This year, I went out on a limb and gave our family the best gift I could give.. a chance to dial the biological clock back a few years. I plunked down my $139.80 at Amazon.com for a copy of the P90x Extreme Home Fitness Program, wrapped it, and put it under the tree for “The Teskey Family”.
P90x is a hardcore exercise and nutrition plan for people that are in generally good shape and want to get in even better shape. It’s a 3-month program that changes both the workout routines and the nutrition plan every four weeks making sure that your body never settles into a routine. It’s pretty intense – and I was not used to a 6-day/week workout. I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t been off the couch in months.
I’ve been in various stages of decent shape in my adult life – sometimes more, sometimes less. Since I crossed 40, it’s been more less than more. Even though I typically bike a couple of thousand miles each summer, I’m not very well-rounded in my fitness. I could bike 70 miles, yet my arms would be exhausted by the end of the ride from holding my body upright. I reasoned that dropping some weight and improving my overall strength would make me a much stronger rider. I also knew it would be a hit with Heather. It’s not every guy that could give his wife a workout program for Christmas and not get in trouble for it.. but my wife is a fitness nut and I knew she’d totally get into it.
As of today, I’m done with Phase I (the Fat Burner phase). I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on my experiences thus far.
Before starting the program, a fitness test accompanied by measurements and photos was required. I was able to meet the minimum starting requirements in all areas but the pull-ups.. and I knew this was a weak spot. My nearly 7 foot wingspan did me no favors in this department. Here were my starting measurements:
- Starting Weight: 248.2
- Body Fat: 30.6%
- Chest: 48in
- Waist: 41in
- Hips: 44in
- Right Thigh: 25in
- Left Thigh: 25in
- Right Arm: 14.5in
- Left Arm: 14.5in
- Belly: 45in
For the sake of all that is decent on the Internets, I’ll spare you the pre-flight photos.
After that, we were off and running with the workouts. Here was our routine for weeks 1-3:
- Day 1: Chest & Back + Ab Ripper X. (75 minutes) I’ll summarize this workout as: Pushups, Chinups, Pushups, Chinups, Pushups, Chinups, etc. When completely exhausted, do 350 crunches.
- Day 2: Plyometrics (60 minutes) Plyo is jump training – and it’ll send your heart rate to the moon. A very intense workout, but fast-paced and fun.
- Day 3: Shoulders & Arms + Ab Ripper X (75 minutes) Curls and presses of every variety. Besides lots of crunches, Ab Ripper X has lots of ways to do leg lifts
- Day 4: Yoga X (90 minutes) – This breaks down into 45 minutes of Flow, 30 minutes of balance and stretching, and 15 minutes of a special hell called “Yoga Belly 7”
- Day 5: Legs & Back + Ab Ripper X (75 minutes) – This is actually the hardest workout for me – I’m smoked at the end. It is an hour of lunges and squats salted with chinups and the 3rd consecutive day of Ab torture
- Day 6: Kenpo X (60 minutes) – Kenpo is kickboxing. This is an intense cardio workout, and it’s my favorite of the week.
- Day 7: Rest or X-Stretch – By day 7, I always chose the “X-Rest” option as I called it.
The fourth week was a recovery week made up of two rounds of Yoga, a round of stretching, a round of Kenpo, and two sessions of “Core Synergistics” – a full-body core workout.
While all of this is going on, we were following the strict Phase I nutrition plan. Phase I is called the “Fat Shredder” because it’s a very low carb and low fat month. My rules were basically that I couldn’t have more than 3000 calories a day and it had to be broken down to 50% Protein, 30% carbs, 20% fat. This meant that I had to give up carbs almost completely. It’s actually really difficult to get 1500 calories by way of protein! Having 10-egg white breakfasts weren’t uncommon in our house.
So, what happened? Was it worth it?
Absolutely! The changes are both objective and subjective. I’ve lost 9 pounds in the first four weeks, and I look much different in the mirror. It’s surprising how much things can change in that short of time with some extremely hard work. My gut is smaller, my face is less puffy, my shoulders are broader, and I’m getting the beginnings of a gun show. I sleep like a stone and I haven’t needed any antacids since I started. My posture is better, my energy level is increasing, and my flexibility has improved. Based on the results from Phase I, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen over the next two months.
Heather’s doing great too – she started at a better place than me and she’s already starting to rock a six-pack.
Here are a few random thoughts after Phase I:
- It is a huge time commitment. Between dedicating 90 minutes a day to working out and preparing a high-protein low-carb low-fat diet, it eats a big chunk of the day.
- I do find myself looking forward to the workout each day!
- I often didn’t eat enough. It’s really hard to ingest as much protein as is required, so I’d just not eat. This would result in some days (and mornings) where I felt positively velcroed to the bed.
- I’m not a big fan of cottage cheese. Egg Beaters Whites are better than expected. Clif Builder’s bars are the best tasting, Pure Protein bars are the worst (bad steak/iron aftertaste in a chocolate bar is no bueno)
- I’m pretty sure I look ridiculous doing Yoga. Actually, I probably look ridiculous doing most of the exercises. Some poses still aren’t in my arsenal – Warrior Three is a mess!
- We went all-in with the plan and we haven’t missed a day of workouts. We also swear by the P90x Recovery Drink and Animal Pak workout multivitamins
- Having a partner going through it at the same time has been key – we don’t workout at the same time, but we love sharing our war stories at the end of the day and it’s very motivational.
- You can do it with the resistance bands – but using dumbbells is way better. We picked up some PowerBlocks on Craigslist for $175.
Tomorrow I start Phase II. We get to re-measure and take new photos. It also means a whole new set of workouts and a change in diet. A little less protein, a little more carb. I’m pretty excited about that change!
I’ll post numbers as soon as I get ’em..