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30-day Challenge + Convict Conditioning: Update #1

On Wednesday June 12th, I started a 30-day primal challenge and also began the Convict Conditioning calisthenics program in earnest. I've started and stopped it a few times in the past, but this time I am committed to keeping up with it regularly. 

If you are unfamiliar with the program, it focuses on what author Paul Wade calls the "Big Six" body-weight movements: pushups, squats, pullups, leg raises, bridges, and handstand pushups. With each exercise, there are 10 Steps you must progress through in order to achieve mastery. For example, pushups start with wall pushups and end with one-armed pushups at Step 10. 

He makes it easy enough with the Step One exercises that pretty much anyone who isn't injured or otherwise infirm can do them. And regardless of your current abilities, you are supposed to start with Step One in each category. In order to progress from Step to Step, you have to satisfy a "progression standard" --- usually 3 sets with fairly high reps in each set (e.g. pushups are 3 sets of 50). So, even though I can already do a decent number of full pushups and full squats, I'm still starting with Step One in everything.

Another key part of Convict Conditioning is the pace. You don't just slam out the reps as fast as you can go. You have to move somewhat slowly and pause briefly during each rep. This increases the difficulty of the exercises, but also helps you see gains in strength faster. My only complaint is that it can feel like it takes FOR-EV-ER to complete an exercise and it can get a little boring on the easier stuff (like the wall pushups, which were 3-4 seconds per rep x 150 reps = about 10 minutes!)

You can get a copy of Convict Conditioning from one of my affiliates, Amazon, as an ebook.

Day 1 - Wednesday

  • Exercise: Qigong right after getting up; 30 mins walking. 
  • Breakfast: fasted
  • Lunch: 1 oz beef jerky
  • Supper: 1/4 spaghetti squash, shredded, with marinara sauce and homemade beef meatballs.  Side of 1/2 bunch lacinato kale sauteed in coconut oil with 1/2 onion.

Comments: I don't break my fast for the day until I feel hungry. I think it is silly to force yourself to eat when you are not hungry just because it's "meal time". I rarely feel hungry first thing in the morning, and typically don't eat until late morning or sometimes even noon or later. I have a feeling this is going to change as I progress in the Convict Conditioning program. I'm all stocked up on eggs from pastured hens just in case :-) 

Day 2 - Thursday

  • Exercise: Qigong right after getting up; Convict Conditioning:
    1. Pushups: Step One, Wall Pushups (3 sets of 50 woo hoo! I can advance to the next level)
    2. Squats: Step One, Shoulderstand Squats (1 set of 15)
    3. Leg Raises: Step One, Knee Tucks (1 set of 15 and 1 set of 10)
    4. Pull-ups: Step One, Vertical Pulls (3 sets of 40 woo hoo! I can advance to the next level here, too! )
    5. Bridges: Step One, Short Bridge (2 sets of 25 and 1 set of 30)
  • Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled in butter
  • Lunch:  1/2 pint strawberries, 1 banana, 1 Larabar
  • Supper: Leftovers. 1/4 spaghetti squash, shredded and reheated with a touch of olive oil, with marinara sauce and homemade beef meatballs. Side of 1/2 bunch collard greens sauteed in coconut oil with fresh garlic.

 Comments: I wanted to assess my level with the Convict Conditioning exercises right off the bat. The book doesn't recommend to do so many of them in one day like this (I didn't even attempt the 6th exercise, for Handstand Pushups), but I just wanted to get a baseline.

Day 3 - Friday

  • Exercise : Qigong right after waking up; 1 hr walking
  • Breakfast: about 5 strips of bacon, bowl of pineapple
  • Lunch: fasted
  • Supper: Cubed beef tongue cooked with extra gelatin, jalapeno, tomato, red bell pepper, collards, onion, garlic, cilantro, side of Japanese sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil and mashed with butter. 1/2 avocado and 1/2 lime. 

Comments I wasn't planning on eating breakfast, but it was free at work, so I couldn't pass it up. Everyone was avoiding the bacon like it was going to kill them or something, and instead they were eating the French toast made from 27-ingredient white bread and soaked with GMO High-Fructose Corn Syrup, because that was the "healthy" option. I work at a medical school, and every day there is some sort of meeting in the conference room with catered food, and the leftover food always gets put into the employee lounge, free for the taking. 

Day 4 - Saturday

  • Exercise : Qigong right after waking up; 1.5 hrs walking
  • Breakfast: Fasted. 
  • Lunch: Bunless burger topped with bacon, red bell pepper, and onion with a few sweet potato fries on the side. 
  • Supper: Sort of a "cheat" meal (although I hate that term!) Tapioca crust pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, red bell peppers, and jalapenos. 

Comments: I did a lot of walking in the mid-day heat, and worked up quite the appetite. I was still really sore from my last bout of CC exercises, so I let myself have another rest day. 

