I love me some yoga, but …

If you’ve been keeping up with my goings-on, you know I’ve been in a yoga zone for the past 3 or 4 months. That means I’ve been doing yoga almost exclusively. I fell into the yoga zone because of a back injury, but I stayed there because I enjoyed it so much.

A couple weeks ago I decided enough was enough — I need some cardio — so I added some Insanity workouts back into the mix.

Today, craving some more challenging resistance training, I decided to try Steve’s Chest & Back. I could feel that my chest and back were not what they used to be, so I wanted to test them out.

Wow.

Since the last time I did Steve’s Chest & Back, which was exactly 6 months ago, my pushups and pullups are down almost 50%. That means I can only do half as many now as before!

I knew I’d lost something, but I never figured it was that much.

To clarify, I am not trying to look like a puffed up gym rat. But it’s kinda like, “Hey, I used to be able to do 210 pushups interwoven with 75 pullups, both of varying types, in about 50 minutes. Now I can only do about half that.” I want to be able to do that again! (And, to be sure, even more pullups, which, as you can see by the numbers, I struggle with….)

This post is not meant to knock yoga, and I still love it and will use it as my primary workout. However, I could tell from the fit of my t-shirts that I was losing mass — and I didn’t have a lot of mass to start with, so I’d like to keep all I can get.

You know what that means, right? Right. Steve’s Chest & Back is back into the rotation. Wednesdays. Rotating that out with Tony Horton’s One on One 30/15 routine every 4 weeks (after a week of rest).

So, as it looks right now, here is my current weekly schedule:

It will be interesting to see how quickly I get back up to speed on my pushups and pullups, don’t you think? Well, I do.

 

Injured by Yoga?

Suddenly I could not touch my toes.

It’s not like I’m the most flexible guy in the world. Possibly I’m more flexible than most my age, but I think much of that perceived flexibility comes from the fact that my belly is flatter than most old guys, so I don’t have as much fat in my way when I bend over.

No matter.

I went to bed one day last week with some discomfort in my glutes. (That would be my ass, for those of you unfamiliar with the body’s major muscle groups.) It was just discomfort, nothing to think about.

When I woke up the next day, the discomfort had progressed to what I will call “tightness”, which is just discomfort times two. The only time I really felt it was when I tried to bend over, so I thought I’d test it out, and, sure enough, I could barely get my hands to my knees before my body told me to stop.

What the hell?!?!?!? Have I finally really done myself in? With yoga?

Yeah, yoga. I’ve pretty much been doing yoga exclusively for the past few months, and, while I have injured myself in the past with yoga, I’d experienced no trauma that I’d felt during the previous day’s workout, which was Rodney Yee: Yoga for Athletes.

Yet here I was with a problem.

I consulted my fitness expert friend Donna, and she mentioned piriformis syndrome, which is a compressed nerve thing, and that sounded pretty logical to me, because this pain didn’t seem muscular. It was too evenly distributed throughout my glutes, reaching down into the hamstrings.

She recommended some stretching, so I did that, then tried Rodney Yee: Flexibility, which is my go-to yoga routine when I don’t feel like doing anything. I got through it, but with not near the range of motion I usually have for forward bends. Everything else was fine.

The next day, I felt a bit better, but I thought it was time to kick it up a notch and break out the Max Cardio routine from Shaun T’s Insanity. (I really only meant to do the Pure Cardio routine, which is 10 minutes shorter, but I accidentally put Max Cardio in my pre-workout Facebook status update, so I held myself to it.)

During the workout, I noticed that I could only really feel the pain during high knees and jumping jacks, both of which jar the glutes. Outside that, no big deal.

The next day called for rest, then yoga, another Insanity workout, yoga again. Here we are at today, and I feel totally healed.

So, let’s see, what have I learned from this situation?

First, the body is a strange thing. I don’t know what caused the pain, and I may never know. What I did know, though, at the time, was that the injury was not muscular — I could feel that was true — so I felt I could push through it. I am not sure if my aggressive treatment with Insanity sped up recovery, but it sure didn’t hurt.

