Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 17, 1 of about 3,000,000

In America, at least.

So let me tell you about my morning:

At the karate school I train and work at every Saturday is judo day. Judo is a martial arts sport involving lots of throwing people around, falling after being thrown to the ground, using your partner's weight against them. Today was the first judo day we've had there in two weeks because of holidays and incompatible schedules and I had been looking forward to it for a while.

So after stuffing my breakfast into me as I drove to the karate school and hoping I wouldn't see that food again as I was being thrown around, I got uniformed up and got going with the class. All was going well until about a half hour into the hour and a half long class. A half hour into the class brought with it an unbearable itching in three places: both armpits and, ahem, the perineum. First, let me tell you having a wild, uncontrollable itch down there is SO not an enjoyable experience. Not in the very, very slightest. Now, I knew right away that I was having an allergic reaction to something but I didn't know what, all I knew was that it was going to get the best of me. After trying to fight it out I gave up, because it was getting that bad, and went to the bathroom, baby powder in hand, to try and alleviate the itching. That didn't work. I was excused from the class to go and sit up in the office and wait this thing out.

In the meantime, the itching didn't stop, it did however decrease, and my face turned a pretty bright red. Right down the middle of it. It looked like I had been hit in the face with a burning hot piece of thick metal, funny but uncomfortable. All of this did subside eventually to where I'm now sitting at my computer, with a normal face, feeling pretty all right.

I bring all of this up because the reaction I had was due to the fact that I have numerous and pretty serious food allergies to legumes and beans. The worst of the worse are my allergies to peanuts and hazelnuts. Whenever I eat any of those things my throat constricts, I break out in itchy hives, and I get horribly awful stomach cramps for about one to two hours, sometimes longer. Well, apparently, one of the other students at the judo class either eats a lot of food cooked in peanut oil or cooks a lot of food in peanut oil. It seems that my peanut allergy was a lot worse than I originally thought it was and just by being and breathing around this person I inadvertently took in some of the peanut oil particles coming off of him through his sweat.

What an interesting morning it's been.

By the time I got home I was feeling well enough to go through my daily exercises, but not well enough to train like I normally do. I took it much easier than I usually do because of how I was feeling (and also because of the Benadryl coursing through my body, making me sleepy). I was hoping I would never get to a point in this project where I wouldn't be able to train as well as I know I can but things do happen, whether I want them to or not. It's a part of life, sucky as that part might be.

I need to keep in mind that while I might not have been able to work today like I have in the past few days it was a necessary sacrifice. I definitely do not want to push myself beyond my physical limits and have to take even more time resting and not doing what I need to do to be successful with this project. Letting my ego get in the way that much would be a very bad move on my part. That would all be a horrible tragedy.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 16, Hooo boy...

I don’t want to say that I didn’t expect this but, well, I didn’t expect this. Here it be, the new exercise program for your viewing pleasure:

1000 jumpropes

Elevated Pushups  8 x 15, Same as last week, legs on a chair

Shoulder Flys 4 x 10, Same as last week

Chest Flys 4 x 20, Put the band on the door anchor about eye level and stand with your back to the door.  Start with your arms open and back, and slowly bring the arms and fists together.  Hold a tic and with control open again.

Triceps Dips 6 x12, Same as last week

Biceps Curls 4 x 15, Stand on the band with your elbows by your side.  Without moving the elbows, lift the forearms.

Crunches 6 x 25, Same as last week

So, might I say, what the heck happened?! This thing just exploded into something that, might I say, begins with a “cah” and ends with a “razy”. I was totally rocking the last weeks exercise program and then BOOM! this happens out of the clear blue internet. I mean, come on! There has to be a more subtle way of telling someone that they need more muscle mass on their shoulders and chest.


Okay, I actually knew this was coming and I think anyone who knows even the slightest little bit about strength training will have seen this coming, from a mile away even. So there really should be no surprise. I do wish that we would have gotten straight into the cycling through of these strength training exercises instead of continuing with hammering the same group of muscles that I’ve spent the last week just exhausting to the point where it feels like my muscles are literally turning into some sort of jelly like substance.

But have no fear! Patrick sent along a little bit of fine print saying that we will eventually begin spending more time on other muscle groups and cycling through the different exercises, giving our muscles time to rest and heal themselves from the self-inflicted tearing asunder, instead of focusing on the same muscle groups every single day. Which is wonderful, when that day gets here, I mean. For the time being we’ll have to try and find some sort of fun in these daily exercises which will, admittedly, be difficult because, as those of you who have done something like this in the past will certainly know, working the same muscle groups day after day can get 1) tiring, really tiring and 2) boring.

