Category: Food Diet Lifestyle

The more things change…the more they remain the same

How freaking perfect…I come back to this blog to start bringing some personal, albeit privately public (that makes absolutely perfect sense to me) accountability to my diet, conditioning and general fitness training, and discover my last post was of the exact thing I planned to write about.


So fast forward 15 months. Crossfit was a hoot. I loved it, even if it did not love me. Supraspinatus tendinitis with impingement. Big words to say I screwed up my shoulder by doing too much too fast with less than perfect form and ignored the pain for far too long. Until I basically could not raise my arm, was heading to frozen shoulder territory. Still have twinges of pain in certain positions. 6 months of physical therapy later, I was released to start crossfit or weight training again, but haven’t. Tossed around program idea after program idea, but couldn’t settle on one. Knew that my competitive nature combined with tendency to injury made Crossfit perhaps not ideal for me.  Couldn’t quite pull the trigger and start. Winter training was a few (very, very few) spin classes, and playtime on the bike at Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park. Yesterday’s ride on some real trails showed me how far I need to go to get back in riding shape.

Meanwhile clothes a bit too sung. Feel doughy. Weight feels up, but looking at logs nearly exactly the same as it was when I posted that last blog post. Overall diet is decent, not strict paleo…probably too much its of gluten and grain. Not a ton of alcohol, but a martini or beer at night is too much the norm. Generally only one drink, but more habit than need. Mainly real food, very very limited processed crap. Still stuck not making final weight loss goal, still with a long way to go.

Bottom line is getting in shape. Not about the scale, even if I know for optimal performance and self confidence, I must drop a significant number of pounds. I want to feel strong, re-connect with that athlete in me. Sure there’s the looking good, feeling sexy bit. But it’s the strong, confident, secure in my skin feeling I miss. That I am determined to bring back.

And so back to this blog. To some of the habits that worked so well. Tracking food. Lifting weights. Only this time I am not going to second guess programs. Waffle around. Tweak a trainers program because I’m some kind of special unicorn. Commit to one program, and do it for the entire 12 weeks. Re-asses after that.

The program I’ve chosen is ‘Strong Curves’ by Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis. Love that it is a lower body focus but with a decent amount of upper body. Today is the first workout. Kinda pumped to start….

(ha, see what I did there?)

What’s missing from this picture.

Simple answer me. A decently stocked weight section in my semi-finished basement. Plates and benches sitting cold and lonely.

But wait there’s more……a whole other section of the basement. A treadmill, a trainer for indoor riding on my bike, room for yoga. A variety of kettlebells (and DVD workouts for them), a set of bowflex dumbells. Chalean Extreme DVDs. 

Bottom line, I have no excuse. No one to blame but myself. A strange inertia had set in about a year ago around conditioning (and eating properly if we’re honest). The really sad thing is, I like lifting heavy weights – esp. squats and deadlifts (hate, hate hate bicep/tricep curls). This month’s Whole30 has gotten me back on track in food. I feel great. IBS symptoms gone. Tons of energy. getting lots of home de-cluttering done, cooking a ton. But yet, no work outs.
And so I realized I need a structure. Something to force me forward. So I finally took the plunge. Spent the money to sign up for the February on-boarding “Elements” class at a Badger Crossfit, a Crossfit gym close to my office. They are going to work with me around my travel schedule. This is good. January was kick the food choices back in gear. February will be get going on Crossfit, on working out. Having a gym structure is good for me. Knowing I can do a couple classes a week in a structured environment, plus bring a WOD or two home a week.
This is good.
And if I get really motivated I can do some bosu squats…..kidding. 

