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So, I wrote about going hardcore paleo since Jan 4, no cheats (as best as I can) and it's been a challenge. My starting weight was about 247. But this mostly wasn't about the scale, but more about feeling better and getting rid of the "fat jeans" was just a bonus.

I weighed myself yesterday - i'm at 232.6. About 15 pounds lost in 2 months. I had a few plateaus, which I found strange and a bit frustrating. I'm just going to write a few bullet points and thoughts after reaching 60 days.

  • My attitude about food now is one of ambivalence. Hunger isn't a ranging beast. When I get hungry it is a dull feeling of, "Oh, I should eat." rather than "HOLY SHIT I NEED FOOD, I'M STARVING!" I have had multiple weekend days where I made my "Uh-Mazing Breakfast" and didn't eat until the next day. I wasn't really hungry anymore.
  • I don't get tired as much after eating. The afternoon slumps last maybe 5-10 minutes after I eat now. But mostly that's gone.
  • I feel stronger at Crossfit. It's hard to describe, but eating clean simply makes me feel less weak. I'm amped up to do a workout. I can feel myself getting stronger every week, and it's only been 4 weeks since I returned. I still have a ways to go, but I like what i'm seeing.
  • I'm sleeping better. My biggest issue is staying strict and going to bed by 9:30 pm. I wake up at 5:45 am and i'm really trying to get in 8 hours of sleep. Last night...up until 1am. Just wasn't really tired. I feel fine at work, but I know that my muscles need those 8 hours to recover and repair.
  • My size 38 jeans are now loose on me. Not quite ready for size 36, but maybe by April, I will be there. No six pack. That's not really my goal, but I still have a bit of a tire around my waist that i'd like to see reduced.
  • My friend Claire and I have been motivating each other. She's been making incredible weight loss since she started in September. We have been sharing food advice and I think losing weight helps when you have a group or others to share results and ideas.
  • I don't miss alcohol. My only cheat was on my birthday last month. My next cheat is when I go to Barbados. I definitely think the biggest issue with weight loss is alcohol, which, essentially, is sugar.
  • I do miss bread, especially hard crusty bread and pizza. But like my hunger, its not a raging feeling of dying to eat bread but a wistful thought of, "Mmmm, i'd like to have that someday".
  • Having a NutriBullet has made eating paleo a hundred times easier. My biggest issue is getting fresh spinach every week. Monday-Friday I have the same smoothie every morning, along with 2 Fish Oil pills and 1 Vitamin C pill. I have found Vitamin C helps with soreness (for me). I also do 5000mg of Vitamin D 3 days a week (Mon-Wed-Fri) for bone strength.
  • Having Kettlebell Kitchen for lunch is the other reason why this is so easy. I pick up 3 meals on Monday night and 3 meals on Wednesday night. This covers my lunches for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and two dinners for the week (usually Tuesday night and Thursday night). I will often make my own dinner Wednesday night, and order a salad for dinner on Fridays. Saturday nights could be dinner out, or maybe I plan to make something more involved, like meatloaf or Pot Roast. Same might be true for Sunday night, I will make a meal that is good for 2 days, so I can eat it Sunday/Monday.
  • My target goal is around 220. Until then, I plan to keep doing strict paleo, with 1 cheat meal (with alcohol) a month. Honestly, it doesn't feel that difficult to maintain, my biggest issue is figuring out what meals to make on Saturday, Sunday/Monday and Wednesday nights. Nom Nom Paleo Crispy Chicken (it is in their cookbook) is often an easy go-to meal when I don't have a lot of time.

    Now for my "Uh-Mazing Breakfast". You can buy everything I write here on FreshDirect.

    Ingredients needed:

    1/2 pound of thick cut bacon
    3 eggs
    1 plum tomato
    1/8 onion
    1/3 red pepper
    1 medium sweet potato
    Coconut oil (you can sub in olive oil here)
    fruit of your choice - I often choose blackberries
    1/2 avocado
    1.3 ounces of Citterio Cubetti Pancetta (1/3 of the 4 oz package)
    Spices Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Basil, Oregano, Sea Salt, Cracked Black Pepper, Paprika, Chili Powder (alternatives: Aleppo Pepper and Herbes de Provence)

    1. Start your oven and pre-heat to 400 degrees. Often I take a shower or walk Rocco while this happens.
    2. Once at 400 degrees, line a baking pan with tin foil and line with thick cut bacon. Put into oven. Set timer to 18-20 minutes.
    3. Add coconut oil to a cast iron pan. Put on heat to 5/10.
    4. Slice 1 medium sweet potato with a mandolin slicer. If you don't have a mandolin slicer, just make thin slices.
    5. Throw sliced sweet potato into a bowl. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Penzey's Herbes de Provence. If you don't have that spice, just use Basil and Oregano. Mix.
    6. Throw the sweet potato into the cast iron pan. It should sizzle. Stir for a bit and cover with a lid, turn heat down to 4/10. You will have to take the lid off every 2 minutes, and flip the sweet potato slices. Very important or they can burn.
    7. Put another pan on heat at 5/10 with coconut oil.
    8. Chop onions and peppers. The size you want is about a handful of each. Also get 1 ounce of pancetta out. Throw all three into the hot pan. Stir occasionally.
    9. While that pan is sizzling, chop 1 plum tomato. After 4 minutes, then add to the pan with the onion/pepper/panchetta mix. Add salt and pepper. Stir. Your goal here is to let the tomatoes cook a bit, but don't overcook so that they get too soft. I guesstimate that takes about 2-3 minutes.
    10. Grab 3 eggs. Whisk in a bowl. Add to pan with onions/peppers/tomato/panchetta mix. I usually put on one side of the pan the veggie/bacon mix and add the eggs to the other side of the pan. Let it cook for 1 minute, then stir gently. Let cook a bit. Stir again. Total time here is about 3 minutes.
    11. By this time, the timer from the bacon should be going off. Flip the bacon once. Reset timer to 5 minutes.
    12. Keep track off the egg pan & sweet potato hash pan. While you do that, slice 1/2 avocado. I often make a cup of coffee around this time.

    Boom. That's it. Put the eggs & the sweet potato on a dish. Throw on the paprika & chili powder or Aleppo Pepper if you have that instead. Add the sliced avocado. Put the bacon on a dish. Put the fruit in a bowl. Enjoy. I eat it every Saturday and Sunday. Keeps me full all afternoon, and often skip lunch and just have dinner.

Paleo Part 2 - Week Two

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Last year my first foray into paleo was new and scary territory with lots of questions and planning.

This year it's been pretty easy. I kind of already know what I like to eat. My routine is mostly like this:

Breakfast: Black coffee, Bacon, 3 eggs, fruit cup.

Lunch: Rotisserie Chicken or chicken salad, or leftovers from last night.

Dinner: Some kind of Paleo dish from my cookbooks or internet.

