Work In Progress: Part 1 – Exercise

I am a work in progress, and I always will be. Because if you’re not growing, you’re dying, right? But we all go through periods of growth and periods of stagnation. Up until a couple months ago, I’d been stagnant for quite a while, complacent with my lack of exercise and good nutrition and resigned to the fact that I’d never have the body of a 20-year-old again.

I’ve always been a teensy bit obsessive about my weight (aren’t we all?). I’ve been exercising since I was 14 years old. At 16, I started teaching aerobics, and continued off and on into college. But whether I was teaching or not, I was always working out, whether it be lifting weights in the gym, taking aerobics classes, or doing workout DVDs at home. During my first pregnancy, I did step aerobics through my 8th month, until my body just couldn’t handle it any more.

But of course, once the kids came along, exercise took a bit of a back seat to everything else. Oh, I’d have periods of motivation where I’d work out for a while, lose 10 lbs or so, and then stop working out and gain it all back again. Familiar story, yes?

But then something magical happened. I got the one thing I needed to get started — motivation. Nature Boy was invited to go to Puerto Rico in early May for work, and he asked me to tag along. My immediate thought upon hearing the news of our impending trip was, “I’d better lose some weight, because I’m in no condition for a swimsuit right now!”

I immediately went to to look for a new workout program. Nature Boy and I had done P90X before our wedding, and I also have many other Beachbody programs. I’ve always loved their stuff. (And no, I’m not a Beachbody coach, nor am I being paid to write nice things about them).

The program I ended up choosing was ChaLEAN Extreme. I’d done Turbo Jam (Chalene’s kickboxing workout), but this was something completely different. It looked tough, and that’s what I needed. The ChaLEAN Extreme program is based on the principle that muscle burns fat, so the more muscle you have, the more fat/calories you’ll burn at all times. Hey, works for me.

It’s been a little over five weeks, and I am loving this program. First of all, most of the workouts are short, at about 35 minutes each, so it’s easy to fit them into my day. Also, it’s a five-days-a-week program, so I get TWO rest days. With P90X the workouts were a minimum of an hour long (sometimes 90 minutes!), and workouts were scheduled for six days a week.

Like P90X, this is a 90-day program. The first month is called the Burn Phase. During this phase, the goal for the strength workouts is to achieve muscle failure between 10-12 reps. Meaning, I physically can’t do any more. In this phase, each exercise combines upper and lower body conditioning. So, I may be doing a squat while at the same time doing a shoulder press, or a lunge with biceps curls, etc. This not only maximizes my time, but it gets my heart rate up as well. Cardio bonus! Also, the reps are all done verrrrry slowwwwwly, which makes it almost impossible to cheat, and also makes it deliciously excruciating.

There are three different strength workouts during the week, staggered with two days of cardio/abs/stretching. All of the workouts are super tough, so even though my workouts are short, I feel like I’m working at my max the whole time.

I made it through the first month, and now I’m in the Push Phase. There are two main differences in this phase. First, the goal is to fail between 6-8 reps instead of 10-12. This means lifting much heavier weight than last month. Also, the exercises are designed for a single muscle or set of muscles rather than working upper and lower body together. So, I might do a set of squats, and then move on to a chest press, then a shoulder raise, etc. And again, the reps are super slow and torturous. This phase uses three new strength workouts, but the cardio/stretching/abs workouts are the same, except mid-month I’m moving from the regular ab routine to the “Extreme Abs”. Yikes.

In last night’s workout, the lightest set of dumbbells I used were 20 pounds each, which totally surprised me. But when you only have to do 6-8 reps, you can go heavier than you think, which is a real confidence builder.

Also, I’m doing Bikram yoga at least once a week, which is pure insanity, but it helps to keep my muscles nice and stretchy, and also helps to detoxify my body. Plus it’s really a really intense cardio workout. (All in 90 short minutes of 105 degree heat! Whee!)

So, how am I doing so far? I’ve lost nine pounds, and my clothes are a whole lot looser. I didn’t measure at the beginning, so I can’t tell you how many inches I’ve lost. But I’m only 5’2″, so for me nine pounds is a lot. However, I don’t expect to see the number on the scale go down a whole lot this month, because I’ll be adding muscle, which as I’m sure you know, weighs a hell of a lot more than fat. But hopefully I’ll keep losing fat, and lots of it. Ultimately I don’t know what my goal weight will be. It could be as much as ten more pounds, but that may be too much. I’ll know when I get there.

