My relationship with exercise

I just got a bump from Kyle, my Noom Goal Specialist, asking me to make a goal to help with something I struggle with, like exercise, or blah blah blah.

Exercise has often been a struggle for me. My job keeps me seated at a computer. I do have time for exercise, but at a certain point I lost motivation.

When I was in Albuquerque in the 1990s, I lived within easy walking distance of a gym. So I joined it and I used it. I went to bed early, got up early and went to the gym to start the day. That was great!

Then I moved to San Antonio.

No longer within easy walking distance of a gym, and no longer in the military, which forced me to be at least a little bit in shape, my fitness fell to the wayside. I got fat.

Continue reading “My relationship with exercise”

Are you on the later-when-I-have-more-time fitness plan?

Nobody has any extra time these days.

We go from one job to the next, we work with volunteer organizations, we take college courses, we attend luncheons and birthday parties.

Oh, and if we have children — I really don’t know how people with kids do it — we have all the activities related to them.

Not only that, but all these cool electronic devices we have — you know, the ones that are designed to make us more efficient — have kept us so connected that we barely have time to finish one conversation before starting another.

Hell, last night I was carrying on three conversations at once — one via Facebook chat, one via Google chat, and one via text. And I just wanted to relax!

So, yeah, even our free time is taken up with activities that weren’t possible 15 years ago, and that leaves us with less free time than ever.

What can we do about fitness, then?  We know we should get into shape, but we promise ourselves we’ll do it later. You know, when the kids are grown and out of the house. When we can finally quit that second job. When our favorite tv shows go on summer hiatus.

We are busy. How can we possibly squeeze a workout into our daily routine? This is a dilemma.

I hear some people say, “Just get up earlier,” but these people are often the amateur coaches whose idea of a motivational speech is screaming “YOU GOT THIS!” Hey, come on, we can only get up so early. Trying to get into shape on only 4 hours of sleep every night is not going to work for the vast majority of us, and, anyway, there is evidence that lack of sleep makes us fatter.

We could work out shorter. After all, even a daily 10-minute workout can help improve our health.  But there are surely psychological barriers to this, because, really? 10 minutes? And while it might improve our health, it’s not going to improve it nearly as much as a longer workout, so we may just think, “Why bother?”

Ultimately, how to fit a workout into our busy day comes down to the applying the same method we use to fit other activities into our busy day: prioritization.

If we don’t fit exercise into our day, it’s simply because we don’t put enough priority on it. If we prioritized exercise higher than watching tv or going to a movie or working late — all of which may, indeed, deserve higher priority in your life — then we’d skip the tv, movie, and work, in order to get our workout in.

I remember my first post-superfat exercise program. It was walking. Simply walking. Not much of an exercise, to be sure, but at least it was something. I had a pedometer and tried to get 15,000 or 20,000 steps in every day. I have a sedentary job, so I had to devote a lot of time to walking. And I did! Most days I was walking for several hours.

The point is that I did have other things I wanted or needed to do, but I prioritized my walking. Hitting that goal number of steps was important to me, so spending the time to get it done was a priority.

That went on for quite some time, but, as you might expect, I didn’t see a lot of results from walking. And then I got busy at work. I could no longer walk for so many hours. I had to find a way to fit exercise into a shorter amount of time. That’s when I started P90X, which takes only about an hour a day, and that’s when my life changed.

Sure, you can be on a later-when-I-have-more-time fitness plan. But the fact is that for most people “later” never gets here. There will always be activities to fill our time.

So, if we don’t make time for fitness now,  give it the same priority we give to eating and sleeping, then it’s difficult to add it later, because our bodies deteriorate to the point where exercise is almost impossible.

I would encourage you to make “later” today, and start exercising now. Even if it’s just buying a pedometer and counting steps, you never know where those steps might lead you.

Is P90X2 better than P90X? (Part 2)

I’m going into my 10th week of P90X2. I’m in Phase 2.

“10 weeks?” you ask. “It’s a 90-day program. Shouldn’t you be in Phase 3, home stretch?”

Well, if I were doing P90X, which is a pretty strictly scheduled 90-day program, then, yeah, I’d be about done, but P90X2 is different. You see, there is a lot of balancing in X2 — standing on one leg, hands and feet on medicine and stability balls — and I really wanted to get a better handle on that stuff before I moved on, you know, build up my core.

