Category Archives: Uncategorized

Feeling Awesome

nacGreetings, Nonathletes!

I just wanted to check in despite the madness that is my life to report that I have gone two weeks without having a drink and one week without any excess sugar. I know my last post made it sound like I was in a pretty bad place, and I was, don’t get me wrong. But as I’m typing this, it’s 7 AM and I just made a bowl of oatmeal (oats, cinnamon, and a banana) and a cup of lemon jasmine green tea, watching the sunrise from my apartment window. The worst of the sugar cravings have subsided (though last night I did nosh a bit on some sweet potato chips and dark chocolate almonds), and I don’t even want to drink.

I just feel so…energized. I’m a different person when I’m not sedentary, when I’m not drinking or eating badly. I feel happy to be alive, and lucky to be able to celebrate the wonders of the human body through exercise. I feel lucky to have proper dietary tools at my disposal. And the best part? I’m lucky to have a platform to help share my thoughts, ideas, and health+fitness knowledge (limited as it may be) with all of you.

In addition to my dietary cleanup, what’s been keeping me energized lately is that I have been super consistent with my workouts! I’ve only missed one in the past two weeks, and that was due to some pretty bad exhaustion and being unable to do it as soon as I got home from work. I’ve been doing Month 2 of Shaun T’s Hip-Hop Abs, which was the first Beachbody home workout I ever attempted (in 2007). I only had the month one DVD at the time, and thanks to BOD, I can now stream the month two workouts and the bonus workouts as well (yesterday’s “Last Minute Buns” really came in handy as I was rushing to prepare for work).

And yesterday, I finally tried a Cize workout (“Crazy 8s”). Cize is like Hip-Hop Abs, except instead of it being just an aerobics routine set to hip-hop beats, it’s an applied dance aerobics workout. And unlike Hip-Hop Abs and other Beachbody workouts, Cize isn’t just a weight loss routine (though the calorie burn I experienced was off the chain): It’s also a dance tutorial. You learn actual moves, actual choreography, and you repeat those moves and piece them all together at the end set to (a cover of) a top 40 song. I love that. It’s teaching me an applied, disciplined skill in addition to getting a kickass workout.

Thanks for reading, and whatever journey you’re on, remember this: you’re not facing it alone.

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TurboFire Initial Impression

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This week, I decided to finally test out Chalene Johnson’s cardio conditioning program TurboFire through Beachbody On Demand (BOD).

 

And after trying the intro workout Fire Starter and the faster-tempo Fire 45 EZ, I have to say that this it’s proving to be a challenge. Not only is this a nonstop cardio assault along the lines of LES MILLS COMBAT (R.I.P.), but the choreography is also much more complex. It takes numerous tries to perfect the jab/cross/kick/etc. combos Chalene throws at me, and even once I did the moves in the right order, I did them so many times that my form began to fail. I couldn’t even finish Fire 45 EZ (which I blame on not enough breakfast), but I did enough to get a solid sweat and I made up for it with a 3-mile walk during my lunch break.

I also really like Chalene’s energy and enthusiasm. I can tell why Beachbody has produced so many workouts with her – she’s inspirational without being overly peppy, she’s motivating without being a drill sergeant, and she knows how to make my uncoordinated ass feel normal as I dance and kick like I’m off my meds. Seriously, those speedbag hip-gyrating moves and those impromptu borderline-twerk sessions are a bit awkward for a 26 year-old man to be doing in his apartment gym, but life’s too short for a sense of shame.

I’m really looking forward to sampling the other workouts and combining them with some of the others on BOD (and Les Mills OnDemand), maybe throwing in some weightlifting again. We’ll see!

Review: Repulsion (1965)

Originally posted on ForcedViewing.com

To me, Roman Polanski will always be famous for 3 things: (1) Making awesome and unsettling movies set in close, uncomfortable quarters. (2) Doing that one really, really awful thing. Like seriously, holy shit… (3) Influencing Nicki Minaj’s pseudonym of Roman Zolanski. While I could (and should) gush about the horror aspects of her verse on Kanye West’s “Monster” (and the whole song, really), that’s a discussion for another time. Instead, allow me to take the time to adequately talk about one of Polanski’s less-discussed masterpieces, Repulsion.

