insanity diaries: day 56

Today marks my eighth full week of Insanity completed. At this point, it feels normal, like  a way of life. We got back from Florida a couple days ago and although I felt ill due to some sort of cold/flu I picked up from the boyfriend and a serious heat rash, I managed to sneak in 3 days of the Insanity workouts. Along with a couple other days of running.

Although I was skeptical, I’m happy to report that my running endurance hasn’t skipped a beat despite my 6-week hiatus. Actually, it almost felt like Insanity has helped build it. I could run easily for half an hour straight with some self-induced short bouts of sprints. Thank goodness! Right where I want to be, especially with warm, perfect for running weather upon us.

Since I haven’t been feeling so well, the last couple days of Insanity workouts have been a struggle. I’m hoping it’s because I’m battling a bug and not because I took a few days off over vacation. I’m sure it’s the former, since I have that icky I-don’t-want-to-move-another-inch feeling that comes when fighting something. I managed to sneak in Core, Cardio & Balance yesterday and this morning I pushed myself through Max Cardio Conditioning. And then jumped right back in bed. Yuk, I hate feeling terrible.

So believe it or not, I only have 2 more full weeks of my Insanity schedule. I can’t believe it’s coming to an end! As I mentioned previously, it’s not really an ‘end’ but just a time to start the next phase. I heard last week that Insanity Asylum is being released this month so I will most likely try to sink my teeth into that next. Above all, I’m planning to create a hybrid workout schedule that incorporates Insanity, running, and some of my old favorite Jillian Michael’s workouts.

I’m hoping that I’m feeling back to 100% over the next couple days so the Max workouts don’t kill me this week. I really want to push it through these last 2 weeks, and that is nearly impossible when your body is dragging. I could really REALLY live without these last 5lbs that won’t seem to budge.

The week before vacation I was feeling progress with the harder workouts and starting to get my mind and body to a place where I can totally ‘dig deeper.’ That’s what it’s all about, and I’m realizing that the only way to take it to the next level of fitness is to either get your mind out of it or along for the ride with the right mentality. I remember reading somewhere along the line that our minds are actually programmed to prohibit us from giving it our absolute all physically, this comes from the times where energy conservation was key to survival. So, I just remind myself during the points in these workouts where moving another inch feels like my legs may fall off that I CAN do it and my physical limits are all in my head and yes, these crazy workouts do end.

I endure another Fit Test this week. It will be interesting to see where I’m at with my week of vacation/being sick!

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insanity diaries: day 43

So I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the past SIX weeks of my life have been nothing but Insanity. Doesn’t that sound crazy? Hello it goes by fast. I’m alive but not without some battle wounds. And some potential concerns. I’ve had some highs and lows, and since my challenge with Insanity is so intertwined with starting 36broadway, I want to talk more about where I was, and where I am now.

I’ll start by sharing the results of my third official Fit Test. Here’s results from when I started, and where I came in last week:

Fit Test

Switch Kicks              2/18: 115        3/22 : 135          Goal: 140

Power Jacks               2/18: 44          3/22 : 53            Goal: 65

Power Knees              2/18: 94          3/22: 99            Goal: 100

Power Jumps             2/18: 38         3/22: 45            Goal: 50

Globe Jumps              2/18: 9             3/22: 12            Goal: 10

Suicide Jumps           2/18: 17          3/22: 20            Goal: 20

Push Up Jacks         2/18: 15          3/22: 24           Goal: 20

Low Plank Obliq    2/18: 68          3/22: 81            Goal: 80

So as you can see, there are some moves like Globe Jumps and Push Up Jacks where I have already exceeded my goal. Does that mean we give up? Hell no!

I guess this looks like great progress with the numbers in front of me on paper. However, if you asked me how I FEEL like I’m doing with, say, Push Up Jacks, I’d tell you I really struggle. Yes, I did 24, but I’m sure most of them were borderline unacceptable form. But the fact that I’m not modifying every single push-up exercise in this workout anymore is reason enough for celebration. It’s easy to forget where you started when you’re still being challenged.