Day 5 - Sunday

  • Exercise: Qigong right after waking up; Convict Conditioning: 
    1. Pushups: Step Two, Incline Pushup (1 set of 40, 1 set of 20, 1 set of 15)
    2. Bridges: Step One, Short Bridge (1 set of 30, 2 sets of 20)
    3. Leg Raises: Step One, Knee Tuck (1 set of 12, 1 set of 8, 1 set of 10) 
  • Breakfast4-egg omelet with mushrooms, onion, red bell pepper, and cilantro, with a side of plátanos maduros cooked in coconut oil
  • Lunch: Fasted.
  • Supper: Leftovers: cubed beef tongue cooked with extra gelatin, jalapeno, tomato, red bell pepper, collards, onion, garlic, cilantro, side of Japanese sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil and mashed with butter. 1/2 avocado and 1/2 lime. 
  • Comments: Knee Tucks are kicking my butt!

Day 6 - Monday

  • Exercise : Qigong right after waking up; 1 hr walking
  • Breakfast: Fasted. 
  • Lunch: Elevation Burger! Grass-fed beef wrapped in lettuce and topped with bacon and onions, with a side of fries cooked in olive oil. 
  • Supper: Mexican-inspired grassfed ground beef cooked with 1 onion, 4 tomatoes, 2 red bell peppers, 6 cloves garlic, 1 bunch cilantro, cumin, paprika, cayenne, oregano, salt & pepper, with a side of plátanos maduros cooked in palm shortening, red kale sauteed in coconut oil, avocado, lime. 

Comments: None. 

Day 7 - Tuesday

  • Exercise : Qigong right after waking up; 1 hr walking
  • Breakfast: Large bowl of fruit: 1 orange, strawberries, blueberries
  • Lunch: Romaine lettuce wraps/boats topped with avocado, Applegate Farms pepperoni, red bell pepper, cucumber. 
  • Supper: Leftovers. Mexican-inspired grassfed ground beef cooked with 1 onion, 4 tomatoes, 2 red bell peppers, 6 cloves garlic, 1 bunch cilantro, cumin, paprika, cayenne, oregano, salt & pepper, with a side of bok choy sauteed in sesame oil with tamari sauce.

Comments: None.

Day 8 - Wednesday

  • Exercise : Morning: Qigong right after getting up; 1.5  hrs tandem kayaking in Biscayne Bay. Evening: Convict Conditioning Squats, Step One: Shoulderstand Squats (1 set of 50, 1 set of 15, 1 set of 30).
  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, strawberries, blueberries, black grapes
  • Lunch: Sort of "cheat" meal: pabellon criollo, the national dish of Venezuela. Slow-cooked shredded chicken cooked with garlic and red bell pepper, plátanos maduros  white rice, and caraotas negros (black beans). 
  • Supper: Raw aged gouda cheese with lentil flour crackers. 

Comments: Was famished after kayaking and ate a huge lunch, just wasn't that hungry for supper. I made a mistake with the shoulderstand squats: I did them directly on the hard tile floor of my condo, and I think I bruised my neck by doing that. After the first set, I moved to my cushioned yoga mat (which also serves as our floor couch).  

Day 9 - Thursday

  • Exercise : Qigong right after getting up
  • Breakfast: 4-egg omelet with 2 strips bacon, onion, red bell pepper, and kale.
  • LunchRomaine lettuce wraps/boats topped with avocado, Applegate Farms pepperoni, red bell pepper, cucumber. 
  • SupperLeftovers. Mexican-inspired grassfed ground beef cooked with 1 onion, 4 tomatoes, 2 red bell peppers, 6 cloves garlic, 1 bunch cilantro, cumin, paprika, cayenne, oregano, salt & pepper, with a side of bok choy sauteed in sesame oil with tamari sauce.

Comments: I woke up very hungry, from not having a full supper the night before. Needed a break from exercise today. 

Day 10 - Friday

  • Exercise:  1 hr walking
  • Breakfast:  Large bowl of fruit with strawberries, blueberries, and grapes
  • Lunch:  Another "cheat" meal out: Chicken taquitos and black beans with some house-made chips with awesome salsas, one made with pasilla de Oaxaca chiles, the other a tomatillo salsa verde. Probably not non-GMO corn, but I know that the restaurant keeps the ingredients super simple with the house-made chips and tortillas. 
  • Supper: After a big (and late) lunch, wasn't hungry. 

Comments: Meant to do some CC today, but didn't get around to it. 

Looking back over these 10 days, I feel pretty good. I only ate out for 4 meals and only had grains or legumes twice (rice & beans one day and corn & beans another). I am also happy with my progress so far with Convict Conditioning and I am very motivated to continue with the program. One thing I wish I had done was record which Qigong exercises I did each morning. I'll do that from now on. I would also like to get back into the habit of practicing Qigong twice per day, so I'll make that a goal for the coming week. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!       


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