Monthly Archives: September 2013

Day Twenty Three

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday. Uggh.  Always some water weight gain as my body recovers from having it’s glycogen stores sucked dry over the weekend.  It’s my riding recovery day, too so I just take it easy.  One of my hopes for the change in diet is to improve my ability to recover quickly.  This is something I’m going to have to start thinking about measuring, but it might be a bit to early just yet.

This week I am leaving work early to pick up my daughter from the bus stop so long commutes are not an option either. I will have to make the most of the couple of lunch ride opportunities I get.  Maybe do a little running later in the week, but not today.

I’m planning to ride the single speed all week and also hoping new tires and a chain will be arriving from PBK before the weekend.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, strawberries, raspberries
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: Fruit salad ( mango, apple, pineapple, grapes), small piece of multi-grain bread, toasted, w/peanut butter
    • Veggie Burger
    • Baked sweet potato fries
    • Green salad with hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet

Had to try a veggie burger – gotta have one of those in the rotation, right?  These were really tasty.  Another recipe submission from my daughter (Jake). A knife & fork affair, like others I have seen, but an interesting combination of ingredients and great flavor.  Did not use an egg, I’m sure that would have helped it hold together a little better, but I liked that it was vegan and I might stuff one in a pita pocket next time & see how that works.

Now that I read the list of meals for the day I’m realizing that it was an all vegan day.  That’s pretty cool.  I just bought a big tub of yogurt, but I’ve been thinking I should replace that with something else.  I mostly just eat that with lunch, so another piece of fruit or some nuts would be a better choice.  Then I’ll have a carton of yogurt sitting around taking up space in the fridge.  It will have to be thrown out shortly though, unlike the 3 cans of tuna in the cupboard – I’m saving those in case there’s an earthquake and I have to turn Paleo.  I used to eat a can of tuna pretty much every day and felt like I was being healthy.  Granted, it was a huge improvement over the days when I was going out every day for lunch, but time and perspective are interesting things and it’s hard to imagine right now that there will ever be a day when I will be packing one of those cans into my lunch bag in the morning.

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Day Twenty Two

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kick Ass Renegade Ride today. A combination of being a little lighter, a little stronger, a little fresher and a little more savvy (get out of the saddle and work for it!).  Over the top, through the tunnel & down the other side with the lead group today which was Gus, Armando, Andy & Glen – that’s fast company.  Big ring, out of the saddle all the way up the climb – same thing on the way back for more PRs.

Off the bike, I’ve been playing with side planks and hand stands this weekend.  Side planks will go into the rotation right away.  The form is not very good right now but that will come around quickly enough.  Hand stands are a totally different deal – that’s going to take some serious work.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flax seed and hemp hearts
    • Banana
  • On the ride:
    • Toasted Bagel with honey
  • Post ride:
    • 8 oz chocolate milk
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, melon, blackberries, hemp protein powder
  • Dinner:
    • Crostini w/Peso and tomatoes, kalmata olives, 2 Anchor Steam beers.
    • Lentil Dahl – recipe from Forks over Knives, The Cookbook, Whole Wheat Naan bread
    • Green salad with hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet

Dahl was excellent (just a pinch more salt in the pot next time, but essentially there). I have a killer naan recipe that I have used many times, but it’s all processed white flour.  The whole wheat version shows promise, but needs just a little work.  It was still fantastic with the Dahl, just could be better.

We also prepped some veggie burgers today for tomorrow’s dinner – very promising and I’m really looking forward to trying them. Stay tuned for that – it’s going to be a great week everybody!

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Day Twenty One

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The short version of the long story of the short ride today:

Wife is traveling and had some serious hassles at the destination.  I was on the phone trying to help for awhile early this morning so I got a late start and my head wasn’t really in it – decided to just bang out some hill repeats on Sepulveda.  Alternated seated and standing, 6x, but a hall pass one time up when I ran into a rider from the valley club & we just chitchatted our way up the climb.  I thought about going around a 7th time because of that, but decided to keep one in the bank for tomorrow.

Post ride I mixed the recommended 4 Tbsp of hemp protein powder into my usual smoothie. I’m sure I didn’t really need the protein powder after a 30-mile ride, but I wanted to try it.  Not bad, a little assertive, would probably be really good with banana or mango and I think I would get used to it pretty quickly regardless.

I thought the smashed chickpea and pesto sandwiches for lunch were excellent – could possibly be improved by adding some sliced tomato.  I used Ezekiel bread because you can get that at Ralphs, but I want to try some of “Dave’s Killer Bread”. I know I can get that at Sprouts and probably Whole Foods.  My daughter was not so impressed with Ezekiel. She’s kind of a bread connoisseur and has liked most of what I’ve tried lately.  Not so much with the sprouted grains, not yet anyway.