Here’s my body measurement progress

Waist     2/18: 27″      3/22: 26.25″

Bust       2/18: 33.25″      3/22: 32.25″

Hips      2/18: 38.25″      3/22: 37.25″

Arm       2/18: 11″      3/22: 10.67″

Thigh    2/18: 20.75″      3/22: 20.50″

So this is interesting. I’ve made the most difference in my bust and hips, which is fine. But I really wish I could tone up my arms a bit more. The workouts are so lower body/core focused that I see why I may not be finding much of a change in my upper body. However, the Max workouts have a ton of plank/push-up variations so we will see where I am over the next four weeks.

I was pleased to see SOMETHING move in my thigh measurement. The number of jumps, squats, sprints, etc. etc. I’ve been doing  is ridiculous so the fact that not too much has changed in my legs is insulting. However, I take the ‘Thigh’ measurement around my upper thigh so (hopefully) I’m replacing some fat with muscle mass. It’s definitely the meaty part of my leg.

I was thinking this weekend, and also looking through some pictures of me over the past year or so, that I don’t think I look too much different. Could I be getting similiar if not better results with the workouts I had been doing? Should I still be running? There are times I start to doubt my decision to take 10 weeks to do these workouts and really nothing else. I like to think I had an effective workout schedule before Insanity, and if I just focused on kicking it up a notch and being a little better with my diet I could be feeling and looking exactly how I want. I’m actually looking forward to going back to some of the other things I like to do, like weights and running.

Therefore, this week I busted my ass with the Max workouts but don’t feel like I’m making too much progress. This can probably be explained by my T-rex cycle. So (boys cover your ears) I am currently having trouble getting my period. I get it about a week later than normal as is, and we’re a week past that right now. Not fun. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I know that my  body builds up to a ‘P’ – I get bloated and cranky and just miserable but the release when I finally get it is a miracle. I feel fresh and lean.  I finally feel like Amanda again. I’ve been looking forward to this release. Since I haven’t gotten it, I feel like I’m in this limbo phase where I’m not really T-Rex anymore, but I’m feeling pudgey and not seeing results after all the maniac workouts I’ve been doing. Sigh.

This may be a stretch, but I read that it is possible for our bodies to stop our cycle during times of excessive exercise or change in exercise behavior. I’m talking like gymnists and athletes. Basically, your body goes into a state where it shuts off all non-essential processes, and reproduction is one of them. It sounds a little extreme in my case, but I have been super regular for the past 6 months or so and to be fair these Max workouts are the longest most intense workouts I have every done.

I’m really hoping it’s a false alarm and I get it this week. We’re off to Florida on Saturday and if I don’t feel thin and emotionally stable I will lose my mind!

Aside from that issue, overall I do feel that I am living on another level of balance and wellness. This was and still is my number one goal. I totally believe that when you feel whole and are running on all cylinders, you can face anything. And when you bfeel complete, you don’t need things, people, or jean sizes to make you feel alive. And little daily troubles don’t have such a negative impact on you. For the most part, this is what I’m experiencing. Of course every day I am still tested by little annoyances and times of not feeling 100%. But now that I have a little more direction and feel like I’m accomplishing something, it’s given me new perspective and something to be proud of. This workout program along with this blog feels right, it feels like Me. And that says a lot!

Shaun T just tweeted this link – check out this video on Insanity just to get a taste of the moves/intensity. I think some of the results they show here are definitely not normal, you can expect to lose a lot of fat if you are overweight but I’m not sure about getting so ripped. I’m certainly not looking like that!

So what’s next? Another obscene week of the Max workouts and then I’m off to FL for a week! I’m hoping to finally get my P before I leave so I can feel like myself (and not so bloated). During vacation I’m planning to try and do the videos as much as I can, but I will most likely start running again. It will be a nice change of pace, and I’m anxious to see how it feels to not religiously complete a ridiculous Insanity workout every day. We shall see!


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)

TOTAL CALORIES: 1,700

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?



