02 June, 2012

P90X Day 36: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps

Did I say this one might become my new favorite last week? No, surely not. It must have been Monday’s workout, Back & Biceps. Today’s was awful.

For the first time since I’ve started this thing, I wanted to quit. Don’t worry. I’m not going to, but I finally understood the people that do. This is a rough workout. To make matters worse, either I didn’t warm up well enough, or I pushed myself too hard on one of the early exercises.

I’m not sure which it was, but around the 8th exercise or so, both of my shoulders started to hurt pretty badly. Not in a good way. It went away after about 15 minutes, and I probably should have taken a break when it happened. Instead, I kept on with the exercises (never even pushed “pause”, and just tried to stretch a bit between exercises. Still, I’m sure that during that period, I was a little more tentative than usual.

And while I was going through this, I couldn’t help but think about tomorrow’s Plyometrics, and how hard that is. Yes, I was down for a bit. Can you tell? Still, I finished the workout, and I’ll finish tomorrow’s too. And the rest of the upcoming 50+ days as well.

Anyway, back to the workout. As I’ve mentioned last time, this is another workout with a lot of weights. And, since last time was the first time, I had a lot of trouble picking out the correct weights for the workout. I think I pretty much got the right ones now. I’ll find out next week. Which of course I’m really looking forward to, after today. Winking smile But, the only reason I was able to get the right weights even this time around was because of the worksheets. Tony repeats endlessly, “write down what you did”, and he means it. There’s not a lot of room on the worksheets, so you also need to come up with some sort of shorthand for any kind of additional notes.

For example, for a particular exercise, there might be a box with the following: R ____ W ____. You’re supposed to fill in your reps, and what weight you used. But I might put in something like R 10 W 20-. The 20- tells me that I used twenty pound weights, but for whatever reason felt like it was too heavy.  Maybe my form wasn’t good, or I realized 2/3 of the way through that I was doing them wrong. Whatever. There’s not enough room to put that kind of information in there, but there’s no way you’ll remember it after a week, and 100 other different exercises. But you don’t need to know the why. You just need to know that 20 pounds was too heavy.

I might also do just the opposite: R 10 W 20+. This helps me next week, too. Without the + there, I’d have a decision to make. 10 reps is at the top end of what I want to do for most of the exercises. So, if I see I did 10, should I increase the weight or not? The + tells me that I thought that I would be able to do that.

Finally, you know what’s coming, right? It was a strength day, which means Ab Ripper X at the end. Of course, this is the second time that I’d forgotten all about Ab Ripper. The workout finished, and I was cleaning up my weights, and I heard the music. My heart sunk. Still, nothing to do but grin and bear it. It’s only 16 minutes long, and I know it by heart by now. So, I know I can get through it.

And I did. But there’s no doubt. Today was definitely the day I enjoyed least of the 36 so far. Look on the bright side, though. It’s extremely unlikely that tomorrow can be worse. And I only have to do this particular workout three more times. I can get through it three times. I may hate it, but I can do it.

Plyometrics tomorrow. That will be followed by a quick trip out of town, so likely no update until the evening. Don’t worry, though. I’ll do the plyometrics first thing in the morning before I leave.

The Candidates and the First Amendment

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost four years since I last wrote on this. Quite a bit has changed since then, but one thing hasn’t changed. We once again have two candidates running for President from the major parties. So, once again, I’ll be looking at their records from a civil libertarian perspective.

For those that missed this the last time, I examined and compared then Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) based on where they stood on the following issues: First Amendment, Second Amendment, Third Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, Seventh Amendment, Eighth Amendment, Eleventh Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Fifteenth Amendment, Nineteenth Amendment, Twenty-First Amendment, Twenty-Third Amendment, Twenty-Fourth Amendment, Twenty-Sixth Amendment, Taxes, Abortion, National ID, Voter ID, Card Check, Legalization of Drugs, Gay Rights, Hate Crime Legislation, Growth of Government, Property Rights, Sovereign Rights, Ninth Amendment, and Tenth Amendment. I devoted one post to each of these topics. Some were pretty short, and others were quite long and involved.

Next, I assigned letter grades to each of the two for each item, and at the end produced a weighted final grade. Weightings were necessary, because some of these civil liberties are obviously more important than others. You may be 110% behind gay marriage, but I doubt that even you think that gay marriage is more important then freedom of speech. If you do, you have my sympathies. But I’ll produce a spreadsheet at the end with all my calculations, and you can change the grades and the weightings if you disagree with any of my analysis.

Enough preamble. Let’s get down to it. How do our current Presidential candidates stack up regarding the First Amendment? Like last time, I’ll be looking at information from the First Amendment Center.