I’ll have to find some way or system to make these exercises a bit more enjoyable for me the next week because boredom is a killer. Too much boredom can easily spell the end to, well, anything.

So I’ll rock this week, I will, I will. Honestly, I was beginning to enjoy it anyway--the burning sensation (that sounds worse than it actually is and if I weren’t talking about muscles then it would sound really bad), the veins bulging from my biceps and forearms, the euphoric sweatiness of it all. It makes me feel amped up and ALIVE!

Keep sending the love and you all have the best day ever!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 15, Some small changes

So it's the beginning of week #3 and you all know what that means, don't you people? That's right, it's a brand new diet plan! Well...kind of brand new, I mean, it's new but only during the evenings for the most part. So here it is for your wonderful viewing pleasure:

Morning - same:
50 grams carbs
100 grams fruit (no bananas)
150 grams vegetables

a.m. snack - same:
100 grams fruit (no banana), around 10:30 a.m.

Lunch - same:
150 grams carbs
250 grams vegetables

p.m. snack - same:
100 grams fruit (no banana), around 3:30 p.m.

Dinner - Cut to 80 grams carbs (used to be 100 grams), and 100 grams vegetables

evening snack - 2 bananas and 1 spoonful of soy protein, around 9:30 p.m.

In addition, within 20 minutes of finishing your workout, have 2 spoonfuls of soy protein with water.

So, yes, there that is. I'm digging it, I think that this one will be a lot easier for me to stomach this diet plan than the last one. Yes, yes, I know that doesn't make a whole bunch of sense since the new diet plan is almost basically the same as last weeks diet plan but I still believe that this one will be easier to handle now that some time has passed and I've been able to get accustomed to it. 

So essentially the deal with this weeks diet plan is that we're all working on taking our BMI's (body mass index) and, by eating less, dropping all of that unnecessary body mass that we don't really need, especially when we're trying to reach our peak condition. Our intake will keep decreasing more and more until our BMI's are down to...however little Patrick and Chen are looking for. Once we get to that point, when our bodies start bypassing the fat developing process for the most part and instead turn the food we take in into energy, then we'll start increasing our intake again until we reach the point where we're eating pretty good sized meals again (or should I say gigantic, hard to finish meals).

So that's part of what's in store for this coming week, the new exercise plan will be coming today and I'll post about that tomorrow. I'm feeling pretty alright with it, especially now that that I'm starting to feel better about this whole project--I'm learning how to make things work for me and, if not enjoy, then live with the big changes that are happening with me. Plus, I'll be able to sit down with the family on the weekends for dinner and have something more than a protein smoothie for the meal. Which is always good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 14, What's behind door number 3?

Who knows what's in store for all of us with tomorrow's diet and exercise update, perhaps more fruits? More carbs (I doubt that one very much)? More vegetables (Whoo-hoo?)? Who knows...who knows.

Well, if Patrick's latest e-mail to us three PCPers is any obvious clue then it won't be so different except for one major factor that I don't think we'll fully appreciate until the time between meals when we're clutching our stomachs and listening in hushed fear as those stomachs try to eat themselves because that's the only way they're going to get something to sustain themselves. That major factor is, folks, less food. I know that sounds unnecessary and to that I say to you, "Really? Unnecessary? First, 400 grams of vegetables a day is a freaking trial, not only to cook but to try and eat. Second, now that our metabolisms are lean, mean, fighting machines cutting down on all the food should make us lose fat mass like crazy."

Truth be told, though, I'm actually kind of looking forward to a way, I have no doubt that if this last week was as difficult as it was then this coming week will probably be difficult, too. Or maybe it won't, who knows? It will be nice, I think, to not have to cook as many vegetables as I am right now and I'm hoping that this next weeks diet plan won't actually have me cooking and eating more vegetables than I am right now. We'll see, we'll see.

Have a wonderful day, peoples.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 13, Writer's block

Aaah! I knew it had to happen sometime I just thought I would have another couple of weeks before it did.

So, come one! Come all! I welcome you kind ladies and sirs to the greatest, most spectacular spectacle in the whole world! Known as my current worst fear. Heights? I spit in their face! Public speaking? Bah, I revel in it! Creepy-crawlies? Not my favorite thing in the world but what-heck-ever!