Last night is a good example of "some kind of Paleo dish". I wanted meatballs. I looked around at a few recipes from different paleo sites. I also compared my Nanny's Meatball recipe which uses ground veal. So I bought ground veal from FreshDirect, and then modified a few things like taking out sugar and adding in chopped garlic & onion, red pepper flakes, chili powder and 1/4 cup of almond flour. Funny thing is - they turned out good! I wouldn't call it "great", I want to try some things differently next time like mincing the onion versus chopping it. Also I want to fry the meatballs instead of baking them like I did last night.

Most of my meals have been homemade, but a few easy ways to order locally and apply it to Paleo Diet:

  1. Order 6 tacos from the Taco Truck - strip off the shell and eat the meat filling with a veggie side.
  2. Order "salad" from Chipolte, order double meat, sauteed onion & peppers with fresh avocado - put some salsa on there and enjoy.
  3. La Isla does a great roasted chicken breast, which is only $5 and great when you are in a jam for something to eat.

Haven't cheated except for one breakfast in which I ordered a Western Omelette and it had cheese in it - this falls under the "don't sweat the small stuff" mantra to the diet. I'm being strict but allowing for things like a packet of ketchup or A1 sauce. OH NO! THEY HAVE SUGAR IN IT. Yeah, yeah. I'm not drinking a pint of ketchup. The salsa at Chipolte could have sugar in it, but it was one meal out of 30.

I feel pretty good. Down about 5 pounds, but that falls under the "water weight" that everyone loses in the first week. I did Crossfit Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Felt stronger and my recovery a billion times better. I'm sharper - I can feel sharper. I'm still a bit tired, but that is because I haven't been sleeping enough hours - getting to bed late because i'm being dumb.

Interesting side note about sleep. Lately I have changed my approach to my bedroom. I used to play video games in there or surf the 'net. Since Paleo I tried to cut that down, with surfing the net with my iPad and playing games only occasionally. When its time for bed, I go immediately to bed - no TV, no computer, no reading. Bedroom is for sleeping. As soon as I get into bed, lights off and sleepy time.

You know what? That fucking works like a charm. I was definitely someone who had issues falling asleep because i'm thinking or whatever - just making the bedroom the place where you sleep...helps. So, my suggestion is get rid of the TV in the bedroom if you have one (I do not have one).

It's the final week of my paleo diet and here's my final thoughts (which may be a rehash of old thoughts):

1. It's sort of like a "smart" Atkins diet. Basically it says "OK dummy, here's what makes you fat: sugars and carbs. Don't eat refined sugars and carbs. Eat everything else." So you can nit pick and question "IS THERE SUGAR IN KETCHUP?!", and count calories if you want. The bottom line is just avoid wheat, dairy, rice, beans/lentils and sugar and any product that is made with those ingredients. Eat meats, veggies and fruits to your hearts content. Don't worry so much about fat. Fat doesn't make you fat. Carbs and sugar makes you fat.

2. It's an easy diet if you plan. It's difficult if you don't plan and/or have food/leftovers in your fridge. There were a few nights where it got late, I didn't have food on hand and suddenly...I'M HUNGRY!!! I would get like Taco Truck tacos (without shells), add in a veggie or fruit, throw in a handful of nuts and - that's dinner.

Also along with the "planning" part is the time part. Most of my dinners took at least 20 minutes of prep (chopping, etc) and then time to cook, etc - and usually was a solid hour of 'dinner'. That really cuts into your time. By the time i'm home from CrossFit and showered it was 7pm. I have to walk Rocco, which is another 20 minutes. Then make & eat dinner, and I was done by 8:15 to 8:30. Then you have maybe 2 to 2 1/2 hours of whatever to do until bed.

3. I'm frankly amazed how everyone I met has zero willpower. You mention not eating dairy and I always get the same reaction, like I told the person they had to take cold showers for the rest of their lives. "Whhaaaattt? No dairy? No cheese? No yogurt!?"

Also on a related topic. Try not eating dairy for 30+ days and then eat something with milk, and watch your body's reaction. For me it was cramps and some quality "toilet time". A bit TMI, but really makes you wonder if we were meant to drink cow's milk.

4. Believe it or not the hardest part of the diet wasn't the alcohol restriction. I was fine. There were a few times where I would have liked a beer or a glass of wine, but for the most part, it wasn't hard to give up drinking. The only problem I did have with giving up drinking was my social life (and lack thereof) was basically zero. You ask your friends to do something that doesn't involve getting a drink and you hear crickets on the other end of the phone - or replies by text of: "That sounds like an option" and never hearing back from them again for a week.

What was hard was "missing food". Like missing that big cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Or pizza from Grimaldi's. Or getting a cupcake from Sweet.

5. I think it's sustainable, and do-able as a normal diet. I plan to continue it, but the big problem I can start to see is 'cheating'. I plan to resume drinking. I plan to have foods that have rice in them. I'd like to avoid wheat. I'd like to avoid sugar. But I guar-an-tee you I will be walking down the street with a box of cupcakes and run into someone who is going to be like, "OOOH! That's not on the DIET!"

Willpower is one thing, like I mentioned before, and that willpower is basically going to be focused on reducing the bad foods that I mentioned above. I hear from my friends all the time how they eat so well, and then watch how they check into Foursquare to places where I know they aren't ordering something healthy. Or I ask the same people "Keep a food log for ONE WEEK. Just one week. Write down EVERYTHING you eat or drink. Then you will immediately see why you can't lose weight."

I love the people who do eat 95% right but are out drinking 3-4 nights a week and claim "It's just wine! That's good for you!". It's good when you have one glass of wine, not a bottle of wine. Trust me, cutting out alcohol was probably the #1 reason why I was able to lose 2-3 pounds a week.

So, that's it. My 'final weight' was 211 pounds from 222. 11 pounds in 6 weeks. Only had 1 true "cheat" meal which was my birthday on Feb 12th. Otherwise I stuck to the diet, and I do have some "before and after" pictures, but not sure if I want to put them up on the web. If you shoot me an email at philly2hoboken (at) gmail I will share them with my friends and answer any Paleo-centric questions you may have.

Week 6 on Paleo - Is Crossfit A Cult?

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So far so good. Things in the last week were a bit more 'routine' with my diet. I did a lot of the same meals, and wasn't as creative. Kept it to the basics. Steak, chicken, fish. With a vegggie or sweet potato side. But to my credit, been chugging along on the diet. My first and only "cheat" was last Saturday night. It was my birthday. I figured I was good for 33 days, and could afford the luxury of...ICE CREAM.

I went to Marea with my family. It was out of this world good. I have been to a lot of great restaurants over the year, but this one takes the cake.

I actually was pretty paleo friendly ordering the fixed price meal there and getting a fish appetizer (and nearly choking on a fish bone) and having the steak for dinner (normally I wouldn't order a steak at a seafood restaurant, but this sirloin was highly recommended - and best I have had in years!).

But didn't stay so paleo with my fusili with octopus and bone marrow.

And then brown sugar gelato covered in rum & espresso. Heavenly. It was

Once a year, it's a birthday. Gotta celebrate. It was quite enjoyable and felt like a nice reward for myself after sticking to the diet. My weight is down to 212 today. Jeans fit very loose and I need a new belt.

