Day 90 GRADUATION POST
Final blog.... Already. I must admit blogging is not my forte, but I have learnt so much from this program. For the last month I have to be honest, I have not religiously followed the program, however managed to change my habit patterns particularly in regards to food. Eating 6 small meals a day is now routine and my portions are much smaller. So overall I managed to shave 4% of my body fat with the program which has been done gradually which bodes well for maintenance given it's all a game of habits over the long run.
The exercise regimen was taxing, particularly with the supersets but nevertheless I can say 75% of it I have done and in the process realised the counting is not what matters which is what I was focused on for most of my 'training' life.
I much enjoyed the experience and recommend it to anyone who wants to start change which will be transformational.
Finally get a chance to sit down after a busy week of travel. I still find the leg exercises quite hard and managed to break my resistance band while away. I think mine was originally made for physio with a wide flat elastic band. The new one is like the one which was recommended at the start (i.e. a thin elastic rope, not too dissimilar to a jump rope actually...).
Food wise I am not feeling hungry and am in the process of changing to vegan and plan to stop having egg whites after the program. The training has been more difficult than I thought while travelling simply because I have been doing things at different times everyday. The next few days will be good so I can get back in the routine while not travelling.
The last week has not been great for my PCP... I was travelling and with family in town there were one too many dinners and I skipped 3 days of exercise. Not optimal, but I am intent this week on diligently working out every day. I still have for some reason a lot of trouble with the pistol squat. It seems my leg will collapse every time and I have been trying to support myself with the bench in the park... In anycase, it does what it says on the tin as my legs do burn quite a lot after. I have taken quite a taste to the yoghurt mixed wth the whey protein after the workout. It seems to taste better than a shake and is more consistent.
I also changed my shoes to have a more padded sole when doing the rope skipping. I also found a tennis court next to my house with a rubber floor. The new combination with the shoes seems to be much easier on the feet and legs. I was starting to have foot pain perhaps due to the repeated impact, but it does not occur now. A new pair of shoes was a great investment.
Another week... Time flies when you are having fun! Food wise I am eating less than when I started. I also read something quite interesting this week about food in relation to Vipassana from the www.dhammawheel.com discussion forum:
"Wise people who respect dhamma, wish to eliminate demerits and gain
merit as much as possible. In every respect they wish to gain merit even
Out of the three requirements, food,
clothing and shelter, food is the most important because it is a daily
necessity. While eating if we do not have proper reasoning we become
attached to the good food, which is lobha. When the food is not good we
are disappointed, which is dosa. Depending on the food we eat every day
we are as though increasing lobha, dosa, demerits. That is why those who
respect dhamma and wishing to gain merit must eat in such a way so as
to gain merits.
There are three kinds of eating to gain merits
(1) Eating with sila
(2) Eating with samatha
(3) Eating with vipassana
(1) Eating with sila is as follows:
We must reflect that we do not eat for amusement like children,
neither do we eat to beautify ourselves, nor do we eat to have strength
and pride. We eat so as to have sound health to be able to work for the
sasana, to work for the benefit of ourselves and others, to practise
noble dhamma. Thus, eating with wisdom is known as eating with sila.
Motto: To enable us to practise dhamma, eating with wisdom is eating with sila.
(2) Eating with samatha is as follows:
While eating the food, we try to extend our metta towards those
who prepared and cooked the food, towards our parents and teachers who
were our benefactors; toward those who have come to donate the food.
Beginning from these people may all creatures from the ten directions be
healthy and happy. This kind of eating is eating while gaining samatha
Motto: Extending metta while eating is eating with samatha.
(3) Eating with vipassana is as follows:
Beginning from seeing the food, noting every action while eating.
When we see the food we note 'seeing, seeing' just as we see it.
When we put out our hand to the meal table we note 'reaching, reaching;'
when we touch the food we note, 'touching, touching'. When we prepare
food for a mouthful, we note 'preparing, preparing.' When we take the
food 'taking, taking'. When we lower our heads 'lowering lowering'; when
we put the food into our mouths 'putting, putting'; when we put our
head up 'putting our head up'; when chewing the food 'chewing, chewing';
when we know the taste 'knowing, knowing'; when we swallow,
'swallowing, swallowing.' Thus if we note every action while eating it
is eating with vipassana. We attain vipassana merit.
