Six days ago I started a new personal challenge. I’ve done a number of personal challenges before, even on this blog, some of which were great successes, many more were spectacular failures…but we get no where unless we try.
I turned 39 a month ago, and so age 40 is in my foresights. With two year old triplets keeping me psychically and therefore physically tired most of the day, and my body withering into middle age paunch, I decided that I wasn’t willing to go down without a fight.
Ninety days from the start of my challenge is approximately when my family will be going on our yearly vacation to the beach. This past year I more or less always wore a shirt on the beach and worried about my gut sticking out and my boobs sagging (I’m a guy, for those not in the know) embarrassingly low.
And there’s no excuse for this, regardless of age.
But I also have to acknowledge that trying to establish rigidity of schedule or routine will fail miserably when I’m raising two year old triplets.
So rather than saying, “I will go to the gym and do XYZ seven days a week at 5am,” I’ve decided to be flexible about things and do what I can, when I can, but do something everyday. Fitness becomes a facet of my life. Good nutrition becomes a facet of my life.
The only rigid practice I’ve had since the kids were born was that I had to get in my meditation practice in. Anything else could slide but I had to do this. Sometimes it was at 11pm at night, but most of the time, I got it in before work in the morning.
And as I’ve written about on this blog and in my books, my meditation practice has already manifested several health benefits. My desire to overeat has been gone for a long while, and I naturally dropped nearly twenty pounds from my Christmas 2010 high of over 200lbs without doing much of any physical activity.
The meditation practice has also quelled my desires for junk food. There was a time, and my coworkers can attest to this, that everyday at about 3:30 I had to go down and get a candy bar and a sugary drink to get through the day. Now I look at a candy bar and I feel like I’d get ill eating it. As an example, these past couple of months, the kids had a bunch of Easter candy around that they weren’t old enough to chew and I never felt a desire to touch it, and I didn’t.
So I’m not starting out as a complete hopeless case, but my manboobs are probably still a B-cup.
So what’s different about this challenge than other’s in the recent past? Well, I waited till I was partially into it to see if it was manageable before declaring it here. And, more importantly, it feels different this time. It feels more natural, this time…and perhaps it’s because I am building things partially around yoga practice.
In past attempts, I’d go balls out at the gym, hurt myself, get puffier, and then stop…and that’s how B-cups become C-cups.
I know, 50% of the population is jealous of me, but strangely I feel uncomfortable with my ample man-bosom.
I have some basic rules with this challenge. First of all, I promised to document everything as I go. Everything I eat, good or bad, including time of day I eat it. Every glass of water or cup of coffee or guinness beer. Every workout including the exercises, paltry weights, and reps, etc. I’ll make some videos of concoctions that I put down my throat including whether it tastes like shit, or is worth trying.
I’ll make some videos of the more esoteric things I do, like how to properly do Sun Salutations (not like they teach in Yoga for Abs gym classes), how I gather energy for workouts doing Qigong, even some techniques and tricks to how I do meditation.
I do hit the gym a few times a week for sure on this one. I also will be experimenting with some bodyweight exercises and routines and share with you what I find to work best.
This is an experiment…a process. I have ideas in my head of what may work, but here’s a perfect example…on Monday, I wanted to hit a Yoga class uptown as I had done a gym day on each of the prior days, but my wife was having migraines and felt like shyt so I stayed through till the kids were in bed and had gotten my wife some medication and ice cream and she was all comfortable. By then it was after 10pm but the kids were quietly sleeping and wife was happy so I found a yoga program from a Fitness On Demand channel.
If that had been a scheduled gym day (my gym closes very early on weekends) I would have substituted a bodyweight workout at home.
My point here is that you can’t let life derail your plans. Just be flexible and move things around a bit, no biggie. You don’t actually need a gym, or a class to workout. You think you do, but everything you need is on your own body and all you need is a bit of uninterrupted time to do something.
Now, most of the information you read about creating these beach bodies is that you have to eat a lot of frequent, smallish meals all day…like up to six meals. This is, more or less, to keep your body in an anabolic state, feeding and building up muscles. There are certainly schools of thought that say intermittent fasting is the way to go…in other words, you get a small six hour window to eat your food every day and you fast for the other eighteen hours. I can tell you, having tried this in earnest numerous times, that my body does not like this. It is trained to eat, and eating six times a day suits it just fine, thank you. That’s not to say that after my 90 days, I might not try some fasting for spiritual reasons again, but for the sake of this challenge, it’s manga time all day long.
I also refuse to take supplements. When I was fresh out of college in the mid-90′s I lived with a couple of gym rats and I did a lot of supplements back then. Andro poppers, nor-andro, creatine, hydroxicut. I started going bald shortly after that, coincidentally or not, and I attribute my man-boobs as being partly a symptom of using that crap and then abruptly stopping.
So I take no bodybuilder supplements, though I am experimenting a bit with a multivitamin and am mixing some whey protein into smoothies at least every other day.
What I am doing is making use of a Vitamix. I’m occasionally fitting in a Power Bar out of convenience because I really don’t enjoy cooking very much, especially not cooking six times a day. I will write about an average day of diet a few times for you during the course of these 90 days.
I fit in longer yoga sessions at least two of the days per week. This is key. And I’m not doing Yoga for 6-pack Abs. This is Hatha Yoga or Restorative Yoga, to increase my range of motion, improve my alignment which has been horrible for 25 years, and to generally not feel like shyt every day, which I’ve accepted as my norm for far too long. I care about functional strength generally. Can I care my body around well, and be fluent and graceful as I do so? It is as primary in my transformation as it is to get rid of the man boobs.
I also start my days with some Sun Salutations. The first day I could only do one salutation. I’m up to four now. Perhaps by the end of my 90 days, I’ll be up to a substantial amount of repetitions. Does this contribute to my physique? Possibly in subtle ways, but I more so find that it centers me, makes me feel good in the morning, and helps get the lead out a little bit.
Okay, I’ve riffed enough for today. I’m feeling good after an hour long immersion Hatha yoga session and I feel like relaxing for a bit. Final word, if things are as successful as I am hoping for, I’ll package up all the more mundane detail, like every exact workout I do and all the exact meals I had into an eBook but I don’t think that level of detail being published every day here would be that interesting right now, without taking into consideration the end result. So, instead, I’ll just be providing periodic examples and progress reports as well as the videos I mentioned earlier.
If anyone wants to play along at home, I encourage you to share your plan in the comments below.