Let the games begin!

As promised, here is a brief rundown of the first 4 days of my latest P90X experience:

First of all, I should mention that “Tony” is Tony Horton—creator of the P90 series.  To save on word count, I will refer to him only as Tony from this point forward.  You will see his name mentioned in phrases like “When Tony says push-up…”, “Tony’s constant encouragement…”, or “I HATE YOU, TONY!”  Seriously though, this guy is pretty unbelievable.  He’s 50 years old, and he makes me look like a geriatric stoner when it comes to overall strength and energy level.  If I can get halfway as ripped as that dude, I will probably forgo wearing shirts in public for the rest of my life–except when attending church, of course.   Clearly, that would call for a freshly-pressed tank top.

So with that little bit of background information, let get started:

Day 1—Chest & Back:

Seems pretty simple.  It’s essentially push-ups and pull-ups.  Like gym class—with a hyper-intensity disorder.  The push-ups I can handle, just not at the level that the guys & gal in the video handle them.  They’re cranking out 30-40 with one leg raised in the air while whistling the 3rd verse of the National Anthem, and I’m still struggling with my 10th.  I know it’s a work in progress, but come on.  Have I let myself fall THIS far?  The answer is a definitive “YES”.   Then we move to pull up’s.

These are evil.  Wide grip. Close grip underhanded.  Overhand close grip.  Regardless of the chosen grip, the biggest problem is that it involves lugging my entire bodyweight skyward.  If you think about it, this is a pretty crappy deal for someone who is out of shape and overweight.  Sure, Tony is doing one-armed pull ups while making monkey faces at me…but that’s because he weighs a good 60lbs less than I do.  Technically, I’m lifting more than he is. (In your sculpted face, Tony. ) To avoid total failure on these, I place a foot on a chair to assist myself.  I still groan like I’m doing a real pull-up though.  At least I SOUND like I’m doing it right.

I finish my workout feeling like I’ve given my best effort.  I’m tired, but pleased.  I can only hope the latent pain that comes the day after a workout won’t be too bad.

Day 2—Plyometrics:

It is that bad.  The pain.  The inability to lift my arms for any reason.  If back muscles could speak, mine would sound as if they were scripted by Tarantino himself.  My. Goodness.  If the saying is true, and pain really IS weakness leaving the body, I have negative levels of weakness.  It’s a good thing that plyometrics focuses on the lower body.


Focus isn’t the right word.  Picks on…humiliates…oppresses…tortures….any of these would be a better description for what this workout does to my legs.  Also known as “Jump Training”, this particular fitness gem requires me to launch my mass towards the ceiling repeatedly.   Tony keeps preaching that this routine will help me be better at just about any sport I choose.  If this keeps up, I may never choose a sport again.  If this is what it takes to get better, I’d rather suck. 

OK, ok…that’s just my inner-lazy person talking.  Truly, I know it’s beneficial, so I press on.  I move from something called a Run-Stance-Squat-Pickup to a beauty known as Airborne Heisman’s. Then it’s on to swing kicks and Mary Katherine’s (think “Superstar!!”).

I should have known that when the warm-up included walking lunges and deep-knee squats, the workout itself was going to be hellacious.  I know now.

After the workout, I do a little research.  It turns out the word “plyometric” comes from the Latin, metric meaning “to measure” and  plyo meaning “I hate you”.


Day 3: Shoulder & Arms:

This is the one I’ve been looking forward to.  As Tony says in the intro, this is the glamour routine.  Shoulders, biceps, and triceps…that’s what we’ll be working today.  We’re focusing on The Guns.  These are the muscles I’ve been showing off since I was 3 years old, so they’re the ones I’ve always worked when I would go to a gym.  I’m sure I’ll be familiar with the exercises, so I’m feeling confident. 

All in all, this workout went well.  The moves were fairly simple: shoulder presses, bicep curls, and tricep extensions.  To borrow a phrase from the musclehead community, I got a good pump from the workout.

I check this one off with a smile.


Day 4: Yoga X

I’m not smiling any more.  My triceps have staged a coup.  They refuse to work without causing searing pain.  From previous experience, I remember that yoga involves a lot of push-up style movements and a lot more holding very still in a posture that is not natural.  All of these involve the triceps.  Tony says “clear your mind”.  I’d rather sever my arms just below the shoulder.

