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 2, Day 36: Legs (aka Sorry Not Sorry)

Last week I blogged about how this workout GETS THE JOB DONE.

This week, you do the same exercises as last week, but do all exercises in a row for 10 reps, then repeat for another 2 sets for a total of 3 sets. There’s only five exercises with weights, and after each exercise you drop the weight and immediately go to burn out the muscle using the sliders.

To be clear, I was never a huge fan of leg day growing up. Leg day in college as part of the basketball workouts meant putting super heavy weight on my shoulders and attempting to squat it up and down. It meant attempting deadlifts with tires on the end of the bar and trying to avoid blowing out my back. It mean moving those tires on and off the bar as you shifted from lunges to good mornings and back again.

In short, leg day was hell. It was painful, lasted forever, and I never felt like I got that much stronger despite how much sweat I left on the floor behind me.

Thankfully, Leg Day in 80 Day Obsession has little in common with what I went through in college.

I wouldn’t say I’m yet a fan of Leg Day, but I can say that in Phase 2, at least, I look forward to the workouts. I look forward to targeting the muscle group each exercise is designed to work, burning it out, and then moving on. I like that I don’t have to struggle with super heavy weights and manhandle them off the rack and onto my back. I like being able to challenge myself with just these little plastic discs and booties that slide back and forth on the floor.

In the old days, if any sort of hiccup arose during Leg Day (SHIT the water fountain isn’t working! There’s a bee! I can’t find the 25 pound plate!) I would immediately use it as an excuse to end the workout early. ANYthing to get out of the gym.

Today, I could have gone down that same road. I could have chosen to use the obstacle presented to defeat me and use it as an excuse to go home.

I didn’t. Let’s discuss.

See, at my gym, the weight area floor is covered in rubber mats. This is great for your joints and the floor (when you drop weights on the latter), but not so great for the sliders which are required in Leg Day. Which means that when sliders are called for, I then have to put down my weights and run across the room to throw my sliders down on the tiles of the merchandise area. In the midst of hangers of clothes and shelves of protein powder, I then proceed to knock out 10 reps on the sliders. Then I have to run back to the weight area and move on to the next exercise with dumbbells.

When the focus is to truly burn out the muscle by keeping it under tension for as long as possible, the time necessary to run over to the merchandise area is not conducive to that goal.

So today, after having to hit pause a million times during the first round, I made the executive decision to move a couple of sets of weights, my mat, my sliders, my tracker sheet, and everything else to a tiled hallway off the entrance to my gym that almost no one uses at 6 in the morning. I mean, the hallway leads to the kids’ playroom which is closed at that hour, so I figured I would be out of everyone’s way.

Wrong. Apparently that hallway is also used by the gym staff to roll tubs of dirty towels in and out of the room with the washing machine. And apparently, 6 am is when they start their first load.

Which means that this morning, when the staffer with the mermaid colored hair went back to throw in that first load of stinky towels, there I was in her way, rocking out some pistol squats on the sliders.

INSERT CRINGEY-FACE EMOJI.

The dirty look she gave me caused me to mouth “I’m sorry!” with a deeply apologetic look on my sweaty face. When she later came out of the room rolling a tub of the day’s clean towels, I moved all my equipment against the wall and cringed.

But I didn’t stop. And to be honest, I wasn’t sorry.

You know you are truly obsessed with getting your workout in, be it 80 Day Obsession or otherwise, when you don’t let mermaids shooting daggers at your back stop you from finishing Leg Day. I could have allowed her obvious disapproval of my workout spot to halt my workout. Maybe I probably should have because I was a fire hazard. But until they tell me I can’t workout in that hallway, or the fire marshall taps me on the shoulder and tells me to move my ass back to the weight area, I’ll continue to do what I need to do to finish my workout for the day.

So yeah. Sorry not sorry.

I hope you are at the point now where you have the same mental fortitude about finishing your own workout(s). Because shit comes up. Rare is the day when we find ourselves WITHOUT a distraction in that half hour to hour-long spot we have allotted ourselves for active alone time. When those distractions rear their ugly heads, I hope your determination cuts it off at the root and you do what you need to do to get the job done.

Like Leg Day.

No pictures today, just a lot of words and a bit of attitude. And of course the usual link to some fun stuff.

