Good Food road-test: Michelle Bridges' 12 Week Body Transformation diet

Sensible and non-faddish ... Michelle Bridges' program.
Sensible and non-faddish ... Michelle Bridges' program. Photo: Marco Del Grande

The premise: What it says on the box: lose weight, tone up, get fit.

The cost: 12WBT costs $199

The result: Oh God, it's week five and I haven't started. I was so there for pre-season: I bought balsamic vinegar to bedazzle my beets, I joined the pool, I looked up scales on the internet, I imagined a more muscled, high-ponytailed version of myself.

Honeyed crumpet in hand, I eagerly watched Mish's pre-season Mindset Videos. They were great! So uplifting! Chockful of tough love and habit-changing tips to break free of those ''salty, fatty frenemies'' and a particularly rousing two-part session about the sinister world of self-sabotage.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ADMIN?! I'd fallen so far behind: diarise training for 12 weeks (are you kidding?! I can barely comprehend tomorrow), clean the pantry, plan my meals, shop, measure myself, weigh myself, assess my fitness, gear up, write down what I ate, track my exercise, print out the meal plans, cook. It felt like a second job.

I made some attempts: My four-year-old and I stretched and bended to Dance Like Nobody's Watching, a choreographed 45-minute workout that was a hoot. I substituted potato (that starchy vegetable devil) with sweet potato, I started eating breakfast (good morning, baked beans), I ate snow peas and carrots as snacks.

But it wasn't enough. In distress, I emailed Mish's super Support Crew and, within 24 hours, as promised, heard back from Dane: ''Even though you haven't yet got started, it's not the end of the world!'' Dane wrote encouragingly. I confided that I'd stopped swimming laps because I wasn't sure how it fitted in with Mish's exercise regimen. ''Of course if you only feel up for swimming, then this is absolutely fine! Doing something is always better than doing nothing!'' said Dane, with practical advice about assessing my level (beginner or Thorpedo?). Basically, swimming for 45 minutes is the go.

Week five, and I've finally started.

Next time, I'm signing up for the No Admin diet. I don't blame Mish - especially after her Mindset Video on the ''blame game'' - and for all my carry on I do wish I'd made more of an effort. I needed to be more psyched. To quote ex-Richmond coach Danny Frawley after a Tigers win: ''Our self belief is unbelievable.'' Mine wasn't. It was in tatters going in, and my admin was up the wazoo. Never mind. Onwards and upwards. 7WBT here I come!

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The pros: Sensible, non-faddish philosophy geared to long-term health. There were no wacky ingredients, just normal food, which was good. And brilliant support, from the crew and Mish's prolific dieting community.

The cons: The admin and exercise are time-consuming. Not buying runners? Mistake. Big mistake. And it turns out carbohydrates dictate my personality. No carbs = cranky shrew wife with no sense of humour.

Dish discovery: Blanching broccoli to toss with smoked trout, a few lentils, celery for crunch, some roughly pummelled almonds for texture, fresh herbs from the garden, a squeeze of lemon.

Top three pantry staples: Balsamic vinegar, oats, baked beans.

How hard is it to eat out? Hard but not impossible.

Did it work? Not yet.