No, my current greatest fear is sitting down, opening up my writing journal (or, in this case, turning on my computer), taking pen in hand, and sitting wide-eyed and dumbfounded with my mind at a dead stop. I try to force the ideas, try to make them come through some force of will but that never works and I don't think that's how it's supposed to work.

So that's what's plaguing me right now. So instead of spending most of my morning trying to force some kind of intellectual and philosophical entry on weight loss, muscle gain, and self-reflection I'm just going to give you all an update on how I'm doing (which, I guess is the point of this blog anyway). Things seem to be going pretty well nowadays, better than last Thursday, at least. I think I've figured out how to make the daily meals work for me in a way that is easiest for me. The exercises are still relatively difficult--the jumprope is still enjoyable but, man, those strength building exercises are annoyingly time consuming and difficult. One of the harder parts is this blog, as you can well see. Let's hope I gain some kind of inspiration by tomorrow when I sit down again to, hopefully, write something for all of you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 12, Noticeable changes

Three of them, right off the bat, smacked me in the face yesterday during all of my needless moping. Here they be:

First off, and most obviously, are the physical changes this project is having on me. It was bound to happen, and how could it not considering how few calories I'm taking in (which just has to be a heck of a lot less than Patrick and Chen are telling me, if Corry's diet plan averages out to be about 2000 calories with all of the extra carbs and protein she's taking then I have a hard time believing mine is 2100 calories)? According to Patrick the diet plans we're on for the first week are designed to ramp up our lazy metabolisms and turn them into super fat burning monsters so that when we start dialing the diets down even more (yes, even more than they already are, but I'm looking forward to that because that just means less food to cook everyday) the unnecessary fat mass we're carrying will just melt away and we'll really slim down. What a pleasant image. Despite that I'm already noticing lines I've never had before and I'm mysteriously attracted to the bathroom mirror more than I have been before, not that I see myself as grotesquely vain or anything, it's just something new and pretty freaking awesome.

I don't know if the second thing I've noticed has anything to do with the PCP but this started happening soon after I started the project so I'm assuming it's not just a coincidence, but it seems that my skin is clearing up and becoming better looking and more manageable. Now, I've never really had any big problems with bad skin in my past it was just always noticeable...but not anymore! I hope it doesn't turn out that I'm speaking too soon but for now it's pretty awesome. Massive amounts of vegetables don't just make us feel better and give us more energy--apparently, they have powers stronger and more mysterious than we will ever know...

And lastly, I've noticed right this very second that these daily blog entries seem to fluctuate--big entries, smaller entries, bigger entries, and on and on. They seem to want to act like wave patterns or something.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 11, Add a dash of doubt

Breaking deeply ingrained tendencies is difficult work.

First, let it be known that I want to do this. I want to see this project through to the end. I want to become better and stronger and healthier.

But man have these first weeks been getting to me. I'm sure that it all has to do with the whole suddenness of the project--I didn't know about my acceptance into the PCP until maybe five days before it started and I was, and still am, excited about it all but I have not had the foresight to mentally prepare myself for all of the changes and struggles that something like the PCP can bring.

Which brings me to this last Thursday... Thursday when we all received our new diet plans and the messing around was officially done. The real stuff started and we had to get down to the business of cutting down what we eat from day to day.

Sticking to a diet this ridged, or any diet with not a whole lot of wiggle room like the grapefruit diet or the Special K diet, can get tedious. After a few days of eating two to three bowls of Special K then dropping the whole thing and falling back on everything before you started doesn't seem like a bad idea. I'm having problems finding variances in this diet with not trying to overdo anything or eat too much of what I'm not supposed to. I'm having problems finding different, unique recipes for this new diet, what has essentially become a macrobiotic diet for me (the only difference being that I'm cooking the food instead of eating it raw). Without being able to change things about within the diet plan and make new things with what I have to work with something like the PCP seems bigger than Everest and even harder to climb. Of course, that's not to say that I have it any harder than any of the other PCPers just that it's just plain hard.

Which is what made Thursday (and the following days) so interestingly difficult. Truth be told Thursday was the closest I've come to just saying, screw it, and cooking up a bit of rice with some vegan steak strips. At that point I wouldn't have felt bad about that. I don't think I could say for certain what exactly made fight through that, I like to believe it's my Rocky-like spirit and tenacity (maybe I shouldn't put it that way, makes me seem much too full of myself). Plus it would be dangerous to see this project as some scary Russian boxer guy to be beaten instead of a challenge to enjoy and live in and with.

