Getting Back In Shape…

Over the past few years, I’ve made some variant of the “get back into shape” New Year’s Resolution multiple times. Talk to any regular at the Gym, and they’ll tell you all about the January – February rush before things return back to normal.

The past couple years, I’ve struggled with increased mobility issues. So much so, that I spent some time with a Doctor and Physical Therapist for my knees. The general consensus is some form of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. After 6 months of physical therapy, I felt a marginal improvement. This year, I decided I was tired of pain and would attempt to tackle my knees, as well as improve my health.

My ‘start stats’ for this journey (Aug 31):

  • Male
  • 6’6″
  • 260 lbs

I plan on writing up how things go, if only to help myself track progress. I’ve made a few different changes:

  1. Eliminate high-caffeine, soda, high-sugar desserts and foods. I’ve tried to align my diet in order to better control blood sugar, and hopefully prevent diabetes. Started at beginning of August.
  2. Start tracking caloric intake and logging foods / feeling. I’m using MyFitnessPal for my log. I’ll look at writing a more complete review later. Followed for about 2 weeks now.
  3. Monitor activity level, sleep, and heart rate. I’m using Garmin Connect and a VivoActive HR for monitoring. Followed for about a week now.
  4. Gym Lifting Program. I started a membership at our area YMCA, and began working with one of their fitness coaches. As part of a YMCA membership in our area, you get 6 sessions with a fitness coach where they help you build an exercise program. Followed for about a week now.
  5. Returned to the Dojo. I restarted a martial arts program at a new local dojo. It’s an odd feeling having been a fairly advanced student and returning as a white belt. I appreciate a lot more what’s going on, and can focus on the basics again. This also gives me a reason to do daily stretches and excercise beyond the schedule class times. Started at beginning of September.

I think I’m finally starting to see some results, but time well tell. The real question is “can I stick with it?”. Hopefully tracking / posting will help. Meanwhile, a video from one of the Dojo’s I decided to avoid:

Feeding Chickens

I’ve been changing the way I’m feeding my chickens over the last couple months.  While I was doing my research on fodder systems for the rabbits I realized that I could feed my chickens fodder as well.  It was a bit of a revelation to me, I just hadn’t thought about it before.  The reading I’ve been doing seems to say that they like sprouted feed a bit more then actual fodder, so that’s what I’ve been doing for them.

My system looks like this:


It’s just shoe boxes stacked on top of each other.  Each one has holes drilled into the bottom on one side.  I water the top one and the water trickles down to the bottom, empty, box.  I alternate the side the holes are on in each box so the water has to flow the length of the box on the way down.  The lids have a hole in them so the water can flow through:


Each box has 1/4 cup wheat, 1/4 cup barley, and 1/4 cup peas.  I have eliminated the peas starting today, since they don’t eat them.  I’m not sure why they don’t seem to like them, but they’ve been picking around them for a month now, so I don’t think they are going to start eating them any time soon.  I am feeding 5 chickens right now, 3 hens and 2 “hens” that started crowing today.  I will be feeding 3 chickens very soon….

Since I will be going down to 3 chickens in a couple days, I have started putting 1/4 cup wheat and 1/4 cup barley in to soak:


I soak the grains anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, I haven’t noticed any difference in growth depending on time I’ve soaked them so I don’t worry about it too much.  I stick the grain in in the morning, and rinse it really well in a strainer in the evening:


It rotates through the system and on day 7 it looks like this:


This is when I feed it out to the chickens.  I have tried various days of sprouting up through fodder, and my chickens seem to eat day 7 sprouts the best. 

I also feed the chickens fermented feed:


This is organic layer ration.  It is a mixed grain feed that I get from Thayer Feed and Seed.  I didn’t care for it too much when I was feeding it out dry to the chickens.  It seemed like it was ground too fine, and almost seemed to be dust to me.  Now that I am fermenting it it seems to work really well.

I started my fermented feed with kefir whey.   I have an ongoing milk kefir culture that I drink as well as feed to the animals so I strained out the whey and mixed it with some of the layer ration and water, then left it to ferment for two days.  Every day I feed out about 4 cups of the fermented feed, add 2 cups of dry layer ration, some water, and stir.  It seems that the two cups of layer ration I put in there turn into about 4 cups of fermented feed. 

The chickens really like the fermented feed.  They took right to it.  I have noticed a reduction in smell in the coop, not that it smelled to begin with, but it smells like nothing now.  They also get scraps from the house, occasional kefir, and alfalfa scraps from the rabbits.  They have a big area to free range in, as well as having access to the whole garden during the winter.  I’m not sure how much nutrition they are getting out of free ranging in the winter, but they sure do like to get out and scratch around.  I’m dumping all the rabbit cage stuff into the garden as well, and they like to pick out the grains and fallen alfalfa from there as well. 

I’ve been reading a thread on about feeding fermented feed to Cornish cross meat birds.  It is supposed to make them better able to absorb the nutrients in the feed and therefor grow better, move around better, and not sit around in a pile of their own poop, so there for reducing smell.  I am excited to try it, I refuse to ever again butcher meat chickens that smelled like our last batch of Cornish cross…..I couldn’t even eat them, I kept smelling that smell, even though no one else could.

