Archive for February, 2010

My first foray into sugar

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday was my first foray into some serious sugar, aside from my reentry into the drinking world.

Fan and I went into NY to see a play. She’d gotten tickets for free due to cancellations to the play, Mr. and Mrs. Fitch. It was entertaining and smart, if vapid and soulless.

Before the play my first cheat at “New York’s best” diner: half the hashbrowns with my avocado / jalapeno pepper omelette. I chose no cheese with the omelette. I accidentally put half and half in my coffee. Just one, however, and it didn’t make the coffee taste better. The coffee was pretty bad, with or without cream. The company was fabulous, and the diner was fine, but I’m spoiled.

After the play we went to City Bakery. I first went to City Bakery about four years ago, and since then I gave up hot chocolate. Because there is no other place else that could compare to the luscious, creamy liquid pleasure they served.

And I had a chocolate chip cookie.

We took an extra long walk back to the train station, but that evening I went to a wine tasting for a friend’s 50th birthday party, a distributor of high quality Australian wines especially from the Margaret River. As it happens, a well known pastry chef made a buttery cake. I’d resisted successfully until I was led by hand to the cake itself.

I’d been good around the appetizers. No cheese. Some prosciutto. I’ve been around enough cakes to have experienced the mediocre, dry, plastic in a box birthday sugar fest. Once led to the chef who was receiving plenty of praise from adoring fans, I decided to have a bite. If it were a cake of exceptional quality, I’d consume. If not, I’d leave it.

As it turned out, it was pretty amazing.

I do not feel guilty. Although I completed the challenge on Tuesday, Saturday I had my first bite of sugar. I believe that I’ve successfully changed my habits. Today, I’ve remained sugar and alcohol free, but I think I enjoyed the cheats more than before – precisely because they are rarer and for special occasions.

I don’t think I failed in these choices: they were deliberate, thought out, and even planned. It wasn’t a matter of me “slipping.” I even brought an extra piece of cake back for my brother and lady.

And I didn’t even slip a bite for myself.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,

Going forward

February 26, 2010 2 comments

I completed 30 days.

I’ve discovered lots of great things:  I can replace foods that make me hungry with lots of alternatives.  I have been cooking at home.   I’m in the habit of saying “no.”

I’m sure, of course, some butter has slipped into the food that I’ve had in restaurants. Refined sugar has also probably crossed my lips as an additive and preservative. And once, I accidentally ate a mint. I did not seek to make the lives of my food handler’s crazy, but consistently made good eating decisions. I needed to practice that, and I believe I now have a discipline.

It wasn’t easy, but I had prepared with small steps over time.  Over the last 5 years I’ve given up processed sugars such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, all fast foods (with the occasional exceptions).  The bread I bought was fibrous. However, I did have some bad habits: booze, rice, waffle fries, and the occasional pizza.  And chocolate chip cookies.

What will I do now?

My diet will remain predominantly unprocessed.  It will be generally sugar free, with occasional tastes of honey, cane sugar, and maple syrup in a way I currently use salt. I intend for this to be permanent.

Now is the testing time. 

I’m giving up sugar, although I’m sure there will be exceptions.  A close friend’s birthday party may require a bite of a piece of cake.    When I go to the Fat Duck or Alinea, I will most likely try one of their desserts. But it will always be a cheat.

I think I’ll continue the way I did my first evening without the rules: I had some bread which was instead made with almond flour, rice flour, and molasses. It was still flavorful. It was fluffy and dark, between a cake and bread. And especially made for me. How could I resist?

Instead of potato chips, I’ll buy sweet potato chips and Terrachips. I’ll snack on Larabars (which I now consider delicious). Sweet Potato fries instead of fries. If I do order a dish with fries, I’ll insist that other people eat them.

After cutting out bacon in the first week of Paleo, I’ll now add it. In two weeks I’ll be getting whole raw cream and pasture butter, using it infrequently, now that Coconut oil is my mainstay. And I’m going to continue having my coffee black.

I did do one 24 hour fast, which wasn’t as hard as I thought. This will be my primary way of doing calorie restriction. Over the next month I’m going to focus a bit more on overall calorie intake.  I didn’t care about how much I ate over the last 30 days.  Sometimes I just felt like I kept eating.  But I was satiated more quickly.

I’m going to consume less salt this month and drink less coffee.

And finally, I’m going to focus on getting more sleep, which will allow me to continue my rigorous exercise regimen.

Categories: Crossfit, Diet, Food, Uncategorized Tags:

Thirty Day Log

February 23, 2010 1 comment

Weight 170 from 185 15 lb loss (post workout)
Goal 138

Bodyfat 29 from 36 7% loss
Goal 12

Waist 42.5 from 45.5 3 inch loss
Goal 36

Categories: Uncategorized

Almost Finished

February 22, 2010 2 comments

I’m almost finished.

