Sweaty Notes: CUT by Natacha Oceane Guide Review

Natacha Oceane has been my #Goals for over a year or so. When I first discovered her vlog on YouTube, I was obsessed. Not only was this woman beautiful and strong but also intelligent, balanced, real and preaching normality among the extremes of health and fitness we are exposed to on our journeys. She has shared her own struggles with eating disorders, competed in the Iron Man, and now focus on non-restrictive eating and not over training. An overarching goal anyone on their fitness journey should be aiming for. Her vlogs are informative and will definitely add value to your journey as it provides knowledge and a good perspective when you are feeling overwhelmed, confused or demotivated. She also delivers her message of balance with charm, grace and chunk of good sense of humor.

She has released two training guides in the last year, MOVE and CUT (which includes a guide on nutrition) and I decided to start with CUT as I really wanted to focus on my eating habits too after coming back from holiday. It also seemed like the easier version out of the 2 guides and in line with the type of training I wanted to get into at this stage of my journey.

Quick Facts About the Guide


Science-based nutritional approach and training combining plyometric, HIIT, and functional workouts to help you lose fat for lasting results no matter how experienced you are. (from her website)

  • Social Media: https://www.instagram.com/natacha.oceane/
  • Guide Link: https://natachaoceane.com/cut-faq
  • Home/Gym: Gym
  • Focus/Style: Plyometric, Callisthenics, Functional & Weight Training
  • Format: Aflete App
  • Weeks: 10
  • Duration of Workouts: 30 to 60min (average); 6 days per week
  • Cost: £41.99
  • Value added features: Nutritional Guidance, in-app videos, which is a game changer and online encouragement
  • Adaptability: Definitely easy to fit in additional running days and yoga sessions with the workout split.
  • Modifications/Progressions: Progression videos are given for each exercise in the app. Modifications if you don’t have the equipment is possible via a quick google search.
  • Value for money: Yes, all in one exercise plan with nutritional guidance and videos
  • Fitness Level: All but would not do this if I have never exercised before

The Sweat Section

Workout Split:

Workout 1: Plyometrics
Workout 2: Upper Body & HIIT (
Workout 3: Lower Body
Workout 4: Rest or Active Recovery – your choice.
Workout 5: Full Body
Workout 6: HIIT

Notes:

  • I combined my the workouts to formulate a full hour workout. At time I combined Plyometrics or HiiT with Lower Body or Full Body. I consider myself to be at an intermediate level of fitness, hence the combination of sessions.
  • I included running between 5km and 10km, 2 to 3 times per week, with a total of about 20km per week.
  • This plan was modified slightly as I worked out in my home gym which has most equipment but not machines. In those cases, I either uses my barbell to do squats or did jumping lunges instead of leg press movements, and I used resistance bands to do exercises like hip abductions and Wide Arm Lat Pull Downs.
  • The guide is hosted in the Aflete app and it had no bugs or crashes while I used it. The timer and weight tracking options within the app is extremely useful. The fact that it shows your stats for the program after each workout can be a great tool for motivation.

Week 1 & 2: I learnt the importance of rest and stretch.

Stretching? Ain’t nobody got time! But let me tell you, it is the ONE thing you need to MAKE time for. This was definitely the first program where I made a conscious effort to include mobility sessions into my weekly workout split. Warm ups and cool down before running, and a longer mobility session either after a workout or on rest days. Even though I would have loved for Natacha to have included this in the app as well, I used the Nike Training Club app to do these recovery sessions. I think yoga would have been a fantastic complement to.

From the get go the workouts were challenging, yet simple enough for any beginner to start on this program. Initially I was scared of the plyometric days as I had a meniscal tear repaired in my knee at the start of the year but this was a good test to see what my healed knee was able to handle. I definitely pushed as hard as I could but was also mindful of stopping if anything hurt. The progression of the exercises in the app was extremely useful for this purpose.

This guide definitely includes exercises I’ve never thought of attempting in my life! Firm favourites include Kneeling Wall Push Aways which is basically wall slams on one knee working the obliques, and Walking Planks aka Alligator Wals – I dare you to check out this YouTube link and try it!

My body also naturally called for more rest during these first few weeks which indicated to me, according to the nutritional guidance, that I needed to up my calories even though at this stage I was eating too little and not enough of the good stuff.

