Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 8: Coming Full Circle

Today we were back to day 1 exercises.  I felt like I didn't get as much of a burn out of these.  Maybe because it was not my first workout in a year, like it was last week.  I was actually able to scrape myself off the ground after the workout, which was a refreshing change from the last time I did chest and back.  I'm still feeling a little sore, but I can actually lift my hands to my head, so that's good.

Menu for the day:

Banana-blackberry smoothie
Boca soysage links

Disappointed when looking at the Boca box that their sausage links aren't vegan either.  Another disappointment.

Peanut chocolate Cliff bar (my new obsession)

Chef Salad w/ Amy's Green Goddess dressing
Veggie Soup

Snack 2:
1/4 cup cashews

Vegan sausage
Zucchini and potato bake
Steamed asparagus
1 cup soy milk

Wow, this sausage was great.  It was one of the first times that I've thought that it tasted on par with pork sausage.  Throw a little spicy mustard on top, and you got yourself a delicious main dish.  Still dryer than pork, but definitely tasty, and healthy.  This guy packed in lots of protein, and very little fat.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 7: Maxin' and Relaxin'

Today was a good rest day for me.  I could have either just had rest, or do the X Stretch routine.  Knowing that I'm fairly inflexible as it is, and wanting to get a good stretch in to relieve those aching muscles, I opted to do X Stretch.  It felt so good to stretch out the body and I felt so much better afterward.  It wasn't an hour of working, but an hour of relaxing and feeling the muscles get stretched out, so it was very calming.  Perfect to do before getting ready for bed.

The diet today didn't go that well.  I went off the vegan path and strayed to a Quorn Gruyere Chik'N Cutlet for dinner.  The cheese part really gives it away, but apparently, all their products contain egg whites.  I rationalized it by saying that I had already bought it, so eating non-vegan products is better than buying the products, then throwing them away.  I find it a bit sad that Quorn products aren't vegan, because they are definitely my favorite fake chicken product.  Maybe one day they will be, or at lest some of them will be.  There is a campaign on Facebook to make Quorn vegan.

Beyond the non-veganness, we had a lot of fat and carbs for the day, including the first glass of Maibock from my newest batch of beer.  It was tasty and so worth the extra carbs.  A great, refreshing desert.


Spinach, muchroom tomato, tofu and "cheese" scramble
cup of soy milk

You know the drill, cut an 8oz block of tofu in half, squeeze out a good amount of the moisture, and crumble into the pan.  Add in the spinach and mushroom, and cook till mushrooms are almost done.  Add in the tomato and cook until tomato is warm and soft.  At the end, melt in some "cheese" and you're good to go.  Tofu should be slighlty browned on the outside, but if you're impatient, you can just wait till it gets hot enough, doesn't matter.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Chocolate chip peanut chrunch Cliff bar

Tofu stir fry
veggie soup (remember, sans cream and with limited amount of olive oil)

These are both leftovers from previous nights, so they make a handy lunch at work.  Just pop them in the microwave and you're ready in a few minutes.

Snack 2
30 pistachios

Quorn Gruyere Chik'N Cutlet (easily substitute in Boca burger or other vegan protein product)
roasted rosemary potatoes
steamed broccoli
1 cup soy milk

For the potatoes, we just cut up a clove or two of garlic, cubed about 6 red potatoes, and threw in some fresh rosemary.  Mix this with just a bit of olive oil (only enough so they don't burn, not too much) and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.  This makes enough for 4 people easily.  Serving size is about a cup.  Remember to measure!

Broccoli was just steamed for about 8 minutes, or until it gets soft, but not mushy.  I top mine with a bit of lemon juice to give it some flavor.

1 pint Coalson's Spring Maibock

Brewed and made proudly in my home.  If you are interested in how to make it, you can pick up what you need at the Austin Homebrew Supply store.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 6: Final Workout

Day 6 was the last workout day in week 1.  Tomorrow is rest day or stretch X.  I would say I am glad for that, but part of me is getting used to and liking the abuse.  When you feel those muscles burn the next day, you know you're making progress, and that's a good feeling.  Of course, if I worked that hard every day, my body would probably break down like an old Chevy, so it's good that I have a day of rest.

