Thursday, March 9, 2017

I Recently Turned 37...

Weird Selfie Face!
...And I celebrated by power-walking the 2017 Bockfest 5k! This was my 2nd 5k ever, and I finished it in 51:08, which is about a 3.5 mph pace. I actually had a better end time in my 1st event, but I did jog pieces of that one, so I’m still proud. I am challenging myself to enter more 5k’s in the future until I can finally run the full 3.1 miles.
Upon completion, each finisher received a medal, which also
acts as a bottle opener. I thought that was a nice touch. 😊

The Bockfest 5k is part of the overarching Bockfest Festival, which celebrated its 25th year in 2017. Per the website ( “Bockfest is a uniquely Cincinnati event, celebrating the brewing of Bock Beer and the coming of spring. Bock Beer is traditionally brewed for special occasions. It is complex, hardy, traditionally has a higher nutritional content than most beer and typically has a higher alcohol content. It has a particular link to spring because German monks drank it as a substitute for food during Lenten fasts.”

“Bockfest™ was created by the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company to celebrate the brewery’s introduction of Christian Moerlein Bock. The company eventually decided to make the launch of the bock beer into an entire festival.”

“The Bockfest 5K is the first of three races in the Christian Moerlein Beer Series, including the Little Kings Mile on Flying Pig weekend and the Hudepohl 14K and 7K on Oktoberfest Weekend. The Bockfest 5K celebrates the brewing history of Cincinnati and ends with a party worthy of a Beer Baron.”

I believe the actual 5k event started in 2013, and this year it was sold out. Anyway, I figured a little bit of history was in order, as this was my first year experiencing any part of this festival, and I’ve actually lived in the area for almost 11 years now! Unfortunately, I didn’t take part in the other events, but I still had a great time.

Upon registration, each participant received a Bockfest t-shirt plus a numbered and chipped bib, which included tickets for two drinks and a Skyline Cheese Coney for after the race. The chip itself is used to record each participants start and end times. I believe it’s some kind of RFID.

The course itself started and ended in Over-The-Rhine, right next to the Christian Moerlein Brewery/Bockfest Hall. I like that they set it through a mix of flat streets and hills so it feels like you’re getting a really good workout, even if you’re just walking. That incline really gives it some oomph.

Once you finish, you are invited to turn in your Coney and drink tickets and stay a while, but it was so crowded and the lines were super long. My friends and I actually ended up giving our tickets away to some lucky revelers, and walked a couple of blocks to The Eagle OTR. Apparently, they have some excellent friend chicken. I actually chose a Shrimp and Kale salad, however, since I had a birthday dinner later that night at Boi Na Braza. I did get a chance to enjoy some Sweet Baby Jesus!, though.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Weight Loss Journey

For 3.5 years, I would eat and drink whatever I wanted. At the beginning of this time, a long-term relationship had come to its end, and I re-introduced meat to my diet after living as a vegetarian for close to 7 years. I remembered quickly the foods I used to enjoy, like chicken wings, peppered salami, and brats. Drinking also made me feel better, of course, so I indulged in a lot of craft beer, wine, and the occasional mixed drink. Ultimately, I started dating someone new; someone whose family likes to gather for football and basketball games, potluck style. There were new dips I had never tried and someone always brought pizza, chili cheese coney crates, or hot wings. I didn’t even try to stop myself. 

Ultimately, I would gain 45 pounds atop my already 20 lb. overweight frame and end up at just under 200 lbs. on the scale. This low point was right after a weekend in Gatlinburg for New Year’s 2017. I finally reached my wits end. I couldn’t afford to keep buying new clothes and maybe more importantly, I felt extremely unhealthy and weak.

On January 9th, I changed my eating and exercise habits. I’m not going to call it my New Year’s resolution, as it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but I did feel it would certainly be easier to start these changes after all the holidays were over for the year. Sure, I could have made my changes sooner, but when you’re battling a food discipline problem it’s definitely ten times harder to start creating new habits when you have tasty and fattening foods shoved in your face at every turn! 

I also wanted to start at a time where I could make going to the gym a regular habit. Being out of work for holidays and/or PTO time would have made that more difficult, and I don’t currently have any workout gear at home, save for a set of 5 lb. dumbbells and a yoga mat. Not that these tools are without merit, but as someone coming back into it from 0% activity, and having so much weight to lose, I really wanted to add some strong cardio in first to get my heart pumping, and hopefully lose some of my middle-aged belly.

In the past, eating healthy and nutritious foods - and sticking to it long-term - has actually never been a problem for me. I would consider myself somewhat of a food connoisseur, so I haven’t have trouble finding ones I love all along the spectrum. Adding extra fruits, veggies, healthy grains, and proteins to my diet is actually fun. I’ve become decently knowledgeable about nutrition in my time as well, so I’ve learned how to create healthy, balanced meals. 

Part of my issue regarding exercise in the past has been that I’m too lazy to go out of my way to drive to a gym, especially on work nights. I like having a nice block of time at home in the evenings, so I feel “off” when I don’t get enough of it. I am fortunate in that my place of employment moved to a new building a few months ago, which has an in-house gym on the 2nd floor. All of these factors seemed to make it a perfect time to get back on the horse.

I started my current journey by deciding how many calories a day I would consume in order to lose weight. They say you burn a certain amount per day just by doing your usual thing: sleeping, running internal processes, such as digestion and circulation, or typing on a computer. I used my current information in a calculator on the Self website to try to get an idea of this number. You can find that calculator here:

At the time, I was 0% active, and since I sit at a desk job I chose sedentary as my activity level. According to this calculator, I burn about 2139 calories. That seems awfully high to me, but they do suggest that this is just an estimate and the true number can be very individual to each person. I imagine things like frame size, muscle mass, etc., come into play as well. 

