This Is Not A List of Resolutions

(I originally wrote this in December, 2011. These remain true for me today)

Around this time of year, the blogosphere is filled with reflections, resolutions, and everything in between. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to learn a lot about myself but that’s because I didn’t leave my reflection to the end of the year.

I get the sentiment – a new year is peeking at us and we’re overwhelmed with this sense of renewal. For some of us, the new year can’t come soon enough. I’ve had those years myself, when everything associated with that year seemed like a bad dream.

Maybe it’s because I’m an “over-analytical bag of compassion” (as I’ve been called) but I tend to do my reflecting on a daily basis, so when December rolls around, it’s nothing new. Sure, I look back at my year and reflect a little but for the most part, I’m just ready for another day.

Because that’s how my life is – day by day. At times, it’s hour by hour, because I can’t predict anything anymore.  The only thing I can do is reflect, try to figure out patterns and then find out what works for me.

Over the last few years, especially over the last two, I’ve nailed down a few truths about my life.

***

Blood does not family make. Blood makes you related to someone else. It’s the mutual love and respect you have for another human being that makes you family.

People in my past who treated me like shit and broke me gave me a chance to rebuild from the pieces.  I may have jagged edges but the pieces are still me – just stronger, a little crooked but a whole lot wiser.

I will have bad days where I slip, whether it’s emotionally or literally as I hide out on my couch. The world outside will keep moving but I’m in control of the direction of my world.

My gut never steers me wrong. I just need to listen to it.

I think about death, way too often. Sometimes, it’s in irrational fear. Other times, it’s to reflect and remind myself that no matter how bad my day feels, I was alive today.  Tomorrow isn’t promised.

I’m a hot mess. That’s never going to change.

When my best friend tells me that a situation is sucking the life out of me, I should probably take note. For her to tell me that means that it’s been gradually pulling me down for a while.

When I get super drunk, I cry. A lot. This is a fact of my life. Sometimes, I throw up. I’m working on the throwing up part. The crying will probably never go away.

I’m an emotional wreck of a human being. You don’t want to know the things that make me cry on a daily basis.

Those who I call my best friends, the ones who are family by my definition, won’t leave me hanging – no matter how I insecure I get. I can’t let my past pain color the good in my life today.

Life is hard. Words are hard.

I can’t ever stop writing.

My life is where I want it to be. I can stop sabotaging it now.

I will never fully fit in to my surroundings, but I didn’t come this far in my life by fitting in. I came by owning the fact that I’m an outsider and making shit happen for myself.

I could never be any kind of inspirational writer/coach/speaker/fill-in-the-blank. I don’t know how to actively inspire others. I just know how to live and share. Anything else, to me, feels fabricated. [This is not a commentary on anyone else. This is something that I came to learn about myself after joining a couple of group sessions, trying to writing ‘inspiration blogs’ etc.]

No matter how old I get, I will never be too old for the silly things that make me giggle.

***

These are my truths based on my life and experiences at 2 years old. In a year, I might add a couple of things, or nothing significant could happen to change it.

All I know is that I’ll be doing my reflecting quietly, without any kind of life lists, because that’s what works for me.

***

How about you? Are you the reflect and make resolutions type? 

Do you have a life list?

Was 2013 a “Shit, I am so over it. Bring on 2014” kind of year?

On Learning to Ask for Help

A: You hid those troubles well.
Me: That’s my superpower 
A: You wonderful mutant.

This brief exchange with a good friend struck me as funny – not because he called me a mutant (let’s face it, I am) but because at a time when I thought the entire world could see right through me and wanted to stay away from the emotional tornado that had engulfed me, I was hiding it well. Apparently. Though I said it tongue-in-cheek, that IS my superpower. I don’t ask for help. I’ve spent so much of my life helping others and suppressing my own needs and fears. Now that it’s time to ask for help, I don’t quite know how to.

