Archive | Diet RSS feed for this section

At 36

15 Mar

I turned 36 this week. I’m now closer to 40 than 30 and closer to 50 than 20.

I feel like I’m healthy at 36 – certainly more than I was half a life ago at 18. At 18, I was close to 30 pounds heavier than I am now. My diet consisted of a lot of snack foods and fast food (that’s what the typical American high school or college student eats).

At 36, I’m more than a year and a half following the Paleo diet, to the point I don’t really think about it anymore. I’m able to subsist on longer fasts when I need to because my blood sugar is really stable through the whole day.

But it’s not without mental and physical challenges.

My last physical showed increased total and LDL-C blood cholesterol. It has lead me to make additional dietary adjustments – a little more awareness of fat intake, and increasing my carbohydrate intake away from what was frequently very low carb dieting (although I’m still in what would be low carb compared to my old diet).

My biggest plan for the next 4 years until I turn 40 is to be aware and to continue making small changes for performance and longevity.

Fitness Metrics as of April 1, 2012

1 Apr

Diet: Paleo Plus Dairy

Seven months of Paleo eating are done.  At this point, it’s become easier to maintain the current path than to switch back to a Standard American Diet.
One of my best finds during the month was taking advantage of a American Express Sync With Twitter deal to help stock up on Grass-fed meats at Whole Foods.
Weight Lifting

I lifted weights 11 days during March, down from 13 in February.  I had several days of travel during the month, but the bigger factor was taking the last week of the month off from weightlifting and attempting to get some additional rest.

My maximum squat has increased ten pounds to 260 pounds (a little better than 1.8 times body weight).  My maximum deadlift has increased by twenty-five pounds to 250 pounds.  .

No change on bench press – still holding at 160 pounds (1.1 times body weight).

Running

One run, totaling about 3 miles in February.  I tried to run while in Asheville on business but between the time change and the area around the hotel I couldn’t find a safe route.  I’m in the Pacific Northwest this month and plan to run while there – adding to my “States I’ve run in” total.
I did register for the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th in Atlanta – so I’ll be building some mileage as well as speed workouts leading up to then.
Soccer
League start is just around the corner.  I’ve had a couple of kick-arounds with my new team, but also spent a lot of time in the yard with my sons working on all of our skills.  Evan has shown a lot of determination on his juggling (Keepy ups) so we’ve both been working on those.  I can hit 10 or more consecutively consistently.

Sleep

On weightlifting days, I’m still up at 4:40 AM.  But when traveling or on weekends I’m trying to sleep later.

Weight: 144 Pounds

I’m up two pounds from my weight in March.


Things I Think Are Cool for March 4, 2012

4 Mar

Cooking

I’ve had a cast iron skillet for many years – but until a few months ago I never used it!  I usually favored my non-stick cookware, but here’s a great explanation of why and how you should be cooking with cast iron.  One of my favorite things is starting it on the stove and then finishing either under the broiler or in the oven.

Recipes

Mango and Avocado in a salad?  Sounds like a great combination.

While I prefer smoking at a lower temperature, this Lemon and Dill chicken preparation looks great.  It might find it’s way onto our dinner table this week.

Exercise

How should kids exercise?  A lot of variety and free play.

One of my revelations from my half marathon training last summer was that I could do more than I thought from a fasting state.  During the summer time, I regularly went and ran reasonable distances (6-8 miles) without eating breakfast first.  I knew it was reasonable, but some studies help back up my study of one.  It also discusses the effect of exercisers to overcompensate in their post-workout meals.

 

Fitness Metrics as of March 1, 2012

1 Mar

Diet: Paleo Plus Dairy

Six months of Paleo done!  I keep trying to expand my palette of food I eat.  This month’s new foods included reintroducing Beef (grass fed from a local farm) and trying Goat’s Milk as an alternative to cow’s milk.
The advertised image of the brand of goat’s milk I selected includes a claim of grass-fed animals – and a higher price tag as well.  I’m hoping that grass-fed in this case also means lower-confinement than the typical conventional dairy operation.  I didn’t notice a lot of difference from cow’s milk dairy – just a slightly sweeter, more milk-like flavor to it.  It is ultra-pasteurized however – so there’s a tradeoff in terms of processing.
I planted a few more varieties for spring vegetables – more Arugula, Spinach and Kale along with a new addition: Brussels Sprouts.  The peach trees started blooming the last week of February so we should see the fruit ready in June.
Weight Lifting

I lifted weights 13 days during February, up from 9 in January.  My travel and meeting schedule has been relaxed versus last month and December.

My program changed from my own design to doing Crossfit Football.  Some of the workouts I’ve modified to my own strength limits, and I don’t always do the workout from the specified day.

My maximum squat has increased five pounds to 250 pounds (a little better than 1.7 times body weight).  My maximum deadlift has increased by twenty pounds to 225 pounds.  I attribute a lot of my increase on deadlift to increasing the limits of my grip strength through Farmer’s Carries.

