The response from my 30-Day Shred results post was overwhelming. First, it was the highest viewed post ever for this little blog. Second, your words of encouragement, received via email, blog comments, Facebook, etc. meant so much to me as I continue my journey. The fact that I might possibly inspire anyone to do anything remotely healthy is beyond unbelievable, considering my sordid history with fast food and couch potatoitis. It seems that my struggles resonate with so many of you, and I thank you for sharing yours with me in whatever format you chose.
God is gracious for blessing me with the forum for sharing.
I wanted to follow-up that post with some Frequently Asked Questions that have been posed to me by a number of readers throughout the past 30 days. Well, okay, I wanted to follow it up with a Peanut Butter Cake post, but I’m going to follow it up like this. Don’t worry. The cake will come in time, too.
My answers to your questions are based on what works for me. I learned what works for me primarily through experiencing what doesn’t. What works for me may not be what works for you. The beauty of humanity is that we are all different. Heck, what’s working for me right now may not even work next week! However, if anyone can profit from my lessons learned, please do.
1. Did you Shred every day?
No. I Shredded six days per week, Monday through Saturday. Sunday at our house is a Sabbath in the truest sense of the word. We sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, attend worship at church, come home, eat lunch, then rest for the entire afternoon (read: the Diva plays Barbies). Sometimes we take a drive. Do people do that anymore, or do we just do it because there’s nothing else to do here in the boonies?
Anyway, what that means is that, technically, I only Shredded 26 days out of the 30. I’m okay with that. I got results anyway. My Sabbath was blessed.
2. What’s The Shred like?
The Shred is unlike anything I’ve done before. It begins with a warm-up, then progresses through three circuits followed by a brief cool down. The entire thing lasts less than 30 minutes. Each circuit is exactly 6 minutes long: 3 minutes of strength training, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute of ab work. There are three levels. You’ve seen my ‘before’ pictures. If, at my former size, I can do it, then anyone can Shred.
3. Is there alot of jumping? I have knee/back/ankle/hip problems and can’t do alot of jumping.
In level 3 there are some jumping moves (plyometrics); however, there is, in every level, a lower-impact modification. Don’t worry about not being able to jump. Just keep moving. Perfection, much to my chagrin, is not the goal. Just keep going. If you need a break, stop for 5 seconds and get back in the game. I’ve taken lots of 5-second breaks. Usually on my face, on the floor, wiping sweat, and talking at God. Not to Him. Not with Him. At Him.
Sancitification is as much a process as weight-loss.
4. What kind of equipment do I need?
If you are working on carpet, you’ll just need hand weights. I began with 2 lb. weights and progressed to 5 lbs., making a pit stop at 3 lbs., as I felt like I could handle more. I bought the weights at WalMart in the exercise section, a section I’ve recently discovered they have there. Who knew? Before The Shred, I generally hung out by the bakery. The weights are not expensive at all. If you’re working on a hard floor, which is my preference, you’ll need a yoga mat. Also WalMart. Also not expensive. If you get a yoga mat, get some Lysol, too. Lordy, the sweat that one of those things absorbs is a recipe for bacterial disaster. The Shred dvd itself I bought at Amazon for about 8 bucks. Total investment: under $30. Lots cheaper than a gym because I’ll be reusing the weights and mat this month as I get Ripped.
5. How do you know when you’re ready to go on to the next level?
The 30-Day Shred is called 30-Day for a reason. 30 days, 3 levels. Do the math. “But what if I’m not ready?” you say. If you’re truly not ready, then give yourself some more time; however, move on even if you’re not perfect at the level on which you are working. Push yourself. Your body is stronger than you may think it is. Listen to it.
6. What do you eat?
I eat about 1400-1500 calories per day. I DO NOT count them religiously. That stresses me out. I generally eat 400-ish for breakfast, 400-ish for lunch, 200-ish for a mid-afternoon snack, and 400-ish for dinner. This is based on Mama Jillian’s recommendation. She says your metabolism works best this way. That ‘eating a little all day’ thing is for the birds. I’ve got stuff to do.
I eat a banana each morning, then exercise, then eat breakfast. Studies show that the exercise is more effective this way. If I’m going to bust my hump, then I want maximum effectiveness.
I try to mix carbs and protein. For example, for breakfast, I’ll have a half-up of oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter stirred in. Or oatmeal with two scrambled eggs on the side. Not egg whites. Eggs. Real eggs. When I go to the doctor for my cholesterol screening, we’ll see if I still get my eggs.
For lunch, I like tuna salad (tuna, hardboiled egg, sugar-free sweet pickle relish, nonfat mayo or, even better, hummus) with crackers (Zesta, woot! or Melba toast). Carbs and protein.
Snacks are usually more protein-only. Oscar Mayer deli-sliced lunchmeat, cheese, almonds. Maybe more oatmeal (obviously not protein-only). It’s good and good for you.
