Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jillian Michaels 6-Week 6-Pack Review

At the beginning of the year I started the Jillian Michaels 6-Week 6-Pack because I wanted a tighter core.  Having finished it (and then some) I figured I would review it for you all to give you my take on the whole program:

The Workout
Essentially the program is composed of two levels.  Both are 35 minute workouts with a cardio and stretching warm up, the actual abdominal exercises, and the yoga-like stretching cool down.  From my understanding you are supposed to do Level One every day for three weeks and then Level Two every day for three weeks.

The exercises include things like static contractions, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), mat/floor work, and standing abdominal work.  Jillian mixes it up so you might go from a static contraction into a HIIT or from mat work to standing ab work.  This is meant to keep your body guessing and to keep you from getting too fatigued too quickly.  Also, the HIIT intervals are to make sure that you’re burning belly fat because as Jillian say you’ve got to burn the fat over the muscles if you want to actually see them.

What I Did
Instead of doing the workouts every single day for six weeks, I planned on doing Level One every other day for three weeks and then keeping the same schedule but switching to Level Two for the last three weeks.  I actually ended up doing Level One for three weeks (every other day) and then Level Three for another four to five workouts (approximately 10 days).  I then switched back to Level One every other day for the remaining weeks.

Why I Did What I Did
I chose to do the workouts every other day because I have read some articles (found here and here) that say abdominals should be exercised every 48 hours in order for maximal effect.  I figured I would only be making myself seriously tired if I did Jillian Michaels every single day.  Also, admittedly, it came down to time as well.  I always did at least 30 minutes of cardio before doing the ab workout so that added up to at least 60 minutes of exercise time I needed to devote in any given day.  I don’t know about you but I honestly don’t have that kind of time every single day after school and work and such.

The reason I changed back to Level One after doing Level Two for a while was due to two things: pain and perceived effectiveness.  First off, pain: The first time I did the workout I felt uncomfortable in some of the moves.  Two workouts later I think I pulled a muscle in my upper left abdominal quadrant, up around my ribs.  It really hurt and basically every single exercise exacerbated it.  I was stubborn and did the workout two more times before Jack talked some sense into me.  Second, perceived effectiveness: My abs didn’t feel as worked the next morning after a Level Two workout as they did after a Level One.  Level two had a lot of lunges and squat-like work so I felt like I got more out of it for my booty than my abs.  So, to feel like I was getting the most out of the workouts I stuck to Level One.

How Tough Was It?
I may have cried.  Basically, it was hard but you could totally feel it working so it was a “worth it” kind of hard, not a “screw this” kind of hard.  Pretty sure I yelled at Jillian Michaels on my computer screen too, a bunch.

The Results
I would say that I was pleased with the results.  I don’t think they were as drastic as I thought they would be but I totally attribute that to the fact that I didn’t do the workouts every single day but rather every other.  Though, given the option of “overtraining” versus the option of “less drastic results”, I’ll take the latter any day.  Thanks.  Below are my before, during, and after pictures so you can see what I saw every week.  If you click on them they get bigger and I will say that the pictures do less justice to the results than being in person.

SeriesSeries 2

I will say though that the biggest results for me where how I actually felt after the 7 weeks and how I feel today. My abdominals feel stronger. My whole core feels more “corseted”.  The below picture is from a few days ago which means it was approximately 12 weeks after the beginning of the program for me.  It is roughly 5 weeks after I stopped doing the workouts every other day.  I still do ab workouts, sometime even the Jillian Michaels ones, at least three times a week but I wasn’t doing the full 35 minutes every other day.  I think I still look pretty good.


I would recommend the workout, honestly.  It was a god experience and I think it worked pretty well.  If you’re looking for a stronger core, try it out!

Questions: Have you tried an abdominal workout that you particularly enjoy?
What is your trouble area you’re striving to change?

[I did this on my own. I was not compensated nor was I
encouraged by any party to write this review.
All the opinions I have expressed are my own.]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Riddle Me A Mystery

Welcome to another Wednesday, another hump day!  We are halfway through the week and I can’t believe we’re just days away from April.  When did that happen?

Breakfast was a scrumptiously large breakfast cake with wheat germ and banana added in along with lots of peanut butter on top.  It was perfect for the ride to class.


