Archive for January, 2010

The Restaurant

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Before seeing Sherlock Holmes, which was quite an enjoyable movie, we went to Legal Seafood.

They asked me if I had any allergies.  Thinking of this as an opportunity, I asked for the gluten free menu.  Plenty of options.

Legal Seafood, even though it is a chain, has excellent quality control.  Their wines are excellent – even though I didn’t have any last night – and I’ve always been satisfied by their appetizers.

I was intrigued by their fried calamari, fried in chick-pea flour, but as legumes are out, for now  we chose the tuna sashimi and the mussels as appetizers.   Chick pea flour is familiar to me:  its used in plenty of Indian dishes.

We shared one entree with two side dishes:  a medium rare tuna, baked potatoes and broccoli.  They were being generous with the baked potatoes.  I took the broccoli, which was cooked perfectly, without a taste of butter.  Fan took one potato.  I brought the other home for my brother.

The challenge was really saying no to wine.   A nice Sancerre would be appropriate.

Instead, I relished in my new found sense of self-control.



January 30, 2010 7 comments

First weigh in

Weight 181

Waist 44

Loss of 4 lbs and one inch.

It was a good week.  And encouraging.

I wish it had been 15 lbs.  I’m greedy.  I want immediate results.  Of course, I’m aware this is pretty immediate.

It’s inspiring enough for me to continue for ten weeks, with occasional variations.

I’d also have to get to Crossfit more regularly.  As of Monday, I’m going everyday. Really.

Categories: Diet, Log Tags: ,


January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Last night I had a dream I was at work and started eating some curry my brother had made.  I started eating the potatoes.  And then I stopped, shocked, that I had made such an error.

But it was so good.

Later in the dream I made the same mistake.   With rice.


January 28, 2010 2 comments

One of the ways I’m managing is by changing in increments, by making small replacements.  I don’t give up the entire ritual, I just make one change that I convince myself is fairly small.

Coffee with Byrne’s Half and Half  —-  Coffee, Black.

Mashed Potatoes and Rice —-  Cauliflower, mashed

Potatoes, generally —–  Yams, sparingly.  Admittedly, I’ve not made the jump from French Fries to sweet potato fries

Vegetable, Peanut Oil and Butter —- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Beer —– Soda Water with a wedge of lime or lemon

Zone Bars —- Larabars

Chocolate —- Figs (?)  It’s better than dirt mixed with water

Maple Cured Bacon —– Applegate’s organic, sugar free bacon.

Prosciutto —- Prosciutto

Candy —- Nuts

Cheese, Crackers and Hummus —- carrots, nuts and dried fruit

Any other ideas for replacing foods?

Categories: Diet, Food, Recipe Tags: , , ,


January 27, 2010 2 comments

Once a week, every Tuesday, I have hotel food.  I’m a member of a service club that meets weekly at the Crown Plaza in White Plains.

Usually I’m repsonsible about my choices.  I have a big salad, lots of vegetables, the meat of choice and one small potato.  I usually just have vinegar on the salad.  I never have dessert, even though they have an enticing selection.  Cheesecake, chocolate fudge, and a key lime pie are the normal choices.  And fruit.

I steered away from the vegetables.  I know how they are cooked:  a pound of butter.  Usually I forgive this, but not now.   I took two pieces of pork that had no sauce on them, and scraped off what I could.   I didn’t want to take the chance that the sauce would have flour:  the normal constituent part of a deep roux.  The flavor in whatever was rubbed onto the fat was enough.

Following Paleo would be tough for anyone who is in regular social situations.  I’m involved a lot in community events.  The week before the challenge I had a Martin Luther King breakfast where they served sausage, eggs, grits and orange juice.  Two evenings later at a YMCA event, the sponsoring restaurants would serve such delicious dishes as steaks on white bread; shrimp po’ boys in hot dog buns; pumpkin ravioli; pastrami sandwiches; chicken tikka on rice.   Paleo nightmares.  Fantasies for most.

Today the service club had a big birthday party, the 90th birthday of one long time member of the club.  There was singing, stories, and a very big cake.   In this case, a vanilla butter cream white cake with a chocolate filling.

I was the only person at the table who said, “no thank you.”  I can proudly say I said it with confidence.  As I said it, I thought, I do not need those toxins in my body.

I watched them consume.  I had the fantasy of saying to them, “You realize you’re killing yourself.  You’re destroying your bodies.  You’re encouraging slavery in Florida.  It doesn’t need to be this way.”  I didn’t.  Still, I wavered between horror and envy, wanting to feel the sensation of a velvety cream frosting upon my lips and tongue.

Inevitably, some compromises will be made.  I will probably, after the 30 day challenge, have a couple vegetables, even if steeped in butter from bad cows.  But I’ll continue to refrain from the potatoes, even though they looked pretty good, roasted, salty, inviting.

