Body Weight Culture

Monday, April 22, 2013

Oak Barrel Half Marathon

I know I haven’t been posting in awhile but I’ll try to be better about it in the future.  I miss hearing from all of you that post here and send me emails about your progress and what not.  I will try my best to do better.  
So first, what has been going on?  Besides family, work, and music, the answer is “running.”  I’ve been enjoying running again.  After taking a year off of any serious running, I’m back at it and loving it.  I’m trying to get faster and run longer without getting injured.  That is usually a tall task for most runners but I think it is achievable.  My ultimate goal is still to eventually run fast enough to qualify for Boston, but right now I am just focusing on the smaller running goals that will eventually produce that result.  It is going to take some time and hard work, but I know eventually I’ll get to Boston!  
Having said all that, I thought I would use today’s space to tell you about a very cool race that I ran a few weeks ago.  I’ve never reported on a race before, but both times I have run the Oak Barrel half marathon, I left thinking “what a cool race,” so I thought I might spend some time telling folks about it.
The 2013 version of this race is only its third edition, but the folks in the small town of Lynchburg, Tennessee have got this race thing figured out.  In a conversation with one of the race directors, he told me that the race is put on by a bunch of local runners who just like to run.  I could see the pride in his eyes when I complimented the race.  It isn’t just another race to the people of Lynchburg, it is their race.  It belongs to them and to the 1,200 runners who show up every year to run.  
Even though this is a smaller race, I am still impressed by the organization.  For the most part, everything seemed to run so smoothly.  And you don’t just leave Lynchburg with a running t.  How about a technical t-shirt, a wooden race medal, a hat, and Smithwick socks with the race logo.  All that swag for a race fee of $50!  
Now I need to mention the course.  The race starts in downtown Lynchburg and ends in downtown Lynchburg, which looks like it could have been stolen from the set of the Andy Griffith Show.  Mayberry ain’t got nothing on Lynchburg, but more on this later.   The course quickly moves to the country and takes you past a number of farms and rolling scenery, which I really enjoyed.  Quick warning:  You may notice the strong odor of cow poop at certain points along the way, but here in the south we like to call that “Southern charm.”  
One other quick warning:  this course is not flat!  Check out my splits:
Mile 1- 7:46
Mile 2- 7:47
Mile 3- 8:00
Mile 4- 7:58
Mile 5- 9:55 (Whiskey  hill)
Mile 6- 7:40
Mile 7- 8:12 (another smaller hill)
Mile 8- 7:37
Mile 9- 7:37
Mile 10- 7:27
Mile 11- 7:24
Mile 12- 7:36
Mile 13- 7:31

You can see around mile 5 there is a big hill which seemed to go on forever.  The locals call it Whiskey Hill, and Whiskey Hill is so mean that it actually has its own Facebook page.  The Oak Barrel website calls it a “character building hill” that is a “gradual climb for about a mile.”  I’m not sure if any “character building” was achieved, but I will say Whiskey Hill kicked my butt and it took a mile or so to recover. I think it is also important to note that somewhere in the middle of running this hill is when I heard the banjo music from Deliverance piping out of a sound system In the woods. That definitely made me run faster.

The good news however, is that the runners who conquer Whiskey Hill, are rewarded by getting to go downhill.  Who doesn’t love to go downhill?  Also, the last mile was nice and flat as you pass the Jack Daniels Distillery (no free samples along the race course which is actually in a dry county).  While the course was challenging, it wasn’t unmanageable.  I only cursed once or twice and I do that in every race anyway.

The finish line in downtown Lynchburg was an awesome spectacle.  The people there seemed to really enjoy the experience and were totally in to it.  I think the local flare is what makes this race so great.  Yes, they did have the typical finish line food (bagels, bananas, etc.), but along with it different booths were set up with food from local restaurants.  Along with pizza from a joint on the town square, you could get Brunswick Stew, and a local delicacy called Hoe cakes.  For you big city dwellers, check the spelling on that last one and get your mind out of the gutter.  A Hoe Cake is basically cornmeal fried in oil, and at the finish line of the Oak Barrel three ladies were cooking them under a tent.  Next to that tent was a Jack Daniels tent and if you’re in to the whiskey thing, the head distiller is available to sign your race medal.  

All in all, a really fun race!  As I left the downtown square to travel home, I saw a man giving rides in a horse-drawn carriage as well as a bluegrass group jamming their way through Foggy Mountain Breakdown.  I found it so captivating that I had to stay and listen for a good twenty minutes.  I still couldn’t believe I wasn’t in Mayberry.  Very cool experience, and I would encourage anyone looking for a small town half-marathon somewhat off the beaten path, to make their way down to Lynchburg.  And don’t be afraid of that hill, it didn’t hurt…..much.   

