Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life After P90X

I actually finished about 78 Days of the X. That last week Moppet 4 was ill and I did not have time to work out at all, except for a few walks outside...and I found that I was so relieved not to be Xing that I did not go back and finish the last week. I did not realize how tired I was until I stopped. Someone said the same thing on a fitness forum last week, so I guess Tony can also have that effect on others!

The Final grade of the Program is A...for Enjoyability, Value and Results.

Despite the fact that P90X wiped me out, I enjoyed myself just about every time I worked out. Some days it was harder than others and so I had to use less weight, but I always found Tony motivating and the workouts thorough.

I paid 100.00 new on Amazon for the 12 DVDs, and I think I got my money's worth even if I never use one again (although I know I will). Even taking into consideration the fact that I only used about 8 of the 12 discs regularly, the cost of each month was far less than I would have paid for a personal trainer or even a basic gym membership.

The results I got with the X were dramatic. I gained a lot of strength, lost a lot of fat, and really shaped up The Ol' Bod. The first week, for example, I could do something like 3 pushups on my toes/10 on my knees for a particular kind of pushup. By the last week, I could do the same move 15 times on my toes and another 15 or more on my knees.

Since I don't weigh myself, I can't say "I lost X number of pounds". But I can say that almost all my clothes are literally falling off me. I am probably just about the size I was when I was 20, and I am finally losing fat from "The Most Stubborn Areas", which for me are the front and back torso. I could eat twinkies and pork rinds all day and never get a saddlebag, but those icky bra rolls are something I have had even when I was thin in the past - but they are nearly gone now. I'm sure a lot of that is also due to my eating habits being much more healthy than in bygone days, but the weight/resistance work in the X has actually given my body "shape" where none existed before.

So, doing The X was a great experience both physically and mentally. It challenged my body and my was one of the hardest things I have ever done, in terms of both bodily and psychological strength and endurance. I would recommend this program to anyone who has already made exercise a habit and who is not afraid to work hard and push their limits. It doesn't matter how much weight you can lift or your current endurance or flexibility. If you have mastered the basics of exercise, you can modify this program to meet your needs, and if you Bring It you will come out the other side in much better shape!

Since I finished I have been doing the new Squeeze workouts, and some really fun and challenging cardios called Force Fitness. It was surprising to me how difficult non-P90x workouts felt! I guess your body really does get accustomed to what you are doing, and at some level even hard things seem easier after a while.

The new Squeezes are very hard and awesome! I definitely yell with the difficulty more than I ever did with Tony! Squeeze Stronger is 80 minutes, which is long, but it's broken up into two 45 minute segments - Upper Body and Waist, and Lower Body and Abs. I start with only 5 pounds in the upper body work, but by the end I am down to 2 pounds, and the thigh and butt work is a real burner! The Lower Body Challenge is 30 minutes, and it is a tough half hour.

The Forces might be my favorite cardio workouts. They have very simple choreography, but a lot of variety. You do a new move every minute. The moves are mostly cardio and you can do them on the floor or on a step, and you hold very light weights during those portions. Occasionally there is a minute of abs/core or other light weight moves (you can up the poundage in these sections). There are beginner, intermediate and advanced versions shown. A few weeks ago when Moppet 4 was sick and I was none too well myself, I actually found myself doing the intermediate and beginner modifications, and even stopped at 25 minutes! That is very unlike me, but one thing I learned in the X months is that you just need to (quoting Tony) "Do Your Best, and Forget the Rest"...and I have learned that sometimes your best is just not very impressive from the outside. Sometimes your best will actually be nothing. But listening to your body and doing what you can is both empowering and comforting. You know you have choices, and you also know that you are not falling off the wagon even if you are slowing the horses down a bit!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In The Home Stretch...and My New Way of Eating

I am in week ELEVEN of P90x! It will all end in just two and a half weeks! This week I moved from doing my pullups with resistance bands to doing them on my Fluidity Bar. Those are still nowhere near full pullups, but I could only do half as many as I have worked up to on the bands, and my back is sore from the shoulders down, so they must be working the right muscles.

I have never been tired of Tony Horton for even one teeny, tiny minute. Even the workouts I did less than specified I never got tired of - I just had to cut back the intensity some weeks and I won't cut out the weight work. I think in these last two weeks I am going to bring yoga back, but I am going to split it over 2 days - the moving postures on Thursday, and the balance/stretch postures on Saturday. That will make those workout days only 45 minutes instead of an hour, which I will appreciate. But the yoga does something good for my left side and hip, which give me a lot of problems, and I notice when I don't include them in my week.

I am so thrilled to have come this far in this program...I know I could die within the next two weeks and not complete it, but barring that or a similar tragedy, I know that I will soon be a P90X Graduate. When I first started exercising and I saw that in someone's signature line on the Video Fitness forum, I was in awe. I thought I would never be able to do something labeled "extreme" - and here I am, not even a year later, doing it! This has been good for so much more than my health and figure. It has been wonderful for me psychologically to see that I could set my mind to a fairly long-term goal, a hard one, and accomplish it. While that is not totally unheard of in my life, it is not the norm. I know that finishing P90X will give me confidence to attempt other projects that scare me or seem too difficult.

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to try to blast off my remaining pounds. I am just not a diet person, though, so if I had to be miserable eating too few calories or eliminate whole food groups, I would just hang onto the extra fat. Then I was browsing around in health and fitness websites and I came across an article called Ten Foods You Should Eat Every Day, and I knew that was the kind of eating plan for me! It would make sure that I was getting at least some healthy variety, and since it is comprised of all unprocessed, unrefined foods, it would make for a clean diet which is good for losing fat. There were a few foods on the list I don't like...fresh tomatoes and black beans. So, I substituted lean protein (chicken or turkey breast) for the beans and just left the tomatoes out. So, this is the list I have written on the white board in my kitchen:

Oranges or Fresh Orange Juice
Lean Protein
Whole Grains
and I added eggs, but I have not included them every day

I have just been putting together meals and snacks based on this list...for example - grilled chicken from the fridge, on a whole grain corn tortilla with cilantro, pepper jack cheese and spinach, with either yogurt and blueberries on the side or a glass of orange juice. Or brown rice with shredded spinach and cashews, with some carrots on the side. I've been doing this for a little over a week and have already shed some fat in the most stubborn areas. I have been eating other things too, even some junk. But I think making sure I get my nutrients, and the fact that these foods make good, filling meals without oodles of calories is what has broken through the plateau.

That said, I am making almond filled danish pastries today! But I did find a way to make some more forgiving baked goods healthier...King Arthur Flour sells a whole wheat flour made from white whole wheat that is naturally lighter than the traditional whole wheat and ground more finely
The other day I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with this flour and oats, making them 100% whole grain...and nobody noticed! Plus the fact that I cut down the sugar, these were cookies that were "Good Tasting and Good For You", and I had no qualms about letting Moppet 4 have five of them!

Well, it's time to break out the weights for my last Shoulders and Arms workout in this P90X round.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Can't Believe I'm Already in Phase Three

When I first began P90x, I thought the months would drag, doing the same workouts for 13 weeks! But it has really sped by. In this phase you do the Phase 1 workouts in weeks 9 and 11, and Phase 2 workouts in weeks 10 and 12, with week 13 being the final recovery week - wherein you collapse and die...I mean wherein you congratulate yourself for a job well done, and stand in front of the mirror looking pleased.

In the past few weeks I have eliminated yoga and replaced it with XStretch. The yoga is an excellent program, but it is very long and very hard to do along with the difficult resistance work. The stretch is very yoga inspired and a full hour itself, and it definitely filled the flexibility need, although it's lacking the strength work in Yoga X, which is why I'm skipping it! Doing it the day after Back and Biceps (Phase 2) or Shoulders and Arms (Phase 1) is just too much, and it was having a serious dread factor for me. I didn't even do it in the last recovery week. I am sure I will pull it out again sometime in the future, but not in a P90X rotation. I have also used Ab Ripper X only once or twice a week, rather than 3 times.

