Friday, July 15, 2011

Competent Parent Gets in Shape

No, you are not mistaken. This blog remains just as toned and shapely as it ever was. The author, my friends, has taken on a personal fitness challenge. Warning for the squeamish, this post contains before and after pictures of the author sans chemise at the end. Back at the end of March, I started the P90X home workout program (the Lean version for those in the know). While I've always played sports, I've never worked out to work out. As such, I have never had one lick of muscle tone except maybe in my quads. Parenthood and emerging into my late 30s had conspired to pad me with a protective layer (apparently, my cells believe my stomach area faces grave dangers and needs the most protection).

P90X apparently markets the most through late night infomercials. I've never seen those, but I listen to a ton of sports radio, and their ads have joined the "divorce lawyers especially for men" ads on those airwaves. I'd been thinking about it for quite some time and had done some introductory research. Then my friend started P90X. One day, when I asked him if it had made a difference, he said he had triceps. When he flexed and invited me (doubting Thomas that I apparently seemed) to check for myself, I discovered that he had actual triceps. I said "I've got to get me some of those" and finally ordered the 12 DVD set.

This program is a grind. The 90 in the name is for 90 days. (The P is for Power and the X is for eXtreme. Oh yeah.) i proceeded to work out 60-90 minutes a day, six days a week for 90 days. People ask me if I lost weight, and I didn't lose that much. A classic workout fiend's mistake is eating too much because of all the calories you're burning. I probably did that, although over the course of P90X and the few weeks since I've finished, I've really paid a lot more attention to what I was eating because I didn't want to waste all of the early morning grunting and sweating I was doing. I did, however, lose inches in some places I wanted to and gained triceps and other actual muscles. My body didn't transform as miraculously as many of the before and after pictures I've seen, but I'm pleased with the progress.

It worked for me as a parent because as extreme as it was, I could actually fit it into my daily life. I bought dumbbells and resistance bands and a yoga mat, and I did it right in my basement. No traveling to and from the gym. After casting about for a rhythm, I settled on waking up at 5:30 am and knocking it out first thing. After a few weeks of adjustment, I experienced what other Xers talk about: a kind of P90X high, which is an energy boost that lasts throughout the day. Despite getting up so early, I napped far less than I usually do, even on weekends. Early on, I often fought sore muscles in places that had never been worked so hard before, but eventually that eased up

I would not have been able to do it without the experience of my friend who started a month ahead of me and a P90X coach who was a college friend of his. Tons of online resources and community (now all over facebook) help ensure against feeling like you're doing it alone. In addition to these supports, I had my boys for company, especially Teddy. He would get up early and come down and either watch or join in. It's pretty funny to see a four-year-old struggle with lame pushups (funnier than a 37-year-old doing the exact same thing, that is). One day, both boys did a shoulder/arm stretch (Karen pot stirrers, for those in the know) in the supermarket parking lot.

When my kids were smaller, I don't think I could have done this. A lot of parents seem to forgo exercise slowly or all at once. Then, a few years later, some emerge from their stage as parents of infants and toddlers to attempt to get back in shape. It felt good to take care of myself in this way, especially when I could figure out how to slot it into my life so as not to disrupt the already busy goings-on.

And now, for those threatened photos. Just before I started on the left and just after finishing on the right.


Paige said...

That's my guy!

Azure said...

Looking good! Perchance is there a high school reunion coming up? I know mine is in 2 weeks. Too bad I can't fit 90 workouts into 2 weeks.

JFo said...

Actually, there are 1-3 high school reunions coming up. I have two high schools and Paige has one. So far, the only one we're definitely attending is Paige's the first weekend of August.

And, not to worry. You'll knock your classmates' socks off.

Azure said...

Aw, thanks Jeff.

Lauren Jackson said...

Wow, congratulations! You kept it a secret. So what happens after the 90 days? Can you just keep going? Does it ease up a bit?

JFo said...

Lauren, they recommend some kind of maintenance program, and I've decided that for me, that's three workouts a week instead of 6. I took a little break and then started up with that, and it seems to be at least holding me in a steady state for now.
I plan to do another 90 days in the winter.