Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My New Favourite Pre-workout Snack

It's actually a bit more of a mid-afternoon snack, so about an hour or so before we generally workout, but I've found that I definitely need a bit of a boost before the daily workout, or I just can't quite Bring It.

My current favourite snack has been plain Greek nonfat yogurt (apparently, Greek yogurt is much higher in protein than normal, and happens to taste totally creamy and delicious, even when it's nonfat!) mixed with a small handful of walnuts, a drizzle of agave nectar and a small amount of chopped fruit (most recently a deliciously ripe persimmon).

So delicious, so quick, and completely healthful! Yum.

Monday, December 10, 2007

P90X Lean - Halfway Point

Well, we've made it half way through the program. Phase II is not really all that different from Phase I, the only difference is the Shoulders & Arms workout got replaced by Chest, Shoulders and Triceps. This workout is quite a bit harder for me, because I am not so great with the pushups, but it's good to see that one of the people does them on her knees, so I don't feel so guilty about doing that as well.

The rest of the week is the same: Monday is our day off - and I love it! Tuesday is Core Synergistics, which I am still very fond of: it's challenging enough but satisfying at the same time. Wednesday is Cardio X, which is a bit too easy to me, but I've started supplementing it with a good hard short run beforehand and that really makes a difference.

Thursday and Saturday are the strength workouts, upper body and then Legs and Back, respectively. Friday is Yoga X, which is always daunting with its 40 minutes of Vinyasa in the beginning but ends quite nicely. I usually supplement Fridays with another short run, unless I manage to sneak one in on another day. And then Sunday, which has become Monster Sunday, with my long run or crazy sprint repeats followed by the beloved Kenpo X.

So here we are, halfway through the program, and I have to say, E and I both love it! E's arms and back are looking fantastic and we both feel great!! The nutrition plan has completely gone by the wayside now, and we've just been doing our best to eat a balanced diet, with enough protein, much less saturated fat and a decent amount of carbs.

Yay P90X! Can't wait to see the results photos...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Results - Post Self Challenge and Yourself! Fitness

Well, this is a bit out of date, but since I just got these photos, I thought I'd show you a bit of before and after. The first photo is from last February's Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon, before I began my first 90 day challenge. The second is from the SF half marathon in July, after I'd done the Self challenge, the Women's Health cycle and a whole bunch of Maya/Yourself! Fitness workouts. It helps that I'm wearing pretty much the same outfit.

Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon - Feb '07

SF Marathon - July '07

Sunday, November 18, 2007

P90X Lean - Done with Phase I

Well, we've survived Phase I - the last workout (Yoga X) was today. I'm still not doing the optional Stretching on Mondays because I still maintain I need the day completely off for sanity purposes. Also, it's optional.

Here's what I've determined this first month:

* Core synergistics is always harder than I think it'll be
* Cardio X is always easier than I think it will be
* Yoga X always has about 5 or 6 more Vinyasa/warrior etc. than I ever remember
* My core is pretty strong
* My upper body is really weak

This recovery week wasn't so bad and it was actually pretty timely, because I just looked at a calendar and realized that if I'm really running the Kaiser Permanente half marathon in early '08, I'd better start seriously running again. So today, before my Yoga X session, I went for an 8-mile run... It wasn't too bad, but it's all uphill from here! Next week, I have to do a 9-miler before my Kenpo X. That'll be fun.

Next week, not only do we begin Phase II, but we begin it while travelling. We've determined that we're going to need to take our bands (to replace the dumbbells we normally use), my push-up handles, and load the workouts onto my laptop. I almost feel like we need to take our yoga mats and blocks too. As well as the recovery drink and snack bars. Man, good thing we aren't checking any luggage!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I *heart* Kenpo X

It's true. Sundays have become my favourite workout day. It's not just that it's the last day of the week. If anything, that makes my body sorer and more exhausted by the time it rolls around. Having Kenpo X the day after Legs and Back is even harder because my shoulders and arms are killing me during the punching and blocking sequences and my legs and butt (oh, my poor butt) are so sore during the kicking.

I think what it comes down to is this workout is so much fun and so distracting. I mean, 5-7 minute blocks of punching or kicking with 2 minute jumping jack and other stuff interludes keep things varied enough that the workout is over before I know it. The 30-minute run we do pre-workout feels awesome! We get to the Kenpo and at first it feels like you're not gonna make it through the workout, with the run... but then next thing you know, it's over and you're pumped!

I spend the rest of the afternoon bouncing around the house, getting things done, super energized and kicking things.

OK. I'll admit it. I thing the main reason I love Kenpo X so much is all the punching and kicking. I love kicking combos. I love the hundred+ jabs at the end. But more than anything, I love Knuckles-Front Kick-Back Kick. I imagine that I'm fighting off two attackers at once, in the front and one in the back. *thwack* *thwack* *thwack* (OK... maybe that doesn't sound so tough to you, but it's lightning fast.)

Back when I was in college, I took Tai Kwon Do and it took years and years after I had stopped to stop kicking, blocking and punching around the house. Poor Big E... I'm once again a feisty ninja.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

P90X and The Runner

Having reached week three of the P90X Lean, I'm starting to get a hang of it and figure out how it's working out for me. The workouts are great - there isn't one that doesn't leave my whole body burning that good burn. The only thing that seems to be missing is maintaining my aerobic endurance. Now, normally, I don't get enough anaerobic exercise, so the P90X is a great change in that sense. It also is a great recovery phase in my running off-season.

However, now that it's been four weeks since my last race, I decided I was about ready to get back to some additional cardio. The workouts were satisfying but not quite scratching that running itch. It was time to work the running back in.

The main question was how frequently and what workouts to double up with. I am adamant about maintaining the sanctity of my rest day (for mental sanity purposes), so I first ran for a 30-min run before Kenpo X on Sunday. That worked out quite well, I felt great but definitely found that I'm losing a bit of my cardio endurance.

Monday is then off, and today we began our third week. (I'm thrilled to report that we were able to complete almost all of the moves this time and even added the bonus round! Yippeee!!) But I didn't think it would be a good day to double up. Tomorrow seems like a much better day. While I love Cardio X, and it gets my heart rate nice and high, it's not quite the same as a good hard run. So Tamsen and I are going for a run tomorrow afternoon, before Cardio X. Good times.

What other days would be good doubles days? Yoga X?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

New for P90X Lean: PlaChatQua

For all you fans of Core Synergistics, I'd like to present a new enhancement I created this week for Plank Chaturanga Run. Basically, you place yourself in plank position, begin the run, and just before you lower yourself into chaturanga, have a 5.6 earthquake throw you on your ass, make you wonder if you're drunk, and send you squealing like a weasel toward some uselessly perceived protection, like a doorway. Technically, it's called Plank Chaturanga Run-Like-Hell-It's-A-Quake!, but PlaChatQua is much more user-friendly.

For those of you not living in a quake zone, use this work-around:
- begin the exercise
- have a significant other or large pet kick you to the floor mid-plank
- play a pre-recorded message to yourself that proclaims you're going to die horribly OR will be subjected from this point forward to hourly updates on how Brangelina and the kids are doing, which will make you WANT to die
- spike your workout drink with Ex-lax so you crap yourself

Please note that this is not a Beachbody endorsed enhancement to the routine.

God, I miss tornado country.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

There's No Crying in P90X

Really, there isn't. Especially not in Legs and Back. It doesn't matter how hard you've been working all week, or how difficult pull-ups are for your weak little arms.

Especially since you were doing the pull-ups with your legs at an angle to make them easier.
And you were working hard, and not doing too badly, even if they were wussier pull-ups. You still pulled your way through 7.5 reverse grip ones. You were pretty psyched about that, weren't you?

And ten Wide Front Pull-ups! and then five more closed grip overhand pull-ups. Sure, those were pretty tough, but you did do five of them.

And the leg stuff was a piece of cake! I mean, sure your whole body was trembling in those wall squats, but you felt you could go on holding, didn't you?

So when you then got to your third Switch Grip Pull-Up, as you were lifting that last little bit to get your chin up to the bar, why did you feel your whole face pucker up into a cry? What's up with that? Of course you didn't cry - there's no crying in P90X!

