So I’m providing two reviews for you tonight.  One is for Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred DVD and the other for Alexia Select Sides Roasted Potato and Portobello Mushroom frozen side dish.  Let’s start with the uncomplicated one shall we…

The Alexia company makes some outstanding frozen snacks and side dishes that are organic and don’t have a gigantic list of ingredients.  I have tried their frozen Potato wedges and their Sweet Potato fries and both are fantastic.  When this “Select Sides” item showed up in the food store, I was interested.  Basically, all you have to do is pull out the seasoned olive oil and place it in some hot water to thaw it out.  Then you heat it in a skillet and add the contents of the package to the heated oil.  Ten to twelve minutes later, you have a fantastic side dish.  The veggies tasted fresh and the herbed oil added a nice flavor.  They weren’t soggy and I appreciated that there were green beans thrown in to get some green in.  I don’t eat potatoes that often, because they are not really positive when you break down their nutritional package (ie the cost outweigh the benefits).  However, there was a nice balance of potatoes with beans, onions and mushrooms so I didn’t feel like I was only eating potatoes.  The servings are also small, so you don’t feel like you are gorging yourself.  I would say there is enough there for at least three good sized portions.  So, if you are looking for a quick meal that doesn’t sacrifice the healthiness, I would definitely go for one of these sides.

Now…Jillian.  Sigh.  If you have known me for a while, I have watched the Biggest Loser since its inception.  I no longer watch it for reasons that will become clear.  I think the show is somewhat motivational.  But in the end, it is a game, and I do not think that it is a good situation to place yourself when dealing with your health.  Alternatively, when the show originally started, it was a nice compact hour show that involved discussing healthy options, maybe watching a little gym time, and then the weigh in.  Now it is a two to three hour extravaganza that includes everything from workouts to financial counseling.  The weigh ins are taking at least an hour to get through and quite frankly I do not want to waste the two to three hours watching TV when I could be doing something more constructive, like working out.  After I got my personal trainer’s certification, I became appalled at some of the workouts that they were putting people through.  If you are excessively overweight, there is no reason for you to be running on a treadmill at 7 mph.  When you run, two to three times your body weight is being forced onto your joints and bones.  So imagine if you are three hundred pounds, that is going to equal 600-900 lbs of weight on your precious hips and knees.  Also, as a trainer and group exercise instructor, I am annoyed when people believe that they should be losing the same amount as people on the show.  It is just not possible in the real world and it is not something that I will offer clients because I do not think that it is safe.  Remember that there is a medical staff on hand for the show. 

With that rant out of the way, let me focus on Jillian.  I like her workouts when placing them in the context of working out an overweight to healthy person.  Her concepts are dead on, when combining cardio with strength training and focusing on intervals.  She combines upper and lower body strength moves so that you are working both at the same time in a safe and effective manner.  I own her Making the Cut: The 30-Day Diet and Fitness Plan for the Strongest and Sexist You.  I have been through the program, sans the diet, and found it effective and I saw awesome results.  The program is also only designed for people that need to drop about 20 lbs or less though.  The workout is intense and I really like it.  I also like the way that Jillian motivates.  She is hard and tough, but somehow not mean.  I like that.  That is what motivates me through workouts and that is often how I train clients.  I don’t yell at them and I don’t insult them, just as Jillian doesn’t.  But I am not going to hold your hand.  And then the final knife in the side, is that she is now touting supplements.  Gah.  A good personal trainer knows that the healthy way to lose weight and become healthier is to get control of your diet and exercise regimine.  Diet supplements do not factor in.  Not one bit.  And this is where she loses a little credibility in my eyes. 

So the DVD…There were several people in the blogworld that have been talking up this DVD.  It was available at the library and so I gave it a shot.  I did not complete the 30 days of it because I have to take it back to the library :(.  But after two weeks, this is what I can say about it:

– There are three levels on the DVD.  There was no booklet with the DVD so I am going to assume that you perform one level per 10 days.  However, since there is no booklet, I am not aware of any training plan that discusses rest days or how often these workouts should be done.

– The workouts are intense.  She follows a three minute strength session, two minute cardio session, and one minute ab session set up.  Then this sequence is performed in three circuits.  You basically get a 20 minute workout.  I was able to get in all three levels and I thought that Level 1 was not far in front of Level 2 in terms of difficulty.  Level 3 was way more difficult.

– Here is where I have some problems with the workouts.  She goes straight from an intense cardio session to lying down.  Big no no in my book.  I believe that you should always bring the heart rate down before lying down.  Also, in some of the cardio sessions, she goes from something along the lines of jumping jacks to a squat thrust.  This is also scary for me because that is when a lot of people will pass out.  I know it will easily ramp up my heart rate to the point where I get light headed.

– The lack of program design freaks me out a bit.  I appreciate the idea of levels because that will allow you to see progression and also allow someone to build their endurance over a period of time.  However, you are not to perform the same exercises back to back, and it is impossible to avoid with this DVD if you are doing them everyday.  Your muscles need a rest period and you are not getting that if you do this each day.  Plus she focuses a lot on the shoulders, not only in exercises but in positions for other exercises.  So you could be doing pushups, plank, squat thrust, shoulder raises, and overhead press all in the same workout.  Most people’s shoulders are not capable of handling that much in one workout. 

– Finally, there is not a good guideline of what size weights you should be using for the workout.  Typically, if you have higher repetitions, you want lower weights.  But there isn’t really a guideline.  I don’t even think that I could get through all of the workout with 5 lbs weights.  Particularly the shoulder part. 

So with this being said, I think that the DVD could be effective.  However, you should turn it into a 60 day shred, giving yourself a break from the DVD workout every other day.  On those rest days, you can do another workout, but stay away from shoulder exercises and perform a lower impact cardio (because a lot of Jillian’s cardio is plyometic = jumping).  This way you are getting in active rest days, but you aren’t being lazy.

That is my rant.  I am sure that you don’t all agree with me on the Biggest Loser show nor Jillian, but that is fine.  We are all entitled to our opinion.  Until next time…


About OneVeganFoodie

Let's see. I am a certified personal trainer (CPT), group exercise instructor, nutritional counselor, and wellness counselor. My training background focuses mainly on getting overweight populations into shape, but I have worked with people wanting to gain strength/healthy weight and agility. I worked with the Army and the Marines for several years before settling into a civilian lifestyle. I'm still adjusting and I really miss it. I also enjoy coaching non-runners through their first running event. I post my workouts on here but remember that you need to seek medical advice prior to starting a new exercise regimine. I also love food. I've been vegetarian for 10 years and 4 of the last years I have been completely vegan. I love food and I love to cook. I follow a strict diet that I do not recommend for everyone, but I really enjoy as it keeps me healthy and helps me to know what is going into my body.
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