My Review: 22-Minute Hard Corps

Well… I did it!  I completed 22-Minute Hard Corps!  While I’ve been posting in here somewhat regularly regarding my progress and the workouts, I also wanted to do a final summary of thoughts on the program as a whole.

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A happy girl finished with 22-Minute Hard Corps!

The Basics:  For those who are just now reading my blog, 22-Minute Hard Corps is an eight-week military-style bootcamp at-home fitness program developed by celebrity trainer Tony Horton.  Workouts are only 22 minutes, and they’re a mix of cardio and resistance training DVDs.

What did I love about this program?  I loved that it was only 22 minutes long.  This is one of the shortest workouts out there produced by Beachbody (with 10-Minute Trainer and Focus T25 being similarly short).  Having done many at-home fitness programs, I believe that 22-Minute Hard Corps is easily the most efficient workouts you can get for the time you’re spending exercising.  I also love Tony Horton.  He’s an awesome trainer.  I loved that the moves were not normally complicated.  The branding is also awesome.  It honors veterans and the military by using real military veterans in the workouts, it’s filmed in all sorts of military-themed locations, and the bootcamp-style seems pretty authentic.

What did I not like about the program?  The workouts can get repetitive.  With only three cardio and three resistance workouts over the course of eight weeks (nine weeks if you do the optional Hell Week), I was starting to get bored near the end of the 2 months.  Plus, many of the moves are similar.  For example, there is some variation of a burpee in every cardio workout AND some of the resistance ones as well.  Going into this program, I LOVED burpees, really I did.  But Hard Corps made me never want to see one again.  😛 There are also two core/abs workouts, but you do the same moves in both workouts, you’re just increasing the number of repetitions.  You also do the core workout every other day, with your cardio workouts, so the core workouts got a little repetitive too.

Was it hard?  Sometimes, yes.  I’m a graduate of many of Beachbody’s toughest programs, like Insanity and P90X, and Hard Corps kicked my ass at times.  Cardio 2 is one of THE hardest workouts out there, primarily due to the gorilla crawls and the way they’re incorporated into the larger workout.  Your legs are toast at the end.  I found all of the workouts doable, but challenging, and I got ridiculously sweaty in the mere 22 minutes.  Here’s a peek at each of the moves from Cardio 2, which I contend is one of the hardest workouts Beachbody has made:

Can anyone do this program?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no.  I know that Beachbody probably likes for all of their programs to be workable for people of all fitness levels and there IS a modifier for all of the moves, but without totally modifying some of the moves into completely different moves, I don’t think Hard Corps is for everyone.  Some of these moves are VERY hard on your joints.  I consider myself to be a pretty fit person, and I woke up one day after Resistance 3 and my knees were in severe pain from mountain squats.  There are many moves in this program that put a lot of strain on your knees, elbows, and joints.  It is very important that you’re doing these moves on a comfortable, cushioned surface.  Get a mat.  So, if you have issues with those types of moves, there is something else out there for you.  Let’s chat if you need some recommendations.  Here are the mountain squats that messed with my knees:

I will also note that I experienced a bit of lower back pain during this program, which is NOT normal for me.  I would randomly pull a lower back muscle and need to modify for a day or two until it improved.  That had never happened to me during another workout program before.  I think it was because I wasn’t warmed up enough before jumping into the workouts, as the warm-ups are very short.  I found that the pain happened more during the resistance workouts, so I started warming up before all of the resistance workouts with the Cold Start (10-minute warm-up) and I never had back issues again.  So, I would definitely recommend incorporating the Cold Start warm-up as much as possible.  It’ll make your workouts 10 minutes longer, but it’s worth it.

What is Hell Week?  Did you do it?  Yes, I did.  I didn’t come so far to crap out at the end!  If you haven’t had enough after eight weeks of 22-Minute Hard Corps, you can choose to complete the optional Hell Week at the end.  The Hell Week includes 2-3 workouts a day, so 44-54 minutes of workouts a day, rather than just 22 minutes.  It is very hard, and you’re wasted at the end of each day, but it’s amazing.  I felt very challenged during Hell Week.  Here’s the Hell Week calendar:

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Hell Week Challenge

Did you follow the nutrition plan?  No.  I’m generally pretty healthy with my diet.  I drink Shakeology everyday.  I’m also a weekday clean-eating vegan.  On the weekends, I’ll do some calorie splurges and enjoy some cocktails, but no, I did not really change my diet at all for this program.

