Combating a caloric catastrophe

Sarah Spain is following a seven-week fitness and fuel plan program designed for her by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI). She'll be tested and measured, pushed, poked, prodded, and put through the proverbial wringer. The goal? To get her back to feeling, thinking and looking like the former hoopster and heptathlete she is. Naturally, she'll be blogging every sweaty step of the way. Follow along, send her your comments or, better yet, jump in and go for it with her. You only think you're in shape ...

I think it's safe to say there's no worse time to start a workout program than the week before Christmas. Never mind the cookies and cakes beckoning from every room of a house that constantly smells of cinnamon and spice; the real enemy is time -- or a lack thereof. Knowing this, I tackled Week One of my Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) fitness and fuel plan program with trepidation. It was by no means a raging success, but at least I can only do better from here on out.

When my trainer Todd Durkin sent me my Week 1 program on Tuesday, I looked at my upcoming schedule and panicked. I was working my radio job at ESPN 1000 every morning and writing for espnW every afternoon through Friday, right up until my Christmas Eve flight out east. If I wanted to fit in at least two good workouts, I'd have to start with one on Wednesday morning, before most of the world rises. An admitted morning-hater, I've done just about everything to avoid being one of those wretched souls who drags themselves straight from bed to the treadmill every day.

The good news is, I made it to the gym and made a pleasant discovery: 6 a.m. workouts, done with a purpose, aren't half bad! I found that the key is not to just jump on a bike or a treadmill and plod through some cardio half-asleep, but instead to give yourself goals and pick exercises that require brain power as well as body power. Late Wednesday night I made my second big realization: It's tough to stay awake at midnight to write a recap of a West Coast NBA game when you've been up since 6 a.m. Midday or late afternoon naps are going to be essential to maintaining this schedule.

I managed to get to the gym Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago. Out at my sister's house in Hartford I took a two-mile walk with the family and got my heart rate going with a little Wii, too. Two circuit workouts and a couple hours of cardio for a whole week ain't gonna cut it, especially considering I didn't exactly eat light either. My sister's holiday logic, "Calories don't count on Christmas!" combined with my brother-in-law's tremendous talents in the kitchen, and I was a goner from the moment I stepped into their house. Four days of delicacies, from homemade buffalo sausage to lobster corn chowder, standing rib roast to breakfast frittatas, chicken skewers to South African bobotie, oh my belly could hardly remember the ab burn from the mid-week workouts, never mind display the results of it.

Life's too short to miss out on family fun and holiday feasts, so I won't dwell on my so-so effort in Week One. Now that I'm back in Chicago, the answer is to get crackin' on Week Two! With the holiday feasts and travel days over and done with, I've got five days left this week to get in at least three of Todd's circuit workouts. If you wanna follow along with the plan, the workouts are below. And if you've got any tips to keep my gym visits fresh and fun -- a great exercise playlist, a pre-exercise snack -- please share them in the comments!

Super Bowl Preparation Workouts --Week #1:

Warm-up -- 5-10 minutes on treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc.

Dynamic Warm-up
1. Jumping Jacks
2. Gate Swings
3. Pogo hops
4. Seal Jacks
5. Reverse lunge with reach overhead

Circuit #1: Repeat 2-3 times in shortest amount of time possible
1. Bodyweight Squats x 10-20
2. Pushups x 10-20
3. Core Touches x 10-20
4. Burpees with pushups x10

Circuit #2: Repeat 2-3 times
1. Walking Lunges with dumbbell shoulder flys x10-20
2. Dumbell Bicep Curls & Tricep Kickbacks x 10-15 each (perform curls; take 20 seconds rest & then do kickbacks)
3. Lat Pulldowns x10

Circuit #3: Repeat 2 x
1. Swiss Ball or Bosu Crunches x15-20
2. Planks x max time
3. Bench Dips x max

Grand Finale Conditioning:
3 sprints on treadmill at 30 seconds; 30-60 seconds between sprints

Stretching:
10-15 minutes

Complete this program 3 days per week. Add 30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times per week; cardio can be done on same day as training or on opposite days.

Super Bowl Preparation Workouts -- Week #2:

Warm-up -- 5-10 minutes on treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc.

Dynamic Warm-up: Same as Week 1

Circuit #1: Same as Week 1

Circuit #2: Same as Week 1

Circuit #3: Repeat 2 times; would recommend doing 1 set of curls & rows; then do 2 sets of TRX planks and atomic pushups. Come out of the foot cradles and back to your feet and do your 2nd set of Curls & Rows
1. TRX Curls & Rows x 10-15 each
2. TRX Planks x 15-30 seconds (from elbows & tows; feet are in foot cradles; TRX is suspended 6" off ground)
3. TRX Atomic Pushups x 15 (feet in foot cradles; pushups and knee tucks = 1 rep; if you need to rest after 5, 6 or whatever reps, do so; get to 15 reps and then you are at 1 set)

Or if you don't have a TRX, you can do Week 1 Circuit #3.

Grand Finale Conditioning:
5 prints on treadmill at 30 seconds; 30-60 seconds between sprints

Complete this program 3 days per week. Add 30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times per week; cardio can be done on same day as training or on opposite days.

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