It's amazing what a tweak in form can do.
In my last post, I mentioned that I am squatting 195 llbs. That's some pretty decent weight. Yesterday, I came up against the barbell squat press (demo pic shown). It's basically the same move, but holding the bar over the head and adding a shoulder press. With this shift, I was reduced to lifting just 50 llbs, and maxing out at 6 reps. My shoulder flexibility isn't great, so this was a tricky one for me. It was a great lesson in humility, but also in the necessity of training the whole body.
Thanksgiving was yesterday and I enjoyed the indulgence. Unfortunately, this week has been full of mini-indulgences and 'Everest eating' (because it's there). I'm at my parents house and I haven't been as vigilant as I promised in avoiding extra calories. Looking forward to getting home Saturday and having my own kitchen and schedule free of temptations.
In line with our holiday of gratitude, I'm thankful for my health, for the knowledge of how to take care of myself that Kenzai has given me, for this great community of supportive people that I like to call, The Most Positive Corner of the Internet.
In the gym this morning I saw a woman of I'm guessing 65 years old squatting as much as I do (195 llbs). I was so impressed in many ways - just the feat of it, but also because I could see my commitment to fitness going far into the future. Thanks for the inspiration.*
I needed a little inspiration yesterday. My chest day took two hours. I wasn't super-focused, but it's not like I was completely distracted either.
I had a surprise indulgence this week. I was doing a site visit of an amazing school that serves homeless teenagers (I work for a non-profit foundation). It happened to be their Thanksgiving celebration. One of my rules is that you always eat when you are someone's guest. And eat I did - turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans (in butter lest you think this was kompliant). Oh and banana pudding and lemon bars. I mean - WOW! I would say this was my indulgence but I also have Thanksgiving at my parents house this week.
My goal is this week is to stay compliant except for the Thanksgiving meal. This will be hard as they have mindless snacks like Fritos, salted nuts, brie, all over the house. Oh and wine. The Kenzai note on Everest Eating came just in time. I'm going to try to tuck away some of the unhealthy snacks, and put out cut veggies, cut apples in lemon water, and fruit on toothpicks.
One doesn't get to badass grandma status by popping Fritos all the time. Let's go.
*Side note: While she may not set squat records, Jerry R in our community is my badass grandma role-model. Her commitment to fitness, learning, mindfulness and trying new things always inspires me. Check out her blogs.
There are a bunch of progress indicators we pay attention to over the course of a program. We pay attention to the fit of our trousers. We notice when we go down a belt notch. I just reached two. Of course there are the weekly photos. Here’s a more subjective one – as I start to make progress, I touch myself more. No, not in THAT way. I find my hands almost unconsciously fondling my mid-section. It’s like I’m confirming, oh yah, there used to be more here. My stomach feels smaller. And tighter. I like that feeling.
In terms of other indicators, I took my halfway point measurements this week yesterday and discovered – everything is basically the same as it was in Sept. Huh? Well my waistline has gone down two inches. That’s a big plus (or minus, actually). But the rest of me has stayed the same. Or has it? I think I started to make some initial progress and then that shoulder injury had me losing those upper body gains. After the shoulder healed up I starting making progress again. So I would love to see some hard injury free work over this last month make some actual gainz!
I’m feeling in the groove again – getting the workouts done, the diet is right, and the sleep is coming. I’m having some work stress that interferes with sleep sometimes and I know can reek havoc on recovery and muscle building, so hopefully that gets sorted soon.
So two months into the program means... shopping time! This is the weight that I can sustain post program, so I treated myself to some new clothes. Great dressing room lighting had me taking really douchey selfies.
Thanks to the dozen or so folks who participated in the Perfect Fortnight Challenge. This two-week (duh) friendly competition ended on Sunday and competitors across programs racked up points in getting their exercise, diet, snacks, sleep, etc done perfectly every day. The highest daily score was 10 for a possible challenge total of 140.
Kenzai Trainer Extraordinaire took the championship with 136 points. She edged out celebrity trainee Da Fish (Jason F) with 135 points. Kim racked up 12 perfect days to win her title. Congratulations to both these amazing Kenzai warriors. Both win a shout-out from Patrick on their program page, and Kim should win a t-shirt but as a trainer she has one so we are sending it to Fish.
