Monthly Archives: May 2011

Three. Modern hunt and gather.

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Yesterday I was busy and when I got home from work, I paid attention to my kid instead of this blog. And then I went to sleep, after of course sending notes to my internet friends. That’s how it should be.

Monday I maintained a high compliance level on my food choices. And I lifted at the gym. I have a 10 km race on Sunday, so I would prefer to get my two lifts done by Wednesday.  But given how my legs feel after my speed workout today on the treadmill (to avoid living green things outdoors), I probably won’t lift again tomorrow. I finished the treadmill run by working on my core. I couldn’t finish all 30 reps of the exercises and needed to pause in the middle. I am wondering if low carb = low power.  I think I will adapt. I’ve read that many athletes enjoy higher performance once they adapt to lower amounts of sugar in their diets.

Monday roll call on the eats:  Coffee and cream.  Shrimp, walnuts, h-b eggs, spinach, avocado, red pepper; Fish, more peppers, black olives, lettuce. Half decaf coffee. Leftover turkey, zuchini, broiled tomato, gazpacho soup. Herb tea.

So today’s photo is the result of my hunt & gather this morning. Before panic set in, I looked at what was on the counter and in the fridge and grabbed what was available. It served as lunch and dinner and I feel quite satisfied.  I’ve stopped leering at fruit. Almost. I did squeeze little bits of lime and lemon into my water at the gym.

Food roll call: Coffee and cream; bacon and eggs with lettuce and tomato; lettuce, ham, h-b eggs, walnuts, V-8 juice, yellow pepper, avocado.

I’m going to need to restock soon.

Training tip: high performance requires mental training too. If I broke my concentration while working hard on the treadmill, I stopped running as hard. I need my body to tell my brain that I can do this. And vice-versa. My brain needs to tell my body what to do. Neither can wander off while the other is working. Sometimes when I thought I couldn’t sustain the pace on the treadmill for the whole interval, I simply counted my steps up to 20 or 50 or something. Totally pointless concentration that focused my attention on the Here and Now.  Counting helped me to stop looking at the timer and thinking about whether I could sustain the pace for the whole interval.


Another day one.

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J. and I have started the two-week Maffetone test. At least I did. She was on a retreat. Something about converting negativity into wellness. A little bike ride will do that for me. I spent the morning busting clutter and making food for the week.  But my prep is a TOTAL FAIL since I have two boy-children who eat.  Saying they eat is redundant. As in, unnecessary.  I bought 30 eggs yesterday. I hard-boiled 15 over the last two days. They’re nearly gone.  Another four went into fruit smoothies with an avocado. Another two into pancakes (don’t nag me about what I feed my children). Another six went into the omelet I made.  And two went on top of the dog kibble. (Don’t nag about the dog either).   The boys ate the peppers and cucumbers I bought yesterday. So I bought more.

My friend Riot Act is paleo-challenge prepared. Cheer her on. But don’t tell her I sent you. She does not want your pity. And doesn’t need any support. So there.

Skip the rest – It’s boring public accountability. And no,  I didn’t photograph all of it. Just the salad.

Breakfast: omelet with leftover veg from last night  (carrots, cauliflower & broccoli) pureed and sauteed in some butter with some chopped onions.

Lunch: big salad with avocado, cashews, chopped tomatoes, cucumber. Some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  (see above).  Some deviled eggs with sardines (recipe on this blog).  Some boiled shrimp and gazpacho soup.

Dinner: tomato sauce, shredded zucchini and some carrots and onions, black olives, pressure cooked with one of the turkey thigh bones that still had a lot of meat on it.  I didn’t tell the kids that I hid the vegetables in the sauce.
Training: 80 minute ride in the Dunes.  I blew off the 4-hour brick that the plan called for. Didn’t feel like it. Plus I remembered at 16h that we were out of milk and that the store would close at 18h. Dumb laws.
Cheat: about 200 ml milk in espresso (morning and afternoon). I woke feeling like I had been run down by a lorry (that’s a truck, I think).
I am not going to weigh myself or count calories for two weeks. Which means I will be a blimp by next week.   To guard against this eventuality,  I will ask myself before eating, am I hungry? What am I hungry for? (Screw the dangling preposition).

Pure Paleo Recipe: Deviled eggs with sardines

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Preparation : 8 minutes
Cooking : 10 minutes


4 eggs
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of prepared mustard like Dijon
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
4 sardine fillets
Chopped parsley
Powdered paprika

Hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water. Place in cold water to cool them, then peel the shells and slice them in half lengthwise. They are easier to slice if you run the knife under cold water before each slice. Remove the yolks.  Purée the sardines with the lemon juice, yoghurt and mustard. I used a wand blender and Greek Yogurt.

Work the egg yolks  into the mixture and season to taste. I used a whisk to break up the egg yolks.  Either I was heavy-handed with measuring the yoghurt and mustard, or the proportions for the recipe aren’t right.  If the consistency of the filling is too soft, add another cooked egg yolk.

Add the chopped parsley to the stuffing mixture. Stuff the eggs with the mixture and sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate until serving.  My teenage son saw the plate and said, Oh! Can I have some?  That’s the sound of a success.

Recipe: Rotisserie Turkey

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Three turkey thighs, with skin, on the bone. About 1.5 kilos.  I’m making three because of feeding teens and wanting leftovers. My theory is cook once eat twice.  Hopefully the teens will leave some leftovers.  Preheat the oven to a hot oven.


freshly-squeezed juice of half a juicy lemon

a couple tablespoons of  olive oil

a couple tablespoons (total) of some poultry spices: black pepper, dry mustard, salt, coriander, thyme, marjoram, sage, parsley.

Procedure: mix up the marinade/basting sauce.   Let the turkey sit in the marinade for a while. All afternoon if you thought about it in advance. A few minutes while the oven heats up if you sat on the couch reading a book, like I did, on endurance training for athletes.

I am using my oven’s spit rotisserie.  Here is  very nicely-photographed explanation for trussing the meat.  My best friend Julia Child recommends  smearing butter on the skin and using twine to secure a layer of bacon over the meat. It’s a good idea, but I don’t have any twine. So I haven’t “barded” the meat with bacon either. I’ve done that before and it’s delicious.  I’m using small skewers to pin the thighs around the rotisserie.

When is it done? Julia says roasting a whole chicken takes 45 minutes plus 7 minutes per pound.  To be safe, she recommends adding a buffer of between 10 to 30 minutes.  The  rotisserie instructions I linked above say “check your user’s manual” and that the bird pictured below takes two hours.  I use a meat thermometer and will start checking the thighs after about 45 minutes.  The thickest part of the thigh is fully cooked at 175 degrees F.  The temperature will continue to rise after the turkey has been removed from the oven.

The meat will brown as it cooks.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist including  the animated chicken.)  Since I will be in the kitchen making side dishes, it will be easy enough to check. Besides, a delicious smell will tell me when the food is just right.

If you don’t have a rotisserie in your oven, dig out your Thanksgiving recipes and roast the thighs in a pan until done.

UPDATED: the turkey was done in an hour.

For side dishes: raw cucumbers, peppers and tiny grape tomatoes with Caesar dressing for dipping.  Barely cooked melange of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.  Red chard sauteed with bacon pieces.

Recipe: Ham and Asparagus Roll-ups

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These are to inspire you. They’re easy to assemble and taste good.

  • very tasty ham slices
  • asparagus stalks – at least one per slice of ham.
  • good French mustard

Boil the asparagus until it’s just barely tender. I usually cook them in a frying pan in a single layer, just covered with water. Stare at them so you don’t over cook them. They are Done when bright green. Test them by piercing the stalks with a fork.

Saute the ham in a skillet to take the chill off the meat and bring up the flavour.

Spread some mustard on each slice. Put one or two asparagus stalks on the slice and roll.

the two-week test.

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Dr Phil Maffetone, author of The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing) , developed what he calls an “effective method to help people find their optimal level of carbohydrate intake”. He suggests athletes experiment with their diet for two weeks, testing their “maximum aerobic performance” before and after.  (You’ll remember – I hope – I did that 3000 meter row on Tuesday.)

Dr Maffetone says he was surprised by the effectiveness of the Two-Week Test because it jump-started people’s metabolism, shifted body-chemistry into “fat-burning” mode and significantly improved aerobic function and overall endurance. I want to jump-start myself!

Realising I was woefully unprepared to implement anything in the middle of the work-week, J. kindly outlined the essentials for me.  J. and I decided to start on Sunday, to give me time to food-shop and her time to finish some delicious goat cheese.

The irony is of course the more research I do the more agreement I find amongst authors whose reasoning I trust. It could be that I trust very few and only those who agree with me. But I don’t care. I’m right and I know it. Q.E.D.

The Two-Week Maffetone Test In a nutshell:
No calorie counting; eat small meals when hungry.

  • All [unprocessed] meats, poultry, fish, eggs.
  • raw milk cheese, heavy cream and full milk yoghurt (unsweetened).
  • All vegetables (cooked or raw) except potatoes and corn.
  • All vegetable juices, including carrot and tomato.
  • All nuts and seeds.
  • All good fats: butter, coconut, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil.
  • All condiments in moderation as long as they are not sweetened and have no soya added. (salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar etc).
  • Tea and coffee (if you normally drink them).
  • Sea salt, unless you’re sensitive to sodium.

NO: (including during and after workout)

  • Fruit, fruit juice, starchy cereals, chocolate, energy bars, protein bars, gels, legumes including soya.  (This includes those Atkins bars that J says I like – I don’t actually like them that much. I eat them though. )
  • Junk food.
  • Sugar, honey or artificial sweeteners.

J. explained to me that soya in any form can cause problems for post menopausal women because of its high estrogen content. This makes you gain weight around the middle. So avoid the following which are ways of hiding soya: E471, E472 (Both of these are now commonly added to cream and other foods), generic vegetable oil, vegetable protein, flavour enhancers, soya lecithin, plant lecithin and MSG.

Dr. Maffetone adds a note on alcohol – if you normally drink a small to moderate amount, some forms are allowed on the test: dry wines and pure distilled spirits mixed with plain carbonated water. No sweet wines, beer, champagne, or alcohol containing sugar (such as rum). When in doubt, leave it out.

Dr. Maffetone says NO CHEATING. The test restricts moderate- and high-glycemic foods, not calories or fat.  He also states that you should make sure you do not go hungry during the test.  Some people also experience carb-cravings the first few days.  If you cheat, the test is not valid and you have to start the two-week period again.

Dr. Maffetone does say that if you are doing hill repeats and speedwork then you may have some fruit afterwards. Only on Anaerobic exercise though, so no fruit smoothies or juice at all. That would be fruit twice a week on a standard Tri plan.  (J. knows my habits.)

The juice below provides quality carbs from vegetable juice instead.   This recipe for energizer juice is made from vegetables, courtesy of the Juice Lady,  and is her recommended mix for Endurance Athletes, get your juice on! 😉

Energize Me!
5 medium carrots
1/2 of a small beet (beetroot) with leaves if possible.
2 cm chunk of ginger root
2 – 3 celery stalks
half a lemon or a handful of spinach or a handful of dandelion leaves (rocket substitutes well).

Add some nuts to the above and you have a perfect recovery or workout fuel.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a juicer any more. I might be able to find some raw carrot juice, however.

J.  did some more research about why Dr Maffetone was thumbs-down on fruit juice.   The most common Carbohydrate Intolerances are to Glucose, Fructose and Maltose. These are commonly found in fruit, fruit juice, honey, artificial sweeteners and cereals.

Vegetables are normally higher in Sucrose, so vegetable juice circumvents the problem. Carrot juice is just as high in carbs as many fruit juices, and is available in most supermarkets or health food stores in case you don’t have time to make your own.  J says she likes simple carrot and ginger. Me too.

So, we’re starting this on Sunday, which will take us to the end of our 45-day challenge. So far, my compliance and progress has been negligible and I’m in the mood to improve.  The hay-fever is responding to medication.  And my attitude seems to be improving. You’ll be the judge of that, however!

Today’s eats:  Coffee with a very little milk; ham slices with strawberry; eggs, bacon, lettuce and tomato; coffee; pork chop, snap peas, lettuce,  a pear; hard boiled egg; Atkins bar. Water.

Dinner TBA.

Training: Evening Tempo Bike ride planned. Deferred a trip to the gym until tomorrow since my legs are still sore from Tuesday’s workouts.

Training tip: It’s okay to rest.  In fact, you MUST rest. That’s when progress happens.  Even if you have a training session planned, if your body is saying Not Yet, it’s okay to give yourself recovery time that you need.

Rest and Recovery is different than skipping, however, because you think you “too tired, too busy, too focused or preoccupied, too worried” on something else “more important”.  You’ll know the difference. If you’re in doubt,  get 10 minutes into your training session and then decide if it’s too much.

I also realised it’s okay to start exercising even when I’m a little hungry. That feeling goes away, and the training goes just fine. For me, being a little hungry or bumping up to the lunch hour is no excuse.  I tell myself,  The Decision Has Already Been Made.

Keep moving

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I said I’d post every day, and now that I have a massive subscriber list, I will keep my word. I need to get up at half six to feed my boy and cycle in the morning, so this is a shortie.

Food. I asked myself what was I hungry for and listened. I felt like I ate a lot, but it was just the right amount.

Training tip: find someone to do it with. For some reason we will keep agreements we make with someone else more readily than we will with ourselves. In other words, we will let ourselves off the hook and show up when we’ve promised someone else. I made a plan to run with A. today at lunch. 11:45, to be precise. And it was in my appointment book. And I had my shoes and other gear. See yesterday’s tips. A wobbled when I phoned her to see when she’d be ready to go. A birthday lunch had arisen. She called the birthday boy, who wanted to celebrate next week instead. A called me back, and I said she had no excuse but to lace up. Truth be told, I felt "too tired" and felt in the verge of being hungry. But we ran and had a great time. I like her company and we are evenly paced. And it was sunny. So, find a buddy and keep your agreement. No skips.

getting back to clean, not puffy

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I heard a brilliant suggestion to just start. Don’t wait to be ready. Jump right in. It’s brilliant. Or maybe it was bold and ingenious. So says some guy named Goethe.

Well, JW, with food, it helps to have clean eats on hand. I’m working my way back to clean. Today I ate to appetite and recharged with a glass of fresh juice after a challenging lifting session at the gym. I did a 3000 meter row, aiming to stay under 138 BPM. I maintained an even pace and stayed in the zone. Rogier recorded the exact time – ~ 00:15:10, I think. I will repeat this in two weeks and see whether clean eating has improved my performance.

I didn’t skip meals or let myself go hungry. Yay me. I had leftover steak for breakfast and again for dinner (plus a yam instead of the beans). And I had another dinner (salad, deli roast beef, greek yoghurt, blueberries, cherry tomatoes) before French class, which I guess was more like a late lunch. I had a protein bar after the juice to try to balance what I was eating. I – I – I. I get tired of thinking, sometimes. I suppose this is my blog, so I will be talking about myself. In addition to moaning about trying to eat my way to my goal, I thought it might be useful to share a training tip or two to thank you for reading about my food choices.

Turn Goals in Plans: they’re great ideas. But. The action steps to reach them need to be in your appointment book. Not swirling around in The Land of Wishful Thinking. I train Tuesdays and Thursdays at the same time of day each week. I generally swim Tues/Fri (except when I am still coughing and then I stay home, like tonight). These are in my appointment book. I have a long run and a long ride each weekend. Generally at the same time. The tempo workouts float depending on the rest of my responsibilities and my readiness to train. I am more successful in “Doing It” when I have a date with myself that is specific as to When & Where.

Ready-to-Go-Bag: have what you need to grab & go. I have a stack of wire baskets and two fabric-covered cardboard organisers to keep my gear readily available. Swim stuff (goggles, suit, flip-flops, swim cap, towel, shampoo); Bike stuff (shoes, helmet, glasses, socks, gloves, special comfy shorts, shirts etc); Running (shoes, shirts, anti-bounce gear). You get the idea. If I don’t stay organised I waste precious training time. Like looking for the matching cap for my favorite water bottle.

So the price of falling off the wagon into the allergy zone was two pounds. I’m giving them until the end of the week to find somewhere else to live. For the record, the yummy foods I enjoyed were well worth the cost. Now, back to my regular programming. Ten more weeks until Antwerpen.

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

and then hayfever set in.

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I wrote about having a sore throat on the 18th. Little did I know what was in store. I thought I was coming down with a cold. Worse. I’ve spent the last three weeks feeling miserable with never-ending hay fever. I got some race-safe medication on Friday, which has stopped the water-works somewhat. I will spare you the details.

8+21 must make this day 30 of my 45 day challenge, which of late has been about trying to breathe without coughing. So much for accountability and stupid goal setting. Or it’s day 29. Or I can make the 30-day challenge over and begin anew. Every day we begin again.

Really, I didn’t have the energy to write or train. Except for my accountability partner, since she was willing to listen to me whine. Or maybe since it’s email, she rightfully ignored me. But actually she did reply with encouragement.

So I have moved back to the 160’s for the moment. I’m feeling less wheezy and slightly more energetic. And soon, I will say Farewell to my house guests who have made really delicious food. I decided I would like all my meals to be really delicious. And maybe I won’t want to eat foil covered Easter chocolate. But they’re gone now. Thankfully. I’ve silenced them. Those silky-seductive voices of sugary smooth chocolate eggs that melt snug up to the roof of your mouth. No more.

I am motivated to get back to my former pure state and move back into the 150’s. Stay tuned.

Food today:
espresso and some 2% milk.
2 x the following:
20 g walnuts; 75 g blueberries and 2 HB eggs

Lunch was two tired filets of sole (it wasn’t the fault of the fish) decorated by some very tiny shrimp
green beans, salad greens without dressing
espresso with some cream
lots of water.

Dinner: TBA.

Tonight I start planning my food, since the chefs will leave the house early tomorrow.

PS. I arrived home to freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a fabulous meatloaf and Yorkshire pudding. I enjoyed everything I ate. Today was a rest day from training. Tomorrow – the two-week Maffetone Challenge.