PEAK WEEK, Day 77: Legs from Phase 1 (aka The One That Requires Strength)

Strength is a funny thing.

There’s physical strength: CAN I LIFT THIS CAR OFF THIS BABY.

There’s mental strength: CAN I STAY AWAKE A LITTLE BIT LONGER TO FINISH THIS ASSIGNMENT.

There’s emotional strength: CAN I BE THE BIGGER PERSON AND NOT TAKE OFFENSE AT MY PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE AUNT.

And there’s what I call social strength: CAN I RESIST THE URGE TO FOLLOW THE HERD WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT.

In my experience, these strengths are all intrinsically tied to one another –if you improve one strength, it usually has the net effect of improving a strength in a different area.

Nowhere have I found this to be more true than in 80 Day Obsession, which is why I love the program so damn much.

To build your physical strength, you necessarily have to build your mental strength (I CAN DO IT! JUST ONE MORE REP!) and your social strength (SORRY I CAN’T GO OUT I HAVE TO GO TO THE GYM). You also have to build some emotional strength (SORRY NOT SORRY FOR HOARDING ALL THE WEIGHTS). Somehow, though you probably didn’t expect it, strength is a package deal with 80 Day Obsession.

You may have started the program to shred out your abs and get a booty. I did. I wanted a six-pack for summer. I kinda have one. Or, at least, it’s the closest I’ve ever been to having one.

I didn’t start 80 Day Obsession because I wanted to become stronger mentally. But I got stronger mentally. It just happened. Probably because as you prove to yourself with each workout that you can do hard things, that carries over to work and family and everything else and you end up reminding yourself, when faced when an otherwise insurmountable task, that you can do hard things.

The same goes for your emotional and social strengths. A million bucks says each have improved during this program (provided, of course, you have actually followed the program).

As a result, you will be ending 80 Day Obsession a different person than when you started. A much stronger person in body and mind and spirit.

I bring all this up because today’s Leg Day is a good reminder of your new and improved strength. The workout is hard: Three sets of 10 reps, where you do the rep scheme a group of exercises at a time.

SERIES 1: Reverse lunges, squats, curtsy lunges.

SERIES 2: Sumo squats, front diagonal lunges, twisting back angle lunge.

SERIES 3: Single-leg good morning, hip hinge, buddha squats.

Because this exercise is from Phase 1, if you recall, the emphasis was on lifting heavy weights. So it is today. But because you will not have lifted truly heavy weights for about four weeks – as Phase 3 was about jumping with a lighter weight – you will struggle today. This is doubly so because Autumn gives minimal rest going from one leg to another within a move; that is, when you finish up the right leg on reverse lunges, you go immediately to your left.

PRO TIP #321: START THE FIRST SET IN SERIES 1 WITH A LIGHTER WEIGHT TO WARM UP.

You will need the warm-up round. When I ended Phase 1 eons ago, I was lifting 25 pound dumbbells for each move. But after the warm-up today, I could feel my body was nowhere near warm enough to start with those 25s. So, I started with 20s. I used the 20s for the first set of reverse lunges, squats, and curtsy lunges. It wasn’t until that second set of reverse lunges that my body felt limber enough to handle the 25s. I knew I was warmed up when my knee banged against the floor on the first lunge, whereas I could barely bend the damn thing in the first set.

More so than my physical strength, however, the workout tested my mental strength. On Day 77, the workout felt long. And I was tired. And I am ready for a break after 77 days.

But here is where that newly developed mental fortitude kicked in. Instead of doubting whether I could finish the move or the workout, I reminded myself I already did – I’d finished it four times before in Phase 1. I could CERTAINLY power through this final round in PEAK WEEK.

To ensure I powered through, I took shorter rest breaks than Autumn and the cast; I knew if I stayed still for too long, I might not get started back up again. Don’t be afraid to start early if this is you. Don’t be afraid to do what you need to do to get the job done, ESPECIALLY in Peak Week.

