Thursday, March 31, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 25 cont'd

Hahahaha. No. Just no.

I don't know why I have such an immense mental block about doing Core Synergistics. I think it's that it looks boring, I'm sick of Tony, and I never seem to have a free hour-plus to spend on it.

Tonight, I once again rejected the concept of core synergizing, and did another Crossfit-esque workout I made up. This was what I came up with:

5 rounds for time:
400 meter run
10 pushups
50 jump ropes
20 chair dips
20 kettlebell swings

I did the workout out on my patio and before I started mapped out 400 meters around my condo parking lot. I figured I would be done in about fifteen minutes. This was a vast overestimation of my fitness ability, because in 12:50, I had just gasped my way through two rounds and was shaking. As dinner was literally waiting to be eaten in the kitchen, and I was seriously questioning my ability to even walk inside, let alone do another round, I went ahead and stopped at 2 rounds and finished up with a little ab routine of 25 situps, 25 scissor legs, and 25 mason twists.

I think I'm going to do this workout every week as a way of keeping track of fitness gains. My goal is to get to five rounds, period, forget about time. Once I get to five rounds then I'll start trying to beat my time. I'm sure there are more well-rounded circuit workouts I could use (this one is pretty heavy on arms), but whatever.

So, no Core Synergistics, once again. Who wants to place bets on whether I'll actually do Core Synergistics at all during recovery week?

Phase 1 - Day 25

Whoooops. Forgot to update Ye Olde Blog.

This week is Recovery Week, which as I said in my previous post is basically lots of yoga and Core Synergistics. Sad fact: I have yet to actually do Core Synergistics. I took a rest day Monday because my entire lower half was screaming from the Legs and Back workout on Sunday (and honestly, I was due one anyway), then Tuesday started with Yoga X (not really, I did my own 90-minute sequence).

Yesterday I was supposed to do Core Synergistics, but I got mildly caught up at work, and then when I was all changed into my workout clothes and ready to start, I looked at the workout and JESUS it's more than an hour long and it looks like fully half of it is Tony blathering between sets. I'm not disputing the workout's effectiveness; I'm sure it's great. But I just did not have it in me to waste that much time with Tony.

So instead, I did a Crossfit-style workout that ended up being really fun, and still "recovery"-ish, i.e. no balls-out cardio circuits. It comprised:

3 rounds, 40:20 second work/rest intervals
Kettlebell swings
Wall handstands
Wide front pullups
Toes to bar
Knee to elbow planks (get in plank position holding yourself up on your elbows, then bring your knee to touch the opposite elbow, hop the leg back while doing the same with the other knee, back and forth)

I also finished up with five negative pullups, each five seconds long. As you can probably tell, I'm really trying to work on my shoulder and back strength. I WANT THOSE PULLUPS. And handstand pushups, for that matter, but before I start building those I need to be able to, you know, do a handstand.

It was a great workout, about 20 minutes in length including the warmup and the negatives at the end. The toes-to-bar are REALLY hard for me and require breaking through sort of a fear thing--it's simply WEIRD to tip my body back far enough that my toes come up to the bar, and the first few times I tried it I failed not because of lack of strength but because I got to the "WHOA NELLY" point and just dropped. This time, I was able to get in 7 the first round, 5 the second round, and 5 the third round, with my quads and forearms being the failure points. I finished up the 40 seconds of each round with hanging knee raises if I couldn't do any more toes-to-bar.

Let's talk about food. This week has been great, with the exception of last night. Last night my mom wanted Chipotle and I was taking River to the dog park anyway, so I said I'd stop by Chipotle on my way back. Once I was actually in line, though, I started trying to put together what I was going to eat, and I realized that Chipotle is sort of off limits for me at this point. Let's look at what I eat:

Tortilla: Hell no (easily fixed by getting a burrito bowl, but let's continue anyway)
Rice: Nope
Beans: No
Meat: Hell yes
Peppers and onions: Yes, except Chipotle's are cooked in veg oil so they'd be kind of a cheat
Salsa: Only the ones without corn
Cheese: No
Sour cream: Nope
Guacamole: Yes

So, all in all, I would have been paying 8 bucks (guac is extra) for a bowl of a small serving of meat, a few PUFA-rich peppers and onions, some salsa, and a dollop of guacamole. Didn't seem financially prudent. Chipotle has officially joined the ranks of once-in-a-blue-moon cheat meals for me, along with 5 Guys burgers and Subway.

Instead, I got my mom's burrito made and then went next door to the "Kabob Palace" (really, that choice was my first big mistake), where I ordered beef and lamb kabobs with salad, no rice. The food was good, but was cooked in something that gave me a terrible tummy reaction and I spent much of American Idol, to put it as delicately as possible, occupado en el bano. My fault, really. I should know by now not to venture out of my restaurant comfort zone. New rule: If I don't know for sure what ingredients and cooking oils they're using back in the kitchen, I'm not fricking eating it.

Today, to make up for the tummy upset, I fasted until about 1:00 and spent the morning working. Then I took River to the dog park at around 11, and afterward hit up Whole Foods, the international food store (for River's food), and a small natural health food store nearby (mostly just to check it out). Whole Foods... bless you. They have by far the most affordable/healthiest/most sustainable meat options out there. I'm also vastly appreciative of the ranking system they have for animal treatment of all their meats. I can root through the packaged stuff till I find a 4 or a 5 and get the rest of what I need directly from the butcher. So I picked up a package of chicken thighs (making baked curry chicken tonight), a couple of grassfed beef shanks, and some ground grassfed beef. I also got some organic coconut oil, a couple tins of sardines, and some coconut waters.

The natural foods store was pretty lame... terrible selection and most of it is cheaper at Whole Foods anyway. Their selection of protein powders was terrible and insanely overpriced. But they did have coconut butter, which is delicious and which I have to stop myself from devouring ala a pint of ice cream, as well as local organic eggs. And a pretty good pick of Yogi Teas (I love Yogi Teas and it seems like I can never find a store that has more than one or two kinds). I got a green tea meant for muscle recovery.

