Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Adrian: Day 97, I'm Back

I'm wondering if the other PCPer's have been keeping up with the diet and maintenance exercise plans, because I sure haven't. I just kind of threw it out the window after day 90. But after a week of vegging out, I realize that I'm not exactly feeling too good about not working out and not paying attention to what I eat. So I decided to get back on it. I did the short work-out tonight, and it was pretty easy. Though my strength has definitely declined a bit. Or maybe just my idea of how much pain I'm willing to tolerate. Anyway, I'm going to keep posting here in an effort to keep myself motivated, and to stick to regular exercise and a healthy diet for as long as I can. So check back here every now and then for sporadic updates on my progress and backsliding.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Emiko: Day 90, A Peek Back At Day 1

OH MY GOSH IT'S DAY 90!!! I cannot believe that this Project is officially over. Congratulations Tim, Amy, Nate, and Adrian and meee! BIG big thanks to Patrick and Chen for guiding us along through the process. WOW!

Patrick had mentioned once in an email, "Tell yourself that after your 90 days you can eat all the stuff you want for the rest of your life.  But not now.  (The magic is of course that after 90 days you have little inclination to eat all the stuff you want)." At the time I felt like this was a lie, because at the time all I could think about was how much I craved all the yummy food I used to eat.

Today Adrian and I decided to celebrate by eating out for lunch and dinner, and overall it was really tasty. We shared a turkey sandwich and spinach salad for lunch. The sandwich was awesome, and the salad would have been too if it weren't drenched in vinaigrette. For dinner we had curry and naan, and even a little ice cream for dessert (left-over from our first PCP indulgence). We went kind of crazy, but it is nice to have that freedom. But we also know now that many prepared meals are not as healthy as they should be, and don't agree with our stomachs anymore. We decided to eat out only every so often, and to get quality meals when we do. Mostly we will probably be eating what we have been eating, but without weighing it all on the kitchen scale. Well, maybe sometimes :)

Our special assignment for our last day was to go back to square one, and go through an old work-out routine from the first couple of weeks. I decided to go back to Day 1. I did 688 jump-ropes just like my first night. I also did 5x20 squats, 4x8 push-ups, and 4x15 crunches. The jump-ropes and crunches both felt pretty good, and gave me the same burn that they do nowadays as they are incorporated in our current work-outs. But the push-ups were SO EASY! Doing them on the floor – as opposed to elevating our feet like we do now – made the movement feel wimpy. I used to really struggle to do push-ups, especially at the beginning. Getting through them with such ease tonight was a little way of showing myself how far I've come.

Like Adrian, I plan to write a little more and to post some photos of my new muscles! But that will probably be in a couple days, I need to recover from all that curry...!

Adrian: Day 90, The End?

We've officially completed the PCP! Congratulations everyone! I hope everyone celebrates by having cake. Emiko and I had lunch at the same cafe we ate at right before we quit eating 'real world' food. We shared a turkey sandwich on wheat bread and a spinach, feta cheese, onion and tomato salad. The salad was drowned in oil and dressing. For dinner, we followed Tim's lead by eating out at an Indian Restaurant. We both had Chicken Tikka Masala and two kinds of naan - garlic and paneer (cheese). Afterward, we both felt pretty awful. It wasn't because of guilt though, we literally felt sick. And for desert we had some ice cream. I felt physically tired. (Has anyone else ever felt winded by desert or is it just me?) It hit me suddenly an hour after dinner - a heavy wave of fatigue. I had to stop what I was doing so that I could lie down on the couch and rest it out. This was a typical pre-PCP day for us, and I realize now that I really don't want to go back to eating that way. For the past few weeks I've been thinking "I can't wait until this is over so I can whatever I want to eat, whenever I feel like it." But right now, I just want to go back to the PCP diet. I guess I'm just used to it, and it feels natural. There are so many foods that I've eaten throughout this project that I enjoy so much. And I no longer need my food to be drenched in oil and salt. In fact, I find it disgusting. I love simple things like toasted wheat bread, oatmeal, granola, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, golden apples, and especially limes. Also, I'm not ready to go back to being sedentary. I plan on going for a jog tomorrow morning. I want to see if I can still run three miles straight, which is something I did a few times right before the PCP. This project has been fantastic and I couldn't have spent the past three months doing anything better with my time. Thank you everyone for the support! Thank you Patrick for turning us flabby weaklings into muscle-bound health nuts. I'll be making one last post, with before and after pictures, so check back here for that.

Good luck to everyone,

Adrian

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adrian & Emiko: Day 89, Gym Night

Early on in the PCP, we would do our jump ropes inside our apartment, but eventually our downstairs neighbor got sick of it and made us stop.  He also ended up giving us a couple of 2-week passes to 24 hour fitness.  We didn't think we'd ever use the passes, but Patrick gave us an assignment last week to visit a gym, so we finally used the passes tonight.  We went down to a small 24-hour fitness in Piedmont called "FitLite."  From the outside, all we could see were women on exercise bikes.  We were expecting to have a cushy, easy work-out, and maybe mess around with some of the equipment.  The place ended up exceeding our expectations, and we got a surprisingly good work-out.

Right when we entered the gym, a middle-aged woman with tattoos and piercings, greeted us.  Her name was Jade.  She explained that all the machines were part of an exercise circuit, and that she would be taking us through each machine.  The work-out was thirty minutes long, beginning with 10 minutes of cardio followed by one minute of constant reps on each machine.  A bell chimed on the intercom every minute to signal the switch to the next machine.  That bell was the only thing that interrupted the constant stream of techno music.  The machines alternated between resistance, abs, and cardio.  There were also a couple mat exercises.  We had to do the plank at one of the stations!  We were a bit wary about that, because we went through our ab workout today, but we got through it fine.  

There were a bunch of college aged people there, mostly women, and they were all in good shape. There were also a few older, out of shape people. There was one old woman in trousers who pedaled her bike in slow motion while falling asleep and listening to her walkman.  She kept nodding off, barely conscious.  There was one woman who was morbidly obese.  But the general population was in good shape.

Anyway, we got a surprising burn; Adrian started sweating right away. We both reached failure on some of the exercises.  Adrian reached failure on at least half of the machines, because Jade set the weight really high whenever it was his turn.   After the work-out, there was also a stretching circuit, and we went through a series of about 20 different stretches, which we would hold for ten seconds on each side.  All in all, it was a satisfying work-out, and a surprising gym experience.  

It's easier to push yourself to failure when you're around lots of other people.  You don't want to wimp out.  However, we don't plan on buying memberships because we still prefer working out at home.  We've got everything we need!  Each other.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Emiko: Day 88, I Like To Eat, Eat, Eat Apples and Bananas

A lot has changed in this last week! Our exercise routines are a different structure. We rotate between two workouts: a heavy routine focusing on complementary muscle-groups, and another that is shorter but more intensely focused on abs. The longer work-out is difficult and takes more time to complete than those in the past, but I think that I like it better. We used to focus on one muscle group at a time, trying to get a killer burn. Now we get to trade back and forth between muscle groups, and the burn feels different. The muscles get worked slowly, but eventually I can reach a really good burn. It's a cool change, and it feels nice to switch it up.

We also have new, bigger diets. I am finally back to eating "real dinner" rather than my old apple/banana/milk/egg-white combo. But, like Amy, I am surprised because after waiting for so long to have permission to eat "real dinner" again, I find that I don't really want to. Eating even my small portions of meat, carbs and vegetables feels kind of heavy for me. It's odd how fast things will turn around. I think that most of my cravings are now mental rather than a physical need for extra food. I think that I will return to my old dinner for my post-PCP diet.

Change, change, change! We also have a new President, which is really exciting and has returned some of my hope. We'll see what these next two, final PCP days bring. I can't believe that the Project will be over so soon!

Adrian: Day 88: Work-out Music

Wow, there are only two days left. Thank goodness! These past three months have simply disappeared, and I'm ready to go back to being fat and lazy. Not really, but I'm going to enjoy the break from the constant daily exercise. The exercises have gotten progressively more challenging since day one; some of them I can't even do (kung fu sit-ups). I plan to continue exercising regularly after day 90, but I'm definitely going to take it easy for a bit.

Something that has really helped me get through my work-outs has been music. Having a beat to follow makes jump-roping more enjoyable. There was one instance when focusing on the piano arpeggios in Fur Elise helped me through my planks. I remember how intensely I struggled to hold myself up until the end, and the only thing that kept me from caving and falling over was the melody. Anyway, there have been a few bands in particular that I've enjoyed listening to again and again during my work-outs, and I wanted to post some songs here for you all to check out and maybe sweat to.

