Category: Uncategorized

P90X phase 1 workouts, reviewed

Looking around the internet, I’ve noticed that very few “review” sites actually drill down into the workouts themselves when discussing P90X. I believe there are two reasons for this: One, most review sites are run by either beach body or beach body affiliates, and the “reviews” are just canned material telling you how great it is. Two, it takes time. There are a bunch of workouts, and to write about each of them would take a while. I  figured someone may as well give it a go.

To recap, P90X is so-named because the entire program takes 90 days, broken down into three 30-day “phases.” Each month is three weeks of intensity followed by a “recovery week,” except for the final phase which is four weeks of intensity all the way through. Here are the workouts for phase one and what I thought of them:

Chest and Back

This might be one of the best, fundamental workouts I’ve ever done. This is a tough workout, and it’s clear that by starting with this one Beach Body is trying to seek you on just how “extreme” the program is. The workout is two rounds of six sets of exercises per body part, so in total you’ll do 12 chest exercises and 12 back. That doesn’t sound like much, but the exercises are mostly pull-ups for the back, and ALL pushups for the chest. There’s no opportunity to reduce the weight to keep going; you just have to settle for fewer reps. Tony’s “tip of the day” in this workout is to pace yourself, and I agree. Just because you might be able to pump out 30 pushups once doesn’t mean you can do it multiple times, and wearing yourself out too early will only make it harder to put in good work later in the workout.

Also, don’t get sucked into trying to keep up with the monsters in the video. That’s a good way to feel really lousy about yourself really fast. Always push for one more rep when you think you’re done, but don’t feel bad if you can’t churn out 20 pull-ups in the last half of the workout.

Plyometrics

Murder. Absolute murder. That said, this video is as good an example as any to mention that you shouldn’t be put off by the long runtimes on the videos. Though this one clocks in at over an hour, that time includes the warmup and cool down portions too. In reality, the actual workout probably takes about 45 minutes, which is plenty because it’s awful. You’re essentially hopping, squatting and jumping around for 45 minutes, and even Tony is pretty gassed by the end of it. It’s an excellent cardio workout, but it’s also monotonous – you do (I think) four exercises, and then you repeat. You also do this video on day two in every active week of every phase, and you will get very, very sick of it. I started subbing in “Triometrics” and “Agility” from P90X3 just to keep me sane. Some people also choose to swap in “Insanity” workouts, as well. This workout never gets any easier, either – even as your cardio improves, you’ll find yourself jumping higher and faster to make up for it.

Shoulders and Arms

This is basically the workout you do when you go to the gym but don’t really know what you want to do that day. It’s fine, it’s a boilerplate upper body workout. The moves go shoulders, biceps, triceps in that order, and then get repeated. This is probably the least-sweaty you’ll get during any P90X workout

Yoga X

To be honest I only did this once, because it’s 90 goddamn minutes long. Not only that, but the first 40 or so minutes are the same “sun salutation” over and over and over again. I’m not saying you should skip yoga altogether, but nobody needs to do yoga for an hour and a half every week. I used the yoga video from P90X3 (only 30 min), but you could use literally anything if you feel like you MUST make yoga part of your workout.

Legs and Back

Other than Chest and Back, this might be one of the strongest workouts in the program. Like Plyometrics, it also gets done each week regardless of what phase you’re in. I think what amazes me most about this workout is just how much work you can get done without weights, even in your legs. Some exercises have the option of adding weight, but if you’re lifting for strength I advise adding weight to every exercise and ignoring the rep requirements. Instead of holding little weights and doing 25 squats, for instance, get much larger ones and only do 10-12. You’ll do about twice as much leg work as you do back, with the sequences going “legs, legs, back, break.” I think pull-ups are the only back exercises you’ll do in this one, and some of the variations suck (particularly “corn cob” pull-ups).

Kenpo

This is a joke. It’s basically “Tae Bo,” if anyone remembers that. It’s only meant to be a cardio workout, and it kind of is, but it’s incredibly lame and there’s no reason for it to be an hour long. Do it if you want, but I started subbing in P90X3’s “MMX” workout, which is infinitely superior and only about half as long. Barring that, just go for a run or something.

Ab Ripper X

Can’t forget about this one. You’ll never do this on its own, but rather after the weightlifting workouts (chest/back, shoulders/arms, legs/back). It’s only about 15 minutes long, but it’s a tough 15 minutes. Don’t expect to find garden variety crunches, either – it’s a lot more like a Pilates workout than it is a traditional ab routine. For me, it focuses a little too much on the hip flexors, but I suppose they are part of the “core” and need to be worked too. Three times per week is probably a little much for this, but your abs will definitely get stronger.

