Category Archives: The Challenge Daily

The current challenge to myself: 90 days on a vegetarian diet. What will be the result?

2016, Day Four


Woke up pretty sore today. But I need to get some quality rides in to get myself ready for RAGBRAI, so I had my egg whites & seitan, but today with a banana instead of spinach and headed out on the Big Sky loop, an old favorite that I have not been on for a long time.  It’s not very long at 55 miles from the house and there’s not that much climbing at just over 3,200 feet, but it’s a challenging ride and I’ve put in some good work over the past two days, so I was really suffering by the last climb of the day, back up Santa Susana. That’s OK. I need it.

When I got back, I made a soy curl burrito and a big salad, along with about 4 ounces of Protein shake, all that was left in the container – new one arrived from Amazon this afternoon.

Dinner tonight was a grilled portobello burger, onion rings and an ear of corn on the cob. Beer and a glass of chardonnay because, hey, it’s Sunday.

Feeling pretty used up tonight, but in a good way.

Tomorrow is strength day at the crossfit box. How will I be feeling for that?

2016 Day 3

Weekends are tricky.

For lots of reasons, but they just are. I didn’t want too much to eat this morning before getting in a short bike ride, so I had a banana and 4 wheat thins with peanut butter. I know wheat thins are not an ideal food, but it’s what we had in the cupboard. Got in the bike ride, just 25 miles, some hill repeats on the Sepulveda Pass

Remember, I’m doing all these rides on my single speed Bianchi Pista track bike, because that’s the bike I plan on riding on RAGBRAI in a few weeks.

When I got home, I was starving, but we had Yoga in an hour, so I had another banana and 4 more wheat thins, this time with an ounce of sliced seitan.

Substitute instructor for yoga today made for a more intense class, which was fine with me. Did some head stands which was a first for me at the yoga studio! Tonight I feel like I’ve had a workout recently.  It feels good.

5 o’clock snack was cheese and a pear.

Dinner was chips & guacamole, soy curl & cheese quesadillas and pico de gallo.

Drank a couple of Anchor Steam beers. Hey, it’s Saturday.


2016 Day 1

June 2, 2016

The week in Iowa definitely took it’s toll. Official weight in tomorrow morning will show the score. Nobody’s fault but mine, by the way, I just tend to overindulge when traveling and go even more overboard in Iowa.

So it feels good to be home and getting back to the normal routine. Today besides commuting I managed to get in a lunch ride and it felt good to be eating my own food again.  I’ve been working on perfecting a vegetarian zone diet.  There is plenty of information out there about The Zone, and I’m sure I’ll be talking about it more, but if you are not familiar, it’s a simple system based on getting enough lean protein by weight, making that 30% of your diet and complimenting it with 40% good, low glycemic carbohydrates and a little (30%) fat.  The objective is to eat this exact ratio of macro nutrients at every meal and snack. I’ve got a pretty good routine down for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I’m a little looser with dinner since I’m not just cooking for myself.

Over the past couple of years of vegetarian living, I’ve noticed that there are many happy, chubby vegetarians out there. And that’s OK, but it’s not what I’m looking for. Part of the problem is that most vegetarian protein sources come with lots of carbs. or too much fat. or both. Because I’m interested in athletic performance, in seeing what I can do with my body, I’ve needed better sources of lean, low carbohydrate protein and that has lead me to embrace gluten and soy, in particular home made seitan and commercial soy curls from Butler foods. A lot more about that later, for now my typical day, one of which I just had:

  • Breakfast:
    • 3 egg whites, scrambled with 4 ounces diced seitan
    • 3 big handfuls spinach, sauteed with 1 small garlic clove and 1/4 cup black beans
    • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • Lunch:
    • Seitan and black bean burrito
    • 1 apple
  • Snack:
    • Primal strips seitan jerkey (Mesquite Lime this week)
  • Dinner:
    • Wild mushroom ravioli with garlic, onion and tomato Ragu
    • Big Salad (with some seitan strips added to boost the protein content)
    • Glass of Cabernet

Here’s the Seitan recipe. I make it every week. It’s delicious and satisfying. Many recipes to come and much more about my other favorite new protein source – Soy Curls.

