This morning, I decided I would meditate right after getting up, and without getting out of bed. I know that can be a tricky practice because of the likelihood of falling back asleep. But I knew once I got to the living room there would be a thousand competing priorities. As I lied there breathing deep, my seven-year old walked into my room and crawled into bed with me. He's not a particularly affectionate kid- not really into snuggles, but I think he thought I was sleeping and so pushed himself right up against me and lay his head on my arm. I pulled him in and held him for the rest of the meditation and beyond. I don't think there was any best practice going on here, but damn if this wasn't the most fulfilling meditation I've ever done. I was definitely aware. I was definitely in the present.
Ok - my why - Meditation is something that I have played with on and off since high school. But I've never stuck with it. Unlike many of the physical practices that I've incorporated in my life, meditation hasn't been sticky. If there's any vehicle to get me to meditate - it's Kenzai. I trust the trainers, the community and the process. Kenzai has gotten me to eat veggies for breakfast, go into hard core training mode several times a year, warm up before exercise, stretch regularly, eat egg whites for dinner, do Yahoos jumps and the Creep in public. I'm also in a particularly stressful period right now - all career related, fortunately family and health are great, so having time to breath and be present, as well as staying focused on good nutrition and a little exercise every day will be important for me right now.
Be easy, y'all.
Okay, stop the thought chain by focusing on my breath. I got this. Here we go.
Inhale deep. Exhale 1. Inhale deep.
This is so boring. I’m bored. Oh -
Inhale deep –
but it’s good for you. Meditation is the kind of boy that you do take home to mama. It’s good for you. It’s handsome – I mean we all want to be calm and collected and fuck -
was that 4? I'll start over 1 – I mean it seems cool, shit Cecilia want to fucking levitate. That chick is crazy I love her I can’t believe we missed each other over the holidays – FUCK
Exhale (I should just start at 1 again) keep exhaling.
You know that metaphor of meditation being the kind of boy that you take home to mama would make a good blog. Maybe I should just follow that train of thought and then I’ll have something funny to write about. Because meditation seems cool and is pretty and is definitely good for you, but is sooooo boring, so it’s like I’d rather have a fling with a bad boy like what’s a good comparison – Chisel? Kettle Bells? No Chisel is definitely that bad boy of the Kenzai programs. Maybe that’s why I keep going back to it. But I also keep going back to meditation, I mean this must be the 9th time I’ve tried to start a meditation practice, but it’s so hard to maintain because while I like having meditated, I don’t like actually meditating and WHOA
what number is this I’ll start at one again whooooooooooooo
You know it would be cute if I did this blog from being inside the meditation instead of just making that cute-ish comparison as the kids say that would be so "meta" and also is there anything that says I can’t move while meditating because I feel like if I pulled my knees to my shoulders that would feel really good and isn’t yoga or tai chi just basically movement meditation? And HOLY SHIT my timer is going off already- WOW that was five minutes of meditation it went by so quick I'm so good at this and I’m going to feel so grounded today.
Iron Clad GRADUATION POST
My fourth 90 day program is complete.
Let's get some disappointments out of the way. Despite diligent effort, I didn't gain a lot of muscle. My measurement numbers show that I was basically the same size at the start and end of the program with the exception of a two inch drop in the waistline (yay!), and a small increase in the hips and thighs (squaaaaats!). You can see from the before and after pics I posted the musculature looks the same, although I definitely lost fat. I'm also disappointed with my diet effort. I had way more slip ups than I had planned, including basically a week of poor eating at Thanksgiving. I didn't meet my commitment to myself in this way. One thing I'm learning is that as I approach 50, my metabolism is unforgiving. So I either need to bring real austerity if I want to get killer results, or just be okay with cheating here and there and be ok with decent but not awesome outcomes. I want my abs back but I love chicken wings.
Okay, that's out of the way. I loved this program. I have to admit that I felt a bit cocky coming in to it because I've been lifting weights consistently for 28 years. So I was surprised a little bit almost every day when the amazing lessons taught me more about anatomy, physiology, how each exercise works what muscle, and proper form. I've been doing deadlifts wrong for a long time.
Results: even though I didn't stick to the diet all the time, I dropped 2.5 notches on my belt. I ate a lot of really healthy food and I mostly stayed away from the liquor which is my great achilles heal. I like how I look in the mirror. I'm feeling fit, svelt, strong and mobile. I'm definitely pleased with my progress with the weights. Although a shoulder injury a month in kept me from going heavy with all the exercises, I hit PRs in squats, deadlifts, and the one I was really gunning for - pull ups. My goal was to be able to do three sets of 10. At the beginning of the program I was maxing at 3. Now I'm amazed at how easy it is to whip out 10 - 12.
My post-program goal is to keep exercising hard during the holidays with a combination of Chisel workouts and Iron maintenance. Diet wise - I'm going to keep eating healthy but allow myself to enjoy various holiday festivities. I'm planning to try Mind early in the New Year.
Thanks teammates, especially to Burnsie who is constantly motivating and humorous. Thanks to the broader Kenzai fam that is always jumping in and supporting. Coach Matt - you are the best in the business. It's always a privilege to be in program with you.
All year long it’s been my goal to hit 3x10reps of pull-ups. I’ve been inching closer to it during this Iron program and doing at least four sets every workout. But I haven’t been able to get past 7 reps on the second set.
Today I smashed through it. 12 reps on the first set and then four more sets of 10. Feeling pretty proud today.
In other news, I went to the gym yesterday, got on the cross-trainer and the opened up my Kenzai lesson which said I should spend the entire day resting in preparation for this intense week. Oops.
Final week, let’s go team!
1. I made him his own breakfast it NO he wants Daddy’s avo toast, you know little man, I measure my breakfast to the gram and I do not like giving up the few carbs that I’m allotted, get your own damn toast.
2. Pull up PR!
3. the Nutcracker is the best named exercise of all time
Like you've never had that day where you drove to a meeting in Oakland, parked in a parking garage, went to a cafe for your meeting and ordered coffee and breakfast, then couldn't find your wallet, realized you left your wallet at home, and apologized to the person you were meeting with (first meeting) who graciously bought your coffee and breakfast. Oh then you went to your car and couldn't get it out because you didn't have money to pay the parking garage. So you took a Lyft home to San Francisco and got your wallet, then took a Lyft back to Oakland, except with the rain and traffic it took 1.5 hours to get there, just so you could get your car out of the garage and then drive back home. Finally in the evening, you put both kids in the tub, and the little one poops in the tub, requiring you to move both (screaming and laughing) kids to another tub to wash them thoroughly before you do a deep cleaning of the first tub. WHAT YOU'VE NEVER HAD THAT KIND OF DAY?!
But I got my workout in - albeit I went for a 30 minute run + 20 mins of stretching because I didn't have time for the full workout, and I stayed pretty close to my grams. So success! Success? Success. ish.
I have a question on form for the Good Morning exercise. My form feels very close to a deadlift, except I'm "bowing" a little more. Am I doing it right?
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.