Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 6 & 7 – All good. Now for next week. Eek.

Three words to describe the days: Controlled cheating (ha!), OK

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Cheated a bit, but got back on the horse)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Ok, managed to make up the one I missed)

Notable comments? The plan worked – I’ve lost 2kg. I am a bit worried about next week, so determined to take what I’ve learned and, for want of a better term, not screw it up…

This is what I was dealing with on Saturday….! Don’t think that’s on the plan…

Overall, the weekend was fine. I didn’t splurge as much as I could have done (I sometimes see Saturdays as my EAT ALL THE THINGS days e.g. white bread, cereal, orange juice, butter, jam, etc etc). Despite going out twice, I still managed to maintain the weightloss that I’d seen by Friday. In fact, I lost a bit more by Monday morning – 2 kilos (4.4lbs) in total.

Despite there being a few chances to  cheat, I felt OK because I was keeping up the exercise levels, and I know that if any weight loss plan is going to work, I have to give myself a break when it’s unavoidable, such as going out for birthdays, and events with work.

This weekend was my mum’s birthday, and we went out to eat for dinner and once for lunch. Each time, I didn’t go too mental, but I definitely let myself enjoy the food without going overboard, or feeling too guilty.

Even though I had duck-fat three-times-cooked chips, steak, and a chocolate brownie-based dessert for dinner (OMG), it was OK, because I ate it slowly and really savoured it. After a week of feeling pretty hungry, it felt really special to eat those things, rather than just piling on more guilt. I didn’t eat everything on  the plate, either, which is quite a feat for me, when it comes to chips…

I also cheated a bit at breakfast, because I had a driving lesson in the morning, and I really didn’t want to feel headache-y and light-headed for that. I did my workout as usual, but added in two very thin slices of toast to my smoked salmon and eggs, and felt immediately better for it. Magical things, sometimes, carbs!

I didn’t manage an evening workout, but that was OK because I did one on Sunday morning instead, even though Jillian calls Sundays “rest days”.

It’s a sign of how much my mentality towards just “getting it done” has changed, in that I generally don’t do rest days if I can help it, unless I’m ill or genuinely busy, or totally exhausted.

My default position now is “I might as well”, which helps get it done. These workouts are so short anyway (20-30 minutes without warmup) that I tend to think it takes more time and mental energy to think about whether to do it, than to just do it.

Sunday was fine, I did cheat a bit with lunch and had some bread with my soup, but no big deal. We went out to a show in the evening, and there were crisps and spiced nuts and all kinds of deliciousness, but I snaffled a couple of peanuts and stuck to a gin and slimline tonic.

Bit miserable, but if there’s one thing this plan has taught me, it’s cutting out needless snacking and grazing, which I can be quite prone to.

Overall, I felt better over the weekend (the added sleep always helps!) and come Monday morning, I had still maintained my 2kg (4.4lb) weightloss. Woohoo!

In the meantime, I’ve planned my next week’s worth of food. I’m still trying to stick to the 1,200 total, but adding a few more foods back in (fruit, wholegrain bread/wrap at lunch some days).

It’s a bit scary as I’m out eating and drinking with work or friends three times this week, but I’m sticking to the morning workouts and will add in evening ones when I’m at home too, even though Jillian recommends only one workout a day for the rest of the plan.

I’m determined to make this work with my life, and if that means working a bit harder on the days when I’m not out, then so be it. Hopefully, if I’m lucky, this time next week I’ll be seeing another positive result…!

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Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 5 – So nearly there…

Friday 19, day 5 of 7

Three words to describe today: Almost there, headache,

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Actually felt full for the first time! Cheated a bit again…)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Fine. Super bored of cardio, though.)

Notable comments? CURSE YOU, headache. I’m drinking loads of water, why are you still here?! Surely I can’t be *that* addicted to sugar or wheat, right!? Argh.

Home straight, people! Home straight!

Just two days left (well, basically). Nearly done now. I AM going out at the weekend though, which is a bit of a road bump, but I’m planning on not going too crazy, and being 100% on-plan the rest of the time. Also, if this is to be sustainable in some way, then I have to let myself go out, and not worry about it. Especially on special occasions such as birthdays.

Also, a revelation: eating protein (chicken or ham) plus a bowl of homemade vegetable soup is the WAY FORWARD when it comes to feeling full on not many calories. And you don’t even need any bread! I know! (Although a chunk of country bread with a thick wodge of butter would definitely improve things, taste-wise, anyway. SIGH!)

