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Archive for October, 2012

About two months before my senior prom, my best friend and I decided we needed to get into shape. So we started going to the local YMCA with a few other friends before school and on the weekends. This lasted approximately two weeks before I gave up.  It was just too early and I appreciated sleep more than trying to quickly tone up before prom. It probably didn’t help that when we went on Saturdays, we followed it up with a huge pancake and waffle breakfast at a diner. I’m certain the calories I consumed afterwards greatly exceeded the calories I burned running on the treadmill and playing around with the weight machines.  Needless to say, that attempt at an exercise regimen failed.

Exercising in the morning has been an entirely new concept to me. I am not a morning person. I am not really a night person either. I love my sleep. Bob will tell you that I might love sleep more than him. ( It’s so true It’s not true.) Since my failed stint at morning exercising 10 years ago, I have tried and failed multiple times. Running in the morning? Forget about it. Various Jillian Michaels DVDs at 6 am? That lasted about a month. Taking Stanley for a walk before work? I think that may have lasted about a month, too. All epic fails.

Until CrossFit. Which, not surprisingly, I still struggle to get out of bed in the morning. There have been days I’ve slept through my alarm unintentionally. There have been days I’ve hit the snooze button for an hour (um… last week.) But most days, I force my body out of my very warm bed and clumsily throw on the shorts and tank top I laid out the day before while I’m trying to brush my teeth and put my contacts in as quickly as possible.

I chalk this success up to 4 very important factors for me:

  1. CrossFit is expensive. And if I’m paying a ton of money to go, I don’t want to waste it. So I go.
  2. I’ve built relationships with people there, and if I don’t go, they ask where I am. Then I feel like a loser because they showed up and I didn’t.
  3. I’m usually really proud of myself if I go, simply because it’s an accomplishment for me to work out before I go to work.
  4. After work, I’m mentally exhausted. There is a 99% chance that if I give myself the option to work out after work, I will throw on sweatpants the second I get home instead of changing into workout clothes. And that’s bad because sweatpants are huge, and I can convince myself that they fit fine and there’s no need to work out, really.

Which brings me to the title of today’s post. Factor number 1 was in play, since I had only gone once this week so far and today was my last chance to go. And the best time for me to go was to the 5 am class because if I went to the 6 am (which I usually attend), I wouldn’t be able to come home & finish packing for vacation.

I’ve previously said that there was no way I would ever go to a 5 am class. Yes, I know it’s only an hour earlier than my typical 6 am class, but somehow waking up at 4 am sounds SO MUCH WORSE than waking up at 5 am. Like, some people at least are awake at 5 am. Not many but some.  But 4 am? What right minded person is awake at 4 am for something other than their job?

But, alas. I had to get up at 4 am today if I didn’t want throw my money away. So this is how it went down.

4 am. When the alarm clock went off at 4 am, I rolled over. I pretended it didn’t go off. When Bob nudged me, I groaned. I think I said something like “You people are crazy” and I told him there was no way I was going. He told me he was getting up and he’d let me think about it.

4:05 am. Bob comes back into bed and asks if I’m going. I tell him no and think to myself that I made a great choice. I just gave myself another two hours of sleep.

4:10 am. I am still laying in bed, wide awake. Crap. I had to go, because I was wide awake, and I knew I would be even more angry if I didn’t go back to sleep AND I missed a workout.

4:15 am. I throw my legs over the side of the bed and grumpily declare that I’m going to CrossFit because I can’t fall back asleep.

4:30am. We get in the car to go to CrossFit, and I’m still angry. 4:30?!?!? Who does this to themselves voluntarily!?!? These people most certainly do drugs, are crazy, or a combination of the two.

4:50 am. We arrive at CrossFit, and there are already at least 10 people there. And they’re all smiling. And laughing. And dancing. Dancing? at 5 in the morning? Is this a cult? Drugs. It’s definitely drugs.

5:00 am. It turns out I”m surprising myself by smiling and talking (granted, in very short sentences). And I’m enjoying it. And wait — did I just laugh? I think I did. Who knew it was possible to laugh this early in the morning.