Though, nothing is static, things are always changing, even though things are difficult now they will get easier (and harder and easier and harder...), the hard days will not be hard forever.

So how does one deal with these things when they're brand new and right there in your face? How can you be aware of all of the changes and face them and overcome them without giving up in the process? How can you be mindful of all of these difficulties when you aren't as practiced in being aware of those kinds of things? I'm not sure, but it seems that that's one of the most important parts of the PCP and one of the best things you can take away from something difficult like this.

Send some support, it's always appreciated.

(And I'm sure tomorrow's post will be much cheerier :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 10, Becoming a rabbit

Like The Metamorphosis but funnier.

Phew! What an interesting few days these have been. Well, like Corey and David have talked about and I mentioned on Thursday the new diet plans came in when none of us were really prepared for them...well, we may have been ready for them but really had no concept as to exactly what was really in store for us when we all took our food scales out of their boxes, set them up on the counter, and started to slowly pile on the veggies while shaking our heads as the little counters weren't anywhere nearer to 250 grams than when we started measuring them out.

And then you try and make a meal out of them with the 150 grams of carbs (or however much the other two have to have) because there's no way you're going to try and fork 250 grams of vegetables plain into you without some kind of variation or a more noticeable flavor. There's no way that's going to happen, believe me, because after doing that for this mornings vegetable requirement I can say for more certainty than I've had for a lot of things that doing that would be a drag of the very absolute worst kind.

Of course, you can work your way around those things--laying down some spinach on a tortilla and spilling all of those veggies onto it with some salt-free mustard and wrapping it all up makes for delectable eats, a good, regular sized artichoke averages out to be about 250 grams of vegetable when all is said and done with those things and even if it doesn't make it all the way to 250 it's close enough that you don't have to eat as many vegetables to make up for the remainder. Low calorie dressings always make powering through those big bowls of veggies much easier and, guess what, they have vegan dressings in all sorts of different flavors:

So thank you Nasoya, you've made me totally happy.

Now if I can just keep my skin from turning orange from all of the carrots I'm eating...or from growing big fuzzy ears and a puffy tail and developing a nose twitch then things should be totally cool.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 9, More exercises

We all knew it was coming, I was just secretly hoping it would take longer to get here but no point in delaying the inevitable. Also, without this strength training exercise plan the PCP would not really be helping me work toward my peak condition.

From Chen and Patrick:

Jumprope 1000 times

Pushups 6 x 15, With feet raised on a chair. So your body will be at an angle.

Squats 5 x 20, Go slowly.

Triceps Dip 5 x 10, Put the palms of your hand on the edge of two chairs or a bench, with the chairs or bench behind you. Slowly lower yourself down, hold at the bottom, and lift up.

Shoulder Fly 4 x 10, Step on your band. Slowly raise the handles out to the side, like Leonardo's Vitruvian man. Hold at the top, and with control, come down.

Crunches 5 x 25, Lay on your back, knees up but not too high. Roll your body up like a newspaper, hold a tic, then with control come down. This week we're not doing obliques (the side abs), but don't worry, we will. Oh, we will. Go slowly.

Everyday. It should take about an hour.

That’s quite a tall order and it will definitely take some getting used to and I’m going to have to find some extra willpower reserves to get myself to do this kind of workout every day but like I and everyone else has said before, it may be difficult now but if you stick with it and envision the end result (Stephen Chow) then things will get easier. Of course, they may get harder before they do get easier but that’s part of the process and while it may be one of the hardest parts of the process it’s also one of the more rewarding parts. You see, the hard thing to do and the right thing to do (in this case keeping with it) are usually the same thing and tackling and accomplishing the hard things in life will always make you stronger and better.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 8, The new diet plan...

Ho boy, this is going to be interesting, an interesting challenge, downright difficult, all of that. At least for the first couple of weeks until I can set down some kind of schedule that doesn't drive me crazy with all of the massive amounts of chopping and steaming and eating. So here it is:

50 grams carbs
100 grams fruit (no bananas)
150 grams vegetable

A.M. Snack (around 10:30 am)
100 grams fruit (no banana)

150 grams carbs
250 grams vegetables

P.M. Snack (around 3:30pm)
100 grams fruit

100 grams carbs
Drink 2 BIG spoonfuls of the protein powder, 1 banana, blended with water.