Let's quote the First Amendment as a refresher, before we start:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We’ll start with President Barack Obama (D-USA):

The First Amendment Center is rather kind to Obama, in my opinion.

In its fourth year in office, the Obama administration has a mixed record on issues involving the First Amendment.


Previously confidential files and rules have since been released for public scrutiny. In 2009, the Justice Department made public the Bush administration 8/1/02 Interrogation Opinion, commonly known as the “torture memos.”


Still, critics have assailed the administration for not living up to its lofty standards, citing the Justice Department’s refusal to release information concerning domestic wiretapping and surveillance of tourists and U.S. citizens. The department justified the refusal on privacy and national security grounds, according to spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.

Open-government activists also point to the president’s handling of the Gulf oil spill as an example of unnecessary secrecy. Despite an official government report in 2010 saying the disaster was worse than anticipated, the Obama administration initially presented an overly optimistic portrayal of the cleanup’s success.


News outlets, including the Associated Press, have criticized the speed with which the administration has met FOIA requests. In 2011, the administration received 544,360 requests but left more than 12,000 of them unmet. Of the cases reviewed, the government denied requests in more than a third of the cases. The administration maintains that it has released more information than past administrations.


However, relations between the president and religious groups have not always been harmonious. Catholic leaders recently lambasted the administration’s health-insurance mandates requiring religiously affiliated organizations to provide free contraceptive insurance coverage for female employees.


Though not restrictive of the press, the Obama administration has repeatedly criticized news outlets. The most notable flap occurred in 2009 when White House Communications Director Anita Dunn called the Fox cable network “a wing of the Republican Party.” The president has also sharply criticized news outlets for seeking to gain greater viewership by incorrectly portraying the Washington political scene as combative.


Reporters have criticized the administration for filing charges against government whistleblowers under the Espionage Act. Invoked six times, the act has drawn criticism for appearing to be a mechanism to hide government misuse of funds.

In 2010, the administration pressed charges against Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency, for publicly voicing concerns that the government spent an unnecessary amount of money on software when it could have used a cheaper and more effective program.


In 2010, the president stood as one of the harshest critics of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In the controversial case, the Court upheld the First Amendment rights of labor unions and corporations to fund campaign ads.

Allow me to sum up. The President has been good about disseminating previously “secret” information to the public, when it has furthered his agenda. He has waged war against the Catholic Church, and news organizations that have been critical of the administration, particularly Fox News. He has not pursued implementation of the Fairness Doctrine, which has surprised me. He does support hate crime legislation, which is in direct opposition to freedom of speech.

Finally, there have been numerous reports this year that the Obama administration is keeping an “enemies list” a la former President Richard Nixon (R-USA).

Try this thought experiment: You decide to donate money to Mitt Romney. You want change in the Oval Office, so you engage in your democratic right to send a check.

Several days later, President Barack Obama, the most powerful man on the planet, singles you out by name. His campaign brands you a Romney donor, shames you for "betting against America," and accuses you of having a "less-than-reputable" record. The message from the man who controls the Justice Department (which can indict you), the SEC (which can fine you), and the IRS (which can audit you), is clear: You made a mistake donating that money.

The WSJ may be engaging in a little bit of fear mongering here, but there’s no doubt that this is worrisome behavior from the White House. Still, it’s not like Obama is exposing secrets. All of the donor information is public record, and there’s nothing keeping Daily Kos or Huffington Post or whoever, from doing exactly what Obama has done. It’s just a little different, and a little scarier, when it comes directly from the head of the government.

That’s Obama. Now, let’s look at former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA):

As Massachusetts governor from 2002 to 2006, Romney proposed legislation that would have exempted religious organizations from having to provide adoption services to same-sex couples.


In 2005, Romney abandoned plans to exempt Catholic-run hospitals from a state law that requires all hospitals to make the morning-after pill available to “each female rape victim.” Announcing his decision, he said, “I think, in my personal view, it’s the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape.”


He did not support a bill to create 35-foot protest-free buffer zones around abortion clinics in his state. Within a year of Romney’s leaving office, his successor, Deval Patrick, signed the legislation.

In the area of campaign finance, Romney vetoed a 2006 bill that would have repealed a ban on printing, publishing or distributing any poster or circular “designed to aid or defeat any candidate for nomination or election to any public office” without identifying individuals who issued or were otherwise responsible for the publication.

Records from Romney’s service as governor became a source of controversy in the 2012 campaign when a Boston Globe article suggested that Romney’s administration tried to purge all e-mail records after his term. According to the report, members of the administration took computers with them and replaced e-mail servers. However, the Associated Press later reported, Massachusetts public-records law doesn’t apply to the governor’s office, so there appears to be nothing illegal in the computer removal. Romney said the messages were deleted because they may have contained confidential information. However, on Dec. 6, 2011, Massachusetts announced that previously closed records from the state’s archives would be made publicly available.

