We've officially entered the home stretch.
While it's becoming abundantly clear that we won't come out of this nine-week transformation program with quite the body Kumail Nanjiani developed for his role in Marvel's The Eternals--after all, he did spend a year working on his--we are starting to see some serious results. Welcome back to Getting Super for Summer.
If you've been following along from the start, we now have seven weeks total behind us after since we began following the teachings of celebrity trainer and author of The Hollywood Body Plan, David Higgins. (You may know him best as the guy who not only whipped Kumail into shape, but helped mold the bodies of the casts of films like Black Widow and Wonder Woman.) And that means, not only is his 21-day body rehab program truly a thing of a past, but we've also crossed the halfway mark in our six-week #SuperHe and #SuperShe programs. (And if you haven't been following along or need a greater refresher, check out Parts 1 and 2 here.)
While much has stayed the same in weeks three and four where diet is concerned--still intermittent fasting for four days, with three off--on the workout end of things, we've each had our programs beefed up a bit. On the #SuperHe side, week four meant adding an additional set of reps for each exercise in the Heavy circuit on Mondays and Thursdays, while bumping up the number of reps for each exercise in the Volume circuit on Tuesdays and Fridays. On the #SuperShe side, however, week three meant bumping up the number of reps done in the Full Body Circuit on Mondays and Thursdays, while adding an additional set of reps for each exercise of the Lower Body circuit on Tuesdays and Fridays. And both of us added an additional circuit to our usual Mobility and Care routine on Wednesdays.
After all, we don't want to plateau!
With that in mind, here are our diary notes from the second two weeks of our transformation period (the sixth and seventh overall).
What was the hardest aspect of this week for you? Specific exercise, finding motivation, etc.
Alli: Week 3: The hardest part this week for me I think was the fact that I wanted to push myself even harder by trying to find heavier weights, however due to limited availability of certain items I was looking for online, I was unable to obtain heavier weights in time. The plan for next week is to problem solve and tweak some workouts to maximize the weights that I have, but leveling up the reps for the Full Body Circuit this week definitely helped me feel like I was pushing harder (upping the Full Body Circuit reps this week is part of the program). The other hurdle this week began with already feeling physically and mentally fatigued. So finding motivation was tougher than usual but I powered through it. I think it was just a combination of being in the middle of the Transformation part of the program, hence the physical fatigue. But also being in the middle of an escalating pandemic resulted in some emotional fatigue, which is something I am sure you can all relate to on some level. Working out really helped me work through that.
Week 4: This week we added the second part of the Mobility and Care workout into the Wednesday routine, in addition to the first part that we've been doing since the start, and wow. That was really tough to get through not just because the exercises were definitely more challenging but also because it was my first time trying it. The hardest part was the Turkish Get-Ups, just getting that movement correct was hard but then adding the weight to it compounded the challenge. I also added a 4th round to each exercise in the Lower Body Circuit, which is part of the program, so overall every day this past week with the added reps, rounds and new exercises was a challenge in itself. But completing the week on a high note by pushing through an intense Friday workout after an elevated week felt amazing.
Billy: Week 3: When, oh when, will I be able to hold a side plank on either side for a full minute? Those things are no joke. But I will conquer them. Also, my husband and I adopted a dog over the weekend who thinks workout time in the garage is also playtime for him, so it's become a juggling act. When we do our sit-ups on the mat, we literally have to take turns holding him in our arms so he doesn't try and get in on the action. (And by "action," I mean nibble on the yoga mat.)
Week 4: Working my way through that second half of the Mobility and Care workout on Wednesday was a challenge because it was a lot of unfamiliar exercises. Those Turkish Get-Ups are wild. Also, I didn't have a step I could use for the Russian Step Ups, so I had to use the elevated ledge on my shower, which wasn't the best, in retrospect.
How did you surprise yourself this week?
