insanity diaries: day 35

This past week was supposed to be recovery, but I felt surprisingly drained and exhausted. Maybe it was because I tossed in 3 days of the Max workouts. Maybe it was because I started to feel particularly pre-menstrual which throws my appetite/sleeping habits for a tail-spin. Maybe it was because I caved and had a couple ‘tortilla chip nights.’ Whatever it was, I made it through but do not feel like I made much progress. However, I don’t feel like I fell behind this past week either.

Nonetheless, I did make it through Week 5. It may have been a big of a struggle, but I did it!

Here was my self-inflicted Insanity workout sched:

M 3/14 – Max Cardio Conditioning

T 3/15 – Core, Cardio & Balance

W 3/16 – Max Interval Plyo

T 3/17 – Core, Cardio & Balance

F 3/18 – Max Cardio Conditioning

S 3/19 – Pure Cardio

S 3/20 – OFF

I still haven’t done Max Recovery, so we will see what that workout is like later this week. I scanned the video and it looks like a lot of isometric movements and stretching. And I finally completed Max Interval Circuit this morning which is the longest of them all – 60 minutes. It’s almost surreal when you’re done with warming up and you still have 48 minutes to go! Similar to the other Max workouts, it’s 3 longgg circuits of 4-45 second moves each. Once you reach 20 minutes left, it seems to fly.

The nutrition guide mentions pumping up calories when you enter the second month, so I’m trying to be more mindful to have at least 300 calories every 2-3 hours. Ideally, it should be 400, but the snacks/meals I’ve been used to eating are less than that. I need to add a little bit here and there so I don’t end up starving every night or dragging in the longer workouts.

Here’s a sample meal plan for this week:

Breakfast:  1 egg, 1-2 egg white omelets, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheese with 1 piece 100-cal bread. With 100-cal protein shake (350 calories)

Snack: Clif Bar (250 calories)

Lunch: Big salad with dark greens, ground chicken, pepper, cucumber, tomato, carrots with low-calorie organic balsamic vinaigrette. 1 apple. 1 Dark Mocha Almond Kashi bar (300 calories)

Snack: Serving of Vanilla Chobani with blackberries and almond butter (400 calories)

Dinner: Turkey Stoup OR stir-fry tofu with frozen veggies and brown rice (300 calories)

Snack: VitaMuffin (100 calories)


Hmm so I’d like to be eating somewhere around 1,900, so I’ll need to see how this goes. But look at all that food! I feel like that’s still plenty, so we’ll see how I feel at night. Usually after I’ve had dinner is when I’ll either feel satisfied or famished. I am doing super high intensity hour-long workouts so my body needs fuel and the RIGHT type of fuel. I will never make it through this next month if I’m not eating the right foods at the right time so that’s an area I will be working on.

I’ve been spending around $60 a week on groceries. In my past life, I could sometimes get by on half that. I think I’m buying a lot more lean protein and fresh produce – trying to load up on feel-good foods and if my mood and state of balance is a stake, I’d say that’s priceless!

I had also noticed last week that I wasn’t having very many carbs during the first part of my day. Big no-no! I didn’t realize it, but through lunch I was only having 1 piece of bread and some fruit with a lot of protein and good fat. So I decided to swap my mid-afternoon oatmeal snack to the morning like a normal person. This week I’m trying Clif bars as a mid-morning snack as they have the right balance of protein and carbs as my body is still recovering from Insanity.

So what’s on tap for this week? Check out my latest workout schedule to the left. I’m feeling very busy, but good busy. I’m putting as much time as I can without going crazy into 36broadway, so I’m certainly flexing my ‘passion’ and ‘creativity’ muscles. I love it and I hope others do too!

Also, tomorrow morning I will complete my 3rd official Fit Test. We shall see how I do in terms of reps for each of the 8 moves. I may wait until later this week to take body measurements, based on what’s been going on with the hormones. Can you blame me?


4 practical ways to stay calm in stressful situations

Feel yourself on the verge of a full-on freak-out? Turn to these four simple and easy ways to stay focused and make tough situations more bearable.