This film, similar to the other two films in Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” (with Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant), is the story of a young woman driven to insanity within her own small living quarters. This insanity is caused by two main factors: Her sense of claustrophobia, and her warped idea of sexuality. The latter is partially caused by her sister Helen, who makes passionate love to her lover Michael night after night in the next room, loud enough for Carole to hear every moan, every orgasm. Polanski would use sound (or lack thereof) to the film’s benefit many times throughout the movie, one scene in particular I’ll discuss below.

This not only exacerbates Carole’s claustrophobia by placing her in an environment in which she cannot escape, but it also subconsciously fuels her distaste of men, and therefore disallows her to have a meaningful relationship with the opposite gender. Once Helen and Michael leave for a holiday, one would imagine that her claustrophobia would settle. However, it only worsens, for when a woman with Carole’s warped mentality is left to her own devices, only the worst could happen. *Insert evil laugh here*

Much like Rosemary’s Baby, the first 30 minutes of Repulsion are not particularly frightening, and that is purposeful. Polanski knew how to create the perfect horrific atmosphere: by making the audience relatively comfortable, only to violently shake them out of that comfort zone. However, unlike Rosemary’s Baby, this film possesses a few more jump scares, which would go on to become a major tenet of modern horror films. This is first seen when Carole begins having intense hallucinations, beginning with the random cracks in the wall, symbolic of Carole’s fragile mentality: at any moment, her once-sturdy walls could crack apart with enough provocation. Man, I’m getting deep today.

Carole’s provocation comes with the even more intense hallucination of the hands and the rape dreams (Yeahhh, awkward, Polanski…). The hands themselves were creepy enough, protruding from the wall attempting to fondle Carole and fueled by her hatred of males. The rape dreams were also intensely frightening, albeit in a much different way. An overweight, sloppy man gets into bed and rapes her, and there is no audio of the event happening at all. This goes beyond Carole’s own distrust of males, for this is a scene that reflected the act of rape itself: an immobilizing and silencing experience.

Carole’s hallucinations do not stay in her mind, however, for two males enter her apartment on different occasions: her ex-boyfriend and her landlord. This is symbolic as well, for by entering her apartment, her walls crumbled down even more, showing what can be seen as an “invasion” of sorts, at least from the point of view of our protagonist. Her ex Colin enters the apartment because he loves her and he wants to know why she’s upset, whereas the landlord is presented as a predator, sensing isolation and loneliness in his prey. Once he enters the apartment, we see him as a stereotypical asshole landlord, but once he sees how beautiful Carole is and that she’s alone, he attempts to make moves on her by softening his voice and getting to know her. He then states that she can forget about paying the rent if she “spends some time” with him. Let’s just say things don’t end too well for either of these guys.

I would say Repulsion is actually one of my favorite horror movies. I prefer entries in the genre with more subtle scares and mindfucking elements as opposed to pure slasher flicks (though the subgenre of slasher is objectively wonderful), and this film is a true example of “apartment” and psychological horror. While not as terrifying as, say, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, it’s still a very creepy, unnerving delve into the mind of a mentally unhinging isolated individual and absolutely must be seen.

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 1

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P90 may be called the “on switch to fitness” for people who haven’t worked out in a long time (or ever), but as someone who’s dabbled with INSANITY, P90X and X3, I can safely say that P90 is definitely a challenging program…if you make it challenging.

Any fitness expert could easily dog his way through this stuff and not get anything out of it. But by upping your speed, weights, squat and lunge depth, and overall intensity, you can make this legitimately hard to finish, especially if you focus on your overall weaknesses.

Case in point: I opted for the Sculpt calendar (3 days lifting, 3 days cardio) because I’ve always been more of a cardio man. I recognize that I need more lifting in my life to prevent bone and joint issues, to burn calories longer, and to be an overall stronger and fitter person. But what I’ve realized is that I actually enjoy Sculpt A more than Sweat A + Ab Ripper A. Maybe it’s due to the fact that deep down, even the most cardiophilic of men still have a primal desire to lift heavy things and put them down. Regardless, it’s still a fun butt-kicker of a workout. Sweat A + Ab Ripper A are nice, but Tony Horton is an admitted cardiophobe, so while you will sweat (I should hope so, it’s in the title), it probably won’t be the most fun you’ve had working out.

