Thursday, March 29, 2018

Number 11 - Asheville, NC

We celebrated our 11th anniversary last weekend in Asheville, NC. How we love this little mountain town. The weeks leading up to the weekend I was uncertain where we would go. I wanted to check out somewhere new within driving distance. Unfortunately the weather forecast was either rain, sleet or snow any direction we went so as I drove home from work on Thursday I decided on Asheville since as the sign says, is always a good idea!

We left Friday morning & arrived about 2PM. Of course we drove straight to a brewery. We picked Sweeten Creek based on the online reviews & it did not disappoint. I ordered a flight & Steve got an Irish Red. Every beer we tasted was really good. We also ordered sandwiches which were fantastic. I ordered The Bird (turkey, pimento cheese, bacon & Avocado) & Steve the Italian. The Bird was the better of the two in my opinion.

Sweeten Creek Brewing
After lunch we checked out Asheville Cotton (yeah, I am into sewing now) followed by a trip to Cheap Joe's Art Stuff because Steve is a burgeoning painter now that he is retired. Afterwards we checked into our hotel. This trip we stayed at the Crown Plaza Resort. We walked the grounds after we checked in. It's a pretty nice place and not far from downtown.

For dinner we went to Asheville Pizza & Brewing downtown. We end up at one of their locations on most of our trips. Good beer, good food. This time I had the Ninja Porter & Steve had the Shiva IPA.  They have decent pizza but I ordered their Buffalo Bill Salad. So freakin' good! 

After dinner we walked around town. The weather was a bit chilly but dry. We picked up a sipping chocolate to share at Chocolate Fetish. We stopped into a couple of open galleries & made a quick trip through Mast General Store before heading back to the hotel.

Saturday, Steve got up early so he could get his run in. He opted for the treadmill not because it was drizzly out but more due to the hills around the resort. I always think how fit I would be if I lived in Asheville & walked those hills everyday.  

Remember last summer when we started drinking Kombucha? Well, we have been batch brewing our own since January & I was ready to move on to a continuous brewing system. One of the things I wanted to accomplish while in Asheville was to pick up a handmade Kombucha fermentation vessel.  An acupuncturist I recently went to recommended a studio in Asheville that makes them. I had reached out to them & we agreed to meet up on Saturday. I made the purchase off their Etsy shop & then met them at West End Bakery. It worked out so well & I love the piece. It is now happily sitting in our kitchen brewing up our first batch of continuous brewed Kombucha.

We spent the afternoon in the River Arts District walking through several galleries before stopping in at Wedge Brewing at Wedge Studios. This time Steve & I both got a flight. We ordered mostly the same with the exception that I ordered the Russian Stout & he ordered the bourbon barrel stout. The rest were Payne's Pale Ale, Community Porter & one of their IPAs.  My favorite was the Payne's Pale Ale - maybe because Payne is my maiden name or maybe it was just that good! When I ordered the Russian Stout I missed the small print that said it was brewed with Raspberries. I do not like raspberries & boy did I not like this beer. It tasted like cough medicine. I could not drink it. The other two I picked were OK. I tried the Bourbon Stout & was not a fan of that either although I don't typically like bourbon barrel beers.

We ordered lunch off the food truck that was there.  El Kimchi - mexican korean street food.  Steve ordered the mini tacos & I ordered the Bibimbap with bulgogi beef. Both were pretty damn good.

Wedge Brewing

Baby doll heads creep me out especially ones mounted on a rubber duckie!

Mexican - Korean Food Truck
What is a trip to Asheville without a stop at REI?  Plus we had our 20% membership coupon so we absolutely had to go. What I didn't expect was that we would use that coupon on a giant 6 person tent! Steve is so excited. Car camping here we come! It is pretty sweet. Our other tents are a tiny, tiny tent & hammocks that we take on our bike trips. It will be nice to have a nicer mattress/cot to sleep on & an area to hang out in if it rains, which in Kentucky is most days it seems.

