Archive for the ‘P90X’ Category

Count Ingredients Not Calories?

Wow. Check out this note that Tony Horton (of P90X and Beachbody fame) posted on Facebook. Scary!

I mean it’s not like I didn’t know this know this, but seeing it written out like that….

Dusting off old friends

As you might imagine, I have a ton of workout DVDs. Heck, I even have some old VHS tapes (including Billy Blanks’ original Tae-Bo program and Susan Powter’s “Lean, Strong, and Healthy“). It’s too bad I don’t have a VHS player anymore, because those were the best!

So, while I didn’t go all the way to 1993, I did go back to my workout routine from a couple of years ago: P90X, which is available from Beachbody.

Since I was just mixing it in, I pulled out KenpoX. KenpoX, which is the sixth of the twelve DVD set, is – for want of a better description – Tony Horton’s version of kickboxing.

Making sure I had my heart rate monitor securely fastened, I strapped on my 2lb weighted gloves and my 5lb ankle weights and, to use a derivative of Horton’s catch phrase, “Brought it!”

One reason why it’s a good idea to go back and do old workouts that you haven’t done in a long time is that it mixes things up. Another is that it provides a nice marker of where you are now in relation to where you were. Not surprisingly, since it’s been over a year since I went through P90X, there were things that were definitely harder than they used to be. My balance, for instance, is not as good as it was when I was in the thick of it. On the other hand, my horse stance was much deeper and much stronger than it ever was; I’m assuming that has to do with all of the curtsy lunges I’ve been doing in K-bells and as part of my own floor program that I designed from some of the my favorite routines (more on that later). During the vertical punching sequence, I could also see that my abs are much more defined than they used to be and I have definition throughout my core (especially in my sides). This was a particularly nice bonus, as I’m vain enough to think that that kind of thing is pretty darned cool!

So, if you’re stuck in a rut with your current exercise routine, whether it’s a DVD or a class or just a favored activity like running outdoors, swimming, or biking, trot out an old routine to mix it up. You can always try something new, but when you try something old – something you haven’t done in months, if not years – you actually get a much better picture of where you’ve been, where you are now (relatively speaking), and, if you’ve lost ground, the direction in which you need to go in order to catch back up and, hopefully, get ahead.

For me, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing in terms of legs and core, but I will definitely start incorporating more balance postures and exercises back into my workout! Revisiting KenpoX thus not only put me through my paces in terms of just being a kick-ass workout, but it also provided me with a reality check on my overall fitness and some insight on where I need to focus my attention in the future.

So if you’ve got an old box of workout DVDs or a bike that hasn’t seen the light of day in six months or more, dust them off and take them for a spin; you might be surprised! I know that I, for one, will be slipping KenpoX back into the routine. Who knows? There may be yet a fourth round of P90X in my future. It could happen.

Mixing it up and toning it (down)

Like most people, I am a creature of habit.

Over the last 30+ weeks, I realize that I have moved through 3 different phases of working out. In other words, whereas most people cross train I tend to do things in 10 week chunks.

Last summer, I was heavily ensconced in P90X. For those of you who haven’t seen the infomercials, it’s a total body program with a focus on upper body strength. I definitely lost inches, but not a lot of weight. In fact, I gained some, which was undoubtedly muscle.

In the fall, I continued on with parts of P90X (especially Yoga X) and added in really high intensity cardio — typically an hour on the tread climber or spinning, holding nothing back. I still didn’t lose weight — well, not much — but I kept the form.

In the winter, I dropped the weights and just went for the serious cardio — again, the tread climber and a spinning bike were my tools of choice. I was definitely in the more calories burned the better mindset. It was nothing for me to go work out an hour before teaching a spinning class! And more often than not, I kept my heart rate at the top of my aerobic zone or above. Indeed, around 3 days a week — at least — I was burning over a 1,000 a day in exercise. Eventually, however, I was also eating close to 2,000 calories a day in order to fuel my exercise habit. It was also easier to fool myself into believing that it was okay if I ate the chocolate croissant, because I had “worked it off”! In fact, what I was doing was starving my body of oxygen at the very times that it needed it the most!

