My Favorite Workout Programs

Happy Friday Eve, everyone - thanks for stopping by! I know I mentioned this the other day, but this week is flying by for me! It's good because I really need a weekend at home (I'm exhausted), but sucks because I have so much to do at work that's not getting done. 

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I didn't get my run in this morning because there was a tornado watch and it was seriously storming outside, so I had to sub another workout in. You can see how I felt about that in my picture (I was tired and meh), but I ended up doing MMX and Core on the Floor from P90X3 and Core de Force and felt pretty good about myself by the time I was done. 

Today I thought I would do a quick review of all of my favorite workout programs. A lot of them are Beachbody workouts - again I'm not a coach, I just really like their programs and have done a lot of them. I also have a few favorites that you can pick-up on Amazon. I love Amazon and buy pretty much anything I can from there, including a lot of my workouts. 

First I will review my favorite Beachbody programs and then I'll go into some of my other favorite workouts/plans/ways to get fit. I do have a subscription to Beachbody on Demand, which I love. It's their online streaming program that allows you access to all of their programs for $100 a year. I like working out at home and don't like the gym so much, so it's perfect and justifiable for me!

I am not a personal trainer or fitness professional and as such, I want to remind you that this is just my opinion and in no way, shape, or form a recommendation as something that you should start doing. As with all workouts programs, check with your doctor before starting anything. 

P90X

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I'm currently in my 3rd or 4th attempt of completing P90X - I talk about this more later in this post and have also discussed in past posts, but I always quit due to gaining weight initially whenever I try P90X. It has happened again this time but not as much; just a couple pounds. However I'm not even worried about it because I know the pounds will come off and then some, just like they did with Chalean Extreme (and I'm going to be so jacked #doyouevenliftbro). 

So far I'm really enjoying P90X this time around. See all the mascara all over my face? Wash your face at night, friends! (I was too tired yesterday). 

P90X Pros & Cons

Pros

  • I know some people think this is a con, but I think Tony Horton is hilarious AF and I love his commentary and ridiculous jokes throughout the workouts. And if you don't like his commentary, you could mute the tv and play music - problem solved. 
  • The workouts change monthly, so you'll never get bored!
  • If you track your workouts and the weights you use (I use a notebook and jot down the weight and reps for each exercise), you will start to see results on a weekly basis. Every single workout I improve on something. Either I do more reps or I increase weight, but it's a trackable improvement and it makes me happy!

Cons

  • I personally think all of the P90X cardio workouts suck and I don't do any of them. I either run, use a HIIT or kickboxing workout from Turbofire, or sub a P90X3 cardio workout (MMX is my fave) on my cardio days.
  • Time commitment. The workouts are all around an hour or more and that's a lot when you have a family and work full-time. This is why I wake up at 5am to complete my workout. Sometimes I sleep through my alarm and then I have to do it in the evenings and it's a huge time commitment. I will say that I'm sure the results are worth it though!

Insanity

I have done three complete rounds of Insanity, one in 2012 which I had my best results with, another the summer of 2014 and then I did a postpartum round in July of last year. I love Insanity, and I love Shaun T. That being said, Insanity is an extremely intense program that I would not recommend for beginners. 

These pictures have never seen the light of day, but I've already showed off how I look right now so I may as well show off how I looked when I was at what I consider to be my peak shape. These pictures are from my round of Insanity in 2012. I didn't lose a ton of weight (only like 4 or 5 pounds), but MAN are those results amazing!

Insanity Pros & Cons:

Pro:

  • Results. Not only will you see some serious physical results in regards to your body composition, but you will also experience some serious results in your athletic performance. I find that whenever I do Insanity my running performance improves exponentially, due to the fact that you seriously improve your cardio conditioning with Insanity. All of that jumping and the back-and-forths and CRAZINESS really help with your slow and fast twitch muscles/response, so my leg turnover during runs is faster which helps me to run faster and more efficiently. I will probably continue to do a round of Insanity every early fall so I'm better prepared for running season (which is fall/winter here in Florida)

Con:

  • This workout is hard AF. I'm talking super intense. So I would not recommend it for beginners. 
  • Very hard on your joints - probably not doable if you have any joint issues (talk to your dr)
  • Lack of strength training. There are some body weight strength moves in some of the workouts, but this is primarily cardio-based. As such, you'll lose some muscle mass. I will probably try to do some short weight workouts the next time I do a round. 

