When I decided to live like Meghan Markle for a week, I was in desperate need of an exercise and diet shake up.
I'd quit the gym and insisted I would work out at home, which – surprising no one but me – turned out to be much more difficult than I'd anticipated, and I became lazy. Without the fear of burning money if I didn't use my gym membership, I struggled to make myself get up early for a workout, or do anything fitness-related whatsoever.
Enter: my week of living like Meghan.
Meghan seems to be a bit of an inspiration for many at the moment, and I decided to shamelessly get on the bandwagon. After all, Meghan's always been a passionate health and wellness lover, and deciding to be a don't-know-what-donuts-are health god definitely made me feel fresh and full of motivation.
Here's how it went…
For Meghan to maintain her phenomenal physique, you can bet her workouts consist of a little more than a weekly Zumba class - which is kind of what I was hoping (and ready) for. Much to my dismay, Meghan's exercise of choice has a reputation for being a wee bit difficult.
Megs' favourite workout uses a machine called the Megaformer, and it's supposed to deliver the 'heart-pumping, muscle-quivering, body-lengthening, muscle-strengthening exercises our body desires'.
Participants stand or sit on the Megaformer - which is like a carriage - and requires people to use pulleys, weights and strings to create resistance.
Let's visit some of the Megaformer's reviews, shall we?
Jessica Salter from Grazia says: "I spend the class mentally weighing up if death by Megaformer is preferable to the embarrassment of leaving halfway through."
Nichole Fratangelo from Popsugar said after the class that she was "more sore than I've ever been from a workout. My triceps throbbed and my butt ached in that "hurt so good" kind of way. The soreness lasted about three to four more days."
Despite how great the Megaformer would've surely been, we don't have the machine in NZ just yet so I unapologetically cheated and went with the 'softer' option of reformer pilates.
Much like the Megaformer, reformer pilates involves the use of a carriage equipped with pulleys and strings attached to weights, so, you know, still not a walk in the park.
On the first day of my challenge, I met with Emily Adams at Auckland's Pilates Body Studio to discuss what we'd be doing and how it works out the body.
"In a typical class we take a holistic and full body approach. We aim to lengthen and strengthen all smaller stability muscles (and also larger more superficial muscles) so they are in balance with one another.
"The important postural muscles that we aim to include in all sessions are that of the core musculature, glutes/hip extensors and shoulder girdle stabilisers/spine extensors."
Nervous that I'd make an ass of myself in the intimate class, I asked if you need to be super fit to complete the workout (with dignity and grace in tact.) She assured me everyone can do it.
"Along with the many healing benefits it [reformer pilates] provides, it also facilitates an abundance of physical benefits: including increased flexibility, mobility, strength, co-ordination, stability, toning and even weight loss.
"Pilates enhances breathing patterns and heightens one's awareness of correct alignment and posture and the reformer greatly facilitates this…. so all 'round an amazing transformative machine!"
Okay, okay, I'm sold. I could use a little... everything Emily just said.
The class ended up being great fun - and I normally don't even like exercise that much. I felt like I worked out muscles I didn't even know I had, and I left surprisingly non-sweaty but feeling incredibly strong and 'worked out' - you know the feeling.
However, reformer pilates wasn't the only exercise to make the cut during my week of Meghan-ing.
Meghan has previously expressed her love of running, telling Women's Health: "Running has always been my form of moving meditation, which I relish because it allows me to get out of my head."
Running... eurgh. Let's be frank, not everyone is built for running. Some enjoy weight lifting, others enjoy swimming and others enjoy Netflix marathons. I am the latter.
Yet I persevered - all in the name of intrepid journalism. One morning before work I dragged myself (and my partner - you're welcome honey!) out of bed for a very brisk 10km walk - because a run was simply out of the question. We looked at the sky, chatted for a bit and even managed to walk past our local bakery without buying anything.
After our walk - just like I found post-pilates - I felt incredibly positive and energised. Not only did I have that post-exercise glow (read: profuse sweating), I felt fresh, happy and strong.
Maybe Megs is onto something with this whole 'exercise' thing.
Throughout the rest of the week I also tried a hot pilates class at Rise Studio and regular yoga on my bedroom floor, which quickly turned into a 15 minute lie down - it was great.
So my week was off to a flying start. Exercising again was making me feel alive, full of energy and, well, incredibly sore - but happy.
In terms of my body, I'd never felt so strong, fit and gloriously light.
