P90X--Yay or Nay?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I've been hearing lots lately about P90X, a new fitness program that credits a technique called "muscle confusion"--there are 12 very different workouts that never repeat a move, so your body is constantly being challenged and doesn't get used to the same routine. In addition, there's an eating plan and cardio routines. Has anyone tried it? What are your thoughts?

Right now my workout routine basically consists of running 4 or 4.5 miles at least four times a week, maybe one workout that involves other cardio (elliptical or bike) and the occasional strength training session. I aim for 2-3 strength training workouts per week but I'm more likely to fit in one. On a fun scale, where 1 is having all of my teeth drilled simultaneously with no anasthetic while Canadian Idol plays on repeat and 10 is Disney World, sex, and ponies all in the same day, weight training ranks about a 3. Right now I feel like I'm in pretty good shape especially cardio-wise but there's always room for improvement.

Eating-wise, I eat okaaaaaay...most of the time. I have a definite sweet tooth and also a weird relationship with food that stems back to grade 8 or 9. Let me break my relationship with my body in general down in a little more detail...

I remember announcing to the other girls in gym class in grade 8 that I was going to get down to 80 pounds. Bear in mind I had pretty much reached my full adult height at that time...so 5'6". Not smart! Anyway, since I was 13 or 14 I have been super weight conscious and very aware of my body.

In high school I played sports so I kept my weight pretty stable, but I also had a part-time job at McDonald's which came with half-price meals (plus a LOT of sneaked fries and McNuggets...shhh) and I established a bit of a dependency on fast food. I went to college with those eating habits intact but suddenly I wasn't running basketball drills or track laps every day for an hour, and combined with a newfound love of beer and wings, things began to catch up with me.

I graduated and went to work in Saint John and decided as a money-saving venture on my entry-level slave wages to leave my car with my parents so I wouldn't be saddled with gas and insurance costs. Walking everywhere (or running/sprinting through the ghetto clutching my massive work bag and trying not to be molested by hobos) helped me stay pretty thin. I moved back to Bagtown to work and that's where things fell apart. My lunch of choice was a personal-size Greco extra-cheese pizza, which I'd order for pickup in 10 minutes-just enough time to head for the McDonald's drive-thru to get a large fries to eat WITH the pizza. I'd also ask for McChicken sauce for the fries which has like 110 calories and 8 grams of fat per packet. I'd eat anywhere from 3-5 packets in addition to the rest of my meal--so up to 550 calories and 40 grams of fat FOR A CONDIMENT!!!! I was going to the gym but doing the Stair Master for 30 minutes and staying sedentary the entire rest of the day which clearly doesn't balance out.

When I came to Halifax I was faced with another dietary demon: alcohol. Halifax has the most bars/clubs per capita of any Canadian city, as the Harbor Hopper tour likes to brag, and I'm inclined to agree. I was going out 2-4 nights a week and consuming 3-10 drinks per time. My eating habits had improved marginally from a fast-food standpoint (can't afford to eat out when there are drinks to be bought!) but nutritionally I was eating brutally. I'd have Triscuits and cheese for supper four nights out of five.

When I hit 25, I decided to start making some changes. Miraculously I wasn't fat, but I was definitely soft. I had worn pants all summer for a few years because I was worried about my legs, and it had gotten so that even when I went out to bars in the summer I'd often wear a long-sleeve shirt too. I was really uncomfortable and embarrassed a lot of the time. I started doing running/walking intervals through my neighbourhood after work and eating more reasonable, healthier portions. Surprisingly it wasn't long before people started commenting on my appearance and asking if I'd lost weight. The comments were encouraging and I decided to keep things up. I met H2B pretty soon after that, who had probably 0.00000001% body fat and a Nubody's membership that wasn't collecting any dust, and that served as a final push to help me get my act together. I also started thinking about my family history. Both my mom's parents died of heart-related issues before they reached 70, and my dad's father died of lung cancer at 67. My grandmother is still alive and super healthy but having 3/4 of your grandparents die before 70 is not a good indicator of awesome genes.

But even now that I'm eating fast food fewer times in a year than I used to eat in one week and can run for 45-minute stints with relative ease, I'm still extremely conscious of what goes into my body and what I do to counteract it. I still gorge on treats at holidays and indulge at special events but when I do, I think about it a LOT. I'm not able to snack without abandon without a huge degree of guilt and counterbalancing the next day with salads and fruit.

To bring the world's longest ramblefest to an end, I'm always looking for ways to keep working out interesting and fun and to plan healthy meals that don't consist of Splenda and lettuce. If you have any suggestions or tips feel free to share...particularly about P90X since I don't want any unnecessary buyer's remorse compounding on top of that banana bread I just chowed :)

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  1. The bf just bought P90X (or as he likes to call it, The Beefcake Method.) He hasn't started it yet, because there is a lot of preplanning involved (getting the right foods in the house, primarily) but he is really stoked about it. I suppose if I see results in him pretty quickly I might be tempted to do it as well, but I'm kind of scared of it. It looks highly intense. And I'm kind of a wiener.