Left to Right 6 week progression
Looking at the photos at first glance, there isn't a HUGE obvious difference, but looking closely, I am definitely softer and fluffier (would be great as a teddy bear! ;P - and in fact, that was one of the more flattering photos!) in the beginning, and more defined in the latter.
Also, apart from in my overall body shape, 2 places I have noticeably leaned down in are 1) my face, and 2) my, erm, "chest"! Why is it that the 2 places I wouldn't necessarily like to change, are the first places I loose fat!? ;D Geez! ;P
- Overcoming impulses & conditioned habits
- Overcoming negative self-talk and beliefs
- The process & my tendency to being IMPATIENT!
Health & Mental Effects
The mind exists in a state of "not enough", and so is always greedy for more. When you are identified with mind, you get bored and restless very easily. Boredom means the mind is hungry for more stimulus, more food for thought, and its hunger is not being satisfied.
When you feel bored, you can satisfy the mind's hunger by picking up a magazine, making a phone cal, switching on the TV, surfing the web, going shopping, or - and this is not uncommon - transferring the mental sense of lack and its need for more to the body and satisfy it briefly by ingesting more food.
Or you can stay bored and restless and observe what it feels like to be bored and restless. As you bring awarness to the feeling, there is suddenly some space and stillness around it, as it were. A little as first, but as the sense of inner peace grows, the feeling of boredom can teach you who you are and who you are not.
You discover that a "bored person" is not who you are. Boredom is simply a conditioned energy movement within you. Neither are you an angry, sad, or fearful person. Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not "yours", not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go.
Nothing that comes and goes is you.
"I am bored." Who knows this?
"I am angry, sad, afraid." Who knows this?
You are the knowing, not the condition that is known.
I never thought I was a "bored" person, especially not in the conventional sense. But really, I can see many patterns of action that serve as distractions. I can also identify that these stem from being in states of physical illness, where I would want to distract myself and my mind from physical pain and the condition I was in with my health. But these became very engrained ways of behaving, so that even in the absence of the same stimulus, I got very good at some self-sabotaging habits. In fact, it became so normal for me to feel dysfunctional, that if I ever felt the slightest bit BETTER, I would act in a way that brought me down to my "unhappiness" set-point, whether consciously or unconsciously.
It also took me back to my time in Vipassana, as we are told to observe everything that arose as sensations that pass. For 10 hours a day.... Apart from the superficial insanity of doing that for that many hours, there is beauty in the process, I swear!
And as you melt away the louder sensations, subtler ones emerge, like the shedding layers of an onion - wait, I know that doesn't sound like a beautiful process, but it is certainly an appropriate one! Like peeling onions, sometimes this makes you cry!
Well, the past 6 weeks has been like an extension of that process, tapping into the subtler sensations of my body. It's been like a training ground to see what comes up - and at first, there were many of the grosser, louder ones - ones of conditioned or impulsive behaviours, distraction and habit, observe and, like Tolle describes, bring awareness to them (NOT simply ignore them!). This allows for space and objectivity, and the opportunity to change my response. So instead of eating more out of habit, or not going to train out of poor excuses, I can choose a more empowered response in line with my goal, which in this context is to get lean and healthy. As the process goes on, it gets easier, and as I keep following the process and making those tiny steps, I keep building self-trust and efficacy - which in turn increases my chances of acting in my favour and changing my behaviour to what fits my intention. It's a liberating process! Not easy, but it has slowly and surely lead to an increased sense of happiness and confidence.
Some benefits I've noticed in bulletpoints:
- My habits and relationship toward myself are better, which translates to showing up with more kindness with others
- Not acting on impulse so much - calming the mind and creating win-win situations
- I feel happier
- i feel healthier
- My body feels more agile, easier to move and functional, as it's less "weighted down"
- EMBODYING more mindfullness
- Self-trust and self-efficacy has increased
- Inflammation has gone down
- Motivation for life has gone up
- Relationship to food has IMPROVED
- Physical strength has continued to increase overall!!! On most of my lifts I've been able to progress, or stay the same
On the whole, I feel healthier, happier, and more functional after the past 6 weeks.
