Friday, January 31, 2014

Long Noodles, Long Life

Long noodles has more than one meaning today. Both important in my book.

First off, long noodles reflect exactly how my arms feel right now after my first Lucho swim set since who knows how long ago (4-5 months?). Thank goodness I've been getting in the pool 1-2x, sometimes 3x, a week lately. Although, I have skipped weeks and I think only once have I done more than ~2,200 in one session, lol.

Today's set? 3,400. I ended up doing 3,600. Over-achiever, I know ;) I reconnected with the band, had a main set of 600s, and a "cooldown" of 1k pulling variations. I added in some kicking, pull and vertical kicking too to bump it to 3,600 and 1:20 total time in the water.

My 600 times blew, but the important take away was that I somewhat "easily" got through them, surprised myself, and never even once considered cheating with pool toys despite thinking on the drive over that I'd need fins. That says a lot considering most my sets as of late have all been mostly 50s, 100s, 200s and nothing longer.

The other takeaway is that, honestly, I enjoyed this swim! I was up at 5:15 this morning and got to the pool right when it opened at 7am. Before the swim, I had my new favorite snack (see photo) and 5 MAP. Yup, back on the MAP. I love me some of those amino acid gems.

My newest and most random creation! Super easy, just pile together, fold and enjoy!

Sweet Vegan Breakfast Tacos*
Non-GMO corn tortilla, warmed
Raw almond butter
Sea salt
Cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice

Optional add-on's: chia seed, raw honey, banana/fruit of choice
Non-Vegan addition: BACON (sweet/savory heaven) a must try!!!

*All organic ingredients

Post-swim was my favorite breakfast: full avocado, 2 pasture-raised eggs (farmer's market), and a boat load of veggies sauteed in grass-fed BUTTER. Mmmmm.

Ok, so I'm 1 for 1 with Lucho's coaching so far. Ha.

So what else does long noodles stand for? It's Chinese New Year today!!! This got on my radar a couple weeks ago when we hosted a party and the topic came up. We were all discussing the Chinese Astrology, the zodiac calendar, and which animal we are. I'm an ox. I'm also Aries. And, really, that makes a lot of sense based on my personality and nature. One friend said that apparently you have the potential to have a year of bad luck if the animal of the current year is the same of your birth year. Any horses out there? (2014 is the year of the horse.)

Last night I was at the gym with a client, and he gave me my first-ever Chinese New Year gift. I was so surprised and truly so grateful for the thought. We did a traditional thing where you grant wishes to each other, as well, and he also explained that I could not clean on Chinese New Year because it could lead to bad luck for the year. Done. Last night I made sure my house was clean lol.
Chinese NY Gift: Red envelope, even amount of money, and a really thoughtful foot massage gift certificate. I'm a lucky coach! Especially considering the workout "beatings" I'm giving this guy day in day out lol

Upon parting, my client said to me, "Long noodles, long life."


Thursday, January 30, 2014

In the Driver's Seat

I have a post in the works that's ended up being a HUGE project and I can't wait to share it. It should hopefully be ready this weekend or early next week. In the meantime, though, I wanted to get in a little update on me and stuff.

I was listening to Dave Asprey on the trainer yesterday (god bless podcasts on the trainer), and he had on a lady who studied Positive Psychology -- yes, there is such a thing and you can get a master's in it. If I ever went back to school, I'd honestly consider that. Personally, I think psych is more valuable than an MBA. Who wants to argue that point with me? lol ;) Anyway, it was a great podcast (listen here) and she said something interesting regarding how much we are in control of our emotional state/being happy:

10% is out of our control, i.e. who are parents are, where we're born, the year we're born, etc.

40% is genetics (the set-point theory of happiness) where nature, not nurture, is at play. We were born that way, if you will, i.e. some folks are just more grumpy by nature while others are way more light-hearted happy-go-lucky. The good news is, this is changeable if we try hard enough.

