Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 90, Done.



...And, yet, I’m just beginning.

(Please do note that I will be adding more pictures as the week goes on so please stick with me and enjoy the celebration)

Wow, I almost don’t have words enough for this post. Funny that for the first time in all of these 90 days with all of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of words and experiences and ideas that finishing something that’s been such a huge part of my life for the past three months has left me nearly speechless. But perhaps I’m grasping for something deep when that really isn’t necessary. No, I think that I’ll just celebrate with you all, give myself a good and hearty pat on the back, and let the thanks, acknowledgments, reflections, and future plans fly as high as I am right now.

Speaking of celebrations, I just remembered that about this time last year was when I first decided to become a vegan. It was about mid-August and I had just finished watching a movie called Earthlings which is all undercover video taken at factory farms, science labs, circuses, etc. and is free to watch on Google Video. I’m especially proud of that commitment I’ve made and I’m looking forward to how the next year and years will turn out. Whoo!

I’ve got to thank Patrick first and foremost. Without him and his example and guidance I never would have taken the first step toward improving myself like this, in fact, I’m absolutely positive that I would still, at this very moment, be stuck on a couch wiling away my life with all of the horribly unhealthy habits that so possessed me and my daily life before the project. Without him I would never have broken those crippling, destructive habits that dictated my life and kept me in a perpetual state of sloth. Without him I never would have built the knowledge and habits that are so present in me right now and that will stick with me for the rest of my life--a long life, I’m sure now, because of all of the beneficial effects the Peak Condition Project has had on me.

So thank you, Patrick, you do truly rock. Your unfailing enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me. You’ve taught me more about myself, and from so many miles away, than I could ever have hoped to learn.

My fellow PCPers, Corry and David, well, We Did It! I almost didn’t think that we’d be celebrating this day together that’s how much I got to myself in the early days of the project but you two, man, you two helped pull me through the tough times I was having at the beginning by your optimism and all of the gentle and inspirational support. Your words, in your comments and in your own blogs, gave me something to anchor myself to. You guys were my lifeline that I could climb up on whenever I was sinking. You two helped me keep my head above the murky depths of my own self-doubt and made me able to skim on the surface of this great ocean of improvement.

You two are beautiful people and I won’t be able to forget you guys or what you gave to me, never asking for anything in return. I’ve so much enjoyed our journey here together and I so hope to keep hearing from you guys as time goes on past these tough days of the Project. Despite the distance separating us three, I believe we were a team in the best sense of the word--a stable support for all of our ups and downs and some of the best cheering sections we could ever hope for. Thank you, thank you.

And everybody, both online and in my personal life, who followed our journey through our blogs and offered help and support and advice, well, this simply wouldn’t have been possible without all of you. All of you out there in the wild land of the internet who kept up with us all the way through the project, and even those who came and went and maybe came back, kept us going. You gave me a reason and a drive to keep going, to keep sharing my experiences with you, to keep you all in my life. I would never have forgiven myself if I had quit on all of you sometime in the middle of the Project because it didn’t feel as if you were simply just unknown eyes scanning through the sometimes random and incomprehensible tales I set before you, no, I felt as if there was a conduit linking me to all of you, like we were one and the same and if I quit and let myself down then I would be letting all of you down and there was no way that I could do that.

Thank you all from the bottom of me.

- - -

So what did I learn from all of this?

My body can take and do a heck of a lot more than I ever thought it could. I was never out of shape and by the time the Project started I was considering myself a pretty fit person, certainly not in top physical condition but healthy and strong. Boy was I wrong. There was so much more to me just hiding under all of that fat under my skin and lining whatever muscle I did have and the Project showed me that all I had to do was take a little time out of my day, put some effort into myself, and believe that I could be better than I already was.

Boy did I come out a believer in myself. I now know that I am capable of so much more than I would have thought of at first and even now I can see that I am capable of improving myself and becoming so much better than I am at this point. I’m capable of anything.

I’ve learned that jumproping takes a little practice to get into (and squatting jumpropes even more so) but once you do it’s as if a whole new world opens up for you. I never thought I would have enjoyed a “classic” workout (read, not karate related) as much as I did. It started out as a bit of a love-hate relationship but by now...it’s all love, baby. I love the feel of the jumprope in my hands and how I feel after a couple thousand jumps and the sharp snap of the rope on the floor. It’s wonderful and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone.

I’ve learned that I love fruit. Before the project I was already into fruit but now, after three months of having to eat it every single day, I dig biting into the stuff so much that I can’t imagine going a day without it. I especially love papaya spears and pineapple rounds and if you ever happen upon any of those, my fair readers, then hop on the bandwagon and ride it straight on through to amazing taste city.

Surprisingly it does not take much money at all to get in the very best shape of your life. I spent only, maybe, a hundred dollars on everything (jumprope, resistance bands, blender, scale, etc.) and I wasn’t being frugal by any means. Gyms are not necessary at all and there is a particular kind of satisfaction that comes with getting into just as good a shape as those who spend thousands a year on gym memberships that they hardly use and at places where the employees hardly care whether you succeed or fail. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they’re rooting for you to fail just so that you will keep paying up on your gym membership plans (and the personal trainers they keep trying to talk you into).

Making close to (probably) 300 soy protein smoothies within a 90 day period will make you a master smoothie craftsman. I can make them in my sleep now, I’m sure, and they all taste delish. My nightly banana infused smoothies are something that I will continue to make because they are oh so tasty. Let me tell you, if you ever plan on making a fruit smoothie then please add a banana in the mix, it will make it so much thicker and tastier. You can thank me later about that.

Ah, the very last "Project" banana smoothie. I'll miss those the most, I think.

The strength of your body directly impacts how you live and how much you get out of life. Simply enough: a strong, healthy body will produce a healthy, happy life while a sluggish, fatty body will make life miserable.

Nearly all of the Project is mental. Patrick put it best when he said that the project is 90% mental and only 10% physical. The hardest part about the project is getting over the hurdles you set up for yourself. The thing is though, that, your body desperately wants to get over those hurdles--it craves it--all you have to do is give it the means to do it and BAM! your body will do things you never thought possible and will consistently surprise and please you. Give yourself a chance.

These satisfactions are permanent.

- - -

There doesn’t seem to be much more for me to say here that I haven’t already said right now and over the past 90 days so I’ll end with looking towards the future.

My Post-PCP Plans

The 29 Olympics started just at the end of this Project and has inspired me to become even more healthy than I already am and greater than I imagined myself could ever be. It’s been a huge inspiration seeing those people who have trained for so long to be the best they could be and to be as strong as they could be that I want to follow in their footsteps, so to speak.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a bike, a very nice Specialized number, hanging upside down from big black hooks in my garage. I’ve never put much effort into riding it which has been a shame. I want to do something about that.

I’m working on developing a post-Project Project for myself that will have me becoming one with that bike and have me driving myself to a better condition than I am even now.

My PCP blog will be up for ever and I want to tell you all about the struggles and triumphs I will have as I go from a very novice rider to, hopefully, someone very skilled, in shape, and driven to be as good as I possibly can be. I’ll be starting off slow around the neighborhood and will build myself up to zooming around the town, with all of its hills and straight, smooth paths, until I’m able to compete with the big guys (possibly, probably). I want to share that experience with all of you, possibly in a weekly posting (that's the plan, at least) with all of the routes I’ve taken and my experiences with those rides, how I’m adjusting to it all, my thoughts on everything, etc., because I know that you will give me the support I need to keep myself on the path to my goal.

Thank you in advance for all of that.

It seems that I’ve said what I wanted to say here. I’ll be putting up as many pictures as I can and I hope that you’ll all be coming back to check those out as they come up.

This is me, signing off for now. This has been an adventure I will never forget.

Thank you all. Have a nice day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 89, Nearly there...

It almost felt like this time would never come but here we are, one day away from Day 90, one day away from completing this three month odyssey, one day away from satisfaction and having completed something that I didn’t think I would be able to complete.

I’m feeling pretty good about it, not nearly as good as I will on Wednesday knowing that I won’t have to write another blog post for all of you. I mean, I enjoyed my time here on this blog but this was one of the absolute hardest parts of the project for me. I am totally proud of myself for having consistently kept up with this blog, writing a post every single day of this project. I didn’t think I’d be able to do that--I thought that I may get through a month of this and then cool things down to maybe three or four a week. That might certainly have been easier on me but I don’t think I would have gotten the same sense of satisfaction if I did that. This whole journey on this blog have almost been a project within a project--can I keep up a daily log of my experiences? I think I did pretty well on that count.

