Well, the best laid plans of mice and men…amiright?
The day I decided to start my brand new Boot Camp series was the day that we found out our friend Wally had died. After attempting to keep on keeping on despite the mounting grief washing through my soul, I finally came to the point where I couldn’t just keep on. I had to stop. Stop what I was doing. Stop and take stock of why I was doing it. And in the aftermath of tragedy, my body didn’t care about getting back into shape. The Dark Side had taken over.
I’d be lying if I said that the Darkness has left…it hasn’t.
But this past Monday, I decided to give my Star Wars Boot Camp a do-over. The desire to tune my body back to healthy has resurfaced and I feel extra motivated to make the best of my life. Especially remembering that there are people who don’t get one more day. It really does put your grief into perspective. It puts your fears and failures into perspective. And for me, it makes me stronger. It makes me want to fight for the best life I can have.
Week 1: Sith Apprentice Week (Anakin Skywalker)
I’m altering the routine I had previously shared just a bit (pray I don’t alter it further.) 😉
Here’s a look at my morning routine, which I will do every morning this week:
1 min of each
Jog in Place
Dumbbell Shoulder Press (4 sets, 8 reps)
Standing Dumbbell Curls (3 sets, 12 reps)
Reverse Curls (3 sets, 12 reps)
Dumbbell Lateral Raises (3 sets, 12 reps)
Hammer Curls (2 sets, 15 reps)
Tricep Press (3 sets, 12 reps)
Upright Dumbbell Row (3 sets, 12 reps)
Here’s another look at my playlist this week:
To add a little extra oomph to this week’s workouts, I’m adding some YouTube videos that will focus on some Sith skills, such as lightsaber combat, Kendo and martial arts. I chose one of these 4 days out of the week to try. Take a look:
No guarantee that I’ll master these in a week…in fact, it’s a safe bet to say that I won’t. But that’s not really the point of Boot Camp. This Boot Camp is supposed to give me focus. Every morning, I’ll be narrowing in on what’s happening with my body. Where the pain is, where I need to push myself. And by focusing on those things, it will take my eyes off of the unhealthy habits I’ve been forming in the last month or so.
As of today, I’m 2 days into it and I’ve had successful morning and evening workouts each day since starting! Now it’s time to add on these extra bonus workouts and push more…just like a Sith Apprentice would. Channeling my inner Anakin!
Here’s a look at some of the training Hayden Christensen did for Episode III to get you inspired!
One week can’t change your whole body. One week isn’t enough time to meet aggressive goals, like the ones I’d created for myself. But one week can start you down a better path. One week can wake you up to a better life. I don’t like to call this a diet…it’s not one. It’s a lifestyle. Now, am I going to live like this for the rest of my life? No. Will this work for everyone? No. Did I find success doing it? Yes. And the point is to share that success with you!
Because when I created it, I had no idea what would happen. But I learned that my success came from diving in with both feet and taking this challenge seriously. Success came from constantly staying in a Cinderella state of mind through my Food Plan, Fitness Plan, Movies and Music, and Fashion choices.
As I mentioned in my introduction, I gave up weighing myself for the whole of this 8 weeks. So, I can’t tell you how much weight I lost after the first week, but I know my arms felt stronger from cleaning and weeding and lifting. My legs were pleasantly sore from stairs and dancing. Sugar had no hold on me after this week and while I continued to take each day as they came, I started to believe that I could meet the goals I’d set for myself. It felt like I’d really created something that ensured a successful outcome for me.As a major league Disnerd, a fitness series based on Disney Princesses is right up my alley!
Yes, the worst has indeed happened and the evil undead are roaming our earth. Are you prepared to do what you must to survive? Chances are, most of you won’t make it to see next week. In a zombie apocalypse…like this one, there’s no time for sugar coating things.
I can tell you what it will take for you to survive, but ultimately it’s up to you to make it happen.
