Tag Archives: Nutrition

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.


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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.


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!

A Greater Appreciation for Food

18 Feb

Every parent has had the moment of sitting down to dinner with their kids.

Three words, uttered before even cutting into the food.

“I don’t like this.”

And it destroys the entire mood of the meal before a bite. We all know we did it as a child, but wouldn’t dream of it as an adult.

The process of learning to cook is part of learning more appreciation of food. When you understand the time and effort required to produce a home-cooked, high quality meal: you give more room for experimentation into new food.

But it also goes deeper into the food supply chain. When you grow your own food, you understand what it takes to produce high quality, sustainably produced food.

I’ve been growing backyard fruit for more than five years. I can count the number of perfect peaches we’ve produced in the dozens. It’s been a battle against fungus, bugs and birds.

I’ve had more success with my vegetable production this winter – and I’ve greatly enjoyed everything produced.

But to know there are farms that work even harder to produce Artisanal quality fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products – I have deep appreciation for their output now.

To some degree, that’s part of the paleo lifestyle – knowing where your food originates, and appreciating the quality and hard work put into producing the food.

It makes it that much more difficult to consider eating processed food products.

Food is about more than macronutrients – fats, carbohydrates and protein. Diet quality goes well beyond these measures.

Reversing Direction

9 Feb

Just before I graduated from college, I decided to stop eating beef.

I decided that beef, along with its saturated fat load, questionable production methods, as well as emerging health risks (Mad Cow disease) was a good thing to remove from my diet.  It was pretty easy to do, and I didn’t miss it.

A few years later pork followed suit.  I decided pork was at least as questionable – and probably equally easy to eliminate.  Probably the only meal I missed in pork was Southern Pulled Pork Barbecue.

Since my adoption of Paleo, my food attitudes have adjusted.  Back in October, real Bacon returned to my diet regularly for the first time in probably 15 or 20 years.  The world didn’t end – and in fact, my good cholesterol rose versus last year.  I’ve also mixed in a few high quality Pork shoulders, slowly smoked to my diet occasionally.  My pork source: Thompson Farms in Dixie, Georgia.  They use pastured animals, raised from infants to slaughter in the same location and have earned one of Whole Foods highest certifications for animal welfare.

It’s great to see family run farms being rewarded for raising animals well and allowing them to live as naturally as possible.  They also were quick to respond to a question I sent via e-mail.

I’m now on the verge of reversing direction on my first food exclusion – and mixing some grass-fed beef back into my diet.  I’m thinking about a large cut – like a brisket or a tri-tip for smoking.  Again, it’s another Whole Foods-certified local farm – either White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia or Brasstown Beef in Brasstown, North Carolina as the source.

Grass-fed has a lot of advantages – all originating because it’s how the animal was intended to eat.

Have you reversed direction on a specific food because of Paleo?

No Sweets Week Ends

13 Jan

As I mentioned last week, our Elementary School was promoting a “No Sweets Week” last week.  Both of our sons were participating.

Both successfully completed the week, and fairly easily without sweets as they were defined in the contest and now have a chance at the prizes.

Beyond that, it encouraged some good conversations with Aidan about food contents and healthy lifestyles.  He had a lot of questions about what the foods he eats were made of, and what comprised “Good” or “Bad” fats, or “Good” or “Bad” carbohydrates or “Good” or “Bad” Sugar.  I know I run at the more disciplined (or hard line) side of nutrition, but I’ve tried not to color my kids diet and mindset with my opinions too often.

My main objectives in teaching them about nutrition have been to favor a high intake of natural and home made foods and a regular intake of fruits and vegetables.  It’s important to me to put a meal on the table every night that is both enjoyable by everyone as well as being nutritionally sound.  I try to live by example for them – eating vegetables at every meals, and converting any snacks I have to be real food like fruits, vegetables, meats or nuts.

They’ve both started following in small ways.  Aidan has always exclusively consumed milk and water (no carbonated soft drinks, juice drinks, or sports drinks).  Evan is a pretty adventurous eater for five years old – enjoying things like shrimp, salmon and home made Caesar salad.

Next week is TV Turn Off week at school.  I’m not sure what participation the boys will have on this one – they are so tuned into television.  TV is a constant back drop for them when they are home – the DVR and cable have made television far more available to kids then it was when I was young.  As a child of the 80’s I lived much of my early life pre-cable and had a choice of five Television stations to watch.  There wasn’t programming always available.

We’ll give it an effort at least – if the weather is good then they face a far better chance than if it’s cold or rainy.  Given the option to go play with other kids, they both still take up that option.