Monthly Archives: March 2016

P90 Week 5

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Looking at my 30 day progress pictures, I saw some definite improvements, especially in my back and upper midsection. Something that I didn’t directly notice in the pictures yet saw in my daily life was that my biceps and triceps are more hard and defined, and my legs are a lot harder and sturdier. Plus, as is the case with consistent exercise, my face appears less puffy as well.

Sculpt B has proven itself to still be one of my favorite workouts of all time, because it’s both classic and progressive, incorporating old school routines like classic curls and 7/7/7 curls from Tony’s original Power 90, while also invoking P90X3-esque routines like balance curls and push-up+side arm balances (aka “The Crab Special”, a name that made me more hungry than anything else. Yes, I know it’s treif.). What I also like about it is that the entire routine can be done with dumbbells so, unless you prefer it, you can do rocket rows with dumbbells.

Sweat B is a definite improvement over its Month A predecessor, making its moves slightly more complex by adding on extra twists (i.e. downward strikes + sprawls instead of just sprawls). Plus, seeing Maddy strike and kick her way through this routine not only motivates me to keep up with her, but she also reminds me of Alice (aka “Pain in the Alice”) from P90X3, who proved herself to be nothing short of a bonafide badass in routines like The Challenge and MMX. The major downside of this lies not in the moves themselves, but within Tony’s incessant need to copy the modifying performer’s English accent. Ugh. As for Ab Ripper B, I’ll be honest…I didn’t do it. I don’t really have the time to add ab routines on top of 35+ min routines (though I should), but it’s basically Ab Ripper A with some added moves.

I also sampled the 22 Minute Hard Corps Cardio 1 workout, which absolutely kicked my ass but it was over in practically no time. It’s basically repeated sets of moves like step-back lunges, side-to-side lunges, and (holy &%$!)…burpees. Lots of burpees. I can tell this is going to be fuuuuunnnnn.

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P90 Week 4 / “Month A” Review

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And so ends Month A. How I hardly knew thee.

I’ll miss you all…Jim, with your ripping 61-year-old biceps putting my 26 year-old twigs to shame, Stella (STELLAAAAA!!!) with your awesome Lara Croft braid and your horrible, horrible form (though mine isn’t much better), Christy with your refusal to do anything Tony says, and of course, Dakota. No matter if I’m going north, south, east, or west…you’ll always be in my heart. Because your “advanced” level shenanigans inspired me to crank up my heart rate.

So yeah, I got through it. I did very little Sweat A + Ab Ripper A, but that’s ok because I did most of my Sculpt A workouts and substituted cardio with yoga sessions, which made me sweat like Chris Christie on stage with Donald Trump. Here are my thoughts on the workouts:

Sculpt A

Like I had mentioned in a previous post, I have never been a weightlifting guy. I think that stems from the fact that I was always overweight growing up and a lot of what helped me (temporarily) lose weight was running and other forms of cardio. That, and I always assumed the sole purpose of lifting weights was to get you big. It’s not. It’s prolonged calorie burn, and like Tony says during lunges (in a voice so flamboyant it makes Richard Simmons sound like Arnold): “BURNING SENSATION! Which means calories are burning, which means you’re gonna lose weight and look good.”

Sculpt A is an awesome and accessible introduction for people who have never so much as lifted a dumbbell yet will still provide one hell of a challenge. It’s a total body workout that includes both isolating moves (standard curls, swimmer’s presses, pulldowns) and moves incorporating the multiple areas (rocket launcher kickbacks, weighted kayak lunges, Sawyer chin pulls). You do 16 reps per move, take a break midway, then do slightly harder versions of those same moves. For instance, you’d start with half pushups in the first round, then start with walking half pushups in the second round. Overall, it’s a quick yet effective calorie burner that novices and pros alike will get a lot out of.

Sweat A

As I’ve said, Tony isn’t a big cardio guy. Shaun T just straight up annihilates him when it comes to cardio workouts, while Tony offers more in terms of resistance (two sides of the same ridiculously shredded coin). So, while it has its moments that I got a lot out of (particularly its MMA moves), this workout really didn’t do it for me. Not because it was too easy, because it did make me work up a sweat, but because it just kind of bored me. It’s one of those “have to” workouts that I ultimately ended up substituting yoga in its place. I prefer cardio set to a rhythm, which is why Les Mills COMBAT is and will most likely remain one of my favorite home workout programs of all time. It’s rhythmic, fun, energetic cardio that keeps you moving because it’s set to a musical tempo. Here, the background music serves just as that: background noise. Not terrible by any means, but not particularly motivating either. I say try it out a few times, and if you like it, great. If not, do something that makes you giddy as a [something giddy] to work out.

