My P90X Journey – Day 43: I Didn’t Even Tick it With My Back Leg

July 7, 2010

I don’t know if it was the three days off. I don’t know if it was the act of putting pen to paper, as it were. Maybe it was a little of both, or maybe it was neither.

Whatever the cause, I’m over the hurdle. I kicked the gym’s ass today (I won’t say that I kicked P90X’s ass, because I don’t need that kind of karma). Chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs – I rocked them all. Topped my personal best on pretty much every exercise in the routine. Doubled my best on a couple of them. 10 complete wide-leg situps, over a personal best of 4 and not being able to do any more often than not. 10 mason twists, when I’d never been able to do a single one properly before.

To be fair, the last of those did almost bring about my 2nd P90X vomiting episode. Only almost, thankfully…

This was a good day.

My P90X Journey – Day 42: Ennui… or Plateau?

July 5, 2010

Day 42? Yes, it’s been about a week-and-a-half since I last posted an update. I just haven’t had either the energy or the focus to put pen to paper… er, fingers to keyboard. Hence, the post title.

P90X is hard. I know, this isn’t news at this point, but it’s really hard. After a long day at work, it’s really easy to come home and want to slack off. When events are happening that capture your attention, it’s really easy to focus on them and put off your workout for another time. Except this is an every day commitment, so there really isn’t another time.

As a result, things have been choppy lately. Two weekends ago was the city exploding into conflict and violence and, I have to admit, it grabbed me with both hands and wouldn’t let go. We were glued to the television coverage. Day 33 became ‘let’s make today the rest day, and then do today’s workout tomorrow and tomorrow’s workout on Monday, when we’re supposed to have the rest day’. Which is all well and good, except that it’s become apparent to me that there’s a reason why the schedule is set up the way it is. Body parts are worked in a particular order. The routine has peaks and valleys, a rhythm with which you just shouldn’t mess.

Why not? Because P90X is hard, and it gets even harder when you start shuffling the schedule. When you do kenpo, and then you follow it right up again with chest/shoulders/triceps/abs, and then plyometrics, and then… well, you need that day in between to give your body a break. And when you don’t get that, it gets harder. When it’s harder, and you’re already pre-disposed to be hard on yourself like I am, then it becomes frustrating. Frustration becomes annoyance. Annoyance becomes poor focus and poor form. Poor form makes it harder. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

This weekend, it was Ribfest – large servings of protein, hot weather, bright sun, and allergies out in full force. And the problems repeated – not really ever home on Saturday to get the workout in, so day 40 became the rest day, and Sunday and today were to be Saturday and Sunday’s workouts. But the heat/sun/allergy combo knocked me on my ass by the time we got home yesterday, and left me pretty wobbly through most of the day today, which meant that those two days of workouts just didn’t happen. Best laid plans and all that, but P90X suddenly becomes P88X for me.

So, tomorrow is day 43, the beginning of week 7 – it’s the last week of getting in the really hard work before the ‘recovery week’, the last chance to go after some significant gains before moving into the home stretch of this program. It’s gut check time – I need to treat day 43 just like it’s day 1. I need to get past whatever this block is, whether physical or mental, and get back to work.

My P90X Journey – Day 32: 30-Day Progress Report (with Photos!)

June 26, 2010

Further update on Wednesday’s massive plyo session – yes, Dave, you’re getting name-checked in here yet again. My knees and ankles are still absolutely wrecked, and I still don’t regret it for a second. That being said, I wouldn’t object to not hurting anymore, either.

Fantastic yoga session today. I mean, seriously fantastic. Nice hard work that had me dripping with sweat only 10 minutes in. Other than the really advanced movement poses, I was able to get into everything. Reached past my toes on the double-leg hamstring stretch. For the first time today, I even managed to get into the crane position, and hold it for 3 seconds. I was more than a little amazed.

Now that we’re past the 30-day mark (and now that we’ve been able to find the cord that connects the camera to the computer), it’s probably time to check in with the first official P90X progress report. Through the first 30 days:

  • down 6 pounds, from 191 to 185 – actually 18 pounds in total since mid-January
  • down almost 4 points in body fat percentage, from 25.8% to 22.1%
  • down more than a pant size – from wearing 38s, I’m back into my size 34 jeans, which I haven’t been able to wear in more than 4 years, when I was still at half-marathon weight. Also back into most of those fantastic dress clothes that I had for work back then, and not too far off on the rest

And yes, we do have day 0 and day 30 photos for comparison purposes. Day 0 on the left and day 30 on the right, although I sure hope that’s obvious (good lord, I can’t believe I’m going to do this)…

To say that I’m pleased with the results would be an understatement. I can’t wait to see what day 60 will bring!

