On success at weight loss.

This post is a bit more stream of thought than I normally like to publish, however there didn’t seem to be a great organizational structure other than detailing the story of how I did what I did. With respect to that, I’ve left it as is because I think it reflects the trial-and-error, on-the-fly, nature of my experience.

Those of you that know me personally have likely noticed my 60 lb weight loss over the past year or so. I’ve also gotten a number of questions about my “secret sauce” when it came to weight loss. I started tracking my weight about 10 lbs down from my peak weight. I managed to change my BMI by 6.3 points.

BMI chart via Fitbit
Here’s the data showing the drop in my BMI.

I’m likely writing this as much for myself as I am for those people. The secret, I tell them, is exercise and diet heavily sprinkled with dedication.

My journey started with a second trip to the doctor after the first which had an impetus to change my lifestyle. What I had tried in the three months between visits was not working.

I wasn’t exactly unhealthy, but I was far heavier than I would have wanted at 29 years old. My diet wasn’t terrible either, but it did lack a significant amount of vegetables. And so the start of my change went something like this:

Creating a Plan of Action

My first shot at it failed, so in my second attempt I decided to focus on implementing routine slowly, here was my basic plan:

  1. Focus on a single goal with the most impact.
  2. Implement a new goal each time one has become routine.
  3. ????
  4. Profit (lose weight)

My first goal was to hit the AHA recommended activity time/step count. I used a Fitbit flex to track my steps. For 6 months I hit 10,000 steps every day.

While my first plan had been to change one thing at a time, my diet took a wild swing too. I was really afraid of eating nearly anything. As that evolved, the goal took shape: eat salad at least five times a week. Eat more chicken and salmon. Eat less fatty meat. As of this writing, I still maintain the above advice, with a bit of variety thrown in to keep it interesting. I even won the chili cook off at the NKADD with a veggie lentil chili.

As my step count hit the 10,000 stride, I started to change things a bit. I added running and dropped step counts in favor of time (20-30 minutes vigorous) when I was running. I downloaded Hal Higdon’s beginner half marathon training schedule and followed that. I missed only 5 days out of the schedule’s 15 weeks. By the end I adopted the overall pattern of the training schedule and follow it still.

After almost a year, and having turned 30, I feel better now than I did at 25. I could also probably outrun my 25-year-old self fairly easily. My diet is better and my last visit to the doctor in May showed I’d improved everything. I’ve held things at steady state for nearly 3 months, showing myself I can keep the weight off, and I’m getting ready to ramp up in the fall to try to get my weight down even further. It all started, though, with an unwavering commitment to hit my targets and meet a simple goal first, before doing anything else. That seemed hard then, but looking back now I wonder how I had never done that before.

Windows 10 Mail “settings are out of date”

Update: 8/31/2015, I take it all back. It was only a temporary fix. My new diagnosis is something has corrupted my account or the mail app is mishandling things. Will update if I find something that works.

I’ve been pretty aggravated lately with a recurring error with Windows 10 built-in mail client with my work e-mail account.

Luckily, this fix worked for me to clear it up.

Rumors of my absence have been greatly exaggerated.

Quite a bit has happened since March. I had to give up blogging for a little while to finish planning my wedding (which went off without a hitch).

I’m writing this post from Louisville, KY where I am currently attending the Governor’s Local Issues Conference. Thus far I have  learned about TheLeaderInMe, which is essentially an alternative model of education,  and Kentucky Infrastructure Authority grants.

I’m drafting blogs now to cover this conference, the wedding beers, and some recent adventures in cooking. Hopefully those will start rolling out as early as this weekend with updates coming weekly again (as originally planned).

Sour Dough Spent Grain Bread

I would apologize that I haven’t updated the blog in a few weeks, but to be honest nothing interesting was happening during (hopefully) the last big chill of the season.

I’ve talked about spent grain bread before, now I can update with a new twist on that recipe. This week Rebecca and I were able to make spent grain sour dough bread using some yeast I caught here in Cincinnati. It ended up with a great yogurty sourness that went well with honey.

I caught the yeast by throwing some rye flour and water into a bowl with a towel covering it and letting the bowl sit out in our house for 48 hours. It took longer to see bubbles than others had advised me due to the lower temperature of the house.

