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Lag a'mhuilin

DrCalcart wants a new belt...No, not that kind.

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Main Quest: Achieve the next belt level in my martial art

 

It's 12:45 on a Saturday. I'm sitting at my computer in my underwear, gut bulging forward, hunger rumbling in my stomach, planning for the near future. I start by browsing through my past challenges, trying to capture the essence of the few successful ones, and two things jump out at me: What motivated me to originally start paleo and then challenge 1 was a weight of over 170, and now I'm at 180.2, and even if I know I have more muscle mass than back then, I can't fit into many of my clothes, and I want to slim down. Second, during my first successful challenge, on July 2, 2013, I wrote that I aced my martial arts belt test...for the same belt level I'm currently at (green-and-a-half). That's two years with no progress, and even discounting the year and change I took off from training, that still shocked me.

 

So now I have a main goal, and one that's not as head-in-the-clouds as "achieve CW star body" (I'll save that one for later), so how can I achieve it? I'll need to build stamina and flexibility, and lose fat, oh and of course actually train in the martial art (Kuk Sool Kwan). Through my morning investigation I learned some personal recipes for success by going back through my challenges:

  1. Establish a consistent routine
  2. (Safely) Push myself
  3. Allow for some flexibility in the routine
  4. Eat a low- or no-carb diet
  5. Keep fitness on the mind (When I was in shape I would always be thinking of what fitness thing I would do with my free time that day)
  6. Don't be derailed by a weekend trip -- hiking or bodyweight workouts can be substitutes

 

July 2015 Challenge

 

GOAL 1: Diet

Why is it so hard for me to jump back into paleo? My main weaknesses are still hamburger buns, fries, and pizza, and the inability to say no to bread when ordering. For this challenge I'm going to try something different. I'm going to try to build a habit month to month, so for the first four weeks, NO FRENCH FRIES. Then, after that I'll add NO HAMBURGER BUNS/BREAD. But this time around I'll allow myself one cheat meal per week. Still, though, I think french fries should just be completely out of my diet, cheat or not. They have no nutritional or taste value. I'm also trying to eat less calories over-all. I've been cutting out breakfast to see what that does to my energy level and waistline.

 

Grading: +3 CON. +1 CHA

 

 

GOAL 2: Fitness Plan

I have a spreadsheet! The capital-P Plan currently consists of the following:

 

OPTIONS

  • Mon – Kuk Sool or Hike
  • Tue  â€“ Weights or Hike
  • Wed – Yoga Challenge
  • Thu  â€“ Weights, Kuk Sool, or Hike
  • Fri    â€“ Kuk Sool or Hike
  • Sat   – Yoga Flexibility (morning), Weights, and/or Hike (evening))
  • Sun  â€“ Yoga Flexibility (morning) or Yoga Strength (evening) and Meal Planning

 

WEEKLY RULES

  1. At least one 3-5 mile hike
  2. Attend 2 yoga sessions
  3. Yoga Challenge on Wed or Sun
  4. Attend 2 Kuk Sool sessions
  5. At least two lifting workouts
  6. Something every day

Grading: +2 STR, +1 CHA, +3 DEX

 

 

GOAL 3: Active at Work

There are two main ways I (can and mostly do) stay active at work. I'm lucky to have a boss who really doesn't care when I come and go, as long as I get shit done.

  1. Walking: 2 miles a day around noon
  2. 4:00 Fitness: For months now, a group of coworkers and I have come together every Mon, Wed, and Fri at 4:00 for a half-hour LEGIT fitness session. I'm talking max-rep push-ups (and then I do an extra set at the end); planks (front, or front and sides); wall-sits, lunges, and or squats; and some occasional extra core work, followed by stretches. An army reserve coworker and I pretty much spearhead 4:00 Fitness, and while he's out at some training right now, I've been leading the group and changing Friday's workout to a short but intense yoga session. Through 4:00 Fitness I have set and shattered multiple personal fitness goals: 50 push-ups? BOOM! 3-minute wall-sit? BOOM! 3-minute plank? BOOM! My new push-up goal is 90 in two sets. So far I'm at 72.

My goal here is to keep on doing those two things to stay active at work. #2 is already a habit. #1 used to happen occasionally, but last week I made the decision to do it every day.

 

​Grading: +3 STR, +1 STA, +1 CHA

 

MOTIVATION:  Martial arts progress and fitting into my clothes.

