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I usually like to do my workouts and stretches in the evenings.  When I’m at work it can be super late in the evening – e.g. 0300!  So Friday I was off work, and it was the first of the two rest days in the good behaviour program.  I am doing the isometric stretches daily, so I was planning to get those in, but the day slid by and before I knew it we were off out for dinner.

At dinner I had a couple of beers, only couple, and then we went home, but I didn’t feel like it was a good time to be doing stretches and meditating.  A little later in the evening, after dinner was settled and I had consumed quite a lot of water, I felt like I could do the stretches.  Then I reconsidered – it would likely be either half assed, or worse the alcohol in my system would mean that I would think I could stretch further than I really could and I would push it and injure myself, potentially stalling my progress for much longer than one day.

So Friday became a day of total rest, and that’s ok.

Saturday was martial arts classes first thing in the morning, and we did a bit of stretching, the kind where you have help from a partner. It isn’t CC style, but I go along with it.  Then during some groundwork, Sensei had me on the ground and was standing up, demonstrating how to get the lock just right. Without the correct lock on, he said “See he could even kick me in the face from there.  Go on, kick me in the face”.

So I slowly arced my foot up and just touched his face.  I’m sure he didn’t really believe that I could kick that high from the floor and got a little surprise, and said so.  I just smiled and said “Must have been those stretches I was doing”

We meditated some during martial arts class, and then later in the day I did my stretches and meditated some more.  I’m still working that 60 second plank into the stretching routine as well.  The last day of rest is also calf day now, so I did 20/20/20 of level 2 calf raises.

Sunday, and the rest days are over, yes 2.5 hours of martial arts is a rest day, lol.  Sunday and we are into the pushups and squats.  Last week I did my first round of level 2 at the beginner standard.  Level 2 is not that difficult and so I had some left in the bank after 2 sets of 10.  Intermediate is 20/20 and progression is 30/30/30. I decided that I would progress it up the same way as the CC2 method for the calf raises, i.e I would go for 20/20/20 and then ramp up the number of reps per set until I hit progression standard.

As with level 1, once I get to the progression standard I will simmer it there for at least a couple of weeks to prove mastery before moving on.

Back on night shift tomorrow, and it’s a rest day.


Time for a review–Convict Conditioning

The beginning of January also marked the end of my first month of using the convict conditioning system.  When I started the Primal Blueprint, I stopped doing the running as I felt I had achieved what I set out to achieve, and I was concerned that long term I was going to get an injury.  I was already feeling it in the knees.

I started with the ‘Lifting Heavy Things’ or LHT progressions as described in the Primal Blueprint.  Taking my cue from the success I had with the C25k, I decided to take the time to do the self assessment that is included in the free fitness ebook, and start where Mark recommended.

So I began, and I did all of the exercises regularly, and I was soon hitting the progression standards for the early progressions.  I found that on the dive bombers in particular that I was struggling with sufficient range of motion in my shoulders, yet I could do the required number of beginner reps of the overhead press, so I went straight to that step.  Soon I was doing most of ‘the essential primal movements’ and looking back on my notes, I wasn’t doing to badly.  2 sets of 35 full push ups with good form etc.  My workouts were taking around 45 min each, and I felt like I wasn’t getting them in anywhere near frequently enough.  It was getting to the point that I was running 2 to 3 weeks between workouts, then over a month! I just wasn’t making progress, and something wasn’t working for me.

I realised this around mid-November 2011, so I started to look around the primal/paleo community a little more for other options.  The big thing seemed to be Olympic Lifts.  We have a fitness room at work, with treadmills, weight machines & some free weights,so I could check that out and do some serious iron pumping.  I started looking at programs: starting strength, stronglifts, etc.  Watching youtube clips of Rippetoe coaching the correct form, pricing up bars & bumpers online.

