Friday, February 14, 2014

I'm a Big, FAT, Idiot (End of Experiment)

Well, my experiment was not as successful as I would have hoped. Honestly, I felt like I had lost 5 pounds. Unfortunately the scale this morning revealed that I had gained a pound! DANG!

The experiment guidelines:

  • Eliminate grains and sugars from my diet whenever possible
  • Exercise at least 3 times a weeks for a minimum of one hour
  • DO NOT weigh myself again until Valentines Day
  • DO NOT count calories

In terms of removing sugar and grains, I managed that with no problem (although I missed a few sweets). I felt great the entire time and never once woke up with a sugar hangover. My energy level was up and I never felt like my workouts suffered.

My training continued as planned and I had no problem meeting the 3 weekly one hour workouts. Most of the weeks included about 7-9 hours of training.
  • I ran 15 times for a total of 102 miles and burned 9,700 calories
  • I rode 11times for a total of 231 miles and burned 6,700 calories
  • I also swam 8 times and went to one spin class…there was also my daily walk at work
Here's where I think the problem occurs:

Bad Idea: Not Weighing Myself Regularly

By not weighing myself at least once a week, I was clueless. By not having this one valuable piece of information, I was able to continue without any idea that what I was doing was not giving me the desired affect. 

REALLY Bad Idea: Not Counting Calories

Even without the scale, I think my biggest problem was not counting calories. I'm not a big calorie counter to begin with…whenever I try to write down what I eat, I fail within about 1/2 a day…I hate the extra work required LOL. Regardless, I usually have a pretty good running total in my mind and if I stick to my 5 small meals a day without additional snacking. When I do this, I keep my weight in my desired zone.

Unfortunately, with this experiment, I gave myself free reign to eat whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted as long at it didn't have sugar or grains. That's what "Don't count calories" means, right?

In reality, this meant that I was eating a lot of butter, cheese, meat, and NUTS that were not typically part of my diet.

This is a 5 lb. bag of peanuts that was FULL a few weeks ago

3rd tub of fancy mixed nuts
The pictures above are not reflective of ALL I ate, there was also a BIG bag of pistachios from Costco as well as numerous bags of nuts from Trader Joe's. I cannot believe how stupid and self-destructive this was! What did I think was going to happen by eating all of these high calorie foods without any kind of accounting? DUH!

Besides being high in calories, do you know what a diet of nuts and cheese does to your system? If you think it makes you more regular you are WRONG! In fact, this morning as I was taking my time getting out of bed I had the following conversation with Hot Stuff…

HS:   "Are you waiting to go to the bathroom before you weigh yourself?" 
ME:  "Yes." 
HS:   "Are you going to put that in your blog?"
ME:  "Sure."

(The discussion then turned to the amount of weight "going" could actually account for, but I'll spare you the details of that! LOL)

Well, I waited and waited and waited…heck, it's been over 3 days, what's a few more minutes, right? Eventually, after a big, fat NOTHING, I gave up and weighed myself. I was certain the scale was going to show 144, this would have put me 6 pounds under my starting weight. Unfortunately, the scale read 151, which is up one pound from my starting weight, which at the time was five pounds heavier than my normal weight. 

So, after all this time and effort I had merely hoped to be 1 pound lighter than my normal weight. What a stupid goal…OK, I've got to ease up on myself. My goal wasn't stupid, the way I went about it was! LOL 

Where Do I Go From Here?

Well, my goal is now to get back to my normal 145 and then go from there. This time I will not be eating with uncontrolled abandon. I will begin weighing myself weekly and I will keep sugar and heavily processed foods out of my diet. I will probably add oatmeal, quinoa, and wild rice back in to my diet, but bread remains a no-no.

I will get back to my 5 small meals a day plan and, for the time being, I'm going to skip the nuts and cheese.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Aw NUTS! - Experiment Day 32

Step away from the box and
nobody gets hurt (or fat)
Yesterday, a co-worker celebrating his promotion brought in bagels and cream cheese from Panera Bread. He was a "Bagel Hero" according to the box.