Dinner I could control:  leftovers.  Cod curry over broccoli, and a spinach salad.   The curry tasted better after a couple days, the flavors mingling, and more robust.  My lady friend thought it was a little salty the previous evening, but Cod requires salt.

The work out was 5 x 5 – 185 lb backsquats.  I had a longer day, so as I didn’t go to Stamford, my form wasn’t perfect.  I’m still not very flexible on my squat, but I was able to push myself up when I let the weight push me down.  I did do 4 strong minutes of rowing, and 10 minutes of run-walking in my new Vibram shoes.

And I weighed myself.  It was encouraging.

But I’ll wait to share the details.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,

Watch Out!

January 26, 2010 4 comments

It’s easy to let habits get the best of you.

This morning I went to a coffee shop for coffee.  I went to the corner.  Poured myself their regular roast.  And instinctively, as if I were a zombie, went to the dairy section, and poured myself some milk.  I stopped after one second.

I didn’t want milk.  I didn’t crave it.  It was merely habit.

Of course, I went back, got myself a black cup of coffee.  My body moved before my mind.  It’s how I will sabotage this journey.

Then there are the hidden ingredients.  I was looking at a promising fruit and nut bar.  It had some sugar-like glaze on it so I checked the ingredients.  It wasn’t the glaze, but that the ingredients in the dried cherries and cranberries already had sugar.

It’s one way dried fruit is particularly deceptive.  Even dried fruit may have added sugar.

Check the ingredients.  For now,  I’m giving up all dried cranberries and raisins for 30 days, unless I’m sure they’re free of any added sugar.  I’m not going to feel guilty about being deceived.  I will, however, freely feel irritated.

Temptation #2

January 25, 2010 1 comment

My brother, who lives with me, made some chocolate chip cookies last night.  Inspired, my housemate went out to get some milk and made some brownies, which he left right square in the middle of the kitchen.

Normally, if I were my thoughtless self, I’d just have a piece.  Then another.  Then another.  In another time, it would have been breakfast.

Fortunately he makes them from a box.

I walked around it and considered it just another blog entry.

My brother placed the cookies up and out of sight.   Fan later moved the brownies as well.

It’s not that hard right now because I’m focused.  I have plenty of alternatives in the refrigerator.  I’ve got a half pound of sliced turkey, marinated olives and cut up carrots for snacks.  I even have Larabars.

I do not need box made brownies.  They are signifiers of all that has ever been wrong with modern food.  I reject them, no matter what instant pleasure they may give me.

No to brownies, made by Duncan Hines, placed in the middle of the kitchen.

I’m sure they’re taking bets to see when I’ll succumb.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , ,


January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

For those new to Crossfit, “W.O.D.” stands for “Workout of the Day.”

Today’s brutality was As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) in 12 minutes:

5 Thrusters

10 Burpees

Thrusters are taking a bar from the squat position and pressing it up above your head.  The arms are taut, the face forward.  The butt has to hit the ball as squat.  It’s best to use the squat to propel the weight upwards.  The bar is initially held on the chest, and the elbows are forward.  With good technique, a slender person can push a fair amount of weight.

Burpees are a combination of pushups, squats and jumping jacks.  You do the following.

1) Throw yourself to the ground;

2) Push yourself back up;

3) Jump and throw your hands over your head;

4) Repeat.

By the end of a set, “throwing” is more like “falling.”  It becomes almost impossible to get back up.

I did 5.5 rounds:  six sets of thrusters at 75 lbs and 5.7 sets of burpees (a total of 57).  It was brutal, but worthwhile.

I suspect I could have done 5 sets of 95 lbs and had better form.  The weight helps push the squat down, making one more flexible.  I played it safe this time.

Categories: Crossfit Tags: , , ,

Temptation #1

January 25, 2010 1 comment

On Saturday night, a couple friends of mine and I went to a little club in Harlem to listen to some world music.  A friend of my lady is in a group that does some pretty fat harmonies.  It’s old school R&B with a little funk.   They were phenomenal.

As it was my first evening out, I was feeling strong and mentally prepared.   I’ve been getting my mind around this for a few weeks, so on the first night,  nothing, at least nothing of the usual sort (an offer to share a bottle of 2005 Romanee Conti might … no would, be an unusual circumstance), could possibly tempt me.  I envisioned myself drinking seltzer water with a little lemon all night, and if we ate, I’d get a salad.

But when I first walked in, my eyes immediately fell on the beer handles.  They had some excellent choices.  Dogfish 60minute; Brooklyn Lager; and a couple other microbreweries that indicated some thought and taste.   My two friends ordered house wines.

The wines weren’t a problem.  It’s an unusual bar that has an excellent house wine.  They were satisfactory for the company, but a poor excuse for giving up the challenge.  I didn’t think twice.  I could tell they’d be tart single note fruit bombs.

