My cholesterol

I’ve decided to laugh at the huge divide between my experience with nutrition and the gospel that organizations like the American Heart Association preach, particularly when it comes to cholesterol.

They say: Eat “4.5 servings” of fruits and vegetables a day.

I say: Eat tons of vegetables! Some fruit! Way more than 4.5 servings!

They say: Eat “at least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day” of fiber-rich whole grains.

I say: NO! to grains. Read this, this and this. Then come talk to me.

But I was hired to do a job, and since I haven’t yet convinced my co-workers and company that Paleo is awesome, I still have to write articles that reflect what the company believes: stuff like “fat is bad,” “whole grains are good.” That kind of stuff.

So I found it kind of ironic when my doctor’s office (a different place) mailed me results from the blood panel they did on a recent wellcheck, and everything LOOKED AWESOME.

Total Cholesterol: 232 (This is high — it should be 125-200 mg/dL)
HDL (good cholesterol): 122 (range to be is is > or = 46 mg /dL)
Triglycerides: 32 (range to be in is < 150 mg / dL)
LDL (bad cholesterol): 104 (range to be in is < 130 mg / dL)

So the skinny is this: even though I regularly eat eggs and bacon, coconut milk, coconut oil, organ meats and other foods and other fats and meats despised by the American Heart Association, my cholesterol is high on the side of “good” and low on “bad.”

Hmmm….

And the scale goes up…

I stepped on the scale this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks. I really shouldn’t do that.

For months my weight has been pretty steady. This morning, it was up. Hmmmm….

My knee jerk reaction is that this Zone thing and eating lunch is not working the way I intended. Fortunately, part of me is a little calmer, and I’m considering the other possibilities.

For one, stepping on the scale once in the morning is just a snapshot. Weight fluctuates throughout the day. Secondly — maybe what I ate over Christmas finally caught up to me. Third — I haven’t slept as much lately thanks to a freelance gig I just took, so the cortisol is probably going crazy.

It’s only been a few days of zoning Paleo. I’m still figuring this whole thing out. To be honest — it’s a complete pain in the butt. I can feel myself getting a little obsessive. This is not something anyone with a history of eating disorders should go near.

However, portion control is the ultimate goal. I’m no longer breastfeeding, but my brain is used to eating a lot of food to support it. So really, I need to get my brain used to less food. And hopefully, this will help fuel muscle growth.

In the meantime, it’s been a front squat kind of week!

Wednesday
Hip Power Snatch + BN Snatch Grip Push Press + OHS 3+3+3×3 → 45/45/50
Hang Snatch below the knee 2×3, 1×3 → 55/55/55, 55/55/60
Clean Pulls 5×3 → 70×3
Front Squat 65% 4×4 → 85/85/85/85

Thursday
Front squat 3×5 → 85/95/105/115/120
Team of 3 For Time:
2K row
100 Dual KB Thrusters
100 Burpees
Results: Team w/ Kat & Beth → 1500m row + 100 burpees+100 thrusters @ 25# DB (me), 20# DB (them)
Cutoff: 15min

The team WOD was fun, but what we did in class was NOT what they tweeted out the night before. It was supposed to be a 5K row and 250 each of the thrusters and burpees. We probably would have done it if there had been no strength component. But there just wasn’t time.

Well, off to bed for a little sleep tonight. G’night!

Indulgence is so sweet

Madeline shoving pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream into her mouth
Mmmmm... pumpkin cheesecake.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, because I sure did. I did just what I planned to do — hang out at home and eat a HUGE Thanksgiving meal.

First, a workout. I got it over with early Thanksgiving morning. I did not time it, but I went as fast as I could with minimal rest.

“Magic 50”
5 rounds
5 DB snatches each arm @25#
5 DB swings each arm @ 25#
10 burpees

Core training → 4 rounds: 5 wheel rollouts / 10 Russian twists @ 25# / 10 high-tension crunches w/ 5 sec hold / 12 supermans / 80 chinnies

Skillwork: 10 ring pullup hold-to-negatives

roasted turkey sitting on cutting board
Ready to be carved!

Then it was time to cook.

It was just the 4 of us this year, but that didn’t stop Andy and me from making a big meal. We picked up a fresh turkey from our friends at Richardson Farms and brined it overnight, then dried it for a couple of hours in the fridge. We followed a Cooks Illustrated recipe for roasting it, and after a couple of hours it came out perfect.

