Going Paleo in the Philippines. Not as difficult as you think.

One of the most common lines I’ve heard whenever I introduce the Paleo diet is “But that’s so hard! We live in the Philippines!” Quite honestly, after over a year of not eating a single grain of rice, I don’t find much truth in that statement.

So let’s first take a look as to why people think following the Paleo Diet is difficult, particularly in the Philippines:

1. Rice is our country’s staple.
2. It’s such an “expensive” diet.
3. Uhm…

Yeah can’t think of anything else really.

*You can throw me any other practical reason and I can easily rebut whatever it is, from a scientific and nutritional standpoint of course.

One – Rice sure is the staple, but it is also to blame as to why our country isn’t at the top of the food chain in many aspects such as general nutrition and body mass or size. Yes you need your carbohydrates to “get big & lift big” but this entry isn’t about that now, isn’t it. So how are we supposed to eat Kare Kare and Dinuguan (absent of iodized salt)?

Solution – Enjoy the same dishes with Cauliflower Rice, an inexpensive alternative to the regular whole grain if your goal is to satiate that need to have rice in your diet. If you don’t like cauliflower, then eat the food with a side of veggies, just like how you would enjoy soup with a side of salad in a restaurant.

Two – This is true. But then again, it goes for any diet other than the “See Food Diet.” And the rebuttal for this is VERY simple.

Eat Clean ($) = No Sickness = No Medicine ($$) = No Surgeries/Operations ($$$) = No extra medical expense.

Made my point yet? You cannot put a price on your health. If you eat clean now, you will prevent any and all extra expenses you may have in the future if you continue to eat low-quality food that depreciate the quality of your nutrition on a daily basis.

Paleo

Here’s an example of a day’s Paleo-friendly meal plan that would save you a chunk of your lunch money:

1 Whole Roasted Chicken – P200
1 kg Local Spinach (Kang-Kong) – P50
500g Tomatoes – P50

P 300 for an entire day’s worth of meals. Definitely better than spending P 300 on a plate of pasta with a small side of protein or an entire pan of paella.

And here are a few PRACTICAL reasons why Paleo is actually pretty easy/convenient in the Philippines:

1. Fruit is always fresh, readily available, cheap and tasty here.
2. Nuts and seeds are cheaper than in most Asian countries, if you know where to look.
3. Sea Salt is dirt cheap in the Philippines.
4. Coconut oil is one of the PI’s top export products. A rare find in other countries.
5. We have bacon. Lots of it. Be thankful because not all countries are allowed to have them.

The list goes on. You can say I have a bias towards the Paleo Diet and I won’t deny that. It has helped me lose over 50 lbs. in weight, retained my body fat % to a manageable number and made me feel the healthiest I have ever been in my life. I will continue to be an advocate of this diet as I firmly believe in its benefits and advantages.

So if you ever think that just because you’re in the Philippines it’s going to be hard to follow a diet that prescribes eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, no sugar and salt? It’s best to think again and analyze first the riches our country offers us.

Oogah boogah.

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My “Open” Reflection.

The 2013 Reebok Crossfit Open is over and hundreds of thousands of people have let out a sigh of relief. And for 48 individuals and 30 teams per region, the battle continues.

Looking back, I have no regrets. I got injured a little over a week before the Open and I knew that this would put an end to what I have been training for months on end. However with the right approach, mindset, physical therapy, rehab and caution, I managed to accomplish all 5 workouts and walked away without worsening my injury, although prolonging the completion of its healing process. I’m not proud of it, I’ve made lots of people unhappy and worried, but I have my reasons.

One major thing I am absolutely happy about is that for each week, I was “one and done.” I prepared myself mentally and physically to the best of my capability, regardless of outcome. There are many thoughts and posts about “redo-ing” but at the end of the day my take is simple – I will never walk into a war knowing that I have second chances.

