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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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So I was super stressed out about this crazy dilemma. I’m ridiculous, I know.

I ended up actually liking the other CF box — but they only offer an unlimited membership which means wasted money because I know I won’t make it in more than 2ish times a week at most.  I still hope to drop in every once in a while at the other place if my schedule allows — I’m excited for their expansion and I’m curious to see how they grow. And besides, they do have a really cute puppy.

What ended up making the most sense (financially, mentally, physically, etc.) was to drop down to 2x per week at FCCF (or maybe a punch card if I can’t make it 2x) and then just supplement on my own whenever I can fit it in, whether it be CrossFit Endurance or a long run to clear my mind or 30 minutes of Jillian Michaels’ Ripped in 30 DVD.  Hey, you do what you gotta do, even if that means getting yelled at from your TV.

Jillian Michaels

I went back Friday morning and even though I was the VERY LAST ONE (10 rounds of 5 snatches and 30 double unders… and the DUs were NOT my friend), half the class gathered around me to encourage me to finish. I love CrossFit for that very reason.  I definitely wouldn’t get a crowd of people encouraging me to finish my workout at the local globo-gym, that’s for sure.

Playing dodgeball -- photo by Laura Davis Rice (FCCF)

Playing dodgeball — photo by Laura Davis Rice (FCCF)

Then Friday night, Bob and I headed back to the box for the dodgeball Halloween party. It was a much needed evening of good food, new & old CF friends, and lots of balls.

Our winning team, Team H. :) (with Rachael & Eric, great dodgeball teammates)

Our 3rd place winning team, Team H. 🙂 (with Rachael & Eric, great dodgeball teammates)

This is only temporary. It’s 16 months, and it’ll go fast. And I’m not going to stress myself out about getting in exercise. I’ll do what I can, when I can, and I won’t beat myself up if I need to choose sleep, or Bob, or homework, over exercise. I also won’t beat myself up if I choose exercise over sleep or homework if I really need it, either. I’ll find a balance, but it just may take some time to figure it out. And that’s ok.

I don’t have to have everything figured out now. I just need to take one day at a time. One workout at a time. And one paper at a time. 🙂

Oh, and here’s the meal plan for the week:

Monday:  Chicken enchilada stew. Because I have to finish a paper and don’t want to waste time cooking. Also, it’s delicious. (I usually top with avocado & green onions & cilantro).

Tuesday: Salads! With bacon. Because every salad is better with bacon. And maybe even hardboiled eggs and avocado.

Wednesday: Some kind of crockpot pork with roasted broccoli and cauliflower

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner!! Eggs, sweet potatoes, bacon. You really can’t go wrong with this meal choice.

Friday: Some kind of meat (chicken, sausage, etc.?) with sauteed cabbage and Paleo slaw.

Someday I’ll be able to cook more elaborate meals again. But until then, it’s all about finding the simplest food to prepare without a lot of extra ingredients.

Do you have any simple meals that are favorites I could add to my lineup?

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Okay friends, I am in a full-on exercise dilemma. (#FirstWorldProblems)

Here’s the issue:

I’ve only made it to CrossFit 1x per week the last two weeks. That is sad news and also a complete waste of money.  (I did, however, manage to fit in a run and a WOD during lunch last week).

Here are my options:

  • Quit CrossFit altogether. Join the local globo-gym that’s 5 minutes from my house and take classes like body pump and yoga.
  • Switch CrossFit boxes to one that’s closer. There’s one 2 minutes from our house, but I’ve heard mixed things. I visited it & am uneasy. Pros: It’s close. Small class sizes. Expanding soon into a bigger space.  I’ll probably make it there a few more times a week because it’s so convenient. They have a super cute puppy gym dog. Cons: It’s not Flower City CrossFit. I have to make new friends. And leave my current friends. They’re new and have a small space and lack of equipment until the space is expanded. And I’ve heard people who have had issues with getting along with the owner.  And I’ve heard the programming isn’t awesome.
  • Drop down to 2x per week at FCCF and go once during the week and once on the weekend. And supplement with running/WODs on my own. Because as much as I’d LIKE to be able to make it out to Henrietta more than once a week, I know it’s just not going to happen.
  • Drop down to 3x per week at FCCF and make CrossFitting more of a priority than sleep or homework.
  • Stop exercising. Eat pizza and drink wine. Gain back 30 pounds. (I do have to consider ALL options here!)

