Phase 3, Day 63: AAA (aka The Countdown Begins…To The End)

Reality Check: There are only THREE WEEKS left in 80 Day Obsession.

Let that sink in for a moment.

You have only 17 more workouts to get through before you finish the program. For every workout you do this week, you will only have to do it two more times.

At this point in my first 80 Day Obsession journey, I knew immediately I wanted to do it all again. I couldn’t imagine my life without the structure and discipline and challenging workouts.

Now, however, I am looking forward to taking a break. I want a break from the 1/2 Turkish Get-Up with Push-Up Hell. I don’t want to go to the damn zoo every week with Cardio Flow. (Seriously, if the workouts still came on DVDs, I would be burning the Cardio Flow DVD in a backyard bonfire to celebrate.)

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy today’s workout. I absolutely did. I think AAA in Phase 3 is not only my favorite AAA workout of the program, but also my favorite workout in Phase 3 period (though Leg Day runs a close second). Today, you do the three series, consisting of three exercises each, one series at at time for 3 sets of 10 reps each. The pace is quick but manageable. The moves burn in all the right place, and it’s easy to go up in weights if you need to. You even get to spend one entire series on the floor (though that certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy). All in all, AAA is a great way to start the week.

But after I finish these 80 days, I want to do something different. I need to mix it up so that I can come back to this program refreshed and not dreading an entire phase full of renegade rows with a twist.

So, in these final weeks, I’m not only counting down to the end, but I’m also counting down to my next workout program. I have to. What I love about 80 Day Obsession is that it flipped a switch in me so that my day is not complete WITHOUT A WORKOUT; I’m focused on eating right and in the correct portions and at the optimum times of the day. But to keep that momentum going, I have to have a plan. I’m gonna have to literally plan out the rest of my year with workout programs. If I don’t, it’s too easy for a week-long break to turn into “crap I haven’t worked out since August.” That is exactly what happened to me last year, and I ended up doughy around the middle by New Year’s as a result.

I don’t want to yo-yo this time. I want to be consistent. I want to keep building the booty gains I’ve been seeing in 80 Day Obsession. Exhibit A:

Bridge Lateral Press
What goes up goes down into the booty.

I want to continue to shred out and reveal the abs that are finally starting to peek through after a lifetime of hibernation:

PROGRESS
Work is showing in all the right places!

And while I know that 80 Day Obsession gets me results, I know that mentally I will need a break from it all when it’s done. Which is absolutely fine.

But I don’t know what that means for this blog or continuing to share my journey. I started this thing 60+ days ago because I was so impressed with what 80 Day Obsession did for me mentally and physically. I still am. The program saved me. It gave me structure when I needed it most; it allowed me to find a shred of victory when it felt like I was sleeping in the jaws of defeat. 80 Day Obsession gave me the feeling of control when everything was careening off the tracks. I know that when I am lacking that control in the future, be it in my personal life or my own health and fitness regime or whatever, I can turn to 80 Day Obsession and pick up the tools I need to right the ship.

I wanted to share that excitement with others, and provide something of a roadmap for those who will come after me. Plus, I was a newly minted Beachbody coach, and this seemed a good way to put myself out there and perhaps attract others who might need exactly what 80 Day Obsession has to offer.

The problem, I have learned, is that while I have no problem with coaching, I’m terrible at selling. Just awful. It’s not that I have a problem talking about 80 Day Obsession – I don’t. Or that I can’t answer questions about the nutrition – I can. It’s moreso that hawking this product feels like it cheapens what the program did for me. I don’t want to sell this program to make a commission or build my genealogical chart (no real idea what that is, btw); I want to sell it to someone like me who is at a point in their life when they need it.

I’m rambling, I know. And I know there are other coaches out there who would say there is an obligation to reach as many people as I can with this product to try and change lives for the better. I just haven’t figured out what works for me. This blog was fun, but I’m pretty sure no one reads it. It will likely just live on infamy, forgotten in the dusty corners of the internet with the millions of failed blogs that have come before it.

I’m okay with that. If even one person out there has gotten something useful out of any of these posts, mission accomplished.

At the very least, this is the most consistently I have ever blogged. EVER. Just like 80 Day Obsession, I’ve stuck with it. That’s just another example of how 80 Day Obsession can change you for the better if you stick with it and work the program.