The other morning, I struck up a conversation with a stranger at the gas station on my way to work. It started with him asking me how I liked the mileage on my car and then we proceeded to chat for a good 15 minutes, about everything from how he’s been using our tools for 30 years to my cross-country move. That word popped up again.

“Brave.”

I also happened to mention a couple of other things in passing, because I no longer think of them as major events and he just looked at me and said “Wow, you’ve been through a lot.”

I suppose.

No, I don’t suppose. I have. I know I have but at the time (and even now), I was just going through those things. I was in the middle of it and the only way I knew to get through it was to move forward. It wasn’t to talk about it incessantly. I didn’t do it by making everyone in my life of every little thing that was happening because they weren’t their battles to fight. What I tend to forget, however, is that I can’t fight every battle alone. The reason we connect with people and bring them into our inner circle is to not feel so alone in the world. Because life moves so fast and some mornings, we can barely get out of bed, let alone fight all the battles quietly and still smile on the outside.

Nor should we have to.

A few years ago, when I lost my job, I did what I always do. I internalized and shut down until I was ready to process it. I had one of my good friends get upset with me because she felt like I was pushing her away but not sharing. At the time (and for years after that) I felt like her reaction was unfair. I wasn’t ready to share my burden and I was sparing her so she could deal with her own life, and she was getting mad at me, on top of everything I was battling?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and while my friend’s reaction may have been a little harsh, it wasn’t unfair. In the last 4 years since then, I’ll still have conversations with close friends where I will mention an event in passing and they will put their hand on my arm and go “Wait, what? When did that happen?

While I was operating under the assumption, and let’s be honest, the fear, that people in my life would stop caring the second I actually asked for help, they were moving on with their lives under the assumption that I was happy and just busy, as we all are. At the time, they assumed that I was happily planning my wedding, when in fact, my relationship was falling apart. This past winter, most of the people in my life assumed that I was busy adjusting to my new home, when in fact, my entire life had fallen apart and I didn’t know how to dig myself out from under the rubble.

Because I don’t ask for help when I need it and wait until the last desperate minute at times, it’s fair of people in my life to feel upset. Because I throw 5 months of anguish at them all at once, without explanation or a smooth transition, really.

So all this to say that I am learning to ask for help. It’s not like I’ve been pooping rainbows with every post on social media, because let’s face it, I bitch quite a bit. Because honestly, I don’t trust people who can’t be honest with themselves or the people around them. It’s too hard to keep up the facade of fake happiness. There is a difference between being able to appreciate the good things in life, even when it’s momentarily falling apart, and creating an illusion of a perfect life while wearing your judgey pants, which are popular among people who are afraid to live an authentic life.

Raw honesty isn’t for everyone, but man, we all need a little more of it these days.

I also have some fences to mend because the relationships in my life are important to me. I just have to remember to breathe, check in once in a while just to say ‘Hey’ and remember that it’s acceptable for me to have bad days.

So, hey.

Today was a bad day for me but I got through it.

How about you?

If We Keep This Up, We’ll Feel Guilty for Being Alive

I want to talk to you about this thing we do.

We all do it. I’ve been doing it an awful lot lately, and I think that over the last few years, it’s really had an impact on how I approach life.

So, this thing that we do – the way we feel guilty about feeling happy because there are shitty things happening to people in our lives. It’s not that we’re going around bragging and that’s why we feel guilty.

We have guilt for feeling happy. We feel guilty because something good has happened in our life, and in that exact moment, something negative happens to be happening in the lives of many people that we love.

A few months ago, a good friend of mine called me. This friend is one of the few people whose call I actually take even though I hate talking on the phone. She called me to tell me something but she didn’t want to make me feel upset.

I knew what the news was. I knew exactly why she called.

“He proposed?” I asked, with a huge smile on my face.

You may be wondering why she thought the news might make me upset. Because she’d spent a good part of the last year being my support for my own relationship coming to an end.

