Category: Thoughts


One of the added benefits that I have found since joining Crossfit is the sense of community that is pervasive through out all of the locations. When I was at other fitness locations there was never any of that sense that you have of belonging. That is not to say that the people there are not nice or fantastic people as I we all know a lot of people who are at those places, it is just different at any Crossfit location. Everyone wants you to succeed, plus when support is needed somewhere it is given 100%.

This Saturday was no exception. By now most people have heard of the Sandy Hook tragedy, rather than explain it just check the news. The Crossfit community has workouts that are named Hero WOD’s for people who have fallen in the line of duty, fireman, police officers, people in the armed services, and this teacher, Victoria Soto, was no different. Most of the gym was there except for some people who had work schedules or were on vacation out-of-town to raise money for the families of this tragedy.

The workout as well was fitting for the situation as all the numbers meant something – 5 rounds (years of work), 10 thrusters (room 10), 14 box jumps (the day), 12 sumo deadlift high pulls (the month), 12 burpees (the year) and 27 Kettlebell Swings (her age) – plus we had a donation button on our website for people to contribute. The amazing thing is that every Crossfit location in the Maritime Provinces did this workout we even had an equipment supplier in Quebec – Again Faster Canada – make their members do this as well.

BTW if you do wish to contribute the donation button will still be active until Tuesday click on the link I hope it will work:

http://www.crossfitsaintjohn.ca/2013/01/03/very-special-hero-wod/#comments

This workout was rough and took a lot of mental fortitude to complete but as one member mentioned in her comments, as she is 27 years old, every time she got to the kettlebell swings  she thought od what she has done during her 27 years. I think she had the right attitude, for me Ms Soto could have been the age of a child I might had and that those children she saved may have been my grandchildren.

Now when people ask YOU why do you go to your gym, what do you say?

The heart and mind is just as important as the muscles to stay in shape.

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2013 and New Things

2012 has left the building and 2013 just marched right in without a care in the world. Just like it owned the place. In one sense it does, as tomorrow will come and it does not matter if a day, number or name is attached to it. It just rises as it always does, it keeps moving.

Not sure if this is philosophical or not, don’t really care either way, but I think I will follow same relentless and determined goal of the sun rising every day and see what happens. The sun rises without question usually every 12 hours after it sets, give or take the earths position. It is relentless in its quest to keep shining as we revolve around it. With this, I decided, I too need to be relentless in my pursuit to achieve what I want. The goal does not have to be met tomorrow so that I feel like I have failed somehow if it is not achieved. The goal needs to be worn down by the relentless pursuit of being one little bit closer to it, just like the sun rising every day it continues on and on.

Today during the workout I kept that same rule, keep moving, keep going and pounding out the next move as it brings you closer to the end. This worked as I managed for probably one of the very few times, no make that the only time, to beat the time of someone who is a small tank and normally crushes these workouts by 10 seconds. That is akin to Team USA (Lake Placid 1980) in hockey beating the Russians. I feel great!!!

2013 will also bring new things for me. I put in place some goals to achieve for the first time in a long time and will do my best to make them happen. Do I expect to achieve them all? I could say yes but that would be silly as one never knows what the future holds, but I can be relentless and take them one by one. If I have 10 and clear one of them there will be 9 left and I will be that much closer to getting them all completed.

To all who read and follow my blog, thank you. I hope your 2013 will be a success and brings you much joy and happiness. I hope you have the relentless pursuit to achieve what you want that I tried to explain here. I know that tomorrow I will be one step closer to what I want to complete.

May you have the same success.

Today my legs feel like crap, my shoulder is having a small flare up with some minor pain and I am not sure if it is something new or old. That meant that I had to modify my workout a bit. With the running today, walking lunges yesterday, squats on Friday, more running last week it is amazing that only my shoulder has the issue. My legs are aching beyond belief and while good rest tonight will help them recover I am not sure if they will hold up for another ground and pound workout.

