Here are some facts about me:
- I love cooking and eating
- I love trying out new restaurants
- I love wine and cocktails
- I love clothes and fashion
- I hate going to the gym
- I hate working out
The last two facts don’t jive particularly well with the first four facts.
And here’s what I’ve discovered:
Even if I eat well — lead a gluten-free lifestyle — without exercise, it is hard to get that good, toned body that looks great in clothes… especially when I like to try new restaurants or recipes, as well as have my wine and drink it, too. Until I married David, going to the gym was not remotely in the picture for me; it just wasn’t something I was accustomed to even thinking of doing. This approach (or lack of approach toward fitness) was fine in my 20’s and I guess I got away with it for the most part. But once I hit 30, I could feel my metabolism slowing down. Add to that the fact that David is always trying to put on weight (muscle) and eats like a large zoo animal, I found it increasingly difficult to not put on weight myself. So I started going to the gym, once, maybe twice a week, under David’s guidance doing mostly weight training, because I hate running and, really, cardio-anything. I was not a good trainee. Although I got stronger and could see some muscle definition taking place, I was still very good at finding excuses not to go to the gym (inside our building) or not to push hard. I wasn’t motivated.
And yet, I coveted a more toned body. I wanted to be able to wear crop tops, which was so big this past season and looks like will continue to be in the fashion picture in the upcoming seasons. There were also quite a few outfits in my closet that I couldn’t quite fit into anymore, and I wanted to change this situation.
Nothing motivates you quite like vanity, perhaps.
And so, I decided to try exercise DVDs at home. “Maybe if I could work out inside the comfort of my own home, I’d do it more” was my thinking. I kept seeing commercials on TV for the Insanity exercise program… and finally, last February, I took the plunge and started it. It was, indeed, insane. It was hard. The self-described “extreme” exercise program calls for working out 6 days a week for 8 weeks, with a “recovery” week in between. Each exercise session takes about an hour. I got through it, but my knee was bothering me by the end because there’s a lot of jumping involved. Although it was a good program to whip me into a resemblance of cardio shape, it wasn’t a sustainable workout regimen. I lost some weight, but not a lot, although I felt a little leaner.
The good thing about Insanity was that it started me down the path of working out at home on my own, using DVD’s. David preferred this arrangement, too, because I was such an unwilling trainee. After Insanity I did P90X. P90X is a much longer program. 90 days, 6 days a week, and a lot of the workouts are more than an hour long. I liked the exercises but found the duration very difficult to fit into my life on a 6-days a week basis. I did get through the 90 days, though, and I got stronger (hello, push-ups) and more flexible thanks to the yoga element, but the time it demanded was not a sustainable option for a more long-term exercise lifestyle.
If you do a bit of googling for results on Insanity and P90X, you will find a lot of amazing “before and after” photos of people who achieved great body successes on the program. Although I was getting leaner and stronger, my progress was rather slow, not exactly magical. But doing the two programs was a good way for me to learn how hard it is to get a good body. Toto, I’m not in my 20’s anymore, and I need to put in the work to get the results!
And then T25 happened. T25 is a new program developed by Shaun T, creator of the first program I did, the Insanity workout. Each workout in T25 is only 25 minutes long. 25 minutes!! It is very hard to not find 25 minutes in your day. The T25 program calls for working out 5 days a week; on Fridays, you do a double session (2 sessions of 25 minute workouts, or 50 minutes). There are two cycles, Alpha and Beta. Each cycle lasts 5 weeks. Alpha is the “foundation” cycle, which basically paves the way for the Beta cycle. No equipment other than a mat is necessary in the Alpha cycle, because you use your own body weight for resistance. The Beta cycle focuses more on the core and in sculpting muscles. Light dumbbells or resistance bands are added. The main thing about T25 is that you don’t stop or have breaks at all in the 25 minutes. You press play, and push hard, for 25 minutes.
I just completed Alpha and Beta cycles (10 weeks) and I LOVE the program. I LOVE Shaun T, the trainer. I feel like I have found a program that I can do for a long time to come. That the workouts are 25 minutes long instead of an hour or more makes a HUGE difference for me. Even I — queen of wiggling out of workouts — can’t really come up with an excuse for not being able to fit in 25 minutes. There is a Gamma program that follows Beta, sold separately, which focuses on strength — and so I am onto the Gamma phase next.
The most surprising and impressive thing about T25 is the visible changes I have achieved. I’m sure if I had abstained entirely from wine and cocktails, I would have seen much more results, but I am looking for a workout lifestyle I can live with… anyway, pictures will say a thousand words, so here are my results photos (first time sharing my workout “look” photos with the public!):
If you are looking for a short but intense workout program, I highly recommend T25. Putting the work in working out is easier, I find, when it’s only 25 minutes. It’s just long enough to feel like you’ve accomplished something, but not too long so that you feel it is tedious or overwhelmed at the prospect of fitting it into your busy life. Interestingly, last year the American Physiological Society found that a half hour exercise works just as well as an hour-long exercise to maintain/shed weight. You can read a little bit about it here.
I turn 35 next summer (gulp!). My goal is to rock a crop top come summer time… and even more importantly, I am going to work at being the fittest I’ve ever been when I turn 35. Wish me luck!