5:50 am. I get a 10 pound PR on my snatch.  My arms are burning from my scaled pushups/Renegade Rows off the box. And I’m happy I went to the 5am class.

Although 4 am is still an ungodly hour of the day to be awake, I surprised myself by actually enjoying being up so early, spending time with Bob in the morning, and not having to shower at the gym at work.  And I’m actually thinking that I might do it again. But I still think these people are crazy…. I’m just crazy, too.

When do you find it’s best for you to work out?

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WOD Drunk

“WOD drunk” is an expression that many other CrossFitters at our box use. It basically means when you are a little more careless, forgetful, and uncoordinated after an especially tough WOD (workout of the day). Common symptoms of being WOD drunk include forgetting equipment at the box, having trouble with math to total your score, and difficulty composing complete sentences. I was definitely WOD drunk this morning.

The workout this morning was “Letendre” – a new tribute WOD. This was for part of the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge that I am competing in (and that I still owe all of you guys a post on). Here is how Lurong describes the soldier for whom the WOD is named: “Lt. Brian Scott Letendre died May 3, 2006, while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve’s Inspector and Instructor Staff, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Plainville, Connecticut.”

The WOD is a 25 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible within 25 minutes). The reps were:

  • 25 calorie row
  • 100 double unders (jumping over the jump rope twice in each jump)
  • 80 kettlebell swings (53#)
  • 100 air squats
  • 60 push ups (chest must touch the ground)
  • 100 double unders
  • 40 sit ups
  • 100 walking lunges
  • 20 burpees

I didn’t make it all the way through one round – I got through 77 of the second set of double unders, giving me a total score of 442. I was a little disappointed in this, because before the WOD my goal was to make it to the lunges. I might try it again on Saturday to see if I can make it to the lunges and improve my score for the competition. I think my biggest mistake was using too much of my arms during the row, double unders, and kettlebell swings. By the time I got to the push ups my arms would not cooperate, and I could barely do 2-3 at a time. It made getting to 60 very long, and I basically lost most of my time on the push ups.

After the WOD I could barely think. It took me almost as long to add up to my score of 442 as it did to get through those push ups (still bitter). Then I left the building and realized I forgot my protein shake. I re-entered, grabbed my shake, and drank it while trying to communicate to another human being (read: I grunted a lot and had trouble stringing together more than a few words). Then I left the building a second time, and realized I forgot to write down my score. So I re-entered, wrote my score down in my binder and entered it on the Wodify app we use so I wouldn’t forget, and said goodbye to people for a third time. Then I finally left the building for good. It wasn’t until a few hours later at work that I realized I left my jump rope.

I think I have found a new symptom for being WOD drunk – irritability. I wonder if it’s like alcohol intoxication – you have different types of drunks depending on their personality. For alcohol you have happy drunks, silly drunks, angry drunks, etc, and I wonder if the same holds true for WOD drunks. If so, for me I’m often an angry WOD drunk. I find myself picking fights with other people in my head for the first part of my day.

Example: As I was walking up the stairs at work (very slowly because of those 100 squats), there were two guys behind me. In my head I imagined that they were frustrated with how long I took – in reality I have no evidence to support this claim, but I was still in my angry WOD drunk state. In my head I was getting more and more frustrated with them, and even envisioned blowing up on them asking if they were in a hurry because they were about to wreck their legs between rowing, kettlebell swings, and squats. Luckily I only thought it, and hobbled to my desk without any incident or altercation.

I think I need to work on my WOD drunk state. Can I force myself to be a happy WOD drunk? I see others at the box that always seem so happy after a good WOD. I’m always angry. Don’t tell Meg, but I think she’s usually an irritable WOD drunk too. We’re perfect for each other 😉

Have you ever felt “drunk” after a particularly grueling workout? If so, do you have a tendency to be more happy/angry/silly?

