Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: Drop Two Sizes

Breaking news, people: I've decided to abandon my Drop Two Sizes rotation with only two weeks to go. Why? Because I'm sick of it. Three months is a very, very, very long time for me to stick with one method/instructor (except for Physique 57 because I lurv it.) I'm just ready to move on.

Does this mean D2S was somehow bad or boring?
Resounding NO! D2S was actually quite interesting. It involves switching up workouts every four weeks. Each strength or metabolic cardio workout follows the same framework, but the exercises are different. That means you get new material to play with and that's always fun.

Drop Two Sizes was designed by Rachel Cosgrove and comes in both book and DVD formats. This is not Rachel on the cover. Apparently the powers-that-be at publisher Women's Health determined that Rachel was too buff for the cover, and they hired this cute-as-a-button-but-not-particularly-buff model for the book. This irks me, but I get that many (maybe most?) women are terribly afraid of the dreaded 'bulk' they fear they'll develop from weight lifting and Rachel's just trying to make a living. That's a rant for another time.

Anyway, if you're a gym person, you can just bring the book with you to your gym. I am not a gym person, but wished I had access to one for this program, because sometimes you need really heavy weights, heavier than I have here at home. If you're a DVD person, you don't really need the book, unless you want to follow the eating plan. I decided to get both. I got a deal, what can I say.

The DVD set comes with six discs, one strength (containing two workouts) and one metabolic cardio (also containing two workouts) for each of the plan's three phases. So there really is a lot of material.

The strength workouts always started with core work, which I really appreciated. My core isn't the strongest since I had Darling Son #2 via C-section, so I liked doing core first while I was fresh. Then Rachel has you doing sets of power and compound strength exercises, some of which really get your heart rate up. Part of the reason I haven't been keen on heavy lifting is I found isolation exercises (just working one muscle group at a time) to be soooo boring. Compound moves are way more fun and interesting. I'm a compound girl from now on.

Did you actually drop two sizes?
No. I'm not especially skinny, so I probably could healthfully drop a size, maybe even two, but I'm also not really needing to drop sizes. I'm kind of fine where I am, but I do think that my body composition changed. I'm definitely more muscular than I was. I didn't expect to 'drop two sizes,' but there are a few things in my closet that it would have been nice to have fit into a little better (like the purple corduroys I mentioned last week, but I'm over that.)

Honestly, I'm not really all that fussed about aesthetics (which is wonderfully freeing), so it doesn't bother me that I'm not smaller. I probably could have gotten a little smaller, but I rekindled my love affair with Samuel Adams (brewer, patriot) towards the end, and Sam really gets me into trouble. Really, I blame the Boston Red Sox (truly, I love them.) They got into the American League playoffs, then the World Series, and the Sox and Sam just go together.

Actually, the problem is that the World Series is a best-of-seven competition. If it were a one-and-done kind of thing, like the Superbowl, I'd be fine. So really, I blame Major League Baseball. Once I start hanging with Sam, he weakens my resolve and I end up snacking on all kinds of other treats... Sam and chocolate are besties. This is what I get for taking up with Sam again. I know, I should know better. Beer is a sometimes food... yes, I'm using the word 'food' rather loosely.

So, what did you think of the eating plan?
The diet is a little bit controversial because it is, as written, quite low calorie. Some reviewers online really got onto Rachel for that because in her last book (apparently... I haven't read her last book yet) she went on and on about how low calorie diets are of the devil and will not give you the results you are looking for (you know, because of needing sufficient calories to build muscle, maintain metabolism, avoid starve mode, etc.)

However, I appreciated that the diet was low calorie because I felt free to make additions, like creamy coffee in the mornings, which for me is a non-negotiable. I didn't go crazy, but quite frankly, I don't  think anyone should follow a diet exactly to the letter. Diets don't know you. You know you. Maybe you need more food than they allow. Maybe you need less. Eating exactly what someone else tells you is ridiculous. So I just see these types of diets as a framework around which to work.

Generally, I thought it was a good framework. Rachel has you eating five times a day. Each meal or snack is fairly small (which is key if you are going to eat frequently.) The meals are all made with real, non-processed food, except for the protein shake she recommends in the afternoons. The best part was pretty much everything was super easy to make. She actually has you eating Ezekiel toast with natural peanut butter for lunch occasionally. How easy is that? Easy, I say.

She doesn't ban any type of food from your diet, but obviously recommends limiting certain things, like sugar. She allows something like three splurges a week, which is great. You need to enjoy life, you know? However, I thought she was little ridiculously strict on what constitutes a 'splurge.' At one point, she says that the four M&Ms in your trail mix should count as a splurge. Please. If I'm only eating four M&Ms, I'm not only not counting it as a splurge, I'm jumping up and down with joy that I restrained myself enough to eat only four.

So I didn't exactly follow the menu. I started out well, but kind of petered out towards the end. I did try to follow the spirit of the diet--smaller meals more often (it's the 'smaller' part that can trip me up) and Rachel recommends you front-load your calories earlier in the day, which I think is key. I believe it is wise to eat a good dinner, then leave the kitchen, never to return again until morning. That works for me... it's just hard to leave the kitchen.... especially with Sam Adams and chocolate cavorting about in there.

What didn't you like about D2S?
The RAMP warm-ups. Ugh, these made me crazy. Each phase as a separate warm-up called a RAMP (range of motion, activation, movement preparation) They run about ten boring minutes and are, to me, just an odd collection of exercises that had no real flow to them. I did not usually feel sufficiently warmed up after doing them so I usually skipped the RAMPs and did my own warm-up. Lots of Rachel devotees on the D2S Facebook page seemed to think this was heresy, but I just couldn't take the RAMPs and I didn't feel like they worked for me, so I rebelled.

Rachel sometimes started the RAMPs with static stretches and I do not like to stretch cold muscles. Rachel lives in Southern California. Maybe that works in a nice warm place like SoCal, but I live in cold New England, so honestly, the RAMPs had to go. In general, I felt D2S was sorely lacking in stretching. Rachel is big on foam rolling, which is nice, and taking recovery days, but I felt very tight the whole time I did D2S. I needed to add in a lot of stretching on my own. This was a major con for me. I really  like the limber feeling I get from barre and I missed it.

What was the best part of D2S?
The strength gains I made! Wow, I'm stronger. A lot stronger. I can now leap tall buildings in a single bound. I can feel it in my other workouts and just generally in life. I'm a total convert back to heavy lifting. I'm definitely going to include heavy lifting in my regular rotations from now on. I think my shoulders and upper body in general look better, too.

In sum, I am very glad I did D2S. I would definitely recommend it to others. I just couldn't hack three full months. I went back to the barre starting November 1st and I'm sooo happy to be back. I also left Sam at the bar (not to be confused with the barre... heh heh.) Once the Red Sox won the World Series (yay!), it was time for us to take a break. I'm sure that will help with things, except getting through the witching hour.

If you're interested in D2S, you can buy the book on Amazon and the DVDs from They're cheap and chipper at $34.99!


  1. So would you recommend including some heavy lifting instead of just straight barre in rotations?

    1. I really enjoyed the strength gains I made doing this program, so I'm trying to incorporate heavy lifting into my rotations (the goal is upper body once a week) but lately I just haven't had the time in addition to my barre workouts, so I've just been doing barre. So many workouts, so little time...

    2. This really motivates me to try to add some regular lifting in my rotation. I really need upper body strength for my future fitness goals and my job. Thanks! I love your blog. It is very inspiring.

    3. So glad you're enjoying the blog! I'm having fun writing it. It's great to hear people find it helpful. As for weight training, you can't go wrong with strength!