Monday, January 30, 2012

90 day summary...

It's been just shy of 90 days since I began the CYCLO90 training plan; I'm in the final week.  I have to admit, this is probably going to be the most challenging week because it's a recover and rest week.  I don't do "rest" very well.   My last week of rest was the week that I had my wisdom teeth pulled, so it was much easier to sit on the couch with my feet up.  Not to mention, I wasn't eating much, so I didn't really have the energy to go tear up any trails anyhow.

So,  yesterday I started my rest week off by taking a slow hike with my daughter and some friends, and I followed that up with some really easy yoga.  I don't have any special yoga skills or anything; I just used a DVD.  Instead of a trainer workout this morning, I sat by the wood stove in the basement soaking up the warmth and reading.  For the past couple of weeks, I've been doing my training early - 5am!  A full-time school schedule doesn't allow for much else, and I've been trying to work as much as possible after classes.  Saturdays are workdays too, so there's another day I tend to train early.  Every other weekend my daughter is at her father's so I can ride Saturday afternoons when I get out of work, but the weekends that I do have her, I'm either on the trainer, or finding her a play-date for a couple of hours so I can get a real ride in.  (I have to thank Amy Biscup right now, because she has been my #1 person to help me out with this.)

Obviously, I'm hella' busy.  But, who the hell isn't?!  This is why I started CYCLO90.  I have a tiny tiny tiny amount of time for training.  That little scrap of time has to be used wisely, and it looked like that's what that plan was all about.  At this point, it's working wonders.  Every time I actually get out and ride, I feel like I've brought my "A" game.  There are no more of those rides where I get out there and feel like I have to make excuses because I don't have time to ride.  Honestly, I don't have time to ride.  Riding requires getting dressed, going somewhere, bringing a bunch of junk with me, and cleaning it all up after. I do have time to train.  Training is just from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, in my basemen,t with no helmet, a pair of cycling shorts, and a tank top.  No tubes in my pockets.  No tools.  No mud to clean up (at least I hope not.)  There's just a whole lot of intensity and a salty mess of perspiration.

I knew my legs were getting stronger.  My quads had started to change shape a little bit.  Even with all of the cycling I did last summer, they hadn't gotten as defined as this.  My weight is the same, and I don't really think I ought to be losing any anyhow.  But, my body has definitely transformed.  Not to divulge too much of my private life, but I was told that my body feels different... in a good way.  (sweet).  Compliments like that make me want to see if the "bounce a quarter off it" statement is true or not.  I have a good support system in my life right now - a man who knows how to compliment me in the right ways.  I appreciate that, and I appreciate that he is supportive of my decisions.  Plus, he doesn't think I have a mental disorder for wanting to do a 100 mile mountain bike race.  When I told him I signed up, he said, "Good!  You can do it."

What's next?  90 days!  I'm doing it again.  I might add some things to the days where I'm doing hard workouts, but for the most part, I'm following the plan to a T.  When I'm supposed to rest, I'll rest.  When I'm supposed to ride a lot, I'll make it work into my schedule somehow.  The first race I have planned is April 22 in Farmington, CT.  The course has not been my forté in the past, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to bring some brilliant skills to the dirt this time around.  It's one of those road-racing meets mountain biking courses.  There's a lot of fast, wide terrain with not a whole lot of technical aspects.  Yuck.  I am a tech junky.  (Rock gardens for life!)  I'm looking at it as a challenge; that's helping me to look forward to it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Pro" seems to denote some sort of royalty...

...and it shouldn't!

I've noticed lately that having the "pro" title near my name makes me sound like I'm some sort of super hero or member of the royal family.  I'd like to explore a little bit why that word holds so much weight; I'd also like to put it out there that it realllllly shouldn't.  Anyone who knows me is well aware that I'm nothing special.  I'm an average everyday girl going through the same crap as everybody else.  I eat, sleep, and poop just like the rest of the human race.

