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This will be my last post about LuRong this year (and I just realized that I’ve been spelling it wrong for two years, it has a capital “R” in the middle – whoops). I just wanted to give a quick update on the results from the challenge.

For those of you who don’t know – yesterday was the final day of an 8 week challenge of strict paleo eating. It also had a performance aspect to it (10 workouts that were scored throughout the 8 weeks), goal setting, and other miscellaneous tasks (i.e. submitting  a written testimonial). I successfully completed the entire 8 weeks without a single “cheat” (so, no food other than vegetables, fruits, meats, and nuts/seeds). I also hit 5 of my 6 goals:

  • I want a new PR on my back squat (shooting for 20#)

Yes – #20PR on my back squat on Wednesday this week. I also had a 20# PR on my front squat earlier in the challenge, and a 45# PR on my CrossFit Total on Wednesday.

  • I will drink 1 oz of water for every 2lbs of body weight (so about 100oz/day)

Yes – although I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom a lot more often!

  • I want to give up alcohol completely for the next 8 weeks

Yes

  • I will work on my squat mobility at least 5x a week

Nope – I didn’t get this one – only 3-4x per week for the second half of the challenge.

  • Continue to work on my relationship with Meg

Yes – the specifics of this goal were private, but I achieved it.

  • No cheats for the entire challenge

Yes

Not only did I hit all of these goals, but I had some big improvement scores. As I wrote about last week, we did three benchmark workouts at the beginning of the challenge, and redid them again at the end. I improved on all three by a considerable amount – 29% on the first, 5% on the second, and 28% on the third (I redid all three again this past week and improved my second two even more from my update last week).

Finally, I got my final measurements done yesterday to compare to the beginning of the challenge. As I wrote about before, I let myself go a little bit too much before this challenge started, so my beginning numbers are higher than they should have been. But, nonetheless, I lost 20 pounds and here are the measurement results:

  • Chest: lost 5.25″
  • Left and right arm: lost 1.5″ on each
  • Left leg: lost 1″
  • Right leg: lost 0.75″ (maybe I use my right leg more than my left?)
  • Waist: lost 5.25″
  • Hips: lost 3.5″
  • Total inches lost: 18.75″

I don’t love these photos, because I still have a LOT of loose skin around my belly from the last two years of weight loss, but I still wanted to post them to show the difference a clean diet for 8 weeks makes:

Before and after - I can START to see my abs for the first time in my life!

Before and after – I can START to see my abs for the first time in my life!

Now, I know that I may be perceived as a paleo evangelist, but I really don’t want to be. Paleo works for me. And, truth be told, if many people eliminated alcoholic beverages and sugar from their diet for 8 weeks, they’re going to see similar results, regardless of the consumption of grains and dairy (not allowed in paleo). But, I have found that for me, grains and dairy are not good for me. My body does not react well to them, and I have tried incorporating them back in before and it’s just not optimal for me. If you’ve never tried to eliminate some of these foods from your diet, I’d encourage you to try it. But I really hope that this isn’t me trying to force paleo on other people – I’m advocating eating whatever it is that works for you. For me – it’s paleo.

As I wrote about before, I do think this will be my last formal challenge though. Assuming I can find a way to eat like this all year long, while allowing some limited indulgences, I’d like to make this a more sustainable lifestyle. And, if you keep reading this blog, I’m sure you’ll find out how I do!

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As part of the current paleo challenge I’m participating in, they are awarding bonus points for writing about your experience. Well, since I had to write about it and submit it to them, I thought I might as well just copy/paste what I wrote into the blog so that all of you can get a quick update on how Lurong is going (or, if you really don’t care, then you can wait for Meg to post something much more interesting). Here you go!

I am in the final week of the 2013 Lurong Living Paleo Challenge. I am a member of Flower City CrossFit, and this is my second year performing in this challenge.

I am in a much different point in my fitness journey this year compared to last year. Last year, during the 2012 Lurong Living Paleo Challenge, I got under 200 pounds for the first time in my adult life. It was at the tail end of an 18 month weight loss journey that saw me lose over 100 pounds. The challenge helped me, but in hindsight I was just heading in the same trajectory for the 9 weeks during that challenge that I had been heading in for the previous 18 months. The challenge was important to me, and I learned a lot, but I believe I would have still lost the weight even without the challenge.