The twinge of pain I felt while doing overhead squats could be just a minor thing as we did weighted overhead walking lunges the day before and holding a 25 pound weight over your head while doing lunge steps is not going to make your shoulders love you especially when you throw Kettlebell Swings in the mix. I hope it does go away as the countdown to the Games has started and while I want to compete I have cannot afford to be off for 2 months of rehab like this summer.

It was a nice feeling when I was asked if I noticed an improvement in my running during todays workout as one member said I looked like I was running much better than when she noticed last time. For me, running is always a challenge as I was not that great at it. I am not someone who has a nice gait while running it is a more laboured run with moments that feel pretty good just not that many of them, maybe I should run a bit more often so that those good moments happen more frequently.

It is all of these little things, like the aches, pains and injuries that make you continue on as you know when you are finished you can do better if only you were not banged up. Your time has come down while you are not feeling that great, your running has improved even though you don’t think so, you are moving more weight and not getting winded as you did before and yet this is all done while you have aches and pain. It makes you wonder what you could do if you had no aches, but then you would not be working hard enough if you did not, what an oxymoron.

The past weekend I did some Vietnamese cooking and made an awesome fish cake using a recipe from a Vietnamese cookbook that I found. It was simple, easy to follow and turned out just the way I thought it should and tasted even better. I will post the recipe soon as it will be a tasty wheat/gluten-free recipe that is easy to follow that does not take much time and would go great with vegetable dish and a side of rice or noodles.

 

The new lifestyle of going wheat and gluten-free has changed the way I think about my diet and preparation of food and it has almost made me forget why I decided to go this direction. Previously with the workouts and careful planning of our weekly menu I have not noticed a change in the last 6 months. Being aware of what I ate and the initial fat and water loss when I started working out I have not changed from 220 pounds.

Yes, I have put in the same effort and intensity. I have gained some muscle mass to offset the loss of fat. I have been able to lift more than when I started, have more mobility and have increased my range of motion since November 2010 but I still was sort of plateauing. This was more frustrating and puzzling to me, I don’t drink that often to say that alcohol may increase my sugar levels, if I managed to go through a couple of beer or drinks in 3-4 months that would be a lot. I do not eat that many sweets even though I make them to sell at the local store for a bit of extra cash. Both my wife and myself are do not have any allergies to gluten, wheat or any other food. My wife has some medicinal allergies but that is about it.

So why the change? I figured if nothing else, we could have some fun with seeing what we were left with by going wheat and gluten-free. However after 5 weeks I have felt good, lost some additional weight, dropped the blood pressure to normal(115/78), the belly size has reduced, I don’t have the need for eating (I eat when I am hungry) like I used to and feel like I have more energy. Now, is that this new diet, I don’t know and truthfully don’t care.

The last 2 weeks at the gym we have had some challenging WOD’s and other than 2-3 of them that almost made me puke, I have improved my time and strength. The same could be said for my wife as she has lost weight and does not have the constant feeling that she needs to eat. She may not be doing the exact same movements but she has improved her range of motion for squatting, excellent when you consider she has had both hips replaced and one had to have a revision, so squatting is a difficult movement for her because she would usually use some sort of support to help her, now she does not and has even started to use weight when doing squats. This allows her to front squat, back squat, and even do overhead squats with minimum weight, something she was not able to do before.

I am saying all this because I am overjoyed that I feel better, move better and after my injury have almost gained all the strength I had before. Doing WOD’s we have completed before and that I have an entry for to compare against, I have bettered the performance or come close to matching it and I was completely out of action for 2 months.

My original goal was to get down below 200 lbs and I would be happy with that (for now). The weight loss challenge at work asked what I think my ideal weight would be and I said 180 lbs. I am now at 212 lbs from starting at 220 lbs, I need only 12 pounds to hit goal one and 32 lbs to reach what I think is my ideal number.

Can I do it? Yes. I will look completely different when I get there. In fact 20 years ago I thought I was getting heavy when I weighed 167 lbs before I had a double hernia, so it is not out of the question. I have “bulked up” since then and that is why the number is 180.

