Thursday, May 9, 2013


I've been waiting a little while to write this blog post, because I needed the post-INSANITY feelings to set in. I wracked my body for over 60 days and I needed to see how I would feel after pushing myself 6 days a week (most weeks) and trying a new workout that I never thought I would do. So here it is, my thoughts on the ever so popular Insanity workout....

There are a few reasons why I've been avoiding writing about Insanity. 1) It's a workout that I did and honestly, who cares? (well, while I was in the throes of it, I cared. I cared a lot so that's why I am actually writing this post for all of you wanting to get some insight). 2) I was burnt out. It took over my life for over two months and for a while, it felt exhausting thinking about it let alone writing about it. 3) I wanted to be out of it for a bit to get back into a regular routine of varied workouts like I'm used to doing on a daily basis. You know, running, weight lifting, kickboxing, circuit training, etc. That way I would have a better view of how my body is feeling and working post-Insanity.

For those of you who haven't seen those ever so popular Insanity infomercials and didn't get sucked into the "before and after" photos like I did several times, I'll fill you in on what this workout, touted "the hardest workout ever put on DVD," is all about. It was created by Shaun T, a "fitness expert"/personal trainer who put together this high intensity program that is supposed to burn fat and increase strength and endurance. It uses various bodyweight exercises that usually focus on plyometric movements such as plyo-push-ups, jump-squats and power lunges. The first month, the workout is 3 sets of HIIT exercises, 3 minutes per set, twice. So you are doing 6 sets of HIIT exercises, with a few "recovery exercises" thrown in there as well (think dips and v-pushups). Each exercise lasts for 30 seconds. In between each set, you have 30 seconds of rest. The total time per workout for the first month is about 40 minutes. The second month, the workouts are about an hour long each and Shaun T bumps it up to 45 seconds per exercise.

In the infomercial and online advertisments, the workouts look nothing less than intimidating. People are seen dripping in sweat, working their butts off, and Shaun T is yelling into the television to "DIG DEEPER," (a common catch phrase of his he shouts at you each and every workout). The people behind the camera who claim to have lost several inches and dropped many pounds share that this workout is the hardest they've ever done. They are now "in the best shape of their lives!" Somehow, amidst the magic of television, I got pulled in, and decided that after the holidays were over and the hustle and bustle of that crazy time of year, I too was going to be in the best shape of my life!

I really decided to embark on this Insanity journey because I felt like I was in a bit of a workout rut. I create several workouts that I do with my clients daily but doing those workouts on my own bored me. I loved my weekly kickboxing class, my runs outside, and some fitness dvds I was cycling through, but I needed something different. I wanted to commit to something so I thought, why not. This Insanity thing would be an experiment of sorts. One I could experience for myself and then take to my clients and write about on this blog. So, Janurary 5th, I opened up my Insanity dvd package and started with the fit test.

The fit test is something you do every 2 weeks to see how you are progressing. It's a 25 minute workout with 8 different exercises you have to do for 1 minute each. The fit test left me gasping for breath. This was going to be hard, but I was excited to see where this would take me.

Off I went into month one of the workouts. They were hard. I hadn't pushed myself or been pushed this hard in a long while. After the first day of the first real workout, I was wiped.  I questioned what kind of workout this was going to be for me. I knew I would stick with it because that's just my nature, but I almost questioned whether it was healthy for me to do this or not. Now when I look back, I see that thought was silly. I just wasn't as conditioned for this workout yet. As time went on, I got more and more conditioned and the workouts became easier. Those days of feeling wiped after my workouts were over. It was pretty cool to feel myself adapting. But even though it was exciting to be progressing, I was annoyed that I had to stick to this workout program 6 days a week. Even with a small commitment of 40 minutes a day, I felt myself craving my kickboxing classes at the gym and lifting weights Also, my quads were so sore, I wondered if I shouldn't be giving them a bit of a rest. Some weeks, I didn't do the "Cardio Abs" workout you're supposed to add on to the "Pure Cardio" workout (even though every workout is cardio--come on!) because I was just done. My body was done and I didn't feel like doing another 20 minutes of work. I also thought the recovery day workout should have been a true recovery day--a day off to rest your muscles, not push it even more. Some weeks I did give myself a day off since I'm running around the city and demonstrating exercises with each client. My body felt pushed to the max and I thought it was smart to rest so my muscles could rebuild.

