Saturday, August 23, 2014

So you wanna lose weight? Do a Cleanse!

Below is my week long journey that started with a self realization and ended with (what I hope) a lifestyle change.

DAY 0 - Saturday, August 17th - You are a Lazy Mess!  

I went to bed on Saturday feeling fat and lazy after realizing that I haven't been taking the best care of myself over the past 6 weeks.  Gym?  Bootcamp?  Cardio?  Trainer?  I didn't know what to do, but knew I had to do something to give me some motivation.  I went to bed that night with my internal monologue saying 
"Brett, if you can just do something that will drive weight loss, I know you can stick with it and make some real changes in your life, but if you don't, then you will go backwards...again"
Thank god I listened...

Day 1 - Sunday, August 18th - 206.4lbs - The Flywheel Reality...

I woke up this morning with a focus on eating less and doing some sort of cardio.

Being a firm believer in math, I thought back to a blog post which addressed the number of calories people burn in a single day without doing anything extra (2000 - 2500 for men).  If you were to consume 2500 calories and just 'live', you shouldn't gain a pound...but if you exercise, you end up burning some of that down and shedding weight.  
  • For spinning I go to FLYWHEEL.  Some people like SoulCycle or a class at their local gym, but for me Flywheel forces you not to cheat...and if you do cheat, you have to hold yourself accountable.  The stats they give you, the app they have, as a whole are a very motivating tool.  By the end of the class I burned a bunch of calories, and got some strange green pressed juice from Starbucks that is supposed to give me energy.
  • As for eating less...GUILTY!  My daughter and I went to the food trucks and I consumed a bite or 3 of her Grilled Cheese with Short Rib (from Roxy's Grilled Cheese) and also shared a Double Awesome (with Pastrami) from Mei Mei with her.  I didn't feel super full, but the butter and other goodness isn't helping the weight, fat intake, cholesterol, blood say the least
Day 2 - Monday, August 19th - 205lbs - The Weight and See?

Got on the scale, and I had lost 1 pound...maybe this model works...but I had to do more...I had to do more.  Maybe a cleanse would do me well.  My wife did a Blueprint Juice Cleanse for 3 days a while ago.  She didn't love the juice that much, but it did have the results she wanted.  For me, I needed something more robust.  Being a big guy, substance was important.  My friend Jill recommended a company called Joulebody, they are based in NYC and seemed to have the total package for me:
    • A support system (since I like to talk and want to make sure I don't screw up)
    • Food and drink, so I could feel a little more satisfied
    • Everything is fresh and made in their NYC kitchen, and once created it would be shipped in a cool package that keeps it cold and fresh.
The day ended with me booking another Flywheel for Tuesday and I was ready to kick some ass!
Joulebody Active Cleanse arrives Wednesday by 10:30am!
Day 3 - Tuesday, August 19th - 208lbs - Prep and Fear

Today, the scale is not my friend.  I had gained 3 pounds (208 pounds), making me net 2 over where I started for my lifestyle change week.  Flywheel was good, I burned 753 calories and was committed to getting on track.  The folks as Joulebody have a great website with prep instructions as well as recipes for things I can make to get my body ready.  Believe me, it was a miserable day.  I was scared to eat too much food, and tried to make one of the meals on their site for dinner to do all the right things.  After that, I ate nothing...booked Flywheel for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and went to bed hungry.

