources, exercise DVDs, and Shakeology
Emily: 24 | Wanted better physical results after a big fitness push
Kyle: 26 | Wanted to focus on improving portion control
Ami: 34 | Wanted to get eating habits back on track, with a workout plan attached
The 21 Day Fix Reviewed
If I learned anything, it’s that this nutrition plan is pretty simple to follow—as long as you set aside the time to meal plan. You can come in with your fitness really on track (like Emily), or want to focus solely on food control (like Kyle)—or be looking for a little of both (like Ami). Gender, age, and goals aren’t prohibitive. And the portion-control lessons are easy to follow and apply to your lifestyle long-term. Read on for more details.
How did you hear about the fix?
K: I recognized that I had a problem and started googling portion size control and it popped up. I was already thinking in the lines of using food storage containers to control consumption and this seemed like it fit that perfectly.
E: A few of my friends on Facebook are coaches, and it seemed to be quite the hot diet on the scene!
A: I saw it mentioned on Facebook too, and reviewed by a blogger friend of mine.
Did it cost you anything?
A: Yes, I bought the program kit ($60) and some Shakeology products.
E: Me too. Plus a few other guides. You don’t have to do the shake component, however (it counts as 1 serving of protein in your daily consumption if you do). You also can find guides online with the approximate serving size of each of the colored boxes.
K: That’s what I did. I did some research and bought a bunch of similar containers off Amazon ($30). No Shakeology though.
Was it hard to get started?
A: Not really. WHAT I eat already wasn’t that far off, though I would easily eat bigger portions before. As far as the exercise part, just following a specific plan for the program was the only shift.
E: Yeah, I had my fitness routine really worked out, so the biggest challenge was meal planning in their containers. It felt initially like it was going to be huge diet shift, and for the first few days, that feeling was accurate. But after evaluating how I was using my allotted portions and food, I realized I was giving myself less than what I could really consume, and shifted the way I planned my meals throughout my day. Once I did that, I started to feel great and feel full, and it didn’t feel like much of a change.
K: I agree. Meal planning was the hardest part. I got caught up at work, and stopped planning, which got me off track. But when I was planning, it worked better. Though to fit the guide I did need to get creative and eat foods I normally wouldn’t use or buy.
How were the workouts?
E: The workout plans were easy enough to implement, but by week 2, wanting to do the workouts became a bit more challenging because you do the same set of 7 workouts for 3 weeks, and they are a bit redundant. But the workouts have tons of modifications and can be done at home or in a gym. Ultimately, I was really surprised how hard hitting the workouts are for 30 minutes. They go by quick, but surely get the job done!
Where there any drawbacks to this plan?
A: Not necessarily. Maybe when going out to eat. It was more difficult because it’s hard to measure portion sizes and ingredients, even if you choose a healthy meal.
E: Obviously, it sucks to not be able to eat a cupcake should you crave one. But the great thing about the plan is it accounts for life and it’s very doable. They tell you in your list of foods how things like red wine and chocolate can fit into the plan to account for those moments where you just need to treat yo-self!
K: I think you just need to make sure you have the time and commitment to make it all happen, before you get started.
Did you see results in the end?
K: Yes, I felt more alert, fuller at all times of the day, and just felt better overall.
A: I lost noticeable inches and felt awesome! The system kept me motivated, and made me feel like I was held accountable. Because of that, I was able to keep up with it and be excited about it. It was almost like a game, maybe because of the portion control containers and daily activity challenge.
E: I lost 12 pounds, several inches, and just was more toned overall. It’s amazing how much energy I had on week 2. Once I got through the adjustment period in the first week I felt great. I also noticed that my face had cleared up. My skin looked great and I had little to no acne. Not that I had tons in the first place, but cutting back on my dairy/cheese and sugar intake definitely had a positive impact!
What tips would you give to those about to try the fix?
A: Plan out weekly meals if possible. Cut up and/or measure out foods and put in individual baggies to be prepared for the week and to be more efficient. Make a calendar to keep track of your container amounts as you eat them so you know how many you’ve used and how many you have left for your plan.
E: What she said! If you have a plan, and you don’t have to think much about what you need to do, you’ll find it’s much easier to be successful. I knew that if I didn’t have a plan, it would be really easy to fall off the wagon. So each Sunday, I would plan out my meals for the week. It was important to me to find meals that didn’t make me feel like I was on a diet. Luckily, we live in a day of Pinterest where there’s tons of recipes out there from people who have previously done the Fix. Finding ones I liked and putting them into plan was the only challenge.
K: Same for me. I’d even say, come up with 2-3 weeks of different meal combinations upfront to fall back on when work and life get really busy and you don’t have time to plan. And you can always use Pinterest for that.
Would you guys do it again?
A: Yes, I would.
K: I intend to. It’s really easy to follow.
E: I’m on round two right now!