My 6 months with P90x

I started P90X at the end of July last year. I did the pre- fit test and passed (barely) and dutifully worked through 6 weeks of the routines, even giving the extra cardio workouts a try during one of the weeks. (That proved to be too much, so I stopped the extras after two times. Sheesh!)

But, during the middle of week 7, right after one of my workouts, my back seized a bit while I was simply in the act of sitting down. I immediately dropped to the floor and did some stretching. That afternoon I had to fly to a conference, spent the next couple of days in pain, but stretching as much as I could. By the time I got home, my back was feeling much better, and a couple of days later I resumed my workouts.

Mistake.

My back was tweaked a bit more than I thought, and in the middle of one of the routines it locked up big-time. I hit the ground, and from child’s pose, pleaded for the back gods to grant me a pardon. It wasn’t to be. I spent a number of hours over the next couple of weeks up close and personal with my chiropractor.

She said my hip flexors were super tight, and they were putting a strain on my spine, which caused my lower back muscles to seize to “protect” the spine. Her guidance: stretch, stretch, stretch the hip flexors, and modify the Ab Ripper belly workout. She told me not to do anything with full leg extensions (scissors, in-and-outs, bicycles, etc.); keep it to crunches only, and I should be fine until my back muscles and core get stronger.

I took a 4-week break — no exercising at all.

Then I started all over again with Week 1, Day 1, modifying the ab workout. And it worked. I haven’t had any back problems since.

This time through I added the cardio doubles routine for a couple of weeks, but stopped doing them because I couldn’t eat enough to keep my weight up. Losing weight was one of my goals, but I didn’t want it to drop like a rock. Rome wasn’t build in a day, and weight loss doesn’t have to happen all in one week either.

So after the aborted first attempt, the month off for back issues, restarting from scratch, a few days missed here and there because of travel and holidays, yesterday I finished Week 13, Day 7. Almost six months after starting.

During that time it was fun to see my body reshape itself. (No, I’m not going to post any before or after photos.) When I started I looked kind of like a shoe box set on end, perched atop toothpicks. For the most part my chest, waist, and hips were all about the same size, and my legs would have embarrassed a plucked chicken. Now? I still look like a shoe box set on end, but a bit concave in the middle (although my legs are still a bit scrawny — and probably always will).

Here are the numbers from my “before” and “after” body measurements:

  • Weight: Dropped from 189 to 178. (This was my weight taken first thing in the morning, not immediately after working out and sweating off a pound or two. Lowest weight during the 6 months after one of the workouts: 174.8 (yikes! too low). And remember, this was through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays for everyone in the family including me, all usually associated with lots of overeating and weight gain.)
  • Chest: 42 –> 40.5”
  • Waist: 39.5 –> 35” (yes!!!)
  • Hips: 41 –> 40”
  • Right & left thigh: 21.5 –> 22”
  • Right arm (bicep): 13.5 –> 13.75” (that extra quarter inch is really impressive. : )
  • Left arm (bicep): 14 –> 14”

And the numbers from my before and after “fit test”:

  • Resting heart rate: 70 –> 65
  • Pull-ups: 3.5 (what???) –> 14
  • Vertical leap: 14 –> 17.5” (white men can’t jump)
  • Push-ups: 32 –> 47
  • Toe touch: +2 –>  +8.5”  (as in, before I could reach 2” beyond my toes; after 8.5” beyond my toes) (Seated on floor, legs straight out, no bent knees, bend over at waist with arms reaching towards toes)
  • Wall squat: 1:15 –> 3:00 (this one really (pleasantly) surprised me. I’ve never had strong legs. Even a plucked chicken would be embarrassed by them)
  • Bicep curls: 15 reps @ 15 pounds  -> 35 reps @ 20 pounds (about a half-hour later I did 17 reps @ 30 pounds, just because)
  • In & outs: 45 –> 80 (I was hesitant about doing this during the “after” test, not sure what it might do to my lower back muscles given the nature of the move and my previous back issues. My back survived just fine.)

I won’t bore you with my “heart rate maximizer” numbers.

The most exciting moment: the morning I woke up and weighed less than 180 pounds.

So was it worth it?

Oh, yes.