As I get closer to the end of the 90 days, I appreciate this program even more. I think that in the future I will pattern my workout weeks on the P90x protocol -three days of strength, two of cardio and one flexibility. I may even alternate one month P90x/one month other workouts or perhaps 2 weeks P90x/2 weeks other workouts just to maintain the great results I have gotten with these discs. I think the results would have actually been incredible if I had really cleaned up my eating, but I haven't changed that at all. I am considering making November "Blast Off the Fat" month and eating super clean (no processed foods, refined grains, etc), but it is cooler and this is when I like to bake! So, while I may watch it a bit, I ain't makin' no promises.

As far as results go - I have gotten stronger, developed better balance and greater cardio endurance. My "problem areas" look much better, and my "non-problem areas" look excellent. I have lost quite a bit of fat from all over, and like I said, this is without changing my eating habits - which are not horrible, but not super healthy, either. I just think my body likes the amount of weight work in this program, and that my metabolism is doing well as I build up more muscle. I still can't do a pullup, but Husband will be making me a pullup bar that I can use when I do another round of the X sometime next year, and hopefully I'll be able to do at least one then! I can do a lot more pushups on my toes than I could do at the beginning, and can do kinds of pushups that were really too difficult for me when I started.

I have learned a lot of new exercises, and feel like I have come to understand weightlifting more - which muscles are worked with which exercises, etc. I think I could advise someone on designing a weightlifting regimen, and know that if I were stranded somewhere without my DVDs, I could keep myself in shape. I told myself that I would not purchase the personail trainer certification program until I finished this, because I figured it would be a good education as well as a good physical challenge, and it definitely has been.

I'm too tired to say anything else but P90x ROCKS!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Deep Into Week 7...

...And I am getting tired! Not tired of mah man Tony, but physically tired! Next week is the second recovery week, and I am definitely looking forward to it mentally, and my body is craving a weight-free week

The resistance workouts that were added in Phase 2 have been a lot more challenging than those in Phase 1, although it is the cumulative effect of five days of high-intensity workouts taken together that makes this program so tough. I am glad that I did not like the Kenpo disc and so have two days off each week...if I didn't, I think I be really burned out and maybe slacking off. I have been taking the extra day off on Wednesday or Thursday instead of Saturday, and I usually feel ready to work hard again the next day.

An interesting thing is that some days I am stronger than others, and I don't know why. On certain days I can lift heavier weights, or do more pushups or whatever, while other days I need to take more breaks as well as choose lighter dumbbells. Last week I felt really wiped out, and now that I think about it, I remember that I stayed up until 2am at least three times last week, watching a televison show online, believe it or not.

Now, a little about the workouts of Phase 2. Shoulders, Chest and Triceps is one of the hardest workouts I have ever done, and Back and Biceps is not far behind. I collapse on the next-to-last exercise in SCT, which is a pushup that then goes into a side plank pose:

I wish that exercise came earlier in the workout, since it is a move I like a lot - I think I might skip to it early on the next time I do that DVD so I can do more than one rep without my arm literally giving out.

Back and Biceps doesn't feel that tough when I am doing it, but near the end my muscles are so fatigued I can hardly hold my pen to write down my weight/repetitions. I'm not kidding - my hand almost doesn't work to grip the pen! I've heard about working your muscles until "failure" but this is the first workout where I have actually done that - I try to lift the weight one more time and physically cannot do it. This happens even though I have chosen to lower the weight I use for biceps, because I don't want to look like Ahnold.

After the recovery week (Week 8) I will be in Phase 3, which alternates the workouts from Phases 1 and 2 every other week. I am looking forward to that, as I enjoy all of them. I am pleasantly surprised that I have not gotten tired of any of these workouts. I have never done a "rotation" before, rotation meaning doing particular DVDs/types of exercise/instructors for a certain length of time instead of just picking something random each day. I thought that a rotation would cramp my spontaneous side, but in fact it has been a good discipline for me. I think in the future I am going to do rotations more often. I am already thinking about what to do during December!

I do plan on buying 3 of the 5 workouts from P90X plus, but I am going to take at least a month away from Tony and do something less intense. On my current workout wishlist is:

Anni Mairs 4 pack
Squeeze Stronger
Core Fusion
Chalean Extreme (which will probably be what I do from January through March)
New Bar Methods
P90X Interval Plus, Upper Body Plus, Upper/Lower Plus

When I will be able to afford all those, and in what order I get them, has yet to be determined.

Now it's time to read to Moppet 3 while I nurse the baby - just lyin' down sounds mighty good after all this exercise talk!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Recovery Week

I recovered a bit more than the P90x plan...Moppet 4 was ill for half the week and I felt pretty run down from lack of sleep. I was supposed to do:

Core Synergistics twice, YogaX twice, X Stretch once and Kenpo once.

I actually did:

Core Synergistics twice, YogaX once and Leslie Sansone twice, with one outside walk.

That is the lightest exercise week I have had in many months, and I definitely needed it. It is amazing that I have come to think of 5 days of exercise as a light week! When I was a slug I would have thought that was practically Olympic level training, heheheheeeee!! It was very nice to hardly lift weights at all...there were only a few moves in CS that called for weights, and I used light 8 pounders.

Core Synergistics was not as scary as it looked when I previewed it...I had a lot of fun doing it, actually. I do have a bruise on one of my hipbones from doing a few of the moves that have you on the ground, rolling from your back to your side or stomach and back again. For example, you would go from bow:

to boat:

...with the idea being to use your core to turn you around every 10 seconds, and of course these are both core postures themselves. The bruise is a drag, but back in early 2007 I had so much blubber on my hipbone that it probably would have been too cushioned to bruise!

Tomorrow I start Phase 2 and get back into the heavy strength work, with Back and Biceps - I haven't tried that one yet. It's going to be a busy week, and I don't think I'll always be able to do my workouts in the morning. When I expect to get off schedule I do start to hear my inner perfectionist complain, but I have pretty much learned to tune it out. I've been doing well with getting the workouts done in the afternoon or evening when mornings aren't convenient - but I also know that if I (gasp) miss a day I can just do it the next day. I am only gung-ho about getting in the 3 weighted workouts and Yoga each week...since I walk at least 2 miles most every night, and if I miss Plyometrics (or the Leslie I've been substituting for Kenpo) I know I'm still getting in the cardio.

Moppet 4 is ready for bed, and I need to rest up so Tony doesn't pound me into dust tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Introducing My Scale and Entering Week 4 of P90X

I don't wear jeans, but I bought these at the thrift store to serve as my fitness gauge since I don't weigh myself, either. They are a size 8, according to the price tag, but there is no tag inside the jeans so the tag could have been lying...but they are pretty small. They fit me. I can't remember if I have ever worn a size 8 in my life, and in fact I would be perfectly happy to remain a size 8. But they could definitely fit and look better, and seeing how they do fit and look each week will tell me what's happening from the waist down. I am already seeing very good results in my upper back, and my whole back from the shoulders down is actually my target area, so I am happy ;-)

Next week is week 4, the first "recovery week" in P90X. I don't know why they call it a recovery week, since it still has 6 days of workouts, one of which looks very tough. It is called Core Synergistics and has all kinds of scary looking exercises for your entire core area, which includes your mid to lower back, which I hate to's really hard! I hate even a simple back extension exercise. And I have to do that DVD twice! Then I have to do Yoga X twice! ACK! I am also supposed to do Kenpo twice, but since I removed it from the rotation I will either do Leslie on those days or take two extra days off, except for my evening 2 mile+ walk. I think I may need 3 days off before I barrel into week 5.

What I have found really interesting about working out is that you'd think the exercises would get easier as you become accustomed to them, but that is not always the case. It's true that after a while you will need to pick up a heavier weight to keep certain exercises challenging, but some exercises are so much about form that you actually feel them more as you become more proficient. The various forms of squats and lunges have been that way for me. I am a lot more sore after doing Legs and Back yesterday than I was in either of the previous weeks, and I think that is because I am finally using the right muscles because I am getting the form down.