I’m glad she called me. I was flattered that she called me, because in this day and age, there are only a handful of people we call and tell individually before announcing to the world that we’re engaged with a relationship update on Facebook or an Instagram of our ring.

Her happiness gave me hope. Her happiness made me happy.

This is one of the scenarios when it was OK. She wasn’t bragging. She wanted to share her happiness, and guys, that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t feel guilty for being happy. We shouldn’t feel guilty that something is going right in our lives. We shouldn’t feel guilty for the little things that make us happy.

Should we share every single tiny thing that makes us happy with the world ALL THE TIME? Probably not. Especially if you’re me and are easily entertained by little things.

We should cherish and appreciate the good.

On the flip side…

Can we stop feeling guilty for being upset because something went wrong in our lives because we somehow feel the need to compare it to something that may seem worse in another life?

Shit happens. People in our lives get hurt. Our loved ones hurt.  Our loved ones lose their loved ones unexpectedly.

World keeps turning.

Your world doesn’t stop turning because someone you love is having something really awful in his/her life. We sympathize. We empathize. We let them know we are there but sometimes, there isn’t anything else we can do.

In the meantime, your life keeps moving forward.

You know what happens during your day? Good things, bad things and sometimes, unfortunately shitty things.

We have a tendency to feel guilt because we’re upset about something that happened in our lives. Why? Because if you compare it to something that is relatively worse in a friend/loved one’s life, we really shouldn’t complain because it could be worse.

As long as you are breathing, it could always be worse. 

I’m not saying complain about every little thing, but if you are upset because an event you were looking forward to got canceled, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Maybe that event was the one good thing you were looking forward to for weeks.

If we continue to constantly compare our feelings to everyone’s else, how are we supposed to feel? How are we supposed to process happiness, sadness, anger, and fear if we experience guilt for simply feeling? How can we process guilt as a pure emotion if we are constantly plagued by it due to this never ending comparison?

You guys, if we keep this up, pretty soon, we’re all going to start feeling guilty for being alive.

If we keep this up, we'll feel guilty for being alive

***

 

The Only True Competition Is With Myself

I woke up this morning with the realization that I’ve been doing myself a great injustice and it’s been two-fold. The reason it took me so long to realize this is because I’ve been trying to deal with the fact that my plans got a little derailed and I am currently not in Seattle (but the move is not off). I’ve been having a lot of negative feelings, which I then feel guilty for and so goes the cycle.

On to my realizations.

I’ve been subconsciously waiting for approval/recognition for my personal accomplishments without giving myself the opportunity to feel proud.

A lot has changed in my life over the past few years and I’ve been taking a lot of steps forward even if I stumble a little bit. I haven’t taken huge leaps and bounds. I have a tendency to keep quiet and I highlight my failures more than my accomplishments at times. I also highlight my friends’ and colleagues’ accomplishments because I genuinely feel proud of them. This is probably why I woke up with the realization this morning that I’ve been waiting on some kind of arbitrary recognition of my small victories. Not because I’ve been boasting them but because although I give without expecting anything in return, sometimes it gets a little lonely.

I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of explaining this.

The fact is that I haven’t given myself an opportunity to stop and feel proud, even for a moment, because I don’t recognize my own accomplishments. They’re not major. Hell, I haven’t reached any of my major goals but the thing is, I don’t give up. Every day, I wake up and do a little bit to keep moving forward. The thing is, no one is here with me to see how hard it is for me to even get out of bed sometimes. Or even turn on the computer and stare at that blank screen while waiting for inspiration to hit. I don’t even really do the small talk with friends on GChat anymore, which used to be my way of being connected. I did something similar to this when I got fired. Because I feel like my life is in limbo and I have nothing new to provide to the world, I keep it all to myself.

Yet I still wait for some kind of recognition for how far I’ve come, even in the last year.

I think we all do this on some level, but some of us are better at getting over it than others.

Which brings me to my next realization.

I have been competing with everyone else in the world, but not just those who have accomplished more than me.