Let’s start with something simple, your diet. You’re probably used to a cushy diet of fast food, donuts and soda. Hey, you’re only human (at least, right now you are!) The truth is, the first week is pretty critical when it comes to perishable food items. So the rule of thumb for week one is “if you find it, eat it.” If, for example, you’ve found yourself in the vicinity of a Krispy Kreme donut, eat it! Chances are, it could be your last. But don’t overdo it. Eating poorly and too much will slow you down and that Krispy Kreme will be your last, but not because no one has time to make donuts anymore, get my drift?
This first week of encountering zombies will be tough enough for you, without introducing a stringent training and eating schedule. My best advice in this turbulent time is to moderately enjoy yourself as much as you can and keep within a manageable caloric range for your height, weight and body type. Also keep in mind that you will be a lot more active this week and you may need some extra calories to keep your energy up. Calories from bad fats and sugars will make you feel sluggish and to be honest, that’s just what the zombies want!!
This week we’re gonna focus on cardio, so get moving (or the zombies will do it for you.) Hopefully you and your family made a plan before this apocalypse hit, an emergency strategy for what to do and where to meet. If you didn’t, well I hope you said your goodbyes before the apocalypse and enjoy my good advice while you can, this blog may be your last.
Ok…so you have some guidelines for getting your body moving and eating all the perishable items you can find, but not overdoing it. That’s a great place to start. Staying home in your locked house is going to seem like a great idea right now…it’s not. In all likelihood, at least one or more of your neighbors has been turned and soon they will be looking for delicious, juicy brains to eat. If you live, isolated, in the country, you may be able to last a little longer. The suburbs…not quite as long and if you live in the city…GET OUT OF THERE NOW!!!!
It’s good, at this early stage in the apocalypse, to identify your weapons. Get comfortable with your baseball bats, your katana swords, your crossbows, your bowie knive. Guns are fine, but keep in mind that bullets will become scarce and hitting the brain with 1 or 2 shots is actually much harder than movies and TV shows portray. Make it easier on yourself and get comfortable with hand to hand combat using whatever is around you. But more on that later.
It’s crucial right now to get moving, like I mentioned before. Walking, running, practicing sprints…these are your focus. If you have a car, great. Stockpile as much fuel as you can and keep moving. But you’re still gonna want to get good at evading surprises and learning some simple parkour moves wouldn’t be the worst thing you could do. But there will be lots more parkour in weeks 3 and 4. Right now…RUN! It’s the best way to stay physically fit and alert for what’s to come.
In this early stage of the apocalypse, the virus is pretty contained to large cities. This is the chance you need or rather, the chance you have to start getting prepared for the worst. Food isn’t scarce yet. That’s a good thing. You’re gonna want to start walking/ running twice a day for 30 mins each. If you can go longer, do it. The longer you keep that heart beating, the better off you’ll be. Challenge yourself, but don’t push yourself too far past your current limits.
This is the only chance you’ll get to take your time and get the lay of the land. These are called recon missions. Did you have a gym membership before the apocalypse hit? Money wasted. The world is now your gym and it is going to push you harder than any physical trainer ever did.
My final advice for your first week of training is to drink the cold beer, white wine, chilled juice, smoothies, etc. now because refrigerators will soon be as dead as the undead. Those finer enjoyments will be a thing of the past. But remember this…it’s wildly important…drunkenness will get you killed. So do not get sloppy!
This is a week of learning your limits, testing your strengths and being thankful for the little things. But don’t forget to watch your back. Once the virus hits the nearest metropolitan area, it will change your life and being thankful will be as hard to come by as that Krispy Kreme donut!
After hitting the wall during Thor Week, I was back on track and pushing through Week 5. Spring had returned, making morning runs a joy to complete! I really love to workout in the morning. I feel like it’s my personal time to get things done. Like the rest of the world is asleep and the early morning hours were made just for me. I live right across from Astoria Park in Queens and I love to run along the water. It’s a gorgeous view and if it’s a particularly warm morning, the breeze from the water feels wonderful. It’s definitely one of my happy places!
