After initially being disappointed by the Extreme Shed and Shred's poor advertisement, I've actually come to quite love it. No, neither workout is the 45 minute workout I had expected, and yes, there are only two jiu-jitsu moves between them both, but I actually ended up enjoying it. I also realised I was pushing myself too hard by trying to do an hour a day - meaning both level 1 and level 2 together, totalling 70 minutes minus warm up and cool down - as I fell ill and became really quite unmotivated, which is unusual for me and my exercise. You all know by now that I'm weird.
So at the beginning of week 3 I decided I wouldn't try to do the full double workout, but instead just do one level a day. I had to consciously remind myself that Jillian Michaels' workouts are hard, and both levels are difficult on their own. Once I realised that, I found myself more able to enjoy both workouts, I had more energy, I felt more positive and by the start of the 4th week I was over the illness.
Of course, during the third week I had ended up swapping out cardio days for the Extreme Shed & Shred instead, which meant I did Level 1 on Monday, Level 2 Tuesday, 1 Thursday, 2 Friday and 1 & 2 on Saturday, with yoga as usual on Wednesday. Its true that JM workouts are a mixture of cardio and strength training, but it's all very high-impact and that makes it physically demanding, which is as good as doing strength training every day. Not good.
So at the start of the 4th week I got myself back on track, choosing whichever level I felt I could do on strength days (level 1 if I felt tired, level 2 if I was ready for something a little harder), and on cardio days I stuck with Kukuwa and a bit of kickboxing.
I don't really have much to say about the workouts from the 2-week update, but that's because while I usually would have spent 2 weeks using level 1 and then 2 weeks using level 2, I jumped right in because I was confused and put off by the claims of 'two 45-minute workouts' whereas it's actually one 30-minute and one 40-minute workout that she wants you to do consecutively as one '60 minute' workout that actually becomes 70, plus 10 minutes for warm-up and cool-down. And I know it shouldn't necessarily be that much of a big deal - you're probably saying "if it said it was 2x 45, but is actually one 30 and one 40, what's the problem?" - but the issue I had was that I was expecting something like Hard Body, but when she said, before anything started, that she wanted you to do the 'full 60 minutes' of level 1 and level 2 together, I thought "oh...wwwwell that sucks, but if I do them both together then that's only an extra 15 minutes on top of what I expected. I can do that." And yes, I could do that, but it turned out to be 25 minutes on top of what I expected, and it was tough right from the word 'go'. Every day the warm up had me tired out. Initially I thought I was just overdoing it or I hadn't slept right and was still tired, but it was every day. And though I consider level 1 to be easier than level 2, it still begins with burpees and lateral jumps. It was not easy. But I still felt like I had to do the full '60' because she made it seem as though just one level wasn't going to be enough.
The purpose of the DVD is to get you 'extremely shedded and shredded in the shortest time possible', so if there was an event a month away that you wanted to lose weight for, then doing the full 60 minutes and following the meal plan would get you there. That's not the case for me, I want to lose weight at a steady pace but I also really enjoy exercise, so I'm not in any kind of rush. I would rather get in a good workout every day 6 days a week and have the energy to function than wake up miserable like I kind of started doing at the beginning of week 3 and loathe the idea of moving.
Having said all of this, I would still most certainly recommend the DVD, but only if you go into it looking for two 30-minute workouts. I usually throw in my all on a Saturday since Sunday is a rest day, so I did the full 60-minutes every Saturday, but honestly the 30 minutes of level 1 is enough. It's a great mix of cardio, strength and yoga, with a number of kickboxing moves making up pretty much half of the cardio sections, and when you know a yoga pose is coming, it's easier to throw everything into the cardio. I mentioned that the first move of level 1 is a burpee with a lateral jump, and that is murder, but when you know that the second move is holding a downward-facing dog, it's so much easier to max out the first move because you know you have a 30-second breather right afterwards.
Kukuwa has been great fun, too, and the 'advanced' section really is much harder than the 'intermediate', but no less fun - though it does take a little longer to learn the moves. But, as with any dance workout where becoming familiar with a routine is key to keeping up with them, patience and practice are important. It took longer but I got them down - even so, after using Extreme Shed & Shred every day in week 3, I didn't move beyond the 4th routine of the advanced level of Kukuwa, so I have yet to find out what the final 2 or 3 routines are like, but even so, the first 4 get your heart thumping like crazy and even more than the intermediate level, which you might remember me saying last month was quite possibly the most effective dance workout I've ever encountered, and quite likely ever will.
The leggings I treated myself to at the start of this month - the acid rose 3/4 from USA Pro - fit exactly the same as the black lotus ones I bought a while ago. They're the same size, same brand, same everything except the print, really, but when I wore the black lotus capris in week 2 I thought they felt a little looser around the waist than they were the last time I wore them, which was 2 weeks before. I thought perhaps they'd just gotten old and broken in - though it was sudden if that was the case - and I'd find out for sure when I wore the acid rose the next week. Except I started to get suspicious, so instead of wearing the acid rose the next week I wore my most unforgiving pair: the taos salar capris from Fabletics. The top of the waistband on those is quite thick and the very top hem isn't very stretchy at all, which is why I consider them so unforgiving: if you've gained - not even gained, just bloated - even a little bit they will let you know.
And yet when I put them on the next week, they were loose.