Alrighty, so this is a follow-up to my whine and moan session in my previous post about the weight gain.  Make a little time for a pity party and then DO SOMETHING, right?  At least that’s the motto I try to live by.  I’m human and sometimes stumble and sputter when I am trying to deal with things that bring me down, but deep at the core there is a never-ending drive, hunger and fire to DO, improve – whatever it is.  Fire in the belly!  OK, well, there’s a little more of my belly than there used to be so I assume the fire’s still deep in there somewhere, ha ha.

Everyone out there familiar with The Biggest Loser?  The reality TV series where really obese people diet and exercise like crazy and compete to see who can lose the largest percentage of their starting body weight?

Well, call ME a loser I suppose, as I’ve never watched one entire episode in all the 5 or 6 years this show has been around.  I’ve seen highlights of it at the end of a season where they crown a new winner, but haven’t watched an episode all the way through.

But one name pops through for sure as the show gets woven into our seemingly never-ending hunger for a good, competitive reality show – Jillian Michaels.

Jillian is one of the personal trainers on the show, and she has a few books out, cookbooks, a nutritional or weight loss supplement she’s endorsing (or developed?  Not sure).  And…a few workout DVDs.

It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased a workout video.  In fact, the other two I had were on VCR so there ya go.  Remember Buns of Steel?  I admit I plowed through that one a few times.  It was in 2 parts – some low impact aerobics (admittedly very cheezy) and then the intense booty workout.  And I also had Cindy Crawford’s Shape Your Body workout video from I’m guessing c. 1992ish?  Yep – just checked – 1992 – and now it’s been reissued?  It got MAJORLY panned as being full of poorly-performed and risky moves.  Very 1990s…the music was mostly Seal and Primal Scream.  And they did a lot of alternative settings rather than a traditional exercise studio.  The beach, a rooftop in an urban setting, you name it.  My copy went to Goodwill years ago but I do remember that workout quite well.  I think partly because I did it in my first apartment I had on my own.  1 bedroom, 1 bath.  Killer, kickass water and mountain view, killer neighborhood but a tad dumpy otherwise.  But it was home for nearly 5 years.  And I was on the top (3rd) floor, yet for some reason my neighbor below me never complained when I was walking around or jumping up and down doing those workouts.

I like being around people.  When I work out I’d rather be at the gym where other people are doing their thing, on a walk with a good friend, or mixing it up on the ice in hockey.  But I do enjoy walks alone with the iPod as well – good to recharge and just veg out a bit.  And workout videos can get boring after awhile even though they usually have more than one routine in them.

So fast forward 15+ years or so and I recently got the Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred DVD.  I’ve heard a ton of great feedback about it and as I might have mentioned in another post it was only $8.99 on so it’s definitely in line with my Money Diet.  Yes, I’m trying to stick with newly-learned frugal habits even though I’ve been back at work now for about 5 weeks.

Oh. My. God.  After the first workout I could hardly get out of bed the next day or two!  My abs!  My pecs!  On the other hand…this is a good thing.  The muscles are rumbling back to life!

There are 3 workouts on the DVD – 3 levels of difficulty.  There are so many things I love about this.  First of all, you’re DONE in about 25 minutes.  Yep, there is a brief warmup before each workout, 18 minutes of circuit training and then a 2 minute stretch/cooldown.  All you need is a mat and some hand weights (dumbells).

Another thing I like is the variety…the circuits are broken down like this:

  • 3 minutes strength
  • 2 minutes cardio
  • 1 minute abs

…repeat that cycle 2 times and voila!  She has a few basic moves for each circuit and varies how they are rotated in each.  Again, I like this variety.  And if you are worried about complicated dance moves for the cardio portion, fear not.  All the cardio is very basic stuff like jump roping in place, jumping jacks, squatting in place while boxing – things like that.  I don’t mind a little fun choreography but on the other hand it’s nice that part is just 2 minutes a pop.

There are also two other women in the background doing modified versions of the exercises – one more beginner and one advanced.

So far I’m having a blast.  I’ve done the Level 1 workout 4 times and I feel GREAT.  Remember, it’s a 20 minute workout so there is NO resting.  You have to push and push and push the entire time without stopping.  And it’s hard!  But that’s the idea.

The 2 minute cardio sessions are no brainers for me.  I’m used to that with hockey, plus my natural inclination to be a sprinter rather than a distance runner (I’m trying to ‘fight’ that by training for 5Ks).  But holy shitballs, the strength sections are killer.  Movements that seem pretty harmless “suddenly” creep up and kick you in the ass (or the triceps, pecs) after a few reps pretty quickly.  And I guess that’s the idea!  There are a lot of combo type moves, such as anterior shoulder raises combined with side lunges.  Or squats combined with presses upwards.  Again, with the idea to make the most of those intense 20 minutes. 

I SUCK at pushups.  How much muscle tone has vacated my upper body here??  UGH.  I can barely do 5 or 6 in a row right now even in the modified version on your knees.  Old school exercise but still tried and true I suppose.  I really do love the ‘squat and row’ exercise with the hand weights too.  I tend to carry the weight of the world in my neck and shoulders, especially after being on a computer all day, so anything that helps loosen up and tone that area is HUGE for me.  I find I feel better and “sit” taller after a good upper body workout.  Those pecs are in there somewhere.  Again, I’m amazed how much muscle tone I’ve lost.  Anything I can do to fight looking middle-aged, I’m there!

So…I’m hoping this is a workout I can stick with for awhile along with the other choices I’m making in a renewed committment to fitness and peeling off some poundage.  An intense workout in just 20-25 minutes?  I’VE got the time for sure!

And like Jillian says…”NO excuses.”