Quarantine Workouts

Its been a while since I’ve last written. I hope you all have been well. As I think back to the past long weeks with our Stay-At-Home order, I’ve seen tons of growth. When this all started out, I had a bad allergy outbreak. My throat was so sore I couldn’t swallow without lots of pain. I struggled teaching yoga classes since it hurt to talk. So I took a few days off from work. Then, the day I came back to work, Corona had started to take off and my Boss required me to work from home. I grabbed a few folders of work and my laptop and headed home. Never in my wildest dreams would I think it would be extended this long since the lockdown began.

To be honest, since this started out with me being sick, I was already in a sick mindset. If you know me, I’m still doing things when I’m sick since I feel good blood circulation and getting the lymph moving is important to health. Even if I’m just walking, light running, or even strength workouts, then that’s what I’m doing. I’m also taking hot Epsom salt baths and lots of soups. I don’t mess around when it comes to healing. It still took about a month for my seasonal allergy to be relieved.

The problem, when I started working from home, I wasn’t very focused. It was temporary, right? So I was making do with the time already expecting I wouldn’t be very productive. I was also working on a big contract so that kept me focused. But I wasn’t getting all the bang out of my bucket of time.

On the personal side, I was going about 3 days without a shower or shave. I wouldn’t really change clothes either. I was pretty gross. I chocked it up to being sick. But it was probably a little mental too. I was working out a little, but not very well. And I was eating like crazy. Every walk through the kitchen meant I stuffed something in my belly. After the first week, I realized I had to change something. I started into a more regular schedule of working out twice a day and taking a shower every day. I was lifting heavy stuff and I could feel strength and size increasing. I justified my eating as bulking. I even thought about reaching 200 pounds for the first time in my life. Then I’d cut back.

Native Americans are often predisposed to diabetes. Actually, I don’t know if I’d call it as much of a predisposition as a cultural lifestyle thing. But much of my family has been plagued with this disease. My younger brother and Dad both have type 2 diabetes. So as I was playing games about reaching 200 pounds, I started to think, "what if I got diabetes while playing this game?" And both of these close family members had heart attacks too. It was time to stop playing games. It was time to clean up my body and mind.

In the 2nd week of quarantine, my yoga studio, which had closed, also started broadcasting Zoom yoga classes and I was asked to take a day. So on Saturdays, I teach a 10am class. With my nearly 200# of bodyweight, I could really feel my yoga suffering. So two days later (the day after Easter), I decided to go strict [again]. I got back on the FatSecret app. Its one of many tools that I find incredible. I started tracking what I was eating. No more handfuls of GORP as I passed through the kitchen. No more eating a full plate of dinner then a full plate of leftovers the next day. No more adding a cheese Danish to my cart when I shopped for groceries. FatSecret hides no secrets. It tells the truth. And it also tells how many calories you burn with your various activities. I’ve been eating between 1,400 to 1,800 calories per day (kcal). I also try to include colorful veggies and healthy fats. I still try to restrict carbs and be a bit Keto. I feel better and have better clarity when I don’t have carbs (aka sugars) clouding my brain.

The other biggie is going back on the Zero app. I know most people can Intermittent Fast (IF) without a tool. But I find it helps me keep track. I’m an analytical person anyway. My minimum is 13 hours and I probably do that 80% of the time. Sometimes I fast up to 16 hours; not intentionally, but sometimes I’m just not hungry and I don’t eat right away. Now for people who Poo-Poo the idea of IF, its not about doing something that’s a fad. The bunny veggie people talk about eating many meals throughout the day. They say it keeps your metabolism up. That’s a crock!! For people predisposed to diabetes, its about constant insulin being cranked out through both eating frequently and eating carbs/sugars. The opposite is having big breaks in eating (IF) and very few carbs. That makes you more insulin sensitive and your system works properly. But IF also encourages fat burning because without glucose in your blood, your body turns to fats. And that’s an amazing side effect. Sometimes I’ll break my fast with something Keto, so I am really extending my insulin fast.

Now I haven’t even talked about working out. Kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. Like I said, I was doing 2 strength workouts a day the first weeks of quarantine. I was also following a split that was horizontal vs. vertical. Horizontal means things you do with your body parallel to the ground: bench press, flyes, bent over rows, cable rows, situps, back extensions… Vertical is: squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, dips, pullups. I still like this idea and maybe unintentionally follow this. I would always workout before I ate so I’m fully digested. I would do a strength workout before lunch and a CrossFit metcon before dinner.

So as I take you to current time and a few weeks of this, I’m 7.5 pounds lighter (maybe more since I haven’t weighed in for a couple days). I feel amazing. I am especially focused in the morning when I’m fasting and get so much of my work done. I’m doing a lot of yoga throughout the day. And my workouts are amazing. Before lunch, I do a fasted cardio of either weighted treadmill walking/running, ski erging, or rowing. Before dinner, I do a CrossFit workout. It follows this scheme:
Strength movement (Squat, deadlift, other). I try to stick to 10-20 mins.
Metcon – usually a 21-15-9 or AMRAP (as many reps a possible); 5-12 mins.
Accessory – often a skill movement or bodybuilding specific, <10 mins.

I have a Google Keep sheet on my phone. When I think of something or see something from YouTube or elsewhere, I jot it down on my workout list. I routinely review the list and move things I need to do right away to the top. Those ideas turn into workouts. I’ve had the best workouts of my life. I feel great. And I’m super productive. I’ll be happy to get back to the office, but I know what’s possible at home too. It has all been a growing process for me.

