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.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 58, Dread!

As in “Holy dread, Batman! What’s happening to us now?”

Well, if all goes well then I will be building insane, heretofore incredible masses of muscle that I never would have dreamed about in the past or, heck, even a million years. Yes, a million years.

So Yesterday was exercise update day so you know what that means...nothing much has changed. At least not on the surface of things. I will still be going along with the Day 1/Day 2/Day 3 workout plan that I have been doing for the last few weeks:

Day 1

Continuous Jumprope (5 x 3 mins)

Chest Dips (6 x 8)

Push Ups (6 x 20) 

Rear Chest Flys (6 x 20)

Biceps Curls (6 x 20)

Outer Biceps Curls (5 x 20)

Standing Shoulder Fly (5 x 20)

V-sits (5 x 50)

Half Plank (4 x 45secs)

Day 2

Continuous Jumprope (5 x 3 mins)

Chin-ups (6 x 6)

Rowing (6 x 15)

Lawnmowers (5 x 15)

Bench Dips (5 x 10)

Small Base Pushups (5 x 15)

Triceps Extensions (5 x 15)

Forward Shoulder Raises (4 x 15)

Sideways Crunches (4 x 15)

Leg-ups (4 x 15)

Day 3

Continuous Jumprope (5 x 3 mins)

Rest

There will be one huge, major, gigantic difference now that I alluded to earlier. What’s that difference, I hear you all asking? Well, the difference is that now instead of doing a specific number of sets with a specific number of reps I’ll be doing those same amounts of sets until muscle failure.

Now muscle failure is that point in any of these exercises where my body, the specific muscles that I’m working absolutely cannot do anything. It’s the point where my muscles are screaming and quivering and dying and begging me to stop. Why would I put myself through something as horrendous as that? Well, I’m doing that because that’s when the muscles are really being torn and worked to the max and consequently it’s the point when those same muscles will end up, after they’ve repaired themselves, with the biggest muscle gains.

So all that pain I’ll be putting myself through will be rewarded with strong, flexible muscles the likes of which my body has never known. I don’t know if it’s a trade off that many would be willing to take but I for one am actually kind of looking forward to my workouts today and the following week (we’ll see if I’ll be saying the same thing later on...), I tend to, once I get to a certain point, revel in that pain, it lets me know that I’m really pushing myself and it makes my body feel alive and energized.

So that’s what my next week and probably more will be looking like. Wish us all luck with these things now because we’re going to need it to get us through tho the end of the project. Have a nice day and a wonderful start of your weekend.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 57, Curiouser and curiouser

I hit upon a realization yesterday at about maybe 5:30, right in the middle of helping out a class at work, that these vegetables, for the first time since starting the project are really starting to wear on me. It was an odd realization since, for the most part, the vegetables had always been a part of the day that I looked forward to. I mean, they’re a hell of a lot more enjoyable than all of the massive amounts of exercising I have to do every day so I don’t know exactly what brought this on.

Well, I may have an inkling of an idea. I think that I’ll be blaming this weird occurrence on the recent indulgence day I treated myself to. Eating those foods of old reminded me of a time when 250 grams of vegetables was an unthinkable amount of the green and leafies to be stuffing into my body day in and day out (heck 250 grams of anything is an almost unthinkable amount of food). Of course that odd to say since before the project I was probably taking in close to that amount of sodium packed, carbohydrate laden, calorie bombs without so much as a second thought.

So what of this rift in the force of the PCP? Well, I think the indulgence day did something for me (ah, one more thing that it’s good for, the wonders never cease), it cleared up the lazy fog I’ve been wandering around in these last few days. I can’t pinpoint exactly the last time that I had vegetables that weren’t the ones that spring to mind readily when you think of vegetables: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, corn.

I think I’ve hit upon it there, I’ve driven myself into a deep rut of sameness that the vegetables that once were fairly bright and new are now dulled and grey, a chore to eat and certainly not a joy to cook all the time. Instead of branching out and trying new stuff, expanding my food horizons and discovering new oral wonders I’ve sunk into an old habit of relying on the same food to get me through my days and weeks.

