F45 is functional 45 minute training. Comprising of High Intensity Interval Training, Circuit Training and Functional Training. Not only are the work outs every changing (you might do the same type of training but never the same workout), the team environment and great trainers make F45 a wonderful experience. I trained at 4 different F45 clubs the past 8 weeks due to my busy work schedule, my home club of @F45Pakenham, then @F45Townsville, @F45Caloundra and @F45ToowoombaWest and I had a great welcoming experience at all these. F45 runs four 8 week challenges per year, my first one finished yesterday.
There are many reasons to sign up for a fitness challenge, fat loss, toning, shredding for a big event, my why was to find my fitness again after a knee issue, get out of a negative mindset and get my health back on track. When I signed up for F45 I had been working with my doctor to try and find the cause of my extreme fatigue, stomach complaints and potential burn out. I decided that there may not be a right time to try and get back into things and I just needed to man up, so I went to the challenge info night and signed up on the spot.
Weeks 1 & 2
The first week of the challenge started on July 16th, I completed my bodyscan that day and was quite surprised by the results considering I hadn’t been looking after myself very.
- Total Weight – 71.4kg
- Muscle Mass – 30kg
- Percentage Body Fat – 24.6%
- Viscerol Fat – 7 % (the bad fat around your organs)
All considered to be in the normal and healthy range for my height. Day 2 I flew out to Townsville for work and completed most of the weeks workouts there. I must admit the humidity combined with the lack of fitness was a killer, but I enjoyed every bit of it.
Week 2 I started the week in Caloundra and finished back at Pakenham, I also had some more blood tests and an ultrasound this week to try and get to the bottom of my health issues, particularly my high creatine levels.
Creatine levels are often high in extremely athletic people, and body builders, however at the time of my first blood test I wasn’t really doing any exercise, and I am certainly not a body builder. It can also be an indicator that the liver and kidneys are not functioning correctly, which is what my doctor thought was most likely cause. Creatine is a waste product, so you don’t want high levels floating around in your blood.
The hardest part of the first 2 weeks was sticking to the meal plans, I didn’t always have a full kitchen and moving between motel rooms, but I did what I could and felt much better after the first 2 weeks, the good thing is that you can switch out meal plans, and there are plenty of options. I also had the chance to return to playing netball for the last few weeks of the season which gave me an extra boost to get fit, even though I was extremely out of practice.
Weeks 3 & 4
For weeks 3 and 4, the diet plans switched to high protein, week 1 and 2 were high fat and focused on detoxing the body. I immediately noticed I enjoyed the high fat diet, much better than the high protein, I am not a huge meat eater, I did switch to the vegetarian option for a few of the meals. The high fat meals consisted of a lot of fish and coyo, where high protein was a lot more red meat.
Week 3 brought with it a diagnoses of Glandular Fever, no wonder I had been struggling so much with fatigue and being unwell. Because the doctor thought I likely came down with this when I first went to see her in May, it was likely I was nearing the end of illness (with any luck anyways),.
Glandular Fever, also know as Epstein Barr Virus is characterised by extreme fatigue, swollen lymph glands, swollen spleen and often jaundice. One diagnosed this seemed like an obvious reason for why I had been feeling this way. My husband had been quite sick late last year, with very similar issues and was hospitalised with now what we believed to be an acute type of glandular fever, where mine seems to be more of a chronic lingering type.
The symptoms I had were extreme fatigue, even if I got a full night sleep I was extremely exhausted, I felt like I hadn’t slept at all, and getting out of bed to go to work was hard. I struggled with concentration, I often felt like I was going to fall asleep in the middle of work meetings, and had a lot of pain behind my eyes and light sensitivity which made things difficult. I had quite a sore throat and kept losing my voice, the worst headaches I have ever had and stomach cramps from the swollen spleen. Simply doing day to day tasks seemed hard for the past 4-5 months.
Regardless the doctors advice was to drink lots of water, rest when I can, avoid contact sports because of inflamed spleen (I may have ignored this one) and to try and continue doing the same activities on good days and bad days. I also was unlikely to still be contagious, as you are normally contagious for 5-6 weeks and the doctor expected i was into my 3rd month now.
Week 4 brought its own challenges, a morning breakfast on a Sunday, led to a broken tooth that had to be removed. Jumping around at the Monday morning class was a bit painful haha. I may have snuck a donut this day purely to boost my mood hahah!
Week 5 & 6
More flights during week 5, and my first workouts at F45 Toowoomba West, the travel got the better of me though, I ended up needing to go to bed at 7pm on the Tuesday night, the 6am flight home on the Thursday was a killer too, particularly since I had to go straight to our Melbourne office to present to our CEO and executive team, luckily my voice held up! Lets say I slept very very well that night.
Week 6 went off seemingly without a hitch, however my dad got some bad news, and let my brother and I know that we needed to attend his next doctors appointment.
Week 7 & 8
Week 7 meant some more travel, this time just an overnighter, luckily the hotel had a gym, I was pretty excited to go for a run on the treadmill, I was able to run 5km! something I hadnt done since April. In the past I ran a lot, but I had been working through a knee injury, where my knee was tracking incorrectly leading to really bad knee pain after running, I worked with a physio to tape my knee, but I think also the strength I had gained in my muscles from F45 meant I could start doing what I loved again.
Thursday was d day, it was the day to go with dad to see his oncologist. We got the diagnosis that honestly we were probably expecting, lung cancer, but the prognosis wasn’t what we had hoped, the outcome was that we could manage dads as best as we could, but he likely only has a few months left with us, if you have read my story you will know that the last few years have been a challenge for my family to say the least.
F45 on Friday was the best stress release though, I think I had my highest heart rate and highest calorie burn for the whole time I had been a member. Nothing like going hard at the gym when life gets hard hey. My eating definitely dropped off though. I was hungry all the time, and a lot of travelling back and forth to see Dad meant sneaky take away a few nights. I believe the hunger was associated with high cortisol levels, Cortisol is a stress response hormone, it is very common to increase hunger in periods of high stress.
Week 8 got me good, the glandular fever hit me hard, I could barely speak, I couldn’t move my neck (heat packs help with this), not exactly what you want for the last week of the challenge, but I did manage to get myself back for the last few sessions. For one session which I missed last minute, one of the F45 team even sent me a message to check everything was OK, how great is that?! Our little man also had an ear infection and didn’t have a very happy week
How it ended up
This morning I had my weigh in and was initially disappointed to learn my weight increased, but once I read through all of my scan results it seemed to make sense:
- My muscle mass increased by 1.7 kg, and we all know muscle weighs more than fat and takes up less space
- I also had increased the amount of water in my body by 2L which is about 2kg give or take.
- My body fat percentage also dropped slightly to 24.1%
- Overall my weight today was 74.5kg. So once I look at it as a whole I am pretty happy.
What I learned?
- Exercise for me is one of the best ways to manage stress and anxiety
- Pulling yourself our of bed with glandular fever is an achievement, let alone doing F45
- Sticking to routine while traveling takes planning but can be done
- My husband is amazing, and prepared a lot of the food for me
- When you try to do planks or foam roll at home your 18 month old will sit on you
- Overall weight doesn’t matter
- F45 is addictive, I planned only to do the challenge, but I definitely want to stick around and do the next one…hopefully being glandular fever free!