New Year's Day (forget the date above - I'm late writing this). When other people are enjoying their last official binge before the new-year blues set in (and the first attempts at starting resolutions), I'm busy with my workout.

I can't say I've been a saint as far as the diet is concerned - New-year in Holland has a tradition of eating fatty doughballs filled with raisins and smothered in icing-sugar. These are called Olie-bollen (deep-fried), and I ate my fill. Though my fill was kept to 3 throughout the day, I ate them without the sugar, and the rest of the day was low-carb.

My workout was needed then more than ever. Today's was "strength-2"... "focussing on lactic “burn” for accelerated fat loss. This workout is also designed to maintain or even build new muscle mass and strength."

And... I worked hard - did everything at level 3. The only thing that causes problems, is still the "screw-up". Though I tried it carefully, and I managed a couple despite my shoulder injury. So that's something!

It's really pleasing to experience the strength I've now got in my legs. At the beginning, holding a lunge position for 30 seconds was excrutiating... now I can hold them comfortably  for 50.

The festive distractions are more or less over now. You can feel the world getting back into normal daily routines. This is good for me - I feel I can return my focus more exclusively to the rest of the program. Only 11 more days to go, but it's only now that I'm really starting to feel the benefits, feel my body growing again... transforming towards my dream. Now I've got the hang of all the exercises; now I've got the strength to make something of them. Maybe this is what the 6 weeks is all about

 
Another fasting day, combined with the Shapeshifter "Stack" workout. No problem with the fasting - it was a relatively short day seeing as I only got up at 11am - one of my rare "lie-ins".

Actually I don't have any difficulties with the fasting even on a long day, but I'm wondering if I shouldn't stop with this part of the program now. My main goal over the next two weeks is to build muscle mass. I really don't have that much body-fat to lose anymore (lucky me!), so I think I have to decide if I need these fast-days or not - or if they're going to be counter-productive to my goal. It's not as if I intend to stuff myself with fat-building foods - I'll stick to the low-carb diet - but I will be increasing my efforts on the workouts, so this should be enough to ensure I continue to keep the fat at bay, even while I'm taking in more calories.

The workout was "stack" - another dynamic fat-burning routine: Afterburner 2, followed by Cardioflow. I tried something new again - I've mentioned earlier about the different levels within this routine - top level (3) of Afterburner being 14 reps of lungejump, 12 reps of Climber, and 10 reps of Stinger - all within the minute, starting on the minute, and resting in the time left over.

My challenge today was to complete 5 full rounds, in the recommended time, but at level 3. Well I did it - 4 weeks ago this was impossible. Proof again of my development. To follow I did 15 minutes of the Cardioflow sequence, which is also improving with every session.

I did all this around 5pm, and ate my first meal at 7pm. I can't say I experienced any lack of energy as a result of working out on an empty stomach. My meal was low-carb/high calorie, with lots of veg and beef. My "before-bed" snack was a nut-mix - I'm out of protein-drink... have to buy some more.
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On another note... I've started putting my increased stamina and strength to the test. My incentive to start this program was to develop my body so it would not only look good, but would function better too, allowing me to enjoy a broad variety of physical activities. I believe the Shapeshifter workouts create this "all-round, full-body condition of strength, agility, endurance and suppleness - so I want to see now if I can do other things than just Shapeshifter workouts.

I've chosen two extra activity-challenges for the next two weeks:
1) Running - something I've always wanted to get into, but just couldn't get into...
2) Handstand push-up - my first "Great New Body" party-trick!

These are not part of the Shapeshifter program so I'm not going to discuss them further here. But if you want to know how I get on with these extra challenges, then head on over to my "BLOG".
 
So, the Christmas celebrations are over, the food is eaten, the world is functioning as normal again, before the final party that brings in the new year. It's time to get back on the wagon and pick up where I left off.

Week 5... only two weeks of the program left... and a strong desire to make the most of it. In these last few days I've been able to reflect on the last 4 weeks. It seems ages ago that I started the program, but it's only a month. I've made great progress - so much that I wonder why I struggled so much, instead of putiing more effort into what I did so as to make even more progress. But maybe it just takes a month for a body that's so new to "exercise"  to get into the swing - I mean, I haven't done any sport since I left school at 16, and that was a loooooonnnggg time ago... changing a lifetime habit in 4 weeks is probably the greatest benefit of this program. And I do feel, now, that my life has changed. After 4 weeks, I feel I've missed something if I haven't done a workout. Wow...Shapeshifter is also a "mind-shifter".

