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I have reached the end of my 30 day yoga challenge.  I’ve done a supported headstand every day for 30 days straight.  This was a great challenge and I feel I’ve reached a great mile stone.  To do anything 30 days in a row is quite an accomplishment.  So what did I learn?

Day 1 was rocky to say the least.  I could get in to a headstand but not very well.  In fact, I have a camera app called Blink which takes several pictures in rapid succession.  I had my wife use this app to get a picture of me with my feet straight up and had to pick the best one to display in my Day 1 blog post.  I was only able to hold this pose for a couple of seconds before falling over.  Many times I would fall backward which resulted in me rolling over my interlocked fingers which kind of hurt.  Still I pressed on.

Day two I took a picture but did not post it here.  My legs were slightly forward.  At this point in the game it was a little tough getting in to a headstand.  I struggled with it a little.  By day 4 I definitely felt like I was making some headway not only in getting in to the pose but in balance and staying in the pose.

Somewhere around day 16 I had a bad day.  I felt like it was very difficult to get in to the pose.  I got in to the pose and felt like I couldn’t hold it.  I felt tired for some reason.  Later I figured it was that I hadn’t done any warm up and my back was stiff.  A great lesson to learn and from that day forward I had no problems at all once I was properly stretched.

So now that I’ve hit day 30, I can get in to this pose very easily and hold it for a lot longer.  I tossed my wife my phone and asked her to take a picture of me.  I don’t think she realized what was going on.  I quickly got inverted and was standing on my head for about 15 seconds before I called out to her.  She responded, picked up my phone and as she was about to take a picture someone called.  She hung up on them and went back to the camera app.  I stood straight up on my head for about 30-40 seconds total before she took this picture.

Supported Headstand Day 30

Supported Headstand Day 30

What I love about this picture is how my back is almost straight but my legs are aligned over my head and my toes are pointed up about as much as I can point them at this time.  I held pretty straight like this for a good amount of time and it is the first time I’ve seen my accomplishment since day 4.  I am celebrating this victory today and feel a real sense of accomplishment.

Interestingly enough this fit really well in to my minimalist theory.  I took less than a minute a day to learn a new pose that was quite hard in the beginning.  I really had it learned in a little over 2 weeks but continue to perfect my skill and gain strength.

Strength is something that I still have to work on.  This takes a lot of arm and back strength to hold for this long.  I will most likely keep doing my headstands almost daily.  I really enjoy doing them because they give me confidence and for the strength.

Do you have pics of you doing headstands?  What should my next 30 day challenge be?

Namaste my friends.

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Ok, so it hasn’t been quite three months since I last posted but it’s getting close.  I’ve missed writing and I’ve missed a lot of my old WordPress friends.  I’ve been doing well though.  Regular readers from when I was a regular writer will recall that I had a strained rotator cuff once upon a time.  I’ve completely healed, I have no pain whatsoever.  I did not, however, go back to push ups, sit ups or squats.  I got in to running for a little while and then somehow pulled a back muscle.  Not enough stretching, I suppose?  This was a pivotal moment for me.

When my back was hurting I started to think about my direction in fitness.  I still 100% believe in my minimalist workout.  But I started to think.  Maybe I push myself too hard or just have the genetics but I seem to be a little accident prone.  A woman I work with is always talking about yoga and how much she loves it.  She told me she broke her neck years ago and had 3 slipped discs.  She told me yoga took all the pain away.  Not knowing much about yoga I asked her if she could give me some good poses for my back which was bothering me.  She gave me three poses which I researched right away.  They were bridge pose, cobra pose and camel pose.  These poses are awesome for elongating the spine, opening the chest and stretching everything out.

So I kept going.  YouTube has endless yoga videos.  I simply search for yoga, beginner and the area I want to work on that day whether it’s upper or lower back, abs, legs, arms…  Then I build a playlist and pull up the YouTube app on my blue ray player and workout in my living room.  My 5 year old has enjoyed doing yoga with me so much that we built her a playlist of just kids yoga.  She loves the kids  yoga because it’s like acting out a story with yoga moves.  She’ll giggle and do her poses for the entire 15 minutes and then sit down, put her hands together and say “namaste”.

In the few weeks I’ve been doing yoga I can already see my posture getting better, my body is getting more flexible and the poses are getting easier.  I’m really loving the yoga.  I plan to write more about yoga in the future, maybe I’ll post some pics of me doing yoga poses and maybe some instruction on how to do poses, although I’m not an instructor and am learning to do these poses myself.

