I just want to get something off my chest right up front — I hate workouts with names that talk about “banishing” fat. That’s not what it’s about for me and it’s partially what stopped me from posting on this blog so often. Plus you *need* fat to survive.

That being said —

I freaking love this workout. Like many other Jillian Michaels workouts it’s a total killer, but if you’re looking for something to get your blood flowing in the middle of the winter, this is it.

The Format of the Workout

Jillian splits this workout into seven circuits, each six minutes long, plus a warm-up in the beginning and stretching at the end. All in all, it runs about 45 minutes, devoting about 30 seconds to each exercise and repeating them twice in each circuit.

I’m not going to list all of the exercises, or we’d be here forever. But to give you an idea of what the workout’s like:

It has two kickboxing circuits with kicking and punching (these are some of my favorite circuits), old-school calisthenics including butt kicks, jumping jacks, and oblique crunches, and floor work including mountain climbers (this was absolutely killer for me).

Other common exercises include plie hops, high knees, jump squats, side skaters, standing mountain climbers, cross-country skiing, and jumping rope (without an actual rope).

The Positive Side of this Jillian Michaels DVD

In addition to the awesome workout that this DVD provides, which should be a reason to buy or rent it alone, it has a few other positives.

For one, it requires zero equipment. All you need is the workout itself and a device on which to play that workout, and you’re golden.

It also requires little space. Although there is a lot of jumping, you generally stay in one area, making this work out great for a small apartment or small bedroom.

Compared to the other Jillian Michaels DVDs I’ve seen, which is not all of them, Jillian hits just the right mood. Sometimes she can border on obnoxious, but in this workout she is encouraging and tough without being condescending. She makes you feel good about yourself.

The Drawbacks to this Workout

For someone who is just getting back into shape, or getting into shape for the first time, this workout might just kill you (I’m only sorta kidding).

It was the first workout I tried when getting back into shape and it took me days to recover. I felt like I had accomplished something, but at the same time I felt totally dead.

Plus, the “backup” ladies? Yeah, they don’t look like they’re working at all. Toward the end of the workout, I wanted to strangle them (irrational, maybe, but I was suffering).

It’s not impossible, however. Unlike the 30 Day Shred, which is a short and intense workout, this one alternates intense exercises with less intense exercises. It’s all hard, but at least Jillian lets you catch your breath.

This workout is also a little bit hard on the knees. It contains a lot of jumping, so you have to be careful to protect your joints if you have a problem with them.

All in All

  • It’s a tough workout.
  • It’s about 45 minutes long
  • It’s hard on the knees
  • I Would definitely do it again

Where Can you Get Access to this DVD

This workout review is part of my Amazon Prime Workout Video Series. That means you can either buy the hard-copy on Amazon or join Amazon Prime for unlimited access (30 day free trial).

engagement

A Revelation

This morning I had some quality time with myself – without television, without podcasts, without music. I was alone, barefoot in the garden, planting my seeds…. sweat pouring off my forehead and dirt wedging its way the edges of my nails.

I knew I would have to spend some time digging it out later, but I didn’t care. The garden occupied my hands, leaving my mind to roam, giving me valuable time to assess my life as it is.

These quiet times are when I can see myself most clearly. I thought about where I was year ago and where I am today, and whether I am satisfied with that.  I decided that although I am happier than I’ve ever been, I’m not completely satisfied. Is it even possible to achieve complete satisfaction?

Somehow, I lost sight of how I was going to achieve my dream. I let procrastination rule my life, and obsessions with TV shows dull my creative mind. I let myself get by with just enough, instead of really trying to excel.

Maybe after all those years of school I was just tired. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to take the leap. Whatever the case – that stops today.

Moving Forward with the Blog

I feel like my life moves in cycles. I started out really excited with a project, go all out for a while and then quit cold turkey and feel guilty about it (sound familiar, faithful readers?).

