Saturday, November 28, 2009

3. Some Thoughts on P90X Graduation

About 20 minutes ago I finished my final workout and became a P90X Classic Graduate. And at the moment everything feels very quiet. Very much like the day I left active duty after four years in the Marine Corps. It took about a month for me to get my mind around being free from the confines of military life. But on my last day I do remember feeling quiet and thankful for my new freedom.

And something like this is going on for me right now. But it's not freedom from the daily demands of doing P90X that I'm grateful for--it's the deeper sense of freedom that the accomplishment itself has given me--and the freedom to continue my life along this path. After a short break, I'll be starting P90X Plus.

And just now as I'm writing this, some things are coming to me more clearly about what P90X has meant to me. First of all, it brought me very quickly to the realization that I had been letting myself grow old--even though I've preached against accepting this all my life.

And that's always the problem, isn't it?
     I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done,
    than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.


So those "before" photos and the P90X Fitness Test were indeed a very rude awakening for me on a couple of fronts. There was the obvious evidence of how old I had let myself get physically. But there was also the unexpected gift of being faced with my own hypocrisy. And it seems to me this might be where real freedom begins.

So, whoever you are now reading these words, if you haven't done so recently, I encourage you to take on a big ongoing challenge like P90X in your life--what it will teach you about yourself could be its greatest gift to you. . . .


Sunday, September 20, 2009

2. P90Xtras

Yes, I’m still here! P90X Classic Phase 1 is coming to a close—I began Week 4 this morning (Recovery and Ab Focus) with Yoga X, my biggest challenge so far—getting my still relatively stiff body into the postures, doing the movements, and keeping my balance. Same thing with Ab Ripper X. I look forward to the days ahead when I will no longer be writing notes like “less reps” or “almost” or “legs @ 45-degree angle” (when it’s supposed to be 90 degrees) on my worksheets.

Thanks, Saki, Tony, and Uma for your thoughtful and encouraging comments—I’ve been working consistently to “do my best and forget the rest” and the rewards are starting to show up. Much of my "spare tire" is gone. My old six-pack from many years ago is beginning to reappear around the edges. Definition is coming back to my chest, shoulders, arms, and legs.

And I'm walking around feeling brighter—about almost everything. Because I'm rebuilding my body? Sure. But also because doing this program is reconnecting me with the fact that I’m still in here.

You know. That ideal Self inside every one of us that we're tempted to sell out on, especially later in life—that Vision you and I long to be living out here in the world that never really goes away, no matter how much mediocrity we may have learned to put up with over the years. That me I’m getting back in touch with is active, powerful, beautiful.  And passionate!

I mean passionate about standing for something and moving with it! Passionate about having the kind of impact that ignites the best in everyone it touches—brimming with the fire of compassion and being totally devoted to what I’m doing with the kind of feeling Bob Dylan must have felt 46 years ago when he was writing the closing lines of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”:

      And I'll tell and think it and speak it and breathe it
     And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it
     And I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
     And I'll know my song WELL before I start singin'

So right now I find myself tuning this instrument I call my body and learning to sing my song all over again.

Is it possible to be totally free in body, mind, and soul?
Maybe this is one way to start finding out. . . .

Monday, August 31, 2009

1. From Julie & Julia to P90X--my next birthday present to myself . . .

If you've seen the movie, maybe you already see the connection. Julie decides to commit herself to a daily challenge for 365 days to see what she's made of--she will cook her way recipe-by-recipe through Julia Child's rather daunting French cookbook, and start a blog to chronicle her experience.

The first time I saw Tony Horton's P90X Extreme Fitness System on television was maybe two or three years ago--I'm not sure--but it was being offered on VHS. And I remember how something in me started to stir as I watched--I suspect it was the same something that led me into the Marine Corps for four years at age 18 after a not-so-productive freshman year at Columbia University, NYC.

But now it was a great many years later!--and like Julie, I was feeling the need to jumpstart my life again--and get busy fulfilling some old and deeply cherished dreams.

Anyhow, the P90X program looked like 'way too much for me to take on, so I left it where it was. Then last June, I accidentally captured the latest P90X infomercial on my DVR. So I kept it and watched it two or three times. And I thought, "I haven't used my treadmill and Bowflex much at all in the past several years. Could I actually commit to 90 days as intense as this is and actually get through it?" And there I sat firmly planted on the fence.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when my girlfriend and I saw the aforementioned movie. And as the movie ended, I was thinking about what it might do for my life to commit to some kind of ongoing pursuit like Julie did, and start a blog to record my experience and help keep me on track.

So what could I do?

Uh oh. . . .

Now I was face-to-face with the challenge. I did the math and figured out if I started the P90X program by this week, I would be giving myself a brand new body for my birthday on November 26, Thanksgiving Day this year. Which, as it turns out, will be Day 89 of the program for me, 'cause I started yesterday--Sunday, August 30, 2009.

After coming up a little short on certain parts of the fitness test and taking those grotesque "before" photos--what an unpleasant epiphany that was!--I discovered that, although I've always been very healthy, I am clearly in the worst shape of my entire life.

So this former Marine Sergeant stood in front of the mirror yesterday, made the "X" sign, hollered "Bring It!" and pushed "play." And now as I sit here writing this at the end of Day 2, aching all over and exhausted after struggling through the Plyometrics workout (appropriately nicknamed "The Beast"), I'm feeling happy and grateful for my life--and from somewhere I can hear Frank singing to me, "This could be the start of something big!"

Thank you, Tony....