Updates: I’m Too Slow for Zombies and My Food Doesn’t like Me Much, Either

This is the, “Fail,” part of my motto.

It was expected, since I just finished the, “Try,” portion.

The Zombies, Run! app and I aren’t speaking at the moment. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I have no complaints. I just can’t handle even that level of physical exertion at the moment. Meaning that when I got to the first “training” exercise and the coach told me to do 10 interval sets of 15 seconds slow running and 1 minute walking I only managed to get through half of them before my legs locked up so badly I couldn’t stand anymore. It is extremely disheartening to realize that you are unable to do something that is supposed to be for beginners. It’s a couch to 5k program, and it’s too much for me.

And that’s okay.

There isn’t actually anyway to find out where my starting point is without trial and error. It would be nice to be able to find someone with all the answers, but even if I could I’m not a “change my entire way of living overnight” kind of person. I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of much their advice anyway. This setback is actually a win because I found out that right now my focus needs to be on flexibility not endurance. I still need to move more, but I don’t need to move as far or as fast as I was trying to. I am still looking forward to getting to use the Zombies, Run! app once I’ve worked up to the point where interval training is an option.

To that end, and to help reset my sleep schedule, I had decided to try a “Morning Mile.” The idea is that you set your alarm for about dawn, roll out of bed, walk/jog/run a mile outside, and then go on about your day. It’s a way to sneak in a consistent amount of movement without having to over plan. The sun exposure provides vitamin D and, because of the time, helps to balance the Circadian rhythm. I’ve only managed to succeed at this twice though, and even though they were right after I woke up they were still well after dawn. A couple of things I’ve noticed; when you are experiencing insomnia and don’t manage to actually sleep until well after midnight waking up at 6 am is not necessarily the most intelligent decision, also, it is unwise to move quickly and consistently first thing in the morning if one is experiencing digestive distress as it may result in discomfort unrelated to muscle exertion. Take away: this may not be my answer either. The mile walk itself isn’t so bad, but the whole “at dawn” bit is throwing me off. I think I am going to have to find a different way to work on fixing my sleep.

Speaking of digestive distress, you remember that cabbage I roasted at the beginning of this week. Such sadness. It was so very, very tasty, but I finally had to admit that it was not agreeing with me. I actually debated finishing it anyway, but the effects seem to have been cumulative and by my third exposure the idea wasn’t sounding so grand. My food misfortune wasn’t over though. I’ve made lettuce boat tacos the last two nights, and they have been unhappy with me as well. The discomfort is not the same, so it’s likely the causative mechanism is different as well, but the end result is the same. I have discovered at least two foods that I am going to have to remove from my diet for the time being. The only problem is I can’t figure out what it was about the tacos that did it. They were super simple; ground beef, garlic, onion, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne powder wrapped in a Romaine leaf and topped with sharp cheddar. The short list of ingredients should make it easy to pick out the problem, but I’m still going to have to run some trial and error. I think the culprit was the spices, but there is very little research evidence to back this up. In fact, capsaicin (the chemical that makes chilies hot) is a potent anti-inflammatory that is often used to treat digestive distress! Chemically, the most likely culprits are the garlic, onions, or cheese, however, I eat all three regularly and haven’t noticed a problem before now. That means that I am going to have to find ways to isolate each of these ingredients to see if I can determine which one makes me sick. If I don’t succeed I’ll have to simply remove the entire dish from my diet. I really don’t want to do that if I don’t have to. These tacos were tasty, fast, and easy. I would rather modify them than just get rid of them.

More importantly, these incidents imply that my digestion is more compromised than I wanted to admit. There is a strong possibility that I am reacting to these foods simply due to a compromised gut lining. Also known as leaky gut, it is often part of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) equation and responsible to a wide range of digestive discomfort.

Please, feel free to sing the Pepto song now, I just did.

Anyway, basically, there’s a good chance that due to chronic exposure to irritants, as well as chronic stress, my digestive tract is damaged and, well, irritable, causing an overreaction to certain foods. There are protocols available for this situation, but I’m not very good at following them. Instead, I prefer to incorporate as many of the guidelines as possible without stressing myself out further. Like I said earlier, I don’t successfully make huge changes quickly, but I can make little changes that build up over time. The good news is that if I can heal my gut lining there is a good chance that I will be able to reincorporate some of the foods that were acting as irritants.

I’m really going to miss cabbage.

If you’re looking for more information about digestive distress and leaky gut, Chris Kresser and the Paleo Mom have some really good articles on the subject.

I’m off to see about making some stock and looking up soup recipes. Wish me luck!

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Recipe Success: Baked Croaker and Roasted Cabbage

Yesterday was grocery day.

