Recovery Week is all about doing the exercises at a slightly slower pace. “Core Cardio and Balance” allows you to focus on your abs on routines that are more about strength than cardio. You still get a good sweat and your heart rate gets going, but as Shaun T points out, you’re not supposed to be burnt out by the end of the workout.

With my in-laws visiting, my Recovery Week actually lasted ten days because I took more breaks than usual. I did 2 consecutive days of workouts, followed by workouts every other day. I also snuck in one day of Cardio Power and Resistance in the middle of my recovery week because I felt like I had to get some excess energy out of my system!

There is not much variation from one day to the next for me, but it was a wonderful change from the challenge of the past four weeks…with the slowed-down pace, I almost felt like I could match my pace with everyone on the DVD. There are still some challenging exercises depending on your level of strength and flexibility (like the one below was for me):

Your leg stays up and you bend at the knee…less cardio but just as tough! Image source: http://www.fitbomb.com.

My favorite move was the last one, because for me it was the “easiest” to do. With Hip Flexor Burners you are in a low pliet, arms extended straight out, and you move your arms up and down slowly (like slo mo flapping,) but keep your shoulders still. You then move your arms forward so they’re straight out in front of you, then straight out to the side, maintaining a low pliet. There are more arm movements, and this really work your shoulders AND your quads, but Leah Sarago’s Ballet Body workouts as well as Jazzercise’s Ballet Body helped with these moves:

For two minutes you maintain this pliet position while doing various straight arm movements. Great for the shoulders, quads, abs, and lower back. Image source: http://www.buildahardbody.com.

Anticipating Month 2 of Insanity…pretty nervous & excited! And the next Fit Test is coming up, wish me luck! :)

Day 7: Cardio Power & Resistance

This is my second time doing Cardio Power & Resistance, and it’s still pretty tough. My quads don’t feel any stronger and I still am not a fan of the Globe Jumps, which is like a ‘leap frog’ with a wider stance, but you start from a squat position then jump up with arms outstretched over head and move right, back, left, front, and right again:

I tried to do better with push-ups, knowing I was letting my fear of injury getting in the way of concentrating on proper technique. As long as I concentrated on good form and keep my midsection tight, I was able to do push just a little bit further, and dig a little deeper!

image source: http://www.fiber.com

My diet has been pretty good, too! Lunches are usually a fruit bowl with a couple of veggies thrown in and yogurt with some protein powder mixed in for flavor and nutrition boost. Compared to salads I used to eat with avocado, goat cheese, and olive oil dressing, these fruit salad bowls are are HALF the calories and have nearly zero fat!

I still crave comfort food, sometimes it’s corn chips and yesterday it was thin n’ crispy chocolate chip cookies! After dinner I whipped up a batch and enjoyed them immensely! I had 5, my husband only ate 3 (packed the rest for his work-snacks.) It’s my favorite chocolate chip cookie made with spelt flour, ground almonds, coconut oil and chocolate chips (and the other basic cookie ingredients.) If you like thin n’ crispy cookies, you will LOVE these!

10 minutes of easy jogging to burn off the calories of one cookie.

Day 8: Pure Cardio

I was feeling good this morning and was looking forward to a 6 a.m. workout. I woke up around 2:30 a.m. (probably because I had a glass of wine with dinner…you can never get a good night’s sleep with alcohol) and was already thinking about how the workout will be, if I’ll be too noisy and wake my husband, and if I should make some healthy snacks. Eventually I fell back asleep.

I didn’t notice the first time around that Pure Cardio has no rest periods between the sets, only after the warm-up, stretch, and before the cool-down. I didn’t keep track of how often I had to take a break but it doesn’ t matter. If you’re out of breath and your legs seem to collapse with every squat-jump, your body needs a few seconds to rest! I made an  effort to do regular push-ups, and even though I was much slower in doing them, I still did ’em! :)

Day 9: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

have fun!

