Fat Kid Suit


14 Comments

Another go at Raw Foods-Who wants to join me?

What a wild ride this “personal transformation” thing has been!  Seriously crazy loco whipsaw carnival grade action that would make Ray Bradbury tingle…

One of the coolest things has been all the people reading the blog, cheering me on, and experimenting with raw foods themselves.  Thank you.

If you are new to this blog, let me bring you up to speed with a quick re-cap:

A personal “State of the Union.”

  • Just before Halloween ’09 I was deep down in the “pits.”  Drinking over 100 alcoholic beverages a week, eating with abandon, and totally sedentary; I was an emotional & physical wreck.
  • Life was terrible sleepless nights brought on by acid reflux and painfully debilitating symptoms from the beginnings of an inguinal hernia.
  • My sedation had also aggravated a serious motorcycle shoulder injury from the past–and my left arm dislocated sometimes just taking off my shirt.
  • Overall, I was feeling as despondent as my liver must have felt.

Grasping at Curly Straws

  • A few years ago, I had experimented with raw food eating, and had easily lost weight while experiencing insane energy and even outright euphoria.  I wondered if I could rescue my body from the abuse I was submitting it to, and somehow get out of the oppressive depression that had become my norm, just by eating raw…
  • I set my mind to a 60 day “challenge.”  The plan was to go cold-turkey on cooked food, alcohol, and caffeine.  I knew it was going to be an extremely rough transition and that I needed some kind of external accountability to stick to it.  So I started this blog–Fat Kid Suit–to both “keep me honest” and chronicle the experience.
  • In just 60 days I lost 34 lbs, my troubling acid reflux disappeared, and I literally was a different person–so much so that the local paper asked if they could feature my story!
  • One of the conditions I set for myself when committing to 100% raw for 2 months was that I didn’t have to exercise if I didn’t want to.  I knew that just changing my diet so severely was going to be enough of a battle–so I left the exercise resolutions totally out of it.  I figured that eventually I’d WANT to work out.  And that’s exactly what happened…

Epic Fail on a New Challenge

  • So after completing 60 days raw, I set my mind to a new challenge, “90 straight days of exercise.”  I decided that during this challenge, I’d focus on fitness more than diet, and continue to eat a lot of raw foods, but allow myself cooked meals made with natural ingredients (hormone/antibiotic/containment free meat & dairy, organic veggies/potatoes/and grains, etc.).
  • The results of the first 30 days were interesting, I only lost a few pounds, despite doing some form of intense exercise EVERY day.  All that hiking, biking, push-ups, and Bikram Yoga was building muscle and I felt REALLY good, but I was frequently bloated and “puffy.”  I’d lost that lean & mean feeling I was getting from raw food…or more specifically from NOT eating cooked foods…
  • Then disaster struck.  About half-way through the 90 day challenge the hernia symptoms came back (very painful & involving my right nut–aaargh).  Unfortunately, the only way to cope is to STOP all exercise and straining, apply a lot of ice to the affected areas, and pretty much lay down for days
  • My work (bartending) also really exacerbates the symptoms–my job involves TONS of lifting, straining, stooping, squatting, and twisting at a near reckless pace.
  • Needless to say my “90 day Natural Fitness Challenge” was over.

Now What?

The last month has been a massive bummer.  Coming to terms with my physical situation, suddenly going from very active to not at all, and doing that very human thing we call drowning our sorrows, has meant gaining a few pounds and finding myself sorta depressed again for the first time in months.

I have just come too far to give up now and I am forcing myself to look at the bright side of things and figure out a way to continue forward, even if at a reduced speed.

Living in a place with such fab weather makes staying “up” a LOT easier.  While many of you must wait several more months for summer, it’s already come to Palm Springs California.  We had the customary “bad” month of lower temps and showers, and now the weather has “popped” and it’s 70 degrees in the morning, and 80 degrees or higher in the afternoons.  The skies are crystal clear, with truly breathtaking vistas from the desert floor looking up at snow frosted mountain peaks.

I’ve decided to take advantage of the heat.  Eating raw feels so natural when it’s hot and sunny.  My focus this time around isn’t going to just be the scale.  I want to heal from the inside out, and hopefully avoid surgery.

If I didn’t have the limitations from the hernia and was able to do more resistance training; my ideal weight would be between 200 and 205 pounds.  But, since all I can do right now is take long walks, my goal is 190 to 195 pounds ( a less muscular version of me).  I’m guessing it will take 6-8 weeks of eating 100% raw to lose the remaining weight.

My feeling is that even if I do end up needing surgery, I will be so much happier to have dropped that weight BEFORE, and know that I will have an even speedier recovery.  I’m also going to do my best to slowly build my core abdominal strength back up (something that’s a lot easier to do without an extra 20 pounds of gut).

A Simpler, Streamlined Approach To Raw Eating…

Tomorrow I will post my new–super simplified–approach to raw!  A simple streamlined menu with a shopping list that doesn’t require ANY complicated meal prep.  If you have been wanting to try raw out for yourself, you may find this approach to be a great way to go for it!

simple as that

Advertisements


9 Comments

90 day Natural Fitness challenge: Day 25 DIET VS. EXERCISE

Assuming you are one of millions who struggle with staying lean and mean…which do you think is more important when it comes to keeping weight off…

Diet? Or exercise?

