Despite my bitching and moaning I actually really liked my first six week challenge. With that one now in the books it’s time to look into doing another one. It’s not going to look drastically different than the first, but some of the parameters are going to be refined.
The overall goal of this challenge is to continue the health progress I made in the first challenge. I may have made some strides over the past six weeks, strides that I’m proud of, but I still have more progress. I therefore want to continue to improve my body composition, my cardiovascular health, and my flexibility. The main components of doing that are essentially the same but the grading parameters of each may change a little bit to accommodate lessons learned.
Goal #1: Diet
The six week 100% strict nutritarian challenge is over with. Even “by the book” up to 10% of calories can come from some foods on the “not so great list.” That would be things like animal products, refined oils, bread products, et cetera. I don’t intend to necessarily do that every single meal of every single day, but it will be nice to be able to flex a little bit. My breakfast of melon or vegetables will stay the same. I no longer really feel the need to add cheese to my burrito bowls. But if I happen to be in Wegmans during their craft cheese festival, like yesterday, it would be nice to sample some of their wares. If I’m eating some sushi, I’ll still be getting tons of veggie rolls, but that bit of salmon or clam will be a nice sidecar too.
Besides the 10% rule, I’m also invoking free days. Free days are a technique I picked up from the “Body For Life” program years ago. It’s always possible to hold off on eating anything for six or less days. On that one day a week I would eat literally whatever I wanted, which was often eating down the list of things I had skipped on at some point during the week. A not-so-uncommon day would have me starting off breakfast with a slice of cheesecake. Lunch would maybe be a pizza; not a slice of pizza, a whole 12-14" pizza, or maybe a huge hoagie. Dinner might be some fried something or another, or something else fattening. Under the Body for Life plan you got one of those a week, I’m going to do it a little bit differently.
My free day plan is to start off with up to four free days a month. That may work out to be about one a week, but I now have the option of doubling up two if a week is stocked full of events that I really want to let loose at. Besides standard free days, I’m also relaxing the diet rules on vacation. There is a bit of a difference there though. A free day is a total free for all, see my particular example. On vacation I’m going to try to eat meals as nutrient rich and healthy as possible but I’m not going to skip off indulgences if they are worth it. Fries with a hamburger for lunch wouldn’t cut it. A local delicacy that happens to be deep fried and full of ground up meat? That’s going to be added to the list. Dessert at dinner would probably be added too, if they have really good options, but double helpings of doughnuts at breakfast are still a non-starter.
Goal #2: 7+ Hours of Sleep
The seven hours of sleep thing is a really good target for me. Even without caffeine I was able to feel energized on seven hours of sleep. This one is going to stay exactly where it is.
Goal #3: 10K Steps and/or Exercise
This goal in the last challenge was 10,000 steps a day. That is a great baseline, but that specific goal lead to some degenerate cases. Why do I care about just walking? It’s about getting my butt moving. This goal therefore is to get at least 10,000 steps a day or an exercise equivalent. What is an exercise equivalent? It takes about 45-60 minutes of moderately rigorous running to get to 10,000 steps. Therefore if I don’t hit 10,000 steps on a day I need to make up the difference with other kinds of rigorous exercises. The conversion is something about 30 minutes per 5000 steps. So, if I had a really bad day of only 2000 steps, I need to do 45 minutes to hit my goal. If I had a good day of 7000, I really only need 15-20 minutes.
Goal #4: 15 Minutes of Yoga A Day
You’d think with how limber and easy moving yoga makes me feel that I wouldn’t need a goal to do it for just 15 minutes a day, yet here we are. I didn’t do a good job hitting this goal so I want to give this a try again at the same level. I’ll hopefully be able to ace it to challenge myself to go a little bit further the next challenge.
Goal #5: 5 Minutes Calisthenics
Again, five minutes a day is almost nothing. Actually it’s a lot better than nothing, but squeezing it in shouldn’t have been such a chore. It’s great for helping to build strength. Like with the yoga, I was hoping to be able to advance this but I didn’t even make the last goal. Maybe some more weeks of adapting will make it happen.
Well, that’s all there is to it. Five relatively simple and straight forward goals to focus on for the next six weeks. Ready. Set. Go!