Zoning on Peanut Butter

August 1, 2009

Been hitting the diet pretty hard lately – getting ready for a Robb Wolf nutrition seminar and figured I better tighten up my Zone eating.

Here’s a typical day based on an 18 block plan-

A 4 block breakfast at 7:30 of 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup grapes, 2 cups strawberries and 12 almonds.

2 block snack of 2 oz hard cheese and an apple at 11:00.

Workout around noon.

4 block lunch at 1:30 of canned tuna or salmon, with a ton of salad/veggies and some avocado.

2 block snack at 4:00 of protein bar (my chocolate fix) and broccoli (eat the broccoli first!).

For supper, if someone has gone to the trouble to cook for me, I’ll eat whatever they fixed and just try to make it as Zone balanced as possible. If I’m cooking, it’s saute some vegetables, crack 4 eggs over them cover and serve with a half piece of toast with tons of butter – 4 blocks.

Pretty good so far, and pretty close to Zone standards as I understand them. Two more blocks of 2 cups of milk and 1 teaspoon of peanut butter at 9:30 and that’s a good day – 18 blocks.

Let’s be honest, who ever eats just 1 teaspoon of peanut butter? I used to lick more than that off the knife after making myself a PBJ. In fact, peanut butter and I have a long, creamy (and crunchy) history.

Throughout my grade school years, my breakfast was two pieces of toast with about 1/4 inch thick peanut butter and a glass of milk. The trick was to spread the peanut butter while the toast was still hot and then wait until it melted –  delicious, fun to eat, and messy.

Lunch was often a peanut butter and honey sandwich – but with three slices of bread. Put peanut butter on two slices, honey on both sides of the third slice and sandwich between the pb. Let it set for an hour and the honey will soak through the bread, no where else to go, making it all crystally.

But no more of such pleasures for me. They have been laid on the Zone altar of better health (rickin’ frackin’ shmiggin’ spack).

I’ll complain about it, as I am wont to do (just ask my wife), but I guess the question is do I want peanut butter more than I want a six pack and a 3 minute Grace at 45 years old?

I wonder if there’s peanut butter in heaven.


So, I lost my job yesterday. Not really a surprise – we’ve had lots of layoffs at the office and the economy is, well, you know. But still it’s hard to take. Kind of like losing your girlfriend, except in my case my girlfriend was fat and not really attractive and I didn’t much like her anymore. But I’ve been going out with that girlfriend for 12 years, and that girlfriend has been sending me checks twice a month for 12 years, and something you do for 12 years gets to be a part of your life and becomes hard to do without – a habit if you will.

Like most habits, this one should be good to break (or have broken for me), even if it means I can’t Paleo-Zone on steak and lobster for a while. I’ll be honest, I’m scared and nervous and sad and angry and frustrated, but I’m also a little excited. I think when you break a habit, you make a bit of space, and if you work it right, something better can fill that space. In between the temper tantrums and the pouting, I feel a little bit of joy and wonder at what might fill that space. It may be a better job, may be worse. May pay more, may pay less. It will definitely be different, and make me do and think about things differently.

But at least I won’t have to sit on that 12 year old couch eating Cheetos with that girlfriend anymore.

Let’s start a new, recurring column and call it, “Stupid Shit People Do In The Name Of Fitness When They Really Have No Idea What They’re Talking About.”

Our first entry (and I’m thinking will be the best ever) is a new product called the Power Plate. As far as I can tell, you’re supposed to stand or sit or straddle this thing while it vibrates really fast, causing your muscles to involuntarily contract.

In their own words –

Power Plate® equipment is the premium vibration device powering a new dimension in wellness solutions for all ages, lifestyles and physical abilities. It uses the principles of Acceleration Training™ to stimulate the body’s natural response to vibration. These vibrations transmit waves of energy throughout the body, activating muscle contractions between 25 and 50 times per second, enhancing overall performance in sessions as short as 15 minutes a day, 3 times a week.

Acceleration Training™ on Power Plate® equipment offers a host of benefits, ranging from an immediate improvement in blood circulation, to a variety of other measurable outcomes: such as increased muscle strength and flexibility, improved range of motion, decreased cellulite, increased bone mineral density, reduced pain and soreness and faster recovery.  Our three-dimensional vibration technology continues to lead the industry, and its benefits are grounded in extensive academic and independent scientific medical research.

All that for only $10,000! (Two grand for the cheapie model.)

