Archive for May, 2011

Booze of the Month: Southern Pecan Beer

I’m now in Huntsville, Alabama for a wedding, so it’s fitting that the May Booze of the Month is the Southern Pecan beer from Lazy Magnolia Brewery in Mississippi.  One of my first stops was the grocery store to satisfy my taste buds.

Southern Pecan beer probably sounds weird, right?  It’s actually a delicious Nut Brown Ale.  Over Christmas, I picked up a six-pack while visiting the in-laws and quickly went back for another.

I dropped the good folks at Lazy Magnolia an email to see if there was distribution in the Northeast, but it’s now only available in eight states:  (MS, LA, AL, TN, FL and GA).  So if you’re ever down south try to pick some up. You will not disappointed.

Here’s a bit about Southern Pecan from the Lazy Magnolia Brewery website:

Southern Pecan – A true classic.  The original Pecan Nut Brown
Ale.  The conventional wisdom is that nuts and beer don’t mix.
Maybe it’s something about the water here, and maybe it’s just the
smooth toasted flavors in Southern Mississippi pecans, but our pecans
help make what we consider to be one of the best beers we have ever
tasted. We consider pecans to be a perfect addition to this nut brown
ale.  Smooth and mild with a malty sweetness accentuated by a rich
finish.  A finely balanced ale destined to become a southern classic.

It’s five o’clock somewhere.



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Body for Life – Week 2 Update

Week 2 provided a couple challenges from the get go.  My wife flew down to Alabama unexpectedly as her Grandmother’s health took a turn for the worse.  That left the puppy and I on our own for all of Week 2.

The second challenge came Monday morning.  I was invited to a work dinner Wednesday night as a co-worker was in town from LA.  I initially wanted to say no because I knew I’d be setting myself up for a BFL failure.  Avoiding restaurants is ridiculous though, so I happily accepted.

Let’s start with the obvious; I lost four pounds this week, which brings my total weight loss to 10 pounds in just two weeks.  I was extremely happy and surprised by this and am just six pounds away from my goal of 215.

I want to make a point here, as Body for Life isn’t just about weight loss.  For me, 215 is the goal because I want to shed off all the excess fat and use that as a building block for muscle growth.  It’s conceivable that I start putting on weight as I build muscle.  But I digress…

Eating Notes

Monday I temporarily lost my mind and had 3 chocolate chip cookies with milk.  I had a three-hour meeting at work, which threw off my eating schedule, but other than the cookies I did OK.

Tuesday I really had an urge for a beer, but resisted.  Instead I picked up a smoothie from Energy Kitchen on my way home.

Wednesday was the work outing.  We went to a place called Cookshop, which was awesome and I may write about it later.  Here are the pros and cons for my first dinner out on the BFL program.


  • I only drank wine and resisted the urge to drink beer.  Again, BFL is fine with an occasional glass of red wine at meals.
  • I ordered fish (yellowfin tuna)
  • I ate asparagus, which was probably the best I’ve ever eaten.


  • I drank 3 glasses of wine
  • Ate a lot of bread and some small, but unhealthy appetizers.
  • I had two cookies for dessert

That meal is a classic example of how far I’ve come.  It wasn’t perfect, but three months ago there wouldn’t have been anything positive from a health standpoint.

With my wife not around, Thursday night was tough.  I generally have 30 minutes from the time I get home from my day job till I leave to bar tend.  Now I had to feed and walk the dog instead of just changing and eating quick, so I grabbed a sandwich on the way there (roast beef on wheat with American cheese and light mayo).

Friday was pretty good.  I did have a beer and went to a healthy place that opened up near our apartment and got the Black Bean Veggie burger with soy chicken nuggets.

On my free day I went to town.  Started with breakfast at McDonald’s and gradually moved on to bologna and cheese, candy, pizza, beers, chips, etc.  Boy did I feel terrible Saturday night.  I forgot how awful heartburn is.

Sunday was nice as I went out to Brooklyn for a home cooked meal.  My friend made eggplant and pasta – delicious.  While I wasn’t completely healthy on Sunday, I was decent overall.

I still have a medium Dunkachino every day, since I don’t like coffee.  I may cut this if I start to plateau, but for now I don’t see it hurting too much.

