Monday, 27 February 2012

My new best friend: Paleo Track!!

Hold onto your hats for a big flipping news flash:

I like looking at things.

Ew, that sounds a bit lecherous. How about this:

I'm a visual learner.

Better, yes? I absorb information by seeing it. Could be text, could be a graph or even a photo (oh, what a stretch you might be saying) but this is the way I learn. For the past few weeks on my Primal journey I've been struggling to figure out more precisely how much I should be eating of each of the major macronutrient groups (fat, protein and carbs). I was browsing through some Paleo/Primal blogs and saw a reference to something called PaleoTrack.

At first glance PaleoTrack seems deceptively simple: track your food intake. I had been doing that in my daily food/exercise journal but so far they had really just been words on a virtual page. On a lark I decided to put in my previous day's food intake and suddenly I could "see" how my food choices were adding up.

Breakfast and lunch entered into PaleoTrack
Now for a visual learner like me this was a big deal! I could enter in my breakfast and lunch meals and see how much further I needed to eat (or not eat) to get to my macronutrient goals. Individual foods can be picked from a search/results drop-down menu. If you can't find a particular food you can easily add it in yourself with the information on the label.

Individual recipes listed for easy selection
But wait, it gets better! What if you're making a meal from scratch and it isn't listed? You can make a custom recipe entry listing all the ingredients and the number of servings it makes and you will get a nutrition label for a single serving portion as well as a tab to add it to your daily journal. What a great time saver, and if you're super hungry and have TWO servings of meatballs you can easily click that into your journal.

Now it is soooooo easy for my to see (and thus, understand) where my food requirements are either lacking or in a state of overage.

And on the subject of food requirements I had recently posted one of my day's food logs and how I arrived at those numbers over on my Facebook page for The Reluctant Primalist which I'll post here as well.

How do I get "those numbers" as targets for macronutrients? Here's my breakdown:

255 pounds today (down from 272!)
37.1% body fat = 94 pounds of fat, subtract from total weight =
160 pounds lean body mass (bone, muscles, stuff not fat) times
0.7g protein/pound of lean body mass (moderately active) =
112g of protein per day, only about 450 cal.

less than 75g carbs/day to stay in the fat-burning zone = 300 cal.

My numbers from today:
147g protein
71g carbs
1692 calories total

My meals:

3 slices bacon (baked earlier but warmed in pan to get a little fat)
2 fried eggs
coffee w/ whole milk

big-ass salad of spinach greens, green onion, carrot, peppers, sunflower seeds, Italian infused macadamia nut oil & Balsalmic vinegar dressing and topped with a garlic stuffed olive
7.5 ounce can of canned red salmon (Alaska wild caught)
green tea w/ lemon

handful of trail mix: almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, raisins, 65% dark chocolate chips

brisket (OMG it was awesome) with mushrooms
broccoli w/ lemon dill butter

8 oz. glass of Merlot

Never hungry. And THAT is an awesome feeling.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Still here, still Primal!

It's been quiet as I've figured out how to skin the inside on one of my fingers with my very sharp knives.

But have no fear, I'm still on the Primal road and slimming down. Amazed at how my normal outings photographing airplanes have been made easier because I'm not pausing to eat continuously.

Will be posting more when it isn't so hard to type!

Friday, 17 February 2012

FAILURE.... or is it?

At the beginning of this blog adventure I told you that I would "tell it like it is" and today I'll hold true to that. Life has warts, you know?

So this was the second weigh-in for the Yokota's Biggest Loser YBL event and I'm not nearly as excited as I was for the first one since I've gained almost a half-pound. I can already hear some folks thinking "HA! Failure of the Primal lifestyle... you should eat some whole-grain noodles fattie!" But being the insightful old man that I am I can very easily look back at my food logs and journal entries and see exactly where the problem is.

It's my wife's fault.

Now READ ALL OF THE STUFF BELOW before you start sending the hate mail please.