The Vegan Enchiladas from Oh She Glows is just a really good, solid recipe. My daughter found the recipe a year ago or so and It’s been made in our house several times.  Today I had Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas and nutritional yeast, both called for in the original recipe so it was the first time I had all of the ingredients to follow the recipe exactly and it did not disappoint.  I also used my homemade enchilada sauce.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flax seed and hemp hearts
    • Banana
  • Post ride:
    • 8 oz chocolate milk
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, melon, blackberries, hemp protein powder
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: carrots, bell pepper & cherry tomatoes with hummus, 2 Anchor Steam beers.
    • Vegan enchiladas (Oh She Glows)
    • Cilantro Lime Quinoa
    • Green salad with hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet

Also I have to admit that after dinner, I ate the ‘ride waffles’ I made this morning in anticipation of a longer ride. Many rules about eating can be suspended during a ride and I’ll often toast a couple of eggos and make a sandwich of preserves, nutella or peanut butter – some of each if the route is 100 miles or more.

I’m feeling pretty satisfied right now and am looking forward to riding with the Renegades in the morning.

Enchilada sauce

Enchilada sauce

Use in your favorite enchilada recipe - so much better than anything from the store or a can!

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 can (14.5oz) Vegetable broth
  • 4 tsp California chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Make a roux in a medium saucepan:
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat
  3. Gradually whisk in the flour
  4. Cook, whisking frequently for about 2 minutes
  5. Add the chili powder, cumin and garlic, whisk again
  6. Slowly add the broth, whisking constantly until sauce is smooth and bubbly
  7. Continue to cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes
http://vegetarianvelo.com/enchilada-sauce/

The Workout

I typically get in a short workout 5 days a week, on weekday mornings. Saturday and Sunday are almost always reserved for long, hard bike rides so I skip the ‘gym’ those days. Likewise, if it’s a holiday or a day off and I have a big ride planned, I usually skip the workout.

It’s a simple workout, only takes about 15-20 minutes and consists of a little bit of core work and a little bit of strength training. This fall and winter, during the ‘off-season’, I plan to add more strength work, perhaps in the evenings. I’ve been rotating through some of the exercises in Tom Danielson’s “Core Advantage” and in Selene Yeager’s “Get Fast”. Workouts are always a 3 circuits, something like this:

Monday, Wednesday & Friday:

  • Bicep Curls 12 reps
  • Tommy D’s Supine Knee Drops 15 reps (1st 2 circuits, third is shoulder blade squeeze)
  • Pushups 45 reps
  • Pull ups 4 reps (sad, but true – just added these and I have a long way to go)

Tuesday and Thursday

  • Bicep Curls 12 reps
  • Dumbbell squats 12 reps
  • One arm, one leg planks – 30 seconds each side
  • Pull ups 4 reps

That’s it. I can feel the difference on the bike – I have a pretty solid core and when everyone else starts complaining about their back or their neck I just ask what their core workout routine is. As a cyclist, I don’t need the bicep curls, but as a genetically skinny guy, I like the way it looks. I don’t get paid to ride my bike, so it’s an indulgence, get over it. I did. I also think I have a little leeway to just get stronger overall – more than just a chicken body with big legs. Once I shed the rest of the fat I’ll be light enough that I can afford to carry around a little extra muscle. Just a little

Maybe not the most scientific workout and I’m sure it could be improved 100 times in 100 ways, but I believe that consistency and commitment are the most important ingredients. I do the workout religiously and will keep improving it for effectiveness as I go. If I’m traveling and don’t have access to a gym, I just do more core stuff and forgo the weights. I like the idea of body-weight / minimal equipment workouts. There is an endless variety of increasingly difficult exercises just waiting to be done.

For a series of good descriptions of many body weight workouts, have a look at: http://www.alkavadlo.com. Dude is totally nuts, but in a good way.Shows that you can get ripped & strong, just using the weight of your own body. And I don’t believe you need to spend hours at the gym to do it. If that’s what you’re into, that’s cool – don’t get me wrong. I’d just rather spend more hours out on the road on my bike and fewer hours on stuff that feels like ‘working out’.

