Phase 3, Day 66: Total Body Core (aka The One with Real Talk From Autumn Calabrese)

Full Disclosure: Last night’s post was so lackluster that I completely forgot this blog was a daily thing until just now.

But, better late than never, right?!

Also full disclosure: Yesterday’s post sucked because I replaced almost all of yesterday’s yellow containers with beer. And then apparently didn’t eat very much. See, here was yesterday’s view:

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It was a day at the ballpark courtesy of my boyfriend’s employer. Which means there was LOTS of free stuff. As in free food and free booze.

I love free things, especially at places like ball games where you have to trade your first born child for a Coors Light. Which is why, while I could have chosen to stick to the straight and narrow yesterday and drink only water….I didn’t really want to.

So, I compromised. I ate hot dogs without buns, brought my own veggies (cucumbers and carrots), and snacked lightly on the popcorn and peanuts. I also tried to do a 1:1 ratio with beer to water: One beer was followed immediately by a bottle of water.

The end result was that I had to pee several times throughout the game. And I somehow didn’t eat very much.

Which means that by about 7 pm last night, I was ready to pass out and STARVING. My boyfriend, god of my life, made me a chicken veggie bowl, reminded me to blog, then tucked me in to bed. It was a great day, but not conducive to blogging.

Today, however, very much is.

The scenery changed once again. Today I am in my happy place: Chelan. Here was my gym for today’s workout:

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I am proud of this set-up. Perhaps more than any other photo, this one speaks to how much my mindset has changed thanks to 80 Day Obsession.

I cannot tell you how often I packed workout clothes for our trips to Lake Chelan…and then never used them. I’d get here and succumb to the heat and the lake. I’d get a few drinks in me at night then want to sleep in past the opportune morning workout time. The Lake ennui would kick in and obliterate any intention to work out, no matter the streak I was riding when I first pulled into the parking lot.

Today, however, I couldn’t wait to work out. I planned my day and my meals around it. I packed the right clothes.

Part of my excited stemmed from wanting to use my latest workout toy:

Adjustable Weights
Now I literally have a gym in my fingertips and can work out in my car!

These bad boys are amazing, especially in a workout like Total Body Core, where for three sets of 10 reps, doing each series at a time, I was constantly having to change weights. Done and done. Super convenient.

But part of my excitement wasn’t really even just excitement, but just the drive to workout.

That’s still not explaining it right.

You know how you have to wear pants in public? That’s the best I can describe it. I HAD to workout. Just as it isn’t an option to go pants-less in public and remain a law-abiding citizen, it was not an option for me to skip today’s workout just because I was in a different locale.

I am pleased to report I am brainwashed to the point of WANTING to work out. It’s a joy and a challenge to push my body and see what it can do today. It’s also kinda fun to sweat all over the floor and not worry about anybody slipping in it.

PLUS, you do NOT want to miss today’s workout: Autumn gets real about her body and its substantial…augmentations.

As is quite obvious for those of you following along at home, Autumn has had work done: A boob job. I can only imagine she got really into bodybuilding and succumbed to the pressure to look more feminine while also maintaining an insanely low body fat. (Sadly, also reinforcing a body image the rest of us chase that is not totally obtainable without going under the knife, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Today, Autumn admits to having had work done. She talks about how it impacts her ability to perform push-ups; she makes a remark along the lines that she was young when she chose to have the augmentation.

Say what you want about the choice to have this particular surgery, but hot damn Autumn are you my new best friend for your honesty.

There’s a reason this program is inspiring millions of followers and a cult-like devotion: Over 80 days, you really do get to know Autumn and her cast. Sure, there are days where you want to shove them all off a cliff; but then there are others where their stories and groans are all that get you through those modified 1/2 Turkish pushup whatevers, and afterwards all you want to do is invite them all over for a drink to marvel at how you all survived. I mean, what other personal trainer is gonna talk about her own breast augmentation while filming a live workout for repeat use by a fitness conglomerate? That takes balls.

So make sure you press play today. You won’t regret it.

Also, I think I know what workout program I’m doing next. Stay tuned and keep reading my next few posts to find out where my head’s at!

Link to some possible options here. Stay cool mes amigos!

