Daily HIIT/Bodyrock.tv Catching Fire 30 Day Challenge: The Entire Challenge & My Results

Bodyrock/The Daily HIIT recently made a 30-day real-time challenge of 12 minute daily workouts.  I volunteered to write about each day as a way to stay accountable.  This long post is a summary of my results, a link to the entire challenge, and all of my articles related to the challenge.  My articles detail the workout, but also any modifications I did.  Since I did most of the workouts during my lunch break, I had to convert many exercises to bodyweight-only, ot dumbbell-only.  If you are a beginner or don’t have the equipment they promote, check out my articles for substitution ideas.

DAY 30
Workout Breakdown
What you Need:
> Timer (or just follow the video)
>  (I used a set of 8 lb dumbbells)
>  (I substituted lying leg lifts)
30 Seconds of work + 10 Seconds of rest
Set your timer for 18 rounds (3 rounds of 5 exercises = 15, + 3 30 second plank holds = 18 timer rounds)
1)  I did a squat with shoulder press then a squat with tricep press 10 – 11 – 10
2)  Lying Leg Lifts 13 – 12 – 12
3) Around the World Planks (didn’t count)
4) Long Jumps 10 – 10 – 10
5)  Dumbbell Swings 18 – 16 – 17
PLUS 30 hold of:
Side Plank LT
Side Plank RT
Followed with 12 minutes of 10 sec rest/20 sec work interval jump rope
I signed up to blog about the challenge so that I would have an extra push to complete my workouts on time.  I can honestly say that I only missed one workout, & that was due to whiplash after a car accident.  I also added quite a few bonus workouts.  
Diet-wise, I mostly ate clean, but I didn’t carefully watch portions.  As much as I would love to be strict about portions, every single time that I am, my milk supply significantly drops (I breastfeed my son).  I know where I need to make improvements, and fully intend to follow through on those areas when I can.
Take my case as evidence that working out will only take you so far – abs ARE made in the kitchen, and in my case portion sizes are what need to be modified.
Here’s my progress from pre-baby through pregnancy to Day 15:

Here’s my progress from Day 1- Day 30:

I know my pictures do not look very different, but I am stronger, have more energy, and my pants feel looser than they did Jan 15th.  While I don’t look like my pre-baby picture yet , overall I am happy with my results.  They are not dramatic, but I have reestablished healthy habits which over time will yield the result I want.
I’m going to miss having a real time workout with a typed breakdown delivered to my inbox daily!   
I’m going to keep doing Bodyrock/Daily HIIT workouts, jumping rope, and eating cleanly.  Why stop just because the challenge is over?  I can repeat the same challenge, try another one (like Lisa’s longer real time challenge from last year), or pick from the hundreds of workouts available on the websites.
Here is the entire 30 Day Catching Fire Challenge on Bodyrock.tv

Here are all of my articles.  Most detail the workout breakdown, have a video link, & detail substitutions.   A few posts have recipes, & a few include workouts I made up throughout the challenge:
Day 1 – Not So Bad! (Includes a bonus workout)
Day 2 – 18 Awesome Minutes
Day 3-6 – Quick & Effective
Day 7 – Make It Work
Day 8 – Total Body Workout/Massacre
Day 9 – REST DAY – What Rest?  No Rest For the Wicked Alternative Workout
Day 10 – Holy Sh*t Rita!
Day 11 – My Poor, Poor Legs
Day 12 – REST DAY = Quinoa & Turkey Stuffed Peppers
Day 13 – Make It Count
Day 14 & 15 – Halfway Done & 1 Year After Baby
Day 16 – To Rest, or to Build a Better Booty?
Day 17 – Workouts & Whiplash Don’t Mix
Day 18 – An awesome Workout & a Vegetable Quinoa Recipe
Day 19 – REST DAY
Day 20 – A Dip Station-Free Version
Day 21 & 22 – I [heart] My Sandbag
Day 23 – REST DAY
Day 24 – No Equipment (again)!
Day 25 – Give It a Fair Chance
Day 26 – REST DAY
Day 27 -Shoulder Death
Day 28 – Yoga & a 10 Minute Bonus Workout
Day 29 -Awesome Oblique Burn
Day 30 – The End

I hope you love the challenge as much as I did.  Thanks Bodyrock Team!

This was written for the Daily HIIT.  See the original article here.