I had noticed this same thing before I started P90x, with the various barre workouts. The movements in those are very small and various exercises can almost look the same if you are looking at them being performed, but there are small changes in how you position the body that shift the work from, for example, one of the gluteal or buns muscles to another. It's the same with pushups and pullups, as I have learned from Tony. Just a minor change in how you place your hands relative to your shoulders and chest (in pushups), and small changes in the width of your arms or the facing position of your hands (in pullups) shift the focus of the work.

I first thought of becoming a personal trainer when I realized that I was actually INTERESTED in which muscles were working when I did various exercises! After I make it through this P90X rotation I am going to send away for the materials and start studying. I'm sure it will take me quite some time, and I am still not sure how I would like to go about the whole thing. I would really like to simply get women (especially women at home with children, like myself) started in exercise and then introduce them to the wonderful world of fitness DVDs. I don't know if anyone does anything like that, and I think I may just start something eclectic and odd - we'll just have to see.

Right now I am so tired the thought of studying anything or ever picking up another weight is not appealing! The Moppets seem to have picked up yet another cold and I'm going to get to bed befor it get really late, as Moppet 4 especially does not sleep well when he is ill, and I expect to be up a lot.

Good night!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Entering Week Three With Tony

The Flag of Tony which Moppet 1 made for me

I will be entering Week Three of P90X and I liked it just as much in week 2 as I did the first week, and I was less sore! I was actually able to do one single, lone pullup on my bar! But that's one more than I could do the previous week. The rest I did using the bands like I did before, but I'm sure that I will be able to do at least a few more by the time I am finished with the rotation.

I wasn't sure if I would like doing the same instructor/same 12 DVDs for 90 days straight, but I think with the way the program is set up it won't be a problem. In the 13 weeks, this is how many times you do each disc:

Chest and Back - 5
Plyo X - 10
Shoulders and Arms - 5
Yoga X - 16
Legs and Back - 10
Kenpo - (which I hate and I'm doing Leslie instead) - 13
Chest, Shoulders, Triceps - 5
Back and Biceps - 5
Core Synergistics (which I won't get to until next week, which is the first recovery week) - 6
Ab Ripper X - 30 (you do this one every time you do a weight workout, but it's only 15 minutes!)
X Stretch - at least 3 (during recovery weeks) but optionally 13 if you choose to stretch on your rest day

This is the first time I have ever used a rotation. I thought I would hate them since I don't do well with schedules in other areas of life. But I actually like not having to decide what to do each day, and it will be interesting to be able to see how I progress in each focus area. When I am finished with P90X, I am going to do another 90 day program, also by Beachbody, that isdue to be released in November.

I found each workout to be just as difficult physically as I did the previous week, but it was easier mentally because I was familiar with the exercises. The first 45 minutes of Yoga X is tougher for me than any of the others. I was dripping sweat and my heart rate was up after the moving postures - that 45 minutes felt like hours to me, and there were a few times I almost stopped, but I told myself to keep on keepin' on, and I was glad I did. I pretend that Tony cares if I'm there and whether I finish and do my best! That is really weird, because I have never gotten that feeling from any DVD instructor before. Somehow he manages to send his Personal Training Vibe right through the television! Whether I will want to smash his face by the end of 90 days remains to be seen - some people who complete this program absolutely hate him by the end, and others love him and buy everything else he has ever done or will do.

This week will be a challenge because I am going back to Moppet 1's piano lessons tomorrow at 2pm, and we shall see how well I do getting done in enough time. I am usually pretty tired when I get home about 4ish, and I'm not sure if even Tony could convince me to do 150+ pushups at 5pm. Then Friday I go to the chiropractor and have a friend coming over soon after, will I work out in the evening or do Friday's workout on Saturday? I have been doing well with interruptions and not following "the plan" exactly, without letting my inner perfectionist make me feel guilty. I only did half of Plyo X on Tuesday because Moppet 4 was sick and miserable, and on Saturday I did Leslie Sansone's brand new 5 Day Slim Down instead of the boring Kenpo X - Leslie really kicked my booty in that one. I did miles 2-5 and did use weights while Leslie did not...I also used my step to bump it up a notch in intensity...but that made it VERY intense and I was just as wiped out as I was when I did Tony's tough Plyometrics.

Now I'm just wiped out from a day of life. I am heading for bed, thrilled that it is cool and the air conditioner is off! I sleep so much better when I am breathing fresh air!

Monday, September 8, 2008

One Week Down, Twelve to Go!

Today I entered my second week of P90X. The only DVD I really didn't like was the Kenpo X, which is like kickboxing. I can't say if it is not a good kickboxing DVD or if it just confirms that I don't like kickboxing! I recently aquired a Turbo Jam DVD, which is kickboxing-ish , and if I don't like that (won't try it unil after P90X) I will know I've given kickboxing the ol' college try and accept that it's just not for me. I actually stopped this one about 15 minutes in (I really liked the warmup) and did a 30 minute Leslie instead.

Last Thursday, I managed to do all 90 minutes of Yoga X without breaking it up, and I enjoyed that a lot. It was more like power yoga than any yoga I have done in the past, which admittedly is not much. My whole body was sore the next day as if I had done a full body weight workout. My back ached from my shoulders all the way down - definitely caused by spending so much time in downward dog pose! The first 45 minutes of this workout consists of moving postures - you go from one yoga pose to another without much time spent holding each pose; maybe four breaths spent in each one. Then about 5 or 10 minutes of balance postures. I was very pleased to see that I have improved my very bad balance since I first did yoga last year. Now I have moderately bad balance. Then 25 or 30 minutes of floor poses - stretching and ab stuff. My body felt great after doing this one!

On Friday was Legs and Back, which I was dreading because I generally hate squats, lunges and other traditional leg work. But the exercises in this one, while definitely squat and lunge variations, were different than others I have tried. They actually got into my bun muscles like they are supposed to do, but which they never actually did for me until this DVD. My good ol' glutes were sore for three days! The leg work is interspersed with pullups of various kinds, and I used the bands like I did in the chest and back program.

Yesterday was a rest day when X Stretch was optional. I did most of it close to midnight last night. It was a good hour long stretch workout, but since Tony has excellent warmup stretching, I had already done most of these stretches during the week. There were also more yoga stretches than I like - after doing 90 minutes just a few days before, I didn't want any more! I think I will probably use Debbie Siebers' Cool It Off stretch instead of this one. That disc come from the Slim Series, also produced by Beachbody. I don't have that whole set, but I do like the stretch a lot. It's also a full hour, and there are not many yoga type stretches in that one - just good old fashioned athletic stretches that get to muscles I didn't know I had!

You are supposed to keep track of your repetitions and the amount of weight you use in each exercise in each strength DVD, and I didn't do that last week - but I used the form today when I did Chest and Back for the second time. I did a total of 151 pushups (6 different kinds) with 40 of those on my toes. I still don't go very deep when I'm on my toes but I am trusting that each week I will be able to get my chest closer to the floor. I am pleased to say that my stomach no longer gets to the floor first when I am doing them on my knees. When I first started exercising that's really what happened!

This afternoon 8 year old Moppet 2 did the first round of Chest and Back himself - he can actually do 2 real pullups, where I can't do any yet! I am glad that at least one member of my family actually shares my interest in exercise.

Another member of my family, 10 month old Moppet 4, has an awful cold and basically has he is standing here pulling on me, attempting to cry, - but he just sounds like a tiny little lamb three miles away. It is sweet and pathetic...enough to get me to end this here!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

P90X Day Three

It is really cool to be writing this and simultaneously listening to the streaming Republican National Convention in another tab - not that I'm a Republican, of course :-) Ah, technology...which also brings us home workout DVDs and P90X!

