Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Early Start for Kevin

Last weekend it was snowy and bad weather. Kevin had been in the house all day Saturday and by evening was literally bouncing off the walls. As I was watching him do wind sprints from one end of the house to the other I had one of the few truly brilliant ideas I've ever had: put the kid's bike on the trainer!!

I got Kevin to slow down long enough to make the suggestion and his eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning. "Oh, YES!" he said. So we took the bike down to the basement and he got on the biking shoes that BlueEyedBikinBabe got him for his birthday and off he went.

As you can tell from the picture, he's been watching me ride :). He found some of my old comic books that I have laying around (because I'm not smart enough to preserve them as they should be) and he played with the gears and did sprints on the bike.

Maybe he'll grow up to be the next Lance ;)

Friday, March 28, 2008

The MANS Diet - Nutritionally Clear

Last month I posted about being Nutritionally Confused. Since that time I've stayed low Glycemic Index and I've managed to stay in ketosis most of the time, and I think a large contributing factor to that has been the MCT oil I've been taking as a supplement. As I posted before, medium-chain triglycerides are thermogenic in nature and I think this boost to my metabolism, combined with the higher-intensity (read: uses more glycogen reserves for fuel) workouts has kept me in ketosis even with a little higher day to day carb consumption.

Lately I've started reading Mark McManus' blog, MuscleHack and he makes a lot of sense with his Cyclical Ketogenic Diet approach to bodybuilding. His specific plan is called MANS - 'MuscleHack Anabolic Nutritional Strategy.' I've decided to adopt this strategy as a trial, myself.

Mark's theory, in a nutshell, is to low-carb during the week with a 36 hour carb-up from Friday evening to Saturday night. The idea is that the body treats the carb-up as a stressful situation and responds by releasing Testosterone, HGH, and IGF-1 - the hormones that make us build muscle.

In my specific case I'm not a hardcore bodybuilder but I would love to add some more muscle to my chest and arms and I'm definitely adding muscle to the legs through the cycling so a nutritional strategy that supports muslce building just makes good sense. Besides building muscle, I have a high intensity ride every Saturday and the increased carbs would support that training while the long, lower intensity ride on Sunday would help clean the glycogen out of my system and get me back in ketosis faster.

Looking at it now, the strategy is obvious. Thanks Mark - I should have been doing this all the time!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Product Review - Sports Instruments Pro9 HRM

OK, let me just lay it on the table - I HATE POLAR HEART RATE MONITORS! Actually, I hate HRMs in general. They are overpriced and under-featured. To get an HRM that will do the things you want for even a semi-serious training plan, one has to spend $200 or more. It doesn't cost that much more to get a power meter and train the "right" way!

It will come as no shock that I've struggled with my Polar F3 HRM for 10 weeks of my training plan and I am absolutely and finally sick and tired of trying to shoehorn a round peg into a square hole. That model absolutely would not do what I wanted it to do.

Now the good news. I recently came across the Sports Instruments Pro9 Heart Rate Monitor and decided to give it a try. Why, you might ask? Because it advertised doing the two things I had been looking for (and are almost impossible to find) - it would track 5 HR zones and record time in all 5 zones (most have 3, at best) and it tracks time in zones for laps, as well. What's even cooler is it has two timers that will link to the stopwatch and keep track of intervals and rest periods. The SI-Pro9 also keeps track of 5 workouts at a time and calculates a "workload" for the workout.

So far I'm thoroughly impressed. I've been using it about a week and it does everything I want. The only possible downside I see is that the 5 zones are pre-calculated and can't be changed. The good thing is that the zones can either use Lactate Threshold or Max Heart Rate as the basis for calculation. I used the LTHR number from my last TT stress test a couple of weeks ago and the numbers came up within 1 or 2 bpm of Training Peaks' calculations, which is well within margin for error, so I'm happy.

Here is the best thing. Price. This HRM originally lists for $174 but I found it at Amazon for $59. That's way less than I paid for the Polar, even including the fact I got the Polar at about 60% off. Click on the link above or check out my Amazon Store (under Equipment) to see it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trashing a trainer

Bullwinkle: "Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"
Rocky: "Again?"
Bullwinkle: "Nothing up my sleeve... Presto! (lion roars) Hmm, don't know my own strength."

Last week I was doing Anaerobic Intervals:

BT: Anaerobic-endurance intervals. Flat course. After warm-up do 2-3 x 8-12 second max-effort sprints (3-5 minute recoveries). Then do 4-5 x 3 minutes to heart rate 5b zone (3-minute recoveries). 2-3 more sprints. 95-110 cadence. Aero position.