Phase 3, Day 60: Total Body Core (aka The One Where You Realize You’ve Gotten a Lot Better at Tricep Push-Ups)

I work out at a gym.

I don’t know if I’ve told y’all that before, but I do. I realize this is somewhat unusual for a person who is following a Beachbody program, as part of Beachbody’s selling point is you can do the workout from the comfort of your own home. I can’t. I live on the third floor of an apartment building and there just isn’t enough space in our living room to do side lunges/back lunges, and I don’t want to give myself an excuse to not complete a workout because I keep banging my shin on the coffee table (been there, done that). Plus, I know my downstairs neighbors really don’t appreciate the early morning jumping required in a number of the workouts.

So, gym it is. In the weight-lifting area, I collect my weights, grab a mat, and push play. I navigate people jumping rope and idiots who block the weight rack. I go back and forth between the rubber mat of the weight area to the tiled floor of the merchandise area, and ignore the gawkers who spot me on my sliders doing tricep push-up pull-ins in front of the shelves of protein powder:

Tricep push-ups on Sliders
Don’t mind me as I sweat amongst the merchandise.

I share this because today’s Total Body Core workout will pretty much require you to have ALL the weights. Again. I commandeered everything from the 12.5 pound dumbbells, all the way up to the 20s. Yes, I was THAT bitch. And I don’t care.

Today’s workout will leave you with sweat rolling down your ankles and a burn in your shoulders that won’t quit. It’s three sets of 10 reps, where you go through all exercises in a row for 10 reps, then repeat for another 2 rounds. It’s not my favorite set-up, but it gets the job done.

I will say, however, that the 10 reps really gives you the opportunity to measure your strength. That tricep push-up form above? Last week, I could barely do the 15 reps on my toes, and had to drop to my knees for the last few. But this week, I did all 10 on my toes. My back arched perhaps a bit too much, but I still managed to get a lot lower than I could in Phase 1. Even better, my push-up form in the 1/2 Turkish get-up from hell felt stronger, though I cursed Autumn’s name throughout the move.

My goal for next week is to continue this push-up triumph and try the slide-out push-ups on my toes as opposed to on my knees. I’ll keep you posted.

With my push-up notes out of the way, let’s turn to the two pro tips for today’s workout.

PRO TIP #101: If your loops are rolling on V Crunch to Scissor Crunch, you gotta double or triple loop.

I got new loops in the mail yesterday and eagerly put them to use in tonight’s workout. For the first time in awhile, I was able to double-loop with two blues. But to my dismay, I couldn’t get more than 2-3 reps done of V Crunch to Scissor Crunch without the damn things rolling up my thighs. I powered through only by constantly taking a moment to adjust the loops during my crunch up (an extra burn, so not unwelcome). So, in round 2, I added a green loop.

I found that the three loops would slide up my thighs a bit, but weren’t rolling, so they were easier to adjust. Don’t underestimate how much stronger your abs and legs are for this workout. Adjust accordingly.

PRO TIP #67: Clench your butt during Weighted Windmills.

This is one exercise where I’m never sure if I’m doing it right because I don’t do it in front of a mirror (next week, I think I will). On some reps I’ll feel a good contraction in my obliques, but in others I get nothing and I worry I’m kicking my hips out in the typewriter motion Autumn describes and warns against. Tonight, however, Autumn gave a good tip that instantly helped me lock my hips into place and focus in on my abs: Clench your butt. As you are sliding the weight down your leg, clench your butt muscles. This will keep your hips from sliding out, thereby ensuring it’s your obliques doing the work.

The instant I contracted my butt muscles, I finally felt the exercise in all the right places.

So, them’s my tips for the night.

Tomorrow I tackle Cardio Core before my soccer game, and I’m looking forward to getting a good sweat going before taking the field. Now if we could just get this weather to cooperate….

Check out the usual link if you need more loops, and feel free to email me with any questions. Almost done with Week 2 of Phase 3! Only 20 more workouts to go!

