This summer has been full of powerful experiences for me, and I've paired most of those experiences with indulgent food and drink. I feel the result of this in the curve of my belly and the tightness of my trousers. No regrets - there are times to fully enjoy life. It's now time to tighten my diet and stick to the Kenzai plan. I did a Sunday meal prep yesterday, so my refrigerator is brimming with veggies.
I'm enjoying the focus on mobility and flexibility, and also missing the more intense workouts of my regular regime. Pondering what my next program will be when Reach finishes. In the meantime, there is so much work to be done on my shoulder, hip, and hamstring flexibility.
Last week was in so many ways. It started off with visiting my cousin (Kenzai member) June L, who was housesitting for our friend (Kenzai member) Kit F, who has a lovely rural home in Sonoma County. As I've blogged, things have been stressful at work. Having a beautiful place to escape to was a magical healing balm - thank you Kit! My cousin is the best person I know at helping me see things, cheerleading me, and calling me out on my shit. Having her council was essential.
June is joining Kettle Bell tomorrow, so I brought my bells and did a workout with her in addition to doing Reach.
I won't pretend we avoided wine in wine country, but in general we ate clean meats and tons of veggies.
I've been hitting the exercises regularly, but my diet hasn't gone as planned. My resignation went public on Tuesday. Letting people know that I'm looking for a new thing has everyone asking me for drinks! I'm not sure my liver or my waistline can handle the transition.
This upcoming weekend, I'll be going on an annual trip with great friends. This is not a time to try to be restrained. Ugh - I should just plan another inch on the waist come a week from today.
First of all, those Cossack stretches are the worst physical activity I've ever done. They were so uncomfortable and I looked nothing like that damn flexible dude in the photo (hey Thomas). There was no way I could keep a flat foot and I had to grab two yoga blocks to hold onto because I couldn't put my hands on the floor. Anyways, I cursed and screamed through the minimum time on each side. Onward.
Progress: I can see progression in my downward dog. My recent (shirtless) downward dog is actually looking yoga-like compared to my curved shape from my assessment.
No progress: conversely, in the shoulder flexibility progression I seem to have gone backwards. Despite working on shoulder flexibility every day, my flexibility seems to have gotten worse.
I know that there are too many variables to assume that I have gotten better or worse in just two snapshots. But hopefully the downward dog trend continues and the shoulder flexibility trends the other way.
Despite my intentions, my diet hasn't been tight. Given the lower calorie burn in Reach, I've seen some weight gain over the past two weeks. In reaction to work stress, I've succumbed to afternoon sweets (yesterday, I went out and bought a cookie at 3. It was delicious. I never go out to buy cookies), and evening alcohol. If I want to maintain or lose body fat, I need to lock it down.
I do my morning stretches and yoga exercises at 6am before my kids wake up. If I'm lucky, I get through shivasana in silence and calm. These pictures show that plan doesn't always workout.
In my last post I mentioned that I've been going through some serious work stress and that has made the shivasana difficult and scary. For the last few sessions, I've embraced the scary and it has been pleasant. I'm often feeling optimistic, secure and resolved. Not always, but I don't spend a lot of time in negativity and I'm bouncing back to mental positivity fairly quickly. Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and suggestions - esp Randy and Kit who gently encouraged me to open up to the scary when it was time.
I'm going through a stressful period at work. I noticed that in my shivasana for the last two days, I can't stop my monkey mind from going to dark places. I've completed the Mind program and enjoyed it - so I have a sense of mental wanderings and strategies to bring myself back to focus. But I realize that I'm actually afraid of being alone with my thoughts right now. Being calm but focusing on movement and body awareness relieves my stress, but laying alone with my thoughts and feelings feels counter-productive and dangerous right now.
I've done enough Kenzai programs to know that embracing the uncomfortable will lead to good results. So I will continue the shivasanas - laying silently, focusing on breathing, and seeing what I have to learn from this process.
It's been about a six week break from Kenzai and it's been lovely. Half of that time has been a holiday in the Philippines - not much working out and a lot of high caloric food, so I'm ready to the focus of a program and some clean eating.
This is my second trip through Reach. Two years ago, I had a new baby, and I dropped the Kenzai program I was on and switched to Reach because I could do the workouts from my living room while the baby slept. I learned a lot about flexibility and mobility. I had been resistant to stretching for years and hated yoga even though my husband is a yoga instructor. While Reach isn't my favorite program, I can definitely feel the benefits and I think it's critical to add flexibility and joint work as I age.
My assessments below show that I have some decent movement ability but also that I have significant room for improvement.
I'm going to modify the program a bit this time to incorporate some other goals. I'm taking up swimming, so I will sub out the middle workout a couple times a week to do laps at the pool. I also want to work on my pistol squat - I've gotten close but haven't pulled it off yet. I know the active hamstring work will help here.
