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The 30 Day Shred: Before, after and in the future - (archived)

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I wasn’t going to write about the 30 Day Shred. I’ve done it a couple of times now and always recorded my results on tumblrs that nobody reads, partly because I don’t like showing off my tummy even after the Shred is over, but also because I didn’t think anyone would care. But then I discovered that various people have found this site by searching for ‘Gemma Cartwright 30 Day Shred’, so maybe you care more than I thought?

For those few inquisitive souls, and indeed for anyone who thinks that ‘fitness’ is a dirty word, I decided perhaps it’s time to share my experiences of this much-loved and well-worn fitness DVD. In February I’ll be tackling it for a third time, so if you want to join me, I’d like to give you a taste of what you’re letting yourself in for! I’m also doing Frugal February again, so this focussed 20 mins a day will keep me sane and take my mind off the fact I’m not allowed to spend any money!

What Is The 30 Day Shred?

The 30 Day Shred is a workout DVD by The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels. It takes 20 minutes a day, and you do it every day for 30 days. None of this ‘three times a week’ rubbish. If you want to Shred, it’s all or nothing. The moves are simple and easy to follow, and all you need to do it is a bit of floor space, some weights and a mat if you’re working out on a hard surface. You do a mix of cardio, strength and abs moves in short bursts, with no stopping in between, to keep heart rate up, but vary the workout to target different areas.

There are three levels to the Shred, so you start at level 1 and work up to 2 and 3 when you’re ready, meaning you’re not doing the same workout for 30 days (which would get very boring very quickly). I did 10 days of each level, despite the fact I thought on day 1 of level 1 that I’d NEVER get to 2, let alone 3. It’s amazing how quickly you see a difference in your stamina. The idea of the Shred is to get dramatic results quickly, meaning the workouts are really tough if you’re starting out with a low level of fitness (as I was).

But it’s worth it. Why? Well, I’ve never known anything make such a difference to my body in such a short time. I’ve done plenty of what Jillian calls “phoning it in at the gym” and seeing no difference to my body. In as little as ten days of the Shred I could see a difference in my upper body, and after 30, my stomach, back and shoulders had completely changed shape. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m breathing in and sucking in my belly as much a I possibly can in the ‘after’ photos to make them more dramatic, but I promise you I’m not. Yes, I’m standing up tall and straight, but the Shred just has that effect on your core – you can’t help but breathe in! The only thing I will say is that between day 1 and day 10 I got a decent sports bra, which I’m sure you don’t need me to point out! Ladies, buy one before you start. Your girls will thank you.

My 30 Day Shred Results


The Digits

Measurements: 5.5″ loss in total

Full Bust Before Shred: 38.5″
Full Bust After Shred: 37″

Waist Before Shred: 29.5″
Waist After Shred: 28″

Hips Before Shred: 40″
Hips After Shred: 38.5″

Upper Thigh Before Shred: 22″
Upper Thigh After Shred: 21″

Weight: 7lb loss

Before Shred: 11st 5 lbs / 159 lbs
After Shred: 10st 12 lbs / 152 lbs

Though I lost 1.5 inches off each of the three main measurements, the biggest difference was in my upper body, around my back, bust and upper arms, even though I didn’t actually lose inches on the arms. For the first time in my life, my collarbones were visible and my shoulders felt defined. I think much of this was down to the fact the Shred helps your posture; you’re doing a lot of core strength moves and upper arm reps with low weights, which helps you to sit up straight and stand correctly. Obviously, my stomach flattened significantly too, and I got my waist down to the 28 inches, the lowest it’s ever been (it didn’t last long!).

The Cold, Hard Truth

    • A lot of the text on the DVD box and in the marketing material pushes this DVD way to lose weight fast (“lose up to 20lbs in 30 days” etc). For me, it’s more about fitness and muscle definition than dramatic weight loss. You’re building muscle and burning fat – but muscle is denser. I don’t think the biggest results you’ll see will be in your weight, unless you’re also on a controlled diet. When I did the Shred above, I was also following the Weight Watchers diet plan, so please bear this in mind when you see my results. If you’re not eating well as you exercise, your results might not be as dramatic as the blurb on the box suggests.