This year was different. Since the end of the challenge last year I have been trying to figure out what maintenance looks like. My weight has fluctuated as much as 20 pounds throughout the last 12 months. I have been up and down in weight all year long, and learning how to live and eat in a manner that is sustainable has been a struggle. I do think I found the key for me though – I have found the most success when I am strict paleo with 1-2 cheat meals a week.

Enter the 2013 Lurong Living Paleo Challenge. Honestly, I wasn’t going to sign up for this one. I felt good, was performing at a high level (for me, that is), and for the first time in my life (no exaggeration) I was feeling like I had my weight under control. But then I started to think about the challenge last year. Flower City CrossFit finished in third place in the country last year. While I did everything I could last year, the performance aspect was my biggest weakness. I did most of the workouts scaled, and I did not score many points off of workouts. In fact, it was demoralizing to see several “0’s” for points when I gave it everything in a workout, but still ended up in the bottom percentile bracket, and therefore rewarded with no points.

So, this year, I decided to sign up again. I knew I had a lot of people from last year’s team joining, along with a crowd of new faces to join the Flower City CrossFit team. And I am also a better athlete than I was a year ago. I wanted some redemption for all of those performance points I left on the table.

What I didn’t know was that psychologically this was going to affect me before the challenge started. Even though I had been eating strict paleo with only 1-2 cheat meals a week all summer long, about 3 weeks before the challenge I started to get too loose with my diet. I think in the back of my mind the shadow of 8 weeks of strict paleo, with no cheats, was affecting my decisions. I cheated much more often than 1-2 times per week, and I gained weight and felt terrible. So, by the start of the challenge, I definitely needed the 8 weeks of detox to get my butt back in gear!

The first three WODs were as you would expect: not great. I did all three at Level 3 (the highest level), so I felt really good about that. But I didn’t finish the first two under the time cap, and finished the third one with just 16 seconds to spare. But as the challenge went on, I felt better and better. I forgot how good you feel in general when your diet is dialed in. And I also forgot how much it impacts your performance! I just finished doing the final benchmark workout (although I might do one or two of them again just to see if another week helps), and here are my results:

Benchmark 1

Beginning of Challenge: 18:12 (18 minute time cap, 12 reps uncompleted)

End of Challenge: 12:50

Improvement: 5:22 (29%)

Benchmark 2

Beginning of Challenge: 12:47 (12 minute time cap, 47 reps uncompleted)

End of Challenge: 12:19 (12 minute time cap, 19 reps uncompleted)

Improvement: 0:28 (4%) – but all 28 extra reps completed were burpees!

Benchmark 3

Beginning of Challenge: 4:44

End of Challenge: 3:29

Improvement: 1:15 (26%)

I proud of these improvements, but I am also proud of my performance scores all year long – I was able to consistently get a decent amount of points for me and for the team – much, much better than how I performed last year.

Not only that, but I’ve lost 17 pounds so far this challenge. I weigh a few pounds more now than when I finished the challenge last year – but those are good pounds! I have put on some muscle over the last year, and I believe the last several weeks have contributed to that also. I had a 20 pound PR on my front squats, and I have PR’ed on several other lifts as well during this challenge.

I am glad I participated this year. Will I participate next year? I hope not. The reason I say “I hope not” is because I am hoping to have finally figured out what sustainable eating looks like for me. I’m hoping that between these two challenges I have learned the skills I need to maintain my weight, continue to improve my performance, and feel good all year long. I hope that I don’t NEED the challenge next year. I’m definitely glad I did it, and I don’t regret doing the challenge either this year or last year. I would actually recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried to eat strict paleo for an extended period of time.

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I am now more than half way through the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge, and I feel great!

It has been 4 weeks and 3 days (but who is counting?), and I noticed over the last few days that I just feel great in general. It wasn’t one morning that I woke up and felt better, but I think it just kind of snuck up on me and I didn’t realize that I was starting to feel different. It has been tough, don’t get me wrong, and right now I am craving a muffin and a beer, but it has definitely been worth it so far.

