Towards Physical Potential

During the last couple of days I’ve been giving a lot of thought towards my post from Saturday. One thing I’ve been thinking about is how I was slightly dishonest in my original post. I talked a lot about wanting to be healthy and seeing what my body’s potential is at this time in life. Those things are true, as someone who thinks science will allow us to conquer death I need to be healthy enough to get to that point, and someday I won’t have an unaltered body and I think it’d be cool to see what she can do before robotics and computers start fusing with my biological shell.

Those two reasons aren’t the full truth, part of it is my desire to be considered more conventionally attractive and sexy. It is superficial, but it is true. I also realize my own discomfort with my body plays a part in that. I think that is partly why I will be taking and sharing nude photos during this experiment, hopefully seeing some photographic changes will encourage me to keep going and continue down my path to accept and love my body. And maybe it will also help someone else. When I share these photos on my blog I will put a content warning at the top and they will be at the very bottom of the post, just in case someone wants to read my updates but do not want to see me naked.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is how this would work and when I will start. It is tempting to wait until after the bike ride to start. To have a fresh point in which it begins without other things going on in my life. That is really a pipe dream, there will always be a reason to push it off another day, week, month, or year. The time will never be perfect to get things moving. So, I’m leaning towards starting this sooner rather than later, now I just got to figure out how I’m going to go about this experiment.

Measuring inputs and outputs to gather data (because gathering data makes me happy) is gong to be one of the major challenges when I do this from the road. Taking photos and doing measurements at least once a week is easy enough. Weighing myself on a scale is pretty difficult, but weight isn’t a measurement anyway. Internal vitals (blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc) are nearly impossible to do right now. I hate to start off without a baseline or any system in place to measure these things along the way, but maybe that type of in depth analysis will need to wait. It is also easy enough to get some measurements for how my physical strength has improved by taking an Army APFT every month or two to see how my push-ups, sit-ups, and 2-mile run has improved. I’ll probably throw pull-up in there for good measure.

The inputs are easier to track. It just takes some discipline to record what I do each hour, how much time I spend sitting, biking, meditating, exercising, what foods I eat, how much water I drink, etc. Ideally I’d record it all on my computer as I do it, but that could get cumbersome so I’ll probably use a notepad and enter it later into Cronometer.com and a shared excel document.

My food plan is pretty basic. I’m going to use the information from The Blue Zones solution to plot my meals. I am also limited to being vegan because of my ethics and being on the bike ride means I don’t have access to cooking or refrigeration. I’m basically stuck with produce, bread products, and canned goods. Luckily, that is all fairly healthy as long as I avoid junk food. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so that won’t be a huge problem. I’m not going to stick to a strict calorie limit, instead I will eat when I’m hungry and try to be aware of portions. Portioning is difficult for me, particularly on the bike ride. I end up being ravenous after biking and devour more food than my body needs. I like the idea of meditative eating where you focus on the act of eating and eat slowly, in my experience I enjoy food more when I do it this way and I don’t mindlessly snack or eat.

Here is a rough idea what my ideal daily schedule will look like, based on how I generally live on the bike ride:

  • 0700 hours: Wake, eat first meal (Bowl of oatmeal, piece of fruit, handful of almonds, coffee), 10 minutes of Sun Salutations, 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation, write blog post, pack up camp
  • 0900 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1000 hours: Hummus wrap with lots of veggies, piece of fruit
  • 1045 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1145 hours: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 30 minutes exercise
  • 1245 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1345 hours:  Handful of almonds or energy bar, work for a couple hours, coffee
  • 1600 hours: Hummus wrap with lots of veggies
  • 1615 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1715 hours: Handful of almonds, 30 minutes of exercise
  • 1800 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1900 hours: Half a can of beans, lentils, or soup, hummus wrap with lots of veggies, set up camp, 10 minutes of yoga, push ups, plank

Now, I have the challenge of setting up an excel document to track everything. The big worry here is becoming a slave to the system and feeling like a failure if I miss a day or make a mistake or whatever. We will see how it goes, but I’m excited. I figure even if I only reach 50% of my input goals I will be moving in the right direction and that the project will be a success.