Day 4 - Wednesday, August 20th - 205lbs - And so it Begins 

I wake up and do my morning ritual of getting on the scale...BOOM!  I have lost 3 pounds...maybe this math problem philosophy is going to work?  Suffice to say, I am pretty miserable all morning due to lack of food and caffeine (did I mention that caffeine is not permitted?) until the package a dog waiting for a mailman I have the windows open to hear if the Fedex man shows up....finally, at 10:15am those squeaky breaks are evident and I run to meet him at the door.  You would think it was Ed McMahon with a check for me, but no, just food that equates to about 1100 - 1400 calories a day.  The Joulebody experience was really cool for me because (as my wife would say) I take directions very long as I have them.  The regime is simple, juice and food at specific times.  The first juice was the ENERGIZE Drink, it was thick like a smoothie and tasted quite nice.  I was impressed with the quality and how filling it was.  At noon I have to take my is green and a little scary looking, but let me tell was damn good (see how happy I am).  To bridge my to dinner is on its way!  After my smoothie lunch, the track focuses on two more juices before dinner.  The first one comes at 3pm, POWER...this was probably my least favorite drink, but once again it isn't undrinkable and it tasted 'ok' but it just isn't what I would purchase in a store.  Last drink for day 1 was CITRUS at 5pm.  This one had some spice to it but was a really clean feeling drink that left me satisfied.  Fast forward to dinner time, it was also pretty good.  Cucumber Salad with dried chickpeas...again, by eating slowly and savoring what I had, it was pretty frickn good.  Net net, it was a great first day.

Day 5 - Thursday, October 21st - 202.8lbs - Passing Time
Day 5 brought a slight sense of normalcy.  I got on the scale to notice that I lost about 3 pounds and really started to become a believer.  Talking to people who work for Joulebody, I was cautioned that a cleanse isn't just about losing the weight, but having a healthier lifestyle.  I really wanted to lose 10lbs in 5 days, but understanding that like anything...the beginning is like a shock to the system (and the system will respond to it) but once you find a cadence it settles.  With me shocking my system on Tuesday and going through the system on Wednesday, my body was shocked and shocked to the dune of just under 6 pounds lost.  My day started at 7:30am with a class at Flywheel and to my surprise it was my most productive to date.  I had burned ~774 calories in a 45 min class but didn't feel as great as i have in the past, but I am guessing it is the lack of food that did it.

The hardest part of the day on a cleanse for me was the time.  How do I pass the time without eating?  Normally I would work out of a local coffee shop vs. home (as I work from home when not on the road) to stop from getting up and walking to the refrigerator, but today, today I couldn't.  If I did that I would be tempted to eat food at one of these places, and I needed to be in a controlled environment and the only place for that was home.  Mimi was out of town for the night, so nobody was cooking dinner, and my day ended with another nice meal and me chugging the respective 9am, 3pm and 5pm juices.

Day 6 - Friday, October 22nd - 201.4lbs - The Final Day

This morning, the message was clear...your body was shocked by the minimal caloric intake and now it needs to understand that my normal crap isn't in it.  That crap being meat, dairy, caffeine and alcohol.  I only lost a little over a pound today, but on an average of 2+ pounds a day weight loss, it was still pretty good stuff.  Today I felt was almost like just focusing on a script...wake up....have a juice....drink some water...wait wait wait....have your lunch...have a juice...have a your dinner and go to bed...

For being on a cleanse that is referred to as 'active' I was pretty damn lazy.  I didn't leave my deck or couch with my laptop from when I woke up until I left the house at 5pm to go run an errand.  Guess I was leaving the food going in my body to driving any weight loss...not feeling it was a good idea, but I did.  

My final dinner was chick pea curry with carrots.  It was good and filling and I finished it while watching the rest of the family eat popcorn while watching Ratatouille.  Yep, my last day ended with a cartoon about really good French food and a mouse.  I went to bed feeling satisfied still, and was very anxious to see what the beginning of my new day would bring.

Day 7 - Saturday, October 23rd - 199.2lbs - The Beginning

I couldn't sleep at all last up at 3am, 4:15am and 5:20am.  I got out of bed at 5:40am and decided to get on the scale because my OCD had gotten the best of me.  Stepping on was a little nerve-racking as I had been so competitive with myself that anything below 198 pounds could be viewed as failure.  Well, I weighed in at 199.2 pounds.  5 days of hard work and I lost 8 pounds.  A sense of frustration definitely filled my veins as I really worked hard.  That brings me to the 'breaking point'...I finishing my week long journey and actually think it was pretty amazing to have lost 8.8 pounds or 4.2% of my body weight in just a few days.  

When closing out my last blog entry, I spoke of opportunities going forward and a drive to be fit and healthy.....well, I failed then, but today we get to give it another chance and really think I can drive this number down to the 180's.  


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Go Forward Plan....and it wasn't the plan when we started...

