For everyone who thinks 22 days of veganism will get you bodied like Beyoncé (or think that I think it will), think again—or so says my scale, which this morning registered approximately a pound of weight loss after a week of loosely following the 22 Days Nutrition plan. While those results are far from impressive (or particularly incentivizing), they’re not upsetting, either; especially when considering that “loosely” part. I hate to disappoint you, but no one’s getting Bey-like results unless you a) train the way Beyoncé does, and b) follow the plan to the letter—including strict portion sizes. Plus, by Marco Borges’ own account (you know, Bey’s trainer and creator of the 22 Days Nutrition program), it actually took the Queen 44 days—not 22—to get Coachella-ready.
So, why is 22 days the magic number?
“The name (22 Days) was inspired by the idea that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. I use that principle to help others adopt a healthy habit, and on the 22nd day, they’ve found the way!” writes Borges on the plan’s site.
But if I’m not going to lose weight any faster than I could following pretty much any other regulated plan, why bother? And on that note, if I’m not going to follow the plan to the letter, what’s the point of doing it at all?
I can only speak for myself, but after years of counting calories, points, and hours of the day I can eat and not eat, I was curious—and tired. Two of the biggest selling points of Borges’ program is that it’s better for the environment and promises increased energy; something that has been in very short supply the past two years of my life. And since we know that lasting change is a marathon and not a sprint, I have to approach it in a way that makes sense for my over-scheduled life; meaning going as plant-based as possible, but with veganism as the overall priority, which means a few ready-made options have to be on hand (and we’ll get into the distinction between vegan and plant-based soon).
“One of our goals at 22 Days Nutrition is to get you out of the mindset of calorie counting and into the mindset of ‘what is healthy for me?’” Borges’ site boasts. “If your focus is on eating clean plant-based meals, you will notice that you feel satisfied and nourished after your meals, and your health will likely follow. Our goal is to provide meal recommendations that leave you feeling alive!”
Alive enough to regularly get my ass back in the gym is the hope because that’s what I’ll likely need to get back to my fighting weight, though as Borges writes in a blog post about eating vs. exercise:
Sure, we should eat healthier, and exercise—and in an ideal world that is what we would do. But our days are busy and filled with work and home obligations, not to mention wanting to spend time enjoying the nicer things in life. So, if you are intent on getting healthy, you may have to choose whether you want to focus on food or fitness. According to research, start with food first. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people have the best results by eating healthier rather than with exercise alone.
The key to embracing weight loss through diet, or exercise, or both, is to start small and try to be consistent. Overhauling your entire lifestyle, while feeling cathartic in the short run, is simply not maintainable in the long run for most people.
So while after a week on the program I may not be much thinner, by that metric, I have to admit I’m doing pretty well and feeling pretty...great. Buoyant, even. And while those of you who’ve been following along might credit that buoyancy to an upswing in my personal life, I have to admit there’s something calming and deeply satisfying about this whole guilt-free eating thing. I feel—dare I say it—wholesome. (And I even got some exercise in this first week, so...progress?)
In short, since my goal is not a quick fix, I’m going to try not to lean into my usual neuroses by obsessing over the scale, and instead try to focus on how I’m feeling over these remaining two weeks—easier said than done for a Type A like myself. Whether or not I stay strictly vegan, if this experience gives me the jumpstart I need to keep going, it’ll be worth giving up my beloved charcuterie plates—so wish me luck?