Sunday, August 29, 2010


One of my favorite things about Crossfit Fenway is their weekly invasion WOD. Every Saturday, Crossfit Fenway hosts a WOD in public which members can attend. Being new to Boston, I find this a great way to get to know my new home. I finally found some free time and managed to go yesterday, my first invasion WOD.

WOD: AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in 15 minutes of:
10 push ups
Run through the fountain
10 squats

Rounds: Lost count. At least 17.

What does running through the fountain mean? Well, it means running... through a fountain. Literally. There was a water fountain located at where we were working out and the coach thought it'd be a good idea to include it in our little AMRAP. Here's a picture:


I didn't manage to get a good picture of the fountain, the water was just getting started! The topless guy is also a member of CF Fenway.


All wet after completing the WOD. Great way to travel the T. Also a good way of getting weird looks in the elevator.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WOD in the Globogym

I hate working out at a Globogym, but sometimes I really don't have a choice. I can't afford to go to Crossfit Fenway more than once a week, so I'll have to work out on my own at BU's gym every so often. Not much to talk about today, here is the WOD I did.

WOD: 5 rounds for time of
30 Double Unders
15 Clapping Pushups

Time: Around 12 minutes. Forgot to stop stopwatch.

Some notes:
On the last round, I realized I could of been much more efficient on my double unders if I had bent my knees a little more. Something to work on for next time.
Clapping push ups suck.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Living Primal: One Meal at a Time (Meatza!)

Enter the Meatza. I've been wanting to do this for a while now.

For those of you who don't know, a meatza is a low-carber's/meat-lover's adaption of the pizza, where the crust is replaced with meat instead of the usual dough. Strict Paleo followers don't tend to like this recipe because of the dairy but then again, I haven't exactly removed dairy from my diet.

Anyways, I decided to follow a recipe this time as opposed to my usual improvising. Here's a link:


Making the "crust" with 1 pound of ground pork, 1 pound of ground beef, cheese, and an egg


Me with the "Crust" spread out on the pan ready for the oven


After the crust finished baking, we threw on the toppings (mushrooms and red peppers) and cheese. Ready for the broiler. We did one half shredded mozzarella and one half buffalo mozzarella.


All finished.


Different Angle.


The Family

In all honesty, the meatza was more like a meatloaf with pizza toppings and cheese than an actual pizza. Nonetheless, it was still really good and definitely worth making again some other day.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Failure and Success

So today's session at Crossfit Fenway went a little something like this:

Starting off with a dynamic warm up, consisting of the usual stretches and movements, I got a small sweat going and then immediately moved on into today's skill work. The focus being muscle-ups.

A muscle up is a gymnastic movement that combines pull-ups and ring dips. Starting from a dead hang, you pull yourself up a pair of rings and then do a dip at the top. Sounds simple. It just happens to be incredibly difficult. Having never done a muscle-up before, I did a modified version where the rings were set lower so that I could start on my knees and support myself from the ground.

Then we moved onto some strength training, the low bar back squat. Here's the rep scheme: 5-5-3-3-1-1-1. I started light and gradually increased the weight, knocking out the first five sets no problem. The last two sets however, proved to be much more difficult.

Repetitions: 5-5-3-3-1-1-1
Load (kg): 50-60-65-70-80-90(failed)-85(failed)

After failing my second last set I went lighter and dropped the load to 85 kg. Unfortunately, after going down into the squat position, I couldn't get back up and had to drop the weight. I've still got a long road of strength training ahead of me (my goal is one and a half times body weight).


Me about to attempt an 85 kg back squat

I came out of the weight room pretty disappointed. I really thought 85 kg wouldn't have been a problem (most of the people were going over 100!). Now in the main room, I saw the rings that were set up for the muscle-ups practice. I figured I might as well give it a shot. Surprisingly, I succeeded, which felt AWESOME. I even managed to do two!

To Crossfitters, the first muscle-up is a grand occasion. And I couldn't help but feel somewhat proud of myself as the coach wrote "first muscle-up" next to my name on the wall. I just wish I had gotten a picture.

We finished off with a WOD, which was 16 rounds of Tabata intervals on the rower (a Tabata interval consists of 20 seconds of all out effort followed by ten seconds of rest). Our score is calculated by the total amount of meters rowed, which in my case would be 1458.

I hate Tabata intervals, and I hate rowing even more. It sucked.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cheat Meals and Turning 18

Yesterday was my birthday, I've finally hit the big one eight. Guess I'm officially an adult. Weird.

Having just moved to Boston, I really haven't had a chance to meet any new people. Though I'm sure I will eventually, especially once college starts, just don't think of me as some anti-social hermit. I spent my birthday with my sisters, no crazy parties or night out this year (there'll be plenty in college). It was all quite pleasant.