Not sure how my weight I need to lose now, really. Being around 210 would be my ideal weight. The Paleo Challenge ends on Feb 22, so I have about 8 more days of staying on the plan.

Crossfit is good. A friend of mine posted this article on my wall, "Inside the Cult of CrossFit". It was a reprint of another article from Men's Fitness back in October 2011.

It's 'somewhat' fair article but sensationalizes the Crossfit a bit. To me, Crossfit is kind of like joining a sport. You have a group of people who work out together to get stronger at what they are doing. If anyone played an organized sport they would recognize this. I was in crew in high school and I remember running up and down stairs until I was ready to throw up. I remember running track and my legs would be wobbly, you run until your lungs were burning.

Somehow...the author equates Crossfit to a cult. That's a bit absurd. It's no more a cult than your local high school football or basketball team is a cult.

I think people get so amped up about CrossFit because (like he wrote) it fun to be back in great shape. You want to spread the word, and say, "This works! Try it!" - so you try to tell your friends about it, and are enthusiastic about getting your friends to join.

Like anything else, you get what you put into it. And if you go overboard in any sport you can hurt yourself. So I listen to my body, record my workouts and the next time I try a workout see if I can do better. The whole "NO PAIN NO GAIN" thing that the writer tries to make the reader believe is bullshit (at least in my opinion). Certainly people push themselves, and people do get hurt, but I think that would be true in any sport - Crossfit is the sport of fitness. Every class is led by an instructor, who is often watching what you are doing and offering advice on how to do it better.

I think the big issue I have with anyone working out or if they are trying to lose weight is "overtraining". People go overboard with exercise in the desire to gain muscle or lose weight. That's the quickest way to hurt yourself. Crossfit is no exception, and the author's examples in his article about Crossfit are examples of people who have no idea what they are doing, and this could have happened to anyone playing any organize sport - or working out on their own.

Crossfit to some is a "fad". Most people who say that never tried it and simply don't know what they are talking about. I definitely encourage anyone to try the free class in Hoboken which is on Wednesday night or Saturday night.

Week 4 Update On Paleo

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The paleo diet started on January 9th and this is week four. My friend Matt emailed me, "Three weeks I guess.. how do you like Paleo?"

The Good:

1. It's much easier than I thought. I remember on my old diet it was very repetitive and after three weeks I was DYING for diversity in my meals. It's fairly easy to plan, since I started with a few paleo-centric cookbooks to plan out my meals.

2. I was already kind-of-sort-of doing a good diet Monday thru Friday before I started paleo. Brown rice, sweet potato, meat, vegetable etc was already part of my meal plan, but I probably cheated a lot more than I should have. With the Paleo Challenge from Crossfit, I paid $100, and will get $50 back if I complete the plan for 45 days. So there's a financial incentive to stick to it. Plus, if i'm chosen as the (male) winner I get what's in the pot. So far I have been adhering to the rules, and haven't cheated (as far as I know - zomg! that balsamic dressing had 1 milligram of sugar in it!!).

3. If you plan out your meals for the week it's easier. Where I would run into trouble is when I didn't plan my dinners out well enough and then be missing an ingredient (where's my coconut milk!?) and then be stuck. Fortunately, I kinda learned a few quick meals to make over the years which aren't that exciting but do the job. And, i'm always game for a steak and sweet potato dinner.

The Bad:

1. I don't feel "amazing". I thought maybe after a few weeks my energy levels would soar, and i'd be sleeping great. My sleep still sucks, but I think (not sure) my snoring must be reduced since I did lose 7 pounds and alcohol makes snoring worse. Rocco isn't complaining that i'm keeping him up.

2. Crossfit "gains" haven't nearly improved like I would have liked. I have gone to Crossfit since Jan 9 about five days a week, except for last week when I hurt my shoulder. I thought maybe i'd see (by now) some serious strength increases, but i'm still feeling weak in most classes, and still doing beginner weight levels. In our last "Fight Gone Bad" workout I scored a 170, and probably should have been around 200. I know these numbers probably don't mean anything to you, but they aren't good. The top end people are scoring 300+. It's still early on this, but now have to start re-thinking what i'm doing wrong here. I got the diet down, and been attending all the classes - I may need to hit my condo gym after class and just work on weights on my own. I'm definitely getting fitter, no doubt, but not sure if i'm getting 'stronger'.

3. I still miss pizza, sandwiches and alcohol. I would be lying if I said i'd do Paleo for the rest of my life. I don't have cravings for those things, it's more like a wistful remembrance of how good they were. I would (hope) that once the diet ends I can just do it during the week, and on the weekends try to "cheat less". Maybe try to keep two "meals" over the weekend where I can have a Fiore's roast beef or one meal is a personal pizza from Grimaldi's. Plus, making plans with friends where you cannot drink is nearly impossible (at least with my friends) - "Hey! Want to see a movie? Hello? Hello?"

That's about it. Bottom line is that the diet works, i'm halfway through it, but really will see where I am around day 45 before I give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.

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!


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?

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...

Baby Steps

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I couldn't find the Baby Steps video from What About Bob, but here's another great scene from an underrated movie:

Baby Steps.

Seems life is all about baby steps. If you didn't watch "What About Bob", it's about making small changes in your life towards an eventual goal.

One of those steps for me is my diet and working out.

I wrote previously about starting Crossfit, and now I have finished seven weeks, starting around the beginning of March. I first was going twice a week, it was all my body could handle. I recently upped to three times a week.

I'm still learning. Every class. It's hard. One of the things that I didn't like about lifting & working out was that we all get into a routine. I passed by an Equinox this morning and watched the people on the elliptical machines sweating it up, but they were like little robots. Same motion. Just swing the legs. Sweat the calories. Not getting stronger, and maybe losing weight if they do it for a long enough time.

I honestly believe that we, as a society, are lazy. We are lazy because we want it easy. Take a pill to lose weight. Do the "baby food diet" to lose weight. People cry about not being able to give up things or sacrifice. People get fixated on the word "DIET" when really eating should be about Baby Steps.

I love sweets. You name it, I love it. Cookies, cupcakes, chocolate covered pretzels and donuts are my weaknesses. Oh, not to mention pasta, pizza, bread and alcohol (beer and wine!).

Funny thing is -- I still eat them. I have no plans for a six pack. But, I do want to be healthier. So my attitude is pretty simple: Be healthy when you can. Cheat when you want.

My work diet is the same diet that I posted before. I start my day with a smoothie. 3 hours later I eat a fresh mixed fruit cup now (cantaloupe, melon, pineapple, blackberry, strawberry, grapes) instead of eggs & oatmeal. 3 hours after that I order from Qdoba rice, beans and chicken in a bowl. On workout days I eat another bowl of that 3 hours later and on non-workout days, I might 'cheat' and have guacamole & chips with it. For dinner, its sometimes healthy and sometimes not - and often I have one beer with my dinner.

Funny thing is, that if you broke down my diet, I really only eat one 'bad' meal a day, and certainly if I cut out that beer with dinner it would be that extra 150 calories I didn't need.