Phase 2, Day 48: Legs (aka The One Where You Should Listen to Autumn)

Leg Day is a conundrum for me. There is no good area of my gym where I can go directly from weights to sliders without either running across the weight area to the tiled floor, or dragging all my weights into the mirrored exercise room to make the most of the hardwood. Either way, I’m dodging glares from the gym front desk as I use my sliders amongst the racks of protein powders and sports bras for sale, or transporting three to four sets of weights to a part of the gym they are (apparently) not supposed to go.

Which is probably why I chose to disregard Autumn’s advice today and lifted exactly what I did last week.

This week, the rep scheme is two sets of 15 reps, where you do each weighted exercise for 15 reps, then 15 reps on the sliders, then the weighted exercise again, then 15 sliders, then BAM you’re off to the next exercise. As I’ve blogged before, this workout goes quick, and today was no different.

But to help hustle my sweat sesh along, I got lazy: I opted to work out in the empty studio normally reserved for ZUMBA and Bodyweight Pump and other fun shit.  Which means I had to haul my weights in from across the gym for use. That is why I chose to lug only one set of weights: A pair of 25 pound dumbbells, which is what I lifted last week.

The very first thing Autumn will say to you today is you should NOT be lifting what you did last week; it should be at least a slightly lighter weight.

I disregarded her advice because I didn’t want to drag in another set of weights. And I thought I could handle the 25s.

I did, and I survived, but only because I put in a herculean effort to protecting my back. My body did NOT appreciate my jerry-rigged goblet squat, where I held the 25 pounders at shoulder height while squatting low. My legs were willing, but my back was about ready to give out.

Which means I spent most of the workout focused on keeping my abs tight, my butt tucked under me, and my back straight…..instead of putting the focus where it really mattered: On my legs. Had I been a little less lazy and a little more attentive, I would have brought in an extra set of weights to make the most out of the workout. As it is, I did get a lot out of the workout, just not what I was supposed to.

It is easy at this point to think that after 47 days, especially on your second time through 80 Day Obsession, that you know better than Autumn. After all, you’ve been doing the workouts and eating the food and seeing how both affect your body. Surely it doesn’t matter that you don’t decrease the weight like Autumn says, or have that extra piece of cake as a dirty yellow on Refeed Day.

Wrong on both counts. And as per usual, I learned both the hard way. Today, the weights reminded me to heed Autumn’s advice to ensure I’m lifting safely while still making progress.

As for the food, I’ve been weighing myself on a daily basis as I dip my toe into the nutrition regime that is 2B Mindset. I’m not a huge fan of the scale because it’s not really a part of my goals at the moment, but the tale it tells is illuminating.

You know how I suffer at my Aunt’s family dinners on Sunday because I can’t stop after just one helping or one scoop of ice cream? That translates into a four-pound swing on the scale. I’m at my lowest Saturday morning; by Sunday morning, after a leisurely night out where I stop paying attention to my portions, I’ve put on two pounds; by Monday morning, after Sunday dinner, I’ve put on another two pounds.

Granted, by the time Wednesday hits, I’m back to my usual weight. But still. Imagine the progress I’d be making if my body wasn’t constantly having to shed that excess. What would happen if I was more consistent and following the program 100% of the time, instead of the 95% I’m currently managing? Is that 5% truly worth it?

I don’t know. It tastes real good in the moment. But I usually feel so guilty after that it wipes away any lingering enjoyment. And then I spend the next 24 hours having a little psychosis where I imagine I can feel that Maggie Moon sasquatch ice cream expanding into a flabby tire around my stomach.

I guess the best advice I can offer is to listen to Autumn, but know your own weaknesses. For me, that means there’s no reason I should be lazy in the gym; there’s no excuse for not hauling over two to three sets of weights for use in the studio, even if it means death glares from wrathful trainers with mermaid hair. It maybe also means that if I can’t control myself with a treat, then perhaps I shouldn’t be eating the treat at all, or only enjoying a treat which can be enjoyed safely, in small portions, where there is no hope of seconds.

Above all, trust the process. It IS a process. The beauty is you don’t just do it once and then judge yourself based on that one performance. Instead, you get to do it over and over again and try and make progress with every rep.

Just make sure you’re using the right weight.

Usual stuff at the usual link. Ciao!

 

Phase 2, Day 42: Legs (aka Even Leg Day Can’t Out-Train a Bad Diet)

I love me this Leg Day.

