LIIFT4 Review

As always, I’ll insert the disclaimer that I am not and will not be and do not want a beach body coach. I just like the workouts.

This is my absolute favorite fitness program ever. I knew I liked it within the first 5 minutes of the first workout, but now that I’ve been working out with Joel 4 days a week for the last 8 weeks I can definitively say I am a huge fan of him and this program. The workouts are relatively short, but there’s almost zero downtime so it moves really quickly and gets a lot of work accomplished. I’m probably as strong as I’ve ever been in my life. I mean, 10 pound shoulder presses? Who am I?!

In fact, I liked this program so much that I think I’m going to start again next week. This is a pretty big deal to me, because I petered out with workouts after 80 Day Obsession and I don’t want to lose any of this level of fitness like I did then. With 80DO, at the end of 3 months of near-daily grueling workouts, I was completely exhausted and not ready to keep going at that level of intensity, so I wasn’t doing anything very consistently from October to January, and it showed. The level  of intensity here isn’t much lower, but it’s been way more enjoyable for me personally and I’m up for round 2!

I have especially liked learning some classic weightlifting, mixing it up with HIIT, and the fact that there is a challenging ab series at the end of every workout. Joel is also an excellent and positive trainer, and he doesn’t waste time telling stories or jokes (ahem, Autumn and Tony). It’s all about the workout and I really appreciate that because my time is valuable to me. It also leaves flexibility to do some other workouts throughout the week, which I have really liked being able to do!

The nutrition plan was a little out of reach for me, mainly because I almost always eat lunch at work and I honestly hate meal prepping and carrying lunch to work. There’s usually pretty healthy options so that’s not the issue, it’s just a lot of what I get there isn’t on the approved foods list. Instead, I’ve just been tracking macros (by percentage ~45c/30f/25p, which is about as much protein as I can manage as a pescatarian) and I’m following about an 80/20 rule, which means I don’t go hungry and still have a couple of good cheat meals every week. I definitely don’t drink Shakeology (so expensive and so much sugar ) but I do drink a Vega Sport smoothie (1g sugar vs 7g in Shakeo) on days that I work out because I think it could be too easy to lose weight with this program if I just ate what I wanted.

One thing that I’m really happy that I have learned about myself is that I can in fact stick with something without doing all or nothing, as I’ve been prone to do in the past. Everything about this program is so well balanced that I feel I could keep going for quite a while without burning out or losing interest. That scores major points for me!

All that said, I may take a break and do Transform :20 after I finish my PICU rotation (because I am a granny and I love step aerobics) just so LIIFT4 stays fresh for months when I can’t work out every day.

Anyway, thanks for reading! Have you tried this program?

80DO Phase 2 Review

I honestly cannot believe I’ve stuck with a series of workouts for this long!! I have probably only been in better shape at one point in my adult life and at the rate I’m going, I’m fairly certain I’m going to pass that level of fitness pretty soon. How cool is that?

(I’ll again insert the disclaimer that I am not and will not be and do not want a beach body coach. I just like the workouts.)

The whole structure of the program is that in week one of each phase you do 2 rounds of 15 reps, week 2 is three rounds of 10 reps, week 3 is 3×10 rounds, and week 4 is 2×15 rounds. Week 1 is definitely the hardest because you’re just trying to figure out what to do, but by the end it just gets fun to see how far you’ve come… if a little boring!

  1. Booty: unlike phase 1, this version requires more than just resistance loops and you end up lifting a lot of weights. I really wish I had more than 10 pound dumbbells, but I have a hard time getting myself to a) leave the house or b) buy more heavy objects that I’m going to have to pay to move in 10 months, so I try to get the form right and use what I’ve got to maximize the impact of the workout. Of note, I’d say phase 1 booty changed mine WAY more than anticipated, and phase 2 is continuing the trend, just a little more slowly. I have never had much of a butt to speak of before but now I do and I love it!
  2. Cardio core: same idea as phase 1, minus the standing mountain climbers (thank GOD): 30 seconds of some sort of jumping jacks and 30 seconds of a HIIT move each repeated 3 times followed by an ab exercise. In my opinion, this one is easier than phase 1 but maybe that’s just because I’m stronger this month. I will admit I felt sort of incredible (and dead) when Autumn was congratulating the cast on getting to 6 burpee pushups and I was finishing my 8th!
  3. Total Body Core: the level of complexity of the moves in this one is sometimes a bit much, although that does make it a little bit more intellectually interesting. I like how it burns out individual body parts and follows up each one with a core move, and it’s been fun to be able to do this difficult workout more successfully from week to week.
  4. Legs: I think this one is my favorite! (Although I haven’t done week 4 yet which is basically 60 reps of the same move back to back so maybe ask me again after that.) It’s far less complex than TBC or even AAA and I feel like even with my light-weight-ownership dilemma that I totally burn out pretty much every muscle in my legs with this one, probably due to the fact that half the reps are burnouts done on sliders, which actually are really effective when used in this way. Plus it’s pretty much always the shortest one of the week, which I love.
  5. AAA: a big fat MEH to this one. There are just too many moves to pack into an hour. By the third series in the first round in week one, I was actually sobbing uncontrollably at the thought of having to repeat the entire thing. Thankfully, she drops the burnout moves in the second round and I survived, but it bothers me that it ends up over 60 minutes every week, especially considering that the moves are so packed together that you honestly have to hit pause in order to keep up with all the loop/weight/slider changes. It does get better from week to week, and I have heard that it is actually very good for you to get emotional to the point of crying during a workout. (If that’s not true don’t tell me, because I need to continue to believe it.)
  6. Cardio Flow: this one is so dang boring, I would consider swapping it out for something else if it wasn’t so obviously effective. It’s the same exact moves from phase 1, just repeated 6 times instead of 4. At the beginning of the program when she said we’d be doing 8 reps by the third phase, I was absolutely petrified since it’s literally double the number of reps in essentially the same amount of time. Now I know I’ll be physically able to do it, it’s just the mental endurance aspect that I’m not looking forward to.