Then the REALLY great find was at the international food store, which I usually only go to for River's food (giant selection of organ meats, offal, and meaty bones), but as I was perusing the aisles I decided to see what kinds of cooking oils they sold. Sure enough, there was a good selection of coconut and palm oils (although I wouldn't buy them because the packages don't say whether they're hydrogenated or not and I don't trust it). And nestled in among the oils? BIG JARS OF PURE GHEE. For like four bucks. I was thrilled.

Got home, put everything away, and then made myself a lunch mashup of grassfed beef, bacon, sweet pepper slices, onions, eggs, and mini heirloom tomatoes, all cooked in ghee. I also had some of the muscle recovery tea with a spoonful of coconut oil mixed in, and a couple sinful spoonfuls of the coconut butter (that stuff is freaking amazing).

Today I have forsworn to actually do Core Synergistics. I will. I really will. Also there will be yoga.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Before/After Pics

I was just having a conversation over IM with Arwen about before/after pictures, and I have to say, I'm not sure if I'm ever going to post my Before pics that I took three weeks ago. I'm taking more pictures this Friday, which is Day 30, and I'm expecting a hugely noticeable difference in the way I look, but the Before pics are TERRIBLE. I mean, I look worse than I've ever looked in my whole life. It's horrifying to think of posting them. I'll have to ruminate on it some more before I can talk myself into it.

Also, Insanity, you're kind of lame! Beachbody has this thing where if you send in your before/after pics after doing Insanity, they send you this awesome shirt. Which Arwen wants, (hell, I want it too), and will totally deserve after doing 90 days of that tough-as-shit workout. But it turns out you have to send in all this stuff, like the receipt, proof of purchase, a picture of the contents of the box, your credit card statement... highly lame! Naturally, she didn't keep a lot of that stuff.

I think we should make our own shirts when this is all over.

Phase 1 - Day 20 and 21

This weekend was really busy, but I had time to wrap up week 3 of P90X and get in some fun time as well.

Saturday I was supposed to do either Legs and Back or Rest/X Stretch. The weather was super gorgeous, though, and I knew it was supposed to snow Sunday, so I decided to make Saturday the Rest/X Stretch day so that I could take advantage of the sunny but cold weather with a run.

I should state that to me, Rest/X Stretch just means I don't do P90X that day--I do yoga anyway and I'm not going to sit through an hour of stretching with Tony babbling away at me.

So yeah, I had a nice run. My muscles are generally so tired from P90X that my runs these days are more like painful, slow slogs, but it's still nice to get out there. I just absolutely LOVE the trails by where I live. They're nice asphalt paths, and they're in among the trees enough that you get pretty scenery, but close enough to the roads that it's not secluded and dangerous to run alone.

Now that I've nearly completed a month of P90X and my muscles should be pretty used to the extra effort, I'm going to build back up my weekly mileage and do the Saturday long run like I used to, so that I'm not off-track with my marathon training. It's funny, it seems SO far away, yet I know that if I lapse in training it's going to be a bitch to get it together later. So right now I have to just make the effort to maintain, until it's time to ramp it up in the summer.

Sunday dawned snowy and cold. The snow was melted by like 8am, though. But the frigid cold and wind remained. Fuck running in that nonsense. I'm just not one of those "neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night" die-hard runners, and I never will be. I like running because it's enjoyable. Add in freezing cold 20-mph gusts? Not. Enjoyable.

So instead I went over to Arwen (who is simultaneously doing Insanity over here--actually, she's about a month ahead of me) and Dan's house of funtimes, and we did our workouts together in the basement. Legs and Back is probably the slowest-paced of the P90X workouts--mostly because Tony fritters away, I don't know, A MILLION minutes jabbering about random shit between sets, to the point where I'm both in pain and all CHRIST GET ON WITH IT--and Insanity is, well, Insanity. So while I was across the room holding wall squats and deep speed skaters until I cried, mostly standing in one spot, Arwen was hopping around like a maniac to her Max Cardio Plyo Blow Your Brains Out Circuit or whatever, and it was an interesting and mildly hilarious juxtaposition, because we were moving at basically opposite speeds yet both making the "kill me now" faces and noises.

I felt really, really good about my pullups yesterday, though. I'm still lagging behind my numbers on that first week, but the chair is WAY out there and I'm using much more of my own strength to pull myself up. Somehow I did the wide-front pullups differently this week, because my forearms were a shaking mess afterward, and they've never hurt before. It felt like when I've gone to rock climbing gyms.

I also did Ab Ripper X. Go me! Twice this week! I feel good about that. I don't know why I treat Ab Ripper as a throwaway, but I just CAN NOT get into it. I should love it. It's short, painful, and effective. OKAY RESOLVED. I'm going to do it three times this week, no excuses.

After our workout fest the three of us went out to dinner at a place in Old Town that had pretty good food but pretty bad service. Not a terrible experience by any means, just sort of meh. Then we went to 7-eleven to get ice cream for Dan and went back to the casa and watched the tail end of this weekend's themed SVU marathon on USA. I could probably watch that show 24 hours a day and not get tired of it.

Today begins Recovery Week! Looking ahead, it's a lot of Yoga X and Core Synergistics, which I know from reading Fitbomb is actually a pretty difficult workout, and I'm looking forward to it. There's also Kenpo X and two X Stretch days thrown in. I'll be doing Crossfit and more yoga instead of those. Today is supposed to be Yoga X. Which means a 90-minute Moksha series for me. I don't care how hard the sequence is supposed to be, I don't think I can tolerate Tony leading me through a yoga class.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 19

Well, I've hit another stumble in my P90Xing. Today I was putting my 30/60/90-day milestones into my calendar, and I realized that the schedule is much tighter than I thought; now that I've set it back a week by repeating week 2, my last week lands right on the first week of my yoga training month. That's not gonna work. Besides being totally involved in a ten-hour yoga lecture and practice six days a week, I'll be in Canada in a rented room without any of my equipment. So basically I need to finish exactly one week earlier. Which means this repeated week? Is back to being Week 3.

