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 is May 26th, 2018 at the end of Week 4 out of eight. That means I’m officially halfway done with my program! And let’s just check in and see how it’s going.
Okay, so here we are checking in. This is the end of Week 4: I’m halfway done. And as you can see, everything is getting much flatter and smoother here. These lines underneath my abs are – this one is really getting to become obvious, and this one is even rounding up under here.
So I’m definitely making very good progress. The pads here on the side are decidedly smaller all in all. And if you look back here, this crease is really pretty much – am I in the… it’s pretty much gone.. see how much flatter this is now? I don’t even have to bend in order to make that happen. So I’m pleased with how this is flattening out here overall.
My musculature looks stronger, thicker. My cuts have definitely popped back out,and I just feel generally better. My numbers are really not all that different from where I started; however, I don’t really have a problem with the numbers. I’m more interested in how I feel, and how I look, and how my clothes are fitting. And so I’m making progress.
The weight is still high, I think because of food and adding muscle potentially. And I think the body fat is off, because just yesterday it was 11.9%, today is 12.6%, so I’m not really all that worried about that. I feel good, so… I think that I have enough time to reach my goals for being camera-ready in four weeks. Yeah, I’m pleased. I’m moving right along.
I think it’s gonna be a good shoot – so I think it’s the first time I’ve ever actually looked forward to doing a photo shoot. Before, usually I came into them feeling terrified. But yeah… I think I look good, and there’s still time to get even better. So, good for me!
How to measure my progress toward my fitness goals
Okay, let’s just jump right in. I’ll be giving myself an A through an F for all eight of my patterns. If you want to understand that grading system better, you can check it out by clicking the link to Week 1 somewhere around in here. And then you’ll understand how I’m doing all this.
Pattern 1: Breath
Okay, Breath, pattern number one. I used my breath consciously during every work out this week, so in all five days I was using my breath to my advantage. But more than that, I was also checking in throughout the day with my breath to make sure that I was releasing any tension in my body, and to make sure that I wasn’t holding tension in my throat or anything. So I used Breath well this week, and I’m going to give myself an A.
Pattern 2: Hydration
Hydration, okay. So my goal is 96 ounces per day, and I explained why in video number one. You can check that out, if you want to understand why that number – and I drank 96 ounces of water on all five days, and so I get an A for Hydration this week.
Pattern 3: Nutrition
Nutrition has been a little bit inconsistent; however, my food was much better this week. My numbers for body weight and body fat came back down. During Week 3 I had a bit of a mishap. If you want to check that video out, and understand why I’m saying this. They do swing a lot from day to day, and that’s why I don’t worry so much about numbers. But the trend is towards getting leaner, even though my actual weight doesn’t seem to be going down. I think it’s because of the heavy foods I’ve been eating. They are very dense.
But I replaced those sugar-laden protein bars with mixed nuts. That definitely helped. And for snacking I got pork rinds. The reason is because they have that salty crunch that I’ve been really lately in place of sugar, and I think that means I’m still dehydrated (despite drinking 96 ounces of water a day), so I might need to up that goal a little bit. But another reason I chose pork rinds, is because they don’t have any impact on your insulin levels. So they don’t cause your body to jump in and store everything the way a cookie would – or something else that’s crunchy, like a cracker. I’m using the pork rinds in place of crackers, so that’s a far better choice – or corn chips – for something that’s salty and crunchy. I’m going with the pork rinds this week to see how that goes.
Oh, and I also got extra celery. I don’t know why I’m craving crunch so much, but I am, so I decided to get some extra celery. And the one area I did neglect this week was vegetables, but otherwise I did really well on Nutrition. And although last week I got an F, this week I’m giving myself a B.
Pattern 4: Strength
Strength went well this week. I did my workouts – I did all five workouts, so in that regard I got 100%. However, it was hard to maintain Focus. Partly it’s because of rest – and I’ll get to that later – but also, it’s because the camera work really slows everything down. Making sure that everything is framed properly just – it takes a lot of time. And so I could usually be done with my workouts, and not have to worry about losing focus. So the camera work really interrupts my sense of flow and concentration, and I’ll need to examine the way in which I’m recording these, because the camera really is negatively impacting my workouts. For those reasons, I’m holding steady at a B this week. If I could just concentrate better, I’d bump back up to an A, but until I can figure that nuance out, I’m at a B.
Pattern 5: Conditioning
Here at the end of Week 4 – the end of the first half of the program – Conditioning has not been part of the plan. And again, this week there was no Conditioning specifically involved. I do anticipate adding it – probably around Week 6 or Week 7, so in a couple more weeks I’ll probably add it in, depending on how lean I’m looking.
