Goal Achieved

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 28

It’s a banner week in my journey to better health as I reached two milestones two weeks earlier than planned. Here’s a look at how I did it in my Week 28 update:

The Successes

The unseasonably warm, dry weather last week was ideal. I made four lunchtime walks in five days before recording four hours of exercise on Saturday.

That included three hours of housework: cleaning the living room and kitchen, and organizing and decorating the new nursery. The most time-consuming and tiring part was actually hanging vinyl decals on the wall behind Baby B.’s crib.

Vinyl decals are hard work
Vinyl decals are hard work…much harder than I anticipated when I agreed to them.

It’s a much more arduous task than it sounds like:

  1. Measure and cut out the pieces
  2. Tape pieces to wall
  3. Peel backing off top half
  4. Adhere top half to wall
  5. Squeegee out air bubbles
  6. Peel backing off bottom half
  7. Adhere bottom half to wall
  8. Squeegee out air bubbles
  9. SLOWLY peel adhesive off while ensuring vinyl decals stick

That last part was a killer. It was so tedious and annoying that I stretched that over the whole weekend.

A three-mile walk to cap off a successful weekend.
A three-mile walk to cap off a successful weekend.

Needing a break Saturday night, I also made time for a three-mile walk to West Reading.

The Challenges

As good as Saturday was, Sunday was the opposite. I recorded no exercise and hit my calorie limit almost exact. I had done the same thing on Tuesday.

Wednesday, despite my afternoon walk, I came in over my limit thanks to a take-out dinner from Red Robin.

It’s been years since I had Red Robin, but Julie had a craving, and I couldn’t say no. My Whiskey River burger and fries were 1,100 calories, easily the highest total of my week.

selfie of a man holding a cup of fries from Red Robin
I couldn’t let them go to waste…

But it was probably slightly higher because in addition to the fries that came with the meal, the hostess gave me a free cup of fries for the road.

What? It would have been rude to say no.

The Results

Goal Achieved
Current Weight: 158.2 lbs.
Weekly Weight Loss: -2.4
Total Weight Loss: -31.2

We did it! After 28 weeks of hard work and discipline, I not only cleared the 160-pound mark for the first time since high school, but I achieved my goal of 30 pounds in 30 weeks.

Ironic that we are about to have a baby, and I lost the weight of four.
Ironic that we are about to have a baby, and I lost the weight of four.

Standing on the scale on Monday morning looking down at that number was very satisfying. Looking in the mirror, I couldn’t be happier with the results. I look good. I feel good. And I’m proud of how far I’ve come in a short time.

The Week Ahead

My goal has been achieved, but I still have two weeks left in my 30-week journey. Am I going to slow down? Yes. (My Lose It! App immediately switched my calorie budget from weight loss to maintenance). But if I lose another pound or two in advance of the holidays, I wouldn’t be upset.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat
chicken florentine pasta from Austin's

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 27

After a step backward last week, I bounced back with renewed vigor this week. Here’s my 27th update on my journey to better health.

The Successes

Seeing the scale go up last week was all the motivation that I needed as I managed to fit four walks and an afternoon of lawn mowing into my week.

Monday and Thursday, I escaped for two 20-minute walks on my lunch break.

Friday's walk: 3.21 miles in 59 minutes.
An extended walk was much-needed after a long week.

Friday was spent with Julie at the hospital – everything is OK, but the doctors wanted to monitor her for a few hours to make sure everything was good with her and baby. But after we were discharged, I snuck out for an hour-long walk, three miles around Wyomissing and West Reading.

Sunday's walk: 3.22 miles in 57 minutes.
Two minutes faster!

I repeated that same walk on Sunday evening, completing the same route about two minutes faster than I had two days prior.

In between, I found time to mow the grass. In all, it was 900 calories burned through exercise over the course of the week.

The Challenges

My office, and I imagine many of yours, is one of temptation. It seems that every day, someone is bringing in something sweet to share.

On Monday, it was Pretzel Factory Rivets. Those tiny little pretzel nuggets seem innocent enough, but each one has 38 calories. I had four of them, and it took all the self control that I had to not eat more as I went to-and-from the breakroom to refill my water bottle.

Beyond that, my snacking was limited to Graze packs and popsicles.

