Training Log: 2/28/11

10,9,8..1 rep rounds of:
Heavy KB Swings

After each ’round’ drop to the floor and perform two Turkish Getups with your kettlebell (one right, one left).

I used a 53 lb kettlebell for the swings and a 35 lb dumbbell for the Turkish getups. It was humid today and the gym floor was slippery which made the getups a little more challenging than they should have been. This was a good workout to get me back into the swing of things, although I did feel like puking at the end which wasn't fun. I finished in 17:26. 

Food Porn: A Pound of Sausage

Kind of an arresting photo, isn't it? I picked up a pound of chicken & apple sausage from the Bryn Mawr Farmer's Market this weekend, and ate it all in one sitting. Yeah, it was a lot of sausage. The weird object in the bottom right corner is a pumpkin spice vegan cupcake. It was gluten and dairy free so I thought I'd give it a try. The cupcake was kind of dry and disappointing but the frosting was good. I think I could do a better job and make it completely grain-free. Is that too bragadocious, or merely a self-imposed paleofication challenge? Let's go with the latter.

Training Log: 2/27/11

I don't know this dude, but his beard is burly.
2 deadlifts on the minute for 10 minutes

2x10 reverse hyper w/ 70 lbs

Prowler push sprint 100 feet
10x w/ 180 lbs (not timed)

After five days off I wasn't sure what I wanted to do today. I ended up working out with Rich from my gym and he had the great idea to deadlifts with added band tension (about 25 lbs) We did two deads every minute for 10 minutes. I started with 185 for the first five minutes and then upped it to 205 for the last five minutes. This was my first time ever doing any lift with bands. The workout was fast and fun. I could've maybe gone a little heavier but since it was my first time playing around with it, it was probably better to stay light. 

Afterward, since it was warm and sunny out today I thought it might be fun to push the new prowler around. And it was. We went as fast as we could and rested as little as needed. I definitely want to do that more often.

Rest Week

If it seems as if I've been slacking in my blog posts and training this week, it's because I have. This week has turned out to be an unplanned rest week. Having to deal with some family matters for over the past week has taken up a lot of my time.

While I'm sure I've started to atrophy a slight bit by now, there's nothing wrong with taking a week off every so often. I've been focusing on getting more sleep this week and going to bed earlier, when possible. My nightly routine has been the following:

45 minutes prior to trying to fall asleep I take one Zinc supplement (100 mg) and make a mug of Natural Calm (recommended two tsp dose), and my daily fish oil. I have been taking Natural Calm for about three or four months now and still don't really care for the taste.

I then put a heating pad on the bed and lay on my back on top of it for 30 minutes. I'll do a few hip stretches and crack my back as part of my nightly routine. Most of the time I'll fall asleep before I remember to turn the heating pad off. Fortunately, the heating pad automatically shuts off after a certain amount of time.

I've tried to make the bedroom as dark as possible but there's still some light that pokes through. My solution for that was to wear a travel sleep mask from REI I had gotten back in August for our trip to London, and sleep with that on. I've gotten used to it and it does a great job of blocking out the light.

During the course of this week I experimented with a tip from T.S. Wiley for falling asleep. Take one to two Trader Joe's chewable melatonin pills and rather than chew them, let them dissolve on your tongue. Between a combination of the supplements, heating pad and eye mask, I've been getting to sleep earlier, sleeping longer, and waking up feeling well rested this week. And I've needed it. I didn't use the melatonin every night but did notice some weird dreams on the nights I did take it. But most of my dreams are a little weird, so that's normal for me.

Recharging the Battery

The other night I went to bed early, well, early for me, and proceeded to stay in bed for the next 11 straight hours (about 10.5 of that was actual sleep). Not surprisingly, I woke up the next morning extremely well rested. Back in January I tracked my sleep for several weeks in relation to the idea of Sleep Banking -- where you can make up for lost sleep by sleeping more on another day. My conclusion from that self-experiment was that sleep banking didn't really work for me. Sleeping more on one day makes you feel good on that particular day. But, the next day when you're back to sleeping 6 hours again, you're tired. The best piece of data I found out about myself is that 9 hours of sleep per night is my sweet spot. I need to get at least that amount to feel rested.

