Thinking about signing up for the Orangetheory Transformation Challenge? It’s a good idea to be prepared for all of the things that can go wrong — because they probably will. Some of the biggest hurdles in my life happened during the eight weeks that I was competing, but good planning helped me stay on track. You want to make everything as easy as possible. Here’s how I won the Orangetheory Transformation Challenge on a keto diet!
Preparing for the Orangetheory Transformation Challenge
The first thing I did was research the keto diet. It’s not for everyone, but I’m aware of the fact that my body doesn’t respond well to wheat. At the very least, it seemed like an opportunity to see how my body responded to removing it from my diet. After doing some Googling, I decided buy the following supplies to get started:
- The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide
- Keto Made Easy: 100+ Easy Keto Dishes Made Fast to Fit Your Life
- Keto Made Easy: Fat Adapted 50 Day Guide
- MCT oil softgels
- Coconut oil (buy from Costco!)
- Olive oil (buy from Costco!)
- Collagen peptides
- Lankanto monkfruit sweetener (this is the BEST brand!)
- Eggs (buy from Costco!)
- Bacon (buy from Costco!)
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Natural peanut butter
- Heavy cream (buy from Costco!)
- Bone Broth
Meal prepping is so important. In fact, I planned all of my meals 30 days at a time. I made sure I had all of the supplies I needed for my meals and snacks so that there was no excuse to fall off the wagon. Then, I just used the same meal plan for the next 30 days. Easy peasy!
Here are some of my favorite keto recipes:
- 9 Keto Chaffle Recipes You Need If You Miss Waffles!
- Keto Travel Snacks We Pack for Every Trip
- The Very Best Keto Cocktails for Fall
- Try These Keto Halloween Treats — No Tricks!
- Keto Holiday Recipes You Need to Try
- The 10 Best Keto Christmas Cookies
I’m not enough of an expert to explain how keto works here. In fact, I’m hesitant to do so because I don’t want to give anyone any bad advice. This post is about what worked for me, and you can use that information however you like. In the meantime, for a truly excellent keto resource, please check out Keto Connect.
A Checkup and a Shopping Trip
Before I got really serious about the Orangetheory Transformation Challenge, I consulted with my doctor. Fortunately, I was given the all-clear and immediately stocked up on the following:
- A new pair of athletic shoes
- Sports bras and socks
- Workout clothes that made me feel good
- Food storage containers for meal prep
- Dry erase calendar for meal planning
After weeks of anticipation and preparation, I was absolutely pumped for the Orangetheory Transformation Challenge to begin. I knew exactly what I was going to wear to my three workouts and what I was going to eat each day. Of course, I also needed to take a “before” picture. Here it is!
What did I eat in a typical day? Here’s an example:
- Orange pekoe tea with 1 TBSP heavy cream
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bomb
- Blue Diamond Wasabi Soy Almonds (14)
- Bacon and Eggs
- Chicken wings, cucumbers, and a salad
Every night, I made sure I was done eating by 7pm. Before bed, I enjoy having tea so I decided to do a Lemon Zinger or Turmeric Tea without anything added so that my body was in a state of caloric deficit until around 11am the next day. This provided me with about 16 hours of intermittent fasting. If I’d tried to fast on my regular diet, I would have felt like I was dying. Doing it this way, especially with most of the hours being overnight while I slept, it was effortless. I lost 11 pounds in the first week.
Three workouts a week was tough on my body. We started going to hot yoga as a way of adding a fourth, gentler workout that would double as a stretch and recovery session. Even though I was heartbroken at that time due to personal family challenges (I was an emotional wreck), I was determined to go to class. I knew that I’d only feel worse if I didn’t prioritize my health that day.
Even if you’re not going through a tough time, yoga can bring up some stuff. I’m actually glad that I went that day because I released that initial pain in a healthy way instead of reaching for a bag of chips. Find a healthy outlet (like yoga) for your emotional garbage. The following week, I went back and I was feeling so fierce that I actually pushed up into Wheel pose and attempted a handstand. Despite all of my struggles, I was changing and I was proud.
At the mid-point check-in, I’d already lost 20 lbs. After initially losing 11 lbs in the first week, I’d lost four pounds in Week 2 and then three pounds in both Week 3 and Week 4. Then, all of a sudden, I gained two pounds. It was a huge shock for me!
