Health notes, part one: P90X


Toward the end of our Asia trip in May, I announced to Noah that I was going to start doing P90X after we got back to the States. I'd overindulged in Japan (because WHY EVEN GO if not for the Indian food and the breads and the pastries?), scaled back in Bali (palate conflicts), then indulged again in vegetable bau and parathas in Singapore. And of course, I wasn't dancing or biking or even *walking* that much thanks to trains and hired drivers and taxis abound; hence, the decision to try a fitness program.

Not a terrible decision, right? Except for the fact that we were leaving for a Europe trip in June. Committing to a 90-day program of lifestyle changes is difficult enough without throwing in factors of foreign travel, tiny accommodations, and one of the worst heat waves Europe has recently seen. Yet somehow, we managed. We figured out how to do workouts in closet-sized hostel rooms, did yoga in public parks, and even made use of an empty lobby floor on an overnight ferry between Croatia and Italy. Quite possibly the worst instance was in Budapest, where Noah almost passed out after we finished a workout in our top-floor hostel room (remember: heat rises) where the humidity was already so terrible it was hard to breathe and the mosquitoes were aplenty.

In each new city, one of the first things we did was locate all the nearest grocery stores to stock up on carrots, celery, hummus (if it was available), muesli and bran, yogurt, soy milk (almond if we were lucky), dried fruit and pistachios. I don't know how we ate that stuff nonstop for 10 weeks without getting sick of it, but we did. I actually got so enamored with muesli that after I came home, I threw fits because I couldn't find the plain, basic muesli we'd found everywhere in Europe, anywhere in America. (I realize it's not that hard to make myself, but it was the principle. Why do we have like eight flavors of Cheerios but no muesli?)

Anyway. The point is, doing P90X while hoofing it abroad during a heat wave was a shitty idea, but we managed to stick to it, every single day, without fail– until we got into a scooter accident in Italy which messed up Noah's leg. P90X came a sudden halt after that and ultimately turned into P60X. And also, we were in Italy, which meant gelato every single day (sometimes, twice a day) and lots of pizza exploration. So not only did we fall off the fitness wagon, but we pretty much abandoned ship on the whole diet thing as well. (Though to be fair, we *were* walking plenty of miles every day.)


Short-term benefits:

  • Forced daily physical activity = feeling better physically and mentally. Even if we did nothing else in our day, those one-and-a-half hours of weights or movement eventually made a difference– in our shapes, in our abilities, in our energy levels, in our sense of accomplishment.
  • Slightly better diet. Before we left for Europe, we followed the portion guidelines fairly well and were eating moderately better food. In Europe, before the accident, we still watched what we ate and tried to adhere to the principles of the guidelines. After the accident… less so. Particularly in Italy, France and Belgium. And the second visit to London. Oh my god, the banoffee pie.

Long-term benefits:

  • Possession of workout videos? For all those times when I want to squeeze in a workout but don't feel like driving to the gym? Though, I have a lot of issues with the videos– there are a surprising number of inconsistencies in the methods and the editing and Horton's humor attempts can be difficult to bear sometimes.
  • Better performance on a bike. This is questionable, but I will say: the P90X program has been my only serious attempt to improve my strength levels in a long time (at the gym, I only do cardio machines or cardio/yoga/pilates classes). And since having attempted it, I've found that my speed, endurance, and climbing abilities while biking have significantly improved. Causation here isn't impossible to believe.

The program definitely had its benefits, but I can't see it as a lifestyle, and in terms of diet, I definitely don't feel like there was any encouragement toward long-term changes. But it did get me way more interested in proper yoga and plyometrics, so that was nice. Noah keeps talking about finishing the last 30 days, but I don't feel like it works that way– to me, we'd have to start all over, and I don't know if I want to give up 90 more days to this when there are alternative programs out there. Still. We'll see.


One thought on “Health notes, part one: P90X

  1. I love muesli, Lora! I used to eat it all the time when I was in New York. Then I couldn’t find muesli anymore and had to give it up. I’ve recently discovered muesli in Corner Bakery here in the D.C. area. Then the skies opened and angels sang.

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