Thursday, January 29, 2009

S&M Blitz - The Final Chapter

The Blitz is over.  Many have asked me how I would splurge after (what would I eat first?)  The answer:  a pretty big handful of Jelly Babies.  They'd been taunting me daily for 10 days...  I had to take them down - one by one.  (Note:  is there anything better than that silky smooth sugar on a jelly baby??)  After that I pretty much went back to blitz-style eating.

I finished with a perfect record (minus one emergency Gatorade, as noted in a previous post).  The last few days went by in much the same way as the others - in a flurry of fruits and vegetables.

Here are my thoughts after the 10 days:

Why we did it:  I won't speak for Sacha but for me there were three reasons....  

1.  I had just injured my back and I knew my training was going to decrease for a week or two.  I wanted something physical to concentrate my energy on and to feel positive about while I was recovering.  Also, with the decreased training volume I would be better able to afford some fluctuations or mistakes in fueling and energy.

2.  Sacha and I are very healthy eaters normally but I wanted to max out and see if there would be some benefits in body composition, energy, performance, alertness, etc.

3.  Mental fortitude - I wanted to challenge myself mentally.  I wanted it to be tough, caveman-style living because one of the most attractive parts of the challenge was finding the willpower to stick to it. 

Positive Results:  

- I found, rediscovered, or developed a taste for a lot of foods I didn't appreciate before.  Many things I would have rarely eaten before (not for any particular reason) became staples.

- I found great alternatives for some of the less healthy items I used to enjoy.  

- I saved a lot of money - little or no eating out, packed lunches and dinners at home.

- I cooked a lot more with Sacha

- We ate some FANTASTIC meals "guilt free"

Alcohol:  Didn't miss it.  There were no "drinking events" to test my resolve and I don't come home dying for a beer.  Having said that I don't think there would be any harm in adding back alcohol in moderation.

Coffee:  Didn't miss it.  I drank lots of tea and found it was almost as good.  I prefer the taste of coffee but I don't rely on it to wake up or to pass the time.  I think I am lucky this way.

Sugar:  I didn't really think of myself as a "sweet tooth" type of guy before this but many of my cravings were sugar related.  I was forced to find alternate ways to satisfy the cravings....  dates, berries, larabars, oranges, cinnamon, raisins etc.  The "sweet" craving was a b*tch - it came on fast and made me grumpy sometimes - I'd find myself looking around for anything sweet that I could grab (which wasn't much) cursing the Blitz and counting the days.

Hunger:  At first I felt constantly hungry, I obviously wasn't getting enough calories.  I found that my body seemed to "burn" through the food a lot faster.  This was good and bad...  Good because it "feels" good to process something quickly, it's lighter and doesn't weigh you down or tax your energy.  Bad because it was easy to "underfuel" - I'd fatigue earlier in some workouts and I'd be falling asleep by mid afternoon on a couple of days...  This one is all about practice and getting the gist of what the body needs.  

Weight:  I lost 7lbs in 10 days.  I went from 191-184 (I am a hair less than 6'3" for those of you keeping score...)  That was a lot more than I expected.  I didn't intend to lose weight or have that as a goal.  I feel good about it though....  I am definitely leaner.  Lighter = faster so I will try to keep in this range or even drop a few more.  The trick will be to eat a lot more carbs (potatoes, beans etc.) so that I have consistent energy for workouts and life.

Conclusion:  I am planning to adopt many of the eating habits developed during the blitz - coffee will be back, and alcohol (moderate obviously), the odd dessert and a few extra carb sources but in general this is the way to eat - I feel quite confident of that.

That's about all I have to say about the Blitz....  ended up being a pretty lengthy post.
Lunch at my "desk".

Breakfast - 4 eggs, 1 red pepper, 1/2 avocado, fresh salsa, 1/2 orange (the other half 2 minutes later), one piece of ancient grains with hummus, tea

This soup was a staple...  Greek Red Lentil Soup (vegetable stock, lentils, garlic, onion, lemon juice, lemon rind, salt pepper, red chili flakes, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary).  AWESOME!