I think I will be missing the structure of my meals and having everything laid out for me. It was kind of weird to consider that essentially I was being told what to eat every day since I haven’t had to do that for the last twenty or twenty-one years. Sure there was a lot of room for variation and experimentation but if stayed within the confines of the gram measurements and didn’t go overboard on the weekends then, well, I would succeed. It’s going to take a lot of self-control to keep myself from slipping back into habits from before the project that are still lingering way, way deep down in some dark crevasse inside of me. I’ve said it numerous times before, though, that these habits that I’ve developed during the project will also be difficult to break, and I don’t want to break them.

So I should be good there.

The interaction between everyone on these blogs has been wonderful and I know for a fact that I would have crumbled very early on if it weren’t for the support from my fellow PCPers and those people reading and commenting on my blog. Thanks for all of the wonderful advice, it’s all something I will cherish forever and take with me into my daily life as something to live by.

It’s all so wonderful and I hardly have the right words, or enough of them, to truly tell all of you how much I appreciate your help. You’re all awesome.

Have a fantastic day.

:-)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 88, In the spirit of the Olympics

...I guess.

There is a 24 Hour Fitness (I’ve always thought it odd that it isn’t actually open for 24 hours...what’s the point of the name?) about a ten to fifteen minute drive away from my house--sometimes longer depending on how the evil 91 freeway is faring during the day--maybe nine or ten miles away whose front looks out onto the freeway and its passing cars. It’s always interesting to see people sweating away on the treadmills that line the windowed front of the building as I drive by--they never look happy to be there.

Some friends of mine and me went to that particular fitness gym because a couple of them have a membership there and they were able to get a free day pass for me and the other one in the group that didn’t have a membership. Let me start by saying that, man oh man, are they pushy. Before I could even think about walking out onto the workout floor I was marauded by two or three of their relentless employees and had membership packages and rates and coercions and trickery thrown at me from all sides. It was all they could do to keep themselves from strapping me into a chair and forcing me to endure unimaginable pain and torture unless I agreed to become a member of their particular club (slash, ahem, cult). I’m not joking when I said I had to listen to their spiel for an insufferable twenty minutes while trying to talk my way out of it and just sign the freaking paperwork to get my limited guest pass.

For that reason alone I will never again desire to join a 24 Hour or Bally’s or L.A. Fitness gym. Ever. Never ever.

There were two things that my friends wanted to do at the gym while they were there: one, lift some weights and two, go swimming in their indoor swimming pool. Lifting weights was the idea that some of my bigger friends had; I wasn’t totally into it because, well, who needs free weights anymore now that I’ve got resistance bands and a jumprope? I went along with that, though, and I could tell right away that I was getting looks from some of the other more muscley gym rats that were hanging around in their too tight shorts and sweat drenched tank tops. I’m sure that they were wondering how a relatively skinny guy like I am could do what I am capable of doing. I didn’t mind their looks as I stepped onto the benches, I was rather happy with myself actually.

The swimming pool was another story, though. We had tried swimming at one of my friend’s grandmother’s condominium pool but unfortunately chose the worst time to do it. If anyone ever tries to convince you to try swimming early in the cold morning after a particularly chilly night then do yourself a favor and slap them in their face. A rather uncomfortable thing happens to your body when you try and swim in quite possibly 40 degree water, your body nearly stops functioning (and for you guys out there, well, let me say that my nether region should not be popsicled and then sucked up into my body like that...not fun at all).

I have never been terribly good at swimming, just terrible. I can certainly keep myself afloat and, obviously, I haven’t drowned myself trying anything laughably simple in the water but beyond that, well...I won’t go into any details. For my pride’s sake, you know? I didn’t spend too much time in the pool which was really a bit of a shame because swimming has got to be one of the better exercises out there for you--it’s low impact and it work out every muscle in your body.

There was a jacuzzi and a sauna there so the actual pool was quickly abandoned in favor of the more heated distractions offered. I will admit that it was my very first time in a sauna and man is it hot in there. Ha ha? Why is it that saunas are designed by people that apparently are in desperate love with sharp edges and slippery tile? Where’s the fun in that?

We left soon after that because people had things and work to do during the day and I went home confident in my promise to myself never to go to another gym again in my life. If the employees behavior there is any indication of other gyms then you couldn’t force me to go to another one anyway. Besides all that, there’s absolutely no need to “prove myself” to protein bar chomping, energy drink guzzling muscle heads (who I’m sure really are nice guys who don’t deserve my berating them) that naturally gravitate to those places because they’re unaware that all you need to be healthy and in shape are vegetables, a jumprope, and a set of resistance bands. That’s all people, nothing more is needed, cut up your gym card, find a Sports Authority near you, and forget that you were ever a part of an organization like that.

Also, how inspiring is the Olympics this year? Makes me want to actually give swimming another try or get my bike down and really start turning myself into a cycling monster.

Have a fine Sunday. Two days left.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 87, Three days left?!

Well, the exercise plan will remain the same because, well, what more can be added or modified that will change or improve what we’ve already done and already know how to do? It almost seems, in some ways, that we’re on auto-pilot at this point--we know what we need to do with our bodies, we know what we need to put into them and how much we need to put into them to keep them running smooth and strong, and we’re beginning to understand just what to do to keep our progress moving forward safely by ourselves.

Besides, I don’t think that I want to subject myself to another one of Patrick’s new sadistic workout routines (squatting pushups and pull up and v-sits?! what’s the deal?).

Patrick also sent us s a bit of advice to carry us through our non-PCP lives and keep our bodies humming along at pleasantly wonderful levels. That bit of advice, short and, I’m sure, deceptively simple, is:

No numbers.

Screw them, they aren’t necessary, apparently. He tells us that it’s a life rule, probably the only one we’ll ever really need, and at first glance it seems to make a lot of sense and would be easy to follow. And I’m sure that it is, but the American consumer in me is puzzled by that rule.

For as long I’ve been aware of what I’ve been putting into me I’ve been, hmm, bombarded by nutrition labels and % Daily Values and fat percentages, etc. that something that’s really no more difficult to understand and live by than the knowledge that putting your hand over an open flame will burn your hand. Of course, it’s the food industry’s job to spread that misinformation about, but it’s still disheartening to realize that I’ve been tricked into worrying about stuff that isn’t something that should be worried over.

It’s as simple as this: you know your body, your body knows itself and will respond in actual physical ways to let you know that what you’re doing to it is either cool or not groovy at all. Those numbers on the back of the box are designed around a person’s body that is not your own so therefore those numbers should not be of any concern to you whatsoever. What you should be paying attention to, like I just said, are the signals that your body will only too readily give to you. That’s its job and it’s damn good at it.

So listen to it--if those burritos you’ve been eating frequently over the last month are leaving you feeling sluggish and down then obviously those poisons should be taken out of your system, no matter how much salty goodness is packed into them.

Have a wonderful day. You’re all wonderful.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day 86, Updates and such

Another one of these, I will admit, but of course this would in fact be the very final diet plan update because, well, after Tuesday Corry, David, and my part of the Peak Condition Project will be no more. It will continue, of course, because the ground we’ve laid over the past three months would take a concerted effort of will and physical strength to actually break.

So I’m not worried about any of us falling into disrepair, no, I’m confident that we will only continue to grow and develop and continue on with us until the very end of our days. It’s what the PCP’s all about, as I’ve said before, folks.

So onto the update-that-isn’t-much-of-an-update. This last weeks diet plan is...to stay the course, tried and true, taking me to Day 90 and beyond. That diet plan, which was also last week’s diet plan, is:

Breakfast, 170 g carbs, everything else the same.

Lunch, 130 g carbs, everything else the same.

Dinner, same.

Again, nothing difficult there, in fact if this last week has proven anything then this last week should be some sort of cakewalk in the park.

I do believe that tomorrow we will be graced with an updated exercise plan...or this last week’s one will continue on. I have been given instructions to totally shred my chest and shoulders this last week so that’s what I’ll be up to, you know, in case anyone was wondering.

Have a nice day, all, and I hope the beginning of your weekend will rock as much as I’m sure mine will. Ta-ta.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 85, Not quite an "indulgence"

But I think for these purposes here that it’ll do just fine, folks.

The indulgence I’m speaking of is soy yogurt. Yes, soy yogurt, wonderful and creamy, filled with fruity goodness and able to stuff my stomach full like no other snack type item I’ve yet to discover.

For a long while after I became a vegetarian the prospect of a soy yogurt kind of food was a foolish man’s pipe dream--I dared not to even dream that such a thing existed and I resigned myself to my future of a yogurtless existence. Hard as that was I persevered and lived on, hoping that one day the soy gods would grace me with some creamy, fruity goodness.

