another warm and sunny sunday is here, another great time to sit down and describe things that have been going on during the ninth week of the 100 days body and mind fitness challenge. new thinking patterns as well as a few problems have been observed during these days. all of them will be covered here.
psychology: what’s new?
since it has been quite a while, it is possible to observe different thinking patterns and different timing they appear. the challenge now is far away from these first exciting days when one feels as light and fit as a feather and as motivated as no one else in this world. also there have been times of calmness, feeling of difficult routine turning into a common thing and so on. however, the week number nine brings me some new old things which are not the most pleasurable and processes in the mind which are not the healthiest, easiest to go through and perceive.
1. structure and concentration
i am losing it.
as simple as that. during weeks 4 to 6 it felt as if the building of mess and obscurity has been completely demolished, area under it has been arranged and a new fresh blooming and colourful park with structured trees and flowers representing calmness and new lifestyle has been planted. speaking simply i thought that i have completely got rid of being confused and developed a new self disciplined way of living where one just goes towards the goal, minimises all distractions and knows what is the best way to act. in addition to that, not only knows, but also acts accordingly which seems to actually be the hardest part.
i do not know why but recently it has become so hard to concentrate and focus on doing some action that requires patience. for example during long jogs i keep checking the app to retrieve information about distance that has been covered and that is still waiting ahead. i keep checking the pace and thinking whether it increases, decreases or remains more or less constant. it feels like i am a little child in a huge room. the room has colourful walls with pictures and a pile of toys on the floor. the child cannot concentrate on playing with one toy for a minute before turning the head in all directions and reaching for another as soon as the first one starts requiring some careful attention. i keep checking my social media accounts. in general it has become difficult to just sit down, grab some action, calm down and perform it.
this appears at its best when the daily routine has to be set up. i know that in order to be well rested after waking up at 4 am one has to go to bed at an early hour. i do also know that in order to increase the quality of sleep one has to avoid all kinds of distractions from screens. this works not only as an artificial source of light omitting the thought of staying active directly to my brain but also in even more distracting way. this can be compared to the process when the water in a lake is clear and calm. suddenly the big foot of social media starts jumping in and out of that and turns the calm water into a muddy dark brown chaotically moving substance. and then the process of falling asleep suddenly is prolonged, time is wasted and as a result less rest is taken. i noticed that such behaviour of spending time in social media before sleep can steal as much as an hour of time before bed easily. and recently it has been so hard to avoid it.
and speaking generally it is not only a problem with social media. it has become a problem with many areas in my everyday life recently. less concentration, more confusion, less work done, less calmness and more chaos. it has been much better a few weeks ago.
i think that it is relevant to many people out there. it is so easy to become distracted.
2. destruction of old harmful habits
there have been times during the 100 days challenge (probably weeks 2 to 6 or 7) when i thought that all old harmful habits of my life have been successfully eradicated together with roots. i felt so happy about that. this involves the binge eating thing, extremely frequent consumption of coffee, smoking and other things. it has been more than a year since i have smoked the last time, it has been almost three months since i had my last cup of sugar free black strong coffee and it has been 9 weeks since i last time binged on sugar or junk food. i used to think that i have once and for all times removed all these harmful habits and finally i am completely free of and do not depend on them.
however, the week 9 showed i was wrong. during this week to my great surprise i caught myself thinking about coffee and cigarettes so many times. also about eating sweet stuff. on friday i was almost on my way to the coffee machine and then vending machine afterwards to buy some sweet stuff. despite all that hard work that has been done during first 9 weeks. i do understand that one cup of coffee does not hurt as well as one piece of chocolate does nothing wrong for the human body. however what i am greatly concerned about is the appearance of some huge urge or craving towards all these activities. i wanted to binge on sweet stuff so much. i did not want to eat a chocolate bar and be happy about that. no, i wanted to eat all of them and then reach for another source. this tremendous crave for binging has been gone for so long and however after almost 10 weeks it suddenly appears again.
therefore now i can clearly say that despite not showing up all these bad things are still somewhere in a dark corner of my mind. i wonder if it is possible to completely get rid of them in the future. and i am afraid that actually it is not.
nutrition: do we really need that much protein?
actually there has been so much going on under the nutrition heading the last week. let me start from the relatively worse and describe a few certain eating patterns that have (re)appeared during days 57 – 63.
1. a slight loss of control
i have forbidden all sweet stuff from the diet. all of it. and during the ninth week i have found a non guilty substitute. almighty protein bar. costs as much as 6 usual snickers bars, full of sweeteners and protein, no sugar.
i started consuming them as monkeys consume bananas in all these cartoons. expenses sky rocketed together with daily consumption of protein. every time i had a cup of tea at work i bought a protein bar at the office vending machine. such behaviour started to evoke all these crazy cravings for chocolate that i possessed before the decision to start this challenge. it has become so hard to stay away from over eating. i have started eating too much of the good food as well. by saying that i mean almonds, other nuts, bananas, watermelons and so on. the exactly same tremendous crave to turn my stomach into a black hole which sucks everything that is around it has appeared again. this is what i referred to being worse. therefore, some actions should be taken in order to avoid this. i should decrease the amount of protein bars consumed.
