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Just when I think I’ve been pushing myself to the limits when it comes to working out, I find a new DVD that makes me wonder if I’m ever really working hard at all.

Similar to the HiiT video, Cathe’s Cardio Core Circuit incorporates a lot of plyometric movement that has your heart pumping within the first few minutes.  The DVD is set up into 5 intense little rounds.  When I first started, for some reason I thought it was 7 rounds, and I honestly didn’t know how I’d get through them.  There are 3 cardio drills that are done for 30 seconds each, and then repeated.  After that, there is a small session of intense core work.

Regarding the cardio, there is a LOT of jumping and bouncing around.  Honestly, if you have any kind of lower body injury, such as knee or ankle pain, I really would not recommend this workout.  Knowing you only have to do each move twice and then you move on helps to keep you motivated, however, it’s definitely not for beginners.  There were a few points where I had to stop just to try to get my breathing back on track.  I’ve never found myself wishing for jump squats, but to be honest, those were a welcome break after some of the other moves!

The core moves are very advanced.  I’m sure I’ll work up to them, but Cathe does a lot of squat thrusts and push up type things that have always been very hard for me.  She does provide some modifications, though, and those will have to do for now!

This is not the kind of video that I could do more than once or twice a week.  While it’s most definitely a FABULOUS cardio option, I was very sore in my legs the next day and even the day after that.  Make sure you bring a lot of energy to this one…you’ll need it!  While it’s certainly not impossible to the point where I’d need to turn it off, it’s a true challenge, but the rewards outweigh the pain 🙂

How many times can a girl possibly talk about Jackie Warner?  A lot, I tell you, because I just keep discovering quick, great workouts that really push me to my limits.

My boss was yet again kind enough to lend me Jackie’s Xtreme Timesaver Training DVD.  You may recall my recent lust over Fitness Magazine’s round-up of the best workout DVDs of 2011?  This one made the list in the “Ultimate Quickie Makeover” category.  While this is only a 30 minute workout, since it involves full body weight training moves, you won’t really be wishing for more when that 30 minutes is up!

After I first did this workout, my legs were shaking when I was done.  Like, shaking so bad I could hardly stand up.  Since Jackie works your upper and lower body simultaneously, there is a LOT of static holding for the lower body.  Some examples include holding a runner’s lunge while doing rear delt flys and holding a sumo squat while curling.  Each move is done for one minute per side (where applicable) and I do have to admit that some of those holds are extremely painful to hold.

Thankfully, as with most Jackie workouts, there are beginner modifications.  Even though I’m not a beginner, I sometimes still modify part of the movement.  The full beginner modification does not use weights at all, and usually drops to a knee, or doesn’t hold as deep.  For the runners lunge hold, I do end up dropping to a knee about halfway through, although for some reason I can hold almost for the full minute on my right side.

From a weight perspective, I will be the first to admit that I have a weak upper body and I feel the burn there before I feel it anywhere else.  Since you’re doing this moves rather quickly for a minute, I’m still only rocking 3 pound weights. On a similar note, Jackie is a huge fan of working the shoulders, and my shoulders are usually in a good kind of pain for a day or so after this workout.  I also feel it in my glutes pretty quickly as well.

My favorite move is the last one, where you’re leaning over and doing a shoulder raise, working both your obliques as well as your shoulders.  Feels fabulous, and I have to say I’m starting to notice some awesome oblique definition as well.  Some other great ones are the curtsy squat + punch combination and the bicep curls while lifting the leg up and down off the ground.

Although this is a strength training DVD, there are a lot of face paced moves in here that do get your heart rate up and leave you a bit breathless.  The whole point of the DVD is to maximize your workout in only 30 minutes, and the combination of strength moves and just overall movement makes that easy to do.

Check out a short preview below, and good luck!

Money is tight for everyone these days.  While some are fortunate enough to have a gym in their apartment building or work building, for those of us without those resources, it can be hard to justify a gym membership.  I’ve been doing home workouts for about 3 years now.  While it can be hard to find a video that makes you work hard enough to feel it, Fitness Magazine just made it easier for all of us with our own home gyms!