Friday, as I mentioned earlier, was a challenging day for us, and one that didn’t help my diet. Lunch was Chicken McNuggets and fries (unsweetened iced tea helped keep the meal under 1,000 calories).

chicken florentine pasta from Austin's
We treated ourselves to Austin’s after a brief trip to the Reading Hospital.

After Julie was released from the hospital, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner. And we couldn’t think of a better place than Austin’s.

Austin’s is one of our favorite restaurants (I still say it’s not fine dining, though), but there are two problems with it: portion sizes are huge, and there’s not a lot of menu items for calorie-counters.

One of the lightest things that I could find on the menu was the chicken Florentine pasta: chicken breast with penne pasta and tomatoes in a Reggiano cream sauce.

Like all entrees at Austin’s, it was at least two meals, and the half that I finished at the restaurant was delicious. The Reggiano cream was thick enough to stick to the pasta, but not too rich. The tomatoes added a cool, bright note to the dish. And while there was plenty of chicken, it was sliced small enough that I could get some in every bite, and still not feel like I had eaten too much.

It’s hard to estimate meals like this, but my best guess was around 900 calories, including a slice of Austin’s amazing wheat bread with honey butter.

Pepperoni pizza from Esposito's
Then we had pizza on Sunday…the perils of being a food blogger.

The other challenge came on Sunday when Julie and I visited one of five pizza places that we be reviewing as part of BCE’s annual National Pizza Month celebration. This time, it was Esposito’s. The review is coming, but I calculated my lunch at around 1,200 calories (pizza + fries = calories).

There was also a delightful two-layer cookie cake at our church’s coffee hour that didn’t help matters.

The Results

Current Weight: 160.6 lbs.
Weekly Weight Loss: -0.6
Total Weight Loss: 29.2

After putting on 0.4 pounds last week, I took that off plus a little bit more this week. But it is definitely getting harder.

My daily budget is now 1,900 calories. When I started, it was more than 2,000 per day. So the weight loss isn’t going to get any easier.

The Week Ahead

Barring anything out of the ordinary, it’s going to be a relatively straightforward week. I’m making time for walks and exercise, and trying to avoid calorie traps whenever I can.

If all goes well, this is the week that I cross under the 160-pound mark. And I’m going to work hard to make this week go well.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat
The peito sandwich from White Palm Tavern

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 26

It’s Week 26 of my journey to better health, and this week was a reminder that it really is a journey.

The Successes

It was a good week for walking. Though certainly warmer than late September should be, it was a dry week and I had plenty of time to get out on my lunch breaks.

I made it out on Monday, Tuesday and Friday for a total of nearly four miles of walking.

The weekend was spent cleaning and building furniture in Baby B.’s room. I finished emptying the room of my collectibles and assorted junk before assembling a new dresser.

It’s hard to quantify the calories that I burned during this time. My Lose It! app has “house cleaning” listed under exercise and values it as 176 calories burned per hour. Using that as the basis, I estimated about 900 calories burned over the course of two days.

Not bad for a weekend of work.

The Challenges

For the most part, it was an easy week, but I did dine out more often than usual.

On Thursday, my coworker Joe and I went to lunch together at Aroma Mediterranean Cafe in King of Prussia.

It has quickly become one of my favorite lunch spots. On this visit, I tried the kebbah kebob, a mix of ground meat (yes, the description is ground meat), cracked wheat and seasonings.

plate with kebob, rice and sauce
Dishes like this kebbah kebob are what makes Aroma such a great lunch spot.

The patties looked like hamburger sliders, but I would say it more closely resembled meatloaf in texture. As for flavor, it was deliciously seasoned, though I couldn’t put my finger on one particular spice.

It was served with a salsa-like dipping sauce on the side that had a kind of sweet and sour profile to it, too strong on its own, but one that worked really well when mixed with the kebbah and the rice.

baba ghanouj with a basket of pita
I love baba ghanouj.

Every lunch entree at Aroma is served with your choice of hummus or baba ghanouj. I chose the latter, and the beautiful plate came served with four ultra-thin pitas. I may or may not have eaten the whole thing. OK, I ate it. All of it.

Saturday night was another meal that didn’t quite work with my diet. On our way to Bethlehem for a WWE NXT show at the Sands, my buddy Dennis and I stopped at the White Palm Tavern for dinner.

menu for the White Palm Tavern

I haven’t been back to the Palm since my review there more than two years ago. Enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, we sat out on the patio for our meal.