40% of our emotional state is easily IN OUR CONTROL. We are in the driver's seat here and can make a conscious choice to be happy or not. This is huge. Attitude... it really is a choice to some degree. Personally, I know there have been times where I let a bad mood hang over me like a dark cloud or have unhappy thoughts about something, and don't try to fight it. Or there are times where I do fight it in order to be happy instead. It's good to know that it is possible to overcome being unhappy simply by choosing to do so. (She also said "fake it till you make it" works as long as you believe in trying to get happy)

(Btw, yes, the numbers don't add up to 100%, but I re-listened several times and I think she flubbed or failed to mention the final 10%, or I just had trainer brain, haha!)

Interesting stuff, yes?

(An aside: The chick on the podcast also said studies show that money does buy happiness, but only up to an annual income of $66k a year  -- apparently that's enough to have the essentials covered and not cause one to overly stress about money -- but beyond that there is not a linear progression of happiness as income goes up, and it's on you to determine further happiness the richer you get. Hm.)

So the point is, there are no excuses: I will make the most of that 40% of being in control, and be happy as much as possible. The good news is, I'm also not pissed off about who my parents are or being born in SoCal in 1985, either, so I think I have that working for 10% of my emotional state, not against it. Genetically? Not sure where I stack up by nature. I know I'm not always the happiest and can dwell on the negative at times (who doesn't), but who knows. I'd have to test. And am kinda curious to do so now.

Enough of that.

Training. I guess you can say I've finally commenced training again even though the official start date back with Lucho is not until this Saturday, Feb. 1 (duh, I have to get my body ready for him kicking my butt!). I did a Beaming cleanse Jan. 13-16, and kept it really mellow those four days, with the intention of that week being a time to really put my body/mind in a solid place before officially stringing together some consistent s/b/r. You can ready about the cleanse I did and my thoughts on cleansing/detoxing here. I got a lot of bikram yoga on that week. Too bad the gains I made are already diminishing with tri training -- s/b/r does not help bikram performance, in case you were wondering haha!

The Friday after finishing the cleanse I literally had one of the best bike rides I can remember in a long time. The watts/speed? Who knows, that's not what I'm talking about. It's all about the feeling, and in this case I was bursting with power, energy and excitement. Since then, nearly every workout is a blast. I feel like a kid again with all this. Ok, so maybe I still don't care for swimming that much, but at least I don't dread it. (That is one area where I will need Lucho to motivate me to get in the pool; not good at doing it on my own.) Tomorrow (Friday) will mark two weeks of consistency with rest, of course, incorporated, but I'm well into the first block of many good ones to come.... I can feel it.
Day after finishing the Beaming cleanse. This ride is one I won't soon forget. Pit stop, HB.
Yes, back on Felt.
After last week, I fell in love with running again too. I hit that turning point where it feels natural again. During all of offseason even 4-5 mile runs felt like the longest runs ever, and I just wasn't running consistently to break through. That's fine, I wasn't trying to. Last week though I had four runs, including back-to-backs on Sat/Sun: ran 10.1 miles on Saturday of rolling hills on PCH here in Laguna, and 9.2 miles on Sunday from Encinitas to Solana Beach and back. It was only like 24 or 25 miles for the week, but it was enough to get me to where I feel like I could run all day again (at MAF) and not want to stop.
Still shot from GoPro video. Perhaps I still got it. #hokalove
For biking, I'm mostly on the trainer because I like it on there, for reals, but I've also been doing sporadic long rides with my mom, as she is training for Ironman Whistler. I'm coaching her and I try to avoid letting her do long rides alone. Part of longer IM days are all about the company and people with whom you share the journeys. Our pace is about the same right now, in fact I think a couple times and/or during certain rides she's faster. lol.  I love it. I have high hopes for her come July. That said, I've gotten in 50+ miles here and there and at first that was painful, but now it's starting to feel normal again too.
Riding along with mom, randomly ran into dad and dog who were also
getting their workout on. Meanwhile, my sister was out running somewhere,
training for the Surf City hlaf-marathon (this weekend!!!).
Warms my heart. That's what happiness is made of.
MTB selfie!
Thinking here: Who needs a granny gear anyway?
Btw, throw back jersey -- Clearwater 70.3 Champs
circa 2009!
In fact, I am so in love with biking again that I even rolled out the old mountain bike, which, honestly, I haven't touched since 2012!!! Part of the reason for not riding is that the front derailleur is shot (it really is an OLD bike), and I can't get into the small chainring thus I have no granny gear, which can make for tough climbing. The other reason is that I was just kind over it after a lot of MTB in 2012 (like after conquering this), and was not feeling stoked on doing it last year. But I got the bug back, and rode last Friday (yes, with no granny gear). It was such a blast; 90+ minutes flew by in what felt like 5 seconds. Going out again tomorrow.

