Thanksgiving Reloaded

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and once again I cannot understand the big hullabaloo that surrounds the traditional foods served on this holiday. In my 32 years of life, I have never had an American style Turkey Day meal that I would consider above mediocre, especially considering how much time, effort, and expense is invested in preparing the dishes. I highly suspect that the happy glow of being with seldom-seen family members sort of transfers over to the very average eats, lending them a patina of yumminess that they do not actually possess.

(T-day eats in my parents’ Taiwanese household, however, kick ass. They toss all Western holiday tradition out the window and go for Korean bulgogi barbecue on the hibachi, Japanese style seafood Shabu-Shabu hotpot with thinly-sliced beef, shrimp, lobster, shitake mushrooms and veggies, sushi, king crab legs, and the occasional filet mignon.)

Frankly, the only American Thanksgiving staple I enjoy is the sweet potato, and this is often not even present. I find everything else on the usual Thanksgiving menu to be pretty uncreative and boring (Ooh, slabs of dry turkey or ham with salty goop made from fat drippings or a mix packet on top! Scoops of potato with the same salty goop on top! Wow! Corn straight from the can with butter on top!) or downright gross (All casseroles: mushy, congealed green bean casserole — which is usually the ONLY non-starchy vegetable option on the table — equally congealed mac-and-cheese casserole, or cheesy scalloped potato casserole. Is there no end to the things that Westerners can find to chuck into a pan with a block of cheese and a can of cream or soup and bake until semi-solid and unrecognizable?).

Now that I have sufficiently panned traditional Thanksgiving dinner food, here’s what I would make instead:

– Pumpkin crab soup
– Pan-fried pork/veggie dumplings with chili garlic dipping sauce
– Moo Shu Turkey crepe wraps with veggies and plum sauce (WW recipe)
Stir-fried salt-and-pepper shrimp with grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, and tomatoes on skewers
– Baked seasoned sweet potato fries
– Green beans sauteed in olive oil with garlic
– Broccoli and bok choy in oyster sauce
– Apple, pear, and cranberry oatmeal crisp (WW recipe) with a scoop of Breyers butter pecan ice cream
– Pumpkin/zucchini bread (made with ground oats instead of flour)

(Will put up the rest of the recipes soon.)

What are you all doing for Thanksgiving? Are you cooking for your own family or playing guest? Will it be a traditional Thanksgiving spread for you or something a bit more creative?

11/8/07 Log: More fun with pushups

Two weeks until Thanksgiving! Who’s ready to step it up TEN notches and really kick butt for the next 14 days?

I am allowing myself just one planned semi-splurge meal until Turkey Day, and that is an early traditional T-day meal with DH’s mom on the 17th. Since my Trash the Dress session is the 18th and given my unshakable opinion that American T-day food is the most over-hyped meal in the world considering how bland and unappealing it always turns out to be, I doubt that I’ll be gorging myself.

Otherwise, it is going to be full on training and eating with a purpose, and that purpose is to see 134 pounds, four abs, and some back muscle definition on Nov. 23.

Extra cardio (on top of my baseline Shapeshift plan) starts today. I got my 45 minutes of YF done this morning along with 60/200 pushups. I plan to either add a 45 minute forza session to my lunch walk or hit the gym after work for some bike time.

Nutrition and cardio will be key in the next few weeks. I’ll be working out more on fewer calories, and I know that I will be hungry and grumpy about it. I have the most trouble with the munchies when I first get home from work each night, so I am establishing a 25 pushup policy in the evenings. As soon as I set my stuff down when I get home, I knock out 25 pushups to remind me that the day isn’t over until I am tucked into bed. If I step into the kitchen for anything other than meal prep, water, or meal 6, I do another 25 pushups. (Hey, I need to get my 200 per day somehow!) I don’t find pushups particularly difficult to do, but just the physical act of performing them before I open the fridge or pantry will give me a few moments to pause and think before I mindlessly reach for a box of cereal or a bag of popcorn.

