It seems like many, that this is a common sentiment for people at the start of a new year, and I guess there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be that little bit more accomplished, or to be fitter, healthier and stronger!

It is for the latter reason that I embarked upon the fad that seems to be gripping the nation that of the exercise and meal planning routine of Mr. Joe Wicks!  Love or hate him, the man’s got a point as well a few mill in the bank!  I first discovered Joe Wicks in June last year, a number of people kept mentioning his HIIT (High Intensive interval training) sessions and his recipe books.  Someone tried to explain how he organised eating around exercise and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t particularly convinced – how on earth would I have time to do that!!???

However, by chance, I came across one of his LEAN IN FIFTEEN Pinterest recipe ideas and I became instantly hooked!

I’m not desperately over weight and I’m not one of those skinny women who claim they have loads to loose when they really, they don’t! But I’ve always been someone who has battled with my weight. I really believe in eating healthily to stay actively and mentally fit!  I won’t lie I like food (and wine), I also massively comfort eat in times of stress, when I’m tired or when I’m busy – just grabbing stuff on the go!  Being a secondary school teacher and a mum of 2 I’m therefore continually in one or all of these categories!

Last summer I embarked on trying to follow Joe’s concepts having bought his first book – the red one!  And immediately both myself and my husband loved the recipes – they were nutritious and filling! I’m not massively fussy, but in the past I’ve bought recipe books and I’ve only ever made 2 or 3 out of the book because they’re ‘faffy’!  I seriously do not have time for ‘faffing’ in the kitchen!  The Joe Wicks ones really aren’t!  They are that simple and I have made loads out of each book and some off Pinterest, and Instagram! You do need to have the right ingredients and you do need to know what to stock up on – with a little bit of research into his recipes I discovered a number of the recipes had the same kind of ingredients, spices and herbs and so I gradually built up a supply.

I loved the concept of eating decent meals, using good fats to burn fat and having carbs – even (shock horror) “white bread” if you so desired once you’d completed a HIIT session.  And whilst I don’t think I’ll ever get the other half to eat avocadoes – we were both very taken by Joe’s post work out shake of spinach, protein powder, ice and honey!  It really is lovely and I’m not a green shake kinda girl!

The choice and variety of meals over his 3 books, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are honestly delicious and they generally can be cooked in about 15-25 mins and they are genuinely lovely! (some do take a little longer but they state this in his book)  Even the husband has had a go at cooking and that’s a first in 15 years of marriage – and very nice they were too!  He’s had ago at the Mcleanie burger and wedges and the speedy stroganoff!

Pictured: Joe’s Mcleanie burger from This Morning

However, it was the summer holidays and having the time to plan at home was essential – Joe Wicks constantly refers to “prepping like a boss” and to be honest this is partly the truth! For me however, it isn’t the prepping of the food, so much as the organising of what we were going to eat and when combined with when we would have time to train, along side shopping for the ingredients.  If I don’t plan, or I forget, I’ll eat whatever I can quickly grab my hands on – I’m then not full, so I’ll eat something else of equally low nutritious value some time later!

So 6 weeks back into the school term and bad habits came back – I was too busy and tired to train, food planning went out the window and gradually I stopped – although I still made a number of his meals each week!

This New Year has seen me make a determined effort to make this lifestyle work!  I know I feel fitter and healthier when I’m committed to eating this way, I know I don’t feel hungry and I don’t snack so much!  Joe hate’s the concept of the word diet and refers to the scales as the “naughty step” that should be thrown away and it is this, which I really cling to!  It’s not a short fad of a diet to see me lose weight – it’s a healthy lifestyle!  Over Christmas I read a Facebook post saying how this person had lost loads of weight had given up carbs, sugar, alcohol, various fats and had been to the gym 6 times a week (now admittedly it was a joke and the person who had written it as their status had then written at the end– I don’t know whose status this was but I was so pleased for them I copied it to mine) – I really howled with laughter – because as I was reading it I just thought how dull and boring life must have become and would this be sustainable?  With the healthy lifestyle promoted by Joe Wick’s I really think and hope that it is!  Yes it won’t be perfect 100% of the time, but then as he admits, neither is he!  But if we can opt for fresher healthier foods and combine it with regular exercise this has to be a good thing! So my mission this year is to see if, with the busy life that I lead, I can still cook all (most) of our meals from fresh, combine it with 3 to 4 HIIT sessions a week and sustain Joe Wick’s Lean in Fifteen plan along side being a high school teacher and a mum of two!

Is it expensive? – Regardless of what anyone says to actually eat healthy is relatively expensive anyway!  Over the years I have tried numerous fads from 5:2 diet to Slimming World and every time I’ve opted to buy healthy protein and veg my shopping bill is always far more expensive. The recent ITV programme Save Money: Lose Weight reckoned that it cost around £43 per Ib of weight lost for Joe’s plan – which I think was stupidly ludicrous!  Yes it is expensive compared to filling up your trolley on ready made chips, pizza and frozen lasagnes and if you only ever cook the recipes using fillet steak then of course his meals will come out expensive. Not only that, a big thing about Joe’s concept is not all about losing weight – he hates the scales – it’s about burning fat and toning, leading to a healthier life style. If the person was following the plan and exercising correctly then she was likely to increase muscle – which of course everyone knows weighs heavier.

When I plan for the week I look at including a variety of different meals using meats and veg, pasta, and salad and as I’ve stated the cost is no different from just shopping for non processed foods.  I ensure that a number of meals can be doubled up, frozen and then used on days when I know I’m going to be late because of Parent’s evenings or whatever… I now have 3 different weeks planned and hope to rotate these so as to save me having to keep thinking and planning – and just tweak as and when I need to.

I am determined to succeed not just for myself but also because I want my kids to eat healthily too without thinking that “mummy’s on a diet”. I never want my kids to think that I’m ashamed of who I am – there are far too many issues of young kids being body conscious as it is!! Many of Joe’s recipes are child friendly – my two are so fussy they wont eat it… yet! However, I am hoping as they get older and they see us eat healthy food, they will want to enjoy it too!

So I’m now three weeks in – Yes I’ve cheated I was feeling ill and run down on Friday night so Dominoes pizza was in order “GUILTEE” in Joe’s words, but I actually don’t feel guilty!  I enjoyed every slice and Saturday night I cooked Joe Wick’s delicious Sweet and sour pork – Even my eldest enjoyed it!

All through the month of January on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.30 AM Joe has been running a Facebook live HIIT work out session.  I can’t make that time with my girls in the morning and be out in time for work – but we do them in the evening when we come home!  They have been great and it’s a good place to start if you want to follow along in the comfort of your own home – you don’t need weights – just water and be prepared to feel like you might die at the start!!  This is normal!!!  It also helps that he sometimes looks like he’s finding it tough too!

Anyway, I shall blog a little later and let you guys know how I’m getting on!

Come back soon!

Susie x