2. confusion regarding consumption of protein
another thing which does not leave me in peace is the following question: what is the actual need for protein of a human being? more accurately, of a human being possessing qualities similar to these of mine. as mentioned above, my protein consumption has increased significantly. i started investigating what is happening with the human body when he or she eats too much food containing the latter macronutrient.
i have always been fluctuating between two ways of thinking.
the first one is a nutrition pattern of a caveman. it is just a synthesis of intermittent fasting and some kind of a keto diet. basically one just starves until catches a huge animal. then eats a pile of meat. and then repeats. in such case the person consumes enormous amounts of fats and protein with a very small fraction of carbohydrates, if any.
the second pattern is the modern man nutrition habits. by saying that i mean that carbohydrates seem to be the most convenient way for a human being to get the energy. and here come all kinds of grains, fruit and other great sources of carbohydrates.
the great question is: which way is the better one for a human being?
is it more beneficial to our bodies to eat the way our ancestors had been eating or should we concentrate more on healthy fats and carbohydrates and get just a small fraction of daily calories from protein?
due to appearance of the above mentioned questions i decided to change my approach to protein consumption. currently i have been eating a lot of eggs, poultry, greek yoghurt, protein bars (whey) and so on. the idea has always been to get at least 160g of protein daily (my current body mass is 83.5kg). now i am going to significantly decrease this amount. i will try to consume approximately 100g of protein daily and check whether it will make an impact to my physical performance and the overall wellbeing.
sports: avoiding stretching and getting ready for the marathon
as during the last week i have completely stopped stretching. as soon as i have felt very first benefits of this activity i have stopped doing that. all of it happened because of some strange feeling of laziness. this is also connected to the lack of structure in my daily routine. a few weeks ago i knew that every evening i would spend at least 30 minutes stretching. then i used to plan my day around this constant slot of time in my imaginary day calendar. however. now i usually do the time wasting activities and then after observing that there is no time left just go to bed. and spend another half an hour in the broad ocean of social media. how ironic.
besides that more rest is incorporated into my week now. i spent two days doing absolutely no physical activities. this is not because of some lack of structure. on the contrary, this has been planned already. a slightly decreasing weekly mileage is a common thing in a preparation for the marathon race phase. with three weeks being left from today i am going to run less and less each week. instead of 90 weekly kilometers i am going to cover approximately 50, 30 and 20 during three following weeks. i hope that by doing this the body will be fully rested and ready to cope with these 42,195 meters really well.
running has been improving gradually. it is so amazing to remember the very beginning when i used to run 10km sessions with average pace of 9 to 10km per hour. now i usually run at approximately 11 or even 12 and above km per hour with almost the same heart rate. of course the fact that i have lost approximately 6 kilograms since the first day of the challenge. therefore it is much easier to run now.
regarding gym activities, i have been there only once during the ninth week. by doing this i am trying to keep the strength up and also not to exhaust the body too much. it has been going really well recently with 3 weekly visits to the gym doing compound movements with quite high intensity. however during the marathon week i am going to exclude all these difficult squat and deadlift movements. let us see where it takes my body.
physiology: plateau caused by the lack of structure
as can be seen in the very last segment of this quite volatile graph, the dashed line of two weeks moving average seems to become horizontal or even inclined upwards. this is happening because of all issues described in the first part of this article. i have been eating too much. even of a good thing. oh well,
even eating too much broccoli will not let you to lose weight.
seems like this has to be kept in my mind. yes, the body requires a lot of energy when running. it also requires a lot of energy when performing heavy deadlifts, squats and other movements. however i have been providing it with some surplus. but i am not too concerned about this. i think that it is better to be on a plateau than to lose fat too quickly and in addition to that start losing the muscle tissue, strength and see signs of decreased physical performance.
however i am still planning to lose a few additional kilograms before the marathon race. it will let me run faster. it might be hard to implement in the reality because during the last week i should load glycogen stores as much as possible. therefore i will consume a lot of carbohydrate and fat rich foods. together with decreased physical activity and increased rest time this will increase the probability that during the last week not a single hundred grams of fat will be lost. however, there are a few weeks left still and the approximate body mass should become 80kg.
conclusion and lessons for the future
in conclusion i can sum up and write down a few lessons that the ninth week has taught me:
first of all in order to keep grinding towards the goal one has to remain as structured as possible.
secondly, never celebrate too early. it might look as if everything has completely changed and all bad old habits are removed. however sometimes they still appear in a dark corner of one’s mind and hit you when you are least prepared.
and last but not least – keep experimenting. think with your own head. try different patterns and ideas. in nutrition and fitness area – see how the body reacts, see what happens to the physical performance, i.e. if it suffers or increases. in general the same concept can be applied.
have a great week,