Psychosocial Aspects class was awesome today.  We talked about comparative risk disclosure and how that effects the decision making process for people.  For those of you who are wondering what comparative risk is, it is essentially telling you whether you are “above” or “below” average.  So if I were to tell you that you had a 6% risk of breast cancer in the next five years, the comparative risk data I would give you (in a completely hypothetical situation) is that you are above average because the general population risk is 3%.  This gives the patient/client a ballpark figure with which to interpret and analyze their own personal risk.  Get it?  We also learned about verbatim versus gist knowledge.  Verbatim knowledge is essentially learning/repeating the exact risk number while gist knowledge is the way you have interpreted the risk in general.  Once you have assimilated the information and decided whether it is something you should be worried about or not, that verbatim knowledge has shifted into gist.

We walked back to the student all the way across campus/the city in the sunshine.  I immediately started to prep everything for my 3 sibling patients.  Around 12:30 I remembered I should probably eat before going to clinic so I grabbed my lunch from the fridge.  I had tempeh “chicken” salad in between two pieces of bread with a side of celery, carrots, tomatoes, and hummus.


It was just what I needed to fill me up and keep me focused during my session.  Afterwards I meandered back to the student room and tried to get some report writing done.  I only managed to get a bit done before I headed home on the shuttle.  As soon as I got home I worked out on the elliptical and the stationary bike while reading The Last Song.  I’m tearing through this sucker and it’s good so far.

For dinner after my elliptical session I whipped up some creole tuna and served it over lentils.  The lentils were perfect.  I only cooked them for 15 minutes and then let them sit on the stove in the hot water for another 5-10 as a finished up the tuna.  Worked great!  The tuna was good and certainly was easy as I had literally everything I needed already in the house (I even added some celery to the mix) but it lacked a bit of flavor.  I couldn’t figure out what to add to it…


I also had an apple on the side for some extra nutritional value.


My post-dinner time was spent typing up some notes and watching the DVRed hour of The Biggest Loser from last night.  I can’t wait for next week because it’s the makeover episode!!!  I am a total sucker for that one, I cry every time.  A bit later in the evening I wanted something sweet so I made myself a mug of chocolate frozen yogurt, crushed Thin Mints, some chocolate and caramel sauce, and butterscotch chips.


I was also going to have an almond patty (think peanut butter cup, only with almond butter, and a peppermint patty having a baby) but then I remembered what my nutritionist said about having a piece of fruit in place of half my dessert calories to decrease my non-natural sugar intake late in the day.


So I grabbed an orange instead and called it a night.  I’m fairly proud of my decision so I’m trying to hold on to that instead of thinking about how much I would have loved that almond patty.  I’ll have at it another time.


To finish up this post, I figured I would leave you with some nice dancing pictures from this past weekend taken by a fellow dancer with a penchant for photography:


Questions: What are your thoughts on fruit as dessert?
Do you prefer almond or peanut butter?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Birthday Cake And Chameleons

Today was a long day of work and prep.  I woke up and grabbed breakfast on the way out the door.  In the bowl: steel cut oats topped with chai latte protein “frosting”, sliced bananas, chia seeds, and wheat germ.


It was delicious and didn’t last three minutes in the shuttle on the way to class.  Cancer genetics was about the ethical issues involved in testing individuals as well as some slides on new genes that may or may not adjust cancer risks as they may play mitigating roles in gene-gene interactions.  It was interesting but long.  After the two hours were over I headed back to the student room because Cytogenetics was cancelled.  I did some result faxing and some patient prep for tomorrow before heading to work.

I've been learning all about Loeys Dietz syndrome and Shprintzen-Goldberg syndrome (SGS) this week.  Both are incredibly close when it comes down to features and such but SGS typically has more developmental delay and a VERY low risk for familial recurrence which would not be consistent with sibling involvement…

After doing a few stages twos at work we settled down for lunch real quick.  I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side of tomatoes and an orange.  Small but satisfying. There is something about a PB&J that you really can’t go wrong with.


I went back to work and then returned to the student room for a few more moments of printing and prepping.  On my way out the door I busted out an apple and headed to the shuttle for home. 


