Archive for the ‘consistency’ Category

Working Hard

I wrote this note last spring regarding how I was feeling trying to change my fitness level and overall health, entitled Day 20: I Wonder What They Think.

Last night was the 6th workout of my 3rd week in TapouT XT.  As I grunted and growled through Sprawl and Brawl on my garage floor, I thought of Monica Seles in a championship match and wondered who might be walking by outside.

I didn’t think it would happen.  I weighed in at 218.8 on day 1 and could barely limp downstairs since my right knee hurt so bad from the Pinnacle Peak run on Super Bowl Sunday morning with Craig.  218.8 pounds after a morning pit stop and wearing nothing but a sad look on my face.  I was still working my way through another crappy illness brought home for me from school by my kids.

The workout was a lesson in the ridiculous.


I struggled through the warm-up with my knee, but it complied eventually.  I don’t know how many times I exclaimed: “Seriously?!” during the workout while I tried to work past my still injured right shoulder and elbow and my general upper body weakness.

My push up(s) looked like I needed a Medic Alert necklace and someone to push the button for me.

I pressed on through the first workout.  My glimmer of hope rested in two things: I liked K-Train.  His approach appealed to me and there were portions of the workout that were designed to be more cardio than strength and, in these, I held my own.

I pledged to return for the second day looking forward to a challenging journey towards an eight pack stomach.  Seriously, is that really something ever proven visible in my family?  My equator measurement was 40.5″ that first morning.  How far towards the center of the earth will I have to go to find this mystical eight pack?  Must be WAY down there.

No more excuses.  Just honest effort and a LOT of sweat.

Through the first six workouts and onto the couch for my first rest day.  Seriously on the couch, bed rest-like, with my 9-year-old son home sick from school.  We watched Netflix and dozed a good portion of the day away while my wife, Lynn, home from her travels that day, entertained my 2 1/2-year-old, Michael.

The rest helped and the killer cold subsided gradually.  The family in general coughed less and I hit the second week with energy after seeing a half-inch slide off of my equator in a single week and feeling sore in places I didn’t know you could feel anything.

Think of how you could change things up in your daily routines.

@MochaVegan / Phipps Morning Green Smoothie
part 2 – the history of blending at my house

The other night I did an email post that showed screen shots from My Fitness Pal with the ingredients for my morning smoothie. The long evolution of my diet requires more writing before I break down the recipe.

It is a large jump from a Coke-and-a-slice-of-cold-pizza breakfast to having a green smoothie every morning and no longer drinking Coke or eating pizza. Pizza, by the way, was the largest barrier to being fully plant-based for me. It was the last to go and my daughter still gives me her crust 🙂 My point being there is a way to get there:

Take small steps

I saved for a long time to get my Blendtec. I had originally started with a Bella brand 2 cup capacity machine (similar in size to a nutri-bullet). I used it when I started trying to cook things or make sauces.

I used to get frustrated as I started tracking my food intake with as I would make something like a four-can chili – I will post a recipe for this – and it would have tons of sodium once I input all of the ingredients.

I started reading labels

I looked closer to discover that the canned tomatoes had enough salt for the whole recipe, so did the fresh salsa, so did the canned beans… No matter what I added from MY pantry, it was loaded with salt.

Slowly start to substitute

I visited a long neglected area of my Fry’s, the produce section. BTW, the only thing I ever bought from there was a bunch of bananas, when requested, or a bag of potatoes at Thanksgiving.

I found that the cheapest tomatoes were Roma at about 99 cents per pound so I used those.
I could fit 2-3 of them at a time in my Bella, run my little noise maker for thirty seconds, pour it in the pot and do it again several times depending on the size of my chili…it was still a little chunky as this machine was more of a high-speed mixer than blender.

Cook your own beans

Buying dried beans is really inexpensive. You can buy them in small bags at the grocery store or in bulk at a Sprouts or Whole Foods (I’ve never been to a Whole Foods). I never realized that beans were so tasty. So the big mystery around beans is that you have these little hard stones and in order to cook them, first soak them overnight. Then you boil and slow cook them on the stove. I love tasting them as they cook and then setting them on the window sill to cool (and continuing to taste them). I cooked them with almost no salt. I am determined that you can salt the product to taste.

Grind nuts for salad dressings

Though tasty, I would have to chew the dressing a little. It was a recurring theme of too small of a container and not powerful enough for the final blended product to be smooth.

Then I met the Vitamix lady at Costco

Picture me in love, googly-eyed, with the machine in her hands. I stood there and watched and sampled creation after creation with my kids. We stayed one night for 90 minutes while my food melted in the cart – until they turned out the lights.

