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Forty Frickin’ Five!

Another birthday, so it’s time for another “flash my torso” post:

P90X Insanity Results for 45 year old body

I’m over two years past finishing my first round of P90X, and I’ve since done several more rounds of it, plus two rounds of Insanity, and (recently) one round of Jillian Michaels Body Revolution. I’ve also started running 2-3 times a week, (usually in place of a P90X cardio routine).

I once complained, “Where’s My Six-Pack!?” Well, it took a while, but I found it. It’s still not as visually obvious as I want it, but beneath that thin layer of the last couple of percentages of body fat, my abs are solid and tight.

I’m not posting a pic of my body to show off or brag, (though I am proud of my accomplishment). I’m showing this to say, if I can do it, anyone can do it, including you. I’m not selling or advertising (or getting any pay of any kind from) the DVD programs I’ve mentioned here. I’m just blogging about what I’ve done, and how I’ve done it.

I’m 45 years old, with a wife, two young sons, a full-time job, and this blogging part-time job/hobby. It’s damn, damn hard to work a middle-aged body to this extreme. And as hard as the physical working out is, the hardest part for me is maintaining a proper diet. God, the crap I eat sometimes kills me while I’m trying to carefully track and control calories, fats, carbs, and proteins.

But the effort is so totally worth it. I couldn’t imagine three years ago just how amazing it feels to be in this good a shape, especially at this age. I was thin/skinny in my 20s, but not really fit, so I can honestly say I’m in better shape, now, at going on half a century old than I was then.

So, there. This concludes my annual “look at my body” post. Next time I’ll go back to my usual telling how my kids are driving me insane.


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More on my Workouts

Those of you who read about my Fitness Quest with the P90X and Insanity regimens know that I finished them over a year ago, and have since just been in a maintenance mode. The regular 90-day and 60-day schedules, (P90X and Insanity, respectively), are intense workouts six days a week, but for my maintenance schedule, I’ve gone to just three days a week. I mostly stick to the P90X workouts, but I throw in an Insanity here and there for the cardio exercise.

Here’s me doing P90X dive bomber pushups:
Dive Bomber Pushups

P90X Results

Dive bomber pushups are one of my favorite exercises. They aren’t normal up and down pushups. You start in a modified pushup position, arms straight, feet apart, butt up, head low, and then you sort of dive down and forward till your head comes up and butt down. Like a dive bomber diving down and zooming up. Tony Horton, (the P90X coach), describes it as “under the fence.”

* * *
With the start of this new year, I decided to do another full schedule run with Insanity. After my first round of this workout, I said I never wanted to do it again. It was incredibly hard to the point of being unfun. I mean, really, really hard; brutal. But for some reason I can’t quite figure out, I felt the need to challenge myself again. To see if I could do it again, and to see what my results would be with another round starting from my already pretty fit position.

Oblique PushupsI completed the first month of Insanity, with no problem. Yes, it’s hard on the body to do the extreme cardio routines six days a week, but the individual workouts weren’t more than I could handle. Heck, as I said above, I had been doing some during my maintenance schedule, usually one a week.

But then last week I started the second month of Insanity — the “Max” month. Holy moly, I had forgotten how hard it truly is. Forty-five to sixty minutes of hard, hard exercises with just 30 seconds of rest after every 3-6 minutes of running, jumping, pushups, squats, and all kinds of combinations of them all. (The action is fast and furious, and doesn’t show up on cell phone photos very well.)

The specific exercise you see me doing in that above photo is oblique pushups. Start a regular pushup, but on the way down, bring one leg out and up to your elbow. Yeah, like I said, extreme stuff.

Anyway, I’ve got three more weeks of this latest round of Insanity.


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Forty-four Caliber

Today is my birthday. Number 44. Forty-four magnum, I’m calling it. Like Harry Callahan’s hand cannon. “Do you feel lucky?” I do.

For this double-quad birthday post, I’d like to revisit my fitness efforts one more time. The last time I mentioned my exercise regimen was back in November last year,  when I showed my “final” results after the P90X and Insanity programs. Well, I’ve kept up my exercises, but I’ve dropped to working out just three times a week instead of the hardcore six times a week. I’m just in a maintenance mode, now. I’m happy with my fitness level and my physical appearance, so I just want to stay like this. I don’t need to buff up like a bodybuilder.