But you almost did, didn't you? What's up with that? You still pushed your way through till the end of the workout. You still did a decent amount of good solid (though wussier) pull-ups. And you never did cry... but you felt it, didn't you? The whole rest of the workout you felt that part of you that wanted to cry lurking.

But you didn't give in. The only time you've ever given in to that was when you'd gotten to the end of your marathon and had been running since mile 7 with a pain in your hip. Or on your first relay, when you blew your legs out in the first 6-mile leg and then started running your third leg at 4am, in the pitch black on a deserted road, and your legs hurt so badly, you had to shuffle run until you finished. Then you may have cried a little.

But not in P90X. Not on your first week! What's up with that?!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yoga and Your Wrists

Yesterday was a lovely little recovery, with Yoga X. Don't go thinking that that means it was easy though. It wasn't! The first 20 minutes were a monster with the plank-downward dog-warrior combos again and again. Those were killing me, although not just because of how difficult they were.

My main problem is my intermittent carpel tunnel syndrome which has been flared up lately (because of too much video editing). How can one do yoga with this kind of a problem? For push-ups, I use push-up handles. But I haven't tried them with yoga. Has anyone had any experience with this before? Any advice would highly appreciated!

The rest of the workout was fantastic and much needed. The held poses for the second part of the workout were challenging without being too painful. And the third part, the stretching, was much needed! Now I feel ready to move on to tackle today's plan, Lower body and Ab ripper again. Hopefully this will give my wrists a break.

P90X Lean - Calling All Carbs!

OK, I made it through all of 2 full days of the nutrition plan before I failed. Though, again, given how I feel about the low carb thing, I'm not really sure I feel that I've failed. I went to work, editing with my lovely friend Jess, who is a fantastic chef. I spent an entire morning watching and cutting footage of the women in Italy cooking delicious looking meals. Lunchtime arrived, and Jess served up what I'd normally consider to be an incredibly healthful and quite tasty meal: fluffy baby brown rice* with a garbanzo beans salad. Now, I see it as more than my one-carb allotment in just one meal. Later afternoon, we had gluten-free crackers with peanut butter. Yet another carb. And what about those nuts? I still haven't figured that one out. I'll go look right now.

Oh right - they're a snack... it's probably alright then.

So while this meal did not represent a full on failure, it did bring me back to reconsidering what I'm doing with this meal plan and with this entire workout. I've spent most of my time lately researching how best to eat for ultimate performance and recovery (for my cookbook, The Athlete Gourmet). While I think it's important to try out different nutrition plans as part of my research, I don't know that adhering to something I strongly feel is wrong is a good way to go about my research. That being said, I'm moving on to Phase Two of the nutrition plan: Energy Booster. Big E is going to stick with Phase One a while longer, so we'll get a side by side comparison.

Meanwhile, we both continue to love the workouts! Cardio X, the second workout we did, might be my favourite thus far. It wasn't however what I expected: it was a lot more anaerobic workout than aerobic. (Which leads me to believe that I'm going to have to supplement this workout plan with some running, in order to maintain my cardio endurance) But I really loved all the kenpo moves, the kicking and whatnot. And then, Tony pulled out the Dreya Roll again. Good fun.

The next day was the Shoulders & Arms and Ab Ripper X. The first wasn't too tough for me, I think I've been doing enough lifting with Maya to find that workout manageable. Ab Ripper was a brute though, and I've always considered myself an ab machine! So far so good - Looking forward to this weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Superman Banana

Day 1 is down and it took me completely by surprise. The first surprise was the diet: it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be but that doesn't mean that I'm enjoying the one-carb thing. In fact, I discovered new carb-restricting-diet anger at the fact that my one carb a day includes beans and lentils! That's just terrible. I tend to eat a mostly vegetarian diet and rely upon those guys to complete my protein intake. A girl simply can't be expected to eat 7 servings of tofu a day!

So, I started my day with a tofu veggie scramble, hold the whole wheat toast (sniff). I thought my body would revolt right away, but it didn't. I felt fine. By 11am I was hungry again, so I had my cottage cheese (less than the 8oz serving size they recommend). It got tricky around lunchtime: I knew that Big E was having his one carb for lunch, and that I should do the same but couldn't decide between giving my carb slot to a bread or to beans. After much internal struggle (I *love* my bread), I opted for the latter. I got a mixed green salad with white beans, peas and nuts. Come to think of it, I don't really know where nuts belong in the portion chart. I'll have to go find my nutrition guide.

Our post workout drink was Clif Recovery drink... I just can't bring myself to use any of the P90x formulas because they don't use recognizable, organic ingredients. I prefer to stock up on Clif products and Hammer Bars. For dinner, I made boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a yogurt curry sauce and steamed green beans. I wasn't ever hungry, but didn't really use up all my portions for the day, as far as I could keep track.

The first workout, Core Synergistics, was the second surprise... It was tough! We had the bright idea of taking our fitness test right before our workout and that pretty much used up what I had in the way of push-ups. As for pull-ups, I was heartened to see that I could even include fractions of a pull-up in my fitness chart, so got set up at the bar and prepared to pull as hard as I can and maybe manage a quarter or third of a pull-up. No such luck. I pulled and I pulled and I pulled, Big E cheering me on, and I just hung there. At least I hang very nicely, according to Big E. Nice big zero in my chart.

Going through the core synergistics workout, we found ourselves giggling at Tony very often. Not just cause he's a goofball (which he is), not just cause some of the workout cues he gives are hilarious ("Superman... Banana... Superman... Banana..."), but mainly because of the absurdity of thinking that we can complete any more reps and yet he keeps going!

We did our best though, tried to complete as many reps as possible. I have to admit though, when we got to the bonus round, we quickly agreed we should probably just skip it till next time around. We were wiped out by our day 1 program.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

P90X Lean and The Dreya Roll

If you're one of the kind and thoughtful readers who's checking this blog out for the first time, and

  1. You've seen the ads, and you're really intrigued
  2. You want to put down the dough and go for it
  3. You're unsure/scared/worried it's too hard/don't believe the claims
then this is the post for you.

My last post here was in July, when, after 180 days of P90X (the latter 90 doing Doubles), I decided I was going to back out of the San Francisco Half Marathon I had been training for. I'd never backed out of a run before. I was a necessary decision, but it felt like hell. Since then, I've barely managed to keep any training up. Worse: P90X became a thing I kept moving around my house from place to place, because without being used daily, it had no place to be.

So today, as Sara and I start the third program in the P90 package, P90X Lean, I'm almost right back where I started. Weak upper body, chunky waist, a bit listless. Still fit - I ran the Nike Women's Half on Sunday - but, like before, not as fit as I thought.

I'm almost back where I started. This time, I know what I'll be at the end of 90 days: physically changed and freaking amazed.

Example: today, Day One, we did Core Synergistics, a sweet little focus program for the core (think body without arms or legs. Think the character Randian in Tod Browning's 1932 movie "Freaks" - yes I took you there, stop whining). There's this move at the end called the Dreya Roll which just made me laugh. You stand; you bend your legs, roll onto your butt, roll up on your back and let your legs go straight into the air. Then pull your legs back down and roll yourself - you laughing yet? - back onto your feet, and a standing position.

I couldn't do it. By the end of 90 days, I will have it aced. And this is why I love having this program in my life: what seems impossible now is my trophy in 90 days. I wish everything was like that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Countdown to Lean - 4!

So I actually spent more time yesterday reading the P90x nutrition plan yesterday and I realized I may have overreacted a bit... (shocking, I know!)

It seems that I would only have to try the 1-carb/day plan as long as it worked for me. If I found myself not doing well with only one carb portion a day, I could transition over to the next phase. Apparently the third phase is very high carb, for the endurance athlete. They explain that if you are already somewhat athletic when you begin, the first phase might not work, and as long as you try it for a day or two, you can move onto the next phase.