More on his time as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City:

At the time, Romney said he supported the designated free-speech zones to promote safety and ease traffic flow. Although the decisions regarding outside protesters fell on city officials, it was later reported that the Olympic committee asked the city to remove two protest zones — which were only large enough to hold 10 people each — located inside the Olympic square. An Olympic committee spokesperson denied that the group made the request.

In addition to the free-speech zones, Romney took a stance on public standards when he set a firm policy on what types of music to play during certain events. For instance, he prohibited music popular among snowboarders from the snowboarding competition because he deemed it too profane.

And as candidate Romney:

In the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Romney has taken a few stances that directly involve First Amendment principles.

The strongest of these is his position against the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law: He advocates its repeal.


In 2007, Romney said, “the American people should be free to advocate for their candidates and their positions without burdensome limitations.” Instead, he said he supports reforms “that promote transparency and disclosure, preserve grassroots activism and protect the ability to criticize or endorse current officeholders and candidates.” He calls McCain-Feingold “burdensome” and “riddled with shortcomings.”


On the 2012 campaign trail, Romney has continued to oppose campaign-finance regulations, supporting the ability of candidates to collect unlimited donations instead of allowing campaigns to be indirectly supported by money from super PACs. “Let campaigns then take responsibility for their own words,” Romney said in the Jan. 16, 2012, debate in South Carolina.


In remarks in April 2008, Romney described the goals of the Ocean’s Initiatives: “I’d like to see us clean up the water in which our kids are swimming. I’d like to keep pornography from coming up on their computers. I’d like to keep drugs off the streets. I’d like to see less violence and sex on TV and in video games and in movies. And if we get serious about this, we can actually do a great deal to clean up the water in which our kids and our grandkids are swimming.”


In the 2012 campaign, Romney has continued to speak in favor of religious freedom. After the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a Michigan teacher’s challenge to her firing from a Lutheran Church-sponsored school in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, Romney voiced his support of the decision to the audience at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in Myrtle Beach, S.C., saying, “We are very fortunate to have people who are willing to stand up for religious tolerance and religious liberty and the First Amendment of this Constitution in this country.”

Romney has expressed concern about the Obama administration’s treatment of religious liberty, criticizing the Department of Health and Human Service’s decision to require schools and hospitals, including those that are run by the Catholic Church and other faith groups, to cover contraception under their employee insurance plans.

I have to be honest here. Some of the information above surprised me. I’ve done this a few times now, and I generally keep tabs on First Amendment issues. So, I tend to know where major politicians stand regarding the First Amendment. Mitt Romney may be the most friendly major politician to the First Amendment that I’ve ever seen.

Yes, he did require Catholic hospitals to offer the morning-after pill, and he enforced free speech zones at the Olympics, as well as banning some music that he considered profane. Of the three, only the first is all that big of a deal. As the person in charge of the Olympics, his responsibility was to make sure that it went smoothly and was enjoyable to the spectators there as well as at home. His responsibility was not to make sure that people would be able to scream obscenities on national TV. Even with the first, he essentially is saying that religious hospitals can not refuse to provide emergency services based upon their faith.

I’m Catholic, and I’m opposed to the morning after pill and abortions. But from a practical standpoint, I understand his logic here. Still, it does impinge on the freedom of religion, and he’ll be docked a bit for it.

Those of you who read this series in 2008 will recall that I was extremely critical of Mr. Obama on this issue, eventually giving him an ‘F’ letter grade. I have since modified my stance, a little. While it’s clear to me that he’s been no friend of the First Amendment, he hasn’t quite turned out to be the enemy that I feared. Still, he did tell his supporters to “get in their faces” regarding Tea Parties and there is that enemies list.

Still, I’m going to raise his grade from last time, but I will be willing to reconsider, should his campaign start attacking free speech again.

Whew. That’s a lot. what about the grades?

Obama: D (subject to further review)

Romney: B (while he’s terrific compared to his peers, it’s hard to get an ‘A’ on this one)

First Amendment: Advantage Romney.

Results so far:

  Obama Romney
First Amendment D B

01 June, 2012

P90X Day 35: X Stretch

Another day, another workout. As I’ve said before, this almost counts as a rest day. In fact, in the guide book, it says today is either X Stretch or Rest. And I definitely need it. Tomorrow’s a tough one, as it’s back to Chest, Shoulders & Triceps (and, my favorite, Ab Ripper X).

