PEAK WEEK, Day 75: AAA from Phase 1 (aka The One Where You Can Feel Yourself Shredding Out)

I came up with multiple aka’s for this program during the course of the workout:

  • The One Where You Can’t Stop Grabbing Your Ass In Public;
  • The One Where You Want to Run To the Nearest Mirror to Check Out Your Abs;
  • The One Where You Might Faceplant Because Your Arms Give Out.

Since nobody remembers this workout (so much has happened since then), here’s what you have to look forward to:

Three series of four exercises each.

Series 1: Upright Row, Bent Over Fly, Frog Sliders, Glute Bridge with Loop.

Series 2: Push-Up, Skull Crushers, Weighted Ab Sit-Up, Quad Ped Heel Press.

Series 3: Bent Over Row, Hammer Curl, Knee Tucks, Fire Hydrant.

The lift scheme is two sets of 15 reps, where you take it all a series at a time; that is, you do all exercises in a row for 15 reps each, then go back and repeat before moving on to the next series. As a result, the workout moves along nice, though still clocks in at 53 minutes.

Also as a result, you will get some booty pump and dead arms. I am having to take breaks as I type this to shake my arms out at my side to get the blood flowing. My biceps/triceps/shoulders literally start spasming if I keep my fingers on the keyboard for too long. It’s too much work for those tired muscles.

It’s not that these exercises are hard. They are. But the intensity is different. You’ll sweat, but nowhere near as much as you did in the Phase 3 AAA workout. You will also notice that there are almost no compound movements. For example, if you recall the last time we did skull crushers, we did them while up in a glute bridge and with loops around our thighs. You would think that without the loops and glute bridge, the move is therefore a lot easier.

My shaking arms stay otherwise.

Without the extra moves, you can focus in on one particular muscle group – triceps for the skull crushers – and try and lift a little heavier. Surprisingly, the static focus acts as a shock to the system. You get a good burn going; so good, in fact, that afterwards you’ll want to run to a mirror to see if your tricep muscle is popping because they are going to feel extra defined.

Same goes for your abs on the slider moves.

But the true test of strength, the real measure of how far you’ve come, is push-ups. I guarantee you that is why Autumn chose this workout. You might not be able to find your Phase 1 tracker sheets to see what you lifted at the end of that Phase; and, even if you find your tracker sheets, your weights today might differ from your weights back then. But when you do that first push-up, you’ll feel the difference.

Autumn will be calling out cues, and you’ll find you can follow along. Don’t let your back arch; head in a straight line; lift your butt and pelvis a bit more. Instead of dreading these normal push-ups, you’ll relish them. If you’ve made it this far in the program, this move, more than any other, will be the true testament to your progress. You’ll surprise yourself with how strong you feel, especially in the first few. You can actually LOWER yourself with some control and come up with some power. And you can do this for multiple reps! Sure, it gets a bit sloppy at the end, but remember when you FIRST did these push-ups? you were on your knees! Check out how far you’ve come. You might even feel good enough to go back and take a few photos to share:

Push-Up
Amazing how such a simple move can tell such an important story.

Aside from the push-ups, you will be afraid that your arms are going to give out during the quad ped moves and the fire hydrants and the knee tucks and the frog sliders. Don’t think this is just you. You are not alone. And it does not mean you are weak. It just means your body isn’t used to the workout and it’s a good wake-up call. Which is the whole point of PEAK WEEK, to shock your body off any plateau it might have reached.

It will also have you grabbing your ass a lot because of the focus on your glutes.

Again, when was the last time you did an exercise on your hands and knees, using the loops? Maybe Phase 2. Which is why when you do it during Peak Week, your ass can tell. It feels EXTRA big after all those reps, and I guarantee your hands will be wandering back to check and see how many sizes it grew during the exercise.

Regardless of the Booty gains made during this workout, it’s Day 75, and if you’re like me, you’re going to be happy to say goodbye to this workout. It’s nice to FINALLY have one in the books for good…until next time.

Get some sleep for Cardio Flow tomorrow. It’ll be fun for once, I swear.

Link to the Beachbody goods here. Message me with any thoughts or tips or hopes or dreams.

xo

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 1, Day 22: Booty (aka The One With ALL The Noises)

Oh Booty day, how you get me.