And that’s not what the PCP’s all about, people, no, not at all. So what’s to be done about it? Well, the obvious of course, and in that I’ll ask for your help first, what can you, my loyal readers, suggest that I try as a way to break out of this rut I’ve dug for myself. What different and exotic vegetables are out there that I’ve yet to try and are just waiting to be devoured by me in a fit of curiosity and wonder?

Any suggestions would be perfect.

Also, a quick diet update: nothing much has changed except that now, instead of 100 grams of carbs at breakfast I can now have 150 grams. Maybe I can use full size burrito tortillas instead of the dinky soft taco sized ones for a morning breakfast burrito if I so choose. Huzzah!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 56, Koos-koos

I remember a day, a several years ago when me and a friend of mine that I don’t see anymore were out and around at night with absolutely nothing to, and I mean really nothing to do, like we were literally just wasting gas driving around town. We ended up eventually back at his work, a local barbeque eatery, and met up with someone that he either knew from somewhere or worked with (I’m still not sure which). After spending time playing pool and doing nothing much we ended up back at this other guys home nearby (and about five minutes from my house, luckily) to play pool on his own pool table (I promptly sucked up the entire game) and hang out and watch t.v. because, well, what else are you going to do at one in the morning? We all ended getting fairly hungry, enough so that the guy treated us all to this, so he said, Indian food consisting of stuff that I can’t rightly remember but can recall as being very meaty and bready. The one thing that I do positively remember eating, because one of us asked him about it, was what I’m going to talk about today. (And then I had to drive my friend home because he had been drinking quite a bit and could hardly walk straight and was spouting various nonsensical gobbledigook...sometimes being the permanent designated driver of the group does have its drawbacks).

That food being, if you haven’t already figured it out from my phonetically worded title:

Couscous!



Yes, folks, couscous, the food so nice they named it twice. The food so carbohydrate loaded that you could choke a yak with the stuff, or some such thing. The food so versatile that it’s almost like the rice of the Maghreb (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maghreb). Tasty and filling, it’ll puff up in your stomach and leave you content to sit around basking in the glow of post-couscous stuffing euphoric happiness.

Couscous itself is made by sprinkling semolina with water and then rolling the wheat to form small pellets, sprinkled with dry flour to keep the pellets separate, and then put through a sieve. Those pellets which are too small fall through the sieve and are put through the very labor intensive process of being sprinkled with semolina and rolled with flour. Couscous was traditionally made from the hard part of the hard durum wheat that resisted the millstone grinding. Now the process is largely mechanized.



One of the very first written references to couscous is from an anonymous 13th century Hispano-Muslim cookery book called, in translated English, “The book of cooking in the Maghreb and Al Andalus” that boasted a recipe for couscous “known all around the world”. Whether it was or not, I don’t know, but I certainly am glad that the knowledge was passed down from those humble origins through Granada, through a Syrian historian from Aleppo in the 13th century, through Provence and Brittany in Europe in the 17th century, and etc. The process of cooking couscous, steaming the couscous over a broth in a special pot, may have originated in West Africa in the 10th century in the area now made up of Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.

To cook couscous is surprisingly simple, requiring only a quick blanch in boiling water if you’re cooking pre-steamed couscous which can be found in most places in Western supermarkets. All that needs to be done is to boil a pot of water, the measurements being about a cup and a quarter water for every cup of couscous, stir the couscous in quickly, remove from the heat, and let stand for about five minutes. BAM! Done. Season it or combine it with something else as you want. And then, voila! light, fluffy couscous awaiting your eager consumption. It’s easy enough that an untrained monkey could do it, which must be why it turns out so well for me.



I hope this all helps you and I desperately hope that you’ll go out and find some couscous the next time you’re out visiting the ol’ local supermarket or farmers market. It’s tasty and light, fifty grams of the stuff will end up looking like an entire meal in itself, and, man, is it filling.