I also tinkered with biphasic sleep (also known as polyphasic), meaning sleeping twice (or more than once) in one day (i.e. 6 hours of sleep at night and a 1.5 hour nap at some other point in the day). Biphasic sleep is a great concept but not at all practical. On days when I could get a nap in, the duration would range from 10 minutes to two hours. Most of the time it tended to be under one hour.

Sleep cycles last for 90-110 minutes, on average. Ideally you want a total number of hours per night that is a multiple of 90 minutes (1.5 hours). We always hear about getting 8 hours of sleep, which would actually be wrong according to your sleep intervals. 7.5 hours would leave you feeling more rested than 8 hours of sleep.

On the night of the epic sleep I was listening to the Underground Wellness podcast from 2/18/11 with guest T.S. Wiley -- author of Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival. This is one of those books that is always recommended in the Crossfit community but that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Interesting side note on T.S. Wiley: she did not complete her bachelors in anthropology from Webster University, let alone any advanced degrees. Her book is co-written with Bent Formby, PhD (great name), who has received two doctoral degrees (molecular biology and medical biochemistry) and is a legitimate scientist. Wiley is simply a researcher and the findings of her research and work in the field are the basis of her books. So what if she didn't finish college. At a certain point, experience trumps formal education. I digress.

Prior to the start of the podcast I took some melatonin (Trader Joe's brand), which may have added to my sleepiness. I made it about 12 minutes into the podcast, and with all of this talk about sleep and dark hours vs. light hours in a day, I got sleepy and decided to call it a night. My stomach was a little upset from drinking too much coconut milk at one time, and sleep was probably a good idea. When I finally got up 11 hours later, I felt overly rested. I wasn't popping out of bed and doing back handsprings, but I definitely felt better than I usually do in the morning.

Going forward, how do I recreate this? I don't need (or think it's practical) to sleep as long as I did that night, but I'd like to get a solid 9 hours if possible. The biggest hurdle in the way of getting enough sleep is that my wife and I work out in the mornings. On those days, we're up at 4:30 to make the 5:30 class. On the nights before those early morning workouts, I'm lucky to get 6 hours of sleep. The only way to make that work is to either do biphasic sleep on gym days and try and get a nap in somewhere, or do a Recharge Day once a week and try and sleep as much as possible on that one day. Or a combo of the two. I'm not much of a napper, so the recharge day seems more applicable to me. But a recharge day is just a sleep banking day, which I already determined didn't work. Ultimately, I need to train my body to go to bed earlier. That's easier said than done. I guess it's time to turn off the lights.

Guest Post on CFDV: The 'Paleofication' of Food

A new guest post from me has just posted to Crossfit Delaware Valley called: The 'Paleofication' of Food. Check it out. Fear the Zubaz.

Training Log: 2/21/11

So much better than double unders.
Cash In
Practice pistols and/or handstands for 5 minutes

150 Close-Hands PushUps

7 Power Cleans (135/95)
21 Double Unders
7 Hang Power Cleans (135/95)
21 Double Unders
7 Squat Cleans (135/95)
21 Double Unders

Hard rolls go with 42 double unders per round.

In practicing pistols I noticed a discrepancy between my right and left legs: My right is much more stable. Which is odd because my left leg is my dominant leg, even though I'm right handed. I also have a strong seat and a special body according to the last tailor to size me for a suit. I didn't think much of it at the time and just chalked it up to tailor being European.

I ended up only doing 100 push ups because I mismanaged my time. But I did those 100 in 6 sets so that's still improvement over last time. 

I did the metcon as rx'd. There was no way in hell I was going to scale up on the double unders. I have enough trouble with them as it is. The cleans were relatively easy in comparison to the double unders and I ended the wod by flinging the jump rope against the wall.

Afterward, we were hanging around, stretching and talking. Christina, one of the members of the gym, was talking up this burger place nearby called The BRGR Joint that has an 11 patty bacon cheeseburger challenge, with 11 slices of cheese and 22 pieces of bacon. It's called the OMG Challenge. She also added that they have sweet potato fries. So, we had to stop by on our way home and try out the burgers (bbq bacon double cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and onion)...and maybe the sweet potato fries...and perhaps a milkshake. It was pumpkin. And awesome. 