 

Phase 2, Day 35: Total Body Core (aka REFEED DAY)

If you are reading this right now with a splitting sugar headache, you did Refeed Day wrong.

To be fair, it was probably hard to control yourself. Because on this day, this holiest of holy days, when that purveyor of ass and abs, Autumn Calabrese, FINALLY gives you permission to eat chocolate and other high glycemic foods for the scientific purpose of replenishing your glycogen levels after weeks of deprivation, who are you to look a gift horse in the mouth? And yes, I know you are limited to a certain number of the dirty yellows which must be consumed at certain points during the day, but I know firsthand how hard it is to exercise self-control when that first rush of sugar hits the bloodstream. It’s like sharks to chum: Your brain gets a whiff of that shit and all bets are off.

But first you must struggle through Total Body Core. In this second week of Phase 2, you do each exercise for 10 reps; go through all the exercises a row, then repeat two more times for a total of 3 sets. Despite the workout running about an hour in length, you don’t notice the time. You move quickly from one exercise to another and before you know it, you’re going through your last rep.

I think the reason this workout flows so nicely is because of its pacing: You go from an exercise that kills you to one that still hurts, but not as badly. It’s structured to give you a bit more recovery time, even as it works a different muscle group. Here’s me working EVERY muscle group with squat row something something something:

Squat Row etc.
First exercise is also probably the hardest.

Case in point: The above exercise sucks. Your shoulder will burn, your core will burn, your legs will burn. But it is the very FIRST exercise of the workout, which means each time, you have enough energy to power through because you’re either starting fresh (set 1) or coming off a little break (sets 2 and 3). Again, as with most Beachbody workouts, Total Body Core is hard, but do-able.

Now let’s move on to the fun stuff: Refeed Day. My first Refeed Day, I made donut holes and flourless chocolate chickpea brownies. For my “breakfast,” I got to consume TWO dirty yellows, and allocated a single donut hole and brownie to have with my cup of tea.

Donut Holes and Flourless Chocolate Brownies
Who knew chickpeas could taste so good (apologies for the stapler cameo).

My secretary happened to walk in on me consuming these foods and told me the noises I was making were highly inappropriate for the workplace. I did not care.

I enjoyed these donut holes and brownies RESPONSIBLY throughout my first Refeed Day and the two Refeed Days after that. Again, my problem was not necessarily Refeed Day, but prepping for Refeed Day on Sunday, when I’d lick the bowls and taste test my wares. In essence, I got TWO Refeed Days a week, and as a result, I’m pretty sure my results were not as on point as they could be.

Similarly, this second time through 80 Day Obsession, I am not doing the Refeed Days because I spent all weekend consuming dirty yellows at a wedding. While I could chalk that up to failure, I prefer to think of it as replenishing those low glycogen stores…over the weekend….multiple times.

For those of you wondering which dirty yellows are good to try out, check out the food list from the 80 Day Obsession program materials. On page 3 at the bottom, there’s a list of Fixate dessert recipes for Refeed Day. I highly recommend the donut holes and flourless chocolate chickpea brownies. You will need a food processor, and you’re going to doubt the flavor of the brownies because they have CHICKPEAS in them for god’s sake. But so long as you don’t overcook the brownies, they will turn out ooey and gooey and delicious (though be sure to watch Autumn’s Fixate video for the tip on lining the baking dish with greased parchment paper before tipping the batter into the pan).

The donut holes are good too, though beware that the glaze will soak into the finished product. Not that that’s a bad thing, but if you make the holes on Sunday and eat them any later than Wednesday, chances are they could be real soggy and/or about to mold. I would not have kept mine later than Wednesday for that reason.

If you like to cook or bake, use Refeed Day as an excuse to try new recipes. Those brownies are already my go-to for family get-togethers and work parties, if only because I know I can have more than one and not feel too guilty because CHICKPEAS. ‘Nuf said.

Like I said on Saturday, make sure you take note of how you feel after consuming those dirty yellows. Especially take stock prior to and during tomorrow’s Leg Day. Did you have more energy than normal? Did you feel sluggish? Again, depending on how you feel, adjust what you do next time to optimize your results. This is a process. I guarantee you will not get it right the first time. But don’t use that as an excuse to quit or not try again. I WILL participate in Refeed Day next time. And I believe I WILL make either brownies or donut holes. The true test will be keeping myself on a leash while making the damn things.

