The fitness project that I began in early February came to an end almost one week ago, but it's taken me some time to reflect upon and process the whole experience. I'm feeling differently than expected, but I'm still really happy with the entire thing. Most importantly, I've learned some valuable lessons about fitness, nutrition and holistic wellness, and I feel like this is just the beginning of a lifelong love of fitness and movement for me.
*You can follow my journey with this project from the beginning - just click THE FITNESS PROJECT category to the right to see all related posts.*
the quick + dirty
Just to quickly recap: I followed the P90X workout regimen, initially using the dietary and nutrition recommendations from this program mixed with the 80 Day Obsession diet program on Beach Body, but I stopped "dieting" after the first month, and began eating as many (healthy/wholesome) calories as I could get in my body. After a few weeks, I realized that the nature of my job meant that I was expending more calories than what would normally be taken into consideration with these dietary recommendations, so I needed to adjust my approach to the diet.
Alright, let's get straight to my results.
Overall, I lost 4 pounds and 5.5 inches. I gained very minimally around my arms, but lost some girth in all other measurements. I was actually trying to put on muscle from very early on, and I have to admit, I wasn't super successful in that endeavour. I absolutely reconfigured the constitution of my body (trimmed, toned, and added muscle to my upper body) through strength training, but I didn't make any massive "gains" (those were almost all mental/emotional for me...) That being said, I'm very happy with my results, and I have no regrets.
I had a vegan diet until about Week 9, at which point I had a couple of eggs and a little bit of cheese (essentially just resumed my eating habits from before the program). I'm still eating very little dairy, and I haven't had eggs in weeks, but this is only because I know what feels best for me, so I eat for optimal energy and digestion more than anything else. Also, just ask me how happy I am to have wine back in my life. (I'm very happy.)
when things nearly fell apart
I said from the beginning that I was blogging about this journey in order to record and share a totally authentic experience with "getting into shape" over 30, and I'm so glad that I did, because I think it's helpful to recognize that there are so many factors that must work together in order to maintain such a demanding routine.
It almost fell apart for me more than once, and although I hardly worked out at all in the final week, I still feel like I finished the program in the best way that I could: respecting my personal circumstances and being grateful for all that I was able to accomplish. As Tony always encourages: I did my best and forgot the rest.
I felt confident and strong more than I ever have before. I also struggled hard, and often; 90 days is a long-ass time - a lot can happen in 90 days...
I struggled with my digestion through the first third of the program, I struggled with my hormones through the second third, and I struggled with energy and mood in the last third of this program. I felt like I was on the brink of adrenal fatigue at times, and I had twice as many menstrual cycles as I should have. Thankfully, I never injured myself, but I did have some old injuries resurface at times when I was pushing myself too hard.
I wanted to give up a few times, and I put a lot of careful thought into what would really be best for me. Ultimately, I decided that I needed to finish out the full 90 days as well as I could, without putting too much pressure on myself to stick to the program exactly as it's written.
Being okay with less or having to edit goals or expectations isn't always easy, but it's a very empowering practice to accept your best, exactly as it is.
if I knew then what I know now...
First of all, let me just say that I probably will never again do the original P90X program. It's pretty old, and I feel like we've learned so much about health and fitness since the original launch of this program; I'm absolutely going to continue training at home with Beach Body (it's just my preference over training at a gym - more on that in previous posts!) but I'm going to create my own training routine until the LIIFT4 program comes out in the fall.
The premise behind P90X is strong, but for me, it was just too intense for too long: 60-75-minute workouts 6 days per week plus around 5-8 hours of yoga weekly was, simply put, running me down and wearing me out. I'm not able to reduce my yoga activity, so I have to adjust my training routine to support that; as yoga is not only my passion but also my job, this will always take priority.
Would I recommend it? Maybe.... I would suggest that you put a good deal of consideration into any new exercise routine or diet plan, because it will most certainly become a lifestyle and will affect you in more ways than you might initially realize. As I always say with yoga, this practice should support you. I feel the same about strength training, and I believe that pushing yourself in this way, with something new, is not only healthy, but helps us to expand and evolve as individuals. The key is to stay connected to your body and the experience to ensure your approach isn't becoming too rigid or all-consuming.
harder, better, faster, stronger
Before I started this fitness journey, I truly thought I hated working out -- I don't. I actually love it, just as I do a really challenging asana practice. In fact, I was able to draw so many parallels between strength training/HIIT/classic weight lifting and yoga, that this experience has really served to deepen my connection to my body, as well as my dedication to living the healthiest life I can.
Before P90X, I could only do a military push-up, and that was because of my work in Chaturanga Dandasana over the past couple of years. Now, I can do every variation in the program, and depending on where I am in the workout, I'm able to pound out around 6-7 reps before needing to take it to my knees. This is probably my greatest accomplishment, because at 32 years old and having always identified as someone with a "weak" upper body, I didn't really know if I'd ever be able to perform a single push-up properly, with good form and steady control. This experience has helped me prove to myself that I'm stronger than I often give myself credit for, and I'm capable of accomplishing great things when I set my mind to something and stick with it.
At the end of this journey, I'm feeling grateful, optimistic and excited for the beginning of my next adventure.