For the next 2 months I will be participating in an incredibly vulnerable self imposed experiment. I have always been an active person. Dancing, hiking, yoga and walking are how I have gotten my exercise for most of my adult life. Although I am in relatively good shape for a 30 year old female, I have always had a deep desire to see what it would be like to really focus on my body for a few months and commit to an intense training regimen that focuses on increasing strength and stamina in a safe and healthy manner. Let me be very clear about one thing. I am not dissatisfied with my body the way it looks now. I have been following a pretty strict Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle program for the past 4 years, and have watched my body transform from the inside out. I used to have a chronic digestive disease called ulcerative colitis and poor diet and lifestyle choices that weakened my immune system. I can remember I would fall sick 4-6 times per year with tonsillitis, fevers, colds and other illnesses. Since I began studying Ayurveda I have cured myself from all of these diseases, hardly ever get sick, and have more energy and vitality now more than ever before. The most important thing to me is that I feel good. I would also love to be able to do a full push-up and a pull-up, I must admit I haven't been able to do this since I can't remember when. (holy vulnerability)
That being said, now that I have achieved this optimum state of internal health and well being, I am ready to take a step deeper and dive into building my physical strength and stamina. I looked into quite a few options including: Cross Fit, hiring a personal trainer, I even thought about doing the P90 X videos! Finally I found the perfect solution. There is an awesome new gym called Relictree Fitness that recently opened up in my neighborhood. They focus on Natural Training which uses your body's own weight as resistance instead of lifting external weights. I also chose this gym because they have a lot of Yoga classes, Nia classes and Cardio Dance classes too. I decided that I would commit to 3 classes at Relictree every week. 2 of these classes would be intense high cardio, muscle building Natural Strength Training or Boot Camp classes, and the third would be something more mellow like dance or yoga. I am also still committing to my regular dance classes that I attend twice per week, so in total I will be working out a minimum of 5 days per week.
I chose to start this intense training in the late fall on purpose. In the Ayurvedic tradition, it is best to build muscle during the colder winter months as opposed to the hot summer months because our bodies are deeply connected to nature, and the hot summer sun can be very depleting to our bodily tissues. In the winter time, our bodies become very strong, our digestive capacity increases and we can endure more strenuous workouts. I will also be following a strict Ayurvedic diet, making sure I am eating plenty of ghee and other healthy fats, rice and quinoa protein rich dahls, cooked vegetables, soups and stews, fresh fruits and some organic freerange chicken and fish when I feel the desire to eat meat. I will also be oiling my body and head a few times a week to make sure I keep Vata dosha under control and joints well lubricated.
I just finished my first official week, and boy am I sore! There are some muscles that I am beginning to feel that I didn't even know I had. They did a bunch of tests on me when I first started to keep track of my progress.
Here are my "before" stats:
Body Fat %- 22.8
Lean Mass- 109.7 lbs
Fat Mass- 32.3 lbs
Resting Metabolic Rate- 1,448 calories/day
Thanks so much for reading. It helps me stay on track and accountable to make this experiment open to the public eye. I feel pretty naked sharing all of this information, but my hope is that it will inspire other people to build strength in a healthy way, coming from a place of wholeness and love rather than restriction and punishment.
I plan on blogging about this journey every 2 weeks to track my progress. Please subscribe to my blog if you want to be notified of updates.