A typical snack - of which I had many....  those darker nuts are roasted almonds with lemon (from the local persian deli) - they are SO incredible.
Cheers and Happy Eating!

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lululemon Contest Winners!

OK....  So the draw is complete and we have two lucky winners.  

Viggo performed very well as the Master of the Draw - he very nearly ate the die once but was able to focus after that.

The winners are:


Congrats to both of you - one I have met (JB) and one I look forward to meeting (VL)....  Maybe you guys can review the lululemon item for my blog?

The rest of you may view this as somewhat of a "setback" - and for that I apologize.  Bear in mind you can only achieve success by handling it maturely - no broken laptops, or cancelled subscriptions please....

That was the most popular message in the lululemon manifesto....

Interestingly, out of 48 unique entries 18 different messages were chosen from the manifesto...  
The top 5:

Setbacks - 8 votes
Scares you - 5 votes
Listen - 4 votes
Friends not Money - 4 votes
Dance/I Will - 3 votes each

A note about the process (for disgruntled non-winners):  

- With two entries for subscribers/followers and one otherwise we had a total of 72 entries
- I assigned a number between 1 and 6 to each of the 72 entries
- I had Viggo roll the die once - this was the first 'cut' so to speak...  and brought the number of entries down to 12
- I had him roll again to determine whether he would roll once or twice (even = 2 rolls, odd = 1 roll)
- Then I had him do the final roll(s) to determine the winner
- We did this twice - once for men and once for women
- I am not a probability expert - this was the fairest way I could devise.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The lululemon Contest

...closes tomorrow.  Get your last minute entry in ASAP.  Click HERE, read the post and comment.

I have not determined how to conduct the draw yet - I think I may look to involve Viggo in the process as he is completely without bias, cannot read, and cannot be bribed (except by Sacha and I won't let her win anyway;)

I will draw tomorrow night around dinner time....  Stay tuned!

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Monday, January 26, 2009

S&M Blitz Update

Well we are on day 8 of 10 as I type this.  The home straight so to speak....

The weekend was ROUGH.  But before I describe that I should confess I cracked on Friday.

I was in the middle of a workout with Josip at IF - a diabolical mixture of weights and cardio that left me pretty depleted.  At one point Josip grabbed a Gatorade from the cooler and cracked it for me (sensing I needed something as I was doubled over with my head between my legs)...

... and I drank.  Did I ever drink.  After the workout I polished off the bottle.  It was then that I realized I was in violation of the Blitz regulations.  Whatever...  I NEEDED it bad.

I told Sacha she could have one latte since I cheated and she was all over it so we are even.

Back to the weekend:

The weekend was a tough challenge.  Weekends tend to scream out for coffee and more decadent eating (at least for us they do...)  We were both pretty grumpy on Saturday - bickering and edgy due to some cravings and misgivings over the stupid Blitz.

We held strong though and pulled out the best meal yet:


1.  Go to Steveston.  (Local fishing boat area.)

2. Get the kids good and tired at the playground.

3. Don't forget the little one in the swing...

3. Buy 3.5 pounds of shrimp right off the boat.

4. Cook shrimp in hot water for about 5 minutes.  Bring water to boil, dump shrimp in then bring back to boil.  Squeeze lemon juice all over the shrimp...  

5. Serve with homemade cocktail sauce (tomato paste, horseradish, lemon juice, salt, pepper) and an awesome salad featuring:  crab, avocado, spinach, peppers, sesame seeds, cucumber.

6.  First sign your kids miss having a pet?  They adopt cooked shrimp, name them, and make homes for them.

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Weekend Highlights - Olympics Lite

We had a pretty action packed weekend.  I'll hit a few highlights for you.

The ongoing eating challenge was just that this weekend - a challenge - worthy of it's own post coming later....

Saturday morning was all about training - the best, and by far most noteworthy part, was doing the Masters session at the same time as Mattias did Otters just a few lanes over.