After month one, Shaun T grants you a "recovery week" in which you are still doing a workout every day, but it's less intense. In my recovery week I took a couple classes at the gym instead of doing the "Core Cardio and Balance" workout every day that you are supposed to do (every day? Really?). I expected the workouts at the gym to be beyond easy. If I was pushing myself this hard--harder than I had before--everything would feel like a breeze. But I made the mistake of taking a super hard boot camp class early in the week and things went down hill from there. I needed time to recover and get ready for month 2, but I didn't really give myself that time. The workouts I did at the gym were just as hard as before.

Month 2 starts with a bang. Now your workouts are about an hour long and instead of doing 2 circuts of 3 sets, you are doing 3. Ouch. But one thing I found refreshing, helpful, and different from month 1 was the opportunity for more recovery time throughout the hour. This is because Shaun T takes more time to demonstrate the exercises which gives you a bit more of a breather. The workout is harder, but I felt like I had these extra moments to recover that weren't offered to me in the first bundle of workouts. I still have to say though, I like just pushing through it and getting it over with. Shaun T consistently mentions that these workouts are about endurance, and with anything requiring more endurance, you need to take more time and bring down the intensity a bit. Oh it's still, there, don't you worry, but these workouts are just a bit less fast and furious than month 1.

So, I pushed through month two and when I was done, I was elated that it was over. Being finished meant that I wouldn't have to be chained to my television and my living room to workout anymore. I could hit the pavement, head to the gym, and maybe even a yoga studio whenever I wanted. Yay! So psyched! The first run I went on after I finished Insanity was not fun. In fact, I was pissed. I thought I was going to be "in the best shape of my life!" and since I had been pushing myself so hard in my workouts with Insanity, everything would be so easy! Nope. What I was doing was conditioning myself to do Insanity. Not to run. Not to weight lift. Not to do yoga. I mean, yes, I was in better shape than when I started. My fit test numbers had improved from day one (check out my Fit Test results at the end of the post if you're interested) and when I tried out some workouts from month 1 of Insanity, they were easier. But I was reminded that if you don't do a variety of work and you're just focusing on one type of workout, you really only condition yourself for that kind of workout. Insanity is definitely a workout that will get you in shape, but if you are the kind of person that likes to do a variety of activities, this workout is not for you. I do feel stronger in some ways. I do feel more conditioned in others. But now that I've had time to get back to running a couple times a week, lifting weights and getting to my kickboxing class, I feel more well rounded and happier.

As for my physique? Well, I'm not sure...I took before and after photos and comparing them side by side, I gotta say, the difference is kinda marginal. I think this is because I didn't follow the diet plan provided or really change too much about my diet. In fact, I don't think I was eating enough. I've realized recently through getting a Fitbit One (check it out here--it's kind of changed my life and I will be blogging about this next) I burn a lot more calories in a day than I thought I was burning. With my lifestyle as a traveling trainer, I'm moving a lot, thus burning a lot. By adding Insanity to the mix, I was pushing harder and burning more. I'm sure if I added more calories daily, I would have seen more of a change. After having some time off of Insanity, I've noticed that I'm digging my physique a bit more. Maybe this is because I am pushing myself harder in my interval workouts or I am more conditioned than I think? Not sure...

Nevertheless, that new knowledge isn't enough to have me go through the process again. As much as I do enjoy some of the workouts and still dig them out from time to time to add to my weekly routine, I don't want to do this program again. I'm just not a program kind of gal, even if Shaun T is kind of awesome. He really is! A great trainer and a great motivator in a very safe way. He's tough, yes, but he encourages you to take breaks if you aren't doing the exercises with proper form (VERY important). If you like programs and you have a good fitness base (beginners, this is NOT for you--I see injuries written all over this thing if you don't know what you're doing), give it a try. It will push you to your max and help you to see HIIT (high intensity interval training) in a new way. But, I also thought of it kind of like a diet program, and diets never work. It's the whole, "do this program in this exact way and if you do it perfectly, you'll see results!" So you do what you're told and you see the results but then when you are in your real life and not on the program anymore, you don't know what to do so you start going back to your old habits. The weight comes back on and before you know it, you are back where you started. Fitness needs to be a well rounded affair. You need to do a variety of things, eat a variety of things, and  be happy. There is no quick fix. Fitness is a lifestyle where you eat good food (meaning organic when you can, fruits, veggies, whole grains, natural kind of stuff), move a lot, and enjoy your life. You best think of it that way and BE WELL!


