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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A great way to get Wednesday (or Thursday, depending on your POV), going...

Up and at 'em this evening with a little strength training, and do I feel great! Feeling the tension in my arms right now, but it's a wonderful feeling because it means I was doing some work. I'm pretty sure I'm starting to adapt to the weights I'm using, but still I don't want to push my luck and up them too soon; it's a downfall my dad has succumbed to in the past, resulting in shoulder injuries, and with my history of back trouble, I'd rather play it safe. Anyway, there's no rush for me to pop out six-pack abs or 20" biceps.

My routine was made a little easier by having had the air conditioner on all day so I could sleep. I still sweat a lot, but I don't feel like I could ignite the couch just by sitting on it, either. Whenever we are in a position to buy a house, I'm definitely going to look for a nice, cool basement for exercise purposes.

Where have you struggled when it comes to exercising? What have you done to overcome those issues? What things have you found to be detrimental to getting a good workout?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Time for a twofer...

Welcome to the new week, everyone! I didn't get a chance to put up a post last night, so I'm taking care of that now.

Yesterday I completed my strength training workout and had to sit for a while before I could get going again, mostly because my stomach felt a little weird. I think I was a little dehydrated, because after getting down some food and water, I was doing just fine. I kept the weights at the level from last Friday, and while it was a challenge, it felt great. I don't think I'll be increasing the weight for anything this week, but might add a bit by next Friday. We'll just see how things go.

Tonight I finished my cardio/ab routine and am feeling fantastic.  The ab portion went very well, with only a few short breaks in the middle of some of the sets. I'm guessing this is due partly to increased abdominal strength and partly to well-rested abs from having missed the workout on both Thursday and Saturday last week.

I've still got a little tweakiness in my left knee, but it primarily bothers me when I'm sleeping and not during my exercises. Stretching is still a priority to see if I can get that worked out.

My wife has been making supper for a while, and I smelled it cooking during most of my workout. With that in mind, I leave you to your own devices as I prepare to consume some calories.

Friday, May 24, 2013

One more down!

Due to a messed up sleep schedule and other things, I didn't get a cardio/ab workout in yesterday. Rather than beat myself up for that, I got busy tonight and did my strength training routine. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I upped the weight for all of the exercises (except Lawnmower, which I had increased on Wednesday). The Bicep 21 exercise was quite difficult, especially the third portion where I had to do 7 full curls. But I made it through and feel great as a result.

I can tell I have a bit of increased flexibility in my hamstrings as I was able to do the bent over stretches with straighter legs and overall better results today. That's amazing to me, and I look forward to continued progress. I did a bit of foam rolling to work on my IT bands, too, and I think that has helped me feel better tonight.

We're grilling out tonight, and as that is my department, I have to get downstairs and get to it. Good luck with your own endeavors today.

For fitness!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One more day...

Hey there, sports fans! It's another great day for working out, and I feel fantastic after completing my session. I added 2.5 pounds to the Lawnmower exercise but kept everything else the same. I've already planned for Friday by adding 2.5 pounds to everything else, shooting for a minimum of 8 reps (I've been doing 10 per set so far) and building up from there.

I also had my wife take measurements for me today. Here's how they came out:

Neck: 16 3/4"
Right bicep: 14"
Left bicep: 14"
Chest: 46 3/4"
Waist: 44 1/2"
Hips: 43 1/2"
Right thigh: 24 1/4"
Left thigh: 24 1/4"
Right calf: 16 1/4"
Left calf: 16"

I also weighed myself today out of curiosity. That came to 226.8 pounds with 34.6% body fat. The body fat percentage probably isn't the most accurate being from one of those digital scales that uses electrical impulses, but that number also isn't far off from my last more accurate measurement using the BodPod in Rochester. Building muscle and cutting body fat are my priorities, not necessarily seeing the number on the scale go down, though I still would like to have a total weight of 190-200 pounds with 14-17% body fat. Definitely have a ways to go for that!

It's been exciting to share my updates thus far, and I look forward to many more. Happy trails!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oh what a wonderful feeling...

Well, another day of cardio/abs under my belt, another day of feeling pretty good. I was especially excited tonight by my ability to kick a little higher during that portion of the routine. Some of that is due to increasing flexibility, some likely from this being the first cardio workout of the week. In any case, it was a lot of fun and quite encouraging.

The ab routine is getting just a little bit easier with each session. Fitness bloggers, writers, and/or experts seem to be split on the value of doing ab exercises. I know, of course, that no amount of crunches or whatever is going to give me a visible six-pack--the only way for that to happen is to lose enough body fat for the underlying muscle to show through. However, I think there is good reason to do ab exercises in order to strengthen the core muscles, since so many other movements rely on the core to be executed properly. Oh well, I'll leave the debate to the experts and go more on how I feel as a result.

I hope you've managed to find some time for activity today. I'm getting to the point now that skipping workouts makes me feel worse. Whodathunkit?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The weather can't stop you when you exercise indoors...

It's raining at a good clip outside, and there's a fair amount of lightning and thunder. However, I am nice and dry--relatively speaking--here in my apartment. One more strength training workout under my belt, one more day of getting a bit stronger.

It's fun to look back over the last few weeks and see my numbers increasing. On May 1st, I could only do 8 chair dips with a good deal of struggling. Today I did 10 with little trouble. Today, too, I was able to do the narrow push-ups without widening my foot stance. And my squats seemed to get a little deeper with my back a little straighter.

I'm enjoying this evening, especially since I was able to get to sleep almost immediately after getting home this morning and thus could wake at 6:30 PM without feeling too tired. I could almost take a nap now, but that's mostly post-exercise tiredness and it should pass as soon as I get a little something to eat.

Isn't it fun to improve your overall health? Remember, though, not to neglect the most important things in life: God first, family second. No goal, no matter how admirable, is worth jeopardizing the priorities of God and family.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

First full week completed...

Finally, with this being my 5th week working through Power 90, I have completed an entire six-day workout schedule. I'm glad I was able to stick with it, although tonight I was definitely thinking of skipping.

It's great to see a little improvement in my endurance and flexibility. I'm making progress, that's for sure, even if it's just a little bit at a time.

I'm especially pleased with how I was able to do the ab routine tonight. Because I can't put my legs up in the air and keep them anywhere close to straight, I've been assisting myself by putting my heels on the wall when doing the Superman Crunch. Tonight I was able to get up a little more and didn't experience the twinging in my leg, which is of great encouragement. I need to keep working on my hamstring flexibility and my ankle strengthening, but I'm glad to see that already changes are being made for the better.

And now, I have to get supper and get ready for work. See you all on Monday!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A great way to get Friday going...

Whew! What a workout! Tonight, as promised, I upped the weight on just about every exercise. I kept Back Flys, Two-Arm Kickbacks, and Shoulder Flys at 12.5 pounds, and my regular Bicep Curls at 20. Everything else was up to 15, and I could really feel it by the end. It's an amazing feeling, and I'm looking forward to see it carry through next week.

Short post tonight because I got supper going on the grill just before I started exercising and it's time to tend to that. Beef ribs and a whole mess of grilled veggies (the veggies have a lot of butter on them to assist in the steaming and flavoring process, so don't get too excited about that portion). Even though it's after 10, it's such a nice evening that we're planning to eat on the deck.

If you've been pushing hard this week, you deserve a treat. Do something special for yourself. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Drum roll please...

...and, TA-DA!

Welcome to the 100th post of this blog! I didn't realize I was getting so close to 100 until just a few days ago, and the thought was exciting. Now, granted, I started this blog over a year ago, so 100 posts might not seem like a big deal to you. What is a bigger deal to me is that I have been trying to stay consistent with my workouts for a little over a month, and it's been a blast doing so.

Cardio/abs routine tonight, and I have to say it was my best showing yet. The power yoga segment right after the initial stretch is getting easier, and tonight I blasted through the ab exercises with good form all the way. I've been progressing with baby steps all along the way, but each time I improve, which makes me think there isn't anything I couldn't eventually accomplish. Don't you love that feeling?

My chiropractic adjustment this morning was likely at least a portion of help for what I was able to do tonight. My chiropractor had me do a couple of exercises when I explained a bit about some knee and hip pain I've been experiencing in my left leg (generally when I'm sleeping). One of the exercises showed that my left ankle is quite constricted compared to the right. Since the ankle is supposed to be a flexible joint and mine is impeded, my knee is compensating, which in turn is throwing my hamstrings for a loop and keeping them tight. To help correct this problem, he wants me doing 12 squats a day, making sure to keep my feet shoulder-width apart with toes pointing forward and my weight distributed to the outside of my feet rather than the inside. With my arms raised straight up, I need to squat while keeping my back as straight as possible. Keeping those arms up adds an element of difficulty, but I can see how it's helping me go slow and maintain proper form throughout the exercise.

All in all, it's been a great day, and now I'm looking forward to some time with my family. G'night!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's important to set goals...

I've been reading lately from the website NerdFitness.com. They have some interesting information over there. One thing they push for is to eat according to the Paleo Diet. Now, I don't agree with the premise of this diet in that it is evolutionary in nature, and I have not personally experimented with the prescribed meal plans, but it sounds interesting and I am going to give it at least somewhat of a try. The key point they make with which I am in absolute agreement is that you shouldn't be eating processed foods. It's hard not to, as they are everywhere, but with some diligent searching and planning, even growing some of your own foods, it can be done.

Another thing that is stressed at NerdFitness is not coming to exercise or fitness with vague goals like, "I want to be healthy" or "I want to increase my level of fitness." Instead, set specific goals like, "I want to bench press 200 pounds" or "I want to maintain my body fat at less than 15%." Being accountable to at least one other person will help keep you on track with your goals, and making things interesting can be a huge inspiration (one success story tells of the person making a $500 bet that he could reach his goal).

I don't necessarily agree with the NerdFitness stance that programs like Power 90, P90X, Insanity, etc., are necessarily junk. I recognize that there is a bunch of marketing involved with these and other programs, especially when it comes to pushing various supplements. Frankly, I don't see a huge difference between the BeachBody company (which produces the programs mentioned above) and NerdFitness. BB endorses supplements, NF doesn't, but both encourage regular workouts and a drastic change in diet for most of America. There is more free information at NF (the BB site is, as far as I've seen, mostly an advertisement for their various DVDs, equipment, and supplements), but if you want the "full program" from NF, you're still going to shell out at least $40.

Okay, enough of my rambling. Feel free to check out the sites I've mentioned and come to your own conclusions.

I feel incredible after completing my workout for tonight. Some of the exercises seemed especially easy, so it looks like I'll for sure be upping the weight on Friday. I even got started today. I increased the weight for Open Arm Curls and Bicep 21's from 12.5 to 15 pounds. I should be able to do the same for the Military Press, Swimmer's Press, and Lawnmower exercises for sure. It's definitely encouraging to see that change coming!

On another note, I will be finishing my stint on the overnight shift in 4 weeks, and I am very much looking forward to that. The last couple of days have been fairly warm, especially considering that it snowed on May 4th. I've been doing my exercises in the evening after I wake up, and my room is pretty stuffy by then, even with the A/C running all day. Once I get back to working the evening shift, I'll be working out in the morning after I get up, and if I've been able to leave the window open all night, it should be a nice temperature for exercising.

And now, I need some food. Happy Wednesday to you all!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Just another Tuesday...

Well, here I am after just finishing my cardio/abs routine for today. I'm feeling really good, and I'm pretty excited because today was by far my best performance for this workout. I even managed to do all 100 reps for the ab routine! My ab exercises didn't look like anything special since I'm still dealing with a lot of flexibility issues, but I was focusing on form and doing what I could.

It's fun to see improvement, isn't it? That's part of what makes exercising something I can continue to do. It's a big help because I don't have an exercise buddy, though I have my wife to encourage me and the thought of putting up another blog post to keep me accountable. This isn't necessarily the best way to go about it, but it's what I've got to work with for now. Once we have some money available to buy a membership somewhere that offers classes, that's something I hope to take advantage of (I'd like to try out spinning and yoga for sure).

What do you find is a good way to stay focused on and accountable to your plans for better fitness? Do you have a workout partner?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gotta love that feeling!

Here we are at the start of a new week. Last week is in the past. Did you have failures? Learn from them and move on. I like Tony Horton's statement in one of the P90X intros. Don't say "I can't...", but rather "I presently struggle with...". Did you plan to do 10 push-ups last week and only made it to 6? Seek to improve on that 6, even if you only get a total of 7. Always seek to improve, one step at a time.

Mondays are great days when it comes to strength training for me because I've had two days off from lifting weights and I am much refreshed. There is potential danger, though. Because I feel so good at the start of the week, I am always tempted to hit the weights a lot harder. I've done that enough in the past to know that such a move will leave me incredibly sore for at least three days, and not in a way that I think is helpful. My goal is to get stronger, not make the next workout painful to the point of wanting to skip it or my daily tasks next to impossible to complete. Could I push harder than I am now? In all honesty, that answer should probably be yes. However, I plan to save my bigger push for Friday (and by "bigger" I mean I will bump the weight up by 2.5 pounds on some of the exercises).

I took extra time today to stretch my hamstrings, and that proved to be a good thing. The outside of my left knee has been a little bothersome for the last few days, and tight hamstrings are at least one of the culprits. A stretch I was given in physical therapy last year involves putting one heel on a doorframe, with the other leg extended straight through the doorway. Scoot your butt as close to the frame as possible while keeping both legs straight. Hold for a minute, then switch legs by sliding over to the other side of the doorway. Since none of the doorways in our apartment are setup in such a way to let me do this stretch in this fashion, I use the doorframe for one leg and a bookshelf for the other...the results are the same. And the results today were that the tightness/pain in my knee went away. Now I just have to be diligent in stretching daily (and multiple times a day at that).

I was reminded yesterday of just how far I have to go when it comes to my fitness. We took family pictures for Mother's Day, and in some of them I presented basically a profile to the camera. My gut hung over my belt to an alarming degree, just one more motivation to get this job done right.

Pretty much everyone struggles with fitness to one degree or another. You're not alone, and I'd be glad to hear about your failures and, more importantly, your triumphs.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Feelin' better and better...

Okay, 16 or so hours after my previous workout, I completed my Cardio/Abs routine for today. I normally prefer roughly 24 hours between sessions, but I knew I wasn't going to get this done otherwise. I'm glad I managed it, and now I'm ready for a day off and the start of a new week.

The routine is getting a little easier day by day. Abs are still a weak point, as well as jumping exercises (the second set of exercises includes jumping jacks and run lunges). The Level 3-4 workout adds one repetition of each set of exercises, so I'm glad it's going to be a while before I get there. I'm moving in the right direction, though, which is what's important.

For those who saw my earlier post today (http://joe-onemansjourney.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-little-late-night-workout.html), I thought I should link to the next most recent set of pictures I have. You can find them here: http://joe-onemansjourney.blogspot.com/2012/09/pre-p90x.html

My lower back and thigh muscles are still in need of a large increase in flexibility. One of the ab exercises is called the Superman Crunch. Ideally, you put both legs straight up in the air at a 90-degree angle to your torso, do the same with your arms, lock your thumbs, and raise up to touch your fingers to your toes. My legs don't get anywhere near that straight without assistance, so I put my heels up on a door, scooted my butt to the door, too, and did the exercise that way. I could feel my left thigh muscles arguing with me the whole time, especially right at the hip joint (I'm not sure if it's my quads, the IT band, or both that's causing the problem). As I continue, I hope to see that flexibility increasing.

Well, that's it for me for now. I'm looking forward to sharing my progress when I get started again on Monday. Happy trails!

A little late-night workout...

It's been a busy couple of days filled with errands and getting to bed rather late (for me): 1 PM Thursday, 3 PM Friday. I ended up not getting in a workout Thursday night/Friday morning, but I managed to do my strength training session from Friday, although it was technically Saturday morning when I did it. My plan is to get to bed at a more normal time (between 7 and 9 AM) and get up early enough to do my cardio/abs routine before going to work.

It was a good workout, though, regardless of the time it took place. I'm definitely feeling stronger. A few more weeks of this, and I've got a good feeling about the direction in which I'll be headed.

And, since you've been so patient, here are a few pictures. These were taken pretty much right after my workout, so my upper arms especially were more tense than they would be normally (just stating this in the interest of full disclosure). Also, I think it was just the angle at which I was standing that makes my back look so crooked, though I am overdue for a chiropractic adjustment. The top picture in both poses is me in a relaxed state, the bottom is of me flexing my arms. Not a huge difference, but I'm for sure seeing progress. I've said it before, my midsection is my biggest visible weak spot, but that's just going to take time to correct. The last numbers I saw, I was carrying around roughly 80 pounds of fat in my body, and that's a ton of calories to burn!

Happy Saturday to you all! Be sure to do something nice for your moms tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

One day at a time...

That's a healthy mantra for anyone seeking to increase their fitness. I'm sure you've read similar statements all over the place, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it again: improving fitness takes time and work. Do you know how long it took me to get to the physical state I am in now? Almost thirty-one years and nine months. Therefore, I shouldn't expect to be able to reverse it all in a few weeks. And as much as I'd like it to be true, there isn't a product out there that will miraculously target all of the fat surrounding my midsection. Pretty much the only option there is some form of liposuction, which just isn't worth it, especially because it doesn't teach you to change the habits that put the fat there in the first place.

Anyway, off the soapbox. Strength training day today, and again I feel fantastic after finishing the workout. I am pretty sure I will stick with 12.5 pounds for most of the exercises when next week rolls around; I don't think bumping up to 15 would be very helpful just yet. Still, I'm thrilled to even be contemplating the idea of adding weight.

I'm most pleased with my increased ability to do push-ups, even in just about three weeks of exercising. With my routine as it is, I'm doing a total of 41 push-ups between three circuits. By the time I get to the next level in Power 90, I hope to be doing at least 50% more, with at least 90 total by the end of the next phase.

Oh, I found a great resource yesterday that I forgot to share. NextLevelFitnessTeam.com has workout sheets for many of Tony Horton's DVD programs here: http://nextlevelfitnessteam.com/workout-sheets/ As a result of looking at this page, I also realized that I have half of the Power 90 Master Series (Sculpt 5/6, Plyo Legs 5/6, and Sweat 5/6). When I originally bought the DVDs as part of a package, I didn't realize there were more to the series. I won't be ready for that phase until probably October at the earliest, but when I'm getting close I am thinking to purchase the ones I'm missing and use the Master Series as a bridge to P90X. We'll see how the money flow is at that time.

Now, I need to get some supper and prepare for work. Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keep it going!

What's this? Two blog posts in one day? Well, that's what happens when I exercise so late in the day. It's good for you, though, right?

Cardio and abs tonight, and it went better than it has been lately. I guess I could finally be getting used to the workout. That's encouraging. I've been finding out, though, that I might need different shoes for this workout. All I have by way of exercise shoes are my running shoes, and I think they're too tight for lateral movements (they work great for running in a straight line). My feet often get sore during the cardio workout, and I've gotten to the point that I take off my shoes after the initial stretch and power yoga routine. Unfortunately, I don't have funds for nice shoes right now, so I'm just going to put up with the situation as it stands.

I'm still noticing slight change to my overall body composition. My arms are a bit more defined, and I think my waist is trimming up ever so slightly. I'm looking forward to seeing continued progress. Eventually I'll even get around to getting some pictures posted on here.

Have a great night wherever you are. There's still time to squeeze in a quick workout before you go to bed!

A new week dawns...

Well, maybe "dawns" isn't quite the right word, seeing as I didn't get started on my workout until almost 11:30 PM (which is why this post isn't hitting the web until almost 12:30 AM Tuesday morning). I've been thinking about switching my workout time back to mornings after I get home from work, but with a sick wife and a 5-month-old that wants to play while his mommy is trying to take a nap, I've been busy playing nurse and daddy in the mornings. Additionally, I prefer to only shower once a day, shortly before going to work, so exercising after I get up as opposed to before I go to bed fits in with that schedule nicely.

It was strength training day again, and this week I've upped my weight to 12.5 pounds on every exercise, with the exception of 20 pounds for the standard bicep curls. Of great encouragement to me was being able to do 10 standard push-ups, 10 fly push-ups, and all 21 of the 7-7-7 push-ups (again modifying the narrow hands version by widening my foot stance).

I had to stop for a bit partway through the third circuit because I felt a bit sick. I'm not sure what the cause was. Not enough water before working out? Drinking too much too soon before the routine? Too much water during the session? Sleeping from 5 PM - 10 PM (rather than my normal 10 AM - 7 PM) and not eating enough before going to bed? Whatever it was, I took a break for a few minutes and the spell passed.

It's a new week. Get out there and do something with it. Happy exercising!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Closing in on the end of the week...

Finished my strength training session a little bit ago, and man, do I feel great! I know I've said it before, but it's amazing just how much better I feel after a workout, no matter how much I didn't want to do it in the first place. I was still sore from my workout last night, especially from the ab routine, and it would have been pretty easy for me to just skip tonight's exercises.

Once again, it feels great to see continued progress happening. I upped the weight from 10 pounds to 20 pounds on the standard bicep curls, and to 12.5 pounds for the open arm curls and the bicep 21's (the 21's are a three-part exercise; the first 7 reps you start with your arms straight and only curl up halfway; the second 7 reps you start in the middle of the curl movement and curl up to your shoulders; the third 7 reps are full curls).

There is also a push-up segment called 7-7-7 in the third circuit. For this you do 7 wide push-ups (hands about 9 inches wider than your shoulders), then 7 with your hands pretty much right below your shoulders, and finally 7 standard push-ups. The narrow push-ups are supposed to be done with your elbows staying in tight to your body, which is pretty difficult for me, likely from weak triceps. However, I modified the move tonight by keeping my feet wide (first time it occurred to me to do it this way; the modification they show in the video is resting on your knees rather than your toes).

Before I started my exercises tonight, I weighed myself, just out of curiosity. I wasn't all that surprised to see I was only down about a pound from a few weeks ago. The biggest factor for that is my diet. I've been reading in several places that cleaning up your diet will take care of 90% of your weight issues, and frankly I'm not so terribly disciplined just yet to keep track of that as I probably should. Being on an off-shift schedule makes it tough to do all that. In just under six weeks I will return to my evening shift, which will make it easier because my wife and I will be on the same eating schedule again, and then I can track for both of us.

Of course, weight isn't the only measure of success when it comes to fitness. I'm pretty sure I'm adding some muscle to my frame, and it'll probably take a while longer before my body figures out just what is going on and things balance out more. Depending on fat loss and muscle gain, I would be pleased with weighing anywhere from 185-210.

Well, I should clean up so I'm ready to eat when my wife has supper on the table. Keep up your own fitness regimen!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Got to it...finally!

Okay, just finished Cario/Abs. See, I told you I'd get it done this week! Now I just have to stay committed and do it on Saturday, too.

Small improvements here and there, nothing terribly exciting, but encouraging nonetheless. I don't totally feel like a beached whale when doing this routine, so that's something. It'll get easier with time...I just have to stick with it.

I hope you've managed to find time to do a little activity today. Hopefully you haven't been buried in snow like some of my friends in Minnesota. Last I saw, Rochester, MN had 16 inches. Well, no matter where you are, I hope you can find some enjoyment in what you are doing.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting strong now...won't be long now...

Okay, I am notoriously bad about doing my cardio exercises. I ended up not doing them yesterday; I was conveniently exhausted. I promise I will do them at least once this week.

It felt great to do my strength training routine tonight. One way to measure my gains is that I'm increasing the number of push-ups I can do. I'm not going to be winning any contests in the foreseeable future, but hey, I'm doing better than I was two weeks ago.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to take care of some household duties. It's amazing how much my wife does around here, and I sure feel it when she's sick and not able to keep up with the tasks she normally handles.