Spring 2012 – Focus on diet and exercise

01 Jul

Hey what’s up? Long time no post.

Here’s an entry about what Maria and I have been up to all spring. Mainly fitness, diet, and not so much partying. If you’re interested in exercise or getting into shape, check this out.


We committed to an exercise program that’s been around for a while now. P90x is a strength and conditioning program (not a Thor muscle-building program) by compulsive blabbermouth Tony Horton, a fitness instructor out of California. I’d heard word of the program kicking around for some time now, and had grown bored with my usual gym routine. I had been feeling uninspired and that my exercise gains weren’t quite what they should be, so I knew had I had to shake things up a bit.

Maria wanted in too, and though I wasn’t sure she could jump in with limited gym experience and discipline, she quickly dissolved any doubt I might have had.

I won’t run you through the full details of the program, you can read about that here. I will just list some pros and cons from my experience with it.


-Intensive and mostly well-rounded exercise regime.
-Incorporates strength and cardio workouts.
-Tones you up with amazing results.
-Lots of variation for easy to difficult levels.


-Time intensive (I would recommend buying the gear and doing it at home. It will save you time from trekking to the gym four days a week, and of course, the cost of the membership.)
-Focuses largely on upper body. There are leg workouts, but I have not noticed as dramatic results in the legs as I have in the upper body.
-Watching Tony Horton six days a week can drive you a bit batty because he’s a compulsive talker and his sense of humor is lame. I think even his gym buddies tire of him but do their best to focus on what they’re doing.

I should also mention that despite my best attempts to ignore it for most of my life, I do have a disability that affected some aspects of the workout. When I was 16 I underwent scoliosis surgery (curvature of the spine) and as a result, I permanently have 2 4-inch rods implanted on either side of my spine. You can imagine how that limits mobility. Some days, the impact of jumping can be felt in my upper vertebrae and it’s not a comfortable feeling. But I always did what I could (or did an alternative exercise.) The good thing about the program is that you can alternate exercises or do variations if you need to. So really, there can be something for everyone here.


One day I made the mistake of eating a slice of pizza before I left work. I got to the gym and found that I had no strength to put into the workout at all. I was so angry at myself. I knew I could do it, but I was physically unable. I felt like I would throw up. The only variable that day was that I had eaten that damned piece of pizza. So if you are serious about exercise, you have to cut out the chips and soda habit or you are not going to have what it takes to get through these work outs. You won’t have the right kind of fuel in the tank and you’ll be sputtering until you conk out. Not only that, but obviously you’re not going to chisel out those abs when you eat garbage.

‘Diet’ does not mean you starve yourself. That’s an outdated idea, you shouldn’t do it, and it’s worse for you in the long run. Diet means you make a meal plan and stick to it as best as you can. I actually ate more during this program than I normally ate before. I was just eating the right things. I would even argue that the diet aspect of the program was more important than the actual exercise.

The program lays out a meal program which is great for some people, but didn’t work at all for us. It’s a meat-heavy diet, and Maria is a vegetarian. I also don’t like to eat meat all the time, and have been cutting back quite a lot though I am not a vegetarian. Many of the things listed in the diet are just not available to us here in S. Korea, so we had to substitute and improvise where we could. Before you say “but how did you get protein?” I will say that if you are doing the food research you should be doing… you know that meat is not the only way to get protein. Eating animal fat makes your own fat harder to lose. And that kind of fat is not what you want.

A huge amount of gratitude goes to Maria for her persistence with preparing the food day in and day out. I take no credit for this. Dinners and lunches, often breakfasts too. Without a question, she devoted far more time to this program and she is largely to thank for getting us both through it. Not only did she get through the program and prepare the meals, she found the time to start a food blog, get into food photography, and do other things like attend a yoga retreat. What a superwoman. To find out more about what we ate and how she prepared it, visit her blog at

Cheating because you’re human

You know how important diet is. I know that some people have a hard time with sticking to a specific (healthy!) diet and I want to be honest – I was by no means perfect. I sometimes ate chocolate or ice cream. I drank beer. I just didn’t eat a whole chocolate bar (I’d share with Maria.) I would eat one scoop of ice cream and not a whole sundae. I would often drink just one (tall) can of beer… often shared with Maria. If you have cravings, you can make it work. The trick is to NOT GO OVERBOARD. Discipline yourself, but don’t choke yourself. You have to enjoy life, right?

Finally, I will admit that though it’s a 91 day program, I would say in all reality we probably worked out about 75 of those days. I’m telling you that in case you ever decide to do the program and just can’t get a workout in on a given day. It doesn’t mean you should just give up your routine. Try to make up the day later (as we did at the end of the program,) or get outside and do something else active, as we sometimes opted to do. But don’t let it all go to waste just because the time is dragging on or you missed a day or two. Stay with it. You will be glad you did.

And finally, the pictures.

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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Life Abroad


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