Week 5: Hawkeye Week
Clint Barton was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor, when he was sent to the compound to keep an eye on a certain grounded Asgardian Prince. Barton, aka Hawkeye, is a proficient marksman in archery and joined the Avengers to help save the world from it’s biggest threats.
Jeremy Renner has been doing action films for a while now, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so stepping into the role of Hawkeye seemed like an easy fit (though I’m sure the workout regiment was not easy.) Renner is 44 years old, though you’d never know it. Take a look at his fitness regiment over at Muscle World.
Avengers, Age of Ultron… duh. You can also go ahead and rewatch Thor if you’d like, since Hawkeye is introduced to the MCU in that one. I also added a couple excellent films starring Jeremy Renner. In Bourne Legacy, Renner takes Matt Damon’s place and runs around being awesome! Also, try Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to keep with the spy spirit. And for good measure and an extra dose of archery, go ahead and watch The Hunger Games.
Hawkeye is a warrior and a soldier, so I put a lot of music in this playlist that made me feel that way. Like I could run through bootcamp and finish the toughest challenges.
For Hawkeye’s meal plan, I took my shopping list from CelebritiesExercise.com Honestly, I really believe that if you are watchful in your eating and keep to the simple rule of moderation, you could eat just about anything and maintain your health (with glaring exceptions of course.)
Weekly Workout Challenge
To channel my inner Clint Barton, I worked on my abs and did a crunch challenge. I know we see a lot of arms from Jeremy Renner, but the core always comes in handy, no matter which Avenger you are channeling! And since I have a serious sweet tooth, my stomach is one of my problem areas. All that sugar just sits right there. So working on the core and getting it strong was a big priority for me!
Day 1: 30 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 2: 60 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 3: 90 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: 150 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 6: 175 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 7: 200 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Make sure to take all the final day’s challenges from each Avenger with you into Captain America Week.:
-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)
I loved archery! And Big Apple Archery in Queens is a really great place to learn. They do a great job of showing you proper technique and give you plenty of time to practice what you’ve learned. They have excellent equipment and a great range on which to practice. The class had a decent number of students, but wasn’t so full that it seemed overcrowded or anything. Plenty of room on the range for everyone in the class. I used a Groupon deal to take this class, but the first equipment rental is free and if you purchase a bow from there, the first class is free. Definitely worth a try!
Hawkeye is a warrior, a soldier, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I figured he’d have done a lot of different things to train. I took an intro class at Velocity where they focus on conditioning the whole body for different sports. We pulled weights, ran sprints (thought I was gonna die after the sprints) and worked with resistance bands. It was indeed a full-body workout! Every inch of me ached the next morning. An introductory class is free and when you walk in you might be a little intimidated, but don’t be. The instructors are really great and will help you make it through the whole class and finish strong. I trained with 3 other men on my team and it was a really great experience!!
By week 4, I was tired. I just wanted to sleep. Scheduling was getting difficult. The nice promising Spring weather had turned cold and my motivation almost left me completely this week. Morning runs were hard to come by (because I don’t like running in cold weather.) So I had to find other ways to stay energized in the morning. One particularly lazy morning, I forced myself up and out of bed and I started making a list of reasons why I was doing this. Why did I want to train to be an Avenger? Why did I want to get healthy? Why had I given up my beloved mint chocolate chip ice cream? Was it really worth it?
After writing down 2 pages of reasons why I should continue on with this journey, I found out that I did believe it was worth it and I went out and ran, in the rain no less. It was never going to be easy to do this. And if you take that step towards a healthier life, it won’t be easy for you either. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Chris Hemsworth who has children and a wife and a job and a lot of things that demand his attention. And the world will be against you. I pass by 3 Dunkin Donuts on my commute to work every morning. Giving me not 1, but 3 opportunities to cheat. But this week, despite hitting a wall… I refused to. Something about reaching a limitation really made me want to kick it down and press through. It won’t always be this way. But it was this week!!