Recovery week

After three weeks of brutal workouts, the recovery week is a welcome respite. Even though you shouldn’t be super sore following a workout by this point, you’ll probably be very bored with them by now. The recovery week isn’t supposed to be totally idle – the program has you doing yoga, kenpo and lots of stretching, and they introduce one new workout: Core Synergistics. It’s unlike any of the other workouts, and focuses very much on combination/balance moves. It is, however, very much like the workouts in P90X2, which I’m doing now. To be honest, after the first phase I didn’t do much during the recovery weeks. That probably hurt my results a little, but it was good for my sanity.

No one follows you on Yelp

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 11.33.23 AM

Yes, I’m aware that people can follow other people on Yelp!, but that doesn’t mean they should. In theory, Yelp! is a great idea: Hold businesses accountable by giving the power to the people and letting them review and rate their performance. No more haughty dipshits being paid off to write glowing restaurant reviews. No guessing as to whether or not a place is worth your time.

In practice, it’s a terrible idea, because everyone on the internet is a haughty dipshit.

For one thing, no one goes on Yelp! to say that a place was just ok. They either gush or they bitch, but that’s inherent in any crowdsourced assessment scenario. What’s much, much worse about Yelp! are people like the guy you see above, who turn Yelp! into their own personal blogging platform, as though anyone gives a shit what individuals have to say. Individuality is exactly the reason for Yelp!’s existence in the first place. An individual review is useless; it only has value when you aggregate opinions. That’s why when douche canoes post entirely-too-long missives about a goddamn chicken Philly cheese steak, it makes me want to throw my computer into a lake.

It’s a really dirty trick too, because turning Yelp! into a blog means you’re guaranteed to get pageviews. No one can critique you or your writing; the worst they can do is send you a message. You can say a review was “helpful,” but there’s no option to say that it was “the worst fucking thing I’ve ever seen.” That would be a really big button. It’s the same smarmy, anti-negativity bullshit that powers sites like BuzzFeed. Hell, you can even say a review was “funny,” which is not something a Yelp! review should ever aspire to be. No one should have to read an amateur dumbass attempt to make pizza “funny.” Even if people do “follow” you on Yelp!, get over yourself. No one’s waking up in the morning to check to see your latest review, as though your opinions drive the tastes of other people. They don’t.

322 goddamned reviews. That’s nearly one for every day. What does this guy even do all day, besides provide content to a popular website, for free?

If you want an online platform for expressing yourself that no one will read or care about, start an actual blog. It’s working out swell for me.

Livestrong.com: The platonic ideal of responsible journalism

Pictured: Food Detective

Pictured: Food Detective

Good God do I hate Lance Armstrong. I hate that he’s famous for riding a bicycle. I hate that, despite being better at riding a bicycle than anyone else, he doped his balls off (literally) to win in grand fashion. I hate that he lied about it. More than anything, I hate the pseudo-charitable “foundation” he started (but is no longer associated with), Livestrong. Their website, livestrong.com, is lousy with pointless, link-bait bullshit. Today, they’re bringing you a piece of crack journalism in which they dig up some real dirt on Taco Bell.

Taco Bell doesn’t just head south of the border – it crosses all the way over into dangerous high-fat, high-sodium territory with some of the items on its current menu. You would think that for a four-item meal, the ingredient list would be pretty simple, but that doesn’t seem to be true for this crunchy beef taco.

Uh-oh. This can’t be good. You mean to say fast food tacos might not be health food? Has anyone alerted president Obama? Good thing they have “detective” Dr. Gayl Canfield on the case to tell us about what’s in these “tacos de muerte”.

BEEF: Ground beef should technically be just one ingredient, but this brown mixture is made up of more than 20 ingredients. The beef seasoning alone contains oat product isolated, salt, pepper, chili, onion powder, tomato powder, oats, soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin, soybean oil, garlic powder, yeast extract autolyzed, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder processed with alkali, silicon dioxide, natural flavors, yeast, corn starch modified, and natural smoke flavor.

Yes, ground beef should just be one ingredient. But this is seasoned ground beef, you twat. I swear, the gall of a food purveyor, putting seasonings in things that claim to be seasoned. Lock them up and throw away the key.

CHEESE: The “real” in “real cheddar cheese” might as well stand for “really processed.” According to FoodFacts.com, the cheese in this taco is made of milk pasteurized cultures, salt, enzymes, annatto color and anti-caking agents.

So, it’s the same as the shredded cheese I buy at the grocery store? I also like how the “expert” is citing foodfacts.com. You can’t put it in the internet if it’s not real, right?

SODIUM: This taco contains something of a salt assault. Everything but the lettuce is loaded with salt. While some sodium is essential for your body to function properly, exceeding the limit of 2,300 mg per day — two of these tacos make up more than 25 percent of your daily allowance — may increase your risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke heart attack and other health issues.

