Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Week 3 Begins

And here's what I don't understand -- how can I be burning less calories?  I'm doing more reps, getting better at the exercises, and yet, each week, the number of calories I burn is decreasing.  For instance, two weeks ago, I burned 727 calories doing X2 Core, last week is was 607, and this week it's 523.  John says I should stop worrying because I'm burning a fair number of calories in each workout, but I just don't get it.

I also recognize that my average heart rate during these exercises is also decreasing -- from 147, to 134, to 126.  Could these be related? ;)

Maybe it's a combination of things -- losing weight, becoming familiar with the exercises, becoming more efficient in doing the exercises.  What do you think?

In the end, it's not the calories burned, it's how I see them.  I have this desire to burn MORE calories with each workout, and in order to do that, I have to do more reps, and do them better each time.  So, the goal changes a little depending on the perspective.

Calories Burned = 523
Average Heart Rate = 126
Peak Heart Rate = 175

P.S. There's a new page called "Lessons" (do you see it up there at the top?) where I'm noting the things I am already considering doing differently the next time I do this workout.  It's nice to think about the next time... although at 3 weeks in, perhaps this is still the honeymoon phase. ;)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

TinkerBell Half Marathon

Kari & Kenna after the TinkerBell Half Marathon 2012
Today I finished my 7th half marathon at the Inaugural TinkerBell Half Marathon!  I got to run with my very good friend, the Amazing Kari Lev.  How much training did I do to complete this race?  In early December, John and I completed the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Half Marathon, and I had run a few miles here and there throughout December.  But since 2012, I've not run one mile.

Kari and I walked the last 6 miles.  We talked, laughed, and enjoyed the process.  It was never about the time for this race -- it was about doing an ALL-NEW race themed with a character I absolutely adore, with a true, loyal, and beautiful friend.  PLUS, I looked great when we were done -- as evidenced by the above picture. ;)    

I actually felt really great throughout the race -- sore, but not tired.  P90X2 must be doing something!

After the race, I decided that I could eat some Pop Chips without counting it as a cheat -- I mean, 2220 calories?!  I could have eaten ANYTHING!

Calories Burned = 2220
Average Heart Rate = 145
Peak Heart Rate = 179 

Friday, January 27, 2012


I needed more than 15 hours between workouts.  Yesterday evening, I did X2 Total Body + Ab Ripper -- an hour and 20 minutes of hard work.  Then, this morning, I did X2 Yoga.  It was not one of my better yoga days.

It's the little things, like not being able to do 5 yoga push-ups at the beginning of the session, not being able to hold Warrior 1 or 2 for very long, that tell me I needed more rest time.

Total Body & Ab Ripper 
Calories Burned = 751
Average Heart Rate = 122
Peak Heart Rate = 166

Calories Burned = 469
Average Heart Rate = 111
Peak Heart Rate = 159

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Word (or More) About the Nutrition Plan

For those that don't know, the P90X2's nutrition plan is different from the original.  Rather than telling you exactly what to eat for each meal, there are daily guidelines based on your calorie level and the phase you are in. This means you get to customize the plan to suit your specific needs.  Sounds easy, right?

Don't get me wrong -- it's great if you want to eat vegan or grain-free menus without having to work too hard to modify the recipes to suit your needs.  It's not as great if you are like me and you just want someone to tell you what to do.  Sometimes, I want to scream, "Just tell me how to eat healthy, Tony Horton!  I'll do whatever you say!"

Thankfully, we got the kit a few weeks before we started.  Plus, I found a copy of the P90X nutrition plan on-line.  Still, it took me a few weeks to figure out the nutrition plan.  And I'm still figuring it out.  One thing I decided to do from the beginning is to divide the week into 2 sections -- I can't eat the same thing every day, but it seemed silly to eat something different every day.  So we have Day A which we eat for 4 days and Day B which we eat for 3 days.  It seems to be working out so far.    

Last week, our breakfasts consisted of omelets and scrambles.  John doesn't like eggs.  But, he powered through and made the best of it.  This week, breakfasts are soy sausage muffins and breakfast muffins -- I'm enjoying both better.  Meat and cheese in the morning -- yum!  We are also experimenting with grapefruits.  John asked, "Do we need to buy some grapefruit spoons?" to which I replied, "How hard can it be?"  Oh, it's hard all right.  Have you tried to eat a grapefruit with a fork or spoon?  It's not as easy as it looks. Plus, one morning John had to prepare his own grapefruit, and promptly cut it the wrong way.  Oops.