Have fun with it, people, and start looking for crazy, exotic things that you may not have ever tried before because it is totally worth the risk. T.V. dinners and spaghetti and tomato sauce get old quickly, why not try something new?

For those who are interested in something tasty I found this while looking around (I personally would get rid of the garbanzo beans but that’s just my allergies talking, looks delicious):

Vegetable Couscous Stew
Recipe courtesy Kathleen Daelemans

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
Coarse grained salt and cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 yellow squash, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 pound mushrooms, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tomatoes, peeled and diced, or 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 (19-ounce) can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh basil
2 cups couscous, prepared according to package instructions
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes and drained

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add thyme, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes.
Add garlic and stir.
Add tomatoes, stock, and garbanzo beans. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add more stock if dry.
Add 1/4 cup parsley, red wine vinegar, and basil. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Add the raisins and remaining parsley to the prepared couscous, and stir to combine.
Plate couscous and spoon stew over the top.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 55, Further proof

That while indulging in the off limits stuff of life can be fun that it certainly isn’t something that I really want to do anymore. Yesterday was my second indulgence day and I’ll tell you right off that it was one of the more anticlimactic things that I’ve ever experienced.

This time I decided to go with my first choice and instinct and revisit an old favorite of mine from before the beginning of the project, Tofutti Cuties and chocolate Silk. In my recollection the Cuties, these mini sized vegan ice cream sandwiches were the stuff dreams are made of: sweet, rich, cool, just the right amount of chocolate covering a thick block of soft, creamy ice cream and the chocolate Silk, well, I remember living on the stuff for days at a time. So that’s what I binged on, two Tofutti Cuties and a couple of small glasses of the Silk.



The Tofutti Cuties

Right off the bat I can tell that something is definitely not right going on in my mouth and on my tongue. Something is different. And then I know what it is, gone is the blind stuffing of food into my mouth and is replaced with knowledge. Scary knowledge. It is apparent to me that what I’m eating is no longer a vanilla ice cream block sandwiched between two layers of chocolate.



No, what I’m now stuffing into my mouth is an amalgam of chemicals and strange and artificial ingredients, many of whose names I will never have any hopes of being able to pronounce. It is not how I remember them tasting. Certainly they are sweet but now they are almost too sweet and after the first one the intensity of the vanilla ice cream mixed with the layers of chocolate I couldn’t imagine eating another one, but I did for the sake of science, yes, science.

The Chocolate Silk

Nothing special here. For the most part it is exactly how I remember it, it has that distinctly Silky taste mixed with a hint of chocolate.



But, again, something was odd. Something was off and like with the Cuties it took me a while to figure out what it was, and then it hit me: it wasn’t as intense as I remember, in fact it was almost bland and tasteless. That didn’t make any sense to me at all since these indulgence days tend to make noticeable how intensely chemically flavor packed everything I used to eat is. But the Silk was different, it wasn’t as intense as I could have sworn it used to be. It just goes to prove that a whole lot of this project, especially these indulgence days, is mental and not just physical, which is what it would appear to be at first glance.

The Effects

There was an almost immediate discomfort when I tried to stand up and walk around and I didn’t think until after I had eaten all of that stuff that I probably shouldn’t have done this before I went off for a full day of work where I would have to stand and move around teaching multitudes of children for six hours. I became much more intensely full after eating that stuff than I get after eating a regular PCP meal which only added to the overall feeling of discomfort. If there was a sugar rush then I hardly felt it and it certainly wasn’t as intense as after my last indulgence day which was quite a relief since that last one made me fear for my life. Luckily there wasn’t much of a crash but I did wish that I hadn’t forgotten to bring my dinner to work to eat and regain my normal feeling of alertness and regular, sustainable energy. Live and learn, eh?

All of this proved to me, once again, that I don’t need these foods to have a normal, healthy diet and day. Whereas at one point I couldn’t imagine going a single day without all of this stuff now I couldn’t wait for it to pass through me so that I could get back to my newly normal self. It’s ingraining new habits into me even as I’m indulging in my old ones and, like I’ve said before, those habits are what’s really important to me now and the best thing I could ever hope to get out of the project.

