Stephanie Nuzzo was inspired when actress Hilary Duff shared her iso fitness regimen – and when she tried it herself, the flexibility and structured routine left her feeling better than ever.
I don’t know about you guys, but 2020 has thrown a wrench into my fitness plans. Back in February, I was feeling great. I was training regularly; building strength—all that jazz.
Then COVID happened, and my gym days stopped. While I recognise that a dip in fitness is nothing compared to the tragic circumstances people are living through right now, it was a part of my life that changed. And finding an alternative regime that gives me the same mental and physical satisfaction has been tricky.
For context, I was living in New York when corona kicked off. As a result, I was stuck in my apartment for four months. Space was limited, and there was nary a dumbbell to be found. Considering the world was on fire, I let go of fitness goals and began working out in a more laid-back fashion.
Fast forward a few months, I was back in Australia when I noticed an interesting Instagram post. Hilary Duff had shared a photo of her rig, commemorating the progress she’d made on her fitness journey in iso. She looked lean as ever.
Now, I’ve attempted to follow Duff’s health plan in the past, and it was a positive experience for me. So, when I saw she had found an at-home program that was maintaining her fitness, I was intrigued. Could I do the same? I wanted to find out.
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What did it involve?
In her post, Duff credited her success to two things: counting her macros and training with Novo Body Fitness. I gave both a whirl for a week.
First, I consulted the team at Novo Body for some insight into the workouts Duff was doing at home. They were kind enough to share a few workout videos with me and explained that Duff completed their strength-training sessions four to five times a week.
I then reached out to Dietitian Nicola Moore of Lifeshape about counting my macros. If you’re new to this term, allow me to offer a quick intro. Macros, or macronutrients, include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This style of eating involves counting how many grams you consume of each food group. The amounts depend on you and your goals.
When I last mirrored Duff’s health routine, Moore advised I eat five times a day. She gave me meal examples to work from and suggested I eat five cups of veggies daily with smaller servings of meat, dairy and grains. Nothing was off-limits, however, I just needed to balance what I was eating to keep my number of macros the same.
This time, I asked if I should shift my diet to account for our more sedentary reality (#covidlife). Moore recommended the same plan but said I should move regularly while working from home, and that it would be best to set structured meal breaks.
How did I go?
I hadn’t touched a dumbbell in five months, so my first attempt left me feeling like a baby deer. While I found the workouts exhilarating, I had to make allowances for the fact that I’d lost strength.
This, according to Louise Hazel – Olympian, Fitness Expert and owner of Slay Gym in L.A – is something we need to pay attention to at the moment.
“In our haste to get back to training again, sometimes we overlook a number of things. Where strength training is concerned, the most important thing is foundation. You have to start thinking about your body as if you are building a house. If you try and stack bricks on sand, then the foundation caves in and that’s where injury occurs,” she explained to me.
“I’ve seen it so many times, people taking on strength training programs that they’ve seen from celebrities, or been given from influencers, and they’re quite simply not yet prepared for them.”
She recommended, “starting off at a beginner level, whether you’ve been training for a long time or not.”
I adapted the routines to avoid overextending
With that considered, I made sure not to overextend myself with the weight I was lifting. I worked hard but was able to complete five workouts without cursing myself for signing up to this experiment.
When it comes to food, I mostly felt comfortable with my plan. I usually stuck to the meals that Moore gave me, however, because measuring an item to swap it out for another felt too time-consuming.
Then there was the fact that I somehow forgot I’d agreed to do this diet over my birthday. Attempting to count the macros in cake and making allowances for that was near impossible for me. It’s safe to say I failed at least once. Sorry, Hilary!
What were the results?
This might be the best thing I’ve done for my health since quarantine kicked off.
I was able to approach my diet and fitness with a consistency that I’d lost for months. It became easier to make healthier choices, but I didn’t cut anything out of my diet, so I wasn’t longing for a cheat meal.
Getting up in the mornings became easier, and my energy levels lasted throughout the day. I even started looking forward to my workouts (what?). Lastly, I saw changes in my body, too. I lost about a kilo, I felt less bloated, and my clothes fit better. Most importantly, the program worked for my body and didn’t leave me wanting to punch a wall.
In a year like this one especially, the ultimate goal is finding a routine that leaves you feeling great. If you end up with a bod like Duff, that’s a brilliant bonus, but nothing quite compares to a positive headspace, a strong body… and the occasional slice of birthday cake.