Acceleration Training? Whatever. I haven’t used the thing so I can’t say for sure, but it sounds like the latest example of  “Here’s something that will work out for me while I just stand around looking pretty in my leotards.” It didn’t work 50 years ago and it doesn’t work now.


I don’t care about your scientific studies and your laboratory testing and your advanced technology, there is no substitute for lifting and pushing and pulling and running really hard. Shame on you for preying on humanity’s lack of effort and surplus of cash.

I can think of a lot better things to spend ten grand on, and I’m sure I can find what is basically a giant vibrator for a lot less.

Girl Pushups are Hard.

July 21, 2009

Or perhaps I should be PC – push-ups from your knees are hard.

I am now 2.5 months since my shoulder injury. The recovery is going well. I have about 90% range of motion, very little pain and my bitching has gone down dramatically. My recovery process has consisted of range of motion exercises, ice 3x daily, and acupuncture treatments. I have been working out all along – running, sit-ups, back ext, air squats and whatever I can do one armed.

Three weeks ago I started working the shoulder with a little weight, a soup can actually. That 3 oz can was heavier than it looked, and I couldn’t get it locked out overhead.

But progress comes quickly when you give your body enough time to heal (something new to me). Today I did a running workout and then 2 rounds of 10 clean & jerk (45#), 10 knee push-ups, 10 kb swings (25#), 10 dead-lift (65#), 10 pull-downs (75#).

WARNING: Pornographic image follows. Do not view if you are too young to do so in your community.

The best fitness advice you’ll ever get (from me anyway) is this: Do not do 100 sit-ups on a hard floor wearing jean shorts.

I did such a thing and now I’ve got two giant bright red strawberries on either side of my butt crack, and let me tell you, they hurt a lot more than the 100 sit-ups did.

What hurt even more was when I whined to my wife, hoping for a little sympathy. Ordinarily my wife is a paradigm of virtue and compassion – a veritable heapin’ helpin’ of Mother Theresa with a side of Florence Nightingale gravy – but something about second degree burns on a white man’s ass struck her as funny. The fact that they were self-inflicted, real funny.

So ha ha, I endured all her wise-cracks (cracks – get it?) and then asked her to spray Solarcane on my grievous injuries.

“You’re not serious.”
“Yes I am, I can’t reach it.”

That brought on another round of jokes, like maybe I need to go to a CrossFit Sit-Up cert so I don’t hurt myself anymore.

Finally she ran out of insults and agreed to do it.


“Spread your cheeks, I can’t get a good shot.”
“Ow, ow, ow.”
“I haven’t done it yet you big baby.”

You know how when little kids get cut their loving moms spray Solarcane on the cut and then blow on it to stop the stinging. I know my wife used to do that, but somehow in this instance she forgot.

“Blow, blow it stings.”

She couldn’t blow because she was laughing too hard, and it is impossible to pucker up and blow when you’re laughing.

“I am not blowing on your butt.”
“Ow, ow it stings, blow.”

She did finally blow, more of a laughing spit actually, but by then the stinging had stopped on its own.

So I guess there’s two learnings from this. One: don’t do sit-ups in jean shorts. Two: don’t expect anyone to blow on your butt if you do.

The gym I go to is woefully un-CrossFit friendly: they’ve never even heard of a kettlebell, but it is close to work and I can get there and back on my lunch break. I’ve been going there for 4 years now and during that time I’ve seen some stupid, stupid, stupid (is that enough?) stupid stuff done in the name of fitness. For instance:

I’ve seen high school kids doing deadlifts with their lumbar curve completely collapsed. I tried to correct them, but since I’m not the biggest bodybuilder in the gym I don’t know what I’m talking about, but the biggest bodybuilder in the gym doesn’t care about deadlifts because deadlifts don’t work a muscle that you can pull up your sleeve and flex.

I’ve seen guys come through the door, take off their coats, load up the curl bar to their max, do a set, talk for 20 minutes, do another set, talk for 20 minutes, do another set, put their coat on and leave.

I’ve seen guys put gloves on to use the weight machines – weight machines with foam handles.

I’ve seen lots of guys max out on the bench using a thumbless grip – don’t ever do that. Not ever. Don’t. Don’t ever. No. (If you don’t know why, go to http://www.youtube.com and search for bench press accident.)

I’ve seen hundreds of people come in for their free week and never come back – they make one effort to change in their life but don’t get what they need and are again lost to the couch and the fritos and the tv.