Well, I'll get off my high horse now and give this nutrition plan a serious whirl. In the meantime, since my horse is still right here and all saddled up, I'll get right back on it to bitch about this: what is up with Dean K and his neanderthal diet?!?!?! OK, some of the stuff he says makes sense to me, the whole eating organic, fresh fruits and veggies and lean meat. Avoiding refined sugars and simple carbs makes sense too. However, perhaps Dean was unaware of this, but there actually already is a neanderthal diet that was around a couple of years ago, near the height of the Atkins craze. It goes by many names, Paleolithic diet, Neanderthin, Eat like a Caveman... These diets promote completely avoiding grains, beans and dairy.

It's the reasoning that kills me! That cavemen didn't suffer from the plethora of ailments that plague modern woman. "Long live Neanderthal Man!" says Dean in his post. Well, guess what?! The average Neanderthal didn't really make it past his twenties, so it's no wonder he didn't get heart disease.

Bah. Anyway, I'm getting psyched to start the P90x - and not only is Tamsen doing it with me, but so is my husband, Big E. I created a google calendar for us (in red) and as Big E said when he saw it, that's a lot of red!

Today, Tamsen and I went for a little lunch hour run downtown, which was really fun, and then I had my tasty leftovers for lunch: butternut squash soup, a lettuce, garbanzo & sweet corn salad*, a carrot, and an apple. Delicious!

*can you believe we're still getting corn in our CSA box?!?

PS. Thank you, Dr. Weil!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Countdown to Lean - 7!

Seven days to go! Tamsen and I went on a 9 mile run (the beginning of our taper) during which we hit 3 of the 4 monster hills the Nike Women's Marathon has to offer. It went pretty well and I feel just fine today.

I started doing some reading up on the P90x nutrition plan. Now I know I've mentioned this somewhere before, but I really don't get diets. I like to focus on healthful, balanced nutrition that's tasty without being excessive (which is why I'm working on a cookbook for athletes). But that's not really the point here: I'm supposed to give this thing an honest evaluation, and I guess I can't just evaluate the workout plan without checking out its diet plan.

Right off the bat, I can tell you what will not work for me: the first week's carb plan. JUST ONE CARB UNIT A DAY?!? Are they kidding me? OK, I know that the low carb is still (sadly) all the rage and that it's a proven (albeit perhaps unhealthy) weight loss technique. Athletes however need their carbs, or at least, that's what I firmly believe. My stomach does as well. When I'm working out regularly and don't get any carbs at all, I feel ill most of the time. My stomach has trouble digesting my meals and I'm usually low energy. Of course, that doesn't mean that just any carbs will do... I make sure to have the best possible carbs in my diet, low on the glycemic index, as whole grain as possible.

Now I know some of you out there are die-hard believers in low-carb diets, but I just don't see this working for me. I'll have to check out this plan and look into possible substitutions, because I think it's highly unlikely I'd make it through phase one otherwise.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Countdown to My Next Challenge

Nine days!! woohoo!

Ok, I have to apologize... I've completely disappeared for quite a while. So I decided to do the P90x Lean, and kept trying to figure out when to start it. I was able to recover enough from my cough two weeks before the Portland marathon to go for a medium long run and try to recover my training loss, when WHOMP! Smacked again, this time by a stomach virus. And it took me out of the game for over a week.

Sometimes, I feel like my body is sending me messages: don't do it! You need rest! But of course, I ignore it. After a while, my body gets fed up with all the ignoring, and shuts my system down completely, leaving me no choice but to hide in bed, with a fever, incapable of moving.

Ok, fine, I get it. So I rested for a whole two weeks, and then I bailed on my full marathon (on strict doctor's orders) and only ran the last 14 miles to keep my running buddy company. The good news is, it went pretty well. I didn't feel so ill anymore and it actually made me truly hungry for the first time in a while!

So I'm back to working out - still easing my way - and with the Nike Women's Half Marathon next week, I've finally set a start date for the P90x Lean: two days after that race (one full day of recovery from the run, then begin my Cardio X on Tuesday the 23rd). And even better, both Tamsen and I are doing it at the same time, and will compare notes on our respective experiences.

To ease my way back into working out, with my system as weakened as it's been, I started with just an easy 30 minute run, here and there. I also did a couple of ab workouts and lower body workouts with Maya. Those have been more interesting lately because we bought a step and that's expanded the range of new workout moves that I've been able to do. I also got a heart rate monitor for my birthday, and learning to use this has been fun. Then lately, I've added some hill training and have a 10 mile run tomorrow.

Well, anyway - nine days to go! I plan on spending some time this week figuring out my schedule and examining the eating plan. Who knows how closely I'll follow that though...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Posts by Sara

Coming soon!!!

Posts by Tamsen

*Cough Cough Cough*

I finally made my decision last week about my next 90: P90X Lean! I figured with the intensive running I'm doing, gearing up for the Portland Marathon on October 7th and the Nike Women's half a few weeks later, I should stick to a less intensive start. Plus, the Lean program seems to have more cardio that I can easily add or swap in my running for.

There it was - was happy with my decision, planning the best day to begin. Then I ran my 20 mile training run two sundays ago... It went pretty well, considering this was a jump up from 16 and the longest I'd run in a long time. Then I went to Oakland for a concert (Pink Martini... fabulous!!) and came home with a strange warmth in my chest, not brought on by the greatness of the show. A little bit of a wheeze, a tad of a dry hacking cough. Not good.

Sure my immune system was a bit low (I really need to start taking multi-vitamins and immune boosters after my really long runs). But I blame Oakland! Rumour has it a cough has been "going around" there, whereas all my SF friends have been cough free.

So I took a few days off, figuring it'd be best to take it easy with this, what with the marathon coming up so soon, and another 20 miler due this past sunday. But by sunday, the cough was not only still there, it was worse. And I'd been so good, too! Taking my expectorant regularly, drinking lots of liquids... So finally today, a week later, I called to make a doctor's appointment. And I haven't run, let alone started my P90X Lean at all. I feel terrible.

*cough cough*

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Getting Back On Track

I've been gone for so long and completely lost my second 90 day set finale...
What can I say, despite my unwillingness to believe it, weddings really do swallow up your life. From the Sunday before our wedding (when the family members showed up) till two and a half weeks later when I got back from the wedding continuation trip (no honeymoon for us), all I did was two runs: one hard angry 30-min run on rehearsal day (can I just say I run harder and quieter when dealing with family wedding-related crazies?*) and one lovely sunny hour long run on the day of the wedding.

That's it. No strength and no cardio even once the initial wedding dust settled. OK, there was one night of regular dancing, one night of belly dancing lessons and a full night of obligatory belly dancing as part of my second wedding celebration. There was also some frisbee throwing in the sea and some recreational swimming. But that's it!

So now I'm back in town, ready to get back on track, feeling a bit heavier after 2 weeks of feasting and the lighter workout load. My main question is what do I do? For the rest of this week, I'll just ease my way back into working out with a run here and there and some visits with Maya (hopefully she'll be understanding). But then what? I dropped the ball on the Women's Health Magazine plan, but aside from the one week kick off, that workout plan didn't do much for me.

People who've noticed that I lost weight this past year keep attributing it to the fact that I was getting married, either as in "When I was a bride, I was so stressed I hardly ever ate!" or "Trying to get in shape for the wedding, eh?" Which is totally fine, if that's what my motivator was. But it wasn't. My motivation stemmed from a number of things, but primarily developing a good research foundation for the athletic cookbook I've been working on.

My goal for 2008 is to run 8 races (half marathon and up). And for that, I'd like to be in as good shape as I can be. So I will continue to ponder what my next workout plan will be...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

So Slacking

sara ran the san francisco half on sunday. I. DID. NOT.

knees. 'nuf said.

this is my first run blow-off. can i just say that wandering haight street with a hot coffee spiked with bourbon just after 8:00 a.m. was delightfully wicked? too late for your approval, i just said it.

and in case you were wondering, this is completely and utterly in line with the P90X recovery week program that gleefully resides in a parallel universe.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Switch it Out

Two things crossed my path this week, both promoting the ever-increasing acknowledgement that Different is More: one was an article in the July 2007 issue of Harper's Bazaar about a one-month makeover; the other was a post to a blog my friend Stacie sent me about fat marathoners (see top left of this blogsite for the reason we started Ti90).