....and so it begins, nothing like I expected
Today we leave after 5 days of cycling through the Tuscan countryside in Italy.  Any experience like this is both a privilege and an opportunity but when deciding to do it, both the privilege and opportunistic approaches are overlooked.  With both kids at summer camp Mrs. Moss and I just wanted to take two weeks and go away on vacation.  See parts of the world that we have not spent any (or enough) time in and get time together as I travel so much for work.  Little did we know that on April 18th our entire approach would change.  That was the night we met Andy Levine of DuVine Cycling+Adventures at a restaurant bar and thought "lets be a little more active on our trip and cycle through Tuscany for half of our trip".  I can't say that we thought it would be easy, but we sure didn't think it would be 'that' challenging.

As a person who travels a lot and loves to eat I tend to be larger than I need to be.  According to the Center for Disease Control, I should weigh between 120 and 151lbs and in their calculator for body mass index (BMI), I am defined as obese.  Stats like this are somewhat mind boggling and frustrating.  Looking in the mirror I feel overweight, but also don't think I am 50 lbs overweight.  So, I went to other resources like and they say I should weigh between 149 and 161lbs as they take into account body frame, and not just everyone...either way, the fact is that I have and have had work to do for the better part of my life, yet my goals are always to be 'aware' and do the best I can with the time I have.

Much of the weight loss and health approaches are driven by time, money and effort.
  • Time:  How many hours are in a day and what is the work that needs to be done to draw this out
  • Money:  Is there a cost to do things differently and what impact will that have
  • Effort:  Do you sit on your ass thinking about it or do you get up and do something about it
I tend to be the 'effort' guy.  I know that in order to lose weight, I must be active, and to be active I have to put forth the effort to do so.  When I run, getting winded tends to happen quickly and then the increased effort becomes more of an annoyance as that level of work isn't coming easy.  Once it doesn't come easy, I tend to question whether I am capable to do it and eventually go back to trying to eating less and working on, what I like to call 'the math problem':
The Math Problem:  When you assume that the average male burns 2000 calories just breathing and doing his normal activities and if you just eat less than 2000 calories you will lose weight.

The math problem has worked for me in losing weight and at times....many times, I will try and do some sort of active work to increase the daily or weekly burn rate of calories.  Trying to run a bit, doing a 5k or 10k (but sadly not doing my part to prepare properly) or some other activity.

The net net is that keeping off weight has always been a problem and if I don't get my shit together I could have a heart attack or worse.  

During our cycling adventure this past week I had the luxury to watch Mimi, my wife ride these hills...she would pedal with ease, go in the easiest gear on the most challenging terrain but her legs would never change speed.  For me, I could do the work, but effort was much much harder.  Since we both are 5'7" we had the same bike, which weighed the same amount.  If you look at my lower body, it is clear that I have the muscle mass and tone to pedal, but there was a major difference.  My heart rate was rising to 180bpm (beats per minute) on these hills and every rotation was harder and harder for me.  This has to do with the extensive difference in weight we were carrying amongst other things.  

Yesterday, Thursday, was our hardest day.  We had over 1000 feet of elevation incline over 22.5 miles and two of the hardest climbs of the week.  My heart rate got up to 185bpm, more than it had been all week and it was probably the hardest I had worked all week.  When we got to the top of the road in this small town within Chianti where our cycling time ended there was this sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt in my life.  I looked at my Garmin watch to see the calories burnt over the last 5 days and was amazed at what could be accomplished.  It was work, and I mean it was a shitload of work but the stats told a story that is now driving what I can do:

  • Calories Burnt - 7,410
  • Miles rode - 95.98 miles
  • Total elevation climbed - 8,688 feet
  • Max heart rate 185bpm

Mission Accomplished!
The funny thing was this....while in Barcelona 10+ days ago, I had realized that I weighed 207lbs.  That is out right FAT!  After 4 of our days cycling and eating the fantastic food of Italy, it was down to below 200lbs. 