Baked Beef Jerky

I don't own a food dehydrator but I've been dying to make my own jerky for some time now. I've found that you can make it in the oven and it turns out pretty damn tasty. The problem with most store-bought jerky is that they often add sugar, soy, coloring and additives to the meat. Here's a pretty simple beef jerky recipe that you can make in the oven that avoids all of that nonsense.

Paleo Beef Jerky
1.5 lbs of London broil
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp minced onion powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp oregano
1 pinch sea salt

Place the London broil in the freezer long enough for it start to harden a little but not long enough that it freezes (about 35-45 minutes). This will make the meat easier to slice.

Then take the London broil and turn it on its side length-wise and cut against the grain in slices. This can be a little challenging once the meat starts to thin out.

Place the slices into a bowl and set aside.

Add all of the other jerky seasoning ingredients into a small pot, bring to a quick boil and stir together. Pour the jerky seasoning over the meat and toss thoroughly. You can choose to let this sit overnight in the refrigerator and marinade or bake it right away. I baked it right away and the meat was flavorful and tender.

Set your oven to the lowest possible temperature setting, usually 150 degrees or Warm. Place the meat on metal racks or baking sheets (racks are preferable) and places those racks onto the racks in the oven. The 1.5 lbs of London took up two racks. Also, place an additional baking sheet at the very bottom of the oven to catch any drippings from the jerky. Close the oven door and let it bake for 6-8 hours. When the meat is done it will be a dark brownish color. The meat will bend and crack but not snap. If it snaps easily and is brittle, then it's over cooked.

Allow the jerky to cool and then store it in a ziploc bag or other airtight container.

Training Log: 2/17/11

Cash In
One hard 800m run

100 Close-Hands Push-Ups

In 8 minutes, perform as many rounds as possible of:
10 Vertical Jumps (16″/12″)
20m Broad Jumps
20m Plate Pinch Carries

For the Plate Pinches, gents use 45s and ladies use 25s. Pinch the outer rim of the plate only.

I treated the first 400 meters of the run as an extended warm up and just kept pace with Kara. For the last 400 I started feeling a little better and moving quicker. My time of 4:09 was far from spectacular, but given that I'm not a very fast runner I guess I'll take it.

I improved on my 100 push-ups by finishing in 7 sets, as opposed to the 8 it took me on Saturday. My form felt better this time as well, although I felt my hips dropping in the later sets. 

Broad jumps always wipe me out, but the deceptive killer in this wod was carrying 45# bumper plates with your fingertips. That sucked. My left hand grip started to fail in round 4 and I kept dropping the plate. Running with the plates seemed to make me lose my grip even faster from the bouncing. The only way to maintain it was to stay tight and power walk. I finished with 4 rounds + 10 vertical jumps + 20m of broad jumps and 10m of the plate carry.

Training Log: 2/16/11

Rest Day due to gas leak in the house.

I was starting a home workout of deadlifts, good mornings and pull-ups when my plans got interrupted.

Training Log: 2/15/11

Matching shirts...Awkward.
Back Squat 5×5

Use 90% of your last 5-rep max for sets across.

5 rounds of:
5 Push Presses (135/95)
10 Box Jumps (30/24)

For the back squat I used 195, which was about 90% of my last 5rm. The squats felt better as I moved through the sets, but were still challenging.

I thought I was going to be able to handle 135 for the metcon but my shoulder was painful with 95. I took a few warm up reps with 95 and then stretched my shoulder out a little bit and tried it again and the pain had diminished so I used 115 for the wod with a 30 inch box and finished in 5:46.
Afterward, I felt a burning feeling in my esophagus
and have had a hacking somewhat phlegmy cough since. Super.

Cinnamon-Coconut Fried Bananas

1 Serving:
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 banana
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp honey

Set a fry pan to medium heat and add the coconut oil. Slice the banana and add it to the pan. Dust the banana slices with coconut and cinnamon, and drizzle with honey. When they start to brown and get a little crispy, flip them over and add more coconut, cinnamon and honey.

