“Insanity” – A Life Change. But Will It Work?

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve given in to the workout DVD craze. 

On Saturday, the “Insanity: Max Interval Training” 60-day fitness program arrived in the mail, and on Monday, I took a deep, terrified breath and got started. 

“Get ready to dig deeper than you ever have in your life,” says Shaun T., the rock-hard-ripped trainer who leads the workouts. Hah! I thought, watching the first video. This is no big deal. And then Hal informed me that I was supposed to actually do the workout along with the perfectly-formed people onscreen. Bad news.

I was scared: Although I have always been pretty athletic (team sports-wise), I’ve never been a dedicated runner, never attempted a marathon or triathlon, and have never been on a diet of any kind. A lot of diet plans seem ridiculous to me, especially the extreme ones, like no carbs or nothing but green tea or especially those horrible diets that mail you repulsive frozen dinners. (Can processed food, even if it’s low-cal, really be all that good for you?)

But here I am, attempting to follow a nutrition plan for the first time ever: the “Insanity” guide outlines a 60-day plan for either maintaining or losing weight, while properly fueling intense exercise. Depending on height, weight, sex, and age, you meet your individual calorie requirements in five small meals (of around 3-500 calories) a day which supposedly balance protein and carbs and help you maintain your energy throughout the day. Intriguing.

Anyway, I’m four days in now. If you’re interested in cheering me on and/or laughing at my failures, feel free to follow along. (Starting weight, around 115)

Day 1: “Fit Test”: a cardio/stretching warmup followed by eight intense one-minute activities (different jumps and pushup-y work), in which you’re supposed to record how many of each you could do. Eight minutes!? I thought. How bad can it be?

By the end, I was lying on the floor, heaving with dry sobs. Just happy to have it done. Then I headed to Kroger to spend $133 on healthy food, while Hal emptied the fridge of junk.

Day 1 meals: 1. banana  

2. mushroom and onion omelet  

3. a few almonds to keep me from buying everything at Kroger

4. salad with mixed greens, 1 oz salmon, a boiled egg

conclusions: didn’t drink enough water, still didn’t manage to pull off the 5 meals. But: felt pretty good all day, without the energy crash I usually get at 3pm. Exhausted after the workout.

Day 2 Workout: Plyometric Cardio Circuit  A gorgeous day. I took the computer outside and did the workout on the back deck. Or tried. It began with 9 minutes of warmup, consisting of a series of jogs, plyometric jogs and jumps (like high knee, butt kick, and squat-jumps) that repeat and increase in intensity each repetition. I got through it all, but I admit: I paused it at one point. 😦

After that, the video goes through a series of about three intense sessions of work, broken up by brief stretch and water breaks. The idea is interval training, with more intensity than rest. Lots of squats, suicide drills (imagine HS basketball practice, except in a small space), mountain climbers, ski jumps; again, repeated 3x, faster each time, ending with more stretching and breathing. 

I managed to get through the leg-power plyo drills fairly well, although I paused the video a few times. But the final sequence, with multiple pushups, jumping into and out of pushup position, kicking your legs in plank position, etc – utterly destroyed me. I lay on the deck again, whimpering. This is not an exaggeration. Fortunately, even the rock-hard video people gave up a few times.

Day 3 meals:

1. Cereal – defined as 2/3 c skim milk, 1 c whole-grain cereal, 1/2 c fruit, tbs flaxseed. I actually found that this was more cereal than I usually eat.

2. Salad -spinach, 1 oz salmon, egg

3. slice Ezekiel bread and almond butter right after wkout

4. Odwalla bar (a concession – was working, couldn’t eat at home)

5. Whoops! 1 glass of wine. A slip-up. 1/2 of a pear, 2 slices turkey and 4-5 slivers of cheddar cheese

conclusions: The workouts are hard, and they’re only going to get harder. But they aren’t superhuman. Still, I’m way behind the curve on upper-body strength. One immediate change: I am sleeping very well every night, and my energy does not fluctuate through the day as it always has. (Lately, I’ve had some problems with insomnia.)

Day 3 Workout: Cardio Power & Resistance   Another beautiful day. A bit sore today. Hal and I set up the computer and did this one in the backyard. The same warmup, then a variation on the previous theme: a few of the same plyos, a few different ones. One in particular hurt like mad: a jump in which you raise your knees in the air and punch them, then end up in a squat. A few variations on the pushup theme: one that isolates triceps by starting from a squat, another butt-in-the-air one. Extreme pain, more lying on the ground. I actually got dizzy at the end of this one. But we both got through the 40 minutes, paused the DVD fewer times, and took fewer breaks.

At 5:30pm I began to feel crazy sore and to walk like Frankenstein. Sore in just about every muscle you can think of, especially shoulders, pecs, and toes. Toes!

Day 3 meals: 

1. cereal, berries, flaxseed. I am told we must grind the flaxseed. Comical moments with a mortar and pestle, to no avail

2. 3 bites applesauce, 1/2 banana right before wkout for energy. *(Better to eat 1 hr before) then 1/2 banana & almond butter right after wkout. Important to eat a carb/protein right after workout, I am to understand.

3. Turkey and cheese wrap in whole-wheat tortilla 3pm

4. 7 crackers and hummus

5. 1 sushi roll, seaweed salad, 1/2 serving edamame

6. Whoops! Total meltdown. Colleen and Mike came by to do some kind of video, and they made amazing duck sandwiches. I HAD to try them. Oh, and a glass of wine. <sigh>

conclusions: Meals were well within range until the late evening’s meltdown. As a consequence, I didn’t sleep nearly as well. But I did maintain incredible, almost manic energy throughout the day, working in the garden with Christy at Rumours for 4-5 hours. (Last week I gave up on garden work after 2-3 hrs, with a sore back and neck.)

I don’t see myself becoming a health nut overnight, but I can certainly see some immediate benefits. More after today’s work…

One thought on ““Insanity” – A Life Change. But Will It Work?

  1. I know nothing about diets or workouts BUT I can offer my advice on grinding flaxseed. A coffee grinder works remarkably well and fast (usually takes me longer to clean the coffee out.) Grind as much as you have all at once and store in the fridge.

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