Tag Archives: weight loss

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!

Let the Insanity Begin!

10 Jul

Quick Recap – I am a 35 year old average guy.  I have a wife, two kids, and I run my own small business.  In February 2012 I weighed in at my heaviest ever… 221 lbs!  Since then, I’ve dropped 43 lbs and got in the best shape of my life through proper nutrition and exercise!  I did Power 90, then P90X – both programs offered by Beachbody.  I have been so happy with my results and how I’ve transformed my life, I became a coach!  Yesterday, I swapped out my final week of P90X (the recovery week), for Insanity.

For those not familiar with Insanity, it is a 6 day per week, 63 day program focused on cardio and core training developed by Beachbody (makers of P90x).  Workouts are 40-50 minutes in length and they use a training concept called “Max Interval Training”.  In laymans terms, this means you work your butt off for very intense bursts, then have a short 30 seconds to catch your breath, and then repeat.  The idea is that you get your heart rate very high, and keep it there mostly over the course of the workout and this: 1) cuts down on having to do very long periods of low/moderate intensity cardio, and 2) gives you an unbelievable workout in far under 1 hour.

I’ve done the first two routines so far.  Cardio Plyo Circuit, and Cardio Power Resistance.  My initial thoughts: HOLY CRAP IS THIS HARD! I may not be a pro athlete, but having completed Power 90 and P90x I am by far in the best shape of my life.  Despite my relatively high level of fitness at the moment, Insanity is kicking my rear end!  While P90X focused more on strength training, Insanity is very much focused on high intensity cardio.  The closest thing P90X has to Insanity workouts is Plyometrics, but I am finding the Insanity version to be much more difficult.  Second, the workouts are so fast paced and intense, they go by in a flash.  They are much shorter than the base P90X workouts in terms of real time (40 minutes in the first month compared to 70+ minutes if you include Ab Ripper X in P90X), and you jump from one exercise to the next, so you feel like the workout is over very quickly.  Third, this is THE workout if you want to get ripped!  I did Insanity now specifically for this reason.  Shed the last 5% or so body fat that I want to come off, and I can’t imagine Insanity won’t get me there (with proper nutrition of course).  I was literally dripping sweat after both workouts!  I was breathing so hard I couldn’t even think about talking.  These are HUGE cardio workouts with an obvious fat-melting effect.

A note on Insanity nutrition – The program does have its own nutrition guide.  Basically, it is very similar to P90X.  I’m basically following my P90X nutrition plan with slight modifications.  I’m keeping a 45-55% daily carbohydrate, 30% protein, 20% fat mix.  I’m dropping my calories down to the 1800-2000 range daily as I want to shed the last few pounds of body fat.  YOU MUST EAT CLEAN AND FOLLOW A PROPER NUTRITION PLAN IF YOU ARE EXPECTING RESULTS! Doing your “own thing” will not yield results as good or better than following the plans outlined by Beachbody!

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.

 

P90X – Week One Complete

23 Apr

Today marks the beginning of week two on P90X!

Week one was great.  I continue to follow the plan, nutrition and workouts, to the letter!  My only “struggle” with the workouts seemed to be on weight exercises where I took too little, or too much weight and had to pause, etc.  Now I have a baseline, I’m good!  I did download the p90x app for my iPhone.  I’m glad I did because it works like the sheets, recording your weight and reps, but it ties in to the wowy.com site and it can also produce charts/graphs to show your progress over time.  I think visual evidence for my improvements over time will be very motivating!

My nutrition has been somewhat hard to manage.  I have increased my calories to 1800 per day (from approx 1500), and on days I work out and play golf, I try to add another 600-1000 calories.  This is because walking 18 holes and carrying your bag burns 1500+ calories!  Doing that, on top of a p90x workout is pretty demanding stuff, and I want to make sure I’m giving myself enough fuel.  Getting all those calories is hard though!  That is a LOT of food, even with a metabolism that is firing on all cylinders these days!  I’ve figured out the 1800 calorie days at this point, but struggling to add the extra calories on golf days.  I’m going to add natural peanut butter, oatmeal to protein shakes, and just a little bit of everything else to other meals.  Perhaps even add a low carb protein shake before bed.

I’ve been rebalancing my ratios a bit so I’m getting between 40-50% carbs daily, 30-40% protein and 20% or less from fats.  It seems to be working well as I’m continuing to lose my target 1 to 1.5 pounds a week, but my energy levels are good during physical activity.

I feel like I’m really starting to “lean out”.  I have minimal “flab” on my midsection, and I can even see the faint outlines of a six pack coming together!  I’m still not “ripped”, but my sides and upper stomach have the beginnings of some definition.  I believe my body fat is still in the very high teens to 20% range, so I figure it will be mid/later program before I really see some obvious definition.  I’d love to be in the low teens by the end of this round of p90x, but we’ll see!

My wife has done every workout with me so far!  She has also lost close to 9 lbs since we started.  She is also seeing results which is really motivating her.

Tonight is the start of week two… chest and back baby!