Second, there’s always a good reason not to do something, but some things are worth doing anyway. This applies to everything in life. You can always find a perfectly valid reason — not something weak enough to be called an “excuse”, but a sound rationalization — for not performing, not working out. The key to fitness success is pushing through and getting it done.

Third, and last, WTF? Maybe this has happened to you, too. But, seriously, what the hell is going on in my body to have that kind of pain just crop up and totally cramp my style? Maybe my body was telling me that yoga is fine, but I need to do a little more punishing work with Shaun T at least a couple times a week. Noted and workout schedule has been adapted!

By the way, I am very happy to report that even though I’ve been doing yoga almost exclusively for the past 3 months, I felt very little soreness after Max Cardio, and, while I don’t have a good way to gauge it except for the way I feel during the workout, my cardio fitness seemed fine, too.

All hail the power of yoga. I’ll need to go through that last pre-pain-in-the-ass Rodney Yee workout, though, and see what might have broken me. Then I’ll own it.

Even after years of inactivity, there is no “I CAN’T”!

I am continually frustrated by people I suggest a fitness program to, who try it once, then tell me, “I can’t do that.”

OF COURSE YOU CAN’T DO THAT, YOU’VE BEEN SITTING ON YOUR ASS FOR 20 YEARS!

Wow, I mean, what do you expect? Do you think if I tell you that yoga or Insanity is great and you will benefit so much from it, that you should be able to pop in a DVD or go to a class and knock it out like it’s nothing?

First, any workout that allows you to do that is not much of a workout at all.

Second, just like anything, you have to practice it to get better at it.

That is one of the hallmarks of programs like Shaun T’s Insanity. It’s impossible. I don’t care how good shape you are in, you cannot make it through an entire Insanity workout the first time — IF EVER!

The key to finally getting fit after years of inactivity is to push yourself without hurting yourself. If a workout lasts 30 minutes, and you  took breaks when you needed them, only working out for a total of 7 minutes, that’s perfectly fine. You will improve as you stick with it. Next time you’d get 10 minutes. Then 15. And so on.

This is true about weight loss, and it’s true about fitness, too: There are no magic elixirs. You have to put in the work.

When your exercise program challenges you, it is so much easier to tell it’s working. If you choose a program that you cannot finish, when you can finally finish it, it’s quite a thrill, and you know you are more fit. Simple.

So don’t tell me that you are not going to do something because you “can’t”. P90X creator Tony Horton suggests that instead of saying “I can’t” try saying “I currently struggle with.” Keep that mindset as you enter into a program that you “currently struggle with”, and go ahead and struggle your way to fitness!

Day 30 of my High Fat Diet and more about Yoga!

Here I am in day 30 of my high-fat diet, and I was just telling my friend yesterday how I feel that my body is undergoing some kind of positive transformation. I feel leaner and more energetic. I feel as if I am getting stronger.

It’s not as if this is a change that is overwhelmingly better than any of my previous changes, but it’s something, which is better than nothing, which is what I had before. I was stuck. That’s why I kept changing things up until I found something that felt as if it was getting me out of my fitness rut.

But it’s not only about the diet. In addition to eating high fat — 2000 to 2400 calories with targets of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs — I had also been doing yoga, and only yoga, for 24 days (with a few days off in there).

I broke the streak on Monday with a round of Insanity Pure Cardio — and, yeah, my glutes were sore the last couple days — but I am sticking with yoga as my primary workout. I’ll do another aerobic workout on Friday, then increase aerobics to 3 times a week starting next week, in addition to my yoga.

I had not meant to be so much into yoga for so long. I meant only to use it as a transition workout after I tweaked my back, but the way I feel makes me want to stick with it for a bit longer.

You may or may not recall, depending on how often you read this blog, that I was introduced to yoga through Tony Horton’s P90X. Tony is not a yoga master — he’s just a guy who likes to stay fit and enjoys a yoga workout from time to time. Because he was my gateway to yoga, I really didn’t know much more from a practical standpoint than what he covered during his workouts.

But I knew if I wanted to advance in yoga, I’d need to find a better teacher than Tony. On Amazon, where I buy almost everything, I found Rodney Yee.

