Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wrap up and beyond.

This post is only a month overdue. Spectacular.

The bodpod results after the 30 day tests were unbelievable. I lost 5 pounds overall, however 7.1 pounds of that was honest to god fat, the other remarkable thing was I gained 2.2 pounds of lean body mass (i.e. muscle). That's the holy grail as far as body development goes. Usually if you lose fat, you lose muscle. If you gain muscle, you gain a bit of fat. Very rarely do you do both at the same time. The astonishment on the bodpod assessor's face when she read the results was totally worth it.

So what have I been doing since?

It was 4 days till beer. I drank my first beer on day 5. Sadly it was a Fat Tire ale, and while I enjoy Fat Tire, it wasn't the Sam Adams Boston Lager draft I was searching for. It was spectacular though, and I caught a buzz off of a single pint. I followed it up with a glass of Macallan 12, which was also spectacular, then sat there drinking water for an hour feeling like a total wuss.

I've stayed mostly Paleo since then, just having the occasional beer. I had pasta a few times in the last month, no real dairy to speak of, and haven't really deviated from my Paleo menu. Of course I was eating roasts and roast chicken mainly before, just with no reason behind it. I'm used to black coffee now, so that's how I take it. I wasn't a big pop drinker, so I haven't had any outside of Captain and Cokes.

I did totally go off the rails the week of Thanksgiving, and paid a price for it. I took the week off from work so I sat around, ate what I wanted (pasta, really bad chinese food) and drank what I wanted (quite a bit of those aforementioned Captain and Cokes). The result? I think I gained about 3 pounds of fat back, plus an overall feeling of malaise. I restarted a self-whole30 challenge on Monday and with the exception of the guys in work's cafeteria accidentally making my omlette WITH cheese, I've been doing well. Yeah, it's only 4 days in, but hey, it's still progress.

I ate only 1/3 of the omlette with cheese, thinking that some food would be better than no food before heading to CF, but I was met with a staggering stomachache about 2 minutes into the cheesefest. My digestional tract was in agony the rest of the day.

I've mainly been making roasts. I should really get a chicken again soon, because I'm fearing the day I say "THE HELL WITH YOU ROAST!" And then all I'll have is chicken. "Good" pork is so unbelievably expensive it's prohibitive. Two pork chops for $10. I can't afford that. It's offically "Minnesota Winter" with the 14 degree high temps and the where-did-my-testicles-go-oh-look-they're-in-my-body-cavity windchill. In other words, there goes grilling for the season.

My low peak weight for the challenge was 187.3 (bodpod) and my current weight, roughly a month after that, is 190.5 (this morning). I think with this current 30 day trial I might be able to get down around 183 or so? Adding some muscle, losing some fat? There's also another 30 day gym challenge starting on January 1, which I think I'm going to partake in as well. What the hell, right?

It's not like I hear chainsaws behind me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Four more days till beer.

This weekend is going to be probably the hardest of the whole challenge. Not because it's so close to the end of the self-imposed dry spell, but because it's Halloween weekend, and Halloween means parties.

Here I sit, up bright and early (for me at least) at 11 AM. I've cancelled on at least 3 official parties that I know of for Halloween. I'm planning on going to Dunn Brothers, getting some freshly roasted beans, grinding the shit out of them, and then making coffee. And then drinking coffee all day while bouncing between various video games. Aside from that, no plans. If I were to go out, I'd end up with a beer in my hand within 15 minutes. I know I'd cave. I know I'd want to have fun.

I'm not the type of person who goes out to a bar and sits around drinking soda water and has a good time. I've gone 6 months without drinking before, just as an experiment, and what I found is that hanging around while other people get lit up isn't much fun for me if I'm not joining them. It makes me bitter that I'm not having any fun, then I get dark, sullen, and am generally an asshole to be around. I don't like hanging around with people like that, so why in the name of all that is holy, would I want to voluntarily foist that kind of asshole on other people? Short answer? I don't. So I'm not.

I can hear the arguments now. Oh man, if you can't even go NEAR a bar you must be an alcoholic! If you get irritated that you can't drink you MUST be an alcoholic! If you have ever displayed any enjoyment of tasting any alcoholic beverage EVER you MUST be an ALCOHOLIC. Fuck that, seriously. I have a fridge full of arguably the tastiest beer in history - Surly Wet and SurlyFest. It's been staring me in the face for three weeks now. Not a drop has been touched. I have wine in the fridge. It's still there. If I were truly an alki, it wouldn't have survived a day.