Black Moth Super Rainbow
M83
Flying Lotus
Animal Collective
Casino vs. Japan

Friday, November 7, 2008

Adrian: Day 86

Emiko and I had a hard time getting to our workout tonight. We ended up wasting a couple hours on youtube just watching these incredible mash-up videos. Here are a couple of our favorites:

The Beatles vs. Radiohead vs. Pinocchio



Queen vs. Outkast

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Emiko: Day 85, Six-Pack Shmix-Pack

It feels like forever since I have written a post, and really– it has kind of been forever! I missed writing about such milestones as my third and final indulgence (delicious, I will post more tomorrow), my feelings about reaching Day 80, and so on. I will try to post every day from now on to bring all of my last thoughts together before we reach Day 90...just 5 days away!

Something that Patrick told me today when Adrian and I were chatting with him was that if I wanted to get a true, defined six-pack, I would have to follow the PCP regimen for another 90 days. That was a little shocking to hear, especially when we are on the cusp of finishing a long, very involved Project. But then I remembered that I never what I came into the Project wanting a six-pack. I wanted to change my ways, and shake myself out of a lazy lifestyle– looking better by losing fat and toning muscle was just a benefit of this change.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to make such a necessary change. I feel like my body and mind both had very warped levels of tolerance for foods. The PCP has allowed me to reset these levels– a sort of reboot. I feel like my body is on a much more natural level now, with a much healthier relationship to food.

So I may never have a six-pack, but who cares? I just want to be healthy and have energy. And now I those have things, and that's all I could really ask for. I'll still be doing 8-minute abs, though... I just love that guy!

Adrian: Day 85, Maintenance

Emiko and I had a chat on AIM with Patrick earlier. I asked about what we would have to do to stay in shape after the project was over. Patrick's answer was that we would have to stay on track with our diets and exercise, indefinitely.

He confirmed what I already knew. And that's a big question for me right now -- to be, or not to be, in PC? Will I be able to stick to it? I think so. This project has given me such a positive outlook on life, and an interest in health and fitness that I can't easily forget. And although I'm looking forward to beer and fried chicken, I'll always go back to my boiled eggs and granola the next morning.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Adrian: Day 80, Over-Indulgence

For my final indulgence, I had a fried chicken sandwich from Bakesale Betty's. It was totally drenched in oil, and totally amazing. I felt full after eating half of the sandwich, but I thought "Hey, I can't eat this tomorrow, I better eat all of it now!" And that wasn't all. I also had some cookies, a bottle of apple juice and a slice of Emiko's pizza. I think I may have tipped the 1,000 calorie mark... I know I messed up by eating too much, but I'm ready to rock these last 10 days of the PCP.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Emiko: Day 78, Cinematic Consumption

Things have been pretty busy in the A&E household. Lots of job-hunting, and related stuff. I am feeling pretty anxious these days. Adrian and I decided to go to a movie last night, which was a nice break from some of the activity this week. As we were getting ready to head out to the movie theater, I realized that my thoughts were turning to food. Specifically, popcorn and candy. I realized how conditioned I am to eat during movies, and felt a little disturbed by that. I sat down and ate my dinner - a bowl of sliced apple & banana and milk - and knew that I didn't even really want that junky food, I was just used to it. And so are most people. It kind of sucks that we are conditioned to mindlessly consume candy, popcorn, soda, chocolate, and whatever else. Despite confronting it, the feeling stayed with me through the movie. I didn't act on it, but I was quietly aware of it.

Speaking of anxiety, I have a phone interview for a job this afternoon. Wish me luck! I plan to have my third and final indulgence directly following the interview, so I will be updating on that soon! Hope you all are well.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Emiko: Day 76, Clothes!

I first want to congratulate PCPJapan! How does it feel to reach the final day of the Project? All three of you look fabulous! I can't believe that there are only two more weeks until Day 90 for us PCP2-ers.

But I am definitely experiencing the changes. Adrian and I have started to shop for clothes again. I didn't want to buy any clothes during the Project, because I figured my body would be changing too much. But it's a necessity now. Most of my old pants are too baggy to wear, even my 'skinny jeans'. I've been wearing the same pair of turquoise jeans for a while now because they are the least baggy, although still fairly loose. Now that I am going to stores again, I realize that I have no idea what size I fit into.

Yesterday I approached the large rack of pants at a local thrift store, and I was at a loss as to which size section to search through. So I just grabbed all the pants I liked ranging from size 2 to size 7. After trying on many pairs that were either too baggy or couldn't even fit over my knees, I tried on some nice H&M trousers and they fit perfectly. When I took them off I looked at the size, and it was a 4. A FOUR?! My turquoise jeans are the same brand, and they are size 10. I could not believe the difference. Could I really have shrunk that much? And I still have love-handles!

My sizing for shirts has gone down significantly as well. Apart from having a round belly, I have always been rather top-heavy, so in the past I was limited to either medium or large sizes. I can't believe it, but a lot of the new shirts I have purchased are smalls. It's pretty cool!

On another note, working out this week has felt like a fresh start after a loooong absence due to sickness. The exercises are difficult, but I am pushing myself as well as I can. My abs have been sore consistently this week, and my legs and gluteus too from the lunges.

Also, I had crazier bed-head this morning than I've had in a long time, or perhaps EVER:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adrian: Day 75, Workout Faces

Emiko and I went to a free yoga class in Berkeley the other night. It was a pretty 'New Age-y' affair. The class was candle-lit and Adiemus was playing on the stereo. (The fact that I know it was Adiemus doesn't mean anything, except that I have a lot of pop-culture garbage floating around in my head.) People breathed out in harmonic unison. There was a hippy in boxer briefs, a moaning woman, and many more.

The work-out provided a surprising burn, and I found myself sweating throughout. It was extra-tough for me because the instructor happened to be focusing on leg exercises that night, and I had just completed floor-jumps right before leaving the apartment. Others were having a difficult time as well; there was lots of loud, and sometimes ecstactic groaning in the room. The instructor repeatedly told us not to wear the effort on our faces.

That statement has been with me since the yoga class, and I find it replaying in my head whenever I'm struggling through difficult PCP exercises. I've been making all sorts of crazy faces while doing my workouts, especially during v-sits and planks. Earlier, I made a Gene Simmons face while doing seated sit-ups. It was funny for both me and Emiko, but I'm trying to break the habit.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Adrian: Day 74, Jobs

Emiko and I have been applying to a bunch of different jobs. It's been a long time since I've been to an interview, and I wonder if the PCP will have given me an edge. In the past there were a few times when I was just nervous and stumped. I have a feeling I'll be able to roll with the punches a lot better now. If I run into any trouble, I'll just flex it off.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Adrian: Day 73, Pull-ups

Is anyone able to do the 5 sets x 8-12 reps of pull-ups? I can only do 3 on my first set, with each subsequent set being halved. At set 5 I'm doing about a quarter of a pull-up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Emiko: Day 71, Obese-city

Adrian and I took a nice walk tonight up to the Temescal neighborhood, and ended up going into a cafe and sharing a pot of tea. When I looked into the pastry case near the counter, I noticed how differently I think about sweets. Of all of the snackies in the case, the only one that looked appetizing to me turned out to be a 'reduced-fat oatmeal raisin scone', which Adrian said looked like more like a 'turd'. In the past, I wouldn't have hesitated to scarf down any of the other choices - like a giant, frosted maple cookie, or the sugar-rolled, buttery cake. Now when I think about eating one of them, I can almost feel my tummy churning. I know it wouldn't feel good, so I'm not even tempted anymore. I would much rather have some good ol' dried fruit.... that's my favorite kind of sweet, right there!

Later, Adrian and I started talking about how people compare themselves to each other, and size each other up. I have noticed myself sizing random people up on the street. I have had a lot of thoughts about how people don't take care of themselves like they should. There are so many severely obese people around here, and I feel bad and confused as to why their health has become such a low priority. It almost feels like there are more obese people than there were before, but it's probably just that I am more aware of it nowadays. I am so glad that Adrian and I, and the rest of the PCPers, have taken charge and put our health at the top of the list and are working to improve ourselves in this very moment, and for future.

Adrian: Day 71, Plans

I've been thinking a bit about some things I'd like to do post-PCP. I want to keep exercising regularly, and I came up with a few ideas of how to do that in the winter. Here's a partial list:

1.) Go for walks in the rain
2.) Go for jogs in the rain
3.) Ride my bike late at night
4.) Gardening


I don't have plans yet for when it's sunny. It's been a while since I went for long walks in the rain with an umbrella. I haven't done that since high school actually, when I used to sometimes walk to and from school. I hated waiting for the bus. I especially didn't like standing inside a crowded bus while dripping wet. People get uncomfortable when you're sopping wet and you're standing real close.

I remember a couple instances where I'd be driving somewhere and it would be raining out. I'd see joggers and I would think to myself that it was stupid or a waste of time to be running in the rain. I've seen people running in the rain wearing shorts, and sometimes no shirt. But I've gone jogging in the rain it since then, and I like it. In light rain at least. It cools you down and washes off the sweat.