And then I came across the farmer’s market about five minutes away from my house. It was, first of all, a wonderful find for me because now I do a lot of my shopping there since I’m able to find everything my vegan body needs there, and then some. (Although, I must say, rather embarrassedly, that I was surprised that they sold meat there. Ah, the hilarity of my youthful naivete, “What? Why is a farmer’s market selling meat?! I thought they weren’t into all of that. My world is being rocked!”). Strolling around those aisles led me to their dairy section which contained, among some other vegetarian items, this little bit of some sort of heaven:



This is the peach flavor cup but they also come in Plain, Vanilla, Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Lemon, Blueberry, Apricot Mango, Strawberry Banana, and Mixed Berry. So far I’ve only had the pleasure of tasting the Apricot Mango, Strawberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Peach, and Vanilla flavors but each one has been it’s own unique delight.

Obviously, being vegan, it’s free of saturated fat, cholesterol, lactose, and it’s gluten free so even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian it’s a wonderfully healthy substitute to cow’s milk yogurt. Frankly, if memory serves, I think it tastes much better as well. Right off you notice the taste--sweet, it’s very sweet and the flavor hits you like a battering ram in full force right away. It’s very smooth and creamy and it’s a sensory delight to swirl it about in your mouth, to let it play over your tongue and seep between your teeth and feel it cool every corner of the inside of your mouth.



It’s very high in calcium, about 30% DV, and it’s sugar and sodium level are some of the lowest you can find in a yogurt so all of that is definitely a plus. It’s pretty affordably priced, too, and can come in between a dollar to a dollar-fifty a cup, depending on where you shop (I like to splurge a bit and by several whenever I’m at the store because, honestly, they go so quickly and they’re quite addicting).

So if you happen upon a cup of this lovely goodness go ahead and give it a try. A lot of you may be a bit skeptical and hesitant to try it since it is a soy product but, as I said before, it’s smooth and creamy and not at all gritty or chalky as some soy products can be. So give it a try, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 84, Ruh-roh

These waning days are having an odd effect on me. Curse me and my lethargic ways!

I’ve very oddly been feeling less and less inclined to pay attention to what I’m eating throughout the day and how much exercising I should be doing during my normal workout times. Bad, bad, yes I realize. I shouldn’t be letting these final days of the project effect my thinking and all of the work that I’ve put into myself over these last three months--nothing would be worse for me if I just let the excitement of finishing this thing turn my thinking into something lazy and wholly un-PCP like.

That would certainly be a tragedy.

And I’m not entirely sure what brought this about or why exactly it’s been happening, I mean, these last days are, if nothing else, a time when my resolve needs to be as strong as it possibly can be and I need to kick everything into overdrive rather than letting myself sit on the back burner and idle my way through to the end.

I think that this whole feeling of lethargy is due to the day or so when I was physically unable to devote myself entirely to my exercises, when I couldn’t jumprope to save my life. I guess my mind enjoyed that brief respite and longed for more of the same.

I need to tell myself, “No!” Now is when I need to persevere and push on through to the other side of all of this because if I can do that then I will be set for as long as I am able to be. If I let that negative thinking take a hold of me, if I let those thoughts lingering in some dark, dripping area in the back of my head, the ones telling me that skipping out on my exercises would be okay, then everything will have been...well, not entirely pointless, but not too far off that mark.

Send me some confidence. Help me and David and Corry through these last few days. Keep us strong, energized, and focused because, oddly enough, the end of this project is no real downhill slide, it’s just as demanding as any other bit.

It’s nice to think that we’ll have accomplished something, though. Smiles abound!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 83, The well's run dry

I’ve been almost dreading this day since before the project ever began--today I’ve realized that I don’t have much of anything to talk about. There’s nothing that I have to talk about and nothing that I really want to talk about (well, I’m sure there are things that I would want to talk about, if I knew what those things were then of course I would talk about them). It’s like the spigot’s been opened up for the last three months and now all the water’s been let out; what once was a torrent is now a trickle. The ideas are drip dropping out, gone is the waterfall of ideas.

Actually, there still is the indulgence day to consider--and I had better get a move on with that or miss my opportunity completely--and of course there’s the matter of the small assignment that Patrick gave us three recently, what that is you’ll have to wait and see because I’m not going to ruin the surprise for you all (that is unless Corry or David mention it first).

Well, I suppose I could go over an interesting little tidbit that Patrick divulged to us in yesterday’s e-mail. It was one more way for us to better continue our awesome progress into truly better health and a wicked new lifestyle that I’m sure will stick with us as long as we put ourselves to it.

As far as our diets go, the ratio of food has been pretty simply divided now and easy to follow. I’m sure it’s been pretty obvious as to how it’s been divided, as you could tell with my regular diet plan updates, but Patrick presented us with some pretty clear percentages that put things into a much clearer light for me, at least.

Instead of standing at the kitchen counter at every meal, weighing out the correct amount of food (which gets tiresome, let me tell you), there is actually a much easier and more efficient way to dish out our meals, by eye rather than by exact measurements. That ratio being:

50% vegetables
30% protein
20% carbohydrates
With fruit in between meals as snacks.

Simple and straightforward, just as it should be when it comes to something like this. It’s something that is easy to follow and can definitely ensure that I’m getting everything I need, without going overboard on the stuff that I don’t necessarily need, and all the while keeping me on track to a healthy, strong person.

I don’t know why I never saw something as simple as that before but I’m glad it clear to me now.

7 days, one week left...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Day 82, Sunday schmunday

Boyo these weekends are getting tougher to deal with, let me tell ya. And seemingly for no apparent reason, nothing clear has pooped its head up in front of me and given me a clearly defined answer. Annoying, it is.

For me, weekends have always been a challenge to keep anything--resolutions, projects, hobbies, potential life creating paths, etc.--going for as long as it’ll last. I know I mentioned this before, ages ago it seems, but the weekends are really just treasure troves of temptations for me and as the project is continuing on its way as well as getting closer to its end, all at the same time, well these past weekends have infamously become grueling mental and physical challenges.

In fact, I recall just yesterday wiling away the mid afternoon hours on my bed reading page after countless page of a new book all the while trying not to focus on the packages of dried fruit sitting on the kitchen counter, or the soy yogurt (peach and vanilla and delicious strawberry) chilling away in the refrigerator, or the delectable cinnamon raisin whole wheat bread and the vegan cream cheese resting in drawers in the fridge.

How screwy it was. How beguiling! What tricks my mind played with me.

Of course, I was able to stave off the temptation and keep my sticky fingers to themselves and out of the potential food overload that would have taken place had I let my mind wander. Not that I was even hungry or anything, just bored, and you know what boredom can do to something like a diet and exercise plan.

Hee hee. All this worry over some yogurt and fruit. Funny. I’m still amazed at my newfound conscientiousness and the power it has over my everyday life and actions. Had one of these long weekends occurred before the project began the I would have been in the kitchen straightaway pulling object after object out of the fridge and collapsing onto my couch with a great sigh, ready for the feast that I’d be partaking in. Remembering those times also brings to mind the couple hours after the great gorging when my body would react to all of the food and begin cursing my weak willed mind for letting it stuff itself with all of that crap.

I’m sitting pretty now, about to go and enjoy squatting jumpropes, and imagining life after the project.

It’s filled with fruit and vegetables, and more jumproping.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 81, Whoops

So I made a mistake about the whole timeline of this project--it seems that things changed through the course of this thing and instead of the project ending on August 15th like I originally thought and mentioned before it will instead be ending on “Day 90”. So that would mean that, as of writing this, there are only nine more days in the project for Corry, David, and me.

Things are winding down, it seems, but things don’t seem to feel like they’re ending, oddly enough. I’m sure that’s because we still do have nine days left and in some ways that’s still quite a long time; many things can happen, and will happen I’m sure, and there’s still a lot of work to be done, so many things to explore and discover, so much more jumproping to do.

I’m hoping that within the next nine days that I’ll be able to partake in my final Indulgence Day and describe my reaction to those always interesting experiences. Perhaps there will be one last exploration of a new and unique (for me, at least) foodstuff for all of you. I’ve really enjoyed doing those and I’d like to continue trying exotic new things because variety is the spice of life and if your life isn’t spicy then there isn’t bound to be much fun to it, now is there?

Any ideas from all of you faithful readers as to what I should subject myself to in these last few weeks? Something crazily awesome, I hope, because going out with a bang is always the best way to go (I mean, really, who would want to go out with a whimper?).