You know what? It's fine. To me, if 75% of my diet is good and I 'cheat' on 25%, I think i'm doing plenty better than the rest of the world - and i'm sane and not counting calories and panicked if I decide one day after work to go to Sweet Revenge after work and have a beer & a cupcake.

Since I started Crossfit, I have been feeling great. Probably the best of my life. I was brushing my teeth the other night, with my shirt off. I looked at my abs - and noticed my muscles. The last time I could actually see my abs was in NROTC at Villanova. Sure, I still have plenty of fat, and i'm a far, far, cry from a flat stomach. But it certainly make me laugh a bit to see progress after six weeks of Crossfit.

Baby steps. Baby steps.

Hey! It's A Top 5 Random Stuff!

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I didn't have any great, major "events" to write one post about, so this will be a few quick stories to chew the fat on...but each one is mildly interesting...

1. Beer: Pacifico is dead, all hail Leinenkugel! Yes, it's true. I was out with friends the other night, and we are at the Cigar Store in Hoboken. Great thing about the Cigar Store is that you can smoke in the store, bring your own beer or liquor, and watch TV on their flat screen TVs. So, the other Saturday night i'm there with Jason, Chris and Keith - and Keith whips out a 6 pack of Leinenkugel. Leinenkugel? I never heard of that beer before. I scoffed it off, and drank my Pacifico.

The next night, my buddy Matt is watching his son, and his wife had a night out on the town with her friends, so he invites me over. I figure, hey, why not grab a 6 pack of Leinenkugel, and we can watch some NBA games. Bottom line? Buy Leinenkugel. Buy it now. This beer was so popular that on Super Bowl Sunday I went to Hoboken Vine, my favorite beer store in Hoboken, to buy Leinenkugel - and they were sold out. FUCK.

2. Whud Up Wid Dat? My "Whud Up Wid Dat" moment was the next day after #1 I woke up pretty tired on Saturday, cigars and alcohol gave me a wicked hangover, so I took a tylenol (which I normally don't do) because I had a massage scheduled at Body Balance for 10am - I didn't want a massage while my head was pounding. I took Rocco for a walk and nearly got into a fight.
There was a guy who parked his delivery truck in our condo driveway, effectively cutting off the sidewalk because of the large snowdrifts and the angle of his truck. His truck was wedged in such a way that there was no getting around him, I would have had to pick up Rocco, walk into the street around the back of his truck, through a puddle of slush & water. This delivery guy was working for the new construction at the Jefferson Trust Bank, and from Day 1, this new construction has been a pain in our ass at the condo. The developer has been rude and inconsiderate of the tenants living on the block. His car, and the cars of others are double parked along the street every weekend. It was just another aggravating instance, and with my hangover, my fuse was short to begin with.

I look around, and see a few construction guys milling around the outside of the building and say "Who's truck is this?", they all shrug their shoulders. I can see through the tinted window of the truck that there's a driver sitting there. I yelled at the window: "MOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE". The driver rolled down the window, with an angry look on his face and snapped back: "Bro, who do YOU think you're talking to? F*ck you, bro."

Well, i'm not one to back down - so we had a good 1 minute "Fuck you, no FUCK YOU" fest. I 'm telling him he's on our easement and it's our private property and he's telling me he's on the sidewalk, not the driveway. He's refusing to moving and snarls, "Go fuck yourself, I would have moved if you asked me NICELY." Fuck that. He's a fucking delivery guy driving a van, and thinks that *I* need to ask him all nice to move his fucking van from blocking the entire sidewalk??

It was getting to a point where either a fistfight starts or I call the cops. The delivery guy simply refusing to move and me being stubborn about walking AROUND his truck, I just called the Hoboken cops to report the guy blocking our driveway. A minute after I hung up the phone, a police cruiser was driving by with his window down. "Officer!" I yell. The police cruiser stops. "I called the front desk about this truck blocking our sidewalk...", I began. The police officer says, "OK, you called the front desk? Someone will be down to help you..." and drives off without saying why he couldn't take two minutes to help me.

His sirens weren't on. He was just rolling down the street. Maybe he had another call to go on - but I didn't get that impression. I got the impression he didn't want to deal with it.
The next cruiser shows up about 5 minutes later, but the guy driving the truck left by then.

3. Gambling: Every year I do a Super Bowl box. A friend of Chris's does a Super Bowl box, and it's $300 a box. $30,000 in the kitty. Well, wouldn't you know that we pull GB 1 and Pitt 7. Not bad numbers. NOT BAD AT ALL. Turns out we hit in the 3rd quarter on Sunday night, and won a cool $2,000 each. Huge win for a $150 investment. Although, i'm sure after all the years gambling on Super Bowl boxes i'm only up $500.

4. Online Dating: I really have to write a new and improved Dissecting A Personal Ad, after reading all the online dating personal ads - seems like not much has changed. I haven't used the site for a date, i'm kind of curious about it, and figure what the hell, may as well look around. I was out at Mulligan's last Saturday night, and the age range of women was 22-26 years old. Sorry, a bit too old for that age range & I detest the Manhattan bar scene.

5. Crossfit & Diet: Crossfit starts Tuesday & Thursday nights. Got a lot of email about that, and will write up my experience on it in a few weeks. I have been good about my diet. I have been strict during my work-week, cooking up my protein the night before, baking sweet potatoes on Sunday and refrigerating them, and steaming my vegetables (broccolini or asparagus) while I get ready in the morning. I pack it all in a tupperware container, and bring it into work. So far, I have had a few "cheat" meals, but if I eat maybe 20 times a week, I'd say I had 3 times where I ate something off the diet. 15% isn't bad. I lost about 10 pounds, and i'm back in my old jeans again. I still have a bit more to go, and hoping with Crossfit that it accelerates the process.

Time For A Change?

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For the last few years I was a member at Club H gym. I originally started going to a gym because of a friend who talked me into it, and once I started to go, I liked the changes I saw in my body. I started to eat right, take vitamins and worry about calories. Yes, I did see steroid meat heads at Club H, but I wouldn't say I became like this guy...

But after a while, I got into a bit of a rut. I had a routine at the gym. I was good at it, I would see early gains, and then plateau. I would hit a limit to what I could lift and get frustrated. I didn't want to hire a trainer, and I tried various ways to get around my plateau, like taking two weeks off from lifting or switching from heavy weights / low reps to light weights / high reps. They kind of worked, but often I just fell back into my routine, which was, well, easier.

While working out i'd always be "10 pounds away from my target weight". I was in relative good shape, at least I thought I was, but not quite where I thought I should be. My goal wasn't (and still isn't) six pack abs, but just not losing my breath when I run up a flight of stairs & having my jeans fit well.

The last few years I blame the Phillies for messing up my routine. With their playoff run to the World Series, it would mess up my routine and often i'd start skipping gym visits in November & December. Then, like most people, I would "get serious" in January.

