My 8-Week Birthday Photo Shoot Challenge
I’m about to turn 42 years old, and I want to keep pushing myself to make fitness gains. It isn’t enough to maintain: For as long as you can grow, you should. To keep myself going, and to show how good my program is, I have designed a fitness challenge for myself using my INTEGRE8T Wellness program as the template.
Good morning! It’s the end of Week 1 of my 8-week challenge, iso t’s time to check in and analyze how I did. I got a haircut (I don’t think that counts as progress – well, maybe it does). Anyway, today is May 6th, 2018. Let’s jump in and see how I did.
Okay, so let’s do some comparisons with that footage from last week. I said I wanted to get rid of this. And if you look closely – this is relaxed – if I flex a little bit, you can see that this line is definitely more pronounced, and this one is starting to come in. Ultimately, I want this undercut to be visible all the way across under my abs. Also these little pads on the side of my abs are not as pronounced – they were out a little bit further. They’re flattening out here.
Another goal is to get rid of this crease of belly fat, which has diminished a bit. Ultimately, I want all this to flatten back out, so this is getting flatter. And if you look from the side, see, this is not as pronounced. When this body fat is all gone my external obliques will show up more across my pelvis. And there’s this little fat pad right here by the bellybutton right there. So that little bit there will eventually flatten out, so that it’s gone. So there’s still a little bit left to get off around here.
But also, in the meantime, my cuts in my thigh muscles have come back out pretty well. You can see all my muscles much better now. So yeah, my cuts are more defined, and all this is starting to get a little bit smoother.
How to measure my progress toward my fitness goals
So I used to be a high school teacher and a college professor, and I have a very methodical way of analyzing and critiquing results and effort. To keep this simple I’m going to give myself a grade on each of the eight patterns. If I completed the task for each day Monday through Friday I’ll give myself a point for that day. So if I do it all five days, Monday through Friday, that’s an A. Four is B. Three is C. Two is D. One or zero is an F. And I am going to give myself the weekends off to rest and recuperate. It doesn’t mean that I’m going crazy on the weekends, it just means that I need at least a little time to not be quite so focused on everything all at once.
Now, with that in mind, once I give myself a grade for each of the eight patterns I can then give myself a grade for the progress I made for the entire week. And not just for the results I made in terms of losing weight or body fat percentage points, but also in terms of implementing the entire program as a whole, the way it was intended to be used.
Pattern 1: Breath
I used my breath consciously while I was exercising on all five days and I also remembered to check in with my breathing throughout each day, so I do get an A for breath this week.
Pattern 2: Hydration
Okay, so the rule for hydration generally is that you should just strive for 64 ounces in a day, and to drink more if you’ve been active and/or exposed to high or low temperatures. Some people create a goal to double that, which would be an entire gallon; however, a friend of mine who is a nurse told me that that isn’t necessarily very good for you. You have to be careful of something called water intoxication, which can actually be really very dangerous. So for that reason, I’ve decided to set a goal halfway between the two. My goal is 96 ounces of water per day, and I did that all five days, so I also get an A for hydration this week.
Pattern 3: Nutrition
I have a very through nutrition plan centered on intermittent fasting. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting since 2010. But I developed this based on advice given by Martin of www.LeanGains.com. Depending on how I feel, I’ll adjust portion sizes for my meals. However it really is ideal to do exactly what I’ve described, and I’ll include a screenshot for you to see what my meal plan is each day. On the other hand, even if I don’t hit every meal exactly how I described it, sometimes it’s enough that I ate at all. I haven’t said this before on the channel, but I was anorexic for 20 years. Sometimes I have to show myself a little bit of compassion, and give myself credit for eating, even if it isn’t exactly as described.
This week I did not follow any of the dinners quite exactly as described, though I did eat dinner each day. But I did follow all the other meals exactly as described. And I did not cheat at all – I wanted to – but I had no candy, no chocolate, no desserts of any kind… and I followed practically all the goals. So for that reason, I’m going to give myself an A for nutrition this week.
Pattern 4: Strength
I did all five sessions for strength this week; however, the session for back got cut short, because I forgot about an appointment, so I didn’t do all of it. But I did get three quarters of it done. I also have to figure out how to set the camera up faster during the workouts, so that that doesn’t slow the workouts down too much. I did work hard, but having to move the camera around really interrupted the flow, and I think sometimes really took me out of that place of time under tension. I do need to work on that. For those reasons, I’m going to give myself a B for strength this week.
Pattern 5: Conditioning
Structured conditioning is not part of my program right now, though I do anticipate adding it later in the 8-week program. It’s not what I’m trying to do right now. However, I did do quite a lot of walking and moving around. I don’t want the grade for this pattern throwing off my grade for the whole week, so I’m going to give myself a C for conditioning. C is for cookie, but C is for conditioning, and C is what I did this week. I’m going to give myself a C for conditioning, so it doesn’t skew me too high or too low. And although I was active it really wasn’t in a way that you could call training.
