February 90% Nutrition Challenge

The monthly challenge at Pink Dumbbells for February will be to achieve and sustain at least 90% compliance with your nutrition plan. According to Dr. John Berardi, his research and experience working with athletes and private clients have shown him that you don’t need to be perfect 100% of the time on your nutrition plan to achieve the results you want–just getting 90% of your meals down will give you nearly identical results as that 100% of perfection, and you won’t go nuts in the meanwhile.

Who wants to see if he’s right?

Here are the basics:

1. If you are eating 6 meals a day, that is 42 total meals out of the week. To stay above 90% compliance, you can have up to FOUR cheat meals a week.

2. For the purposes of this challenge:

Cheat meal = any single meal of reasonable portion size that contains even one item not on your defined plan. A huge buffet dinner that includes 3 loaded plates and a dessert exceeds the limits of a normal splurge meal.

So in one week I can replace 4 authorized meals with
a) personal size pizza at Donato’s
b) 1 c. rice with 1 c. Chinese take out food
c) regular on-plan dinner with bowl of ice cream for dessert
d) Chipotle barbacoa beef bowl

but not:
– entire large pizza with the works
– 4 plates at a Chinese buffet
– Entire 1/2 gallon carton of Ben and Jerry’s
– 3 Chipotle burritos with extra cheese, sour cream, and guacamole plus chips and bladder buster Coke

3. A collaborative spreadsheet (sample) will be posted to Google Docs for check-ins. Checking in is easy–just type an x in the appropriate box if you:

a) MISS a meal entirely
b) TAKE a cheat meal

All of the percentages will be calculated automatically. There will be space left for you to include notes about your cheat if you like, but that is not mandatory. Click on the TAB with your name to access your own chart. All participants will be able to view each other’s charts.

4. The challenge is open to Pink Dumbbells members as well as other fitness bloggers and enthusiasts who have a nutrition plan with 6 meals/day ready for February. If you’d like to take part in this experiment, send me an email with your email address by February 1 so I can add you as a collaborator on the shared spreadsheet.

Come on…tracking doesn’t get much easier than this–you only need to mark your chart if you HAVEN’T eaten on plan. Let’s make February a month of near (90%!) perfection!


I woke up this morning feeling a bit creaky from last night’s class. My calves and forearms (very unexpected) are in semi-DOMS condition already, but I felt peppy enough at 7:30 am to do a shoulder/back workout with Ashlee followed by 20 minutes of gymnastics practice covering the new moves I learned yesterday and my off-side (right arm leading) cartwheel. I think I have the power and strength to do most of the moves, but I need to develop more agility and control. As a side benefit of the PM/AM workouts, I have that beautiful “lean” sensation in my torso today that I normally only get following a run.

Gotta love it.

If I don’t donate blood today at lunch I am going to knock out my missed TT weights and core workouts or sub in a round of Rodney Yee’s Yoga Conditioning for Athletes on DVD at home tonight. I think the capoeira class more than made up for the TT intervals I would have done.

I weighed in at 141.8 lbs this morning with a bf% of 20.9% according to the Omron and a drop of 1% on the Tanita. Not too shabby considering I’ve been cutting at such a high intake level (1800-1900 on average) compared to past efforts. I should have reset my metabolism 2 years ago. It sure makes both lifting heavier AND subsequently dropping fat a lot easier.

I have measurements and pics again on Saturday, so I am shooting for just one cheat during this work week, with my remaining two available for AFTER photos.

TT W5D1: Capoeira Class!

I just got back from my first 2 hour after-work capoeira class. Wow…what a fantastic full body workout!

I started researching local martial arts schools a few weeks ago when I finally accepted the facts that a) my fiance’s martial arts school was too far away from my office for me to get there on time for the 7:00 pm adult evening class, and b) it would drive me INSANE to have Chris telling me what to do in a physical activity-based environment.

Small of me, but true, I’m afraid.

So I looked online for some alternatives that were closer to my workplace so I could go on the way home. One chain school offered Tae Kwon Do, karate and Krav Maga and was relatively close by. Another more traditional Chinese style school seemed to focus on Kung Fu. And there was even a Brazilian jiu jitsu school available.

However, none of them was as close to work or as interesting to me from a physical challenge standpoint as the Brazilian capoeira school that was a mere block away from the old location of my company. Who knew?