The Top 10 Workout Videos for 2011 breaks down the best of the best as far as home workouts are concerned, providing variety as well as a great workout.  From Bob Harper to Jackie Warner to Jillian Michaels to Denise Austin, this list really includes something for everyone.  Fitness Magazine even broke down the amount of calories you would burn, as well as what you need, and included a snippet from each video.

This is really one of the best resources I’ve seen in awhile.  After reading this list, I was super tempted to go out and buy all the ones I haven’t tried (I’ve tried Jillian’s 6 week 6 pack as well as Jackie’s XTreme Timesaver Workout).  While it can certainly add up, as some of these videos cost up to $20 not counting some of the equipment you might need, if working out at home is your main source of exercise, it’s certainly worth the investment.  For now, I’ll hope  that I win the pack of 10, although I’m sure that’s a long shot. 🙂

I haven’t checked to see if any of these are available on Netflix, but that’s another great option if you’re looking to try before you buy as well as find something that motivates you to work hard at home.  Thanks to Fitness Magazine for such a great resource list and for remembering those of us without access to gym equipment that still like to work hard!

I am fortunate enough to have an awesome boss who is even more committed to finding great workout options than I am.  And I benefit from this passion of hers, because she’s awesome enough to let me borrow the ones she finds so I can see if they are worth buying.  Our latest find comes from Cathe Friedrich.

Are we jumping?

Anyone who follows the conversations in the exercise and fitness world knows that high-intensity interval training is often recommended as the best way to burn fat in short, intense workouts.  Jillian Michaels bases a lot of her workouts on this philosophy, as do many other trainers.  It really takes your cardio sessions to the next level as far as I’m concerned.

Cathe’s HiiT High-Intensity Interval Training DVD certainly rivals other videos I’ve done with this method for intensity.  As in, it’s one of the most intense cardio routines I’ve done in awhile.  Below are the two options I tried on the DVD.

30/30: The 30/30 segment does require a step for some of the movements.  30/30 is broken into 30 second blasts with 30 seconds of rest and includes both a warm-up and a cool down.  As my boss warned me and I soon found out, don’t get discouraged by some of the step moves Cathe uses in the warm-up.  They are very fast-paced and hard to catch on to for beginners, however, the interval portion is easier to follow.  When I say easier to follow, I mean it’s easier to get the movement down, but certainly not easy to complete.  Even Cathe is out of breath and can’t talk after some of the blasts.  With a lot of jumping, this workout can be a bit hard on your knees and ankles, however, for 30 second blasts it is certainly tolerable.  I was breathing so hard after some of the blasts that I thought I’d never recover.  And that just feels good!

Pyramid Program: The pyramid segment does not require a step and is an AWESOME way to get your cardio in each week.  Cathe takes you up the pyramid, increasing the blasts and rests, then takes you back down.  Then you do it all over again.  Once again, there is a decent amount of jumping, and I certainly felt this workout the next day in my legs and even a bit in my arms.  The warm up is fun and energizing, and after completing the pyramid two times, you’ll definitely feel like you worked hard.

The only segment I did not try was the 40/20, with 40 seconds of cardio and 20 second blasts.  If it’s anything like the other segments, however, I’m sure it’s worth the work.

I’m not going to lie about it-these workouts are challenging, and if you’re just starting out, I would not recommend you start here.  However, if you’re looking to make big changes through a home workout, these should most certainly get put into your rotation immediately.  The only drawback is that the video is expensive-about $27 on Amazon, plus you have to buy a step to do some of the routines.  However, the overall benefits of doing a workout like this even just twice a week certainly pays off.

As a social media “specialist”, I hated this question.  “How do you measure success?”.  This is a question that all of us have faced on the job or in other areas of our lives.  I’m going to talk about it as it relates to Weight Watchers and the journey I’ve been on for the past 7 weeks.

One obvious way that success is measured on Weight Watchers is through weekly weigh-ins.  Goals are set, and once those goals are met, I would say it is safe to say you have been successful on the program.  Whether you just met your 5% weight loss or 10% weight loss goal, these are all certainly major successes to be celebrated along the way.

