Holistic Eating - Part 1

I'm no dietary or nutrition expert, so please take any information with a grain of (sea) salt. I read an article a while ago about holistic eating for athletes and I was intrigued. After we returned from vacation, it seemed like a good time to try it out. So we've been slowly purging our pantry and fridge of processed foods and switching to healthier alternatives. I'm no purist - I have no intention of giving up caffeine or alcohol completely but I think almost everyone has room to improve his or her diet.

Here's the rules:
  1. No processed or refined carbs like flour, pasta, sugar, etc.
  2. No pre-packaged meals or meals out of boxes, including cereal. *Gasp!*
  3. Limited meat. Grass fed instead of traditionally raised.
  4. Lots of fruits and veggies.
  5. Lots of beans and whole grains.

We made a few other changes to our food as well. We decided to switch to organic apples and peppers, Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt and bison instead of beef. I prefer bison anyway, it's always grass fed, has lower fat naturally, and I think it tastes better.

The verdict so far: good. Our groceries are more expensive, but we're eating out less, so our actual food cost hasn't changed. We don't have any easy crap in the pantry, so we're snacking less as well. And the garden and abundance of in-season produce is making this easier than expected.

But it is more work and planning for meals. I gave up cereal cold-turkey and John has given up his favorite meal of chili mac with hot dogs (could you find a meal more artificially processed??) I need to eat more often since carrots, cucumbers, apples and berries don't really last through a whole afternoon. I'm trying to bring more food in to work so I can eat at my desk throughout the day. It can be inconvenient when I'm in a meeting all afternoon and can't eat.

We've been doing this for almost a month now and we are not strict with this by any means. We're just trying to make permanent changes to how we shop and eat. I will say I've noticed an increase in energy. Another side affect: we grilled out last Friday night and I ate a brat, which promptly made me nauseous. Too bad, I really enjoy the occasional brat even though I know they're not exactly a health food. Don't worry, it was boiled before it was grilled, so it wasn't a raw meat issue.

I'm going to try to share recipes as I go. We made a turkey/bison meatloaf, bison chili, fish tacos, catfish ceveche (sp?), and pictured below, black bean and corn couscous salad.

I made the salad up on the fly, so all amounts are approximations. Feel free to adjust to taste. It's a cold salad, so it's great for picnics, too. And seriously delicious.

1-1.5 cup dry couscous, cooked to directions
1 can black beans, drained and well rinsed
1 cup corn
1 red peppers, chopped to about the same size as the corn and beans
1/4 cup jalapeno, finely chopped (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

Fluff couscous with fork, let cool. Mix all ingredients. Add dressing and mix again. Salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add more cilantro and jalapeno as well. Chill for several hours before serving.


Hot Hot Hot!

Oh man, summer is here in full force! It had been in the mid- to upper-90s, high humidity and heat indices in the 100s. Phew! I'm sweating just thinking about it!

The good thing about the heat is that it has inspired me to get back in the pool. It's just too darn hot after work for much else. My morning runs with KM have been miserable, even at 5:15 in the morning. The only bright spot was my weekend brick with MO and one of the Jaybirds. We did 40 miles and then ran two. I felt fantastic during the ride. The run was a little sticky and in full sun, no one really wanted any more than 2 miles.

Between the heat and thunderstorms, it's been a little hard to get consistently good workouts in. I was going to swim tonight, but the lightning flashing in the skylights is telling me to keep my butt inside tonight. I needed a rest day anyway. I actually had a good weekend, 40 mile ride/2 mile run Saturday morning, and an evening 5k race Saturday night followed by WAY too much cheap beer (but it was cold! I mean really, really cold!). Actually, even though I was just running for fun with yet another Jaybird, I ended up 15th in my AG out of 170+ and she was 10th in her AG. Not bad for wanting to puke the entire last mile! Then a 20 mile ride on Sunday and 5 miles of "speed work" Monday morning. I use the term speed work here very generously.

I should probably take advantage of being forced indoors to *finally* put my training plan on paper. One of these days, I swear I am going to seriously train for a race and see what I can do. Until then, I think I'm getting pretty good at faking it! Ha!