We're eating a salad nearly every day.  This week, I mixed it up with a soup instead.  Plus salmon and chicken.  Sweet potatoes, broccoli, and black beans.  It's not that different from what we were eating before, which is nice.

We're drinking a lot more milk -- 8 ounces a day at least.  It turns out I like milk.

We also get snacks in the P90X2 nutrition plan!  Rice cakes, peanut butter and celery, cottage cheese (for John, I wouldn't touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole).  There are lots of other options for snacks, we just haven't tried them yet. 

And, to round it all out -- protein bars and recovery formula. Thank goodness for those protein bars -- they are giving me a little bit of sweetness, without which I would probably have poked my own eye by now.  I am in love with Promax Nutty Chocolate & Cookies n Cream, as well as Balance Bar Cookie Dough.  The BeachBody protein bars are also delicious (we got to taste some thanks to our friend, Jess), but we just haven't bought them yet.  I am not using the BeachBody Recovery Formula, partly because we had some Muscle Milk Light.  It's not as many calories, but it was free.  In the future, I'll probably switch over the protein powder John uses, but I have to drink it with milk instead of water.  I'm holding out until I absolutely have to. 

I'm eating 1800 calories (give or take) every day.  Since we are cooking a lot more, we're buying so much food!  Our refrigerator looks like real adults live in our apartment!  It's a little bit of sticker shock --  we are spending more than we were before.  I didn't realize how much it takes to make all this food.

On the plus side, I have a ton of energy.  I'm able to get up at 6:00 AM with relative ease to cook breakfast, and have consistent energy all through the day.  However, don't think that I am staying up late. In fact, before I started this process, I was notorious for falling asleep on the couch at 9:00 PM.  Some things aren't changing.

I'll put more detail on another page so you can get a sense of what it all looks like. :)

Keep reading... and happy eating!

By the Numbers

Scale numbers can be deceiving and frustrating.  A strange eating day the day before a weigh-in can make me feel like I'm off track.  I've read all sorts of articles and blogs about how to deal with your weight -- mostly around how to see it differently.  John constantly reminds me that if I am gaining muscle from working out, I might not lose weight, and that I need to look at more numbers than just the weight number to understand what's going on.

This is why one of my goals is about body fat percentage, rather than about weight loss.

Every Thursday is weigh-in day.  Sometimes I check my weight through the week, just to have a sense of what's going on, but I only write it down on Thursday.  And if I am somewhere that I can't weigh in on my scale at home -- at Leadership Academy, in Hawaii, at my parents' house -- then I don't weigh in and I don't worry about.

Today is Thursday, which I was approaching with a mixture of dread and excitement.  This week has been a little odd in terms of the nutrition because of two lunches out and not feeling I nailed this week right in terms of food distributions.  But, still, it's 5:50 AM and I stepped on the scale.

I gained a pound.  BUT, my body fat weight went up only by 0.1 pound.  My body fat percentage decreased by 1.1%.  My body water was up 0.1%.  Interesting.  So after another week of P90X2, I have gained some muscle (hard to tell how much really, since my body water also increased).  (We have a Weight Watchers Scale from Target that shows all these numbers -- it was one of the best investments! )

So John was right.  And besides that, I feel excellent, which is more than just a nice bonus.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Plyocide: Death by Jumping

When I do P90X2 Plyocide, I feel like I might die.

5 sets, 4 exercises each, 1st exercise is NOT a plyometric exercise (but don't read that it's easy).  I am pretty sure my heart rate peaks in every set.

Calories Burned = 655
Average Heart Rate = 144
Peak Heart Rate = 181

Monday, January 23, 2012

X2 Core: Round Two

Maybe it's that I have seen these exercises before, maybe it's that it's the beginning of the second week of P90X2, maybe I just needed to exercise.  Whatever the reason, I improved in several exercises today.  Of the 17 exercises, I improved by at least one rep in  12 exercises!  And in one exercise, the Med Ball Dreya Roll, I surprised even myself by doing 11 rolls with an 8 pound medicine ball when last week I could do 1.