My problem with this blog in particular was that my focus was too narrow. I didn’t feel right blogging all my food and exercise choices. Frankly, I don’t really think that promotes healthy living. I was trying to imitate the bloggers I loved reading – but that wasn’t me. I admire them, don’t get me wrong, I just shouldn’t try to be them. And I want to provide a better example for other women out there.

So, it’s time for a fresh start, a new beginning.

The biological definition of “fitness,” according to OxfordDictonaries.com, is “an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.”

That’s the kind of fitness I’m going to be talking about on the blog from now on. It’s more than being physically fit. It’s about being mentally and spiritually fit. It’s about surviving, but also doing more than just surviving. It’s about living. It’s about making the most of the environment in which you live.

In other words, this blog will be all me, uninfluenced by others. I’ll probably end up writing a few times a week, as time permits and as the motivation arrives, so I won’t burn out as quickly as I did last time.

I’ll also start talking more about my work life and my goals. I’ll talk about efficiency and staying fit while working at home. I’m actually really excited about the new direction of the blog – it won’t be drastically different from the old one. This time it’s for me, though. A pure pleasure.

Some Updates

A few things have changed since the last time I wrote.

For one, am getting married in less than five weeks. Wow, seeing that written is so much different than just thinking it in my head. FIVE weeks!! The last time I wrote we weren’t even engaged — shows how long it’s been since I’ve updated.

Here’s the engagement ring Joey designed for me (gotta love engineers):

Unique, eh? Well….I’m really excited! More on that in later posts.

For another, I’m writing for Demand Studios. It brings in a consistent income, but I feel like I’m a hamster on a wheel, going nowhere. Things will change on that front soon I’m hoping.

The last time I was writing on this blog it made me want to be a better person. I’m hoping this time it will have a similar effect, and I can help other people who identify with where I am in life.

So, that’s that! Tonight we’re off to Saratoga to take advantage of the warm weather and pick up some ice cream. Maybe I’ll post again tomorrow about our adventures. :-)

So excited to be back!

I notice that when I’m struggling with something I go silent. I retreat inside, to this Alice-in-Wonderland world where everything is upside down and twisted sideways and out of proportion. In that world doubt rules instead of confidence, depression instead of optimism. It’s dangerous there.

On the surface I’ve been struggling with what kind of blogger I’d like to be. When I got into this, as usual, I probably read a little too much. “Write what you like to read” all of the top bloggers said.

Well…

I like sites like:

I love the recipes they post, their musings on life, and their workouts. But when I tried to blog like they did it didn’t feel real. It felt forced. It felt like an obligation and if there’s one thing that I don’t want this blog to become it’s an obligation.

It did, however, keep me accountable. I started experimenting more with food and being more consistent with exercise. But it also started to take over my life. I know I have an obsessive personality. That’s why I’ve never tried smoking or drugs….it would get out of control–fast.

The #1 reason that I can’t blog like that, though, is because I don’t have the rest of my life together. Right now I need to focus on making a living and settling into life post grad school. And really I can only focus on one huge thing at a time. By throwing so much energy into this blog I was procrastinating. Time to buckle down.

I love blogging, so I’m not going to stop…I’m just not going to be so relentless with it. You’ll only get my best–because you (all 3 of you reading this :-P) deserve that.

As for my workouts…I’m not being so rigid. I’m walking, I jog sometimes, I bike. I always say that in a relationship, the moment that the scale between happiness and non-happiness tips toward the latter it’s already over. I’m just keeping my relationship with exercise healthy by taking a little space :-).

I’ll be back!

As I reread my last post I was surprised by my ability to repress what I was really feeling. Every word was difficult in that post. At its heart it was valid: everyone needs breaks. What was behind it, however, was desperation. I was struggling to get back into a groove, but all I was really doing was watching Mad Men. I was avoiding my life.

But today, Sarah got her groove back, baby.

I got up, went for an only slightly painful run, and had a normal breakfast of blueberry peanut butter oatmeal:

blueberry-peanut-butter-oatmeal

Yum!