But what about the weeks when the scale doesn’t “move mountains” so to speak?  What successes can we look at as a reminder that we’re on the right path?  Below are some small milestones I’ve been keeping track of that help me reward myself when the numbers stay put.

1.)  Monthly Measurements.  Just because the scale isn’t moving doesn’t mean you’re not losing inches.  At the beginning of the Weight Watchers program, I took my measurements as part of the weigh in, and decided to track each month.  I’ll only do this once a month, because I don’t believe that inches fall off as quickly as pounds.  This helped me around week 4 when I did my first check in.  The scale hadn’t moved in weeks, but I had lost an inch all over.  It was this success that helped me get my mind off the scale, and move on to meet my 5% weight loss goal.

2.)  How do your clothes fit? This was an exciting revelation for me this weekend.  I knew my pants were starting to look a bit sloppy, when I noticed that the crotch of my jeans one day was practically hanging down to my knees.  When I went shopping, it felt SO GOOD to put on clothes in sizes I normally wear and have them be too big.  Moving forward with the knowledge that losing weight is going to put me into a whole new wardrobe is certainly annoying from a cost perspective, but boy does it feel good!

3.)  Confidence. Someone remarked to me yesterday that it seemed like over the weekend I had morphed into a different, funnier version of myself.  I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but I’ve noticed I’ve stopped the self-hate and carry myself differently than before.  I know that, no matter how long it takes to get to the weight I’ve set as my final goal, I am doing good by my body.  I can no longer claim that weight loss is out of my control, and I can celebrate along the way the accomplishments I’ve made.  Even though I know there are people saying, “I can’t tell she’s lost weight, what is she talking about???” I know that I have, and right now, that’s all that matters.  It’s taken me years to get to a place where weight loss could be a healthy personal decision, and that alone has given me the confidence to stop berating my thighs, hips, and butt and start embracing the fact that I’m doing the right thing.

4.)  Willpower. As I mentioned when I first started the program, willpower has consistently been a stumbling block for me.  Being on the Weight Watchers program has taught me how to take control where I formally felt out of control.  It hasn’t been easy turning down that second glass of wine at dinner, but the rewards are paying off.  Even though I can’t really measure how my willpower has changed, knowing that I’m able to walk away at a certain point proves to me that I’ve made some big changes in the past 7 weeks that will hopefully carry me through to my final goal.

How do you measure your own success in areas of your life that aren’t numbers driven?

I recently saw in a Hungry Girl newsletter that the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services had announced new dietary guidelines to “help Americans make healthier food choices and confront the obesity epidemic”.   As a direct result of the fact that one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the US are overweight or obese, the Dietary Guidelines place stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

The press release I found stated that additional consumer-friendly advice and tools would be relased in the coming months, and gave a snapshot of some of the advice found in the Dietary Guidelines:

  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Compare sodium in foods and choose the foods with lower numbers
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks

While this advice seems almost too elementary for those of us that subscribe to an overall healthy lifestyle, my biggest question for the USDA and HHS is how they plan to ensure this message reaches those in lower-income levels who may not have access to the same resources we have.  It is no secret that underprivileged children often have unhealthier diets, and honestly, I can see why.  Eating healthy is not cheap, and to be honest, it’s not often convenient.  Ensuring that Jared and I are eating healthy does take a bit of planning, and our grocery bill certainly isn’t cheap.

Although it’s nice to have these dietary guidelines that talk about the benefits of exercise and a balanced diet, I hope that the government plans to do more than issue a press release and a downloadable guide.  I admire the work our First Lady is doing in this regard, and only hope that the message can be spread to more areas in a fashion that is reachable and achievable for those less fortunate than us.

 

My boss and I have become pretty obsessed with working out and eating better.  In fact, I think the men in our office are sick of hearing about Jackie Warner, and Smart Ones, and snack time.

One of them mentioned to us a few weeks back that he had heard on the radio that essentially, unless you moved around frequently during the day, working out wouldn’t really be that effective.  Impossible, I thought.  I mean, I know sitting for long periods at a time is not good for you, but seriously, how are people with office jobs ever supposed to be healthy?  This can’t be true.