If I were pregnant, or had heart problems, or were under 4' 6" tall, and these conditions prevented me from riding roller coasters, why in the fuck would I agree to go to Cedar Point Amusement Park, the roller coaster capital of the world?

The diet's still been pretty easy. Between making a couple batches of PaleoCrunch for snacking, a few roasts with onions, carrots, sweet potatos, and some stir-fries, I'm down 6 pounds. I'm guessing it's all fat loss as well since my performance in the gym has stayed steady if not improved slightly. I can really tell when I accidentally miss breakfast now, though.

My long term plans are to stick with the Paleo thing, but mixing in a little bit of beer, and refined sugar in the form of Spree and KitKat here and there. I think I'll probably end up around 95% clean. We'll see how I actually feel once I start introducing the cheat stuff back in.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This is easier than I thought.

Day 17. Aside from cheating slightly and eating 10 Spree candies last Saturday night while playing Star Ocean: Till the End of Time for 12 hours straight, I've been pretty damn consistent. Well, wait. Today the omelette guy made my omelette with cheese. I didn't catch it until I was already at my desk and shoving it in my mouth. It's weird. I thought there'd be some sort of crazy celebration in my mouth about finally getting to eat a dairy product, but it was really underwhelming.

More like I didn't really want it there. Plus this afternoon it's kind of wreaked havoc on my gut. I'm still holding strong to the no alcohol policy, which has become quite easy since I've stopped socializing with everyone. Example? I spent last Saturday night playing a Playstation 2 role playing game made in 2003.

Meat + Veggies + Nuts + a little fruit here and there. I'm between 189 and 191, depending on the day. I don't think I've seen any significant fat loss via percentage, but I feel slimmer and I think I look slimmer. I haven't puked from a workout since starting this diet, which is pretty amazing. I also am performing well too - yesterday I pulled a deadlift PR - 440#.

I'm going to drink my beer and buy my scotch when this is all over in 13 days, but I think I'm going to stick with the major tenets of this diet. It's really easy to do, and I've kind of lost my appetite for greasy fried horrible processed foods. I can't keep the super organic route going on, since it's pretty cost prohibitive, but I think I'll be okay.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 9

Nearly a third of the way there. It's been a pretty good journey so far, no crazy revelations, no fat melting off my body like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Tonight I roast a chicken, tomorrow I roast a chuck roast again (only this time I broke down and bought corn fed beef because the natural food store was out of chuck roast).

That should get me through the rest of the week as far as lunch and dinner go. I've been eating 3 egg mushroom/onion/ham/no-cheese omelettes from the work cafeteria for breakfast. They're really tasty, especially since the line cook makes sure to caramelize the onions a little bit so finding them is like finding little pieces of candy hidden in the egg. It rocks.

Lunch has been leftover soup one day, the remaining bland carnitas ribs yesterday, soup again today. Each time I've supplemented with an order of steamed veggies, mostly broccoli, from the cafeteria downstairs. It's easy. I ate more ribs for dinner Monday night along with some veggies, yesterday was a grocery store chicken (I ate half of it) and a steamed pouch of broccoli. Tonight is citrus roasted chicken again. I don't miss sugar all that much, but I do miss Spree. They're my crack. Not the soft chewy Spree you see everywhere, nah, the crunchy Spree. The original. The best. 21 days more and I can Spree until my head explodes. And beer until my head explodes. And Schwan's Peppermint Chip Ice Cream until my head explodes.

Actually, since I'll probably not have a tolerance anymore for anything, I can see one scoop of ice cream turning me lethargic, one can of SurlyFest turning me caustic, and then one box of Spree turning me into a hyperactive 9-year old dropped into a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit filled with puppies.

I went to bed at 10:30 last night because I suddenly felt tired as hell. Usually I'm up until midnight, or 1 AM on a "have to finish this episode!" day, but I was just sapped. Slept until the alarm went off at 7:30 AM, whacked snooze until 8. I was able to pull off 3 1-mile runs today, which for me is an amazing feat. My times were 8:28, 9:02, 9:26. I also was tested at the gym by another relatively accurate fat measuring device - the one that runs a small pulse of electricity through your right wrist and right ankle and checks the resistance to give you a result. I'm really curious how it will compare to the BodPod.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Failure of an Epicurian

The crock pot carnitas turned out horrible. Not because I did anything wrong - it's just the recipe leaves a whole lot to be desired in the actual flavor category. Observe - http://whole9life.com/2010/08/steal-this-meal-crock-pot-carnitas/.

