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.  🙂

 

Post-Reset Check-In

I completed the Beachbody Ultimate Reset 17 days ago.  Today’s post is to provide an update on how my life is progressing post-Reset.

Body Stats

My weight has been pretty constant since the Reset ended.  I’ve been gaining and losing 1 pound.  I’ve lost a little bit of fat, and gained a little bit of muscle.  So, on average, I’m around where I ended on the last day of the Reset, which is great!

Exercise

One of the things that I missed during the Reset was my morning workout routine.  During the Reset, you are not supposed to workout at all, with the exception of some light exercise like walking, yoga, and tai chi.  Before the Reset, I did a variety of high-intensity exercise programs, like Insanity.  During the Reset, I did yoga and Insanity recovery workouts – nothing too intense.

When the Reset ends, there is a transition plan that you are supposed to follow.  As part of this transition plan, you are supposed to only workout to 50% of your maximum ability for the first week following the Reset, then give it 100% thereafter.  After the Reset, I started doing some Jillian Michaels workouts that were pretty easy to me before the Reset (the 30 Day Shred workouts).  These workouts were shockingly more difficult that I remembered, and I even got sore from them!  I was definitely out of the groove after not working out for 21 days.

I started Focus T25 the 6th day after the Reset ended.  These workouts also had not been all too hard for me before the Reset, but they were really challenging for me after the Reset.  This was a good thing!  Though, it was definitely frustrating to see how unacclimated my body had become to working out.  I took is slow, definitely giving more than 50%, but not quite 100%, and in time, began pushing myself harder and harder.

I’ll be starting week three of Focus T25 on Monday, and I feel like I’m back into the groove now.  I’m “nailing” those workouts, and it feels great!

Food and Drink

I’ve been following the transition plan post-Reset.  I described this in my last blog post.  Basically, it’s doing the Reset in reverse minus the supplements (though I did order the Maintenance Kit, which includes Optimize and Alkalinize, which I have been taking).  When you complete the Reset, you had been eating only fruits and vegetables for a week.  The first week after the Reset, I slowly started reintroducing  grains and legumes into my diet.  I stopped following the Reset Guidebook.  Instead, I started having a Vegan Chocolate Shakeology for breakfast every morning.  For lunch, I built a salad from my office cafeteria’s salad bar (full of good things like raw spinach, carrots, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, green peppers, onions, oil and vinegar).  For dinner, I would make us a recipe from the Ultimate Reset book, or we would go out and order something that conforms to our diets.  Le Pain Quotidien was actually pretty wonderful for this.

The second week, we started to add tempeh and sprouted grain breads into our diets.  We also started to increase the amount of grains and beans that we consumed.  Sprouted grain breads are essentially Ezekiel breads.   These breads use only sprouted organic live grains, unlike the bread that we normally have, which are, I guess, dead.  Ezediel bread is pretty good!  I started making a sandwich of Ezekiel bread, guacamole, smokey tempeh, cucumbers, spinach, sprouts, onions, tomatoes, and red pepper.  It’s pretty awesome.

Post-Reset Sandwich

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I really loved tempeh during the Reset, so I was very happy to finally have it back!

Now, I’m 3 weeks after the Reset.  According to the transition plan, you can now begin reintroducing non-Vegan Shakeology (Yes! Greenberry, I have missed you!) and some animal proteins, like eggs and yogurt.  When I had my first hard-boiled egg, I had been completed VEGAN (not just vegetarian) for a full month.  Next week, is when all of the fun is supposed to begin – sugar, soda, coffee, alcohol, chicken, and fish.

Well… halfway through week three post-Reset, it’s my husband’s birthday.  So, we’re going to start all of that week four stuff a couple of days earlier, and I have no problem with that.  We’ve been really good for over a month.  I know that not everyone who does the Reset really follows the transition plan afterward, so I think I’m ahead of the game right now.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to (what was) the first certified-organic restaurant in the country and had dinner to celebrate his birthday.  This seemed very much in the spirit of the Reset.  We had fish, wine, and refined sugar a couple of days early.  We had an avocado-crab appetizer, which was amazing.  I had scallops and vegetable risotto for dinner, and my husband had halibut and vegetables for dinner.  We split a small chocolate cake and a bottle of wine.  Let me just say that alcohol really hit me.  Normally, my husband and I could drink a bottle of wine easily, no problem.  I was feeling the alcohol effects after the first glass!  That’s crazy!

Today, on his actually birthday, we had a very nice brunch.  I ate completely vegetarian – an appetizer of various dips (parsley, beets, and tzatziki); a carrot-ginger soup; eggs with mushrooms, a salad, and potatoes; and split a slice of walnut cake with my husband for his birthday.  Everything was amazing.  I also had a couple of wonderful cocktails – one make of vodka, Greek yogurt, honey, lemon, and rosemary.