This year is no different than other years. My weight would creep up, and my strength would wane. A few months back I quit Club H, hoping to use my condo gym instead to save some extra money. The condo gym was good. But something was missing. Maybe it was motivation after a few years of lifting, but I found myself going home from work and just losing motivation to go down to the condo gym. The couch looked so much more appealing or Rocco would look at me with his "sad eyes" and I had to take the little guy for a walk. Or a million other excuses.

A few years back some guys from my Eagles Club would tell me about this little gym they had in town. It was called "Crossfit Hoboken" and they told me it wasn't like other gyms. Instead of focusing on power lifting or aerobics they have a Workout of the Day (WoD) which is a mix of plyometrics and strength training. The focus on good form, but also on timing themselves to increase their intensity. Everyone I spoke to who was in the gym didn't just 'like it' - they spoke about it with a lot of enthusiasm.

You see the other people at the gym. They are on the elliptical, reading "US Weekly" and going through the motions. Each week, they don't get any fitter, and barely seem to be breaking a sweat. In a way, I was the same guy. I lifted, but I didn't really push myself. Some people are naturals at this, and they can do it themselves. Other people cheat and take steroids. I'm not a natural motivator - I need someone to push me, and I won't ever take steroids - that's for losers.

So I take the first class on Saturday with Crossfit. It's a free beginners class. If I like it, I may sign up. I will write about how I like it next week and try to keep updating here about my experience with it.

Top 5 Tricks and Tips When Dieting

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I read this study the other day, and I don't claim to be an expert, but after starting my exercise routine for the last couple of years, I have learned a lot about dieting, exercise and weight loss.

I think the study is accurate to a point, but I want to add in my own observations about how exercise works, and what the gyms don't want you to know:

1. If you want to lose weight, diet is about 80% of the trick to losing weight.
2. No matter what the study says, you need to do some kind of exercise that involves upping your heart rate, and creating a sweat that lasts at least 30 minutes.
3. People want results fast - so they don't see a change, get discouraged in about a month and stop dieting.

Then many people are out a year membership with their local health club because they don't get how to lose weight. I have heard a thousand "reasons" from my friends about their weight loss and some utterly stupid diets. The problem with weight loss can be summed up easily:

We love food.

It's not shocking to say that. But when people are deprived of what they love, they feel bad. Maybe not crying that they cannot eat a cheeseburger, but after a month of eating salad for lunch every day, they miss their favorite foods. The brain is amazing at tricking us into eating. You are basically fighting emotion, and some people are simply better at this than other people.

What I would suggest are these tricks which have worked for me. I'm not here to lecture people, I'm not the peak of physical perfection. I'm still someone who struggles with staying on my diet and exercise. But these things have worked for me, and if you are someone looking to get into shape, this is what I would suggest:

1. Small changes add up. Drink water, not juice or diet soda. Instead of eating potato chips, try soy crisps or at the very least - pretzels. Substitute sweet potato into your diet. Avoid sauces, gravy or dressing - they have so many hidden calories and sugar. Avoid white bread, use wheat when you can. Order turkey burgers over regular burgers. Buy the book "Eat This! Not That!", which is a good guide to other small changes that really add up. I had a bagel the other day - a WHOLE WHEAT bagel. I had light cream cheese, which had less fat, and I didn't use very much. A bit here and there.

2. Cheating is OK, but that doesn't mean cheating everyday. My diet is 5 days "good" and 2 days "bad". There's going to be the unexpected days where you are supposed to be on a "good" day and you eat unhealthy - THAT IS OK. Just get back to being good. I drink 1 cup of coffee everyday. I use cream. I use sugar. I don't care. Have your coffee in the morning. Have a bagel with cream cheese. Order a cheeseburger on a Saturday afternoon WITH fries. The key word is: MODERATION. Friends of mine look at me and will quip about "OFF THE DIET, HUH?" when they see me eating junk food. No, i'm not eating bad when you add up how I eat during the whole week.

3. Eat like a caveman. When choosing foods to eat, don't reach into the frozen foods section and get a "Lean Cuisine". The majority of your meals should be food basics. Most of my dinners each night are chicken and asparagus, with a small bit of BBQ sauce on the side (about a tablespoon). I dip an edge of the chicken into the BBQ sauce, and that goes back to my "moderation" comment. People get dismayed about dieting with flavorless food. Don't kill yourself when dieting. Have a bit of sauce on the side, but don't SLATHER your food in sauces or gravy.

4. Do not starve yourself, it doesn't work. I have seen this a thousand times. People starve themselves, get miserable, and they are off the diet in a few weeks and back to their old weight. Everyone has these little diet solutions that they read in a magazine, and they never work. The key is just moderating diet & eating whole foods, not processed foods. Eating complex carbs will make you feel fuller, longer. Foods like brown rice or sweet potato are excellent choices as side dishes.

5. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.. If you need to pig out, eat more in the mornings. After 5pm, avoid carbs like the plague. My morning routine is coffee (milk and sugar!) with honey nut cheerios (more sugar! heaven forbid!). I tried switching out sugar for a substitute, but it goes back to Adelle Davis's saying - I figure that I can get away with it in the morning. I can cut it out completely, and go hardcore, but like I said before - if you need to cheat, and are dying to have a tasty treat, do it in moderation and do it in the mornings, not 8pm at night when you wolf down three slices of pizza with a couple of beers.

In closing, I would say don't get discouraged when you diet. Especially when you get derailed. I get derailed all the time, and what you do is just get back on track again and don't beat yourself up over it. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I love the changes I have seen from working out. There's always more I wish I could do, and a few pounds I wish I could lose. I'm very happy with my body, and have gotten to this point from many different lessons learned about how to trick your brain into getting the body that you want.

This, That, The Other Thing...

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Couple of things going on in my life. Thought i'd share.

Feet! Ever since I started the "diet" in January, I also have been doing a bit of running on a treadmill. One issue I ran into recently was that my left heel would get sore, and tingle a bit. This is the same leg where I broke my leg in 2005, and I was concerned that my running may be causing issues. My friend mentioned that he went to Foot & Ankle Care Associates on 108 Washington Street. I made an appointment, and they determined that I have a slightly higher arch than normal, which causes me to run on the outside of my foot, and caused Plantar Fasciitis, but no heel spur according to x-rays. Long story short is that they took a mold of my feet, and are making me orthotics which I will put in my running shoes. I'll update later on how that goes.

Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)! If you haven't been paying attention this is the hot new sport according to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. My friend Matt has been telling me about it since June, he bought one and uses it in Ocean City, NJ. Apparently, it's been the newest thing to start using on the Hudson River, and there's no rentals, but you can learn to ride one by taking a class with the NY Kayak Company or on Wednesday nights 6-8pm they offer a class for beginners who want to try SUP. I signed up for the 2 hour class and tried it last Saturday. I had a lot of fun, fell off the board about 20 times, I would do it again, but since I am 6'3.5 - I had a board that was 11'6" and had some major issues balancing on it because my center of gravity is so much higher than smaller people. Towards the end of the session, I got better and was using muscles in my legs that I never used before while running. Also note that when doing SUP I was wearing a life jacket the whole time.