Tonight was Kenpo X, which is basically kickboxing moves.  It is probably my favorite workout so far.  It was challenging, not only on the body, but to keep your mind focused on executing each of the moves correctly.  It's tough to remember even a basic four move combo when you are on your 20th going full blast!  The wife even joined me tonight, so it was a family affair.  We are both terribly beat now, and we'll sleep well tonight, that's for sure.

Menu Day 6:

Protein shake

Snack 1
Chocolate peanut Cliff Bar

Tofu stir fry

Snack 2
1/4 cup cashews

8oz soy milk
Grilled tofu
Grilled asparagus, squash and zucchini
1 cup brown and wild rice
1/4 cup cashews (right before workout)

Like my post earlier, I don't think I'm getting enough calories, and my veggie intake is a little low.  Tomorrow I'll sneak in a salad with lunch and maybe some veggie soup, or some soy scramble for breakfast.  Who knows?  The possibilities are endless...

A Hitch in My Plans

After listening to my tummy rumble for the last hour or so, I began wondering if I am really getting all the calories that I need since I started free-styling my menus, and not following the guide as much.  If you are needing 2600 calories a day, like I am, then you probably shouldn't be hungry an hour after lunch.

So I calculated my caloric intake for yesterday and here's what I ate:
cup of blackberries
cup of soy milk
cliff bar
bowl of soup
8oz tofu
side salad w dressing
zucchini, squash and potato bake

After tabbing most of it up, I'm only coming up with, at most 1800 calories, way short of where I should be.  I was a little surprised, since I feel like I'm eating all the time (about once every 2 1/2 hours), but numbers don't lie.  It makes sense too, since the first day, when I basically copied the first day's menu out of the plan, it was a struggle to get through dinner, and last night I was finishing off my wife's salad.  That should indicate that something is amiss.

So I need more calories, so expect to see some larger meal sizes in the next few days.  But remember, this isn't the same for everyone.  For me, a 160 lb male, I need about 2600 calories in a day, if you weigh more or less, you'll need more or less calories.  Just be sure they are coming from the right places.

Day 5: Falling Off The Wagon

So I was bad today.  I didn't completely demolish my diet, but I did take a few liberties with my fat intake this day.  Breakfast was fine, with my now favorite shake for breakfast.  Unfortunately, I didn't get out of bed till late, which threw off my entire eating schedule.  So I did breakfast, lunch, snack 1, dinner, snack 2.

Fruit smoothie

Black bean soup from Panera

So I definitely blew my carbs for the day here, but at least I skipped the bread bowl, which I normally get and scarf down.  About 50g carbs in this meal, as well as a whopping 1590mg of sodium, more than half my daily amount.  Still, it was low fat, and as far as I can tell from the Panera web site, vegan.  So not a total disaster.

Snack 1
Peanut and chocolate Cliff Bar

In a rush to go get groceries, so I shoved one in my pocket on the way out the door.  It was quite satisfying.

Grilled tofu (press small slices with paper towel, brush with BBQ sauce, grill till crispy)
zucchini and potato bake
side salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and vegan cheese

Here's where it went even further downhill.  First of all, the bake was quite loaded with potatoes, and the recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of olive oil, but at least it's the good type of fat in olive oil, right?  What really sent me plummeting was the dressing on the salad, Annie's Goddess dressing.  Even if you do eat animals, this stuff is amazing.  However, I made the mistake of just pouring it on and not measuring, so I probably had two servings on my small salad, blowing my fat content up to a pretty high level.

All and all, today could have been worse.  If you are complaining that you have too much dressing on your salad, and that your low-fat soup and apple lunch may have been off diet, you're still doing something right.