I ordered a pepito sandwich. It was described as an authentic Costa Rican dish with peppered pork (I chose this over chicken and beef), sautéed onions, Provolone cheese, Lizano sauce and black bean dressing on a ciabatta roll.

peppered pork sandwich with fries
I’m declaring the pepito from White Palm Tavern to be one of the best sandwiches in Berks County.

I describe it as one of the best sandwiches in Berks County. The peppered pork was perfect – tender and very juicy – and I’d eat sautéed onions on anything. But what really made the sandwich was the black bean dressing. It gave the dish a distinctly Caribbean flavor, taking it from a pork sandwich to something more.

The side of fries were also very good, but not very good for my diet.

The Results

Current Weight: 161.2
Weekly Weight Loss: +0.4
Total Weight Loss: -28.2

This is the first time since the weight loss plan started that I have gained weight. I’m not discouraged, though. And I’m not going to drop my calorie intake to starve myself just to hit a number. I had two very good weeks in a row.

This week wasn’t a road block, just a very small speed bump on my approach to my goal weight of 160 pounds.

The Week Ahead

It should be an uneventful week. Normally, I would be heading to Dover for this weekend’s NASCAR action, but I’m taking a race off to be home with Julie. Hopefully she and Baby B will let me return to the track in May for the next race.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Weeks 24 & 25

It’s a double update this week as we catch up on the last two weeks of my journey to better health. It’s been a whirlwind two weeks, but the results keep coming. Here’s a look at the weeks that were:

The Challenges

As we begin this blog, I have a confession to make to my readers. If you’ve followed along with my successes, you’ll have noticed that I have recorded a lot of house cleaning in my exercises over the past few weeks.

That’s because Julie and I are getting ready to expand the Berks County Eats family when we welcome our first child (due in November).

Julie has a baby on board. I have a food baby on board.
It’s a Boy!

I wanted to make a big announcement on Facebook months ago when we announced it to our family and friends, but just never did. Part of that is because it’s been a bit of a challenge for both of us.

That challenge was never higher than last week when Julie was admitted to the hospital last Sunday (September 10). Everything is fine, but the doctors were a little concerned so she was admitted and we spent two nights at the Reading Hospital.

Chicken panini and cole slaw from the Tower Cafe
The Reading Hospital puts out some pretty good food for a hospital.

Again, I would like to reiterate that everything is fine. Julie and baby are good, and we are excited about becoming parents in two months.

We were even able to celebrate on Saturday with Julie’s surprise baby shower.

Cupcakes are the enemy of diets.
Cupcakes are the enemy of diets.

Between the four meals in the hospital and a day of noshing on Philly Pretzel Factory Rivets and celebratory cupcakes, it wasn’t the best time for my diet.

The Successes

With the exception of those few days above, I have really entered into a routine that is working.

My breakfasts consist of Honey Nut Cheerios and fat free milk. I’ve measured it out and eat about 1.5 cups of cereal with a cup of milk. Amazingly, Weis’ generic cereal is 20 calories less per bowl than the real thing.

Lunch usually consists of a bowl of soup and chips. Whenever I need it, I stop at the Wegmans grocery store in King of Prussia and pick up a quart of fresh-made soup. It lasts me two meals and it’s significantly lower in sodium than canned soup.

My chips are almost exclusively low sodium Pringles. Why? Because it’s a lot easier to count out the 16 crisps in one serving of Pringles than it is to figure out how much is in one ounce of traditional potato chips.

Lightly salted Pringles are perfect for my low-sodium diet.
150 calories and just 75 grams of sodium.

In between, I always eat one of my Graze snacks – usually between 100-200 calories. Occasionally I will indulge in a second snack after lunch, but I usually mitigate that with a walk around the office complex.

Dinner varies, but we try to plan out healthful meals: chicken stir-fries, homemade soup and portion-controlled casseroles are favorites that usually come in between 500-800 calories.

And that leaves plenty of room for an evening treat. Julie and I have found some great sweet snacks in the freezer aisle at Weis.

Yasso frozen yogurt bars are only 100 calories.
Mmm…100 calorie sea salt caramel

One is Yasso brand frozen yogurt popsicles. Flavors include sea salt caramel, raspberry chocolate chip and peanut butter. And they are all just 100 calories each.

Outshine Fruit Bars
Only 35-45 calories per bar.

