You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

Trying to stay active with our local box even though I am 5,000 miles away (at least that is what Google Maps says), Jaime and I have signed up with the box’s Paleo Challenge.  50 days of eating clean with zero cheats.  Yikes.  The funny thing is I have been eating really well with the Premade Paleo and finding salads with plenty of chicken or some other sort of protein on top.  I’ve seen plenty of red velvet cakes, brownies, ice cream, cookies, soda, you name it, and not really thought about twice about them.  I didn’t want them.  I didn’t crave them.  But a few days after this Paleo Challenge started on 11 September.  On Day One, the cookies in the lobby suddenly looked much more delicious.  The Coke machine I passed on the way to my room suddenly seemed really tantalizing.  The Zingers in the snack machine looked like they were about to fall through that little coil-holder-thingee and into my hand.  I made it to my room without giving into the temptations, but I was stunned by my inner voice that had suddenly turned evil and clearly against me.

But it lead me to this realization: if you have made the choice of your own volition to make a healthier change in your life, you have made a mindset shift which makes losing weight, gaining muscle, losing fat, or getting fit natural and infinitely easier.  When an external force is applied to your decision making, it is taken out of your hands and it suddenly gets a lot harder.

So what is the point of all of this?  When you are ready, make that decision to change.  But YOU have to be ready.  The only way you can get yourself into the right mindset is be committed to yourself and to your goals.  To that end, once you have made that choice, start immediately.  Don’t wait until the first of the month.  Don’t wait until after the weekend. Don’t wait until Monday. Hell, don’t wait until after the next meal.  Make the change then.  Own it.  And when you slip, and you eat that cookie in the lobby (and are disgusted with yourself because it wasn’t Otis Spunkmeyer at all… somebody put Chips Ahoy in there… jerks), you reflect on what lead you to that slip, and you get back on track right then and there.  Don’t rationalize yourself into going to Five Guys and getting the double bacon cheeseburger.  And since you ate that, you might as well go to Cold Stone.  Not that I know about that from personal experience.  Reflect on where you are and where you want to go, and start again.  Right now.


Excuses, excuses

So I have started writing this post at least four times now.  Thanks to the folks who have shown enough interest to actually write and ask where the update is.  That kind of support is amazing and awesome.  To be fair, trying to get in shape just leaves you kind of busy as it turns out.  And so does going to Six Flags and riding A LOT of roller coasters… with no lines to wait in them.  But more on that in a second.

The thing I am most excited about and was taking up a lot of my time was this CrossFit Level One Trainer Course.  I was spending a good amount of time reading the associated guide so that I could pass the test at the end of the two-day class.  I had not seen any of these courses offered in Hawaii, so when I finally received a quota for the class here in Augusta, I immediately started looking for places close by and in the right timeframe.  Atlanta had been an option, but it filled up too quickly.  The only two remotely realistic places to take the class were San Diego and Orlando.  Well, as it turned out San Diego wasn’t that realistic either.  The Orlando class was already filled, so I sent a very whiny, pleading e-mail (thanks to Jason Suroweic for guiding me down that path) asking if there was anyway I could get in.  They were super helpful in taking my $800 for the course (a $200 military discount…SWEEET), and then I had to figure out how to get to Orlando.  Which takes me to last Friday.  The folks in my class actually let me out a little early so I could make the two and a half hour drive to Atlanta (because the flight out of Augusta was $300 more which the kind folks at Best Western Mount Vernon Inn were extremely happy to help me store… in their cash register.).  So doing the math: a two hour drive to Atlanta, getting there one hour and a half hours early, the one hour flight, one hour to get off the plane and get another rental car, and a thirty minute drive to the hotel… well, it actually adds up to being an hour longer than if I had just drove.  DOH!  You live, you learn.

Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  What an incredible experience.  The coaches (Chuck Carswell, JMac, Lindsey, Courtney, Leah, and Joe) were awesome, helpful, patient, and really contributed to that whole Community of CrossFit feeling.  The information put out… and the way it was presented… made ten times more sense than the Level One Guide I had been poring over for the past two months.

