August 19, 2010

Is this the end? Part Two

Now, about the food. To be honest I have to say that I wasn't 100% faithful to the no sugar, no alcohol rule. It would have been interesting to see how much more my body could improve on a strict diet. The positive thing is that PCP nutrition is so good that I learned to love it and I eat like that every day. I don't weigh food anymore, except when I don't trust my eye or have a lot of time. I don't crave big portions of sweets and I naturally choose veggies instead of processed food. But I didn't want to say no to a glass of wine for dinner or to a delicious cookie a friend just baked.
I decided to trust myself and see how much I had learned about nutrition. I let myself free and I'm very proud of the choices I make. I know that I'm ready to navigate "normal life" with all its temptations and social gatherings. 

Having learned how to eat correctly during PCP and working out in the morning proved that I didn't have to spend so much time on this project, which was liberating. The only aspect that suffered was the blog; this time I had to concentrate on my job more than ever, it was summer and I moved to another country. Blogging was specially hard for me because writing about very subtle and small improvements seemed uninteresting.

To my relief the angry monster didn't awake during KFB. I remember how rebel and infuriated I was during PCP. Well, this time I felt calmer, I was able to deal gracefully with a stressful situation and now there's a feeling of strength inside me: I can say "no" easily (Emily, I needed the contrary!) and I recognize better when I need my own space and my own terms. In other words: I feel cool.

Another important achievement is the sense of confidence I have that if the occasion should arise, and believe me that I wish with all my heart that It doesn't, I would be able to at least throw a good kick. That makes a world of difference to me and I didn't know it before KFB.

Achtung, baby!

Final Thoughts:
KFB is a very good training program. It's fun, hard, revealing, humbling and makes you stronger, leaner and more flexible.
It requires a certain level of fitness because the workouts are tough.
It's better if you have a bigger place to train, specially when it's freestyle kicking time.
Except for the pull-ups bar, this is a portable and flexible training method.
Nothing gives you leaner and harder abs than all those kicks and leg rises.
Punching makes your arms beautiful.
Since you only need your body and some chairs, this is a great program if you like to go outside for a good workout.

A good park has it all

Some Suggestions:
As a former PCPer, I would have liked to learn more about nutrition, new secrets and have little challenges to see if we could push the diet to another level. Is there another level? A super nutrition system? A super zen diet?

Maybe one week out of three, or once every week, to keep KFBers alert and playful, introducing a whole bunch of exercises with all kinds of props, like the double punches with stones; something like balancing while holding some china... but definitely not carrying bucks of water with dagger bracelets under the arms.

Some way of keeping track of progress. Fat level, monthly photo, a special test to perform every week?

I was expecting some special weekly tasks announced at the beginning. I imagine they were going to be exciting little exercises to apply mindfulness during ordinary situations.

What comes next?
I'm taking a break. I needed to stop training for a few days after these intense and fantastic eight months of exercise. I'm very excited to see what maintenance plans Patrick is preparing for us.
As soon as my body gives approval I will begin to workout again. I'm thinking about a combination of PCP, KFB and yoga.

So, this is not the end. It's the beginning.

Patrick and Chen, thanks for considering me for this project. Congratulations on this great idea. I know that soon you will have the KFB working better and rounder.

Note: Unfortunately, I'm recovering from the worst cold of my life, so I won't be able to post a final photo today. But I will as soon as I get better.

Is this the end?

These past 90 days of KFB have passed very fast and are hard to describe. As Patrick said, the results of KFB are subtler and thus, harder to grasp and explain.

I'll try to explain as best as I can what happened during the 90 days and since it's going to be a long reflection, I'll make this a two parts tale with photos of my outdoors training at the lovely Wittener Park some three weeks ago.

flying like a crane

I loved the idea of joining the pilot KFB group because I was thrilled with the results of PCP and I felt that I didn't want to stop there, my body wanted to keep on exercising and it's always fun to join brilliant people on their new adventures.

I have to admit that I was ready for the daily training but not so eager to be strict with food weighing or not having summer treats. I guess that's my old mind set and body wanting to take a break from the hard time that PCP was.

