January 2012 Archives

Paleo Week 3 Begins!

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Last week, was 100% dedicated to Paleo diet. I wasn't as creative as my first week, but still had a few good meals that I got to try.

One thing I learned with diets like this is a simple motto, "Don't sweat the small stuff."

For example, years ago I did a real hardcore diet, which had me eating every 3 hours, but was vague on details. So I kept it simple, and by week 3 of eating chicken, chicken, chicken, steak, chicken, chicken, chicken I was ready to die from "food boredom". I wanted to be good but was dying for something different to eat, and I wasn't a very good cook that could just "whip" up a dish.

With the Paleo diet, it's much easier. I have a cookbook to guide me, plus i'm being less strict, especially when it comes to the 'small stuff', like condiments or dressing. For example, like using 'A1 sauce' on steak. I'm not drinking a half-gallon of it every meal, but adding some on the side to have with a steak isn't going to derail the diet. Deciding to have garlic bread with pasta and meatballs would derail the diet. I still haven't had bread, pasta, sugary snacks or drinks or alcohol. I feel fine.

I have had a few temptations, but since i'm eating regularly, and also drinking plenty of water (this is often forgotten in diets), I don't have any real hunger pangs for bad foods.

Current weight is 217 pounds. Losing 5 pounds is no big deal, and that's "water weight" to me. I don't necessarily have a target weight goal, maybe 212 or so would be good, but don't want to lose muscle weight there, more interested in reduction of bodyfat.

Crossfit last week I was there for 5 days. Only had one setback on Thursday when I slightly hurt my shoulder. I left class early rather than risk doing more damage.

Onwards and upwards!

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I'm sure you heard the old news by now about Paula Deen. What a shock. Eating crap her whole life and gets diabetes in her 60's.

Paula, and she defended herself and her cooking by saying things like "I'm not your doctor" and "practice moderation".

Let me lay out exactly what's wrong with that attitude and exactly what's wrong with our society when it comes to food.

1. We are surrounded by bad, but convenient food options. Try to eat healthy on the road.
2. We are all weak. You, me, everyone.
3. Food is like a drug. You get pleasure from eating. Bite into a doughnut. Slurp that coffee with cream and sugar. In your brain, the endorphins explode with delight.
4. Most chefs at any major restaurant can easily tell you that they slather food with butter, salt and sugar. They spike food to make it even more delicious.
5. Most of the processed foods in the worlds have far too much sugar and salt.

So the problem is - we are a trapped society, unless YOU make your own meals. The problem with making your own meals is time. Yes, some meals can be made quickly. But even last night when I decided i'd like to just have a steak & baked sweet potato, it still took me 90 minutes to get it completed. I didn't have steak on hand - so I had to walk to Garden of Eden to buy it fresh, along with the sweet potato. I baked the sweet potato at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. The steak was fast, about 5 minutes cook time, and another 10 minutes of 'rest' before I eat it (let the juices settle).

Now that i'm doing the paleo diet, i'm not going to turn into some born again diet freak shouting from the rooftops that we should not eat breads, pasta, sugars. I love bread. I love pasta. I do plan to eat them again. But i'd like to be a lot more moderate, in the future, about how I do this.

I was at work the other day and someone was telling me how they 'eat in moderation', but 'mostly healthy' and they 'hit the gym all the time'. Meanwhile this was clearly someone overweight. I have no doubt if this person kept a food journal they would quickly realize that they were not eating in moderation. Here's the new rule for eating in moderation: "You get three 'cheat meals' a week". That's it. So imagine you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, 7 days a week, or 21 'meals'. You can eat poorly on only three of those. I would bet you dollars to doughnuts that anyone who says "I eat in moderation" cheats at least 8-10 times. Or, at the very least, have no concept of portion sizes or any concept of what is really healthy. They eat Yoplait yogurt and think it's healthy, while they are guzzling down 30 grams of sugar each serving. Do you know how many grams are in a teaspoon? It's 4. 30 grams is 7.5 teaspoons of sugar. Think about that before you have a yogurt for breakfast and think you are eating "healthy".