Motto: Noting the actions while eating is eating with vipassana.
Eating with vipassana, at the beginning we tend to forget many
actions. But later when we get into the habit of noting we could note
every action. At the beginning of noting we should keep any obvious
action as the main object, reaching for the meal table or lowering your
head or chewing as the main object. If you can note one thing, later you
will be able to note everything.
While noting and as your
concentration develops to a certain extent, you will realize that the
action of the physical body is separate and the noting mind is separate.
Later when samadhi deepens step by step you will discover that the
desire to eat and the action of eating disappears or passes away step by
step and you are gaining vipassana merit while eating. Those whose
paramis are mature have attained noble insight.
the teacher (upajjhaya) Mahasangharakkhita, the uncle Sayadaw, and
Sangharakkhita, the nephew samanera, were residing together at the same
monastery. At eight-thirty, or nine o'clock in the morning the samanera
went round the houses for alms-food. When he came back to the monastery
at about ten thirty or eleven o'clock he ate the food. While eating it
the Sayadaw came and admonished, by saying, "Samanera, do not burn your
tongue with hot rice and curry" although the monk knew that the
alms-food which has been collected from houses has become entirely cold
at ten thirty, eleven o'clock, and yet he admonished that the samanera
must not burn his tongue with hot rice and curry. Sayadaw does not mean
the actual rice and curry, he meant to say do not burn the tongue with
lobha, dosa hot food. Thus the samanera was mindful of his actions while
When you eat good food and are not mindful you
become attached to the food which is lobha (rasatanha). When you eat
inferior food, you are displeased and have dosa. Thus lobha, dosa hot
food burn your tongue. So as not to burn, the young samanera ate with
mindfulness. While eating with mindfulness, he became an arahant."
The super sets on muscle groups do work because I have never felt so sore in my life. The arms and legs in particular are hurting now on a permanent basis, but it is good pain. Of all the things I have noticed in the last few weeks, the gain in energy is what has struck me most. It is proof that eating healthy actually changes ones experience!
Finally a few minutes to blog! I have been travelling for the past week and it has been hard to find an internet connection. I am still finding it a bit hard to make the shift to a minuted set of jump ropes rather than counting. It's actually fascinating the training article about trying to get in to the moment of training and not focusing the mind on counting. I am reading the book the Power of Now by Eckart Tolle and the messages are quite similar.
The leg training and push ups also remain a bit of a struggle, but I am now training my mind to tolerate the burning sensation and keep carrying on. I also find that when I go to the gym in the morning things are easier than if I wait until the end of the afternoon. I find that gym in the morning and yoga in the evening works best for me. I think ultimately it is a matter of trial and error, but as recommended I am trying to build some stability in the cycle so that my body can get used to it more easily.
Another week ahead which I am looking very much forward to!
Another week has gone by. I have been complementing my training with ashtanga practice in the morning. I was introduced to this type of yoga almost by mistake by inadvertantly booking a class. After doing 2 years of Bikram, I have had an epiphany for ashtanga. I am now learning the Mysore style (self practice with a teacher) and the practice of the body following the breathing rather than the other way around requires such a heightened level of self awareness that it gives strength to any other endeavor where one needs to use the mind to motivate - PCP being one of them. I have been at it now for almost a month and the first few weeks have been very hard on the core and upper body as I realise that I did not even have the strength to do the basic sequence and I was out of breath faster than I could complete a sequence. I am amazed at the pace that the body improves with regular practice. In anycase for anyone willing to give it a go, I have found yoga very helpful to sustain PCP.
