Two months mostly strict

Back in September I started to tighten up my intake and I discussed a few reasons why I was doing it.  It has now been two months of eating this way, some things have changed but most has stayed the same.  I feel that it has really helped me in a few ways but there are definitely some drawbacks to being this strict sometimes.  Before getting into all that though I wanted to cover what I’ve kept and what I’ve changed.  Since starting month two on October 1 I have allowed myself more coffee during my day.  I’m not back to the levels I was earlier in the summer, but I’m not limited to just one cup in the morning and on in the afternoon anymore.  Typically this means that I have an extra cup in the evening after my workout either with dinner or as a post dinner drink.  I think that the idea of post dinner coffee is something that has kind of come to me from my mother.  I can remember her having a cup after a meal as a kid, and she still does today.  Also I’ve allowed myself a little bit of snaking here and there.  I generally grab something on the way to the gym after work since it will be a few more hours till dinner.  After getting done with my Outlaw programming then I’d come home and make dinner eating sometime around 8 usually.  My general guidelines for the project haven’t changed, I’m still taking in large amounts of water, I have also excluded iced tea from my drinks so it’s just coffee and water now.   Also I’m not taking in sweeteners with the exception of a celebratory So Delicious ice cream that I got when I was given rehire status to come back next spring.  And I’m trying to make sure that I’m leaning out by keeping an eye on getting enough veggies and not getting crazy with the carbs.  Overall the project this far has been a success, all the extra that I had at the beginning seems to have gone away and I’m pretty lean while keeping the muscle that I have worked to put on this summer.  I feel like body composition wise I’m in a pretty good place and I’m ready to take on the challenges of the holidays that will be in front of me.  I’m not entirely sure how things are going to go for the next two months.  I’m still on the job hunt and while I’m headed back to Illinois that’s not a guaranteed final destination as a park could hire me for the winter still and I would have to relocate again.  Otherwise I’m looking forward to a winter with the family, working somewhere, getting my L1 and trying to do a little coaching.  Sometime over the next week I’m going to put together some comparison pictures of beginning of the summer, mid-summer, and the project to see just how much I have changed during this whole thing.  I bet it will be eye opening to see how different I look. 



For the past few weeks as Sunday rolls around I’m less than motivated to go into the gym.  I’ve been fighting my Olympic lifts and on Sunday I have to try for a new one rep max.  I’ve been stuck at my current weights which I cannot even bring myself to share here because I feel they’re pathetic.  I don’t know what it is, I think that I need to go back to taking video and breaking it down.  I have a feeling that it’s in the hit at my hips.  I’m either not driving hard enough, or driving too far out and so I can’t get the weight into the correct position for me to receive it at the bottom.  Each week I go in and I work up to weights that I should be able to hit but I can’t.  It doesn’t help that on those days I’m working in the main part of the gym with metal plates and so everytime I fail it makes a huge noise and people are less than enthused.  Those days I really need to dig deep sometimes, there’s no one else there to push you, it’s all on what you’ve got inside.  Those are the days that while I’m frustrated there is also a victorious feeling inside of me.  My rule is 3 failed lifts and I’m done, so I push till I fail a weight 3 times.  At that point I move on, I’ve given what I have for that lift and there’s always more work to do.  So while my lifts aren’t where I want them to be and I’m not happy about it, I know that just means that I have more room to grow.  I’m going to start tearing apart my technique over these last few weeks out here and working on finding ways to get more weight up.  New PRs will come, and then I’ll be celebrating a sweet victory, because it wasn’t easy.  It shouldn’t be easy I’m just going to keep pushing through and in the end my success will be all the sweeter for it.

I haven’t put up a picture in forever, I was reading and decided to give an update shot of the beard growth, let me say it is in full effect these days.  It’s to the point that I catch it under the bar in the clean sometimes, I need to do something about that.

Date is Set

My final day working here in PA has been set, I’m here through November 17.  I’m really excited to have the certainty that comes with an end date.  I have enjoyed my time here and I really have gotten to the point where I’m comfortable here, but that means that it’s time for me to experience something new.  For now I’m headed back to Illinois to spend time with the family and apply for jobs.  I’m excited to see them again and spend some time as “Uncle Steve” instead of Ranger Steve for a while.  I’m also looking forward to the adventure that is going to come next.  This goes along with the plans that are coming together for another great time in New York seeing Phish play Madison Square Garden and hanging with friends.  It was a great day, lots of news and a chance to think about spending the holidays with people I love and getting to relax a bit.  Also today I was asked to work the ghost tours next Saturday at work.  It means a crazy long day, but for the tours I’ll be doing my stone cutting demonstrations at night.  I love my job so much sometimes.  I can’t wait to take on the next six weeks.  Wonder how many cool things I can do before I head back.