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We had a great weekend – it was nice and relaxing. It was just what I needed after a week of craziness and not enough sleep. Our dog, a Brittany named Stanley, loved it too. He got to visit with his grandparents (my parents were in town), which he loves because they give him lots of attention and lots of treats! He also got to watch his (allegedly) favorite team, the Steelers, play on Sunday. He had to watch my Vikings lose with me Thursday night, so he was a little tentative when the Steelers kicked off that both Meg and my favorite teams would lose in the same week. Meg had to hold him close to calm him down:

After the Steelers took an early lead he calmed down and didn’t need to be held any longer:

During a commercial break he decided to scout out our front lawn to see if there were any squirrels or neighbors he could bark at:

Stanley also loves to take halftime naps!

During the second half he followed me into the kitchen hoping that he could have some game time snacks:

This was his reaction when he found out the Redskins receivers dropped ANOTHER pass:

And Stanley was being a little rude here, when he was basically taunting the Redskins by telling them they had just rolled over and given up:

After the game he took his jersey off so he could relax and watch the 4 o’clock games with us, happy that Meg’s Steelers had won so that she would be in a good mood the rest of the day:

In all seriousness it was a wonderful, relaxing weekend. You can read more about Friday and Saturday on Meg’s post here. Sunday was mainly what you just read above – we relaxed, watched some football, and enjoyed some quality time together.

When working out people often talk about “rest days”, and I think they’re very important, but often misunderstood. When people talk about a rest day they usually mean physical rest, but sometimes that’s not enough. A good rest day for me involves no strenuous exercise (physical rest), but also mental and emotional rest as well. Clear the calendars – don’t leave the house, spend time with loved ones, don’t worry about balancing your checkbook or revising your budget – just rest!

Even though it might seem contradictory to my previous statement – we did a little bit of housework last night by putting all of our lawn furniture in the shed, putting all of the storm windows in, and finding all of our candles and flashlights to prepare for Sandy. But, in the grand scheme of things, the one hour of work we did compared to the full day of relaxing didn’t disqualify this as a wonderful rest day.

When is the last time you took a true rest day? In what area of your life do you need more rest? What is preventing you from getting the rest you need?

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What a wonderful weekend so far.

Last night, we ate out with Bob’s parents at our newest Paleo-friendly favorite restaurant, Roam Cafe. Meal started out with a sweet potato “bisque” (which didn’t have cream, so … not sure how it’s a bisque?) which I’m going to try to re-create.

We were wiped out from the WOD yesterday so we crashed early (I think we were sleeping by 9:30 on a Friday night. Lame. But sometimes necessary.) My knees still haven’t recovered from the 60 burpees that were part of the WOD. Does anyone else get bruises on their knees like I do?

This morning, we started out with my favorite weekend “pancake” — a revised version of Tina’s “Two-Ingredient Pancakes” (btw — I highly recommend her blog if you are into fitness, Crossfit, and/or Paleo!). This is how I make them:

  1. I mash up a banana and microwave it for about 30 seconds to soften it
  2. I add 2 eggs to the bowl.
  3. I am obsessed with pumpkin, so I add about 1/3 cup pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and cinammon. (Yes, this now makes it a 5 ingredient pancake. Still pretty easy)
  4. I spray a large pan with cooking spray and turn my burner on low. Then I pour the batter into the pan.
  5. I wait at least 3-5 minutes. It takes awhile to cook. You have to be patient.
  6. I flip onto a second pan sprayed with cooking spray (I’ve actually only done this twice, but it’s the best way to flip. You can also try flipping with a spatula, but it often breaks on me.)
  7. I let cook for another minute or two.
  8. I add whatever topping I feel like. Often it’s a mixture of almond butter & almond milk heated up in the microwave so it’s easier to spread than just almond butter. Sometimes I add homemade apple butter.

After breakfast, my mother-in-law and I hit up the farmer’s market that it’s the parking lot of the mall near our house.  Lots of cheap squash in season! I got that big see through plastic bag for $4, and in the reusable bag it was 3 for $1.

When we got back from the market she whipped up some delicious mushroom/onion/sausage/kale soup which we had for lunch. She also roasted peppers for us to use this week. (I have to also share that she brought us apples, cooked cabbage, turkey pumpkin chili, almond butter, and flavored coffee. She’s the best!)

