the path to optimal health: OHC weeks 3 & 4.

by Janetha on January 26, 2013

in fun facts,goals

today wrapped up week three of the optimal health challenge and marked the start of week four. because life has been hectic, i have decided to summarize both weeks into today’s post.


i am in the middle of a six-week challenge with my fellow gym members. this is NOT a weight loss challenge. the optimal health challenge is an opportunity to mess around with various methods to determine what ultimately works best for each of our individual bodies. each week we have three assignments directly related to three aspects:


you can see my previous recaps here:

like i said, we just finished week three. here’s a quick recap of the assignments and how they made me feel!

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 4 52 24 PM

there are four areas we focus on at GPP: squatting, pushing, pulling, and core. then, of course, cardio. we’ve already covered squatting and cardio, so week 3 was all about the pushing movements. pushing movements hit half of the muscles in the upper body–half of your deltoid (front), half of your arm (triceps), and half of your torso (chest.) these include, but are not limited to:

  • strict push-ups & snaking push-ups (from toes or knees)
  • the three overhead pushes: OH press, push press, and jerk
  • triceps dips & other triceps movements (french press, skull crushers, and kickbacks to name a few)
it is important to incorporate a variety of pushing movements into our workouts because our muscles are worked differently with each individual movement. a strict movement hits strength and when we put our body into the movements it works many other aspects than strength, including our flexibility. both are beneficial!

our fitness assignment for the week was to complete a total of 1,000 push-ups of any kind–both strict and snaking. push-ups done inside of our workout DID count, so it was nice to knock out 100 in monday’s hit the deck workout. i have to say that i fell short on this assignment (whoops!) and completed only 510 before the meeting this morning. i have managed to bust out a few more sets today and am sitting at 750 push-ups. i will get to 1,000 before the weekend is over. better late than never!

many people said that even after just one week of focusing on push-ups they could tell a HUGE difference in their body–not only their chest and arms, but also their core. push-ups are a fantastic do-anywhere exercise and have so many benefits.

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 4 53 04 PM

our nutrition assignment last week was to consume FIVE servings each of fruit and vegetables. they also had to be RAW servings. this one was TOUGH for me. i am pretty OK at eating fruit, but usually fall (very) short on veggie consumption. sometimes the only fruit and vegetables i eat in a day is in the blended juice marshall makes me. i am more drawn to carbs like bread, potatoes, oatmeal, and.. um.. cereal! i have a hard time with the fruit and veggies, not gonna lie.

i started out the first three days diligently eating my five servings. i found this little tray of precut veggies at trader joe’s that was actually five servings for the whole thing. granted, it was the starchier veggies like jicama and peas.. but it still counted for raw veggie servings!

IMG 6462

i ate a lot of steel cut oats topped with sliced banana. this was my breakfast most mornings.

IMG 6547

after a few days of eating so much fruit and so many vegetables, i felt so bloated. this was partially due to the fact that they were raw, but mainly because my body was just not used to eating so much produce. i was uncomfortable and bloated–and my measurements obviously went up. we are tracking things that are observable and measurable for this challenge in order to draw conclusions from these measurements and observations. it’s important to take all factors into account, but mainly how i feel. however, it’s good to measure things, too! i am using a tape and a scale for the measurable things. i am measured each week with a tape and my stomach went up about an inch. i don’t weigh myself with a normal scale (don’t need to know my weight–not trying to lose weight), but i am tracking how my weight fluctuates on this challenge by using the zero scale. it records your weight without telling you the number and then tells you how much you gain or lose. during the high protein week of the challenge, i lost weight. my body (clearly) thrives on a high protein diet. when i started eating so many fruits and veggies, i gained two pounds. the numbers don’t matter, but it’s interesting how they correlate to how i was feeling each week. i don’t think i am active enough to eat all those carbs from fruit. they’re sugar. YES, they are naturally occurring GOOD sugar, but sugar is sugar and if your body doesn’t use it.. well.. you gain.

it is REALLY interesting to learn how my body responds to eating different ways. by the end of this challenge i plan to know exactly how my body wants me to eat and have a meal plan dialed in for optimal health. so far i have learned that i like at least 96 oz of water a day, at least 100 grams of protein, and i do better with about 2-3 servings of fruit each day and do better with cooked veggies. it’s cool to make these observations!