Yesterday was Saturday and judo was fine for all that it was. It certainly was painful at some points but those instances were broken up by my getting to help teach some of the other younger students instead of being the guinea pig. I’ve never really taught anybody during the judo classes before so that was an entirely new and weird experience. I did my best to teach them correctly but I didn’t have the years of experience it like I do with karate at hand so it ended up being me there trying my best to explain the intricacies of one of the more basic throws, all the while my mouth was moving faster than my head (what an odd sensation that is, let me tell you). It’s also very complicated trying to teach someone how to throw a person when you’re the person being thrown. That takes multitasking to a whole other level.

So judo was fine, karate, on the other hand, wasn’t as cool. Funny that it takes getting punched in the ear twice, almost losing all ability to hear out of both ears, and turning my left wrist into a red, yellow, and green mess of a bruise to make me realize that there has got to be a sport or exercise driven activity that would be better for me physically, and mentally at that. Kung fu was giving me that satisfaction for a while but the money I was spending on tuition and the sixty mile trip to the school and back was becoming not worth it. That was hard to realize since I really enjoyed taking kung fu and I wish there was a school closer to my house but what are you going to do?

Perhaps I’ll take up yoga again. Or something else...knitting?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day 80, Calling it quits

On fast food, that is. Not that I ever really ate any of the stuff, especially recently. It’s been, oh, maybe six or seven months since I had my last bit of fast food (Del Taco, if I remember correctly) and even then it was only french fries since fast food joints don’t really cater to the whole vegan crowd (Baker’s is making an okay vegetarian try at it but who cares, really). But I think that I’ve gotten to the point now that whatever temptation that food and those places had for me is now entirely gone, replaced with a stronger craving for vegetables and fruit, especially fruit.

Why the change of heart? Trans-fats, the nasty buggers.

Trans-fats are unsaturated oils that have hydrogen infused into them. They’re used in a lot of fast food frying techniques (see where this is going?) and any food which seems like it shouldn’t be solid at room temperature. Already it’s sounding grosser than most anything I’d put into my mouth. You should consider that it’s responsible for screwing with your cholesterol levels and wreaking havoc on your heart. Is it any wonder that it is the cause for so many food related deaths?

Really, when you’re putting something so fabricated and unnatural into you--and for so many people, especially in America, they’re ingesting the stuff many times a week when it should be maybe once a month or, preferably, never--it should be no surprise when your heart starts struggling to pump blood through your stiffened, cholesterol clogged arteries.

It’s silly to me that so many still persist in becoming well known, preferred customer customers at their local fast food restaurants and are oblivious to what it that behavior is doing to their bodies. I see and read so frequently about the obesity epidemic (and really there should be a stronger word in place of epidemic there) and marvel at how nothing changes in people’s eating habits. I’m aware that to some extent we’re creatures of habit, especially nowadays, and quick meals are convenient but it shouldn’t take a coronary to snap people to attention.

Of course, this is just one man’s amazement against the entire fast food industry. I’m sitting pretty on my resolution to stay away from my local McDonalds and Burger King and Taco Bell and, yes, even Del Taco because it just isn’t worth it. Honestly, I’m not sure why I ever thought it was.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Day 79, Squatting jumpropes?

Yesterday was Thursday which means that yesterday was new exercise plan day. Here it is for all of you to ogle at:

Day 1

Jumprope : 1 set x 15 mins

Chest Dips : 10 sets x 15 reps

Push-Ups : 4 sets x failure

Rear Chest Flys : 5 sets x 30

Biceps Curls : 4 sets x failure

One arm curl : 3 sets x failure

Shoulder Press : 4 sets x failure

V-sits : 5 sets x failure

Day 2

Squatting jumprope : 5 sets x 30-40 jumps

Pull-ups : 10 sets x 10 reps.  Last 3 to failure

Rowing : 6 sets x 30 (last two to failure)

Triceps Dip : 5 sets x failure

Triceps Extension : 3 sets x failure

Forward Shoulder Raise : 5 sets x failure

Standing Shoulder Fly : 5 sets x failure

Side crunches : 4 sets x failure

Day 3

Jumprope : 1 set x 15 mins.


So yippee skippe I’ll be ringing in the new month, the last month (or half month) of the project, with this kind of kooky craziness.

There is basically nothing radically changed from two weeks ago and it should be something that I’m used to, or about to be getting used to soon, so I’m not dreading going through all of it so much. The whole jumproping for fifteen minutes straight deal is definitely not going to be my cup of tea but I’ll get through that with wheezing and cursing, I’m sure.

Take a look at “Day 2”, though...go ahead, I’ll wait. Squatting jumpropes? Yeah, that is typed correctly and, really, it is just as it sounds. Basically, from a squatting position, the jumprope cinched up higher on your hands or wrapped around your hands a couple of times to shorten it up, you go about your normal jumproping movement. Only from a squatting position. Yeah. Pure craziness, I’ll tell you. If the days work out right then I’ll be enjoying those bad boys on Saturday. I’ll be sure and tell you all about them if I’ve fully recovered from what I’m sure will be a butt-kicking workout.

Whose butt? My butt.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 78, Like lightning

A speedy quick update for all of you because matters are pressing, and they’re pressing hard. We’re coming into the final days but that doesn’t mean that things are going to stop changing and stagnate, oh no, far from it. In fact, things are going to continue chugging right along.

Here’s this week’s diet plan update:

Breakfast, 170 g carbs, everything else the same.

Lunch, 130 g carbs, everything else the same.

Dinner, same.

So nothing too major. I am curious why the carb count seems to be the only thing that’s changing and fluctuating as the weeks progress. My understanding of carbs is probably still a bit like most people’s--a very Atkin’s diet kind of limited understanding.

I’m sure it’s all got to do with energy for the body and how it relates to our workout times and how best we can turn the food into energy so I’m not going to worry or obsess over it. No, I’ll just ride the continuous wave here and trust in the plan.

Have a nice day. I mean, as much as you can on a Thuuursday. Bleh.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 77, A weird find

So it was Monday night that I found myself at the farmer’s market about five minutes from my house shopping for the necessities, you know, protein powder, some project food, soy yogurt and these babies...



These were hanging out by the cash register, rows and rows of them of all kinds of different flavors like “Hot ‘n Spicy” and “Ginger” and the ubiquitous “Original”. I picked up the Ginger kind because it seemed interesting and exotic and I don’t get too many chances to taste anything classified as “ginger” very often.

I couldn’t walk out of there without getting myself the stuff and still be happy with myself. I mean, how could you live with yourself if you passed up on an opportunity like that? I know I couldn’t have so I bought them.

First of all they were pretty expensive for what they were. What they are are tiny strips of pressed soybeans in the form of beef jerky that look a little bit like this:



They ended up costing about $2.50 which seemed a bit much until I realized that I wasn’t just paying for the jerky (around 50 cents I’m sure) I was paying for the fancy plastic packaging and the colorful label on the front. I’m so not a fan of that particular aspect of shopping.

The texture is nothing like I remember beef jerky tasting like even if the stuff looks pretty dang similar (which, by the way, brings a question I’ve had in my mind for a while, if the whole point of vegetarianism and veganism is to get away from eating animal products then why are those companies making their foods look so very much like foods made from actual animals? Kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?). It ended up being just as chewy but not nearly as, um, stringy? I guess, and it didn’t take anywhere near as much effort to tear strips off of the bigger pieces.



The taste? Well, weirdly enough, and I don’t know if it was the ginger flavoring or if it was my odd taste receptors but the very first thing I thought of when I started chewing it around was...sunflower seeds. I have no idea why that came up first but it did, and strongly, too, so much so that I nearly tried to spit of the shell I thought was in my mouth onto the floor. Luckily I didn’t because I don’t need to clean up a gooey brown wad off of the floor. Beyond that, well, it’s hard to describe, it seemed smoky and what I guess ginger tastes like, but unfortunately the aftertaste is a big deterrent to actually buying anymore of the stuff from now on.

It was an interesting taste experience that I don’t think I’ll be taking again for quite a while. Oddly enough, though, my cat seems to love the stuff; I think she may be becoming a vegetarian herself, which could be bad for since she’s, well, a cat and they can’t groove like that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 76, Oh ho ho!

Well it seems that I forgot to mention on Sunday’s post some pain that I incurred on Saturday’s judo class. This came from the squats that we were made to do at the beginning of the class. Of course, these weren’t just any ordinary squats, either, but crazy, who-thought-of-that? kind of squats.

The squats we had to do were the kind where you and a partner stand back to back and hook your arms through the other persons so that you’re locked up next to each other. From there one person leans forward in their wide and, hopefully, stable stance until the other person is off of the ground, in the air, dangling from the other persons back. From that position the person still on the ground proceeds to squat down as low as they can without falling to their knees or onto their face and then stands back up again.

