insanity diaries – day 13

I’ve got the best news I’ve heard in a while….

I MADE IT THROUGH WEEK 2!! And I haven’t had one single tortilla chip since I started.

Thank you, thank you, please hold the applause.

I don’t think I’ve shared yet officially, here I am pre-program in January, looking over my favorite city in New England…Providence! I do have official ‘before’ mug shots but I will be keeping those to myself.

Overall, I’m feeling great and settled right into the Insanity lifestyle.  The workouts are still killer but my eating goals have been going great and easier than I thought to manage. Let’s talk about food first.

So, this past workweek was a 4-dayer (love it) and each one of my days looked a bit like this:

7:30am: 1 egg/1 egg white omlette w/mushrooms, spinach, avacado. A bit of cheese, 80-100 calorie whole wheat bread, splash of ketchup.

10am: Serving of plain 0% Greek Yogurt with almond butter & strawberries. Some days just a full serving of the yogurt and fruit.

12pm: An apple & whole wheat pasta, chicken, veggies, EVOO, garlic. Other days Chicken Chili with White Beans & Chipoltes with a whole wheat pita

3pm: 1 pouch organic flax oatmeal (or any all natural, low sodium/sugar alternative) with walnut pieces

6pm: No salt added lentil soup with roasted veggies

8pm:  A serving of dark chocolate

Not bad, right? Now that I’m  used to this eating plan, I find occasionally only feeling extra hungry about an hour or so after dinner. In this case, I’ll usually have a piece of wheat bread with peanut or almond butter. It’s probably not the best thing to have shortly before bed, but I take the hunger to indicate that I’m a bit low on calories for the day and what always makes me feel super full is any combo of a good fat, protein, and carb. Plus this is usually the only food combo we have on hand that I haven’t already eaten in the day since we’re trying to buy only what we plan to eat each week (no snacky stuff!).

It’s Sunday night and I had another weekend of reasonable eating. Like I mentioned before, I’m trying to go from ‘cheat weekend’ to ‘cheat meal’ or ‘meals’ in an effort to fight weekend overeating. This weekend, my cheat meal was breakfast this morning at this fantastic place called Sound Bites in Somerville. Making the trek up there, especially this morning in the snow, is always worth it because they have breakfast picks to die for. Nothing is too greesy and you can tell that all their ingredients are extra fresh – how can they not be when the lines are usually down the street? So, I had the ‘Green Omlette’ with peppers, broccoli, onions & spinach with egg whites and no cheese. Wheat bread dry. And I barely touched the cinder block grilled garlic mashed potatoes they give you on the side.  That’s an ‘A’ in my book, however, the man and I couldn’t resist ordering Filled French Toast with Mango, Strawberries & Cream Cheese to share. Mmm mmm mm!! I’m always a sucker for a cheat that’s worth it 🙂

However, there will be no cheating allowed with the workout schedule. I have followed my plan to a ‘Shaun-T’ and even added Insane Abs a week early at the end of my Cardio Recovery Friday. I’ve done better ab moves (Jillian Michael’s 6 Week 6 Pack) but I was slightly sore the next day so he really works you because I can usually endure a lot of core.

I’d like to write a bit about my concern about the pace/intensity of these workouts. Yes, I love it and overall feel like I’m keeping up better that the average participant in Week 2. However, there are points where I feel like I’m going to die, even sometimes in the warm-up! So during these times, I am certain that my form is compromised. Big time. ST would throw me off the floor if he was here. But I’m a huge believer that if you don’t push through, you won’t improve as fast.

An example: Hit the Floors. These ALWAYS get me! I cannot tell you why, maybe it’s the timing in the video, maybe it’s because you jump up and reach up your arms then lunge down, touch the floor, whatever it is they have become my arch nemesis plyo move. Suicides I can do, they’re very similiar (touch the floor side to side) so apprently the combo of touching the floor AND jumping & reaching up just annihiliates me. Anyway, what I’m most likely doing during Hit the Floors is attempting the actual move 4 times or so and doing some sort of modification that probably looks like Suicides for the rest of the time. Is that ok? I guess it will have to be!

So if anyone is reading this because they’re considering starting the program, the workouts are a mixture of highs, lows, accomplishments, frustration and a whole lotta hard work. There are times where my body just doesn’t agree with what I want it to do. If you want more detail on each of the workouts this site really breaks it down and helped me prepare for just what I was getting into.