Last night, after salsa dancing I picked up my brother at Sala. Of course I resisted having my normal glass of Rioja. I was both glad I resisted, but looking forward to a glass this week.

Over at Mark’s Daily Apple, Mark highlights the importance of sleep. For that reason this night owl is going to be in bed before midnight during Lent. Ideally I’ll be in bed before 11.

The second goal is to celebrate my 50th Crossfit WOD by April 5th. I’m halfway there.

And last, I’m continuing the low sugar, low carb lifestyle.

A quick review over the last month:

I’ve consumed no refined sugar intentionally. No chocolate chip cookies. No juices. No ice cream. However, I do suspect it was in a couple dishes and sauces I ate.

No bread, potatoes, oats, or any other grain, although one time I had to pick several crumbs off the meat of a sub sandwich from which I removed the roll. Indian food was with cauliflower, not naan or rice.

No beans.

No milk, cream, butter, yogurt or cheese. No half and half in my coffee. However, I suspect I ate food that was cooked butter.

And no alcohol.

I discovered coconut oil, spaghetti squash, mashed cauliflower, Trader Joe herring, almond flour, applesauce and coconut cream.

I feel like I was once an addict. And now I know what it’s like to taste freedom.

It ends tomorrow at 1:00pm. I’ll write what my final observations are, and how I will add what I’ve learned from Paleo into my lifestyle.

Categories: Crossfit, Diet, Food

Wings and Beer

February 19, 2010 1 comment

Every Thursday night I used to have a ritual. It begins my weekend and a local saloon offers 25 cent wings. I think they are the best wings in the county. They also have 32 beers on tap.

I often meet a couple friends there. It’s a neighborhood bar more than a meat market, and the clientele are there usually for the food and drink rather than the other clientele. It’s not a place for the beautiful people; its where you go before or after.

I didn’t miss the drink as much as what the drink seems to allow people to do: relax. It’s a social lubricant. When a conversation stops, just take a sip and start again. No need for a second of uncomfortable silence.

But the point of the 30 days was just that: to break the comfortable rituals in order to establish new ones. Already I’m discovering all sorts of foods that were off my radar: coconut oil; almond flour; spaghetti squash. I’m hunting for organic ghee, pasture butter and shiratake noodles – none of which are strictly paleo, but positive shifts in my overall diet.

I didn’t go out last night. I stayed home. I’m usually not the sort of person who will sit home and watch 24 on Hulu, but I chose to. Now I have time to rediscover the pleasures of those activities that don’t require a drink or sitting in front of a screen.

But until then, I hunt for different brands of almond flour and grass finished steak.

Categories: Uncategorized

Paleo Pancakes

February 17, 2010 1 comment

I’ve gotten a few recipes for pancakes since discussing them.

Here’s one from

1 egg
1/4 cup of ground almonds
1/4 cup of coconut milk

Cook as regular pancakes in coconut butter or other fat or if you are raw/paleo, drink it or eat as a pudding.

(author – Susan Carmack)

More Here.

This recipe came up during a google search.


Serves 2

2 whole eggs
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 apple, cored and chunked
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
coconut oil for cooking

Combine all ingredients, except blueberries, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add blueberries. Heat a large pan on medium heat; add coconut oil and cook small pancakes 2-3 minutes on each side (these are hard to flip, so when they are ready, jab the spatula underneath fast).


These will both be fun to try!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

The Feast Day

February 17, 2010 3 comments

Yesterday was Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday” or “Shrove Tuesday.”  It’s about clearing out the larder and finishing all the food that won’t keep.   It means breakfast for dinner.  Sausage, ham, and cake.  Pancakes.

I don’t eat pancakes often.  My father used to make them every weekend, so I’ve usually reserved them for special occasions.    I have never made them from a mix, and always with real maple syrup.

But I’ll probably not consume them again for a long time.

It would be penultimate cheat day.  If I decided to return once a year to a strict Paleo diet, Lent would be the season.  It just so happens that this year I started Lent a few weeks early.

So until I find a suitable replacement recipe, perhaps made with almond flour and applesauce, no buttermilk blueberry pancakes with maple syrup.

Pass the fruit salad.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll have dinner for breakfast.


February 15, 2010 1 comment

“Hey Michael!”

Michael is a trainer at the Y.  He’s a former semi-pro basketball player, and very fit.   A woman is shouting at him, trying to get his attention.   He’s obliging and addles over to the treadmill where she is walking.

“Guess what!  I decided to get healthy.”  I’ve seen her a lot at the gym, and like many of us, she is struggling with finding effective ways to get healthier.   “I bought a juicer!  Didn’t you say getting a juicer was the way to go?  My whole family’s doing it.”