Fifty of these we had to do.

Now, why didn’t I mention this on Sundays post? Well, honestly, I didn’t notice any discomfort in my legs on Sunday. In fact, besides the whole slamming my knee into the ground pain I was riding on, my legs were feeling pretty okay. Okay, that is, until yesterday morning when I got back into my exercise routine.

The jumprope came first and if I wasn’t determined to get back into the swing of things I would have said, screw it, and laid back on the couch where my legs could rest and recover further. Like I planned earlier I only did about half of my normal jumprope workout routine but, man, was that enough to make me feel like my legs were turning to jelly and dying. It was almost funny and I found myself giggling whenever a sharp pain shot through my legs because it felt better than crying through the pain.

Work turned out to be an adventure as well. Working at a karate school demands a lot of standing and moving around as well as all of the physical activity that goes into teaching all of those kids. Physical activity including a lot of leg work. Luckily yesterday was light and I was able to take it easy on the kicks so there wasn’t much need to complain a whole lot yesterday.

Lesson learned: come late to judo so that I’ll conveniently miss the squats portion of the class because it doesn’t seem to be worth it. No sir, not at all.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 75, An admission

Well, maybe two.

First, though, why does today feel like another “milestone” day? Another twenty-five days done and over with. Sure I can think that I conquered them in a way, but beyond that then today is just today.

So the first of my two admissions:

I didn’t do any jumproping yesterday. I know. I know. It’s a really horrible thing to have neglected, I’m right there with you in your shock and awe at that revelation. There is an excuse for it, though, and I’m sure you have read it in yesterdays post. I was actually physically unable to do any of the jumroping without an unbearable amount of pain. So what kind of a dummy would I have been if I were to have gone through with my exercises like normal, pushed through the pain, and been left, I’m sure, lying on my back on the floor without any hope of getting up again without screaming wildly like I was being stabbed through the chest repeatedly?

No sense, in that. No sir.

So I’ll be climbing my way up the exercise hill again and taking it easy on the knee. Perhaps I’ll do only a few sets of three or four minute jumping rounds instead of the full eight minutes that I’m supposed to have been doing. I’m sure that’ll still average out to be about 1000 jumps and that isn’t too bad at all.

The second:

I haven’t been eating all of my meals during the day these last few days. It’s been a real challenge to do that and I don’t know why exactly. It’s a bit of a mystery even to me because there’s nothing that should be stopping me from doing something as easy as eating a bunch of vegetables. I think I had just gotten a little burnt out with the whole schedule and proportion of meals that I’ve been following pretty strictly for so long. It seems that I’ve been wanting to eat those meals on my own time and if I’m just so worn out from eating 250 grams of vegetables a day than screw it I’ll skip those vegetables the next day.

Bad thinking, I know. There’s a reason that I’m eating all of those vegetables at specific times during the day. That reason would be that if I didn’t then my body would switch over to fat storing instead of energy expenditure and then boom I’m back where I started before the project began. So I need to get out of this destructive frame of mind and back on the track set out for me. There’s only a few days left, I can make it to the end the way I’m supposed to.

Phew, that’s a load off. I think now I can resume back on the track I started on knowing that I’m not hiding anything else.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 74, Add one more notch to the injury list

Gah, it just keeps growing longer and longer, doesn’t it?

Yesterday was Saturday, you all know what that means, right? That is right, folks, yesterday was judo day, or the day when I get to injure myself and then complain about it to all of you the next day. Which is today! Count yourselves as some of the lucky ones, most people never get to hear this. (Well anyone within earshot usually does hear about it but they generally don’t really care enough to have it register).

Yesterdays class was a mighty interesting one--it started off as it normally does with all of the basic falls and rolls and then progressed onto a very fast-paced bout of something that I cannot recall the name of, something very Japanese, I’m sure. It was during this exercise that the first and worse of my few injuries took place. During one of these quick throws I had the misfortune to land first, with nearly all of my weight, on my left knee followed by the rest of my body. Now the whole goal of falling in the judo sense is to distribute the force impact on the ground over your entire body, whether it be landing on your side, your back, or your front you want to land flat and, oddly enough, slap the ground hard. Well, that didn’t happen in this case, on this particular throw (and by the head instructor, too, some kind of sadist, he has to be) which happened to be a hip throw where I was picked up and thrown over this persons hip, something went screwy with it all and I ended up driving my knee into the mat before the rest of my body.

To illustrate the throw, here’s a picture of something like it being done


Here’s another one


In this case I would have been the guy in blue, the one falling very rapidly and from a great height, to the floor.

So there was that. My knee has swollen up a bit and walking is painful but it shouldn’t last too long. I’m still young, right?

The other annoying injury is my neck which was full nelsoned into a tight bundle of dull neck pain. For those of you who don’t know this is what it looked like:



This was, again, done by the overenthusiastic head instructor and, man, was this one annoying. I could literally feel it pulling the muscles in my neck at the very same time as it was cutting off the flow of air into my throat. Let me tell you all this, if you ever have the chance to be suffocated while the back of your neck is stretched like taffy then, please, pass on it. It is so not fun.

Well, that was my yesterday. Here’s to hoping that todays exercises go well considering everything that’s been beaten up. Have a nice day and here’s to looking forward to next Saturday when I’m sure I’ll be going through a lot of this same exact stuff again.

:-)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 73, Blehch?

Can you guess what this is?:

-Dehydrated potatoes

-Modified food starch

-Sugar

-Corn oil

-Salt

-Soy lecithin

-Leavening (Monocalcium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate)

-Dextrose


Any ideas? Anybody?

Those, my dear friends, would be the entire ingredients list to Lay’s Original Naturally Baked Potato Crisps.



A couple of nights ago I was standing around in my kitchen later on into the night looking for something to do...well, to be honest, I was looking for a little bit of something to munch on because my stomach was growling pretty fiercely and I was worried that if I didn’t feed it something then it would begin to literally eat itself in a crazy, blind frenzy. I happened to look at the corner of the counter that usually is home to our various chip collection, a place that I haven’t much looked at in the past month and a half, and saw those babies. My interest was piqued and I tentatively took the bag out and unrolled it all the time looking over my shoulder in case someone should be watching my insidious indiscretion. The bag was nearly full and the chips inside looked out at me longingly. I slowly took out a chip, a pathetic, cracked little thing, and put it on my tongue. And then I bit down, and around and chewed and moved it around and swallowed.

It was immediately salty, almost unbearably so, and it shocked me. I had once eaten bowls full of these things? I had once thought that something like these were delicious and, because they were baked, not very bad for me at all? I had once looked forward to having these after a long week and would crash down on my couch and gladly inhale piece after piece?

Weird.

I had another one after that but that was all I could take. I gladly rolled the bag back up and stuffed the entire thing back into its corner, happy to be rid of the things. My mouth was in violent throes due to the saltiness. I might just as well have spooned salt into my mouth and gotten the very same effect, plus I wouldn’t have ingested all of those chemicals that keep those things alive and well and capable of living through a nuclear blast.

Cockroaches and potato chips--all that will be left in the fallout.

Let me have my dried fruits. Let me feast upon risotto and quinoa. Let me partake in fresh vegetables and all of the wild concoctions that can arise from having to eat those things. At least with all of those natural, tasty things I won’t be left with the ability to accurately describe what monocalcium phosphate tastes like. I have no need to be able to pick that stuff out of a lineup.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 72, Another resolution

So after yesterday’s post Patrick sent me a comment suggesting a change of pace. Jumproping has been a great new find in my daily life and I’m loving doing it everyday, honestly it’s become the very best part of my workout--challenging and tiring but fun and rewarding. I’m not sure if you reading this ever peruse my comments pages but I’ll go into it anyway.

It seems so very obvious to me now but at the time of reading it the suggestion seemed like such a revelation, like a blindfold was being pulled from in front of my eyes and I was suddenly able to see clearly what I’ve been keeping from myself. Patrick’s suggestion to me after my relating to all of you just how amazing and incrementally beneficial the jumprope has been was that I should...wanna take a guess?

Go running!

Laughably obvious, right? Not to me, apparently, since I haven’t been on a proper run since maybe March. I can’t begin to tell you why I haven’t considered going out to the park a few minutes away from my house and running a few miles around the track there. If I had to bet, though, it’s because I’ve let myself get locked into the daily schedule of jumproping and resistance band exercises that have been set out for me by Patrick and Chen and have so narrowed my focus on those things that I’ve neglected to realize what other things are out there for me to do.