Me and 59 of my new best friends.

A couple of highlights from the weekend: I stayed awake and took notes (take THAT Army communications school), I hit a Personal Record (PR) on Fran of 9:35 (one of the slowest in the class, but whatever).  Fran is 21-15-9 reps of 95 lbs thrusters (think front squat that flows into a shoulder push press) and pull ups.  And I ran 8 miles on Sunday morning before class… which happens to be the longest I have ever run in my entire life.  Took the exam and felt pretty confident walking out that I passed.  We find out in a week or so.  Needless to say, walking today has been painful and difficult.

Okay, so this has already gotten longer than I expected.  So I will post more about my excuses tomorrow.

Only eight more days until I am reunited with my beautiful wife and we can start another adventure!

Travel Week #1 Update

So I have been in Augusta, GA for about a week now.  When I take a left out of my hotel, I am greeted with Wendy’s, Arby’s, Five Guys, and Olive Garden.  If I take a right, I get McDonald’s, the Devil (Krispy Kreme), Chick-fil-A, and a whole other host of Satan’s eateries.  So long story short: THANK GOD FOR PREMADE PALEO!

I ended up getting an entire month’s worth of food which luckily has not thawed out in my fridge.  So I have gotten this question pretty often:  Is it any good?  In short, it is AWESOME.  It is like down home Southern cooking in my hotel room.  A little example of the awesomeness:

Premade Paleo after 6 minutes of prep.

So these things are set up to be one portion of protein and two sides.  The protein has ranged from the White Meatloaf to Homemade Sausage to Poblano Hamburgers.  The sides include Tomato Bisque and Sweet Potato Home Fries and Roasted Broccoli. There are so many options that they don’t get boring.  And it is hard to screw up portion control like this.

So the eating has gone well.  What about the marathon training and the CrossFit?  I actually haven’t missed a WOD or a run.  Well, I missed a Saturday WOD because my alarm decided not to go off, but it was a silly WOD anyway.  At least that is what I am telling myself.  The box has been awesome and everyone has been really supportive.  And it is huge.

The ginormous box of CrossFit 4 Everyone.

I drove to Aiken, South Carolina to get my six mile “long run” in.  I have done all of my training runs around the hotel in Augusta, and there is a serious lack of sidewalks.  And/or decent driving by the locals.  Seriously.  It is scary.  I am pretty sure they are actually TRYING to hit me.  So I drove to Aiken and found Hitchcock Woods.  It is not as ominous as it sounds except for all of the horse poop on the trails… and the six inch deep sand.   It was like running on a beach that was invaded by horses… except with trees… and no water.  Or bikinis.  I slept in late so I missed the morning run and I certainly was not running in 91 degree Georgia, so I waited until a little later in the day.  Unfortunately, I waited a little TOO long.  I started running… in the woods… at around 7:20 p.m.  I should probably point out that sunset is around 7:30 p.m.  I knew it was stupid when I started, but I was going to enjoy my new running environment.  Plus you have 30 minutes after sunset of twilight, right?  Well, I didn’t do a map study of the woods and ended up four miles into my run and still heading away from my car.  And it was starting to get dark… REALLY dark.  Fortunately, right as I hit about 4.2 miles, I popped out on a road, and thanks to the Nike+ Running app, I was able to follow the map back to my car.  

Thanks Nike+ Running!

Alright, so I have been eating clean, made it to a whole bunch of CrossFit WOD’s, and ran 28 miles since my last update.  What are the fruits of this labor?   I weigh 213.2 lbs and my waist is 38.2 inches.  The post last week? 217.6 lbs and a 39.3 in waist.  I would TOTALLY post a picture of this, but I decided to, ummm, trim my chest hair for my reunion with Jaime at the end of the month.  And I ended up shaving a little too close.  I can’t even begin to explain how awkward my chest looks right now.  Its like somebody held down a grizzly bear and shaved its belly.  Seriously.  I will prove it later this week.

Overdue Update… and Win a Fitness Prize!