Anyone who knows me or follows this blog knows that I have some neurotic eating habits. In a nutshell, I eat like a caveman. Avoiding foods like grains, sugar, legumes, and dairy (though I'm not too strict when it comes to legumes and dairy). But every once in a while, it's nice to take a break and cheat. It helps keep me sane.

Let's see how it all played out...

Breakfast started out pretty Paleo. I usually just have some bacon and eggs but today I felt like having something a little extra. Hence a breakfast of: chicken liver, bacon, cheese poppers coupled with a cheese omelet (I've got a thing for organ meats).

After breakfast, my sisters and I went out dorm shopping. Unfortunately, this was the only day we were all free. Not much to talk about here but here's a picture:

This is where it all starts. For lunch I had a burrito that was too big (I have yet to get used to American sized portions). With rice, beans, and sour cream, I realized that the burrito was probably Paleo's biggest enemy. But it's not over yet...

Here is the 12 ounce frozen yogurt I had for dessert, topped with brownies, peanut butter cups, chocolate syrup, coconut flakes, and fruit. Can you say SUGAR?

I was stuffed, and returned to my sister's apartment for some much needed rest. It's been a while since I've felt the afternoon dip in energy that I used to get before going Paleo. My other sister crashed and took a nap while I struggled to stay awake, replying birthday congrats on Facebook, an exhausting process in itself.

My sisters later took me to go watch the movie Inception. I loved it. Christopher Nolan is a genius. I could probably write another whole post on that movie, perhaps I will some other day.

Dinner was basically a repeat of lunch. An over sized anti-Paleo meal followed by an excessively sweet dessert. More pictures:

Breaded pork cutlets with rice, some veggies (probably stir-fried in processed vegetable oil), an egg, and bubble milk tea.

Me and my sister with a bigass bowl of shaved ice. Can you say MORE SUGAR?

My brother wasn't able to make it to my birthday yesterday so he's taking us out for yet another birthday dinner. I'll try to keep it Paleo tonight, but then again I might not.

And finally, a big thanks to my two sisters for taking me out and paying for everything on my birthday. I had a good time.

My other sister with a guitar shaped spatula and a brand new copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories. She really knows how to pick good birthday presents. Thanks.

In other news, my sister is a graphic designer and I've been talking to her about some new designs for the blog. The current layout is quite bland so stay tuned.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Living Primal: One Meal at a Time 3 (Simple Meals)

Cooking doesn't always have to be complicated. The simplest meals often times end up being the best meals. With some good basic ingredients on hand, anyone can whip out a delicious meal in a short amount of time. Here are two easy meals I had recently prepared.

Pumpkin, Pork Chops, and Spinach

I chopped a pumpkin into large chunks and boiled the chunks in water, keeping the water level low enough so that some of pumpkin would protrude. While that was cooking, I pan fried a couple of pork chops seasoned with smoked paprika and rosemary in butter on the side. I took the chicken out of the pan and cooked some spinach in the same pan with a little bit of water. When the pumpkin was soft enough, I put it on my plate and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. It ended up being a very light and colorful meal.

Chicken and Tomato Stir-fry

With a little bit of water, I allowed some tomato slices, garlic, and ginger slices to simmer in a pan , keeping the lid on, until the tomatoes became soft and mushy. I then threw in some diced chicken breasts and topped it off with mustard green. I typically cook meat before vegetables but in this case I wanted the tomatoes to lose almost all of their retained water. This really adds to the flavor of the dish. Note that I did not have to use any oil because I was using a nonstick pan and the tomatoes had also released a lot of water. I put everything in a bowl and garnished it with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Diane is a Real Bitch.

I'm writing this post at Panera (a bakery). Let's see if I'll be able to resist.

My week of boxing is over and I finally signed up for a membership at Crossfit Fenway. I went with the most basic plan, allowing me to attend one class a week for 18 months. No doubt a very LONG commitment. CF Fenway also has free classes for members on Saturday mornings dubbed Invasion WODs (workout of the day) so I'll probably also go to some of those. We started off with some footfire drills, a dynamic warm up and proceeded to practice handstand push ups and deadlifting form. Then we moved on to the WOD, Diane.


21-15-9 reps for time of:
Deadlifts @ 60 kg (Rx'd is 102 kg)
Handstand Push-ups scaled down to head touching ab mat (Rx'd is head to floor)

Time: 10:15

My Deadlift Bar

I'm still not sure why I do this to myself. I'm definitely going to be sore tomorrow.