Dinner is whatever my family is having, sometimes with a slight modification. For example, the other night they wanted Chicken ‘n’ Dumplin’s. I ate them. I didn’t eat nearly as much as they did, but I was still plenty full. Carbs and protein. When the Diva wants a hot dog, I have one too. One. Just one. And I have fruit on the side instead of chips. Fruit is a staple in my diet: apples, bananas, fresh pineapple, and strawberries are in my house right now. I like grapes, too, though. If I want the chips, though, I just add about 4 or 5 to my fruit on the side of my plate. I really only want the taste, and 4 or 5 covers that.
Eating out is a challenge. I have a few ‘safe’ places I go where I know the calorie counts of particular things I like. I can get a Wendy’s Double Stack (minus onion, add lettuce and tomato) for 350 calories. And a buck. What a deal. I can get a Five Guys (woot!) little cheeseburger for about 450 calories. No fries. Just the burger. And water. A fry-less existence, as it turns out, will not kill you. Thirty days ago I did not know this.
I don’t eat sugar. No cake. No candy. No pie. No cookies. No ice cream. No pancakes. Nothing with processed sugar. This is bad when I make sugar cookies (and I did) because both the dough and the cookies are the food of oppression. This is what a captor would feed his captive in order to keep him bound with no ropes. Really.
I also limit my salt intake. Chips are a treat. Like I said, I only get about 5 at a time. Because I limit both salt and sugar, I don’t have cravings.
I flush my food with gallons of water per day. Probably between 2 and 3. One cup of decaf green tea. No coffee. No soda. No sweet tea.
No eating after dinner.
If I had read this food plan thirty days ago, I would think it was severe and not doable for me. Now? No sweat. It’s my new normal. Normal is very different around here, which is necessary. You know the definition of insanity, right?
7. Do you take vitamins or supplements?
Nope and nope. I probably should, though. I hear they’re good for you. I did do the Jillian Michaels Detox and Cleanse series. It’s two weeks of caplets that cause one to, um, be purified if you catch my drift. There’s lots of cleansing. She has a few of these different products. I got the one that was on sale for 67% off at the Walgreens and had no caffeine in it. Watch those things. They’re full of caffeine generally. Bad for your pressure.
8. How difficult was The Shred for you?
During my first workout, I was sure I was going to die. My heart was beating faster than it ever has before, tapping out Morse Code for “What the heck are you doing to me? Get me a cheeseburger!” quickly. At the end, every muscle in my body was quivering, and I thought my legs were going to buckle. Day two wasn’t much better. I was sure buckling was coming. Day three: another buckling scare. By day four, though, I started to recover. From then on, I got stronger every day. Each time I moved up a level, there was more muscle quivering, but never as badly as on day one, and it quickly went away (within a day or two).
Being gung-ho about getting fit, I was tempted to walk or jog in the evenings. I refrained, choosing instead to save my strength for The Shred. Good choice.
9. What’s the best part of The Shred?
In addition to losing weight and inches quickly? The way my skin looks and feels. There’s something about breaking a sweat (and there’s lots of sweating with The Shred) that causes one’s skin to glow. My skin is soft, clear, and bright. I love that.
10. How often do you weigh/measure?
My original intent was to weigh, measure, and take pictures only on days 1 and 30. I did only weigh on days 1 and 30. The Diva confiscated my scales, per my instruction. I took pictures, however, on days 1, 17, and 30. I needed a midway, am-I-making-any-progress boost. It worked for me. I measured from time to time, but not obsessively. Official measurements were only taken on days 1 and 30.
11. Do you have any tips for a beginner Shredhead?
Absolutely. Invest in some good workout clothes that contain Spandex and, ladies, a good sports bra. I got mine at Kohl’s, but you can get them in lots of places. When you’re jumping around, the, how shall I say this, less the amount of ‘movement’ there is, the easier it is to do the exercise. Tight, but not too tight workout clothes, even if they’re embarassing, are necessary. I’m not asking you to go to a trendy L.A. gym in head-to-toe spandex. You’re at home. Exercise alone. I promise that, after a few days of pouring sweat, you won’t care less who sees you. On a cool day, after I’ve Shredded, I go stand on my deck and let the wind carry my sweat away.
I feel so strong after punching at Jillian for a half-hour that I dare anyone to say something to me.
I think that covers about all the questions I’ve received; however, if you have others, please comment them here or email them to me, and I’ll respond. Many of you have bought The Shred recently as a result of reading about my journey. If you get into it and find that you develop questions, please let me know. I’ll do my best to help and encourage you.
Here’s one I thought of that you didn’t ask: What about a support system?
I happen to have a live-in cheering section. Big Daddy, when he’s not Shredding along with me (or at 3 a.m., which is his preferred time to Shred…God bless him), brings me water, a towel, and a word of encouragement. The Diva, a professional cheerleader, is my number one fan. Several times during each exercise session she can be heard saying, “Go, Mommy!” or “You’re doing great!” She says these things because she’s social and needs to interact with others and knows that, during those 30 minutes each day, I’m not capable of conversation. She’s decided to teach herself how to be an A-number-1 encourager.
It’s part of a total homeschooling curricular package, really.
Grateful for the opportunity to inspire,