I did do a lot of walking around – sorry, there is a mosquito in here… there WAS a mosquito in here. I should give myself a bonus on Strength for that one. Anyway, I did do quite a lot of walking around, and that doesn’t count as Conditioning training, but it does still count as calories burnt (I guess). And I don’t want the grade for this to mess up my general average, so I’ve been giving myself a C every week. When I start actually incorporating Conditioning, I’ll give myself a more accurate grade. But in the meantime, I’m sitting pretty at a C.
Pattern 6: Flexibility
Okay, flexibility. So I performed at least some light stretching every single day throughout the week. I led a few Flexibility sessions with clients, wherein I actually did the stretches with them. I set at least a couple of minutes for structured stretching aside each day, so I did do something just for myself (like my shoulders, or my back, or whatever).
I did consistently check in with my posture, and I was constantly correcting myself. And yet I do need to increase my stretching each day. I can’t say that what I’m doing is actually Flexibility training. So I want to find a way to fit more of that in. I think I’m gonna start trying to include a five or ten-minute little session of Sun Salutations from yoga to address this. But in the meantime, I’m going to give myself a B.
Pattern 7: Focus
Alright, we’re getting into self-care now. This is Focus. I did say my mantra each week while falling asleep. If you want to know more about that, again, check out Week 1. I didn’t do my intentions, and I think it’s because I feel I need to update them, so I don’t really feel compelled to do them. I want to set some time aside to update those this coming week, so that I will feel better about actually investing energy and attention into those intentions.
I kept my accomplishment journal each day, I stayed organized, and I kept my attention on work goals. I did research and purchased some courses at Udemy.com, which is really cool – I strongly suggest it. I’m actually gonna start creating courses for sale on Udemy.com. I’ll put a link to that.
Let’s see, what else? I made progress on my recertification research, I made progress and updates on my website, and on my social media profiles I was very productive.
I didn’t meditate but like I just said, I think I’m gonna start incorporating some kind of a short yoga session for myself daily, wherein I can bring focus to Focus, as well as Flexibility and a little bit of light Rest. The yoga, this little five to ten, 15-minute yoga patch that I’m talking about will actually help address a lot of these patterns simultaneously. I really do need to look at incorporating some yoga. Because that would address Breath, Flexibility, meditation, Rest… it would get a lot of that all at once. So in the meantime, I am going to give myself an A for focus this week.
Pattern 8: Rest
Rest was another sore spot last week: I got an F in that as well. Last week was hard. This week is much better in many ways, but I started off poorly. I got only four hours of sleep Sunday going into Monday, and only six hours Monday going into Tuesday. I did a little better on Wednesday. My goal is seven hours each night, and I got that on Thursday and Friday nights. So that is definitely a step in the right direction.
However, I did not take a few hours off from working each day to just come home here, make food, and relax and visit with the kitty cat and just decompress. I didn’t do that. The way work was structured this week, I couldn’t get away. But that means I also didn’t nap, and I really should have, because last night I got a really searing headache that crossed the top of my eyes. It was really bad, and I think that I’ve been sleep deprived for far too long, and now it’s really beginning to catch up. I’m getting these other symptoms, so I do need to be consistent about rest.
I had to work Saturday, so I couldn’t socialize or go to Carowinds. I really want to go do that again: Roller coasters are very therapeutic for me. Also, I have a Miata (a convertible Miata, imagine that). And one of my favorite pastimes is to put the top down on the Miata and go cruising down the Blueridge Parkway in Western North Carolina. It’s absolutely stunning, and it always gjves me a spiritual reset. I always come back feeling much, much better. And I haven’t done that. So for those reasons, I’m going to give myself another F this week. I really do need consistently to commit getting more Rest of all kinds. So it’s an F.
Summary: Grade for the week
Okay, so as you can see there is room for improvement, that will always be the case and that’s to be expected. Conditioning isn’t a factor yet, but I maintained my grade from last week, I maintained it for breath, strength, flexibility and focus. I slipped pretty badly on rest, last week I got a C but this week I gave myself an F again, I slipped pretty badly there, but I made improvements to hydration and nutrition. I feel stronger and thicker and I look leaner regardless of the numbers. So all that is good news. But that F in rest really does undermine my progress and my overall wellness. Last week I gave myself a B overall for the week, but that F holds me back a bit and so this week I’m giving myself an overall grade of C+.
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.
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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.