I blame the bird. Well, maybe not...
My wife is awesome. She's smart, has a good head on her shoulders, has a great sense of humor and is easy on the eyes to top it all off. She has a laugh that simply makes my day when I hear it. Because of her awesomeness she recently got promoted at work and as a result we may have to move this summer after being in Japan only a year. Moving is stressful; moving early sucks rocks. Our last assignment we moved after two years of a three year tour and that was painful enough. This, at the moment, is worse. We have a fantastic church, the kids are happy with their schools, friends and activities and I have yet to get a photo of Mt. Fuji that's worth showing to anyone. I feel like I'm on the express train to Stressville.

Did I mention I happen to be a stress eater? I might have left that part out.

Thank God I have become pretty firmly set in my Primal eating habits. Previously I would have easily packed an additional ten pounds onto my short suffering body under conditions like this (being the grocery shopper can have some negative side effects) but I'm out of the danger zone when it comes to the processed carbs I loved so much i.e. potato chips, french fries and the like.

But there has been some extra cheese hanging around in the fridge. And since I'm the King of Rationalization I said to myself, "Self, cheese doesn't have carbs in it! You should just heat some up on a plate and it won't be nearly as bad as those evil bags of sin you used to eat." So I did. Totally oblivious (OK, I admit I just didn't care) that despite being carb-friendly I could easily plug a thousand extra calories into my body throughout the day. And I did. More than once. sigh 

Because of the YBL weigh-in today I didn't continue on this course. Because of the food logs and journal entries I keep it was very easy to see what happened on such-and-such day AS WELL AS what my food response was to that day. Now, it is super-easy to make an adjustment and since I have a couple of people in my inner-circle of trust that will keep me on track I don't look at this as a failure as much as a lesson that I needed to learn. Emotions can trigger all kinds of ugliness and when combined with a liberal application of rationalization can start me back on the road to fattie land.

You see, our lives are about personal accountability. I made a choice and there were results from that choice. I can't blame my wife, her promotion, the lack of snow in Japan or the fact that I got canvas Nikes in 9th grade and not the cool leather ones. None of that crap is responsible for my actions. I am.

And thus, officially, it is not my wife's fault. Did I mention she's awesome?????

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Guac and Plantain Chips

The first time my wife and I went to China one of the members of our travel group asked our guide if we would be served dog since it was prevalent in the region we were in.

"Oh no, they would never waste dog meat on you." she replied. We laughed but understood that they wouldn't go to the trouble of making it for us as we wouldn't be able to "properly appreciate" it.

And so it's kind of a running joke in our house that if I make something that looks quite delish (happens more frequently than you might think) but isn't quite suitable for someone on a non-Primal diet that I'll just say "dog" and she knows that, despite looking super awesome, it contains that "evil saturated fat" that might kill her where she stands. wink wink

And totally unrelated to this is my guacamole recipe that I made to eat with some freshly-fried plantains.


3 avocados
1 lime
1/2 tsp salt (I use Kosher)
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2-1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
fresh ground pepper to taste
2-3 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
3-4 Tbsp chopped cilantro (stems and all)*
2 big garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

* When buying fresh cilantro cut off the thicker stems just below where the majority of the leaves start to appear and discard. Chop the rest of the greens, stem and all, and use them like this. I think you get a much more robust cilantro flavor and you never notice it in a chunky guacamole mix.

Slice open the avocados, remove the seed and scoop them out of the shells into a bowl. Cut your lime in half and use the juice from one half to coat the avocados, roughly chopping them into large pieces while you assemble the rest of your ingredients. Add them in and stir gently breaking the avocado pieces into smaller bite-sized pieces. Using a spatula level the guacamole in your bowl and cover with plastic wrap (touching the surface) to keep air from turning it brown, chill in the fridge so the flavors can marry.


Be sure to wait until your plantains are ripe before cooking. Think of waiting until they look like bananas being softened for banana bread: lots of black on the outside. Otherwise they're ick.

Future ex-plantain chips cooking in macadamia oil
Slice your plantains very thin with the skin ON otherwise you'll bruise the flesh. Then make a small slice in the skin and peel it off. Heat your frying oil of preference (I use macadamia nut oil) in a small pan until hot then place them gently in the pan and cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook another 30 seconds on that side. Pull them out and drain on a paper towel, then mash them with the back of a wooden spoon to flatten them out a bit. Cook 'em again until they're golden brown! Drain on paper towels and dust with a touch of salt and red pepper.

