Progress Is Perfection

A blog to inspire, motivate, and unleash the awesome in everyone


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Monday Motivation!

Happy Monday all you beautiful people! It’s going to be a gorgeous week, so soak up that sun (with sunscreen on), sweat it out outside, and enjoy the summer! Have a fantastic week 🙂

 

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❤ N&V


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Monday Motivation

It’s Monday, it’s a new month, and it’s time for a new YOU! Commit to yourself this month, this week, today- whatever YOU need to do to make yourself that much better. Grab an extra glass of water, workout a little harder, add an extra rep, an extra mile, smile at a stranger; seriously, do what you need to do and be happy! Here’s your weekly dose of motivation to get moving in the right direction!! Happy Monday!

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Have a fantastic week everyone!!

N&V


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Kale Cheese Sauce

Oh hello interwebs! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything! Life keeps getting the better of me, I’m sorry!

My son and I went for an awesome walk through some local trails today, and were really hungry by the time we got home! He wanted grilled cheese, but I was thinking more along the lines of Mac&Cheese. Neither of them are super healthy, so I figured it would be easier to sneak some veggies into the cheese sauce. My experiment turned into a success! All we have on hand is spaghetti noodles, but it’ll work with any kind of noodle!

1014459_564224623692624_8067686958202275256_nMy son posing in front of a tree

Kale Cheese Sauce
(2-3 servings)

3 stalks of kale (I used black kale)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2-3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2-1 tbls flour (I used brown rice flour)
S&P to taste

Wash and cut off the ends of your kale and throw it in a blender with almond milk. Blend until smooth. Add kale/almond milk to a warm pot and let it heat up slightly. Add cheese in handfuls, stirring until it all melts. Add flour as needed to thicken the sauce and season to taste! Mix with pasta and top with extra cheese.

10250080_564238353691251_1116830503774060022_nI added some leftover chicken for extra protein 🙂

I’m so happy this turned out yummy, my son was a little sceptical at first (he doesn’t generally like green food), but I added a little more grated cheese and he ate it all!

Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

Much love,
Nicole


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Monday Motivation!

We’re a week into April- where does the time go?! Make sure you get your 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week of exercise; a physically inactive lifestyle causes more cardiovascular diseases than smoking and high blood pressure combined (’96 Surgeon Generals Report)!!

24hours 1392084_10152111111807632_1372489459_n breathe crap dontcomplain lovecom minonmonday wakeup wakeupwith weallhaveHappy Monday, have a fantastic week!!

❤ N&V


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Monday Motivation!

Spring is here and for us that means getting outside and being active, soaking in the much needed vitamin D and taking advantage of the extra daylight! Have a fantastic week and hopefully the sun will grace you with some warmth!

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-N&V


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Monday Motivation

Time changes always leave me feeling exhausted and unmotivated. So the only logical thing for me to do is get myself dressed and head to the gym for a pick me up!! Do something active today for a quick energy reboost and you’ll feel like yourself in no time! Here’s some motivation to get you off the computer and out doing an activity that you love!

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N&V


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Insanity Workout: Complete! Reflections and Review

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Well I did it; I completed the Insanity Workout! This is a 2 part post, the first being dedicated to a short summary my experience, and the second my analysis of the program. Be warned: its a long one!

insanity

PART I: The Suffering 

I started Insanity the last few days of December, 2013 and finished a few days ago. My goals were to increase my strength and tone up, and I believe I accomplished that. One other positive side effect that I didn’t expect was that I increased my flexibility quite a bit. Between the constant workouts and stretching, my muscles definitely loosened up and elongated which means I can finally bend over and touch my toes while keeping my knees straight!

It was a tough run at certain points. Insanity requires you to devote between 40-60 minutes a day, 6 days a week to the workouts, and this can be difficult to sustain. Between working full time, other commitments, being tired some days, and life generally getting in the way (ie. Getting sick), it takes A LOT of discipline to stick to the program. The fact that I only missed one workout that I never made up due to illness makes me really proud of myself, as there were many days that I was exhausted or could have done other (more enjoyable) activities, but I forced myself to get my workout done. And I never regretted it.