I have been comparing myself to other freelancers, solopreneurs, bloggers, entrepreneurs – you name it, I’ve compared myself to them. That’s natural, at least in my case, because I’m an overachiever. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do but in the last couple of years, I have learned that it’s OK to slow down and I don’t have to have everything perfectly figured out.

On the flip side, I’ve been slowing myself too much and downplaying the moments I should feel proud because I didn’t want it to seem like I’m bragging. Because, you guys, despite all the bullshit, there have been great things happening in my life. My hard work has been paying off but is it fair of me to keep that to myself because I don’t want others to feel bad?

I’m not saying I’m going to brag, but I have been in competition with the entire world, when I should just be in competition with myself.

The only fair measurement of my success is against my own failures and how I’ve handled what life has thrown at me.

I have been spending so much time trying to mold my words to make everyone else happy that I’ve forgotten my voice.

At the end of the day, I’m left with my doubts and failures. I need to learn to put my accomplishments and dreams next to those, and remember that it’s my passion that’s brought me this far in my life.

So it’s time for me to slow down and block out all the noise.

It’s time for me to start being fair to myself, rediscover my passionate voice, and share it with the world (again).

Forgiveness to Passion – 5 Years

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years? (Author: Corbett Barr)

Today’s prompt is eerily timed because 5 years ago today was one of the worst days of my life.

Dear Berrak,

I know the anxiety you feel right now. The events that will unfold today will make this the worst day of your life (so far in your life). It will break you & it will tear apart your heart when you see the scene unfolding in front of you tonight. You’ll blame yourself for months (even years to come). Don’t. I can’t stop you from doing what you’re about to do. You feel lost, with no way out. While this won’t be your way out, and in fact, it will keep you trapped for months, you will be OK.

Every bad moment in your life has been a turning point. You’re strong enough to move past this and heal, even if at times, you feel the opposite. You have people who love you, no matter what. I can promise you that your life doesn’t get easier right away but the pieces fall into place. You grow up.

And Dad forgives you.

That’s the most important thing you have to remember. He forgives you. No matter how much guilt you feel in the upcoming days – weeks – months and even years, just remember that he forgives you.

It’s been 5 years to the day and the most important thing I can tell you is this: I forgive you.

Just keep breathing.

B.

#####

Dear Mrs. O’Brien,

First of all, I WANT TO SEE THE WEDDING PICTURES.  Did it turn out to be as much fun as I hoped? Where are you living these days? I hope all of our dreams came true, or I worked my ass off to make sure that I at least tried to make them come true. I just looked at our life in 2006, and I gotta tell you, if I’ve grown even half as much as I grew in the last 5 years, I bet I’m super happy.

I’m sure there’s still stress, that’s just life. I just hope that I kept the dream alive. I bet I’m loving being married. As much as I deny it, I’m such a housewife.

Wherever it is that life took you, I’m here to remind you of one thing: Stay passionate. Remember, that’s when you’re the happiest.

Love,

B.

#####

This post is part of the Emerson Trust Yourself 30 Day Challenge which is a celebration of Emerson, his influence, his message and a beautiful new edition of Self Reliance put out by The Domino Project.

The Trust Yourself Challenge is a 30 day online initiative that encourages you to not only trust yourself but to expand your vision of what you think of as yourself. 30 amazing thinkers and seekers have been invited to each create a writing prompt for all who sign up for this challenge. You’ll get one prompt per day emailed to you that will expand on the theme. You are encouraged to share your posts and writings and thoughts on twitter  by using the hashtag #trust30. Please sign up at ralphwaldoemerson.me and investigate the nature of Self Reliance.

 

Keys to My Happiness

Up until recently, I couldn’t call myself ‘happy’. I was content with life and sure, I had moments of happiness but I wasn’t the girl who was just happy.  At the end of the day, there was something missing and I would always go to bed worried, broken, stressed out and uncertain. I was uncertain about the following day, my own thoughts and my own ability.