Also, It drives me crazy to walk by the gym and watch someone on a treadmill or stationary bike or cross trainer with a "US Weekly" magazine and doing some kind of easy going "la la la la" workout thinking they are just burning away the calories from yesterday's dinner of salad, chicken and 1/2 cup of ranch dressing (*on the side!).

You want to lose weight, it's the EASIEST THING ON THE PLANET TO DO. You don't need special diets. You don't need Weight Watchers. You don't need Nutrisystem. You don't need shakes. You don't need Atkins or Paleo. No special pills. No exotic drugs or fruits that are claiming to be a "breakthrough of science". If you use steroids or HGH, you are a fucking loser and you know it (especially if you are a trainer).

You need to do two things:

1. Eat healthy. Real foods - meat, vegetables, fruit (keeping sugars here in check). No refined sugar. No breads. No pasta. Trust me, you can live without them.
2. Exercise. I don't care if it's Crossfit, or whatever, you need whatever gets your heart beating and you are breaking a sweat. You need to do this more than 3 times a week. At least 4 if not more. You don't need to do it more than 30 minutes. Even if you are out there, jogging, for 20 minutes which breaks a sweat that is a million times better than on a stationary bike for 1 hour pedaling at 2 mph.

That's it. Not that hard. Am I God's gift to exercise? Nope. I'm like anyone else. I'm weak. I said this earlier. But we all know what we need to do, right? I'm trying to do something different and see if I get results.

So what's stopping you?

Week 1 down, Week 2 Begins!

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What has surprised me most after a week of eating Paleo, is how my food cravings have been fairly low. I fully expected to be "dying" for cookies or candy or cupcakes by now, and really it's been a non-issue. Also I have found this diet to be fairly easy, thanks to Robb Wolf's book The Paleo Solution.

It already has a 30 day mealplan in the book. So I have been following it nearly to the letter. I haven't had any refined sugar. No wheat. No grains. No rice. No dairy.

So far it has been smooth sailing.

My Crossfit workouts haven't dramatically changed. I still get gassed real fast like I used to. I am hoping that after a week on real food that I see faster gains. I went to class five times last week, and plan to go five times this week, whereas in the past I usually went 3-4 times a week to Crossfit.

What has surprised me is how I tell people what i'm doing and the (mostly) negative reactions to it. You try to explain to people the plan and there's a tremendous amount of resistance. No bread? Not even wheat? No cheese??

Listening to people fret over the idea of not being able to eat their favorite foods anymore sort of reminded me when I quit smoking cigarettes. I remember when I quit smoking, how "drinking wouldn't be the same", "watching football wouldn't be the same", "a cigarette after a meal wouldn't be the same".

But once I quit, you got used to it.

Whatever the same pleasure receptors we have in our head for cigarettes must be tied to food. No doubt. That's why it's so hard to "diet". Plus if you look at most everything out there - there is sugar in everything. Or salt. The goal of the food industry is to pack sugar and salt and spike food like Marlboro spiked nicotine into cigarettes. It makes it really hard to quit, doesn't it?

I weighed myself yesterday. Started at 221 last week. I'm down to 218. 3 pounds in a week. Usually that's water weight. I don't have a goal for my weight, to be honest. I mean people put far too much stock into their weight. I'm just concerned about my mid-section, around my hips, stomach which seemed to retain the majority of my weight. Plus, I have zero interest in just losing weight if it involves losing muscle too. I took a 'before' picture with my camera (shirt off!) and will post that at the end of the 6 weeks.

My only issue with this diet is ONE thing. No alcohol. It's not about drinking, but it is about being social. I had two events to attend last weekend, one on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I didn't attend either. It's not fun being the sober guy in a bar when everyone else is drinking. And I didn't want the temptation to "just have one".