    • When I started the Shred, I was basically starting from zero. My fitness level was very low and when I did the first day’s workout, I honestly didn’t think I’d make it through the first week, let alone the 30 days. But it DOES get easier and you have to have faith in yourself. Conversely, if you’re incredibly fit already, you probably won’t find level 1 particularly taxing. I feel like this DVD is designed to get unfit people motivated, not to get very fit people even fitter. Jillian has other DVDs (Ripped in 30, for example) that may be better for those with a higher fitness level.


    • The workouts involve quite a lot of jumping around, especially in the later levels. If you live in a top floor flat like I do, you do have to consider your neighbours and work out at reasonable times. But don’t let this be an excuse – it’s only 20 mins, of that only 5 or 10 mins is jumping! The only reason the jumping should cause a problem is if you have weak knees, but Jillian has modifications for most moves to help with this.


    • I never believed the stuff about exercise releasing endorphins and people getting hooked on it. I’ve always hated exercise, and I still blame that on horrific PE lessons in school. But I am being 100% honest when I tell you that the Shred motivated me in a way I didn’t know was possible. I finished it and promptly went on holiday – and I ended up packing trainers and my sports bra so I could use the gym in my hotel to keep up the good work. And I actually DID IT! I did eventually fall into bad habits on returning home, but I try to do the Shred once a year to get my motivation back. I sleep better, feel less stressed and have more energy when I do this workout, and I really mean that.


  • The second time I did the Shred, my starting weight was a bit higher, as were my measurements. My inch loss was virtually identical, losing about an inch and a half off each measurement by the end of the 30 days. So it wasn’t a one hit wonder.

But isn’t Jillian A Freaking Nightmare?

No! I think one of the reasons why I’ve got through the Shred twice is that I really like Jillian Michaels as a trainer. She is no nonsense and pretty hardcore, but she’s not nasty. She’s not a fat shamer (at least in this particular DVD). She doesn’t spend the routines telling you you’re worthless if you can’t finish a move. She just reiterates again and again that you CAN work out at this level, no matter how unfit you are to begin with. She doesn’t really talk about weight, she talks about fitness and hard work and honing your body through grafting, which I really respond to. The workouts are also very well scripted so she says exactly the right things at the right time. Just as you’re thinking she’s insane, she pre-empts you “I know you’re thinking that I’m a crazy person…”

And you will, but after 30 days, if you’re anything like me, you will worship this woman!

I’ll be doing the Shred again in February. If you’d like to join me, let me know. I’d love to have a little Shred team to help push that motivation even further! You can order the DVD at Amazon for £8 or from £6.92 at It’s worth every penny!

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  • Reply Vicky January 24, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Wow! Those ARE incredible before and after pictures! Well done you!

    I’ve been meaning to get back to the Shred as well. I did it for 6 days, and really felt an improvement in my fitness (I think by the third day, I stopped crying like the biggest wimp), but then life got in the way.

    I’m on holiday till the 4th of Feb, but after that I’m up for having another go at it! 🙂

    • Reply Gemma January 28, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Excellent! So happy this post is actually inspiring a few folks to give it another go. Myself included. The public announcement means I can’t back out now!

      • Reply Vicky February 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        I’m back from my holiday, but I’ve got the most horrific cold and cough. I think I might even have a temperature 🙁 It spoilt the last few days of my holiday (there’s only so much sightseeing you can do in Edinburgh when a small flight of steps almost has you passing out). There’s no way I can do the Shred right now. Maybe next week…
        Hope it’s going well for you! x

  • Reply kimberleyfoster January 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Your results are fantastic hon. Good luck with next month’s Shred – you can do it! 😉

  • Reply Amy January 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    These are great results, Gemma. I’m really tempted!

    • Reply Gemma January 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      do it, do it, do it, do it!

  • Reply Liz Tea Bee January 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Ordered! It’s really nice to see an honest review from someone who is at a similar weight/fitness level as me. (28 inches is also my long term waist goal.)

    • Reply Gemma January 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      I hope it goes well for you! It’s tough, but it’s absolutely worth it. My advice for anyone trying it for the first time who’s starting off at a similar point to me is not to worry if you have to skip one workout early on – day three was impossible for me, but it just made me even more keen to push through on day 4 and the resting time definitely helped. Oh, and buy something amazing to wear on day 30!

      • Reply Liz Tea Bee February 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm

        That’s good to know. I’ve got the DVD in hand and I’m going to start this afternoon. I have a dress that hasn’t fit (at least not comfortably) in over a year that I plan to celebrate with.