Week 4: Thor Week
Thor Odinson, god of thunder, ruler of Asgard, wielder of Mjolnir. Thor was born into a privileged life. He was raised to be a king of Asgard, along with his adopted brother Loki. Stripped of his powers, he was sent to Earth by his father, Odin, to learn the true meaning of kingly responsibility. Upon his return he was welcomed back and was shown to be a worthy prince of Asgard. When Earth was once again threatened by his brother, Loki, Thor joined up with the team known as The Avengers to fight the threat to Earth, home of his beloved Jane.
Chris Hemsworth plays the mighty god of thunder. To prepare for the role, Hemsworth started training with former Navy seal, Duffy Gaver. Gaver applied an “old school bodybuilding approach” to train Hemsworth. Take a look at the full article and workout over at MuscleandFitness.com
Avengers and Age of Ultron, are on the list as usual. Adding in Thor and Thor: The Dark World for all kinds of Asgardian goodness! Thor is a great figure of mythology so I added Clash of the Titans to the list because it’s all about the gods and demigods of Greek mythology, to keep with that mysthological theme. And for good measure I added in Star Trek, the JJ Abrams reboot, which stars none other than Chris Hemsworth himself, as James T. Kirk’s ill-fated father.
The music used in Thor and Thor: The Dark World have that heavy epic feeling to them, so I also added a lot of Star Wars music and other epic movie themes. Along with Carmina Burana. Anything that makes you feel like you are in a sweeping epic. This music definitely made me run with purpose!
I crafted my meal plan based on what Chris Hemsworth ate during training. Take a look at HealthyCeleb.com
Weekly Workout Challenge
Day 1: 5 Kettlebell Swings/ 5 Pushups
Day 2: 8 Kettlebell Swings/ 8 Pushups
Day 3: 11 Kettlebell Swings/ 11 Pushups
Day 4: 14 Kettlebell Swings/ 14 Pushups
Day 5: Rest Day
Day 6: 17 Kettlebell Swings/ 17 Pushups
Day 7: 20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups
By now you should have layered on the final day’s workout from Iron Man Week, Hulk Week and Black Widow Week. Take the last day of Thor week with you into Hawkeye week. It should look like this:
-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)
I chose kettlebell class because I thought the kettlebell could stand in for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. At Kettlebell Kickboxing they teach you a lot of different ways to utilize the kettlebell. They also incorporate some kickboxing and cardio into the routine as well. It made for a really great full-body workout! I brought a friend with me to this class and we were both smiling and sweating by the end. Intro class to Kettlebell Kickboxing is $20. A great class!!
If there is one member of The Avengers who could be described as “diesel” it would be Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. So I decided to take Diesel Class at Crunch Gym for Thor Week. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. It was an intense 60 minutes of weights, cardio and floor work. Cruch offers a free trial at their gym where you can take advantage of their gym equipment and/ or their classes. I’m a classes person myself and I really loved the group energy in this class as well as the unbridled enthusiasm of the instructor!! If you are a Crunch member or thinking of joining, definitely give this class a try!
Other options for Thor Week:
Other Kettlebell Classes
Here’s a list of tips that really helped me through this fitness plan. They are nothing new. They are nothing you couldn’t easily find online or in Shape magazine. But they are things that really worked for me and I hope will work for you, if you need that extra bit of motivation!
-Be honest with yourself – Try using a food tracker, I like My Fitness Pal. And make sure to be accurate in honest in your tracking. Lying only hinders your own progress. And unless you allow someone to be your accountability, you will be the only to know if you are creating a faithful accounting of your eating habits. But I truly believe that if you start being honest, even if it means tracking the 2 bowls of mint chocolate chips ice cream you ate one night, that you will start to change your habits because you want to see healthier stats. And because it will start to feel so good to make better choices. It did for me
-Stick to serving sizes – For dry goods and things that can be broken into portions, I tried to split up the portions way before meal time came around. For example, as soon as I got home from the grocery store I divided up the whole wheat pasta into ziploc bags with the correct portion size in each bag. Same with things like grapes or chips. Anything that would be easy to overeat in one sitting. That way when the time comes to eat the food you want, you can judge it based on an accurate portion and log it into your food tracker correctly. It’s ok if you need more that 1 portion of the food. But that’s where the honesty comes in.
