sleep train work rest play eat
It’s near the beginning of August (the 4th), a rest day, and my health is near 95% (which is as much as I ever expect of myself, accident prone as I am). The summer is almost over, and quite soon (within the next 12 days, in fact) school and work are returning, I’ll be going back to CrossFit Asheville, and reintegrating myself into the life of family and friends in Asheville. That makes this a good time for reflecting on what’s ahead, and for making explicit and public some of my plans and ideas about this fall.
Returning to Work and Home Life
I have utterly ignored the nagging stresses of academic work this summer. As a result, there are two outstanding academic papers I must write, four classes I must prepare, a number of websites I must update, much bureaucratic paperwork to complete, emails to answer, and, in general, a thousand items to place on the right to-do lists. Not to mention the return of a rigorous schedule of meetings, workshops, classes, office hours, etc. Add to that the to-do lists and daily grind of home life, and it becomes pretty overwhelming, at least, in contrast to the simple linear living of summer in a beach house.
Practical Strategy: manage the stress of work and home by maintaining a regular and dependable daily routine. What does that look like? I think it includes:
- every night before bed, seven days a week, creating a new list of seven, yes, seven tasks that must be completed the next day
- every day, seven days a week, forcing myself to go to bed a full eight hours before the time at which I must get up the next day
- five days a week, eliminating all non work- or family-related activities (e.g. blogs, facebook, purposeless reading, non-academic study and writing) during the hours of 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
- never ever watching purposeless TV or videos
- at least one half day a week, making explicit time to play with Lena, J.Z., Yael, and friends… preferably on the weekend
- seven days a week, eating right and training well
New Training and Eating Plan
The foundations of my eating and training plan remain solid. In other words, CrossFit and Paleo-Zone inspired clean eating, periodic fasting, limited cheats and alcohol intake. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked to weaken my commitment to these technologies of late. After all, I haven’t done a CrossFit style workout all summer long, I’ve allowed myself almost daily cheats (sugar flour grains dairy legumes), I’ve not kept to my “never on a school night” drinking plan (since, after all, school is not in session… still, I’ve been comparatively good on that front).
All that is what it is. But most disturbingly (?), I have abandoned careful record keeping with respect to my daily food intake, weight, etc. That’s right, after collecting nearly a year and a half of data in my food journal, I simply stopped, more or less cold turkey, about one week into my summer break. I simply didn’t want to find the time on a daily basis to recollect, write down, calculate, etc. I also wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t keep records. What happened was just about nothing. I cheated when I cheated, I ate when and what I ate, I lost and gained and lost weight this summer. The end result is almost status quo. I started the summer off at around 183 lbs and 15% body fat, and I’m ending up the summer at about 182 lbs and 15% body fat. I think.
So, on the plus side, I learned from this that my OCD journal making was not in fact the only thing keeping me at weight and in shape. On the negative side, I learned that not watching my intake like a hawk leads (me) to disorganized eating, excessive cheating, etc. Generally a less healthy diet.
Whatever. Status quo sounds ok at first, but in truth I am not happy with “status quo.” The state of what is not really ok. I want to live in the state of wow.
Which leads me to my practical discussion of how I’ll be training and what I’ll be eating this fall.
Practical Strategies: train and eat in as disciplined and controlled a fashion as possible, including the following components:
- Train 3-5 times per week, combining strength training and CrossFit with occasional endurance runs and bikes; times remain TBA
- Institute a seven week training cycle, with six weeks “on” and one week “off;” the first week of the first cycle will begin on Aug. 15th; N.B. this is one week longer than my previous training cycle, which I think ended up being too short; also, my new plan incorporates a more strict schedule of stress management and sleep, so overtraining will be less of a risk
- Jump-start a return to greater dietary cleanliness with 30 days of “strict” Paleo beginning Sunday, Aug. 22nd (including no alcohol and only one cup of coffee daily)
- Follow this up with a 90% Paleo, 95% clean, Zone-inspired eating plan, and a return to the never on a school night alcohol plan
- Fast one full 26 hour period 1x per calendar month (4:00 pm to 6:00 pm); first fast will be Aug. 18-19th
- Be more disciplined about my daily fast and eating window: minimum daily fast ideally should extend from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am… i.e. no more night eating, period
- Consume BCAAs prior to early morning fasted training (i.e. 5:00 am)
- Record weight and body composition data weekly
- Record training and dietary reflections in this blog, but discontinue use of the food journal unless weight increases while body composition deteriorates, or other problems arise
It remains to be stated what my goals really are for all this planning related to eating and training. I have four goals that I will admit to publicly. First, I will admit, or no longer attempt to conceal, that my training is motivated by egotism and vanity; I do want to “look good naked” as some in the CrossFit world put it. I think this goal has been a major motivating factor in my training from the beginning, and so I am going to go ahead and acknowledge it here. Second, I want to remain fit, and grow fitter for the purpose of enjoying the sports I play, especially surfing and snowboarding. Third, I want to grow stronger and faster, out of a desire to be ever more competitive in the community of athletes at CrossFit Asheville, and among the field of men in the world at large. Fourth, I want to maintain the health, vigor, and vitality of my mid-life into my old age, and possibly to increase it as I go along.
This seems like an integrated whole to me. But I’m quite sure that I’ve forgotten, somehow, to lay out one or more important practical consideration that would bring order and structure to this long term project of mine. Yet I’m equally certain that I’ll revisit, revise, streamline, and otherwise clarify this plan both before my first new training cycle begins on Sun. Aug. 15th and in the weeks to come. So for now this complicated series of lists will suffice. In spite of the complexity of this post, I do see a simple way to summarize and name the plan I’ve articulated here: sleep train work rest play eat.
All that’s required now is to apply myself, to commit to it.