Still, I feel lame that I sort of half-assed it last week, so to make up for it I'm going to do extra Crossfit WODs on the off days next week. Hopefully the extra bit of HIIT during the "recovery week" will compensate for the relatively weak Week 2.

Today was supposed to be Yoga X. Despite having mentioned that I'm curious about Tony Horton teaching yoga, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I did my own yoga series as usual this morning, and then in the afternoon I did a Crossfit workout: 21-15-9 reps of burpees, Abmat situps (I don't actually have an Abmat, but I make do with a folded pillow under my back), and kettlebell swings, for time. My kettlebell, btw, is 20 pounds.

It was a good, hard, short workout. Felt like getting back to form, in a way, after these looong P90X workouts. 21 burpees in a row? Difficult. But my overall time was 12:43, respectable, I think.

Tomorrow is Legs and Back. My calves are less sore than after last week's Plyo, but still, it's gonna hurt.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 11

Today's Shoulders and Arms was more difficult than the previous ones have been. Not sure why. And actually, it wasn't more difficult all around. On some of the exercises, notably the curls and upright rows, I banged out almost ten more reps on each than last week. That was exciting. But on any of the overhead presses, like Alternating Shoulder Presses and Deep Swimmer's Presses, the going was TOUGH. And on the latter I definitely got fewer reps than last week. It was hard.

Buuuuuut I still felt good about the workout. My arms are so pumped after this workout, it's like I was stung by a million bees only on my biceps and triceps. Also, I rocked the shoulder flys, which I usually suck at. I'm only using 5-pounders because my delts are WEAK, but I was at least able to pump out more than ten per set. I also like the modifications I do on the tricep kickbacks--namely, I flat out don't do them and instead sub in more sets of chair dips. This is because I don't own a heavy enough weight to make the kickbacks at all hard, and it feels like a wasted set when I do them. So I just do more chair dips, making it hard by putting my feet up and even raising one leg. I love chair dips. Triceps = whooo.

In other news... FUCK YOU WEATHER

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 10 (again)

Typing this as I stretch. Oh, Plyo. At last I might--MIGHT--be beginning to actually enjoy you. Mostly because I'm not crying in pain, and I'm now able to get through all the sets with Tony and Crew at their pace. I do need to pause and lengthen the water breaks by about 30 seconds, though. The pausing I do is not at all about being tired (though I am) and completely about SIMPLY NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE. It's like I just came off the peak of Everest, or something, I'm just gasping for air after each set.

Got through the full minute of Hot Foot, yay! That alone makes me proud. Hot Foot is brutal.

I also discovered that running to the kitchen for my coconut water halfway through the workout is a genius idea. After the first three sets I could feel my legs trembling and getting that feeling like they're made of cement, and I was honestly worried I wouldn't make it through the workout, and it struck me that an infusion of electrolytes was possibly in order. Awesome plan. I took small sips after every exercise and by the next set I was feeling good again. Coconut water is the best recovery drink one could ever want.

Today's Tony Soundbite: "I want your joints straight. Limbs like a BOARD. Be a BOARD. Don't get bored!" Then his creepy pedophilic uncle laugh, giggling at his own pun. Sigh.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 8

It's like we went back in time!

Chest and Back tonight was pretty good, although I'm reaching a funny sort of Mars-retrograde phenomenon where as I become more able to do the exercises with proper form, they become harder and I can therefore manage less reps before crashing to the floor. So I feel that I'm progressing, but my numbers are smaller. Still feels good to be doing all my pushups from my toes instead of my knees. Except the Diamond Pushups. I do not understand how anyone can do those from their toes. They are impossible. I pushed the chair I use for my assisted pullups out about a foot, too, and my reps went down but I was certainly working much harder to pull myself up.

Ran out of time for Ab Ripper, again. Sigh. Ab Ripper is just going to have to be one of those things I squeeze in a couple times a week in spare 15-minute windows, because I just do not have the time in the evenings to do all the things I need to do.

Today's food was good. Carby, but good. Leftover tuna for 1st lunch, quinoa dish for 2nd lunch, post-workout shake, then for dinner this "salad" I make of roasted sweet potatoes chunks, roasted mushrooms, and ground beef spiced with cumin and cinnamon. I like when I'm full halfway through a meal and put the rest away for lunch tomorrow. It feels good to leave food on the plate.

My calves are still SCREAMING from Plyo last Friday, so tonight I pulled out my Arnica massage oil and dug my thumbs in to the muscles deep for like ten solid minutes. Fuck, it hurt. Hopefully my soreness will be magically disappeared tomorrow for--oh joy--MORE PLYO.

Phase 1 - Day 14

Um yeah. So I think I'm going to just repeat a week.

This week and weekend TOTALLY got away from me, due to crises at work. I ended up faced with either doing two workouts plus ab ripper all last night, or just calling it a half-week and starting anew this week. The latter option won out after I did Shoulders and Arms and also Ab Ripper last night and it was already 9:00 and I couldn't face also doing Legs and Back. Too much.

It wasn't totally a lost weekend, though, as I got two good runs and a long, hard hike in Great Falls in. I was trying to soak up as much of the good weather as possible. So, lots of activity, just not a lot of P90X-ing.

