PS GRADUATION POST
I just got my results back yesterday from a health check up and except for the Uric Acid being a bit high, EVERYTHING is normal again... it's quite amazing. I used to have high blood pressure when I had been on longer term blood pressure pills and now am back to normal when I am not on any pills for them. Cholesterol all great too, so everything confirmed I am actually HEALTHY!
Finally here on Day 90 and what a journey it has been!
I wanted to take a few days to extrapolate the post day 90 to see how I was doing. I have been laying off the exercises and eating and drinking the stuff I have missed, but I have to say that my appetite has been reduced greatly. I have been eating healthy(ish) and even last night after tennis, I chose a dish of broccoli for dinner knowing that vegetables are relatively safe.
It has been an amazing journey and whilst people who were sceptical about the program have been asking "why can't you just do the exercises and watch your diet yourself?" have been out there in full force, there are a few reasons that makes PCP really successful. First and foremost the EXPERIENCE of how CHOICES are made in our every day lives is what PCP really focuses on and it's about the EDUCATION and the deeper knowledge of how things are affecting the way we do affect our bodies. I love the way that the information is drip fed to us and it really makes us think hard about everything we are taught instead of giving it on a silver platter. I think also EXPERIENCING WITH OTHERS is totally what makes this program. The blog, the photo, it keeps everyone intrigued and guessing and creates interest with how everyone else is doing.
I took about two months to decide whether to do pcp or not, because I never thought it was possible being such a huge foodie, but after I committed, what I learnt the most I guess is that it really isn't that difficult to take care of yourself. And also with Novak being my inspiration, his line that "after the physical strength comes the mental strength" - I feel I have finally had a taste of what that feels like and I want more.
There are many things on here that I have learnt a lot of and I don't think a day has past where I haven't talked about PCP or discussed it and even the hotly contested subjects have been nothing but useful to make me think about whether or not I want to make certain choices.
So onto me. I have lost about 12kg in total and whilst the numbers are not everything, I have seen a huge difference, not just in the way clothes fit me (or not as the case may be) but in the way I carry myself, the way I walk around and massively on the tennis court (I feel that there aren't many balls I can't get to...). I had a dinner last Friday and people didn't even recognise me as I walked in, quite amazing to get that response. The other thing is that now that I am in better shape the truth comes out about how I was before ("Chi, you did look REALLY fat and your belly was HUGE....") but it's all good to hear that now as opposed to before (yes, I did know my belly was huge, thank you very much...).
From here, even though I didn't get to my anticipated target of 20kg (which I am not even sure was realistic or healthy), my goalposts have shifted to going by body fat percentage and whilst I am 26 now I think I can go and aim for 15 which would be super healthy. I guess I see PCP as a kickstart to years and years of abundance, excess living and ruin to my body and it has been amazing to see what can be done in 3 months when we are talking years of stored unhealthy living.
So onwards and upwards, I have asked my trainer to start helping with the resistance training and I think the cardio I can pretty much sort out myself. Skipping has been an amazing way to sort out the cardio and I have just ordered 10 ropes to give out as presents to friends - it's one thing I will take away with me and something I want to pass on. My colleagues also bought me the Garmin 910XT for my birthday present so am looking forward to exploring the possibility of triathlons and other forms of activity to keep me engaged and on track. And I'll be excitedly following Cecilia and Sean's blogs as they embark on the PCP journey - will be fascinated to see how they "turn out"!
All in all, I have to thank Patrick and Sarah who have been awesome on this whole project. From the granular thinking about what to eeke out on the information side, to standing strong on views giving balance to hotly contested issues, I feel that I have received a wealth of information delivered in a way that's going to make it stick. I do have a slight fear of rebound, but I am thinking and hoping that the interest that I have garnered during these last 3 months is really going to drive me foreward and not backward. Not to mentioning how utterly addictive the exercises and getting into shape can be!
So well done everyone and thanks for sharing in the last 3 months, the Bloomberg chat has been hilarious and supportive (not least if it's just to know how many people keep falling off the wagon in an extreme fashion...) and I am trying to get a ton of others to sign up too.
