Phase 1, Day 10: Cardio Core (aka Get in the Zone)

I greeted Day 10, Cardio Core, like I would an old friend: With a warm hug and a little trepidation that I might throw up in my mouth.

My fears were misplaced, however, as I made it through the workout without incident. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself.

Once you get over your initial fear of the title, you settle into the groove of trying to improve every week in Cardio Core. Even better, the workout is structured so that it’s easy to tell if you’re making progress. That’s because the workout doesn’t change from week-to-week: You do the same exercises in the same order for the same amount of time. The only thing that changes is your stamina and strength. And, admittedly, the amount of rest time Autumn gives you in between.

Which means instead of focusing on what’s to come, you can focus on trying to do one more rep, or sinking that much lower into a squat. Or, if you’re me, you pretty much just zone out. It’s great. Unlike Cardio Flow where I have to think about what number and exercise I’m on, Cardio Core makes it easy to get in the zone and stay in the zone. Autumn tells you what to do and when, and you just have to make sure you don’t quit or throw up during the intervals.

So that’s the second vomit reference this post. Was I queasy this morning? No. But I did definitely feel my pre-workout meal for a few of the jumps. I mean, when you’re holding yourself up on one hand, crunching your stomach for 10 reps, all while sweeping the leg (“SWEEP THE LEG, JOHNNY”), and then go immediately into faux jump-roping, it’s hard to not get the stomach contents all jumbled. Here’s me pushing through even though I can taste what I had for brekkie:

All the tricep definition!

Yes. I posted this photo because even though I look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, I’m super proud of that tricep definition. Thanks, 80 Day Obsession!

Also, the first time I did the move pictured above, I had to hit pause and rest after 5 reps to catch my breath. By the time I hit the final ab round that first time, I had to sit on my knees for a full 30 seconds before starting. And then I had to take a knee in the middle of circle-over-teasers. That was Week 1. It wasn’t good.

But I set a small goal for myself: In Week 2, I would take one less break than I did in Week 1. I did – I made it through the sweeps without the break.

In Week 3, I set a similar goal; same with Week 4. But the time I hit the end of Phase 1, I was able to do all the ab exercises without stopping. It wasn’t easy, but it allowed me to measure my progress. I KNEW I was getting stronger because I was capable of pushing through and finishing a workout that I couldn’t 4 weeks earlier.

That’s why I love Cardio Core: It gives you a sense of accomplishment without having to track your weights. You can measure your success by how hard you push and whether you have to take a break. And, the Phase 1 is short enough that you can actually REMEMBER how hard it was in the beginning and therefore RECOGNIZE your progress.

So, give yourself some credit. If you are reading this after making it through Cardio Core today, I hope you pushed a little bit harder than last time; I hope you did one extra rep of frog jumps with a twist; I hope you took one less rest break.

All those little improvements add up, so savor the victory and prepare for tomorrow. Because AAA is a BEAST!

That’s the workout. Now on, briefly, to nutrition. I neglected to write about something that came up for me yesterday, and might be relevant for those of you following the timed nutrition plan for the first time. Here’s what happened:

I had my meals planned out so that my last meal, dinner, would occur at about 6:15 pm. My boyfriend, the chef, offered to cook steak. So I trundled home from the office, ready to eat at around 6:20 pm…only to find that the bf had yet to start cooking.

Well, between baking the tater and roasting the asparagus and grilling the steak, dinner wasn’t ready until 7:45. And I have to tell you, I was RAVENOUS. Once I passed the three-hour mark without eating at 6:15 pm, it was as though an alarm bell started going off in my body and I had to have ALL THE FOODZ. ALL THE FOODZ NOW. It was all I could do to keep from rooting around in the fridge for something, ANYthing to curb my appetite. The fact there is still a bag of those pretzel chips from Costco on top of the fridge blows my mind, because I was damn close to busting it open and finishing it off. Really, the only thing that saved me was cracking open a La Croix, telling myself it was champagne, and then helping myself to a heaping teaspoon of peanut butter as an appetizer. (Yes, your concept of fine dining starts to change in this program. It’s a necessity.)

When we finally sat down to eat, I hoovered down my food and felt…not satiated. I had half a baked potato, the right portion size of steak, and 11 spears of asparagus. Normally, my last meal of the day fills me right up and cures me of the need to look for more food.

But last night, I finished my plate and then realized I was staring longingly at what remained on my boyfriend’s. I didn’t feel full. I could have eaten everything on his plate, in addition to mine, and STILL cracked open that bag of pretzel chips.

I had to sit there for a moment and think about what was going on. I was eating exactly what I was supposed to, but because my body had shifted to “starvation mode,” it seemed as though it thought it needed more food than it did. That is, because I missed the timed nutrition window to eat my last meal of the day, it was having a terrible effect on my appetite.

What did I do? I drank a shit ton of water and had 2 cups of herbal tea to fill me up, and that did the trick. I also started blogging, which took my mind off the emptiness, so that by the time I went to bed, I felt fine.

But my point is this: If you aren’t eating within the 2-3 hour window as designated by your meal plan, you are probably feeling ravenously hungry at different parts throughout the day. And when that happens, what you do eat, even if it’s perfectly portioned out, probably isn’t satiating you, which may be leading you down the path of tempting food cravings.

So, in 80 Day Obsession, just as important as what you put in your body is WHEN you put it in your body. Make an effort to eat every 2-3 hours, even if you don’t feel that hungry. 80 Day Obsession is designed to get your metabolism up, and to keep it up, you have to eat at regular intervals throughout the day. If you don’t, your body throws a tantrum and it will be real hard to resist those pretzel chips. Or dessert. Or home baked goods. Nomz.

I hope this tip helps. It took me awhile to figure it out. But once I did, and stuck religiously to the eating windows, it got a lot easier to control my cravings. I hope you can say the same.

Anywho, all’s well that ends well! Peruse the link for the usual Beachbody offerings, and the brand new program which launched today, 2B Mindset! Still not sure what it’s about, but watch this space.


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.


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