Workout Notes

My workouts were awesome last week.  Really raised the bar from Week 1.  For example, here are my intensity levels for a cardio run on Tuesday, May 10th:

5 – 6.2 mph

6 – 6.7 mph

7 – 7.2 mph

8 – 7.6 mph

9 – 8.0 mph

10 – 8.2 mph

In that session, I ran 2.41 miles and burned 435 calories in 20 minutes.

Friday I did the elliptical, which I’m normally not a huge fan of.  However, due to the intensity regimen, I had a really tough workout.  I think I’ll start to incorporate  it every two weeks to give my knees a rest.

Saturday I again filled in for my wife and ran a 10K (6.2 miles).  I haven’t run 6 miles in 7 months, but I was up for the challenge.  I ran it in 51:43 (8:20/pace) and felt every bit of it after.  This set up a tough, tough workout on Sunday as lower body was on the schedule.  Let’s just say my rear end was in pain until Tuesday.

In summary, I really learned a lot this week.  Flexibility is the key to succeed in Body for Life, but I’m pretty sure that’s the key to success in life.  I used to aim for perfection and go out of my way to avoid failure.  But by doing something, I’m already making progress.  Even if I only get 5 out of 6 meals right, that’s way better than what I was doing a month ago.

I can’t say it enough, the beauty of this program is that there’s always another meal in a few hours.  I used to fall off the horse on Wednesday and just say “I’ll get back on track next week.”  Why wait that long?  Why not do it now?  This attitude change alone is worth doing this 12-week program.

The next two weeks are going to be tough.  As I write this, I have a 6:20am flight tomorrow to Huntsville, AL to join my wife for her brother’s wedding.  There is a fast food on every corner, including the amazing Chik-fil-A.  The temptation to deviate from this program will be immense.  But I’m going to do the best I can and take it one meal at a time.

The following weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and my family is getting together in the Catskills where eating and drinking are at the forefront.  If I can get through the next two weeks and maintain my current weight, I’ll be happy.

Time for a little shut eye.  Thanks for following along.


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Body for Life – Week 1 Update

Week 1 is in the books, and I’m off to a good start.  In this post I’ll update you on my progress and provide an overview of my eating and workouts in the first week.

My first weigh in was on Friday and I lost 6 pounds (down to 225)!  Can’t ask for a better start than that, but I realize it’s mostly water weight.  The key is the next 3-4 weeks.

Let’s get into the most critical area for fitness:  food.


Body for Life requires you to eat six meals a day, and I found this to be rather challenging. Four out of the six days (not including my free day), I didn’t make it to six meals.  Most days during the week, I worked late and didn’t eat dinner until 8pm.  I felt it was better to skip the sixth meal rather than eat something at 10:30pm.

In each of the six meals you’re supposed to have 1 protein, 1 carbohydrate and 1-2 glasses of water.  In two of those meals, a vegetable should be added.  I didn’t get to six proteins every day either, which is mainly due to eating two carbs (pear/yogurt) during my second meal.  I also didn’t eat two vegetables every day.

Here’s a breakdown of what I typically ate each day:

Meal 1:

Egg whites (with a little 1% milk), whole wheat toast with low-fat peanut butter

Meal 2:

Pear, Light Yogurt

Meal 3:

Turkey, Carrots

Meal 4:

Orange, Cottage Cheese

Meal 5:

Baked potato with light butter and pepper, grilled chicken

Meal 6:

Myoplex shakes with 1% milk and a banana (didn’t get this often)

Free Day:

My free day was Saturday and it was awesome.  I ate pizza, cookies, chicken fingers, chips, bologna and cheese on a bagel with mayo, donuts and a bunch of beers.  The best part was the feeling I had earned it, so there wasn’t any guilt associated with stuffing my face.  However, at the end of the day I was looking forward to getting back on track and continuing my progress.


I like beer – a lot.  And for the last 4-5 months I would have 1-2 beers a night.  Nothing crazy, but it became a habit and something that definitely contributed to my weight gain.  While Body for Life is OK with a glass of red wine with dinner once in awhile, beer is definitely frowned upon.

I think I did well overall with this (excluding free day).  I only had one beer Thursday night (I bar tend every Thursday night), three on Friday night and one on Sunday night.  I went out Friday night because a couple buddies were in town.  It was hard at first, but as the week went on it got easier and I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would.  It’s hard to break bad habits, but developing good habits gets easier every day.

Eating Summary:

While it wasn’t perfect, I’m pleased overall.  I had a weak moment on Thursday when I grabbed pop tarts (random) from the vending machine at work, and ironically I don’t think I ate enough during some of my meals. I’m going to monitor this point as the weeks progress.