Most of you will now give the pat answer…BOTH!  While I know that both are extremely important to our health and well-being, especially in the long-term, I want to find out what you all truly believe about the impact of diet vs. exercise on your body fat levels.

Diet

Please keep in mind that when I use the word “diet” I almost never mean “dieting.”  When I say diet it isn’t simple calorie counting I am speaking of (how much you eat), instead I am talking about your diet (what you eat).

The reason I am curious about this is because I am now 25 days into my 90 straight days of exercise challenge and even though it feels great to be so active and using my body this way, the results don’t seem to be as dramatic as when I ate only raw foods.

When I ate only raw foods for 60 days, I did very little exercise.  I deliberately wanted to see what effects the food was having on me.  During those 60 days I felt firmer, and the scale testified with an astonishing 37 lbs lost in only 8 weeks!

Exercise

After completing my 60 day raw challenge I had so much new energy that it was becoming impossible NOT to exercise.  When I would go on a long slow hike I’d find myself wanting to break into a run.  That’s when I realized that I had never been a consistently physically active person, and wondered what it would be like to do some form of intense exercise every day…

The 90 day Natural Fitness challenge (aka 90 straight days of exercise) was born.

There is only one rule with my new challenge (which several others have joined me on); do some form of real exercise EVERY DAY for 90 days.  The idea is for it to be strenuous.  Ideally it will get you outside sometimes into nature.  And one day a week it should be light exercise, that way you can give your body a break but still maintain the habit of daily exercise.

This time around I didn’t want it to be about raw food.  Obviously, anyone putting themselves through the 90 day thing is concerned about their health and is doing everything they can to eat right, but I wanted to see what the effects of exercise were on my body…

What I eat now

If you are curious I will give you an idea of how I am currently eating:

  • A green drink every morning (usually citrus and spinach).
  • Snack on fresh fruit, coconut water, LARA bars, and occasionally raw nuts.
  • Some days I have a raw energy shake made with raw cacao, maca, coconut butter, banana, and raw honey.
  • Other days my afternoon snack or lunch will be hummus and blue corn chips, or raw corn chips w/ avocado and hot sauce.
  • I work at night and snack on tangerines, LARA bars, bananas…
  • I always have a very late dinner (which is supposed to be a No-No, but that’s how my life is right now).  I only cook vegetarian meals at home, and because my girlfriend is a celiac, I don’t use any gluten at home.  That means simple dinners like chili poured over baked potatoes, brown rice pasta topped with marinara sauce, quinoa tossed with pesto/sun-dried tomatoes/and raw goat cheese, nachos made with blue corn chips/organic cheese/pintos/fajita veggies/and pico de gallo, or oven roasted veggies & fingerling potatoes, etc.
  • Usually have a glass of red wine with dinner or a gluten-free beer (they actually taste pretty good and are made with fermented sorghum). I sometimes have a (as in one) cocktail when we eat out or I will make myself one at the bar where I work when it’s time for me to close up and clean the place.
  • We eat out 1-2 times per week and if I am somewhere that serves organic beef I might have a burger.  Otherwise it’s fish tacos, sushi, or a vegetarian meal.  I don’t eat meat or dairy out that isn’t sourced naturally (without antibiotics, hormones, and confinement), which is much harder to find then people realize, and which means I have meat about twice a month now.

So I think my diet is pretty healthy and clean.  Certainly much improved over how I ate before I undertook the raw food challenge (I binged on pizza, burgers, mexican food, and drank over 100 adult beverages per week). But I feel “soft”, and my weight loss has slowed since going off the 100% raw food diet.

I know that I am also gaining muscle (Bikram Yoga is a killer lower body workout–very ass rounding), I can see and feel the new lean mass.  But I just don’t have that firm/hard quality I was getting from eating all raw (even with almost NO exercise).

So which has more impact on you?

Some of my friends swear that without exercise they have zero self-control over their eating.  And others, say that if they aren’t watching what they eat, they don’t feel it’s worth exercising.  It seems that often one or the other is the anchor needed to live a healthier lifestyle.

For me, if I didn’t first clean up my diet, I would have never undertaken an exercise regimen and stuck with it. In fact it was important for me to have ZERO expectation regarding exercise when I started raw so that I could focus only on my diet!

I think food is more important and gives greater results in the short-term, and that exercise has a greater impact in the long run…what do you think?

Please comment and let me know what your experience is!

————————————————————————–

Today:

  • Making a big pot of homemade 3 bean chili. House smells great.
  • Will be doing some basic strength-training at home today; push-ups, curls, etc.
  • Started my day with my spinach drink.

Here’s some pics from yesterdays hike–we drove near Joshua Tree so we could play in the snow.


Leave a comment

90 day Natural Fitness Challenge: Day 12 Garlic knees & serial killers

Garlic Knees

Me pretending i didn't want to go to yoga this morning...

Due to scheduling difficulties [watching too many movies at the Film Festival] it has been nearly impossible for me to make it to Palm Desert for Bikram classes this past week.  So I was pumped to be able to go this morning, and even better got to take my friend Justin’s class for the first time!