This week at the gym has been a tough one. It was a short week with Thanksgiving and the gym being closed on Monday but that has not made it easier as the workouts have been just nasty. The worst part is that they never look that bad on paper or when you read them on the gyms’ website and we know from history that it is the easiest looking ones that sneak up on you and knock the crap out of you.

I mean what can be so hard 5 cycles of a 3 minute AMRAP of 3 power cleans, 6 push ups, 9 air squats; after this one my legs were burning along with my shoulders. The day before we did a workout with the clock continually running of 3 round for time(RFT) of 10 snatches, 10 push ups then at the 10 minute mark do another 3 RFT of 10 Thrusters, 10 chest to bar pullups, then at the 20 minute mark do another 3 RFT of 10 box jumps, 10 toes to bar. This one had me close to puking. Today’s WOD was just cruel after the two previous ones. It consisted of 2 minutes each movement of Double Unders, ABMat Sit ups, Row for calories, Burpees, and Box Jumps for 3 rounds. My legs/knees are still hurting from this one and it has been 4.5 hours since we finished and tomorrow brings running into the mix. All this “fun” has been caused by our owners getting new equipment for the gym (we can’t wait to use it) and due to construction of the new Infinity Rig from Rogue we have been doing these combo MetCons and power lifts until it is finished.

We all can’t wait until everything is in the correct place and bolted down as it will be a blast as we now have ropes to climb and proper bars to do pull-ups, plus the extra weights and abmats mean that more variations will be on the way. I am sure it will be ready for this coming Monday and we should see some WOD’s that incorporate the new stuff.

I cannot remember if I mentioned that I entered a weight loss challenge at work. Well I have and as usual the challenge started off with a weigh in, my weight was 219.6 (clothes on), waist measurement (41 inches) my goal is to get under 200 lbs or more specifically 190 lbs plus drop 3 inches around my waist in the 10 weeks that this challenge is going on. Based on todays weigh in the first week has been a success as I lost 3 lbs the first week (I blame the WOD’s this week for this good news) the waist measurement will happen at the end of the challenge.

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. It is a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate the wonderful harvest that the year has brought to us.

That harvest can mean many things to different people. The farmer thinks of the food he has produced, a new mother may think of the child that was welcomed, as for me, I am a practical person.

I think that every day that I wake up is great and I am thankful that I get to spend that day with my wife. I have told her that she inspires me to do things that at times I would not think of doing. She has been through two complete hip replacements (left and right) and one revision (left) and still manages to do things without complaining, alright she does but not that badly, and do them without using a cane, walker or wheelchair. In fact if you saw her having a coffee or waiting in line for something you would not even know she had the surgery. It is her attitude of “I got these hips so that I can be normal”  to do things that before I could not even think of doing. Walking was difficult for her before and now she tries to make it to our Crossfit gym as many times as possible, that is if work does not get in the way. She makes it not possible for me to say I am not feeling great so I think I will pass on going to the gym. If she can fight through the pain, then so can I, and trust me when I say there are times when my knees, Achilles tendons, shoulders and back have made me wonder what the hell I am doing.

This Thanksgiving, our neighbours decided to invite us over for dinner along with George, who lives by himself with his dogs, also from down the road. It was nice to have a meal with friends, as the five of us are all true empty nesters and we would usually have Thanksgiving by ourselves. This was also a perfect time to get all the preserves we made over the season and had an overabundance of to them.

This Thanksgiving like most others, I am thankful that I have people in my life that are not selfish or self center, that care about others and do things that make me want to be better. This includes the people at the gym who make sure that we take care to do things correctly, people at work who want us to succeed, family that are miles aways who call to see how things are going even when they are swamped with the family and circle of friends.

All I can say is that I have a lot to be thankful for and I don’t want it to change.

The good, bad and ugly for the record

Ever thought about how you got to a place and wondered what took you so long to get there?