It was also payday, but I’ll spare you the horror stories of the commissary on payday, for now.

Anyway, I have this recipe, if you will, for “The Refrigerator is Empty” grocery days that helps ensure that we  eat a variety of meats and that we eat fresh seafood regularly without breaking the bank.

First, I hit the seafood counter to see what they have to offer.

If they have fresh VA oysters I always grab a dozen.

I’m the only one who eats them, but since they’re local we get them for a great price, and how can I pass up that much vitamin B12 goodness? I also pick up something for dinner that night. This is generally fish of some kind, though occasionally we’ll do crab or lobster if it’s on sale.

My process of elimination is as follows:

  1. Is it fresh? (Not previously frozen)
  2. Is it a product of the U.S.?
  3. What is the price per pound compared to other offerings?
  4. Was it caught locally?

I want whatever I choose to meet those requirements as closely as possible.

So, for instance, the croaker and oysters I picked up yesterday were fresh, caught less than 50 miles from here, and very affordable, so they met all of my requirements with flying colors and I picked up enough for two meals.

However, in the winter the local seafood industry dies down and my best bet is usually previously frozen, wild, Alaskan salmon or previously frozen, wild, Alaskan snow crab. These are definitely on the more expensive side of things, so I try to find them on sale and only buy enough for one meal.

Once I’m done with the seafood counter I move on to the land animals.

I always purchase beef, pork, and chicken. This is that “ensuring variety” I talked about earlier.

I tend to do roasts and whole chickens since that is where I can get the best price per pound.

I know I can cook the cheapest roast up into a delicious dinner, and I’m not afraid of chicken innards.

Also, our commissary carries an organic, grass-fed ground beef (sometimes) so I will stock up on that when I find it. Since that is the only grass-fed meat that I have affordable access to, I can justify splurging a little and buying enough to last a month or so if we eat it once or twice a week.

I’m also trying out buying packages of chicken legs, and baking them alongside what ever I’m making for dinner, for an easy lunch protein.

And we’re done!

At the end of this I have enough meat in my cart to make cashiers look at me funny, and to ensure that I don’t have to worry about buying more for about two weeks or so, making subsequent trips to the commissary that much easier. It also means that we shouldn’t end up burned out on one kind of meat because I got stuck in a rut and we ate just that one kind for a month.


Now that I’ve subjected you to the intricacies of my “shopping for meat at the commissary” routine, I should probably share the recipe (I use that term loosely) that prompted this post in the first place.

Do you remember the croaker I mentioned I picked up yesterday?

Aren't they beautiful?

Aren’t they beautiful?

That’s them right before they went into the oven, but we’ll back up a minute so I can tell you how they got that way.

This was our first time having croaker, so naturally there was some Googling involved in trying to decide how to cook it. Most of the sites I found said to fry it (too messy, time-consuming, there’s gluten involved, etc. not happening) or to use it as bait for flounder (also not happening since I paid for them and not at a bait shop).

Okay, so, it was time to put my cognitive skills to work since my Google-fu had failed me.

What I had in front of me was essentially six smallish fish, gutted, with the heads on.

Okay, how do you cook whole fish?

And what goes well with fish, that I have on hand and can stuff into that tiny cavity?

Ding!

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper inside and out.
  2. Stuff each with 1/8 lemon wedge, 1 smashed garlic clove, and about 1 tbsp minced onion.
  3. Sprinkle more minced onion on top, and garnish with slices of left over lemon.
  4. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

I had no actual idea how this was going to turn out, but I was pretty sure the foundation was sound, so I went for it.

I have decided to do my best to minimize carbs for myself (no more relying on the oh-so-easy potato anymore) so I decided to pair this with a recipe for roasted cabbage I had seen.

I was inspired by: Lemon & Garlic, Roasted Cabbage Wedges by did someone say CHOCOLATE?

I, however, did not have anymore lemons and I had never had garlic paste. I didn’t feel like to slicing/mincing/super-smashing my own garlic at this point in the game, either.

So, I left them out.

And it was delicious.

I prepped the cabbage as follows:

  1. Hack off bottom stem thingy that holds everything together.
  2. Discard outermost leaves that are bruised or too loose.
  3. Slice into approximately 1″ slices. (Mine were definitely not perfect.)
  4. Be careful, cabbage is dense and mine resisted easy slicing. Pay attention and watch your finger placement!
  5. Again, remove any leaves that insist on falling off of their respective rounds.
  6. Place on foil lined, olive oil greased baking sheet.
  7. Coat each round generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  8. Turn over and repeat #7 on the other side.
  9. Throw them (not literally) in the oven with the fish. (400 degrees for thirty minutes)

The cabbage is not going to be bothered by a few more minutes in the oven, and if you prefer your cabbage soft rather than crunchy you may want to cook it for about 45 minutes. Just remember that the smaller rounds are going to cook faster than the larger, denser rounds.

