Forced Rest day .. Part Deux


Last day of coaching! WOOHOO!!! A couple of months off to ourselves this should be great!

However, this means no workout tonight which may be a good thing since after yesterday’s Legs and Back (with Ab Killer) both Nicole and I are very sore below the waist. As exciting as that sounds, don’t get all giggly, the fact is that I have had the following conversation several times today:

Why are you limping?
My butt hurts
I did P90X legs last night
Is that the infomercial one?
Unfortunately, yes.
Why would you do that to yourself?
Honestly? I am starting to wonder…

Just as day 2 taught me, as the day wears on you do not feel better… In fact you get a quite significant increase in pain towards the end of the day. I am expecting that when I stand up to leave  today my butt may very well catch on fire.

I think this would be a good time to demonstrate what my back surgery did to my legs. The only picture I have of my legs prior to the surgery is below. I will take a picture of my legs as they are now today if possible. The upshot of the surgery was that once I was recovered, I had lost approximately 50% of my strength in my right leg. The size difference at the time was shocking, I had lost about 30% of the mass from my quad and I looked just plain bizarre. I can’t even think of an analogy for it, it was just weird. After what is now 8 years of rehab and constant work on the leg, I still have issues with it. I can’t run up steep hills for example, after a few steps my leg gives out. The other really messed up thing with it is that my body has compensated my giving me a strong butt muscle which makes it feel like I am sitting on an enourmous wallet in my back pocket. Anyway, it’s been 8 years now and I haven’t had a single picture taken where you can see my legs. I think it is about time.

By the way, my back injury was caused by a collapsing rugby scrum which I was caught under as a 14 year old. It resurfaced in the gym when I tried to do too much weight on the incline leg press and the stack came down on me. The motto of my story is do what you can, not what your ego tells you to do.

What my legs were like in 2000, pre-surgery.
What my legs were like in 2000, pre-surgery.

Day 5 – Struggling

Weak, nauseous, vomiting? Could be P90X...
Weak, nauseous, vomiting? Could be P90X…

Legs and Back.

It’s a weird thing but I am more tired now after taking a day off than I was yesterday. Less sore, which is a good thing, but just exhausted. I am actually more scared of next week now that I know the movements I can increase my weights and of course my stupid male ego will force me to push myself even further. Today is Legs, Back and Ab Ripper X, a big day to say the least. Tomorrow is the last day of coaching for the year so hopefully even if I am too sore to walk I will still be able to say goodbye to my girls. I am heading home now to do the workout, eat some dinner and head out to a dance recital. I will hopefully get a chance to post before we go out, if not, once we return home. Damn, I was going to put up the rest of the gym mirrors tonight.

I haven’t felt this shaky since the expired meat episode when I had to take 2 days off work with what I thought was Botulism. Or Swine Flu. Turns out I just don’t know how to cook and I had given myself food poisoning.

The workout was fairly vicious. If I had managed to do 25 chin-ups each time I would have done 200!! However, since there are 4 types to do and you repeat them twice I managed only 80. Still, doing 80 mostly unassisted chin-ups is nothing to sneeze at when you are my weight. I did get some fairly significant pain in my left elbow whenever I did them with a supinated palm but it seems better this morning. However, I am sitting here at 5am after getting up at 4am to work on an upgrade to one of the computer systems at work and not being fully awake means I am also not fully aware of exactly how much pain I am going to be in today. My biggest worry is that historically when I have worked on my legs, it has tightened up my back and occasionally thrown it out. I will have to be careful today.

So the workout was back and legs with Ab Groper X. The leg workout was far more single leg work than I imagined it would be. It was also mostly lunge based. I suppose I had imagined it would be more traditionally squat based, however the variation, as with everything “X” was well thought out and difficult, but possible and challenging to execute. Less cardio intense than Plyometrics and less of a balance challenge than Yoga, it fit right in and allowed for some really good isolation of the quads. It was a little lacking in the hamstring department, but that is why you do so many lunge based movements, to increase the hamstring involvement. I managed to pull off most of the movements and was fairly close to the demonstrators reps however there are a couple of movements with which I really struggled. I am very fortunate never to have had knee problems, but I could see how this workout would be difficult if you did suffer from an old knee injury.

On the back end came Abs. My hip flexors are about as useful as a chocolate teapot right now. My Ab Ripper X workout seems to be getting worse not better. I am better at the first few exercises, but once we get to Fifer Scissors my flexors give in and my legs feel like pillars of stone. As for Crunchy Frog and his friends, frankly at this point they can all go to hell! I do feel stronger in my core, but I also feel a great deal of pain especially if I laugh. Thanks to Tony though, one of the first things I lost was my sense of humour so I am not worried.


