Friday, July 20, 2012

Hunger. Also, human contact is good for you (whodathunk?)

I'm eating this right. now.  And it is delicious.  Stir-fried chopped squash, chicken hearts and ground beef in a hell of a lot of butter, with a little salt and more than a little coconut sprinkled on top.

Last night I got really hungry.  This isn't a very common occurrence.  It's not that I intentionally try to eat ahead of hunger with lots of small meals - tried it for a long time and it just doesn't work But the stuff I do eat, which is more and more based on medium volumes of meat and veggies, with that order of importance, in a large volume of fat, just keeps me so incredibly satiated that I almost never feel really honest-to-god(s) stomach-grumbling hungry any more.  Yesterday was a fluke because I'd woken up lateish and run to work with no breakfast, then worked through the day on two cups of creamy coffee and one (ONE!) piece of bacon. hunger until around 6pm.  None.  I also didn't feel totally up to scratch, but I can remember feeling meh before I ate like this, and always being hungry throughout illnesses, even though I always secretly hoped I'd be non-seriously sick for a few weeks and totally lose my appetite so I could finally get rid of my gut.  Nope...never happened.

Right now, though, the obvious extreme efficiency of what I'm eating makes me think about trying intermittent fasting again, reason being that although it's relatively easy to maintain my figure and abilities eating like this, I'd like to start getting noticeably better at badassery again, part of which includes (for me) lowering my body fat just a bit.  My first bout with IF, as I've mentioned before, got me kind of wacko as far as specifically planning what to eat when, and skipping or rescheduling other things so I could eat on time.  Disordered eating is disordered eating, whether it's how much or how you think about it.  But now I think I could be a little more successful at it - I know I can go a very long time without suffering ill effects from not eating, so I can worry a little less about scheduling and just eat more when I have the time.  More on that one later.

So this morning I finally got to hang out with my lovely friend Amy, for whom I was a mother's helper last year, and her adorable little monster Jojo, who is now literally twice the size he was when I first met him at 3 months.  It's cray, as the kids are wont to say these days.  We had a great time just sitting at the table over coffee and alternately talking about our lives and cooing at Jojo trying to ride his horse on wheels (which is a CAR, as anything with wheels is a CAR, even those rolly desk chairs) but not realizing that he can scoot it with his feet, so he just straddles it and then stands up and walks around with it.  Her neighbor stopped by too, unfortunately because she had locked herself out of her house, but it still turned into a fun girl-talk-and-coffee time.  I have missed that SO much.  There's a big disconnect in American society - people live so close together, but just stopping by to chat and have a cuppa is absolutely unheard of.  In my own life, I make myself so busy with work and school and Man that I feel like I've run out of room for more human connections once I actually get some time to myself, so I generally spend it running around in the woods, alone.  And that can be a wonderful thing, but I've starved myself of the other kind of connection to nature - plants are all well and great, but when it comes down to it, humans need other humans.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

16Jul, 17Jul and 18Jul, plus oh yay it's RHABDO.

Monday's breakfast:

Kefir with egg yolks, coffee with milk, the whites of the eggs cooked in butter and lard, a handful of sauerkraut frizzled up (mostly to soak up the fat in the pan).

It was a fairly restful day - I had a lot of stuff to take care of, so I took the day off from the lab and got nearly everything done.  In the evening after he got off work, The Man and I took a trip down to the Eno and strolled around in the woods for a good long while.  Any Durhamites who haven't been there yet...really?  Just go already.

Yesterday's breakfast:

Kefir (this is actually made partly with colostrum, or "first milk."  It's what comes out when the cow's milked for a few days following the calf's birth, and it's super high in protein and fat and all kinds of immunoboosters.  People worried about the calf: there is a LOT.  this cow is used to getting milked, so if she didn't, her udder would be like a fricking balloon, she'd probably get mastitis and it would likely be too painful for her to feed her own baby), coffee with milk, ground beef and sauerkraut (the beef is under the sauerkraut so it can soak up all the delicious juices, and also because it's raw (yes really) and I figured people would be grossed out) with brown butter poured over.

Today's breakfast:

Kefir is still fermenting!  I guess this is a good thing because it means my apartment isn't at a steady 80 degrees anymore.  I love that stuff so freaking much, though!  Probably should start making a couple batches at a time.  But anyways, without the kefir, this looks pretty much like the average breakfast, right?  Coffee and a bowl full of something that looks kind of mealy.  Except in my case there's not so much cereal with fruit and a little more diced squash and chicken hearts sauteed in butter and lard, with dried coconut sprinkled on top.