Once back I got on the elliptical for 18 minutes followed by the stationary bike for another 18 minutes.  I followed that up with a 12 minutes ab circuit.  I did the following twice:
  • 1 minute plank
  • 1 minute of full sit ups (keep your feet on the floor to work your lower abs!)
  • 1 minute of kayak paddlers
  • 10 side crunches each side
  • 10 plank left lifts each side, alternating
  • 3 downward dog abdominal tripulls each side
When I finished I was famished so I chopped up a salad and topped it with some taco seasoning, medium heat salsa, and Mexican shredded cheese.  I may or may not have gobbled down a pickle and a handful of chickpeas while I was chopping…


Super duper delicious cream soda to drink on the side.


I immediately showered afterwards and hopped in the car to go to Jess’s birthday party.  She is a fellow first year and she turned 23 today.  Youngin’!  Anyways, we had puppy chow, peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies, plus a very cute cake that was dedicated to her beloved home state.


There was also playing with the chameleon (named Wally) and house of cards building and destroying. 


All in all a good night with good conversation. I think we’re so very different outside the classroom than in it. I much prefer our less-stressed versions. =D


Before I head to bed I will leave you with a tune that really spoke to me this weekend.  The lyrics grabbed me and Jack told me I should take notice.  Perhaps I’ll just have to blast the the song a bunch and dance around my apartment to it…oh wait, I’ve already done that.  Hehe.

Questions: What is your dream birthday cake?
Have you ever seen a chameleon as a pet?

Monday, March 26, 2012


What a wonderful weekend it was my friends.  I am completely worn out and tired and sore but it was all so worth it.  We in the swing dance network have a word for this:


Oh yes, it’s a glorious feeling.  If it hurts a bit, oh well.  It reminds you of the great dances you had.  If it means you need an afternoon nap or you’re slightly grouchy the whole day, oh well.  It makes you think about that awesome groove session you had at three am followed by the blissful sleep session that didn’t end until noon.  A tiny bit of perfection, I think.

Anyways, because I’m still recovering from the weekend, I leave you tonight with some random bits and bobs from the internet.  My mind can’t really do much more than that at this point so take from the following what you will and let me know your thoughts.  Also, have a wonderful night.  I’m off to bed.


Thoughts on gene patenting from The Human Genome: Poems On The Book Of Life

Very neat cake from The Roxycakes Blog


Great image for all those of you trying to visualize Panem in The Hunger Games

A happy note from The End Of The Line…The Waist Line tumblr

The Berger cookies I desperately need to make ASAP from Something Swanky

Girl crush material for the week: Katee Sackhoff

The Maldives: where I would rather be right now (aside from my bed)

Questions: How was your weekend?
What are you looking forward to this week?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hunger Games Review

This post contains some intimate details of The Hunger Games movie.  If you don’t wish to be spoiled please come back and read this post after you have seen the feature presentation.  Believe me, I am confident in saying that you should go and check it out ASAP.  =D  Continue at your own risk!

Yesterday Jack and I went to see the highly anticipated movie.  I was beyond excited and it did not disappoint!  Let’s start with the trailers though, I need to tell you that I saw one of the silliest, stupidest movies ever: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

No joke.  It looks ridiculous!  I can’t believe they actually made something like this.  For all my history buffs out there, I’m so very sorry.  In other previews we saw another vampire movie that is set in the 1970s…again, a bit weird for my tastes.  The Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 trailer was also shown and it didn’t immediately turn me off but how are you really supposed to swing the line “We’re the same temperature now” and make it sound enticing??  Yea, that’s what I thought.

Anyways, movie time!  It was a great presentation.  I was very impressed.  While the content of the book, simply by its nature, is very dark and saddening, the filmmakers did a good job getting the point across without going overboard.  I really enjoyed that the whole thing wasn’t overly gory (which, let’s be honest, it easily could have been when you have poor children killing other children for “sport”) and it stuck fairly close to the book.  Now, let me clarify what I mean by “close to the book” though before anyone jumps on my case.  I simply mean that while there were differences between the two (how could there not be?) there were none so glaring that I was angry, disappointed, or distracted.  For me, I count that as a win.  Another thing I liked was how the game control was portrayed.  It was very much a game, not an arena where anything can happen.  Cool technology.