Notably, I actually liked the hard exercise. I liked spending that much time in the gym. I liked the sweat and the stench of hard work. It made me feel like I’d actually accomplished something. What I didn’t like about it was that even with all that work, even with the consistent and often times steep calorie deficits, I still wasn’t losing weight. In fact, if felt like every time I had a glass of wine or anything at all, I’d glob on three pounds before it even got past my taste buds!

During the spring (since mid March), I switched modes. I stopped working out at a break neck speed. I started spending the bulk of my time at the low end of my aerobic training zone and I started implementing real warm ups and cool downs. Essentially, I started doing what people had been telling me for years. 10 minute warm up, 40 minutes in your training zone, and 10 minute cool down. Guess what? I started releasing weight. Not only did I start releasing weight, I did it in about half the time and with less wear and tear on the joints.

At first, when I started working out at 130-150 beats per minute (my real target zone) I thought: What a waste of time. This isn’t doing anything! But I was wrong. It did do something. I released the weight and it’s been easy to keep it from coming back. Granted, there have been minor bumps in the trend line, but nothing major. If you look at the trend line, it’s been slow and steady. In fact, I’m still releasing weight — though not nearly to the degree that I was in March and April. And that’s fine, because I don’t need to release it that fast. Indeed, I am actually at the point where I’m not sure if I need to release any more at all. Never thought I’d be in the position to say that before! (Which is probably why it never happened!)

Which brings me to my next 10 week cycle.

Despite my deep passion for cardio, my plan is to minimize its role in the next phase of my exercise career. I hope that by writing it down, I will commit to an even lower keeled routine for a while. One that includes some cardio (maybe every other day instead of five to six days a week and for maybe 30 minutes instead of an hour) and centers, instead, on a maintenance-oriented routine that includes toning, k-bells, and yoga. I’m thinking that yoga (60 to 90 minutes) and toning every other day would be a good thing.

My inner cardio-queen cries out in agony: Don’t do it!

The shift from weight loss to maintenance and overall fitness is challenging. Psychologically, it just feels wrong to exercise for an hour and a half to only burn 220 calories — my typical results after 90 minutes of flow yoga poses and balance postures. But I’m going to do it. As soon as spinning ends (June 11), it’s me, Michelle, Tony, and Jillian. Talk about changing your peer group!

Consider this my public declaration of commitment.

K-Bell Total Body Blast – Review

As noted previously, I purchased the latest trendy exercise program, K-bells (with “Master Instructor” Michelle Khai) and actually liked it.

I had worked through the introductory package, which has a lot of good instructional material as well as one decent cardio workout and one 50 minute circuit training DVD.

Despite that I liked the idea of a k-bell exercise program, the flowing movements, the knowledge that I was working out micro-muscles, the workout itself, and the instructor, I realized that I just wasn’t doing this workout. Whenever I made a decision about what type of exercise I was going to do, I would go to the gym and hit the Step Mill (which my massage therapist lovingly calls “The Gauntlet”), the Tread Climber, Spinning, or if I stayed at home, I’d more often than not jump on the Nordic Track or do Yoga. So what was going on? If I liked the program, why wasn’t I doing it?

It boiled down to this — the premise of the workout is that you get your heart rate up and you do the bell work and this combination “blasts” the fat from your body!!! Sound good? Sure it does. But there’s only one problem: it was physically impossible for me to get my heart rate up into my fat burning zone doing this workout alone. Thus, I wasn’t burning any calories. It’s not Michelle’s fault, nor is it the fault of the k-bell program. In fact, I have the exact same problem with all of Jillian Michael’s home workout DVDs. I also have the same problem with Tony Horton’s Kenpo X (the kickboxing segment of P90X) and Cardio X. And, for that matter, Billy Blanks Tae-Bo the last time I did it. Essentially, it’s not them; it’s me. They may actually work in terms of toning and building muscle, but psychologically, I feel like I’m wasting my time.

And it’s not that I’m not trying, it’s just that after teaching spinning for 4 years, I have a super low resting heart rate: it’s about 42 first thing in the morning and around 56-60 after I’ve been up a while. It takes a lot of umph to get from 60 to 130 (which is the low end of my target training zone) in a 30 – 45 minute work out tape.