The article was by a writer who had taken an assignment from HB to do a month of training with one of Madonna's trainers, using an idea that's familiar to anyone bouncing around in the P90X world: be consistent, but switch it out. The writer's training called for a new routine every 10 sessions. By the end of the month she'd dropped four dress sizes and 10 lbs. (I'd like to hear about her in six months to see if she maintained.)

The blog post is by a fabulous fitness fanatic girl geek who calls herself Skwigg. She analyzes the paradox of running distances and gaining weight. She describes some of the theories that abound on the subject, but concludes with the one that got me here in the first place: muscles have memory; train them using only one method and they will plateau. (Her "If they'd just...throw up a lung for 20 minutes" comment is priceless, and right on point.)


These cosmic pings all happened during the same week I decided to mess with Phase Two of Doubles. Instead of three weeks of crazy upper body and pounding cardio, I'm doing four weeks so that my "rest" week falls immediately before the San Francisco Half Marathon. Yeah, it went through my mind: I'm defeating the purpose of the "muscle confusion" plan. But if I had stayed on track...well, here's the complicated algorithm: 6 solid days of lower body stress + 13.1 miles = Cranky Bitch at Finish Line.

Conclusion: Switch it out, but don't bitch it out.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

P90X Food

Just before I started P90X, I wrote about what Sara just referred to, the EGGPOUNDER 4000 portion of the meal plan. Basically, the P90X program includes a food plan to ensure maximum results, and one approach offered is a weekly menu plan.

Aside from the enormous (for me) amount of food I would have eaten if I'd gone by the menu, I would also have gone broke. Here's a sample shopping list from the first two days of the program:

Fat-free turkey, Extra lean ham, Salmon, Fat-free chicken broth, shrimp,
Cottage Cheese, fat-free mozarella, fat-free milk, string cheese, 8 eggs
Wild rice
Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, strawberries, romaine lettuce, hearts of palm, avocado, asparagus, red onion, red and yellow bell peppers, celery, garlic, bananas, blueberries, ginger, broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts, green beans, shallots, butternut squash
Low-fat dressing, tomato paste
2 Protein Bars, 2 Recovery Drink, Soy Nuts, Protein powder, sesame seeds, cashews
White wine

For me and my happy-slappy singletude, this is about $80 of groceries that ordinarily would be enough food for over a week, not just two days. The rest of the week's menu tacks on, among other items: steak, chicken breast, quinoa, turkey bacon, soy sausage, spinach, grapefruit, pork, tuna, cantaloupe, swordfish...and 24 more eggs.

I moo now.

I abandoned the meal plan quickly, although I used some of the recipes. Fortunately, the program includes a portion control approach, which breaks down each day's meals into blocks of proteins, carbs, dairy, fruits, vegetables, fats, snacks and condiments. There's also a guide to what plan-positive foods fall into those blocks, and and what serving sizes they should be. That worked for me, even though - as the plan clearly warns against - I tended to undereat.

What the portion control guide allows for is small portions all day long; what it doesn't allow for is when someone gets so fed up and bored thinking about what to eat when, she opts for a dinner of edamame, a PowerBar and water with Emergen-C.

Eh. So I don't get it right every time. The next day I open the nutrition plan book and look for a day of food I think I can handle financially, physically and, strange to say, emotionally. Maybe salmon with lemon-dill sauce, asparagus, rice and soup is a dandy dinner, but I have enough PowerBars just in case.

Where to Find P90X

A reader recently left a comment asking where to find the virtual purchase point for P90X: it's on You'll find it, among several other programs (like Yoga Booty Ballet, which sounds so girly I want to grab balls I don't have and vocalize in monosyllabic grunts) under "Best Sellers."

*grunt*...X goooood...*grunt*

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Booty Boot Camp - Month One

I've transitioned into month two of the Women's Health Deadline Diet (aka the booty bootcamp) and have found it only somewhat satisfying thus far. For starters, after the week 1 intensive, the next three weeks are a bit too easy for my taste: They only include two 30-45 min cardio
workouts per week, two upper body workouts, two lower body and only one core workout.
That just doesn't feel like it's enough.

So of course, I've been ignoring that and doing more than the bare minimum. I've been doing 3-4 cardio workouts a week - usually one long training run, two 30-45 minute runs and one cardio session with Maya.

The Strength workouts have been varied: whenever possible, I've done the WH ones. Sometimes, however, that hasn't been possible due to a lack of equipment. Often, I've felt that the workout wasn't challenging enough and ended up doing an additional Maya workout. I have found some of the WH workouts interesting though, and have occasionally tossed one in the middle of a longer Maya workout. This Core #5 one, for example, is great: I really enjoy having the change of pace from all floor core moves. I don't know that it is quite enough on its own though and felt the need to supplement the workout.

By the time I finished the fourth week, I found that I was beginning to slack a bit. The fourth week found me barely completing 3 cardio workouts and hardly finishing the second sets of upper body and lower body strength workouts. But that's where the structure of this series comes in handy. By the end of week 4, I found myself feeling guilty for having slacked off and highly motivated to get back on track... just in time for a new Booty Boot camp intensive week.

Week one of the second month, while not quite as intense as the first time around, is once again challenging with two strength workouts a day for the first three days. Sets you right back on track.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

In Praise of Chest and Back

After I moved on to Phase Two this time around, I realized I was going to regret losing one segment: Chest and Back. Hey, it's all about muscle confusion, so even the good friends have to go by the wayside for now.

Not that its replacement, Shoulders, Chest and Torture - er, Triceps - is anything to sneeze at, but there's something fundamentally satisfying about C+B: the pull-ups. C+B has six sets of them, more than any other segment.

I don't know many women who can honestly pull off a pull-up, not even one full-effort pull. I'm not sure I even managed one when I was a kid hanging from my paws on the jungle gym in elementary school (all I remember is dangling like a sock monkey, wondering how to move to the next rung). At my gym, Club One, I have only been able to do pull-ups on those weight-balanced thingies (yeah. spent so much time on that machine I got to know it by name).

Back in April during my X-Files reverie, I noted two important things about pull-ups: one, that bands will get you part-way there, but not all the way; and two, the closer I was getting to doing pull-ups on a bar, the more motivated I was to conquer them. Both still true sentiments, except that I never got to the gym to take my pull-ups to the next level. When push came to shove (which was gathering myself and my gear after the Sunday long run and jumping in the car) I usually declined and just pressed Play. For the entire first phase I wondered why I made this decision every week and now that I'm a week out of it I just figured it out: I never really believed I could do a pull-up on a bar.

Hey, flailing and grunting at home is one thing; doing it in public around a bunch of fit people is another.

I'm not worried that much about it. I increased the tension tenfold on my band pull-ups, and have gained that strength. During the second phase I'm working different muscle combinations; in the third I'll have two more shots at C+B pull-ups, six times each. If there's a test for the overall success of P90X for me, that is what it will be: taking my elementary school self to Club One on July 22 (Day 1 of week 9) and seeing (or deciding) whether I can pull my chin over a metal bar, in public, for all to see. If I can't...then I'll try again on August 5, week 11.

After all, a girl can only go so long before pulling herself up and testing the stuff she's made of.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm No Eggpounder

Back when we first started these challenges, Tamsen and I called the PX90 the "Eggpounder 4000" because of its meal plan which is highly dependent on egg whites. Lots of them. So when I baked a cake to take up to our landlord's last night and the recipe called only for egg yolks, I packed up the four remaining whites into a tupperware and stashed them in the fridge, deciding I'd use them for my breakfast today.

In the past, whenever I've kept white after using the yolks (or vice versa), inevitably, I'd find the unwanted egg remnants a couple of weeks later when I go searching for the cause of a foul stench in my fridge. This time, I decided things would be different. I often have an egg or two (preferably soft cooked) for breakfast and figured I'd go for the healthy scramble: 1 full egg + a couple of whites.

I chopped up an red potato (courtesy of my CSA box), drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with rosemary salt and baked them in the oven for half an hour. I scrambled up my eggpounder scramble (albeit somewhat light on the pounder... I believe the PX90 plan calls for 4 egg whites and I decided to only use half that amount with 1 full egg.)

The result? I'm really not a fan. I can't imagine having used all four of those. I really believe the egg is perfect just the way it is and I don't need to go messing with its benefits by separating out the poor innocent (and so tasty) yolks.

