This covers my first journey with the Arbonne Transformation Challenge. I did it again even more seriously two years later and lost 30 pounds — and I’ve kept it off. You can shop in my Arbonne Store and feel free to ask me any questions about the products I recommend.
When I spent a couple of days at Ste. Anne’s Spa this summer, I took a wellness class called yoga nidra. It was essentially guided meditation on some cozy floor mats.
I’ve always had trouble with meditation because my inner child doesn’t really exist; in its place is a frenzied brain that fires all cylinders non-stop. So the guided component was key to making it through that half-hour class without drifting off into to-do dreamland.
Our instructor had us focus on an intention. The first thing that came to mind, which became my intention during the class, was my physical health. I’ve always been up and down with my weight and gone through various periods of being physically active. I know what my body can do, because I’ve been lean and fit several times in my adult life – both before and after kids (well, after the first kid).
But here’s the thing: I have A LOT (like, a lot a lot) of fun getting fat.
I’m a total foodie and I don’t eat because I’m hungry – I eat because I genuinely love the flavours and textures and social aspect involved. And since I’m not picky and tend to favour high-fat and fried dishes, it’s easy to get carried away. And then there’s always dessert.
Problem No. 2? I don’t roll a lot of my identity or confidence into my body size. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally vain and I have more skin-care and makeup products than I should ever admit, but my curves get bigger and smaller in proportion and I don’t ever notice my own weight gain in the mirror. (Probably because of said vanity.)
Pictures, on the other hand…whoa. Because I spend most of my camera time behind the lens, I’m not in a lot of pictures. Except selfies, and who can take a full-body selfie?! So when I saw a few photos of me from a social media conference I went to in late June, I was floored.
How did I get that big? When did that happen?
Between the yoga nidra intention and the conference photo evidence, there was a perfect storm of much-needed change brewing.
And then the trifecta moment happened.
My friend Danielle, who I’ve mentioned before in Arbonne review posts (like this one and this one) because she’s my Arbonne pimp, asked if I would participate in and write about the Arbonne 30-day Clean Eating program, also known as the Arbonne Transformation Challenge.
The timing was perfect. And I went into it with a different kind of attitude than I have with any other cleanse or healthy-living program I’ve done in the past (like the Wild Rose D-Tox — which I highly recommend). I knew I needed a total lifestyle change. And not just for me, but as my kids’ role model. And because I didn’t want to let my friend down since she was so generously giving me the starter pack of products.
So it began.
Here’s what you need to know: there are shakes and herbs and pills and strict food restrictions. There are weekly measurements. But like any cleanse or detox or diet, and you need to really hear this, there’s NO MAGIC FORMULA. You need to be willing to make a complete and consistent change. After all, you didn’t get to this place by doing all the right things. Amirite?
I started this journey on July 6, 2015 and within the first eight weeks, I’d lost a total of seven inches (using measurement differentials from my chest, waist, hips, bicep area and thighs). My clothes were looser and I had bucketloads of energy. I couldn’t run for more than two minutes straight without being so short of breath I needed to walk.
Now in week 13, I’m down 12.25 inches, a full cup AND band size and two full dress sizes. I have muscle definition in my arms and legs again, and my tummy is flattening…slowly — even though it’s doubtful that the mommy pouch will ever go away. (And that’s OK. I am all for plastic surgery if it comes to that.) I can run for 28 minutes straight totaling 4.5km before I need to walk. I am stronger. My posture has improved dramatically, even at rest sitting at my desk or in the car.
Don’t ask me how much weight I’ve lost. The answer is that I don’t know, because I don’t own a scale.
You see, back when I was the fittest of my life to date (as a 24-year-old nanny in the UK who walked everywhere to save money and cared for three busy, young children in a row house with a four-story walk-up), I belonged to a fancy gym — where I worked out beside Sporty Spice herself many times — with digital scales that measured by the decimal point. (That was impressive in the ‘90s.)
I was obsessed. I weighed myself constantly. And even then, I was 150 pounds. Because I just don’t have a tiny frame. I’m somewhere between 5’7” and 5’8”; I have wide shoulders and I wasn’t blessed with a naturally tiny waist. There’s nothing petite about me. Yet for someone “super fit,” 150 pounds may seem like a lot. But I was lean. So I learned that the numbers on the scale really don’t mean anything, and I never owned a scale or weighed myself after that.