I still have the last week of phase 2 to finish. I’m about 10 days behind schedule since I chose not to work out on days that I was on 28 hour call or post-night shift, but I’m back on track with Monday as my new day off. I’m sure with upcoming interview travel there will be delays in getting it done again, but that’s ok with me! I’m also not following the nutrition plan at all since it’s just too complex and restrictive, but I have unintentionally but completely quit eating candy, which is kind of a big deal for me, and I am considering that a nutritional success!

80 Day (not exactly) Obsession

Differences: 3 weeks of 21 DFX workouts, stopped snacking, improved sleep schedule, and a few 80 DO workouts. Same: pants, camera, and pager.

I recently finished up 21 Day Fix Extreme for the second time around and have moved on to 80 Day Obsession. I have few thoughts after finishing the first week:

  1. I am not and never will be a beach body coach and I do not want one! I appreciate the offers but I’m just not into the idea.
  2. I also don’t want to try shakeology. Sorry. Vega makes an objectively better and cheaper product and I’d rather my calories come from actual food anyway.
  3. Names like “fix” and “obsession” when it comes to food and lifestyle choices really bother me. When I think of being “obsessed” with food I think of eating disorders and for that reason I wish Autumn et al would have come up with a name that implies that balance is important. Nobody needs orthorexia to live a long and healthy life. In fact, it’s counterproductive.
  4. I may be wrong about this, but whoever has a flexible enough schedule and the mental energy to do the timed nutrition must not have an 80 hour a week job. I physically can’t do it. There are weeks that I can’t meal prep and there are days where eating every 2-3 hours isn’t practical. I’m not one of those people that “forgets to eat” but when you work in an intensive care unit there are times when you can’t just be like “sry brb to finish these chest compressions, gotta go eat my snack!”
  5. I will have to skip the days when I work 28 hours at a time, and I am cool with that. I’ll try to shuffle things around to make them up but I’m not going to be so “obsessed” that I sacrifice sleep pre-call.
  6. I genuinely enjoy cooking and most nights that means I want to make something that isn’t an exact breakdown of macronutrients. If I don’t end up looking like a swimsuit model because I practice the self-care exercise of cooking dinners that I enjoy making and eating and aren’t just fish and sweet potatoes, then so be it.
  7. In general I’m more into the idea of an 80/20 rule than strict no-wine-no-chocolate-no-cookies-no-cocktails-no-anything-delicious for 13 weeks. If I’m out with friends I’m having the drink and when it’s 10pm and I’m on call and everyone is eating the free cookie from ABP I am eating a freaking cookie. However, I did cut out junk food at home which was actually not as hard as I expected it to be.
  8. My rest days are on Friday instead of Sunday. I’m 6x more likely to be tired on a Friday than I am on a Sunday so I scheduled the two 60 minute workouts for my weekend days when I’m at least somewhat more likely to have a day off.
  9. The workouts themselves are great!! They seriously fly by. I was nervous about going from 30 minutes with 21DFX to mostly 45-60 minutes with 80DO, but so far it has not bothered me even a little bit.
  10. I like the live aspect of the workouts. You can’t always hear what the cast are saying (probably would have been a good idea to mic them and edit heavy breathing out) but it makes you feel like you’re really in a class rather home alone.
  11. I love that there’s no music! Full Taylor Swift albums can be played in the background! I used a couple of Autumn’s playlists too and they are pretty good as well.
  12. I work out on my Lululemon The Mat every time. Otherwise the hardwood floors are too painful on my wrists.
  13. Some of the band and slider stuff feels a little gimmicky at times and can be difficult to figure out, and especially with the sliders I felt like I made the moves harder by ditching them. I’m sure with practice it’ll make more sense.
  14. I can honestly say my arms and legs feel more toned and my backside feels more lifted. Can’t say that I see a huge difference visually in my core yet but I am holding planks more easily and I’m sure over the next 74 workouts there will be more of a change. (Also probably would help if I cut out the late night cookies and followed the nutrition plan exactly, but mental health > six pack.)

