On November 7th I started the ‘Brian Keane Top 50’ program. It changed everything I think about food, fitness and most importantly, myself. I could wax lyrical about this program and Brian for pages and pages. With that in mind Im going to outline the plan first and then I’ll fangirl.
Who? Brian Keane is Irish, based in Galway. He is self taught but very knowledgable in the areas of fat loss, muscle building and nutrition. If anything you read here piques your interest in any way, I suggest following him on Snapchat – briank019 This is how I found Brian, and I spent about 6 months following him on Snapchat- where he snaps daily and does about 3-4 Q&As a week, before buying his program.
What? The Top 50 program is comprised of: 4 workout plans. Male beginner/pro & female beginner/pro. You are encouraged to share the plan with your training partner and train together if thats how you train. I started on the female beginner and after 2 weeks, switched up to the pro. Each plan contains 5 sessions: Abs & Cardio, Hamstring & Glutes, Chest & Back, Legs, Shoulders & Arms. Each session contains warm-up, workout and cardio.
Nutritional plan. You are given a sample 1 week meal plan. Brian recommends following this for the first week, and from then, mixing and matching. Weighing your foods and counting macros are useful but long term are a pain in the butt so ideally after a couple of weeks through the nutritional information provided and speaking with Brian, you can weigh ‘by eye’ and have a good idea of how much you’re taking in, without logging. The default nutritional plan includes meat and fish, but I was sent a vegan plan (Im vegetarian, so I just included eggs and butter where necessary).
Twice weekly Q & As via closed Facebook group. I didn’t think I would use this. I thought Id take my plan and be on my way, but these Q&As are really what makes this plan. Every workout, every meal, as I changed my relationship with food and pushed my body in the sessions, I found I had questions, about form, about what type of food to eat when, about what-if-I-did-it-this-way, about why-is-this-making-me-feel-this-way. Brian answers every question and you see the other participants questions and answers too so theres a lot of information in every video.
Main principles. Strength training to build muscle, followed by HIIT cardio to burn fat. Eat every 3 hours to keep blood sugar levels stable. Eat clean.
How much? €177, or your currency equivalent. Payable by Paypal.
Going into the plan I was approx. 11 stone, 7lbs. I had lost 4 stone from Jan 1st-Nov 6th. I was working out regularly and eating clean. However the cracks were beginning to show. I was tracking everything I ate. I was restricting myself to 1400 calories but in reality I was normally only eating about 1250. I was starting to workout everyday because I thought if I didn’t I would gain weight. It wasn’t sustainable.
My main goal before starting the plan was to lose 7lbs. 11 stone was the great finish line. And it seemed without it, it was all a waste. Oh, pre-plan Mary.
To complete the plan I shifted my workouts to the morning before work. This meant getting up at 5:40. Not as horrific as I thought it would be and the gym was nice and quiet. The first week was tough, I was tired all the time. After a couple of weeks the only down side was having to go to bed so early the night before a morning gym session. However I found out quickly that on gym days, while I was dozing on the couch by 9:30pm, I also was much happier and had a lot more energy during the day- go figure.
Week 3 was a breaking point for me. I had been tracking my weight and while initially it had been going down, it had started to creep back up. I spent the week in a panic. I spoke to Brian and he told me in no uncertain terms to ditch the scales. If you are morbidly obese or obese, the scale is a really useful tool. I used it for three years and it was invaluable. However, I’ve gotten to a point where the scales can no longer tell the full story. Im losing inches, gaining muscle, Im happier, Im healthier. The scales had to go. I was anxious initially, as I had relied on it so heavily (no pun intended). However, I haven’t looked back. I rely on photos and my clothes to monitor my progress. For 2017 I am also going to incorporate monthly measuring. If I start to reply on measuring the way I came to rely on the scales, Ill ditch that too.
After week 3, my mindset changed completely. I started to notice the change in my body and the gains I was making. I finished the plan and I have now modified it into a 3 week plan, incorporating more HIIT sessions, which I plan to complete and repeat until mid-April when I go to Australia for two weeks! After Australia? Who knows. Im sure Ill come back and go back to the drawing board. I can pretty much guarantee it will incorporate the plan in some way, which is part of the reason I love it so much! Its so adaptable. Its generally agreed you should change up your workouts every 4-6 weeks for best results, so I plan to keep mixing it up, while retaining the principles of the plan.
Its interesting when I went home for Christmas I ‘let loose’ and ate whatever I wanted and for about 10 days I felt like shit. Anxious, run down, no energy, headachy. When I got back into the gym, the fog lifted and I felt like myself again.
I’ll finish with this. In week 3 when I threw my scales away and my mindset changed and I felt amazing, I let go of my goal of losing 7lbs. This mental breakthrough will be my reward I decided. I’ll work on my tummy, over time it has to go down right? I believed that there had been no change in my tummy since I began. My legs, arms and shoulders were so much more toned. My stubborn area- Brian told me, would be the last to go.
Well. On the last day of the 6 weeks, before my last session, I took a picture of my midriff and compared it to one I took in week 1. I was blown away. Not only by the progress but by the fact that it had been happening and I HADNT NOTICED.
I was proud. I wrote to Brian that same day-
“I took a starting photo of my stubborn tummy area and I took another one today. It’s not the most dramatic transformation on the internet but when I put them side by side I was so incredibly proud. For someone who spent the first 27 years of their life hating their body, that was a good feeling.”
I have a ways to go, but for once in my life Im not counting down to the ending. Im enjoying this journey. I have new fitness goals for 2017. And Im so excited.
Another thing the scales cant measure is how great I know feel. So heres a picture from this morning. 2 months to the day since I started the Top 50 program.