Thursday, March 5, 2009


Last fall, my doctor told me that I was healthy, but I might want to watch my cholesterol because it was getting a little high. I was really quite surprised, because I’d always had low cholesterol, plus I was dedicated to (felt guilty if I didn’t) exercise and ate (somewhat) healthy foods. In retrospect, I’m betting the test gave an inaccurate result, but hey, whatever boots you in the bum…

So I did 2 things: I started eating Cheerios almost every morning and I added Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred to my daily workout. This was on November 10, and I’ve missed a total of 3 days: the day I had food poisoning, Christmas, and Oscars Sunday (I waited too long to get things moving that day, and I did end up doing my own modified Shred by doing my favorite moves from the various levels for about half an hour). I’m at the point where I really do feel guilty if I don’t get it done daily (why yes, I do have an overdeveloped sense of guilt; right now I feel guilty for messing around on the computer instead of cleaning my house).

I started out with level 1 for the first 4 weeks, and then moved on to level 2. I only had 1 pound weights until Christmas, so that’s what I used (I’ve since acquired 2 pound and 3 pound weights). Looking back, it was good to work up to the higher weights so I could concentrate on getting the moves right (or as close as possible). Level 3 scared the heck outta me, even though I’d never seen it. I just mentally shoved it out of the way. I did finally bite the bullet and try it sometime in January.

Level 2 is my go-to level, the one I do the most. It feels like the routine that challenges the whole of me the most. I do Level 3 occasionally, particularly on days when my exercise schedule doesn’t include much else, and Level 1 when I want to concentrate on the cardio a little more and not get down in that evil plank pose so much. It shakes things up a bit, or at least I hope it does so I can keep going with positive effects.

Here’s my breakdown of the 3 workouts:

Level 1 – I was sore for a solid week when I started this. I pushed through, but it was s-l-o-w going for awhile. Eventually, the soreness started to dissipate and I began to feel like I was actually capable and worthy of being a DOJ (Disciple of Jillian). Maybe not. Pushups are evil, and I will never do them well, but I try. I actually like the side lunges. And these ab circuits seem to be the hardest cumulatively, to me.

Level 2 – This is the total body workout for me. The first circuit is a true beating (squat thrusts, help me!), but by the time I get to the pendulum lunges, I’m on a roll. It’s a kick (ha!) to see if I can stand up for the whole military press / leg kick segments, but double jump rope, you can keep. Bleah. The plank twists at the end I never would have thought of as an ab exercise, so it’s a nice change of pace.

Level 3 – Meh. I’m not a fan. The rule follower part of me thinks level 3 must be harder than levels 1 and 2, by virtue of a bigger number in the title, so of course it has to be the most effective and I should aspire to doing it most of the time. But I just don’t like it. To me, there are too many ups and downs in the intensity level. The jumping lunges are extremely challenging, and don’t get me started on the evils of jump squats and rock star jumps (oh my knees). But in between are segments that don’t do much for me, challenge-wise or motivationally (the squat presses of level 1 seem harder than dumbbell cleaves). From what I’ve been reading, lots of folks think of the levels as different but still challenging, not consecutively more intense.

So I’ll continue with the daily torture because I am seeing some results. I hate to admit that I haven’t really changed my diet (I try to eat a healthy diet, but I do have a sweet tooth and a carb tooth), and yet my pants are much looser than when I started. If I can work on the food side of things, it would be better yet.
I’m sure I’ve bored most everybody reading this, but this is for those of you familiar with Jillian and her home-based beatings. It’s nice to know there are a lot of others taking a heaping helping, be it daily or several times a week. I am most privileged to be sweating along with some great folks under the tutelage of such a wickedly effective sergeant.

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