page contents
Can you make a difference in your fitness in just 21 days?

Can you make a difference in your fitness in just 21 days?

Body transformation challenges: 4 keys to success

Been on any social media platforms lately? Hard to miss the countless body transformation challenges out there. For the record, I respect coaches who guide their clients to achieve fantastic results through hard work, discipline, commitment and dedication. I am not however a fan of any extreme challenges, where people are undernourished and pushed to physical limits far removed from healthy behaviors, maintainable lifestyle choices, and common sense. That’s not a challenge. That’s purgatory. Good transformation programs usually succeed because they give the hopeful three keys to success: a deadline, motivation that change will happen and sound advice. The fourth key really shouldn’t need to be mentioned but I will: YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK. Few things in life magically appear regardless of how hard you wish it into existence.

What I notice when looking past the fancy marketing and packaging from one challenge to another, things are rather similar. Drink more water. Cut out refined carbohydrates and added sugar. Limit your treats. Eat more leafy plant food. Exercise more – and hopefully smarter. Track. That’s pretty sound advice. And honestly, after the usual 8 to 12 weeks, folks that followed the advice are transformed. I’m always so very proud of my students when we create these opportunities for them.

But what about those on the outside? People who can’t fathom having 12 uninterrupted weeks to metamorphose? Given our kids’ school holidays in Dubai, such stretches are near impossible. Are these people doomed to “if only” and “I wish”? I don’t think so. The answer lies in our interpretation of transformation. Small changes in the right direction are still changes. So how do we marry small changes with the success keys of challenges?

Get your fitness started in 21 days?

Today’s question is whether you can impact your fitness in just 3 weeks? My resounding answer: YOU BETCHA. You can make a difference in your fitness in just ONE day, since every decision that you make towards a healthier you is a difference. Every little positive decision builds the foundation for lasting change. Now you didn’t get out of shape overnight, so you aren’t going to reverse that in a day or a few weeks either. But here’s why 21 days is a great time frame to get your fitness started:

  1. It’s close enough to light the fire under your backside to get started. Deadlines are critical to achieving goals since, without them, goals are just wishes. So you’ve got only 3 weeks to build momentum on habits that will fuel your future fitness.
  2. Sort of the reverse of number 1, it’s not so far away that you have time to mull things over, over analyze and procrastinate. DO IT. I’ve made it easy with three weekly action sheets so you know what you need to do every day for 21 days.
  3. It’s long enough to build supportive habits – and to start to break bad ones. I’m a firm believer in having the strength to make tough choices for the things that are truly important to you. You’ve got good time in 3 weeks to also get rid of sabotaging habits. Don’t kid yourself – it’s your habits that make or break your fitness. Invest time replacing bad with good and the tradeoff will become easier the more you do it. Go ahead, try me.
  4. Twenty one, shmenty one. There’s nothing that says that you can’t extend it to 28, 35 or more building on all that you’ve learned in the first three weeks.
  5. 21 days = 300+ opportunities. When we consider the 15 to 20 daily opportunities to make a positive and supportive fitness choice, 21 days actually becomes over 300 actions. Each one brings you closer or farther away from your goal…choose more positive ones and find them getting easier. Simply being conscious of the fact that these are your CHOICES goes a long way in supporting your mettle. And be grateful for actually having a choice to make. Practice makes permanent. Practice well.

T minus 3: Your 3 day preparation countdown

Now before the countdown clock starts, I’ll give you three days to figure some stuff out and put you solidly on the starting blocks to success:

  • Journal or Notebook. GET ONE. USE IT.
      • mood, sleep, stress level?
      • exercise & physical activity: walking, playing with kids, dancing, whatever.
      • how did you feel after your exercise?
      • supplements: i.e. vitamins, Omega, D3, etc.
      • water consumption? # glasses

As for food, I want you to know everything that crossed past your lips, how much and when. This is often most useful as a breakdown per meal of the following:

      • beverages: what? quantity?
      • vegetable servings
      • fruit servings
      • protein servings
      • sweets / treats servings
      • complex carbs (bread, rice, pasta, grains, etc.) servings
      • For example: Breakfast 7am – 3 egg white + 1 yolk omelette cooked in 1tsp butter plus ½ cup broccoli, ½ a red pepper, 4 mushrooms. 2 cups black coffee. (Yes, really.)
  • Get your fitness clothing and footwear ready to go. Pack a towel and water bottle (which will become your new best friend).
  • Get your schedule out and plan when you will exercise, and if appropriate, where for the entire 21 days. Even if it’s just a quick 10 minute fast pace walk, schedule it. 7 days a week. While you are at it, plan when you will do some preparation for healthy meal choices…cutting veggies for snacks, cooking larger batches of chicken breast, making soup, whatever.
  • Go shopping. Get what you’ll need for your meals for the next 3-5 days. Don’t over complicate things. It’s ok to have food re-runs, especially when we’re on a 21 day time crunch! Remember, you can have it all, just not all at once. Plan ahead so you can’t fail.
  • Involve your family. Explain to them what you’re going to do and have them help you…get them excited about taking walks, bike rides, at home fitness time, preparing food and eating well.
  • Recruit a buddy. Next to having a deadline, having an accountability system is another huge success strategy. No one can lose here, well…other than for a few pounds, some negative self talk and unhealthy habits. You’ll both benefit.

Reality check: what was your reaction to T-3 plan?

If you rolled your eyes at the T-3, I’d say you are likely not ready for a change just yet. It does not make you a bad person. It simply indicates that it isn’t really that important or you may not yet trust yourself to make difficult tradeoffs. Save this plan then for when you are ready. I’ll still be here.

Your 21 day action sheets


Using these three weekly actions sheets is easy. You’ll need 7 of the week 1, 7 of the week 2 and, obviously, 7 of the week 3 action sheets. Some of you may ask “What’s a portion size?” Well, look at your hand. For ladies it’s a fist size for fruit and veggies, and the size of your palm for protein. Men, you can double that. You’ll note that I didn’t mention anything about carbs. You’ll be getting plenty of them with your veggies but I don’t want you to necessarily limit your starches, other than perhaps choose the best quality and most whole food ones you can (sweet potatoes anyone?). Start with veggies and protein at every meal. Then if you have room, eat a serving of starchy carbs (about the same as a veggie serving if not a little smaller). See how it goes. If you turn really nasty – eat more. How to use the sheet? Just tick off the boxes that apply. For example in week 1, I’m asking for you to drink 8 cups of water per day – that’s 2 litres. I’ve given you an extra 2 little cups there for bonus points. Come 6pm if you see that you’re short on water or veggies, EAT/DRINK. Don’t worry about fruit and don’t eat more protein than with every meal – you have 5 little egg cups there, but if you only eat 3 times, that’s all you need to tick.


I’ve provided a daily workout suggestion. You have a bunch of 10 minute increments that you can check off for your planned exercise. Aim for at least one tick EVERY DAY and between 2-3 ticks 3x per week.

Daily Action Sheet WEEK 1 Change your fitness in 21 days week 3 Daily Action Sheet WEEK 2


Let me know how it goes. While I’d be very happy for any fat loss you’ll achieve, I’m really interested in whether you now consider yourself a little fitter than when you started? Consider this your 21 day kick in the pants, compliments of me!