I’d love to hear from anyone who is doing yoga.  Leave me a message in the comments.

Well this is it ladies and gentlemen.  Tonight is the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.  I have a lot of goals for 2013 but for now I’m thinking back at what I’ve accomplished in 2012.

2012 started out fun.  We had some good friends over a year ago tonight, they stayed with us that night and we all went out for some go-kart fun on the 1st.  I also started a blog on Jan 1st, 2012 where I would celebrate a different food holiday every day.  The secret I didn’t tell people is that I was dieting 6 days a week but would cook and eat my food holiday foods on Saturday as part of a cheat day.  This lasted until April when I totally burned out on the grind of putting together a blog like this.

February was a very up and down month for me.  My family and I moved to another part of town where we are much happier.  My parents came to visit to help us move but we lost my grandma the same weekend.  It is something that still hurts even now.  I went off my diet and began gaining weight again.  This weight gain lasted until June.

In late May I had been reading a couple of books and had seen some research that suggested that you could exercise a few times per day in short duration and still benefit as if you’d gone to the gym for an hour.  I decided I was going to try this and write a blog about it.  It took me a few days to flesh out my program but ultimately, as many of you know, I settled on push ups, sit ups and squats.  At first it was all three each day but I would get tired and need to take days off to rest.  This is when I started doing one of each per day and my program really took off.

In June I started dieting and experimenting with food and weight loss/gain.  I ended up losing 29 lbs before feeling the need to stabilize for a while.  I felt at that point I was losing too quickly and needed a break.  Yes, I know, this is a great problem to have!  The fact is, I have been working on writing a book about my experiences and the research I had done had given me so much knowledge that I really feel my mental state couldn’t keep up with my physical state.  In other words, I got the program down but my mind was stuck with a comfort level that was at a higher weight.  Does that make any sense at all?  It did to me.

Physically, my biggest setback hit in late September.  I was having trouble doing push ups and determined that I must have strained my rotator cuff.   I kept up with some exercises for a while but round about November I decided I should take the rest of the year off to rest my body.  I was doing my push ups wrong.  I had my elbows out when they should be closer to my body when doing a push up.

With the holidays coming I acclimated myself back to eating bread and some cheese and I thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner and all the Christmas festivities I attended.

So how does 2012 end for me?  My wife and kids are still in Michigan and I’m in Florida working tonight.  I’ll put the TV on and watch the ball drop… I dislike that ball… and text and call my friends to say happy new year.  Tomorrow I’m getting back to the grind and will be running, doing push ups, sit ups and squats.  I’ve already gotten myself back on my diet and am feeling optimistic about it.

I will work harder on my book and hope to have it completed soon.  Don’t worry, I can’t always proof read my blog posts due to my family and work schedule but the book will be proof read, and read by a few people before I put it out there for people to read.

I also plan to write more on the blog like I did for a the first few months.  I want to give you some advise for reaching your goals based on my research.

Here’s to a great new year!

Click here to see my 7 Point Plan To Fitness Success

Now the fun begins.  You’ve looked at all your habits, saw places and way you could improve them, did a few reps of each exercise to see what you’re capable and you’ve started your journal.  Now is the time for action.  It’s time to put it all together and transform your life.

You are going to be on a three day cycle of workout.  You can start with any day you’d like but for demonstration purposes we’ll start on Sunday.  Each day you are going to do one of three different exercises.  You can do them in any order but I prefer to do them in the order of push ups, sit ups and squats.  In each seven day period you will do each exercise three days.  Your schedule will look like this:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
Push ups Sit up Squats Push ups Sit ups Squats Push ups Sit Ups Squats

So for example, your week of push ups goes from Sunday to Saturday, sit ups go from Monday to Sunday and Squats go from Tuesday to Monday.

When I first started this workout routine I had to find a way to form a habit.  Simply saying that I would work out a little bit throughout the day wasn’t enough.  I had tried that before and I would forget.  So what I did was set up rooms as triggers.  If I went in the kitchen I would drop down and do some push ups.  You can decide for yourself whether or not you want to do your exercises in the kitchen or simply acknowledge that it’s time to do them once you go to the kitchen.  You could really do them before or after going in the kitchen. And this is not to say you must set up the kitchen as your trigger.