My P90X Journey – Day 31: Pain is Just Weakness Leaving Your Body

June 25, 2010

So, yeah – that whole sit-up euphoria from Tuesday? Pretty short-lived. We’ve apparently returned to our regularly-scheduled programming, where the cumulative effect of the workouts means that I’m unable to complete the exercises that involve getting upright from a prone position. Such as, well, sit-ups.

That’s okay, though. The renewed sense of failure just serves to take my mind off the intense discomfort that’s the legacy of yesterday’s plyowwwww session. Actually, that’s unfair. My soreness is partly of my own making. On a usual Thursday, I’d have been at work, walking around every once in a while, keeping the joints loose, and remembering to stretch. Unfortunately, because we’re living in a police state right now here in Toronto, I was working from home today, which means that I was ass-first in my desk chair from the moment I got up this morning until practically right before we went down to do today’s workout. The few times that I did get up and move around, it was slowly, and my knees creaked and barked with every step.

Yeah, there is literally no part of my body that doesn’t hurt as a result of yesterday’s plyo, plus there are parts – like my left forearm – that still hurt from Tuesday’s workout too. I’m talking shoulders, arms, back, abs, thighs, knees… even my ankles hurt after yesterday. Thanks, Dave. Thanks a lot. By the way, the title from today’s post was provided by Dave as well, from a note he left on my Facebook wall earlier today. I’ve never heard that quote before, nor do I know the source – apologies if it’s original, Dave – but I really liked the sentiment.

Anyway, today was a new back and biceps workout, along with the AbRipper. Hard, but felt really good. With the sore left forearm, every set of curls was an enormous challenge, and extremely satisfying to complete. And while the sit-up portion of the AbRipper was a failure, other parts are coming along nicely. Each time, I’ve able to do more and more reps of more and more of the exercises. Which is a very nice feeling.

Big day tomorrow. Another day of working from home. The ultra-long yoga session, where I hope I’ll be able to avoid last week’s sweat problems because I’m really looking forward to getting a good bend and stretch in. And then, a little picture-in-picture sports action, with the NHL draft and Doc’s first start against the Jays both getting underway at the same time. Ooh, Erin’s going to hate that last part…

My P90X Journey – Day 30: Where We’re Joined by a Guest Tyrant… Um, Trainer

June 24, 2010

Oh my god, I am tired. Deep to the bone, drop where I’m sitting, tired.

Point of fact, I was so tired that I got only that one sentence down on the screen last night before I couldn’t even form coherent thoughts anymore.

Yes, day 30 was plyo day. Now, plyo day is hard enough, but this was no ordinary plyo day. Allow me to explain…

See, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not on this journey alone – it’s a group effort. It started with Jackie and Ngaio from the musical I did earlier this year, and my fiance Erin and her brother James are doing it as well. We all started at the same time on the Tuesday after the Victoria Day long weekend. The idea was that we’d do our own stuff and support each other online, but that we’d also get together every once in a while to do a group workout when it was time for something like plyometrics.

It took us a while to get our schedules together, but last night was our first group workout. As an added benefit, Jackie’s friend Dave is a personal trainer and P90X survivor… er, graduate, and she arranged for him to come by and put us through our paces. However, this was not Tony Horton’s standard P90X plyo. Dave had his own personal torture he wanted to put us through.

Well, as I said, oh my god. I have never worked out harder in my life. Sweated through my shirt, sweated through my shorts, all but water-logged my shoes. After 30 days, I finally popped my P90X puking cherry. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I wanted it to happen, but I am a little surprised it took so long. Just a mean, hard, awful, cruel plyo workout. Didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but I’m frankly just happy that I survived. And if I had the money, I’d be hiring Dave to do it all over again every week. Yes, I’m ill, but you knew that already, right?

My P90X Journey – Day 29: We Now Return You to Your Regularly-Scheduled Programming

June 23, 2010

Sorry for that interruption earlier – suffice it to say that I was a little bit excited about today’s workout…

Wait a minute – day 29? You may be asking what happened to days 25 through 28? What happened to checking the progress at the end of week 4? Well, they’re really just a casualty of that whole balancing exercise and life thing I’ve talked about earlier. The exercise wasn’t a casualty, but the blogging about it was. So, let’s see if we can’t catch you up, shall we?