Serve with a spoonful of your freshly-made guaca-holy-moly and you have a tasty snack! If you don't think you'll finish all the guac off in a day or two you can freeze it to enjoy later. The plantain chips never last so I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to store them, sorry.

UPDATE: Thanks to a very nifty site called PaleoTrack I was able to work out the nutrient breakdown for a serving (1/8 of the prepared amount) of Guaca-holy-moly:

Guaca-holy-moly nutrition info for 1/8 of the prepared amount.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The word of the day....MEATZA!!

Shamelessly stolen from Justin Owings via Pinterest (WHAT?!?!?!? You don't have a Pinterest account???? Ask me for an invite if you need one). It is a crustless pizza perfect for the Primal lifestyle and the biggest bonus is that everyone on my house will eat it so on this night it is a one-meal prep event.

MEATZA crust in the pan

2 lbs of ground beef
2 eggs
3 tsp salt
1 tsp carroway seeds
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Parmesean cheese

pizza toppings
tomato/spaghetti sauce
mozzarella cheese

Preheat your over to 450F. I used my KitchenAid mixer to get the hamburger mixing while I added my eggs and the dry spices. When mixed, spread it on a large baking sheet (12x17), I oiled mine with macadamia nut oil. Push it all the way to the edges and up forming a little lip which will later hold in your sauce. Bake for 10 minutes and drain the liquid when done. It will shrink a good deal but don't sweat it. Switch your over to broil.

Toppings for the MEATZA!
For my toppings I selected green and orange peppers, red onions, chopped garlic, black and green olives, pepperoni and mushrooms.

While the MEATZA crust is cooking I saute the peppers, onions and garlic. I spoon out the sauce on the cooked beef crust then layer on my toppings and finally finish it off with a nice thick layer of the mozzarella cheese. Place the completed MEATZA under the broiler and keep an eye on it, 5-10 minutes depending on your taste. I like mine on the crispy side so it was nearly 10 minutes. Makes 12 slices. ENJOY!

MEATZA going in under the broiler

Completed MEATZA yielding 12 pieces.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Looking for motivation?

Sometimes motivation comes at you from a totally unexpected angle.

Yesterday one of the moms of a friend of my daughter came up to me and says "Your daughter's real proud of you."

I throw her the furrowed-brow look and she goes on to explain that my 12 year-old was bragging to her daughter that her Daddy has been exercising and not eating the cookies she offers and that it makes her happy.

Well that will light a fire under your ass, believe you me.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Running Playlist 10FEB2012

Hero- Skillet
Monster- Skillet
Student Driver- Stellar Kart
Activate- Stellar Kart
Building the Church (live)- Steve Vai
In God We Trust- Stryper
Ammunition- Switchfoot
Adding to the Noise- Switchfoot

So there you go, a good sampling of what I listen to while running in the dark. Enjoy!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Use it in a sentence....

My two girls, ages 9 and almost 12, love to ask me questions. They especially love to ask questions when I'm working on the laptop trying to create a literary masterpiece for my blog. Lately, the favorite questions are of the "what does this word mean, Daddy" variety. Mind you, I have taught them how to use the computer to look words up and have even gone so far as to show them how to use a real, physical dictionary (oh, the horror) but for some reason they persist in quizzing me.

"I don't know, use it in a sentence." is one of my favorite replies. I tell them that to better serve their homework needs I need to know what they're talking about, I need some CONTEXT. When I'm talking about my experiences living a Primal lifestyle, context is a big deal as well.

One of my neighbors asked what I had for breakfast and I told her I greatly enjoyed a Grok Dino egg. Confused face (on her, not me). So I told her it's a hard-boiled egg covered with a layer of sausage and then wrapped with bacon, cooked until done and eaten piping hot. It's based on the Scotch egg you can find in the UK but I use BIG eggs and a THICK coating of sausage for a truly Primal treat.

"You should have a bowl of cereal. It's healthy for you."

Kraken from Clash of the Titans 1981- Wikipedia
Release the Context!! (Clash of the Titans viewers feel free to giggle).

