Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Twitter is an awesome pick me up

Pardon the lack of formatting; I'm writing this from my phone. My afternoon at work was sort of cruddy, so I went on Twitter to post about pigeons and statutes and which one I felt like when I saw this Tweet:

Meagan (@meagwhit) tweeted at 3:21 PM on Tue, May 21, 2013: Some days Crossfit is really the only thing that keeps me going.

It brightened my afternoon. I do have a lot more going for me than just CrossFit,  but it was that reminder that made me focus on the good parts rather than the bad.

I've got a family that loves me, a warm house over my head, my health and more. I've got a full social calendar this week with my wife after work, so I've got plenty to look forward to each day.

When you're feeling like the statue, focus on the good parts of your day. Its that, "This too shall pass" truism.

Monday, May 20, 2013

FareStart Guest Chef Spectacular

The FareStart Guest Chef Spectacular is this Thursday, May 23rd.  FareStart is Seattle non-profit that provides job training and placement to homeless and disadvantaged people.  On a weekly basis, one of the many great Seattle chefs donate their time to help train the students.  Over six thousand people have been trained through Fare Start's programs over the last 21 years.

As a result, you've got a great restaurant, doing a great thing, with a variety of great chef's doing the planning.  Good food and doing a good thing, all rolled up into one.

The Guest Chef Spectacular will be a tasting event with over 20 chefs contributing.  There will be live music, espresso from Cafe Vita and ice cream from Snoqualmie Ice Cream.  Local wineries and distilleries will be participating as well.  I'm looking forward to samples from the burgeoning distilleries here in Washington.  It will be a great way to get tastes of the great food from Seattle.

Update 23 May 1pm  from FareStart.org
Tonight's Guest Chef Spectacular Has Been Cancelled 
During set-up for our Guest Chef Spectacular event at Showbox SoDo, a structural beam in the ceiling cracked. The building was evacuated safely and there were no injuries. Under the counsel of a structural engineer, the venue has been closed for the evening and we are cancelling the event. We will be issuing full refunds to all ticket holders and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We are happy to report that all food from the evening will be utilized for our shelter meal program and will be delivered to area homeless shelters and will not go to waste. We thank everyone for their understanding. Thank you.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yesterday's leftovers make an awesome breakfast

Food by Beau, photo by Heather.
Yesterday for dinner, I made lettuce wrap tacos with honey ancho Chile  glazed sweet potatoes. I still cooked 3 pounds of lean ground beef even though we were one athlete down at our house.
I was pleased to see that their were leftovers and I planned on turning them into a nice scramble this morning.

As I was cleaning my espresso machine and cooking my eggs at the same time, I got a little side tracked and my scramble turned into more of an omelet.  Still quite delicious.

About a week ago, I was preparing breakfast in the office and one of my co-workers noticed I was eating Paleo. She wasn't paleo herself, but someone on her team was, so she recognized it. We started talking about it and the health gains I have made since I started and she asked me if I ever felt deprived or bored being limited to certain foods.

I don't feel limited at all. There are so many combinations that you can make. Take my taco dinner, for example. If it wasn't in lettuce leaves and all mixed together it would have been a hash,waiting for a nice tomatillo sauce to be poured on top.  The same ingredients make a great breakfast scramble, which saves a ton of time.

Paleo - not only am I healthier but it helps me save time (with a little advanced preparation).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Automation to stop texting and driving

I've been on a big kick to leverage automation in my life lately.  I've been using If This Then That as a way to trigger actions based upon events (primarily email I've received).  I wrote a script to download some reports every week, so I don't have to spend the time to do it.  I've spent the weekend working on a software project to monitor and respond to activity on a certain social network.  This post will go online on a schedule; I wrote it Sunday night. But more on these things later.

I also spend a lot of time on the road - not travelling, road warrior style, but commuting. However, my commute is pretty pleasant for two major reasons. First, it's not that long, just a little over 30 minutes and second, I ride a van pool.  While I do drive, I don't drive everyday, so I get a good break from the stress of the road.  However, when I'm a passenger, a day doesn't go by when I don't see someone talking or texting on their phone.  On average, there is a car crash once every 5 minutes due to a driver texting!

I've had the opportunity to use a Pantech Discover from AT&T, the first AT&T smartphone designed to help prevent texting while driving. It comes with the AT&T Drive Mode application, which automagically kicks in when the phone is moving faster than 25 mph.  When it is active, most apps are blocked, most callers are sent straight to voice mail and text messagers get an auto-reply message with out any notifications.  You can white list a few phone numbers (so that your spouse can call you) and you can allow a music and a navigation application.  Any other applications are met with a screen indicating that Drive Mode is active.

In my case, I'm a passenger a lot, so I've discovered that it is pretty easy to turn it off - simply hitting two on screen buttons.  But if you're driving, it makes you think that much more "Is it really that important to check my phone right now?"

When I'm driving, my phone sits in a cup holder and now, it just sits there silently. No temptations to answer it, no temptation to increase my risk of car crash 23 times!  The phone just does its thing automatically, one less thing to think about.  That is what I really love about automation - things just get taken care of.

As with any technology, there are a few watch outs.  My wife is more likely to text me than to call, which can be problematic if she wants me to pick up something to make for dinner on the way home from work - I won't know to check the message until I'm at home, already having driven past the grocery store.  She's on my white list, so I know that if the phone rings while I'm driving, its someone worth pulling over for.

Unless you manage that white list well, you are allowing the phone to make the decision for you, rather than see who is calling and decide if you're going to stop to take the call. I do like setting contact photos so I can quickly see who is calling and make a decision if I'm going to answer or not.  They can listen to my radio while I put in my headset and turn on blue tooth.