***I had the two smallest rounds of cabbage with my lunch today and they were quite soft, so I would recommend removing the smallest rounds at the 30 minute mark if you are going to let the larger rounds cook until soft. ***

This is what mine looked like once everything was done and plated. It really was quite appealing.

Fresh Croaker with Roasted Cabbage

Fresh, local croaker with a side of roasted cabbage

The croaker was delicious.

Moist, with a nice balance of fish and flavors.

It is a bony fish, though, so watch out for small bones as there are a lot of them.

The cabbage was crunchy and tender at the same time. Sweet, not bitter. The largest round could probably have been two servings had I been so inclined. I don’t think anyone is going to fuss at me for gorging myself on vegetables though.

All in all, this was definitely a success.

I will be repeating this recipe (probably with a tweak here or there) whenever I have fresh, whole fish to cook with.

I will also definitely be remembering to bring onion, garlic, olive oil and lemons with me when we go camping since this would be a beautiful way to cook up some freshly caught anything.

I Fled for My Life from Zombies This Morning

Okay, so it was more of a fast shamble.

I was still faster than the zombies, though.

And, there weren’t actually any zombies. It was all in my head.

Well, actually in my ears.

I was listening to the introduction mission for the Zombies, Run! 5K training app. Which, by the way, at first blush seems really nifty. I love stories, and becoming invested in something is a great motivator for me. Plus, I can run Map my Walk in the background and log these walks with them as well, giving me dual layer metrics and a more complete look at my activity overtime. It’s not all story either, if it were I might have just chosen to listen to an audio book or podcast, no, Zombies is more like passively interactive theater. As far as I know the story doesn’t actually “respond” to your pace or direction, but rather has preset dialogue at certain points in the mission. That being said, the writing is so good that I found myself instinctively wanting to change direction when instructed to and looking for the landmarks they were pointing out. Not like I was going to run out into a busy street or anything; the directions are always landmark oriented, “veer towards the old mill,” for example, so it was really just a momentary urge, but that definitely helped immerse me in the story. Oh, and it integrates with your music player, allowing you to listen to your custom playlists while you walk/jog/run, and it even has a shuffle feature for variety. I haven’t used this feature yet, since I am sorely lacking in the MP3 department, but I plan on putting a playlist together soon. I think it will add another layer of depth to the already impressive audio cinematics. I think I’ll go classic rock, it seems appropriate to the setting.

Oh, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t do zombies. Period. At all, ever. Ever since the chick opened her eyes in the flooded office in Resident Evil I have been scarred. I just don’t do the whole zombie genre. It makes my skin crawl.

But, I’m using this app.

Why?

Because:

  1. It is extremely well written.
  2. I never said I didn’t like the post-apocalyptic genre.
  3. I don’t actually have to see any zombies.
  4. It is seriously immersive.
  5. The zombie sounds, so far, have been kept to a bare minimum.

That’s right. It’s a zombie based app focused on good writing, and good story. Had I been subjected to walking around with the sounds of moaning, gnawing, screams, shuffling, and other “sounds of the living dead” in my ears I would have shut it down as fast as I could and listened to just about anything else instead.

So, for those of you who are geeky enough to even consider a story based 5K training app, I say check this one out.

Even if you don’t do zombies.


So, how did I do on my very first day?

I’m not sure I’m in their intended audience.

You know, the one that has a decent chance of being able to complete a 5K in thirty minutes after training for only eight weeks.

I walked 1.35 miles in 31:57 minutes. Which means that the fastest I could move was a 22.5 minute mile. And, yeah, it was the fastest I could move. My right calf was cramping after the first ten minutes, and by the time I climbed back up to my apartment my legs felt like they’d gained ten pounds.

At least I’m still faster than the zombies.

No, really, it’s cool though. I did an amazing hips and hamstrings routine from Do Yoga With Me afterwards, had my protein shake, took my FCLO, and in general felt great.

All my times mean is that this is where I’m starting. I can replay the missions as often as I want. There’s no rule that I must finish the program in only eight weeks, and the app isn’t going to disappear either. A twenty-two minute mile might not be something most people brag about, but I’m going to brag on myself that I rolled out of bed and walked a mile first thing in the morning. Plus, I’ll get to brag about cutting seconds off my time for a lot longer than someone who started out with better times. Progress is motivating, and so is success. My times give me the ability to experience both for a longer period of time before entering maintenance.

I’m happy with my 22.5 minute mile.