Back in late September, after completing the Power 90 in-home boot camp program, I was feeling great. I had finally got back into shape, was making better food choices, and starting P90X. It was a program that, by all accounts, would be challenging for me. Like many of you, I had seen the infomercial and never gave it a second thought, thinking that it was too extreme. Looking back, it was challenging and difficult, but for many reasons outside of the workout itself.
Today, I wanted to share what I learned over the last 90 days that has changed my life, for the absolute better. I hope it helps you in whatever fitness choices you plan to make for 2013.
1. Face Your Fitness Fears… HEAD ON.
Truth be told, I was scared to commit to this fitness program. Up until this year, I had only played pick-up basketball and golf as my main sources of physical activity. The infomercials, success (and failure) stories, and sheer time commitment made me nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do it. If you know me at all, you know that I won’t commit to something that I can’t give 110% to. I take many calculated risks in my life, and for the most part, when I focus time and attention to it, I tend to find succeed. With something like this, that was completely new to me, I wasn’t so sure. I made the decision late in my Power 90 fitness program that I would do it, if only to prove to myself that this was something I was capable of. I knew that if I wanted to continue a positive change to my overall health and physical state, I knew I needed to do something different, and P90X was it.
2. Create Structures To Insure Success
A key to my successful completion of the program were all the mini-structures I built prior and during the program to make sure I was in the best position to succeed.
a. Scheduling My Workouts In My Calendar: As simple as this might sound, every day at 6:00am, I had which workouts I was doing scheduled in my calendar, complete with an 8 hour reminder 🙂 This way, much like the rest of my life, if its in the calendar, I know what I have to do and how to prepare. I chose to do the workouts everyday in the morning, before my family woke up. While I was never a morning person before, this program has turned me into one 🙂 This one intentional structure helped me not miss a scheduled workout in 180 days (that’s half the year!)
b. Having Accountability Measures In Place: Whether it was sharing my progress on Facebook and/or Twitter, having my wife (or kids) nudge me out of bed when my 6:00am alarm went off, or having my friends, family, or Beachbody community members ask how it was all going, I knew that I was accountable to people OTHER THAN myself. This was a big motivating factor for me and fueled my determination to push play every day and follow through.
c. Modifying the Workouts When Necessary: While P90X has built in schedules (Classic, Lean, Doubles), based on your fitness goals, the beauty of it is that the program can be as “extreme” as you want it to be. Many of the physical challenges I had revolved around pull-ups. So, I did assisted pull ups throughout the first 60 days of the program (using a chair). I still struggle with them, but I can now do five to seven, unassisted, which is a major win for me. It proves to me that I have gotten stronger 🙂
3. Eat CLEAN For Maximum Health Results
This, by far, is what helped me achieve my P90X goals. While I didn’t follow the P90X diet guide to the letter, I did eat “clean” more often than not. Did I have a “cheat” meal or snack once a week? Probably. But compared to how I used to eat, it was a big shift that took about two weeks to get used to. For the most part, I focused on eating WHOLE FOODS (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats) whenever possible. This focus included all the social, family, or networking functions. I also cut soda, sports drinks, artificial sweeteners of any kind (yes, including Splenda and Stevia), white flour, white rice, heavily processed foods, fried foods, dairy, and, oh yes: CAFFEINE. For those who know me, I used to be a two-three cup a day consumer of caffeine. Now, I am down to maybe one or two a week and I don’t miss it at all. Now, does this mean I didn’t have any of these things the last 90 days? Nope, but the focus was not having it when I had a choice.
I also focus on drinking 80 ozs of water a day, starting in the morning with a glass when I wake up, one during my workout, one after my workout, one with my snack mid-morning, one with lunch, one with my snack mid-afternoon, one with dinner, and one an hour before bed. Its sounds like a lot, but its actually what I need to sustain the workouts, stay hydrated, and curb my appetite.
I buy most of my food now on the perimeter of the grocery store, with a few exceptions of course. Some examples of food I regularly get are:
– Eggs and Egg Whites
– Shredded Lo-Fat or Fat Free Cheddar Cheese
– Greek Yogurt
– Almond Milk (great alternative to regular milk)
– Bags of Frozen Fruit (to mix with my daily Shakeology)
– Bananas, apples, strawberries, blueberries, and other fruit
– Baby Spinach, avocados, peppers, carrots, kale, and many other veggies
– Whole Wheat / Whole Grain Pasta, Bread, and Bagels (sans high fructose corn syrup)
– Lean chicken, pork, and fish (steak every once in a while!)