Then I heard about convict conditioning and got curious.  Curious like I was when I first heard of the Primal Blueprint. This was mostly due to the announcement of the release of convict conditioning 2.  Which many in the community said they were looking forward to.  So I got my hands on CC2.  Pretty much right at the front of the book, it says that if you are looking for workouts, they are n CC1.  I read CC2 in just over a day, and a great deal of it made sense so I got CC1 as well.  That also took little over a day to read the first time.  I just couldn’t put it down.  This was exactly the sort of thing I had been looking for all those years ago when I was stuck in a tiny cabin off base with the navy.  Those cabins actually make a cell look quite luxurious.

push-upsWhen I first saw the illustrations, flipping through the book, I was a little disappointed:  Full pushups was step 5 of the progressions, the progression standard was 2 sets of 20.  I was already knocking out 2 sets of 35, albeit with maximum effort.  I had no doubt thatI could make the intermediate standard of the next progression and do 2x 10 close push ups.

After then reading the book properly, I decided “settle down, ego-boy; start at the beginning.  Remember the C25k and how you thought running for 60 sec at a time was not even worth doing? Remember how day 3 of week 5 kicked your ass?”

So I decided to start at the beginning.  I did make one concession to my ego, by starting with the ‘Good Behaviour’ program, rather than the ‘New Blood’ one.  This has more to do with my work pattern and shifts meaning that a three day break in the middle had the potential to cause me to stall out.  The day on/day off routine fits much better.

So then there I was going from a reasonable effort at full push ups to 1 set of 10 wall pushups.  Never mind.  Like the diet, I have decided that I am in this for the long haul, so at the other end, the time I spent at the very beginning will be like a blink.

The first week went well, and then the second week I made the intermediate standard, and still felt good.  By this time I had also read through both books a few times.  I decided it was time to add in the stretches from CC2.  The book said every day was good, so that’s what I did.

With the exercises I knew that I could make the progression standard, so I decided to do a couple of weeks at progression standard to make sure I wasn’t pushing myself to progress too early.  I really wanted to lay that foundation. That whole “Stay on the level as long as you can, until it no longer works for you” mindset.

In the second week at progression standard I decided to start with the calf and grip work on my rest days, rather than skipping days/workouts, I actually get restless on the rest days (great oxymoron right there).

I’m doing the level 2 stretches, and feel ready to step it up to level 3, except I struggle to get off the ground for the N hold.  With the daily stretches, I’m also adding in a 60 sec plank hold and 10 min of meditation.  So the stretches & plank take me 5 minutes a day, and that includes 2.5 minutes of rest.

My arms feel bigger now than they did when I was busting out full pushups, although I think a lot of that is down to a 30 sec straight bridge hold every day.  I have always been a little lop-sided, but my left arm is not keeping up with my right at all.  I’m not sure what to do about that at the moment, I expect it will even out as the exercises progress.

Looking back, I think I could have had similar success with the blueprint progressions if I had approached them in the right way: only do a couple of exercises each workout and cycle through them, and really work those early progressions.  These lessons are also serving me well with my martial arts practice as well.


Level up & formalising the creed

Today I did the last of my exercises at level 1, doing 10/10/50/50/50/ short bridges and 10 sec/ 2min headstands. Now it is two days of rest, and next week on up to level 2. I will do sprints on one of those rest days.


Warning: Deep & Meaningful Philosophical content follows


Well if that didn’t put you off, here’s the story. I received an email from my martial arts instructor that posed the following questions. I’m sure he posed them to everyone and not just me. It is in a similar vein to the write your own eulogy exercise:

Allow me to pose 3 different questions, which may make it easier to acess your thoughts.

Premise; If you had 2 minutes to live and could still speak, to your eldest son,daughter/friend/young person starting get the idea…

1 What three significant thoughts/things you have learned in your entire lifetime do you feel would benefit him/her/them most?
Question 2 …Have you done this?
Question 3.. if not What are you waiting for?
Question 4…. If not any of them, as you may not like your kids or have few friends, have you anything I might benefit from?


I actually didn’t need to think about this for very long, and rather than give a cute reply, I came up with this:

1 Three things:
a. Look after your health; follow a primal diet, stretch and do calisthenics regularly and allow yourself to rest & heal. Breathe.
b. Level up; develop yourself and your skills, learn new skills, approach them in a systematic, progressive manner and practice regularly, have goals.
c. Enjoy life; approach tasks and encounters with relaxed enthusiasm, expect abundance – not everything needs to be a competition, don’t feel obliged to justify yourself to anyone else.