It's not like taking him there and dropping him off.  Getting my workout in the same pool a few lanes from my 6 year old son getting his workout was a big moment for me.  I kept looking over and trying to spot him...  I was kind of emotional in a weird way about it.

It was so awesome to hit up the pool together, get our work done independently, and hang after.

In the hot tub:

Mattias: "How was your workout?"
Me: "Awesome. You?"
Mattias: "Awesome." 

I love my athletics - training, racing etc.  Seeing him working on his craft with his coach just four or five lanes over from me was a really powerful sign that maybe he will grow up to love this stuff too...  more than when I have taken him to a kids race or to one of my races.  

So the Saturday masters session is now on the schedule for good.  I haven't decided if I will add it (going up to 4x per week) or sub out the Friday morning session....  we'll see what the shoulders have to say about 4x/week first.

Saturday afternoon the Jones Crew headed to Steveston and had an awesome time together - see the upcoming food post...


I made a last minute decision to charge up the highway to the Callaghan Valley - not for training this time.  There was a World Cup Ski Jumping Competition on and I thought Mattias would enjoy checking it out.  Aia was previously engaged with a birthday party for a friend or it might have been a full family event....

Like a lot of people, we will only be able to check out a few events in 2010 when the Olympics come - cost, ticket availability etc. making it pretty difficult to get the "Olympic experience".  These practice events and high level competitions are a pretty decent way to get the feeling of the games at 0 cost and a lot less hassle - "Olympics Lite" if you will...

Mattias' buddy Finlay and his dad joined us and we met Deb up there.  The event was interesting - very Euro-feeling...  tons of Polish and Austrian supporters - waving flags, singing and dancing.

Winning jump:  149 metres.

Check out the photos (click to enlarge):

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Progress Report: S&M Blitz

Some highlights from day 3 and 4...

Day 3

Fueled?:  My schedule for day three was almost exactly the same as for day 1 so I hoped to learn from my mistakes.  I fueled a lot better through the day...  LÄRABARs were the answer between meals and immediately post workout too.  They are totally awesome and sweet enough to satisfy that kind of craving too.

The ingredients (of my Cinnamon Roll flavour LÄRABAR):  

Dates, Walnuts, Almonds, Raisins, Cashews, Cinnamon.

That's it - totally natural, 100% healthy.  I wouldn't say it tastes EXACTLY like a Cinnamon Roll but it is pleasantly sweet (and "sweet" is tough to get on this eating plan), and it's tasty enough to eat that I had to stop myself from eating two in a row.

I also packed in a lot more protein with my lunch - two eggs and a heap of tuna on my salad.  Made it feel a lot more substantial.  (Note:  my cool "Spork" - half spoon, half fork....  you know you want one.)

I can't believe the amount of fruit I am eating...  3 pieces with breakfast, and I stopped by Whole Foods yesterday for a snack and took down a huge navel orange, a big bag of grapes and an apple.  Then more with "dessert".  Fruit is the "easy" alternative when I need food NOW.

Cravings:  My strategy with the cravings has been to not get hungry.  If I am even slightly hungry I eat a bit of fruit to keep it from getting out of hand.  The bars have also been a good option for times when I need "sweet".  

Committed:  Yep.  Learning a lot about fueling the body and finding all sorts of great ways to be healthier when this is done...

This was part of our dinner on Tuesday night.  Peppers stuffed with:  Chicken, kamut, spinach, grape tomatoes, black beans, corn, fresh oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice.

We also had an awesome Greek Red Lentil Soup with lots of garlic, fresh lemon juice, rosemary, and oregano...  We are eating well.  Sacha's rocking it...

Day 4

I'd say the hardest part of this is just changing habits.  You have to do significantly more thinking and planning because just 'grabbing something' is unlikely to pan out in a healthy manner.

Fueled?:  Yes.  Getting good at this.

Cravings:  Still having some but know how to minimize them.

Committed:  Yes.  Thinking about how to adopt as much of this as possible while reintegrating the other foods.

I kept that short because I wanted to tell you what I have learnt about bread...  you may know this already but I didn't.