I have fairly good self-control, unless small pieces of chocolate, easy to pop in your mouth are involved, so its easy for me to just let the phone ring or beep that someone texted me.  I've got some personalized ring tones which make me grin, so its alright to listen to them.  But if you're someone with less self-control or a new teen driver, this automation is just one more decision point - is it worth it to answer the phone.  Its far better to have your phone remind you that it can wait, rather than the State Patrol telling you.

Over half the states have laws restricting or prohibiting the use of mobile phones and in some of them, its a primary offense that you can be pulled over for.  So even if you think you're a good enough driver and your reaction times aren't impaired (sounds a lot like a drunk driver argument, doesn't it?), you're still at risk.

Automation is meant to make your life simpler, so that things are taken care of and that you can be present in the moment.  And when you're behind the wheel, that is where your focus needs to be.
Ralley Team 2007
One of my Ralley Crew is now a driver himself!

I've been overall impressed by the Pantech Discover.  At only $49.99 in all AT&T channels, it's a great bargain. Its running Android 4.0 (which is a big step from Froyo on my old phone) and has a large, crisp 4.8" screen.  With the recent addition of LTE coverage in my area, I actually didn't realize that I wasn't on wifi at home for the first few days - its that fast.  Its processor is quick, so you can take care of everything you need to do and not try to squeeze it in while driving.  With the 12 Mega pixel camera and a battery that lasts me well into the evening, you'll be seeing more pictures of my dinners rather than just breakfasts!

Disclaimer: I received a phone as compensation for this post, but the opinions are mine.  Some of the factoids were provided by AT&T, so I had to do a little less research. But come on, we all know that driving distracted is dumb and  It Can Wait!

Monday, May 06, 2013

A few paleo living tips and tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks I've come across while making the transition to paleo-ish living.  It is a little harder to eat cleaner, but these are some things I've picked up along the way. Maybe they'll help make it easier for you.

Plan ahead

I go to a 6 AM CrossFit session and I want to get as much sleep as I possibly can.  So, every night, I layout my work out clothes at the end of my bed.  I choose my work clothes and pack them in my WOD bag (hopefully I remember shoes and underwear). My kids make fun of me for being like a little school boy, but I can get out of the house and be ready for the day (lunch is also made the night before) in less than 17 minutes.

But I also make my breakfasts for the week on Sunday afternoon.  Many paleo living bloggers cook for a full week of meals and vegetables. I'm not that far along yet, but I'll grill some chicken and fry some bacon and take some avocados in to the office for the week.  I dice the chicken and bacon and warm it in the microwave and serve with diced avocados.  Even vegetarians have commented that it looks like a good breakfast!

I keep it constantly varied by changing up the spices. I can make Asian, Thai, Mexican, Italian or Greek chicken all for breakfast with different spices and marinades.  I'm not going to get bored eating paleo and I don't feel like I'm missing anything!

Be Prepared

This one goes hand in hand with Plan Ahead.  There are days when the WOD was much harder and my lunch just seems that much smaller.  But I carry what I call Emergency Food in my messenger bag.  I've got a couple of Lara Bars (almost all of them are paleo -  the ones with chocolate chips have added sugar and some have peanuts) or Goodness Knows Bars (not paleo) in there.  Sometimes they slip to the bottom of my bag and get smushed a bit, but a smushed one still fills the hole in my tummy!

My favorites are the Coconut Cream Pie and Chocolate Coconut Chew, but the Key Lime is a nice bright twist some times.  And as I was checking out their website, I noticed that there is a Cappuccino flavor that is also paleo.  Why doesn't my grocery store carry this flavor!

There is a similarity to carrying Gold Fish crackers (really not paleo) for your young children and what I'm doing, but mine isn't so crummy. And I don't whine, contrary to the ending of the previous paragraph.

Sweet Potatoes

I've recently discovered how magical Sweet Potatoes are.  The orange ones, sometimes called yams, are the ones I'm talking about. The white sweet potatoes are even more starchy and fall on the paleo to be avoided list, but the orange ones are more acceptable, especially from an athletic perspective (less so if you're paleo trying to lose weight).

Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbs for back loading and preparing for a workout.  They make great french fries (and if baked, they can be paleo).  But I knew all those things already.

What I recently discovered is that they microwave super easy and can be made into cubed or smashed sweet potatoes in my office lunch.  When topped with some bacon, dried herbs or leftover sauce from something slow-cooked they taste even better.  Once at home, I even fried some crushed sage leaves in coconut oil for pure paleo goodness on top of the sweet potatoes.

Vanilla whey protein powder

Okay, so this one isn't strict paleo but it fits in with the primal or paleo for athletes life-style.  Protein powder is an easy way to get calories and protein, especially in that critical 30 minutes post working out.  And that stuff is expensive!  Its an item on a very short list that I think that we should buy at Costco, because it doesn't spoil and its definitely a buy in bulk item.

The problem with Costco is trying something the first time. The Cytosport Vanilla Whey Protein is way too sweet, and that opinion was shared by all of my family. So, this 6 pound bag of liquid cake batter sat in the pantry for almost 6 months.  As we ran out of the Chocolate flavor and hadn't yet made the time consuming trip to Costco (there is no such thing as a quick Costco run), I started to use the cloyingly sweet Vanilla Whey protein.

I prepare my water bottle (see Plan Ahead, above) the night before. I fill it with the powder and after working out the next morning, I add the water at my CrossFit box.  I got the wild idea to put some instant coffee in with the powder, thinking it might take an edge off the sweetness.  It was a home-run! While it wasn't an excellent coffee drink, it was way better than cake batter drink. It was kind of like a frappuchino, but one that I felt better about drinking.  The slight bitterness of the instant coffee countered the overly sweet powder and made it drinkable.

Do you follow a paleo/primal lifestyle?  Share some tips that help you get by in the comments!