Monday, August 24, 2015

Week One - The Whole30 Experiment

"The second week was bad. Day 10 was the worst for me." *Gulp*

This is a direct quote from a friend who has previous done Whole30. Welp, today marks the start of Week 2 of our Whole30 experiment, and I think I've only had one moment (so far) where I've gotten upset and annoyed with the restrictiveness of the plan. Let the sharing commence.

You see, Chipotle serves as a beacon of warm, burrito goodness that safely ushers consumers to the shores of tastiness. So when the Whole30 plan said that we could have a cheat day at Chipotle, my heart skipped a beat. But when I also found out that I could "cheat" by only eating their carnitas, salsa and lettuce, I died a little inside. I was at least hoping for the steak - I knew the rice and cheese wasn't a possibility. *Sigh*

Another challenge has actually just arrived today at work. As I previously mentioned, the office I work in offers free, all-you-can-eat chips, soda and other snacks in the closet next to the kitchen. Until today, its rations had been dwindling to the point where I had no issue walking past it - even if I took a glance inside. But when I saw the Peapod delivery guy mosey into our kitchen this morning with a full load of inventory, a single tear came down my cheek. Here's what is looming on the other side of the office...
I'm sure the barrage of chips will be coming tomorrow...
But those items aside, Karin and I have been KILLING it since Day 1. I can't talk enough about how incredible her meals have been. What's that? You want some examples? Boom. Burgers and fries!


Karin even found a way to get me to eat mushrooms - finely dice them up and put them in a burger! She also put in apples, bacon and onions as well. They were delicious!  She also whipped up some homemade sweet potato fries and mayo dipping sauce!


We also ordered our groceries from Peapod for the first time this past weekend! (Whoa, two mentions of Peapod in one post? I must want some free stuff or something...) For those who don't know, Peapod is a service that will let you order your groceries online and then deliver them to your house. No joke. They have tons of food, AND decent prices!


Sure, we don't mind a family trip to the grocery store here and there on a Saturday afternoon, but if we don't have to battle the crowds, why bother? The WalMart here in Crestwood is kind of a joke at times anyway... #RealTalk.

So with Week 1 in the rear-view mirror, we're feeling confident moving forward, despite the grim warning from my friend. However, I still have to battle the temptation of stepping on the scale in the morning. Sometimes I really just want to know the scale's opinion on how well it's been going...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Whole30 - Day 3

So far we are about halfway through Week 1 of our Whole30 experiment, and I must say, it is going much better than I initially anticipated. The cravings for junk food aren't popping up yet (or maybe I'm just doing a good job of suppressing them), the snacks at work haven't been much of a temptation, and the food Karin has been making for us has been AMAZING!

Here are some pictures of what we made for dinner on Tuesday night. Karin even made her own BBQ sauce for the pork loin, which included cinnamon and peaches! Yum!

Pork Loin on the Grill
Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
The Final Product - Tuesday's Dinner!
Since we had the grill fired up, we also made sure to grill up some steaks for lunches!

Steaks for Lunches!
But I'm not going to get ahead of myself. I have a track record of being able to stick to a diet plan or a workout regimen for a solid week before falling off the wagon and going back to old habits. Now that by no means is saying that I'm going to give in to the snack demons in the pantry at work, that just means that things are most likely going to get much tougher as the weeks go on. And I may get cranky.

I also need to get back to running ASAP because I've signed up for another 5k with my brother in-law. He's still going to kick my butt, but there's no way I can post the same, measly time from July. So keep an eye out for another race recap sometime after September 10th!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Whole30 - Here Goes Nothin'!

Some might call me a picky eater. I don't know what they're talking about. I love ALL kinds of fast food - McDonald's, Taco Bell, Panda Express, Portillo's, etc. I also love tons of different pasta shapes, pizza toppings (as long as it's meat and/or cheese), chocolate and breakfast cereal.

Okay, so MAYBE there's some truth behind the original statement. I could definitely benefit from some more color in my diet - and I don't mean a handful of M&Ms - although those sound amazing right about now. I'm talking, of course, about fruits and vegetables.

Now that Karin and I have started Whole 30, I will be forced to live outside my food comfort zone if I want to make it through the day without feeling hungry. But I'm going into this with an open mind - and a desire to acquaint myself with new foods. Who knows? I might even starting liking some of them by the time this is done! But not peas. Never peas.