Being the silent warrior that I am (for the duration of this workout), I press on.

This yoga thing is SO foreign to me.  I’ve played sports my entire life and done rather well, thank you.  I’d like to think I’m fairly coordinated.  These yoga poses seem indicate that I have the flexibility of ceramic tile and the balance of greased bowling ball on a steep incline.  It was not pretty.  My Upward Dog looked like a great dane that had just suffered a severe spinal injury.  My Sun Salutation actually made the sun ignore me like a hot chick in high school.  

One thing that did make me laugh is that during the routines, Tony will say “…now back to plank…push-up if you want to…now back to downward dog…”   That part about “if you want to” gets me.  It’s like he thinks there’s a chance I’m actually going to do more work that I’m required to do.  That Tony—so naive.

I was glad that I hadn’t signed up to take a yoga class in public.  The only eyes watching me were those of my golden retriever, and so help me, if he decides to show me his version of what a REAL downward dog looks like, I’ll throw a reverse warrior on him faster than you can say “Namaste”. 

Once I can feel my arms again, that is.


Two Words That Say So Much

clapper-boardTwo words. 


Two words comprise the majority of many conversations in my house right now.  With only two little words it seems that meaning is conveyed, feelings are expressed, inquiries are made, and bonding is accomplished.  Wanna guess the words?  Go ahead.


Nope.  Whatever you guessed, I have a feeling it was wrong.  That’s ok.  I wouldn’t have gotten it right either, if I weren’t personally involved in most of these conversations.  So…the two words?


“What” & “Awesome”.


8 letters in total.  4/13 of the alphabet.  Countless hours of conversation with my 4 year old son.


When they decide to make a movie about my life, the child actor chosen to play Young Carter is going to have an incredibly easy script to memorize.  Of coursre, the role will require an innate ability to emote with the eyes and a propensity for physical comedy, but the script itself–less than complicated.


Since I’m certain that I will be asked to act as an Authenticity Consultant/Screenwriter on the film, I thought that I would provide some authentic sample dialogue to give you an idea of the flow of these conversations.


Setting: Family living room. 

            I am watching a football game on TV. 

           Young Carter is playing with his action figures on the floor.


Lights.  Camera.  ACTION!


Me: Hey Buddy, watch this touchdown pass!  It’s AWESOME!

Carter:  (never looking up from his toys) What?

Me: Look!  It’s awesome!

Carter: (still not looking up) What?

Me: Hey…look…awe–

Carter: What?

Me: (growing increasingly exasperated) This touchdown was awesome!

Carter: What was?

Me: The touch—down.

Carter: Awesome?

Me: Just watch

Carter: (shifting focus back to his toys) Look what Spiderman can do…it’s AWESOME!

Me: (rewinding the game to the touchdown play) What?

Carter: It’s awesome!

Me: (confused, but still searching for the beginning of the play on the TV)  What?  The touchdown?

Carter: (now equally confused) What?

Me: (pausing the football game again and looking at Carter) What?

Carter: (blinking)….

Me: (blinking)…

Carter:  I bet Spiderman can play football.

Me: What?

Carter: (looking me right in the eye) Spiderman. Can. Play. Foot. Ball.

Me: (in a defeated tone) Awesome.

Carter: What?


Riveting.  I know.  I should probably go clear off a spot on the top of the mantle for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar that I’m sure to win.  It can go right next to the Spiderman action figures.


Imagine that.


Me: An Oscar winner.









Have you ever heard of an idea or an invention and then thought “Why didn’t I come up with that?”    Me too.  Repeatedly.


It happened again yesterday.


On my way home from work I decided to listen to the local talk radio station.  As fate would have it, I tuned in just as they were going to a commercial break.  After the perfunctory mortgage, Realtor, and home improvement commercials, I was informed that I could now give the “perfect gift”.  For a small, monetary fee, I could name a star for a loved one. 


That’s right.  Name. A. Star.   BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE!!


Not only will the name be recorded in the National Star Registry (yes, there really is one of those), but they will also receive a beautiful certificate giving them the coordinates of THEIR star!  I’m fairly certain though, that there is actually no guarantee that they will ever be able to SEE their star. 


How confusing is this going to be for school children as they learn the constellations?  Not only will they have to learn about Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, The Big Dipper, and Orion…but now they’re also going to have to learn about Billy, Margaret, Xavier, and Craig.