Here's what the New Oxford American Dictionary has to say about it:
professional |prəˈfeSHənl|adjectiveattrib. ] of, relating to, or connected with a profession: young professional people| the professional schools of Yale and Harvard.(of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime: a professional boxer.• having or showing the skill appropriate to a professional person; competent or skillful: their music is both memorable and professional.• worthy of or appropriate to a professional person: his professional expertise.• informalderogatory denoting a person who persistently makes a feature of a particular activity or attribute: a professional naysayer.nouna person engaged or qualified in a profession: professionals such as lawyers and surveyors.• a person engaged in a specified activity, esp. a sport or branch of the performing arts, as a main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.• a person competent or skilled in a particular activity: she was a real professional on stage.
There are obviously lots of definitions that can apply, but the only one that applies to me is the very last one.  Being a "pro" mountain biker is only really a big deal to 1% of the cyclists who race.  The other 99% pretty much fit in the same category.  We are the middle class of the cycling world.  We work our asses off and don't make any real money for it.  Even the 1% that make money cycling don't really make a whole lot of money.  What they earn is fame, not fortune...  unless they are Lance, but there's only one of him. 
I told someone yesterday that being a "pro" only means that you are racing in a particular category.  It means that you are willing to push yourself to an extra level, or maybe you are just more willing to get your ass kicked...  other than that, it doesn't make you special.  It shouldn't make other people feel like they are less important, or that they are not an accomplished athlete.  We need to stop looking at labels as if they mean something more than they do.  
As a cyclist with that silly "Pro" label on my cycling license, I don't feel any different than I did when I first started riding and racing.  Yeah, my ass is a little tighter, and I've had some awesome experiences along the way, but I'm still just me.  I'm just like everyone else out there.  I don't have any sponsors.  I have to pay to race (in fact, sometimes pro races cost more).  AND, I my ass STILL hurts when I've been in the saddle all day... just like everyone else's.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Graeme Street, PICK ME!!

Somehow I had missed this Facebook post this morning:

"CYCLIST SEARCH: Are you an everyday cyclist using the CYCLO90 System? Do you want to share your journey? Are you good on camera or blogging? Do you want me to work with you ONE-ON-ONE for your goals this year? IF SO...FB Message me and let me know about YOU, YOUR GOALS, and why I should make you FAMOUS;) Serious people only. 5 SPOTS. Thanks."

Lucky for me, my friend Crystal saw it and told me to get on it.  I'm on it!


The Aftermath

So, what did I do when the smoothie and soup brigade ended last Friday evening?  I started eating wheat and corn products again (i.e. bread and chips).  And, what happened?  That lovely euphoric feeling of mental clarity and abundant energy slowly slipped into oblivion.  My brain has gone back to feeling scattered, and my body has felt a little more fatigued.  I can't be sure that it's one thing or the other, wheat or corn, but something is making me feel like crap.  If I learned anything in my health brigade, it's the undeniable power of whole, minimally processed foods.

Breakfast cereals and breads throw around words like "whole-wheat" and "whole-grain" as if they held the keys to unbridled health.  These words are really just camouflage for processed food.  If the food is made somewhere, using a bunch of ingredients, and comes in a labeled bag or box, it's processed.  It's as simple as that.  Last week, I consumed an extremely minimal amount of crap.  And, behold, I did not feel like crap.  Remember that saying, "You are what you eat"?  Yeah, eat crappy, be crappy.

Just a side note that this video reminded me of:  Fats are important.  Labels that say "low fat" are crap.  If you're eating an unhealthy processed food that says "low fat," you are just fooling yourself.  Our bodies actually need fat.  Not the kind that comes in a pint of ice cream, but the wonderful kind that comes in fish, avocados, and nuts.  For one thing, our brains need it to function.  Don't be fooled by labels.  Eat outside the box.

Friday, January 20, 2012

And.... it's done.

It's been an interesting week, for sure.  I've learned some things along the way.

1 - plan ahead - know how long you will be away from a blender, a toilet, and a restaurant that serves soup.  Know what gas stations sell "Naked" juice or "Bolthouse Farms."

2 - If you don't have time for breakfast, or you are the sort of person who tries to eat a breakfast sandwich or oatmeal while driving, a smoothie is the way to go.  As we've already seen in some of my recipes, you can get a lot of food into one delicious beverage.  It's a lot easier to drink and drive than it is to eat.  Bottoms up.

3 - While smoothies are yummy and make you feel awesome, it's important to be able to chew some real food.  As with all aspects of life, balance is key.  Smoothies serve their purpose when they're needed, and I highly recommend them to anyone who has a hard time getting the necessary fruits and veggies in on a daily basis, or someone who tends to miss meals because they're too busy.

