More than running

Over the past few years I’ve grown to love a certain hard ass trainer.  However, it wasn’t until I looked at our DVD collection the other day that I realized it may be bordering on obsession.


Don’t worry, no restraining orders need to be filed.  But I do think Jillian Michaels is a fitness genius. 

I used to poo-poo home workout videos, thinking they were so 80’s.  Then I moved to the East Coast, where the nasty weather kept me indoors far more often than I liked.  Rather than go stir crazy pent up in our tiny apartment, I decided to try some programs on ExerciseTV.  I wasn’t really into, though.  Coming from a soccer player turned runner background, I thought cardio was life.  I had no interest in weights or strength training.  So I dabbled in the kickboxing stuff and maybe did a few cardio dancing things.  But truly, I thought it was stupid.  And so I resigned to schlepping my behind to the gym on my days off for hour long dates with the treadmill.  Oh how I missed running outdoors during those New York years!  I packed in as many races and Central Park runs as possible during the months weeks of tolerable weather (can you tell I’m a California native). 

Cut to 2009 when I had a wedding dress fitting looming over my head.  Clearly I wanted to look toned (and drop dead gorgeous) because what bride doesn’t?  That’s when I discovered Jillian. 

The 30 Day Shred was so widely discussed in the blog world, I decided to give it a shot.  I never would have thought such quick workouts could be so intense, but I can’t deny that these routines got my heart pumping.  The first time I did Level 1 of the Shred, I thought “that’s it?” when I got to the end.  But the next day I was singing a different tune.  I remember wondering how in the world I could feel so sore from just 20 minutes.  I was used to logging 6-8 miles a few times a week. 

That’s when the world of strength training began to reveal itself to me.  All that time I thought I was such a badass because I could run and run and run.  But my core was nothing compared to what it is now. 

Since then, my body has gotten so much leaner and I know it’s due to the diversity of my workouts.  In hindsight it seems so obvious that my body had clearly hit a plateau with running day in and day out.  After just a few weeks of strength training, I was already seeing (and feeling) the benefits.  Now, after almost a year, my entire philosophy on fitness has changed. 

I’m now a die hard Jillian fan and I know that my devotion has caused numerous friends and colleagues to follow suit.  These DVD routines are my favorite way to start my work days because I end up feeling energized for the rest of the day.  And on my days off, I get to log miles outdoors. 

I will always consider myself a runner.  Running is the best release for me – I get high off the endorphins.  But for anyone who thinks that cardio is the only way to workout, trust me, you are missing out on so much. 

I’m not going to show before and after pics because (a) there are creepers on the internet and I’m not cool with that; and (b) I don’t have any.  Ha!  But I do have this bicep shot.

Photo on 2011-01-28 at 13.49 #2

It’s post workout (last week), so cut me some slack on the sweaty look, but I just wanted to prove that weights don’t mean bulk.  If you are one of those girls who’s too afraid to touch weights because you are worried about turning into the hulk, I used to be in your shoes!  Strength training with weights has done nothing but create tone for me, and I love it.  I don’t want to look like a beast, but I certainly don’t want to be scrawny either.  Because I’m a more petite person, I get underestimated at first glance all the time (by coworkers and patients), but I love the look of surprise when they see I’m not a wuss at all.  :)  Bring it. 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.  I’ll do my best to answer them. 

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Comments (81)

  1. hippierunner

    Awesome post! I’m starting to have the same realization as you, also thanks to Jillian.

  2. Mama Pea

    I don’t run at all anymore. And I was a half-marathoner. I ONLY do strength training, yoga, pilates and walking. And I’m leaner and more toned than I ever was doing hours and hours of cardio.

    Preach on, sister.

  3. Sarah


    I am so tired of people and patients at work commenting and writing me off because I look petite. So….

    I’ve been thinking about getting a jillian dvd for a while. However, out apartment really is tiny. Do you need much room to do the exercise dvds?

    Or any other tips for starting strength training? xxx

  4. Kelsey @ Unmitigated Grub

    This is awesome!! I struggle with sticking with any kind of strength training. Literally ALL I do is run, and I know that’s not ideal. I’m sure I’ve plateaued with my training.

    And I like the idea of not having to leave my apartment to work out….

    Which Jillian DVD do you recommend starting with?

  5. Lauren Marie

    Love Jillian! Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism is fantastic. Have you ever checked out The New Rules of Lifting for Women? It’s an awesome guide for getting into weight training.

  6. movesnmunchies

    i cant wait to start strength training!! i should invest in those dvds!