Especially this week’s set-up: Three sets of 10. But one exercise at a time. And there’s really only five weighted exercises. Which means you do the first weighted exercise, reverse lunges, then go straight into the sliders; then back to another 10 reps of reverse lunges, followed by the sliders; then the last set of 10 reps of reverse lunges, ending with, you guessed it, SLIDERS.

The workout feels a little long because you have to do most of the exercises one leg at a time. But then you realize that you’re already on the third exercise out of five and the whole thing feels like it flew by.

I realize I’ve perhaps been a bit lax lately with my pro tips, which was the whole point of starting this blog: Putting out on the net what I faced the first time around in 80 Day Obsession in the hope it might answer some of the questions you might have as you tackle the same. So, let’s get started.

PRO TIP #15: PUSH YOURSELF WITH THE WEIGHT.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: This Leg Day lends itself to testing how much you can lift. Do it. Test yourself. Try at least one set with a heavier weight than you have ever done – within reason, of course. And as always, listen to your body. If your lower back is already screaming as you goblet squat a 15 pound weight, then don’t push it. Focus on form and get that core stronger before you up the weight. But, know that the harder you lift the better the results. Plus, how satisfying is it to KNOW you’re actually getting stronger? I find it immensely satisfying to be walking down the street and feel STRONG; like, I could arm-wrestle a would-be mugger strong. Or at least run away fast. Probably the latter. But still. It’s the thought that counts.

So the above will be my only pro tip about working out. The rest will be about food and sticking to the timed nutrition plan. Because I was reminded today that no matter how hard you lift on Leg Day, you can’t out-train a bad diet.

I was reminded of this because of who I see at the gym.

Oftentimes, I am the sole girl in the weight section. And because this is now my second round of 80 Day Obsession, I’ve been in that weight section for the past 80+ days. Which means I’ve pretty much seen the same people over and over, often doing the same thing for the past 80 days.

And the people that I see, the workouts that I see them doing…they are no joke. From push-ups with claps to leg lifts with weights to pull-ups. I’m not the only one with a good sweat going by the end of a workout.

Yet of those devoted gym bunnies, NONE have demonstrated any notable change in physique. One or two of them might have toned up a little, but given how much they’re all working out, you’d think they’d be ripped and ready to strut some stuff on the bodybuilding stage. It makes no sense given the workouts they’re killing, where every muscle is worked and the abs are taking the brunt of the focus. WHY DON’T THEY ALL HAVE SIX PACKS?

Because you can’t out-train a bad diet. When I see the same people in the gym looking the same despite their effort, I have to wonder what they’re eating: Are they eating enough? Are they eating too much? Are they getting enough protein? What does a typical meal plan look like?

Based on what I’m seeing, I have to think none of them are getting the diet part RIGHT, otherwise they’d all be cracking open beers on their wash-board abs.

Which is why I love this 80 Day Obsession thing: It comes with a meal plan to follow that will work if you follow it.

But HOW do you follow it, especially on those days when cravings are bad? What if you slip up?

I’ve not just slipped up but royally fucked up, and had some strong cravings to boot. But I’m still here, and I have a few tips to share.

PRO TIP #444: IF YOU’RE CRAVING SWEETS, REACH FOR VEGETABLES.

I have been there and had those uncontrollable cravings; where you just ate a beautifully balanced, nutritious meal, yet your body is crying out for MORE. And not just any old MORE, but CUPCAKES and BROWNIES and ICE CREAM and MACARONS. And WORSE, you can feel this pit yawning open in your stomach, as if the food you just ingested completely missed the mark and went straight into oblivion instead of your bloodstream, leaving you feeling as though you ate NOTHING at all and so MUST EAT ALL THE FOODS NOW.

That is now I felt tonight. I got home from work and felt that pit of hunger starting to crack open.

Now, I’ve tried ignoring it. I’ve tried sticking to my containers and eating what I’m allotted and sticking to my guns.

That never works. Inevitably what happens is the craving gets the best of me and I end up stuffing four maple bars into my mouth.

This time, however, I let myself snack. I actually let myself go to the fridge and have some extra food….baby carrots.