Gout ridden AGAIN! I was limping around the office and actually enjoying the challenge of the supersets before the Evil Gout Monster struck again, GRRRR. AND I felt like I had gotten the skipping down perfectly...
Anyway, I was going to go for a health check up AFTER PCP and reset everything, but the place I wanted to do has an available slot tomorrow or else it's a two month wait, so am going to go tomorrow and get everything done. I know roughly where I am with uric acid and blood pressure etc, so it will be good to see where I am and can move forth from there. Previously health checks have been quite an onerous affair, going in doing your thing and then getting results that you dread for fear of knowing that you have been a bad bad boy and feel more guilt about not doing what you think you should be.
This time around I am actually quite looking forward to doing it knowing that whatever the results, that I have a good chance of making things better and actually focus on it - it's taken quite a while for me to get to a place that I care about my health (I always admired those who saw the light early on in their years, whilst I was out doing horrible mean things to my body...), but as they say, it's never too late to start.
I am kind of bummed about not being able to do the end exercises but I can revisit them at another time and I am trying to get into the frame of mind that the rest of my life post-PCP is really just a continuation of what has been an otherwise great journey so far.
I love the way that PCP has gotten me not only THINKING about my whole wellbeing in general but actually got me INTERESTED in taking care of myself. It kind of sounds nuts when I say it aloud like that, but there are just too many temptations in the world to NOT take care of yourself in the best possible way, I guess we've come to live in such a crazy decadent world.
One of the things that I wanted to learn from this too and I think I am getting there, is that when your body and health are in better shape, everything else falls into place. Bad habits seem to disappear, you feel motivated to do better in all aspects of your life and I really do feel that just having a different body seems to give you a quite different mindsight and outlook in life.
It's a great feeling.
So today I did the perfect skip, tripped up 3 times, but otherwise the 2x9 minutes went perfectly... the last trip was 24 seconds from the end and I was thinking "I can't trip up now..." and then I did. Not a big deal.
The vsits and planks was a frigging nightmare... I did 25 vsits then 1 minute plank, then 30 vsits and 1 min followed by 20 1 min and then finished strong(ish) on 30 vsits and a 1 minute plank.
I don't know if those numbers are good, but all I know is that I was whimpering like a little baby and if pcp trainers were ever worried that I was self conscious about how I looked or how I expressed how utterly pathetic I might have come across, then no, you don't have to worry, I was one big wailing PCP holy hot mess (courtesy of Cecilia) and utterly proud.
I drank tonight. Damn, it was good, but some part of me is more excited about life post pcp - yes there will be tribulations and trials of many sorts but man, I have a long way to get to my goal and I feel that PCP has only equipped me with all the tools that I need to get THERE.
Post pcp celebrations on Friday, will be good to consolidate our experiences over a well deserved bevvie or two.
Finish strong finish strong finish strong.... (and for those of you who are worried that my tolerance has gone down, you really have another thing coming...)
I always struggle a bit with ending strong, so coming into the last week of PCP was always going to be a bit challenging.
Last week I restarted the exercises and man, were they tough. I had skipped the last two weeks of "to failure" and so it was good to see how I did. I found the skipping of 3x7minutes pretty tough but over the course of the week, I started to have mini victories, 3 mins, 4 mins, 5 mins stretches and it keeps getting better. I think finding an "equillibrium" point has been tough, skipping at the right speed, the right breathing techniques and I guess I spend a lot of the time whilst skipping thinking about if I am regulating everything correctly, am I skipping too fast, breathing too slowly and since we are cardio-ing over a relatively longer period of time, it is important to get that balance right. It's great though that I have that very comfortable feeling of when I start skipping, you can almost hear the brain cells going "oh it's this thing again", nice to have familiarity on the coordination.
On the diet, I have been a lot more relaxed. I still eat everything that the maid brings in, but this is one thing that I feel like I want to really be able to do on my own two feet. In a way, I have taken matters in my own hands and used the principles I have learnt so far instead of following everything to a tee. I am still finding eating fruit a HUGE chore, but everything else is pretty much in check.