But hey, progress not perfection, right?

Bon appetit! Usual Link to Beachbody to learn more – especially useful if you want to learn more about Fixate, which you can get through Beachbody On Demand.

Phase 1, Day 25: Legs (aka Sweat, Smile, Repeat)

Autumn loves leg day.

I love Autumn.

Ergo, you would think I love leg day.

I don’t.

I do love that leg day is a targeted workout that accomplishes what it sets out to do: Turn your lower half into a jelly mess that makes climbing three flights of stairs to one’s apartment next to impossible.

I hate the whole turning into a jelly mess part.

The set-up of this workout should come as no surprise: You do each round of three exercises for two sets of 15 reps before moving on to the next round of three exercises. It’s a quick and dirty set-up that gets the job done.

And, because the job gets done so efficiently, on this day, Autumn *SPOILER ALERT* throws in a bonus round: One minute squat hold with a weight. Here is my face:

Conundrum
I can’t tell if I’m laughing or crying. Probably a bit of both.

No idea what I was doing there. All I know is it hurt, yet somehow my legs went DOWN LOWER throughout the workout instead of UP. In short, I have gotten stronger.

I wish I had some pithy words to spur you to greatness in tomorrow’s remaining Phase 1 workout. I wish I had some inspirational quote to get the blood going.

But I don’t. I’m tired. I slept terribly last night and I’m feeling overwhelmed by the thought I have to get up at 4 am tomorrow morning–on a SATURDAY–if I want to get my workout in before a road trip east of the mountains. I feel doughy, mostly because I caught up with old co-workers tonight and had a glass of red wine and a vodka soda and two slices of pizza. I’m frazzled because I’m typing this instead of finishing my nightly routine with some meditation and teeth-brushing.

Which is all to say, even though I – like you – am about to hit a huge accomplishment tomorrow in successfully getting through Phase 1, I just don’t have the energy to pat myself on the back. It’s all I can do to just get through to the next moment, even though the first thing I did this morning was conquer leg day.

(Correction: The first thing I did this morning was let my boyfriend back into the apartment building at 3:30 am after he locked himself out taking down the recycling after I’d gone to sleep, causing him to sit out in the cold for three hours. Thus my fatigue. And his.)

If I am proud of anything from today, it’s that I listened to my body and didn’t push the weights super heavy. When I got into the car to drive to the gym this morning, I twisted around in my seat to look behind me while backing up…and felt my lower back give a slight twinge. I wasn’t injured or hurt, but my back let me know first thing that some caution was warranted. So, I lightened up, especially on sumo squats and hip hinge.

And you know what my notes from today’s workout say about sumo squats, even though I lifted a lighter weight? “Good form; feels strong.”

Sweat, smile, repeat. That was pretty much my mantra for the workout. It will certainly be my mantra for tomorrow’s. Really, the only reason I’m even considering doing a workout after getting up at 4 am is because I know Cardio Flow will put me into a near trance-like state that makes it easier to get through the 30 minute workout.

Gar. This post is garbage, and for that I apologize. It’s just been one of those days and I need some sleep. We can’t all be perfect and I’m human. Besides, as I’ve said before, I’m shooting for progress, not perfection.

Here’s to finishing Phase 1 and to having enough energy to properly recognize the accomplishment tomorrow.

Phase 1, Day 20: Cardio Flow (aka Just Do It)

I go back and forth on Cardio Flow.

On the one hand, the workout feels mindlessly repetitive and it’s easy to get bored and zone out.

On the other hand, the workout feels mindlessly repetitive and it’s easy to let my body just go through the motions and zone out.

Either way, on Day 20 of Round 2 of 80 Day Obsession, my legs were tired. I was tired. It had been a long week and I was feeling it. I didn’t really want to work out, but I knew I would feel better once I started moving and worked some lactic acid out of my legs. The trick, however, was to get moving in the first place. Because an object in motion…stays in motion.