  7. Maryann (The Balanced Beaan_

    I love this! Awesome pic 🙂 I too used to only do cardio but started adding stregnth training a few months ago and its been great! And whoever thinks stregnth training isn’t a cardio workout should know that it can make your heartrate soar…best of both worlds!

  8. Jin

    I only quite recently dabbed into strength training when I came to university and i feel stronger than ever. No more are boring sessions of hour long cardio that I have to mentally struggle through. I’m not saying cardio shouldn’t be done at all (I admit, there are times when I just need to have a sweaty run to release all the stress) but strength training amongst women is so underestimated.
    My exercise regimen that consisted of elliptical, treadmill, running outdoors ONLY, is now replaced with a variety of workouts: women’s health mag’s printable strength training workouts, lots of Dave Farmar’s Power Yoga and the occasional fitness classes that I attend with my friends.

    The key thing I found was variety. Switching up workouts really do have a whole different outlook on exercise and sometimes even make you look forward to it!

    Props to you Elise for advocating strength training! I think it’s so important for ladies to incorporate into their workouts.

  9. Katie

    I love weights. I also have transitioned from a very avid cardio queen to some strength training and it’s fantastic! I haven’t tried Jillian’s yoga…how is it??

  10. elise

    If you have enough room to lie an exercise/yoga mat down then you are good to go.

  11. elise

    Exactly! Glad you have discovered the beauty of variety too 🙂

  12. elise

    No! Thanks for the rec.

  13. elise

    I’d recommend the 30 day shred. It’s the most bang for your buck because it’s 3 different workouts.

  14. elise

    I’m still getting used to it. Once I know the routine, maybe I can mute the music because the fast paced beats are annyoing. I like a more smooth yoga flow. The are hard moved though. I definitely sweat.

  15. Natalie (The First Kitchen)

    LOVE Jillian. I always say I have an abusive relationship with her… she keeps kicking my ass but I keep coming back for more 😉 My boyfriend always makes fun of me when he hears me jumping around and huffing downstairs, but I just tell him to come try it out for a few minutes and he’ll shut up… of course he declines!

  16. Kathleen

    Yay! I’ve been waiting for this post for a while. I too was completely devoted to running. I’m small so I never really needed to lose weight but I always felt a little *puffy* if that makes sense. Yoga and strength training completely got rid of that. Now, I actually have to convince myself to get some cardio in!

    Thanks for the post. You looked awesome in your wedding dress, by the way. More importantly, I bet you felt strong and healthy!

  17. Sarah

    Awesome! Thanks x

  18. Jess (In My Healthy Opinion)

    Elise: I love your blog! I’ve read for awhile now and wanted to say Hi. And I SO agree with this post! I used to run, run, run ALL the time, and eventually I just got bigger and started hating it. I switched it up to weights (including Jillian – LOVE her!) and yoga and I’ve never been happier. Excellent post! 🙂

  19. Anna

    You need to add 6 week 6 pack to your library, it is awesome! sort of like the shred, but targeted towards core, 2 30-minute workouts. If you ever get a chance it would be great to read a review of all your DVDs! 🙂

  20. Elizabeth @ RunWithSneakers

    Very impressive bicep. Girl, you are buff.

  21. Sherry

    Another Jillian Fan!! I love all of Jillian’s workout DVDs, I have them all! I love rotating throughout the week keeps my body guessing and it’s a lot more fun. I am a short petite woman and use to not have any muscle definition and it’s amazing how my body has transformed. I love strength training and completely addicted in a good way. It’s really empowering when you’re strong and strong is sexy. I also have 2 of Jackie Warner’s DVD’s as well, they are really good too.

  22. zoe

    i am so with you! jillian kicks my behind! i used to run like a crazy person (hello shared soccer background :)!) but have since given up on my ridiculous cardio ways. in addition to the 30 day shred DVD (seriously, this lady know how to get me all sorts of sweaty in just twenty minutes) i rock climb and do yoga. talk about arm definition! i’m petite too and it IS fun surprising people :)! nice post, elise!

    oh, and do you have any other videos? or just the jillian ones? i need more than just the shred :)!

  23. adrianna

    could not agree more. my body changed shape once i started lifting, too…in a good way! i still look a little lanky, but (in the summer) when i can expose my legs and arms, there’s real definition. and i love being able to move things or pick them up without shaking or dropping them! plus, it shakes up the monotony.

  24. Lisa @ I'm an Okie

    you do look lean and mean! I love it!

  25. Jess

    I love Jillian. I’m currently obsessed with no more trouble zones. It keeps my workouts interesting!