I’m all about making changes safely and slowly, especially since I wanted this to be a long-term effort. I figured I would aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week. I didn’t want to do this by using any weird pills or taking part in short-term diets, like super low-carb or those ones that basically make you lose a bunch of water weight. I also didn’t want to completely restrict myself. If I really wanted to eat a particular thing, I would do it.

Based on all this, I chose to limit myself to no more than 1350 calories per day. This amount would allow me to fit in a snack and a fulfilling dinner, and was based on past success. For exercise, I decided to commit to 3 days per week to start. I wanted to choose an amount that didn’t seem overwhelming while I was building this new habit. I didn’t want to over commit and get discouraged, but I wanted it to be enough to make a difference.

So how has all this worked so far?

I use My Fitness Pal to log my foods and exercise. I will note, however, that you have to do your own research. Some of the wishful thinking calories listed in the app that other people have added over time are crazy! If something doesn’t sound right, I google it or verify it against a nutritional menu or label. I also use measuring cups and spoons, plus a scale to weigh out ounces. This has been really helpful while I re-learn portion sizes. Some of them are sad. 😡

It has been awesome to be able to ride the elevator down a few floors, change into my workout clothes, and just start exercising without having to battle traffic or stress about how much time I will have leftover for my relaxing evening. This has worked out well so far. I have also been adding some floor exercises and general stretching at home just to mix it up on the days off. I’ve even added extra days a couple of times, especially after those couple of guilty weekends. (I’m human). I plan to eventually buy a stationary bike for at home. I’ve had one in the past and found great use for it while watching TV. No excuses! I am really proud that I have stuck with the exercise, even more so than the diet changes. I have actually been looking forward to exercising each time. I wouldn’t say I’m as excited about it as some of the people you see, but I feel accomplished somehow each time and I feel like I’m getting stronger. My legs especially have seen some noticeable toning. Still working on that beer belly. Being middle-aged sucks. 😛

Food-wise, the best part has been discovering completely new recipes or new and different ways to change up old ones. It has also allowed me to discover some fun new spice mixes and sauces too. I try to do any prep I might need to do, like grocery shopping or cutting up veggies, on the weekend. The only frustrating part has been that there are still a lot of places that don’t post their nutritional information. I try to avoid those as much as possible. If I do go, I try my best to estimate, but you’d be surprised at how fattening or calorific some meals are, even ones you thought looked or sounded lighter! 

Calorie-wise, I have been trying to stay in the range of 1250-1300. This has seemed to work and I rarely feel hungry now that I am used to my changes and the carb and sugar craving are lessening. Actually, I recently ate a yogurt I used to love and was surprised at how sugary it was to me! And my only complaint about going out to eat now is how salty most places make the meats, like chicken breast or steak. It’s amazing how quickly our bodies can adapt to changes when we let them.

As for my lack of restrictions, I have found that I usually choose to forego the delectable bad stuff. That short-term high you get is temporary and there is almost no nutritional value involved. I have been way more satisfied when I have put together those balanced meals or extra proteins. I usually try to consider the trade-offs. “Will eating this thing really be worth having to eat less today to stick to within my range?” Maybe sometimes it is. Sometimes you might just need a fun-size candy bar! I have missed drinking, though. I can’t lie. I decided to stop until I got my diet under control, and I’ve found I’ve been okay without most nights. I’m definitely going to go back to it socially, however. I mean, I have a birthday coming up soon. 😀

All in all, I have gone from 197.8 to 182.8 as of last weigh-in. 15 pounds. Not bad for about 50 days.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Sadness For My Country

I feel true sadness today. I’ve been reading a lot of comments about all that has gone on over the past couple of days. There is a lot of hate, a lot of anger, but fortunately, still a lot of love. 

Interestingly, the comment that struck me the most was one from a woman on Twitter. She was arguing back and forth with a man who was trying to be rational about the recent shooting of Philando Castile (“we don’t have all the facts yet,” etc). Her response included referring to him as “you people” because the man was black, which must mean he is part of some separate group, right? 

First of all, it’s sad to me that so many people jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. You can blame the media for this, but I can’t leave it at that. Sure, the media is irresponsible and sometimes it’s obvious they just want to fan the flames in order to get some juicy coverage, but there has to be some personal accountability. Maybe your first instinct is to want to trust people. I get that. It’s a lovely notion. The fact is, though, there are people that can’t be trusted. People who have agendas and want to intentionally mislead. And maybe most of the time, there are people who just plain get it wrong and their misinformation can’t be taken back because 100,000 people have grasped onto some piece of that straw and run with it. Don’t be one of those people!

But really, the biggest problem is this: if you consider someone separate from you, a fellow American, a fellow Human, all due to the color of their skin, there is no way we will ever be united. How about you stand up to violence period. How about we unite over the fact that we want to live in one of the best countries in the world, peacefully, and we don’t want the few bad apples to ruin that. If you’re going to hold onto the us vs. them mentality, why do you have to use it to divide? Instead, try looking for the things that can bridge the gap. 

This country is so divisive right now. And why? So you can live in your tight little box with 1,000 other people who are exactly like you and will agree with everything thing you believe? Or is it so you can be right?

Everyone knows the United States has some major issues that need to be addressed. Every country, state, and city in the world does. One thing you can be sure of, however, is they aren’t going to be solved by refusing to see things from another perspective once in a while or by fighting violence with violence.