Monday, March 31, 2008

A New Twist on Yoga

This weekend begins our second P90X Recovery week. Saturday we did the Core routine and I still think that is one of the best videos. Or at least it's one of my favorites. I still remember how sore I was after the first time doing it. I don't remember any of the other videos making me as sore. I think that's because I've been lifting weights all along. But the exercises in the Core routine, work the muscles that you didn't know you had.

Yesterday, I did the dreaded Yoga routine. The only reason why I sill call it 'dreaded' is because it takes so long. At this point in the program, I am able to do the entire routine and that feels great - a nice accomplishment, even for a seasoned yogi. My husband was very busy weekend and just couldn't afford taking the entire 93 minutes that the yoga routine requires. He is not quite as dedicated as I am - mostly because he often has to travel for work which makes sticking to the exact P90X routine impossible. Once you fall off the wagon, you're done. Which is why I am incredibly anal about not missing a single day.

In place of the hour and a half yoga routine, my husband did his own version of yoga. It's called Sword Yoga and I guess this is his creation. Look out Tony, Karlo may create his own version of P90X, but you'll need a big, bad, mean sword in order to do it. I have to tell you, I am strong . . . and I can barely hold this baby up. Check him out:

Friday, March 28, 2008

P90X Lean Version

Or not. As I have said many times before, our “Lean version” is not exactly what it appears. We added Plyometrics to the routine, and still continue our afternoon weight lifting sessions. If anything, our own custom Lean version is tougher than the P90X classic version. Take today for example. Friday is “Rest day” and this is what our rest day looks like:

This is what we call our Bicep Blast. That first set went on longer, but since I was getting bored filming it, I didn’t want to you bore you with too much of it. Karlo sets me up with enough weight to make me want to cry and then we stand facing each other and I match him set for set. By the time we are done, picking up my glass of water is usually a challenge. NOTHING in the P90X videos gets my heart exploding out of my chest like these biceps blasts. I always have to roll my eyes a bit when I see and hear the over-acting of the buff athletes on the videos, grimacing in pain and moaning up a storm. Come on, you can’t look that buff and be THAT challenged with the little dumbbells. I give them all an A for their acting. Spend 15 minutes in the gym with my husband. Now THAT will make you grunt and moan and THAT I’ll believe!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Posing for the Cover of Down Dog Magazine

Oooops, where did this week go? Although I've been slacking a bit with the blog, I have not been slacking with the P90X work-outs. Today ended Week 7 which means we start our second recovery week on Saturday. This whole thing has been going by faster than I expected. We are more than half done and I already feel great. Nothing feels greater than watching myself improve and get stronger. I am noticing so many areas where I improved. For instance, I'm ready to "pose for the cover of Down Dog magazine." That line of Tony's cracks me up every time I hear it. I've been doing yoga for over 6 years and never did Down Dog feel as good as it does now. I feel as though my body is made of steel. My heels are planted squarely on the ground and my arms feel strong enough to hold me there all day. LOVE IT.

I also want to mention Ab Ripper X. In a blog posting a few weeks ago, I made a comment that I'll never be able to do all the exercises in that routine. Well, I was wrong. This week I did it. Still challenging, no doubt, but I did it! And today my abs feel hard as a rock. As a matter of fact, I never really felt them engage so much during Kenpo X. I'm on my way to the '6 pack.'

I was talking to somebody today that mentioned that I seem to enjoy the 'high' of taking on a big challenge and then soaking in the sense of accomplishment. He was referring to a big project that I'm in the middle of, and he has no idea how much he nailed me. When I think back to the decision to start P90X, that was exactly what I was after. I even explained to a friend, "I want the challenge of having a difficult goal - just to see if I can do it." My motivation wasn't to lose weight or even to get into great shape. I just wanted to torture myself to see if I could take it. Then, at the end, feel that sense of accomplishment. My friend didn't get it. She suggested I stick bamboo under my fingertips for torture, commenting that, "At least that wouldn't take an hour per day."