I have been thinking about my goals and where I am. So I have been asking around. I started off PCP thinking about dropping 20kg as a goal and so far I am more at 10-11kg which isn't a bad result in itself considering how much muscle I have built and have been thinking whether the 20kg is realistic or even useful or a good achievement. So I consulted a few different people. My psycho nutjob colleague in Singapore who does all the ironmans said it was probably better to focus on body fat percentage rather than weight itself, which seems to make sense. I am at about 26 right now and he said to aim to get to 15, which is a realistic maintenance level. He said sub 10 is for hardcore athletes and my expro tennis friend came in at 4.5 a few years back, which is just nuts.
It's really important for me to not lose sight of a goal (and its fine for it to keep changing and fine tuning to something that makes more sense) after PCP and to extrapolate all the principles I have learnt, skills, techniques to keep aiming to where I want to get to. So yes, even thought everyone keeps telling me that I look great and have lost so much weight bla bla bla, I want bigger and better things now.
I want to do a proper check up after PCP too to see where I am in terms of cholesterol, uric acid etc etc and can start from scratch and looking at all this stuff properly again.
I know I have been quiet, but for the last two weeks I have had an ongoing battle with GOUT AGAIN! My pcp trainers tell me (and I read this on the web too) that losing a lot of weight and building muscle exacerbates gout attacks and man, did I feel it.
The first time I had gout on the PCP, I went to the gym and did the upper body work and missed out the lower body and was almost crawling around the floor like a leper in the gym, but this time around it was too frigging painful. I couldn't even step on my right leg and at night I'd wake up every 30 mins to an hour because of the pain.
Thankfully it has subsided now and I think I am ready to do the exercises again tomorrow.
I think my approach has been slightly different the second time around. Given the fact that we are kind of getting into the "understanding the principles" phase of PCP and that "80% of PCP is diet", I didn't see the need to overly push myself with the kind of pain I had been getting and instead, focussed on the diet. I have been eating less carbs than what was prescribed on the diet and I have been missing an egg white here and there and amazingly, the weight has been dropping still. Hopefully this all feeds into understanding the deeper principles of healthy living and its amazing how I see two weeks of not exercising as a kind of eternal slump, where as 2 weeks before would not even cross my mind, so I am trying to draw the positives from the whole experience.
Like everyone else I have started to think about life post PCP and I am kind of excited with this new found freedom of WANTING to be in better shape and see how much more I can do, so right now all good.
Am in Bali for this wedding and PCP seems to be a bit somewhat of a distant memory (OK it's only two days ago.. but it feels like forever ago). I have realised that my appetite has really gone down and before I would just gorge my food down and now, I just eat a lot less and even if I do feel really full, the food seems to go down much quicker, ie metabolism is still pretty high. I did have a few glasses of wine and some beers, but nothing ridiculous.
I skipped the last two days of exercises and about to head out to do today's. I really am losing motivation and part of that is because I am out here and not in my usual routine. I find it quite easy to get up at 530 before work to do my gym session and a day doesn't really feel complete until I have finished it. I guess it's good that I am building some good habits here, I just hope they are sustainable.
I still have quite a bit of visceral fat to burn through and I think the lack of progress here also adds to the lack of motivation. No excuses of course, but I am just being honest with what's going on. I feel with the exercises too that you have moments of really enjoying them and feel great that your body feels great and maybe with the disruptions of Indulgence 2, Bali and quasi gout attacks that I haven't had a long stretch to keep the momentum going and not felt strong whilst working out.
Other than that, I have been wearing a lot of nice clothes I had that didn't used to fit, with great ease and the belt loops keep whittling down.
All in all, I am glad to be on the home straight and see what these final weeks of tough love can really do.
So I had a slightly elongated Indulgence Day, which kind of turned into an Indulgence 48 hours and what better (if not more stylish) way to do it than to partake in Yardbird's one off hosting of Mexican food at Shake Em Buns in Central. The queue was crazy (3 hours for some but we only waited 30 minutes) but the food was worth it. Free tequila whilst we lined up couldn't be missed and a bottle of good plonk prior to that.
I have to say that for some reason, I have really lost my appetite in recent days, not sure if because I associate not eating with losing weight (don't worry folks, I am not about to turn bulemic...) but I really wanted to push myself that extra bit. I find eating fruit a chore and a bore, all that chowing down in the mornings and before I realise it, it's time to eat lunch when I have barely finished my breakfast and after workout supplements. Is it ok to skip the occasional post workout fruit or yoghurt here and there, I just really can't stomach it... surely it is going to help me lose a bit more weight?