My mind reminded my body it could do this workout. As a result, I have officially checked off yet another workout in 80 Day Obsession. GOODBYE LEG DAY.

But more importantly, I was reminded, yet again, that I can do hard things.

You can too. Check out the link if you want to get started on your own path to 80 Day Obsession. Or email me with questions or for more details. Whatever you do, I hope you are finding your own way to improve your own strengths and live your best life.

After all, why settle for anything less?

Phase 3, Day 68: Booty (aka The One With All the Lunges. Again.)

When you are almost through the second series of exercises in the Phase 3 Booty workout, you hit the half hour mark. GREAT! You think. I’M FLYING!

And then you get to the front lunge side lunge exercise sandwiched between the rocking toe squats and side lunge curtsy sliders in series 3, and the workout hits a wall. Even the lifting scheme of three sets of 10 reps, where you do the exercises a series at a time for 3 sets of 10, can’t salvage the forever feeling of the front lunge side lunge move. The interminable feeling stems from a single rep consisting of two lunges: Front lunge + side lunge = ONE.

The good news, however, is that because of the plethora of lunges, you can be guaranteed your ass gets a workout. How can it not? Today, your right leg alone will do a total of 60 lunges. Try and do those many lunges and NOT feel your booty swell.

So, since it started with booty pump, today was a good day. Especially since it STARTED in the shade, and I was inspired to finish my workout as quickly as possible so as to not end up in the sun.

Case in point, this was my gym for the morning:

IMG_0566

I SWEAR WHEN I STARTED I WAS IN THE SHADE. As you know from yesterday’s post, that was a priority of mine. Still, it was a race against the sun. When I started, the shade was well past the white line shown above in the photo. When I finished, well, this is what I was left with:

Hip Hinge with Loop
It’s hard to concentrate when you’re afraid you might brain yourself on a concrete wall

All in all, it was a great start to the day.

And then I went up-lake to Stehekin with some family friends. For those of you not familiar with the Pacific Northwest, Stehekin is a tiny village nestled at the northern tip of Lake Chelan. Stehekin is where Lake Chelan “starts,” as that is where the Stehekin River flows down the valley to begin its 50+ mile journey south, meandering through the steep gorge and picking up glacier water that drains into its icy depths along the way.

Stehekin is home to gorgeous scenery, the smell of mountain air….and a bakery. A renowned bakery, actually. With a sterling reputation that comes from either being the only one within a 50-mile radius, or the server of hearty sandwiches to starving backpackers who make it in from their jaunts in the surrounding woods. Either way, the bakery is a must-see for those who spend more than an hour on a boat to discover the source of Chelan.

IMG_0631

On this trip with me were three other adults and three children. I brought a snack-pack of my own making, complete with baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, and mini peppers. I also brought a full water bottle and two La Croix.

The good news is I wasn’t much tempted by any of the snacks on the boat, and I was well-prepared by my choice of dress (both literally and figuratively speaking).

The bad news is I wasn’t tempted because I knew I would probably go overboard at the Bakery and I was saving myself. Which I did.

I didn’t take a picture of the food because there’s no point in recapping what I ate. I can still feel it. Let’s just say I gave the kids a run for their money.

But as bad as I feel right now, as I look back through the pictures I took today, I can’t help but cut myself some slack. Because we were on a boat in the sun, I wore a bathing suit under a sun dress and a zip-up hoodie, with a floppy hat. When we got to Stehekin, the only change I made was to swap my flip flops for running shoes since we were going to be renting bikes for the ride to the Bakery, and I was likely going to be making a quick trip to Rainbow Falls.

Which means I spent all day riding a bike in a bathing suit and sundress.

And while I might have felt what I ate (I still do), I wasn’t bothered by the amount of skin I was showing. I wasn’t embarrassed by what I was wearing. I didn’t shy away from taking pictures.

Rainbow Falls
Yes, that is a Fanny Pack.