Also on the menu:

  • Roasted carrots
  • Mushroom-cauliflower-pecan stuffing
    (I changed up the linked recipe a bit. We used pecans instead of hazelnuts, cilantro instead of parsley, green onions instead of leeks, and we microwaved the cauliflower a bit in order to shorten the time in the oven.)
  • Mashed Turban squash
  • Gibblet Gravy
    (A modified Cooks Illustrated recipe, without the flour)
  • Sweet potato salad
    (This is so delicious: Roasted sweet potato wedges with roasted red peppers, scallions, mustard and olive oil)
  • Cranberry relish
    (A recipe from my mom that I modified to ditch the Jello and cut the sugar: Chopped cranberries, orange zest, peeled orange, peeled apple, apple cider & sugar)
  • Pumpkin cheesecake
Luke looks into the stand mixer bowl
Luke helped make our Thanksgiving dessert.

Dinner was a huge hit. We ate and ate and ate. I ate too much, truth be told, and my stomach protested for a while after dinner.

Fortunately, I made room for some cheesecake and homemade whipped cream.

The kids had a fabulous time, and to be honest, we are not inundated with leftovers.

Andy made a stock from the leftover bones after the kids went to bed.

I’ve got plans for the leftover turkey. How about turkey omelets for breakfast and coconut curry with turkey for dinner?

I’m sad my day of indulgence is over. I don’t plan on eating any more of that cheesecake. That’s OK — Andy and the kids are more than happy to oblige in eating up what’s left.

Madeline and Luke sit at table eating
The dessert was a hit.

What’s your holiday eating plan?

pecan pie and cherry pie on table
Holiday Pies by Andy Castro (from Flickr)

The holidays are coming! The party invitations are streaming in. Family is calling to plan get-togethers and gifts for the kids. And soon, we will be inundated with goodies from every direction.

Anyone who says the holidays aren’t about eating is full of crap.

I’m not too worried about the holidays and food. I already have my strategy. I’ve planned out my indulgences. I mean – come on – it’s unrealistic to say you’re not going to eat sweets at all during the holidays. I have comfort food cravings, but I’m pretty much in control of my cravings at this point. The way I’ve been eating for the past few months has helped knock back the sugar monster inside me, and I can avoid the crap.

I keep the Whole 9 guide to cheating in mind. If I’m going to indulge, it needs to be special. Next week we’re having a special Thanksgiving feast at work that involves lobster and rolls. Yum! And we’re having sweet potato pie with our family Thanksgiving. Mmmmmm!

(Speaking of food, the Statesman’s Addie Broyles had an excellent story this week about paleo. You should check it out!)

I love food, but I also love the results of what I’ve been doing. My weight has been steady, and I’ve noticed my body composition is beginning to change. I see more muscle definition, particularly in my shoulders and arms. Nutrition has made the difference in leaning out and gaining muscle. Eating clean is where it’s at. And I’m sticking with it so I start off 2012 with a bang.

Gotta get through 2011 first and finish on a high note. The cold weather doesn’t leave me as sweaty, and it makes me feel like I didn’t work as hard in class. I didn’t even take off my jacket Thursday morning.

3 x 7 Power Snatch

35-45-50-55-55-(no more time)

AMRAP 8 min
10 ring rows
100m run (sub rowing)
20 situps

Results → 3 rounds + 10 rows + 100m row

Intervals at 4:30

I was awake by 4:30 this morning. No coffee required.

I’ve been taking ZMA supplements before bed, and that — combined with an extra hour of sleep, no nighttime anti-histamines, and adjusting to my tightened nutrition — have helped me feel much more rested without caffeine.

I’ve also found myself reading more and more of Ross Emanit’s book Infinite Intensity, which is written for fighters. And while I’m no boxer, I do want to be strong, powerful and fast — the qualities of a fighter. (I guess I’m also missing Kung Fu a little.)

Ross’ training plan is really interesting, and years ago, Andy and I did the 50 training plan from Never Gymless. That was great.

So I’ve been incorporating more and more of Ross’ training regimen into my routine. This morning I did intervals.

4 x 800m (90 sec rest between intervals)
Average time: 3:53 per interval
5 x 50m (jog back to start between intervals)
Time each round: 13 sec

I threw in some ring pull up holds and double unders, just to keep practicing. Then I finished up with core training.

3 rounds
5 wheel rollouts
6 side bends w/ 25# DB (each side)
12 supermans
10 Russian twists (each side with 6# med ball)
60 chinnies

Whew! Those wheel rollouts and side bends are no joke! I did not get my chest anywhere near the ground on the rollouts. Maybe one day?

