I did not want to turn this into a journal detailing the minutiae of my day, but I needed some kind of accountability to reach my goal of having fitness and health become an integral part of my life. Starting brand new blog explicitly for fitness was not a good idea since the single events/hobby blogs I start tend to fizzle out after time and get wrapped into this blog anyways.
I also didn’t intend to have this become a New Year’s resolution event post either, but the proximity of New Year’s and finally starting my workout happened to coincide with major events going on. I am honestly not the type of person to do New Year’s resolutions (rolls eyes). I find them silly because if you want to improve something about your life, you should do it ASAP and not let holidays push you around!
My original intention was to start concurrently with the last semester of grad school, but I underestimated the workload for my classes (2 intensive classes + full-time job = not easy). I also accepted a new job offer and was transitioning during that period. The workout start date kept getting delayed, but was always on my mind.
Fast forward to December. I technically started working out on December 9th to get the soreness out of the way as to avoid using soreness as an excuse to stop working out once the program began. I was also heading into a very busy 2 weeks of work at the new job (13-14 hour work days), and I didn’t want to stress over trying to fit in exercising while things were getting crazy.
I decided on December 26, 2016 as the official start date as I would be done with school, I would be done with the work crunch, I would be done with the temptations of Thanksgiving and Xmas, and my work literally shuts down the days between Xmas and New Years Day, so I was home and able to focus.
My Fitness Background
In my small high school, I was able to play the majority of the typical high school sports (soccer, basketball, etc.). I was active, but ate a lot of crap as teenagers are wont to do.
Exercise in college was not as constant, but it still happened at least once a week. I lived in a college town and walked everywhere so staying active was easy. Being in my early 20’s also had the advantage of binge drinking and eating all the crap I wanted and able to bounce back with minimal effort. At this time, I became more informed on how nutrition effects the body and learning about resistance training (the boyfriend at the time was into body building).
Once I graduated, there was a whole lot of nothing in terms of activity. At this time, I started to notice that it was not as effortless to maintain the same size I had been in college. I joined the world of being a responsible adult and that meant a sedentary desk job, work-related stress, and having the money to buy all the terrible food and alcohol that I wanted.
In about 2007-2008, I was the heaviest in my life at nearly 150lbs. That may not seem so bad, but my frame is very narrow, so there wasn’t much space for the extra weight to spread around, despite being average height of 5’4. I felt tired all the time and work was miserable and depressing, which contributed to forming terrible habits that involved a lot of drinking to deal with the stress which compounded with a poor diet and poor quality sleep.
It Got a Little Better…
Fortunately, my life changed when I quit that nasty job. Unfortunately, I did it right before the Great Recession and had a short period where I was out of work and looking. With the extra time, I was able to focus more on improving my mental and physical health. I cut out liquid calories (no more booze), became more conscious of what I ate, I started counting calories with MyFitnessPal, and I began and completed a cycle of P90X. After P90X, I weighed about 120-125lbs which was my weight in college. I had a lot of energy and stamina. I was able to sleep easily and get enough rest and for the first time in my life, I was actually regular (TMI, sorry!). Other parts of my life were looking up too. I was able to find employment again and even got a promotion of sorts shortly after starting the job.
This occurred about 6 years ago. At the time, I finally felt attractive enough to put myself back in the market and I got a boyfriend, but subsequently gained the weight and flab back and became lazy again. I also got a new job, moved 3x in a span of 3 years, and even went through a breakup with said boyfriend (blah ex) which continued pushing me off the rails. The major deterrent however, was grad school that I started about 3.5 years ago while working full-time.
In the 6 years of doing jack and squat, I hovered around 130-135lbs and was considered thin but flabby. I tracked calories and macros (a good habit I developed from the old P90X days) and attempted to keep the calorie intake at about 1200. Realistically, it probably averaged about 1600 calories per day. I was sedentary and worked an office job and didn’t exercise at all.
During the Spring of 2016, one of my coworkers got a Fitbit and started challenging the office. I already had a Fitbit (the old school Flex) but had not used it since 2014. Having others involved piqued my competitive side and brought back some activity. I had a modest goal of getting at least 10k steps a day (and beating my coworkers!). I remember after the first day of getting the 10k steps, I was so sore, I could barely walk. Yeah, that’s just about describes my fitness level there. After that point, I did make an effort to add in a bit more motion throughout the day by taking stairs, walking to work, etc., but it really did not involve any sweating. Once in a blue moon, I did get on the old stationary bike at home and got to work with some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or some prolonged bike ride while watching a movie. It was nothing consistent and I honestly didn’t try all that hard.