So how did my day go?  Day 1... double workout day. In the morning 2 "rounds of "Afterburner-1". I did 3 rounds... full warm-up, no cool-down. Working on my balance doing the "flamingo" exercise. This is the workout with the strange-sounding names - but again I see progress. I can do the "dog-burps" now, which were exhausting in the beginning.

For nutrition, I started with a heavy breakfast of meat and veggies - warm-up from a Christmas meal. Must have been high in calories, and that's what I need to develop in this last 2 weeks, to build the musclemass I desperately need. I drank lots of water during the day... making sure I keep this under control too.

I took my measurements down again. Seems I've put on a cm or so around the waist (doesn't surprise me), but I've gained in the muscle areas too, so I'm going in the right direction.

I snacked during the day with nuts and cheese and some bread - this is wrong carb, but I just need to eat now. My evening meal was the recommended low-carb/high protein and fat though, with more meat and veggies and salad - using up all the stuff I bought in for Christmas.

In the early evening I did the 2nd part of my workout: "strength-1". 6 rounds of 45-second exercises. I did the full 6 rounds, but I kept the repetitions down to 15 per exercise - I can get more in, but I wouldn't finish 6 rounds. Another surprise is the "quad-squat" exercise... this was another killer in the beginning, but now I've got the hang of it and some extra strength, I managed to fit in 30 reps of this in 45 secs. By the last round  I have to admit I was feeling shattered, but recovery is quick. I'm finding that I'm starting to enjoy the process of exercising more. I mean even in the moments close to exaustion, when normally you think "why the hell am I doing this", I'm starting to get pleasure out of reaching my limit, knowing that I'm on the verge of surpassing it. This is a great boost to my morale.

So, to finish, I'm back in the game with a vengeance. I have no further distractions, and whole days to focus on my eating and workouts. I've got a goal over the next two weeks... to build muscle-mass and muscle-definition. I'm getting seriously busy with my transformation.
 
Hi there, it's been a very full and busy week since my last post. I saw it coming, and decided to let it come - and go - before I continued on my program. So I've posponed week 5 until now.
This is just a pauze - I've done my best not to lose everything I've gained up to this point. It's not an easy decision to break with the routine, but sometimes other things do take priority.
I finished my job last week, after 10 years - this of course demanded a significant farewell celebration, which coincided with the school's Christmas party. I drank a lot and ate a lot, and a lot of what I ate was not on my Shapeshifter menu. I didn't want to allow myself to feel guilty of this, so I still did "some" workouts, though not giving full effort.
And then came Christmas and boxing-day - there's no way I want to miss out on these days with my family. I drank lots and ate lots again - and again I tried for a balance by doing "some" exercising every day.

I could have followed the Shapeshifter program through the whole of the week, but my heart wouldn't have been in it. I know myself well enough to know I'm not going to fall back into old habits permanently. Maybe I've taken a risk and messed up my metabolism a little, but I don't think I've done much, if any, real harm. Three bad eating days is not going to put back all the body-fat I've lost in 4 weeks - and it's given me one hell of a psychological boost.

Anyway - now it's 27th December, and time to pick up where I left off. Start of Week 5.
My goals for this next two weeks is to give more attention to my calorie intake so as to put on some muscle-mass, and to take my training  up a notch to the next level. I've no more distractions (apart from New Years Eve), so I'm ready to rock-n-roll.
 
It's pretty clear from the daily posts that this week has been one of measurable improvement in performance and strength.

All the struggles I had in the beginning, physical and psychological, have all but disappeared, and I'm starting to feel the positive effects. I can't argue with the physical measurements - I'm getting thinner where I wanted to get thinner, and I'm broadening out in all the right places. This boosts my confidence, both in myself and in the program.

I've also reached that important point where working-out is no longer alien to me... it has become a leading factor in my lifestyle. I can go as far as to say that exercising is here to stay.

And as with the workouts, I've also gotton so used to watching what I eat, that this habit too has embedded itself into my mental-conditioning.

Reading through the instructions on the Shapeshifter site for this week, I notice that they also refer to the fact that this is the week where you can expect other people to notice change. It seems that it's the normal progression of the program - it just takes this long to reach this point. The fact that they confirm my experience gives me even more trust and satisfaction with the program.

But what next? Week 5 begins, and despite the natural course of improvement I've already experienced, I'm still hoping for more impressive physical change... not in strength or fat-loss (I think they are very much under control - I was never grossly fat, and the strength is growing daily) but in muscle-mass.