My friend, who has decided to give Atkins another go, sits about 10 feet away from where all the doughy goodness was displayed. In an effort to bolster her resolve, I did a quick Google search on "weight gain from eating bagels"...I knew I would find something easily and quickly...and I did. I also stumbled across some search results that brought my world and experiment crashing down around me.

My horrific find on the bagel search hinted that nuts would cause weight gain. This lead to another, more refined search...WEIGHT GAIN FROM NUTS!!!

13,000,000 results in .37 seconds. Thank you, Google for ruining my day!

Google can be dangerous to my mental health
One might be thinking "What's the big deal?" The big deal is, since I started my experiment over four weeks ago, I have been eating nuts with abandon. Peanuts, almonds, fancy roasted name it, I've been eating some sort of deranged squirrel. Probably somewhere along the lines of a 1/2 cup to full cup everyday! Why not? I'm not counting calories and they aren't sugar or up!

Unfortunately, a majority of the articles say something along these lines...
Consuming nuts in MODERATION doesn't pose a threat for weight gain and may even enhance weight loss, according to a review published in 2010 in the “Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” However, overindulging in nuts as part of a high-calorie meal plan could cause you to pack on extra pounds. 
It's the moderation part that has me sweating my results on Friday. Ugh!!! I've already made up my mind that if my weight has gone up or hasn't changed much, it's because of the nuts. Until Friday, I've sworn off nuts!

Monday, February 10, 2014

New Shoes or Recovery? - Experiment Day 31

Last week I was so happy to share my base training results with my Lodi Masters teammates. I was seeing an improvement that I didn't think was possible at such a low effort level. I even put my results into a spreadsheet to share…

I was so proud of these results
Then came Friday. I went on a long run with HS and my legs were dead. On top of that, my heart rate was hovering over 150+ instead of down around 148. My pace was horrible and I felt that the results I had shared only days earlier were some sort of mistake. I was feeling quite devastated and didn't want to tell anybody how my training had taken such a sharp down turn.

A New Day, A New Pair of Shoes

Saturday I went to Fleet Feet and used my $120 worth of "safety bucks" (I work in such a dangerous office) to buy the Adidas Energy Boost shoes I had been eyeing since first trying them out in December. I tried the shoes out a couple of days after CIM at a Fleet Feet Tuesdays night run. They felt great, but since I had recently purchased a pair of On Cloud Surfers, I new I had to wait before buying a new pair.

Cloudsurfers vs. Adidas
Runner's World named the Energy Boost the Best Debut and it is easy to see why. They are light and responsive, but still feel soft under foot. It's hard to explain…must be that fancy foam they use. They make more of a slapping noise than the super-quiet On Cloudsurfers, but they look 10x better. It's hard to get past the "clouds" on the bottom of the On's…they are just a little strange looking for my taste.

Anyway, I had my new shoes on today and they felt great and I am running faster than I have gone so far in my base training…much faster than Friday's dismal run. What is going on?

Monday vs Friday

I'm not sure where my increase energy and lower heart rate came from today, but I'll take it. I am so happy to see improvement! Perhaps I was better fueled than I was on Friday. Maybe my legs were rested. Who knows?  LOL

Sunday, February 9, 2014

5 Days Left of the Experiment - Food on the Brain

I'm really enjoying not counting calories…it's been a nice little break. However, it is killing me not knowing if I've lost or gained weight. If I had to guess, I would say I lost weight…but I've been wrong about theses kind of things before.

While cutting out grains and sugar isn't that big of deal for me, I find myself missing a few of the staples in my diet. Please, no more eggs...I long for a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with sliced green apples for breakfast. I also miss wild rice at dinner and could use a little more fruit. I also want to start drinking P90X Results and Recover drink after my long runs and I want agave on my greek yogurt.

Even though I find myself missing some foods, I've taken this time to try out new recipes…maybe get a few new favorites :-)

Zucchini Pasta

On Friday, I fixed zucchini pasta with a meat sauce from Angelina's. HS argues that if it is made out of zucchini, it is not pasta. I countered with the fact that gnocchi is made from potatoes and that it is considered a pasta. If its long and noodle-y, it's pasta to me.