Consequently, I spent 9 weeks in Phase 1, which included 3 recovery weeks that were just yoga and stretching. I put in a recovery week every third week, because I could.

The program allows for that. Phases 1 and 2 are, by the book, 3 to 6 weeks of workouts, and Phase 3 is 3 to 4 weeks. Up to you. Oh, and you can toss a recovery week in wherever you like. Or not. Up to you.

While Phase 1 was mostly about building the core, Phase 2 is working toward building overall strength. Plyocide and X2 Yoga are carried over from Phase 1, along with the Recovery & Mobility and X2 Ab Ripper routines, but now we are getting into training more targeted at the major muscle groups.

The schedule for Phase 2 is:

  • Chest, Back & Balance + X2 Ab Ripper
  • Plyocide
  • Rest or X2 Recovery & Mobility
  • X2 Shoulders & Arms + X2 Ab Ripper
  • X2 Yoga
  • Base & Back + X2 Ab Ripper
  • Rest or X2 Recovery & Mobility

There are other optional DVDs that can be swapped into some of the spots, but I did not buy them.

The workouts are still applying balancing techniques for added core strength, so there is a lot of on-one-leg stuff, particularly in the Shoulders & Arms routine, and plenty of work with medicine and stability balls.

At this point, unlike when I published my first impressions, I am prepared to say that, for me, P90x2 is better than P90X. Why do I say that? Simple — I feel stronger and more athletic during this program than I have during any other program I’ve tried, including P90X.

But, wait. Couldn’t that be because I’ve been building up over the past few years, so, really, this feeling of athleticism is a result of years of hard work toward a fitter me?

Okay, you got me, could be. But you can’t stop me from finishing this piece, so here’s the rest.

The techniques employed by P90X2 are much more unorthodox than those used in P90X, at least as far as weightlifting goes. Don’t get me wrong, P90X kicks ass, but the focus is more on simple resistance training. That will get you into shape, no doubt — it worked for me — but P90X2 goes beyond that, providing strength and balance training.

Have you tried doing curls while standing on one leg in a Warrior 3 stance? How about pushups with your hands on medicine balls and your feet on a stability ball? Let me tell you — it’s tough!

Is balance that important? Yes. Especially as we age, balance is so important, because falls can be much more destructive to our aging bodies.

I feel ready to tackle life with P90X2, because it seems to provide me with practical strength and balance that I need in my day-to-day activities. P90X made me feel “in shape”, but X2 makes me feel “ready for whatever life throws at me”.

I think a lot of the feeling of wellness I get is from the great core work. I really cannot describe how good my abs and lower back feel. Sure, I spent 9 weeks — 6 of them doing the actual P90X routines — in Phase 1, the Core phase. But it was worth it.

If you have not done either X or X2, it’s really up to you which one to select. Both are tough, but X2 may prove daunting for a newbie, because of all the balancing. If you are a seasoned athlete, though, and you want a challenging program to get you into better shape, either X or X2 will do that for you, but you may be ready to just jump into X2.

As Tony Horton says during X2 Shoulders & Arms: “Before we were working parts and getting fit. Now we’re connecting parts and getting athletic.”

Remember, no matter which you choose, there’s always a 30-day money back guarantee, so try one out. Don’t like it? Send it back. But do yourself a favor and try one of those programs. They truly are life changers.

Is P90X2 better than P90X? First impressions

I started P90X2 a few weeks ago, so I am still in Phase 1. So far, so great, so let me answer some common questions about the program.