One of the biggest things I can see is the difference in my energy levels and performance. I lifted 20 pounds more on my front squat this morning than my previous personal record, which was only a few months ago. I’m feeling better in the middle of my workouts, and I’m not feeling as sluggish in the middle of the day. I’m still tired and stressed at times, but I attribute that mainly to work. It’s not like I’m a superhero or anything – I just feel better in general!

As for my goals, well, they’re hit or miss right now. I’ve successfully drank at least 100oz of water every day so far on this challenge, but my squat mobility work didn’t quite get there – I’m doing only about 4x a week compared to the 5x a week that I set for my goal. So I missed that one, but the good news is that I have already found improvement in that area. I haven’t done a lot of back squats yet, so I’m not sure if I’m going to get the 20# PR on my back squat like I hoped, but getting a 20# PR on my front squat this morning certainly gives me some hope. And it makes me think I set the wrong goal! My goal to improve my relationship with Meg is going well, and my goals not to have a single cheat and to be alcohol free for the challenge are also going strong.

This is us at CrossFit Webster doing the performance WOD #5 for the challenge. I am in the bright green all the way in the back mid-kip for an unassisted pullup! (Photo by Laura Rice, owner of CrossFit Webster)

This is us at CrossFit Webster doing the performance WOD #5 for the challenge. I am in the bright green all the way in the back mid-kip for an unassisted pull up! (Photo by Laura Rice, owner of CrossFit Webster)

As for my 2013 overall goals, I did hit one last month. I received a promotion at work, so I think I can check off “Make advancements professionally” from my goal list. I’m really excited about my new role at my company, and even though I set the goal, I really wasn’t expecting a job change this year. But, obviously, I’m happy about it and am excited that my hard work professionally is paying off.

With the new job, does come new responsibilities, and it has resulted in a lot of long hours at the office. I hate excuses, so please don’t read this as one, but this is one of the reasons my updates have been sporadic recently. I’m not asking for sympathy or a free pass, just explaining what is going on right now in our lives. Between Meg starting school again, my new job, and still trying to get to the gym and cook healthy food, our free time has been a little sparse. We will continue updating this blog as we can, especially because it is often therapeutic for us, but just giving you all a warning!

How are your goals going? Short term and long-term?

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I’m doing the meal plan this week! I think Meg and I will probably still cook together, but as we start to transition into Meg’s new schedule over the next few weeks, we’ll have to feel out how we split up some of our household tasks – most importantly: the food!

We were busy yesterday between going to the gym, a wedding for some long time friends of ours, and celebrating a birthday for a very close friend. So we didn’t make it to our normal farmer’s market in Greece. This morning we found that there is one farmer’s market on Sunday in Rochester though – the Brighton Farmer’s Market!

So we were still able to get lots of vegetables for our weekly meal plan. I’ll be sad when squash isn’t in season anymore. Spaghetti squash, delicata squash, and all other varieties are so cheap right now and we love using them in all sorts of recipes. This week we also bought a variety of squash that we haven’t cooked with before: the buttercup squash.

Anyway, without any further delay, the real reason you’re probably here is to see our weekly meal plan. Here it is:

Sunday: Chicken Bacon Alfredo – I think we’re going to make this every single week until spaghetti and delicata squash are out of season. This is one of my favorite recipes ever! It is so creamy and delicious. It completely makes you forget that you’re eating paleo. We are making this during a weekend day though, because it does take a while to prepare and make, so it’s not really practical to make on a weeknight.

Monday: Stuffed peppers – This is an easy one to do every week, especially when we can get peppers cheap at the market. We usually do this later in the week to clean out the fridge, but we actually have some veggies from last week that we didn’t use, so we’re moving it up this week so we can try to not let some zucchini go bad that we didn’t use.

Tuesday: Leftovers – Meg is going to pack some hard-boiled eggs and some leftover peppers or chicken bacon alfredo for her very first class after work for her graduate program. I might just make some fried eggs at home and eat them with any leftover veggies we have since Stanley and I will be hanging out by ourselves.

Wednesday: Crockpot chili – It is going to be close to this recipe, but we are going to add in one buttercup squash because someone at the market just told us that she added buttercup squash to her chili last week and it was awesome. We love talking to strangers at the market to get new ideas for recipes!