I’m sure I’ve heard this tell before but discovering it for myself is a nice plus to this long, long, hungry week.

I do still have a near-constant headache or slight feeling of light-headedness though, which I guess is a sign that I really should either be drinking even MORE water (I’m already on over 2 litres a day, and really, how much time can one person really spend going to the bathroom?!) or actually eating a bit more, earlier in the day.

Turns out that *this* with a few raisins is not enough for breakfast, especially after a workout…:(

The teeny-tiny breakfasts on this plan (1 yoghurt and some nuts/raisins) don’t work for me. I’d prefer to eat a more filling breakfast, and then a smaller lunch, and a no-carb dinner.

Jillian does offer “target” calories for each meal though, particularly in the next, slightly easier stage of the plan, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep seeing results if I work with the same calories, more or less, just slightly different foods – e.g. a green smoothie for breakfast instead of a yoghurt, and then maybe the yogurt for the afternoon snack, instead? Anyhoo…

Headache aside, all seems well – my calves have even stopped hurting quite as much as before!

AND – this morning I stepped on the scales, and have already lost over a kilo (3 lbs).

Whoop whoop! Maybe it’s water weight, but either way, I’d call that a little bit of a result. Now all I need to do is *not* put it all back on next week…

Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 4 – A note on diet “cheating”

Thursday 18, day 4 of 7

Three words to describe today: Perseverance, habit, positivity

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✧✧ (I cheated. But hear me out. It’s not like I ate a cheeseburger or a box of Krispy Kremes or anything.)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Fine. Getting a bit bored with the same cardio now. But otherwise all good.)

Notable comments? Drinking water helps massively with headaches. Oh, and you have to make a plan like this work for you.

So today I cheated on the plan, more than I have all week. No major transgressions, but instead of a healthy low-fat yoghurt for a snack, I ate a small tub of what is basically a heart coronary in a pot (but a VERY delicious one) – Biscoff spread.

Allow me to introduce you if you are not already familiar. Biscoff is a brand of those “coffee biscuits”, often known in France as “speculoos”. As well as very moreish biscuits, these genuises have also made a spread version, which is creamy, sugary, unctuous, and fabulous for cheesecake bases, I’m told.

Personally, I reckon a teaspoon of it is enough for anyone, even if you have a raging sweet tooth. Because I work for a restaurant, hotel and foodservice magazine, we were sent some as a “taster” of the product. In industrial-sized quantities. AND OH MY GOD.

I had some a couple of weeks’ ago, when we were first sent it, and wow. It came very close to knocking Nutella off its pedestal as my go-to better-than-sex food (no, srsly). The Daily Mail even called it “crack in a jar”. So when we got sent some little individual tubs of it I couldn’t help but have a taste. I know, BAD DIETER.

But you know what? After nearly a week of not having super-sweet things, I was underwhelmed. I mean, it still tasted good, but there was a chemical hint I hadn’t noticed before, and it wasn’t as amazing as I’d hoped.

AND THEN – nearly-instant headache. Sugar rush headache. Didn’t really believe that these existed – omg they do. How depressing. And I was like, oh, maybe I’m turning into one of those really sanctimonious arseholes who is all: “Oh, I don’t eat sugar, it makes me feel ill”, and wasn’t sure whether to feel smug or totally ashamed.

Well, not to worry, I cheated later in the evening too, with, wait for it: TWO small squares of dark Green & Black’s. I also had 2 sips of whisky, to toast the Scottish referendum vote. AND I WAS TOTALLY FINE. So that clears up that little conundrum, friends!

My favourite whisky 🙂

BUT MY POINT (I do have one) is that I included these little cheats into my calorie allowance for the day, and wasn’t really much off the average 1,200 total (we’re talking 50 extra calories here).

Now, I know that taking in extra calories of sugar, or fat, isn’t exactly great, but I’m thinking that with two workouts a day, 50 calories is sort of neither here nor there. As long as I don’t then sneak in another 50, etc.

And I realised that even though technically I didn’t 100% stick to the plan, letting myself have those little bits, a) demonstrated that I don’t NEED a rush of sugar to feel OK and that actually, it might make me feel a lot worse (no shit Sherlock), and b) a restricted plan like this is FAR more sustainable if you let yourself wobble every now and again, and get right back on it afterwards. I sort of knew that already, but it’s nice to have it reaffirmed, and actually do it.