 

I think that's enough for this challenge. Yep, it took me an hour and 15 mins to write this. WTF! Where did my Saturday go? Well...here goes nothing something!

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Sounds like an awesome overall quest.  I'm looking to incorporate more yoga and flexibility in my challenge as well.  And I'm so jealous of your 4pm Fitness session!  I go for walks during the day at work, but don't make nearly enough use of our building gym (ok, I don't even have access....).  Would love to have coworkers to work out with and keep me motivated!

 

I'll be following along!

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Sounds like an awesome overall quest.  I'm looking to incorporate more yoga and flexibility in my challenge as well.  And I'm so jealous of your 4pm Fitness session!  I go for walks during the day at work, but don't make nearly enough use of our building gym (ok, I don't even have access....).  Would love to have coworkers to work out with and keep me motivated!

 

I'll be following along!

 

Yoga is great. I had a pretty nasty martial arts injury last challenge, and I'm pretty sure yoga flexibility saved me from it being much worse. I currently have a year of "unlimited yoga" membership at a local studio, but I haven't been consistently in months. I really need to get back to it, hence making it part of my goals.

 

Your building has a gym? Get access! I wish we had more space and equipment for 4:00 Fitness. Right now it's like 6 people awkwardly doing exercises in the middle of a cubicle area, some of us half in and out of cubicles, some in the main hallway. While the director doesn't mind, some day there will be someone important walking by, and it will be weird!

 

Thanks for following :-)

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I like that you're spreading exercise throughout your day. I bet that keeps ya active and energized throughout the day! Right now, I'm just doing 45ish minute workouts at the gym. It can be tough sometimes especially after a long day plopped in front of a computer. When the fall semester starts though I should be getting more walking in which will spread my exercise through the day better.

 

Paleo is tough! I'm doing it as well this challenge and am gonna struggle most with giving up desserts and sugary things. We can do it though! :) 

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Yoga is great. I had a pretty nasty martial arts injury last challenge, and I'm pretty sure yoga flexibility saved me from it being much worse. I currently have a year of "unlimited yoga" membership at a local studio, but I haven't been consistently in months. I really need to get back to it, hence making it part of my goals.

 

Your building has a gym? Get access! I wish we had more space and equipment for 4:00 Fitness. Right now it's like 6 people awkwardly doing exercises in the middle of a cubicle area, some of us half in and out of cubicles, some in the main hallway. While the director doesn't mind, some day there will be someone important walking by, and it will be weird!

 

Thanks for following :-)

 

Ok friend - I'll get gym access if you get back into that yoga studio!  ;)  

 

And if anyone important walks by just say you're doing "team building for synergistic refocusing of energy... in the cloud".  Works every time.

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I like your goals for the challenge.  What is this Yoga Challenge that you mention?  I am always looking to incorporate Yoga in my week but tend to push it aside for other things. 

I have take walks during my lunch which I find helps me to reset my mind and mood for the day.  I am super jelly of your 4pm workout groups!  And of the gym the other person has at their work, get access!! =)

Good luck on cutting the fries!  Those are nasty lil buggards! 

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What is this Yoga Challenge that you mention?

 

Instead of labeling a class beginner, intermediate, advanced, inhuman, hot, cold, sweltering, etc. The studio I go to went to, and will again go to soon, labels classes by their intention and strenuousness, but they can be adapted for all levels of yoga practice. Wednesday's class is called Yoga Challenge, by which to mean it's challenging--like really challenging. In my opinion it's the best class they offer. They also offer Yoga for Flexibility, which are good, and Yoga for Strength/Fitness, which are generally just as challenging as Yoga Challenge, depending on the instructor.

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Week 1, Day 1


I'm already exhausted!


 


GOAL 1: Diet


I did really well here. Lunch wasn't paleo, but wasn't unhealthy. I had a beef bulgogi bowl with half rice, half lettuce, some glass noodles, kimchi cucumbers, and sprouts. Dinner was a seared salmon, finished in the oven, and a handful of veggies.


 


GOAL 2: Fitness


Monday's fitness activity was a "hike," but I ended up joining a friend for a 6.5 mi walk down a beach (on the boardwalk, on sand, and through the neighborhood).


 


GOAL 3: Active at work


2 Mile walk - check. 4:00 Fitness check-check.


 


I actually started my challenge on Sunday with a biceps and back workout, and Monday and today I can't straighten my arms! I also noticed that the last time I did that same workout was a year and 4 months before, and I weighed almost exactly 30 pounds less. Pretty sure that's not all fat, but it's still a shocking number.