After lunch, we headed out for a trip to Trader Joe’s.  Trader Joe’s opened up a few weeks ago and everyone in Rochester was so excited about it.  I was excited about it, because it feels like all of the bloggers I read always post about how amazing Trader Joe’s is. Maybe we’re spoiled by Wegmans, but I’ll be honest, I’m not really that impressed. However, today, we did manage to snag some almond butter (which they haven’t had the last two times we’ve been there) which is SUPER cheap ($5 a jar!) compared to what you can get at Wegmans.

After Trader Joe’s, I helped myself to half a pumpkin cookie (my mother-in-law also brought us up some cookies from a trip she took to Northstar Bakery in Utica — SO GOOD). And now we’re relaxing on the couch watching college football.

Our fridge is stocked, and I’ve planned our meals for the week. This week is a bit screwy since I’m leaving Wednesday night to see Jess, but this is what I’ve done the last couple of weeks:

  1. I write out all of the vegetables I have in the house that I bought from the market or anything that’s leftover from last week that’s still good.
  2. I raid the freezer for meat (my dad is a hunter so we have quite a bit of venison. We also stock up at BJ’s every couple of weeks)
  3. I pair meat with vegetables. Sometimes I use Pinterest to find recipes that have similar ingredients for new ideas.
  4. I grocery shop for anything I might need for the week that we don’t have.

Pretty easy! Sometimes I find a recipe that I really want to try so I add the ingredients I need to the list, but recently we’ve been eating seasonally.  I’ve been buying a ton of vegetables at the market and then planning my meals around them which makes our grocery bill so much lower. We’ve been eating a lot of squash lately, but I’ve been trying to be creative with it so we don’t get too sick of it.

Here’s the list of vegetables & my meal plan. The Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf recipe I use is this one (Paleomg has THE BEST recipes).  I’ll make a double batch so there are leftovers for Bob.  The rest of the week Bob will have to fend for himself, but the fridge is stocked so he should be ok.

Do you plan your meals for the week? If so, do you plan around seasonal produce? If so — have any good recipes to share that involve squash? 🙂

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I haven’t been getting enough sleep this week. I’m not someone who needs 8+ hours per night, nor do I need to sleep in, but I do consistently need 7-7.5 hours every night. I wasn’t always like that, or at least I don’t think I used to need that much sleep, but maybe as I’ve gotten healthier I’ve just noticed the importance of sleep.

I feel like whenever you are trying to get healthy it’s always “diet and exercise.” And that’s true – whenever someone asks me how I did it I always respond with “diet and exercise.” But in reality it is much more than that, and I often overlook the importance of sleep. I find that when I am consistently getting adequate sleep I lose weight faster and my body feels different. It’s not just for mood, or for energy, but I really think it has health implications. And that might sound like old news to you, but it is a new revelation for me.

I’m not trying to add to the chorus of people whining that they are too busy and don’t get enough sleep. I am more realizing today that my lack of sleep this week has caught up to me. I have been doing 1-2 WODs (Workout of the Day at CrossFit) at 5am for the last few weeks, and I love doing it that early in the morning. The people in the 5am classes are great, it’s a wonderful way to start my day, and it allows me more flexibility in my schedule for the rest of the day. I need to be very careful when I do these, however, that I am making sure to get enough sleep the night before and the night after.

I didn’t do that this week when I went on Tuesday (didn’t get enough sleep the night before or the night of). So when I went to the 6am WOD on Wednesday I was already starting to feel it. My floor hockey game Wednesday night went late so I didn’t get out until after 11pm, and not in bed at home until after midnight. Thursday was a rest day, so I got to sleep in until 6:30 to get ready for work, but Thursday night the Vikings played the Bucs on Thursday Night Football, and I made the bad decision to stay up way too late to watch my favorite team play get crushed by the Bucs. I tried to get up at 4am to do the 5am WOD this morning, and it just wasn’t happening. I was still able to get up at 5:30 to go to my pick up basketball game at 6:20, but I played terrible and have been dragging all day.

