Sunday, June 9, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

I'm not a health nut. I'm not really into exercise. But I know what's good for me, and unfortunately exercise is one of those things.

A few years ago, in early 2010, I had hit 260 pounds and had such high blood pressure that my doctor warned me to NOT exercise as it might cause me to have a heart attack or something like it. I walked out of that appointment with a resolve to lose weight and improve my overall health - including exercise, even if it might kill me.

The first thing I did was start a very simple calorie-counting plan, in which I allowed myself 1600 calories per day - and I could eat anything I wanted as long as I kept it down to 1600. I did that for about a year, and lost 25 pounds. Around the end of that year, I decided I wanted to do something more proactively healthy, and so my wife and I started the South Beach diet. Nine months later, I had lost another 20 pounds, and was hovering around 215. I was also the thinnest I had been in about 10 years, and I looked pretty good. But I was still not exercising, and my muscles were weak. I also had no aerobic capacity, so that while I could manage a nice casual walk, I couldn't do more than a few levels of stairs before I was out of breath.

So, I started doing Tae-bo. I started at the Introductory workout, moved through the Basic workout and into Advanced, all over the course of about a year. I also gained 20 pounds back, and unfortunately it wasn't all muscle. My flabby gut had returned with a vengeance, to no small frustration on my part. And it seemed like no matter what I did, I was still gaining weight. Not only that, but I had hit a plateau where I just couldn't seem to improve my performance any further, and I was barely able to get through the Advance workout.

The weight gain started late in 2012, right around the start of the holidays, and continued into 2013 for a few months. After researching a few other exercise and diet plans, I decided at the advice of a friend to give P90X a try. I already knew it was an intense, 90-day program that would require me to workout 7 days a week, for an hour at a time. I knew it was going to be a big commitment. But I figured that I had nothing to lose but that extra weight I'd gotten back, and I might even get past the exercise plateau I'd hit with Tae-bo.

So, in mid-March, I started P90X. I am now starting week twelve, out of a total of thirteen weeks (91 days). The P90X program includes a nutrition plan that you're supposed to stick to, if you want to get the most benefit out of it. So far, I have managed to stick to both the 7-day exercise plan as well as the diet, with about a 95% success rate. I cheat about one or two meals per week, typically on my Friday evening "date night" with my wife when we go to a restaurant, and then maybe one other random time during the week. I never cheat on the exercises. And after eleven solid weeks, I feel great, and I look a lot better than I did at the start. My gut isn't entirely gone, but it has noticeably shrunk. My weight hasn't dropped much, but I have exchanged muscle for fat, and it shows.

I'm currently hovering around 235 pounds, only down 5 pounds from when I started in March. But like I said, I look and feel so much better than I did just three months ago, it's amazing to me. The program really does work. I'm not trying to sell anybody anything, just giving my testimony that it works.