Also, coming up with idea to do things with your friends that doesn't involve drinking is a bit of a challenge. Movies? Hang out and watch TV? I gotta start thinking about things I can do on the weekend besides hanging out with Rocco or this is going to be a looooong five more weeks.

Tasty Burgers & Salmon w/Pecans

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Day 1 is behind me and I learned two new things to make myself for dinner which were easy and delicious.

1. Salmon with pecans and rosemary.
Grab a filet of salmon, coat a baking pan with coconut oil, top the salmon with pecans, rosemary and some sea salt, cook at 350 for 12 minutes. Fan-tastic. I'm not a fishy-fish guy and normally do NOT eat salmon, but this was the bomb. Simple to make and fast!

2. Burgers
There are a billion burger recipies out there. I found one and it converted me from allrecipes.com Chris' Bay Burger:
1 pound ground beef, 1 tsp basil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper - cooked in olive oil on the stove (a grill would be perfect, of course) - left off the buns, just grabbed onion & tomato and wrapped it up in red leaf lettuce.

PC completed! Paleo Begins!

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My adventure in building a PC went fairly well. I ran into a few minor issues:

1. I bought everything to build the PC and forgot to buy a power supply. Oops! That set me back some $$ and a few days of waiting for it to be delivered.
2. I didn't buy a bracket for my SSD hard drive, and had to order that for delivery this week. A SSD hard drive is a Solid State Hard Drive, which is commonly used in notebook computers. Desktop users are buying them now, because they are faster than traditional hard drives. I put my Windows 7 operating system on the SSD drive, and my computer boots in about 15-20 seconds like a laptop. My old PC would be about double that speed. The SSD drive is basically wedged in my case at the moment, but it's no big deal.

Otherwise, building the PC was a lot easier than I expected. The only two difficult parts was attaching a heat sink to my processor, which wasn't hard, but nerve wracking applying thermal paste to my processor. The other difficult part was connecting up the wires in the case (LED lights, Boot button, Reset Button, Sound) to the connectors on the motherboard. I had barely any guidance aside from basic pictures included with the motherboard and i'm frankly shocked that my logical guesses were correct.

Otherwise, loading Windows 7 was extremely easy. Updating all my driver software was quick. I'm a guy who has been tinkering with PCs since 1986 and my memories are about how nightmarish it used to be. We definitely have come a long way since then. I don't know if i'd recommend this to anyone to try, you certainly need to have patience and a bit of computer/electronics know how. During lots of my build I have my iPad out and searching the web for answers or videos on "How to..." do something.

Aside from that, my Paleo journey begins today. I had all the food delivered on Sunday by FreshDirect. I woke up today, had a breakfast of 4 eggs, raw almonds and blue berries. Last night I cooked up chicken fajitas (chicken, onions, peppers, cumin, oregano, chili powder), and have a side salad of that ready today of lettuce & plum tomato. In my old diets it had me eating every 3 hours, which was a bit of work. I'm being told to just eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and if i'm struggling I can have a paleo snack at 3pm (I might have an apple or orange today at 3pm).

I'm cutting out all sugar, including any fake sugars like Splenda. I have done this before, and found that after a week without sugar, your tastebuds explode. Everything tastes better. I'm looking forward to that, because i'm already without my morning coffee and I can feel it. Ha ha.

I'll update here on my progress. Interesting enough is that my birthday is coming up on Feb 12, and my family and I plan to go out on Feb 11th or Feb 18th to celebrate. That will be Day 33 / Day 40 out of 45 of the 'diet'. Long way to go, but I wanted to stick to this at 100%, but I guess I can have a cheat meal by then...

Paleo Challenge: Accepted!

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I joined Crossfit last year, and I found the gym revolutionary. I have tried to convince my friends and family about it, and most people aren't interested. Each have their own reasons, or routines and don't want to rock their proverbial boat they are in.

I, on the other hand, constantly like to try new things & explore new ways of doing things.