Whole30 Week 1- whole lotta cooking going on

January is my first Whole30 v. 5.0. I really needed this stricter eating plan following two weeks of holiday eating and a complete derailment from anything resembling a paleo or primal diet (and the associated raging IBS, bloating, and other fun symptoms…not to mention 12 pounds of scale weight gain in two weeks. Yikes).The biggest part of this for me is not thinking of it as a diet…at least not in the weight loss sense. Part of the Whole30 program is not taking any measurements during the 30 days, no scales, no tape measures, no bodyfat monitors. Sure I took all those as a staring baseline, but the necessary equipment has been stored away until February 1. For me, this is a huge leap of faith (and making me a tad crazy).
Because so many friends, family and co-workers, think the idea of not eating grains, sugars, dairy or legumes so radical, I’m making an effort to photograph and document what I eat using my iPhone. What’s funny is no one is questioning the eating plan from a health stand point…it’s all about satiety. I mean who can possibly not eat bread or muffins or…. 
It was only a 4 day work week. I spent two of those days out of the office on biz travel, but saw a definite theme to lunch at my desk…simple protein and veggies. Tuesday was leftover steak, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts – a duplicate of Monday’s dinner, and Friday did a quick run to the grocery for a roasted chicken breast and some fresh raw veggies.

Tuesday night I made Braised Chicken Breasts with 40 cloves Garlic, a Rachael Ray recipe, leftovers were my dinner on Thursday. To make the recipe 100% Whole 30 compliant, I used ghee instead of butter and de-glazed the pan with chicken stock rather than Marsala. Still very, very yummy, However, I do believe the Marsala adds a richness to this dish, and will use Marsala in future. My kiddo was excited to see me starting to cook the “chicken with the crunchy skin”. If you make it, brown them well, and make sure the stock/braising liquid stays below the crispy skin.

Wednesday and Thursday I was at the mercy of restaurants, hotel food, meeting catering and stashes of food I either brought or obtained while on a business trip. This reliance on what I have available is where I’ve had problems with compliance in paleo/primal eating (and when I was doing traditional calorie counting). Okay, maybe less reliance on what was available so much as a built in excuse to stray from the plan. This trip, this month, I am teaching myself that lack of compliance is neither necessary nor an option. One thing I did fail at was taking pictures…but I was 100% compliance. I am discovering that by first asking about gluten-free options, and also telling the server I am dairy intolerant gets me to a good starting point with menu options. I can edit from there. Thursday’s lunch was a Primal Pac I’d stashed in my backpack, Wednesday a working meeting lunch where I just calmly and quietly removed all the bread and cheese from the catered sandwich lunch. And I did raid the concierge lounge for some late night munchies…enjoyed after a walk around downtown Chicago.

Saturday morning…leftover steak, turned into a steak, spinach breadless “benedict”. Ever since discovering how easy it is to make fresh hollandaise, I cannot believe I used powdered mixes for so long. Honestly, fresh isn’t much more work, and so much tastier. Used ghee as the butter source, and buy the free-range, omega3 type eggs. 
Planned a stir-fry for Saturday night. I had prepped so many veggies, that this meal was repeated Saturday and Sunday nights with slightly different spices. First night was scallops and shrimp, done spicy with ginger and garlic. Second night, also spicy, but stronger curry type seasonings (hot curry powder, gram marsala, and vindaloo mixes) and added a touch of coconut milk. This time proteins were shrimp and chicken. Each family member got to make their own veggie selections, and I cooked each individually. Huge hit with Kiddo who has requested this is weekly…at minimum.
In the interest of honesty…….Food-wise I was 100% compliant to Whole30. There was one planned, and pre-decided deviation, my office’s monthly beer tasting club was Friday. Purely educational (really, I work in this biz). Limited the amount I drank past the what was needed to taste the beer, leaving most in the small tasting cups. Focused much more on aroma, color, mouthfeel. But, yes, I realize it is non-compliant. 

All and well a good first week.


A holiday tradition of mine is enjoying a standing rib roast with the immediate family on Christmas Eve. I made my first one 14 years ago. While I’ve had several significant life changes in that time, I’ve followed the same basic method each year since. If memory serves, the original recipe was from epicurious. However, I’ve long since stopped referring to a recipe and made it my own. It’s easy peasy to do, even if it does take some advance prep wok for best flavor.