Did you use any supplements?  Yes.  I used Energize, which is a preworkout energy drink.  It’s all natural – no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives, and NO FILLERS.  It’s vastly superior to every other preworkout drink on the market, including my old preworkout drink – Energy and Endurance.  My cardiovascular endurance really improved during the program and I could push a lot harder and longer through my workouts, and I attribute some of that to Energize.

What kind of results did you get?  Honestly, being in pretty decent shape already, I didn’t lose a ton of weight.  I wasn’t really trying to lose weight, though, just trying to push my body to do something new and outside my comfort zone.  I lost around 5 pounds, but I did improve drastically with my muscular endurance on some of the moves, like the gorilla crawls.  The first time that I did Cardio 2, I could maybe do half of the gorilla crawls.  By Hell Week, I could do all of them.  I also could barely do pump jumpers (from Resistance 3) when I started, but could perform them no problem by the end.

Would you do it again?  I’m a Team Beachbody coach, so I hate saying this,  but I’m going to be honest here… No, probably not.  I might do some of the workouts here and there, but I’m not really interested in doing the program start to finish again.  It was a little too repetitive to me.  BUT I’m very glad that I did it, as I feel like I did get a lot out of it, and that it did wonders for my muscular endurance and really helped chisel my abs, but there are other programs out there that I’d rather do first.  Sorry, Tony!  I still love you!

I’m interested in this or maybe some other program, but I need some support and accountability.  Where can I get that?  It just so happens that I am online health and fitness coach!  I’d love to help hold you accountable with 22-Minute Hard Corps or some other program!  I can plug you into one of my accountability groups, which are free when you purchase a program through me!

Where can I reach you?  You can message me on Facebook or email me at distilledjill@gmail.com.

What comes next for you?  I’m on day 2 of the Master’s Hammer and Chisel!  So far, it’s awesome!  Check back here for more on that.  🙂

 

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From Prix Fixe to 21-Day Fix Extreme (and Vegan!)

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my calories. My favorite kinds of meals are found at fancy restaurants, where I can order a prix fixe menu with multiple courses and wine or cocktail pairings carefully curated to each of the courses. That is my heaven. I thrive in that environment. Give me foie gras, fondue, charcuterie, and any other French word that sounds like a heart attack on a plate, and I’ll wash it down with a martini, Malbec, and Amaro.

Luckily, I’ve learned to confine that type of diet almost exclusively to the weekends, and now I focus on being a 100% clean-eating vegan during the week.  It helps me focus, get better sleep, and feel happier, which all helps with the 9-to-5 universe. Going all out on the weekends definitely keeps the week in perspective and gives me a great outlet on Friday evening.

So what happens when the weekend splurging ends? What happens when bottomless mimosa brunches get replaced with a strict 21-day regimen of carefully calculated meals?  What happens when this city dweller, who thrives on trying new restaurants and cocktails, gasp! goes on a diet?  Specifically, I’m talking about the 21-Day Fix Extreme.

Now, I’m no stranger to diet and exercise programs. Last year, I did the 21-day inner body tune up known as the Beachbody Ultimate Reset. It helped me bust through a weight-loss plateau and really helped transform my perspective on what I put in my body. During the Reset, you are mostly eating vegan and you’re encouraged NOT to exercise, since your body needs to focus on detoxing rather than repairing muscle. That program was wonderful, but I wanted to try something different this year.

The 21-Day Fix Extreme caught my eye. Why? After doing the super-intense Reset, I figured I could do this Fix for 21 days (I can really do anything for 21 days!), it was super cold outside (so bar/restaurant-hopping is less appealing), and I really wanted to see what would happen to me if I really dialed in my nutrition AND exercised according to the program for 21 days.

So, what is the 21-Day Fix Extreme?

The 21-Day Fix Extreme is a diet and exercise program.

Exercise:  You get seven “extreme” 30-minute workouts, one for each day of the week— so your mind never gets bored, and your body never adapts. The workouts feature a unique blend of steady-state aerobics, resistance training, and explosive power moves that target every muscle in the body—to help you get shredded fast.

Diet: For your nutrition, you practice portion control and eat ONLY clean foods (unlike the original 21-Day Fix, which allows its participants the occasional chocolate or glass of wine). No treats. No cheats. No excuses. The program comes with a set of color-coded containers. Each container corresponds to a different type of food group. For example, red is for protein, and green is for vegetables. You do a simple equation to figure out how many of each container you can eat in one day. You spread out the containers throughout the course of the day as you like.