Okay, so it has been a few days between posts lately.  To be fair, I have been legitimately busy. All kinds of friends have been rolling through town and all of their visits have been awesome.  Even one of my favorite people in the world, Ryan Hayes came by and WOD’ed with us.  So to make it up to y’all, I am even have a fitness-related contest.  Keep reading below.

Gassy, Jaime, and Me at CrossFit 808

And where am I now?  Augusta, GA.

Just for my own sake, I will state the date: 28 August 2012. I weighed in at 217.8 lb (from 232 lb) this morning.  My waist is down to 39.3 inches (42.5 inches).  Progress is certainly being made.  But let’s be honest, I am not going to hit 185 lbs by 19 November.  And I am pretty okay with that.  My newest app (more on that in a second) says that I can hit that goal weight by 19 December.  And in the end, I don’t care about my weight.  As I mentioned before about turning the corner, the mindset I have right now is worth more than any number on a scale.  Because I know that I am living a healthier, more active lifestyle.  Weight is just a number, but my fitness continues to improve and everything else will fall into place.

Going to school for a month in Augusta, GA, I was terrified of the terrible food choices around me.  Okay, who am I kidding… I AM terrified of the AWESOME food choices around me.  Chick-fil-A (if you are not politically motivated in your eating habits), Hooters, Waffle House, Denny’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and a metric butt ton of awesome BBQ joints all within two miles of my hotel.  It is extremely easy to fall into the “Vacation Mentality” of eating when you are away from home for a month.  So in an effort to combat this, I ordered Premade Paleo meals (  I am sure these are popping up all over the place, but these guys cook 10 Paleo meals a week, package them up, and ship them off.  If you are in Atlanta, you can pick them up or have them delivered to your CrossFit box.  If you aren’t in Atlanta, they FedEx the meals on dry ice.  And all it takes to prepare is a pot of boiling water (or in my case, a microwave).  I made the mistake in March of just eating whatever I wanted to do, and I am on FEP right now because of that.  That is changing.

CrossFit 4 Everyone

The next step that has amazed me ABOUT me is that the first thing I did after I got off the plane… and drove two hours from Atlanta to Augusta… and checked into my hotel… and took a five hour nap… is I drove straight to CrossFit Downtown Augusta and paid for one month of CrossFit classes (oh, and added the business in Yelp so I could check in every time I went).  Not only that, but they have a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class.  And since I have an abundant amount of free time, I will be checking out the free beginner’s class tomorrow… and if it is something I like, another $50 a month will get me jiu-jitsu classes.  Maybe another awesome CrossFit sport? Why is this signing up for the classes such a big deal?   When I left Japan in February, I had a big plan.  I was going to go to Arkansas and WOD with a box there.  I signed up, but it ended up being too scared/intimidated to go.  There was a box in Newport, RI that was less than a mile from my hotel room.  At least, I think it was, because again,  I was too scared/intimidated to actually go.     So not only did I sign up, but I did my first WOD with them today.  It was a blast!  It was their Obstacle Course Day with things like Ninja Warrior Challenge and Tarzan Rope Swings.  I am excited to see what the next month brings.

And not to make this post as long as possible, but I want to introduce two iPhone Apps that I have really been enjoying:

  • Lose It!  This was suggested by a friend in Honolulu (thanks Nancy Smiley!).  It is a great way to keep track of your nutrient intake and is actually how I have been logging my meals and workouts.  It also has the added benefit of being free.  While it is very similar to Tap & Track, you can actually add new foods to the App by “scanning” the bar code with the camera.  Love it!
  • Slim Kicker. Okay, so those of you that know me personally know that I LOOOOOVE gadgets.  AND video games.  So why not turn fitness into a HUGE video game.  While is a way to track your calories, it turns your fitness goals into points and rewards.  Eat something healthy?  Get some points!  Complete a challenge like cutting out soda for a week?  Get some points! For a more tangible reward, upload a picture of a reward… like that Five Guys Burger… and it is all yours once you get enough points.  It is like a boss fight that fills your belly.  Give the Slim Kicker calorie counter a try!