This week I have gained 3.5 pounds from Monday to today (I don’t normally weigh myself mid-week, but I was curious if my sleep deprivation had caused any physical issues). I have felt sick for the last two days, have had low energy, and digestively it hasn’t been a good week either. It sounds dumb to type it out, but how often do we realize that sleep has a very real physical impact on our health?

And don’t tell me you don’t have time to sleep because you’re too busy. We make time for the things that are important to us, whether it be time for exercise, meal planning, cooking, and sleep, or spending 3 hours watching Thursday Night Football. We all make these decisions, and this week I wasn’t any busier than weeks past, I just didn’t make the best decisions for my health. Needless to say – I plan on sleeping a whole lot more next week!

Do you get enough sleep each night? Why not? Do you notice a difference in your health during weeks when you are getting enough sleep and weeks you are not?

Here are a few resources I have found on the weight loss and health benefits of sleep:

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Being THAT Guy

I’ve never liked diets or restricting what kinds of food you eat. I’ve always thought them to be bad, and the logic never appealed to me. Everything in moderation, right? Well, for the last 6 months I’ve been eating primarily “paleo”, and I have noticed a considerable difference. This post isn’t meant to persuade others to jump on the paleo bandwagon, but how my adherence to it has evolved over the last several months.

The first seventy pounds I lost was primarily just eating the conventional healthy diet – think of the food pyramid. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, some meat, and little fat. It worked fine for me, but granted, I had a whole lot to lose, and just deciding not to buy a medium bag of M&Ms from the drugstore during my lunch and finishing it before 5pm (true story) was an improvement. I’m not knocking the food pyramid or conventional wisdom around healthy eating – for a lot of people it works great. I’ve just found that for me, even though I was losing weight, I still had room to improve my health.

Enter paleo. I thought the diet was crazy, and even kind of stupid when I first started it, but in May 2012 our CrossFit box did an 8 week challenge with our gym to eat mainly paleo and see what the results were. I’m a competitive person, I figured I was losing weight anyway, so what would the harm be to try it out for 8 weeks, win the challenge, and then be done with it? Spoiler alert: I didn’t win the challenge. But I did lose several inches around my waist and 15 pounds. The most surprising outcome was I found to have a lot more energy, never felt bloated, and my digestive processes were working a lot better (if you catch my drift). Not to oversimplify, but basically I just felt better.

I was cheating a good deal too. During that 8 weeks I was the best man in a wedding, which consisted of large amounts of fine micro-brews and desserts laden with sugar. The rest of the challenge I was pretty good with my cheats except for beer. I have a weakness when it comes to good craft beer. Nonetheless, for the rest of the summer I became “that guy,” and was eating mostly paleo. This became a major pain to family and friends, as they tried to accommodate my interesting diet, while not completely always understanding it (and often believing it was crazy). Meanwhile, at the same time that I’m making them accommodate my special diet, I’m still washing it down with beer and/or eating other non-paleo food items like cookies or cake. I was a royal pain in the a** this Summer.

Currently I am taking part in a 9 week challenge through Lurong Living. Our CrossFit box has a team of over 20 people and the challenge has a few different components, but it is focused around eating a clean paleo diet. No cheats are allowed at all – and every time you cheat it costs you (and therefore your team) 5 points of your weekly 35. Being as competitive as I am I vowed to keep my cheats to a minimum so as not to cost the team points (and I am having a hard time contributing points through other aspects of the challenge, but more on that for another post). So far it has been over 5 weeks and I have yet to cheat once. I feel even better than I did before, but it also helped me put the whole diet into perspective too.

By forcing myself not to cheat I’ve realized that I have the self control to not cheat when I don’t NEED to cheat. I don’t NEED to grab a cookie at lunch and rationalize it as “one cheat.” At the same time it has helped me appreciate when a cheat is truly worth it. I missed an opportunity to share a good beer with a close friend of mine on his 30th birthday during this challenge. I’ve also missed the opportunity to share a meal with my co-workers during a team building activity, and I truly believe in the power of sharing food with others as a very strong tool in bonding and relationship building.

