And what is my excuse for this calamity?... I didn't feel like it - just didn't feel like working up the energy after a full day's work to get down and work out.
And at the beginning of the week I was so enthusiastic... what went wrong?
I've been going over my feelings on the matter. And I came to the conclusion that I'd underestimated the power of "old habits".
It doesn't matter how much I try to convince myself of the good I'm doing for my body, for now and the future, the old lifestyle habits are hard to break. The desire to get home as quickly as possible and flake out on the settee with just my thoughts; or have a snooze and dream the day's events away; or tuck into a carb-loaded dish then hang out in front of the tv the whole night with some sweet snacks and milky coffee until I can't keep my eyes open... Oh the pleasure of having nothing to do, nothing on my mind, no shoulds or coulds or musts!
This is not a problem specific to the Shapeshifter program, but a normal reaction of my conditioning to keep the status quo - "please, no change", it screams!
And this is so powerful that you find yourself creating excuses for yourself to believe in - like: one day won't matter; another day won't make much difference; I can catch up in the next workout... and before you know it you've missed a whole week - and started on the chocolate and cookies. Slippery slope!
The trouble is that the exercising itself, the "working out", doesn't give me enough pleasure to overide my old habits. I've nothing against the exercises, and all workout programs demand that you step out of your comfort-zone if you want to develop your body. So how do I get over this - how can I link pleasure to this "physically unpleasurable" process of working my muscles until they ache?
This was my priority task these last couple of days - and it wasn't enough to just talk myself into getting back on track, back into the schedule of the program - I wanted to be so clear on this matter, once and for all, that not only would I not slip again over the coming weeks, but that my workouts and completion of the program would become my only priority - it had to be more than a project or a goal... it had to become an obsession!
So how do I achieve this?
I started by re-assessing the whole purpose behind this project - why am I doing this? Yes, to improve my body; to get back in shape; to get rid of the bulge; to build some mass on my arms, chest, shoulders, butt and legs. But then I can ask myself why I want to do that. And we get into the deeper-lying desires of wanting to look good, of feeling good about myself, feeling attractive, not feeling old and worn-out before my time, not being ashamed of my physique.
These are the personal reasons - the "ego-driven" reasons - and they are more powerful motivators. But even they are not enough, because I can easily argue against these "ego-satisfiers", saying I should be able to accept myself as I am, that these are purely cosmetic reasons steeped in vanity and the need to please others. There are more valuable things in life than how you look from the outside - right? But these points fail too when I contra-argue that it's my life and my body and I don't need reasons to do the things I do - wanting to do them is enough.
At this point I come up stalemate - I can do this, or "not" do it - the only way forward is to focus on the desire... and that has to be strong enough to provoke action - without discussion.
So, now, what then is my true desire? To escape from the unavoidable consequences of my present lifestyle - to get out of my comfort zone which will take me nowhere new - and begin an adventure of physical activity. Prepare myself for a dreamed-of-future where I can ski and skydive, run marathons and climb mountains, do saltos and walk across continents. Oh I have a whole list, and get terribly annoyed when people dismiss these desires as idle daydreams. And there lies the essential element of this whole process - I must not allow these desires to become idle daydreams... that would make a joke of my deepest beliefs and values.
It's not a matter really of just wanting to get in shape... I "need" to get in shape - my self-worth is dependent on this. My present lifestyle, and all my old lifestyle habits are poisons working in my psyche, and I need desperately to DETOX. I need to rid myself of these traits-of-conditioning that I've become so comfortable with and dependent on.
Anybody can lose weight; anybody can build muscle; anybody can transform their shape. It's been done thousands of times and been proved in numerous ways. The "body", as a biological entity is capable of enormous change. The problem is always with the psyche... always!
And it's only when you finally take action to do something about your physique that you are confronted with the power and resilience of your conditioning.
I thought it would be easy. I knew the exercises would floor me in the beginning, but I was convinced that I'd have no problem following a program for 6 weeks. This has been a bit of a downer , to discover how mentally weak I can be. But maybe it's a good thing too, because it's forced me into this reassessment.
I chose Shapeshifter because their program is based on bodyweight exercises... full- body training to improve the form and capabilities of the full body. I still believe this to be the most suitable form of workout for the activities I have planned for the future. I'm not after just cosmetic improvement - I want/need to be able to do things with my physique - to move, to jump, to climb, to hang, to swing, to run, to twist and turn without injury. I understand that I won't be able to do these things if I can't even manage to get through the Shapeshifter exercises - I see more clearly now just how perfectly designed they are for my goals.
So what am I going to do now? Advice to others on the Shapeshifter site, is to just take up where you left off. So that's my starting point. But I have to get more seriously involved with my workouts to make sure this doesn't happen again - not at this crucial point, halfway through the program. I am making progress, that's my leverage along with my vision for the future. So I have to focus my psyche on this and the physical goals I have for next year. And put all other activities in 2nd place behind my workouts.
It's saturday as I write this, and I was at school this morning. I did my day 5 session of the "strength 2" workout. I'm two days behind, which changes my personal schedule, but I have to fit my life and work around this, not the other way around.
And how did it go, after such a long break? Well, actually, it went well - better than expected. The mission was 6 rounds of the circuit - so with rests included, it's a good hour of exercising. I did 3 rounds following instructions, then I took a 3 minute break before starting on the next 3 rounds. but I got through them and that's what's important.
I worked with a mirror again to make sure I was doing everything right, and this really helps. If you've got the wrong posture, the exercises are more difficult than they need to be. Especially exercises like the rocco-press and the quad-press - they were excrutiating when I started, but even though they're still not easy, with the right posture I can make it through the 45 second rounds.
One extra thing I discovered in these last few days is that I've probably been underfeeding myself. I made the mistake of not weighing myself at the beginning of the program, but I've done that now, and at my 165 lbs I need to be eating double what I'm used to in order to build up muscle mass. This should not effect the body-fat-loss goal, because I'll still be eating low-carb (and fasting) - but obesity was not my problem anyway, just the belly-bulge and wasted muscle-tone.
So I'm going to try to eat more over the next 3 weeks and get some muscle-mass. Believe me, this is more difficult for me than "not" eating.