19 May, 2012

P90X Day 22: Yoga X

Short post tonight. I think.

I discovered two important things to remember today.

First, doing Yoga X first thing in the morning is HARD. I’m stiff and my muscles are tight. In addition, we really need a new mattress, so often when I wake up, my back is a bit sore lately. I couldn’t even do one of the back stretches this morning. Hurt too much. And then I came out of it too quickly too, which you’re not supposed to do. That only made my back feel worse. Yippee.

Second thing I learned today is that I need to eat more. Most people starting out on an exercise program like P90X are overweight. Well, most people period are overweight, so that’s hardly a surprise. Phase I of P90X is called Fat Reducer for a reason, and probably most people again will find the diet plan for Phase I very restrictive.

I’m not in that position. I was lean to start with, and I don’t eat very much. And it was already high protein and low carb. I just had to increase the protein and cut out a little bit of fat. Anyway, the diet plan I worked out using the P90X math is a lot more calories than I’m used to consuming. I tried it for a few days. I couldn’t get very close to the number they wanted. I felt like I was gorging myself. And I gained weight. During the Fat Reducer Phase. And not because I was already putting on muscle mass. The calorie count for the diet plan was just too high for me.

So, I adjusted it down, by quite a bit. I have still been eating more than I’m used to eating, but only by a couple hundred calories or so a day. Well, these last few days I’ve been hungry all the time, and have even bumped up my caloric intake by another 100 or so calories. It hasn’t been enough. I’ve still been hungry, and I’ve been losing weight again. I probably need to add at least another 100 calories, maybe even 200. And then I’m starting to get pretty close to the P90X recommended number. Imagine that.

The funny thing is all of this has been going on during the least intense days of P90X there are. Yesterday was just X Stretch, and today was Yoga X. Both of those are hard, but I guarantee I’m not burning anywhere near the calories I burn doing Plyometrics. This means my body is starting to consume more calories on its own. This is exactly what I’ve been hoping for, and working for.

A friend of mine tells me that you burn an extra 4 calories an hour for each pound of muscle mass. I think that’s the right number. I’m sure he’ll correct me if it’s not. That works out to 96 calories a day. Call it 100 just to make the math simple. If my body needs another 200+ calories a day just to maintain itself, then I’ve added about 2 pounds of muscle. Pretty simple.

This also makes it simple for me to figure out where I want to be. I’d like to add 500 or so calories a day to my diet. Actually, 750 would be better. If I can do that, then it’ll make my eating choices a lot easier. I’ll be able to eat more of what I want to (within reason), without having to think about the benefits and disadvantages of every single bite. That tells me that I need to add somewhere around 7-8 pounds of muscle mass. Now, I’m not sure what it’ll take to do that. Perhaps more than a single round of P90X. But I know where I’m headed, and my body will tell me when I get there.

Ok, so I barely talked about Yoga at all today. But you’ve heard me describe it all before. Only difference is that today was really rough for me. I think if I do it first thing in the morning again, I’ll extend the warm up segment a bit, because I definitely wasn’t ready today.

Tomorrow, a new DVD! Core Synergistics.

Can’t wait! Stay tuned.

18 May, 2012

P90X Day 21: X Stretch

The most exciting thing about finishing Day 21 is that it means you’re essentially through with Phase I. Next week is the “Recovery and Ab Focus” week. I like the sound of the first part, but not the second part. :)

Stretching is not my forté. It may be the part where I can tell most just how out of shape I have become. I started riding my bike again a little bit last summer, and it hurt just to lift my leg enough to get on the bike. That’s how tight my hamstrings are. Much better now, but there’s still LOTS of room for improvement.

And, this is probably the slowest and most difficult area to gain back. After 90 days I may only be able to get a couple inches farther on most of the stretches. It may even be less than that. At my age, it’s hard to do anything to increase flexibility. But X Stretch and Yoga X are definitely helping. I can actually grab hold of my toes on one of the hamstring stretches. I think the last time I was able to do that, I was about 15.

This is definitely a workout where you measure progress in terms of millimeters, or in seconds (as in, “how many seconds can I hold this”). I can tell things are getting better. And I definitely feel great afterwards. But it’s by no means speedy. Millimeters. Ugh.