Say this to yourself with a deep breath ‘Stay Calm, Carry On.’ It sounds silly, but just say it and you’ll see.

Read about meditating. I’ve never officially meditated, but I’ve come across enough articles about meditation and breathing techniques to know the objective and imagine the feeling you’re left with. The idea is to do enough research to find ideas that you can relate to and focus on that feeling of inner calm and deeper mindfulness when you’re at the end of your rope. Make a conscious choice to be still instead of stressed.

Remove yourself from the situation. We are taught in life that we will only accomplish great successes if we grin, bear it and never give up, but there are many situations where it does you more good to leave than it does to stay.

Hold something (like a pen) in your hand and squeeze hard. Envision all the tension flowing from every part of your body to your hand and into the object.


What ways of staying grounded work for you?

insanity diaries – day 30

If I haven’t already driven home the fact, I work out in the mornings. No excuses. I can’t remember the last time I worked out anytime after noon, even on the weekends and vacations. It’s just my thing.

Due to some technical difficulties this morning, no alarms were sounded so I ended up waking up at 7:40. This is just a bit too late to do Insanity before heading to work. Now I’m not opposed to being a little later into work, and if it was even 20 minutes earlier I would have justified sneaking in a 40min Insanity sesh.

So *gasp* I had to wait until after work to get Insane.

Luckily, my T-Rex-MS is very under control and I was feeling alive and energetic today. I bombed home, walked Lucy, and hit it hard.

Day 27 I mentioned starting to alternate the Max videos this week, along with Core, Cardio, & Balance. Tonight I jumped right into 55mins of Max Interval Plyo. I didn’t think working out at night would be a drastic change, but I really felt it. I was a little worn out from a day of work and even though I started strong, before the warm-up was over I started feeling draggy.

Max Interval Plyo is no joke. The warm-ups in the Max videos are different and slightly more difficult than the warm-up you’re used to from the first set of videos, so I suspect you  need to build up to them. The stretch section is a couple minutes shorter, and then it’s right into the madness. The workout uses similar circuit format to the Interval videos from the first set, but you face 45sec intervals instead of 30. I think you may even do 3 circuits of 4 moves plus a few extras but honestly I’m so tired I can’t even remember.

Shaun T uses variations to old favorite moves, and also introduces some new ones. Although it was called ‘Interval Plyo,’ there are a LOT of push-up flavors. Right in the middle of the video you find yourself doing Power Push-Ups – oh crap! It’s no excuse, but I’m a girl and my upper body strength is nothing compared to my lower body so I’m probably  below average at push-ups. This move requires you to do a push-up, and then jump your feet in so you’re in a bent over position. Then jump right back out into a push-up. And up again. It may sound  basic, but it’s killer and ST wants you to do it really, REALLY fast.

Also in this video are Level 3 Drills. We’ve mastered Level 1, pushed through Level 2, so now it’s time to take on Level 3! This involves (from a standing position) jumping back and out to do 16 push-ups, and then 16 mountain climbers. Jump up and repeat! I most definitely modified my push-ups for this one.

And you do that plyo move in the pic above. Yup.

Overall, it was a doozy to get through. I tried hard not to look at the countdown clock but couldn’t help it at some points! I remember seeing 17 minutes left and it felt like a lifetime. Yes, it was probably a combination of working out at a time where my body is naturally not used to, a little bit of the T-Rex-MS, and also the longest workout yet that I’ve completed. I’ll be up first thing in the morning for another go of Core, Cardio & Balance so I better rest up!

big meal of the weekend: lemon garlic linguine with shrimp

FACT: Shrimp may be small but are a powerhouse of selenium, vitamin D and B12! Not to mention an excellent source of lean protein, just 4oz provides nearly 25g. I’m no mathmetician, but shrimp added to fiber rich whole wheat pasta and some yummy veggies equals a super big meal of the weekend!

Here we go….

