Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Plano Pacers Bead Bash 5K

So it’s been a while since I have truly tried to run a 5K.  Last Saturday our local running club had a 5K and a 15K race.  I decided to go run the 5K and see if follow Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Fitness ideas were helping me out any.  I know the low heart rate training really helped with my longer runs, like half-marathons and 15Ks, but what about a 5K.

My result was 23:17 (7:31/mile)!  I cannot remember the last time I was able to run that fast for that long!   I don’t even think I could have done this in high school!

So how did I do it?  I did not really change my training at all since my last half-marathon.  I don’t follow a mileage program or  record my training results anymore.
I just keep doing the follow:
  • 3 – 5 hours a week of slow aerobic movement.  Jogging and walking while keeping my HR in between 55 – 75% 0f my max. I don’t worry about pace or distance, just time on my feet.  The only metric I am really concern my with is the 3 – 5 hours a week.  Although sometimes I only get in 2 hours.  That’s okay with me because sometimes I can get in 4 and 5 hours a week.  No worries, all is good!
  • I sprint once a week, on Monday.  These sprints always very depending on how I feel.
    • Sometimes I’ll do 4 – 6 400 meter sprints
    • Sometimes I’ll do 6 –8 200 meters
    • Sometimes it’s just a few 100 meters
    • Sometimes I’ll do Tabata sprints, inside, on the treadmill, when it’s nasty outside.
    • A couple of times I did Tabata sprints with Burpees instead of running.  These are really tough.  I try not to do them so often as  they are really tough.
  • I do the Primal 5 Essential Exercises (Pull-up, Push-up, Plank, Squat, Shoulder-press) twice a week.  I’ll throw  a WOW in every so often when I feel bored, or just need a change.
  • If I am feeling really sore, or tired, I just skip a workout and rest.  For the past two weeks I had to miss most of my running days due to work and family activities.    It did not matter very much at all.
I am going to keep on the Primal Blueprint Fitness path since I am seeing some really great results!

More Great Primal Results!

Last week  I went to see my doctor for my annual physical.  I took my wife along with me so I could help alleviate any of her concerns about my dietary decisions. Since I stopped eating grain and have lost about 45 pounds my wife thinks I have developed an eating disorder. The first thing my doctor said was, “Wow, you lost a lot of weight!  How did you do it?”  I told her I stopped eating grains and eat mostly vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts and a little bit of dairy.  The doctor said that that sounded great and told my wife that me losing weight was much healthier then being extremely overweight like I was before.

The doctor took an EKG and told me that I had a nice resting heart rate in the 40’s.  My HDL came up to 48, from a constant of 36 over the years.  My serum Triglycerides are 65. And, finally, my LDL and Chol/HDLC ratio is in the normal range.

I am going to call this another benefit of my Primal Lifestyle!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Some good ol’ Primal food

One great benefit of kicking grain, sugar and processed foods is that real food just tastes wonderful!  No wonder so many primal bloggers have recipes on their sites!

Just about every Primal blog I have seen out there has some kind of recipe on it.  They are usually some kind of substitute for a favorite food.   You now, Primal Pancakes with almond flour, or Primal pie crust with almond flour, etc.  They are really good substitutes and, I regularly make use of a great primal pancake recipe I found on

I am fortunate to have married a wonderful lady who, among many other great talents, can really cook.  The good thing about her Chinese food is it’s really easy to make a few adjustments to her meals to make some great Primal friendly food.  Basically all we have done is remove the starch and MSG and use olive oil, sesame oil, bacon grease, or coconut oil.  No-brainer!
So here is a list of some of my favorites.  I’ll add a few recipes as my wife will allow! Smile
  • Bitter Melon with egg, or pork loin, or sausage. Bitter melon has some great medicinal properties.  Bitter melon controls insulin spikes, is reputed to be anti-carcinogenic and helps you feel cool when it’s hot outside.
  • Black Fungus (Wood ear) stir fried with just about anything!  I really like it stir fried with Napa cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and pork.  Black fungus helps keep your blood fluid and can help clean out your arteries.
  • Tomato and egg stir fry.  Doesn't get more Primal than that!
  • Winter Melon. In a soup or stir fry with shrimp.  This is really expensive here in the States, so we grow this in the back and front yard.  They get really big but keep well during winter.
Here is a recipe for one of my absolute favorite dishes:  Bitter Melon and Egg.

