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Olympus Project: 12 week review

For those who followed our experiment in fitness, nutrition and lifestyle, this marks the last post in the 12 week process.  The final 3-4 weeks we decided to post in a single composite post.

Overall the process was enlightening.   We started with the premise proposed in Tim Ferris’ book (The 4-Hour Body) where working in conjunction with cross-fit endurance guru Brian Mackenzie he wrote about a workout program that boasted the ability to run a 5k or 50k by following the 12 week program.  We added the criteria that we would follow a whole-food, low-carb diet approach as taught in the NRG Tribe- Lifestyle Compass.

Woodlands finish line

We took that challenge and measured our results.  We made some initial goals.  Some were met.  Some were not.  We started with specific ailments and limitations and finished with others.

I find myself uninspired by the process.  I did notice improved physical stamina and a small drop in body fat.  I found the intensity of workouts difficult to deal with.  I’m 40 years old and in my younger years an accomplished athlete.  However, the intensity and repetition of some of the workouts led to an elbow injury and a tendency towards strains of both muscles and ligaments.

I think trying to do too much in 12 weeks was the key.   Drawn out over a longer period I think the cross-fit-endurance type workouts are ideal.  I think I overestimated my level of fitness and likely should have prepared my flexibility and strength more gradually prior to launching into such an ambitious workout program.

I don’t want to sound like a wimp.  I finished the workouts.  I completed the program.  I’ve got a few battle scars but I’m glad I accomplished the 12 week trial.  I fell short of my running goals.  I hoped to run 3 miles in less than 24 min.  I instead ran 26.5 min.  I hoped to gain more muscle mass in my arms, I gained 2 cm diameter in my biceps.  I hoped to run 800 m in less than 2:00 min.  Didn’t happen…not even close.  I was surprised to fairly easily run 9-10 miles after the first 8 weeks of the program.

My partner and NRG TRIBE contributor David Francis set an ambitious goal of running a marathon.  After all, the program boasted the ability to run a 50 k.  David was a strong runner as a baseline, but upon completion of the 12 weeks he did complete his first marathon.  Though no records were in danger he did survive and enjoy the sense of accomplishment a marathon warrants.  However, as we suspected, he felt early on the training program did not condition his legs adequately to “really” run a marathon.

I’m a big picture guy.  The original program as described by Tim Ferriss was designed to catch headlines.  It has merit and the approach is sound.  However, intensity of the workouts requires one carefully listens to their body.  If going from relatively low levels of fitness one might better spend 12 weeks preparing with lessor workouts prior to jumping in the level we attempted.

From a nutritional standpoint, the diet was fairly easy.  Eating whole foods felt natural although sometimes difficult to accomplish every meal while traveling and working a busy schedule.  I could definitely tell eliminating processed sugar, alcohol and fast foods, that my body responded better to exercise.  I felt leaner and more fit.  My energy levels generally were much higher, except after a few points when the workouts were simply too much.  (2-3 day periods / once or twice during the program)

In the end, I hope the Olympus project inspired others to get busy.   David and I both realized about 3/4 way through the program that it didn’t matter how many pounds we gained or lost.  It didn’t matter if we hit our time or finished the marathon.  The point was we were really trying to inspire others to reach a little higher themselves.  We spend all our clinical lives trying to improve the health of others.  Exercise and proper nutrition provide the platform from which health grows.  David and I are better for the process.  We learned a great deal about ourselves and the process of change many of our clients/patients face.

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