– Snacks: KIND Bars, Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds, Almonds, cashews
– Peanut Butter
Shakeology has been a focal part of my nutrition efforts since August. Originally, I used Shakeology as a meal replacement (breakfast) to help me lose weight and curb my appetite for sweets. Now I use it every day as a mid-morning or afternoon snack to boost my energy, add much needed protein, and give me a full day’s worth of nutrition. Shakeology is NOT just a “protein shake”, but a “superfood drink” that is worth every penny. It isn’t cheap (about $4/day), but instead of spending $5+ dollars a day on a morning coffee, breakfast sandwich, etc., this has been a much better nutritional choice and supported my fitness efforts.
Ironically, I have not been sick throughout the duration of the program and I attribute this to eating clean, drinking Shakeology, and working out for at least 60 minutes, six days a week. The cost of being sick is far worse than anything I have already monetarily spent.
Things I Would Have Changed
1. Levels of Resistance: For the majority of the program, I used resistance bands (ex: Walmart | Beachbody) because they were a cheaper alternative to dumbbells. While I achieved a leaner look, I wish I had weights to create a different kind of resistance. Two weeks ago, I invested in BowFlex dumbbells and they have been a great addition. I liked the resistance bands because they were easy to travel with, but moving forward, dumbbells will be the focus of all my resistance training needs.
2. Watching the Videos BEFOREHAND & Pushing PAUSE: I was so excited to start P90X, I did what many folks do, put in the DVD and go. What I should have done in my first week was watch the video ahead of time to get an idea of the moves and their timing. I also wished I pushed pause more often so I could the reps and/or exercise in, instead of trying to keep up with the video. Patience is a virtue, and one that I should have exercised as much as my body 🙂
3. Protein Intake: Increasing my protein consumption was a necessary part of my nutrition over the last 90 days, especially on weight training days. What I didn’t take into consideration was protein from ALL my food sources, not just the obvious ones (eggs, chicken, fish , etc.). For example, if I drank a glass of Almond Milk (5 grams), Shakeology (18 grams), Whey protein drink (25 grams), a serving of almonds (5 grams), Barilla Plus pasta (10 grams), that’s 63 grams right there. I aimed for 90 grams of protein a day and while I didn’t always hit it, I was conscious of trying to get more protein than I was used to.
For those curious, here are just some of my starting/ending statistics:
Weight: 143 / 138
Body Fat %: 18.2% / 14.5 % (Down 3.7% in body fat which translated into 5 lbs of fat weight lost!)
Waist: 31.5 / 30 (Even my size 30 pants are a bit loose!) & Neck: 15.5/14
Pull-Ups (unassisted, to failure): 1 / 7 & Push-Ups (to failure): 25 / 40
Call To Action:
For those who have been following my fitness journey on Facebook or Twitter, it is no secret that I’m now fully committed to my health and fitness and encouraging others do the same. I’m asking all those who read this blog to join me on a “focus on fitness” in 2013 by doing the following:
1. Watch These Two Documentaries: “Food Matters” and “Hungry For Change” (for perspective on the important role that food plays in your overall health)
2. Commit to Physical Activity: Whether it is through a focused Beachbody program and/or product (P90X, Insanity, Turbo Fire, Shakeology, Ultimate Reset, etc.), running, a class at your local gym, yoga, playing a sport, etc., do it at least five times a week for 30-45 minutes at minimum for maximum results. If you do choose to try a Beachbody program, please let me know and I will coach/support you for free! Our fitness group on Facebook is growing and I’d love for you join us!
3. Commit to EATING CLEAN: Even if you start small, begin to cut back on the food that you know isn’t nutritious at all and give your body the whole foods it really needs. Pick one or two things and once you find success, add more until you are eating completely clean.
4. Tell Others About Your Efforts: You must enlist the support of those around you, who initially maybe your biggest roadblocks (especially if they are not willing to do it with you.) Be the role model and example for your friends and family, and slowly, they will come around.
5. Make the Time and Put In the Effort: Look, it’s not that you don’t “have” the time, its just that you haven’t wanted to spend the time on making it a priority. Frankly, if this lifestyle change and its benefits are important to you, you will find the time to make it happen. If you think about it, it’s true for all the ways we spend our time. For someone who is as busy as I am (family, career, consulting, travel, etc.), I can honestly say that if I can do it, anyone can.
While my journey with round 1 of P90X is over, I feel like I have a great foundation for fitness moving forward. I will be starting a new P90X / Insanity Hybrid program for the next 90 days to really kickstart 2013 off on the right foot on December 31st with the goals of building more muscle and burning even more fat off! I will also be focused on adding in running this year, looking to log 500 miles by the end of the year.
I want to thank you all who have support, encouraged, and pushed me along the way, especially my family and fellow Beachbody friends! I’m very proud of this accomplishment and can honestly say that I did #BringIt for 90 days! I plan to build on this momentum and continue in 2013 and hope you will consider joining me on this journey!
What are you fitness / health plans for 2013? If you have done a Beachbody program before, what worked and didn’t work for you? What advice would you give people focusing on fitness in 2013?