Let’s Get Physical, Physical

All in the name of fitting into a wedding dress while feeling good about myself, I started exercising almost immediately after Mr. Ladyfingers put a ring on it. I’d never been much of an exerciser, nor a dieter. I’ve been lucky to have never struggled with body image, unlike so many of my friends, but for about a year before the engagement, I’d really been letting myself go. When my clothes stopped fitting me, when I started eating a candy bar and a bag of chips every day, when I grabbed fast food on my way from one place to another 4 out of 7 days a week, when I bought Ben and Jerry’s by the twos and sometimes even ate 2 dinners in one night – one at around 5 and another at 10 when I got home… well, it made me feel super crappy about myself.

Image via My Cat Hates You

I’d promised various things over the years, and never followed through on any of them. I walked for about three days back in ’05, and stopped because it rained on the fourth day. I accompanied a couple of different friends over the years on free gym passes, and quit because gyms freak me out. I vowed to start taking yoga classes, but could never find the money or the time. But now, I was willing.

One late night, when were in Wal-Mart buying the latest version of Trivial Pursuit, I made an impulse buy: Two Jillian Michaels DVDs, a yoga DVD, and some 5-pound weights.

After six-ish months of working out sorta regularly, I’m here to share with you what’s worked, what hasn’t, and how I feel about my pre-wedding day fitness extravaganza.

(Disclaimer: I’m not a trainer, or a doctor, or even mildly knowledgable about fitness or the human body, so this post isn’t intended to serve as workout advice. You’ve been warned!)

Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred

Image via Amazon.com

30-Day Shred is based on circuit training (I think). You do one round of exercises, repeat it, and move onto the next round. 30DS is split into three phases; the intention is you take about 10 days to “master” each phase before moving onto the next. Each workout is only about 25 minutes, but it’s a super intense 25 minutes. I never thought I could sweat so much in my entire life — and I drove a black car with no AC in Florida for three years, so that’s some serious sweating. She alternates cardio and core work with weights, which supposedly helps you burn a lot faster.

I seriously started seeing results RIGHT away. As in, within a couple of days. I’m not claiming this is typical! But because I’d been sedentary for, um, 30 years, it didn’t take much to make small inroads on my hip padding and that roll developing at the back of my natural waist.

Soon, though, I grew bored. I didn’t exactly master phases 1 or 2 – I was still doing modified versions of each of the exercises – but I decided to move on and Jillian’s Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism.

Jillian Michaels’ Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism

Image via Amazon.com

This absolutely took things up a notch. This workout is roughly 40 minutes, not including warm up and cool down, and again uses circuit training to keep blood flowing constantly to different parts of your body. There’s no weights in this one, with the exercises using your body’s own resistance to build strength and muscles. You don’t move from phase to phase, either, although the DVD has options for only doing certain circuits.

There are six circuits in this one – kickboxing, plyometrics (or jump training), calisthenics (running in place, jumping jacks), core work, and then kickboxing/plyo/calisthenics again. It took me many days before I could get through the entire 40 minutes, much less without taking breaks. But I REALLY loved this one – I always felt super proud of myself when I finished it, and each move doesn’t really last that long, so it was easy for me to push myself because I knew it was almost over.

The Jillian combo package

Eventually, I started alternating 30-Day Shred and BFBM… and then I hit a snag. I hurt my ankle one night, and kept working out the following night. I ended up with a swollen useless pathetic limb, and couldn’t work out for about 2 weeks. But in that two weeks, I *missed* working out. Woo-hoo! I’d officially rewired my brain chemistry.


Image via Amazon.com

Once my ankle recovered, I decided to move to the next level of intensity: P90X. Mr. Ladyfingers had lost about 30 pounds in six months on these DVDs, and I liked that each day has a different focus so you don’t strain yourself. It helps that there’s a few-days break between the upper body DVDs, for example, because my little twig arms cannot do pushups for too many days in a row.

I started with the Lean routine, which is designed to build lean muscle rather than bulk. Here’s what I love about home-based workouts (aside from not having to display my clumsiness to anyone outside Mr. Ladyfingers, our cat, and our dog): there’s a rotating cast of quirky characters in every DVD, and it’s endlessly entertaining. I’d find myself saying things to Mr. Ladyfingers like, “I just noticed last time I did Core that Dreya totally tries to hug Adam, and he kinda blows her off and then goes to give Pam a hug,” or, “Did you notice that Dreya totally starts wiping her brow during the VERY FIRST move in Legs and Back?” or, “Dreya seems so effing proud of herself every time Tony talks to her in Shoulders and Arms. I hate her.”

Notice a pattern? I’m not a big Dreya fan.

I “sort of” finished Lean (did I often skip workout days? Yes. Yes, I did) and now I’m in the middle of P90X Classic. I’m also doing Jillian’s Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism on the P90X Plyo, Cardio and Kenpo days because P90X cardio leaves me shuddering in a corner for hours.

Results? I’ve lost 15 pounds in the past 6 months, and feel leaps and bounds better about myself. My skin looks better, and I feel healthier. I don’t eat junk food (much). I miss working out if I skip it for too many days in a row. I always feel better when I do it, and worse when I don’t.

What’s your pre-wedding fitness routine? Do you have a hard time getting motivated? If this was a new endeavor for you, like it was for me, what have you tried that works, and what doesn’t?


One thought on “Let’s Get Physical, Physical

  1. […] By far, my healthiest habit in 2011 was exercise. Before this year, I could count on two hands the number of times in my life I’d attempted exercise. I guess you could say I wasn’t ready. But still, I had been crying for months because my snack-and-fast food habit had earned me more extra pounds than I was comfortable with and clothes that no longer fit. Enter the engagement — and a concerted effort to drop weight and feel better. […]

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