In terms of my diet (the REAL challenge), I have been very healthy and on top of my vitamins and water intake, but I will fully admit I could use a bit more discipline and order in the food department (pizza and wings were had this week, and that’s all I will say…also, pineapple and green peppers go very well together).

Still, not bad for my first week.

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Update and thoughts on Les Mills COMBAT so far

So sorry for the absence! It’s been a hectic past couple of weeks, but rest assured I have been getting my workouts in except for 3 days when I was out of town at a convention, busy as heck and low energy. However, I’m back on track with COMBAT and currently doing a 3 day Shakeology cleanse to kickstart my nutrition back up. I also have a cold though, so working out has been the LAST thing I want to do, but I’ve been pushing play anyway.

So, I have to say that Les Mills COMBAT might honestly be what my Beachbody Coach calls a “soulmate” workout: a program that you actually kind of look forward to doing on a daily basis. I thought INSANITY was my soulmate workout, but I just don’t really have the same passion for it that I do for COMBAT. I keep saying this, but I just love the sense of control and power it inspires without wearing me down mercilessly or taking up a ton of my time. I’m most likely going to be doing a Les Mills PUMP-COMBAT hybrid this fall, which I’m really looking forward to even though I don’t love PUMP quite as much as COMBAT. I’m confident the addition of more weights will be good for my body. Hell, I might just do a P90X-COMBAT hybrid instead. Hmmm, we shall see.

I can’t promise I’ll be updating daily during the coming weeks due to some big changes going on in my life, but I will chime in whenever inspiration strikes. I owe it to you guys, and myself.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Day 9: Power HIIT 1 and T-Rex Tuesday!

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Greetings, Nonathletes!

Today, I met my nemesis in battle again, and while I may not have been able to perform every single burpee-pushup-jump-squat and had to modify the occasional lunge and lower my weights again, I did a LOT better this time around than before!

This should have been more obvious since I did INSANITY, but I’ve found that the secret to overcoming high intensity interval training, especially workouts like this which utilize both calisthenics and fast-paced weight training, is a clear mind and an absolute determination pre-workout. That applies to any and all workouts, sure, but personally, these plyometrics and clean and presses required me to psych the hell up and NEED to win, NEED to finish as much as I can, NEED to meet my friend fatigue head on!

Oh, and I may not have completely overcome the workout, but don’t worry…I’m doing it again on Thursday. Oh, joy.

My nutrition today was spot on, although I got another really bad craving, this time for Buffalo Wild Wings and their infamous Wing Tuesday, or as I like to call it, T-Rex Tuesday (Chickens evolved from T-Rexes, right?). I’ve been getting nightly cravings a LOT recently, and tonight’s was stronger than ever. I wanted nothing more than to slam 12 wings, tossed in their signature Hot sauce, juicy and falling off the bone, accompanied by some crispy and soft potato wedges covered in cheddar, paired with a nice little side of blue cheese dressing and some Seagram’s 7 whiskey.

But as I’ve said, I want to transform my body, my soul, and my mind more than I want a quick junk food fix, and that’s why I didn’t eat that despite wanting it more than ever. It takes strength to prioritize what’s important long term over what’s important in the heat of the moment, and I might slip up and indulge now and again, but not tonight. And not tomorrow. Not anytime soon. Not until I feel that I truly have EARNED the right to indulge, after I’ve put in work and done something GOOD for myself because that’s what I deserve. That’s what we all deserve.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Day 8: Combat 60

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I have to say, doing Combat 60 (which is more like Combat 54, but that’s ok), I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the night before. I felt powerful, unstoppable, completely focused. My front and back kick combos were on point, my footwork was getting noticeably faster, and in general I had a really solid workout. While the MMA workouts might not be as excruciatingly exhausting as INSANITY (that’s what we have the HIIT workouts for), they require an intense amount of focus and discipline if you want to burn as many calories as possible. Maybe it’s in my head, but thanks to LMC, I’m already noticing myself slim down a bit.