Stay with me.


Day Zero point one

June 1st, 2016.
Day zero

Most people tell me to fuck off when I mention that I need to loose this belly. After all, right now I’m 5’9” and 155 pounds. I’ve been going to the Crossfit box 3 times a week since January and I’m about 16% body fat. Most people I know tell me that’s remarkably fit and they hand me a donut. But I need to lose this belly. It pisses me off. The

Any of us who is pursuing fitness at some level is in a different place on the path. I’ve been much leaner in the past, but not as strong, not as well rounded. I like the way things are going right now – I think I’m on a great training program and I think I have a really solid nutritional base, but I’m just a little too loose with sugar and alcohol and late night snacks…

I want to prove to myself that at age 54 I can be physically in better shape than ever. I want to honor the body I’ve been given. One tool I’ve not employed for the past couple of years is the disciplinary tool of the daily journal / blog.

So here I am again folks.

Day zero.

Day zero because I’m on an airplane on my way back from the Midwest where I just buried my father, abandoned my diet and did virtually no training for the past 9 days. I feel overstuffed, bloated, disgusting and disgusted.

Tomorrow morning at breakfast I turn to page one of my new book.

I’ve explored a lot since I was here last that I want to share, so join me.


Vegetarian for The Long Haul?

For the past few weeks, I’ve really felt that the 90 days, the end of the challenge, was insignificant, that when it was over I would naturally want to continue on the same path, pushing my  personal limits where diet was concerned.

Now that it’s over though, I’m not so sure.  I feel like I need a break.  Like I went too far, too fast.

I’m vegetarian and I’m comfortable with that.  That was the original challenge anyway so nice job.

I do question how bad could it really be to eat a little meat now and then.  A couple of days ago I had an incredibly intense craving for a cheeseburger.  I’ve dreamed of roasting a chicken.  I do miss eggs.

However, it’s been nice not having meat in the house – not worrying about cross-contamination makes working in the kitchen a lot simpler.  The trash smells better.  I’m enjoying discovering new foods.  I’ve learned that I like a lot of vegetables, a lot more than I expected.  Or maybe allowed before because meat was always the priority.


I’m still eating cheese, but I’m “Vegan before six”.  Just because I can and because the foods that I’m enjoying for breakfast and lunch are vegan.

Any of us can benefit from giving plants a much higher priority in our diets.  You don’t have to take it to an extreme to significantly improve your well-being.  I have a tendency to take things the the extreme sometimes though.  Sometimes you have to go there to reset.  To shake off the facade of your current reality.

Without a doubt, trying to adopt a ‘vegan slow-carb’ diet was one step beyond.  I can see that it could be incredibly effective, but it was too much too soon right now.  And followed immediately by Thanksgiving and a business trip to Texas. I’ve been on a bit of a reactionary binge ever since.  Not with meat, but sugar – my true weakness.  At least for now, I need to keep enough fruit and grain in the program to keep me from going overboard for sugar.

I also have to find the right training schedule.  I’m not sure how to keep sharp on the bike while improving at running and still managing to be a good husband, father and an effective manager.

I’m thinking of trying some lunch runs. I’m already running instead of riding one day on the weekend.  Running to and from work one day a week is an option.

Balance is an important concept for 2014.  Healthy, vegetarian, but not obsessed.  Boston 2016 remains the big personal goal on the horizon, so I have to stay focused enough, put in enough miles to make that happen.  And I still want to do it on mostly plants.

Ethically, Environmentally, Economically it just makes sense. Meat is not necessary, there are so many tasty and appealing vegetarian options and the health benefits are worth the effort.

One of the ideas behind doing a 90 day challenge was that 90 days can make a habit.  I do have to say that buying meat at the supermarket seems like an absurd idea right now.  Why would I do such a thing?


