One Year Reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay.   My bad.  It has certainly been awhile since I have posted, but that does not mean I fell off the wagon.  Okay, maybe I fell off the wagon for two weeks while Jaime and I were on the mainland for a vacation, but even during that vacation we were still hitting CrossFit most of the time.  So stop judging me with your eyes and your judgy expression.

What?  You don’t believe me?  Fine, we will jump right into the meat then.  The below picture is from the CrossFit Oahu Nutrition Challenge Jaime and I participated in from 15 January 2013 until 28 February 2013.  Yes, I had a ridiculous mustache and I might have, ummm, trimmed my chest hair down a bit, but you probably would to if you lost approximately 20 lbs.  The key numbers here were 8 lbs of fat lost, 9 lbs of water, but I also lost 3 lbs of muscle.  WHAT?!  I am CrossFitting my face off and I lost 3 lbs of muscle.   Turns out you are supposed to eat closer to the end of your workouts.  And I had also been moderately training for my first sprint Triathlon which was on 2 March 2013 (I finished… at around 1 hour and 20 minutes… it was fun).  Lesson learned.  You can read what I wrote about this challenge here:  http://crossfitoahu.com/blog/2013/03/paleo-success-despite-multiple-special-occasions/

2013Challenge

So this is what I looked like BEFORE we went on the two week vacation.  Fortunately, there was another CrossFit Oahu Nutrition Challenge that literally started the day we got home.  The great part about it was an immediate shift back to our healthy practices.  The bad… well, it turns out that I am beginning to get sick of the nutrition challenges.  Jaime and I eat Paleo a good 90% of the time, and sometimes you just want a beer.  And on a nutrition challenge, you don’t really have that option.  And I like options.  So here is what I looked like after coming back from the mainland.

SpringBefore

 

Not TOO bad, but there was a certain amount of fitness decay there.  This is a great example of how your diet is crucial to your weight loss or even just maintenance of where you are.

And now for the grand finale.  I will write more about this, but I finished my first Olympic distance Triathlon (1500 m swim, 26 mile bike ride, 10K run), the Honolulu Triathlon.  Jaime came out to support me, cheer me on, take pictures, and in general, just be awesome.  She excels at those things.  I trained with Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so I got a cool purple singlet and tri shorts.  Jaime took some photos, and as usual, I was pretty critical of myself about how I looked in spandex.  And I thought to myself, “Self, I wonder how much I have changed in the past year.”  It was a great opportunity to dig through some wedding photos from almost a year ago.  I was amazed when I set them next to each other.  Since we got married on 14 April 2012 (the picture below on the left is at our reception), Jaime and I have run a half-marathon, a full marathon, and a sprint Triathlon together.  I have done an additional sprint Triathlon and today’s Olympic distance Triathlon.  I felt pretty good about what I have accomplished, but wasn’t quite ready for what comparing the two photos meant.  Holy balls.  Clearly, I didn’t realize how far I had let myself go (from 231 lbs on the left to 205 lbs on the right), and I owe my beautiful wife a HUGE apology for not taking better care of myself leading up to our wedding.  The good news: you can see in the pictures how good she is for me and what an inspiration she has been for me.  I recognize I have a ways to go, but this is a hell of a start.  Thank you, Jaime!  I couldn’t have accomplished all of these things without you!

 

Year One

 

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CrossFit Tomato, CrossFit Tahmahto

Finally on time, I show up to the box.  Inside is full of sweaty people throwing barbells around, grunting, looking miserable.  Wisely, I decide to stand outside.  There are two small groups of folks hanging out.  A couple look like they have already completed their WOD (workout of the day), a couple more look like they are getting ready for the 5:00 p.m. class, like me, and a few look like midgets.  Okay, maybe they aren’t midgets.  They are toddlers running around waiting for their parents to finish getting their sweat on.  As I stand there, nobody says anything.  Well, they are saying plenty but not to me.  They don’t acknowledge that I have walked up.  Conversations come and go.  I awkwardly try to insert myself here or there with a slight chuckle to a joke or (I am having to fight the urge to write “light up a smoke”) smile and nod with a conversation.  More often than not, most of these quiet intrusions are met with an equally quiet glare and a stalled dialogue.   Got it.  No talky to me.  One of the coaches walks by, and I receive at least a glimmer of recognition.  More awkward time passes.  The gym owner walks past.  Nothing.  I feel dirty.  I feel like something is wrong with me.  I wonder if I am not local enough to be at this particular box.  I haven’t felt this uncomfortable since just after gym class in 7th grade when that kid Derrick was punching me in the face for accidentally pumping into him an extremely large crowd of other 7th graders (By the way, eff you, Derrick… eff you).