My other go-to is Outshine fruit bars. These are actually fruit bars, not fruit juice bars. And Outshine makes a 12-count box of snack-sized bars that are between 35 and 45 calories each.

If I have more calories available, I will pull out the blender and make a fresh fruit smoothie. Peaches and bananas are my favorite. I mix each with almond milk and ice (and a little sugar for the peach smoothies). Two bananas and a cup of almond milk is only 240 calories. Peaches are even less. But both are delicious and filling.

In the last two weeks, I have only missed my target calorie count twice – once while we were in the hospital and once when we dined out for a review.

The Results

Current Weight: 160.8
Two-Week Weight Loss: -3.4
Total Weight Loss: -28.6

Last week, the update that didn’t happen, I was at 162.6, so I had back-to-back weeks of great success. I’m also just 0.8 pounds away from my original goal weight of 160 and 1.4 away from the 30-pound weight loss I promised myself at the start.

The Week Ahead

What I am trying to avoid now is falling out of my groove. Things are going so well that I don’t want to take a step backward by overdoing it. Other than a church picnic coming up on Sunday, it should be a fairly routine week.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat
A margharita pizza (pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil)

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 23

Week 23 of my journey to better health included the biggest roadblock so far: the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival. Would my splurging on gourmet burgers derail my plan? Read on for this week’s update.

The Successes

Once again this week, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for outdoor activity but I found ways to get my exercise.

Julie and I snuck in a short walk on Monday evening. Afterward, I spent 45 minutes trimming shrubs.

Tuesday and Wednesday I went 0-2 on exercise, but I still managed to hit my calorie goal. Thursday, on the other hand, was more interesting.

Part of my real job, in addition to the digital marketing that I do on a day-to-day basis, has been to serve as the best friend of Monty the Fox, the official tourism ambassador of Montgomery County.

On Thursday, I spent the day with Monty for a photo shoot. We explored the towns of Narberth and Ambler, riding SEPTA’s regional rail system between the two towns. I estimated we walked for three hours, stopping to pose for pictures at various businesses along the way.

That was fine with me as it allowed me enough extra calories to enjoy a peach shortcake for dessert Thursday night.

I spent two hours on Friday cleaning up rooms of our house, then walked for an hour on Saturday (see more on that below) and 25 minutes more on Sunday.

The Challenges

Saturday marked our annual pilgrimage to the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival. It’s probably the least diet-friendly event that we attend every year.

burger topped with cheese and chorizo
Nothing like a chorizo burger to derail a diet.

But from a calorie standpoint, my estimate is about 1,500 calories eaten during lunch. I bookended that with cereal for breakfast and dinner (and walking around the festival has to count for something) so it ended up being an OK day.

Friday was actually the worse day for net calories, as I came in more than 200 over my limit.

burger, fries and drink sit on a picnic table at Boehringer's Drive-In
My first and only trip to Boehringer’s this season – I had to make it worthwhile.

It was a rare weekday off and Julie convinced me to go to Boehringer’s for lunch. OK, so it didn’t take much convincing as it was my only visit of the summer to the Adamstown restaurant.

I had a hamburger, fries and a milkshake, not exactly the healthiest choice at an estimated 1,300 calories.

wedge salad topped with bacon and tomato
I ordered a salad. Intentionally. That’s called progress.

We followed that up with dinner at Mangia where I actually made surprisingly restrained decisions, opting to share a 10-inch pizza with Julie with a wedge salad to go with. Lose It estimated the meal at 800 calories for a total of nearly 2,500 calroies going in.

The Results

Current Weight: 164.2
Weekly Weight Loss: 0.0
Total Weight Loss: -25.2

A good beginning to the week followed by a not-so-good close to the week turned into a wash. I honestly believe that if the week had played out in reverse, I would have seen some better results.

The Week Ahead

As I write this, Labor Day has already passed and those calories will be reflected in next week’s update. I think I did well, but the scale on Monday will tell the tale.

It’s also been a rainy start to the week, but the sun looks like it’s going to be here to stay for a while so I will be looking to get outside and burn some calories between now and weigh-in day.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 22

It’s week 22 and I have already lost the weight of a small dog. No joke. Read on for the latest update in my journey to better health.

The Successes

It was a good week as far as exercise. I recorded an hour of walking on Tuesday during an event at work, then added lunch walks on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Then Sunday I finally had a chance to get my discs out and hit the course.