I was content and grateful but happy?

Not even close.

So, is it strange for me to be writing a post about happiness and how to achieve it? Considering there has not been a day I’ve gone to bed unhappy in the last few weeks, I believe not. In fact, I’ve come to learn and appreciate a few life lessons and I figured I might as well share them.

After all, no matter where life takes me, I will always write.  Even if I’m the only one reading.

That’s lesson #1: Live for yourself. Seems pretty obvious right? We spend so much of our life living for others (parents, siblings, teachers, college applications, job interviews, and so on) that we forget the most important element. There will always be people in our lives who will disagree, judge and patronize our choices.  There will always be somebody who will belittle your efforts and dreams. There will always be somebody who will attempt to knock you down. So stop living for others.  At the end of the day, you are the one who goes to bed thinking about your day, your life and how you feel about it all. Stop living for others and start living for yourself.

Lesson #2? Stop comparing yourself to other people. You will never have full access to somebody else’s life, thoughts and feelings.  No matter what they may show to the world, there is always something under the surface that makes the equation complete.  Since you can’t control how they live and only control what your life is, focus on your deep end. Comparing yourself on the surface will only damage you in the long run. Your time is more valuable than that and you know it.

Lesson #3: Stop sweating the small stuff. Life happens. Stupid things will happen all the time. Choose your battles wisely and spend your energy on the issues that will affect you in the long run.  The person who cut you off in traffic? Leave them in that moment and move on. Don’t waste your energy on negativity.

Lesson #4: Leave negativity at the door. Honestly, you don’t have time for negative people in your life. They will only drag you down.  You aren’t perfect and you may still have moments of insecurity. Why bog down your days also dealing with their insecurities?  Cut them out and move on. Your life is moving along fast.  When you look back on it, remember the ones who mattered, not the insignificant specks.

Lesson #5: Quality, not quantity: See lesson #4. Also applies to jobs, material things and the events you choose to attend.

Lesson #6: Take a leap of faith. How else will you break through the barrier and reach the next level in your life? Use every opportunity to your advantage but…

Lesson #7: Know your limits. Yes, you need to take risks, but that doesn’t mean you stretch yourself too thin. Acknowledge your limits and stick to them.  Quality over quantity. Make every second count without forgetting the moments in a blur of overwhelming chaos.

Lesson #8: Don’t close a door without kicking it open all the way first. You don’t know what’s lurking in the corner. It just might be the greatest experience of your life. You don’t have to step through the door all the way but just a peek behind it won’t be enough either. 

Lesson #9: Let yourself be proud of your accomplishments. This is what you’re here for and it is important to recognize your own strengths and accomplishments. If you don’t own them and show them to the world, who will?

Lesson #10: Always be true to yourself. No matter what the world is screaming in your ear. They don’t know. You do.

The DVR Trigger

Tossing and turning, the night is a blur of nightmares and tension eating up at me. The alarm rings, causing me to jolt up off the bed, reach for it and groan at the same time.  He reaches out to me to calm me down and then hit snooze on his alarm.

My head hits the pillow again, eyes closed, not wanting to face the world. Some days, I stay awake to talk to him as he’s getting ready for work.

Not today.

I fall back asleep, if you can call it sleep, as I wait for him to leave. I feel him going back and forth, getting ready for work.

Sometimes he’ll linger longer because he’s worried about me.

Today is one of those days.

He gives me a kiss on the forehead and leaves.

I doze in and out of sleep for another hour or two and then get up to attack the day.

“I will have a good day” I tell myself.

A bowl of cereal and my laptop accompany me to the same spot on the couch. The dreaded couch.

I check e-mails, open up the saved job listings and work on another e-mail to another job.

A wave of optimism takes over me as I talk to friends.

“I can do this. It will all be OK.”

After an hour of being productive, I decide to take a break. I put my laptop to the side and grab the remote to watch an episode of ‘Supernatural’ on my DVR. (I’m addicted you know).