While not entirely pleased with what I consumed today, I still KNEW that it would not detract from the progress I have made since January 15, 2018, when I started 80 Day Obsession for the first time. I knew my eating was not ideal, but that it was not going to destroy the progress I have made on the definition in my legs and arms.

More importantly, I didn’t waste my time clicking through the photos my friend took to make sure she removed the “bad” ones (though I probably should have as it would have been nice to get a fully monty of the waterfall). I may not be happy with how I ate, but I am happy with how I look. I otherwise feel good. I was happy to be with friends today in a beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest, and I was proud I felt comfortable not only in my own skin, but in the clothes I wore.

Lakes and Mountains
Sun shining, Stehekin in the background

I wish I had felt that way in my 20s. Don’t get me wrong, I made the most out of that decade, but I also spent a lot of time about 50-60 pounds overweight. If I’d known where to look or known the right people, Beachbody would have been available to me as a workout option even back then. But frankly, I’m not sure I would have had much success with the program. Would I have followed through? Taken the time to meal prep? Followed the workout schedule and timed nutrition plan? Part of me knows I would have, as I lost about 30 pounds in the months leading up to my return to the States for the last time.

But part of me also suspects I probably would have thrown in the towel on this hard work in favor of some quick fix: A beet root cleanse or a weight loss pill or a sweat lodge routine.

Because make no mistake, this shit is hard. My failure today in the eating department is living proof of that.

But today, I still have my results. My stomach may not be happy with me, but I still FEEL strong. I can still look in the mirror and know that today was temporary but my biceps are forever so long as I continue to work out and eat right MOST of the time.

80 Day Obsession got me here, but it’s gonna be up to me to keep going. The program can do the same for you.

If you want to learn more, either about 80 Day Obsession or my own journey, check out the usual link or shoot me a message.

Just, don’t stay stuck. You don’t have to. You just have to decide to take that first step.

Phase 3, Day 56: Booty (aka What the F is Autumn Wearing)

Some workouts get overshadowed by Autumn’s workout gear.

Usually it’s because the cut of a particular sports bra shows off her incredible…assets.

Today, however, it’s because she’s wearing these hideous pink wallpaper print workout pants. Seriously, if pink wallpaper and an Italian gangster had a baby, it would be these pants. They look like plastic. They look hot and uncomfortable and are incredibly shiny, so you can’t help but stare.

Perhaps Autumn wore the pants as a distraction to keep you from focusing on the fact you won’t be able to feel your butt after this workout.

Here’s what you have in store for you: Three series of three exercises each. In Week 1, you do all the exercises in a row for 15 reps each, then go back through and do them all in a row again.

SERIES 1: Side squat hop hold, kneeling lateral crawl to half surrender, single-leg hamstring slide.

SERIES 2: Single-leg runner’s jump w/weight, single-leg hinge, slider reverse pulse lunge.

SERIES 3: Narrow squat rock, front lunge side lunge, side lunge to curtsy.

FAVE MOVE: Single-leg hinge (a nice little break from what comes before and after).

LEAST FAVE MOVE: Front lunge side lunge (THEY TAKE FOREVER).

The first exercise in each series is some sort of jumping move, though in series three, the narrow squat rock has you only going up on to your toes instead of leaving the ground. I would say the second exercise in each series is the worst, but the single-leg hinge really isn’t that bad. The third move is on sliders, and they hurt like hell but are done pretty quick.

The two moves you will be dreading this workout are the kneeling lateral crawl to half surrender and front lunge/side lunge.

PRO TIP: When doing the kneeling lateral crawl to half surrender, use a mat and make sure you’re stepping ON to the mat, not forward.

Previously, I never did this move successfully without the loops rolling all the way up my thighs after the second rep. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, until today, when I noticed I was stepping too far forward when I stood up in a half surrender. That is, if you watch Autumn, you’ll notice she starts kneeling on a mat, and when she stands up, her feet end up directly under her still ON the mat. Whereas when I was attempting the move, I was stepping OFF the mat, and the forward movement would cause the loops to roll. When I focused on keeping my feet under me, my loops halted their crawl up my legs and my frustration ceased. Learn from my mistakes and get the technique right the first time through.

