Yesterday was my Jillian workout day #15, which is exactly halfway through her 30-day program. At least, it’s halfway through in time. I’m pretty sure it’s far less than halfway through in effort. She increases that exponentially every week.

This workout was the first time I felt I had to make a serious concession. Jillian wanted me to do dips until muscle failure. It was hard to tell for sure, because we only have assisted dip machines at Bally’s and no unassisted dip station, but muscle failure seemed to come for me around dip zero. I did about two or three half-dips, and had to switch to adding (which is really subtracting) fifty pounds of weight to finish seven more.

But I am getting stronger! I can do all her crazy push-up variations for the number of reps she asks, ten, twenty, whatever. I’ve increased the weight I’m lifting in shoulder raises, shoulder presses, rows, and flys. For years I’ve been using the same dumbbell weights for those exercises, and now I’m using two to five pounds more per arm! And I can now do a full minute of whatever cardio jumps she throws my way!

On page 143, Jillian promised the following:

Stick with it, and your clothes should be fitting differently by the end of week one; by the end of week two, you should see dramatic changes in your physique; by week three you should be feeling more confident, strong, and fit than you ever have in your entire life; and by the time the program is complete you should be ripped — as long as you’re consistent!

It sounds great! My clothes, however, did not feel like they fit differently at the end of week one. In the middle of week two, I lifted my arm to blow dry my hair, and my shoulder looked huge and striated. I guess that counts as “dramatic changes in my physique,” just not the ones I was really looking for.

Yesterday, at the end of the first two weeks, my abs were showing good signs. I can kinda see tightness in the obliques if I lean a certain way. Then I came out into the living room and looked at my abs in that mirror, and I couldn’t see it anymore. It’s so hard to tell what’s your imagination or wishful thinking.

My weight hasn’t changed, but my bodyfat might be down. I have one of those bodyfat scales, and the reading fluctuates a lot each day, so I try to discern trends. I’m not counting calories like Jillian’s diet plan says to. I’m eating low carb in the hope that I will naturally eat less; but with the amount of peanut butter, cheese, and full-fat plain Greek yogurt I squeeze in, I may be at my usual breakeven. Research shows that there are two types of people: those lucky types who lose weight from the calories they burn in exercise, and those others of us called “compensators,” who eat back every last calorie burned in exercise with uncanny accuracy, without even trying. I’ve been a compensator all my life; I think I’m doing it again, low-carb style.

I’ve begun to piece together the idea behind Jillian’s exercise program, and it’s really fascinating. At first I couldn’t figure out how you could get away with just one set of each move. It turns out, she’s really having you do five to seven separate exercises that come at the same muscle group in slightly different ways. She’ll have you do one exercise with light weight and high reps, and the next with heavy weight and low reps. Sometimes she “supersets” one after the other. Sometimes she pre-fatigues you on purpose. At the end, you could not be more fatigued. Friday of the first week, I crashed on my bed at 6 PM as if I had just run a race.

Mondays and Thurdays are front of the body (chest, quads) and Tuesdays and Fridays are back of the body (back, hamstrings). That way you can do full-body workouts four days a week! On Thursday I’m still sore from Tuesday, but it doesn’t matter because I’m using my “Monday” muscles. It’s genius.

Out of curiosity and this warm, good feeling about the book, I watched some sample video of Jillian DVDs, but I still don’t want her screaming at me.


Abs, Day 15. Some new muscle! My apologies for another before-after shot, but I get a billion hits when I include one.