Excitement unfortunately wasn’t enough to propel me through the 90 minute class; I hit a total wall before we even got to tree pose (there was still A LOT of class left, and zero energy in my tank).  Rough class.

My knees smelled like garlic–you spend a lot of time looking at and smelling your knees in yoga–and I was tempted to lick them for energy.

Today’s class reminded me how critical a regular yoga practice is if you want to make any kind of progress with flexibility and strength.  When I used to do Bikram regularly I found that it took about 3 classes every week to maintain whatever level I was at…and four or more classes per week to progress…

One or two classes a week (while sometimes that’s all I can do) can be frustrating.

I’ll be back in the heated room tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.  The super chill aspect to Bikram is that it doesn’t actually matter how “good” you do–the point IS to struggle–so it’s all good regardless.

Plus I got a “that’s a pretty good camel Ken” from Justin.  So there’s that.

Eating Is Confusing

My intention is to get back to a daily accounting of exactly what I eat.  Not because I haven’t been eating good, but because I need it as a tool to see what is working for me and what’s not.

Since ending my strictly 100% raw foods for 60 days thing I have not had ANY refined sugars, commercial meat or dairy, white processed flour, or any kind of fake foods (low-fat, non-fat, GMO, artificial sugars, fake meats, etc.).

What I have been eating is my citrus and green smoothie every day, fresh fruit, raw snacks like LARA bars, raw chocolate energy shakes, cold-pressed oils, hummus with blue corn chips, pasta made with brown rice that I toss with my raw pestos and tomato sauces, quinoa with lentils and roasted veggies, etc.

All that is fine & well.  My cravings are at bay.  My diet is pretty damn clean.  But…I don’t feel nearly as light and energetic as I did when I was 100% raw.

Another Raw Push & Beyond

not my girlfriend

Because my girlfriend is a gluten-free vegetarian and because we only have two nights a week we can eat together, I cook meals we can share on those nights.  The other nights I eat whatever is around when I get home from work.  Her diet works very well for her, but I suspect it isn’t what is best for me despite it’s being so healthy…

Like me, she eats a lot of greens and fresh fruits during the day (we both like that now and don’t feel the need any longer for traditional breakfasts and lunches) and then at night she eats a lot of grains, potatoes, grilled veggies, corn tortillas, legumes, and organic cheeses.  I love the way those foods taste, but they make me feel very soft.

When I was eating raw I had an intuitive flash that I didn’t want to be a vegetarian (many report the opposite epiphany).  My intuition tells me that the diet which fits my body best is almost all raw fruits and veggies, a little bit of raw nuts, seeds & raw goat cheese, with a serving of beef or fish a couple times a week. [I am now so picky about the meat/eggs/and dairy that I eat that it is difficult to find…]

Soon I will be setting aside two weeks to eat 100% raw beegan again, and during that time I will be seriously upping the number of yoga classes I attend.

After those two weeks are up I will be trying the above version of a high-raw diet vs. the one I do now that has a lot of vegetarian cooked foods…

If you are wondering why I don’t just eat 100% raw all the time and leave it at that, my simple answer is that I don’t want to.  I like to cook.  I like beans and rice.  I like melted cheese.  I just don’t need as much of it anymore and when I do eat those foods now, somewhere in the back of my head is an unshakable craving for an orange or a peach.  Often, after a cooked dinner, I immediately begin to imagine how good my morning green drink is going to be…

Tonight’s Movie…


Very excited about the film I will be seeing tonight at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.  It’s part of a trilogy about a serial killer, the series is called Red Riding. Tonight I will see film one: Red Riding 1974.

Day 12 Food & Exercise log:

  1. Quart of water on waking
  2. A coconut water before Bikram
  3. Another quart of water during Bikram
  4. A tropical tango smoothie after class (coconut water, coconut, papaya, pineapple, strawberry)
  5. Freshly made hummus from the health food store deli.  I add cold-pressed olive oil and roasted garlic…and eat it with “Sesame Blues” chips.
  6. Drank some water while I cut my Annie’s hair (I insist on being called Pedro while I cut hair).
  7. Will have a green drink (grapefruit/orange/spinach) before I go to the Film Fest.
  8. Will ride my bike to the theater and during the movie I will have a raw energy bar called ‘matcha’ from earthling organics..they taste like coconut graham crackers!
  9. I have a huge pot of veggies [brocc,leaks, garlic, red/blue/and yellow fingerling potatoes, carrots, asparagus, red onion, brussel sprouts] marinating in wine, olive oil, and herbs in the fridge.  I will oven roast them when I get home and we will have a huge veggie feast with some organic red wine from Trader Joe’s.
  10. Tomorrow is another Bikram class!


Leave a comment

90 Day Natural Fitness Challenge: Day 5 Meet some of the other “challengers!”

So far about a dozen people in the Twitter, Facebook, and blog world have told me they are on board with the 90 day challenge in one form or another.  Not sure how many will share their info and photos with me for this blog, but I’d like to feature as many people’s transformation stories here that I can!

I will start with  three people who I know well and who responded positively to the challenge immediately;  my aunt Carrie (she’s more like a big sister and only a few years older than me), my brother Mike, and my girlfriend Annie.