My gains at Crossfit have been...OK. I tried to stick to my "Old Diet" while at Crossfit, but was doing it Monday thru Friday 100% clean, but then Saturday & Sunday taking "breaks". It worked, but I found my energy and gains at Crossfit were less than optimal to what I was expecting. I still can barely do pullups, it's my weakest exercise. I got better at other areas, like box jumps. But still felt like I wasn't getting stronger like I should be.

Often, I kept hearing from the Crossfitters about doing the "Paleo Diet". For a long time I just kept thinking "I know how to eat clean. 5 meals a day. Protein/Complex Carbs/Veg, no sugars, dairy, breads, pasta..." I didn't want to change.

But I kept reading about others doing the Paleo Diet and having remarkable results while doing Crossfit. I was intrigued. Curious. I'm not a big fan of "fad diets". I am more of a fan of being smart about what you eat. Limiting my bad food intake. Staying away from sweets and sugars.

The problem? It's not really working well enough.

I decided that it's a new year, a new diet, and going to eat, starting on Monday 100% Paleo for 7 days a week.

What is the Paleo Diet? You can read more about it here. In the most basic description, you just want to eat food that we, as humans, were meant to eat before the development of agriculture. We should eat Woolly mammoth and Sabretooth Tiger steak? Well, no - pro-Paleo advocates claim that genetically our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of the Paleolithic era some 20,000 years ago - and have not adapted to agrarian diets. We see plenty of people we know who are lactose tolerant, gluten allergies, peanut allergies or other autoimmune issues.

Here's what the diet basically details:

1. You can eat foods that can be hunted and fished, such as meat (steak, chicken, lamb, pork) and seafood (fish, shellfish, etc), and can be gathered, such as vegetables (including mushrooms), fruits, eggs, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. All foods may be cooked, without restrictions.
2. Foods excluded from the diet, mainly grains, legumes (e.g. beans and peanuts), dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils, although some advocates consider the use of oils with low omega-6/omega-3 ratios, such as olive oil and canola oil, to be healthy and advisable.
3. You are advised to drink mainly water, and some advocates recommend tea as a healthy drink, but alcoholic and fermented beverages are restricted from the diet.

So it appears that not only will I be on the diet for 45 days, but also on the wagon for 45 days. This will be...interesting. Anyone want to take odds on how long I last? I give myself about 21 days before I snap. But, with the Crossfit Challenge there is a $100 buy in. If I can stay on the diet for all 45 days, I will get $50 back. If I win the challenge, I win everything in the pot - more info on the Crossfit Hoboken website.

Suffice to say, I may be staying away from bars for the next 45 days. Sorry in advance if I am lame.

I have put in my order with FreshDirect yesterday, and using a diet plan from Robb Wolf's "The Paleo Solution".

I certainly will keep you updated here on my progress.

I'm Building A PC

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For years i'd usually upgrade my PC to the 'latest and greatest' PC every three years or so. I was one of the first people to have an Alienware (before Dell bought them), then I bought an Dell XPS, and in my latest search, I decided to go a different route.

I was comparing various PCs at Ibuypower.com and similar "gaming PC" sites. The drive to get a new PC was the result of various different reasons:

1. I wanted to play the latest games like Skyrim, Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic on a PC that wasn't behind on the times.
2. I now have the option to "work from home", where I can tunnel into my office network and access everything from my home PC. It works great, but at home I only have one 23" monitor, whereas at work I have four 19" monitors on my desk (yes, we need it). I wanted to get a new video card for my PC that could support multiple monitors.
3. I wanted to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, but in order to do so - I have to basically delete my entire hard drive and start over. That means I have to move all my critical documents and pictures around and hope I don't forget about anything.
4. I also wanted to be able to watch MLB.com baseball on my PC while I surfed the web or played PC games. During summer, I get the MLB.com package so I can watch baseball, which is excellent, but that's the only thing I can do on my PC, unless I ran it in a small window. Getting a new PC with more than one video port on the video card would allow me to do this.