Have a wonderful day, kind ladies and sirs.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 54, Mighty surprising

And a little bit annoying.

Over the last few days of this weekend I’ve been doing a lot more walking around than I usually do because a friend of mine was back in town after having spent over a month away. Of course I’m not about to say that that’s a bad thing, it certainly isn’t by any means and really I should be doing more of it, but it’s not a normal thing for me (or anyone in southern California I suspect) because of all the driving that I do during the week.

So while it was nice to get some more bipedal motion and exercise going on it made abundantly clear just how my body has changed in relation to my clothes, particularly my pants and shorts. I expected this to happen as Patrick’s Day 35 (http://peakconditionproject.blogspot.com/2008/04/day-35-waistline.html) entry made it clear that awesome things would be occurring but like all things in life you never know what it’s going to be like until it’s right there staring you back in the face, making you stand up and say, “Whoa”. So I was curious to see how much exactly I’ve changed in relation to my clothes and, boyo, the results were as surprising as Patrick’s. Also, those same results have caused me to develop this annoying habit of constantly having to pull up my pants every minute or so to prevent them from slipping down to my ankles, and don’t even get me started about walking around with keys and a wallet and a phone weighing my pockets down.

Now before I started the project I wasn’t by any means overweight so these results are even more incredible.

Some pants I’ve had for years that have never slipped past my hips:



These shorts were always a little loose on me but now, wowie:



And last, some denim shorts...incredible:



So now I’m standing up for all of you to utter an enthusiastic, amazed, “Whoa”.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 53, For your reference

First, though, may I say, Indulgence Day upcoming! I would have indulged on some sweet, delectable treats yesterday but I think something might have been weird with the food I ate yesterday so my stomach was giving me problems. Remind me to never again eat green beans that have been sitting in the refrigerator for over a week since they apparently take a turn for the worse after that time. Eating rubbery, bland sticks of...unappetizing blandness is not good eats.

And it never will be.

Also, sleeping through your alarm clock for two hours is not my idea anymore of a good way to start off the day. I mean, what the heck was that about? I went sleep way earlier than I normally do and now I'm struggling to get this thing written and sent off (and with a keyboard that doesn't want to cooperate) so I can get to my exercises before it gets even later than it already is. Man is that frustrating.

So renovations are still ongoing so this one may be short since I need to get my exercises out of the way and hurry up to get everything ordered the way I want it to be.

It seems, my fair readers, that the drink industry is screwing us again (wait, was the precedent?). There is a long held belief that we are supposed to be drinking a certain amount of water each and every day otherwise our bodies will cease to function and we’ll all become mindless vegetables, bed-ridden and near death. Or something like that. I wasn’t necessarily raised on that, I don’t know if both of my parents being in the medical field had anything to with that (maybe they knew something everyone else didn’t), but there wasn’t a daily water quota to fill under any circumstances by the time we were put to sleep at night. I, of course, knew that drinking water throughout the day was probably a good thing to do but it certainly wasn’t forced on me or my brother.

So imagine my surprise when Patrick told us that all of that was a hysteria fueled fallacy created years ago that has thrived and still lives today when we are living in an age where we are supposedly more intelligent than we were when the eight glasses of water a day thing was concocted. Heck, it’s still alive on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water#For_drinking. Crazy, isn’t it?

So let me summarize Patrick’s enlightening lesson for all of you: it ain’t necessary. Sure drinking water during the day is undoubtedly good for you and I’m sure even strongly recommended--for we can’t survive on soda alone (although I’m sure Pepsi would like us to believe that)--but what everyone, including the Wikipedia article, forgets to mention is that while, yes, we do need approximately 2 liters of fluid a day, well, the key word there is fluid. Not just water but any kind of liquid beverage (well, besides, alcohol).

Crazy, right? I never would have known and now I do. So I can stop trying to consume bottle after bottle of water a day and just trust that whatever liquid I do take in will be enough when combined with all of the food that I have to eat while on the project, because food itself does have water inside of it which will make up for any deficiency that may occur during the day. I can relax and sleep easy now.