So, on another note, I may be a sap (which is especially dangerous in non-waterproof mascara) but I should let you know that I cried three times:

1. The Reaping: I couldn’t even handle it when Katniss steps up and volunteers in place of her sister.  The screams, the emotion, the heartbreak.  It was like it was actually happening.

2. Rue’s death: The death was awful to watch and Katniss’s reaction was gut-wrenching.  It made you really mourn the passing of a character you had seen in all of seven scenes.

3. Cato’s death/the end of the games: Crazy, huh?  That I would cry over the “villain” of the series but really it was the whole scene, the whole situation.  He realized he was dead and that there was nothing he could do about it.  Then he dies and you can almost feel the relief of tension in the movie, a catharsis of sorts.  There are hugs between Katniss and Peeta and then the announcement that there can only be one victor.  How sad and scary that must have been.  Nuts…

Next, I wanted to take a moment to comment on the characters since they are the heart of the whole film and we had come to know them so well through the book(s).  First off, the whole cast is one good looking group.  I mean just check out the tribute bunch:

Needless to say, I think the casting directors did so well in picking the people to play our beloved cast.

Katniss is portrayed in such a way that she is strong and vulnerable at the same time.  There are moments where you actually believe that the horrors are actually happening to the actress, not that she is pretending.  It was powerful stuff.  For Peeta, I must say that he makes bewilderment look super cute.  He played his role well and I really got attached.  The next two movies are going to be hard.  Gale was a strong, mostly silent presence, but for the moments we did see him I think he was cast well.  Effie, though, was probably my favorite.  I honestly think she stole almost every scene she was in.  He little wobbly tendencies, over-exuberance, and quick witty one liners were great.  “Manners!”  The great costuming I think helped everyone really be one with their characters too so props to the designers!

On a slightly downer note, there was one thing that I really didn’t like and that was the choppy camera work here and there, heavily in the beginning of the film.  I get why this kind of imaging was used as I presume it was to really impress the gritty nature of life in District 12 and the chaos of the whole situation.  It sort of made me slightly sick for a few brief moments but once you get past it, the rest was totally fine.

In the end, the bottom line is that the movie was great and it is totally worth a watch, or five.  I kind of wish it was already on DVD because I want to watch it again, right now, tonight, please.  Sadly, to do that any time soon, means shelling out another $7-10…  We’ll see.  Anyways, I loved the movie; I loved the book; and I cannot wait for the second and third ones!  P.S. I need this sweatshirt.  =D

Questions: Have you seen The Hunger Games movie yet?
Are you planning on, or have you already, read the book before seeing the film?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Get On The Floor

Hey everyone!  Last night was one of the best Friday nights I have had in a while.  The majority of it (basically from 9:30p to 3:30a) was spent on the dance floor.  Jack and I are at our annual lindy hop exchange having a blast.  I spent the night whirling everywhere, chatting with people I haven’t seen in months, and even getting my groove on in the middle of a jam circle, just me and my partner in the spotlight.  I was so nervous but it was a lot of fun.

Between the evening dance, which ended at midnight, and the late night event, which started at 12:30a, a few friends and I went for some late night drinks and considering that all I had had to eat was a salad at 7:30 earlier that night, I was not in the greatest of shape after a half hour.


Thankfully there were peanuts and clementines to snack on.  After a whole sleeve of delightfully salted peanuts, oh man yum, and a little baby orange, I was feeling so much better and I spent the rest of the early morning bluesing it up on the floor.  I enjoyed every second of it.


Bed happened around 4am and I woke up at 11am this morning ready to do it all again.  Jack and I are headed to a BBQ afternoon dance today from noon to 3:30 and then we’re doing something I have been sooooooo excited to do: WE’RE SEEING THE HUNGER GAMES!!!!!  I wish you could fully understand how pumped I am for this. It’s going to be insane.

After the movie we’ll do dinner and then it’s off to another evening dance and late night adventure.  I’m thinking I’m going to be utterly tired come 3:30 in the morning but it will so be worth it.  Have an awesome Saturday!