I'm sure there are lots of people reading this that can understand my quest for accomplishment. I think most of the reason I cycle long distances is for that feeling. I've had some great rides in my life, but then again, I've also had many dreadful ones. In telling stories about the dreadful ones, people always question, "Why do you do it?" Why do you climb Mt. Everest? Because it's there, I suppose. And if I wasn't such a cold weather wimp and didn't think the climb would kill me, I would probably want to do that too. But for now, I'm just happy tackling P90X.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Half Moon Yoga Pose Trick

I think I got it. I figured out how to do those impossible one-legged standing poses. To date, that series of 'standing on one leg' poses was the only part of the P90X Yoga X that I couldn't fully do. And it was buggin' me. I could do just about every single exercise on every single video, as good, if not better, than the buff chicks in the videos. And yoga is my thing so I HAD to be able to do the entire routine.

Well, this morning was my first time lasting through the entire series of Half Moons and whatever the other poses are called when you're standing on one leg with the other in the air. I finally discovered the trick. Instead of keeping my standing leg slightly bent, I simply made it as straight as I could. This seemed to take a lot of pressure off of my burning thigh muscle, and the pose went from a thigh strength endurance test to a balancing act. With my standing leg straight, my muscles were no longer doing all the work. All I had to do at this point was balance my weight. Yes, it's still ridiculously awkward, but now that I know the proper form, I can work on improving the balancing act.

I tested my theory by sharing the new discovery with my husband, who also struggles with these unattainable poses. To my surprise, he agreed that my suggestion helped him and he was able to get much further along with the second leg. Now I'm looking forward to Yoga X again next week. And as luck would have it, next week is another recover week so we get to face Yoga X twice in one week.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Plyometrics Revisited

What a difference a day can make! Just a few days ago, I took my first stab at Plyo and it went amazingly well. I set my expectations for an impossible workout, but instead I found it very doable and even fun. That changed drastically today.

I had a few things working against me today — the biggest being horrific stomach cramps that started at 4 AM and kept me awake tossing and turning in agony. I never experienced the pain from a miscarriage before, but I'm betting it feels something close to what I felt this morning. After a few sleepless hours and several trips to the bathroom, for lack of any other methods of relief, it got to be 9:30 and I couldn’t put off P90X any longer. How on earth was I going to get through a work-out today? We normally do Core on Saturdays, but I wanted to switch it up with Plyo for 2 reasons: 1) my stomach was already in enough agony, and 2) I had a tougher time with the leg work-out when it immediately followed Plyo. My bad knee wasn't too happy about it. So Plyo seemed the smartest thing to do today. Well, the smartest thing to do would have been to skip the work-out all together, but I'm way too committed for that.

So I went through with it. And it was torture. So many things were working against me. Working out in the mornings is always harder, but this morning I was in so much abdominal pain. Then I had that weird phenomena where your stomach doesn't seem to be attached to the rest of your innards. Is there a technical word for this condition where your stomach makes horrible gluncking noises every time you jump? I hate that. Imagine doing Plyo with all the gluncking and sharp pains. Then there's my chronic low blood pressure. I think jumping around in the morning with no food in me is especially challenging. I was constantly dizzy and graying out.

I kept thinking that God was trying to punish me. I didn't eat any meat yesterday (Good Friday) but it felt like I must have. Maybe I swore or lied on Good Friday. There has to be some reason that I was being dragged through the firey pits of Hell this morning.

All I can say is that I'm very proud of myself for getting through it all. It wasn't pretty, but I did it. I kept thinking about how much fun I had the first time and how I made the work-out seem so easy. I even inspired a friend that doesn't really care too much for exercise to want to do Plyo. Then it occurred to me that I may have sugar-coated the routine. I had visions of my friend buying this video and attempting it . . . Then immediately driving to my house to beat me silly. In fact, I'm sure she would get a better work-out from beating me than from trying to do Plyo. If you're investigating P90X and considering taking on Plyo, just make sure you're ready for it. Don't attempt it if you are not feeling your best. It's will take everything you got to get through it, so make sure you have what it takes to start with.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plyometrics for the First Time

Last night was our first time doing the Plyo video, which is basically "jump training." As I mentioned last week, we decided to modify our P90X “Lean” version by substituting Cardio for Plyo. There were a couple different factors that lead me to the decision to do the Lean version to begin with. One was that I didn’t want to give up my normal afternoon weight-lifting sessions, as I KNOW those are doing the trick. But also . . . Plyo just plain scared me! I thought it best to avoid it.

