My Amazing Super Food

This past week, I've experimented with a new "Super Food" powder with a very funny name (at least to me it's funny).  The product is called Amazing Grass. Yep.  I'm not joking.  More like snickering and remembering college.

Anyway, I've been interested in fruit and vegetable supplements for months.  While I eat carrots, bananas, berries, apples, dried apricots and "tangelos" regularly, I don't eat enough of the green stuff overall.  Since my buddy Bob is holding out on me with his own special fruit/veggie supplement connection (yep, I'm callin' you out, friend!), I've been searching for assistance on my own.

I ventured to the Whole Foods near my condo where I was greeted by "Dave" in the vitamins section.  He had a propensity for calling me "bro" and saying things like, "You can really pound three of these a day and feel totally great, bro!."

Yep, I'm not joking.

After listening to my needs (something to help fill the gap between what I should consume for fruit/veggies and what I actually do), Dave immediately pointed to the Amazing Grass products.  So, having a bad experience with "super food" that tastes like sewer sludge, I bought four sample-size packets (instead of the nearly $80 I spent trying Brazier's products) to see if I could get this stuff down: "Green," "Chocolate," "Berry" and "Energy."

Overall, I'm a big fan of Amazing Grass (cue snickering).

I noticed an energy boost when trying "Green," "Chocolate" and "Berry", though ironically I can't claim the same sensation for the "Energy" sample.  I tried the energy sample this afternoon, so called because it has 85 mg of natural plant-based caffeine in it.

Sorry, but doesn't that last part sound a little like cocaine to you?  Yeah, I was a little worried about that too.  Apparently it gets its kick from yerba mate and matcha.

If "Energy" makes me perform like Macca I'm interested...but I'm not feelin' it.

That said, the "Green" Amazing Grass helped me fight off an oncoming head cold in less than 24 hours earlier this week.  I was shivering and stuffed up at night on the same day I ingested the "Green" sample. The next day, I felt fine.  Almost 100%.

Yep, I'm not joking.

As for taste, it's not the worst thing I've consumed.  That's about the most ringing endorsement I can give.  (I don't think they'll put that on the back of the box though.)  The good (or bad) news is that each of the supplement samples I tried all tasted about the same, with the "Energy" supplement being arguably the best due to more of a green tea taste.  But that's just my opinion. All I can say is that "Chocolate" doesn't taste like the chocolate we know and love.  Neither does Berry.

How's this for a better tagline: Amazing Grass: "A taste you get used to!"

I'm going back to Whole Foods this weekend to make my Amazing Grass purchase.  I'll talk to my bro Dave about which of the four options is the "best" for my needs/lifestyle.  And I'll write back to let you know how I feel in the coming weeks or months.

I wonder if Amazing Grass will be a gateway to other Super Foods?

165 days and counting.

The In-Between State

I can officially start planning for Ironman Coeur d'Alene now. Why?

Because now I can actually get there.

Last night I booked my (expensive) airfare into and out of Spokane, Washington.  I'm arriving mid-day Thursday, June 23 and leaving on Monday following the race.  A few weeks ago I booked my hotel, the Ameritell Inn,  after realizing that all the "good" locations were rapidly vanishing.  Same goes for the airfare.  If you're registered for or volunteering at IM CdA and haven't booked your travel, I strongly recommend making those arrangements now.  I was planning to confirm flight arrangements a week ago and since then, airfare has gone up around $80 for roundtrip between Los Angeles and Spokane.

Day 3 of IM CdA training featured my first swim in a few weeks.  And you could barely call it a swim since I was only in the water for around 30 minutes.  Though I enjoyed those 30 minutes even more than I expected.  It felt great to get back in the water, although I swam so slow that I'm sure the senior citizens in the lanes at the pool's far end could have throttled me in a race. But, my training instructions indicate to swim for as long as I want while staying within heart-rate zone 1.

Based on all the holiday junk food I'm eating, I should be training harder.  I'm not sure about you, but training during the holidays is almost a lose-lose situation.  No matter how much (or in this case how little) training I do, I'm going to be packing on the pounds from all the cookies, cakes and muffins floating around the office or at the various parties that come up throughout the next several days.  Then again, I could use the extra weight.  I'm beginning to feel "normal looking" after shedding what seemed like an unhealthy amount of weight over the last six months.  I haven't really liked how I've looked in photos, especially in my face where I truly seemed emaciated.  So if I indulge (err gorge) myself with a few extra cookies, now you know why.

I think I'll be taking training a lot more seriously starting next week, and hopefully I can control my appetite a little more then.