On the food front, I seem to eat more than before, as I spent the last year cutting out carbs, however I feel much more energetic, warmer in winter and without a doubt able to complete workouts with enough energy to feel the burn in muscles. I quite like the smaller but more frequent meals as my body is more nimble and I am able to concentrate more on what I am doing. Fruits have been a revelation as well. I used to avoid them because of the carbs, but I now realise that there is nothing like eating an apple or an orange to provide quick energy and avoid getting hungry. A few people this week have commented directly (and indirectly!) that I have lost weight - so I must be doing something right :)
Almost mid way through the program! I have not felt that strong and in shape in a few years. I guess the advice of focusing on the legs has paid off as it burns energy even in my sleep. I still find it a bit of a struggle though to go to the gym first thing in the morning. I much more enjoy being at the gym around 5 to 6pm. The only challenge is to keep up the schedule when travelling. I find also that it is relatively easy to keep up the food regimen when travelling by selecting the vegan option on Cathay but I also need to carry the proteins in small ziplock bags. Thank god the powder is not white, I would be in for a good set of questions at customs...
One thing I have noticed is that the fat loss has slowed in the last 2 weeks for some reason. I think I might not be as religious as I should be with the food intake which might explain it. I have gotten used now to have very little carbs after 6pm other than my fruits. I find them such a good way to end a meal as I have a sweet tooth. I will try for the week ahead to do the jumping in the morning and go to the gym in the afternoon.
The last few days have been a bit more challenging from a food and exercise standpoint. I was travelling and it is always harder to have control over time to eat and what I am eating, especially in a plane. I have tried the vegan meals on Cathay and I must say they are not bad. The only issue is that they serve white bread, otherwise a lot of vegetable and some form of carb which works for lunch time. I have also taken into habit to carry apples with me so it is easy to eat the morning snack and afternoon snack. Keeping up the exercise regimen has been difficult in the last 2 days because it has been hard to find a suitable location to exercise as I was staying with friends. I have managed to do part of the work out which I am happy about, but did not manage to do the skipping. Nonetheless, I have compensated by being a lot more active on those days by taking the stairs and walking everywhere in the cold weather. I think the training bullet on the body adjusting for real is quite spot on - I found that it is harder now for some reason even though the physical load has not increased. So many relatives and friends follow this blog now - and the weekly photo - that failure is not an option!
Today the progress made dawned on me. I feel much more energetic. If that is only that gained, it is definitely worth the effort. I am starting to enjoy my daily gym routine. I now manage to do my jumps in about 15 minutes and it takes about 30 minutes to run through the rest of the exercises. I still feel my upper body is quite weak, in particular the arms, but my trainer noticed that I am much stronger than when I started - so I guess the secret is perseverance. I have tried push ups on the side as well and I can now do 15 without too much trouble. This might sound little, but it is a great achievement, specially since I could not even finish a single digit challenge a few weeks back.
On the food front, I miss a lot normal dinners because it cuts a lot of my social time and going to a restaurant is not that much fun when sitting at the table drinking fizzy water... I know it is temporary which is why I have mostly stuck to it. I am reading a fantastic book called the China Study. In a large scale study it essentially shows the strong correlation between animal based diets with cancer, heart diseaseses and dementia. Some of the lowest incidences of these diseases are found in areas where most of the diet is plant based. Interestingly, the protein casein found in milk has a strong effect on cancer development which, in men in particular where calcium intake is less critical in later stage in life, cutting milk products lowers significantly the risk factors. Very interesting read... and food for thought.
Things are going well however it is more difficult than I tought to follow the eating regime when in a restaurant. I have been surprised at how flexible restaurants are in general - specially the Chinese one where I order rice and steamed pak choi. For western restaurants, I find it more difficult particularly to gauge the pasta or risotto portions. With the new menu, I think I will focus mainly on lunches and breakfasts for social events. People around me have been surprisingly understanding when I tell them that I cannot do dinner. It is funny to notice how most of our social activities revolve around food!
The training is going well as it is complemented by my trainer once a week. I am a bit better at push-ups but it seems that the improvement is marginal. I have found out why since my triceps collapse before my chest. Similar story for the pull ups where my back muscle do not have a full range of motion because my biceps are not strong enough. As such, I am now paying extra attention at building the foundation. I hope it comes soon though!