Day Ninety One…

Saturday, December 7, 2013

So I lost a week in Houston.  A road trip for work and so much end of the year work to be done that I did not get the last few days of posts done.   A shame in a way, just for continuities sake and also because of the challenges presented to maintaining a vegetarian diet with traveling on business to Houston, Texas.

I did it though and it’s never really as hard as you might think. Vegan on the road, at commercial establishments would be a little more diffi..cult, but vegetarian is just not that hard. The trickiest meal I had was lunch at Papas BBQ.  I had a massive baked potato and some barbequed beans.  delicious, actually.

I had an unbelievable vegetable stuffed pablano chili at Don Ramon’s Fine Mexican Restaurant.  The veggie wrap at the hotel was good, there were tons of vegetables at the local, well above average Chinese buffet and lots of Mexican options means lots of guacamole and beans, so it’s not that hard, but there is definitely an abundance of meat on offer in every direction.

I didn’t get a lot of exercise this week – just a few squats and some pushups in the hotel room.  Maybe that was OK, considering I’m still not completely over the recent crash and I just completed my 1st half marathon last Sunday.  I drank way too much beer in Texas and ate a considerable amount of M&Ms from the company candy jar.  Still weighed in at 138 Friday morning so the damage could have been way worse.

It was freaking cold and raining when I got up today so I took the morning off, but I did get in a 6 mile run this afternoon.  Averaged an 8:49 pace and still have a little pain in the butt.  Everything else is feeling OK.  I’m a little surprised by how much I’m enjoying the running so far, but I’m digging it and it’s a lot easier for most people to relate to.  I’m anxious to do more.  It’s also cool that it’s more transportable because it looks like I will have a few more trips to Houston coming up between now and the LA Marathon.

By the way, here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • The Real Deal Oatmeal
  • Lunch:
    • Curried Lentils, Sauteed Kale and Spinach

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Day Eighty Four

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hopped on the San Fernando Valley Bike Club ride as it rolled through my neighborhood today and went on a stately cruise out to Sierra Madre.  It was good to get a chance to ride with Serious Cycling teammate Oleg Shalygin who is also recovering from his own crash just a day or two after mine. The pace was pretty much what I was looking for.

Tonight my knee is feeling pretty good, but my ass still hurts so we’ll see what the morning brings.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • The Real Deal Oatmeal
    • Banana
  • Lunch:
    • Giant Green Salad with veggies, salsa, guacamole and garbanzos
  • Dinner:
    • Brueschetta with tomatoes and basil
    • Bell Peppers and Hummus
    • Feta Cheese
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Birthday Cake!
    • Glass of Cabernet


So much sugar.  I have such a weakness – if it’s in the house, I will eat it.  I can be really good for awhile, but eventually I’m going to lose it.  Not my worst day of eating, but I didn’t burn anywhere near enough calories on today’s ride to pay for the the cheese and the cake.  Maybe the over indulgences will pay off tomorrow with endless stores of strength and energy?

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Day Eighty Three

Friday, November 29, 2013

I woke up this morning to the sound of a pretty heavy rain and decided maybe it would be wise to get a little more rest.  I shut off the alarms and didn’t get out of bed until 7.  Hobbling around the kitchen making breakfast I made the further decision to take the day off today and just heal.  We had some heavy rain on and off all morning, so that worked out OK.  Watched a movie with my kids, did a tiny bit of Black Friday shopping, baked a cake and took Ben out for Thai food.  A good recovery day, but will it be enough?  I need to do whatever I can to give myself a shot at finishing that race on Sunday. I’m not planning on anything more than an easy ride for tomorrow.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Chili Beans and Sauteed Greens
  • Lunch:
    • Green Salad with Bell Pepper, Chick Peas and Tahini Dressing
  • Dinner:
    • Fried Won Tons / Vegetable Egg Rolls
    • Tofu and Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
    • Brown Rice
    • Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
    • Glass of Cabernet x2

It was my son Benjamin’s 24th birthday today.  He wanted to go to a “Hole in the Wall Thai Food Place” for dinner, so we went to Grandma’s Thai Kitchen.  One of the many places within a couple of miles of here that I’d never been too.  It was spot on.  The Tofu and Broccoli was excellent as were the appetizers.  Between that meal and the birthday cake ( and the sampling of the cake and frosting during assembly )  I am totally stuffed again for the 2nd day in a row.  I’ve also consumed more sugar in the past two days than in the previous 2 months.  It could be an ironic end to the challenge with Thanksgiving weekend and a business trip to Texas to finish it.