Was it easy?  No, but it could have been worse.  I did have a headache on Monday from the transition, but that was the only time.  I started to feel better and adapt as the week went on.  I realize that flexibility is a big part of success in Body for Life.  Things are going to go wrong or come up, and you just have to roll with it.  The nice thing is there’s always another meal in 2-3 hours so it’s easy to get back on track.  If you can avoid getting too high or too low, you have a much better shot at success.  Let’s get to the fitness part of my week…


The Body for Life fitness plan requires six workouts (3 lift / 3 cardio) a week with one day off. The lifting portion is split between upper and lower body.  Upper body workouts should take 46 minutes and lower body 42 minutes.  Lower body includes abs.  Cardio is just 20 minutes.  Here’s a closer look at each.

Upper Body (Monday and Friday)

These workouts are divided between chest, shoulders, back, triceps and biceps.  Each body part gets six sets including two types of exercises.  The first set starts with 12 reps and each set decreases until you reach 6 reps.  Each set is linked to an intensity (5-10)  There is one minute of rest between each set.  Once you hit Set 4 (6 reps), you enter what’s called the high point and go back up to 12 it’s way down to 6 (five being easier with 10 being extremely difficult.

It’s easier to describe with an example, so let’s take a look at chest from my first workout.

Body Part:  Chest

Exercise:  Dumbbell bench

Set 1:  12 reps, 40 (lbs), Intensity Level – 5

1 minute rest

Set 2:  10 reps, 45 (lbs), Intensity Level – 6

1 minute rest

Set 3:  8 reps, 50 (lbs), Intensity Level – 7

1 minute rest

Set 4:  6 reps, 60 (lbs), Intensity Level – 8

1 minute break

(High Point)

Set 5:  12 reps, 50 (lbs), Intensity Level – 9

No rest

Set 6:  (Dumbbell Flies) 12 reps, 25 (lbs), Intensity Level – 10

Lower Body (Wednesday)

I hate working out my legs.  Hate it.  The nice thing about BFL is that it’s only 42 minutes and since you’re tracking on progress reports you quickly work towards the finish line.  The lower body workout is split up between:  quads, hamstrings, calves and abs.  The exercises I chose were:  leg press, leg extensions, dead-lift, lunges, angled calf raise, one-leg calf raises, decline sit ups and bent-knee leg raise.

Lift Summary

BFL preaches slow movements and counting, so each rep is much more difficult.  I also concentrated on my form.  This required swallowing my pride on a number of exercises, most notably the barbell bench press.  But I believe it will pay off in the long run.

During previous workouts, I would bang out a bunch of reps as quickly as possible and if the last couple reps got tough, I’d just stop.  Now though, on the last sets with an intensity of 9 or 10 I pushed through by saying “you can do this,” and it actually worked every time.  It’s corny, but the results speak for themselves.

Cardio (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday)

As I said, cardio is only 20 minutes.  Each minute is assigned an intensity.  Here’s an example from Thursday’s workout:

Minute 1:  6.2 mph (5 intensity)

Minute 2:  6.2 mph (5)

Minute 3:  6.7 mph (6)

Minute 4:  7.2 mph (7)

Minute 5:  7.5 mph (8)

Minute 6:  7.8 mph (9)

(repeat intensity 6-9 a couple times)

Minute 15:  6.7 mph (6)

Minute 16:  7.2 mph (7)

Minute 17:  7.5 mph (8)

(High Point)

Minute 18:  7.8 mph (9)

Minute 19:  8.2 mph (10)

Minute 20:  6.2 mph (5)

In this workout I burned 450 calories and ran 2.38 miles.  20 minutes – done.  It’s amazing. Note:  Sunday I ran a 4 mile race in Central Park, so I veered from the normal cardio workout.

That’s Week 1 on Body for Life in a nutshell.  It’s not too late to join me, and stay tuned for Week 2.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.


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Derby Wear

If I was in Louisville this weekend, this is what I’d be wearing.

This striped seersucker blazer, linen shirt and cotton-stretch pants by Ermenegildo Zegna is a great look for the Derby or even Memorial Day Weekend.

You can find it all at Neiman Marcus.  While pricey, you can definitely put a similar look together for a more reasonable price with 10 minutes of research .