Rev it up! Maintenance intake week
- Part 1: 6 Weeks between 1550-1800cals/day (gradually decreased as weeks went on), with days at 2000-2700cals around every 10th day*
- Maintenance Week n1: 7 days at maintenance energy: between 2000-2800cals
- Part 2: 6 weeks at deficit with 1 day a week at maintenance
- Deficit intake will start at 1750cals/day, and based on my body's response, will gradually decrease when needed (with the aim to keep in the highest range while still loosing fat!)
- Maintenance days will be 2000-2200, every day a week
- Maintenance Week n2: so spectacularly coincides with Christmas holidays! Well timed is all I can say ;D
- Part 3:
Why do I increase the frequency of my "maintenance" days during deficit periods, I hear you ask!?
Well, as you get leaner, it becomes increasingly hard to get lean... For me, and most women, the "rules" of fat loss kind of change when you get to around 20% body fat and under. "Eat less, move more" no longer really applies in the same way, nor works in the longterm, especially when you want to get LEAN (not "skinny"), and stay muscular, strong and healthy!
It has to do mainly with hormones, and the effect of fat loss and energy balance on physiology - and, subsequently, also psychology.
Leptin and ghrelin levels, the "hunger hormones", also tend to decrease under a certain body fat percentage, and when eating at deficit for longer periods - almost like the body is trying to say "eaaaaaat!" to stay at it's bodyweight "set point". Increasing calories to maintenance will send the signal to the body that "it's ok, we are not starving!", and increase leptin, and up-regulate a bunch of hormones that can help the metabolism and regulate hunger signals, as well as avoid any weight plateaus.
So at the beginning, as I had more body fat to loose, I could be at a larger deficit without detriment. Now I'm around 19% body fat, I need to send that "signal" of reassurance to my body more frequently, so I've gone from a refeed day every 10th day, to a refeed day every 7 days, which I'll then adjust again as I get leaner.
Training: heavy ass weights, baby!
A huge change in mentality for me has come with only structuring my training around what I really LOVE. I haven't felt motivated to go on a treadmill, do HIIT intervals on the bike, or go for a run outside in the slightest - in fact, when I did schedule it in once a week, I dreaded the thought when I woke up! So I did a weight training circuit instead, got the cardiovascular benefits, and was a much happier bunny (just NOT a cardio bunny! ;). I DO, however, walk as much as possible, get outside, and bike as transport. Those things I really enjoy, and they give me benefits outside of the physical - calmer mind, time to reflect, being in nature, etc.
This also means I have lots of variables to work with and be able to tweak to get leaner! As I mentioned above, the leaner you are, the less easy it tends to be to get leaner, and if you start a program off with ALL of the variables on full-blast: decreased calories, HIIT cardio, an hour of steady state a day, weight lifting, etc, etc, you might see initial results fast, but your body and metabolism will eventually adapt (if you don't collapse first!), leaving you with very little to tweak in order to break through a plateau. I have been there!
That's why I am being conscious in my own process this time to adjust things gradually, work with my body and metabolism as much as possible, and enjoy it as much as possible, too. The "down side"? More patience is required!... But then again, that's never a bad skill to have around ;)
Final points & take-away message
"Work diligently. Diligently. Work patiently and persistently. Patiently and persistently. And you're bound to be successful. Bound to be successful." - S.N. Goenka, Vipassana meditation teacher
- ALL GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME! Don't try to rush the process - instead, setting it up to enjoy the process as much as possible and taking it one step at a time is what I have found to be much more successful in the long run
- CONSISTENCY - the past 6 weeks has had it's fair share of IMperfect moments, but on the WHOLE I have been very consistent with what matters. Those consistent moments, however small, are what added up and compounded to create progress I am very happy with.