Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Insanity: the good, the bad and the ugly (and why I am so ready to break up with Shawn T)

When I ordered Insanity, I had just done a month of bootcamp (with a Groupon) and was in love. I was getting up at 5 and busting my hump 5 days a week. My month with my Groupon was almost over (and I couldn't afford to stay without the discount) and I didn't want to lose the incentive or the good habits I had started. The infomercial for Insanity came on and I thought why not? I proved I could do more than I thought by taking a bootcamp class for a month, maybe this was step 2. Go big or go home. And really how much harder could it be?

Ummm....so much harder. So much harder that I couldn't even get through the warm up without
pausing the dvd to catch my breath. Yes. The warmup. I was all wait a minute this is the warm up? I thought I just did the workout. This whole your workout is my warm-up thing I see floating around on the internet. Totally true. Jillian Michaels so did not prepare me for this. Neither did my beloved bootcamp.

Despite the difficulty, I was pumped. And that adrenalin and excitement got me through the first two weeks. Granted, week 1 I spent a lot more time watching than participating. I focused on what I could do and had to base my progress off of that, because if I didn't I would just quit. (Or go crazy because sometimes I just wanted to punch those people on the video in the face. Cheering and smiling while I was trying not to puke. Dude, I don't know if you know what type of activity constitutes cheering and smiling, but I assure you, this is not it. Go get drunk in a bar and dance on a table. Ride a roller coaster. Something.)

And then week 3 hit. I was tired. I didn't want to do it. When I was lacing up my sneakers, it seemed like every part of my body was whining, please don't make me! But I had joined a challenge group (something that was so not me.) And I had to post every. single. day. to strangers if I had worked out. Sure, I could lie. But I wasn't going to let strangers beat me by getting better results than me. (I have just a teeny tiny competitive streak.) I mean they were people I didn't even know. I could totally crush them. That is what kept me going. And as much as I didn't want to admit it, the challenge group was worth it. I had always scoffed at the idea of online support in the past. I mean talking to strangers on the internet was so 1994. I was envisioning something like a chat room (cue the dial up internet humming to life in the background) where people whined about how someone brought cake to the office. And that cake is the devil and that person is just so mean to sabotage your diet like that. They must be jealous. Or hate you. But it was just people posting about how well they worked out or ate. Some motivational stuff thrown in there by my coach. Just that little thing, posting in there every day about how well I did, gave me enough to push through the horrible third week.

By week 4 the end of month 1 was in sight! Whoo hoo! But at the end of week 4, I didn't feel ready to move on. What if it's harder? What if I can't even do anything? So I repeated week 4. Then I temporarily relocated across the country, dealt with packing and travel and jet lag. Did the recovery week. But by that point it had been a week and a half since I had done a death by cardio workout. So I was afraid. And I repeated week 4. Again. Ugh. Talk about being sick of Shawn T. Totaling up the weeks, I should have been almost done with this program. At this point, I was only halfway through. I had also finally broken down and told people (besides my online pretend friends) that I had bought the program and was doing it. So real people would know if I didn't do it. Grrrr....

I was pleased to find that month 2 was a little less death by cardio and a little more strength. I was so excited for it to be different. Yay variety! There is still crazy cardio in there but it didn't feel like a form of torture. It was good. I was good. Don't get me wrong I was still super excited for all the leg kicking but the cardio didn't make me feel like I wanted to die. Or just lay on the ground until John came home from work to physically pry my body off of the floor. Month 2 was good. I got through it. I had some pains toward the end, in my back and my wrists. But it was all downhill. If it wasn't for the finish line being right there, I may have thrown in the towel the last week. I was so ready to be done. And now I am so glad I didn't quit.

So here is the good:

The workouts are all pretty much under an hour. The first month they are 30-45 minutes. The second month they jump to 45-60 and the one or two days a week you ad the cardio abs maybe a smidge longer.

Despite all of my setbacks, I saw results. I didn't follow the meal plan. I wasn't a crazy person about my food intake. We did a temporary relocation across the country. We ate pizza and take out around that time. More often than I should have. On average I still ate pizza once a week. I still drank beer. And I still had successes.

The month one warm-up is the same on every dvd. Month 2's warm up is very similar on all the month 2 dvd's. I liked this because I knew what to expect.

I feel so much stronger. I can do things now, at the end of the program, I couldn't do at the beginning.

You stretch. A lot for a home fitness dvd. I was impressed with the amount of stretching he did in each video.

My flexibility has also increased. I've always been pretty flexible, but nothing compared to when I cheered and used and stretched those muscles all the time. Thanks to all the stretching built in, I am way more flexible than when I started.

My core is so much stronger. As a result, my balance is even better. (I've always had pretty good balance.)

The bad:

It does get a little bit repetitive. (Or maybe because I added the extra weeks I was annoyed by this and ready to break up with my new exercise boyfriend.)

The month one warm-up is the same on every DVD. Month 2's warm up is very similar on all the month 2 DVD's. (Both good & bad in my opinion. It depended on the day and what kind of mood I was in.)

The stretching is almost always the same.

I never was able to come close to competing with the people on the video who can jump like ninjas. Ugh. Maybe next time.

And there is so much jumping. If you have any problems in your back or your knees, this is not the workout to try.

The ugly:

By the end my lower back was starting to hurt - especially when doing things like power jumps. I modified those the last 2 weeks.

My wrists also started hurting. There are more push up and plank based exercises (sometimes those are combined) in month 2. For someone who has weak wrists (this girl right here) it was extremely difficult and I had to modify.

Total, I lost 9 lbs, 9.5 inches overall including 2 inches off my waist! Those are some pretty good results, all things considered. I'm not going to be recruited for an Insanity infomercial anytime soon, but I am pleased with where I am. 

In reality, Insanity was way out of my league. I am now compeltely comfortable admiting that. Despite my best efforts, I could never really do push up jacks followed by ab push ups followed by in and out abs. When I started I couldn't even do a push up off my knees! I may not be able to do the crazy combination above for a minute strait but I can do a push up now (on my toes!) My core is so much stronger. My cardio endurance is so much better. I started running again. Despite not having run so much as a mile since before my daughter was born, I was able to go out there and actually run a mile.  Better than I ever had before, even when I was making an attempt at running daily. (I really am a terrible runner, despite my best efforts.)

Had I been in better shape when I started, I think my results would have been better. But I am still so happy with what Insanity has given me. It gave me a schedule. I am now in the habit of working out 6 days a week without pause. It's just what I do. Completing Insanity was something I needed more for my mental state than my physical. Finishing has given me such a feeling of accomplishment. That I can do anything. That I will get there, even if I'm not there yet.

Last Insanity Workout Done! Yay!
I am excited to try Insanity again, although not anytime soon. My boyfriend, Shawn T, and I just need a break. I mean it was good while it lasted. Great, some days. But I just need some time. I learned a lot in the time we spent together and emerged a much stronger person, maybe even a better person. I learned to push my limits and what I am really capable of. But I am ready to move on and find someone I am a little more compatible with every day.

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