Carrie (In her own words)

I am turning 40 in about five months, and I want to feel the healthiest ever! Seriously…

I am as you know a mommy of two beautiful little ladies, and a stay home mommy and wife at that. I work my tail off and have always seemed to put myself last health wise.

I do the yo-yo diet thing, work out here and there, but since having our girls have not held to it as I did before. Clearly my fault, as I was thinking it was selfish of me to spend time taking care of me. NOW I view this far differently, and know the better healthier way to see this is to take care of myself, so I can take care of my family.

Keep in mind that while I admit to being overweight, I am muscular too from working out with weights.  I love LOVE working out, but as I said have felt guilt over it.  As you know it is very time consuming to do it all the right way.

I love being a mommy and a wife…

My goals are to lose inches, over all lose some pounds, and feel healthy. I want a clean diet and I want to learn how to stay off of this destructive yo-yo diet & working out thing I have done for the last 11 years since having my kiddos.

My plan is to work out with light weights and do high reps , with TONS of cardio, as much as I can possibly handle. I am doing a diet as of today that is known as the Sacred Heart Diet {it’s primarily a soup diet], which has worked before for me as a way to kick start weight loss.

I am open to doing the raw diet after I have time to gain enough insight to do it wisely AND I am open to any and all constructive advice you may have as time goes on. I want to complete this with a good success, so I can not only say I did it, but be able to see quality results.

I have also committed to absolutely no soda for the next 90 days, and and no fake sugars in my coffee, which is the only time I use them. I will drink it black for the next 90 days…

-Carrie

————————————————————————————-

Carrie forwarded me her starting stats including her weight and some measurements.  I told her I would keep those a secret until we complete the first 30 days together and have our first set of “after” pics to compare with the “before” pics none of us are dying to share just yet!

Thanks Carrie for writing this and I know you are going to have insane results and discover some cool new things about yourself now that you are open to giving yourself the attention you deserve!

More about Carrie in the weeks to come, for now you can find her on facebook.

————————————————————————————————

Annie

What can I say about Annie? She’s a funny girl who has a unique way of approaching everything.  And her diet is no exception.

Annie is a strict vegetarian who also eats no gluten or refined sugars.  She is one of the healthiest eaters I know, and one of the things I like best about her eating style is that she NEVER diets.

Annie teaches Bikram Yoga classes, practices Bikram herself everyday, and is a full time student.  Annie works, plays, and eats hard!

One thing Annie does most days is eat “raw until dinner.”

Each day starts with her massive signature smoothie and then she snacks throughout the day on mostly raw foods (we buy lots of LARA bars and tangerines).  She chows down on a big healthy vegetarian dinner (which I usually make) each night.  Usually it’s Mexican food or something like brown rice pasta with fresh pesto & tomatoes.

Tonight I’m experimenting and we are having a big pot of oven roasted veggies (potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, leeks, carrots, and garlic bulbs) marinated in olive oil, herbs, organic red wine, sea salt and pepper.  The veggies will be the star of the show and will be served with a side of lentils cooked with red onion.

So why does Annie, who already eats extremely well and who exercises every day already, want to do the 90 day challenge?

Because that’s the kinda hairpin she is…

Actually Annie is challenging herself by adding a once per week grueling advanced yoga class to her existing daily exercise routine.  Once a week for 12 weeks she will be spending 4 hours total in a heated room attempting to learn poses that have strange names and make me wince just thinking about them.  I admire Annie for challenging herself this way because I happen to know she really dislikes these classes and is making a real sacrifice to do them.

I snapped some “before” pics of Annie attempting to do postures she now finds impossible, and at the end of the 12 weeks I’ll take some new pics so we can see how much further she can bend…

More about Annie later, she can also be found on facebook.

—————————————————————————————-

Mike

Mike says he wants to do this challenge because “it’s time.”  I feel you Mike.

Mike is frustrated with his low paying job (Mike drives a city bus), and tired of yo-yo dieting.

Mike and I have actually dieted together many times, one of the more famous attempts being when he and I ate only one bean burrito from El Poll Loco, and one 200 calorie “lean cuisine” TV dinner each night for several months.

Broke and living in Las Vegas together, we would get so hungry that all we could do was laugh. The one night each week we were allowed to “cheat” turned into these grotesque glutton fests.  We did lose a lot of weight…

Mike has always wanted to run in some kind of competitive amateur race or event.  His goal is to go from being overweight and totally sedentary to being able to run the distance of 10 miles at the end of the challenge.  My advice to Mike was to limit his running to no more than 4 days in the beginning and to spend the other 3 days doing resistance training, yoga, or cycling.  That way he will lower the risk of injury (running can be very hard on your body).

Mike eats pretty bad.  I say that with love as his brother.  He told me he is going to watch his overall calorie intake for the next 90 days while also making small incremental moves toward eating healthier.

Mike’s in search of a sustainable approach to food that will help him get off the diet merry-go-round for good.  He also wants to make being active integral to his new life.  My other suggestion to Mike was to keep it very simple, for example having a nutritious raw green smoothie for breakfast so he at least knows he’s getting a baseline of daily nutrients.