Here is a short video on the 21-Day Fix Extreme.

Promotional Materials: 21-Day Fix Extreme

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What did you eat on the 21-Day Fix Extreme?

Based on a simple calculation based on my weight, age, and other factors, I could have the following each day:

  • 3 green containers (vegetables)
  • 2 purple containers (fruit)
  • 4 red containers (protein)
  • 2 yellow containers (carbs)
  • 1 blue container (healthy fats)
  • 1 orange container (nuts/seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons (oils)

In order to make the program even HARDER, you’ll never guess what I did. That’s right – I made it vegan. On the 21-Day Fix Extreme, the only vegan protein options are tofu and tempeh (and some powders). Luckily for me, I like both.

Breakfast: For breakfast every day, I had chocolate vegan Shakeology (1 red). This is something that I have for breakfast every day anyway; however, I had to make it with water rather than almond/coconut milk, which is what I usually use.  I got one fruit serving in during breakfast by adding 1/2 banana to the Shakeology.  Since vegan protein options are restricted for the 21-Day Fix Extreme, I used two different types of plant-based protein powders to help me get my 4 red containers.  For the second week of the program, I added some pea protein to my morning shake, and in the third week I used hemp protein.  The Shakeology did a great job keeping me full until lunch time, especially with the added protein.

Lunch: I had pretty much the same lunch every day mostly for the sake of ease and convenience.  I made a salad of the following:

  • 1 green = spinach
  • 1 green = 1/3 onion, 1/3 red bell pepper, 1/3 tomato, and/or a little carrot
  • 1 red = tofu
  • 1 yellow = quinoa
  • 1 orange = raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • Freebies: balsamic vinegar, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cilantro

Snack: I had an apple (1 fruit) as a snack every day between lunch and dinner.

Dinner:  Though I had the same breakfast, lunch, and snack every day, dinner was something that I tried to mix up regularly.  I’ll tell you about some of my favorite vegan dinner options.  Though these are vegan, they can be easily made nonvegan by replacing the protein with an animal-based protein (e.g., chicken).

Here’s some dinner recipes I came up with:

Guacamole Tofu

  • 1 red = tofu
  • 1 blue = 1/4 of an avocado
  • 1 green = 1/3 tomato, 1/3 onion, 1/3 peppers (jalapeno, red bell)
  • 1 yellow = black beans
  • 1 teaspoon = olive oil
  • Freebies: pink Himalayan salt, red cayenne pepper, fresh-squeezed lime juice, cilantro, garlic

I essentially made guacamole with the avocado, veggies, and black beans, cilantro, seasoning, and lime juice; cooked the tofu with garlic and oil; and then topped it with the guacamole.

A Typical Day on the 21-Day Fix Extreme

collage of meals

Roasted Tofu, Asparagus, Baked Sweet Potato

  • 1 red = tofu (I mixed it up with a flavored “savory” tofu)
  • 1 green = asparagus
  • 1 yellow = small sweet potato
  • 1 blue = avocado
  • 1 teaspoon = olive oil
  • Freebies: Garlic

I baked the sweet potato; roasted the tofu with asparagus (tossed in olive oil with cloves of garlic); and added avocado before serving. The avocado reminded me of a butter substitute for the sweet potato. It was delicious!

Dinner of Tofu, Asparagus, Sweet Potato

Dinner of tofu SP asp avo

Indian-Style Tofu Curry

  • 1 red = tofu
  • 1 green = 1/2 tomato sauce, 1/4 onion, 1/4 spinach or broccoli
  • 1 blue = coconut milk
  • 1 yellow = 1/2 quinoa or brown rice; 1/2 garbanzo beans
  • 1 teaspoon = coconut oil
  • Freebies: garlic, red cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander seed, fresh grated ginger

This was my absolute favorite invention from the 21-Day Fix Extreme, and I continue to eat this regularly for dinner even after the program ended! I heated the coconut oil, added the garlic, onion, and about 1 teaspoon of each freebie spice (except ginger, which I added near the end). Then I added the tofu and coated with the spices. If I were doing broccoli, I added that with the garbanzo beans. I added the tomato sauces and coconut milk, and let it cook. Near the end, I stirred in the quinoa and spinach. I used either broccoli or spinach depending on which I had on hand.

Indian-Style Tofu Curry

indian tofu

What were the workouts like on the 21-Day Fix Extreme?

