Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Insanity Max Cardio Circuit Modifiers and Review

Today was my first day heading into Month 2 of Insanity. I woke up this morning at 5:30, thinking that would leave me plenty of time to get my workout in, shower, pack my lunch, make my breakfast and get to work on time.  I COMPLETELY forgot that I had my Fit Test today also, so naturally my plans did not work out.

I'm not sure if it was because I completed the Fit Test right before the workout, but it was difficult! All of the moves were combined in new and interesting ways, so as always you never got bored. Shaun T is just as motivating as ever during this workout, but the one thing I did hate was the length: 58 minutes. And that's just me not wanting to have to get out of bed earlier in the morning, haha. I don't mind actually working out for 58 minutes (today was more like an hour and a half with the Fit Test included).

One of the biggest questions I get asked about Insanity is how to modify the exercises when you are too tired to complete a full circuit. Anytime I feel that I cannot keep going, I jog it out. It is important that you keep your heart rate up during Insanity. A quick drop in your heart rate (which happens when you just stop doing anything phsyical with no cool down) is terrible for your heart and can leave you very dizzy/blacking out. Even if you feel like your legs are going to fall off, a little jog in place should do the trick. Then, once you are feeling up to it, jump back in an finish strong.

Moving push-ups: I typically do not have a problem with moving push-ups, but when I do I just stay stationary. I'll continue to do the same set, but with stationary push-ups. Now, maybe stationary push-ups are even above your level sometimes (which is fine). Drop to your knees, focus on a flat back, and do modified push-ups.  If modified push-ups are too much, hold the plank...just don't stop. Keeping the core engaged one way or the other will push you towards your goals and allow you to continue to progress and get something out of the workout.

Ski Abs: Ski abs are just awkward, especially when you add in the speed, so just go at your own pace. Even if it's very slow, going at a pace where you keep your form is better than going too fast with poor form and risking injury. Eventually, muscle memory will kick in, the move will be less awkward, and you will be able to pick it up. Never be afraid to take it at your pace. There is no cookie-cutter pace for Insanity. Just keep your heart rate up, keep trying your hardest, and you will get there. If you are too tired for ski abs, I would again hold a plank so that you can continue to work your core (or even a side plank to work the obliques). These same modifications can be use for in-and-out abs.

I think the most important thing to remember is that breaks are ALWAYS okay, and encouraged! Insanity is a no-joke workout! Most of us are not professional athletes taking these DVDs on, so our endurance and cardio might not be up to par just yet. It's great to take a breather, just make sure you keep moving and continue on with the set. Don't do 10 seconds of something and take a breather for the remainder of the set...take a few seconds and hop back in. Even if when you hop in you only get 5 more reps in, you've got to keep pushing. Knock down the mental barriers you are setting for yourself, because more often than not it is our mind, not our body, telling us to stop.

Best of luck and DIG DEEPER!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Transformation Story: Ashley

In April I ran a free Abs Challenge for whoever wanted to join, with a friend of mine. We had over 50 participants, but one of the one's that stuck out to me was my friend, Ashley.

Ashley and I met through doing promotional work for various companies, and she's such a fun girl! We are very much alike in that we love to have a good time, enjoy some beers here and there, but most importantly one of the most important things to us is just being happy :)

Ashley enjoys health and fitness, so when I opened this group and it was just a few weeks until her trip to the Caribbean, she was all in. Hard work, dedication, and a modified diet helped her to get the results that she did. 

She did an amazing job and I am so proud of her! Way to go, Ashley! Here is her story:
"When I began this challenge, I was very skeptical. I knew I had to do something to get beach body ready and I had to do it quickly. Vacation was fast approaching and I was in a panic. I wanted to be one of those people who was proud to strut my stuff up and down the beach in my itty, bitty bikini. Abs has always been such a trouble area for me. I constantly work on them with little to no results. Being a woman that lost nearly 80lbs in my lifetime, my mid-section didn’t reap the same benefits as the rest of my body. Some things didn’t bounce back as quickly as others.

This challenge really threw me through a loop. Every week, I’d take “after” pictures and I’d become even more obsessed with my results. The workouts weren’t time consuming and they weren’t too difficult to do, but they gave me a challenge. Muscle confusion played a big part in my success. I believe the coaches designed a great workout plan that had variety as well as techniques to work on all trouble areas. The girls in the group were my main motivation and support. Without those ladies, I would have quit after day 3. Seeing the changes in all of us really pushed me to work harder and to not give up. I wanted to make myself proud, but I always wanted to make the ladies in the group proud. Honestly, their unconditional support moved me levels above where I was when I first began the challenge. It was also nice to discuss working out, problem areas, new tips, recipes, etc without feeling embarrassed. It was so comfortable. I’d definitely sign up for more challenges.