While my menstrual cycle was the lightest it had been in years (maybe ever!?), I did have some bloating and water retention. It messed with my head a little bit but I worked through it. The most important thing was just staying hydrated (I drink about 100 ounces of water every day!)
My cravings for things virtually disappeared by Week 5 on the keto diet. I’d stopped having fat bombs at breakfast with just my heavy cream tea keeping me feeling full for hours. I used to have huge mood swings if I didn’t eat breakfast. I’d get hangry if I had to wait too long for a meal. It was unbelievable to suddenly feel like my blood sugar was so well regulated. It was miraculous!
Part of the health problems that had plagued me for more than 20 years was (TMI) chronic diarrhea after most of my colon was removed. The keto diet has changed that. Now, I have formed poops. I literally texted my family from the toilet to announce this the first time it happened. It was incredible.
Here’s an incomplete list of other things I no longer experience:
- Menstrual cramps
- Heavy periods
- Severe hunger
- Blood sugar regulation issues
- Gas or bloating (unless it’s hormone-related)
In the past, I couldn’t go four hours without eating. By Week 6, I discovered I could go a whole day without eating (or more!). It’s insane. When I’m fat adapted and fully on the keto diet, I almost never feel really hungry.
Whenever I got peckish (a rarity), I’d have almonds, macadamia nuts, or a Slim Jim to stave off the hunger. What I noticed, though, was that the root of the problem was rarely hunger. Sometimes, I’d get cravings if I hadn’t had enough water to drink that day. Sometimes, it was boredom. So, have a cup or two of water and distract yourself before you reach for the snacks!
The final four weeks (especially Week 8) of the OrangeTheory Transformation Challenge was a bit of a mind game for me. When OTF shared the percentages of the Top 5 competitors at the midway point, I knew I had the highest number. There were three people right behind me, though, so I tried not to psych myself out. I decided to approach the end of the challenge like I’ve learned to treat my workouts.
My left Achilles tendon hurt all the way through the end of the OrangeTheory Transformation Challenge (it’s still achy!), so I couldn’t do any inclines. I was frustrated and ashamed by this initially, but then I decided to focus on my actual small victories. I stopped caring about other people’s Splat Points and paces and just played my own game. Another huge bonus? The keto diet helped my anxiety in a big way. I’ve never felt better!
At OrangeTheory, there’s a Base Pace, Push Pace, and All Out pace and, if we’re lucky, we get a walking recovery. When I started going in November, my Push Pace was 3 mph. Seriously. Today, it’s 4.7-5.0 mph. Yes, I see some people WALKING at that speed, but I don’t care. It’s good for ME and that’s all that matters.
Here is my list of things you should NOT do to win the Orangetheory Transformation Challenge:
- Do NOT let any coach push you past your limits. You don’t want to get injured (or worse) because some stranger is telling you to work harder. Watch the heart rate monitor, keep it in orange as much as you can and then let it go.
- Don’t overdo the workouts. People were almost killing themselves with five or more workouts a week. Your body needs time to rest and recover. I won with just three workouts a week.
- Skip the running if it hurts or feels like too much. Seriously, I walked for most of every workout. It was my body’s best effort and that’s all that matters.
- Don’t worry about anyone else. Focus on your own journey. Keep your eyes on your own treadmill or heart rate display. Don’t compare yourself to other people, and don’t let anyone else make comparisons either.
- Don’t share your progress. This might be subjective, but I think it’s a good idea to keep your methods and weight loss to yourself. People loooooove to poke holes in others’ confidence. Avoid talking about the Challenge as much as possible.
Last Minute Weight Gain!!!
Two days before the Orangetheory Transformation Challenge weigh-in, I got my period. We call it “Shark Week” on the keto boards. Immediately, I gained two pounds. While I managed to lose one after hot yoga the next day, I’ll never know what my numbers would have been if that hadn’t happened!
In the end, I lost 28.4 lbs which is 12.26% of my starting weight! In eight weeks. I can live with that. I’m so proud of myself. I stuck to this challenge despite all of the struggles we have been facing.
Forbes hired me as a contributing writer and another university asked me to teach an online course. We’ll be digging ourselves out of a hole financially for a while and we had to downgrade our membership but I am not going to give up. The fight to keep this momentum going continues and I’m so fortunate to have such a strong support system behind me.