For me, having the structure and competition of the Challenge helped to knock me immediately out of my mid-program doldrum. It gave me a clear daily goal (and we learn over and over, that Kenzai is about doing the same goo things over and over), and a fun diversion. The comment section was my favorite part. I invited lots of smack talking, but this being Kenzai, was filled with lots of accolades and cheerleading. I posted a screenshot.
My own performance was pretty good. I scored 130 points with 8 perfect days. One of the realizations of doing this program is seeing how hard it is for many of us to be consistently perfect on Kenzai.
The challenge has brought me nicely into the final third of my program. I gotta keep focusing and get a great finish result.
Shoutout to all the Challenge competitors: Sum D, Meghan J (both from my original Kenzai Body team 3 years ago!), Jennifer W, Alan F, Sheinal B, Janet L, Sawitree R, Saloni H, Srujan L, William S (Swint!), Nikita, Straight Girlfriend Cecilia, and Sean K.
A week ago, I spent a fantastic weekend with my best friends from high school in beautiful Capitola, California (next door to Santa Cruz). This included Kenzai trainer Malia Hirschman who was in her last weekend of Reboot. Together we invented a new program called Kenzai Chardonnay. Here are the basics:
Workout: Pull in Chisel workouts for speed and ability to do without equipment. Blast Duran Duran (fun fact: Malia is an official member of the Dx2 fan club). Scream at each other during wall sits. Laugh a lot and count it as crunches.
Afternoon fruit snack: Chardonnay.
Keep drinking chardonnay through non-kompliant dinner.
I cashed in my perfectly-timed indulgence on Saturday night, eating Mexican food and adding margaritas to the chardonnay. Yah, Sunday I didn’t feel so great but it was totally worth it.
Here are pics of us recovering from workout.
Fun news: Last night I played a soccer double-header (120 minutes total) with my over-35 team. We won both games, claiming the league title.
More fun news: Red Sox!
Crappy news: After my soccer games, I rushed to shower and wind down so I could get my full 7 hours of sleep. Wind down didn't happen and I ended up with killer insomnia. I saw 4am come in before I fell asleep. I now feel like a train ran over me.
More crappy news: I am out of my, um, "insomnia helper medicine" that is now mostly legal in California. Need to stock back up.
Breakfast: For variety, I changed up my breakfast a little bit. I've been making a breakfast "taco" on instant toaster pancakes. Are those pancakes considered processed and out of bounds? There are definitely some ingredients I don't understand on the package.
We're at mid-point of the program. Well done my Iron teammates! Keep kicking ass.
I'm comparing my starting with my current photo. I can clearly see that I've lost a significant amount of my summer vacation fat. I can feel that difference when I put my hands on my waist, and I'm down a belt size, and my pants don't feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the pics show that I've also lost some muscle mass in my chest and shoulders and arms. This makes sense- I hurt my shoulder and stayed focused on lower body only for two weeks. But it's still a bummer on a weight lifting program. Hopefully I'll see some true Gym Bro style gainz over the second half of the program. I haven't taken any pictures of my legs and butt - I've been working those hard. I'll have to take a #belfie next run through this program.
Other wins :
- Loving the motivation of the Perfect Fortnight challenge. It's like a second honeymoon!
- I've been really consistent on the diet and working out every day.
- I've been alcohol-free 43 of 46 days.
- I've actually been doing a warm-up and warm-down almost every time!
- Today I hit 10 pull-ups! First time in 3 years or so. My goal is to get 10x3sets by program end.
Feeling strong and excited for the second half. Let's go teammates.
The Perfect Fortnight Challenge is working for me in restoring my motivation. Having a reason to focus on my habits every day has brought me back to a one perfect rep mentality. Each day I think about getting enough sleep, getting that workout in, eating my snacks, etc.
Yesterday was a tough day Kenzai-wise. I was busy at work, and unable to workout in the morning. But the Perfect Challenge pushed me to reorganize my schedule to get that workout in. I didn't have a lot of time, so I found myself doing warm down stretches back at my desk at work. Had a work function last night with free booze. I stuck to shrimp cocktail with no cocktail sauce, and these tiny sweet potatoes on a skewer. No alcohol! Got home at 9:15 and raided the veggies in my fridge for a late kompliant dinner. I scored a 9 out of 10, so not a perfect score but without the challenge I might've missed my workout and succumbed to sliders and bourbon at the event.