So that's that.  I plan on continuing on with one or two smoothies a day in addition to some real, certifiably chewy food.  Bring it... NOW!  HA!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pizza Places don't always lead to Pizza

I don't have much to say today - mainly because it was a long ass day, and I don't feel like saying much.   I woke up early, did a sick workout, dropped Skyler off, hit Walmart for a thumb drive, and all before 9am.  Then it was back to back English classes, a lunch break (smoothies and soup in my car), and a 3 hour biology lab.  It has got to be about ten years or so since I've had a lab, and I felt WAY out of my element.  Ugh.  Excel?  YUCK!  Maybe I'll learn something useful from it.  Who am I kidding?  I've already learned something useful!  I know how to average and get the sum in a spreadsheet now.  That's more than I knew this morning.  Yay.

My biggest challenge hit at 4:50 when I got out of lab and sped off to pick up Skyler so I could bring her to MMA for 5:30.  We made it, but I was getting hungry.  So was Skyler.  Knowing that I didn't have anything ready to eat at home (poor planning), I called good ole Pizza Pizzazz in Danielson, and they informed me that both of their soups today were meatless.  So, needless to say, I had to walk past beautiful glorious aromatic pizzas on my way to get soup.  Tempted? Hell friggin' yes, I was!!  But the soup was amazing, and I made it home without breaking.  One more day...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh.... my..... GAWD! I want some chips.

My will power is staying strong, but I'm definitely a crabbier person when denying myself the stuff I want to crunch on.  Winter break ended today, and back to school I went.  I brought a cooler loaded with smoothies, and sucked them down in between classes, but I don't think I had enough early enough.  The past few days I'd been pounding them down like an nascar fan drinking coors lights.  Today, I started off slow in my rush to get to my 8 o'clock class.  By 8:50, when class ended, I was hungry, and that lasted until I went home at 1pm for a ginormous bowl of soup and another smoothie for the ride to work.  I had more soup for dinner, and at this moment, I'm feeling as bloated as a nascar fan (if you are taking offense to this, please don't... it's a joke, laugh!).   I definitely "drank" too much today.  I intend to start tomorrow off better.

A valuable lesson can be learned by my failure today.  Eat more in the beginning of the day.  We need food for energy, and after fasting all night long (sleeping), we need to get some food in there so we have enough energy to make it through the 2pm slump without feeling the need to buy a monster coffee.  Not only that, but stuffing yourself full of food in the latter part of the day makes your body overloaded before sleep.  Going to bed with a full stomach does not promote a good night's sleep.

My energy level, regardless of my mishap today, has been pretty high.  In fact, I think I can fairly say that I'm totally over my 2pm enormous cup of coffee.  Having had issues with fatigue and focus in the past, I found myself thinking clearly in class this morning and didn't once daydream about napping (aren't daydreams what happen when you nap during the day?).

I don't have any recipes for you today, but I do have a secret to share.  I'm not completely alone in my crazy endeavor this week.  When Mike (the BF) figured out what I was doing Sunday night, he jumped on board.  He told me today that he's really enjoying the smoothies for breakfast and lunch, but he's definitely missing out on real food (as am I).  I can definitely see a change in him though.  He used to walk in after working looking ragged and miserable, but he's looking kind of glowy (new word) lately.   We have a date Saturday night to go to Applebee's for some real food.  Why there?  Gift certificates, of course.

Teabag wisdom:  "May you have love, kindness and compassion for all living things."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 4 - Desserts!!!

I woke up this morning at my usual 5am with the intention of working out.  When I saw that school was delayed two hours, I got excited because that meant that I got to sit around for a while sipping coffee before hitting the trainer for an hour and a half.  I followed my sweat session up with some thorough stretching.  I make it sound easy, don't I?  Well, it wasn't.

When I got on the trainer and started turning the cranks this morning, my legs felt like dead weight and my mindset was likewise.  Somehow, I told myself to just give it a few minutes and see how I felt.  After about halfway through the first 30 minute set, I felt better.  Then I told myself, "Train like you mean it."

The rest of the workout wasn't easy. In fact, it hurt like a mo-fo, but I gave it my all.  Skyler slept through all of my swearing and noises and woke up with a big goofy smile when she found out it snowed.  I even let her go outside to play in it before breakfast because I was afraid it'd be gone before she got home from school.

As far as my smoothie menu for today, I made some of the same ones from the past few days.  I've been thinking that when this is all done, I'm going to be having my desert smoothies on a nightly basis, and I'll probably still have the spinach smoothies in the morning.  There's no way that I could go permanently without crunch.  Smooth is nice, but crunch.... (my mouth is watering).