The plan was a stop at the Laurelain Park, my go-to for disc golfing, but there was an event happening so we had to turn around and go with plan b.

sign that reads "Angelica Park Disc Golf Course" with a map
Not a bad Plan B

Plan B was Angelica Park. Located on the campus of Alvernia University, the Angelica Park disc golf course is a nine-hole course that I hadn’t visited in two years. It was actually the first course that I ever played, and one that I have always enjoyed, but road closures during the construction of the new nature center made it more of a hassle to get to the course, and Laurelain was just easier.

man launching a yellow disc on a disc golf course
This looks like a wide open tee shot. It’s not. The basket is 374 feet away, down a hill guarded by a small forest.

It really is a beautiful course, a little more wooded than Laurelain with some challenging tee shots toward well-guarded baskets.

man swinging his arm back to throw a yellow disc on a tee of a disc golf course
The most difficult hole on the course, #6 is guarded by trees on both sides with a narrow fairway.

In other words, I wasn’t very good, and I hit a lot of trees. There were a few lucky shots thrown in, but for the most part, it was a struggle.

man swinging his arm forward to throw a yellow disc on a disc golf course
Look at that form!

Still, it was good to get out on the course again after weeks of wet weather kept me away.

The Challenges

Friday was a tough day as we joined Julie’s parents, aunt and uncle at Mangia. It’s a favorite spot for our family dinners, and I’m usually pretty good about portion control and taking food home with me.

Not this week.

plate of rigatoni topped with fried eggplant and red sauce
Eggplant is healthy, until it’s fried and served with two servings of pasta.

I had the rigatoni melanzane with eggplant in tomato sauce. I liked the texture and flavor that the eggplant brought to the dish. And eggplant is good for you. Unless it’s fried and accompanied by two portions of pasta. I had already eaten a slice of garlic bread and a salad that I overloaded with dressing.

It was an estimated 1,100 calories that left me over my limit for the day.

A strawberry-orange smoothie bowl with almond milk and sliced almonds.
Smoothies for breakfast? Why not?

Saturday was also tricky as Julie and I dined out for all three meals, plus dessert. We visited The Green Bean Cafe in the morning, then visited the Farmers Market of Wyomissing for their pig roast at lunchtime.

plate with a flatbread sandwich and a cup of bean and corn salad
That black bean salad – amazing.

Dinner included a trip to Isaac’s Deli. I had to restrain myself and only finish half of my flatbread sandwich because I had already promised Julie we would go to YoGo Crazy for an after dinner treat.

Thankfully, frozen yogurt is actually very reasonable in calories, and because it gets weighed, I know exactly how much is in it.

Amazingly, I managed to escape the day under my 1,930 calorie daily limit.

The Results

Current Weight: 164.2
Weekly Weight Loss: -1.0
Total Weight Loss: -25.2

I have now officially lost the weight of a corgi. At least that’s what my Lose It! app told me.

screenshot from the Lose It app depicting a Corgi with a sign around its neck that reads "25 pounds down"

I had no ideas that corgis were that heavy, but I’ll take it. Twenty-five pounds is a milestone that I am happy to have crossed, and I am getting closer to my goal weight of 160 pounds.

The Week Ahead

half of a hamburger topped with pesto, tomato and cheese
It’s creative items like the Taste of Italy Burger from Dawn’s Deli that keeps me coming back to the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival every year.

This highlight of the week ahead is Saturday’s Taste of Hamburg-er Festival, one of my absolute favorite events of the year. I am going to eat way too many calories, and I am ok with that.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat
Cheese steak and Dutch fries from the Kutztown Fair.

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 21

The 21st week of my journey to better health is in the books, and things are still looking good as I inch closer and closer to my goals. Here’s a look at how I did it.

The Successes

It was another relatively uneventful week for me. Walking and working have been my go-tos for a couple weeks now, but they seem to be working. Here’s a look at this week’s small victories:

  • Monday: 15 Minutes of Walking
  • Tuesday: 60 Minutes of Walking
  • Wednesday: 25 Minutes of Walking & 75 Minutes of Lawn Mowing

Lighter meals have helped, too. On Monday, Julie and I enjoyed stuffed peppers from Fisher’s Poultry at the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing (approximately 650 calories).