Caution:  This melon can be really bitter but very addictive.  I usually add some Tabasco sauce to cut the bitterness.

One bitter melon
Two eggs per bitter melon
1 tbsp of some kind of milk or water
Pinch of salt
Favorite seasoning (garlic, a little cayenne pepper, black pepper)
Oil of your choice (we use olive oil)

  1. Slice the bitter melon the long way.  Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the pulp.
  2. Slice the two halves of bitter melon in to very thin pieces.
  3. In a bowl, combine eggs and milk/water.  Mix well (until frothy).
  4. Add egg mixture to oil in a pan on medium heat and scramble.  Remove egg from pan before they're completely done.  (You’ll add them back to then pan when the Bitter melon is done)
  5. Add a little more oil to pan.  Put the sliced bitter melon in the pan on medium to low heat and stir fast while adding salt.  Stir vigorously until bitter melon starts to soften and change color a little. – The bitter melon should soften and cook pretty fast.
  6. Add the egg and your favorite seasoning back into the pan with the bitter melon. Mix well and stir until egg is done.
  7. Remove from pan and enjoy.
Notes and tips: Don’t cover the pan or the bitter melon will turn yellowish.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Mentors and Inspiration

Sometimes, during the daily grind of life, it is hard to keep to the high road.  It gets hard to keep studying to better my work situation, keep following a Primal diet and exercising to improve my health, and to be an effective parent and husband.  So it’s nice when you come across a few people who can provide you with knowledge and a kind of desire to keep moving in the right direction.  I have a few people in my life right now that have provided me with such wisdom and inspiration.

I think is important for everyone involved in a fitness journey or a journey of self discovery to be open to people who can provide some kind of guidance, or a desire to start a program, or important some wisdom to help move you along in this world. 
I have a few recent mentors that I have had the good fortune to cross paths with.
  • Coach Ken Balvin : Ken has been helping me with my running for years.  He’s been a marathon and Tri-athlete for a long time. He has always been telling me to slow down my long runs, don’t worry about complicated running mileage formulas, don’t need to put in high mileage, run fast (sprint) every so often when you feel like it, and enjoy your runs. – Sound familiar?  It sounds like something my next mentor would say. 

  • Mark Sission:  I have never meet Mark Sission and only know him from his blog and his books but he has really opened up my mind to a way we are suppose to be living.  The funny thing is, his diet ideas and his fitness ideas are not new and revolutionary.  I’ve read parts of some of the studies mark always cites on his site and book and I knew about the whole fat versus carb thing. Ken Balvin had been telling how to run “Primal” for years. For some reason,  I did not understand or want to follow what I believed about diet or what  Ken was really saying until I read Mark’s Primal Blueprint.  Mark has a great way things and and helping me to make them part of my personal life. 

  • My wife, Wen Xiaomin.  She is really the grease and the glue that makes my wife work.  At her urging, I have pursued and passed numerous IT certifications that I should have gotten years ago.  She challenged me for quite a few years to lose weight, exercise more and properly, and to take control of my health. Her instance is what lead me to try and find ways to take control of my weight and health. Her mantra has always been: We need to stay healtyh for the boys.  You need to better yourself so you are not an embarrassment to your sons.  Her words ring loud, clear and true today.  And on top of all that, she is a great Primal cook!  --I’ll have some of her Primal Chinese meals posted soon.
My last bit of inspiration is actually a little story about something that I witness last weekend while judging a Texas High School Powerlifting (THSPA) Meet in Venus, Texas.

