Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chicken and lentil stew

Monday night, I cheffed up another recipe from my South Beach book, chicken and lentil stew.  It looked simple and healthy and was fairly easy to make though I had to stew the chicken longer than called for to make sure it was fully cooked.  The main ingredients are chicken, lentils, spinach and tomatoes.

I served it up over some biblical English muffins and it turned out alright though it wasn't all that flavorful.  Maybe I needed to add more salt or maybe I should've marinated the chicken.  I'm suspicious of recipes that don't call for marinating meat for at least a couple of hours.

Anyhow, this recipe counts towards my challenge; I've polished off 67 now.

Impure motivation

Many of my loyal readers know I'm trying to get my fat ass into shape.  However, they likely do not know the real reasons why.  Sure, it'll be good for my health and longevity to be in better shape, but I'm primarily motivated by two primal reasons.

Firstly, I believe I'll be more attractive to the ladies if I get ripped.  I'm not planning on getting so ripped my veins pop out, but I'd like to get lean and mean and I think women like that.  Who knows if it's actually true?  Any female readers want to chime in?

Secondly, I want to be more intimidating to dudes by getting ripped.  When I see another dude, my first thought is whether I could take the guy in a fight.  Animals do this inspection all the time and I'm certainly more primitive than most guys.  I don't have any martial training, but perception is usually more important than reality.  I don't get messed with when I walk around in big cities because I try to project the air that messing with me is going to be more trouble than it's worth.  I don't provoke anything, but I don't shy away or act scared either.

I think I can boost my self-confidence even further by taking some boxing and martial arts classes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eggs frijoles and Thai shrimp soup

Today I made two more recipes from my South Beach Supercharged book.  Breakfast was eggs frijoles which mixes scrambled eggs with beans, garlic and onions.  You cook it up and serve it in a warm tortilla with salsa.  I was rockin' my biblical tortilla so you know I was keeping the carbs in check.  It turned out well though the garlic and beans gave me gas later on.  Just doing my part to stay warm without burning fossil fuels.  I would definitely make this recipe again since it is easy and healthy.

After a fruitless trip to Indian Ladder Farms looking for honeycrisp I made Thai shrimp soup for lunch.  The main ingredients are shrimp, coconut milk and chicken broth.  You also add jalapeno pepper, tomatoes, fish sauce and chili-garlic sauce.  It turned out well, but wasn't as filling as I would've liked.  I would probably make this dish again.

Two more recipes brings me up to 66 for my challenge.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fitness update

Ah ha.  Today's measurement is the first one in a while that has shown a marked improvement.  Somehow I managed to drop two pounds of fat since Wednesday.  I'm not sure I believe such a rapid loss, but I think this measurement finally captures the improvements over the past couple of weeks.

I've been continuing to eat well even though I've slowly added some grains back into my diet.  I've also been keeping up with my crunches and I started jumping rope and bouncing on the trampoline since I got the ok from my orthopaedist.  I haven't added in any serious cardio activity yet because my knees are still a little sore.  Maybe I'll go for a short hike next weekend.

I think I'm feeling pretty good so I'm on the right track.  I would just like to see more rapid improvement.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fitness update

 Tuesday night marked the end of Phase I for me so I weighed myself yesterday morning to gauge my progress.  Crikey.  I actually gained half a pound of fat on the diet.  I don't think I ate too much or the wrong stuff.  In fact, I think I ate too little which triggered a starvation mode response where my body stored everything as fat.  I also didn't start exercising again until Tuesday morning.

In any case, the graphs are all trending in the wrong way, except for weight, so I need to do something about it other than cryin' in the corner.

I'll start P90X with the beginning of the year, but I need to get into better shape before then.  I'm still keeping up with my 200 crunches program and I can now do 72 crunches consecutively, but it's the aerobic activity which is missing.

I could sign up for basketball through the town, but they've already started and I don't think my conditioning is good enough for me to enjoy it.

White bean Provencal soup

Tuesday night I made some white bean Provencal soup using a recipe from my South Beach book.  It turned out alright, but was a little light on flavor.