So that would be my “Nearly At the End of the Project” resolution. I’m actually looking forward to going out for a run; it’s been so long--the last time being the fateful night when I must have sprained my ankle on a cement curb while trying to avoid running into somebody else on the dimly lit track. That wasn’t a fun night and I think it put me off the whole business of running for a long while, but now that my ankle is feeling very much recovered and I’ve developed this wonderful new endurance that I’ve literally never had before in my life the track and my running shoes are looking mighty tempting.

I can feel them calling out my name and I think I’m going to answer that call.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 71, Continually surprised

So every once in a while (read once in a blue moon’s blue moon) at the karate school we’ll go ahead and do something different and entertaining, of course, to be honest, anything other than a forms review is different and entertaining. Yesterday was one of those days.

During my class we broke off into partner groups and did focus bag drills, focus bags being the smaller handheld bags. These drills consisted of, from a fighting stance, throwing a forward and a reverse punch to the pads which are held up at about face level and then returning to the original fighting stance position. That was one drill. The other one we did was done from, again, a fighting stance except that this time the bag holders stood facing to the side with both bags held up in front of them, one on top of the other, and the other person burst through the bags throwing out a backfist to bag at head level and a reverse punch to the bag held at stomach level.

I’ve always enjoyed this particular exercise one, because we do it so rarely that it hasn’t lost any of its enjoyability and luster and two, because it is a mighty fine cardio workout. Whenever we get the chance to do it I am secretly smiling inside because it’s rather fun.

I noticed something today doing the exercise that had never before occurred whenever we did this particular exercise in the past, today doing the exercise I wasn’t literally dripping sweat off of me by the end of it. I wasn’t wheezing and clutching at my knees to keep myself from collapsing in an embarrassingly out of shape wet pile.

What was the deal? Well, of course it was the project, but more specifically I would have to say that it was all of the massive amounts of jumproping that I’ve done these last two and a half months. I blame the jumprope and at the same time I praise its wonderfulness. Without dedicating myself to doing upwards of 2000 jumps a day then I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near what I was able to do in class today.

I was already aware of the benefits of the jumprope but now, especially now since I haven’t really worked out very hard in class lately (I have no idea why really), it is just so abundantly clear that the jumprope is mightily effective and not something that I want to give up readily anytime within the next, oh, sixty years. Or however long until I finally keel over and croak.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 70, Some kind of food related post

I tend to go through cycles of food obsession where one particular food or type of food is close to all I eat--papaya spears is one of them, before the project Pop-Tarts were a breakfast staple that I wouldn’t quit for anything in the world (except for this project, apparently), and those Gardenburger BBQ Riblets were my Achilles heel. Lately, though, I’ve happened upon something that may in the end replace all of those as something I obsess over and something that I eat more than once a week. What is this mystery food, you ask? Well, thanks to Alton Brown of Good Eats fame, I have recently become addicted to

Risotto



Now you may be asking what business I have eating risotto when the tradition is (that I’ve heard anyway) to sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top. Now I realize that vegan me wouldn’t go in for something like that so risotto would seem like it would be out but the funny thing about parmesan cheese is that it is easily left out of the whole concoction.

Now I realize risotto isn’t anything exotic or new but if you’re like me then you probably haven’t had much of an exposure to this wonder dish and therefore believe that most other people haven’t either. I’m sticking with that assumption here.

Risotto is unique in that while it is a rice dish it is prepared using a medium grain aroborio or carnoroli or vialone nano rice (I use arborio since it’s easier to find around here) instead of the more commonly used long or short grain white rice. It is also pretty freaking cool that while cooking that particular type of rice the grains produce their own creamy, rich sauce. Yes, you heard me right, this rice self-sauces. Very awesome.

The typical way to cook this stuff is to first coat the rice grains, about a cups worth, in olive oil or butter (I tend to use very little of that stuff since a lot really isn’t necessary) and then boiling water or stock (I use water with a boiled vegetable bullion cube in it), about a cupful at a time, and stirring pretty much constantly until all of the vegetable water is absorbed into the rice. Five cups of the vegetable bullion water tends to produce a very creamy rice texture in the end but it all depends on how creamy you want your rice to be.

It’s really as simple as that. It takes a bit of time because the vegetable water needs to absorb into the rice one cup at a time but by the end of it...BAM!



You have one mighty tasty serving of carbs for lunch or dinner. If you like then I hear grating some parmesan cheese over the stuff makes it even tastier. Add in some more exotic treats, spoon in some mushrooms, chop up some greens and mix those in. Have fun with it and I hope you enjoy eating it as much as I have been lately.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 69, Another find

Finding vegan food at the local supermarket has always been a challenge, heck finding vegetarian food at the store has always been a difficulty but vegan food is difficult in and of itself. Most organizations still don’t know enough about it to offer anything remotely close to eatable food that looking just isn’t worth the hassle most of the time and I’m left with making my own meals from rice and vegetables (which certainly isn’t a bad thing but sometimes my day has been a long one and I just want to pop something in the microwave).

Every once in a while something slips through and I happen upon something tasty, quick, and, in a healthy body sense, none too bad for me. Last week was such an event. Lately, with the project nearing its end I’ve been doing what I can to make sure that I’m not taking in too much stuff prepackaged in an eye-catching technicolor box but I’ll make some exceptions every once in a while. Like these:



Chungs Gourmet Quality All Natural Vegetable Spring Rolls

(phew, what a lot of adjectives)

I found these this last week, like I said, and I was happy to learn that they are vegan. Vegan grocery store spring rolls! Crazy, isn’t it? And they’re pretty tasty as well, which is always a plus. I will say, though, that they tend to be on the greasy side but that’s nothing that dabbing with a paper towel can’t fix.

So that’s a wonderful little once in a while surprise that I think I may indulge in today...just one or two.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 68, You'd think I'd learn

Welp now, Friday was an okay day, nothing to get too excited about but certainly nothing to get all disappointed or mopey about. I mean I did see The Dark Knight that, um, night so that was a plus. Apparently, though, in my haste to get through the day and to the evening where I would spend a few wonderful hours watching a wonderful movie I neglected to stretch for karate like I really should have done.

Now as far as I can remember I stretched the same way I normally do, I didn’t diverge from my routine there and I was feeling good during class and into the night, so I was feeling fine and pretty upbeat, for the most part. Then Saturday came along and my morning exercises made their way into my world and things became apparent very quickly that all was not cool down in my legs muscle-wise. It was so very odd that I honestly didn’t think much of it, I mean I had stretched the same as I always have so what could possibly be the problem?

I still haven’t figured it out entirely, was it the way I was sparring Friday night? Standing in line for over an hour doing nothing but fidgeting and trying not to bump into the guy in front of me or the group of girls talking about their dream weddings behind me (and is it bad if the first thing I notice about them is that they’re all overweight? What a weird side-effect of the project, I never thought it would make me judgmental like that...that’ll have to stop)? Could it have been the jumproping from earlier that day? I don’t know but what is infinitely clear to me now is that my right calf is killing me.

Yes yes, a calf ache again. I’m just as tired writing about those as I’m sure you are of reading about them but that’s what’s on the forefront of my mind right now, as all aches and pains are sure to be, so I thought I would write about it and have something to post today. Call this “filler”, I suppose, as I try to think of more substantial things to discuss.

Both Saturday and Sunday were exercises in not buckling over as I walked, luckily it was the weekend and I didn’t have any pressing appointments or things that I absolutely had to get done so it turned into a couple days of healing for me. I hope that I’ll be back to my normal self by either today or tomorrow’s exercises, all I can say is that those floor jumps are mighty interesting (never having had to do them before) and the calf aches will only add an extra bit of hilarity to them, imagine me hobbling along trying to get some distance, cursing all the while in volumes that I’m sure can be heard in the next city.

So that’s how my weekend’s been--nothing horrible, just annoyingly painful and kind of uneventful. Nothing bad, don’t get me wrong, just interesting. I hope yours went well.

25 days until the project is over.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 67, Wanna guess...

What I’ll be having for dinner tonight?

Well, it took me forever but it finally happened, yes yes, the day has come and now you can rejoice along with me because I have finally found (and at a store I shop at all the time, no less)...

Vegan Won Ton Wrappers

Whoo!



So I’m pretty excited about that and the prospect of making something that I have eaten before but have never had the chance to make myself because of the won ton/dumpling/egg roll wrappers that I’ve seen until now always had egg or some such thing in them, but not these babies.