Have a look at the ingredients of a regular loaf of 100% Whole Wheat bread (left) CLICK TO ENLARGE.  Brown sugar is the third ingredient and glucose-fructose/sugar the 8th ingredient.  And the last two lines are all things that sound like Chemistry 12.  I was a little surprised/disappointed by this....

Now look at Ancient Grains Bread.  No sugar and all natural (nothing that sounds like it requires a Haz-Mat suit.)

The Ancient Grains is remarkably similar to "normal" bread if you consider they have almost none of the same ingredients.  I really enjoy it with some almond butter or especially dipped in hummus.  Give it a try...  

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

lululemon athletica - and Contest Details!

Hands down one of the best parts of being an athlete is surrounding yourself with a great team. It takes some time to figure out what that means and how to do it... but once the pieces start to come together you can really feel the support.

Over the last few years I have been very fortunate to work with some great sponsors and supporters.  Innovative Fitness, CanWi Multisport, The Bike Gallery, Cypress Mountain, Rudy Project and DHL have all been amazing contributors to my training and racing.

I am proud to announce that in 2009 I will be a lululemon Ambassador.  As I am sure many of you know lululemon is a Vancouver success story.  Started right here in our backyard by Chip Wilson, lululemon now has over 100 stores - in North America, Australia and Hong Kong.

The thing that really impressed me about lululemon was the company culture.  Example:  What was the last lululemon ad you saw?  Exactly.  They don't really advertise.  Why?  As it was explained to me:  They put the money into community initiatives like the Ambassador program and others as a way to get the word out and get people active - hopefully wearing their great styles.

That's cool...  and just one example.

They also have a manifesto.  "Ahemmm....  What's a manifesto?" you ask?  Please see below and CLICK TO ENLARGE.

I don't know for sure, but I bet it would be a lot easier to just sell clothes than it is to try to change people's attitudes at the same time.  You have to admire an organization that sends messages like these AND backs them up by making a real effort to add value to the community.  That is what the Ambassador program is about and one of the reasons why I think it is a good fit for me.  Apart from the obvious reward of cool clothing ;)  I have discovered that the most rewarding thing (for me) is hearing someone say "You inspired me to try ______."  

So, it will be a lot of fun to get involved with the local lululemon store's staff and customers.  I will keep you all up-to-date on any events coming up....

In the meantime I think we ought to celebrate with a little giveaway.  PRIZES galore - right here folks!

WAYS TO WIN:  Leave a comment on this blog with your favourite message from the lululemon manifesto.  MJR 'Followers' or 'Subscribers' who comment get two entries so sign up now!  (See the right hand column.)

I will draw two names (1 woman, 1 man) - and they will win:

Ladies: Men:
You can click on these items for alternate views or just take my word that these are awesome!  

SO!  Get your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend to enter too....  you might both win!

I will draw in a week (or so....)  Stay Tuned!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Progress Report: S&M Blitz

So far, so good.  Sacha is the mastermind behind many of our meals.... I wouldn't stand a chance at this without her.

Day 1

Fueled?:  Yes.  Two workouts (6am and 3pm) and felt energetic for both.  I'm eating a lot more (quantity) and a lot more frequently due to the quicker burn on this type of food.  Tired in the evening but did wake up at 5:20am so that's normal.

Cravings:  None through the day then bad cravings before dinner.  I was visualizing chocolate covered macadamia nuts...  (which I plan to eat as soon as this is over.)  I didn't have anything that fit the bill immediately post exercise, and that was a problem that almost cracked me.  Cravings were bad enough that I got nervous about 10 whole days.  Dinner fixed it and I felt a lot better.

Status:  Committed.  Feeling good.  Slight trepidation about the evening cravings.  Need to plan better for refueling after exercise.

This was dinner on Day 1.  Chicken with tons of veggies.  I had about 4 helpings.  We topped it with fresh salsa, and a plain yogurt and spice sauce which Sacha invented.  

It was awesome.

Day 2

Fueled?:  Had a great breakfast: smoothie (tons of fruit, plain yogurt, protein powder), Ancient Grains bread with almond butter, egg/spinach with fresh salsa, cup of tea and an enormous orange.  Set me up right for the day.