On the other end of the spectrum, I struggled. Adopting Meghan's eating habits was a bit of an issue.
Not only does Meghan not believe in coffee, having previously told Shape that "going for coffee or things like that only ends up hurting you in the end," she also has been known to practise part-time veganism. Oh goodie.
I started easy on day one: an omelette for breakfast, salad with protein for lunch, veggie pizza for dinner and yoghurt for dessert.
On day two, I had steelcut oats with honey, leftover pizza for lunch and zucchini pasta.
I was feeling very confident at this stage: did someone say health editor? That's me!
Then it came time to follow Meghan's 'part-time veganism'.
The experience wasn't great. Never have I felt so hollow, grumpy and unfulfilled food-wise as I did on this day. As a huge fan of red meat (think of me as a modern day dinosaur), attempting to forgo protein and carbs was an absolute nightmare.
I started the day strong, beginning with a smoothie containing blueberries, a banana, Matakana Organic Sacha Inchi Protein Powder, spinach, almond milk and coconut water. It was delicious, and I stayed satiated until lunch - which is where things got a bit out of hand.
For lunch, I had packed myself a salad; containing only great, healthy, vegan-friendly ingredients - lettuce, tomato, carrots, spinach, onion, the works. But as I tucked into my salad, I noticed my stomach grumbling with hunger... as I was eating.
It was the weirdest sensation: I was technically eating, but I felt as if nothing was actually in stomach. And by the end of my salad, I felt the same as when I started.
Filled with hanger (you know, hunger and anger), I marched angrily to the closest New World for a much-needed second lunch - but what to buy? I decided to try and replicate my usual snack: muesli, berries and Greek yoghurt.
After unsuccessfully searching the supermarket for a vegan yoghurt (okay, I may have been thinking wishfully here...), I found a vegan muesli (it was two dollars extra and considered 'luxury' cereal). I returned to my desk feeling energy-less, deflated and grumpy as anything. There was no almond milk at work (something I'd never noticed before) so I ate my healthy muesli and berries with water. Yes, yes, it was sh-t.
Can we please appreciate that up until this point I'd been functioning normally and (hopefully) non-aggressively without coffee, protein and carbs?
I kept eating the muesli water dish - much like a cow grazing aimlessly in a paddock - and sooked at my computer. I wasn't exactly hungry, but I wasn't exactly full either. There seemed to be a space in my stomach that wouldn't be filled by anything other than pizza.
The worst part of all this? Turns out the muesli was one per cent honey (which is not vegan), so this challenge turned out to be a failure anyway.
I left work that day feeling very fragile and near hungry-tears, which I rate as the next step up from feeling hangry. My boyfriend had lovingly made us a vegan soup at home that night, which was delicious. But he was very evasive when I asked what kind of stock he used in the soup... Beef. It was beef stock.
Despite my spectacular failure at eating vegan, there were some truly amazing meals on the menu at my house during 'Meghan week' and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Think: hearty soup, pizza with veggies, salmon salad and - my favourite! - omelettes galore.
After a week of exercising and eating like Meghan, I have a whole new respect for her.
Living like Meghan - even without the whole royalty/TV star element - is bloody hard.
While I felt absolutely fantastic by the end of the week - so fresh, so light, euphoric even! - I don't know how Megs has the mental strength to stick to such a strict health and fitness plan. Have you ever tried bagels Meghan?
If you'd like to try your hand at eating and exercising like Meghan, we've put together a plan for you below.
Fair warning though, being so ridiculously healthy can result in you falling off the bandwagon spectacularly and doing something you might regret - like consuming eight Original Glazed Krispy Kreme donuts in one day, which is definitely not something this health editor did.
Want to live like Meghan for the week? Here's what you'll need:
Coconut water ($3.5)
Greek yoghurt ($7)
Frozen blueberries ($3.5)
Almond milk ($3.5)
Steelcut oats ($9.3)
Matakana Superfoods Plant-based Superprotein ($59.95)
Matakana Superfoods Organic Chia seeds ($10.6)
Almond butter ($9)
Matakana SuperFood Supergreen Powder ($39.95)
Salad mix ($5)
Sashimi from &Sushi ($22)
Smoked salmon ($10)
Meghan's fitness regime
- Pilates reformer class (casual rate $32 per class at Pilates Body Studio)
- Hot yoga (casual rate $22 per class at Rise Hot Yoga)
- Hip hop pilates (casual rate $22 per class)
- 10km run
TOTAL: $342.05 for the week