Tuesday, March 8, 2016
A review of our first "formal" program
As someone who has lost over 200 lbs and the Mr having lost over 150 lbs without surgery, we've done all kinds of exercise over the years. You guys know our workouts have always varied. We've done workouts as easy as Walk Away the Pounds and even Dance Dance Revolution to ones as hard as Power 90 and Turbo Fire. When the Mr was feeling bummed about holiday weight gain and lack of variety, I knew I had to do something to keep crazy fad ideas at bay as they tended to spring up in desperate times. After losing that initial weight, we got comfortable...well, complacent. We're able to do most things and go most places so the rush to get to a lower wait took a back seat to just enjoying life. But we're 50-75 lbs from our happy weight and if we were ever going to just finish the last third of our journey, we needed to do something different.
If you've followed us for the past year or so, you know that we love Fitness Blender.com. They are a fun husband and wife team made up of Daniel and Kelli with the occasional appearance by their adorable dog, Loki. You can read a little more about them here. Their workout videos are free... yes, FREE. You can do a search to find the workout you want to do from cardio to strength training to yoga and pilates. The lengths can vary from a quick 10 minute routine to a 90 minute 1000+ calorie burn fest so there's no excuse not to fit them into your day. The thing I love most about them is they're human. They lose count sometimes, mess up on occasion and laugh at themselves just like the rest of us. Their approach is very encouraging and laid back. No one is barking orders in your face telling you if you're not yakking or passing out that you're not giving enough effort.
One of the ways you can help support them to keep their videos free is to buy one of their structured plans. I bought the FB Fit 8 week fat loss program about a year ago and I'll be honest, I had every intention of doing it but we just never pulled the trigger. When I saw their round 2 of that program was coming out about the time the Mr was feeling bummed about the holiday pounds, I immediately bought it and put it on the calendar. It was $14.99 and is 8 weeks long. Every workout is pre-planned so you don't even have to think about it. Honestly, that was a big problem for us because we would go down, not have a plan in place and just pick what we felt like doing instead of what we probably should've been doing to challenge ourselves. So having someone tell me what to do for 2 months on the exercise front was going to be a refreshing change.
I won't lie, their workouts can be hard. Sometimes we had to modify, which they encourage as long as you're not doing it to cheat yourself. In the time it takes Kelli to do 10 burpees, I can probably eek out three or four because when you're basically twice the size of the petite girl instructing you, that's just how it goes. The first week, I lost 5 pounds and the Mr lost 3 pounds. We were both very happy with that and couldn't wait to see what the coming weeks brought. We were a special kind of sore the first few weeks, especially after leg days which felt like it took a week for me to recover from. The next week I lost a pound. I was kind of bummed but I know my body well and after a bigger loss, I'm always lucky if I see a pound loss or sometimes I'll stay the same or even gain a pound. I took what I was given. After 3 weeks, I could tell recovery from the strength training was getting less debilitating but I saw a 2 pound gain on the scale. I remember that weigh in well. I was excited to weigh in because I could see changes in my body and the Mr in his. I wasn't going to let the weigh in get me down because I could see physical changes. It was at that time, for some reason, it clicked that, duh...we should be measuring. I made a measurement chart and we did our usual measurements we'd done over the years from neck to ankles and everything in between. I didn't want the scale to be my only source of measurement. The next week, I lost the 2 pounds I gained and was good with that. The following week I was up a pound and a half again and I was ticked. I wasn't ticked just because the scale was bouncing but because I stopped seeing physical changes in both of us and I was sore all. the. time. I'm not talking "ooh, I just had a good workout" kind of sore, I'm talking "my body is broken with no time to recover" kind of sore and it was affecting my day to day functionality. The Mr's progress was basically the same and he was very discouraged because with our old routine, the holiday weight would've been off or close to it 7 weeks later and he was still 11 pounds up! The only time he lost any weight was when he had to do cardio workouts because he injured his shoulder skiing and couldn't do strength training as he rehabbed. The other thing that seriously made me want to throw in the towel was my first measurements after a month. Since the scale wasn't moving, I knew the measuring was my only hope for some positive results. Well I was down 1/2" in the gut and one thigh but every other measurement went up! I literally sat there with tears streaming down my face after writing in the fourth gain and they just kept mounting. Even if I made muscle gains, this means I wasn't losing fat and that was our goal. I knew our diet was on point because I am meticulous about planning it but we were going to need to dabble with calorie ranges but I knew my diet wasn't the reason for feeling broken.