Pattern 6: Flexibility
I performed light stretching practically every day this week, and I did lead a couple of flexibility sessions this week – I did them with people. I also consistently checked in with my posture each day, and I was making corrections throughout the day, so I’m very cognizant of it. I should’ve made more time on some of those days for flexibility training, so I can’t say that I really trained flexibility as well as I should have. But I did include it some. For that reason I’m going to give myself a B for flexibility this week.
Pattern 7: Focus
I have a series of meditations that I try to do each day before I go to bed or each morning when I wake up. Those meditations define my intentions for the whole year, and they help me feel optimistic and – well – just focused, that’s what this whole pattern is about: Focus.
I also have a mantra that I’m supposed to be chanting before or while I’m trying to fall asleep. I have a lot of trouble with sleep, and I’ve always had a lot of trouble with sleep. The mantra is very encouraging, and when I can remember to use it, it helps me end my day on a very positive note. When I do remember to start my day with those affirmations (with those intentions), that helps me set the stage for the whole day. I have not been doing them, and that’s a real problem.
However, to mitigate that I do keep a very detailed accomplishment journal each day. I don’t like calling it a to-do list, because then it gets very oppressive, if there’s stuff on it that didn’t get checked off. So I keep an accomplishment journal, and once I do something I add it to that list. Then if I ever feel like I haven’t got anything done, or that I’m lazy or anything like that, I can go back to my accomplishment journal on any given day for the last two years (I’ve been keeping it every single day for two years now). I can go back on any single day and see exactly how much I’ve accomplished. That helps me stay focused as well.
Now I know that I should meditate to keep stress levels down. I have a lot of stress. I try not to show it as much as I used to when I was younger, but I do hold a lot of stress in my body, especially down in my bowels. Some people hold it in their neck, back, shoulders, hands, or even their face (if you see this crease here in their forehead). I keep it in my stomach, and I make myself literally sick with stress. So I need to get a lot better about that, and meditation would really help. I used to do it a lot, especially when I was a high school teacher and a college professor. Oh, I had to do it a lot back then! LOL I should do it now, and I did not – not at all – and I intend to resume doing it. I do need to start including that.
And so for that reason – oh, one more thing. I did invest in promoting my Instagram and YouTube accounts this week. I actually paid to promote some of my Instagram posts. That was a real, actual investment (not just in time and effort, but also some money). I also spent time interacting with other people on their channels, so I’m trying to really stay focused on this social media aspect of my career. I’m trying to use it more purposefully to promote what I’m trying to accomplish in my life. With all that in mind, I gave myself a C for focus this week, because I could definitely do better.
Pattern 8: Rest
Oh boy, here we come to the last one. So the general rule of thumb is that you should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. I haven’t done that in over ten years. And let me say right now that that is flat out impossible for me right now. I have to be up at 5:00 a.m. most mornings, and I don’t get home until 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. each night. There’s just no way I could go to bed at 9:00 pm, because I still have to eat and do some chores here at the house when I get home. Generally, the earliest I can go to bed is 10:00 p.m. (it’s more common that I go to bed at 10:30 to 11:30 p.m.). And yes, I know I should strive for eight hours. However that simply isn’t going to happen right now. I tend to do well on seven hours of sleep, so that’s a more realistic goal. It’s a more achievable goal, but I did not even get seven hours of sleep on any night this week. Also I didn’t socialize at all, and I didn’t go to Carowinds or to the movies. I didn’t do anything for the sheer fun of it at all this week. And for this reason, I’m going to give myself an F for Rest this week. I definitely need to be better about that one.
Summary: Grade for the week
As you can see, there is room for improvement in a lot of these areas – practically everywhere – and that’s to be expected, because we’re not perfect people. The two patterns that I need to bring particular attention to for myself are Focus and Rest. I knew that going into it. Frankly, I’m surprised I did better in Nutrition. I was expecting that to be a weaker area, but I’m pleasantly surprised I did well on that this week. Focus and Rest form a very important part of self-care, and I neglect that way too much.
Because of those two, it pulled me a little off my mark this week. So this week my overall grade is a C+. I did make some fitness gains, but I’m not sure that I made very many wellness gains. This is INTEGRE8T Wellness, not INTEGRE8T Fitness. So… good on me for the working out, but I do need to get better in other areas.
So C+ for Week 1.
Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load
This score indicates how damaging a food will be to your blood sugar levels. Foods that score 0-55 are rated low impact (and thus presumed to be better for diabetics and those looking to maintain healthy weight and/or body fat ratios), but this is not the whole picture.
Caffeine: 14 better options to ease SAD
Nearly a year ago to the dot, I wrote an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but there I focused on the importance of getting access to a full range spectrum of light. Here I’d like to focus on caffeine and sleep’s effect on SAD. I’ll also offer suggestions for what to do to help you feel better on the dark days.
Avoid fish oil supplements
I don’t generally promote supplements. Most of them play to specific, isolated points of medical research to serve as a magic pill. One remarkable example of this is fish oil.