I summarise these as:
a. Live
b. Grow
c. Flourish

2. I am doing this. Now. I had been going along for a long time following parts of this, off and on. It was around June of this year that I started to really put it all together, and I feel that it is working well for me. Mentally, physically and spiritually I feel in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and it can only get better. At different times I have probably been stronger in 1 or two of these areas than I am now, but was always missing at least one of the others. I don’t know what prompted this epiphany, whether as a result of introspection after my birthday, as a result of something I read, studied, practiced, assimilation of ideas from martial arts, introspection after my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer or whatever. Life is good and getting better.

3. See 2. I still have a way to go, but I’ll get there.

4. I would like to think that were I to have children that I would never need to say these things to them in my final 2 minutes and that they have learned these things from me throughout my life. I would like to spend that last two minutes saying good bye, so that we may all approach the next step with relaxed enthusiasm.


I wonder what response, if any, this will elicit from him.


Pirate Sprints

Exercise program designated rest

Sprints – 1 x walk around park out back
2 x Jog around park
6 x sprint up small hill – Brian’s liquid amber to the twin camellias, with the dog

Got a letter today – the Dr wants to see me to talk about the bloods, I guess it will be about the cholesterol numbers. I doubt that they will be high enough for her to want me on statins, but I’m sure I’ll get ‘the talk’.

Oh well, I suppose I’d best go see her on Tuesday. Le sigh.


Small arms, guns & bazookas

First day off today and this morning, once again my wife points out that while I have lost a lot of fat, the fat that has gone from my left arm has left behind a rather flabby bicep.  I was actually feeling kind of good about having done the LHT the day before, and so flexed my right bicep for her.  I have to say while no Charles Atlas, I am kind of pleased with the way it is coming along.  Today was to be a move slowly day, and she was to be having lunch with a friend of hers, but that got cancelled, and so we decided to go to lunch together.

I had the super scoff, which consists of 2 fried eggs, bacon (the english kind for you americans out there), black pudding, fried pieces of real potato and really thick toast.  I left most of the potato and all of the toast on the plate.  I also had a long black coffee, or what some people call a coffee americano, yeah, some people.

After that I decided we should leave the car parked where it was and wander down to the discount store and pick up some large recycled plastic pots, so that I could plant the chilli seedlings I bought last week.  The seedlings have been quite happy on the kitchen counter, and I have been taking good care of them.  The weather has gone quite windy and I don’t think they would have made it if I planted them out now anyway.

Once I schlepped the pots back to the car and home, it was time to take the dog for his walk.  I like walking in a forest park on the other side of town, where I used to enjoy doing the couch to 5k runs as well. so off we went.

2011-10-10 14.30.31_WEB 

Here he is trotting off down the track.  I was actually feeling very energised when we got there and vaulted over the gate with a spring in my step. Woohoo!

I have often thought that I should bring a bag or a backpack along and collect pine cones along the way, either for the open fire during winter, or the outdoor brazier during BBQs in the summer.  All of the small  backpacks we have at the moment are too good to get trashed on that task, so I will need to keep an eye out. for a cheapy somewhere along the way.  Maybe the salvation army when I take all of my fat clothes down there. :)

Dog & I wandered along the trails and I was still wondering what to do about my flabby arms.  Maybe my form is just terrible when I do the push ups?  It doesn’t feel like bad form.  Maybe my form is terrible because of the fact that my left arm is so weak?  Around this time I formed a small kernel of an idea.

I found a tree branch that would have been a little over a metre long, and that my hand would only wrap half way around.  It was quite wet, and I estimated that it would be approximately 7 kg (15 lbs).  It had a few smaller spiky branches sticking out of it.

2011-10-10 15.04.32_WEB

I decided that I would carry this stick for the rest of the walk.  There needed to be rules for this carry though.  This was inspired somewhat by a WOW Mark posted some time ago on MDA.  The rules were relatively simple. Carry the stick any way I could, but only with the left hand, and walk at least 5 km.  I did stop once, only long enough to remove my sweater, since I’d worked up a good sweat, and to take this picture.  I completed the 5km and while the last km or so was getting quite difficult.  At one point as I was holding one of the short sticks, with the stick over my shoulder, I wondered if anyone that saw me would wonder if I was playing at toy soldiers with a pretend bazooka on my shoulders.  No sooner did the thought occur and I was just about ready to charge off into the undergrowth and assault a pretend bunker.  A bit like ‘Shogun’ in Boy the Movie:


It would probably be a breach of some anti-terror law though.  Full movie scene here:

Go watch the movie, it’s a crack up.