...I'm beginning to think I'm weird.  It's ok, though.  It's the good kind.  (and the coconut?  made. the. meal.  wow)

So yeah, rhabdo.  Last time I was at CFD, we did this thing involving power cleans (65# for me) and pull-ups (ring rows for me) - 10 of each, then 9 of each, then 8, etc etc.  It was awesome.  I liked the setup a lot - it's 55 reps of each move total, but the way it's split up makes it seem like it's going by much faster.  I tried to strike a balance between going heavy-ish and actually completing the whole thing.  I could have done band pull-ups, but it seems like my shoulder is stronger than it is stable, for some positions - there's more of a danger of hurting it if I go faster.  Obvs.  Anyways, I need my damn pull-up bar!  But moving on...

I did the whole thing.  Took me 15:04, and I was the slowest by about 10 seconds behind the second-slowest.  It wasn't terrible, but I figured my arms would be pretty smoked the next day.  That night, I took an ice bath - my normal regime is 10 minutes up to my waist, 5 minutes up to my neck with arms out and 5 minutes with arms in.  This time the cold tap water was warm enough so I didn't get numbed like I usually do (damn you, record-breaking North Carolina summer!), so it was considerably more of a hassle to stay in.  So I kind of skipped the part where I put my arms in.

And maybe I also didn't drink enough water.  Like, say, any.

And then suddenly on Friday afternoon, my arms were so swollen that my elbows were completely obscured and I couldn't straighten them past a 90-degree angle.  I was also nauseous and totally brain-fogged, and absolutely convinced that it was some kind of crazy allergic reaction to the scone and cream puff from Guglhupf I'd had that morning as a treat, after eating pretty damn clean for the past two months.  Except for the Walker shortbread cookies.

I didn't think it's was anything super serious or that wouldn't go away relatively soon, so I just muscled through it (er, so to speak), trying to eat very clean but still not figuring out the part where I SHOULD DRINK SOME FREAKING WATER.  This continued all through the loooong work weekend.

So then Monday I messaged Dave that I'd be by CFD probably the next day, since I had this omg crazy arm thing going on!  but I'm icing it like a mofo and I'm sure it'll be totes fine by tomorrow!  k cya!  And then he wrote back "ummm, Nelly...that sounds a lot like rhabdo."  And I was like WHAT.

So we talked about pee for a while and I looked up some other symptoms of rhabdo, and yeah...probably got it.  Here are all the symptoms I had, plus the ones I'd been told to look out for but didn't see:

  • Your pee looks like Coke.  I didn't have this one, and it was still pretty bad.  This is NOT the only indicator.
  • You have crazy soreness and cramping.  Like, way way more than normal.  Not just in the stomach, either, which is what I'd been told.  My arm muscles literally felt like they were about to rip when I tried to straighten my arms.  And I come from a long line of English majors, so I know what "literally" means!
  • You are swollen up like a balloon.  When I say I couldn't see my elbows, I mean they were totally obscured by the swelling - I couldn't even feel my elbow bone.  Even now, the better part of a week later, they're significantly larger than normal.  Also, my muscles felt like they wouldn't stop flexing - they were rock-hard all the time, which for other things can occasionally be a good thing, but here was not so enjoyable.
  • "Brain fog," i.e. UTTER CONFUSION.  I knew I was out of it when one of the cooks said something to me about pretzels, and after I actually understood her words the third time she said them (not a normal event), I was like "oh no, John's making the pretzels today."  And then she looked at me weird and said "no, I mean give me one."  And we laughed merrily together, but inside I was like "wtf??  damn gluten..."  Seriously, though, I was in a total haze and honestly probably shouldn't even have driven the mile and a half back to my house.
  • Nausea and general feeling shitty.  BLARG.  It's never, EVER been so easy for me to turn down all the delicious Mexican food the cooks make for each other.  I entertained the thought for a second, but my stomach started gurgling even at that.
That's everything I noticed.  Don't be stupid like me, kids.  Drink your damn water.  I'd fallen out of the habit when I stopped going to CFD* on a regular basis, but now I've got my liter bottle in my hand and I'm chugging like a sixth-year senior frat boy trying to fill the emptiness inside.


*I will probably be there at 6 or 7 tonight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10Jul12 plus first (real) day back at CFD!

Coffee with milk.  Kefir with two raw eggs whisked in,  Sauerkraut.

