Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Work it Out

When I read lifestyle and home blogs, I often wonder whether, between caring for their five to seven perfectly groomed children, homeschooling, developing new slow-cooker recipes, and building desks out of some barrels and a couple of 2x4s these overachievers find time to exercise.  It's really none of my business and is totally irrelevant to the content of their blogs, but that's where my mind goes.  I can't help it.

Just in case there is anyone out there like me, I thought I'd let you know that I exercise.  I have always exercised, but over the years I've made a big change in how I exercise.  In the beginning, I went to the gym in college, bounced up and down on the Stairmaster for 30 minutes and felt like I had prospectively worked off those beers I was planning to consume that evening.  I never really got any stronger, increased my endurance, or saw much of a change in my body.  (I suppose my diet of bagels and beer could have also had something to do with it!)  My workout routines pretty much stayed like this, going through the motions, but never really doing anything difficult.  I was able to keep doing this because I was never overweight, so I figured if I looked fine and fit into my clothes, who really cared whether my muscles were more flab than firm?

Well, apparently the one thing I wasn't fooling with my skinny-fat self was my pancreas.  After suffering from gestational diabetes during my pregnancies with the Girl and with the Boy I decided that something really had to change.  I took a step back and thought about the exercises that I liked doing.  I liked the eliptical machine because it was easy.  I liked the recumbant bike because it was easy.  I liked walking because it was easy.  The clouds lifted, the birds began to sing and I had was my epiphany: exercise doesn't work if it's easy.  It works when it's hard.  I think that's an image from Disney, do you think they'll come after me?

So, the good news is that once I had my "aha" moment, I have spent less time exercising, but have had better results.  I know!  I have a series of DVDs that I use at home, so I don't even leave the house!  I know!  I don't even belong to a gym!  I know!  And, best yet, I didn't have diabetes when I was pregnant with the Baby, so my pancreas is on board with this, too!

Okay, so here is what I do: I get up between 6:00 am and 6:15 everyday during the week.  Sunday's mock 5K aside, I usually do not exercise on the weekend.  I get my work out done so I can have the precious time when the kids are at school to myself.  Here are the videos (y'all I am old school, I promise I do not have a VHS anymore), *ahem* the DVDs (slightly less old school) that I use:

  • Personal Training with Jackie - This works every muscle group in 40 minutes and it's really 40 minutes.  You get to hear about the "V-taper" that Jackie uses for her "celebrity clients" to get them "red-carpet ready."  These are recurring themes in Jackie's DVDs, as well as her sly insults to the at-home viewer. ("If I'm tired, then you must be dying!")  She also has some problems counting that drive the K crazy when he watches her.  I don't mind, that's just our Jackie.  Easter Egg - Watch for when Jackie forgets her weights for the squat.
  • One-on-One Training with Jackie - This is the DVD she did in conjunction with her old t.v. show that was on Bravo and there's a mortifying preview of it in the beginning of the DVD that I suggest you skip unless you want to be scarred for life.  This has separate workouts for upper body, lower body, and abs.  I will usually do abs plus either upper or lower body because I don't have time to do all three together.  This is the best abs workout ever.  Seriously, the best.  Bonuses - she uses her trainers from her actual gym and they're miked.  They try their best to embarrass her (during the lower body portion, crazy Ranessa (!) is rolling around on an exercise ball in the background while poor Augustina is stuck doing squats with Jackie).  Easter Egg - Do y'all think Ranessa's abs are sprayed on?
  • Extreme Timesaver Training - This is Jackie's one foray into cardio.  You're doing "compound movements" that "drive your body straight into the cardio zone" so you're allegedly getting cardio and weight training in one work out.  I don't know about all that, but it is hard and my arms feel like they're going to fall off when I finish.  She's got some new victims here, ridiculously ripped Madison (from the horrible Butt Bible series) and Jericho (!!) who does her job too well and shows up Jackie by switching the angle on a bicep move when Jackie has forgotten.  Easter Egg - How many times can Jackie tell that focus mitts story, y'all?  It's not even funny the first time.
  • 30 Day Fast Start - Jackie is at her best personally in this DVD.  She doesn't seem as nervous and her banter is less forced.  As for the substance of the workout, she's got this pyramid thing going, so you're doing 55 reps of each exercise.  She's got it divided in half, so you can do upper body or lower body and abs, or both.  I do both because it's still only about 40 minutes.  Madison is back and Jericho got replaced for being too good by bland Becky who helps Jackie count.  Easter Egg - Do y'all think Becky is faking being tired?  She's a professional exerciser!  She shouldn't be that tired!
  • Banish Fat Boost Metabolism - This is one of my two real cardio work outs.  This is Jillian is in her prime before she became a shrill, harpy, caricature of herself.  Easter Egg - Do you think Seleena is really trying?  I think she's phoning it in a lot.
  • No More Trouble Zones - This is Jillian's weight training workout and I give it about an 8.  It's longer than Jackie's and isn't as difficult, IMO.  I take it back, the second abs circuit is difficult, but the others aren't so tough.  I just feel like it might be too long for what you get out of it.  Easter Egg - I think that Seleena and Kristen really could do Jillian's job, which is why they're out after these two DVDs.
  • Ripped in 30 - This is the more difficult version of 30 Day Fast Start.  She's got four weeks with exercises of (supposedly) increasing difficulty.  It's cardio, weights, and abs together.  I think week three is harder than week four, so I do week three.  I haven't duck-walked on the floor since I was probably three years old and let me tell you that it's considerably harder to do when you are over 3 feet tall.  Jillian has fallen into her habit of screaming at everyone and acting like a crazy person in an attempt to get you to keep exercising when you feel like both puking and punching her in the face at the same time.  She's got poor old Besheera who shows up in a bunch of her later DVDs and Shelly who is really good at exercising and was probably a cheerleader.  Easter Egg - Beeshera is just no good at some of these exercises.  Why does Jillian keep her around?  Girl can't do those twisting jumps to save her life.
  • Extreme Shed & Shred - I bought this on sale at Target and did half of it (shed or shred, I can't remember) once.  Beeshera is back with some other chick and Jillian's run out of tricks, so she has you doing these weird Brazilian martial arts moves that make you look like you're Kung Fu Panda.  I'd skip this one.  I'm not even linking it. 
  • Yoga Meltdown - Jillian Michaels should not do yoga.  She is too bossy and not at all zen-like.  Beeshera is back and in her element.  She's way better at doing all the yoga poses than she is at doing jumping lunges.  Both Beeshera and Jillian should recognize their limitations.  Jillian should stay away from the yoga and B should avoid ballistic movements.  A one and done named Maddie is helping out Beeshera and showing the easy moves.  You get a decent workout, but you miss out on the spiritual aspect of the practice.  Easter Egg - If you watch closely Jillian cheats on some of the poses.
  • Breathless Body - I know it sounds like porn, but it's a really good, difficult cardio workout.  There are eight different exercises (with an easy, medium, and hard version of each one) and you do each exercise eight times for 20-second intervals.  Got it?  Yeah, me either.  She calls them "tabata" drills.  When she says it, it sounds like "ciabatta," which reminds me of bread and I'm slightly disappointed that none of the drills involve eating bread.  But, I digress.  Amy has her two helpers, Aimee and Sara who are very capable and game to be tortured for the 45 minutes.  Negatives are that the warm up and cool down are pretty lame and the editing is really obviously bad (and I don't usually notice things like that).  Easter Egg - watch Amy's ponytail fly out of her bun during the first exercise and miraculously get tucked back in when they switch camera angles.
  • Power Fusion - So I was looking for something low-key to replace Jillian Michael's Yoga because I grew weary of her nagging.  Everyone on Amazon was all, "Ellen, get Ellen."  My first thought was that perhaps Ellen Degeneres was doing yoga, which might be entertaining, if not a little weird.  But no, this is Ellen Barrett who looks amazingly like the mom of one of the Boy's baseball friends.  I'm still on the fence about this workout.  I didn't feel like I really did that much, but she's very calm and gives directions well and is easy to follow.  It was a pleasant experience to work out with her and her ladies.  (Honestly, she has like a posse of other exercising women behind her, so I can't begin to remember all their names.)  They were all sweating profusely after they were done, so perhaps I need to crank up the heat before doing this DVD.  The K would love that (I'm totally joking).  Easter Egg(s) - One of Ellen's lady's needs a sports bra.
I try to do two cardio routines during the week and three weight training routines.  This week my plan is:
Monday - Jackie's Timesaver Training
Tuesday - Amy's Breathless Body 
Wednesday - Jackie's 30 Day Fast Start
Thursday - Jillian's Ripped in 30 
Friday - Ellen's Power Fusion