As far as diet goes, I'm definitely gonna stay away from oil and sugar as much as possible. At least 90% of the time. I've been missing "Bake Sale Betty's" fried chicken sandwiches. I think I'm gonna have to get one of those for my last indulgence. I'm looking forward to that!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adrian: Day 70, Getting Better

I can't believe there's less than a month left to go. I'm pretty anxious for this thing to be over, not that I feel I am in Peak Condition, but I look forward to doing maintenance exercises rather than pushing to muscle failure. It's been especially hard to push to failure lately, what with the sickness and all, but thankfully I am 90% recovered.

I often look at our photostreams, and it's hard to believe the progress we've made. I've told Emiko several times that even though I do look more fit, I still feel like the same person - with the same ups and downs that I've had since the beginning of this project. And with the bout of laziness I've been dealing with lately, I ask myself if I will make it to Peak Condition by day 90. Still, I can't deny that I am better off for everything I've experienced throughout, and that I am on the right track towards lifelong health and fitness. That's all I wanted to say tonight, and I hope everyone is well.

Emiko: Day 70, Recovery!

I am finally getting recovering from this silly cold. I hit the peak of sickness yesterday, and spent most of the time in bed and being a zombie. I am feeling so much better today. I have not worked out all week it seems...I took it easy when I was beginning to get sick in an effort to stay healthy, but I got sick anyways. That was pretty disappointing, but that's how things go I suppose.
I am starting to feel stagnant without the daily effort of building new muscle. Surprisingly, I don't think that I have gained any extra weight by not exercising, but am feeling a bit flimsy.
I am definitely going to try for a full work out tomorrow. I never thought I would say this, but I really miss working out!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Adrian: Day 66, I Got Lazy

I'm starting to put weight back on.  I'm eating more, but I haven't been working out as hard as I used to.  I've been lazy, and I can't lie to myself about that.  I also haven't been getting enough variety in my diet.  I've been pretty much eating cereal and granola for my carbs every day.  I know it's wrong, because of all the extra sugar, but it's so easy and it tastes so good.  I've been eating lots of sweet potatoes lately, and I've definitely been eating avocados almost every day.  I really feel like I need to kick things back into gear, but it's been a tough mental game.  How do you beat your own mind? 

Emiko: Day 66, I Got Sick

Yeah, I am most definitely sick now. It's kind of a cold with a little nausea, and I only just started coughing this morning. Whatever virus it is, it hasn't hit me too strong, but my throat is real sore and I feel weakened. The past two days I jogged/jump-roped and did 8-minute Abs, but decided to not push myself with the other exercises. I didn't feel up to them at all. I am staying away from all dairy besides my eggs, so hopefully I won't get too clogged up. 

I really hope that I can fight off these symptoms and get back to normal soon. I think I got sick mostly because my body had just had it. After two straight months of working out and dieting in such a strict, consistent manner, my body was like, "Can we stop now?" I was kind of in a valley, and my immune system must have been a little weaker. I am waiting for the PCP bounce-back from sickness that most of PCP round 2 has already experienced. I am ready to be better! Especially since I still have to go to work this morning...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Emiko: Day 64, Sensory Garden

I just wanted to quickly add to Adrian's last post. The part of the Botanical Garden that we will hopefully be volunteering in is the Sensory Garden. The plants that we would be working with are highly fragrant, like lavender and geraniums. I feel like I have a new sensitivity and appreciation for smells. I am really looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt and using all my new strong muscles as we help maintain a garden like that. I am excited!

On another note, I couldn't really smell today (not even at the Sensory Garden) because I think I'm getting sick. :(

Adrian: Day 64, Jogging

Emiko and I just came back from a jog at the lake. We haven't been down there since the PCP started. In fact, we haven't been getting out much at all aside from doing chores. It felt good to be outside. It was also surprisingly hot. I tripped right at the beginning in front of a bunch of little kids. I almost fell flat on my face, but luckily I was able to catch myself with my hands. I jumped right back up and kept going. When I got up I expected to see the kids laughing, but instead they were just shocked.

Anyway, I noticed that it was a whole lot easier to jog than I thought it would be after such a long hiatus. Jumping rope really seems to have kept my lungs strong. I did a short sprint at the end, and I didn't feel like I was going to vomit afterward. That was nice.

After the jog, Emiko and I checked out the Botanical Garden right across the way. We were looking for brochures with volunteer information, but they were all out. We were about to leave when an old lady in Terminator sunglasses walked into the garden and headed our way. She told us that she was the volunteer coordinator. We exchanged our information, said our goodbyes, and then Emiko and I walked around the garden a bit more. It looks like we have jobs at the garden now, and I think it will be pretty fun.

Emiko: Day 63, Dietary Differences

Okay, so it's not actually Day 63 anymore, but this is what I meant to write about yesterday.

Yesterday we got our new diets. As I expected, not much has changed for me except a few decreases. This is the same pattern my diet has been going on for the past few weeks. At first, I was really bitter because Adrian's diet has done nothing but increase. I pretty much acted like a butthead every time we started to talk about our diets. I was hungry, and not too happy. I felt, as Amy once said, that I was on some sort of remedial PCP diet. I also found it harder to want to control myself when Adrian and I weren't in the same boat anymore.

Roughly calculated, Adrian eats basically twice as much food as I do. That's a lot! While I'm weighing out my cereal making sure I'm getting every last gram, Adrian is so full that he doesn't want to eat the rest of his carbs. This caused some tension for me, but I'm finally getting over it now. I am realizing that it is kind of silly to compare our diets against each other, because we came into the Project with such different body types and needs. And, like Adrian keeps telling me, I am the smallest person in PCP round 2, so it makes sense that my diet is smaller than everyone elses. 

The biggest result of these decreasing diets is that I can really feel that my stomach has shrunk. What I eat for dinner now would never have been enough for me in the past, but my stomach reaches capacity with just an apple, my post-work-out banana, an egg white or two, and some milk. Lately I have not even wanted to eat my After Dinner snacks, because I am just not hungry. It is kind of incredible how much my appetite has changed, just from a few weeks of eating less. I am trying to feel more optimistic about a reduced diet, because I will finally get rid of the remaining fat on my body. Just a few more weeks! I think it is going to be worth it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Adrian: Day 61, Eating After a Workout

Something I'm supposed to do on the PCP is eat an egg white right after working out. But on some days, I also eat my dinner right after working out. I've been wondering lately if it's a good thing to eat all this food right after. My guess is that its better, because the body is burning more calories and using up more nutrients during and directly after a workout.

I did a bit of research on the internet, and I've found some strategies of what and how to eat after a work out. What I've learned is that the best time to eat is during the first 60 minutes after working out. This is called the Golden Hour and it's when muscles are most efficiently absorbing nutrients and replacing energy reserves. Taking in carbs and proteins during this time is the best way to speed up recovery. Proteins provide amino acids and increased muscle hydration. Amino acids help repair the muscles and also strengthen the immune system. Carbs are important for replacing glycogen - the energy reserves of the muscles.

The proportion of carbs, proteins and fats in the post-workout meal depends on the individual's fitness level and goals. In general, it seems to be recommended to have the post-workout meal in drink form. I guess this is so the body doesn't have to spend extra energy on digestion. I'll experiment with having my post-workout egg white, banana and milk in a shake. But, I'm still not entirely sure if it's okay to have a full dinner right after working out. I think it would be ideal though, if I could manage my time better and get my workouts done earlier in the day.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Emiko: Day 59, Eggy-Weggs

Today started off really well. I got up early early, around 5:30am, to do my jump-ropes before heading off to work. I happened to hear my downstairs neighbor rev up his truck outside and saw him driving away, so I was able to do my jumping indoors without disturbing anyone. I love our new time/set situation for jump-ropes, which is 3 sets of 5 mins. So much easier than any of the other combinations of 4 x 4 mins, 5 x 3 mins, etc. Five minutes kinda goes on forever, but you can really get in the groove of jumping, and before you know if you have finished all three sets.

After a hot shower, I started to eat a little bowl of cereal before deciding to pack it up and eat the rest of breakfast at work. I like to take advantage of eating at work, not only because the food is free, but because I often get something that varies from what's usually in the fridge at home. At work, I finished my cereal, had some yogurt topped with almonds slices that fell off of the almond croissants during their delivery, and a tomato/cucumber/basil salad. Sunday mornings are very busy shifts, and soon after I finished breakfast customers started pouring in. I had to rush around like a mad woman for hours.

Around noon I finally got my lunch break. By this time I felt really woozy and light-headed, and my stomach was growling. I couldn't figure out what was happening. I was a little late for my mid-morning fruit snack, but it shouldn't have been such a big deal. Then I remembered... I totally neglected to eat my egg during breakfast! This is my big source of protein and fat in the morning. Because we don't serve eggs at work, I wasn't able to eat an egg during my shift. But I decided to have a few slices of mozzarella (which is also fat and protein-licious) on the side with my fruit, and I felt so much better.