At the end of the walk, I stashed the branch by the start of the 5km section, hopefully out of the way of sniffing/pissing pooches, ready for use next time.  Then I spent 20 minutes or so getting in some karate practice before class.

Karate class was good, and thankfully the warm up did not include a beasting on the press ups.

Dinner was steak and vegetables.  Lovely.



Lifted heavy things today.  I decided that I needed to level things up a bit, so I’m now doing all of the exercises at level 4, except the pull ups, which are at level 3.  level-upNaturally my rep count has come down somewhat, but I feel like I’m working harder.

I’ve had the squats and the overhead presses at level 4 for a while now, so the big steps were with the planks and the push ups, both of which I took from level 2 straight to level 4.  If it gets to obnoxious I can step it back again, but to be honest I don’t see any real reason why I can’t tackle it at this level if I’m sensible about it.


Hi There. Remember me?

It’s been a little while since I posted an update, however I haven’t been slacking (much) with everything else going on.  There was a fairly nasty winter virus going around that I was lucky enough to catch.  It laid me up to the point where I just stayed in bed for four days and was not good for very much at all for about 10 days either side of that.  I’m really good now though, thanks.

Dad had a bit of bad news around a month ago (for his birthday) which meant that he needed to have surgery fairly quickly.  He’s at home recuperating now, and everything seems to have gone well.  He’s just waiting on some more results to make sure it’s fixed properly.

I’ve managed to get in a few more LHT workouts, and the diet (it doesn’t feel like a diet) is working well.  Since July 9 I have lost 3.4 kg (7.5 lbs).  This is 0.4 kg (just under a pound) more than I had lost in the entire 12 week challenge at work, when there was money at stake and I was trying my darndest!

One thing that Mark Sisson has been advocating is the stand up workstation.  Then yesterday I saw that Steve Kamb had also posted about it in a very clear and compelling  manner, only a day after I was telling my wife that I needed to develop better hip mobility for a few of reasons:

  • I want to do better kicks at karate.
  • I know it will improve my aikido.
  • My dad has had arthritis in his hip for some time and I’d rather prevent it.

So I decided to tetris up my work station:


So there it is.  A little rough around the edges, and still with some stuff to put away.  If I decide I can’t deal with it and want to go back to my chair I always can.  So far so good, and the dog likes it do much that he just had to get in the picture about it.  It makes him smile, see.






Here is a closer shot of the actual work station, pay no attention to the scuffed up X-wing, that is not the droid you’re looking for.


Friday flash

Friday 22 JUl

1st day off, and we planned to go and see Mum & Dad, and my Aunt & Cousin, with her 2yo for lunch for the day, Thursday was Dad’s birthday. I was determined to get in an LHT workout before we left.  I love how quick I can get these things done if I put my mind to it.

Exercise Level Set 1 Set 2 Target
Pushup 1.2 50 30 50
Pullup 2.2 15 15 15
Squat 3.3 50 50 50
Overhead Press 4.4 12 12 12
Plank Front 5.2 90 90 90
Plank Side 5.2 45 45 45

I was pretty pleased with getting to 50 on the first set of pushups, even if the second set came in at only the same amount I did last workout.  The planks were a good workout, and I think it is time to level up the pullups. 

Thanks Mark.


I’ve had a few beers this week, and I need to settle that back down again too.  I think I’ll move what is left in the house down into the basement, out of temptation’s way :)

Today we had both a karate & aikido class, and although I wanted a lie-in, I got up and went and felt energised the whole way through, and we were moving pretty well.  Breakfast was sardines on toast, and lunch was curried sausages.  The plan for tomorrow is a measure up, and then a run/sprints.