Actually, I will also start filling up a 1/2 gallon pitcher with water when I get home, too, and keep it on the dining room table so I don’t actually need to step back into the kitchen for refills.

I know I sound a bit nuts, but I know myself well enough to realize that there is NO WAY I can keep out of the crunchy carbs at night with extra cardio unless I set up some major checks and balances for myself. With my work hours back to normal, I no longer have the side benefit of being physically 25 miles away from my pantry when the 8 pm munchies strike me, so I must figure out my own coping strategies.

This is going to be fun!

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WORKOUT
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– YF Upper body/cardio (45 min)
– Walk (15 min)
– Stationary bike (45 min)

11/7/07 Log: Pushup Push Program Start

The incipient cold seems to be going away thanks to all the sleep, water, and vitamin C. I was down another 0.6 lbs of water weight to 140.4 lbs this morning despite a sort of final hurrah to off-plan eats last night at the launch party. I had a small meal’s worth of appetizers at the party in lieu of meal 6, but at least I stuck with my usual ice water and lemon as a drink. I’m still 3 pounds over my low weight of last week at this point. I am confident that I’ll be back at 137 next Monday as long as I stick to my plan.

This morning’s relative PC Shapeshift workout featured unweighted single-leg reach and touch as the primary posterior chain exercise. What I learned while performing this exercise for max reps is that my balance is nearly as bad as my flexibility, and that is pretty bad! I seriously need to make yoga a regular part of my routine. Weights on DB flat chest press are back up to 40 lbs in each hand, and I consistently performed 6 chin-ups without stopping in the same superset. I did slow negatives for rep 7 and 8 in each set to finish it off.

I ran out of time for intervals, so I integrated them into my lunch time walk again. After walking one 0.75 mile loop around the office complex, I ran up eight flights of stairs to the empty top level of the parking garage and completed the following workout:

– Max pushup test (91 reps in 2 min – This is my baseline for the 2 week Pushup Push program which I am officially starting today. It should be noted that the first 60 reps of those 91 were completed within the first 70 seconds of my timed set. The remaining 31 reps went by a LOT slower.)

– 20 jumping jacks
– 9 pushups
– 20 jumping jacks
– 10 pushups
– 20 jumping jacks
– 20 pushups
– 20 jumping jacks
– 10 pushups
– 20 jumping jacks
– 20 pushups
– 20 jumping jacks
– 10 pushups
– 20 jumping jacks
– 15 pushups
– 20 jumping jacks
– 15 pushups
– 50 jumping jacks

Total: 200 pushups, 210 jumping jacks

I finished up with 12 walking lunges on each leg, then ran back down the stairs. I may start taking my bokken and MP3 player up there now that the weather is cooling down and work in some Forza practice at lunch in addition to or in place of my usual walk.

I plan to get in another 45 minute YF cardio workout tonight when I get home and 15 minutes of YF yoga in the Meditation Garden. This is to make up for one of the two missed 45 minute steady-state cardio sessions from last week and to get into the habit of doing some flexibility training EVERY day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

On the nutrition front, I am on track (high zigzag day) through meal 3 today, and the rest of my food is prepped and packed. I’m going to start supplementing with a tablespoon of l-glutamine again each evening before going to bed to help cut down on the DOMS from the Shapeshift, pushup, and chin up workouts. Shapeshift posterior chain exercises on Wednesdays and Fridays change EVERY week, so I never get a chance to adapt to them and wind up in a permanent state of lower body DOMS as a result.

I kind of like feeling a bit of muscle soreness because it lets me know that I worked the right muscle groups, but I don’t appreciate how it affects my performance in subsequent workouts!

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WORKOUTS
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– Shapeshift Relative PC workout (35 min)
– Walk (0.75 mi.) + Pushup/Jumping Jack/Stairs/Lunge Intervals (30 min)
– YF Cardio (45 min)
– YF Yoga (15 min)

11/6/07 Log: Going Turbo

I think I am getting a light cold. I’m mildly congested, and my throat is slightly sore. I’m vitamin bombing it with C and my usual multi and making sure I get plenty of fluids and sleep. With luck and care, it won’t turn into a full-blown cold.