Although I have a nice stainless steel mandolin, and could have probably made veggie strips with it, they wouldn't have been spirals. I wanted the curly cues to add to the pasta-esque of my dinner. So I followed Lindsey's lead and ordered a GEFU Spiral Cutter.

Zucchini and yellow squash 
Regardless of HS's opinion on "authentic" pasta, the zucchini pasta was delicious and very satisfying. It was so good in fact, that I plan on doing a "kid test" and fixing it for his grand kids.

I could have eaten two bowls of this!
Cauliflower Pizza - Take 2

Since I was not happy with my first attempt at cauliflower pizza crust, I decided to try it again and this time I followed directions.

Looks like dough this time
This time I used a towel to wring out all of the moisture from the cauliflower. I was amazed at how much actually came out…going by touch, I thought the cauliflower felt pretty dry after I cooked it.

Ready for the oven

Homemade sauce
On my first attempt at this pizza, I bought a jar of organic pizza sauce. It was thin and runny and I had to try and cook it down to try and thicken it up. This time I used a can of tomato sauce and a can of tomato paste and then seasoned it with italian spices and garlic. Much better…and cheaper too!

Finished product

This time we added some roasted tomatoes along with the pepperoni. I think I'll do a sausage and mushroom next time. While the crust still isn't strong enough so you can pick up a slice and stuff it into your face, it is really good.

Banana Treat

Ok, I saw this posted on Lindsey's Facebook and new I needed to try it. I've been dying for something sweet and thought this would be perfect.

I sliced three bananas, put them in a ziplock bag and placed them in the freezer. After they were frozen,   I took the bananas and blended them with coconut milk. It was good, but the bananas were barely ripe…closer to being green than brown. I think if I would have used bananas that were just a bit riper, the sweetness would have been ideal. Instead, my dessert had a hint of  green banana taste. Oh well, just like the cauliflower pizza, there is always another chance.

Frozen banana goodness

Hot Flashes And Half Ironmans (Women's Health and Triathlon) - Review

I really wanted to like this book…heck, I want to like all the books I purchase.  Besides, I love a good triathlon book. I love reading about the struggles and triumphs of competition. I love reading the race reports. Unfortunately this book just didn't do it for me.

I thought this book was going to follow a particular journey from training to race day. Instead, it seemed to jump around a lot. One chapter made such an abrupt change that I stopped to check to make sure that I hadn't somehow switched books. On top of that, 20% of the Kindle book was excerpts from other books the author was trying to sell.

Even though this book was only $2.99 in the Kindle store, I would suggest saving your money.

Official Summary

Hot Flashes And Half Ironmans (Women's Health and Triathlon) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Published April 29, 2012

Middle-aged Endurance Athletics Meets The Hormonally Challenged

Women get older, dammit, and sometimes it sucks, especially for women who pride themselves on athleticism and an adventurous spirit. Hot flashes. Weight gain. Sleepless nights. Yes, it can be hard, but middle age doesn’t have to be a flashing red stop light. It’s perfectly acceptable for women of a certain age, a certain level of hormonal imbalance, and a certain amount of cellulite to don spandex and even enter the rarefied sport of endurance triathlon.

In fact, there’s a huge advantage to aging: much of the potential competition drops out in favor of the couch and a remote control. And the endurance high? The elation of dietary purity and discovering you can have arms like Madonna? The Zen of goal attainment? Better than a good Shiraz buzz. Once you get past the ugly mood swings, chafing on your girly parts, and a “kill your own mother” craving for sleep and a hot Cinnabon, that is.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins has been there and done that, with lessons learned and sense of humor (usually) intact. She completed her first triathlon at 39 and her first Half Ironman at 40. She has her eye on an M-dot tattoo in 2014.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Controlled Chaos (Experiment Day 26)

I am afraid that my frequent, random, and frequently random posts may have given everyone the impression that I am all over the place in terms of my training...that I'm doing a little of this and a little of that and that I've got no clear plan. In fact, one of my recent posts elicited the following comment...
"Focus on ONE training aspect at a time (building your base,controlling your breathing, finding your racing weight, getting your nutrition right, mastering transition,improving your run or bike or swim, etc.) otherwise you can't be sure which change is having what effect." ~ Train 4 Life
Maybe I am a bit "unfocused", but it's just how I prefer to approach my training. I've got to ease into has to be something I WANT to do.

