I Did an F45 Challenge, Lost 20 Pounds, and Got in the Best Shape of My Life

Hannah Mitchell, as told to Emily Shiffer
·5 mins read
Photo credit: Hannah Mitchell
Photo credit: Hannah Mitchell

From Prevention

My name is Hannah Mitchell, and I am 31 years old. I’m originally from Australia, and I moved to New York City four years ago. I fell in love with F45 Training and joined one of the gyms F45 Challenges and lost 20 pounds before my wedding. I now feel like my strongest self ever.

Growing up in Australia, I was very athletic. I have always had a more athletic build and had to work hard and work out to manage my weight. In college, I was on the rowing team and competed at a national level. I trained 10 times a week, and it was always really intense. After college, I gave up rowing and I entered the corporate world. However, I was eating the same amount and exercising less.

In 2016, I made the move to the U.S. I got into the gym and fitness scene in New York City to stay active. I would go a couple times a week to a bootcamp or cycling class and I ran outside a few times a week. I did my own thing for a year.

In April 2017, an F45 Training opened up near me and offered a free two-week trial, so me and some fellow Aussie friends went to give it a try.

F45 is a mix of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training, and functional movements, and there are studios all over the globe. I absolutely loved the 45-minute group workouts.

No class was the same, and I quickly developed a fitness family relationship with people there that made exercise more enjoyable. Everyone pushes and encourages each other, and it becomes a social thing as well. We have all become really close, which has been the best because in a city like New York City, it can feel really lonely.

At the start of 2018, I was 168 pounds. I wasn’t really happy with it, so I loosely started following an F45 Challenge.

The Challenge was an eight-week program with a meal plan. The thing was, I wasn’t totally dedicated at the time. However, I had a new fitness goal in mind: My fiancé Ryan and I were getting married in Mexico in September of that year. So three months out, I started to really tune into my diet and I *officially* did an F45 Challenge.

The program was set up in a way that has you in different phases throughout each week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were cardio days, with meals and snacks best suited for cardio workouts. Tuesday and Thursday were weight/strength days, and the meal plan had more protein on those days.

In 10 weeks, I lost 20 pounds (!).

Throughout the F45 Challenge, I did try to follow the meal plan closely during the week, and on weekends I was more relaxed. I reduced my drinking and desserts as well, and found sticking with portion control worked for me.

The meal plan wasn’t about cutting out particular things, but about striking a balance between food groups with the workout type. I realized I was eating way too much protein and carbs. The meal plan came with grocery lists and recipes, which was super helpful. It was packed with lots of anti-inflammatory veggies and fruit.

Here’s what I typically ate in a day on the Challenge (and still eat now!):

  • Breakfast: Veggie omelette or Greek yogurt with berries and nuts

  • Lunch: Chicken or salmon and veggies

  • Dinner: Protein and veggies. I love bolognese over zoodles or chicken stir fry.

  • Snacks: Nuts, fruits and protein shakes, protein balls

  • Dessert: Protein balls or a protein shake

Pre-pandemic, I would go to F45 classes at least six times a week, and maybe do a cycling class or two a week. With COVID-19, as you can imagine, everything changed. But I was able to keep doing F45 workouts with my husband through their app and live Zoom classes as well.

In June, they also started doing outdoor bootcamps in Central Park. (Studios are still closed in NYC.) They’re called track classes, and they’ve been amazing. I have been going one to two times a week. I love the community vibe and seeing other people participating in the workout.

These three changes have also made a huge impact on my overall weight loss.

  • I had a goal. Whether your goal is to get fit for a particular event or do a 10k race, it really helps to have a goal in mind. People take shortcuts when it comes to losing weight, but having a goal helps motivate you and gives you a deadline. My goal now? To maintain a healthy weight and feel good about myself!

  • I had a support network around myself. I love going to the gym and having supportive F45 coaches who know my goals, and having friends doing it with me. It helps motivate me and keep me on track.

  • I used meal plans and meal prepped. A big part of the Challenge was meal prep. I would prep on a Sunday and make my snacks and a lot of meals in advance and just reheat them. I stuck with meals that were reasonable and easy and quick to cook.

In order to lose weight and get healthy, I had to *want* to make a change.

Working out with friends is so motivating to me. Everybody is different and is going to have different goals. Yes, I lost 20 pounds in 10 weeks before my wedding, but I kept going with my workouts because they made me so happy.

Since 2018, I have been maintaining, and it has changed the way I work out and eat. I now understand my body better and what it needs nutritionally. I’ve kept a healthy weight and found a lifelong fitness routine that continues to push me.

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