For now, I'm in that weird in-between state of enjoying the holidays and trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

The holidays are winning so far.

196 days and counting.


No workouts to report. Just a fantastic dinner with good friends, John and Michelle.  I consider myself lucky that I have such close lifelong friends in my life.  We spent hours eating, drinking, talking and laughing.  I had such a good time that I felt like I was on vacation.

Hold onto those friends.  It can be so hard to do that though with all this triathlon training.  It feels like some friends -- close ones even -- get left by the wayside, like bystanders becoming a blur as you speed by on the TT bike.  It's not intentional.  It's life.  It's changing priorities.  Shifts in gears and focus.

Some people are worth slowing down for.  Some experiences are worth slowing down for.

It's not often I can say that I feel truly enriched after a meal.  When the conversation and company is every bit as scrumptious as the grilled swordfish and homemade pesto.

Tonight was one of those nights.  I am grateful.  I think I appreciate them even more because I know how rare and special such an experience is.

215 days and counting.

Food Coma

I'm so tired.  I've eaten some massive big meals over the past 24 hours.  My breakfast at Jinky's this morning carried me through much of the work day.  But my dinner at Buddha's Belly in Los Angeles has sent me over the edge into Food Coma Land.  Population: 1.  Mayor = me. Training off day = glorious. Got a full night's sleep.  My achey knee has calmed down, and my body feels rested.

Except for my overworked stomach. I've been shoveling food in my mouth the way John Henry shoveled rocks out of those tunnels.  Funny thing is that I'm maintaining the same wait while doing it.  (Don't hate me for that!) I can't believe the volume of food/calories I can consume and still stay the same weight.  But I'm not complaining.

This blog post sucks.  I don't feel like writing tonight, I'll be honest.

I promise a better post tomorrow.  Tonight, I just need some sleep.  Hello weekend, here I come!

222 days and counting.

Eat Well, Train Well

Day 4 of my week off of Ironman training went well.  I slept long, ate large -- including a lunch feast at Cecconi's in West LA -- and generally relaxed. I suppose it was the perfect time for a seminar on nutrition.

Tonight's discussion at Runnergy off Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks was sponsored by Fortius and served as the perfect wake-up call that my respite was drawing to a close.  And that I probably should watch what I'm eating a little more this week.

Though I don't regret for one second the BBQ ribs, McDonald's cheeseburger, chili-cheese hot dog, ice cream, cookies and wild boar pappardelle ragout pasta consumed at various points during the week.

Damn, all of it tasted great!  Makes my mouth water a little just thinking about it.

At least now I can better appreciate just how bad that stuff is for me.  The nutritionist offered several pithy reminders of how diet and proper race nutrition can dictate your performance.  Some examples:

-- Have you "eaten a rainbow" today?  Simply put, picture a rainbow as symbolizing all the colors of the fruits and vegetables you should consume every single day.  Me? Today I got as far as green (lettuce), red (tomatoes), orange (carrots),and  yellow (banana).  Overall, we're supposed to have nine servings of fruits and veggies per day.

-- What color is your pee?  (Hope I'm not getting too personal.) If you're drinking enough water, it should always be clear or near-clear.  If your pee looks like beer then you're dehydrated.  If it's neon green then you've wasted your money on expensive multi-vitamins, which usually only absorb in your body at approximately 30% capacity.

-- How much water should you drink every day?  Believe it or not, divide your body weight in two and take that number in ounces.  For me, that's roughly 66 ounces of water every day, or approximately eight glasses of water (assuming roughly 80z per glass).

-- When it comes to carbohydrates, brown is your friend, white is not.  That sucks, because all the "good" tasting stuff is generally white (rice, pasta, white bread, flour, etc.).  But, the sugar goes straight in and out of your body.  "Brown" carbs (wheats, grains) stay in your system longer.

So what did I do once I heard all this information tonight?

I went home and ate Trader Joe's mint-n-chip ice cream.

Don't. Say. Anything.

That said, I'm getting more and more excited to get back on the training regimen.  I bounded up the stairs at work today, which is a sign that my energy level is returning to normal. I even jogged to a couple meetings today and to my car after work.  I love the feeling of feeling better.  I'm not all the way there yet, but am honestly about 90% now.  Can't wait for the final 10% to kick in!

Who knows, maybe I'll be eager to work out a little in the morning.


243 days and counting.