Well, since no one else could actually see me doing the exercise, I guess I couldn't expect anyone else to be surprised.  Perhaps one of the cats was thinking, "Wow, great job on that!  You really figured out that exercise and showed Tony Horton you do have some core strength!"  However, she kept it to herself.

 This Med Ball Dreya Roll situation is a perfect example of the importance of seeing the videos before just attempting to do them.  That, and actually listen to Tony's instruction to "keep your core engaged."  Details, details.

The one I'm still not sure about is the 3 Speed Med Ball Push Up.  First, Tony tells you it's not "really" a push-up after the exercise is over.  Well then what the heck is it?  Second, I can't get the hang of moving my hands in and out.  Maybe I am worried about crashing on to my nose?  Or maybe it's just a really hard exercise and I need more practice.  Hmm.... there might be something to that.

I'm going to be writing about the nutrition plan this week...so be on the look out for that.

Calories Burned = 607
Average Heart Rate = 134
Peak Heart Rate = 179

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I should have better defined what "cheating" meant before I started; perhaps then John wouldn't be subjected to a barrage of questions as I ate bread and olive oil or homemade mini chocolate cupcakes last night at Will & Colin's house.  Thankfully, Will made this delicious lentil soup, so I felt good about the main course.

Why didn't I bring a sensible tasty dessert -- something with fruit in it perhaps?  Instead, I looked for a recipe with chocolate in it.  Enter Low Fat Mini Chocolate Cupcakes.  I had two, at 74 calories each.  Is this a cheat?  Maybe half a cheat?  Well, add the slice and a half of french bread, and call it a cheat.

I guess I did define the cheats early on as diet oriented.  A fitness cheat would be not doing all the exercises I'm supposed to do in a week.

On the plus side, I did the Balance & Power Workout today -- LOTS of room for improvement, especially related to my push-ups, plyo push-ups, and not collapsing into my hips when standing on one leg (surprisingly, there's a lot of one-leg movements in Balance & Power...coincidence?).  My hips are the least flexible part of my whole body, the most tight when stretching, the most in need of work.

Calories Burned = 777
Average Heart Rate = 142
Peak Heart Rate = 178

Friday, January 20, 2012


I've heard that the P90X yoga workout was the hardest one.  I was expecting some of the hardest yoga moves I've ever seen.  I was expecting to modify a lot and have to do my typical pause and rewind.

All those years of semi-regular yoga practice actually helped.  Sun Salutation, Chair Pose, Warriors 1, 2, and 3, Half Moon... okay, I'm still working on Warrior 3 and Half Moon.  Those one-legged balance poses kill my hips.  But then I love the pain of Runner's Lunge and Pigeon.

Over the past few years I've been working on Crane -- another balance pose in which you put your knees on the outsides of your triceps and balance on your hands with your feet off the floor.  I can do it for maybe 2 seconds at a time.  It's an adrenaline rush to get those seconds.  

One of my favorite exercises, even though it is super hard, is a Warrior 1 flow sequence in which you do 1, 2, and 3 Warrior 1 poses on each side with a vinyasa (Cobra, Up Dog, Down Dog) in between.  So, you do 1 Warrior 1 pose one each side, then a vinyasa, then 2 Warrior 1 poses on each side, then a vinyasa, then 3 Warrior 1 poses on each side, then a vinyasa.  OH MY GOSH.  That's pretty much when my heart rate peaked.

Perhaps the best part about the workout are the Warrior 2 Lunges, in which you stay in the Warrior 2 position while you lower your front hand to the ground and lower your body... 5 times on each side.  SO HARD.  But, amazing.

Then, the shortest Shavansana on record, and Tony Horton talks practically the whole time.  BUT, I sat up, had my one "om" and opened my eyes to this cute face.

Namaste, Falkor, Namaste.  

Calories Burned = 455
Average Heart Rate = 109
Peak Heart Rate = 157

I wish I had watched the videos in advance of ACTUALLY doing them

Today I attempted X2 Total Body & Ab Ripper.  Thank goodness this is a DVD; I can pause, rewind, and start again.  I mean, how do you do a mule kick burpee?  Or a crunchy lever pull-up?  I wish that I had taken time in the weeks before I started this process to watch the videos from the couch.  It would have helped orient me better to the timing and to the exercises (and especially the modifications!).

