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A 90-day challenge: Bootcamp is for tough gals (and wussies like me)

Back in August of 1980, I entered an eight-week bootcamp for the United States Navy. I was 20 years old and presumably in okay shape, but every single day of those first few weeks, I spent each and every one of them just hoping and praying I would get through it and on to the next; most of the time I honestly thought I was going to die. Just die.

But I never did die, and in fact after getting over the hump of those first few weeks, things got much easier; the focus shifted to the end game -- finishing those eight weeks -- and it was all downhill from there.

Fast forward 31 years -- to the day, I might add -- and I have started bootcamp, once again.

This past Monday, August 22, 2011, I committed myself to a "90-Day Transformation Program" with Bootique Fitness for Women. Under the guise of Jaylin and Ed Allen, the husband and wife team behind Bootique Fitness, I will spend the next 90 days under a new exercise and nutrition routine that includes a unique combination of diverse offerings on a daily basis.

My regimen will consist of and be supported by: bootcamp style exercise sessions, Zumba classes, stair climbing sessions, fitness hikes, online videos, nutrition counseling, recipes for better eating options, tons of daily fitness advice via email, online support groups, lots of early morning yogurt or bananas before camp, protein shakes after camp, more fluids, and hopefully more sleep; all with the intention of zapping my body back into tip top shape.

God knows it needs it.

The last time I tried a bootcamp-style regimen was two years ago immediately following a break-up, and I did so specifically to keep myself from collapsing into a devastation-induced coma. Although that series of classes served its purpose, it was only three times per week -- for three weeks -- and was nothing like what I now have got myself involved in. There was no nutritional counseling, no alternative exercise offerings, no trainer or group support, basically nothing beyond the three assigned sessions per week.

But this is some serious business right here.

Although Week One is now pretty much in the bag as far as bootcamp goes, every minute of every one of these 90 days of the challenge I've committed to, my mind-set will always need to be in transformation mode.

I have to read boxes, remember to increase my water intake, and consider what I am choosing to put into my system at all times. Jaylin also requires us to keep a journal, which I find especially helpful. I scribble down any and all things I've done for the day that have to do with the regimen, and truth is the most important factor. There is no lying in boot camp.

As I look back on the week, I have to be honest with myself. It was not easy. Of course I was my own biggest blockade in many ways. Not really that big of a surprise, right? To start the week off on the wrong foot, between my haste and busy schedule, I made a 15 minute timing error (arriving too early, imagine!) and missed Day One of bootcamp, and although I made sure I made up for it, I was not even close to being prepared for Day Two of bootcamp. That morning really kicked my butt and my arms and quads are still sore, today.

I adjusted my eating habits starting on Monday, but I have yet to speak to Ed about my nutrition plan (that comes later today) so I'm sure things will still be changing in a big way.

This has been a year full of upheavals for me, so making these changes really could not come at a better time. However, I went in expecting that "newbies" could ease into the fray. I understood that there were various fitness levels going on all at once and you could work your way up to the fitness level you were ready for each week.

That was not quite the case. Did I already mention I was not at all prepared for my Day Two of bootcamp?

When I got out of my car on Wednesday morning in advance of the 7:15 am session at Balboa Park, Jaylin greeted me with a smile and then quickly got to work documenting my starting statistics: height, weight, measurements, and body fat (I definitely have some body fat to lose, no doubt about that). Then, no sooner than I had set my mat and keys down on the ground, I was told to go "warm up" while we waited for the rest of the 7:15 crew. No problem, I thought … for a second, at least.

What was my early morning, right out of the car, first day of bootcamp warm-up?

FIFTY jumping jacks, a few minutes of side lunges, a dozen (male) push-ups and then back to FIFTY MORE jumping jacks. WHAT!? THIS was a warm-up designed for a 51-year old, seriously out-of-shape gal in her first few minutes of bootcamp? What happened to the graduated fitness levels I had expected? What happened to "w a r m i n g" up? Easing into things? Apparently, no dice.

Just as I did 30 years ago, I thought I was going to die. Just die. To be completely honest, that warm up basically wore me out and I suffered through the rest of that first morning of bootcamp. To make matters worse, although I remembered to eat my yogurt before class, I forgot my water bottle on the kitchen counter. Ten minutes into the bootcamp routine, I realized this and panicked. I was about to pass out when Jaylin came to my rescue with both a glucose tablet and some much needed water.

My left hip often gets out of alignment (must be an odd posture thing) which added to the many other issues I was experiencing. There really was no rest for my weary body that first day, whatsoever. I came home and took a long, hot shower and was just glad to be done with the session.

By Thursday, I was so sore I could barely walk, but luckily I had received an email from Jaylin specifically addressing the fact that she knew we'd be sore and offering advice on how to deal with it. More water. Stretch. Keep moving. Post bootcamp protein shakes.

All good advice, then I read this. "It is so important to warm up prior to any fitness activity, this will help prepare your muscles for what is ahead instead of shocking them," she wrote.

My eyes flew open wide. But wait a minute, I thought: Wasn't my warm-up the day before exactly the thing that shocked my system!?

I had to figure out how to get through these warm-ups, because that first warm-up knocked me so flat, I know the actual session wasn't nearly as effective as it could have been for me. It was definitely a dark spot in my brain looking ahead to the next session.

Despite the pain I was experiencing, I knew it was going to get better and easier. I knew all I had to do was just get to, and over, that magical hump. I decided I would take control of the warm-up situation for myself -- I knew I could not do 100 jumping jacks at this stage in my program -- so I decided to lower the goal to meet my needs. Jaylin would probably not be happy, but I didn't want to have that menacing dark cloud begging me to stay inside and cause me not show up to bootcamp at all, so she'd have to be okay with the adjustment. I could easily do 25 jumping jacks, twice -- and that is what I did. I also did some pre-bootcamp stretching.

The beauty of Jaylin's bootcamp classes is that she changes everything up from day to day, so you are not only working different muscle groups, you are never bored. I am happy to say that I was much better prepared for Day Three, both mentally and physically, even though I did have some residual pain and soreness.

Ed, who was not present on Wednesday, showed up to act as Jaylin's assistant on Friday. During warm ups I overheard some of the gals grumbling, "It's too damn early for Ed, today." This made me concerned that Ed would surely make me "drop and do 20" if I did not keep up with the rest of the ladies, but he didn't. He was firm but very fair with each of us.

I also remembered my water, which helped me mentally. On Wednesday, when I realized I had forgotten my water, it was like realizing you are suddenly in very deep water without a life-jacket. It messed with my mind.

All in all, today's workout routine was tough, but I got through it with very few personal adaptations and I felt great afterwards.

So looking back on this week, it was full of ups and downs and major adjustments ... which is not all that different than my entire year has been.

There is much more of all that yet to come in both my personal life and with this 90-day transformation, but I look ahead to Monday with a new resolve -- to increase my exercise participation, do the best that I can and to accept what is my best, without judgment -- because each day will be better and 90 days is still a long ways off. I have plenty of time to kick myself into high gear and despite the early rollercoaster ride, every day I am moving forward, what's not to like?

I promise to give weekly updates and I hope that some of our San Diego women readers come out and join us, if even just for the free week Jaylin offers (it's true - check her website) or for a month. You will not be disappointed. I've never seen a bootcamp offering that included so much along with it. You just can't help but look and feel better.

So here's to the weekend ... with Monday hot on its tail!

To learn more about Jaylin Allen's Bootique Fitness program, visit her Bootique Fitness for Women website.

Morgan M. Hurley is the Assistant Editor for SDGLN. She can be reached at (877) 727-5446, x710 or via email at morgan@sdgln.com.