Alcohol Epiphany:  I’ve changed my general attitude toward alcohol as a result of the Reset.  This is important.  Being sober for 30+ days sucked, but it was helpful in that it made me realize that alcohol is an accessory, it’s not an entree.  I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am going to waste calories on alcohol, that alcohol had better be AMAZING.  I’m talking fancy hand-crafted cocktails, craft beer, and fine wine.  I’m not sure I’m going to drink crappy alcohol (e.g., PBR) with the sole intention of getting drunk anymore.  If I’m going to drink, it better be something decent.

Meat Epiphany:  I’m thinking the same way about meat as well.  While I was never much of a fast-food (e.g., McDonald’s) type of person pre-Reset, it demonstrates my point.  If I’m going to eat meat, I don’t think it’s going to be a McDonald’s hamburger; it’s going to be grass-fed filet mignon or kobe beef.  I’m not interested in putting garbage into my body.

Reactions:  As you start to reintroduce new foods, you are supposed to listen to your body to ensure that you’re not experiencing any bloating, gas, skin, or sinus problems, which could indicate a sensitivity or allergy to the newly introduced food.  Until recently, I haven’t really experienced anything like that.  I’ve been having some minor digestive discomfort over these birthday celebrations, which could really be attributable to anything, so after this weekend, I will be sure to get back into the clean-eating groove.  It’s good to note that, this morning, after drinking wine, I did not feel wrecked.  I was really worried about how alcohol would affect me.  So far, so good.

My FREE Reset T-Shirt Arrived!

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Reminder

The Reset is ON SALE for a couple of more days – until the end of March.  Buy it here and start your journey!  This is truly an amazing life-changing experience that I would recommend for anyone who thinks has it in them to do it.  It is very rewarding, but it is far from easy.  If you’re looking to start the Reset, I am happy to help coach you through the process.  Please comment below.

Day 15

Today, I enter the final week of the Beachbody Ultimate Reset – the Restore phase.  During this phase, I’ll be eating mostly fruits and vegetables that are easily absorbed by the body for optimal nutritional value.  I think grains are completely cut out of the diet.  This phase comes after the detox phase, and it helps bring healthy bacteria back into your “freshly scrubbed” digestive tract by introducing pre- and probiotics to help restore the metabolism to maximum efficiency.  This is accomplished through the final supplement – Revitalize.  Revitalize comes in a capsule form, and its consumed three times a day.

While I am on the topic of supplements, I ran out of Mineralize yesterday.  Since Mineralize is only pink Himalayan salt, I just went out to the grocery store and bought some.  But, for those of you who don’t have the luxury of an organic supermarket in the neighorhood and need to send away for these things, make sure to have some extra pink salt on standby in case you run out.

This morning, I decided to try something new.  My usual morning routine outside of the Reset is a 30-60 minutes workout, usually something intense, like Insanity, to help wake me up and get my blood flowing in the morning.  I’ve never been a morning person, so, to me, this is essential to be minimally pleasant before noon.  On the Reset, you are not permitted to workout because your body is receiving such an intense inner body workout.  Plus, I don’t think you’re really consuming enough calories to really support your body during intense training.  Exercises like yoga, tai chi, stretching, and brisk walking are fine, but no Insanity, unfortunately.  This was one of the big adjustments for me, and I was skeptical whether I would be able to survive mornings without the jolt of adrenaline first thing in the morning.  Somehow, I’ve been surviving.  I’ve been doing free yoga videos that come on Xfinity On Demand.  They’ve been great, but I really missed Shaun T.  Today, I remembered that there are Recovery workouts that come with Insanity that I could do.  It would probably be a step up intensity-wise from the yoga I’ve been doing, but I was willing to try it.  Well, when I do Insanity, I normally substitute Core Cardio and Balance for the Recovery workout, because the Recovery workout is just too easy, doesn’t make me sweat, and isn’t enough to get my blood pumping in the morning.  Well, this morning, it got the blood pumping, and I was even sweating.  My muscles were literally shaking during some of the moves.  My legs are already feeling sore from this morning.  This makes me nervous about starting Focus T25 after the Reset is complete, but I’m going to jump on it anyway.

Also, this morning, I weighed myself for the second time of the Reset.  I’m down 2.4 pounds since day 8.  That means I’m down 4.4 pounds in only 15 days!  Not bad for a 5’2” tall chick.

During the final week of the Reset, breakfast is fruit only.  You’re supposed to choose low glycemic fruits, like berries, and avoid tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples.  I’m skeptical of the ability of fruit to keep me satisfied until lunch, but I guess it worked today.  One of my raspberries was shaped like a heart, which made this first day of the Restore phase extra special.

