For the past several weeks, I’ve been walking us through a very complex example of a Karma Sense Eating Plan that I intend to tackle. I have an aggressive and highly specific goal that calls for several distinct actions. I’m documenting it publicly to:
- Demonstrate the planning and execution process. Most people’s goals for health and happiness are not as specific as what I’m trying to do in this plan. But if KSEP can support what I want to achieve, it is certainly applicable to more general cases.
- Document a case study that can be referenced in the future when working with other followers of The Karma Sense Eating Plan.
- Provide some accountability for my plan. If I create the plan but have poor adherence, people reading this will know. This acts as an incentive for me to stick to the plan.
Previous installments of this series covered multiple topics. In addition to documenting my Karma Sense Eating Plan, I discussed other health matters that related to different aspects of KSEP. After reviewing feedback and monitoring my website stats, I can see that the discussions on health topics are of greater interest than the documentation of my plan. Going forward I’ll separate the plan documentation posts from the other posts of greater general interest.
This is a post that further documents my plan. If the mechanics of developing your own Karma Sense Eating Plan isn’t of interest to you, I suggest you stop reading and wait until my next post which will probably cover something immature but interesting.
Summary of My Plan So Far
This whole mess started when I posted the last installment of The Karma Sense Eating Plan series. That post was the description of the Plan component and it explained how to tie all of the super-dee-duper healthy habit formation and nutrition information of the previous installments into a cohesive plan for being happier, healthier and, oh yeah, saving the world.
To begin developing a plan, you need to take a kind of inventory of your hopes, wishes, and dreams. It’s a process that looks a little like this.
In the past several installments of this current series we got through all of this. In Summary:
I am content with my current physical and mental health and would like to look and feel the same as I do now for as long as I can. I want to be in a position to better manage my destiny and have more control over what I do from day-to-day. I want to excel at helping others find the happiness I’ve found. My family time should never be restricted.
- Competence – I want to stand among the best health and happiness coaches.
- Family – I place a priority on my family’s happiness and security. I’d sacrifice anything for it.
- Independence – I want to maneuver through the world on my own terms. I spend a significant amount of time in a job that limits my independence. I’ve worked that way for years. It’s time for a change.
- Making a contribution – I’m happiest when I am helping others achieve their own happiness.
- Tolerance – I love being exposed to different points of view. I learn so much that way and it helps guide and reinforce my belief system.
- Vitality – I want to be vibrant and robust until my last day here.
- Improve my body composition (lower my body fat percentage preferably by building muscle without gaining significant amounts of fat).
- Improve my knowledge as a coach by adopting a daily 16-hour fasting protocol. This is a nutrition protocol that is used by people looking to increase muscle mass and may be safer for women than the 24 hour Intermittent Fast (IF) that I usually do.
- Demonstrate the efficacy of the Karma Sense Eating Plan.
- I can’t (won’t) totally give up ice cream, beer or wine.
- I travel a lot for work and that affects my eating and exercise schedule.
- I live in a neighborhood with many non-compliant temptations just steps from my door.
- It’s difficult for me to decline a well made french fry.
- I want to eat less animal protein in favor of plant protein.
- My work schedule will make it a constant challenge to time workouts so that they occur at the end of my fasting period and immediately before my feeding period (I already know this is a requirement in my new IF protocol. I need to be prepared to make exceptions).
- Improve my body composition by dropping my body fat percentage by 5%.
- Improve my knowledge as a coach by trying a nutrition protocol that is used by many body builders and may be safer for women than the 24-hour IF that I usually do.
- Demonstrate the efficacy of The Karma Sense Eating Plan.
- Be healthier, happier and save the world.
I decided to engage outside support for the first goal, “improve my body composition by dropping my body fat percentage by 5%” due to its highly technical nature. Also,because it requires many individual actions that are not already habits, engaging outside support will help me stay accountable. It will also help me uncover any roadblocks if I get stuck without making progress. I haven’t dragged my health coach into my L4 life since these posts. It’s time to re-engage.
Mapping Out the Plan
With all of this information collected, I can now start building the specifics of the plan.
Step 5: Determine What Components and Mantras Apply
In the description of the Plan component, I discuss the option of adopting all of The Karma Sense Eating Plan components and mantras “Big Bang” style versus adopting them over time (versus a third alternative only adopting the parts you want and a fourth alternative of blowing the whole thing off and binge watching I Dream of Jeannie reruns).
I’ve been doing this Karma Sense thing for a long time. I’ve played with all parts of it in different combinations. I’m a KSEP veteran. Meanwhile, my goals are pretty complex and all the components and mantras apply. Normally I would recommend that rookies go into this slowly. But I’m ready to do it all. Some of these habits have been hardwired for a long time. Let’s look at how this works while moving onto…
Step 6 – Map Out Your Plan
Most of this map will need to focus on the first goal…
Improve Body Composition by Dropping Body Fat by 5%
I’m at a healthy weight for my age. My BMI is right on track and my body fat percentage is nothing to be ashamed of. With that, dropping body fat by 5% is no easy feat. I likely won’t achieve it, but I want to try. To do this, I’ll need to carefully manage my calories, macronutrients, exercise, and supplements. I’ll need to do something different each day.
I won’t get into how I calculated all this (because I don’t want to lose any more of you than I already have) but my food intake will look something like this:
Let’s take a close look at this table. Each column is a day of the week. Each row lists my target intake of calories or grams of the macronutrient listed. Here are some things to note.