Because I'm uncomfortable calling myself done with a week if I skipped a workout, and I don't want to half-ass my way through this, I've decided I'm going to call the past two weeks one big intro week, and start today with Day 1 of Week 2, Chest and Back. I'm also planning to do all the workouts this week--including Yoga X (because honestly, I'm curious) and the apparently lame Kenpo X--because it's supposed to rain basically all week and I will probably not be doing much running. But I might sub in a Crossfit or Bodyrock routine for Kenpo X because I've heard it's just not hard and not very good.

However, this brings up another subject: Crossfit. My ADD self is currently entranced by Crossfit and it's taking all the willpower I've got not to just toss aside P90X and run down to Crossfit Reston. I really want to see P90X through, though, so I'm not going to start CF until probably after I return from the yoga training this summer. Plus, I think I need to be in better shape to get the most out of CF, and P90X is definitely a "get into shape" program.

So, I'm sticking with P90X, just technically set back a week. (See, this is a great example of why P90X was just not sustainable last year--one little thing in my life slips out of schedule and it's impossible to keep up with the workouts because they are SO. LONG. Squeezing in a Bodyrock workout is more possible because it's just 20 minutes. There is no "squeezing in" an hour and a half of P90X.)

Another thing that should help is that I'm pretty sure I'm going to start working from home soon, removing the travel time and getting-ready time in the mornings and allowing me WAY more time for working out and tending to River. Usually if it's a choice between not taking River to the dog park, or not having time to work out, I'll always choose River over P90X because it's just cruel to keep a border collie confined all day.

Hm, what to say about Shoulders and Arms, again? I love it. It's almost like a rest day, it seems easier (although my arms are PUMPED afterward), and my reps have increased already just from last week. Dreya seems to roll her eyes a lot more at Tony in this one.

Let me share the amazing dinner I made Saturday night, with a nod to Nom Nom Paleo: I made a curried tuna salad using avocado mayo instead of dairy mayo, put it on lettuce leaves for open-faced "sandwiches", and made bacon-wrapped asparagus on the side. The curried tuna was good but not as good as others I've had in the past. It's like I'm missing a flavor. Need to practice more on that one. But the bacon-wrapped asparagus came out so incredible, I couldn't believe it. It was so easy and SO DELICIOUS. I'll be making that one again and again.

I also stole Arwen's quinoa recipe and made balsamic quinoa with sausage, zucchini, and onion. I have that with some broccoli for lunch today. Yum.

Yesterday my friend Nate and I went to one of those South American grill-style restaurants where you fill your plate with salad and then guys come by with huge pieces of meat on skewers, and slice you off a piece as many times as you want. I'm obsessed with this place and will be back many times, I'm sure. I love place where the food is just simple grilled meat and vegetables, and you can eat as much as you want.

Okay, wrapping this up now. I'll update again tonight after Day 8: Chest and Back.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 12

Hokay SO. Plyometrics. Somehow every time I do this workout (this is... maybe the sixth time I've done it?), I convince myself that it's not going to be so bad. Then, inevitably, during the second set of the first 4-exercise block is where I start to hit pause after each exercise so that I can just stand, hunched over, gulping air, tears squeezing out of my eyes over the pain in my legs. I can't figure out why this workout is so fucking brutal, but it is. Dear Lords of Kobol, it is.

For me, the hardest exercises are:

Swing Kicks: I have no clue why this is so hard for me, but the combination of quad/hip flexor brutality, plus the balance required, really kills me. I'm not so much breathing hard during this one as just trying to stay on my feet. If it were just kicking the legs over the chair out from the body one after another, that would be easier; but you kick each leg in the same direction. So it's right leg kicking out and over, then left leg following kicking in and over, and somehow the movement towards the body is so much more difficult to me, both strength- and balance-wise. On the other hand, I think this move is going to actually help my yoga balance and strength. So there's that silver lining.

Twist Combos: It's not the Ski Hops portion of this that gets me, it's the part where we spin 180. I get SO DIZZY. I probably do only about half as many as Tony & Crew because I'm trying not to fall over the whole time. They're not especially hard, either, just dizzying.

Rock Star Hops: Motherfucker, this one hurts. You think you've been a badass with your Jump Knee Tucks earlier in the game, but then these, where you jump up, heels touching butt while twisting 45 degrees to the side, are just brutal. Plus you have to swing your arm like you're playing a guitar. It's hard, then harder, and then Tony screams "DOUBLETIME!" and does it twice as fast, and you want to die. This is one of those exercises where I pause the video after and lay spread-eagled on the bed so my chest is as open as possible while I try to catch my breath. If I had/wore a heart rate monitor, as Tony recommends during this workout, I'm sure it would be screaming at me to chill out halfway through the Rock Star Hops.

Military Marches: This is another one where the form is more difficult for me than the actual movement. It requires a lot of balance and flexibility that I don't have. Also, it's tough on the quads, which by this point in the routine are usually shaking.

Hot Foot Jumps: Hop on one foot for 30 seconds, then the other foot for another 30 seconds. Sounds easy, right? Eat a dick. It's the most painful exercise in the whole workout. Today I pleased myself by actually finishing the whole thing with no breaks, so a full 30 seconds on each foot, but I was screaming "ow ow OW MOTHERFUCKER" by the end.

Now, to inject a little positivity, here are the exercises in Plyometrics that I enjoy, because some of them are actually really fun. I think it's because Plyo brings out the kid in me that just wants to play and hop around.

Airborne Heismans: You leap to the side and bring the opposite leg into your chest, making the Heisman Trophy pose. This one is fun and promotes balance and abs because Tony makes us hold the pose for a couple seconds instead of just hopping into the next one.

Circle Run: Put your towel on the floor (I use a brightly colored knit hat I always have laying around) and run around it as fast as you can go, first clockwise, then counterclockwise. This is fun because it's a challenge to see how fast your feet can go without tripping, and also because you feel like a boxer training footwork for a match.

Jump Knee Tucks: High jumps where you slap your knees as they near your chest. This is a Bodyrock favorite, so I'm used to the form and can do them really well, and also I feel pretty badass doing these.

