The end of week 1 is getting closer

Today was another great day, I got some sun, had trail patrol duty and spent my entire shift outdoors.  I love spending time outside and getting a mega dose of Vitamin D while I got paid to walk in nature is an amazing part of being a Park Ranger.  This morning I hiked the trail past where it’s open into the new area that has only been graded and not finished off yet.  Total before lunch, over 8 miles.  I took the afternoon easy, long lunch, sitting down interacting with people who came into the trail-head and spent time reading a bit.  I also took some of that time to reflect on how my life has changed in the last year, and to be grateful for the amazing journey that I have been on and the people who have been a part of it along the way.  A quick thanks to them, there are too many to list but you know who you are.

Today’s thoughts:

-Spending the day outside reminds me of why it is so awesome to have my job.

-I have some great people in my life that I cannot wait to get back to when this job ends.

-I could stay here longer than just another month if asked, I don’t know if it will happen but the addition of the new Crossfit affiliate in town has changed my mind about leaving right away.

-The people at Sports Evolution Crossfit are an amazing group, I’m thankful that they are so cool with letting me hang out with them.

-I have become a much more well rounded person in the last year, and I owe a lot of that to the discipline it takes to stay strict on Paleo.

-These moments of quiet throughout my day are more of a blessing than I thought when I first came here, the slower pace has been good for me.

-I need to build a list of things to complete in the next year/5 years/10 years and work on that.

My pictures:

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Things are getting a little easier

Day four and I feel like I’m hitting my stride in some ways.  It was my active recovery day so after work I went into the gym to work on some things.  From today I found that:

-My squat depth is better these days.

-Not having coffee during the day is still no fun.

-The new Crossfit that is here in town is filled with some good people.  I’ll have to talk about them more in the upcoming days.

-Sometimes you just can’t resist the urge to see how you’d do on a WOD, even if it’s just a short one for the Onramp class.

-This is the doldrums of the season, two days of work 30 visitors each day, but at least I have my Kindle.

-I’m starting to think more and more about going back to Illinois and what it will be like to see my family.

-This whole getting more sleep things is nice, maybe I should keep this going.

-It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was getting ready to student teach.  So many people that I didn’t know yet, so much learning and growth that hadn’t happened.

Pictures from my day:

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Recap: Day 3

Pretty uneventful day today, very slow at work and the coffee cravings haven’t let up yet.  But my sleep is going well and I’m feeling pretty good throughout the day.  I should really work on finding something everyday to take a picture of so that these posts seem more exciting.  I’m realizing trying to write everyday that now that the summer season is coming to a close my life is not nearly as exciting as one might hope.  Here are just a few thoughts for the day though:

-Coffee is good and I really wish I could have more of it.

-My cravings other than coffee really aren’t that strong.

-My workouts are much better with the extra sleep.

-I’m already seeing results from just a few days.

-I still don’t know how long I’ll be here, my final date is not set so I could be here into October.

-I’m really enjoying the extra day in the gym, I’m going to stay at 6 days a week for a while now.

 

That’s it for today, but tomorrow I’ll make sure to find something to take a good picture of so this post has a little more “jazz” to it.

Day 2

The second day strict is coming to a close and already I can tell that in some ways this is going to be a long month.  I don’t know why but today was much harder to stay away from the coffee pot than yesterday was.  Maybe I was running on some leftover coffee that hadn’t left my system from Sunday yet, but today I didn’t feel like I was tired, but did miss having that cup of coffee with me during the day.  Food wise it was another uneventful day.  I stayed strict and while i had a few cravings I was able to keep myself from them.  The battle of the cravings will continue for a few more days I’m sure, today I avoided the issue by spending almost four hours at the gym between doing my work and then hanging around for the next class to cheer them on.  I thought about doing their WOD with them, but the idea of a second round of 100 burpees kept me from taking that challenge on.  The rest of this week has me at work, so my snacking shouldn’t be an issue, and I’ve got another three days of workouts to knock out before I’ll take a rest day on Saturday.  Nothing like a six workout week to keep you going.  I think that the month will be really good for me, and so far I’m thinking that this is going to be no sweat.