So even though we have 17 days left to go, if you’re reading this, thank you. I hope you’ve gotten something out of this. And if you didn’t but are wondering if other Beachbody products might be more your jam, check out the usual link.

 

Phase 3, Day 60: Total Body Core (aka The One Where You Realize You’ve Gotten a Lot Better at Tricep Push-Ups)

I work out at a gym.

I don’t know if I’ve told y’all that before, but I do. I realize this is somewhat unusual for a person who is following a Beachbody program, as part of Beachbody’s selling point is you can do the workout from the comfort of your own home. I can’t. I live on the third floor of an apartment building and there just isn’t enough space in our living room to do side lunges/back lunges, and I don’t want to give myself an excuse to not complete a workout because I keep banging my shin on the coffee table (been there, done that). Plus, I know my downstairs neighbors really don’t appreciate the early morning jumping required in a number of the workouts.

So, gym it is. In the weight-lifting area, I collect my weights, grab a mat, and push play. I navigate people jumping rope and idiots who block the weight rack. I go back and forth between the rubber mat of the weight area to the tiled floor of the merchandise area, and ignore the gawkers who spot me on my sliders doing tricep push-up pull-ins in front of the shelves of protein powder:

Tricep push-ups on Sliders
Don’t mind me as I sweat amongst the merchandise.

I share this because today’s Total Body Core workout will pretty much require you to have ALL the weights. Again. I commandeered everything from the 12.5 pound dumbbells, all the way up to the 20s. Yes, I was THAT bitch. And I don’t care.

Today’s workout will leave you with sweat rolling down your ankles and a burn in your shoulders that won’t quit. It’s three sets of 10 reps, where you go through all exercises in a row for 10 reps, then repeat for another 2 rounds. It’s not my favorite set-up, but it gets the job done.

I will say, however, that the 10 reps really gives you the opportunity to measure your strength. That tricep push-up form above? Last week, I could barely do the 15 reps on my toes, and had to drop to my knees for the last few. But this week, I did all 10 on my toes. My back arched perhaps a bit too much, but I still managed to get a lot lower than I could in Phase 1. Even better, my push-up form in the 1/2 Turkish get-up from hell felt stronger, though I cursed Autumn’s name throughout the move.

My goal for next week is to continue this push-up triumph and try the slide-out push-ups on my toes as opposed to on my knees. I’ll keep you posted.

With my push-up notes out of the way, let’s turn to the two pro tips for today’s workout.

PRO TIP #101: If your loops are rolling on V Crunch to Scissor Crunch, you gotta double or triple loop.

I got new loops in the mail yesterday and eagerly put them to use in tonight’s workout. For the first time in awhile, I was able to double-loop with two blues. But to my dismay, I couldn’t get more than 2-3 reps done of V Crunch to Scissor Crunch without the damn things rolling up my thighs. I powered through only by constantly taking a moment to adjust the loops during my crunch up (an extra burn, so not unwelcome). So, in round 2, I added a green loop.

I found that the three loops would slide up my thighs a bit, but weren’t rolling, so they were easier to adjust. Don’t underestimate how much stronger your abs and legs are for this workout. Adjust accordingly.

PRO TIP #67: Clench your butt during Weighted Windmills.

This is one exercise where I’m never sure if I’m doing it right because I don’t do it in front of a mirror (next week, I think I will). On some reps I’ll feel a good contraction in my obliques, but in others I get nothing and I worry I’m kicking my hips out in the typewriter motion Autumn describes and warns against. Tonight, however, Autumn gave a good tip that instantly helped me lock my hips into place and focus in on my abs: Clench your butt. As you are sliding the weight down your leg, clench your butt muscles. This will keep your hips from sliding out, thereby ensuring it’s your obliques doing the work.

The instant I contracted my butt muscles, I finally felt the exercise in all the right places.

So, them’s my tips for the night.

Tomorrow I tackle Cardio Core before my soccer game, and I’m looking forward to getting a good sweat going before taking the field. Now if we could just get this weather to cooperate….

Check out the usual link if you need more loops, and feel free to email me with any questions. Almost done with Week 2 of Phase 3! Only 20 more workouts to go!