It's amazing how skipping one little egg made such a big difference in my composure! So, lesson learned: eggs and egg-whites are so important! So simple, yet so nutritious. Definitely won't be forgetting my eggs tomorrow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Adrian & Emiko: Day 58, Oryoki

Today we had our first experience with oryoki, a meditative form of eating that literally translates to "just enough." Breakfast is served oryoki style in the zendo at the Berkeley Zen Center on Saturdays. One of the members gave us and a couple other people a lesson on how to eat oryoki-style. There are three nesting bowls to eat out of, one large, one medium, and one small. And a wrapped up set of utensils including a pair of chopsticks, a spoon and a cleaning stick (can't remember the actual name of it at the moment).


We learned how to set up our bowls in preparation for receiving food, how to properly receive our food, and how to clean up once we had finished eating.

After learning all of the intricacies of the forms for eating in this way, we walked over to the zendo to sit down for breakfast. It was difficult to remember the order of things. One of the responsibilities that you have when receiving food is to tell the server when you have been given "just enough." It is important not to take too much food, as the meal is eaten at a brisk pace.

We both made a lot of mistakes, and felt embarrassed afterwards, but it was a good learning experience. To eat in such a formalized way seems stifling, but the practice really does force you into an enhanced state of awareness. An awareness fueled at first by the anxiety of making mistakes. But in general, people can benefit from being more aware while eating.

Anyway, we know this is confusing, but luckily there's a youtube video of Patrick showing the way to eat oryoki.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Adrian and Emiko: Day 57, You're Never Too Young To Start

We would like to start off by apologizing for the lack of posts this week. Motivation and energy has been at an all time low. This shortage of willpower has contributed to the lack of blog posts, as well as not knowing what to write about. Even though it has been a bit tough, we wouldn't want to trade in all of our progress by going back to our old habits. (Though, we fantasize about it sometimes).

We were talking to Abel, one of the renters at Adrian's parent's house, the other day about the PCP. He said something like, "You're too young to worry about your diet!" Later, when Adrian's mom was talking about trying to improve her own diet, he told her, "Life's short, eat whatever you want to eat!" Everyone seemed to think Adrian was getting too skinny and wanted him to gain the weight back after the PCP was over.

Our question is - when are we supposed to start caring about our diets? Abel's perspective was to gain as much pleasure from life as possible while you're alive. We can all disagree with that now, but the fact is, we've all lived that way to some extent, and enjoyed it for a while too. But it didn't work for any of us PCP'ers. We all feel unhealthy and unhappy about where our previous lifestyle choices had taken us.

If you live with the mentality "Do whatever you want to do" then there's no limit to what you desire, and you'll never be satisfied by your life. We think moderation is actually the key to happiness. If you can identify all the extra things in your life and let them go, then you might possibly find satisfaction with where you are and be happy for once. Food is a good place to start. If you could learn how to appreciate a bowl of raw greens, with low-fat dressing, then you're well on your way to putting down that extra slice of pizza. Do you really need it?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Adrian: Day 54, Experience Points

I just finished my workout. My nose started bleeding while I was doing the planks.. The PCP is literally kicking my butt! It isn't really kicking my butt, but Patrick says that at this point, things should be easy for us. But actually, I feel like it's still hard. I've been dealing with my tendency to call it quits when things get tough. I'm not close to quitting, but it hasn't been very easy to workout every day. I'm not used to being this fit and healthy! I used to eat leftover pizza for breakfast.

I catch myself thinking about resorting to old habits of vegging out all day long and eating junk. Something funny I noticed is that I've been having a lot of food-related dreams lately. Last night for example, I dreamt that Emiko and I were making gyros in our drawing class. Emiko put herb butter and cheese in hers. Light glistened off the cheese and foil and I could see the steam rising off of it too. I haven't strayed from the diet in real life, but for the past couple of days, I've been sitting around and playing a lot of video games.

When I start feeling unmotivated, I remember Emiko's post, in which she said I was her PCP hero. That memory has been getting me off my butt when I feel low. I think to myself, "What kind of hero sits around playing video games all day?" I can either pretend to be a hero in a video game, or I can work on being Adrian in real life.


So, to all the gamers out there: Put down the controller and pick up a jump rope; stop gaining levels and start losing weight; you can't press the reset button in real life; etc.

Emiko: Day 53, Already Tomorrow

It's almost 2am right now, and I have just finished my work out and am eating my post-work out egg white. This is the latest that I have been awake in a long time. Needless to say, this post will only last a few more sentences. Today was a really long day. I will go more into depth in tomorrow's post. Or should I say, today's post?! It is already tomorrow. Oh my.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Emiko: Day 52, Ebb and Flow

As Adrian mentioned, today we both went to our first meditation retreat at the Berkeley Zen Center. It was a half-day sesshin, from 8:30am-3pm, and was geared toward beginners and new community members. We did alternating periods of Zazen, sitting meditation, and Kinhin, walking meditation, with breaks for lecture, lunch, and an informal discussion over tea.

What I wanted to write about today is a connection that I made between observing my mind during meditation and observing my habits in daily life. This is a very simple one, and one I've made before, but it's particularly relevent today. Because today I had a big time craving for sweets, and it was very difficult to battle with. Actually it was less of a battle, and more me just giving into it. I feel like at this point in the Project I am losing some of my initial motivation, so it's harder to say No to myself.

After noticing the ebb and flow of my thoughts during meditation, I realize how much I also indulge in my thoughts. I let myself fall onto a train of thought and before I know it, five or even ten minutes have gone by without my awareness. I think this is the same for the way I eat and think about food.

Some days, I could care less about sugar. Other times, like today, sugar is all I can think about. I want to eat all of the yummy dates in our fridge, the banana chocolate-chip cookies at work, and drizzle honey on everything else. And I often let myself indulge in my cravings, at least in some little way. Even if it is small, I am still letting myself do it.

I am finding that my willpower is not what it should be. All of these small actions are probably the big reason I have been so unhealthy throughout the years. It is also affecting my results during this project, I'm sure. I have such a tough time letting my cravings pass ...instead, I grab onto them. It's like allowing myself to attach to a train of though during zazen. My effort is not quite right. These small actions show the big picture of how I truly act.

Upon rereading this, I feel like it's coming off as a bummer. But I don't want that! It is really positive to realize these things. It reminds me of something that was said during the lecture at the sesshin today: Even if what you're doing is hard, as long as you trust the person asking it of you, then you know it's coming from a place of care. I know that when I realize these things in myself, and even when I feel frustrated with finding solutions to them, working on them is a way of caring for myself. I face my problems to care for myself. So this is really a very happy thing!

Also, I wanted to record my reckless behavior today so that, like Nate said, I can be held accountable in a way. Being honest about guilty actions is hard, but I hope that it will help me to avoid straying from the plan!

Adrian: Day 52, Willpower

I've been feeling a little bit low on motivation and energy lately. It doesn't feel like I'm in a valley. Instead, I've been feeling like I'm at the bottom of a pull-up each morning. It feels like a long way up, and I've been wanting to just dangle there.

Today, Emiko and I attended our first sesshin, or meditation retreat. I brought my lazy attitude to the Zen center today, and I battled drowsiness and restlessness all the way through. At times I struggled to keep my eyes open, and at other times I felt overwhelmed by my daydreams. Mostly, I felt like I was just biding my time, waiting for it to end.

For the last sitting, we were instructed to all face each other. We had been facing the wall during our sittings up until then. I fidgeted with my posture and sat uncomfortably, daydreaming in the faces of the people before me. I wasn't able to focus on my breath for any length of time. But about halfway through the final period, I felt a sudden burst of energy. My vision seemed to clear up, and the light in the room seemed to become a little bit brighter. The atmosphere completely changed. It was like I got pulled out of my head, and away from my thoughts. And I was able to be there with everyone for the first time. It almost felt like I knew each person there, when in fact, they were all strangers. It felt very intimate.

I thought to myself, "Wow, what just happened?" I didn't think it was my own effort that brought about the sudden clarity, because up until that point, I was feeling sort of crummy and ready to leave. I had been fed up with my own situation the whole time and then it just shifted to, "Hey...I'm not alone here. What lovely people!"

I had the idea that it was the collective energy in the room that had suddenly increased. I thought, "I like this, I'm going to ride this wave." I talked to Emiko about it on the way home later, and she said that she felt the same thing.

That's what I learned today. The quality of a person's effort relies on the people supporting that individual. All of us doing the PCP have had our struggles lately, and I'm right there feeling it with the rest of you. I don't think I could get through the PCP if it weren't for Emiko and the rest of the PCPers, and everyone else who reads and comments on this blog. So I want to say:

Thank you for support.

Adrian

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Emiko: Day 50, Ooey Gooey Guilty Nachos

Yesterday Adrian and I had indulgence #2. This time we were allowed a bigger indulgence, more like a small meal. Something that we really wanted. Before I knew about this, I had planned to use my normal allowance of carbs during lunch time and make a grilled peanutbutter sandwich with honey and banana slices. But then Adrian mentioned that he wanted Mexican food, and I remembered how much I loved the nachos they make at El Burrito Express in San Francisco.