I’m still noticing increased flexibility, but as I keep saying, the increments are small. I can maybe stretch a centimeter or two farther on the hamstring stretches than I could five weeks ago. And I might be fooling myself when I say “two”. But, I’ll take whatever I can get, particularly at my age.

The best thing about today? Week 5 complete. 8 weeks to go!

The Battle For the Soul of the Democratic Party

There’s been an interesting little feud among the Democrats this last week or so, and I think it may represent more than just squabbles on how President Barack Obama (D-USA) should run his re-election campaign.

First it was Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker (D), who went on Meet the Press:

Newark N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D) expressed reserve about the Obama campaign's Bain strategy against Mitt Romney, telling "Meet The Press" viewers on Sunday that he was "uncomfortable" with the line of attacks.

"This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides," Booker said. "It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity."

Booker was referencing the Obama campaign's Monday release of a series of documentary-esque Bain videos.

Booker later back tracked somewhat, but I’m convinced he meant what he said, and the back track was due to pressure from the White House.

This was followed by former Senator Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN):

Booker is not the only Democrat to question the aggressive, negative portrayal of Romney’s work in private equity.  Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr. said today he agreed with “the substance” of Booker’s comments and “would not have backed out.”

“I agree with him, private equity is not a bad thing. Matter of fact, private equity is a good thing in many, many instances,” the Democrat said in a separate appearance on MSNBC earlier in the day.

Next came Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA):

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Patrick called Bain “a perfectly fine company.”

“They have a role in the private economy, and I’ve got a lot of friends there … on both sides of the aisle,” Patrick added. “I think the Bain strategy has been distorted in some of the public discussions.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, on the same day we also got former President Bill Clinton (D-USA):

Clinton found himself in similar circumstances. “I think he had a good business career,” he said of Romney, when queried about Bain. He also called Mitt’s record “sterling”, adding “So I don’t think that we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work. This is good work.”

I think what you’re seeing here is far more significant than questioning Obama’s attacks on Bain Capital, or even just a defense of Bain Capital.

For years now, many of us on the right have been saying that there is a radical wing to the Democratic party, and that this radical wing hates the foundations of America. They are Marxist to their core and want to shred the Constitution and remake the United States according to their Marxist ideal. These people are hungry and angry, and extremely determined. Many of us have also been saying that this radical wing now has control of the Democrat party, and that Barack Obama is the face of their movement.

I think what you’re seeing here is the realization by some in the Democratic party that there’s truth to this statement. Don’t be confused here. Clinton and Booker are lefties through and through. They believe in social justice, abortion on demand, and most of the other things you see as part of the Democratic party platform.

But, they’re not America haters. They love America. They love the free enterprise system, and they’re capitalists at heart, even if they don’t always realize that their goals and intentions fly in the face of free enterprise. Why do you think the Clintons went to New York after they left the White House? They wanted to be where the money is.

They see what Obama has been doing as an attack on free enterprise (which it is), and they’re finally standing up and saying “Enough!” Clinton and Obama have never been the best of friends, and I believe that should Obama lose in November, that this simmering feud is going to boil over. Clinton is going to make a very strong effort to wrest back control of the party and restore it to “his” vision.

You’ll see the results almost immediately if he’s successful. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-08) will lose her leadership position. Blue Dogs will resurface in time for the 2014 elections, and the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee will be very Clintonesque.

On the other hand, if Clinton fails, expect the Democratic party to move even further to the left, regardless of the outcome of the elections in November. Expect them to become even angrier and more shrill. But don’t expect to see a TIME Magazine cover with Pelosi’s picture on the cover and the title “The Politics Of Hate” like you did in 1994 with Newt.

Frankly, as much as I loathe to see these people in power, the latter scenario is probably a better one for America (as long as Obama loses, that is). The more these people expose themselves and their hatred for America’s founding principles, the more it damages the Democratic party. I’m not stupid enough to pull a James Carville and predict a 40 year rule for the GOP, but I do think that a GOP majority is stronger when the differences between them and the left are more striking and visible.

November can’t get here soon enough. Is it really only the first of June?

P90X Day 34: Kenpo X

This post is a day late. My apologies. I did the workout yesterday. Just didn’t have time to write anything up about it. Which is really an excuse, because this will be a very short post.

Kenpo X. More punching and kicking at air. You know, this might be the only workout that DOESN’T have a part that I hate. Well, that’s not 100% true. A couple of the warm up stretches are pretty brutal, but after that it’s ok.

But, honestly, I have nothing to say about this. I was feeling a bit worn down when I did it, so I don’t think I worked it quite as hard as I have the last 2-3 weeks, but I’m still satisfied with the effort. I definitely still needed a shower when I finished. My daughter said so, while holding her nose, so pretty sure it’s true.