The workout for this day was legs and back, which really got my legs sore the next day, but I think I am getting used to all the pull-ups and stuff, because I could actually get my arms up high enough to wash the back of my neck without much stress.  Good times.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 4: Finally, Some Relief

Or at least that's what I thought.  The work out for today was Yoga X, which I was thinking would be some stretching and a few poses.  It should be good to loosen me up, but I wasn't expecting to work that much.  Boy, was I wrong.  When I popped it in and it said an hour and a half, I got a little nervous, and rightly so.  Most of the poses I fell out of, especially when I attempted the more difficult ones like warrior 3 and the dancer pose.  Not quite as complicated as what you see here, but I was feeling it.  It ended with some core work that I felt like I could actually do, and therefore get some burn in my abs.  It was good, and overall I did feel looser, but it was by no means a resting day.

The meals were a bit more complicated today, not in the recopies, but with the fact that my wife was getting back into town, and we were going out to dinner when she got in.  We went to Chuy's, which is only one of my absolute favorite Mexican places in Austin, but not entirely diet friendly.  I spotted a dinner salad on the menu and got that, which is a big improvement over my normal bean and cheese burrito, which I am saying aloha to.

Menu for today:

Soy scramble with mushrooms

Snack 1
Peanut butter and chocolate cliff bar

Tofu stir fry
8oz soy milk

Snack 2
1oz cashews

Protein shake
Dinner salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and vinagrette

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 3: Back to Basics

Even though I was so sore from the first day's back and shoulders, today's workout didn't seem as bad, at least once I found my wife's light bands.  The set I bought off the guy had the green P90X bands, which are the strongest they have.  I couldn't do a single rep on certain exercises, but once I found the light bands, I was good to go.  I would recommend getting weights instead though, since my wrists were constantly getting abused by the bottom of the plastic handles.  It was pain, but not the good type.

Waking up the next morning, I had a good, deep burn in my triceps, a good sign that things are working.

My eats for the day:

Fruit smoothie, just like yesterday.

Lunch (2 parts):
2 cups veggie soup (same batch)
Chef Salad
2 cups romaine or other lettuce
1/2 roma tomato, chopped
1/4 cup hearts of palm
1/2 package tofurkey lunch meat
3 tbsp. low fat dressing (Annie's fat-free balsamic vinagrette)

Had to divide this up today, I ate a late breakfast and snack, and had lunch with some friends at 11:30, so I at my soup then and my chef salad about an hour later.

1 oz cashews


Soy scramble with a whole wheat pita
1/2 package soyrizo
8oz firm tofu
handful of mushrooms

Dump all ingredients in a medium-high non-stick skillet and keep the ingredients in motion.  For non-stick skillets, the soyrizo will clump and stick if it's not in motion.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until everything starts to brown


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 2: Plyometrics

I'm not going to lie.  I was dogging it today, and not like that jacked Russel terrier you see on the right. (By the way, if you are looking for pictures for your blog, don't search the term "dogging it" without safesearch on, gross.)  After waking up about an hour and a half late, working till 7, getting my keggerator set up, and watching a very emotional Grey's Anatomy (Real men cry at TV shows!) I was feeling drained.  Tonight was Plyometrics, which is basically doing a butt load of squat jumps and jumping around.  I got through the warm-up and first 20 minutes ok, but then I found myself only going about half steam through the rest of it.  There were times when I couldn't get 20 seconds of a 30 second set out.  It was terrible.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better.  Here were my meals for the day:

Fruit smoothie
1 banana
1 cup berries (blackberries for me since they were on sale)
1 cup soy milk
3/4 cup of ice (eyeballed it)
1 1/2 scoops of protein powder

Blend all ingredients till smooth.

This was f-ing delicious.  I'm not kidding around here, I could drink that stuff every single day.  Simply love smoothies.  I might mix it up with some strawberries tomorrow or the next day...

Morning Snack:
Forgot my Cliff Bar at home, so I had to go to the vending machine, which has Odwalla bars instead.  These are not nearly as good.  Too much fat and carbs, not enough protein, but it's better than a Snickers.