Weekend Holiday

Why, hello Saturday!  I had almost forgotten what you looked like! Instead of the usual Ironman training regimen, I had an off day in preparation for tomorrow morning's 20-mile run from Universal City to Chinatown for the Firecracker 10k.  Here's a peek at the route.

To celebrate my morning of relaxation, I did what any reasonable person would do: I slept.  And slept.  Then, I slept some more.  Until about 10:45 a.m.  I needed that!

The rest of the day was fairly decadent, especially with the constant schedule I've maintained since this past November.  I enjoyed perhaps one of my all-time favorite breakfasts at Larchmont Bungalow.  People, you must try their Best of Both Worlds pancakes and brioche French toast.  Of course, I added scrambled eggs and chicken-apple sausage to it for balance.

Feeling fat and sassy, I headed to downtown LA to register for the Firecracker 10k, since I hadn't done that yet.  Then, I jetted back to Encino to Phidippides, a popular running store.  I'm replacing my Amphipod runner's belt with a Nathan, since I couldn't ever quite get comfortable with the Amphipod fit.  I also purchased compression socks and shorts to experiment for tomorrow's run.  Full report coming post-race, of course.

The highlight of the day though came tonight, at the Safe at Home charity event featuring Dodgers manager Joe Torre and my boyhood hero (make that every Jewish kid's hero), Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.  Despite knowing I'd get home late and have less sleep heading into tomorrow's run, I needed to hear Koufax tell stories about his career since he so rarely grants public interviews.  Several heavy hitters in Los Angeles apparently agreed, as former and current Dodger players, Hollywood directors and actors, helped pack a nearly full house.  One of my favorite sports writers, LA Times columnist TJ Simers, moderated.  Simers was as feisty and crotchety as ever, but Koufax never bit, displaying his signature wit and class throughout the discussion.

Hearing Koufax' tales of tenacity during a career filled with injury, scrutiny and mystery certainly inspired me.  I will remember the pain he must have endured pitching nearly 600 innings over the last two seasons of his career as I labor before sunrise tomorrow during my run.  I will recall that in order to become a champion, you can never lose sight of your goals, but the core of your personality is even more important.  I will internalize that you can win while keeping your head down and building others up, that nobody has to suffer at the hands of your own triumph.

Yeah, I'd say it was a pretty darned good Saturday.

And now, I fade off to sleep and dream of breaking another milestone tomorrow: my first 20-mile run.

I can't wait!

269 days and counting.

Fat n' Sassy

Considering I eat roughly seven to eight times a day, my stomach is probably spoiled more than most people.
But the past 24 hours have been especially decadent.
Come to think of it, the past two days have been a spoil-fest -- if I throw in my jaw-dropping experience at Equinox!
My meal-athon began last evening with margaritas and tacos at Casa Vega. It was a fantastic way to ring in my weekly day off from training. After a slight dip in the food quality this morning at breakfast thanks to the awful-tasting (but incredibly healthy) Vega products, I was treated to my favorite Indian food restaurant (Salomi, North Hollywood) at work as part of our weekly catered lunches.
(Yes, I realize how lucky I am!)
But tonight the truly best was saved for last: Kiwami, a relatively new sushi restaurant in Studio City located on Ventura Boulevard (aka "Sushi Row"). I've eaten at many sushi joints over the years, even in Tokyo, and now Kiwami ranks among my all-time favorites. The dishes are varied and light, such as a spicy tuna roll wrapped delicately in nearly transparent cucumbers. The meat is prepared deftly and with just the right amount of spice, such as the herb-dusted lamb chops. The fish is fresh, lightly seasoned and allowed by the chefs to simply speak for itself with just the right amount of garnish. Try the sea bass with cherry tomatoes, presented on a small, square cedar plank. But save room for dessert, as the mochi ice cream caps off the meal perfectly, complete with a generous assortment of strawberries, raspberries, orange and pear slices.
Kiwami is an ode to presentation and proper proportions, all neatly contained in a bustling yet relaxed environment. It's easy to understand why, since Kiwami is part of the renown Katsu family of restaurants (Katsuya, Izakaya, etc.).
If you like sushi, and we all should seeing as how healthy it is considering the training we do, Kiwami can't be missed.
My tasty food and drink binge has left me feeling utterly relaxed -- or as my friend and colleague James says, "fat and sassy." I'm definitely looking forward to another weekend of training and excitement. Tomorrow's regimen includes a two-hour bike ride highlighted by a time trial followed by a 30 minute core strength workout. Anat, my dinner partner tonight, is rallying to join on the bike portion of the workout.
We both will be ready to work off our meals!
306 days and counting.