I checked out a class on Friday night to get a feel for what skills the students eventually developed, and was extremely impressed by the gymnastics, movement, and dodging skills I saw. Every student I met was very open and friendly, and the atmosphere was very informal compared to what I’ve observed at my fiance’s more traditional Korean moo doe school where much bowing and serious expressions are the standard. At the capoeira school, I was introduced to the other students and got a hug from each one as they introduced themselves using their capoeira nicknames. I also met their Mestre Lazaro who invited me to try a free class out this week.

I gave the evening class a shot tonight because I believe in jumping into any program while my interest is at its highest. Also, I hadn’t done my TT workout or intervals this morning, so I needed to get some kind of exercise in before going to bed.

We did drills for most of the class after a pretty rapid and heart rate raising ballistic stretch sequence and follow-the-leader around the room run (forward, backwards, and sideways). The drills included lots of kick variations but also a LOT of basic gymnastics moves–cartwheels, a modified backward cartwheel from a squat position, handstands, etc. Very fun and challenging! Then there were ginga/kick drills based on the students’ skill levels followed by free form sparring in the roda circle.

The difficulty level of the class was medium-high if you actually performed all of the exercises correctly and didn’t sit anything out. I never quite ran out of steam or found any of the beginner level moves completely impossible, but I went in already able to do a cartwheel (leading with either arm, and also one-handed), several years of regular high intensity cardio, and more upper body strength than the average female. My biggest issue was with remembering when and which leg to kick in the ginga drills.

Still, I don’t think this is a martial art for the couch potato.

Anyhow, I’m looking forward to taking two classes a week as a substitute for boring machine cardio as well as an alternate form of flexibility and strength training combined. I think I’ve finally found a martial art that will take advantage of all the strength I’ve built up in a functional way instead of allowing it to atrophy as I’ve seen in less acrobatic disciplines. The more laid-back attitude of the school also suits me better than the formality of the other systems I’ve seen. I feel like no knowledge or skill is withheld from lower cordel students. If you feel that you can handle something, most likely a higher cordel student would be happy to help you with it.

Besides, when you advance in capoeira, you get to learn how to play the traditional capoeira instruments and SING. And the uniform for the girls (hipster loose-legged pants and cropped sport tank top) is much cuter than the usual karate gi worn in the Asian disciplines. Shoot, I default to a similar outfit whenever I’m at home anyway! And don’t forget the aerials and back handsprings! Karaoke, sweat-wicking uniform PLUS a kickass workout!


TT W4D5: My Cats On A Diet

I posted a while back that at their last check up, both of my feline kids were given the fluffy tag by their vet, and she wasn’t talking about their fur coats. I was given an instruction sheet explaining the importance of maintaining a healthy weight for my cats and why it was optimal to feed them small, set portions broken up into at least 3 servings a day.

Yes, indeed–Body-for-Life for Cats.

So Chris and I switched from free feeding to twice a day feedings about 12 hours apart at 6-6:30 am when I woke up, and again at 5 pm when Chris got home from work. This was all right initially while we were finishing up the bag of regular Purina One Salmon and Rice Adult Cat formula, but after I switched to the lower calorie density Purina One Weight Control formula, my younger cat Neville started to get hungry in the middle of the night. This resulted in him hopping up to my nightstand each and every morning between 4:30-5:30 am and poking or scratching me on any exposed bit of flesh he could reach, usually my shoulder or arm, until I groggily crawled out of bed to dump the morning ration of cat food into the two bowls in the kitchen.

Then I would crawl back into bed and attempt to fall back to sleep for another 1-2 hours. Chris, of course, never noticed any of this because he sleeps like the dead and Neville NEVER tried to wake HIM up.


Meanwhile, I haven’t had a full night of uninterrupted sleep in my own bed for the past two months.

I finally threw in the towel last week when Neville actually had the gall to do his breakfast puncture wound routine on me at 3:30 AM.

3:30 AM!!!!

I started researching automatic pet feeders that day.

Most of the models on Amazon.com and online had very poor or uneven reviews. Almost all of them were:

a) flimsy/poorly constructed – My cats are 12-14 pound bruisers. They would destroy one of these in a day.
b) battery-operated – I wanted one that could be used while Chris and I are away without fear of the batteries dying and the kids being left to starve, so an AC model was preferred.
c) unable to serve the very small portions needed
d) unable to do more than one or two feeding cycles a day
e) not feline secure – Cats could reach into the feeder and manually dig more food out whenever they wanted

They were also pretty darn expensive for such mediocre products–$50-$80 on average.

I was bummed. Nothing with decent ratings fit the bill.