Steve's New Tent

With a divider

We spent some time chilling out at the hotel before deciding on dinner. Since neither one of us eat out a lot anymore our systems were pretty taxed. We finally decided on Bhramari Brewing downtown. The place was packed and it was a grab a seat as you can type of communal dining. Imagine the Southwest flights that don't assign seats & when it's time to board it is a bit of a free for all. That kind of disorder causes me stress but like a Southwest flight this too worked out great.

We ordered beers at the bar & then walked around checking out the lay of the land. As we walked back into the main room towards the back of the restaurant a large group suddenly got up to leave & we had seats! We settled in to watch the second half of the Loyola Chicago vs Kansas State basketball game and ordered dinner. I ordered the wings & Steve had a burger which were pretty good. We were 50/50 on the beer. I had the Lorelei IPA & Steve had the Opulent Couch. The IPA was great but the other not so much. In general, the place was pretty cool & had a nice outdoor area.

Loved this wall at Bhramari - cuts from a tree
After dinner we walked out & it was pouring rain. Up until this point we were very fortunate with the weather. Both days was dry & in the low to upper 50's. Since the weather sucked & we couldn't eat or drink another thing we called it a night.

We were up & packed up pretty early on Sunday. We made one last restaurant stop at the #1 rated breakfast place in Asheville according to Trip Advisor - The Sunny Point Cafe. We drove by on Saturday & there was a line out the door. We must have arrived just early (9AM) enough because we were seated immediately. We both ordered coffee & Huevos Rancheros. Not sure I would call it the best breakfast in Asheville but it was pretty damn good. Our server was awesome & sent us on our way with full to go cups of coffee for our drive home.

All in all it was a great weekend. We have been to Asheville so many times & we love it every time.  The only thing missing from this trip was some good hiking!

Oh, since this is a fitness blog I thought I should mention I did a race a few weeks back, The Lucky Leprechaun 10 Miler.  Still not back to my pre-cancer training but maybe I never will be and I'm OK with that.

Pre-Race Photo

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Long Overdue Update

This post was originally a 6 month update & I wrote most of it but never finished it.  With that said it's now been 9 months since I finished radiation for breast cancer.  In my 3 month update I was recovering from a bad case of pneumonia.  The recovery took a full 12 weeks to feel mostly normal again in every day life but I am still building up my fitness levels.

I had another follow up CT scan & pulmonary visit in early October.  For the most part my pneumonia is cleared, my radiation pneumonitis is improving but I continue to have pulmonary infiltrates.  Each of the 3 CT scans have shown a spot but each month the spot is in a different location. In order to rule out any other funk they did a full blood work up.  They took 7 vials of blood plus a urine sample to check for a litany of things including, TB, histoplasmosisCBC levelsfungalC-Reactive ProteinANAANCAstronglyloides & sedimentation rates.  Thankfully all came back negative.

In November & December I had follow ups with the Radiation Oncologist, Pulmonary doc & my first mammogram since treatment ended. The Radiation Oncologist appointment was uneventful. One last checkup & then I was officially released.  The Pulmonary doc had good news as well.  My last CT scan after Thanksgiving finally came back clear. No more pneumonia, no more infiltrates but all clear! I then went for my first mammogram since treatment. As usual for me, it showed something they want to follow but the results fell in the 'probably benign, come back in 6 months.'  So all in all, really good news.  It took a year but I am finally fully recovered and now able to focus on getting my fitness back.

Prior to pneumonia I had signed up for the Gobbler Half Marathon on November 18th.  During the summer I had written off being able to run the half.  I was thinking I would back down to the 10k.  As I started to feel better I decided to hold off switching distances & just let the training tell me what distance to run.

Seen During Arboretum Run
As of early October my long run was up to 7 miles.  I was doing run / walk intervals of 1 minute run / 4 minutes walk. I can't remember at what point I decided to drop down to the 10K but I eventually made that call and was glad I did.  It took the pressure off & allowed me to enjoy some of my other favorite activities.

In addition to running, I have got back on my bike a few times.

First Post Pneumonia Ride
We also got in a couple of paddles and good hikes in the gorge.

