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! This is the end of Week Number 2. Today is May 12, 2018, so it’s time to check in and see how I did.
Okay, jumping right in – it’s getting to the point where I barely have to flex for my definition to show, especially through my legs. And I can barely even flex and everything pops right back out. As you can see this line across here – here’s relaxed – if you remember I wanted to get a line all the way across here. If you compare it from last week, this line has become more pronounced, this one’s coming out, and I barely have to touch it at all to make the line come across the entire bottom. The first time, before I even started, I had to really pull down to reveal it. Last week I had to push a little bit, but now I barely have to touch it at all for that definition to show through. So that ultimately is what I want. It’s coming closer and closer.
The pads here are a little bit smaller. They’re gonna be the last part to come off. But I also want to get rid of the crease across my lower back, and I think that is coming off pretty nicely. Before – right through here – there was a really, really pronounced crease. And it’s still there; however, it’s not as extreme as it was, and I need to bend over more to make it crease. So this is coming down a bit, and the pad here is definitely smaller. So I’m leaning out well at the end of week two. I’m 25% of the way done with my program, and I think I’m making pretty good progress.
You can also see the definition of my back really well. And my arms. Everything is coming right back out. So I think that I’m on track for my eight-week goal, and I think I might meet it early, which means I can make even more progress ahead of what I actually want to do.
How to measure my progress toward my fitness goals
Okay, so let’s jump right in. Let’s see. So I explained my grading system last week. I’m not going to do that again here. Week 1 is quite a bit longer, because of all the explaining I did, but you can see the link for it somewhere around here. I get dyslexic: It will either be here or here… somewhere a link will pop up. Just click that, if you want a fuller explanation for how I’m grading myself. So because I already did that, let’s just jump forward (and I hope that you will be sure to go check out that other video).
Pattern 1: Breath
Okay, so I used Breath consciously while I was exercising on all five days. Very purposefully! And I also remembered to check in with my breathing throughout the day. And for that reason – because I got all five days – I’m going to give myself an A for Breath.
Pattern 2: Hydration
As I explained last week, I strive for 96 ounces of water per day, and I explained why. And I did that all five days this week, so I’m going to give myself an A for Hydration again this week. So: A!
Pattern 3: Nutrition
Last week I gave myself an A for Nutrition, because I ate all three meals each day, and I got all my calories. I didn’t follow the menu perfectly, but close enough, and I didn’t do any cheating. This week I followed breakfast and lunch. I didn’t really follow dinner at all. I know that I got the calories. I’m not sure that the macros were right: My fats were probably high, and my carbs were probably low. This weekend was my mother’s birthday, as well as Mother’s Day, so I went to see her. I drank wine with dinner, and so that was a cheat. So last week was an A in Nutrition, but this week I’m giving myself a C.
Pattern 4: Strength
So I got to do all five of my workouts again this week. Last week’s back session was all messed up, so I gave myself a B for strength last week. But I worked hard, and I got all five of the workouts in. I set the camera up faster, so the workouts flowed better. There wasn’t quite as much time lost. Having a camera minion would really help with that, so if you know anybody that would like to be a camera minion – to be my minion – please let me know. So anyway, last week I got a B for Strength, and this week I’m giving myself an A.
Pattern 5: Conditioning
As I said last week, Conditioning is not yet part of the program that I’ve created for myself. So just for the same reason I did last week – check out Week 1 if you want to understand better – I’m going to give myself a C for Conditioning again this week.
Pattern 6: Flexibility
Last week I led some stretching sessions, and didn’t really do much stretching for myself beyond that. This week I led those sessions, but I did remember to do some light stretching each day for myself (not leading sessions for other people). I did that, but on top of that I was also very cognizant about stretching my chest and shoulders, especially my hamstrings.
So I did consistently check in with my posture, and I corrected myself frequently throughout each day. I do need to still increase more the amount of time I’m stretching each day, because I still don’t feel like I can really call what I’ve been doing Flexibility training. I did, this week, bring more attention to Flexibility. So last week I gave myself a B for Flexibility, and I’m gonna go ahead and do that again this week. Because although I addressed it daily, I don’t feel like I did it as much as I should. So there’s still some room for improvement there.
If I could just set aside three to five minutes each day to just do something for my own Flexibility training that doesn’t have anything to do with leading somebody else… then I think that would be a point for improvement. So I’m going to give myself a B, and so I held steady on that from last week to this week.
Pattern 7: Focus
So last week Focus was one of the two patterns that I particularly wanted to bring some attention to, and I did that this week. As I mentioned before, I have my series of meditations and mantras, and I did do my mantra each night when I was falling to sleep. And it really, really helped! I don’t remember falling asleep. So putting that affirming mantra on repeat in my head really helped me fall asleep a lot easier.
And let’s see, what else did I do? I kept my accomplishment journal each day, so that’s still on track.
I was still interacting on social media, reading articles, looking for people and accounts that were inspiring to me. So I did stay motivated with social media – been very good about that lately.
I did not meditate at all this week, and I do want to start being mindful of that. Maybe while I’m doing the Flexibility training? To also slip the meditation/Focus training in there as well? But I’ve other modalities of practicing Focus aside of meditation. I want to add the meditation, just because I know it’s good for me and really very helpful in general. So I think that’s something I can do simultaneously with the Flexibility training.
I did not invest money in promoting my Instagram and YouTube accounts this week like I did last week, but I invested a lot of time and thought into it. So I’m still investing in what I’m trying to accomplish online. And I do feel like I’m staying very focused on everything. So I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for that, because you don’t always have to spend money to try to be effective. In fact keeping all this as organic as possible would be really helpful.
So, for these reasons, I’m going to give myself a B in Focus this week. Last week it was a C, and I said that I wanted to bring some real attention – some more focus – to Focus. And I did, so I’m giving myself a mark up this week: We’ll go with a B for Focus this week.
Pattern 8: Rest
Okay, this is the pattern I struggle with the most. This is Rest, and last week I gave myself an F. And I know that I very consistently have to keep my intentions on this pattern very clear, because if I don’t get enough sleep, everything else falls apart. And so I set a goal for getting seven hours of sleep each night. I explained why getting eight or nine is impossible, so I set the goal of getting seven hours. And I got that three nights this week, so that’s a huge improvement. Last week I think the most sleep I got any one night was six, maybe six and a half. So this week my average sleep time was quite a bit longer. I got to sleep in some mornings. So it’s not necessarily that I went to bed earlier, although on two – one, but that’s not true… that means I got seven hours of sleep on four or five nights!
So yeah, okay. I feel much better about Rest this week. I did take a few hours off from working each afternoon this week. So I allowed myself some time to decompress a little bit. I didn’t socialize or go to Carowinds (which would have been really nice this weekend), but… and although I didn’t do anything else for the sheer fun of it – in terms of stuff on my own or with friends – I did get to go see my mother (I’ve mentioned that a couple of times already). I got to see Mom. That was – I love my mom… I love mom – Happy Birthday, Mom! Happy Birthday, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day! So it was good to see her. And so for all these reasons, I think that my Rest improved pretty dramatically this week. So last week was an F, but this week I’m going to give myself a C.
Summary: Grade for the week
As always, there is room for improvement practically everywhere, which is to be expected. I did improve some from last week, especially for Rest. I did much better with self-care this week, between Focus and Rest improving. I really did do much better with self-care this week. I did cheat on food a little bit, but other than that I think that I did quite well this week. So last week I gave myself a C+ for the overall grade – for the whole week, a C+. This week – I did all the math – and today I got a B.
So Week 2 I get a B.
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.
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.
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.