Fitness at age 44
Forgive an old man showing his bare physique one more [last] time.

[And forgive the terrible lighting in these pics. Sheesh. Opening the blinds of the big front window just caused harsh shadows. Using the flash just washed out on my pale skin — too embarrassing to use for this post. I thought I could improve on the bathroom shots. I failed.]

Anyway. Something I’ve never mentioned before is that I have a pretty severe case of arthritis. My spine, let my show you it:

Back MRI

This image is my lumbar spine, seen from my left side. Note the solid black cartilage space between the bottom vertebrae. That’s well-developed arthritis. That’s what pain looks like.

This MRI image was taken back in August 2007, almost four years ago. I posted about the experience, but I never came out and said what it was all about. I’ve never talked about having arthritis, here, because I didn’t want you readers thinking of me as some decrepit invalid. I’m only comfortable mentioning it in this blog, now, because I can post the fit pictures with it.

Four years ago, I went from a general doctor to a specialist to find out why I was so regularly having back pain. I always got out of bed achy and groaning in the mornings. I often, (at least once a year), “threw out my back” when doing heavy work.

X-rays and MRI photos showed the answer: pretty well developed arthritis. I was rather stunned. I mean, I was just turned 40 years old. Arthritis is something senior citizens have. The doctor told me that the disease had been developing in me for a while.

“But doc,” I said, “I was doing martial arts several days a week, just a few years ago. I earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.”

“You were fit and strong from the martial arts,” the doctor explained, “and that keeps the pain away.”

Core strength and flexibility, like I had while doing TKD, is the best — really the only — way to overcome arthritis without drugs or surgery. In the years after last doing any good and regular exercise, the arthritis caught up with me. That’s why I was starting to feel the disease as pain.

The doctor explained that there is no way to fix, cure, or repair arthritis, but I could keep it from getting worse by getting back into good and regular exercise. But I had to be careful and mindful of how to do exercise properly; I had to protect my back because with arthritis, it’s easier to injure, and any injury is more painful.

I may have be having pains getting out of bed then, but worst case scenario if I didn’t get back into good and regular exercise would be that one day I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed at all. Knowing how bad my back hurt sometimes getting out of bed then, I understood what that meant.

So I got back into good and regular exercise. Well, sometimes and sort of. I was on again and off again with the exercise. At my worst, I was never really “fat.” I was overweight, yes, but I’m also 40+ years old with a sedentary occupation. I and everyone with whom I ever conversed about body weight considered me average and normal for a 40-something family man. My middle was getting thicker, but my belly never plumped over my belt.

As for my arthritis, very few people knew I had it. I ran and jumped and played with my kids like all the other dads around — more than some dads because I wasn’t fat and completely out of shape like some men my age. Only when getting out of bed in the mornings, or maybe getting up off a sofa or chair after an hour or more sitting around, did I make any groans of discomfort. My inconsistent efforts at exercise at least kept me out of severe pain from normal activity. I only took any kind of drug for the pain, (usually just ibuprofen, but rarely something stronger), when it was particularly bad.

Every once in a while — once or twice a year, about — I’d do something to “throw my back out.” I’d pick something up wrong, twist or jump bad, or just sit too long in an uncomfortable position. It was Arthur Ritus letting me know he was truly moved in for the rest of my life.

When I started thinking about picking up the P90X workout, I honestly didn’t even think about needing it for arthritis control. But I was reminded by a person who loves me that I need to remember my back problem and not do something careless to hurt myself. Starting a regular exercise regimen is a good idea, but going extreme and permanently injuring myself would be just plain dumb. Good advice.

I completed the three-month P90X regimen with not a single back problem. I continued the P90X for another couple of months, and then completed the two month Insanity program, and still had no problems with my back. My core strength and flexibility was better than ever. I’ve been in close to peak physical fitness for a 40-plus year old for a year, now. And I’m still going strong.