  • Day 25 was X Stretch, which is just a fantastic stretching routine. In fact, this day – this particular day – may well have been my favourite day out of the entire program so far. I’m really happy with the flexibility I’ve developed. In a figure-four stretch, I can actually get down and reach my heels. In a straight-leg stretch, I can grab my toes. I don’t think I’ve ever been this flexible.
  • Day 26 was Core Synergistics for the second time in the week, and I can quite comfortably say that I dislike this particular routine the most among all of them. It’s just hard in a much different way than any of the others; it has a lot of parts to it that are just not natural movements.
  • Days 27 and 28 were essentially a waste. Day 27 was supposed to be Yoga X and Day 28 a rest/stretch day. Due to a social commitment and a general lack of energy, we decided to flip them around – take the rest on Sunday and do the yoga on Monday. Best laid plans, and all that. Let me tell you, when trying to do high-intensity yoga, sweat is your enemy. I don’t know what the heck was going on, but my hands and feet were both sweating like a teenage boy on prom night. I seriously don’t know how the hot yoga folks do it. When your hands are sliding forward, and your feet are sliding backward, it’s just a little difficult to hold a textbook downward dog. I mean, you only have to go into that position 30 or 40 times during the workout. So yoga only lasted about 10 minutes before we threw in the towel – no point in getting hurt.
  • By the way, about that social commitment – if you’re in the Toronto area, and you ever get a chance to check out a burlesque group called Les Coquettes, it’s money well-spent. They did a fantastic show at Revival on Sunday night – some of the most creative dance I’ve seen in a long time, an amazing aerialist, and attitude up the wazoo. Fun and funny. Not for the kiddies, needless to say…
  • No change in weight for week 4, which is about what I expected. Recovery week, and all that.

And now we’re back up to date. Day 29, the beginning of week 5, and the turnover to a new set of weekly routines. Today, we had chest, shoulders, and triceps, plus our old friend AbRipperX. Apparently, there are new and different ways of doing pushups that we hadn’t yet explored during weeks 1 through 3. I confess that I found this rather surprising… and extremely hard. This was not a pleasant day in the gym, with absolutely no sense of satisfaction. Until…

It seems that taking the week off from the AbRipper X program allows you to come at it again with a renewed purpose. For example, did I mention that I’m now able to do a sit-up? Yeah, I know, it was a different post, but you’re reading them all – I know you are. Yes, all of a sudden, I’m able to get up for a complete sit-up. Four of them even! I mean, it takes a solid 5 seconds to get all the way up, and I need to compose myself again and re-clench for 10 seconds afterward. But still – four sit-ups!

And then I got back upstairs afterward and, when I looked in the mirror, there they were – abs. Two chunks of abdominal muscle, one on each side of my belly button, as if out of nowhere. I’m serious – they weren’t there yesterday. They weren’t even there this morning. It’s just weird.

Tomorrow (well, today at this point) – big day. Day 30. The first official checkpoint. New photos. Will I feel like sharing? We’ll just have to see…

My P90X Journey – Breaking News

June 22, 2010

I CAN DO A SIT-UP!

Actually, I can do four of them…

Also, I HAVE ABS!

In fact, two of them. Distinct, discernible…

More to come…

My P90X Journey – Days 22 to 24: Taking Fallen Soldiers off the Battlefield is Called “Recovery” Too

June 18, 2010

I’m not sure what’s harder – the P90X, or keeping a regular blog about it.

Day 22 – Yoga – So, we’re in week 4 now. They call this ‘recovery week’, I assume the idea being that you get to take a break from all the ab work and all the heavy resistance work and focus more on cardio and flexibility. Which is nice, I suppose, except the week includes yoga and kenpo, both of which we’ve done before and neither of which are exactly easy.

Something different about yoga this time around, though. Not easier, exactly, but I guess there’s just enough extra flexibility now that the stuff I can do, I can actually do, and do some of it pretty well. I still can’t do the stuff I can’t do. And the stuff that I can kind of do, I can kind of do it a little better. So, that’s all good, right?

Wow, that was some tortured writing…

Day 23 – Core Synergistics – Ooh, our first new routine since day 7. Yeah, nothing remotely easy about this one either. Pushups with the hands out of alignment and the feet stacked on top of each other? Walking pushups? Rolling bananas? Alternating supermans and bananas? WTF? Recovering my breath maybe, and only barely. This week is not at all as advertised.

