Here’s something you don’t know about me if we’ve never met, something that the little Mickey Spillane picture attached to my bio won’t tell you: I’m remarkably handsome. To the extent that girls have to look away, that heterosexual guys are uncomfortable around me. There is some fairness to this world, however: God or fate or whatever you believe in balanced the scales by providing me about 40 pounds more than would normally be desirable for a man of my height and frame. So, the weight makes me almost look like a normal person. Yet for some foolish reason, I rail against the concept of fairness and try to reduce that comfortable 40. To that end, I introduced “Insanity” to my daily regimen, and I’ve been working on it for almost two months.
In case you haven’t seen the ads or heard it discussed at the water cooler, “Insanity” advertises itself as a series of the most difficult workout DVDs ever. For me, someone lugging around a spare set of tires; someone who gets winded opening the refrigerator door; someone who gets approached by strangers on the beach who ask if I could please keep my shirt on, “Insanity” seemed to be the perfect solution.
I was advised against it. By my wife (a physician), by my physician, even from the DVD’s themselves, which had a warning against people like me trying it. The warning even had my name in it. “Bobby, these DVDs are not intended for you…” The program’s for people who have some athletic or fitness grounding. It’s intense, it’s sudden, it’s right out of the gate brutal. It’s “enhanced interrogation.” And I was bringing nothing athletic to the table.
I don’t listen, so off I went. The first episode was “The Fit Test.” A brief warmup, and then you’re given an exercise movement and told to do as many of them as possible in a minute. Not, “jumping jacks,” or my favorite exercise, “page-turns;” they’re plyometric movements like “globe jumps” (4 jumps from a crouch with arms outstretched, jumping in a square formation), “suicide drills” (stand up, arms out, jump down into “the plank,” the pushup position, jump back up, standing with arms stretched upwards. Repeat.) This is not the workout, this is just the test to gauge my fitness level. Already I’m a puddle, and I haven’t even started.
For the first month, it’s about 40 minutes of pauses, bent over deep breaths, with intermittent bursts of exercise. That’s how I did it anyway. The DVD feature Sean T, the fitness superstar who developed the program and who is admittedly a gifted motivator and teacher.
Behind him are fitness professionals and dancers following his lead. And they’re also stopping, breathing, taking water breaks, although not as often as I am. The first month is alternating cardio, plyometric, “plank” exercises, breathing heavily, holding in dinner, light-headedness (those last three, I added to the regimen). Thursday is a “recovery” day, where the workout is merely hard, not the “Saw” like torture that makes up the other days. Sundays are days off.
Then, there’s a “recovery week” where the workouts are easier and slower, more about balance and recovery than sweat. Then comes the second month. Yeah, the second month.
I’m scared to write about the second month. Remember the long and brilliant pause Michael Palin took before describing the horrible things Doug Piranha would do (“He used…sarcasm.”) Month two is all about keeping food in your stomach and cleaning up the mess you make on the floor when you’re done. As Sean T describes the exercises, you just shake your head and laugh. The workouts are called things like “Max Interval Circuit” and “Max Plyo Circuit.” I hate those words. I just want to find some named Max and beat him up.
And here’s the end result. With just a week and a half left, I’m doing the exercises better. I’m more fit, I suppose. Not “fit,” but more fit than before. I have not lost the comfortable 40. I haven’t really lost a pound. My wife maintains I’ve lost an inch or two, but my wife is very nice. The problem is, I’ve continued the high-carb, indulgent food-fest diet I thought the workouts were allowing me.
This experience reinforces the notion I’ve had for a long time that working out alone is not the key to weight loss. When I was single, when I had no kids…in other words, when I had time, I would work out 6 days a week, but the only time I dropped weight was when I reduced carbs. Workouts are important if you’re interested in things like living longer and not passing out after every flight of stairs, but for weight loss, eat right. I’m glad I’m doing the program, despite the tone of the paragraphs above. I do feel better and I do value that longevity thing I mentioned. Maybe a more reasonable pace and a more sensible diet would have been preferable.