Million dollar idea: Open up a SUP rental company in Hoboken and operate out of Weehawken or Hudson Cove. The laws of a SUP is that it is considered a vessel according to the US Coast Guard. Translation? You can take it anywhere on the Hudson River. Of course the last thing you want are people renting the SUP, going out into the Hudson and getting run over by boats. I would have to imagine that renters would be restricted to just the coves, and not allowed to enter the Hudson unless they have an instructor with them. The NY Kayak company doesn't rent SUPs. You can store your own SUP at their store (located at Pier 40) for the season for $800 and go anywhere you want. Again, I think in 4 years from now you will see an explosion of people doing this on the Hudson. It's a fun way to exercise, and get to explore the coastline of the Hudson River.

Also for those who think "Ewwwwww! The Hudson River is so nasty!" - you should do a bit more research. The Hudson River is actually much cleaner than you think. I'm not advocating going into the River and drinking the water, but I don't think it's any less safe than going into the ocean at any of the shore points.

Here's some mini-reviews:

Chicken Factory! I tried the Chicken Factory the other day. Don't let the name fool you, it should be called Korean Chicken Factory. I tried the Bulgoki (Korean BBQ Beef with Rice), and I liked it - but think the portions could be bigger. Definitely was hungry after eating it. I will try some of their other items on the menu.

Farside! If you haven't been to the Farside in a while, like me, you should really get over there and try their new revamped menu. I'm a bit of a foodie, and have to say it's easily one of the most underrated kitchens in Hoboken. This will sound dumb, but everything is good on the menu. One of the biggest criticisms I have in Hoboken is how "average" the bars are with their lame kitchens. If you live anywhere near Farside, I would highly recommend you go there and try their food. I'd be frankly shocked if anyone was disappointed, I loved the crabcake sandwich the other night and the 1/2 rack of ribs were delicious. Also try the garlic Parmesan French fries.

Taco Truck! I have been a long and true advocate of the Taco Truck, and now the store is open. It is fantastic, and if you haven't tried the Taco Truck store yet, I do actually pity you. I heard grumblings about how the portions are too small, and I can agree to that - they aren't giant Tacos. To me, it is a simple equasion of taste to price. For example, I said how at Chicken Factory I felt like the portions were too small - but it was good. Whereas, Taco Truck is also a bit small, but I think the food is just fantastic. I'll pay more money for great food. They told me the other day that two people came into the store and ordered the Seanito off the Secret Menu. I found that funny.

Clam Broth House: I wrote about my first impression a few weeks back and I have been back to the CBH since then. I have to say that i'm glad I went back. I tried a few other things on the menu - like the Margherita Pizza and Guinness Fish and Chips. Both were very good. Only issue I still have is that I have been back three times, and each time I sat at the bar - and yet it still took the bartender longer than five minutes to acknowledge that I was at the bar. I don't expect a bartender to come running over immediately, but I worked in the industry - and it almost becomes a joke when I look at my friend like "Do we have to raise our hand to get noticed?" It's too bad because I know one of the bartenders there and she's fantastic, and even she was busy chatting with some customers while I sat there with a girl friend and wondered if she would come over to us. I finally had to shout her name in order to get her attention, and this is at a bar with maybe 12 people sitting down. Oh well.

Lucky's! I am so looking forward to this opening. Why? Two reasons. One - Five Guys Burger and Fries doesn't deliver (for free). Two - I have a co worker who lives in NYC and raves about this place. Says that it is different than FGBF, but very good. The sign says they are opening Summer 2010 - I don't think that is happening. But mark my words, I guarantee you that when this place opens, that FGBF will "suddenly" deliver for free, instead of the bullshit $3 delivery charge.

Joey's BBQ! While i'm ranting a bit - I have to write about Joey's. I love the food, but can't stand it when I call there, with a good 45 minutes until they close and get told that "they are no longer accepting deliveries". This has happened about three times, and i'm tired of it. I'm someone who eats later at night, I just don't usually get hungry until about 8:30pm or later.

La Isla! When i'm not eating from the places I mentioned above, I try to "eat healthy" during the weekdays. When I do - I go to La Isla and order their chicken breast. It's the best deal in town. A rotisserie chicken breast for $3.50. I get it every night for dinner, pair it with broccoli, spinach or asparagus. Also I use a dash of Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce #7 on the side (probably about 1 tablespoon). I dip the chicken edge (sort of like how you would dip sushi into soy sauce) into the BBQ sauce, and it's soooo good. If you are watching your weight like I do - this is a great way to have a good meal and not kill yourself with too many calories.

I am usually very careful on weeknights to limit my carb intake - so that I can enjoy Joeys, Lucky's, CBH, Taco Truck, Farside or Chicken Factory on weekends! Remember people the key word is MODERATION! I don't order those during the week, only on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

It's easy to get dismayed when you first start dieting & going to the gym. It feels like nothing is changing, or your gains are not fast enough.

One problem was that my body was getting very sore, especially my back & legs. It got so bad that last week I couldn't do any cardio on Thursday or Friday. I made an appointment with Body Balance last Saturday. Normally most massages are just pleasurable. This was painful. I had so many tight muscles, along my obliques, hamstrings and legs that I had to tell the masseuse to use less pressure. But 24 hours later my pain was gone.

Going back to the gym this week, I took it a bit easier on the treadmill. I just did 20 minutes of interval running. My first week, I was doing 3.5 mph walks for 1 minute, and 5.5 jogs for 2 minutes. Week 2 I upped my speed to 6.0 for the runs. Week 3, I went to 6.5 mph for my runs.

It wasn't easy. Felt like my legs were bricks on the treadmill. My breathing and heart rate weren't too bad. Just felt like I had no energy in my legs.

This week, week 4, I just decided instead of doing both treadmill & elliptical & jumping rope, to skip the elliptical. My body was telling me it needed a break. So I also decided to run Monday, Tuesday, skip Wednesday and do Thursday and Friday.

For me, Thursday was the first big improvement.

I was on the treadmill, and started my run. I had my usual aches & pains (my back/hamstring and my shins have been very sore). But, I have been stretching, and trying new stretches. I get on the machine and I feel like I can run 20 miles. My legs are literally bouncing and I got that feeling like, "I AM STRONG AGAIN".

It was a great, great run. I did 6 intervals, 20 minutes, and even ran the last interval for 3 minutes. I know, the hardcore runners can scoff now, but for me this was huge improvement.

I have been dieting fairly consistent. The structure and rigidity of my job has made it easy to stick to my diet. Every morning I walk Rocco, get my food ready and i'm out the door. Since Jan 1, I have had a total of three alcoholic beverages. Two glasses of red wine and 1 bottle of beer.

As of today I was down nine pounds. My goal isn't just about "weight", but it's a good indicator about how things are going. I wanted to average three pounds a week, but also was tripped up by last week by my reduction of cardio.

I have two more weeks until my birthday. It would be nice if I can stay healthy and lose those last 5 pounds by then. We shall see.


