Category Archives: exercise

Smoothie Recipe – The Staple

Joking about the version number. I’ve switched this up so many times that I’ve lost track.

I’ve been drinking this one (and slight variations) the last few weeks:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1 scoop unflavored whey isolate
  • 1/2-1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2-1 cup strawberry, raspberry, blackberry mix
  • 1 cup steeped matcha green tea
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Sometimes kale.
  • Sometimes a tablespoon coconut oil.
  • Sometimes handful of almonds.
  • Sometimes some cucumber.
  • Sometimes some celery.
  • Sometimes some broccoli.
  • Sometimes some chia seeds.
  • Sometimes some carrot.

I’ve switched from taking the veggies raw to steaming most of them. Cooked/steamed veggies are a little easier to work with plus reduces the oxalate level.

Another winter, another season of inactivity. Luckily each winter (of inactivity) I never put everything back on. But… Here we go again.

I’ve updated my “YoYo Graph.”


Dolce Diet Living Lean Review Part 1

I’ve been meaning to do a write  up for a while. I had the book for over a month.

I’m going to separate the review in 2 parts. The first is a review of the food and recipes. The second is a review of the exercise program(s). I haven’t started or even looked at the exercise part yet.

I think it’s important to note my goals, where I am, etc. as the book is primarily noticed in the MMA community/niche. I do no fight training. I’m just a guy who used to be athletic, but fell off (especially the last 5 or so years). I had been yo-yo’ing weight loss the last 2 years, relying primarily on cardio (jogging) and calorie restriction. Ultimately meeting a yearly demise during each winter.

This year I put things together perfectly. I restricted calories a little (set to lose 1.5 pounds a week), and did cardio regularly. The biggest difference this year is that I ate a million times healthier than I had in previous years. Including sticking to and further evolving my healthy living checklist, with help from my smoothie/juice breakfasts. This winter, instead of getting lazy, I’ve joined a gym and will focus on strength training and tone down the cardio (and also bring my weight loss/calorie intake to maintenance). I’ve been feeling great and it hasn’t been hard or a grind in any way.

Where Dolce Diet / Living Lean came in is when I felt at a loss for healthy food recipes, ideas, and alternatives. I should note that I was already seeing great success with my plan and goal progress before the book arrived. I bought the book primarily for the food/recipes.


  • It uses healthy “whole” foods.
  • The recipes are relatively easy to follow.
  • There is a good variety of foods/ingredients.
  • The recipes taste good, and I have been sticking to them. My wife likes them too. A huge help is having a partner in healthy eating and lifestyle.
  • The recipes are filling, and I have noticed that I don’t have hunger cravings at all when sticking to the whole foods he advocates.
  • Overall it has built and is strengthening a discipline of both eating whole and cooking and preparing my own (and household too) meals. And I’ve started to improvise and search for more recipes now that I have a solid “base” to work off from.

Not so good:

  • Recipe’s vary wildly with serving sizes. Some can feed 6 people, others just 1.  But after a few times around I’ve halved or doubled recipes accordingly.
  • Recipes lack some details e.g. “can of diced tomatoes” (what size can??) and type of bread rather than simply “bread”
  • The pantry list isn’t complete as some recipes call for items not on the list. It would be nice to have a “some recipes include” list to be more prepared.
  • There aren’t many recipes total (see actual count and breakdown below). I fear getting tired of some.

Overall I think the book is worth it. It’s definitely gotten me excited to cook. And cook with whole ingredients and uber healthily. Previously, I very rarely cooked anything (if you don’t count peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese). The foods taste good, which means there is no sacrificing. When I was still jogging a lot, I really feel the foods gave me more usable energy. I was far less sluggish when running after introducing the foods into my diet. Also I’ve learned some things too, like cooking with grape seed, peanut, and coconut oils instead of olive oil because of their high smoke points.