Mike is a huge music fan and travels the state to catch his favorite band Slightly Stoopid.  Mike has one of the funniest self-deprecating styles of humor i’ve ever encountered.  He and I both want to take some long-ass road trips in the near future…

More about Mike and his attempts to overhaul his life by taking control of diet & exercise in the weeks to come.  For now you can find him on facebook.

———————————————————————————

I will have Mike, Annie, and Carrie’s full stories to share with you in the weeks to come. Hopefully I will also have some other people willing to share their personal transformations with you as we go forward.  If you are curious read more about the 90 day Natural Fitness Challenge here.

What I did for my Day 5:

I am still suffering from this sudden-onset sinus infection and am trying a variety of natural remedies to get rid of it as fast as possible.  Fortunately I have tonight off from work.

  1. Slept in until noon–badly needed.
  2. Drank 16 0z. of water with 2 tbs of apple cider vinegar (purported to clear the sinuses).
  3. Drank a green drink made of fresh squeezed OJ and grapefruits blended with spinach.
  4. Drank another 16 0z. of water.
  5. Took a 45 min slow hike almost straight uphill–some pics below.  My goal for today was just to get my heart rate up, feel my legs burn a little, and get some clean fresh air.
  6. My post workout meal was my favorite raw dessert, a slice of cheesecake from Earth Cafe.  Raw/Gluten and Dairy Free/No refined sugar/OUTSTANDING!
  7. More water with ACV.
  8. Dinner will be the big oven roasted veggie feast I described and some lentils with red onion.  Trying to eat extra clean today in hopes it will help me get over this damn sinus thing.
  9. Tons of water with lemon juice to follow…

you have to park down the road and walk up the road to base of mountains...

great views of coachella valley below

god i wish annie would keep up with me 😉

your supposed to strike that pose on top the mountain...


4 Comments

90 Day Natural Fitness Challenge: Day 4 Exercise & other paradoxes…

If I had a religious bone in my body, I would think the devil was determined to see me fail in my personal challenge of 90 straight days of exercise.

The word prolapse is disgusting

The day before starting the challenge I slipped on some wet concrete (long story) and fell down some cement steps.  Crash landed on my back–barely avoiding a crushing skull impact.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that to keep my head from striking the steps I strained so hard in mid-air that I aggravated my lower left abdomen where I have had trouble in the recent past with the beginnings of a hernia, aka a “prolapse.”

It scared me because previously that lower ab pain & bulge meant almost 2 months of pain/discomfort/and limited movement.  It got so bad last time (hernias trigger giant swollen testes and all kinds of other fun n’ games) that I was pretty sure I would soon be laying on an operating table.

No joke, this is a painting on medieval hernia surgery!!!

What got the prolapse to go away?  The main aggravating factor of hernias is being fat.  Yep.  Like so many health conditions and even diseases, I had brought this on myself.  The hernia was one of the reasons I finally decided to do something about my un-health by eating only raw foods for 60 days.

So when I fell the other day and could feel within minutes that strain-pain coming bak I was angry and super disappointed.  I even e-mailed my brother and a few other people who were starting the 90 day natural fitness challenge with me, asking them if maybe it would be better that we start it a few weeks later…

The reason I did that was because exercise just makes the hernia thing worse!  Doesn’t that suck?  You’re fat and you have a frickin hernia because you’re fat, but if you exercise you make it worse!

Fortunately the strain ended up being a little milder this time and I started the challenge on schedule (with some misgivings) and am just being extra careful in certain yoga poses, and making sure I don’t lift anything in a foolish way.

Exercise is both stress and stress relief

Now, just 4 days into my 90 day challenge, I have a sinus infection.

Owner of one of the hardiest immune systems on the planet, I get sick once every two to three years. But, when that sickness comes in the form of a sinus infection Doctors shriek when they shove that scope-light  thing up into my snot caverns.  The last time I had a sinus infection (maybe 5 years ago) the Doctor said that he was just going to “skip the pussy antibiotics and go straight to the most hard-core one that we try not to use because if germs ever figure out how to get around this shit–mankind is totally fucked!”  Thanks doc.

Here’s why I think I got the sinus infection now.  I read somewhere that while exercise is clearly one of the best things we can do for our bodies, from a purely physiological level we still perceive it as plain ol’ stress.  That’s a funny paradox…exercise helps us deal with stress and even release it….but it itself is stress.

My theory is that exercise is especially stressful when you are out of shape and not used to doing it, and when you are already under a bunch of other kinds of stress (work/bills/family/being overweight).  So I started the year off with a bang and almost no sleep, but because of my commitment to the 90 day challenge, forced myself to get up each day and workout anyways.

Which is OK.

I’m going to pull out a quote that I hate to use, because people get all huffy about it, and because I hate using quotations. But if you “get it” I think you will appreciate how I’m using it, and know that I’m not being a dick when I include it here:

“Life is difficult. So what?” –M. Scott Peck

Peck wrote an uber non-fiction bestseller called The Road Less Traveled. The book opens with that stark statement followed by the question which at first glance seems to be shaped in the form of a challenge.

Here is how Peck goes on to explain his view of life and difficulty not only being inseparable, but why he sees no need for that to be the case…

“Life is difficult.  This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

So I’m going to apply that same way of thinking about life to exercise.  Yeah, it’s difficult, it’s stress, so what?

