We Wanted To Get Fit, So We Tried The Sam Wood 28 Day Program
28 minutes of exercise every day for 28 days... piece of cake, right?
The program is pretty simple. Basically you follow the diet plan laid out on the website, and each day there's a workout video to follow.
As an added bonus, there's a Facebook group you can join upon signing up to the program.
Tahlia: The biggest challenge for me in the first week was quitting snacking. I felt hungry ALL the time, and carrot sticks weren't sufficing for snacks. But on the plus side, week one saw me introduce about 3-4 new foods into my diet hat I didn’t entirely hate (eggplant, peanut butter, avocado, and bananas... hope you're proud mum). I started the first week on the "Player" program (30 seconds exercise, 30 seconds rest), but decided by the Friday I’d move up a workout level to really push myself for the next few weeks. I was pleasantly surprised that the workouts were super easy to incorporate into my everyday life. The downside was I spent about $100 more on groceries this week than what I usually do, but the first week was always going to be the most expensive. Do I look like someone who knew what coconut flour or almond meal were before this program? Absolutely not.
One confession. I had a birthday event the first weekend, and I did consume more than the two recommended alcoholic drinks (apparently two drinks don't stand for two bottles of wine, lol oops). BUT, the next day I did NOT treat myself to any greasy, hungover food like I usually would. Progress not perfection right?
Dean: Week one took a lot of getting used to. Before starting the program I had two days of gorging myself and not exercising (my last few days of freedom). I found the workouts extremely easy to follow. By mid-week I had to go up one level as I felt I wasn’t being challenged enough, but soon I was questioning why?! By the end of the 28 minutes I was properly sweating and a couple of times I found myself having to pause the session to catch my breath. In terms of nutrition, I loved the food, but this shit is expensive. There are ingredients I normally wouldn’t use in my cooking, so my bank balance was definitely losing weight. The recipes in the program also feels like they're designed to feed two people so a few times I had to swap meals out and then repeat some of the meals I had earlier in the week because it felt wasteful. This took a bit of getting used to.
The hardest thing for me was limiting myself to one coffee per day. For someone that is used to having at least two, it was an adjustment… but it was manageable. Peppermint tea helped through that 3pm craving. A few times I found myself craving junk food, but I just had to keep reminding myself of the common goal and it would quickly subsided. I also took a LOT of inspiration from the Facebook community, which includes the nicest people on the planet.
Tahlia: In week two the sugar cravings started to creep in. I decided I’d make the chickpea and choc chip cookies on Friday night but forgot my blender/food processor broke, so instead I just sat in a pool of tears and withdrawals. After loving the menu the first week, the introduction of chia seed porridge was... well, look I won't be doing that again. On the plus side, I saw improvements in my life after two weeks of solid exercise every day. Mentally I felt better, my skin looked a little clearer, and I was sleeping like a baby.
Dean: Week two was a little harder. I found myself craving sugar a lot more, but that only lasted a few hours before bed, and then I’d just fall asleep. By this point I had lost 2kgs and I could see small changes in my body, especially through the stomach. I was also finding that I could easily eat three meals a day without feeling hungry in between. I was sleeping and waking up a LOT better too and I wondered if this was due the reduction in caffeine. I used to always have coffee in the afternoon, but since I was just having only one in the morning, I wasn't feeling as lethargic.
I was also really enjoying the food this week. I guess the only downside of week two was I had to reduce my endurance level back down to "Hot Shot" on the program. I found that I was stopping and pausing to catch my breath on the higher level way too much and it was defeating the purpose.
Tahlia: Week three started off rough. Monday and Tuesday I was really drained, and really had to push myself to get through the workouts. And this is the week every craving hit me. I wanted sugar, sure, but I noticed myself walking past someone eating white rice as part of a stir-fry, and honestly, I had never wanted something more in MY LIFE.
I also noticed that unless I was receiving a few days notice, I had started ditching social events. I had started to change plans on a regular basis, depending on where I was up to on the program. Trivia Tuesday night? Nope, sorry, gotta meal prep. I had friends who wanted to catch up for a drink, but I dragged them on a casual 12km walk with me instead. For some reason now they won't write back to my texts.
However, after another sober weekend I was feeling really good, both mentally and physically. While it’s fun to go out with friends and have big nights out dancing and drinking, to wake up on a Sunday with no hangover depression and not craving fast food is a godsend. Even my housemate's trip to KFC for lunch didn’t tempt me. I was happy sticking to my chicken and avocado wrap, and this is coming from a girl who didn’t eat avocado BEFORE this program.
