Food & Fitness

The HITT Diet Plan

Check out my other blog posts about my eight-week HITT program at Aspire Fitness:

Week One: HITT and the City

Week Two: Tracking food and exercise online with Aspire Fitness

Week Three: Looking for the ultimate workout

The Best Exercise This Week

Since my Week Two blog post about HITT, in which my favourite exercise was doing lateral and front raises on the BOSU, my newest favourite exercise has been single-arm overhead triceps extensions while lying down. I like that burn in my triceps. We’ve also had more fun with planks on stability balls, bicep curls to shoulder presses on the BOSU, and bench presses.

The Toughest Exercise This Week

But it hasn’t all be sunshine and rainbows and love-of-the-fitness around here. A couple exercises I really struggled with. The one that I found the most challenging this past week was box hops. This exercise is when you have an 18-inch-high box in front of you, and you have to jump up onto it with both feet, then jump off again. You do this for 90 seconds straight.

Eighteen inches is really freakin’ high. Especially if you’re 5 feet tall with heels (which I am obviously not wearing when I’m doing box hops). Do the math – I’ve got to jump high to land on that box! It’s really tough, especially because you have to focus so as to properly land on it and not trip or miss the box. And when you’re doing this at 6am, it’s very easy to miss the box (no injuries yet, though!).

A couple other exercises that were especially challenging for me were three-point lunges and split squats with dumbbells. I’ve always thought that I had strong legs, and I love doing wall sits and a variety of squats, but I detest lunges and leg presses for some reason.

The HITT Diet Plan

I am still tracking my food intake and exercise every day on the Aspire Fitness online training program (you can check out what I’m eating and what I’m doing for exercise by going to my Health Writer Eats blog). In the HITT class, we were given a nutrition plan which emphasizes eating a high-protein, low-calorie diet. I’m supposed to eat 1,200 calories on non-workout days and 1,400 calories on workout days, although my trainer explained that the numbers are that low because people almost always go over.

Personal Struggles

Unfortunately I’m finding the nutrition aspect of it all really difficult to stick with. I’ve been having a tough time getting into the proper mindset, and it’s been all too easy to over-indulge or to override my own attempts to stick to a low-calorie way of eating.

The result of this is that I seem to have gained a pound or two. This whole weight-loss thing is not going nearly as well as I had hoped! I think part of the problem is that I was over-estimating how many calories I burn. It’s such a finicky thing to figure that out. Consuming even 1,600 calories in a day can leave me feeling hungry, but I know that if I want to see any changes I’m going to have to go at least a little bit lower (and not eat over 2,000 calories, which I have been doing too often).

Have any advice or words of comfort? I could use any support I can get!

Aspire Fitness Online Nutrition Program: Nutrient Intake

But the online nutrition program itself is really great. Something I really like about it is being able to see my calcium and sodium intake. My fibre intake is through the roof, as I knew it would be (somehow I easily manage to consume 40 grams of fibre a day. Without trying. One day I was up to 65. Should I be concerned about fibre overload?!), but I was shocked to see that I ought to be paying more attention to my sodium intake; it has been right around the upper limit on most days.

I think that part of the high sodium levels is because I was eating things like homemade soup but I just used whatever “canned soup” was already in the database for recording it, which had lots of added salt (mine has none – I even rinse my canned beans so as to get rid of excess sodium). But the other part of the high sodium level is that even when we eat nutritiously, we still probably consume more of it than we think. Something to keep in mind.

My nutrient breakdown from September 7th to present; graph from the Aspire Fitness online program

The biggest shock, however, was the protein. Without trying, I easily consume enough protein to make up 20% of my macronutrients (the macronutrients are carbs, fats, and proteins – I usually get about 20% protein, 65% carbs, and 15% fats). This is primarily from cheese, PB2 (powdered peanut butter), almonds, beans, and a small piece of meat or an egg or 1/2 scoop of protein powder. I had thought that my protein intake was lower than that. It’s good to know I’m getting enough protein. I could increase it a little bit more, but I don’t think I’d want to increase it much more than 30% of my total intake – it’s not necessary, and the idea of ketosis scares me πŸ™‚ If anything should be changed, I perhaps ought to increase to 20% fats and decrease to 60% carbs.

It’s great to see what I need to work on more, like calcium. I’ve started adding 1/3 scoop or 1/2 scoop of calcium magnesium powder to soups and teas and oatmeal in order to get a little bit more calcium in my diet. Osteoporosis freaks me out*, so I like to make sure I hit a good target for calcium.

Do you like knowing exactly how many nutrients you’re getting? Are there any nutrients in particular that you pay attention to and why? Do you have any idea what your ratio of macronutrients is (and is it something you would be interested in knowing)? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

*Yes there are some health concerns which kind of terrify me, though not as much as they did when I had mild orthorexia. Nowadays I’m just consciousΒ of (rather than obsessed with) getting the right balance of nutrients so as to prevent health problems.