I don't cook much with powders. Not if I can help it. That may or may not be where this thing goes awry. Oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin. The peppers didn't add any flavor and the broth ended up a thin tomatoey mess. The pork, after being cooked for 8 hours on low in the crock pot, did turn out tender and juicy, but it tasted almost as if I cooked it in water. I tried to salvage it by pulling the pork off, scooping some of the peppers and onions and such into a large leaf of lettuce like a taco, then dipping it in some fresh salsa. No dice. It was far too watery to stay in the lettuce properly. So then I just stabbed pork and dunked it in salsa.

I'm Minnesotan. Born and bred. For ME to call something bland it has to be the flavor equivalent of licking plastic. Not even colored plastic. White plastic. The house smelled good, which was an even bigger let down when I went to eat it. Plus, the two pounds of organic pork ribs cost me about $20 which tweaked my nether regions.

Proposed fix - drop as much of the spice powder bullshit as possible. Fresh chopped garlic, fresh chopped oregano. Substitute a couple chili peppers or jalapenos for the chili powder. Cumin's not really something you want to grind yourself so I'll accept that as a powder. This dish needs heat and it needs depth. I think that'll fix it.

I don't know when I'll be able to afford to try this again. The cost difference between the natural pork and factory farmed pork is so great I might have to just knock pork off for a while. Same with the "better" cuts of beef. Sticking to chuck roasts might have to be all I make for a bit. Chicken is about the only good deal for organic stuff I can find. Chicken and eggs. I'm seriously starting to question exactly how large of a benefit natural meat is over supermarket meat. In principle it sounds like it's worlds apart. But can my body tell the difference? If so is it a 5% better-for-you difference? 10%? Is it even quantifiable? I'm having to buy cuts of meat one at a time because I can't afford to buy a quarter of a natural cow, or a half a natural pig, and keep it on hand. That's like a $300 - $500 investment.

I'm going to make chicken soup for myself today using a pack of legs I got from Valley Natural and just not adding the noodles at the end so it's Whole9 compliant. Otherwise all it's got in it is chicken, carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery, salt, pepper, and sweet basil. The way I make it you end up with a bit of of broth and a metric ton of vegetables per bowl, plus some chicken, so it sounds like it'll hit all the different areas I'll need it to for this challenge.

Day 6 - 24 to go.

Friday, October 8, 2010

But I thought I hated curry?

I must've had about four different tries with curry. Each time I'd get cajoled into going along with my friends to some unknown Indian restaurant, I'd order something that seemed to be the safest for a bland-paletted white boy and it'd come crusted in curry. I've read over and over that there are thousands of different curries, but this seemed to me to always be the same kind. Like there's only one Curry Depot in Minnesota and all Indian restaurants order from it.

I HATE that kind of curry flavor. The sauce is a type of bright yellow you don't find in nature and it's got an underlying pungency that tells you you're in for the kind of night where your toilet seat leaves a large red ridged ring around your ass.

Flash forward about 18 months since my last Big Wheel ride into Currytown. I found a recipe on the Whole9 site titled "Steal This Meal - A WokTastic Stir Fry." Link - http://whole9life.com/2010/07/steal-this-meal-a-wok-tastic-stir-fry/. I love stir fry. I love asian cuisine. I love everything that doesn't involve fish sauce (which means quite a bit of vietnamese cuisine doesn't appeal to me but I would knife fight a baby to get at some vietnamese spring rolls). In other words, right up my alley. Since I just linked to the recipe I'll let that do the talking and just describe what I did.

I went shopping at the Valley Natural store. This time it was way more expensive. Evidently making roast = cost effective. Making pork based stir fry with organic vegetables = $30. Gah. On top of that there was some other stuff I had to pick up since I found a follow up recipe I wanted to throw in the crock pot - pork carnitas. I also needed coconut oil, another chicken since I was there, and the thing that made the stir fry meal - Coconut Aminos.

I'll get to the Aminos in a minute. I'm not even sure I'm supposed to capitalize Coconut Aminos, but since it is probably going to singlehandedly make this Whole30 trip bearable, I will.

Took me about 15 minutes to wash and chop all of the veggies. I just chopped, moved the chopped stuff off to the side of the cutting board to make more room for chopping, and it turned out to look pretty cool when I was done. It wasn't intentional but it looked so awesome I took a picture. Yes, that's my Wusthof 12" Chef's knife up there. I feel like a food Jedi every time I hold it. It'll cut through everything except for another Wusthof.