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 4 53 41 PM

the lifestyle challenge last week was to find three minutes to lay perfectly still, eyes closed, and ZONE OUT. i found it was hard for me to find the time to actually DO this, but once i laid down to do it.. it was easy peasy for me. i am good at shutting my brain off (and have always been an awesome sleeper!)

i do this in acupuncture for nearly an hour each session, so three minutes wasn’t bad. in fact, i fell asleep a couple of times! i found it interesting that a substantial amount of OHC participants COULDN’T do the three minutes of meditation. they tried and tried, but just could not allow their brains to let go and just zone out. this lifestyle challenge was definitely up my alley and i liked it a lot.

today we had our meeting introducing the week 4 challenges. they are awesome!

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 4 55 23 PM

since we focused on the pushing movements last week, this week we are focusing on the PULLING movements. specifically: pull-ups. there are also other pulling movements like rowing, biceps curls, and cleans. but, for this challenge, our assignment is focusing on two different movements:

the reason we are focusing on TWO different types of pull-ups is because they hit two completely different parts of our bodies with the two pulls: a high pull and a mid pull.
high pull includes kipping pull-ups, strict pull-ups, and chin-ups.
IMG 4720
you hit the mid-pull muscles with an aussie pull-up. it can be done from a ring, a bar, with bands.. lots of ways to get a mid-pull!
IMG 4726
oh, and in case you are wondering, it’s called an aussie pull-up because you do it from down under ;)

i completed my pull-ups at gold’s gym today after walking 3 miles (bo-ring.) because there were no rings, i just did the aussies under the bar of the smith machine. there’s not a good spot for kipping pull-ups at golds, so i did the high pull pull-ups on the assisted machine with 50# of assistance. since i will be on vacation most of the week, i plan to take bands with me to complete the same motions–high pull and mid pull–in my hotel room. improvisation, folks!

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 4 54 54 PM

we have experimented with a high protein diet, a high fruit and vegetable diet, and this week we will be experimenting with a high fat diet.

IMG 4715

when i did body for life, i ate at a 40/40/20 carb/protein/fat ratio. this week, i will be upping my fat ratio to 35-40%, meaning 35-40% of my calories will come from fat. i know it’s sometimes tricky to figure out just how many grams of fat that is. back in 2010, i posted a very detailed tutorial on how to calculate macronutrient ratios.. feel free to check it out. basically, a gram of protein is four calories, a gram of carbs is four calories, and a gram of fat is nine calories.

to calculate the number of grams for 40% of your calories from fat, you use this formula:

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 5 58 34 PM

SO, say you eat 1600 calories a day and you want to get 40% of those calories from fat. here is the equation:

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 6 00 17 PM

make sense?

i am really excited to see how my body reacts to a higher fat diet. right now i would say i’ve been eating around 25% and so i plan to increase my fat intake by 10-15% this week.

i came straight home from the meeting and blended up a fat-filled protein shake. it had almond milk, plant fusion chocolate raspberry protein powder, blueberries, ice, and hemp seed.

IMG 6614

i LOVE these hemp hearts hemp seeds. i blended them into my shake and also sprinkled them on top. marshall puts them in our juice, too.

IMG 6618IMG 6616

here is a great article explaining the four types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat. very informative. my friend candice, who is also participating in OHC, just posted all about fats. check it out!

Screen Shot 2013 01 26 at 4 54 12 PM

finally, our lifestyle challenge for the week is to journal our meals & moves. this one will be easy for me. i love to journal and truly believe it is a valuable tool! we will be keeping track of three things:

  • food
  • exercise
  • sleep

for each thing, we will be writing down WHEN, HOW MUCH, and HOW DO YOU FEEL. i still have my journal from when i did my first body for life challenge (before the blog) and i look back at that journal often. it is pure gold. i am so glad i wrote down what i was eating, my water consumption, what my workouts were, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, how that all made me feel! we are all so different, so keeping a journal is like writing a book about yourself and you can use it for reference when trying to determine what works best for YOU.

WHEW.. that was a long recap and intro of weeks 3 and 4.. but i think it is very important to document this journey! i know it will be a little tricky to stick to my assignments with my vacation, but i will do my best.

well, it’s saturday night! i am off to eat dinner at desert edge pub and then to the pinback show. can’t wait!