But after doing several Cardio sessions and not being at all challenged, I thought it was time to step it up. Tony refers to the Plyo routine as “the mother of all P90X work-outs.” He also says something like “Plyo puts the X in P90X.” (gulp) All his chatter during the warm up terrified me. But actually, when it came right down to it . . . it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was sort of fun! The best part is that most exercises only last 30 seconds. And as Tony says, “You can do anything for 30 seconds.” No matter how bad or hard it is — it’s temporary. There was so much variety and the hour went by pretty fast. I look forward to doing it again. The only bad part was . . . it was impossible for me to stay awake until the end of American Idol last night!

I'm very pleased that I didn’t have too much trouble with my bad knee (which was a big fear). It was sore immediately after the work-out, but today it feels fine. I’m also amazed that my muscles are not sore today. This stuff must be working! Where is my bike? I can’t wait to tackle a hill.

You can catch a sneak peek at the Plyo video here:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Who Knew?

After last week's Chest, Shoulders & Biceps routine I made some personal goals for myself . . . one being to be able to do clapping push-ups. Since last week was our first time with this routine, I didn't even attempt to try them. I thought for sure I would break my nose.

It's funny how much braver and more confident you get the second time around on each video. The first time is terrifying. You have no idea what to expect. You are unsure what weights to try. You are lost trying to follow all the moves. You are convinced that everything is super hard and unattainable. But then the second time around, you feel like an old pro - more confident just knowing what to expect.

So today, I decided that I was going to give the clapping push-ups a shot. And to my surprise, I could do them! Who knew? I got so excited that after the entire session was over I went to grab my camera. Now please keep in mind that this video was taken after an hour of grueling push-ups and dumbell exercises. My arms felt as though they were pulled through a pasta machine. But I still managed to bust out a few extra push-ups for the camera.

Please be careful looking at the rug - may cause dizziness!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tranquil Yoga . . . Or Not

It might have been tranquil . . . had I not gone through the entire night last night without actually falling asleep. I had one ice tea at lunch time and it did me in. The caffeine was still surging through my body after midnight and kept me awake all night. This isn't the first time this has happened to me. I can't drink caffeine at any time of day - period.

Instead of sleeping, I laid in bed and thought about WORK, of all things, for hours. What is wrong with me? I was actually looking forward to finally being able to get out of the bed and start yoga. I had a positive attitude going in, but the lack of sleep must have sent me into negativity. I didn't feel as strong as I did during last week's session. The things that I can't do (and will never be able to do because my body just doesn't bend that far or move that way) really bugged me today. I thought I have come to terms with my body's funny quirks, but apparently I haven't.

I complained out loud, "Why am I SO FAR from being able to stretch like that?" (in cobbler's pose). I’m not THAT inflexible. Why was this bothering me so much today? Then, at one point, Tony was explaining the proper form to holding your arms in the air before reaching over to sitting forward stretch. Just holding my arms up was uncomfortable, never mind the stretching. He jabbered on and on about the proper form and I felt compelled to blurt out, "Just shut up and stretch already." My husband just laughed at me and said, "OM, tranquil and clear mind." I told him to shut up too ;-)

Take Tony's "Tip of the Day" to heart and make sure you really clear your mind before doing your next yoga session. It can make or break the entire experience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fridays are Rest Days