Chalean Extreme

Prior to completing a full round of Chalean Extreme last month, I'd attempted the program probably 3 or 4 times without ever completing it. Why didn't I ever complete the program? I'd always gain a few pounds in the beginning and give up, since I was hyper-focused on wanting to lose weight. Well now I finally know and believe that it's okay to gain some weight in a strength program - your muscles hold onto water whenever they are repairing themselves and when you're doing a crazy workout program with lots of strength training, you'll gain some water weight. It's okay...even if you don't lose a single pound, I promise your body composition will change. You will see muscles and get toned and your clothes will start fitting better. 

Also just to clear things up because this drives me nuts...muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat. However, muscle is a lot more dense than fat and as such, takes up less space. So a pound of muscle looks smaller than a pound of fat. When you're adding muscle to your body and losing fat but not losing any actual pounds, do yourself a favor and take progress pictures and measure yourself with measuring tape. This is how I keep myself from getting discouraged when the scale doesn't budge. 

Here are my results from Chalean Extreme that I finished in March. I wasn't initially very happy with them and blogged about this before, but I did have some pretty good results (more proof that you should be happy with the body you're in!!)

Pros & cons of Chalean Extreme

Pros

  • The workouts change every month, so you don't get bored. 
  • I really like Chalene Johnson as a trainer - she's funny and very personable. She also makes me laugh, which is super important to me - Shaun T and Tony Horton also make me laugh on the regs. 
  • You will see results in your body composition as long as you lift heavy weights. Go outside of your comfort zone and really push yourself; you might be surprised with what you are capable of!

Cons

  • Those boots...just no.

Turbofire

I've still never completed a full round of TF, but I do really enjoy the workouts and will often sub either a HIIT or one of the longer workouts on a cardio day when I don't want to run. These workouts are super dancey and I think they're a lot of fun! Plus, there are low-impact options so this is great workout for beginners and if you're pregnant (with your dr's okay). I've shared the picture on the right twice already, but I am super proud of my 6-month preggo kickboxing picture so I'm posting it again! Plus, it's Thursday so I can call this a Throwback Thursday. DEAL WITH IT!!!

Turbofire Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's a lot of fun...once you get the moves down. 
  • Chalean is so positive and uplifting that you are excited to workout with her; she's a great instructor with awesome cues. 
  • I've worn my heart rate monitor while doing a TF workout and I burn almost as many calories as when I run, so they're very effective workouts!
  • Good for beginners and people who need to modify
  • The long stretch workout in the program (it's 40 minutes long) is one of my favorite yoga-ish routines. 

Cons

  • I don't like the strength workouts - they just don't do it for me
  • There is a bit of a learning curve with the workouts since it's super dancey and requires some coordination. Keep trying and I promise you'll get it down!

Now onto some non-beachbody programs

Half Marathon Training

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After doing a round of Insanity and when fall is upon us, I am always ready to start running regularly and seriously training for a half-marathon.

There's something about cooler temps and long-run Sunday that makes me super happy.

The carb loading and beers after my long-runs certainly help with my enthusiasm. 

That being said, running is hard and training for a half-marathon is a serious time commitment. 

Here's the plan I used to PR a couple of years ago. You do need to be an experienced runner before trying this plan - I had ran 3 half marathons before doing this plan. But it worked and I killed my PR by 6 minutes!