 


Anyway, so I thought that 4:00 Fitness push-ups would be a bust because of the arms, but I still performed acceptably: 35/25 push-ups (2 sets), 1 minute each of planks on the front, right, and left sides, 2 minutes of wall-sits.


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An awesome first day! How did day 2 go? That's cool that you're scheduling something for every day. I made my challenge to get to the gym 3 days a week, but ideally it'd be more like 5. I'm scared to over commit though, and end up giving up like always. So on motivated weeks I'll do 5 and on non motivated weeks I'll do 3. It's summer for me right now (I'm a teacher) so getting in workouts is WAY easier than it will be in a few weeks. I like the 4:00 fitness idea, I might try to do something like that with the other teachers at my school. We tend to do 4:00 happy hour instead. =) Keep up the good work! It's always fun when a plan goes differently than expected. Hike turns into beach walk. Awesome. There are no beaches here, I walked down an alley next to a field yesterday and felt like I was in nature! lol

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Week 1, Day 1

I'm already exhausted!

 

GOAL 1: Diet

I did really well here. Lunch wasn't paleo, but wasn't unhealthy. I had a beef bulgogi bowl with half rice, half lettuce, some glass noodles, kimchi cucumbers, and sprouts. Dinner was a seared salmon, finished in the oven, and a handful of veggies.

 

GOAL 2: Fitness

Monday's fitness activity was a "hike," but I ended up joining a friend for a 6.5 mi walk down a beach (on the boardwalk, on sand, and through the neighborhood).

 

GOAL 3: Active at work

2 Mile walk - check. 4:00 Fitness check-check.

 

I actually started my challenge on Sunday with a biceps and back workout, and Monday and today I can't straighten my arms! I also noticed that the last time I did that same workout was a year and 4 months before, and I weighed almost exactly 30 pounds less. Pretty sure that's not all fat, but it's still a shocking number.

 

Anyway, so I thought that 4:00 Fitness push-ups would be a bust because of the arms, but I still performed acceptably: 35/25 push-ups (2 sets), 1 minute each of planks on the front, right, and left sides, 2 minutes of wall-sits.

 

Mmm that bulgogi bowl sounds amazing!  We're actually making homemade bulgolgi on the grill tonight and I'm already excited for it!

 

Do you use a workout tracker?  Pretty cool to be able to compare data across years like that!  And 35/25 pushups sounds more than acceptable to me - I can barely do 10 right now!  Good on you for still getting your 4pm workout in when you're tired!

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Getting back down to paleo/keto is no joke. Your meal looks healthy, and while not strict to the guidelines, healthy choices and improvements will get you there. Would you mind sharing where you're near that you have a beach and boardwalk to peruse? That sounds really nice.

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That's cool that you're scheduling something for every day. I made my challenge to get to the gym 3 days a week, but ideally it'd be more like 5. I'm scared to over commit though, and end up giving up like always. So on motivated weeks I'll do 5 and on non motivated weeks I'll do 3.

 

I gave myself the (almost) every day rule just so that I know unequivocally that "Today I will be doing a fitness thing," and there would be no room for me to make excuses. In hindsight, jumping in with some intense workouts cold turkey may have been a bad idea, but we'll see in a few days if I can acclimate to using muscles I didn't know I had :-)

 

Would you mind sharing where you're near that you have a beach and boardwalk to peruse? That sounds really nice.

 

Newport Beach, in Orange County, CA. There are lots of beaches around here, but I can probably count the number of times I've been to a beach in the last 10 years on one of E.T.'s hands.

 

Mmm that bulgogi bowl sounds amazing!  We're actually making homemade bulgolgi on the grill tonight and I'm already excited for it!

 

Do you use a workout tracker?  Pretty cool to be able to compare data across years like that!  And 35/25 pushups sounds more than acceptable to me - I can barely do 10 right now!  Good on you for still getting your 4pm workout in when you're tired!

 

I should make my own bulgogi. Okay I'm adding Korean to the list of future meals to make. (With cauliflower rice)  What did you do for a marinade? I'm going to have to buy the kimchi. Ain't nobody got time fo' dat.

 

I track everything with Google docs spreadsheets. I have a P90X doc that I found that is somewhat automated as far as tracking overall progress from several individual sheets for each workout type. (I just use the individual spreadsheets.) I also have a doc for the NF Rebel Strength Guide Dumbbell workout. I have the sheet linked in my signature below for the current challenge, and then finally I have one with all of my challenges.