  • Reply stargirl January 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I have also just ordered!! So hope it works as well for me as it has for you, my motivation is that I want to look in this: so I will be buying it for myself as a reward if it goes well! You look absolutely amazing but I know I have zero will power 🙁 which is why I have to bribe myself! haha I think I will be reading this post over and over to give me some inspiration so thank you!

  • Reply ashley January 31, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    U look great! I’m on day 13 at the moment and also following ww diet, really disheartened tho as I have only lost 3.5lbd in 3 weeks at ww. I don’t really feel much change to my body either, maybe slightly more defined upper arms….maybe! However I am going to continue with it as I really enjoy it!

    • Reply MrsSmith February 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Don’t expect miraculous weight (POUNDS) lost on the shred. But do expect that if you work hard and keep your eating in check you WILL see a change in your body. That slimming, strenghtening, toning, etc is more important than the scale. Put the scale AWAY and use pictures, clothes and the tape measure as a guide!

      I’m on Day 15. Good luck 🙂

  • Reply Liz Tea Bee February 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    whoops, posted in the wrong place!

  • Reply Norah February 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Hi Gemma

    I just finished my SHRED 🙂 yesterday and Im somewhat shreded and stronger!!!Didnt lose weight though.I was wondering what now??I feel i should repeat the entire shred since i was doing it at the beginner level like anita so i just did the 1st level today 🙂 and boy i can do all steps like natalie yeeeeeaaaaahhhh!!But is repeating the 30 day shred a good idea??OR should i move on to ripped and not waste time with the shred in the month?

    Oh yes btw i was googling for shred repeaters and stumbled on ur blog 🙂


    • Reply Gemma February 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Congrats on getting through it! I had a bit of a false start and missed three days this week so I think I’m just going to start again from day 1 tonight. Feeling pretty bad about it but it’s just pushing me not to slip up this time!

      I think it’s ok to repeat once you get to the end. There’s nothing in the shred that’s so intense you can’t keep doing it. But I’ve read that it’s best to go back to level 1 as you’ve done, to work different muscle groups again and really get the most out of it. I’ve always stuck with Anita but this time round I think I’m going to push through and do the harder versions of the easier moves (like the butt kicks – I’m NEVER gonna manage the full push-ups!). The only thing I find is it gets a bit boring when you keep doing it – I’m thinking of doing Ripped in 30 straight after the Shred just for a bit of variety.

      It’s interesting that you didn’t lose weight, but great that this hasn’t put you off continuing. Muscle weighs more than fat and you’ve probably built loads of that and lost inches if not lbs! I only lost a few lbs because I was also following a controlled diet and the two together had a double-whammy effect. I think the only way you’re going to lose the 20lbs advertised on the box is if you start the shred at 250lbs or something.

      • Reply Norah February 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

        Oh forgot to mention i lost in inches and my torso has come in to shape i can see less of love handles and over all inches loss i believe even my finger rings are lose as compared to how tight they were before,my size 14 tops have become lose infact dangling on my tummmy rather than cling on to it and trust me its a positive sign and im really motivated to do more!!I was thinking to repeat the shred with a yoga in a day and then move on to ripped – and ripped looks TOUGH so does 6 weeks and 6 packs!!

        • Reply Norah February 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

          Im 65 kgs by the way :o)

  • Reply Super Amanda February 17, 2013 at 1:27 am

    LOVE THIS!! Jillian does far too much core work and as I’m psycho about not building my obliques and keeping my hourglass and wthr so I’m not a particular fan of hers but I have to check out this shred for a time crunch workout because your waist pulled IN! I find her so much more likeable than Tracey Anderson and others as well. You really did a fab job!!

  • Reply Gaby3001 March 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I’m considering doing the 30 Day Shred, i have struggled with my weight, looks and confidence for 3 years now. I used to be sporty but I just lost interest. Is there a good diet plan to do whilst doing the shred? I’d quite like to lose weight and tone up as I am working towards my holiday and would rather not look like a whale!

  • Reply Hayley Fairclough April 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve tried and failed at the 30DS twice now but you’ve inspired me to start again tomorrow; such amazing results! Think I’ll record my results on my blog too, Well done!

  • Reply anai May 28, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Did you only do the shred? or did you do another kind of exercise? thanks 🙂 and……. AMAZING RESULTS!! CONGRATULATIONS

  • Reply Amy July 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve just started my first day again……here goes nothing! I’m going to be borrowing the other DVD’s from you before you know it *wink*

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