30 Day Shredded

I finished the 30 Day Shred on Thursday after maintaining a month and change of three days shredding, one day running with only one day off – three days off total so far this year!  I think it’s safe to say that 30DS helped me achieve one of my goals: to establish a solid workout routine.  I shredded when I was hung over.  I shredded when I was sore.  I shredded when I was sick, and I shredded early in the morning when I was going out of town.  And now I’m something approximating shredded:

Post-Shred

I’m bummed that I didn’t take before pictures, as this is one of those instances where a picture really is worth 1,000 words – or at least 1,000 quantitative measurements. After the initial weight loss, the scale barely budged for me. Now, part of that is due to the excess of fondue, steaks, and cocktails I indulged in this month – but part of it is also the fact that muscle weighs more than fat. And I can definitely see better muscle definition all over.

Post-Shred

More important than the muscle definition, though, is the fact that 30DS helped me kick up my endurance in all kinds of crazy ways. Two weeks ago, I logged the longest run I’ve ever done. On my next to last day of shredding, I wasn’t tired when I finished the L3 workout, so I fast forwarded through the intro and then did L1. By the end of my double shred, I was exhausted, but I was also beaming as I did my jumping jacks, so happy with the progress I’ve made, with how much stronger I am than a month ago.

Post-Shred

I feel great. I feel strong. I feel like I maybe even look great and strong. The challenge now is to keep it up – to figure out how to sustain this degree of activity and fitness now that I’m done with the 30DS challenge. My plan for now is to alternate running and shredding until I figure out what I’m doing next – maybe Jillian’s Shred It with Weights if I can find kettlebells? Either way, I’ve made significant progress, and I feel great about that.

Shredding, Week 2

This afternoon I knocked out day 10 of the 30 Day Shred.  Since we last talked about this, I’ve gotten into a four day rotation: three days of shredding, then a day off.  I’ve spent the off days groaning about my soreness and/or going on increasingly long runs, which is an unexpected and pretty fantastic side effect of this process.  For the last few months, my runs were consistently 2-3 miles, but very rarely more than that.  I’ve run outside in my new shoes four times, and three of those – including the two this week – were over four miles.  Easily over four miles.  Comfortably over four miles.  Easily and comfortably to the point that I would’ve gone further if I hadn’t had to finish my runs going uphill into the snow while running on the slushy streets in the growing dark.

Let’s just say that if I wasn’t before, I am now a 30DS convert.  I’ve increased my weights and doubled my pushups in the strength intervals.  I’m a lot less sore than I was a week ago.  I’ve felt great on my runs – minimal soreness and improved stamina, which makes a huge difference when running in these conditions.  I’ve also lost 2.4 pounds and 2.5 inches.  Some of that is almost certainly the receding holiday bloat and the normal shifts during my cycle, but still!  Inches don’t lie.  Neither does the slinky stretchy dress I wore to dinner last night.

I’ve been feeling pretty guilty (and hung over) for most of today because last night was full of all sorts of (delicious gooey melty boozey) excess, but apart from that, I’ve been feeling pretty damned fantastic.  I’m turning 31 tomorrow, and I’m in very nearly the best shape of my life.  I’ll drink to that, though not tonight. 🙂

Winter is On Notice

Today:
40% oppressive black cloud of poor sleep, heavy snow, and full-body soreness
40% exceptional productivity thanks to Pomodoro, which I will no doubt talk about at great length soon
5% eating giant pastry from Graeter’s
5% rescuing Shane and Julian when they got locked out of Julian’s car

The oppressive cloud finally broke about 25 minutes ago, or 5 minutes into my shred.  It is remarkable the difference that exercise makes once I can force myself to do it.  Tonight that forcing involved the promise of a glass of wine and a hot bath, which is good because despite 30 minutes of jumping around in the basement, I still can’t really feel my toes from my venture out in the cold.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get around to the 12 Books round up, or maybe I’ll tell you about Pomodoro, or maybe I’ll bring you up to date on my first week of shredding.  For now, though: bath, wine, and zines.  Stat.

Shredding, days 2 and 3

30DS day two: I’ve been experiencing ongoing deleterious side effects from my NYE indulgence.  I mention this because I woke up feeling digestively terrible, which was only compounded by my extreme soreness from 30DS day one.  My thighs and lower back were screaming at me as I creaked out of bed, called in to work, and crawled back into bed with the heating pad.

