The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, The Update

Ok, so it seems I’ve taken a nasty tumble from the bandwagon. But you know what? There’s a part of me that’s kind of glad I did. Not that I don’t want do the program anymore. I actually really want to! Really! But I’m glad that I’ve had this time off from the routine because it’s given me some extremely helpful insight and perspective into what my goals are and how I’d like my life in general to be.

B. offered me some amazing big sister advice (is anyone surprised?) when I was stumped on what to tell you guys. Even though I’ve been feeling some pretty awful things about myself, she thankfully reminded me that life happens. No one can judge me for that because that’s just how it is for everyone. My commitment is the same, my will power is the same, and my intentions are still good. And in fact, after discussing it, we both agreed that my communication with you guys through the good and the bad is vital to my success, your success (if you’ve joined me and are doing the program too), and the whole point behind this new series.

So being the guinea pig, I’m here to tell you that although it’s a great program, 30 Day Shred is hard to make time for if you don’t plan it out carefully.. and make time for it. It’s always been a difficulty for me to prioritize things that are directly beneficial to me, such as going to the doctor, exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep.. yeah, yeah, I got some shizz to work on. But half the battle is admitting that you have a problem.

In addition, I’m sure that a few people would like to hit me at this point. Reason being that while I’m complaining I’m not trying hard enough and I’m not seeing physical results, my body is changing. I’ve received comments from my boyfriend (who I see the most often so he would know), B., a few friends and one of my regular customers at work that I’m looking more toned. And without even noticing, I’ve actually been tightening my belt by one notch. I wasn’t even paying attention because I was too busy beating myself up! What a silly face. But just think people- I have experienced results (albeit small ones) but real results in only 1 week.

So this is turning into an essay and whenever I get too serious I start getting antsy, so here’s the game plan. I’ve completed 7 days. 30-7= 23. I am going to complete 23 more days, it’s going to be great and thanks again for the continued support through this journey- it’s all for you guys!

And now to be funny, here’s a joke: A man walked into a house. Ouch.

Best. Joke. Ever.

<3, L.

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The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Day 9

Oh people, I’ve failed again and I missed Day 9. Pretty much for the same reasons as before- I was running around all day like a crazy person and by the time I got home I could barely keep my eyes open! I desperately texted my boyfriend asking him for advice about what I should do since I didn’t want to skip out on another day. Unfortunately, I never received his response since I promptly knocked out. I’ve asked a few people of their opinion on me missing two days of the program, and nobody seems to think that there’s a huge problem with that. In fact, one person whose opinion I solicited was surprised that I wasn’t taking purposeful rest breaks! I don’t actually know whether I’m supposed to or not, but again I feel awful about it. My commitment to the program is still strong, and I want those changes to happen so badly (for my health, my lifestyle and my confidence). In fact, I feel nervous about missing a day since the first time it happened, the day after seemed harder.

I guess I’m feeling down as well since I’m still not seeing extraordinary results. I know I’m setting ridiculously high expectations for myself (What can I say? It’s a character flaw.). I just can’t help but feel bummed because I don’t look or feel like a babe. I’m sorry if I’m not writing as I usually do in my classic witty chipperness, but I want to be as honest as I can about my experiences to best benefit you guys. So I guess days like this I’ll try and look back on what I can do to stay positive because I’ve worked too hard so far to lose my focus and discipline by feeling poopy.

Is your workout routine making you feel down? How do you cheer up when you’re experiencing self-doubt when working towards goals? You wanna eat your weight in ice cream with me? I await you (with two spoons) at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Day 8

Week 2 has officially begun, hooray! I want to start off by saying thank you for the kind words I’ve received as a result of announcing my intense cracking of the knees yesterday- it means so much that people care! *sniff sniff* I’m happy to report that although I’m not completely 100% since Crackstock 2013, what little residual pain I experienced in the same area was manageable.

