My husband just crushed his Air Force fitness (PT) test.
He did so well, in fact, he does not need to retake the test for an entire year rather than the standard six-month requirement. He also recorded the lowest weight on his test since he was a cadet at the Air Force Academy. TWENTY years ago.
I’d love to give him all of the credit for his hard work and discipline. Truly I would. However, I am going to give myself a hearty pat on the back for discovering Stronger U, a nutrition program that allowed my husband and I to live and eat in a reasonable and healthy way leading up to his PT test and beyond.
My husband is not one of the rare unicorns who maintains his weight and fitness standards throughout the year. We are just regular old ponies in my house. Because of this unfortunate fact, preparing for his fitness test does not consist of majestically prancing around our grounds, but rather eating nothing but carrots and drinking from troughs of water for the two months leading up to to the test.
It has become a cycle we have repeated every single year for a DECADE. When PT test time rolls around, my husband and I initially vow to “eat better,” knowing full well that neither of us has an actual plan. A month or so passes and no real progress has been made, and it quickly devolves into an emergency situation. My husband reaches the point at which he starves himself to ensure his waist measurement passes muster. Every single year.
I could not endure another season of my husband starving himself and acting like a huweirdo (he gets weird when he’s hungry) for months. We needed a new way forward.
Why Stronger U?
I had been eyeing a Stronger U membership for months before I made the decision to join. I had seen several friends achieve amazing results on the program, but I wanted to ensure that we were investing in a lifestyle change rather than a three month meal plan that would be cast aside until PT test season next year.
Stronger U is an investment.
I am a strong believer that, in an overwhelming majority of cases, you get what you pay for, but I wanted to ensure that this program was going to be realistic and effective for my family. I scoured the internet for ALL of the information. I doggedly pestered every one of the people I personally knew who were members for the nitty gritty.
Despite seeing my friends’ drastic transformations, ultimately, it was learning how great they all felt on the program that made me decide to join SU. They weren’t starving themselves. They weren’t depriving themselves of entire groups of food. They were achieving personal records in their workouts. They were consistently providing their families filling, nutritious meals. They were modeling healthy eating behaviors to their kids.
They weren’t living as, or with, huweirdos.
Simply put, hearing all of that from people I trusted made the decision easy.
How is Stronger U different from a traditional diet?
Stronger U (SU) is a nutrition coaching program based on Structured Flexibility. It is designed to be a sustainable and reasonable way to transform how you eat and the habits you form to ensure you won’t ever have to wade into the revolving door of fad dieting again.
The staff at SU take great care to assign each member with a well-suited personal coach who builds a set of nutritional macronutrient targets, grams of carbs, fat and protein, to shoot for on a daily basis. Each coach works with his or her client individually to ensure that he or she learns how to track food intake, structure the day, and plan for life.
Your coach sets macronutrient targets that you should aim for each day in order to reach your goals. I was paired up with the truly amazing Josette, a Registered Dietician who is a Navy veteran, military spouse and fellow Peloton enthusiast. My husband was matched up with David, a personal trainer and nutritional consultant who is a retired Army Ranger. In addition to being extremely knowledgeable and delightfully personable, our coaches are accessible virtually 24/7.
Our coaches provides us with tips, tricks and support to hit those numbers; however, they don’t give us a list of foods we cannot eat, and they certainly don’t put us on a temporary meal plan. The SU program teaches you to fish.
In addition to your coach, SU emphasizes engagement with the extensive online community of over 16,000 members. They are an invaluable resource for encouragement, feedback and meal ideas. These wonderful people have even taught me how to make a crunch wrap out of any meal. For the love of all that is good and holy, this skill has saved me from diving mouth first into a trough of chocolate many times.
Lastly, one of the most difficult aspects of military life is the perpetual loss of community as we move to new duty stations. Because the SU members are connected through Facebook, I know they will be there when we need support, no matter where we are stationed.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
I am going to be real. At first, this program is not easy. Big changes require big changes. Sometimes that isn’t simple or fun.
We had to learn how to balance meals. We had to commit to planning our days in advance. We had to measure everything we ate to ensure we actually stuck to that plan. It took about two weeks to get the hang of the program. But, once we did, and conformed our habits to adhere to our daily plans, it actually became easier than “normal” cooking for us.
I joined SU one week before a trip to my parents’ house. I was very hesitant to join at that point because I thought it would be extremely difficult to adhere to the plan while traveling and enjoying time with friends and family.
I still bebopped around with my people. I ate breakfast and most dinners at home and packed lunches for myself and my girls (which saved us a ton of money, by the way.) We joined family and friends for two birthdays and my husband’s promotion celebration. We ate reasonable amounts of pizza, and cake, and pie and barbecue. With SU, you can eat whatever you want. You just have to plan for it.
Does it work?
In this one post, I simply cannot do justice to the amazing transformations Stronger U members have achieved. I genuinely encourage you to visit their site to see how life-changing this program has been for so many people. I can, however, tell you that in eight weeks, my husband and I have lost over 40 pounds. That’s my 3.5 year old and then some. I can confidently post our Before and After photos. I can attest to the fact I could, indeed, shed the layer of fat I assumed I’d die with now that I am kind of old.
I have gained so much from this program. I am exponentially healthier than when I started. The most valuable aspect has been taking authority over food and cooking, which has alleviated a multitude of stress for us.
Control over anything in military life is a rare and precious commodity, especially something as significant as food.
Full disclosure, this is a sponsored post. I let the Stronger U team know that I would be writing an honest assessment of my experience with the program. Without hesitation they offered to provide coaches to my husband and I at no cost and invest in a post because they were unequivocally confident in the efficacy and value of their program. Because we’ve achieved results we never have in the past, and because I truly believe in the structure of this program, I will be renewing my membership in Stronger U at the end of my 12 week session at my own cost. My goals on SU are constantly evolving. I plan to run my first half marathon in the fall, and I feel like nutrition is a vital component for my success.
This program is an investment. It is an investment in change, in wellness, and in yourself and your family. My family is worth it and so is yours.
Summer, PCS season and a new beginning are right around the corner. To sign up, visit the Stronger U page and enter code MMB in the referral name field for a 10% discount for military members and dependents.
If you have any questions, I am more than happy to chat. Please shoot me an email at [email protected]og.com.