10 minutes early for the 5:00 p.m. class, I walk up to the door and am immediately greeted with an enthusiastic fist bump from one of the coaches.  To be fair, I am that guy that STILL goes for the high five because I am apparently ridiculously old, so I find this unprompted fist bump to instantly make me feel cooler and like I fit in.  Inside is full of sweaty people throwing barbells around, grunting, looking miserable, but some of them actually appear to be smiling and joking around about how much it sucks.  There are a couple of small groups milling about next to the desk and some benches set up for people to sit on while they wait. As I walk up, all of the individual groups turn to welcome me.  Some quick, witty banter, some non-obligatory laughter, and I get more of the feeling that I have joined a group of friends at a social establishment.  Another coach walks by and asks how the “Nutrition Challenge” is going.  Asks about my wife and if she is going to make it today (right… like she would let me get one workout ahead of her).  I don’t even think about Derrick from 7th grade, but if he were there, I am pretty sure I would kick his ass in a WOD.  Stupid Derrick.

Two CrossFit boxes with about eight miles in between them, but worlds apart.  Jaime and I recently did CrossFit Elements for the second time in about six months with a new CrossFit gym.  On one of our training runs for the marathon, we happened to stop in because (a) it is closer to our house and (b) see the first paragraph of this post.  From that 15 minutes we spent in the gym, the next time we came in three weeks later they knew our names, asked about how our marathon training was going, and whether or not we wanted a beer. Contrast that with Elements in June, working out three to four times a week in July and August, and then having to leave for a month, and show back up to a box where maybe two folks asked where I had been, the coaches and owner ignored me when I showed back up to work out.  If you add on the fact that I had lost about 15 lbs in the time they hadn’t seen me, and no one noticed, I was particularly crushed.  We were in the middle of marathon training, paying for unlimited WODs, and going twice a week.  I do want to say that this is not a blanket statement for everyone there.  There were certainly a handful of awesome folks who brightened some of the dark corners, but they couldn’t overcome how uncomfortable it was to just be there.  And this place was DEFINITELY the right choice for some.  But not for us.  We needed better coaching to get better and somebody to take interest in our progress.  And maybe laugh at a joke every now and then.

I could go on and on about the differences, but I will leave it at this.  If you are interested in CrossFit, choose your box wisely.  Each one has its own soul and personality, and it has to fit yours if you are going to find any real success.  I feel incredibly lucky to have found CrossFit Pearl City (part of a CrossFit conglomerate on the island… five other boxes and each one of those has a different flavor, too) and in particular, Coach Juggs.  I will stop here, because I am positive I will write more about this in the future.

89th Day Update

So I started this blog on 11 July (well, I ACTUALLY started it sometime in 2011, but I REALLY started writing on 11 July), and it has been 89 days since I began my fitness journey.  I started with a clear goal in mind and an end date for when my fitness adventure would come to an end.  And while I still have my goals in sight and in mind, they are no longer the end of the road.  They are just sign posts along the way.  Mile markers on the highway of my fitness life.  When I get to 185 lbs, I won’t suddenly stop eating Paleo.  I am not going to give up on CrossFit.  My adventure continues and my new goals become inspiring, helping, and motivating others.

So where am I right now?  Take a look:

108 days of change: 29 June to 8 October

108 Days of Change from the Side: 20 June to 8 October

This morning, I weighed 211.6 lbs.  My waist was under 38 inches (37.9 inches to be accurate).  That means I am within limits for the Physical Fitness Assessment.  Woot!  The beginning numbers were 232 lbs and 42.5 inches for your comparison.

To add some cherries on top, Jaime and I ran 12 miles this past Sunday.  I try not to think about it, because that number just seems ridiculous.  We even signed up for a half marathon next weekend (it’s nice really, because now we don’t have to map out a run).

A lot of folks have sent personal messages letting me know that I have motivated them in one way or another.  And these messages mean the world to me.  It is one reason I have kept on trucking.  I will keep posting my progress and thoughts if you guys will keep letting me know how YOU are doing.  Either in comments (click on that little speech bubble at the top of the post) or e-mails to madclay@me.com.  Thanks again for everyone’s support!

 

Paleo-ized Zone Diet

The post I swore I would write months ago.  Well, better late than never, I suppose.First off, I highly recommend buying the book by Dr. Barry Sears, the biochemist who pioneered the Zone diet, or better yet, get the audio book… it is a relatively short book, and for me, it was just more convenient.   It spells out all of the theories and scientific stuff that I would probably screw up if I tried to explain it to you.  So instead, I will hit a couple of the high points and show you how I follow the diet.