And then a few thoughts on each workout:

  1. Total Body Core: this is a good circuit workout. The heaviest weights I currently have are 10 pounds and that is probably a little too light. I love writing that because I used to think 3 and 5 pound weights counted as “light” and “heavy.”
  2. Booty: squats on squats on squats with some lunges thrown in for good measure. It does not feel like a full hour, which is good.
  3. Cardio Core: 30 seconds of jumping a theoretical rope and 30 seconds of plyo are repeated 3 times, followed by a core move that usually entails a slider. I could see this getting a little repetitive from week to week but you do work up an incredible sweat.
  4. AAA: another decent circuit workout, and another workout where I am realizing I’ll want more than 10 pound weights by the end of this.
  5. Legs: this workout induces subacute death, in a good way. There is a move where you squat down like you’re tying your shoe at the end of the circuit that I almost didn’t survive.
  6. Cardio Flow: this is neither true cardio nor a yoga flow, so the name confuses me, but I really liked it anyway. It’s basically escalating levels of full body torture (again, in a good way!) and you blink and the workout is over. It’s probably unladylike of me to share this, but I was absolutely dripping sweat by the end.

And that’s my first week! I’m SO excited to use my foam roller tomorrow!

21 Day Fix Extreme Review

I did this whole program about two years ago right before residency started and really loved it, but being at the lighter end of the spectrum even my “maintenance” calories didn’t really feel like enough so I started to bonk towards the end and sort of fell of the bandwagon. (Sorry, 12 almonds do not make up a “snack” when you are starving.) But I did feel like I had a good level of fitness and was glad I didn’t just totally couch potato it before getting to Chicago.

Over the last 2 years, my (super awesome and super cheap) health insurance requires me to get weighed, vitaled, and blood tested annually if I want $400 off my premiums (I do) and it’s been a little disheartening to watch almost every number head in the wrong direction. For example, my good cholesterol used to be higher than my bad cholesterol (this is unusually good) and now it is most definitely not, and I have gained about 4 pounds that I just don’t need in the last 2 years (a trajectory that will set me up to be 200 pounds in 20 years, which would be suboptimal).

So it’s time for me to invite Autumn Calabrese back into my life but with a sustainable amount of food this time around. I’ve been cooking almost exclusively the last two weeks and feel like I’m in a good spot mentally to get back into a workout routine, which to me is more than half the battle when it comes to staying active. I just completed the first week of 21 DFX again and thought I’d jot down some thoughts in case anyone cares.

*Disclaimer that I am NOT and NEVER WILL BE a “beachbody coach” and I do not and will not drink shakeology. Good for you if you choose to have this as a side hustle, but I hate the feeling of the pyramid scheme even though I think beachbody creates some of the best and most scientific programs out there.

Plyo Fix Extreme

This one wrecks your legs in a good way. Taking the L the next day, where elevators are super sketch and stairs are really the only option, was mildly terrifying. There are approximately 1024953 squats in this one and yes, you will feel it even if only using light weights.

Upper Fix Extreme

I have never been a big fan of working out chest and shoulders (mainly because mine are weak) but I like this workout anyway. I would recommend not trying to blow-dry your hair immediately afterward.

Pilates Fix Extreme

I am so used to yoga breathing that pilates always feels kind of backward to me, and the church wrap always seems to get me confused, but this is a great active recovery day mid-week and the more I remember to breathe correctly the more I feel I get out of it.

Lower Fix Extreme

I think this one is my favorite! Obviously your legs are already super sore but this workout pretty much flies by.

Cardio Fix Extreme

I’d rather do resistance than cardio, but I like this one because it will leave you a dripping, sweaty mess. I also like that there are still some weights included, even though it is cardio.

Dirty 30 Extreme

This one is probably my least favorite, just because the moves are a full 60 seconds and my mind starts to wander after about 40. The mixture of moves is either too easy or way too hard – I really hated the bonus move because I straight up cannot do it. Goals maybe?

Yoga Extreme

Yoga is mentally tough for me after I seriously fractured my arm a couple years ago and lost a lot of strength and almost all flexibility in my right wrist. I haven’t been to a real yoga class since then and so this just reminds me of what I wish I was doing but have been too nervous to try. I don’t think Autumn is an RYT, so if you have the time in your day it might be worth swapping this out for a nice yin yoga class at a studio instead.

I’m now trying to psych myself up for 80 Day Obsession, but I don’t like the idea of 60 minute workouts (I’m busy) and calling anything food-related “obsession” borders on disordered eating territory in my mind, which makes me a little uncomfortable. And let’s be honest, I also don’t like the idea of completely missing out on drinks and desserts for 3 months so I might be inclined to do the workouts but follow more of an 80/20 rule for nutrition. I don’t need to look like a swimsuit model! I just want my HDL back up in the 70s where it belongs.

Have you tried any of Autumn’s workouts? Any tips for 80 Day Obsession?