What’s up guys, week 7 of the 60 day challenge is officially down, which means I’ve only got 1 more week to go.
This week was…underwhelming. Again. Fortunately, it was underwhelming for reasons which, in hindsight, are obvious, and provide some valuable insights and learned lessons.
Here’s the weigh in from this week:
LAST WEEKS WEIGHT: 67.3 KG (148.06 Pounds)
THIS WEEKS WEIGHT: 67.1 KG (147.6 Pounds)
WEIGHT LOST THIS WEEK: 0.2 KG (0.44 Pounds)
LAST WEEKS WAIST: Just Over 80 CM (31.5 Inches)
THIS WEEKS WAIST: Just Over 80 CM (31.5 Inches)
FAT LOST FROM THE WAIST THIS WEEK: No Change
So, there’s two main observations here. While the weigh in and measurement was no doubt disappointing, it’s still positive when taken in the context of the challenge as a whole.
My goal was to go from 16 percent body fat to 12 percent body fat. According to the numbers, I’ve gone from an 85 cm waist to an 80 cm waist, which (for my height and neck circumference) means that I’m already at 12 percent body fat. The before and after pictures indicate this as well.
Any fat loss from here is just icing on the cake.
That said, it doesn’t change the fact that this week was disappointing. But it also wasn’t at all unexpected when I stepped on the scale.
Similar to week 6, I did well during the week, but poorly on the weekend. I had a fairly gluttonous evening on Saturday. Then on Sunday, I went COMPLETELY off the rails.
Story Time: I’ve been living in Asia now almost exclusively since 2011. When you spend this long in a country (or in my case countries) with cuisine that’s so radically different from what you grew up with, something interesting happens.
At first, you crave all the food you loved from back home that you took for granted…and that you now don’t have immediate access to.
After the first few years or so of roast beef and pizza (GOOD pizza) dreams, something interesting happened. The cravings started to subside. I thought about them less and less, and my once old favourite meals were replaced by my new favourite, local meals.
But there will always be the hold-outs. Your not going to completely override 25 years of cultural culinary programming.
One of the weirder things I miss from back home that’s really tough to find here- Reese’s Peanut Cups.
I. Love. Reese’s. Fucking. Peanut. Butter. Cups.
Last week, my lovely mother sent me a Christmas package from Canada. Inside the box, in addition to all manner of gifts, was, quite literally, a months supply of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
So I took them and put them in my refrigerator. I went about my Sunday, and then went to bed.
AS SOON as my head hit the pillow…all I could think about were those goddamn Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In the fridge. 25 feet away from my mouth.
I tried to fight it and sleep. But it was no use. Within an hour, the fight was over, and the ghost was given up.
That night, I ate 15 cups. 15. That’s five 3 packs. 1300 calories.
And the problem with highly processed chocolate is that it’s not exactly filling, so by the time I was finished, I was still hungry. So I made a massive plate of pasta. Another 800 calories.
So tack 2100 calories on top of a Sunday in which I already went over my calories, on top of a Saturday night where I went way over my calories.
Yeah…I knew this weigh in wasn’t going to be good. Thank god the weekdays went well and I did my intermittent fasting. Frankly, all things considered, I should be happy I lost that half pound.
1. Don’t Keep Dessert In The House
This is something that I already knew, and a strategy that I’ve implemented for years. When I was living in Japan, one of things I noticed was that a lot of things at the grocery store were sold not as one large unit, but in little, individual, single serving packages.
So for example, rather than sell a big pail of ice cream, most of the time they would just sell little mini containers.
While this might be super shitty for the environment, it was invaluable for my diet. If I wanted ice cream, I’d just walk to the store and buy a little pack of ice cream. I didn’t have to buy a week’s supply and have it sitting in my freezer taunting me.
Lesson (re)learned. The next day I took the rest of the those Peanut Butter Cups and put them in my desk at work. I don’t get craving during the day. It’s an evening thing for me.
2. Lack Of Sleep Drains Your Will Power
About a month ago, my roommate got bronchitis. Amazingly, it took a whole two weeks of him hacking his lungs out and me having to mention it for him to go to the doctor.
Obviously I felt bad for him (I’m not a total asshole). But the walls in our house are thin, and trying to sleep when you’re listening to someone coughing nonstop is not fun.
A month in, and it still hasn’t totally gone away. While it no longer sounds like he has tuberculosis, he’s still got a low grade cough. At this point, it’s kinda like listening to a leaky water faucet. It might not be loud, but it’s driving me fucking crazy. And it’s affecting my sleep.
My experience, and I think most people’s experience, is that good sleep is critical to healthy eating.
I’m much more susceptible to overeating when I’m exhausted.
Lucky for me I leave for a month of vacation starting in a week. Knock on wood, but I’m pretty sure bronchitis doesn’t last two months…
3. Your Emotional Health Affects Your Physical Health (The Biggest Factor)
A few months ago, I wrote a post on the importance of lifestyle and maintaining your emotional health if you want to get and stay lean. It was inspired by my experience in late 2012 and early 2013 of regaining most of the weight that I had previously lost.
In August of this year, I moved back to Korea after 3 years of living in Japan.