Lots of people enjoy doing circuit training, and I am thinking I like it, too. The intense, fast-paced workouts doesn’t give you much time to worry about being tired or saving your energy for later. But, I ended up making time for those things, anyway. :)

Today (Saturday) I did a late workout at 3 p.m. I woke up at 7 but felt lethargic, so I ended up cleaning up the living room and waiting until I felt more awake and alert to do the workout. Unfortunately I slipped back into a sluggish feeling, and when I did my workout I didn’t feel like I was doing my best (plus I was working out in the bedroom, where the ceilings are about 6 1/2 feet low so couldn’t jump as high or even stretch my arms without flexing my palms to avoid scraping the ceiling!) I pushed harder by doing REGULAR push-ups with only ONE girly push-up set to give myself a rest, sprinted faster, and forced myself to keep going to the point where I felt like crying out of frustration. I was sweating up a big, salty storm with the air conditioner blasting, the floor creaking (it’s an old house) and Shaun T on my laptop shouting in a tiny, faraway voice to dig deeper. I was tired, and though I was glad I did my workout, I still didn’t feel as “accomplished.” Ah well…there’s always tomorrow.

Day 10: Cardio Recovery

Cardio Recovery is a 35-minute stretch AND muscle-building segment, so in addition to a nice, much-needed stretch you get to work on a lot of lower-body strength by doing slower-paced squats, lunges, and leg-lifts starting from plank position. The first time around I didn’t think it was that challenging, so I must have been slacking! This time around I was sweating like crazy during the sqats! You also do yoga stretch poses, one of which I found difficult to hold on the right side (my left leg is more flexible) and so I had a hard time breathing:

The fit test in in three days, time to really watch what I eat so I can do my best!

Day 11: Cardio Power & Resistance

Had a cup of coffee and a bite of light carrot cake 1/2 hour before my 8am workout (just a little something to have in my stomach.) I did pretty good with the warm-ups today, even though I got less than 6 hours of sleep. I tried doing better with the high knees by using the abs as much as possible to bring my knees up. It’s hard to do when you’re huffing and puffing, but after ten days of Insanity I am getting better at it! Since Day 7, I’ve been making an effort to do regular push-ups, even if I could do only half of what Shaun T and the gang were doing. It put a slight strain on my back (which was aching since Friday, but nothing serious) so by tightening the abs, a lot of the pressure is taken off your lower back. I did NO girly push-ups today (woo hoo!) and did 4-6 to every 8 of their push-ups. My deltoids are sore, a good indication that I went a little further!

I made my own recovery drink with a vanilla soy protein powder, water, almond milk, 1/3 of a frozen banana, and a tablespoon of dehydrated peanut butter (like PB2, but a different brand.) I’m not doing a terrific job of watching my calorie intake, though. Breakfast/lunch/snacks are fine, it during dinnertime that I eat the most, as well as after dinner. I haven’t lost any weight, and this is probably the reason why.

Day 12: Pure Cardio/Cardio Abs

I looked at the calendar, saw there was the addition of “Cardio Abs” and thought, “Oh crap!” I was low on energy this morning and just wanted to have my coffee and peanut butter jelly toast and go back to bed (it was 50 degrees and misty.) I actually did just that, but took my laptop with me and worked for a couple hours under the covers. By noon it was a gorgeous day and I was ready to do my workout.

Pure Cardio – I was careful not to drink too much water during the workout since Insanity makes me feel like throwing it right back up. I am getting better at keeping up with the warm-ups, and that alone makes me happy! I tried to go faster with butt kicks and high knees, and mummy kicks–though still challenging–weren’t as much of a struggle to do like on Sunday. Also, because I’ve been doing more push-ups, certain moves where you raise your arms overhead like “Mountain Climbers” and “Power Jacks” have been getting more manageable.

Cardio Abs – This is about a 15-minute segment that has standing and floor workouts. There’s a couple of routines that have alternating kicks and power jumps, then you got floor routines where you sit with your knees up and back in a c-curve, and some ab work starting in a plank position. They’re all very challenging, and my back was a bit achy at the end.

I hated that I had a hard time with the power jumps.  Jumping from a standing position is super hard (this is probably a result of me not doing so great with those other exercises I don’t like: Globe Jumps and Frog Jumps.) The floor ab workouts involved no sit-ups, no crunches, but something far, far more tortuous. You sit with one knee bent, the other leg straight out in front, and your back is in a c-curve. Hands are on the floor to the side of your thighs. You start by bending the straight leg in so your knee comes toward your chest. You straighten your leg back out, then, as your leg is kept straight, you lift it straight up! Sounds scary? The next move is even scarier: both legs are straight out with your back in a c-curve and hands are on the floor to the sides of your thighs. You bend both knees to your chest, then, after you straighten them out, you lift both of them straight up! 

