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The Last Temptations

The Last Temptations

Before started my official 30-Day Paleo Challenge next week, I had a few final indulgences to cross off my list. Kind of like the old sitcom cliché about the father who finds his kid smoking and forces him to smoke an entire carton to learn his lesson. Donuts. Pecan pie. Mac and cheese (done exquisitely at Homewood Diner). Fried chicken. Fried okra. Cheesecake. Of course, gelato.

(Not ours, but pretty close.)

Sadly, we may have exhausted the long list of gelato places (3, total) in Birmingham this month. But with Hart and Soul in Homewood, we saved the best for last.

Display – 4/5. Points off only for not having signs next to each flavor. But they have a spread of flavors a mile long
Creativity – 4/5. Ran the gamut from sorbets to traditional flavors to the tried-and-true ‘mash some cookies or candy bars up in a vanilla base’ formula.
Flavor – 4/5. The mint Oreo was over-the-top good. The peanut butter cup, a 4/5. The Heath bar a 3/5 (and this is coming from a toffee junkie.)
Texture – 5/5. Thick, rich, not grainy or airy. Exactly what I was hoping for.
Affordability – 2/5. $3.95 for a little cup. It *is* filling, though.
Ambience – 4/5. It’s a good little hangout, a loud-ish coffeeshop with plenty of tasty-looking desserts to keep you distracted from your work. Refreshingly hipster-free.
Final – 24/30. This is *the* place to go. They also had a painfully enticing fudge counter. Yes, a fudge COUNTER. Big 2x2x2 inch cubes of creamy goodness, in flavors like “Pure White Chocolate” and “Diabetic Coma”.

Our outing prompted us to brainstorm ideas for ‘extreme ice-creaming’, such as a vanilla base with Dreamcakes’ limited edition molasses-and-bacon cookies mashed in, and maybe some bits of candied bacon. I will, of course, post pictures if/once this monstrosity happens.

The Bench Press Guy Incident: Okay, so yesterday I was at the gym, struggling through my reps of 205 lbs (no small potatoes, I guess) and the Bench Press Guy showed up. I had never seen him before, but apparently he was quite famous. He grabbed every 45 pound weight plate in sight and put it on the bar. A half-dozen ‘bros’ crowded around him and intermittently clapped or patted his shoulders, shouting out double negatives (‘This weight ain’t nothin!’ and so on). With a blood-curdling scream, he forced up 475 pounds, and I was instantly jealous. I guess I felt a little disheartened at my newly feeble-looking attempt, but such is the way of testosterone. I’m sure I can run faster than him, and he looked a lot like Fat Joe (who is apparently on the Paleo Diet himself now), but the lesson learned here is, you can only compare yourself to yourself. Life is a series of improvements.

(Yup, Bench Press Guy was wearing a powder blue Yankees hat, too. Yup, tilted to the side, too.)

I haven’t really thought about the details of my Paleo Challenge, other than the mainstays of the diet, but I would like to do the following, in this order:
– Blog everyday and take pictures of tasty things I cook/eat, along with recipes.
– Post the particulars about my workouts each day that I do them. My plan is to add some uphill sprints (1-2 times a week) to my weightlifting, and to be a little more patient about the actual strength increases I hope/expect to see over this month, if I get any at all. It may be helpful to do a program that works with slightly lighter weights (like Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1) than the reverse pyramid approach I’m using now, which pushes me to failure on pretty much every set.
– Help my asthma.
– Go viral with my blog?
– Get back in Crossfit-era shape.
– Lose about 5 pounds of body fat.

Essentially, I do these 12 strength workouts during the course of month: Squats, Bench, Deadlift, Shoulder Press (3 sets of 5, 3 sets of 3, then 5/3/1) and add in some assistance exercise at the end of each (something I can do 50 total reps of, like lightly-weighted pullups, for example). Starting weight would be about 60% of my conservative estimate of my 1-rep max, which you can calculate with this:

Weight x Reps x .0333 + Weight = Estimated 1RM
Squat – 245 for 5 reps = 285, 60% = 170
Bench – 200 for 5 reps = 230, 60% = 140
Deadlift – 385 for 5 reps = 445, 60% = 265
Shoulder Press – 130 for 5 reps = 150, 60% = 90

As I go through all the machinations of this program, which is meant to be a series of 5-6 week cycles, I’ll be sure to track my progress and see if it’s done better for me than the Leangains do-the-heaviest-weight-first protocol. I did put on a good bit of strength in the first month of Leangains, but it’s starting to plateau just a bit. Time for a shock to the system. In the meantime, I’m going to eat whatever I can, whenever I can, as much as I can. And what luck! It’s sausage pizza day in the cafeteria!

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