Mary Katherine Lunges: Really hard, but really fun, because how many of us in middle/high school would spontaneously break into the Molly Shannon "SUPERSTAAH" lunge? Brings back memories. Really hard, though. My legs scream after this one.

Gap Jumps: Leap over a pretend ravine/river/earthquake crack in your floor. I like exercises that seem like they'll have practical use in the world.

Monster Truck Tire Jumps: Any exercise where I can visualize a real-world scenario instead of just focusing on how tired and in pain I am, gets the "fun" stamp. This one has you pretending there are four diagonally-spaced monster truck tires that you're jumping one-legged through, up to the top of the field and then backwards. I envision being in military boot camp during this one. Fun.

Pitch & Catch: This one is during the Bonus Round, which I always do because it's not hard and serves as a nice cooldown. What could be more fun than pretending to pitch and catch a baseball? Besides, you know, sitting on the couch and eating ice cream? Obviously that's more fun. But this exercise is probably the most fun you can have doing Plyo.

Btw, the exercises listed above are maybe... half? Two thirds? of the actual exercises. It's a solid hour of pain. Good gravy it's hard. But Tony is at least pretty toned-down in this one and actually keeps repeating what ends up being the most useful thing to keep in my head while I'm near tears from pain: "You can do anything for thirty seconds!" Fuck yeah, it's only thirty seconds, and I certainly can do anything for just 30 seconds.

Yesterday was when I was planning to do Plyo, but fuck, it was St. Paddy's Day and I had to go have a beer with my dad at a Herndon pub that was playing live Irish music. When I got home, I knew I'd have no time/stamina for Plyo, so instead I took River for a 2-mile hill run in my Vibrams. BIG hills. It was hard. I felt good about it. But this means that I have to do P90X for the next three days straight, including today, in order not to get behind. Whimper.

One nice thing about Plyo is that I can practically feel myself losing weight while doing it. It's that hard. And I sweat that much.


Eat a bag of dicks, Plyo. I HATE YOU

This brought to you a mere five minutes after finishing. Full update to come later, after I've reattached my limbs and ironed out my lungs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who's Gonna Hear You Cry

The austere gray-on-white was not really expressing my workout zen, I felt, so I threw up a background, as you can see. FUCK YEAH FIBER OPTIC THINGIES. Thank you Blogger for your large but sort of weird selection of backgrounds.

I would like to share what is currently my favorite theme song on television, which gets stuck in my head on Monday night and basically stays there till around Thursday. It's from The Chicago Code (a show EVERYONE SHOULD BE WATCHING because it's frickin GREAT), it's sung by Billy Corgan, and when it comes on after the show opener I always get up and dance. River usually jumps alongside me. It's a fun time.

Seriously, unless you just hate cop shows, watch this show. It's so, so, so good.

Phase 1 - Day 10

This past weekend saw kind of a crappy stumble into non-working-out. After Legs & Back Saturday, I did my walk with River as usual Sunday, then promptly had no time to take the run I was planning due to a work project nearing its deadline. Sunday night, a key website I needed to complete the project crashed at absolutely the WORST time, so I stayed up super late to wait for it to come up. It didn't. I went to sleep at 3am, woke up at 7 to walk River, then rushed to work early to try and get the stuff done. Everything worked out okay, but I was an absolute zombie all day Monday and felt like deep-fried shit.

I felt so incredibly knocked on my ass from something as simple as too little sleep that it shocked me. I've been REALLY good about getting enough sleep over the past couple months: paring down my coffee intake, ingesting caffeine no later than 11am, even cutting most of the TV I enjoy out of my life in order to get a full hour of no electronic light before I attempt to sleep (this simple act improves my sleep better than anything else I've ever done, even yoga. I now make a point to read an hour before actually shutting off the light for sleep). And I've been in bed by 10 on the dot without fail. The benefits have been enormous (better workouts, bouncing out of bed at 6:30 to walk River and work out, less hunger swings and food cravings, clearer thinking, vastly higher productivity in all areas of life). And I really don't miss the TV--for as much as I truly love TV, it's amazing how easily it slips out of my life when I don't have time for it.

But man. It's now clear to me how INCREDIBLE the difference is between sleeping enough and not. On 4 hours of sleep Monday, I was walking into walls, slurring my speech, experiencing noticeable and consistent word aphasia, I had no appetite, I felt nauseous when I did try to eat, I had zero energy, I had a headache, my nose felt stuffed and swelled like I had a sinus infection, and I could go on and on. It was hellish. I'm (gods willing) never doing that again, I don't care what deadline is approaching.

Monday I was supposed to do Chest and Back, but couldn't even get up the energy to take River for her nighttime walk, let alone do any working out. I got home from work, tossed the ball for River to try to wear her out a bit, half-heartedly tried to eat a small bowl of my Paleo chili, gave up about five bites in, and just straight gave up on life and went to bed at around 8:30.

Then, yesterday, it was like recovering from a hangover. I still felt crappy, still had a headache, still had no appetite. I was, however, well-rested; I slept for ten hours straight Monday night, so my energy levels were more normal, but I just felt wrung out and decided to take yet another rest day. I barely ate Monday and Tuesday and what I did eat was ridiculously low-carb (not by design at all--actually when I realized last night that I'd ingested maybe 15 grams of carbs over the past 48 hours, I quickly cooked and shoved a sweet potato down my throat), so I didn't really feel like a workout would have been effective. It would have been a junk workout. So I ate a full dinner, peaced out around 9 to read in bed and snuggle with River, was asleep by 10.

This morning! YAY! Back to normal! Woke up at 6 and snoozed only till about 6:20 thanks to the hilarious series of alarms I set myself on my iphone:

6:15 You won't have time later, do it NOW!
6:20 Seriously get the fuck up.