Michael smiles.  “Well, Juicing is alright.”   He’s agreeable, and doesn’t want to disappoint.  “It does get nutrients into the body fast.  But…” He pauses for a second.

At one point, Mike probably juiced.  But he’s realized that this was now questionable advice.

“The benefits are that it goes into the bloodstream quickly.  But the fiber is also useful.”

“Oh.”  She thinks about the consequences of this.

“So…” he’s tries to find a way justify her expensive health food toy.  “If you can find a way to use the fiber, save it somehow, you know, because it’s also good for the body….  But juicing for some people isn’t a good idea.”


“Well, for some, juicing isn’t good at all.  Without the fiber it’s not great for diabetics.”

She looked perplexed.  “So perhaps I shouldn’t juice. At all?”  She need just a little empathy.  She was so enthusiastic.  And now the disappointment of not getting a health fad right.

“Well,” he smiled sheepishly, “if it helps you eat vegetables, then that’s a good thing.”

“I do love vegetables.”    Most likely, she’ll put the juicer away in a cupboard, and in a few years she’ll have a garage sale, and some other person looking for a way to get healthy quick will buy it for a Jackson.

I do use one of those juice extractors for cooking.  A good cook always has a handful of lemons and limes around; and it seems that if you want to have orange juice it merits putting a little elbow grease for it.    Once in a while a v-8 juice hits the spot.

Even with the salt, it’s better than a Snicker’s bar.


February 13, 2010 2 comments

Third Week

Weight:  176

Bodyfat:  32%

That’s 21 days.

I think I’m on track to hit 173, although I wonder if hitting 170 would be a bit ambitious.

I’m trying to remember that I’m not racing to lose weight.  It’s a process of my body adjusting to where it should be if I’m eating clean and pushing my body.  It’s a metric of health.  It’s useful for inspiration, as small successes lead to big ones.

There are moments where I wish it was instantaneous.  But where would the fun be in that?  To get something without working for it diminishes the value of the object desired.  Immediate results (although, to be fair, this is fast) might lead to me returning to my previous condition.

Off to the Y for a few burpees, double unders and squats.

Categories: Diet, Log, Uncategorized

Food Rules, etc

February 12, 2010 2 comments

I recently bought Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.

Several years ago he wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine about nutrition.  As he also remarked in an interview:  our knowledge of nutrition is like 17th century surgical knowledge.  He has three rules.

Eat food; mostly plants; not too much.

Food is what would have been recognized as food a hundred years ago.  That means no food that is unpronounceable, imitation foods, or foods with ingredients you wouldn’t keep in your pantry.  Or foods called the same thing in different languages.  Like Big Mac.

It is by following the first rule that I’m managing paleo.

Paleo, of course, would disagree with the second rule but agree that we should eat animals that have themselves eaten well.   He points out that mackerel, sardines, herring and anchovies are healthy, quoting the Dutch saying, “A land with lots of herring can get by with few doctors.”  Time to reconnect with my heritage, through diet.  I clearly can’t via my height.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Rule 33:  eat foods that have been digested by bacteria or fungi.  They may reduce inflammation.   This may include some yogurt, for example, and kim chi, although not together.   I’ll probably add yogurt, pasture butter, and raw cream once I’m done with the strict 30 day endurance test.

Rule 34:  sweeten and salt your food yourself.   Instead of ordering 7-up, I would use a little Rose’s lime juice and add it to seltzer.  Now its just a lime.  But this is very true:  how we sweeten and salt food is almost always less than how the food corporations sweeten and salt.

Rule 39: cook your own junk food; Make french fries and ice cream at home.  I like this rule.  Use the mandoline, a food processor – or a knife, to make pommes frites or sweet potato fries.   Use an ice cream maker for ice cream, and use healthy substitutes for sugar – like apple puree, bananas, or honey.   It’ll take more time, and will be consumed less frequently.

And rule 63:  Cook.  One enjoyable aspect of the last 30 days is that I’m cooking a lot.  I make my breakfast – and spend 20 minutes doing so.   I’m getting colors by making 2 vegetables (usually one fresh, and the other from leftovers).

It’s clearly not a strict paleo book.  However, it does offer some common sense that overlaps with the underlying philosophy.  The difference is that Paleo blames the neolithic; Pollan blames the industrial revolution.

Both, however, believe that the modern diet is killing us.

Pollan offers a slightly wider scope for eating.   He’s a little less restrictive.   I’ll probably adjust my diet a little after the thirty days, allowing for some pasture butter and yogurt on occasion.   I won’t shy away from cured bacon, even though it might have maple syrup.   I’ll taste the spaghetti sauce my brother made with the chorizo cheese sausage.

And I’ll serve it on Spaghetti.  Spaghetti squash.

Categories: Diet Tags: , ,