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...