Within 30 seconds, my DVR reboots. For the next half hour, I battle with the DVR as it refuses to work or constantly reboots.

I can’t even get my DVR to work.

How can I fix my life?

An overwhelming feeling of doom and failure overtake me. The more I try to throw it off my shoulders, the heavier it gets.

I sink deeper into the sofa, into dusk, into my nightmares until he comes home.

Another day wasted.

He holds me close until I drift off to sleep.

Let’s try again tomorrow.

Grabbing Life By The Balls

I’m afraid of making ‘To-Do’ lists because I get overwhelmed just looking at them…but if I don’t, then important things slip through the cracks. (Like making a new layout for my Numbah 2, which I will make tonight, I promise. Loveyoumeanit.)

We’ve already established that I am an overachiever but I thrive under pressure. (Or so I pretend)

Sometimes I need help getting away from my own head and getting back to basics, like a heart-to-heart with my roommate/C-Pants, to remember the people who love me unconditionally and how being in my own head can hurt me, as well as them.

Sometimes, I need a little push to get my ass to the gym, even though I’m scared, and I feel like I’m so out of shape it’s going to be awful and I’ll be disappointed. Then a 40 minute cardio session followed by the crazy ab machine after stretches bring me back to reality and remind me how much working out helps me, instead of hurting me.

Sometimes, I need to grab life by the balls and keep trying, even if I fail the first…second…or fourth times. And the pay-off? I get my first freelance writing gig as the DC 20Something Relationships Examiner. Oh yeah, that’s me. Go over there and sub to my RSS feed, won’t you?

Sometimes, after feeling like a failure and feeling like things won’t ever get back to normal, I need to make a decision, even if it scares me, and go back to school full-time. That decision should also involve going after my new dream, however challenging it may be. Sometimes, I need to push myself to become the best I can be by taking Journalism classes and even if the syllabus for that class alone (forget about the other 4 classes I’m taking this semester) makes me cry, I need to buckle down and get shit done.

Sometimes, I need to open up my heart, even if it’s been broken time and time again…so that I can find my soul mate. Sometimes, I need to let myself be loved, even if I’m damaged goods. Sometimes, I need to stand my ground, even if others judge my relationship. Sometimes, I need to let love be.

Sometimes…just sometimes…I need to stand behind my convictions and grab life by the balls.

Welcome to my insanity.

Full-time job.
Full-time school.
Full-time relationship.
Full-time writing (with a part-time freelance gig)
Part-time TV obsession.
Full-time fitness.
Full-time life.

*My social life might suffer for a few months but I guess that’s the price I pay for my dreams.
*I finally bought my domain name: www.dcprincessq.com. This means nothing to you, except for the fact that I am a dork.
*I love you guys, to the moon, and I just need you to bear with me as I adjust to my new insanity…don’t feel neglected if you don’t hear from me or there are no fly-by comments on your blogs. I’m still reading.
*I do have a FormSpring.me and during my insanity, I’ll need a distraction so ask me questions there, will ya?
*I am still taking requests for blog moving (Blogger to WP, free WP to self-hosted WP) and blog redesigns, so just email me & stuff.

Also, if you are in the area, be here Wed. night. Do it. (Thanks to Rachel Smiles for the info)

Did you miss it? If you did, don’t forget to sub to my new Examiner column, about relationships and such…and feel free to give me suggestions on topics. Since I’m gonna need them, for sure.

Also, if anyone gets a chance, can we please have a global agreement to add 5 more hours to the day? Yes? A girl’s gotta sleep sometime.

I Don’t Want to Lose Me

I’ve denied it for years. YEARS.

“It won’t happen to me. I’ll be careful. I’m not the same.”

I blamed it on stress. Anxiety. Things being tense at home.

“It’s not so bad. It’s not that bad. I’m OK.”