Luckily, John wasn't paying enough attention to photograph or record the relative debacle that was this workout.   Don't get me wrong, I did as much as I could, modified where necessary, and I'm pretty sure that next time I do this, I'll be better.

The major modification I made was using the bosu ball instead of a stability ball or medicine balls.  Some day, I want to be able to do a plyo push-up (in which you push your hands off the ground at the top of the push-up) or push-ups with my hands on medicine balls, I'm just not there.  So I did them on the bosu, which provided some of the instability (and extra balance work), but wasn't quite as intense.

As for the Ab Ripper, the moment I saw that it was only 16 minutes long, I said to John, "This is going to be the hardest ab workout I've ever done."  Not far off.  There's an exercise called Superman Banana X in which you have to hold your appendages off the ground and roll from your stomach to your back (ideally without using your hands or feet).  I rolled around on the floor, managed to do it partly right, and feel a tiny bit of what it's supposed to feel like, and I realized, as I giggled at the ridiculousness of it, that I have so much core work to do.

Calories burned = 768
Average heart rate = 125

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In the beginning...

I'm not out of shape by any means -- I lift weights, run half and full marathons (as well as run around the neighborhood with Falkor, the dog), take yoga and spin classes, hike occasionally... you get the idea.  But, I was unsatisfied with my results.  I would go a few weeks or months eating right and exercising, but then one crazy weekend and my nutrition was out the window ("Yes, I will have those french fries," "That beer sounds delicious").  Plus, I was getting bored at the gym lifting weights.  I always had a goal to do a particular workout routine for 12 weeks, but I would stop after 8 or 9 weeks.  There's only so many bicep curls a woman can do before she wants to throw the weight at the gym mirror.

I needed a change -- in exercise and nutrition.  Although I love to cook, it wasn't a high priority between PhD classes, dissertation writing and researching, hanging out with John (my fantastic and fun husband), seeing friends, working out, etc.  I cooked well for guests.  I did the bare minimum for me. 

So, our friend, Jess, works for BeachBody and told us that a new P90X was coming out.  We pre-ordered it as a joint Christmas present.  We cancelled our gym membership.  I figured I'd do the program with all the nutrition and the workouts as they were intended.  I've decided to give up sweets, alcohol, and caffeine -- ALL AT ONCE (Good idea or not?  Time will tell).

Knowing me, and knowing that life is sometimes unpredictable, I gave myself 5 cheats.  If something comes up, and I have to/need to/want to cheat, so be it... but only 5 times (I mean, really, sometimes you can't say no to that chocolate chip cookie or exquisite glass of Pinot Noir).   It means I have to choose wisely.

I have the following goals for this program
  1. Follow nutrition plan as described in the P90X2 materials (minus the 5 cheats)
  2. Be able to do 1 pull-up by the end of the program 
  3. Get a 4 pack before summer 2012 
  4. Reduce my body fat to 20%
All that said, and in the spirit of full disclosure, here are some of my before photos (taken 1/12/12).

There I am, in a sports bra.  

See, not totally out of shape, but goodness, I'd like to be firmer! 

And here are my stats from 1/12/12:
Weight: 134.1
Body Fat Percentage: 24.1
BMI: 21.8
Chest: 34"
Bicep: (r) 10.75", (l) 10.5"
Waist: 27"
Hips: 35"
Thigh: (r) 22.5, (l) 22.75

Here we go.

The Fit Test

Part of the P90X2 is the Fit Test -- in which you do some exercises to find out if you are physically ready to do the workouts.  This is where I found out that the "assisted pull-ups" I'd been doing at the gym were worthless to prepare me for actual pull-ups.  Luckily, there's a disclaimer that says you don't HAVE to be able to pull-ups, just that you'll get more out of the workouts if you can.

Besides the lack of pull-ups, I managed the fit test pretty well:

Vertical Leap: 11.5" [this was the hardest one to measure because we had to go outside of the apartment, in the dark]
Push-ups: 8 "regular"
Toe Touch/Flexibility: +5" past my toes
Wall Squat: 1 min. 32 secs.
Bicep Curls: 30 with 10-12 lbs resistance band
In & Outs: 30
Jumping Jacks for 2 mins & Still Able to Breathe: Yes

I'm as ready as I'll ever be to start this thing.