Captain Sammie - Kentucky & Dix Rivers

Mallard Point SUP
Steve's Birthday Hike to Courthouse Rock

Another Red River Gorge Hike
Hike at Big Bone Lick State Park
(Photo credit Mary Henson)
After a fun filled fall the Gobbler kicked off the holiday running season.  This year didn't disappoint!

Gobbler 10K

Turkey Trot 5K in Kansas City - Day 1 Run Streak
Frankfort Frosty 5K

Reindeer Ramble 10K

West 6th Holiday Run
New Years Day 2018 - Day 40 Run Streak
2017 was a rough year health wise and I am grateful to have all of that behind me. As we are wrapping up January, I am now half way through my training plan for the Lucky Leprechaun 10 Miler on March 10th.  

I must say it feels really good to get back to normal!

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Sunday, July 30, 2017


Back in March I started the 2 week test to eliminate sugar & processed foods.  My main goal was to eliminate the garbage prior to starting radiation for breast cancer.   After the test I started to add some foods back into my daily diet.  Mostly fruits & a few whole grains.  I still stayed away from added sugars & processed foods.

Several weeks after finishing the test I decided to start tracking my daily food intake on My Fitness Pal.  I was curious to know how many calories I was eating plus I wanted to know my macro breakdown. I was still eating high fat foods which mentally was hard since I was raised in the 80's during the low fat era.  After a few weeks of tracking I was on average eating about 1500-1800 calories per day & my macro breakdown was as follows: Carbs 30-35%, Fat 45-55% & Protein 15-20%.  This was in the mid-May time frame.  Overall, I was feeling really good health wise & feeling satisfied with my meals.  I was starting to wonder how this way of eating would hold up long term & if it was sustainable as I started to add in longer workouts.

About this time Swim Bike Mom started advertising a new nutrition program she was rolling out with Dina Griffin, a Registered Dietitian & certified MET Specialist, called Optimal Thrive.  Dina works with Bob Seebohar in Colorado.  When I first started triathlon in 2009, Bob came to Lexington to discuss his book about eating metabolically efficient to train your body to be a fat burner instead of a sugar burner.  I knew of several folks that bought the book & implemented this way of eating.  At the time I was just trying to figure out the sport & didn't bother too much with my nutrition.  Fast forward 8 years, hearing SBM was offering this on-line program I was very interested.  The timing was spot on since I had just finished the 2 week test & was looking for direction on how to move forward.  The first Optimal Thrive session began on June 1st. 

Optimal Thrive started out as a 5 week session but they extended a couple weeks during the program so folks could have more time grasping the material.  The format was good.  It was exclusively on a Facebook private group.  No emails. They would send out via Facebook a few worksheets a week. They would have a Q&A thread every Friday.  They also had a meal thread where everyone in the program could add photos / recipes of their meal wins.  There were weekly Live videos with Dina & 2 or 3 Webinars with both Meredith & Dina throughout the program.

About the worksheets - there were a total of 21 worksheets over the program.  So not daily but several times per week.  The essence of the worksheets were to teach you the principles of eating Metabolically Efficient & to give you the tools on how to implement into your life.  The worksheets were not a weekly meal plan telling you what & when to eat. A few recipes were given but not a book of recipes.  A few examples were given on how different athletes should eat for their day but not a slew of meal plans.

In a nutshell, how this program was run can be summarized with this famous quote: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."  Personally, I loved it. I rather have the tools to understand the why I am doing what I am doing then just being told what to do.  You need to understand this is how the program is run because some folks don't want to or are not ready to think. They just want to be told what to do.  Sometimes, you need to slow down & learn the basics.

Since starting the 2 week test I am down over 10 pounds and 17 inches in my thighs, hips & waist. My deep sleep has improved significantly, I will talk more about that later in this post.  I am still waiting to get healthy to see how my energy levels are & how this way of eating works with longer workouts.

Below is a typical day meals:

Breakfast: Green Smoothie - Almond milk, Tera's Whey protein powder, spinach, carrots, almond butter or plain greek yogurt, frozen banana & berries or Veggie & Meat Omelette.