Rodney Yee has a ton of yoga DVDs, but I bought one called Ultimate Power Yoga just to check it out. That DVD has five 15- to 20-minute workouts on it, each with a different focus. And my world opened up.

Let me backtrack a bit.

When I saw yoga was part of P90X, I was intrigued, because I had always thought yoga was a good all-around fitness program, but I had never gotten around to trying it out. It was always so much easier to run or lift weights or do something else I understood better. Yoga, after all, is kinda weird for us euro-americans. You have to learn a bunch of poses. You have to stay still in those poses for what seems like a long time. There is a lot of balancing. It all seemed a bit much.

But Yoga X showed me that once I learned the poses and understood a bit about the rhythm and flow of a yoga workout (I know the yoga people call them “practices”, but I’m sticking with “workout” for now), it was really quite enjoyable, and I always felt great afterward.

So I bought Tony Horton’s two One on One yoga DVDs. I used them extensively, and it was exciting when I could finally do them both all the way through! (Yoga is not easy — it’s definitely a workout.)

As I added more and more yoga days into my program, I felt that I needed to get some new DVDs to keep from getting bored. Enter Rodney Yee.

I now have more than 20 yoga DVDs by Rodney Yee and others. I haven’t tried the workouts from others yet, because I really do enjoy Rodney’s workouts, but I’m sure I’ll give them a go sometime in the future.

So, let me see, I guess I got off on a love song to yoga, so what is the point of this post?

1) High Fat Diet – After 30 days, it really seems to be working for me. As someone whose blood-sugar continually flirts with “too high”, I suppose that makes sense. After another month or two on this diet, I’ll see about getting my blood tested and judge it from there. If I am judging solely based on how I feel, though, I give it thumbs up at the 30-day mark.

2) Yoga – I love it. Perhaps you’ll love it too. (Thus ends my song.)

My high fat diet PLUS yoga PLUS allergies

I am in day 20 of my high fat diet, which aims for 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.

My body seems to have adapted to the lack of carbs, so I am not feeling as run down, although I’ve been doing only yoga the past 10 days. I switched from Insanity to yoga because I tweaked my back, but I liked the yoga so much, and my back was feeling so good, that I decided to stick with yoga for a few weeks. I haven’t done that before and have been wanting to give it a shot, so now’s a good a time as any, right?

I’ve always liked yoga, and I am really thankful that  Tony Horton got me into it during P90X. It seems like a great way to stay in shape, although I do feel the need to add some cardio. I will do that once I feel my back is in really good shape. Honestly, my back hasn’t felt this great in years, so I don’t want to do anything to mess it up.

As for the high fat diet, I am again feeling like it’s a mixed bag of pluses and minuses.

First of all, I continue to struggle to stay under 2000 calories, which was not a problem on my high-protein diet. For some reason, when eating high fat, I end up in the 2200 to 2400 calorie area almost every day.

Not that there’s anything too wrong with that. I burn enough to still be able to see negative net calories on that regimen, but I’d always read that fat is far more filling and satisfying than carbs and protein, and I am just not finding that to be the case.

Also, I am feeling some of those same episodes of “hitting the wall” after a high-fat meal. I had previously attributed that phenomenon to too much carbohydrate, but now I wonder what the real cause is.

For example, as I write this, I feel somewhat sleepy. Well, I had a good 7.5 hours of sleep last night, and it’s still morning. However, about a half-hour ago I had a heavy cream latte that had about 20 grams of fat in it. So, yes, I wonder what is causing the sleepiness.

Honestly, it could be allergies. While my mountain cedar sensitivity is severely diminished during this period of no-grain eating, it’s been raining a lot here, and mold still seems to have a pretty strong negative effect on my body.

Aside from all that, I feel great. My energy level is fine, my strength is great, and I haven’t had any problem sticking to the diet. When I go out to eat, I usually have a salad with some protein in it, which is usually what I had to eat when I dined out before anyway.

Today’s Super Bowl party at a friend’s house may prove challenging — not sure what to expect for food there — but I can always eat nothing, and maybe that will keep me under 2000 calories for at least one day.