It does count as recipe number 64 towards my challenge.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Knee update

Yesterday, I went over to the orthopaedics to get the result of my MRI.  I didn't get to see the images, but I got a summary of the report.  The good news is there is nothing that requires surgery.  The meniscus is more or less healthy.  The bad news is my MCL is slightly swollen and there are signs of early arthritis (grade II).  He said the arthritis is mild, but I should not do squats or leg extensions to avoid aggravating anything.

He cleared me for all physical activity so I can get my fat ass moving again.  I jumped rope and bounced on the trampoline this morning and my knees don't feel any different than they did over the weekend.  They're still sore when I flex them, but I guess I need to give them time.  At the same time, I need to work them to keep them loose and limber.

I'd say the good news outweighs the bad news, but I don't like to hear the word arthritis.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spanish artichoke tortilla

I made another recipe from the South Beach book for breakfast this morning, a Spanish artichoke tortilla.  It's like a frittata, but with artichoke hearts instead of potatoes.  Gah.  It didn't set like it should, it was difficult to flip over and it tasted bland.  I had to put on a liberal amount of salsa to choke it down.  I do not recommend this recipe.

It is number 63 for me though towards my challenge.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Curried turkey

Lunch today was curried turkey and butternut squash.  I got the recipe for the turkey from my South Beach book.  It's pretty simple to make and includes yogurt, mayo, curry powder, red onion, salt and pepper.  I think it turned out well though I used Greek yogurt which has a fairly strong flavor.

The recipe says you should wrap the stuff up in a lettuce leaf, but I left it unrolled.

It is definitely healthy and low on sugar and carbs.

I've now banged out 62 recipes towards my challenge.

Fitness update

Another Saturday, another measurement.  I've been on Phase I of the South Beach Diet for about ten days now.  I still have some sugar cravings, but they aren't as bad as they were before.  The book says I should've lost a few pounds by now and maybe I have, but they're not all fat pounds.

As you can see from the chart, my weight has been dropping over the past few measurements, but my body fat is slowly creeping upward and I've almost undone all the hard work since I moved out to NY in the spring of 2009.  Not good.

I need to get my knees in shape so I can start exercising again.  I know it should be possible to lose fat just by adjusting your diet, but exercise has always helped me.  I've just been doing pullups and crunches since they don't really involve my knees.  Those are good, but I really need some aerobic activity.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Moroccan chicken and squash

A made another recipe out of my South Beach book tonight for dinner, Moroccan chicken with squash.  It was pretty easy to make though it used a lot of different spices.  I didn't quite pound the chicken breast as thinly as I should've, but no big deal.

It tasted alright, but not enough of the flavor permeated the bulk of meat perhaps because it was too thick.  The squash was tender and the meal was healthy so I'm not complaining.

I've now banged out 61 recipes towards my challenge.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vegetable quiche and vanilla ricotta

Tonight I made two Phase I dishes out of my South Beach book. For dinner, I made vegetable quiche which are crustless. Eggs help a mess of cheese, spinach and other vegetables form like Voltron. It turned out pretty well and was easy to make. I added a little milk, but I should've drained the spinach more.

For dessert, I made one of the simplest dishes ever: take 0.5C of ricotta and mix in 0.25t vanilla and one packet of sugar substitute like PureVia (a stevia product). Holy moly. It turned out really well and was more filling than anticipated. I think it helps if you use pure vanilla rather than the fake stuff.

Though these two recipes are pretty simple, they still count towards my challenge. I've now knocked 60 off. Just 40 more to go.

I've been doing better on Phase I starting yesterday and I crave sugar less than I have in a long time. I'm still looking forward to the end of the phase, but I might stick with it past the recommended two weeks to make sure my cravings are gone. I'm also worried I'm not eating as much as I should either. No matter how much I eat, I still get hungry later. I guess I need to eat more roughage, but I can only eat so much salad before I get sick of it.