I was just finishing the fourth 3-minute interval when I heard a loud crash and stuff started raining down on my head. Considering I was in the basement at the time, I figured this was a "bad thing." As my trainer was winding down from sounding like a jet engine, I noticed it had an odd vibration to it and it didn't sound right. This also seemed like a "bad thing".

Further examination revealed that inside the resistance unit there is a spinning disc with two counterweights or magnets (not sure which) fitted into little holes. Apparently one of these weights broke loose on a 30 mph sprint and took flight. I guess I'm very lucky it didn't embed itself in my back... or my skull.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

TRX Suspension Trainer Guest Follow-up Part 2

Today I have another guest follow-up. I mentioned in my entry"The Hits Keep Coming - TRX Suspension System Perspective" my friend PKQ tried the system with me and was intrigued enough to order one of her very own. Here is her one-month-ish follow-up to that purchase:

My thoughts about the TRx are similar to Maarburg's. Weight lifters will probably want to supplement with free weights.

However, since using the TRx about twice weekly since the end of January, I believe this is an excellent method to stay in shape. The exercises are incredibly easy to figure out how to do but incredibly hard, some not all, to do. What I found interesting is the degree of difficulty in working the abs by pressure on the handles. I have never done anything that quite isolated and worked the abs to this degree. Ouch!

The real test for me came with the first bike ride. Now that three rides are under my belt, I will say the TRx is a great way for cyclist to maintain leg strength, too. My strength was there but my endurance was lacking, which is not the result of the TRx. I was a slug during winter. The bicycle rides were on hilly terrain, which were no problem until the end. Again, that's the lack of endurance so I wasn't blasting up the hills but creeping up them.

All in all, the only soreness from the initial bike rides of 2008 relates to my sit bones. If TRx can develop a workout for sit bones, sign me up. Ouch!

As a quick reminder, if my reviews and articles of the TRX Suspension System have been informative or helpful to you, please click the link or banner to the right. It costs you nothing and if you should decide to buy, even in the future, I'll get a small commission that helps me continue to bring informative and useful articles J.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hammer Nutrition - Special Offer!

For all my readers, both of you, I just found a way that you can get a one-time discount on Hammer Nutrition products, provided you've never ordered directly from their website before. For those of you with short attention spans, click on the graphic and fill your cart to receive the discount.

Hammer offers 15% off of first time referrals. What this means to you is if you like Hammer products such as Hammergel, Perpetuem, and Heed, you can stock up and get a discount.

If you've never tried Hammer products, I highly recommend them. Last year I rode every ride of the season over 65 miles using Perpetuem and Hammergel exclusively as my fuel and it worked great! I struggled for years with low energy at the 70 mile mark and the only solution I've found that works for me is Perpetuem.

Consider this my gift to those of you that put up with my ramblings :). Oh, and, no this is not a selfless act on my part. I get 25% of your order put on my account with Hammer. You get a discount, I get a little spiff and Hammer gets a new customer. It's a win-win-win deal!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kidney Bean and Avocado Salad

Here is another favorite Mrs. Zen adapted from Harumi Kurihara's Japanese cookbooks.

Ms. Kurihara has two books translated to English and they are a wonderful resource for low-carb/low-GI food. The recipe below does not appear in either of her English books, so Zenland is the EXCLUSIVE place to get it.

Click on the picture or visit my Amazon store, Zenland's House of Nutrition to get Ms. Kurihara's books:


  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 avocados, peeled, cored, chopped
  • Mayonaise
  • 2 tbls thin deli sliced ham chopped (about 4 slices)
  • Lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cilantro
  • 2 tbls onion minced
Drain the kidney beans and chill in the fridge.

Peel, core and chop the avocado. Sprinkle lemon juice on it to prevent oxidization. Chill in the fridge, too.

Mix mayo, ham, onion, and mayo. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Just before serving, mix beans, avocado and mayo sauce and add chopped cilantro for color.

Serve and enjoy!

Mexican Food - The Low Carb Way

Here are a couple of recipes that guests always love. Note: These dishes are low GI and "lower" carb than most Americans eat however they are probably not appropriate for induction-phase LCers.

Chili Relleno Casserole with Beef


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • dash of cumin (to taste)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 lb grated cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend, pepperjack, etc)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 can whole green chiles

Brown the ground beef in a pan, seasoning to taste. Add chopped onion and cumin.

Mix eggs, milk and flour with a mixer until smooth.

In a casserole dish, alternate putting down a layer of ground beef and a layer of chile until done. Pour egg mixture over the top, allowing it to soak in. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes.