Ab Ripper A

This is actually where Sweat A improves a bit, with its immediate followup of Ab Ripper A. This 8 minute core routine, if done correctly, will make your midsection sore and make you feel like you put in genuine work. All of it is floor work, though, so if you’re a standing abs kind of person, then you’re out of luck. Thankfully it’s relatively quickly, and as someone who HATES working his abs, I’ve been through more torturous routines.

Saturday Special

This is a P90X3 workout.

Okay, it’s not, but since this weekend workout has a time length of 30 minutes and the fact that it will make you sweat a ton (and whine a little) by its end puts it in the same category as Accelerator or anyother X3 cardio routines. It’s fast-paced cardio and abs (standing and floor) that puts you to work for half an hour but makes you work. It’s one of those “hate it but I love it” workouts that is a challenge no matter what month you’re on, because you can always go faster or intensify your moves. Definitely an improvement over Sweat A for sure.

So yeah, this was a good month and I’m already noticing myself slimming down and fitting into jeans that were too tight a month ago. Up next is Month B…

BUT.

The peer pressure of Facebook has proven itself too much for me, as I have been invited to participate in a #SummerStrong fitness challenge group. This means that beginning April 4th, I will be committing 60 days to Tony Horton’s brand new military-inspired fitness program 22 Minute Hard Corps in lieu of the second half of Month B, all of Month C, and the first half of P90X3 Month 1. My reasoning is simple: I get to satiate my desire to try this (really cool-looking) program out and get a free t-shirt at the end. What I may do to appease my OCD desire to finish P90 is to create some weird hybrid of the two, but we’ll see.

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P90 Week 3

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Greetings, nonathletes!

So, despite my initial determination to complete as full and unadulterated a P90 calendar as possible, I’ve realized how much I actively dislike Sweat A + Ab Ripper A and have instead opted to switch in yoga workouts instead, making this a strength training + yoga hybrid for the time being.

This past week, I did the following workouts:

Mon: P90X3 Yoga + P90 Sculpt A

Tues: P90X3 Yoga

Wed: Rested

Thurs: P90X3 Dynamix – A dynamic stretch routine co-developed by Olympic athlete Malachi Davis.

Fri: Moving heavy boxes (yep, counting it as a workout)

Sat: Yoga Booty Ballet Pure and Simple Yoga – Hey, don’t knock it till you try it. As silly as its name is, it’s an ass-kicker.

Sun: PiYo Sweat – To make up for Wednesday (and a Saturday of St. Patrick’s Day festivities), I tried the BOD sample workout of Chalene Johnson’s PiYo program.

This week, I’m reincorporating more of Sculpt A to not only reintroduce my body to resistance training, but also to adequately prepare myself for next month’s Sculpt B workouts. I’m particularly excited about this since I feel Sculpt B is one of the best resistance workouts I’ve ever done. On the remaining days, I’ll alternate between various BOD yoga routines and make sure one of them has cardio, so ideally, PiYo Sweat or Jericho McMatthews’ Half & Half cardio + yoga BOD workout.

I’m really excited about pushing my body further with the relaxing yet challenging and sweat-inducing power of yoga and the adrenaline rush of lifting iron and cranking out pushups and pulldowns.

Whatever it is you’re doing (or thinking about doing), “do your best and forget the rest.”

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Review: Silver Linings Playbook (2013)

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*originally posted 5.10.2013 on my old WP blog*

The latest purchase I made from the big red machine known as Redbox was Silver Linings Playbook, and yes, I know I am late to this one. And I’m not sure why, given I’ve really enjoyed The Fighter and I♥ Huckabees, two of director David O. Russell’s previous films (or maybe it’s just the inclusion of Mark “Everything I Say is a Question” Wahlberg). But instead of Marky Mark, we have the equally talented Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Limitless) taking the lead with Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) starring opposite.

Since The Hangover, I’ve always appreciated Bradley Cooper, but he’s had the misfortune of playing the typical bravado-laced pretty boy throughout most of his career. His role as Pat Solitano, Jr., however, allowed him to show us he can be vulnerable, unhinged, volatile, and stubbornly determined despite any form of reason telling him to stop. He has goals to legitimately improve his life after being released from a mental hospital, and will stop at nothing to achieve them. What really rings home about Pat’s struggle is that we’ve all been there: We may have all not been in mental facilities (yet), but our lives have all taken turns for the worse at some point. But it’s those who create their own silver linings playbooks and get right back up that find true success and happiness. In this way, one could argue Pat Solitano, Jr. is the embodiment of the American dream (it’s no coincidence this story takes place in Philadelphia with eagle symbolism scattered throughout). Does he always do the right thing? Of course not. It wouldn’t be an interesting story if he did, and it wouldn’t be accurate either.

