About a month ago, I embarked on my first genuine effort to get in shape. After a lifetime of picky eating and speedy metabolism, including five years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I hit my mid-thirties, a desk job, and weaning all at the same time. As each season passed, so did my ability to fit into the previous year’s pants. I’m not that skinny girl who’s going to complain about being fat, but the truth is that I have a freakishly small frame, and I can carry a lot of extra weight without looking heavy. And I just kept carrying more. With a beach trip looming and Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD on sale at Amazon, the timing seemed perfect to finally take some care of my body, instead of just seeing what it could take.
I’ve had bursts of exercising before, but nothing ever really stuck. Classes were too expensive and hard to get to; walking was too dependent on the weather; workout DVDs took too long. What appealed to me most about The Shred, aside from the $9 price, was the 20-minute length. I figured that twenty minutes was a reasonable amount of time to expect my kids to entertain themselves (or Sassy and RJA to entertain them), and they’d probably even be fascinated enough by the colors my face was turning to watch me for that long. And sure enough, as I fought my way through the first of the three progressive workouts, they’d dash in and out of the room, doing jumping jacks beside me and laughing at my squats.
And frankly, it helped. The distraction of their constant barrage of questions helped me to focus on something other than the white-hot fire threatening to spontaneously combust my quadriceps. I could have used it during the rest of the day, as well, to help me forget that I couldn’t get into a sitting position without assistance.
The Shred promises a twenty-pound weight loss in 30 days. I didn’t need to lose twenty pounds, but I’ll admit that I was a little surprised when my 7-day weigh-in showed that I’d gained 1.5. After a few days of meal-tracking, however, I realized I was taking in a lot more calories than I thought, generally in seemingly innocuous items like bread and pasta. Not wanting to waste the grueling work I was doing, I started paying more attention to my diet. Not dieting, mind you, but giving a second thought to what, when, and how much I was eating. By the end of two weeks, my weight was still the same, but the muscles I’d been fighting so hard to locate were no longer buried under a layer of refined flour.
The pain dissipated, but then I moved up to Level 2. The higher impact exercises did my already-stressed limbs in, and after three days, I was forced to rest a very sore iliotibial band. I was scared that being out of my new routine would make me slide right back into my sedentary ways, but then a funny thing happened. I actually wanted to be active. I walked, I did low-impact cardio, I did yoga, and then in a few days, I went back to The Shred, this time alternating the workout with other activities. Four weeks from the day I first met Jillian, I ventured into the Level 3 workout. I finished the three circuits exhausted and pushed to my limit, but thrilled with the knowledge that, just a month ago, I’d never have made it past the first three minutes.
I haven’t gotten on a scale in a while, and I don’t really care what one might tell me. I can feel that my body is stronger, and see the results in everything from my posture to my pant size. I don’t know if The Shred will remain part of my long-term routine, but it’s gotten me off to a great start, and I’m much more motivated to keep the shape I have now than I was to reach the ambiguous goal of getting a better one.