I was also a little afraid that this new training period would consume as much time and focus as the PCP, which I couldn't afford this time. And on the emotional level I was also a bit tense to think that my angry monster would wake up again.
There was only one way to find out so I signed in and the fun began.

From the first day I loved the exercises. They were a great way to use all the strength and muscle I have gained plus facing new challenges like improving balance, endurance and coordination. 
At times I felt discouraged with the new exercises. How clumsy I felt the first session with the ping pong ball or never being able to knock down the paper; and how ridiculous I must look at the freestyle mix sets.
But as soon as I understood that it was only natural to suck at something I have never done, exercising  turned into a fun moment and the next time I enjoyed it. So I learned the beauty of sucking at something, giving it a try anyway and improving. A big lesson for my ego.

I swear I can do at least 10 push ups per set

I also learned to workout first thing in the morning. I can only recommend it. You feel invigorated and begin the day doing something great for yourself.

The KFB exercise routine has a peculiar effect. With the weeks you begin to feel that it is always the same. Same moves, same sets, same combinations. This has the risk of making you loose interest. But on the other hand, those fixed exercises are never easy. You never feel like you have mastered the moves or that you finish the sets without effort. There's always something to improve; as a result, everyday feels different. So I think that for our cluttered and fast internet / tv / stress loaded minds doing the same simple thing over and over again is the hardest challenge. In this way I learned patience and constancy.

On the physical level I can say that my body did change. I shrank. I need to buy a smaller size of pants, my core section is harder than ever and my arms are thinner but stronger. Not as spectacular as last time, but these are the kind of changes that make you smile alone and want to keep on improving.
I'm sure my cardiovascular resistance has improved, but as I mentioned before, I still have to get used to this Andean atmosphere to see how much I gained.

mhhh... I need to work on the posture!

On the flexibility level my results are moderate. I can stay the 30 long minutes on the wide angle and it's wider than weeks ago, but I still have a lot of work to do. The tips Patrick gave us were very helpful to make the stretching sessions a mindful moment and obtain results. I also learned that flexibility is what takes more time and effort to attain.

Meditation was an important component of the training. How simple it is to sit down and shut up for 5 minutes and at the same time how hard. This short daily practice has opened a new universe to me. I feel like I have only touched the shore of an immense ocean. Now I want to train my mind as hard as my body and get amazed. Any recommendations on how to get deeper on meditation?

Tomorrow: second part

August 8, 2010

New home and an extra challenge

Hi dear KFBers,

Sorry for being silent during so many days. I'm finally back home and more or less organized again. Ready to begin a new adventure in my life. But first I will have to take a break from moving objects for some days and find a quiet place to meditate for a longer time. I need to feel and decide what to do in the future.

You may not know this but Bogotá, my hometown, is high on the Andes, at 8660 feet over the sea level, which means there's not much oxygen to fill your lungs and the pressure is tough on your body. I knew it would be hard to train at this altitude so I began easy during this past week. On the second day, jumping for 5 minutes was all I could do. After some kicks came the dizziness. Meditation was tricky for all the new and potent sounds this city is able to produce.

I have been adapting to this new atmosphere during the week and last Friday those long jump sets were a success. What seems more difficult is to adapt quickly to a very different way of life, to go from the heat of German summer to the cloudy, rainy coldness of the Andes. I will have to work hard on becoming more flexible in that sense.

July 21, 2010

I made a pause

First of all, thank you dear KFBers for your encouragement. Your words made me smile and gave me energy.
Which brings me to how crucial it is to write and get feedback on our blogs. It would be very easy to just forget about getting into better shape without this space.

Now, I have to confess that I haven't been doing my workout for the past couple of days. My excuse would be that I am feeling very tired with all this packing and coordinating. 
I don't know, I just wake up feeling heavy, open my computer to see the day's exercises  and my body says: no thanks. Then, Pablo invites me for a long walk from our place to the woods and the little lake, where it is fresh and beautiful and where I finally wake up. I eat an apple and immediately feel even better. While I walk and talk to Pablo about the things that we will miss from Germany and the plans for the future, I do some stretches, some jumps, some balance tests. I end up sweating and feeling very good. Ready for a powerful breakfast.