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11 Ways To Squeeze Activity Into Your Busy Day

We all have days that it seems impossible to do a legitimate workout.  Let’s be honest: after my son was born, I had too many days like that.  I got into the habit of sneaking in little bits of activity so that at the end of the day I felt like I did something good for myself.
Here are my favorite no-time fitness tricks:
At home:
1.       Do this as many times as you can throughout the day: 10 (jump) squats + 10 push ups with side plank twist + 10 lying leg lift butt lifts.  This little round only takes me 1 min & 20 sec.  I usually do this before a shower, before brushing my teeth, or before bed on days I don’t have time for a workout.
2.      While standing at the sink washing dishes do calf raises &  leg lifts for glutes (posterior and side lifts).
3.     Before bed: side lying leg lifts for glutes.  See this video for a demonstration.
4.     Walk to run errands if you live in a walk-able neighborhood.
5.     Do 1 round of a 12 minute HIIT workout.  12 minutes may seem like too much, but 4 min is doable!  Maybe you can do the other rounds throughout the day.
At work:
1.       Park a bit further away from your workplace.
2.      Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  At the top of the stairs, do standing leg lifts (side, back) & calf raises.
3.     Walk briskly everywhere.
4.     Do 10 squats each time you go to the bathroom.
5.     Do 10 tricep dips off your desk or chair when you return from going somewhere.
6.     If you don’t pack a lunch, walk to a restaurant & take the longest route you can without returning late.
7.     Workout on your lunch break if you have enough time (my favorite).
8.     Can’t do a HIIT workout at lunch?  Go for a walk &/or climb stairs.  I did that when I was a student & kept in shape, and my classmate lost 40 pounds!  Our routine was 3-4 rounds of 11 floors of stairs M/W/F, walk 1-2 miles around the hospital T/Th.  We did that in 30 minutes each day, so had enough time to eat.
9.     Focus on engaging your core (transverse abs) as much as possible throughout the day.
What works well for me may not work for everyone, so please share your ideas!  What are your stay-fit tricks when you have a day too busy to workout?

Article written for the Daily HIIT.  Original article can be found here.
Image credit: http://srxawordonhealth.com/2011/05/16/multitasking-as-a-diagnostic-tool/
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I’m sure that title may not sit well with some people.  Stick with me, I don’t intend to be offensive.
I work in radiation oncology.  I have met countless patients in the midst of cancer treatment. While I no longer provide direct patient care, I still hear stories. I see their faces. I will always carry the lessons I have learned from the people I’ve been fortunate to treat. Working in a field where you are surrounded by people fighting for more time and/or less pain has completely changed me. The lens through which I view the world is permanently different. Issues that many people get angry over or fixate on seem trivial to me. Most arguments I see as a waste of time.

Many of us, including me, operate with the assumption that we have a long life ahead of us. We take our health, our most valuable asset, for granted. When illness or injury befall us, that false sense of security vanishes like a raindrop in the ocean. We then see just how valuable health is.

We are born. We die. Our expiration date is not known.
This brings me to the title of this post: self loathing is a luxury. I do not equate depression and self loathing. Depression is a real debilitating disorder. I am referring to healthy people who constantly criticize themselves. They hate their thighs, smile, stomach, perceived inabilities, hair, etc.
If you have a body to hate, you are much more fortunate than those who have lost use of body parts, capabilities, time, or their lives due to injury or illness.
Am I suggesting that you shouldn’t try to improve yourself?  Of course not.  But please, stop the inner dialogue that tells you aren’t smart, pretty, handsome, tall, short, fit, capable, whatever, as you “should” be.  Strive to be your best version of you, but embrace your weaknesses. Self acceptance may enable you to enjoy your life more. You may find that you see opportunity where once you saw closed doors.
My middle school had a motto that I found stupid at the time, but now appreciate. “Attitude is Everything.”  Life, and fitness, are filled with set-backs and disappointments, but we have the power to change our experiences by choosing how we react.
Here is an exercise that may help you recognize your own unconscious negativity:

Week 1: Do not say anything negative AT ALL. You can think it, but do not say it.
Week 2: Same, but consciously find something positive about negative experiences.
Week 3: Same, but share your positive observations with others.
Week 4: Same, but in conversation, discourage negativity in others by not engaging them if they berate themselves.
Within a few weeks, you may realize how hard you are on yourself, and you will quickly see negativity in others, too. I can’t put in words how helpful this technique has been for me.
What are some of the ways you have held yourself back? Are you willing to step out of your own way so that you can enjoy your life? What are some techniques you have used to squelch negativity?
Time is too valuable to squander via self hatred. Life is just too precious, and too short.

You might like this other post I wrote: What Defines You?

This article was written for the Daily HIIT.  The original article can be found here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a mental health professional, and don’t claim to have “the answers.” I’m just sharing what I’ve learned from my former patients with the hope that it might improve someone else’s life as much as it has mine.

