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I am having pretty much no trouble keeping up with the program but I am having trouble keeping up with the blogging. Everything is going well, I’ve settled into a pretty good grove. I’ve done everything and I seem to be able to increase my reps and endurance each time. I’ve also noticed that it is easier for me to do other activities (I ran 6 miles the other day and felt pretty fine afterward). My next post will likely come at the end of this week (week 3 on the program) and then again at the end of week 4 (1/3 of the way through the program). Hopefully I will have more to report and maybe even some new statistics to compare to the old ones by that point. For now, I will just keep on keepin’ on.

Trying to catch-up here. Day seven was Sunday. On Sunday you are either supposed to rest or do a stretch routine. A friend of mine was in from out-of-town so I didn’t find the time to do the stretching. Monday was Chest and Back again. Still pretty tough to do with the wrist, but I managed it. In only one week my performance on nearly every exercise improved. I realize this is probably due to my body becoming familiar with the exercises and not actual strength gains, but I feel good about it either way. Day 9 was today. It was plyometrics again (the mother). I moved to a different space in my house to do this one because it requires more space than I have have in my room. I managed to get it done and do a load of laundry. Just call me multi-task man. I am off to dinner. Tonight I will run 2.6 miles (intervals) and maybe play volleyball (because of the wrist it is a game-time decision). Toodles.

Today’s workout was the “Kenpo X” routine. It is very similar to other fitness workouts that use pseudo-martial arts techniques (e.g., tae bo). I didn’t find that this workout challenged me as much as the other cardio workouts (yoga and plyometrics). It was fun though. One thing I like about the program as a whole is that you spend a lot of time focusing on stretching and working out your hamstrings. Mine seem to be perpetually tight and my right hamstring often gives me trouble because of an old injury that I keep re-aggravating.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rest day. Alternatively I can choose to do the stretch-x routine. Given that I am just starting the program and I am not that gassed yet, I think I will probably elect to do the stretching routine (if time permits).

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Food: the usual

Supplements: the usual

Activities: Long run (8.3 Miles)

Today was Yoga-X. I’ve never done yoga before and I have to say I very much enjoyed it. I certainly have a lot of room to improve on in my flexibility. Three relatively minor things irked me about this particular program though. First, it was an hour and a half. I didn’t realize this prior to starting the program and it almost made me miss a meeting (the others have all been under an hour). Second, as I mentioned, I have never done yoga before so this maybe just a general complaint about yoga and not this particular version of yoga, but I felt that they spent way to much time doing two poses (downward and upward dog). Third, at the end of the program they worked in a bunch of ab exercises. I don’t have anything against ab exercises but the way the program is structured, adding extra ab exercises in this program results in three days of abs in a row. Based on most programs, that does not seem to be enough time to rest. But what do I know…

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Sleep: I think I got close to 7 hours last night.

Supplements: 2 Fish oil caplets, multivitamin, protein shake

Breakfast: Whole grain cheerios, medium banana, 2 slices of whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter

Snack: No snack

Lunch: Reuben at Applebee’s, mozzerella cheese sticks (bad food is okay if you have it with good company :))

Snack: No snack

Dinner: Leftover fettuccine, 100 calorie pudding cup for desert

Snack: Maybe some peanut butter toast, haven’t decided yet.

Activities: I also ran 3.75 Miles at a moderate pace.

Well, turns out it is kind of hard to do just about any exercise with a sprained wrist. Despite this, I still gave my best (and forgot the rest) today in my workout. The required routine was a combination of arm and shoulder exercises that pretty much all required the use of dumbbells. To make it easier on the injury, I used the lightest pair of dumbbells I have (15 lbs). Surprisingly, the pain wasn’t too bad. I realize that most medical professionals would shake their heads at me exerting this kind of effort so soon, but what can I say? I’m bull-headed.

