These past two weeks have been amazing, which is funny because I've not felt very comfortable with this month's workout. There's an element to Extreme Shed & Shred that makes me generally...uncomfortable. I can find no other word for it. It's not that it's hard - well, it is, but that's not why I'm not happy with it. I think it's because it's not what I expected, but at the same time I feel like there's more to it than that, but I can't identify it.
At any rate, I am a little disappointed with the DVD, though I love it at the same time.
The reason I'm disappointed is more technical than practical: I feel the DVD was poorly advertised.
For starters, I was expecting two 45 minute workouts - that's what the DVD says, after all - but what I got was a 30 minute workout (level 1) and a 40 minute workout (level 2), excluding warm ups and cooldowns, and Jillian says from the start that they're both 30 minutes and that she wants you to try to do both level 1 and 2 together, totalling an hour. But it's not really an hour, it's an hour and 10 minutes.
I went in expecting 45 minutes, but I decided to do the 'full hour' since it was only an extra 15 minutes and I suddenly felt like 30 minutes would be ineffective (a very wrong assumption made before I'd even finished the warm-up), but it ended up, as I said, as an hour and 10 minutes - 25 minutes longer than I'd prepared myself for. And that's a considerable increase.
The second reason I feel it was poorly advertised was because, as you may remember me saying at the start, it was a fusion of strength, yoga, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. Well, there's plenty of strength, both with weights and body weight training - though level 2 felt more weight-based to me - and there's a good amount of yoga, too. In fact level 1 starts with burpees with lateral jumps (I died before I even started that, just the thought of it killed me), but you can really throw your all into that when you know that the second move is a static downward facing dog. Lovely.
There's a good amount of kickboxing, too, with both individual moves and combinations, so that's great.
But the thing I was looking forward to most was the jiu-jitsu because I'd never done it before, and it supplied me with the greatest disappointment. The movements supplied are unlike anything I'd ever done and, subsequently, were quite a challenge to complete a set of. But there were only two moves, and both of them were in the final circuit of level 1, never to be seen again. I was gutted.
Because I did both level 1 and level 2 on the first day, I broke the barrier that usually keeps me doing one level for 2 weeks and the other level for the second two weeks, so I've ended up sort of alternating them, and that's also led me to mess up the second week by doing no cardio at all, and just alternating the level each day. And I think that's also sort of knocked my mind out of whack a little. I usually spend two weeks building up to the next level but this time I sort of threw it all in together, and I kind of feel like I have less to strive for. Crazy, I know.
"But wait!" I hear you cry. "You said these past two weeks were amazing!"
Well, they were, to be honest. Though I'm disappointed in the advertising of the DVD, I do like the two workouts. I find level 1 the most interesting because of the jiu-jitsu, the lesser use of weights and all the other new body weight moves I've not done before, whereas I find level 2 a bit more of a challenge because the weighted moves are also new. I'm still certainly challenged on both levels, though, and I think they're both actually as difficult as one another, though level 1 seems easier because I enjoy it more.
I've also, for some reason, been eating better. I don't really know how it happened, I just suddenly stopped craving sweets, I started eating more whole food rather than diet bars and snacks like that, and I've even started cooking more - yes, I'm still focusing on eggs and smoked salmon because I love it, but I've been daring to try other things, too. Suddenly, I'm far more aware of what's actually in my local supermarket.
And while I didn't have my two days of exclusive cardio last week, I have still been using Kukuwa whenever I only do one level. I said that 'intermediate' was great fun and a real full-body dance workout - the truest full-body dance workout I've ever seen and may well ever see - and I wasn't really sure how 'advanced' could be much harder. My goodness did I find out. It's madness! The movements are bigger, faster, shorter, there's more packed in, and it's not 30 minutes but 35, with seven routines instead of six. I'm not sure I'll even manage to fit all seven in this month! I'll try, of course. The three dances I've used from the 'advanced' workout are insanely enjoyable. The second, choreographed to Mafikizolo (Mafikizolo Sibongile), is simply the most fun I've ever had dancing. It's just stupidly good, and the song is simply awesome. But the third dance to Rabidanti (Funana) is mental. And I mean mental. It's a crazy person's dance; you're throwing yourself around like there's something wrong with you. And I don't mean that in any kind of negative way, either. It's simply awesome. You cannot do that dance and feel self-conscious, because if you feel self-conscious you wouldn't even try it; you're forced to throw away your inhibitions and just have fun, and for that I love it. It stops being a workout, and yet at that point also becomes so much harder, too. It's a seriously intense workout. I love it.
So, so far, this month has been awesome. I am disappointed, yes, because the Extreme Shed & Shred wasn't what I expected, and my expectations were such for fair reasons. So I think I'm allowed to be disappointed. But, all the same, it is a damned good DVD and I look forward to using it. Or, I look forward to level 1. I seem to forget how difficult level 1 is, but when I think of level 2 all I see are my big weights and that somewhat puts me off. Even if samurai squats make me feel powerful. I'm a Feudal Japan nut, after all, so combining weights and sword movements gets me a little too excited.