I tried to take it up a notch today in a different way then weights and that was by attempting to execute proper pushups instead of modified push-ups (which I have been doing for the past week). Modified pushups for the record are done by going down to knee level and pressing up and down with your arms from that point instead of from an elevated plank position. And wow. I definitely couldn’t maintain those for the entire circuit. But I’m actually really proud of myself because I used to not be able to do a pushup at all, let alone a modified one. I’m really impressed with the amount of progress I’ve tracked in terms of my strength and endurance; well, the amount and the time frame of that progress. I still don’t feel as if I’ve noticed clear or obvious physical/aesthetic results yet, although if anything my midsection is starting to feel (just from simple touch) a little more defined.

I was also doing some thinking during this day’s workout about fitness in general and how some people really integrate exercise and proactive, healthy movement into their lives. I did some more thinking and even though these workouts are physically strenuous and sometimes a little hard to fit in, they’re worth it. And even if I wasn’t after aesthetic results (although for the record, I’m not participating in this program just for the hot bod), I can see myself integrating any kind of exercise on a daily basis as a part of my lifestyle. Now by no means am I signing myself up for the label of “gym rat”. Why it’s called “gym rat” I have no idea, since I personally don’t find rats to be all that attractive. But I think that the discipline and commitment I’ve learned to adopt this past week has given me perspective on other areas of my life as well. I’m at a point in time where I feel I’d like to change a lot of things that have been the norm for me in my life for a long time, and I think my attitude toward health and well-being is directly influenced by this program. And hey, you know they say that it takes 21 days to create a habit, so maybe this will be one of mine!

Do you modify your workouts based on your fitness level? How do you track your progress within your fitness routine? Do you find rats attractive? Get a hold of me at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com to get some sense knocked into you!

The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Day 7

Woohoo! Week 1 is officially in the bag (besides my flop day) and I’m feeling great, although I have an interesting development. You see, as I was pushing through today’s workout, I went into my first squat and promptly heard (and felt) a huge crack in my left knee. Yeah, it was awkward. And painful. In fact, my knee was a bit sore for the rest of the workout. I kept on going, just modifying my range of motion a little bit to reduce stress on my joint. I’m not sure whether I should have done that or just stopped, but the pain wasn’t enough that I had to roll on the ground and wince Peter Griffin style. Now, I feel like I’ve always had crummy knees, so I’m not entirely surprised that something like this happened. But now that I think about it, I’ve had a lot of cracking this week.

During some of the warm-up stretching, I’ve noticed my shoulders crack a little, and it feels like the joints on both sides have got a little bit of a pop to them. I know, that sounds disgusting, but it just feels a little weird. I find also that I’ve been cracking my fingers a little more often than I usually do (sorry, I know it’s bad, but I’m a piano player!). Because I’m not an expert on the human body in general (let alone mine), I really don’t know whether this is a point of concern or not. I’m even wondering whether it has something to do with diet… or maybe I’m just going through a strangely noisy de-stiff after not exercising at all for so long. What do you guys think?

I’ve also set myself the goal that I’m going to start the Level 2 workout this coming Sunday. I feel like I do better with goals that coincide with beginnings of weeks or months- kind of like New Year’s, only applied throughout the year.

Meet you back here tomorrow!

Have you ever sustained an injury from working out? Do you question your body’s reactions to exercise? Do you also play piano? Cool! Write me and we’ll chat at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Day 6

Hi everybody! Day 6 is here and I’ve stepped it up a notch. That notch my friends is water bottles. I mentioned a few days ago that the only hand weights I own are a little bit too heavy for me and I felt (and still feel) that at this point in time, it’s going to mess with my form and put me at risk for injury instead of helping me, so today was the first day I used two full water bottles as my weights to step up my routine. From not using any weights at all, and just pretending that there were weights in my hands. Pretty wimpy. But wooooo-wheeeee do I feel a difference! What before were moves and motions that were making me feel less stiff are now giving me the sensation of getting more toned literally with each rep. I was scared to do it, but now I’m kinda craving the challenge.