Tomorrow, the schedule changes completely. Yoga X on Saturday, and this terrifying sounding “Core Synergistics” on Sunday. Stay tuned.

17 May, 2012

P90X Day 20: Kenpo X

Third time’s a charm for Kenpo X.

If you’ve been reading this space, you know I’ve been having a little trouble with Kenpo X. It’s supposed to be a cardio workout, and I’ve been having trouble getting “in the zone”. I finally figured out what I wasn’t doing right, and fixed it today, and got a much better workout. Sadly, it still took me half the workout to figure it out. So, it’s more accurate for me to say that I got a much better half a workout. Still half a loaf is better than none, or so the politicians tell me.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, Kenpo is kind of a kickboxing type workout. And I really swing my arms and legs. It’s not like I’ve been all that half-hearted about it. But, I haven’t been putting the same force behind the movements that I would do if I were actually trying to hit or kick someone. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure that out, and to fix it. But it made a huge difference when I did.

Now, I just have to remember to do that next week.

Tomorrow, X Stretch, and then the “off week”. I’ve looked at the schedule. I don’t think “off” is how I would describe it.

16 May, 2012

P90X Day 19: Legs & Back

Third week of Legs & Back. Instead of getting easier, this is getting harder. This week I pushed myself, going deeper in all the lunges and squats on the legs. (ow!) And I pushed even harder on those $#!+ pull ups, doing several more than last week. Even made it to 4 unassisted on the second round of Wide Front Pull Ups. That’s a major coup. Much better than the 1 that I did a mere two weeks ago.

I may not have bulging biceps but there’s no doubt that I’m getting in better shape. Doc today at my annual physical was amazed at the shape I’m in. It’s nice to see such a shocked expression on the face of your doctor, and it be for good news.

Of course, after nearly killing myself on Legs & Back, I got to enjoy Ab Ripper X again. No more Ab Ripper X’s for a week and a half. I’m so not going to miss it, either. That really is an amazing set of exercises. Hard to believe you can get that tired from a mere 15 minute workout that’s not even cardio related. But, I do. I’m completely wiped every time at the end. When Tony says to go into the child’s pose, it’s indescribable how good that feels. I end up holding it for another minute or so after the DVD is over just because it feels sooooooo good.

Oh, and in case you missed it from my earlier Tweets or post, I am off the meds for my diabetes now. That was the end result of my physical and I couldn’t be happier. That’s the effect of actually getting serious about eating better and exercising more. I just wish I’d done all this about 15 years ago. Still, better late than never, I guess.

15 May, 2012

P90X Day 18: Yoga X

Since when does a yoga workout make you sweat enough to need a shower? Since it’s the P90X yoga workout.

Actually, I don’t have much to say tonight. If you tend to think of yoga as that thing where you turn yourself into a pretzel, then stand on one foot and go “ohhhmmmm”, then you definitely need P90X. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are poses where you turn yourself into a pretzel, and plenty of poses where you stand on one foot. And yes, Tony wants you to “ohhhmmm” at the end (I don’t—it doesn’t work for me, but that’s just me). But this yoga is just as much of a workout as the other six days of the week.

To be honest, one of the long standing complaints about P90X from many is that it doesn’t do enough yoga. That’s one of the things they changed with P90X2, from what I hear. I guess I’ll find out at some point. Maybe. Let me get through the next 72 days before I make any P90X2 plans, please.

It was nice to get through the workout. 4 days down now in week 3. Week 4 is supposed to be a “Rest & Recovery Week”. Sadly, that doesn’t mean sitting on the couch eating potato chips. No, it’s two days of Yoga X, two days of X Stretch, one day of Kenpo X, and two days of a new workout called Core Synergistics. Sounds like next week will be just about as hard as a regular week. And week 5 gets even worse.

Yippee! Looking forward to it. Legs & Back, and my friend, Ab Ripper X, tomorrow.

14 May, 2012

P90X Day 17: Shoulders & Arms

I made a mistake after Shoulders & Arms last week, and it cost me this week. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m using some pre-setup weights for my workouts. I have three sets that I’ve been using. A heavy one, a medium one, and a light one. My light one is 15 pounds, and the medium is 25. That’s actually too big of a difference. I need a 20 pound set setup.