Evening Snack (around 9:30 pm)
1 more banana.

Doesn't sound horrible, right? I mean, yeah, it seems pretty sparse and at first glance it very well could be...until you start chopping and weighing everything out. Then you realize that you've never eaten that many vegetables that early in the morning. It's such a drastic change that I can apparently only get used to by whining about it here, but I'm blowing things out of proportion. Anything is doable and with a little imagination and preparation this can be a whole lot of fun really. I think the hardest part for me will be getting up early enough to cook everything and eat it when I need to. I'll need to get to sleep much earlier than I have been this last week to be able to do everything that I need to do for this.

So there that is, for the next however long it will be my daily diet will be exactly that, nothing much more. Honestly, I'm still very excited about all of this and about the changes this diet plan will help produce (all I'm wondering now is when I'll be able to drink soymilk and fruit juice like I used to). I definitely need to keep a positive mindset throughout these first weeks otherwise it will be very easy to slip back into the unhealthy thinking of the past. I'll keep you updated on how it goes and my process of getting used to it.

Wish us all luck, fair readers, and a good day to you, too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 7, The, um, other last meal

Per Patrick's suggestion, last night I cooked a final "pre-PCP" type meal:

Shown here in the bowl is about half of the normal amount of short grain white rice and orzo pasta that I would normally eat before I started this project. I figured I would cook that for my dinner last night because after yesterdays post it just seemed appropriate that that would be the bang that I go out on.

An interesting thing happened while eating that bowl of soy sauce covered rice and pasta, keeping in mind that I used to stomach twice that amount numerous times a week, after polishing off that bowl and settling down for the evening my stomach started to disagree with me. I had cooked it the same way I always did and it tasted just fine but, man, it did not sit well. Believe me, I was pretty surprised. Never before with a meal like that, in any size really, had I had any trouble with it in the few hours following the meal but this time I was feeling really uncomfortable with it sitting in my stomach. I don't know if it was some newly ingrained psychological block to eating a meal like that since starting the PCP or if my stomach was just not ready to take in all of those carbohydrates after a few weeks of not having them combined with a lot of exercise. It's a mystery, but I have a feeling that my stomach, scratch that, my whole body is starting to get used to and enjoying the fruits and veggies that I have been eating frequently during this last week. My stomach is really starting to dig having those kinds of food around instead of all of the junk I was feeding myself with in the recent past.

Writing that I realize just how amazing this project really is and how quickly my body is changing and adapting to this new diet (which in itself is funny to say because it's not so much adapting as it is reverting back to what it was originally supposed to be used for, it's best state of being).

Also, it is day 7 and can anyone else believe that it's been a week already? I almost didn't think it would ever come but here it is, staring me in the face, telling me to get ready because the hard stuff is coming...

The new diet plan is coming.

That's going to be interesting. I have a feeling that this weeks, and all of the following weeks diet plans, will start to mirror more of what Patrick was doing when he first started his project. If all of the powders and massive amounts of fruits and vegetables and blenders he's having us get are any clue then this coming week will be an interesting one. It's going to be exciting, though, because now we're all going to be getting into the real nitty gritty of this project and really working our way toward our heroes. We'll see how it goes and how everyone else does with it, but I for one am totally thrilled about it, I'm very excited about really burning through the extra fat mass that has collected around my body, even more so than this last week has done, and building up the awesome amounts of muscle that I'm sure is just waiting to form.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 6, Vices

You never know what you've got until it's gone.

Before the project started on May 15th dinnertime was a good fifteen to thirty minutes spent spooning food into my mouth, or chopsticking it into there, while watching television or the computer. A horrible habit, I know. Dinner was usually whatever my eyes fell on first when I swung open the pantry door. More often than not, though, dinner for me was "comfort food". You see, I eat dinner after work at the karate school where I'm teaching five hours of classes numbering about twenty to thirty, sometimes more.

So you can see why comfort food is so downright, well, comforting after a day like that.

My bigggest addiction, and something I would eat frequently (three times a week was not uncommon) was a bowl ful of short grain white rice and orzo pasta cooked in water with vegetable buillon and garlic powder and then sprinkled with soy saice. I love it, but that's a lot of unnecessary carbohydrates to be taking in three times a week. Maybe once every other week would be slightly better for me, but even then...