Forced Rest day

Vitamix. The 911 Turbo of kitchen appliances
Vitamix. The 911 Turbo of kitchen appliances

I feel like I fell in a blender yesterday…

Since I am still coaching, at least for this week, I have no choice but to take today off. Even if I wanted to work out after I get home it would mean starting at 9:30 or so, going until 10:30 and then probably not being able to sleep until midnight. Actually it doesn’t sound so bad when I think about it.

Speaking of thinking, I have a feeling I will change how I feel about this experience on a daily basis. I know when Tony and I are alone and I dream about ripping his legs off one by one I feel a lot different than I do once it is high five time and we pack it in for the day. However I also find that I feel different day to day. I have an undercurrent of feeling that I am simply not doing enough. I guess it is because of the nature of lifting weights and the obvious result that I feel like I am underachieving at the moment. I know that when I go to the gym I have a set amount of sets and reps to do and that once I am done I will have achieved my 70,000lbs or whatever that days requirement is. I also know that I will be predictably tired and equally predictably sore. With P90X so far I don’t have that kind of predictability. Some of the things I can do easily but others I am not so proficient with and as such I don’t get the kind of work I would like from it. I have to assume that as I become more familiar I will be able to get full benefit from knowing how to do the skills and how to measure my effort. For now, I remain uncomfortable in my frustration.

That said, the program seems like a well thought out and well put together system. I know that when I plan the conditioning for myself or for the kids during the fall it is with meticulous attention to getting the right work done in the right way and making sure that one workout recovery doesn’t affect the next workout execution. This is a difficult thing to achieve and one which I believe I have never seen in an at home system. That is why I decided to try this as opposed to any other home based system. I was looking for a change of pace from the weights at the gym but wanted something I could trust to give me the kind of challenge I was looking for. I believe, regardless of my previous statment of frustration, that I have found that program. So far, and I know after 4 of the 90 days I am no expert here, I would highly recommend this to anyone.

The real pain in the ass about today and Thursday is that I have no rec class to teach so I have until 6pm to get to Gymnastics. That would give me enough time to do my workout if I was close to home… or if I had remembered to bring a DVD with me. Maybe I can improvise something…

Day 4 – My Nemesis the Crane

Yoga – I feel cyclobenzaprene in my future.

PrescriptionBottleLike Ahabs White Whale, Tom’s Gerry, Wylie Coyote’s Road Runner, Yoga for me is my nemesis. My flexibility resembles someone in a full body cast, my balance, while not bad in itself has never been coupled with said flexibility and I am expecting an unhappy meeting of the two. I am expecting, in fact, to feel like a bad drunk during a sobriety test.

Today, even my eyeballs hurt. However, I think in the past I would have been in bed today with my back out, so the fact that I am heading to work, albeit at a very slow pace, is a great sign. Oh, and my gymnastics girls are going to suffer for this next year when it comes to conditioning in September… Plyometrics comes to town!

It has been a very long time since I had this overall hit-by-a-truck feeling. I remember feeling this way after rugby games in my youth, of course there was always copious amounts of beer to make it go away back then. I am hoping that todays yoga will give me a little focus, a dash of peace to go in my pain stew.

10pm.. So much for that.

Like I have said, I read some P90X blogs as I prepared to start this process and most if not all of them found Yoga the biggest challenge. What they fail to tell you is that Yoga X comes in 3 parts, 30 minutes each. I wasn’t aware of this so by around the 20 minute mark after 864 runner’s poses I was about ready to call it a day. Not to mention the fact that I can’t even get into runners pose from plank without a great deal of effort and a little help from my arms. Somehow my leg gets trapped underneath me and I can’t swing it all the way to my hands. I have every confidence that this will change as time goes on but for now I felt like a hippo playing twister. The first 30 minutes were extraordinarily difficult and the seemingly endless up and down dogs, the thousands of planks and the invitation by Tony (who by the way is in fact Satan himself) to do pushups in between each move was almost enough to make me quit. I believed it couldn’t all be like that so I soldiered on and was rewarded by a ray of sunshine known as the balance flow. Within moments I went from a deep seated hatred of Yoga that seeped from every quivering fiber of each cell of my body, to an awareness that there was going to be something I could actually do! The balance sequences were tough, I admit, but nothing like the first 30 minutes. My heart rate slowed, I was able to focus on breathing and balance and found it quite peaceful. I even managed a 5 second crane although I am sure my wrists will never forgive me.

The third section of the DVD is stretching, something which I need immensely but have to be extremely careful of due to my back surgery. I made it through, completing most of the moves and experiencing some eye opening degrees of flexibility (at least for me). If you watch the DVD you will see some ridiculous movements, things that I am sure are not even legal in some of the Southern States. I am sure I will always have a secret admiration for people who can do those kinds of things while knowing that it is most likely far from my grasp.