-Shop the outer rim – When you go to the grocery store, try to stick to the fresh foods. Dairy, fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, etc. These can be found along the outer circle of more super markets. The aisles generally hold dry, preserved goods. Some of which you might need. But to eat cleaner, greener, healthier meals, the best things are the ones that might not survive a nuclear apocalypse (I’m looking at you Twinkie!)
-Keep what you like, ditch the rest – There’s nothing worse than a fitness plan that feels like it was meant for someone else. That’s why I want you to be able to take what you like from it. Sure, working out everyday, never losing focus and living only off the land is probably the healthiest way to live. But it’s not practical. I’m a firm believer that some effort is better than no effort. So even if you just do a weekly challenge or hit one class a week, it’s better than nothing. I went on Pinterest and just made a whole board of things that inspired me (after all, that’s what Pinterest is for!) This allowed me to visualize and then I went ahead and took the things I liked and ditched all the rest. Enjoyment is really half the battle!!
I would consider myself a fairly fit person. I enjoy running and Soul Cycle and walking and when I’m vigilant, I eat marginally well. But then came the winter and I was discontent. Chilly weather caused my motivation to disappear. The running stopped. The Soul Cycle stopped. I still tried to walk and get at least my 10,000 steps a day. But I counteracted that by overeating fatty ‘comfort’ foods.
One day, I realized I had gained 20 pounds that I did not want on me (it may not sound like a lot of weight, but it sure felt like it.) Somehow I’d let the weight sneak up on me. And that wasn’t ok with me!! My sugar intake was at an all time high, due to eating a lot of macaroni and cheese and mint chocolate chip ice cream (my favorite comfort food!) And I am genetically at risk for diabetes, but I just didn’t seem to care. This was the heaviest I’d been in quite a while. All the previous progress I’d made in the fall was being wasted thanks to laziness and a complete lack of discipline.
One night, while watching Avengers (for the 19th time), I realized that if aliens did invade Earth or the zombie apocalypse finally happened or some other menacing force became reality, I’d be one of the first to go. And as I watched Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow kick serious ass on screen, I knew…that wasn’t gonna work for me!
So I embarked on a journey that would eventually become a transforming experience.
A lot of what I’ll share is not ground breaking. It’s not even new information. It’s constantly posted and reposted in many forms. You just have to tailor it to you. That’s what I did. I made something that would be fun, inspiring and made just for me!
Now, I prefer fantasy to reality sometimes…it’s true. But I know I’ll probably never be called on to fight for my life or to save another person’s. But if I ever was called upon, I wanted to be ready.
I delved into each of the 6 characters that make up the team known as The Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. I researched what each individual actor did to prepare for their roles, then I went about crafting a 6 week fitness plan that I thought would be fun and that I knew I could accomplish. Most of the workouts I found online that were based on the Avengers, were mainly geared towards men. The meal plans too. I’m not about to start eating 2300 calories a day. That just wouldn’t work for me. This plan is meant to be tailored to individuals, men or women. If you like it, keep it in the plan. If you don’t, take it out. (Keep in mind I am not a fitness or medical professional. Just a nerdy fangirl who wanted to make a change.)
I do not have the money or the time to dedicate to actually looking like an Avenger. (and I am not being paid by Marvel to do this either.) But I knew that I wanted to do more than I was at the time and I decided to use the inspiration I felt while watching the Avengers to help transform my lazy habits into constructive discipline.