If you are at all curious about my day, this is how it looks:
Wake – yes by my Sleep App. It wakes me between 0445 – 0515 am.
Brush teeth, barefoot walk with dogs, coffee, watch news, social media.
0630 – work – usually reading, assimilation, the grind.
(frequent coffee breaks, loving my pups, get sunlight, fly my drone)
1130 – fasted cardio (if not a keto breakfast in the late morning)
Noon – eat with dogs & wife – often just a protein shake or salad.
1230 – work; or power nap 10-15 mins, then work
1530 – post work chill, drink iced tea, watch motivational YouTube fitness.
1600 – CrossFit workout; shave/shower; fresh clothes.
1700 – healthy dinner; often begin fast, or have a snack early, then fast.
p.m. – watch TV, yoga wheel, lacrosse ball self massage, yoga stretching.
2030 – go to bed; read either smartphone with red screen or use red lens headlamp to read a book. No white or blue light.

Making (Efficient) Shapes

Do you remember seeing Phoebe from Friends running with Rachel? It cracks me up. The video is here: https://youtu.be/2QNTp6IiFxE

While we can laugh at this, there are actually people who are not far from her running form. As I sit at my home office in quarantine, I am looking out a window to the front of my house. A lady ran by that made me think of Phoebe. Her knee lift, foot kick behind, and exaggerated running arms were way overboard.

I studied running form from a very early age. As a little kid, my Dad would take us to the KU Relays at the University of Kansas. It is a central event that often shapes athletes for the Olympics. I saw many amazing athletes there. I was in awe of their efficiency of movement. The power of the sprinters. The strides of long distance athletes. And all the nuances in the field events. It led me to become a middle distance runner and discus thrower myself. I was the smallest thrower in our region. The reason I could compete was because I studied how to perfectly rotate in the ring. For those in the know, you know what I mean. It was technique over strength and size.

I had as many books as I could get a hold of. I had Jim Fixx’s running book. I read Runner’s World and anything else I could find. But mostly, I watched other people. Then I tried to mimic what they were doing. Then I would hold events in our huge yard. Yeah yards probably seemed huge as a kid. But ours was really large. Having spent countless hours on a riding mower makes me think its true. I mapped out a 1/4 mile loop and held events with all the neighbor kids. I would teach them how to run with more efficiency. The older kids and the older brothers and sisters would laugh at me. They called me "teach" since I was always teaching people.

Something else that honed my abilities early on was Hawaiian Kenpo Karate. You do a punch and the teacher comes around and adjusts your position. Same for kicks. Over and over your positions are critiqued. Its all about having a solid stance and creating more power. I practiced Karate for several years and it shaped my life in so many ways.

Funny story: When I was stationed in Germany with the Army, there was a group of inner city guys who were all into boxing. They did the amateur on-post competitions. If they qualified, they went to Europe-wide events. They won medals and wore them around the barracks when they were in civilian clothes. In those days, we all got along pretty well when we were in uniform. But it got bad sometimes when we were out of uniform. Some of these black boxers became bullies and were pretty mean to people. Well, during one Oktoberfest, there was a carnival just up the hill from our post. There were fun rides and the regular carnival scams. They had one of these boxing bags that recorded how much force you hit it with. We were watching all the boxing guys trying to outcompete each other. So I decided to step up to the bag. I totally creamed those guys. From my karate as a kid, I knew how to focus my force onto the bag. Much of force comes from good technique. It was also a lot of fun to knock these guys down a notch, though I’m sure they would out-box me without a problem. But I was a wrestler, so I never worried about that. As long as you can take a first punch, a wrestler will always win.

When I got into CrossFit, I watched all the videos in the CF archives. I studied bar path, how to run even better (like the Pose technique), and how to row more efficiently. I learned how to do butterfly kipping pull-ups and muscle ups on my own. But the most technical of everything I’ve ever done is Olympic lifting. Like I said, most of how I learn is by watching. And as much as I’ve studied and trained, my technique is still way off. So even though I can see inefficiencies, it doesn’t mean I’ve made my body perfect in this regard. However, I can surely see it, especially as I see myself do an Olympic snatch. I still have much room for improvement.

Now, as a yoga teacher, I see even more. I know exactly where the energy and focus (through drishti) is directed. I can picture the anatomy of a person while they are in a pose. I can see what is weak, what is strong, and what can be changed. It is super important for me to be able to do that.

I hear a lot about the narcissism of social media platforms like Instagram. But for yoga, I’ve found pictures to be invaluable. There are many things I didn’t realize about myself before seeing a picture. That’s not to say I want mirrors in a yoga studio, because I am totally against that. I know dancers find them useful for the same reasons. But the mind-body connection in yoga where we are focusing inwardly would find mirrors to be a huge distraction. However, in personal practice, pictures can be super helpful. You compare NOT to see that you are less than someone else or to make yourself frustrated. You compare to see how you can improve what you are doing. Then the mental picture allows your muscle memory to make that shape again.

Take pictures and video of yourself. Or, if you are a coach or teacher, take pictures and video of your students so you can study and share with your student what they are doing. Apps like Coaches Eye allows you to slow a video down and write on the screen to show lines and energy. When you learn how to be more efficient, you become faster, stronger, and more defined in what you do.