I came to an interesting realization while attempting some of the flexibility / grab moves and that is that I have managed over the years to build my upper body to the point where I can no longer touch parts of my body I should be able to. I’d actually like to touch those parts again some day and it’s kind of creepy that a guy called Tony is going to help me.

Day 3 – Better Late Than Never

Shoulders and Arms plus Ab Ripper

Gluten Free Living - ya it sucks but so does indigestion
Gluten Free Living - ya it sucks but so does indigestion

We had a busy day today driving to Hastings for a family get together and after all was said and done it was 7pm when we got through the door at home. However I am still in the romance phase with P90X and nothing was going to stop me from getting day 3 out of the way and getting to bed. Having said that, I was exhausted as soon as I woke up and managed to get through the day without the use of my right hip flexor which I am fairly sure turned to stone overnight. Everything below the waist hurts. Some things above the waist felt like they hadn’t hurt enough yesterday and so were looking for a little more sympathy today. This rolling, cascading carnival of pain that runs through your body is certainly challenging and makes even the most mundane of daily tasks like getting into the bottom drawer of the refrigerator at work seem insurmountable.

In recent months I have developed a sore shoulder at the gym, so much so that I have an ultrasound appointment to get it checked out so I was understandably concerned about Shoulders and Arms. It was a sore workout. I can’t really supinate much with my left arm so the out and in curls were a challenge. I also am used to doing significantly more weight but in shorter sets so it was difficult to get accustomed to the 15-20 reps I was doing. All things considered, it was a pretty good workout. Usually at the gym I blast my shoulders with military press for almost 30 minutes by themselves so I am not entirely convinced that this workout will get me any results, X or not. However, I am open to a new approach to my physique and I will see what  happens. If I feel like I am losing some strength in any of my workouts I can always substitute some heavy lifting once in a while if I am so inclined. However, I think that as much as this is a workout change, it is also for me a philosophical change in my approach. So for now I will submit to the process and see where it takes me.

As for the workout, the movements were predictable, most of which I have done in the gym myself at some point. I am not a fan of the tricep pushbacks, I feel that you can’t really get a good extension with a significant enough weight to really see a change but maybe that is just me. I also wish I had a dip station I could do hanging dips instead of the bench dips. I was quite proud of myself, I managed to contain my sobbing to a short period during bench dips when I really felt like I was going to come apart like a rotisserie chicken.

Ab Ripper took my by surprise again. This time I was able to do more, I counted at least a 10% improvement over the first time. But my abs feel like they are made from crushed glass that is ripping my internal organs apart as I move. I was unable to get off the floor for a few minutes after we finished. So much so I was still laying there when Nicole had headed upstairs for her recovery drink.

One more note. I am not following the diet. I know, I know, each time I come across a site where someone says that I think “you idiot, diet is the key, THE KEY DAMMIT” but in my case I have a legitimate excuse. I am studying to be a certified nutritionist and I am designing my own program. Now since the P90X program was developed by nutritionists I am going to see if I am anywhere close to the level of knowledge that it took to create the program. I have analysed my requirements and am able to determine exactly what I need given my personal situation. It is more as a lab with a controlled subject (me) doing a controlled exercise program (P90X) so that I can see exactly the effects the nutritional changes are making to my body. The other gotcha in my case is that I don’t eat wheat. So following a program that calls for wheat based products becomes problematic.

Day 2 – The Downward Spiral Begins


When I woke up I was relatively fine. The fact is that I am used to push ups and a certain amount of chin ups so I wasn’t expecting the kind of rude awakening that some people get when they first start the program. I felt so good in fact that after a Chakra bar and a glass of juice I was on the treadmill for 45 minutes as I am every Saturday morning for a run/jog/walk combo session. It wasn’t until after I had a bit of lunch (spinach salad, broccoli and some feta) that I felt some twinges across my back. I went out to Home Depot to get some hardware to create a mirrored wall in the gym in the basement so that I can check my form, something I have always done since my earliest powerlifting days. By the time I got back and got some of the mirrors up I was starting to feel a familiar sting of pain across my shoulders and under my armpits. So I decided I had better get to day 2 before the pain spread and I made a bad decision.

Wet much?

Nicole had texted me earlier in the day, she was reading the P90X book at the gym while she was doing her floor hours. It simply said that she thought Plyometrics was not going to be easy for me. No kidding, its not P90A or B, it’s X after all… However, knowing my history of back issues, my little leg (still not recovered all the mass I lost after the surgery), and of course the mass I was going to have to throw around I wasn’t exactly going to argue. Needless to say I was a little concerned with how it was going to go. The really weird thing is that I didn’t think I couldn’t handle it, I was more concerned with if I was going to be able to walk tomorrow. However I decided to get the measurements done and bring the pain.