Also, know that I am not being cavalier about my health or yours.  If you read my descriptions of the 90 day challenge you will see I already talked in depth about the need each week for a “rest” day so that your body can repair and stabilize.  Remember, this challenge isn’t about the challenge anyways–it’s about you.  So as always, do what you know is right.  Just know, that that may not always be what’s easy.

What I did on Day 4 (Mon Jan 4)

  1. Drank a quart of water
  2. Had a tropical tango smoothie (mango/papaya/pineapple/coconut meat & water) 2 hours before Bikram
  3. Drank another quart of water during my 90 minute Bikram Yoga class
  4. Ate a wrap made with a brown rice tortilla, organic roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and balsamico.
  5. Before work I had homemade hummus with roasted garlic & olive oil & organic blue corn chips
  6. At work I drank another quart of water and ate a LARA bar
  7. After work I was starving and made some quick nachos with the blue corn chips, whole pinto beans, organic jalapeno jack cheese, and organic tomatillo salsa.
  8. I lay down on the couch with a glass of organic red wine to watch a movie (one of my favorites “Ronin”) and immediately passed out.


6 Comments

90 Day Natural Fitness Challenge: Day 3 What are the rules?

TONS of people are asking me how they can participate in the challenge!  But a couple questions  keep being asked.  Here’s the scoop!

What is “natural” fitness anyway?

Someone asked me yesterday what I mean by “natural fitness” challenge.

I struggled a bit with what to call this thing I’m trying to do, and settled on alternating between “90 straight days of exercise” & “90 day natural fitness challenge.”

Ninety straight days of exercise is pretty self-explanatory.  Most modern peeps don’t do some form of exercise every day.  Many haven’t exercised in 90 days!  So my plan is to get moving every day for three months.

The reason I chose to use the word natural in conjunction with fitness is that much of the fitness world has nothing to do with health.

Looking back…

In the eighties it was assumed the two words (health & fitness) were synonymous…

  • Remember when everyone was obsessed with eating low fat and sugar free?
  • Remember when endless cardio sessions and massive bowls of low fat pasta and bread were the hallmarks of health and fitness?
  • Not to mention the massive amounts of supplements people were taking!  Vitamins, minerals, protein powders, ginseng, memory aids, sleep aids, super dieters tea…
  • And the one that cracks me up the most is remembering how cool & “healthy” we thought we looked with a cold diet coke in our hand!

A lot of that mentality is still around, and most of it can be found in gyms.  Have you seen how massive some of the tubs of whey & soy protein powders are that they have for sale at gyms?  And yes, people are still popping creatine and testosterone pre-cursors like candy.

I did all that.  Years ago I completed a 12 week fitness challenge called “body for life” sponsored by EAS (a huge supplement company).  I looked damn good after that 12 weeks.  I also spent well over $1500 on body building supplements.  Including fat burners, creatine, whey, and HMB.  It was effective, but not necessarily about health.

2010 and beyond!

After eating only raw foods for the last two months of 2009–and losing over 33 pounds–I now have the motivation and desire to get incredibly fit! But I am not interested in anything other than a natural approach to doing so…

No way am I going to embrace an artificial, chemical, fear-based approach to fitness.  We all want to look great naked–no doubt about that–but NOT at the cost of our health.

I believe we can do both.  And I believe that journey will take people mostly out of the gym and into nature.  I think the fitness revolution of the coming decade will happen in yoga studios, in the ocean, and on mountain tops!

I think fitness can be the way we actively meditate, the way we give back to ourselves, and a way to share and connect with the people we are closest to.

What are the rules?

The next question I am being asked is, “so what are the rules of the 90 day challenge?”

Rules are a funny thing.  We need guidelines and even full-blown rules sometimes.  But for the most part they aren’t really the thing that’s important…it’s just that we feel uncomfortable without having them.

When people start eating raw as an example they are often hyper concerned with the “rules.”  Is tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) raw?  Can I eat these olives?  Is it ok to have a glass of wine on a raw diet?  After time you begin to realize that what you are after isn’t some prize, or to be able to label yourself a raw foodist, but health, energy, LIFE!

Food

I am very comfortable with how I eat now.  I did a ton of research and experimentation during my raw challenge and I believe I have found what is best for me:

  • 2/3 or more of my diet is raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • I do not eat refined sugars.  When I have “sweets” the sugar comes from dates, raw honey, agave, etc.
  • I literally almost never eat “white” processed flour, i.e., pasta, bagels, bread.
  • I avoid foods cooked in oil, while I liberally use cold-pressed oils and avocados in my daily intake.
  • I eat no artificial ANYTHING!  No artificial sweeteners or preservatives.  Nothing that says diet, sugar-free, low-fat.  None of that.  And that includes supposedly healthy processed soy products or other “fake” meats, etc.  I only eat real food.  If I have a veggie burger its made of veggies and legumes, not texturized soy protein isolates or seitan (wheat gluten).
  • Very rarely will I have beer or hard liquor.  I have 2-5 glasses of organic red wine a week.
  • I love raw superfoods like cacao (chocolate), maca, and spirulina–but they aren’t a huge part of my diet and I don’t spend a lot of money on them.
  • I eat very little meat or dairy, and when I do I am committed to only eating grain-fed, hormone/antibiotic/and confinement free beef, poultry, eggs, and dairy.
  • Most days start with a simple green smoothie followed by snacking on fresh fruit throughout the day.  Some days I make a cool raw dinner and have a 100% raw day.  Other days I make a healthy cooked meal or go out to one of few places I know I can purchase REAL food.
  • Greens are a BIG part of my intake each and every day.  I support local farmers and purchase most of my produce at my local farmers market.  Some of it is organic, all of it is at the very least pesticide-free.

