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!