I know, I know. It’s been done. Just google “365 days beer blog” and you will get a bunch of hits. But this one, will be different. I know again. You’ve heard that before. But I actually mean it. In my search, I found that the majority of the beer-a-day blogs simply offer reviews of the beer. There is no back story, this is no outside information, there is no person behind the review. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I find that incredibly boring and there is no way I could read 365 days of just that. While I do plan to drink and review a different beer every day for the next year, I don’t plan to simply write a review listing the aroma, mouthfeel, and overall rating (as if I do that now). Instead, I want to tell you about why I chose that beer, who I drank it with, what festival or event I attended, the bar where I consumed it, the brewery that brewed it, etc. I want you all to take this craft beer journey with me and maybe start one of your own.
Disclaimer: I promise in advance, that I will do my best not to write overly serious (or long) posts in the future. However, I need to explain the rationale behind my biggest fear in undertaking this challenge.
MY BIGGEST FEAR…WEIGHT GAIN (Shocker: I am going to share my weight with the world…or at least those people who read this blog)
Some of you think I’m being silly right now. Probably men. I bet the women reading this know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t understand or think I am being irrational, you are probably right. But I would like to tell you a story so that you might understand my fear a bit better.
In 2006, I lost 20 pounds. I had held steady at about 135 pounds since high school and was fitting (mostly) in size 8s without doing any exercising or watching what I ate. As I was getting older and still doing nothing, I began to add some pounds and sizes. I saw a video of my butt one day and almost had a heart attack. I decided that I needed to lose a few pounds, initially hoping to lose about 10. I did this in a very healthy way, at first. I cut out fast-food, fried food, 2 % milk, pop, etc. And I began exercising a bit in front of the television each night (some sit-ups and push-ups during commercials – not a whole lot). I hadn’t exercised regularly since I was on the track team in Middle School. After a few months on this plan, I pulled out an old Tae Bo exercise video and started working out 5 days a week and cut my calories down to 1300 a day. My husband, the engineer, created this amazing spreadsheet for us to track our caloric consumption every single day with every bite of food that I put in my mouth. I went from a size 10, almost a 12 (which scared the crap out of me) to a size 2 (which I hadn’t seen since I was 14) in about 6 months.
And then I got bored of Tae Bo and borrowed my mom’s treadmill to start walking, which I did for a while. Before long, I was bored of walking, so I decided to run. Mind you, I couldn’t run .25 mile without stopping to walk. I kept at it and was able to run 1 mile after about 3 months. I know that probably seems like a long time, but I was way out of shape and never could run long distances when I was younger. (The 10-minute mile and the V-sit and reach always kept me from getting the Presidential Award for Physical Fitness in elementary school.) Interestingly enough, it only took me another 5 months to run 5 miles at a time. I cut out Tae Bo completely and began running 5 times a week, averaging about 3 miles a day. My big problem came when I realized that I was still only eating 1300 calories a day.
1300 calories a day is not enough to sustain a runner. Really, it isn’t enough to sustain anyone. So, I immediately began eating 1500 calories and gained 5 pounds in 2 weeks. To say that I freaked out is an understatement. I basically had a nervous breakdown. Every time Steve suggested going out to dinner I would curl into a ball and cry because I was “fat” and couldn’t eat anything at a restaurant. I was a mess. (I tell you what, my husband has the patience of a saint and is one of the most understanding people I know.) I cut back to 1300 calories again and constantly was searching for “non-existent” fat on my body, crying about food, and painstakingly entering every calorie that I put in my mouth. I couldn’t get that extra 5 pounds off though.
After about a month or two of this, I decided to see a nutritionist. She told me to eat more. I tearfully argued that I couldn’t and I was fat. That was the end of the appointment. (Looking back, I realize how idiotic I was. I had been living a happy life at 135 pounds for the past 10 years and I had only wanted to lose 10 pounds. So, I was now skinnier than I had been since I was 14, and skinnier than I had intended to become. But I couldn’t see it. All I saw was that I was fitting in smaller clothing and the glorious numbers on the scale).
