Four years ago I lost 42 lbs. I went from a size 14 to a size 6. Great, right? The problem is that I lost all of this weight during a maximally stressful time in my life. I lost it because I was living on Marlboro Lights and Coke Zero–not exactly a healthy diet plan. So I found myself skinny for the first time in 13 years, but with no real way to manage it. Within six months I was a size 8, but I was fine with that. I was making better food choices and that was working for me, but I was fairly sedentary.
A year after I lost the weight, still at a size 8, I quit smoking. I had been working from home for a decade, so my schedule had a lot of flexibility. I joined the Y and started working out some and swimming. I managed to stay in my size 8’s, though they got a little more snug. Some big life changes happened and I went back to the world of working 40 hours (at least!) every week outside my home. Then I enrolled in college, and promptly slowed down and then stopped working out and swimming. The next year wasn’t too bad, I was so busy that I didn’t really have time to eat much. But I became increasingly more sedentary as I began to spend all of my spare time studying.
March 29, 2013 marked 3 years out from my last cigarette. The only size 8’s I can still wear have a lot of Lycra or spandex mixed in. The first warm day came last month and I tried to put on something from my summer wardrobe–nothin’ doin’. Not one single thing in my summer wardrobe fit me. I could still button a couple of my jeans, but the “muffin top” was enough to make me cry and I was so uncomfortable.
The biggest obstacle I face in weight management is that I cannot eat gluten. Don’t ask me to tell you what foods I cannot have, because the list of foods I CAN have is much, much shorter. So there is not a weight loss plan out there that I can follow. Even Weight Watchers would not give me enough food choices to make it possible for me to stick to the diet–I looked into it. I only have one size of clothing in my closet. Part of no longer being a size 14 is getting rid of your size 14 clothing, which I did 4 years ago. I have no budget for a new wardrobe. Now what?
Enter Jillian Michaels. I have never been much on exercise classes. I don’t like slamming into other people while I’m trying to workout, and I don’t like having to learn a bunch of fancy dance moves made up by the instructor of the week. I don’t have much time to throw at my workouts, so I need maximum results for a minimum investment of time. I started doing Internet research and I found really great user reviews on the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. There are 3 levels of workouts. This is not because Jillian doesn’t want you to get bored. You have to do Level 1 until you’re strong enough to move on to Level 2. If you’re looking to be entertained, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for fancy dancing and chatting with a friend while you’re doing this, look elsewhere. This is a SERIOUS workout. For the first week I screamed curse words at the television, but I hung in there. You only work out for 25 minutes including warm-up and cool down, but you work. You get out of it what you put into it. If you stop and rest, you might as well look elsewhere. You won’t get the results you want. She has someone doing lower impact, modified versions of all the moves behind her at all times. If you can’t do the full move, do the modified version but don’t stop moving.
Today is day 18 for me. I did level 1 for a week, level 2 for a week, and I’ve been on level 3 for 4 days. By the end of the first week my strength and endurance had increased drastically. I was blown away at what had happened in only 7 days. I stopped screaming curse words at the television. All I did was keep on moving through the whole 25 minutes every day. Some interesting things had begun to happen; I had started to crave this workout. The endorphin boost is addictive. I also started making better choices about what I eat. I’m not dieting. Gluten free is all the diet I can ever do. I just make better choices. After I hump and sweat through this routine, I don’t really want to chow on some fattening empty calories. But, Friday night is pizza night at my house. I go down to Monical’s Pizza and get myself a gluten free sausage and mushroom individual pizza, and I eat it. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy, so I choose lower carb lower calorie foods during the day and eat what my family eats at dinner. 18 days into this I’ve lost about an 1 1/2 inches off my waist and off each of my thighs. My arms are slimmer and have more definition. There is no more cellulite in my armpits. I can now wear about half of the cloths I could not wear 3 weeks ago. My muffin top from hell is not gone but it’s down to one small roll and getting smaller every day. Today I was able to do things in the level 3 workout that I could not do 3 days ago. I feel better than I’ve felt in years.
It’s pretty basic calisthenics. Jillian is an expert in how to burn the most calories, work the most muscle groups simultaneously, and keep it simple enough for even someone with “two left feet”. This is not for the weak-willed. You have to push through the pain. There weren’t really any negative reviews on this workout, but the few negative things I read were people who got bored of doing the same routine every day for a week or 10 days. Or people who didn’t like how hard they had to work so they cheated and then wondered why they didn’t get results. I was just happy when I could finally do what Jillian and Natalie were doing! I’m not here to be entertained. I’m here to be healthy, and skinny! And that’s happening. One caveat: don’t expect massive weight loss. A gallon of fat only weighs 5 pounds. This routine turns your fat into muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. So worry more about how your cloths fit and how your body looks, and stay off the scale. I haven’t weighed myself at all. I don’t have a weight goal. I have a clothing size goal. So if I fit into my cloths and they look nice on me, I really don’t care what the scale says.
You don’t even have to go out and buy the DVD. All of the workouts are on YouTube. I get YouTube through my DirecTV satellite service so I do these workouts for free right in my living room. You only need about a 3′ x 6′ space. You can get YouTube on your computer, tablet, or smartphone for free. If you need to buy the DVD, it’s only $10 at Walmart. While you’re there, grab some cheap hand weights. I have a set of 3lb and 5lb. They’re about $4 to $5 each. It was 5 days before I could even use the weights in the routine. I recommend watching each video once before you start the level so you know exactly what to do and can concentrate on just doing it. You don’t want to be looking at the television while doing some of these exercises–it’s very bad for the neck. That’s why she keeps it simple. If you’ve watched it once or twice you know what to do. I watched the level 3 video 10 days ago and thought “no way am I ever going to be able to do that!” 10 days later, I’m doing it. This works if you work it.
To your health!