Hm, what else? Bullet points:

-I'm going to Colorado next week (Feb 7-11) and staying with Lucho! Can't wait. We'll be hanging out in and around Boulder and Denver, I'll probably be the DD while Lucho and John explore breweries, I may try to run if I don't die from altitude/cold, and one night we are getting treated to a homemade dinner by Biju Thomas himself -- yes, the chef and mastermind behind the Feed Zone Cookbook (along with Allen Lim of course). Biju is my bro, and I am stoked to get in on his cooking. Gluten or not, I don't care!!!

-I switched to TrainingPeaks and love it for myself and my clients.

-I'm doing more strength training right now, and absolutely LOVE being in the gym especially when I'm training my local clients. I have a really fun group.
Some of my guys getting their strength on. Have you tried
knee to elbows? They are rad.
-That said, I'm coaching more Ironman-specific athletes than ever right now (usually I have an even spread of short to long-course folks). Tahoe folks, IMAZers, Cozumel...

-I personally have some sponsors/affiliates for the 2014 season and will explain more soon!

-I'm going to buy a new triathlon bike frame soon (long story; ask me personally if you want to know the details. But I will say this is a POSITIVE thing).

A spicy detox green mix.
-I'm obsessed with juicing. And making "juice pulp flax chips" in the dehydrator. And making/eating raw vegan cheesecake all the time.
Post 10-miler juice and floor time. Wondering if those
are abs that I am seeing again? 

-Last but not least, my fav picture from the month of January:

Did I mention we had Summer in January 2014 around here? It was bliss.
Don't be too jealous though, it's back to cloudy and cold-ish now.
Plus, heck, we NEED rain desperately around here -- summer weather isn't
all unicorn and rainbows.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Recipe: Raw Vegan Lemon/Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake (Easy!)

A slice of cheesecake you can truly feel good about
eating. It can be hard to dish out of pan because crust
 is a little unstable (it's raw folks) but that doesn't
take away from the taste! Serve with fresh berries!
(or in this case some persimmon on the side as well).
I've had a few requests for this recipe, and I will admit right away that it is not my creation, but rather that of my good friend Marcai, who's a self-taught health nut/aspiring chef/business owner. She is vegan, raw a lot of the time, and runs a local juicing/cleanse company called Marcai's Organic Kitchen.

We've been friends since the beginning of high school, and it's quite funny to see how we've ended up based on the things we used to do way back when. Ya, we got in a little trouble together once or twice ;) But we're both smart girls and got our ish together. For Marcai, she's not just an entrepreneur, she's a mom of two cuties and devoted wife.

Anyway, the other week she and I had a "play date" where we basically spent the afternoon in the kitchen creating delicious things. Everything on the menu was raw/vegan. I am by no means pulling a fast one on you guys and going vegan (I love my meat), but one of my goals, or dare I say New Years Resolutions, is to expand my way of eating and experience new, healthy things. Trying raw vegan food is as good as it gets when you're looking to diversify the regular food routine. So many options, ya, really.

It helps that I recently got a juicer and dehydrator when it comes to doing raw/vegan the right way. In fact, the juicer-dehydrator complement each other well -- i.e. I've been making BOMB chips in the dehydrator using juice pulp. It's a recipe from Jenny Ross and if you have these two items in your home you have to try. Seriously so good. Finally a chip that I can feel good about!