Part II will come later as I am still in my first week of getting re-acclimated to weight lifting after years and years of not lifting. I need a few very light introduction weeks before I start lifting seriously. Judging by how sore I am right now, I think it’s a smart decision.

11/19/11:  As promised, here are some counts to the contents of the book:

  • The book is 163 pages, not including a couple pages of testimonials at the end.
  • The first 32 pages go into Dolce’s background, experiences, and the entire diet’s methodology.
  • There are 5 pages outlining a sample meal plan.
  • 3 pages of the diet basics and pantry lists.
  • 28 pages of recipes and snack ideas.
  • The remaining pages are devoted to workout principals, sample workout plans (lifting and cardio), and exercise movements.

As I mentioned earlier, I will detail the workout portion in another review. I haven’t started his workout plan yet, rather I’m sticking to my own for now.

As far as the diet part goes, here’s a breakdown:

  • There are 34 food recipes (not counting snack ideas and condiment recipes).
    • 5 breakfast
    • 11 lunch
    • 14 dinner
    • 2 snack
    • 2 juice
  • 6 condiment recipes (e.g. fresh berry syrup used on pancakes and french toast)
  • 5 snack ideas that I’m not including in recipes (e.g. toast smeared with avocado)

Need to Switch Gears, 10k may have to wait

Following my last post, I ran an even newer personal best going 5.75 miles in 51 minutes. Again, this was the furthest I ever ran. Plus it was my fastest pace ever (8:52) for 3+ miles. Good, good, good.

I should also note that it was a very mild day. Low to mid 50s. No humidity. Perfect.

My last run wasn’t as good though. I only made it 5.5 miles in the same 51 minutes. Still not shabby, but… The sole reason it was slower (and what’s been haunting me the last 2 years also) is that I can’t figure out how to dress for the cold weather. It was low 40s. Too cold for just a long sleeve shirt (I think). I had a windbreaker jacket and pants (both supposedly breathable). But I sweat so much, that after 15-20 minutes, I started to feel the heat. And as it turned out, I gassed a little at the end of the run. Mind you when I first stepped out of the house, I was a little chilly.

That brings me to a decision to not fret over it. My outdoor running days are over for this season. I’m taking my cardio into the gym full time from now through the winter. I don’t want to spend money on more clothes. And I don’t have the patience to trial and error this thing out. Also, add in some chapped lips and uuumm errrr let me just hint uhhhh {minor case of what happened to Andy from the Office in the running episode} makes my decision easier and final. Aaaaand it’ll break me into a routine of going to the gym, which I wanted to do more during the winter month anyway. I CANNOT SLIP OFF TRACK THIS WINTER!

I know I could have made 10k (6.25 miles) this year, but it’ll have to wait until Spring.

Fitness Update – “I love it when a plan comes together”

I can’t believe it was a month ago I wrote that I hit a plateau running 3 miles. Where my time wasn’t improving. I decided then to switch gears and up the distance and follow the bridge to 10 k program. Well tonight I hit 2 milestones. First, I ran 5 miles. That’s the furthest ever for me. Second, I did it in 45 minutes (adding up the splits, and subtracting the 2 minutes of walking). 9 minute mile average, which is the best at any prolonged distance. Actually my first 2 miles were 8:30 each.

This week of b210k was 3 15 minute runs with a one minute break in between. I really think I could have run straight through, but stuck to the plan anyway.

Way, way, way back I longed for the day where I can run a considerable distance with easy effort. I’ve achieved this at shorter distances (and wrote about it before), but tonight was the longest distance I’ve had that feeling. It was pretty effortless the entire way, and I felt I could have gone much further.

I think I finally have everything in my healthy living checklist down completely. I had most of it down before, but struggled with a few items here and there and never had it down consistently over a long period of time as I have been maintaining  recently. The biggest changes recently is adding a ton more fruit and vegetables in my diet, and eating as whole/natural as possible. I’m completely buying into the theory of eating right for “clean and efficient burning fuel for the body.”