Day 1 – Before pictures and first thoughts

It’s almost 9pm on my first day strict.  Here are some observations from the day as well as my before pictures.

– Going from lots of coffee to not so much coffee is not really that fun.

– I’m thankful that I’m still allowed to drink a little tea in addition to water, at least there’s some taste there.

– Cutting down on the things that i used to eat was really not as hard as I originally thought.

– One way to make sure you don’t cheat is to spend 3 hours in the gym, doing your work and then working with the on-ramp class.

That’s it for today, here’s the pictures.

Goals for the project

Goals for the next month:

  • Learn more about myself in how that I’m using the food that I take in every day.
  • Feel more rested, everyday
  • Have a new appreciation for how far I’ve come, be able to use that when I feel like I’m failing.
  • Crush a few PRs.
  • Develop the habit of reflection at the end of each day.
  • Be more disciplined in regards to not snacking just because I can.

And let’s be honest I’m doing this to:

  • Look good naked.
  • Make the ladies swoon.

Shallow as that sounds it’s an important part, because who doesn’t want to look good naked?  Tonight before I head to bed I’ll post my before pictures for the month.  I’ll also be posting more often for the next month, at least every other day with highlights from the previous day or two and general updates on how I’m feeling.  Expect to have many more pictures up on the blog too. 

The lowdown on the next month

Here’s the lowdown on how the next month will be structured and what I’ll be focusing on when I say that I’m going to be more strict with my lifestyle for the next four weeks.  I will work on each of the four categories below: diet, sleep, exercise, and reflection.  Using those areas I’ll look to see how my body reacts.  It’s good to refocus yourself after a year, the little things that have just become routine I will now think more about and in doing so I’ll be more mindful of what is going on with my body for the next month.

Diet:

                For the next four weeks starting on the 27th I’ll be headed back to a strict Paleo template.  That means that I’ll be cutting out a few things that I enjoy for a month and working on cleaning up my diet in general.  Lately my biggest cheats have been 1) commercially available sweet potato chips 2) So Delicious coconut milk ice cream 3) Almond Breeze Unsweetened chocolate almond milk 4) cheese.  Each of these things will be going away for the next month.  To be honest I agonized over cutting out the Almond milk, I really like it a lot, and it’s usually what I have with my vitamins in the morning but it’s got all sorts of other ingredients in it so it has to go.  I have cut out numbers one and two already and I can tell that I’ve lost a little around the waist.  For the project I’ll be treating it kind of like a personal Paleo challenge.  So I’ll be logging every day and working on keeping up not only with my food intake but also controlling the other parts of life that halt progression.  But this isn’t just about what I’m cutting out of my diet, but also what I’m going to be more mindful of putting in.

                Adding to my food intake is another element of the challenge.  I will be trying to work new veggies into the mix as much as possible.  I’ve already tried eggplant and that will get another attempt, but I’ll also be working to include some more leafy greens that don’t get enough appearances and some other things that I just haven’t tried before.  In addition to that I’m upping my fish intake, making sure that at least one meal every other day has a fish protein in it, and hopefully more.   I found a good source of wild shrimp that I have two pounds of, and dinners based around some sort of fish are looking to be a common occurrence.  Finally I’m adding more water intake into my day.  I’m usually pretty good about my drinking water, but I’m going to be more mindful of how much I take in during the day, spreading out my drinking so that I spend the whole day fully hydrated.  I’m also going to work on limiting the amount of coffee I drink.  I have no illusions that I drink way too much coffee.  When you can easily see yourself downing a pot and not thinking twice about it, you drink too much.  So I’m going to allow myself one thing of coffee in the morning and one of my homemade iced coffees in the evenings.  Bringing in new veggies and protein sources with better hydration and lower caffeine will work wonders I think.

Sleep:

                This is an area I struggle with; I’ll stay up way too late every night if I don’t watch myself.  I’ve been working my way back through the TV show West Wing lately.   I love the smart writing of it, and the actors are all really good.  But I’ll watch the thing all night, more than once I’ve been trying to finish a plotline and realize that it’s 2am and I have to work in the morning.  So I’m going to make myself go to bed at Midnight every night.  I get up at 7, so that’s going to be the target for nightly sleep.  I don’t imagine that I will be perfect but the rule is when midnight hits, my head should be on the pillow.  Better sleep translates to all sorts of goodness for your body so making sure that I’m getting a good amount every night is going to be key to setting myself up for success. 