El Burrito Express is the main Mexican restaurant my family used to go to when I was growing up. The nachos are simple: homemade tortilla chips, refried beans, lots of melty cheese, and some cool guacamole on top. We would always order big burritos individually, and have a plate of nachos to share as an appetizer. This 'sharing' was often a lie. Usually my mom and I would eat most of the nachos on the car ride home.

I was really excited about eating these nachos, especially because I just miss cheese in general. I have had almost no cheese since beginning the PCP. Upon receiving my order of nachos, I was surprised at just how much cheese there was. Had they always been this cheesy? The amount of cheddar on those nachos was a little gross, but my mouth watered anyway and I dug in. I felt guilty from the beginning, which made it less enjoyable. I couldn't really eat it all at once, but finished them by the end of the evening. Initially, I felt fine except for a some heaviness in my belly and a slight drowsiness. Later, after more nachos, I felt even more heavy but still had some energy to practice Parkour with Adrian. I did get a little gas, though. When finally finishing the nachos, I reflected on my past.

A few years ago when I was still living at home, I could eat a whole plate of these by myself and feel happy. Now, I can still enjoy their taste but in retrospect they didn't seem worth it. I can see why these indulgences are important. They are like little PCP experiments. Like Nate says, they are mostly "for the sake of science." We learn through each experience how a certain kind of food will affect our bodies.

By the end of yesterday evening, I was feeling pretty bloated. When I woke up the next morning it was the same, and I've been bloated all day. The bloatedness and the mild gas stayed with me. The gas may also be because of addition egg whites in my new diet. I felt uncomfortable a lot of the time. Thinking about nachos now, I'm not tempted at all. Perhaps the peanutbutter sammich would have been better. Well, I'll 'experiment' with that one next time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Adrian: Day 50, Quesadilla fun

We went to San Francisco yesterday and ended up getting Mexican food for our indulgences. I ordered a grilled chicken quesadilla at Gordo's. They make my all-time favorite quesadillas. Flaky, creamy, oily, tender-chicken goodness. Emiko got Nachos with guacamole, beans, cheese and sour cream from El Burrito Express.

The quesadilla was delicious and I had a warm, happy, sedated feeling while eating it. I didn't feel full afterward, but 20 minutes later my stomach felt heavy and I was nauseous for a couple minutes. It was great, but I don't feel like I'm missing much by not eating there regularly anymore. It was like going to an amusement park. Exciting, but overstimulating and a little sickening.

A little bit later, we went to an elementary school near my parent's house and we practiced some parkour moves on the playground. I was able to scale a 9 foot wall, it was pretty sweet.

We spent the night over at my parent's house and we didn't have an internet connection, so we couldn't post an entry. There was a party of sorts going on at the house, and we were a little regretful that we had to eat egg whites while everyone else was getting their grub on, but the mexican food was worth it. Everyone asked questions about the PCP, but I got nervous trying to explain and the answers didn't quite come out right. Now I understand why Patrick sent us that PCP-quiz...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Emiko: Day 48, The Little Emiko That Could

I just came home from work, and took a peak at Adrian's post. It is funny, because we both decided to write about essentially the same thing without knowing it. And that subject is that we are beginning to believe in ourselves. There goes that word again! Believe. Last night I wrote about how I used to never believe that I could do things. That is all starting to change now. I have a renewed energy and outlook about my ability. I have become The Little Emiko That Could..."I think I can, I think I can...!"

One example in particular came to mind on my drive home. Awhile ago, 6 months maybe, I spoke to Adrian about wanting to become a volunteer gardener. I had wanted to volunteer at Tilden Regional Park, which is an absolutely beautiful place. It is so green and full of nature that you completely forget that you are minutes away from the city.

I spoke of wanting to volunteer, but inside my head a little voice said, "you're not capable." I just didn't believe that I could handle any type of responsibility. Even though I felt the desire, and expressed that desire, I never put it into action. From the beginning, I never believed that I could. So why even try.

But since beginning the Peak Condition Project, I feel like that voice in my head is going through a little lifestyle change of its own. Instead of being negative, the voice will now say, "I think that is possible. Let's try it!" I feel so much more open to trying. And when I say I want to do something, they are no longer empty words. Once I realize the desire to do something, the action that follows is much more immediate. I finally have control over my life! And it feels so good to finally believe in me.

Adrian: Day 48, Some Thoughts.

The way I think these days is very different from how I used to think. I'm a very introspective person, and for the past year or so, I have been trying to examine the contents of my mind.

Last year, I was a totally different person. A lot of my thoughts were focused on fear, regret and negative perceptions of myself and others. I thought a lot about what was wrong with me, and with the rest of the world. I felt stuck, and my feeling was, "life sucks." But I had a breakthrough around this time last year, and my life has changed radically since then.

It's not all doom and gloom for me anymore. I still have the same old feelings and thoughts from time to time obviously, but the way I react is different. (I conducted an experiment to observe and confirm the changes, but it's a little complicated and I don't want to go into details). I still think about my shortcomings, but in a way that is more constructive and conducive to change. I still get angry and irate, but its short-lived and usually dissipates quickly. I don't find myself holding grudges. I don't wallow or feel self-pity. Self-pity is a far away land to me now.

These are very positive changes for me. I am a much happier and more confident person than I was a year ago, and I attribute this to my meditation practice. I realized very quickly that everything I feel is my responsibility. That's something I had forgotten for a while. The PCP has acted as a catalyst for changing my habitual patterns of thinking and acting. Instead of thinking "I can't do that" these days I often think "I'd like to try that." I'm also learning more and more about what choices I need to make in order to take care of myself. Actually, I have way too many interests right now, and I'm having to pick and choose the direction I want my life to take. In the past I didn't feel like I had a choice.

There seems to be a very close connection between the healthy expression of the body and the healthy expression of the mind, and that is something I'm really interested in exploring. I talked about having conducted an experiment on my thinking, but I don't feel like it's totally necessary to gather empirical evidence or anything. I've experienced the connection for myself.

What I have been feeling is that the PCP has reawakened my interest in physical/mental disciplines like martial arts, parkour, flexibility and movement in general. I played many sports and studied different martial arts as a kid. But I did all that stuff just so I could kick ass. I had a terrible ego.

Things are different now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Emiko: Day 47, When Drawing a Line

I have been thinking a lot lately about how I warp reality in my life, and specifically with the PCP. Adrian has noticed how obsessive I have become with my progress, and I am having to deal with that. I have been getting down on myself for not losing fat, and then pushing myself too hard during workouts. I do this as if it will make me change faster. Patrick has warned us against this mindset, but I still let myself fall into it.

I feel like this obsession is rooted in my low self-esteem regarding my body and ability. In the past, I have never had the will-power to follow a healthy diet or exercise with any regularity. This was probably mostly because I didn't believe that I could change myself. Now that my life is changing so much, my attitude has also changed. Or has it? I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. Because I am not used to this amount of effort, I don't really know where my boundaries are. I don't know when to draw the line and say, "hey, maybe I should just stop." I don't know where that line belongs.

So that is where my challenge lies now, in learning my boundaries and respecting them. These past few days I have tried to be aware of my body and scale back on an exercise if I needed to. But I am also scared of using this search for boundaries as an excuse to ease up too much. I am still scared of falling back into my old lazy patterns, and doing only the minimum when I could do more. I am having trouble finding the middle way, feeling out where the line should be drawn. But I'm trying.

Adrian: Day 47, Resting

I've been sleeping a lot for the past couple of days, in an effort to get my body refreshed from the recent strain. I've been getting 9 hour nights of sleep and long naps in the afternoon. I was exhausted after my workout last night and passed out pretty early. I forgot all about posting an entry. But still, I feel amazed because my body seems to be fighting off sickness, going through the motions and recovering quite well. Anyway, that's all for tonight, I'm going to get in bed early again.

G'night!
Adrian

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Adrian & Emiko: Day 45, Hot Crossed Buns

Both of our bodies were sore all over today, and just getting up from a reclining position was strenuous. We thought that our PCP training would prepare us for the parkour class yesterday, but it was on a whole new level of physical activity.

Even our butts were sore all day, because we did the 8 minute buns workout last night after our regular workout. We did it mainly out of curiosity and thought it would be funny, but it turned out to be very difficult and painful. It was a real butt buster.



As a result of our soreness, our workouts today felt like pure torture. Emiko said that it seemed 10x harder than usual, and Adrian agreed. Adrian struggled to get halfway to his minimums and got whipped in the neck with the resistance bands while doing the "Standing Ovation" exercise. He ended up wearing one of Emiko's scarves to protect himself. Emiko called him a "Cutie Bear". It was an emasculating experience for Adrian who vented his frustration and pain by cursing at the resistance bands. Later, he sneezed and felt a deep burn in his abs.