This girl, Tanya, is an incredible powerhouse! image source: ovguide.com

For lunch I ate a bean burger mix and scrambled an egg into it. I had half of a protein shake, was hungry an hour later and ate some corn chips and yogurt with fruit. At 4:30 I just got incredibly, super tired, couldn’t concentrate on my work so took a rough nap for about 45 minutes on the couch. Woke up, ate some chocolate candy, ate some of my husband’s dinner and toast w/melted cheese. Not the best, but I was just in a super tired and lazy mood. I don’t think I’m over exerting myself, I think the problem is that I’m not getting enough sleep. Better catch up on some z’s tonight, tomorrow is my second FIT TEST…wish me luck!!!

Lately I’ve been posting about home renovations and gardening stuff in addition to foodery, and I wanted to add a new element to this mix, which is exercise.

I enjoy trying out different kinds of fitness programs, as long as they’re fun and motivating. A former boss got me interested in running, and within a month I went from 30 seconds of struggling to jog to 20 minutes of nonstop running! When I used to go to a gym, I lifted weights, took spin classes and tried pilates. In college I took a year’s worth of swimming and intro ballet classes (both were lots of fun and very challenging) and continued swimming 2K laps at Ala Moana Beach 3 times a week. Though I never excelled at any of these things (I came in the last 5 of the “Turkey Swim” race!) it was a lot of fun and I always took it as a personal challenge, and that kept me going.

There were times in between where I stopped exercising, but eventually got to the point where I felt like I needed to get moving again. Now that I live far away from gyms and beaches, I do my workouts at home.

Such a small box filled with so much potential!

Prior to doing Insanity I did Jazzercise and Leah Sarago’s Ballet Body 3x a week and loved it (don’t listen to people who say Jazzercise is for ‘old ladies’, I’m sure they would have a different opinion if they tried at least one class!) As much as I enjoyed those workouts, I wanted a different challenge. I wanted more upper body strength and less lower-body bulk. I thought Insanity would be a great way to surprise my muscles with a new challenge…and let me tell you, they were in shock!

Day 1: Fit Test- WOW!

Just so you know, the Fit Test isn’t about comparing yourself to the people on the DVD or to gauge where you stand on a 1-10 scale. This will help chart your progress by comparing your results every 15 days during the Month 1 and Month 2 workouts. It all begins with a 3-minute warm up and I was scared at how fast paced it was! Jogging, jumping jacks, and some other new moves that really got your blood pumping and your heart rate going! After a series of stretching, you go into the Fit Test moves:

As you can see by my scrawling, I kinda lose count.

You have 1 minute to do as many reps as you can. Since I’ve had exercise injuries in the past, I was just as concerned with reps as I was with form so made sure I wasn’t sloppy, but did try my best to do as many as I could. It’s best not to cheat with this since the idea is to do better in 15 days. ;)

I also took a photo of myself in a bathing suit and, knowing that I’m my own worse critic, I was pretty disgusted. I’ve put on a few pounds and can’t fit into some of my clothes without sucking parts of me back in. I decided it was time to get rid of the extra weight and get back into shape–pronto!!!

Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit – OW!

PLYOMETRICS – exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power. (Merriam-Webster)

This morning felt like I spent yesterday riding a horse–and all I did was the fit test!  Just like yesterday’s workout, there is a 3-minute warm up, fast paced, then a 30 second break to get some water, catch your breath, and get ready for the exercises. You do about 4 different kinds of exercises in one round, each takes 1 minute, then you get a 30 second break. The next round you try to go faster, then even faster in the last round. Football drills, basketball drills, and plank exercises are in this one, and I love how you just gotta push through and do your best.

I was having fun with some of the moves by making the arm movements a little more graceful and making up my own visualizations (making ballet arms during jumping jacks, “picking guavas” instead of “mountain climbing”) so that took away some of the insanity. If I had a coach, he/she would be rolling their muscley eyes at me. ;)

Can you picture Shaun T yelling, “Come on, we gotta make that guava jelly, I need fifty more guavas–PICK!” (source: http://www.buildahardbody.com)

Day 3: Cardio Power & Resistance – puff, puff!