Now I’m three months in. Am I done? No. This was not about short-term change to write a post. This has truly become a new way of living and — nearing the three-month mark — I’m sticking with it.
The Arbonne Transformation Challenge was my re-set. My kick-off. It was the event that put the intention I made at Ste. Anne’s that day into motion. And I’m so grateful that the timing was right, because I feel amazing and I’m excited to see if I can best my 24-year-old body.
Now, let’s talk about the pros and cons I experienced with Arbonne’s 30-day challenge.
It’s 30 days, which is the longest commitment I’ve ever made during a cleanse, and I think a huge part of my success. Because it takes 21 days to make a habit, and the longest I’d ever detoxed before was 17 days.
By day seven, I’d lost 1.5 inches off my waist and half an inch off my bicep area. I started integrating exercise in week two; just walking around a track at first, and slowly making way into run/walk intervals and, finally, classes and weight lifting. By day 14, I was down an inch off my bust, two inches off my waist, half an inch off my hips, thighs and bicep. And it continued, week after week. As I mentioned, after three months, I’m down 12.25 inches overall, which came from 2.5 inches off my bust, 3.25 inches off my waist, three inches off my hips, 2.5 inches off my thighs and a full inch off my biceps.
You won’t be hungry. There’s no major deprivation here. You give up: all sugar (including artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners, honey and maple syrup), gluten, soy, peanuts/peanut butter, corn, alcohol (yes, WINE!), coffee (yes, THAT TOO!), vinegar, white potatoes, dairy and most fruits – except lemons, limes, green apples and berries (thank God). I allowed myself a banana mixed in with a protein shake if I worked out really hard (like at least an intense hour). Oh, and any meat, fish or eggs I ate were healthier, too – so grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish and free-run eggs and poultry. That wasn’t so tough because those are usually our choices anyway, but I think it’s important to mention it.
I took one break part-way through because I went on an already-planned trip to San Antonio and I will be damned if wasn’t going to enjoy restaurants on vacation. But to be fair, you can actually eat out during this detox within some very clear parameters. That’s a huge bonus for people who have never done a cleanse or have some social engagements peppered into these 30 days. Other than my little two-night trip, I stayed away from restaurants. They’re too tempting. And I didn’t want to pay for salad.
There are also recipes included to make little snacks, but I chose not to make anything that felt like a treat but wasn’t really a treat. Hello! Chocolate is a treat. Bars made out of Arbonne’s protein powder, nuts, seeds and other things may feel like a treat after a few weeks of an elimination diet, but I am not fooled by the appearance of goodies. But know that if you need them, treat-like options do exist on this program.
Arbonne’s chocolate protein shake? Delish. Smooth and creamy and really chocolate-y, even just by itself mixed with water and shaken in the Arbonne shaker cup. But add it to a blender with some frozen berries and a handful of spinach? Really yummy, and really filling.
Arbonne gives you lots of great shake recipes, too, so you really don’t get bored drinking two of the same things in a day.
And that shaker cup! Amazing. Love it 80 per cent of the time (the other 20 per cent is when the lid pops open because it doesn’t seem to ever close tightly, which Arbonne really needs to fix). It comes with a little wire whisking ball inside, which makes it easy to mix all of the powder in with water or almond milk or whatever liquid you’re using.
When you sign up for the challenge, you’re given access to a Facebook group that provides support specifically for those starting the same day as you. This is very good. It demands your accountability, and this is where you’ll get recipes, reminders, pep talks and have some Q&A.
The Arbonne 30-day clean-eating challenge is basically thought-free weight-loss. You know that two of your meals each day are shakes. So all you really have to think about and prep for is one healthy meal based on your restricted foods. It’s much easier than detoxes where you need to come up with all three meals yourself, because repetition will kill your chances of success. At least I know it kills mine!
Shakes aside, I found the eating plan pretty good. It offers enough variety so you don’t get bored with the available choices and there are enough ingredients to make some interesting, flavourful dishes. It’s pretty standard for any cleanse-like program.
The “extras” are quite good, too: Fit Chews, Full Control (a tummy-filling concoction that will help prevent over-eating if you’re socializing) and the Fizz Sticks – HOW I LOVE THEE! Seriously. I wish I could have Fizz Tab’d water on an IV line. It’s a little jolt of caffeine with a whole lot of flavour. YUM.
