Thursday, April 25, 2013

Catching Up: A Year In The Life of...

A lot has happened since my last post. A lot has changed. Actually, everything has changed, and for the better. 

Let's break it down with a Top 10 List.

1.   Through some crazy miracle I met the woman of my dreams by accident at my friend's house in Venice. I didn't see her again for a a couple months. When we finally met again, it wasn't long before we fell in love. On Thanksgiving 2012, I proposed to Alla Garkusha.

On the day I proposed, things didn't exactly go according to the plan. We planned a drive up the coast from Los Angeles to Cambria on the first day, then on day two a drive through Big Sur to our destination in San Francisco. I had a few places picked out to "pop the question" in Cambria and Big Sur, but they were all too crowded! Tourists. I should have known better! That ring was burning a hole in my pocket (which I compulsively touched every 10 seconds to make sure the ring was still there!). I wound up pulling off the road just north of Half Moon Bay, moments before sunset for the Big Question. 2. After an uncomfortably long delay of laughing, she said yes, and our lives changed forever. I am probably the happiest man in the world, and certainly the luckiest.

3.  We were married on March 24th at Lake Lanier Islands in Georgia. The wedding was a reunion of old and new friends and family. It was windy, cold and drizzly, and actually snowed the next day (!), but everyone had a good time. It was never about the weather. Alla and the Garkusha family are all super talented singers and musicians. Most of them sang Russian songs and/or played guitar during the rehearsal dinner and reception. Alla sang an Italian opera aria that basically melted people's brains. I'm continually humbled by their amazing family and inspring story. We are lucky to have such role models in our lives.

Groomsmen Michael Kohn, Joey Clancy, Kevin Bar & SC

4.  A couple weekends before the wedding, my bachelor party was held at a cabin on Mount Hood, Oregon. This has always been one of my favorite places to explore, train and race. Most of my DART-nuun teammates and Dirty Avocados gents made the trip, along with some old friends from Los Angeles, Napa, Seattle and Portlandia, which was a huge honor. Nearly 20 of us made for a motley crew running amok in Portland and on Mt Hood for the long weekend. We got out for some snowshoe mis-adventures near Government Camp and managed to avoid jail, which after all, was the #1 goal.

Timberline Lodge, Mt Hood, Oregon

5. Just before the wedding, we moved into our new place in Woodland Hills, right off Topanga Canyon. What it lacks in size it makes up for in location! This makes for an easy commute: by cars to work and by bikes or running shoes to the endless trails of the Santa Monica Mountains, Upper Las Virgenes/Cheseboro Canyons, Malibu and more. So far we really like the low-stress neighborhood; having everything so close. Alla started riding, and unsurprisingly is already killing it and having a great time. We have been getting out for some longer run/hikes and rides lately, and we're planning some summer trips around California, Arizona and Utah.

New Local: Upper Las Virgenes Trails, north of Calabasas

6.  Lately I've been able to balance my work schedule with more trail running, mountain biking and hiking. Since last May I didn't really ride or run much at all. That was the longest hiatus from cycling sine I was 14 or 15 years old! With so much going on in my life, my priorities shifted. In addition to major surgery and rehab on my shoulder, planning a wedding, getting married, and moving, I also started begain working with a new company, which has involved some business travel. All of this combined left little room for endurance training or much else besides the mission-critical. Now that things have settled I'm able to get back to a nice balanced routine of live-work-play.

On our local trails I run into more coyotes and rabbits than people, which is nice. In the next couple weeks I'll bring surf ski paddling back into the mix. I'm looking forward to getting back on the water for some ocean paddling, especially after losing that ability for a few months with the shoulder surgery.

7.  Since my shoulder surgery (SLAP Repair and acromionectomy) on January 4th,  I have lost nearly  30 pounds.  Three-Zero! After a fall experimenting with gaining muscle mass and power, I was 216lbs after surgery. (That seems crazy when I have raced at 175-185 for years, but I thought I would do something "completely different" as an experiment) A lot of that weight loss was muscle, since I have not been able to do any real lifting just physical therapy three times per week that will continue through May, but most was gristle.

Waking up groggy and doped up from surgery with a newly repaired shoulder. No more kipping pullups,  I promise!

After my experiment focusing exclusively on power lifting, I actually lost the LBs with very limited excercise in Jan-March. What worked was eating Paleo, intermittent fasting, often with Bulletproof Coffee (with a bit less Kerrygold organic than Rx'd). Dinner didn't change, but the starches went away. Carbohydrate was mostly limited to veggies, 90% of the time.  With such low exercise volume, I didn't need more.

8.  For several years now, I have been a Paleo eater  (80-90% of the time), which *for me* means Zero Dairy or wheat (sorry, no pizza), zero processed foods (don't shop in the aisles), no gluten, no grains, no sugar. Instead my plate is mostly organic veggies, some fruit/seeds/nuts, the very best pastured free range eggs, wild sockeye salmon several times per week, free range chicken and occasional grass-fed beef. I am extremely fortunate that Alla cooks for me most of the time, and also eats very clean. For the last 10 years she was pescatarian, and just recently added occasional free-range chicken to the mix. 9. Lately I have shifted gradually to a more plant-based diet. I'll get into that more in a future post. That doens't mean I'm becoming a vegan or bee-gan like Rich Roll (who also lives and trains in the neighborhood) just yet. I still eat mostly like a bear in Alaska. I'm trying to eat plant-based most of the time, venturing out of the Paleo village to experiment with some pseudo grains and quinoa again. 

10.   A very generous aunt gave us a Vitamix for a wedding present. This has been on my list for years but I never was not ready to spend the money. Let me tell you: it's worth it!  This has been a game-changer. Scratch that, it's a life changer! The amount of veggies I'm consuming now has gone through the roof. It would be nearly impossible to eat this many, whole. Now I just drink them, in every possible combination. It saves time in the morning as I rush out the door to work. At this point, I think I need a Kale sponsor. Anyone? 

Breakfast has changed to massive amounts of Vegetables such as Kale, Carrots, Beets, Ginger in the Vitamix. Reckless amounts of nutrient-dense vegetables, often with a few things added like Hemp Milk, Hemp Seeds, Maca, organic coconut oil and vegetable protein powder. I have moved away from the usual whey protein, as an experiment. So far so good!  After workouts, I will include some fruit, but just enough to cover what glycogen I depleted during the workout. I still try to keep the carbohydrate to what my body needs for more.

The amount I spend on high-quality local produce more than off-sets medical care costs down the road, and buys me years, if not decades, of quality life. What's that worth? Eating this way simply increases your vitality, quality and quantity of my life. That said, I'm always looking for deals at the grocery store, and looking for local farmer's markets. 

With my family history of arteriosclerosis (my father, his brothers and one sister all have stents) I can't afford to mess around. I know how lucky I am and I don't want to blow it, honestly. Eating food from the aisles, drinking diet soda and justifying it somehow isn't going to work. It isn't just unhealthy. It's basically suicide for someone like me. My sights are set on living the healthiest, most energetic life possible. This is not a dress rehearsal, after all.