Every week in phase 1, I underestimate Booty day. It’s the one day of the week where I don’t have to go to the gym to work-out because none of the exercises require weights or jumping. Which means I get to sleep in an extra half hour before sweating from the comfort of my own home. Every week, I get set up with my loops and think, “How hard could this be?”

Turns out, when you’re double-banding with the blue loops, pretty damn hard.

First things first: Logistics. It’s two sets of 15 reps, and you do it each round at a time, which guarantees muscle burn out. So for example, in the first round, you do all three exercises in a row for 15 reps each, then go back through and do the three exercises in a row for 15 reps, then BOOM you’re done and you move on to the next round. No messing around in Week 4.

Also, in case I’ve neglected to mention it, unless you are a man or a woman with a huge range of motion, or have a lot of weight to lose (i.e. you have a larger frame), you will probably be sticking with the 6 inch loops for these moves. The larger 9 inch loops are helpful if you’re tall, however, for some of the moves. For me, I use the 6 inch loops for all exercises, until I get to hip hinge. Then, because I’m so tall, I switch to the 9 inch loop to allow for greater range of motion. I went back and forth on what size loop to use for hip hinge, and finally settled on the 9 inch ones because they feel more comfortable and I don’t have to worry about the loop snapping mid-stretch and taking out an eyeball.

Because in Week 4, there’s a lot better stuff to worry about.

Like all the noises that will be coming out of your mouth.

Thank God I do this workout at home, because between the moans and groans and grunts and panting someone at the gym would probably call 911 for fear I was having a heart attack.

No No, that’s just me doing yet another set of leg lifts with double-banded blue loops.

As I noted last week, I finally figured out the right kind of hard for me when I double-banded with the blue loops. This week, even though I’d never done such double-looping for the 15 reps, I figured it was time.

To say my ass was on fire would be an understatement. My form was on the verge of terribleness, sweat was dripping down my face, and all body parts were shaking from fatigue. For the first time in one of Autumn’s workouts, I was so happy when we went from the floor to standing up –it meant I got to take off the loops and return circulation to my legs. Here’s me dying during the quad-ped exercises:

Leg Lifts
Burn out is imminent

The reason this workout calls for ALL the noises is because you will be making ALL the noises to simply survive. You are working very small muscles repeatedly. At a certain point, the only thing that keeps you going is loudly forcing air out of your mouth in direct proportion to how hard the muscle is working. Which means everything gets real loud, real quick.

Don’t be afraid to make noise. It helps with the pain and allows you to push through the fatigue. Do what you need to do to survive. If it means waking up the hubs and kids, so be it.

On that note, don’t hold anything back this week. Don’t save yourself for Phase 2. You won’t see these workouts AGAIN for the rest of the 80 Days, so now is the time to prove to yourself how much stronger you have become since you started. Now is the time to measure your progress with non-scale victories –they should be plentiful if you are working out and sticking with the timed nutrition.

NOTE, however, that this doesn’t mean you load up with a bunch of weight you’ve never done before. No. What it means is you listen to your body and try and gauge if it is up for lifting either what you started the program with, or a slight increase. Don’t go crazy just to prove you can. If you’ve only ever managed a yellow band in these Booty workouts, don’t jump to double-band with blues. You’ve never done it before; you’ll be setting yourself up for injury and failure. Instead, progress to the next natural step: The green loops.

Which leads me to one last point: You are going to want to order a fresh set of loops NOW. It is a good idea to have a spare set on hand, either for your use, or to have backups for when your loops develop tears or break. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that one or the other happens; you’ll be working the loops too hard to make it through with the same set. So bite the bullet and stock up so that on the day you notice that tiny tear in one of your loops, you’re prepared to simply throw it out and move on with the workout.

Not sure where to go to buy more loops? Clicking on the link HERE is a good start.

Okay, that’s all I got. Super excited for Cardio Core tomorrow. Last time through on Day 23, that is when I found my WHY. It’s when I buckled down and made a commitment to finish the program, even though life tried its hardest to force me in another direction. 80 Day Obsession is pretty much the only thing that got me through that time. Check back in tomorrow to learn more.

Until then, make some noise and love it!

 

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

 

Phase 1, Day 2: Booty (aka the Silent Killer)

Confession: I am a workout snob.

It’s not my fault. It’s how I was raised. Or rather, it was how I spent my formative high school and college years.

Let me explain.