Day 15 Breakfast

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Last night, I prepared lunch for today – an Asian “cabbage” salad, 1/4 sliced avocado, and miso soup.  I put cabbage in scare quotes because I didn’t have cabbage.  Unfortunately, the labels in the grocery store produce aisle weren’t accurate, and my husband picked up mustard greens instead of napa cabbage.  It’s okay.  We’ll make do.  We had some extra Romaine lettuce, so instead of cabbage, I chopped up some Romaine and used that instead.  This lunch had a lot of onions in it.  The Asian salad had both raw red and green onions, and the miso soup had green onions.  I had to run to back-to-back meetings in the afternoon, and was so tempted to grab some gum or a hard candy to get the taste/smell of the onions out of my mouth.  Well, none of that is allowed on the Reset!  I chewed on some herbal tea leaves (it was all that I had in the office), and that helped a little, but I still felt bad for all who I came in contact with this afternoon.

Day 15 Lunch

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Dinner was awesome!  And by “awesome,” I mean baked sweet potato awesome!  Against my better judgement, I’m a huge fan of carbohydrates.  I was very happy to see a baked sweet potato on the menu for dinner.  I’ve actually never baked a sweet potato before.  It was heaven.  I’ll definitely be doing that again.  The sweet potato was accompanied by garlic veggies – broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and red bell pepper sauteed with garlic, lemon, olive oil, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  They were fine.  The sweet potato stole the show.

Day 15 Dinner

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Day 5

Everything that I’ve been hearing and reading about the Beachbody Ultimate Reset says that days 3 through 5 are the most challenging.  Beachbody recommends starting the Reset on a Wednesday specifically so that you can avoid these difficult days falling on work days (Monday through Friday for most folks). 

I am almost done with day 5 and have not really felt particularly challenged yet.  I went into the Reset knowing that I would be saying no to drugs and alcohol for 21 days (drugs = caffeine. Why, what were you thinking?!).  Resisting caffeine and alcohol is more of a psychological shift than a physiological pain for me.  Despite the fact that I would drink at least one cup of coffee during work days and pump up on Redbull on the weekends, I haven’t really experienced any caffeine withdrawal.  While I would like to be drinking alcohol on Friday and Saturday nights (especially outside on nice days like we’ve had in DC this weekend), I can resist it.  I think that days 3 through 5 might be really hard for people who are coming into the Reset with real addictions to things like caffeine and sugar, and for people who are making drastic dietary changes.  Pre-Reset, I normally ate things like quinoa and seaweed (think: sushi, miso soup), and stayed away from sugar and fast food.  So, I’m lucky in that this isn’t that hard (so far!).  The hardest part for me has really been the planning.  

Day 5 breakfast was supposed to include farina with walnuts, apples, and maple syrup.  Now, when I went grocery shopping according to the grocery list the Beachbody compiled for week 1, “rice cereal” was on the list but “farina” was not.  As a result, I ended up buying a hot brown rice grits-type cereal, not actual farina.  I doubt it’s a big deal.  Also, instead of maple syrup, I used raw agave nectar because I opted not to spend the money on maple syrup that it didn’t seem like we really used that much throughout the program.  It turns out maple syrup is used a lot more than agave nectar, so I am kind of regretting that choice.  But, boy, is agave nectar delicious!  Can’t say I mind much.

Day 5 Breakfast

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Lunch included a quinoa salad and hummus and raw veggies.  I love hummus, so I was very happy to see that the recipe called for a whopping 1/2 cup of hummus!  I was a pretty happy girl for lunch.

Day 5 Lunch

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The Reset recipes are slowly taking out animal proteins.  In retrospect, I don’t think that I had any today (unless there was something in the hummus).  It’s really amazing how veggies can fill you up until dinner time, which I will be having soon.

Today was another beautiful day in the District, so my husband and I went out for a couple of nice long walks.  You are not permitted to do strenuous workouts during the Reset – only walking, yoga, tai chi, or stretching.  Since I am used to doing high-intensity cardio workouts (Insanity is one of my favorites) in mornings before heading into the office, this is a big change for me.  On day 1, I tried the Tai Cheng sample workout that comes with the Reset DVDs.  Tai Cheng is basically a low-impact Tai Chi program developed by Dr. Mark Cheng.  While I could see the value of the workout, it was really putting me to sleep first thing in the morning, and I preferred the 20-minute yoga workout that I did the following day.  The sun salutations really helped wake me up a little bit in the morning, and since I perpetually drag early in the day, that’s essential for me in a morning exercise routine.  Did I sweat?  No.  Did my heart rate go up?  No, not really.  I can’t wait to go back to my normal exercise routines after the Reset.  My goal is to begin with Focus T25, then do Insanity, and then Insanity the Asylum.  I already own and have completed each of these, but I feel like I will really get the most benefit out of them doing them in sequence again after the Reset.  I’d say the next 5 months are pretty well planned.  Can’t wait!

The final meal of today is miso soup (my husband’s specialty!), stir-fried veggies, brown rice, and nori gomasio.  I made an extra batch of stir-fried veggies last night, have a big batch of brown rice in the fridge, and a bunch of nori gomasio, so my evening looks pretty easy!  I’m going to go start prepping for tomorrow now.  No rest in the Reset.