I have made it to Day Three, and am looking forward to Day Four! Although I was afraid of it, I truly enjoyed the plyometric cardio workout yesterday. It was definitely tough, and I had to do the most high impact jumps on my rebounder, and couldn't do all the reps in all the sequences - most of which were only 30 seconds. But I did most of them, and did not feel like I was going to die, and I did not need a bucket to puke in! I was very surprised by how fit I have actually become - I can definitely do things that, if asked, I would probably say I couldn't do. But I did not do nearly as well as the guy with the prosthetic leg.

Today I did the Shoulders and Arms DVD, and once again I appreciated the basic simplicity of the workout. It was very challenging, and had moves I have never seen before, but it was straightforward weight lifting. Each set of exercises focused first on the shoulders, then biceps, then triceps...then the set was repeated and another set began - focused on the same muscles with different exercises. I think there were five sets. I used anywhere from 8-15 lb dumbbells, depending on the exercise. It was nice to see a pretty, fit woman at least my age there with the guys, and Tony kept praising her form (her form doing the exercises, not her "form" if you know what I mean!)

I did Ab Ripper X again, and it was a bit easier this time. It's neat that all the weight DVDs have that workout on the end of the disc since you always use it on the same day, but it also on a separate DVD in case you want to use it as a stand-alone ab routine, even if you are not doing an X rotation.

Tomorrow will be Yoga X, which is a full 90 minutes long. I doubt I can do that in one sitting without needing to tend to Moppet 4. Since Yoga X seems to be the DVD people often like the least in this series, if I don't like it I might substitute a Yoga Zone or something...but since I am really digging Tony (surprisingly) maybe I'll like it and just have to stop at an hour.

Now, off to bed so the microtears in my muscles can repair themselves!

Monday, September 1, 2008

P90X Day One

A friend commented on the pricey-ness of this set...I actually got mine new on Amazon, and that was about 20.00 cheaper, with half the shipping costs as you would pay at Beachbody. But considering that this is 12 hour long DVDs, I don't think the cost was excessive.

I didn't take any Before photos today...Husband was home and I had a sick Moppet, so I almost didn't get to begin the workouts...I guess it will be all right to have Moppet 1 take them on Day 2. I don't think I'll be totally ripped that fast ;-)

Let me tell you about how this program works. There are three 4 week phases and 12 DVDs:

1) Chest and Back - which is mostly different kinds of pushups and pullups
2) Plyometrics - which is a cardio workout that seems to consist of a lot of jumping type moves, (more high-impact than I am used to, but there is a modifier) and there is actually a man with a prosthetic leg in this one, and he is not even the modifier!
3) Shoulders and Arms
4) Yoga X - 90 minutes of yoga
5) Legs and Back - more types of lunges than I knew existed plus other leg and buns exercise
6) Kenpo X - which is some kind of martial arts type thing
7) Stretch X - an hour long stretch for use on day 7 of each week or during recovery weeks (which come after every 3 week phase
8) Core Synergistics - different exercises to work your whole core area, which is basically the torso, front and back muscles
9) Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
10) Back and Biceps
11) Cardio X - which is only used in the "Lean" rotation, which includes 4 extra days of cardio apart from the Plyometrics and Kenpo
12) Ab Ripper X - which is a 16 minute grueling core workout, 11 exercises with 25 reps each, a few of them with pilates influence

The first Phase of P90X Classic (the rotation I am doing) uses discs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (if you want to use the stretch on your rest day). The weight routines alternate with the plyo, kenpo and yoga - you also do Ab Ripper on the weight days. After 3 weeks there is a recovery week when you use the kenop, yoga, stretch and core DVDs.

The second phase alternates the yoga, kenpo and plyo with discs 5, 9 and 10 plus Ab Ripper.

The third phase uses the first phase discs in weeks 9 and 11, and second phase discs in weeks 10 and 12, with week 13 being the final recovery week.

There is also a Lean Rotation which uses fewer weight days and more cardio, and a Doubles Rotation which adds Cardio X 4 days a week. I wonder if I am doing something like Doubles since I take a fast 2 mile walk just about every evening?

Anyway, today I did Chest and Back, which consists of 6 kinds of pushups, 3 kinds of pullups and 3 back exercises using weights or resistance bands. You do all these exercises once, and then again in a different order. Since I don't have a pullup bar and could not come close to doing even a single pullup if my very life depended on it, I put two heavy stretch bands together and looped them over my Fluidity bar, and I did the pullup modifications one of the participants showed using resistance bands (ones that have handles...mine are just long strips of rubber). You can also do a kind of pullup using the Fluidity bar itself, and I think I will attempt those next week, although those are really hard, too!

I did Ab Ripper X too, which was very challenging...I could do all 25 repetions in only about half the exercises.

I did not feel any more wiped out than I do when I use a tough DVD like Jari Love Ripped to the Core, or The Firm Total Body Shaping Mix, but it was new for me to only work a section of my body rather than the whole thing. A lot of people like to work their upper and lower body on alternate days, but I have always done total body strength work.

The various pushups ( a few kinds I had never seen) were very challenging, and I did almost all of them on my knees, probably a total of 150 or so. I have no idea how sore I will be tomorrow! I am actually a bit nervous to try the Plyometrics and was considering substituting some other kind of cardio, but I want to give it a chance and break out of my comfort zone. I have a thick rug in the room where I exercise, and hopefully that will cushion some of the impact. I think I will probably surprise myself and be able to do it, at least following the modifier.

I didn't know if I would like the instructor, Tony Horton, but I did. He talks constantly and seems full of himself at times, but he is very encouraging and really pushes the fact that even though you probably can't match what the participants are doing at the outset, by the end of the program you will have improved dramatically. You are supposed to keep track of all your reps and the poundage you use in weighted exercises, but I did not do that today. It's a lot different than most DVDs in that you don't do a certain set number of repetitions, usually timed to music. In non-weighted exercises like pushups, you choose a goal number and do as many as you can do with proper form in the amount of time they give you for that set. Some people might do 30, others only 10 or even 5. Using weights, you choose your poundage and do either fewer reps (8-10) with heavier weights if you are trying to get BIGGER muscles, or more reps (12-15) with lighter weights if you are trying to have more defined and less bulky muscles.

Rest is supposed to be an important of this program, and midnight is approaching, so I am going to bed. I will update on how I am doing a few times a week. To be realistic and not set my perfectionist alarm off, I am going to give myself 120 days (until the end of the year) to finish...if I can complete it in 90 days, great. But from what I have learned about life in general (and homeschooling life with lots of kids in particular), it would be safer to assume that something will happen that will keep me from exercising at least a few times.

Good night!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Is Fitness a Luxury?

Moppet 1 recently read the Zion Covenant series for the first time - at 14, she is finally old enough. I have re-read a few so that we could discuss them, and every time I read them they are more frightening to me, and more humbling. In case you are not familiar these books, they are set in Europe as Hitler begins his march across Europe. Taking Austria, Czechoslovakia and then Poland, he then begins his Final Solution to the Jewish Problem by arresting, incarcerating, torturing and killing not only Jews, but Christians and anyone else who opposes him. The books are frightening because my absolute worst fear is to live in a totalitarian State, but what I want to talk about is why they are humbling.

First of all, they are humbling because the older I get, I'm not so certain that I would have enough courage to do the dangerous and heartbreaking things people do to protect themselves and others in such times. I realize that we receive the strength to do such things when that strength is needed, and that I can't know what I would do...but when I was younger I would have been more sure that I would be one of the unsung heroes.

Secondly (and this is where fitness comes in at least tangentially), it is humbling to admit that no matter how many times I remind myself, I am never able to hang on to the gratitude I should have for living in a time and place where I have the luxury to think about keeping myself fit for reasons of health and beauty. I can spend money and time on making sure I feel and look as good as possible, so that I can simply enjoy my peaceful life more. When you are thinking about whether the Gestapo is going to break down your door, the only concern you might have about fitness is whether you are strong enough to jump across rooftops if you need to escape out the attic window.