You see, I hate having someone tell me what to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc. I have barely learned to tolerate Coach James  when he's telling me how to swim LOL! When I read (or tried to read) The Triathletes Training Bible I quickly disengaged from the whole process...I could not fathom trying to spell out exactly what kind of training and racing I was going to do for a FULL freakin' year!!!

Last year was my first year in triathlon.  Any kind of activity that I did that improved my fitness would in turn make me faster. There is no way I would have followed any kind of regimen that first year. Now that I am starting my second year, I am prepared to get a little more focused. Last month I began filling out the annual training plan form from The Triathletes Training Bible, but stopped when it came to actually specifying the type of workout that was going to be done...force? speed? endurance? blah blah blah... Forget about breaking down the annual plan into weekly plans...maybe in year 3.

Ok, back to my lack of focus or as I prefer to think of it...controlled chaos :-)  Here are some of the things I was doing or planned on doing...and where I am in the process...


On Dec. 18, 2013 I posted the following...
"My intention is to do the full 90 days of P90X3 while maintaining my regular triathlon training. I hope to see a marked improvement in my body."
Unfortunately, my resolve only lasted for 3 weeks before the freezing cold weather took a turn for gorgeous and I just had to get outside. The pool at Tokay was also re-opened at the end of the December and that meant I could resume my swimming too.

This is no reflection on P90X3. I really liked the workouts, and I LOVE Tony Horton... I just missed going on group rides and long runs and being outside. I know I need to get some sort of strength training into my routine, but right now, I'm just not feeling it.

My Experiment

This so called experiment was basically to test out the no sugar or grains diet proposed by Vinnie Tortorich in his book, Fitness Confidential. I was interested in finding out if I could eat this way and continue my training... losing weight would be a huge bonus for a couple of reasons 1) Less weight would make training/racing easier 2) I'd look better. 

Recap of the experiment...
  • Weigh myself on Jan 10 to get my starting weight. 
  • Eliminate grains and sugars from my diet whenever possible.
  • Exercise at least 3 times a weeks for a minimum of one hour.
  • DO NOT weigh myself again until Valentines Day.
  • DO NOT count calories.

I am still doing the experiment and other than forcibly being weighed for my VO2 max testing, I have stayed off of the scale. I have adhered to everything else in the experiment. Actually, most of the items on the list above are things I do anyway, so it wasn't a huge lifestyle change. I'll know if it worked in about a week and a half.

Base Training

This is my first step into "big girl" training...of actually having a plan...

The Triathletes Training Bible say there needs to be a period of base training. Since I wasn't entirely sure what needed to be done, I did a little research on the Internet (Don't ask me why I don't just read the book). I was overwhelmed with the amount of data I found stressing the importance of base traininggo slow to go fast! Ok, I'm sold on base training and have a pretty good idea what needs to be done.

For the last two weeks I have been keeping my heart rate in a zone that will increase my aerobic capacity. It took me a while to find the right HR zone, but I think I have found it. If you asked me to tell you if I thought base training was working, I would tell you that I'm running as slow as a snail and losing all my fitness. Luckily, I have a Garmin that tells me the truth. Below is a table showing my HR vs. my average pace. While maintaining my desired HR, I have increased my speed! I can't wait to see my results in a couple more weeks.

