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 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…

I’m starting a Jillian Michaels diet tomorrow and here’s 10 reasons why I’m really bloody scared

Tomorrow I start another diet. And I’m REALLY BLOODY SCARED. Here’s why:

1. This is hardcore…

This isn’t just cutting out chocolate. This is the Jillian Michaels, kick-start your metabolism, all-out nightmare, diet.

Who’s Jillian Michaels, I hear you ask? Well…my near-daily workouts for the past 8 months have been Jillian Michaels DVDs – tough body-weight workouts and high-intensity interval training from the personal trainer who features on the American TV show The Biggest Loser, which sees very large people lose ridiculous amounts of weight in a few months.

The programme is controversial for its tough approach, and Jillian is often called “TV’s toughest trainer”, simply because she has a no-nonsense, kick-butt attitude. Some people hate her, and say that she yells, is mean, and expects too much.

But I love her. I find her incredibly motivating, and not mean at all – well, as not mean as someone can be when they’re telling you to do five more press ups when you’re already dying and sweating on to the floor.

puke-faint-dieHer slogan is “Unless you faint, puke or die, keep going.” Sometimes, when I’m nearly on the floor during one of her workouts, the only thing that keeps me going is the thought “Well, I haven’t puked yet, so I must have to keep going.” Nice, right?! But it works.

I mean it – I LOVE HER. I stick on one of her DVDs so often, I see her more than I practically see most of my close friends (ha). She’s also on Twitter and Facebook, so it’s a bit weird how often her motivational repartee pops up in my life.

I’ve lost weight, put on muscle, lost inches, gained energy and strength, all through following her programmes.

But it’s still not enough. I can feel new “abs” in my stomach, and see the beginnings of biceps, but that’s not much use when there’s still a lovely layer of flab over the top of them, that I cannot shift.

Jillian says you can eat your way “through” any workout – i.e. Eat more than it burns off. And despite following her exercise plans religiously, I’ve always been a bit slack about going all-in with her diet plans.

But I’ve finally accepted defeat. Jillian’s good enough for my workouts, so she’s good enough for my diet. I think. Just what my sloth-like metabolism needs. Eeeeek.

2. It’s pretty brutal.

The initial week-long plan (followed by an easier, 90-day programme) features no carbs, no sugar, no fruit, and only one serving of low-fat dairy a day.

The overall calorie intake is about 1,200 – which I’m not sure I agree with anyway, as I know that there’s a whole school of thought that says you should work out your BMR (basal metabolic rate – the number of calories your body would burn if you stayed in bed all day) plus your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure, the amount of calories you actually need to function if you DO get out of bed), which is inevitably more than 1,200. But this is the plan, so I’ll see how it goes. If I feel like I’m about to fall over, I’ll eat something like an apple. Big bloody deal. BUT STILL. Scary stuff.

3. The workouts

Oh, did I mention that there are TWO half-hour workouts a day for this initial week-long stint?! A strength one in the morning, and a cardio one in the evening?!

As a total non-morning person, the idea of getting out of bed to do a workout (and then another one in the evening), is HORRENDOUS. In the past two years, I’ve managed three, yes, three, before-work workouts. And hundreds of after-work ones. I’m just not a morning person. But Jillian doesn’t care. So morning workouts it is.

Between you and me, I’m scared that they’ll be more painful than the not-eating thing.

4. I’ve already done a lot of diets, with mixed results

As well as generally watching what I eat, I have done a lot of diets in my time. There was the Atkins (lost a lot, put it all back on the moment I ate a slice of bread), the 5:2 (terrible headaches); Slimming World (the best one so far, but too slow, too expensive, and too time-consuming to go to the weekly group). The only reason I haven’t done the cabbage soup diet, or the maple syrup and lemon juice one is because I don’t really like cabbage, or maple syrup. So there we go. But I trust Jillian Michaels, so maybe this one will actually work.

5. I don’t exactly eat loads already.

I find my weight incredibly frustrating, because I try to do everything right, and it never quite works.

Take calories. I know, from daily food diary keeping over several months, that I generally eat between 1,200-1,500 calories a day. Admittedly, some days, this veers towards about 1,800 – if I go out for dinner say, or I have a drink after work, and at the weekends it can be a bit more.

But then, my workout burns around 250-300 calories, depending on how much effort I put in. Six or seven days a week, plus weight training twice a week.

I HATE to count calories as much as the next person. I only really do it to keep an eye on things, rather than because I think it’s particularly useful, or because I want to obsess over numbers.

But also, counting calories can be like a kind of vindication. All those people who say that those of us who are slightly overweight should just eat less and move more, and not eat chips?

This idea that EVERYONE who isn’t thin can just change their habits and just not be lazy, and magically they’d no longer be big? Well, balls to that (Katie Hopkins, I’m looking at you) I’m proof it isn’t true. It’s not like I’m living off chips and biscuits, let’s put it that way.

So reducing my food intake further is just plain terrifying. Argh.

6. Food helps my day go better

Don’t get me wrong, given the chance, I don’t exactly eat like a bird. I love food.