The program includes a different workout for each day of the week – each only 30 minutes long and each with a modifier:

  • Sunday: Yoga Fix Extreme – I am not a big fan of yoga, but I really liked this efficient yoga workout.  It is probably about 1/2 vinyasa sun salutations and 1/2 balance postures. There were people modifying to make it both easier AND harder in the video. The one guy in the video is really amazing – doing headstands and arm balances, but Autumn does NOT do some of the super crazy poses, so rest assured. This is a yoga workout that can be done by almost anyone.
  • Monday: Plyo Fix Extreme – Mostly jumping moves with weights. A great workout to get your heart-rate up.
  • Tuesday: Upper Fix Extreme – A series of upper body moves, mostly done with dumb bells, but also with a resistance band.  I am not normally a big of resistance bands in workouts, but I really enjoyed the moves that used the band, as I feel like it helped me target underutilized muscles.
  • Wednesday: Pilates Fix Extreme – Like yoga, pilates isn’t really my thing, BUT I thought pilates using the resistance band was a lot of fun!  I wasn’t really out of breath at all during this workout, but I did definitely started sweating near the end.
  • Thursday: Lower Fix Extreme – A great lower body workout, also uses both weights and the resistance bands.
  • Friday: Cardio Fix Extreme – Great cardio workout that utilizes weights.
  • Saturday: Dirty 30 Fix Extreme – A total body workout that uses weights. I really loved this one.

The workouts are extreme, but they’re not impossible.  I love Shaun T and his Insanity workouts – those are my “soul mate” workouts – but the 21-Day Fix Extreme is NOTHING like Insanity, which is definitely extreme, intense, difficult, not for beginners, and sometimes complicated.  The 21-Day Fix Extreme can be done by beginners, especially if you modify.  The moves are NOT complicated.  They are pretty basic, tried and true moves, sometimes tweaked to help burn more calories.  You’ll see a lot of simple moves, like lunges, squats, and shoulder presses.  Autumn is not trying to reinvent the wheel.  She is kind of the opposite of Shaun T in that you might not be able to do Shaun’s plyo pushups the first couple of times you do his workout, but you work to get there.  Autumn only has 21 days with you, so she is going to give you moves that you CAN do to be as efficient with your time as she can be.  They’re simple and effective moves that you can make harder by adding heavier weights or putting more into it (i.e., jumping higher).

So, what kind of results did you get doing the 21-Day Fix Extreme?

Okay. I HATE HATE HATE sharing my before-and-after pictures. BUT I took them so I could get my free 21-Day Fix Extreme t-shirt and enter the Beachbody Challenge and perhaps win some cash prizes!  So, since I took my pics anyway, I might as well share them with my readers.

Before-And-After: 21-Day Fix Extreme

before and after collageAs you can see, I lost almost 9 pounds total doing the 21-Day Fix Extreme. On a short 5’2″ girl like me, that’s quite a bit! And I can assure you that was not all water weight, as I have a fancy scale that measures water, and my water levels stayed pretty constant throughout the program (actually, they increased a little, see below). I am most proud of the definition that I got in my abs! (Right?! You can totally see that!)  I was honestly VERY surprised that I got such great results, as I feel like I have done much harder workout programs and have seen LESS results.  I think that the simplicity of the program allowed me to really focus on pushing harder, lifting heavier, and having proper form.

Weight: -8.8 pounds

Fat: -2.4%

Water: +2.3%

Muscle: +1.4%

Would you do the 21-Day Fix Extreme again?

Yes, absolutely!  It is hard for me to find 21 days to block off on my schedule because, as I mentioned, I like to do a lot and often have food/drink-related events on my weekend agenda, but i would definitely do this again if I can find the time.  It would be great to do leading up to a vacation or special event.  It really helped me break through a plateau and helped teach me better portion control.

How do I order the 21-Day Fix Extreme? 

Go here to order the challenge pack, which comes with Shakeology (i.e., one of your meals throughout the 21 days, which is really a huge time and prep saver).  Alternatively, you can order the base kit here, though the challenge pack is really the better deal.

How can I know that I will succeed if I do the 21-Day Fix Extreme?

As with any health and fitness program, you get out of it what you put in. No one is going to do the program for you. You can’t expect to see results if you don’t do the work. BUT I can offer you my free coaching services to help you get through the program just as I did! I can help you stay accountable to meet your health, fitness, and wellness goals. Please go here to sign up for a free Team Beachbody account.  I will become connected with you as your coach, and I will contact you to learn more about your goals and talk to you about how to get started.