1 oz Cashews
Tofu Stir Fry
1 yellow pepper
1 crown broccoli
1 cup snow peas
16 oz Tofu
equal amounts soy sauce, rice vinegar, and veggie broth

I made this the night before, and just added in whatever looked good in an amount that looked good.  You should have about equal parts tofu and veggie.  I think I threw in a package and a half, but I don't remember exactly.  Just bring some of the soy sauce, vinegar, and broth to a good temp over medium-high heat, this will replace your oil.  You can add in some flavorings, like garlic or scallions, I skipped this because I forgot.  Then just toss in your veggies and tofu and cook till veggies are firm, but not crispy.  Simple, eh?

This was pretty good, but not great.  Needed some more flavoring, have to remember the garlic next time.

30 pistacios

They're nuts, same as yesterday, but I really like pistachios.


Veggie soup
8 oz baked tofu
1 cup rice

Lighter than yesterday, since I didn't have the added veggie, which was a (pardon the colloquialism) godsend, since plyometrics should be done without a huge amount of food in your gut.  The veggie soup was sans protein, so It didn't taste like liquefied ass, which was nice.  Though it still wasn't great.  The recipe was from the P90X guide, but I think I'll go with my own next time, since this wasn't quite on par.  What I usually make is this, but if you nix the oil and use broth for the sauté, and skip the roasted tomatoes you can cut out some of the fat, or leave it in and live a little.

That's it, day 2 complete.  I feel like I dogged it today, but hopefully I can get enough rest for tomorrow's workout, and to actually get up for work on time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 1: Feeling the Burn

The first day started off pretty well.  I am not used to eating 5 times a day, so it felt like I was constantly consuming some foodstuffs.  Let's go through the list

My breakfast was pretty simple, I had tofu mushroom scramble with a glass of milk and a cup of strawberries.

Tofu Scramble:
1. Heat non-stick skillet to medium high heat.  Take 8oz of tofu, cut in half, and squeeze to let a good portion of the liquid out.  Crumble the tofu into the skillet. Cook about halfway through (till it's about half brown, or about 5 minutes)
2. Add in 1/2 cup of diced Roma tomatoes and a handful of mushrooms.  Cook until tofu is firm and mushrooms have released their juice.

You can mix this up with anything, the base is the tofu, but you can do soy cheese, spinach, tomatoes, anything that suits your fancy.

According to the program, this should be the P90X bar and shake, but I'm not paying for that crap, so I had a Cliff bar instead.  Those things are darn good.  It's like a candy bar, only it doesn't have an entire day of saturated fat in it.  The chocolate peanut  butter is to die for.

I had a salad and two veggie burgers, no bun or condiments.  The salad was basic, 2 cups romaine, 1/2 cup tomatoes, 1/4 cup hearts of palm, some avocado, and 3 tbsp of dressing.  Would be great with ranch.  Not sure if they make vegan ranch dressing.  I guess I could make my own.

I have to say, the salad was a nice diversion.  After such a filling breakfast and snack, it felt good to just eat some greens.

30 pistachios.  Pretty tasty, and I knew I would need some energy to get me through the rest of the afternoon.  More water, constantly drinking water.


Baked tofu, 1 cup steamed asparagus, 1 cup brown and wild rice, vegetable soup.

The tofu was great!  It was simple to make and tasted pretty good.  I've developed a taste for tofu over the last two years.  Before I went vegetarian, I wouldn't touch the stuff, now I honestly like the texture and taste, if prepared right.  The soup I made last night, so it was just heat and eat, the rest was basic steaming/boiling.

Note to self: It says to add protein powder to the soup.  Never do this again!  After adding the soy powder, it turned my once palatable soup into a creamy (not in a good way) mess that almost made me blow chunks.  I had to throw half of it out because if I finished it, I would have been praying to the porcelain god.  It's bad enough having to power through so much food, but to add this creamy gross mess to it made it ten times worse.