1/2 package of whole wheat linguine pasta

1lb uncooked shrimp

1 onion

1 red pepper

6oz asparagus

1 can organic fire roasted tomatos (watch the sodium!)

Fresh garlic, 1 lemon, EVOO

Heat 2 tbs EVOO and lots of garlic (at least 4 cloves chopped) in a large skillet/wok over med-hi heat. Cut pepper, onion, and asparagus into medium sized pieces. Add pepper, onion to skillet, set asparagus aside. Let sautee until onion is soft.


Meanwhile, cook whole wheat pasta according to package directions. Peel shrimp, season to taste and pan fry in skillet separate from vegetables. Set aside when fully cooked. Add asparagus to onion and pepper skillet, let cook for 5 minutes

Add pasta to vegetables, toss to mix. Add more EVOO if desired, squeeze with 3 wedges lemon. Let cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Serve with shrimp on top and grated parmesan cheese. Provides 4-5 servings.

Fa-YAY! the wonders of greek yogurt

If you’re like me, there was a point in your life where the processed and artificial-ness of Activia was cause enough to give it up cold turkey. Luckily for me, this was right around the time Greek Yogurt entered my life. I was skeptical and weaning myself off the fake sweet, watery goodness commercial yogurt brands brainwashed us all into mistaking for real wholesome yogurt.

But once I acknowledged all the undeniably fantastic things about Greek Yogurt, I was hooked and have never looked back. Yes, it’s a taste and consistency that takes getting used to but so worth it. Greek Yogurt is like a highly concentrated version of all the good things about it’s distant cousin.

1. Lower sugar. Have you ever checked out the back of that Dannon container? Many types of regular yogurt have lots of added sugar. Yes, you need to watch out for high amounts of sugar in Greek Yogurt but typically only in the flavored kinds. Plain Green Yogurt usually contains <10g sugar per serving.

2. All natural. Regular yogurt companies may use artificial ingredients, preservatives, and milk from cows treated with who-knows-what. It’s always a smart choice to go with GY if only for quality of ingredients.

3. High protein. Non-fat dairy protein is complete and awesome for you, especially when included in a high-activity diet. Plain or Vanilla versions of GY boast more than 20g of protein per serving, compared to 5g in some of the leading regular yogurt brands.

4. Live active cultures. Same stuff that promotes regularity that most of the regular brands like to brag about. Oikos and Chobani have 5 LACs, Fage contains 2.

5. Versatility. Plain GY is not a far cry from sour cream, and can be used as a healthy nutrient packed substitute in a number of recipes. I’ve used it for baking, for dips, and as a base for sauce in a pasta dish to name a few.

Once you discover the creamy goodness of Greek Yogurt,  it’s sure to become your new grocery store staple that you find yourself eating at least once a day. It’s certainly pricier than other yogurt alternatives, but without a doubt worth the extra cost. Try adding a high-fiber cereal, fresh or frozen fruit, and even almond or peanut butter for a quick, fulfilling snack.

insanity diaries – day 27

Almost can’t believe that I’ve completed the first month AND first half of Insanity! The program is truly insane so I’m feeling really good about how far I’ve come and eager for what’s coming next. However, this means I need to really put my head in the game in terms of discipline because this next level will be quite hard to conquer without being healthy and feeling balanced.

Let’s see what my week looked like:

M 3/7 – Plyo Cardio Circuit

T 3/8 – Pure Cardio

W 3/9 – Cardio Power & Res AND Cardio Abs

T 3/10 – Plyo Cardio Circuit

F 3/11 – Cardio Recovery

S 3/12 – Pure Cardio AND Cardio Abs

S 3/13 – OFF

I mentioned last week that I hadn’t been incorporating Cardio Abs at the end of some of the high impact workouts like I should, but rather adding it at the end of the Recovery Workout. So this week I pumped it up and did the 20 minute or so ab workout after two days – Wednesday and Saturday. It’s not the craziest video ever, but after 40 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and when you’re dripping sweat all over the floor you feel it to say the least.