Since starting this Wheat/Gluten Free (w/g free) lifestyle I have noticed a difference in my overall well-being. I am not sure how to explain it, things are different, not the suddenly I can see through walls or I have developed a flat belly overnight different, but I have noticed a change in me. My walking pace seems to have picked up, I am not feeling a need to have a 3pm nap at my desk, my legs feel lighter and I seem to have more life/energy in what I do.

Lets start with the good. My weight has dropped steadily and not dramatically. I am at 214 lbs a drop of 5.5 lbs, blood pressure has come down a bit 126/73, Body Fat now at 31 a small drop, the main point of this change was to improve those numbers, to do it safely and reasonably. Second good thing, the craving for food has diminished. No longer am I wanting to have something fill my gut every few hours, just doing that alone has probably taken off 300 – 400 calories per day without any hard work, simply not eating to eat. Third good thing, it is easier to say no to food and samples if I do not know what is in it. I mentioned last post that I was at a farmers market that just opened and all the vendors had samples and were passing them out like they were at black tie event where all they serve is finger foods, if I did not know what was in it I would pass and tell them I cannot have wheat/gluten. They seemed to understand and moved on so I had no sample to tempt me. Just saying that made it so easy to pass on food. This is not as hard as it looks.

The bad part was the amending of certain recipes that I love and having to hold off on the preserves that my wife and I have made, i.e. jams, pie fillings, etc., until we figure out what we have to use them with. Lately we figured out a recipe for muffins that taste incredible and if we make a few adjustments we will have some nice bread. I think we both have an idea for making flat breads with chick pea flour and will give it try on the weekend. Stay tuned for that.

The ugly part of this is that it has not improved my running, I am a still a piss poor runner and this past week it has hurt my times in the WOD’s as we have had 2 separate run days, each having a total of 2K. Here is the kicker in this ugly part, I have bettered my previous scores in these events every time and I still think I sucked. Either I have improved beyond where I thought I would be or  my expectations have increased dramatically (I am going with that). I improved by one minute on one workout and dropped 95 seconds on another and I figured that the running had not been that great and could improve the time even more when I got better at running.

I would say that the first 18 days of being W/G free have been a success, now lets see what happens for a full month. What have I got to lose other than some more weight. The goal is still 180 lbs and by my math it will take approximately another 130 days to reach the goal of 180 and that will be sometime in February 2013. Winter in the next two months and seems like as good a time as any to start to shed the pounds.

Today was a beginning of a new adventure in food trials and tribulations. After reading “Wheat Belly” for the last week I decided to join my wife in the wheat free/gluten-free challenge. There are only a few changes to some of the usual foods that I know and love. For example using chick pea/garbanzo bean flour instead of wheat flour for baking and then adding some Xanthum gum to hold together some of the nut flours and it should work. My wife has a blueberry muffin idea she wants to do. If it works I will have to post the recipe.

The best part is that I am making my favourite foods, i.e. foods from India, Thailand and South East Asia. The foods from those regions use fresh foods in their cooking and look to add spices, herbs and fruits to add flavour. Once you have the basics down for a recipe you can amend and change it to what taste you like. There are no hard and fast rules in cooking for these countries so why should you follow any specific method.

The biggest reason for this change is that I have been stuck in the range of 215-220 lbs for the last 4 months. It did not help that I could not exercise for over 2 months with Achilles tendonitis and a dead arm with a wonky nerve but I only gained 10 pounds during that time which I think is a pretty good accomplishment for not being able to do anything. I am hoping that this will kick-start the weight drop. My initial goal was to get to 200 lbs but when I think about what would be good for me I feel that 180 would the number I should be at. It is reasonable to get there as I did weigh over 250lbs when I started Crossfit and then started eating better. That lead to researching new diets and understanding what fuel I put in my body for working out.

