I Needed the Perfect Workout
I once considered myself athletic and often referred to my track days in high school to prove it. In college, a friend chuckled and said, “Ah, the glory days,” but I was still in my twenties, and knew that a jog around the block would get me right back into shape. Things changed when I hit my late thirties and my son could outpace me on the way to school. Next thing I knew, the glory days are exactly where my athleticism went to die.
Since my son was born, I had a hard time exercising. For a year, I diligently met with a friend at Zumba, at least once a week. I was impressed with the boost in stamina and endurance I experienced. But when my friend found a new passion, it was harder for me to go on my own, and for my family to work around it. I considered at-home exercise regimens, but I knew those would require at least an hour’s time. I had tried committing time before. I woke up before my then-husband and son to drive five minutes to a gym, but when I got home, the house was in upheaval. It wasn’t convenient for my family to not have me there in the morning. Later in the morning proved impossible. My son was still clinging to my leg if I wanted to get the mail without him, so leaving him to work out was not going to work out.
I gave up the gym. I wanted to take walks or go running, but found that I had to schedule that time around other schedules, and it was more stress and resentment than I felt was healthy. It hardly seemed fair, but it’s the pattern I had let my family create. I needed to take the bull by the horns and follow the advice others have been giving mothers for years: Only you can take care of you. I soon got a kick in the pants, the hard way.
In the middle of spring, I became ill. It was debilitating, and for a few days, I had pain when I walked. I slept through an entire day, stayed awake for four hours, and slept again through the night. After getting well with the strongest antibiotics I’d ever taken in my life, I decided I needed to do more than chase my son around the house, pick up after him, cut out dairy, and walk from the parking lot to my office.
Jillian Michaels Inspired Me
I have a great friend who looks amazing, with arms any woman would kill for, and a figure that most forty-year-old women dream of having. She has religiously been following The Firm workouts for years, at least five times a week in the morning. Around that time, Groupon offered a complete The Firm set for $18. When I went to buy my own program, determined to carve out an hour for exercise, they were sold out. In reading the comments on Amazon, I learned more about Jillian Michaels than I did about The Firm. Afraid I’d lose my resolve, I made a decision.
I Needed Convenience
After poring through reviews, I decided to start with what was most convenient. I had to admit to myself that to make changes, I needed convenience. Yes, yes. There are plenty of speeches I could give myself, and others gave me, about making time, about the importance of exercise, about just doing it, but reality had other plans for me. I needed to be practical. So convenience was going to be key.
I was not going to change my diet. I eat healthfully, though I go a little crazy on potato chips. I was not going to add any limitations. Carving out a half hour a day was going to be my small achievement to overcome and that was enough for me to start.
Here's why I chose the 30-Day Shred:
- The program is a workout available on Amazon Prime. As a subscriber, that meant I could start immediately. No excuses like “Target was sold out,” or “Shipping will take two days.”
- The “episodes” were only $2 each, and there were only three, so I didn’t run the risk of “If I don’t follow through, that’s $14, $15, $20, $30 down the drain.” We’re not rich, but I can afford $6; and if not all at once, $2 every 10 days.
- Each workout was a short, sweet, and effective, 20 minutes. I could do anything for 20 minutes without my son or then-husband missing me. I could convince myself that I don’t have to justify that time (as was my habit, of my own doing). I could easily spend 20 minutes in the shower, so no matter what time of day, I could put in a 20-minute workout. If it had to wait until 9:30 at night, that’s fine. I’d be done by 10:00.
This was definitely doable.
How the Shred Works
The 30-Day Shred is made up of three different levels, all following what has been repeated over and over as “Jillian’s typical circuit training.” That means that you complete three circuits in one workout, each circuit with different exercises. She has two other people working the exercises while she gives instruction (and does them herself). The two backups perform the exercises with modifications for those that need them, and an advanced version for those who are doing better than I was (ha!).
What Are Circuits?
For each circuit, you do the following:
- 3 minutes, strength training: In each level, she performs two exercises for 45 seconds each, twice.
- 2 minutes, cardio: Again, you do two exercises for 30 seconds each, twice.
- 1 minute abs: Two exercises for 30 seconds each, or the same exercise when working only one side, switching sides halfway through.