I digress. Cheesecake. Among chip-making, juicing, drying fruit, etc, Marcai showed me how to whip up a raw vegan cheesecake and it did not disappoint! You do need a Vitamix or high-powered blender for the filling (it gets thick!), and a food processor for the crust. If you have that, then you're golden.
Having fun in the kitchen!
Apparently this is the most effective way to juice
a lemon. I swear we kept this germ free! lol

You can really make any variation of cheesecake you want, but I was sold on lemon flavor with a blueberry swirl. Sorry that my pictures of the process are kinda crappy, I was too wrapped up in the creation (and licking the vitamix after we poured out the filling... omg to die for)!!! Once it's all ready, this cheesecake will keep for a while in the freezer if it's covered with foil or in an air-tight container. But good luck having this baby around longer than a week ;) And remember always sim to use organic ingredients! Goes without saying on this blog ;)

A note on the cost. This cheesecake is actually very price friendly even compared with traditional sugary cheescakes as well as the better raw.vegan varieties. Marcai calculated the cost of this and we decided it was around $20-$25, which is a lot cheaper than you can buy pre-made raw vegan cheesecakes; single slices for those things alone are like $5 a Whole Paycheck!


Raw Vegan Lemon/Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

Finished product.

Crust Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup pecans, soaked
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 dates, soaked and pitted
Filling Ingredients
  • 3 cups raw cashews
  • 1.5 cups coconut butter
  • Lemon juice from 2 lemons
  • ~1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt 
  • 1/2 cup raw honey or agave (I prefer raw local honey but it tend to be not as sweet)
  • 2 dates, soaked and pitted (optional)
  • splash unsweetened almond milk (optional)
Blueberry Swirl Ingredients 
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 tbsp honey (for blueberry swirl)

    Marcai, the master, at work showing me how it's done.
    That filling gets thick, so blend well!

  1. Soak all the nuts for at least a few hours before pie prep. Rinse before using.
  2. Combine pecans, walnuts, cinnamon, 2 tsp salt and dates (pitted) in food processor. Mix until a thick paste forms. Press crust into standard pie dish, evenly spread.
  3. In high-powered blender, combine raw cashews, coconut butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup honey or agave. Mix until well combined and ingredients form smooth, creamy filling (this may take a while because it's thick). If it's too thick add in a splash or two of unsweetened almond milk (but don't over do it; no baking involved so the filling should not be soupy at all). For added sweetness, add in the optional 2 dates (pitted).
  4. Spread filling into pie crust evenly.
  5. Add blueberries and honey to blender, mix well and even spread on top of cheesecake filling. Use butter knife to create swirl effect.
  6. Set in freezer covered with foil for several hours minimum and then enjoy! 

Pressing crust mixture into pie pan.

Filling the cheesecake. Everything that did not make it into this pan went into my belly immediately -- no worries
about upset tummy due to traditional baking ingredients lol.

Adding the blueberry swirl. Use a knife to create texture and lines!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fresh Start

Sunday will be three months and three weeks since Ironman Tahoe, which means it's been that long since I made the vow to embark on the longest offseason of my triathlon career thus far. Honestly, I don't recommend taking an offseason of three-plus months if you don't need it because you really do lose quite a bit of fitness and forget what it's like to have that routine. I think for most people, one month should suffice. But I obviously had other goals that required time and patience, and getting out of the routine was even part of it for me.

That said, I'm happy to report that I achieved nearly all my offseason goals and/or am making huge progress. Plus, I'm slowly starting some "training" again, or better yet let's just call it "more consistent working out" at this point. The plan is to start back officially Feb. 1; what' I'm doing now is in prep for that. This week was actually the most real working out I've done in foreva, and as of Friday evening (now) I feel it -- the hints of a little fatigue and muscle soreness. And ya know what? I like that. It, shockingly, hasn't even upset me to see the numbers on my workouts... shitty power, slow runs and horrendous swim splits? Well, that just means I did the mega offseason thing right!

Man, I'm looking forward to this year. I have a few great sponsors and folks with whom I've teamed up, and it's looking to be a fun year in endurance sport! I really have no intention to start racing before June, but there's a reason for that ;) That said, first race is on the schedule, and that would be Eagleman 70.3! A couple of my long-time clients live out there so it will be a fun weekend with them racing and whatnot.