The point is, I am not happy with my weight and the copout that I put on myself for why I don't do things....thinking back to my first blogpost when I came to Italy...writing about 'doing your best' and focusing on doing your best and not backing down....the last day really told the story for me.  We had one final hill it was the steepest point of the entire trip and our guide, Davide, told me that I could stop at the bottom and he would drive up...but he believed I could do it...for me, I never know what I can or can't do, but that last ride was the best moment of the trip.  There is no way to kid myself any longer, it may be work but it is work I can do and need to do to keep life going for my family, friends and myself.  

Today we leave for Paris, where I anticipate a long run with Mrs. Moss in the morning as I do what I can to better myself and continue down the road I ended with here in Tuscany.

Monday, July 7, 2014

When Your Best 'is' Good Enough and a little fear is ok too...

Yesterday we arrived in Tuscany for the third portion of our summer (kids at camp) adventure - Cycling Throughout Tuscany.  5 months ago when we were introduced to Andy Levine of DuVine Adventures while at a sushi bar in Boston we told him of our planned adventure in Italy and he told us of his cycling programs throughout the world.  It was very intriguing to us to try something different and we signed up for his 'Tuscany' program.  Within days we changed our entire approach to our vacation and we were off and running...that brings us to our arrival...

Let the adventure begin...
We were greeted by Davide our guide for the week, and since nobody else signed up for this portion, it was as if we had our own private adventure and could set our own pace and approach as need be.  After getting to the first of four stops over the next 5 days, we unpacked, put on our cycling wear (padded pants and a tee shirt that says DuVine) and got fitted for our bikes. 

Side note....When you drive into these Tuscan towns, the look a bit...hilly and high an FYI, THEY ARE!, but more on that later.

We got on our road bike, which is similar to what many of us rode in the 80's growing up...we used to call them 10 or 12 speeds.  A friend informed us that these are much lighter than the hybrid bikes we tend to ride around the city.  Sadly, with a 200lb frame of my own, I wasn't sure if it made a difference as my body wasn't ready to be hauled.  

Amazing Vino Nobile vineyard in
the bowels of Montepulciano
Getting on the bike was both scary and intimidating the first time. I ride Hubway bikes in Boston all the time, but Tuscany is nothing like Boston.  Boston = Flat Tuscany = Hills. Immediately my stomach got tight, I was terrified and also winded....since the bike was different than anything I had been on before.  Davide told us, lets just ride up 'the hill' to the road and we will get going for our first journey.  He gave us the option to walk up 'the hill', but me being 'the man (or so I thought) I hopped on and rode up like a machine.  

side note #2....When your heart rate goes from 90bpm to 180bpm in 45 seconds...something ain't right. 

It was clear that my pride vs. my abilities were coming into play. The day went on with a 14 mile ride that included many hills and a couple downhill spots.  The good news was it was challenging and exciting.  The bad news came at mile 7 when we were told that we were going to drive back the same way we came.  This means that all those downhill spots that were great for getting my sea-legs would quickly become my nemesis.  

We finished off our day with me questioning everything:
  • why did we do this?
  • how can I keep up?
  • should we have done a different tour?
  • am I so out of shape and weak that I can't ride a silly bike?
  • how will I be able to walk in the morning?  
Day two begins
After taking the 2-3 hour of downtime before dinner questioning myself, and then doing more of it walking to dinner and also sitting in the car on our way to a vineyard....I decided to sleep on it.

This morning I woke up feeling fine, outside of the extreme soreness in my bum from the seat. After a light breakfast we got back on that horse, we started at the top of the road and began our journey for a little over 26 miles.  Yesterday we had climbed 900 feet, but today we had to climb over 2400 feet.  It was hard, it was really hard, but every time that van stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride I thought about if I was trying my best and was 'that' best good enough.  At mile 19.5 we reached the Tuscan town of Pienza, the final climb to the city was frustrating and exhausting.  Every turn up hill seemed to be the end, but it was not.  I eventually got there where we walked around and had a great lunch over looking the vast area. Once done (with the wine and lunch), we were told that we only had '6 miles left' and the day would be complete.  A brief while later we returned to our home base in Montefollonico.  Both Mimi and I were happy to be done, but also full of great positive energy from such a spectacular accomplishment.
26+ miles, 2400+ feet climbed
and over 2000 calories burned

Tomorrow will be another day of fear, butterflies and new experiences and the blend of today and yesterday definitely taught me a great deal about myself.  It is so important not to be too proud, but it is also important to do the best you can and ensure that you are not cheating yourself.  Getting in the van....its ok, but its only ok after you try and try DAMN HARD! school...Onward!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Barcelona...."The Eat/Life Balance"

Amazing glass work from
the interior

Many people focus on the work life balance, but if there is one thing I have learned in Barcelona it is that the 'Eat/Life' balance is just as important as the work life balance.