Today, X Stretch. That’s another relatively light one, before starting week 2 of Phase II tomorrow. I can definitely tell that I’ve reached the middle part of this program. Seems like it’s harder every day, but I feel better and better every day as well.

30 May, 2012

P90X Day 33: Legs & Back

For some reason, this workout seems to be getting harder, not easier. I take that as a good thing. I think it means that I'm doing it right. Most of the lunges are ok. I'm doing them all with weights now, and I may even increase the weights on a couple of them next time. The wall squats are pretty much unbearable, but then, they're supposed to be.

But the pull ups are still killing me. I think my problem is now more mental than physical, though, and it's just something I need to push through. Every time I walk over to the pull up bar, I stare up at it with dread. Then I hop up and I do 3-4 quickly and easily. It's generally not until about the seventh one where the difficulty matches my original foreboding. I don't know why I have this mental issue with them, when they've definitely gotten much easier over the last five weeks. But, I do, and it's something I need to work on.

Ab Ripper X was, well, Ab Ripper X. I am starting to surprise myself here. My sit ups are starting to look more and more like actual sit ups. Still can't do 25 of either set, but I think I did over 10 of each before they started devolving into crunches. Hey, it's progress. Give me another few months, and I may get to where I actually look like the people in the video when I'm doing this workout.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that. Kenpo X is tomorrow. Looking forward to a good cardio day, now that I've started making real progress there.

Polling The President-May 2012

It’s that time again. Time for my monthly look at President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) polling figures.

As always, I’ll start with the RealClearPolitics averages. Today, his approval/disapproval number stands at 48.0/47.4. Last month, he was –0.4, today he’s +0.6. That’s barely outside the range of statistical noise, but it is trending the right direction for Obama. And, what I said last month is still true. The good news for the White House is that this number is virtually unchanged over the last several months, and even a bit higher than last August.

I’m a little puzzled as I move on to Right Track/Wrong Track. The four most recent polls end on 5/7, 5/7, 5/20, and 5/20. Not terribly recent. But, that’s the data we have to work with. His numbers here are a dismal 33.8/58.5, which is a –24.7 spread. However, this is a slight uptick from last month, and shows a pretty significant gain over the last year. Still, as I said last month, if I’m a political consultant I’m salivating at the opportunity to run against an incumbent President when less than 34% of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction.

Next, I move on to the Consumer Confidence Index from The Conference Board. May’s report was released yesterday, and is very disappointing for the President. May’s CCI is down to 64.9, which represents a 3.8 point drop from April. The other numbers in the report don’t get any better. Only 13.6 percent of consumers say business conditions are “good”, and only 16.6 percent expect conditions to improve over the next six months. Again, the only good news in this report is that these mid 60s numbers are a whole lot better than the mid 40s numbers from last summer. However, the continuing bad news out of Europe is going to be a drag on Consumer Confidence for a while, regardless of what happens here.

Finally, as promised, it’s time to look at some head-to-head matchups with former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) in the race for the White House. The current RCP average has Obama at 45.7 and Romney at 43.7. There’s good and bad here for both sides. Obama can take solace in the fact that he’s ahead, and that his string of bad polls seems to have abated. Romney can take solace that almost all of these polls are Registered Voter polls which tend to shift Democratic by a net of about 4 points.

Romney should also be happy that 10% of the public remains undecided. Conventional wisdom says that undecideds that break late go to the challenger. But, there’s some recent data that suggests that conventional wisdom may be wrong (late deciders in 2004 went heavy for President George W. Bush (R-USA)). I think a better way to look at it may be that undecideds are closest to “Independents”. So look at how Obama and Romney are polling among Independents to get an idea of how undecideds may go on election day. In just about every poll I’ve seen, Independents are tilted heavily in favor of Romney. This may be the key data point in this year’s election. If the numbers are close (check), and GOP enthusiasm is higher (check), and Indies prefer Romney (check), it’s hard to see how he can lose.

But, until the polls shift to reflect that, we can only go with what we have.

Overall, this is a mixed bag for the President. However, he can definitely point to improvements over the last year. Despite America’s obvious displeasure with Obama and our economic situation, an incumbent with an improving economy (even if the improvement is spotty and weak, or even imaginary) is hard to defeat. NFL owners rarely fire 7-9 coaches, particularly if they were 5-11 the year before. NFL owners fire 5-11 coaches who made the playoffs the year before. If none of these numbers change, I’d give Obama a slight edge in November. Romney’s going to have to move the needle. It looks like he should be able to do so, but he hasn’t yet, and the clock is ticking.

