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Lag a'mhuilin

DrCalcart's Quest to Live His Values and Level Up Cooking

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Main Quest
 
To get fit. To increase strength, while decreasing body-fat. To feel lighter in my own body. To be healthy. To level up my life: To match my physical self to my mental self-image; to improve the longevity and quality of my life. To live (in mind and body) the values that I admire in the characters I read, watch, and play – strength, agility, speed, flexibility, intelligence, health, confidence, calmness, and balance. There are many others, but I’ll begin with these. My quest is one of self-progress.
 
July Challenge
 
Mission 1: Strength Training – Rebel Strength Guide Dumbbell Division (RSG-DD) Rank 2
 
I bought the Rebel Strength Guide some time ago, but haven’t really used it to full advantage yet. Last challenge I was doing two P90X strength workouts per week, and while the individual workouts were intense and garnered results, the schedule was random as far as the days and types of workout were concerned. Upon analyzing the RSG-DD workout I realized that the Rank 2 workout is just as intense as P90X (or maybe more-so), but would provide a regimented schedule three times per week with three different workouts, and I wouldn’t be wedded to a room with a video-playing device. RSG-DD takes the guesswork out of the equation and leads to the possibility of creating a more lasting habit; however, since I still want some flexibility in my schedule to allow for hikes on differing days and out-of-town vacation time, I’m not going to stick to a strict M-W-F schedule, but will instead make sure I do the three per week and make sure there is at least one day of rest in between each workout.
---Grading: On my honor I will strive to push myself during each workout to ensure that each day I become stronger than the one before it. That said, I will only need to grade on the frequency of the workouts and the progress will take care of itself, with all due tracking of course. 3x/week for 6 weeks  = A. All other grades will be a percentage of 18. An A grade will earn me +2.5 STR, +1.5 CHA.
 
 
 
Mission 2: Hiking – Twice per week with strenuousness in mind
 
This was a goal in the last challenge and it proved to be a form of cardio that I absolutely love! For as long is there is daylight after work or good weather on the weekends I intend to continue this practice. I will hike twice per week with strenuousness in mind. That is to say, sometimes the hike won’t be longer than 3 miles, but in those cases I’ll be pushing extra hard to beat my previous time. The intention here is to get my heart racing, to increase my endurance and stamina, but without losing sight of the peace and beauty of my surroundings. (I will never take a great view or wildlife encounter for granted.)
---Grading: Again, on my honor I will strive to push myself during each hike, to try to beat my previous time or at least to ensure a sustained cardio workout; therefore, I will only need to grade on the frequency of the hikes: 2x/week for 6 weeks = A. All other grades will be a percentage of 12. An A grade will earn me +3 STA, +1 WIS.
 
 
Mission 3: Sleep – Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

My sleep patterns are seriously messed up. I probably average 4-6 hours of sleep on work nights and 8-10 hours on weekends. I stay up until 1-2am surfing stupid internet sites (*ahem* Reddit) when I should just shut down my computer and go to bed. Once I’m in bed I will read until I’m too tired, and then finally go to sleep. I wake up a zombie (oh crap! This is what we’re fighting against!), unable to move, speak, or think to maximum ability for a little while and generally exhausted throughout my day. This has got to stop if I have any hope of achieving the rest of my main quest. I will be tracking my entire sleep pattern: when I go to bed, when I fall asleep (there’s an app for that), when I wake up, and when I get up. My goal is 7-9 sleeping hours per night.
---Grading: An average of 7-9 continuous hours (naps don’t count) of sleep across all 42 days, with time over 9 hours counting against the average, will earn an A grade and +3 CON, +1 STA.
 
 
Life Quest: Level up cooking – that MMORPG skill everyone ignores

I love to cook, and I cook a lot, especially having been eating Paleo for about 11 weeks now. I don’t, however, have a good variety of meal recipes and flavors in my repertoire, and the prep time can be 2 hours for some of my meals! For this life quest I will take a knife-skills class at my local kitchen store to improve my technique and speed, and I will learn at least 6 new recipes from my Paleo cookbook or from the web. The flavor palette should be different than my go-to garlic, onion, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil (not all at once necessarily) savory faire. It should also include sweet fruit-based sauces or creamy, nutty sauces, or pesto, etc. I will edit this later to include a list of my bookmarked recipes!
---Grading: Completion of knife skills class is worth 28% of my grade. Each new recipe completed is worth 12%. An A grade awards +1 CON, +2 WIS.

 

Recipes:

1) Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

2) Pork Tenderloin in Blackberry Sauce, with Sauteed Vegetable Slaw

3) Turkey Apple Meatballs

4) Authentic Italian Beef Bolognese

 

Motivation

 
It’s weird. The thing that motivated me to start my last challenge quickly gave way to what motivated me continue the challenged, and that is results and progress. I realized I actually enjoyed working out when I could track numbers and see a positive change. Call it XP, or call it progress, my motivations are fitness for fitness’ sake and progress for progress’ sake. If I need to be inspired I have only to look in the mirror or read about the progress my #ZAP teammates are making. If I need to get started, I just need to start. It’s that simple. No excuses -- just go.

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Strong goals, easily measured, big gains ahead.

 

Sleep is so important, imo when Steve talks about 80%diet , 20% fitness ; he should cut off some % of those  & add 20% sleep.  I hope you'll make a good result there.

 

I'm looking forward to your list of recipes.  you are way ahead of me in the whole paleo / kitchen thing and am seriously impressed you're pushing even more forward.

Paleo to me is more 'neanderthaler', I chop up a cauliflower or broccoli or carrots, put it in a steamer, and eat that with a piece of meat.  only step down is eating it all raw :)

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I like your goals!! Especially the sleep and cooking ones! Great job! 

 

I also agree with Nusuth that I would love to know some of your recipes! Congrats on the 11 weeks for Paleo! I just started for this challenge!

 

Good luck!

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Your goals look great! Well-defined, cover a lot of aspects of fitness--I love that you included sleep and cooking. And I third (?) the motion regarding recipe sharing... especially if you come across some great-tasting ones that are easy to make.

 

I'm also curious as to what you think of the Rebel Strength Guide. I haven't purchased any of the guides yet, and I'm looking to get some input before I decide which one to get.

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I love your goals.

Yes, please get more sleep, we wouldn't want to have to poke you with a stick to see which "side" you're on! ;)

Learning new recipes was one of my goals like challenged and really helped prep me for this challenge wherein I'm intending to ultimately eat entirely Paleo.

If you find any tasty recipes please share !

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Thanks for the input, guys!

 

Paleo to me is more 'neanderthaler', I chop up a cauliflower or broccoli or carrots, put it in a steamer, and eat that with a piece of meat.  only step down is eating it all raw :)

 

That's pretty hilarious. I'm not really too far away from this most of the time unless I want to spend some time to prep. I usually buy a cheap rotisserie chicken each week and strip the meat off of it so it's available for meals and snacks. I have to do a veggie and fruit run once a week, and I try to choose organic unless it looks gross. I usually spend some time to make a giant green salad (like enough for 4 days of dinners) each week and keep it in a Tupperware. Here are couple of my less standard meals:

 

Carnitas "Tacos" (The best easy meal I've thrown together so far): Pre-cooked carnitas from Costco (reheated in the oven at about 400F with water or chicken stock, onions, salt and pepper), place meat on a piece of romaine lettuce (lettuce wraps will be your best friend!), and top with guacamole (Costco brand + lime juice, onion, garlic, and cilantro), and pico de gallo. Fan-freaking-tastic!

 

When I first started Paleo I was at a restaurant in San Diego, CA and worried I wasn't going to be able to find anything I could eat. This restaurant, as it turned out, actually had "paleo option available" listed for several menu items! One of the things I had was carnitas tacos with a thinly-sliced round of jicama as a tortilla. If I could find jicama that large I would totally use this option instead of lettuce for the tacos. The restaurant is Candelas in Coronado.

 

Chicken Fried "Rice"

 

I don't usually do desserts, but I had a work picnic last week and we had to bring desserts, so I decided to challenge myself to make a Paleo dessert. This is what I made: Poached Pears in Raspberry Sauce. It was easily the sweetest thing I'd eaten in weeks, and I didn't eat much of it myself. It didn't look as good the second day after being refrigerated and reheated, but it tasted great and people liked it. It was the only gluten-free, non-dairy option people had too! Be sure to save some berries to top it with at the end.

 

 

Great goals, Doc. How are you liking the Rebel Strength Guide?

 

I bought the guide some time ago but haven't used it much until now. The paleo section is helpful but not really different from what you can find in Steve's articles. The workouts are money though. I tried the body-weight one shortly after I bought the guide and even that had me sore the next day. I had the P90X videos so I figured I would go with that commercially-tested option, but hoooly crap the Dumbbell Division Rank 2 workout from RSG can give P90X a run for its money. I'm only one workout in but really happy I chose to go with this regiment for the challenge. I ended up doing more real pull-ups than I've done in a while (5, 4, and 3 in the sets 1-3).

 

I promise to take a look at everyone's threads tonight and participate. I've been struggling for time the last four days.

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Week 1:
 
Starting Measurements: 

Weight: 156.6lb

Chest: 38.5"

Waist: 34.9"

Hips: 36.9"

 

Day 1: Monday
 
Workout 1: RSG Dumbbell Division Rank 2, Workout A, kicked my ass! It was great. I look forward to doing many more of these. I've also started incorporating the stretches from my previous challenge (towards splits) into the cool down for these workouts, so that goal is gone but not forgotten.

 

Sleep: I feel pretty good today. I went to bed at 11:15, to sleep at 11:50, woke up at 7:24, and got up at 7:30. Total sleep time = 7:34, total bed time = 8:15. Number of sleep cycles = 5. I'm using the "Sleep Cycle" app on my phone, which measures cycles using the phone's accelerometer and tries to wake me up when I'm already closest to being out of a cycle.

 

Cooking: My local kitchen store only offers one knife skills class in August, on the 18th. I hope I'm in town at the time.

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Day 2: Tuesday
 

Sleep: My sleep time was about the same as yesterday, but the quality wasn't so good. I went to bed at 11:21, to sleep at 11:45, woke up at 7:23, and got up at 7:32. Total sleep time = 7:38, total bed time = 8:11. Number of sleep cycles = 3ish.

 

Cooking: I decided to try something I didn't think I was going to like - spaghetti squash. Here's the thing: I'm not a fan of squash or zucchini because both tend to be soft and mushy, and the flavor just isn't that appealing to me. Spaghetti squash, however, reminds me more of pumpkin. Once you get the gooey bits out it's stringy, like pasta. I paired the "pasta" with a homemade pesto:

 

 

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto Sauce

 

Cooking the spaghetti squash: Halve the bastard lengthwise, which is easier said than done, even with a huge-ass cleaver. Place facedown in a baking pan and fill with water about halfway up the pan. Bake at 375F for 30-40 minutes. When it's cool enough to work with, strip the noodles out with a fork. They come away really easily.

What I learned: Next time I'm only going to cook one half of this bad-boy and save the other half for another set of meals. It made a lot of "pasta," and I'd rather have the protein and sauce to noodle ratio to be a lot higher.

 

The Sauce: Use a food processor to blend about a cup of whole basil leaves, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/3 cup of olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Modifications: The recipe only called for 2 cloves of garlic, but honestly 4 wasn't enough! I also added crushed red pepper and toasted pine nuts, but walnuts would also be good. Finally, the finished product seemed to be lacking an essential flavor, and I think it was Parmesan cheese. I went ahead and added a small amount of fresh grated Parmesan to my pesto. I don't eat a lot of dairy, so I don't really care to eliminate it from my diet.

 

Protein: I added seasoned ground turkey meat to this dish, though next time I'm going to go with chunks of chicken instead.

 

Finishing: Finally, toss the noodles, meat, sauce in a pan on med-high heat with olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped fresh basil, halved grape tomatoes, and chopped red or yellow bell pepper until everything is cooked how you'd like it. Voila!

Final Impressions: Again, next time I'm only going to go with half a squash and chunks of chicken, and I'll probably double the garlic and the sauce recipe. The spaghetti squash probably wasn't cooked enough because I was afraid of it being too mushy. It came out more al dente/crunchy, but not unpleasant. Combined with sauce and the other stuff the squash really doesn't add much of its own flavor. On the whole it is an ingredient I would use again. I'm planning on making a good bolognese during this challenge, so look for that!

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I loved your last challenge... but this may be my new favourite! Including recipes along with your already-super-detailed reports is very nice of you :)

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Thanks, Loanna. I will make sure to keep you all well-fed :)

 

 

Day 3: Wednesday
 

Workout B: Setting baseline weight values. Still pleasantly surprised by my chinups (5/4/3). This will be the stat I will use to measure improvements.

 

Sleep: Still pretty consistent on the sleep. I went to bed at 11:15, to sleep at 11:55, woke up at 7:28, and got up at 7:33. Total sleep time = 7:33, total bed time = 8:23. Number of sleep cycles = 4.

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Day 4: Thursday
 

Hike 1: Peter's Canyon, beat my best time to the top by 2 minutes and best overall time by 7 minutes.

 

Sleep: Something I ate poisoned me a bit last night. I had a tough time getting to sleep. In bed 11:25, asleep 12:55, awake 7:29, up 8:13. Total sleep time 6:34, total bed time 8:13. Cumulative average 7:19:45.

 

Two hikes and three workouts per week might prove to be too much to maintain and still feel like I have a life aside from work and fitness. We shall see.

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Day 5: Friday
 

Yoga in the Park: Love my mid-day yoga on Fridays. Really caps the week off right.

 

Sleep: First weekend...went to sleep 1:46am, asleep 2:35am (reading), awake 10:30, up 11:46. Total asleep 7:55, total in bed 10:00, running average 7:26:48.

 

I was supposed to do my 3rd workout today, but was too tired after yoga and work...This doesn't bode well for future weeks. I'm writing this at 9:29pm on Saturday and I still haven't done my 3rd workout. Sunday morning for sure...

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Hi dr- terrific goals, motivation and overall quest. I recently bought my first crockpot and have been making delicious food in it, including a whole chicken and pork carnitas. It was kind of funny apt hat those were your two first examples of what you eat. This is my favorite crock pot carnitas recipe: Carnitas

2-4lb Pork Roast—rub with:

½ tsp each salt and pepper,  2 tsp Oregano, 1tsp cumin mixed in 1tbsp olive oil

Place in crock pot with

 1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

½ jalepeno with ribs/seed taken out, then chopped

And 1 orange: cut in half, squeeze the juice, then throw the rind/pulp into crockpot to cook with pork

Cook on low for 8-10hrs, or on high for 4-5hrs

Then remove the pork from the crock pot, allow to cool slightly, then pull apart with a fork,

Fry pork to caramelize it using the onions and some of the juice from the crockpot

Or: Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Preheat the broiler. Shred the pork, and place on the baking sheet. Pour the sauce from the crockpot over the pork and mix gently. Broil meat, turning once, until brown and caramelized around the edges (about 5 minutes)

Serve warm with rice, beans and tortillas.

Great job on your week!!

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@rogaecia: That recipe sounds mighty tasty. A crockpot is definitely on my list of kitchen devices I want to get, along with a blender and/or food processor. All I have now is a small pulse food processor. The orange juice/orange peels are a nice touch to this recipe.

 

Day 6: Saturday

 

Martial Arts: 2 hours of stretching, practice punch combos, kicks, and jumping combo kicks.

 

Sleep: The weekend totally screwed up my biorhythm. Went to bed 3:39am, asleep 3:50am, awake 11:15, up 12:16 (reading). Total asleep 7:25, total in bed 8:37, running average 7:26:30. I think I need to impose a weekend rule of going to bed no later than 1am, otherwise I lose a lot of the next day by being in bed.

 

Day 7: Sunday

 

The jumping combo kicks (the few that I didn't do correctly) negatively impacted my left knee. Consequently, I didn't do my third workout of the week. Also, I didn't want to screw up week 2's schedule by not being able to start Monday. I'm feeling rather ashamed of this. I never missed a workout last challenge, but I only had 2 per week. If I had just done it Friday like I was supposed to, I wouldn't have been in this mess, but I was feeling sore after yoga that day. NO EXCUSE! I've even told other people that working through the soreness is a good idea. Oh well, live and learn and move-on...

 

Sleep: So I slept really poorly this night. It may sound weird but my bed seems harder lately. I want to say that I have less cushion on my body now, so it's weirdly effecting my comfortability on my bed. Is that a thing? Does that happen? I'm considering buying a foam mattress-topper. Went to bed 11:21, asleep 12:20, awake 7:10, up 7:38. Total asleep 6:50, total in bed 8:17, running average 7:21:17. 4ish sleep cycles.

 

Some goal changes are in store for next week, and look for this week's recipe, which I think is going to be meat in a blackberry/balsamic sauce...

 

 

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great week, drcal. I definitely recommend a crockpot. I bought mine at Fred Meyer's for less than $20. It's awesome especially now that the weather is warmer and having a stove/oven on in a non-ac home is not an option. 

Best of luck this week!

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Week 2:

 

Measurements: 

Weight: 154.2lb (↓2.2lb)

Chest: 36.49" (↓.39")

Waist: 34.22" (↓.68")

Hips: 36.22" (↓.68")

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes: For the sake of having a life aside from work, fitness, and cooking, I'm changing my hiking goal from two hikes per week to at least three fitness activities per week. In a typical week this will include a hike, yoga, and one or two sessions of martial arts.

 

Day 8: Monday
 
Workout 1: RSG Dumbbell Division Rank 2, Workout C. Since I missed this one last week I'm doing them out of order this week. I managed 6 chin-ups in a row on the first set, 6 again with a pause before the last one in the second set, and 4 in the last set.

 

Sleep: I know it's only day 8 of getting "enough" sleep, but I don't feel any more mentally awake than when I had an erratic sleep pattern. Quantity does not equal quality. Asleep 11:40p, awake 6:30a. Total sleep time 7:41. Running average 7:23:45.

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Hey Dr. Calcart,

 

Congratulations on the measurement section.

Also, I think you did the right thing changing the hiking goal. If we are trying to build a lifestyle that lasts, the worse we can do is to sacrifice other aspects of life. I think of it more like something you "make" time for effortlessly.

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Day 9: Tuesday
 
Misc Fitness #1: Hiked Dreaded Hill. Shaved 1 minute off my previous best time going up the actual hill and 8 minutes off my best over-all time. Not only did I jog/run most of the downhill parts, but I also jogged a great deal of the flat part at the end. I will be hard-pressed to beat these times later. As I was going up the hill, which is a 300ft elevation gain in 1/8 mile, this was the first time my pace never slackened and I didn't have to pause to catch breath and slow heart rate. I think I can say I've conquered this hill, something I was determined to do since the first time I hiked it a month or so before my last challenge.

 

Food: I'm not really sure what my ideal weight should be when I've lost the fat I want to lose and tone up. Sometimes I think I'm losing too fast or not eating enough, but my energy level has always been fine and I'm not hungry in between meals. Last night after the hike though, I was craving protein and was thinking that maybe I don't eat enough fat, so I bought 1.5lb of 80/20 ground beef and ate like a pound of it (making small hamburger patties, and seasoning with salt and pepper) with some roasted brussel sprouts and parsnips. It was delicious and filling through the morning. This doesn't count as one of my meals towards the life goal.

 

Sleep: My sleep time was under 7 hours today but my sleep quality was probably the best I've had since I started. I had about 6 cycles but it was difficult to tell because they all happened in a state of pretty deep sleep, and I woke up and got up before my alarm for the first time. Asleep 12:20, awake 7:10. Total sleep time 6:50. Running average 7:20.

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Day 10: Wednesday
 
Workout 2: Dumbbell Division II: Workout A. Total pull-ups up by 2. All weights increased.
 
Sleep: Uhh...I fell off the sleep wagon last night and went to sleep too late. (And if I don't go to sleep in the next 10 minutes I'm in danger of a repeat performance.) Asleep 1:05a, awake 7:30a. Total sleep time 6:25. Running average 7:14:30. Just as I feared, I'm gaming the system. If I only grade on the overall average then I can afford to sleep under 7 hours a couple days a week as long as I make it up on the weekend or something. I might have to change my grading to make 7:30 my minimum sleep time for an A and/or add penalties for under 7:00 once/twice/thrice per week.
 
Tomorrow - a new recipe, and it's a good one.

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