Is this the only way to be healthy? Of course not.  Is this the right way for you to eat?  I have no idea.

This is just where I am at and I feel really good about it.  Maybe you will find these guidelines helpful.

I will say that I think most people will never really get the raw thing without committing to being 100% raw for a period of time (at least two weeks, and preferably a full month).

It is very empowering, illusion-shattering, and awareness-inducing to eat 100% raw for a time.  If you want to commit to it, get in touch with me and I will help you any way I can!

The bottom line though is this…in order to benefit from this 90 day natural fitness challenge you need to be eating what you consider to be a healthy, natural diet!

Exercise

The rules of the challenge are more clear cut when it comes to exercise–do it EVERY day!

A note about rest.  Rest is critical in order to “recover.”  Recovery is when your body repairs and grows new muscle.  So you need one day a week where you give yourself a break.  But that doesn’t mean you lay on the couch all day.  It just means you take a long walk and smell the roses, or ride your beach cruiser around the boardwalk.  Rest by moving.

The other six days show no mercy!  Seriously.  Six days a week of intense exercise.  It can be in a gym.  But it doesn’t have to be…

Maybe you have a favorite workout DVD you like to pop in.  Maybe you do Pilates or yoga (just make sure it is real hatha yoga and that it is intense).  Maybe you get up early and run/walk around a lake or hike straight up your favorite climb for 60-90 minutes.  Whatever it is–PUSH!  Really truly push and get your heart pounding and your ass shaking.

Thirty minutes of intense exercise is the BARE MINIMUM, and if you are only exercising 30 minutes you better be sweating like crazy after.  Most days you should be shooting for a solid hour of exertion.

If you are out of shape like I am, don’t use it as an excuse.  Instead take heart knowing that your fat ass will be easily taxed by almost any form of movement or resistance!  That’s right!  It’s actually easier for out of shape people to do this challenge!  Have you noticed I haven’t said one thing about how far you should run or bike?  This isn’t about distance if you are using this to get in shape.  This is about getting in shape.

The pose that eludes Annie...the Pigeon...LOL!

The people who have it toughest are those who are already fit but want to use the 90 day challenge as  a way to go further.

As an example my girlfriend, a Bikram Yoga teacher who already eats very healthily and exercises six to seven times a week, EVERY week, is doing the 90 day challenge along with me.

Her unique challenge involves attending a once weekly advanced Bikram class.  In addition to her daily exercise she is now going to once a week put herself through a 5  hour session of hellish and uber-intense advanced hot yoga.  A process that is an extreme physical and mental challenge.  Makes me feel like I’m getting away with something…

I think it will be fascinating to see what people come up with.  Maybe some snow-bound people will be cross country skiing, maybe there are people who are ready to train for their 1st triathlon or amateur mountain bike race…

So the bottom line is that in order to participate in this challenge you must commit to 90 straight days of exercise!  There are no make up days, this is meant to be tough.

So how do I start?

The rest of this is optional but highly recommended:

  1. Let me know what your start date is! I would love to stay in touch throughout the process and it will motivate me & others to know you are doing the challenge.
  2. Take before pics. Trust me, you will be glad you did.  Nothing is more motivating then comparing before and AFTER pics of yourself side by side!  If you are thrilled with your results and are open to it, I would love to post them on a blog and tell everyone about your personal experience with the 90 day challenge!
  3. Get an initial weight and any other measurement that you think are key: waist, dress size, bicep measurements, resting heart rate, blood pressure.  After you take these initial measurements DO NOT take them again for another 30 days!  Once every 30 days retake the measurements and record them.
  4. Tell other people. Let your Facebook, Twitter, and (gasp) even people you actually see in person each day know that you are doing this and you are pumped about it.  Feel free to include a link to my blog any time you like. Maybe you will get some 90 day workout partners!
  5. Write stuff down. Every single day record what you ate and what you did that qualifies as intense exercise.  I don’t know why writing stuff down makes such a big difference when it comes to accomplishing things–but it does.  That’s the whole reason behind this blog…it’s a way for me to write it down.
  6. Enjoy yourself and be your own best friend. This is about feeling healthier, looking great, and enjoying life.  It’s tough to enjoy life if you don’t like yourself.  So be a true friend and thank yourself at least as hard as you are pushing yourself!  It’s not the 90 day challenge that actually matters, so don’t ever get discouraged.  What matters is you!