That's why I have decided that tomorrow I will incorporate and adapt more KFB exercises into my morning walk. It will bring a change into the workout routine and my body won't protest!

I also need to stop sometime during the day for a meditation session to calm my mind and see if I feel less anxious.

July 14, 2010

I need more power!

Yesterday I woke up early to a fresh morning and trained really hard. After that I proceeded to several hours of cleaning, selecting, washing kitchen appliances, disposing of glass and paper and packing. All of that in a sunny summer day under 35 degrees of temperature. I had the fury and the power!

A strange way to spend a nice summer day, you might say, and it's true, but at last the moment has come for Pablo and me to go back home. By the end of this month I will be arriving in Bogotá with only two suitcases and great memories of these years in Germany. So I need to get rid of my possessions and clean up my apartment. 

Well, after that tough day of physical activity and emotional detachment I woke up this morning feeling less powerful. I couldn't do today's workout complete. I simply didn't have the energy. Only 2 sets of every exercise, no meditation because the church bells were too loud, and I was not very enthusiastic to continue the packing process. 
I have to confess that yesterday's intense labour kept my attention from having all the food I had to. On top of that the heat and the anxiety are making me loose the appetite.

More physical effort and less food is not a good combination, I know. So as an exercise on mindfulness I will take better care of my body through this demanding time. But if you have special recipes for en extra power kick, please, tell me.

I'm very excited about the variations we'll have in our KFB workouts!

July 9, 2010

Not very hungry

Dear KFBers, has your appetite diminished considerably with the heat? 
I feel like I only want to have very small portions, no bread, no cooking!

I need new recipes to prepare carbs that taste fresh and cold. Do you have a fresh way to eat carbs for breakfast?

About the wide angle stretch: The extreme heat may have helped me widen the angle but it also made the minutes last forever. I'm considering sitting on a folded blanket while doing this stretch to see if my back does't bent forward in a C.

I hope you enjoy the day and stay hydrated.

July 8, 2010

The trip to Holland was amazing. Rotterdam and Amsterdam are fantastic cities. The first with experimental architecture and wide open spaces and the second with old buildings and very crowded.

Rotterdam's Erasmus Bridge

I enjoyed a lot these days but staying true to KFB was very difficult. I didn't workout. Mostly because I felt I had no time with so much to see in the city. Then, there was no space in the places I was staying and going to a park with the intense heat was not an option. But mostly because I was very tired of walking all around the cities. By the end of the day my feet were hurting really bad.

The positive is that I felt the advantage of being fit. You can take a few days off if necessary and use the energy you have acquired, trust your body, feel alive.

Now, about the food.  This region of Europe has great cheese and bread and that's mostly what they eat. So we ate a lot of sandwiches and to my surprise aged, strong cheese isn't that appealing to me any more.
As a protein source I had a traditional raw marinated herring as often as I could. I would say you really have to like fish to find the Haring Matjes delicious. I did!

A haring matjes makes you feel strong!

I had some beers, had to try the dutch apple tart, which is truly delicious, and drank a lot of coffee.

In general I felt that my nutrition during the trip was poor. If you can't afford to go to a good restaurant it's hard to get your vegetables and lean protein. But in the middle of this carb loaded menus something magical happened: I bought cucumbers and peppers, ate them voraciously and a few minutes later I was feeling cool, light, energized. Like if a torrent of vitamins was reaching every cell of my body (and this is not a coffeeshop induced experience!).  My love for peppers grew stronger and wilder.

Now, some photos for my KFBers:

The old Delft canal in Rotterdam

Rotterdam has beautiful little harbors all around

and liquid houses

A quiet street in Amsterdam

Women in Amsterdam look very sexy because they drive this flower powered vehicles

Now I'm back, loving clean food and tough workouts. 

Note: Emily, the home made banana ice cream is fantastic!