Now after close to two years of going regularly to gym I have hit a roadblock. It was disappointing at first finding out that I lost strength so quickly, but the good news is that I concentrated more on my form while I was off and it has helped with picking up some movements quicker than before. I found that I have less problems and with the added endurance training I am not a s winded during a workout.

I am also keeping a more detailed journal on what I am eating and what my key measurements are. Weight is only part of the picture, waist size, blood pressure and blood sugar are the others.

This should be an interesting few months. If all goes well I think it is reasonable to be at 180 by New Years Day.

I did not think it would last and I was right. The inexpensive food menu that my wife decided to embark on was doomed from the start. It involved prepared foods and cheap snacks and pretty much junk food. For the last year or so been trying to find ways to reduce the cost of daily living as the cost of petrol/gas has increased so has almost everything else except our wages (that is another story for another time).

I love cooking, baking and anything else that has to do with preparing food. I am not much of sugar fiend however that does not mean I don’t enjoy sweets, I just don’t eat them often. I do like making them though and for that my wife has a love/hate thing going on when I make Chocolate Mousse or an Apple Flan then eat one piece/ramekin and leave the rest.

I have cookbooks coming out the wazoo from many countries, in different languages (Thai/French/Indian/Mexican/English, etc.), different eras (middle ages/early 1800’s/modern), technical books, teaching books, magazines, diet books, if there was a book that had some great recipes I would get it. They are the only books I own while my wife has “normal” books in her library.

The reason I mention this is that, I think I said this earlier, I love to cook. My wife likes to eat my food and so do many other colleagues and friends. We have been so busy on Fridays lately baking for a new local store that we have drifted away from cooking REAL food. Now with the new wheat belly kick she is on that seems to be working for her she now is realizing that real food is the way to go. No more prepackaged food items, no more snacks, no more garbage.

I am now planning the bunch of menu’s with some curries and Thai food. This is making me a very happy camper but the selection I want to do is so large it may take a bit to narrow it down to a few recipes and I have only 24 hours to decide what to cook. I have narrowed it down to three main items: Shrimp, Pork and Chicken – now the issue is where to go to cook. Indonesia, Thailand and India have hit the list and just for refinement I will do a French recipe.

Cooking starts this weekend – I will be having a blast and will remember to take pics along the way this time.

From what I have just read in “Wheat Belly” it seems that I have found the culprit for many of my ills. At least that is what is being said in the book. My intake of wheat or gluten is what has caused me to gain weight, indulge in food binges, have trouble concentrating, lack of stamina, poor sleeping habits, have man boobs, etc., etc.

The information in this book scary in that studies have shown that wheat or gluten has the same effect on the brain as morphine and when eliminated has the same withdrawal effects of  some who is an addict. It is also an appetite stimulant. To study this a study was done at U of South Carolina with normal people, half given a medication that is opiate blocking and the other a placebo the ones taking the opiate blocker reduced their caloric intake by 400 calories per day. If this is case then we need to  rethink what we are harvesting and calling a “healthy” grain. The book does mention that having a sedentary lifestyle and eating fast food will not help.

What is really scary from reading it is the number of items in our regular diet that have wheat or gluten of some form included as an ingredient. Coloring for caramel flavouring used in any number of soft drinks, beer (of course), yoghurt, chips, dips, mustard, ketchup, filler in prescription drugs and vitamins, the list is enormous. Now you ask what can be done to avoid some of the most basic items we have in our fridges, cupboards and medicine cabinets? If you ask me, I would say, “I don’t know”. I guess what a person needs to do is be more conscious of what they put in their bodies and do the best you can.

It does make for some interesting reading. I would say read it and make your own assessment and if you feel ambitious eliminate wheat and gluten from your diet and see what happens. What have you got to lose, except your wheat belly.

My wife is starting to think about doing this elimination of wheat/gluten from our diet and I know at some point in the near future, probably this week, will be doing this. I have told her as I mentioned in the last post that I will start doing this once everything has been cleared out of the cupboards, freezer and fridge that has any gluten or wheat in it.