Disclaimer: this post is definitely not sponsored, just an honest review of my personal experience on the 90 Day SSS Plan. P.S. Please don’t judge me for the awful underwear choice in my before picture. The photos were taken when I was visiting my parents for the weekend and had forgot to bring home and clean underwear so had to make do with very old granny pants.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a social media cave or are in complete denial of the whole fitness revolution society seems to be undergoing (#fitfam #eatclean #eatcleantraindirty #cringe) then I’m sure you’ll be very aware of Joe Wicks, AKA the Body Coach. With his snappy 15 second Instagram cooking videos (#leanin15) and feed of incredible transformation photographs of clients following his 90 Day SSS plan, it comes as no surprise the personal trainer has amassed a following of 470k followers leading to countless TV appearances, magazine front covers, and basically what can only be described as social media stardom/world domination.
Having followed his Instagram account for a few months watching The Body Coach’s clients mind-blowing transformations, I couldn’t quite work out how my personal health and fitness routine was failing me. Three gym sessions a week and a diet of no carbs, followed by a binge day of pizza, burritos, bacon sandwiches, burgers, and the inhabitants of a small town – that sounds legit to me. Really, honestly, it’s hard to see where I was going wrong and why I still looked so damn chubby…
Jokes aside, I certainly wasn’t what most people would consider big in size (I was a UK 8-10, although I definitely look more like a 10-12 in the photos), but I had got into bad habits and lost the great shape that I used to have when I felt my most confident. What was worse was that I lacked the knowledge and self-control to do anything about it. As women (and men!) we’re faced with so many celebrity/hero fad diets it results in so much white noise that you can’t work out the legit from the bullshit. Don’t eat eggs. Eat eggs. Go vegan. Stop eating gluten. Eat all of the wheat. Cut carbs. Cut fat… When all I really needed was somebody to cut the bullshit for me so I could actually stick to something. So I signed up to the 90 Day SSS plan – the fee was £150 to be paid over 3 month instalments – and I filled in the questionnaire detailing my height, weight, measurements, dietary requirements, and any other health-related issues.
So what does the 90 day SSS plan entail?
It’s a tailored fat loss plan (based on all of the information you fill out in the questionnaire) that has you eating more food, burning fat, and getting fit. Broken down into three 30-day cycles, you get a training regime and meal plan, all made to fit around your life. Plus you get a dedicated support coach to help answer any questions and to virtually encourage you. After you finish a cycle, you send in your progress picture, along with new weight and measurements for a new plan to be tailored and sent out.
Why does it work?
The best thing about this plan is that it teaches you about nutrition and macronutrient timing. You learn what to eat and when, as well as how much you should have. It also teaches you that the number on the scales doesn’t matter. It takes things back to basics – it’s not about restricting and obsessively counting calories; it’s about learning to eat well.
(Soz for the messy room)
The fitness regime was basic, and therefore totally easy for someone as unfit as me. Based entirely on HIIT training, you’d do 20 minutes exercise 4-5 times a week. One of Joe’s mottos is “No equipment, no excuses” – you don’t need an expensive gym membership or class pass to get fit. I simply followed his YouTube HIIT videos.
As for the 90 Day SSS Cycle 1 meal plan, it takes a bit to get your head around, but once you’ve worked out the things you like, it’s easy to adapt to your lifestyle. The portion sizes are HUGE – I’ve never eaten so much meat in my life (soz vegetarians – although he does a great veggie plan too) – so you never find yourself going hungry. There were stuffed peppers, cashew curry, and vegetable-packed omelettes. And it’s all about macronutrients, so you eat a meal high in carbs after you train, and the other 2 meals of the day are from the low carb menu. There were recommended supplements and protein shakes, but having just finished my master’s degree I was poor and couldn’t exactly afford all of that.
At the time I was on Cycle 1, I was freelancing and spent my days out and about at different meetings, so I found that preparation was key to success. We all live busy lives so when we’re out and about it becomes so easy to let our good habits go by picking up some fast food to satisfy us quickly, or dodgy processed sandwiches. Making meals in advance and freezing them/keeping them in your fridge will stop you from making bad choices because you know you have something healthy and filling just waiting for you.
The biggest issue I had in Cycle 1 was with alcohol. No, I’m not an alcoholic, but spring was fast approaching and I like a good espresso martini (or 7). The Body Coach encourages you to ditch alcohol as much as you can as when you drink it, your body starts to burn off the alcohol rather than any fat, thus drastically slowing any fat loss. Plus it can make you feel shitty and crave shitty food. Who’s guilty of ordering way too much drunk pizza at 2am? Then microwaving it and eating it for breakfast? Me. And probably you too, I can imagine.
