24 August 2014

Some random thoughts on P90X

I'm well aware that it's beyond time to get in shape.  This year I have hit some fitness milestones that are, shall we say, not the kind of PRs I want to achieve.  Ever since I ran a full marathon in 2011, I have struggled greatly with gaining weight very quickly.  Almost nothing I do is easier than gaining weight (except maybe sleeping and breathing - I'm pretty good at those).  What accompanies weight gain is a decrease in strength.  You'd think, "oh, he must have strong legs, carrying all that extra weight around."  You'd be wrong.  My sedentary job coupled with my sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition combined to puff me up to about 262lbs, an all-time high.  I knew I needed to make a change, and I'm happy to report that I just completed my first step in that direction: P90X.
 That's not me in the photo.

So am I ripped?  Am I, as Tony Horton assures in the videos, in the best shape of my life?  

No, but I don't blame Tony or P90X.  I blame me.  Losing weight has more to do with diet than with anything else, even exercise.  That is where I failed; I didn't drastically change the way I ate.  I didn't even come close to following the nutrition guide.  I did get a little better with many of the food choices I make, and it did help.  I lost 10lbs.  I worked really hard.  I "brought it" every day, and I definitely saw some results.  For example, standard push ups: the first workout, I could only do 15 pushups on my knees.  By the end, I was doing 20 real push ups.  Last night, at the end of my final workout (Core Synergistics), I did 20 push ups (Core Syn has 5 different types of push ups in the workout, so this was my 6th set of push ups).  

So, some random Q&A:
Why P90X?  No real reason.  I have tried some other Beachbody products, and liked them enough.  Also, whether through word of mouth and informercials, I have heard that this was challenging and builds muscle.  Finally, because it was cheap: I found my copy on craigslist for $20.

How hard was it? Depends on how good of shape you're in when you start.  For me, I was tragically out of shape, so I feel that by the end I was finally in good enough to start P90X!  This is probably why many people will do multiple rounds of P90X.  I need to take a break from this program; the thought of doing it all over again for another 90 days is slightly dreadful.  I'm ready for a change.

The workouts are very demanding, usually lasting 45 minutes for the resistance workouts and up to 90 minutes for Yoga X (my least favorite workout of all time).  Here's a sample of the program:

Weeks 1-3
Day 1 - Chest and back (lots of different kinds of push ups and pull ups).
Day 2 - Plyometrics (very difficult for me; I never could do every rep of every exercise).
You do all these exercise for 30 seconds...twice.

Day 3 - Shoulders and Arms (lots of curls, presses, and extensions)
Day 4 - Yoga X
Day 5 - Legs and Back (lunges, calf raises, etc.)
Day 6 - Kenpo X (kickboxing, much more fun and a better workout with my Torso Bob)
Day 7 - Rest or X Stretch

What are you going to do next? Insanity (this time I'm borrowing it from a friend for FREE!)

Would you recommend this to others? Yes, if you are looking to build muscle/strength, or if you need the structure and "just show up and do what Tony says" ease.  It worked for me because I didn't know what to do, and I would take too much time on breaks and between sets, thus sabotaging the success of the workouts.  The variety of moves pushed me and made me try new things, difficult things, but things that produced results.

P90X was the first step down a long road to health and fitness.  The best thing I can do for myself is to clean up my diet and keep exercising.  I'm taking two weeks off in between P90X and Insanity to give my body time to rest and recover.  I'll take my final fitness test next Saturday, and I'll post the results here.

19 May 2014


[NOTE: This was found in my Drafts folder from last August.  I'm publishing it now but it refers to the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School)

I've been thinking a lot since last Friday's terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I have also been reading about great acts of heroism and bravery shown by teachers and staff at the school, whereby dozens of children were saved by teachers willing to put themselves in between their precious students and a killer.  As a Christian, it's difficult to wrestle with the questions that inevitably come in the aftermath of tragedy, especially this kind of tragedy, when innocent, defenseless children were cornered and murdered in such a frightening way.  Along with millions of others, I pray for the families of the victims.

With the questions comes finger pointing and politicking.  It's complicated as a Christian to balance practical matters (protecting your family from home invaders, for example) with the teachings of Scripture ("love your enemies" and "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'  But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well."*).  It's tragedies like this that make anyone revisit the difficult questions that have haunted countless Christians through the ages.

I am disturbed when people try to offer up simplistic (and often unintentionally hurtful) answers like, "God just wanted those precious children in Heaven sooner than we thought" or "there's a reason for everything."  Sometimes, in this world God created, people make terrible choices and the rest of humanity suffers the consequences.  God didn't cause Sandy Hook just so he could have those children in Heaven; that's a disgusting thought (and theologically stupid: God is omnipresent - those children are already in his presence on earth).

What I have to remember in moments like this is that God has the final word on history.  Scripture is clear that God will punish those who disobey him and those who harm children.  Criticizing God for not "doing something" about Sandy Hook is like criticizing J.K. Rowling for not resolving the Harry Potter series in The Prisoner of Azkaban.  It's not over yet, and God doesn't forget anything.  We shouldn't attach conditions on our belief in or love for God that say "God must resolve every tension, every mystery, every tragedy, immediately, visibly, and obviously before I will believe in/love Him."  Faith waits in frustrated assurance that God will not forget and will deal justly with all.**

* = I did not put "you shall not kill" in this example because that's not a proper translation of Exodus 20:13.  If the commandment was meant to prevent all killing, then God probably shouldn't have commanded the Israelites to kill, as he did on several occasions (Joshua 10:40, for example).  This commandment is against murder, premeditated killing of another human.

** = the truth is, we don't really want God to deal justly with all, at least not me, because that means we all go to Hell.  Thank God that through Jesus, he treats me the opposite of what I deserve!  Thank God his love is not fair!

16 February 2014

Is "bigot" the new "sinner"?

It seems that, at one point in history, you could tell someone that they were doing something wrong and they'd either agree, try to justify their behavior, or would apologize and quit doing it.  It seems that, anymore, you can't tell someone that they're doing something wrong.

For example: if you say that sex outside of marriage is wrong, then prepare to be called a prude, archaic, outdated, judgmental, and so on.  Now if you say that homosexual sex is wrong, then dear Lord are you going to be labeled: homophobe, bigot, intolerant, hateful, Nazi, KKK, and many other awesomely negative things. 

The irony here is that those who disagree with me (when I say that homosexual sex is wrong) are often the ones to escalate the hateful rhetoric.  I'm just saying what the Bible says pretty clearly.  It doesn't mean I hate gays; just because hetero sex outside of marriage is wrong doesn't mean I hate those people either.  They all need Jesus.  This makes me a hateful bigot, so they say. 

Does anyone else here see the irony, the hypocrisy behind saying, "you can't label people, you label-label, labeled, label label LABEL!"  I call someone a sinner (we are all sinners, by the way).  They call me a bigot.  I believe that "bigot" is the equivalent of "sinner" for the nonreligious. 

How does this advance the discussion?  How does this make them tolerant, open-minded, and accepting of all?  Because it's not tolerant (b/c they don't really want opposing views to exist), it's not open-minded (b/c they're not really interested in hearing the other side), and it's not accepting of all (b/c anyone who disagrees with them is evil, even though there really is no right and wrong, so they say).  This seems to be where decades of debate has led: if a gay person disagrees with me, I can respect that.  If I disagree with a gay person, I'm a hate-filled bigot.  Our society doesn't let you say anything is "wrong" anymore, except for saying that it's wrong to say that something is wrong.