I turned 40 last summer. It wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be. The weirdest thing a few months later was thinking to myself how I’d now outlived John Lennon. Yeah, I know. I’m such a deep fellow.
I’d been running for a couple of years, mostly since giving up my gym membership for the great outdoors (okay – PAVED outdoors). A few months before I hit my “milestone” birthday, I’d switched from wearing running shoes to Vibram Five Fingers, which, naturally, changed the way that I ran. I’ll not get into the whole biomechanics stuff (there’s piles of that stuff available online). I did, however, notice that any knee pain after longer runs (10K+) had disappeared. In the latter part of the summer, I kicked off the footwear and began running completely barefoot until I’d gradually built up enough padding to run 10K unshod. That was kinda cool. During the winter months, I’d been holed up indoors more that I cared for on account of trying to balance work/home/school/family life. Needless to say, I’ll be starting from scratch once the weather warms up.
As I wasn’t being too active, burning bunches of calories, etc., I got myself a 35lb kettlebell to do some two-handed swinging. Any regular gym-goer will expound on the virtues of building muscle to burn calories (even while you’re loafing about). I wanted to get back into that discipline. Just before the Christmas season, I started getting more serious about the kettlebell and checked out books and articles by the training master: Pavel Tsatsouline. After reading about another serious kettlebell’r, Tracy Reifkind, and her routine, I got myself a GymBoss timer for intervals. I’m still trying to figure out a good routine for myself, but 20 minutes (off and on) of two-handed swings thrice weekly is kicking my ass just fine, thank you.
I’m sure I’d read somewhere that losing weight falls under the ol’ 80/20 paradigm. 80% of weight loss is due to eating better/right; the other 20% is exercise. I’d dabbled in GI and ABS diets over the years to little or no avail. Since I was falling into a good exercise routine, it was time to fix the biggest component of my life: FOOD! I’ve never been 100% vegetarian, though I hated eating meat when I was growing up, not because I had “morals”; I just hated the taste and texture. The only exception had been chicken (when battered, breaded, fried, etc.). I never went for tofu or any alternatives (I didn’t even TRY tofu until I was in my early 30s). I’d never been a regular salad-eating-kinda-fellow and tended to pile on the carbohydrates WAY too regularly. I’d lived on pizza, chicken fingers and wings, grilled cheese, burritos, veggie burgers and subs for far too long. Since I was changing a lot of basics in my life, I needed to change the most basic. This coincided with looking seriously into the book and philosophy of a gentleman called Ori Hofmekler and The Warrior Diet, which is generally based around eating foods like light protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, yoghurt during the day, and a large meal in the evening. I’d probably eaten only a few spoonfuls of yoghurt in my life. It’s now a near-daily part of my eating, along with raw almonds, blueberries and raspberries, along with a protein shake. I’ve even been drinking my coffee black for about three weeks now and don’t miss the cream or half-and-half.
I’d given serious consideration and, after examining my diet long and hard, especially over the amount of “dead” or processed foods I’d consumed, decided that, in addition to all of the other changes I was making to my life, I would switch to a vegetarian diet. Just because I hadn’t been eating meat regularly didn’t mean I’d been vegetarian, on account of there being very little vegetables or “live” foods in my diet. I used to joke about being a Pastafarian when I was a teenager; either that or a breadetarian.
So, if you’ve got any must-have recommendations for cookbooks, websites, etc., let’s have ‘em!
In keeping with my ongoing pursuit of self-improvement, the other big facet of my life that is also being quietly worked on is the other four-lettered word: budget (okay, six-lettered). If you’re like me, I’d recommend starting with J.D. Roth’s Your Money: The Missing Manual and his site: Get Rich Slowly. I haven’t spent nearly as much time as I’d like with either of them, though I am trying.
Oh man, am I trying.
We haven’t gone vegetarian (again), but we tend to not eat a ton of meat these days. My primary approach is, if I want to eat something “bad” (cookies, cakes, fried stuff, etc.), it can’t be bought — I have to make it from scratch. That’s reduced the amount of crap I eat dramatically, and when I do eat something, I know exactly what went in it.
As far as vegetarian cookbooks go, “Quick-Fix Vegetarian” is really good. I try to make recipes that can be made in 45 minutes or less, and all of the recipes in this book seem to be pretty fast.