Which, now that I think about, I could actually do without much trouble. I don’t use my heavy set for Arms & Shoulders, so I could spend 3 minutes and convert that one into a 20 pound set. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that until this minute.

Anyway, I use the 15s for most of the exercises, and the 25s for a few of them. But, last week I noticed that the 15s were too light for a couple of the exercises, but the 25s were still too heavy for those exercises. I had a week to do something about that. I could’ve ordered another set of weights, so I could have 4 sets, and have that 20 pound set. Or, I could’ve done just what I realized this minute, and set up my heavy set for 20 pounds.

But, I did neither of those things. Nor did I do anything else. Apparently, I somehow thought that in a week, I’d gain enough strength that the 25s would magically work for me on those exercises. Several of them are ones where Tony says that even he prefers to use 25 pounds and under.

Of course the 25s were still too heavy. But I did get stronger. The 15s did even less for me this week. And that was true on even more of the exercises. I’m not saying they did nothing for me. But Tony says over and over “8-10 reps for muscle mass, 12-15 reps for lean muscle”. And by that he means that when you reach that number, you’re done. You can’t do any more, at least properly.

Well, I’m going for muscle mass. I need to be in that 8-10 range for everything. As I’ve said before, not because I’m trying to look like The Hulk, but because I need the muscle mass to help manage my diabetes. I was over 8-10 on a good half of the exercises today that I did with the 15s. Worse, there were a couple that I easily passed 15 and ended up over 20. I had to pause the DVD because they were moving on to the next exercise, and I hadn’t reached the point yet where I was “feeling the burn”. I have to fix this problem for next week.

I got a good workout, but it could have been quite a bit better. Still, I was quite sore and tired and sweaty afterwards.

And, of course, afterwards came my best friend, Ab Ripper X. Ab Ripper X is going to give me great abs…if it doesn’t kill me first. And I honestly don’t know which it’s going to be. Ok, I exaggerate. A bit. But this is still the hardest part of P90X for me. And it’s more than just abs, it’s core work. I feel it from my lower chest down to my thighs. Still, at least my sit ups are looking better. Gotta be thankful for small things. A few months ago, I couldn’t do a sit up. Period. Now I can. I can’t yet do 25 of them, but I’m getting closer.

13 May, 2012

P90X Day 16: Plyometrics

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is not only day 16 of P90X, but another personal milestone for me. Today marks 140 days straight that I have done some sort of work out. For those keeping score, that’s 20 weeks. When I started, I didn’t think I’d make it 20 days. After all, I never had before.

Like yesterday, and the rest of the week, today’s motto is:

Bring It!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m struggling a bit with the cardio workouts.

I keep mentioning that I’m trying to get my heart rate into the desired range. Here’s a handy chart:

The base formula for Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is 220 – AGE. For me, that’s 175. For an anaerobic workout, you want to be consistently between 80-90% of that number. That’s 140-157.5. Now, this is just an approximate number. It also depends upon your resting heart rate. If your resting heart rate is very low, getting up to 150+ may be difficult. If your resting heart rate is very high, you may want to go up past 150, a little bit. But talk to your doctor first. Don’t just assume you should be going for 200. That’s almost certainly too high, no matter what your resting rate is.

For me, my resting heart rate is a tad on the high side, so I feel like I should be at about 150-165 to get me “in the zone”. I can definitely tell when I’m in that range for a while. It “feels” a lot different than just 140-150 would, but in a good way. I don’t really know how to describe it. But after a while of doing cardio, you’ll know the range you should be in to be getting the most out of it.

Anyway, on the cardio workouts, I keep checking my rate and I’m in the 130s, maybe low 140s. And I know that’s not good enough for me. Today, I pushed it more. I made sure to lunge a little lower, jump a little higher. I made sure my form was better than it had been on previous plyometric workouts. Result? I was in that 150-165 zone pretty much from beginning to end of the workout. And man, did it wear me out. And I was drenched in sweat when it was over. But it felt good too. I even hit 180 very briefly. 180 is too high, even for me, but it’s probably ok for a few seconds. Double time jump tucks did it to me. Remind me next time to maybe slow those down just a bit.

So, two days in to week three, and this has been the hardest and most rewarding week yet. I’m almost sad that next week the entire workout cycle changes. But I am enjoying P90X more and more every day. Much more than I thought I would.