141.0 this morning, down over 2 lbs of water from yesterday. Eats were pretty clean overall yesterday and within my calorie range, and water intake was right at 1 gallon, so go me. 🙂 I also wisely passed out early last night with a sinus headache while reading in bed (“Three Bags Full”, a mystery where the detectives are a flock of sheep trying to solve the murder of their shepherd). I woke up feeling much better this morning, so the extra sleep was probably needed.

This morning’s workout was a Yourself Fitness physical challenge (I dread the 2 minute jumping jack test every time. By the last 30 seconds of the test, you are doing 1 jumping jack per second, which is insanely fast. Try it sometime.) followed by a 30 minute YF cardio workout at home. I’ve been getting bored with the cardio machines at the gym and already ran yesterday, so breaking out the YF again was a nice change of pace. I’ve done 40 out of 200 pushups for today already and plan to do 8 more sets of 20 each throughout the work day. Actually, I still need to do my diagnostic 2 minute pushup set to see how many I can knock out now before I really kick into the program. I should be able to get that in during my lunch time walk and count those reps towards my 200 for the day.

One of the games I worked on this year, Call of Duty 4 for the Nintendo DS, was released yesterday, and there is a company launch party for it tonight at a downtown Orlando bar. There will be appetizers and drinks served, but I should be okay. I don’t do alcohol, and I’ll make sure to have my dinner salad before I go to keep the snacking impulse under control. 😉

I have only 12 more days before my Trash the Dress session, so I am officially going turbo starting tomorrow. That means 30 minutes of extra cardio on top of my baseline workout plan Mon-Sat, and strict adherence to the Phase 3 nutrition from my Body By O program which is a 1 day high, 2 days low zig zag plan with no dairy, wheat, or refined sugar. Simply put, if it’s not on the official menu, I’m not eating it. Cheat meals are down to one per week, with no cheat “item”.

And I WILL get up early enough to get all of my workouts done in the morning so I will have spare time at lunch and in the evening to study for my NASM certified personal trainer exam in January. I have already re-certified in adult CPR/AED and paid for the exam and the 3rd edition course materials, so I am committed.

Play time is over. There are only 8 weeks left in 2007, and I am going to ring in the New Year with my body composition and PT certification goals already checked off so I can focus on boosting athletic performance, increasing my net worth, improving my art skills, and teaching myself some PHP/MySQL programming.

11/5/07 Log: The Week in Review

Hey folks! I’m back!

Between my trip out to LA for my friend’s wedding the weekend before last and almost 4 full days of comp time from my company to celebrate getting our latest game title out the door and to the publisher for final approval, I’ve been offline longer than I expected. I kept up with my strength training while I was off the radar, but cardio and eating were a bit patchier, especially since I had given myself permission to have normally-forbidden candy during Halloween week. On the positive side, I finished four books that had nothing to do with fitness, work, cooking or finance – Yes, I actually read for fun! I feel as if my brain cells have received a much-needed injection of new vocabulary, artistic inspiration, and proof that there is still some vestige of creativity and sense in the world. Oh, and I also got a lot of house work done, brought the joy of karaoke to my hair dude Dante’s post-Halloween party Saturday night, and re-certified in Adult CPR/AED this weekend.

I weighed in this morning at an uber-bloated 143.4 thanks to TTOM water retention, higher-than-usual starchy carb consumption this past week (pretty much starting from my friend Susan’s Malibu rehearsal dinner and wedding – which also got injected with impromptu karaoke thanks to me and my writer friend and bridesmaid Emily – on 10/27 and 10/28 and extending all the way through yesterday), and my allotted week of Halloween candy, but I recorded it on my calendar anyway. I’m offsetting the high weigh-in with a pledge to cast off eight pounds of extraneous fluff by the end of November. (I figure that three or four pounds are just H2O and will drop off by the end of this week with clean eats, daily cardio, and the end of TTOM.) I tossed out the remaining Halloween candy this morning since my free candy week is over.