These are highly motivating. I'm the kind of person who is really REALLY motivated by yelling and insults (not, like, mean insults, but insults that are meant to highlight why I need to do something). I always felt I would do really well if I ever found myself in army boot camp. "You are a lazy piece of scum! Look at all these people running faster than you! Move your fat, lazy ass!" YES SIR OMG. Anyway.

I did something a bit new this morning: made some coffee and took it in a travel mug for my walk with River. Awesome idea. I was really charged up for P90X.

Chest and Back--same as last week, but my reps were greater and my stamina noticeably higher. Yay. I like when I can tell I'm progressing fitness-wise. Tony was... sigh. Chest and Back might be Tony at his most obnoxious, and it's the very. First. Workout. Bad choice, Beachbody. Tony really does get better as the workouts go along. But in this one, his constant "All right, boys and girls!" "You boys and girls ready?" "Lemme go check on the kids back here" is just AWFUL. It's just so DOUCHEY. He really hits a douche peak when on Decline Pushups, when the clock is about to start, he tells the cameraman, "Get close on in here... I'm about to show you perfection, my brother." Barf.

One nice thing that I feel the need to call out, because I feel bad bagging on Tony all the time--he's truly a great trainer and seems like a really genuinely nice guy--is that his treatment of the women in his videos is refreshingly un-sexist and un-misogynistic. Yeah, he is creepy toward Dreya, but they're friends and his creepering comes off more as admiring than objectifying. And in the Chest and Back video, he's constantly complimenting Maren on her form and general badassery (girl can WORK IT [cough cough literally, she's a German porn star]), and at one point before the second set of Decline Pushups, he says to the two guys, "You guys chill out on your reps here. But Maren, I want you to do these with one leg up. Maren's tough, everyone. Tougher than the average bear." And he's always similarly complimentary toward Dreya's efforts. I find it so completely awesome that Tony clearly regards the women in these videos as equals to the men and to himself, and doesn't try to "easy things down" for the female audience.

Tony Horton: socially awkward douche-esque meathead, but forward-thinking 21st century nice guy, and training genius. That pretty much sums it up.

Tonight I REALLY hope I have time for a run. I think I'll run in my Vibrams. Haven't had a nice barefootish run in a while.

Tomorrow: Plyo. OH GOD OH GOD. Whimper.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 5

Oooooooh damn. I am going to be sore tomorrow. Today was Legs & Back, and it's pretty brutal. Squat after lunge after jump after calf raise, again and again and again. And then in between all the leg torture, we get to do enough pullups sets that apparently we did 150 pullups total. I didn't, I'm sure. But I did do about 15 assisted per set, and there were 8 sets, so... 120? Go me. My shoulders are currently in some pre-pain. I can feel it coming on.

I have to say, though, I really enjoyed this workout, mostly because I can feel so intensely the muscles in my legs and butt getting stronger. All that torture is going to be worth it for the butt of my dreams. Tony's also pretty subdued on this one, although he does creepily scream at Dreya at one point, "Whoa, the shirt comes off!" when she gets sweaty and removes her t-shirt. Ew. Otherwise, though, he's not quite as manic as usual. I kind of feel like I give him a bad rap because he truly comes across as just really friendly and generous, and he's so enthusiastic with the others and with the audience. It's just tempered by this tinge of creepy, narcissistic social awkwardness that's... Michael Scott-like, is the only way I can think to describe it. Not anything to hang him over, but I see why they provide the "mute" option on the DVDs.

Yesterday River and I were able to get a run in, thank goodness, but it was a pretty bad one because it was obnoxiously windy and River was so happy to be out of the house after all the rain that she lunged after every squirrel/leaf/runner/etc. and I got yanked all over the path. Ergh. Still, got in about 3 miles, albeit slow ones.

Tomorrow will be a long run, yoga, and resting. Then I start week 2. Confuse my muscles, Tony!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 3

Shoulders & Arms! I love this one because it's almost like a rest day. It's still hard, but it involves really isolated movements, so you're not in the full-body, shaking, sweating exertion that is required by... just about every other workout. Ab Ripper X, however, was just as brutal as I remember. It's not so much abs pain as quad and hip flexor pain, because the WHOLE THING has your legs raised and there's some form of drawing them into your chest. Then there is indeed some ab pain. It's so hard.

I'm doing P90X with resistance bands rather than weights, and for most exercises it doesn't really feel different--I find that it's actually harder for some things, like shoulder presses--but on some exercises contorting the band to get the proper tension and position is just too weird and difficult. I end up not really doing the exercise because I'm trying to figure out how I'm supposed to be doing it. And then I have to rewind and do it again, once I've figured it out, and the last thing I want is to have extra Tony Horton time. I straight up changed one of the exercises because just absolutely could not figure out how to make it work with the band. They always have one dude demonstrating, but the camera doesn't show him enough or give us enough time to get the band situated before starting.

Speaking of Tony. Wow. Some great soundbites tonight. First, we have him relentlessly hitting on Dreya. This isn't the workout with the "skin like a baby" comment that I remember, but he's still creepy. Then at one point he starts screaming "BRING IT! BRING IT! X ME! X ME!" in what I'm sure he thinks is a motivational way, but it's just freaky and cracked out. Shudder. He looked pretty good in this workout, though. His hair was in a flattering style and I liked his sleeveless grey shirt. And it's not like I blame him for hitting on Dreya Weber. She's really super pretty and fit, and also blonde. I do blame him for being creepy, though.

Today was a pretty good food day, although it was another day where I just wasn't hungry and probably didn't eat enough calories. Black coffee, water, and some tea before 11:30; I had some of the crustless quiche for my morning snack, then I had some mini heirloom tomatoes and carrot sticks, and only got halfway through that before I was full. Then I wasn't hungry again until about 3-ish, and I wasn't so much hungry as just really aware that I needed to eat so it could settle before my workout. So I had some of the chili I made, which was really freaking good. I was too full to eat my stuffed pepper that I brought; it'll be tomorrow's lunch. At home I had nothing until my post-workout shake.