Phase 3, Day 53: Legs (aka STILL SWEATING)

I don’t remember sweating this much my first time through Phase 3 of 80 Day Obsession.

Maybe it’s because the outside temperature barely got above freezing during that time period. Maybe it’s because I was wearing leggings which absorbed all the sweat so I didn’t notice. Either way, I’m hot and noticing now.

The dam continues to break on Day 53 as we get into Leg Day. Lots going on, and lots of tips, so let’s get crackin’.

This time, there are four series in Leg Day, comprised of three exercises each. In each series, the first exercise is done with weights on the sliders; the second exercise is some form of jumping with weights; and the third exercise is done “only” with weights. Here’s how it breaks down:

SERIES 1: Side-to-side squat, alt. weighted squat jump, figure 4 squat.

SERIES 2: Slider side lunge, half skater lunge jump, low rocking side lunge.

SERIES 3: Slide front diagonal lunge, split squat jump, Buddha squat.

SERIES 4: Sumo double slide in, sumo cross jump, goblet sumo squat.

FAVORITE MOVE: Figure 4 squat.

LEAST FAVORITE MOVE: Sumo cross jump.

Some of these moves are familiar, or you can figure out what they are from the title. Side-to-side squat, for example, is done with toes on the sliders and a single weight at your chest. Keeping your toes pointed straight ahead, you drop into a squat, then slide your left foot out to just past the width of your shoulders; while staying in the squat, you slide your right foot together to your left; then slide your right foot out to just past the width of your shoulders, stay in your squat, and slide your left foot together to your right. 16 reps in Week 1 of Phase 3.

Some moves are unfamiliar, but not in a bad way. My fave, the figure 4 squat, for example, is new, but a welcome change. Here’s what it looks like:

Figure 4 Squat
How long can you go.

I like this exercise because of the stretch you will get in the leg that is crossed over your supporting leg. I will add that it is normal to wonder if you are getting low enough to make the exercise count. So long as you can feel the burn in your supporting leg by the 10th rep, then yes, you are getting low enough. If you’re not getting that burn, consider loading up with a bit more weight. BUT, before you do, consider the all important pro tip below.

PRO TIP #79: START LIGHT, ESPECIALLY ON THE JUMPS.

This is a tricky one to follow because you have just spent the first two Phases building up your weight. Shouldn’t you be lunging with at least what you handled in Leg Day at the end of Phase 2?

In a word, NO. Phase 3 is all about shredding out, and as Autumn explains, you need slightly lighter weights to do that. This is especially true on all the jumping moves, as the focus should be on getting lower and jumping higher, not necessarily on using the heaviest weight possible.

Still, it’s hard to resist the urge to test yourself. As always, listen to your body and go from there.

BUT, PLEASE, heed this next pro tip above all else.

PRO TIP #92: START WITH A LIGHT WEIGHT ON THE LOW ROCKING SIDE LUNGE.

If you scoff at my advice to start light with the weight, please at least follow it for this ONE exercise. The reason being is that low rocking side lunge puts a slow burn on your lower back if you’re not careful, and if your weight is too heavy, you could hurt yourself just from standing up.

Here’s what low rocking side lunge looks like:

low rocking side lunge
look up!

From that position, you then rock back to the middle, then out over the other leg. You NEVER come up from that low hinge, which means your lower back is engaged whether you like it or not.

For me, I didn’t realize how hard my body was working to protect my lower back until I realized I was working my ABS; that is, by rep 11, my abs were tired from being held tight to protect my lower back. Had I been lifting anything heavier than 15s, I probably would have hurt myself. As it is, I don’t plan to increase the weight for this exercise to anything more than 20 pound dumbbells, and even that might be pushing it.

To give you an idea of what my weights looked like, I pretty much stuck with 15 pound dumbbells for ALL exercises, which the exception of the sumo double slide in (I did 20 pounds instead), and goblet sumo squat (22.5 pounds). This was probably a bit too heavy for the jumps, but I was able to complete them all with good form so I think I started at about the right place.

PRO TIP #56: BRING A TOWEL.

This one is self-explanatory. Don’t be THAT GIRL who doesn’t clean up after herself at the gym. At least my shirt caught most of my mess!

img_0502-e1529551002324.jpg
Gray is not a good color for me right now.

