Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 3 - PCP redux

Well, folks -

After a great PCP, I've slipped off the wagon. I was hamstrung twice - once with my father dying three weeks after PCP ended, and twice with the development of Achilles tendinitis almost immediately after I started getting back on track (which, truthfully, I could have worked around. Equally truthfully, I didn't. Instead I sulked and overindulged)

While my Dad's death was not entirely unexpected, it also wasn't something I was (or even could have been) really prepared for, and it threw me off in ways I hadn't anticipated and in ways I wasn't even immediately fully aware of. I kept waiting to be in a good place to get back on top of things.

Eventually, it occurred to me that waiting to just arrive in that good place was going to be more like waiting for Godot than anything else; if I wanted that good place, I'd better suit up and hunt it down. Now that I've knocked out a couple of big personal things that took alot of time, energy, and anxious fretting, it's time to go hunting.

So I'm on day 3 of PCP redux - and feeling good about it, and better about life in general. Gotta love those endorphins!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 90 - Reflections and Rules for the Road

WOOT! Congratulations TEAM!!!!

Well, first off -

WOW, am I glad I did PCP. Thank you Patrick and Chen and my fellow PCPers for all your help and encouragement! It has been a fantastic experience that I fully expect to stay with me in the weeks, months, and years to come.

A little Backstory

I stumbled across The Peak Condition Project, Patrick's blog about his path to achieve Peak Condition a while ago. I no longer remember exactly when or how, but it was either at the tail end of his own project, or sometime when the first group of PCPers were going through the project. Something about the whole idea I found interesting, but it didn't occur to me that it was something I could do, or was really interested in doing. This is primarily because:

In 2007 I resolved to run a marathon. I did so to raise money for children orphaned by the AIDs epidemic in Africa, to (I hoped) lose some excess weight, and to finally do something I'd been meaning to do for years. I trained and ran that marathon. I raised a good amount of money, and finally did something I'd tried and failed to complete a few times before. I did not lose any weight - you can't run away from a bad diet, and (duh) running that many miles makes you more hungry so if you're diet is poor ... but while I'm proud of the fact that I trained and completed the marathon, it came with a price.

The biggest negative was that I very likely over-trained and was not motivated to do any sort of training for about a year afterward. (For those who think that maybe someday they'd like to finish one - watch this and remember that the bulk of the training is for the mind, not the body - and that's where I failed, pushing myself past what I was really willing to commit to).

So when I first stumbled on PCP, I was just beginning to come out of my burn-out. For some magic reason, every little while or so I would circle back and check out who was doing the project and see how they were doing. Kind of like a confused homing pigeon, I suppose. Last year I got back into running again, and ran a half-marathon and began to think that maybe, just maybe, I'd like a positive marathon running experience under my belt.

Late last year, I again revisited the PCPers - and this time the "Next PCP Begins in:" caught my attention and I began toying with the idea of actually being a part of PCP. I thought, if I was serious about getting my health and fitness back on track, then I couldn't just rely on doing it myself. I had to be willing to ask for help.

And this looked like the place for me to do it.

Two days before Christmas, I typed a shy email and quickly hit "send" and ... it was one of the best decisions I've made.

Hurrah! And thanks again to Patrick and Chen and my fellow PCPers!

Expectations and Surprises

I expected PCP would work. I expected that if nothing else, holding myself accountable to a team of other people would keep me in line and on a healthier path. I did not expect it to work so well or to suit me so well. I expected to lose some weight. I did not expect to lose more than 16 pounds and at least 2 pant sizes.

I expected the workouts to be hard. I can push myself to keep going, but I didn't think I could push myself past the hurt, or push myself to do all those icky strength-training exercises I didn't like. I did not expect to so swiftly adjust to doing the hard, or to actually enjoy strength-training.

I expected the diet to be really hard. I expected to have to give up treats like cheese, fried food, etc. I did not expect that I would so seldom be hungry. I did not expect that my more frequent complaint would be that there was TOO MUCH food. I expected to eat the obvious good-for-you foods such as complex carbohydrates and vegetables. (I'll confess I didn't expect to have to give up salt). I did not expect how quickly my palate would adjust to less salt and sugar in my food. I thought that I'd be craving the foods I was giving up the whole time. I did not expect to wander through a grocery store (I still can't figure out how to buy enough egg whites) the day before the end and TOTALLY NOT BE EXCITED. Celebratory post-PCP food binge? Not so much. Not really interested. Kinda of want a new toy - oh, wait, I have one - THE NEW ME.