  1. fd

    Sagan, sounds like a tough program! If you’re doing exercises that are that challenging, but you’re putting on a pound or two, I would switch to measuring yourself (hips, waist, thighs…) to see progress. I find it hard to believe you wouldn’t be getting trimmer in those areas with that program. I frequently see no results at all on the scale when I get into this kind of program but I see the results immediately with a tape measure. The weightloss usually comes a bit later for me. As for proportions and numbers etc, I can not stand numbers so the only reason I ever count or log these things is to see if I’m getting either enough fibre or enough protein. Usually the answers are yes and no respectively.

  2. Emerge fit

    Nutrients shmutrietns, I’m here to talk about box jumps — my favorite exercise and the cornerstone of my high intensity workouts! LOVE THESE! In fact, this has inspired me to do a video post on them, and their utility next week. You heard it here first!

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Yeah, you WOULD love those πŸ™‚

      This morning we did an awesome exercise – holding a medicine ball, balancing on one leg, and doing a deadlift and then bringing the medicine ball to the side before straightening to work the legs and core. I think it’s taken first place as my favourite exercise now!

      And it had me thinking… can it be done while balancing on a BOSU??

  3. JavaChick

    I used to obsess about nutrient breakdowns, but now I don’t pay much attention. I may not eat a perfect diet, but I think I’m pretty balanced most of the time. I’m letting it go at that because I don’t anything extra to stress about. πŸ™‚

    I do think it is a good exercise though, it can be eye opening for sure.

  4. deb roby


    I’m amazed that you are getting all that fiber and not feeling sated enough- unless you’re eating for more than hunger reasons.

    I would definitely cut back on the carbs and my personal inclination would be to up both protein and fat. First, it’s not that easy to go into ketosis.. you would have to eliminate almost all your carbs except perhaps one salad a day. Much of your protein is coming from high fat sources (nuts and cheese) so this should not be hard to do.

    When cutting your carbs, simply decrease the amount of processed grain (flour) you consume. Concentrate on getting your carbs primarily from veggies and fruit and use the grain the same way you do meat/eggs – more as a side dish instead of the main focus of a meal. The ONLY except of this would be breakfast after your workout. That meal could be cereal based as long you take in enough protein to heal along with the cereal. Oatmeal with a full scoop of protein powder would be ideal.

    Personally, I aim for a 40 protein/30 carbs/ 30 fat in my diet. But I’m post-menopausal and grains do nothing good for we post-meno women.

    I hate box jumps too. And since I can’t risk falling for the next 6 months (just had shoulder surgery) I have an excuse not to do them. But they are a great exercise. I’m substituting ladder drills to work on agility instead.

    My favorite exercises:
    -skull crushers (think your 1 arm extensions with a 20#bar or DB).
    -leg press
    -DB chest press with feet up in the air.
    -Turkish Get-Ups A full body strength, cardio, core and balance workout in one exercise.
    -A variety of heavy carries- plate weights over head, held out in front or to the side, suitcase carries, etc.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      For sure some of the reason why I’ve been eating higher amounts of food has been stress or because of social situations – but the thing is that I haven’t felt stuffed or over-full. I guess the fibre doesn’t make me feel uber full because I’ve been eating loads of fibre for a long time? Or maybe there’s something not quite right with my thyroid or something. Should probably get that checked out.

      Thanks for the input on nutrition! I really appreciate your advice.

      Those skull crushers sound intense, as do the other exercises! Wow. And ladder drills for agility ROCK.

  5. westwood

    Sure you aren’t gaining muscle?

    Alsowhen I used to track all that stuff in detail… honestly… I hated it. The tracking, that is. It made me obsessive and actually hindered my goals. I find nwo that what works is working out in some form every day (with one day off a week) and eating intuitively. And boy is it ever working!

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Maybe a little bit of muscle. Wish I could get rid of that fat though!

      I go back and forth on the tracking. Sometimes I love it, other times it drives me crazy. I’m back to loving it right now πŸ˜€

      But yeah – exercising daily and eating intuitively is the way to go. I’ve got the exercise down. Now I’ve got to work on that intuitive eating.

  6. Dr. J

    Well, you asked πŸ™‚

    Nothing burns calories like long “slow” cardio. If you are training for a fight, what you are doing is great. If you want to lose weight, you need the real cardio. If you want to play soccer, ride long distance on Harriet, or any other fun thing instead of running, that will also work, but short term high intensity training is not the best way to lose weight.

  7. Jody - Fit at 52

    First, those exercises you described as the tough ones.. YES, they are tough! πŸ™‚ They work though!

    As for the food… I would never survive on 1200-1400 calories a day. I know people do but I can’t do it & I actually work harder so I can eat more otherwise I get like you about wanting to eat. This way I can…

    I do eat more protein than other women due to my weight lifting BUT not to excess.. I am not super high protein plus I drink my water to make sure my kidneys are fin.. I probably get at least 30% protein & sometimes more depending on the workout day. I don’t know the exacts these days as I have been at this so long that I know pretty much what I can & can’t do to lose weight.. although perimenopause throws another loop into the mix! :-O

    We all have different bodies so we all have things that may & may not work.. it is not a one size fits all. I can’t stay lean on 65% carbs.. I could not when I was younger & really can’t now at my age.

    If it were me, I would play around a bit with your percentages & calories to see if something works better for you.

    Good luck & don’t give up!

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