Which leads into my last pro tip.

PRO TIP #80: IF YOU ARE SWEATING MORE, YOU NEED TO BE UPPING YOUR WATER INTAKE.

Last night, I blogged about the insane amount of sweat I generated doing Cardio Flow. After that workout, I downed two 24 ounce water bottles, three cups of herbal tea, and another 16 oz cup of water. This was on TOP of the water I’d already consumed during the day before my workout.

Even with this excess water intake, I woke up down more than pound and a half. I would be ecstatic but for the fact I know that “weight loss” was really just water loss, and that despite my best efforts, my body still needs to replenish fluids. I know this because of the…color, and….timing…of certain…..bodily functions throughout the day.

And, after the performance my sweat glands put in this morning at the gym, I am again pounding water and tea to make sure I stay hydrated.

Again, if you are sweating a good deal more than normal in Phase 3, you need to make sure you are drinking more water. Your body (and its functions) will thank you.

Well, that’s me for the night. Hope you found this helpful and that you’re loving Phase 3. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love how much stronger I feel, but I hate some of the moves. BUT, I have to add that I do love how quickly the exercises seem to go. So far, the workouts in Phase 3 seem to be the best laid out in that they flow nicely from one to another so you don’t spend the whole time thinking you have another set to complete.

Of course, I say that now. Tomorrow, we have stupid modified 1/2 Turkish push-up, so I’m sure I’ll change my tune. Watch the video in advance for a sneak peek of what I’m talking about.

Or, message or email me for further deets. The usual goods found at the usual link.

Rest up! Tomorrow’s gonna be a doozy.

Phase 2, Day 42: Legs (aka Even Leg Day Can’t Out-Train a Bad Diet)

I love me this Leg Day.

Especially this week’s set-up: Three sets of 10. But one exercise at a time. And there’s really only five weighted exercises. Which means you do the first weighted exercise, reverse lunges, then go straight into the sliders; then back to another 10 reps of reverse lunges, followed by the sliders; then the last set of 10 reps of reverse lunges, ending with, you guessed it, SLIDERS.

The workout feels a little long because you have to do most of the exercises one leg at a time. But then you realize that you’re already on the third exercise out of five and the whole thing feels like it flew by.

I realize I’ve perhaps been a bit lax lately with my pro tips, which was the whole point of starting this blog: Putting out on the net what I faced the first time around in 80 Day Obsession in the hope it might answer some of the questions you might have as you tackle the same. So, let’s get started.

PRO TIP #15: PUSH YOURSELF WITH THE WEIGHT.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: This Leg Day lends itself to testing how much you can lift. Do it. Test yourself. Try at least one set with a heavier weight than you have ever done – within reason, of course. And as always, listen to your body. If your lower back is already screaming as you goblet squat a 15 pound weight, then don’t push it. Focus on form and get that core stronger before you up the weight. But, know that the harder you lift the better the results. Plus, how satisfying is it to KNOW you’re actually getting stronger? I find it immensely satisfying to be walking down the street and feel STRONG; like, I could arm-wrestle a would-be mugger strong. Or at least run away fast. Probably the latter. But still. It’s the thought that counts.

So the above will be my only pro tip about working out. The rest will be about food and sticking to the timed nutrition plan. Because I was reminded today that no matter how hard you lift on Leg Day, you can’t out-train a bad diet.

I was reminded of this because of who I see at the gym.

Oftentimes, I am the sole girl in the weight section. And because this is now my second round of 80 Day Obsession, I’ve been in that weight section for the past 80+ days. Which means I’ve pretty much seen the same people over and over, often doing the same thing for the past 80 days.

And the people that I see, the workouts that I see them doing…they are no joke. From push-ups with claps to leg lifts with weights to pull-ups. I’m not the only one with a good sweat going by the end of a workout.

Yet of those devoted gym bunnies, NONE have demonstrated any notable change in physique. One or two of them might have toned up a little, but given how much they’re all working out, you’d think they’d be ripped and ready to strut some stuff on the bodybuilding stage. It makes no sense given the workouts they’re killing, where every muscle is worked and the abs are taking the brunt of the focus. WHY DON’T THEY ALL HAVE SIX PACKS?