I’ve previously described Cardio Flow and its zoo full of moves and its rep scheme. Nothing changes in Phase 1. Everything stays the exact same. For reasons explained above, I both curse and love this set-up. By the time Saturday rolls around, I can tell I’ve been working hard all week, and my body is dying for the Sunday rest day. Yet HOW MANY INCHWORMS MUST A WOMAN DO TO EARN A DAY OF REST?!

Also, even though this is not my first rodeo, how is it possible for me to get SO SWEATY doing Cardio Flow? Picture posted below to demonstrate my point.

Flamingoes
A girl’s best friend in the Zoo are the flamingos

I finished today’s workout with drops of sweat littered on the floor. It was everywhere. It was gross. But admittedly, I love that feeling. That sense of accomplishment that comes with conquering something hard before you’ve even had breakfast.

I think that’s the secret behind Cardio flow: After you make it through the workout ONCE, you know you can do it every time. Because like I said, nothing changes. And when you struggle, you know you can keep pushing because you’ve done it before. Just one more rep; just one more jump. It’s not rocket science. It’s the simple act of setting your body in motion by pushing play and then keeping it in motion for the rest of the workout. There’s nothing pretty or earth-shattering. Case in point is me doing my least favorite move: Diamond Jumps.

Diamond Jumps
Nothing pretty here! Just lots of sweat and hard work.

I hate Diamond Jumps. I have done the math and know exactly how many I have to do in this damn workout (36). I count them down. Every time, regardless of how many times I’ve done the workout, my legs burn and I have focus on keeping my knees from knocking together. But every time, I get them done. I finish the workout.

Why?

Because I trust the process.

Because I just posted two photos of myself in nothing but a sports bra and workout shorts for all the world to see, even though these photos can be viewed by the people I work for and against (hello, btw).

Because at this point last year I wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing that outfit at the gym, or sharing those photos.

But it’s amazing the changes that can be made in 80 days, both in terms of body composition and confidence. I have read reviews of 80 Day Obsession which complain that Cardio Flow is boring. And to a certain extent, it is. But on the last workout day of the week, when your body is tired and your mind is doubting whether you can make it to the end, Cardio Flow is the perfect way to finish. It reminds you of how much stronger you are since when you started, and it sets you up for success; it gives you a do-able challenge and allows you to plan for the next week on a high note.

More importantly, Cardio Flow fits nicely into the fitness puzzle that is 80 Day Obsession. It can be a rest day or a cardio day, depending on how you feel and how you look at it. At the very least, it’s the sort of workout that begs you to JUST DO IT, even though you are tired and sore and cranky.

I wish I had better words of wisdom to share. All I can say is that being on Day 20 for this second round of 80 Day Obsession feels just as good as it did the first time. And, I feel just as proud. I’m still sticking with my meal plan, though tonight might be a challenge as we are eating out at a different Mexican restaurant for the first time. I’ll share all about the experience tomorrow, including my meal plan set-up for Week 4.

I hope you finished Cardio Flow today and completed Week 3 on a high note. GREAT JOB! This shit isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday and I’ll catch you tomorrow in the same spot.

Link to the usual Beachbody stuff found here.

 

 

 

Phase 1, Day 19: Legs (aka RELAX YOUR FACE)

Full disclosure: I’m exhausted.

Not only did I push myself to lift heavy in Leg day, but then I also decided it would be a good idea to go play soccer directly after.

So I’m typing this after having scarfed down dinner, soaked in an epsom salt bath, and showered. There is very little time left in the day to get this blog post done. And even though it is doubtful that no one other than my scant number of followers will read this, I have committed to blogging this journey through 80 Day Obsession, each and every day. So here goes nothing.

Leg Day. This one gets you good. To recap: This week there’s three rounds with three exercises in each round. You do three sets of 10 reps for one round, before moving on to the next round. Exercises are as follows:

ROUND 1: Reverse lunges, squats, curtsy lunges.

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

ROUND 3: Single-Leg Good Morning, hip hinge, Buddha squats.

Here’s a photo of me doing the twisting back angle lunge:

Twisting back angle lunge
Damn, girl. RELAX THE FACE

It’s not the best form, for a very simply reason: I’m all tensed up in my neck and face. I didn’t even realize I was doing this, despite Autumn’s one phrase that stuck with me throughout the workout: RELAX YOUR FACE. Clearly, I need to take her advice, otherwise I’m going to carry the tension in my neck and back and risk throwing my back out. It also looks like I need to take a shorter step the the back. Lots to work on; again, glad I took a photo to check in on my form.

