Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How to Stay Sane During an Insanity Workout

The Insanity Workout. When exercise sounds this intimidating, you might wonder if you can survive Shaun T's 63 day challenge.

The good news is, it IS possible and countless people from all levels of fitness have managed to beat Insanity and stay sane. If you want to start this journey and last the distance, hold on to these 12 tips to keep you safe, strong and steady throughout the next 63 days.

1. Be honest with yourself.

Many people are so pumped up by the before & after photos posted online that they expect to look as buff as Shaun T by the end of it! Keep your goals high but within reach. Unrealistic expectations will only lead to disappointment which, in turn, derails your motivation. The amount of weight you lose and the extent of muscle definition you gain will depend on variables such as your starting weight, fitness level, genetic make up, the quality of your diet, the flexibility of your daily schedule and how much you can push yourself throughout each workout.

2. Get a medical check-up.

Coming from a sedentary lifestyle, I found Insanity manageable so long as I respected my own fitness limitations. It's always advisable, whatever fitness level you're at, to check that your heart and joints are equipped to deal with the physical demands that come from high impact interval training (HIIT).

3. Count your calories.

Too many calories will undo your hard work. Too little, and your body will hold onto your fat reserves for dear life! The Insanity pack includes a nutrition guide to help you plan calorie-controlled meals. If you can't afford to follow it exactly, make sure you calculate your calorific needs (the calorie calculation formula is printed in the guide) and plan how you will meet those needs within your own budget.

4. Take plenty of 'selfies'.

No matter how embarrassed or ashamed you might feel about your current shape, it's important to take photos of your body before you begin so that you can chart your progress. Take a full body picture of your front, side profile and back. There will come a time when you need a visual reminder of the physical changes that are going on in your body, especially when the scales tell you that nothing's happening. Plus you'll want that Insanity T-shirt when you finish, right? Comparing photographs from different time intervals can be a tremendous motivator. And you'll find that other people often see the changes in your shape even before you do.

5. Don't eat for at least one hour before your workout.

Insanity involves a lot of jumping and power and speed with minimal breaks in between. Don't fill up on food beforehand unless you plan to wear it! If you need to eat first, have a small light meal or better still, down a protein shake to fuel you for the workout.

6. Start slow and build from there.

Insanity workouts generally follow a pattern of warm-up, main circuits and then cool down, with at least three rounds of each drill. Take it easy on the first round and let your muscles warm up. Conserve your energy so that you can push a little harder in the second round and then go flat out in the third round. It's all about progression.

7. Go at YOUR best pace. No one else's.

It can be daunting to watch a team of super-fit people attack these workouts with such finesse and power. Remember, they're there to show you what you can achieve with the same hard work. Ignore how fast they're running. These people are in peak physical condition and you will see in the videos that even they struggle at times! Your only goal should be to push yourself to your own physical limits. This might mean doing more reps, taking less breaks during a particular drill or simply stretching a little further in yoga poses than you did yesterday. By respecting your own limits, you take care of yourself and increase your chances of making it through the next 63 days without injury.

8. Stop when you need to.

Despite Shaun T's constant urging that you should 'dig deeper', he also reminds you to stop when you need to. Digging deeper isn't about digging your own grave! Push when you know you have more to give. Stop when you run out of energy or feel pain. Don't allow yourself to be discouraged if you need to skip a day because of important life commitments. It's only a workout. Keep yourself healthy and protected. Remember, you're not in competition with anyone but yourself. Insanity isn't about being as fit as Shaun T. It's about being the best that you can be right now.

9. Take short swigs of water.

Insanity will make you sweat like never before! Keep yourself hydrated with short swigs of water during breaks. Don't be tempted to take large gulps - you'll feel sick or throw up during the workout. Save major rehydration for afterwards.

10. Write about it.

Keep a workout journal. Start a blog like I did. Share your agonies and triumphs. Do something that captures your thoughts, feelings, setbacks and achievements so that you have a visual reminder of how hard you're working and how much you're continuing to achieve. As you begin to repeat certain drills, you'll find yourself referring back to your first, second and third attempts at this very same workout and you will marvel at your progress!

11. Snub the Scales.

Scales are useful but they won't give you an accurate idea of your progress. Not only will you be shedding fat, you'll also be gaining muscle and your weight will typically go up and down. Don't let scales to discourage and mislead you - use a tape measure instead. This will give you a better idea of where and how the fat is being shed. Notice how your regular clothes fit and feel as you move deeper into the program and write about in your diary or blog. These are the details you need to pay attention to!

12. Get support.

Tell friends, family, co-workers or whoever else you trust that you are doing Insanity. Log onto the Team Beachbody website and join the forums. Direct people to your workout blog. Share your ever-changing profile photos. Supporters will keep you motivated by asking about your progress, keeping you accountable and heartily cheering you on.

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