Beauty Uncensored: The 30-Day Shred
I’d heard about The 30-Day Shred for weeks before I got up the nerve to try it.
No, it’s not a concerted effort to get rid of old bills and tax forms. The 30-Day Shred is a fitness DVD from "The Biggest Loser" trainer Jillian Michaels. She claims that her 20-minute workout over a period of 30 days will turn you into a lean, mean, “shredded” machine.
Or at least, get you well on your way.
Over the last few months, a few dozen of my blogging friends have been doing "the Shred" and documenting their progress online. Led by Kristen Chase from Motherhood Uncensored, they called themselves Shredheads.
I called them crazy.
I mean, look at what they were saying after just one day of the workout?
“ … the first attempt left me so crumpled and sore that I couldn't even roll over in bed without wincing for nearly a week. I seriously wondered if only insane people did this workout, because me? I'm no good at it,” wrote Christina from A Mommy Story.
“... walking back to my office after the workout? I almost fell going down the stairs. i had to literally HOLD ON to the rail,” blogger Jennster announced.
For 30 days I giggled as they moaned and groaned and complained about the difficulty and the pain. And then I read the results of their labors. Weightloss varied, because the shred makes you gain muscle. However, the before and after pictures were pretty incredible. Check out Kristen, after just ten days. And Christina, after 22 days.
Immediately, I ordered the Shred from Amazon (where, incidentally, more than 1,100 reviewers gave it four out of five stars). It was only $8.99, so I figured I had nothing to lose.
A couple of weeks later, DVD and three-pound weights in hand, I prepared to start "Day One, Level One." Despite the claims of intense, mind-numbing pain after the first day of shredding, I wasn’t too worried. I had been working out hard on the elliptical several days a week for months. I was in decent shape.
The Shredheads weren’t kidding when they said it was tough. The Shred consists mainly of old school exercises, like pushups, jumping jacks, lunges and bicycle crunches. You go through three circuits of interval training three different times to complete your 20-minute workout — cardio, strength and abs. By the time I was done, my muscles were burning, and sweat was pouring off of me. I was thrilled that the 20-minute Shred felt even more intense than my hour on the elliptical — and I go hard on the elliptical, people. I stood up from my mat at the end of my workout …
… And then I died.
Seriously, I was in SO MUCH PAIN. Pain that only got worse the next morning when I tried to get out of bed. My legs were in agony. I walked like I was partially paralyzed. Shred Day 2 was out. Moving my legs was out. I stumbled around the house and prayed I’d feel better by the next day, when I was planning to take my kids to the zoo.
The next day, though, I was no better. Resolutely, I packed picnic lunches for the zoo, reasoning that walking it out would help my muscles feel better.
In intense pain, I chased my children around the zoo for hours, using the stroller like a walker. Even worse, every hour or so, my right knee would inexplicably give out. Good times.
I blamed Jillian. Ohhh, did I blame Jillian.
It wasn’t until three full days after my first shredding experience that I finally felt normal again. I decided to attempt the Shred one more time, but I was scared. I couldn’t go through three more days of that kind of pain. With tremendous anxiety, I fired up the DVD player and went through Level One of the Shred again.
And I felt no soreness whatsoever. Not during the workout, and not afterward.
In fact, afterward, I actually felt great. I had tons of energy and felt like I’d had a fabulous workout.
Because I actually wanted to lose pounds while I did the Shred, I decided to alternate my Shred days with elliptical days. After seven days (four days of shred, three days of elliptical), I lost …
I didn’t significantly modify my diet, other than trying to make healthy choices. The weight loss was almost entirely from my new exercise regime.
Even better, on day five, I wore a shirt that had been a smidge too tight on me just a week earlier. And on a date night last night, I actually felt no need to put on Spanx under my little black dress.
Yes. You read me right. No Spanx! Can you even imagine the liberation? Even my husband was thrilled!
“This is great,” he said, after putting his arm around my waist. “I hate that Spank thing. It feels like you’re wearing a bathing suit under your clothes.”
“Thank you, Jillian,” I mouthed, looking up into the sky. I mean, Jillian’s still alive and all, but it helped to think we might be wishing on the same bright star, in that big somewhere out there.
I’ve mentioned my Shred success a couple of times on Twitter since I began, prompting Her Nashville editor, Ashley Haugen to try it out for herself. This is the message she sent me a few days ago, after completing Day One:
“I took a first stab this afternoon, and I'm crippled. CRIPPLED! I try to do something exercise-ish every day (excluding weekends and major holidays, of course!), so I thought I could hack it. I'm really [expletive] scared for the pain that tomorrow will bring. I'm scared of that AND this Jillian chick. She's pretty damn scary. So, I'm not sure if I should thank you or curse the day we ever met!!”
Oops. Let’s hope Ashley sticks with the Shred. Otherwise, I may not have a job here anymore.
Dana Birdsong didn’t have time for a headache that day. The (then) 35-year-old lobbyist and advocate for the American College of Cardiology in Washington, D.C. had a meeting on Capitol Hill she couldn’t miss.
To read this and other Her Well-Being stories, click here.