So there that is, off to floss now, you know, to keep my heart healthy. What am I talking about, you ask? Well, go ask Patrick because he can explain it better than I can, also I have exercises to do. Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 52, Painting = exercise?

So yesterday, my bright and shiny day off from work, had the misfortune to let itself be turned into a day full of work. My bit of the house was in desperate need (apparently) to have everything stripped from it--bookcases, gone! desk, gone! computer and t.v., gone! bed...um, still there--my closet doors taken off, clothes moved to a different part of the house, etc. until it was left as some ghost-like version of itself, abandoned and empty. Ready to be totally renovated. The walls turned from a charming light blue color (like living in the sky, it was, my head could float freely and my thoughts and ideas lived unhampered by gravity) to a dark, earthy beige (yes, beige). My old, dirty wooden closet doors were replaced with fancy mirrored doors that slide easily on a track as quiet as a whisper, and the baseboards and molding everywhere replaced with newer versions of themselves.

It’s been quite an undertaking that I luckily haven’t had to be too involved in thanks to my obligations to the PCP and you guys. I certainly have helped, of course, it is my room, and that is why I’m writing about it right now.

Something occurred to me a few hours after everything inside of that place was painted, I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it when the painting was taking place but if I had to guess I would say that it had something to do with the oppressive heat (I do like that saying :-) and the cramped angles and corners of the room, all that made everything uncomfortable and made my mind screech to a halt. I began to realize, after all of the sweat and muscle aches were showered away that the whole undertaking would have been considerably more difficult had it not been for the PCP.

First of all, the whole business of painting is a great endurance challenge in itself, it made me realize that I would not want to spend my days doing that as a living (not my idea of personal fulfillment, no sir). But the all of the massive amounts of jumproping that I’ve put myself through these past eight weeks and change has turned me into a lean person with a stamina to be envied. Not that I’m suggesting you all to envy me. Ha, my ego will never be that big and ugly.

I also was slapped with the realization that all of the muscle newly unencumbered with fat has become much more stretchy and pliable, easily maneuvered and able to bounce back readily from any stress that I put on it through the day or while painting my ceiling to floor walls (how else would they be?). I always thought I was pretty flexible before starting the project thanks to all of the karate training I’ve done over the past nearly fifteen years but, man, I didn’t know what I’ve been missing. Cramped corners were easily conquered like the puny things they are under my new found advanced flexibility and high edges fell under my rolling brush like so many dominoes. In fact, I laugh in triumph now and say “Ta-ta” to my tight, clumsy body of old, lying there in the cold, dark past where it belongs.

Even the very act of rolling paint on the walls itself became as easy as pie thanks to my developing muscle mass. The benefits are noticeable instantaneously and they made what could have been a grueling, “turn your arms into jelly” piece of work into something more like a relaxed pleasure (despite the heat in the room). All the while I was able to watch the muscles in my forearms expand and bulge, contract and move as I ran the roller up and down, side to side along the walls in, what I’m assuming is, record speed (for me, at least).

So I’ve been aware of the changes taking place because of the project for some time now, you’ve read all about the things that have happened so far, but now I’ve had a real world example of just how changed everything really is. I’ve had a practical demonstration of what exactly has happened to me and what I’m able to accomplish which is much more valuable and meaningful to me than stepping on a scale and watching the numbers go down. Because in the end it doesn’t matter what number the scale shows, all that matters is how do you feel and what are you able to accomplish? Those are the important and meaningful things.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 51, Happy 4th!

Of July, that is, all you United Statesians here and abroad. A very good friend of mine is back in town from Monterey Bay so this one will have to be short since I’ve got to be getting out there doing my exercises as well as some fresh air. Speaking of exercises...BAM!

I'll continue on with my Day 1/Day 2/Day 3 workout plan except that now, instead of doing four sets of 25 v-sits, I have to do four sets of 50. Yes, you heard right, freakin 50! I don’t know what I did...or didn’t do or what but, man, that’s almost mean. I’ll see how that one goes over and I’ll try to communicate it to you guys later if I’ve not been hospitalized from 200 v-sits in one day.