I had a dream

$500 woke me up. Plus the extra pitcher and the better model – I was seriously looking at closer to $700. So I saved up until I had $500 and went into Costco ready to convert my gift cards for the machine of my dreams. Thirty minutes later, I walked away, empty-handed. I couldn’t do it. After a couple other visits I purchased a Ninja system for $119 on sale right before Christmas 2013. It had the small containers like my Bella, a huge blender and a wider bowl.

Sharp blades cut stuff

I get home with my thrifty purchase, which already had the blade in the pitcher, and rinsed it out in preparation for a test drive. When I dumped out the water the blade fell into the sink unexpectedly and I reached to catch whatever was falling and…SLICED MY THUMB OPEN. Now I was bleeding instead of blending…and that stunk. So I started with my Ninja for a few weeks and was able to make green smoothies, but they were more of a liquid salad. The blade system in the Ninja didn’t fully grind up the leaves of the kale or spinach to make it smooth.

After a few weeks my memories of the Vitamix and the urging of my friends that this was the best unit they’d every bought kept bugging me.

I went to a new Costco in early January and there she was, the same Vitamix demonstrator with my machine. I was three weeks into green smoothies now and knew MUCH more than I did the last time we’d been talking. I had her make what I made at home and it was AWESOME. So smooth, so tasty, my kids even drank it!

I decided it was time for the better machine

The next night I went to my Costco to buy the Vitamix. Ha, God sent me there because the Vitamix that I wanted was a demo only model and was at the other Costco 15 miles away. I realized this when I walked in with my son and my head hung low. But I went to see the shelf model. This is when I met the very-well-placed Blendtec lady on the end of the aisle where the blenders are shelved. She offered to make what I was interested in making with greens and fruit and almond milk and it was equally awesome. There wasn’t one of those push sticks, but the blades naturally drew the materials down to them.

She made me feel the blades

Not only don’t the blades come out, but they are not sharp. My engineer-style brain still has trouble understanding how that works, but it does. The red machine that now resides in my laundry room and gets used at least EVERY MORNING was only $300. I have the red model on the left.

World's Best Blender (Go check out their will it blend series on YouTube. Very funny!)

This started as a way to tell about the morning smoothie, but the history of the blending revolution at my house was a story I needed to share.


What type of things do YOU put into your favorite smoothie?

If you don’t make your own, what is your favorite smoothie or milkshake that people make for you?

Let me know what you like, I may have a recipe for that or a suggestion for making it a little better.

Thanks for tuning in!


You walk into a restaurant on a Friday night. You expect to wait.

My expectation is typically that a slightly stressed out young lady at the podium is scribbling frantically with a marker on a seating plan and barely looks up to ask me the number in my party and my name, only to dismiss me with a half smile and look back to the seating chart. Wait seating is likely limited and I will wait for a while to get a drink.

What would you think if you walked in the door on a typical Friday to have this happen:

The hostess warmly greets you and thanks you for coming in. She reads your mind and says, “Yes, we have a lot of people waiting tonight. However we have comfortable seating here in the bar and I will personally give Jamie (the server in the bar) your drink order so you can best enjoy your time. While waiting she comes back to update you that your table is not ready, but the list is moving quickly and is there anything else you’d like, perhaps an appetizer?

I’d think WOW! Today, listening to Michael Hyatt’s This is Your Life podcast, he defined WOW as the difference between someone’s expectation and their actual experience.

What ways have you provided WOW service in your life?

What WOW moments have been memorable to you?

What is the biggest obstacle to creating WOW?


Snooze…snooze, yawn, stretch and slowly slide out of bed. I am not late. This is the Lost Dutchman. No crazy lines. Park and walk for a while, but get there in time for a minimal wait at the porta-johns and start the race.

I wore my crazy orange shoes. I don’t wear them often because they broke me in good the first time I tried to run in them. Within a mile-and-a-half they removed the skin from atop a toe ON EACH FOOT! I am such a softy, seriously, I had to take the shoes off and complete the last 3/4 mile barefoot. The cars driving by must have really thought I was strange – running barefoot and carrying those crazy orange shoes.


Today I came armed with socks. I even put some body glide on top of my toes (just in case). I hydrated heavily yesterday AND this morning. I had a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and about one cup of my green smoothie. I have been having green smoothies every morning for about six weeks now. It has become a forever habit. I will write a post about my smoothie very soon and tell everyone what I put in it in case you need a nudge to get started. Remind me if I forget, thanks.