Feeling good moving as we pass the mid-point. So great to see everyone working so hard and getting results, not just on Iron but in so many different programs right now.
Pic is of a new breakfast discovery. A cafe near my house that I frequent when I work from home serves baked eggs puttanesca. Basically a bunch of veggies in tomato sauce over eggs. It makes a tasty and kompliant breakfast or lunch.
Being an American, I first heard the term "fortnight" from the 1980 flick Little Lord Fauntleroy with Sir Alec Guinness and Ricky Shroeder. Since then, I've tried to use the word as often as I can without sounding like an a-hole. In the US that's basically impossible. But not this time. Fellow Iron Warriors (and in fact any Kenzai person in program right now), I invite you to the Perfect Fortnight Challenge.
This virtual competition starts Monday, 22 Oct and finishes in a fortnight on Nov 4.
Many of us experience mid-program lull. This competition for Week 6 + 7 of Iron is designed just for fun, to bring a little spice and energy to the mid-program doldrums.
Here’s how it works – one can earn 10 points per day for doing the stuff you should be doing on program. Multiply by 14 days for a total of 140 possible points. Here’s the daily point breakdown:
3 perfect meals - 3
All snacks perfect - 1
No non-compliant food or alcohol - 1
Workout completed - 1
Warm-up AND Warm-down done - 1
Commenting on at least 2 Blogs - 1
Minimum 7 hours* sleep - 2
Daily Max Points - 10
*As sleep needs vary, individuals set their own minimum; it should be the amount that helps you feel rested and energized in the morning.
Most of us are nailing the exercises but when we slip, it's around diet, rest and community involvement. So this competition is designed to focus on those things.
Prizes: The winner from each team gets bragging rights, and Patrick will mention them in a video shout. I'm also trying to get a Kenzai t-shirt from HQ. TBD. In event of a tie, I’ll flip a coin.
All contestants will track their own results on a shared google doc. If you want in, message me or send me an email (to email@example.com) and share your gmail address with me. I’ll enter your name and share the google doc with you. You can message me up through Tuesday, Oct 23 and retroactively enter your points. The google doc is also great for leaving notes to encourage each other, or talk smack.
This should be motivating and fun, not stressful. Smack talking and playful teasing are highly encouraged! Join in and bring your results from rags to riches like Little Lord Fauntleroy over the next Fortnight.
I saved up my indulgence, and cashed it in yesterday. I hosted a potluck gathering of friends from Hawaii. Both food and company lived up to expectations: lumpia, grilled steak, and veggies (I brushed the corn with butter and coconut milk to avoid any semblance of kompliance), spam fried rice, various smoked meets and a stunning dessert of shortbread topped with layers of coconut pudding and sweet potato - it was heaven. Definitely a nice break from egg whites and steamed chard.
Matt, your reminder about the mid-month lull came right on cue. I've noticed a lull in my attitude. I'm not in The Valley; I'm just not particularly excited about the program right now. I'm a veteran, so I've been here before and I know it will pass after a couple of weeks. As part of this lull, I snuck in some lazy non-compliant calories last week. Nothing major - but, for example, I worked really late on Wed and had some m&ms and goldfish crackers in the office. I know that this kind of slacking won't fully sabotage my program, but it will impact my final result if I don't curb it right away.
My goal this week is to nail 7 diet days. I'll track my results in comments. Another goal is to cook something new from the Kenzai recipes section to spice things up a bit. Maybe something Indian or Thai or a new way to cook fish.
The shoulder injury has been healing nicely and I've been doing my modified workouts every day. Totally on point there.
Have a great week Kenzai warriors.
I've been using protein powder throughout his program. Since my breakfast and post-workout meal are one. I make a smoothie of protein powder, yogurt, sweet potatoes, and half a banana. I know it sounds weird but it's delicious. I pair this with my avocado toast and it's just easier to consume some of the breakfast mass by drinking it.
This little guy is my smoothie partner. When he sees me break out the Vitamix, he comes running over and I have to prepare most of the smoothie with him in one arm. Then he gets to turn the blender on, turn it up, turn it down, and turn it off. He also gets a little bit of the portion. It's our every morning ritual.