I even bought a book, Living Lean for some recipes which I’ve put some to the test already (I’m going to write a review soon). I think some of my previous downfalls were due to not having enough food options to rely on. Hopefully I can use the recipes in the book to avoid boredom and ruts and continue to eat uber healthy.

I will not sabotage this momentum this winter as I have the last 2. I know it. Though I’ll need to switch gears a little because I’m not running outside in the cold.

Training and Nutrition Update

I’ve hit a nice groove. My diet and nutritional intake has been the best since… well the best my entire life probably. Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten enough fruits and vegetables on any consistent basis. With the help of my new fancy VitaMix blender, that’s changed. So besides getting leaner, I’m also getting healthier. The smoothies and juices I’ve been making are pretty good. I’ll have to post some of my better “recipes.” I don’t need to force myself to drink them, which means that the habit should easily become long-lasting. I’m doing it very smart and safe this time. I’m slam dunking my Healthy Living Checklist, which I’ve updated.

I guess it’s because I’m truly eating right, I’m really not feeling hungry at all. In previous years, the calorie restricting seemed much harder–probably because I was eating lean only (no veggies and fruits).

Thanks to the cooler weather we’ve been having. Thanks to eating right. Thanks to the fact that I’ve dropped 14 lbs since March. And thanks to me started this up again this year much earlier than previous years (hopefully I don’t have to “start” again next year!). Thanks to those things for helping me run some of my best runs ever. My last two 3 mile runs were 28:01 and 28:31. In previous years I didn’t get back to these times until September.

I have 12 more lbs to go for my goal, which I originally set for late September. At my rate, I should hit it by early August. We’ll see.

I have 22 more lbs to go for my stretch goal, which would bring me back to my college day’s weight. We’ll see. As mentioned in my previous post, after reaching my original goal, I’m going to stop weight loss mode completely for a while. Then focus on more athletic things like sprints, resistance training, etc.

To do:

  • Maintain what I’ve been doing and reach weight loss goal.
  • Incorporate sprinting and HIIT by Fall
  • Incorporate resistance training by Fall

Diet and Nutrition Update

This was my original Healthy Living Checklist. Here is my progress:

  • Exercise at least cardio 3 days a week – Done although I need to maintain this through winter.
  • Eat Right – Done. But see below.
  • Sleep Better/More – Had been great, but now ok. I need to focus on this some more. I want 8hrs, but am probably averaging 6. Good, not great.
  • Reduce Sugar – This isn’t a problem for me .
  • Reduce Salt – Done.
  • Reduce Artificial Sweeteners – Done.
  • Drink More Water – I need to drink more.
  • Reduce Caffeine – I’m like a crack fiend. I don’t think this is essential though, so I’m ok with my addiction.

Another year, another winter to undo all of the progress I made the spring, summer, and fall before. At least this year I got back in the groove in March, which added up to a 3 month layoff. It wasn’t as hard to get back in the groove this time around, and at least ALL of the progress wasn’t undone. Where I am now in far as progress (weight, running pace, etc) is where I was in about August of last year. Well ahead.

I’m glad I have the Planet Fitness membership. At $10 a month, it’s worth just keeping even if I hardly go during the summer and fall (I’d rather be outside). It’s good for rainy days, if I get any setbacks again (eg tendinitis in my ankle), etc. The payoff will be in the winter, where I promise myself I’ll be to not have to start over again next year.

As mentioned above, I’ve been doing good with my healthy living checklist. Even through the winter, although I didn’t exercise, I didn’t completely abandon the plan. But oddly when I slack in exercise I guess it’s a mental thing to also start slacking in the diet area. It’s like all or nothing. But it could have been much worse.

I noted in the eat right part to “see below.” Well here it is. I had marked this off last year as done. But really after further review, although I was eating lean, it really wasn’t too healthy. It wasn’t horrible, but I was getting very little fruits and vegetables–if any at all. That’s changed.