Crucially, that or cherry tomatoes or cucumbers were pretty much the only foods I could snack on (another key: DON’T KEEP JUNK FOOD IN THE HOUSE) in the moment. But I took a handful of baby carrots and crunched away. And when I finished that handful, I helped myself to some cherry tomatoes while I heated up my dinner.

Then I ate my dinner and….nothing. I DID IT! I’m now sitting in a cafe right next to a cupcake shop, and not a nerve in my body is singing for that sugary goodness. Instead, I feel satiated. Satisfied. Even though I ate more than what I was supposed to, it was only vegetables. And it stopped me from heading next door for a red velvet cupcake instead of coming here. So it worked. But only because I’ve trained myself to get used to a different kind of “dessert.” Which brings me to my next tip:

PRO TIP #32: KEEP BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL AFTER DINNER.

I can’t take credit for this one. This one is all Ilana Muhlstein, the creator of Beachbody’s nutrition only program, 2B Mindset. The point is that instead of reaching for food after dinner, reach for a cup of tea or a cup of coffee or a glass of sparkling water. Something, ANYthing, but food. Just make sure you have something in your hands that will keep them occupied. Here’s me putting this philosophy into practice:

Both Hands On the Wheel
Don’t Judge Me for my Decaf Latte with Coconut Milk

It works. I have a fish bowl full of herbal teas at home, and each night I try a new one. Or, if I don’t feel like a tea, I’ll knit. Or read. Or do ANYthing that requires me to use my hand. Because if my hands are busy, they won’t be picking up food to stuff in my gullet.

PRO TIP #53: IF YOU’RE HUNGRY, DRINK AT LEAST 8 OZ. OF WATER FIRST; WAIT; IF YOU ARE STILL HUNGRY, THEN EAT SOMETHING.

This is also a tip pulled slightly from 2B Mindset, which emphasizes drinking water before EVERY meal, and drinking at least half your body weight in ounces every day.

My tip is a slight variation of that, and I found it works for me when I start to get hungry in the late afternoon, during that lull between my afternoon snack and dinner.

I start to get hungry, especially when I think about my delicious dinner waiting for me (chicken sausage with peppers and onions and tomatoes and quinoa this week). My stomach starts to grumble. Before it gets to loud, I make myself down half my water bottle…all 12 ounces.

Usually, that does the trick. Sometimes it doesn’t. But at the very least, I’m going to the bathroom to pee in the half hour following, as opposed to eating early. So it accomplishes something.

As Ilana points out in 2B Mindset, sometimes when your body is telling you you’re hungry, you’re actually just dehydrated. So try water first. If that doesn’t cure the craving, then start to think about some food. But it doesn’t hurt to be extra hydrated.

I hope these tips help. And if you want to learn more about 2B Mindset, click on the link to learn more. It’s different from 80 Day Obsession in that there’s no workouts; 2B Mindset focuses SOLELY on nutrition and how to eat for healthy weight loss. It’s not quite compatible with 80 Day Obsession, which has you eating certain foods at certain times of the day; the schedule conflicts with some of the 2B Mindset principles. But at the very least, 2B Mindset has given me a new perspective on how to view and address cravings, and my other achilles heel: Eating out.

I have a few new tools in my arsenal to try out the next time we have family dinner at my aunt’s on Sunday. First true test is coming up this Sunday, so it will be interesting to see how it works.

In the meantime, I hope you found this post somewhat helpful. If you didn’t, message me with questions, or leave a snarky comment. Both are welcome.

Because it at least tells me that SOMEone is reading this damn thing!

 

 

 

 

 

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 1, Day 24: AAA (aka The One I Really Didn’t Want To Do)

I have previously documented my issues with Thursdays. It’s not Friday, I’m tired from the week, and the workout feels like a slog. This photo pretty much sums up my attitude:

AAA
What I’d rather be doing with those loops than those damn fire hydrants.

(Logistics: Week 4 of Phase 1 has you doing two sets of 15 reps in AAA, except you do everything a round at a time instead of going through all exercises then repeating. If you’ve been sticking with the workouts thus far, then you know the drill.)

I wish I could tell you that if you were to start 80 Day Obsession that any aversion you have to exercise will disappear; that 80 Day Obsession is that magic pixie dust that suddenly gets you motivated to slay every workout with all the energy in the world.

