A Lifestyle 180'
This year, I made a New Years Resolution to give my self a break from ridiculous fad diets and from placing so much emphasis on my weight, which I have managed to do, touch wood, up until this point. I've said it before and I will say it again - I have reached a point in my life where I do not want to feel limited by food, by calories or by unrealistic expectations of my body. With that being said though, I will be dawning a bikini in May for our first family holiday and towards the end of last year I realised that I am the one in control of how I feel when I do that. I want the focus of my holiday to be on making memories and having fun, rather than my wobbly tum or the upper arm chub that's been keeping me cosy all Winter. I made a pact with myself to get strong, confident and more in tune with my body (easier said than done) in the run up, and obviously worried that I would eventually show him up on the beach, Jordan decided to join me. We set out a plan that would give both of us the results we were looking for.
Initially, a 12 week period to focus on gaining some muscle and getting back into a consistent gym routine, followed by 10 weeks in a small caloric deficit to lose some fat. While we both wanted extreme results - who doesn't? - neither of us wanted to go to extreme measures, and so we've gone through a lot of trial and error throughout the last three months to work out exactly where we want to be. With our 'bulking' period now pretty much over, I thought I was finally in a good position to talk about how I am feeling at this point and most surprisingly, the So Shape diet products we've jumped on board with.
So Shape are a French brand with a smart meal system that is tried and tested system for weight loss. They have a range of meals and shakes each of which are vegetarian, gluten free, GMO free and nutritionally balanced - which makes all of the difference compared to your run of the mill meal replacement brands. The brands philosophy centre around enjoying life and keeping things simple, which is something we can all get on board with. I can almost hear you asking yourself as you read through this - but why using So Shape if trying to gain weight right now?
Gaining muscle is simple. Eat in a caloric surplus. Lift heavy weights. It would be very easy to get my calories from Mars Bars and McDonalds, but I would gain an excessive amount of fat that I really don't need, and I wouldn't really be any healthier in the long run. I spent the majority of my time trying to gain muscle eating excessive amounts of chicken breast and pasta the end of the day which made me feel worse rather than better. Using the So Shape products meant I was able to eat wholesome real food, and then supplement them with easy, quick meals that I knew would let me hit my calorie targets without making me feel sluggish. Plus, truth be told - I really was curious.
I've always wondered how people can live on the likes of Slim Fast, and the last few weeks have simply confirmed that I could not. Although the So Shape products really were lovely (Cookies and Creme is my vice) - I could not manage to live on shakes and shakes alone. The real diet plans for So Shape allow you to have a free meal during the day, and then smart foods, which can be thought of as the equivalent of your syn free foods on slimming world, so if you were to follow one of the plans, it's never going to be a shake-only diet. If I could recommend any of the options, I'd go with Cookies & Cream, Vanilla & White Chodolate and Spicy Bolo - I'd even go as far as saying they tasted like a bit of a treat
[one_half padding="0 0 0 0px"][/one_half][one_half_last padding="10px 30px 0px 30px"]Out of myself and Jordan, he would be the one most likely to continue on using So Shape for a longer term. Each sachet is nutritionally equivalent to a chicken breast, four oranges, two cups of mushrooms and half an avacado - which is fab, but I would rather just have the food, than a shake? Jordan however would rather have a shake that tastes like Chocolate than food that tastes like mushrooms, so I can almost see his reasoning.
I have found that I do feel less sluggish now, but I have combined the So Shape with consistent exercise and more calories, which will both help my energy levels. I was extremely worried about how I would feel about my body at the end of this mini-bulking period, I knew I would have to gain some body fat to gain muscle, but I couldn't be at a better place at the end of this process. I've managed to stay within the realms of a 'healthy' balanced diet, I've not gained too much body fat, and I do think using the So Shape meal replacements has really helped to keep me from going overboard.[/one_half_last]
Today marked the last day of our 12 week 'bulking' period, and whilst I've loved the extra energy to really push myself and the excuse to not hone in on my belly fat too closely, I'm more than ready to move into a phase where I can really see the results. As for our So Shape products, they've surprisingly been one of the most helpful things for our weight gain, and I'm now more confident using them with a fat loss focus in mind. I'm always cynical of meal replacement products, I don't think I'll ever be able to get on board with limiting myself. Whether it be limiting myself to a salad, or limiting myself to a powder - both aren't too appealing. What I can get on board with is supplementing a healthy diet with quick, nutritious on-the-go options and that's exactly what I'll be doing with So Shape.
If your interested in finding out more about So Shape, the website is filled with great info and you can find a two week supply here. You can also get 10% off any 14 or 28 Day supplies with the code 'LIFEWITHBOYS10'.
Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with So Shape, as always all opinions are my own (I really do love the Cookies and Cream flavor and I do feel better for using the products!)