Dean: By week three I felt like I was in a pretty good pattern. My energy level, especially in the morning, was the most noticeable change and I genuinely felt healthier. I had lost another half a kilo, even though I couldn't quite notice the weight loss myself. My stomach was definitely starting to tone up more – I could see the noticeable changes, but I didn't feel like my chest or arms had changed at all.
I was also continuing to sleep really well, which, while I reckon was due to having less caffeine, I also felt that having less meat in my diet and not going to bed feeling so "heavy" was helping my sleep. Plus, I was doing the 28-minute exercises at night, so it could have also just been exhaustion, lol. A couple of times this week I found myself starting to question whether to do the exercises or not (and make up for it later), but then I kept hearing Sam’s voice saying that 28 minutes is less than 4% of my day! And honestly before you knew it, the exercises were over!
Tahlia: By week four I was really in a good, established routine. I was doing 1-2 workouts in the morning (normally on Tuesdays and Fridays), and the other days were reserved for after work ones. Smashing the 28 minutes out first thing when I got home, followed by cooking dinner, and then prepping breakfast and lunch for the next day was feeling less like a drag, and more like a normal routine.
Of course days are going to throw you out. For example on Tuesday night I was out with friends for trivia, but to avoid any temptation I ate dinner at work before I left; and when I got home I bribed myself with an extra 5-10 minute sleep in the morning if I prepped my next day smoothie and lunch before bed. And really, for the simple stuff like that, all it does take is an extra 5-10 minutes of your time at night, so there’s no excuses!
Overall I had lost weight and I did notice my stomach and arms slowly toning up, which was exciting! I was also actually starting to enjoy the workouts, and the 28 minutes where I could just focus on burning calories, finishing the workout, and blissfully thinking of nothing else. Let me tell you, if you put in the effort, those workouts make you sweat and drop a few F-bombs, but damn it feels so good when you finish.
Dean: By week four I was in a really good routine. My weight loss was now at 3kgs and I was seeing the beginning of abs (I always knew they were there). Once I see physical changes, I get scared to lose it. So this is going to help me stay motivated to keep exercising and eating well post the 28-day plan.
Overall I felt more energised and well-rested when I was getting up of a morning. The physical changes were minimal for me, but I was never in this to lose weight. It was more about a healthy state of mind, which I definitely now had. I was finding it easier to say "no" when tempted with fast foods, snacks and alcohol. Even just small amounts. I felt like I didn't need it. I was in a great pattern, and really felt that I had accomplished something.
Tahlia: We finished up the official 28 days and there are now definitely habits I’ve picked up from it that I am including in my every day routine. I find myself now evaluating my meals more for the day – for example if it's oats for breakfast, then I'm cutting out rice or other carbs for dinner. I’m eating breakfast every morning now, and making better food choices during the day. I’ve cut down on my snacking A LOT, and I’ve decided to continue with the program to get those weekly exercises in, even if I’m not following the diet plan as religiously. Even when I'm eating out now I've noticed unconscious changes – ordering a salad at a pub, or a burger in a lettuce leaf instead of a bun are both things my former self would laugh at, but it's actually unconscious choices I'm making without thinking twice about giving into temptation.
I lost nearly 3kg on the program, which I was surprised at considering I do already have a small frame and I wasn't actually on the weight loss plan. It was rewarding to me to see the changes in those parts of my body I wasn’t fond of. I can see my arms and stomach toning up and it’s keeping me motivated to keep up the exercises even though some days it’s a struggle. But perhaps the best part was how much better I was feeling mentally and the fact I did feel more energised– those endorphins from exercising every day were really kicking in!
Dean: So at the end of 28 days let's look at the pros and cons. Pros: lost weight, beginnings of a toned stomach, sleeping better, waking up with more energy and an overall feeling of health and happiness. Cons: About $50 - $80 more spent on food in the month. But let's be honest, it's a small price to pay for feeling and looking good, right? I'm used to one coffee in the morning now and have completely stopped snacking throughout the day. Also, I can't tell you how getting up and out of bed just feels so much easier.
Having said all this though, I won't be continuing with this particular program, as my goal has never really been to lose weight. I'm now focusing on building muscle, which this program can't really help me achieve in the areas I want to. I am, however, happy with the beginnings of a toned stomach and stronger core - thanks to Sam's floor exercises. If this program has given me anything it's a foundation to now move onto something else, with a healthy mindset. Getting into a weekly routine with exercise will be a lot easier, and making healthier choices when eating will be a piece of piss. Those things just feel normal now, and in the end, that's exactly what I set out to get.