Week 3 to 6: Turn up the HEAT.

This week started rough as I had to put my dog down. I was emotional eating the Monday. I decided to change up my schedule and combine the workouts differently due to the fact that I was on running out of time on certain days.

This was also the first time in a very long time where I struggled to get through a workout, and where I felt “damn, I am not fit enough for this shit”. BUT this just proves that fitness comes in different forms, your body can move in so many different ways and you will always have SOMETHING you can improve on. Holy WALL WALKING!

The exercises I had to modify due to my knees was the Judo Roll Jumps in the Plyometric workouts and of course Box Jumps (I did step ups instead). I also tried weighted jump lunges and squats for the first time in my life, as well as Jumping Weighted Bulgarian Split Squats. Exercises I will learn to love in the coming weeks.

One of the most challenging moves of the week was definitely the Narrow to Spider Planks. I also learnt how to do hamstring curls with my TRX which is a game changer in the glute department. I was also freaked out by Banded Samurai Pulls and Lying Resistance Band Extensions, strange but definitely effective. Check out my Instagram Highlight Reel for videos of me trying these almost insane moves!

Week 7 to 8: Pistol Squat Roll with Jumps, Alternating Pistol Squat Jumps, Lying Ball Tosses and the return of Wall Balls!

The one thing that I noticed especially since starting CUT was the massive improvement in my running pace, I even managed a 12km, hill included. Blame the proper rest days or the great training split, but I was generally feeling so much fitter. There was definitely a noticeable increase in reps and sets in most of the workouts. I was lifting heavier with better form but my biggest progress being 4 unassisted Pull Up and longer Plank Walks.

I also realised how much I love the variety of the workouts and even tho some exercises are repeated from week to week, the way its combined and snuck in to surprise you keeps the workouts fun and interesting. On occasion, I had to modifying some of the HiiT sessions as I do not have a spinning bike or treadmill, but my boxing bag and skipping rope proved to be the perfect replacement.

And the DOMS, oh lord, the DOMS. That’s Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness if you didn’t know. I had minor aches in places I never knew I had muscles, particularly under my arms, close the arm pits, and my hip flexors. Keeping up with my mobility sessions was a priority and I am glad I remained dedicated to these sessions to ensure that my body was getting the stretching it needed.

Week 9 to 10: The Last Stretch

This is when I really started to see my strength, my body feeling fitter than ever and when I smashed through Walking Wall Planks I knew that I had progressed so much. I felt sad that this exercise journey had come to an end but grateful that I’ve learnt about my body’s capabilities, and have gained strength and general overall fitness over the last 10 weeks. There were definitely some exercises I could improve on so I am going to try the CUT guide again in a few months time.

 


The Fuel Section

Initially I only skimmed over the nutritional section of the guide, thinking that I was on the right track with my intuitive eating. Climbing on the scale right after my holidays and starting a new contraceptive saw an increase in kg which of course freaked me out, but I was convinced that I would be able to shed those extras kg with a calorie deficit. But my body wouldn’t allow.

During the first few weeks my attempt to keep a meal diary failed (I didn’t want to track using My Fitness Pal due to past issues) but it was a necessity at this point as I was feeling fatigued most days and was clearly not eating enough to manage this workout style.

So from week 4 I decided to immerse myself in tracking again while being extremely mindful of the mental impact it may potential have on my wellbeing. Tracking can be a huge trigger for Orthorexia and anybody who has struggled with their relationship with food, the nutritional guidance section explicitly warns about this and encourages a logical and science based approached to nutrition, including tracking macros. Logical I could definitely do, I am a number cruncher and problem solver after all.

I tracked for 4 weeks in total, ensuring that I am eating enough (around 1500 to 1700 calories per day) and there were definitely days I struggled to meet that goal whereas on weekend I exceeded the daily calorie count so it all evened out. By reading the guidance sections, it prepared me mentally for tracking and definitely played a role in my consciously calm approach in these 4 weeks.

I could definitely notice the increase in energy and also the increase in quality of sleep funny enough. Restriction can do funny things to your bodily functions, including hormones and the last thing I needed was more hormonal issues after changing my pill recently. The nutritional guide helped me to have a better view of food as fuel and encouraged me to eat better, not less.