So, I would say that fitness IS a luxury in the great scheme of things, just like it is a luxury for we Americans to think about whether we are personally fulfilled, satisfied in our relationships or (insert overfed middle class desire, stress or neuroses here). I'm sure those things seem unimportant when you are faced with famine or warfare or are just not living in a wealthy society and have to work very hard to meet day-to-day needs. I need to remember that as I look through my scores of workout DVDs while wishing I also had some other one I haven't been able to purchase yet. I think ingratitude and lack of contentment will be something I struggle with all my life...I wrote about it in my zines three years ago and it's still rearing its ugly head.

But taken from the perspective that we have been blessed to live here and now, when most of us have leisure time and some disposable income, as well as a long life expectancy - is fitness a luxury for us if we want to spend all our years in productive activity? Of course, I have not quite reached 40, so I can't YET speak personally about what being fit has done for me in my later years, but there are lots of sites that speak to this issue. I know that we live in a world filled with physical degeneration, disease and death, and that no matter how fit we may become, we're gonna wind up in the grave. Until then, though, there is oodles of evidence that fitness improves quality of life for all ages. So, while it may be a luxury in one sense, it's a necessity in another.

Speaking of age...I am going to be 40 in a little more than 90 days, and I am going to spend that 90 days doing P90x - with the goal being to be in the best shape possible FOR ME by that milestone birthday! My only worry about that is whether I will be able to do the same 12 DVDs for 90 days, without any of my favorites!

And now for last week's workouts:

M - Leslie Sansone Walk and Kick, using my kettlebell instead of doing the kickbox intervals
T - Jari Love Ripped and Chiseled and walk outside
W - Debbie Siebers Cool It Off, which is an hour long stretch (I REALLY needed that!), plus walk
Th - Leslie Sansone Deluxe Walkaerobics plus Kettlebell and floorwork, and walk outside
F - A new DVD called One on One Training With Jackie (tough, but fun!) plus walk
Sat - walk

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Week in Fitness

Last week I said I wanted to try some new DVDs, and I did! I tried a few from the library and a few that I recently purchased.

M - 2 miles of the 3 Mile Walk Away the Pounds for Abs; it was so boring I couldn't get past 2 miles. I don't know why some Leslies speed by and others feel like you are walking through a dreary eternity, but this one fits into the latter category. Later in the evening I did Yoga Booty Ballet which I always said I'd never try, but which I bought and had a lot of fun doing!

T - Leslie 3 Fast Miles, and I made it through the whole 3 miles in this one! I also did 20 kettlebell swings every 5 minutes, Then I did Pure Barre later in the evening, and THEN I went for a walk with Moppet 4.

W - I was busy that day, so I just walked in the evening.

Th - I had my booty totally kicked by a new DVD called Power Body by Rob Glick. It was fun, with a lot of interesting exercises, but it wiped me out, so much that I did NOTHING on Friday, and in fact could hardly sit down until Saturday night because my muscles hurt so much.

Sat - Leslie 4 Fast Miles, alternating the rebounder and the 8 inch step to up the intensity. Plus walk outside.

It was a cardio heavy week!

I did very well adding fruits and veggies to my diet. I had a slush made with at least 2 kinds of fruit at least 5 days, and ate a good amount of vegetables every day except one. I read The Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno, which I got from the library. I don't follow that completely - I don't eat lowfat dairy, for example, and will add some sugar to things like smoothies, and will eat something white or a sweet baked good a few times a week - but I saw that I do follow it to a large extent. Maybe that's why I have been losing weight steadily without being "on a diet". I eat very few processed foods, few sweets with the exception of 85% dark chocolate, not an excess of fatty foods (although I use real butter, real cream in my coffee, etc) and mostly whole grains and mostly lean proteins. For my physical makeup, this kind of eating coupled with some cardio and lots of strength training with heavier weights seems to be the key.

I have been saving my money, and on Friday I am going to order P90X used on Amazon. This is a 13 DVD intense strength training program, something that I never thought I would be able to do when I started learning about at home fitness a year ago. But now I know that I will be able to do it - maybe not at the most intense possible level with triple digit weights - but I can do it from where I am and build up from there. Working out has helped me accept that it's all right to be where I am, and to just go from there, and not compare myself to what other people can do. I have always known this mentally, but it is starting to sink in at the gut level in many areas of my life.

I know there will always be someone who is smarter, more beautiful, more talented, better organized, more patient, a better cook etc. than I am, and that's fine. I can improve on the things that are important to me, and accept that I have weaknesses and lack of talent in various areas. That's part of what it means to be a finite and fallen person in a finite and fallen world, but I have spent most of my almost 40 years trying to ignore that fact. Who would have thought that something like physical exercise would help me to finally grasp it?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Proverbial Last Ten Pounds, Plus Last Week's Workouts

I know I don't weigh myself, so it really could be the last 9 lbs or the last 11 lbs...but I can tell that I am getting close to the end of the fat loss stage of the Fitness Journey. What amazes me is how much FAT there was on my body - even though when I was heavier I was just a bit into the "overweight" classification in the BMI scale - not anywhere near obese. I am sure I have lost at least 30 lbs of pure blubber, and if I lose another 10, it will be 40! I know you can add 30 plus 10, but that number just astounds me. I never would have thought I had 40 lbs to lose...I mean, that's almost half of 100! When I think of how much space 40 lbs of butter would take up on my kitchen counter, I can't belive that much flab was hanging on my body.

I actually determine how much weight I think I have yet to lose by comparing my fat deposits to the size of butter sticks - that probably sounds really odd, but since I don't use scales it's a good alternative, heheheheheh! (Where the last of those blubber deposits reside will remain a mystery.) In the next few days I will dig out and scan a picture of myself at my fattest, and contrast that with a picture of me now.

It has also surprised me that losing this much weight has not been as difficult as I imagined it would be. It HAS taken time, but I have not had to live with constant hunger or cravings or anything like that. I'm not sure if that's because I exercise so much I can eat quite a bit, or because I am still nursing and so can eat quite a bit, or because my body just loses easily when I don't eat a lot of junky food. Either way, I am thankful that it has been easier than I expected, and if I had known it wouldn't be torturous, I would have started sooner. I only hope that maintaining will be as easy!

I am going to try to eat healthier in the next few months to see if that breaks me through any plateau I might be on. In the past few weeks I have been eating things like goldfish crackers and other processed yuckies - not enough to make me gain weight, but they don't make me feel good and can make me bloat so I LOOK like I've gained weight. I also have not been guzzling the water like I should be - a gallon a day really helps me take off the fat. I also want to include more fruits and veggies into my diet...I really don't eat enough. I don't even like that many, but I am determined to eat those I do like on a regular basis. A smoothie made with a few kinds of frozen fruit, and a salad or two should be easy to eat daily.

Regarding exercise, this week I really feel like I need a break, so I am going to spend the week doing videos and DVDs that I have never done before (and I have quite a few!)...since they are not familiar to me, I won't work as hard because I'll have to be paying attention to what they're doing on the screen, and (in certain cases) trying not to trip!

My goal is to lose as much of this fat as I can by the time I turn 40 on November 30, while not depriving myself of good food or working out until I feel beaten down.

Last Week's Workouts:

M- Go by Kari Anderson plus walk outside
T - Strong Body, Ageless Body by Erin O'Brien plus walk outside
W - Leslie Sansone Walk Away Your Waistline 3 Miles, plus the buns/abs floorwork from one of her very early videos plus walk outside
Th - Core Pilates with Jules Benson, walk outside
Fr - Leslie 3 Mile Express, upping intensity by doing kettlebell swings every 5 minutes, plus the push up, buns and waist chapters from Squeeze, plus walk outside
Sat - Walk Outside
Sun - Walk Outside

Today I drove my walk route, so I know it is 2.1 miles. I would love to do this every night plus 2 3 mile Leslies per week for a total of 20 miles, but we will see. If Moppet 4 does not fall asleep in the stroller, he won;t always sit well for such a long walk and I cut it short.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Finally Getting to Those Psychological Issues

I don't know if it's because I am basically neurotic, but even something good and healthy like exercise brings up psychological issues and anxieties for me!