Money has been really tight lately, thanks to our economy and the fact that I have hungry, hungry hippo Rocco which takes a bite out of my paycheck from his Vet visits, food and "doggie daycare". I was once paying $300 a month on dog walks & doggie daycare alone for him!

When I talked (online) to some friends about getting a new PC, many of them suggested that instead of buying a new PC, I should build one. I work in an industry in which i'm around computer hardware all day - part of me didn't want to have to 'deal' with trying to build a PC. Building a PC is more than just slapping cables together and creating a finished product. It was a bit time consuming, and there was a lot of room for failure there.

But, part of me wanted to try it. It was a bit of a challenge, and this is something I should learn to do. Also when you buy a PC from Dell or other manufacturers you don't really get the 'high end' components. For example, you may get a PC with a Intel i5 or i7 chip, but sometimes there can be large differences in the processor speed, cores and chipset if you aren't careful. Plus the motherboard or RAM could be low grade or the video card is from a so-so manufacturer.

Building your own PC you get to save the overhead costs of someone building a PC for you, choose your own components, and search the web for the best prices. I was pretty fortunate, most of what I found was on Amazon.com. I did search Newegg.com, which I love, but because I live in NJ they slap on a NJ sales tax because their shipping site is from Edison, NJ!! Plus I have to pay for shipping with Newegg.com, but with Amazon everything was free because I have Amazon Prime.

Here's what I bought, using Tom's Hardware as a guide:


  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K: 3.4-3.8 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache

  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX560 Ti 448 (2x for SLI)

  • Hard Drive 1: Crucial M4 128GB SSD

  • Hard Drive 2: Western Digital 1 TB SATA III 7200 RPM Hard Drive

  • Motherboard: MSI Z68A-GD55 (B3)

  • RAM: Corsair Memory DDR3 1600 MHz (4x4GB)

  • Tower: Cooler Master HAF ATX

  • DVD: Lite-On iHAS124-04 (Blu Ray is often used here, but I have a Blu Ray DVD player)

  • Heat Sink: Xigmatek Gaia SD1283.

Dangers of building your own PC are fairly fundamental - it it fails, you are screwed. If you have problems building it, you are on your own. This certainly will be an interesting challenge. But if you have any advice or suggestions, i'm all ears: Send me an email.

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What gets me riled up over the last few months is the joke many media companies have become. I'm not going to point out specifics, but here's my basic rules to media:

1. They want as many viewers as possible, and high ratings.
2. In order to do this, they need as much sensationalism as possible.
3. Rather than report the news and offer value based commentary, they find the most absurd "fringe" Republican candidates to talk about, and find ANYTHING they can to poke holes in them.

This isn't new, but to me it seems like we have reached a new height to it. In a society where the Kardashians are lauded for doing nothing of value, so the same is true for our media. Rather than finding good and interesting stories to write about, they focus their attention on one candidate as the media darling, and write ad nauseum about them until they find someone new to write about. Here's my examples this year:

1. Donald Trump: Remember him? Up until May 2011 he was playing the media like a fiddle, with his "will he, won't he" run for President. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in March 2011 found Donald Trump leading among potential contenders for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, one point ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. In the end, he did a great job to promote himself and his media empire.

Take a note of these so-called "polls" because they are an interesting tactic of the media over the last year as their justification to cover these fringe Republicans.

2. Sarah Palin: No sooner than Darling Donald was over that the summer was all about Sarah. In November 2009, Palin released her memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, and had been busy in 2010 promoting it and making millions. What better way to keep that money train rolling but by claiming she was interested in being President? What a joke. But the media lapped it up, because it's like Jay Leno's bit he does on his show "Jay Walking" in which he interviews people on the street to test their IQ. Basically the media is doing the same thing with Sarah, they can't wait for her to say something stupid and it becomes the weekly sensation. She laughs all the way to the bank. Again, another candidate who plays up to the media while making millions in exposure.