I looked at the starting area when I arrived ten minutes or so before go time and thought how cool that you are not forced into corrals based upon your race number and predicted finish time like some other races. I looked at the sign next to the front area that said 5:00 pace. Woa, how cool would it be to someday line up in there and BELONG there!?! I glanced back and saw my friend 9:00 and I looked back at 6 and 7, but I was thinking about 8-minute miles. That doesn’t seem that fast, right? 13.1 times 8 gets me to 1:45…

Let’s see how it goes.

I miss the start taking a quick pit stop, but that clears the area a little and head out fording the sea of energetic runners. After 3 or 4 minutes I see my wife, Lynn, and wish her well. I will see her again on the way back. I thought about my number again, 8.

There was a good downhill in the fourth mile, so I tried to bank as many seconds below 8 minutes as I could in anticipation of being tired and dealing with hills and the morning breeze starting to pick up later in the race. I tested my pace, but didn’t have much extra to give, so I focused on cadence. Quick turnover to keep the steps light. I did not want to make that fatal flaw of taking too large of a stride in a slow cadence and actually slow myself down even more. I was slowly passing people, one-at-a-time, through the entire first half. I hit the turnaround at 52:26 and my fear became real – I had used half of my self-allotted 1:45 and I had uphill, wind and tiring legs to contend with.

Quick feet, Mark, focus.

I saw my brother-in-law at mile 7 (he was at 6.1 and doing very well). I encouraged him and kept moving. I saw Lynn around mile 7.6 and she asked me when she’d finish (I of course rounded up – she beat my prediction).

I had considered taking a Gatorade or Gu, but that wasn’t how I did things. I drank water at each aid station. At mile 8 or 9 they had bananas and that’s how I do things. Thank you!

Things slowed down when I made the next turn. That incredible downhill from the outward half was now up AND into the wind. I considered slowing and getting behind a couple of different people and drafting. I couldn’t spare the seconds as I lost 49 seconds over miles 10 & 11. Then I saw the big hill. Brain takes it all in and informs body that there is no way.

Step step step step step. Fast and light.

The banana from the aid station is now in my bloodstream and sugar helps me subdue my negative thoughts. I dumped water on my head at the last two aid stations and that helped take overheating out of the picture. I enjoy the scenery and pass more people now that I am back within the 10K course. Lots of people. No worries. I move left to the center line like an 18-wheeler getting ready to pass on a two way road. I rode that line for almost a mile. RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE!

Hello Mr. Hill.

The hill seemed to stare back at me. I pulled aside another runner with the green race number like my #1638 and described how I felt. He said it was mental. “You’re right, thanks!”

I accelerated into the hill.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I was winded and the last half mile looked pretty long with my new 170-something heart rate going on. I remember thinking 220 minus my age is EXACTLY WHAT MY WATCH SAYS. Let’s get ‘er done already.

I was happy to cross the finish line – it made me smile big now, writing this, at 1:44:56. My official time was less, but it was really cool to beat that seemingly unattainable 1:45 and just under an 8-minute pace. I am convinced that my new found plant power is always improving my body. Slowly reversing the damage done by years of abuse by food and drink.

This is the first of many milestones and I invite you all to come along for the ride. I will teach you everything I know so that you can feel what I felt crossing that line yesterday.

Small positive steps and intentional change will take you to the goals you never dared dream. My best half marathon was my first – 1:54 in 2004. Ten years older and ten minutes faster. I want the next ten minutes in less time than that.

Here’s to you runners and runners-at-heart. Pursue your dreams. Aim high –  I love that saying:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.― Norman Vincent Peale


Green smoothie time!

Green smoothie time!


Before TapouT XT

Day 1 Lizzy, take my picture before I start this workout series thing.


A year ago I started an exercise program that changed my life.


20130430 - Day 85 picture

Day 85 and I was feeling good. I went through the program AGAIN directly after the first 90 days doing my workouts in the garage in the Arizona summer.

After 90 days I was pretty happy with my progress.

I will tell the long version of this story another time, but suffice to say that something I read years ago in Younger Next Year about working out, pretty hard, six days a week for about an hour each day was what you needed to do each day for the rest of your life. During the periods of the last year when I held to that plan, I prospered and improved. During the lazier times, I slowly slid back toward a softer side of me…growth or decay. Think of it. You are either getting better or fading away. Remember Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” You decide the direction you want to take. Just start moving, whatever you can do every day. Once you can, add more.

The name of the workout series is TapouT XT. Mr. Mike Karpenko and this series of workouts brought out things I did not know I had. My Facebook page relating to TapouT XT – mostly about how I felt at times.

Remember that money you put into self improvement, always pays you back in the long run.