fitness/health

Getting Serious

What happens when you take ten thousand tiny steps in the right direction?

was about finding a good place to start altering your diet and getting into a more active lifestyle, especially after finding yourself "off the health wagon" for some time. So, now you have made several small changes over time to your diet, and have been gradually and steadily increasing the workout intensity and frequency, maybe even changing walks into jogs. You're ready for more and are about to take the next step, but have some lingering questions. Now it's time to take the conversation a bit further, and explore a few of the hurdles in the approach to nutrition when stepping up the ante and delving into a more serious workout program, like P90X. My last post

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A great place to start

For a good long while I found myself very miserable, and very overweight. I was always eating way too large of portions of horrible foods all too often, being very sedentary in my spare time, drinking too much, smoking, never exercising, living in constant stress, etc., etc.,.. While I lived this way, I was in no way happy with how the way that I was living was making me feel, and what it kept me from being able to do. Things like riding a bike or climbing stairs without wheezing, feeling good about myself, or knowing I could accomplish for myself. I knew, for some time that I wanted, that I needed a change in my life. I knew what I wanted to be but I had zero idea how to get form where I was then, to where I am now: healthy, fit, active, glad to be alive with the knowledge that if I set my heart and mind to something that I will achieve it. I know that rather than believe it because every moment I exist, I am constantly reminded by the truly amazing way I feel, and the obvious transformation that I have put my body through.

When I landed in the hospital over and over again due to hypertension, stress, and debilitating anxiety attacks I knew I had to make a change, or continue to suffer serious consequences. It took me several months to finally discover the way to treat myself in order to achieve my personal best direction. It took a lot of shifting in focus and the relationship I had with my basic environment had to change subtly and consistently over time in order to realize what I wanted to be doing. A friend recently asked me where a good place to start getting fit is for someone a good 40 pounds overweight. I had that same problem about a hundred pounds ago, and wish someone would have been able to tell me then, what I know now, and offer me the simple tools I am now able to offer my good friends and brothers and sisters who are just starting out their fitness journey.

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Reset and restart!

It's official, the P90X doubles routine kicked my butt two times in a row. I have been out of commission for about a month due to two shoulder injuries, on top of the flu, on top of some crazy stress from my school this semester. This is a lesson learned: don't overdo it! I definitely piled on too much, and my immune system, nerves, and muscles all got angry at me for doing it.

I don't think I'll be attempting the doubles routine again for a while. Maybe next summer, or after this next round? If anybody out there has actually finished the P90X doubles routine, I would love to hear any tips! As for right now, I am moving on to P90X Plus. I have officially graduated from P90X (doubles is extra credit, not a required course!), so it's on to the next step...and I have to get training for a potential triathlon, or a different long distance cycling project this summer, and time is ticking!

I won't be uploading my progress from this last doubles routine, I was able to increase my total weight and reps, get down to the weight mark I was shooting for, and I have shrunk, yet again, out of my jeans, but I'm not putting up the spread sheets for this one. I'll post progress after this round of Plus, which starts this afternoon. I'm also going to get some photos for before and after this time, promise!

So my system has recovered, I have reset my schedule, and I am restarting the program. I've made a promise not to overdo it, or to get all worked up about the numbers. It's about feeling good, not having a big ego! Anyway, off to the races, people!

EDIT: almost forgot! There's a custom made excel spreadsheet (you are welcome) for tracking P90X Plus progress! Let me know if you love or hate it!

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Should I work out when I'm sick?

I've done workouts when sick before, and they made me feel quite a bit better, so I just kept to them. It makes me feel like life is worth living beyond the cold! But is this a good idea? Should I "walk it off" or should I take to the couch and "let my body heal"? The "common sense" of things seems to contradict itself, so I thought I would address the major issues I find myself concerned with when I have to confront this issue.

First of all, I need no research to tell me that if you're sick, stay out of the gym. Don't go exposing yourself to congested public places, and the people in those places to your cold, if you don't need to. This is just politeness. Ever catch a cold and, wondering how you got it, remembered that sick dude at work, school, or the gym and think to yourself, "Why didn't they just stay home a day or two?" I work out at home, so this is never an issue for me.