Pat eventually meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), his friend/coworker Ronnie’s sister-in-law, at the most awkward dinner party in recent memory (but thanks to their conversation, I now know which depression meds to take and to pitch). She’s edgy, visibly broken, and obviously still attached to her spouse, an obvious perfect fit for Pat. What makes Tiffany so interesting is that she is Pat’s first real challenge outside of his own little bubble, and he hers. In addition to their commonality (his wife Nikki has a restraining order against him, her cop husband was killed an accident), their friendship provides the material for the both of them to grow.

This is seen primarily in the second-half plot device in which Tiffany agrees to give Nikki Pat’s love letter if Pat enters a dance competition with her. Is it typical of the romantic comedy subgenre? Of course, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary and in its own way unique. Pat thinks Tiffany is simply a necessary step toward reconnecting with his wife, and Tiffany thinks Pat, at first anyway, is just one of the many sex-hungry guys she’s encountered since her husband’s death. Thanks to easily the best performance of Lawrence’s career so far, these two feel like one of the most “believable” couples put on screen in a long while, and one we can actually root for and not just  gloss over the way many are handled in most mass-marketed romcoms.

What really made me fall in love (joke unintended) with the film as a whole were pretty much all of the supporting characters. Jacki Weaver plays Dolores, a mother who is unconditionally supportive of her son but not afraid to tell it like it is, even when that means butting heads with Pat, Sr. Robert De Niro has been on an odd streak of supporting roles for the past decade, and honestly this might be my favorite of them. I can’t help but admire his character’s continual tough guy Italian bookie act, even though he’s 65 and feeling the brunt of the recession. That and his OCD-esque fixation with the Philadelphia Eagles, particularly his belief that Pat, Jr. is some kind of good luck charm to help them win, actually serves to bring them closer together, leading to a sincere and touching couple of moments between the two.

Outside of the family, Pat has Ronnie (John Ortiz) and Danny (Chris Tucker), a fellow patient from the mental hospital. These two don’t particularly provide anything thematically deep, rather just fun, hilarious performances and constant reminders that Pat is not alone. This is Tucker’s first on-screen appearance in years, and he doesn’t go absolutely Rush Hour on us, nor does he just phone it in. He gives a genuinely awesome portrayal of a man, like Pat, who needed help, got it, and is picking himself back up.

Perhaps his most important non-familial relationship, however, comes from his psychistrist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher), who might honestly be both the coolest and the worst psychiatrist I’ve ever seen since Michael Fassbender played Carl Jung. He seems to consistently give Pat good advice but maintains a strong presence in his life outside of the doctor’s office, even going so far as to being involved with bet on Pat winning the dance competition during the film’s third act. This, of course, is forgivable given the ridiculous face paint we see him wearing at the Eagles game. Seriously, Dr. Patel is awesome.

Through this fantastic entry in his filmography, David O. Russell has proven yet again to be one of the most important writer-directors working today. He put his own personal spin on such a tired subgenre much like he did with his Micky Ecklund boxing biopic The Fighter (which yes, I will get around to discussing as well), providing a story and characters that no one can forget. Silver Linings Playbook is seriously one of my favorite new movies, and one I could honestly watch dozens upon dozens of times without getting tired of it. This gets a solid recommendation from me, and will soon be the silver lining of my Blu-ray collection…See what I did there?

Score: 9/10

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P90: Week 2

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Greetings, Nonathletes!

Confession: This week was about the same in the diet department: not great but not terrible (speaking of which, Ruffles All Dressed chips are amazing), and I ended up not working out Wednesday and Friday. So instead, I did a less than stellar Amazon.com free yoga workout Saturday morning in addition to Joel Freeman’s 8×8 workout on Beachbody OnDemand that night (I highly recommend it – 22 minutes of HELL on your legs and biceps).

Today, to make up for last week and to kick off Week 3 just right, I did the P90X3 Yoga routine right before today’s P90 Sculpt A, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I have greatly improved at yoga! Despite not having done any yoga workouts lately, I attribute my new strength to two things: (1) The vinyasas at the beginning of every P90 workout and (2) The insane leg strength I’ve developed thanks to Sculpt A 3 days a week. Speaking of improved strength – when I started P90, I was doing max 50 lbs during pulldown exercises and 35 lbs on tricep pulldowns. As of today, I can now do 70 and 50 lbs respectively.

Between that and the physical toning I’m noticing, I’d say I’m not off to a bad start. If I’m able to, I’d like to do yoga 2-3 times a week in addition to my normal routine to make sure my flexibility is on point. I’m still liking the program and I’m glad to finally be halfway done with Month A.

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