I am tall and am built like a Soviet gymnast. I’ll never be one of those petite little things I guy can effortlessly lift up and throw over his shoulder. If I were a cheerleader, I’d never be the top of the pyramid—instead I’d be the one sweating, grunting and gritting my teeth holding up some tiny girl over my head. My brother in law used to call me and my sisters the Eastern Bloc Girls, because we are of sturdy Polish stock.

As a result of my stature, when I gain wait it isn’t so obvious. Sure, I lose a bit of definition around my waist, my thighs graze each other when I wear a skirt. My jeans are snug. But overall, it’s not so bad. I am an avid runner, and just kept at the running to keep the obvious signs of weight gain at bay. Running allowed me to be all YOLO with my eating habits.

Then we bought a scale.

Then I stepped on it and about fell off. I was thirty pounds heavier than when I met Todd. There were a few dresses I’d shoved to the back of the closet because I could no longer zip them up. I figured I’d up my mileage on the treadmill and get back into them. And YOLO eating continued.

In June summer was starting to heat up. I pawed through my shorts and tried a few on, hating how the hem fell on the fleshiest part of my Polish stock sturdy thighs. I glared at the dimpled skin, that hadn’t been exposed to the sun all winter long.

Around the same time my friend Allison Albert became a Beachbody coach. Beachbody has dozens of different workout programs on their web site. They’re the ones who developed the Insanity workout, and P90X. I’ve had other friends try them out. But I was a die hard runner. Why the hell would I do some video when I can run anywhere?

When Allie went into business I bought a DVD of 22 Minute Hard Corps, to be supportive of her and her new business venture. Allie had been doing Insanity for as long as I’d known her. I even did it with her once, and it was fun to do with someone else. Her dedication to her workouts brought her defined abs, strong thighs, and badass arms. Who wouldn’t want to look like that, right?

The 22 Minute Hard Corps is a bootcamp style workout that lasts 22 minutes, and then there’s a 10 minute core routine as well. There are 22 minute resistance workouts that you’d use weights, and then there are also 22 minute cardio workouts that have you doing things like jumping jacks, burpees at a rapid pace to get your heart pumping. The schedule calls for six days per week, and one rest day on Sundays.

I started with cardio 1 and core 1 on the first day. I flailed and jumped around with the people on my TV screen. I planted my feet and performed the lunges. By the time I’d gotten my feet planted, the people on TV had already done three. I learned how to do a burpee—in the time it took me to do 1, they did 3. I couldn’t do more than 3-4 burpees at first. (Now I can do 12-15). I slurped my water, toweled off my sweat and kept going. My clothing was soaked through with sweat, like I’d just run 10 miles on the hottest day of the year. The difference was that I was done with it in 32 minutes, and I peeled off my running shorts. You know the ones, that on lanky runners’ legs are supposed to be loose and flapping in the breeze. Due to my YOLO eating habits, they were tight like sausage casings on my thighs. Then I luxuriated under a cold shower stream, and gobbled a handful of ibuprofen.

The next day I was ready for more, I did resistance 1 and core 1 the next day. I wasn’t as sore as I expected. Sure, I felt the fatigue in my muscles. But I didn’t feel incapacitated. I don’t have a chin up bar, and I didn’t find the alternate exercise for that move to be particularly effective, so I swapped in tricep dips to combat that flap of flesh on the back of my arms instead.

I expected I’d do it for a week, and then go back to running. But that didn’t happen. Instead I got completely hooked, borderline obsessed, with 22 Minute Hard Corps. Before I’d go to sleep at night I’d think about the moves I’d do in my workout the next day. Oh, so tomorrow is resistance 2? I’m gonna do burpee presses, squat jumps, tricep dips, those twisty lunge things and the corkscrew lifts. And I couldn’t wait. I talked about it to friends. I would show Todd the moves I did when he got home. “And then, I held the weight here, and squat like this and jump… lookit my ass now! Look. At. It.” By the second week I started to see changes. My jeans fit better, I saw some definition on my oblique muscles, the ones at my waist. I started to see muscle definition on the front of my thighs.

Then we talked about living aboard for the summer. I’d work in Todd’s office more. When would I work out? I fretted. Working from home allows me to work out at lunch. Then I learned that Beachbody has an on demand option. While we were on our sailing vacation last summer, I’d go ashore in the morning and stream 22 Minute Hard Corps from my phone and workout. When I worked out ashore when we were visiting Salem, some lady came and worked out with me.

In June I went to Kohls and bought new shorts. By the middle of July I needed new ones. Smaller ones. And those runners shorts that looked so sausagey on me? The fabric on the legs now flap in the breeze like they do when lanky runner types wear them. And the number on the scale went down. And down. And down. This is my awkward selfie, I will probably sell these shorts on consignment next summer.

BJ Knapp lost 17 lbs with 22 Minute Hard Corps

But exercise isn’t the only way to drop the pounds. Beachbody has nutrition plans and meal replacement shakes as well. Though I admit I didn’t follow those as closely. Nor did I work out 6 days per week every week. As my schedule allowed I did 3-5 days per week. I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on my phone and logged every single bite that crossed my lips. And I continue to log my food to this day. I didn’t drastically change the way I ate, but once I saw how many calories are in buttered toast, which is one of my favorite snacks, I cut down on eating that so much. I swapped for foods that have more bang for the buck in terms of calories. Like, why eat 200 calories of butter, when I can eat 70 calories of laughing cow cheese on my toast instead? I still get something enjoyable and more filling on my toast, and slash the calories.

I am just about to finish my second round of 8 weeks of 22 Minute Hard Corps. Again, I didn’t follow the schedule to the letter, and I’d pepper in a running day once or twice per week to keep up my love for running. And now I’ll pick out another Beachbody workout from the on demand selections and get obsessed with another routine.

I am rather independent with my workout and nutrition goals. But Beachbody has coaches that can help you develop your goals and figure out how to meet them. My friend Allison Albert is a coach. I would get recommendations from her here and there, but you get to decide how involved you’d want your coach to be. If you’re interested in learning more about it, I recommend you reach out to Allison and she’ll help point you in the right direction.

Losing 17 pounds is not easy. I did it by making it fit into my lifestyle, which is really what you have to do to stick with the changes you’re making in your life. This is a picture of me in one of the dresses I pushed to the back of the closet. Now it's in the front of the closet.

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music lost 17 lbs with 22 Minute Hard Corps

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.