My other addiction is fruit juice. That in itself doesn't sound bad and it's not hugely horrible, I only drink stuff labeled 100% fruit juice and I try not to overdo it. Sometimes it does get the better of me as I've used it as a replacement for all of the soda I used to drink. The problem with that is that I've learned that you should not drink the majority of your daily calories, it offsets things. Plus, unless it an alcoholic beverage, the no real social aspect to drinks like there is for food so it's very easy to not pay attention to what you're taking in.

(By the way, if you wonderful readers have any suggestions for low or preferably no caffeine drinks with no calories I would really appreciate them. Thanks)

Now that dinnertime, or anytime, has become more of an event for me (no more mindless Pop-Tart eating, another habit) I've been willingly forced to watch what I'm cooking and drinking instead of just picking some junk from the freezer and frying it in oil. It takes a lot more work and thought and, believe me, giving up those comfort foods is damn tough (they're called comfort foods for a reason) but to succeed with something like this or anything else you have to look toward the end result as well as how much better you feel now and weigh the potential benefits against your present cravings. Ask yourself, is it really worth it to sacrifice wonderful health and a great, fit body for a bowl of rice and orzo pasta (or macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy)?

It's not for me anymore, I can see that now, and I'm loving the food that I am eating (all the extra effort seems to make it tastier). And you know what? I'm totally cool with that.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 5, D.O.M.S.

Sounds serious, right? Like it should be accompanied by a DOM-DOM-DOMMMMMS

D.O.M.S. is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and, as you can probably figure out from the name of it, DOMS is the pain or discomfort that can often be felt 24 to 72 hours after exercising and subsides within 2 to 3 days. The most commonly held belief as to why this occurs is because when the demand for energy is high during activities like sprinting or jumproping lactate is produced faster than the body can get rid of it. This theory is thought to be out of date and false. A more recent theory as to why DOMS occurs is that it caused by by tiny tears in the muscle fibers caused by eccentric contraction. Eccentric contraction is what happens when a muscle elongates while under tension due to an opposing force being greater than the force generated by the muscle. So, basically, eccentric contraction is a braking force that helps keep motions smooth and helps slow movements like at the end of a punch or a throw.

Alright, that’s my bit of technical stuff for the day. I bring this up as the topic for this days post because, well, my left calf is killing me. You can see by the picture that pain is literally radiating from my calf, unless the post exercise haze is getting to me. But I’m not going to blame the jumprope, even if that is the reason why my calf has been hurting.

So the plan from now on? Get smarter about things and start stretching more, way more than I have been (which is already quite a bit). Muscles need to be stretched, they crave it, if they didn’t none of would have to worry about pulling or straining anything with all of our exercise and daily activities. Warming up before and after exercise, cooling down, warming the area, etc. should be as daily a routine for me as the jumproping has become.

It all seems pretty obvious and I should keep that in mind, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort and it would be pretty dumb of me to exercise like I am without doing those things. How can you benefit from all of the exercise you’re doing if you can hardly stand on your own feet? Better to be safe now with a little bit of pain then sitting out for a long time doing nothing but sitting around recovering from my mistakes.

Here's a few calf stretches that seem to help me out and make the daily jumproping a bit easier:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 4, The most cursed of days!

Oh yes. Yes it is.

I've never been able to really explain it but for every diet, exercise plan, project, job, etc. the fourth day of any of those things has always been the most difficult monster day to fight my way through. I have a feeling that it's caused by your body waking up out of the dazed stupor of the first three days of any of those things and saying, "Whoa buddy! What the heck are you doing? Look, I'll forgive you for the past few days, I know you like trying new stuff, but now it's time to stop messing about and get back to business. Now where's that bag of tortilla chips?"

It's very annoying.

I can remember four times in my life where I've tried to get down to a slimmer, muscular figure and every time the fourth day had been my undoing. Although, more accurately, the first two times I just got bored with what I was doing and fell back into old habits. First was following the daily serving sizes on the food labels. Didn't work for me. Second, the Special K diet which was about the closest that I'll ever come to eating cardboard two times a day for a week. Those two seemed to make sense at the time and they did work slightly but at the time I didn't have the drive to see them through to the end (whatever the end was).

