We Put The Healthy Mummy 28 Day Challenge To The Test
- Parents Only
By: Megan Gibson, ellaslist explorer
The Healthy Mummy is a healthy eating and weight loss program for Australian Mums. Actually, it’s way more than that, given the extensive meal plans, exercise programs, weight loss shakes and amazing support groups – it is far more than just a program it’s an entire system and quickly becomes a way of life.
At its core Healthy Mummy is a 28-day long weight loss challenge. When you sign up for a specific challenge you are given access to the program via the web site and an amazing app. Each month the menu changes to a different theme so you never get bored of the meals - and the whole family will enjoy them! For example, November is the ENERGY BOOSTING Challenge, so all the meals are packed with antioxidants and are energy boosting. Not only is it tasty, you're learning lots about health and nutrition too.
I will admit that the whole package can seem rather complex at first. I would recommend setting aside a few solid distraction free hours when you can sit down and digest all the information and start planning your participation.
Firstly, you are encouraged to use the calculator on the site and enter details including your height, age, current weight, goal weight and whether you are breastfeeding. The system then calculates your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and tells you how many calories you should be consuming per day to reach your goal weight (at a healthy rate of 4-6kgs per month).
There is so much information available on the site, the whole process is backed up by excellent information explaining the science behind the program and making sure you are armed with the right knowledge going forward. I also recommend using the app to track your progress using measurements and photos as opposed to the scales.
Each 4-week challenge comes with its own customisable meal plan. You can choose from the standard, vegetarian, and budget/timesaver meal plans (all 1500 calories) or the Higher calories (1800 calories) meal plan.
I found it easier to start my preparations for the coming week by using the website. The meal plans are extensive with so many different options to choose from. I preferred using the budget/timesaver meal plan as it repeated some of the snacks during each week so that I was able to save cooking time. By using the website on a computer, I could download either an overview or the entire menu plan to print out for use in the kitchen.
But the app was the best place for customising your menu for the week. Yes, it does take some time but customising the menu allows you to make sure that the food on your plans is something you (and the other people in your household) will like, and you can make use of products your already have in the pantry. I also liked being able to repeat some of the meals during the week to save time and money.
Swapping meals and snacks out is easy – you simply select the meal and click swap and you can either choose another meal from that week or that challenge, as well as from the recipe hub with meals from the previous 37 rounds. There is no end to the variety of meals you can choose from. It was also simple to update how many serves I needed each meal to feed. This was super helpful when someday I am just feeding me, or any variations of family members. On most recipes you simply toggle the serving amount and the quantities are automatically updated.
I thought the food was brilliant. The suggestions had lots of tastes and flavours with good healthy home cooked meals the focus. They were in my case loved by the rest of the family as well (children aged 2,5 and 7). A favourite for dinner was the Chicken Patties with Tomato Salsa (which made great left-over school lunches as well) and for lunch the pork salad wrap. I also found that having a menu plan with such variety really pulled me out of a cooking rut. Often as busy mums you serve the same rotation of meals. But The Healthy Mummy meal plans gave me all the tools to easily add some variety to our food.
Some of the options are a little less “meat and three veg” that is the old-fashioned staple. I am a fairly adventurous cook and my children are good eaters, but in some cases I was having to buy items that don’t often make it into my trolley, there are lots of different nuts, whole wheat flours, quinoa, lentils and some vegetables I have never heard of. This might be a bit of a challenge for some kids and perhaps even some significant others, but the meals are tasty and filling and I recommend getting the rest of the family on board.
Each day the plan contains three meals and three snacks. The snacks are where The Healthy Mummy Plan really shines. There are different ideas for all tastes – sweet and savoury, hot and cold, baked, and fresh. Not only are there a collection of recipes that come under the paid plans, but other Healthy Mummys submit recipes that are then available online for free which can be added into the plan. I highly recommend you try the healthy Mummy weet-bix slice – but word to the wise, hide it from the kids if you want any left.
I did find however that if I prepared the 3 different snacks suggested for each day, by 7 days a week I would just be exhausted. So, I used the app to swap out the recipes, so I could make one batch of cooking a few different items last me the whole week. It took me just over an hour to whip up three recipes from the 28-day challenge for my snacks. I made Chewy Apricot Muesli Bars, Ginger Nut Balls and Chocolate Almond Slice. All three were made from ingredients already in my pantry with only one substitution.