I just uploaded my photos for week 3 and week 4 and I was wondering what progress I have made this week. I can hardly notice any change, however I feel much more energetic and sleep better. I think week 3 has been a week of internal changes for me. I feel my chest and shoulders are more firm and my posture is more upright. It dawned on me how long I have been neglecting my core muscles. It is not that easy to use them in an office environment and they surely tend to get weaker if they are not used. I have been going to the gym everyday and despite my attendance, I feel the progress on the push-up front and pull-ups is slow. My trainer told me that my biceps and triceps are so weak that the chest or the back do not get fully engaged. I am thus been focusing on the basics, but I am definitely in a different place than when I started.
Foodwise, I discovered the miracles of the microwave oven to cook egg whites. A bowl, egg whites covered in plastic wrap and in less than a minute fluffy eggs cooked without oil or salt are ready. It is now very easy to take my proteins, pretty much anywhere and quickly. I also mix vegetables with curry powder which gives an interesting flavor for very little seasoning. I find the diet quite easy to follow and can now gauge without a scale when I am in a restaurant for instance how much rice I should be eating which makes it quite easy to stick to the plan. By eating 6 meals a day I notice that the afternoon hunger that usually sets around 4pm is gone. A lot of benefits for very little change!
I am actually quite surprised as how easy the diet is to follow. I am not really hungry which is great. I am just not sure I am getting enough proteins. My trainer suggested I supplement with protein shakes, but I am hesitant to do so, I would rather have more egg whites. I am not too fond of shakes and other products if I cannot trace their provenance. The training is going ok although I think I hit a plateau this week. Surprisingly I am now starting to enjoy rope jumping and I can now do around 150 before tripping. Huge improvement as I remember the first few days I could not do more than 15 or so jumps before tripping. I notice my upper body is much stronger than it was when I started. I now can lift myself up when doing inversions in yoga - even my yoga buddy could not believe it. Well I told him to brace himself for more changes in the coming weeks!
I have been eating recently in restaurants and now knowing how much rice and vegetables I should eat, I find it much easier to always find something that suits me. I am also not shy now to ask for something not on the menu, like a bowl of steamed broccoli for example. Surprisingly most places accommodate without saying anything, proof that a sane diet can be combined with a social life. From a food perspective, I am not really hungry on this diet - well I guess diet is a misnomer because I eat now more than I used to eat. I have not really started to lose weight though, as a matter of fact I have gained some, but fortunately muscle mass based on my Tanita scale. I hope I can trim the body fat percentage as we continue without restricting the intake too much because then it becomes difficult to have the energy to work out. Before, I used to arrive at the gym tired, give it a half effort and not really progress. PCP has made me realise that in order to exercise properly carbs are an important part of the equation.
While in the program it is hard to really measure progress objectively observing oneself. I worked out today with my trainer who noticed significant progress. I was quite pleased with his observations. When I started 2 weeks ago, I could barely do push-ups. Now I am able to do 12 in a row. Might not be a lot, but if the trend persists I should hopefully be able to do a lot more by the end of the program. I notice that my intensity and ability to hold my form have also progressed significantly. I guess the routine and consistency of the exercise is what makes the difference. Looking at the menu, I wonder if we will increase the intake of proteins though (I am on the vegetarian menu) as I have taken out tofu and tempeh from my diet. It is also good to be back home as I still find it difficult to gauge correctly the weight of food when eating out. Otherwise, all is good and I am looking forward to week 3.
Back from holiday in a very cold Hong Kong. The haze reminds me of the snowstorms in Canada, well a few 10s of degrees Celsius warmer... This weeek was great from a training perspective going to the gym everyday and completing the program. I also managed to do Bikram yoga 3 times while away. Yoga is helping me quite a lot in terms of flexibility on top of building muscle mass. Where it was more problematic is with food. Now that I am back home, I plan to adhere religiously to the program. As I did not have a scale when away I have tried to guess the right portion size, but I am pretty sure I ate much more than I should have. I find also that given I was not eating that many carbs, eating fruit is not yet a natural habit for me. I imagine that I will get used to it over the next week.