I've been feeling particularly positive over these past two weeks - more energetic and enthusiastic, and I swear I'm seeing results at a faster pace, and I say that as someone who has learned that results don't happen over night.
For starters, Ripped In 30 is just as hard as it was when I started it in May. Changing the circuits every week has really prevented your body from learning the moves which keeps it difficult, concentrated and effective. And as I'm only using the DVD 3 times a week rather than 6, each day stays hard. Even slightly dreadful.
My single day of yoga has been made more interesting by practising Qigong beforehand, and after Wednesday's active recovery session, I'm feeling a difference on Thursday: I've got as much energy as I had on Monday, and I can get through the next 3 days of exercise as though I just had a weekend. I can't believe the difference that one day of low-intensity exercise in the middle of the week has made on pretty much every part of my week. Yes, I do still have days when I'm in a bad mood, other days when I just don't feel like exercising or eating clean, but when I'm not feeling that way I'm feeling really positive instead.
And then there's Kukuwa. Oh my goodness. I've used a lot - a lot - of different dance workout DVDs. A number of 10 Minute Solutions (5x 10 minute routines), Hip Hop Workout 1 & 2 (4x 10 minute routines), Zumba, even Irish step dance, but not one of them compares to this. The first thing I noticed was that your whole body truly is constantly moving. All of the dance workout DVDs I've used have had impressive-looking moves once you've learned them, but it can take about 4 run-throughs of the section to learn the moves enough to actually be able to do the routine. In Kukuwa, the movements are very simple and you can nail them in a single run-through. It's hard to do them wrong. But, funnily enough, that actually makes them more effective. Because they're more energetic than showy, there are big arm, leg and body movements - even your head and neck get really involved. And because your body is moving so much, you really do burn a lot of calories. Because the moves are quick to learn, you can easily get a lot more out of the routines a lot sooner, and really enjoy it because you're not getting frustrated with getting the moves wrong. Plus the instructor and the music are both impossible not to get excited about. Kukuwa Nuamah is so positive and enthusiastic, she really loves what she's doing, and the African music has a beat and rhythm you simply cannot ignore. In short, so far, I am loving Kukuwa, and I can say, whole-heartedly, that it's the single best dance workout I've ever used. I'm still sceptical about the claim of burning 1,000 calories, but I'd say it has a much better chance at achieving that than any other dance workout there is. Plus I don't have any kind of calorie tracker so I have no way of knowing for certain.
So the past two weeks have been tough, fun and surprisingly refreshing. I'm enjoying my exercise once again - it had begun to feel like a chore - and I swear I'm seeing quicker results. It could be my imagination, I grant you, but like I said before, I'm very sceptical about effectiveness of pretty much anything because there are no quick fixes, but there is a reason the system of 3 days strength/HIIT, 2 cardio, 1 yoga and 1 rest is suggested in so many cases. Changing your workout every 4-6 weeks is bang on, but it seems that doing a selection of different things throughout the week - not just the fact of strength, cardio, pilates, etc but rather the type of cardio, pilates etc - can have a big impact, too.
I've been trying to cut down on carbs, too, which is a hard thing to do. I have no intention of cutting them out whatsoever because I exercise so frequently that I need and use them, but I noticed not long ago that biscuits had become a little too frequent in my day-to-day so by saying 'no bad carbs' I'm curbing the habit. It's only temporary - I love biscuits - so I'm cutting them down, not out, otherwise I'll be miserable, break and binge. But it can be tough because 'carbs' gets in your head and you start turning to protein and healthy fats instead, like my recent obsession with salmon and moringa omelettes, and you start to forget that you need fruit. Fruit are carbs but they're so necessary for health and for weight-loss because of the fibre and all the vitamins. Those are carbs you can't cut out, but, like I said, 'carbs' can get into your head and you start trying to cut all of them out. I'm trying to make sure that that doesn't happen. And, as I said, this is only temporary. I still need carbs because I exercise so often, but if I'm hungry then opting for something heavy in protein and accompanied by healthy fats is far from a bad thing. I just have to make sure I get a bit of fruit and plenty of veg every day.
As always, I'll update again in 2 more weeks, but I'm certain I'll have nothing bad to say!