I like the last option, personally, but I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable.

I’m pretty sure I don’t want to switch CrossFit gyms. The cons list is way longer than the pros.  I WANT it to be awesome AND close, but that doesn’t mean it will be.

And I don’t think realistically I’m going to give up sleep or homework to make it in more often.

So that leaves me with dropping down to 2x per week or quitting altogether and spending way less money on classes that are not nearly as challenging or fun.

I’m not sure I want to quit CrossFit altogether. I mean, what else would I talk about on Facebook? And I would never feel sore anymore. And I would never be able to complain/brag about how sore my shoulders are from doing 100 push ups and how my pants are too tight in the butt because I’ve squatted too much. But 2x per week seems like so little.

If you were me, what would you do? 

Also, here’s our meal plan this week. Super simple.

Monday: Baked chicken breast with cauliflower rice and roasted broccoli. (Also baking chicken for salad night)

Tuesday: Salad night!

Wednesday:  Simple Paleo stuffed peppers.

Thursday: Venison steak with roasted vegetable medley of squash, onion, and brussels sprouts.

Friday: “Spaghetti” (spaghetti squash) and Paleo meatballs in red sauce. I’ve been craving spaghetti and meatballs.

Are these meal plans helpful for you? I feel like since we’re cooking very simply lately, there’s not much that’s exciting about our food. I might stop posting these unless they’re being used?

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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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So we’ve been total slackers the last week on our blog. I’ve been getting into a routine for grad school (hello, LOTS of READING) and Bob’s been getting into a routine of never rarely seeing me. Also, I attended an awesome conference last week (High Ed Web) so I wasn’t able to blog for a few days anyways.

Excuses, excuses. At least I’ve been getting my exercise in, although not much of it is CrossFit. I finally went back Thursday (hooray!) and was so happy to be back. I missed my CF friends. Unfortunately I was up too late Thursday so Friday morning didn’t happen.

However, Friday was so beautiful that I ended up taking a half day and spent an hour trail running at Durand Eastman Park. It was gorgeous. It took me a little under an hour to run 4 miles because I nearly killed myself on a root at the beginning… so I decided that walking/running was a better way to go. My wrist just started feeling better — I wasn’t about to sprain an ankle.

Gorgeous views on my run on Friday

Gorgeous views on my run on Friday

Sunday was a day full of reading and paper writing. Because I can’t read textbooks for three hours straight without wanting to fall asleep, I decided that at the end of every chapter I’d do 20 jumping jacks, 10 squats, and 10 push ups. That worked pretty well until I hit the beginning of chapter 9 and was going stir crazy.

Really thrilling content.

Really thrilling content.

Despite the fact that I had enjoyed a delicious pumpkin ale while I was reading, I headed out for a run with the pupster. Pro tip: don’t run after drinking a beer. Pro tip #2: if you DO run after drinking a beer, just accept the fact that you’ll be slow because your legs will be heavy and tired. 3 slow miles later, I was ready to go back to reading.

Stanley joined me after our run while I finished up some reading in our office.

Stanley joined me after our run while I finished up some reading in our office.

Couldn’t make it to CrossFit this morning because it was rainy and dark and I had some stomach issues (probably from running after beer-drinking), but I packed a bag and plan on doing the WOD over lunch at work, subbing out pull-ups for push-ups.

I was worried about fitting in exercise — and I still am worried about fitting in CrossFit (I think I’m going to drop down to 2x a week) — but running may just be my saving grace throughout grad school.  And the cardio room at work over lunch.

Because Bob & I were visiting his family this weekend, we made our meal plan on the back of a coupon for Dunkin’ Donuts. Hey, you do what you have to.

mealplan

In case you can’t read my chicken scratch, here’s our (very simple) meal plan for the week:

Sunday: we ate leftovers Bob’s parents so graciously sent home with us. Butternut squash & sweet potato soup, sausage & onion & mushroom soup, turkey, and sauteed vegetables. Delicious.