I'll switch it all around next week and if anyone cares or comments, or is interested, let me know and I'll post my schedule.  I appreciate anyone who made it though this navel-gazing manifesto.  I promise more pictures and less text next time, including a pumpkin project that was nearly an epic fail and banana bread.  Happy Tuesday!


  1. I hear that the pictures aren't coming through. Darn the copyright laws! I'll take my own pics tomorrow. Thanks for bearing with me.

  2. I'd love to read your take on P90X.

    1. I'd love to try it, but I don't have any place to put a chin up bar in my family room. Maybe I can score in invite across the street to give it a try.

  3. Hey - this is an awesome post! Having just gone back to work I have had to face the reality that I cannot get up at 5 am and haul my ass to the gym. so if i want to work out it ha sto be in my living room for 30-40 minutes. And all my old workout videos are really videos ( why do i still even have these??). Thanks for the recs.

    1. Thanks! If I had to recommend 2 to start with, I'd say get the Personal Training with Jackie and Banish Fat Boost Metabolism with Jillian. You get weight training and cardio and they both have circuits so you can skip some if you don't have time. It's great when you're the only adult home in the morning, too, and you can't leave the kids to go to the gym. I forgot to mention, you'll need to get a couple sets of hand weights - probably 3 pounds and 5 pounds would work well. Thanks for commenting (and reading it in the first place)!

  4. Ah hah! I found your blog. Love it! You are the best writer and always make me smile. I added you to my blog roll, too.

    Regarding at home exercise. I am so impressed with your dedication. I can't get myself to even do a yoga video no matter how many I download or blog about. I am going to download some stuff for our safari (4 days) so I don't lose my mind from sitting. (Recommendations??)

    1. Thanks! Can you bring weights with you? If not, I'd say that Breathless Body would be a great cardio workout. The Power Fusion routine is another option and is low impact. If you can't jump around a lot that would be better (I'm not sure what your accommodations are like). If you can bring weights or could bring something like those Aquabells that you fill with water, I'd recommend Ripped in 30 or Extreme Timesaver. You'd get cardio and weight training, but you wouldn't have to download multiple programs to get both. I should have noted that all of these are NO DANCING. I am coordination challenged and I can handle the moves in all these. Are you just watching on your laptop?