The food we ate was insane, and man did we eat a lot of it.  Thank goodness my wife had a vision of how to better our lives while I was very focused on bettering my stomach.  In an effort to focus on history we hit a few spots, but most important were Sagrada Família and Park Güell.
Exterior of Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Família is what we would call the greatest pet project ever for Antoni Gaudí. It is a church that began construction over 100 years ago, and it was very clear that they are still going strong, as it doesn't look to be ready for completion for another 50 years. His work is amazing and it is seen all over Barcelona, but this was really cool. In November of 2010 the interior was concerted and proclaimed it a 'minor basilica' by Pope Benedict XVI. It is truly one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica.
Interior of Sagrada Familia
After the climb
Parc Guell

Park Guell was, once again a Gaudi work and is truly spectacular.  This was truly part of the 'life' segment of my 'Eat/Life balance' as you ahve two options in getting there.  Take a tram or escalator up, the stairs.  My wife, who is a Cross Fit maven said, we should take the stairs...and we did.  According to her fitbit we climbed over 60 flights of stairs that day, so our guess was that two-thirds of that was walking up hill to the top.  It definitely feels like the highest point of Barcelona (which it probably is not, but either way, it was a hard trek but a great adventure.  One of these pictures truly shows Gaudi's style, which I now feel was an inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.

With all the fun and excitement of being touristic, our other objective was to attack the rumors that Barcelona is one of the key food capitals of the world.  Though not planned, most of our time was focused on the food and creations of Ferran Adrià.  Click on the link to see the wonders he creates, but with 5 nights of dinner, I will highlight 4.

  • Sauc - With only 26 seats (that we could see) the tasting menu was exceptional.  I had goat for the first time, but overall the creativity was out of this world.  Not to mention it allowed me to check the box for another Michelin Star conquered.
  • Pakta - Now Pakta (the first of three dinners by Ferran Adria) was something extraordinary.  In the July issue of Food and Wine, there was a feature about it.  Who would go to dinner at a place that is Peruvian/Japanese fusion with a flair of Spanish influence?  Well let me tell you, it was in my top 5 dinners ever.  We sat at the counter as we both hoped to see as much activity as possible.  In front of us was the dessert maestro.  She was a machine, using tweezers for every possible step as this was about both beauty to the eye and the stomach.
  • Botega 1900 - The second of Adria's establishments, we stumbled on it by mistake.  A person during our travels told me that we would 'never get a table at Tickets' (more to come on that later) and if you know me at all, when it comes to food, I will take on any challenge.  Mrs. Moss (against her better judgment) agreed to try the 'walk in'.  The walk in is when I show up at a restaurant and find a way to charm, grovel, or beg my way to trying something, that I surely should have made a reservation for.  Sadly, only one thing will always shut down the walk in,.....the private party!.  Yep, I was screwed since there was no way to take that down.  The lovely person at the door (who was much like a security guard) recommended trying Bodega 1900 as it was directly across the street, a traditional tapas and wine bar.  We were there quite early so they gave us a seat outside. While sitting we are introduced to Paco.  Paco, we believe, was sent from heaven to support us on our gastronomic adventure.  Paco started by asking what we wanted and we deferred to him, but let him know that we were at 1900 for a thing we knew, new items like fresh snails and sea anemone were our delicacy.  It was pretty amazing, but our mission remained Tickets.  Paco, who will be taking over Adria's new Mexican restaurant around the corner in a few weeks, came back offering 6 different dining options....all accompanying a name of someone he knows that we should ask for and lastly mentioned that he would try to make Tickets a reality.  We ended up eating enough for dinner and ended our evening earlier than any night thus far.
  • Tickets Bar - Remember our friend Paco, well while taking advantage of the 'life' part of our Eat/Life balance again on our final day in Barcelona I noticed an email from a name that wasn't familiar...Paco.  Oh YES!  Paco, and the email said this:
"HI, How are you? I´m Paco from Bodega 1900... YOU'LL HAVE TABLE AT TICKETS TONIGHT AT 19.00, ??? Tell me something before 15.00....Paco"
I immediately responded with extreme gratitude, and we were off and running. Tickets, another single Michelin star resturaunt is like nothing I have ever seen. Like Pakta the kitchen and prep is art and such art is where the naked eye can see, but there was something else.  Tickets was truly a 50/50 measurement of show (not just the food) and food (all food).  The front door has a woman in a top hat and circus leaders outfit standing behind a velvet rope.  Once sat, we were once again asked...'you chose or we chose' for our meal.  We obviously asked them to pick the best that they could, but stay within our budget as we had read on places like TripAdvisor and Yelp that people had made mistakes in the past and ended up with bills far exceeding 400 Euro.  About half way through our meal, a nice man in glasses showed up to see how our meal was PACO!  Our new friend from 1900.  He continued to be welcoming and ask us about our meal.  In the end he wanted us to come by 1900 after.  Not for a drink, but he wanted to hear about the experience and if he could do anything to make the trip more enjoyable.  
Menu at Tickets
Awning for Tickets looking
like the  show that it is