Holy shit, I could get 1/4 of my daily sodium allowance by eating 1/3 of my daily meals? Math like that is why I don’t trust BIG TACO. Also, “salt assault”. Ha.

Among the most suspicious items in the group, Canfield notes, is the yeast extracts and natural smoke flavor. “The yeast may cause a similar reaction to MSG sensitivities,” she explains. “There’s also been some speculation that the natural smoke flavor made from beech wood may be toxic in humans, but much more research and evidence is needed before we can rule it a problem.”

This is what really pissed me off about this article, and this site in general. In order to present the article as something shocking or ground-breaking to get clicks, they paid an “expert” to use weasel words like “speculation” and “may”. So, natural smoke flavor “may” kill you. So “might” getting hit by a bus. If you want to tell me about potentially harmful additives, fine. But the headline “What’s Really Inside That Taco Bell Crunchy Beef Taco?” makes it sound like it’s going to be an expose on horse meat or something. It’s misleading, it’s link-baiting, and it’s irresponsible. On the sidebar, I see an article called “How To Lose Leg Fat In Thirty Days”, as though there’s some magic bullet for losing leg fat as opposed to other fat.

This just in, fast food might not be as wholesome and honest as you thought – kind of like Lance Armstrong.

Seth MacFarlane is a Meanie Head

tumblr_mirldeaxs81qbed3ho1_500

 

For three and half hours last night, Seth MacFarlane did exactly what people expected him to do as host of the Academy Awards: Turn it into an episode of Family Guy. That part’s ok, I guess. What people are not ok with was some of his jokes, because they were about people who are powerless nobodies who are utterly incapable of defending or speaking for themselves (as are all rich, famous Hollywood stars). Good thing we have journalistic superheroes like Gawker to give them a voice! For their part, they put together a clip of all of Seth’s “offensive” jokes and then said some mean things about it themselves, because apparently it’s ok to say mean things about someone as long as that person said mean things first. Via Gawker:

At this point there’s no question that Seth MacFarlane was a terrible Oscar host. Not only were his jokes unfunny, tired, self-centered and boring, but also incredibly sexist, homophobic and racist. Boob jokes. Diet jokes. “No homo” jokes. Rape jokes. Abuse jokes. Slave jokes. Jew jokes. And to add to the atrocity, the whole act was punctuated by MacFarlane’s absurd preoccupation with whether or not he was a good host, which—as mentioned—he clearly was not. So perhaps he was right in asking “what did you expect?”

For one thing, no one is a good Oscar host. It’s a thankless job. If his stint as a host was an “atrocity”, then so was everyone’s. Secondly, I forgot about the new laws enacted that make it illegal to make jokes about things that are real, like boobs, Jewish people, gay people, and Chris Brown. Is making said jokes tasteful? No, maybe not, but making a joke about gays or jews or women doesn’t necessarily make someone a homophobe, anti semite, or misogynist. I’ll give you some advice, for free: If you are a lady in Hollywood who would be aghast at the thought of someone making a joke about the fact that you showed your boobs in a movie, then do not accept millions of dollars to show your boobs in a movie. Oh wait, I hope I’m not being sexist and holding back women in the workplace. Via The New Yorker:

The women were not showing their bodies to amuse Seth MacFarlane but, rather, to do their job. Or did they just think they were doing serious work? You girls think you’re making art, the Academy, through MacFarlane, seemed to say, but all we—and the “we” was resolutely male—really see is that we got you to undress. The joke’s on you.

Dammit, there I go again. These poor women are just trying to eek out a living, and here’s Seth MacFarlane belittling them when all they’re doing is putting in a hard day’s work. The problem with that is that as an actress, your job is to be viewed. Watched. Seen. Judged, even. Hell, all of us are judged at our jobs. That’s how our employers justify keeping us around. The difference is that for most of us, our jobs don’t entail taking our clothes off. And, all that aside, if you think that a filmmaker includes nudity in a film for purely artistic purposes (particularly in a major-release film), you’re kidding yourself. Sure, artistic endeavors take us to weird places, but if you don’t want to do nudity then don’t do nudity. If you do, don’t be surprised when a bunch of dudes want to gawk and make a show of it. As the public, we are under no obligation to not judge someone just because they made a movie. What about just doing what you’re paid to do leads the author to believe that you’re automatically entitled to respect and immune from comedy or scrutiny?

In general, all the attention around MacFarlane’s otherwise unremarkable hosting stint calls attention to a greater trend within online media, the idea that the world would be a better place if everyone would just stop saying mean things about other people. Would it? Yes, I suppose it would be, but it’s never, ever going to happen. But sites like Gawker, emboldened by the notion that they are speaking out for groups that are presumably Less Fortunate, have no problem flinging a bunch of “-ist” words at Seth MacFarlane until something sticks. What’s their goal? Do they think that maybe, with enough negativity, everyone will turn against any person that says or does something that they don’t like, that the masses will finally “see the light” and join them in their moral and intellectual superiority? Remember, we’re not even talking about genuine “hate speech” here, just things that offend some people. I’m all for societal progress, and I understand the function and necessity of groups who Fight the Good Fight, but I don’t think that trying to censor the majority in order to protect the feelings of a relative few is an effective strategy. This is the kind of bullshit that happens when you let millennials run media companies.

