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I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

12 Nov

Over the last two years, I’ve learned a LOT about weight loss, fitness, and nutrition. I’d like to think that I wasn’t totally ignorant before I started on this self-improvement journey. Generally speaking, I’m a reasonably smart guy. I have a college education from a prestigious school, I’m a big reader, and I’m naturally inquisitive. That all said, I WISH I had known then what I know now!

I’ve recently been having people ask for my help and guidance on how they can lose weight, get in shape, etc. At times been shocked at how ignorant people are about nutrition and fitness! The things people hold as self evident truths about fitness and nutrition, while silly to me now, are many of the same things that I believed once upon a time! Reflecting on it, I’ve thought of a few things that I wish I had known, or done a bit differently when I got started:

1) Don’t Start Over Your Head – I had a few failed attempts to whip myself into shape in years past. I bought P90X from Beachbody because of the flashy infomercial and super fit people doing the workouts on TV. Boy was that a mistake! Not because it isn’t a great program, but because it was WAY too advanced for me at the time. What ultimately got me to stick to a routine was not getting in over my head right away. In February of 2012, I started with Power 90 (which I call “P90X-light”). Power 90 is geared towards a typical fitness beginner. The workouts are shorter, and less intense than P90X which made them more approachable for me and helped me to stick with the program. I lost 33 pounds in 90 days on Power 90, and then couldn’t wait to tackle P90X from there. The moral of the story is to start slow. If you are truly trying to change your lifestyle, the important thing is that you start doing something. By biting off more than you can chew right away, you are likely to get frustrated and give up.

2) You MUST Focus On Nutrition – Ask any serious trainer, body builder, fitness model, etc., about their physical conditioning, and they will tell you that results are 75%+ nutrition. Ever hear the old adage, “you are what you eat?” This is so true! If you are serious about losing weight, improving physical performance, etc., you have to have a proper diet. You simply cannot out-exercise bad nutrition. A definition of “proper nutrition” however is a bit subjective. For me, proper nutrition has taken the form of adopting a Paleo diet. For more on this, I recommend the book The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. At a minimum though, I recommend people eliminate processed foods, minimize/eliminate wheat and grain, eliminate sugar, and eat more vegetables. I’ve experimented with a variety of nutrition schemes, and hands down Paleo has yielded the best results and made me feel and perform my best.

3) Have A Plan – If you are serious about losing weight and getting in shape, you need a plan. Just going to the gym and fiddling with the various equipment does not count. In order to have a plan, you need a goal – lose 30 lbs?, gain muscle?, train for a sport?, etc… Sometimes, your goal may be obvious. When I started, I was 227 lbs and had a 40″ waist dress pant. My goal was simple – LOSE WEIGHT! I adopted a plan that limited my calories and gave me a broad workout with a mix of circuit and cardio training. Whatever your goal is, make sure you are selecting a workout and nutrition regiment optimized to get you to your goal. While on your plan, I also found it very motivating to keep records. I tracked my body measurements and weight so I could visually track my progress. Before and after photos are also a great idea. Keeping a workout log in a notebook is a must. Monitoring your reps/weights and tracking them over time shows your progress. It also makes just keeping track of what to do workout to workout easier.

4) Educate Yourself – Reading about fitness and nutrition has been very important to me. I’ve learned a ton about the subject I didn’t know, I’ve “unlearned” things I thought I knew that was just wrong, and I’ve incorporated new things into my routines and nutrition that have vastly improved my results. Knowledge is power, so educate yourself!


Insanity Asylum has begun…

11 Dec

I finished Day 2 of Insanity Asylum vol 1 today. The workout was Strength. Backing up a minute, Insanity Asylum is a 30 day sports conditioning program, developed by Shaun T, creator of Insanity.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that in 2012 I completed Power 90, P90X, Insanity, and then I’ve been “maintaining” my fitness and weight loss with a hybrid of P90X and Insanity. I’m definitely in the best shape of my life, and I’d argue in way better shape than the average 35 year old male. That said, Asylum is HARD!!!

The workouts quickly get your heart rate up, and they give you little time for recovery. The movements also require a lot of coordination. The program makes use of an agility lader, which sits on the floor while you do specific moves in and out of the boxes on the ladder. The idea is that it promotes coordination and improved agility. For example, you do moving push ups, as in Insanity, but you must move your hands into the correct boxes. You also do footwork drills where you are running/jumping in/out of specific boxes in a coordinated sequence.

There are also a lot of “compound” movements. Unlike regular p90x where you do individual sets of a given move, like a push up, Asylum puts a few moves together which really gets you working! In the Strength routine, one of my favorite moves is a curl, followed by a squat, you drop the dumbbells to the floor and jump back to plank, do a push up, then come up. You work legs, biceps, chest, abs all in this fluid sequence of moves!