I was damn tired yet know I could of pushed harder. I wasn't even deadlifting body weight! Then again, the time range recommended for this WOD is somewhere between 4-10 minutes. Guess the scaling was pretty appropriate after all. I'll do this WOD again at some point in the future. It'll be interesting to see how I improve.

Diane: I hate you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Week in the Ring

So I was strolling down the street one day when I spotted this gem.

I've always wanted to learn how to box and having finally reached a decent level of fitness I decided to give it a shot. After signing up and attending my free trial, I found out that not only did I get a free class but also a free WEEK of unlimited membership. Sweet!

The entrance to the Ring is a small door just off the street, immediately followed by a flight of stairs. The Ring is located on the second floor, and having just climbed a barren flight of stairs, I felt like I was walking onto the set of Million Dollar Baby. It was essentially one large room with a boxing ring and a ton of heavy punching bags. For those of you who don't know me, I really like to train in bare and minimalistic environments. With the rap music in the background and a minimalistic design, the vibe of the place was pretty cool. I particularly enjoyed the graffiti art, boxing magazine's wallpaper, and tipped trash cans used for storing belongings.

Wallpaper by the water fountain

Tipped trash cans (very cool)

The gym had great hours and was even open during the weekends. With a free week, I made the most of it and took a break from training so that I could go everyday. The unlimited membership meant that I could attend as many classes as I wanted and could even enter to train on my own during working hours.

In my first trial class, I learned how to put on hand wraps as well as the five basic punches. I then proceeded to do some drills on the bag with some basic calisthenics thrown in. The drills worked like this. Each basic punch is assigned a number ranging from 1 to 5, with odd numbers referring to the left hand and even numbers referring to the right. The coach would call out a sequence of numbers and I would then throw those punches on the bag. So if the coach said 1,2,3, back, 1, 2, that would correspond to a jab, right cross, left hook, step back, jab, and right cross. Pretty simple. Every so often the coach would call out 15 push-ups! or 30 jumping jacks! which I would then do and immediately get back onto the bag. The training intensity was always kept high, but still nothing compared to the high-intensity training that Crossfit calls for. Then again, the drills lasted much longer than the typical Crossfit WOD.

Me putting on a pair of handwraps

I attended a mix of classes, the majority of which were based on technique. I found that the technique classes and conditioning sessions (dubbed 12 round workouts) were more or less equally tiring. Hence, I decided to focus more on technique so that I could beat up a punching bag as opposed to doing burpees, push-ups, and jump rope. Everyday I had a different coach, each with their own training style. Some of them emphasized more footwork while others would throw in more physical conditioning such as medicine ball throws and calisthenics. One of the coaches particularly favored drills where people would partner up and practice punches with each other. The person who wasn't throwing punches of course had mitts on to block the blows.

Two classes in a row. Very sweaty. Check out the Fivefingers.

When classes were over, I would typically stay after and practice on my own. I would spend about 15-30 minutes doing more drills on the bag, coming up with my own combinations, and maybe even practice some jump rope. After that, I would then move on to the speed bag. If you don't know what that is, I took a picture.

A Speed Bag

Here is also a youtube video of how a speed bag works. I can't go as fast as this guy but did manage to reach a consistent speed.

The speed bag was probably one of the most hypnotizing things ever and I loved it. The first day I tried, I had stayed after for an hour punching away. It wasn't too hard and didn't take long for me to pick up and become at least somewhat proficient.

Action shot: playing with the speed bag

My free week at The Ring was a great experience and I really felt like I had learned a lot. The coaches were charismatic and experienced, making their classes even more enjoyable. My only complaint would be the use of conventional muscle isolation methodology for strengthening the core. Every class always ended with an "abs-workout," which most crossfitters know doesn't really provide any functional purpose. Other than that, the Ring is still a great facility.

I would love to become a member of The Ring but I really just can't afford it. I loved the adrenaline rush that I got when punching a bag and even looked forward to some sparring. But Crossfit takes priority, and there's no way I could pull off paying for two separate gyms. Maybe I will continue to box on my own (I know there are boxing bags in the BU gym) and become serious about it in the future. I'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Living Primal: One Meal at a Time 2 (Olive Chicken)

Nobody can learn how to cook unless they're willing to experiment.