On the plus side, maybe my 2-full-eggs for breakfast plan isn't so bad after all. I mean, I just had my fitting for my wedding dress and it turns out I've lost two inches since I was last there in April. So my Self Challenge combined with my own normal eating plan (ie. can't follow a diet) seems to be working out alright. And now I have to go back in July for another fitting.

Monday, June 11, 2007


thank you, david chase. that man knows a good song.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


am i the only one who thinks that BOOTY BOOT CAMP is a great title for a porn movie?

P90X in Balance

I'm toward the end of my second week of P90X Doubles. Technically, I'm only supposed to start doubles after 4 weeks, but Running Abides (three repeats of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" did the speed trick today. don't run to Steve Perry scaling the vocal heights? Pshaw.)

The first 4-week phase is exactly like regular P90X:
1. Chest and Back with Ab Ripper
2. Plyometrics
3. Shoulders and Arms with Ab Ripper
4. Yoga X
5. Legs and Back, Ab Ripper
6. Kenpo
7. Rest or X Stretch

Last time my P90 week started on Monday, but that required I skip a cardio because the 7th day was always a 5+ mile run. This time, and once again going against Dr. Horton's orders, I'm doubling ahead of time (remind me I'm a dumbass if I crash again). And now Sunday is Day 1:

Sunday: Long run; chest/back/abs
Monday: Plyometrics
Tuesday: Short run; shoulders/arms/abs
Wednesday: Yoga X
Thursday: Short run; legs/back/abs
Friday: Kenpo
Saturday: Rest AND X stretch

That's precisely what doubles is: adding 3 cardio sessions to the regular P-routine. Sunday it's magic as well as Tuesday and Thursday. But the day from hell is Monday.

See, the Plyo workout is fun, I mean REAL fun, like the kind of fun you have with a bunch of friends on a soccer field or basketball court: lots of variety, backs and forths, ups and downs. It's the only workout where I'm not checking to see how much longer I have.

Fun, yes. Easy? HELL no. And now it's scheduled for the day after a long run, and daaaymn gettin all bouncy the day after that is - well, let's just say if I could audition for a russian babushka from the knees down I'd get all the parts: my ankles look like sausages from Satriale's (had to get my Sopranos reference in before Sunday). Glucosamine is my friend.

I'd move Plyo to Saturday and make Monday a rest, but rest on a workday, where I'm ass-planted all day, is a bad start to the week. Instead I'll switch out Yoga and Plyo .

Anyway, the point is that I realized P90X in all its manifestations is not for fitness rookies. P90X is a really good program, but I doubt anyone starting out gets through it without a hitch. Balancing upper and lower body workouts, knowing what time of day works for an intense effort, knowing how to supplement and fuel, and most importantly knowing when to back off, are all things I learned through endurance training (and I don't mean run/walk marathons, although that's how this entire saga began) and am putting to constant use with P90X, when I'm smart enough to remember them.

Now if I can just get through Kenpo without looking like an octopus in a blender, I'll be just fine.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Booty Boot Camp - The Rest of Week 1

I have to admit, this first week did nothing but get harder. After the first two days, Day 3 showed another cardio workout (30 minutes this time) and Lower Body Strength workout #1. For cardio, I did a 30 minute run at a pretty good clip and then did the Lower Body workout.

This was actually a bit more challenging for me than the previous two strength workouts: It consisted of two sets of ten 1 & 1/4 squat. Challenging enough. Next, a band crossover. I ditched this move because I didn't have the proper equipment. Then I did the Half Frog - two sets of 12 reps. And lastly, the wobble board balance and sit. I happened to have a wobble board because Big E had bought one for some ankle rehab, and this move was VERY challenging. Since I dropped one of the moves, I did some of the Maya lower body squats and lunges to make up for the missing move, however, since yet again they didn't tell me what my target muscle groups were, I didn't really know what I could do instead.

The next day, Thursday, brought another 30 minute cardio workout and Core Workout #2. For the cardio, I was back with a cardio session with Maya. The Core workout only featured 3 moves and two of them, I could not do because of a lack of equipment (the Ball and the Bosu) so after doing two sets of 12 reps of the 60º sit ups, I added a couple of other good core moves: some V-Ups and some other pilates favourites.

Friday came with a 35 minute cardio workout (a lovely run with Tamsen) and Upper Body #2 workout. This was a good and straight forward one... well, mostly. I did three sets of 12 bench presses (could not do these at an incline since I did not have a bench that can incline), could not do the lat pulldowns due to a lack of equipment, did three sets of 10 lateral raises with 8lb weights (that was really tough for me!), three sets of ten hammer bicep curls and three sets of 12 tricep dips.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was exhausted and it took everything I had to make myself do a workout. I really just wanted a day off at this point (being somewhat hungover probably didn't help my motivation). But thanks to a huge amount of moral support from Big E, I talked myself into doing my 40 minutes of cardio (a good session with Maya) and my Lower Body #2 workout: two sets of 12 Plié Squats, two sets of 12 Bar Bridges (I don't have a bar, so used 2 8lb weights), two sets of 12 side kicks and two sets of 10 ankle bounces. This workout was not nearly as challenging as the last lower body workout, but I didn't mind at all since I was exhausted and had a long run set for the next day.

I was a bit worried about this long run. I'd set out to do about 8-10 miles (as a bit of a taper before next week's half marathon) but having it come at the tail end of this full week of workouts, I wasn't sure how I'd do. For the Booty Boot camp, I only had to complete 30-45 minutes of cardio today (Sunday). That was not going to be a problem. However, the run was very difficult and I've been exhausted all day since then. I ended up only running 7.5 miles but decided that was fine. The fun part is that Paula Radcliffe then came on and congratulated me on completing my first 500 kilometres since I'd begun running with my Nike+ ipod on January 24th this year. So despite being exhausted and thoroughly worn out, I was proud of myself for not only completing this week of intensive working out and for having run so much this year.

The workout goes on to sketch out the next three weeks of workouts but does allow for 1-2 days of rest. I'll be taking one of those tomorrow. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Booty Boot Camp - The beginning (days 1&2)

The Deadline Diet begins with an intensive first week - 7 days of working out in a row. The cardio starts at 20 minutes and builds up until day seven, when I'm supposed to do up to 45 minutes of moderate-maximum intensity cardio.

The first problem I've encountered is that I don't have a heart rate monitor. Yesterday's 20 minutes of moderate cardio (60-70% MHR*) seemed easy: Schleef and I headed out for a 14 mile run starting in Crissy field and had gotten past Fisherman's Wharf, and a ways down the Embarcadero (4+ miles or 44 minutes according to my Nike+) when my girlie woes hit a new low. I had a few cramps when I started running, but had always heard that exercise was supposed to lessen the pain, so I ran. When I was doubled over in pain after 44 minutes of running, nauseous and barely capable of walking, I decided that another 10 miles weren't going to help. We took a cab back to our car at the start. It's funny - I'd sometimes joked about taking a cab back to the start but never actually thought I would do it.

Regardless, my 44 minutes of running definitely seemed to cover the 20 minutes of moderate intensity cardio, so after I'd taken some ibuprofin and a 2 hour nap, I decided to tackle the rest of my requirements of the day: Core Workout #1.

First, the workouts are not available in the magazine, only online. I wasn't too crazy about that, but they were fairly easy to find and were available in slide show format (no audio or video downloads, but then again, Self didn't exactly do that part right either).

So what was Core Workout #1? Three core exercises:

#1 - Prone Plank: One of my favourites. They say to hold for 20-60 seconds each rep. No problem. How many reps? 2 sets of 10-12. Huh??? That's how many sets of push ups I'd expect to do, not of planks! I only held each for 30 seconds because I knew so many were coming, and I had a hard time completing the first set, let alone the second. But first thought is that this was a mistake, but then again, there were only three moves in this workout, so it is possible that it was intentional.

#2 - Locust: Holding each for 5-10 breaths. Again, 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Wah! Exhausting, but I did 2 sets of 10, holding each for 5 breaths. Almost.