This is lunch Day 2.  Check out my rad lunch box....  anyone who has ever seen it is jealous.  Leftovers from last night's dinner, fresh veggies, fresh fruit, 2 egg/spinach pucks (in the bag, sacha's invention) and water with lemon.  

Cravings:  Much better today.  I think I did a better job of keeping hunger at bay (which is a challenge with this kind of food.)  I snacked (healthy) throughout the day and never got those sweet cravings.  Very encouraging.

Status:  Committed.  Today was easier so that's good.  100% adherence so far.

Photo:  The "master" at work...  ( I was going to write 'mistress' but it didn't sound right...)

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Barack Obama - Inauguration

What an amazing thing to watch.  

I've had months to get used to the idea of this new president, and I know what a great speaker he is.  I have also spent a little time considering the historical significance of his election and this day.

So it was a little odd that almost as soon as he started speaking I had a lump in my throat and a welling of emotion.  Difficult to define exactly why...   but if you can watch this entire Inaugural Address and not feel a little emotional I suggest you take a pulse reading.

Hopefully his talent for speaking, mobilizing support (4 million at the Inauguration in Washington today) and inspiring people are a preview of his ability to make some real changes. 

This image from the New York Times website shows, in order of popularity, the HOPES of the American people for the Obama administration:

There you have it...  easy job hey!  He has already made history but I think there is A LOT more to come.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

S & M 10 Day Blitz

Sacha and I have decided to embark upon a little eating challenge.  Today is day #1.  (You're invited to join but I didn't give you much notice... step away from the muffin now!)  

It's not a "Colon Cleanser 2000" type of thing, and it's not a 'diet' designed to make us lose weight (though it might well achieve that.)  It's just good clean livin' and a little healthy deprivation...



- All Fruit
- All Vegetables
- All Fish
- Chicken/Turkey
- Skim milk
- Plain yogurt
- Eggs
- Whole Grains (i.e. kamut, spelt, quinoa, brown rice, oats, ancient grains bread.)
- Spices/herbs
- Multi-Vitamins
- Tea
- Nuts (healthy nuts as defined by Sacha)


- Alcohol
- Coffee
- Sugar (ALL things with sugar)
- Refined flours (therefore almost all breads)
- Anything processed
- Pasta
- Cheese
- Peanut butter
- Butter (olive oil is OK)
- Red Meat
- Marshmallow Bananas ha ha... (MJ)
- Baked Goods duh! (SJ)

The sugar and the refined flour are tough.  They are in a lot of things.  The other major challenge is getting enough calories to be fueled for training - I need to eat like a horse.  

I'll let you know how it goes - maybe even with some statistics:  Weight, dollars saved on coffee/alcohol/eating out (and subsequently spent at Whole Foods).

Which brings me to another topic:

My love/hate relationship with Whole Foods.  We stocked up on some stuff to get us through the first few days of the Blitz this morning.  Here is the love/hate breakdown:

LOVE:  The food.

HATE:  The price.

That about sums it up.  I've heard it before, the "Whole Paycheck" joke.... etc.  Well, I try not to be cheap, but today I found myself face-to-face with a $15 bag of almonds from the bulk section.  They were 'slivered' (because I enjoy them that way) but I doubt the sliver-er gets paid $50/hour!

In case you are wondering what a $15 bag of slivered nuts looks like - sorry, I didn't have my camera but trust me it's not big.  Maybe a small cereal bowl full - not heaping full, just normal full.

Part of me would love to ban Whole Foods but it is WAY better than Safeway and the other usual places.  I also have a 'problem' with the salad bar that prevents me from banning the place.

Where else can you get a super-healthy meal in two or three minutes? (...and that includes parking time.)  I am at the library eating all $13.50 of it right now....  trying to chew my salad quietly.

The picture below is of slivered almonds.  Turns out they look exactly like miniature french fries... (hope that wasn't an early craving - it's only been half-a-day!)

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