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No Pants Subway Ride…WHAT??? Thoughts & a Workout

As I’m flying across the country, I am reading the airline’s magazine, Hemispheres. In the January 2014 edition, page 76 lists some off-the-beaten-path activities for the year. First up for January? No Pants Subway Ride in New York City. 

Am I the only person who has never heard of this??? Apparently this event has been around since 2002 in NYC, and is now carried out in multiple cities worldwide. It just happened Jan 12, 2014 (damn….) So what happens? Transit users hop aboard sans pants and do their best to act normally. The only rule is that participants must wear underwear.
My initial thoughts:

1. I would never join this tradition, but if I did, I would have to stand for the entire ride. How could you possibly want to sit, ever again, knowing that all those undie-only clad booties made direct contact with the seat? I used to ride the train to work. On more than one occasion some random drunk guy sat on me, mistaking my lap for a seat. A pant-less version of that would have made me vomit, or punch someone.

2. It would be like walking among Bodyrockers if everyone was fit….half naked people in their skivvies everywhere you look.

3. If I made eye contact with anyone, I would bust out laughing.

4. January in NYC without pants?? I can’t imagine being scarf-less in that weather, let alone pant-less.

5. Do people workout more ahead of time, knowing their lower halves will be bare for all subway-goers to see?

6. Modesty and hygiene aside, it sounds like silly fun.

Have you heard of, or better yet, participated in one of these events? If you did participate, was it a one-time thing, or do you look forward to it annually? Did you make friends? Did a drunk guy sit on you (I hope I’m not alone in that club). I wonder how many people get dates out of it….
Please share your pant-less subway stories!!
Here’s a quick lower body workout with cardio to get you ready for the big day next year:
Set your timer for: 10 sec rest/50 sec work
7 exercises per round = 7 min per round.
Aim for a minimum of 2 rounds, but do 3-4 if you can.
Equipment: timer, jump rope (both optional….find a free timer here, and sub other cardio for jump rope if you need to)
Make sure to warm up and cool down.

Written for the Daily Hiit; the original article can be found here.
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What Defines You?

Too long ago, 16 year old me was showing off my awesome hunter-green satin and velvet prom dress with rhinestone spaghetti straps to my Grandma.  I thought I looked DAMN GOOD.  When I asked what she thought of my dress, she said something complimentary, followed by a line I have grown to love over time:
“We are all young and pretty once.”
Think about that for a moment.  No matter what your age is, you will never be younger than you are now.  You may favorably weather the storm of time, but time will not leave you physically unchanged (even if you have procedures to slow it’s effects).

Grandma wasn’t trying to bring me down; she was trying to prevent me from having an over-inflated ego based on my appearance.  The values that she and others instilled taught me that me nobody’s worth is defined by their physical appearance.  Beauty fades (and can be overshadowed by narcissism).  Health deteriorates.  The beauty industry is not to be trusted.  Do your best to improve upon or maintain what you have, but don’t let your appearance define who you are.  Certainly don’t judge others by their appearance alone.  Our character is what defines us, not our looks.
Have you heard of Lizzie Velasquez?  She was born with an unknown syndrome that only one other person EVER has been known to have.  She can’t gain weight, has noticeable physical abnormalities, and can only see out of one eye.  Her parents raised her as though she didn’t have the syndrome.  She didn’t realize that she was different from other kids until she went to kindergarten, where the other kids didn’t want to play with her.  Of course that was terrible for Lizzie.  Rather than pity her situation, her parents told her that the only difference between her and the other kids was that she was smaller.  Her syndrome did not define her.
“Go to school, pick your head up, smile, continue to be yourself, and people will see that you’re just like them.”
Lizzie did that, but she had a really hard time growing up.  She thought her physical appearance was largely who she was, and she hated her appearance.  Every day she prayed to wake up without the syndrome and to look normal.  Everyday she woke up disappointed.
Lizzie is fortunate to have an amazing family.  They were supportive, but taught her that her life is her responsibility, and that she had to define herself in a non-physical way.

On YouTube, a video was posted with pictures of her, where the poster called her the “Ugliest Woman in the World.”  Commentators said exceptionally cruel things, including a suggestion that she kill herself.
Can you imagine telling a person to KILL THEMSELVES over their appearance?  Can you imagine if someone said that to you?
Of course, the video hurt her. But rather than crawl in a hole, she turned it into an opportunity.  She completed college, became a motivational speaker and is a published author.  She recently gave a speech at the Ted conference in Austin, which motivated me to write this post.