After our workouts, we still had some chores to do. Emiko washed some dishes and boiled eggs while Adrian mixed up a new batch of Turkey Patties. Adrian felt a burn in his shoulder as he mixed up the ingredients, and had to take several breaks. It was getting late, and it was a bit of a struggle to get through chores. Hopefully, our bodies will be healed up tomorrow, so that we can move around without hobbling around in pain. It's all worth it though, we both feel like we're getting stronger.

Goodnight,
A+E

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Emiko: Day 44, Our First Parkour Lesson!

Today Adrian and I had our first lessons in Parkour. There was a beginner's class hosted by members of the SF Parkour community on the UC Berkeley campus. I was pretty nervous, because I felt like I was such a beginner. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. They had set out a list of moves that they planned to go over, but I wasn't sure how many of them we were expected to attempt. But, as we found out, Parkour is all about going through the action rather than just listening to someone explain the moves, so... surprise surprise, we were expected to try them ALL. They just threw us in head first, and it was HARD!

Except for a tiny bit of jumping around, I've never practiced Parkour in any real way. I am pretty okay coordination and flexibility-wise, but I really don't have the same 'bounce' that Adrian does. That guy is bouncy! Adrian can jump really far distances, it's pretty awesome. But my un-bounciness was a big disadvantage while attempting all the different sorts of jumps over a concrete wall. The one female instructor there said that women have a much lower center of gravity, and that the wall we were working on was most definitely difficult because of that. Of course, then she vaulted right over it with no problem. Practice makes Parkour, I suppose!

Early on, my right ankle became sore from all of the rough landings. That went away after a while though. But as we started trying out the 'Kong Vault', I got into trouble. I ran and jumped up with and placed both of my hands on the top of the wall, then tried to bring my legs up and forward between my arms. The tips of my shoes landed on the edge of the wall, but as I put my weight onto my feet I slipped off.



Here are my legs after the session, as we were waiting for the train home. I scraped my shin pretty good. Later I bumped my knee while trying to vault over the wall again, and when we got home it had swollen to the size a little golf ball. Later I scraped my back on a cement divider wall when trying to maneuver under a rail. Many bumps and scratches for the day!

The jumping drills were a little discouraging, because I was unable to complete all of the movements except for one. I was the one who completed the least amount of movements properly. I think my shortness and a lack of confidence played a big part in that. I was a little bummed, but tried to cheer Adrian on, especially when we got the hang of the Kong Vault which is so awesome.

After the drills, we moved to a different part of the campus and tried to use what we had learned in a more free-flowing way. We stopped at a ramp that had hand rails and used those to jump over, under, and to 'Cat Walk' on top of. I excelled in the Cat Walk, which involved crawling on all fours on a rail. Balance was key in that movement, instead of bounciness, so I was happier. It was also just a lot more fun to concentrate our movements in a small area. I could really see how much work it takes to become efficient and quick. And the fact that the moves can be practiced almost anywhere is really cool.

The best part was how supportive everyone was for each other. Complete strangers who had come together to practice Parkour all of a sudden became a group. We all struggled and messed up and cheered people on together. Although I still feel lacking in self-confidence, it will be cool to practice with these people as time goes on.

Today's class really beat me up and made me exhausted, but I look forward to training and improving. I know that we are going to get so much stronger just by practicing.

Adrian and I plan to attend this week's Thursday practice session, which I am excited and nervous about. Tell you about that when the day comes! Adrian suggested that we drive around and find places to practice on our own, and that we could find a shorter wall for me to practice vaults on. I am happy and excited to begin this discipline!

Adrian: Day 44, Parkour!

Woke up feeling sort of sick today, had a bit of a cough and a sore back. Wasn't too excited to get out of bed, but zazen instruction was at 8:45 a.m., so Emiko and I reluctantly rolled out of bed and went through the morning motions. We skipped out on the lecture at 11 so that we could go home and eat lunch before parkour class at 12. We got home about 10:40, so we had a very early lunch. We left the house at 11:10 and made it to the Ashby BART (subway) station at about 11:30. We caught our train at 11:40, got off at the next stop in Downtown Berkeley a couple minutes later, and then made it to the rendevouz point at U.C. Berkeley at about 11:45. It was lucky we got there early, because I had a full bladder all morning from tea, soup and airborne and had been pissing like a horse.

We met up with the rest of the beginner's group at "the Practice Wall", which is about 4 ft. high and 40 ft long. We started out with a very brief stretch, and then the instructor, Jeff aka Meatlad, had us jog a few laps along the perimeter of the lawn. We ran forward, sideways and backwards. When we got back to the wall, we immediately started the warm-ups, which they called "QM" or quadripedal movement. We crawled from the top of the hill (where the wall was) to the bottom on all fours. We did this with several variations (check out the video Nate posted of Jereme's warm-ups to get an idea). I was heaving after the warmup, and I didn't feel like I was in any shape to start jumping. But jump we did, and many, many times at that. We split up into several groups. Our practice leader was Albert aka Lethalbeef. Here's a video sampler of him in action:



I had a difficult time getting some of the jumps right, because I am very uncoordinated. I ended up jamming my knee into a wall right in the beginning. The hardest move for me to get was the 'kong vault', which involves jumping straight at a wall, pulling your knees up between your arms and using your hands to propel you forward and over. I had to break the movement up into two parts - jumping up on the wall and then jumping over. But I finally got it right at the very end. And it felt good! I was so excited that I got it, I had Emiko take a video.



Later we did some stuff on rails. We did a move called the 'cat walk', which I was completely unable to do for more than two steps. Emiko was a natural at it though.



Pictures:
The beginner's parkour group. Emiko and I are standing up for some reason.



Falling on my ass while people are trying to have a conversation.



Emiko going up for a kong vault.



Adrian doing a cat leap. That's Lethalbeef on the right.



Landing a cat leap. I fell into that bush behind me numerous times attempting this move.



The event was a ton of fun, and we plan on doing more training with these guys and girls in the future. I'm gonna end the post here, I have to get to my PCP workout!

See you in 24 hours!

Adrian

Friday, September 26, 2008

Emiko: Day 43, Five Seven Five

I was going to write a normal post, but I can't get anything out but haikus. So here they are...

Pulled out his bad teeth
I waited in the lobby
His smile still perfect

Awoke, back aching
Standing bent while making soup
In bed, a massage


I don't want to work out today. It's already nine. I may just do 8 minute abs and call it a night. Sorry this post is so short, it's been a long day.

I can't believe it's Week 7! Kind of a weird start for Adrian and I, but tomorrow is a new day. I Hope that you are all really well.

Adrian: Day 43, No More Sweet Teeth

I had two molars extracted today. One from both sides of my face. Those teeth have been bothering me for a couple of years now, and they've both been filled multiple times. The fillings had cracked on both teeth. Actually, I cracked the filling on the left side just a couple days ago, while eating the chicken that Emiko made. There was a small crunch, and I thought I had chewed up a chicken bone, but I realized really quickly that it wasn't.

I drove home across the Bay Bridge through heavy traffic. One hand holding an ice-pack to my cheek, and one hand controlling the gear shift and steering wheel. Right when I saw the traffic, I had an impulse to scream. But I didn't, and the feeling passed, and everything was good.

When we got home, I passed out on the couch while Emiko made me chicken soup. The vegetables were extra tender. I decided to skip out on my exercises completely today so I could rest up. Unfortunately, we missed the Qi Gong/Yoga class that we were planning on going to tonight. But I'll be ready for the parkour class tomorrow. We'll post about it tomorrow!

G'night,

Adrian

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Adrian: Day 42

Quick update:

I nearly just choked on some brown rice. I was pretty dazed for a minute - my eyes teared up as I staggered about coughing and gagging. I tried drinking water, but that made it worse. Finally, I got my wits together, stumbled into the bathroom and induced vomitting to get the rice unstuck. The first 41 days of PCP flashed before my eyes. Now I know how our cat Gus feels when it happens to him.

Adrian: Day 42, Clothes

I haven't bought much clothing in the past couple of years.  I've pretty much had the same wardrobe for quite awhile now.  But now, my clothes don't fit the same way.  It's a little strange seeing myself in the mirror; it almost feels like I'm wearing someone else's clothes.  But actually it all works out for the best because my clothes have always been too small for me.  Now, they're just right!

Emiko: Day 42, Are Those Shoulder Pads?

Hey gang,

I just finished another work out and a fabulous round of 8 minute abs. Today required a lot of mental strength to get through my work out. Not only is it physically difficult to do these new, more concentrated sets of exercises, but I am struggling to keep my body from cheating when things get tough.

My heightened awareness of this was all triggered in a small but eye-opening moment. Earlier, Adrian and I were hanging out in the living room, chatting and laughing and basically feeling pretty carefree. I moved from the sofa to sit on Adrian's lap in our armchair. A minute later, he put his head on my shoulder to rest his head. All of a sudden, he got a confused look on his face, and lifted my sleeve to look at my shoulder.