Okay, and now on to the contest.  Who wants to win an Ozeri Epicurean Digital Kitchen Scale?

Just leave a comment with your suggestion for a fun, creative fitness or diet challenge (like one you would add to your Slim Kicker app).  The winner will be announced after a week.  

I quit…

Okay, not really.  But at any given point on any given day, I think I will NOT go back to CrossFit.  The stress of thinking about what the next WOD will be dominates my thoughts.  The still-aching muscles cringe (i.e. cramp up) at the thought of being abused again by the folks at CrossFit 808.  I think that I can’t muscle through another workout.  And yet, I still go.  I still show up.  I’ve always thought half the battle is putting your clothes on and just showing up at the gym.  Today actually turned out to be one of the days where I only fought half the battle… I showed up.  Fortunately for me, Jaime ALSO showed up.  The 50/30/25 reps of Wall balls, Pull-ups, and Double-unders looked miserable.  I wanted to turn around and go home.  Jaime talked me through it, and just as she said in her pep talk, I was extremely glad I stuck around and finished the WOD.

On another note, I feel like I have turned the proverbial corner:

  • It is easier to eat healthy than it is to eat crap.
  • As I am planning a month long trip to the mainland, the first thing I did was set up workouts at a local box and find more CrossFit gyms in all of the cities that Jaime and I are visiting.
  • I FEEL lighter.  Does that make any sense?  I weighed in at 219.2 lbs this morning… down from 20 June’s 232 lbs.  But I feel like I could fly if I started running fast enough.  I love that feeling.

The kicker here is the mindset that is settling in nicely.  It makes everything better and makes me feel better.  It makes me feel that all of my goals are attainable.

If anybody has been checking the food and workout log, I stopped updating it as I started using the Lose It app on my iPhone.  It is a little easier to access at work and easier makes all of the difference in the world sometimes.

Being Fit is 80% Diet?

How many times have you said:

“If I could just get back into a fitness routine, I can eat whatever I want!”

I know that I have said that many, many, MANY times.  Of course, most of that was based off of 19 year old Clay’s metabolism.  With 19 year old Clay’s metabolism, I didn’t really have to workout OR eat right.  I always weighed 175 lbs.  Always.  I used to say that my metabolism got screwed up when I played lightweight football at the Naval Academy… and since we had to weigh 159.0 lbs 48 hours before every game, we were cutting weight every week.  And then I stopped playing.  And then I swelled.  However, this was also close to the time that I turned 21 years old and started drinking.  So maybe I just started getting older and drinking alcohol with little to no restraint causes a ridiculous amount of weight gain.  Just sayin’….

And then my friend Jason Surowiec told me to check out and that would put me on the path to getting back in shape.  This website is all about the Mark Sisson‘s Primal Blueprint.  I found the read fascinating, and this was when I was first officially introduced to eating Paleo.  And started wondering if CrossFit was something that I could actually do (CrossFit and the folks doing it…Charlotte, I am looking at you….were REALLY intimidating).

Of all the things breaking with conventional wisdom, the first one I read that really made me start thinking was “80% of your body composition will be determined by your diet.” Read more:

So you’re telling me that even if I just sat on my butt all day and played Halo, as long as I ate clean, I would lose body fat?  While I believe this is true, the lifestyle that goes along with losing weight doesn’t fit with sitting around all day doing nothing.  That being said, the days that I make it a point to eat clean, I end up being active and doing some sort of workout.  On days that I make it a point to workout, I am more inclined to eat clean.  Funny coincidence.


Hindsight is always 20/20…

So one of the great things about you reading my blog as I achieve my goals… or in some cases, make mistakes, poor choices, and take a couple of steps backward… you can learn from what I am doing and hopefully avoid some of the same pitfalls.  I have written about choice and routine.  I took full responsibility for falling off the wagon (or mindfully stepping off the wagon).  But I honestly don’t think I had a full understanding of my anti-progress.  I guess that would be digress.

