Liz Gets Healthy, Volume II: The 30-Day Shred

Remember "Mulan?" The Disney movie? One of my favorite songs from that movie is the Donny Osmond "Make a Man Out of You," which starts off with a bang: 

"LET'S get DOWN to BUSiness…"

 Striking enough terror into my heart to elevate the heart rate without cardio, folks. 

Striking enough terror into my heart to elevate the heart rate without cardio, folks. 

Time to do the same on Liz Gets Healthy…and unleash my secret fitness weapon: my favorite workout DVD. I guarantee I'm not the only proponent and devotee of Jillian Michaels in my friend circles, but you guys, I am obsessed.

I had heard of Jillian via "The Biggest Loser," but really didn't think much either way about her. My bff Kaitlin and I actually "discovered" her courtesy of a friend in our dorm senior year, and I will forever remember the momentous day. I had been actively working out like a fiend for about a month and a half using our dorm's tiny gym…we're talking one elliptical, one treadmill, one bike and some mismatched free weights…and I was ready to add something to the endless drone of cardio day in and day out to see if I could improve the results I was getting. Michele, the friend in the dorm, had the "30-Day Shred" DVD in her collection, and loaned it to Kaitlin and me one evening after a chat about getting fit. 

The next morning, the most unsuspecting pair of idiots in the world set up in our section lounge, expecting a brisk but manageable half-hour of (basically) the routine Jazzercize/free weights stuff we'd both come to expect from workout videos. Less than ten minutes later, we were both gasping for air and cursing (loudly) at the TV in our (very) public workout space of choice. 

 Inspires mild trauma to this day. 

Inspires mild trauma to this day. 

Guys. The Shred. I kid you not…if you want a workout tape to put you through its paces, this (and Jillian's other "30 Day" offerings) should be your go-to. It's a great system for combining cardio and strength moves…a "3-2-1" interval workout that legit never fails to get me sweating (and swearing). The routine goes as follows: 3 minutes of strength featuring two different moves, 2 minutes of 2 different cardio moves, and 1 minute of ab-toning; repeat the cycle three times with a warm-up and cool-down stretch sequence, and you're done. 

In my eyes, the benefits of the Shred are two-fold:

One: it's quick. Literally a 30-minute loop from start to finish; that can be pared down to 25-ish if you fast-forward through the commentary at the beginning and cut the stretches at the end short. For me, this is clutch. As a public accountant, my limited free time was precious, and getting a super solid workout in in under 30 minutes was huge. 

Two: It's TOUGH. Like I said above, this isn't Jazzercize or something where you bounce around feeling like a moron for half an hour and then call it done. The Shred is challenging! The three levels progressively get harder, so it never felt to me like I was doing the same old, same old forever (although I spent an embarrassingly long time on Level 1, and still feel like that's plenty of workout for me!!). When I first started the Shred back in college, the first few days I was so sore I could hardly lift my arms over my head to shampoo my hair, and climbing into my lofted bed was a challenge. Seriously strenuous, folks. 

 Action shots. Gotta love it. 

Action shots. Gotta love it. 

The other thing I hate-love about the Shred is the commentary…and Jillian's workout flunkies, Anita and Natalie. Jillian keeps up a steady stream of passive aggressive, kinda bitchy encouragement throughout that both scares and motivates me. Some choice quotes: 

"I want you panting, I want you screaming by the end of this workout!" (Well, she succeeded with this one…screaming obscenities at the TV!!)

"I have 400 lb people who can do jumping jacks. So can you." ( know, I know…..)

"If you feel like you're gonna die…keep going with Anita." (SERIOUSLY? If I feel like I'm going to DIE…I'm taking a water break, beeyotch!!)

 Um…yeah. "Fear her" would be the correct response here. 

Um…yeah. "Fear her" would be the correct response here. 

It's inspiring and terrifying at the same time. When Kaitlin and I were doing it every day, it got to the point where I could recite along with Jillian…and snark right back at the DVD at the same time. Ugh. Honestly though, the power-bitch commentary definitely kept me motivated and trying hard. Do I fear her because I love her, or love her because I fear her?

To wrap up: results. When I used the Shred for 35-40 consecutive days (mostly Level 1 with some Level 2 thrown in), combining it with cardio on the elliptical most days, I lost around 20 pounds, compared to the 10 pounds I lost doing straight cardio. Factor in, however, that I also put on muscle from the strength moves, and I'm not sure what the actual fat-weight loss was. Still--pretty solid testimony to the power of the Jill. 

I think the Shred is perfect for the holiday season! Fast enough to fit in before work in the mornings, powerful enough to combat cocktail-party carbo-loading, and so easy even a beginner could do it. Happy Shredding, campers! See you soon for more fitness updates!