After our dog died this year we got a female aussie.  She was fine with the chickens right up until she wasn’t…..she ended up killing all but three of my chickens.  We re-homed her,  I can’t have a dog that kills my stock.  Right now I have 2 Buckeye’s and 1 Black Marans… well as two “hens” we held back from our last heavy meat bird order, that turned out to be roosters.  I saw one of them crowing today.  So, today I ordered 5 female Buckeye’s and 10 Cornish cross meat birds, they will be delivered the week of March 17th, from Meyer Hatchery.  I will be raising my new girls in the house so I have pet laying birds, which I want, being just a backyard flock.  I like my super friendly birds, and I’m in love with the Buckeye’s.  The Cornish cross will be an experiment to see if I can raise them on fermented feed and get a better smelling free ranger with a heavy breast.  I don’t mind the Cornish cross as meat birds, but man I can’t stand the smell!!!!


Some Things from Around the Web

A couple of things have caught my eye in the last couple days and I wanted to share:

1.  Someone Worked Very Hard To Make That “Natural” Piece Of Lunch Meat Look Imperfect

Just goes to show you what I’ve always said:  the perception of your enjoyment in food is 50% how it looks,  30% how it smells,  and only 20% how it tastes.  Here is another good example. 


This one just makes me crazy.  I hope it works out okay for that guy. 

3. Waldo Farmers Market

I’m glad to see more farmers markets out there that aren’t just on the weekends,  this one is on Wednesday’s.  This one is also a bonus because it’s in the parking lot of one of my favorite stores: Habitat for Humanity ReStore.   I shop there for all kinds of different things to fix up the house.

4.  Bad Seed Farmers Market

This one is open on Friday’s.   This is where I found Parker Farms,  which is where I get all our meat from,  that we don’t raise ourselves.

I’ve been sick now for almost two weeks.  It seems like I caught the flu,  then caught a head cold.   I’m assuming they are the same illness,  but it sure seems like they have been two separate things.  I’m so ready for this to be done with.  Something I’ve discovered that I do want to share: generic mucinex in NO Way compares to the brand name stuff.  The brand name stuff is SO MUCH better!  I sure won’t be buying the generic again. 


27 days

I changed my diet 27 days ago now to a low carb and sugar free diet. I just went cold turkey, from a vegetarian diet prior, which was interesting to say the least.  I am basically following the paleo diet these days, tho that’s just a label to make it easy to reference the way I am eating.  I’ve heard it called paleo, primal, caveman, and various other things, all being about the same. 

My main goal with changing the way I eat was trying to find a way of eating that 1. Made me feel healthy and 2. Made it more likely that we would eat out of the garden. 

Some things that I’ve noticed after changing my diet for 27 days:

1.  No more heartburn

Seriously.  I used to have heartburn every day no matter what I ate. It seemed like a constant thing that I was just living with.  It’s gone now, literally overnight.  I hope for good!

2.  I feel a lot less tired all the time

I don’t feel nearly as run down all the time like I used to.  Considering that its winter, which is usually a tough time for my energy levels being anything but non-existent, I think that’s pretty impressive. 

3.  I feel leaner

This isn’t about loosing pounds, which I have, but about how my body feels.  I used to be pretty substantially muscled, which I feel like I’ve lost over the last couple years.  I’ve been feeling a lot weaker, as well as just kind of generally “puffy.” Not bloated, just kind of fluffy.  I’ve lost about 10lbs according to the scale, but I swear I’ve lost many inches of fluffyness all over my body.  I’m hoping to be able to gain back all the muscle I feel I’ve lost this year.   I’m not concerned with what the scale tells me I weigh, but with how “in shape” I feel in general.  I’ve been feeling more and more out of shape the last couple years, which has seemed strange to me considering I feel I am far more physically active these days then I used to be.  I blame it on my former vegetarian diet.

4.  I don’t have a stuffy nose every morning

Not entirely sure what’s up here with this.  It used to be that I would wake up every morning and desperately need to blow my nose.  Sometimes many times throughout the day.  I’ve felt almost constantly stuffy for awhile now, but for some reason that seems to have gone away.  I’m not sure what I cut out that caused this, however, I’m happy about it! 

5.  I’m loosing that constant craving for sugar

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to nom down some chocolate hardcore.  I’ve been slowing myself a couple pieces of chocolate at night, as I feel depriving myself completely of the things I love is foolish.  It just makes me more likely to binge on an entire chocolate bar (or three!) when I don’t allow myself a small controlled amount.  It’s the taste of the chocolate I want tho, not the sugar.  There was a time where I’d crave sugar constantly, and it didn’t matter at all what kind it was.  Candy, cookies, cake, tons of sugar in my coffee in the morning, I’d even eat brown sugar straight out of the jar!  That craving is going away, slowly, but it is going away.  These days I still want the sugar, but its a lot easier to ignore. 

6.  I am shopping for food almost exclusively at the farmers market

I’ve bought almost everything in the last few weeks that we’ve been eating at the farmers market here in town.  All localy grown meats and vegetables.  This gives me great hope that this year we should be able to eat out of our garden as far as produce goes.  I am hoping to be able to have the money to join the meat csa that Parker Farms puts out. This is the farm I’ve been buying my meat from, and it is awesome. 

I know there are more things I’ve noticed in these 27 days, but those are the ones that stick out in my head.  I had said originally that I’d be trying this diet for 30 day and then re-evaluate how I felt….but I can tell you 3 days early (and, really even after the first week!) that I don’t intend to change the way I eat. 

I just feel so much healthier these days.

– Fin