I first noticed it when I was blow-drying my hair one day earlier this year. It wasn’t quite Michelle Obama-level, but there was unquestionably some definition to my arms. As someone who has never had much upper body strength, I was ecstatic and couldn’t help but flex at my reflection once or twice half a dozen times. To what do I owe these visible bicep muscles? Body Back.
Body Back is an eight-week fitness/nutrition program that falls under the Fit4Mom (https://memphis.fit4mom.com/) umbrella. This program combines high-intensity interval training (HIIT), nutrition guidance, supplemental online workouts, meditation, and support. It is described as a transformation and a journey…and it is.
I first heard about Body Back when I began participating in Fit4Mom programs shortly after my second child was born. I was intrigued, but I always had some sort of excuse for why it wouldn’t work for me. The classes didn’t mesh well with my husband’s work schedule. Nursing a newborn was so unpredictable. I was still eating for two as a breastfeeding mother and couldn’t commit to a nutrition plan.
Well, suddenly all of those excuses became exactly that. Additional exercise sessions were added that actually worked with our family’s schedule. Classes were mere minutes from my house. And only nursing once or twice a day meant I couldn’t blame snacking on my daughter anymore.
So I began 2018 with the goal of getting my body back. (Actually, I set more specific goals since that is step one of the program, but generally speaking, getting my body back sums it up pretty well.) Health and fitness have always been important to me, but I felt as though I had plateaued a bit. Body Back proved to be the jumpstart I didn’t know I needed.
I am a rule follower, so I did my best to adhere to the recommendations of the program. There is no penalty and no judgment for not doing so, but I wanted to challenge myself (plus, I had already paid for the session, which was also a good motivating factor). Therefore, I diligently attended workouts, tracked my nutrition via a food journal, and did all of the online homework exercises.
The session started—and ended—with a fitness assessment that included exercises such as pushups, bicep curls, squats, planks, and a mile run. The instructors also recorded pre- and post-weight and measurements. Prior to this assessment, each participant came up with specific goals. Some moms wanted to lose a certain amount of weight, while others wanted their pre-pregnancy clothes to fit again. There were goals that focused on improving performance in a particular exercise and goals that targeted individual eating habits. Even though each of us had on our own personal wellness journey, we still had a sense of community thanks to the support of the instructors.
My favorite part of the program by far was the workouts. I can’t say enough good things about HIIT training (and yes, I recognize that adding training to the acronym is redundant, just like ATM machine). This type of workout combines short bursts of cardio, strength, and core exercises in a way that appeals to my love of efficiency. For example, while you are trying to catch your breath from an intense minute of cardio, you are engaging in a strength move. So technically you’re resting but still exercising at the same time. The official description is “active recovery,” but to me, it is getting more bang for my buck and maximizing the too-little time I have for exercise. What mom isn’t on board with that?
The hardest part of the program for me was the nutrition component. I want to stress that Body Back nutrition is NOT a diet. Rather, it involves being more mindful about eating habits. Each week, participants are asked to prepare a meal plan—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks—and then track the week’s eating with a food journal. As an added bonus, a digital cookbook is provided full of healthy (and quick!) recipes. Generally speaking, my family eats pretty well. We’re not perfect, but we participate in a CSA and avoid processed food as much as possible. We like to try new recipes and have done basic meal planning for a while, so that part was not the biggest challenge.
No, the toughest thing was not eating my children’s leftovers. One of my biggest pet peeves is wasting food, so my girls are very used to me polishing off whatever they have decided they’re not hungry for. However, in order to be true to my nutrition plan, I could no longer do so in good conscience. Plus, “three bites of leftover mac and cheese” didn’t fit very well in the tiny boxes on the food journal.
But you know what? I—and my family—survived, and at the end of the eight weeks, I felt proud of myself and my accomplishment. I finished the session with a renewed commitment to fitness, a new daily habit of drinking more water, and a weakened desire to clean my kids’ plates. Oh, and those biceps were a nice bonus, too (tickets to the gun show, anyone?).
I can’t recommend Body Back highly enough. Whether you had a baby six weeks or six years ago, this program is the perfect motivation to focus on your fitness—and more importantly YOU—again. But don’t just take my word for it. Michelle, a veteran Body Back participant, put it much better (and much more succinctly):
“If you’ve never been to one of these classes, you should really try it out. You may be drenched in sweat and exhausted by the end, but you will feel so accomplished and empowered!”