Anyway, workouts are back in line, and the Shapeshift lifting routine continues to challenge my hamstrings, glutes, and back, which is quite awesome. I am pleasantly sore from the BB sumo squats I did Saturday; I only used 135 lbs, but I wanted to focus on form before moving the weight up more. I’m also getting into the habit of doing as many chin-ups as possible every time I walk into my bedroom. (We have an over-the-door chin-up bar set up in that doorway.) I figure this won’t take up much time, and maybe I will end this UC being able to do 10 in a row. I’m up to 5 consistently and 6 every once in a while. I’m also going to do the Spartan run workout for time once a week for the next 4 weeks to see if I improve.

And, er, as a bonus personal challenge I plan to do Stew Smith’s Pushup Push routine for 10 days just to keep things interesting. You start off by seeing how many pushups you can do in 2 minutes before you start the program. Then on ODD days, you do 200 pushups in as few sets as possible all in one session. On EVEN days, you do 200 pushups throughout the day in your choice of sets/reps. After 10 days, you rest for 3 days, then take another diagnostic 2 minute pushup test to see how you’ve improved.

Fun times!

I forgot to mention that I didn’t have time to get in my SS workout this morning, so in penance I turned my usual 15 minute lunch walk into a 30 minute TT interval session of walk/sprint just now. Thank goodness the weather has cooled down enough for me to get away with this. I feel less like a lazy bum now, and as a bonus, my hamstrings and glutes feel a LOT better after the activity. The DOMS from Saturday was starting to get annoying.

I also want to say that sprinting is much more fun outdoors than on a treadmill, and that English muffins with honey, peanut M&Ms, Take 5 snack size candy bars, and big bowls of spaghetti are apparently the equivalent of rocket fuel to my riceburner of a body, because I was FAST today.

Okay, okay…I’m back on the nutrition wagon now. No more boxed cereal or processed carbs outside of my two scheduled cheats (and no more ice cream or candy at all) until the end of the challenge. I’ve had a week of eating la vida loca, and THAT is enough for me.

I’ll get the lifting done tonight. I’ll check how busy the gym is first. Even when it’s packed, at least one of the two squat racks is usually free, so I should be able to do my warm up, max effort deadlift, and maybe the cable exercises in the routine there. Since the interval portion is already done, the workout should only take me 35 minutes or so to complete.

As far as my various challenge goals go, here’s my progress:

1. Complete 100% of my planned workouts.
In progress; so far so good. I have completed every planned workout, although some have been belated.

2. Lose 8 lbs of fat by adhering to my nutrition 95% of the time (2 cheats per week).
In progress. I will need to hit 134-135 lbs by the end of November and 130-132 lbs by Dec. 31 to meet this goal.

3. Pay off all remaining credit card balances from the wedding.
In progress but pretty much complete. I have budgeted for the two remaining payments on my Discover card and will be free of wedding debt (and all revolving debt) by January 10, 2008. Beyond that, I have also made a plan to get our household completely debt-free except for the mortgage (I still owe 4k on my Camry, Chris has around 12k in student loans for his MBA to pay off, and we have a 3k HELOC balance that we racked up paying for our new AC system) by August 2009 with a $10,000 emergency fund in place by December 31, 2009. We are both saving quite a lot for retirement already (22% for me and 15% for DH), so we will be in great financial shape in just two years!

4. Draw and post one new drawing each week here and in my blog.
Ugh! Failed miserably to keep this promise to myself due to my horrible work crunch the past 2 months. I will extend this goal through 12/31 and start to draw and post art work this week.

5. Complete the Runner’s World Beginner 5k training plan in weeks 2-6(See below) and run in the U Can Finish 2 or 5 miler at the U. of Central Florida on 10/21.
COMPLETE! Finished EVERY workout in the 5k training plan and ran the UCF 2-miler in 17:45 on 10/21

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WORKOUTS
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– Outdoor Walk/Sprint Intervals (30 min)
– SS Max PC Day (35 min)
– 200 pushups in one session