September wrap up

Six weeks until Marin Tri! After 2 months of HIIT training 2-3x a week, I feel totally strong! Everything feels easier, including bike handling. I ran a 10k race and half marathon the past few days and did well even though my mileage is low. My running legs are well-developed but then the upper body is flab. So to balance it out In July I started the TRX again, then August and September the 1 hour HIIT & Plyo class at the gym. I  highly recommend Gaby's class at Fitness SF. I also recommend a local boot camp group Body by HYZ. John is a fun coach and participants are mostly members of GGTC and is donation based for KEEN SF. This put me in a much better spot for my tri training and now building up the endurance for 2 hours will be a piece of cake. I'm able to keep an 8 min per mile pace for my 10k and under 9:30 min per mile pace for the half marathon. The HIIT training is cardio and there are lots of fast runners in the class. I learned HIIT (complex circuits) is great for overall fitness, performance, weight loss and strength, but if you're looking to build big muscles for aesthetic purposes then a more traditional weight lifting program is needed. Also, I don't think I would combine that type of training with HIIT, but this is great for endurance athletes looking to build strength and power. It will make you sore. In the past I would taper off my strength training as race day gets closer, but this time I will keep it going and make my training strength focused. It is hard to get started with HIIT but if you stick with it becomes much easier. I found if I cut back on the cardio and add it in later after a couple weeks into it is better. Soon, you will have lots of energy and will be able to do more than you ever thought you could!

Here is the tentative triathlon training schedule:

Plus at least 50 miles a week bike commuting on road bike

I try to save my energy for the strength training session and if I'm going to do additional cardio to do it afterward or another day. For the spin brick I will combine it with a swim or a run after, then also throw in a mini-tri where I do all three. Friday will be flexible and depends on what happens on the other days! I am keeping a carb day on Saturday, and HFLC on the rest of the days (low carb around 50 grams net and sugar free) and carbiest foods at night. It is usually starchy carbs such as sweet potato or squash. This works for me and helps me with weight management and energy levels. I have type 2 diabetes in my family history so I can easily ignore the naysayers. Happy Training!

HIIT Training Exercises: These barbell complexes are really effective, especially combined with Plyo.


Hunger Challenge Wrap-up

The Hunger Challenge is over for me, I ran out of food. As the week progressed I realized I could eat a little more then on the last day I just went for broke. I was happy! I survived on chicken and cabbage. Oddly enough, my weight remained the same. I have been strength training to build muscle, so that could be a reason.

S Health

Technically there were a bunch of pantry items from the list left but I didn't eat them. I can see myself bartering these foods to others for things that I do want, and I know that happens. There is a lot of emotion that can get stirred up from food insecurity. It can be depressing, which is why I think it can be useful to do this challenge to see what I can learn from it and bring to the table.

What I learned:
  • I learned which stores have the best deals! I took notes while shopping. I even found a better place to get birdseed for my parakeets.
  • You can get more meals out of a whole chicken. I will take advantage of this. Homemade chicken broth is delicious.
  • Organic food costs a little more per pound but if I wanted that on my budget I had to eat less or choose from the Clean 15 list.
  • After looking at my nutritional profile I might have to find some pantry foods that would help me fill in the gaps or take a multivitamin. Calcium and iron are challenging even without the budgetary restrictions. It is better to get vitamins from whole food.
  • I was able to continue exercising. It helped keep me going.
  • On a tight budget the initial grocery and menu planning takes a lot of effort and hunting for the best deal. After that, I stopped thinking about food. There was not much to think about because I ate the same thing every day. It's hard to get variety into your diet and it's not very exciting, It's just about getting through the day and focusing on other things. After a while I might get creative and resourceful and try some new recipes.
  • It would be best to buy food with the whole month's grocery money rather than just one week. This would give me a little more room to add variety, spices and buy in bulk on some things which is less expensive in the long run.
  • Though I'm not wealthy I can definitely afford to share a Meal a Month. It is something I can do for my elderly neighbors that I see standing in line at the church around the block to get food.


Tour de Tahoe 2015

Tour de Tahoe
Bike Big Blue!
Tour de Tahoe was a really great destination ride! I had been looking forward to it all year. It was a bit hazy from wildfire season which was disturbing and kind of grayed everything out but the air quality was alright. Six hours of cycling around the lake. The climbs were very manageable with some fast descents. There were several areas of the road under construction but they were well marked. The ride had great support and aid stations. We had sandwiches for lunch and a post-ride taco party.  I had 3 shots of UCAN with me and grazed less at the aid stations. Though I have done longer distances, this felt like a great accomplishment. I enjoyed biking around a huge body of water at altitude with hundreds of other cyclists and spent the weekend at the lake.

At the state line they have a bunch of casinos, shopping & food. Down by the south lake there is kayaking, paddle-boarding and every kind of outdoor recreation you can imagine. Great place for a vacation, even if just for the weekend. I look forward to doing this again on a clear day when the lake is sparkling.

When I found out about the Valley Fire that weekend, I was shocked. Very saddening devastation. There are several ways to help.

Hunger Challenge Update

I'm in the middle of the SF Marin Food Bank Hunger Challenge and feeling better about it than the first few days. It is kind of a shock at first to slash your caloric intake by almost half and ration and measure smaller portions of food. I didn't know if I would be able to keep my exercise schedule up but so far so good. I even did HIIT yesterday.