 

Today's going to be a challenge -- arms sore, legs sore, walking at noon, 4pm Fitness, and maaaybe a Challenge Yoga class this evening. Yoga could make everything better or mess it up more. Hard to tell. I could just go to the later class -- Restorative Yoga :-)

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Week 1, Day 2


Wherein I cannot straighten my arms


 


GOAL 1: Diet


I did pretty well again. Lunch wasn't strictly paleo, but chicken caesar salad (with croutons and crostini). Dinner was homemade beef bolognese sans pasta (so sort of like a rich meaty chili), plus a spinach salad with cucumber, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, mozzarella, and homemade dressing.


 


GOAL 2: Fitness


Tuesdays options were martial arts, workout, or hike. I couldn't move my arms at 100% and the air quality was terrible, so workout it was. I almost didn't do it, but then heard Shia Labeouf yelling at me to "JUST DO IT!" I did the P90X legs and back workout without the back exercises, and I toned it down a bit in places to avoid injury.


 


GOAL 3: Active at work


2 Mile walk - check. I think I ended up walking close to 5 miles yesterday because I walked to lunch (not too far) then walked directly to a meeting (kinda far) and back to work (pretty far). In hindsight, walking to the meeting was a bad idea in this heat.


 


I'm thinking of adding another rule to my mix to increase flexibility and safety: either "You may decrease a number in one of these rules by one" and/or "Recovery trumps every rule -- take some time to mend." Thoughts?


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I grew up near Huntington, and I loved the boardwalk there, so I was curious. I suppose you ignore the beach once you live there. I'm in Colorado and I haven't gone up to the mountains for a while.

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 I should make my own bulgogi. Okay I'm adding Korean to the list of future meals to make. (With cauliflower rice)  What did you do for a marinade? I'm going to have to buy the kimchi. Ain't nobody got time fo' dat.

 

Recipe ahoy!  And yeah, we totally buy our kimchi at a little asian grocer.  That shit's hard!

 

I really need to watch that Shia Labeouf video.  Instead, I just picture running through the woods from Shia Labeouf....

 

Agreed about recovery!  Maybe be flexible about the work activity - or lead everyone in some group yoga!

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Recipe ahoy!  And yeah, we totally buy our kimchi at a little asian grocer.  That shit's hard!

 

I really need to watch that Shia Labeouf video.  Instead, I just picture running through the woods from Shia Labeouf....

 

Agreed about recovery!  Maybe be flexible about the work activity - or lead everyone in some group yoga!

 

Thanks for the recipe. Yeah who know that Shia would have this really cool artistic comeback? I call that video "Actual Cannibal Shia Labeouf," and that shit will stay in my head all day!" I really like his Sia video too.

 

Eh I still did the 4:00 Fitness. Push-ups actually helped to counter the bicep soreness. I just didn't push myself as hard as usual. But as you can see below, recovery day wasn't a complete waste...

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Week 1, Day 3


New rule: Recovery trumps all other fitness rules.


 


GOAL 1: Diet


Lunch was kind of a slip, but meh it can be my cheat meal -- slice of pizza, salad, and a cookie. Dinner, however, was great! I decided that a recovery day shouldn't mean a wasted day when it comes to the rest of my goals, so I decided to cook something I'd never made before--jambalaya. I started with Emeril's recipe and gave it a paleo twist. Instead of rice, I used cauliflower florets, pulsed to rice-size in a food processor (or grated, but that takes forever). Because rice will triple or quadruple in volume after cooked I used about quadruple the cauliflower "rice" that the recipe calls for (3 cups or around 2 lbs). And because the cauliflower won't absorb the chicken stock as much as rice would, knock the stock back from 3 cups to about 1/2 a cup. (I didn't measure, I just poured until it saturated the "rice.") It's up to you whether to use Worcestershire. It's not strictly paleo, and at 1 tsp probably adds very little in the way of flavor to the dish. I ended up using it. Also, beware that the creole seasoning recipe makes way more than you'll need, so I have lots of that left over too. Finally, I decided to cook or mostly cook the proteins beforehand so I didn't have to try to thoroughly cook raw meat in a pan crowded with other things. I would recommend this. I had a fairly large pan and it was still completely full. Anyway, it came out fantastic!


 


GOAL 2: Fitness


Recovery day.