If you're not sticking to strict paleo, then definitely add some chocolate syrup or chocolate ice cream to the end product. 

Coconut-Crusted Mahi Mahi & Shrimp

1 package of frozen mahi mahi (Trader Joe's)
1 package of wild blue shrimp, uncooked (Trader Joe's)
1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup almond meal
¼ tsp ginger
1 tsp turmeric 
2 eggs 
4 tbsp coconut oil

Combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and mix together. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl until they get frothy. Set a large fry pan to medium heat and add the coconut oil. Dip the fish into the egg and then place the fish into the bowl of dry ingredients. 

Coat the fish with the dry ingredients and place into the pan. Repeat for all remaining pieces of fish. Cook the fish for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Place the fish into a baking dish and put in the oven on the Warm setting.

Repeat the steps above for the shrimp. Add more coconut oil to the pan if needed. Cook the shrimp fully in the pan over medium heat.

Training Log: 2/14/11

Rest Day
A Valentine's Day gift from my wife.

Needle And The Damage Done

Today marks the end of week 5 in the CFDV Paleo Challenge. When most gyms do a paleo challenge it's 30 days: Quick and dirty. Our paleo challenge is structured like fantasy football where teams face off each week and the team with the most points wins for that week. Tomorrow starts the playoffs of the challenge. Up until now, I've been really good about my food. The only zeroes I've taken were due to alcohol consumption on vacation. But even on vacation I made really good food choices.

Yesterday was my breaking point.

I was pissed off on Friday after the witch doctor told me I'd need to do his cleanse for two more weeks and that frustration carried over into Saturday. The simple psychology of telling someone that they can't have something makes them want it even more. Normally, I don't get cravings that I can't substitute for, but for the past two weeks I had been fiending for pizza and a chocolate milkshake.

The first week of the craving was bad but I was able to shake it and talk myself out of it. I knew that if I had those foods, I would feel horrible afterwards and (as my wife so delicately puts it) my butt would explode. That held me off for the first week.

The second week though, the craving came back with vigor. I was consumed with the thought of pizza. My teeth would ache. I would get twitchy. Restless. I think these symptoms are similar to that of heroine withdrawal. But the weird thing is I never got like this before. Yeah, I'll get a craving for pizza every once in a while, but I never cracked out like this before. I think it was the simple fact that I knew I couldn't have something and therefore I wanted it even more. And so, last night we got two large pizzas: a meat lovers and a chicken rustica. And they were delicious.
Then there was the other end of the craving; the chocolate milk shake. I had Kara pick up the smallest container she could find of whole milk and a carton of chocolate ice cream. I had grand dreams of polishing off the whole thing in addition to the pizza. This would not be the case though. You see, that's the problem with a points-based scoring system on a food challenge, once you cross the threshold into the No Points Zone, it gets dangerous. You figure, hey, I'm already getting a zero for the day, I might as well do this right. Don't half-ass it. Use the whole ass. And that way of thinking can get a lot of people into trouble if these sorts of binges happen on a regular basis.

I was only able to force down about 32 ounces of chocolate milkshake before I felt sick to my stomach. Both pizzas were polished off between the two of us and I was on the couch unable to move. I planned ahead and put sweat pants on before I started eating. I kept it classy though and wore the good sweats. A digestive enzyme or ten would've come in handy but sadly I was all out. I thought I'd try to Tim Ferriss this meal a bit and took about 20 grams of L-Glutamine powder and 10 grams of fish oil to help counter the leaky gut and inflammation from the grains.
And The Damage Done.
To my surprise, my butt did not explode last night or today, but I still paid the price for my overindulgence. I woke up in the middle of the night wide awake and could not fall back to sleep for an hour and a half. It was my own fault. I broke two of my food rules: No large meals close to bed time and no sugary foods close to bed time.

