Category Archives: The Challenge Daily

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

Day Eighty

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A short run tonight.  I am still moving so slow.  For reasons that are painfully obvious, to me anyway, while I’m running.  Reasons that are nonetheless frustrating.  But hey, I did it and it still didn’t kill me.

As usual, a couple of hours post-run, the knee feels pretty good.  Question is how will it feel when I stand up out of bed in the morning?  There is also something still nagging in my lower back / right glute that gets a little better after a mile or so but it makes me slow.  I’m expecting that will all go away by Sunday and I’ll smoke the course.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Ful Madammes
    • Green salad with salsa
  • Lunch:
    • Bean Salad
    • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Dinner:
    • Bell Pepper and Hummis
    • Whole Wheat Farfalle with Artichokes al Cartoccio
    • Green salad with Tahini dressing
    • Crusty Garlic Bread
    • Glass of Cabernet

I ran out of Spinach and sauteed salad didn’t sound that appealing this morning, but the salad and salsa worked very nicely with the Ful.  Tomorrow it’s back to the saute though. That combination is hard to beat.

The pasta tonight was a recipe from Vegetarian Times magazine which I picked up for the first time at CVS of all places last weekend.  Basically pasta en Pappilote with artichokes and olives and tomatoes.  And Ricotta, but not too much.  Of course, I thought it was pretty tasty.  Other reviews were mixed.  Leftover crusty bread with olive oil, broiled and rubbed with garlic adds up to a lot of carbohydrate.  Hey, I did run today, even if it was short.

I keep wondering how I should be eating to prepare for the half on Sunday, but I think the normal excess and relaxation of rules for the holiday will supply enough extra carbs to fuel me up for Sunday.

Next week is a business trip to Houston, TX.  I’m hopeful I can manage to avoid eating meat for the three days I’m there, but there will be other significant attacks on my current diet M.O., beer most certainly prominent among them, also lunches at the plant?

Houston in general is fairly foodie and happycow.net has a lot of listings, so left to my own devices, I expect that I would do fine.  Being entertained by Texans?  That could make it interesting.

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Day Seventy Nine

Monday, November 25, 2013

It was tough getting out of bed and off to work today.  Honestly, it was tough just getting out of bed.  After a night of sleep, I wasn’t sure my knee was going to carry me across the room to the closet.  It did, and it got easier from there.  I went light on the workout this morning and moved pretty slowly for the first hour of consciousness, but the knee was feeling much stronger by the time I got on the bike and headed for the office.

It was chilly this morning, too – in the upper 40’s but sunny, just barely knee warmer, vest and gloves with fingers weather.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Ful Medammes
    • Sauteed spinach and kale
  • Lunch:
    • Bean salad
    • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Dinner:
    • Bell Pepper and Hummus
    • Greek Veggie Pita Sandwich
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Glass of Cabernet

My wife asked tonight at dinner “When are the ninety days over?”.  Personally, it’s a little hard to believe that it’s only about ten more days.  A lot has happened, a lot has changed, but it seems like just a couple of weeks ago I was saying “I can’t imagine ever really going completely vegetarian”.

I don’t want to buy and prepare meat.  I don’t want to consume dairy, but I’m still eating some of that, mostly to preserve domestic tranquility, and if I have to put some meat in the refrigerator for the same reason, I will have to figure that out somehow.

I do miss eggs sometimes.  I really grew fond of poached eggs over the past couple of years and I’ve always liked fried eggs, scrambled eggs and omelets, but I’ve been getting along just fine without them.  Truth is I’ve been able to incorporate a lot of foods in my private meals ( breakfast, lunch ) that I always wanted more of before anyway – beans, peppers, spice, corn, squash.

I kind of freak out now when I see cholesterol listed on a nutrition label. “Cholesterol! Holy Crap! How did that get in there?!?” It’s usually from eggs, milk or butter – oh, yeah.

I’m excited about a big bag of fresh from the garden beets sitting in my kitchen right now that I was given by a friend today.  I can share those with Jake this week, maybe Ben, too?  Beets and Enchiladas for Thanksgiving?  Why not.  Note: I just Googled “Mexican Beets” and I bookmarked a few interesting side dish ideas”

 

 

 

 

Day Seventy Eight

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I set out on the run this morning.  My left knee is still a little tender, would the pain force me to walk after a mile or two?  I didn’t run all week, would something else blow out?  Would my legs just give up?  Would I bonk from a lack of carbs this week?

None of that happened and I made it.  Really slow, but that’s what a long run is supposed to be, isn’t it? Embarrassingly slow.  And that’s how it felt, but I got it done and I feel better for it.

Running is hard.  But it’s slowly starting to make sense.  The things that plagued me in the beginning – shins, feet, ankles – none of those are a problem anymore and I do believe the knee would be fine were it not for last week’s accident.  I’m definitely adapting.