DIY Bike Maintenance - Cable Replacement

As all cyclists know, proper maintenance of you bike is important. And if you rely on a LBS to do all of your maintenance, it can also get expensive. I've decided to at least learn the basics so I'm not relying on some guy several miles away to take 4 days and charge me $50 for a job that would take me less than an hour to do on my own, with no lost riding days. Thelma tends to have separation anxiety anyway.

Before NOLA, I noticed my front shifter cable was starting to fray. I've slowly been watching the deterioration of the cable, waiting until it had to be replaced. On my ride last weekend, it started making an unnatural screeching noise when I popped it up into the big chain ring. Between the banshee-like sound effects and the seriously frayed cable, I decided it was finally time to replace it.

Off to the LBS I go! (Where I also got a lead on a used Madone 5.2, size 52 WSD. Cross your fingers and pray for me that the deal works out.)

After John got his bike, he realized there was a reason I've been asking for a bike stand. We finally got one, and it has made my life much easier. Up you go, Thelma!

I pulled out my tools, degreaser, new parts, and put on some tunes. Ready to rock.

Here's the frayed wire before.

This was actually really easy. I made sure it was in the small chain ring, then removed the screw that clamps the cable in place. I took wire cutters and cut below the frayed cable so I wasn't pulling loose wire pieces through the cable housing. Then I removed the shifting lever so I could get at the top of the housing easier.

I used degreaser with a narrow nozzle to clean out the housing. I basically sprayed until it was dripping out the other side. Then I (carefully) blew air through the housing to force any crap out the back and help it dry. While it dried, I took off the bar tape from my aero bars and rewrapped the right side in melon green. I should have picked up another package so I could have done the bullhorns at the same time.

Once it was dry enough, I took the new cable and greased it. I threaded it through the shifting lever and into the housing, then replaced the shifting lever and tightening it down. The cable went through easy enough and I had plenty on the other side.

I tightened it down and shifted a few times to make sure it was working. I had to give it a little slack, but it went in easily. I clipped the cable off, put on a cap and crimped the end. Viola! Easy peasy.

After I cleaned up the grease and degreaser, I wrapped the left bar and took her out for a test ride. The shifter works well and the banshee screeching has disappeared. All in all, this took me less than an hour, and that included wrapping bars and waiting for the housing to dry.

This was an easy task and I would say anyone who knows how to use an allen wrench could do it. The bike stand definitely made the work more comfortable, and you should read your owner's manual before starting work you've never done. Mine had very basic instructions on how to replace a cable, which was all the information I needed. I asked a few basic questions at the bike shop and I didn't have a problem.

If you need to replace a cable, you may be able to get a leftover piece of cable for free from your LBS. If you do this, I have one recommendation. Before you try to thread the cable into the housing, make a clean cut on the end and solder the wire together or ask the LBS if they can solder the tip for you. When I tried to push the leftover cable through, one of the wires got caught on the narrow tube at the end of the housing and unravelled the wire. New cable comes with the end pre-soldered and the new cable went through without a problem.

Cost of the cable - $4.99. Doing your own maintenance - priceless.


Italy trip

No matter where the vacation, it's always good to come home. Unfortunately, I didn't get any running in. There was only one road that led into or out of the area we were staying at, and if you've ever been to the Itlaian countryside, you know the roads are narrow, winding, and dangerous. The beaches were rock, not sand and interrupted by large outcroppings. We did hike 8-10 miles up Monte Conero, but that was the only exercise we did.

On the bright side, I am totally relaxed and refreshed, even with the long flight back. One bag didn't show up (with 6 bottles of wine in it) but it arrived yesterday, fully intact and with all the contents.

Now that vacation is over, it's time to focus on other things. I signed up for Redman before we left, so on my list today is to sit down and make a training plan.

I'm also looking into holistic eating, after reading an article in Triathlete. I need to do some research and get recipes, but John is also on board. My plan is to slowly replace meals over a 2 week period and then do a full 30 days. It's going to be expensive and require a lot more planning, but I think it will be worth it. I will definitely be posting more on this to come. Any experience/insights/recipes are welcome!