Then Jared sent me this article from USA Today that confirms the entire story.  The study confirmed what we already know:  that people who sit for long periods of time are at a higher risk of heart disease than those who take frequent breaks.  The study then goes on to say that “the negative effects of lengthy bouts of inactivity seem to apply even to those who go to the gym.”

In summary, in order to stem off negative side effects like bigger waistlines, high blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol, we need to accumulate activity throughout the day.  The good news is that the study saw positive results for those that took frequent breaks, even if they did spend a lot of time sitting (i.e., all of us office workers).

So how do we incorporate more activity into our daily work routines?  Most suggestions include parking a bit further from the building, taking the stairs, getting up to talk to a colleague instead of emailing them.  Some studies even suggest taking a short walk during “lunch” or standing while on the phone.  While it can be difficult to add things like a walk to some routines, just remember that no matter what you chose to do, every little bit helps.  So, get up and go!

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions when it comes to my health.  After all, that’s a year round thing.  However, I am constantly on the look-out for new ways to lose weight.  I’ve been ignoring the Weight Watchers hype for so long, that I thought it was finally time to give it a try.

To combat all the protests I’ve been hearing such as “Why do you need to do that??” or “You shouldn’t pay for something like that!” let me just say that when you’ve been at this weight loss and working out thing as long as I have, sometimes you just need something else to move the needle.  I’ve had to promise myself not to get frustrated by the stories of people who lose like 20 pounds in the first few months.  For me, that’s just not going to happen.  In my mind, the people that lose so much weight right out the gate probably haven’t been monitoring their calories on LiveStrong or working out with Jackie and Jillian.

Tomorrow, I’ll be going a bit more in depth about the Weight Watchers tools that are available to subscribers.  I’ve been on it a bit over a week, and have lost 4 pounds, so I’m hoping all is not lost.  As I track my progress, here are some challenges I know I’ll face.

1.)  Weekends. My weekend currently looks like this:  Friday, drinks and dinner with one of Jared’s high school friends.  Saturday, The Melting Pot with some girlfriends, and possibly a piano bar later that night.  Considering that Jared and I won’t have a weekend at home until March 19th, I know it’s going to be hard for me to control where and when I eat on weekends.  This has by far been my biggest hurdle so far to weight loss, so I’m anxious to see how I may be able to conquer it this time around.

2.)  Jared. It’s a proven fact that when you embark on a weight loss plan, it’s much easier to do it with someone else.  However, Jared isn’t into the whole not being able to enjoy a beer or a treat when he wants to, so I’m doing this alone.  While he’s been very good about allowing me to plan our menu around my “Points”, it’s extremely hard for me to say no to him when he wants to go grab a quick drink with friends or eat out.  So far, we’re doing well, but guilt is definitely setting in.  Especially since one meal I made he hated due to the amount of vegetables it had.  Oops….

3.)  Myself. I’m only supposed to weigh in every Wednesday.  Do you think that keeps me away from the scale?  Nope.  If I see numbers I don’t like, I tend to get discouraged.  So discouraged, that I almost throw in the towel.  I know I need to keep going, since this is a process, but I’ll have to conquer a lot of my body image demons to make this work.

Game on, Weight Watchers.  See you at the finish line.  If there really is one….

My sister and I were discussing the scale this morning, and it got me thinking about whether or not it was wise to have a scale accessible every day if you’re trying to lose weight.  My scale is in the bathroom, so I can step on it whenever I want.  My sister uses the scale at the gym and weighs in every week.  So, my question is, for people that struggle with body image issues, which is the better method:  mine or my sisters?