In your trial phase you did a test to see how many of each exercise you could do.  You are now going to do 70% of your total throughout the day.  If you were able to do 10 push ups then do 7 every time you go in the kitchen.  It is as simple as that.  If you go in the kitchen 20 times then I would shoot for only four or five sets of seven when you’re starting out.  Keep track in your journal and be sure to tell someone throughout the day.  Keeping a journal and sharing your success socially are two of the most powerful things you can do.  I dare to say that they’re as important, if not more important, that the physical act of exercising.

I work a full time job and shoot for doing the bulk of my exercising before work.  I also try to get a set or two in during my eight hour shift and when I get home I try to do more.  I find that spacing my workouts apart like that gives my muscles time to heal.  Yes, they will be somewhat tired, but you will find you’re able to do more than if you did all your sets together.

If you have any questions at all please leave a comment below and I’ll help you out.  Also, check out my Minimalist Workout Quick Start.

I didn’t realize it has been so long since I last wrote a blog post.  I’ve been so busy with work lately.  I’ve been working odd hours and not getting enough sleep.  It’s been bad for my creativity and my writing.  Sorry ’bout that!  I plan to get back to it this weekend.

But let’s see what’s been going on in the life of Tim.

My shoulder is getting better daily.  I’ve been doing a series of exercises three or four times a week.  It’s helped a lot.  I don’t feel any pain in my shoulder while doing routine movements.  Once in a while I reach with my arm and push something and I can feel it but even then, the pain isn’t as bad as it once was.  I haven’t tried doing any push ups but I don’t want to get back to it too soon.

How about that diet?  It’s been going well.  I’ve had some ups and downs and the boss ordered pizza for us one night.  Being tired makes you want to eat more but I’ve tried to stick to good food that wouldn’t hurt me too badly.  I ate a whole bag of almond slivers one night.  I’ve gained about 1 pound so I’m not too broken up over it.  It’ll be easy to drop again.

I was looking at my shoulders and they look small.  I’m going to start doing some exercises that’ll pump up the deltoids a little.  I think it’ll make my arms look good.

That is all for now.  I’ll post more in the morning, and when I say morning, I mean probably early afternoon.  Cuz that’s how I roll.

This past weekend I wrote about how I had purchased a blood glucose meter.  A lot of people I know were confused about my intentions since I don’t have diabetes.  While it is good to know what your blood sugar levels are so you know if you have diabetes or are hypoglycemic, I had other intentions.  I wanted to see first hand how glucose levels affected weight gain or weight loss.  In my experience, this is the key to being healthy.  Here is a little of what I found.

I woke up Thursday morning of last week and checked my glucose reading.  It had been 10 hours since my last meal and my glucose level was at 96.  From what I understand, the idea level is between 70 and 130.  Not bad.  So I made myself a breakfast of 2 pieces of turkey bacon, 4 eggs and two big mushrooms.  After two hours I took my glucose levels and I was at 89.  This sounded great to me since I was between the ideal levels yet my blood glucose level had gone down.  This is a typical breakfast for me whether I lose weight the next day or binge and gain.  Logic would say that 89 is a great level for burning fat.

Later that day I had a BBQ with a friend of mine who was in town.  He made hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob and potato salad.  I eat some of all of this.  Not idea food for a diet.  After eating all this I checked my blood glucose level (after waiting 2 hours) and my blood glucose level was at 111.  My friend’s wife is a nurse.  She said she was surprised that my levels weren’t higher and that I must have a pretty healthy pancreas.  The pancreas will release insulin in response to elevated glucose levels.  Of course I gained weight the next day.  I wanted to use Thursday as a test day.  I didn’t want to track the full day.  I had planned on doing these tests all weekend but I got busy and had a couple of social events planned.  I’ve decided to run my full test later this week and check my blood glucose levels on a diet day and a cheat day.

My friends and family still think I’m a little crazy but the proof is in the pudding.  Eating high protein, low carb meals will keep your blood glucose levels low and cause you to lose weight naturally.  Eating foods like bread, corn and potato salad will spike your blood sugar levels and cause you to build fat.  Also, by raising your glucose levels too high for an extended period of time you run the risk of developing diabetes.  Choose foods that are low-glycemic, provide a good source of protein and cut out processed foods and unnatural sugar.  Your pancreas will thank you!

Click here to see my 7 Point Plan To Fitness Success

This phase is one of the most subjective phases in my 7 Point Plan.  In fact, I may not be able to list all the ways in which you can accomplish this phase but this is something that is very important for so many reasons.