The first one I needed to deal with was just the exercise manifestation of something that permeates my whole life - perfectionism and an all-or-nothing mentality. I mentioned in an earlier post that this tendency did not derail my commitment to exercise, but it did keep cropping up in my psyche up until recently. I would worry that I was not doing the exercise thing "right", that I wouldn't get good "results" if I wasn't doing it "right" - which for a few months led to working out too much, trying to "fit it all in". I was really helped through this by reading someone's signature at Video Fitness, which reads "The Best Workout Is the One You Will Do". This really is true - unless the only workout you will do is opening the refrigerator (although that probably does work your bicep and the back of your shoulder). I was also able to leave this one behind when I saw that "results" come from exercise consistency in general, rather than from finding the perfect program or rotation.

The other one is more serious, and I don't know if I will ever get over it completely - I have realized that getting in shape does not get rid of all the emotional baggage that I carry around regarding my appearance. The reasons I have this baggage are many and varied, and while it seems a bit lighter now that I am older, I am still schlepping it around. I have to accept that even if I were able to transform my figure into the likeness of some alluring young celebrity (which is highly unlikely), I would still have to deal with the nagging feeling that in the beauty and desirability department, I fall short. Now, this is not something I deal with excessively like I did when I was a teenager and young adult. I am actually pretty content with my appearance most of the time, as long as I don't think about it too much. We are not supposed to be overly concerned with outward appearances anyway - I know that. But this issue still does crop up for me, especially as I see my youth passing away - even though my beauty has never been staggering, losing that blush of youth is very sobering. People call me ma'am and mean it.

It's not helped by the strange fact that as I lose weight and gain muscle, sometimes my figure looks worse before it looks better. This seems to be a very real phenomenon for a lot of people on the Fitness Journey; I've seen it discussed on my fitness forums - you look better, and better, until one day you look at yourself and YOU LOOK TERRIBLE. Definitely more flabby and even though you might be thinner, your figure just does not look good. This lasts for a few weeks and then you look better again. It's really weird. So I have had to learn not to look at myself too often, because day by day is not a good indicator of what progress is actually being made. Every week or even two weeks is better.

That was a tangent, I guess. The truth is that I thought that actually looking better would wash away all insecurities, but it doesn't. That's just a drag.

But while I do know that I can't be more beautiful or younger than I actually am, being as fit as I can be and looking as good as it is possible for ME to look is not something determined by my DNA, but just depends on how much I put into it. It was really empowering to realize, also, that the fitness INDUSTRY is not synonymous with the beauty INDUSTRY - so while I could never be a supermodel, I could be a personal trainer. Not all, in fact not even most of the instructors on my fitness DVDs are beauties.

I guess you can tell I'm a glass-half-full kind of person since this is ending on a positive note, even though the post started with negative thought processes. It is also ending abruptly, since even somewhat fit people get tired.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What I Did Last Week and Something I Am Considering

This is what I did last week:

M- Leslie Sansone 2 Mile Express/1 mile of it on the rebounder, plus Slim and 6 Pack with Debbie Siebers. Walk Outside.

T - All the Right Moves with Grace Lazenby and outside walk. I really like All the Right Moves, but for some reason rarely use it. It is a great combination of Lotte Berk type moves, Pilates and yoga. Instead of using a barre or piece of furniture, Grace uses a dowel that you hold onto for balance, and it is a different kind of challenge. I couldn't find my shoes that day, and instead of getting overly annoyed, I just decided to do this one which is best done barefoot. Walk Outside.

W - Gilad Interval Training, once again with Husband and Moppet 2

Th- 1 Mile Leslie Express and Lotte Berk High Round Assets ( wearing 3 lb ankle weights) I have found that this type of exercise actually gets MORE difficult as you get better at doing it, since form is so important. When you master the form more and more, you get more out of the work. Walk Outside.

Fr - Walk Outside

Sat -Firm 3 in 1 Bootcamp - I REALLY ached after doing this one, even though it's only 42 minutes! I did too many bicep curls with 15lb dumbbells.

This week I have actually decided to study to be a personal trainer. After you regain consciousness, I will share my thoughts about that ;-) In the past, I would have said I would be more likely to vote socialist than get involved in the "fitness industry", but life is always full of surprises. I'm still not sure exactly what my being a trainer will look like in practice; I would really like to work with women like me, who are at home with children and don't have the time or inclination to go to a gym several times during the week. I'd love to just help them get started and turn them on to fitness DVDs. I think I'd like to get extra certifications for working with pregnant/postpartum and menopausal women. This is not something I am thinking of starting next year, but I am going to study for the certification and take the exam whenever I am finished with the course, while simultaneously working to get more fit personally. Husband and I are going to join a gym, not because I am suddenly into gyms, but because I don't think I could be a personal trainer without being familiar with how weight machines work. And I will probably have a few sessions with a trainer myself, to see what trainers do and to get my fitness evaluated by a "pro".

There is more to say on this subject, but it has already taken me on and off all day to finish this, and Moppet 4 is grumpy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Finding Time and/or Inclination to Exercise

In all honesty, working out is the ONLY good habit I have ever integrated successfully into my life. I am not saying that my life is nothing but awful vices except for exercise, but I am just not a person who always manages to do things regularly, even things I enjoy. So, the point is that exercise has become something I do whether I feel like it or not, and usually at about the same time every day - but even if I miss my usual time, it proves it's a habit because I do it anyway, just later than usual!

I really was surprised when I found that I LIKED exercise, and I'm sure that helped me stick with it at first. It also made me feel better long before I started looking better, which was another incentive. However, there was still the problem of just figuring out when was the best time to do this - especially because when you are working out, you are not doing something else that probably needs to be done. You are not paying attention to the kids, not doing laundry, etc. and that's something you need to accept and not feel too much guilt about. Hopefully, you will be around longer to do those other things since you will be so healthy, hehehehehehe.

Anyway, although I exercised through my pregnancy, I really consider my fitness journey to have seriously started when I was 2 weeks postpartum, and I would get going an hour or so after my morning coffee. If Moppet 4 wasn't sleeping, I would have Moppet 1 rock him or wear him in the sling. Moppets 2 and 3 were 7 and 4 at the time, so they were old enough to keep themselves busy. But even so, I often had to stop to nurse the baby and just go back to it. Fitness is the first thing I have really learned to approach without my unhealthy all-or-nothing mentality, and that may be the key to why I stuck to it.

I know that your time constraints and schedule are not like mine. You may work all day and have to get up super early or do your exercise at night...I really like working out at night myself. And before you say you are too tired, let me tell you that exercise often gives you a real burst of energy. My midwife for Moppet 1's birth used to tell me how she would go to the gym and work out if she was at an all-night birth and she had clients to see in the morning. At that Time of My Great Sluggishness, I did not believe she could do that, but now I understand.

You might have little children and no 14 year old Moppet to help with will probably have to use nap time or do your exercise in sections...I still have to do that sometimes. Just stop the DVD or videotape and come back when you can. Or, if you have a lot of patience, let the kids exercise with you...they especially like Leslie Sansone. Just be careful with your weights around them, and make sure they are in FRONT of you when you are lifting, so no one gets bashed.

Of course, none of my advice will help you stick to working out if you don't think it's important. Even if you don't love it, if you know that it will do good things for your health and your appearance, you are more likely to stick with it. But remember - you will not see "dramatic results" immediately. You will feel results first, the you will begin to see them, but you will not be ripped, buff or whatever overnight. You have to walk by faith and not be sight at the beginning of this journey. I have been working out regularly, diligently and with growing intensity for 9 months, and it is only recently that I have begun seeing more dramatic changes in how my figure looks. But I do firmly believe that while you can lose weight without exercise, it takes exercise, mainly weight training and alternative methods of strength training to make your body look it's best, and you can look really good whatever your age, and not just "for your age". There is a 57 year old woman in Jari Love's Ripped and Chiseled who looks infinitely better that I have ever looked - she sags a bit around the navel, probably from having children, but she is lean, toned and strong. It can be a real incentive to know that while you DO have to die, you don't have to become decrepit beforehand.

