Yep, it’s straight out of an infomercial

P90X: an intense, yet very popular, program in which for 90 days, you do at least one full hour every single day of hardcore fitness.

Am I crazy? Maybe. Terrified? Yes.

Why am I doing this?

Good question. I don’t really like working hard. When it comes to exercise anyway. So what the heck am I doing this for? Why am I suddenly deciding to leap from my Laz-E-Boy and choose the most intense program I can get my hands on?

I don’t know. I guess that’s just how I am. I can be impulsive. I heard about P90X, and decided I must do it. Well, I haven’t started it yet, so my eyes might be bigger than my discipline. We’ll see.

The Spark of Inspiration…

Let’s go back to the beginning though. It all starts with a little spark of inspiration, doesn’t it. Today’s inspiration comes from the lovely Amber Rodgers over at her blog gokaleo.com.

I discovered her blog a few months ago. Her whole shtick is about eating real, nutrient dense food but she HATES diets and diet dogma. And her other shtick is working out. Like weight lifting and strength training type of exercise. Oh yeah, I guess she has another shtick too, which is eating enough food and calories to fuel a healthy metabolism, which in turn fuels a healthy, disease free body, and lots of energy.

So her story is that she used to be fat and riddled with acne and had low energy and joint pain and PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome).

She too hated difficult exercise. But after trying everything to rid herself of her issues, she finally decided she better give it a shot. And POOF, everything disappeared. The fat, the acne, the PCOS, the joint pain, and the low energy. Gone. 

Now, in my case… life ain’t so bad anymore. I don’t have a lot of health problems or anything. Acne was the bain of my existence, but my skin has been pretty dang awesome lately. However, I have always struggled with feeling less energetic than I would like, and that feeling has never gone away no matter how many health forays I have gone down. I just deep down inside KNOW that in general I could feel better and more energized. And that I could definitely be more fit…. and maybe that the two are related….

I thought back to the most athletically fit I’ve ever been in my life. And that was in middle school when we took a full hour of physical education 3 times a week all year. Well, I guess I was a kid too, which probably helped. But dang I felt good. I had energy. Sometimes I’d sneak out of my house in the middle of the night and run down the road just to get rid of it. Weird, I know, but that’s what I did.

In high school, we only had PE for half the year, which meant I had the whole 7 other months of the year to get unfit, and never really gained the fitness back when school started again. And after high school, fitness was never a top priority for me since I have always been naturally too thin. Thus, I have never been as energetic and fit and felt as good as I did in middle school.

So, she had me interested. I was definitely intrigued.

I Am Not As Active As I Think…

I mean, if I sat down and was honest with myself, in the past I have agonized over getting the perfect diet and tried so many different ones….. and no matter how hard I tried and how strict I tried to be, it never made a lick of difference to my energy. I have tried every diet, but something that I have never ever done is stayed continuously committed to a physically intense fitness program that included a lot of strength training.

Sure, I do stuff. I walk a bit. I hike a bit. I bike ride a bit. I jump rope a bit. I do a half hour of light yoga sometimes. Occasionally I’ll pick up some weights and do a few bicep curls.

But if truth be told, fitness is not my passion, and I do sit a lot of the day. I have a computer job, after all. And truthfully, I don’t like to work too hard during my exercise. Cuz, well, it’s hard. Wah.

That’s probably why on The Love Vitamin the blog articles about food outnumber anything about fitness about 20 to 1. I’ll change my diet any day before choosing to “feel the burn” on a regular basis. Diet seems easy to me in comparison.

Long story short, I want to challenge myself to get really fit and feel as good as I can, but I still don’t know why I decided to jump into the most hardcore program I could find. I guess it just sounded good for me – it’s a clearly set out program, I know what to do each day, and I can do it at home.

Another reason I want to do it is because I actually like that it’s every day. This is because I want it to get me in the habit of making the time to workout. That’s one of the biggest problems is that if you aren’t in the habit of exercise, it’s so easy to find other things to fill your time with unless you force yourself to make exercise a priority.

However, I’m kind of nervous to even tell you about my ambitions lest the next thing I know, I’m running squealing with my tail between my legs as far away from P90X as I can. I haven’t actually started it, you see.