I used to eat/drink a meal replacement every morning. It wasn’t ideal. For one, it’s not natural. And second, they are expensive. So I decided to start making my own. What better way than to make some natural smoothies?

I started to experiment with some smoothies and kind of liked it. I started to experiment some more and more, then broke my blender. I fried it. Oh no! Then bought another one and fried it on my first try. Oh no!

Once I got the hand of making good smoothies (before destroying blenders), I wanted to try my hand at making real juices too. I thought about buying a separate juicer. After doing some research, and from advice from my very own wife (ok, Eileen you were right, there I said it), I decided on a VitaMix blender, which is a blender that blends and pulverizes so well that it makes a separate juicer unnecessary.

I was skeptical at first. I’m naturally skeptical. Especially when it comes to online marketing and online reviews, which being in the industry makes you more aware of dirty tricks. I know they have sales affiliates (kind of like Avon). So when I read all of the overwhelming positive reviews, I though something was fishy. But I’ve become wise to “tells” that give away if reviews and blog write ups are bogus or exaggerated. Wading though, there were enough to convince me that maybe this thing was legit.

Boy is it. It blends the living $#!% out of everything. It’s almost scary. You can throw a whole apple in there and blend it to juice and the pulp is so minimal. I’ve read how healthy kale is, and even throwing some of that stuff in gets blended in so much that it’s unrecognizable. Not a single sign of any leaf left. It’s also easy to clean.

So with my new toy, and self appointed title of Smoothie King (which my 3 year old son calls me now 🙂 ), I’ve been getting my daily fruits and veggies. This is probably the biggest improvement in my diet that I’ve made in the last 20 years.

I’ve been on a plan using an app called myfitnesspal, which based on a weight loss goal gives you what daily amount of calories you should be consuming. You can look up foods and the calorie info is there, then can be easily added into a daily diary with a click. This has helped me get a handle on the amount of calories of stuff I’ve been eating. Especially the smoothies, which are healthy but can really pack in calories. I set it for me to lose 1.5 lbs a week.

A side-note on smoothies. Using fruits can up the sugar intake quite a bit. So I try to not go overboard. I also use almond milk instead of cow’s milk (which I might simply use water when I’m out).

The rest is the same. Eat in moderation. Eat lean.

My progress so far (feels like a yearly broken record)… From March to about the middle of May, I dropped 5 lbs. Then from mid-May to today, I dropped another 7 lbs. I think I learned something, plus I think I need to adjust my calorie intake. Total 12. 15 more for my goal (by end of September). 25 more for a stretch goal (which I might cycle off and wait until next year). By the fall I want to get out of weight loss mode and into “athletic” mode with sprinting and hitting the weights at the gym (sounds like another broken record–this year will be the year it gets done!).

Believe it or not, I don’t want to lose weight too fast. I think the process of losing weight in of itself if unhealthy. I think by depriving the body calories it needs to maintain weight, also deprives the body of energy needed for the immune system. I think this is kind of a scale though, so while rapid weight loss is bad, a slow plan isn’t nearly as much (plus the end result is worth it).

So I’m going to carefully monitor my loss, which since mid-May is exceeding 1.5 per week and adjust the app’s recommendation.

What I’ve learned is that for me to really start losing weight, my cardio needs to bring my heart rate up to 160-165.

While I was relegated to the elliptical machines when nursing my ankle tendinitis, I had used the machine’s recommendation (based on my age and weight) to keep me at a cardio target heart rate at 145. That wasn’t enough. When I hit the road again, I brought my heart rate monitor on a few runs and saw that a comfortable jogging pace for me brings my heart rate up to 160-165. And it’s no wonder why the weight loss has kicked in a lot more since jogging again (since all other factors are the same).

That’s all for now.

New 3 Mile Personal Bests

I’m kicking myself for still not starting interval training. I need to get to a track to do it, and my weekends haven’t provided the time. What makes it more difficult is that the local tracks/fields are full of events on the weekends. I don’t know how strict they are about enforcing the 9am-dusk rule, and I don’t want to find out the hard way.