It also helps if you know some people, either online or "in real life" who are on the Fitness Quest with you. Find someone to work out with, join a fitness forum, write to me ;-) Knowing that you are not alone in your striving is a real encouragement in fitness, just as in life itself.

NEXT TIME - Psychological issues that have come up for me related to my Fitness Quest

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Another Good Exercise Week...

...With the best thing about it being that Husband and Moppet 2 both worked out with me and Gilad today. Husband says, "Gilad saved my life". Now, let's see if we ever do it again, heheheheheeee.

Anyway, since I made my ideal exercise plan and have kept that in mind, I have done really well getting everything done, and in fact, I kind of broke out of my mold. Almost all my cardio this week came from walks outside, and I even (GASP) jogged a bit on a few evenings. I never thought I'd ever do that. I did look like a real dork in my skirt and running shoes, though.

Anyway, this is what I did this week for my bod:

M - 2 Fast Miles with Leslie - ran a full mile on the rebounder - plus a few sections from Squeeze; waist, push ups and tricep dips, mucho buns work with 3 lb ankle weights, abs.

T - Walk outside pushing jogging stroller, probably almost 2 miles

W - Original Get Ripped, plus usual walk

Th - Kari Anderson's Reach and walk/jog outside

Fr - Pure Barre plus walk/jog outside

Sat - Gilad Interval Training

All that, and I'm not even sore!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just Starting Out? Try These...

I'm so thrilled that 7 people actually read this, commented and even asked questions! Since I stopped blogging years ago, I had forgotten how fun that is...but this isn't about fun, it's about getting fit without having to drive to a gym! Which actually is fun, folks, after you make your exercise a habit (which is the hard part, of course.)

First, I want to talk to Mary about barre workouts and my bar. That bar I have is called the Fluidity Bar. I heard about it on Video Fitness, and most of the ladies there heard about it via an infomercial. If you buy it new, it's pretty expensive, but I got mine on Craigslist for less than half the price of ordering it online. The DVDs that come with it are really the only ones I know of that actually NEED a stable barre for some of the exercises - most can be done with only a chair or something for a support, but the bar is nicer to work with for all of them. The bar folds up and can be stored under a bed or in a closet, but since I am lazy I usually leave mine out ;-) Plus, it's great for an impromptu stretch when it's just there. The workouts I use with them (in addition to Fluidity) are:

Pure Barre
Lotte Berk Method 4 Pack
Bar Method (which is currently out of print and so very expensive...I got mine just in time!!)

I searched around, and watching the clips they offer at the Fluidity website are probably the best to get an idea of what this kind of exercise is like, although if you type in barre workouts at youtube there will be some things there. It's really not like ballet, nor is it very like pilates, but I suppose there are similarities. I prefer it over endless squats and lunges and tall step leg presses (The Firm does LOTS of these) for lower body. It seems to be good for both ladies who are "overendowed" in the thigh and bun area, and those who suffer from PBS (Pancake Bottom Syndrome). Which category I fall into shall remain unknown. Lotte Berk is probably the best intro to this kind of work, although the instructors are a bit odd. I like to use this type of workout on strength days when just the thought of lifting a weight makes my joints hurt.

Now, on to recommendations for you who are even a little inspired to take that first step down the Road to Fitness. I know everyone has different financial situations, so I am going to give you a few different scenarios, depending on how much you want to spend; it will only be DVDs and other not-so-basic equipment I'll be talking about, since for just about everything you will need a mat, a decent pair of cross trainer type shoes, and dumbbells - a set of about 3, 5 and 8 for women starting out, and maybe 10, 12 and 15 for men starting out. Sooner than you think, you will need to get heavier ones...but for now, let's start there.

If you have about 50.00 to spend (I am assuming Amazon used purchases and am NOT including shipping):

CARDIO - I Would Choose 2 Leslie Sansone

Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds 3 Mile - She actually has various 3 miles, but this is the first DVD I had, and it was a great starter cardio. The pace is very moderate, and she uses 2lb hand weights for about 1/3 of the time near the end to boost the walk a bit. This would totally wear me out when I first started! Walk Slim 1,2 and 3 miles would also be good, as it has 2 miles with walk/jog intervals, and a second disc with a 3 mile walk only. It might be a better investment to get this one, actually.

Leslie Sansone 4 Fast Miles - This has intervals of walking and mild jogging - you can go up to jogging if you feel ready, or stay down at a brisk walk. It is a fun walk that really goes by fast!

I also LOVE one of her older walks which looks VERY dated (complete with heavily made up, fake tanned, teased haired ladies from the early 90s, in neon - a lot of them are still in her walks!) Anyway, this one is pretty fast paced, but can be done moderately just like any Leslie, plus it has a section at the end with some floor work for buns, thighs and abs. I actually drip sweat on the mat by the time I am down there doing the floorwork.

About Leslie - A lot of people think Leslie is too chatty and giggly. but that has never bothered me. She is actually pretty calm in some of the series', but other times she is totally wacky. It can help the walk to go by faster to poke a bit of fun at Leslie and her walkers. The choreography, if you can call it that, is very simple ( just 4 or 5 basic steps), but it's more interesting than being on a treadmill or stationery bike. It is very easy to modify Leslie up or down, and she is really very encouraging, and I truly believe she wants her customers to get fit and healthy. She's in her mid 40s, and has normal people as her background exercisers, including men and older people. Truly, ANY Leslies are great for beginners and these are just a few of my faves. The only thing I would recommend is not buying any that are just one mile, as they are not really cheaper and any of the longer walks have mile markers so you can stop anywhere.

STRENGTH - 2 Would Be Good

Ripped with Jari Love - I got all 5 Ripped workouts at Ross for 4.99 each, but this is the first and the easiest, while still being challenging (I just did it today!) It is a high rep/low weight workout that is pretty basic as far as moves go. I really like Jari and you can see a real difference in the physiques of a few of her background Rippers from the first to most recent workout. Jari doesn't chat much, but she is encouraging. You can use dumbbells or a barbell (I use the dunbbells) and the DVD tells you how much weight each of the Rippers is using for each exercise...Jari never goes higher than 20lbs total, or 10 each in dumbbells. She also stretches after each exercise, which is lacking in a lot of all-weight workouts - usually they save the stretch until the end. You could get two of these workouts, but they are quite similar, although there are subtle differences that I appreciate. All the others are more difficult, some because they have compound moves, or just because there are LOTS of reps.

My very first weight workout was Gilad Sculpt and Tone...and I was pregnant at the time - he actually has a pregnant woman acting as modifier. I like Gilad because he is encouraging, a bit odd, and an Israeli Jew. A lot of people like the fact that the workout is set on a beach in Hawaii, but I have never cared about sets, or music either (but a lot of people like or dislike a workout because of these factors).

Shape It Up by Debbie Siebers is another high rep/low weight workout. It's pretty long and is actually kind of tough, but since you can use really light weights I think it would be good to start with even if you couldn't quite keep up at first. It seems to get every muscle in your body!

Strong Body Ageless Body by Erin O' Brien is actually one I just got recently, but I wish I would have had it earlier. I really like the instructor, and the moves are a bit different and can be modified up. I also liked the odd way the DVD was shot. The instructor talks a lot to older people, about how this or that exercise is important for this or that joint, or maintaining strength in ways important for life as you age. The ab/core section is really good.


Yoga Zone - Flexibility and Stress Release with Alan Finger was my first flexibility DVD. I actually couldn't do it at first because I was too hugely pregnant - but after Moppet 4 was born it was challenging for me, but not so difficult I wanted to throw up my hands and quit. Alan Finger has a very soothing South African accent, and there really is not any of the "spiritual" components of yoga (if you want to avoid those) except a bit about the chakras during the final relaxation pose.

Cool It Off is also from Debbie Siebers. It is a VERY thorough hour long athletic stretch. I really, really like it and feel great after it is over.