The job of insulin in our body is to regulate our blood sugar level. This sugar is necessary to power our muscles and organs and any extra sugar not stored is converted to fat (by insulin) and stuffed in our fat cells. But if you bombard your body with high levels of carbohydrates after awhile your cells begins to become resistant to that insulin. It takes more insulin to get the job of regulating your blood sugar done so your pancreas squirts out more and more. The excess insulin in your blood now causes an enzyme (lipase) to be released and that stores some of that excess blood sugar as fat. If you're insulin resistant the fat cells are now hanging onto the stored fat tightly, not wanting to release it when needed.

When your muscles and organs need energy they will take any stored sugar (which we only have a limited ability to store) and if there's not enough they will try to pull it from the fat cells. Problem is these fat cells don't want to let the fat go very easily, so your body tells your brain you need to eat since the cells aren't getting fed. Great. Now you're hungry (again) so you have something else to eat. Welcome to the viscous cycle of high-carb eating. And it doesn't matter if your carbs are from a soda, white bread or whole-wheat crackers as they all basically break down in your digestive tract into sugar.

This was my eating-cycle for years and why I ended up the way I am.

So no; in the grand scheme of things I think I'll pass on the "healthy" bowl of cereal (whole grain or not and that's a whole other rant for another day). And my reply to my all-knowing neighbor? The ever-present non-committal head nod. I even threw in a sly little eyebrow raising for good measure.

Running Playlist 8FEB2012

A Different Kind of Truth by Van Halen

Great new album especially if you're an old-school rocker like myself.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Running Playlist 6FEB2012

Running Playlist 6FEB2012

Could easily be subtitled WTH?!?!?!?!?!

Started week 4 of the Couch to 5K program tonight and figured I would have 3 segments as there's only so much running you can do in 30 minutes with a 5-minute warm-up/cool-down. Gave the third segment a pretty epic effort and then... SURPRISE..... that cute little voice says running. GAH!!!!!!! So session four was pretty ugly but it's done and dusted.

Colorado Bulldog (live)- Mr. Big
Don't Tell Me You Love Me (acoustic)- Nightranger
Hanani- O.C Supertones
Turn It Up- Pillar
For the Love of the Game- Pillar
Neon Nights- Queensryche
Death of Me- Red

Friday, 3 February 2012

Running Playlist 3FEB

Lay Down My Pride- Jeremy Camp
Wildest Dream- Journey
Any Way You Want It- Journey
Separate Ways- Journey
Fight with Fire- Kansas
Beyond the Surface- Kutless
Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy- Mr. Big

34F, no wind, some stars, someone finally turned on the streetlights on the back stretch.

Hey, Conventional Wisdom: Eat It!

I used to have a doctor with the bedside manner of a seedy roadside-bar comedian.

"Silk or satin?" he says to me one day.


"It's the question your wife is going to have to answer about your coffin if you don't get things together soon."

Shortly thereafter I left the office with a high-blood pressure medication and a high cholesterol drug. Well crap.

Fast-forward to yesterday. My blood cholesterol panel never got really good despite some pitiful efforts at CW eating (but I must admit no exercise). I began a Primal eating regimen and exercise program in the first week of December. So yesterday morning, Feb 2nd, I got my latest blood work results:

                                      25JUN10         24FEB11           1FEB12
Total Cholesterol                252                   206 (-46)         162 (-44)
HDL                                   33                      34  (+1)            34
LDL                                   176                   138  (-38)        113 (-25)
Triglycerides                       243                   191  (-52)        102 (-89)
Fasting glucose                    --                     116                    88 (-28)

I changed what I had been doing for years 7 weeks before this test

Oh, and it gets better. You may remember that I entered Yokota's Biggest Loser event since I was already making these sweeping changes to my life. Well I had my first weigh-in today:

                                    2NOV11     5JAN12*          3FEB12                     
Waist @ hip crest, inches      --              50.6               49.5 (-1.1)
Weight, pounds                  272          267.4 (-4.6)    254.8 (-12.6) <~~~~~ DUDE!!!!!
Body fat, %                        --               37.3               36.4 (-0.9)
BMI                                   --               40.1               38.6 (-1.5)

*Yokota's Biggest Loser Challenge starting weight

Again, I changed what I had been doing for years 7 weeks before this weigh-in. So what am I doing?