I’ve never felt more fit in my life. Before starting, those 3.5 pull-ups in the fit test were horrid. I counted “got my eyes within an inch of the bar” as a good pull-up; and I took a break between each. After: all 14 were full quality: good form, the top of my shoulders even with my hands; no breaks, no squirming. I can do all the cardio routines without killing myself. I used to hate lunges and squats (thus the chicken-legs), but I don’t mind them at all anymore.

One thing that didn’t happen but I wanted to: I never did get those ripped, death-defying 6-pack abs. It might be the result of not doing the full-blown ab routines every time. Also, if I’d been willing to lose a few more pounds they might have shown themselves. But, I lost over 4” from my waste. I’ll take it.

So where to from here?

I’m going to take it easy, just doing the X-Stretch routine and the Cardio-X routine on alternating days for a few days. Then I’ll get back to it. (I’ve gotta find that 6-pack. I know it’s in there somewhere. : )

All in good time . . .

Week 5, day 1: doubles

I’m going to give doubles a try. Cardio in the morning 3-4 times a week; the hard-core workout in the evenings. So, 45 minutes of cardio this morning, which was a subset of the yoga and kenpo routines that I’ve already been doing – not too terribly bad. This evening? Oof! A bit different. Since last week was a recovery week I didn’t have to do many pushups or sit ups. This evening: shoulders, triceps, chest, and abs. Translated: lots of pushups. Wow. Very hard core. After going until I almost couldn’t move any more, I forgot about abs until I had showered and dried off. Doh! I threw on my wet clothes and went back for 15 minutes of ab “heaven,” followed by another shower. Whew.

Notes to self after day 1:

  1. Always complete the entire workout routine before showering
  2. Buy a bunch of cheap work-out shorts. I’m going to burn through them pretty quickly if I continue with two-a-days
  3. Go to bed earlier and get plenty of sleep. 6 hours isn’t going to cut it

Tomorrow morning: plyometrics. Then Pam and I are heading out for some peace and quiet on the water with our pedal kayaks.

End of P90x week 2

Whew. What a couple of weeks!

(Actually, it’s been about 3 calendar weeks in total, but I’ve had to do a lot of traveling, which made for some delays in training. I’d do some of the exercises in my hotel rooms, but it didn’t feel right to consider it a full X-day. So when I would get back from a trip I’d pick up with the next day in the sequence.)

So what’s happened during that time?

Lots of push ups, tons of sit ups, core work, ab work, chin ups, stretching, cardio, yoga (who knew yoga was so intense?), jumping, wall sits, lunges, and on and on. Each time the same routine has come around in the cycle I’ve been able to do more. I was floored the other day when I completed 40 Mason Twists at the end of Ab Ripper X.

I’ve lost 10 pounds – most of them during the first 1.5 weeks. From there I’ve held steady weight-wise, but have continued to shape up and slim down.

This evening I walked in from the pool and ran into Alix, my daughter.

Alix: Hey, you have pecs now. They used to just kinda hang there.

Me: (thinking) Coolness. It’s working!

Tomorrow starts week #3. Can’t wait to see what kind of changes will happen over the next 2 weeks.

Bring it!

— bliz

Exercise – getting a jump on the new year

Over the weekend I finally went for a bike ride: just over 12 miles, averaging only 17 mph. And I thought I was going to die. It was overcast, cold (for here, anyway), and windy.

When I got back home I felt like I’d just finished a marathon. What happened to 43 miles @ 17 mph from this summer? Not much riding lately, that’s what.

So today, on another windy (but sunny and not too cold) day, I decided to go for a brisk 30-minute walk. No special clothes required (other than my running shoes), no painful rump after 30 minutes, easy to see cars and get out of the way if necessary. . .

It was fun.

And I got to see stuff I would have missed on the bike.

When I ride my bike I’m always trying to keep the pace up, even when I’m tired. Which means my head is pointed straight ahead and I’m focused on the road in front of me; no time to look around.

On my walk I

  • saw a horse that looked like she was trying to give birth (she was too far away and not far enough along to tell for sure);
  • said Hello to the garbage men;
  • discovered the “executive home site” down the road is actually 336 feet across, not 334 as described on the sign; (the property is over 600 feet deep according to the sign – imagine, they could build a few soccer fields, or tons of tennis courts there);
  • heard a gate alarm whining away to nobody (except me), complaining that it couldn’t close.

On my bike I wouldn’t have seen, said, discovered, or heard any of that.

OK. Back to prepping demos.

