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Lifestyle Challenge: Is it the end or the beginning?

Well here we are at the end of Week 4 of Gain Strength and Conditioning’s Lifestyle Challenge. It was a four week challenge-so this could mean the end of tracking nutrition, sleep, hydration, mobility, training and device usage, sitting, eating, and meditating-or it could mean the beginning of some new habits that become part of your daily and weekly routine.

This month marks the one year anniversary of my blog: Zen Goals and Dreams-something I thought about creating for almost year as I decided to reflect and share my life changing journey toward becoming faster, stronger, more powerful, and more healthy in my mind and my body. The blog has been great because I no longer think about the “what ifs” and “whys” for very long. I can get it all out there and move on. The blog is my way of questioning and trying to make sense of things, and then letting things go.It has been a great lifestyle change for me in the last year, and it is something that has stuck. It is part of my routine. I don’t worry about when I write or how much I write- I simply write when I have something to say.

The Gain Lifestyle Challenge was good for me because I thought I had things pretty much figured out, but paying more attention to just a few things for a couple weeks really had an impact on my fitness habits. And I am lumping nutrition, sleep, hydration, mobility and training into the “fitness” habits category. After a couple weeks of feeling hungry and tired, I decided to go back to tracking my food-my calories by carb, protein and fat-and I saw what I had suspected, that I had not been eating enough calories, and the calories I were eating were not doing me much good. Flash back to a year and a half ago when I added a protein drink and yogurt to my daily nutrition routine. My goal was always to get to 50% protein(which is pretty impossible), but in trying to achieve that I found I could get close to 30% of my diet being from protein, which was pretty good. And when my extra calories are coming from protein, good things start to happen.I sleep better and I have more energy to do more work. After 2 weeks of tracking my macros, I am happy to say that on this, the third weekend, I seem to have found a good nutritional balance. Like Oprah, I still eat bread occasionally, and have the glass or two of chardonnay on the weekend, and might have a chocolate dessert if I feel like it, because I know I have had my oatmeal, my yogurt, and as my husband would say, my “nuts and berries.” I will continue to keep track for a few more weeks or months because it reminds me to eat more-not less-of the foods I need to fuel my activity.

food

The Gain Lifestyle Challenge also reminded me of why mobility is so important, and as Kelly Starrett advocates, “just 10 minutes a day, every day” can make a huge difference. After a couple weeks of trying different things on the daily mobility challenge, I decided to take a week and focus on my upper back and shoulders to see if I could improve my push press overhead finish. During the week it didn’t seem like anything dramatic was happening, but after a week of mobility work on that specific movement, the result was amazing!

smallchange

Overall, the 4 week challenge really reminded me that change does not happen overnight, and you can’t expect dramatic results in all areas of your life in 4 weeks. Consistent work, even with life’s ups and downs, leads to positive change and growth. I am not a patient person and I like to see results. It is sometimes difficult for me to show up at the gym and lift the same weights, and do the same work week after week. But I am starting to get it. Change does not happen over night, and if you stick with it and trust in the process, over time you will see the results you are looking for, and then some. And if you don’t yet know what the possibilities are, then don’t limit yourself. Keep showing up and doing the work. Another analogy my coach shared with me that makes a whole lot of sense is to think of the work as shoveling dirt:

Some days you can move a whole lot of dirt, and other days you can only move a small amount. But you’re still moving the dirt.”~Justin

This is what keeps me showing up and doing the work.

Yesterday I was cleaning up and putting things away and came across my wedding gown. My daughter is getting married this summer and a few weeks ago she wanted to try it on. I picked it up and thought, “I wonder if I can fit into this?” Since no one  was around to see if I got stuck in it, I decided to give it a go. After 35 (and a half) years, the dress still fits -or I should say, it fits again. I took a picture because I often wish I had taken more pictures to document my journey; so here it is, untouched, un-photoshopped, in a messy spare bedroom:

wedding

That is what being consistent for 4 years will do. That’s only 208 weeks. If you are active 5 days a week, that is 1040 days. Three days a week is 624 days, and twice a week is only 416 days. One day a week is where you start.

 

 

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