Cheese steak and Dutch fries from the Kutztown Fair.
Dutch fries are a must every year at the Kutztown Fair.

Tuesday night we visited the Kutztown Fair and despite eating a chicken cheese steak, a taco and half an order of Dutch fries, I was still 260 calories under my limit.

Friday’s stuffed zucchini (with sage sausage) dinner came in around 600 calories and Sunday’s pulled pork sandwiches with mashed cauliflower were just 435 calories.

And these were filling meals, and I never left the table hungry.

The Challenges

While the week started well for me, it ended without me recording any exercises after Wednesday. However, I watched my food intake so I only had one bad day and one borderline day.

screenshot from the Lose It app showing 296 Calories over budget
Not the best day of my diet.

My worst day was Saturday, normally a win for me because I have more opportunity for exercise. The day started at a breakfast with some of my church friends at Wegman’s Reeser Restaurant on Route 61.

Anything flour packs on the calories so I was quickly down 600 before my day even began. I then spent the morning shopping, adding on a hamburger barbecue sandwich for lunch.

Ragu alla bolognese from Cosa Pizzeria
My first meal at the new Cosa Pizzeria: ragu alla bolognese.

For dinner, Julie and I made our first trip to Cosa Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant. I’ll be reviewing the meal in the coming weeks, but let’s just say that I don’t recommend an Italian dinner for anyone on a diet (at least if you’ve already had pancakes).

Thursday was the only other day that I came in over my calorie limit. I didn’t make it out for a walk at lunch and I went right from work to Grandview Speedway for the All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.

I haven’t made it to nearly as many races this year as I would have liked but I had this one circled on my calendar because of the appearance of future NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart. His 14th place finish was disappointing, but it was a great night of racing.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go home for a homecooked meal so I had to settle for a mashed potato bowl and half a soft pretzel from Wawa. Still, I was only over my limit by 26 calories, compared to nearly 300 on Saturday.

The Results

Current Weight: 165.2
Weekly Weight Loss: -1.0
Total Weight Loss: 24.2

It’s amazing to me just how accurate the Lose It! app is when it comes to calculating weight loss. I was just a few hundred calories under for the week, and I lost exactly one pound for the second week in a row.

The Week Ahead

Once again there is nothing out of the ordinary planned for this coming week. But the grass is dry and I’ve got two new discs so I think some disc golf courses will be calling my name.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 20

It’s hard to believe that this is my 20th update on my journey to better health. But here we are, 20 weeks and 22 pounds later. Make that 23 pounds later. Check out the update below for details on how I did it:

The Successes

Sometimes you’re a home run hitter, sometimes you bat for average. This week was all about hitting for average for me. No 22-mile bike rides. No golf outings. It was a week of small victories:

  • Tuesday: 20 minute walk at lunch
  • Wednesday: 35 minute walk at lunch
  • Thursday: 20 minute walk at lunch and mowing the lawn
  • Friday: 17 minute walk at lunch
  • Saturday: 1 hour of walking
  • Sunday: 1 hour of walking

That’s about 3:30 of walking for the week, my best by far in several weeks. A combination of unseasonably cool weather and dry afternoons made it a productive week.

The Challenges

You’ll notice on the successes above that I didn’t mention Monday. Not only was Monday a washout for my afternoon walks, it was also my highest calorie intake of the week. That came thanks to a visit to Plum Creek Farm Market.

The small farmers market along Route 183 between Bernville and Reading has a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, homemade baked goods and other local products. But we skipped all that and went for the ice cream in celebration of my brother’s 30th birthday.

man taking a selfie with a cone of soft serve ice cream being photobombed by a woman in the background
Julie decided to photo bomb my ice cream selfie. Definitely improved the photo.

I ordered a medium cone of their peach soft serve, made with fresh peaches and not a flavoring mix. The fresh fruit made all the difference between a nice treat and an exceptional dessert. Every bite was loaded with peaches. I had to eat it a lot faster than I normally would though because it was not nearly as sturdy as an all-cream cone.

A small slice of peach pie on Wednesday wasn’t enough to ruin my two-mile lunch walk. Similarly, my chocolate chip cookie on Thursday was 80 less calories than I spent mowing the lawn.

man holding a cardboard cup of fries that is designed to look like a rolled up newspaper
I’m not ashamed of my all-French fry lunch on Saturday.