Other than that the exercises are REALLY fucking hard. And they take a lot longer too. The good thing is that I am becoming a lot stronger without really realising it. I was able to finally do some chin ups (the thought of 7x12 inclined chin ups pushed me to try) and managed a measly 20 before succumbing to jelly arms. The chest dips I finally mastered with no assistance and I actually felt it was working out my chest this time, which always helps. Skipping minutes instead of counting has also thrown me off a bit. I guess if your mind works better in a goal driven type way, going through the number is much easier, minutes is a bit more counterintuitive, but I am beginning to get into a groove and I try alternating feet or silly distractions to help make the time pass a bit quicker...
Indulgence always throws me off my routine and with the gout attack last week, I felt I haven't had a long stretch of good pcp. I am going to try stopping smoking on Monday again, it doesn't make sense to do all that goodness to your body and then throw it all away, I still hark back to the first few weeks where I stopped and felt really good. So time to refocus on Monday.
Incidentally the last week seems to be the week that everyone noticed how much weight I lost (or at least didn't look like the fat slob I was before) and consensus seems to convince me that I am doing something right. I am down to 7kg lost now and 4% body fat and am still looking for that acceleration in weight loss that I keep hearing about.
The "valley" experience has been quite interesting too. I've found myself being a tad more lenient on the weekends when it comes to food, but then lenient isn't really that lenient, but I do admit, with indulgence and gout, I seem to have lost a bit of the focus.
Maid is out for the next two weeks... I think the real valley has just begun... (or more like bottomless pit...)
Last week I had a GOUT ATTACK on my right foot, which I am going to have to WTF about. I thought the whole point of doing this healthy stuff is to get healthy? And I have been eating healthily crazy and not drinking so am confused as to why I had it. It did go after a few days to find that I now have it on my LEFT FOOT, which is doubly annoying. I guess as the PCP Jedi's tell us, our bodies are going through very strange periods, so am just trusting that this is a momentary thing. I read somewhere also that losing too much weight too quickly can cause attacks, so I am kind of screwed either way it seems.
I think the "valley" has been ok so far, we just have to grind on through. I have noticed that my appetite has really gone done, which I never thought would ever happen in a lifetime, but my breakfasts are taking longer to go down and sometimes I miss some of the fruit portions (was this after workout fruit or mid morning fruit snacks? Or did I eat them both already?) but I think in the spirit of forgetting numbers and understanding the essence of what is being conveyed, I think I am doing ok.
I am not sure if it's psychological but I feel like I got fatter again. Well, my scales are telling me I lost 6kg and still the same 3% body fat and my shirts, trousers and even shoes feel much looser, but when I look at myself, I feel like I have still a long long way to go, maybe my goal changed or expectations of myself changed?
I've also started smoking a bit too, very apt to talk about this on the day that our training memo talks about smoking as the no 1 thing we can give up to help our chances against cancer, but I am rationalising it by telling myself I need just once vice to keep me going through the pain barriers.
Other than that, I feel my body is so much stronger. I am able to do chest dips with no assistance now and planks seem relatively ok. I think the key is to focus on where you are now and how to move generally in the direction of getting to 3x6 well executed kung fu situps, for example and we are not necessarily expected to get it all done well on the first go.
My food is getting a bit bland, maybe when the maid is out for two weeks I can get creative with some dishes.
Yes, I am dreading it already (how many tupperware boxes can I wash in a night?).
I've been feeling a bit flat with the PCP thing, maybe the initial excitement has gone and now it feels like I have plateau-ed a bit, but either way, this month supposedly is what separates the men from the boys.
The exercises have been fine and even though, sometimes it's hard to know exactly if I am striking the balance between pushing myself too much and enough, I think most of the time, I am pretty sore, so I guess that must mean that I am feeling the burn and some good is becoming of it.
