Day 82 – Redemption (I am so lost sometimes)

So my last entry lamenting the fact that I missed my last weights day was a little premature. Fact is that I have one day left. The day 81 workout was the Kenpo that I switched with Yoga leaving me with Legs and Back today and then Yoga on Friday (or not, as noted).

Sometimes I wonder...

So I am now in a position where I have one resistance day left and then one cardio day and then a full week of rest week and then I am done.

I’ll let you know how the last resistance day goes. Nothing out of the norm I can’t imagine.

So it would figure that once I did the math and figured out I still had one day left to do that I would be feeling like garbage. I think I had a little too much coffee today because I felt shaky and weak, a sure sign of caffeine overload. For me, when that happens I get the feeling that I can’t get any blood flow to my muscles, I feel weak and surprisingly lethargic. Once I start working out however I find my heart rate goes higher than normal and I sweat like a wildebeast. Speaking of which, here’s an interesting fact for the day that I think maybe everyone except me knows… The wildebeast is the same animal as the Gnu. I had literally no idea. Besides, it sounds less dramatic to say I was sweating like a Gnu.

So the start of the workout was difficult but I pushed myself to do more knowing how I would feel after 10 minutes or so. That is an incredibly important part of fitness and weightloss. Knowing how your body will react to something is a powerful tool in your arsenal. It is obvious that some days you are going to be better in the gym than others, it’s just a fact. During those days that you feel great and want to do more, you should do whatever you can because you know that there are going to be days when you have to take it easy because you don’t feel so good. The point is to recognize the difference between your body sending you a message to take it easy and your brain telling you to relax because it is being lazy. Laziness doesn’t have an equal and opposite force, it is just a drain. Lazy people are lazy in all facets of their life including at the gym and with their diet. Strong motivated people know when to push and when to hold back and that is something that will always work to their advantage.

In other words, learn to recognize your BODY’S signals, not your brain’s.

So I started off not feeling great, but after the first round of pullups and lunges I started to come around. As usual for me, once I get going I feel fine, which is why I have a long standing agreement with myself that if I don’t feel like going to the gym I will go anyway and see how it is. If I still feel like I don’t need to be there after 10 minutes, I am allowed to leave. Of the dozens of times I have thought of this rule, I have only ever once turned around after 10 minutes and left.

So what have I learned about the leg days? This is important to me because when I first hurt my back way back in 1997 or so it was on an incline leg press doing slightly over 1000lbs. The sled came down on me and I was unable to turn the stop handles quickly enough. Due to the fact that I was not flexible, something had to give and it was my back. Now, I am not blaming my entire history of back problems on that one event, but what I do know is that morning laying on the floor of The Workout was the first time I ever remember feeling the pain of disc herniation. I continued to work on my legs for the next few years without much incident, I mostly did squats and extensions and stayed away from the sled. Once my back started to give out more regularly I gave up working out my legs because it seemed that every time I did something with my legs I put my back out. I even recall doing the original P90 workout a few years ago and after leg day the next morning I couldn’t walk because of my back. After my surgery I was left with a weak right leg having lost about 30% of the muscle mass in my thigh. I tried in vain to rebuild the leg but found it incredibly frustrating. Looking back I wish I had listened to myself when I used to tell my PT clients about the importance of stretching, not for flexibility necessarily but for warmup and warm down purposes. Had I realized that my back problems were linked directly to my leg issues and the lack of hamstring flexibility I could have saved myself a lot of grief. But, you live and learn.

So what I have learned about leg days is that your legs are a critical part of your lower back health, your overall flexibility and even your core strength. If you are smart and look after your hamstrings, keep them flexible and strong you will go a long way towards preventing unnecessary back pain. This also applies to knee pain and hip pain since the leg muscles are the connection between your hips and your knees. I can’t stress how important it is to keep the back of your legs supple and the proof is the fact that I am able to do the intense workouts for my legs in P90X without any adverse effects on my back. This alone has been both a major benefit but also a major surprise to me. My right leg has grown in strength and size over the past 90 days which I was unable to accomplish in the 8 years since my surgery. It just goes to show, you should try everything once because you just never know what might work.

Except acupuncture. Don’t bother with acupuncture it doesn’t work. I can tell you that from experience.

Day 38 – 1 Week To The Top

Back, Biceps

I always imagine the half way point of any venture as the top of the mountain, once you are past half way, things always seem to go more quickly towards the finish line. One week from today I will be half way through the P90X program and although my “transformation” is not significant, that was not my goal. In fact, as I stated at the outset my goal for doing this was only for the challenge and the variety. The fact that I have lost a few pounds and made some significant fitness gains is a bonus.

It has been really weird not going to the gym every day and still getting the quality of workout that I have been. I have always been of the opinion that you need to be in the gym to get the quality of workout that you need to succeed in fitness. This stems from the arrogance of my initial certification as an ACE Personal Trainer. When I got certified, the culture was that the gym was the law not the guideline and the notion of working out without weights was almost non existent. Since then a lot has changed, the improvisation of the fitness industry and their desire for money has generated a whole industry around working out at home. From the very early days of at home aerobics to Billy Blanks and his Tae Bo all the way up to P90X and beyond, the fitness industry now accepts the notion that you can get a great workout anywhere you want to. Ask any Personal Trainer worth their salt and they will now be able to give you a dozen alternatives to replace your gym exercises no matter if you are at home, at a hotel or even at the beach. My experience with P90X has taught me that not only is it possible to get a top class workout at home, but also that the workout that I impose on my kids at gym every year is a reflection of my own insight into that area. Without even knowing it I had developed a workout regime that could very easily have served as an at home workout for anyone willing to put in the time and effort.

Speaking of gym, I am going to start (hopefully) to develop the conditioning for the year before we start, that way I will have lists defined, workout schedules made and a well balanced approach to their fitness ready to go. Much as I enjoy making stuff up as we go, it does make me stressed and can occasionally lead to unbalanced workouts. So this year I hope to incorporate some of the Plyo and other P90X stuff into the conditioning and to have a set of workouts of various lengths I can pick from.