I never thought I’d be doing it, either.
You guys, I am (was!?) a runner. Between 2004 – 2010 (basically all of early, pre-kid adulthood), I was always training for something. I really do love running, and I love training plans, achieving goals, and crushing my own PRs. I’ve run 4 marathons — my last and fastest in 2009, now nearly a decade ago. In my head, I can still run that fast.
Because between then and now, I had 3 children. And I aged 9 years. I actually don’t think the pregnancies did anything terrible to my running prowess or my body. HOWEVER, the kids really put a damper on my training. I won’t say that I am unable to train 40+ mile weeks the way I used to, but it is definitely — definitely — not a priority.
I still love to run. And I hope to do more of it someday. But several factors have made me less interested lately. They are as follows:
1) Running in Miami Beach weather kind of sucks, at least for 6 months of the year. Summer runs are in humid 80F conditions, often with lightning in the distance (and I HATE lightning, even in the distance). I could use our treadmill (and I do use it on occasion) but I think the loud noise tends to wake the big kids up, and also treadmill running just isn’t as enjoyable.
2) I am not feeling as confident as I used to about running outside alone in the early mornings. Maybe I’m just becoming a wimp but I fear a) falling (if it’s not light) and b) dogs running around loose in our neighborhood, which is a thing. I hit my head HARD on a tree back in 2016 (fun) and maybe it soured me. I don’t know.
3) I am slower than I used to be. I realize that if I started running more consistently I’d probably speed up, but I’m not sure I could get back to 2010 me. And seeing a decline is tough! I am not the type who can ignore numbers.
4) I don’t feel like I want to dedicate the time on weekends right now to do proper long runs. Those are my favorite runs and I will be back doing them again someday (it is admittedly nice to run to the beach, despite point #1) but right now it just feels like too much of a commitment. (Although as I write that, I am sort of realizing it’s ridiculous).
5) I’m vain and was not getting the kinds of ‘results’ I really want from running. I’d like more muscle definition in my arms and abs. I admire the toned athletic look that women get when they do a good amount of strength training. What can I say — superficial. But true.
SO. All that said, I wanted workouts that would be:
– somewhat fun
– doable at home
– hard enough that I’d see progress
My SIL (here’s her podcast interview!) has been into Beachbody workouts for years and is specifically into Autumn Calabrese. I finally decided to ask her which routine she would recommend for me — something that would meet the above criteria and not kill me in 20 seconds. She recommended 21 Day Fix.
Beachbody is a MLM company. “Coaches” promote the programs, provide encouragement, and sell subscriptions to the workout AND supplements (Shakeology drinks and other “boosters”). But it’s also something you can just purchase outright like any other product. I am not a coach (and nor is my SIL), so I just went to the website and signed up for a subscription to the on demand workouts. There is a 2 week free trial, and then I paid $39 for 3 months (I think $99/year is clearly a better deal but I wasn’t ready to commit to a year).
There are all kinds of structured diets on the site to follow, and there are supplements to buy that they promote. I’m sure they benefit some people, but I really just wanted the workouts. The other stuff is fairly easy to just ignore if you’re not in the mood for that sort of thing.
And the workouts? THEY ARE GREAT.
Here’s what I like:
1) STRUCTURE. The 21 Day Fix has a calendar that tells you exactly what you are supposed to do each day (I’m sure the other programs do as well). Example:
Monday – Total Body Cardio Fix
Tuesday – Upper Body Fix
Wednesday – Lower Fix
There are 2 workouts that are heavy on cardio (think burpees + jumping moves), 1 upper, 1 lower, 1 that’s a mix (called Dirty 30), 1 yoga, and 1 pilates. There’s also an alternative core workout (to be used in place of the pilates) and an alternative barre leg workout (to be used in place of the lower). Weights are used most of the workouts (pilates, yoga and one of the cardio workouts are exceptions).
The schedule suggests “optionally” doubling up on workouts the 3rd week, but . . . that plan is not for me! I have been sticking to one each day. There’s no formal ‘rest’ day, but the yoga and pilates are definitely not as intense so they serve that purpose.
2) PROGRESS. You can really see progress quickly with these! When I started I literally told Josh I thought I needed to see a doctor because I was THAT BEAT UP by the workout. (I was also getting over a cold, but still!). Now I can mostly complete that workout, just slowing down a few of the moves. I can see progress with the weights I am using (started with 5lb and some 8lb, now mostly 8lb and need to start incorporating some 10lb). I have only been doing them for 5 weeks.
3) THEY ARE SHORT (and not too boring). Each is done in 30 minutes. The yoga and pilates aren’t too hard, but all of the others leave me super sweaty and tired. Each move is only 60 seconds so even if I hate it, I can count down and it’s over soon. There’s enough variation that it’s really not boring. And when it does get boring (or easy . . . ha) there are about 8 million other programs to switch to (21 Day Fix Extreme, 80 Day Obsession, etc).
4) THEY ARE JUST HARD ENOUGH. There are reasonable modifications for every move. They are juuuuust hard enough to be quite challenging but honestly I can mostly complete them (with great effort), which is fun! I am the kind fo person where I know I’d probably quit outright if I had to modify everything.
Oh, and equipment/space needed is fairly minimal. Basically just the length of one mat and some hand weights (I have 5 / 8 / 10 at home, plus 15 / 20 that are Josh’s if I ever manage to get that strong). I find that if there are too many complicated items needed (I’m looking at you, Barre3 ball that keeps deflating) I resist starting a workout.
5) RESULTS? Well . . . maybe. I do think my arms look better and my abs less of a . . . post-baby situation. I am eating whatever the hell I want right now (breastfeeding gives me that license in my opinion) so I’m sure I might see more dramatic results if I were to change that.
I’m not giving up running. In fact, some day I think I’d like to do a combo (maybe 3 of these workouts / 3 runs each week, or 4 / 2). I definitely want to go back to doing races someday, because I find it really fun. But this is a great option for me right now.
Oh, and many of you asked “When do you do these”? On work days, I typically start around 5:50 AM and finish at 6:20 AM. If I get up around 5 (which is right after G’s 2nd nighttime feeding if I’m lucky), I have some time to prep for the day and then caffeinate before the workout. Lately, G has been sleeping OR happy in her bassinet until at 6:30 or so, or Josh will hang out with her while I finish if she is up. If A or C wake up, they can get their own banana and watch (and sometimes participate, ha!). A is even learning to pour cereal and milk. The benefit of kids getting older . . .
On non-work days, I do them after the big kids go to school, usually during G’s AM nap. Really, 30 minutes isn’t terribly hard to fit in, especially when you don’t have to leave the house.
So, now I’m a coach and you can buy from me! JUST KIDDING. Not going there. But if you have questions I’m happy to answer them.