Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week 13: Better late than never!

Well America, I have those 2 pounds I owe you. I am down another 2 pounds from 262 to 260. It was a hard trek but obviously worth it.

This week there really isn't much to report on. I buckled down, got into the gym for my three days, and kept
portions under control. Motivated by my less than stellar performance in weeks 10 and 11, I can hold my head up this week as I'm that much closer to breaking the 250 barrier.

Once again I kept my recipes simple. This week I made a bacon pizza.
If I have to tell you the recipe, shame on you! Albeit, slightly overdone, it still tasted great, but was simple, small, not over filling. I have my chicken defrosting now for another great tasting pie next week. Alfredo chicken and broccoli!

While this week has very few interesting stories, that in itself is a great triumph. I have recovered my momentum and am heading back down the correct path. I have received a workout buddy. An old friend from Indiana reached out to me and confessed he has begun his own journey. And his results mirror mine. We both started around the same weight and have lost about the same amount. I think he might actually be beating
me by a pound or two. It's always nice to have someone who is in the exact same boat
you are. I have several workout buddies and motivators already, including Matt McLellan and Jay Sherinsky, but they are in a slightly different boat. Matt is already well toned and has lost the weight. Even in his first incarnation, he was never really that big. But trying to come down from the amount of mass I was and still am carrying is a different story. My new buddy has a little more understanding of the difficulties and triumphs associated with this type of loss. Thanks buddy!

With 3 weeks left I'm pushing myself as hard as I can. I can see the finish line for this leg, but I have no set finish line for after. I'm gonna keep the momentum going as long as I can.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Week 12: Back on Track

Hello America, here's the thing, I’ve only got two pounds on me, you think I could pay you the rest next week?

As stated above, I must report I fell short of my promise to you by 2 pounds. I was able to lose another 1.7pounds--bringing me from 263.7 to 262 pounds even. And I dropped down from 46" to 45.8" navel measurement. I fell short of my promise of losing 4 pounds by 1.8 pounds, unfortunately...but hey, how many pounds did you lose this week?

I was able to get on my bike for a couple of rides, but then the heavens opened up and rained for almost an entire week. I made the ride home for a high-intensity workout session, in one blow. I didn't have to make a base camp for the night or anything. And it only took me one minute longer to get home than it did to get to work. This felt very good. Although I have realized my butt is out of shape. I don't mean me overall as a person. I mean, literally, my's out of shape. Bike seats hurt!

With this accomplishment under my belt, I was able to get a couple trips to the gym in and monitor my food and water intake a little better this week. This helped in recharging the mojo and direction of my diet. I’m cracking down on the exercise aspect for the last four weeks before my 120 days is up. As said, I will continue this past the 4-month date, but I want to achieve as much as I can in the time allotted.

Eating so much pizza got me thinking about the first time it actually appeared. I learned a lot from the Pizza Class John Arena gives at Metro Pizza in Las Vegas, but I was looking for the origin of the word. Apparently it first appeared in Latin texts in Gaeta, Italy, in 997 A.D. Basically, the text was more or less a bill, stating that the tenant of a certain property owed the bishop of Gaeta
“duodecim pizze,” or 12 pizzas, every Christmas day, and another twelve on Easter Sunday. But back then pizza wasn't the food we know today. The tomato had not yet been introduced to Italy, so it more closely resembled foccacia bread. Italy didn't even know what a tomato was until the mid sixteenth century, when it was brought over by Spanish Conquistadors. Man, I wish I could pay my rent with 24 pizzas!

I decided to take a simpler approach to my meals this week--well kind of. I’ve been making very fancy, heavy, elaborate pies in the past. Tired from a workout and not trying to think too much, I decided I didn't want a big, topping-heavy slice that day. I went old school. Classics are called classics for a reason. So with some "Via Pizzeria 1-2-3" sauce from my good friend Gino Rago of Panino's Pizza in Chicago, I made a very simple, very cheesy, pepperoni pizza. I topped it off with my first harvest from my basil plant, and confidant, Herb. He has really bounced back, and he's very tasty!