That's what I think. You could easily follow some recipe online, or even take cooking classes to make something delicious, but in the end you would just be recreating what somebody else already invented. I rarely ever follow a recipe when I cook, and I always try to be creative. If I'm ever in a rut, I might look online for some inspiration on occasion.
Here's what I usually do when cooking time comes around: I open up the fridge, see what I have to work with, and then go from there. There's a lot of improvisation here, meaning no measuring cups, tablespoons, or weighing involved. My advice: don't be afraid to improvise or try something new. You'll make mistakes, learn from them, and be a better cook because of it.
So here's a little something I came up with today. I call it: Olive Chicken.
I started off by taking out a hammer (seriously, I'm not kidding) and proceeded to smash some olives (I think I used about 8 or 9) until I got a chunky rough paste as pictured above. After that I took out the chicken breast and seasoned both sides with some smoked paprika and pepper. I lay the olives on top of the chicken breast and spread it out evenly on the surface. To top it off, I chopped up some onions and placed those on the chicken breast with a sprinkle of rosemary.
I placed the now decorated chicken breast onto some aluminum foil, put it on a tray and into the oven (preheated to 350 F). I baked the chicken for about 45 minutes.

Here's what it looks like all put together:
I had some steamed cauliflower on the side, sprinkled with cinnamon. Another experiment that turned out pretty well. The meal was pretty damn good, I just wish I had a better camera.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Living Primal: One Meal at a Time

At first glance, the Paleo diet seems to be very restrictive. Whenever people find out I've taken grains, legumes, and dairy out of my diet, the inevitable question always arises (though truth be told, I've really only eliminated grains. I still have tofu and FULL-FAT dairy products on occasion): what do you eat?

Well I don't know, just beef, chicken, fish, pork, deer, berries, broccoli, almonds, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, bacon, butter (yes, bacon and butter), turkey, cherries, apples, peaches, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, coconut, zucchini, kale, asparagus, seaweed, eggs, the list goes on and on. Basically, I try to eat REAL FOOD, and avoid microwave meals or all processed foods for that matter. Does that sound so unreasonable?
People have also forgotten how to cook, making easily prepared meals, such as Krafts Mac n' Cheese and Campbell's chicken noodle soup, increasingly more popular. In fact, only a small handful of my friends actually know how to cook. And when I say cook, I mean cooking from scratch.

Things like bread, pasta, and rice have become so integrated in modern diets that a lot of us have forgotten about everything else out there. Instead of having steak coupled with fresh vegetables for dinner, we'll have a bowl of instant noodles. Rather than eating some eggs, bacon, and fruit for breakfast, we'll eat processed granola bars, orange juice(instead of real oranges), and bread. The Paleo Diet isn't limiting, rather it opens a doorway to a whole new realm of eating.

So to prove that eating Paleo isn't restrictive and can often times be quite delicious, I'm going to start a series of posts focused on the meals I eat as well as their preparation. To start off, a simple primal dessert, one of my personal favorites.

Blueberries and Almonds in Coconut Milk

This meal literally takes about 40 seconds to prepare. Grab a handful of almonds and blueberries and throw them in a bowl. Proceed to drench the mixture in coconut milk. Personally, I like to freeze my blueberries in the freezer so that they become crunchy. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Crossfit Fenway

In recent years, Crossfit has been growing at a rate that can only be described as freakish. Affiliates are popping up left and right, people are getting Level I certified, and the Crossfit Games have officialy moved from Dave Casto’s backyard to the Home Depot Center. The once underground movement, only known to an exclusive group of people, is starting to surface, even appearing in mainstream media, such as this:

BTB Featured on CNN from BTB CrossFit on Vimeo.

However despite Crossfit’s popularity, it’s rapid growth has been rather isolated. Particularly within Western nations such as the United States and Canada. Sure, Chris Spealler might have taken a trip down to India and promoters often point to this as evidence for Crossfit’s international appeal. In reality however, Crossfit remains relatively unheard of in Asia, a region that constitutes the majority of the people in the world (sorry white people).

There are currently over 600 Crossfit affiliates in the world, only 7 of which can be found in Asia. A quick note: I am basing these numbers off of the affiliate blog on the main site. Even if these numbers are inaccurate, I think it can be generally agreed upon that Crossfit’s role in the Asian fitness industry is small.

So why does all of this matter? My answer is simple: I’ve never lived in America.

For those of you who don't know (which should be no one since nobody reads this anyway), I lived overseas my whole life, the majority of which was spent in Beijing, China. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Crossfit and subsequently the Paleolithic lifestyle. I've been Crossfitting for 2 or 3 months now and the results are just incredible. I firmly believe that in achieving elite fitness, Crossfit is the way to go (more on that some other day). However having been introduced to Crossfit in Beijing where it is essentially unheard of, conditions of course were not ideal.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great certified coach who was able to provide me with some serious quality training. What's even better was that he was willing to train me for free. Unfortunately the only facility I could train at was the school gym. The gym was nice, and not as machine riddled as your typical globogym. There were bumpers, pull-up bars, rings, kettlebells, medicine balls, and a squat rack essentially most of the equipment used in a Crossfit-style gym. But there was one problem. The gym was located in SCHOOL.