I am somewhat ashamed that even with coaching all season and having spent quite some time losing weight already that I still was looking at a 42 inch waist. I am sure I will be equally appalled when I do my body fat test tomorrow morning. But that is why I am doing this I suppose.

Day 2 started off OK. I had my heart rate monitor which I highly recommend if you are going to be taking on this challenge. I have had one for a while, it came with my Polar F11 watch and I use it almost every day. I had my 2l of water and my towel and was ready to rock. I have to admit that Tony is much more agreeable this time around. Maybe it is because he can be obnoxious and motivating rather than having to be more polite and generic as he is on the P90 DVD. So far I have not had the urge to put my foot through the TV just to put a stop to his taunts.

So I didn’t go all the way down in the squats, I know this is dangerous for me. I didn’t quite make 30 seconds of everything but I managed to squeeze out around 23 – 25. My heart rate stayed between 140 and 150 for the duration of the workout which I admit I find amazing and very motivating. If you have read any other P90X blogs you will no doubt have read about the sweating and I am no exception. I like to work out without a shirt but for this I couldn’t do it, I was dripping like a dog spa mongrel. The hour did seem to drag around the 26 minute mark but once we got to 35 or so it was plain sailing. By plain sailing I mean of course it was ridiculous torture and felt like I had knives sticking in my butt cheeks but I managed to make it through. Thankfully there was no Ab Ripper today. It hurts to laugh. It actually hurts to do most things but really only in my obliques.

So there it is. Day 2 in the bag and I am looking forward to waking up tomorrow feeling like I was mauled in my sleep by a marauding llama.

Here I go. Day 1, time to “Bring It”.

funny-pictures-angry-slothJune 19th, 2009. D-Day.

So this is an off the cuff decision for me, deciding to jump into P90X without much pre-thought. It’s probably better this way, no trepidation or anxiety leading up to the kickoff. Just a day to think “will I regret this?”. I know Tony, and by ‘know’ I mean we spent some time together last year in my basement while I took on the original P90 program.

From what I can recall, I hate Tony. He represents so many failed attempts and a goal that seems simply unachievable. Simply put, I hate him because at this point, I hate myself for what I have become.

Maybe this will be better, but I think it is what he represents more than him as an individual. I am sure my charity won’t extend past this afternoon so that is all I am going to say for now.

Lunch was a bit of a disaster, I haven’t actually read the nutritional guide yet so blissful in my ignorance I had BBQ for lunch with the work gang. Needless to say I am sitting here in a meat coma thinking of how I am possibly going to “bring it” without “bringing it up” later in the basement. Also, I have not actually set the floor in the basement yet with the extended floor mats. We currently have half the basement as the gym, I will need to extend that to the full room if I am going to have the space to do this P90X thing. So when I get home I have to fix the floor, find a workout book, towel, mat and arrange the dumbells ready for the program. Big day, I can feel it!

Let me just say that I consider myself to be in decent shape. I can do a hundred pushups, a couple hundred crunches and a handful of full extension chinups without much effort. However, I am a static athlete. Most of what I do is with free weights and my strength is very limited to the range of motion. So even though I can bench close to 400lbs and shoulder press over 275lbs I am not necessarily “fit”. I know my cardio can use a little work since I do not run since my back surgery but I consider myself pretty strong. What I really want is what our kids at gymnastics have, all around flexibility and strength. I am at the age now where carrying such a large amount of muscle around is getting to be too much like hard work and I think it may be time to tone it down a bit.


Chest and Back

I sit here having achieved most of my goals for the day. Basement floor, check. Arrange workout stuff, check. Go to Supperworks and make a week of meals even though I forgot we were going, check. Bring it, check and check!

Tony warned us to take our time and pace ourselves and even though Nicole had a miserable attempt at day 1 yesterday I think today we brought what we could. The push ups were easy, I easily matched what the guys in the video were doing. Even the pull ups which I have spent the last year working on at the gym were fine. It was the Ab Ripper X (which I forgot we had to do for day 1) that killed me. I have an ab, just one, but a few minutes in it had admitted defeat and shamelessly abandoned it’s post. By the conclusion, I was unable to achieve a standing position, much less hold the upwards facing dog (which for me resembled a tranquilized chihuahua).

Given the adrenaline of it being day 1 and our unbridled enthusiasm I am not surprised we made it through. I am, however,  surprised that my heartrate monitor stayed above 140 for almost an hour straight and that even though it was 3 hours ago now I am still a little shaken and more than a touch nauseous.

Welcome to day 1, the only thing I can guarantee is that I will feel a whole lot worse before I start to feel any better. But that is why they call it X!