The most popular post on STACKED in our history is not about books or reading or teenagers.
That post, written a little over 3 years ago, reviewed the workout and offered my tips and tricks doing it. Since then, I haven’t written an update nor have I followed up with the video and my thoughts on it now. I’ve been asked to give a follow-up, so it’s time.
I should note this: I haven’t done the 30 Day Shred regularly in close to a year. And it’s not because I think it’s a worthless program. The opposite is true — it’s because of commitment to the 30 Day Shred that I made a complete lifestyle overhaul when it comes to fitness and working out. I’ll still pull out this stand by periodically to do a workout, but I have added new workout routines into my regime, and I’ve changed up the ways I’m doing things.
I talked earlier this year about struggling with depression. One of the things I learned while being treated for it was that I had put myself into a really unhealthy place with my diet. Where many people would, without hesitation, look at a woman my size and think she’s fat because she eats too much, my problem was the opposite — I wasn’t eating enough. My body was holding on to weight and fat because I wasn’t giving it enough. You cannot succeed at weight loss if you restrict your eating too much. Three meals a day, composed primarily of vegetables and vegetable-based foods, is not enough calories, even if it’s packed with enough vitamins and minerals. Following that discovery, I upped my eating, focusing primarily on consuming more protein. I don’t eat red meat and never had, so much of this change came through incorporating more protein bars (with no sugar, a thing that’s difficult to find) and drinking a protein-powder shake daily. These two things I was told would be best done immediately following a workout, since my body was using so much energy in a high-powered workout.
What does this have to do with The Shred? Well, it’s learning about how working out as hard as I do, especially as a larger-than-average woman, does have some considerations to keep in mind. It’s learning that my body requires some different things than others might. And it’s to say that what you see on the outside is not necessarily at all what’s going on internally. I am quite fit and I am quite healthy, but I have food-related issues I’m working on that counter the fat-people-need-to-control-their-eating narrative popular in our world, and there are potentially underlying metabolic issues keeping me from losing weight, despite how well I eat and work out.
I’m doing Jillian Michaels’s Fast Fix Kickboxing DVD 3-4 times a week now. Structured like The Shred, there are three levels, with multiple circuits each. The circuit lengths vary a bit, with some running through six different exercises and others just three. But the workout is a 25-minute ass kick. The first level is a complete cardio workout, the second level is a lower-body workout, and the third level is ab-focused. All three deliver a hard workout, but every time I get through one, I feel incredible. I feel strong and solid and powerful — exactly what you’d want to feel after kickboxing. Jillian, as we know, isn’t easy and she doesn’t take shortcuts. But that’s why it’s so effective and leaves me feeling the way it does. I love this workout to bits and pieces and would recommend it. Though fair warning: it can be a bit confusing and disorienting for those unfamiliar with kickboxing. You’ll feel uncoordinated and like you’re doing things backwards. This is normal, and you’ll eventually get the hang of it if you stick with it. Those with any injuries who can’t do a lot of jumping or kicking would be best to avoid this one, since it is a lot of movement. Level three includes a modified burpee, to give some idea of what intensity of jumping is involved.
When I was working through The Shred, I upped my hand weights from 2-pounds to 3-pounds to 4-pounds. I worked my way up to a total of 6-pounds in each hand, which I thought was incredible process. The kickboxing workout uses hand weights only in the first workout, and I started in with 6-pounds and would easily go up to a higher weight, if I had a second hand weight that was larger. It’s on my to-do list, but going to 8 seems really manageable. My strength has improved tremendously, and doing things like standard push-ups now are easy enough. Same with planks. They might not be enjoyable, but doing them doesn’t kill me like it once did.
But it’s not just kickboxing that I do now. Last fall, right before my birthday, I did my first ever 5K. I walked it, since I can’t run due to previous ankle injuries, and so part of my workouts then began incorporating long walks many times a week. On days I didn’t do a DVD, I would walk. And I have signed up for another 5K this fall to keep this part of endurance up. Incorporating a challenge like a 5K keeps me going.
In addition to those two cardio-based workouts, I also have included some kettle bell strength work and a resistance band workout — both of which I do through Fitness Blender, a free series of workouts online. For anyone who wants to start working out and doesn’t know where to begin or what might work for them, I cannot recommend Fitness Blender enough. You can try out a ton of things and get a fabulous workout. It’s not as tough or as intense as Jillian, but sometimes you don’t need that or want that.
I aim to work out 6 days a week, though I consider 4 or 5 days a week a complete success, too. I really listen to my body on this one: when I am hurting, I don’t work out. When I am feeling spent or am mentally depleted, I don’t work out. If I know I haven’t eaten enough to get through a workout and won’t re-up on eating after, I don’t do it. Some days, all I want is a quick walk and other days, I know I need to get in a sweaty kickboxing session. Sometimes, I need to take three days off in a row and not beat myself up about it because I know when I go back to working out on day four, I will be more present and get more out of it.
Learning how to work out with The Shred and having a dedicated, focused regimen helped me discover that I really LIKE working out. I function better in all regards when I work out, and I find myself eager and excited to try new work outs. I like challenging myself and seeing how hard or far I can go — on vacation last week, I walked an average of 5 to 10 miles PER DAY around Toronto. It was amazing to know I did that without dying and it was amazing knowing that all of my hard work paid off to allow me to do that.
In terms of physique, I have definitely toned. Because of previously mentioned challenges, losing weight for me is incredible difficult. But I see great definition in my shoulders and traps (an area that, I learned, I have to work on untangling and stretching since it’s where I carry all of my stress). I can see definition in my abs, especially my lower abs. And my legs? They are rock solid muscle. I’ve always liked my legs, but now I really love them because they look good, they feel good, and they can take a hell of a work out.
I may no longer be doing The Shred, but it’s 100% thanks to doing it that I found working out to be an enjoyable, worthwhile part of my life. I learned by doing it that I can work hard and succeed, and that my body isn’t an object to conquer but rather an amazing tool to work with. Doing The Shred helped me mentally so much that it was certainly part of the reason I found the bravery to seek help for a serious mental health issue I wasn’t taking seriously. It was also part of why I got help for other challenges when I wasn’t seeing results from my life that I should have — and why I can say with ease that isn’t life-altering or shattering, either.
In many ways, The Shred was the program I needed to learn about myself. And it was the program I needed to teach me about the value of personal health and fitness. While I did a lot of working out in high school, participated in athletics, and excelled in PE classes, I never quite understood the value or purpose of personal fitness. We aren’t taught those things; we’re taught the value of competition. And the thing is, health and wellness aren’t a competition. They’re personal, and you have to find a way to work it into your life that works with your life, with your body, with your needs, and with your own goals in mind. When we build everything up as competition, we’re eager to judge ourselves based on those around us, rather than listen to ourselves and our own unique bodies. It’s why an average person might look at a person like me, at my size, and immediately think about how I am a lazy slob who will die of a heart attack in no time — and those things aren’t true.
The Shred was a reminder to keep my eyes on my own paper and focus on improving myself FOR myself.
I still 100% recommend The Shred. It works for those who can handle an intense workout, whatever your fitness level. But the value isn’t necessarily in the video itself. It’s in discovering a routine that works for you and it’s in discovering the cues your own body gives you when it comes to prioritizing fitness in your daily life.