I hate diets, but I’m on one and it seems to be working…

So I am normally not the diet-of-the-week guy.  I did fiddle with Tim Ferriss’s Slow Carb Diet a while back and I did find it useful, but I think that athletic fueling needs to be consistent and dependent on goals, time of the season, etc.

I put on a few pounds over the course of late 2013 while I was laid up with my injured hip.  I couldn’t really do much without the hip and groin completely becoming angry and inflamed, so I tried to stay off it as much as possible.  My way of thinking was that the less collateral damage I created, the easier my post-procedure rehab would be, and I was largely correct.  I was able to begin stationary biking and elliptical work pretty soon after my surgery, and now 10 weeks post-procedure I just started a jogging program.  Not shabby if I do say so myself!

I’ve been enjoying Brett Blankner’s podcast “Zen and the Art of Triathlon” for a few weeks now.  A while back he had Vinny Tortorich (America’s Angriest Trainer) on his show, and I grabbed his book “Fitness Confidential”.  I like it, and I’ve been hearing more references to Ketogenic Diets from various sources.

Generally speaking, Ketosis is a state where your body is using fat as a primary fuel source.  You can achieve this by keeping overall net-carb consumption low (many say under 50g of net daily carbs), so this puts emphasis on protein and fat.  Veggie carbs are typically good as the fiber accompanying them offsets the grams of carbs.  I’ve been fairly low carb for a couple of weeks, and been gluten-free for the most part.  My weight is still holding steady despite ramping up my activity, so I decided to give Vinny’s NSNG (no sugar, no grains) a shot.  This means zero sugar and nothing that originates from a grain (so bye bye quinoa, brown rice, etc).  Beans are OK but I’ve been skipping them in the short term just to speed my fat loss.

If you read into this diet, it’s pretty solid and a fairly easy one to maintain.  Using some urine test strips both my wife and I are currently in a state of ketosis, and my energy has been good.  On the workout side, I’ve been spending most of my time in Zone 2 and just building base so I haven’t needed big amounts of burst energy for power intervals or anything like that.  I will say that I’m learning that the simple word FAT is misleading to many people that automatically assume the negative.  Dietary fat is really disconnected from the fat around your midsection, aside form the unfortunate nomenclature assigned to it.

By reducing sugar and carbs in your system, fat gets moved to the primary fuel source and provides steady continuous energy without spikes in blood sugar.  I feel full all the time until I’m ready to eat.  My gut has shrunk this week as well and I would guess I’ve lost a couple pounds so far.  You can read more here – http://vinnietortorich.com/nsng-faq/

 

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Meet my new coach, sort of…

So being injured, I’m trying to keep this time both productive and positive.  Unfortunately my mood has been a little dark, as I am truly one of those sick, demented people that feels like a slacker when the workout gets cancelled!  Not “Jack-from-Shining” or anything, but just a little “off”…

"Did you do your BRICK yet?"

“Did you do your BRICK yet?”

 

Back in the summer of 2011 is when I began to take my fitness and body seriously – so I became compelled to start running.  You can read about my backstory here, but once upon a time if you took away my ability to train, I’d say “So what?  Bring me a beer.”  Now it’s an entirely different ballgame.

 

So I’ve been mildly bummed that I can’t do anything, and as I’m sometimes wont to do I have been eating very poorly.  I had been viewing my clean(er) eating as a way to fuel workouts, but take away those workouts and – why bother? – right?

Of course not, but we’re not always rational and logical beings.

So I arrived at a point where I needed to SNAP out of it, and I did.  Rather than focus on what I can’t do, I am making the choice to focus on my goals.  So two things were accomplished this week:

  1. I’m hiring a swim coach locally to get me more efficient.  He’s actually a teammate that happens to be a tremendous high school swim coach with about 20 years of experience.
  2. I’ve made a deal with myself that once I get down to goal racing weight I will make a gear acquisition – CARBON WHEELS!
Not my bike, but these would look great on my Cannondale Slice5!