Thursday: Paleo Pad Thai – We made this last week and it was, no exaggeration, the best thing I ate this last week. It tasted just like a real Thai dish. We modified the dish though, we didn’t use any peas or rice vinegar since they’re not Lurong approved. Also – we have a hard time finding sunflower seed butter without sugar, so we used almond butter in our version. And we had a great idea to enhance the dish too: I love bean sprouts in real pad thai, but since any type of bean is not Lurong approved, we used our new spiral cutter to make cucumber noodles that we put across the top of the dish. That extra crunch and fresh taste from the cucumber was tremendous. We also used shrimp as our meat. As you can tell by my lengthy write-up of this meal – I am VERY excited about this dish!

Friday: Fish and veggies – I’m not sure exactly how we’ll prepare the fish yet, but we’ll probably either do fish packets or some type of pan sear. Then we’ll roast the acorn squash we bought this week and saute some spinach to go with it.

Saturday: Burgers – I’ve been craving a burger lately (even though I ate one yesterday at the wedding – the only Lurong approved food I could find except for the veggie/fruit tray they had out during cocktail hour). So we’ll make burgers (without the bun of course), with lots of good toppings! Probably onion, bacon, guacamole, and tomato. We’ll also roast some more squash to go with it (did I mention we bought a lot of squash??), and we’ll make some sweet potato fries and parsnip fries.

So there you have it! The first of probably many of the meal plans done by me. I hope these helped some of you with some of your ideas for this week! Let us know what some of your favorite go-to fall meals are in the comments.

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So far my detox period hasn’t been too bad. It’s Day 2 of Week 2 for the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge, and I didn’t think my detox had been too terrible.

Until yesterday.

Sure, last week I had a little bit of a headache for most of the day on Thursday, and I haven’t felt extremely strong or peppy, but that is to be expected when going through sugar detox. Especially the way I binged before the challenge started. But, I’ve been through this before, and I figured I would be ready for it and it wouldn’t be as bad.

If you’ve never been through a sugar detox like this before, you should read this post by the folks over at Whole 9. It’s relatively accurate – everybody’s a little different, so sometimes you might skip one of those steps entirely, or the time periods might be a little different for you.

For me, Day 1 of Week 2 was apparently my “Kill ALL the things” phase. I woke up so incredibly irritable yesterday. Our sink has a small leak in our bathroom, and when I was shaving I wanted to pull the plumbing directly out of the wall. Our house has been progressively getting messier, and I briefly considered dumping gasoline into our living room and lighting a match to just torch everything we owned because I was so sick of just looking at it. I had the WORST road rage in the morning driving into work.

I was short with my co-workers, I secretly wanted to scream at every single one of them, and I was overly sarcastic and negative all day.

And when I had a 5pm meeting tossed on my calendar, I almost ended up on the headline of the newspaper.

So, if you had asked me on Sunday how Lurong was going, I would have said just fine. But yesterday I was just a bundle of negativity, anger, and frustration.

Today was a LOT better. I got up early to do the third benchmark workout for Lurong, played some basketball afterward, and went to work. I was worried that with such an early morning and so much going on before I even stepped into the office that I would be tired and cranky again. But, surprisingly enough, I was in a relatively good mood all day!

Maybe my irritability was just one day? I’m not jumping to any conclusions, because I know I might just be moody, but I’m hoping I’m heading toward the “boundless energy” or “tiger blood” phases pretty soon!

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So today Bob and I ran in a relay for the Rochester MVP Marathon which is why this is a little late. Well, that and I had a meeting this afternoon with students for a non-profit I am helping with their marketing. The relay is the reason I’ve bumped up my running over the last few months. Originally I had thought about doing the half but then Bob tore his glute and all of a sudden it was July and I hadn’t run more than 3 miles. Turns out, doing the relay was a great decision.

6.5 miles was enough to make me feel accomplished and proud of myself, but not too much of a distance that I had to train a lot. It helped that one of my teammates is out of his mind and decided to run the entire marathon so he ran with Bob and I (he missed the hand off with our 4th team member for the last leg so he ran alone). He kept me running faster than I had expected and pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself. I ended up running the first 5 miles around 10 minute miles and the last 1.5 at 10:35. If I had been by myself I probably would have been closer to 10:30 or even 11 the entire time. Hooray for a good teammate!