I took about 1/4 of the slurry and mixed it with more flour and water every 24 hours for a week or so (sometimes going as long as 3 days). By day 7 it had a really sour smell and was very acidic. Rebecca took about 1/4 of the culture and threw it in some water with more flour near our pre-heating stove. The yeast took off and eventually she began following the spent grain recipe with this yeast instead of the dry active yeast prescribed by the recipe.

It took about 24 hours for rising to fully occur. She punched it down about halfway through and let it rise again. The rise wasn’t huge like a regular yeast, but it was enough to warrant attempting to bake the dough.

What came out was what is pictured above. A really nice dense but moist bread with a really complex sour flavor reminiscent of plain Greek yogurt.

Since she baked the bread I’ve started feeding and diluting the yeast more, I think it was less vigorous due to acidification and am hoping that this will correct that problem. Once the yeast became more active (eating everything in under 12 hours) I threw the whole thing in the fridge for storage until we want to make bread again.

Unfortunately I don’t have more concrete numbers or measurements for this post. Yeast culturing turned out to be much more of an art due to my haphazzard method.

Modernist Cuisine Beer Cheese Mac + Cheese

I love to tell people about sodium citrate, a chemical that is similar to what the inventors of Velveeta used to keep their cheese from separating into fats and proteins. It works great for creating nacho cheese and cheese sauce at home using a few ounces of cheese, a bit of water, and some sodium citrate.

You can easily find the recipe on the Modernist Cuisine Website. I cobbled together the advice of a few different recipes to create what, effectively, tasted like beer cheese. If you want to recreate out creation follow the recipe below:

Modernist Beer Cheese:



  • 265 g Dunkelweiss beer
  • 11 g Sodium Citrate
  • 285g (10 oz)  of Vermont Sharp Cheddar (I ended up using 11.5 oz)
  • 2 cups cooked macaroni (or whatever pasta you prefer)



  1. Combine sodium citrate and beer into a pot, whisking to dissolve, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Add cheese slowly to simmering liquid, blending with an immersion blender (or just whisk really hard, like I did)
  3. Mix cheese sauce with macaroni/pasta

The beer is really the key difference here, the added flavor contributed by the dunkelweiss gives a distinct beer-cheese flavor that adds to the sharp cheddar flavor of undiluted cheddar cheese (we may try adding some mozzarella next time to thing the flavor a bit, it got intense). We also discussed adding garlic and roasted onions and peppers. In addition, Rebecca has promised to make some spent grain bread to go along with it (so we can mop up the extra).

If you have problems with the emulsion refer to the original recipe (linked above) and look at the tips section.

KAMM Regional Training (Region III @NKAPC)

KAMM_LOGO(2)Yesterday I attended a training put on by the Kentucky Association of Mitigation Managers at the NKAPC (Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission). The training was a basic introduction to Flood Management and Mitigation and the changes coming to Kentucky (and the nation) under the Biggert Waters reform passed last year. Every time I read “Biggert Waters” I always think “bigger waters” instead. Sort of a funny coincidence given the connection with flooding, though the changes being made are no laughing matter.

The first ‘session’ covered Flood Plain Management and discussed the basics of flooding, how we find flood plains, and other terminology. As well as federal, state, and local agency contexts, regulations, and KRS.

The second ‘session’ covered the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Biggert Waters Act changes (KAMM hosts a PDF of the presentation). Specifically section 205 and 207, which hold many of the more controversial changes. For those of you unfamiliar with the Biggert Waters Act, it was a reform to the NFIP that eliminated many of the existing subsidies for those being insured in or near a flood plain as well as how flood plains are determined. This will effectively create ghost towns in some parts of Kentucky and the US as many homeowners could be forced to abandon their properties due to the increased cost of insurance.

The final session covered mitigation and grants as well as introducing the new CHAMPS tool. CHAMPS, or Commonwealth Hazard Assessment & Mitigation Planning System), “a tool used by local, regional, and state managers, planners, and responders to build community resiliency through a streamlined and standardized process for planning, assessments, and funding of projects.” Already, I’ve heard positive feedback from my co-worker that handles hazard mitigation that this system is fantastic. If you’re interested in learning about CHAMPS (see here to find out if you’re the target audience), the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management is hosting training on CHAMPS. More information about where and when they will be having these trainings is available on the KYEM website.