Later that night, I had some cravings again. It’s always in the evenings, I very rarely want Taco Bell in the morning or afternoon. I guess it’s just the psychology of wanting a reward like that at the end of the day, since I’d reward myself with food like that almost all the time after class ended during college. But you know what I did? I talked to my Beachbody Coach. She’s always been there for me and is an amazingly kind, intuitive and strong individual, and she helped break down why I was craving that food, and explained that eating crap like that isn’t cool or awesome or funny, it’s disgusting and not indicative of what makes a person strong. Now working out 5-6 days a week and eating things your body loves, now that’s a different story. I just want to take this time to thank her from the bottom of my heart, and thank all of you for the likes. Feel free to comment and engage in discussion as well, this blog isn’t just for me, it’s for nonathletes (AND athletes!) everywhere who have something on their minds.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Days 5-7: Combat 45, Lower Body Lean Out, Rest

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WARNING: Self-entitled rant in 5…4…3…2…

So, on Friday I worked out with Combat 45 but gained 6 pounds that night because I had the audacity to go to a friend’s going away party and indulge in a little junk food. 6 pounds. Let that sink in. That’s a baby. I became 9 months pregnant in 12 hours.

Sure, it’s just water weight, but it’s water weight that’s refusing to go away even after drinking tons of water and dancing my @$$ off at a night club AND doing Lower Body Lean Out on Saturday. So what did I do? I ate some more. Boneless wings, 18 of them.

I make no excuses for my actions, eating more junk the wrong route to go and I acknowledge that. I suppose through my skewed reasoning, it just felt like a personal attack against all the progress that I made. Working out consistently and eating right only to gain back every single pound I lost and then some in the course of one evening. It is true that I made the decision to have that food Friday night, but I’ve never ever gained that kind of weight in one night unless I had a buffet or something, and even then 6 pounds was a lot.

As I type this, it’s Sunday evening and I don’t feel good at all. I have a headache and I’m hungry to the point where my body is itching and I really, really crave some Taco Bell and a couple shots of some form of hard liquor, both resting comfortably at the bottom of Michi’s Ladder. Literally, the very thought of having those things is sending chills through my body and I am having to do everything within my power to stop myself from driving there and buying a 5-layer burrito and the nachos grande. This is food addiction, people. It’s not minor and it’s not imaginary, it’s real and it f***ing sucks.

I apologize for the delay in posting, I just haven’t felt up to typing out my thoughts but I owe it to all of you to express my emotions and everything I’m going through. There are going to be days like this, but I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for following me and putting up with my crazy @$$.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Day 4: Shock Plyo HIIT 2

Greetings and love, Nonathletes!

I don’t know if I “killed” today’s workout per se, but I know I sent it to the f***ing ICU!

Not to say Shock Plyo HIIT 2 didn’t put up a fight, that would be a lie. It’s tough. Really, really tough. But I was bringing the energy today, y’all. I met this workout head-on and did the burpee-squats like a pro. Ski moves like a pro. Pushups and mountain climbers and weighted squats like a PRO. I felt great, and after my workout and shower I was STILL sweating! And I went into COMBAT thinking, “Pssh this isn’t going to be all that tough.” That’ll teach me to judge a DVD jacket by its cover.

Also, some honesty time for my readers…I had a drink last night before bed, some gin. NO FOOD though! I feel as if I’ve reached a new point in breaking my food addiction where I can enjoy a drink without having to pair it with food, particularly greasy and salty food that’ll make me feel bloated and gain weight. Not to say drinking is healthy, but breaking the addiction to salt and grease that goes along with it will help tremendously with my goals. Hell, the Jersey Shore guys drink all the time and they’re ripped, right? That was partially in jest.

Additionally, I’m watching the live stream of Team Beachbody Summit and I am excited to announce that they have FINALLY crafted Vanilla Shakeology! Once I feel like I’ve had my fill of Vegan Chocolate, I’ll definitely be trying this out. I love vanilla ice cream and shakes, so to have it for breffis (yeah, I said breffis, what?) every morning sounds absolutely wonderful.

Keep it real, and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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