I Worked Out Like Jennifer Lopez For A Month, And My Body Totally Changed

In the six months between graduating from college and moving to New York City to pursue a career in publishing, I had pretty much nothing to do. So, while chillin’ in my hometown at my parents’ house, I made fitness my job—literally. I became a Spin instructor, worked out twice a day, and ate straight from the produce section of the grocery store.

When I arrived in NYC in 2014, I was feeling healthier than ever. Getting a job only took a few months, but to me, that felt like a lifetime. As I nannied and picked up freelance work to pay the rent, I slowly became depressed. I traded my healthy eating habits for daily takeout. About a year after I had moved to the city, I was back where I started, health-wise.

Even though I’ve been working in the industry of my dreams for years now, I haven’t been able to shake my depression or get back on the Spin bike. I’ve had short bursts of consistent workouts, but it’s never lasted. Working out always seems like a good idea (endorphins make you happy; happy people don’t kill their husbands and all that), but I couldn’t get out of my funk.

Fast-forward to my brother’s fiancée asking me to be a bridesmaid in their wedding. I dipped my toe back into exercising—now that I kind of had a “reason” to?—but I didn’t commit. Lucky for me, a month before their big day, Ngo Okafor, owner of Iconoclast Fitness and personal trainer to *the* Jennifer Lopez, offered to let me try his 28-day fitness and eating plan—which normally retails for $4,000, NBD. Obviously, my first thought was “Hell yes.”

The 28-Day Plan

I worked out at Ngo’s gym five days a week, doing an hour of strength circuit training and a half hour of cardio. Two weeks in, that half hour turned into a full 60 minutes. Then, on the weekends, I did at least an hour of cardio each day.

On an upper-body day, we’d start with a warm-up on the elliptical, then move to strength moves like lat pulldowns, deadlifts, pull-ups, squats, and planks, finishing up with the cardio.

Leg day was equally intense. I’d jump into resistance-band walks to warm up, followed by squats, walking lunges, glute bridges, and some sprints on the fan bike (😫) or the treadmill once a week (😫😫). Like the upper-body day, we’d do a few rounds of that before jumping into cardio.

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split squat, bff edition. ?‍♀️

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split squat, bff edition. ?‍♀️

A post shared by Kimmy Scotti Metzger (@kimmyscotti) on

View this post on Instagram

split squat, bff edition. ?‍♀️

A post shared by Kimmy Scotti Metzger (@kimmyscotti) on

View this post on Instagram

split squat, bff edition. 👯‍♀️

A post shared by Kimmy Scotti Metzger (@kimmyscotti) on

But wait, there’s a meal plan too—and it’s strict. You might remember Jennifer Lopez recently promoting the 10-day challenge, aka totally cutting carbs and sugar from her diet. Welp, Ngo’s plan bans those too…plus more.

My fancy celeb trainer suggested I nix dairy, booze (obviously), legumes, fruit (’cause of the sugar), and starchy veggies (VEGGIES?!).

Because Ngo isn’t a certified nutrition expert, I sought the guidance of registered dietician and health coach Jessica Cording, who’s cautious about this plan. “A very restrictive plan, especially one that limits a particular macronutrient or food group, like carbohydrates, can be difficult to sustain over time,” she says.

I assured Cording the strict menu was only temporary, and she said the plan wasn’t dangerous as long as I ate lots of protein to stay full. Still, she was a little skeptical of Ngo’s carb restrictions. “If somebody’s doing very intense physical activity, I’m very cautious about restricting carbohydrates too much,” Cording says.

FWIW, Ngo only recommends eating this way for the allotted 28 days, after which he suggests loosely following the meal plan and staying aware of what you’re putting into your body. “I wouldn’t tell people not to drink or not to consume any sugar for the rest of their lives,” he says.

How It Actually Went

Week One

Starting off, I felt pretty good. I was working out with Ngo and his fellow trainer Sean Webb, who would chat with me about our favorite Sci-Fi shows (I highly recommended Deadly Class) during my 10-minute warm-ups. They learned the best way to distract me from a really hard workout was to get me talking about TV. At first, I felt good, but couldn’t do any push-ups and running on a treadmill felt impossible.

But then, Brooke Shields (yes, the Brooke Shields), who was also working out at Iconoclast, stopped me mid-run to tell me how much she loved the elephant tattoo on my wrist. I felt like I could do pretty much anything after that.

Week Two

Everything hurt. Like, seriously, lifting my legs to get out of bed and make it to my 7 a.m. workout felt impossible. Upside? My form was really improving. My squats got lower, and I went from not being able to do a side-plank (not even on one knee) to holding one for a full minute, no problem.

Halfway Point

Emily Tannenbaum

Week Three

This marked the beginning of my obsession with my butt. I could NOT stop telling my roommate about it. It was higher, tighter, and looked like my favorite fruit emoji. Those daily squats were def doing their job.

Week Four

All of a sudden, I became a runner (kinda)! When Sean brought me onto the treadmill during week four—only my fourth time since starting this experiment—I actually ran without holding onto the side rails for three full minutes. Three weeks ago, I could only run for one minute before lowering the speed to basically nothing. This felt more amazing than seeing any number on a scale and made me feel like the entire process was worth it. There is nothing like feeling strong.

The Aftermath

After my final workout, I took a quick shower before hopping on a plane for a week of wedding festivities. I felt freer and less self-conscious than I had in a long time.

At the wedding, I had a blast partying till 3 a.m. with my brother and new sister-in law. It may have been the Champagne, but I like to think my record-high energy levels were a result of this new lifestyle.

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Yesterday, my favorite person in the entire world married his soulmate. Dre, I am so proud to call you my sister. Thank you so much for making me a part of your big day 👰🏻💕 Dan, flowers may not do well in the snow, but they thrive in sunlight, and that’s what you are to everyone who knows you ☀️ Congratulations, Daniel and Andrea Tannenbaum ❤️ #theroyaltannenbaums

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The real victory was psychological. During the 28 days, my closest friends and family told me I seemed happier and more talkative. With each new achievement, like an additional push-up or upgrading from a 10-pound dumbbell to 15-pounders, I felt more excited to keep up the hard work.

Fun fact: During this process, I saved literally hundreds of dollars on food because, uh, takeout is expensive. My daily spending on breakfast, lunch, and dinner went from roughly $50 a day (damn you, delivery fees) to around $15. Honestly, my wallet has never been happier.

My New Game Plan

So far, I’m loosely sticking to the eating and exercise plan, and it’s more for my well-being than for any particular weight. But let’s be real: Maintaining a grueling seven-day-a-week workout schedule is not sustainable. Even Ngo said I could cut my sweat sessions down to three days a week after the plan ended if I wanted to.

I got myself a handy-dandy new gym membership and have totally retained what Ngo and Sean taught me. But instead of working out every day, I circuit train three days a week and Spin twice.

I’m an extremely social person, so maintaining a relationship with my trainer was very motivating. It also kept me accountable because I couldn’t just skip a workout with someone who was waiting for me to show up.

It’s hard to recreate that accountability, but lately I’ve been calling my mom before or after a workout so someone knows I’m on top of it.

Emily Tannenbaum

When it comes to food and dranks, I added cheese and fruit back into the fray and drink about once a week. I’m eating legumes too, I guess, but I didn’t really miss those much.

Although my brother’s wedding inspired me to spark up my former healthy habits, it ended up being the jump-start I needed to get back to the happiest version of myself—which, yes, includes eating cheese.

From: Cosmopolitan US

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