The Zone Diet

The basics: We are trying to achieve a ratio of 40:30:30.  Of your meal, 40% of the calories should be carbohydrates, 30% should be protein, and 30% should be fat.  This is supposed to create a hormonal balance designed to put your body “in the fat burning Zone.”  Dr. Sears equates food to medicine, and you must have the right doses for this drug called food to have the right effect.  This is the point where I would direct you to the book to get a clearer explanation of eicosanoids (the anti-inflammatory chemical produced by your body) which is regulated by insulin (lowers blood sugar levels) and glucagon (raises blood sugar) levels.  Insulin and glucagon together form a feedback cycle that determines how your body uses carbohydrates and body fat for energy.  You need this proper balance so that the insulin does not tell your body to store the incoming energy (carbs) as fat.  The glucagon signals for the fat in your cells to be released and used as energy.  To put it simply, you don’t want an excess of either one of these.  Thus the balance.

How do I Zone my meals?  To be fair, the book says you can eat ice cream and pasta all day long, as long as you Zone the meals, it doesn’t matter.  However, I am eating Paleo, so I will be showing you how to make Paleo Zone meals.  It takes a while to get used to this, because getting all of your carbs mainly from vegetables means you need to eat A LOT of vegetables.  The Zone is based on blocks.  One block of protein is 7 grams.  One block of carbohydrates is 9 grams.  One block of fat is 1.5 grams (we are assuming you are getting fat out of your protein as well).

So now you just need to determine how many blocks you need per day.  Thanks to the Kanto Plain CrossFit folks, this handy link will help you determine that: Zone Block Calculator

For example, I am 215 lbs at 23% body fat (what is my body fat?) and my activity level is medium to hard, 3 to 4 times per week.  This gives me 19 blocks.  That means during the course of the day, I need to eat 19 blocks of protein, 19 blocks of carbohydrates, and 19 blocks of fat.  To spread that food out, my breakfast consists of 4 blocks, a midmorning snack is 2 blocks, lunch is another 4 blocks, another snack is 2 blocks, dinner is 5 blocks, and a bedtime snack of 2 blocks. 

Using another link from Kanto Plain CrossFit, I made a Paleo list of foods that are one block apiece with ounces or grams as appropriate.  We had to use the grams portion of the list in Japan, because we couldn’t find a food scale in ounces. 

You are highly encouraged to weigh your food for at least a week to get a good feel for how big the blocks are.  Some foods are easier than others.  For instance, one egg is one block.  A good food scale is indispensable.  I recently found this  Food Scale, and it is awesome. 

Perfect Portion Food Scale WITH Nutrition Facts

To make things easier, there is also the plate method: take your plate, divide it in to thirds.  One third should be a protein source, the remaining two-thirds should be carbohydrates.  Imagine a chicken breast or a steak surrounded by spinach and broccoli.  There is also the hand method.  The protein should be the size of your fist or your open palm (and just as thick), if you are using Paleo carbs, should be the size of two fists, if not, only one fist.  And your fat source should be the amount you can fit easily in your cupped hand.  The macadamia nut is a fat source and one nut is one block.  Seriously. 

Zone Diet Portions except it should say Protein as opposed to low fat protein.

You should be able to tell if your balance is correct in constructing a Zone meal if you find that you are satiated and not hungry for the next four to six hours.  There are those folks that say you lose weight on the Zone diet not because you have struck the ideal balance, but because you are ultimately limiting calories.  I would suggest that the amount of weight I have lost is probably a combination of both.

Was this post helpful?  Informative?  Difficult to read?  A waste of your time?  Already written about all over the internet and this was just a waste of cyberspace?  Let me know and leave a comment on how I can improve this.

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 (www.premadepaleo.com).  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.  

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 www.marksdailyapple.com 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: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-the-primal-eating-plan/#ixzz244HtIEHl

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.

Thoughts?

D6: Short and sweet

So it is 9:12 p.m. on Sunday night. I had totally intended on getting to sleep by 9:30 p.m., but I just remembered I hadn’t wrote anything in my blog for the day. Of course, that is just how this Sunday has been. Jaime and I have been continuing to eat Paleo for the day, but it was a complete free day from working out. So to advance our fitness goals, we sat down and planned out our meals for the week. Once we had compiled our menus, we made a grocery list. And then we even went and bought all of the food. Jaime remarked, as all of our times were placed on the conveyor belt, that everything was completely unprocessed… except for the Diet Root Beer. I call that a win for the day.

One last thought: I really enjoy the accountability that comes along with writing this blog. If nothing else, for 30 minutes to 1 hour out of every day I get to sit down and focus on my goals. And that is definitely worth my time.