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Life After the Ultimate Reset

Well, I’m 3 full days off of the Beachbody Ultimate Reset.  So far, so good.  While my goal in doing the Reset was truly to set my body back to its factory settings, rather than lose weight, do you think I kept track of my weight loss stats?  Oh, heck yeah.  The morning after completing the 21-day Reset, here were our results:

RESULTS/STATS

My Results:

Weight Lost:  8.2 pounds*

BMI:  On day 1, my BMI was 25.2 (overweight).  On day 22, my BMI was 23.7 (normal).

Fat:  Went down 2.5%

Water:  Interestingly, went up 2.4% (shows that you don’t just lose water weight on the Reset – I actually lost no water weight!)

Muscle:  Went up 0.8%

Bone:  No change

*I weighed myself 3 days after the Reset ended, and I was down another pound.  So far, total weight loss is 9.2 pounds.  So, you don’t start gaining weight as soon as the Reset ends.

My Husband’s Results:

Weight Lost:  8.4 pounds

BMI:  On day 1, his BMI was 22.0 (normal).  On day 22, his BMI was 20.8 (still normal).

Fat:  Went down 1.8%

Water:  Went up 2.2%

Muscle:  Went down 0.3%

Bone:  No change

FOOD

Now that the Reset is over, I am trying to follow the transition plan to reincorporate foods into my diet.  This first week, the focus is bringing back grains and legumes.  You are supposed to introduce grains first, see how it goes (i.e., make sure your body does not react unfavorably to the grains), then introduce legumes.  I am 3 full days out of the Reset, and I’ve reintroduced 1 serving of grains, and 1 serving of legumes – with one day in between them where I only consumed fruits and vegetables.  So far, I haven’t noticed any adverse bodily reactions reintroducing grains or legumes.  So far, so good!

Day 1 Post-Reset:

The first day after the Reset, I had Vegan Chocolate Shakeology for breakfast, blended with coconut water and 1/4 of a banana.  On the Reset, we could substitute distilled water in Shakeology for coconut water, which I didn’t do during the Reset.  So, I’m using coconut water now before getting into “milks.”  Shakeology has never tasted better!  While I could have had it every day during the Reset, I really tried to limit it only to days where I needed it as a snack to make it to dinner.  So, I’ve really missed Shakeology.  I’m so happy to have it back!

For lunch, I went to my office’s cafeteria.  We actually have a pretty decent salad bar.  I built a salad with spinach, raw carrots, mushrooms, green peppers, sunflower seeds and oil and vinegar.

Finally, for dinner, we went to Le Pain Quotidien.  I had never been to one of these before, and was very happy to see so many vegan options on the menu.  I got a “detox salad,” which had cabbage, quinoa, greens, avocado, nuts, and carrots.  It was amazing!  And it felt so good to have had someone else chop up all the veggies!  My husband got the same thing plus an order of chia seed pudding.  Since all of their sweeteners are “raw” and we could have raw sweeteners on the Reset, I assumed it would be okay for us to have a little chia seed pudding the day after the Reset.

Post-Reset Dinner

LPQ

Day 2 Post-Reset:

Same routine – Chocolate Vegan Shakeology for breakfast and salad bar for lunch.  For dinner, we made my husband’s favorite recipe from the Reset – the roasted squash.  I added a side of lemon-pepper kale.

Day 3 Post-Reset:

Same breakfast.  For lunch, I added beans (kidney, black, and lentils) to my raw salad to reintroduce beans into my diet and see how my body would react.  For dinner, we had the Reset recipe of Asian Stir Fry and more lemon-pepper kale.

So far, I’m still doing the vegan thing.  I’m going to try to wait to reintroduce animal proteins for 2 weeks, as Beachbody recommends.  I have no intentions on staying vegan (or vegetarian) permanently, but I’m still considering my long-term options as I continue to reintroduce new foods and listen to my body.

STATE OF BEING

I still feel about the same as I did on the Reset.  I’m still sleeping very well.  My energy is still up, though week 2 was definitely the peak of my energy, and it’s been holding steady since week 3 started, though not a strong as week 2.  Otherwise, feeling pretty good!  No digestive issues yet either.

BEACHBODY CHALLENGE

I entered the Beachbody Challenge today!  Every day, Beachbody gives away $500 in prizes, and a $100,000 grand prize!  You don’t have to lose the most weight or gain the most muscle in order to win something.  Plus I get a free t-shirt for completing the program.