Day Twenty

Friday, September 27, 2013

Using the new bathroom scale, here are the metrics for the end of week 3:

Weight: 131.4 lbs
Body Fat: 11.9%
Body Water: 61.1%

According to the spreadsheet I’ve been using to translate from my broken scale, I would be at 132.6.  So I was off in the heavy direction which puts me ahead of the game, in a way.  Psychologically, that’s good – it would have been a bit demoralizing to have to take a few steps back and reset.  At the same time, it’s amazing to me to be closing in on 130 lbs and 12% BF and still have extra belly hanging around.  Since I never paid attention to a scale until 3 years ago, I really don’t know what to expect the ‘floor’ to be, but as a wanna be climbing specialist on the bike, it’s exciting to finally see the fat starting to go along with the pounds.  I’ve got to be getting close.  11.9% of 131.4 pounds is 15.6 and you can’t live without some fat. There are a few pounds left to shed, but that’s it. Based on my recent performance, I don’t think I’ve lost any muscle in the process, but the immediate focus is going to stay on eliminating the fat once and for all, then I’ll work on using plants to build muscle.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, strawberries & melon
  • Lunch:
    • Ezekiel sprouted grains wrap with black beans, salsa, guacamole, onion & cheddar cheese. ½ red bell pepper, Greek yogurt with agave & hemp hearts, apple
    • Birthday cake! This one of my big indulgences – the monthly office birthday cake.  I look forward to it, I relish it, I eat a big-ass piece.  They usually come from Porto’s Bakery.  Today it was a mango mousse cake and it was awesome.
  • Dinner:
  • Appetizer: carrots, bell pepper & cherry tomatoes with hummus
  • Whole wheat Margherita pizza
  • Green salad with hemp oil and balsamic vinaigretted
  • Glass of Cabernet
  • Apple


Day Nineteen

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Question of the day: Who needs a leg press machine when you have a single speed bike and a nearby canyon?

I followed through with my plan to ride that bike again today and head up La Tuna Canyon at lunch – one of my long standing weekly lunch ride routes.  Interesting psychology on a bike with one gear – to get a decent cadence going, you have to maintain a certain speed and so you just do, to an extent anyway.  I covered the shallow part of the ascent pretty quickly today and then when I hit the real climb, where the road pitches up from 3% to 6%, I stood up out of the saddle to keep the legs turning over and I just stayed there the rest of the way up.  Normally on the racing bike, I would sit down after a couple of minutes because I know I have easier gears to shift into and still keep the cadence high.  That wasn’t an option today so I just kept cranking. Armando would have been proud.  As a result, I smoked the climb, set a bunch of PRs and moved up a few places on the Strava segments.

I expect I’ll be riding that bike at lunch a little more often now – what a great workout.  The descent is slower, because the gear spins out around 30 mph and the hill is not steep enough for long enough that you can make up the difference with gravity, but the climbing was awesome.

Tonight while I was working on dinner, I was wondering what’s different about the last couple of weeks. I’m losing fat, but it’s not as hard as it has been in the past. I’m hungry, but I don’t have cravings. When I say I’m hungry, I’m hungry when appropriate – I’m hungry before lunch, I’m hungry before dinner, I’m hungry when I wake up in the morning.  I’m eating enough volume to feel satisfied though when I do have a meal.  Maybe there is some enhanced willpower due to the fact that the results are so clear.

I’ve also been thinking what is it that I have really given up? Meat, obviously, but before I officially started this challenge, I had cut way back to only eating meat 2 or 3 times a week.  By the time I decided I was really going to go full time vegetarian it was almost a relief.  It’s true that you can be an unhealthy vegetarian or vegan and equally true that many vegans and vegetarians are healthier not just because they exclude animals from their diets, but because they are very conscious of everything they put into their bodies.  I have virtually eliminated refined sugar and reduced my consumption of refined grain to a very small amount.  I eat virtually no packaged food, certainly nothing highly processed.  That all adds up.  I used to have 2 poached eggs every morning, now I have eggs in the refrigerator that are nearing expiration.  I still eat some cheese and I love that glass of chocolate milk after a hard ride on the weekend.  I’m already thinking of upgrading that to some hemp protein in the post ride smoothie.  If there is a point to this rambling post it’s that it’s all working for me right now, I feel great and I think it’s going to be amazing to look back at the end of the 90 days and see where else the journey has taken me.

Tomorrow is the first official weigh in with the new scale.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, strawberries & melon
  • Lunch:
    • Banana before the lunch ride
    • Ezekiel sprouted grains wrap with black beans, tomato, avocado, onion & lettuce. ½ orange bell pepper, Greek yogurt with blueberries, apple
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter, melon
    • Vegetarian Nachos
    • Green salad with hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of cabernet


Day Eighteen

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After the 2 flats yesterday, I grabbed the single speed this morning.  It’s got good tires and the seat bag was well stocked. The 2nd ever “Rico Lunch Ride” occurred today as an easy cruise around the dam with Kevin.  Windy conditions but a beautiful fall day in L.A.

I’ve been riding at lunch at least twice a week for more than two years, but have been trying to entice some others to come along and get a real lunch hour group ride going. Kevin is a saxophonist and triathlete who has brought the bike for the loop twice now.  Kudos for being the first on board.  Would you believe another flat on the way home? It’s the season for really hard, small thorns that soften your tire over a couple of miles in a really irritating way and are almost impossible to find while standing at the side of the road.  After fixing the flat, I followed a moderately slow commuter for a couple more miles, so it turned out to be a pretty low heart rate day all day, but I’m sure I don’t get enough of those.