I thought that I had anticipated the hard parts - But I did not anticipate the time commitment that was needed. Underestimate the exercise time a little, grossly underestimate the food prep time (and all the grocery shopping 'cause I still can't get it right), underestimate the blogging time. It was all time well spent - especially once I began to get the hang of preparing the bulk of my food on the weekends - but still unexpected.

I expected to slowly adapt to my adapting body - I didn't expect that I'd begin to marvel each day at what I can now do, and how I (don't) fit into my clothes. It's like I woke up and found myself in a brand new body and I'm delighted.

I did not expect the 90 days to go by so Gosh-Darned fast!

I thought I'd be excited for the end, instead of a little lost and wistful.

The Road Ahead

Unexpectedly enough, I'm going to miss PCP. Not so much the time commitment, but the camaraderie, the sure knowledge of what my workout and diet was going to be, the growing pleasure in the progress I've made.

I'm going to keep going with a little PCP on my own. For one thing, I'm a little shy of where I want to be. I'd really like to work on my pull-ups and dips so I can do them without a counter balance. That's just an itch I've got to scratch. And the whole bicycle thing ... I'd like to be able to do 6 reps of 60 seconds without having to stop midway through. And for another - it's finally sinking in that cross-training and strength-training will really help my running, so I want to continue to build on that.

But I'll (mainly) retire the jump rope and devote my time instead to running. Goodness, I miss the running.

Rules for the Road

Since I finally dipped into the PCP world after reading other PCPer's blogs, I thought I'd drop a few things that I learned from the experience in the hopes of helping a future PCPer. Here they are:

- chewy food is more satiating. If it's a choice of 100 grams of broccoli cooked al dente, or 100 grams of broccoli blended into a soup ... the first will sate you much more than the second. If it's a choice between 100 grams of soft white bread and 100 grams of chapati - the chapati will see you a whole lot further.

- using markers to count jump roping helps alot (sidewalk squares, for example). Counting jump roping bored me out of my gourd. Too bad it took me weeks to figure out that I could just count to 100 and the jump to the next sidewalk square so I wouldn't have mental thoughts like this: " 725, 726, oh ... wait.. was that really 725. Damn it. Need to be sure I'm not cheating. 625, 626 ...."

- That first photo might make you cringe, might later still make you cringe, but even though you didn't believe him when he told you you'd be glad you posted it, Patrick is right: it's lovely to be able to see your progress.

- Also in the theme of "Patrick was right and you were a doofus for doubting him" - a plastic jumprope is a million times easer to manage than a nylon woven one. A million.

- What you think is going to be hard may not be. For me, the diet wasn't hard (it helps that I love to cook and love vegetables). The exercises were (mostly) not that hard. Consistently putting aside the time to weigh and prepare the food and do the workout and blog ... that was hard. But committing to it gave me the results I wanted.

- It make life alot simpler to weigh out and package a weeks worth of meals over the weekend. It may not make for an adventurous week of meals - but food really shouldn't be an adventure at every meal. And have the time for other things is really nice.

- You might think you've prepared to commit. You are prepared to work out hard. You are prepared to let go of bad-for-you-foods... but have you considered if you are committed to the TIME it will take to do the workouts, stick to the diet, participate in the group, and figuring out how to fit PCP into your regular life? Just make sure.

- when you need new clothes - buy new clothes. You don't want your pants falling down at the wrong moment. Really, this is lesson you don't want to learn the hard way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 90 - The Workout

So Patrick unveiled our workout for our last (sniff) PCP day...

What a great idea - to go back to an early workout and repeat it. What a fantastic way to show us how far we've come.

I went back to day 1. HA! I could have done that workout in a ball gown - I didn't break a sweat, and finished it in just about 10 minutes! The jump rope sets? Did them all at once, not tripping once. The pushups? I remember how hard I had to struggle to not do them on my knees ... this time I didn't even get my heart rate up.

Wow! That does hammer the point home :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 89 - 1 more day.

Ok. Patrick told us to not psyche ourselves out, thinking about the workout.

But, for me, that's like waving a red flag and telling me not to look at it or telling an acrophobe not to look down.

So I freaked out a little. Which was probably a good thing, as I got up half an hour earlier to knock the workout out of the way. It was probably a mistake to do the back&chest exercises immediately before the abs - because those ab exercises were killer this morning. Then again, we've been doing them pretty consistently for a week, so maybe I've just been wearing my poor abs down.