Then I saw a recommendation for a commercial quality feeder in the comments for one of the pet market models on Amazon.com and clicked over to Super-Feed.com to check it out.

It was recommended by K9 dog trainers and used by government labs. The original model was designed to be mounted outdoors to drop food into koi ponds, which meant that it could withstand some serious physical abuse. It could dump out as little as a few pellets each feeding cycle, and was completely adjustable. It ran on a separate household lamp timer, so I could set as many feeding cycles as needed. It plugged into the wall, so I wouldn’t need to replace batteries every 2 weeks. The design prevented any paws from entering the food hopper. There was an optional 1.5 gallon hopper extension!

Super-Feeder with 1.5 Gallon Hopper

I was half in love with this gadget already. I clicked on the online store link.

OMG! $99.95 for the bundle with the feeder, 1 quart hopper, stainless steel bowl, and timer!



I dawdled. I deliberated. I checked my budget. I consulted two friends.

I thought about a lifetime of either being a bad cat mommy and letting my boys get fat, or the alternative of NEVER GETTING A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP AGAIN.

I paid the $99.95.

The unit arrived on Friday, and Chris built a homemade stand and pedestal for it Sunday. It was indeed well-constructed, came with all the mounting hardware needed to hook it up to our own 2×4 and flat board, and only took a few minutes to calibrate. The timer was set up in even less time.

The boys now dash into the kitchen as soon as they hear the clink of food pellets hitting their bowls every 6 hours at 4 am, 10 am, 4 pm, and 10 pm. Ah yes, the sweet sound of automation!

I have slept like a rock from 11 pm to 6:30 am all week long.

That Super Feeder was soooooooo worth it. I’m going to order the add-on 1.5 gallon hopper next week.

Too bad nobody has come up with a 40/30/30 macro People Pellet food that tastes like cereal. I want a Super Feeder for myself at my desk. :prop:

50% Off Keyoe’s Diet and Exercise Assistant (New Code)

I just received another email with a new 50% off code good on all three versions of Keyoe’s Diet and Exercise Assistant 7.0 software for Palm OS, Windows Mobile, or Windows XP.

50% Discount Code: 9FC9A43A

You must go through Keyoe.com in order to use the code.

Trial downloads of all three versions are available at the site as well. I use DEA daily to track my workouts and food on my Treo 650. It’s just easier to use than an online food log like Fitday, and with the new Favorites and Recipe features, it’s a snap to log my meals. I felt like the upgrade from V. 5 to V. 7 was well worth it.

Opportunity for the skinny folks…

If you or someone you know fits into the skinny, ectomorphic, hardgainer, “I can’t put on muscle no matter what I do, WAH!” category and would like to take part in a T-nation muscle gain program designed by T-nation contributors Mike Roussell and Chad Waterbury, check out Mike’s post about their Hardgainer Project. They will select just one volunteer to follow their customized supplementation, nutrition, and training program, and said individual’s progress will be profiled on T-nation for all to admire.

TT W4D4: Training and nutrition update time!

Calories have been in the 1800-2000 range so far this week. I’m still easing my way back down to a consistent 1800-1850 or so per day for the first two weeks of my cut. However, I have already dropped off some of the cake and pie-induced water weight from this weekend. I am down to 143 (Sunday weigh in was 144.4) this morning with a lot less poof in the belly.

TT Warm Up Circuit x 2

TT Phase 2 Workout B
A1) BB Bench Press (3×8 @ 105 lbs)
A2) BB Romanian Deadlift (3×8 @ 95 lbs)
B1) Underhand Seated Row (3×8 @ 90 lbs)
B2) Stability Ball Leg Curl (3×15)

Core Workout B
A1) Ab Curl-up (2×12)
A2) 1-leg Hip Extension (2×10)
B1) Stability Ball Jackknife (2×8)
B2) Side Plank (2×6 per side)

Bike Sprints (10 minutes total for warm up/cooldown + 6 sets of level 12 (60 seconds)/level 8 (30 seconds) intervals

Notes: Pretty good workout, though I think I need to bump up my resistance on my interval bike sprints.

TT Warm Up Circuit x 2

Shoulder workout
DB Overhead Shoulder Press (15/12/10 reps @ 20 lbs)
DB Bent Arm Side Raise (18/15/12/10 reps @ 10 lbs)
DB Upright Row (15/12/20 reps @ 15, 15, 20 lbs)
Machine Rear Delt Flye (18/15/12/10 reps @ 30, 30, 30, 35 lbs)

Notes: Ouch. I haven’t done this workout in over 2 months, so I had to drop my weights a little since I haven’t done these exercises in a while. Major DOMS coming up. Took my glutamine to stave off some of the pain.