The diet is ok, but I have found that on weekends, things are a bit tougher as social engagements kick in and I want to be a bit more relaxed. Not sleeping enough is also a big factor although for the first time in ages I did sleep a full 9 hours last night and my body felt great, like someone hadn't beaten me up the day before. I have a slight pain in my right achilles heel but am hopefully it will have gone by tomorrow or won't be enough to hamper the skipping tomorrow.
Other than, I realised I still have quite a fair way to go in terms of where I want to be and now it seems that the visceral fat is next on the list. What I realise here is that the fat here is quite dense and so it is going to take a long time (my trainer says 1-2 years, but am very eager to prove him wrong) and so a bit of patience and focus is required to see me through (I will be able to notice the difference hopefully, but not as much as I have in the first month of PCP).
I realised too how many social things I seem to be missing out on - I mean yes I can go, but it's not half as fun if I don't eat... like what do I do in a wedding in Bali coming up? I don't want to cause attention by sitting there the whole evening sipping on my fresh lime soda waters... I'll feel like a tool with Adult ADD.
I am not about to give up any time soon, but any tips on motivation would help to get me in that really positive frame of mind again.
So I have been definitely feeling the effects of life post indulgence and part of me worries about life post PCP and my complete ineptitude at handling social situations with even an iota of self control. I guess it's a long way away still so time to focus back on the task at hand.
This week has been noticeably tougher and as Patrick says, this is the month to put the foot on the pedal. The exercises have been way tougher and I have needed to go into the gym much earlier to do the exercises so as to not rush through them. The skipping is much easier now although I have to say, a few ciggies a few days ago and I am still feeling them on my lung capacity. And after some of the sessions, I am yelling out in pain on the gym floor, because I am finding them really tough.
The evening dinner has been tough too, I nearly cried when I saw that all we get to eat is an apple, banana, two egg whites and a glass of milk, but since someone suggested blending the above with a bit of manuka honey, it has gone done a lot more smoothly. Plus, if I down that at dinner say at 6pm, I can still have a plate of vegetables at around 8-9ish and feel that that is my dinner, so it works out quite well. Again, I try not to think much about it and just down whatever arrives in the tupperware for lunch.
Other than that, my body is slowly shrinking. I am for sure much much leaner and I feel my body is gradually getting smaller, although something tells me that the visceral fat inside is going to take a bit of time...
I started to try on some of my small shirt sizes yesterday and found that I am getting close to them fitting, which is great... I am getting comments about how I look better, but to be honest, it doesn't mean very much until I get to the goals I want to get to...
Two days ago I had business drinks... I think first time I have been taken out and the bill didn't come to enough to cover for valet parking (bill 300HKD) - pitiful... we sat outside with the smokers, but have been good to be able to resist the temptation so far. Will leave you with some food pictures...
Had some thoughts on skipping this morning (which I found really tough incidentally). I was thinking that if I can run a half marathon without stopping why I find it so hard to skip more than 250 in one go. Maybe I am going too fast at 250 or the exercise is a lot more intense (I have heard that it is 3x more effective than running), but in theory I must be able to do all in one go, even at a less intense pace. I am thinking maybe it's my approach to it, or maybe I hate it so intensely that I need to be more relaxed when I think about it and that it's just an alternative to running... anyway I need to think about this.
Also I can't seem to regulate my breathing when skipping, its not consistent or systematic and so that doesn't help either. I think I need to really work on this especially as we need to do a lot more these days.
On the good side, I did an assessment with my Personal Trainer and can do a lot more crunches per minute, I can do >90 a minute which is better than the 64 I started with. My bicep strength and the strength in my legs are also improved by about 50% too.
On the theme of indulgence, we had a business dinner last night which we decided to have at the Hyatt Steakhouse. I decided to have a few bevvies and be a bit more relaxed during dinner foodwise. So I ordered a beer which went down shockingly fast. I thought I might pass out at there mere whiff of alcohol, but oh no, for some reason my alcohol tolerance was really high. I managed to finish off about 4-5 glasses of wine and about 6 whiskies (OK this sounds like OVERindulgence I know, but compared to what I usually drank, it really wasn't...)
Foodwise I had the steak (please see below) and for starters I had crab legs with a bit of butter and we had a lot of vegetables, so I guess it wasn't that bad, although we did have some chips and mac cheese. When the food arrived at dinner, I was frigging nervous, I didn't even know what to do with all that food. I was a kid in a candy store.