Last year, when the Open hit, I was still pretty much, for lack of a better term, a “fat f***.” I barely knew what the Open was about, let alone most of the movements that were being done in it. This has made me realize how far the entire Crossfit community has gone since then. Regardless of where you live, train or work, people all over the world have managed to improve themselves significantly in less than a year, and the Open has proven to be the ultimate measuring medium for this.

My numbers, as I would reflect on them, has made me ecstatic and hungry to train even harder for the next season. So here’s a quick summary that will show where I used to be and where I am now:

12.1 – 7 minutes of Burpees – Score : 56
13.1 – 17 minutes Snatches and Burpees – Score : 72 Burpees, with 60 Snatches

12.4 – 12 minute AMRAP 150 WB, 90 DU’s, 30 MU’s – Score : 37 WB’s
13.3 – Same exact workout – Score : 150 WB’s, 90 DU’s and 5 MU’s

12.5 – 7 minutes AMRAP Thrusters & CTB Pull-ups – Score : 2 rds. scaled Thrusters & banded Pull-ups
13.5 – 4 minutes 3 rds. 15 Thrusters & CTB Pull-ups – 70 reps, RX’d

They are not amazing numbers. But these are numbers that have told me of my improvement from day 1. Nothing can be more concrete than the scores we make and break.

I could be frustrated, angry or depressed due to the fact that I may have done better if only my shoulder wasn’t busted, but I am not. See, that’s not what the Open is JUST about. Qualifying, competing and moving on to the games is just one aspect of it – and unless you’ve really been training for it and have the good genetic build for it, it’s not going to come easy. And this is why I plan to work harder, much harder than I ever have – to train to the maximum of my capacity, while avoiding all forms of injury. The Open, for most of us, is a unique opportunity to show us what we need to work on and how far we’ve gone. It defines why we do what we do, regardless if you’re doing the Open for the first time, or you are a seasoned veteran.

Working with a team, I have learned values that I may never learn had we not joined the Open. People have mental and physical breaking points. And the strength it takes to persevere through those points is what makes and defines us as athletes. It is “the suck,” “mental toughness,” “the zone,” and all these different names that we can call it. I have learned, that in a span of 1 year, my tolerance of this has increased and has made me the athlete I am today. Not the best, but driven with good intention and purpose to try to be.

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The Open. It means differently for each and every one of us who decide to join it. Despite these differences, we are all brought together to help each other achieve our goals, whatever they may be. I look forward to next year’s Open and am so excited to see how much better all of us will be in a span of 1 year.

To my brothers and sisters from around the globe, especially from the Asia region who have managed to move on to Regionals, I wish you all the luck in the world and you can expect me to be in the sidelines in Korea, screaming my lungs out just to help you push for that one.more.rep.

And to my fellow athletes who didn’t quite make it this year, individual or team, stay hungry and be driven. Know that we have more reason now to train harder and smarter to better ourselves for next season. It is us who now have more to prove to ourselves, that we CAN do better, and we will.

Get after it!

Seeking triumph over accepting defeat

Two weeks and two workouts into the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Open, and it still hasn’t sunk in yet. I refuse to believe that because of an impaired shoulder, all my training will go to waste this year. The truth of it all is that it will, but that does not mean that I cannot continue to try.

Seven weeks ago, I had an unfortunate snatch training session that ultimately led to a rotator cuff injury and a video of myself rolling around for a good two minutes. The entire time I was just trying to figure out what just happened and will my shoulder be okay. I’ve never suffered from a major injury before, let alone never felt how it was like to have one. I used to see football players cry and cringe whenever a bad tackle happened and think to myself, that looked like it hurt, but it probably can’t be THAT bad. While reviewing my training video, as I see myself screaming in pain after that lift, I now know how most of the injuries I see happen on TV actually feels like. It definitely was something absolutely new to me and I honestly did not know what to do or how to act when it happened, all I knew was I was in A LOT of pain. The way I’d put it is it was as if an elephant had stepped on my shoulder and did a pirouette.