The third and fourth times were decidedly more stupid. Third was Christian Bale's diet for "The Machinist" which, depending on where you look, consisted of an apple with cups of coffee throughout the day. As you can see things were getting much more desperate. The last one I tried before the PCP--which was over a year ago so you can see what kind of an effect it had on me--was the fasting diet. I tried to convince myself that only doing it for seven days would be healthier than some Gandhi-esque three week thing but you can see that I wasn't thinking it through clearly. I got through those seven days of constant torture and never tried another crazy fly by night diet again.

For each of those four bouts of delusion (I say "delusion" because I was thinking that they would all magically turn me into something like my hero, Stephen Chow) the fourth day was the most unbearable. That fourth day was when giving up on those things seemed like the best thing I could do for myself which, considering what I was doing, probably would have been a good idea. Ah, the rash thinking of a young teenager, there's really nothing like it.

But things are feeling different with the PCP. For all of its difficulties it's been fairly easy so far and I'm sure it will stay that way as long as I'm always aware of what I'm doing and putting into my body. I'm sure I'm right on target with saying that the hardest part of the PCP, or any diet plan, is the breaking of old habits but with the diet plan Patrick and Chen have us on where we're forced to really think about what we're eating and what we're doing things seem to be just downright peachy.

And I'm learning that no matter how difficult something might be if you stick with it you will be a stronger and better person because of it.

Of course, I can't forget about all of the outside support from you readers and commenters because, well, you guys rock!

This fourth day doesn't seem so bad now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 3, The weekenders

Even before this project started I had been worrying about this day, yes, this particular day. Now I wouldn't say that I've been dreading it but I certainly wasn't feeling totally cool about it either. For as long I've been really aware of what I was eating (since about the time I started high school, when that kind of stuff seemed to matter. Superficially, I see now) I've also been aware of how consistently difficult the weekends have been when it comes to watching what I eat. For me the weekends, nearly every single one of them, have been a challenge to keep myself from going overboard. It has been consistently difficult to keep myself from letting my attention slip away from what I was putting into a bowl and letting myself overindulge in the worst kind of way. For the most part that was my weekend routine: a whole lot of food in big bowls followed by a whole heaping, heavy feeling of guilt afterwards that was as difficult to get over as the uncomfortable feeling I got from shoveling all of that food into my body. It's something about all of the free time I have during the weekends and the general laziness of those days when there's nothing much to be done, it's very conducive to stuffing my cheeks like a chipmunk during the wintertime.

There's been many a time when my afternoon has looked exactly like that, except without, you know, the fur.

Of course I realize that I'm only into my third day of the Peak Condition Project but I think it's safe to say that this fresh realization as I'm knee deep in the PCP will guarantee that I'm going to be hyper-aware of what I'm putting into my breakfast, lunch, and dinner bowl from now on. I'm also sure that by the time August 15th rolls around those horrible weekend eating habits of my past will have been replaced by healthy PCP eating habits. Instead of mindlessly stuffing myself with the worst and fattiest junk that the food industry has to offer I will have developed the kind of eating habits that will keep me slim, healthy, and happy.

And, you know, I am very excited about that. In many ways I think that is going to be the most meaningful and important thing that I get out of this project, not just a muscular, good looking body but a better knowledge of myself and a mindset that will keep me strong and healthy for the rest of my life.

And, really, who wouldn't want that?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 2, Like Richard Simmons

Except that I don't have any oldies to sweat to.

The Cardio and Strengthening Plan

First off, the legs are the target of this first weeks strengthening exercises because, well, how can you expect to do anything else involved with this plan if you can hardly stand on your own two feet without feeling a burn?

So, every day it's going to be squats, as deep I can without lifting the heels of my feet off of the ground. Every day this week Patrick will have us all really feeling our legs turn to jelly as we do five even sets of twenty squats. Really, though, it's something light and, compared to what I'm sure will be coming in the next few weeks, generally rather easy. Of course, that may just my opinion of it because after fourteen years of a very leg-centric sport like karate which has built up my calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings (as well as the surrounding muscles, I'm sure) the daily squats work, but not as much as they could be, or should be. I think perhaps I'm going to have to hold those low squats for a bit longer than I was yesterday.

