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Fitness fashion & a 30 Day Shred update

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I have a confession to make. I’ve not done very well at the 30 Day Shred. By now I should be pushing towards day 30, showing off my abs and well into level 3. But the truth is I’ve only managed to get halfway to day 10. It’s not because I not enjoying it, it’s purely because my schedule has got in the way, and I keep finding excuses not to squeeze it in. I’m feeling very guilty – it’s only 30 days and the last two times I’ve done it I’ve managed to fit it around my life with only a couple of missed days. But for some reason I’m struggling this time.

But I’m not giving up. Next week, I start again, and this time I will persevere. I have no excuses this time – no fashion week, no Oscars all-nighters, no big events after work. I’ve just bought three more of Jillian’s workout DVDs (Ripped in 30, No More Trouble Zones and Killer Buns & Thighs) to work my way through. And to help push me through those tough first ten days of killer workouts, I’m using the workouts as an excuse to try a few pieces of fitness clothing too.

The problem I’ve found so far is that supposed ‘sports’ clothing is often anything but. My Stella McCartney for Addidas cropped leggings with a swirled seam look great, but they slowly disappear down my hips and halfway down my thighs by the end of one minute of squats. I’ve started wearing Zaggora Flares instead, which are like leggings made out of wetsuit material that make you sweat more during your workout for optimum fat burning. They do seem to help keep body temperature up, but they also squeak and rustle throughout.

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And then come the trainers. Oh, the trainers! I quickly learned you cannot shred in bare feet. You need the support of a pair of trainers designed for fitness. But since I’m the least sporty woman on the planet, I have the most profunctory pair of Nikes known to man – plain white ones with thin soles and no detail that cost me about £20 in TK Maxx. Not exactly the cool Nike Air Max styles I should probably be wearing. I think it’s time I upgraded – but perhaps I need to do more than 20 minutes a day before I can justify investing in a pair.

There is one area where I’ve got it sorted though, and that is my sports bra. I’m switching between a Shock Absorber and a Panache style now (review to come) and it’s amazing to be able to work out without the jiggle that usually comes when you combine a big bust and jumping jacks! I really believe you can wear whatever crappy joggers and t-shirt you want provided you have the right sports bra and the right supportive pair of trainers. So next time you see me running through Battersea park in a t-shirt I got in a goodie bag and a pair of Primark joggers, remember that?

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The 30 Day Shred: Before, after and in the future

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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

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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 Play.com. It’s worth every penny!