Even Saturday, my trip to the West Reading French Fry Festival and a heavy dinner at the Indian Fort Inn (review coming soon) balanced out with the walking and my lack of snacking.

Dry-aged ribeye from Willoughby's on Park
Like any good food blogger, I celebrated my anniversary with steak.

Sunday was the sixth wedding anniversary for Julie and I, and we celebrated with a trip to Willoughby’s on Park. I won’t give away everything before the review comes later this month, but my steak dinner and carrot cake for dessert was an estimated 1,400 calories (I couldn’t resist the carrot cake).

The Results

Current Weight: 166.2
Weekly Weight Loss: -1.0
Total Weight Loss: -23.2

Right on schedule this week. I believe this is the first time since I started that I lost exactly one pound, which was my weekly weight loss goal. I’m happy with the results; I just hope that we don’t put another “0” on the board next time.

The Week Ahead

This week will mark my annual pilgrimage to the Kutztown Fair, a yearly favorite of mine because I get to watch some dirt track racing, check out the exhibits, watch Julie’s face light up when she sees the sheep, and, oh yeah, eat some Dutch Fries.

Dutch Fries – any fried potatoes, really – can be diet killers. The calories add up fast so hopefully I can make smart decisions the rest of the week to overcome.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 19

Welcome to my 19th weekly update. Highlights include an extended bike ride on the Perkiomen Trail and a taste of the best lasagna in Berks County.

The Successes

Unlike most weeks where it was all about my weekend, my peak this time was on Wednesday.

Preparing for a blog on ValleyForge.org, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and drove to Green Lane Park in the northwest corner of Montgomery County. The goal: ride 22 miles from Green Lane to Valley Forge National Historical Park.

The Perkiomen Trail crosses through Collegeville.
The Perkiomen Trail crosses through Collegeville.

The two parks are connected by the Perkiomen Trail, which travels 20 miles along the Perkiomen Creek (the final leg of my journey carried me along the Schuylkill River Trail).

My total ride time was 2:07:36, that included an extra two miles from the park to the gym (for a shower) and then to my office.

trail sign reading "12% grade head - 1/4 mile"
12% grades are no fun. No. Fun.

On a ride that carried me up Spring Mountain, down through Collegeville and on to Valley Forge, I burned around 1,100 calories.

My adventure will become a two-part blog. You can read part one at ValleyForge.org/blog.

shrubs in the foreground with a building in the background with red awning and white letters that reads "Visitor Center at Valley Forge"
My destination: the Valley Forge Visitors Center.

I did eat more that day than usual (it was necessary), but I still managed to finish the day nearly 500 calories under budget.

Unfortunately for me, the rest of my week wasn’t nearly as productive. I recorded a 25-minute walk on Monday and a similar walk on Friday.

screenshot of Endomondo showing a 24 mile bike ride
Not bad for a day’s work.

Saturday and Sunday were spent house cleaning. I burned roughly 500 calories between the two days (and succeeded in my mission of reorganizing our laundry room – a.k.a. our storage area for things we don’t know what to do with).

The Challenges

Monday was a not-so-good day for me for snacking as I ate more than 500 calories worth of nonessentials – one Graze snack, a pair of Oreo cookies and a handful of Cheez-Its.

As I mentioned earlier, many calories were consumed Wednesday. To refuel after my ride, I had lunch at Elevation Burger in Collegeville, including a delicious mango milkshake. With my chicken sandwich and fries, it was a 1,300-calorie lunch.

We had pizza for dinner on Thursday night, enjoying a pie from Nonno Alby’s while we listened to the Ringgold Band perform at the Stone House in Wyomissing.

two disposable plates with lasagna topped with red sauce
Bad day for my diet, good day for my stomach. St. Marco’s lasagna is the best.

But the worst day for my diet was Sunday. We visited the annual St. Marco Italian Food Festival for lunch, where Julie and I each enjoyed a slice of lasagna. I look forward to the festival every year because it is the best lasagna I have ever eaten. But it is anything but light. Twelve layers of pasta loaded with meat, cheese and sauce isn’t exactly healthful. My dinner of stuffed chicken breast didn’t help matters (stuffing packs on calories pretty quick).

The result was 300 calories over budget for the day, about 500 under for the week.

The Results

Current Weight: 167.2
Weekly Weight Loss: 0.0
Total Weight Loss: -22.2 lbs.