 


GOAL 3: Active at work


2 mile walk -- check. 4:00 Fitness -- check. 35/35 Pull-ups, 1:00 wall sit (after my leg workout the day before I was more than okay with this), 80/20 squats (80% of weight on one leg) 10 each side, 2:15 plank, and some core.

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Week 1, Day 4


Recovery


 


GOAL 1: Diet


Non-existent. Lunch was a really good pulled pork sandwich, with pickles and vegetable slaw. Dinner didn't really happen, but I went to happy hour, had a couple of drinks, some hummus and pita and cucumbers, and three tiny mini corndogs. At least it was less food that I would normally eat for a "meal," and I didn't get hungry again after, so there's that.


 


GOAL 2: Fitness


Still in recovery


 


GOAL 3: Active at work


2 Mile walk - check.


 


This evening (Friday) I will hopefully be attending my first martial arts class of the challenge, which was one of the big motivations for the whole thing. I'm going to need some yoga this weekend to recover. Starting workouts cold turkey is making me feel old.

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Week 1, Day 5


 


GOAL 1: Diet


Lunch and dinner were both leftover paleo jumbalaya


 


GOAL 2: Fitness


2 hours of martial arts training. Strike drills, kicks, and some jun bong (2 sticks like on The Arrow) form training.


 


GOAL 3: Active at work


2 Mile walk - check. For 4:00 fitness I led the group in a 14-minute yoga routine from the youtoobs.

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Overall, looks like a pretty successful first week! Congrats!

 

Recovery is definitely important and I think having a recovery day or two makes you stronger over time. For me, doing pushups/strength training every other day works in my favor. After that day-long break my muscles are ready to take on the pushups again and my body just feels better in general. When I do it every day with no break, my muscles get more tense and tired. Yoga is a good way to use your recovery day. Although I don't have much experience with yoga, I've read that it does great things for your body. For me, doing deep stretching and/or cardio helps relieve my muscle soreness. 

Good luck! Hope your soreness dies down!

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Although I don't have much experience with yoga, I've read that it does great things for your body. For me, doing deep stretching and/or cardio helps relieve my muscle soreness. 

 

I went to a 75 minute yoga class on Saturday morning, and it was like a total body reset. I had forgotten how great yoga was! It left me with like a total body warmth and exhaustion that erased the week's soreness. I highly recommend it.

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Week 1, Day 6


 


GOAL 1: Diet


At lunch I had a minor paleo victory. I ordered a slow-cooked pulled pork sandwich, and when it came I took a look at the bun and decided it was something I didn't want/need to eat. After consuming the pork and onions with a fork, and finishing a small salad, I was plenty full... which has led me to reassess how much actual food I need in a meal. After that I went to the market and stocked up on veggies. Dinner was pasta-less bolognese and snacking on veggies as I prepped a big salad for the week.


 


GOAL 2: Fitness


75 minute yoga session in the morning. Total body reset. Soreness gone. I'd forgotten how great it was.

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Week 1, Day 7

Sunday
 
GOAL 1: Diet
Lunch was a burger and salad. After that I went to the theater to see Mission Impossible, and standing in line, looking at my reflection in the box office windows, I realized that I'm not doing enough diet-wise to get to where I like what I see in a mirror. Don't get me wrong, I like myself, just not my current state of (un)fitness. This might be my motivation to go full paleo. I also realized that I shouldn't pay $21 for a (fantastic) restaurant burger experience when I can buy stuff and make my own burger sans-bun for like $5. I've been on this weekend trend to find the best burger in town. That shit gets expensive! Dinner will be something paleo from my fridge -- either jambalaya, bolognese, or balsamic chicken thighs, and salad.
 
GOAL 2: Fitness
Just finished my week with a P90X chest and back workout. At 189 and 6, I did 12 more push-ups but 26 fewer pull-ups overall than I did a year and 4 months ago when I was 27 lbs lighter. 4:00 Fitness has really helped my chest and triceps strength. My new side goal is 200 push-ups during the course of this workout, but I should probably spend more effort on my back to increase the pull-ups.

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Sounds like you had a busy weekend!  That 75 minute yoga sounds amazing.  I used to go to hot yoga a few times a week and I loved it, but it was a little too expensive for me to continue.  Now I'm wondering if I should splurge and go once a week or something.  Also - how did the martial arts class go?

 

Best of luck going full paleo - sometimes you really do need those honest moments with yourself, even if they're painful to face.  And honestly if you're paying $21 for a burger you should be eating a steak!  ;)

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