Archive for January, 2011

P90X – more details and pictures!

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Ok, I have come to grips with posting the pictures and detailed stats. I’m only putting links to the photos so that, if looking at weight loss photos is not your thing, you can opt out! Be kind, people. When I reach my next goal – in 2 more pounds, I’ll post updated pics!!! These were so 8 pounds ago ūüôā

Detailed Breakdown of Progress:
P90X - Stats

Pictures show days 0, 30, 60, and 90:
front view photo

side view photo

back view photo – my favorite – new muscles, yay!

P90X Update – Finally!!!

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Ok, I expect to take some heat for waiting so long to post the results. I don’t really have an excuse. Anyway, I finished my first round of P90X on August 27 (in reality, it was P117X for me – had some injury time outs that were unrelated to the program). Remember way back in May when I started? I posted my day 0 stats HERE, and then left everyone hanging!

I cannot say enough good things about P90X. It’s no exaggeration to say that it has drastically changed my life. I feel so much better about myself. I’m healthy, I’m in shape, and I am eating clean! Fitness and good nutrition are now permanent parts of my life, but that wasn’t always so. Those of you who know me well, know that I have always enjoyed being active and athletic – playing soccer 4 seasons per year in high school, doing intramural sports in college and grad school, going to the gym (intermittently), taking fitness classes, never turning down a chance for a good competitive game (bring on the contact sports!!!). Somehow, though, I never had the body that I wanted. Even double sessions in high school didn’t completely do the trick! I just kind of gave up and assumed that “this is just how I’m made.”

I know many people, particularly women, struggle with weight-related self esteem and confidence issues; I have certainly suffered through many years of feeling bad about myself in all different types of situations, but all relating to how I perceived myself physically. If you’ve ever experienced this type of debilitating lack of confidence, you know that it can creep into so many parts of your life: social, personal relationships, even work, etc.

While this is extremely personal for me, I feel an obligation to talk openly about it, because, through P90X, I’ve taken huge strides toward resolving these feelings and becoming a physically and mentally healthier person. P90X has given me the opportunity for a total transformation! I always thought I was doing the right things to lose weight and get in shape. I thought my diet was decent and I exercised a lot. P90X taught me that, in my case, 75% of my problem was diet. I wasn’t necessarily eating bad food, just the wrong proportions – too many carbs and not enough protein. People OFTEN ask “do I really need to follow the nutrition plan for P90X?” The answer is YES, you do! I asked the same question – who feels like dieting anyway?? But, with some prodding from Jesse, I decided to really embrace the entire program, nutrition and all – it’s only 90 days, right? Between the intense (and very satisfying) workouts, and the change in diet, the pounds and inches were melting off. I was never hungry! In fact, I was eating much more than I ever had (very large grocery bills prove it).

I hit a bit of a plateau in phase II. I stayed on the fat shredder phase of the diet for 60 days, instead of only 30. It’s very flexible that way – you just need to listen to your body. I think I stayed on the fat shredder phase for a bit too long, which slowed my results a bit (see phase II results). In phase III of the workouts, however, I moved on to phase II of the nutrition plan. I never got to phase III of the diet (still, to this day). I’m still loosely following phase II. Anyhow, have a look at the results. I have a more detailed version of the results table that shows from where the inches were lost (e.g. waist, legs, etc.), but it’s kind of big, so I decided to go with a summary instead. If there are cries of outrage, I’ll see what I can do to post the deets.

Just as an update, I finished P90X on August 27. Since then, I’ve continued to exercise (4 or 5 times/week) and eat well and have lost about 9 more pounds (more on that in another post). Now I’m just kind of maintaining. I’d maybe like to lose 5 or 6 more pounds, but I’m not going to obsess over it. I am the thinnest I have EVER been. I went from a size 10/12 to a size 6. I wasn’t even a size 6 in high school!!! Thanks, Tony Horton, for showing me the way!!! If I can do it, anyone can do it. It just takes a commitment to eat well and press play every day – one day at a time.


Shed Update

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

So you all remember that last post about the shed where Tina and I were trying to figure out if it was going to look too big? ¬†Well, thanks to all the input we got from our readers, we’ve decided to go ahead with it. ¬†This is a highly desired project to free up some space in the basement. ¬†Although we had great intentions of getting this done last summer, work, life, travel, other projects, budget constraints, and the fact that I haven’t finished the design stage yet have kept us from finishing it up. ¬†We have made significant progress with the time we have found to work on it though. ¬†Let me catch you up on what we’ve done…

We started by stringing out the three-foot offset from the property line that is required by the town.  Then, we staked out the potential corners of the shed.  This led us to building the rough frame to get an idea of the size of the shed:

The next step was laying out the actual corners of the shed. I built batter boards so we could put up some string:

We used part of the temporary sidewall frame to get the rough location of the shed:

Tina and I surveyed the topography of the land in the vicinity of the shed to assess potential drainage issues:


Then, we installed the batter boards and strings. Once the strings were in the correct position, we cut grooves in the boards so we could quickly get the strings in place to check our work:

Now it was time for the hard work:

The soil here is actually very nice for digging as it is very sandy with only a few thin clay layers:

The biggest rock was about 2 inches in diameter and the worst problem I had was with roots in the northeast hole:

I finished the holes in one day but then we got busy and they sat covered for 2.5 months:

By November, I was anxious to try and make progress before the weather got unpleasant so I ordered some of the materials to get the site work completed and the deck built. Here’s a pile of 5.5 tons of 3/4″ stone. It’s more than I need for the shed, but I have a few other ideas for it and I didn’t want to pay multiple delivery charges:

Here’s the pressure-treated lumber for the deck and 15 80-lb bags of concrete mix:

And the tubes for the concrete pillars. Also, some of the 500 square feet of tile that we bought that we’re not going to use. Does anyone want any tile? Let’s make a deal:

I cleaned up the holes to get the concrete tubes installed plumb and then started mixing. It was easier than I expected and I was able to finish off the 6 pillars in one afternoon:

I graffiti-ed up the posts:



The following weekend, I was back out in the yard to remove some soil to make room for the stone. That corner of the yard is always damp and I didn’t want the shed sitting right above the damp soil so I’m putting a few inches of stone to keep things a bit more dry. ¬†I marked a line 1 foot beyond the edge of the shed and got to work. ¬†The first task was moving the soil that I had removed for the pillars. ¬†I transfered these piles to a pile up near the driveway. ¬†I’m going to have to find some place to haul this to because we don’t have anywhere on the property where we need that much fill:

Next, we pulled off a couple of inches of really nice organic soil:

We hauled this to the other side of the back yard so we can use it to build some raised beds near the bird feeders in the spring:

I continued digging until I had a nice slope from the center of the shed toward the edges to keep water from pooling underneath. I also dug a ditch around the outside to catch the runoff from the roof. I didn’t finish on the weekend and with some cold weather coming I raced to finish this off one night in the rain by the light of a Coleman lantern:

By mid-December, snow stopped my progress:

When we had a warm spell the week after Christmas, I took the opportunity to continue my work on the site. I shoveled off the remaining snow and laid down some landscape fabric to keep the stones from mixing with the soil and to keep weeds from popping up around the edges:

After countless trips from the driveway to the back yard with the wheelbarrow, I had filled in the hole with the stone:


It took about 2/3 of the pile of stone. It’s nice to be able to walk from the driveway to the front door without climbing a mountain:

Meanwhile, we’ve been stockpiling materials as we come across them. Pops found a couple of replacement sashes at his local lumber yard that were never picked up:

And he had some shingles left over from one of his projects that he was willing to get out of his garage:

I’m hoping that weather and schedules combine to allow me to finish building the deck sometime this month. I will also get serious about finishing up the plans so I can order the lumber and get the rest of the shed built!

Basement Shelves

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

With work closed from December 23 to January 3, we found ourselves with plenty of time to get some things done around the house. There is plenty of work to be done on the shed but I wanted to plan an inside project in case the weather didn’t cooperate. With some extra money from a credit card rewards check, we decided to move forward with some shelving for the basement. We haven’t unpacked a lot of things because we still have work to do in almost every room of the house. With all of the tools I’ve been finding on craigslist and the assorted piles of lumber and other materials for the house, it was getting hard to move around down there, let alone find anything. I drew up some quick plans for two sets of shelves in SketchUp and ordered the lumber. The plans were for one 16-foot wide set of four shelves for large items along the front wall of the house and a smaller four-foot wide set of six shelves near the basement stairs for pantry-like storage since we don’t have a pantry upstairs.

After a wonderful long weekend spent celebrating the holiday with both of our families, we drove home from my parents house in a raging blizzard. This was perfect, I thought. I’ll be able to focus on the inside project while the weather is bad. When we woke Monday morning, the unusual silence told us that there would be no work done with power tools. The electric company estimated that power would be back by 11:30 PM. Then they called back and revised their estimate to 11:30 AM. Later in the morning, the called again, saying that the power would be back by 4:30 Tuesday afternoon. Undeterred, Tina and I headed to the basement with our headlamps to move the boxes and furniture out of the way.

Power was restored by 2:30 in the afternoon and I was able to get started cutting the lumber. The first and most time-consuming step was routing dadoes into the vertical posts to provide additional support for the horizontal rails. For the large set of shelves, this required removing over 296 cubic inches of material. I really need to invest in a dado stack and tasks like this make me thing that a radial arm saw would be a more useful cross-cutting tool than a chop saw (one of which will probably be my next tool purchase). I could have been done in a quarter of the time. Once I finished the routing, I started cutting the horizontal support pieces. Again, this was more time consuming because I was using a circular saw, which required more measuring between cuts. Just about when I had all the pieces cut, Pops arrived to help out. We were able to quickly assemble the shelves thanks to the labor saving framing nailer. I’m sure glad I found that and the compressor at a yard sale!

Once the big shelves were finished, Pops helped me cut the lumber for the smaller shelves. He headed home for a New Years party but I was able to quickly assemble the small shelves.

Here is the space before the big shelves were installed:

And here are the big shelves:

You can also see the smaller shelves to the right:

The big shelves were assembled by building the ladders first, then nailing in the horizontal beam. The plywood was tacked on top and finally, the trim piece was added to stiffen the whole unit:

Here is a better view of the smaller shelves:

These were constructed by building the shelf frame first, then adding the plywood and sliding the whole unit into the dadoes on the vertical supports. This was quicker and easier but I was only able to do it this way because I had full access to both sides of the unit for nailing:

In the end, we added 172 square feet of shelving to the basement.¬† Hopefully this helps us get more organized.¬† We’ve already begun filling up the pantry shelves.¬† We’ve committed to going through all of the boxes and purging some unneeded items before they are put on the big shelves.¬† We’re saving that project for another snowy day.¬† The total cost for this project was about $225.¬† That money wouldn’t have bought anything nearly as big or sturdy, and it only took about 16 hours to get it done.¬† I wonder how long before the shelves are full?