Below is the complete breakdown of Week 1, including the things I turned to for inspiration, the weekly challenges I made for myself, my food shopping list, and the amazing classes I took all in my endeavor to get healthy and become an #AvengerinTraining
Week 1: Iron Man Week
The first Avenger on my the list was Iron Man. I decided to go in order of their introduction to the franchise. And who better to start it off, than the Iron Avenger himself. Robert Downey Jr., at 50 years old, is in the best shape of his life. Physically and in his career (as of 2014, RDJ tops Forbes’ list of highest paid actors in Hollywood). His onscreen alter-ego is Tony Stark who, after getting kidnapped by terrorists, witnesses the damage of what has become a destructive legacy at Stark Industries. While incarcerated in an Afghanistan prison, Tony discovers himself to be more than just the “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” that he always had been and starts down the road to becoming so much more.
To prepare for the role of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr, “started training using the Wing Chun technique, made famous by Bruce Lee.” (MensFitness.com) He also cut way back on the cardio in favor of increased weight training. By the time filming for Iron Man began, RDJ had backed on 25 extra pounds of muscle. Check out his full training regiment over at MensFitness.com
Sometimes the hardest part is taking that initial first step out the door. Being inspired is a fleeting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Movies and music are two of my favorite things to partake in. So while preparing to take on this 6 week challenge, I thought a lot about what would keep me moving towards my goals.
Obviously, Avengers and Age of Ultron are on the movie list for each of the Avengers as they serve as inspiration for all 6 characters. For Iron Man Week, if I needed a little extra oomph of energy or motivation I watched some or all of the above movies. Iron Man and Iron Man 3 are also obvious choices. Spiderman may seem like an unlikely choice (Peter is a poor college kid, Tony is a wealthy man), but I think there are a lot of themes that overlap between Iron Man and Spiderman. And Casino Royale has billionaire, playboy written all over it. Plus I LOVE James Bond!!
This list is comprised of music from Iron Man and music that makes me think of Iron Man. Anything to get me in the mindset while on a run in the morning. Hope it pushes you like it pushed me!
I created a meal plan (you won’t hear the word diet in this blog series, I don’t believe in them) based on the foods that Robert Downey Jr ate while training. Again, I’m not being paid by Marvel and I don’t have unlimited time on my hands. So I had the master list of items that I used to stock my refrigerator and pantry and then I made meals out of them that I knew I would enjoy and would be easy to make on a daily basis. I did a lot more cooking this week than I had been doing and I liked it!!
Weekly Workout Challenge
For Iron Man week I chose a plank challenge. Here’s the daily breakdown:
Day 1: 2 sets of Kneeling Side Planks (60 hold second, rest in between)
Day 2: 2 sets of Kneeling Side Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)
Day 3: 3 sets of Incline Side Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 4: 2 sets of Front Elbow Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 5: 3 sets of Front Elbow Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 6: 2 sets of Full Front Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 7: 2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)
When Iron Man week ended, I took the last day’s challenge activity and rolled it over into the next Avenger’s weekly workout schedule. So Day 7 of the above plan will be used for the rest of the 5 weeks of training.
If you were to call me an overachiever, you might be right. Especially when it comes to doing things I love and enjoy. I’ll go the extra mile and I’ll run the whole way there. So when I came up with this idea for my time as an #AvengerinTraining I chose a couple different workout classes and gyms for each week that I thought might represent the Avenger of that particular week. For Iron Man week I did:
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not for the faint of heart or the shy wallflower. If you are squeamish about being up close and personal with complete strangers… this isn’t for you. If you find the prospect of hand to hand combat daunting… turn the other way. But if you want to be pulled out of your comfort zone and challenged beyond what you think you can do… find the closest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio and give it a try. Channel your inner Iron Man. And if you live in the New York City area, head to Lifestyle MMA Academy in Astoria. They will kick your butt. They sure kicked mine and, bonus, the first trial class is free. So you have no excuses!!
I’ve done pilates before, it’s one of my favorite ways to workout, but Power Pilates at The Art of Fitness will take your practice to a whole new level. And at just $10 a class, it’s a really great deal for a whole lot of workout!
Other options for Iron Man Week:
Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America
And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc!