P90X Training Wheels

P90x Abs Workout can move you toward an exercise planIf you’ve talked about exercise at all in the past few years, we’d bet money someone has brought up P90X during your conversation. When you asked what it was, we’re betting you were regaled with tales of how difficult this workout is. “It is killer!” “Don’t worry if you can’t do all of it at first, it’s the hardest workout you’ll ever do!” “You’ll die doing it but it will make the biggest difference!”

You get the drift. And, if you’re anything like Sherry, you run away. Fast! She is a firm believer in not killing herself while exercising.

Brooke and Emma, however, were very interested in P90X  and kept reminding Sherry: if you want to ride the bike, you have to get on the bike (training wheels and all).  Someone swiped a pirated copy of P90X off of the internet to give it a try (we won’t tell you who because we have yet to find a decent cake that can be baked with a file in it).  The pirated copy gave us all a chance to try out this notoriously hellish workout regimen wherein the man who developed it talks at you continuously about how hard it is and takes you through his full week of routines. It’s not a bad workout except for three things: 1) Tony (the P90X guy) doesn’t stop yakking his sales pitch the entire time, 2) the guy doesn’t even do his own workout, and 3) it’s pretty much been developed for men and involves a lot of getting down on the floor and getting back up again.

So Tony starts out telling you how hard this workout is; how you probably won’t be able to keep up. Then he proceeds to sell you on the system you already just (allegedly) spent your good money on for the entire workout time.  We found that annoying. As he chatters at you in his annoying nasal voice, he continuously stops his workout to tell you to keep working out or to look at his helpers who are doing variations of his workout.  He doesn’t even do the entire workout! Sherry got so distracted by his avoiding his own workout she had to stop working out so she could count the number of times he didn’t really do what he was requiring us to do (well, that and she really needed to curl up in a fetal position and go to sleep a couple of times).  She’s correct – he doesn’t and it’s pretty annoying when you couple it with the thousands of times you will end up off-beat in the counts. You’ll think you’re a bigger mess than you thought until you figure out (credit Sherry again – she is willing to interrupt her exercise routine to analyze the tape) they have cut the tape in several places. Gone are the Denise Austin workouts of the 80s where Denise does the workout routine, doesn’t secretly stop the tape to get a break while making you work through it, and talks about funny stuff instead of pitching product sales. And check out the ladies he has selected to show you how to (not) do his continuous routine. They are buff and don’t really look like traditional curvy women. Everyone is doing a lot of “guy stuff” and there is a lot of get on the floor/now get up/now get down on the floor routines that feel very exercisus interruptus when it doesn’t really have to be so. Why not get on the floor, do all of the floor stuff, then get your butt up and do the stand-up stuff?

So why, after previewing P90X, did Brooke purchase the entire workout system?  Well, because it works. Tony has some very good ideas.  First, you do something different every day. This is great because you end up with a very comprehensive workout system and the only thought you have to put into it is: What day is today?   Second, despite its being annoying you will actually get an excellent workout. (Sherry insists Denise Austin is equally excellent so we tried her old tapes and Denise does an excellent job that is more tailored to women. You really have to work to hold in your laughter resulting from views of the 80s style workout gear Denise wears which, we guess, is good for strengthening your core. ) Third, it works if you stick with it. Much of what annoying guy does includes reps of extremely short routines that even Sherry has a tough time working up a moan against because it’s done and you’re moving on to something else before you get to the moan. This means a much more effective workout because you do stick with it. Who can argue that they can’t do this or that for 30 seconds?  So it gets done.  Fourth, if you really don’t like what is being served up on a particular day – you can switch things up and take a Denise Austin day without feeling like you messed up your routine. Fifth, the abs workout. We’re going to give you this because it really works to strengthen your core and give you a nice waist. And it only takes 15 minutes of your time! Tony says to do it every other day to give your body a chance to recover.  If you try this abs workout and love it – you’ll probably want to explore getting the entire workout system.

The Abs Workout  (do 25 reps of each move)

  1. Ins-N-Outs – sit on the floor with your hands slightly behind you and legs extended forward. With feet off the floor, bring your knees up to your chest and straighten them back out (feet still up off floor) and hold for a few seconds. Extend your legs again. That is one rep.
  2. Bicycle  – sitting in the same position (feet off the floor and extended) pump your legs in a circular motion as if you are riding a bike. One full rotation is a rep.
  3. Reverse Bicycle – sitting in the same position (feet off the floor) pump your legs in a reverse circular motion as if you are making the bike go backwards. One full rotation is a rep.
  4. Crunchy Frog – still sitting on the floor get into the same semi-reclined position as for ins-n-outs except your arms will be held out in the air as if you are holding a great big ball. Bring your legs and chest together while simultaneously hugging your arms around your legs. Return to the original semi-reclined position. That is one rep.
  5. Wide Leg Sit Ups with Counter Stretch – Lie down and spread your legs to shoulder width. Work to keep the flat of your back on the floor.  With one hand behind your head, sit up (reaching straight out with the other hand), stretch to touch the toe opposite your outstretched hand. Lie down.  Repeat while alternating hands and legs. One up and down is one rep.
  6. Scissors – Lie flat on your back and extend one leg straight and the other leg up in the air (feet flexed and as straight as possible). Hold the position for 3 seconds. Switch leg positions. When the original foot is back in the air, you have completed one rep.  
  7. Foot Prayers – Lie flat on your back and press the soles of your feet together in the air. With your arms at your sides (for balance) rock your hips and lift your “foot prayer” up to heaven. Lower back down (do not touch your feet to the ground).  This is one rep.
  8. Heels to Heaven – Still flat on your back, extend your legs straight up in the air with your feet flexed. Work to keep your body at a 90 degree angle while pushing the heels of your feet up toward the ceiling (this will raise your hips up toward the ceiling also). Hold for a count of three and release. This is one rep.
  9. V Snaps – Lie down flat. Keeping your bottom on the ground, bring your head and your legs up into a position that looks like a V (arms straight ahead or up over your head). Push your head and legs toward each other (the snap) and release. Each snap is a rep.
  10. Leg Climbers – Lie on your back. Bring your legs up so your feet are still on the floor but near your bottom. Extend one leg in the air toward the ceiling. Keeping your extended leg stable, use your hands to “climb” up your leg and touch your toe and then “climb” back down your leg until you are lying back down. Do this 12 times for each leg – you get a break of one rep because you made it this far.
  11. Kayaker – Sit with your legs extended. Bring your legs off the floor by about 3 inches (you can bend your knees if your wish) and interlace your fingers and twist your body over to one side. Touch the floor and twist to the other side to touch the floor (feels a bit like you’re paddling a kayak). Twisting back and forth touching your knuckles to the ground each time.  Each time you are back at your original side, you have completed one rep.
  12. Stretch 1 – Lie down on your back and extend your arms over your head. Try to touch one wall with your feet while trying to touch the other wall with your hands. (Love this stretch!)
  13. Stretch  2 – (in yoga this is called the Child’s Pose) get on your knees.  Fold yourself over until your forehead is touching the floor and your bottom is touching your heels.. Your hands relax at your sides. Relax.

And you’re done!

(Don’t Be) Fat Like Me

Hips-to-Waist Measure can help after Satan Diet and Cupcake Time DietOkay, our culture always tells us we’re fat. Or flat. Or something else is wrong with our bodies.  You find yourself calculating your BMI (3 different ways), standing on the scales, and measuring everything. But what does it mean? How do you compare yourself to normal when everybody has a different normal standard?  Maybe you’re fat by one measure but in the okay range by another.  So confusing!

We think everyone should choose a measure and stick with it.  Do you feel that your weight in no way reflects whether you’re looking good or not? Don’t do it!  Calculate your BMI instead. Or, as an alternative, you can do a quick calculation of your hips-to-waist ratio.  A normal woman should have a hip to waist ratio of about .70 and studies show that when a man sees a woman walking down the street, this is the woman he will deem most attractive. But society tells us that’s fat.  When asked what hip-to-waist ratio is desirable, women come up with an answer closer to .50 and men tend to agree if they’re viewing silhouettes of women.  For some reason, women have been lead to believe the optimal .70 ratio is bad for them. In reality, the .70 ratio is what women need to correctly regulate their hormonal cycles.

Runners, gymnasts, dancers, and other unusually active women will often sport the svelte <.50 look – and their cycles will stop. We’re betting you’ve enviously gazed at one of these women at one time or another and wished you were there. Stawwp! Over thin is not healthy.

Let’s do this together.  Take a measuring tape and measure your hips and your waist. Now, using your favorite calculator, enter waist/hips = hip-to-waist ratio. What’s yours?

Brooke’s is good. Sherry’s is too! Thanks to the Satan Diet and our newly developed Cupcake Time Diet she has lost enough weight to put her in the range of this measure!  A healthy female body should be in the range of .65  – .85.  Anything above the .85 is too fat and anything below the .65 is too thin for optimal female health.  Dieting can help bring weight up or down but who wants to diet for their entire lives? Not us!

 Non-Dieting Lifestyle Choices To Maintain a Healthy Weight

 

  • Drink Water. It is amazing to really take stock of what you drink and how it impacts your weight. Many of us drink juices, milk, smoothies, sodas, and alcohol; never even thinking of drinking a glass of water. Figure out how you like yours – hot, warm, cold, with lemon, with cucumbers, or naked – and drink that water!  Water flushes your body of toxins, carries unneeded calories out of your body, and keeps you feeling full. Drinks full of sugar and/or caffeine work against your plans for a healthy, happy body. Alcohol may make you happy but eventually you’ll have to sober up and see what it did you.

 

  • Eat.  And you thought we’d say don’t eat. No way! You need to eat; just be choosy in what you choose to eat. Ditch the refined sugars (again) and load up on fresh vegetables and tasty fruits while watching your portions on breads, meats, and dairy and your body will respond by treating you to good health and (eventually) a body that hits the hip-to-waist ratio goal. Eat three meals a day or six – it’s really up to you as long as you remember to Not eat six meals that are the same size as the three meal deals.

 

  • Use Weights in Your Exercise Routine. Cardio is great for your heart and circulatory systems. Weight training breaks down stored muscle glycogen so it actually helps you to burn carbs faster than the couch potato (who would really be a potato – carbs; get it?)  Make sure you mix it up and get a little of both.

 

  • Don’t Pig Out.  Want a piece of cake? Have one. Just be sure you don’t overdo it. And never ever ever use food to make you feel better.  Anger eating, bored eating, stress eating, and sad eating need to become mere memories. It’s hard. We know it’s hard! And we still slip into stress/bored eating on occasion. But replacing emotional eating with healthier coping skills will make you a better, thinner person in no time.

Once we figured out how to make the Cupcake Time Diet work, we started doing this. Did we still have a few days when the Peanut M&Ms won? You bet. But it’s all part of the learning curve. And although we’ve struggled with having to eat vegetables and reminding ourselves to use our support person (instead of a cake) to make it through a bad day, we are learning! And if we can do it – we are confident you can (because we can be very stubborn when it comes to learning healthy eating habits).

Stand on the scale, calculate your BMI, and compute your hips-to-waist ratio one last time – decide which is the best measure for you – and enjoy the rest of your day!

A Bird’s Tale

Your Dreams Can Come TrueWhen Sherry was a little girl, she really really wanted to catch a robin.  She has no idea what she would have done with said robin once the capture was complete yet she wanted one nonetheless. Her mom told her the secret to catching a wild bird and we’re going to share that with you.   If you want to catch a bird, you have to get close enough to put salt on its tail. With this small bit of (misleading) wisdom in hand, she armed herself with the salt shaker and a crystal perfume bottle that made high  pitched, bird-like noises and spent a great deal of her summer hiding the lilac bush waiting for an unwary bird to fall into her well set trap.  Parents can be so evil.

Sherry would wait and watch from her covert position. When she became impatient, she would spring out of the bushes at the nearby birds – only to have them fly away. Then she began to carefully and quietly attempt to approach birds, salt shaker in hand but hidden behind her back (she gave birds much more credit than they deserve) but the birds would always spot her and fly away. The waiting quietly in the bushes activity was hot, sticky, and quite a drag. No birds ever landed on her lilac bush or even close enough for her to apply the salt. She even tried praying since she heard that might work – God was on the side of the birds. After a few days of crouching amongst the leaves of her pathetic bird blind, this thought came to her: If you can get close enough to the bird to put salt on its tail, that bird can be caught because it’s dead or disabled. She abandoned her effort, returned the salt shaker to the kitchen, and quietly snuck the perfume bottle back to her mother’s dresser. But she never ever forgot her intense desire to get close enough to a wild bird to put salt on its tail.

Dreams are like that. They can elude your every move and rob you of play time. Old adages are like that, too. Many of them are written as a conundrum and the riddle can leave you befuddled as you look for that corner in the round room. Moms are like that. We think they just sometimes need a break and one child out in the lilac bushes waiting for a bird to fly by is a pretty nice break on a lazy summer day.  And God always seems to be on the side of the birds.

Life moves on and your dreams fade as you enter new phases of your life. But sometimes…sometimes…  you remember that dream on an unexpected day. Like today.

The bird in this picture is one that was sitting on a rock as Brooke and I took our daily walk in the park. Brooke noted in the surprise how a baby robin did not move as we passed the rock.  We stopped and looked at this little robin standing stock still and appearing to gaze out over the lake. We laughed that it was probably watching the new baby ducks frolic.  Our dogs politely sniffed the bird’s bottom. It did not move from it’s military stance. We named it Hitler and took a few pictures of it.  Darn, I’d left my salt shaker at home! So we got a branch and tried to coax it to hop into the underbrush so he would be hidden from predators. Hitler would move his legs and flap his wings a little but was very firm on his Stand Your Ground policy.  We think he may have taken a tumble and had a concussion or something.

We left that stoic little robin standing atop his rock gazing out at the pond and Sherry was happy to finally have been close enough to put salt on a bird’s tail. This time we hoped there was a God out there somewhere who was really on his side.