Fast forward a few weeks of physical therapy and rehabilitation, 13.1 was released and lo and behold it had the bane of my existence at the time, snatches. I’ve continued to train since the injury absent of anything with a posterior overhead position and this would be the first time in 6 weeks where I was “forced” to snatch again. The rush of wanting to do the Open WOD definitely overcame all fear and anxiety of what may happen if I wasn’t careful. Taking all precautionary measures I could (Rock Tape, Shoulder Support, Myotherapy and a “Go” signal from my Doctor), I braved 13.1 and managed to squeeze out 132 painful repetitions. A week after, 13.2 was no different with yet another shoulder to overhead movement as I completed 229 cringe-worthy reps.

Each week I dread seeing the workout and what possibility it may have to worsen my injury if I’m not careful. I understand all the risks and with careful considerations to my doctor’s warnings as well as my teammates’ pleas, I continue to try anyways.

And this is not because I am a hard-headed, stubborn meathead (Well maybe sometimes). But it’s because I didn’t train for months on end just to sit this one out. Heck, if Jenny LaBaw did 13.1 with a broken foot and finished with 150 reps, then I definitely have no valid excuse not to at the least, try. Did I mention that she also lives with (No, not suffers from) Epilepsy?

Jenny LaBaw

It is athletes like these that continue to show the world that the human body may have limitations, but our spirits have none. We may lose certain battles in life, but we will always find a way to get up and seek victory over defeat. I accept the defeat that my injury brings me, but I will not let it take my spirit down. I will seek triumph just as hungrily as over 180,000 people will in the remaining 3 weeks. I will have no excuses, no handicaps, just a stronger drive to train harder and overcome the odds.

“A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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13.1 is not just a number

13.1 – Thirteen Point One

In the academe, it is a chapter of a book.
In the corporate world, a header of a report.
In the school of law, an article or a section.
In mathematics, it’s just another number.
In hotels, it is the floor that does not exist.

But this year, for 120,000 people, it is the number of reckoning. It is the gateway to prove each individual’s fitness, regardless of which corner of the world he/she is in. It is the first workout for the Reebok CrossFit Games Open 2013.

Open

In the next 5 weeks we will see blood, sweat and tears be shed on the rubber mats and cement floors inside boxes and garage gyms. We will see stars rise and PR’s fall. The world will feel the revolution of fitness that CrossFit brings with it and it will be a force that will not easily go unnoticed. A unique kind of competition that is bound by movement standards, a video camera, some equipment and the heart and soul of each athlete, the Open is bound to bring the best out of all of us who have decided to partake in it.

Whether it is your first time to join this year, or this has been what you’ve been training for since last year’s Open ended, I salute and respect you. It is no easy task to muster up the courage to decide for yourself that you want to test yourself, your fitness and your strength for the world to see.

One hundred twenty thousand people will lay their hearts out on the floor this year to have a chance to be called the fittest on earth. What they don’t realize is that because they have taken that extra step to be part of something so unique and grand as the Open, they already are the fittest on this planet, both physically and mentally.

120,000 people have stepped up to the plate, ready to see where they stand.
120,000 people have decided that easy, is now not enough.

and to 120,000 people, 13.1 surely isn’t just any number.

It is the first of five numbers, weeks, chapters and workouts that will prove that we are, the fittest on earth.

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Paleo Pancakes : Version Deux

It’s only been a week since I posted my Paleo Banana Pancake Recipe but I’ve come across a different way of preparing it, particularly with Coconut Flour. And I’ve always felt that sharing is caring, so enjoy!

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Coconut Flour Paleo Banana Pancakes drizzled with melted 72% Dark Chocolate and a side of Papaya.