SWITCH KICKS:        Day 1--115  Day 63--152
POWER JACKS:         Day 1--56    Day 63--66
POWER KNEES:        Day 1--95    Day 63--116
POWER JUMPS:        Day 1--37    Day 63--54
GLOBE JUMPS:         Day 1--7     Day 63--12
SUICIDE JUMPS:       Day 1--18   Day 63--20
PUSH-UP JACKS:      Day1--26   Day 63--35
LOW PLANK OBLIQUE: Day 1--52 Day 63--90

Friday, February 8, 2013

Don't Let the Weather Get in Your Way!

Today I'm sitting in my apartment due to what, at this point, seems like nothing. There is talk of "Noreaster Nemo" heading our way, but all I see when I look out my window is a bit of rain. All of my clients canceled their sessions today because of kids at home due to school closures, early drives out of town to make, or forgotten gym clothes due to over preparation for what is forecasted to be a crazy weather day. Today is actually my day off from working out from the 6 days I put in on the Insanity program I'm currently doing, so trying to get a workout in for me on day like today isn't presenting an issue, but for many, workouts today will go to the wayside when the weather is this bad (they already have for my 5 clients scheduled for today). But hey there! They don't have to! The great thing about working out is that you don't need a gym or fancy equipment to get you in shape. Even a program like Insanity that touts being "the hardest fitness program ever put on DVD" doesn't use any equipment at all. I just throw my DVD in the player, clear away my coffee table and I'm ready to go. I've created a program that you can do at home with just your body weight that you can find here (it reads "outdoor workout" but you'll read that it can be done indoors as well). Or if you want to check out my Next Fitness Star submission that offers a different version of this workout, head to this amazing video. This workout can be done with no equipment at all and in 30 minutes if you have a small window of time between say, a child's nap time or conference calls. You can also check out my list of my favorite fitness DVD's to pop in for a great in-home workout here.
Don't you dare make excuses when the weather is bad and you can't get to the gym or out on the jogging trail! All you need is you when it comes to fitness. Rock it out with your workout and BE WELL!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Brace yourself for motivational speaking and Women's Health's Next Fitness Star

Today I entered myself in Women's Health's Next Fitness Star competition.  My boyfriend helped me create a video audition last night, and this morning I filled out my application. As I entered the different fields explaining why I should be the "Next Fitness Star," I did a bit of soul searching. The application asked me why I thought I should be named the Next Fitness Star. What made me think I should earn that title? It brought me back to why I started personal training, but more importantly, why I started Be Well, this blog you are currently reading and the business I now run myself.

The reason I started personal training is no real touching story. I got certified never really thinking I would use my NASM certification. It started out as a potentially safe job to fall back on so that I didn't have to waitress while I auditioned. To be totally honest, in a way, personal training is still that for me. I do enjoy being a trainer and more importantly, I love my clients, but counting reps and isn't what makes me like my job. Many of my clients have been working with me for years. They are amazing people who I am happy to know and spend a couple hours a week with every week. They are my true motivators when I'm struggling through a workout of my own as I remember how hard they push and how hard they work through every workout I take them through. My workouts aren't easy, and they really rock them out.
But I digress, like I was saying, the reason I started personal training wasn't because I really wanted to help people lose weight or help them fight through their personal struggles. A lot of the people I work with in NYC are pretty fit already. They really do take care of themselves and work with me to get that extra push or to help them keep an appointment for a workout because they live such busy lives. What matters more  is why I started Be Well because I have become that person who has wanted to help people lose weight and fight through personal struggles. Before I started, I never knew that this was part of what I was meant to do in this lifetime. Even if it's just for now.

