The first time I ordered a Jillian Michaels workout video, I did so secretly. I closed the door to my office and clicked through Amazon as quickly as I could, making sure no one saw the embarrassing '80s throwback symbol of desperation I was adding to my cart. You get the picture.
But now? No longer ashamed. In fact, I'm just going to admit it out loud: Jillian Michaels is my homegirl. She rocks. I love how mean she can be, but in the next turn empathetic and real; I love her Jillian-isms; I love how she knows exactly when your posture is starting to suck and you need her to yell at you and remind you that your ass isn't supposed to be in the air for that move; and I love that when I first saw a quick clip of videos I hadn't yet ordered, I was desperately afraid she'd gotten terrible highlights, and then hugely relieved to see in full that no, those were just light brown headbands. Whew! But mostly, I love that she has whipped me into shape the past few months for many things that life has in store for me, including, but not limited to, wearing a wedding dress. And I love that I feel stronger as a result, not weaker.
Here's the deal. I started with the 30 Day Shred around Christmas. At that point I'd been making a concerted effort to work out 3-4 times a week for months, spending 1-1.5 hours at the gym each time. I was getting nowhere. After just a couple of weeks with Jillian, I was getting more results in less than half the time that I'd been spending working out alone. Even better? I could work out in my own apartment where I don't have a lot of extra room, using hand weights as my only equipment. For anyone who doesn't know, the Shred is designed with three levels that you work up to over time. Each level has three circuits, which combine strength, cardio, and abs. It might not sound like much effort, but doing it regularly (at least four times a week) should have you seeing and feeling major results. In half the amount of time you could spend at the gym. Really.
After Level 3 of the Shred became a little too routine, I was ready for new challenges but wasn't ready to part with Jillian, so I bought her other two DVDs (with my office door open! And while recommending her to friends!). For maybe three months now, I've been working out to both Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism and No More Trouble Zones, and let me tell you - I have never been a bigger Jillian devotee. Her philosophy behind the Shred is very much represented in these videos as well, but they're longer workouts and are each fairly different. BFBM is basically a kickass, heart-pounding-out-of-your-chest cardio killer, while NMTZ incorporates weights (she recommends 3 lbs, whereas I used 5 lb weights for the Shred) to target key areas that we all love to bitch about. Both will make you sweat like a pig. Both will leave you sore. Both really work. And like the Shred, being able to enjoy your progress over time is really gratifying. That move that made you feel like you were going to throw up two months ago? No problem. That move that left you unable to climb stairs? Bring on the stairs! Love it.
These days I alternate BFBM and NMTZ at least five days a week, putting Level 3 of the Shred on for kicks or if I don't have time for a long workout. I'm definitely firmer and somewhat slimmer than I was six months ago - there is less jiggle and more of what I love about my body now. My clothes fit better. I'm buying smaller sizes. But, and I will say this in bold, I have not lost any weight. What I hate about the weight loss industry are the loud claims of "Lose X pounds in X days!" Those claims are on Jillian's videos, too - and I love her and those workouts, but haven't lost a pound. That's just how my body works. I've been one of four sizes my entire teenage to adult life, yet have always weighed nearly exactly the same. So if you're obsessed with the scales (I don't own them), you might be frustrated if you were in my shoes. But I've never been happier in them. And I don't plan on starving just so the scales can reflect something arbitrary back to me.
So that's it. The only fitness-related post you will ever see here, because a few people have asked me to write about it. I'm a Jillian girl. I don't know if it's her attitude, her jump moves, her circuit combinations, or the fact that I can just put her on and turn my brain off for 45 minutes a day, but whatever it is, I'm a fan. She kicks my ass regularly, but respects my time in return, and I think that's a fair deal. End of story.