We can all learn from Lizzie.  Rather than focus on our weaknesses or failures, let’s look at what we have and be grateful for that.  Let’s use our strengths to define us and to steer our lives.  We can lead healthy lifestyles while being compassionate and caring.  Wouldn’t you want to be treated that way?  Let’s teach our children the same through our actions rather than our words.  What could be more beautiful than that?
What are some of the negatives in your life that you have thrived in spite of?  What are the things holding you back now?  Do you let those negatives define who you are?
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn’d,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv’d;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv’d:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead
–William Shakespeare, Sonnet 104
Here’s a quick workout to attempt to slow the effect of time on our muscles.  One round took me about 11 minutes.  I did 2 rounds.

Written for The Daily HIIT, original article can be found here.

(Source: “How Do You Define Yourself?” Lizzie Velasquez at the Ted Conference, Austin TX)
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Step away from the bike. Put Down the Rice Cake. 11 Health & Fitness Lessons I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

I have loved to do cardio-based workouts since I was a little kid.  As a child I used to hop on my Grandma’s stationary bike & would mimic my Mom doing her Kathy Smith aerobic videos.  In high school I ran around my neighborhood, swam, & did other cardio.  Sometimes I did those things AFTER tennis or swim practice.  If I could step in a time machine & tell young me a few health & fitness related things, this is what they would be:

1. Do body-weight exercises to build strength. Push-ups, squats, & lunges…you know, all the stuff you hate doing in PE.  Mrs. Ruderman is right: that’s what will get you into bikini shape.  Your hour long session on Mom’s Nordic Track followed by a jog in the park won’t build muscle. You need a mix of exercises, not just cardio.

2. Mrs Ruderman [high school gym teacher] is right.  All the exercises you do in PE are what adults pay someone to tell them to do when they are older.
3. Muscle is your friend, & it won’t make you look like a boy.
4. Balance all meals and snacks so they include a healthy ratio of fat, carbohydrate, & protein.  A packet of saltines & an apple are hardly the right thing to eat before a swim meet.  A chimichanga and churro from the school lunch cart are terrible options, too (how the hell were you so skinny?).
5. Low-fat high-carbohydrate meals are NOT what’s best for you.  Remember what I just said about balancing meals?  Eating healthy fats in moderation is GOOD for you.  Stop avoiding butter and oil.  Put a little cheese on the whole-wheat broccoli pizza that you made for your family.  Tell your family you love them for eating the pizza, too.  The only reason they tried that scary creation was because they love you.
6. Stop obsessing over the number on the scale.  Instead, focus on how you feel & how your body looks.  Do you feel strong & energetic?  How is your skin?
7. Don’t be intimidated by weight machines at the gym.  Ask for help if you aren’t sure how a machine works.  The people who work at the gym are PAID to help you.
8. Stop thinking that everyone is critiquing your every move.  99.9% of the people who you are worried about are not paying attention to you. They are thinking about other things, or worrying that everyone is critiquing them.  Listen to “Wasting Time” by Jack Johnson.  Wait, it hasn’t been written yet.  Memorize these lyrics:
But everybody thinks that everybody knows
About everybody else but nobody knows
Anything about themselves
Because they’re all worried about everybody else
(Jack Johnson – Wasting Time Lyrics | MetroLyrics)
9. Stop drinking water from plastic bottles you left in the car on hot days.
10. Stop telling everyone how bad their health habits are.  It’s annoying, & you aren’t an expert.
11. In a few years you will want to make “healthy” chocolate chip cookies to give as Christmas treats.  Just make real cookies.  Don’t poison your friends & family with sucralose.  Don’t give them applesauce cookies.  When people want a chocolate chip cookie, they don’t want a healthy fake.  On that note, stop eating things with fake sugar.
I could go on, but who has hours and hours to kill?  Not me, and probably not you, either.  What have you learned that you wish you could tell your younger self?
Here’s a quick body-weight routine that my high school gym teacher would approve of:
1 round =

30 push ups
30 squats
30 tricep dips
30 1 lying leg lift + 1 butt lift (lower abs lift)
20 forward-backward lunges per leg (1 rep = 1 forward lunge + 1 backward lunge)
30 reptiles
15 side crunches per side
4 min 10 sec rest/20 sec work jump rope or jumping jacks

Do as many rounds as you would like, then do 1 more!
PS – Nice outfit, Young Me. I especially love your slippers.
This article was originally posted on The Daily Hiit & can be found here.

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#SnowDayChallenge: Lower Body Blast

The Daily HIIT challenged us bloggers to come up with quick, body-weight only workouts that can be done at home.  I’m not snowed in, but if you are, or are looking for a great at-home workout, give this a try!

Written for The Daily HIIT; my original article can be found here.

Thank you for leaving a comment, if you choose to.  I read each one, & genuinely appreciate your feedback!  
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