Because you can’t out-train a bad diet. When I see the same people in the gym looking the same despite their effort, I have to wonder what they’re eating: Are they eating enough? Are they eating too much? Are they getting enough protein? What does a typical meal plan look like?

Based on what I’m seeing, I have to think none of them are getting the diet part RIGHT, otherwise they’d all be cracking open beers on their wash-board abs.

Which is why I love this 80 Day Obsession thing: It comes with a meal plan to follow that will work if you follow it.

But HOW do you follow it, especially on those days when cravings are bad? What if you slip up?

I’ve not just slipped up but royally fucked up, and had some strong cravings to boot. But I’m still here, and I have a few tips to share.

PRO TIP #444: IF YOU’RE CRAVING SWEETS, REACH FOR VEGETABLES.

I have been there and had those uncontrollable cravings; where you just ate a beautifully balanced, nutritious meal, yet your body is crying out for MORE. And not just any old MORE, but CUPCAKES and BROWNIES and ICE CREAM and MACARONS. And WORSE, you can feel this pit yawning open in your stomach, as if the food you just ingested completely missed the mark and went straight into oblivion instead of your bloodstream, leaving you feeling as though you ate NOTHING at all and so MUST EAT ALL THE FOODS NOW.

That is now I felt tonight. I got home from work and felt that pit of hunger starting to crack open.

Now, I’ve tried ignoring it. I’ve tried sticking to my containers and eating what I’m allotted and sticking to my guns.

That never works. Inevitably what happens is the craving gets the best of me and I end up stuffing four maple bars into my mouth.

This time, however, I let myself snack. I actually let myself go to the fridge and have some extra food….baby carrots.

Crucially, that or cherry tomatoes or cucumbers were pretty much the only foods I could snack on (another key: DON’T KEEP JUNK FOOD IN THE HOUSE) in the moment. But I took a handful of baby carrots and crunched away. And when I finished that handful, I helped myself to some cherry tomatoes while I heated up my dinner.

Then I ate my dinner and….nothing. I DID IT! I’m now sitting in a cafe right next to a cupcake shop, and not a nerve in my body is singing for that sugary goodness. Instead, I feel satiated. Satisfied. Even though I ate more than what I was supposed to, it was only vegetables. And it stopped me from heading next door for a red velvet cupcake instead of coming here. So it worked. But only because I’ve trained myself to get used to a different kind of “dessert.” Which brings me to my next tip:

PRO TIP #32: KEEP BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL AFTER DINNER.

I can’t take credit for this one. This one is all Ilana Muhlstein, the creator of Beachbody’s nutrition only program, 2B Mindset. The point is that instead of reaching for food after dinner, reach for a cup of tea or a cup of coffee or a glass of sparkling water. Something, ANYthing, but food. Just make sure you have something in your hands that will keep them occupied. Here’s me putting this philosophy into practice:

Both Hands On the Wheel
Don’t Judge Me for my Decaf Latte with Coconut Milk

It works. I have a fish bowl full of herbal teas at home, and each night I try a new one. Or, if I don’t feel like a tea, I’ll knit. Or read. Or do ANYthing that requires me to use my hand. Because if my hands are busy, they won’t be picking up food to stuff in my gullet.

PRO TIP #53: IF YOU’RE HUNGRY, DRINK AT LEAST 8 OZ. OF WATER FIRST; WAIT; IF YOU ARE STILL HUNGRY, THEN EAT SOMETHING.

This is also a tip pulled slightly from 2B Mindset, which emphasizes drinking water before EVERY meal, and drinking at least half your body weight in ounces every day.

My tip is a slight variation of that, and I found it works for me when I start to get hungry in the late afternoon, during that lull between my afternoon snack and dinner.

I start to get hungry, especially when I think about my delicious dinner waiting for me (chicken sausage with peppers and onions and tomatoes and quinoa this week). My stomach starts to grumble. Before it gets to loud, I make myself down half my water bottle…all 12 ounces.

Usually, that does the trick. Sometimes it doesn’t. But at the very least, I’m going to the bathroom to pee in the half hour following, as opposed to eating early. So it accomplishes something.