1. how many fruits & veggies do you eat daily? do you prefer raw or cooked?

2. what is your favorite fat source?

xo. janetha g.

Print Friendly
Mollie K January 26, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I love how this challenge is really helping you figure out what works best for your body! I love playing around with different foods and stuff to see what makes my body feel best. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Trisha January 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I eat TONS of veggies! I keep my fruit to 1-2 servings a day usually in morning ( meal 1 ) and post workout. I like veggies raw for convenience … But as I sit here bloated like crazy I realize sometimes certain raw veg don’t like me ( thank you cauliflower)

PEANUT BUTTER or any nut butter for that matter !! Jar , spoon – ’nuff said. ( coconut butter close second )

Lindsay January 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm

i loooooove raw fruits andveggies, but bloating is an unfortunate side effect.

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance January 26, 2013 at 8:20 pm

It’s really interesting to see how you’re learning more about the type of diet that works best for you. I have found that a higher protein diet is important for me to feel my best, but I seem to be okay with lots of fruits, too.

My favorite sources of healthy fats are 1.) nuts/nut butters, 2.) avocado and 3.) fish. Recently, I’ve been adding more coconut oil into my diet, and so far I’m really liking it.

Linz @ Itz Linz January 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Wow this is so interesting!! I’d be curious to how my body responds if I really tracked what and how much I ate.. I very much prefer cooked veggies and my favorite fat source is def almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter. MmmM!

Melissa January 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I don’t want to sound argumentative or nit picky but something you said is resonating with me. Initially you identify what you are doing is not a weight loss challenge. Later on though, you identify a high protein diet as being the best for your body because you lost weight on it. You also said your body isn’t used to eating so much fruit and you gained 2 lbs on it. I reocgnize that you are a shortie (like me!) and that 2 lbs can seem like a lot but so many different factors can lead to a 2 lb weight gain (where you are in your cycle, whether or not you pooped, the fact that your body is adjusting to a newly increased fruit intake, etc). Obviously it is your body and you know it best but it just seems like you are equating a healthy diet for you as being high protein because it is what gives you the lowest number on the scale. I think we all know that the number on the scale isn’t the be all and end all for measuring your health.

Janetha January 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I actually agree, Melissa! I never weigh myself, don’t know what I weigh, don’t CARE what I weigh, and don’t think the number on the scale has shit to do with your health. This is NOT a weight loss challenge and I have no need nor desire to lose weight. However, the experiments we are doing with our nutrition are things that need to be observable and measurable and then we can draw conclusions from those the observations and measurements. That is the reasoning behind measuring with a tape and weighing each week. I agree that so many factors can play into your weight on any given day. However, I was simply pointing out the correlation of my weight with how I FELT for each challenge. I felt awesome with the protein. I felt like crap with the raw veggies. An, wouldn’t you know it, my acupuncturist told me my colon would be better off with cooked food and cooked veggies over raw. He knows what’s up because that is EXACTLY what I discovered. I am doing this challenge to discover the optimal nutrition plan for my body. I am not worried about my weight–I am worried about my colon. Doctors want to remove it, I don’t want to do that, and if I can find a way to manage my problems through diet then I sure as shit will do that. Once again, the only reason I talked about my weight at all is because it is one measurable factor in this challenge. However, I believe health has to do with your digestive regularity, your mental happiness, your physical ability to perform the ten aspects of fitness, and having a healthy range of body fat (not weight.) I gave up the scale long ago, and if you have been reading my blog for awhile you would know that I don’t consider weight a factor in how healthy you are or are not. Sorry you got the wrong impression and believe I was equating a healthy diet to a lower number on the scale. That’s not what I was doing. I was saying that the scale was lower on the week that I felt better. Ultimately I am going off of how I feel, how often I poop, how few UTIs I get (I have chronic UTIs ever since I was 3 years old), my energy levels, and how my brain feels. Hope that clears up your confusion.

Andrea@WellnessNotes January 26, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I’ve been eating a lot more raw veggies lately (actually they are by far the largest part of my meals), and it did lead to some bloating initially. I don’t like fruit all that much but have been using it in my green smoothies every morning.

Favorite fat source? Avocados.

lynn @ the actor's diet January 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm

i’m such a cooked veggie kinda gal! but fruits…i’ll take them any way i can!