I haven't lost as much weight as anticipated either, but this phase is more about reinforcing healthy eating than losing weight. The weight loss will come if I drastically reduce my sugar intake and eat more whole foods.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Remodeling my hot tub room

I think I need to do something about my hot tub room because I'm slowly losing the battle with the elements and the critters.  I haven't used the hot tub in months and don't really feel the need to get in.  I also read hot tubs aren't as popular with people these days.

A friend had suggested taking the hot tub out and putting in a pool table, but the room isn't quite big enough and I can't widen it because part of one wall is adjacent to the master bathroom.  The room isn't big enough for a ping pong table either so I'm down to either remodeling it with the hot tub in place or taking the hot tub out and creating another family room.  I could put in a foosball and air hockey table.

Holy shit.  I just got an idea.  Maybe I should put in an endless pool.  Crikey.  I just looked them up and they run about $21k.  Uh...yeah...that's not going to happen because I need to spend money to take out the hot tub and to fix up the room.  Oh well.

Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?  As a dude, I'm at a loss for how to fill such a space since I've already ruled out pool and ping pong.  I mean, I could cram in a pool table and get a shorty stick, but the idea of not having enough room for every shot doesn't sit well.  What's the point of dropping fat stacks on a table if you can't use it without complications?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Turkey meatballs

Last night I cooked up some turkey meatballs using a recipe I found online.  The recipe was easy to follow though I should've used something other than my cast iron pan because the meatballs stuck a little and didn't want to roll around.

They turned out well and had a great flavor so I would definitely make them again.

I've now made 58 recipes towards my challenge.

Fitness update

I've been doing Phase I of the South Beach diet for one week now so I should report on my progress. As you can see from the charts, the progress is negligible. I have lost 0.2lbs of fat if you want to take things out past the decimal point. Gah.

This phase is supposed to help restore blood sugar levels to a healthy level. I guess I crave sugar a little bit less, but not by much. I'm also hungrier than I expected. My colleague says my hunger means I'm not eating enough ruffage, but a carbohydrate-light diet can be energy-light unless you can convince your body to dip into the fat reserves to get energy. My bigger problem is my knees prevent me from doing serious exercise so I'm only impacting the energy in part of the equation.
I've got my follow-up appointment next Monday so I'll find out if I need surgery or if any problems can heal on their own. My goal is to get everything squared away by the end of the year so I can start P90x. I expect that program to work pretty damn well providing I can stick to it. I hear it's pretty tough, but I need the challenge and I need something disruptive to de-chunkify since you can see a general trend upwards in the fat poundage chart.

After my road trip in June, I set a goal of losing ten pounds of fat. To date I'm about even. Crikey. June was a whole summer ago so I need to get more serious. I know I'm always talking about buckling down and getting to work, but I need to now. If I were healthier, I wouldn't have hurt my knees in the first place. Chunkin' out is always hard on the joints.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Southwestern beef in the slow cooker

I like to put my slow cooker to use on Sundays during football season.  I found a simple recipe for southwestern beef so I thought I would give it a try tonight.  I guess I didn't use enough seasoning when I browned it because it tasted just like roast beef.  That taste is ok, but nothing exciting.  I might make the recipe again, but I'd use different spices.  At least it made plenty of leftovers.  The sauce wasn't as chunky as it may be it should've been given the picture in the recipe.

I've now polished off 57 recipes towards my challenge.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day trip to the US Open

Last Saturday I went down to Queens to check out the US Open.  I got a day ground ticket so I could watch any match except for those in Arthur Ashe stadium.  Parking was easy, the weather was nice, the food wasn't too bad and I saw some great tennis.  On the smaller courts you can get really close to the action.  I noticed that just about every player was ripped, but I guess being ripped is prerequisite for being a professional athlete these days.

The only match I saw in its entirety was Fish-Clement which was entertaining and well-played.

Picture vomit:

West African chicken

I hadn't made a new recipe in a while so I poked around online to find some South Beach Phase I-compatible recipes.  I found an interesting one for West African chicken.  I gave it a shot and it turned out well though I forgot to put the green onion on top.  It has a fairly strong peanut butter taste and with the peanut butter and chile powder, tastes a lot like this other peanut butter chicken recipe I have.