Additionally, about 3 weeks into the program I started to get really sore knees. Now I have no predispositions to knee issues, but between weeks 3 and 5 I was starting to think I may have to stop the program because my knees hurt THAT BAD. Looking back I attribute to this to a combination of faulty form (choosing speed over form), as well as lack of proper footwear. And by footwear I mean the fact I did the first 4 weeks barefoot on thick rubber mats in my study. Once I got a handle on the knee pain through joint supplements, heat and ice, and modification to exercises, I started wearing my Asics runners for every workout and had almost no problems with my knees thereafter. I also supplemented the stretching provided by Insanity DVDs with my own stretching, but more on that later.

What I learned from my sore knee fiasco is that anyone that is attempting Insanity should really invest in rubber mats for their floor at home and WEAR PROPER WORKOUT SHOES. The amount of plyometric movements (jumping) is high and without supportive shoes your knees and ankles are going to be absorbing the brunt of those movements. And as Shaun T repeatedly says in the videos, watch your form. Of course at first I rolled my eyes at the constant reminder, but once my knees started giving me trouble I REALLY started paying attention to my form, and noticed that sometimes I would sacrifice form for speed. With these kinds of at-home workout DVDs there’s no one there to spot you and correct your form, so take the time to make sure you do the movements right. If you value your joints and muscles, watch your form!

PART II: The Analysis

If you have ever wondered:

Does Insanity work? What are its benefits? What are its limitations? Is it the BEST kind of fitness regime?

Those will be answered here.

So. The burning question: Does it work? In short, yes it does!

before and after

After 2 months I lost inches all over my body, namely my waist and my thighs. I initially lost some size in my arms (probably excess fat or un-toned muscle) which then later came back as my biceps got a bit bigger (yay!). I had no true weight loss goals, but seem to have lost about 3 pounds as well.

During the program, about every 2 weeks you are required to do a Fit Test and track your results.

PhotoGrid_1393886120065The one week you see omitted on my part was during the worst of my knee pain, and I decided it didn’t make sense to attempt it as I would probably fall short of my actual capabilities at that point. Nonetheless, there was definite progress, in some areas more than others. This is a good indication of how your cardio capabilities grow over the 2 month as well as your overall strength.

Perhaps the more important question, however, is whether this is the only fitness regime that will get you results.

Of course not.

Here are the factors that make it work and why you can apply these tenets to ANY fitness plan.

  1. A 2 month commitment of 6 days on, 1 day off – any sort of diligent exercise routine that requires this much commitment will get you results. Whether its kickboxing all week, running, at home videos from Fitness Blender, or a combination of these and many others, if you are active for 6 days out of the week and REALLY pushing yourself, you will see a difference in your body. This kind of constant exercise can be hard on your body though, which is why its not necessarily realistic for long-term use (again, more on this a bit later). This diligent routine however, is no use without clean eating…
  2. A practical nutrition guide – the kit comes with a booklet that helps you lay out your required calories throughout the workout program, and is full of healthy recipe ideas. I was pleased to see it did not preach extreme restriction, conversely it actually ENCOURAGED increasing your intake to ensure you can fuel these intense workouts. It provided numerous recipe ideas for the 5 meals a day that it suggested, and I found myself trying many of these, and was pleasantly surprised at their simplicity and tastiness. IMAG1266

  3. A calendar that lays out your workouts – with the Insanity workout you receive a poster size calender that clearly lays out your goals for the next 2+ months. The benefits of this are two-fold. For one, it gives you a template to follow which takes all the brain-work out of constructing your own workout schedule. Secondly, the tick-boxes next to each day trigger a feeling of obligation to complete each workout. Its like setting an appointment with yourself, psychologically pushing you to feel the need to complete it, or leave you guilty…staring at a blank box.IMAG1267
  4. High Intensity Interval Training as the backbone for the program – Insanity uses Max Interval Training which translates into (on average) 3 minute circuits of intense and full-on effort, broken up by short rest periods of 30 seconds. This gets your metabolism going and gets your heart rate up into cardio levels, perfect for blasting away fat. Bear in mind that this kind of workout is VERY intense, and may not be suitable for everyone.