Alli: Week 3: Despite the roadblocks explained above, I still tried to push myself as hard as I could each day. In addition to adding reps to the Full Body Circuit, I also hit the max amount of reps possible in the range that I was given for the hardest work out of the week for me, which is the Lower Body workout on Tuesdays and Fridays. Ending the week strong definitely added to the physical fatigue but more importantly, it helped restore some positivity about my personal journey through this fitness challenge that is taking place amid a tragic pandemic. It's surprising to me, as somebody who never chose working out as a way to benefit my mental health, how much working out really can improve your mood even on the hardest of days. This aspect of this whole thing is the one I think I am most grateful for!
Week 4: I managed to attempt a few regular push-ups this week so that was exciting. I also find myself being able to hold that plank and side plank each week with a little more ease, which is something I've been working toward since the start.
Billy: Week 3: I was able to add five pounds to the barbell exercises because I felt that the weight I'd been using was now not enough. It surprised me how quickly I could grow out of a weight. And those atrophied triceps are starting to come to life.
Week 4: With adding the fourth round of each exercise for the Heavy circuit on Mondays and Thursdays, I expected myself to reach muscle fatigue before I could complete all the reps on that fourth round. Must to my surprise and delight, I didn't. And that was very exciting.
What changes are you noticing about yourself this week?
Alli: Week 3: Finally starting to see some muscles in my arms take shape. I still have to flex to see it but It's improving for sure! I am also getting through those dreaded mountain climbers a lot better, finally. I think this just comes with practice and having built up the endurance to push through that finisher portion of the Full Body Circuit (the finisher includes 30 secs burpees, 30 secs mountain climbers, 30 secs high knee sprints and 1 min plank with 10 secs rest in between).
Week 4: I lost another pound this week but overall my weight loss has sort of plateaued. While I'd love to see that number drop at the rate in which it did when this program first began a month and a half ago, I know that given the nature of these workouts paired with the intermittent fasting I am still losing fatty weight whilst gaining muscle that I can see take shape in my legs, core and arms.
Billy: Week 3: Like Alli, I can see my muscles in my arms growing and that's exciting. My scrawny and undefined arms have always been something I've felt sensitive about. For a long time in my early 20s, I wouldn't even wear tank tops because I felt too embarrassed. Now, they're not getting huge or anything, but they're starting to have definition and, most importantly, they feel so much stronger.
Week 4: I had a marked weight loss this week, weighing in at six pounds less than the week prior. I think the stress of bringing a new puppy into the home and being unable to snack freely around him played a part in this, but I can feel my body slimming down to just muscle and that's really interesting to watch happen.
What are you most proud of this week?
Alli: Week 3: Mentally and physically pushing myself even harder this week all around - holding that plank, doing mountain climbers for the whole 30 secs, pushing through push-ups, sticking with the intermittent fasting and finding a way to stay motivated every day no matter what.
Week 4: The idea of adding another round to the lower body circuit, on top of doubling my Mobility day and the added reps in my Full Body Circuit seemed very daunting on paper. I knew this week would come and I was a little scared of it, but I made sure to complete each day to the best of my ability no matter how tough it was. I rose to the challenge and that makes me proud.
Billy: Week 3: I'm proud of pushing myself to the max. number of reps, rather than sticking to the minimum. And even prouder of being able to complete them all successfully.
Week 4: I, too, was daunted by the way in which much of the daily routines were going to grow in size. Would I be ready for that after just three weeks? But it turned out I was ready and able to face the new challenge. Oh, and holding the side plank for a minute? I finally did it on the right.
What's something you learned/did this week that you think you can improve on next?
Alli: Week 3: I am still trying to get through the push-ups. I am still doing the cheater push-ups but now that I can feel my arm strength improving just a little, I am confident that I can soon at least try to do regular push-ups in the coming weeks. I'll be happy if I can do 1 or 2 regular push-ups by the end of this. Why are push-ups so much harder than I thought they'd be?!