In case anyone cares, I finished in 1:43:38 (7:55/mile pace) and was 3rd place in the 40-44 age division.  That was cool for me since I’ve never been that high in my age division before.  From the splits listed above, you can see I ran the last 6 miles at a pace much closer to what I would need to qualify for Boston.  Also, I feel I could have ran even faster if that dang hill hadn’t somewhat whipped me out.  

Next Up:  I’m thinking I will run the local Cotton Row 10k at the end of May.  I want to see what I can do for 6.2 miles.  However, this race also features a killer hill.  What is up with me and these hills?  I will definitely include some hills in my training the next few weeks.

Also, my oldest daughter and I plan to run a Color Race in a couple months.  Looks to be loads of fun.  Hope she loves it.

OK, so tell me about your running! As always, I love hearing from you guys via email or post on the site.  Email me at: .

I'll leave you with some post-race music from downtown Lynchburg:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Whole Health Source Blog

Just wanted to share what I think is some great information related to diet and health.  Stephan Guyenet of the Whole Health Source blog posted an interview in which he answered a lot of great questions about diet and health.  I really think he did a tremendous job of packing lots of information into a small space.  He brings up some interesting points in discussing his food reward theory and how it relates to obesity.  Give it a read if you have time.  I promise you will learn something.

I'd love to get some discussion going here, so if you read it, come back here and leave a comment.
Thanks Stephan!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Recipe of the Day: Oats in a Bowl

People always ask about quick breakfast ideas.  I've seen several people blogging about oats in a bowl, so I tried it last week.  I really liked it and the fact that it comes out cold was nice when the temps last week were in the upper 90's.  It's real easy so I thought I'd pass it along:

First, get a glass jar (doesn't matter what kind -old pickle jar, peanut butter jar, etc.)

Next, fill the jar with foods you like.  Mine usually looks something like this:

1/3-1/2c of milk or unsweetened almond milk
1/3-1/2c of plain oats (only ingredients should be rolled oats)
1/3-1/2c of plain Greek yogurt
2T of raisins
1/4-1/2c of other fruit (cut up banana, berries, natural applesauce, etc.)
1-2T of natural peanut butter (only ingredient should be nuts and salt)
1/2-1T of flax seed

Mix all the ingredients in the jar the night before you plan to eat it.  The oats will soak up the liquid and the next morning will be ready.  The above example is just a starting place.  Add what you like and try different things.  Use ingredients that you like.  Have fun with it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Many Hot Dogs Can You Eat?

Just read about the guy who ate 68 hot dogs yesterday to win Nathan's annual hot dog-eating contest. Then I was lucky enough to stumble across an article about a local whose hobby is making really large hamburgers.  You can read about his hamburger building passion here:

I particularly enjoyed this sentence:

"This year Maley will attempt to build a cheeseburger that weighs 25 to 30 pounds. One day he hopes to fulfill a dream of whipping up a 50-pounder stacked 10 patties high."

How does a guy end up with such a hobby? Maybe stamp collecting just wasn't enough?
He mentions that a burger like this takes 3 hours to make and costs close to $40.  Not to mention, the word "dream" is used to describe his desire to eventually create a 50 pound burger.  Wow!  I guess we all should have a dream.

This article along with the annual hot dog eating contest got me to thinking about our culture and how we think about food. Not sure I have anything important to say, but I just find it interesting. These stories remind me that in the United States we have easy access to tons of food.  Our need for cheap and easy food options may be what is killing us. 

I've noticed lots of arguing on the internet lately in regards to just how important calories are in terms of weight loss.  Many want to rebuke the idea that weight loss is all about calories in and calories out.  I see the importance of different hormones being mentioned.  I know there are lots of things that influence weight gain and weight loss, but I have to wonder if we just have too much access to lots and lots of food.

Jut my random thoughts for the day.  Now it’s back to eating hot dogs.  I have to start practicing now if I’m going to win that $10,000 dollars next July.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rich Roll -Finding Ultra

A year ago I ran a fairly quick 1/2 marathon, at least it was faster for me. Then I chose to take a year off from longer distance (marathons, 1/2 marathons) to work on shorter distance stuff. I had decided that there was really no added health benefit to running 12 miles or 26 miles or whatever miles.  So why not just focus on trying to get faster at shorter distances? 

It sounded like a sound plan.  The only problem with that is I forget how much I enjoy running longer distances.  I enjoy the long runs early in the morning when it’s still dark outside.  I enjoy the peace and quiet of running alone.  I prefer training for ½ marathons and full marathons more than 5 and 10k’s.  I just flat out enjoy running for longer amounts of time and that is what I plan to do.