  • Beef or chicken or turkey
  • Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce (Red goes well with beef, green with chicken)
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

If beef, brown with onion and drain fat.

If chicken, add a dash of sherry and microwave for 4 to 5 minutes, then shred and mix with chopped onion.

Add monterey jack cheese to the filling and a bit of Old El Paso enchilada sauce and mix it.

Soak corn tortillas in enchilada sauce, making sure to coat both sides. Put tortillas in bottom of a flat pan and spoon in fillings. Roll tortillas in pan, cover with sauce and cheese.

Bake at 360 for 30 to 40 minutes (until top becomes deliciously brown).

Friday, March 07, 2008

TRX Suspension Training - Mini Progress Report

Even though my training plan for cycling calls for backing off of the ST (Strength Training) and going into a maintenance mode, I'm rather enjoying the benefits of ST. I notice I feel more balanced and stable physically. It is easier to bend down and pick things up off the floor (something that was bugging the hell out of me), my hand strength and grip are much better (something else that had been bugging me) and I feel more physically powerful in general.

Up to this point, though, I had been avoiding lifting free weights again. You see, even though I feel stronger I didn't want to make the comparison.

My fears were unfounded. Last night I needed to move some 25lb dumbbells from my office upstairs to my workout room in the basement and while I was walking I started doing hammer curls. About the time I got the TRX, I was using 15lb DBs as my heavy weight, getting around 8 reps before failure. Last night I whipped off 5 reps of 25lbs with no problem while going down stairs and talking on the phone, after a hard workout earlier in the evening.

The TRX is definitely working! Click here to find out more about TRX Suspension Training and multi-sports!

Monday, March 03, 2008

What is this NLP stuff?

I just realized that my blog is about "...bicycling, Low Carb living and Neuro-Linguistic Programming" but I haven't been posting any Neuro-Linguistic Programming articles. I've posted lots of stuff about nutrition and bicycling - the physical side of health - but nothing about the mental.

I guess the most natural question is, What is NLP?

The Wikipedia article states:

Neuro-linguistic programming (usually shortened to NLP) is an interpersonal communication model and an alternative approach to psychotherapy based on the subjective study of language, communication and personal change.

The definition I like most is that NLP is "The study of the structure of subjective human experience." At this point you would be right to ask, "What the hell does that mean?"

Let's take this a piece at a time:

Subjective: From the person's point of view. We study what is personal an relevant to the individual.

Experience: What is happening with, to, because of or inside a person.

Structure: Ah, here is the slippery one. NLP's assertion is that each person's mental representation of experience has a logical organizational system, that this system can be determined, and that it has relevance.

At this point the most logical question would be, "So what?"

Allow me to let you in on a little secret: All that stuff in your head is not real. Not a bit of it. Not your mother telling you you'll never amount to anything. Not the memory of your fourth grade teacher. Not the aroma of fresh baked bread. None of it. This is the reason why eyewitness testimony in court is the weakest form of evidence. This is also how it is possible to take two eyewitness accounts and tell if they are lying - if the stories are too similar, we know it is made up.

So that leads to the idea that if all of that stuff isn't real, can we manipulate it? Yes! What good does that do, you ask? Let me illustrate.

Part 1

Find a slightly "bad" memory. Something that just bothers you a bit. Notice these details:
  • Do you see through your own eyes or are you looking at yourself?
  • Is the memory moving or still?
  • Color or black and white?
Now, if you were seeing through your own eyes, take a step back and out of yourself so you see yourself in the scene. If it was color, make it B&W. Now, make the light dimmer and push the memory away from you so it gets smaller and darker.

How do you feel about that memory now? If you are like most people, you should feel rather indifferent to it now. Imagine what it would be like to take all of the "negative" memories you have and do that exercise. How much freedom from the past would you have?

Part 2

Now take a pleasant memory and notice the same things.
  • Do you see through your own eyes or are you looking at yourself?
  • Is the memory moving or still?
  • Color or black and white?
This time we want to do the opposite changes. If you were an observer, step into yourself. If it was B&W, change it to color and make the colors and lighting brighter and more vivid. Add motion if there wasn't any. Bring it closer and make it bigger.

Now how do you feel about that memory? Imagine what it would be like if every fun and positive memory felt like that? How much of a resource will your past become when all the positive is accentuated and the negative is de-emphasized?

Your homework for the next week is during a quiet time of your day, pick 5 unpleasant memories and de-emphasize them, then pick 5 pleasant memories and intensify them.

Report back or ask questions in the comments.