Overdue update

Wow how have I not written anything in two days.  It seems like the past couple days have gone by without a lot of memorable events yet were filled to the point that I didn’t even think about writing down what was going on.  I the hopes of covering a lot of stuff in a post that’s not horribly long time to dive right in.

It’s hard to believe that it is October already, seems not that long ago I was packing up the Explorer saying my goodbyes and coming out here.  Yet here I am,, having taken on all the various hurdles that have come up this summer, and in many ways it feels like I have passed with flying colors.  The news on the job front is that the park wants to keep me as long as possible.  Right now I know I have another month, I might even get till Thanksgiving, but who knows right now I’m just thankful to have a job.  I’m also still getting to know the people that are at Sports Evolution Crossfit and enjoying my time with them more and more.  They’re a great group of people and find myself having a hard time leaving after doing Outlaw without staying around at least for a while to hang out and chat while they get ready to warm up.  This leads to me doing a number of the WODs they’re taking on each week.  Today was one of those day, I walked in the door and warmed up just before 4, finished my workouts and hung out a bit and found myself taking on the class WOD at 6 because it seemed like a good one.  I’m really thankful that I have this group of people around now.  It’s been a huge improvement to my life here and it makes me think that if asked I would stick around through the winter if they found the funds to pay me.  Also over the last couple days I’ve played around with new recipes and tried my hand at making a Butternut Squash Soup, it was delicious.  I really like the flavor and it is a great part of a meal on these cooler fall days.  I have a feeling that it will show up more and more as the fall goes on.  I may even have to introduce it to the family at the Thanksgiving meal.  They make me cook my own Paleo offerings since they don’t want to have the entire family eat the food I do.  Don’t know why, my food is delicious.  Then this weekend I’m on the road and headed to NYC.  This is going to be a great trip and I’m really excited to see the city and have a good time.  Other events from the last couple days include:

-Starting to get a handle on packing some stuff into boxes now that the weather is changing.

-Rocked my way through season one of Prison Break, forgot how much I liked this how.

-Managed to still have Pumpkin Pie from last week’s baking extravaganza, it’s still awesome and I’m working to limit my intake since I could eat the whole thing at once.

-Cleaned the house like a boss, love having a clean place.

-Made plans to meet a Paleo lady while in NYC, should be interesting I’m really excited she’s very cute and I hope we hit it off.

-Trying to be patient while I wait to hear when the article about me for the Crossfit Journal is going to be published.

-Hoping to make it to Pittsburgh in two weeks for the Practical Paleo book signing.

Update Pictures:


Today is Friday for most people but it’s my Wednesday.  Sometimes the life of a Park Ranger has its odd things that don’t generally get annoying but then there’s days that something will just bug you.  Today was that way for me, I was at work today and it was really slow and the few people that came in were focused on enjoying themselves and making some small talk at the desk.  They made it a point to talk about the weekend and what they were going to do.  All I could think of was that I was days away from my weekend, the idea of sleeping in tomorrow, and watching college football doesn’t happen for me.  I would love to sleep in a bit, hit the 9am WOD come home, cook on the grill and watch a full day of football but that’s not in the cards for me unless I use vacation time.  It’s a small thing but it made me think about how I used to do that every week.  The day seemed longer because of it.  It’s hard sometimes to refocus yourself when you find your mind set on one thing.  I try to focus my energy on positive things, and to concentrate on something that will benefit me in the long run.  But today that just wasn’t happening.  So I need a halftime, can I have a break, get a pep talk and then go back out on the field to finish strong? Life doesn’t offer a halftime, but I’m pushing through anyway.  Tomorrow is another day and I can work on making sure that I spend my time on things that I can change, or things that will make my life better not just being focused on things I can do nothing about.

This week is going to finish strong, tomorrow is my rest day, that means that after work I’m going to do something fun.  I’m thinking that I’ll finally make it to see Finding Nemo in 3D. I’m also pushing forward because this time next week I will be in NYC.  I’m excited for the trip and it should be a great time.  Also I got word that my boss is trying to keep me to Halloween.  So I get a few more weeks of employment out here.  Yay for paychecks so this Ranger can keep paying the bills. Afterwards I’m headed to see the family, man do I miss them a lot.

Pictures of my day:

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Pushing forward and making changes

Today I got an email that I’ve been looking forward to since I sent one to the owner of the affiliate.  When I get back to Illinois I will be joining Crossfit DNA in Dyer, IN.  Looking forward to getting back into the routine of things with this great group of people.  I have visited there when I would go see the family and I feel like it really is a place that I can call home when I move back.  There’s still no word on when that will be but I have a group of people to sweat and suffer with and that makes the  transition much less intimidating.  Also as I said last night I’m going to keep the project going till I leave so in the upcoming weeks here’s what you can expect from me.