However, I really wanted to do the KB Total Body Blast and I really want to be able to incorporate it into my summer routine without feeling like I’m wasting time. It’s fun; she’s doing a lot of really interesting moves. I can feel the little micro-muscles doing their thing. I feel like my balance will improve if I keep it up. I like the momentum generated by the bell as I swing it across my body. And unlike a lot of newer cardio blast programs, there isn’t a lot of jumping. There is hopping, but that doesn’t bother my knee the way that other more plyo-centric programs do.

So, determined to get a good workout and do KB Total Body Blast, I got up this morning, put on U2’s, “No Line on the Horizon” and jumped on the Nordic Track. This album is a good choice for getting into and staying right in my target zone (between 130-145 beats per minutes) as it has a good mix of fast and slow songs. Also, there is a good mix of tight (or short) notes and loose (or long) notes, lending itself to intervals. It’s also relatively short, clocking in at only 54 minutes. That’s 15 warm-up, 30 minutes in the zone, and the last two songs are slow, which starts a pseudo-cooling off period.

Then, with my heart rate at 100 (instead of 58!) I immediately jumped into KB Total Body Blast — which is only 30 minutes — and it was perfect. I stayed in the zone almost the entire time. I was tired when I was done. I actually worked up a sweat! I only burned 204 calories doing it, but it was only 30 minutes (and when I’d done it without raising my heart rate first, I had only burned 157)!

However, add that to the cardio that I’d done on the Nordic Track (400!), I burned 604 calories. Not to shabby for a leisurely Sunday morning at home. Especially since 1 hour out of that 1 hour and 24 minutes was in my target training zone!

So, bottom line: if you are already fit and you find home workouts to be a waste of time, do something else first to get your heart rate up. I really think that KB Total Body Blast is going to be worth it. Besides that, it’s a lot of fun! This is also going to encourage me to shake the dust off of some of my other programs and give them another go!


Raising your standards (or lowering your threshold)

One of the good things about taking a long time to meet you desired goal weight is that gradually your threshold of acceptability changes.

Back when I weighed 232 pounds, it was enough to be the smallest person in my family.

For the longest time, after Weight Watchers, it was enough to have lost 50 or 60 pounds. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my threshold was 179. It was not acceptable to get above this number; to do so, in my mind, would have triggered failure. Whenever I thought that I was getting fat again, I thought of the 180 me, not the 232 pound me. The 232 pound me was so far outside of my threshold of acceptability (my new standard for myself) that I no longer even considered it a possibility.

Two and a half years ago, I was creeping back up to 179. I adopted an alkaline diet/lifestyle, did P90x with a friend, and dropped close to 30 pounds. Unfortunately, my standard didn’t change and in a moment — try six months!– of stress, I ended right back where I started: 179 pounds.

Essentially, my standard hadn’t changed. And, consciously or not, I knew that.

The following summer, I tried it again. That time, I started with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, followed by P90x (twice). I got down to 141.8. But again, during the winter months, my resolve started to slip. But last March, when I crept past 150, I said: enough! My standard had changed. 150 — which used to be a goal — had become the standard — the threshold of what I was willing to accept for myself.

Now, you might be thinking that this is just yo-yo dieting, but if you look at the trend line, it’s been moving steadily down. Moreover, I really believe (in retrospect) that all of those starts and stops — not to mention the dreaded plateaus — were actually necessary in order for my standard to change.

When I think of myself as being heavy, I never think of the 232 pound me; I rarely think of the 179 pound me, because I can’t even imagine going back there! And if you can’t imagine it, it won’t happen. Think about it.

And whenever possible, in whatever domain of your life, raise your standards and, in the case of weight loss, lower your threshold!


The K-Bells didn’t arrive as expected, so I ended up hitting the Nordic Track and doing Ab Ripper X, the 20 minute ab routine from P90X, instead! It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it’s always good to have a contingency plan.

Needless to say, I’ll be waiting for the mail delivery tomorrow with baited breath!