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.


thinking about trying insanity? pros and cons to consider


Pros

1.Insanity focuses on high intensity interval training which makes it easy to accelerate weight loss and increase fitness level in a short period of time. The basis of each workout is to spend most of your time working at max heart rate with brief intervals of rest, which forces your body to adapt quickly while torching loads of calories. Completing this program is an exceptional accomplishment and tremendously rewarding

2. Easy to customize a calendar to stay on track with the daily workouts

3. You are provided with an easy-to-follow diet book with tons of examples of what to eat and when. You can also easily adjust the examples to provide more or less calories, depending on your daily needs. Unlike other diets, you are encouraged to eat enough in order to fuel your workouts and not feel starving. They focus on inclusion of a variety of high quality and nutrient rich foods

4. One rest day a week! Enough said

5. A Fit Test is included to help you measure real results. It’s designed to help you track progress at different points throughout the program. It’s a nice add and your scheduled Fit Test days will be more than welcomed!

6. You are able to build up to the longest and most insane workouts. Aside from the Fit Test, the first month alternates 4 – 40 minute workouts. They are high intensity, but manageable so your body has time to adjust and work up to the longer, more extreme workouts you start in the second month

7. No extra equipment is required. Most of the participants are wearing heart rate monitors, which is an excellent idea if you are new to working out or working out at a high intensity for long periods of time. In some videos they use an exercise mat, which I happened to have on hand. If you do not, you may want to pick one up depending on what type of surface you are on

8. The program is very time effective and appeal to those with a busy lifestyle. The workouts are only 40-50 minutes and can be completed anywhere. Once you establish a new diet plan, it becomes easy to maintain

Cons

1.  The complete Insanity system is expensive. You can find it on Amazon for around $150, or the deluxe version for $265. Try to find a used set of the DVDs somewhere online, or get a friend or two together to split the cost and alternate the DVDs.

2. The difficulty level is intermediate to advanced. If you are a beginner to an exercise program you may want to start with something lower impact.

3. The workouts are mostly high intensity cardio & plyometrics without much variation.  If you currently enjoy a specific workout like running or yoga, you won’t be able to do much of that during the program. You are allowed a Rest Day each week where in theory you could add an extra workout of your choice, but chances are you will need the day off.

4. Sometimes it’s hard to follow Shaun T’s instruction, especially during moves on the floor or those that are multi-step and you’re not exactly facing the TV (ex. Level 2 Drills). Again, if you are new to some of the advanced moves, you may find it difficult to follow along, never mind keep up.

5. Since the workouts include a lot of jump training, it’s extremely high impact. If you have any sort of issues with knees, ankles, hips etc. it would be very challenging and painful to complete this program. Even if you don’t have these issues, high impact training on a daily basis for prolonged periods of time can be very taxing on the body. It’s crucial to keep proper form.

6.  This is the first official fitness program I’ve gone through, so once complete I’m not sure what to do. It’s unclear whether you should go totally back to exercising they way you did before, incorporate the Insanity workouts to some degree each week, or keep rotating the workouts and diet plan with more relaxed discipline.

All in all, it’s a fantastic and easy way to get in great shape fast, if you’re willing to invest some time and a bit of money. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you’re up for it I say try it!


insanity diaries – day 20

This will be a short entry. I’ve had a little too much fun over the past couple days and while it’s great to let loose, I’m secretly mad. Drinking too much and staying up to late is like a punch in the face to any progress I’ve made. I don’t even want to remind myself and Google how bad alcohol is for your muscles and metabolism, never mind feeling like crap the next day.

But, it’s important to be with friends and connecting with people you’re close to is a huge part of living well, even if it does involve bottles (plural) of wine. So I could argue going overboard is worth it but I know I can have fun without going too far with food and drink.

Aside from my 2 night diet detour, Week 3 of Insanity is complete! I’m currently enjoying my Off day and recovering from a late night on the town. Now that I’ve done each workout in the first set a few times, I’m noticing my endurance has increased and the moves that were previously killer are easier to make it through. Like Hit the Floors – a week ago I barely made it through 30 seconds but yesterday they didn’t feel as crazy and I pushed to get through all 3 circuits. But don’t get me wrong, there are multiple points during each of these workouts where you’re working so hard you don’t know your name, but what makes it bearable is that the total workout is less than 40 minutes.  And it usually goes fast.