Also, I now have the option of eating 50 grams of carbs before my workout. Why? I’m not entirely sure, well actually I’m sure it’s for the extra boost of energy but still it’s new and interesting. I’ll give that one a try as well.

Wish me luck, friends, and hope that I’m not permanently injured after todays exercises.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 50, Celebration?

Not quite, I don’t think. Normally fifty days of anything would be cause for celebration but this particular fiftieth day doesn’t seem like one of those times. I know fifty days is considered a milestone of something but after having had so many of those so far--one month down and coming up on two months, indulgence days, etc--this one doesn’t seem like it’s anything all that special, to tell you the truth. I mean, fifty days is fifty days no matter how you slice it so in the end all I’ve got to say is, whatever. It brings to my mind peoples obsession with the simple piece of green ink-stained paper that is known as money. It is just paper yet it’s also the most intoxicating thing on the planet, I believe. Yes, I know that those things themselves aren’t important, it’s the meaning and the obsession behind them fueled by the people, but still. Still...

As is my custom, though, I will keep you updated on my Wednesday diet plan change and here it is for you guys:

Breakfast

100 g carbs
80 g fruit
150 g veg

a.m. snack

100 g fruit
1 spoon protein powder

Lunch

180 g carbs
250 g veg
1 spoonful protein powder

afternoon snack

100 g fruit

Dinner

70 g carbs
200 grams veg

p.m. snack

2 bananas
1 spoon protein powder

As you can see there are only a couple of changes, very minor stuff here. My morning carbs have been increased slightly and my morning fruit has been cut down. A.M. snack is the same. My lunchtime carbs have increased a small amount, dinner carbs decreased. Everything else is the same. So like I said, minor stuff, but important too because every little change is only going to help me achieve spectacular awesomeness.

And your continued readership on these slow day when I can’t think of anything else to write keeps me inspired and thankful. You’re all wonderful.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 49, Help me out a little

So this is the moment you all have been waiting for, I know I’ve been wondering when this would happen again and out of the clear blue sky, like some kind of crazy coincidence, it’s here:

Indulgence Day, Part Deux!

I’ve got to tell you, though, I’m a little bit wary of these things seeing as how my last encounter with one of these gave me a slight hint as to what my death might feel like. If you think I’m exaggerating there then feel free to read about my experience with dark chocolate, Day 30, Decadent Indulgence.

I’ll give this one a chance, though, and keep an open mind about what could potentially happen. I’ll also have to lock myself into my room in case I go temporarily insane and start writhing around while screaming and cursing the heavens.

But I’m at a loss here. I’m up for another indulgence day, more out of intellectual curiosity than for a day to enjoy something previously off limits, but for the life of me I can’t think of what to indulge on. It’s very annoying since the last one came so easily.

So I’m here now asking for your help, people. Help me come up with something unique and interesting to indulge on. Help me find something that normally wouldn’t come to mind as something that a person normally stray away from.

I do have a few ideas but I wanted to check with everyone else first because perhaps you guys have a clearer head than I do and would be able to think of something less boring. So far I’ve come up with,

Tofutti Cuties



Before the project I used to have one or two of these a day sometimes and I always loved the stuff, mostly because it was the first vegan ice cream I was able to find easily that didn’t taste like cold, bland styrofoam. I’m leaning more toward these as of this moment because I’m feeling a little nostalgic for their creamy, chocolatey goodness but we’ll see.

Vegan Sloppy Joes



Yes, that picture isn't of a vegan sloppy joe but I couldn't find any if those sitting around on the internet so whatever. Same situation here, I used to eat these all the time because they were easy to cook up and they were tasty tasty tasty. I’d heat up some Yves vegan ground...stuff and combine it with the Manwich sauce and then BOOM! good eats.