The Pizza Burger
Now here's the not-so-simple part. I decided to play around one day with a recipe I'd been thinking about for a while. A Pizza Burger--Hamburger stuffed with mozzarella, a flat-bread cut in half and toasted, with a Ricotta, garlic, parsley spread and some red sauce on the top. I added provolone slices on the patty, topped it with green pepper rings, red onions, black olives, thin-sliced Romas and some crisped pepperoni. Then I spread the top of the "bun" with some garlic butter and sprinkled more of my good friend Herb on top. The taste was amazing. The size was, well, huge. But do not be dismayed, America, I only ate a portion each day. In fact, there's a bite or two still left to work on.

Well that's my week America. I ‘m so sorry I couldn't reach my goal I promised you. I really tried my best, but that motivation got me back on track. I needed it. Thank you. So now the slow crawl downward continues, with renewed commitment to my workouts and making sure I don't let my portions increase again. We're in the final leg now, folks. Let's make it happen.

Cats and pizza, what could be better?!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Week 11: Slow crawl from the trenches

Well week 11 has arrived, halfway to the deadline of my promise to America of losing 4 pounds. Well, it's a slow start, but a start nonetheless.

Down from 264.2 to 263.7 pounds. A half a pound loss, but still a loss! I did maintain the 46" navel measurement. Now, I can't be too down on myself. While progress has slowed, I am still pushing forward. Being down 23 pounds and 3.25" from the start is a big thing.

I was able to get my gym visits in this week. Just two, but for the third, I dusted off the old family truckster, i.e. my bike, and took it for a spin! The tires were flat, it was covered in mud and pollen from all the rain and shedding trees, but now she is shined up and ready to ride. While I didn't attack the Everest like incline that is the ride home from work just yet, I feel it coming soon. I might have to make basecamp halfway up on my first attempt and try for the summit the next day, but it will be done.

With my workout routine back up and running and my wheels greased, I am ready for the grueling task of losing another 3.5 pounds in week 12. I feel energized and motivated to do this. With those pounds lost I will be that much closer to my milestone of breaking the 250's. Will you guys throw me a party? Hint, I like pizza.

Encouraged by a loyal reader to add a little bit of interesting into this blog vs. just listing my weekly doings (after all, isn't that what Facebook is for?), I looked into some of the healthiest pizza toppings out there. Inspired by some of my earlier readings about the health benefits of items like spinach, basil, tomato and artichokes., I wondered what the top ten healthiest pizza toppings were. So here are some of the top ten healthiest choices for your pie, according to

The health benefits include lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of colon cancer thanks to the chromium, vitamin C, and fiber.

Black Olives
Olives are full of healthy unsaturated fats that fight heart disease and lower cholesterol. You’ll also be getting some good things known as polyphenols and flavanoids. The fat will also help you absorb the nutrients from your other toppings.

Red Peppers
Chock full of Vitamin C, A, and B6, along with antioxidants like beta-carotene.

I recommend making a paste out of chopped garlic and olive oil. You can spread that on the crust before you load it down with everything else. Lots of health benefits from garlic, plus the heart-healthy fats you get from this flavorful bugger!

Not only is it loaded with antioxidants, but it’s full of iron, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The iron will build your blood (no EPO necessary) and the lutein and zeaxanthin will protect your eyes from macular degeneration.

One of the few fruits that works on pizza. It contains Vitamin C and an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain will aid digestion, a good thing if you eat as much pizza as I do, and it even acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, easing your aching muscles. If you were just out hammering for 5 hours, pour on the pineapple!

While being neither fruit nor vegetable (mushrooms are actually a fungus,) they add great flavor and great nutrients. They are packed with selenium and riboflavin (and other B vitamins,) along with other nutrients that could ward off cancer.

Sliced tomatoes make great toppings, especially on a white or pesto pizza. Even if you already have tomato sauce on there, adding tomatoes just increases the healthiness.