For those who haven't heard of Whole30, it is a program that essentially asks you to cut out certain food groups (sugar, grains, dairy, legumes) that could be having a negative effect on your health without you knowing it due to preservatives and/or unnatural ingredients. Instead, the program wants you to eat only meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit and healthy nuts/oils/seeds - foods with very few (and easily pronounceable) ingredients. Do it for 30 days. Don't cheat. See and feel results.

The next 30 days are going to be rough for me - but hopefully only at first. I work in an office that offers endless free chips, soda, candy, monthly birthday donuts and the occasional Free Pizza Friday. These things have served as diet killers in the past. And (if I'm honest) are part of the reason that I've gained 75 pounds in the last four years.

Yesterday marked our first, official day of the program, and I'm already excited to see what Karin chooses to make for us to eat over this next month. For dinner last night we got to have chicken and spinach over spaghetti squash - it was really good! She also spent all day yesterday making breakfasts and lunches for the week - she's so prepared!

While I will do my best to eat my vegetables and try new things, I have a feeling that hard boiled eggs and meat will be the things I cling to the most. But I am promising to stick to this 100% for the entire 30 days, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what changes we'll see by the end of it. We've both weighed ourselves and taken measurements - but we can't check them again until after the 30 days are over. That's also going to be torture!

If you've done Whole30 before, I want to know how well it worked for you. Please share in the comments below! And check back often for more updates on our Whole30 journey!

meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds - See more at:
meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds - See more at:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Race Recap: Big Ten Network 10k (& 5k)

"Why did I ever stop running races?"

That is the question that plagued my mind the afternoon and days following the Big Ten Network 10k / 5k on Saturday the 25th. Despite setting a PW (personal worst) during this race by FAR, I still realized that I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the environment and overall ambiance of race day. Here's how things went:

My brother in-law, Eric, and I got up at 5am to drive to downtown Chicago for the race. We parked near Solider Field ($20 - always a bummer) which was very close to the course and the festivities, however. This was Eric's first race EVER, and he informed me that he hadn't slept very well the night before due to nerves - rookie move.

We got there early enough to watch the 10k start at 7:00am as well as watch the first finishers cross the line. I still can't get over how fast the elite runners knock these things out! We also had plenty of time to walk around the grounds and check out all the festivities that were offered.

There were football combine activities such as field goal kicking, a 40-yard dash and vertical leap; a dozen bags / cornhole sets were set up to use; and each school had their own tent set up with goodies. Since Eric doesn't much care for college sports and I am a Wisconsin Badger through and through, we visited the UW tent. They had Paul Bunyan's Axe on display - the annual trophy that is rewarded to the victor of the Wisconsin v. Minnesota football game, as well as the West Regional trophy the men's basketball team won by defeating Kentucky earlier this year. I wonder what the other tents had. They were probably handing out written apologies to their respective fan bases.

The school mascots were out in full force as well, except Illinois. I'm guessing the P.C. folks still frown upon Chief Illiniwek galloping in on his stallion or something. Even though little kids were scrambling to get photos with the mascots, I made sure to push my way through for a nice shot with Bucky Badger. Gotta throw up the W!


Finally it was time for the 5k to kick off and, as we were waiting for Corral C to make it to the Start Line, I repeated to Eric to just take off and leave me behind - since I knew there wasn't a chance that I was going to run the same pace as him. He'd been training for the last, few months and I'd put my running shoes on that morning (for the purpose of running) for the first time in a year or so (or at least it felt that way). I'd come to peace with the fact that this race was going to take potentially 50% longer than it ever has in the past, and that I just needed to gut it out and get it done.

Sure enough. The race took forever, and my feet / knees stopped wanting to work before anything else - they just were sick of shuffling this much weight around. And I don't blame 'em! It wasn't fun, but I finished - with a lousy time of 46:48. Woof. But definitely an eye-opener. I'm super proud of Eric, he knocked out his first 5k with a time of 30:26, after setting a goal of sub-31:00.

But even though I physically did not enjoy this race, it still made me want to get back into the swing of things. Eric quickly said he was already hooked, so hopefully he'll drag me along to more races. Time to look for the next one!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Feels Like the First Time

Do the 'Santa Hustle!'
The last time I pinned on a bib and ran jogged participated in an organized race was way back in December of 2012. I signed up and ran a 5k with a handful of co-workers as well as a multitude of Santa Claus look-alikes. It was  called the Santa Hustle - which actually sounds more like a dance that everyone does at a wedding reception or school dance than an organized, athletic event.