Let's check-in to see how the nutrition profile looks:


1600 calories?! I don't think that is enough for me. I was hungry on the first 2 days but by Wednesday I was starting to get used to it. I found out that I had a little more chicken I could add to my lunch and I can double up on my chicken broth for the rest of the week! Also, I delayed eating my lunch that extra hour or two so I could get through the afternoon. I guess I should have looked at my inventory little more closely. I was so worried that I wouldn't have enough that I skimped out on the first few days. I also added a slice of melon as an afternoon snack, so that gives me a whopping 23 calories and vitamins A & C. For 5 days I don't feel the need to fill up on rice, beans and potatoes but after several weeks it might be different story. When we were little, sometimes that is all we had when our parents were between paychecks. The problem with the carbs or anything with sugars is it just makes me crave more carbs and I will get more hungry. Filling up on high fiber nutrient-dense vegetables is better. My iron levels are already borderline and this is not cutting it. I like my macros, though. I could use more fats. An avocado and some cheese would be good, or bacon. I'm missing my coconut oil and hemp oil and omega 3s. I also miss my giant green salads. I guess I would have to grow my own if I could. I could also make my own yogurt for a lot less.


I did find some recipes I could make with my ingredients, but I'm missing out on all the spices and herbs. If I had ginger, I would make steamed cabbage and chicken-stuffed cabbage rolls with grated carrot and peanut (peanut butter) sauce. Roasted cabbage steaks slathered in garlic sauce sound pretty good. How about a crunchy cole slaw with yogurt as the dressing? I found a recipe for Slow Cooker Cabbage "Pasta" in the Ketogenic Cookbook I could make also. Good thing I like cabbage! Another book I found helpful for this week was Wildly Affordable Organic Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy ad Save the Planet, all on $5 or less.


Eating on $4.50 a day - Hunger Challenge

I'm taking the SFM Food Bank Hunger Challenge for 5 days to help spread awareness about food insecurity during Hunger Action Month. By eating on $4.50 a day (value of food stamp benefits) plus the items in the pantry box list from the food bank, I am experiencing what it's like for someone who barely has enough to eat. I love food and do not take it for granted, but it's been a long time since I had to budget or ration my food. I come from a low income family and there were times when we did not have a lot to eat and used food stamps. In grade school we were often on the school lunch program, and even the school breakfast program, so I'm not just doing this for kicks. It's a serious issue.

My goal is to see if there is a way to eat healthy, nutritious and possibly organic meals on a tight budget and learn what I can along the way. I just tried to eat closely to the way I am used to eating which I found to be optimal for me, which is mostly vegetables and fat with some meat, no added sugar and very little carbs. I already base my diet around a produce box delivery from my CSA that I can customize. I had to do some research at different grocery stores and hunt down the deals. Safeway and Trader Joe's seemed to provide the most affordable options.

With my $22.50 budget I bought a 4lb chicken (Rocky), 1 cabbage (organic), 1 yogurt (organic), some peanut butter (organic valencia peanuts), butter (kerrygold) and a box of tea. The pantry box for an individual comes with onions, potatoes, carrots, oranges, apples, nectarines, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, white rice and 6 eggs. Let's say I'm on a low glycemic diet to manage diabetes, then half of this box is not good for me to eat unless I'm able to balance out the glycemic load with ample proteins and fats. So I will just keep the onions, carrots, strawberries, eggs and a little watermelon or cantaloupe. It would be nice to be able switch out the potatoes for sweet potatoes. Some of the items were seasonally available in my Farm Fresh to You CSA box, except the strawberries. They were also out of those delicious Yellow Doll watermelons.

I think the pantry box can be customized for special diets. In that case, I would swap out the fruit sugars for some celery, parsley, zucchini and leafy greens! I usually eat about 6 cups a day of vegetables, so it is really tough not to. With a tight budget, you don't get a lot of variety. I just planned to eat the same thing every day. Here is what I am eating:

Hot buttered tea. Yes, butter is my strategy to not get so hungry! I'm used to drinking coffee with butter and coconut oil, so this is the low-budget version.
Butter .20 cents a tablespoon / Tea 4 cents
3 cups max

Breakfast: This is intended to be a post-workout breakfast of plain yogurt and fruit. This is what I would normally eat after my workout, except I would add some protein powder. Sometimes I will have a veggie omelet. I skipped the first day and had an egg instead, which makes the portions larger for the other days.
.82 cents a serving and the strawberries came in the pantry box

Gotta have a snack! I can't be expected to do the Warrior Diet. Have a carrot and some peanut butter. This is what I would normally eat except celery instead and almond butter or nuts. I usually have 2 snacks but can't afford to with this plan.
12 cents a tablespoon, carrot from the pantry box.
4 T max per day, and I am going to eat it!

Lunch: I know it doesn't look exciting but it is really delicious! A cup of chicken soup that I made from the bones and leftovers of the roast chicken and a hard-boiled egg. I cooked the soup for 24 hours on the slow cooker and made sure to reincorporate the drippings from the pan that had most of the gelatin and add butter to that also. I used some onions, one carrot and a carrot top in the soup to add flavor. This is not something I would normally eat for lunch, maybe a snack. I usually have a huge salad with some fish.
Butter .20 cents a tablespoon, egg from the pantry box. The chicken is accounted for in dinner.

Dinner: 4oz Roasted Chicken, Cabbage (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups) and onions sauteed in chicken fat and drippings (rendered from the cooking). This is what I would normally have for dinner, except maybe fish or grass-fed beef and more variety in the vegetables. I managed to get seven 4oz servings from a 4lb chicken, plus all the soup! I have some extra to add to my soup for lunch.
Chicken 1.13 / Cabbage .52 cents, onions from the pantry box

Dessert: Watermelon popsicles or cantaloupe wedge. I try to limit my sugar and fruit carbs to 1/2 to 1/4 c servings. I usually have some cottage cheese with or without fruit or coconut cream as a dessert, depending on what I need that day.
pantry box

Total: $3.87 a day

June in Pictures

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