After that, I cubed the pork chops. The $10 for 2 of them pork chops. Gah. Brought out the wok, dropped 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the bottom of the wok and I was off to the races. The recipe calls for garlic powder. Seriously? Garlic Powder? The whole point of this exercise is to make us eat good, whole, natural, super organic food and you're using garlic motherfucking POWDER?! A head of garlic is like a dollar. Chop that shit up and add it.

I added the pork and the garlic first to give them a head start. My cubes were a little larger than 1"x1" so I wanted to make sure they had time to cook through and not kill me. A couple minutes of stirring and frying and then I dumped the veggies in. Now I don't know where this guy who came up with the recipe buys his woks, but I could only get about half of the total veggies in there. I also probably should have only had one pork chop, but I'd already added all of the pork. If you have a wok that can double as a cauldron, you'll be okay. If not, chop everything, halve it, and then stick the remainder in the fridge because you're going to be jonesing for this around 3 AM. Then you'll have to get up and make it while watching Snuggie informercials.

I did use cayenne pepper to spice it up, but next time I think I'm going to see if I can't find a jalapeno or some other more asian-ey red pepper to chop and use fresh. It gave me heat but no flavor. I bought a tin of Watkins organic curry powder and didn't use any additional turmeric. The curry powder is pretty strong - I used maybe 1/2 tsp for the whole wok and it was very curry-ish. Not at all the same "MEGAHOMOGENIZEDCURRY" flavor I'm used to having my stomach turn at. It looked like I was about to make an actual curry. Then, my brain says, hey, you should throw some Aminos in that shit.

Thank you brain, you rock.

Here we go. Coconut Aminos. How you can get a soy sauce out of a fucking Coconut tree is beyond me. But they did it. In fact, I like its taste even more than I do my standby brewed Kikkoman. And Kikkoman is GOOD. It's not nearly as overpoweringly salty. I poured about a quarter cup of Aminos in it, and that woke everything up. The pepper, the curry, and the Aminos worked together to make a brilliant complex sauce. A bit indian, a bit asian. 100% WIN. Oh yeah, Aminos were mentioned on the Whole30 site so they're Paleo-acceptable.

I kept stirring and frying over medium high heat for about 8 minutes or so. I think next time I'll let it go on med high for another couple minutes to decrisp the veggies some - they were very crisp and it was hard to stab em with a fork. Then, I think I'll drop it to low and let some of the liquid reduce to make a much thicker sauce. With the onions and the tomatoes and all the other veggies, it was pretty thin after I turned the heat off. Thin, but full of flavor. Normally I'd just add a bit of corn starch to thicken it up but I think that's off limits for Whole30. Maybe not - I don't rightly know.

I ate 1/3 of it for dinner, while watching another episode of Law and Order. Then I ate another 1/3 of it for dinner. I was about to polish off the remaining 1/3 but forced myself to quit since I needed food for work tomorrow... Er... Today. It heats up well too. I poured a small dish of additional Aminos to dip the stir fry in as I ate it.

I think next time I'm going to get some fresh ginger and grate that in there too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BodPod and the OH SHIT moment.

Well, the good news is I found my motivation to see this Whole30 thing through to the end. The bad news is that I am a fucking fatass. I have a certificate to prove it. Well, it's really a printout from the BodPod (http://www.recsports.umn.edu/fitness/assessment.html) - a hyperaccurate body fat testing thing that a few of my friends and I decided to do.

We headed down to the University of Minnesota Rec Center, which has changed in the (dear god I am old) 11 years since I graduated. First off, I usually came to the Rec Center from the west, since I lived on the West Bank. Second off, I did it on a bike. Third off, college chicks seem hotter now to me and that confused me. I had to use my Google Maps on my iPhone to guide me to the building. Kind of sad.

The Rec Center is where all the hardcore physiologists hang out. It also houses the two gyms on the Minneapolis East Bank campus. We didn't have a gym on the West Bank. We had the music hall and a library, and the dance studio, and all of the art studios. There was a lot of, uh, pride on that side of the river. It was also where my dorm was. I picked it because they had semi-private baths. The idea of communal bathrooms, even 11 years later, still doesn't jive with me. I hope it never does because I don't ever want to be one of those 70 year old guys who just wanders around the gym locker room naked for hours on end. It's like one day modesty just goes out the window at the behest of some crazy popup turkey timer in their brain. POINK - Hey, this large fluffy towel whose logical place is wrapped around my waist now belongs Burgess Meredith style across my neck like I'm cornermanning Rocky Balboa. An addendum, my balls are now named "Apollo" and "Creed."