Breakfast was fun. I’m going into work later this week and I actually cooked breakfast for us. I even cooked Mads up some pork and zucchini:

pork and zucchini in the pan

I only eat protein and fat at breakfast, so here’s what I ate:

Pork and pork pan sausage with avocado on a white plate

My day went downhill from there. I actually left for work to escape the crying. I love my daughter, but she’s been super fussy lately, and I felt like I could do nothing to appease her.

Then I had a long talk with Andy and we came to the agreement that I will not join Zach’s Olympic Lifting class in October. Or November. Or December. Maybe January. Which really disappoints me because I had my heart set on it. I’ve felt pretty sad since the conversation, even though I know it’s the right decision.

Of course, I risk circumstances changing, class times changing, class prices changing… but what are you gonna do, right? I’m privileged with the opportunity to go to my current class. At least I get that.

Being a responsible grownup really sucks sometimes.

The Paleo Pitch

Lately, I’ve found myself talking a lot about what I eat and what I don’t eat, when I eat and when I don’t eat, and why I eat the way I do.

I feel like Paleo is pretty straight forward. I’ve been on this path for so long, it’s a no-brainer for me. I feel great. I look great. And I read a lot about it, so I’m confident that science backs me up, despite crappy mentions from Dr. Oz (What To Eat – Sept. 12 issue) or utter nonsense posts on the CNN Health Blog. (The comments to the blog post are awesome. Definitely read them, and follow @robbwolf if you don’t already, because he posted rebuttal info.)

But I have to admit, I’ve done a poor job of explaining what Paleo IS, why it’s beneficial and how it’s worked for me. Andy remembers all of that science behind it. He’s like a reference book, I swear. Me? I read stuff all the time, and I still can’t explain the science when my kids’ babysitter asks about it.

That’s why I was thrilled to see the Whole9 folks post their elevator pitch. It’s awesome. It starts with the positive — about what you eat, not what you don’t. Basically, it sums it up perfectly.

I plan to memorize it. Or at least use it as a guide to develop my own.

I’ve been lax about writing about what I eat on this blog. It’s been a goal of mine to add my daily food log, but I just haven’t had the time.

Perhaps folks would like to know what kinds of dinners we create? Because they’re super fabulous. I have to say, I look forward to dinner. Lately they’ve been way better than a restaurant (with the exception of Ruby’s BBQ) — 4-star for sure!

OK, except for last night. I tried my hand at making beef and broccoli stir fry. It wasn’t bad, but if I had eaten it in a restaurant, I wouldn’t have gone back.

I’ll leave the stir fries to Andy. His are amazing. Andy is quite the chef. He’s taught me a lot about how to make quality food taste even better.

Barbell love

Steak and my barbell.  Those two things totally turned my Saturday around.

I already wrote about the Diva Dash, and when I got home I felt like I had something to prove.  I felt like I needed to do something to make up for how poorly I did.  The baby was asleep, I was already sweaty and gross, and Andy was up for a workout, so we pulled out out my workout log.

Being the total freak that I am, I have Post-its of workouts stuck throughout my log for the next 3 months.  Maybe I knew I would want to workout after the Diva Dash?  Because this is what was posted for Saturday:

“Grace”
30 Clean and Jerk

While Andy set up the bars, Luke and I went on a short warmup run, then I pulled out my kettlebell.  I’ve been trying to work more kettlebell into my warmups after talking to Steph about her warmups in the Oly class she’s taking with Zach (I totally want to take it!).  So I did kettlebell carries in the farmer, clean and overhead position on both sides.

I couldn’t decide whether to load the bar with 65# or 55#.  I chickened out and used 55# — using the heat as an excuse. (I need to cut that out.)

In retrospect, I should have tried 65#, because I totally slammed through this workout.  In fact, I was able to thrust up from the squat clean position, rather than just stand up and push jerk the weight.  My results were quite an improvement from the last time I did this WOD.

Time: 4:49 @ 55#

After a shower and some playtime with the kids, we celebrated my new job (yes, I got a new job and I’m headed back to work full-time) with STEAK!  We haven’t had steak in AGES, and Andy picked two hefty one up from our friends at Fredericksburg Grassfed Beef during his trip to the downtown Farmer’s Market.

Talk about delicious!

I downed my entire steak, which was huge, and covered in sauteed mushrooms.  There was salad and braised kale on the side with red wine.  It was amazing.

Feeding the paleo habit

Luke eats his taco at the Triangle Farmers MarketMadelineTonight, Andy went through the seed packets I had stashed in a container in the kitchen over the winter.

I’ve been so busy with the baby and work and working out, I haven’t had time to properly get my butt into the garden and plant some seeds.

Thank goodness Andy has my back.