I had to take it easy for a few weeks. Like I wrote earlier, the 4 mile runs were taking their toll on me. I had to rest up a sore ankle and toe, which seem to be all better now. I also got a sore back. I’m not sure the sore back was from running the extra distance, but it did require some rest.

Since the rest I ran two 2 mile runs to get back in the groove and to test my foot and ankle. When all felt right, I followed it up with two 3 mile runs. The first 3 mile run was finished with a 9:21 pace. And last night’s was finished with a 9:12 pace. I’m psyched that I’m closing in on 9 minutes per mile. Also I feel like my stride is nice and smooth. These two are new personal best times.

Since I think I have my injuries under control, I’m going to try to increase the frequency back to every other night. And hopefully get interval training done on the weekends. And hopefully too I can shed some more weight–which has been at a standstill.

Need to switch gears

I mentioned in my last post that I’m done with 4 mile runs (or anything farther). I’ve never been a distance runner and only 10 or so 4 mile runs started to take its toll on me. I’ve developed a soreness on the inside of my ankle. I rested it up for a few days, then went back out yesterday for what was going to be a 3 mile jog. I felt the ankle a little and ended it at just 2 miles. The good news it was a fast 2 miles (9 minute per mile pace). The bad news is I need to rest up the ankle some more. The last thing I want it a nagging injury. Luckily I stopped when I did. That takes some discipline. My next run, for sure this time, will be intervals with sprinting. In the meantime, I’m going to give these a try:
100 pushups
200 situps

I started them last year but never finished.

Last 4 mile run

I got in another 4 miles on Saturday. This time I came in at a little over 10 minutes per mile, which was no surprise since I ate garbage all day. I didn’t struggle though. However like I mentioned in my last post, it seems the 3 mile mark is when my body starts telling me enough is enough. This time the inside of my ankle got sore. Sore enough for me to have to rest a few days. With the 4 mile runs, I’ve been needing at least 2 days rest between. I can easily bang out 3 miles every other day. The sum of course is more distance overall per week if I limit myself to 3 miles.

I STILL need to get myself to the track and do interval running. I’ve been talking about it far too long. It’s just a pain in the neck that the local tracks are always taken up on the weekends.

No surprise too that my weight loss has come to a halt the last 2 weeks. I really slacked in the diet department. At least I didn’t gain anything. I really don’t mind. As I said way back, I want to sort of cycle the calorie restriction so my body doesn’t get used to it. Although my slacking off hasn’t really been part of the plan per se, it does serve as a resting period. Looking at the big picture, I’ve maintained my weight and have continued to improve my cardio. Hopefully I can take the improved cardio and refocus and get results out of it.

Since June I lost 15 pounds. I want to lose another 18. At my pace I should be there by the end of January (faster if I refocus and stick to it). It’ll be a challenge to keep active through the winter. I’m already making a Christmas list of winter gear I’ll need to jog in the freezing cold. Realistically, I’m pretty happy where I am right now and don’t mind if it takes me until April to carve off the rest. I just have to seriously avoid falling off all-together (like last year).

Getting Back on Track Felt Good

I hit the road last night and got 4 miles in. Not the fastest time, but still under a 10 minute per mile pace.

I REALLY need to start interval training. I’m starting to get really bored of the long runs and I think overall health wise, interval training is better for a lot of reasons. Plus it seems like the 3 mile mark is the limit to the very comfortable run. All and all my cardio is fine, but it seems every time shortly after the 3 mile mark, my feet start hurting (not bad by any means). If I can get myself into a good consistent 2x a week interval program, I’m going to then limit my “distance” runs to just 3 miles.

Funny thing happened. I had set my music player to repeat one song for my son earlier in the day. I guess you have to undo that setting, because when my playlist came on, it repeated one song throughout my entire 40 minute run. I must have listened to LL Cool J’s Mamma Say Knock You Out over 10 times.