My Personal Challenge: P90X
There was a lot of talk going on around Peace Corps Belize about this P90X workout program. I heard of some volunteers who were going to try it and was curious. Anthony got a copy of it and I decided I would do it after pre-service training in November. After training, I considered my schedule and decided since I would be traveling for the holidays and didn’t know what I would have for available space, I would wait until I returned and start on January 4th. Then, the climate change from New England to Belize (and the crazy arctic chill that made even Belize cold) caused me to suffer migraines for a week (not fun), so an intense workout regimen was not a good idea. As soon as I was back to normal, I began the program on 11 January.
P90X is a 90-day intense exercise program designed to get you into the “best shape of your life.” In reading over the accompanying materials before starting, I wondered if it was going to actually be beyond my ability level, but I made the mental commitment to do it. I took it on as a personal challenge, as well as a bit of an experiment – I wanted to know if something like this actually works. I always read about workout programs and would see the before and after photos and wondered about them, so I figured if I saw the results on myself then I would believe. I believe!
Check out my stats:
I lost a total of 2 & 7/8 inches from my upper body to my thighs and gained a total of 7/8 inch in my biceps (with a little more in the left because it had more to gain!). It’s spread out in different areas, but I had the highest loss in my waist, then hips and chest, then thighs – interestingly, my right thigh lost more than my left and I learned throughout the program my left leg is definitely the stronger of the two; I just didn’t expect that. My body fat percent also went down by 5 percentage points (that amazes me)!
With the fit test, I improved in everything:
Test........................... Before Day 1............... After Day 90
(just jumping straight
up from standing)...... 12 inches................... 13 inches
~~~ To start, they said women should be able to jump 3 inches, so I guess I didn’t have much to
go with this one.
not on knees)................... 12.......................... 26
~~~Done to failure – when the body cannot do another rep
stretch)..................... +3 inches................ +8 inches
(fingers past toes)
~~~One of my goals was increased flexibility and this really makes a huge difference to me!
the wall, legs in
seated chair position)..... 51.24 seconds.... 2 minutes, 19 seconds
~~~This one is just plain nuts!
Bicep Curls................. 47 (with 3.75 lbs).. 102 (with 3.75 lbs)
~~~If I’d had a heavier weight to begin it would have been nice because it’s just not enough resistance. I used the same light weight for the final test since I wanted to compare – it’s just ridiculous, though. But, you can see the biceps are a lot stronger!
In & Outs
(abs – seated
with knees bent in to chest,
feet off floor, then straighten
and bend legs in without
touching floor) ..................... 25................... 100
~~~Done to failure – when the body just couldn’t do another rep
You can read more about the program here. There are routines for every day (Sunday is a rest or stretch day, and I did the stretch because I found it relaxing and because it’s really important to stretch when you’re doing this work to your body; also, I really wanted to work on my flexibility – which has improved greatly, too!). A key factor of this program is “muscle confusion” so you don’t plateau. This means the workouts have varying versions for similar muscle groups so you work them in different ways, and that you change up routines every phase (there are three phases). There is an accompanying nutrition plan, which I did not follow due to eating a vegetarian diet and the limited availability of items in Belize. However, I will say that I had to do the increased carbohydrates in the third phase because I just wasn’t taking in enough calories for energy and that first week I was crashing miserably.
My goals were to tone my arms and legs and lose inches around my waist, hips, and thighs – all of which I did. Am I in the best shape of my life? Considering I’ve never really tested my fitness like this before, I can’t say for sure, but I feel great. I am proud of accomplishing my goal and I am excited that it worked. I didn’t really have much weight to lose, but I managed to drop 3 pounds. I exercised regularly prior to the program and am now back to a more regular, less intense routine, but I will continue to include a P90X workout in my regimen and expect I’ll do the program again sometime. We recently got Power 90 (also by Tony Horton and less intense, but reportedly people get great results with this, too, especially those who rarely or never exercise) and I think it will be a good program to do as a way of staying in shape without such high intensity. With pre-service training in full swing, it’s a lot harder to do a full hour (and then some) workout every morning, so going back to 25-30 minutes is nice, but feels a little like I’m not doing anything. I’ll readjust, I’m sure. I’m now trying the 30-Day Shred program by Jillian Michaels that my sister-in-law gave me when I was back for the holidays; it’s too boring for me to do the same thing every day, so I mix it up with other cardio routines I have and yoga, pilates, and tae-bo or kickboxing.
I definitely recommend the P90X program to anyone considering it or looking for a challenge to change up your exercise routine. I feel like I was preparing for some major sporting event, but I’ll just say I was building up my stamina for pre-service training!
Here are some other things I did in the past 90 days:
Ø Watched 5 seasons of The Office (how did I not watch this before? It’s Hi-larious!)
Ø Completed the visits for all my site development locations; traveling from the far north district all the way to the southern-most district
Ø Attended and participated in 13 mid-service and entry-into-site visits and events
Ø Facilitated sessions for the all volunteer conference and in-service trainings
Ø Supported the HIV/AIDS Committee in the first steps of their Designing for Behavior Change survey preparation
Ø Reviewed several grant proposals for volunteers (all of the most recent applicants received their grants!)
Ø Celebrated a friend’s wedding
Ø Had a visit with the Tarzia’s and traveled to some new places in Belize
Ø Participated in the training of trainers with the language and culture facilitators to kick-start pre-service training
Ø Prepared the calendar for all training activities for the education trainees
Ø Welcomed the new trainees and began pre-service training
Ø Went to Mexico for Anthony’s birthday
Ø Read several good books
Ø Drove the PC vehicle and spent four days on the road following La Ruta Maya River Challenge to support the HIV/AIDS Committee in their outreach to over 1400 people
Ø Witnessed the introduction of Fresca to Belize (and even got a free one) - I mean that's exciting, true? It's now bottled here by Bowen and Bowen
Ø Visited two Maya Ruins sites
Ø Began watching Merlin (a great show from the BBC)
Ø Started Spanish classes with a Colombian student from University of Belize
Ø Pondered next steps and think I have a good idea of what I want to do with the next aspect of my career; I think…and I took a practice LSAT just to see, no definite plans at this point, though (I don't want to be a lawyer, necessarily, but think a joint law degree and subject specialty could be a good idea for working in development and human rights)
Ø Participated in a Yoga Mala for the Spring Equinox and completed 108 Sun Salutations
Ø Did not post to the blog! – Anthony did the only one that came out in the past 90 days, and that’s why I am now committed to posting something more often!
There sure is a lot you can do in 90 days – even with a daily hour-long workout in the mix!