All day today I felt the guilt and disgust of my indiscretions. It's like pizza and the chocolate shake told me they loved me, got me to sleep with them, and now won't return my phone calls.  Could I have made a paleo pizza instead? Yes. Why didn't I? Honestly, I make 90% of the meals for both of us and I didn't feel like cooking last night. Kara wasn't exactly trying to talk me out of it either. She wanted pizza too, but wasn't going to be the one to make the decision. Enabler. Plus, I was frustrated that I had to do this cleanse for another two weeks, and a binge like this was just a big ol' middle finger to the cleanse.

I weighed the consequences of how badly I would screw myself and how counterproductive this would be toward the allergy cleanse and just said, "F' It." I needed this binge for mental sanity. I'm still disappointed in myself for not making better choices. I didn't need to go as overboard with it as I did, and that's my own fault. I probably would've been satisfied with three slices of pizza. My body didn't want or need it, my brain did. Stupid brain, making me do things. On the bright side, I should be good on curbing any cravings for the rest of this paleo challenge.

Training Log: 2/13/11

Active Recovery

Foam Roll: Mid & Upper Back, Quads, Hamstrings, Inner Thigh
Lax Ball: Glutes, Chest, Lats, Feet, Hip Flexors

1.5 mile run (not timed)
3 mile walk

10 reps of each:
Close-hand Push-Ups
Strict Pull-Ups
Straight-leg Sit-Ups
Air Squat

Couch Stretch: 5 minutes per leg
Pigeon: 2 minutes per leg

Training Log: 2/12/11

100 Close-Hands Push-Ups

Performed in as few ‘sub-maximal’ sets as possible.

Tabata Pull-ups and Tabata Front Squats (95/65)

Alternate exercises

The push-ups took me 8 sets. I tried to focus on my form while doing this in as few sets as possible. I have a tendency to drop my butt and push up from my chest during the movement. So I focused on staying more rigid. I still need to work on it as well as build up some strength in the push-up.

Oh the tabata. Do you game it and pick a moderate number you can maintain for all 8 rounds, or do you go all out and let the inevitable fatigue leave you with a lower score? The tabata ended up with a low score of 3 and 3 for each movement. My total reps were 44 for the pull-up and 37 for the front squat for a grand total of 81. Had I gamed it and tried for 5 reps each round in each movement, I would've ended up with 40 reps each, or 80 reps total. In this case, gaming it and assuming I could maintain those reps across all 8 sets of each movement, would've given me a higher score in each movement (by 2 reps) and only one less rep of total work. Gaming tabata appears to be the way to go. 

Training Log: 2/11/11

Back Squat 5×5
Progressive loading.

3 rounds of:
1 min KB Swings (53/35)
1 min Squat Thrusts
1 min Rest

Got up to 215 on the last set of five which put me at the weight I should be at in my strength progression. The problem here is that I haven't back squatted since January 14th. So, I'm glad that I was able to still move up in weight but disappointed in myself for slacking. I really need to get more time under the bar. My back squat hasn't progressed as fast as I'd like. For the metcon I finished with a total of 76 KB swings and 66 squat thrusts. 

On the allergy front, my witch doctor said I'm still not clear so it's another two weeks of the cleanse. I'm fine with another week, that's the same as doing the Whole30 (and the cleanse is practically the same as the Whole30), which I've done before. A fifth week though? Well, if I weren't currently in the midst of long-ass paleo challenge that goes to seven weeks (possibly eight, TBD), then I'd probably say this is all bullshit cut it off at 30 days.

Adventure Race Giveaway

Abby over at Have Dental Floss, Will Travel is running a contest right now where the winner will receive free entry to one of the GOALS ARA sprint adventure races. By sprint they mean 6-hour cap. You can find out the full details and enter the contest by going here and leaving a comment with your proposed team name.

To learn more about adventure racing, read this guest post by our friend Laurie, and this guest post by her husband Bill.

Sleep or Food?

I slept in a bit this morning and had to scramble to get out the door. I didn't have time to make myself breakfast so I settled for some reheated beef stew. It tasted great but was a bit out of the norm for my first meal of the day. Because I didn't get up on time I also didn't pack any food to take with me. The day was hectic, and although I had time while I was out to stop in somewhere for lunch, I knew there wouldn't be anywhere I could eat. Tomorrow, I get retested for my allergies and hopefully this three-week cleanse has done its job and I can start reintroducing some of things I've been omitting (BACON).