As a natural pessimist, I never thought a challenge group like this would work for me. I always saw them floating around my facebook page and I’d ignore them. I always thought online groups couldn’t possibly give me the results that I always strive for. Boy, was I wrong! Since April 1st, I’ve completed three challenges and I don’t plan on stopping. I’m so glad I took a leap of faith and joined this challenge. It has motivated me to push myself even harder to try new things!" - Ashley

Friday, June 7, 2013

Quick Vacation Slim Down

I get asked by a lot of people, "I'm going on vacation in 2 weeks and have totally neglected my workouts. Is there anything I can do?"

Great question (and a common one at that). The first thing I'd tell you is start working out. Don't go killing yourself, or working out five times a day..that's stupid and you are just going to end up injuring or exhausting yourself. If you exhaust your body you are more prone to sickness, and no one wants to be sick on vacation. Instead, start working out like you would if you didn't have a deadline. Do you have a Beachbody video? Start popping them in every day and get on a routine (and those can come with you on vaca!)  Maybe go for a jog every morning, or start taking walks.  I would also recommend 2 sets of 10 push ups, 2 sets of 10 dips, and some ab work..but again, nothing extreme.  This will give you some muscle tone in your arms, and begin to firm up your abs. Now, you are not going to have Cameron Diaz arms or some crazy six pack BUT you will have more than what you started with.

The second thing I would tell you is to watch what you eat. DO NOT CRASH DIET. Don't go eating an apple, or skipping lunch, or eating a Saltine cracker for dinner. Again..that's being stupid AND slowing down your metabolism. Just make some quick switches:
No more carbonated beverages. None. This makes your stomach look "puffy"

No more salt...also makes ya bloat and retain water so go for low sodium options

Drink your Shakeology

Limit gassy foods: Mexican, beans, broccoli, etc.


No beer, no alcohol

Goodbye, dairy!

Nothing white (sugar, bread, etc)

Eat more fiber

Slow down your eating

Go tropical with your fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya)

Making these few simple changes can help you to look a lot less bloated while you are in your bikini or trunks. I'm not promising you are going to lose weight (if you wanted to do that you probably should have started earlier than a week or two before your vacation), but this will help you out.

Happy vacationing, everyone!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Insanity: Recovery Week

Woo! I made it! I have been staring at this week on my Insanity wall calendar as if it were a finish line...but really all it is, is the starting line for the next month.

The first month of Insanity was, by far, more mental for me than physical. The workouts always left me breathless feeling like I got in an AMAZING workout, but the mental aspect of the whole thing was the most difficult. Around week 4 I just got really tired. I'm not sure if that was my body CRAVING the recovery week at that point or what, but I was BEAT. I did not want to get out of bed, I did not want to do my workouts, but I still did them. As always, after the the first round of the warm up I was pumped and ready to go, but man getting to that point was rough.

Recovery week is a nice break, for sure. You are still working out 6 days in a row, but the workouts are at a much lower intensity. The first workout I did, I felt very tired afterward (which is exactly how you AREN'T supposed to feel), so I toned it down the next two times I did it and lowered the intensity a bit. I feel much better now. I feel as though I still got a great workout in, but that I didn't kill myself like I do with a typical Insanity workout.

The Cardio Core and Balance DVD focuses on minute intervals for the majority of the exercises, which are nothing that you haven't really done, but you focus more on posture, core, and control than speed and reps. Control is a big part of all the movements.  The first half is cardio-based, so you are doing your suicides, your hit the floors, vertical jumps, switch kicks, etc; however, sometimes these exercises are paired with an 8:8 ratio (Example: 8 switch kicks, 8 power jacks...something like that).

At the end its about balance as you work on your obliques and hip flexers. I can feel my core engaged this entire workout.  Your core is supposed to be engaged during a regular workout, but sometimes everything is going so fast you are lucky if you remember to breathe. With Cardio Core and Balance, you can really feel the focus on the core.

So there you have it! If you have made it this far, congratulations! We are half way there! If you haven't yet, then there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep pushing on, stay strong, and dig deeper!