The cherry on top of these results is a post from my tri coach today…it was one of the longest posts I have every seen him write. Anyway, he mentions my results (table above) in his post…
"So, where am I going with this? Here is a chart Tracy Pengilly made that shows what she has been doing for the past month. She was discouraged at first but now is showing major improvement!! She will do intervals in 8 weeks for Vineman but will return to her Base after the Race. And when she is Training for an Ironman I will add more interval training time. I could not expaain this any better. Another thing Tracy is running on Cruise control and so she has time to think about efficiency. And she gets faster without ever turning a pedal or running a stride in distress."
Well said coach! I could not put it any better than that…I am not in "distress" when I am running or biking. In fact, when I am training in this HR zone, I have the feeling that I could go on forever. I could have rode for 100 miles last Saturday…although I'm sure that Schlitz and Mojo would have dropped me by then…testosterone doesn't like to go slow!  (Just kidding guys!)

My Point

Yes I may have a unique way of going about my training, but for now, this is how I am going to do it. If it doesn't work out, there is always year 3. If it does work out, I'm writing a book!  LOL

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Let me preface this post with one simple warning...FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! I did not do this and therefore, my results were not ideal...the pizza tasted good, I just think the crust could have been a bit better.

Here is a link to the recipe I used... Cauliflower Crust Pizza - Tasty Kitchen

My problem was that I did not see the Parmesan was hiding behind other ingredients. On top of that, the list of ingredients was not posted until the very bottom of the page. Who reads that far in advance? I also didn't read the paragraph right below the picture of ingredients. I just looked at the pic and went grocery shopping. I did not realize my mistake until I got home...I ended up using additional mozzarella to make up for the missing Parmesan.

So you don't make the same mistake I are the ingredients...
  • 1 head (Small Head) Cauliflower
  • ¼ cups Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ cups Mozzarella Cheese
  • ¼ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Dried Basil
  • ½ teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • ½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Meal (optional)
  • 1 whole Egg
The pictures and the instructions are much better on the Tasty Kitchen pics are just to prove that I really did make this.  Here is my experience...

Chopped up a head of cauliflower in my Ninja

Microwaved until soft

Squeezed moisture out of cooked cauliflower

On the Tasty Kitchen page, they stress squeezing out every last drop of moisture so you don't get a crumbly crust. I was afraid that if I used a towel like they did, my crust would end up tasting like Downy. So instead of wringing it out like they showed, I used paper towels (lots of them)...I don't think I got enough moisture out.

Crust was not binding together well, so I sprinkled
a little extra cheese on top

Opted for a pepperoni pizza

Had to eat it with a fork, but it tasted great!

I will definitely make this recipe again, but will use the Parmesan and the almond flour.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

80 Mile "Pancake" Ride (sans pancakes)

Yesterday marked Day No. 23 of my experiment. I started the day out with a bowl of black beans topped with cheese and a couple of cups of coffee. My plan was to ride 80 miles...I prayed that this meager meal was enough to get me to our breakfast stop which was 40 miles away.

Garmin Connect keeps track of my PRs
In keeping with my base training, I set my Garmin to "bike" and programmed my maximum heart rate to 148…anything above this number would cause my watch to beep. Since HS had LASIK surgery the day before, he would not be riding with me. I was not alone though…Paul (aka Schlitz), Mojo, Rosa, and Nancy were all riding out of Stockton with me.

We started at an easy pace, but eventually Paul had to take the lead…I don't think he can go slow for too long. I picked up my pace to try and keep up but my Garmin chirped so I eased up. We made it to Coach James' ranch and did not waste any time chit chatting. It was going to be a long day for some of us and we wanted to get on the road.

At Isleton, we picked up a few more riders and were once again on our way…

Isleton rider pickup
We finally made it to Korth's and were at the mercy of our less than happy waitress who was not anxious, like we were, to get back on the road. My breakfast consisted of two eggs, two sausage links, and hash browns (hey, they're aren't a grain!) Eventually we finished our meal and set off again.

We said goodbye to some riders in Isleton (this was a 20 mile ride) and kept going. James and Matt dropped off at the ranch (53 mile ride) which left me, Paul and Mojo to continue back to Stockton. I was worried that I was going to be holding the guys back because of my HR restriction but they had no intention of leaving me behind. Paul rode up next to me and told me that he would take the lead. He then added "Let me know if you beep and I'll slow down". We rode in relative silence the rest of the way to town, but we made it. It was my longest ride to date!

Pancake+  by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details