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My routine was working. Shake, Eggs/Oatmeal, Chicken/Veggie, Chicken/Sweet Potato, Gym, Shake, Meat/Veggie dinner.

I felt my jeans sitting lighter on my hips and strength coming back when lifting. My jogging on the treadmill was getting easier.

Hello, Monkey, meet Wrench.

Last Friday I get a text message from a pal who wants to come over, hang out, have a few drinks. It's nothing special. Lately I haven't been going out to bars with my friends. Now, I just hang out at my place, watch a movie, TV or play Xbox. Lame, I know, but after 16 years of hitting bars...i'm just tired of "going out". A Friday night with a few friends, a few drinks and hanging at my house is much more pleasurable to me. Yes, it certainly crimps on trying to meet girls, but most of the girls I met in my life haven't been at bars...I met them through other friends.

Anyhoo...Friday rolls around and there's the issue of "do I drink or not". Since Jan 1 I didn't have one drop of alcohol. I kind of was "trying" to go as long as I could without drinking, preferably until my birthday.

I finally relented and had two glasses of wine that night while watching The Hangover. I kind of felt guilty, but my attitude was simple: I was giving myself a break.

And to me, that's the key. Diets are great, and no one ever stays on them forever. If I can go two weeks without a drop of alcohol, and have two glasses of wine when I do - that's fine. Lets go another two weeks before having more alcohol. Or three weeks. Or four.

That Friday I still had my routine of eating the right foods, hitting the gym and eating the right dinner. Just afterwards I had two glasses of red wine.

Part of my decision on having the wine involved the next day, Saturday.

I was going to Princeton to meet up with an old friend, Brad, and another neighborhood chum, Eric. We were going to watch "Avatar", and then hang out at Brad's house afterwards.

What should I do?

Bring my chicken & vegetable to Brad's house, so I can stick on my diet.

Or, just give myself a break? Again, I have been on the diet for two weeks, hitting the gym daily, and I know that the "right" thing to do would bring my food while meekly telling both of them that i'm on a diet and can't eat or drink "regular" food.

Or do I reward myself for a good two weeks and have a cheat day?

I had a cheat day. I enjoyed it. I went back on my diet the next day and been on it since.

One friend emailed me on Monday, "What happened to the Nazi diet?".

I explained the same thing to her. Justification? Rationalization? I guess so. Just gotta keep chugging along, and if I get derailed, just dust myself off and get back on track.

I mean if 1 day out of 15 days I "cheat", I have a strong feeling that in a few months I will be still doing pretty good. I think the problem with diets is that people get derailed, then get dismayed and just give up.

Right now i'm finishing off week three. I still would like a cookie from time to time. I figure that maybe I can see about rewarding myself at the end of the month with another cheat day. Or try to go three weeks until I cheat. Or four.

My Mom's Famous Iced Tea

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Ok, perhaps famous is a strong word, but amongst the children of Tanyard Farms, where I grew up, this was the "best iced tea....ever".

Remember dear readers, my mother's iced tea was invented in the days before we had about 10,000 choices of soda or iced tea at the local WaWa.

And even's still outstanding yet SIMPLE to make.

Trust me. You want to make something that will impress you wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbors or a cute French bulldog that people stop you on the street to get their picture taken with him...make this recipe.

Also I tried to alter it this weekend by substituting Splenda for sugar. It worked really well.

It's so easy. You need:

  • A one gallon plastic container
  • 15 TETLEY tea bags. Has to be TETLEY. Not Lipton or some designer brand tea.
  • 2 Lemons
  • 30 Splenda packets or 1.5 cups of sugar. This can be increased if you want it sweeter.

Her original recipe had 1.5 cups of sugar, but for today's day and age, I use Splenda because i'm trying to watch my calories. But if that doesn't matter...use sugar!

There is a slight trick to it, too. Here's how you make it:

Boil water so that it fills up the gallon plastic container to at least 85% full. Add the tea bags and let it steep overnight (about 12 hours) on a counter.

The next day, add the sugar (or Splenda) and stir. Then slice the lemons, and squeeze (or juice) into the container and stir again. Put it into the fridge and let it get nice and cold. Then serve.

As you can see, it is a bit of a process and not for the impatient. Often we get two containers and start another batch when the first one got low.

Try it! Let me know if you like it.


Diet, Schmiet!

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So far been chugging along on my diet. It's not really that exciting, but I figure that if you, too are playing at home, here's some things *I* do to make life easier for me.

First off, I shop at Fresh Direct. It's convenient, and easy. I already have a delivery set up for Sunday, which looks like this:

1 Canada Dry Original Seltzer (12oz cans 6pk): $2.19/ea $2.19 T
2 Volvic Natural Spring Water (.5 liter bottles 6pk) $5.69/ea $11.38 T

(Monday Lunch) Cajun Turkey Shish Kabobs (4 skewers per pack) $6.99/lb $8.39 *
(Dinner) Filet Mignon (1.5", USDA Choice, Hand-cut, Vacuum Pack) $19.99/lb $20.99 *
(Tuesday Lunch) Jerk Marinated Chicken Breast $6.99/lb $8.74 *
(Wednesday Lunch) Lamb Shish Kabob (4 skewers per pack) $10.99/lb $13.74 *
(Thursday Lunch) Mesquite Marinated Chicken Breast $6.99/lb $8.74 *
(Friday Lunch) Rosa Mexicano Guajillo Chili-Marinated Pork Chops $5.99/lb $8.09 *
(Dinner) T-Bone Steak (1.0", USDA Choice, Hand-cut, Standard) $6.99/lb $6.99 *

Organic & All-Natural
1 Organic Broccolette $1.99/ea $1.99

Vegetables & Herbs
2 Washed Spinach (Farm Fresh, 10oz bag) $2.50/ea $5.00 S

Estimated Subtotal: $96.24 *
Tax: $0.95

This is basically my grocery list of lunch & some dinners for the week. I have girl friends of mine who will look at this list, and the prices and scoff at the cost. I can almost hear them saying how they can find chicken breasts at Costco for $15 for 10 breasts and they can make the marinade themselves!

Yes, I know the prices aren't a bargain, but they are all ready-to-cook meals, and it makes my life much easier to just wake up, open the fridge, grab a bag and cook it up.

This would be a typical routine day:

Waking up I take a shaker, 1 and a half scoops of Isopure Chocolate, 10 ounces of water, 1 scoop of creatine and 1 scoop of glutamine with flax oil and shake it up for my breakfast.

After that, I will grab one of the meats and throw it on the grill (not the filet mignon or t-bone), and steam my asparagus (I buy it locally because Fresh Direct's asparagus is not as good). I throw the meat, sweet potato (I buy that locally too) and asparagus into Tupperware containers and head to work.

Quick tip: Cook all your sweet potato at home on Sunday. Bake them at 350 degrees in the oven for 1 hour. Let them cool down and throw into the fridge. They keep a week.