I was judging the smaller lifters: 114, 123,132.  Anyway, there was this lifter who must have been a freshman.  I think he was a freshman but he looked like he was in middle-school.  He had a baby face, was still short and small (but not really skinny.  He just did not look really developed yet).  The inspiration from this young lifter came during his second deadlift attempt.  The bar was loaded at 230 lbs.  He approached the bar slowly and quietly.  All of the coaches from his small school gather at the back of the platform and so did a few of his fellow teammates.  This usually signals that that is a big an important lift, both for this lifter personally, and for the team results. Though you’d never know it was a big lift from the expression on his face. He looked a little timid.

He walks to the platform, grabs the bar and starts his pull.  The weight comes up off the floor slowly and starts moving up his knees.  The bar is moving really slow. I was waiting for him to either stop the deadlift, or start hitching.  But he kept pulling it and finally locked it out.  I gave him the down signal and he politely put the bar back on the floor.  His teammates and coaches were cheering for him loudly in the back but this young lifter just stood there, looked at me, gave a heavy sigh and wiped the sweat of his head and then turned and  walked off the platform with no celebration.  I chuckled and smiled.

So here’s the inspiration for me.  He knew he had a tough road ahead, he approached the weight calm, focused, and then stayed patient during his task until it was completed.  When he completed it, he still stayed focus and started looking to his next big challenge.  Obviously he was focused on the journey of working hard and not on the end results.  This is how I am trying to approach my Primal journey:  Stay focused on the journey of good health over a lifetime, not just on arriving at a particular body weight or fitness marker.

I can’t believe it took me 46 years to learn it from a freshman powerlifter!
Grok On!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Primal Blueprint and Primal Blueprint Fitness Results at 6 Months

I just turned 46 and, I weigh less and feel better now then I did when I was in my twenties!

In June of 2010 my four year-old son asked me why I was so fat.  I was a little shocked at his question.  At that time I weighed 230 (5’ 10”) and had really not considered myself to be fat; a little overweight, but certainly not fat. So, I got to thinking about his question.  Kids that young are pretty honest and call it as they see it, so I must really be fat!  Huh, I must be in denial! Time to get serious about losing a lot of weight this time.

At the time of my son’s question I was running about 15 – 20 miles per week (mpw) at about 80% –85% of my max heart rate about 4 times a week.  I had stopped Powerlifting about 6 years ago and stopped any weight training all together about 4 years ago.  Looking back, I seem to remember one of my wife’s questions, “Honey, you run so much and you’re not losing any weight, why?”  I dismissed that question and figured that if I just ran faster and farther my weight would magically control itself. … Right?  After all I was exercising a little and was reasonably healthy, or so I thought.

Primal Blueprint

So I started doing some research into some weight lose techniques and ways to change my lifestyle so I could keep the weigh off long-term.  I did not want to do some short-term miracle diet and have the weight come back later.  I needed a lifestyle makeover, not a diet.  During this research I came across and the Primal Blueprint.  Eureka!  I read the Primal 101 posts on MDA and decided I would start my journey on our vacation in Estes Park, Colorado in the beginning of July.  We would have to drive about 12 hours and then be in the middle of the Rocky Mountains National Park.  That sounded like a great place to start a lifestyle change. I stopped eating grain during vacation, and things were going well so I decided to order the book and go whole hog when we returned to Plano.  I told my wife of my plans to stop eating all grain and cereals and to increase my fruit and veggie intake.  She was very skeptical at first until the weight started coming off.  I started at 225 lbs. in July.

228 lbs. in May 2010

By the first week of October I weighted 205 lbs. for the first time in 17 years!

205 lbs. in October 2010.

Today I am at 190 lbs. and feel great.  The best part of this is how my family has reacted.  Since I have eliminated grains from my diet there is no more “junk food” in the house. My son, who is now 5, stops asking to eat junk (chips, crackers, cookies) and both he and my wife have cut way back on their grain intake. We are all eating healthier and are more active!  To me, that is the real success of my journey!