Fast Workouts That Made Me Sweat
With a breakdown like this, and each exercise being under a minute, this workout is over FAST. And you sweat! A lot! When I started, my husband thought the walls were going to fall down. My breathing was heavy, my legs felt like jelly, but it was over in 20 minutes.
For those concerned about knees, which I know is a common worry for those looking to begin exercising again: My knees did hurt at first. But after doing some research, I knew that was going to happen. I had not worked out in quite some time. Things were going to hurt. Muscles around my knees were going to shift, get strong, and pull the tendons surrounding other bones and muscles. It was unavoidable, and if I wanted to exercise and make my body strong and healthy, I was going to have to endure a little pain.
I pushed through. I did not cause any injuries or damage because I continued to do the exercises properly, following good form and looking at YouTube videos when I was not sure my body was doing it correctly. I work out on a carpet (not great for my carpet) and felt so good about the workouts, I eventually did them without shoes. To this day, I work out barefoot in my TV room.
So what happened? Well, exercises I struggled with in level one, were mastered by day 9 of level three. I was amazed how strong my body had become!
Because I wanted to be sure to not only write about my experience, but feel encouraged, I decided to take before and after photos. I did not change my diet, and I was feeling discouraged because my weight did not change—not at all. My pants were still tight. Though I was feeling strong (and what a good feeling that is!), I wanted to see changes. It was only after I put my photos side by side that I really did see them.
I moved on to Ripped in 30 after I finished my 30 days of the Shred. I continued to get results.
Eating to Get Results
I still did not change my diet at all. It changed on its own. I believe that the act of working out made me eat differently. I wanted to drink more water. My water intake more than doubled. I went to bed a little earlier and as a result, stopped eating late at night. I planned when to do my workout. I ate breakfast and waited 30-60 minutes to work out.
This system made me more mindful of when I ate and how much, because I wanted to avoid cramping. Some foods I ate more of because they never led to cramps after working out:
- kale salads
- greek yogurt with honey, pecans, and shredded coconut
- apples and almond butter
Tips to Make Jillian Michaels' Program Work for You
Some quick tips before you start:
- Never work out on an empty stomach! Per Jillian's advice in her book Master Your Metabolism, always eat within a half hour of waking.
- Hydrate. Be sure you drink at least two glasses of water before you consider working out that day. You don't want to make your body feel so wasted that you don't continue the next day, especially if you haven't exercised in a while.
- Go at your own pace! If you feel the workouts are moving too quickly, then slow down. There are no rules, except don't stop moving. Your muscles can cramp up, and the point is to keep your heart rate up, so slow down if you need, but do not stop moving.
Next is the Body Revolution. I’ve loved Jillian’s workouts, her attitude, and her convenience, and I am going to keep on keeping on. Give it a try, and tell me how it goes!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Christen Roberts
Shanna on January 30, 2020:
quick question I am on day four of the 30 day beger shred my whole body the day after felt like it was on fire is that normal did any one else experience this? and how long does it last can someone please get back to me on that I keep doing the work out even though my muscles are sore after but it don't hurt when im actually doing them
Morgan on November 19, 2018:
Thanks for this review! I own this DVD but I've never completed it from start to finish. I'm very out of shape though, so 20 minutes seems really doable for me. I'm going to give it a shot.
Kennie Louise on March 11, 2018:
I was looking for some motivation, then i saw your blog. Congrats! This exercise is really effective; i used to workout with this one. And i lost 15 pounds in just 30 days! That of course includes proper diet. As an asian, i eat alot of rice and that's what i took out then. All veggies, low sugar fruits and lean meats. But that was 2 years ago, after that i felt lazy after having 2 miscarraiges. But now, i feel like going back to shape. I am now on my 6th day of diet and exercise so, wish me luck too.
sara on January 14, 2018:
I totally love Jillian and the way she supports you to the end of the training. She's my best; the only person with whom I could build enough confidence and will to start and follow a routine excercise at home.. Thanks for your fine work dear Jillian.
June on May 06, 2017:
You have a terrible mess, that draws attention from your results...