Deb January 27, 2013 at 12:47 am

I usually eat my weight in veggies but recent info out there in the webisphere says insoluble fiber might make digestion problems worse, doh! Ugh, who to believe?!?

Fat: coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, truffle infused olive oil or just plain butter (of course all the nut butters too but they aren’t pure fat)

I didn’t know u r going on vacay?!!!! Somewhere fun, and with whom?

Colleen January 27, 2013 at 4:58 am

What a cool and educational challenge! I love how GPP focuses on teaching it’s members how to find a healthy lifestyle that works for them, in addition to holding workout classes. I wish there was something like that near me!

Alayne January 27, 2013 at 5:44 am

One of my favorite blogs (and I love all of them) but this one really inspired my to look at all the components of my lifestyle and figure out what bakes me and my body tick. I wish we could do this challenge online since I live in ri. Can you ask your fearless leader if her could do a webs at version of this? I would sign up pronto!

Janetha January 27, 2013 at 8:11 am

Actually half of the participants are off site! The meetings are all filmed and then there are emails that go out. You don’t need to live here at all! Unfortunately it’s halfway over.. But maybe you can ask him about doing another round sometime. His email is :)

Tracey January 27, 2013 at 6:17 am

This is such a great post sooo informative! I agree with Colleen above.. “I love how GPP focuses on teaching it’s members how to find a healthy lifestyle that works for them, in addition to holding workout classes. I wish there was something like that near me!” I did Crossfit for three years and got burned out..I think GPP seems to have all the good stuff I love about CF..and not the bad. BTW: How do you make your oats..stovetop??

Janetha January 27, 2013 at 8:13 am

Yep I but the 8 minute stovetop steel cut oats from trader joe’s :)

Tracey January 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm

BTW: Please post more meal and food pics..they never get boring:) I’m always in need of new ideas, plus you eat like me..I feel best on higher protein.

Healthy Running Mom January 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

Ok, 20 pull ups is amazing! Good for you girl! Way to go!

Anne @ eatcleaneatreal January 27, 2013 at 7:08 am

I hear you about the fruit. I love it, but too much makes me gain weight. I try to eat 1-2 servings of veggies at both lunch and dinner, and if I have a big salad I know its more like 2-4 servings. Recently Ive been topping my salads with avocado and nuts to get more healthy fats. YUM!

Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) January 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

I eat a ton of vegetables every day, but I could definitely afford to mix up the variety a little bit more. Lunch is most usually a super sized salad with cukes, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, etc. And dinner always consists of lots of roasted or steamed veggies of some sort (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)

Favorite fat source? Either guacamole spread on a sandwich (YUM) or sunflower butter smeared on my oatmeal or sunflower and pumpkin seeds on my salad. Or coconut. Mmm…so many delicious fat sources. :D

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

I am a true believer in journaling but it’s still something I often struggle with keeping up. My chiropractor asked me to start one and I did really well for 3 or 4 days and then fell off and have had a hard time getting back to it. I totally know and understand it’s importance so I want to get back at it!

Stephanie @ Wholesome By Design January 27, 2013 at 9:21 am

I’m a tea drinker so I stir a teaspoon of coconut oil into my tea every morning. You can try stirring it into your coffee. There’s also this stuff called bulletproof coffee where you add grass-fed butter to your coffee. I know it sounds weird but look it up.

Janetha January 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I am a tea drinker, too! I can’t have coffee, but my husband does the bulletproof coffee. We love Tim Ferris!

the delicate place (@misathemeb) January 27, 2013 at 9:21 am

i usually eat about 4-5 servings of veggies, sometimes no fruit and other days 1-2 servings of it. i have realized i could never be vegan due to me being gluten free (i would be so gassy if i had to eat more veg!)

my favorite fat source is the coconut! love the meat, oil, milk, water. so versatile :) runner up: avocado! i love that i can make it sweet (pudding) or savory.

Emily @ January 27, 2013 at 10:50 am

It’s really interesting to see how your body is reacting to these different changes! Can’t wait to hear how the next week goes!