I’m not thrilled with the lack of results this week, but I can’t be too upset after dropping nearly three pounds over the previous two weeks.

The Week Ahead

No bike rides planned for this week. That can all change, but right now it looks like it’s going to be walks and housework.

Of course, those can burn up calories quickly. And with the added motivation of a flat week, I’m going to do whatever it takes to move the needle over the next seven days.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 18

It’s hard to believe that my journey to better health is now 18 weeks old. Entering this week, I’m four pounds ahead of schedule. Here’s how I kept up the momentum since my last update.

The Successes

Last week, I mentioned that I was heading upstate with my dad for the weekend. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and I spent the weekend at home. I made the most of it, however, starting with some yardwork on Saturday.

overgrown shrubs in a yard
The Taming of the Shrubs. I’m the William Shakespeare of yardwork.

Our yard came with several shrubs that are unruly and need to be tamed every month or so. The biggest issue isn’t the shrubs, but the other plants that are trying to grow inside them.

overgrown hasta plant
These bad boys are going down.

So Saturday evening I grabbed my hedge trimmer and went to work, trimming branches that were too long and hacking off the intruder plants.

man raking trimmings from an overgrown bush
Trim. Rake. Repeat.

One hour of work was worth 200 calories, and even after cooling off with a small dip of ice cream, I was more than 300 calories under my allotment for the day.

I was feeling ambitious on Sunday and had the urge to hit the links so I pulled out my clubs and headed to Village Greens in Sinking Spring.

golf ball sits on the fairway of a course
It’s no Royal St. Andrews, but it’s good for a quick 18.

Now, Village Greens is no Augusta National, and it’s not the most well-kept course in the county (far from it), but it has its advantages.

golf cart driving up the fairway of a golf course
I am amazed by how many people actually drive a golf cart around Village Greens.

Because it’s a smaller course – 16 par-3s and two par-4s – it’s a fast round. I was able to play 18 holes in less than two hours.

And for someone who is looking for some exercise, Village Greens is perfect because it is short enough to be perfectly walkable but long enough to get a nice workout.

trees line the fairway of a golf course hole
A beautiful day for a terrible round of golf.

As for my actual game, it wasn’t my best performance. Blame it on the fact that I hadn’t golfed at all this year (unless you count my mini golf triumphs over Julie at Heisler’s and Knoebels).

I did manage a birdie with a 10-foot putt and several pars, but if not for the 530 calories burned, it was an otherwise forgettable round.

Overall, the week was one of my most active. I recorded two lunch walks (Monday and Thursday) and an hour of mowing grass on Wednesday. In all, it was worth about 1,300 calories.

The Challenges

On Monday, Julie made an amazing zucchini bread that sounded innocent enough until I added the recipe to my Lose It app.

The recipe made two loafs with a total of 5,655 calories. Flour, oil and sugar add up very quickly. We had to be very diligent with our slices to keep from overdoing it.

Wednesday I splurged on a cupcake during a birthday celebration at work. I burned off its 370 calories mowing the lawn, but I had to be very careful with my remaining choices.

pizza topped with red sauce and cheese
I highly recommend the Red & White Pizza from Mangia in Mohnton (and most everything else on the menu).

And on Friday evening I ate a pizza from Mangia. It was personal sized, and I was hungry so I ate the whole thing – approximately 900 calories based on similar offerings in my Lose It app.

The Results

Current Weight: 167.2
Weekly Weight Loss: -1.4
Total Weight Loss: -22.2

To be honest, I was taken by surprise when I weighed in (I actually weighed in twice, just to make sure) because I didn’t think it was a particularly great week. But it was certainly a pleasant surprise, leaving me just 7.2 pounds away from my goal weight.

The Week Ahead

As I write this on Tuesday night, I am preparing myself mentally for a 22-mile ride on the Perkiomen Trail.

I will be riding from Green Lane Park in northwest Montgomery County (just a little east of Route 100) to Valley Forge Park.

Oh, and it’s not happening this weekend. It’s happening Wednesday morning before work. By the time you read this, the ride will be behind me and I’ll be looking forward to my next challenge.

Berks County Eats

Ten Favorites

Our top ten favorite restaurants we’ve tried and reviewed in nine years of Berks County Eats

Berks County Eats

Restaurant Directory

Food Blogger Vs. Fat