I still haven’t decided when I’m going to give Level 2 of the program a go. I originally thought that I would graduate with confidence by the end of Week 1, but seeing as that’s tomorrow, I’m thinking that maybe I’d like a couple more days to really conquer the Level 1 workout with my faux weights before I move on. What do you guys think? Let me know and tell me after one week what you think of the program, of the series, of my wimpyness! Ok, maybe not, you might hurt my feelings…

Have you stepped up your workout routine in a unique way? Want to join in the program with me? Do you have faux weights? I’m waiting to hear all about it at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Day 5

So in light of my epic fail that was Day 4, I pushed really hard today. That sounds gross, and it was. I was super swe… glisten-y. I refuse to admit that I experience the ‘s’ word. But anyways, there was a lot of glistening going on, which actually made me feel a little concerned. Not that I would be permanently glisten-y (yes, I do have a working shower) but because I still feel like the Level 1 workout is still difficult. Am I being too hard on myself? I think this is the first grievance that I have with the program- how do I gauge when I’m ready to increase intensity? How soon should I feel like the workout is too comfortable, or too easy? What if I stayed at one level for the entire program? Is it possible to plateau?

I don’t know whether I’ve just come up with all of these questions because of self-doubt and insecurity or whether I’ve got some troubleshooting to do, but one thing I know for sure is that tomorrow I’m going to start with using full water bottles as weights and challenge myself to do my best. Wow, that was a little epic… even for me.

I also think it’s important to note that I’ve also been experiencing a very positive change since I’ve first started this program- I’m drinking lots more water! I’ve always found that water makes my mouth really dry (isĀ that normal?), but while working out it’s my go-to beverage and I genuinely hope that I’ll be able to start reaping the benefits of that practice too! Day 6 is up next- Week 1 is almost here!

Do you worry about where your workout routine is taking you? Feeling insecure about your progress in fitness training? Do you glisten? I’m here for a listen at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

 

The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Day 3

Day 3 is done and over with and I’m a little amazed. No, I haven’t experienced any major changes yet or had any miraculous emotional or spiritual breakthrough- I’m just surprised that I still have the motivation that I do. I wouldn’t categorize myself as a quitter, but I’m not a stranger to getting a little discouraged sometimes. I think maybe because I’m blogging about my experience and because I’ve psyched myself up about it for a while, my commitment to the program is still quite strong. HOORAY!

I’ve also forgot to mention in my past two posts that the routine requires hand weights. Which I haven’t been using. I feel bad. It feels a little like I’m cheating, but here’s my rationale. The hand weights that I own are a little bit too heavy for me (at the moment!) and although I don’t mind giving myself a challenge, I feel like I won’t be able do the entire workout properly and I’d rather perfect my form first. I’m hoping I’ll be able to introduce them after my first week, so fingers crossed!

I’m still feeling physically pretty good, and I’ve already noticed in just 3 days of the program that my knees and shoulders don’t click as much as they did on the very first day, so although I haven’t seen results yet, my body is changing!

Thanks for all the support I’ve been receiving from readers as well as family and friends and get ready for tomorrow- 3 days down, 27 to go!!

Have you recently started a new fitness program or workout routine? Want to know more about my experience? Are your hand weights too heavy for you? I’m waiting to hear from you at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

The Guinea Pig: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Day 2

Alright twenty-somethings (or honorary twenty-somethings)- Day 2 of 30 Day Shred is complete and I’m still feeling good!

On Day 1 I worked out first thing in the morning, and Day 2 I tried in the evening to see if I could gauge which works better for me, and so far I’m undecided. A morning workout is appealing to me because it’s a positive and healthy start to the day and you get it over with, but I definitely feel less pressed for time in the evening (seeing as I don’t have to rush to also get ready for work). Day 3 is going to happen in the morning again so I’m thinking that maybe if I’m able to manage my time better, I can make it a habit.

In terms of how I’m feeling physically, I’d still say I’m fairly ok. Although my thighs and calves are quite sore and stiff from the shock of Day 1, I pushed myself to follow through with getting the workout done- because damn straight I want those results! The most shocking thing happened though as I started the routine: once you get going, your muscles aren’t as sore anymore! Is this a real concept, or am I just insanely lucky? Normally I’m used to waiting out the exercise pains for a couple of days before I get back on the horse. But after about 5 minutes, my aching muscles honestly did not feel as bad. Again, incredible since I was just doing my usual walking and standing at work and that was extremely uncomfortable. We might have a miracle on our hands.