  26. J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

    Strength training is where it’s at!!

  27. Courtney

    Elise, I swear we are the same person, lol! I am working on my 3rd apple of the day, by the way… 🙂

    Anyway, I was SO with you–I used to think workout videos/dvds were sooooo old school and lame. Lamer than lame! I am a runner too, and the treadmill was my life. But then I switched gyms and my new one opens later than I would like on the weekends and I needed to get workouts in, so…home workouts it was/is. I have two of those Jillian dvds you pictured, lol! In fact, I just did the Banish Fat Boost Metabolism on Saturday and the 30 Day Shred on Sunday 🙂 Do you have any other workout dvds you would recommend? Those are really my only two…I do still have an old Tae-Bo vhs, but that just isn’t as good as Jillian, haha. Is the Biggest Loser one any good? Or any other dvds you like that are non-Jillian?


  28. Pure2raw Twins

    We love strength training! We have noticed more change (in the good way) in our bodies with doing non or very little cardio and just strength and yoga 🙂

  29. BroccoliHut

    Great info! Ever since I injured my hip, I’ve been looking into other ways to stay fit. I’ll have to try the Shred!

  30. This Italian Family

    Okay, it’s official… I have GOT to try the 30 day shred. I’ve heard SO much about it, I just never got around to doing it. Early tonight I was talking to one of my girlfriends who I work out with and we were talking about the Shred. So between that convo and this post, I think it’s official, haha!

  31. Allison Walentowicz

    Have you done the stairs in Santa Monica? I tried them for the first time last week and couldn’t walk for 3 days! It was crazy! But once my muscles healed, I legitimately felt stronger. Try ’em!

  32. elise

    I love the stairs! I do them almost every time I go for a run outside. I love that it’s like nature’s stair master. I was achy the first time I did it, but my body’s more used to it now. I agree, though, Ocean Ave and the Santa Monica stairs…doesnt get much better than that!!

  33. elise

    I only have the ones I showed, but I have done Jackie Warner’s on ExerciseTV. It’s pretty good, but not as good as Jillian (too much resting between sets of things!). Most of the other ones I’ve tried on ExerciseTV I hate and quit part way through. I’ve just never found anything as good as Jillian. I think Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism is my next fave after the Shred.

  34. elise

    yup. it is confirmed. take it as a sign and get your shred on!

  35. elise

    The only other one I’d recommend is Jackie Warner’s stuff, but it’s still just not as good. I also did Jillian’s kettlebell workout once thanks to ExerciseTV and I realllly liked it. You don’t need kettlebells per se (you can make do with weights) and it’s definitely different than any of her other DVDs. The Biggest Loser one may be my least favorite because it’s also got Bob and some other trainer chick doing circuits – but what I do like about that one is there’s separate warm-up and cool-down circuits as well as a few different lengthed routines, and you can mix and match them all creating a different workout (and different length) each time. Unfortunately, they arent very advanced and although they get me sweaty, I don’t feel like the moves are as challenging or unique.

  36. elise

    I agree. Jackie’s are a nice choice if I want a day off from Jillian…

  37. elise


  38. elise

    I was thinking about doing that too…thanks for the encouragement.

  39. elise

    Thanks Kathleen!!! 🙂

  40. elise

    Kyle does her workouts all the time. He curses at her too 🙂

  41. Julia

    I just wanted to stop by to say that today was my 5th day of the 30-Day Shred, which I bought after I saw you post about it a while back! Days 2 and 3 were the hardest, but now I look forward to getting up early to do it! Reading your blog has inspired me to be so much healthier in my eating/exercise habits 😀

  42. Rika

    holy cannoli! beautiful muscles! i loved the 30 day shred but I think I’m sold to give her other DVD’s a try now! 😀

  43. Rika

    Oh and I have a question: Do you only do those DVD’s for strength training? or do you have your own lifting routine as well? Thank you in advance!

  44. elise

    I dont lift or do much else with weights aside from Jilian’s strength training routines, but I am getting into kettlebells and I love yoga.