Upping my workload:

                I’m adding an extra day to my workout schedule.  Moving from five to six days a week is just a return to my old schedule.  Before moving to the new job I kept a Sunday-Friday schedule and so I’m just going back to how I used to work.  I’m still going to be doing Outlaw five days a week, just adding a MetCon into the mix with the new Crossfit affiliate here, Sports Evolution.  This has just gone into place this past week and I think that already it feels better.  Working conditioning more and making my body carry a heavier load is going to serve me well as time goes on I believe.  At some point I know that I’m going to go into a period of overtraining for 2 weeks where I’ll push to do 2 WODs a day on that same six day schedule and then give myself a week off before starting back up at the one a day intensity.  The goal of that is to push yourself to a new level of expected workload, and when the body adjusts to that drop it back down and then you’ll be operating at a higher level.  It’s used by many strength athletes and I think it’s applicable here.  This will not happen during my strict month because I think it would be too hard to keep up with my needs without some sort of supplement.  In the meantime I’ll be lifting heavy, doing lots of Olympic lifting, and hitting the MetCons hard in order to be ready for this overtraining period when I return to the Midwest. 

Reflection:

                This may seem like an afterthought but it is essential in my understanding of what I need to get out of the next month.  It has been a year of change, and that time period has flown by as I make my way from student to graduate, overweight to healthy, and yes even in some ways from young to old.  Each night before bed the last 10 minutes before I go to sleep I’ll sit down and log my day.  Every entry will cover what went well and what didn’t, if I made it through the day eating clean, got my workout in and how it felt, as well as any thoughts I have for the day.  The closer that I get to leaving this job and moving back to Illinois the entries will cover a lot of feelings about my future as well.  Understanding the changes that have taken place in my life in the last year is a chance for me to be thankful for what I have gone through, and the support of people along the way.  I truly believe that out of all the experiences of the next month this will have one of the biggest impacts.  

Bringing things into the present

                So far I have talked about stories that have happened in the last year, and I will still do that as part of my writing here.  The last couple weeks I have felt a pull to bring things into the present, and talk about my life today and how it is different from before, as well as the daily struggles that come around.  This is going to be the first post that talks about my life today, and at least one post a week will be that way.  Yesterday I picked up my copy of Practical Paleo, I got it not only because the author is an awesome lady that I have had some dealings with via twitter, but also because for my last month in Pennsylvania I am headed back strict.  I thought that I would outline what that will cover here since for the next month I’ll be doing some extra posts to talk about how going back to strict for a month is treating me.  “Project Sexybeast” as I’ve just decided to call it is 4 weeks long and will end just before I move back home to see everyone in Illinois.  The basics of the program will center on four things: retooling my food intake, going to 6 days/wk of programming, getting better sleep, reflection on the last year.

One last week, one more challenge

                It was time for the last week of the Open.  The time came for the workout to be announced and yet again it was happiness and a gut check all in one.  This was another 7 minute cap, sweet because that means it won’t be a long period through which I would suffer.   Even the first movement I was happy with, 100lb thrusters, no sweat.  I can do those all day, then the stack of bricks drops.  Chest to bar pull ups, now if you saw the other post you that I had only been doing pull-ups of any kind for a few months at this point.  I still was not to the point that I was doing them without the band in most workouts, but I could put together groups of 5-6 in a row.  But that was normal pull ups, not ones that I had to touch my chest to bar.  Even in the last week I was setting myself up for a big challenge and this week would be a huge accomplishment.  I was going to get at least one chest to bar pull up.  Taking on the workout for the first time I got through the first three reps of thrusters and moved onto the bar.  I spend the remainder of the time missing every attempt I made.  I would get close but just couldn’t touch my chest to that bar.  I was frustrated about it, angry at myself for not being able to get at least one.  And also worried about how that would reflect on my score that week.  There were other people trying the WOD, so I watched them and was talking to Kristi when she said why don’t you just change you grip a little like this and see what happens.  I walk over to the bar and just try to see how it would work.  And I did one, really easily I did one, and I was even more pissed now.  I threw the weight back on the bar thanks to a few words from Tony and Kristi, and I was going to give it another shot.  I tried it again and this time I got not only one of the pull ups, but I finished that round and moved to the next, and in the end I got 13 reps.  It was a low score, but it was four times that amount that I had before.

