Jillian Michaels is scary. My sister thinks she looks like a man (“You’ve seen her right? She’s kind of weird looking.”). Gym Buddy Megan thinks she’s a drill sergeant (and not in a good boot-camp way, more in a scary person in cammo with too much power way). You all remember what the clerk at Barnes & Noble thought of her. The general consensus is that she’s fun to watch from a safe distance but only masochists would want to work out with her.
I like masochism. Kidding. What I like is that she’s honest. Intuitively we all know that those Hollywood Hardbodies don’t really get that way doing “30 minutes of cardio three times a week with 5 Simple Toning Moves You Can Do With Your Dog.” And yet we all believe the loads of crap that celebrities and the rags feed us about their workouts and diets. Jillian cuts through all that crap in the first chapter of Making the Cut:
This book is not for the faint of heart. Over the next 30 days you are mine, and this is your bible. […] This is not some namby-pamby “lifestyle” book that’s going to waffle on about moderation for “better health” and leave you with the warm-fuzzies. It’s about seeing how far you can go, getting a little crazy, and maybe along the way making that ex of yours want you back. The bottom line? It’s about getting in the best shape of your life – so let’s get ripped.
Every workout guru out there promises amazing results and very few deliver but she’s so transparent about the work that goes into those photo shoots/book covers/media blitzes that I kinda believe she can deliver on her big promises. Her workouts look seriously intense. Her diet plan is insane. The whole program is crazy.
And I like crazy. Our last few Experiments have kind of felt like treading water so I wanted to try something for June that would really shake things up.
Before you can embark on this mission of madness, you have to pass Jillian’s test. She’s very specific about who this book is written for. First you must be looking to only lose the last 10-20 lbs of “vanity weight.” Second, you have to have a “moderate” level of fitness which she defines as being able to pass the following test:
1. Step on and off a 12-inch step for three minutes. Take your pulse for one minute. You need to be 119 or lower for women (107 for men).
2. Do as many push-ups (“Girly push-ups? I don’t even want to hear it – toughen up or go buy someone else’s book.”) as you can in one minute. Girls need 12 or more, men at least 30.
3. Do as many sit-ups as you can in 1 minute. 25 or more gets the girls in, 31 gets the men.
4. Do a wall sit. Minimum of 30 seconds is required although 60-90 seconds is expected.
I’m not even going to pretend to call this a “nutrition” plan. It’s a diet. First you should know that she expects you to survive (and work out) on your BMR (basal metabolic rate) – the number of calories your body needs just to survive. If you already know yours from metabolic testing, use that. Otherwise try this calculator.
Next, take her quiz either by shamelessly camping out in Barnes & Noble with a pen and paper or: someone who fears lawyers less than I do posted Jillian’s actual quiz here. Once you know what kind of oxidizer you are then you should use the following macronutrient ratios:
slow oxidizer: 60% carbs/25% protein/15% fat
balanced oxidizer: 40% carbs/30% protein/30% fat
fast oxidizer: 20% carbs/50% protein/30% fat
Then either make meals that fall within your allotted calories and follow your ratio or buy her book and use her very specific meal plans (recipes included). If you choose to go your own on this, it will help to use a calorie tool to track your numbers. I really like the (free) Cron-o-meter. You just type in your percentages and then look up the foods from their very extensive database or type in your own info.
In her book she provides daily workouts based around 5 circuits involving both weights and HIIT (high intensity interval training) that are supposed to be completed in under 45 minutes. Due to my previously mentioned fear of copyright lawyers I will not be posting her workouts here. You can make up your own 45-minute sets of circuits or use ones you find on the net or in a magazine. Hers look pretty tough though so if you’re set on doing this experiment then you’re probably best off just buying the book or seeing if you can get it from the library.
She requires (!) you to commit to a minimum of 1 hour a day 5 days a week. Extra cardio or twice-a-day workouts are up to you, depending just how crazy you want to get about this. Her only caveat is to do the cardio after her circuits.
One interesting point – she schedules in rest days (every Wed, Sat & Sun). So this will actually have Allison and I working out less than our usual. But hey, I’m sure we’ll make up for it with intensity! (And for all you smart-alecks who pointed out to me that 5+3=8 and not 7, let me clarify that she wants you to commit to working out 5 days a week. Her circuits only take up 4 days so you have to come up with something on your own for the fifth day – probably some low-and-slow cardio.)
It’s a very strict 30-day plan. She outlines what you will be eating, drinking and doing in the gym every day in detail. I plan on doing her workouts to the letter. Her diet? Not so much. I can’t live on 1300 cals/day (my BMR) much less work out, wash dishes and not snap at my children. So I’ll eat according to her macronutrient ratios and follow her suggested foods list but I will not be counting my calories.
*Note: her last chapter is about how to “peak” for a big event and endorses many tactics like caffeine pills, lengthy sauna trips & treadmill runs in heavy clothing to sweat out extra water and extremely low-cal/low-carb diets (600/day). She warns to only do it for a week to get in “peak” form. I would warn you to never do it. Ever. I get that fitness models and celebrities do this kind of nonsense which is exactly why I’m glad I’m not one. The Gym Buddies and I are not doing the “peak week.”
Readers Rachel, Seabreeze & Colleen already said they’re in. Any other crazies out there??