And I love them! Yesterday was Kenpo, but in addition, we did a bicep blast during our lunch break. I guess I’m missing biceps since we moved into Phase 2, and no longer do that video. Which leads me to the fact that we are going to modify our routine a bit . . . We are currently doing the Lean version of P90X. The basic difference is the amount of weight lifting days. Classic requires 3 days of lifting, where Lean only requires 2 days. However, we have been supplementing by doing extra lifting in the afternoons. This means we are still getting at least 3 days of lifting per week. We concentrate on whatever muscle group is not getting hit with P90X. In addition, next week we are going to ditch Cardio and add Plyometrics (jump training). Cardio just isn’t challenging, and I’m eager to see if we can do Plyo. This one scares me, and my bad knee, but I want to give it a shot. I don’t think I can hurt my knee any more than the last time I did squats with my crazy husband/trainer. He doesn’t seem to understand the fact that my muscles can withstand a lot more weight than my knee can. I no longer trust him with my leg workouts. He’s fired as my trainer when it comes to legs!

I haven’t posted any real photos in the last few weeks. I guess this is because I have come to the realization that I’m not really going to change all that much. After looking at all the before and after photos on, it’s apparent that the girls don’t really transform much. Most of the girls posted in the success stories where in good shape to begin with, and realistically how ripped can a girl get? So instead of photos of my same old (hey, wait a minute . . . not literally “old”) arms, I’m going to start to post videos of me doing the P90X moves.

Here’s my first video of pull-ups. I can only do 1 or 2 pull-ups more than I could when I started, only now I can pull up from standing – without jumping up. (Please note, this is not shown in the video thanks to my husband’s slow shutter finger.) You will see that I only come down until my elbows are at 90 degrees, but my goal is to increase the angle, in addition to increasing the reps. I ultimately want to do 10 reps, with more travel. When I realized that the video didn’t start soon enough, my husband said, “Just do it again.” And I would . . . only Friday is rest day – sorry.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Tail Was Dragging Today

I don't remember a day that I dreaded doing my P90X work-out more than I did today. Wait a minute . . . I don't think I EVER dreaded doing it before today. But this afternoon, I was exhausted. I have to blame my husband because his cell phone alarm went off at 3:15 AM and woke me out of the most blissful, deep sleep. I was not a happy camper. After that, I tossed and turned and never could fall back to sleep. That set the tone for the rest of the day.

On the 30 minute commute home from work, a sat there in the car cherishing every minute of the relaxing ride. I wished it would take just a little longer so I could catch a little longer snooze. I should make a note here that my husband and I work together, and I am the passenger during the commute. I was not snoozing at the wheel!

We got home and I let out a big sigh . . . . "uuuuuugh, do we have to work-out?" I made it flawless this far and I'm not breaking my perfect record. Luckily, I already did Ab Ripper X at lunchtime, so that would help lessen the pain. Tonight was Legs and Back and considering how stinkin' tired I was, I think I did great. I felt freakishly strong and breezed through most of the entire work-out. I did more pull-ups then ever and the only thing that killed me, as usual, was the skin on my palms (and I wore gloves today). And now that it's all over and my tummy is full from my stir-fry dinner, I'm feeling better and more awake than I did all day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

That's What I'm Talking About

I may have been getting a little too comfortable with P90X. After doing the same routines for 4 weeks, it was getting a little ho hum and not too challenging. Well, THAT changed last night.

I was very anxious to start Phase 2 and experience a brand new video. Last night was that experience. We tackled Chest, Shoulders and Triceps and my goodness, it was challenging. I was still proud of myself. Despite not being able to do everything in the routines, I still kicked the butt of the chick on video. I only had to drop to my knees on some of the push-ups, where she was on her knees for all of them.

My new personal goals:
  • I want to do real one-armed push-ups.
  • I want to be able to do the push-ups where you clap in between - or better yet, flying push-ups.
When I woke up this morning, it felt like I got run over by a truck. But now I'm sitting at my desk, amazed that nothing is hurting. My arms feel fine. Maybe it will take 24 hours for the soreness to kick in.