When I started this blog in late May 2012 I did so with the intention of using it to track my workouts.  I figured eventually people would read it so I made my posts narrative.  This is mostly because I love writing.  I like to share my experiences with other people.  A blog may not be for everyone.  Regardless of whether you start a blog or choose some other method of tracking your workouts you want to think about a couple of different things while you’re writing.

The first thing you want to do is write down how many reps you did and how many sets of each rep.  A rep, or repetition, is you doing the exercise one time.  So for example, one push up, one sit up or one squat.  A set is a group of reps.  So if you drop down and do 5 push ups before getting up, that is one set of 5 reps.  Throughout the day you may do 4 or 5 (or more) sets of 5 reps.  Track them all and write the total at the end.  If you do 4 sets of 5 reps then write your total (20) at the end of your journal entry.

The journal phase will continue for the duration of your journey.  It will overlap with the action phase and will drive the success phase.  You will refer back to your previous entries in order to see how far you’ve come.  Most people have fitness goals that seem so far away. Using a journal to track your short term successes is one of the best ways, I’ve found, to stay motivated to keep going.  Celebrating your short term successes also makes you feel good about what you’re doing and moves you closer to self-efficacy.

Here is a quick list of ways you can use to journal:

This phase is really up to you but you should be doing it daily (even if you write in that you did a rest day) and should include what you did and how many of it.  Whatever way works best for you is the way you should do it.

Sometimes I wonder if I should still be writing about my Minimalist Workout.  I suppose I touch on it from time to time but most of my posts are about my own health experiments that do not have to do with push ups, sit ups and squats. 

When I first started I didn’t have a lot of readers.  In fact, I didn’t post my blog posts anywhere for the first week despite the WordPress community picking up on my posts and reblogging.  It wasn’t until this happened that I decided to start putting my posts out there. 

I now have 70 followers and a lot more visitors each day and I feel like I should go back and talk about how I got to where I am today. 

I started with an idea in late May.  An idea that I could do a minimal amount of workouts and gain strength and be in better shape as a result.  The plan was simple, I could do 9 or 10 push ups, about the same amount of sit ups and squats so I would do 5 reps of each, multiple times per day and add a little bit each week.  I quickly discovered that I was adding a lot each week.  In fact, I went from 20 push ups to 200 in a day in under two months.  If that isn’t proof that my concept worked then I don’t know what is. 

My point here isn’t to brag.  My point is to prove something that I have said numerous times in past posts.  No matter what you do, no matter how little you feel it is, if you get up off the couch and do something, you will always benefit.

Too many people out there feel that you cannot benefit from a workout program unless you’re killing yourself for an hour each day.  This simply is not true.  In fact, you do not have to fully exhaust a muscle to see a benefit from it.  Also, whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up to you, but I did not bulk up from this.  I simply got stronger in so many ways.  I see muscles and definition but not bulk. 

Never let anyone tell you that you’re not doing enough.  Get up and do something, anything and do a little more next week.  Eventually you’ll feel strange when you’re not doing anything.  It’s a great feeling. 

Click here to see my 7 Point Plan To Fitness Success

The core of the Minimalist Workout by Tim revolves around three different exercises that will be done on three separate days.  My 7 Point Plan To Fitness Success does not require you to follow this plan but I will be writing as if you are.  If you are following a different workout plan and need help finding a way to tailor it to what I’ve said here then please leave me a comment in the comment box below.

This is a fast and easy phase.  The point of this trial is to see what you’re capable of as well as give you a starting point for tracking your progress and success.  While the point of this test isn’t to start building muscle it will start your muscle building.  My belief is that anything you do, as long as you’re getting up and doing something, makes you successful.

Push Ups

Push Ups are tricky.  Everyone is at a different place as far as push ups are concerned.  I know people who are in fairly good shape but are unable to do a push up.  If this is true in your case, there are ways to make push ups easier.  I would ask first, do you think you can do push ups on your knees?  It is important to note that although you are not doing them on your toes, you do need to keep your body straight during the exercise.  If you start with good habit, even if they cause you to do less of an exercise, you’ll be better off in the long run.  If you do not think you can do a proper knee push up then you should do wall push ups.

Whatever your level, now is the time to test yourself and see how many you can do.  I don’t want you to do them only until you start to doubt you can do more.  Challenge yourself.  It’ll hurt only for a minute, 90 seconds tops, I promise.  Complete the set until you’ve fully exhausted your muscles.  On my first push ups test I was able to do 7 push ups on my knees.  This became my starting point.