For me, it’s sociable, and emotional. Have a shit day? Look forward to the evening, when you can savour a nice biscuit. Feel bored and tired at work at 4pm? Have a square of dark chocolate and enjoy those five minutes with a coffee.

Going out for a friend’s birthday or hen do? Order a pizza or a LOT of mezze, plus some cake and also vodka and probably gin. Of course (and screw the calorie count for that day).

And also, I try to eat well too, so I feel healthier.

At least six days a week, I make sure I get lean protein in each meal, not too many “bad” fats (small amounts of coconut oil or avocado, rather than loads of chocolate and cheese), not too many carbs, and wholegrain if possible.

I also drink green smoothies five days a week, which include swiss chard, spinach (cooked, to deactivate the goitrogens that can inhibit thyroid function…), kelp powder, chia seeds, spirulina, and matcha powder for good measure. I enjoy good food, whether that’s good = tasty, or good = nutritious.

I also go to food for emotional support, sometimes.

The idea of not being able to turn to that square of dark chocolate when at work makes me feel a bit worried, I have to admit. At least this diet lets me have an afternoon snack, even if it is a low-fat yoghurt (sigh). I guess it’s only for a week. You can do anything for a week, right?

7. I have an underactive thyroid, which makes dieting in general frustrating beyond measure.

This year I’ve been officially diagnosed with mild PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and an underactive thyroid, confirming what I’ve long suspected: my metabolism isn’t so much slow, as crawling along the floor. It makes a sloth look perky.

I now take medication, but it does explain why it took me a year (and many tears) to lose a stone on the Slimming World diet plan when everyone else around me was losing weight like it was the easiest thing ever.

It also explains why I never seem to lose weight despite eating less than a LOT of slim people I know.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not that big, but I’m also pretty teeny (5ft tall) so am actually a bit too big for my frame.

And I’m worried that this diet will just go the way of the others, i.e. not do that much. And then what? *CRIES*.

8. Dieting, and writing about it, feels so self-indulgent and boring

Another caveat to dieting: BOO FUCKING HOO, right? Compared to pretty much everything you can think of – you know, cancer, degenerative diseases, poverty, war, the situation in the Middle East, racial hatred, domestic violence ‒ being a bit overweight is nothing. NOTHING. I realise that.

I know all the reasons why I shouldn’t care – (it’s self-obsessed, it’s boring, narcissistic, not living life to the full, over-anxious, non-feminist, an insult to larger people, over-controlling, non-realistic, a luxury most people can’t afford, etc etc etc.) Faced with all that, ACTUALLY CARING can seem like a self-indulgent exercise. Life’s too short, you think. But then, being over your ideal weight and worrying about it can make your life shorter too. Sigh.

And health wise and self-esteem wise, years and years of trying to lose weight and feeling like you’re NEVER getting anywhere, can start to get a bit wearing after a while.

Especially when a lot of people you see seem to be able to eat what they like, and stay thin, in a culture that is obsessed with equating beauty and success to thinness. It shouldn’t be like that, but it is. And it can get to you after a while, despite ALL THE REASONS why it shouldn’t. So I at least want to try.

9. Dieting can get judgemental quickly

Let me just take a second to say that I’m not critical of ANYONE who is any size (from a zero upwards) that makes them happy. Fair play to them.

But dieting can get scarily competitive and fraught with opinions and arguments. Everyone eats, so everyone’s got an opinion – “Oh, well, just cut out bread and you’ll be fine/just don’t eat fat/sugar/move more/do a fast/liquid cleanse/eat in moderation/stop obsessing/just eat when you’re hungry/life’s for living” etc etc ad infinitum.

Basically, I reckon it’s whatever works for you. And I know that I would look and feel better at my goal weight, which is about 15% less than my current weight now. And what I’m currently doing isn’t quite working, despite not being awful. That simple, really.

10. It’s just BLOODY SCARY THOUGH.

I’m worried I’ll be hungry, irritable, tired, achy, headachy (when I did the 5:2, I didn’t get hungry, I just got pounding headaches that wouldn’t leave).

I’m worried about not being able to turn to that little square of dark chocolate that I keep for 4pm in the office.

And what about having to actually be organised and COOK dinner and tomorrow’s lunch every evening after work? Not to mention expensive to keep myself in salmon fillets and fresh veg.

What if a murderous cake-binge mist descends during Wednesday night’s Great British Bake Off TV show, ending in a no holds-barred sprint to the nearest supermarket pastry shelf?!

But well, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that writing about something can help you evaluate it, and keep you going.

Also, sharing your progress online – and getting support back, as I did when I first started Jillian Michaels’ 30-day Shred programme ‒ can work wonders for motivation.

SO, I’m going to try and keep a log of what it’s like. I assume that log will mostly be me going “unnghhgh” and “caaaaaaaake”.

But if it stops me inhaling a packet of Jaffa Cakes in one sitting, then it might be worth it.

If it kickstarts my metabolism and shifts any weight that isn’t water, FINALLY, then it will be worth it.

Wish me luck…