3. Michelle Bachman: While the summer was all about Sarah, her star was fading and who lands on the scene thanks to a nice new poll? Well, it's Michelle Bachman, who on August 13, 2011, she won the Ames Straw Poll hosted by the Iowa GOP.

OH MY GOD! SHE'S SURGING IN THE POLLS!

Anyone else seeing this yet? Anyone else seeing the trend here?

4. Rick Perry: Bachman's surge was short lived when the Texas darling threw his 10 gallon hat into the ring in mid-August. The media machine loves it - Texas is a HUGE state, lots of ratings there! Plus they have a field day with Perry and his gaffes. It's like the Republican version of Joe Biden with his miscues. Nom nom nom, the media loves Perry for a few weeks until...

5. Herman Cain: In December 2010, Cain was the "surprise choice" for 2012 GOP nominee in a RedState.com reader poll. I could hear the media squealing over him like the Beatles just landed at JFK. He was a rockstar. 9-9-9 and debate showmanship made him the media darling of the fall. It was Cainmania! Was I the only Republican watching all this shaking his head - there wasn't the SNOWBALLEST CHANCE IN HELL this guy was getting elected but the media was dancing around throwing roses at the feet of this idiot. But you have to admit, he was a show man. He did a great job at not only talking about his 9-9-9 plan, but I bet sales have been through the roof at his Godfather Pizza chain which no one in the Northeast has ever heard of until Herman Cain showed up.

6. Newt! Newt! Newt Ginrich! Really? I am at a loss for words, but yes, Newt was the man of the moment for about two weeks in November, but he made far too much sense, was smart about what he said, and wasn't as far as interesting as Ron Paul.

7. Ron Paul: Herman had the best run out of all of them - and then the media was really only down to Romney (snore!), Perry (snore!), and...WAIT A MOMENT! Ron Paul is their ace in the hole! He's been flapping his arms and saying all sorts of crazy shit for the last year, why didn't we take a better look at him! If you ask me, I think Ron Paul makes a lot of sense on what he suggests with regard to reform, but what he lacks is what the Trumps and Cains of the world have - TV charisma. Ron Paul looks like that crazy science teacher you had in high school, not the next leader of the free world. Once Herman Cain was out, the media went bonkers for Ron Paul for about three weeks, until...

8. Rick Santorum! GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE. Seriously? Rick God-Damn-Santorum?? What the fuck. I'm sorry to my underage readers here, but holy shit. I'm ready to throw my TV out the window. The media reports, once again, lets all sing this phrase together "RICK IS SURGING IN THE POLLS!"

Do you see the trend here? How many straw polls, online polls, media darlings that has basically been the theme for 2011. It's almost like the media focused on one candidate for as long as they could and they swung their cameras and microphones to the next crazy Republican they could cover. The media has done a masterful job at basically ignoring Mitt Romney. Why?

Oh, he's next.

I fully expect that Mitt will win the Republican nomination. But remember folks what I said earlier. If the media spent 2011 talking about Mitt, then they would have no ratings. They would have nothing to write about when he gets the Republican nomination. It's a million times easier to grab headlines and fill sound bites with people like Palin, Perry and Paul with their half-assed ideas.

When Mitt gets the nomination it's going to be "All Mitt All The Time" until November.

The Iowa poll is upon us today and don't care who wins. Even if Santorum or Paul pulls off some crazy victory, the bottom line is that Romney is going to get the nomination. He's the only one that makes sense if you are the GOP. You want someone that's going to capture the conservatives and the liberals. I mean as much as the Christian Coalition may not like the fact they are voting for a MORMON, they would vote for Mitt before they would vote for Obama. The GOP knows this and that's why Mitt will get the nod.

You heard it here first.

P.S. I didn't forget about Huntsman, but the media never really got hyped on him - maybe they are waiting on his New Hampshire victory to pick him apart...?

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