But before that, let's back up to offseaon. What have I achieved? Well some biggies I've been working on involve gut health, hormonal balance, better posture, lower stress, more life balance...

Hormones. As far as I'm concerned, my hormones are in a good spot again. The symptoms of the imbalances from which I was suffering are gone, and while I haven't officially had another blood or saliva test yet (late January is the plan to re-test), it's one of those things where you just know when you're getting back to being your old self. Granted, I don't think I'm perfect by any means in terms of hormone levels/endocrine system, but it's dang better.

Trust me, regaining hormonal balance naturally without any prescriptions or BS is totally possible if you're willing to put in the time and effort. It also requires the confidence to know what you need and the willingness to look outside the box for answers. Do not let anyone stand in the way of that. unfortunately, many mainstream doctors have given me poor information in the past and I wasn't smart enough to think otherwise so I just went with it. But in this past year, I refuse to ever let that be the case. I'm kind of going on a tangent, but it's all related here... one day, who knows how soon, I'm going to write a damn book on all this! Anyway, bottom line: in the process of regaining my health recently, I kept it all natural, all safe, and all good. It worked. It is possible, folks.

Now, the test will be starting to train and race again and hold on to the success I've had these past few months, and not have a setback. I'm determined to still kick butt at triathlon while being as healthy as I can. It wasn't fun having whacky hormones....

Last note on that: For any girl/woman out there thinking she may be having hormonal issues but it hasn't been confirmed or whatever, please check out this book by Dr. Sara Gottfried, The Hormone Cure, it is awesome with quizzes and whatnot to help hone in on your issues and solve them. I didn't use this to diagnose me, but it was helpful in learning more!

Gut. Diet-wise I have been doing the best I can to put the right things in my body for a healthy and happy gut. When you do the right things, the improvements aren't just in the GI area -- you see it on your face, your skin, in your mood and energy levels, hormones (see above), even in your poops! (Sorry for tmi, but your poop says a lot about how your body is doing.) The gut is another brain in our body and controls a lot. Some personal differences I've noted are subtle and things probably I would only notice, others are bigger. But I know I'm doing good things for my body, it's working, and that makes me happy.

Part of my goal was to eliminate or cut back on things including gluten, beer/alcohol, processed foods, refined sugar, coffee, eating out (to avoid crappy and oxidized cooking oils, poor-quality meats/veggies, and all that BS), etc. I was pretty good on certain things already (little to no gluten, sugar, processed foods), but holidays always make things tricky.

And arguably just as important, I've been expanding my diet! I'm doing much more raw, vegan foods, I am juicing regularly (yes, I'm converted; it's not just about smoothies anymore), eating more diverse animal proteins, more gut-healthy foods like garlic and onions, diligent probiotic intake, etc.. I spend a lot of time researching, gathering and preparing the right foods in our little household. Not going to lie, I love it. John's the lucky beneficiary ;)

Posture. Whew, this is a toughie, but it is slowly improving. Getting back on the bike and going aero surely doesn't help the cause lol. Repairing my whacked out posture situation is no overnight fix, but I'm doing the right things daily to bring my shoulders back -- quite literally speaking -- not slouch, relieve tension in my neck/upper back, etc. Honestly, my upper traps have the tendency to be like two balloons that are ready to pop -- they're so tight and gnarled up! And the scapular winging, well, how come no one pointed this out before? |Granted, it's not as bad as it could be, but it's pretty apparent. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever look totally normal the way I

I'll fill you guys in on all the nitty gritty details on fixing posture in a future post.

That's it in a nutshell on me right now. I could go on and talk about how I've also learned to better manage my stress, blah blah... but much of that should go without saying.

I will mention that I am feeling more organized than ever going into 2014, and I need to be. The "Coach Tawnee" roster is nearly at full capacity with a great group of athletes, most of whom are focused on Ironman racing, and that is a blast for me. Other big stuff in the works too...

Cheers to the New Year!