My Asylum PRO’s so far: 1) excellent total body conditioning – combines strength and cardio at all times, 2) pace of workout… things move fast, and nothing really repeats, so it feels like the workout goes by fast, 3) accomplish a lot in little time – the workouts are all less than an hour, and generally shorter than a p90x routine, but I feel like I get a much better workout. I burn more calories, feel more muscle burn, and sweat more than I do in even the hardest p90x or insanity routine.

CON’s: 1) Difficulty – I find this workout to be VERY challenging, this is a PRO or a CON depending. I would NOT recommend Asylum for someone who is not already very fit, or preferably a p90x or Insanity graduate, 2) Complexity – the moves are designed to improve athleticism and agility, and at first, it can be frustrating. At a minimum, I recommend watching the videos first to get a feel for them, or even try the workouts first at 50% effort so you get used to them a bit. I can tell it will take doing these a few times to really get the sequences down.

Where Have I Been?

9 Dec

I have not given up on my fitness journey – not obvious for anybody looking at my blog since it has been 5 months since I’ve posted!

While I haven’t been blogging, I finished Insanity. I then went into a bit of a maintenance mode with p90x and Insanity workouts 3-4 days a week. I’ve maintained my weight loss. In the last few weeks however, I’ve decided to take things to the next level and get back on formal routines again.

I ordered Insanity Asylum, and P90X2. My plan is to “demo” the main workouts of Asylum this week to get the hang of them, and then do the official 30 day program. After that, it will be on to P90X2. While I did get the ab definition I was looking for when I started working out in February, I’ve yet to get truly “shredded”… that’s the new goal!

So far, I’ve demo’d Asylum Speed and Agility, and Strength. Holy crap pretty much sums up these routines. I’m in pretty good shape after graduating from P90, P90X and Insanity all in a row, but these two routines are very challenging. They are more physically demanding moves than Insanity, and at a faster pace. I don’t see how it is possible to come out on the other end of Asylum without being in awesome shape!

A post about nutrition

18 Jun

On Father’s Day, I played golf with my dad and brothers.  I grew up playing the course, and I know a lot of the people still there, although I don’t see them regularly.  During my visit, about ten guys stopped me and told me how great I looked and asked about how I lost weight and got in shape.  I am a big believer in nutrition, so I talked about nutrition mostly, and exercise second.

Yesterday, I got into a debate on facebook with somebody about doing P90x and following, or not following, the nutrition plan and the benefits/drawbacks.  My opnion is this: If you want results, you MUST follow the nutrition plan!  I have followed it to the letter since February with Power 90, and now with P90X.  I also take Shakeology.  I firmly believe that without both, I would not be where I am today.

The good news is that the plans are spelled out in Beachbody programs.  When you buy a routine, the plan is right there for you.  That’s the easy part… the hard part is sticking to it!  Personally, if you are going to work out as hard as you need to in p90x, insanity, or the like, don’t you want to maximze your results?!?!

I’m going to post more on nutrition going forward because I think it is soooo important, but for now, if you are starting a program or thinking about starting one, do the following:

1) get rid of the junk food – throw out the ring-dings and cookies.  If you don’t have it in the house, you can’t eat it.  Also, if it is out of site for most of your day, it will hopefully be out of mind.

2) shop the perimeter of the grocery store – this is usually where you find the stuff that is the best for you.  Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, etc.  The isles in the middle mostly contain the processed stuff, the corn syrup products, etc.  If food is in a box of some kind, it is generally not good for you!

3) cook more – cooking can be fun, preparing your food yourself allows you to play withe recipes, and discover new healthy foods you love.  For me, I had no idea steel cut oats even existed six months ago, now it is my FAVORITE food!

Phase II – Week 6

22 May

So, I’m in week 6, the second week of Phase II for P90X!  I’m continuing to see gradual results and continuing to love the program!

Phase II shuffles up the workout routines.  You do Chest, Shoulders, and Tris, and Back and Biceps in place of Chest and Back, and Shoulders and Arms.  CST is a hard workout!  You really pound away with pushups and intense exercises.  In this routine, we meet the “clapper” push ups, or plyometric push ups – where you literally launch youself off the ground (as if a pushup is not hard enough!).  Back and Biceps is nothing fancy… just lots of pull ups, curl variations, and dumbbell back exercises.

The plyo, kenpo, yoga and legs and back routines all stay.  My ability to get through plyo with intense effort and good form improves slightly each time!  I know my cardio strength is getting better all the time.  The pull ups continue to be a challenge, but I’m also lessening the assist I get from my pull up assist band device.  My goal is to not be using the bands by the end of this round!