The last 2 weeks I stopped tracking simply because I didn’t have the time to weigh and measure everything, and to log it all on top of that. My final exam preseen got released and it was 6 weeks to go. If there’s one thing the nutritional guide preaches is that food should be fuel and shouldn’t consume too much of your time and space, mental space that is. And let’s be honest, tracking does take a lot of effort so it’s important to recognize when it is welcome in your life or when it will just be a burden. For me it meant the latter so it was back to intuitive eating which I managed to do pretty easily seeing that I now actually listened to my body and am more in tune with it.

 


Progress Notes

I definitely noticed my legs becoming more toned and for the first time a bump on my biceps! In general, I don’t focus on physical transformations anymore, instead I see if I can run faster, lift heavier and ensure that my health and fitness journey makes me happy. My pull up strength increase, my running pace got better and my mobility was definitely improved. In saying that, here’s progress pics because I have to satisfy the masses.

My measurements stayed in about the same range but for numbers sake, here they are:

Stats 30-Jul-2018 5-Oct-2018 Change
Weight 53 53 0
Body Fat 16.00% 14.90% -1.10%
BMI 19.5 19.5 0
Waist 60 60 0
Belly 71 70 -1
Boobs 80 85 5 (new pill!)
Butt 92 93 1
Thighs 52 48 -4

 

Conclusion

I absolutely loved the challenging mix of training, the nutritional guidance and the workout structure. It was a refreshing workout plan to other guides out there and definitely one I will be attempting again in 2019, if only to improve on those Judo Roll Pistol Squat Jumps!


Insta Questions answered:

Did you end up increasing/decreasing your calories throughout the program? I increased my calories as I was under eating. Constant fatigue and decreased energy levels in the first few weeks indicated this to me and that’s when I started tracking and got a bit of shock. My calories increased to about 1500 to 1700 per day to maintain my weight.

Did you manage to increase the weights you used or did it remain the same? Because I train at home, I am limited to the amount of weight I have at home but I did manage to do a lot of the advanced body weight movements over the 10 weeks, progressing from hardly being able to do a Wall Plank Walk to being able to do a few metres. My squat weight did improve and I also managed to add weight to jumping lunges, albeit little.

Does she provide info on how to build your own workouts? Yes! She advises on creating your own workout split with the guide, creating your own exercises sets and how to make sure you actually enjoy your training.

Did you find the nutrition aspect of her guide useful? What type of advice is there? The guide is not an eating plan but rather nutritional guidance on sustainable eating habits while using the exercise guide. It gives you a guideline on how to calculate your macro breakdown  and tips on what foods to eat in each group. I found this to be extremely helpful as it identified that I was under eating. Approaching health and fitness holistically as the guide recommends really helped me to be more in tune with my body’s needs.

Do you have to have access to gym equipment? Yes and No. I did the workouts at home because my home setup have a pull up bar, barbell, TRX and other equipment that could easily be used to substitute some of the gym machines required. In terms of HiiT on a treadmill or rower, I ran sprints outside or kickboxed while alternating with skipping. If you have the basics at home like mat, dumbbells and resistance bands, you may struggle to improve on the weight you have to lift so I do recommend doing this guide at the gym.

What level of fitness must you be in, to start the program? The guide is suitable for all levels but personally I feel that if you have never exercised before, or perhaps have a lot of weight to lose, this guide may be a big challenge. The video tutorials do provide progression for most exercise tho.

Is there anything you would change or adjust to the program? Not really. The Workout split is fantastic and the exercise regime within each day is a great combination from a variety of different training styles. I did miss a dedicated “Abs/Core” day plus I added in running because I like to combine training plans with another type of exercise to avoid boredom. It would have been great if she added mobility/recovery video tutorials too.

Have you seen and felt a major difference in your body? To be honest, my body is in a bit of strange cycle at the moment due to me changing my contraceptive pill in the week that I started the guide. So you will notice a major cm increase in my bust! In saying that, I do feel like my body has a more toned look. I feel stronger and I am definitely fitter as I am smashing the PB’s in my running. The nutritional guidance also assisted me in eating more so I feel less tired these days.


PS check out the video review on my IGTV and my journey throughout the 10 weeks on my highlight reel!

 

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