My photos will be shared here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-wiz3LAg756THI2dEs5S1BQQW8&usp=sharing

The excel document tracking everything is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-wiz3LAg756RnBCN1RrRUpERU0/view?usp=sharing

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6-Months Towards Potential

At some point in my life I want to spend some time (6 months? 1 year?) where I try to see what my body is capable of. Our bodies are fascinating machines and I’d love to see the potential it holds for physical strength and fitness. Basically, I want to track all my inputs and outputs, and focus on getting as fit* as possible. My inputs would fall in four basic categories: exercise, healthy food, lifestyle changes, and supplements.

Exercise is pretty self-explanatory. I will have a consistent routine of cardio and weight exercises. This includes, but is not limited to, cycling, weight-lifting, joining sports leagues, yoga, swimming, competitive obstacle courses (like Tough Mudder), and martial arts.

Food is likely even more important than exercise for this. I want to continue my vegan diet, ensure it is balanced with all nutrients and minerals that I need, and move towards a raw diet. I’m going to take as scientific approach as possible and use research to determine the best diet for me. Hopefully I can also learn to cook some awesome food in the process. I can track the progress on sites like “Cronometer.com”. Unfortunately, this means my alcohol consumption will likely need to come down.

Lifestyle Changes are little tweaks to my life that have shown some correlation with health. This includes meditation, intermittent fasting, getting enough sleep (which will require lifestyle changes like turning off the computer an hour before sleep), making sure I get up and move around at least once an hour, reading, and drinking enough water. There are probably more things that I can locate to fall into this category.

I’ll also bring supplements into play, focusing on the ones with proven results. Creatine has been heavily studied and will be the first one I use for muscle growth. I’ll add more supplements as I go and also use some nootropics.

In addition to my inputs, I want to track my results. This includes weight, blood pressure, strength, flexibility, cognitive ability, overall feeling of well-being, performance on a standard test like the Army APFT, etc. Ideally I would be able to see a doctor regularly through the process to track what is happening internally, but I don’t know if that is affordable.

I’m not sure if I could do it while on the bike ride, but I am considering it. I want to track my progress and make it public. I could use my blog and a shared google doc where I record all my daily inputs and outputs (actually, measuring outputs is likely going to happen weekly or biweekly). Ideally, I’d be able to track everything about my day and what I do and consume, even down to my bowel movements, how many hours I sit each day (and during what hours), when I have sex, have a heart rate and sleep monitor track my vitals, etc. It would be neat to see if there are any weird correlations that I could discover.

I also want to take lots of pictures to see the changes in my body. I am considering taking daily nude photos in a half dozen or so poses from different angles to track the changes. If I do this I promise to place a warning on the blog posts with the photos I share so that you don’t accidentally see a flaccid penis (I talk a lot about body positivity and the need to see “normal” people naked, I should probably put my money where my mouth is and share non-sexual nude pics myself instead of just encouraging other people to do it).

Anyway, that’s what is on my mind. I need to come up with a good plan for what my specific goals are, the specific inputs and outputs necessary to attain those goals, and a plan for tracking/sharing my progress. I’m sure in the coming weeks I will solidify my system and start sharing that, even if I decide to put it off until I finish the bike ride (though, doing it during the bike ride could be the best time because much of my activity is taken care of).

I also need to make sure I don’t become a slave to this system and start punishing myself if I slip up or have bad days. These changes are part of a journey and if I have a day where I binge eat 10 pizzas or go a week without doing pushups or decide I am mentally drained and need to reform the whole thing I shouldn’t get mad at myself. This will be an outline towards a goal, not a physical law that can’t be altered. I created it, therefore it is malleable.

* I’m using words like fit, improvement, etc very loosely here. They are based on my subjective goals and are not meant to necessarily be a sign of health. And they sure as fuck aren’t a sign of mine (or anyone else’s) value. I generally want to lose fat, gain muscle, improve physical performance, and set my internal organs up for greater health and success.

Potential

You will never live up to your potential, and neither will I.

Potential, like an ethical life, is something that we pursue even though we are destined to fail. Nobody has the will power and drive to focus solely on one thing, and even if they did there is no guarantee that you won’t realize you have greater potential than you originally imagined. In fact, I can almost guarantee you have more potential than you imagine.

Potential is a moving target. It drifts further away and in every direction as we grow and learn. As we pursue our potential we realize we have more potential in another area. The more we drive the greater the possibilities, but there is no end. And there shouldn’t be. It is the race that is important, not the finish line. The pursuit of our potential strengthens us, not the stop at the end.