There is a day each week where you are supposed to do one of the workouts and then Cardio Abs, which is a video I tried last week. I haven’t exactly been doing it that way, but I have been doing this video after the Recovery workout to kick up the intensity a bit. The warm up in Cardio Abs is all high intensity plyo moves that you know from the other workouts so it’s a great quick cardio blast. I usually don’t plan ahead and give myself enough time in the morning to do a 40 minute workout and then another 20 minutes. I think I need to try it this week since I’m feeling progress and should see if I can handle it. It’s been a while since I’ve worked out for a full hour!

I only have 1 more week of alternating the workouts I’ve been doing. Then, I am supposed to have what I’m thinking of as a pseudo-recovery week where I do the same video every day (Core, Cardio & Balance) before I jump back into the second set of workouts that are longer and I suspect more advanced. I’m entertaining the idea of starting the part 2 workouts early – perhaps during my recovery week I will start alternating with the new set. I haven’t watched C, C & B yet, but I’m not a big fan of doing the same thing every day.

So I am trying to be hopeful that I’ll rebound rather quickly from these past couple days of diet plan faux pas. I feel bloated and soft, not even remotely as lean as I had been feeling. Hopefully if I did take 2 steps back, it was after I had taken 4 steps forward. I need to always make sure to be aware of the discipline I can have and remind myself that feeling fit and healthy is way more rewarding than some chips or another glass of wine. And with a vacation to Florida in less than a month that’s enough motivation to behave from here on out!


insanity diaries – progress day 15

Starting Insanity wasn’t necessarily about the results. Why I really started was to take on a challenge I could own, and only I could get through. Something that would push my limits physically and mentally. And have an excuse to clean up my diet, which has been a long time coming. Any physical transformation or change in fitness level would be an added bonus. And a SWEET one at that!

So today I completed my second Fit Test and also took the first round of body measurements since starting. Like I said, I’m not focused on this and getting totally lean and cut up is not really what I’m going for. I don’t even expect it, to be honest, just because I’ve been working out forever and I feel like I’ve been as thin as I’ll ever be. It’s not really a driver…wellness and feeling whole are my drivers.

Here is where I’m at!

Fit Test

Switch Kicks              2/18: 115        3/1 : 130          Goal: 140

Power Jacks               2/18: 44          3/1 : 47            Goal: 65

Power Knees              2/18: 94          3/1 : 99            Goal: 100

Power Jumps             2/18: 38         3/1 : 41            Goal: 50

Globe Jumps              2/18: 9             3/1 : 11            Goal: 10

Suicide Jumps           2/18: 17          3/1 : 19            Goal: 20

Push Up Jacks         2/18: 15          3/1 : 19            Goal: 20

Low Plank Obliq    2/18: 68          3/1 : 75            Goal: 80

The idea is to take 1 minute each and push yourself to do as many reps as you can. I’m shocked that I improved in all of the moves, especially as much in Switch Kicks and Push Up Jacks. This really shows that doing this type of workout every week  has a huge impact on your fitness level and endurance. I’ve already exceeded 1 goal, and as you can see pretty close in a couple others. I’m very pleased!

Here’s my body measurement progress

Waist     2/18: 27″      3/1: 26.75″

Bust       2/18: 33.25″      3/1: 32.3″

Hips      2/18: 38.25″      3/1: 37.75″

Arm       2/18: 11″      3/1: 10.67″

Thigh    2/18: 20.75″      3/1: 20.75″

Wow! I do feel leaner, but I never thought it would translate into actual improvement. I’m really excited that I’ve moved the needle at least somewhat on my arm and hips. Interesting that my thigh hasn’t changed, since the work outs are heavily focused on lower body. Maybe I’ve been building muscle.

So far so good! I’m eager and confident to keep going, I’m so happy that I’ve seen a noticeable difference in only 15 days.