Before Insanity, my workout regime consisted of running 2 days a week and a 25-40 minute workout from Jillian Michaels or Body by Jake on the other 4 days. If anyone has ever tried Jillian, from 30Day Shred, to No More Trouble Zones, to Shred it with Weights and Yoga Meltdown (a personal favorite), you know she kicks ass and has a no fuss approach to whipping you in shape with moves inspired by a variety of fitness techniques. Before Jillian, the only cardio I ever did was on a treadmill.

I used to think that working out for 30 minutes at or near my highest level of exertion was it for me, I would probably never be able to do more or even want to. I have 2 Body by Jake workouts downloaded from ExerciseTV made up of 4 circuits of 10 power strength/cardio/plyo moves done for 45 seconds to a minute each. The whole workout is 40 minutes but I typically only did half of it since I would just be so spent. I workout first thing in the morning and never used to eat anything beforehand. I can remember thinking 20 minutes of this was enough, that I’d never work up enough endurance or have enough energy to make it through all 4 circuits.

Enter Insanity. The intensity of these workouts is arguably double of what I used to do and I’m able to make it through 40-60 minute workouts, 6 days a week. I think it’s a combination of determination, built up endurance, and a more fulfilling/satisfying diet that more adequately powers my workouts. Now I eat something as soon as I wake up while I’m walking Lucy – either a 130 calorie Kashi Chewy Bar or a banana. I don’t think it gives me more endurance during the workouts, but it does prevent me from feeling that draining, draggy sensation when you haven’t eaten enough. I suspect that means your body is so short on energy supply that it pulls from your muscle rather than fat. I used to feel like that all the time, it was probably why I was only doing 25-30 minutes on average every day.

This progress makes me happy and proud. When I used to workout with my boyfriend every now and then, I’d be exhausted and starving after 40 minutes when he was just warming up. Now I feel like I can endure at least an hour, which will be great for when I do start running again or when I’m on vacation and need to improvise at a gym.

So how exactly do I think my endurance has changed? Well, don’t get me wrong, I’m not able to breeze through any of the workouts I’ve been alternating so far. But I have noticed this week that I’m significantly faster during the warm-up and feel more powerful during the actual workout. For example, Pure Cardio is non-stop 15 1-min moves. By the 7th or 8th move, I would be literally dying. On Saturday, my endurance level certainly increased so I could focus on doing each move with good form, not just actually making it through each interval. That’s the thing, with this sort of workout you can always push yourself. Once you get comfortable with the intensity, you focus on doing each rep with better form and in turn still work at similiar intensity.

I still can’t do a full set of Push Up Jacks. I do Level 2 Drills with modified push ups. And I probably don’t squat down enough in Hit the Floors. But I bust my ass and when I feel like I have nothing more to give, I go in my mind and turn on the overdrive. You can only go as far as you mentally allow yourself to, so when you get to that place where you think you can’t do more, get your mind out of it and just focus on powering through the set. It’s incredible how much your mind has to do with it.

So what’s next?

Tomorrow I’m scheduled to start a week of borderline recovery. However, shh, I am thinking of trying a day (or 3) of the new Max videos that make up the final 4 weeks. I suspect these workouts will be a huge challenge as they are longer with more advanced moves. So this is why I need to focus on really eating the right things at the right time and getting plenty of sleep in order to fuel these workouts. I’m looking forward to trying them and also having this week be a little test before jumping all the way in next week.

Bring it Shaun T! I’ve got another 2 inches to lose before Florida and only 3 weeks to do it.

insanity asylum

Word on the street is next gen of Insanity is coming out this year: Asylum! Phew because I’m about halfway through the first program and was having anxiety about what happens to my life when I’m finished.

From the looks of the video it looks obscenely challenging and I’m getting hyper just thinking about it. From a quick Google search, I’m finding that Asylum will be a 30-day program with potentially a new workout each day. Also, you’re able to incorporate some weight training which is an area where the original Insanity lacks.

I’m going to need to know as SOON as this workout is released.