- Measurable improvement in my shoulder + hamstring flexibility
- Do the Shivasana every time (no rushing the finish)
- Be able to do at least one pistol squat on each side without assistance
- Lose one inch on the waistline
I'm excited to meet some new team members.
Bikini Ready! GRADUATION POST
Project Bikini Body is a phenomenal success. As you can see from my final photo, I'm feeling very bikini-ready and confident to be on the beaches of Palawan and Cebu in June.
There's still a month before we go, so I'm going to keep locked in on the diet with the exception of a couple planned indulgences coming up in late May and early June. I'm going to sneak into the end of the Beach Blast program for the next couple of weeks.
In my real pic below, you can see my progress from January when I was quite fluffy, to the end of Chisel in March, to the end of Kettle Bells now. That's been some consistent dedication, so I'm very proud of myself.
This was a really fun program and I would definitely do it again. I'm excited to try Kettle Bells 2 at some point this year. Thanks to my teammates for pushing me. For Kenzai regulars like Fish, Janet, Naoko, Cecilia, Meghan, Watson and now my cousin June for constantly popping on and encouraging me. Coach Jess - I swear I can feel your positivity and love flowing across the pond and continent and right into my heart - and sweat glands! Thanks for being such a joy to work with.
Whole30 report out - well I've been doing it for 2.5 weeks now because of a work challenge and an opportunity to experiment. The pluses are that I have continued to lose body fat, and that my energy levels have been consistent and high. I will say that without the grains, I get intense cravings for crap food - particularly sweet baked goods like doughnuts and cakes - that I never wanted before. After this experiment, I'll stick with the Kenzai diet approach, although know that Whole30 can be an effective tool for short, focused, fat loss.
My son had his first communion this weekend. As part of it, he had to do his first confession on Saturday - and believe me, that 8 year old has lots of material. AND speaking of confession...
I went through a really strange four-day period in which I refused to do the workouts. After loving this program for five weeks, sailing through it with high motivation, fidelity, and consistency - I just found myself hating the bells. My standard avoidance was to wake up on time, read blogs, check emails, realize it was past my time to get out and workout, make other excuses, and finally when I was way past time, I would say - well I don't have time for the four cycles, so I'll just go for a short, hard run. I did go running 2-3 miles all of these days and one day also did the Silver workout with Mom. I stayed tight on diet. I'm not feeling too bad because I know the whole secret of Kenzai is to stay tight on diet and move everyday. But the psychology of it is weird.
I was back on track this morning - did all four cycles and enjoyed feeling ridiculous doing the primal quadrupedal movements from Day 37 lesson. Clockwise from upper left; I'm a cat, I'm a bear, I do uneven push-ups, I buy healthy foods, I'm a silverback gorilla.
Pic below is my latest progress pic at my most truthful angle - 3/4. I'm feeling confident and beach ready. Project Bikini Body has been effective. These jeans are too loose now. I would like to lose a little more of the body fat in the lower abdomen and love handles. I have exactly one month to do this before the Philippines. I also realize that losing that last 2-5% body fat will be very difficult at my age. I'm going to go for it, but if doesn't happen, I'm feeling beach confident right now.
Just a few more days, K-bell soldiers. Keep on going.
My mom is doing Kenzai Silver. Give her some love - https://kenzai.me/shelleyc/blog
I did her workout with her on Sat (in addition to mine). We cracked up when it was time for pelvic pumps.
Final week of Kettle Bells - feeling strong and in the zone. Let's crush this.
I've been doing double unders all week to make the speed work interesting. 17 is my record. Often I trip as early as 1.
I've been consistently stretching on this program. This is very different from my first two years of Kenzai when I never stretched. But I made sure to do at least three of the post-workout stretches. This pic is one of my faves- the typists stretch. So good for those of us who spend too much time at a computer.
I had been really flowing in this program - nailing every exercise and staying on diet without much temptation or work. Unfortunately, my big indulgence last week threw me off a little and I've been cheating here and there throughout the week. Nothing major - but I know these ghost calories will slow my progress, especially in this homestretch. Time to hunker down.
On the Whole30 program, I'm not allowed grains. The last pic is my new version of avocado toast. Delicious.
There may have been a lot of wine.
Bestie Kenzai trainer Malia visited this weekend, which means I worked out hard and I indulged hard. The wine started at brunch and kept flowing through dinner. It was kind of a perfect day. Chisel workout (as you can see - we dare to frog walk and yahoo jump in public), followed by amazing brunch including this incredible grilled zucchini bread with whipped butter (that counts as breakfast veggies, right?), and sparking rose (which is a fruit snack, right?), then a bike ride through Golden Gate park that somehow ended at a wine bar. We made it home to scream at the television - cheering on the University of Hawaii men's volleyball team in the national championships (Malia knows the names of all the players - cougar much?). Unfortunately they lost but with a valiant effort. Then off to a fantastic dinner including my husband with - yep, more wine, amazing roast chicken and shoestring fries. If you're going to indulge, go hard, right?