So yesterday was my first day back at CFD.  It's changed a lot since the last time I was regularly there, as have I.  I saw a lot of new faces mixed in with the old ones, nearly all of whom (minus one scary elite) were smiling at that was good.  I'm prepping to do a Wendler program, so yesterday was figuring out my 1-rep maxes on the lifts used in the program - press, back squat and deadlift.  The final one used is bench press, but it took me close to an hour to get the first three, and I'm a little nervous about trying for the heaviest I can go without a spotter.  Below are my new numbers.

PRESS - 55
I don't remember what I was doing for press last year, but I know my clean and jerk was somewhere around 120-130, so I think it's safe to assume press was probably a little under a hundred.  This is the one I was most worried about, as even a year afterward, my right shoulder is still not where it used to be as far as mobility and strength go, and the press is the lift where your arms and shoulders get the least help from the rest of your body.  If I weren't so overly worried about re-injuring myself, I could probably have gone higher, but I'll stick with this for now.

BACK SQUAT - 125? 115?
I had written down 115 but then I realised I didn't add up the plates correctly, but by that time I had moved on and couldn't quite remember how I had it.  I'm most likely going to err on the side of caution here and go with the lower number, as the position for holding the bar is absolute murder on my shoulder.  I can get the high-back position ok fine (thanks to a tip from Bonesetter Stew, who happened to be there), but the low-back - my preferred technique last year, as I found it helped me go heavier and also work more on my legs and less on my neck and shoulders, which I'd rather leave slender-ish - is incredibly painful.  I'm gonna pull the head off the broom and practice with the stick, for starters.  The last numbers I recall for back squat were around 175-185.

This was the only lift that I honestly sought out failure on, both because it was the last one I was doing for the day and it doesn't really involve shoulders.  My last number for this was 225, and I was immensely proud of it because I was getting really close to doing 1.5xbodyweight.  This is...significantly less.  More like 1.167xbodyweight.  Not gonna lie, this is the lift I love the best, and it was more than a little disappointing to see how much it's dropped.  Still, it only went down 50 lbs in a year, and since it's generally so heavy and uses the really big muscle groups, there's a chance I could see significant improvement pretty fast.

And then when I was putting stuff away, I tried to hang clean 95 lbs to put it on the rack and failed miserably (the first time.  got it the second) with the scary elite watching.  Felt pretty goddamn stupid.

I really really really need to make this a habit again.  I was whining to JJ (not too shrilly, I hope) about how it didn't feel like I knew the place anymore.  Well, there's only one way to change that, and I need to suck it up and just keep coming back already.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Running the numbers: Round 3

I just got back from having Bonesetter Stew set my bones and take my stats.  Here's the first time I had this done and the second, for interested parties.  Also, if I can find someone tall, dark, handsome and named Tony to hold the camera for me, I'll get more pictures and do a side-by-side comparison with the old ones.  Below, I've listed first/second/latest numbers, in that format.

Weight: 161/155/149.  I'm pretty happy with this, but there are more interesting numbers to focus on...

BMI: 25.06/24.28/23.34.  I know this one is totally inaccurate and you're not supposed to put a lot of stock into it, but this is the first time in recent memory that I've checked it and it was solidly in the "normal" range.  Moving on...

Body Fat Percentage: 26.3/24.9/23.3.  This, along with waist-to-hip ratio (which I'll post as soon as I can dig up a tape measure), are the numbers I'm most interested in.

Total Body Water: 59.7%/64.0%/68.5%.  Stew says around 70% is a good aim, so I'm doing awesomely here.

Basal Metabolic Rate: 1540/1518/1492.  It's dropped as I've lost weight, as is to be expected.  I wish it were a little higher, but that should come with more lean mass.

Daily Energy Expenditure: 2002/2278/1940.  And I still have no clue how to translate this into real-world terms - I mean, I get that it's supposed to be how much you burn in a day, but how the hell is that actually measured in an instant?

As I said before, WTH ratio and pictures are forthcoming.

Now for the coolest part of this: the time span between the first and second stats was a little less than a month when I was doing a strict calorie-restricting diet/cleanse and working out very heavily probably 6 times a week or so, with most of the rest of my life being relatively easy and unstressful.  I saw definite improvements in my numbers, but as I noted in my follow-up post, my overall results weren't totally desirable.  I was cranky and  bloated; my trichotillomania was seriously acting up and I felt extremely constrained and regimented by the specific way I was supposed to eat and train, as well as discouraged by the way my performance in the gym had dropped.  I was moving towards some goals, but at the expense of others.