That said, no amount of technique can save you from the burning drudgery that is front lunge/side lunge. The move is exactly what it sounds like. Front lunge:

Front Lunge
Lighting is terrible but my form is good!

Then side lunge:

Side Lunge
Light still sucks. #sorrynotsorry

The issue with this exercise is ONE rep is front lunge, then side lunge. That’s ONE. And you do 15 reps in Week 1. Which means each leg essentially does 30 lunges; in Round 1 alone, you have to plow through 60 lunges total. It takes FOREVER.

But at least you have Autumn’s pants to look at, and can be thankful you didn’t make that fashion choice.

That’s all I got. I have to go figure out a new meal plan now BECAUSE I CAN’T HAVE EGGS.

Get some sleep! Link to the usual stuff.

Phase 2, Day 29: Total Body Core (aka Thank God for Energize)

When I was in high school, a girl on my Varsity basketball team decided to amp herself up before a big game by drinking three Red Bulls. In a row. Without eating.

I can’t remember whether or not we won the game, but I remember the girl spent the next hour with heart palpitations so bad my coach had to be talked out of calling an ambulance. She was over-caffeinated to the point of uselessness and ended up not setting foot on the court, all thanks to an energy drink. Or three.

Combine that history with my body’s own…unique…reaction to stimulants, and I’m not a big fan. Depending on the type of caffeine, I tend to get jittery and my intestines go into overdrive. It’s not a pretty or comfortable experience.

You can imagine, then, my hesitation to try Energize, the energy powder in Beachbody’s Performance line. When you sign up for a challenge pack to do 80 Day Obsession, you can sign up to be sent Energize and Recover. As I had never tried either when I signed up, I figured why the hell not. Both arrived in the mail…and then I promptly forgot about them until about this point in the program my first time through.

At this time the last time ’round, my boyfriend had been in the hospital for a week, and I was prepping for trial at work while attending class at night Monday through Thursday. I was short on sleep and energy and it was becoming next to impossible to drag myself out of bed for my morning workouts.

I don’t know how I remembered it, but before Total Body Core in Week 1 of Phase 2, I decided to try Energize. I mixed a scoop into 8 ounces of water, shook it up, and drank it in the car on my way to the gym. Pretty sure the only thing that got me through the workout was that little scoop of powder.

Energize, I found, gave me the energy of a Red Bull but without the mental and physical jitters. It felt “clean,” like a good, clean “high.” I didn’t have heart palpitations, my intestines didn’t overact, and I didn’t get the caffeine sweats. Even better, I was able to power through the workout even though I could barely get out of bed.

Since then, I’ll drink Energize on the days when I know I’m low on sleep, and the workout is longer than 45 minutes. It’s like an ace in the back pocket which I can use at any time to pull one over on the House. Is part of its magic the placebo effect? Probably. Do I care? Nope. It tastes good and helps me get the job done. And when it comes to Total Body Core in Phase 2, I’ll take all the help I can get.

Here’s what you have in store for you: Five Series of exercises that each target a specific muscle group. Within each series are three exercises:

Series 1, Shoulders: Squat, Row, Twist, Row (yes that is all one move); Kneeling Lunge Clean & Press; Quad Ped Opposite Arm Knee Crunch.

Series 2, Chest: Chest Press to Half Turkish Get Up; Spider Man Push-ups; Frog Sliders.

Series 3, Back: “T” to Single-Leg Hip Hinge; Lat Pull Over w/Leg Raise; Weighted Plan Hip Drop.

Series 4, Biceps: Low Twisting Lunge Hammer Curl; Press Out to Curl; Weighted Standing Torso Rotation.

Series 5, Triceps: Crab Position Tricep Dip to Sit Through; Alternating Skull Crushers with Bicycle Legs; French Twist.