Day 24 – Kenpo – Ah, my old friend. Welcome back. I know it’s only been 5 days, but I’ve missed you so. We get along so well, with all your punching and blocking and kicking. Just sheer raw, naked aggression, sweat and muscles rippling, breath heavy…

Whoa… when did this turn into a Harlequin romance? Yikes…

BTW, on a completely non-P90X-related note, I saw some discussion floating around today about whether or not Eric Lindros should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame when the new class is announced on Tuesday. Let me state, for the record, unequivocally, no, he should not be. Not in this or any other lifetime. There is nothing in his career that remotely suggests he’s deserving of this honour, and I defy anyone to convince me otherwise.

I may yet have more to say about this, but for now, NO.

My P90X Journey – Days 18 to 21: Finding the Work(out)/Life Balance

June 14, 2010

I’ve now been faced for the second time with what will probably be the hardest challenge in this program – how to strike a balance between a workout program that needs you to devote 1.5 to 2 hours a day to it and trying to just live your life. As important as it is to get your exercise in, how do you manage that when you’re faced with work or social commitments? And when you’re trying to write a daily blog chronicling your experience with the exercise program, how do you find time for that too? It’s a conundrum…

So, to catch up on what I’ve missed so far:

Day 18 (Friday) – Yoga – Hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it. Hate it. It’s hard and I hate it. That is all.

Day 19 (Saturday) – Back/Legs/Abs – I love legs day. After four days of failure with pushups, and plyometrics, and situps, and yoga, having a day where I can be almost completely successful is such an important boost for my confidence. Now, that being said, doing a legs-based workout and following it up by sitting through weekend traffic to St. Catharines? Not such a good idea, and a perfect example of the workout conflicting with life’s other obligations.

Sorry, but before I forget, just one more comment about day 18 and yoga. I hate it.

Day 20 (Sunday) – Kenpo… nope, rest day – And the weekend’s other example of the conflict. Late, late night in St. Catharines, the typical uncomfortable motel bed, long time in the car on the drive back home through weekend traffic, plus a trip to the mall on the way back. By the time we got home, there was absolutely no chance that we’d be able to get enough energy together to do the kenpo workout. But what to do? I haven’t missed a day of this program yet and I don’t want to. Missing a day is the first step on the road to not sticking with it, to not following through, to having this be yet another fitness failure. Maybe I could switch things up? Monday is supposed to be the rest or stretch day – what about if we just flipped them? Take the rest today and do the kenpo workout on Monday? Is it really a good idea to mess with the routine like that? Yeah, I don’t care really – I’m beat like a dusty rug in the backyard on a summer’s day.

And now we’re caught up to today. It’s day 21, the rest/stretch day turned kenpo workout. By the time I get home from work, my energy level is back up, nothing hurts, and I’m excited about spending an hour punching and kicking the air. This was a good session, with the sweat flying and the heart pumping. And even now, four hours later, there is still nothing hurting on my body. This is unusual. It’s particularly unusual to find that after two days folded up in the car and a night on a motel bed, my back doesn’t hurt. I mean, not even a little. Is it possible that this whole exercise thing has actual health benefits? Is that the way it’s supposed to work? Is it really so simple that all I need to do to stop my back from being a pain in the back is to take some slices off my gut and loosen up my hamstrings?

Being day 21 and the end of week 3, it’s also time to track the progress. Body fat percentage is down again. The scale shows another pound gone for the week – 6 pounds in 3 weeks of P90X and 18 pounds total so far in 2010 – which means that the BMI is down again too.

This is working. It’s actually working. And, I’m surviving…

My P90X Journey – Day 17: Narrated by Jim Perry with Soundtrack by Dream Warriors

June 11, 2010

Definition. My definition.

I look today and I see definition. There are biceps. There are triceps. There are deltoids. The three of them together form this nice little triangle from the side view. When I flex, there are peaks on both the top and the bottom of the arm. This is unfamiliar to me.

There are abs. Abs – plural. I can feel them. I mean, they’re buried under several layers of adipose tissue, but they’re there. When I’m doing the AbRipper, and I reach to the places where it hurts, I can feel actual muscles underneath there. Ab muscles. This is extremely unfamiliar to me.

Shoulder presses? Good. Curls? Good. Full set of in and outs. Full set of forward bicycles. Full set – FULL SET – of froggy crunches, when I couldn’t do more than a couple two days ago. Lots of ab raises. Getting up to my toe on the leg climbs.

This was a very good day. This was the type of day that makes it easy to stay with it, easy to shake off the soreness and the tightness in the back of my leg.

Of course, I still haven’t been able to do a full sit-up. It’s not all wine and roses…