I have to say that I very much liked this workout. I never have been the kind of guy to sit there in the gym by the mirror and do concentration curls. I’ve always thought of these exercises as less than functional and purely for “vanity muscles” opting instead to do barbell exercises (e.g., dead lifts) and assume that my arms were good enough. Tony (the head p90x honcho, finally figured out his name) agrees with me that these are vanity muscles, but he also seems to structure the workout in ways that make these moves seem functional. And of course, the problem with my logic regarding other exercises is that when multiple muscles are involved in the exercise (especially if the legs are involved) the stronger muscles will pull more weight. Which is probably why the bottom half of my body looks like it belongs to an NFL athlete, while the top half looks like it belongs to kid in pee-wee football.

Now for some side notes about this particular workout. I like that on each video Tony uses different background folks. If it were the same people over and over, it might get pretty boring. This time one of the guys actually looked just like Tony. In fact, this guy was wearing a p90x tank top that is similar to what Tony usually wears (Tony was just wearing a plain gray tank top). It threw me for a loop early in the routine and Tony mentions it a couple of times later, suggesting to me that he might have done it on purpose. That trickster…

I like the program so far. It is keeping me motivated (though writing about it everyday is also pretty motivating). I like having a challenge first thing in the morning everyday. It gives me some extra incentive to get out of bed. I’m also starting to notice that I am having less trouble remembering important details, but I am not going to chock that up to the program just yet. It could be just that I am more aware of my sleep and my nutritional intake. More thoughts to come tomorrow.

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Sleep: I think I got close to 7 hours, probably 6 if we are talking uninterrupted.

Supplements: 2 fish oil, 1 multivitamin, 1 protein shake

Breakfast: Multi-grain cheerios, skim milk, 1 medium banana, 2 slices whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter

Snack: Missed the food portion, only diet dr. pepper

Lunch: Toasted ham and cheese sandwich (dry, no butter involved), small to medium apple

Snack: string cheese, slices of ham

Dinner: Healthy version of fettuccine Alfredo with plenty of veggies, crystal lite.

Snack: 1.5 Monster cookies (I know, so bad, but so good)

Problems. Last night I played basketball with some friends and I suffered a minor strain to my wrist. I still plan to continue with the p90x program, but I think I may have to skip any exercises that directly involve placing pressure on my wrist (e.g., pull and push ups).

Luckily the exercises I did today did not directly involve my wrist. They were primarily plyometric with the majority of them being squats of some kind or another. I liked this particular program. It was quite a lot of cardio (close to an hour) but I thought that the exercises were fun, easy to do, and reasonably challenging. By the end I was gassed, and rightfully so, as the head guy (still don’t know his name) called this “the mother of all p90x workouts”, a point which he reiterated many times, once by just saying “the mother…” in a very low, creepy voice.

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Sleep: I probably got 6.5 – 7 hours last night. Not ideal, but better than the previous night

Supplements: 2 fish oil capsules, 1 multivitamin

Food:

  • Breakfast: 2 egg omelet with a slice of 2% cheese, 3 slices of ham, peppers, onions, and a splash of hot sauce for good measure. Medium banana on the side.
  • Snack: two pieces of wheat toast with natural peanut butter, dr. pepper diet
  • Lunch: Ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich with dijon mustard, protein shake
  • Snack: No snack
  • Dinner: Home-made sesame chicken (non-breaded) with red pepper, sugar snap peas, pineapple, and a side of brown rice.
  • Snack: I’m going out tonight so I might have something small at the bar (not too bad though!)

Activities: No extra-curricular activities today.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I tried to go to bed early (reasonably early anyway) and ended up waking up at 12:30am. I was restless and drifting in an out of sleep for a good three hours. When the alarm rang at 6:30am I avoided hitting snooze altogether, instead opting to re-set it alarm for 8:30am.  I did manage to get up at 8:30am, leaving me just enough time to complete my workouts and hustle to class.

Here we go. Today was the first day of the program. It involved a chest/back workout and an abs workout.