I am going to continue to try to post every night, but now I will go back to telling some stories from the last year as well as talking about the day in and day out of being a Park Ranger and keeping the challenge going.  I will also be allowing myself a little more coffee if I feel like having it, I’m having a third cup today after a brutal conditioning WOD I wanted some more and since I cut out tea I have a lower caffeine intake anyway.  I will continue to keep most of the other rules though, no boxed Almond/Coconut milk, nothing with any form of sugar in it, no Paleo Cheats, trying not to snack, drinking lots of water, and working out 6x week.  I’ll also try to keep the pictures of the progress going and hopefully have some new stories for everyone as the time goes by.  I wonder what I will look like to the people who haven’t seen me since May, how many things about me will have changed that I don’t notice but will seem major to someone outside of the transition phase.  I also wonder about the people who were a major part of my life before but now that I’ve been away for so long how will I come back into their lives.  We live in such a connected society yet I can count on one hand the number of people who have regularly contacted me outside of social media that aren’t a part of my family.  If you include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and this blog that number goes up but how many have I had a real conversation with?  The answer is very few.  Even the person that I spent years living with before I moved here has barely talked to me since I left.  What does that say for our society, my friendships in particular, and the people I allow into my life?  I don’t have an answer to that question but it bugs me, I’m sure that a major part of that blame is on me for getting focused on building a life here, but there are many times that I have texted people and never heard back.   I hope that when I return I can rebuild some of these friendships because they were some good friends that I would hate to lose.  Funny how we can be so close to each other yet always at arm’s length.  It’s the end of my weekend and tomorrow starts a week of work, officially it’s 10 days till I head to NYC, still looking for Paleo and Crossfit suggestions if you have any.  I have high hopes for the trip.

Pictures from today:

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Four weeks down, keeping it going

This project started as a four week effort to clean things up a bit as well as to have something to focus on while my life was up in the air with no details on how long my job is going to keep going.  I must admit that the results have been really good.  The progress from week one to today has been good.  Structure that the challenge put into my life gave me a focus that I needed.  The days have been filled with a lot of questions. I do not know how long I will be here, nor do I know what I will do when I get back.  I have no job lined up for when this one is over, and I wait on phone calls for interviews.  The questions of life are with me always, but I can choose to think about them or focus on something else.  The challenge has pushed me to think about the things that I eat, and why I buy what I do.  With the four weeks ending I have chosen to keep the project going.  So I will continue to write everyday, to eat clean and to think about how I treat my body.  The last week of the challenge was a special one.  I want to share some of the highlights.

-First get together for the folks that come to Sports Evolution Crossfit, as a new affiliate it’s great to see the group hanging out more and more.

-Driving to Pittsburgh for a Sunday of greatness, first church service since May, WOD at Crossfit Iron City, first Starbucks in over a month, and my first Paleo meetup.

-Nighttime drive home with the windows down and my thoughts as the Ipod is on shuffle.

-Working on the truck and seeing it progress as well.

It was a great week I did lots of fun things, I planned the trip to see Alex and Craig in NYC, I finished book 30, did my first book review for the blog, had some great WODs, met great people, and ate lots of Paleo Pumpkin Pie.

Here’s my pictures for the week:

Day 1








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Big weekend ahead

It’s been a slow day today, I actually almost didn’t write a post.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the basics of life and just think that there isn’t really anything that people might want to know about that happened that day.  Today I didn’t PR, didn’t finish my book, only had 40 visitors at the park, and did ok on the WOD but nothing special.  I didn’t cheat on the diet, and besides deciding to cut iced tea from my intake because I think I drink too much of it I didn’t do anything different.  So I guess you could call today the day of didn’t.  And I guess that’s worth mentioning.  It was a day where things went along, I did what I needed to, didn’t do anything I shouldn’t do and besides eating a huge dinner which may or may not have been more than I needed it was a day hardly worth noting.

This weekend however is looking to be a big deal.  Tomorrow night I had planned to go to see Finding Nemo, well that is going to have to be pushed back a day.  Because one of the couples at Sports Evolution Crossfit is having a get together at their house. So I’m going to be social instead.  Following that up on Sunday I’m headed to Pittsburgh for my first Paleo meet up.  and while I’m there I’ll hit up one more WOD at my favorite box in town, Crossfit Iron City.  Afterwards I’ll go ahead and see the movie.  I should maybe try to find a place to shower I guess.  That may turn into an issue since I don’t have any ideas where I could get cleaned up.  So if you live in Pittsburgh and you don’t mind a guy coming to shower at your place you should let me know.  Because I’ll be in need of a shower I’m sure.  During the afternoon I don’t have any plans so I’m thinking it will be a Nemo filled afternoon and then off to meet up with new Paleo friends.  Also I currently have three pies in the oven.  One for tomorrow, One for Sunday, and one as an experiment and because I love pumpkin pie.  Here’s a shot of the crusts, and of them headed into the oven.