Sobering videos

I’ve seen a few of the Smart Fortwo cars around on the streets of Tampa. Cute little things, but just looking at them always makes me wonder what would happen to the driver & passenger in a crash. Even with tons of airbags, I can’t imaging the results would be pretty.

Same for Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris. Cute, inexpensive, but so very small.

Well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released videos of test crashes of all three vehicles against mid-sized cars from the same manufacturers.

If you’re at all squeamish, you shouldn’t watch. For everyone else, here’s the link: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourCar/small-cars-get-poor-marks-in-crash-tests.aspx?slide-number=1

After watching these videos you’ll never catch me in one of those cars.

My back – almost back to normal

I woke up this morning and – no pain. What a nice feeling! I can tell the vice grip gods are still lurking around back there, so I’m still taking it easy. But, I think I’ll be able to make it to my meetings today. I’ll probably pop a couple of Tylenol before I go, more for the psychological benefits than anything… but it’s better than meeting someone for the first time while a bit loopy on Oxycodone.

The weather forecast is shaping up to give us a beautiful weekend. But, no boating (sail or motor) for me. Last time I tried to rush my back along I found myself gasping in pain, laying motionless on the bow of my boat about a mile from shore. Don’t want a repeat of that.

Nope. A few more “gentle” days and I think I’ll be good to go. And no more FlowRiding for Jimbo.

A little too much fun on the FlowRider

During our cruise last week I discovered the fun of a FlowRider. It’s like snowboarding and slalom water skiing at the same time. (I’ve done both, but never at the same time.)

People trying it out for the first time look like toddlers learning how to walk. Lots of wobbling and arms flailing. And lots of spills. Lots of spills.

DSC_7555
I demonstrated how accomplished I was by crashing & burning both forward

DSC_7579
and backward.

Pam watched me for a while then decided to give it a try. She did pretty well (especially considering she’d never snowboarded or been on a slalom water ski before, and occasionally has challenges just walking down a couple of steps).

It was so much fun I couldn’t stop – even after I tweaked my back on my second fall of the day. After a couple more hours of crashing & burning I was really sore and knew I would pay for it. I didn’t FlowRide any more, but my time would come. My back would pay me back for the abuse. This was last Thursday.

Monday I paid finally for it. Late yesterday afternoon while I was bending over to pick something up my lower back muscles finally seized up. Felt like someone put my spine in a vise. I took some pain meds and headed straight to bed. And this morning I’m walking around like a toddler taking baby steps and arms flailing around, still on pain meds.

Was it worth it? Well, it was a ton of fun at the time.

Am I ever going to ride one again? I don’t think so.

But if you ever get the chance, you’ve gotta give it a try.

Thursday, March 12, 2009 – National DVT Awareness Month

Been there, done that. Scary as hell.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a medical condition that occurs when a thrombus (blood clot) forms in one of the large veins, usually in the lower limbs, leading to either partially or completely blocked circulation. It may be caused by a variety of risk factors and triggering events, including cancer, obesity or restricted mobility due to acute medical illness, stroke, major surgery, previous DVT or respiratory failure. DVT symptoms may include tenderness, pain in the leg, swelling and discoloration or redness. The condition may result in health complications, such as pulmonary embolism (PE) and even death if not diagnosed and treated effectively.

Quote

Talking about DVT (Deep-Vein Thrombosis) Awareness Month: ClotCare
March, 2009 marks the sixth annual Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month sponsored by the Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis. March is officially recognized as Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month by United States Senate Resolution 56.

Thursday, March 12, 2009 – National DVT Awareness Month

Been there, done that. Scary as hell.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a medical condition that occurs when a thrombus (blood clot) forms in one of the large veins, usually in the lower limbs, leading to either partially or completely blocked circulation. It may be caused by a variety of risk factors and triggering events, including cancer, obesity or restricted mobility due to acute medical illness, stroke, major surgery, previous DVT or respiratory failure. DVT symptoms may include tenderness, pain in the leg, swelling and discoloration or redness. The condition may result in health complications, such as pulmonary embolism (PE) and even death if not diagnosed and treated effectively.

Quote

Talking about DVT (Deep-Vein Thrombosis) Awareness Month: ClotCare
March, 2009 marks the sixth annual Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month sponsored by the Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis. March is officially recognized as Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month by United States Senate Resolution 56.