As I tried to get to the source as to why I was so abnormally sore and stopped seeing physical changes, I reviewed the first month of the program we already did and saw that in addition to a few strengths per week, we were doing a lot more cardio. When it went into the second month, it switched to almost all strength training and very little cardio. Obviously super sets can count toward cardio and we were burning amounts of calories similar to cardio but our muscles were just not able to recover fully before being burned out again. We made the decision to stick it out until the end of the program but we were not going to proceed with the round one I bought the previous year like we planned. When the program was over, the Mr and I talked about how we felt about the two months we'd just put into it. The Mr said he was so encouraged in the beginning because it felt like we were training like athletes. At that point, we would've both been happy losing 10 pounds in that 2 month period as we didn't expect to lose what they claim most people lose. We're about keeping expectations real. At my final weigh in Saturday...with a one pound gain after being so broken that we were both hobbling even 3 days after we stopped the program, I could only just be glad it was over. What I wasn't glad for was having only lost 3.4 pounds for me and 6 pounds for the Mr in 2 months. I literally lose more when I'm not trying. But the disappointment of how little weight we lost on it and how broken we consistently felt the second month was deflating. We both agreed that we don't know if it is our age (early 40's) or weight (273 now and 284) or a combo of both but neither of us responded well to this program.
So would this be viewed as a failure of the program or the user?
This program is an amazing one and one we'll do again...when we have at least 50 more pounds off. We have 100 lbs to go before we're at what is considered our medical 'healthy weight' and a program like this just isn't what our bodies need right now to reach our personal goals. We both firmly believe we made great strength gains and the Mr has made some flexibility strides but the truth is, at our weights, we can't do something quite so strength heavy yet. We've tried it before on our own and saw the same results. I guess I wasn't paying attention enough to see the second month turned into a more strength based program. I'd say if you're one of those lucky ones that only has 10-40 lbs to lose before your goal weight, this plan could be just the thing to kick your results into gear.
For us? We're going to continue using Fitness Blender but in a way we tailor to our goals. We've got a vacation coming up in the summer and time is no longer on our side. So we'll continue to use their strength programs for our strength sessions and throw in a few of their HIIT's as well but we're also going to put in some of our old favorites on the cardio front like Turbo Fire, Tae Bo (yes, that 90's workout...it's how we lost our first 100 lbs), Powerstrike, Power 90 and even Walk Away the Pounds on the days we feel strength has given us a particular beating. I've pre-planned the next 2 months of workouts for us and the Mr is very enthusiastic about it as he thinks they're more in line with what we need at this point and this weight.
Would I recommend the Fitness Blender plans? In a heartbeat! They're way cheaper than the gym, you can do it at home or traveling and Daniel and Kelli aren't annoying even after 8 weeks! (Though I'll admit I was highly annoyed by the last week because I was just so constantly sore and it was "hormonal" week so there may have been some colorful words thrown around.) If there's one thing I could change/suggest, it would be to reduce their use of the word "brutal" to describe many of their workouts. When we first found them, we didn't even want to look at any of the ones listed as brutal. I know if it scared us away after years of doing different exercise regimes, it could do the same for others. "Challenging" would be my preference because who doesn't want to be challenged? I'm not going to split hairs, it's just an observation. ;-) I just know after it switched to mostly strength training, I was feeling every letter of the word brutal in mah joints, yo! They have 4 week programs if you want to focus on your booty or abs as well. They say most people report losing between 16-24 pounds on the 8 week programs. I'd love to say we were among them but we weren't and based on some comments on the program's page, we are in probably about a 25% range of people who had the same results as we did. So I'd say a 75% success rate is still pretty good, right?
We feel like the strength gains we've made in the past 2 months will be maintained with our new self arranged program since we'll be alternating between two strengths one week and three strengths the following then alternating back and forth. It will give us a break from seeing the same people every day and while we love D&K, it's just nice to have a little variety. We'll still be seeing them 3-4x week though...they can't shake us that easily! But as with going into any program, like the fine print on anything...results may vary. You could do the same program and have completely different (better) results than we did.
What did we learn? Listen to your body! Because this was our first program, we wanted to follow it to a tee and do the workouts exactly as they planned them for us otherwise we felt like we were cheating. But given I came away with an overuse injury on my right shoulder because I was stupid and didn't stop when my body was asking me to, I shouldn't have been ashamed to alter it to what we needed instead of trying to keep up.
Ultimately, we are proud of ourselves for sticking with it for the full 8 weeks. We're grateful for the gains made in strength, flexibility and the subtle reshaping of certain areas of our bodies. We will do this program again at a future date and hope that you all give Fitness Blender a try whether it's a paid, structured program or any of their free videos! They also have different videos about things like "fitspiration" to their grocery hauls that can be informative or inspirational. Recipes are also available. It really is a great resource that I'm thankful to have access to and look forward to doing this program again when it's appropriate for our personal goals.
If you want to give one of their free 5 day structured workout plans a try, this is one they released at the beginning of the year:
FITNESS BLENDER'S 5 DAY CHALLENGE - STRONG AND LEAN - DAY 1
FITNESS BLENDER'S 5 DAY CHALLENGE - STRONG AND LEAN - DAY 2
FITNESS BLENDER'S 5 DAY CHALLENGE - STRONG AND LEAN - DAY 3
FITNESS BLENDER'S 5 DAY CHALLENGE - STRONG AND LEAN - DAY 4
FITNESS BLENDER'S 5 DAY CHALLENGE - STRONG AND LEAN - DAY 5
As with this and all new fitness programs you may be considering, consult with your doctor before starting them.
Have you done Fitness Blender workouts? Which ones are your favorites?
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Labels: Product Review