I eat BACON and make my REAL EGG omelets with BUTTER and on occasion I have a cup of WHOLE MILK and I use COCONUT OIL which is super-high in SATURATED FAT. I drizzle MACADAMIA OIL on my salads and have regular handfuls of MACADAMIA, ALMOND, SUNFLOWER, PUMPKIN, WALNUT and CASHEW nuts. I eat HARD BOILED EGGS wrapped in PORK SAUSAGE and BACON for breakfast. I have THAI CHICKEN SOUP made with COCONUT MILK for supper. I've eaten more BROCCOLI, BELL PEPPERS, CAULIFLOWER, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, ROMAIN LETTUCE, SPINACH, KALE, MUSHROOMS, SHALLOTS, ONIONS, GARLIC, CABBAGE and AVOCADOS in 7 weeks than I have in my entire life. I make my own GUACAMOLE every week. I put real freaking CREAM in my occasional cup of coffee!

I do SIT-UPS (I originally could not do a single one, now I do them in sets). I do PUSH-UPS (not regulation yet, but have gone from leaning on a wall to leaning on a couch and I make gains every week). I do SQUATS (and no longer hold onto a chair for support). I do KNEE-PLANKS (and have gone from seconds just barely into the double-digits to closing in on two minutes). I do this three times a week.

I run. Let me repeat that: I RUN! 7 weeks ago I ran for less than 30 seconds before I was gasping for air. Now I'm on week 3 of the Couch to 5K app. It's not pretty and I took 3 weeks to confidently perform the first week and I take 2 weeks to do each new milestone. But I can now run for over 3 minutes at a time and do that multiple times in a row. I don't LIKE running, but I like OWNING each segment. Hell, I spent money on running shoes. I do this three times a week.

I do hard things. And when those things get easy, I do something harder.

What DON'T I do?

I don't eat SUGAR, FLOUR, GRAINS, NOODLES, BREAD, MARGARINE, ICE CREAM, VEGETABLE OILS, BEANS/LEGUMES including PEANUTS or THINGS THAT CONTAIN THEM! I don't drink FRUIT JUICE, BEER, SODA or DIET SODA. I don't eat PROCESSED FOODS if I can help it. I don't eat FAST FOOD if I can help it (but still follow my guidelines as closely as I can when I have to). I DON'T SHOP FROM THE AISLES in the middle of the grocery store except for those items that promote my lifestyle (I shop around the edges mostly). I don't think of buying a new item WITHOUT READING THE LABEL. I ignore the standard FOOD PYRAMID, MY PLATE and RDA %.  I pretty much don't eat crap food anymore.

That's how I feel about Conventional Wisdom.

I don't blindly follow CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. I don't attend a social function WITHOUT EATING "MY WAY" before leaving the house. I have learned to liberally use the phrase NO THANK YOU. I don't spend HOURS working some CARDIO program to "burn calories". I don't take CRAZY SUPPLEMENTS or outlandish FAT BURNING PILLS. I don't put FUNNY DROPS in my water. I don't exercise because I HAVE TO or because someone TOLD ME TO. I exercise because I UNDERSTAND that it will BENEFIT ME and allow me a longer time to yell at kids who walk on my lawn. I eat the way I do because I understand that CONTROLLING MY INSULIN LEVEL is a VERY BIG DEAL and A DIRECT RESULT OF THE CHOICES I MAKE EVERY TIME SOMETHING GOES INTO MY GAPING MAW.

I EXERCISE RADICAL RESTRAINT on a daily basis (thanks for that Dean!). It is a LEARNED SKILL. I FAILED at many early attempts but I KEPT TRYING. I can now walk past plates of hors-d'vours or jalapeno poppers or petit fours or <gasp> glazed doughnuts unscathed. I'll say it again:  

EXERCISING RADICAL RESTRAINT is a LEARNED SKILL. Which means you can learn it!