TT Warm Up Circuit x 2

TT Phase 2 Workout A
1a) BB Squat (3×8 @ 125, 125, 125 lb)
1b) Eccentric Chin Ups (3×8 @ bodyweight; 5 seconds down)
2a) DB Split Squat (3×8 @ 40 lb)
2b) DB Incline Bench Press (3×8 @ 35, 35, 40 lb)

Core A
1a) Ab Curl Up (2×10 w/5 second hold at top of curl)
1b) Side Plank (2×4 on each side; hold 10 sec)
2a) Bird Dog (2×6 on each side; hold 5 sec)
2b) Plank (2×30 sec)

Bodyweight Circuit (x 5 w/ 1 minute rest between sets)
– Squat Thrust/Burpees (30 sec)
– Jumping Jacks (30 sec)
– Mountain Climbers (30 sec)
– Squat Jump (20 sec)

Notes: The bodyweight circuit kicked my ass. I barely had any power left in my legs by the time I got to the squat jumps in each circuit. Also, I did too many eccentric chins again. For some reason I always think I need to do 8, when the program only calls for 5.

Upper Body Circuit with Trainer
– Arnold Press (3 x 15 @ 15 lbs)
– Close-hand seated row (1 x 15 @ 85 lbs)
– Rear Delt Cable Rope Pull (3 x 15 @ 80 lbs)
– Weighted Hyperextensions (3 x 15 @ 15 lbs)
– Travelling 3 point push-ups (3 x 10)
– DB Front-Side Raise (3 x 15 @ 10 lbs)

Yourself Fitness Flexibility (60 minutes)

Notes: My shoulders were still sore from my shoulder workout on Tuesday, so I felt like this workout was tougher than it probably would be normally. YF Flex was fun–my cat hung out with me as usual when I was twisted into all the funny poses.

TT W4D2: Is Skeletal In?

Eep…I thought my PT session was 7:30 as usual, but when I looked at my Treo this morning at 7:20, an accusing 7:00 AM reminder was blinking at me.


I went to the gym anyway since I’d promised Miss Ashlee that I would bring a copy of my diet to her and worked shoulders by myself using Kim’s program from last year. I had to drop 2.5-5 lbs on most of the exercises since I haven’t been working shoulders directly for a while, but all in all, I had a very good workout. My deltoids are already getting sore. I can’t wait until I can see muscle definition on my arms again. I’m pretty sure I have some shoulders under the subcutaneous fluff, but I won’t know for sure until I drop to at least 17% body fat.

I still need to do at least 30 minutes of flexibility training today, but I figure I can knock that out tonight after I stop by the grocery store on the way home from work. I need something to do while waiting for the laundry to finish cycling through. 🙂

Yesterday was week 4 of TT for Women. My bench press is still pretty wimpy at 105 lbs for 8 reps, but I think I will be moving up to 110 next week. I got two reps at 115, but couldn’t sustain it for the full set. Intervals were done on the stationary bike, and TT core B was finished in the evening while watching Heroes.

(I looooooooooove Heroes. :prop: )

Then I checked the shows I’d recorded on the DVR and decided to watch the Extreme Skinny Celebs special on the chick cable station WE. All the usual suspects were featured: Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Terri Hatcher, Posh Spice (sorry…can’t remember her real name), Ginger Spice (ditto), Nicole Kidman, Mary-Kate Olsen, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Calista Flockheart…and a few others whose names escape me because I only remember faces and don’t pay much attention to actresses and actors in any case. 😉

Some of the photos they showed were beyond scary. My best friend in elementary school and middle school was born with cystic fibrosis, a condition which caused her body to produce abnormally thick mucus in large quantities in her lungs and digestive system. This prevented her from digesting food properly, and she spent her entire 17 years of life frighteningly thin and frail because her body simply wasn’t absorbing most of the food she ate. Some of the women in the special (Hatcher, Olsen, and Lohan in particular) reminded me of my friend. As one of the psychologists on the program said, there is a marked difference between being naturally thin and being malnourished or anorexic. In recent years, a lot of the stars listed above seem to have crossed the line back and forth a few times.

I will stick to eating lots of healthy food, resistance training, and HIIT cardio, methinks. Hollywood’s parade of she-skeletons has never been my physical ideal.