Thursday, April 14, 2011

30 Day Shred: Level 2

Well, at the risk of quoting Jillian, we've just completed level one of the 30 Day Shred, and we're all well on our way to being...shredded.

This post will serve as a discussion forum while we complete Level 2 of the Shred!  A link to this post has been posted on the top right side of the website under "30 Day Shred Challenge---Resources."  Feel free to pop back in here to talk about the successes and challenges you're facing in working out.

For those unfamiliar with the shred, the basic premise is that you do 18 minutes of intense activity, cycling between strength (3 minutes), cardio (2 minutes), and abs (1 minute).  Within each unit, you do two exercises that are repeated once.  Strength exercises in level one all involve weights except for two sets of about 15-20 push-ups.  Cardio exercises involve jumping and punching.  Abs involve crunches of various kinds.  You can read some background on the challenge here.

Level One Assessment:


  • Three-pound weights for the first five days, five-pound weights for the second five days (if possible; play that last part by ear) YES.  This wasn't a very specific goal, but I did work in the five pounders starting with a few exercises in Day 5 and then increased their use until I was using them for all of the strength exercises.

Frequency:  I did a good job of doing this DVD every day; I only missed one day in level one and it was because I purposefully decided to take a rest day.  The influence of doing this challenge in a group is strong; in order to fit the Shred in on Saturday, I had to go home between a dinner event and a party in order to shred.  I am 100% certain that without that group commitment I would not have made time for this exercise.

Intensity:  By Day 10, I was able to use the five-pounders for every strength activity (although struggling a lot with the squat presses and the side lunges with a shoulder raise).  I think as a function of the increased weight during the squat presses, my push-up performance suffered a bit.  (For those not doing the DVD: a second set of push ups immediately follow the first set of squat-presses.)  I averaged about 200 calories burned for each workout.  By the end of this level, it didn't exactly feel easy, but I was able to get through it with a lot less trouble than I'd had initially.

Overall fitness:  I went for my first run since my February 27 half marathon this week, prompted by the happy exercise endorphins and increase in strength that I've been feeling since starting the Shred.  I'm still not eating particularly well, so while I can feel my muscles developing and I can tell that I'm gaining strength, my visible muscle tone is not what it would be if I were closer to my goal weight (I'm about five pounds above it right now).  Still, I had an awesome moment yesterday when I went down for my first push-up:  I felt STRONG.  The push-up felt easy.  There were muscles in my arms that were singing with happiness that they were being used and that they could help me do what I wanted to do.  I was taken aback my my own strength and it felt great.

I'm going to wrap that moment in some pretty paper and carry it with me into level 2, since (spoiler alert) my change in numbers is not very dramatic.

Goals for Level 2:

  • Use the DVD for 9 out of 10 days (all ten if possible, but no less than nine)
  • Work in the five-pound weights as soon as I feel that the three pounders are too easy
  • Go for two runs
  • Stick to my Weight Watchers Points+ (includes weekly and activity points)

Questions for the Shredders (answer as many as you like, or none if you prefer):
  • What was the easiest part of the challenge for you during this level?  The hardest?
  • Did you have any moments during Level 1 where you realized that you have made progress or built your strength?  Do tell!
  • How do you fit the Shred into your day?  When/where do you do it?  What motivates you?
  • What are your goals for Level 2?

Not very dramatic progress photos (NSFW?  Dunno.  Shirtless?  Does that count?) and numbers behind the jump...

Level 1 Measurements:

Weight: 141.6
Change in weight: +1.2

Chest: 32" (-0.5)
Waist: 31" 
Hips: 36"
Thigh: 22" (-0.25)
Arm: 11.5" (-0.5)

Change in inches: -1.25


So, I dunno.  A pound gained, an inch lost.  The pound, to the extent that it is "real" weight, is definitely ALL me; I've been following Weight Watchers very loosely for the last month and a half.  Whether or not it's real I don't find it too discouraging---even if I was eating more healthfully, starting a new exercise regimen (especially one with strength training) can cause fluctuations at the scale as your muscle develops.  I tend to discount week-by-week measures and focus on the month-to-month.

I do feel as though I can see a slight difference in the pictures.  Less belly overhang, perhaps.  I just double-checked in the mirror to make sure I hadn't been "sucking it in" too much in the second pictures, but I don't think I am.  I wish I'd set up a more replicable before picture...i.e., used my tripod at a specific angle/location/height, but oh well.

I'm not discouraged with my progress, but I do wish I could snap my fingers right now and just become my own "after" picture, whether that "after" is in 20 days or three months.  But such is not life.

Shredders, feel free to share your progress/victories/frustrations in the comments!  On to level 2!

(Want to join us?  Buy: DVD, weights (start with three pounders), mat)

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