We eat A LOT of vegetables. Every day.  More than we did as vegetarians.  It’s good, but it can be expensive.  I mean, grains are really cheap by comparison.

So we do what we can to save money.  Growing our own is one way — although it’s risky.  You never know what pest or disease can take out your crops.  (Last year our squashes were nearly decimated by the squash vine borer.)

I supplement with trips to the grocery store and farmers markets, because I like to support local farmers.

Every Wednesday, the kids and I make a trek over to The Triangle for the SFC Farmers Market where we pick up our CSA box and our weekly order from Richardson Farms.  Luke nearly always gets a Tacodeli taco (bean, potato, & cheese), and the guy knows him because Luke has been ordering and paying for his own taco for YEARS.

But I digress.  We do all of this because food quality is important to us.  We eat meat, vegetables, some fruit, nuts, seeds and good quality oils.  (Well, except for that taco.)  Vegetables and meat can be expensive (don’t get me started on food subsidies and inequalities — I’ll leave that for Michael Pollen and Mark Bittman.), so I’m a realist, and I’m growing what I can.  I try to keep a blog about my gardening.  You can find it at Austin Earth if you’re interested.

In the meantime, I’m full from a dinner of delicious salmon chowder and salad, and I’m off to bed to rest up before Thursday morning’s WOD.  Primal fuel.  Gotta love it.

Paleo kids: It’s not hard

Luke's bento lunch boxes for TuesdayEver wonder what I feed my 4-year-old?  I thought I would share a photo of the lunch I sent to school with him on Tuesday.

He got a hard-boiled egg, a ham and cheese rollup with mayo and Dijon mustard, carrots, cucumbers, green pepper, sliced apples and oranges.

He and his classmates sit down at set tables everyday, with napkins and silverware and everything.  Convenience and junk foods are not allowed. It makes it easy.  He doesn’t ask for crap like Lunchables  or potato chips and I don’t offer.

I try to vary his lunch every day, but there’s always a protein, a vegetable or two and a fruit.  Sometimes I send leftover roast chicken or hamburger.  Sometimes he gets berries or watermelon.  I always save sweet potatoes, because those are his fav (he’ll get some on Wednesday).  Rarely — and I mean rarely — do I pack a sandwich.

There was a time when I thought it would be impossible — mean, even — to deny my child bread and crackers.

Can you imagine?  Now, after being the primary caregiver for the past 9 months and reading blogs like the Everyday Paleo and Growing Up Paleo and Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution,  I realize that it’s more detrimental to my kids’ health to continue with the grains.

That’s not to say that I’m so strict that Luke never eats bread and crackers and cake. But I offer alternatives, and slowly, over the course of the last few months, he prefers, and even asks for, my alternatives FIRST.

What’s that Luke?  You’re hungry?  How about an apple with almond butter?  A ham roll up?

And I try really hard not to push too hard, because I don’t want to make food an issue.  That can only backfire in the end.

Does he still love pizza?  Grilled cheese sandwiches?  Sugar?  You bet.  But it’s getting easier to get him to try other things.

And actually enjoy them.

Eat your heart (out)

I’m sure I shocked many of my Facebook friends yesterday when I posted this:

Cindy Brummer You would never believe what I just ate for dinner. I can’t believe it myself. In fact, just a year ago the idea would have given me a heart attack. Pun completely intended.

And then, after a couple of friends guessed, I wrote this:

Cindy Brummer That’s right, Fred. Heart. It was in our freezer — one of the few remaining cuts from the half calf we bought over a year ago. So I found a recipe on MDA and cooked it up. And you know what? It was pretty damn good.

I grossed out a few people.  Heart is not what most people would consider a good meal.  But I ran across this recipe on Mark’s Daily Apple, and since we just happened to have a beef heart in the freezer, I decided to give it a try.

The heart was already halved and most of the valves and connective tissue cut out, so I didn’t have to do much.  Slow-cooking it definitely made it tender.  I really enjoyed it, although, when I stopped to think about what I was eating, I had a little trouble getting it down.  So I just put it out of my mind.  Andy, on the other hand, just couldn’t put it aside, and he ate little of his portion.

I’m no dummy, and I didn’t tell Luke it was anything other than “beef.”  Which isn’t a lie.  And I don’t think I was withholding the truth either, because I rarely tell him where the cuts of meat that we’re eating were taken from the cow.  But that’s because I usually don’t know.  But Luke liked it and ate a bit of what he was served.

Anyway, the beef heart was good.  I loved grossing out my friends.  And I love trying new stuff.  I mean — it’s not like I was eating intestines or something.  We’re talking about a muscle!