This one is full of Vitamins C, A, and K, along with quite a bit of folate and dietary fiber. Broccoli offers significant anti-cancer effects, and when paired with tomatoes or tomato sauce, the veggies can boost each other’s effects for even better cancer fighting.

It’s full of protein, but not full of saturated fat and sodium like pepperoni. Chicken also has some good stuff like zinc and selenium (to boost your immune system) and essential B vitamins.

Now a Fox News poll replaced red peppers and black olives with ham and parmesan cheese. I'm ok with that! I was happy to see I have already been hitting a vast majority of these. I will make it a mission to incorporate the last few into a pie. As for black olives, pineapple, broccoli and mushrooms, I already have some great ideas.

This week was fueled by, of course the hearty breakfast pie, and a new concoction, a basil pine nut pesto with homemade Italian sausage and banana peppers. I made a basil pine nut pesto procured from this online recipe. This recipe is very similar to the recipe of the month by Roberto Caporuscio several issues ago. A pie he fed me in New York. At the time I was skittish about pesto, but out of respect, tried it. It pulled me
out of my pesto shell and I haven't looked back. The sausage I used was left over from Michael LaMarca's visit, made special for Master Pizza. Just spread the pesto over the base, cheese it and add the sausage. I added banana peppers halfway through the bake to keep some of the crunch. Very filling pie with lots of zing! For an added crunch I suggest adding diced pine nuts on top as well. It just ups the flavor.

 With the mandatory workout and menu report done, I am off to the gym! Eventually they are gonna kick me out for taking pictures, even if they are just of myself. I will continue my rides building up to the Herculean task of the ride home, and vary my menu with some of these healthy suggestions. Just 3.5 pounds to go to reach my promise. I'm doing my best America, for you!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week 10 means start again. >:0

Well, um, my name is Brian, and I gained a pound.

My Week 10 numbers have increased slightly. I went up to 264.2 pounds from 263.4, and back to 46" navel measurement from 45.8".
My first real backslide in this diet has set me all astir inside. The beginning of this week started out very gloomy. The weather has been teasing us with a day or two of sunshine before regressing to its 3-month long deluge of craptastic weather. Oh cruel Mother Nature -- what has your pants suit in a bunch?

Now this is no excuse, as I don’t work out outside, but I do get affected by gloomy weather at times, as I'm sure most of us do. It is even has a name, but I'm too S.A.D. to remember it right now. The main let down to this was my intention to start riding my bike again for the HI IT workouts. As I said, this is a sad list of excuses as I could do this at the gym, but I was set on doing it in the sunshine, burning some real calories from the warmth.

My lack of exercise coupled with a few larger-than-normal portions and tripled by less-than-stellar water
Pi. Get it?
consumption equals gain. Now I'm no mathamagician, but this equation is not the best.

So what do I do? Wallow in self pity? Feed my discouragement chicken nuggets? Or man up, put on a rain poncho and get my butt rolling? While I do like my nuggets, I'm gonna opt for door No. 3, plus I look great in ponchos! I did get a brief HI IT session in on Saturday, but it was too little too late. I'll be hitting the gym my required three times this week.

But in the midst of the gloom and doom of Week 10, I was able to have a little fun. Me, Daniel, Melanie (PMQ's awesome video team) were able to sneak away for an Adventure in Pizza to Fulton, Mississippi, home of Stan Miller and World Famous PieZons Pizza, the state’s largest pie and some fantastic pizza art. Stan is a second-time USPT member after winning some events at the National Pizza Trials at Mellow Mushroom in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Stan walked us through the origins of his artistic endeavors then teamed up with me in wishing our team good luck in Italy. The funniest thing about his large 30" pie, it is only 30" because that's as big as it could be and still fit out his doors.