I went to see another nutritionist who did two things to help me. 1. She told me to eat more and I cried. After talking about my eating habits and my concerns with eating more, she also wanted to diagnose me with an eating disorder. I argued with her that I didn’t have an eating disorder, because I wasn’t anorexic or have bulimia. She informed me that those aren’t the only kinds of eating disorders. Having someone tell you that you may have an eating disorder is scary. That was the start of my turn-around. 2. She also tested my metabolism. True metabolism tests are really very interesting. I sat in a dark room for 10 minutes breathing into a tube and a machine. After 10 minutes the machine told me that I was basically starving myself. It didn’t say that it words, but it showed it in numbers and data that I couldn’t argue with. The machine told me that my basal metabolic rate (how many calories I should consume if I was sedentary) was around 900 and that with my current level of exercise, I should be consuming 1200 calories to maintain my weight. In essence, my body was so used to getting by on too few calories that it had slowed my metabolism to a starvation level.
What I realized then is that I did this to myself. I starved myself, or at least led my body to believe it was starving. I was on the verge of an eating disorder. And why? So I could fit into a size 2? So the scale could say 115? What stupid reasons! And I wasn’t even happy.
I knew me and I knew if I just said “screw it” and jumped right back to a realistic calorie intake like 1500 (which is what my nutritionist suggested) I would gain weight instantly and freak out. So I did some more research and found information that explained how to “cycle” caloric intake. Basically, you trick your body by eating a different amount of food each day so that it never knows whether it should hold on to calories or not. (There is a good tool at www.freedieting.com if you are interested.) I’m not saying this will work for everyone, as nothing does, but it definitely worked for me. Within 6 months, was up to a base of 1600 calories a day and had gained nothing since that initial 5 pound gain.
I stayed on that basic program for two more years and held steady around 122. However, I also began treating myself. I had cheeseburgers, onion rings, beer, ice cream, etc. and I felt fine eating it. Steve and I went out to eat at restaurants where I ordered anything I wanted. My running had progressed after I had enough fuel in my body, and I completed a couple of half-marathons and 10 milers. I also got a tattoo on my wrist to remind me that I am loved no matter what I weigh.
Since then, which was about 2 years ago, I’ve put on about 15 pounds. Craft beer was introduced to my life, which sadly has a ton of calories and I can’t get enough of it. I also stopped running regularly for about a year and a half due to an injury and plain laziness. Since January of this year, I am back to running regularly 4 times a week and I have lost some of the weight (about 9 pounds) which has me holding steady around 128. I would still like to weigh a bit less, and know I could do it if I cut out beer and pizza. But I don’t want to. I want to be happy. I want to go out to dinner with my husband.
But, I am really worried about this challenge. What if I gain weight? Will I freak out again? Will I go back to being that person on the verge of an eating disorder? Will I starve myself? Answer: I want to do this. First and foremost, I think it will be fun to try a new beer every day. Steve will certainly enjoy it. But also, I want to beat the old me. I want to know that if I do put on a few pounds, I will be okay. And now that I’m back running, I want to see if I really do gain weight. If I eat healthy during the week, splurge every once in a while, run around 18 miles a week, and drink a beer a day, what will happen to the scale?
I’m guessing it will all turn out okay, as life often does. You may hear a different story (read: venting) when I attend all sessions of GABF and immediately follow that with a week of events to celebrate Cleveland Beer Week. But that is then and this is now. And now….I am going to drink my first beer. Cheers!
Hop in the Dark – Deschutes
Deschutes has brewed a winner with their Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale. I feel as if they have invented a new style, or if not invented, certainly perfected. It starts off as malty and finishes with a nice Cascade hop bite. The hoppiness lingers, although a roasty malt flavor pops back up on the tongue the longer you wait. What a well-balanced beer! If you can grab one off the shelf (not available in Ohio) or order one online, I definitely recommend that you do