Not my bike, but these would look great on my Cannondale Slice5!

 

As for program coaching, I’ve decided to go with BeginnerTriathlete.com and their online coaching program.  I’ve joined as a GOLD member, and mapped out my 2014 season back to front.  The phases look like a little like this:

  1. 16 weeks of sport-focused training on my two areas of improvement (8 for swim, 8 for bike) focusing on technique and power/speed.
  2. “70.3 and beyond”  16-week program that brings me to my first 70.3 the EAGLEMAN in early June 2014.
  3. 20 week program to build to Ironman Arizona 2014.

These 3 (actually 4) programs all dovetail from one to the other with at least a week of rest as well as a taper into the milepost race.  I’ll be adding a couple of shorter tuneup races early-season locally, but for the most part its going to be about training and less about race shirts and swag next year.

As for BeginnerTriathlete, the online training and program layout is very solid, and I like what I see.  I’ve imported in all of my Garmin data and it was shockingly simple.  I like what I see, and once I am cleared to ramp back up into training mode I’ll be activating the online coaching function.  All in all it seems like a great value for an organized, geek data-driven athlete that has some clue as to what they’re doing.  If things do not go well, I can always move to a more traditional coach, but I’ve got ample resources at my disposal so I might as well save the money.

 

Quick healthy recipe for the 4th – Grilled Cauliflower

I don’t do a lot of recipes here on PersonalReboot, but this one is good enough to share.  I’ve never eaten cauliflower before we tried this – not even off of a veggie plate with ranch dip.  I’ve been completely uninterested in that odd-looking white abomination of the vegetable family…

First get yourself one of these:

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Secondly – something like this grill top smoke box will enhance ALL of your grilling.

 

Here’s what you do:

  • Cut up your cauliflower head into small florets – it doesn’t really matter how big or small, but they should be universal in size (tough to do but try).  The larger the pieces the more heat and smoke they will be able to take and still have some tenderness inside.
  • Put your “cauliflower-shrapnel” into a big ziploc bag, and marinate with your vinegrette of choice.  Any basic salad dressing will do, but I like something really simple, like garlic, southwest seasoning rub, lime juice, water, and a touch of olive oil.  Marinate for a couple of hours.
  • Get your grill hot – I have a very basic gas grill, but get your grill wok oiled and warm and your smoke box up to temperature.  If you soak your wood chips you’ll get more smoke, but it will take a lot longer for that to occur (I usually go dry).
  • When ready – slam that cauliflower down on the grill!  By now your smoke box should be going good, but again you really don’t need it.  The throw-off marinade should flash some flames up onto your wok and it’ll be all good!
  • Move your cauliflower periodically – you should be browning them evenly, but if smoking be sure not to open the grill hood TOO MUCH (you lose your smoke every time you do that.
  • You can cook as thoroughly as you like – we like ours pretty cooked through and crunchy.

 

Thank me later – this is really a cool way to enjoy a pretty plain-vanilla veggie!

On coaching, family involvement, and nutrition

To this point, my learning process in triathlon training has been largely self-discovered.  I’ve read a ton, attended webinars, subscribed to many newsletters, periodicals, and YouTube channels and have become pretty knowledgeable on a lot of the basic training methodologies.  I generally pick things up quickly when I encounter new areas of study, and I normally immerse myself in a very compulsive and “addicted” way.

My local triathlon team is “coached” but not specifically so.  Our coach leads a weekly Saturday AM swim workout, and we have optional organized Monday night track workout, Tuesday night group ride, and Wednesday night open water swims come summer time.  Our team is fed a weekly training newsletter, and we organize well at key races in the mid-Atlantic area.  These resources have been great to help me learn the basics, but lately I’ve been wondering if I should engage with a dedicated coach?