Thoughts:

The videos so far

The main dude is pretty nice and seems like he genuinely likes working out and wants you to succeed, all good things. Predictably all the people in the video are more ripped and toned than anyone I’ve ever seen and they can knock out reps like you wouldn’t believe. The main dude stresses that it is important you have a rep goal in mind when you do each exercise. For instance, he says “how many pull-ups are you going to do?” Thinking back on my fit test, I say to myself “I can probably do 2.” But then I realize he isn’t talking to me, he’s talking to Sven (or whatever the background guy’s name is). Sven looks like he has spent his entire life bare-chested, hoisting cows and throwing small children in some small villa situated in Switzerland, and not to my surprise he shouts out some ridiculous number like “30!” Holy crap. To make it worse, the only female of the group — a badass, golden-haired German workhorse with the most impressive 8 pack I have ever seen — shouts “25!” Wow, hear that? That sound was the last shred of my masculinity floating away on a river of energy drinks and sweat. Would it kill these exercise-peddlers to include a few normal people, even just in the beginning stages so I won’t feel so pathetic? To his credit, the main dude does try assuage any feelings of inferiority reminding you to “do your best and forget the rest” and by claiming that the individuals in the background were once just like you (they apparently “just finished” the p90x program, how fortuitous!) but I ain’t buying it. I’m hoping this program helps me get in better shape, but I have no delusions about emerging in three months as an Adonis.

Ah well, can’t quit now, I’m in it for the long haul. I have a few more comments on the videos in general, but I think I will withhold them until I have seen more of the videos.

Chest/Back Workout

The chest and back workout involves lots of push-ups and pull-ups. It just reinforced for me what I already implicitly knew and had found some evidence for in the fit test; my chest and back are severely out-of-balance. On the first round (it is a circuit exercise routine) I probably averaged 1.5 pull-ups across three styles (wide grip, reverse grip, etc.) and 15 push-ups (standard, military, wide, etc.). On the second round the ratio was about the same. I’ve always had a big chest (genes) and my shoulders have always been “crossed-up.” Hopefully this workout helps address these weaknesses.

Abs Workout

This one was a killer. It involved around 11 exercises (though it could be more or less, I was a little delirious afterward) at somewhere between 25-40 reps. I thought I had a decent core — it doesn’t show through in the pictures, I have what you might call stealth abs — but this workout showed me I have a long way to go. I think the video said there are something like 339 reps in the workout and I probably was only able to do half of that.

The after-burn

I feel a little sore. My shoulder is a little tender and my abs and lower back ache a little bit. That’s it though (other than some pain in my right hamstring which probably has nothing to do with the workout and everything to do with my run yesterday). I imagine that I will probably feel a lot more soreness tomorrow…

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Details on my habits and diet for the day:

Sleep: If I am being generous, I got 5-6 hours last night

Supplements: I had 2 fish oil capsules and one multivitamin with breakfast, drank a protein shake (1 scoop whey, 5 grams creatine, 16 oz H20) immediately following the abs exercise

Food:

  • Breakfast: one medium banana, two whole wheat pieces of toast (dry)
  • Snack: handful of raw almonds, string cheese, diet dr. pepper (can’t quit it)
  • Lunch: leftover chopchae (from a friend, not a restaurant, still greasy though), apple
  • Snack: Chocolate Chip cookie and Chai Latte (Shame! What can I do? A friend was in crisis…)
  • Dinner: leftover chicken marsala and red skinned mashed potatoes (again, made at home from men’s health recipe)
  • Snack: dr. pepper, toast

Activities: two low-intensity volleyball games, 1 high intensity basketball game

Here are the “before” shots suggested by the p90x program (just so folks don’t accuse me of doctoring the shots later).:

The beginning of the p90x program requires that you set some baseline statistics to help you fully realise your results at day 90. The results of my fit test are below:

  • Body Fat %*: 17.66%
  • Weight: 205 lbs
  • Chest: 42 inches
  • Waist: 35.5 inches
  • Hips: 41 inches
  • Right Thigh (mid thigh): 23.5 inches
  • Left Thigh (mid thigh): 23.5 inches
  • Right Arm (flexed): 14 inches
  • Left Arm (flexed): 14 inches
  • Resting Heart Rate: 72 bpm
  • Pull-ups: 2
  • Vertical Leap: 15 inches
  • Push-ups: 27
  • Toe Touch: +2 inches (two inches past the toe)
  • Wall Squat: 2:06 min
  • Bicep Curls: 15 reps of 25 lbs
  • In and Outs: 26
  • Heart Rate Maximizer: 70 bpm, 57 bpm, 50 bpm, 50 bpm, 50 bpm

That’s it! “Before” photos soon to come.

*This number is calculated using the navy circumference formula, not skin calipers. I believe the “healthy” percentage is 10-18% for men.

I’ve challenged myself to complete the p90x fitness program. As you might expect, the p90x is one of those gimmicky late-night informercial specials that claims to get you “buff” and “beach-ready” in what seems like an incredibly short amount of time (in this case 90 days). I’ve never really given any of these things a second thought, but I happen to know a few people who have had success with this particular training regimen so I thought I would also give it my best shot.

A few quick words about myself. I was overweight most of my life. After my first year of college I was approximately 265lbs. Even at my height (6’3″) that is considerably overweight. I changed my eating habits off and on through college. Though this caused my weight to fluctuate, I was still mostly overweight at the time of graduation (238lbs).

During my first year of graduate school a sudden rush of motivation hit me and I began to not only eat right but also to exercise like a crazy person. Over the course of a semester I went from 238lbs to 172lbs. Comments went from “you look great” to “I’m worried about you.” I felt great, but looked pretty sick. I cut back on some of my cardio work and started to lift weights in an attempt to increase my lean muscle mass. Three years later I am sitting here weighing in at around 200lbs. It’s a weight I have kept for the past two years and I am comfortable with it.

Though I am rather active and now at a healthy weight, I have never looked “toned.” I was attracted to the p90x system because it seems to promise just this result. Therefore, I am not as concerned with my weight during this program as I am with seeing marked improvements in my muscle tone. I also would like to see improvements in my flexibility and my speed (I’m running a half-marathon in May and will probably compete in my second Men’s Health Urbanathlon in October).

Finally, I will be posting my fit test results and pictures soon, but I thought it might also be helpful to post a few things about my eating and lifestyle habits as well. That way you can put any results you see from this experiment in context. I am a 26 year old male. I don’t smoke or drink (never even a puff or a drop). I take multi-vitamins and fish oil supplements each day. I try to eat three small to moderate meals a day and three snacks. For the most part I think I eat healthy. I like to cook and bake so that helps me avoid too many fast food meals, but I am social and eat out normally 1-3 meals a week. I also have a wicked sweet tooth — mostly for gummy fruit flavored candy (mike and ikes, swedish fish, sour patch kids) — that I often indulge. I currently lift weights 2-3 days a week and run 3 days a week (2 moderate length runs, 1 long run).

Exceptions to the p90x playbook. I will not be following the p90x system exactly as intended. Here are the exceptions:

  1. I will follow my own diet plan (not the p90x plan). I have no idea of my style of eating is similar to that suggested by the program but it seems to work for me and I am sticking with it. If I find later that I need to eat a little more to match the energy I am burning I will do so.
  2. I will not be supplementing with the p90x supplements. Aside from my normal supplements of fish oil and vitamins I will be adding a protein shake (1 scoop whey powder, 5 grams creatine, 16oz H20) to the end of each workout, that’s it. I don’t want to give GNC any more of my money.
  3. I will use the resources that I have to complete the program (free weights, chin-up bar, etc.). I will not buy any new equipment (e.g., yoga block, resistance bands).

I recognize that not doing these things let’s p90x off-the-hook and I am okay with that. So I will make it official: I relinquish p90x from all responsibility and I will not hold them accountable for anything that happens during this experiment. Stay tuned for pictures and fit test results.