So, what if running longer distances isn’t good for you or good for your health?  I’m still going to do it, because I love it.  I meet people in my office every day that force themselves to go to the local gym every day.  They hop on the elliptical.  They use the weight machines.  They do all those things, and absolutely hate it.  One of goals it to always encourage people to find activities they love.  Do something you enjoy and you will probably keep doing it.  I tell people this on a daily basis, but somehow I forgot to follow my own rule.  But now I’m ready to come correct and get back to what I love.

A few weeks ago I started increasing my running miles, and around the time I stumbled upon an awesome book that fueled my running desire even more.  The book was written by Rich Roll and it’s called Finding Ultra.  The book outlines Rich’s journey from a middle aged overweight attorney to the life of a health promoting ultra-distance athlete.  At the age of 40, Rich not only competed in, but finished the Ultraman competition in Hawaii as the top American.  Just so you know, the Ultraman is like the Ironman competition, but longer and harder.  Imagine swimming 6.2 miles in the ocean, biking for 261.4 miles, and then finishing with a 52.4 mile run.  That’s Ultraman. 

For me, it was truly inspiring to read about a 40 year old dude who was able to compete at such a high level after spending so many years as an overweight couch potato.  The book also takes us through Rich’s battle with alcoholism as well as his shift to a vegan diet.  Very cool read, and if you need some extra motivation, pick it up. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Recipe of the Day- Bang Bang Shrimp

Just wanted to share a few recipes I have enjoyed this week.  Someone sent me a link to a website: and a particular shrimp recipe struck my nerve.  It helped that I had a pound of shrimp in the fridge.  And on top of all that, it gives me an excuse to use that shrimp picture above, which for some reason makes me laugh uncontrollably. This particular recipe is someone’s take on the Bonefish Bang Bang shrimp appetizer and it was fairly simple to prepare.

The shrimp sauce called for light mayo.  I’ve been wanting to try making my own mayo with olive oil for a long time, and this was the perfect excuse.  So, I started by preparing the mayo.

Olive Oil Mayonnaise Ingredients:

·       1 egg yolk

·       Juice from one lemon

·       ½-1c of extra light olive oil

·       Salt & pepper to taste

Step 1:  Wisk the yolk and lemon juice together until mixed

Step 2:  Continue whisking while you gradually add the olive oil.  The key here is to add the oil SLOWLY and stop when you get the desired texture.  Honestly, I’m still figuring this part out and mine has been a bit runny both times I tried.

Now, on to the shrimp. 

Mix the following ingredients together for your sauce:

  • 2 1/2 tbsp light mayonnaise  ( I used the homemade mayo from above)
  • 2 tbsp scallions, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (it is with the Asians foods, soy sauces, etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha (or to taste)

I didn’t have any sriracha and my kids always complain about stuff being too spicy, so I left it off.  I’ll find some for the next go round!

All that is left to do is cook the shrimp.  Remove shells, add salt and pepper, and then grill them to your liking.  It only takes a few minutes on each side and shrimp are easy to overcook.

Pull the shrimp off the grill and then toss them with the sauce you made.  It really is fairly simple and our family enjoyed.  We used the same sauce on some grilled chicken.  That was good also.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My friend the Crapitarian

I saw a lady today that was trying to lose weight and not having any luck as a vegetarian.  She asked me what I had against vegetarian diets.  I explained that I didn’t think anything was wrong with vegetarian diets, but I did have a problem with vegetarian diets that didn’t include any vegetables. 

This may sounds a bit strange but it is actually something I regularly.  Yes, you understand correctly, there are vegetarians out there that don’t eat vegetables.  So what do they eat?  Mainly crap.  We should probably call them crapitarians.  That would be way more accurate.  The lady I saw today mainly ate veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs, veggie chicken patties, protein bars, granola bars, crackers, and lots of sweets.  She was mainly eating a bunch of processed foods.

I think some vegetarians trick themselves in to thinking that the vegetarian diet is healthy because it excludes meat.  However, this isn’t exactly accurate.  A vegetarian diet may have health benefits, but not because it excludes meat.  If done right, a vegetarian diet may be healthful because it replaces processed foods with whole real foods (vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc.).  If done right it replaces store/restaurant-bought junk foods with vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, etc. 

My point is this:  If you want to be a vegan or vegetarian, have at it.  I don’t see a problem with it, if you are eating real foods instead of processed foods.  If you replace junk food with vegetables, fruits, and complex starches, you will benefit.  If you replace the junk food with vegetables, fruits, local meats/eggs, and complex carbs starches, you will still likely see benefit. 

If you want to have a piece of chicken with some green beans and sweet potato tonight, go for it.  If you want to make a black bean burger with real food from your pantry, have at it.  Either will be better than that soy dog, the protein bar, or that granola bar you got at Publix.  And if you want to be a vegetarian, don’t think that you can eat whatever you want as long as it didn’t come from an animal.  Most of the crap food out there doesn’t come from animals. 

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!