My second Fit Test is coming up in 2 days. I’m nervous but anxious to see if I’ve made an improvement. I don’t think I’ve shared before, so here are my results from the first round on Day 4:

Switch Kicks: 115

Power Jacks: 44

Power Knees: 94

Globe Jumps (1=4 total jumps): 9

Suicide Kicks: 17

Push Up Jacks: 15 (Admitting it’s almost impossible to do one with perfect form)

Low Plank Oblique: 68

I keep my schedule and results tracked on one big sheet. While I was putting it together, I found the first and last results of Tanya and the other guy who does the Fit Test with ST. Based on that, I estimated where my goal should be by checking out where Tanya was, so I prefilled my Final Goal before I had even taken the test. The good news is that I beat 2 of my final goals in the first round… Switch Kicks and Low Plank Obliques. Had to readjust!

I am off to Week 3. Jumping (literally) right back into it with Pure Cardio tomorrow morning!

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insanity diaries – day 8

They say it takes 3 weeks to break a habit. Or, even better, make a new habit. If that’s the case, then the first full week must be the hardest so I’m thrilled to report that I’ve successfully made it through Week 1 of Insanity!  I’ll admit that I was most apprehensive about making it through a weekend and sticking to my meal plan in situations where I could easily go overboard, but I stuck to my schedule with only a couple of exceptions so I’m feeling confident and healthy.

On the subject of eating, I think the biggest challenge for me is being at home and hungry, especially unsupervised.  I don’t mean to sound like an over-eating shut-in as I’m writing this but really what I mean is I am used to borderline starving myself all week so when the weekend arrives, I see it as an opporunity to reward myself and I can go a bit crazy with the snacking. It had become routine for my boyfriend and I to load up on mostly healthy snacks each weekend (all natural tortilla chips, organic salsa, whole wheat pita chips, natural frozen coconut pops, dark chocolate bars, etc.) and we would basically munch our way through Saturday and Sunday. Usually with one or two meals out in between. What I’ve learned is this can easily add up as extra, unnecessary food intake and sabotage all the good I’ve done all week. Technically, the weekend represents up to 30% of a week so if your eating habits are spotty like mine you may not see the results you hoped for.

And I’m not even going to get into alcohol. Yikes.

So this past weekend I wanted to be extra disciplined and plan out my days as much as I could so I could take a couple of opportunities to indulge, if  nothing more than to reward myself for completing Week 1 of Insanity and make sure my body had an opportunity to replenish any nutrients I may have missed during the week. I ate flawlessly until Saturday night when I ate out with my mom at an Italian restaurant. This could be sabotage but luckily I ordered a dish that was very buttery so I only ended up eating some chicken, spinach, and a piece (or 2) of Italian bread. Believe me, I am usually a lot worse. And I only had one glass of wine. This was on top of a fairly light day of eating and also the workout of the day Pure Cardio which is a real burner.

Sunday and Monday (Presidents Day Holiday) followed suit – 80-90% good eating, 10-20% cheat. I think this was due for the most part to planning meals and snacks ahead of time and having something substantial (300-400 calories) to eat every 2-3 hours.

I had my first Rest day on Sunday and boy I needed it. My calves no longer feel like knots and I was eager to jump into Week 2 yesterday. So far I have completed all the workouts that I’ll be alternating during the first 4 weeks of the program (with the exception of Cardio Abs which I add on Day 14). Today my scheduled workout was Cardio Power & Resistance and I think it’s my least favorite of all. The name makes you think it may be a bit  of a break but it’s not and the actual workout is segmented by 3 intervals of 4 power moves and it doesn’t seem to go by as fast as the others. Tomorrow will be my second go-round of Pure Cardio so I’m starting to mentally prepare myself. If you read Day 5 you will know why!

Overall this week I have been feeling strong, slim, and light. And I’ve noticed I don’t feel as hungry or off-balance as I did through Week 1. It seems last week there was an adjustment period where my body was getting used to a higher intensity workout every day and also a shifted diet plan. But my advice to those trying to push through is that it will be no time until you’re past it and feeling amazing. It feels like my body has switched to overdrive and is accepting of the activity level and efficient on the amount of calories I’m having each day. Big difference!