I’d be lying. As great as 80 Day Obsession is, you will still have days where you just don’t want to work out. Where, even though you know how much better you will feel after doing so, the last thing you want to do is lift something heavy when your mind has been doing mental push-ups all day.

Today, was one of those days. Pretty much the only thing that got me to the gym was changing into my gear at work. Once that happened, the only reason I headed to the gym was because I figured I was already in my gear so I might as well see how I felt once I got there. Once I got there, the only thing that had me pushing play was knowing I had committed to blogging about this journey for my zillions of loyal followers.

However, once I stopped procrastinating and actually pushed play, the hard part was over; I was pushing myself with heavier weights and getting a good sweat on, and with the exception of almost DYING during fire hydrants, I rather enjoyed myself. I always know it’s a good workout when I struggle to get the loops off at the very end. Where my arms are shaking so bad that the only thing I can do for a minute or two is lie there and hope no one makes me into a meme. Exhibit A:

The End
Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. I mean Katie.

Similarly, you would think that the longer you eat healthy and clean, the easier it gets to eat healthy and clean, and the less cravings you would have for that which is not healthy and clean. EXCEPT THEN WHY WAS I CRAVING A MAPLE BAR FROM TOP POT DONUT ALL DAMN DAY. I didn’t have one, but damn did it sound good. I tried to trick myself into thinking my cinnamon seasoned mashed sweet potato was donut-like…surprise surprise it didn’t work.

Yet what always gets me is how easy it is to slide off the wagon. Even though you KNOW working out is good for you and you KNOW you’ll feel great after, if you miss that one workout, suddenly it’s New Year’s and you haven’t worked out in 7 months (yes, I have done this before). Even though you KNOW your body responds best to eating lots of veggies and fruits and protein and good carbs, if you go away for that wine tasting weekend with girlfriends suddenly it’s Christmas and you realize you’ve been having pizza for breakfast for the majority of your weekend mornings since Labor day (also done that).

My point is this: Why oh why, when we know what’s good for us, do our minds naturally incline towards doing what is so BAD for us? And I’m not talking about the super-willed creatures like my parents who never seem to be phased by home baked goods or Turkey feasts or mulled wine. I’m talking about the rest of us, who struggle with consistency every damn day.

I don’t have an answer. And even though this is the second time I’ve walked this 80 Day Obsession tightrope, sometimes I feel as though I’m one donut away from succumbing to my fat kid urges and eating my way through the summer. I have days where I literally don’t want to do what I’ve been doing since January 15, 2018.

So how do I fight it?

I make ridiculous commitments that force me to stay on track. Like writing this blog and journaling my journey (this is as much for me as it is for you, ya know).

I force myself to pack my workout clothes and put them on, even when (especially when) I don’t want to workout. Something about swapping my pumps for sneakers always reminds me how much better I feel after some physical activity.

But most importantly, I forgive myself when I fuck up. Because it happens. It’s life. It’ll happen a lot.

The difference is that these days, when I screw up, I give myself some grace and then move on. I don’t let it pollute the rest of my day or week. Which is a huge shift from the old me, when I’d use a fuck-up as an excuse to throw in the towel on the entire day/week/month/year: “Whelp I managed to eat that whole cake, so there goes the diet. Might as well close the books on 2018!”

If you are like me and struggle with maintaining consistency, first, as much as you can, make it a habit to exercise and eat right. Find what works for you. Figure out your tricks. If it’s putting on your gym clothes or laying them out the night before or packing your lunch the night before, do it.

And when you don’t do it and there’s a screw up, you can be disappointed in yourself, but don’t get mad. Just move on. Nobody’s perfect. Choose to measure your success by how you bounce back from your screw-up, not by the screw-up itself.

Once you do that, you will be strong enough to push play on those days when you really don’t want to. Like I did today.

That said, if you’re lacking motivation or need a kick in the ass, message me, or check out the usual link to Beachbody stuff to see if something there inspires you.

At the very least, know you’re not alone in this particular struggle. But choose to fight through. Choose to get ‘er done. The results will be worth it, I promise.