Free speech is a protected right, as long as you only say nice things.

I Am Not a Very Good Blogger

Blogging

This is (allegedly) a blog, and by posting things to it that (allegedly) makes me a blogger. If post frequency is a component of being a successful blogger, then in that aspect I am failing miserably. I apologize to all half dozen or so of you who at one point regularly followed this website.

I last posted in November, and since then I’ve been busy with some stuff. I’ve published, I don’t know, maybe 10 new articles at AskMen.com in that time? I’ve also started working as an advice-giver over at HeTexted.com. If you’re a lady who has relationship issues, click over there and feel free to ask away. Don’t worry, all correspondence is totally anonymous. Just don’t click on any of the guys listed below me, because they all look like tools and from what I can gather never respond to any questions. I believe the site owners have plans to launch a similar site for guys called “SheTexted” sometime in the future. Given that men are known for our willingness to ask people for advice (particularly women), that should go over like gangbusters. I’ve also been pretty preoccupied with trying to find full-time employment, which seems to be ticking up in the last six weeks or so.

I promise to try to put a little more time into this moving forward. It’s not that I owe you anything (because I don’t), but I figure if I can entertain even one person for a few minutes every day, that’s better than nothing.

Unsolicited Product Review for the Cuisinart Griddler

Do you like juicy, perfectly seared meats? Crispy, melty paninis? Devices that do only a couple of things, but do them well? If you said yes, then do yourself a favor and do not buy a fucking Cusinart Griddler.

Part of this is my fault, as I saw one in a store and registered for it for my wedding. Similarly, I don’t blame whoever it was who bought it for us, because at first glance it looks awesome. I mean, who wouldn’t want a countertop appliance that claims to have five different cooking functions? In a perfect world, everyone, that’s who. No company’s product has taken a bigger shit on humanity since Phillip Morris was founded.

For one thing, if you’re a product designer for a well-respected appliance company thinking of creating a device with “5-in-1 capabilities”, take your late night infomercial bullshit elsewhere and go fist yourself. The Griddler claims to be a “contact grill” (a shittier George Foreman without the helpful slant), griddle, full grill (a griddle with ridges), panini press, and “half grill/half griddle”. For one thing, calling a device both a “contact grill” and a panini press is like calling a serial killer a racist because one of his victims was a black guy. Just because one of the things a device is capable of grilling is a sandwich does not mean it deserves an additional title. But the one that really gets me is the last one, a “half grill/half griddle”. Besides the fact that they already told us that the thing is capable of being both a grill and griddle, using it that way is something you’d only do when you were too fucked up to put the plates on the same way. Don’t worry though, because if that ever happens, this miraculous turd of an appliance can’t cook anything anyway.

The main reason this thing sucks so hard is that it holds and regulates its temperature as well as an ice cube in Satan’s asshole. It has two knobs that do the same thing, which is to laugh at you when you choose a temperature setting. Whatever you set it to, the Griddler humors you at first, getting hot enough. But as soon as you put a piece of potential food on it, the temperature drops and it never recovers. And you’ll sit there, watching your chicken or whatever steam and stew rather that sear, and the whole time the smug asshole of an indicator light will lie to your face, telling you it’s  at the proper temperature when in reality it’s not hot enough to melt butter. It will eventually work its way back up, but not until your food is mush.

The problem, I think, is with the cooking plates themselves. Cuisinart designed them to be non-stick, dishwasher safe, and a complete waste of material. I didn’t say “metal”, because I don’t think the Griddler’s plates contain any. They’re so lightweight and cheap feeling that it’s as if the designers saw one of those kids’ “medieval knight” halloween costumes and said “hey, let’s use those”. Steel and iron typically hold their temperature really well; they just chose not to use any. Combine that with a thermostat that regulates its temperature about as well as an infant, and the only thing the Griddler is capable of making is a shit sandwich, and even then it would struggle to create grill marks. What you do get is a whole lot of grease, because the Griddler, as I mentioned, doesn’t have any slope to let the grease drain off. All the fat just sits there. There is a tiny drain at the rear of the machine, but you have to push the grease out manually. With practice, you can do this so that only about 80% of it ends up on your counter.

I registered for the Griddler because I live in an apartment building and wanted something I could use to grill burgers and brats on my balcony during football games. What I got instead was raped. Don’t get raped. Don’t buy a Cuisinart Griddler.