Sit Ups

There are different schools of thought on sit ups.  Some people believe you should put your feet under something like a chair or have someone stand on your feet while you do them.  There are others, with research to back their claim, that you should have someone hold your legs from below.  The train of though on that is that you’re pushing down with your legs which puts your body in the proper position to work your muscles in more correct ways.

I didn’t have anyone to hold my calf muscles for me so I wedge my feet under my couch or recliner.  You should strive to keep your back as straight as possible and do not pull your head with your hands.  If fact, I hold my arms to the side and clench my fists when I do sit ups.

Now you will see how many sit ups you can do.  I did 5 on my first attempt.  I know of people who started with 1.  Don’t worry, you’ll increase this number over time.  Make sure you exhaust your muscles.  Once you feel the burn you’re done.

Squats

Squats gave me the biggest challenge when I first started.  Click here for a great video on how to do a proper squat.  I’ll also include that if you have trouble with squats you should place a chair behind you and sit on it briefly before standing back up.

I was able to do 5 squats my first attempt.  I am quite animated when I do squats.  I try to keep myself in the proper alignment but I swing my arms forward for balance when I go down and then clench my fists, abs and glutes as I come back up.  It gives me a very powerful squat in the end.

You may find that your legs are burning pretty quickly.  You do not want to push yourself too hard on squats.  Do your set until your legs start to burn but do not go any further than that.  You don’t want to risk injury.

Take A Couple Days To Rest

Now that you’ve pushed yourself to the limits you want to take a couple of days to let your muscles rest up.  Drink plenty of water and stretch after your trial session.  You do not want to wake up sore tomorrow.  Write down how many reps you did of each set and set it aside.  I’m going to explain in the Action Phase that you should shoot for 70% of your total reps in each set you do during that phase.  Don’t worry if you only did 1 or 2 reps in a set.  I’ll cover all that later.  For now, take two days to let your muscles rest.  Why two days?  Because my minimalist workout plan builds two rest days between days of each workout.  This goes against most traditional wisdom of one day of rest between workouts but there are a lot of people who have proven that it is more effective to leave yourself two days of rest.

Great job!

A couple of days ago I started to write a blog post about how I had hit a plateau.  Yes, anyone who has dieted is no stranger to plateaus.  For me, I had been the same weight for a week.  My diet wasn’t perfect early in the week but it had been for a few days.  I blame myself because I know that eating healthy doesn’t always mean you’re getting your full nutrition.  For whatever reason, I lose weight best when I include olive oil and lettuce in my diet.  I also like to splash in some balsamic, red wine vinegar or lemon juice.

As luck would have it, I got a call from my boss at work telling me they could use me if I could make it in early.  I love my job but working in television takes a lot of dedication.  So I ended the post and off I went.  For this, I apologize because I kind of left everyone hanging.

So before bed that night I ate my “Plateau Buster” as I like to call it.  I woke up the next morning (yesterday) and had lost 2 lbs.  How do you like them apples?  I like them green and sour myself.  The lesson here is to include healthy fat in your diet and eat plenty of leafy greens.  It also doesn’t hurt to include some kind of vinegar, although I don’t know the specifics of why.  I like to imagine that vinegar is some magic liquid that makes you healthy.

Lately I’ve been working on strengthening my shoulders.  My right rotator cuff is strained and I’ve been following a specific set of exercises to get it back in shape.  While the exercises are a little painful, but I’m told this is normal.  I also have noticed a difference in how I feel when I’m not working out my shoulders.  I am feeling better even if there is some pain still there.  Ice therapy has also been a big help.  I ice my shoulder every other day for about an hour.  Yesterday I iced it for a half hour and had to get up to help one of my kids with something.  The muscles had a chance to warm up a little which, from what I understand, causes a rush of blood to the muscle which promotes healing.  I then iced my shoulder for another half hour.  I’m hoping this helped.

I’ve also been working on my book this week.  It is a real challenge to write something like a book.  I want to write a lot about my experiences with diet, specifically my struggle and how I learned to get control of my body as well as my minimalist workout.  A friend of mine sent me a picture from 2008 and I was astonished by how big I was.  I’ve have decided to include it in the book.

I feel like I have a lot of things in the works and hope I can give you, the reader, a lot of great information.  I hope to inspire you.  Have a wonderful day.

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