Maximum bench press increased by five pounds to 160 pounds (1.1 times body weight).

I’m enjoying the Crossfit Football program – it’s a new challenge each day in the gym.  What’s interesting is that I’m doing less each day in the gym than I did before – fewer sets and fewer exercises but seeing better results.

Running

One run, totaling about 3 miles in February.  It was a sprint workout at that.
Soccer
I played two Sundays this month – out of four in the month.  I think my league season will start some time in March.

Sleep

I’ve continued to burn the early hours – rising at about 4:40 each day to lift weights before work.

Weight: 142 Pounds

Consistent with February’s beginning weight.


National Pancake Day

28 Feb

I’m sure most Americans have heard by now – its National Pancake Day at the International House of Pancakes. That means free food comprised of a lot of flour and a small amount of eggs and dairy, topped with sugar.

Here’s my favorite pancake.

20120228-072523.jpg

It’s a Frittata – baked in a cast iron pan. This is 3 days worth of breakfast.

I always start with a base of sautéed vegetables. I use mixed peppers and onions and then add a green – either spinach or kale.

Once the vegetables are softened, I remove from heat and add 9 eggs. You can also add some cooked bacon or other meat, and cheese if your program allows dairy.

Then bake for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Starting the morning with a good dose of protein and a serving of vegetables is a great source of energy or recovery from early morning exercise.

Ending Dogma

23 Feb

Dogma: the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization.  It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers.  Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities.  (from Wikipedia)

For 13 years, I had my own Dogma: eating beef.

It was founded on the belief that fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in my diet were bad for me.  It was founded on the belief that eating beef was dangerous because of E. Coli outbreaks, and Mad Cow Disease.  I saw these attributes and events as the sign of a food source that I should eat.

It persisted for 13 years.  During some parts of that period, my diet was entirely poultry for a protein source. When I started investigating Paleo and alternative dietary plans, it occurred to me that what I thought I knew of fat and saturated fat might not be true.  Although I read the stories and studied the information, my decision to abstain from beef continued.

But in the last month, it occurred to me that I might be missing a nutritionally dense food source that could bring some additional positive results into my diet, if I could find a clean source for the meat.  I knew that grass-fed and finished beef was available at Whole Foods, but still was apprehensive about adding it back into my diet.

It occurred to me that I was holding onto this one facet of my old low-fat diet for the simple reason of momentum: I had been doing it for a long time.  The belief had become dogmatic – that it was healthier for me not to eat beef.  That’s when I knew I had to take steps towards change.

The opposite of dogmatic behavior is pragmatic behavior.  While holding certain beliefs to be true is important, I decided it was more important to accept all of the solutions to “problem” of a healthy and complete diet.

I firmly believe that variety in diet is one of the strengths of the Paleo lifestyle.  I have increased the variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources I eat over the past year (and especially in my six month Paleo stint.)  The different types of food give a great variety in micro-nutrients and flavors.

So the perfect opportunity came last week – when returning from a business trip to Asheville, North Carolina my trip took me right through the same area that Brasstown Beef and would give me the opportunity to see where the animals live and get a good price on a cut suitable for smoking.  (As an aside – buying Grassfed beef in this instance was $1 per pound more than conventional beef that was on special at Publix last week.  For a 3 pound cut, this meant a difference of $3.  This is hardly a budget breaker!)

The next time, the beef (a chuck roast) went onto the smoker and smoked until it was to pulling temperature.  It was delicious.

I’m still not sure if I’ll add steaks back in to my diet – the cuts that sound appetizing to me are the larger pieces suitable to slower (and lower temperature) cooking.  That’s probably still partially a mental response, but the large pieces, slow cooked are more appealing to me from pork sources as well.  (I’m more likely to smoke a pork shoulder than eat chops, for example.)

So in the course of a weekend I’ve ended a practice of 13 years that I could no longer hold onto.

These Are Southern Heritage Foods

19 Feb

At some point, the true heritage foods of the Southern United States were lost, obscured or perverted.

I think most people are more likely to associate Paula’s Deen’s brand of deep fried, sweetened foods with the South.

But the true heritage foods of this region: smoked meats, cured meats and fresh vegetables.

I travel regularly in the Carolinas and Tennessee, often by car. Barbecue is widely available in small stores an roadside stands offering meats smoked with a variety of wood smoke and sauces, depending on the region.

The traditional ‘cue of the region: pork and chicken is featured on the menu.  (Beef is more of a feature of the cattle states like Texas.)  Alongside the ‘cue in the best of the restaurants are fresh vegetables – everything from green beans to collard or mustard greens.  A lot of barbecue joints seem to resort to using frozen or canned vegetables instead, but that’s can be forgiven if the barbecue is good enough.

Is there anything more primal than meat cooked slowly over a smoky fire?  Probably not!