As I have stressed all week, really push yourself with this workout, but be mindful of your body. Pay attention. If something feels too easy, use a heavier weight, but don’t sacrifice your form to do it. If you get done with the first round and you aren’t sweating, you need to lift heavier weights. Your heart rate should be up, and if it isn’t, it’s because what you’re lifting is too light. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy UNLESS your body is flashing danger signs, or unless your doctor or another trained professional tells you not to. You will NOT bulk up. You will NOT turn mannish. I promise you that. Please, trust the program, and push yourself with the weights.

I should add a brief caveat about the bulking up: If you aren’t following the timed nutrition, and instead are going off the reservation and eating whatever you want, whenever you want, then even lifting the heaviest weights in the world can’t save you. You can’t out-train a bad diet. Which means that while you won’t bulk up, you also won’t see the results you otherwise could. You won’t tone up and slim down.

Crucially, don’t think that to tone up and slim down you need to eat LESS food. I have said it before and I will say it again: FOOD IS FUEL. You need to eat properly to fuel your body to get through these workouts. Please, also, learn from my experience.

At this point in the program on Day 19 my first time around, I was miserable. I was tired in the evenings, crabby, and just generally unpleasant to be around. Ask my boyfriend. It was no walk in the park living with me, and I figured it was a combination of long hours at the office, not enough sleep, and stress.

It was my boyfriend who eventually suggested that perhaps I was not eating enough. I shook him off, as my weight calculations had me eating out of Meal Plan B. I was committed to following the rules, and that included sticking with Meal Plan B, even if it turned me into a grumpy zombie.

I wish I had listened to my boyfriend and bumped up to Meal Plan C at this point in the program. Instead, I gutted it out through Phase 1 and most of Phase 2. I spent all of that time feeling hungry, crabby, tired, and constantly wondering if I should be feeling that way, since Autumn was always reminding us we should NOT be feeling deprived.

In truth, the only reason I bumped up to Meal Plan C was because Autumn, tiny, spritely Autumn, eats out of Meal Plan C –something I learned in one of the later weeks. And so I figured if she could do that with her 108-pound frame and still keep trim, then certainly it would work for my big-boned self.

The day I switched up meal plans, the day life changed for the better, and I have never looked back. My body needed more food, despite what the calculations told me. Maybe it was my metabolism or everything else life decided to throw at me, but Meal Plan B just wasn’t meeting my needs, and as a result, I wasn’t getting the most out of 80 Day Obsession.

While a period of adjustment is normal in the first week as your body gets used to eating clean food and eating often, if you’re not feeling good by Day 19, something needs to change.

Either you’re not eating enough, or maybe you have an undiagnosed food allergy or food sensitivity. If you are still foggy headed and have no energy and are a bear to be around, I strongly suggest you move up meal plans. If you are having…inconsistent movements, I strongly suggest you start keeping track of what’s going on and eventually talk to your doctor or naturopath or a trained health professional.

In the spirit of openness, I will tell you that as a result of tuning into my body throughout the first round of 80 Day Obsession, and continuing to do the same in the first three weeks of round 2, I saw a naturopath today for the first time in my life. Why? Because I appear to have stomach issues that persist, even though I eat clean and exercise and otherwise take care of myself. I was able to dial this in because 80 Day Obsession strips out the crap and really does offer a way to live your best self. But even with those tools, I couldn’t help but feel I was having an issue; something was stopping me from being my best self. Thus the naturopath. We’ll see what she says.

SO, please please PLEASE use this opportunity to tune into your body. How are you feeling? Are you sore? Are you constantly hungry? Do you have no energy in the evenings? Depending on your answers, consider increasing your caloric intake. Learn from my mistakes and be pro-active about your health in this journey.

Above all, savor the fact that you are just completed a kick-ass leg day, and you are about to finish Week 3! I hope at this point you have found your groove. If you haven’t, message me and let me know why. Or, if you have any other questions, let me know.

Otherwise, usual link included here for Beachbody.

Cheers to the weekend!