The beauty of this recipe is that there are no exact portions needed. Really don’t think it’s possible to mess this one up.

Garlic/Horseradish/Rosemary Beef Rib Roast.

Standing Beef Rib roast (I typically use a 3-4 bone roast)
3-5 heads of garlic
Ground horseradish
Fresh rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse Sea Salt& Fresh ground Pepper
Beef Broth (optional)
Meat Thermometer

This year I had a 6.5 lb, 4 rib roast. My butcher cuts the meat from the bone for ease of serving, but then ties it all back together for flavor. I’ve found the flavors of this recipe are consistently great with a regular high quality rib roast, so no longer pay the extra for a Prime Rib roast. In the future I would pay extra for grass fed/ grass finished if I could get locally. Buy the roast a day or so ahead to allow time for thepaste to infuse the flavors.

At least 24 hours ahead peel the garlic….the more the better in my mind. As with recipes calling for bacon, you can never have too much! This year I used 4 full heads and a bit of a leftover 5th head. Place them in a small oven safe dish, cover with EVOO and roast in a 300 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool.This year I roasted the garlic the evening of the 22nd. Stored in fridge overnight and made the paste the following day after work.

When cool pull out your food processor, dump roasted garlic and olive oil, about half a jar of horseradish (1/3 cup?), leaves from 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, and a healthy does of fresh ground pepper and pinch of sea salt. Puree into a paste.

Place roast on rack, bones down. I stab the top a few times to make pockets to push some of the puree into. Then I get my hands dirty (after washing them well of course), and rub the puree all over the top and sides of the roast. Cover loosely (I stick blunted toothpicks in to hold foil off rub paste.), and into the fridge for 12-24 hours. This year I had the paste on for the full 24 hours.

Remove from fridge 30-45 minutes prior to roasting to bring up to a room temperature and take some of the chill off. Pour beef broth into the base of the pan to catch the drippings (water works, too but broth tastier, for a final au jus or gravy)

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Place roast in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes to sear and crust the paste. If you are like me and tend to forget things, set a timer NOW. At end of 20 minutes, turn oven to 325, loosely tent the roast. Insert a thermometer into middle and roast to your desired temp. We like medium rare (Mom likes medium well, so she gets end with some extra cooking in pan). On my thermometer this is around 140 degrees.

This always takes longer than I expect. I think it was 2 1/2 hours this year. Maybe tad longer.

Allow roast to rest for 15-20 minutes. This is the prefect time to relax w/ Ketel-One-up-olives.Especially if your Mom is visiting and likes to cook down the pan drippings as an au jus or gravy (add flour or not, your choice, moving forward we’ll skip the flour, for paleo / gluten free goodness)

Slice and enjoy.

Accidental Artwork

Don’t try this at home, kiddies.

Since beginning to flirt around with the paleo/ primal lifestyle, I’ve been cooking a lot. Which I’ve discovered, I really enjoy.

One of the benefits of doing a bunch of cooking, especially cooking from whole ingredients, is that it gets me up and moving, versus sitting on the couch mindlessly watching TV ( while simultaneously surfing the web on my iPad and checking email on my iPhone – two fisted techno junkie that I am).

Recently, tho, I was taking advantage of a quiet house and soup stock simmering to curl up on the couch with Gael Greene’s “Blue Skies, No Candy”. As I read, I began to notice the smell of rosemary and other herbs toasting. At first, I thought it was the yumminess of the soup. Then it started to hit me that this soup did not contain those herbs.

I was too into the book to go check. Oh. My. Steamy. Is that why there’s now smoke in here?

Finally checked. Had set a plastic tub of small bags of herbs, juniper berries and spices on one of the burners. A burner accidentally turned to low. Bottom of box melted through, berries and spices permanently affixed to burner.

Damn electric range. I hate you. But thankfully I was home when it happened.

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