Touring an Olive Oil Farm in Paso Robles

California’s Central Coast is rife with wineries. But for those of us who are not fans of wine, there are still unique ways to learn about food and beverages manufactured and grown in the central Coast.

Friday, as part of a team building experience we made our way to Kiler Ridge Olive Farm. It was a great learning session, both about the state of the country’s olive oil industry, California’s olive oil farms.

I look forward to returning to Kiler Ridge, perhaps during their harvest season, said to be in November, to see some of the processing in action.

Oh, and to pick up some of that delicious Olive Oil.

Kiler Ridge Olive Oil Orchard and Processing

Kiler Ridge Oilve Oil processing tour

Kiler Ridge Settling and Storage Tank

Kiler Ridge Bottling Line

Kiler Ridge Olive Oil Tasting

Kiler Ridge Olive Orchard Patio Sunset

Hunger versus comfort: How I lost 45 pounds in three months.

This is a short story of how I lost 45 pounds in three months

Hunger, for most of us in the U.S. isn’t a real feeling – or at least few of us can readily say we ever really felt hunger. Comfort – or the lack thereof – would be the closest thing to hunger most of us has ever felt.

When it came to food, I was always very comfortable feeling full. When I didn’t feel comfortably full anymore, I’d eat to feel more comfortable – even if it was sometimes an uncomfortable amount of food. When a craving popped up on my radar, I comfortably indulged.

I just so happened that comfort began clashing with discomfort, setting off alerts in my brain.

My father, nearing is late 50s, suffered a heart attack in 2010. He had a stent placed in his artery and has since mostly recovered. It changed his entire life, and ours. That was uncomfortable.

Stress levels surged with new responsibilities and I often consoled myself with comforting food.
Then the holidays approached with comfort food. Pictures were taken at the festive occasions. That was uncomfortable in front of the camera.

Sometimes my wife would nudge me awake at night when a unwitting snoring session kept her awake. That was uncomfortable.

I saw a picture of myself with my wife after hiking on New Year’s day. Everyone said it was a cute couple photo. It made me uncomfortable to see myself.

When I turned 30 at the end of 2010, I was heavier than I had ever been in my life.

That made me uncomfortable.

All of this discomfort led to me tipping point for change. I pledged when i turned 30 to change my eating habits, my activity habits and improve my self-image.

It all started for me, when I made it a game.

I like to play games. Really, I like to play any kind of game. Board games, videogames, word games are all right up my alley. They make my brain work hard and help improve my memory and thought processes.  So I took the only method that put me in control.

I counted.

By figuring out my basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories it takes my body to maintain itself) I calculated how many calories I would need to consume in order to lose weight at a healthy rate. Since January 3 I have not put a single piece of food in my mouth without being cognizant of the caloric value.

This worked like a game for me. I had an account of calories I could spend and I needed to stay within limits. The plus side being that I could always consume more – as long as I exercised.

By limiting my calories, but not my food types I gravitated to natural food selection. Because, like it or not, an apple is a lot more filling that a quarter of a candy bar or bag of chips – and drastically fewer calories.

I ate vegetables, fruits whole grains and less processed foods because, again, fewer calories. My food prep took less time because I used simpler ingredients and cooked much less.

This food limitation also drastically reduced my serving size. Those extra large portions and fried foods disappeared from my regular food.

I also began moving my body. I’ve struggled in the past with excuses saying it is difficult to find time. But just like saving money, making time isn’t automatic. Unless I decided to make time to exercise – it would never just present itself to me. Lost time can never be found.

From January 3 through March 31 I ran, walked and elliptical’d my way through over 250 miles, using GPS to log my miles.

Since January 3 I’ve never eaten more than my daily goal of calories. If I ever got close, I would go for an evening walk/jog. And yes, I have gone out to dinner. I’ve even had a cheeseburger.

From January 3 through March 31 I lost 45 pounds. It melted off in sheets at first but then stick to a steady and healthy 2 pounds per week over the past 10 weeks.

From six years ago (when I was last tested) until this year’s free biometric health screening program showed my weight loss efforts have transformed my  borderline high cholesterol levels to ideal levels – in every category.

My wife has also benefited, even if it is merely secondhand. Due to my usual meal planning and cooking (as I’ve done since we got married) she ate less too. She also joined me in an occasional walk or abdominal workout.  She was down a belt notch this week.

I still have four weeks to go in my employer’s weight loss competition and I feel great. I’m currently about 5 pounds away from losing 20 percent of my total body weight. I’m more comfortable in my own skin.

My overall weight goal may take six more months to achieve, but when I get there I know that I will then know my hard work has been for something worthwhile. I will know that I’m not doing this for a competition. I’m doing it for my future and my family’s future.

I’m doing it for health, and comfort.