#3 - Seated Ball Stabilizer. Sadly, I don't have a ball I could sit on, so I sat on the wobbliest of my bed and tried the move, but don't feel like I was getting anything from it. Also, it didn't say how many reps I should complete for this move, so I was assumed it was the standard 2 sets of 10-12.

Overall, the workout did not feel all that challenging.

Today, I had to do 25 minutes of moderate intensity cardio and Upper-Body Workout #1. For the cardio, I chose to do the Yourself! 30 minute cardio workout. It turned out to be only 22 minutes of cardio, so I paused the program and did an additional 3 minutes of jumping jacks to finish up. I don't know if it was actually moderate intensity or not but it was a higher intensity than the run yesterday.

I then finished the last few minutes of the Yourself! workout: some squats, pliés and the evil squat-lunges with bicep curls and flies. Then I moved onto the Upper-Body workout:

#1 - Bench Press with Dumbells: Straight forward enough - 2 sets of 15 reps with 8 lb weights, using foam roller as a bench (adds a bit of core work to the movement since you need to stabilize on the roller).

#2 - Standing V-Pull: This move required a machine, which I don't have, and since the workout doesn't specify an alternate or which muscles this move targets, I decided to do overhead presses - 2 sets of 15 reps with the 8lb weights.

#3 - Stability Ball Chest Press - Aside from the stability ball (which I still don't have), this move doesn't seem any different from the previous bench press, so I just did another two sets of 15 on the foam roller: it doesn't require as much core work, but 4 sets of intermediate core stabilizing is better than none.

#4 - Biceps Curls - 2 sets of 15 reps with 8lb weights. Nothing new here.

#5 - Rotating Triceps Kickbacks - Same as the usual kickbacks that I do, but with an arm twist at the end to turn the palms facing the ceiling. 2 sets of 15 reps with 8lb weights.

This workout felt more effective than yesterday's core workout.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tiny 90 - Phase Two: WH's Deadline Diet

For my second round of Tiny 90 challenging, I've decided to stick with the magazine theme and try out a plan in this month's Women's Health. The plan, called the deadline diet, is actually scalable to work for 1 week, 1 month or 60 days.

The Deadline Diet includes a workout plan and, as the name might indicate, a day to day meal plan. If you've paid any attention to my efforts with the Self Challenge you know that I am not so good with the meal plans, but I'll at least give it a shot. I will have to scale it up a bit though, since it is only 1400 calories, and I'll be running far too much to be eating that little.

I tend not to be fond of diets as it is, and don't really like this plan's name, but the first week is called the booty boot camp, so I think from now on, that will be what I call this thing.

So to get started, here are my current statistics:

Height: 5'9"
Weight: 157lbs
Waist circumference:30in
Hip circumference: 44in
Left thigh: 24in
Right thigh: 25.5in
Run/walk a mile in: 9:16 min.
Can max the Self Challenge tests for squats (50 in a row) and for crunches (60 in a row) and can do 20 pushups (bent knee. Hey, when I started, I could only do 10!!!)

Ready to go! My first day is Monday the 28th of May!

P90X: Lessons, Progress and The One Thing

Friday, May 25 was the end of our first 90-day trial for our two or three programs (Note: Sara's Self Magazine Challenge was less than challenging, so she added on Yourself! Fitness' kickass cyber-training with Maya, the virtual cutie pie of screaming musculature). I followed P90X with enthusiasm until around the sixth week. I got another four to five weeks in before my shoulders threatened to secede. We start our second 90 days tomorrow; I'm taking on P90X Doubles (the regular program but two workouts a day - I was almost doing that with my running + P90). I thought it would help to remind myself of what just went on...

Regardless of time missed, I did have progress:

- Definte improvement in upper body strength
- A greater overall fitness in just a few weeks
- An advancement in certain abilities (push-ups, flexibility, balance)
- A much better understanding of how to make the program work

On that last one, understanding how to make it work, I had to be taught a few lessons:

- Ignoring recovery weeks was a rookie mistake.

- Sometimes less is more: I really didn't need the heavier weights on some of those moves.

- The menu plans, while appearing to be an awful lot of food (Confession: I never fully subscribed to the EGGPOUNDER 4000 plan. Who the hell wants to eat 18 egg whites every week?) were on target for the most part. It requires a lot more cardio, at least for me, to justify those quantities. While I was running alongside the P90X plan, I was running long, slow miles, which doesn't really kick in the afterburners. In this next 90 days I'll know how to use those calories.

- Supplement, supplement, supplement. I didn't go for any of the Beachbody products because they inexcuseably leave ingredient lists to our imagination on their products page. (Do they really think we don't care? Mui stupido.) I used Clif Recovery and Electrolite powders, Clif protein bars and Hammer Nutrition's Perpetuem and yummy energy bars (I tried and rapidly discarded Hammer's recovery formula; the Xylitol sweetener, while natural and low-glycemic, is too cloying for me). But those balancing, endurance and recovery solutions made a huge difference.

And the one thing? Another re-learned lesson: it doesn't work if your head isn't in the game until way past overtime.

p.s. even after 90 days I still say "P90X" like the dude from Monster Jam

Friday, May 18, 2007

Mistake of Enthusiasm

My Tiny90 partner, Sara, is in her last week of her Self (non) Challenge; because I re-did that week a month ago, I technically have one more week.

However, I made one serious error, a very common one. As you can tell from these posts, I'm an enthusiastic supporter of P90X. It's well-planned, well-executed, fun and produces visible results. So I got all excited about my progress, how it felt, how fit and strong I was becoming and how I was progressing. A few weeks ago I went to my favorite place in San Francisco, SportsBasement (we heathens who sweat call it Church) and bought heavier bands for the last weeks of the program. It's time, I thought, I can take this on! I'm doing so well! URRRRRG. I quickly had a flare-up of bursitis in both shoulders and could barely push myself up out of bed in the morning.

Such a rookie mistake, but an easy one to make. Enthusiasm, while good for the long haul, is dangerous in the short-term. It's easy to trick yourself into pushing harder than you should - a classic lesson I learned in marathon training was "Don't let the excitement of the event push your pace." Different scenario, same mistake. I decided not to "make up" the lost time, which has ended up being two weeks. Instead I'll take the end of my program at the same time as Sara and start over...doing P90X Doubles.

Hey, it was a rookie mistake, but I haven't lost the enthusiasm. Lesson learned; no backing down. I still have a finish line ahead of me, 90 days from...uh, whenever Sara says :-).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Last Call for the Self (non) Challenge

Here it is, the final week... How did the Self Challenge hold up? It didn't seem to be nearly as challenging as it was in previous years. The workout requirements were all very manageable (when I wasn't both sick and travelling at the same time).

I finished up quite strongly (well, it's not over yet, but this week is looking good thus far).
I'm still doing way more cardio than required and I've taken to doing one Yourself! Maya cardio session with my 3 or 4 runs each week. The strength training portion is the hardest but with Maya yelling at me each time I miss a session, I've been doing alright.

I seem to have settled roughly around 157 pounds, which is fine for now although I'd be happy if I lost another 5 pounds or so.

The best result of all came during the relay last week: I ran my fastest pace yet - a 9'16" minute mile. Wheee... I'm hoping my continued training will move me along further along in that arena.

Most interesting is that although my upper body is noticeably thinner, my lower body is now larger. My hip and thigh measurements are both bigger than before, and while many pairs of slacks are quite a bit looser around the waist, some pairs are tighter around the bootay. Can that just be the muscle from all the training?

I'm trying to decide whether to give myself a challenge-free week between this program and my next (still secret) 90 day plan. I might just play it by ear this weekend. I'm already back on running training track: I have two half marathons coming up very shortly, so it's not really like I can back off of my training. Maybe it's time for me to try out the p90x???

Friday, May 4, 2007

The SickFreak Thing

Got a guy a know, I've mentioned him before: Jim Karanas. Club One trainer extraordinaire and their NorCal fitness director. Savvy, knowledgeable, motiviated, enthusiastic. Resident SickFreak.

You know what I mean if you're involved with P90X at all - Tony Horton doing Plyo Push-ups. That's what I'm talking about. Don't take it like it's a bad thing; it's the "I have this body, WHAT CAN IT DO?" thing. Push it. Tweak it. Where is the edge and what does it look like? Where is the space before the space where I break? Being the Chuck Yeager of physical development.