- I’m planning to go noncompliant (i.e., not micromanage my food) one weekend day each week. Some days this will be Saturday and some days it will be Sunday. I just designated one day to be Weekend 1 and one day to be Weekend 2. The blackened day is the Saturday or Sunday I am noncompliant. The other weekend day contains my targets for the column marked Weekend 1.
- I plan to do heavier exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Note that calorie intake is larger on those days and that I eat more carbohydrates relative to protein and fat on those days vs. Tuesday, Thursday and weekends.
- I’m skipping alcohol on light exercise days. To increase my chance for success, I shouldn’t be consuming any alcohol but I already identified that as a non-negotiable. Because our bodies prioritize the calories in alcohol over the calories in carbs for energy, I’ll compromise here and not drink on Tuesday and Thursday. On other days, I’ll restrict myself to one glass of wine. In reality, I’ll probably end up drinking less than this during most weeks.
- Note that on all days, except for the noncompliance day, my first meal will be around 1:00 PM and I won’t eat after 9:00 PM. This is part of the 16/8 Intermittent Fasting protocol that I’ll be trying out. Because I aim to decrease my body fat percentage by increasing my muscle mass, I’ll need to fit a lot of calories into that period on heavy exercise days. I expect my scale to go bat$hit crazy from day to day.
The only reason you would ever need to map out your eating like I did above is if you had a highly specific goal and a well known time frame to achieve it (e.g. lose 4 dress sizes by your high school reunion). For most cases, very simple compliance to the 5 mantras of the KSEP Eating component will suit your needs (i.e., no calorie counting, no micromanaging of macronutrients).
I have an exercise routine laid out that will vary over time. On heavy exercise days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), I’ll focus on weight training. On light days (Tuesday, Thursday), I’ll do recovery training that consists of light cardio, stretching and/or body weight exercises.
My skepticism of nutritional supplements is well documented. But skepticism should not be confused with dismissal. There are a few supplements that are already part of my current routine. Those are outside the scope of this discussion.
After lots of research on fasted exercise, I’ve decided to take Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) prior to workout on my heavy exercise days. BCAAs are purported to increase energy for workouts and reduce muscle breakdown. I’ll need that kind of help because my workouts are fasted workouts. I remain skeptical, but I’ll give it a chance.
Skipping ahead, I’ve been doing the routine you’re reading about now for the past several weeks. On days I’ve forgotten to take the BCAAs, I do seem to tire more quickly. I don’t think that’s just placebo effect because I don’t realize that I forgot to take the BCAAs until well after the fatigue becomes apparent.
I am also considering the PAGG stack. This is a suite of supplements that consists of Policosanol, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Green Tea, and Garlic. Each of these individually are known to have positive effects on metabolism, cell health, etc. Together they are alleged to be a natural fat loss powerhouse. I highly doubt this. But I may consider adding this to my plan at a later time if my progress is limited. Again, individually the evidence supports the positive effects of these supplements. But they’re expensive and it’s not clear they’re worth it. We’ll see where this goes. A better way to adjust for my stalled progress may be to cut calories or increase exercise.
Improve Knowledge as a Coach and Demonstrate the Efficacy of The Karma Sense Eating Plan.
This is a combination of the next two goals in my list. The very action of going through the plan that I am mapping out addresses each of these goals but I need a way to be accountable, know whether I’m succeeding, and adjust if I’m not. Fortunately, I have a blog that I can use to keep me accountable and track my progress. I need to be sure to continue to document what I am doing with this plan and include a lessons learned section.
Be Healthier, Happier and Save the World
As we discussed, this is a very low specificity goal. I plan on making it specific.
My first goal is to change my body composition. I want to do this by increasing muscle mass, but I concede that losing fat may be easier for me based on my age, the time available for exercise, and my willingness to eat sufficient calories in an eight-hour window. If I am successful in changing my body fat percentage by -5% and I do this only by losing fat, I’ll be close to being underweight and that’s not my idea of “healthier”. But if I can increase my muscle mass, the healthier part is covered.
On the happiness front, I have to say. I don’t know if I can be any happier. Sure I get frustrated, annoyed and even angry. But those emotions are not the same as being unhappy. Just having the opportunity to work through this process will make me happy. Even if this plan fails, I’ll have learned a crapload and that’s a win. I think the happier axis is covered. By the way, here is a great link to an article on the science of happiness. It is written by someone else with a Computer Science and Psychology degree. Apparently people like us agree that you become better at being happy when you practice being happy (Sense component).
Save the World
Here is where I need to do something extra. And what I plan to do is to leverage the fact that with a 16 hour fast, I’ll be skipping some meals. I won’t be skipping meals every day. On heavy workout days, I’ll be eating a normal amount of calories but my meals will be compressed into a shorter window. I figure on average I’ll be saving about $3.00 per day. I’ll round it up to $5.00 and say that every day I go through this plan, including non-compliance days, I’ll put $5.00 in a pot that is ultimately destined for charity. To honor the Sense component, I’ll be sure to include this action in my thoughts as part of my pre-meal ritual.
How will I keep track of all this? With a table (woohoo!). In the description of the Plan component, I provide some sample tables for plans for fictitious (but totally awesome) characters from the Power Rangers. Here’s what mine looks like.
Note that this table refers to other resources such as the nutrition table (shown earlier) and my exercise plan. In the coming weeks, I’ll use this table to track my adherence to the plan. In another table, I’ll track my progress. If I’m not seeing the progress I hope, I’ll adjust my plan or my expectations. Regardless, I’ll get to play with lots of tables so it’s a win for me.
In the coming weeks, we’ll see what happens as I begin to introduce my habits and track my results. This is where the real learning begins.
Time is Running Out
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