  45. elise

    yeah! glad I could inspire you. keep it up 🙂

  46. Rachel

    first of all, love your blog and your wittyness (i don’t think thats a word but whatevvvver)

    wanted to comment and say i totally relate in terms of your jillian love. i always look forward to her kicking my ass and, like you, am pretty petite but notice myself getting more toned with her.

    bob harper’s pure burn super strength is pretty ass kicking as well although i don’t like his demeanor in it.

    ps…she’s coming out with a new dvd, FOUR levels of beating. scared and excited at the same time;

  47. Jess

    I’m obsessed with Jillian Michael’s DVDS..they’re the best! Such great results. I recommend her 6-week 6-pac DVD 😉

  48. Courtney

    Thanks, Elise. I have done one of the Jackie Warner ones before (can’t remember which…I had gotten it from the library) and it was just okay. She moved pretty quickly and didn’t explain things very well, which was fine, but hard to follow at first. It wasn’t all that impressive…

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  50. Lindsay

    I too am obsessed with Jillian Michael’s DVDS I have all of them – and they are great! I used to do half marathons but haven’t run in about a year due to a knee injury and I don’t miss it at all. I do strength training, yoga and walk about 15 miles a week and am able stay very lean.

  51. Rachel

    i do the yoga meltdown dvd all the time!! once the weather hit below 40F here, i decided that i wouldn’t force myself outside! dan and i work out in our apt. i’m sure our downstairs neighbors hate that, but whatevs 🙂 i actually just got the shred dvd 🙂 MISS YOU! xoxo

  52. elise

    miss you too love. i am SURE our neighbors downstairs hate me. i do the shred at 430 am after all, haha

  53. Holly

    i want my arms to look like that. and i have the 30 day shred in my closet. i think it’s finally time…

  54. elise

    haha. yes. remove from closet.

  55. Meg

    I just came across your blog (from your Choosing Raw guest post!), and this totally convinced me to give Jillian a try – I’m a competitive cyclist, and I’ve been “doing” P90x for strength to support my training. The problem is I’d rarely do a full session, because an hour is a LOT of time on top of riding! Jillian is perfect. I did her yoga DVD today and loved it. Thanks so much for sharing the recommendation!

  56. elise

    Hey Meg! Glad you found me 🙂 And glad I helped you discover Jillian!

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  58. elise

    thank you so much rachel! yikes – 4 levels of jillian!! i cant decide if im excited or scared, hahah. i am going to have to check out bob’s dvd now, too…what do you think of jackie warner?

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  60. Amber

    I’m so inspired by all of the awesome ladies (didn’t notice any guys, but you too…) who have posted responses! It’s like a big love fest. Haha. I am so glad I was going back through your old posts otherwise I wouldn’t have found this. I run 2x/wk and yoga 2x/wk and, as someone said above, I am slender but still feel puffy. I know it’s because I need to mix things up a little bit. I’m totally going to try the 30 day shred and see how it goes!

    Thanks, Elise (and everyone else posting here)!!

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  62. elise

    i agree…the comments on this post were so amazing.

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  64. Tracy

    Elise! I remember you posting this a while back and I started doing shred – it’s made such a difference! Do you mind sharing what lb weights you use?

  65. elise

    I use 5 lb weights 🙂

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  70. Darcy

    I couldn’t agree more with your post! I LOVE Jillian! I first tried one of her workouts On Demand via Comcast Cable and was instantly sweaty and smitten! Now I am the proud owner of several DVDs. Also, I am really enjoying your blog, just discovered it.

  71. Elise (Post author)

    thanks darcy!! so glad you found me (and jillian, haha) 🙂

  72. Sara

    I am just finishing up the last level of Jillian’s 30 day Shred and I love love love it. Recently, I have been trying to get in more strength training to build that toned look that running for countless miles doesn’t always give. If I were to trust anyone to get my butt in shape for only 20 minutes a day, it’d be Jillian Michaels for sure!

  73. Elise (Post author)

    couldnt agree more!! shes such a bad ass i love it.

  74. inertia2012

    you look great!!! how many pounds dumbbells do you use?

  75. Elise (Post author)

    5 lbs

  76. Carolyn

    Strength training is great for your muscles and for the whole body. To provide enough nutrients for active workouts I am taking Navy Seal Formula manufactured by MGNutritionals. I was always opposed to all kinds of chemicals, but this supplement contains natural compounds, like siberian ginseng extract and caffeine. Never expected that supplement would provide such a tangible result, but for me it works perfect.

  77. Rebecca

    Jillian is a goddess. I love her videos….hers are some of the most effective workouts ever. Jillian’s Ripped in 30 is also a good one.

  78. Elise (Post author)

    agreed! i love them!


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  80. Crystal

    Well, I know I’m a little late to the party but I just bought The 30 Day Shred and I’m in love with it! I’ve been super out of shape and started doing Pump about a month or so ago…which I like a lot but it’s a 55 minute video and I don’t always want to workout for that long. I’m on day 2 of Jillian and I’m looking forward to reaping the rewards of my work! Thanks for the rec!

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