Jim Karanas is a respected trainer partially because he sets the challenges high and trains with the team. I have watched dozens of people take on events they would have laughed at without Jim Karanas: Indoor Rowing competitions, The Davis Double, even climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The true SickFreak event here in California is The Death Ride. Watching someone get through that is an experience in itself.

I bring this up because Matthew, an X-er who has commented here a few times, confessed to his very own SickFreak moment inspired by his new P90X level of fitness: he decided it would be fun to go down a flight of stairs doing push-ups (Matthew it's official, per me: you're now a registered member of the SickFreak club).

This is what I love most about the X: work the program, see the physical change then feel the mental shift. Suddenly, your body is part of your playtime arsenal; you scan the web for cool triathlons, Ultimate Frisbee becomes a passtime, you choose a vacation spot for the free climbing - if it's challenging, it's fun. Instead of thinking you're not fit enough to ride a 129 mile-long course with 15,000 feet of climbing in under 14 hours (that's why they call it The Death Ride), you think, "Huh. I could do that. That sounds cool." The mental shift is profound, life-changing. As Jim told us in Performance Max, his endurance strength program, "This program will change your life because it will change the way you think." Damn straight it did. So does P90X.

If you're wondering if you have a SickFreak in you, here's what to look for, using the Death Ride comment above: the "I could do that" portion is a logical progression for the physically fit; the "...that sounds cool," however, makes you a SickFreak. Own it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

What *Does* A Girl Need?

I've been thinking, ever since my latest Yourself! fitness evaluation, about what I need really.
According to Maya, it's upper body strength. According to my own changing body image, I need to lose about 5 pounds, an inch or so each around my waist and my hips.

Looking back at when I first started the Self Challenge, I entered my measurements:

Height: 5'9"

Weight: 161lbs
Waist circumference: 30in
Hip circumference: 41in
Left thigh: 25in
Right thigh: 25in
Run/walk a mile in: 10 min.

So let's see where I am now, after two and a half months of the challenge.

Weight: 158lbs
Waist circumference:30in
Hip circumference: 44in (um... huh? did I mismeasure this the first time?!?!)
Left thigh: 24in
Right thigh: 25.5in
Run/walk a mile in: 9:26 min.

Well now... I don't know if that qualifies as "improvement." I try to not count weight loss as improvement since it's really hard to tell, and muscle weighs more than fat. Normally I'd go with measurements, but I'm pretty sure my increased thigh size is due to all the running, since I'm a bit right-legged and that one seems to be getting bigger. My legs definitely don't look fatter - they look pretty toned and muscled.

As for the hips - who knows what's going on there?!
The only clear improvement is the faster mile. Now that's something I'm proud of.

So in the meantime, while I'm deciding what to focus my workouts on, I'm still unsure what to pick. Maya still thinks I need a stronger upper body, which may be true, but I am inclined to think I need more cardio. What to do, what to do...

Ups and Downs of Upper and Lower

The balancing act of late has been akin to the side plank (from the Shoulders, Chest and Triceps* set - Yoga Journal online has a picture of this pose). How to balance sudden shoulder irritation with lower fatigue? Tricky.

Bursitis in both shoulders lept into my world last week, so this week I stepped back and gave *SCT a rest, which I have grown to love (my shoulders have great definition, my triceps are trimming up and Push-ups Are My Friends), as well as Back and Biceps, just in case. Alas, it also eliminated Yoga X from the process so I was left with Plyometrics (also a favorite), AbRipper and Legs and Back.


The Relay is this weekend. My race segments (#5, 17 and 29) are not terribly challenging, but Plyo and Legs and Back have utterly kicked my lower body during this second phase, leaving my running legs - uh - irritable. Cranky. Bitchy. "Why are we running?? You just worked us, COW!"

Never listen to your legs. (Well, until you hear the "SCHK!" sound of the switchblade.)

Ideally, this week would have been about water - easy laps in the pool, perhaps a bit of water running. But water takes time, time I didn't have. So I've spent the week doing relatively nothing in the P90X set, and taking on a tapered week of running. I missed the X, it left a void...all week I have had this odd sense of having left the gas on (ref: Eddie Izzard on squirrel reflections, about 1:13 in).

Gratefully, my shoulders are aching for a workout, so it will be back to the routine on Monday. It was an easy week physically, a tough week mentally. Unbalanced. I kept looking for something that wasn't there.

Monkeys thin on the ground, folks.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Creeping Along The Self-Challenge Way

So first, I'd like to complain some more about this so-called Self "Challenge". Month 3's workout requirements are no more than Month 2's! What's up with that?
I'm still required to do one 45-min and two 35-min Cardio workouts per week, and three 25-min strength workouts. Am I missing something? The old Self Challenges used to continue to ramp up your requirements each month.

Don't even get me started on Month 3's Eating Plan - Food on the go: how to get healthful meals from McDonald's and Wendy's. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure that's useful for a lot of people, but I'm looking for more useful advice.

Now that that's out of the way, I had my third physical evaluation by Maya last night. Now, I have to admit, I wasn't really sure I was up to it. I'd just had a little bike accident on the way home. Nothing big at all, but it had me all shaken up and I wasn't in the best of mind frames.

I couldn't do the kneeling pushups she has me do for the evaluation (because I landed on my knee and it hurt), so I could only do 12 regular pushups. For the situps and squats, I could still do the maximum, so no obvious improvement there.

The only part I realized I clearly don't understand is the resting and elevated heart rate analysis. The way it works is she has me take my resting pulse then do a full two minutes of jumping jacks then measure again. This time my elevated heart rate was higher. Now is that good? Does that mean that my cardio fitness is improving? I'll have to do some more reading about that.

Our big race is coming up this weekend and I'll be tapering down my workouts this week, though should still be able to get all the Self requirements done. Soon, oh so soon, the whole thing will be over and I'll move onto my next 90 challenge. Hopefully the next one will be more interesting and possibly yield more substantial results. I guess it may have helped if I paid any attention to the food plan section, but it really just didn't suit me or my lifestyle.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Time Flies When You're... Um...

Don't how it happened, but I've done 6 weekly reviews and find that I'm actually on week 9!!! How did that happen?

Here's a speedy catch up on what happened since I last left you:
After week 6, while still travelling, I also caught some mean flu-y thing.
So, week 7 was the first week that I was not truly not able to complete my requirements.
I only logged 4 workouts that week: 2 cardio and 2 strength. Wah! I guess it isn't really *that* bad, since it means I only dropped one cardio and one strength, but it feels really bad.

Then came week 8, back home, fighting off the end of the nasty cold. That one was much more typical, I managed to finish all the requirements with a bit extra to spare. It was good to be back on track.

The best news of all is that I've finally lost some weight! When travelling, I had at least three family members that I haven't seen in a while point out that I've lost weight, and when I got home, I found that I was actually 5 pounds lighter than when I started. Crazy. Especially since the first month I didn't lose any weight, which I chalked up to muscle gain.

Well, there it is. And now I'm officially in the last quarter of the plan. The best part is, I already know what I'm doing next... but I won't give it away yet. Sorry!

At this point - I'm happy with my personal progress, though unsatisfied with the Self Challenge workout plan. I feel that it's too easy for me. Maya, on the other hand, is still quite capable of kicking my ass. And she still yells at me for missing workouts. I still haven't figured out how to tell her that I'm actually running at least 3 additional days a week. Ah well, so it goes...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The X Files

Sorry about that title, I couldn't resist.

I'm currently on week 8 - but not really. Technically it's week 9, but remember I crashed. And restarted. Sometimes that's just what it takes.

Miscellany from the past 7+ weeks...

- Running replaced Kenpo for this 90 day period, so Kenpo will have to wait until 902.

- Hell yes there's a 902. I want to realize absolute potential. AbPotX.

- I've been using resistance bands rather than weights. Being no stranger to weight training, at first I thought this would be the wimp approach. Not so, not so. Despite the few occasions where the starting movement involves a slightly slack band to enable full resistance at the peak of the exercise, the bands are muscle-shredding torture monkeys.