(sorry about the shitty picture quality)

Half Marathon Training Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • The accomplishment of finishing the race is such an awesome feeling. And even though you'll swear both during and immediately afterward that you'll never run another distance race again, I can almost bet that you'll sign up for another within a year!
  • Carb loading before and beer after my long runs. So much fun.
  • Having 2 hours to myself to listen to music and just be alone - for whatever reason, I tend to really enjoy my long runs (when I don't feel like I'm going to die)
  • You have to go shopping to buy new stuff. You'll need shoes, clothes, GU, water bottles, hats, socks, etc. I love to run in purple - it makes me run faster...

Cons:

  • Weight gain - I always gain weight during every single training cycle. I do lean out at first, but by the end your body is so beat up and tired that you start packing on some weight (usually around 5 punds for me)
  • So hungry. All the time. See the above. 
  • It's time consuming - you'll be running at least 3 days a week for 30-140 minutes or so depending on your schedule. That's a lot and it can be overwhelming. Just take it one run at a time.

The Butt Bible

One of my friends gave me this and it is a killer. I like to use this during half marathon training for cross training and strength. The only problem with it is you will not be able to sit down to pee for days. Not even kidding. 

Pros: 

  • I like the trainer; she has a lot of great form cues and she's very pleasant.
  • Seriously effective. 
  • The workouts are pretty quick
  • I think the instructor is funny (in a ridiculous way) but a lot of people complain about her. If you don't like her, mute the tv and listen to music. Boom.

Cons:

  • You won't be able to sit down for days the first few times you do this workout. It's seriously effective, but that leads to serious pain.

MTV Pilates Mix

I've had this workout since having Justin and still recommend it. The instructor is obviously very well-trained and knowledgeable and I really enjoy the workouts (but hate them at the same time, because they're hard). 

What I love about Pilates is that it helps me to strengthen my supporting muscles and helps to fix any muscle imbalances I might have. This is especially important when you're a runner, since runners are notoriously weak in random places, which leads to injuries. 

Pilates also puts a lot of emphasis on strengthening your core, not just your abs. This means your back, obliques, and transverse abs get a workout, leading to a stronger core overall. 

And if you're lucky, your cat and dog will do the workout with you, so you have an accountability partner!

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • If you combine the workouts, you get a full body workout in an hour. 
  • Helps strengthen your supporting muscles, which helps to decrease injury

Cons:

  • No cardio or strength training, so you'll have to use this as supporting workout. I used to do it on a shorter strength day while doing P90X3 and counted it for my ab workout as well
  • If you enjoy doing seriously intense workouts all the time you'll probably get bored at first when you try this, but I encourage you to stick it out to the end. The constant core work and small movements will seriously destroy you - in a good way. 

That's all I have for today! Have you tried any of these workouts? Do you have any recommendations for me? I love working out. A lot of people think it's because I'm crazy, but I just really enjoy how I feel when I'm done. If you change your mindset from "uggghhh...I have to workout" to "I get to workout", I promise you'll feel better about it and start to do it more!

Have a great Thursday!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a percentage of the sale if you make a purchase using the links. This does not change the price of the item (at all) and is something I have just decided to start trying since I do make recommendations on a regular basis. The opinions are still 100% my own and not at all influenced by me using the affiliate links.  

Thursday Truthin' & Pregnancy Workouts

Alternate title - that time I was almost 18 weeks pregnant but didn't know it...

But first...

BABY SELFIES!!

I gave Jules my phone to keep her busy while I was making myself breakfast this morning, and this is the result #drool

Today we're going back in time - to the spring/summer of 2015, to be exact.