Much later in the day and with a couple of small safe meals in my stomach – and goulash on the stove – I took on day two.  Most people who blog, tweet, or otherwise discuss 30DS online refer to their workouts by the level – L1, L2, L3 – and the day of their workout – so today for me was L1D2.  And L1D2 wasn’t quite as hard as L1D1, despite being quite sore.  In fact, I kicked its ass.

Day three was a different story, mostly because I decided to switch up to L2 to give my muscles a break from the repetition of L1.  Here’s the thing: most workout programs build in days for recovery, or switch up activities throughout the program so that you’re not exhausting – or injuring – muscle groups through overwork.  This is one thing that concerns me about 30DS: doing the exact same workout 10 days in a row seems like you’re asking for injury.  Discussion on the Sparkpeople forums seems to indicate that the levels were designed to be done as a part of a workout program, rather than as a stand-alone program – however, this doesn’t seem to be how 30DS is typically done.

Which brings me to a second concern: the packaging for 30DS advertises that you can lose up to 20 pounds in 30 days!  If you’re doing the workout on 30 consecutive days – as seems to be typical – the advertisement would make it seem like you should be losing about half a pound per day.  In order to do that, you’d be burning/cutting 1750 calories per day.

Now, let’s do some math here.  I arbitrarily used Calorie Count to calculate the number of calories that I need to maintain my body weight.  I’m 30 years old, 5’10”, and (after the holidays, ugh) weigh 164 pounds.  In order to get the lowest value, I indicated that I was sedentary – basically, I sit on my ass all day and never exercise.  50% of that is true for me, by the way, and probably for most of you as well.  According to Calorie Count, I need to eat 1853 calories per day to maintain this weight.  This basal metabolic rate (BMR) calculator backs me up.  Remember: in order to lose 1/2 pound of fat per day, you’d have to cut 1750 calories per day.  So for me to lose 1/2 pound of fat per day with 30DS as my only exercise, I should be eating around 353 calories per day.

The point of this story is that I wish those claims were qualified in some way.  If you’re dramatically overweight, starting an exercise program for the first time, and also starting a diet, it’s possible that you could lose 20 pounds in 30 days.  It would not be possible for me to lose 12% of my body weight in 30 days without extreme measures like perhaps cutting off a limb AND ALSO doing 30DS.  My expectations are somewhat more realistic.  And L2 kicked my ass in a serious way.  I’m going back to L1 on Wednesday, and I’m thinking I might take Friday off.

30 Day Shred

I’ve been working out, right?  In an average week, I can get in 2-3 runs (or rides) and an hour or so lifting weights in the basement.  I walk to and from work as often as possible – 2.5 miles each way.  I’m not a lean, mean exercising machine, but I’m certainly leaner and meaner than I was a year ago, much less four years ago when I committed to getting into shape after three months out of commission with a broken arm.

This brings me to the 30 Day Shred, which popped up on a couple of running/fitness blogs I’ve recently started reading.  When I saw the DVD on my sister’s Amazon wish list, I thought, “huh, maybe I should try it” and considered buying myself a copy, but instead just ordered one for her for a non-Christmas present.  (I firmly believe that personal improvement-type gifts are only appropriate if explicitly requested, as otherwise you run the risk of hurt feelings despite your best intentions.)  I was pleasantly surprised, then, to receive two email confirmations from Amazon – one for her DVD, and the other letting me know that included in my purchase was a streaming copy of 30DS.  Bonus!

The concept of 30DS is pretty simple: each workout is comprised of three circuits of three minutes of strength training, two minutes of cardio, and one minute of abs work, plus a few minutes of warming up and cooling down.  There are three workouts (or levels of intensity), and you do each of them for ten days.  If you stick with the workout for 30 days, you’re almost guaranteed to lose both weight and inches – and, more importantly, you’ll have incorporated 20-30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine.

So today, while Shane did one of the harder workouts in his heavy lifting week, I did day one of 30DS.  I was prepared to feel like a total goofball, which to some extent I did, but that was in between groaning through pushups, static lunges, and various other compound lifts that totally wore me out.  Shane gave me some constructive criticism between lifts – and commented that it looked like a tough workout, which made me feel better about the “I’m doing an exercise video with 2.5# weights” thing.

I’m tired.  I’m hungry.  I’m going to try to keep this up.  With the highs back down in the 20s, it’ll be good to have indoor exercise motivation.  My sister’s also doing it, so perhaps we can keep each other shreddin’.  Here’s hoping!