It's funny, over the years I have always put myself out there and at times it was too much.  I have had friends and family that have asked me to pull back, don't be so loud, why are you talking to these people, they don't care about you and more.  As a confident person who has always loved to hear and learn from others, I push those comments aside and the outcome of caring about others and asking questions about their lives will lead to a number of "pay it forward" moments.  We left Barcelona loving the food, nightlife, culture and most of all, the people (both local and new friends on holiday).  The trip reminded me of an old quote I used to hear while working on a morning show in high school.  They would always close out the show with this one quote:

"Its nice to be important, but its more important to be nice"
Our New Friend Paco!

Not a bad adventure,  eh?....more to come tomorrow...thanks for listening. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Camp Moments and being a proud parent

Its been 9 hours traveling from Atlanta to Barcelona and we have begun vacation we thought...until a proud parenting moment shows up via text to us back into parenting mode!

No matter how hard I work and play it's my family that keep me going.  When we landed this AM some 4000 miles from home I received this text (below) from our cousin who runs the girls camp wire my kids are this summer.

As a kid who lived for summer camp and a non-closeted musical theater geek we had to see what the video was.  It was every parents dream and fear.  Watching your child have the confidence to stand up in front of her peers and perform.  Performing could be academics, art, sports or many other things but it is that step of not caring about everyone else and doing what feels right for you.  In many ways Camp Eagle Cove gave that to me...but it took about five years when I got up on the knee board and did 10 360's (seeming so trivial now).  Avery has been a sleep away camper for 5 days and she seems to he finding herself in the best of ways.  

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Traveling traveling traveling....

Though I never thought I would do it, my work and travel adventures have driven me to start documenting.  Kip, an old friend, would tell you that I am much better at the spoken word than written since I would have him check my papers for grammar and spelling at the local bar while in business school, but I am going to give it a go.

Starting off, this blog is supposed to be about food, travel and the ability for a man in his early 40's (actually 40) to balance work, weight and fun.

Today we start off with the real adventure...Boston to Barcelona!

Since January, I have logged just about 90,000 miles with Delta and even more points with Starwood. I am a traveler who is loyal...but this trip, lasting 14 days will be one for the ages as our kids spend time at summer camp.  Delta will get us there, and where in our control...Starwood will house us.  

Our journey will take us to Barcelona, Florence, Tuscany and Paris...with some very active parts in Tuscany as we cycle for 5 days eating pasta, drinking wine and tasting olive oil.  We hope the balance of being active and eating great food will do us well.  

We hit Barcelona tomorrow morning and hope to have some good stories to share...

Welcome to