You can tell how hard this workout is by the fact that you can only get all exercises for ONE of the series on a single line. While each exercise purports to work a single muscle, the fact of the matter is that the exercise will work your whole body. Case in point: Kneeling Lunge Clean & Press. You start in a kneeling lunge with the weight held in one hand which is twisted OVER your kneeling leg. You then clean the weight up to shoulder height, stand up, then press the weight over your head. Come back down, lower weight back in a twist over the kneeling leg. Repeat. In Week 1, 15 reps, two sets.

Yes, it’s a lot. But even that move is nothing compared to the Half Turkish Get Ups. This picture says it all:

Half Turkish Get-ups: Before and After
WHAT JUST HAPPENED

You will hate Half Turkish Get Ups because they take FOREVER. It’s a move you can’t do quickly, and you have to do 15 reps on each side. Twice.

The good news is that I believe in Week 2, Autumn recognizes that this exercise lasts for an eternity and changes it so that you will only do 10 reps TOTAL, as opposed to 10 reps for EACH arm. Thank God.

All in all, prepare to sweat and swear. Total Body Core is a killer in this Phase. Did I take my Energize today before working out? Hell yes. Was I still cursing Autumn’s name as I struggled with low twisting lunge hammer curl? Yes. Just look at the damn things:

Low Twisting Lunge with Hammer Curl
The move is no better than its name. It’s a mouthful and a handful.

Nothing about this move is pleasant. Did I get the workout done? Yep. And you will too. Just don’t quit.

Whelp, that’s all for now. I’m off to SoCal tomorrow for a wedding which means I need to pack and get some beauty sleep. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should add that the reason I was so tired this morning is because I’ve been doing the “deplete week” meal plan for Monday through Wednesday in an effort to look extra shredded at the wedding I will be attending on Friday. Will it work? No idea. I’ll let you know. But please, until you get through 80 Day Obsession, do as I say, not as I do. As today’s workout shows you, you need all the fuel you can get.

Phase 1, Day 9: Booty (aka Here We Go Again)

Mid-way through today’s workout I was ready for it to be over.

Not because it was hard or because I thought I might die or because my legs hurt so bad I wanted to stop.

No, I was ready for it to be over because today’s workout just felt LONG. Where you get done with the first round of exercises and realize you STILL have two more rounds to go.

Booty this week is the exact same exercises from last week, but instead of doing 2 sets of 15 reps, you do all exercises for 10 reps, then go through and do them all again, then go through and do them all again. 3 sets of 10 reps. And with this set-up, it feels like it takes FOREVER.

This will probably be a recurring theme throughout this week: The workouts feel slightly tedious.

So, let’s talk about something that is probably a bit more relevant: Those damn resistance loops.

I guarantee that if you went through today’s workout, you were hating the loops. You might also have been wondering if you were getting a good workout, or if you were doing it right because you weren’t really feeling it where Autumn said you should. My first time through, I struggled to know if I was getting the most out of the loops, because I wasn’t sure if it was hard enough. Was I getting the most out of the workout?

Here’s the deal. If you are doing the exercises with the loops and you aren’t feeling it, you either don’t have the loop placed correctly on your leg, or you need to increase the resistance loop. If you have the loop too high up your thighs, it offers no resistance so everything feels real easy. You want the loop placed about two inches above your knees, but you’re going to have to experiment with what position works best for you. The problem with that, of course, is that even though today’s workout feels like it takes FOREVER, Autumn actually moves you pretty quickly from one exercise to another, so it’s hard to find the time to adjust your loops. But do it. Hit pause, and adjust. Even if it means you have to spend the rest of the workout dealing with a big PAUSE sign on the TV (my morning), it will be worth it to get the loops placed properly.

How do you know if you should increase the loop resistance? Well, if you’re using a yellow and aren’t feeling anything, bump up to a green. If you’re using a green and aren’t feeling it, bump up to a blue. And if you’re already on blue, double-loop it and add a yellow.