I started writing Be Well because of some internal struggles I face and also what I noticed a lot of other people struggle with. And that struggle was not about losing weight, but truly feeling good in your own skin. I wanted to get the word out that being well is about creating a healthy lifestyle and to accept yourself as you are (something I still struggle with). It's not about constantly working to have those washboard abs with deprivation, but about the realization that being well is about being happy inside and out. To not compare and despair. To make being well a state of mind and a joy in life. I needed to write about this and get the word out, and that's what I really enjoy about being a trainer.

So to come full circle, the reason I want to be the the Next Fitness Star is to get the idea out there that being well is not just working out and dieting, but to truly make it a state of mind. I learned through this job that I pretty much fell into. I learned that I am passionate about living and loving life in a healthy and balanced way. I love this part of my life and I love sharing reasons to be healthy and tips to make it happen. I'm not perfect, and I want to get the word out there that it's okay not to be.

I surprise myself constantly with the things my body is capable of doing that I never thought it would be. I never thought I would run a 5k,10k, two half marathons, workout 6 days a week, get through the Insanity workout (as I write this, I'm almost halfway through the program!) like I'm doing now. I feel proud that I have become as strong as I am and know I can motivate others to push just as hard.

Being well is: Lacing up your sneakers because you want to feel good and live longer; making your diet about eating well and eating happy; eating good for you foods daily and to cheat too; enjoying your glass(es) of wine and chocolate without beating yourself up for it the next day; LIVING YOUR LIFE! LOVING your life! What is this life about if we don't enjoy it? What is this life about if all we are doing is worrying about what the scale reads or how many calories you have eaten? Yes, it's important to enjoy in moderation, but the key word there is to ENJOY. Not to deprive. All in all, get your workout in to make your heart work better, achieve a goal, and make your body feel great by reaping the rewards of your hard work. If you want washboard abs, there's no shame in that, but don't become a miserable person because of it. If you love food, eat it but don't go overboard! Don't fill your body with crap (processed foods like cheetos and cookies that can stay "fresh" on the shelf for years) every day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Year of Success: Part Deux

If you know me, you know that I don't make resolutions, I make a new years theme. It's an overarching idea to live by to keep me going throughout the year, rather than something small that I know will only hold steadfast for maybe a month or two. For example, instead of making a resolution such as "in 2013, I will lose 5 pounds" my theme is "2013: The Year of Success." In fact, that was my theme last year. I wanted 2012 to be the year of success. I wanted it to be the year I became what I had been putting out into the universe for so long. I wanted to achieve all of my wildest dreams and put the drive I had been sitting on for so long into action. But now when I look back when hindsight is 20/20, I realize I needed to get rid of all of the stuff that was holding me back to truly make my life successful in a way that I felt good about. I wasn't ready to be as successful in all areas of my life in the way I know I can be, because I had to clear the old to make way for the new.  So, now 2012 has become the "Year of Closure" and 2013 has turned into "The Year of Success: Part Deux."

Remember how the world was supposed to end according to the Mayans this December? Of course you do! I really think a part of it did end for a lot of people. I know it did for me. I have been in this 6 year cycle where I have been learning, I've been humbled, and I've grown. I believe that 2012 was the end of the shoveling crap phase of my life, and now it's time for me to bloom. It's time for success. And it's time for joy!  I have a feeling that the Mayans knew what they were going for when the calendar ended and it didn't involve meteorite showers or giant locusts taking us away--they saw it as a time of the death of the current collective subconscious and a time for rebirth in 2013. Or they were just tired and 2012 seemed as good a time as any to shut calendar counting down. Either way, I'm feeling refreshed and renewed this year, coincidence or not.

As far as my fitness goes, I just started doing the INSANITY workout plan and I cut out alcohol for the entire month of January.  I'm already feeling a little slimmer and a more fit with each day that passes. Even if it's just mental, that's all I need for now! In the non-fitness parts of my life, I have decided to really push the acting part of my career and give it one more go to commit to making my dreams come true. My 2011 theme, "Year Without Fear" is still kicking in the background and I'm making strides where I haven't before. I challenge you to do the same. If you can't think of a theme of your own, take mine and make 2013 the most successful one yet. Try a new workout program; cut crap from your diet that you know isn't doing you any favors; add more nutritious foods into your diet to help your body work better; and as cheesy as it sounds, believe in yourself to make the changes you haven't made due to fear, insecurity, or whatever else, so that you can be a better you. But most of all, BE WELL!