Thanksgiving 2016 was when I was at my heaviest during this 6 year period at about~138lbs or so. The extra weight was around the stomach area, best described as “goopy.” This weight was in part due to the stress from school and new job transition and the overindulgence of Thanksgiving food because I was expecting to start working out “soon.” I was not happy with myself and rationalized that the end of grad school was the end of the tunnel of feeling like shit. So now its after Xmas, there is no more school (I’ll be walking in the Spring, yay!), there’s no more excuses, and it’s time to get to work.
The Cost of Fitness
Despite my frustrations in having to delay working out (and using that to rationalize eating poorly), the delay was a small boon as it provided some time to research what I wanted to do and how I can reach my goals.
My initial plan was to join this highly rated gym less than a 2 minute walk from my apartment. They specialize in spinning, kettlebells, and some flavor of cross fit. It’s a small boutique gym all about classes, personal/group training, and not so much idle equipment for people to use. In fact, it appears that they are closed if there are no classes or personal training sessions going on.
It seemed like a good fit for me because I hate open gyms with equipment everywhere (a la Gold’s Gym). Sure, the concept of open gyms are fine and it works for others, but I feel like a fish out of water, a fool. If I pay for the whole year, I would only go a few times during the first month and that’s it. I am the ideal gym customer. It’s not that I am embarrassed of my physique when going to a gym, I am embarrassed because I feel like an idiot that has no clue what they are doing. I just can’t get over the mental issues and I guess it doesn’t help that I am an introvert and so I am not one to be asking for help.
I was prepared to make some sacrifices to hit the gym down the road and maybe even hire a personal trainer to start out. Their reviews indicate that they get the job done, but they are very expensive. We’re talking about at nearly $200/month or $20 per class. Personal training is even more ridiculous at $100 per single 1-hr session and $2.2k for 24 1-hr sessions. I got a new job with a little raise, but not enough to afford to sustain going to that gym. I’ll be honest, the high expected costs also worked to delay my start, or rather, it certainly didn’t incentivize me to start sooner. I was using money as a new excuse.
So what else was there to do?
Thanksgiving was nearing and I was doing research on my own, reading websites, looking at apps, checking out books and ebooks. Nothing really resonated with me. I considered doing another round of P90X, but was reluctant to commit to it since the workouts are an hour long and requires more equipment than I have.
Then I remembered… after completing P90X, I went on a little shopping spree and bought some training DVDs. Two of which were Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30. I vaguely recall my interest in her from watching the Biggest Loser a few times and had recognized her on the covers. Unfortunately, the first set of videos I tried from the shopping spree was some yoga program that I found a great dislike for. Working out started to become a chore again and I tapered off exercising for reasons I’ve already listed. I didn’t even open Jillian Michaels’ DVDs.
The JM DVDs happened to be somewhere at my parents’ house left there in between moves. My parents didn’t live too far away, but far enough that would require a weekend trip. This gave me more time to research Jillian Michaels and her programs. I fired up Amazon to see what to expect and what others were saying… and I got sucked into reading the reviews for hours because I got so excited. So many people were singing praises of the workout, the format, and Jillian Michaels as a trainer. Many reviewers detailed the changes that they have undergone using the videos. I decided that I wanted to write a review like that in a few months after completing the videos too!
JM’s style is the 3-2-1 circuit training, which consists of 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. All I needed to work out were some hand weights and a mat, both of which I already had. The best part was that it as only 20 minutes workouts for the 30 Day Shred (3 levels to work through) and 30 minutes workouts for Ripped in 30 (4 levels to work through).
And it struck me. This is perfect for me. Why should I go to a gym and pay the expensive membership fees, when I could workout and get active in the comfort of my own home? All I needed were some hand weights and a mat. I already had that at home!
I got addicted to reading the reviews and could not wait to visit my parents house to find the videos! In the meantime, I used some free Amazon credits I amassed from my Xmas shopping to buy the digital versions of her Banish Fat Boost Metabolism and her No More Trouble Zones and previewed them. The weekend rolled around and I visited my parents’ place to look for the DVDs. I found them… and then started making plans to get to work.
As mentioned, I wanted to get started ASAP, but with holidays coming with an expected work crunch, I knew that I needed to plan so that I can eliminate as many excuses as possible. I did a few initial Ripped in 30 workouts during the weekend of December 9, 10, 11 to get the soreness out of the way. And then my journey began on December 26th, 2016.