It would've tasted great with some wild rice or quinoa, but Phase I doesn't allow those so I used a whole mess of peas.

The recipe says it'll make 4-6 servings, but shown above is half of what the recipe made.  I guess I'm a fat ass for eating a double serving, but I've been hungry lately partly due to the new diet and partly because it's starting to get cold.

This recipe is the 56th towards my challenge.

Fitness update

My knees still aren't right so I wasn't able to do much exercise other than crunches and pullups.  They feel tight inside which I hope is a sign of healing rather than a sign of degeneration.  Crikey.

I've kept to the South Beach Phase I diet and have given up sugar nearly completely.  It's resulted in three pounds of weight loss, but my scale is telling me all that weight was muscle.  I gave myself the once over in the mirror along with the jiggle test and I'm not sure I believe my scale.  It uses the conduction method to determine body composition and that method really depends on the humidity.  It's cold and dry today so I'm hoping the weather is to blame.  Otherwise, I've been sacrificing for nothing.

I'm going grocery shopping today and I'm going to make sure to get a lot more food since I'm tired of being hungry.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Health update: claustrophobia edition

I got an MRI of my right knee tonight and I have to say it was a fairly unpleasant experience.  The MRI is not quite like a coffin, but it is enclosed and imposing.  It's loud and you're supposed to stay absolutely still for fifteen minutes.  Those who know me know I have trouble staying still for fifteen seconds let alone fifteen minutes.  I thought my legs were going to spasm towards the end, but what must be endured can be endured.  The tech wouldn't show me the pictures, but a radiologist will check them in the next couple of days and I have a follow up appointment scheduled for a week from Monday.  I hope I don't need surgery.

My left knee is bothering me as well, but I'm hoping it's just because I'm compensating for the week right knee.  I'm not sure I can make it through another MRI for my left knee so I'll keep my fingers crossed that any damage can heal on its own.

Today marked the third full day of Phase I of the South Beach Diet.  I haven't any appreciable sugar since I started.  I don't really crave sugar, but I have been pretty hungry.  I guess I am a little hungry for sugar, but those cravings will go away in another day or so.  I'll weigh myself on Saturday to see what progress I've made.

I also started taking chlorella tonight.  I'll see how much that stuff helps regulate my body.  It's supposed to help digestion.  I'm a poop camel which means I only crap every two or three days.  When I do crap, it's quite an ordeal so I'd rather get on a daily schedule.  One dude at work is always in the stall backing one out, but I guess he has IBS or drinks a lot of coffee.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Health update

I'm tired of being a chunkster so I started up Phase I of the South Beach Diet.  For the next two weeks, I'll cut back my sugar and simple carbohydrate intake to as little as possible.  I'll try to eat just low glycemic index vegetables to return my blood sugar levels to normal.  Today is day one and I'm doing ok though I'm a little hungry.  I did this diet in 2008 and remember being cranky and hungry for the first few days.  I'm in better shape now so hopefully it won't be too bad.

I finally saw an orthopaedist for my injured knees.  The office was packed, but I got seen.  At first the dude tried to blow off my problem as just irritated kneecaps, but then he actually listened to what I said and scheduled me for an MRI.  It's likely to be a torn meniscus with the original injury in college.  The x-rays showed plenty of cartilage between the bones so my knees aren't shot which is a good thing.  I have stability in the joints so it's not a ligament problem either.

Unfortunately, I can't see the ortho until the 20th so there'll be 11 days between the MRI and my follow-up appointment.  The good news is he'll have plenty of time to review the images.  I'm going to keep my fingers crossed, but I want to get my body right.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kelsey and Ryan's Wedding: Seattle, August 2010

Last weekend, my cousin Kelsey got married to Ryan, her boyfriend of a couple of years. I flew out to Seattle to attend the ceremony and to hang out with relatives on that side of the family. It was great despite the cattle car flights because I saw some cousins I haven't seen in a while.

The ceremony was at the Seattle Tennis Club which is on Lake Washington. The weather held though it was a bit windy.

Picture vomit (taken by my Droid X). I know the shots suck, but I couldn't stand up during the ceremony so I did what I could.