The problem was the food.

For most of the evening it was standing room only, but after an hour we were able to get a couple seats at the bar.  Fan and Jen ordered guacamole with chips, plantains with hot sauce, and a Mediterranean plate.   This was my first challenge.

I knew that guacamole was OK.  Plantains, as well.  But the variety on the plate I would have to study.  And I couldn’t dip.  There were no veggies to dip.  Just pita bread and sesame chips.  I took one of the forks and just plunged into the guacamole and the eggplant.  Fan suggested the hummus.  In spite of it being considered healthy by most, it was still off limits.

I guessed that the pickles were sweet and avoided them.  The eggplant, however, had a sweet sensation upon my palate.  It wasn’t cloying; it was a sweetness that I guessed would come from a sort of vinegar.

This is one of the challenges of eating out:  it’s not what one knows – its what one doesn’t know.  I’m going to assume that the sweetness in the eggplant was not sugar.  Fortunately, I avoided all the other carbs that evening.  I didn’t drink anything except water, while my friends finished several glasses of an Italian house red.

Still, that night I my mind was foggy.  I felt like I had a headache, and I hadn’t had a glass.

Melissa Urban remarks that “black coffee is not that hard.”  She’s right.  But there is no getting around that one needs to be tenacious and diligent:  qualities that I’m learning only through brute necessity.  In a soft culture, it’s easy to be soft, lazy, thoughtless.  These thirty days are to learn something different.

First day, complete.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , ,

The First Grocery Store Trip

January 25, 2010 2 comments

I left the seminar rearing to go.  I’d been paid, and all the money saved by  not spending on the recent 2007 vintage of Rhone wines would be spent going to Whole Foods, the great consumer of the bourgeois paycheck.

It was on my way home.

I don’t go to Whole Foods that often.  Vegetables are cheaper at Apple Farms, and I mainly go to my local butcher for Bell and Evans chicken.  Stop and Shop usually is more economical.  Some specialty items are, however, less expensive at Whole Foods – high quality yogurt, Kombucha, and the occasional 3 pounder of strawberries.  But add a few artisenal cheeses from Vermont, Prosciutto from Italy, and Wild Salmon and a reasonable bill goes from $50 to $150.

My project was fairly simple:  get some meat, olives, and a bag of spinach for the day until I had time to go to Apple Farms, where red peppers are $.99 a pound.  Yes, they’re probably farmed using slave labor, robots, or inside somewhere.   At least the meat will be happy.

They had a few sales.  Wild cod for $11.99 a lb.  Yes, that’s a sale.  But it is wild, and the instructors ver very clear that wild is best. It was cheaper than the wild Salmon, which is probably a hundred dollars a pound by now.   A got a couple steaks, and looked for some bacon.

A few years ago, when I gave up high fructose corn syrup, I made sure I read all the labels. Just one trip to the grocery store and the educated foodie learns what an uphill battle eating right will be.  Everything has it.  It’s probably an easy way to give up most store-bought bread, because there are only a few bakeries that don’t use it in their ingredients.

The same for sugar.

I’d done some research.  One, Applegate Farms, seemed fairly reliable as a producer of organic, friendly meats, including a variety of comfort foods.    Alongside them was Niman Ranch, one of the first national distributors of heritage meats in the country.   Neither had nitrates.  Both came from happy pigs.  But Niman Ranch added one ingredient that would eliminate it from anyone following a strict Paleo diet, who intended to go 30 days on the straight and narrow.


It wasn’t corn syrup or a sugar variation.  It was a more friendly variety:  raw cane sugar; cane juice; turbinado sugar; maple syrup.  But no matter how friendly the ingredient seems, it is still the enemy.  It is still “less bad.”  It is still the toxin most responsible for our health care crisis, world-wide famine, and will bring us ever closer to the apocalypse.   Only Applegate farms eliminated this ingredient.

Sugar, the pleasurable toxin of choice, was everywhere.

Not that I’m judgmental.  I still have not yet had to resist Chocolate Chip cookies or a bar of Scharffen Berger chocolate.   Instead, I’ve replaced these decadent joys with Larabars.  Melissa, the coach, sometimes puts a health spread on them:  I might choose almond butter.   Larabars, made only from fruit and nuts, will eventually enjoy their own entry on this blog.

I was able to pass the dairy section with merely placing a dozen eggs in my basket.  I didn’t purchase the dessert-like The Greek Gods fig Yogurt.   I walked straight past their cheese station, even though I’m sure there was a block of Jasper Hill Blue waiting for me.   I didn’t pick up a six pack of Rogue, and after passing the deli for some turkey, I went straight to the check out counter.  Success for $133.47.

I might have gone a little overboard with the steaks.

But I’m at least prepared for a week.