I thought to myself, "Oh, my shoulders must be getting so strong! Adrian must not have been expecting the muscle to be so hard." I was getting all proud inside of my head, and casually asked him, "What is it?" Adrian replied, "Oh, your shoulder just felt so soft and puffy, I thought you might be wearing a shoulder pad." I was so mad! First, I would never wear shoulder pads. Second, I thought that my shoulders were getting stronger after so many days of sweating through Shoulder Raises. What is going on here?

So I decided not to let myself cheat anymore. During tonight's work out, I focused all of my mental energy on the muscle I was supposed to be targeting with each exercise. For each individual repetition, I checked my movement to see if other muscles were 'helping out' the muscle I was supposed to be working. This was for the most part really affective, and I actually had to do less reps because I was finally doing the exercise right. But, as Patrick says, quality over quantity is always best. Feeling really positive about that. It is really rewarding to struggle and overcome bad tendencies, and being able to honestly say that I was giving my all in every moment.

Hopefully soon my "shoulder pads" will get harder. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Emiko: Day 41, Sweet (potato) Eats


Hello, hungry-bellied friends! Here I am going to offer you the two newest additions to our virtual cookbook. The ingredient featured in both of these recipes is the magnificent Sweet Potato. These are so delicious, yet sometimes under-appreciated. 

I am posting a delectably simple recipe for sweet-yet-spicy Sweet Potato Fries. So easy, so yummy! Next will be a Whole Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Carrots recipe for the slow-cooker. Here is what the finished product looks like (with some of that Quinoa recipe on the side still left over from last time, and by the way it keeps really well!):


Looks awesome, right? Well, I would have taken pictures of the Sweet Potato Fries too, but we ate them too fast! So no pictures. But here's the recipe, and if you make then you will get the delightful bonus of getting to eat 'em, too. What could be better?


Sweet Potato Fries

4 medium-sized Sweet Potatoes
1 tbsp Olive Oil, plus a dash to grease the baking sheet
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
A sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper, or to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. As the oven warms up, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into long, square strips. You know, like a french fry! Place the sweet potatoes into a sealable plastic bag and add the oil, paprika, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Shake the bag until the potatoes are evenly-coated. Pour a small amount of oil on the lined baking sheet, just enough to grease the surface. Spread out the fries evenly, in one layer. It is very important to have just one layer, or some fries may burn/remain soggy. Bake in the oven for a total of 25-30 minutes, checking in every 10 minutes and flipping them around. After 20 minutes, try a fry (be careful, they're hot!) to see if you want them any spicier, and if so add more cayenne pepper. Keep a close eye for the last 10 minutes, to assure your fries don't burn. Remove from oven, and serve immediately. And enjoy!


Slow-cooker Whole Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

I got this recipe from familyoven.com, I will link to it here. In my version, I am changing it slightly by substituting sweet potatoes and carrots for the mushrooms in the original. We used an unfrozen chicken, and removed all the skin and most of the fat. We came back to check on the chicken after 7 hours, and it was just right. I also think that there is definitely too much butter in the original recipe, so try it with less before you add more butter to the paste. We also didn't add any salt, and it still came out fantastic.

1 (about 3lb) frozen or fresh whole chicken (make sure it will fit in your slow-cooker!), giblets removed
1 lb sweet potatoes and carrots (about 1/2 lb of each), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 cups water
1 small white onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1-3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp honey

Place the potatoes, carrots, and about half of the onions in your slow-cooker, and pour just enough water in to cover the vegetables. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, and set the slow-cooker to low. Cover with lid. Place all the other ingredients in a food processor and blend them into a paste. Remove the lid from your slow-cooker, pour the paste evenly over the chicken, and replace the lid. Let cook 6-8 hours, depending on how hot your slow-cooker runs. If you are using a frozen chicken, it may take up to 10 hours. The meat should be falling right off of the bone, and the vegetables also very tender.

Adrian: Day 41, Cravings

I've been craving fast food a lot lately.  I was flipping through a slow cooker recipe book this morning, looking for a good chicken curry recipe, when I started daydreaming about Japanese style curry, and Indian Curry.  I snapped out of it and saw a recipe for sweet and sour chicken and then I started daydreaming again about Chinese take-out.  Later in the afternoon, I took a short nap, and dreamed that I was stuffing my face with chocolate.  I felt guilty but I didn't stop. When I woke up, I was relieved that it was just a dream.

I think what's most appealing about these foods is the convenience.  When I was daydreaming, I wasn't sitting there imagining delicious tastes and smells.  I was visualizing completely prepared dishes.  

A couple months ago, it was very easy to get a variety of completely prepared dishes.  We'd just log onto yelp.com, figure out what kind of ethnic food we wanted, find a place with a good user review rating, and then drive to the restaurant, order, wait 10 minutes and then eat.  Flipping through recipes these days, the food takes so much longer to appear.  First, Emiko and I have to decide on what dish we want to share.  Then, we have to make a grocery list, drive out to the grocery store, come home, prep the kitchen, divvy up the tasks, and then start cooking.  Most of the time, the food comes out quite well, but sometimes it doesn't.  Also, we've been pretty much eating the same stuff; we don't vary our food all that much, or that often.  Variety takes a lot more work and effort, and we haven't had much time as it is.

Things have been going pretty smoothly for us lately, at least when it comes to sticking to our diets.  But I'm really starting to see how changing our diets (and habits in general) can be a big mental game.  The key seems to be repetition.  We're almost halfway through now, and I've been wondering - "Will 90 days really be enough time for me to change?"  Even though it's been a bit tough at times, and I've doubted myself, its been a much more fulfilling and engaging way to live than what I'm used to.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adrian and Emiko: Day 40, Working Together

We tried out a new recipe for lunch today. We made chicken with sweet potatoes, carrots & onions in our slow cooker. The recipe also included a paste made of garlic, onion, honey, rosemary & pepper, and butter, which we made with our blender. (The full recipe is coming tomorrow, along with a sweet potato fries recipe we made yesterday.)

For dinner, Emiko made Adrian an apple & banana smoothie, but it had a garlicky after taste. We used honey to cover it up, but that just made it really sweet - with a garlicky after taste. Luckily, Adrian loves garlic.

Adrian was in a really bad mood this morning. He even cursed at the carrots and sweet potatoes as he was chopping them up for the chicken recipe. The mood followed him all the way into the evening. But, after going out to do jump-ropes, the negativity magically lifted. From then on it was all hugs, smiles and laughter. It's amazing how quickly these things can change.

Today we both really realized how much of an advantage we have because we can do things together. We have been able to help each other during our workouts in a bunch of different ways.

One thing we've been able to do is to point out mistakes the other person is making. For example, when Emiko was doing her tricep extensions, Adrian noticed that she was using her entire arm to get through the movement. After bringing this up, Emiko was able to correct herself and do the rest of the exercise properly. Later, while Adrian was doing his tricep dips, he mentioned to Emiko how easy they were. Emiko then pointed out that he was going through the exercises too quickly. After slowing down his pace, Adrian had a much harder time, but in the end got a better workout.

We are also big source of encouragement for each other. Today, while Emiko was doing her jump-ropes, she showed off some cool jump rope dance moves for Adrian which made him laugh. While she was fooling around, Emiko was able to do her first double-jump, and later Adrian did the same. It was lots of fun and broke up some of the monotony of jump-roping. Also, Emiko usually cheers Adrian on while he is struggling through a tough exercise like v-sits or tricep extensions, and it gives him an extra boost to go the extra mile.

These aspects are of course present in other parts of our relationship. We have decided to work together to put what we learn in school directly into use. Although we signed up for a Web Design class together this Fall, we decided today that our time would be best used if Emiko stays in the class and passes information along to Adrian, while he uses that time to create content for the website we are going to create. In this way, we are learning how to optimize our time, and to work together to complete tasks. It is exciting and motivating knowing that we are working as a team in order to move forward in our lives together.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Emiko: Day 39, Or Is It?

Well, my back is not completely better, but it is improving. My back definitely didn't affect my jump ropes like it did yesterday. Jump roping would have been a lot easier today if I wasn't already so sore from yesterday's workout. 

Like Patrick warned us, I feel like I'm back at Day 1 as far as being used to my exercises. The new routines are hard! During my jump ropes, I was hindered by my quads which were so weak from yesterday's pistol squats. Although I complain about it, I actually like being challenged in that way. But it hurts the day after, that's for sure.

Also, I kept whipping myself in the butt with the jump rope. Must have happened about ten times. I must have been tripping on the rope in a new way because of my sore muscles. It was unpleasant, but a little funny too.

Another weird thing happened to me today. I went to bed
around 11 pm last night, very sleepy. This morning I had to wake up earlier than would be ideal, around 6:45 am to finish my drawing homework. Because I went to bed so sleepy, and felt the same sleepiness upon waking and throughout the morning, it was almost as if I was experiencing last night and this morning at the same time. Like a parallel plane of time or something. As I was driving Adrian and myself home from school today, I felt that I was simultaneously getting ready to go to bed the night before. I cannot explain it better than that. It was a strange feeling, though.