As Ilana points out in 2B Mindset, sometimes when your body is telling you you’re hungry, you’re actually just dehydrated. So try water first. If that doesn’t cure the craving, then start to think about some food. But it doesn’t hurt to be extra hydrated.

I hope these tips help. And if you want to learn more about 2B Mindset, click on the link to learn more. It’s different from 80 Day Obsession in that there’s no workouts; 2B Mindset focuses SOLELY on nutrition and how to eat for healthy weight loss. It’s not quite compatible with 80 Day Obsession, which has you eating certain foods at certain times of the day; the schedule conflicts with some of the 2B Mindset principles. But at the very least, 2B Mindset has given me a new perspective on how to view and address cravings, and my other achilles heel: Eating out.

I have a few new tools in my arsenal to try out the next time we have family dinner at my aunt’s on Sunday. First true test is coming up this Sunday, so it will be interesting to see how it works.

In the meantime, I hope you found this post somewhat helpful. If you didn’t, message me with questions, or leave a snarky comment. Both are welcome.

Because it at least tells me that SOMEone is reading this damn thing!

 

 

 

 

 

Phase 2, Day 37: AAA (aka The One With All The Weights)

I’ll be the first to admit it: I am a gym hypocrite. A big one.

I am the person who gives you death glares when you decide to do your bicep curls RIGHT IN FRONT of the weight rack, thereby making it impossible for others to access the dumbbells. I am the one who will interrupt you mid-lunge to ask if I can “work in” on the set of 20 pounders you haven’t used in the last half hour yet are hoarding in a sweaty corner. I will ask you to move out of the way when you block me from staring at myself in the mirror while shoulder-pressing.

I then turn right around and commit every single gym offense outlined above. And frankly, I don’t give a shit.

In AAA in Phase 2, you can’t care. This is the one that requires ALL THE WEIGHTS, ALL THE TIME. You work too many muscle groups in too short a time to not have a range of dumbbells to cover what you need.

Case in point, my workout area tonight:

AAA
All the Weights.

Just in case you can’t tell, I had out the following dumbbells: 8s, 10s, 12s, 15s, 20s, and 25s. Plus a mat, plus my sliders, tracker sheet, loops, water, towel, and warmup shirt. And I guarded that shit like Smaug did the Arkenstone.

See, AAA in Phase 2 requires quick transitions and a variety of weights. In Week 2, you will do all exercises for 10 reps. As explained last week, the workout includes both the usual contract for 3-count, release in one, followed immediately by an exercise that just does normal lifting. The set-up is what you have seen before: Go all the way through all exercises for 10 reps, then go back to the beginning and do it all again, then go back for a third round, for a total of three sets. The difference this time, however, is that on the very last set, you don’t do the normal single-count exercise; all you do is the lift where you go up for three, down for one (or whatever the case may be).

Which means that the first two rounds of AAA this week crawl like molasses. Autumn knows it too, as do her editors: Watch the video of the workout carefully and you can see where they had to make cuts to try and fit everything into their 60-minute timeframe. You can tell they cut out the cast screw-ups and a lot of the downtime that is otherwise required to swap weights for loops and loops for weights.

As a result, you literally need everything to-hand just to keep up. And even then, it’s real hard to do. Frankly, at one point in the workout, because I was so tired of having to hit pause, I had to fight the urge to chuck my phone across the room in a fit of frustration.

I didn’t. But it was close.

If I have any tips for this workout, it is as follows:

Pro TiP #75: F gym etiquette during Phase 2 AAA.

You’re going to have to fight through some dirty looks and do what you need to do to get the job done. You can’t cut corners on the workout, so sadly, you’ll have to cut corners on gym etiquette.

Don’t feel bad; feel the outline of those abs starting to poke through and let that transformation give you strength. Haters gonna hate anyway. Don’t let it keep you from your workout.

Be unapologetic and do you.

Besides, if they really want those weights, they can politely ask to “work in” and then try to work around your transitions.

That’s all I got. Cardio Flow tomorrow. Ugh.

Hang in there. Huzzah for Fri-yay. Enjoy the weekend!

Link to Beachbody stuff in case you’re interested.

Phase 2, Day 28: Cardio Core (aka the Cardio with the Sliders AND the Loops)

You know it’s a good routine when you fear the “Core” in the title more than the “Cardio.”