Elizabeth @ My Neon Running Shoes January 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I LOVE cooked veggies! And raw for that matter in salads and such. Fruits I don’t eat as often but when I do I love them! Fat source would have to be nut butters! Although desserts are my actual favorite way ;-)

Sierra January 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Very interesting recap of little changes in your lifestyle and how it makes an impact. I find that when I up my fat intake, I don’t crave sweets as much, which is a win in my book. My favorite source of fat right now is coconut oil. I seriously cannot get enough and I’ve even caught myself licking the knife or spoon because it’s THAT delicious. I have a bag of hemp hearts in my cupboard and I’ve been meaning to try them. On top of a smoothie seems like a safe option and I love some textures.

BroccoliHut January 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I’ll be interested to see how your trial with a higher fat diet goes–like you, I typically eat about 25-30% fat.
My favorite source of fat these days is raw almond butter (the kind from Trader Joe’s). SO addicting!

Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness January 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I eat a lot of fruit and veggies every day! I find that my body does best with lots and lots of fresh foods like fruits and vegetables. When in China we didn’t really eat any fresh fruits or veggies and I felt blah the entire time.
My favorite fat source is nut butter!! I LOVE nut butters!

p.s. I made your sweet potato shepherds pie for dinner (with some modifications) it was the bomb!

Annette@FitnessPerks January 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm

This is such a cool challenge!

I definitely eat only about 2-3 servings of fruits/day. I don’t really crave ’em that often–but I do eat at least an orange or apple every day. I like ’em in my morning smoothies too! I do better with a high protein diet too :)

Jessy January 28, 2013 at 6:37 am

I prefer raw vegetables (salads) and fruits and thankfully I don’t experience any gas with it. My favourite fat source are nut butters, especially almond butter. I also love all things coconut!

I never weigh myself, but I don’t see how is weighing yourself to see the weight changes any different from caring about the weight itself?

Janetha January 28, 2013 at 7:46 am

it’s simply to factor in as a measurable thing in this whole challenge. we are using things that are measurable and observable to see the way our body reacts to different macronutrients. the number the scale reflects really has little to do with things, i believe it can fluctuate 5 lbs or more at any given time, but it’s just part of the challenge so i am adhering to it. however, i don’t want to know what i weigh–i was once at a place where i weighed myself every day and HAD to be a certain number or it made me grumpy. i never want to revert to that habit so i’d rather not know. i am super happy with my body right now (well, on the outside.. super unhappy with my guts and colon!) so i see no point in knowing how much i weigh because it could possibly mess with me!

LG January 28, 2013 at 9:52 am

Thanks for this post! Really interesting reading about the challenges. Neil sounds like a wise man for sure!

I feel my best at equal amounts protein,carbs and fats. (Not that I eat this way every day, but I really try to!!!) I also find that my cravings for carbs go down a bit when I up the fats and protein. I guess it makes me feel full and satisfied.

I try to get a few of my veggies in by packing a little pack of peas, carrots, peppers or cucumbers and putting them on my desk first thing in the morning. I mindlessly eat them before lunch time, which makes me feel good about myself. :0) But raw broccoli and cauliflower…my body finds this difficult to digest! The same with soy pods…I get such a stomach ache from them that they are officially out of my diet! (Soy probably isn’t the best anyway, so whatever.)

You might like the site Jillfit and/or Metabolic Effect, as they talk a lot about monitoring hunger, energy levels and cravings, in order to find a way of eating that works the best for each person, similar to these challenges. It takes a lot of corrections and mindfulness along the way, but it’s cool to learn about ourselves and discover what makes us run optimally. :0) Small changes over time seem to work for me.

Ok, enough of my nerding out about nutrition. :0)

Janetha January 28, 2013 at 10:12 am

Thanks for the suggestions! I follow Jillfit and have looked at ME! Good stuff :)

Katie January 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

I need to focus on push-ups, too…but I haaaaate them so much.

G February 1, 2013 at 10:31 am

very interesting post, quite useful to me actually i have recently just gone vegetarian for a month now to try out something different from my regular protein intake and i have gained weight quite alot in my abdominal area and dont get me started on the bloatness you get from extra veg / fruit. to think it of it now i have taken abit of a step back on the exercise just mainly pilates / yoga occasional interval training on treadmill and quite surprised some people find that going veg makes them lose weight not that i am trying to lose any just to maintain my current weight – could be my portion control which i have never been good at! its very hard to see how different foods affect the body suppose its trial and error and what works best for your body

favorite fat source would be avocados, nuts/seeds , olive oil, coconut oil

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

FTC Disclosure. Disclaimer.