I played college basketball. Not well, mind you. But I was on a Division I women’s basketball team, which means my four years in college were spent participating in all things basketball-related, whether they were mandatory or “voluntary.” A typical day in pre-season looked like this:

  • Wake up;
  • Go to class;
  • “Voluntary” weights for an hour and a half;
  • Go back to class;
  • Conditioning (not a silent killer; just a flat-out killer);
  • Open gym;
  • Study.

Somewhere in there, I ate. Terrible food. And lots of it. All told, I spent approximately 4-5 hours a day working out. Which gave me free license, I thought to put whatever food I wanted into my body, because food was food was food. And food was fuel. Ergo, confetti cake was the perfect food to eat after a marathon gym session because it was…food.

My college days left me with a two-fold problem: 1) I thought that to get a quality workout, I needed to spend at least 4-5 hours sweating my ass off doing exercises I loathed, and B) I had no idea how to eat properly so that people could actually tell I had spent 4-5 hours sweating my ass off doing exercises I loathed.

Which brings me to today’s workout: Booty. Quickly, some logistics: It was again 2 sets of 15, where you go all the way through all the exercises, then go back through them all again. There were again 5 series:

  1. Glute Bridge;
  2. Quad Ped;
  3. Side Lying;
  4. Standing; and
  5. Moving.

The only equipment needed? Resistance Loops.

Here, friends, is where my workout snobbery kicked in my first time doing this workout: I thought there was no way in hell I could get anything remotely resembling a good workout without either using weights or losing half my body weight in water while jumping. As this workout requires neither of those options, I was prepared to write off Booty as another way to get some new Beachbody sucker to spend more money on over-priced Beachbody products (i.e. those loops).

My face in the photo below should tell you otherwise.

Booty Burn
My face says it all about the booty burn.

This workout is deceptively hard. You spend most of the workout off your feet, so you think, “no sweat, I got this!”

And then you get to the 12th rep and your ass is on fire and your legs are shaking and you have sweat dripping off your face onto the carpet and you’re cursing both Autumn Calabrese and her damn resistance loops from hell and wondering how the fuck you’re supposed to make it through ANOTHER round.

But then, suddenly, you’re done, and for the first time ever your butt feels slightly swollen following a workout. Not like sick swollen, but SWOLE swollen. The good kind.

Booty in Phase 1 with your friend. This workout lures you in and lulls you to sleep with the promise of of doing the majority of the exercises either on your back or on your side or on your hands and knees. There’s no running or jumping or heavy lifting. It’s all concentrated movements that focus on specific muscles. It is the perfect switch-up from the full body intensity that is total body core, and the jump-rope heavy plyometrics that is tomorrow’s workout. It is absolutely do-able, and it’s a good reminder that you don’t need to go crazy on a treadmill or in the gym in order to get a quality workout.

I learned this the first time I did the Booty workout, and I was reminded of it today when I went back to Basics with Day 2 in Phase 1. It was like hanging out with an old college friend after a decade apart and not missing a beat of conversation.

But then that friend pretty much pushes you into a pile of dog shit while walking; because you go to sit down on the toilet and almost fall off because it turns out those muscles aren’t quite up to the task of a controlled lower to the porcelain throne.

Which, frankly, is the mark of an amazing workout. And a super unfunny friend.

One last pearl of wisdom before I close up shop for the night: Two days in, you may be feeling sore and suffering from terrible cravings. You may be wondering if this will get better and if you should continue to do this.

Yes, this will get better. I promise. But it will take work.

Yes, you should continue to do this. It is worth it. But it will be work.

Tomorrow, if you are doubting your resolve or ability, promise yourself that you will at least put on your gym clothes. Promise yourself you will then at least go to the gym or hit play in the living room. Promise yourself to then at least do the warm-up, because you’re going to be sore, and the warm-up will at least loosen you up and make you feel better. Then, if you do that and you do feel better, promise yourself you will at least TRY the first move in Cardio Core, just to see what it’s like.

Just try it. Take small steps to see how you feel. Because I guarantee those small steps will make you feel way better than you anticipated, and before you know it, you will have Day 3 in the bag.

But, until then, be careful going to the bathroom.

Link below for more info on the Beachbody stuff. Oh, and don’t skimp on the resistance loops. They are high quality and absolutely worth the price, and you will probably go through 2 sets of them during a single round of 80 Day Obsession. I know I did.

https://mysite.coach.teambeachbody.com?coachId=1603264&locale=en_US