I'm eager to try this video next week just to see if and where I'm making improvements. I will never forget watching the movie G.I. Jane with Demi Moore. It inspired me so much, I was ready to join a boot camp after seeing it. I want to be G.I. Jane, but I'm not shaving my head!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Things To Note After Completing Phase 1

I'm very excited to have started Phase 2 of P90X. Here are some of things that I took note of this past week:

  • My downdog has improved greatly. I can comfortable stay in down dog for as long as required in the video with very little to no discomfort. Down dog has always challenged me in the past and now I consider it a resting point.
  • I just realized that I can pull myself up to start my chin ups. In the past I have always jumped up to begin. I would jump up, come down and count the next trip up as #1. Now I can just simply pull myself up from the chair (or the pull up machine in the gym). This amazed me. I still can't pull up from a dead hang, but we'll see where I am at the end of Phase 2. I still think it will take a miracle to pull up from a dead hang.
  • I can now hold chatterunga (is that how you spell it?) for several seconds longer than I could in the past.
  • My legs feel stronger and tighter than I dreamed they would. I feel as though I biked the day before - every day! We really only concentrated on legs one day out of the week, but apparently all the other exercises hit the legs enough to keep them tight.
  • All of my kicks in Kenpo are much higher than when I started.
  • I can pick up my legs higher, faster and easier in 'steam engine' after completely Phase 1. - All of the ab work is much easier than it was when I first started. My abs improved quickly and drastically.

Basically, I am better conditioned in every aspect. I feel stronger all around and my cardio came back quickly. I already feel "ready to ride" and we still have two Phases to go.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Photo

I just realized that I didn't take my Week 3 photo. I've been 'home alone' all week with nobody to take a picture of me. So I let a MacBook do the work . . . and my bicep after 3 weeks . . .

OK, not really. Have you ever played with the morphing and distorting features? Yeah, I may have distorted my bicep a bit. Gee, that was much easier than actually doing all the lifting!

Tonight will be my last Phase 1 session. It's a yoga night and for some strange reason, I'm really looking forward to it. I guess I'm just excited to start Phase 2. The coworker who discovered P90X last year and started this whole craze is visiting from the West Coast this week. He brought with him the new P90X Plus videos. I haven't ventured to try them yet, but I heard they are killer. I guess we'll be doing that next winter. Gulp! He also mentioned that he didn't really see major changes in his body on his first run with P90X until the Phase 3. That is interesting. I guess I still have a long way to go.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One More Day of Recovery

Today was the Cardio day of my first P90X recovery week. And I have to say, it seemed really easy. At only 43 minutes total time, the whole session seemed so short. All the other days are just at, if not over, an hour. This was like cheating. I noticed that I can do everything in the video in perfect form, as fast as the folks on the video, and for as many reps. This pleases me greatly. I just wish I can one day say the same about Ab Ripper X.

Earlier today I went to to visit the user forums and check out some sucess stories. It was a bit discouraging that all the before and after photos of the men are all amazing. They all look ripped and the makeovers were inspiring to look at. But the girls, however, did not have the same amazing results. The first thing I noticed was that most of the girls already looked good before they started the program. I guess that tends to end in less amazing results. I know I fall in this same category. I never really expected my looks to change much. Too bad P90X can't make my face prettier or my hair nicer ;-) I will have to resolve to the fact that, in the end, I will look the same. But I'll feel much better - that's for sure. I already feel great.

P90X Stretch

Yesterday was my first Stretching session. It was difficult with my screaming neck pain, but I have to say . . . I felt a little better when it was over. Well, not just because it was over, but because the muscles in my neck and back were a little less tight and therefore a little less painful. That was good news. The bad news is that it didn't take more than a couple of hours to tighten back up again.

Later in the day I was reading a yoga blog that I recently discovered. To my delight, the writer suggested a book that looks like it really may help. It's called "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook". When I visited the link to the book, it showed where the trigger points are in the neck and that is the EXACT spot where most of my pain lies. From those trigger points, the illustrations showed where the pain can radiate too. Also exactly what I'm experiencing. It has gotten to the point now where the muscles are pinching some nerves causing my teeth to tingle. This is getting ridiculous and I'm getting worried. I made it this far into P90X. I can't stop now.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Trying To Be a Trooper

Yesterday was the first time I did my P90X workout in our gym at work. I wasn’t too keen on this as it’s sort of embarrassing. I much prefer the privacy of my own home. But I had something to do after work and I needed to get it out of the way. So I was on my way down the hallway from my office to the gym, carrying my small gym bag in the most awkward way. I had the handles of the bag clutched into both of my hands, both arms bent up at 90 degrees so that my hands were at face level, and the bag was hanging near my chest. I was walking like I had a board strapped to my back and a coworker asked if I was carrying a load of bricks. I explained that this was the only way I could carry the bag without too much pain . . . and then said I was on my way to the gym to work out! I got a blank “sure you are” expression and my coworker thought I lost my mind.