I did notice however that I didn't really go that crazy. I had a few bites of desert and some cheese, but otherwise, it wasn't too crazy. I also smoked about 4-5 cigarettes because I felt like having them and I have to say, that I totally get the indulgence thing. That you learn to really enjoy those things you do once in a while and yes, it's a choice, rather than something that you do by default without realising. So I guess the lesson is learnt, you really do control everything rather than feeling like it controls you.
I got home late at around 1230 and then still managed to get up, drive a few rounds around the Hyatt whilst I got completely lost, pick up my car and do my exercises in the morning before I got to work. Absolutely knackered but feel great for it.
I realised my motivation for getting up also. I guess my desire to lie in is far outweighed by my utter disdain for doing the exercises in the evening when there are a million people in the gym and way too many people I might know that want to say hi (and I don't really want to say hi back). Plus I hate that feeling ALL day that you still know that you have to do the exercises...
Incidentally the exercises felt like they just got really frigging tough.
So I managed to do the half marathon, I did the first 14km super fast in an hour and then struggled after that with cramping not helping my cause. I forgot to eat breakfast which didn't help at all. I noticed that my metabolism has really increased though, the isotonic drinks I had en route almost had an immediate effect in perking up my legs. Just made me wish I had actually trained for the bloody thing.
I treated myself to a Sprite too during lunch. Wow, it tasted SO good.
I didn't realise till later too that I had somehow sprained my ankle and couldn't walk properly so all of today, I kept to-ing and fro-ing about whether I should rest or not. My fellow PCP-er (the one who brought me down on the smoking, see earlier post) somehow redeemed himself by telling me to go do what I could. I signed up for the spinning class thinking that it would be ok to not affect my ankle. I went to look for ankle braces, but they didn't really have my size so I went without.
Turns out that the spinning was a great alternative cardio exercise than the skipping and I seem to remember reading somewhere that triathlon guys are stronger, because the 3 different activities exercise different muscles and so help build each other up. It definitely felt like that today and I had a great workout. I proceeded downstairs to do the exercises, but there were way too many people there (and those that I knew) that I decided to just go home and do the remaining exercises at home which I did.
I feel like I am back to my routine anyway now. I got an email from a friend too saying that she had stopped smoking for a few days, so it's good, sometimes you forget that you can affect those around you too and it is a frigging miracle to hear about me not smoking or drinking if you knew me even a month ago.
I know we are not meant to weigh ourselves but I can't help be but a bit disappointed that I am not losing weight fast enough. My body fat percentage has gone down 2% now, but maybe we can have some guidance in terms of what we should expect, ie body fat percentage lower, then weight loss, then... I think having a more tangible goal would be useful.
Oh and I had this great realisation that I am saving a ton of money on soap and shampoo by working out at the gym so much.
So today was a good day to rest having got up at 6am to do the exercises my left foot was swollen and quite frankly felt pretty gouty (I used to get the attacks quite frequently). I took some anti inflammatories and was hoping it would die down so as to be able to do my exercises in the evening. Effects of detox maybe?
Alas, it never happened and so I read on the training to not overexert and not that I wanted to skip a day, I did think it was probably wisest too. And I do want to run the half marathon on Sunday too, so was better to rest up. At this moment of writing, the pain has completely gone which means I am good to do the exercises tomorrow (I might do 1000 skips AND the workouts I missed out before) and I have a tennis session planned later in the evening before the run in the morning Sunday. I haven't trained but somehow am a bit excited. I guess its a good feeling when you know you are strong and just want to enjoy the performance (which incidentally may turn out to be the complete opposite in reality...).
I worked till 8pm tonight which is unheard of with me usually, but there were some unresolved issues with a really frustrating overseas office and by the time I left, I was suitably stressed AND late for meeting my friend for dinner. I was told my punishment for turning up late was to down a few shots, of which I just laughed off. I felt like having a cheeky ciggie too, but managed to refrain and just eat my usual dosage of protein, vegetables and carbs.
I have to work tomorrow too, so hopefully the continued routine will help me do well and not distract me.