I’ve seen guys holding their cell phone to their ear with one hand while they do dumbbell curls with the other hand.

I’ve watched the same guy come in for a year and do the same workout five days a week and he still has the same 100 extra pounds that he did when he started.

I’ve seen guys trying to squat on their tip-toes. I respectfully suggested that they should have most of their weight on their heels but they ignored me so I explained that they didn’t have the intelligence to put the same weight on both sides of the bar much less get under it and try to lift it and that they were probably going to kill themselves or at least ruin their knees. Despite my well-reasoned arguments and solid logic they still didn’t listen and later the fitness monitor asked me to not bother the other members with my friendly advice.

I’ve seen people get on the elliptical machine and open a novel and it’s a good thing they set the timer because at the pace they’re going they could be on there till they finish the whole book.

I’ve seen people use those big swiss exercise balls for everything they can possibly be used for except the one thing they should be used for – volleyball in the pool.

I’ve seen guys who couldn’t squat 185 load 315 on the bar and almost do a half-squat. Guess I shouldn’t complain about that too much, but even when someone tries to do something half-way worth doing they don’t know how and end up doing something that will probably hurt themselves and perpetuate the myth that squats are bad for you.

I’ve seen people put more effort into flexing in front of the mirror than doing their workout.

I’ve seen the gym swell in January with New Years Resolution makers – “Resolutioneers” I call them. I cheer for them to stick with it and make it over the hump but by February it’s back down to me and a few bodybuilders and the old guys who come for the free coffee and doughnuts.

I’ve seen women who have yet to break a sweat worry that their workouts might be making their arms too bulky.

Some things I haven’t seen at my gym:

Critical analysis of results and performance.


I don’t know if it’s coincidence or divine intervention or Lauren’s intervention, but since I hurt my shoulder, there seems to be a lot of CrossFit Journal articles about shoulders and injury rehab and working out while you’re injured. Whatever the cause I am going to take the advice and pick up my training (left arm only) as if I were unhurt.

Don’t worry, I won’t do anything to involve or stress my right arm directly and I’ll wear my sling and tie my arm securely to my torso. I am sure it will accelerate the healing process, and if nothing else it will be interesting to switch dominate/weak sides.

For my inaugural one-arm workout I chose Fran – 21-15-9 repetitions of 95# thrusters and pull-ups, subbed to one-arm 45# dumbbell thrusters and one-arm ring rows.

As much as you like or dislike Fran, you will dislike One-Arm Fran even less. The thrusters were not bad other than the unbalanced thing, but the ring rows were awful. My time was 7:34 and I am sure it will be fun to wake up sore on one side only. For all my healthy friends out there, you might try One-Arm Fran on your weak side, rest three minutes and repeat on your dominate side.

The next day I did One-Arm Hansen – 5 rounds of 30 kettlebell swings, 2 pood, 30 burpees (yeah burpees), and 30 ghd sit-ups. I modified to one-arm kb swings at 20# and one-arm burpees (yeah burpees) with no push-up. The strange thing was that my one-arm Hansen time beat my two-arm Hansen time of a month ago by 3.5 minutes, which convinces me that I have not been getting enough rest or recovery, which probably contributed to my injury. Lesson learned.

It’s frustrating and depressing to deal with an injury but I know I’ll heal, no big deal. I’d like to give a big shout out to all those people who are permanently injured and still workout. Who accept their situation and find ways to get stronger and fitter. You men and women are an inspiration and I raise my uninjured left arm in salute to you.


It’s been two weeks since I hurt myself and I think I’ve worked through most of the grief stages. I’ve done the denial stage and the anger stage. I spent a lot of time on the crybaby stage, the whiny stage and the impatient patient stage. I think I’m ready to look at why this happened, what, if anything I can learn from it and how this recovery process might make me a better X-Fitter.

I’ve developed a few scenarios:

Scenario #1

I am a klutz and my snatch form sucks.

Scenario #2

The world can be a tough place and sometimes random things happen for no good reason.

Scenario #3

I am too old for this stuff and need to act my age.

Scenario #4

I’ve been making more than my share of progress and something needed to slow me down.

Scenario #5

I needed new material for my blog.

Scenario #6

I was chronically under recovered and low on sleep and something was bound to happen to make me get some rest.

After much introspection and examination of the facts, I’m gonna go with Scenario #6, though all the other scenarios may hold some truth (except the sucky snatch form and the act your age parts).