My only reservation at this point is that I will not be running for the next 8 weeks. Actually, during our week in Florida I will have plenty of consecutive days of running but I have built that around my Insanity schedule. Running to me is the epitome of fitness level, perhaps since that’s where I started a decade ago. If I can get through a couple miles of straight running then I am on the top of my game and improving. A successful workout plan without running feels foreign to me, almost like swimming with your clothes on. I guess I just need to get used to the idea and hopefully I will see what results I can get without a minute in the gym. Prior to Insanity, I have incorporated interval training into my running days and seen an encouraging difference in endurance and speed. I suppose the downside to Insanity is that you may set aside the other fitness goals you have set for yourself, but I’m optimistic that the results with this program will out-do anything I could do on a treadmill.


insanity diaries – day 5

Just completed my FIFTH official day of Insanity workouts!! Woohoo. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1. P90X Plyo (I cheated) 2. Cardio Power & Resist 3. Plyo Cardio Circuit 4. Cardio Recovery & Fit Test 5. Pure Cardio

Today (Pure Cardio) was by far the most insane of them all. As I mentioned before, once you get through with the warm-up (cardio & stretching) you only have 20 minutes left on the clock so you’re thinking, no sweat! The actual workout in Pure Cardio is just over 15 minutes long but it is straight out 1-minute cardio intervals. Anyone familiar with interval training like myself will tell you that 30-second intervals can actually be breezy (Jillian Michael’s typically uses these, especially in her new videos). 45-second intervals are a bit more challenging, and it really depends on how what intensity of exercise you’re doing.

1-minute intervals are down right brutal. Especially after a warm-up that includes moves like ‘Heismans’ and ‘Mummy Kicks.’

Unlike the other videos I’ve tried so far from the Insanity line-up, none of the moves in Pure Cardio are repeated. 15 minutes straight of intervals may not be that bad however he starts you off with Switch Kicks and Suicides and brings you home with Suicide Jumps and Push Up Jacks. Woof.

But I’m alive! And loving it. If I wasn’t a seasoned vet in terms of plyo stuff and interval training I can confidently say I would never make it through these. I’m not sure this program is designed for people who are moderately to significantly overweight or who haven’t seen a gym in years. Most of the moves are ultra advanced and you’re pressured to move FAST. Often times I find myself wondering if I compromise form or speed in order to see the most improvement. This feels more like what can we do to kick the TRAINERS ass? Sounds like some of the  participants in the video are trainers or spin instructors. And they are dying.

So how am I feeling so far? For the most part great. Other than feeling a bit under the weather for two days, I felt like I was coming down or fighting a bug. It did cross my mind that it may be my body adjusting to a shift in workout intensity and also eating patterns but I had that throaty/achy feeling that’s unmistakable for a virus of some sort. Feeling a bit better today and I’ve been determined to not miss a workout.

More than anything, I’m focused on eating right – planning ahead and not deviating from a set schedule. Insanity comes with an eating guide, I’m not following that exactly but the idea I’m going for is to have 300-400 calories every 2-3 hours. My diet each day has looked something like this:

7am: 1 egg/2 egg white omlette w/mushrooms, spinach, avacado. A bit of cheese, 80-100 calorie whole wheat bread, splash of ketchup.

10am: Serving of plain 0% Greek Yogurt with almond butter & strawberries

12pm: Hearty serving of homemade Turkey Chili with a slide of whole wheat bread, 1 medium apple

3pm: 1 pouch organic flax oatmeal (or any all natural, low sodium/sugar alternative) with walnut pieces

6pm: Tufu, veggies with whole wheat pasta seasoned with salt-free Mrs Dash (Fiesta Lime is the shiz)

8pm: 1 VitaMuffin Top – soo good!

Not sure how many calories but since I’m not new to controlling a diet, I’m trying to listen to my body and eat when it’s hungry. We’ve all read about the idea that when your body isn’t getting enough calories it can go to a semi or full-on starvation mode which is actually even worse than eating too much since everything you eat will be stored as fat. No fun! The Insanity workouts are fairly quick, only 40 mins or so in the first 4 weeks of the program so I’m not sure how many calories you’re burning but what I do know is jump-training ignites metabolism. I’m certainly more hungry than usual, so over the next week or so I plan to tweak my diet until I find the perfect balance.

In terms of body composition, I am feeling quite lean. Perhaps because this past week was my ‘lady week’ and I always feel extra fresh after going through that, but I do feel strong and lean. My body hasn’t been too sore, except for my calves. They have felt like knots each morning, but not so bad this morning. Other than that, I do feel a bit worn down but not sore in any other area. I’m not sure that I’m expecting to be ripped since there’s no strength training involved but with lots of lower-body explosive movements I’m anxious to see how I can transform those problem areas.

Although the Fit Test doesn’t ask you to take measurements, I’ve added a few to my Insanity calendar that I will track each day I do the Fit Test. Here’s where I am as of Day 4:

Bust: 33 1/4″ Waist: 27″ Hips: 38 1/4″ Upper Arm: 11″ Mid Thigh: 20 3/4″

Upper arms and hips are probably where I’m looking to change the most.

Tomorrow is my first rest day I’m pumped!


insanity diaries – day 2

Am I crazy?!? I may be.