To be blunt, you should never do some crazy, exhausting workout if you are suffering from a cold. You should, at the very least, pull back a little. Focus on some light cardio, or reduce your weights some if you are circuit training. Take it easy. But, the good new is you don't have to stop working out, just because you're stuffed up! That's right, you have no excuse! A lot of people use a little head cold as an excuse to "take a break" from their routine, and never get back into it. This is just a way out for the uncommitted. The truth of the matter is, working out dilates the blood vessels and helps clear congestion, so it will make you feel better, but research shows that working out will not speedy the recovery process. It just makes it a bit more bearable. Likewise, the cold will not affect your ability to work out, it will just make it a bit less bearable! Just don't take it to far, working out too hard will prolong any cold.

While it's never a good idea just to stop working out because of an injury or head cold, but better to find a way to work around your injury or illness, there are some situations when you should just put a pause to your routine. Let's look at these:

  • As far as the common cold/flu symptoms go, do the neck check! If your symptoms are above the neck only, then just continue on as described above and be happy. But, if your symptoms are below the neck (ie,nausea) then you need to take a break, and let your body heal itself. In other words, if it's just stuffiness and a runny nose, you're good to go.
  • If you have a fever of any degree, stop working out. You are going to do nothing more than stress out your immune system and make matters worse, and this could even lead to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart).
  • If you have any sort of "body aches", including a headache., stop working out.
  • Lung congestion, hacking cough? No work out for you, my friend. Take a break, and let your lungs fight the battle.
  • If you experience any fatigue, listen to your body and rest. Don't feel guilty for not working out here, you are tired because your immune system is burning all of your calories working overtime to fight that virus. Let it!

Naturally, you're getting your rest and remembering to meet your nutrition/hydration needs, and before long, you're feeling you're over the hump of the cold's course. Keep to these rules as a good measure until it's out of you entirely, if you need to do something, go for a calm walk, or do a stretch. Finally, after you've followed these rules, and you're feeling over your cold, don't go full tilt back into your routine, take it easy at first, and build back up into it!

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One year anniversary of a very important date

NO-SMOKING

So, one day shy of exactly one year ago, I posted a quick article about making it one whole week without any tobacco intake. It was not an easy decision to make to quite smoking cigarettes...for good, and here I sit, over one whole year later, an accomplished man. In that post I pointed out how I was coping with the tension and withdraws: by working out. Weights and cardio all the way. That was my approach. It was health that I was after, so putting the focus on actively doing healthy things instead of the negation of unhealthy things just seemed to make sense to me.

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P90X Round three....take two!

So...My first attempt at doing the P90X Doubles routine...failed. This routine adds a CardioX workout to 3 days of the weeks in phase two, and 4 days of the weeks in phase three. This is adding in 2 hours and 15 minutes of workout a week in phase two, and three additional hours a week to phase three. I made it into phase three, second week (week 10 overall) and the holidays hit. Too much running around, really. Too many commitments with time, and a serious loss of will-power. This was the fail. I made the excuse that I have been going strong since April, so why not just take an extra week off? But I still didn't eat like a pig, or gain substantial weight or size, so this is good.

Now, if you look at the spread-sheet attached to this post, then you might see the dates don't add up. If I started in early October, then I should have been almost done by Christmas. Well, here's the other reason I had to press reset: during the middle of the second phase of this round, I had an abscess form under my right arm. Apparently the antiperspirant I was using found a way into my pores, clogged it up, and caused an infection. Sweet. I had a forced open hole in my armpit for a week or two, and then had to let it heal. So, time out for working out. Lesson learned: antiperspirant is product of the devil!

While this is no huge loss, I am a bit bummed out that this has kept me from reaching my weight/size goal for the new year. I wanted to be down to a size 32 waist for certain, and perhaps a size 30 if I could manage it. I am sitting pretty at 34, 215-220 lbs depending on the time of day I weigh myself (I was actually fluxing 10 lbs from morning to afternoon there for a while, is this normal?).

With all of that lost time, I just decided to reset the system and start over. Yes, I am going to do the doubles, again, I'm committed to getting through this. I'm still very, very pleased with the results from my 2 1/2 rounds of p90x so far, and as soon as I get through these doubles I want to try out the P90X Plus! routine, I'm looking forward to that. I also have my eye on a totally other program: Muscle & Fitnes System Home Training program. H'mmm. We'll see, I suppose. I don't think that one is as fine tuned as P90X. In the mean time, I have to get my momentum back, there's a noticeable loss of endurance and energy, so I seriously need to get that back. Yes, i can still get through the workout, but it's just that much more grueling after all of this lost time!