Jake (my teammate who ran the whole thing), Chris, Bob, and I after we all ran across the finish line together

Jake (my teammate who ran the whole thing), Chris, Bob, and I after we all ran across the finish line together

So anyways, it was an eventful morning 🙂 And it made me want to sign up for the 10k Turkey Trot when we’re in Syracuse w/ Bob’s family for Thanksgiving — it was the first 10k I ran and it would be fun to run again!

But I know you’re REALLY reading this for the meal plan, so here it is:

Monday: Pan-seared venison steaks with roasted brussels sprouts and acorn squash.

Tuesday: Bob’s on his own because I’m going out with my girls for pizza on my last free Tuesday night (before classes start).

Wednesday: Fish packets with cauliflower rice on the side.

Thursday: A new recipe! Paleo pad thai (using shrimp instead of chicken, cucumber instead of peas, and skipping the rice vinegar).

Friday: Stuffed peppers (to clean out the rest of the veggies in the fridge) with roasted carnival squash (discovered this at the market this weekend and can’t wait to try it!)

Saturday: We’re at a wedding for two longtime friends of ours. Bob is going to probably load up on leftovers before the wedding. I will be indulging in wedding food and CAKE!
Trying any new recipes this week?

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As Meg wrote about yesterday, the Lurong Living Paleo challenge starts today! Instead of lamenting on how bad my fitness has been the last few weeks again (it’s bad) – instead I will keep my sights on what I hope to accomplish over the next 8 weeks. Lurong awards bonus points if you set goals and track them during the challenge – and we all know how much I love goals! So in addition to my 2013 goals, here are my Lurong Living Paleo Challenge goals for the next 8 weeks:

  1. I want a new PR on my back squat (shooting for 20#)
  2. I will drink 1 oz of water for every 2lbs of body weight (so about 100oz/day)
  3. I want to give up alcohol completely for the next 8 weeks
  4. I will work on my squat mobility at least 5x a week
  5. Continue to work on my relationship with Meg
  6. TBD

My first and fourth goal are pretty connected. On the one hand I’ve noticed that my overall strength is often a limiting factor for me, so I’ve been planning on focusing on just getting stronger rather than focusing on my endurance as much. Obviously both are important, but instead of focusing on CrossFit Endurance classes, I’m going to spend extra time at the gym working on just lifting to get stronger. And the two areas I want to focus the most on are my squat strength and my shoulder press.

Along with strength, I know that my squat mobility isn’t great. I usually bend too far forward, and really want to work on trying to increase my mobility in my ankles and in my hips so that I can squat more vertically. This will also help with my squat PR. I’m shooting for 20 pounds, which I know is aggressive, but I feel like if I work on just lifting a few times a week, and work on my mobility 5 times a week, that I should be able to get there.

I don’t drink enough water. Ever. I usually drink a large cup of coffee in the morning, and then maybe a glass or two of water all day before I have a glass of wine with dinner. I know I feel so much better when I drink more water, because I did it last challenge. So, here it is again – and here’s to hoping that I can keep with the habit longer this time.

The challenge allows you to drink one 6oz glass of red wine per night. I went without alcohol for the whole 8 weeks last time, and felt great. Also, I haven’t been sleeping that well lately, and I think part of that might be due to the fact that I’ve been making a glass or two of wine a pretty regular occurrence. So I’m going to cut it out completely again for this 8 weeks.

My fifth goal is more measurable than what I have written out, but I don’t want all of the details to be public. There aren’t any issues between Meg and I (that I’m aware of) – so don’t get nervous! I just have some specific measurable things I want to work on over the next 8 weeks that will make it even better.

I still need a 6th goal. Any suggestions?! I have a lot of performance/fitness goals in there, so maybe a personal goal? Or maybe a mental health/emotional health, or an overall well being goal, to balance out all of my physical goals? Suggestions??

And I think I owe everyone an update on my 2013 goals pretty soon too. Hopefully I will write a post on that sometime this week or next.

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