And workout-wise? All good. Still mildly horrific getting out of bed ½ an hour earlier than I’d like, but it’s already starting to become a bit of a habit (HUH?). And we all know what I think about those.

Onwards…

Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 3 – On willpower, motivation, and habit

Wednesday 17, day 3 of 7

Three words to describe today: Motivation, Pret, ouch

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Discovered Pret Italian chicken salad = OK for this. So great to find convenient, healthy options when you’re out/have no time to make food.)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✦✧✧ (Cardio is getting better but still killing my hamstrings. Lots of stretching required!)

Notable comments? Mid-week. Hang in there.

When I first started Jillian’s workouts, in January, I found out a lot about habits. As someone who is interested in psychology, I’ve read quite a bit about how to make habits, and why we tend to fall back into auto-pilot when things get tough.

Basically, long-story short: habits almost become part of our subconscious, and our bodies do them automatically, to save brain space for more complicated stuff.

This is why, when you walk or drive the same route home everyday, it’s not a struggle, and you don’t remember each bit of it in the way you would if you were finding somewhere new. Same for brushing your teeth, for example.

As soon as something becomes automatic or something you’re used to doing, it’s a habit, brain-wise. Reaching for that glass of wine come 8pm; eating pizza on a Friday; putting your workout clothes on when you get through the door and doing a Jillian Michaels DVD. That sort of thing.

Studies show that difficult/less fun habits, such as daily exercise, generally take longer to make than easy ones, such as eating a bar of chocolate every day at 3pm.

Various books suggest that you can change a habit in 20 to 30 days. Well, for me, back in January/February, it took 31 days – and a big dose of determination and doggedness.

30 Day Shred workout DVD

30 Day Shred workout DVD

I did the 30 Day Shred in 31 days. (It was first recommended to me by a few nice people on Twitter, including @pinkjellybaby and @Blonde_M – not sure if they’re still doing it, but they said it was a good idea!)

Anyway, I took the 30 days literally. I was fed up of feeling crap about myself, so I went for it. I took one night off one evening when I was feeling pretty ill. Every day save one, come hell or high water, I did that damn workout. I knew if I let myself take a break for no real reason, I’d just drop back into my old habits. So I didn’t.

I consciously tried to make new habits, without being too harsh on myself.

I gave myself a good thing to look forward to when I got home (a cool glass of water and maybe a couple of crackers), went upstairs to change into exercise clothes (meh), and did the workout (tough but satisfying). I did it whether I came home from work early, or whether I went out for dinner or drinks and didn’t get home until nearly midnight (yeah, nearly threw up those times. Nice).

I told myself that even if I didn’t want to, or couldn’t be bothered to do it properly, I’d still do it. It’s what Jillian (and the blogger Nicole Antoinette) rather American-ly call “showing up”. Such a powerful phrase.

I’m not saying what I’ve done is particularly amazing. None of this is particularly amazing. I’m not *that* smug, I promise.

I don’t have kids or anything like that to worry about. I don’t have big health problems or work night shifts. I don’t have to budget for every penny I have, or spend 2 hours’ one way travelling to work every day. I’m very lucky that the only thing stopping me is lack of willpower.

Equally, I know that some people – normal people, with jobs and responsibilities – run marathons and ultra-marathons, and climb rock faces and mountains, often in the face of incredible odds. Other people stick to incredibly restrictive diets ALL THE TIME, for health reasons etc. Hats off to those people. They’re the amazing ones.

But for me, those 31 days were significant. The first time I’d actually stuck to something physical like that, day-in-day out, for a month. Yes, I’ve done some hard stuff before (Cambridge finals are pretty demanding, as are job interviews after months of unemployment) but this was different.

This proved that me, serial sports and PE dodger, could actually work out properly and regularly, and not skive or make excuses. The inches I lost off my waist certainly helped motivate me too. As did Jillian’s no-nonsense kick-your-arse then tell-you-you’re-amazing attitude.

Discovering all these motivational slogans didn’t hurt either.

But I realised that willpower alone isn’t enough. Using the Shred, I consciously stopped it being about “wanting to do it”, and made it about “being a habit to do it”. If you wait until you WANT to, you hardly ever will.

And sometimes, that’s the only thing that works, when I think “DON’T WANNA WORK OUT TODAY”. “Don’t wanna eat the salad, want the chocolate”. “Don’t wanna get up, CAN’T MAKE ME.”

Sometimes, it’s the reminder that, that one time, I actually did it. Paradoxically, sometimes the only thing that keeps me going with difficult stuff is the idea that one time before, I kept on going. And then kept it up for another seven months, to today. Every day, I try to make sure that carries on. In other words: habit.