Despite following the plan, ditching my friends and booze for nights in with my gym gear and some protein, I didn’t feel particularly impressed with my first four weeks progress compared to some I had seen on the Body Coach’s instagram feed. The front on photo certainly looked somewhat similar, but the side on photo there was a big difference. It all just goes to show that abs are made in the kitchen, because that belly loss came purely from learning correct nutrition for my body.
Having spoken to my support coach, Joe Monk, about my disappointment, he said everyone progresses at different levels and that next month will probably be better. He also put things into perspective: we live in a quick fix society where if we don’t see results fast, we give up. But the best things don’t come easily; you work hard, so enjoy the ride.
Onto cycle 2 – or “the carbicide” cycle, I had come to think of it as considering most people talking about C2 said they had never eaten so many carbs in their life.
Fitness intensified. Weights were involved alongside HIIT training. I picked up a set of £50 adjustable dumbbells for £20 from a charity shop (although I couldn’t carry them all home. awks) so I suggest if you’re doing this sans gym membership, look around first before shelling out the cash for an expensive set. I’d never really used weights before, mostly because I didn’t know how to properly lift them. Quite frankly, I don’t fancy waltzing up clad in skintight Lycra to the weights section of the gym that’s typically populated by 97% men and picking up some heavy metal dumbbells and doing shit wrong. I was a basic cardio bitch through and through, jogging on a never-ending treadmill at speed 8.7 before I started this plan (and if that doesn’t sound like an metaphor for life than I don’t know what does) but that was changing. I learnt to love weights and the physical strength it was giving me.
As for food, you got to eat every meal from the high carb menu on your training days. Yes carbs! Rice or noodle based stir-fries, potatoes, sweet potatoes, burgers – in actual buns! Bread! Of course, this didn’t go without two weeks of total bloating and so looking like I was a little pregnant, but the carbo-bloat disappeared and I was beginning to see more definition in my body. Rather than a set meal plan, it was a pick n mix of choices, so you could learn to create the exact meals you want. It’s about gaining independence and teaching yourself nutrition.
Despite all of the carbs, I feel like I made the most progress in this cycle, plus I was finally learning to love exercise and see this more as a (cue vomit bucket) fitness journey rather than just a goal to hit.
Whoever said carbs are the devil hasn’t heard of the 90 Day SSS plan.
(I was moving house hence the stack of bin bags and an actually tidy bedroom)
The final cycle saw a return to a meal plan much like cycle 1 in terms of low carb meal to high carb meal ratio. Yep, the rice, pasta, potato and bread indulgence of C2 was semi over. But the meals were just as delicious. Weights became even more heavily involved, taking up around 85% of my training, with 15% of it being HIIT. This cycle is all about sustaining the body you have made, fine-tuning and toning it. As you can see from the photos, it wasn’t as big a transformation as before but I was finishing with far more tone to my body!
Finishing the 90 Day SSS plan and Moving Forwards
Despite being really happy with the results, I was disappointed with how the plan ended. It’s not like I was expecting a medal or an email that evaporated into a burst of white doves or anything along those lines, but after sending in my final results and images, I simply got a semi-dismissive congrats email with a skeleton plan on how to maintain, sustain, and push progress further. All of the hard work I had done felt a little anti-climatic.
Regardless, I couldn’t ignore the figure in front of me: slimmer, more toned, and happier than ever before. Even at my slimmest back in early 2013, I didn’t look this good because this time round my body was been developing muscle rather than being a lean cardio gal. The biggest challenge was refitting the plan around my first full-time job that I started at the end of June. A 9-5 job with an hour commute each way took some getting used to. I eventually signed up to the gym near work, so I get up at 6am and head there four mornings a week, as I don’t have the motivation or energy for a full-blown training session afterwards!
The plan has taught me so much about nutrition. If you work hard then small slip ups won’t matter. Good, strong, and most importantly, SUSTAINABLE progress takes time, so learn to enjoy it, and stop expecting overnight changes.
Would the 90 day SSS plan work for you?
There’s no clear answer, as it depends on your life commitments, self-control, and self-motivation. I found myself comparing my progress to the progress of others on Joe’s instagram feed who I considered to be around my size, and we all ended up looking different. Whilst I’ve been shouting about how amazing it is, I’ve had friends sign up who just haven’t been able to get on with it. I manage to make it work with my job, but I know others who have more strenuous jobs that have struggled. Preparation is key, so you have to be organised too. But if you want to lose weight, tone up, and learn to live your life in a healthier and happier way, then of course it’s worth it.
The bottom line is for me that I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it because unlike all of the restrictive crash diets before where I starved myself and felt grumpy and tired constantly, I was eating TONNES of delicious, nutritious, home cooked meals, so I wasn’t missing eating pizza and burgers and anything else, whilst finally fitter in a way that suited my lifestyle in a non-intimidating way. For those reasons, I couldn’t recommend the plan more.