Recipe:

4 Eggs
2-3 Large Bananas
3/4 cup Coconut Flour
1 tbsp. Coconut Oil
1 tbsp. Honey
2-3 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Sea Salt

Optionals:

1 tbsp. Cocoa Powder
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Same procedure as the Paleo Banana Pancakes Recipe.

I’ve been told before that cooking with Coconut Flour will make my batter burn faster, this didn’t prove to be true during the process. In fact, what I noticed was that it takes about 5-10 seconds longer to get that perfect golden brown color I look for on each side before flipping the pancake. With the exact same level of heat, I’m pretty convinced that the Almond Flour batter burns faster than the Coconut variant.

While we’re on the topic of Paleo Pancakes, I’d just like to throw in my two cents on a proper nutritional approach in enjoying this pastry hack for us “cavemen.” It really isn’t wise to enjoy your Paleo Pancake with more almonds or coconut if the batter base is made from ground and bleached derivatives of these nuts. This would only result in higher fat and cholesterol levels. Even if they are considered healthy sources of fat and oil, over indulgence may cause imbalances in our body. Neither is it smart to eat 2 extra bananas and/or a whole a mango if the pancake itself contains a good portion of these fruits. Considering the fact that the choice of fruit used is high in glucose, you can opt for simpler or lower GI fruits such as apples, cherries or oranges.

What you can do instead is to focus more on what you did NOT put in the solution, including making adjustments based on what you plan to eat along with the pancakes.

For Example :

-> Remove 1 Egg from batter recipe = Eat pancakes with scrambled/boiled egg or even a tomato omelette.

-> Forego 1 Egg and the Salt in the pancake = Indulge in a serving of Bacon.

-> Reduce the amount of Bananas in the batter = Enjoy a side of extra fruit.

And the list goes on as far as switching things up with the pancakes in proportion to what you plan to enjoy it with just to meet the right amount of nutrients you need for the first meal of the day.

With a cup of freshly brewed coffee, who needs world peace?

On Coaching and Safety

I often get asked the question: “Coach, when do you do your training? Do you always train by yourself?” and every single time I reminisce the days when I just started and didn’t know the first thing about picking up a barbell. Truth is, I still wish I could train with 9 people around me, having 10 others in the sideline screaming at me to push myself harder. But in my opinion, as coaches, this is our greatest sacrifice.

BangBox

The BangBox – A sanctuary that I hope to keep injury-free for as long as I can.

Putting ourselves aside from enjoyment, ecstatic moments and gruesome fatigue during group workouts just to ensure that each person getting after it that day remains safe and injury free – that is our true purpose. Sure, teaching movements, correcting form/technique and motivation are all part of our duties, but above it all, it’s making sure that each person that walks into the box doesn’t get rolled out in a wheelchair which is our primary responsibility.

So don’t wonder when you see us put on a serious face while you workout or why we scream at you when you do something reckless. Apart from putting yourself in danger, the fact that you’re working out with others puts them in the same situation as well. Safety is a basic fundamental in any aspect of sport or fitness, and in my book, it is of paramount importance.

Do what you love and love what you do.

Opportunity.

It’s the defining factor for doing what we love in life, and loving what we do.

There is a difference between the two and the line is drawn fairly well. I love to travel, but I’ll definitely never get paid to do so and even if I did, I probably won’t do it because I’d be too far away from family and friends. I do CrossFit however, coaching and managing a box involves a lot of physical and mental work. I don’t “love” demonstrating, instructing and reiterating movements day in and out. Nor do I “love” to do accounting and transaction work more than I do baking, diving or eating.

But I love the fact that because I do so, others improve the quality of their lives on a daily basis.

And for me, that’s enough reason to sweat out the little things. Crunching numbers, demonstrating a movement and standard for the N-th time in a day and screaming my lungs out just to see the strongest, the weakest and everyone in between in the box, push for that one last rep.

CF MNL

My CrossFit MNL Family. One of the reasons I haul my ass off my bed every single morning.

