What's worse than hearing someone talk about their fitness program? You may as well sit me down for home movies and tell me stories about how great your aunts, uncles, and boring family vacations are. I'm out. And yet, since I already wrote an entry outlining my goals before starting p90x, I felt like it was time for an update. Feel free to sneak out the back door now.
It's hard to talk about a fitness program without sounding like I'm trying to sell it, so I'll try to keep this update brief. As some of you know, I accidentally stumbled onto the p90x workout, when I sat next to Traci Morrow on a plane to Kauai. One of the unexpected side effects of participating in this regimented workout plan, is that people tend to be very curious about it. If you've ever stopped drinking for any reason, for any amount of time, I'm sure you've been blasted with questions from your friends, asking "why?" Combine that with a physical change and substantial weight loss, and people can't help bringing it up. Whether hurling good-natured gibes at me, or asking about my diet or why I'm not drinking or if I miss any foods or how long I'm going to continue, it becomes a constant topic of discussion. It makes me a little bit uncomfortable, because I'm not trying to sell p90x to anyone. I chose to try it because of a perfect storm of events. When people ask, I tell them it's been great for me...that it landed in my lap at the right time...and that it's changed my life.
It really has.
My two goals when I began were:
1) Make it through all 90 days.
2) No alcohol.
Both goals were very important to me. I won't say that I was at the point where alcohol was becoming a problem, but I can say for sure that before I started, I was drinking more than I felt comfortable drinking. Testing my resolve, to see if I could stop drinking for three months mattered to me. Committing to a fitness program for three months without quitting...that *really* mattered to me. I needed a change in my life, because for a long time, I felt like I was living wrong. I was miserable in my own body, and I missed being active and healthy. I missed my younger self.
I made it through all 90 days, without missing a single workout and without having a drop of alcohol. Woohoo! I also modified my diet by cutting out fried foods, cutting out most breads, reducing my fat intake, and eating way more vegetables for lunch (salads). The results began to show immediately. When I started, I weighed around 224(!) pounds. At the end of 90 days, I was just under 199. 25 pounds of blubber.
Part of the program is taking before and after pictures. Take a look at the difference between Day 1 and Day 90...
At 7am, I walked up the dune, and the cool, soft sand swallowed my bare feet with each step. The beach was mostly empty, dotted only with the silhouettes of a few fisherman, a distant dog owner in a faded sweatshirt, and an early morning couple, walking hand-in-hand towards the rest of their lives. The cool mist, and the lingering grey marine layer dampened the excited barks of the distant dog splashing and carousing in the receding tide, and the crashing of the waves along the Ventura County beach briefly dampened my ability to process or reflect upon anything outside of the beauty of this particular morning. As I approached the wet sand by the ocean, I started running. In front of me, an eternity. Behind me, nothing.
Immediately, I knew I was having one of those perfect runs. I felt strong and invigorated. Shirtless and barefoot, I felt primal as my feet pounded into the sandy earth. The light rain cooled my body, and the ocean tide occasionally reached my feet as I charged, excitedly splashing up at me with each stride. Breathing the cool, salt air through my nose felt like inhaling pure energy, and I was sure I'd run down this beach on this day until there was nowhere left to run. The sandpipers dipped their long bills into the water-logged shore, then jogged away from me, eventually leaping to the air to escape my approach. About a mile in, a Golden Retriever, still soaking wet from his splashy adventure, ran briefly with me and carelessly licked my hand as he peeled off towards his owner in the grey hoodie. The seagulls watched, unimpressed from the middle of the beach, and ahead, I spotted a sea lion lazing on the wet sand.
As I neared the sea lion, it did not flinch, even with the sounds of my pounding feet and accelerated, audible breathing. As I ran past him, I realized that the sea lion was merely the hull of a sea lion, and several seagulls were feasting on his innards and brains like gluttonous zombie birds. I would have chuckled at the thought of this as I ran past, but the image of the dead animal, lying lifeless on the beach stuck with me, and the boundless energy that once carried me up the coast on two legs was suddenly starting to feel limited. I continued on towards a vague goal of "that house up there," and opted instead to turn around at the next person I passed: an old woman staring out into the ocean. I wondered what thoughts filled her head as she stood there on the beach, and then wondered what she thought of me turning around only a few yards past where she was standing, only to begin my path back to where I started.
The view was different going back. The mist had tapered off, and the ocean water, which once seemed desperate to reach me as I ran, now seemed trying to grab my feet to drag me into the sea. The seagulls were still eating brains, so I chose to stare out at the distant oil rig on the ocean's horizon, instead of looking again at the dessicated sea lion. I picked up the pace, not because the air was alive with life, fuel and hope, but because I wanted to be back where I started, with this perfect run safely behind me. The sand was my last friend now, and it splayed out in forgiving, muddy footprints behind me as I pushed through it towards my starting point. When I was close enough not to fail, I sprinted to the spot where I began.
Back at the beginning point, I slowed my run to a walk. Hands on hips, I savored the feeling that some call a runner's high. For me, it was more than that. I considered my mortality, thanks to a sea lion, but I also looked out into that ocean, thought about how lucky I am, and realized that I have never felt better physically in my entire life. Once again, I avoided the tricky quandary of not knowing exactly who or what to thank for my fortunate life, so I took a mental snapshot of the majestic ocean in front of me, and thanked whatever put it there. I'm content not to know, and I think that's about as close to a belief in any sort of god as I'll probably ever get. Seems like just enough.
I turned from the sea, and walked back over the cool sandy dunes of the beach towards home. The decomposing sea lion lay behind me somewhere, but like everything else, once behind me, he was nothing.