Tell Me More About This Crazy Fitness Program, Tracy

  • It includes 12 different workouts, all about an hour long. It includes alternating days of strength training and cardio workouts with one day a week of rest or stretching. The workouts include things like back & chest workouts, legs & back workouts, arm & shoulder workouts, yoga, kenpo, plyometrics, core synergistic and some other stuff. Yeah I didn’t even know what half of those things were.
  • Their whole thing is something called “muscle confusion” where they deliberately mix up your routine so much that your muscles never get too comfortable, and therefore you don’t plateau. And so you get fit fast. Apparently. That could be marketing crap, so we’ll see.
  • The program comes with a whole nutrition plan. They do say 80% of your results will be from what you eat, and I agree with that. I’m not going to be following their plan though, as it’s a politically correct low fat diet which encourages a low carb phase in the beginning, and I’m not into restricting macronutrients. I don’t think low fat is healthy. I don’t really think low carb is that healthy particularly if exercising hard. I’m just going to continue to eat my own diet, which is eating real foods plain and simple while skipping the junk. Oh – also, just to note here, I also plan to eat a high amount of calories. With exercise like this, you need to eat lot of calories (yes, even if you are initially trying to lose fat) just to fuel your workout, gain some muscle, and keep your metabolism and hormones healthy.
  • The program encourages you to take supplements (their supplements, of course), you know, like protein powders and stuff. I am not going to be taking these. I have a bit of my own organic pumpkin protein powder which I will use a little bit of in my smoothies, but that’s it.
  • It’s a home workout, so you can do it all at home with some basic equipment… a set of various dumbbells (or some exercise bands), a yoga mat, and a door mounted pull up bar. There’s some other stuff they promote, but those are the basics that you need, and this is all I’m using.
  • Unfortunately the program does cost a fair bit… about $140. Truthfully though, people are more committed to things in which they have invested money into. So…. uhh… yeah. I certainly don’t want to waste my moola so I will be at least giving it my best shot. If you want to buy it but want to save some money, you can probably get it second hand on Ebay, and Amazon too (although there’s the risk of getting dodgy DVD’s that don’t play). An excellent free alternative to a program like P90X is the website bodyrock.tv which posts a short and intense workout every day and will get you in great shape.

Soooo… yeah! I’m scared but I am excited. I am aware that the people in the DVDs have been working out for years, and that in the beginning of the program, most people can’t even do half the workouts, and have to keep hitting pause. It’s not really expected in the beginning to be able to keep up (you have to put in the hard yards before you can be in a fitness DVD, after all :p), and the instructors in the videos constantly remind you of that, which is nice. You don’t have to match them right way – very week you just keep getting stronger and beating your performance the week before.

And while I am not really doing this for the main purpose of improving my physique, I certainly wouldn’t mind if I gained a bit of womanly muscles to fill out my thin frame, and ditched the little belly I have. Yes, I will admit to being a bit “skinny-fat”, particularly around the midsection. It doesn’t hurt to browse the “P90X before and after photos” for some inspiration.

In fact, my work-out hating boyfriend was completely not interested until he oversaw me showing my friend those photos. Now he’s doing the program with me, and I couldn’t be happier about that. And I don’t just mean about his future washboard abs :p … it’s mostly so we can motivate each other to keep getting out of bed every day and “pressing play” (as the slightly annoying P90X instructor, Tony Horton, likes to say).

Is P90X For You?

If you’re not much into exercise and you’re freaking out right now because you think I am telling you you have to do some extreme 7 day a week fitness program in order to clear your skin … that’s not what I’m saying.

In order to have acne free skin in order to support good health, I just suggest doing something active every day. Even if it’s just walking. You don’t have to do P90X. P90X is like a challenge program to whip you into incredible shape and it’s not meant to be something you do permanently. After it’s done I just plan to maintain it by strength training maybe three or four times a week (probably for a lot shorter than an hour) and walk or do yoga, somewhat similar to what I do now except maybe ramped up a little, and done more regularly.

I am basically doing this because I want to see if I can be motivated enough to get incredibly fit, make exercise a habit, and feel as energized as possible (like I did in middle school!). If you’re also interested in that, then sure. Join me! Do P90X!

To their credit, they do warn you that since this program is quite advanced, it’s a program for somewhat fit people to get even fitter. It’s not really that great for total beginners (like if you have to call the paramedics after doing 10 minutes of intense cardio). So they give you a fitness test to do to see if you can meet the minimum requirements. I made a video of me doing the fitness test. Watch it, it’s a fun video:

Here’s the summary of the fitness test:

  • Pull-Ups — Do as many pull ups as you can until muscle failure. They suggest you should be able to do at least 3 pull-ups if male, 1 pull-up if female. (I did 3)
  • Vertical Leap — Raise your arm against the wall. Then step back one step and jump as high as you can. Measure how many inches above your extended hand you can jump. They suggest that you should have a vertical leap of at least 5 inches if male, 3 inches if female. (I got 14 inches)
  • Push-Ups — Do as many pushups as you can until muscle failure. They suggest that you should be able to do at least 15 if male, 3 if female (or 15 push-ups off your knees). (I did 20 full pushups)
  • Toe Touch — Sit on the ground with your legs extended and lean forward at your hips to try to touch your toes. They suggest that your reach should be no less than 6 inches from your toes. (I touched them)
  • Wall squats — Sit and hold the ‘chair’ position against a wall for as long as possible. They suggest that you should be able to hold the wall squat for at least 1 minute. (I did 2 mins, 35 seconds)
  • Bicep Curls — Get a heavy pair of dumbbells and do bicep curls until you can’t do any more. They suggest that you should be able to do at least 10 curls with 20 lbs. if male and at least 10 curls with 8 lbs. if female. (I did 15 with 10 lbs)
  • In and Outs — Sit on your butt and lean back with your arms supporting you. Raise your legs to 90 degrees and use your abs to move your legs in and out from your chest. They suggest you should be able to do at least 25. (I did 40).

So yes. I passed the test. I was actually surprised how well I did. I didn’t think I was that fit! …..but it looks like I am ready for P90X!

What do you think about this? I am no fitness expert so let’s get a discussion on fitness going. Do you workout? Do you feel you do enough activity? How much do you think is too much? Am I crazy? 

photo by Beyond Madrid