Let’s discuss.

The format of Cardio Core in Phase 2 is the exact same as it was in Phase 1: 30 seconds of some sort of jump rope move followed by 30 seconds of some sort of high intensity interval training (“HIIT”) move; do for three rounds for a total of three minutes, then hit the ground for 10 reps of an ab exercise.

In Phase 1, I feared the standing mountain climbers because they always threatened to disturb my pre-workout meal. Between the reaching of the arms and the high knees, my breakfast was practically begging to come up.

In Phase 2, however, it’s the ab exercises that get you. If you don’t have to hit pause at least once during one of the ab routines the first time you do this workout, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.

Why the difference?

Phase 1 abs consisted of simple linear movements: In and out for knee tucks; right knee to left elbow counted as one rep.

Phase 2, however, combines what feels like a bunch of different movements into what only counts as one rep. For example, you do knee tucks into a standing squat with an arm lift. The move takes focus, balance, and some serious core strength. AND it somehow manages to work your legs even though they need a serious break from the HIIT.

Or, you do a double leg pike followed by a single leg pike for a total of 12 reps. Here’s my pike form:

Double Leg Pike Into Single Leg Pike
Proud of that form!

(Side Note: Super proud of my pike form. Every time I do those things, I never feel like I get my ass high enough in the air to even come close to Autumn’s flexibility. However, this picture says otherwise. It definitely wasn’t like that when I first started, so I’m proud to see how far I’ve come.)

My point being, by the time you get to the LAST ab move, which requires loops, you can barely get the damn things on over your legs. You’re all sweaty so that you can’t good grip on the rubber when you pull the loops up over your thighs, and your arms are shaking too hard to pull them up on the first try. It’s a disaster. It takes all your energy just to get the damn things on, and then you’re expected to sit back in a sort of boat pose as you lift and open your legs then lift and close your legs…10 times. Here’s what that particular mode of torture looks like:

Ferry Ride From Hell
No idea what this is called. I only know the noise I make as I struggle through.

If I am focusing on the ab exercises instead of the cardio, it’s for a good reason. There is something demoralizing about making it through 3 minutes of sweat-inducing cardio…only to have to hit pause during the ab series, which is supposed to be your “rest.” I am including this detail to let you know that this is normal. It will be normal for you to barely be able to finish the ab portion(s) of the workout. It will be normal for you to have to push pause in the middle of single-leg/double-leg pike. It will be normal for you to have to hit pause to allow you time to get the loops on your legs in the last exercise, even though Autumn and co. will seem to breeze through such an endeavor with ease. It will be normal for you to want to quit because it will feel like you need a rest you don’t get, and you will doubt whether you can finish.

Don’t quit.

Hit pause all you want. Take a moment to catch your breath and drink some water.

But don’t quit.

Because as hard as these ab exercises are, know that it is their very level of difficulty which guarantees results.

You signed up for this program probably because you were lured by the promise of a sculpted booty and shredded abs. The great thing about Cardio Core in Phase 2 is you can actually FEEL the ab exercises shredding out your abs. After all, the moves are so difficult, how could they not?

When it hurts and you doubt and you can’t breathe and your arms are shaking, embrace the pain. This is what you signed up for and this is how you know the program is working; that it’s doing its job. If you WEREN’T feeling this way, you should wonder if 80 Day Obsession is everything it’s cracked up to be and whether it’s getting the job done.

There will be no wonder in Phases 2 and 3. The shit gets hard, but it is absolutely worth it. Just don’t give in when the going gets tough. Dig in and push through.

If you still have doubts after reading this post, message me. Or check out the usual link.

Just finish the workout. Finish the workout and aim to push pause one less time next week. Baby steps, friends. You got this.

Phase 1, Day 23: Cardio Core (aka The One Where I Found My Why)

For weeks now I’ve been teasing this particular day.

Day 23 of 80 Day Obsession will forever hold a special place in my heart because it was the day I found my WHY; i.e., “WHY” I was taking this journey in the first place, and “WHY” I would complete it.

(Briefly, a note on logistics: Week 4 is the same as Week 1 of Cardio Core, except you should be stronger and capable of going longer without any breaks. Not much else to say except I hope you enjoyed it.)