24 July to 6 August 2012:  These are basically the days that I was on leave and basically ate whatever I wanted and while active, did not make a conscious effort to work out.  No CrossFit.  No marathon training.  Plenty of beer.  Tons of crappy, refined food.  So basically two weeks of living my bad lifestyle again.  On 24 July, I weighed 219.6 lbs.  On 7 August, once all of my friends were gone, and Jaime and I began running full sprint and jumping back on the wagon, I weighed 226 lbs.  My waist went from 39.5 inches back to 41.5 inches.  After close examination of the photos from those days (I am taking them every day), it was a very clear difference.

Today, 14 August, I was back down to 221.0 lbs.  I am hoping to be below 220 lbs by the end of the week.  So what is the point of all of this?

We will always have vacations.  Extended periods where we are away from home… in the middle of the move, long business trips. And if fitness is truly one of our priorities, we cannot throw it to the side for the sake of relaxation.  There is a definite mind set that I want to adopt for the future.  Without the mind set, it just me writing a bunch of words in cyberspace.  The proof is in the pudding.  Mmmmm, pudding.

We will always have special events: birthday parties, special catamaran cruises, bachelor parties and weddings where the drinks are frees.  While I don’t think one day will set you back like two weeks of debauchery will, we have to be aware of the cumulative effects of not taking care of ourselves.

Let’s make good choices!



So as Jaime and I reach our respective Nike Fuel goal for some special day (… we are assuming because of the last day of the Olympics… it dawned on me that I had never really touched on what an enormous and important role she plays in my life.  I could probably list a thousand different ways off the top of my head, but this is supposed to be about me getting back into shape when in reality, it is US getting back into shape.

Jaime and I (dressed up as Hello Kitty) for a base event in Japan.

On days when I am not feeling motivated to move, she is there to help.  And I am here to help her when she is not motivated.

When I am tempted to eat crap, she is there to help me make better decisions… because she cares.  And I chastise her right back.  And sometimes we just give into each other and eat crap.  But most days, we are constructively supportive.

When we are at CrossFit together, I can always feel her watching me.  And I never want to let her down by not doing my best or hitting every rep.  Sometimes she even cheers for me.  And I cheer for her, when she lets me.

As we run together, inevitably one of us does not feel like it is the best idea at the time.  And every time, we pull one another through.  And at the end, we are always grateful to one another.

And when we’ve been hitting everything hard, and the best thing either one of us can do is just take the day and relax, she encourages me to do so… and takes care of me.

What is my point?  Everybody needs a teammate.  A partner to help keep them on their toes.  Somebody to watch their back when they have the potential to be their own worst enemy.  Plenty of times in my life, it has just been a friend.  But now it is my best friend that gets me through these days.  Jaime is my gift from God (and I am not a religious man), and I am thankful for her every day.

The love of my life! Thank you for everything you do for me!


Work in progress…

So… I am working on my Paleo Zone post.  It is coming along nicely, but I don’t want to publish it until I have gotten all of my thoughts straight, acknowledged the right folks, and made it a nice one stop shop for those looking for the brighter side of nutrition.

Yesterday, I clearly did not post.  The two-a-day workouts,  I thought, were taking their toll.  I was tired.  Plum tuckered out.  It vaguely reminded me of the first time Jaime and I cut carbs out of our diet.  I was tired and mopey.  Jaime would slap me around and try to get me off of the couch.  I would flail about, arms like a wacky wild inflatable tube man, moaning about how tired I was.  And all I wanted was a cracker.  Or a piece of bread.  Or a pan of lasagna.  It lasted about two and a half days, and I am extremely lucky Jaime is still with me (don’t tell her, but she was also kind of grumpy during those two and a half days).

So I started Zoning the Paleo on Tuesday, right?   Right.  Tuesday I was tired, but still functioning.  Nowhere near the level of mopeyness as our first low carb adventure.  Yesterday, while I still had energy, I just did NOT feel like moving.  It could have been the four mile run in the morning.  It could have been the Command PT at lunch (who are we kidding, it was definitely not that… lame).  I realize now that it was more than likely my body adjusting to its optimal fuel proportions.  I was a little grumpy and groggy this morning, but by the time 2 p.m. rolled around, it felt like I was waking up from winter hibernation.  Which is funny, because I have been in Hawaii for almost four months.  P-shaw… winter.  As Jaime can attest to when she came home this evening, I was certainly not lazy.  Meals were cooked for a few days, the kitchen was clean, and the laundry was done.  I am starting to get fired up and excited about this Zone thing.