Nursing a hangover now, but heading out with Malia for Sunday cardio run.
Back on track now - let's go hard these last two weeks.
We are halfway through Kettle Bells?! I feel like I'm just getting warmed-up. Although the jump to four cycles this week was a strong signal that shit got real. I'm generally feeling good, at ease, and flowing in this program. Compared to Chisel, I'm not sweating as much or running out of breath, so I feel like the cycles are harder there. Nonetheless, I'm enjoying throwing a canon ball around - esp the swing.
So a departure from program: a bunch of coworkers are engaging in a Whole30 challenge throughout the month of May and I've decided to join them. I researched the Whole30 diet and it's basically a Kenzai diet except ZERO grains, ZERO dairy, but one is allowed oils and nuts. There isn't amount restriction or gram measurement (which is obviously a problem from a results perspective), but I know my Kenzai portions well, so I'll eyeball things according to my Kenzai meals. From a trainer perspective, it's a good opportunity for me to test something out there that is popular right now. As an athlete, I'm not afraid of carbs, so I think the no grains policy is foolish, but it's just a month. I'll report back with thoughts and results throughout the month. Below is a pic of my Whole30 (also Kenzai kompliant) steak frites dinner. Fries were just potatoes cut into fry shape and then sauteed in avocado oil with spices.
5:01 Coffee, check email, wait to poop so I can workout
5:40 Success! Now head outside to do Kettle Bell workout
6:25 Head inside so husband can head out to workout
6:30 Meditate 10 mins (yes, my Mind practice is still going)
7:00 Make avocado toast with side of veggies, make breakfast for the baby, get myself dressed, get the baby dressed, wake the bigger one up, wake the bigger one up again, scream at the bigger one to get out of bed or bribe him that if he gets up and gets ready on his own he can watch one episode of Wild Kratts, feed the bigger one, get the bigger one dressed, my hair brushed, the bigger one's hair brushed, everyone's teeth brushed, yell "Okay everyone shoes on, we are out the door in 2 minutes, 10 minutes later yell, "why the hell aren't you ready we are supposed to out the door," kiss husband and bigger one goodbye for their walk to school, walk the baby to the nanny's house, kiss the baby good bye, get on the bus and head to work.
Today was the first really warm day of spring in San Francisco. So I busted out one of my favorite Kenzai recipes; S--- on Rice. It was actually salmon on quinoa. This "recipe" can be made with any protein, grain and combination of veggies. Because it's a great hot day dish, you don't even need to reheat veggies that are in the fridge. I roasted salmon, asparagus and broccoli and then brought out leftover quinoa, sweet potatoes, roasted onions, and spiral zucchini. Everyone decides what they want in their bowl, and then chooses spices and vinegars and decides how they want to flavor their bowl. Delicious, easy, and perfect for warm weather.
I'm loving the pace of the program - can't believe we are almost half way through. The workouts are getting a little longer now with the 5 min jumprope time per cycle. It's taking me about 40 mins plus stretches now. Some of my mid-section fluff has gone, so Project Bikini Body seems on track.
Two years ago, I was in a Kenzai Body 3 program and I got a call from a city social worker. "We have a six week old baby boy, his parents are terminating parental rights, oh - he's the biological brother of your son (adopted six years before)." We met him two days later, and that's the picture here. He moved in with us the week after and the adoption was complete in six months. I switched out of Body and into Reach because I could do all the exercises next to the baby. Trainer Kim Murch and my whole team were amazing supports during that process, and went gaga when I would post my weekly pics in a yoga pose carrying the baby.
Below is him now as a toddler, and with his big brother that he idolizes.
Ok - on to Kettle updates. I'm loving the workouts and they cycles. Last week I was away at a fellowship, where all meals were provided and wine with dinner. I did the workouts every day, and ate clean every meal (they provided steamed veggies with breakfast!) but also indulged in the wine every night. I told myself I would only drink two nights, and that was a best laid plan... you know how the story goes, alcohol is my achilles heel. This week has been much better on the diet front - totally clean, on program eating. I missed two workouts this week because of a crazy workload for both me and husband. That's really uncharacteristic for me, but I'm not worried - exercise is my jam and I've been back on it for the past two days.
Keep rockin' and rolling every body. Happy Easter to those who celebrate. It's a chance to have more egg whites. Stay away from that chocolate stuff.