29 May, 2012

P90X Mid-term Review

Yesterday, I did Back & Biceps for the first time. Since I did a bonus Cardio X last week, that means that I have now done all the workouts in P90X at least once. That makes me qualified (IMO) to give a mid-term review of the program. I’ll give another one once I complete it.

P90X hypes itself as an eXtreme workout program. Is it? I honestly don’t know. I have nothing with which to compare it. I’ve never done any serious workout or training program in my life. I did a little exercising on my own in college, and was a fairly avid bike rider until I was about 30. But that’s been the extent of it. I’ve never belonged to a gym, never had a personal trainer. In other words, I’ve been a couch potato most of my adult life, and I was even a “wimpy kid” back in high school.

In spite of all of this, I’ve been able to do the P90X program and have fun with it. Now, is it hard? Yes, every single workout is hard, even the stretches. This is the part where I say, “if I can do this, you can too”. And I mean it. Now, can you go from being a couch potato all your life to doing P90X like a pro tomorrow?

Sorry, but the answer to that question is an emphatic “no”.

I started working on my own to get in better shape on December 26th, 2011. As I mentioned in previous posts, I bought a Wii Fit for my kids, and ended up using it every day for myself as well. At first my “workouts” were very light, but I slowly ramped up, adding more and harder exergames, as well as putting in more time every day on my workouts. After four months of this, I felt like I was ready for P90X. I probably could’ve started P90X a month earlier, but I know I would not have been ready back on December 26th.

Still, the extra month helped me get more ready. I was also working on improving my diet in those four months, and it was also a gradual process. I don’t think I would’ve been ready for the P90X diet after three. To be honest, I’m still not perfect about it. I’ve modified it in a way that works for me, but I’m probably not doing it quite well enough to get 100% of the benefits. That will certainly be true during the last phase, when it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do the carb loading. This means I also won’t get 100% of the expected results. So be it.

So, what I’m saying is that I believe that you can do the package if you spend a little time getting ready first. The P90X Lean program is even lighter and easier. No matter what, though, if you’re out of shape like I was, or even worse, then there will be some exercises that will give you problems. Maybe you’re too overweight to go full blast for an hour on the cardio days. Maybe you have bad knees. Maybe you have weak ankles, or limited flexibility. For the most part, I don’t think these things matter. What matters is desire. For just about every single exercise, Tony shows modified methods that are either less or more intense. He’s constantly telling you, “if you need to hit pause, do it”, or “if you can’t get down this far in the lunge, don’t”, etc.

Combine that with the Lean version, which is lower impact, with more emphasis on cardio and less on muscle building, and I believe that anyone can do it. Heck, one of the guys on the Plyometrics (Jump Training!) video has one leg. And even he only does the modified versions on, I think, two of the exercises.

Now, if you do the modified versions, will you get as much out of it? No, of course not. But if that’s all you can do, then you’ll certainly get more out of it than skipping the exercise completely.

You can also modify the program to suit your needs and abilities. Go on to the website, discuss your options with your peers in forums, and with your assigned coach. Just the other day, I listed the workouts that I would do if I was trying to turn P90X into a cardio program.

So, what have I gotten out of it? Too early to say, I think. In terms of muscle and appearance, I don’t think I’ve changed visibly over the last 30 days. I was already thin, so the “Fat Shredder” phase didn’t do much for me. But I can tell you that I’m noticeably in better shape. I can do more pull ups. I can lift heavier weights. I can stretch farther. These changes may not be all that visible on my body yet, but in time they will be. And if not, I honestly don’t care. I’m not trying to get into better shape to pick up girls. I’m trying to get into better shape because I want to live longer. Improved health is my primary goal. Improved appearance is a distant second.

I do have a few minor gripes, though. No program is perfect.

  1. I don’t like the menu. It seems too heavy on breakfast for my tastes, and Phase III is very unfriendly to diabetics. Hence my modifications.
  2. They move very quickly from one exercise to the next on most of the videos, and with little demonstration or explanation. In time, you learn to appreciate this. You don’t need an explanation of Mary Katherine Hamm Lunges or Fifer Scissors or Prison Push Ups, because you know what they are. And it would frustrate you and annoy you to have to sit through it every time. The first time or two through the DVD’s though, you end up doing a lot of watching and rewinding. Or, since it’s your first time through, you’re a little slow doing the exercise and putting whatever accessories you used away. I find myself yelling “wait! wait!” at the TV often the first time I do a workout.
  3. Some parts of the body seem to get a better workout than others. There’s not much on muscle building for lower body.
  4. It’s too short. I was surprised when I realized this about a week ago, but it’s true. Hard to imagine a 90 day program being described as too short, I know. But, yesterday I did Back & Biceps for the first time. I’ll only do it four more times before the 90 days are up. How much progress can you make in a given workout if you only do it five times? More and more I’m convinced that I’m going to take a week or so off after the 90 days are over, then do a second round. 180 days seems like the right number to me.
  5. Cardio is a little light, especially in the Classic version. Both Lean and Doubles have more cardio, but there are other workout programs such as Insanity that are much more cardio intensive. If that’s your goal, you should probably look at something else.
  6. Time. The shortest workout, Cardio X, is 45 minutes. Back & Biceps is 50. All of the others are around 60, and three times a week you get an extra 15 minutes of Ab Ripper X. Then Yoga X is even longer than that, clocking in at 92 minutes. You have to really work to work it into your schedule.