And then there's the jump rope. By the time I got about halfway through all of the training exercises yesterday the day had hit its peak temperature of 100 degrees which, combined with all of the sweat that was pouring off of me, made me feel like I was actually melting in a very Wicked Witch of the West kind of way (complete with the high pitched screams of "I'm melting, I'm melting! Aaaaugh!"). I think I'm going to end up developing a love/hate relationship with that thing, sort of a begrudging respect for it during the first few weeks until I can really get the hang of it and until I can develop the kind of endurance to get through my daily jumprope training without having to stop and rest as much as I need to right now.

For the jumprope: 500 to 1000 jumps. I've been doing the full 1000 because I'm a perfectionist in a huge way. These need to be done everyday, as well, because that's what's going to burn off all of that unnecessary fat stored all around my body and get me down to a lean figure ready to build up all of the muscle that will take me closer to my ultimate goal. So I'll deal with it now because while it may be hard at this point it will get easier as my body becomes a bit more accustomed to it and as I get stronger because of it, as everything does.

Off to more exercising, wish me luck.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 1, And so it begins...

That sounds a bit more ominous than it actually is.

But today is the first official day of the Peak Condition Project 2.0 and it's exciting. A lot of life changing events (and I do very much see this as life changing) seem to sneak up on the person that they're happening to and don't make themselves known until after they occur, sometimes well after they occur. This seems different than those other things, this is much more obvious and in your face and not only does it give it an immediate quality, it makes everything much more real and meaningful. It's so easy to be mindful of everything that you're doing if you're conscious of everything that's happening around you.

Also, it almost feels a bit anti-climactic. Like I said in my pre-project post there was so much build up to this day that my mind just went wild envisioning every little obstacle and difficulty that could possibly arise with something like the PCP. And then it gets here, and I eat my morning breakfast, and I'm going to be doing my exercises after I post this... and I'm calm about it. It's very refreshing, I must say, to realize that so far all of my worries were pretty much completely unfounded. Once you start something like this you realize:

As long as you're willing to put the time and effort into improving yourself it's not that difficult.

At least, that's the way it is for me.

Diet Plan

Easy as pie, and just as tasty! Patrick and Chen have graciously prolonged the diet plan that they began with (although being the masochist that I am I was looking forward to only eating a small bowl of vegetables and fruit with a side dish of five grains of rice) and came up with something very simple: cut out half of everything you eat. Easy-peasy...lemon-sqeezy. So I had a small bowl of cereal with some tasty Silk and an apple and you know what? That was two hours ago and I feel just as full now as when I had finished eating my breakfast.

See? Nothing to be worried about. Well, we'll see how true that is after I finish all of the training exercises. I'll go into that tomorrow.

For the record, my final big meal. I'm sure a meal of this size will soon become a thing of forgotten memory. Here it is, in all of its low resolution glory!:

Sourdough bread and salad with vinaigrette

Spaghetti with marinara

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Journey of a Thousand Miles

And here is my first single step.

I figured that if you're here reading my posts and following my progress then you all know Patrick in some way or another and while he didn't need to have some sort of personal introduction as his first blog post, I do unless you're one of the people I personally know who are reading this blog. So, obviously my name is Sean Anderson and this is my

Peak Condition Project

For those who don't know starting on May 15th and continuing for three months until August 15th I will be on my own personal journey to my peak fitness, strength, and flexibility level. I will willingly and proudly subject myself to a stripped down diet and vamped up exercise plan to become someone that I've always wanted to be but never had the drive or resources to take me to that point.

As for me? You know my name already and if you've been following Patrick's blog then you probably already know a little bit about me through his grand introduction (there was so much exciting build up to it that it feels like there should have been a parade...with elephants, right?). I'll try to say a little bit more about me but I'm sure a lot of it will have already been covered by Patrick, although I'm keeping a bit of myself to myself as material for future posts.

I am twenty-two years old and I live in the United States, in California. I am a vegan and will be writing about whatever ease and/or difficulties that diet will present with this project. For the last fourteen years I have been training in an American style of karate that was based on Shorin-ryu karate; more recently I have also begun training in Eagle Claw kung fu and judo, and as you can see from this blog's banner that training will be a big part of my journey through this project.

Peak condition for me is Stephen Chow of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle fame.

So that's my goal: useful, practical muscle, amazing fitness levels, and awesome flexibility, just like Stephen Chow, as well as good eating habits and a positive image of myself that will last a lifetime. I hope all of you will continue to follow along with me on my daily journey, show me some love, and I hope that you all can support and encourage me and my other two wonderful fellow peak conditioners, David and Corry.

What a ride this will be.