Over these past three weeks, I haven't been able to go out to eat anywhere because I have no idea what's in the food and I wanted to do my best to avoid any potential allergens or inflammatory foods. But it made me realize that yeah, I DON'T know what's in the food in restaurants, or even at my friends' homes.


On Sunday, we went over to a friend's place to watch the Super Bowl. He made chili (which I couldn't eat because of beans, salsa, spice...anything with flavor is a no-no) and pulled pork (couldn't eat that either). Both looked and smelled great. And I'm sure they tasted great too. Luckily I brought two batches of wings, but only one of those batches I could eat myself. Two weeks ago, we went over to another friend's place for taco night. I brought romaine leaves as my taco shells, which I would normally do anyway, but I had to make my own separate meat devoid of anything resembling taco meat: no spiciness, no salsa, not even guac because the kind I buy has paprika in it and that was a no-no. I ended up eating lettuce and plain beef while everyone else was stuffing their corn tortillas with refried beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Not that I would've had most of those things, but hey, a little salsa and guac goes a long way.

{End tangent.}

So, back to my unintentional fast today, even though I went the whole day with only one smaller meal, I still would rather have gotten the extra sleep than made breakfast. Me, I need my sleep to function and recover. What do you think? Would you rather have a little extra sleep in the morning, or know that you had a good breakfast and packed a smart lunch and snacks for the day? Leave your response in the Comments.

Training Log: 2/10/11

Rest Day
Look, kids! Big Ben! Parliament!

Training Log: 2/9/11

Squat Clean and Jerk 7×1

Progressively load the bar until you reach a new 1RM.

In ten minutes, do as many rounds 
as possible of:
10 One-Arm DB Push Presses (5L, 5R)
30 Double Unders

I was tired when I walked into the gym as I usually am for the 5:30 class. Once I got moving though, I woke up. The clean and jerks were feeling pretty good this morning and I got up to 185 (10 lb PR), which I was pleased with. I could've probably tried for more but I thought I'd leave a little in the tank. 

The metcon was what it was. I'm far from competent in double unders and it's just something I need to practice every day. I used a 25 lb dumbbell and ended up with 3 rounds +10 push press + 12 DU. 

Training Log: 2/8/11


1000m Row
50 Thrusters – 45 pounds
30 Pull-ups

Only I can take 2:10 off my previous Jackie (or Jack√©e, if you're feeling sassy) time and still be upset with my performance. My previous time was 12:51. Today's time was 10:41. I was mad because I wanted to get it closer to 10 flat. The row took me 4:07, which wasn't bad for me, but my legs were definitely starting to burn by the first 10 thrusters. I should've pushed myself harder through the thrusters and taken shorter rest periods on the pull-ups. I think I could've gotten sub 10. I don't air squat enough and I'll have to incorporate that into my daily warm up. 

Training Log: 2/7/11

Rest Day

Lots of mobility work.
Tippy is a mobility maven. She never goes anywhere without her lacrosse ball.

Training Log: 2/6/11

Reverse Hyper: 2x20 w/ 20lbs
Barbell Row: 3x5 w/ 135

Double Unders

Back, Hips, Glutes, Hamstrings, Shoulders

I used the open gym session at the box today to focus on the above, but mainly double unders: my arch nemesis. My problem with double unders is that my arms tend to drift out as I'm jumping. So, I tried doubling up a blue pull-up band and wrapping it around myself at the elbows to keep them pinned down. I looked ridiculous but it kept my arms down. The next issue was to focus on keeping my hands in as well. After practicing a few minutes with the band wrapped around me, I took it off and tried jumping rope like a normal person. I was able to get three double unders in a row at a time, which is a slight improvement.

Training Log: 2/5/11

Front Squat 5×3

Use 95% of Tuesday’s front squat 5-rep max and go ‘sets across’.

15, 12 and 9 rep rounds of:
Deadlift (225/155)
KB Swings (70/53)

I used 165 for sets across based on Tuesday's total. This was nice five sets. Not too challenging but certainly not super easy. On the metcon I went with the prescribed weights on this and finished in 11:30. My lower back was not liking me or this workout. It was on fire. I can't recall the last time I deadlifted in a wod. I usually don't deadlift twice in one week so I'll probably feel this tomorrow. 