The problem for me - as I see it - is that I have to eat double what I normally eat in order to gain some mass. But that is an enormous amount, and I can't help but worry about building up the flab around my waist again while trying to build muscle over the rest of my body. Logic, and the program, tells me this won't happen as long as I keep up with the training, but I worry still.

My only way out is to come back to the purpose of this "program-diary"... to just follow the program and just "see" what the results are after 6 weeks, instead of setting a specific goal for myself. I lose sight of this purpose in my excitement and enthusiasm about reaching an "ideal" as quickly as possible.

To get back to my evaluation of this week  - it feels as if I reached a plateau, where I could rest and just go through the motions, and prepare myself for the most intense part of the project which is to come. And which I'm ready for. Which I've been primed for.
                           
 
Day 6 (sunday) was pretty uneventful so it doesn't seem worth writing a full post for it. The workout was 12 minutes of cardioflow, which I did at home. And my meals were a repeat of day5's. So just more of the same, and going through the motions. I had other things on my mind and agenda too.

Day 7, and the end of week 4... well let's start with this "Good-Carb-Day". Finally, what's considered as a "cheat" day on the Shapeshifter program. The chance to add some of the things you've been missing from your diet the last 4 weeks. I'm talking, for example,  rice, potatoes, bread... they are the "good" good-carbs, as opposed to the "bad" good-carbs like refined sugars and processed foods - these you still can't touch.

But who'd do that? Well, it's those sweet, delicious, luxury fattening foods that are the most addictive, that you crave for the most - that "I" crave for in any case. But at the same time, I'm só protective now of the fat-loss I've achieved around my middle that I really could not risk that all coming back just because I felt weak and stuffed myself to satisfy those cravings. Christmas is coming, and I know I'm not going to be so strict over those days, but until then, I need to make the most of this fat-burning process. So even though I can add some "extra" carbs to my meals, I'm not going to go wild (and Shapeshifter advises this too). Keep my meals pretty much to the same low-carb pattern, but enjoy a little extra on the side.

The whole idea is as a psychological break, and to load up on muscle glycogen. As Shapeshifter explains: "This can be extremely valuable from a mental and emotional perspective because it gives you a break from the grind of nutritional discipline. But it’s also beneficial from a physiological perspective because it pumps the muscles full of fuel for the days to come. There’s even some evidence that cheat days can bolster levels of the hormone leptin, which tends to plummet along with calorie restriction and fat loss. Leptin controls hunger (the lower it gets the hungrier you are), so manipulating this hormone can help your fat loss."

Whatever! Breakfast was eggs, with a slice of wholemeal bread; lunch was chicken salad with avocado, tomato and cucumber; dinner was (again) chicken and mixed veg and... rice.

Workout for the day... "regen" and "neuroboost" for 10 minutes. Did them both at home.
Next post is my week-4 evaluation, so all my further thoughts on this week I'll save for then.
 
It's saturday, and I treeted myself to a lie-in - got up at 9am (which is late for me).
Since the day usually begins with breakfast, let me begin with my meals for the day. Shapeshifter calls this a "Moderate-carb day". And you can..."add in some faster acting carbs such as fruits, yogurt, squash, beets and cooked carrots (you can eat raw carrots as a “free” veggie)."
I had to get some more food in, so I went shopping as soon as I got up, and bought myself some yoghurt and fruit, and all the rest of the items I'd need for the weekend.
Breakfast was the yoghurt and fruit, with almonds thrown in - and it made a delicious change to all the high-protein/low-carb meals I've been eating up to now. So refreshing and summery - I relished every mouthfull.
During the day I snacked on nuts, and had a lunch of avocado salad, and a dinner with chicken and broccoli and carrots (cooked) with a nice curry sauce and fresh pineapple pieces. Finished off the day with a protein-drink before bed.

Workout for the day was "Strength-2 circuit": Lungehold and lungeJumps for 3 rounds, then pushup hold and scewups for 3 rounds. As with yesterday, I attempted another level here too. I held the lunges for 50 seconds (instead of 30 for level-1), and this wasn't too difficult (so some proof of leg-strength development there). I tried the same with the pushup holds, but my arms are still not strong enough so I kept this down to level-1... holding for 30 secs. And as I can't do the screwups at all I replaced them again with regular pushups.

I was in school for my workouts - making the most of my opportunity to do this... one more week and I won't be working there anymore, so goodbye luxury workout rooms!
 
Another fast day. One of the extra benefits of fasting is that you don't have to think about food. Of course you think about eating - and during the day you get those moments when your stomach is screaming to be filled, but they subside as quickly as they come. But you don't have to keep your eye on the clock so as not to miss the next mealtime; and you don't have to take care to make up the right amount of calories in your meal; and you don't have to decide what food you should buy and prepare to keep your meals diverse.
For one day you can put food and calories and diet out of your head - as well as out of your stomach. I find this refreshing and liberating.