Which, by the way, consists of:

1/2 cup Trader Joe's light coconut milk (let me just say that I have no qualms about the fat in regular coconut milk, in fact I welcome it, but the TJ's milk is the cheapest available and has no funky chemicals or preservatives in it)
1/2 cup water
1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1 egg

It perfectly fits in my Magic Bullet shake cup and it's delicious. I only ever have it post-workout for recovery. Well, and this one time when I was really craving dessert of some kind, so I made a shake of coconut milk, whey powder, sweet potato, and cinnamon. Tasted like pie, totally killed my craving, and I think it was all of 15 or so grams of carbs. GOOD CHOICES.

As far as shakes go, I really recommend getting a Magic Bullet. Not only are they easy to use and relatively cheap (mine was 30 bucks), but they inherently restrict the portion so you don't find yourself gorging on a whole blender pitcher of shake.

Today was pouring rain for the ENTIRE day. Except, somehow, the hour in which I took River to the dog park. I was totally prepared to get soaked, but somehow the rain let up just enough for a little while so that I could let her get her energy out at the park. She chased that ball for a solid hour until she was panting and exhausted and the rain started coming down again. Now it's pouring again, so no nighttime walk. Needless to say, there was no running today. Siiiiiiigh.

Rest Day

Okay so yeah. Yesterday I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a bus, slogged through my morning walk with River (we walk about two miles every morning), stumbled through my shower, was so foggy-brained I forgot my phone, then my wallet, and had to drive back to my house twice. Seriously. Then I got to work and could barely think or keep my eyes open all day, even with a LOT of black coffee running through my system. My body was clearly trying to tell me something.

So I decided about halfway through the day that it would be a rest day. Yeah, it's not very P90X of me, but I've already shown myself that I can actually do six P90X workouts in a row, from when I did it last year, so my ego wasn't really at stake or anything. And I honestly think rest days are super important, especially when my body is so clearly screaming at me that it needs a day off.

I decided instead to devote my evening to preparing food for the week. I went to Trader Joe's to shop, then got home and made stuffed red bell peppers for dinner (stuffing = ground beef, crab, and kale). I also made a crustless quiche with the leftover pepper stuffing and threw the ingredients for this paleo chili into the crockpot to simmer overnight. Should do me for lunches for a few days.

Since I hadn't worked out beyond a 30-minute easy walk, and I wasn't planning any more activity beyond a nighttime 30-minute walk, I kept my food very low-carb and minimal yesterday. I also wasn't very hungry all day. As usual, I had nothing but black coffee and water with lemon until about 11:30, then I had my sardines/avocado "salsa". I wasn't hungry again until I got home at about five, when I had a small salad of baby spinach, olive oil, herbs, a can of salmon, and mustard on top. Then for dinner a couple hours later I made me and my mom two stuffed peppers each, but I only ate one because I just wasn't very hungry. We also had roasted brussels sprouts--basically my favorite vegetable ever--on the side. Those are like candy to me.

Here is a FitDay chart for my day:

I'm very happy with the fat and protein ratios there. Very good. However, the total calories were only 1,154, which is not nearly enough, way way way too low. I just wasn't hungry yesterday and was so exhausted. I think maybe I've been battling the cold that's been going around and yesterday was the climactic battle, or something. I was in bed by 10 on the dot and fell immediately asleep. And it was hard to stay awake that late! I only did because my mom and one of my friends LOVE American Idol so I'm watching it this season, and I text with my friend the whole time we're watching.

This morning it was pouring rain, which always makes my body want to sleep in, but luckily I felt much better than yesterday and got up right on time to take River for our walk. We got soaked. It was still a pretty lovely walk.

Tonight will be Shoulders & Arms, what I remember being my favorite of the P90X workouts, and the dreaded Ab Ripper. Christ it hurts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 2

Aaaaand we stumble right out of the gate.

Monday night saw me scrambling to get work done, stop at the store for puppy and person dinners, and arrive home with barely enough time to eat before bedtime. Certainly no time for the planned 3-miler, and the weather wasn't cooperating anyway. So, I skipped it, and by the time I had made dinner it was too late for Ab Ripper *and* eating. So I skipped Ab Ripper too. I apologize to the P90X gods. Clearly, there are some issues with the whole "split workouts" concept, namely that if things go crazy at work, the rest of the evening gets thrown into flux to such a degree that my exercising gets boned.

Yesterday I got up early enough to take River to the dog park before work for her exercise, then after work I did Plyometrics. GAAAAAAAAH I hate that workout. It's SO HARD. And SO LONG. Oh man. Just hate it. But I finished it, limped into the kitchen and had a recovery shake, then took River for a 30-minute walk in the fresh night air before bed.

Tonight will be (hopefully, time and weather permitting) a run with River, Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X, a bedtime walk with River, and plenty of sleep. However, the weather report says it's gonna start raining pretty much right when I get out of work, so the run might have to be canceled. Gah. The weather is really messing with me lately.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Phase 1 - Day 1

Oh P90X, you sassy bitch, I've missed you.

Chest and Back. One of my more preferred workouts, because it's fun, but also really difficult. There's like five different kinds of pushups and the workout seems to go on forever. It's painful. But you also feel a little badass, doing pushups and pullups till your arms won't raise above your chest (blowdrying my hair after my shower was a feat).

Nothing really to report here. Chest and Back is as I remember, Tony is just as douchey as usual--the two douche moments that really stick with me from this workout are when he says to another guy, "Those are nice shoes. Almost as cool as mine." and when he asks what weights the others are using and then manically runs back to the rack to grab heavier ones, screaming, "Ain't you ain't liftin' more weight than me!" (Seriously, he says that exact sentence.) Oh, and when he makes fun of Maureen's accent. "GEH-MAHN POH-TAY-TOH SOOOOP!" Shut up shut up shut uuuuuuup. Oh, Tony. Please change your entire personality and speech patterns.