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Body for Life Challenge

It’s been a long winter, but warm weather finally reached the Northeast last week.  Memorial Day is on the horizon so corona buckets, boats and beaches are on my mind.

One problem though, after a year of neglect I’m in the worst shape of my life. With 30 about a year away, I can no longer eat or drink whatever I want (somewhere my parents are saying “I told you so”).

So here’s the deal: Over the next 12 weeks I am participating in the Body For Life program and hopefully you’ll join me.  In this post I give an overview of Body For Life and links where you can buy the book and obtain more information.

I also include my current weight, measurements and goals for the program.  Each week I’ll give updates on my progress: successes, setbacks, diet, workout details and weight updates. In addition, each month I will give measurement updates to see if I’m getting bigger in the right places and smaller in others.

Body for Life suggests you take before and after pictures, which I may post later although it’s unlikely (there are dozens of examples in the book).  Regardless, AG readers will have candid access every step of the way over the next 12 weeks.

Let’s get into it.

What is Body For Life?

BFL is a book written by Bill Phillips and Michael D’Orso in 1999.  Bill also created Myoplex. It’s a 12-week program to mental and physical strength.  It’s not a diet, but rather a very reasonable lifestyle change.

Disclaimer:  I actually completed the BFL program before and can attest it works.  I wouldn’t tout something on AG that I didn’t think was legit.

BFL Training-for-Life Overview:

  • Workout six days a week (Four hours/week total)
  • Workouts are intense, short and highly effective
  • Cardio – 3 days a week (20 minutes each)
  • Weight Training (upper body / lower body) – 46 minutes each
  • BFL Fact: Muscles grow while you are resting and recuperating
  • BFL Fact:  To transform your physique, you must train with weights

Let’s stop it right here, because you read that right. Four hours a week or 2% of the time available to you each week is all you need to get in shape.

This is not a gimmick. Think about the guy in the cube next to you who routinely brags about working 12-hour days.  Odds are he’s a loser and could have completed his work in eight.  See my 80/20 post.  When I played ball in college I could work out for two hours a day, but that’s realistic anymore.

While efficiency is great, it doesn’t matter if you’re focusing on the wrong stuff.  Effective efficiency is what it’s all about.  This should be a general rule in all areas of your life.  BFL gets you in the gym doing the right stuff and out as quickly as possible.  Let’s move on to the eating part, which makes up 60-70% of successful weight loss.

BFL Eating-For-Life Overview:

  • Eat six meals a day (protein and carbohydrate at every meal – vegetables at two)
  • High-carbohydrate, low-fat diets do not work
  • You do not have to count every calorie consumed.  Instead count portions.
  • You do not have to eat perfectly all the time.  In fact, one day a week I’m going to eat whatever I want.

That’s right.  One day a week I’m going to eat Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s and drink a ton of beer.  There are biological and physiological benefits to doing this.  Mainly it helps convince your body that it is not starving.  In addition, it makes you likely to stick with the program.  It’s rare when someone can eat great for three months straight and not give up.  Your free day is that light at the end of the tunnel that comes every six days.

The other key to the program is to spend 10 minutes a day on tracking.  If you can’t measure something, it’s not worth doing.  How else will you know if you’re successful?  It’s critical to track what you eat and especially your workouts so you can challenge yourself to do more than the last workout.  I’ll get into this and the foods you should be eating in the coming weeks.

My goals for the 12-weeks are as follows:

  • Get my weight down to 215
  • Increase my energy level
  • Flatter Stomach
  • Increase muscle definition
  • Confidence boost
  • Develop better habits and cut several bad ones*
* Over the last few months, I’ve developed some bad habits.  I go to Dunkin Donuts almost every day, eat a bagel every morning, binge eat and drink on the weekends, and while I workout 4-5 times a week these workouts lack focus and intensity.

Here are my stats at the starting line:

Height:  6’7” (hopefully this doesn’t change)

Weight:  231

Arms:  13.5″

Shoulders:  49 5/8″

Chest:  21 1/4″

Waist:  36 3/4″

Hips:  44 1/2″

Thigh:  22″

Calves:  15 3/8″

You can buy the Body for Life book at Amazon.  It’s a quick read that will only take you a few days.  You can also find more information at

Everything changes today.  Come along for the ride, or better yet get involved.  I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

The limits you are living with right now, in every aspect of your existence, have been created by your mind.  They are perceptions.  And they are holding you back.  You are capable of far more than you think you are.

If you you have any questions, drop me a comment.



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