None of the Barre workouts are that inexpensive, so I will suggest trying Breakthru Pilates Plus by Michelle Dozios or Reach by Kari Anderson. These are both "fusion" type workouts that are kind of ballet, kind of pilates, kind of yoga.

If you want to spend closer to 100.00 I would add:

The Firm Transfirmer - this is a step that has two parts, a 6 inch and an 8 inch, that can stack into a 14 inch tall step and also placed on an incline. It comes with 3 DVDs - the all cardio one I traded off since it was too complex for me, but I do like the all sculpting one and the cardio/sculpt mix. The Firm is actually a controversial entity in the fitness world - you will hear people talking about "old" vs "new" Firms...that is not something I will get into here...but know that this is a "new" Firm thing, and although I prefer the "old" Firm workouts, I LOVE this piece of equipment.

Once you have the step, and if you want to spend about 150.00, you can add:

Go by Kari Anderson - a BASIC step wokout for people like me who have no desire to dance. It is lots of fun and a great cardio workout, as is Simply Step by Gin Miller. Both of these are a nice break from Leslie, and apart from The Firm aerobic weight training and "real" walks outside, Leslie and these and a few Gin Millers that use a ramp (which is kind of like a step only inclined) is the only cardio I do.

The Firm Total Body Shaping Mix - an "old" firm that is interestingly put together from all kinds of workouts with different instructors. Tough, kind of dated, but fun.

And a barre workout! Probably the Lotte Berk 4 Pack, or Squeeze - the Lotte Berk is really good for beginners, but I pull Squeeze out a lot more...Each Lotte Berk is about 30 minutes, and one focuses only on abs, one on yer back end, and two are just total body. Squeeze does not have as many form pointers, but it has almost as much total exercise time as LB, with a Total Body Squeeze (60 minutes) a Power Squeeze (30 minutes) and a Custom Squeeze which lets you mix and match various exercises. The one DVD of Squeeze is about the same price as all the LBs.

And it would be great to round off a beginner's collection with:

A 36 inch foam roller and Kelli Roberts' Flexibility for the Inflexible - GREAT for self massage, and you will get sore when you exercise, even when you are no longer a beginner

Kickbox Yoga Fusion
with Patricia Moreno - I absolutely HATED Billy Blanks and Tae Bo, but I wanted to try kickboxing because it is supposed to burn mucho calories and be really good for your whole core area. I asked at Video Fitness if there was something kickbox-y that wasn't oozing testosterone, and I was directed to this. I haven't done it often enough - I forget about it, but I like it a lot.


A kettlebell is a different type of weight training with a weight that has a handle - also fun to use, and challenging, but they are expensive. You usually use only one, though - mine is a 15lb I got from Target, plus 2 DVDs I got there, too.

I use my rebounder all the time when I jog with Leslie, and I also modify her moves to higher intensity by using it. I bought mine on Amazon...not sure which one, but it was about 65 dollars with free shipping.

I also just began using ankle weights when I do the buns sections of barre workouts, and I have dumbbells up to 20 lbs.

All this would keep you busy for quite some time and get you in really good shape! But it is very possible that as you progress you will become a "vidiot" and want to branch out into different types of exercise, different instructors, different equipment. You can ask me questions, or better yet, get the combined wisdom of all the vidiots at Video Fitness...they have a forum, a huge page of reviews arranged by instructor, and every month there is a thread on the forum called Share the Wealth, where ladies pass on DVDs and videos they don't use just for a self addressed stamped envelope. After reading there for a while, you might see inexpensive DVDs at Ross, Marshalls etc. and decide to just try something new.

Next to find/make time to exercise, and making exercise a habit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Diet, What I Did Last Week and Some Recommendations If You Are Just Starting Out

1) Carmon asked me if I changed my eating habits in addition to starting exercise. I would say that for the most part, what I have done is learned what a portion is. I also don't eat a lot of junk or processed food. I do eat carbs, quite a lot of them, but a very high percentage of those are whole grain - mainly brown rice. When I want something sweet, I will often eat some Kashi Honey Almond Flax cereal, a few pieces of 85% Dark Lindt Chocolate or something that has some redeeming value, rather than just a bunch of empty calories.

For a month or so, I used FitDay to track what I ate and the exercise I did, which helped me learn to recognize how much I can eat - and I was really surprised by the large number of calories I could consume and not gain (and actually lose) weight. One of my favorite things to eat is 1 cup of brown rice with 1/4 cup of almonds or cashews, with 1/2 cup of yummy Brown Cow Farm WHOLE MILK yogurt, with instant espresso powder in the yogurt. I often eat that after I exercise in the morning. I also like to make a chicken quesadilla with whole grain corn tortillas, about 1/2 cup grilled chicken, 1/3 cup or so mixed sharp cheddar/pepper jack cheese and some onion - this must be cooked in a cast iron skillet to get the right kind of outside on the quesadilla!! This is sooooo good with the yogurt, too!!

Anyway, did I answer Carmon's question? I guess the answer is that I don't diet per se, and eat whatever I want in moderation, and usually what I want is fairly healthy...but if I want something that isn't, that's fine, too. That way of eating, plus exercise 5-6 days per week, seems to be a lifestyle I can maintain without feeling totally deprived or worn out. I have slowly but steadily lost weight doing this - I don't have a scale, but I weighed 172 at the end of my last pregnancy (only gained 17 with this one, thanks to exercise!!), and two months later at a midwife appointment I weighed 145. I haven't weighed since then, but judging by how my clothes fit and how I look in general, I think I have lost another 10-12 lbs. So, you can see this is not an infomercial on How to Lose That Tub O' Lard In 48 Hours, but it is working slowly but steadily for a woman pushing 40, who is trying to stay as fit and lean as possible. Whether I will need to change things up a bit when I start the menopause thing, only God knows (being totally omniscient, He even knows seemingly trivial things like that.)

2) One thing it took a while to learn is how much of each kind of exercise was best for my body. I think I've figured that out, but I still like to have a variety to choose from within each exercise type - and sometimes I want to put a special focus on a particular thing. Right now I am going to the chiropractor to take care of my long-standing back pain, and so I am trying to focus on my "core" area, which includes the lower back. Plus, I have a friend at church who has really great abs and she has inspired me to work mine more ;-) So, last week I wrote down what my "ideal" week of exercise would consist of, and then I wrote down what I "actually" got done.

Here is my Ideal List (don't worry if you don't know what any of this stuff is, or what the workouts are like...I am going to review every workout I own on this blog eventually)

- 3 cardio or 2 cardio and 1 aerobic weight training (such as The Firm)
- 2 full body weights or 1 weight and 1 AWT
- 3 barre (such as Squeeze, Lotte Berk, Pure Barre, Bar Method, Fluidity) - these workouts are all isometric strength exercises done using mostly body weight...they are tough but fun! The barre you see in the front right of the picture at the blog top is used for this kind of exercise.
- 4x abs/core
- 1 stretch/pilates or yoga

Last week, I did pretty good getting all this in:

M - Various exercises from Squeeze (which includes good ab stuff), some work with a 15 lb kettlebell, and a long walk outside pushing a stroller
T - Leslie Sansone 4 Fast Miles (which has intervals of fast walking and jogging), kettlebell
W - Fluidity Advanced (which has good abs), and a few exercises with 15lb dumbbells
Th - Simply Step with Gin Miller
F - Strong Body, Ageless Body with Erin O'Brien, The Firm Ab Sculpt, short walk with stroller
Sat - Leslie Sansone 2 Mile Express (1 mile jogging on rebounder), Lotte Berk High Round Assets (basically lotsa work fer yer buns), Kathy Smith 10 minute Core Matrix

The only thing I missed was 1 full session of flexibility, but all the barre work includes lots of stretching. So, that was a good week.

And just so you know, just 7 months ago, I physically could NOT have done all this, so you can see how fitness is something that increases as you work at it, and it often sneaks up on you, just how fit you have become ;-).

I want to get this posted tonight, so I will save the recommendations for next time.