What the hell, when I started this thing it wasn’t too prove anything in particular except that I could do it and see what would happen.  Not only have I just about done it, but I’ve been transformed more than expected during the process.  More about that upon reflection in a few days.





Day Eighty Two

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving day.  The plan for the morning was to get in a short ride, then run a few miles.  The last run before the half marathon on Sunday.  The ride was short and not strenous, just up and over Sepulveda and back.  I did experience a few unusual twinges of pain, but nothing that seemed terribly disturbing.  When I set out on the run, I did not know if I was going to make it the first block.  My ass hurt so bad I could barely move my legs.  Seriously my right glute is complaining loudly.  That’s got to be as a result of overcompensating for the lower back pain I had after the crash.  There are a number of things going on with my left leg, also from overcompensating, in this case for the knee that got yanked out of place.  I feel like I’m falling apart!

I need to get through these injuries and I suppose running my first half is not the best way to do that, but if I can be just a little bit stronger by Sunday…

The question is what to do tomorrow? Sixty miles with Cycle World? (Plus there and back, make it 80)  They have a good route planned, only one significant climb (up Stunt), but would it help or hurt y preparations for Sunday? I really don’t have a clue.  This cross training stuff is all new to me.  Endurance running is all new to me, to be honest.

Nothing to be done but see how I feel in the morning.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • The Real Deal Oatmeal
    • Banana
  • Post Workouts:
    • Green Smoothie
    • Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
  • Lunch:
    • Pinto Beans, Chips, Salsa, Guacamole
  • Dinner:
    • Fat Tire Beer (2)
    • Cheese Enchiladas
    • Black Beans
    • Mexican Beet Salad
    • Chips, Salsa, Guacamole
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
    • Glass of Cabernet

Not a turkey in sight, but I still managed to overdo it quite nicely today.  It was the pie that was truly my downfall.  I’m thinking of having another small piece right now…I haven’t felt this stuffed in months.  It’s not that pleasant.

No shortage of carbs, that’s for sure so I should be up for just about anything tomorrow, though I may have to haul an extra pound or two.

I have no clue what we are eating for the rest of the weekend.  Tomorrow is Bens’ birthday and there is not telling what he might like.
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Day Eighty One

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No lunch ride today.  Too much going on at the office, it was a short day and I didn’t want to put any extra pressure on the knee.  I really want to run the half on Sunday and I’m going to be feeling my way through training for the next three days.  I want to get in a short run tomorrow morning and maybe a short ride before I spend a few hours cooking.  It’s going to be a great day.

Friday there is a good Cycle World ride going out to Westlake and then climbing and descending Stunt Road.  That would give me about 80 miles on the day.  Also a chance to try climbing Stunt out of the saddle and I wonder if Armando will be there? Follow that with an easy ride on Saturday and I should be primed for race day.  That’s the plan, let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Ful Medammes
    • Sauteed spinach and kale
  • Lunch:
    • Bean salad
    • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Dinner:
    • Broccoli, Cauliflower and Hummus
    • ‘Oriental’ Barley and Veggie Lettuce Wraps
    • Vegetable Egg Roll
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Glass of Cabernet

I Improvised the filling for lettuce wraps – I’ve made these many times with chicken and they were always pretty popular, so I was a little concerned about how they would go over, but it worked!  Even Annette took 2nds.

My oldest son arrived at Burbank Airport for Thanksgiving weekend tonight so to save some time and round out the meal I also picked up some frozen Chung King Egg Rolls; both vegetable and chicken.  Most of the chicken got thrown out and everyone was wishing we had more vegetable.  Score two points for vegetarian velo guy tonight.