I’m also really learning the importance of controlled breathing during exercise. I’ve always thought that trainers and coaches teach exercisees (is that a word?) to be mindful of inhaling and exhaling so there’s rhythm to guide you, or so that you stay focused on your body and in the moment as you’re working out. But breathing in a controlled and strategic way is surprisingly helpful! Day 1 I was just scrambling to survive, but Day 2 I really tried to pay attention to her instructions and based on how I’m feeling now as I write this, it’s good advice.

I understandably haven’t seen any results yet, and although I’ve been considering posting before and after pictures of this particular Guinea Pig series, I haven’t decided whether I’m comfortable enough with it or not. If an overwhelming amount of you guys really want to see photographic proof of what will eventually be my results (if I have any), then I might cave. Let me know (via comment, email, Twitter and/or Facebook!) and stay tuned for Day 3 tomorrow- 28 more days to go!! :)

Do you suffer from post-workout soreness? Do you have a preference for morning workouts or evening workouts? Are you enjoying me blogging about my suffering? Let me know all this and more by writing me at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com. You jerk.

Salads in Five: Chickpea, Feta and Cherry Tomato Salad

Chickpea, Feta and Cherry Tomato Salad

I love a good salad but for a while I found that making them was so intimidating. I’d go into a restaurant, or I’d look up a salad recipe online and every single one seemed to have a billion ingredients in it. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve had some really great billion-ingredient salads. But I found that I was avoiding making one myself because although they sounded nutritious and amazing, I didn’t really want to slave away over my salad the same way one would slave over a Thanksgiving turkey. It just seemed like too much work to eat healthy, and honestly? If it’s too much work then I’m not going to do it. I’m just lazy like that.

Making up a salad recipe on my own also never seemed to work. I’d buy bag salads that would go rotten because they were so bland and I couldn’t find the time to put in that extra zing. I love just eating raw vegetables (with maybe a little hummus) but that can get pretty stale too after awhile. (Especially if you forget to put the lid back on the hummus.)

So I thought I’d get creative and share this little salad idea I had with you guys. Just five ingredients, and the dressing of your choice. No fuss, no muss. It’s based on my tried, tested and true equation to making a good salad which goes a little bit like this: one leafy thing, one protein thing, one super awesome flavorful vegetable, and one carb-y type thing (to keep you feeling satisfied after that little lunch break).

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorites with you but this week I present without further ado:

Chickpea, Feta and Cherry Tomato Salad

1/4 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 c. shredded romaine lettuce

4 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

italian vinaigrette

Rinse romaine lettuce, pat dry with paper towel or clean dishtowel and shred to desired size (I usually estimate the ideal size to be half the width of my palm). Place in bowl. Drain and rinse chickpeas and add to romaine lettuce. Rinse cherry tomatoes, cut into halves and add to romaine. Add in feta cheese and toss until vegetables are mixed to your satisfaction and feta is crumbled and dispersed nicely throughout. Top with favorite salad dressing (my recommendation for this one is an Italian vinaigrette, although something mustard-y might be nice as well to compliment the tomato flavor).

All of the measurements for the ingredients in this recipe are approximate- no need to follow it exactly! Depending on your tastes, or how hungry you are, you can play the ratio of vegetables to salad to cheese until you find a fit that works for you. I used store-bought, low-fat Italian dressing because I was lazy but I totally encourage you to make your own! Just remember to keep it refrigerated and to check all expiry dates on the dressings in your fridge. If it’s growing algae on top, it’s gotta go.

I love this salad because it’s so nice and simple to make. The romaine and tomatoes make it light and refreshing, and the chickpeas and feta give it some good savory base notes. I recommend the Italian vinaigrette because it’s nice and light, but flavorful enough that it can balance out the feta and the subtle taste of chickpeas.

Totally take this salad for lunch too! It holds up well in a bag, and just add the dressing later so the romaine doesn’t get too soggy. Enjoy!

Do you have any fabulous salad recipes you accidentally created? I’d love to try one! Comment below or give me a shout at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com. Who knows? We may even like to post one of them one day.