Monday: Leftovers for lunch, and roasted vegetable medley of butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and delicata squash with baked chicken for dinner. (I’ll post a recipe soon for the vegetables. SO GOOD.)

Tuesday: Leftovers for lunch. Salad for Dinner. We’ve decided that Tuesday nights will be salad night because it’s something easy for me to pack to eat during class, and easy for Bob to eat while I’m not there.

Wednesday: Salad for lunch, Paleo Pad Thai for dinner. I’ll do the prep work for this tonight — roasting the spaghetti squash & making the sunshine sauce – because I have a happy hour Wednesday I’m going to so Bob is going to have to cook!

Thursday: Leftovers for lunch.  Hooray, we’re home together for dinner!! We’re making Paleo Nachos which are my FAVORITE easy meal. I’ll prep the chicken the night before — I use this recipe for the pulled chicken. Then I cut up bell peppers & top them with traditional nacho toppings (minus cheese, sour cream, etc.) using this recipe as inspiration. And of course, using homemade guac (recipe soon!) These are great for lunch the next day, too. YUM.

Friday: Baked fish, sauteed cabbage, cauliflower rice. (I always try to make fish on Fridays because I don’t like leftover fish for lunch the next day).

Saturday: Paleo potluck maybe? Or else we’ll figure something out.

What are you eating this week? How was your weekend?

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Low Motivation

While Meg is missing CrossFit, I am having an opposite feeling.

I just don’t want to exercise.

I don’t. I feel kind of guilty, but I have just no motivation to make it to the gym. I did a lot last week, but so far this week today will be my third “rest day” in a row if I don’t get off my butt and get to the gym.

I don’t know what my problem is. My alarm was set yesterday and today, and I just consciously ignored it and decided not to go in the morning. My gym bag was packed yesterday, but I just didn’t feel like going after work. My gym bag was also packed today, but I just didn’t make it from Point A to Point B.

I’m not sleeping terrible, but I’m waking up kind of tired. My energy has been pretty low in general though. I was thinking that maybe it had to do with my paleo diet (like this article suggests) – maybe I’m not getting enough nutrients or something. But I’m eating like I usually eat for the most part, and I haven’t been this low energy before. And I definitely think I’m eating enough too.

It might be my stress level. I have recently started a new job – I got a big promotion at work and it has been awesome! But, the flipside has been it has involved long hours, and lots of stress. So, I feel more drained when I come home from work, and I’m having a hard time getting the energy or motivation to go to the gym. Which is a double edged sword, because exercising often gives me more energy and is a stress reliever.

So, here I am, stuck in a Catch-22 of having low motivation to exercise, when in all likelihood, exercise might give me more energy.

This is how I feel

This is how I feel

It doesn’t help that I’m also still sore from Saturday’s workout. The workout was a partner workout, so that means that the two of you work together or split up the work in some way. It was designed by our trainer who has the nickname “McNinja”, and I think it was pure evil:

1 Person working as 1 Person “Rests”
**If the resting partner breaks, the “active” partner must stop.

For time:
Run 800m Together
100 Burpee Wall Balls (20#) while “resting” person holds a plank
100 Pull Ups while “resting” person holds a 45# plate overhead
100 Kb Swings (53#) while “resting” person holds a hand stand
100 Push Press (95#) while “resting” person holds a squat position
200 Double Unders (split up – “resting” person actually can rest!)

It took my partner and I 43:17 to finish, and it was a loooong 43 minutes! I scaled the pull ups with a blue and red band, and I scaled the push press to 75#. The burpee wall balls/plank phase was by far the hardest part. “What is a burpee wall ball?” you might ask. It is a burpee. . .followed by a wall ball. And yes, it is just as terrible as you might think. But that wasn’t the worst part – the worst part was trying to hold a plank while your partner did that movement which took super long (imagine doing 100 burpees and 100 wall balls and how long that would take).

Anyway, my shoulders/arms are still sore, as you can see most of those movements involved some type of overhead movement.

But, those are just excuses. I just basically don’t want to go. So it’s a weird dichotomy in the Hartman household: Meg really wants to go to the gym, but can’t. And I don’t want to go to the gym, but can!

Do you ever just really not want to exercise? What do you do to get back into it again?

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