I started thinking about take-out on my way home from work.  I was headed home to make some delicious soup, but the tastes and smells kept jamming up my thoughts.  Fish and chips, chinese, pizza, spinach and artichoke dip, pizza, garlic bread..... (mouth watering again).   I had a rough drive home.

So, I'm still going strong, sort of.  I'll confess, I bought some White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter and stuck my finger in for a big mouthful.

Here's tonight's dessert:

1 cups almond milk
1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
2 TB White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter
1 TB Maple Syrup
1 TB Sunflower Seeds
2 TB shredded coconut (unsweetened)
(makes 2 servings)

I'm sure that the calories in that are comparable to ice cream, but the nutrients should far exceed anything you'd find in Ben & Jerry's (no offense to the most delicious ice cream company in the world).  I find that this concoction tastes pretty f-ing amazing.  I should start a smoothie dessert business.

Monday, January 16, 2012

When the going gets tough... the tough gets colder.


Today was tough!!!  I'm not gonna lie.  Going into this, I kinda had a feeling that Day 3 would be pretty difficult.  With a brisk 8 degree start this morning, I knew that it was going to be pretty hard to drink cold smoothies all day.  Work consisted of standing at the controls of a firewood processor, pulling levers and only doing a minimal amount of moving around.  Sure, I got to climb up and down some equipment every now and then, but it was all cold metal equipment.  Add a meal of frozen goo to that, and I might has well have just injected ice into my veins.  I did bring some hot soup in a small thermos, but by the time I ate it, it was luke warm soup.

When I got home this evening, I was bombarded with the lovely aromas drifting over from the pizza place down the street.  Seriously???  Luckily, I still had some soup left in the fridge, and to kick it up a notch, I added some Pizza Magic (if you haven't googled this stuff yet, get on it).  I'm capping it off with Skyler's favorite from yesterday for desert (see yesterday's Reese's flavored blueberry treat).  Meanwhile, I'm in my sweats and bathrobe, directly in front of the wood stove, and I'm still cold.

I should really not be complaining though.  At least I have a coat and a warm place to sleep at night.  Before work this morning, I went out to get myself a pair of mittens, because gloves just weren't going to cut it today.  On my way down Main Street in Danielson, I saw the town homeless guy.  He didn't have a coat or gloves!  I feel bad complaining about being cold when I really have no idea what it's like to be truly cold.  If anyone has what I'd guess to be a size large spare coat lying around, maybe you could drive down and see if you spot that guy, and hook him up.

Alright, enough preaching.  Here are some new recipes:

1/2 grapefruit
1 pear
1 c spinach
1/2 c carrot
1 packet Emergen-C
1 TB Chia seeds
2 1/2 c H2O
(not bad...  I'm pretty sure I've made one similar to this already)

2 bananas (small)
1/2 c pineapple (chunks & juice)
1 c mango
2 c almond milk
1 TB sunflower seeds
(really yummy!!!)

That's it.  I had more soup today than yesterday on account of it being cold and all.  It'd be nice to have some comfort food like mac n cheese, but that would ruin EVERYTHING!  I've already made it through Day 3, so I'm almost halfway done.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"To know others is smart; to know yourself is wise."

Smoothies and Soups - DAY 2

Today went relatively well.  I forgot to mention in yesterday's post how often I've been peeing.  I think this is significant because it shows how well I'm hydrating myself at the same time that I'm bombarding my insides with nutrients.  Every smoothie I make is mostly liquid, so I haven't been drinking a ton of water.  Hydration is great!  Being hydrated ups the energy level and makes your whole body feel fantastic.  Having to pee all the time kind of sucks.  I had to find a tree twice yesterday on the mail route.  Thankfully, today was my day off, so I was able to use an actual bathroom every 30-60 minutes or so.  

As far as cravings go,  I made salsa for Skyler today, and I had to handle the corn chips.  Somehow, I managed to keep them away from my mouth.  In the evening, I had to make her a grilled cheese on the "everything" rye bread I love, but I didn't let myself get too envious.  I enjoyed some soup and the smile on her face.  She thinks I'm nuts.  My motto for the week is, I have the rest of my life to eat chips and shit if I want to, I can make it 7 days.  

Skyler even let me make her a couple of smoothies today.  She had one with breakfast that she loved, and another as a snack that she admitted tasted a lot like Reese's.  That's her in the picture at the right.  I would  never suck her into my food experiment, but I certainly do try to encourage her to be openminded about the stuff I blend up.  Not only did she enjoy some of my weird concoctions, but she even did some yoga with me.  What a trooper.