In the early spring of 2015 I went off of my combined hormone birth control (Yaz, which I loved) and got an IUD. The reason why I stopped taking Yaz is because I would get hormonal migraines with aura, which are extremely dangerous and greatly increase your chance of having a blood clot if you're on the combined pill. Soon after switching birth control I noticed I was gaining weight, having increased skin issues (zits), hair loss, melasma, dry/itchy scalp, and my periods were no longer regular and due to this, I ended up having the IUD removed in early April and started the mini-pill in May. I also went to my OB/GYN and PCP to get full exam, since I knew this wasn't normal - plus, I was really upset with the weight gain - I'm talking 10 pounds in 6 months, even though my eating and exercise were on point. So this is early May and the doctors both run blood tests and my lady bits doctor does an ultrasound - the ultrasound showed that I had what looked to be PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is the #1 cause of infertility in women) and the blood test results "confirmed" this, with increased testosterone levels. So my OB/GYN and PCP agreed that I should continue the mini-pill and take metformin and progesterone supplements to try to manage my symptoms. And they both told me that I would have a difficult time trying to get pregnant again in the event I ever did want to have another baby, and it is highly likely that we would need fertility treatments. My husband and I talked things over and decided we were okay not having any children of our own (plus Justin is pretty dang cool) and we could just travel and have lots of dogs and we were fine with this being the hand that was dealt to us. 

By this point, I was already pregnant. 

However I had no clue - the doctor did not catch it on the ultrasound, I'm assuming because I was only about 3-4 weeks into the pregnancy when I had it and it was too early to get caught by the blood tests. I only had about a 2 week gap between my IUD and the mini-pill where I was birth control-less...and it was enough. 

So Jason and I traveled and had a ridiculous amount of fun that summer.

We took an epic road trip all over the Midwest and New England, stopping and staying with most of our family along the way. We went to a Cubs game, had a wedding reception with my family and friends in Illinois (since we eloped), went hiking, eating, drinking, running, etc. I had stopped taking the metformin due to it making me sick (little did I know it was actually morning sickness), but I took the progesterone supplement as prescribed and even had a what I thought was a period in early July. 

I was working out like crazy and seriously watching my macros, but could not lose any of the 10 pounds I had put on. As noted above, I had some slight morning sickness May/June, which led me to stop taking Metformin and I could not stand the smell or thought of brussel sprouts. Finally I had bloated up to the point I could not suck my stomach in and after breaking down to Jason, I decided it was time to go to the doctor to confirm it wasn't anything serious. He even said that if I'm having such awful symptoms, maybe I should look into getting a hysterectomy (some women with PCOS do this, but it's not a cure by any means). I even took pictures and posted it to an exercise group I belonged to on Facebook, asking if anyone had experienced this and thought maybe it was a food allergy/intolerance or something (I was 16 weeks pregnant). 

Being pregnant never crossed my mind, since I'd been on birth control, was told I wouldn't be able to get pregnant without intervention, and all of the symptoms I was having can be caused by having PCOS. My OB/GYN totally freaked me out when I got to my appointment and stated she was worried it might be ovarian cancer and wanted to do an ultrasound. As I was laying down in the ultrasound room, she came in and said "I'm happy to tell you that you don't have ovarian cancer - you're pregnant" - they did a dip stick when I first got there. And my entire world flipped upside-down.

I called my mom first, since I didn't want to tell Jason over the phone and of course, she was thrilled. Then I told Jason and was so happy to see just how thrilled he was. We even picked out Julianna's name within the first 2 hours of finding out (we thought all the other "J" girl names either sound like strippers or mean girls). As I mentioned in another blog, Justin was not thrilled to find out, but I knew it would be fine. 

Except then I started thinking...

I had been living my life like someone who was definitely not pregnant. I'd been doing intense HIIT workouts/running/lifting extremely heavy weights and actively trying to lose weight. I had been eating sushi and ham and oysters and hot dogs all summer long and had been drinking beer and tequila almost every weekend. I was already 17 weeks pregnant and knew this was potentially a devastating thing and started beating myself up immediately. 

How could I not know I was pregnant?