I can't believe that it's almost been three years since my last race. I'm kind of ashamed, to be honest. Between mid 2009 and late 2012, I cranked out four half marathons, a half dozen 10ks and plenty of 5ks.I could pick up and run four or five miles without thinking twice, and without being sore for five days afterwards. I wasn't necessarily skinny, but I was at a much more reasonable weight than I am now - at least a weight that allowed me to run 13.1 miles in under two and a half hours.

Tomorrow I will be running the Big Ten Network 5k (even though the picture says 10k). This time I will be running with my brother in-law! And I'm planning on it being much harder and painful than any one I've done before. To be honest, I'm actually in a worse place now (physically) than I was when I initially picked up running in order to lose weight six and a half years ago... Eric, on the other hand, has killed it in training and lost 20-25 pounds! This will be his first 5k ever, and he will smoke me.

Here's to hoping this race is the eye-opener I need to get my rear in gear, and that Eric gets hooked on 5ks and asks me to sign up for another one later this year. Leading up to the race, I've made excuse after excuse as to why I "couldn't" go to the gym or head out for a run in preparation for tomorrow.

And tomorrow I get to pay for those excuses.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Father's Promise

Dear Evangeline,

It will be a while until you start to understand the world you live in - the words you're hearing, the foods you're tasting, the place you live, the faces you see. As of today, you're only eleven weeks old, and have a lot of growing to do. And it's going to be a long time until you understand the promise I'm making you today.

In order for me to be able to experience every, future milestone in your life with you, I need to make some changes in my life now. (And since it seems like you may be getting your height from the Huenink side, I may need to be around to teach you how to shoot a jump-shot!) By the time you read this letter, those changes will have been key in me becoming a fit, healthy dad who is going to be in your life for a long time.

                                                      Daddy does too much sitting around on the couch!

Today, my favorite thing about you is how you try so hard to imitate the faces and noises that mommy and I make at you. You stick your tongue out, furrow your eyebrows and blow bubbles every time you try to attempt to blow a raspberry. Look how adorable you are!


You've been such a happy, smiley baby for us so far - I'm looking forward to seeing that smile for decades to come - especially when it finally has teeth in it! 

So even though you may never read this, I still wanted to make this promise to you. One that I'm planning on making good on - no matter how hard the road is, and no matter how long it takes.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Father's #RealStrength

As I mentioned in my last post, this was my first year celebrating Father's Day with my wife and daughter. Not only was it a day that I was shown an extra measure of love and affection from friends and family, it also is now established as another day I get to open presents!

For my first Fathers Day I received a classic dad gift - a "multi-tool." I received the one shown below, but in silver instead of black. I also received a hilarious book titled "Your Baby's First Word Will Be 'Dada'" written by Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon!

Little did I know, those wouldn't be the only gifts I'd be receiving as a new dad. Four days prior to Fathers Day I was contacted on Twitter by the folks at Dove Men+Care in response to my blog post about Evie's birth. "This is pretty random," I thought to myself.

The folks at Dove then asked me for my address so they could "share something" with me. So I blindly gave them the address of our apartment - what could go wrong? - and just the other day I received all of this:


Don't mind if I do! I've used their shampoo in the past, but none of the products they sent me. And how about that sweet tote bag? They also sent me a hand-written postcard that came with the care package which mentioned their hashtag #RealStrength.

On their website they reference #RealStrength in regards to fatherhood - "Care makes a man stronger." It features user-submitted photos of dads with their kids as well as advice pulled from Twitter using their hashtag. Advice about thoroughly documenting everything as your kid grows up, get involved in their lives, making sure to set aside twice as much time for errands if the kid comes along, etc.

But after scouring through almost a month's worth of #RealStrength tweets on Twitter, I only found a couple like this:


Sure, a lot of the advice given by dads everywhere is very helpful and insightful in practically raising a child, but it's unfortunate that the majority of dads are looking in the wrong places for their strength - celebrities, self-help books or hashtags on Twitter - rather than looking than looking to the Lord for true strength.

                        Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline 
                                                  and instruction of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4

                           In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children 
                                                    will have a refuge. - Proverbs 14:26

                         The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold
                                                    in the time of trouble. - Psalm 37:39