My last idea was just to cook up a nice pre-PCP Sunday night family dinner using stuff that I used to have all of the time before I started the project but I’m thinking that that wouldn’t be in the spirit of Indulgence Day at all and, while nice, it wouldn’t really give me any more reason to stay away from all of those indulgent foods that I used to eat all the time. And that’s the real purpose of these days.

I’ll try and put more thought into this but, please, help me out, you all are far more imaginative than I am.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 48, Keen-wah!

If any of you out there have had the distinct pleasure of buying and watching David Lynch’s Inland Empire on DVD then you will already know what I’m talking about and have probably already discovered the wonders and sheer taste extravaganza of the South American wonder grain known simply (or not so simply as the name is likely to trip you up on first seeing it) as:

Quinoa



Haaailing from the Andean region of South America, this high protein (14g protein for every 100g quinoa), high in dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron, gluten free food, packed with essential amino acids is considered worldwide as being one of the most important foodstuffs in the early pre-Columbian Andean civilizations and has continued to be so for over 6,000 years. Did you know that this delectable grain is also an unusually complete food for all of your eating needs? You can eat this tasty food and rest easy knowing that your body is humming along nicely thanks in part to...quinoa!

Like I said up top, anyone who has the Inland Empire DVD is probably already aware of this wonder food because of the special features included with the movie. On the second disc of the DVD set David Lynch, always the groundbreaking and eccentric auteur, cooks for himself and for us a bowl of quinoa (see the comparison I’m making here? It’s also kind of like Robert Rodriguez’s 10 Minute Cooking School...except without all of the unappetizing cooked pig flesh) while regaling us with a story from a trip he took into...um, somewhere in the Middle East, I think (I’m not sure, it’s actually been a while since I’ve seen this particular special feature video).

So that’s what piqued my interest in quinoa, for all of you wondering why I’m going on about it. Within a week of seeing the video by Mr. Blue Velvet I found a local farmer’s market that, conveniently for me, has tons of the stuff. So I jumped on the chance to make some of the stuff for myself.

Cooking quinoa is astoundingly similar to cooking ordinary rice, in that you take two parts water for every one part of quinoa. Firstly, though, if the quinoa you find is still covered by saponins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saponins) then remove the stuff by soaking the grain in water for a few hours, then changing the water and resoaking again, or rinsing it in ample running water either in a fine strainer or in cheesecloth. Hopefully you’ll be able to find quinoa that is presoaked. So once that’s done with let’s say that you wanted to make one cup of quinoa, well then you would cook it in two cups of water. Bring to boil the two cups of water and add the one cup of quinoa after turning the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 14-18 minutes (I usually do about 16 and a half to 17 minutes). Voila! You now have cooked and delicious quinoa!



Or, for a more appetizing look,



Looks de-lish, now doesn’t it? And just wait until you see the cooked stuff in front of you, it’ll look even tastier! Also, those tiny curls coming off of the actual quinoa are the germs of the stuff and are totally edible (there’s no way it would be worth it to eat the stuff if you had to get rid of each and every one of those things). They should have a slight “bite” to it, like al dente pasta, and really add some flavor and fun to it.

So look around your local supermarket or farmer’s market and see if you can snag yourself some of this amazing stuff. You won’t regret it, trust me (and check out Inland Empire, it’s full of weird, crazy goodness).

Hmm, I enjoyed this entry, perhaps I’ll have to make this unique food exploration thing a weekly event. Yeah, that sounds cool (I wonder if I’ll stick with it...any suggestions from you fine people?). Coming up next week...Couscous.

Also, for those of you who are interested, a basic recipe I found while hanging out on the Food Network web site (amazing, aren’t they? But I wouldn’t use much of the oil, it never seems to be worth it):

Quinoa and Veggies

2 cups quinoa
1 cup wild rice
1 tablespoon olive oil or peanut oil
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup diced chives
1/2 cup diced orange bell pepper
1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne or crushed red pepper


In a large skillet, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until it expands out of its shell, about 10 minutes; be careful not to overcook it.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally until done, about 20 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, chives, bell peppers, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cook, while stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the quinoa and rice and stir until hot. Serve immediately.