When I struggled with an eating disorder in college, I’d have to go to the health center to be weighed once a week to see if I was gaining.  When they weighed me, they made me stand backwards on the scale so I wouldn’t see the numbers.  Psychologically, they knew I couldn’t handle it.  And they were right.  Truth be told, I wonder if that’s still the case today.  Sometimes, I find myself using the scale for “motivation”.  Even if the number is up by 1/10 of a pound, I immediately begin to tell myself that if I keep this up, I’ll never lose weight, and begin to think I’m disgustingly obese with no hope of ever losing.  Not really the best self talk, huh?  My sister finds that even though she lost a pound this week, she’s still frustrated with the slow progress and wishes she could weigh herself every day.  However, her boyfriend fears she’ll turn such a ritual into unhealthy habits such as food deprivation and poor self image.

Opinions on this vary online.  Some articles say that weighing yourself every day can contribute to long-term weight loss, while others say that since your weight fluctuates so much daily and even weekly, it’s not such a good idea.  The article linked to above actually says both in the same write up!  While some women are able to use the scale as positive motivation, women that struggle with disordered eating may have the tendency to turn the scale into their worst nightmare.

Whatever you choose to do, keep in mind these tips when you come face to face with your scale:

1.)  Weigh yourself in the morning after you’ve been to the bathroom, with no clothes on.  If you’re going to weigh yourself once a day, or once a week, make sure you’re weighing yourself at the same time consistently for the most accurate reading.

2.)  Keep in mind that things like eating a big meal, eating meals high in sodium, etc. can cause your weight to fluctuate during the day.  Resist the urge to weigh yourself more than once a day at different times.

3.)  If you find that jumping on the scale each day is causing you to obsess in an unhealthy fashion over your weight, put the scale out of sight.  Take it out once a week to weigh in, or have a friend/partner do the weigh ins for you so you don’t see the numbers.

4.)  Remember that weight can sometimes be an inaccurate measure of your health.  Take measurements monthly on your waist size, or whatever else you’re interested in, and be sure to factor in your BMI as a guide.

Whatever your method for tracking your weight loss, remember that depriving your body of the nutrients found in food is counterproductive to losing weight.  Whatever the number, never let yourself get so frustrated that you stop eating!  Be realistic about your calorie needs to ensure that your body does not start storing fat instead of burning it.

I read a lot in magazines and online about fitness and health.  I have my go-to sites, and Fitness Magazine‘s online information is quickly becoming a daily visit for me.

My sister started to read Fitness magazine a few weeks ago and was constantly telling me about the workouts she was finding, which she found to be really great.  The last thing I need right now is another magazine subscription, so she told me that most of the resources are online.  Fitness Magazine is owned by the same company that owns Better Homes and Gardens, so it turned out I already had a log-in!

My sister wasn’t kidding.  The workout suggestions are pretty great, and different from the usuals.  Fitness Magazine takes into account that a lot of people might not have equipment at home or a gym membership, and there are workouts that do not require a treadmill or any other equipment.  I think this is a great trend for fitness columns to move to.  While I do have a treadmill and weights, I don’t have an elliptical or stair climber, and it’s nice to see some variety that still gets the job done.

Another feature that I thought I had exhausted on other Web sites is the Healthy Recipes section.  I get a daily email that includes some great tips, with links to recipes and snack ideas.  I thought I had seen it all, but Fitness Magazine provides a new variety that is both reasonable and tasty.  While I’ve been unable to find a feature that lets me save them to my profile on the site, it’s just as easy to email them to myself.  (And store them in a folder labeled Cooking-yes, my personal inbox is THAT organized).

As I mentioned, I do subscribe to some of their daily emails that seem to integrate with other magazines under their fold (like Diabetic Living).  I typically delete a lot of the emails I get, but I’ve found myself clicking through on every link to at least browse what they have to say.

Of course Fitness Magazine also has a lot of features I haven’t delved into yet, like Communities and Videos.  Since I have so many options when it comes to videos on demand, I typically don’t turn on my computer to work out, but maybe down the road it would be worth trying.  Or, if you travel a lot, it’s a must!  I tend not to join Communities, but I’m sure they can be inspirational for those that like that sort of thing!

Just when I thought I’d seen it all, Fitness Magazine provides another great portal to inspire me with workout ideas, snack ideas, and more.  What’s more, Fitness Magazine is reasonable in their suggestions without bordering on unhealthy.  It’s great to see another magazine portraying positive ideas and thinking.