Fact of the matter is, I’m not OK. My mood swings have gotten impossible lately and worse as I’ve gotten older. Lucky me, I drew the mental illness lottery for my genes. My grandmother, my mother and my aunts…all have symptoms of mental illness. My dad told me that, as long as he’s known my mom, she’s always had the signs…it just got worse over the years as the stress added on and she grew older. Because if an illness goes untreated, it doesn’t just go away.

It festers.

My mom was 22 when she met my dad. I’m 24…almost 25.

It’s not just my mom’s side, though, god bless ’em, they’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to this. My dad’s older sister has been in and out of hospitals basically her whole life…but it was her dad that really fucked her up when she was younger. The fact remains: She needs medication.

The fact I’ve been denying…

I need treatment.

I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my life. For the past few years, I’ve told myself that I don’t need treatment…I’ll be OK…I can handle this.

I can’t. I haven’t. I just get worse.

I don’t want to lose ‘me’. I’m terrified of treatment not helping, or getting the wrong treatment that leaves behind a piece of me without me even realizing.

There is so much I want to accomplish in my life. I have to learn to live with this if I want to do that. I have to find out my options and stop denying myself a normal life.

Unfortunately, receiving medication doesn’t alter my genes so the chances of me having my own child is slim to none…because there is no way I’ll be responsible for passing this on.

I might take you along this journey because this blog? My friends? My lifelines?

You are the only thing that reminds me, everyday, of who I am. And who I want to remain.

I don’t want to lose me…which is why I have to do this.

Shred: 10 Day Progress Report

Level 1, Day 10: Complete

As you guys know, I’ve been doing the 30 Day Shred for 10 days now…Since it has 3 levels, I decided that I would do each level for 10 days. (I KNOW MATH!). The first couple of days, it killed me…I hadn’t done a serious work out like that in years. I was surprised that I kept with it. Even if it was after midnight when I got home, the Shred got DONE.



Level 1:

The way Jillian Michaels has her workout set up is on 3-2-1 system. 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute of abs. She has two other trainers working out with her…One to do the ‘advanced’ level of the moves and if there is a modified version, the other shows you that…so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Not all moves have modifications though so be ready to push yourself! The video starts out with dynamic stretches to get your body warmed up, including a little bit of cardio. Then the workout begins.

Have your hand weights ready!

Cardio: Jumping jacks, butt kicks, jump rope & punches (complete with squats!)
Strength: Push-ups, Squat & press, Dumbbell row, Static lunge with a bicep curl, chest flies, side lunges with a shoulder raise
Abs: Regular crunches, reverse crunches, cross crunches & bicycle crunches

You have to pay attention to the way that the moves are made so that you do NOT hurt yourself…Especially if you haven’t worked with a personal trainer before. Jillian does an excellent job of talking you through each exercise, every circuit…You don’t get to rest but with a 20 minute exercise, you can’t afford to rest.

I’ll be honest. There were a couple of days when my legs were shaking and my arms (that are already weak) couldn’t handle it but I pushed through…Maybe I did a couple of less push-ups but TRUST…I pushed through the pain.

Do everything in the order Jillian tells you, as long as you’re supposed to but do NOT push yourself.

It’s only been 10 days and I’ve already seen a huge change…I will do a follow up in 10 days when I’m done with Level 2…But the pictures won’t come until the end!!

Remember that it is NOT just exercise…I’ve started a new diet regiment…Not that I’m starving myself but I have made some changes.

Eating Special K for breakfast.
Counting calories.
Cut out alcohol & sodas.
Eating more fruit & veggies.
No Starbucks unless I’m treating myself.
Eating snacks throughout the day but only 100 calories, max. Or just veggies, straight up.

Sure, sometimes I slip up but for my first serious diet & exercise plan…On my own…I think I’m handling it pretty well!

I do encourage everyone to try out the 30 Day Shred if you are looking for a serious work out.

Oh and be ready to take a shower…as soon as the video is done. Trust me. You’ll be DRIPPING with sweat.

Level 2…Here I come!