Well the good news is that my Swimmer’s Ear actually healed up pretty quickly. Bad news is that some sort of allergy-induced sinus cold came on just as quickly. Yesterday(Wed) I had runny nose and sneezing and now this evening I am started to develop an annoying little cough. All this heading into my first race weekend of the season too.
I have managed to keep up with all my workouts this week, which were a lighter than normal with the upcoming race. The weather this week has been gorgeous too. It is a shame I cannot enjoy quite as much as I normally would had I felt better. The progression of this little cold is moving pretty quickly so hopefully it goes away just as fast.
Tomorrow will be a full day of packing up my gear and making any last checks on my bike before heading down to South Jersey for the race. Can’t imagine what the temperature of the water in the lake will be since it really hasn’t been that warm until the last couple days. Good thing I got my wetsuit to keep me toasty.
Will try to get some posts from the Jersey Shore before the race.
One of the best side effects of becoming a triathlete for me has been the dietary changes it has prompted me to make. For years I have always struggled with “yo-yo” dieting and the weight fluctuations that come with that. Counting calories and cutting out macro nutrients(fat, carbs, protein) works for a little while, but they are not sustainable over the long haul. The fact is your body needs a balanced intake of all of those nutrients to properly function. By pushing your body’s limitations through triathlon or any endurance sport, you are eventually forced to take a new perspective on the food you eat. Food is looked at more as a fuel to get you through those long or intense workouts and less as some short-lived taste. Continue reading →
It’s hard to believe it has been 9 months already since I started this whole foods, plant-based diet. I have completed an entire triathlon training season consisting of a sprint, olympic and half-ironman distance events. I ran my first marathon and am currently more than 2 months into my training for Ironman Lake Placid 2013. I am still totally grooving on this plant-based diet and have never looked back. Granted I did slightly deviate a few times with a little Feta on a salad and that Chocolate Mousse on Valentines day, but the other 99% of the time I was die hard plant-power.
Every winter my employer provides free biometric testing for all employees. I had taken advantage of this testing last January, before going plant-based, and was a bit taken back by my results. I always thought being active would get me by, but apparently my diet of meat, sugary and over-processed foods could not be overcome by exercise alone. The exercise was also suffering because of the lack of “real food” and not feeding my body properly. When you start increasing training to the level of Ironman training, your body begins to let you know that food out of a box just doesn’t cut it. And no amount of coffee and sugar is going to help that either. If you want your car to drive like a Maserati, you are not going to put low octane gas in it.
I had done a blood test panel using SegTerra’s InsideTracker last September which showed good progress after only 3 months. Now that 9 months has passed and time for our annual biometric screening again, I was very eager to see what effect healthy eating would have. I have to admit I was a little nervous that it would not be as drastic as I wanted it to be. When I got the results I was more than ecstatic. So without further ado, here are my latest results as compared to the results a year ago and 6 months ago. Pretty drastic.
This biggest items to note are the 48 point drop in LDL, the 37 point drop in Trigylcerides and the 59 point drop in Total Cholesterol. I was a little disappointed with my HDL’s going down, but they are still in range so I guess I can’t complain. My blood pressure, which always tends to be higher due to the “white coat syndrome”, also dropped down. It is still at the top of the range, but when I test it at home it is usually in the normal range.
My weight was up a couple pounds since September, but the September weight was done at home which is usually a couple pounds less due to lack of clothing. The weight measurements for Jan 2012 and March 2013 were performed by the screeners with work clothes on(sans shoes and belt). The best thing about plant-based was that I maintained my weight throughout the off-season and holidays which I usually tend to gain back much of the weight lost from training.
The best thing about going plant-based is that I feel great. Even with the added Ironman training load, I am still improving athletically and without the afternoon crash like before. I have also given up the coffee and switched to tea which is a little less caffeine and with some added antioxidants too.
I am spending much more time in the kitchen cooking, but I really do enjoy it. It is much more satisfying than sitting in front of the “tube”. The food is so tasty and nutritious that crap out of a box just pales in comparison to it.
The weather report for this Saturday indicated a day clear of any precipitation and a high of around 40 deg F. Armed with my new Pearl Izumi Thermal cycling jacket and Craft windproof gloves, I thought I could finally get a long ride outdoors instead of hunkering down in the basement on the trainer. Unfortunately, that 40 degrees was a high that would never be reached even during the warmest part of the day. The 12 MPH breeze didn’t provide any help either.