Questions: Have you seen The Hunger Games?
If so, what are your thoughts?
What’s your favorite kind of dance?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Forgive Me If I Fall Asleep

I can’t believe it’s already past 9 o’clock at night.  Where did the day go, seriously?!?  It was packed, I would say, with good eats, good people, and good times at work.  So let’s honor that all with a What I Ate Wednesday post, shall we?

I woke up and started off with a chocolate protein banana breakfast cake topped in cookie butter, syrup, and chia seeds.  I ate it at my desk by lamp light as I checked my e-mail and such before actually getting going with the day.


I ended up walking to class in the beautiful sunshine and actually ran into two of my classmates also on their walking way to class.  It was nice to have buddies to finish off the 20 minute jaunt with.  When we got to class we were met by a marriage and family therapist who specialized in the transgenerational effects of genetic testing/genetic information.  We spent the two and a half hour lecture talking about at-risk and known-risk/diagnosed families.  We discussed how their dynamics changed, how the information shifted coalitions/alliances between family members, and how you can never “un-know” information.  Intense stuff.

Towards the end of class I was getting rumbly in the tummy so as soon as we got back to the student room (we walked in the sunshine!) I broke out my grape tomatoes and TVP “pate” sandwich.  Essentially, to make the “pate”, I mixed one tablespoon each of yogurt, mayo, and salsa along with two tablespoons of Mexican cheese and then a fourth cup of TVP that had been rehydrated in veggie broth and liquid smoke.  This morning I smeared half of it on bread with some mustard and it was delicious for lunch.


After practically inhaling my food, the students headed over to support Morgan (a 2nd year) in her graduate thesis presentation.  She did such a great job and then she ended on a sour note when someone go all up in her business asking questions that really weren’t relevant.  They were actually kind of mean, I would say.  Anyways, we all smiled and lent our silent support.  She was very well composed.

Later, I snacked on an apple while I researched premature ovarian failure (POF).  Basically this is menopause before age 40.  One of my first thoughts was Turner syndrome.  This is a great place to start unless there is fertility involved as Turner patients are almost always infertile.  If patients are fertile, fragile X syndrome is a more reasonable hypothesis.  Women who are carriers of premutations in the FMR1 gene can have premature ovarian failure along with some mild facial features though often POF is all they show.


I hopped over to work for a while and did some pellet thaws before heading on a walk for home.  It was still as sunny as when I ambled to class in the morning but it was at least three times hotter.  By the time I stepped into my apartment I was all sorts of sweaty where my bookbag crossed me.  I figured I shouldn’t show up to my massage/chiro appointment all damp so I changed my shirt and headed out, snagging a protein bar in the elevator on the way.


My masseuse surprised me with her old copy of Runner’s World before she worked out all my kinks for a nice long hour.  When I laid down I was up front about being tired.  “Please forgive me if I fall asleep…” I said and fall asleep I did, very quickly.  I remember her starting on my head/face and arms but when she got to my legs and back I was a goner.  What can I say, I was sleepy and super relaxed!

I headed to Target after my back-to-back appointments for some salad fixins and more of the above nutrition bars.  I also may have gotten mildly carried away and picked up siracha for Jack when he’s around and some baby dill pickles on massive clearance for me.

Upon arriving at home, I changed into shorts and a t-shirt.  Since I hadn’t worked out yet for the day I figured I should get a bit sweaty on purpose this time.  It was already 7ish so I decided to do a living room routine.  I started off with the 4-minute workout I shared a bit ago and then did two cycles of the following circuit:
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 5 pushups
  • 20 sit ups
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • 30-45 second plank
  • 7 burpees
With my heart rate up a bit, I started slicing and dicing for dinner.  I sautéed some onions, garlic, green peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes in some sun-dried tomato oil and then I threw in one egg and two egg whites with some cracked pepper.  Once the whole thing was well scrambled I took it off the heat and topped it with salsa and Mexican cheese.  On the side I had pickles, carrots, and celery with BBQ ranch to dip.


As I sit here now, close to two hours after dinner I find myself thinking that I should pack for this weekend.  Yea, tomorrow night is too tightly squeezed with things to put clothes and toiletries together.  That leaves only now before I head out to dance the weekend away…  Alright, alright, I give in.  I’ll do it.  Later group!

Questions: What is your favorite way to cook eggs?
What is your favorite kind of pickle?
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