While I was cleaning the kitchen, I decided to download an audio book.  I wanted to read the Zone again, but I was cleaning.  So I couldn’t.  So iTunes actually has the audio book for a not ridiculous price.  Only 10.99.  And it was awesome to listen to.  I highly recommend it.  It is less than two hours and chock full of interesting, scientific not-being-fat goodness.  Conversely, the other book I want to read/listen to was 29.99.  Good Calories, Bad Calories.  I guess I will just read that one.

Clearly, I am excited about how I feel.  When I started the week, I was at 226 lbs (Monday).  This morning (Thursday), I was 221.2 lbs.  Gotta love two-a-days and some Paleo Zone.  But right.  I don’t care about the scale.

Two quick shout outs (I hate that term): Jaime for waking us up on Monday and motivating us to get out of bed.  And the petty officer first class who ran Command PT this afternoon:  it didn’t waste my time… and I was super grateful for that.

Day One of FEP… and running… and CrossFit

So, no big insights today.  Tonight, I am just pure, unadulterated exhausted.  I received an e-mail yesterday that kindly let me know that I needed to begin attending Command Physical Training (PT) for failing the body composition portion of the PFA.  This is called FEP, or Fitness Enhancement Program.  Since we have paid for one month of CrossFit and signed up for the Honolulu Marathon, my intention was to keep doing CrossFit four times a week and running four times a week for training….. AND attend FEP.

My schedule will look like this:

  • Monday: Run in the morning, CrossFit at 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday: Command PT in the morning, CrossFit at 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Run in the morning, Command PT at 11:30 a.m.
  • Thursday: Run in the morning, Command PT at 3:00 p.m., CrossFit at 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday: Command PT at 3:00 p.m., CrossFit at 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: Long run
  • Sunday: REST

I will be the first one to tell you the marathon training plus the CrossFit might be pushing it a little.  Maybe overtraining a bit?  Then throw in some Command PT might just throw it over the edge?

Fortunately, as many folks will attest, Command PT is weak sauce (I mean, really, six people showed up today).  So it really shouldn’t be too hard on me, unless they start throwing in some strenuous exercise.  It really is kind of sad.  If you are going to put someone on a weight loss program, shouldn’t you actually do something that will help them?  Some real workouts with some actual planning involved.  But here is the real crux of the matter.  I would suggest to you that most people who are out of body fat standards don’t have a fitness issue.  They have a diet issue.  They eat crappy food and drink the beer.  I know, I’ve seen me do it.  That is why I am where I am right now.  80% of fitness is diet, right?  Somebody back me up here.

So that I can cut out an extra four workouts a week that I feel like I don’t need, I have to get off of FEP.  To get off of FEP, I have to get my fat butt back in standards.  And like I said, diet is the biggest part.  I have already been losing weight (hopefully mostly fat), but it is time to kick it into high gear.  My answer?  I am going to Zone my Paleo diet.  I have done this before, and the weight fell off.  Because to get enough carbs out of raw spinach, I have to eat 6 cups of spinach.  That is a lot of spinach.  The key to making this work is preparation.  Preparing the meals well in advance.  Jaime and I like to do this by weighing the food, placing it in small baggies, and grabbing it whenever we are walking out the door.  If anyone is interested, I will write an entire post on the Zone plus Paleo.  I will even post my list of good, whole foods and they blocks they represent.  The only thing I need to figure out now is if I am doing Medium to Hard 3-4x per week, Medium to Hard 4-5x per week, or 1+ hours aerobic 6-7x per week.  That is a difference of 3 to 6 blocks of food.  Jaime’s suggestion is to stick with the lowest intensity choice and see how it feels for a day or two.  So that is what I will try.  This should be awesome!