                The open was a great experience, I learned a lot about myself, and areas that I was better than I imagined, and areas where I was not as good as I thought.  I learned that my body will push itself to the level that I needed and that there was more in the tank when I called for it.  Each week I looked forward to learning what the workout would be, and then I dreaded my first attempt because of the uncertainty of how I would do.  I made plans, got rid of those plans and made new ones, and watched hours of YouTube videos trying to find just the right way to take on the challenges before me.  When the dust had settled I was not going to be the fittest man on earth, not even the fittest man at Capital City Crossfit, but I was the fittest that I had ever been and I had done things that I would have not thought possible when I started in July.  The open pushed me to new heights, and also laid me low.  But in the end, I got up, finished strong and went forward with new confidence that only competition can bring.

                At the beginning I said that I wasn’t sure how to feel about the Cummings signing me up, now I can say that it was one of the best things to happen to me in the winter of 2012, and you can bet that I’ll be competing again in 2013.

Karen, oh how I hate you

Karen, oh how I hate you.  The first part of the required workout for week 4 was Karen.  To those not familiar with this horrible WOD, this is 150 Wall balls with a 20lb medicine ball.  To actually make it through the entire workout you would need to do all 150, plus 90 Double Unders with a jump rope, and then 30 muscle ups.  Needless to say this guy would not be completing the entire workout under the twelve minute time cap.  But I had a plan, and I was going to rock out the Wall balls and then look like an idiot trying to get the Doubles.  I was not good at them, actually I’m still not good at them.  I don’t know if it’s my white boy lack of rhythm that betrays me on it or what.  But I just cannot get into the correct flow to string them together.  The ones I do get look pretty ridiculous.  I wasn’t even considering the muscle up phase because I knew that I wouldn’t get that far.  Backing up for a minute to the Wall balls, I had to get through those first, and I knew it was going to be a challenge.  Sending a 20 pound medicine ball from your chest to a target 10 feet up on the wall and catching it was enough.   Knowing that the target was only 6 inches across made it more difficult, and the full squat that you had to do with the ball held under your chin was no joke either.   Stringing all 150 together with no breaks was not an option; I knew it so I had to make a plan.  I was going to break it up into 25’s.  I figured that if I did 25 at a time, then took a breath and started back up again I would do alright.  And I did, finishing that part of the workout in 7:22.  Not a bad time at all, I followed that up by spending the next four and half minutes trying to get the Doubles and to illustrate just how bad I was, I did thirteen of them.  I’m sure that now I could get a few more, but even now six months later I’m not sure that I would get all 90 done in the time left. 

                What did this week teach me though?  Well having to do 150 reps of a movement pushed my mental toughness.   Not even halfway through my shoulders started to get fatigued, but I pushed on, breaking 100 my legs burned really bad, but I pushed on.  I had a plan and I was going to stick to it,  I knew that no matter what I had to finish, and that I was going to make it through.  Secondly this week brought me some new confidence in doing the doubles.  I still don’t do them well, but it was a solid 4 and a half minutes of practice, they weren’t pretty but just getting them helped.  Lastly pushing myself to get through my body once again surprised me with its response.  I knew that physically my body was on board with this, it craved the challenge and the feeling after the workout was over.  Mentally I also craved the challenge, no matter how much I moaned about it I wanted to see where I ranked, and each week I saw that I wasn’t at the top, but I was never last either.  There were always people that struggled like me and put up numbers about the same as mine.  I saw that I was beating people too, and that’s always a good feeling to not be at the bottom.  There was one week left of the Open, I knew that I wouldn’t be headed to regionals, but I knew that from the start.  I also knew that I had done better than I thought I would on some of these and that now I needed to do some other competitions to see just how I matched up locally.