It's a good thing I can't freak out about tomorrow's workout, which is still a mystery.

So I'll freak out about what I'll do the day AFTER tomorrow, when this little bird is pushed out of the nest and finds out if she can fly :)



Post PCP snack

egg white and milk


egg, egg white, broccoli, chapati
milky coffee

mid-morning snack

yogurt - late, not hungry


half a chapati
arugula salad with 1/3 my chicken and red bell pepper

not hungry to eat more. I may try to eat more later if my system decides more food is necessary.

mid-afternoon snack



Egg whites and mushrooms.

Evening Snack

strawberry milkshake

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 88 - 2 more days. Yikes!

Watching the end of PCP coming up so fast - it's exciting and scary! Obviously I'll be excited to cross the finish line, but I'm pretty sure that I'm going to miss the whole PCP thing and feel that I have another few weeks in me yet...

Doing planks and V-sits until failure is the fastest way I've found of feeling like a weakling. Oh boy. And it was harder today than it was two days ago, go figure. Doing the pull-ups and dips together makes sense, and I've done them together before when I knew there'd be issues getting to the gym (although then it was full reps of one and then full reps of the other) and it's fun to do something different.

Even if, all the time, a small part of my brain is worrying about the plank/v-sit torture still to come ...

I've definitely got to get to bed early tonight to prepare for tomorrow's workout. I felt fine this morning, but it tapped me out and now I'm fading and this morning's workout seems like a far, far distant memory.

It also looks like I'll be taping up my little toe for a month or so. Sigh. Poor baby toe. So badly abused. I can walk on it all right, but need to be wary of twisting motions, but I can't clench it without pain and it's slowly turning a deeper shade of purple ...

Not to gross anyone out - but do you know what lands today?
The KFC double-down "sandwich":I feel a little ill now ....

(Full disclosure - I've never cared for fast food and the last time I ate KFC was in spring 1994 so I'm naturally biased against it...)


Post PCP snack

egg white and milk


egg and egg white with broccoli rabe
saffron muffin

I am soooooooo full.

mid-morning snack

yogurt. not really hungry


chicken and arugula salad
saffron muffins

mid-afternoon snack



Egg whites with mushroom and avocado

Evening Snack

milk. egg white.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 87 - 3 more days!

I woke this morning ahead of my alarm, my eyes swollen and sealed shut and my head congested.

Grrr. Arrrrrrgh.

A part of me hopes that since my allergies are hitting me a full month early this year, they will also be over a month early.

But I'm terrified that it will actually mean that my allergies will be a month longer this year.


So I'd better prepare myself for being slightly under-rested and thick-headed for the next few months.

Whimper. On another whiny note - I stubbed my toe yesterday. My little one. The one (I think) I broke a couple of times back when I did Tang Soo Do. Hurts like hell everytime I stub it now. It felt ok when I got up this morning, but after the jump roping, floor jumps, and creep ... it was tender. I hope I haven't broken it again.

I made muffins this morning - the recipe seemed reasonably PCP - whole wheat and all-purpose flour, almonds, not too much sugar or fat: Lucia muffins from


You'll note that it calls for saffron. I'm not sure how critical this is. My Dad gave me some saffron that he'd bought in Jordan in 1998 (yeah, way back when... I'm not sure why he never used it. It's expensive, sure, but even more so if you don't use it while it's still useable..) that remarkably enough was still fragrant.

The muffins were divine, though. Barely sweet, nutty, and chewy.


Post PCP snack

egg white and yogurt


Egg and chapati

mid-morning snack



saffron muffin

mid-afternoon snack

milk - not hungry. couldn't face yogurt


Egg whites. No veggies. Not hungry

Evening Snack

none. Not hungry. Sleepy and going to bed

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 86 - Four more Days

Holy Crap Batman!

Today was a tough workout (TGI weekend!) and the plank-V-sit combo was killer! I'm pretty sure I had an out of body experience in the process ...


Post PCP snack

egg white and yogurt.

I don't know when I've enjoyed it more


egg and broccoli
wheat toast

mid-morning snack



chicken on whole wheat toast with a little avocado

The problem with this diet is that for lunch and later: AMAYW veggies usually means squat all. Too much protein and carbs ...

mid-afternoon snack



Egg whites and broccoli rabe

Evening Snack

Milk and strawberries. Egg white.

Strongly tempted to have a drink - but didn't.