I had better go get ready for bed now, again. Am I experiencing tonight, or last night, or both?

:0)

Adrian: Day 39, Flexibility...

I have none.

I haven't been stretching before my workouts this whole time. Why? Rigid personality. I have been doing it lately though...since yesterday. I plan to do it every day from now on so I can go from

to

Emiko and I were talking this morning about flexibility, and we decided to get a yoga dvd to help us get more like Stretch Armstrong. We were also talking about going to meditation groups outside of the Zen Center, and we found out that there's a free yoga/qi gong/mindful movement class at the East Bay Meditation Center every 2nd and 4th Friday night. We were both pretty excited about that. I know what you're thinking - Yoga on Friday nights? Awesome! We think so too. We're going to check out the class this Friday, and we'll let you know how it goes. That's it for now!

See you in 24 hours!

Adrian

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Emiko: Day 38, A Crick in My Back

This morning I got up, stretched a bit, and was happy to note that my back was much less sore and achy than yesterday. As I mentioned in my previous post, after jumping around on trampolines for an hour on Friday, my back was in quite a state on Saturday. So I was really glad that it felt so much better.

I went out behind the house in the evening to do my jump ropes. It was then that I realized that my back was not in much better shape than yesterday. I noticed that my back would curl slightly with every jump, and with that curl I felt strain in my muscles and spine. It was a little challenging, but I did all of my sets and went upstairs the rest of the workout, on the other hand, was much much harder (Pistols!).

I just finished sitting half an hour of zazen, and my back was a continuous source of distraction. It was difficult to maintain my posture, and toward the end was painful to just sit there. It makes me really appreciate Tim's strength to go through all of this, as I know he has chronic aches and pains. I can see why he goes to get massages regularly.

Definitely can't wait to lie down in bed and rest my back muscles. Adrian also promised me a back massage before bed, so off I go I can't wait!

G'night!

Adrian: Day 38, New Exercises.

I made my first attempt at the new exercises today. Here's how it went:

Pistol squats: These one-legged squats were tough, but I was able to hit the max on most reps. I had to use my arm a bit to get me back up off the ground.

Creep: I remember this exercise from high school. I did this several times as a warm-up in Kung Fu class. But instead of doing a certain number of sets, we were required to walk a few laps around the entire studio. We called it duck-walking. My legs are still very strong today because of my martial arts training from years ago, and so this exercise is very easy for me. I could probably do 100 steps before getting tired, but I'm sticking to the max for now so I don't put too much stress on my right knee.

Pull-ups: This was tough. I was able to do 3 reps on my first set, but only went a quarter of the way up on my last set before my body quit.

Pull-down: Easy, but tiring.

Tricep dip: This is easy for me. I can hit the max reps without a problem. I haven't tried going to failure yet though.

Triceps extension: This was tougher than I expected. Hit the max reps on all sets, but felt a deep burn getting there.

V-sit: This exercise feels like torture. When the burn comes on, my whole torso feels like it's being squeezed dry and my neck feels like it's being pinched. I find it difficult to breathe fully while doing this.

Side crunch: Hit the max for all 4 sets. It was easy, but I felt a nice burn.

8 minute abs: Still experiencing neck strain. It's getting better though.

I also tried doing hand stands tonight to work my upper body. I can't do them for more than a minute before getting tired.

Well, that's it for now gang. I'll see you in 24 hours!

That was an 8 minute abs reference for those of you who haven't seen it yet. Haha.

Adrian

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Emiko: Day 36 & 37, A Birthday, Briefly

Good evening, everybody! Today was a bit of a special day, because it was my 20th birthday. Adrian made me the most wonderful present to wake up to... origami animals that filled our bedroom ceiling, all hanging down to greet me good morning. As I first awoke, I could see their silhouettes in the morning light, but didn't realize what they were until I turned the lamp on. Who knew that this was the surprise that Adrian had been working on in secret this whole time? So so so neat!


But that wasn't the only surprise he had in store for me! My first birthday surprise came yesterday, when Adrian took me for a drive down to Santa Clara. He wouldn't tell me where we were going, all he said was, "Don't dress up." When we arrived, I realized why. We were going to be jumping on trampolines!

At first I was a little embarrassed, because we were definitely the oldest people there besides parents supervising their children, and one old guy. The old guy was in a maroon jumpsuit with a matching headband, and was having extreme fun jumping and twirling in one little square of trampoline for an hour.

We only got to snap one photo before the attendants busted us and made us put our camera away.

I was also really scared to try anything ambitious on the trampolines. I attempted a few front-flips, but landed on my butt every time. I tried some old gymnastics moves before finally going for a back-flip, which I was almost positive I couldn't do anymore. But Adrian kept encouraging me, "Try it! Just try it!" And guess what? I did it! My body somehow remembered the movement from like 10 years ago when I could do all that flippy stuff. After that, I was able to do a bunch of back-flips, and I started to have a lot of fun.

Today I am a little sorry for getting overzealous with the back-flips, because I think I may have injured myself. My back just ain't used to this stuff no more! I suppose that this experience just reinforces the necessity of stretching before doing anything to your body. Also, Adrian and I both got tired out really fast because we had already done our exercises for the day. Made me feel old!

But still, Adrian and I do plan to go back for more jumping, and possibly use the space to practice parkour once we learn some moves at a beginner's class next Saturday. Even the walls are made of trampoline (your can see it in the photo), so that should be lots of fun to work with.

After getting all tired out from jumping, and then Adrian insisting that I go to bed early so that he could "set up" my present, I totally forgot to write a post last night! So I feel a little bad. But hey, it's my birthday so I gotta cut myself some slack.


Well, that's all I have to say. I had better go to sleep and rest up for a new day. I really hope that my back doesn't hurt as badly tomorrow!

Goodnight, lovely people!

Adrian: Day 37, Introspective Post # 205

Last night, after Emiko had fallen asleep, I began to work on her present, stringing up the origami figures I had created on the ceiling over the bed. When she woke up this morning, she was very surprised, maybe more so than our cat, who kept swatting at the birds. When she turned the lights on, she was delighted, smiling up at the paper stars and creatures floating above her head. I wish I had taken a picture of her face at that moment. It's one of those images that I wish I could save forever.


Later in the morning, I found myself walking up and down the sidewalk, with my right hand placed over my left fist, placed over my solar plexus. I was briskly walking single file with a group of strangers. Every one of us completely silent. Each person had their eyes plastered to the lower back of the person walking in front of them. I thought we were a strange and silent parade, but the joggers and dog walkers didn't seem too interested in us. I caught myself daydreaming for a moment, and when I snapped out of it, I woke up and began to question my situation. Where am I? What am I doing here? How is it that my life has led up to this? I had no idea. I began to feel lost and alone.  But I felt like I was in a group of lost people.  Suddenly, the line slowed down. The period for walking meditation was over. We all walked back onto the Berkeley Zen Center's grounds, past the steel gate and into the zendo.

The lecture today was given by a jovial and smiling Buddha - Steve Stucky, the co-abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. He was a large, pasty, bald-headed old man.  I could see his legs through his robes, I thought to myself, "I hope that doesn't happen to my body when I get older."  But at the end of his lecture I was thinking, "What an amazing guy. I hope to be more like him when I'm older."

For the second week in a row, the lecture topic seemed to be aimed right at my thoughts, and the feelings I was having. He began the lecture with the question, "Where am I?" He went on to talk about how important it is to continually wake up to life with that question.

He told us the story about the time the forest surrounding Tassajara Zen Mountain Center was engulfed by wildfires, and everyone in the area was evacuated. He and a group of 4 other monks decided to stay, in order to fight off the fires and save what they could of the buildings and structures. He and the other monks worked intensely, sometimes for 6 hours at a time with the fire dangerously close to their eyebrows. In the end, they were able to save much of the Zen Center, but they still lost a few buildings - a couple cabins, a bathroom, and some other structures. He said that he 'grieved' over the losses. After the story, he showed us a humorous comic strip that was published in the newspaper around that time. It featured a monk greeting the fire and talking it out of burning everything down. The fire-fighters were very impressed, and a little child proclaimed that it wanted to be a 'fire-monk' some day.


The account about Tassajara was about the impermanence of life, and how we cling to the things we hold dear. We shouldn't cling, because everything around us is changing and dying. But even so, we can't just give up. Even though our lives and our relationships don't last forever, we should take care of them with the utmost of our ability while we can. What's the best way for me to take care of my life? Probably to just pay attention. To be there for whatever happens to be present in my life, rather than just letting myself float by.

That is something I'm still learning how to do, and it's been a struggle.  But I hope that if I keep at it day by day, eventually I will not be so perplexed by the question, "Where am I?" It is precisely because I take my life for granted that it passes me by and I get confused by it.

The Beatles said, "Living is easy with eyes closed". But, I've noticed that even though my eyes are open, I'm not awake. I have to keep trying though. I have to wake up, again and again.