Now, of course there’s more to losing weight than exercise alone. There’s that pesky little nutrition element to address, too. But that’s Part 2.

So tell me, are you currently exercising? If so, what are you doing? If not, do you want to? Do you need a kick in the pants to get motivated? My foot is ready and willing. 😉



  1. Posted March 16, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I just got like a little tired READING this and dude, I am on the COUCH.

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Thanks!! And I do plenty of couch time. It’s my reward after I exercise. Hubby and I are trying to get through all the seasons of Lost before the last season is over. Started with season 1 a few weeks ago and now we’re almost to season 4!

  2. Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Great stuff! I have completely stopped exercising, with my pregnancy, but I should probably get into some gentle stuff now that the morning sickness has worn off.
    Either that or I sit on my fat ass until I’m done breastfeeding. Yeah, that’ll be it.

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Yes, that was me during pregnancy #2. I sat on my fat ass the whole time and gained 50 lbs! But I only breastfed for 4 weeks because my son was lactose intolerant, so I didn’t get all the good weight loss from it. My sister and my best friend both have been breastfeeding for a long time, and they say it’s the absolute best at keeping them thin!

  3. AZ Colleen
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Rock on lady! Nothing like the threat of a bathing suit to get ones rear in gear. 🙂

    Currently, I need a swift kick. I’m coming off a back injury and thanks to steroid injections I’m about 20 pounds heavier than what I’m comfortable with. My issue is that I am limited to what I can do still and what I can do is seriously boring. Have to figure something out though (short of not eating) – bathing suit season in Phoenix is almost here!

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      I hear you on the back problems! I’ve been having chronic pain for over 15 years now. And I’ve had those lovely steroid injections as well. So, how long will you be limited to what you can do?

  4. Ellen Huffman
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I will have to look into those workouts. I was doing Jillian Michaels for awhile but then life started getting crazy & I stopped working out. Now it’s the middle of tax season and I don’t have the time! I need to make the time I know….but I can’t figure out when! I’m going to look into those workouts….and wait for the swift kick from you!!!

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      I did Jillian for a while too, but never really got that into it. Yeah, it must be really tough during tax season. Maybe just wait until afterwards and start then. Getting started is the hardest part!!

  5. Nature Boy
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Let me just compliment you on how great you have been doing! You’re so disciplined and I’ve very proud of you. You look awesome too!! 🙂

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Aww, thanks honey! That means the world coming from you!!

  6. Posted March 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I definitely need a kick in the butt to exercise – hence the signing up for not one, but TWO 5k races this spring/summer. And I broke my treadmill yesterday. I did actually get my butt out of bed this morning at 5 AM and ran outside. In the dark. Until I got lost (the neighboring subdivision looks different in the dark). And I was dying of thirst. And my earbud kept coming out. That husband of mine better get that treadmill fixed!

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      That is so awesome. I’d do those races with you, but I hate running. And be careful out there in the dark! Sheesh! Get that hubby of yours on the ball! 😉

  7. Posted March 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on finding something you like and on achieving success. I still have yet to try yoga – but I am 3 days a week with my trainer doing serious weights and strength training and I love it! Keep up the excellent work.

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 22, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Thanks! That is so great that you’re working with a trainer. I remember you writing about that. You need to tell us some horror stories. 😉

  8. Posted April 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    About a year ago I decided to get into better shape. I’ve been doing pilates once a week and going out for a run once a week. I love it! I feel a lot more flexible and am starting to actually gain muscle. 🙂

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted April 29, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      That’s awesome! I love pilates, but haven’t done it in a while. Running, however, is not my strong suit!

  9. Posted May 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Intense! Not everyone is as determined as you are to get fit and lose weight. Most people just do one type of exercise program, What you did proves you do achieve the desired results fast when you do the workout routines seriously. Thanks for sharing!

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  1. […] in Progress: Part 2 – Diet and Nutrition In Part 1, I wrote about my new exercise program, which I am still doing faithfully and loving it! But in […]

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