- Muscle. Shredding. Torture. Monkeys. And today I just bought one more, a heavyweight one (max 72 lb resistance).

- Hell no I'm not going to 72 lbs. But at this stage it's going to make a world of difference simulating pull-ups.

- I know from the Beachbody message boards that I am not the only woman who wants to kick serious ass in pull-ups. I also know that there is no band that can replace the next step: I'm going to have to get my ass to the gym and pull up for real.

- The other day during a rainy run, my buddy and I came up on an Erie-sized puddle. My buddy circumvented it through the squishy grass. I lept over it with ease. Plyometrics: God love 'em.

- Still, after 12+ Ab Ripper sessions, that V-Up kills me. And I hate every person on that DVD who does it with ease.

- (I love every person on those DVDs. Can you say Dreya Weber?)

- Tony Horton's airborne plyometric push-ups are psychotic and riveting. After finishing my lame-ass 8 or 10, I'll back up to the start of the sequence just to watch him. Oh, and I just got a clap in for the first time last week.

- The greatest change has been in my strength, especially in my upper body. A little muscle definition ("Hey," I said to the mirror the other day, "I don't remember seeing that before...coooooool...") goes a long way toward re-committing to the process.

- Re-commitment had to happen every week. This is not one of those "once you've done it for 30 days it's habit." There is no habit to this, I had to church it up every single Day One.

Finally, I must be employed by Beachbody in a parallel universe because I have been talking this program up left and right. It's not a permanent approach - nothing can replace the cameraderie of a team of people sweating and screaming in pain simultaneously (ahhh, good times, my Performance Max friends, good times). As long as I keep setting physical goals, I'll be showing up and pressing PLAY.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Self Challenge -Week 6 in Review

Now the complications begin. This week, on tuesday, I left for a 9-day trip to Italy for an ultimate frisbee tournament. I've been to this tournament before (many times) so I was quite familiar with what to expect. I knew that I could get plenty of running in but that the strength workouts were going to be the tough part. So I crammed as much on Maya as I could in the beginning of the week and then took a resistence band with me to do the third.

As it turns out, I didn't use it and this is the first week that I don't complete all of my requirements.

2 x 30 minute cardio workouts
1 x 45 minute cardio workouts
3 x 25 minute strength workouts

What I actually did:
6 x cardio workouts: 5 x 45 minutes of running (three of those were in one day - I'm in relay training mode) and 35 minutes of aerobics with Maya

2 x Yourself Fitness workouts: 30 minutes of pilates & 30 minutes of weight training

Yeah. I was in Italy. I don't believe the piadine sandwiches, plates of risotto and strozzapreti really translate into "2 grain-carbs". Delicious!

Self Challenge -Week 5 in Review

Ok, Month 2 - there are a few changes to the routine. I'm still required to do 3 cardio workouts a week, but one of them is now 45 minutes long instead of 30. That was not a problem: I was already doing much more than the required minimum.

As for the strength requirements, they added one more 25 min session a week. Not that huge of a difference but a bit trickier for me, especially when travelling.

The food requirements however took a dramatic turn: they switched to a units plan, where for breakfast, for example, you should eat 2 grain-carbs; 2 fruit-carbs; 1 dairy-protein; and 2 fats. And they provide a chart telling you what your options are for each of those. Doesn't sound too terrible, does it?

So here's what happened that first week into Month 2:

2 x 30 minute cardio workouts
1 x 45 minute cardio workouts
3 x 25 minute strength workouts

What I actually did:
4 x cardio workouts: 160, 30 & 120 minutes of all running and 30 minutes of aerobics with Maya

4 x Yourself Fitness workouts: 45 minutes of upper body, 45 minutes of core & 45 minutes of lower body & 15 minutes of yoga

While I did check out the table, and see what my options were for each meal, I didn't really follow the plan beyond that.

This week wasn't too difficult to keep up with, I seem to be on a roll!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Challengin' while Travellin'

As I've mentioned previously, this is not the first year I've embarked upon the Self challenge. In fact, I have at the very least signed up for it and completed the first month or so for the past four years. What happens around the one month marker that makes me stop, you may ask?

Travel. Every year, right around the same time, I head off for the very same trip: nine days or so in Rimini, Italy for a Beach Ultimate tournament (Big E's team goes every year. I myself don't play).

The travelling lifestyle isn't very conducive to working out. Sure, this really depends on where you go and what options are available to you. In some cases, you may stay in a hotel that has a gym. Or perhaps you've gone to a beach resort, with a tennis court, horseback riding, etc. etc. You shouldn't have a tough time keeping up with your workouts in this case.

For me, it was always the same stumbling block: Strength. It is usually around the time of the challenge where I'm required to do three 25 minute strength workouts a week. In Rimini, I have plenty of cardio options available to me, and they're usually quite easy to fit in. No gyms, however, are available and my bedroom is tiny. I decided this year to set myself up to not fail the strength requirements. I brought an exercise band with me, as well as three pages ripped from an old Self Magazine of an exercise band full body strength workout.

Then, in addition to this, I crammed in two workouts on monday and tuesday (upper body and then lower body), since we weren't leaving until noon on tuesday. Two down, one to go.

We arrived in Rimini on Thursday, the weather was gorgeous. While the team warmed up and practised, I went for a 45 minute jog. I debated doing some pilates on the beach while I waited... perhaps some pushups, a plank or two, ab work... but for some reason, decided against this.

The next day, again gorgeous, I decided it would be my day of rest and didn't workout at all. Saturday came along and I talked myself into a run, another 45 minute jog down the beach. I didn't consider doing any other stuff at this point. Then Sunday, I had a plan - for my relay training, I decided to do my first multiple training run. I went for three 4-5 mile runs, and then I collapsed.

Sunday night, we all drank far too much wine, and I spent monday lying delicately on the sideline. Working out was out of the question. Tuesday, we had to get up early to head back to Bologna and then of course get up even earlier on Wednesday to fly back to San Francisco. When I got home, I managed to talk myself into a Maya workout, the first for this past week, and got some core strength in. However, I also seem to have acquired an illness either on the plane or from the other teammates, and when I got up the next morning to fly to the East Coast, I was feeling even worse.

So with two weeks of travel under my belt, I've come to the following conclusion:

Travel + Cardio = success - at least for me. I love running in new locations, it's a great way to see the town, people watch, get a different perspective. Old Italian men seem to enjoy it too.

Travel + Strength = Not so hot. I can't seem to make myself do a workout in my hotel room and am not likely to do it out on the beach in public. I guess I'm just a wuss that way.

Travel + Flu + any workout = barely happenin'. More on that after the next week in review.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

80% of 90 is Showing Up

Crash. Seriously. It's now Easter Sunday and I can confidently say that I have completed precisely two of my P90X DVD workouts over the last 10 days.

Perhaps I wasn't prepared for the commitment - not exactly a revelation. Maybe I wasn't prepared for the intensity - understatement. None of this matters, however, because the breaking point for a program like this is usually week 4 or 5, and I dutifully obliged. P90X even acknowledges this and makes week 5 a recovery week (not exactly sluffing off, but backing off just enough to let the body heal a bit). I was foolish enough to think that I did not need a recovery week and proceeded with the same workout I had just finished in week 4.

Big mistake.

Another big mistake was not taking the food portion of the program seriously enough (or possibly taking it too seriously). The Eggpounder 4000 put me off, mainly because the food portions were way more than I was accustomed to, and involved ~shudder!~ cooking. I don't cook. After four weeks of trying to cookie-cut the program, trying to eat within the protein, carb, fat blocks listed and/or using the menu plans, food was suddenly a mysterious burden: how do I fuel, when do I fuel, can I eat this? do I have time to fuel, I forgot to fuel and I need to fuel but I don't have time to fuel and suddenly, not surprisingly, I lost all interest in food whatsoever, and stopped caring. No doubt part of that comes from thinking of food solely as FUEL.

Anyway. Time for Plan B: Ignore the lost week, send it off to that bloody island and let The Others sort it out. I'm backing up the program to start week six over again, which isn't going to keep me apace of Sara and her dynamic adjustments to the Self Challenge, but I think that's what this was all about - looking at what it really takes to make a physical goal happen.

Hint: Get out of your head; press PLAY.