Only once did I hurt myself during any of these workouts. Fortunately, (and maybe ironically), it happened during this maintenance period I’m keeping up, now, (not during the first/main rounds of the programs). I got a little cocky and rambunctious during a power jump routine, and lost the proper form and control. I woke up the next morning in back pain. I had to take four weeks off from working out to recover. Frustrating, that was. But after the healing time, I got right back into my exercise routine, and I make sure I keep the proper form and control when doing my extreme maneuvers.

* * *

So, I’m 44 years old today. Forty-four magnum.
Age 44 Arms
Booyah! :-)

And my birthday party, next weekend, will be a wonderful nerd-fest.


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My Mid-Life Crisis — Getting Super Fit

The last time I posted about my workout regimen, I was afraid I might not be able to complete the Insanity workout. Well, I pushed through, and I’m now “certified insane.”

Oh my God! Insanity is hard. It’s not even fun, it’s so hard. The P90X workout was extreme, but Insanity is just brutal. After each P90X workout, I felt good, on an endorphin high. But the Insanity workouts are sheer punishment to be endured; afterward, I was just completely worn out. But there is no denying that it can make you fit, super fit. Both regimens work well for getting real fit, real fast. (If you’re interested in learning about them, go look them up. I’m not selling or representing for the company. I’m just a very satisfied customer.)

See these pics for my results:

The thing that really surprised me the most about this whole process was how much fat I had on my body. I knew I was a bit overweight; I figured I could loose at least 10 pounds, maybe even 15 pounds. But at the end of my first 13-weeks round of P90X (the 1.0 pic above), I had lost 18 pounds of padding. I could tell I had more to loose, but I thought maybe just 4 or 5 more pounds.

After finishing about 8 weeks of a second round of P90X (the 1.5 pic above), I had lost a total of 24 pounds — 6 more beyond the 1.0 round. I was astonished at how much fat I had apparently been carrying around on my frame. I never thought I was 20+ pounds overweight. But still, I could tell I had a little more fat to shed to find my six-pack abs. But I seemed to have hit a plateau in my fitness climb; I went some weeks without loosing any fat weight.

I really, really wanted my six-pack abs. A simple desire to “get into shape” became a hard drive to get ripped; it had become the object of my mid-life crisis. Some men buy a sports car, some men pick up a girlfriend, some men run off to “find myself.” My MLC took the form of wanting a hardbody — a body as good or better than the one I had at half my current age. I wanted to be able to keep up physically with my young sons. I wanted to be able to run, jump, and climb faster, easier, and for longer, (without it costing 6 million dollars).

So in hopes of breaking my plateau with P90X, I started Insanity. Taking on a regimen of straight cardio did, indeed, overcome my plateau. In the 9 weeks of Insanity, I lost another 15 pounds for a total loss of 39 pounds. Look at those pics above, again: the “P90X 1.5” pic is 15 pounds heavier than the “Insanity 1.0” pic. That floors me. When I was at the “P90X 1.5” stage of my effort, I would have thought 15 less pounds would make me just skin and bones.

In the couple of weeks since finishing Insanity, I’ve lost another 2 pounds just because my metabolism is much higher revved than it used to be. Human physiology just amazes me.

I’ve lost 41 pounds of fat. Forty-one pounds! That’s three to four times more than I expected. And I’m not skinny — I’m lean. P90X and Insanity are not “just” weight-loss programs, they’re full body fitness. Hell, half of the P90X regimen is weight training to build muscle mass.

I feel freakin’ fantastic! I don’t want to sit on the sofa and watch TV, anymore. I want to move. I want to run, jump, and climb.

But I feel kind of weird about all this. At my core, I’m a nerd, a gamer geek. Have I turned into a jock? Well, I’m still not particularly interested in sports — watching or playing. I still like to read comic books, play RISK, and watch Star Wars.

I don’t have any urge to throw a ball, but I do enjoy push-ups. I haven’t a clue what the infield fly rule is, but I do know how many carbs I need in a day.

I want to play Dungeons & Dragons, but I don’t want to consume the Mountain Dew and Doritos that stereotypically go with a game. I’ll buy a comic book, but I’ll also flip through a fitness magazine for a couple minutes.

Well, whatever strange culture mutation I’ve become, I kind of like it. I’m having a great mid-life crisis.


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