Monday, January 28, 2013

Starting Week 3 of the 30 Day Paleo Challenge

This week starts week 3 of Cascade CrossFit's 30 Day Paleo Challenge. I think I've figured out how to get by without my non-paleo cheats and discovered some nasty secrets about our food.

Breakfast used to be the very non-paleo oatmeal.  I've started pre-making some chicken and bacon and bringing it to the office. With half an avocado, it makes a delightful breakfast.
Another one of my cheats has been a Muscle Milk protein shake as my post workout nutrition.  The first week, I tried a fig and banana smoothie. It tasted okay, but didn't have very much protein, only coming from the almond milk.  But it seemed like it was too much (naturally occurring) sugar and not enough protein to support the crazy CrossFit WODs.

As that week ended, I thought about using pasteurized egg whites. They're safe to eat raw and several of the manufacturers have recipes for smoothies on their websites. I ended up making my own concoction and have been drinking that post workout.

Coffee Banana Protein Smoothie
1 banana, broken into pieces
1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites
1/2 cup almond milk
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cold coffee
2 heaping tablespoons almond butter 

Combine in a blender and blend until smooth.

Making the smoothie is something I have to do in the morning, so it has changed my morning routine a little.  When I was using the protein powder, I was able to put it in my bottle the night before and then add water after CrossFit.

I've also noticed that different almond butters act do a better job of thickening than others.  The all natural, only contains almonds almond butter seems to require more than my local grocery stores natural, no mix almond butter. 

Food manufacturers sneak wheat into all kinds of things.  The smoked almonds we were eating, had wheat and soy added to them.  What is up with that?  It made them non-paleo and I've switched just to roasted almonds.  Yesterday, I tried roasting my wasabi almonds.  The first batch was a bust and the second batch didn't last long enough for pictures, though the wasabi taste was muted during the roasting process. I've got to figure out how to get more wasabi in there, post-roasting, and make it stick to the almonds.  That's one of the things I'll work on during week 3, I think.

So, two more weeks to go.  With some small changes (from paleo-ish to strict paleo) and some pre-planning, eating paleo is okay. I still feel good and with as much energy as before.  Living clean takes a little bit of work, but it seems worth it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Quick script to remind you to stretch

Late last week, I hurt myself a little bit doing hang clean and jerks.  I over-extended my arm when bringing weight down between reps.  I think it had more to do with limited mobility, the fact that I drive a desk all day long and how I sleep with my arms curled up on my chest.

My coaches said my front rack needed work and I needed more mobility in triceps.  So, at home, I've been working on my front rack and triceps stretches.  But at work, I needed to make sure I did something too.  So, I wrote a quick little script to remind me to stretch every so often, with a pop-up window and an alert sound.

As a prerequisite, other than the normal packages installed in an Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop install, the
vorbis-tools package.

Find your desired alert sound.  You can find many sounds in

Create the file, using your favorite text editor.  Step it up and use vi!

# Alert with sound and popup to remind you to stretch
ogg123 /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/system-ready.ogg &
zenity --warning --display=:0.0 --text="It's time to stretch." 
exit 0

Schedule the script in your crontab

$ crontab -e

and then enter the following line
*/30 8-17 * * * /path/to/your/script/ > /dev/null >&1

The crontab entry as written will run every thirty minutes, between 8am and 5pm and won't email you success (or failure) notices each time it runs.

This script has been running all week long for me at work and its been great. I do a few stretches for my forearm, right there in my chair and by the end of the week, I was almost as good as new.  I didn't miss any CrossFit time and I was able to get through my days without pain!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Could I Be A Paid Blogger?

Ahh, the irony.  Just last week (or maybe the week before), I got an email asking if I wanted to blog for Eden's Fantasy, an online adult retailer.  That same week, my wife, whose blog does bring in some income, was asked if she would be willing to review gear for Seattle Backpackers Magazine or had any gear that needed repairing at Rainy Pass Repair, a leading Gore-Tex and gear repair company located in Seattle.
While Heather has a far greater reach online than I do, I think that somehow, we got the marketing demographics all messed up. Sure, there is a place for adult toys in my life, but I'm not sure I'm going to write about it online.  But the outdoors, I'd be super happy to try out new gear and share my experiences.  And when she mentioned gear repair, I was able to jump up and grab my hardshell pants and show her where I had a rip in the cargo pocket and in my seat.
Maybe the outdoor gear reviews were just the Internetz helping combine two of my resolutions, dates with Heather and get outdoors at least once a month. I'm not sure if she's accepted those offers or not, but I think that she should!
I turned down the Eden's Fanstasy blogging opportunity, too. So, I'm still not a paid blogger and rest assured that the toys that get written about here will be geeky or classic toys.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Starting the Paleo 30 Day Challenge