Japan was good to me- REALLY good to me. I absolutely loved the last 3 years of my life there.
The reason that I left had nothing to do with enjoyment and everything to do with getting shit done. While in many ways I feel like I accomplished a lot in Japan, one of the problems was that while Japan was good to me, it was becoming a little too good.
Over the last year in particular, I’ve spent a lot of time going out, and unfortunately, it was getting to the point where it was preventing me from taking on a lot of projects that I’d been sitting on (including my fitness goals and developing this site).
So when my contract was up in August, I decided that it would be a good idea to take a break from a country that provides so many wonderful distractions. I took my current job in Korea with the understanding that I’d be working in the public school system of one of the country’s more rural provinces.
I figured it would be perfect. I had wanted to come back and spend another year in Korea anyway, and by being in a small town rather than somewhere like Seoul (a behemoth of a city with it’s own wonderful distractions), I’d have plenty of time to get these projects done.
Well, it worked. I’ve probably accomplished more in the last 4 months than in the last year-and-a-half combined.
What I wasn’t prepared for though was the isolation. Unfortunately, when you work for a public school in Korea, they can send you anywhere they want within the province you’re employed by.
In my case, that means a small island of 5000 people.
I won’t tell you which island, but in order to get there, you need to take a 40 minute ferry.
Between the boats and the buses, it’s about 8 hours from Seoul or Busan (or any city worth going to).
And no, it’s definitely not a tropical island like you’re probably thinking.
To be honest, for the first 3 months or so, the isolation didn’t bother me. I’ve been so immersed in my projects and fitness that I didn’t really notice.
But over the last month or so, it’s really been getting to me. The fact that it’s winter and the weather is dark and shitty probably isn’t helping.
Anyway, that was quite the ramble, but the point is this- over the last few weeks, I’ve really noticed the effect it’s having on my health and diet.
Dragging my ass to the gym after work has gone from being something I looked forward to, to a struggle.
The cravings have intensified. The little bullshit treats that I had no trouble avoiding a month ago have gotten harder and harder to say no to.
Will power is a finite resource. You only have so much of it throughout the course of a day. And my experience has been that when your negative emotions start to pile up, it can really drain that will power tank.
This past weekend was the apex of it. The frustration of dealing with the bullshit at my job (another story for another time) plus the lack of socialization (let’s just say that upon my now roommate and I arriving on this island to teach, the North American, English-speaking population shot up 200%), plus the little daily annoyances of living here finally added up to the point where I hit the wall (and the chocolate).
I talked about this in the aforementioned post, and it’s absolutely true- your environment is everything.
How To Fix The Problem?
I’m not writing all this to try to garner sympathy or complain. On the contrary, over the past week I’ve been reflecting on it.
How can I learn from this?
What are the mistakes I made that I should avoid next time?
Are there any positives here that I haven’t considered?
One of the positives that I hadn’t thought of until today is the sheer accomplishment factor. I’ve always struggled with procrastination. Looking back on the last 4 months, I’m shocked how much work I’ve gotten done and how many important skills I’ve developed.
But I’ve also learned what I’m capable of. I now know that, when push comes to shove and I need to get shit done, that I can go underground for several months with minimal socializing.
In the last 4 months, I’ve only gone to Seoul and Busan to spend time with friends 3 or 4 times.
The flip side is that I now know my limits. I know that I can only be in this extreme state of isolation for a few months max. Although I’m an introvert by nature, I love socializing and being around people.
If I were to spend a whole year doing this, I would literally go insane.
So, in the interest rectifying these issues, I’ve made a few changes.
1. Take A Vacation: This is something I had planned anyway. I have all of January off of work, so really this is perfect timing. I leave
shitty quiet little island on January 31st.
I’ll be spending a few days up in Seoul, followed by a week in Cebu to get some quality sun and relaxation time in. After that, I’ll be in Japan for at least two weeks to catch up with some friends and, well, bask in Japan.
This will be a MUCH needed recharge for me, especially considering that in February I’ll be starting my 2nd 60 day challenge to get down to 8 percent body fat.
2. Take Regular Trips To The Big Cities: While taking the time to strategically place myself away from distraction has certainly paid off in terms of output, it’s obviously taken it’s toll. I don’t regret the last four months at all. It was the right decision at the time.
But if I’m going to get through both the next 60 day challenge in February and the rest of my contract, I need to make my social life a more of a priority. And for me that will mean making sure I go at least two weekend a month to either Seoul or Busan and spend time some time with friends.
3. Establish A Better Sleep Schedule And Set Up A Morning Routine: Even before my roommate got sick, my sleep wasn’t the best. I tend to go to sleep later than I should and, largely because of the cold weather, stay in bed in the morning as late as I possibly can.
Obviously that needs to change. I’ve noticed that when I wake up well before I have to be at work and bang out an hour or so of my “passion projects” that I tend to not only be more productive for the rest of the day, but I also tend to eat better.
There’s something about getting up and going through the motions of a morning routine that just leads to a better day. I’ve experimented with morning routines in the past, but always fallen off the wagon. Time to establish a new one.
I was lazy AF this week about taking pictures. I also accidentally deleted a few of them. Sorry gang. Here’s a couple though.