I attended a webinar with the founder of TriDot – this is a virtual coaching program built on data analytics and real training outcomes as opposed to theory.  Attendees of the webinar were invited to “apply” to enroll in a “Free-for-Feedback” program.  In short you commit to an initiation fee and then two months’ worth of training limited guidance in exchange of providing your own personal qualitative and quantitative feedback in set intervals.  If all of the commitments are met you receive a refund equal to the initiation fee and first 2 months.

I’m not sure how I feel about this – after all its a significant financial commitment for a system that sounds sensible and rooted in real outcomes, but I don’t think there’s quite enough coaching engagement for the price.  I’m happy I “qualified” (they have some basic requirements that the training candidates must meet) but I’m not certain its for me.

I think a lot of my immediate gains for this season will be pretty low-hanging fruit.  First, I need to build my overall fitness.  The one thing I want to change is training for POWER before ENDURANCE.  They say that the power thresholds become limiters down the line when endurance is built.  If your power is limited, no amount of lower zone training will make you faster, just more aerobically efficient.  I think I better understand this now, and I’m going to take the next 4 weeks to maximize power in all phases of training.

I have the power - bitches!

I have the power – bitches!

On the family side of things, my wife has really been a source of inspiration for me.  In the last month, my wife has made some profound changes – namely she’s not only gone vegan but also “Raw until 4pm”.  She has committed to yoga and strength training (doing something active every day), and has also began the practice of “trying something new at least once per week”.  It’s been incredibly inspiring to watch her discover new things, and it’s really brought us both closer together.  Not too mention, she’s lost 20 pounds in the last 30 days!

Our kids are also looking at the two of us for a positive example, and they are both asking to go outside and play more, considering more healthy food options (given their ages of 7 & 8 this is more OUR responsibility as parents), and just being more active and healthy.  We completed our winter swim team season, and they both came to me and ASKED to sign up for a kids’ triathlon.  I happened to find a good one at the end of this month that is well within their physical grasp, and they will be competing in respective 7-8 and 9-10 age groups.  We’ve had a great time getting outside when the weather cooperates and back in the pool!

Chip off the old block?  I hope so!

Chip off the old block? I hope so!

In watching my wife alter her diet – and by the way her fasting morning blood sugar has dropped about 100 points every day! – I’ve tried to make some changes in my own diet strategy.  I also recently completed Rich Roll’s book “Finding Ultra” – very much worth a read if you are an endurance athlete.  I’ve always found the word “Vegan” a little like the untouchable 3rd Rail – it typically comes with so many other social and political connotations (that I do not align with for the most part).  Still there are some great benefits to eating more like a vegan and achieving a better nutritional balance:

  1. I am eating WAY MORE veggies than ever before.  A self-confessed meat and potatoes guy, this has been a big adjustment for me, but it’s been a welcomed one.
  2. I have been having a green machine smoothie each morning for breakfast – heavy on the spinach, kale, avacado, green raw protein, coconut water, banana and pineapple.  I’ve been able to skip coffee most mornings!
  3. Eating more whole, unprocessed foods is causing me to be less hungry, and not stuff my face so much.  I still have lapses, but I’ve been pretty good.
  4. Gluten is pretty much gone from my diet at this point.  I won’t say I’m totally gluten-free, but I’m probably 85% there.  Gluten is an insidious bitch, and hides in all kinds of stuff you wouldn’t think it would be.
  5. I’ve been playing around with HerbaLife 24 products – specifically “Hydrate” and “Prolong”.  I’m going to do a full review on both sometime soon, but they work extremely well but have a couple of annoying aspects to them.  Plus they both are very expensive and not too much more effective than regular old G2 with a scoop of Blox for longer workout sessions.

All in all – my energy has been high, and I’ve been able to amp-up the intensity quite a bit.  I haven’t even begun my half iron program yet (20 weeks), but I’m ready to rock.

I think the vegan thing isn’t quite up my alley, but I do intend on getting closer to a better balance – plus I can’t envision a world where I would pass on bacon…

Sorry if this offends you...

Sorry if this offends you…

Yes...because Bacon!

Yes…because Bacon!