I’m feeling good in the middle of week three. I like what I see in the mirror and on the scale.  My energy is good.  The pull ups are getting ever so slightly easier.  I’m thinking of taking the single speed up La Tuna Canyon tomorrow to see what that feels like.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, strawberries & blackberries
  • Lunch:
    • Banana before the lunch ride
    • What was left of the Cilantro Lime Quinoa salad, a little slice of leftover stacked enchiladas ½ orange bell pepper, Greek yogurt with agave and hemp hearts, apple
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: Cottage cheese w/ melon
    • Grilled Portobello burger w/ spinach, tomato, onion & jalapeno
    • Baked fries
    • Green salad with cherry tomatoes, hemp hearts, hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of cabernet

Day Seventeen

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Really tough day at the office, late start heading home so just a short commute around the Dam with a bonus two flats on the rear tire.  The front was soft this morning, but held up fine all day. My tires are shot – new ones on the way from PBK along with a chain, which I also need badly.  Tightening up the rear cassette cured a disturbing rattling.  What a difference – it wasn’t very loose, but enough to cause a helluva racket and some shifting anomalies.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, strawberries & blackberries
  • Lunch:
    • Cilantro Lime Quinoa salad, ½ orange bell pepper, greek yogurt with agave and hemp hearts, apple
    • Banana before the ride home
  • Dinner:
    • Goat cheese and fig crostini
    • Bow tie pasta with walnut sauce
    • Green salad with hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet

Lunch was definitely the best thing that happened at the office today. The leftover Cilantro Lime Quinoa was excellent.  Tonight’s pasta also excellent – the recipe is really Walnut Spaghetti from “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook” which I picked up at Boston Logan Airport on the way back from WPI just a few weeks ago.  I think this book, and in fact this recipe mark the tipping point that started the journey I’m attempting to document.  It’s the 2nd time I’ve made this and it was great both times.  This time I swapped out the spaghetti for bow ties and ricotta for goat cheese.  The crostini was born because I had some very good leftover whole grain bread, a few figs and the remaining goat cheese that didn’t go in the pasta.  Sublime.  I keep thinking that it’s very likely that the next challenge will be vegan and I do like cheese…

Cooking

I have always enjoyed cooking and have been the primary food procurement and preparation specialist for my family for, well, as long as I’ve had a family. Many of my choices over those years could have been much worse, but many were pretty typical standard American diet. Hey, I was raised in Iowa during the 60s and 70s and my Dad’s idea of a good salad was some croutons swimming in ranch dressing.
It wasn’t until that January day in 2010 that I really started to question what I was bringing into my house and feeding my family. Three years later and I’m still working on it, but it feels good, I’m learning a lot and enjoying working with new (to me) foods, recipes and combinations. It’s more of a challenge when everyone does not share my enthusiasm for experimenting with an entirely new lifestyle, but we are all finding things that we like that we didn’t even consider before, which is pretty cool.

It’s funny too, the little things that change that used to seem perfectly normal that now seem outrageous. I used to have coffee cans full of used grease under my sink and I never knew what was the best way to get rid of them. Turns out the best approach is to stop frying stuff.

My favorite and now indispensable new kitchen tools are my food processor and my Nutri Bullet blender. If you really want to rule the smoothie world, you should invest in a Vita Mix so you can do crazy tricks like liquefy an avocado pit and I expect that I will at some point, but for now the Nutri Bullet does exactly what I need it to do which is mostly make a green smoothie for me every morning, but I have used it for a few other things too and it does a much better job than my run down old blender

NutriBullet TheSmoothie

I spend a lot of time on food. I think that’s a good thing. It keeps us alive, it makes us happy and if you do it right, it keeps you healthy, too. I read somewhere recently that the vegetarian / vegan lifestyle is an indulgent one. I think that’s cool too and for many of us, it’s true. What does it mean exactly? I try to source the best possible ingredients, fresh produce, local producers, organic options. Sometimes it costs a little more but you can’t get quality out if you don’t put quality in. And you know what? I still find it’s less expensive to live an indulgent, high quality plant based life than it is to buy meat and highly processed industrialized food products. I spend time to think about what I’m going to eat and what I’m going to feed my family. I plan my shopping and my cooking. I spend time researching new recipes – reading cookbooks, browsing food blogs. I work at staying educated about the latest nutrition research and theories. I spend time preparing meals. What would seem to many a lot of time. At least 2 hours every day, more on the weekends. I’m protective of that time. So while many see a plant based life as a life of deprivation, I see it as a life of luxury.