Ask any Crossfitter, and they'll tell you that it's loud. Dropping a 95-pound barbell after completing Fran (a benchmark Crossfit workout), playing ACDC's Thunderstruck over the speakers, and screaming the word "FUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKK" on your last rep of a heavy set of back squats aren't exactly appropriate in school. Even ball-slams were out of the question because teachers in the neighboring office would FILE complaints about the noise as opposed to confronting us themselves. Go figure.

But I understand, after all we were in school, so the teachers definitely had a right to work peacefully. So we tried our best to be quiet (note the word TRIED), and frankly being quiet sucks. By being quiet, I really wasn't able to gain much experience with Olympic weightlifting, a fundamental component of Crossfit's training regime. What I had was by no doubt sufficient, but it definitely could have been better.

I resolved to find an affiliate gym the minute I arrived in Boston for college and what I found was Crossfit Fenway. I attended a free trial and it was GREAT. The coaching quality was top-notch and dropping that barbell overhead amidst some push-jerks in a WOD (workout of the day) was also incredibly liberating. The equipment was basic and economical, just the way I like it. There wasn't a fancy machine in sight, and there were ample amounts of kettlebells, barbells, bumpers, and other heavy things. The environment, which would probably be characterized as barren by the modern fitness industry, was perfect because it promoted grunt hard work, which in my opinion is what training is all about. On a softer side, the gym had a massage therapy room and oddly enough (though awesome), a circus acrobatics room. With windows that stretch from the ceiling to the floor, people on the street couldn't help but stop and look when they passed by. At the end I think two people even came in and signed up for a free trial!

The session started off with some dot drills, which I had never done before, designed to improve agility and coordination. We then spent some time on proper cleaning technique (as in the Olympic lift, not feather dusting) , one of my major weaknesses. To top it off we finished with a WOD, where I got my ass handed to me by two much older people. Damn. The WOD was a beast of a workout, an all out sprint and very tiring. It is outlined below:

WOD: Three Rounds for time of:
14 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (28 kg, Rx'd is 32)
Sprint down the street and back
7 Shoulders to overhead (45-50 kg, Rx'd is 60)

Time: 6:10

Although I'm somewhat worried about finances, I think I will probably join Crossfit Fenway in pursuit of my fitness goals. It's going to be a good year.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

An Introduction

With bloggers like Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, and Richard Nikoley, the Paleo movement is definitely spreading. However, as famous as these people are among the Paleolithic community, they only make up a small fraction of the total number of bloggers out there. To get an idea of what I'm talking about, just visit the Free the Animal Blogroll on Richard Nikoley's excellent site.

So what's one to do with all these Paleo blogs? Like any other Paleo believer, I was curious and had a lot of questions as to how to approach my newly adopted lifestyle. It didn't take long for me to become way too absorbed in these blogs and fall into the trap of thinking too much. What started as a little dabbling ended in a paleolithic obsession. I would spend hours sitting in front of my computer screen reading up on insulin sensitivity, gluten-content, barefoot running, strength training, and natural movement instead of going outside, getting some sun, socializing, and actually embracing the Paleolithic concepts I set out to do in the first place. Don't get me wrong, the wealth of knowledge that these bloggers have provided is incredible and definitely come recommended. However, one has to be careful unless they want to become a Paleo nut like me.
Then why start a blog at all? Wouldn't that just be adding fuel to the fire? By starting a blog, wouldn't I just become more obsessed?
My answer is no. The purpose of this blog is to document my journey in developing optimal health and fitness, while also trying to maintain my sanity. It is a personal project of mine to help me reflect and stay grounded. Furthermore, I hope that by reading this blog, people will realize that not all Paleo bloggers are Paleo experts who eat squeaky clean, shunning grains and sugar effortlessly, reciting lines from our Paleo bible (The Primal Blueprint, which I haven't actually read) on the blasphemies of insulin spikes all the while. Some of us, just happen to be regular people.

In summary, I am going to write in list-form because conclusions are just too damn tiring to pull off in prose.

What this blog is:
  • A documentation of my personal journey with the Paleo lifestyle.
  • My life. Yes, there will be the occasional post that is unrelated to Paleo. Deal with it.
  • Advice on how I believe the Paleo lifestyle should be adopted
What this blog is NOT:
  • A scientific analysis of the paleolithic diet, I am by no means knowledgeable enough to do so. Instead I recommend you check out this site.
  • A definite set of guidelines to Paleo living. Everyone is different, you really have to find what works for you on your own.