The body cleanse component is pretty easy to handle and alongside the herbal tea is easily the most natural part of the program, even if it isn’t the most delightful-tasting beverage you’ll ever have. It’s totally doable. And it does get things moving in the ol’ bowels if your increased vegetable consumption isn’t already doing that for you.
Eliminating so many foods for 30 days means that as you re-introduce them, you can suss out any sensitivities. As it turns out, after four weeks without red meat (I opted to go without), it was hard on my tummy the first couple times I had it. This makes me sad because I LOVE STEAK. But now I have it in smaller portions less often and that not only works well, but is ultimately better for my body anyway.
I love this side-by-side comparison…the pic on the right was taken at the end of July and the pic on the left was taken this past weekend. Same outfit, same mirror, same pose. Maybe YOU can’t see my progress but I sure can. And so can my clothes. Officially down 9 total inches! #arbonnetransformationchallenge #weightloss #fitat40 #health #30DaysOfMe #healthyliving #fit40s #iworkout #cleaneating
At the end of the day, this approach worked for me. The before and after photos, the way my clothes fit and my exercise gains speak for themselves. But – again – this was a total lifestyle change. It wasn’t just about eating (though any health expert will tell you that nutrition is at the top of the list ahead of exercise for maintaining an ideal weight). I also incorporated an intense exercise routine (six days a week for an hour a day made up of intense sprint/speed-walk intervals, power yoga, barre or weight-lifting classes; or my absolute favourite, the HIIT training at Pickering Fit Body Boot Camp or Orangetheory Fitness), which I believe had a (hugely) significant impact on my results. In week 12, I also added two hours of dance classes one night a week (ballet and tap) and this week, I will add one hour of equestrian riding/jumping once a week. So, all said and done, I’m moving toward eight to nine hours a week of proactive physical activity.
The most confusing part of the “no sugar allowed” rule came part-way through my experience when I finally bothered to look at the ingredient list for the protein powders. I was shocked. I was told I couldn’t even have Xyla (a natural sweetener made from birch trees), and yet cane sugar was the second ingredient in the powder. While the explanation was that it was the same amount of sugar as I’d get from a green apple, this didn’t sit well with me. The protein powder I normally use from Garden of Life doesn’t have sugar in it and still tastes good, so I know it can be done.
While we’re talking protein shakes, I found the vanilla shake had a sort of chemical flavour; now, if you’re used to artificial vanilla flavours (or, say, use artificial vanilla extract in your baking), you might not notice this at all. But I could barely stomach it and I still have about half a bag of the stuff left because I just couldn’t drink it anymore.
Overall, the ingredients in shakes are not ideal for someone who is label-savvy and only wants to consume real foods that one can actually pronounce. Both of the Arbonne-branded chocolate and vanilla protein powders are full of unpronounceable ingredients. But if you’re new to the healthy lifestyle game and you’re really just focused at this stage on weight loss using an easy-to-follow program, don’t worry about it. Once you re-set everything, though, and get through your 30-day challenge, I would encourage you to look carefully at the ingredients and head to a health food store to compare labels. (Think about it: if the goal is to eat clean, anything you put in your mouth should essentially come from the earth rather than a factory.)
I didn’t like that I needed to add fibre by way of Arbonne’s maltodextrin powder. If I need the fibre, why not just add it to the powder in the first place? It screams money grab and I hate that. Besides, maltodextrin, while technically “natural,” is not the best way to get your fibre. Eat an apple with the peel on, or grab a tiny handful of tigernuts.
Like most Arbonne products, the cleanse kit (see image, available through ME exclusively at whatever the current price is by the time you read this) is pricey. At regular price, it’s in the $400 range (but do watch for promotions like this one that may offer as much as 40 per cent off). A single bag of protein powder (which lasts one month) is about $70. When you consider alternative protein powders or simply buying organic and eating really clean, this has some warranted sticker shock. I spend $400 on Arbonne’s RE9 skin care line, but that lasts me about four to six months and I have yet to find anything comparable that makes my skin look as good. The same cannot be said for the cleanse kit components. It’s really the full “package” with the Facebook and personal support that round out the positives of this challenge in my opinion, rather than as standalone products.
I’m probably on the impatient side, but I found there was a bit of a lag in the FB group between asking a question and getting an answer. Social media makes my world instant, so an answer that comes two days later seemed LONG.