Now, fast-forward to today.  I haven't done more than an hour or two of formal exercise in a year.  (I'm not counting the forest walk/running I do with my zombie running app, because that's almost entirely walking, I've only done a few episodes and it's also a game.)  I've gone through some incredibly stressful times in the past year and am now working three jobs  for a total of 60-70 hours/week.  When I'm at home, I spend most of my time lying on my bed reading or web-surfing via my phone.  My diet is insanely high in animal fats: schmalz, lard, fatback, butter and heavy cream make up the bulk of my calories, with coconut oil being added soon.  Other than that, I eat raw or rare eggs, beef, offal (liver, heart, etc) and milk (which I drink almost entirely cultured into kefir at this point).  Sometimes I roast a chicken.  The only carbs I normally have come from my homemade lactofermented sauerkraut and the kefir, or other veggies if The Man buys them for me.  He also surprised me with Walker shortbread cookies yesterday, and I gave him a kiss and promptly demolished half the (large) package.  That's another thing: while what's listed above is my default way of eating, I definitely "cheat" more than I think I should.  I also take 20-minute ice baths a couple times a week, a la Tim Ferriss.  And I try not to stay up past 11 most nights.  That's it.

Whatever I'm doing seems to be mostly working.  I'm not entirely happy with everything - I want to regain my flexibility and strength, for starters, and eventually I want to start moving back towards competition-level lifting and parkour, as well as dripping a couple more percentage points of body fat and working on having an ass like whoa.  But as far as I can tell without actually having been to the gym, a surprising amount of my strength is still there - things like air squats and burpees come easily to me, and (most amazingly) I can still do a few unassisted pull-ups in a row (remember, I had shoulder surgery last year). 

I like where I am.  I love where I'm going.  Here's to documenting the whole process.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

3Jul12 - food and thoughts

Two egg whites cooked in butter, with a handful of sauerkraut warmed in the pan (mostly to soak up the rest of the butter.  Two egg yolks floating in kefir.  Two cups of coffee with heavy cream and milk.

(in no particular order)

I mostly like my diet right now.  I know I'm not eating a lot of vegetables, and the reason for that is they often take more prep time and attention than the other things I eat.  Kefir: pour milk in jar, add grains, wait.  Meat: heat fat in pan, add meat, wait a couple minutes, eat.  (Or just eat.  Yes, really.  More on that later.)  Eggs: well, half of them is ready to eat already, and I've been known to whisk a whole raw egg or two into my kefir, antinutrients be damned - it's just so easy!  Sauerkraut is awesome because I do about half an hour of prep one night, another 10ish minutes a few days later to pack the fermented product into smaller jars and then I'm set for a week or two.  I probably need to start pickling everything.  Hence the nukadoko...why is it so hard to find rice bran?

The best I ever felt on a "diet" was when I did Whole 30 back at the beginning of last year, and a not-too-modified version of it for a month or two following.  That's also when I was doing very heavy Crossfitting, though - between 4 and 6 times a week, sometimes every day.  These days I'm nervous about committing that much money - time too, but mostly money.  I'm still waiting on my stipend check from May, and have been trying to not spend on anything but essentials until it comes through.  Of course I say that, but then I go out with The Man and end up buying two new dresses I didn't totally need because I like how he looks at me in them, on top of the things I actually needed.  Which would make it completely worth it if I weren't so nervous about money these days.

The best I ever looked on a diet was when I did "Stage One" of this one here.  It's like one-meal intermittent fasting with snacking on fruit and nuts allowed, essentially.  Yes, I know that totally defeats the purpose.  But it helped me drop fat very quickly: I was noticing a significant difference in how my clothes fit after a week, and judging by the fact that there didn't seem to be a change in the way my lifts were increasing, I'm going to assume that lean mass wasn't affected very much.  It also helped me eat with enjoyment and mindfulness, instead of just "because it's dinner time" or out of boredom.  I like getting hungry enough for that to kick in.  When I did "official" IF, by contrast, it just made me really antsy, counting down the minutes until my eating window started in the morning and skipping other things to make sure I got dinner in before it ended at night.  Maybe I'm just justifying the caveman dealio because that's the last time I remember having that small a waist, but if it gives me that goal without getting me further from others, I figure it's not too bad.

There's so much conflicting information on what is the best way to be "fit," which loosely translates as some version of "beautiful and good at moving."  Even in my own varied experiences.  The only thing about the methods I've tried that seems to particularly stick out now is the fact that I'm not moving enough, and I need to do that more.  I can feel a knot tighten in my stomach as I type that - I already work so much, between 60 and 70 hours in any given week, and when I finish, I just don't want to do more than go back home and sip a cold drink while I'm curled on my bed.  But I'm beginning to realize that I need to suck it up and just start moving again.  The healing process after surgery and the period of "nourishing fitness" after this very mentally stressful past year need to start morphing back to a regime that actually, actively builds me back up.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Oh my god(s).  I'm actually on vacation.  So this is what weekends feel like. I'd forgotten...