Phase 1, Day 18: AAA (aka The Strong One)

One round into today’s workout, I realized I was sweating profusely.

And not in a cute glow kind of way.

I mean in a leave a trail of sweat drops behind you as you go to swap out your weights on the rack at the gym and get disgusted looks from the people next to you at what you’re getting on the floor kind of way.

It was that kind of workout day. Which was awesome.

I was sweating hard because I had increased the weight in almost all the exercises, and my body noticed. It responded by getting my heart rate up and making it look like I took a shower in the middle of the gym. I love getting this sort of sweat on without spending an hour on a treadmill, or doing cardio.

To briefly recap AAA: You work the negative. That is, to get technical, you work the “eccentric contraction,” i.e., you load up the muscle while it’s lengthening. For example, in round 3 of AAA, you do hammer curls. You curl the weight up in a one count, then slowly lower the weight back down in a three count. Do this 10 times. Repeat for 3 sets.

If you want a more indepth look at the moves, check out my first blog on the subject.

I like AAA because the workout is so different from any of the others in 80 Day Obsession; really, it’s different from any other workout I’ve done, what with the focus on the negative. It also allows you to play around with the weights. Not sure you started out with a heavy enough weight? Load it up in the second set. Think you went too hard and can’t sustain it through the last set? Lighten it up.

Last week in AAA, I managed to bump up my weights for a few exercises, but only in the last set. So my goal for today’s workout was to start with that heavier weight in the first set to see if I could carry it through.

I made it! I struggled, and my form started to go and in the skull crushers I was worried I was going to drop the weights on my head, but I did it. Probably should have lightened up a little, but not today, Satan.

That said, there was one exercise where I did NOT increase the weight: Bent over rows.

Real talk: My lower back likes to say hi sometimes. Like a, “hey remember me? Don’t go TOO heavy.” My back punctuates this hello with a slight twinge.

Tonight, when I bent over to row with my 25 pound dumbbells, wondering if I should bump up to 27.5s, my lower back spoke up. So, instead of increasing the weight, I tucked my tailbone, sank into my heels, and focused on keeping the obscene arch out of my lower back. Suddenly, for the first time, I felt my glutes AND my back engage, just like Autumn said they should. Go figure. So I stuck with the weight and focused on my form.

My point being that even though I talk about using this week to test your strength and lift heavy, listen to your body. I guarantee that if you have been following this program, you WILL feel stronger. You WILL be able to lift heavier. But if you’re starting to get weird twinges, slow it down and consider lightening up. Don’t sacrifice safety for a higher weight on your tracker sheet (which I hope you’re using btw – I am this time around and it’s a total game changer).

Case in point, the knee plank heel press. Here is my form:

Knee Plank Heel Press
Gotta watch that form.

I’m happy I took the picture so I can see what I was doing, because this was another one of those exercises where I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right.

PRO TIP #48: IF IN DOUBT YOU’RE DOING AN EXERCISE CORRECTLY, TAKE A PICTURE OR VIDEO OF YOURSELF DOING THE EXERCISE.

I finally took my own advice, and the picture above tells me I need to tuck my tailbone. If I do that, I know I will feel it more in my ass, which is just as it should be. Ignore my form and that terrible curve in my lower back. Looking at it, you can see why my lower back likes to talk.

So, lesson for the day is to listen to your body. And if you’re not feeling an exercise in the muscle Autumn says you should be working, be proactive and record yourself doing the move. I guarantee that if you do this, you will be able to spot what you’re doing wrong, correct the problem, and then get the most out of the exercise.

I’ll close with a picture of one more move I did where I know now what I need to do to improve my form.

Yay pushups
Almost there, but not quite

I gotta get my head in line with my spine. Once I do that, I will get the most out of this simple move.

Side note: I blame that neck position on the basketball coach I had in high school who would insist that we touch our nose to the floor in pushups. I never had great upper body strength, so what I lacked in strength I made up for with neck extensions. The bad habit has carried over, unfortunately. Now I have to imagine how much stronger I would have been had I done 80 Day Obsession in high school. I guess we’ll never know.

Hope you know how much stronger you’re getting. Get ready to test your newfound strength again tomorrow during Leg Day!