Gugu on March 08, 2017:
Thank you so much I just started beginner shred and it's not hard..hoping to see results at the end of the 30days
Kristie on February 28, 2017:
Thank you Christen! Your break down of "how you did it" is inspirational. I have the 30 day shred dvd but was having trouble committing. I am also a wife and mother, so seeing another mother make the time makes me feel like I can throw all the excuses aside, and give myself this 20-30 minutes everyday.
SavageGazelle on August 11, 2016:
You inspired me to give JM another shot. I tried her 30 Day Workout before I went to Istanbul a few years ago. I knew I'd be doing a lot of touring - which meant a lot of walking and I wanted to look/feel my best. For some strange reason, I did enough to flaunt in my bikini but didn't pick it back up after I returned.
ValeriePeters on August 03, 2015:
This is just the inspiration I need! I just graduated college 3 months ago and with that I haven't been on campus and with THAT I haven't been in the gym for 3 months. I tried to look up a few 30 day workouts as well, but I never found one that kept me interested or motivated me. You know? I wanted to say thank you because this is exactly the inspiration I needed and I've always admired Jillian Michaels. I'm purchasing this as soon as possible and I'm gonna keep at this one for sure.
It's never been about my self-esteem, but more about looking healthy for ME. :)
Magen Morris from Chicago on March 16, 2015:
Thanks! That's helpful! I agree with baby steps. I always fail when I try to do too much.
Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on March 14, 2015:
Hi, Magen! I'm so sorry I didn't see this sooner! Hopefully you'll see this reply.
I hate to admit this, but I honestly didn't change my diet at all. :S That isn't to say my diet didn't change on its own though. I'll explain: I believe that the act of working out made me eat differently by craving more or less things. For instance, I wanted to drink more water. I'd say my water intake more than doubled. I went to bed a little earlier and as a result, stopped eating earlier at night. I used to snack a lot at night, have a bowl of cereal, that sort of thing, but instead, I'd be so thirsty for more water that I would drink water instead and then not have those late night snacks. Also, because I planned when to do my workout, I would eat breakfast, and wait until at least a half hour to an hour after and workout. That meant that I was just more mindful of WHEN I was eating and how much, because I wanted to avoid cramping. Does that make sense? I still ate stuff I usually ate (which, to be honest, is more healthy than the standard american diet, but still not all veggies, or anything like that), but the workouts made me eat it all DIFFERENTLY. I still ate sandwiches, meals made with pillsbury, etc. I ate a lot of kale salads because working out after those would mean no cramps. I ate a lot of nuts because I love nuts, and greek yogurt with honey and pecans and shredded coconut. Apples and almond butter are a constant favorite.
Let me know if you want to know more. Just exercising 6 days a week was enough for me to pay attention to and focus on, that I did not want to add diet to the mix too. I wanted exercise to be made "normal" first - If I changed my diet at the same time, and one was hard, I'd give up both. Baby steps. That's how I roll. :)
Magen Morris from Chicago on March 05, 2015:
This was super inspiring!! I have a handful of Jillian's DVDs but haven't ever stuck to them for 30 days. Seeing your real results makes me want to stick to it for sure!!
What type of eating did you do? Where you SUPER diligent or just a lot more careful?
Cari on October 13, 2014:
Wow, great results! I've recently started the 30 day Beginner Shred because I didn't want to over commit. I'm on day 14 day, and am so proud to say I have NOT SKIPPED A SINGLE DAY! I am still waiting for noticeable results, and have also been taking photos on the first day of each workout level change. I'm still motivated and will progress to Jillian's other videos after I get through the beginner workout, which I'll admit is not particularly difficult (though I still end up sweaty!). You are definitely inspiring me to keep at it! Thanks and way to go!
Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on October 12, 2014:
Thank you, thefedorows! I know myself, and if I take more than 2 days off in a row, it's so much harder for me to start again. So if I want to keep going, I need to make sure I don't miss more than one day in a row. Every little bit helps, and I definitely admire anybody who works out even three days a week! Because it's every week! I went years... Oy!
thefedorows from the Midwest on October 12, 2014:
Way to go!!!! I actually have this DVD and have done the workouts, but never committed to 30 days like you did. That is very impressive! I have committed to 3 days a week and am proud of myself for sticking to that! Voted up, awesome and funny. You have an easy-to-read style of writing!