Yes, to those of you joining us for the first time, double-looping is a thing, and it does work. But don’t go crazy with it. Especially, don’t go for a double blue loop right out of the gate. Trust me, that shit is hard, and unless your glutes are super ripped, you won’t be able to do double blues while maintaining the right form.

PRO TIP TO DOUBLE-LOOPING: PUT ON ONE LOOP AT A TIME. MAKE SURE THE LOOP IS IN PLACE AND LYING FLAT AGAINST YOUR SKIN BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO PUT THE SECOND LOOP ON OVER IT.

IF you are between loops – that is, if a blue feels too light, but you’re not sure whether you’re ready to try double-looping, then really focus on engaging the muscle that should be working. For example, there is an exercise called “clam,” where you lie on your side with your knees stacked on top of one another at a 90 degree angle, loops around your thighs, and you then proceed to open and close your knees like a clam (terrible description, but bear with me). The exercise works a VERY tiny muscle. For me to work that muscle, I have to really slow down and focus not only on that tiny muscle, but also on keeping my core tight so I don’t rock back. If my core is loose, I rock back which causes another part of my butt to engage, thereby ensuring I don’t work the right muscle. So even though I fall behind, I have to go slow to make sure I work what I am supposed to be working. Replace that extra resistance loop with careful focus, and you can make the workout work for you.

Here’s me doing my favorite exercise of the day:

Side Lunge, Double-Looped
Side lunge, double-looped. I had to pause halfway through because the loops started to go too far up my thighs

This was my fave exercise because it was the LAST exercise. Thank God.

So that’s me bitching about Booty Day. Trust me, Booty day gets a LOT more interesting, and moves WAY quicker after this week. This was a workout you just have to slog through.

Before turning in for the night, I want to touch briefly on the nutrition plan. IF you are reading this and wondering if it’s weird that you’re still hungry all the time, the answer is YES, IT IS. If, after a full 10 days, you are barely making it to the two-hour mark between meals before your stomach starts growling loud enough for others to hear, you need to bump up meal plans.

At this point last time, I was eating in Meal Plan B, and hating life. My energy was low, I was crabby when I came home, and I was having a really, REALLY hard time resisting temptation. I was managing it only because I would come straight home, brush my teeth, and put my retainers in…at 6:30 pm to keep from eating anything else later in the night.

It took me awhile to cotton on to the fact that I needed to bump up to Meal Plan C – I didn’t figure that out and actually do it until mid-way through Phase 2. And I will tell you that a big reason I started this blog is because I wanted to know if anyone else was feeling like me, and the Google machine wasn’t helping.

Look, it’s natural in the first week to feel a bit crabby and tired and to crave foods you normally eat – that’s your body adjusting. But if those symptoms persist, there’s something else going on. Such as: You need to eat more food. For me, I was working full-time then doing night classes. That made for a long day with me not getting home until after 8 pm. Yet I was barely able to push my last meal to 5:30 pm because I would get so hungry by 4:30 pm I couldn’t focus for the last hour at work.

When I bumped up from Meal Plan B to C, I was able to make it comfortably to 6:30 pm before eating my last meal. More importantly, I had more energy and was a LOT more pleasant to be around.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: You need to eat to fuel your body. Don’t think that just because you bump up a meal plan, you will bulk up or gain weight. If you’re eating clean and working out, you won’t. If you doubt me, know this: Autumn Calabrese, the diminutive sprite with the killer abs who created 80 Day Obsession and probably barely weighs 100 pounds soaking wet, eats out of Meal Plan C.

Just like working with the resistance loops, you will have to experiment with the meal plan in terms of what works for you. BUT, don’t take that as free license to experiment with substituting a whole cake for one yellow. Save that shit for refeed day.

You’ll see what I mean.

For now, I will leave you with the usual link to Beachbody, and this picture of the mouth-watering steak I enjoyed tonight, courtesy of the boyfriend. See how well you can eat in 80 Day Obsession?!

BEEF: It's what's for dinner...
…when the boyfriend cooks