So, here are the recipes you've all been waiting for:

#1 (pic on right)
2 c spinach
2 pears
1 c. pineapple (canned in juice)
2 1/2 c H2O
1/2 c shredded carrot

It was absolutely delicious, and Skyler agreed that it was the best tasting smoothie yet.  That is, until she had the purple one.

2 c almond milk
2 TB Peanut Butter
2 TB sunflower Seeds
1 c spinach

*The one Skyler is holding.  I didn't drink it, but it was just for her as a yummy healthy treat.
1 c almond milk
1 c blueberries
1 tsp Chocolate Nesquik

*This one was just an experiment.  I wanted something that tasted like pizza because I was tired of sweet stuff.  I'm not going to call it a success or a failure, but I'll just say it was interesting.
1/2 tsp garlic
1/3 c spinach
2 white mushrooms
1/2 c diced tomatoes (garlic, basil, onion)
2 c tomato soup (the nasty Campbell's kind because that's what I had)
1 tsp Pasta & Pizza Magic Seasoning (google it - amazing)
(I couldn't take a picture of this because it looked like complete crap.)

*I liked Skyler's snack so much that when I got done my workout, I had to make myself something similar.
1 1/2 c coconut milk
1 c blueberries
1 TB Peanut Butter
1/2 scoop of Vanilla whey protein powder 
(While I am pretty much non-dairy consuming, I still haven't given up the whey protein or cheese.  It's a struggle.)

So far, I've gotten some pretty cool recipes out of this experiment.  Feel free to let me know if you try any and what you think.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"your greatness is not what you have, it's what you give"

I woke up at 5am this morning, sat down to enjoy my coffee by the wood stove in the basement, and somehow decided that today would be the start of an experiment in food.  I've been reading about juice fasts and smoothies for weeks.  I know the benefits of eating clean, and I'm not trying to lose any weight.  Considering the fact that I've only had one cold in the past year, I think I'm pretty damn healthy.  Not only that, I know a lot of people would love to have the genetic predisposition that I have to be small and fit.  Image isn't everything though; it's what's on the inside that matters.  No, I'm not talking about personality, although that does tend to be pretty important.  What I'm getting at is all the other stuff in there...  we have organs that we can't see (duh) that depend on us to keep them healthy.  There are plenty of skinny people out there who look freaking hot as hell on the outside, but their insides are all caked up with doritos and cheeseburgers.  It's high time we start taking care of the parts of us that keep us feeling alive. Literally.

I've been pretty open about my daily smoothie habit (kale or spinach with fruit and stuff).  It's an easy way to get in a couple servings of veggies and fruit, and it helps clean out your intestines while boosting your energy.  I know that I couldn't handle a juice fast because that basically consists of just juice for a set amount of time.  I need fiber and chunks of stuff.

So, what I am proposing, for the next week (maybe longer provided I feel as good as I hope to), I'm going to have smoothies and soups all day everyday.  Today was day one, and I had no problem meeting my daily calorie expectations today, and I never really felt like I was hungrier than I should be.  My only true temptation was the almost irresistible aroma coming from the greasy diner near work.  The smell of fried food is an embarrassing weakness for me.

Smoothie #1:
2 cups coconut milk
2 small bananas
1 small pear
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

Smoothie #2:
4 c.H2O
2 c. spinach
1 c. raspberries
1 c. mango
1 TB chia seeds
2 TBs sunflower seeds
1 packet of Emergen-C

Smoothie #3:
2 c. almond milk
1 c. blueberries
2 TBs Peanut Butter (natural chunky)
16 dark chocolate chips (ghiardelli 60%)

Smoothie #4:
2 c. coconut milk
2 pears
1 TB maple syrup (the good shit)
1 TB sunflower seeds

(I have veggie soup simmering on the stove as I type.)  

I woke up with a headache that I had most of the day (probably due to all the shit I ate yesterday and then capped off with beer).  I felt energized most of the day, and even now, 12.5 hours after waking, I feel pretty peppy.  So far, so good.  The biggest problem I foresee at the moment is in resisting my corn chip addiction.  Maybe I can find a way to put them in the blender... jk.  The whole point of the smoothies and soup is to have super nourishing stuff non-stop for a week.  Corn chips don't have much in the way of nutrients, so I'm going to have to wait til next week (or later) to get my crunch on.  

Until tomorrow....