My adductors were still sore from yesterday’s workout, as well as the sides of my calves. The stretching focuses on back, quads, hamstrings and adductors, but you’ll probably need to stretch the calves and arms on your own, especially after Day 3’s workout.

You’ll do sprinting, jumping, and also some push-up routines that works your upper body and triceps, and my arms were pretty fatti-gued afterward. There were also my least favorite, the globe jumps, where you start from a squat and jump with arms over head. I didn’t have much power in the quads and glutes, so I rested when I felt I needed it, and practiced good form rather than try to keep up with the rest of the group. I did girly push-ups when Shaun T did regular ones and I know I couldn’t jump as high as everyone else, but it’s the first round, and as I get familiar with the moves and technique, I’ll better be able to build strength and draw more power with each move. :)

I did eat some chips and a fruit salad w/plain yogurt 45 minutes before, and took sips of water during the exercises. I felt just a wee bit nauseous at times, as well as afterward, so just had a few sips of water, chewed peppermint gum (relieves my queasy stomach,) then had a protein shake about an hour later. Figured my body was still digesting the fruit & yogurt from before, and I wasn’t that hungry.

Day 4: Cardio Recovery – Stretching, not Sweating

I took a break yesterday because I was busy doing some home renovations all day. But after seeing this video, I should have just done it and go back to work! It’s mostly stretching with some strengthening exercises, but it’s not likely that you’ll end up in a puddle of sweat like the others. After finishing it, I was wondering if it was the right DVD or if I’m supposed to do something in addition to it. Nope, just stretching! My calves were achy yesterday, today I have no muscle aches (because of the skipped day.) Although the Insanity calendar lists 6 days of exercise routines, this Cardio Recovery video now makes it seem more like 5. I don’t think I need a recovery shake after this, eating light might be a better idea.

Day 5: Pure Cardio – Pure Insanity!

I did my workout around 8:15am, so only coffee in my stomach (I get nauseous if I work out with too much in my stomach, even if it’s just water.) The warm-ups were fast-paced and already I regretted having two “down days” in between Day 3’s “Cardio Power & Resistance” and today’s cardio workout. I’d say today’s workout was just as intense as Day 3, but with different exercises. There were some people in the video that looked like they were going to faint or throw up, but Shaun T would go up to them and tell them to take a break. Yes, this workout will push you to do better, but you really gotta pay attention to your own limits and don’t compromise good form for more reps, especially on the first go-around.

I don’t know what it was, but I was smiling at the end of this workout. Maybe it’s seeing those people on the big screen getting tired like me, or maybe I just felt great because I worked out today. Or maybe that stretch at the end felt soooo good! Whatever the reason, all I know is that I felt great. :)

Day 6: Plyometric Cardio Circuit – Good Shoes are a MUST!

One thing that is important to have for this workout as well as any other is a good pair of shoes. Less than 2 minutes into my workout today I noticed the toes on my left foot were feeling numb. It was difficult to maintain my pace, so as soon as the warm-up was over I paused the DVD, took off my shoe and massaged my toes until they were back to normal. A couple days ago the outside of my right foot, right along the pinky-toe side, felt like it was bruised. I’ve been having trouble with my toes going numb in my workout shoes every now and then and usually adjust the laces to accommodate, which helps. But my workout shoes have gone past its prime and have been through some tough workouts, and I think it’s time to give it a break very soon.

Now that I talked about shoes, let’s talk about the workout. It was tough and challenging, I slipped in my sweat a couple of times (be careful, folks!) and I drank too much water so had to take a break and ease my side stitches and to keep from barfing! I felt like I could do better with my form and focus on the muscle groups I was supposed to (such as using your abs to lift your legs.) I was so glad for the end, which seemed to come pretty quickly. I made a protein shake with half water/half almond milk, 2/3 of a banana and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I drank it down fast–must be hunger as well as thirst!  I felt like I could eat something but need to watch calories. Knowing lunch would be in a couple hours, I brewed a hot cup of coffee to satiate my stomach.