Goal 1 accomplished

Mobility Day!

And like that one of my goals for the week is down.  I got my schedule for the next two weeks today.  I know getting a schedule on the Thursday before it starts on Sunday is short notice but such is life sometimes.  I had asked for time off for the NYC trip but was told that they didn’t know if I could have it.  Well on the schedule I have the leave.  So October 5-7 I’ll be in NYC.  If you’re in the city and have ideas on Paleo friendly restaurants I could use the tips, also if you have a Crossfit box that I should stop by I’d love to hear why I should go there.  I’ve visited Black Box when I was in the city last year.  So while I might be up for a return trip I was hoping to visit somewhere new.  If you want to meet up for a cup of coffee or something while I’m wandering the city I’m sure that could be arranged as well.  I’m staying in the Bronx with two friends of mine and we are just setting up the things that we will be doing while I’m there.  In other news on Sunday I’m headed to the first Paleo meet up that I’ve been to.  This one is for the group of Paleo eaters in Pittsburgh and I’m looking forward to meeting new people.  The next two weeks are looking pretty exciting.

Other things in my life are still going along, I have my schedule for two weeks but know nothing more than that.  I did sleep better last night, and work today was slow so I’m closing in on finishing Game of Thrones.  It’s been a long read but a good one.  It is officially my 30th book since I started this job.  Not quite as quick as I had hoped to do the 30 books of summer, but I did it.  I’m still feeling good.  Mobility day is always a good day and I enjoyed going in and working on my issues in a more relaxed fashion.  I’m also looking ahead to hitting it hard tomorrow and finishing up the week strong.  Saturday I’m taking myself to go see Finding Nemo in 3D.  You people can judge away, I love that movie and I’m going to enjoy it like a kid.  Thanks to the cold weather I can wear a sweatshirt and bring in a bottle of water to drink.  The only snack that I need for the movie.  I never understand how the theaters can expect someone to pay $4 for a bottle of water.  Oh well great day today, and looking forward to more good times.  Hopefully I will know more about my return to Illinois in the next week or so.



If you were to ask me to sum up my life right now in one word it would be waiting, or maybe better stated anticipation.  Yes, I like anticipation much better, I think it reflects my feelings more.  I am not simply waiting on what is going to happen next.  Instead I am not merely passive but actively looking forward to what comes next.  I spend my days applying for jobs that I find and constantly hunting for opportunities.  I also am looking forward to packing new experiences into these last few weeks here in Pennsylvania.  But there is a problem, I don’t know how much longer that I will be here.  Technically I’m only promised my job through the end of the week.  The next schedule could come out and my name not be on it.  I don’t expect that to happen but it could.  I could be given a couple more weeks and the first weekend of October be told that my job isn’t here anymore and I’m headed back to Illinois.  It is a stressful way to live.  Not having any control over that part of my future.  When I apply for jobs I pick a start date with no idea if I’ll be employed until that job begins or not.  I have a hard time planning things to do because I don’t know if I can commit to being around more than a couple weeks from now.  I want to set up the dates for the NYC trip with Alex.  I had a great time with him and Craig in January, those two are great and I really want to see them again.  I also would love to make it back down to DC and I need to plan my trip back home so I have a couple of days with my little brother at college.  But all of that is on hold.  I can’t make any decisions for the fall until I know how long I’ll have this job.  I’ve gone through many emotions about it.  I’ve been stressed, worried, excited, apathetic, and amused even.  But at this point I’m just nervous that I will not be given more than a week or so notice and I’ll have to scramble to get things together to go back and I won’t accomplish the things that I want to do here.  Because of this the structure of being strict has been a great distraction keeping my mind off of other things.  I can focus on making sure that I’m following the rules of my challenge and taking care of myself.  Also seeing the changes that It’s given me has been a great positive when it’s easy to get bogged down in all of the parts of life that aren’t so great.  I hope that at some point the powers that be realize that they are playing with my life here and let me have some sort of idea on my time here and how that it is going to continue or not continue into the fall.

Besides the waiting I’ve noticed something else lately.  I pee all the time, not even remotely what feels like a normal amount.  Last night I was up three times in the night to do it.  I know that I drink a lot of water but seriously body get on board here.  I’m sure that’s more about me than you wanted to know, but I felt like this post should contain something about the challenge in it.  Otherwise I’m still thinking of keeping this thing going until next month, maybe even longer.  Who knows I may rock the challenge until I get bored with it.  I would like to have more coffee in my day though.  If I go back to Starbucks that would be hard.