I'd been using a handheld Omron body fat monitor for a while now. I just grabbed the handles again to see what it said - it read 23.7% body fat. That's not so bad. A ways to go, but still not so bad. I clambered into the BodPod, sat there in a spandex cap and my stretchy underarmor underpants and just hoped to hell that I didn't rip ass in this airtight container. It was over in about three minutes.

Afterwards the results came in. That's the aforementioned fat certificate. My results:
% Fat - 31.4
% Fat Free Mass - 68.6%
Fat Mass - 60.171 pounds
Fat Free Mass - 131.633 pounds
Body Mass - 191.804 pounds

This puts me in the "risky" body fat rating. Now, here I thought that at my fattest I'd only ever been about 28% body fat. I grossly overestimated my lean body mass. My first thought was "How fat was I before I started CrossFit 14 months ago?" I knew my blood work was a mess. I knew I couldn't do a single pull up. I was borderline Type II diabetic. My blood pressure was hideous. I was in bad shape.

I was in bad shape and thought I was 28% fat. Then the BodPod tells me after losing 25 - 30 pounds, eating clean (okay, much more clean than I had been), kicking ass day in and day out at CrossFit, I'm 31.4% fat. I knew I had a way to go but that was just demoralizing.

I did some math. Granted I was an English major but I still know how to work a calculator. Body fat percentage is pretty simple. Divide your lean body mass (131.633) by your total body mass (191.804). 131.633/191.804 = 0.686. Now take the result and subtract it from 1. 1-0.686 = .314. You can multiply that by 100 to get your percentage. .314*100 = 31.4.

So there's three scenarios that I figured I could test out. The first is to assume that I've had the same amount of lean body mass (i.e. muscle, skeleton, tendons, organs) ever since I started CrossFit. So therefore the only weight I lost was pure fat. Let's call my starting weight 217.5. I fluctuated between 215 and 220 around that time, so right in the middle is good enough for government cheese. I won't show my work because this is a goddamn blog and I'm not in 9th grade anymore. I have the same sense of humor, but I'm not in the 9th grade anymore.
Result - 39.5% body fat (131.633 lean body mass, 85.867 pounds of FAT).

The second scenario is that as I was losing fat weight, I was actually gaining muscle through working out. I am much much stronger than I was 14 months ago. For this scenario, let's assume that I gained 10 pounds of muscle through CrossFit as I lost the fat. So that would mean I started with 121.633 pounds of lean body mass.
Result - 44.1% body fat (121.633 lean, 95.867 pounds of FAAAAT).

The third scenario is that I gained 20 pounds of muscle over the last 14 months through CrossFit. The quick googling I did said that the upper register of lean muscle growth is 25 pounds per year. I have 2 months extra to work with. Even so, I admit this is on the "upper" register of change. So. 111.633 lean body mass...
Result - 48.2% body fat (111.633 lean, 105.867 pounds of FAAAAAAT).

Deltas of the three scenarios:
1) 8.1% bf lost. 25.7 lbs of FAT lost.
2) 12.7% bf lost. 35.7 lbs of FAAAAT lost. 10 lbs lean mass gained.
3) 16.8% bf lost. 45.7 lbs of FAAAAAAAAT lost. 20 lbs lean mass gained.

My overall feel is that what really happened is somewhere between scenario 2 & 3. I was filling out a 36 waist uncomfortably when I started. I probably should have gone up to a 38, but my ego wouldn't let me. Now I'm a little too big for a 33, but need a belt with a 34.

Seeing 31.4% as the current level has erased all of my anger and cravings and doubts about trying this diet. I have a longer journey to go than I thought I did. Not that it scares me, more that it just motivates me. I'd love to be down to 10% body fat and ripped like Jesus (I love Greg Behrendt).

Assuming my current rate of loss is, oh, split the difference between 16.8 and 12.7 - call it 14.75% body fat loss per 14 months. A shade over 1% a month. I have a year and a half to go before I can rip my shirt off at the beach and people will be all like "Man, is that JESUS?! Oh wait, nah, that's just Kevin. Nice 6-pack though." Getting to 10% will take 21 months.

Even though I wore a lab coat for these calculations (and only a lab coat) I have to say these aren't scientific at all. I have a follow up appointment after the Whole30 challenge to head back to the BodPod. Perhaps I'll actually lose a lot more body fat doing this than I'm expecting. Oh well, till then me, Apollo, and Creed are going to hang out at the Y for a few hours.