Those are the cons. Really none of those are major, at least to me. YMMV. A short list of pros:

  1. You can monitor your progress in nearly every workout and see your week-to-week and even day-to-day improvement
  2. It’s fun. Tony’s a good coach. He has just the correct amount of direction, discipline and humor. The workouts are intense, but always in a light-hearted manner.
  3. I do believe that anyone can do it.
  4. My blood sugar/blood pressure/cholesterol results alone are incredible. Ask my doctor.
  5. The day-to-day variety keeps it from getting boring. The last month before I did P90X I did a lot of cardio boxing. After two weeks of it I was bored out of my mind. Pretty much the same thing every day. By the end of the month, I hated it. There are some exercises in P90X that I “hate”, but only because they’re so intense, not because it’s hard to motivate myself to do them.
  6. I may not be able to see much of the results in the mirror yet, but I can feel them. There’s no flab in my legs or arms. If I press on my stomach, I can feel my ab muscles tighten. That’s a new thing for me. I’ve never felt that in my life. Feels a little weird to be honest. But, in a good way.
  7. Accessories are cheap. I’ve spent a little money on weights. The pull up bar was cheap as were my push up bars. But you can do most everything just with resistance bands if you want. And you don’t even need the push up bars. I probably won’t start seriously using them until my second time through. I currently just use them on a couple of the exercises.

Anyway, that’s my mid-term review. I say “Bring It”.

I was going to include the “How to Bring It” video. I know I watched it online before I started, but now I can’t find the entire video online anywhere. Strange. I’ll keep looking and update this post if I can find it.

UPDATE: How To Bring It Video

P90X Day 32: Yoga X

Really, nothing new to report here today. I noticed again during the hamstring stretches that I can stretch a tiny bit farther than I could a few weeks ago. On the other hand, I had much more trouble with the balance poses today than I usually do. Your body changes every day. Next week I’ll do the balance poses fine, most likely.

The first 45 minutes are still brutal. New yoga goals: 1) be able to do half-moon and twisting half-moon without falling down, 2) be able to do twisting triangle and twisting half-moon and have it look like that’s what I’m doing.

Tomorrow, Legs & Back.

Up next, mid-term review.

Black Is White, Up Is Down, Right Is Wrong, And…

Aaron Walker is in custody as I write this.

Who is Aaron Walker? He’s one of the bloggers who has been harassed by Brett Kimberlin. I’m sure you remember who that is.

He has been taking into custody for violation of the following peace order:


What did Walker do? He blogged about Kimberlin’s attempt to frame him and silence him. Today a judge agreed with Kimberlin that Walker has no First Amendment rights.

For years now, Glenn Beck has been saying “you will wake up one morning and no longer recognize your country”. Today is the day.

Stacy McCain (who has been forced into hiding, due to being another blogger facing Kimberlin’s wrath) reports:

Aaron Walker, whose complaint against convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin became a conservative cause célèbre this past week, was reportedly taken into custody today after a court hearing in Rockville, Maryland.

One person who attended the hearing in Montgomery County District Court said that Kimberlin asserted that Walker’s continued blogging represented a violation of a “peace order” Kimberlin had obtained against the Virginia attorney, who says Kimberlin tried to “frame” him for assault earlier this year.

During the course of the hearing — which reportedly lasted about an hour — Judge C.J. Vaughey appeared to become increasingly hostile toward Walker, who was taken into custody when the hearing concluded.

On Thursday, May 17, Walker published a 28,000-word account of his experience being targeted by Kimberlin, which soon caught the attention of leading figures in online New Media, including University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, who writes the popular Instapundit blog, and bestselling author Michelle Malkin, who warned her readers, “Please remember: Kimberlin is a radical, violent, lying, dangerous felon.”

Further updates may be found on McCain’s blog. As Professor Reynolds says, “read the whole thing”.

Lee Stranahan (one of the organizers behind last week’s “Everyone Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day”) has called for an “Everyone Blog About Aaron Walker Day” – right now.