  1. Does P90X2 replace P90X?
    NO! P90X is still for sale, because it is still a great workout program. It’s the workout program that saved my life, in fact, as I struggled with weight and fitness. P90X set me on the path to good nutrition and exercise.
  2. Is P90X2 harder than P90X?
    That’s a tricky one, and I am tempted to say yes, because P90X2 involves a lot of balancing. We work out a lot with a stability ball, for example, doing one-handed chest presses with my back balanced on the ball, pelvis up, feet on the floor. That requires a lot of extra balance and muscular coordination than doing a simple press from a bench. Also, pushup-to-one-arm-balance with hands on medicine balls is quite challenging…. Okay, screw it, YES, P90X2 is harder!
  3. Should I do P90X first, then do P90X2?
    Well, I just said P90X2 is harder, so you might think it makes more sense to do P90X first, but I don’t think it really matters much. Would you do better during X2 if you did The X first? Sure. And vice versa.
  4. Is the structure of P90X2 different than P90X?
    • It is a bit different, but not really too much. With P90X2 you only need to press play 5 days a week. You can either do the “Recovery & Mobility” workout or simply rest on Days 3 and 7.
    • X2 is not as rigid as The X is, with X’s 3-weeks-on-one-week-recovery formula. X2 is divided into 3 phases — Phase 1: Core, Phase 2: Strength, and Phase 3: Performance. You can make Phases 1 and 2 anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks, and Phase 3 should last 3 to 4 weeks. There is a Recovery Week that you can “do whenever you want”. You can do it between phases, in the middle of phases, or just skip it altogether. I wouldn’t recommend that, though. Just listen to your body.
    • If you did The X, you know we worked that “Ab Ripper” workout 3 days a week. In X2, it’s only that often during Phase 2. Ab Ripper is only 1 day during Phase 1 and it’s not in Phase 3 at all.
    • The workouts are still about an hour long, and Ab Ripper is still about 15 minutes. Yoga is about an hour (not 90 minutes as it was in P90X). Remember, I am only a week in, so  we’ll have to see about the later workouts.
    • Oh, also, if you buy anything but the basic package, you will get some additional workouts on DVD that you can substitute in to ease boredom and add muscle confusion.
  5. Do you need to be in shape to do X2? How is the Fit Test different from P90X’s Fit Test?
    The Fit Test for P90X2 is the same one as for P90X. However, I started P90X a few years ago without passing the pullups part of the Fit Test, and I know others who have started it without passing much of the Fit Test at all. Those people understood that they needed to take the exercise very slowly and eat right to build up to the point where they could do the workouts properly. If you take it easy and don’t hurt yourself, couch potatoes can start one of these programs, but a program like Power 90 might be the way to start, then go for one of the more advanced ones.
  6. Is there a vegan nutrition guide for P90X2?
    Yes, there is! X2 comes with several nutrition paths, including vegan.
  7. If I’ve done P90X, do I really need to do P90X2?
    If you are happy with P90X and the results you continue to get from it, then you can stick with it. But if you are looking for a new challenge — and aren’t we all? — you should definitely give P90X2 a try.

I really like P90X2 so far. I enjoy the difficulty of balancing on balls to do moves that previously seemed pretty easy. Better than P90X? You will think this is a cop out, but it’s true: They are both great, but different.

If you would like to order P90X2, please click any of the links on this page. If you have questions, contact me at for more information. Take control of your fitness!

Why Beachbody? Here’s my story.

Conversation about BeachbodyToday on Facebook I read a conversation about Beachbody. I took a screenshot and it’s the graphic you see with this post.

The tone of the conversation was not a bit sarcastic, but, although I love me some Beachbody, I cannot necessarily disagree with anything that was said.

  1. Beachbody’s business is in fact set up in the multi-level marketing model.
  2. It is indeed a full-time job if you want to be successful at it. And I am not — I’m really in it for the discount.
  3. I agree that it’s absurd to call the people trying to sell Beachbody products “coaches”. Makes sense from a marketing perspective, but, gauged on a coach by coach basis, it’s not necessarily accurate, because there’s no real “coach” training.
  4. Some people are probably puking on The Ultimate Reset. I know there are people who are feeling light-headed and asking on Facebook, “Is this normal?” To that I say, “What? You need to ask that?”
  5. Some people are also choking down meals and supplements they don’t like during The Ultimate Reset.
  6. People do believe hype, no doubt about that, and Beachbody is very good at creating hype.
  7. There are certainly people who are maybe not actively brainwashed, but are under Beachbody’s spell, let’s say.

I believe I might fall into the category of people who are under Beachbody’s spell, but there’s a good reason for that.

Beachbody gave me a new lease on life.

I was struggling. I’d lost a lot of weight with calorie restriction and I got off my meds, but the pounds were slowly sneaking back on. I was walking a lot, and I mean a lot, shooting for 15,000 steps per day, often hitting 20,000 and sometimes even 30,000. I was doing pushups and crunches.