Today, I'm starting the 30 Day Paleo Challenge.  Our CrossFit box, Cascade CrossFit, is challenging its members to eat strict paleo for 30 days.  Well, as I say often during a WOD, "I can do anything for x more minutes," the same thing applies here. I can eat strict paleo for 30 days.
I've been eating pretty clean, paleo/primal for a while now and have made it a new habit.  I have 4 cheats that I've got to figure out what I'm going to during this challenge.

  1. Protein shake - After CrossFit, I have a Muscle Milk protein shake. Its convenient, because I put the powder in a bottle the night before and use water from the box. I shake it while I walk out to my car and drink on the way to the park and ride.  I get that post-workout protein and nutrition.  I'm searching the web for some protein shakes I can blend at home before I go. There's going to be a lot of bananas, dates and almond milk in my future.
  2. Blueberry Crisp Clif Bars - On the way to CrossFit in the morning, I eat half a Clif bar.  It helps pre-fuel me for the day's WOD.  I'm going to switch to Lara bars for the challenge.
  3. Oatmeal - This one is tough. I've been eating oatmeal for breakfast for years.  It helped me reduce my cholesterol and I lost about 10 pounds by just making that switch for breakfast.  Its also convenient, because I don't eat until I get to the office.  I'm going to try Paleo Butternut Squash Porridge and the Morning Glory Muffins I made.  I've made enough that should last me for breakfasts for the week and will take them to work. If anybody has any good breakfast suggestions that are non-egg and easy to take to work or prepare, please leave them in the comments! 
  4. Greek yogurt - I like the consistency of the greek yogurt and its been an easy way to round out my breakfast at work.  Since dairy isn't paleo, its out.  I'm hoping with squash and fresh berries and coconut milk that keeps me sated through the morning.
The rest of the meals, I've got covered. Lunch has some leftovers from our pretty paleo dinners. I've got almonds and apples for snacks.  Dinners are at home and paleo.  I think that breakfast has been the hardest thing to switch to paleo.
Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Just a Wednesday dinner

This week, Heather and I worked it out that I would cook dinner on Wednesday and Friday.  About mid-day Wednesday, she called me to say that she was going to make a stop at Fred Meyer, and if I needed anything, which I did.  It was all there in our shared Remember The Milk groceries list, so she said she would get it all too.  I was planning to shop after work, so it was nice that she was able to combine it to her trip.
Except she hardly shops at Fred Meyer at all and had to look all over the store for the things on my list. She told me last night that it took her past all kinds of processed foods, which she found to be really gross, as we've made big changes to the way we eat in our house.  I was grateful that she picked up the things we had on the grocery list - it was a great collaboration.
She did, however, get what I asked for on my list.  I had cut and paste some ingredients right from the recipe and didn't know how expensive they were.  I probably would have downgraded the steak from boneless rib-eye to something a little more affordable, but she went ahead and got it for me.  It was a nice steak and made Wednesday dinner quite nice.
Pan-seared rib-eye steaks with porcini and rosemary rub and roasted acorn squash with pomegranates and roasted pumpkin seeds. Photo by Heather.
Growing up, I hated squash, with a passion.  I think it stems from how the microwave was so popular in the late 70's and 80's.  You can microwave squash and its "done" in about 15 minutes.  Or you can roast it in an oven for about an hour plus time for pre-heating. The time investment is worth it.  I've grown to love roasted butter nut squash, so I decided to branch out and try a recipe from Sunset Magazine.
As we're eating Paleo-ish and I really enjoy cooking and am quite the recipe clipper, I'm always on the lookout for recipes that just happen to also be paleo.  The Roast Squash with Pomegranates, Honey and Roasted Pumpkin seeds had all the right stuff, and Heather had bought some pomegranates at Costco, so I decided to give it a try.  I'd never eaten delicata squash before and unfortunately, my grocery store was out of it.  It might be an earlier winter squash.  But I made it with acorn squash instead and it was great.  In fact, as a testament to how good it was, Kid 2 actually had seconds of the squash!
As Heather and I were talking about the steak she bought (at $10 per pound), she said that she would just season it with salt and pepper and cook it.  But I had a recipe from the Seattle Times for a porcini and rosemary rub for the steak.  Again, this recipe was paleo out of the box and was pretty easy to prepare.  It did require some marination time, but since I was making a later dinner so the kids could get home from swim practice, I had extra time.
The steak is quite simple to prepare. I ground the porcini mushrooms into a powder in our spice grinder (yes, we have a dedicated spice grinder, with a washable tub) and mixed it with finely chopped rosemary.  With a little salt and pepper, it became a rub for the steak. And a tasty, tasty rub it was.  Then, the steaks were pan fried.  We like our meat on the rare side so I did 6 - 8 minutes per side plus some time for resting afterwards.
The steak was a hit and luckily there were leftovers, so Kid 1 and I both had a pretty fancy lunch the next day at school and work!
I'm willing to bet that the rub would work well with a less expensive, marbled cut of steak. As I have enough dried porcini mushrooms to repeat this, I just might try it out.  Or if you have any good suggestions to use porcini mushrooms, leave them in the comments!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Resolutions 2013

