It's been awhile since I did Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred regularly. I still pull it out on days when I'm not running, but it's not the religious experience it once was.
However, while running today, I realized that I've learned several lessons about fitness and health thanks to that DVD. (And listening to Jillian on her radio show, The Biggest Loser, etc.) These changes in thinking have completely altered the way I look at fitness now. Now, I'm not saying that I like exercising more now - I still have to force myself to work out! But for those of you who have done the shred, tell me if these revelations sound a little familiar to you:
1. More time does not always equal more fitness
I used to be someone who thought the longer I worked out, the more weight I'd lose. So I'd tether myself to a treadmill at 3.0 mph tops and stroll along for 45 minutes to an hour, barely breaking a sweat, and congratulate myself at the end for all my hard work. Or in college I'd go lift weights for an hour, taking long breaks between each set, moving slowly from machine to machine as I chatted with my friends.
The truth is, I wasted so much time when I worked out like that. I could have had the same or better results by not resting between sets of weights and pushing myself harder on cardio. The Shred is only 20 minutes - but in that 20 minutes I get a better workout than two hours of the above routine.
2. Complacency will get you nowhere.
If Jillian taught me anything, it's that you have to constantly push your body to make it change. If you can only do 10 push-ups now, and do them everyday, it's likely that 10 push-ups won't be quite as hard a month from now. You have to change the position, or add more push-ups in order to continue making your body work hard.
The same goes for an entire workout. If you do the same workout for the same length of time each time you exercise, eventually your body will grow accustomed to the movements and it will no longer be effective. The Shred has three different workouts, each working your body in different ways, and if you get to the point where one level is easy, you can follow the harder variation on the moves.
3. You can do more than you think you can.
I remember that first time doing the Shred, and I distinctly recall yelling at the TV, "Are you f*cking kidding me!?!?" at one point. After that first time through, I nearly shrugged my shoulders and told myself this was too hard for me. But Jillian's words stuck with me: You're strong! Ain't nothin' you can't do! And as soon as I regained the feeling in my extremities a week later, I tried it again.
With the right motivation, it's possible to push yourself harder than you've ever pushed yourself before. I needed to hear Jillian yelling at me to keep going, don't quit, fight through the pain. Now I try not to let my self-doubt get the best of me. Your mind can help or hinder you - which is it going to be?
4. There's more to progress than numbers on a scale.
Some days my weight really gets me down. I hate it when that number doesn't budge. But even on weeks when the scale isn't moving, I've found other changes I can count on. I'm losing inches. I'm able to do one more push-up than last week. I don't feel like I'm going to vomit after the Shred. See? Lots of ways to measure your progress.
5. Don't go it alone.
Since early March, I've never felt alone when it comes to meeting my goals. The Shred was tough enough (and not at all girly) for my husband to join in for workouts. I also had support from all of you here, and from the Shredheads group. And this network of support has been vital to keeping with it. I'd have never made it a week if I couldn't post my success on Twitter and get nearly instant congrats, or keep myself accountable here, or have someone agree with me that swearing at Jillian on TV can be therapeutic.
So thank you, Jillian Michaels - you gave me the kick in the ass I needed to get moving again and I now know that despite sore knees, a busy schedule, and low self-esteem, I can do it. Four months, several inches off, one dress size down, and nearly 20 pounds lost. That is success.
And if you haven't tried the 30 Day Shred yet, Amazon has it for $6.99 right now!
(This is not a paid review, either. I bought my own copy of the DVD, and was not asked by anyone to give a review. Although meeting Jillian Michaels in person would be a welcome payment.)