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What if something went wrong with Jules? It would be all my fault (and yes, I still think this sometimes and worry, but she is 100% healthy and striving so far so I try not to worry about it too much). Due to my cavorting around and the fact that I had pre-eclampsia with Justin, my doctor classified my pregnancy as high-risk. We had a super intense ultrasound called an anatomy scan with the high-risk OB/GYN scheduled for when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and in the meantime I was told to eat well and stop exercising until our appointment. Meaning I had to wait around and "what-if" for 2.5 weeks without any outlet. I was so worried, I didn't tell anyone at work or friends and family just in case something was wrong. During this time I started really feeling Jules move around (I'd felt her around 16 weeks but thought it was just indigestion, you know...since I didn't know I was pregnant yet). I was really starting to feel the love for this little lady and I was terrified something was going to be wrong. And then we went to Sanibel Island for a long weekend when I was 18 weeks pregnant and Justin and Jason got to feel her kick, which got everyone a little more excited about her. However I couldn't enjoy myself until I knew she was okay. 

The relief I felt after our anatomy scan at week 20 cannot be described - I was finally able to enjoy my pregnancy as much as one can enjoy a pregnancy, anyway. I'm pretty sure I'm the opposite of the glowy, happy pregnant chick - I just sweat and complain the entire time. And with the blessing of the high-risk doctor, I was able to start working out again - woohoo!

So now we move on to the workouts I did, with my doctor's blessing, while pregnant. 

I am not a personal trainer and this is just what worked for me. You need to speak with your doctor and get cleared before doing your own workouts/routines, whether pregnant or not. 

Unlike the rest of the time, I did not follow a workout schedule while pregnant - well, once I found out I was pregnant anyway. I seriously listened to my body and if I was too tired, I didn't workout. However for almost the entire second half of my pregnancy I did a mix of different workouts 3-4 times a week. 

First, I bought this workout, based entirely on the high ratings and number of reviews on Amazon. I did it fairly regularly for a few weeks, but started noticing that I was having a lot of hip pain and back pain during/after the workout. I ended up going through the 1 and 2 star reviews one day and found that a lot of people had the same issues with this workout, so I stopped doing it and felt better immediately . 

After stopping that workout I ended up buying this barre workout from Suzanne Bowen. I absolutely loved this workout and did it through my 39th week of pregnancy (the picture on the left is me after my workout while 39 weeks pregnant) and I also did it a few times postpartum. I would do these barre workout 2-3 times a week, again, just depending on how I was feeling. 

I absolutely loved doing barre workouts and actually did them (just not pregnancy-style) 3-4 days a week for about 6 months postpartum. I should probably start doing them again...what's another workout to add to my schedule, right?!

I also tried to do cardio on the regular while pregnant, incorporating both T25 and Turbofire workouts 1-2 times a week. Again, I'm not a beachbody coach - I just like their workouts. And yes, that is my 6.5 month pregnant self doing a kick of some sort while trying to look all cool and badass. I wasn't really feeling the cardio as often while pregnant, so I didn't do it as often as I usually do. That and all of the Oreos I ate are probably at least part of the reason I managed to pack on 40 pounds (oops). Oh and don't forget about the Christmas cookies. Oh, and the Publix chicken wings, which were my #1 craving...along with watermelon Sour Patch Kids. And blackberries with a heap of whipped cream...

I know a lot of people will walk for a workout while they're pregnant, but I honestly did not do a lot of walking. I had some sciatic nerve pain that would rear it's ugly head in my left ass cheek/lower back whenever I'd walk for any extended period of time. Plus, I was traumatized fairly early-on in my pregnancy by people at work making fun of me for waddling - probably around 5 months pregnant, way before I was actually waddling.

Moral of that story?

Don't comment on anything potentially negative to a pregnant woman. Don't do it. The only thing you should say is they are glowing and look much smaller than "X" months. Take this advice, my friends. 

Moral of my entire blog?

If you are feeling super weird and having issues with weight gain and nausea and are of a child-bearing age, take a pregnancy test. Even when the doctor says you won't be able to get pregnant. Just in case. 

Now I want to know from you, what's the worst thing someone said to you while you were pregnant? Everyone made it a point to tell me I was huge and looked tired as often as possible. Like daily. So that was fun.

Have you ever known anyone or experienced finding out about pregnancy as late as me? Please tell me this constant guilt will go away...? Or is feeling guilty and worried all the time just the whole being a mom thing?

Thanks for stopping by!