The one part of my cold-weather cycling wardrobe I seemed to have overlooked was my feet. I had some neoprene covers for my shoes, but they are pretty meager in covering the feet. I remembered some friends had mentioned a tip of putting plastic bags over my feet to block the wind that steadily blows in the triathlon specific cycling shoes with all their numerous holes for keeping your feet cool in the warm temps. Not very beneficial when the temperatures is in the 30’s. My feet tend to sweat a bit and I feared that the sweat would cool and end up making my toes even colder. This was remedied by a good pair of SmartWool socks since wool keeps you warm even when wet. I covered the bags with a light liner sock so I didn’t look like too much of a dork with bags coming out my shoes.
I set off on my ride and it was a bit chilly. The breeze was out of the Northwest and it provide a nice added resistance. It felt good to ride outside and see all the familiar views again on my regular route out through Pennsylvania Amish country farmlands. It is a truly spectacular place to ride bike. The majority of my cold-weather gear was working great. My new jacket was toasty and my toes were not totally freezing. My fingers were another story! The new Craft gloves with fingers failed in the cool air. I tried to curl a few digits back into my palm, but it provided only limited relief. I had the choice to buy mitten-style gloves when I bought these and I was really wishing I did right now.
An hour and forty-two minutes and 27 miles later, I eventually made my way home. I spent a 15 minutes in excruciating pain thawing out my digits. That hurt like hell! I didn’t realize what time it was while riding and when I got home I went into panic mode since I only had 30 minutes to eat and thaw out before heading over to the Rodale Institute for a Seed Planting seminar.
Vegetable Gardening 101
My first attempt at a garden last year was a bit of a disaster. When I came across a class on Seed Planting & Propagation over at Rodale Institute I jumped on it. We are pretty lucky to have the cutting edge of organic gardening right at our back door. The class was taught by a lady named April who had worked at Rodale for 35 years(since she was 16). I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed during the class. It seemed that there was a bit of gardening knowledge that was assumed and I apparently didn’t have it. Most of the people in the class seemed to have been experienced with gardening, but I asked my basic questions in an effort to dumb thing down a bit.
I find gardening very overwhelming. There is so many things to remember with all these different plants requiring different things at different times. I think I just need to push through it, make my mistakes and learn from them. It is how I learn best anyway.
After the presentation, we walked over to the greenhouses and April showed us some of the plants and seeds they had going at different stages. We then headed back and separated out some starter plants and replant them individually. I was pretty psyched to find that we could take home as much as we wanted. I got starter plants of Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Tomatoes and Peppers. I was pretty excited about that. Hopefully I can get them to the garden in May.
The class ended up going until 2:30PM. I got home and had just enough time for Denise to give me a haircut and then shower and shave. We were heading over to Horn’s in Bethlehem to meet up with one of my old hockey buddies and his wife who we hadn’t seen in like 10 years. We enjoyed a nice dinner and chatted away for a few hours. Turns out my friends’ wife and his son are vegan, so we had a lot to talk about. Good times.
A Moment of Weakness
The topic of Vegan Treats Bakery came up in conversation and we stopped by there afterwards since I had never been there. The stuff in there was amazing looking. I got three things that were all some sort of combination of peanut butter and chocolate. When I got home I devoured the one treat that looked like a little chocolate cake. It was decadent. Hard to believe there was no dairy in it. Although all the sugar in it was not exactly healthy. This is the kind of thing that differentiates “vegans” and plant-based people. Vegans are just looking to substitute possibly unhealthy things for animal-based products and plant-based people just want healthy options that do not include animal proteins. I guess I crossed the line here. That will have repercussions tomorrow.
On Sunday I headed down to the Lehigh Parkway for my 1:30 long run of the week. It was actually colder than Saturday, but running surely warms you up more than cycling. Later in the day, after lunch, I ate one of the other vegan treats from the night before. Not long after, I crashed hard. It was like I could not move. I fell asleep on the sofa and had trouble getting up. I even had a headache for most of the evening. The sugar had taken its toll. My pancreas was not happy.
I really timed this wrong since I have my yearly blood tests done for our work health program. I am sure all this sugar will do wonders for my triglycerides. We shall see how that goes. Until next week.
Great article describing deception that “Big Food” corporations are playing on the human “guinea pig” population which is ultimately leading to the obesity epidemic. This pays back twice because we buy the crap food which makes us sick and then all pharmaceutical companies a cut because the Doctors push the meds down your throat to try cover up the issues. Sad!