Last time, the night before Day 23, I was in the hospital with my boyfriend until 1 in the morning. He went to Urgent Care at about 5 in the evening for severe stomach pain, was referred to the Emergency Room, and by the time I arrived at 8:30 pm, he had been admitted to the ER and was lying in a hospital bed hooked up to IVs.

We wouldn’t know what was truly wrong with him for another day or so, and once we did, he would begin the long road of treatment. Thankfully, he’s better today than he was then, but I didn’t know that the day before Day 23 last time. All I knew was that he was in pain, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong, and there was nothing I could do.

That night, I left the hospital exhausted and starving. I wasn’t in bed until 1:30 am, and when I set my alarm that night, I had to make a choice: I could either set my alarm for 5:30 am, pull myself out of bed for Cardio Core before work, and face my day knowing I had got my workout in, or I could let myself sleep in an extra two hours, slog thru the work day and God knows what else was waiting for me, and hope there was enough time at the end of it all to sweat it out at the gym before bed.

Had it been any workout other than Cardio Core, I probably would have slept in. But the beauty of Cardio Core was that I knew I could do it. Even running on only a few hours’ sleep, I knew I could finish the workout. I’d done it before.

So, I made myself a deal: I would set my alarm for 5:30 am, and in return, my only expectation of Cardio Core was that I would finish it. It was not a day for squeezing in an extra number of squat jumps or getting extra low on popcorn or reaching extra high on mountain climbers. It was a day of pure survival.

When my alarm went off at 5:30, I set my intention for the day: Finish the Workout. I had no idea what else awaited me; no idea how work would go or how my boyfriend was doing or what the doctors would say. But I knew I could finish Cardio Core, damnit. And I knew I could finish the rest of the workouts in Phase 1 because I’d technically done them all before, too! On Day 23 I set my intention to not only finish Cardio Core, but against all odds, to finish 80 Day Obsession.

For me, Day 23 was when 80 Day Obsession went from being an exercise program to a lifestyle choice. Day 23 gave me a new perspective on the workouts. Finishing a workout was the ONLY part of my day I could control; it was the ONLY part of my day where I knew I could push myself and do well and see positive results. Everything else in my life was literally up in the air. But 80 Day Obsession was my anchor. It allowed me to start each day with a sense of accomplishment; it gave me do-able goals to achieve even when everything else in life seemed impossible; it gave me a sense of control when I had none.

I am proud to report that I carried on with 80 Day Obsession despite multiple trips down to California to visit my boyfriend, while working full-time and finishing up my master’s degree in Taxation. My workout was the one part of my day that was non-negotiable. I even went so far as to ensure that the motel I booked down in Cali came with a workout room with free weights so I could get in my Total Body Core Workout in Phase 3. And in the end, when my boyfriend came home, he did so to a newly confident significant other who’d dropped weight and inches while cleaning up her lifestyle.

So. What is my WHY? WHY do I do this, and WHY have I continued with this obsession long after that initial 80 days ended?

Because I am the one thing in life I can control. What I put into my body and how I move it is solely up to me. By claiming my health and fitness I claim control of my life, which means that even on the shittiest of days, I am reminded of my own power and capability.

It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been happy with how I look as a result of the program. But I didn’t become a Beachbody coach during this process because I was starting to develop abs for the first time in my life (which I was). I became a coach because 80 Day Obsession was a candle in the dark: I followed it out of hell into the light, somehow stronger and more resilient, despite LIFE. I had to share my experience, if only to let others know that if the program worked for me at the lowest point in my life, then it could help them.

So if you took the time to read this and are going through your own personal hell at the moment, I urge you to consider doing something to give you control back over your life. If you’re ready for 80 Day Obsession, bite the bullet and get it started. If you’re not, start with something else, something that’s manageable for you at this point in your life. But start with SOMEthing. And if you need help or recommendations, let me know. I can point you to the ever present link with Beachbody info, or offer a suggestion or two.

At the end of the day, I hope you find your WHY. It helps. Not just in workouts or at home but in EVERYTHING. It took me 23 days + 34 years to find mine. But now that I have, there’s no turning back.

And now, your moment of zen:

Knee Tucks on the Sliders
Gettin’ it done.