I did my exercises at home in the evening... glad to get home at the end of my work-week. The session was the same as day-2...Stack! After wednesday's great experience I changed things a little for myself. I did only 10 rounds (which is actually the recommended amount of rounds) doing the first circuit of "Afterburner" - but this time I jumped up to level 3 to see just how much I'm capable of. Let me explain again:
Afterburner 2 circuit is 3 exercises for a set number of reps each, all within one minute, and rest for the remainder of the minute. So the faster you do the reps the longer you have to rest. The exercises are called "Lunge-jump, climber and stinger" and you do on level-1 ... 10 reps LJ, 8 reps CL, 6 reps ST / level-2 ... 12, 10 and 8 reps / level-3 ... 14, 12 and 10 reps.
So today I tried level 3, and boy did I notice a difference. I must admit I couldn't keep it up for the full 10 rounds. I managed 5, then dropped to level-2 for a couple more rounds, then finished the rest off at level one. I'm not dissappointed - I'm getting stronger all round and I'm noticing it more and more. It's nice to know that if I keep this up (which I will), then by the end of the program I could be doing level-3 sessions with ease. Something I'm looking forward to.
So I finished my Stack-workout with 10 minutes of Cardioflow, and the cool-down, and finally had something to eat and made myself a delicious "slow-carb" salad with tuna and cheese and grated carrot and cucumber and nuts and peppers and chickpeas...
Quoting Shapeshifter: "Slow carb days allow you to gently start the process of refilling the glycogen (energy) stores in your muscles so you’ll continue to have high levels of energy for your training."
 
There's nothing more motivating than getting proof that your efforts are producing results.
I had another good workout. Not so astounding as yesterday"s, but definite measurable improvement in my performance - so more strength, more endurance, better balance (which is also down to more strength in all the supporting muscles).

The session was "strength 1" - 45 seconds per exercise, 7 exercises, 1 minute rest then begin next round for a total of 6 rounds. I sweated, I groaned, I heaved... but I got through the full 6 rounds - this was impossible for me even just a week ago.

It helped enormously when I last did this session using a mirror to get my posture right. Now I'm benefitting from it. Even the V-up, which 3 weeks ago was absolute agony, is within my capabilities... I can go as far as to say that I'm starting to enjoy them. Another milestone for me.

The mealplan is back to "low-carb"- nothing new to relate there. Eggs and bacon for breakfast; steak and salad for lunch (oh, how my colleagues look on in envy!); dinner is going to be fish and veggies. I must say one thing though: sometimes I have to force myself to eat a breakfast. I've explained before that I used to regularly not eat before 10 am, and sometimes not until much later (that's why the fast-days are no problem for me), but having to increase my calorie-intake to build muscle is not any easier for me than it is for others having to cut calories to lose weight. So maybe that serves as some comfort to you if your problem is one of "overweight", and if you think my condition, and my relatively small paunch shouldn't pose a considerable problem... for me it does.

That's about it for another day. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and another 24hour fast. I really feel my stomach shrinking, and I'm not far off the point where I can wear a t-shirt again... and make it look good.


 
I can speak of a 500% improvement in performance  - which surprised me, and pleased me enormously.
Today's workout is called "Stack": 5-15 minutes of "Afterburner 2 " sequence, followed (after a rest of 5 minutes) by 10 - 30 minutes of cardio flow.

Remember the "Afterburner"? Take a quick look on the video (week 1 Day 2) how I coped with my first introduction to this high-intensity workout. I was sagging and exhausted after the first three rounds. Well today I did 15 rounds in the allotted time and still could have done more. Suddenly this "killer" of a workout is easy peasy... I feel so strong - imagine what this is doing for my motivation!

The cardioflow I'd already got well to grips with (Week 3 Day 6, Under-The-Knee) so this whole session was a, for me, phenominal success. Funny thing with that "getting-fitter" process... you don't see it coming. Just that one day you realize that you can do some things a lot easier than before.
Today was also a fast-day. So I was doing my workout on an empty stomach. Can't say I noticed any negative effect of not eating, and the results speak to the contrary.
Broke the fast in the evening with pork and salad. This was nice and light, and the salad was refreshing -  but I have to admit, later in the evening I really could have eaten a sweet snack to go with my coffee... some cake, or biscuits, or chocolate. Had to be strong and resist the temptation (there was nothing in the house to snack on anyway!).