Welcome back! We left off with me signing on to the Beachbody family in March of 2013. That was the first major event that comes to mind when I reflect back on the last year of my life. Bring on the Test Groups. A lot of you reading this blog are probably very familiar with Beachbody and their dedication to quality, but if you are not familiar with the company let me just say this, they are EXTREMELY dedicated to putting out the BEST products possible. When a new concept is introduced it needs to be tested to make sure it works. This is part of the development process. After selling my company to BB we decided we would add workouts to the portion control program. A few minor tweaks were made to the portion control side of things and then I went into writing the workouts. Several drafts were written, ok seriously I think I wrote 5 or 6 different versions before we settled on the final workout program. It was very important to get the workout program and the nutrition program to match up AND be effective. Once we felt like we had our program down it was time to test it.

We began casting at the end of March. I will let you in on this little tidbit about me, I want to help EVERYONE! The casting process was hard on me at times because we could only take so many people into the group and for me it was hard to turn people down. But we had a job to do, we needed to test the product with a wide range of ages and fitness levels. We interviewed people from both ends of the spectrum some having only 5-10 pounds to lose and others having well over 100lbs to lose. During the process two people tugged at my heart in a way that I just could not say no. I was by no means the only one making the decisions, but these two people were going to be in my test group no matter what! At least that is how I felt. The first person was Deon. A 28 year old who weighed almost 400lbs and was getting ready to do Gastric bypass surgery. He said this program was his last hope to lose weight or he would have the surgery. I sat behind the casting table with tears running down my face wondering how a 28 year old man could feel so hopeless that he was ready to undergo a life-threatening surgery to achieve weightloss. It blew my mind because I KNOW a healthy weight is possible for anyone if they can learn to eat right and exercise. The reality is that so many people are lost when it comes to what healthy eating looks like. A mostly simple concept has been over-complicated and lost in an ocean of conflicting information and empty promises. Thats why we set out to explain nutrition in the most simple form possible with 21 Day Fix. Back to Deon, he was selected to be a member of the test group, we will come back to him at the end of this blog. Next was Anna, a young, single mom who weighed in right around 300lbs. Another person who had me in tears behind the casting table as she told her story about verbal and physical abuse from her sons dad. How she wasn’t allowed to go to the gym or where cute jeans and how she just wanted to feel good about herself again. Here was a woman who had the strength to take her child and walk away, to be a single mom and do what was best for herself and her son. Now she needed someone to give her a helping hand to get her health under control. Obviously being a single mom myself I related to her and wanted to be the one to show her she was strong enough to face this challenge and win. Anna was also chosen to be in the test group.

Other participants that rounded out our very first group were Krishna, Keith, Miss Mary, Jamie, Angie, Kevin, Ken and Lance. There were several others as well and each and every one of them has a special place in my heart. But this initial group of 10 was with me from start to finish. There is a special bond there. We saw each other through highs and lows. We celebrated every pound and inch lost, every drop of sweat, every extra rep, every time someone bumped up in weights or hit a new goal. We leaned on each other when we wanted to quit (yes I say WE because even I had days where I wondered how I was going to get through it all) when we got injured, when there was a slip up on food. We stood by each other and I will ALWAYS be there for these kids.

Test groups were supposed to last for 3 rounds so 9 weeks. They ended up going 11 rounds (33 weeks). That is a HUGE commitment from these folks but we wanted to see just how long people would continue to get results and just how good the results would get. The results…each and every one of them showed up and changed their life. Deon lost 111lbs in 10 rounds – the most of anyone in the group and will NOT be getting gastric bypass surgery. Anna lost 100lbs by the end of 11 rounds. She is fierce, has the eye of the tiger and is now leading workouts in her own community. Keeeeithhhhhh!!!! If any of you have tuned in to my live chats on youtube you have seen Keith hosting them. His smile lights up a room. He lost 104lbs in 11 rounds. Krishna… love this girl! Always smiling, always asking questions to figure out how to be better and do better. She lost 107lbs in 11 rounds. Another ones who’s smile lights up the room. Miss Mary…. this woman is AMAZING!!! She was 70 when she started the test group, 71 by the time we finished. She has lost almost 70lbs! On day one she was lifting 2lb weights and could not hold a plank. By the end she was using 10-15s and held an 8 min plank…the longest out of anyone in the class. What?!?! Talk about an inspiration. Jaime, Angie, Ken, Kevin and Lance also all KILLED it and they each lost between 40-70lbs.

I said at the end of my first blog that I was so excited to get the chance to share my passion for health and fitness with the world and maybe, just maybe, get the chance to change someones life. Long before 21 Day Fix was ever available to purchase I got that chance to change lives and it was the BEST experience of MY life. I am thankful every day for my test group participants. I am proud of their hard work and dedication. There were times where it was hard for all of us. At the end of three rounds we thought the program was over, at the end of 6 we thought the same thing and at 9. There were times we all felt like we had achieved plenty, we wanted a break, but we knew it was more important to keep pushing forward. It was important to show just how well 21 Day Fix works and it was important to make sure these people were secure in their new lifestyle so that they could maintain it. Each of them has continued on in their health and fitness journey. They have all had a few slip ups here and there but that is life. When you fall you don’t just lay on the ground admitting defeat. You get up, dust yourself off and get back in the fight. Health is not a destination – it is a journey. Always strive for progress not perfection. Check back next week to see where we go from here.
Your partner in health,
Autumn Calabrese