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Workout Review: The Shift Shop

In life there are things we want that elude us the more we chase them... and I've learned that when that happens to me, it may be a sign that I'm not going about the "chase" in the right way.

In my twenties, I never felt good about my body, and I thought confidence would come when I lost weight. Eventually I got tired of the cycle of depriving myself of food and punishing myself through exercise, and I stopped. It took a lot more work to unwind the cycle, but the pivotal moment was when I made the decision to change.

I was able to break free from my addiction to criticizing my body—and believe me, that's exactly what it was, an addiction. I was so wrapped up in this destructive behavior that I wouldn't let go of it regardless of how it was keeping me stuck. I have an addictive personality and have had trouble "overdoing" it in the past with food, alcohol, shopping, work, and all sorts of other things (fortunately never illegal drugs, since my life probably would have taken a very different turn if I had tried them). The funny thing about addiction is that it keeps cropping up in all sorts of ways—you break one habit and it pops up elsewhere in your life in a different form.

Understanding addictive behavior for what it is helps us recognize it when a new addiction crops up in our lives. That was what happened to me with self-criticism: as I started to break free from my food addiction, I saw that my habit of using my internal monologue to rip my appearance to shreds was just as much of an addiction. What purpose does this kind of self-inflicted cruelty serve? As I understand it, this type of behavior often comes up when we have experienced hurt, ridicule, or rejection in our lives. We somehow feel that we can preempt others hurting us again if we hurt ourselves first—or perhaps we are inflicting on ourselves the way we feel we "deserve" to be treated. This pattern may be learned from experience, but we still have a choice as to whether we internalize and perpetuate it or not.

(And by the way, I accept and embrace my body today even though I haven't lost weight—and in fact have gained weight—since those days when I hated my body with my every thought and breath.)

So what does this have to do with the Shift Shop? Well, in the program, super trainer Chris Downing focuses on mindset shift just as much as (if not more than) the physical shifts that are happening. Mindset is crucially important—not just for having the mental strength to finish out a tough workout, but also for the self-acceptance that forms the foundation of loving your body. And THAT, at the deepest level, is what the Shift Shop is all about.

So you can read the program details below and find out about the nuts and bolts—but just know that the essence of the program is mindset. And if you've been trying to stay true to a healthy lifestyle and failed multiple times, or if you've been struggling with loving and accepting your body, THIS could be the program that helps you finally make that shift.

Program length: 3 weeks

Workout length: 6 full-length workouts (3 speed sessions and 3 strength sessions) of 25 to 45 minutes in length, plus a 12-minute ab routine done twice a week, a 20-minute stretch session, and 2 50-minute deluxe workouts that are optional (recommended if you complete a full round of the program and continue with a new round)

What equipment is needed? The strength sessions require free weights of varying sizes (I use a range from 5 lb all the way up to 40 lb, so adjustable weights may be a good idea if you are buying your equipment rather than using weights you already have). I also find a sticky mat helpful for the plank-style moves and the core workout. The speed sessions use floor markers that come with the DVD kit or are available for purchase separately if you're accessing the workouts via Beachbody on Demand. (That's what's shown in the photo with this post... Chris recommends writing inspiring sayings on them to help you persevere through the difficult moments!)

How is it structured? Alternate days of focusing on speed and strength—6 tough workouts per week, and then one day of stretching. The core workout is combined with the strength workout twice a week.

What kinds of moves are involved? The speed sessions contain sports drill-style moves of the kind that are used to train players in sports such as football and soccer. (There are at least a few moves inspired by track and field too.) The strength sessions contain your typical squats and lunges, bicep curls and overhead presses, but the moves advance from week to week and become more complex—so for example, a squat, bicep curl, and overhead press might be strung together in a single move, or a weighted side lunge combined with an upright row. Complex movements engage a wider variety of muscles and require greater concentration to maintain control—so this is part of what contributes to the mental shift that occurs!

Low-impact? No, but there is a low-impact modifier for every single move!

Interested in trying this program? Learn more in my video review or check out the options for participating in my MAKE THE SHIFT fitness challenge! You can also check out this Facebook album where I've been chronicling my experience with the program. If you have any questions, I'm only an email away... Let's chat!

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