The First Workout:
Holy crap.  They are not messing around with this.  I did arms and back, with ab ripper X.  After the first round, I felt like I was whipped, and then came the second round, and there were times when I couldn't do a single rep.  I need to pace myself better in the first, because after the first hour, I thought I was going to die.  Then came the ab ripper and I couldn't get much of anything accomplished because I was so weak.  As I type this, I can't raise my arms above my head and I collapsed on the couch and didn't do so much as blink for a half hour straight.  I couldn't even lift a glass of water.  This is going to be tough.

Bottom line:
I feel like I have been eating all day long and I don't know if I'm going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 0.5

Ok, so I'm not officially starting today like I should, but I finally got my meal plan for the week worked out and went to the grocery store.  I could tell that it was a good plan, since 90% of my groceries came from the produce section.  Always a good sign when you're buying more fresh veggies than anything else.  I did have one issue though.  I couldn't find any vegan breakfast sausages in the frozen section.  My beloved Morninstar patties have egg in them.  I choose the next best option, which was the Boca links, which according to the box have trace ammounts of milk product.  If the store was more robust, you can find some better options.  I think that Central Market carries the organic veggie sausage, which I think is completely vegan.  Another good option would be soyrizo or one of the other soy sausage products next to the tofu, which might be vegan as well.

Another problem I had was with protien/energy bars.  I'll be eating one of these as a mid-morning snack every day, but I couldn't find any that were expressly vegan.  I went with the Cliff Bar Chocolate and Peanut butter type, since it said it might be produced on lines with egg, milk, etc, but didn't say it contained any.  A quick check on their site says that they are vegan, so that's good, since I love those bars.  If you can't find them, then you could also do Luna bars, which seem to be vegan as well.

So the grocery store was a success, and I was feeling pretty darn good about my chances, then I ran over to GNC to get some protien powder, which is another essential part of the P90X system, since you do a shake every day.  Unfortunately, the kid working the desk wasn't much help.  I mentioned I'm looking for vegan protein powder, and he told me that one product goes great when mixed with milk.  Maybe he assumed soy milk, but I wasn't so sure about this guy, especially when he tried to sell me fruit punch flavored powder after I said I would be mixing it with everything, including soup.

I realized that the size of these containers is ridiculous.  There was a 15 ft wall stacked floor to ceiling with whey powder, but very slim pickings with the soy powder.  I grabbed a container of the unflavored soy powder and got the heck out of there.  If I need more, I'll order it online, as they have a better selection and their website is more helpful than their help.  I just don't want to look like this guy:

So I'm all set for my first day tomorrow.  Tonight will be spent making soup as well as deconstructing my mini-fridge to make a keggerator.  It's ironic that I'll have a keg full of home made delicious beer, but will be on a very low carb diet.  Beer only counts as a single serving of carbs right?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 0

Day 0 consists of doing some basic fit tests.  These will let me know if I can even do this whole program.  It doesn't make much sense to have someone start on a workout plan if they can't even do a pull up.  so here are my first test results and measurements:

Body Fat: 12%
Weight: 160
Chest: 35"
Waist: 32 1/4"
Hips: 34"
Right Thigh: 20 1/2"
Left Thigh: 21 1/4"
Right Bicep: 11 1/2"
Left Bicep: 10 1/2"

The first thing I notice about my measurements is how asymetrical I am.  For crying out loud, one side of my body has an inch on the other in my thighs and biceps.  The second thing that hit me is the pipe-cleaner like size of my arms.  The average is about 3 inches larger, though my thighs are about right.

Resting Heart Rate: 76 BPM

Pretty average for my age/size.  That's a promising sign.  Now we come to the actual physical measurements.  I warm up for about 10 minutes then measure the following, doing as many reps as I can before failure.