I do appreciate his enthusiasm, though. And he's a beast. The man can just knock out decline pushups--on raised bars--for EVER.

Whenever Ab Ripper is called for, I'll be doing it in the evening after my run, because I just can't bring myself to do 1.5 hours in the morning. So I'm splitting it up.

Tonight: easy 3-miler with River (the puppy), Ab Ripper X.

Back to the drawing board

What a year. I'm back to this blog after basically a full year away. I definitely didn't stop working out--in fact I feel the past year has really solidified my workout strategies more than any other time in my life. Now I know what works, what I like, and what I can sustain.

So what happened to this blog? Well, quite simply, the first time around, P90X was not sustainable. The biggest reason for this was that I didn't have any equipment in the tiny basement room I was renting, and had just moved to Canada from the US with nothing but a single suitcase and my cats, so I was relying on the gym for weights, pull-up bars, etc. The other reason was time: all told, because I didn't have a car and was relying on the bus, it was taking me a solid three hours to get to the gym, do the entire P90X workout for the day, shower/change for work, and then go to work. Just not sustainable.

I basically kept doing modified versions of the P90X workouts every other day or so, or whenever I could make it to the gym. But then during the summer, I got really motivated to work out due to an upcoming high school reunion of sorts (I haven't even hit my ten-year reunion yet, but all the choir kids were getting together for a mini-reunion). On the same week as the reunion, I was going to go to the Outer Banks with my family. I decided I wanted to impress in a swimsuit and also impress my former classmates, so I started looking around for a more sustainable, convenient home workout option.

Enter Bodyrock! If you've never been to, check it out. Zuzana and Freddy, a husband-and-wife team who are both ridiculously fit, come up with daily HIIT workouts that they film and clearly explain. The best part is, most of the workouts use only bodyweights--I think the only other equipment ever used is a kettlebell, a jump rope, a pull-up bar, a dip bar (which I don't have, I just use a chair/bench/table/whatever's nearby), and a Gymboss interval timer. I managed to assemble all of these items for less than 100 bucks. The other great thing about Bodyrock is that the workouts are 20 minutes tops, and usually end up between 12 and 15 minutes. And they're incredibly effective. No overtraining and exhaustion, no three-hour gym trip, no expensive equipment.

So last summer around May I started doing a Bodyrock workout in my backyard every day. I added some of my own ideas to the workouts, too, being that I could take advantage of being outdoors in a backyard that was woody, with variable terrain. I basically did interval workouts, about 1 minute on/30 seconds off, with exercises ranging from kettlebell swings to pushups to hill sprints to plyometric jumps, and more. I lost a little weight and really toned up, and ended up looking great in my swimsuit later that summer.

Then winter came, and without the space in my room to really work out effectively (seriously, NO SPACE at all), I turned back to the gym and my workouts sort of petered off into the typical 3x per week, strength + treadmill routine. It was boring. I did get a puppy, and when she was old enough I started taking her for runs and it got me back into running, which I love. But all in all, I was really glad to move back to the States in December, where I now have a big bedroom with plenty of space for workouts, and where it's not so cold when I want to run.

The past couple months, though, I've really been slacking. I've been averaging maybe 2 Bodyrock workouts a week, 2 runs a week, and general laziness otherwise. I've also been lazy about my food. This, combined with winter weather that has me moving around a lot less, has led to some noticeable weight gain and a loss of muscle tone. I'm not too happy with myself (I think I probably look the worst I've ever looked), but thankfully, I know how to fix it. I just need a jump start.

So, I'm doing P90X again. The time commitment is much less severe this time around, being that I have the equipment (pull up bar, resistance bands) and space to be able to to it at home. It's just about an hour a morning. I won't be doing the Yoga X day since I do yoga anyway (more on that in a minute), and I'll do the Kenpo X if the mood strikes me, but otherwise will probably leave that out too. I'm doing this--leaving out days--because of a couple other fitness things I have to squeeze in:

1. I'm signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon in October and need to train for that.
2. I'm doing a five-week intensive yoga teacher training in Victoria, BC this summer, and have to get serious about my yoga. No more "oh I'll do yoga if/when the mood strikes a few times a week". I have to do five yoga practices a week, period.

Another motivator for me right now is the fact that I'm going to be dressed skimpily in a hot yoga room about six hours a day for the entire month of June, and I want to look good. Right now I'm not happy with the way my flabby, untoned self looks in my yoga clothes.

I've set up my workout schedule so that it's sustainable and so that I incorporate five runs and five yoga practices per week. I don't think this will be too much because my runs are mostly low-mileage for the time being, with the longest one I might do being 10 miles. Once I get back from yoga training, I'll ramp up the mileage in preparation for the marathon. I'm also hoping that P90X will get me to a place where I can maintain my fitness with Bodyrock, yoga, and marathon training. I just need to shock my body right now and I saw great gains with P90X last time.

I'm also going to be really diligent about my diet. Primal all the way! I've been great with staying away from wheat and grains lately, because they so obviously affect me poorly, but I decided I also need to fully cut out the dairy, and to spark a weight-loss mode, cut the fruit for a few weeks. I'm basically doing Whole30, but I am eating a whey protein shake post-morning workout (it's my breakfast), and I find it unnecessary to give up the small amount of caffeine I enjoy in the morning. But otherwise, no dairy, processed sugar, continuing with no grains or white starches, and no fruit for a month to see if it has an effect. (I'm not counting avocados or sweet potatoes as fruit, both of which I view as essential parts of my diet, especially with all the running).

The end! Back to ripping! Honestly, the hardest part of it might be waking up with the douche extraordinaire (though a truly great trainer and a very fit individual) that is Tony Horton. He makes me stabby.