Well, after all of that, and a renewed commitment, looks like all I can do is to do my best, and forget the rest! (Thanks Tony!)

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p90x Round two....NAILED IT! What about you?

Well, three months later and I can say...round two...I nailed it! That's right, I finished another round of p90x! HA! The measurements and statistics are not in yet (haven't taken them yet) but I can say that I am comfortably wearing jeans that are 8 inches less round than when I started! HA! Take that, fat! So what does this mean? It means...on to round three. Already started it, considering doing the "doubles routine" (adding a whole world of cardio to month's two and three ON TOP OF the regular work-outs).This was a rough round, though. I injured my right shoulder pretty badly the very first day of this round...but I DID NOT STOP! You don't stop, you modify (Than You Tony Horton). I persevered, and it payed off.

So, I have been actually thinking about becoming an official P90X coach, I have been getting people into this thing (this weird...fitness thing) and that might even be more satisfying that the workouts themselves. Accomplishing something great for yourself is one thing, but being able to share that with someone else, enabling someone else to partake in something that has added to your immediate quality of life SO MUCH, well..that is another thing all together.

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I DID IT!!! what? p90x BABY!!!

Two days ago I spent an hour doing a series of relaxing, rejuvenating stretches. Over the course of the last three months I have gotten to set aside on hour per week to doing that, one of the things that keep me looking forward each week. After spending an hour to an hour and a half each of the other six days of the week grinding my way through grueling and vigorous work out programs, that stretch comes with a real sigh of relief. Not only is it a great relaxation, but it is a great moment of pride and accomplishments, since it means I have put one of the 13 weeks of the work-out cycle behind me. But the stretch I did two days ago came with even a greater sense of relief and pride, since it marked the FINAL DAY, and hence completion of a full round of the P90X workout program!!!

I DID IT!!!

Yes, I know what you're thinking..."Is he, then, now ripped?" Well...I can say I lost (at last count over a week ago) 3 inches, and about 20 pounds, have gained A LOT of muscle mass, am stronger and more flexible now than I ever have been...and it feels GREAT! I am going to do another round...another 90 days, and this time I am going to post before and after pics at the end, along with detailed measurements. To be honest, I was too ashamed of myself to take the obligatory "before" pics 3 months ago, but now I really wish I had, because I know that the change is phenomenal just from the way that I feel when I wake up every day! THANK YOU Tony Horton!

One last thing that I want to say about this. I have struggled with weight since I was in the 4th grade. Going through periods of excessive gain, to periods of profound skinniness...the unhealthy toothpick variety, and back again. Like a pendulum. But I have never been strong like this. I have never before 1) been more confident in my ability to keep the inches off 2) been more confident in my ability to become stronger, leaner, and healthier, and 3) been more confident of the fact that, while I am not in absolute, optimal fitness and shape, I am EXACTLY where I aught to be, and I am pretty damn proud of myself.

See you in 90 days.

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My Entire Body Is Sore

Well, here I am, on the 16th day of training on the p90x fitness program (which I mentioned here a few weeks ago), and I still have not 1) died from exhaustion or 2) simply given up! That's right kiddies, I am working on my 3rd week of this pretty INTENSE fitness program, and even though my body is stiff and pained EVERY DAY, I am plodding along (even dieting to go with it). I am proud of my once chronically unfit self.

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The challenge undertaken

So, I thought it worthwhile to mention that I have embarked on yet another journey. In a bold maneuver designed to take my life in a totally new and fresh direction I have decided to engage myself upon the worthy path of P90X!

That's right, I have gotten myself the Beachbody P90X fitness program, and at first glance, it's no joke. There are twelve different intense workouts that get all shuffled about, keeping you working (HARD) every single day. There is an incredibly detailed nutrition plan, and it leaves NO room for mistaking. This thing looks merciless, but I feel I'm up for the challenge.

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I QUIT SMOKING!

Stewie In Shock AnimationOne week ago today, was the first smoke free day. That's right, been one whole month..wait, week, yeah, only one week so far. Anyway...((twitch...jitter)) things are just dandy, been exercising a lot, running, lifting, etc. For the record, no patch, no gum, no nico-replacement of any kind, no hypnotism, no work book or anything like that.

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