Friday, August 5, 2016

Why I Decided to Lose Weight and Get In the Best Shape of My Life, and What I've Accomplished Since Then

I may have told this story before, but I thought I'd tell it again, because some of you may be wondering how I found P90x and the other  Beachbody programs I've tried over the years. This is a long post, so get comfortable ;)


In 2011, I started working for a company called Apptical (the same company I still work for today). Apptical asks people questions about their health to determine if they're eligible for different life and  health insurance products based on the underwriting guidelines for the different companies we work with. Some companies also ask us to check the client's prescription history.  One thing that I noticed is that several of these older people were taking multiple medications for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other things that can be prevented simply by making lifestyle changes. I knew I didn't want to end up like these people, taking multiple medications, or having to try different medications for problems I knew I could control on my own. I already take two medications for epilepsy, and that's enough for me. I had been exercising regularly at that time, and was at a decent weight, but I knew I could weigh a little less, and I also wanted to get a regular program where I was doing certain workouts on certain days. So I started researching different workout programs, and found one through Beachbody called P90x - some of you reading this know P90x alternates aerobic workouts with weight training workouts, and also throws some flexibility and stretching in there as well. The cost of the program was prohibitive for me at that time, but luckily I found out one of my family members had the P90x and Brazil Butt Lift workouts, so I got them from him and started using them.

Brazil Butt Lift

Brazil Butt Lift was the first program I tried - I wanted to try that first because it was a short program, and also because I didn't have all the equipment I needed to do P90x properly - I needed a chin-up bar and a few other things. For Brazil Butt Lift, I didn't need anything except a mat and weights.  When I first started, my rear end did have a bit of fat in it - I could tell because I could put a pencil under one of my butt cheeks and it would stay - if my rear end had been toned it wouldn't have been able to hold the pencil. So I did the program, which was about 3 or 4 weeks long, It consisted of some aerobics (I actually did my own aerobics workouts in place of their aerobics workouts because the constantly changing views confused me), as well as general strength training and workouts that specifically toned your glue muscles. And let me tell you, those glute workouts when I first started the program left my glue muscles HURTING afterwards - not to the point where I couldn't sit or anything, but I could definitely tell my glute muscles had been worked. Anyway, by the end of the Brazil Butt Lift workout, the pencil was dropping to the floor almost as soon as I put (or tried to put it ) under my butt cheek. I felt very encouraged and motivated by my success with this workout, so I decided to move on and try P90x


When I started P90x, one of the requirements was that you be able to do at least one pull-up - well I couldn't do one pull-up, but I started the program anyway. P90x consists of muscle toning workouts, as well as aerobics workouts and a few yoga and flexibility workouts. They have a few different schedules you can choose from, when I first started I chose the Lean Workout schedule, which combines a little bit of everything - strength, cardio, flexibility and Core Synergistics (Core Synergistics is a workout that works multiple muscles at the same time during the exercises). The emphasis in this workout is on cardio and flexibility, and less on strength. By the end of the Lean workout schedule, however I was able to actually start doing some chin-ups, which was a major win for me. I went through the Lean schedule a few times, then decided to switch to the Classic schedule, which has three days of cardio and flexibility, and three days of strength. I like this schedule better because it's more balanced.  The only workout schedule I haven't tried is Doubles, where you do both cardio and strength in one day - I don't have the time in my schedule for that one.

Since I've started doing P90x, my strength and flexibility have really improved. Here are some of the things I can do now because of P90x:

  • I can make it through the entire Ab Ripper X workout (this is a 15 minute all-mat ab workout that's part of P90x - when I started this workout I could only make it part-way through some of the exercises). 
  • I can do multiple chin-ups for some of the different chin-up and pull-up types. 
  • I can do push-ups on my toes (when I first started I could only do them on my knees).
  • I can do Dreya rolls (Dreya Rolls are an exercise in Core Synergistics where you have to get up from a sitting or laying down position without using your hands.) 

P90x Plus

After I'd been doing P90x for a while, I started to get bored with some of the exercises - I felt like I was ready for more of a challenge, but wasn't ready to try some of the other workouts that required more equipment than what I had. So I decided to try P90x Plus - this workout is actually an add-on workout to P90x (not meant to be done separately) that provides a few workouts that kick things up a notch because they use more muscle groups. The workouts in this program are  Upper Plus, Abs/Core Plus, Interval X Plus, Total Body Plus, and Kenpo Cardio. I have used these workouts in combination with some of the other workouts in P90x, and while I haven't seen any significant changes yet, I'm confident that I will if I keep using them. 

Les Mills Combat

This is the fourth Beachbody workout program I've tried. I tried this one because I was getting bored with P90x workouts, and because I love doing kickboxing. Most of the workouts focus on cardio, though they do have a few interval workouts that combine strength intervals with cardio. This workout has helped me improve my kickboxing moves, but other than that I haven't really seen any significant gains like I did from the other workouts. 

Ok, so I got off track a bit here talking about the different workouts I tried, and this turned into a bit of a review. Anyway, getting back to what I've accomplished since I got into the best shape of my life - I now have more energy, and can fit into clothing sizes that I can't remember the last time I was able to wear them - maybe when I was a teenager. I'm actually the same size as one of my relatives now, so I'm able to wear so of her clothes, which is great. Losing weight and getting in shape has also motivated me to make other changes in my life - I've been working for the past few years to try and start earning more writing from freelance writing, and have had some success with that. My ultimate goal is to get to where I can write full-time, so I don't have to work at the job I started in 2011, which although it pays well, is not very rewarding anymore. I'll be posting updates on this blog about how I'm doing with that, as well as how I'm doing with my other goals, so be sure to stay tuned for more updates! 

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