As this particularly useful quote says: If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.


Like I said yesterday: It’s about just keeping on keeping on.

(ps. Getting a bit more used to the food plan today. Have been sticking to 1,200 calories or fewer, and although I’m still a bit brain-foggy, it’s been OK. Drinking more water has helped, so that’s a plus. I did have to quite physically RUN AWAY from biscuits in the office though, to stop myself eating them all. Gah.

I also managed to watch the PASTRY week of the Great British Bake Off without going out to buy a chocolate eclair. Might have a cheeky one at the end of these 7 days though. Just one won’t undo a week’s worth of work, right?!!!)

Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 2 – OUCH (and a confession)

Tuesday 16, day 2 of 7

Three words to describe today: Painful, persevering, determined

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✧✧ (One yoghurt is not enough after a workout, Jillian!)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✧✧✧ (Always tough using already-sore muscles. Oh and my headache – see below…)

Notable comments? OUCH. DOUBLE OUCH.

Mainly today, I’m just achy. I still feel a bit fuzzy-headed right now, but I’m putting that down to not having had coffee yet today (it’s lunchtime, just haven’t got round to it!), and probably not drinking enough water.

But wow, not sure if it’s the cardio from last night or the after-effects of yesterday’s shoulder and back workout, or today’s thigh and back-work stuff, but I’m stiff as hell and can’t stretch my arms out straight either side without it really hurting my back. it hasn’t been this bad since I went from hardly any exercise to starting the first level of the 30 Day Shred eight months’ ago. Argh.

To be honest, as a Jillian regular, I’m surprised to be feeling sore. Even though her other workouts still kill me while I’m doing them, I’ve generally reached the point when it’s OK the next day. It just shows that this plan’s routines must be working muscles I don’t usually use, or haven’t for a while. Which is great, but man does it hurt!

(ps. the only coconut water you want, seriously, it’s so yummy.)

The food today has been OK, but I confess, I cheated and added some sugar-free coconut water to my breakfast, because I knew I couldn’t cope after a workout with just a small pot of yoghurt. That’s been my only cheat so far though, which I’m bloody proud of (nerd).

It also helps that the food has been *just* enough to stop me from eating my own arm, and the lunch and dinners seem pretty tasty so far, considering. But being properly on the edge of hunger like this all the time isn’t sustainable, not for me anyway (and certainly not every day). It’s too distracting.

But I can really feel the steely determination is beginning to kick in. I’m having to mentally remind myself that having the programme at such a difficult level (by which I really mean the no fruit and two workouts a day thing – argh) is only for a week. It’s started to become an objective challenge I have to complete, rather than simply a personal “lifestyle change”.

The “lifestyle” bit comes next week – and the 3 months after that – which will be bloody difficult, because unlike this week when I don’t have much in the way of evening going out planned (except a dinner on Saturday), next week I have something on nearly every night, a lot of it including food and drink.

I’m in no way complaining about the fact that I have nice places to go and lovely people to see, but wow, it just really hammers home how difficult it is to stick to a proper diet if you actually have a life…

Update, next morning: I have a confession to make. I didn’t eat dinner last night OR do the evening workout (cardio) OR prepare today’s food as planned. I was completely geared up to carry on as usual, but on the train home I was hit by one of my ‘migraines’ and couldn’t do a thing when I got home, except drink water and lie down in a dark room.

I put inverted commas around the word migraines, as the headaches have never been officially diagnosed or anything. Also I only get them maybe 4-5 times a year, maximum. They tend to hit when I’m overtired and have been squinting at a screen too long.

But when they do arrive, they’re pretty bad. It affects my vision – I can’t look straight at things, or focus on something right in front of me. I can’t use a screen or look at bright lights without discomfort. It sometimes stays on one side or moves around, and sometimes resembles a sinus or tension headache, going from the back of the neck to the nose and eye socket. Not good.

Now, I hesitate to blame the diet/workouts. I get these headaches no matter what diet or exercise regime I’m doing – and even if I’m not doing any.

coffee-heart

I am loath to accept that there is such a thing as too much coffee, but maybe two cups in two hours on a not-full stomach is my official limit…

But maybe the underlying stress – even the positive “lets do this” adrenaline, coupled with far less food than usual, and the twice-daily workout, might not have helped. I actually think the main trigger was too much coffee, too late in the day. So that’s a lesson.