What can I learn from this?

Lesson #1

Even though CrossFitting can make you feel superhuman, you still need rest – get it.

Lesson #2

There comes a point when it would be better to skip a workout and make sure you’re fully recovered than to grind out wod after wod when your tank is empty.

Lesson #3

Work with your body, not against it.

Lesson #4

Remember the law of diminishing returns – you’ll make faster progress if you pay attention to rest time.

I wish I had thought about all this a month ago. But I know all this stuff, so do you, we all do. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the workouts. Posting good times, doing the wods as prescribed, working on weak points, learning the Oly lifts – it can all take over and become too important. I know it did for me. I ignored aches and pains. I didn’t get the rest or recovery I needed. I wasn’t listening to my body. My workouts had become a fight against myself. We all know better than that. When you fight your body you will always, always lose. Eventually you will be forced to rest.

And if you don’t know how much fun that is, join me at the gym, with your arm in a sling, sitting on the sideline coaching your buddies through a workout.

T-shirt winner

May 25, 2009

And the winner of the Hey Lauren t-shirt is – Jen. Congrats, way to go, nice use of the secret word. Jen, email your address to bernet.rob@gmail.com and I’ll ship it out.


Today was a good CrossFit day. I could feel it the minute I woke up, which was good because today’s workout was Grace, something I hadn’t done in a long time.

Now Grace is always challenging – no question, but today I was equal to the task. I felt heroic and epic and grabbed that bar like I meant business. Weight on the heels, good back position, push off the ground, good shrug, stomp under it, stand up, breathe, dip and drive to full extension. I took small breaks (three breaths) at 10, 9, 6, 3, and 2 reps and finished in 3:57, which is a PR for me. My gym doesn’t have bumper plates so I couldn’t just drop the weights at the top, which I think makes 3:57 a little better.

And then it was a bad CrossFit day.

After a rest, I thought I’d do some snatching. I started slow and worked up to a one rep max. The last rep of the day, the one I almost didn’t do because I was tired and the gym was beginning to fill up, that rep I wish I could take back. The pull off the ground felt good, I was in the groove through the middle, I dropped under and caught it in a good squat and thought “Right on!” until I heard this crackling, Rice Crispy sound in my right shoulder. Now I know it was just a second, but that sound, (I can still hear it) went on and on. Like someone taking a newspaper and crumpling it up page by page. Then I felt a blinding pain as my shoulder joint disintegrated and the barbell bounced off my head.

I tried to stand up but unless I bent over and held my arm out to the side the pain sent me to my knees. Things felt weird in my shoulder – things were vibrating and tingling and bouncing back and forth that shouldn’t bounce back and forth. I couldn’t move without bringing up Pukie level pain. After a few minutes bent over in a stupid scarecrow position with a giant goose egg growing on my forehead, I heard a faint pop and my arm felt better.

And then the throwing salt in the wound part: you know when you hurt something you move it around, kind of test it out? That’s what I did. Same crunchy sound, same blinding pain, same scarecrow position until it popped and stopped hurting. I went to see my physical trainer buddy – he said I probably tore my rotator cuff, which resulted in a subluxation (that’s Latin for mini dislocation or piss-yourself-painful).

I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow, but it doesn’t look good. At best I’m out for a few months. At worst surgery and who knows. Either way, I’ve probably snatched my last snatch.

But you know what the worst part was? The most painful part? Walking around with an ice pack on my shoulder, in obvious pain and seeing people smile and say things like, “I told you not to work out so hard.” and “Well, what did you expect?” and “Maybe this stuff is too much for you.”

To them I say, Fuck You (sorry for cussing mom, but it’s warranted and my arm really hurts). I think they can’t stand it that my gut doesn’t hang over my belt, that I can walk up three flights of stairs and still have air to talk, that I can move about anything I can get a hand-hold on. I think they want me to quit working out so they don’t have to be reminded of how out of shape they are. I think they’d be happier if we all just rubbed our big fat bellies together and shimmied down on the couch to watch American Idol and eat hydrogenated snack chips and drink soda pop till we reach an insulin induced nirvana.

Well they are going to have to find some other company to be miserable with. Our way is the right way and their way is the wrong way. I may have hurt my shoulder, but I’ll come back better and stronger and fitter than before. Shoulders can heal – diabetes and heart disease don’t heal.

Wish me luck and speedy recovery and next time you’re in the gym, do a set for me.