Opportunity. It is what I have received to train, coach and motivate people each and every day. It is what I’m being given by those who walk into the box, to change the quality of their lives. It is what I intend to give others, to better themselves in any aspect or form.

And so the solution goes – Doing what you love + Loving what you do = Doing what you love to do.

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Paleo Pancakes!

I never had a problem giving up rice and pasta. Bread on the other hand, remains to be the hardest form of “useless carb” for me to let go. Once in a while (about twice a week to be exact) I indulge myself in a nice gourmet sandwich or on cheat meals, a sloppy and atherosclerosic burger.

So I remember the day I first baked Paleo bread, I honestly heard angels singing in the background after that first bite even if it was not close to the real thing. I smothered my next slice with some almond butter, a drizzle of honey and a dash of sea salt and boy was the angelic choir going in overdrive by then.

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The Holy Grail. Paleo Bread!

Lately however I haven’t had the time and patience to bake Paleo Bread because it would involve roughly 2 hours of preparation time (homemade almond butter + actual baking time). Thanks to the CF MNL Battle of the Bulge (Paleo Challenge) and the BangBox support group, I’ve come across great Paleo Pancake recipes. What started as an experiment turned out to be a good source of that quick fix I need whenever I start craving for bread.

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Paleo Pancakes with a side of bananas drizzled with honey.

So here’s the ROD! (Recipe Of the Day – harhar)

1 cup Almound Flour
2-3 medium sized Bananas
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1-3 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Cinnamon
2-3 medium sized Eggs

Optionals:
Dash of Sea Salt
1 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla

Procedure:
1. Mix all ingredients by hand (Do it, you probably CrossFit anyways), or with a badass mixer.
2. Use a non-stick pan on a LOW heat stovetop. If you use oil, the batter just absorbs it.
3. Pour, scoop or spoon (I use an ice cream scooper so it’s always even) the batter into the pan.
4. Cook one side for 3 minutes. (Just walk away. Slice some fruit, make your coffee or rub your dog’s belly)
5. Flip over and cook the other side between a minute and a half to two minutes. (You know it’s ready when you see a bit of smoke coming out from the bottom of the pancake)

Place on a plate, eat it with a bit of fruit, scrambled eggs and/or bacon – whichever makes you smile in the morning. Enjoy with a cup of coffee and have a Paleo cranky-free day!

I’ve tried multiple recipes before and this has proven to be the best one so far. Simple, quick and very easy to make! If you get around trying it, let me know how it goes!

Now go get after it… in the kitchen!

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3…2…1…Go!

So it begins.

The last time I remember keeping a blog was back when I was 14 years old and it was full of poems and crappy love letters for no one. (Boy was I such an emochild!) Now, I hope to sustain one that would actually provide meaning and purpose to my very being. I wouldn’t want to look back at this endeavor 25 years from now and think “WTF was I thinking?” So here’s to giving the world, or what little amount of readers I’ll be getting, a piece of my mind on the three things that I’ve become very passionate about in life – Baking, The Paleo Diet and CrossFit.

A little over a year ago, I made a conscious effort to get myself back in shape. I wasn’t always on the heavier side, but certain events in my life led me to let go a little (Okay fine I went all out) and eventually gained A LOT weight. Long story short, I stepped into a CrossFit box, started following the Paleo diet and never looked back.

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That’s me on the left in January of 2012. Middle one at the 6 month mark with my beautiful better half, Paula. Last pic is of us in December enjoying our holiday vacation, healthier than we’ve ever been.

More on how I lost the weight and remained happy (Except maybe for SOME periods of crankiness) later on. This blog would lose its purpose if I gave it all out in one post now, wouldn’t it? In the end, I don’t think this should be about how I lost the weight, or how MY transformation happened. I’d like this to be about how what I went through, can help others improve themselves and those around them.

What have you done today to make yourself better? Nothing? Then it’s time to move.

3…2…1… Go!

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