But I was so disappointed not to be able to follow the plan. So annoyed with myself. It hasn’t even been that long – how can I be struggling this soon in; how pathetic am I? But I couldn’t fight it. With my headache as it was, I had to just ride it out. A rare case of my desperately wanting to do a workout, and not being able to. Imagine!

In any case, I figure since I didn’t eat dinner (except a little apple, whoops, sorry Jillian, breaking the no fruit rule) missing the workout won’t make too much difference. Instead I went to bed early (rock and roll!).

This morning (Weds) back as usual, with today’s am workout. All good. I’ve made a few tweaks to the meal plan so I can follow it without having done any cooking – eg. Yoghurt instead of eggs.

Encouraging words…

On balance, despite the horrible headache, it has helped. It’s been a reminder that even if you get sidetracked, you can just draw a line under, and carry on. It’s a general tenet of “dieting” – and, well, anything, really – that even if you mess up once, you can choose to *not* say, ‘to hell with it, I’ve ruined it now, I may as well mess up more’, thereby fecking up the whole thing.

Instead, you can choose perseverance, and not beating yourself up. Or as Jillian would say, right when you’re at the point of giving up on a workout move: “Finish it, people!”. Another Jillian catchphrase (gotta love em) is that if you ”know your ‘why’, you can put up with any kind of ‘how’”. So there we go.

Just keeping on keeping on…

Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 1 – BRING IT ON

Monday 15, day 1 of 7

Three words to describe today: Encouraging, okay, headache!

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✧✧ (hungry)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✦✦✧ (not as bad as I was expecting)

Notable comments? I can’t live with this headache. I guess the solution is more water?!

No, not *that* kind of Bring It On…awesome movie though 😛

Actually quite enjoyed the morning workout today! (Yeah, I know, sorry. I sort of want to punch me too.)

It did feel slightly like the end of the world when my alarm went off and I knew I had to get up and get going, but it wasn’t as if I had woken up earlier than usual – I usually just snooze for longer…

I think the novelty factor played a big role in getting me up and working out – I’m sure the “wow, I’m actually up!?” feeling will wear off soon. I did enjoy the workout format though – good old Jillian Michaels arse-kicking, but quite a few funny/motivational bits of dialogue, and also not-too-difficult moves (yet?!).

Food-wise, not so great. It’s only just 1pm, and I’m starving, with a big headache, and slightly lightheaded. I thought the 2-egg omelette with ¼ avocado and tomato this morning would fill me up, but nope. It was very nice as a breakfast, but wow, I am hungry.

I think the difference is that I usually graze throughout the day, and take a long time over my meals. This is partly because I read that this helps keep blood sugar constant, but also to try and stop myself from eating rubbish out of boredom.

I would normally drink either a superfood green smoothie for breakfast over a couple of hours, or have a bowl of gluten-free muesli, and then some fruit to munch on throughout the morning. But with this plan, you have one meal, and then you’re done for a few loooong hours. Eek.

Not being able to turn to fruit as a defence against snacking on whatever chocolate/cake/doughnuts are is in the office (my usual strategy) is going to be really tough, I can tell. I usually eat lunch at about 1.30-2pm, but I am tempted to have it now (1pm)…despite the fact that the prospect of tuna salad with lettuce and broccoli isn’t exactly making me jump for joy. I’m also worried that I won’t last till dinner…

The only positive to this right now is that not being able to eat is making me drink more water (another part of the plan) just for something to do!

Think I might faint after tonight’s workout at this rate..!

Update: 11pm – Well I’m happy to say that the 4pm yoghurt helped enormously (thrilling news, I know). I also drank about 3 litres of water by the end of the day, and snuck in another black coffee, and felt much better. The dinner was my version of baked tilapia salad, with lemon, olive oil rosemary and capers. I substituted salmon for the tilapia (much easier to get in the UK), and did some steamed swiss chard rather than salad greens, because psychologically I know that if I eat lettuce and cucumber at every meal, I’ll go a bit mad. It tasted  pretty great after a long, slightly-tiring day.

Workout wise, the cardio was pretty tough, but *just* on the side of fun and motivating (my calves aren’t happy with all the jumping, though), and although it worked different muscles to what I’m used to, it didn’t leave me *as* dead/falling over as some of Jillian’s harder stuff. Which is just as well, probably, because I’m eating quite a lot less than usual, and didn’t really fancy fainting on my first diet day….

And now the alarm is set for tomorrow’s morning workout! BRING IT ON.