Outside of my workout, I’m noticing a difference in my everyday life.  I play a lot of golf, and walking the course doesn’t tire me out like it used to.  I’m also playing better and hitting the ball further!  Simple things like walking up stairs are remarkably easy…. I just kind of “glide” up stairs now!  Even carrying my daugther(s) up the stairs is pretty simple!

As I continue to lose weight and inches on my waist, clothes are becomming a problem!  Things that fit fine 2 or 3 weeks ago are hanging off me.  Things that I had before the program, especially pants, are pretty much useless.  I am excited to go shopping for new stuff, but I want to wait until I hit a bit of a maintenance mode or my weight loss flattens out.

I’m eating more calories again.

Day 30 – p90X

22 May

Phase One is in the books!  Today I did my 30 day measurements, although pictures will have to be tomorrow.

I’m down from 36.5 to 35 at the waist – very happy with that considering all my progess to date!  Chest was down from 41 to 39.5.  Weight was down from 190 on day 1 to 183.5!!! I have steadily decreased my weight and torso measurments since February!

I’m anxious to take pictures tomorrow.  Today for some reason, I’m noticing my biceps are “bulging”.  I flexed in the mirror after noticing this, and for the first time in my life, I notice peaks forming at the tops of my biceps… I’m very excited to put it mildly!  I also notice when showering that I’m a lot more “firm” everywhere.  I’m hoping that my 30 day pics show some slight noticable difference between days 1 and 30.  I think they will based on my stats above, but we’ll see!

Phase Two of p90x switches up the workout routines.  You add the Chest, Shoulders and Tricep routine, as well as the Back and Bicep (these replace Chest and Back and Shoulders and Arms).  I really like the Chest, Shoulders and Triceps routine.  It is hard and you come out of the gate strong with slow motion push ups which are a killer! What’s great about this workout is that you don’t repeat.  You just keep going with new sets and very few breaks.

Week Three DONE; Now in Recovery Week of P90X

8 May

I wrapped up week three and I’m a couple of days into my “recovery” week.  Don’t let the name fool you… you still work it hard!

Recovery week in P90x is less resistance training which gives you time to repair and build muscle.  You do the dreaded Yoga X workout twice, Core Synergistics twice, Kenpo X and X Stretch.  Core Synergistics is a fun workout!  Nothing repeats, and you cycle through a variety of total body exercises.  The idea is that it focuses on core work, but you do push ups and squats and a bit of cardio too.

I have my nutrition very well dialed in now.  I know exactly how many calories I need to eat in order to lose a specific amount of weight.  I’m trying to lose 1-1.5 lbs per week now through the end of P90x.  I’m currently at 185 lbs, so at this rate, I should finish around 173… BTW, I haven’t been my current weight since college!

I’m amazed, but I’m as motivated today as I was when I started in February.  I look forward to my daily workouts.  I’m LOVING the nutrition because the good food I’m eating makes me feel great.  I haven’t been sick, felt tired, too sore, or rundown!  I have tons of energy to go to work, do my exercise, play with my kids, etc.  I feel at least 10 years younger!

After this week, we start phase two.  The resistance workouts change up a bit.  I’m looking forward to the variety.  Now that I have a good baseline, I’m going to be pushing very hard during phase two!  I have ambitious goals, and I want to go as far as I can with this round of P90X as I can!

Challenge Group – I’m doing p90x in a “challenge group”, sponsored by my Beachbody Coach.  It means that I started the program with a few others at the same time, and we talk daily on a closed Facebook group.  I think for someone with minimal motivation/determination, this is a great way to keep you involved!  For me, I like hearing about how others are doing, and I’ve even got some good recipe ideas from people!  If you can find a friend, spouse, or challenge group to do P90x, I strongly recommend it.

Life after p90x?  I’m already thinking about what to do after p90x.  I’m torn between a few options, all with some merit.  First, I’d like to do Insanity.  This is mostly cardio focused, and it is 60 days.  If I’m not “ripped” by the end of p90x, I know Insanity will help get me there for sure.  Second, I could do another round of p90x.  P90x is such a great total body workout, that it will improve my conditioning, and help get me “ripped”.  I can see that certain moves like pull ups will still be pretty challenging by the end.  Another round of p90x without pull up assist bands, wearing a weighted vest, etc., could definitely push my overall fitness to new heights!  Third, there is a new body building / mass building program coming out in June called body beast.  I don’t want to be HUGE, but I would love to add pounds of lean muscle.  I think my Day 90 results on p90x will help me determine what is next for me.