Pull ups: 6 (my wife says closer to 5)
Vertical leap: 25 1/4"
Push ups: 19
Sitting on floor, reaching for toes: -1 (inch away from my toes)

Not terrible, but not even close to what I can do with some training.  The last part is to do some calisthenics for about 10 minutes at a brisk rate, with the last minute going as fast as I can.  Then I measure my heart rate right after stopping, and at minute intervals thereafter:

After stopping: 178 BPM
1 min after: 142 BPM
2 min after: 120 BPM
3 min after: 114 BPM
4 min after: 108 BPM

And finally, what would an infomercial workout be without expecting you to take some before/after shots.  Avert your eyes if you are sensitive to pale skin and farmer tans.

The above were all from the P90X book, the one below was just for fun.

The Motivation

I played football in high school.  Even though I was one of the skinniest guys out there, and my scant weight afforded me no advantages of speed, I managed to make it work.  As a freshman, I weighed in at a sickly 125 pounds, soaking wet.  I still remember one very normal sized girl at the time remarked, dejectedly, that I weighed less than her, and I can't remember if it was her or I who took greater offense.

Despite my scant proportions, I managed to get by just fine, and by the end, I was at a respectable 165 and could bench press almost 200.  I was proud of my transformation, at least in my strength.  Unfortunately other portions of my skill-set, like eliminating my social awkwardness, went undeveloped, probably due to the crippling insecurity and near 100% rejection rate.   Luckily my wife somehow became infatuated with my bumbling, befuddled self my freshman year of college.  Love you honey.

Over the 4 years since I stopped my training, I've actually lost weight, down to about 160.  Most would love to claim that they weigh less than they did as a senior in high school.  I'm constantly hearing commercials for supplements promising to get you "high school skinny".  I think to myself, if I were as skinny today as I was as a freshman in high school, then others might suggest, as my wife's grandfather did when I first met him, that it looks like I have TB. Not the most gracious of comments to hear as someone who is supposed to be in the prime of their physical lives.

27 is often marked, at least in fantasy baseball, as the age at which a batter will really hit his stride.  I am turning 27 this October, and am possibly in the worst shape of my entire life.  Sure, I'm still svelte by almost anyone's measurement, but when you don't work out with any consistency for almost 4 years, you can feel the things that once came easy become difficult.  I can't even make it through a volleyball game without feeling slightly winded, and I don't even want to guess how little I can bench press.

But this is not just about being able to lift heavy objects without strain and walking up the stairs without breaking a light sweat, it's about overall health as well.  Without a workout regimen, I am putting myself at risk of many diseases and maladies, including heart disease, and even though I'm not a smoker, according to the ACS, diet and lack of exercise can be equally as deadly.  I, like most other person I know, wants to live a long and fulfilling life, and that ain't going to happen by sitting on the couch eating taquitos, no matter how delicious they happen to be.

Which brings me to my last topic, diet.  I have been a vegetarian for about 2 years.  Though I have strayed from the path a few times (weddings, on vacation, and once at the famous Salt Lick), I have been rather consistent.  However, after reading through most of Eating Animals, my radical side has kicked back on, and I want to do this sans animal products.  It shouldn't be that radical of a change.  I gave up milk with my breakfast a while ago, and rarely eat eggs unless we happen upon a batch that I know my wife won't eat.  Other than that, most everything else is already vegan.

Just after making this decision, I looked at the diet prescribed by my workout plan.  For the first few weeks, it's mostly protein, and very little carbs or veggies.  Looking over their recipe guide, it's almost all meat steaks in sauce.  So, I will be posting what I eat with every meal, along with how to make them, hopefully as a guide to others who might be considering a high-protein diet but don't want the slaughtered animal part.  It will also stand as a case study for all those who worry about the lack of protein in vegan diets, and that it can be done.

Over the next 90 days, I'll be displaying my diet and exercise routine for all to see.  The routine that I'm following will be familiar to anyone who has watched their local ABC on a Saturday or Sunday morning during infomercial row, P90X.  Yes, the one that promises to get you ripped up in just 90 days.  I don't aspire to be the next Arnold, but with a daily routine and diet, I can at least make an improvement.   Hopefully, by the end, I will be transformed once again, as in high school, from being as weak as a bullet made out of tissue, to being in the best shape of my life.  We'll see.