[Note: links provided for information. I’m not selling anything. I’m a reviewer/tester by nature, so I like to document.]
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I met Michael Friedman at the Clinic by Dr. H. He’d led me through my first workout there, and he is a good motivator. He’s been there himself – not as large as I’ve gotten, but he’s had his own weight struggles, and overcome them, and he’s trained with Biggest Loser contestants at home, helping prep several for half marathons and beyond. Several fellow Clinic alumni he helped train for their first-ever half marathons, and one has already run her first full marathon with his help.
Michael gets results. And he cares.
When he came knocking with his BeachBody Challenge, he caught me at the perfect time. I was feeling stuck – addicted to sugar, fat and caffeine in their various combinations, and spinning my wheels in my workouts. I’m the praying type, so I prayed for a new direction. His email greeted me the following morning. I considered it an answer.
He had apparently posted an open notice about becoming a BB coach, and was looking to build a team to start April 14. He’d written a follow-up noting how many people asked first, “how much does it cost?” Depending on the workout you opt to go with, you’re looking somewhere around $200, give or take, for the first month. This includes a month’s worth of Shakeology, and the program of your choice. Michael recommended Focus T25 for me.
Naturally, cost is a factor; if I had money to burn I’d hire a trainer 2-3 times a week and have Jaime Oliver hand-deliver healthy meals and snacks six times a day. “How much is your health worth?” is still limited by “how much do you have?”. The mortgage isn’t going to wait. You have to budget. But as it happens, I had gotten into the habit of buying lunch at work, in the downstairs cafeteria, where some serious caloric evil is served up daily: gourmet cupcakes, cookies, cakes, tarts, tortes, flans, you name it. And they have a grill, sushi, sandwiches, a soup and salad bar, yogurt, energy drinks, etc. – you can eat healthy, but if you’re in the mood to be tempted, it’s a minefield.
Short take: my lunches were rarely less than ten bucks. So the $4 for each sub-200 calorie serving of Shakeology, while very expensive compared to other protein powders and meal replacements, would – if effective – save me money over my current habit. I should say that I have other protein powders at my desk, Isopure whey isolate and Syntha-6 and other BSN shakes. I’d have one or the other almost daily. They didn’t keep me from going downstairs, or from raiding the candy bowls that litter the admin desks at work. For me the Challenge price was a potential bargain, if it kept me from my daily $10+ lunches. The bundle of a month’s supply of Shakeology plus the workout DVDs was still a good deal less than I spend on lunch in an average month, and if the rest of my meals got cheaper/healthier as well (we regularly bought breakfast and dinner at drive-thrus), it could be a phenomenal savings.
If you investigate Shakeology, you’ll find the usual mix of unbiased reviews, biased reviews, and barely-disguised sales pitches. If you’re considering it, I’d say – read the reviews, watch the YouTube vids, and judge for yourself. Here’s what I came away with: Shakeology is filled with a lot of ingredients they mean to be impressive. Whether they’re all truly necessary is … an open question. But there’s no question that they’re aiming for a high-quality product. It’s sweetened with stevia, which is one of the only sweeteners not actively being decried by somebody or other, and it’s soy-free, which is crucial for my soy-allergic wife.
I told Michael to sign me up.
The challenge began on April 14, but I got the stuff the week before. The first five days, I had a packet of Shakeology, but didn’t change my other routines. I took the Greenberry first, and shook it up with cold water in a hand-mixer. If I couldn’t stand it that way, it would be a problem, since I needed to make it at work. The mix blended fairly well, and it reminded me a bit of Naked Juice Green Machine, if not as thick. I otherwise ate what I normally do, including the crap.
The big thing I noticed was the next morning: I felt vastly more energized than the day before, and woke before my alarm. I’m not a morning person, so (go figure) I was annoyed in addition to curious.
The second day, I had a chocolate shake – again hand-mixed, with cold water. It tasted like a dark chocolate, a bit vitamin-ey but not bad. I preferred the taste to, say, Muscle Milk. I again ate much as I normally do, but I didn’t buy as many pastries at lunch, without feeling a gnawing hunger for more.
Day 3: again woke before the alarm, feeling more alert – and again annoyed. I further reduced my sugar intake, again by choice. Again had a hand-mixed shake.
Day 4 (Saturday): awoke feeling like crud, but also feeling energized, and resenting it. My body felt like a battleground, with the sugar-caffeine-pastry faction losing ground but burning the villages on their way out. I had some caffeine but no pastries. Had another shake.
Day 5 (Sunday): felt dreadful most of the day, but improving toward evening. Ate pretty clean. Had another shake.
Summary: I didn’t do much exercising in this pre-Challenge period. I didn’t hit the ground running. In a way, I dared Shakeology to make a difference. That probably made the transition period rougher than it needed to be. But there was a transition period. Within a week, the headlock my sugar cravings had on me were largely gone. Just a few weeks before I’d gone on a candida cleanse, and it had accomplished nothing. Shakeology was added to an otherwise unchanged unhealthy diet and basically sedentary life, and in a few days curb-stomped my cravings and led me to crave healthier things.
I’d been battling my sugar cravings for months. I’d had success previously with Candistroy. Not this time. So when Shakeology succeeded, I was impressed. I could have done without the detox, but that could have been at least partly from giving up the high-caffeine Monsters.
Worth $4 per day? For me, yes. Without question. Even before I incorporated the other elements of the Challenge, the Shakeology broke the back of one of my biggest hurdles.