Week 4: This week I learned that the song "Majesty" by Nicki Minaj ft. Eminem and Labrinth is my workout JAM and that station on Apple Music is my go-to station on days that I need a little more motivation to get pumped up. I find that a solid playlist is all it takes to flip that switch. I did not however do my usual Saturday walk up the hill (it was raining outside to be fair), but I will say 5 days on and 2 full days off makes those Monday workouts a tad more challenging so I am really going to try to get some cardio in for the final two weeks.
Billy: Week 3: Push-ups are still a struggle for me too. I can get 10 done before I need to fall into the cheater position. I'd like to see that number continue to grow.
Week 4: I learned that alternating side planks are less intense than holding a side plank. I was fully ready for that to be even harder and was pleasantly surprised when they were not.
What's a tip or trick you've picked up?
Alli: Week 3: Honestly, getting to bed early! It's an obvious tip but I find it so much easier to wake up and work out first thing after I've had a full nights sleep. The longer I sleep, the more I want to wake up and get moving. With that said, too much sleep makes me just want to be lazy all day so finding that happy medium of just enough sleep that works for you is key.
Week 4: When I do the Swiss ball crunches, I realized that if I keep my knees closed together and feet firmly planted on the group, as opposed to my feet and knees being aligned with my hips as I had been doing it, I naturally use my core more to crunch back up and I feel it working my quads too. It's hard to keep my balance sometimes but if my core is fully engaged balance isn't an issue so I always work toward that. If I slip up, I start over so I tend to do more crunches than the work out calls for.
Billy: Week 3: The side plank became a lot easier when I put a towel under my arm for support. The thin yoga mat on my wood floor was a nightmare on my elbow. While holding for a full minute is still hard, I'm getting closer now that I'm not putting the added stress on my bones.
Week 4: When setting a timer for an exercise that requires holding steady for a minute, like during the planks, it's best to keep the timer out of your line of vision. Something about watching the seconds tick off makes them feel SO much slower.
Sample daily menu for one of the intermittent fasting days:
Breakfast: Sugar-free oatmeal with sliced bananas sprinkled with cinnamon, and sometimes an orange for that dose of vitamin C
Lunch: Homemade turkey burgers sans the bun with romaine, red onions, yellow mustard, avocado and a little bit of jack cheese
Dinner: Broiled salmon with olive oil topped with a soy sauce (which is actually the coconut amino substitute from Trader Joes), garlic and honey reduction and a side of roasted broccoli and carrots
Lunch: Turkey meatballs and a bowl of mixed greens dressed with lemon and olive oil
2 p.m. Snack: Celery and peanut butter
After Workout: Banana
Dinner: Parchment packet with chicken, brown rice, broccolini and carrot all dressed in an Asian marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sambal, and ginger
What was your cheat meal?
Alli: Week 3: This week I just went for it and had a chocolate chip waffle that I ordered from The Waffle here in Hollywood. It was a gluten-free waffle, which I don't typically do but did this time because why not? I still felt a little guilty about it the next day but it was a mid-transformation treat I gave to myself after a tough week and really just so deliciously worth it.
Week 4: A burrito from Tocaya that I was literally having dreams about. And a Cool Haus chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream sandwich.
Billy: Week 3: I had a hard weekend, mentally. The stress and anxiety of everything going on in the world really got to me. So, I indulged in a little bit of Taco Bell for lunch on Saturday because sometimes you just need the comfort and familiarity that fast food provides. And there's nothing better than their shredded chicken quesadilla melt and a Cheesy Gordita Crunch (with beans instead of beef). Chef's kiss.
Week 4: For Easter dinner, at the request of my husband, I made my incredibly indulgent fettuccine Alfredo (from scratch!) and pan-fried some breaded chicken breasts that we enjoyed with a salad. The amount of dairy consumed gave me such a stomach ache later that night, but it was worth it. And for dessert, I enjoyed one of my mom's homemade peanut butter cookies that she delivered to us as an Easter treat.
The next time you hear from us, in two weeks, we'll have reached the finish line. See you then!