I have a confession to make. I've spent the last month struggling to stay healthy. I've fallen off the wagon, if you will. Blame it on birthdays and Easter, but I've consumed too much wine and too much chocolate.
Funny thing is, I've lost 4.5lbs of fat, gained 3.5lbs of muscle which equates to 3.3% of body fat disappearing from my frame.
How? I worked out for 15 minutes, 16 times over the last month.
I feel like a cheat. A happy, fit cheat.
By now I think we all know that strength training is nothing to be sniffed at.
Adding weights into your workout torches calories more effectively than cardio. This is all due to 'after-burn' the systematic process your body takes that enables you to continue burning calories 48-hours after your workout.
But having an effective workout in 15 minutes? It seems like a bit of a stretch.
It's a programme created by Zana Morris, founder of the members club and gym the Library Gym who I meet in Notting Hill.
She's also possibly the happiest person on Earth, and I'd take that down to all the endorphins running through her body. She looks like she practices what she preaches. And her message is that anybody can achieve the body they want, by following her 15 minute workouts.
Normally, clients come to Zana to fast-track weight loss, but as I sit in my consultation with her, I ask if we can steer away from this and focus on developing strength and fitness. My doubt is unmistakeable when I ask her if I can actually get fit by training just 15 minutes a day.
"Well of course", reads Zana's face as she shoots back a look that displays not a flicker of doubt. "We'll blitz you" are her forewarning words.
The Library Gym workout
I'm set a very straight-forward plan for the next four weeks. The first two weeks I'm to show up five times a week, and the final fortnight involves just three sessions. I don't need to change what I eat, but I could benefit from focusing on protein, says Zana. It all seems too easy. But I guess that's the point.
My workout takes place at a weights station. Some parts look familiar, but otherwise, I need some serious direction. The first two sessions, we focus on getting my technique right. To make strength training effective, you need to do it properly.
By my third session, I'm reeling. We're focusing on my legs and I've come away with thighs like jelly and that joyous 'could vomit right here, right now' sensation. The 'blitz' has begun.
The workouts are split to focus on different areas of your body. The variation means you avoid plateauing. Day one it's shoulders and arms, day two you're on chest and back and day three it's all about your legs and bum.
Each workout, you do three sets of six reps for every station. These are HEAVY weights. They push and pull apart your muscles with every lift.
Gone is the theory that women need to do light weights and high repetitions. If you want to develop strength (and don't be afraid to, I don't look as strong as I feel), then you need to lift more. Heavy weights mean your muscles grow and more muscle means the faster your metabolism works. Light weights don't put enough systematic stress on your body, so you end up going nowhere, fast.
Throughout the month I'm nearly always sore. Nothing too uncomfortable, but it feels like my body is consistently responding and things are changing. Yet, I find myself feeling as though I haven't really 'worked-out' in some time.
By the third week, I begin to really notice how my body is changing. I may not feel the 'detox' that comes with cardio, but I can see my arms and legs have toned up considerably and can feel the increased strength in my body when completing day-to-day tasks. It feels amazing and quite empowering.
And that's the thing.
Strength training redefines your goals once you see results. When you fall off the wagon, you think weight loss is the answer to feeling healthy.
At the end of the month and once I come face-to-face with the results, I feel as though I've seen the light. For what feels like such little input, I've gained great results. Why would I want to be weak and thin, when I can be strong and toned? Why have I been spending an hour in the gym, when I could be done in 15 minutes?
Strong really is the new skinny, and it feels that damn good.