Craig Payton/ New 100 Day Blog Challenge

by Craig Payton

July 1 2012 end of 9th month of incarceration

I finished the term of my 2nd 100 day challenge on June 25th.  Unfortunately I have had to abandon training for a couple of my physical challenges for more than a month.  Without much training for the last 6-8 weeks I pulled 8 pullups out of my goal of 10 on test day and was able to do 38 push-up set out of a goal of 50 in a row.

I abandoned running/walking entirely due to ongoing tendonitis issue.

Recently we had an exercycle added back to our fitness equipment and I have begun to train with that almost daily.  My minimum goal is to do Cardio exercycle work a minimum of 4 times a week for 30 minutes.  I have well exceeded that in the last few weeks since we had access to the bike.

Today, rather than focus on the items I did not fulfill to the best of my ability I would like to focus on what actual progress I have made and how it could have been very different had I not encountered the motivational force of the Straight A Guide.

As of today (7-1-12) I weighed in at 178.5 lbs, down from a starting weight of 191 or perhaps more before I first surrendered to prison 9-30-11.  To provide perspective, at 6′ tall I was around 165 lbs at 30 years of age.  Gauging by the bit of flab I still have around my middle I think a stable weight of around 170 would be very healthy unless I put on more muscle mass.  I do not think I would have made such progress without the daily reminder of pursuing the value of fitness.  This value is based on keeping healthy and energetic for myself but also for my family and to model to my children the value of fitness.

When I first came to prison sets of 10 push ups were not too hard but I could not do too many more in one go, and not very many sets.  I was able to do 1 pull up and now I can do 8 at once, and multiple sets of 6 or so.  This may not sound like much if you haven’t done any pull ups since you were in school, but I have definitely gained significant strength.

I have established a VERY steady practice of meditation and qigong (Chi Kung) every morning almost without fail for the last 5 months (according to my accountability log).  Added to that has been a steady practice of Taiji (aka Tai Chi) almost every day this year (also documented in my log).  Not only have these practices been very beneficial for my physical and mental/emotional/spiritual health but I have never before been so steady and regular in following through with such practice in my life.  Staying committed and marking down each day I practice keeps me steady.  Without the impetus of the Straight A Guide I probably wouldn’t have achieved such steadiness which has taken me deeper into my study of these practices than ever before, even though I’ve been studying for 30 years or more.

I have, so far, not been able to see a way forward into taking formal educational training while incarcerated.  What I have done is to restrict my reading primarily to non-fiction.  I am reading books on a variety of subjects.  I am doing my best to treat this reading in the same way I would assigned reading in a college level course.  I read them once through, then I skim through again going into parts I want to understand better and retain more fully.  Then I produce a “Book Report/Review. I have completed three of these so far although I have at least 8 more I would like to share, including three others which are almost complete but not edited to my satisfaction.  This writing project allows me to share what I am interested in and thinking about with anyone who might care to read my material and perhaps provide a service to someone who might be interested in the subject matter.

Every day I look at my accountability log book which, unlike Michael Santos, I do not provide in a blog form every day.  My periodic progress reports are my way of being accountable ans as transparent as I can be, without providing the minutia of my every day.  By looking at th is log every day I am reminded of my goals.  My long term, ongoing goals of maintaining meaningful contact with my two children and wife are there to tell me daily if I have done what I have intended.  Muy additional goal simply titled “Marriage” reminds me daily of the most important relationship in my life and makes me ask myself what I can do to further deepen that relationship or just provide a little something to help lift her spirits.  Without taking note of these absolutely essential value categories daily it’s possible I may have fallen into despondence and let myself become distant.

My Goal of keeping in touch with old friends has been somewhat neglected lately and represents and area I need to work on.  I have taken certain steps to reach out with my wife’s help recently and we shall see if these efforts will bear fruit.

Finally, I have the goal of expanding my network.  I am somewhat at a loss as to how to proceed here as Michael’s model doesn’t match up with my situation very well.  Still I keep this goal on my mind daily and I intend to take more actions to further it.

I will clowse by re-setting my 100 day challenges for another term.  I will take my weight down to 175 lbs or less.  I will practice taiji, qigong and meditation every day.  I will write every day.  I will exercise regularly (in addittion to taiji and qigong which definitely are exercise too).  I will increase my single set push up limit and depending upon circumstances will attempt to increase pull ups as well.  I will maintain and deepend my family relationships.  I will reach out more to old friends.  I will seek out ways to reach out to others outside my current network.

My most important goal re-set is to re-commit to working on The Straight A Guide workbook questions and answers.  Michael should be going home in @ 6 weeks.  During that time I aspire to redouble my efforts and answer 15 questions per week on average.  If I can do that over the next 100 days (14 weeks) I will finish the workbook.

The period of this new challenge is July 1st through October 7th.


Verlyn Craig Payton

July 2nd 2012

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