From what I gather, I’m not the only one. Beachbody workout programs seem to be all the craze. Starting with P90x and most recently with the release of Insanity, apparently the most  hard-core of them all. What piqued my interest (along with my boyfriends) was a late night infomercial for P90. First off, let me take a step back and say a little bit more about myself.

I’m 26 years old and have been working out for years – 10 I think? Starting in high school with 20 minutes or so every few days running on the treadmill. Eventually I became comfortable with the weight room and dabbled in basic weight training and mat ab work. Fast forward to my college years, and I found myself at all sorts of gym classes. Kickboxing, ab and bum blasters, Pilates and even tai chi. At this point I was doing around half an hour of cardio a day followed by 15-20 mins of weight training, with a couple of days here and there of Pilates. Post college things changed quite a bit. The last thing I wanted to spend money on was a gym membership, so I had to be creative.  I moved to Boston in 2007, this is when On-Demand became popular through my cable provider and Exercise TV really turned out to be a god-send (the website is just as amazing http://www.exercisetv.tv). As part of my subscription I was able to view full-length workout videos which helped increase my fitness level and test my body in new ways. In no time I was officially a huge Jillian Michael’s fan, the concept of jump training blew my mind and I quickly became addicted to high intensity workouts. This is also around the time I first gave yoga a shot and learned all sorts of new ways to use my body, I was really inspired by how yoga defined parts of me I had never seen before and how much more dynamic a practice it can be than Pilates.

Needless to say, over the past few years  I’ve carved out a significant spot in my life for fitness and always find myself looking for the next instructional video to challenge me physically and mentally. I religiously workout every morning, 6 out of 7 days a week. Yes, there have been plateaus, yes there have been times when I haven’t been inspired as much as others, but overall pushing myself physically has become an official and unplanned outlet and destination in my life.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to start any sort of blog for the past few weeks, if for nothing more than a creative outlet. At the same time, it seems I always feel an underlying nag to completely re-vamp my life. My diet, my body, my appearance, work, location….I could go on and on.  Why don’t other people feel this way? Is everyone so happy or at least satisfied with the status quo that they don’t constantly stretch their mind for ways to improve their life?

Anyway, enter Insanity. Am I unreasonably attached to Jillian Michael’s DVDs? Yes. Do I have a Bob Harper DVD that’s still in the wrapper, yet I can’t wait to try it? Yup. Do I think the Beachbody videos are a tad cheasy and cliche? Perhaps. But one thing I’ve learned from self-improvement is to always have an open mind because you never know how things will work out or what will actually make you happy. So I am in! All or nothing baby. I need something to shock my system (both mentally and physically) and since I’ve become strangely addicted to the way it feels to be strong and toned, Insanity felt right up my alley.

So I have a confession. You are supposed to complete the Fit Test on Day 1. I cheated a  bit (or maybe actually pushed it) and did the Plyo video from P90x. Just to get a taste, and decide which program was right for me. Also, my boyfriend joined the fun just to see what the fuss was about. My impression of P90 was too slow and more geared toward men or those who aren’t used to killing themselves at least a couple times a week. If I was going to make a huge difference I wanted to really feel it, feel like I’m going to die. I decided Insanity sounded like more of fit for me, so I began today with Cardio Power & Resistance.

Can I just say that I am not a fan of warm-ups. I usually fast forward to the actual workout if nothing more than to save time. You don’t want to do that with these, the warm-ups are essential and definitely part of the workout if you are looking to maximize calorie burn. All in, the warm-up in this video was close to 15 minutes. The first section was comprised of 3 sets of 8 cardio moves that really fire up your heart rate. Then a brief stretching section. You are literally almost halfway through the workout by the time the warm-up is through. I wasn’t dying as I’ve read in other reviews, but I felt it. The rest of the workout consists of 2 circuits: 3 sets of 4 strength/jump/cardio moves that increase in pace with each round. He also throws in a couple sets in between the circuits so just when you think it’s over, think again.  I skipped the cooldown because I was late for work.

Cardio Power & Resistance was exactly what I expected. There were certainly points where I wanted to die and I had to modify some moves (especially the Hit the Floor and Moving Push-Ups).  Since I’m a Jillian Michaels snob, it did feel like the sequence lacked substance and purpose – just a bunch of crazy cardio moves strung together to make sure the majority of users feel like this is the most ‘insane’ workout they’ve ever done. I always feel with Jillian, the workouts, down to the moves and length of each, are well thought out and purposeful.

I’ve put together my own workout and progress calendar which I will share later and do plan on completing the Fit Test on Day 4. Tomorrow is the Plyometric Cardio Circuit, which based on today’s ‘strength’ video will probably be just short of first degree murder. Wish me luck!