I’ve decided that after this challenge I am no longer going to be “that guy.” I am going to stay on a paleo diet at home (sorry Meg!) and not cheat at all when it’s just me and there isn’t a special circumstance. The exception will be when I am enjoying the hospitality of others. I feel great when I eat paleo, and I don’t feel good at all when I cheat and have processed foods, mainly those that include sugars and grains. However I do not want to put my friends and family out, and the whole reason I’m eating paleo is to enjoy life more. When I eat paleo I feel better, my mood is better, my energy level is better, which leads to a better life. But I can’t sacrifice that by not enjoying my time with family and friends, and that often means breaking bread (yes, I mean actual bread) together.

Long story short, I love eating paleo, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. But there will be cheats, and after this challenge the only time I am going to let myself cheat is when I am with those that I love. And really that’s not a cheat at all – that’s the whole purpose.

What are some sacrifices that you make for your own improvement? Have you seen those sacrifices actually hurt more than they help in certain situations? Are there areas of your life that are being negatively impacted by otherwise “healthy” decision making? Are your values being properly prioritized?

For more information on paleo eating, this is the easiest to understand summary I have found so far: What is Paleo?

Here are some other resources on paleo/primal:

-Bob

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When I graduated college, I only knew how to cook a handful of things:

  • Hamburger Helper. I can vividly recall adding onions and garlic to the boxed mix and thinking how clever I was to enhance the meal.
  • Rice & beans (I added jarred salsa and sometimes even sauteed peppers and onions!)
  • Mac & cheese (I got at least two dinners out of a box!)

 

I ate cereal for dinner more times than I’d like to admit because my three meals got old after awhile. But hey — we’ve all been there. At least, I’d like to pretend we’ve all been there. I do have some friends that I think came out of the womb baking cookies and creating 5 course meals. I am not one of those people.

However — when I started Weight Watchers, I knew I had to start cooking. It’s very difficult to eat out and pick one of the 2 healthy choices on the menu when everything else is covered in cheese, fried in batter, or a 6 serving portion of pasta swimming in olive oil and butter. I started with very easy meals. My first week of meal planning looked like this (I have everything we’ve eaten for the last 1.5 years in a Google Docs excel spreadsheet):

  • Sunday: Easter (yes, I started WW a few days before Easter. yes, that sucked.)
  • Monday: Easter leftovers
  • Tuesday: Make your own pizza on whole wheat pita bread
  • Wednesday: Crock Pot Santa Fe chicken (still love that recipe to this day!)
  • Thursday: Baked tilapia and steam-in-bag vegetables
  • Friday: Leftovers

Since then, I’ve expanded my cooking skills, but I still stick with easy meals during the week that produce a lot of leftovers because I don’t have the mental energy most nights to make something complicated. I prep during the weekend or the night before to cut down on the next night’s work. This weeks’ meal plan looks like this:

  • Sunday: Spicy Pineapple Chili
  • Monday: Roasted butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrot soup with chicken and cabbage (sort of made this one up. It was just ok and needed more flavor)
  • Tuesday: Chicken pumpkin spaghetti squash casserole
  • Wednesday: Baked swai (fish) and zucchini in parchment paper packs, sauteed cabbage and bacon
  • Thursday: the most delicious pulled pork ever. And some kind of vegetable.
  • Friday: Out with Bob’s parents at a place that is paleo-friendly (steakhouse or our local Paleo-friendly restaurant, Roam Cafe).

I’m telling you all of this as sort of a “foundation” of what you can expect from my posts. You’ll see a lot of recipes, a little of my weight loss journey, and a little of my exercise routines. You’ll hear about fun things I do (going to Minneapolis next week to visit one of my best friends!), the not so fun things I do (last week’s WOD at CrossFit was 20 rounds of 4 wall balls and 4 burpees. I surprised myself by finishing), and the downright mundane (meal plan for the week).

Between Bob and I, you’ll get two completely different perspectives — but both will be focused around living healthy and full lives.  We couldn’t have changed without each other’s love and support, so you’ll probably hear a little about that as well.

Question of the day: What did you cook when you were first out of college?

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