Fingers crossed I don’t regret this run in the morning, I can get some more in on Tuesday and Thursday and complete my first half marathon one week from now.  Tuesday should be a short, quick run.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • The Real Deal Oatmeal
  • Lunch:
    • Post Run Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, Melon, Blueberry, Hemp Protein Powder
    • Curried Tofu w / Brown Rice, Roasted Carrots and Kombucha Squash
  • Dinner:
    • Bell Pepper and Hummis
    • Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Onions
    • Glass of Cabernet

Oatmeal, rice and fruit – decidedly not a ‘slow carb’ day. Back to that tomorrow.

The Spaghetti Squash was pretty good.  First time I have ever cooked it. Or eaten it.  Worth further experimentation.  Jake liked it but she mostly liked the sauce.  Annette wanted to like it…Thanksgiving week, here we come.

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Day Seventy Seven

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Felt good to get in a halfway decent ride this morning.  Not too taxing, just a loop around the valley for two and a half hours, no real climbing.  It was hard work though – not enough carbs in the system?   You’d think yesterday’s mango cheesecake and calzones would have topped me off.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Spicy Lentil Dahl
    • Sauteed spinach and kale
  • Lunch:
    • Green Smoothie (post ride) – Spinach, Kale, Strawberries, Blackberries, Hemp Protein Powder
    • Curried Tofu, roasted carrots and squash, brown rice
    • Grapefruit Juice
  • Snack:
    • Apple and Peanut Butter
    • Pretzels and Hummus
  • Dinner (Birthday Party):
    • Quinoa and Arugula Salad
    • Potato Salad
    • 3 Beers
    • A bunch of sugar – brownies, cookies, a cupcake

A sugar binge day, for sure.  We shall see how that works  out in 48 hours or so.  I do like what the slo carb week was doing.  This is not a sustainable diet, not when training seriously for endurance sports, you have to pour in more carbs.  But for short term course correction and trimming stubborn fat I think it has real potential.  I also think it’s going to be very difficult to do at dinner and not have the rest of my family move out on me, so there will be some compromising next week.  A bit like the first week – hard core for breakfast and lunch, but with some added carbs in the evening.  I still think I can get some good results.

 

 

 

Day Seventy Six

Friday, November 22, 2013

Just commuting today.

I put on my running shoes when I got home tonight and headed out the door, but I only ran a few tentative steps before deciding it was still too soon.  I just can’t risk really blowing out that knee and having to put off the running even longer.  It would be worth it to sacrifice the half marathon in favor of the long range training for L.A.

I had my annual checkup today at Kaiser.  Doctors.  I like my Doctor, but he told me that he thought maybe I should eat more and try to put some weight on, especially if I’m going to run a marathon.  I can’t believe he doesn’t get it.  Has he ever seen a serious marathoner? Has he ever climbed Piuma road with a fast group?  I don’t need to weigh a whole lot less, but I don’t need to weigh a whole lot more, either.  I just want to trade a little more fat for muscle.  I still have a gutlet.  No visible evidence of abdominal musculature.

I am very interested to see the results of the lab work.

Stats for the week:

Weight: 132.6
Body Fat: 11.3%
Water: 62.4%
Resting Heart Rate: 40

So those are going the right direction again.  Cool.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Spicy Lentil Dahl
    • Sauteed Spinach and Kale
  • Lunch:
    • Bean Salad, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cherry Tomatoes
    • Birthday Cake!!!
  • Dinner:
    • Bell Pepper and Hummis
    • Olive and Onion Calzone
    • Glass of Cabernet

I did not have a terribly adherent record on my first week of the Vegan Slo Carb experiment.  To be honest, it’s a few magnitudes of change I’ve made to my diet philosophy in just a few weeks and dinners are the hardest because I do not want my family to all start fending for themselves.  I’m sure I can do better than Calzones, but it’s going to take some time.

The November birthday cake was Mango Cheesecake.  It was fantastic.

So that’s pretty much a cheat day right there, but I’m going to have another tomorrow.

And I see improvement in the metrics this week.

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Day Seventy Five

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I took the whole day off from aerobics today – the rain was coming down this morning so I accepted a ride to work and I’m taking one more day off from running.

Did the usual Thursday morning workout plus some headstands, air squats, wall presses and pull ups tonight.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Spicy Lentil Dahl
    • Sauteed spinach and kale
  • Lunch:
    • Green Salad with Salsa and Guacamole
  • Dinner:
    • Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
    • Roast Kabocha Squash
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Big glass of Cabernet

Lunch was El Pollo Loco brought in for a meeting today.  And there were no beans on the menu.  I was looking forward to a big plate of beans, salsa and guacamole and hoping their would be some salad as well.  Turns out there was just salad, no beans. Crap.  I survived it.  Someone also asked “Don’t you like churros?”, I said “Of course I like churros”, but I didn’t eat one.