At first, I was going to ramble on about the lunacy of being able to charge people for something like this, but then I thought better of it.  Instead, I am going to take this opportunity to applaud the kind of ingenuity & initiative that have made this country great!  Capitalism is alive and well!  In America, where people will obviously pay good money for just about anything, it is vital for ideas like this to continue to give us outlets to spend our copious amounts of discretionary cash.


In this spirit of enterprise, I have come up with a couple ideas of my own.  First, I would like to present to you the “Tag a Tree For Me” program.  In this age of environmental consciousness, what could be more gratifying than knowing someone has spent good money to name a random, oxygen producing tree for you?  I will record the name & registry number on a very professional looking Excel spreadsheet—which can be e-mailed to you upon request.  Every 6 or 7 years, I will e-mail you a picture of your tree so that you can see how it’s growing.  At the end of your subscription period, I will send you a paper certificate thanking you for your support and best of all, the certificate will actually be made from the tree you sponsored!  Ahh, the Circle of Life.


Along with trees, I am actually working on programs to name and register clouds, rock formations, and gusts of wind.  Stay tuned!


As fantastic as those ideas are, I am most proud of the following idea.  The main reason is that it is the easiest and quickest to implement.  Beginning today, I would like to introduce to you the “Pick-a-Post & Name It Initiative”. 


For only $10, I will name one of my posts for your loved one.  For less than the price of large supreme pizza (with a coupon…on a Thursday night… between the hours of 7:00pm-10:00pm), the people that are most important to you can have their name immortalized in print.  As a demonstration, I have named this column “Suzy”, after my grandmother…in honor of all the birthday money she has sent me over the years.


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words…but have you ever wondered what a thousand words are worth?


Roughly $20.


That’s why naming a 500 word post is only $10.  It’s simple math.


(P.S.—My grandmother got a deal!! This post is over 600 words!)


I wish our country were run by 4 year olds.  000_chicken02

I mean it! 

It’s not that I think 4 year olds could have averted the current economic crisis (although I’m not sure they could have made it much worse).   I express this sentiment for one reason only.  I love the candor of children.

In this age of political correctness and tolerance, it often feels as if we choose our words so carefully that when we’ve said something, we have to replay it in our mind to see if we’ve actually said what we meant to say.  More often than not, what we want to communicate gets lost in the superfluous wording that is required to dance around a particular topic.

That’s why I love kids.  They call it like it is.  If you have a booger in your nose, they’re gonna tell you.  In the middle of church.  Out loud.  While pointing.  Repeatedly. 

They don’t worry about whether someone will be offended.  They understand that they mean no harm, and they simply trust that everyone else understands and feels the same way.  There’s no such thing as politically correct with them.  There are only facts that need communicated.

Just yesterday, my son gave me another wonderful example of this.  Here’s the scenario:

My sister-in-law took my wife and children to the beach while I went on my trip to Pennsylvania (see previous post).  On this trip, they decided to take in a dinner show at Dixie Stampede.  During the show, my 4 year old son was apparently transfixed by the show itself.  There were horses, sheep, camels, and a multitude of human performers.  Not surprisingly, he didn’t touch his meal.  This was not a shock, but knowing how delicious their food is, I decided to ask him why he didn’t eat it.

Had I asked this question to your average adult, the conversation would have gone something like this:

“Hey pal, how come you didn’t eat your meal?  There’s yummy barbeque chicken, delicious soup, great veggies, and warm bread with soft butter!”

“Well, to be honest with you, I found the show to be so completely engrossing that even though the food looked and smelled delicious, I simply could not turn away from the riveting events in the arena. (Then in a whisper)  And, just between you and me, rotisserie chicken isn’t exactly my favorite.  I’m not saying that it’s not a great choice for most people…it’s just that it’s not MY favorite selection, if you know what I mean.”

Very PC. 

Now, let’s contrast this with the actual exchange I had with my son:

“Hey pal, how come you didn’t eat your meal?  There was yummy barbeque chicken, delicious soup, great veggies, and warm bread with soft butter!”

“Dad, it was a whole chicken…and when I turned it around I could see its butt hole.  I’m not gonna eat THAT!”

See?  Candor. 

You can’t argue with that…and even if you could, why would you? 

Come 2012, you can have Palin.  I’m voting for the Preschoolers.