If you don't try to figure that out, you'll never figure it out. I also learned that if I do eat something decadent that a) I'll feel like a steamy pile of poo later on, and b) the world will keep right on spinning. Meaning that I didn't BECOME A FAILURE, it means that I HAD (past tense) a failure. Get back on the flipping horse and continue the race!

Stepping off my soap box...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Running playlist 1FEB

Last Man Standing- Bon Jovi
Last Cigarette- Bon Jovi
Clock Strikes Ten- Cheap Trick
Get It Up- Chickenfoot
Core of My Addiction- Fireflight
Serenity- Fireflight
The Hunger- Fireflight

Someone forgot to hit the shuffle button.

Couch to 5k week three (doing two weeks for each scheduled one since I'm not a runner).

37 degrees when I left the house, no wind, stars are out, almost all of the snow's gone.

Thai Cabbage Rolls

I have the most amazing network of friends from my years of living around the world. I'm sitting here one day hungry for something but not sure what and then it hit me: LARP. It's actually pronounced laap kind of like the sound a sheep makes and it comes from Thailand. We have a bit of property in Wasilla, Alaska that we will build a log home on (if I can ever get my wife to stop getting promoted and retire) and our neighbors are super cool. Dave's an airline pilot and Helen just happens to have grown up as a missionary kid in Thailand where she learned how to cook. Put these situations together and you can guess where it's going. Helen makes the most amazing, flavorful Thai food in the universe and when she combines it with the food available in Alaska you often get unique creations like Thai larp made with moose meat instead of hamburger.

So when I realize that this is what I want I shoot an e-mail to Helen begging for the recipe and asking how much snow they have (because food and snow are both very important to me) and a few minutes later I have the secret in my sweaty little hands. Larp is usually eaten with Thai sticky rice using your hands but I didn't have any, nor do I have my Thai rice steamer thingy anymore but the meat alone was a great comfort. A few weeks later I decided to adapt it to my now-Primal lifestyle (I omitted the roasted rice flour) and my family loved it. So here, written from my computer outside of Tokyo is my adapted Thai larp recipe made possible by my good friends in Alaska.

Thai Cabbage Rolls with Cabbage Salad


2 pounds hamburger (for those days when you're all out of moose meat)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
2 T. fish sauce
1 lime
4-6 green onions, sliced
1/2 C. fresh cilantro, chopped

2-3 slices fresh ginger

1 cabbage (Napa is my preference but work with what you have)
1 hot red pepper, dried, chopped
pinch each of kosher salt/ fresh cracked black pepper
sesame oil
rice vinegar
slivered almonds

Thai cabbage rolls starting point
Brown your hamburger with the garlic, drain. Add chili powder, fish sauce, cilantro and the white part of your green onions to the hamburger. Squeeze the juice/pulp from your lime over mixture while stirring. I chop and save the green part of the onion for use in other foods or as a garnish.

While your meat is browning pick the outer leaves from your cabbage and wash. I soften mine by putting them in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. Err on the firm side as they'll soften up when you steam them. Now's a good time to get your steaming setup going as well. Place your fresh ginger in the water of your steamer to infuse the cabbage leaves with a bit of flavor.

Cabbage cup before
Hold one cabbage leaf in your hand and place a scoop of the larp in the middle (2-3 spoonfuls is what I used with my leaves) fold the sides of the leaf back over the larp, then roll the tip back towards the stem making a nice little cabbage roll. Place on the steamer pan and when it's full put the rack over the ginger water and cover. Steam anywhere from 5-8 minutes depending on the size/number of rolls. I made 12 of them and had larp leftover to eat the next day at lunch.

Completed cabbage roll
For the salad, chop the remainder of your cabbage into very thin slices, the thinner the better, and into a mixing bowl. I buy these little red peppers at the local farmer's market about 1-1/2 inches long. No idea what they're called but they're mildly hot and I usually cut up one into tiny pieces to give a little kick to the otherwise bland cabbage. Add a pinch of salt/pepper to the mix. Sesame oil and rice vinegar to taste (I never measure) and mix. Top with slivered almonds and you're done!

Ready for the steamer

Serves 3-4 or maybe 2 really hungry folks.