I found that having a set snack as part of my program really helped overcome the mid-afternoon and late-night munchies. I knew that I had a delicious treat coming my way and that was enough to get me past any cravings. Plus, I have always found portion control a challenge so cooking a very specific recipe and having it say, ‘Cut into 4 slices, 1 slices is one portion” really helped me, especially knowing that those extra pieces were earmarked for my snacks the following day.
Once you have all your meals for the week planned you click over to the shopping list and all the items you need to buy are listed by category. Before I left the house, I would go through and cross off (a simple click) all the items I already had and then I was ready to go. My first shop was a little more expensive than usual as I started to build up a pantry of healthy options. But after that first week my shopping trips balanced out. Plus, with such a great meal plan and shopping list I was coming home with only the things I needed and nothing more.
In addition to the meal plans you can also purchase The Healthy Mummy smoothies. These smoothie tubs are available online or from local consultants and include flavours such as coffee, choc orange and caramel as well as vanilla and chocolate. The Healthy Mummy team have also launched Drinking Chocolate, kid’s smoothies, a super greens mix and protein powder. The idea is that you can replace 1-2 meals in your plan each day with a smoothie to really boost your chance of success – in addition the smoothies are such a quick and easy option on busy days.
To make a shake, you simply add your portion of The Healthy Mummy powder to milk or water and shake or blend until smooth. The Healthy Mummy recipe hub has an entire section dedicated to smoothies - there are so many variations and suggestions. I personally found that using half milk and half ice cold sparkling water with a touch of frozen bananas or berries was a great option for me. Other additional flavours I tried adding were oats, cucumbers, spinach leaves, nuts and chia. There is a smoothie for every taste– spring clean, banana latte, antioxidant, wake up… the list is endless.
Once again, I was helped immensely by the portion control element of the smoothies. In the first 2 weeks I replaced 2 meals with smoothies and after that I dropped down to one smoothie a day. Yes, there are some recipes that I didn’t like as much as others and sometimes it was just some powder and cold milk in a shaker and down the hatch to fill me up as I rushed off for the day.
I had read in the support groups that some people weren’t fans of the texture of the smoothie powder, but I quite liked the taste. I do recommend using a blender as opposed to the shaker and some ice or frozen fruit for the best taste. The smoothies really filled me up and gave me great energy through the day.
The Exercise Program
One of the elements of The Healthy Mummy program that I really loved was the built-in exercise program. It was simple enough to synchronize my Fitbit with the app to track steps during the day. But in addition, each day you are encouraged to participate in some form of exercise to get you up and moving.
You start out with a fitness test on day 1, which is then repeated on day 14 and 28 to track your progression. This is simply recording how many push ups, squats and burpees you can do in 60 seconds and then how long you can hold a plank. Each day you are offered a new 30 minute workout alternating between high intensity interval training, lower body training, core, Pilates, dance and Mind.Body.Breath.
Each exercise program has detailed videos and information on the app. I particularly loved the HIIT training which came complete with start stop buttons and a place to record how many reps you managed each set. The Dancefit workouts come in easily accessible chunks and the kids loved working through those videos with me, plus grooving around really didn’t feel like a workout.
I also really enjoyed the Mind.Body.Breath relaxation videos. They are guided mediations and available in either 3, 5 or 10 minutes which in today’s busy world offered a great escape. Given that all the information is on your phone it was easy to do these exercises anywhere, the backyard early in the morning, on a trip to the park or in the loungeroom after the kids were in bed.
The fabulous thing about these workouts is that you don’t require any fancy equipment and there are modifications available for each and every exercise. As with the recipes, if the workout for one day doesn’t suit you, there are videos and instructions from all the workouts available for you to search and try.
Online Support Groups
The final arm of the Healthy Mummy program is the amazing online support groups. This Facebook based group is the place to go for inspiration. I really loved reading stories from other women on what they found was working for them with various recipes and of course seeing the stunning transformations as women take control of their health. But more than anything it was the support and encouragement offered to all women, wherever they were on their health journey.
The Healthy mummy is more than a program, it really is a lifestyle. It does take some determination to fit it all in to any already busy life. Make sure that you can take the time to commit to making it work. I really enjoyed having access to the entire program on my phone. Exercise and recipes were at my fingertips and I was always ready to go.
My healthy mummy challenge was a great way to get me refocused on my health. I had previously lost 40kg but needed to get back in control of my eating and exercise. Due to a very hectic month I couldn’t commit entirely to the program during the challenge and still lost nearly 3kg! I would highly recommend The Healthy Mummy for anyone who is looking to turn around their diet and focus on healthy eating, exercising and weight loss.
To find out more about the Healthy Mummy program and trial the Challenge for $1, take a look here.