I've been semi-sidelined for a week with a shoulder injury.
Last week Monday I played in a soccer game and hurt my shoulder. For most of last week, I wasn't able to raise my arm to the side more than about 30 degrees. And trying that caused considerable pain.
We hope it's a contusion deep in the deltoid muscle. The doc said that if that's the case, the muscle is asleep and will wake up... in less that 6 weeks. Huh? Seriously? That must mean for mere mortals, not me, right?
The worse option is that it's a mild rotator cuff injury.
My orders were to sit tight for a week and see if my mobility increases. Fortunately, that happened and I can now raise it all the way, although slowly and with effort.
The frustrating part, other than being sidelined from upper body stuff, is that I've been specifically working on shoulder mobility for the last 6 weeks. Ugh, the irony.
I've been continuing to workout, but focusing on lower body and flexibility.
My mood is pretty good. I'm 46, I still play soccer, sometimes shit happens.
I appreciate The End of the Free Ride lesson we just had. We've been in this program a month now, and with the injury set back, I can feel some of my motivation wane. I was considering moving to the Sculpt program because I could focus just on lower body. I now realize that my brain was craving a new, interesting challenge. I got this. As an athlete and a parent - I certainly know how to grind. So I'm sticking with a modified Iron program, and know that with continued workouts and a strict diet, I'll see some good progress this month.
Happy grinding, teammates!
Damn, I broke my no alcohol streak. After almost two weeks with no drink, I found myself in this situation:
- I played an all day soccer tournament on Saturday. It was about 180 minutes of 4v4 soccer. What tastes good after a soccer tournament? Beer!
- Two of my best mates came up from LA for the tournament. What do best mates do? Drink beer!
So I went out with my mates after the tournament and had two beers along with a mildly non-compliant dinner. Sure, I probably made up for it with all the extra cardio, but I broke my streak in an unplanned way and I’m not thrilled about that.
The next night I went to a 94th birthday party. They busted out Cristal champagne. You’re damn right I had a glass! (it didn’t taste any better than other sparkling wine)
I could retroactively claim an indulgence, but it wasn’t planned for, so that’s cheating. OK, so I had some slip-ups. I’ve also been really consistent with the diet and workouts and community involvement since the program started. I see progress in pull-ups, weight lifted, increased musculature and less tummy fat. I’m not going to harp on the mistakes. Instead I’m going to focus on the consistency and keep going.
Workouts: 22 of 22
Clean diet days: 14 of 15
Days with no alcohol: 1
Goal is to abstain from alcohol until Oct 27 when I have a special occasion.
Chen is the Chief Nutrition Dude at Kenzai.
Chen decides our dietary fates during training season.
Chen is mean.*
On Sunday, Ed made a beautiful batch of homemade, Kenzai-klean, marinara sauce using early girl tomatoes from the farmers' market (see pic of pretty tomatoes).
Ed had visions of great pasta dinners with just 75g of whole wheat spaghetti, and cheating with a little bit of goat cheese.
Chen had other ideas.
Chen looked at Ed’s love handles in his baseline photo and declared, “Oh my, Ed had a great time in Hawaii this summer, didn’t he? I hope he enjoyed those days of chicken katsu and nights of mango mai tais. Because now Ed is in program and Chen is in charge.”
Ed said, “I’m comfortable with my curves.”
Chen said, “Not on my watch.”
Ed said, “But I’m going to…”
Chen said, “Shut up and eat egg whites.”
Chen crushes dreams.
Ed shut up. Ed is eating egg whites doused with early girl marina sauce. There is no cheating goat cheese. Ed does not like Chen.
At least not until Day 90 final pic. Then Chen is Ed’s best friend.
*In truth, Ed has met Chen and he’s really affable. We even ate pizza together. But he is a nutritional sadist.
Song of the week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAzTO8GMZhk
9 days without alcohol. This probably prompts me to write bitter blog posts.
Ok it’s not a real PR. But I did the most pull-ups I’ve done in at least 3 years. I’ve been maxing it at 3 for awhile. Last week I got to 5. Today - 6!
I’ve been putting in effort for the last couple months. It’s nice to see it pay off. My goal is to get to 10 by year’s end.