I’m thinking of trying out this recipe, sans egg (and maybe some other things that I can’t find at the grocery store), that I found on the Food Network site. It’s from Alton Brown’s Good Eats show (awesome show, by the way):

Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings

1/2 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bowl of water, plus additional water for steamer
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
Non-stick vegetable spray, for the steamer

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Cut the tofu in half horizontally and lay between layers of paper towels. Place on a plate, top with another plate, and place a weight on top (a 14-ounce can of vegetables works well). Let stand 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.

To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.

Using a steaming apparatus of your choice, bring 1/4 to 1/2-inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Spray the steamer's surface lightly with the non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit into a steamer, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes over medium heat. Remove the dumplings from the steamer to a heatproof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.


Wish me luck with that and if you have any other won ton wrapper recipes or tips on cooking them then definitely feel free to send them over.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 66, I hardly knew ya...

...“Day 3”, you came and went so fast but now it’s time to go, apparently. Our honeymoon was so short and now here we are but vague memories of each other, left to say, “Farewell”.

:-)

My new exercise plan with, as you can tell already, the absence of my beloved “Day 3” workout:

Day 1

Jumprope: 2 sets x 8 mins.

Chest Dip: 8 sets x 10reps

Push Up: 3 sets x failure

Rear Chest Fly: 4 sets x 30 reps

One Arm Bicep Curl: 6 sets x 20reps (last set to failure)

Outer Biceps Curl: 5 sets x 20 reps (last set to failure)

V-sits: 4 x failure

Day 2

Jumprope: 2 sets x 8 mins.

Floorjumps: 4 sets x 10 jumps

Chin-ups: 8 sets x 8 reps

Lawnmowers: 6 sets x 20 (last set to failure)

Triceps Dip: 4 sets x failure

Triceps Extensions: 4 reps x 25reps

Standing Shoulder Fly: 5 sets x 25 reps

Forward Shoulder Raise: 5 sets x 25 reps

V-sits: 4 x failure

My Day 1 is essentially the same as it always has been except that now all of the exercises, save for the chest dips, are to be done until muscle failure which is a good thing since the chest dips have always been difficult for me and I have a feeling that if I tried to do those until failure then I might end up hurting myself.

Day 2 is where it gets a little bit different, well, not by much. The only difference there is the inclusion of floor jumps which I have not had to do before until now. I suppose I’m kind of looking forward to making myself look silly by jumping all around the house like some kind of kangaroo. It’ll be nice though since it’ll be the first time that I’ve gotten to do some leg exercises in well over a month. I said before, I believe, that I was missing those a little bit and now, bam, there those are.

Time to get going now and exercising. Have a nice day.

(Oh and this has nothing to do with the project but if you haven’t had a chance to see The Dark Knight yet then you should make your only goal today to see that film. It was beyond gloriousness)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 65, A little cooling down

My my wasn’t I a little heated with yesterdays post? Eh, fiery spirits will only put out harsh words that may have been a little unnecessary at the time. Of course I stick by all of it and my confusion concerning the way things were done there hasn’t lessened at all. It still seems like some enormous bit of craziness that wasn’t necessary at all but whatever, I’ve received some nice information and comments from some people that I think will make things better for me.

I didn’t post it yesterday so I’ll do it today. Another minor diet update:

Breakfast

150 g carbs
150 g veg.
100 g fruit

Morning Snack

80 g fruit
1 spoon protein powder

Lunch

150 g carbs
250 g veg
1 spoon protein powder

Afternoon Snack

100 g fruit

Dinner

50 g carbs
200 g veg

Evening Snack

2 bananas
1 spoon protein powder

No huge major changes here. My dinner carbs continue their downward slide into near nothingness. 50 carbs, you’ve got to be kidding, right? I certainly do wish it were so in some ways. Actually what I really wish would happen is that I’d be able to split some of my lunch carbs off and transfer those to dinnertime because it’s getting harder and harder to finish lunch these days. I don’t think it’s because I can’t stomach vegetables anymore, I’m still enjoying the taste of them for the most part, no I think it’s just due to the fact that my stomach has become smaller than it ever has and the massive amounts of food at lunch has put a bit of stress on it.

I’ll definitely push through though because, well, we’re so close to being at the end of three months and there wouldn’t be any point in letting the project beat me now. Heck, going through so much of the project has given me the strength and confidence to complete the project. So the project is going to kick the projects butt for me.

Weird how that works, isn’t it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 64, The confidence is rising

So yesterday afternoon left me in a bit of a funk. Like I told you all with Wednesday’s post I was going out to apply for a new job and I did during the early afternoon, around one or so. I got there at the store and went up to their customer service desk to see if I could talk to the person in charge of hiring on new employees. Right then, so early on in this process, things went in a completely different direction than the one I had imagined they would in my head.

I’m sure that this isn’t the case but their answer seemed to me to be a brick wall that shot up right in front of me as I was running toward my goal. Their response was that they didn’t have a dedicated person that handles that particular kind of thing, no instead every so often they do a group interview with potential applicants to decide who they want to hire. I wasn’t aware of this seeing as how nothing I’ve seen at the store or online at their site gave any indication that this was how they did things. Things began to crumble away and my good feelings and bright outlook on the day immediately took a turn. What was I to do? It seemed like I had no option other than to leave them with my application and hope that it got into the hands of someone high up there where it would wow him/her enough that they would call me up regardless of how they, apparently, generally did things there.

I walked out of the place feeling pretty low and despondent. Suddenly it seemed that things would forever remain stagnant and I would be stuck working at a job forever that I didn’t want to do any longer. Of course, there are always other places to work at but this place was somewhere that I could have enjoyed working at and gotten a sense of fulfillment from. There are other places but, and I ask you this very seriously, what the hell is the point of working someplace if you can’t feel good about the work you’re doing and about yourself while you work there. I’m going to be so bold as to say that there is entirely no purpose in doing something like that. Frankly, to me, it would be a waste of ones life, and they’re already so short anyway (like I’m old enough to actually realize that :-) so why do it?

I got home after a quick bit of shopping around (those would be tickets to see The Dark Knight, baby!) and settled in to take of some other things. The mood that I was in was a dangerous one to be in. Bad things could have happened to my progress with the project. Normally I don’t see myself as someone who eats when they’re in low spirits but at that point that was what i was about to turn to. My head wasn’t clear and my mouth and fingers were developing minds of their own, completely separate from the one inside my skull. Food seemed like the place to turn to to ease my dispirited self and I was more than ready to give in to those mindless urges.

But then the progress from these last months kicked in. My hands stopped their idle wanderings and my mouth stopped salivating in anticipation of sweet “pick-me-up” indulgences. I regained control of myself and stopped me from giving in and going overboard with the fruit that I was craving but shouldn’t have eaten at that time. Yes, yes, it was only a bit of fruit but that’s not the point of this at all, the point is is that I could have slipped into some pretty nasty pre-project behavior that could have set me back a ways but I didn’t.

It seems that I have grown the confidence and control to say “no”. One of the simplest and, at the same time, most difficult and complicated things to do. Boy, was it worth it. I’m sitting here now thinking back on it and I sure am proud of myself, even now so far into the project I am still amazed that I’m able to do something that at first glance seems like it would be the easiest thing to do. Congrats to me.

This all brings to mind a quote that I may have mentioned way back but one that I’ll repeat here:

“Do you know that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing? Nothing that has meaning is easy. ‘Easy’ doesn’t enter into grown-up life.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 63, The shortest yet?

This one will have to be a very quick one, I’m afraid, because my day is very quickly filling up to the very brim with stuff for me to do and try to accomplish.

First up is the workout. Yesterday was my “Day 3” workout meaning that it was just the jumprope, and now that today is back to “Day 1” I can certainly say that I wish it were “Day 3” again. I can get that kind of a workout done so much quicker leaving me with much more time to do all sorts of things during the rest of the day. Oh well, though, having these days spread out and rotating through like this makes me appreciate the jumprope days even more. They taste so sweet when they get here and, much like Christmas day, they’re gone in the blink of an eye.

I’ll be going to apply for a new job so wish me luck with endeavor. We’ll see how that one goes since it’s been about four years since I’ve been in the position that I’ll be in today. The weird thing with this is that in our yesterdays edition of our daily e-mails Patrick went into this book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (which he says is worth the read) which goes into the whole maxim which says that “you only get one chance to make a first impression” on the same day that I’m going into a potential new work place where I’m going to have a prime opportunity to make a good impression on someone.

I’m looking forward to how it’ll turn out. I’ll have to dial up the charm and win them over. Man, this wooing people is tough work. I think all of my progress with the project and the confidence it has instilled in me will only help my chances.