Today the post brought in the course outline for the off-campus course I’m doing.  It’s the final paper I need to do before graduating my Master’s.  It’s the elective paper that has to be chosen from those that are offered from outside the faculty of engineering.  I’m doing (ugh) ‘Financial Management’  it looks like a lot of spreadsheets will be rquired, so I expect I can use my excel fu to good advantage ;)  I’ve ordered the prescribed text, and just need to launch into it now.

Graduation feels like it is now right at my fingertips; two assignments and 1 exam.  No problem!


Still on the planet

24 Hour break

Well it’s been a wee while since the last update, but I am sticking at it, with the odd slip here and there.  This past weekend was something of an aberration, but that’s ok.  Used to be, a weekend like that was considered tame, and weekdays were much the same, so not all bad news.

Anyway here’s the goss:

Friday was spent cleaning the house since my parents were coming to stay for the weekend.  We got a lot of good work done. I also ran the fat caliper over to check progress.

Then Friday night it was off to the club for dinner and then Harry Potter 7b.

Come to the dark side Harry, we have cookies.


I Had a few beers at the club and dinner was a T-bone steak, egg, salad & fries.  I left most of the fries on the plate. O.M.G!  Then it was off to the movies where I had a large bag of potato chips.  Doh!  I enjoyed the movie, even though it felt like it was just a series of battles to tie up loose ends, and the only bit of story telling was Snape’s bit.

Saturday morning we were up in the frost to go to karate and aikido classes.  2 hours of martial arts isn’t too bad for rest/play/move slowly I reckon, even if we do take things relatively slowly.  Mum & dad turned up for their visit, a quiche for lunch and naturally I had a number of beers with dad while we just hung out, including a quick trip down to the club.

Dinner was corned beef and mixed vegies.  Yum!  More beers till bedtime then breakfast of bacon and eggs in the morning.  Mum & Dad were on their way and I was off to bed before going back to work for my first night shift.  A couple of frustrating nights at work and a nap this morning from 0830 –1300.  Quiche for lunch and onto a session of LHT.

Exercise Level Set 1 Set 2 Target
Pushup 1.2 35 30 50
Pullup 2.2 15 15 15
Squat 3.3 50 50 50
Overhead Press 4.4 12 12 12
Plank Front 5.2 90 90 90
Plank Side 5.2 45 45 45

As i planned in my last LHT post, I increased the level for the squats and the planks, and managed to meet the targets first off.  I’m pretty happy with that, but at a bit of a loss as to what is going on with my pushups.  Maybe it’s true that I’m improving my form and going deeper.  I’m not sure.  Then it was a leisurely stroll around the park with the dog (I’m sure he is missing the chronic cardio though).  Tonight is an hour of Aikido, prawns for dinner and an early night with a day shift tomorrow.  I’m probably also going to have to face the music and address some crew issues tomorrow too. :/

All in all I’m pleased with the progress I’m making.  Could I do better? Sure, and I’m staying on track mostly, I’m not beating myself up too much when I get derailed, I plan to continue to enjoy a few beers at the club of a Friday evening, and Mum & Dad don’t visit overnight all that often, so I figure I’m staying mostly on track.


Sprinting in the rain

1st day off.  11 days without chips, woohoo!!

Sardines on toast for breakfast.

Today was a sprint day. We have had a lot of heavy rain and ugly weather lately. I looked out the window and the rain appeared to have stopped for a little while.  I decided the best course of action would be a quick run around the lake and then some sprints, all on the concrete footpath, since everywhere is a mud-bath.

him2My plan was to take the dog for a quick run, for my warm up then put him in the car while I do the sprints.  He knows what it means when I put my running shoes on, since I took him with me every day that i did the C25K.  By the time I poked my nose out the door, the rain was back with a vengeance, and the dog was super excited about getting out, running back and forth from the door to the car.  I was no longer quite so keen.

Driving across town to hang out in the park in the pouring rain was getting less appealing by the minute.  But the dog needs a run now, and so do I.  I took him out to the park just behind our house, and ran around the outside of it for a quick warm up.  Then I did six sprints up the hill at the back of the park, sheltering under a tree, doing ballistic stretches during the rest intervals.  Then we went for another quick jog around the park,  back home and into a warm shower and some dry clothes.