8 Super Easy Super Bowl Paleo Snacks

Super Bowl Roman numeral something is on Sunday (I prefer college football and don't pay too much attention to the NFL), but that doesn't mean you have to lose points (if you're still in the midst of a Paleo Challenge), or just want some clean alternatives for Sunday snacking.

Dry Rub Chicken Wings
Baked in their own skin and using good quality ingredients in your dry rub, this is a tasty alternative to the sugary, chemical-filled wet variety of wings. Here is a dry rub for about two pounds' worth of chicken wings. Cover the wings generously on all sides and pat the wings with your hand to get the rub to stick. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Dry Rub Recipe
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
4 pinches sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

Paleo Deviled Eggs
12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup of Paleo Mayo
1 tbsp of dill
Small pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of paprika (per egg half)
Black pepper to taste

Once your eggs are peeled, cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out all the yolks into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Add remaining ingredients (except the paprika) and mix thoroughly with a hand mixer until it is nice and smooth. Fill the egg halves with the mixture and sprinkle each half with a little bit of paprika.

Shrimp and Veggies with Guacamole Dip
Carrots, mixed peppers, broccoli, you name it. It all goes well with a big bowl of guac. I'm a big fan of Avocado's Number Guacamole from Trader Joe's.

Celery sticks with Almond Butter
Simple and effective.

Bacon-Wrapped Anything
Dates, figs, scallops, etc.

Mixed Nuts 
Almonds, walnuts, macadamia, pecans, pistachios, brazil nuts; all of the Raw or Dry Roasted/Unsalted variety. Pour them in a bowl and mix them around. Boom.

Sweet Potato Chips with Cinnamon 
Sub coconut oil for olive oil in this recipe. Add a little nutmeg if you're feeling crazy.

Kale Chips
Great potato chip alternative, but they're very brittle and need to be consumed right out of the oven.

Food Porn - Plate of Virility

Grass-fed London broil seasoned in Penzey's Shallot-Pepper. Roasted beef bone marrow. Brussels sprouts sauteed with pork bellies. Pan-fried yams. I give you, the Plate of Virility.

Kara and I hardly spoke during dinner last night, consumed with our meat. At one point I turned to her, bone marrow dripping off my chin, and asked her, "So how is it?" To which she replied, "So good...As long as I don't look at the bone marrow." And then we high-fived like white people do.

Training Log: 2/4/11

Rest Day
That's my hog. 

The Great Bacon Hunt

Photo: Art of Manliness
There have been a lot of great Bacons in history: Sir Francis Bacon, Kevin Bacon, the Baconator. Bacon is breakfast dessert. Bacon is magical. Bacon can cure a hangover. Bacon can help you find your keys. Bacon makes you fly. Bacon turns that frown upside down. Bacon is America. Is there anything bacon can't do?

So when I realized a week ago that my go-to bacon from Trader Joe's has added sugar in it and that doesn't jive with my current allergy detox, we had a problem. Throughout last week, I stopped by Trader Joe's and Whole Foods looking for a bacon that was nitrate/nitrite free, uncured and no sugar added. Not a single package in either store met the prerequisite. Thus began The Great Bacon Hunt.

I took to the internet and used my Google-Fu to search for sugar-free bacon. I came across a brand called Plumrose (sold in Walmart of all places) that was sugar free and lower sodium, which was a plus.
However, it contained nitrites, so it didn't make the cut.

Further internet searches yielded negative results so I took to the forums of Mark's Daily Apple and Robb Wolf to see if anyone else out there shared in my dilemma. There I found suggestions of regional farmer's markets, co-ops and natural food stores that didn't apply to me. Most argued that the added sugar is so inconsequential that you don't even need to worry about it. My wife said the same thing. But that's not the point. If the goal is to completely eliminate a list of certain foods and ingredients for three weeks to alleviate allergies, then I need to stick to the plan and see if it works.