With my food stores replenished…until the next millenium, I was still craving a new pie for the end of the week. I went back to an old favorite of mine, the
Chicken Bacon Ranch. I had been thinking about it for a while -- then I was able to get one at PieZon's. That just sealed the deal. It's as simple as it sounds. I grilled up some chicken, fried up some bacon, mixed up some ranch. Jumbled it all together, then threw it on a pie. Put some cheese on top and enjoyed. You can also do it with ranch sauce as the base and just add the chicken and bacon on top, but taking a cue from Stan, I drenched the chicken and bacon in the ranch for a complete flavor blast in every bite.This was actually a little healthier as it used less ranch than making it the base while not sacrificing the flavor

So without any more excuse making, self pity or tears on my basil filled pillows, I make this vow to you
America, and all those abroad harassing me on a daily basis. I will lose this pound plus three more by the end of week 12. The goal is 260.2 pounds. I'll see you in 4 pounds!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Week 9 and still doing fine!

Week 9 rushed by me so fast, I reached out to grab it only to get a handful of dust in the shape of Week 9. But the momentum has continued in my favor! I am down to 263.4 pounds, and just under 46" navel measurement, and this time I brought the proof. I realized a lot of this was going on my word, and while my Mom believes every word I say, I also realized some of you may not. After all, I am very sneaky.

Now as I was able to get in a few runs to the gym , I’m sad to announce I have been neglecting an important part of the training, HI IT (High Intensity Interval Training). This is where most of the fat will be burned. It’s basically 6 short 30-second bursts of, well, high-intensity workouts. Example: sprinting as fast you can for 30 seconds on a treadmill that is not on, or other such high- intensity moves. I have a renewed motivation to hit this hard again as the weight loss has slowed down significantly. I will most likely be riding my bike to and from work a couple of days a week now. I live at the top of a hill and work at the bottom. So the ride home will be a nice intense workout, most likely in short bursts for a while.
I treated the office to a Pizza Friday--on Thursday--so our office mates who don’t work Fridays could participate. I was basically burning off some ingredients before they went bad, but it is always well received.We made another Popeye from Master Pizza, one of my breakfast pies and the famous BLT Pretzel Crust. I also burned off some ingredients at my house with a new take on the potato pie. I fried up some thin red potato slices, and made and Alfredo base pizza, with spinach, artichokes, parmesan, some diced tomatoes, sweet corn off the cob, rotisserie chicken breast, green onions and leftover ricotta garlic mix. I used light ingredients to not overwhelm the pie. The flavors worked well together, especially the cheeses. Now my fridge is clean and ready for the next round of ingredients.

I have noticed the pace of my loss slowing in the last few weeks, and I'd be lying if it isn't a little discouraging at times. I am very happy to be able to maintain, but the initial joy of the immediate results has waned. This is something I have been prepared for, but it’s still never fun. This got me thinking about other diet trends out there--is there anything as unique as my approach that people are having results with.

Now aside from you run-of-the-mill no-carb, no-sugar, no-water, only water, no-food diets out there, I wasn't able to find anything as interesting and unique as this diet. I was, however, pointed to an article in Prevention Magazine about the health
My Basil Plant, Herb
benefits of pizza. That’s something most of us knew, some are relearning and others had no idea about. They offered several recipes to try for a healthy slice, but the best part was just the two examples they gave at the beginning of the article about two of my favorite toppings. The tomato sauce in your pizza is a great source of one of Mother Nature's best disease-fighting compounds, lycopene. Not to mention a great dose of your daily Vitamin C, and in that combination, studies have shown consuming a healthy amount of this natural wonder sauce can reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease! But the part I did not know, and was very excited to hear about, was how basil was able to deactivate cancer-causing toxins that leak into our food from pesticides, pollution and other environmental bad guys. I’m glad to know I can use it for more than just stuffing my pillows. The scent helps me sleep...stop judging me! 

With my knew determination to kick my own arse in the gym with HI IT sessions, I’m off to start sweating away my shame from lack of intensity. I’m also loving the little nutritional facts I’m uncovering on this journey to a better Brian. I have 7 weeks left on this journey, at least this first leg. I plan to maintain this as long as I can and at least get to my goal of 245. I will see you all there, I'll be the one hiding behind the Stop Sign pole--you might not see me!


Get Funky With It!