It's that time of year when people make New Year's Resolutions. The past few years, I've not made any resolutions. I've realized that its not about setting a goal or objective, but these resolutions are about making a new habit.  Sure, they start with a goal (lose weight, get my finances in order), but whats really important is creating a new habit.

Goals and New Habits for 2013

  1. Master Double Unders - Last year I started CrossFit and I couldn't do a single unassisted pull up. I worked on them after working out and after 4 months, I could do 10 unassisted, un-interrupted. And if there are more in a WOD, I can continue, breaking them up into smaller sets.  This year, I'm going to master Double Unders (goal). Most of the time when I get a double under, or maybe 2, I mess up the next one because I'm surprised.  So, I'm going to practice Double Unders 3 times a week (new habit).
  2. Stay hydrated (goal).  Because I'm doing working so hard in CrossFit, I need to drink lots of water.  I'm going to drink 3 quarts of water a day (resolution). I've got this pretty well ingrained and I carry a quart water bottle with me all the time.
  3. Get my digital life in order (pretty generic goal).  I want to make sure I have good backups of my data and will rely on cloud storage for this.  I do want to make sure I can share my media with the devices within my house. (Not sure where the habits are here - we'll have to see how this one goes).
  4. Update my blog regularly (goal). I'm writing about once a month now (it feels less than that) and I'd like to write at least two times a month. I don't feel that I can commit to weekly.
  5. Get outside to nature (hiking, snowshoeing, camping, backpacking) (goal) once a month (habit).
  6. Eat more fish (goal).  We've started eating paleo (habit to continue) but at least once a week (new habit) I want to eat fish.  Fish are a lean meat too!
  7. Schedule monthly (or more frequent) date nights with Heather (habit).  Ironically, we met for coffee last night. What a way to kick of this new habit. 
  8. Get our finances in line.  Heather and I need to work on the specifics of this one, because this is one we'll have to take on together.  If I were the King of the Universe, we'd have a budget that we stick to and a plan to pay down our debt.

As I was writing my list of resolutions, I realized that there were some good habits that I started in 2012. As a result I've identified several habits that I want to maintain.

Habits to Maintain

  • CrossFit - I currently go 4 days a week (and run at least one of the other days). Its made such a difference in my fitness level and I'm going to continue this.
  • Reading
  • Continue to eat paleo-ish. Cheat only when its really worth it.  Its related to CrossFit. I'm feel so much better when I'm fueling myself properly.
  • Maintain inbox zero - It is the digital and managing all the inputs is crucial.  It doesn't mean I'm going to read every message, but I'm going to rely heavily on filters, Gmail's Priority Inbox, and my to do list (get it out of the inbox and on to the list to do it at the right time).  This goes hand in hand with GTD, which I've blogged about many times already.
What new habits do you want to make in 2013?