Starting off 2017

Let’s get this started the right way – 2017 FTW

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Let’s try to start of 2017 and spend more time here.  Writing on my weblog used to be something I would do often and I actually enjoyed it, but I never made it a priority and it’s languished.  I look back on it with regret, and that’s wrong – it’s just a thing that happened.

I still work at CenturyLink but I got a promotion last year to management and it’s been a fantastic experience.  I spent the last 6 1/2 months on the road most weeks, travelling across 6 states working with a team of fantastic sales engineers, and that caused me to reevaluate my life habits in general.  Like most people, I have good days and bad so in 2017, I’m going to try to handle things by focusing on “streaks”:

  1. Fitness:  It’s a tired trope of blogs, but I’m going to try to streak for fitness.  I live pretty close to a 24 hour gym and that means that I’ve got opportunity and motive to spend each day there, doing something active.  If I can streak it to 7 days straight, then I’ll try for 2 weeks, then 4 weeks and hopefully the habit is built.  I read about someone that spend last year running 2,016 miles and the idea of doing something like that for 2017 makes some sense.  I can’t run that well, but walking/running for 2,017 miles throughout the year gives me a goal with perspective.  I’m hoping that streaking gym time will push me in other directions like weights and general fitness.
  2. Food:  Food and good eating habits are in my brain, but I usually take an easy way out when I’m on the road for work.  I’m going to find a way to avoid the bad stuff while out of the office and again, streak it until I find a new balance point.  My focus is the streak of good decisions, not the meal-to-meal success or failure.
  3. Structure:  I’m planning my time more because with the new job, the “8-5” of the work day can be very random with priorities.  I’m going to log my time spent on things during the month of January and use that as a skeleton of a schedule for future months.

I think 3 things are enough to focus on for now.  I know from experience in previous years that these will deliver benefits on the side, like stress reduction, weight reduction and “happiness”.

Cooking for Fun and Profit

We moved (duh!) and that meant a larger kitchen for me. Tammy’s a baker and not as much of a cook, although she can whip up a mean soup on the strength of smells alone. I’m an event chef; I like to cook for people. That said, last weekend was a “pressure cooker” because I was cooking for some extended family, one of which was a chef himself. The menu was designed to be small courses served with social time in between.

The starter course was potato leek soup, a rustic Cook’s Illustrated recipe that rarely fails to disappoint. What’s funny is that it’s easy to make and not too expensive. Side note: if you have homemade broth then chose that over store brands. I used a organic chicken broth that cost on a quarter more than the name brand and it made a big difference.

Second course was butternut squash risotto, another gem from Cook’s Illustrated, which features a unique method to extract plenty of squash flavor: roasted innards! You scoop the stringy goo and seeds out, roast them in a skillet and add it to the broth as a base for the “stock” to add to the risotto later. I like the flavor where the sage punctuates the sweetness of the squash, but my experience is that it consistently comes out gummy. Most people that have tried it like it that way, but I’m hoping for a better texture that allows the shape of the arborio rice to come through.

Main course was a modified chicken saltimboca. We did the tenderloins instead of the breast and that allowed better portion sizes for everyone. My lessons learned here were important, especially regarding the correct placement of sage and prosciutto. I undercooked the pieces in the pan due to the falling sage burning on the skillet surface, so instead of warming in the oven, I moved the temp up to 375F and then 5 mins of broiling near the end. It produced fantastic results, so I made a mental note to restructure the cooking times with more broiling to crisp the prosciutto.

The title of the post mentions profit so here’s the money shot: cost savings. I was able to feed six people all of the food above (even a white cake and frosting for a birthday cake) for $37.00, much less than we all would have spent at a restaurant and the food was just as good.

Yum!

Exercise and Food Update

So I’ve been working out with Pavel for about two months.  I’d say that half of that time, not consecutive, I’ve been sick in one way or another.  For the last two weeks, I’ve been eating Prednisone and antibiotics, trying to kill the remnants of a flu virus.  I’d say it’s worked.

An unintended side effect has been my appetite and my stamina.  Stamina has dropped by 50% and I’m hungry all the time.  The most frustrating part has been the last week with Pavel, trying to get some of his “brain share” and work on goals.

I’m going to have to eat like an Olympic athlete for most of the summer.  I’m headed for 10% body fat, a realistic but “stretch” goal.  All I really want to do is 25 pull ups and 50 push ups without stopping.  It’s something I could do when I was in the Navy, but then again, I weighed 175 pounds and looked like I had one step in a grave.  Boot Camp was great for weight loss, but did nothing for muscle growth.