This affects everyone in America. I have blogged in the past that the left hates free speech. I’ve actually been working on a follow-up to that post, regarding Rush Limbaugh, our President, Media Matters for America and their war on Fox News, and the aforementioned Brett Kimberlin.

I’ll finish that up, but later. This is more urgent. The left will use this victory today against free speech (and make no mistake, that’s what it is) to further their goals of shutting up those who disagree with them. Expect the Kimberlin method to repeated as often and in as many places as possible. Without the protection of the First Amendment, all of our other God given rights are assailable.

The battle lines have been drawn. In the end, there will be no bystanders. You will either fight back against this oppressive government control over your life, or you will fall victim to it.

I, for one, have no intention of being a victim. I stand with Aaron Walker.

UPDATE: More info from Patterico. He paints the same description of the shredding of the First Amendment and it’s implications, but with greater detail. Read here.

28 May, 2012

P90X Day 31: Back & Biceps


Ok, that’s out of the way. Did Back & Biceps for the first time this morning. It’s a rough workout, but I can see it possibly replacing Chest & Back as my favorite some day. It really works the upper body. It’s also the first of the workouts that I felt worked my forearms to any significant degree. I enjoyed that because I’ve always felt my forearms look like toothpicks. Not that I want to look like Popeye, but anything would be an improvement.

For once, I nailed the weights pretty much perfectly on all the exercises. I was a little low on a couple, but I realized it after 1 or 2 reps and upped the weight. I was still low on Lawnmowers. You’d think I’d have that one right by now, since it’s also part of Chest & Back, and this is the 4th time I’ve done it, but no. Every week I add five pounds. Every week, I think I’ve got it, and every week, it’s still too light. I started at 20 pounds, because that was all I had initially. This week I did 14 reps at 40. Next week, I’ll do 45. I’m trying to get to the 8 to 10 reps range.

Only one other gave me trouble with the weights, and that was the very last exercise. You’re supposed to 4 sets of 8 reps each of strip-set curls. You’re supposed to start with the maximum weight you can do and drop it a bit with each set. I started with 20, and I’m not sure I could’ve done 25. That meant my last two were 10 and 5. 10 might be ok for the fourth set, but it was too light for the third. 5 is just too light, period. Maybe I could go to 12 and 10. If I can get the first set up to 25, then I think it’ll be a good exercise for me.

BTW, I thought of a new goal today. I’d like to eventually match the weights Tony uses on all of the exercises. For most of them I’m about 20 pounds lighter. So, I’m not going to catch him on this round of P90X, that’s for certain. It seems extremely unlikely that I’ll even catch him on a second round, but it’s not totally out of the question. If I can make it to a third round, maybe I can catch him there.

There are some killer pull ups variations on this workout, and it starts with my nemesis, Wide Front Pull-Ups. If you recall, my goal is to be able to do 10 of those. I did 7 this morning without the chair, and 3 with it. Not quite there, but a huge improvement over week one.

And, afterwards, of course, I had Ab Ripper X. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Yeah, bite me, Nietzsche.

I don’t even remember what tomorrow brings. The days are starting to run together. Probably Yoga X. See you then.

Why I Use Bing Instead of Google, Part 3049

Memorial Day 2012:

google memorial day 2012


bing memorial day 2012

27 May, 2012

P90X Day 30: Plyometrics

I did this first thing this morning, just haven't had a a chance to post about it until now. The day before Memorial Day is a busy one in my household.

As I've mentioned numerous times now, the cardio workouts give me trouble. Oh, who am I kidding? They all give me trouble, just in different ways. A better way to say it is that I'm often dissatisfied with my performance during the cardio workouts. Well, either I'm getting better at them or it's getting easier to raise my heart rate. I was "in the zone" pretty much constantly during Plyometrics today, and even managed to do the "Hot Foot" exercise right for the first time.

And, wow, was I pooped afterwards. And totally soaked in sweat. I may just have to burn the clothes I was wearing. I'm not sure they're salvageable. ;) I'm actually starting to like this workout quite a bit. Or, as I say about Ab Ripper X, "I hate it, but I love it." (ok, I stole that quote from Tony Horton without attribution. Err...now I think it's no longer without attribution)

Actually, the most amazing thing about today is that I am pretty much right on target for nutrition. Since I had pizza from my favorite pizza joint for lunch, that's remarkable. I should get some sort of medal for the self-control I showed today.

Tomorrow, Back & Biceps. That's another new one, and I assume Ab Ripper X will be at the end, but I haven't actually looked. Since I'm off work tomorrow, I'll probably do it first thing and try to get out an early post tomorrow. Perhaps I'll even have two tomorrow.