Green Smoothie

Omelette, Bacon & Sprouted Rye Toast
Lunch: Spinach or Cabbage Salad with sweet peppers, carrots, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cheese & some kind of meat - grilled chicken, tuna, turkey.  Either olive oil & balsamic vinegar or organic ranch dressing

Cabbage Salad
Dinner: Grilled Zucchini/Summer Squash & green beans, grilled chicken with peanut sauce

Grilled Corn & Summer Squash
Snacks: Fruit & string cheese, almonds/cashews/pistachios, veggies & hummus

The other thing I have been doing since being sick is listening to podcasts on health & nutrition. A couple things I recently introduced into my diet is Kombucha & Apple Cider Vinegar.  This is to combat the damage the 3 weeks of antibiotics did to my system.  Both are said to help to rebalance the good stuff in your gut.  Kombucha is definitely an acquired taste. I have been drinking 1/2 - 1 serving per day.  The first thing I noticed is that it gave me an immediate burst of energy.  The first time I drank it was after my first day back to work after pneumonia.  I was drained from the day.  After drinking 1 serving I immediately felt perked up.  I had similar results the next day. I even got Steve drinking it & to my surprise he really likes it.  I have been drinking it for a week now & my belly feels a lot better.  Steve had similar comments.  It's not cheap, about $1.50 - $2 per serving.  There are a ton of flavors & brands so we have been trying different ones.  Even Target has their own brand but be careful theirs has added sugar. So far our favorite is Traders Joe's Pink Lady Apple at $4 per bottle.

This is our favorite so far - Trader Joe's
They even make some with Chia seeds.  If you are not familiar with Chia & what they do in liquid, think bubble tea. If you like Chia seeds, this one is good as well. I have drank about 4 ounces a day & haven't noticed any energy boost like I did with the Trilogy & Pink Lady.  It is also higher in calories because of the Chia seeds.  Personally, I will skip the Chia ones in the future.  Not that they taste bad but because of the calories & no noticeable benefits.

Grape Chia
I will continue to try new flavors & possibly do a post in the future.  For now, read THIS post regarding reviews of Kombucha for a giggle. The first one we tried was the 2nd one in her post, Synergy Enlightened Trilogy.  Like I said, it's an acquired taste but we were able to drink it with relative ease.

On of the benefits since starting the 2 week test is my sleep quality is off the charts compared to before I started the 2 week test.  My average deep sleep went from 3.5 hours per night to almost 6 hours per night. I wonder if that will hold up after getting healthy, fully back to work & working out again.

One of the podcasts I am listening to is Bulletproof.  I pick up one of his books, Head Strong, at the library this week. One thing that really jumped out to me on page 232 is about sleepy snacks.  "If you wake up between three & five AM and can't go back to sleep, it's often because your blood sugar is dipping during the night, causing a cortisol spike, which wakes you up."  Holy crap!  This used to happen to me EVERY night. I would wake up between 2 & 3 every night, toss & turn, for a couple of hours.  After I finished the 2 week test, my deep sleep improved by about an hour a night.  After finishing the Optimal Thrive program & recovering from pneumonia it has improved an additional hour.  Last week, my deep sleep average was 5 hours, 40 minutes which is up from 3 hours 28 minutes in mid February.

So yeah, I am very curious to see if this trend continues after I am fully over the pneumonia & back to my normal way of living.

Speaking of normal way of living....I am 4 weeks into my pneumonia recovery.  Yesterday was the first day that I felt I had good energy & could join the group for a walk.  It was slow but I managed 2 miles around the Arboretum.  It felt great to be out.  It helped the weather was perfect.

First Post Pneumonia Walk
Today I finally was able to join the weekly free Yoga at Ashland.  Again, the temperature & humidity were perfect. It feels so good to move the body.
Outdoor Yoga is the BEST
Tomorrow I go back to the Pulmonary doctor for a follow up.  I am hoping to be able to ease back into the Livestrong program this week.  I have no intention of running or biking until after I see my follow up CT scan on 8/21. I am going to ask the doc about swimming.  It would be nice to get a few more swims in during August.

Stay healthy, y'all!


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