The Quinoa tonight is not technically allowed on the official “Slo Carb” diet, but this is my experiment and I’m trying to invent a proper vegan interpretation and trying to feed my family at the same time.  Breakfast and lunch are fairly dialed at this point.  Some nights dinner is going to be more genuinely slow than others. Sometimes more vegan.

That was a nearly vegan day today, but there was a little cheese tossed in with the salad.

I hope the weather is conducive to a lunch ride tomorrow.  It’s birthday cake day and I know I’m eating a piece.  Saturday night we have an actual birthday party to go to, so that’s going to be my official cheat day, but I’ll try to be restrained during the day, particularly since it’s the first week of the Slo experiment…and that cake tomorrow, of course.  Long bike ride Saturday, long run Sunday will help with damage control.

 

 

Day Seventy Four

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Long hard day, late night, short post.  Still no running tonight.

I left the office late, rode home in the rain and my knee is still feeling a little too tender.

Missed out on a lunch ride today too due to meeting schedules and other workplace drama.

Also, my bike headlight is not working properly – the battery has been barely lasting for the ride home lately, but now the light will only stay on for a few seconds.  Not acceptable.  I’m going to have to manage to get to the bike shop after work tomorrow.  I really need to get a run in, too and then still make dinner.  Another challenging day, that’s all.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Ful Medames
    • Sauteed Spinach and Kale
  • Lunch:
    • Bean Salad, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cherry Tomatoes
  • Dinner:
    • Broccoli, Cauliflower and Hummis
    • Creamy Tomato Soup
    • Glass of Cabernet

The tomato soup recipe was from Veganomicon and turned out well.  Annette even liked it – she ate almost half a bowl full!  I finished off the Ful at breakfast today so I made some Dahl tonight – “Spicy Indian Dahl” from Allrecipes.com.  I’m looking forward to that in the morning.

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Day Seventy Three

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Just commuting today.  I was planning on a short run tonight, but my left knee is still feeling pretty tender and there is something just a little tweaked in my lower back that makes me think a wise man would wait one more day.  I’ve never prided myself on being particularly wise, but I guess it’s never too late to start.  Did the head-stand circuit instead and I’m going to shift my training for the rest of the week by one day.  Maybe I’ll go Simi on Saturday and then the long run on Sunday.  Maybe I’ll ride up Mt. Wilson instead – depends on my mood and the weather.

The head stands are getting there.  I think it’s almost time to move away from the wall crutch and try some free standing.  Almost.  Tonight I did 30 seconds without touching the wall.  Pretty cool.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Ful Madames
    • Sauteed spinach and kale
  • Lunch:
    • Bean salad
    • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Dinner:
    • Whole wheat penne with tomato sauce and soy crumbles
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Big glass of Cabernet

Second day on the “Vegan Slo-Carb” experiment.

Breakfast was fantastic.  I’m definitely on board with a new paradigm here.  The sauteed greens with the beans was just really, really good.  The beans for lunch, also very good – I think just a little bit more is in order – another 1/4 cup probably.  I’m also really enjoying the plain, raw broccoli and cauliflower on the side.  It just tastes good, who knew?

The pasta at dinner was not slo-carb.  Whole wheat is still wheat and of course, it’s all been reconstituted anyway so it’s not really whole in any kind of genuine sense as it applies to food.  I wanted to try it with the crumbles though which really did substitute seamlessly for ground beef, in my opinion.  It also added more protein to the meal which is important right now.  Jake liked it, too.  It’s a processed food so I’m not that crazy about using it, but it could be useful and I’d like to try some other brands.  This was “Lightlife Smart Ground Original Veggie Protein Crumbles” and it was very good for the purpose.  I could totally see using this stuff in tacos, even chili.  More protein with no fat and no cholesterol so what the hell.

I’m really looking forward to breakfast tomorrow, also a good lunch ride and a good short run tomorrow night.

 

 

Day Seventy Two – Vegan Slo Carbs

Monday, November 18, 2013

EZ Recovery Day.  Feeling some effects from yesterday’s run on top of last week’s crash.  Just spun easy on the commute to and from work. I did the headstands, crows, hanging knee raises circuit tonight. I was a little worried about whether my shoulders and neck would be up to it, but they were fine and the balance continues to improve.  It’s almost becoming fun.  It’s always been enjoyable, but having a modicum of control makes it more fun.

My biggest physical concern at the moment is my left knee which I am hoping is good for a short run tomorrow night.  There is no room for error or deviation in my training plan!