I did some more searching for local farmer's markets in my area that are open in the winter. The one closest to my house has locally produced meats from a farm in Lancaster, PA, but when I went to inquire with them on Sunday, their stand in the farmer's market was not open. Damn Amish.

I decided to circumvent the situation and make my own bacon. I was now on the hunt for pork bellies.

I go back to Whole Foods and ask one of the meat department employees if they have any pork bellies. A few minutes later, another employee comes out from deep within the bowels of the meat department lair with a shrink wrapped package of what must have been five pounds of pork belly. Pay dirt!

I tell him I want to make it into bacon and he says he can do that for me. Damn, it just keeps getting better. For $5 a pound I got my own sugar free, nitrate/nitrite free, uncured, thick-cut bacon. Gosh it sure does look purdy, don't it?
It looks like bacon but it doesn't taste like bacon. The strips were cut really thick but even with a little seasoning it still tasted like a strip of pork chop and not my beloved bacon. Maybe that little bit of sugar (as inconsequential as it may be) really is the limiting factor in flavor. The final verdict: there is no substitute for bacon. I'll have to wait it out. Pray for me.

Training Log: 2/3/11

Power Clean and Jerk – 7×2

Progressively load to reach a new 2-rep max.

500m row x2 (all out effort)

I took the same progression on today's clean and jerk as I did on Monday with the squat clean and jerk. I can power clean as much as my squat clean so that means my front squat is weak sauce. I got up to 175 again and could only get the first rep. Today, however, I wised up and dropped down to 170 on my last set and made both reps. 

I wasn't able to do the programmed metcon because there was a larger than normal turnout for the 5:30 am class and we ran out of medicine balls. So instead I did two max effort 500m rows. This wasn't a true time trial, and I'd still like to see what my 500m row time would be when I'm fresh, but I took 2 seconds off my previous 500m row. So I got that going for me...which is nice. My times for the row were 1:41.5 and 1:51.4. 

3 Month Results - Paleo Mass Gain Project

Month 3 Totals
Weight: 175.7
Body Fat: 13.0%

Month 2 Totals
Weight: 178.4
Body Fat: 13.5%

Month 1 Totals
Weight: 179.5 lbs
Body Fat: 13.5%

Starting Totals
Weight: 175.0 lbs
Body Fat: 11.7%

As I expected for this month, I lost some weight. Having been on vacation for a week and the recent allergy detox with a limited diet, I haven't been getting in enough calories each day. On the plus side, my strength has gone up over the past three months.

1 Rep Max Totals as of November 2010
Squat: 230 lbs
Deadlift: 320 lbs
Clean and Jerk: 165 lbs
Front Squat: 185 lbs
Weighted Pull-up (5rm): 12.5 lbs

Current 1 Rep Max Totals - 2/2/11
Squat: 245 lbs (+15 lbs)
Deadlift: 400 lbs (+80 lbs)
Clean & Jerk: 175 (+10 lbs)
Front Squat: 175 lbs x 5
Weighted Pull-up (5rm): 30 lbs (+17.5 lbs)

I've floated around 175 lbs since the summer of 1998. I guess that's my area of homeostasis.  Going forward, there's a couple ways to look at this. 1.) It seems that 175 lbs is where my body wants me to be and maybe I should just accept it. 2.) I suck at trying to gain weight but as long as my strength continues to increase, I shouldn't worry about my weight not increasing. 3.) Stop thinking about it so much and just eat more.

Training Log: 2/2/11

Rest Day
University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, PA - February 2011

Training Log: 2/1/11

Kara front squats in a To Kill a Mockingbird t-shirt because bookworms are sexy

Front Squat 5×5 (progressive load)
Deadlift 5rm

I can't remember the last time I did a 5x5 front squat but my previous 5rm was 135 and tonight I worked up to 175. The metcon was 75 push press (95/65), but I opted out of that to save my shoulder as the rest of the week has more heavy push jerks in store, and I thought the volume of this workout would set my shoulder rehab back a little. 

I pulled a new 5rm on the deadlift with 325 (10 lb PR). It was very slow and felt heavy. I'm not sure what happened when we were on vacation. It must have been the warm weather because 400 felt a lot easier than 325 did tonight. My legs need a nap now. 
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