Phase 2, Day 43: AAA (aka Fri-Yay)

AAA is the perfect Friday workout.

It gets a good sweat going, works all the muscles, and when you go to lift something heavy when you get home and find your arm shaking, you know it got the job done. You can then head into your weekend knowing that even if you slip up a little on nutrition, you worked hard enough on Friday that it shouldn’t matter. (At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

Case in point: I had to switch out my winter tires for “summer” tires today. Which required me lugging tires to and from my parents’ storage closet. While my Mom and Dad each carried one tire, I handled two; but during the interminable minutes when my father had to sort through the key ring looking for the right key without his glasses, I suddenly realized my arms were shaking, trembling with exertion from holding up two tires.

Instead of being pissed for feeling weak, I took it as a sign that I had a great workout. Because I did.

I felt strong and steady, even though my arm threatened to give out on the plank tricep kickbacks (hate that one). I even went up to 22.5 pound dumbbells on the renegade rows:

Renegade Rows
Strong but steady wins the race.

As per usual at this point in the phase, I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share. Today’s workout scheme was three sets of 10 reps, but where you do it all one series at a time. You know what it all looks like and what to expect.

That said, I do have one pro tip.

PRO TIP #89: IF YOUR LOOP CONTINUES TO ROLL UP, ADD ANOTHER.

The exercise I’m talking about is Loops Scissor Twist, where you put a loop around your thighs, lie down on the ground on your back with your feet straight up in the air, then proceed to lower the right leg as you crunch up and twist to the left leg, which remains straight up in the air. Lower for a three count, then bring up in one; at which point you lower the left leg as you crunch up and twist to the right. Repeat for 10 reps.

I have struggled with this exercise because every time I’ve attempted it in Phase 2, the loops slide too far down my thighs to the point of being worthless.

Until today.

Today, I added a THIRD loop, so I was doing two blues and a green. My circulation, amazingly, was fine. But more importantly, this time when I lowered a leg down, the loops remained in place at that crucial spot about four inches above my knees, where I get the most resistance.

Frankly, the reason it took me so long to add a third loop was because it didn’t occur to me to do so until Autumn did so herself today in the workout. Something about doing more than two loops seems bizarre, like trying to lift with two dumbbells in your left hand but only one in the right. But it made sense today. And more importantly, it worked. I suspect I will really know it worked when I go to sneeze tomorrow and my abs let me know they are tired. Yay.

I’m keeping this short tonight because my arms are barking even just typing this. AAA got me good. Huzzah for Fri-Yay.

If you want to learn more or buy more loops, check out the link. Otherwise, cheers to the weekend!

Phase 2, Day 33: Booty (aka Never Miss a Monday)

It’s not that I didn’t want to workout today. It’s moreso that my body is still in vacation mode, and taking a day off, like TRULY taking a day off from life and work and eating right, sounded right up my alley.

Truth be told, that probably would have happened had I not happened to check Autumn’s Instagram while lying in bed this morning. “Never miss a Monday,” she posted. Even though today didn’t feel like a Monday, even though I was still in the holiday zone, I rolled out of bed, ate my pre-workout meal, and got my ass to the gym.

It wasn’t pretty, but I got it done.

Booty. Boo-TAY. An almost hour-long workout this week doing the rep scheme I hate: Three sets of 10 reps, but where you go through the entire workout three times, doing each exercise for 10 reps. I hate it because it takes forever. The workouts don’t change, but that doesn’t make them easy.

Also, I can’t remember if I stressed this last week, but I do have a pro-tip for the Quad-Ped series.

PRO-TIP #44: LIGHTEN UP.

It is very easy to do the quad ped exercises (heel press up on the angle, single-leg hamstring curl, and bear fire hydrant) WRONG. Why? Because if you let your knee drop when you fully extend your leg, you’re taking the movement out of your butt and into your quad.

As Autumn points out with a cast member, if you can’t keep your knee UP during these moves, you might have to lighten up on the resistance loop. That cast member, Jazmyne, is RIPPED. Seriously, she started 80 Day Obsession already shredded, yet somehow managed to carve her abs and triceps out even more over the course of the program. And, her ass is #buttgoals.

But despite her pre-conditioning, she struggled with the quad ped series because of her tight hip flexors. As a result, she eventually ended up not using a band at ALL for the heel press up on the angle and single-leg hamstring curl because she could not do either without keeping her knee up. What was most important was her form, and given how her body was wired, she could not keep perfect form and work the muscle that needed to be worked: Her glutes.

I am sharing this because if you are anything like me, you will be frustrated with the quad ped series. I alternate between wanting to challenge myself with a heavier resistance loop, and watching my form. My problem is that my back tends to arch, which means I feel it more in my lower back than in my butt. Case in point:

Heel Press Up on Angle
WAYYYY too much lower back action here.

You can see I put on a blue loop for this exercise. After I snapped this photo, for the next round, I swapped out the blue for the green and managed to tuck my tailbone and lose the arch.

My point being that this week will press some buttons. The rep scheme will feel wrong, you might not increase the weight as much as you like, and all of it tends to come to a head in a cloud of frustration that makes it hard to be motivated to workout. Honestly, the only thing that got me through today was Autumn’s mantra, which I HAPPENED to stumble across: “Never Miss a Monday.” That was the only thing that kept me going.

I knew that after the celebratory, holiday weekend I enjoyed in San Diego, I was in need of a good workout to get keyed back in to the 80 Day Obsession plan. AND, I knew that if I worked out, I would be more likely to get back on the timed nutrition trian.

For the most part, my morning workout set me on the path of eating right….Except for the fact that dinner at my Aunt’s house was moved to tonight. AND WHO CAN SAY NO TO HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY PIE. IT’S JUST RUDE.

However, I only had one slice. And I swapped out my hamburger bun for some bibb lettuce and only had one helping of everything, even though I desperately wanted a second half ear of corn. I’m typing this now feeling full, but not obscenely so – a marked change from what I usually experience most nights after family dinner. So, I suppose I will take it as a win and use the rest of the week to get back on the straight and narrow. But I am NOT going to punish myself and use my less-than-perfect day as an excuse to throw the rest of the meal plans out for the week and eat garbage instead. No. I’ll just eat better tomorrow than I did today. Progress not perfection. That’s all I can do.

At the very least, I got my Monday workout in. I pushed play and have now set the tone for the rest of the week. And that tone says I WILL work out according to schedule.

All because I didn’t miss a Monday.

So, don’t miss a Monday. For most of you, it’s not too late. But, if you’re really struggling, hit me up. I might be able to help. Or, check out the usual link for ways the Beachbody shenanigans could help you.

After all, even if you miss a Monday, it doesn’t mean you have to miss the next.

 

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