As if P90X isn’t challenging enough, this incredible pain in my neck (and I don’t mean my husband) is really making my life difficult. But I was a trooper. I got through Kenpo X despite the pain. I never looked in the direction of the punches and kicks like I should have, but I did the routine none the less. The hardest parts for me where jogging in place and, believe it or not, bending over into a forward stretch.

I have GOT to fix this before the start of Phase 2.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Yoga Dreams Squashed

Well, my dream of becoming a yoga instructor has officially been squashed. This weekend I came to the sad realization that it could never happen. I just have too many quirky problems that would prevent it. My biggest problem is my stupid shoulders. What is wrong with them? I simply can not move my shoulders in the proper positions for many poses. Remember my “I Hate Superman” posting? It’s very hard for me to get my arms straight out ahead of me during Superman. And side angle pose . . . forget that one. I feel as though my shoulder would shatter if I tried to move my arm from straight up toward the ceiling to pointing straight over my head in front of me. Just ain’t gonna happen.

Then there’s my post ankle surgery nerve problems. Believe it or not, I can’t properly get into Child’s Pose. Can you imagine being challenged by Child’s Pose? I just can’t do it right. How can a yoga instructor not be able to do Child’s Pose? I knew about these problems before, but for whatever reason this weekend settled it for me. I would be a terrible instructor and I’m promptly removing that dream from my dream board.

I think I might just be down. In addition to my normal physical problems, I’ve really been struggling with this neck issue. I thought I pulled something during my first (or was is second?) week of pull-ups. I have had chronic neck and shoulder issues for the past 4 years so I wasn’t sure if I really pulled something or if it was the same old thing coming back to haunt me. I’m pretty sure at this point that it’s my TMJ flaring up from stress. I’m a mess. I’m just thankful that this agony is happening during “recovery week.” I have got to fix it before the start of Phase 2. I just wish I knew how. If anybody out there has any experience with TMJ problems, please share.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Core Routine Not Getting Any Easier

Today starts our "recovery week." I'm not so sure it will be any easier than all the other weeks. In fact, it may even be harder. We are substituting the two lifting days with one extra yoga session and one stretching session. The stretching session will be new to us, but I know exactly what to expect from yoga. That's the hardest video so far, and now we have to do it twice this week. Uuugh.

This morning's Core routine was not any easier than it was 3 weeks ago. I was dragging and watching the clock. It may have been from the lack of dinner last night. No fuel in the body = body dragging and low in energy. I also struggled with my darn tights constantly slipping down. Why I was wearing tights on a cardio intense day, I'm not so sure. I guess because it's way too cold in our house to bare putting on shorts. I spend a lot of the time looking out the window to give my mind a mental escape, and all I could see was the snow falling. Just looking at that makes me feel colder. Watching all the folks on the video always cracks me up because they are dripping in sweat and I usually end some of the routines still in goosebumps. But anyway, back to my so-called "tights." Why do I always have baggy tights? Boy, there's a good oxymoron. This is not a new development and a result of P90X doing it's job. Seems I've struggled with my tights slipping down for as long as I can remember. That might have been this morning's biggest challenge and certainly very distracting. I'm going to have to suck up the cold and start wearing shorts.

After I we got through the Core session, we ventured out into the snow. First we tried to ski, but that didn't go so good and decided to snow shoe instead. This was my first experience with my new shoe shoes and wow, what a work out that was. Looking back on it, the Core session didn't seem so bad. I think I burned more calories walking in the snow.