I think it was the run that got me going on the right track, as always. The hard part was getting to that run, but I knew what I needed to do.

The element that eluded me was: What brought me into the dark in the first place?

I think the problem was that I was starting something new, something that I always wanted to do but was always too terrified to begin. I was scared to death of failing the one thing I’ve wanted to do my whole life.

Think that’s extreme? Maybe if we put it in perspective with the Colorado shooting. But in my little life—it’s not far from the truth. The fear of failure paralyzed every part of my life. The vacation only held it off for a week.

Now I’ve started and, as usual, it’s not as bad as it seems. It’s actually fun! And I’m capable of it. No reason to panic at all.

That always seems to happen…

Lesson learned: Stop panicking and just start if I want to live my life efficiently.

seagullbeach.jpg

So I’m back from vacation.

While on the Cape I did nothing I usually do. I didn’t run, I didn’t do any strength workouts, I didn’t blog, and I didn’t work. My days were filled with family, friends, the beach, shopping, and great seafood.

I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t wish I was back here:

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I hope you all had a wonderful day. I spent 4 hours on busses traveling back to Massachusetts. It was a nice peaceful time. :-)

Tomorrow morning, early, we’re leaving for Cape Cod! We stay at my Uncle’s house, which has no Internet. So unfortunately I won’t be posting as much.

I’ll take plenty of pictures and write up reviews of restaurants and such. I may even sneak down to a library or a Barnes and Noble once or twice to say hi. But for the most part my goals are:

  1. Get in some good runs;
  2. People-watch to get some ideas for my stories; and
  3. Hang out on the beach.

Everything else is just icing on the cake. Sometimes you have to simplify things to get the most out of them.

So I’ll see you in a week–hope you don’t miss me too much!

strengthcircuitworkout.jpg

The first thought that came to mind as I opened my eyes this morning was: “I really don’t want to go for a run.” As I swung my legs over the side of the bed and put my weight on them I cringed. They were sore as ever—punishment for making lunch instead of stretching after my Zumba workout yesterday.

I got ready and forced myself out the door anyway. My leg muscles started to loosen after about a mile, but I felt tired. There’s such a fine line that you can walk between pushing yourself and letting yourself heal. I think I’m toeing that line right now. Thank goodness tomorrow is a rest day, I think my body is really asking for one.

When I got home I did my circuit workout (see below), although I must admit I didn’t make it all the way through. I was just so tired. I’ll try it again on Monday. I finally rewarded myself with a quick bowl of Oatmeal Squares and freshly-picked raspberries.

circuit-workout 021

Hit the spot.

New Full Body Strength Circuit

If you can’t tell already I’m a huge fan of bodyweight circuit workouts. So far I’ve posted two: my Monday Morning Circuit and my Kick-in-the-Butt Circuit. This morning I made up a new one with a little twist:

strength-circuit-workout

I made some more animated gifs for each of the exercises.

1. Lunges with a Twist

lunge-with-a-twist

This type of lunge with a little twist at the end adds an extra level of difficulty. It’s not too hard, but does make the usually easy lunges more interesting.

2. Pushups

pushups

To get the best bang for your buck get down a little lower than I did here, with your elbows at a 90 degree angle. My arms are still weaker than I’d like, and by the 3rd circuit I still end up doing “girl” pushups.

3. Hip Raises

hip-raisesThis exercise is great for your butt and thighs, although you may look silly doing it. Squeeze your glutes at the top for the best results.

4. Inverted Bodyweight Rows

inverted-bodyweight-rows

I’m still working toward 1 pull-up, although I’m not sure I’ll make my goal of September 1. This is a great exercise for getting there and also good if you don’t have an exercise bar.

4. Exercise Ball Knee Tucks

exercise-ball-knee-tucks

This works your entire core, adding the extra element of balance so that you work even harder than if you were only doing a crunch.

Altogether the workout takes about 20 minutes. I hope you enjoy!