#ProjectPaul: Phase 2 complete
So I'm now two thirds of the way through my 12 week programme, with 4 weeks to go...
There's been some visible progress I think - the photos here are just the difference between week 4 and week 8 so since the very start I've definitely lost fat and gained some muscle definition. I'm actually another two kilos lighter than I was at week 4, suggesting I was carrying more visceral body fat than even I had appreciated - so an added health improvement to add to the list. My wife also tells me I appear healthier and my skin looks better – another bonus! Is that due to the added nutrients from the extra veg in my diet, more omega 3 fatty acids, the increased water intake? Who knows, but given all of these things have multiple benefits anyway, does it really matter?
Ups and downs
One of the frustrating things about improvements to your body and health is that the changes aren't always linear. That is, if you plotted all your measurements and test results on a graph (and even laid out your progress photos) you might not see a nice straight line of continuous progress. My body weight for example, has gone up and down by up to a kilo every few days, whilst my skinfolds and circumference measurements have also fluctuated. The overall trend though, when you look at the figures and pictures over the whole 8 weeks so far, shows movement in the right direction and it's this that's important to focus on (part of the reason it's inadvisable to weigh or measure yourself daily - it could do more harm than good from a motivation perspective).
How do we measure "success"?
As we head towards the end, all of this has got me thinking about what I expected from the 12 weeks. As I was simply looking to see what body composition changes I could achieve, there were no specific goals set which of course means it's difficult to say what counts as a 'successful' outcome. Technically speaking, any change at all - no matter how small - could be seen as a success. As a pure experiment though, there would be no value or judgement placed on the end result anyway - it would simply be what I achieved in the 12 weeks, even if that is nothing at all!
Give me your thoughts!
I have of course seen some changes, but given this is an investigation into 'transformations', clearly I'm hoping for a noticeable and significant difference in my physique between the start and end photos. Perhaps then, success is judged by my own (and other people's) subjective perceptions of how much change has occurred. I’m interested in your thoughts on my progress and the final outcome – tweet me (@PaulSwainson) with the hashtag #ProjectPaul or comment on the School of PT Facebook page.
My biggest lesson...
So, with another month or so to go, my focus is naturally narrowing to make sure I maximise my results, which will be an interesting test. The last four weeks have actually been much harder from a training and nutrition perspective than the first four, in the sense of making sure I do everything I need to do, which surprised me given I'm into the routine and habit now. So if that trend continues I can expect a mentally tough few weeks. I can already say that the range of changes and sacrifices I've made have been the biggest lesson learned in this whole process. As such I'll do a separate blog just on that topic soon.