I truly hope this is something that will continue to spread and benefit people.  It may seem far-fetched, but I truly believe that anyone can completely reinvent themselves in just 12 weeks!  It’s one of the coolest things about being human, this capacity we each have to change…

——————————————————————————————–

What I did on my 3rd day of the challenge:

  1. Slept in and missed my chance to do Bikram today.
  2. Drank 3 glasses of water.
  3. Juiced 2 grapefruits & 2 oranges.  Blended w/ spinach & spirulina for a green breakfast.
  4. Road my bike and did errands (including buying tickets for Palm Springs Film Festival screenings!).
  5. Did an hour long “training” ride on my fixed gear bike.  Fixed gears only have one speed, are geared pretty high, and don’t “coast.”  That means if I ride for an hour I am literally pedaling for an hour.  I like to find hills and race up them until my heart feels like it will explode, then ride steady until I am breathing normal again, and then repeat over and over for an hour or more.
  6. Drank 2 glasses of water.
  7. RAW superfood energy chocolate shake:  almond butter, maca powder, cacao powder, cacao nibs, raw honey, and raw hemp seeds (great protein) all belended with some water and ice! Delicious, full of antioxidants, and gives me tons of energy.
  8. Snacked on a couple tangerines at work and probably drank another quart or more of water.
  9. Tossed brown rice noodles with homemade pesto (raw walnuts/basil/cold-pressed olive oil/garlic cloves/sea salt/lemon squeeze), some diced fresh tomato, and some raw goats milk cheese.  Enjoyed with a glass of organic wine.
  10. Drinking more water as I type this before bed.  I may sneak in another one of those Uli Mana raw chocolate truffles!

Tomorrow I am taking Annie’s Bikram class fershizzel my wizzles!

Cheers to everyone and I look forward to hearing about your 90 day challenges!


3 Comments

90 day natural fitness challenge: Day 2…Beginner Bikram lessons learned

Insomnia has been a painful issue with me for some time now.  I’m hoping that 90 straight days of exercise will help me fall asleep earlier and that I can experience deep rest.  Deepak Chopra says that dynamic activity begets deep rest which begets dynamic activity…

So this morning I crawled in bed at 3AM and lay there unable to fall asleep until about 4:30AM.  It was real TOUGH to get my ass up at 9 for yoga.  But that’s the great thing about a commitment to something bigger–like the 90 day challenge–I got up.

And I am really glad I did.  I was able to take Damon’s class (he is one of the owner’s of Bikram Yoga Palm Desert) for the first time.  Damon is hilarious and his class is fun while still being focused on max exertion.  When I used to practice on a regular basis I was always blown away when I learned something entirely new.  Today Damon taught me two things in class that I had never heard before:

  • In the balancing stick posture Damon actually did a breath count with us!  I’ve heard teachers simply say to make sure you breathe in this posture, but he literally guided us through 3 or 4 deep inhalations and exhalations.  It changed my entire perspective of this posture and what I could potentially do with it as I progress.

The man and the pose...Damon doing balancing stick pose

  • The other thing he said which blew me away has to do with a pose that’s almost at the end of class and that in the past I always payed little attention to and sort of treated like a “cool down” stretch.  It’s called janushirasana with paschimottanasana or “head to knee pose.”  But the last part of this poses name is “intense stretching posture.”  I had NEVER heard that before and a light bulb went on and I did stretch more “intensely” and it was amazing!  So thanks Damon.

The other thing I love about being a beginner with Bikram is that it’s actually easier as a beginner.  Sounds weird, but when you are new, just trying to breathe and stay in the heated room is an intense workout.  You get a little better and just doing all the postures is a big thing.  When I practiced every day and got a little more proficient is when it got really difficult.  Suddenly I was flooded with nuances that make the practice even more hard core.  So I’m going to relish being a beginner again!!!

One last observation about Bikram has to do with listening.  We all suck at it.  Seriously.  And Bikram is this place where you can practice listening, not just to the instructors voice, but your body too.

Today is a 100% raw food day for me

My plan is to continue eating a ton of raw fruits and veggies every day.  But several times a week I will eat 100% raw for the entire day.  It’s such a powerful way to not let food cravings get out of hand and I have a lot more energy when I go all the way…

Today so far:

  • Quart of water before yoga
  • Coconut water before yoga (only thing I like having before a Bikram class, a little natural sugar & tons of electrolytes)
  • Another quart of water during class
  • Shopped at Farmer’s Market
  • Made a delicious smoothie: Juice from 2 grapefruits & 2 oranges.  1 cup frozen blueberries.  Packed the remaining space in the blender w/ organic spinach.  Blended and drank down this perfectly flavor balanced combo!
  • A tropical tango smoothie from Luscious Lorraine’s Juice Bar in Palm Desert.  It’s packed with coconut water & coconut meat and tropical fruits!
  • Tonight when I get back from a late night working at the bar I will make raw nachos.  I top Leaf Organics  raw corn chips with heaps of fresh guacamole, cut up black olives, cilantro, and my favorite raw hot sauce made by Cafe Gratitude which I bought extra bottles of last time I was up in the Bay Area!
  • And then for desert I will have Uli Mana’s raw chocolate truffles with a glass of organic red wine!

I’m not sure yet what I will do tomorrow for the fitness part of this challenge.  But I’m looking forward to putting my body to work again tomorrow.

Cheers! And I hope you are enjoying this long New Years weekend.