For starters, some coffee, poured into the cream jar to melt out the last little bits that the spoon couldn't get to.  In the picture, it's sitting on my kitchen windowsill beside some dried apple peels for a nukadoko via this recipe, forthcoming whenever I can either find some rice bran in a local store or just buy it online.

Next, the main course: a spatula-load of ground beef, cooked in fatback.  The rest gets saved for dinner, when it will be too freaking hot to even look at the stove.  A delicious eggwhite omelette gets snuggled up to that.  Don't worry, I'm not crazy - the yolks are hiding in my morning kefir. To that, add the rest of the fatback and a cup of ruby-red sauerkraut and you have a pretty awesome first-day-of-vaycay breakfast.

Exercise: read The Tao of Pooh in child's pose while drinking my coffee.  I think that counts.

A little bit of leftover chicken, one baked egg and some nuts, with a little butter added after the picture was taken. To drink, a big glass of kvass - no, that's not juice!  The taste is something like chilled salty-sour broth.  I absolutely adore it, as the four more full quart jars in my fridge will tell you.

Another handful of almonds and Brazil nuts, along with a glass of half kvass and half kefir.  It's such a bright magenta you'd never guess there's not a single artificial ingredient in it - not even a cooked one, come to think of it: the kefir is just raw milk with kefir grains added, left for about a day.  I strain a batch every now and then, just often enough to keep myself in whey, which is then added to a big half-gallon jar of chopped beets, salt and water and let sit for a few days to make the kvass.  The other outcome of straining the kefir is farmer's cheese, which, dried as much as possible, salted and packed in olive oil, tastes like softer feta and is great with tomatoes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


One glass of kefir
A few pieces of chicken
About 10 almonds
2 cups of coffee with heavy cream at work

One burger patty (no bun) with gruyere, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and aioli, plus fries with ketchup.  This was amazing and I wish I'd thought to take a picture of it.  Also, I spent what I thought was a nice decently-long time eating and chilling, and when I clocked back in I discovered it only took 18 minutes.  Time to either eat more slowly and mindfully or else realize that I actually can find the time to eat a meal on Saturdays.

After work, I cleaned up, returned Tulip to Amy's (sadface) and then went out with my dad and The Man to see "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."  All I have to say is, the reviewer who gave it zero stars (that's right, not a single one) must not have read the damn title.  If you want to see a movie about Abraham Lincoln killing evil Southern vampires with a silver-tipped axe, you will enjoy this movie.  If your standards for things like continuity and action scenes where you can pretty much tell what's going on are fairly low and you cried when Wash died in Serenity, you will immensely enjoy this movie   If you want something to make you think, go see Schindler's List or something.  Coincidentally, the actor playing Abe looks scarily like Liam Neeson.

A big heap of Southern Cackalacky BBQ, two kinds of greens and some grapes at the Whole Foods buffet with the aforementioned gentlemen.  We talked about how apparently Lincoln's entire cabinet consisted of his childhood friend and his former shopkeeper boss.

Big glass of kefir, milk and cream.  Time to pass out.



Saturdays are always the worst.  Work normally lasts about 12 hours, give or take, and this time it was "give," with a total of 13 hours 4 minutes on my time card, and one break at about 7pm do I could run home and feed the dog.  Other than that, I sat down for about a minute one time and was upright constantly for the rest of the time.  Here's what I ate all day:

2 cups of coffee with heavy cream in the morning
One slice of toasted sweet bread that the chef made me unprompted
Probably about 10 2-3 inch pieces of bacon
A whole lot of unsweetened tea with kvass (no lemonade!)

When I finally got home:
A big glass of kefir, milk and cream all stirred together
About 2/3 c of leftover chicken pieces
A small handful of almonds and Brazil nuts

Looking back at this, it's way less than I thought.  Problem is, it's really hard to schedule the day so I have a solid 20 minutes free to sit and eat - I'll have 4 or 5 minutes here and there, but most of the time something is just minutes away from needing my attention, if it doesn't need it immediately.  Such are the joys of being a baker.

Exercise: nothing formal, just a whole lot of lifting that barge and toting that bale.  Also took a 15-minute ice bath right before bed because of the ridonkulous record heat we're having, if that counts for anything.