Are these tools exclusive to Insanity? Definitely not. As stated, any exercise routine that incorporates cardio and strength training 6 days out of the week is going to get you results. Add in some High Intensity Interval training and you’re set. How drastic those results are depend on how hard you work, and what you choose to eat. This is where meal plans and food journals can also be handy to help you structure and keep track of your meals. I cannot stress enough that results I achieved would not have been possible had I not eaten clean for the past 2 months. Aside from a few hiccups (stupid Valentine’s Day chocolates and candies!!) I can say that I ate very healthy. To be clear I didn’t diet or restrict my calories, I was just mindful of what I ate and made healthy choices.

The other tool in the Insanity kit, the calender, can also be used with any workout routine. All one needs to do is grab a blank calender template, fill in the activity you want to complete for each given day, and hold yourself accountable. Tick boxes, use little stickers, or throw a dollar in a jar. Make these workouts like appointments and do not allow yourself to cancel.

Additional Tools Required:

Discipline

I like to define this as doing something that’s necessary, when you don’t necessarily want to! This means when you want to stuff yourself with ice cream, at least 8 out of 10 times being able to direct your craving to a more healthy option. It also means when you plan to go for a run and pull the blinds back in the morning and see rain, that you force yourself to slip on those runners and still go out for your run. Consistency is key.

I’ll be honest, there were more than a few times where I got home from work, tired as heck, and wanted nothing more than to slip into my pj’s and read on the couch. But…I had a workout to do, a box to tick, and I couldn’t get behind or I’d throw the whole program off and screw up my weeks of hard work. This is self-discipline. And its tough. Some days, very tough.

Drive and Motivation 

Having the determination and fire within you to push forward, even when its difficult, and to see through your plan until you reach your goal. You need to want it bad enough.

Limitations:

In my opinion, Insanity workout and other such fitness programs are not built for long-term use and success. Working out 6 days a week for 2 months is do-able, but not realistic for many of us to maintain all year round, and might (as I learned) even become a source of injury. Their primary focus is fast results, and whether these are long-lasting depends on what you do after you complete them. This is the reason why I don’t feel that these programs are suitable long-term and permanent replacement to a gym membership, or running habits, yoga classes, etc.

When I decided to take on Insanity, I didn’t even consider cancelling or putting a hold on my membership at the 30 Minute Hit. In fact, I still tried to make it out twice a week in ADDITION to my Insanity workouts. Why? Because I knew that once the 2 months was up, I would be right back in there, back to my regular workout routine. And, I was going to need to do this if I wanted to maintain any results I may have gained. Insanity wasn’t a replacement to my established workout routines, it was a supplement, and an added challenge. I did not feel that it was suitable as an exercise “lifestyle”.

Having said that, its also important to note that in order to keep the results that you have literally sweated and worked your butt off for, 3-4 days a week of proper exercise and using the 80/20 rule of clean eating is necessary. This means that once the 2 months are complete, you don’t become a couch potato and start eating all the junk food in your line of sight; you have to continue to do cardio and strength training workouts and be conscious of the things you put in your stomach. It also means that you are by no means required to workout 6 days a week to keep a fit and healthy body (yay!).

One negative aspect (and its a biggie) I found with Insanity was that the stretches within the videos are really inadequate. I realized this when my knees, lower and upper back began to get really sore. For a workout that is aptly labelled “insane”, one would think they would put in the time to add in a proper stretch to prevent injuries and help with recovery.

The stretches in the videos focus primarily on hamstrings (a LOT of hamstring focus), quad, groin and calf muscles. Most of the workouts are however, total body workouts. I started including my own stretching after the fact so that my upper body wasn’t ignored, and my lower body was getting the proper attention it needed as well.

(For some awesome stretching videos I recommend Fitness Blender!)

Conclusion

So there you have it. Another challenge done and dusted. I’m glad I did it and got the results that I was looking for. I am really proud that I stuck through it even with my knee pain, worked through my setbacks, and completed it. I learned a lot about self-discipline the last few months.

Now its back to my regular workout routine for awhile to keep the results, but give my body a well-deserved break from the Insanity that wreaked havoc on it for 2 months.

– Veronica