I head off to work, which has a basic kitchen with some things I can use, like reheating my lunch in a microwave. I set up alarms on my iPhone telling me when to order food, and get my eggs from a place about 4 blocks from my office. We have instant oatmeal in our kitchen, and I eat that those at 10am.

At 12:30 or so, I head to the kitchen put the meat & asparagus on a plate, reheat for 60 seconds and have that for my lunch.

At 4pm, I have the rest of the meat & sweet potato.

I get home from work, let Rocco out and take him for a walk. Go back upstairs, change, and let him roam free in the house while I go to the gym in my condo. Right now i'm testing Rocco to see how he does, on his own, in the house. So far it's been two weeks and he hasn't had any accidents or destroyed anything since I was at the gym.

After I get back, I make another protein shake and take a shower.

About 30 minutes later, I usually fix the filet mignon with spinach or T-bone with broccolini. Also for dinner I sometimes order sushi from Maru with brown rice.

It's been very easy to do this. Extremely easy. I have managed to avoid alcohol & sweets. My only sugar intake is from the marinades, and personally I think that's so minimal that I just don't care. I'm sure if I were die hard I would eat plain chicken or plain lamb, but i'd never stick to the diet.

This way I get a variety of taste with my meal, I know i'm getting a ton of protein and complex carbs.

I'm lifting Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesdays I do leg exercises. Each day I hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, and the elliptical for 20 minutes, then jumping rope afterwards.

I weighed myself today and I was 5 pounds less than when I started.

I'll write an update next Friday.

Ugh. Another year, another diet.

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Once I got my French Bulldog, Rocco, my whole world went into a tailspin.

See, i'm someone who enjoys a routine. I love it. I love the stability of my life. I enjoy eating at my same places. I do try something that's new, and if I like it, will go there a lot.

Example is Taco Truck. If you haven't tried Taco Truck in Hoboken. Oh. My. God. Beyond good to a point where I really wish more entrepreneurs would open places like this. I would go there weekly for their delicious tacos, and wonderful salsas.

Suffice to say, getting Rocco was like adopting a child. He's totally dependent upon me. My routine of coming home from work and going to Club H was out the window. My routine of eating set meals and power shakes was gone. Everything went haywire. The first month wasn't so bad. The second month, October, I figured i'd head back to the gym after the World Series. Then after that, I thought I should wait until after the holidays were over.

...and here we are 12 pounds heavier.

Not terribly bad when you think about it, and being 6'3 or so, i'm not exactly "heavyset". I did a diet last summer which slimmed me down in about 6 weeks and i'm back on it again. It's fairly simple, but also very strict.

The funny thing about diets is that we all try to come up with these Jenny Craig or Weight Watcher kind of diets which have a magic bullet theory of "do this diet and lose weight". I'm sure they work. But if you really want to lose weight, i'm no doctor, but I believe this works:

No sugar. No pasta. No dairy. No alcohol. No bread. Eat non-processed foods. Drink water. Protein with every meal. Keep your metabolism steady by eating six small meals everyday, rather than three big meals. If you don't exercise, you won't lose weight.

I also don't believe in those knuckleheads who make you think that eating 2,000 calories of crap is OK. Sure, if you go on the "Twinkie Diet", eating 13 Twinkies a day, that's 2,000 calories. You may even lose weight, but you will also lose muscle. Trust me there's no magic bullet when it comes to losing weight. Just eat right and hit the treadmill.

Oh. And here's an easy method to tell if you are exercising correctly. If you can read a magazine on an elliptical or treadmill, you aren't working out. I see these people at the gym all the time. They come in for weeks and weeks and pedal away on the elliptical, reading a magazine. La-dee-da. Nothing changes. This doesn't mean you have to hit a spin class and run for 1 hour. Not at all. But you have to move. You have to sweat a bit. And be smart about it, too. Your body adapts very quickly. If you sit on a treadmill for 1 hour running at 6.0 mph, your body will start to coast. It won't burn off the same calories if you keep adjusting your speed to keep tricking your body - or using multiple machines to hit different muscle groups.

Anyhow, with that rant over, here's my diet. Also note that you need to adjust the measurements for weight. My target weight is 210....but i'm 6'3.

Meal 1: (when you wake up): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate (I use IsoPure Chocolate), 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 2: (3 hours later): 4 egg whites + 1 egg scrambled. If you want an omlete, you can add veggies here - no cheese. Also eat 1/3 cup of plain oatmeal, you can add spices like cinnamon or 1/2 packet of Splenda.

Meal 3: (3 hours later): 7 Oz Steak (Sirloin or top round) or 7 oz Chicken or Turkey or Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper) with 6 oz red potato or 6 oz sweet potato (basically 1/2 a potato, baked).

Meal 4: (3 hours later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach) or 1/3 cup of brown rice.

***This is when I go to the gym***

Meal 5: (post gym-shake): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate, 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 6: (1 hour later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach).

Cardio - Do 30-40 minutes a day and 5 times a week. Keep your heart rate above 140 for 90% of the time (140 is 140, not 180! You want to burn fat!). Cardio can be treadmill, stationary bike, stairmaster or elliptical. To alleviate boredom, you can do 10 minutes of treadmill, stairmaster and elliptical and take a 1 min break between machines. Just keep the heart rate up!! You gotta sweat! As you get stronger, you can increase time, but don't kill yourself in week 1. 30 minutes is FINE.

Right now I have been hitting my condo gym and getting back into things with light lifting and cardio. Fortunately, Rocco is at a point where I can get home from work, walk him, and leave him alone out of his crate for an hour and he won't destroy anything. Also, to me, it is just me training him to get ready for the day (in 6 months or so) when I won't have to crate him anymore and just give him the run of the condo when i'm out.

Hopefully in a few weeks i'll get back into a semblance of a shape (round is a shape), and then back to Club H. Also part of me wants to try CrossFit Hoboken. I know a few people from the Eagles club, and it's something that I think I will like. Only problem is that I hate doing something where i'm "the new guy". Like I said, I like my routines and favorite bars because I feel comfortable in places where I feel like i'm the regular. I guess I gotta get over that someday.

Anyhow, with my diet, I started it on January 4th. My game plan is to stick to it until my birthday (Feb 12) which would be 5 weeks. Feb 12th weekend i'm allowing myself a "cheat day(s)" for alcohol and food. We will see how my strength/weight are by then and adjust the diet accordingly.

I'm not planning to stick to this diet for the rest of my life. Just a diet to get things under control, then back to my routine of gym & eating things like sugar, dairy, bread, pasta - in MODERATION. It always worked for me, because when I was going to the gym 5 days a week, I was easily burning off my empty calories.

Plus, this weekend I was taking Rocco out for L-O-N-G walks. We went for a big walk along the waterfront, up to Maxwell Place, then hit the dog park there for about 30 minutes, walked back down Hudson street and hit up Energy Kitchen for my morning egg whites and Oatmeal.

Oh, if you didn't know - all of January - everything on the breakfast menu at Energy Kitchen was $3. If you haven't tried it, I recommend the 5 egg whites on a plate and their oatmeal with cinnamon. It's fantastic and only $6!

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