195 lbs in November at the Dallas running Club (DRC) Half-Marathon
 Primal Blueprint Fitness.

I have changed my running to follow the Primal Blueprint Fitness (PBF) guidelines.  Instead of running my old way for distance, time and pace, I now try to run 3 – 5 hours per week while keeping my heart rate between 55 – 75%, even if it means walking. I don't worry about pace. This has improved my race times (which I now consider PLAY!) immensely.  I ran a half-marathon in April 2010, before becoming Primal, and finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes.  After that run I was extremely sore and could hardly walk for a week.  I ran my last half-marathon in November, after becoming Primal, and finished in 1 hour and 53 minutes.  The best part was after the run I felt fresh and was not sore at all. 
I sprint on Mondays, get in 3 - 5 hours of low to moderate aerobic activity a week, have gotten to at least level 4 on four of the 5 Primal Essential Movements (still working on pull ups) and am really enjoying all of the different WoWs!  My favorite WoWs are Cave Burpees (100 burpees are tough and I was sore for almost a week!), Easy as 1,2,3, The Fight and Flight, Aurock Stalk, Bringing Home the Kill and Automobilty.  I  have even increased my hip and ankle mobility, which is something I have struggled with for many years.

My son now tells his friends that his Dad was fat but he's skinny now!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why I love bodyweight exercises

  • No contracts or gym fees.
Bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere you’re at. You don’t need a gym or a “box.”  Just a little bit of space anywhere and you’re ready to work.
I checked into the local Plano Crossfit gym and they wanted $125 / month gym fee!  That’s insane.  I have one child in college and one in kindergarten that need that money more.
  • You can workout faster.
Since you are using your bodyweight for all your exercises there is no excessive downtime in between sets changing weight, or changing bars, or waiting for someone to work in, or chatting between reps/sets. You just progress naturally into your next set or exercise. 
If you still want to talk with someone between sets, talk to your wife, kid or pet.  Smile
  • It’s greener
You don’t need to drive to the gym.  Just stay home and workout in your backyard, or living room, or garage.  You could even run to the local park for a warm-up, do your exercises then run home for a cool down.  You’ll save gas, time and money and get some healthy vitamin B from the sun.
  •  Works on your conditioning 
Doing 3 – 5 sets of heavy squats, deadlifts, or bench presses will leave you out of breath but it won’t help your conditioning much. 
With bodyweight exercises you can move rapidly from exercise to exercise rapidly moving as fast as you want to keep your heart rate elevated.  The Army, Marine Corps, Navy Seals, Army Special Forces and Air Force PJs all use bodyweight exercises for their conditioning.

For the ultimate condition test try doing 100 burpees for time.  After you that you’ll like you just finished running a marathon!  You can all try doing a total of 500 reps doing pushups, planks, pullups and broad jumps.  That is tougher than it sounds
  • Highly scalable
If an exercises becomes to easy for you just and more reps or progress on to a more difficult form of the exercise.
Take pushups for example.  Everybody can do 10 –15 pushups, but can you do 50?  If you can do 50, can you do 50 decline push ups, or 30 wide/narrow grip pushups?  If that’s to easy you can move on to clap pushups and then one arm pushups.  Still to easy?  Then through on a weight vest and try them all over again.
This type of progression can be done with any bodyweight exercise.
For more information on using bodyweight exercises you can view the following links:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Plano Pacers Holiday Hustle 8K

It was cold (36 f) and windy (30 – 40 mph) but other then that it was a nice day for a run. 

Since today is Christmas, the race started at 10 am instead of the usual 8 am.

My time was 40:28.  Not bad for the weather.  I took it easy into the windy and tried to run faster with the wind to my back.

My next big run is the Plano Pacers 15K the last Saturday of February.