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Ful Medames
    • Green Smoothie: Spinach, Kale, Strawberries, Blackberries, Hemp Protein Powder
  • Lunch:
    • Mujadara Wrap, 1/2 Bell Pepper, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cherry Tomatoes
  • Dinner:
    • Big Vegan Nacho Salad ( Romaine, Red Leaf, Cucumber, Tahini dressing, Black Beans, Guacamole, Fresh Salsa Cruda, a few tortilla chips )
    • Glass of Cabernet

I’m starting a new experiment inside the experiment this week.  I guess I have a few of those going on already, but this one is a vegan adaptation of Tim Ferris’ Slo Carb diet: No fruit, nothing white (except cauliflower), plenty of protein. One go-nuts cheat day every week.  The idea being that having the cheat day as an outlet makes it easier to be rigorous the rest of the week.  If you don’t give yourself an out, you are likely to binge periodically anyway, so you might as well plan for it, control it, use it to your advantage. The spike in caloric intake which is going to be, by default, cheap carbohydrates also helps keep your metabolic rate from dropping from lower calorie consumption during the rest of the week.

So I might have to mothball my beloved Nutri-Bullet for a few weeks while I try this.  I want to take out all the fruit, just to see what happens and I don’t think I could quite handle just spinach and kale and water in a glass.  Sauteed though, with the bean dish of the day, that would probably work.  I could still make a fruit-forward smoothie post-workout on ‘cheat day’ with protein powder…it’s worth trying for a few days to see.

I was Googling for some good ideas about beans for breakfast and started reading about Ful Medames – the national breakfast of Egypt. Fava beans sauteed with garlic, onions, spices and a little tomato ( my version, anyway ) except that in Egypt it is typically served with Pita bread and sometimes eggs.  Mr Ferris would wholeheartedly recommend the eggs, but I’m going to leave them out and the Pita is a non-starter, but I do think a quick saute of spinach and kale would be perfect.  Breakfast would be a great time to get my Dahl fix, too and I’ll probably try that next week.

It’s all about experimenting, refining, keeping what works.  Continuous improvement.

When I make a decision to do something like this, I tend to just go for it, which means I have some fruit in the ‘fridge that will probably go bad and get thrown out.  It’s not very much though.  The last couple remaining wraps in the there will have to go in the garbage, too.  I used what are sold as “Garden Spinach Herb” wraps and was curious about the carb content and makeup. It turns out that spinach does not even appear on the ingredients list until the “Less than 2% of the following:” disclaimer.  The main ingredient is Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour; one of the nastiest and most nutritionally void of the highly processed carbohydrates. There are only 3 main ingredients – the 2nd is water (seems safe) and next up  is Interesterified oil.  That’s one of the newer creations of the modern industrial food complex, made by using a chemical reaction to move the fatty acids in a blend of oils from one triglyceride molecule to another.  It’s food science, but it’s not health science.  It melts at the perfect temperature, it has the perfect shelf life, it keeps the tortilla factory running at 100% efficiency.

I made a big batch of bean salad tonight for the rest of this week’s lunches.

Breakfast and Lunch will be full bore vegan slo-carb this week. Dinner might take a little more time, but I think I can learn to offer carbs that I personally fore go. Save ’em for cheat day.

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Day Seventy One

Sunday, November 17, 2013

8.2 miles today.  My longest ‘long’ run yet. Pretty modest, I know, but another milestone for me.  I ran it really slowly.  Some aches and pains that I most certainly would not have were it not for the crash last week.  The eight miles did not really seem far but it has just not quite all come together yet and I really don’t expect that it will until December.

I stayed off the bike today to make sure I had enough legs for the run.  It’s also my wife’s birthday so I ran early and then we went to the Encino Farmer’s Market.  We haven’t really done that since my obsession with cycling dominated my weekend mornings.  Maybe I’ll find balance through running?  Good one John.

The training priority for the next two weeks is preparing for the 13.1 miles on December 1st.  5 more training runs on the calendar.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with Molasses, Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Blueberries and Agave
  • Lunch:
    • Post Run: Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, Hemp Protein Powder, Strawberries, Blackberries
    • Vegan Spicy Black Bean Wrap
    • Fresh Kettle Chips
  • Dinner:
    • Chips and Guacamole
    • Brueschetta with Tomatoes and Basil
    • 2 Double Barrel Ales
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Big glass of Cabernet
    • Strawberry Shortcake

I had a good time at the farmer’s market this morning where I filled a very big bag with vegetables for the week.  After the market we had a birthday lunch for my wife today at the “Sweet Butter Kitchen” where they had a new Vegan Wrap that was pretty good.

A simple meal for dinner tonight but I managed to stuff myself.  A little extra Shortcake didn’t help.

A little different take on the diet starting tomorrow…