Tag Archives: extreme workout

Time to Chuck The Scale

Our world grants us total access to other people’s lives. Not only can we see into strangers’ homes on television, but we can see them date, marry, give birth and lose weight. People do this to become famous, and some do it for free, for reasons I won’t try to ascertain.

Putting yourself out there invites scrutiny, and you can tell by the very thin people that populate TV and movies that the alleged obesity “epidemic” (as if being overweight were a communicable disease, pfft), we’re going through in this country isn’t being represented on screen. There are exceptions, but the rule is to keep it small.

No wonder people – who don’t look like celebritites because they’re not paid to do it and don’t have stylists or airbrushing – judge each other and their flaws harshly. We cannot live up to impossible standards. Would you really compare your home cooked meal to Anthony Bourdain’s? So why compare your body to Jessica Biel’s?

It is also in line with human nature to judge. Let’s face it, most people will not give you a hard time if you make a disparaging remark about someone’s eating habits or body weight. People say, well, they have no self-control. Lots of unpleasant stereotypes can be made, but frankly, most of them aren’t true.

There are all sorts of reasons people gain weight, especially large quantities of it, and then keep it on, but those reasons shouldn’t include lack of self-control or laziness. And now there’s this: A study shows that even if someone works hard to take weight off, their body changes. Some hormones drop, slowing their metabolism and others increase, upping their hunger. These changes don’t go away until they gain back the weight.

In plain English: Their bodies don’t want them to lose weight.

The study was limited to fifty people, so more rigorous research has to be done, but the findings themselves are remarkable. It says pretty clearly that weight loss can be nearly impossible for most people, particularly if those individuals prefer not to feel hungry all day long.

I do have a few qualms about the results of this research. The participants ran on less than 600 calories a day for 10 weeks. I’m fairly certain that that type of extreme diet would mess anyone’s hormones up. Most nutritionists don’t recommend anything lower than 1,200 calories a day if you are trying to be healthy about weight loss. I’d like to see a study of moderate dieters, not crash dieting, as I would categorize this particular approach.

However, if it’s true that weight loss isn’t sustainable for certain overweight individuals, or perhaps all overweight individuals, does that mean the weight itself causes the issue in the first place, or are people whose bodies prefer to be larger just following their genetic code? Is there a different path to weight loss that would eliminate these hormone fluctuations if someone was determined to lose weight and keep it off? These are the types of questions we need answered.

Either way, it seems unfair to judge people for a state of being that their body finds natural, whatever that state may be. The push should be on the quality of food consumed – you know, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, blah blah blah – rather than weight loss. Encourage physical activity for it’s benefits to the brain, the circulatory system, and energy levels. Teach people that with a healthy lifestyle, your body will find its own balance – and that’s where you should be. Extreme dieting and extreme workouts equal extreme stress on your body, and will eventually wear thin until old habits return.

The goal is to be healthy for health’s sake, not to fit into society’s relentless and idiotic fetish for alleged perfection. Because even though we are all quick to judge, we treat ourselves the most harshly. We see our own lives unedited and unvarnished. We need to see entertainment for what it is – a diversion. It is not a guide, or an aspiration, but something to calm us after a long day of living real life.

We could all look amazing if looking amazing was our job. The trick is to recognize how amazing we already are, and pursue our own health and happiness, instead of measuring ourselves on a scale that doesn’t really exist.

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P90X

For those of you who don’t know what P90X is, imagine that you have a kind of quirky, slightly overbearing neighbor who comes over every day and forces you to work out for nearly an hour while yakking non-stop. That’s Tony Horton and the 12-Disc home workout series that I’ve been doing now for six weeks.

As the name implies, it is a 90 day work out, and if you so choose, you get one “rest” day a week, although you also have the option to stretch. As the X implies, it is EXTREME. Well, I don’t know if I would go that far. But it is intense, and as far as I can tell, many people have achieved great results and are now on round 2, 3 or 7 of the regimen.

Since I’m on the third day of week 7 of the Lean series, which is tantamount of halfway or thereabouts, I wanted to share my mid-regimen perspective.

First off, I think it’s practically impossible to do this everyday. Weddings, colds, injuries, sleep, life…whatever. Stuff gets in the way, especially when Yoga is on the menu. Tony butchers the ancient art by drawing it out to an hour and 30 minutes. I’ve only done it once through with the video and then go from the booklet (go it down to an hour) because an hour and half is pretty much impossible to allot to warrior two and downward dog.

The gimmick here is that you’re not supposed to plateau, and keep making gains in weight loss and muscle-building all the way to your 90th day. I have to say, that after my first 30, I was kind of disappointed. I had planned to lose about 5lbs, which I have no idea if I did or not, since I don’t own a scale. However, I did take “before” photos. I also took photos on day 30. My arms and back looked like they were more defined, and my butt had traveled north, but besides that, I didn’t really see that much difference. Also, with the amount of lunges and squats, I really expected my booty to be at mid-back by then.

So I checked my 30 day measurements vs my Day 0, and was surprised to find that I had lost an inch in my waist and half and inch in my hips. My “coach”, which is someone who BeachBody, the parent company of P90X, provides to encourage and advise you through your workout process told me to stop whining and “Press Play”.

Instead, I took a week off and then rejoined the effort with some spin/yoga in the mix. Spin, as some of you may know, is a fairly high-level cardio exercise where you pedal furiously on a stationary bike while some sadistic person yells at you over loud music to crank up your resistance. In my studio, after that torture, you get off the bike and the same sadist forces you to perform balancing exercises (Royal Dancer to Warrior Three to Airplane to Half Moon to Standing Splits all in a row, for those who know), vinyasas, and endless crunches. I thought all of this would be a good idea, except then I was exhausted the rest of the week.

Back to square one. So instead I’ve created an elaborate work out schedule that is too cumbersome to change. This way, I am taking advantage of being so lazy that it’s easier to work out than change the whole schedule.

In all, so far at least, I am happy with the results. I am more flexible, have lots of energy, and have figured out how to mute Tony so I don’t have to listen to him try out his accents ad nauseam. I’ve also taken longer than the allotted time, but I can see the changes in my body as my muscles grow stronger. Apparently most people see the biggest changes at day 65, and I am at day 45. Perhaps in a few weeks I’ll be gushing about my new six-pack, or something.

I’d probably recommend P90X to my friends, with the warning that it’s a pretty serious time suck. But hey, if you’re serious about getting in shape, that’s what it takes, right?

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