But I wasn’t eating right, and, really, I wasn’t exercising right.

My brother had told me about P90X, a Beachbody product, but I didn’t believe the hype, or, at least, I didn’t think it’d work for me, even though I knew it had worked for him. Finally, after a few months, in a last ditch effort to get into shape, I asked him to get it for me.

As it turned out, P90x was just the jumpstart I needed.

And it wasn’t necessarily the exercise part of the program that did it for me. Sure, that was important, and I am still in the exercise habit two and a half years later, but P90X really got me on the road to good nutrition. That road hasn’t ended for me yet — I’m still searching — but P90X is what instilled in me the desire to search.

Because, you see, P90X is not just an excellent exercise program, but it also comes with a complete nutrition plan, and, as I now know, 80% of our body composition is dependent on what and how we eat. As they say, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet,” so it all starts with what we eat.

I didn’t know. I should have known, but I didn’t.

I don’t knock the guys engaged in the Facebook conversation. Not one bit. One of them is actually a world-class body builder and a very nice guy — the other one I don’t know. And, really, I could have easily been part of that thread, had I chosen some other path to fitness. That’s because it’s easy to get into a trap of thinking everyone knows and understands something that we ourselves think we know and understand. I fall into that trap fairly often.

I mean, it’s obvious to me that when I see someone eating a donut, that he is consuming primarily simple carbs and a good amount of fat, and that it would take an hour-long run to burn off the calories of that one cream-filled Krispy Kreme. It seems to me that if I know that, then everyone should know that, right? Not even close.

Not that it’s a difficult concept. People just need to be exposed to the information and maybe that will be the key to change for them.

And that’s where Beachbody products come in. They helped expand my understanding and increased my desire to learn about diet and fitness. P90X was the key to change for me.

I do not use Beachbody products exclusively. In fact, all this year I have been all about yoga, which Beachbody has not yet fully embraced. (I’m betting there’s something in the works, and I’ll be one of the first to check it out when it hits the streets.) But you know something else? I started yoga because of Beachbody. Without Beachbody’s P90X, I probably never would have tried yoga. I’d bought yoga books and DVDs before, but P90X creator Tony Horton was the one who opened my eyes and body to yoga with his Yoga X and then his two One-on-One yoga DVDs.

So, anyway, yeah, if at times I seem a bit evangelical or “on my high horse” about Beachbody, it’s because I truly believe these products may be able to help you the way they’ve helped me. They are not perfect by any means, but they — at least the ones I’ve used — are well-thought out and very helpful.

That’s why when The Ultimate Reset hit, I bought it almost right away, because, as I said above, I’m still searching. While my body is in much better shape now than it was 5 years ago, I do not feel 100% most of the time, and I attribute that mostly to my diet. I thought The Ultimate Reset would give me a good little tweak and get me on a different path, because I am currently stuck.

After all, The Ultimate Reset is not one of those quickie 3- or 5-day cleanses that hits you with laxatives and calls itself successful. It’s not a crazy cabbage-soup or all-rice diet. This is a 21-day program that attempts to cleanse and rebalance the chemistry of our bodies, while also introducing us to a new way of cooking and eating,

And for me, anyway, it’s working.

I had been in a pretty hardline low-carb rut, and that has worked well for me for a couple years — it got me off the sugar for good! — but, as I said, I don’t usually feel 100%, so I think it’s time to change things up.

The Ultimate Reset has moved me into vegan territory. I won’t go that far with my diet — I think it’s too difficult to get the enough protein for an active person who is trying to build muscle — but I may end up in the vegetarian ranks, with some fish, whey protein, and eggs added, because I need good animal protein sources.

We’ll see. [UPDATE: After learning more about protein in plants, I did, indeed, go completely plant-based for about 9 months. After that, I added eggs — because my body seemed to be asking for them — and I’ve been an ovo-vegetarian, consuming only plants and eggs, ever since.]

So, yeah, I paid $200+ for The Ultimate Reset from Beachbody. And, yeah, it’s definitely been a bit hyped. And, yeah, I thought it’d be a cool extreme thing to put my body through.

And, yeah, I only bought it because it’s from Beachbody. But you know what? I haven’t been burned by Beachbody yet, so it’s all good.