I’ve got to get to exercising so I’ll sign off now. I hope everybody has as wonderful a day as I’m sure to have (especially since I also have today off of work at the karate school which is always a nice break for me).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 62, Worthy of the title "Doctor"

Me, that is. And, yes, normally I don’t like to toot my own horn but I think that in this case it is entirely justified and would, in fact, be a crime against humanity and the greater science community if this particular revelation of mine were kept secret and away from those public eyes out there so desperate to learn just what exactly the cause of this unexplainable phenomenon is.

First, the unexplainable phenomenon, spontaneous human combustion. I think I’ve hit upon the true cause of this heretofore confounding occurrence that has stumped many for an explanation and has left families of the victims scratching their heads in curiosity.

For those who don’t know, spontaneous human combustion is when the body suddenly and without warning or reason ignites into flame or spurts flame from a centralized location somewhere on the body. There have been accounts of this happening in real life and I think I know the culprit:

Glucose

You see, a funny thing happens to your body after a sustained, intense exertion/workout our bodies skip the direct fat burning stage that our bodies go to during a light workout and straight to the emergency glucose, or sugar, stores around our body. Now after a workout our bodies need to replenish those stores of sugar so it turns to fat which it turns into sugar. Now for fat to be turned into glucose it needs to be broken down which requires energy that is lost as heat. The burning, hard to cool down feeling one gets after a heavy workout is in actuality our bodies turning fat into glucose.

I think that’s one of the cooler things I’ve read all week so far. I find I’m becoming more and more interested in the physical work of our bodies and our bodies themselves and this bit of information from Patrick has certainly whetted my appetite for more. Of course I blame it on the project, I’ve found that it a wonderful side effect to worrying more about what you do with your body, you pay attention to stuff that you might have found boring at an earlier time in your life and then start to search out more of that wonderful new stuff.

So, as to what I said earlier, and in response to my claim of finding out what exactly causes spontaneous human combustion, I believe that it is no real mystery, I believe that all of the people who have experienced it were simply in the throes of a really, really intense workout. Their bodies had to replenish their glucose inside of their bodies and those bodies just kicked into such an overdrive that, well, FOOM!

Ashes...

And, yes, everybody I will retake those pictures from yesterday either today or tomorrow (sometime in the near future at least) for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 61, A crusade

So yesterday was Sunday over in these parts which means that it was also one of my days off (and now, ugh, it’s the start of another week, stinkin weekends never last as long as they should). With nothing to do all day it became a perfect time to go and shop, for clothes that is. So I hopped on over to Target on a quest for new pants and shorts, well, mainly shorts since it’s still around 95 degrees here in southern California, and that is totally unnecessary.

I’ve never really enjoyed clothes shopping and for the most part I will do whatever I can to avoid it and find something less painful to occupy my time with like, you know, eating glass and affixing leeches to my groin.

This particular visit won’t exactly go down in the history books as the least painful clothes shopping experience ever but it certainly wasn’t the most painful and horrifying, either. I had good company and I was able to actually find some things that I can picture myself enjoying while wearing. All in all it was an okay Sunday made better by the fact that I can now rock the socks off of many more people in clothes like these shorts (sorry about them being so blurry but that's what I get for using Photo Booth in such a hurry):

Some dark green, hard to see ones


And some nice plaid ones


Also bought yesterday were some shirts that caught my eye. I've been noticing how well my shirts have been fitting me lately, like they were tailored specifically for me, it's a very nice feeling. I would have kicked myself later on if I hadn’t bought these because my wardrobe was in desperate need of sprucing up (I can only get away with wearing plain white and black shirts for so long). Plus, well, they were fancy and the fabric is oh so nice to the touch:

A tannish, multi-image thing


My favorite, with birds flying out of the sun


This blue shirt with a sitting Buddha on it and, for some reason, a tiger embroidered on the left hip


I hope your Monday goes well. Have a good mood.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 60, One month left!

Whoo-hoo, peoples!

And I never would have thought that I would make it to this point in the project--honestly I thought that after a month or so of it then I would have called it quits because of how hard it was--but no! here I am and there Corry and David are rocking this thing, saying that it will not defeat us, that we will prevail, we will charge ahead and become something better than ourselves. And we are, and we will.

Hmm, certainly not Mel Gibson in Braveheart but that’ll do nicely I think. Whatever it takes to give me that extra boost of energy and confidence for today and the next days of the week and month.

So I’ve been continuing on my downward slump of a mood here with all of this food business and I’ve yet to really pinpoint what exactly the cause of this funk is. At first I thought it was the tedium of my daily breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that was putting me in this mood and I still think that that may be a part of the problem--I’ve been finding myself missing some of the pre-project foods every now and then (and at weird, inexplicable time, too). There’s quite a lot you can do with vegetables and a little bit of elbow grease (or olive oil...olive oil tastes better than elbow grease) and I’m certainly willing to try anything once, especially when it’s the recipes Corry’s been giving me...yum, but those strong cravings for the boxed items in the freezer section can sneak up on ya and make you think bad things.

Curse them all, I’ll say now. CURSE THEM! ...Would it be too pessimistic or cynical to make that my mantra?

But now, ah a light up ahead, I think that I’m coming out of it with the realization (now? It’s only coming now) that all of this downtrodden gloominess about all of the food is all totally mental and that I don’t have to give in to those feelings of blahness about the food. Those pesky feelings do not control me, I control them, right? Right. Said and done, period.

So it’s going to be the start of a new week. Who here is excited? I know I am, and not just because the sharp, breath-catching pain I get whenever I walk is gone. Blame that one on the judo class. Whoever thought that being thrown over someone’s hip and back and landing on, oh, a half inch of very old padding would be painful? And why do I keep going to the class if I’m complaining about it every week? Maybe it’s the impact of the falls scrambling my brains inside my head and making me think every week that it’ll be different. That could be it, or, and I think that this is the reason, I do enjoy it despite all of its agonizing pain, and if that makes me a masochist then so be it.

Also, it’ll mean that we’re one step closer to August 15th. Now I’m not necessarily counting down the days until the end of the project, I’m trying to enjoy the journey here, but I’m planning a lot of changes in my life by that day, one of them being (and I’m most excited about this one) finding a new job, because I am so overdo for that that it’s not even funny. Celebrate with me.

I wonder what wonders will be in store for all of us this coming week. Let’s go and find out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 59, Some kind of cresty-troughy thing

Let me give you a picture to mull over:



or if you want something prettier to look at, here's this:



As, I hope, you all are aware of waves are characterized by their crests (highs) and troughs (lows). They go up and down and are able to be seen clearly as ripples on the surface of a lake (or pond or river or whatever) or as the reason why surfing exists in the ocean. They are also indicative of life itself to a degree, clearly mirroring the ups and downs of day to day life as things get better and then get worse and then better and then down and up, etc. etc.

Lately, I’ve been riding a pretty high crest during my day to day life on this project and I’ve been happy and thankful for it and for my body that’s been gracious enough to keep me up and smiling at that peak. It’s lasted longer than I could ever have imagined it would and, frankly, I’m really surprised that it lasted as long as it did since those kinds of crests in my life rarely last that long.

I’ve been noticing lately that my daily meals are becoming a cursed chore that I’m forcing myself to get through every day. I’m not sure why that it is and why it suddenly, very suddenly, decided to become a trudge through the mud since for the most part the meals have been one of my favorite parts of the day. I was even okay with the mountain of vegetables (that lunchtime vegetable portion is quite literally enough for two people to dine on comfortably) I was eating three times a day but now I find myself skimping on meals, cutting short some grams at lunch and, horror of horrors, not even eating my dinner allotment. I find myself not looking forward to these meals anymore.

The exercises have always been difficult to get through so I’m not too upset about that (although 200 freaking v-sits a day seems a bit much, ya know? :-). I’m putting this down as just one of those trough things and not something that I should worry myself over too much but at the same time, well, there’s still a little over a month left and, man, I so do not want to go through another few days like I had in my first few weeks. Anything but that, please.

Of course, I’m confident that I’ll make it through unscathed because when I set my mind to something, even if I’m setting my mind against itself (because that’s what this trough is all about--I’m fighting against myself), then I can make it through. I’m confident in my determination to see something through to the very end, especially if it’s something like the PCP. But I will tell you that any encouragement will certainly help here. And I've got a great base of support here with Patrick, Corry, and David and I would have to kick myself in the butt if I didn't thank all of you readers and commenters out there who make this a heck of a lot easier than it would be without you guys. So tell me to get off my butt and stop whining, or something. I know, tell me how all of those world champion eaters get through eighty hot dogs in five minutes without puking it all up, hopefully that’ll make it easier to stomach all of the food I’m eating. Don’t indulge in the telling too much though because I would like to be able to keep all of those vegetables down.