A six-month anniversary to being healthy

Yesterday marked a special milestone that I am very proud of. It has been exactly 180 days/six months since I last had soda. January 31st was the last time I drank a can of Mountain Dew.

 

Why did I cut soda? Well, the obvious answer is because soda is bad and I want to avoid it. However, something happened that inspired me to quit drinking soda.

 

During the 2013 fall semester at the University of Kansas, I had a crazy schedule.

 

There are certain classes students are required to take if they want to graduate. However, as some current and former college students know, some classes are offered at only one specific time in a semester. What makes it tough is the fact that the required class is in the middle of the day.

 

This was the case for me with multiple classes on different days during the fall 2013 semester. I always try to schedule my classes in the morning, that way I could study, work and relax the rest of the day.

 

During that semester, I had classes scattered throughout different times of the morning and the afternoon. Due to bad scheduling and what I had going on with student media that semester (I remained active with radio, television and the newspaper), I was only able to make it to the gym once or twice per week.

 

My semester ended on Dec. 18 and I left Lawrence to go home in Kansas City for Christmas break. For an early Christmas gift, my parents got me a 30-day membership, allowing me to workout at a gym while on break.

 

Losing weight had been a goal of mine for a long time. I didn’t take good care of my body in high school and early in college. I knew graduation was coming up soon at that time and I wanted my graduation pictures to look good. This was a golden opportunity to finally be serious about that goal. Outside of writing and announcing a couple of basketball games, I did not have any serious priorities during winter break.

 

Why not take that time to hit the gym and tackle the weight loss? I successfully did so.

 

I drank soda and chocolate only a handful of times from December 18 through January 22, when school resumed. Even though I did not go to the gym on Christmas nor New Year’s Day, I still did some low key workouts at home. A friend of mine, Mary, is a certified gym trainer and she introduced me to Juan’s 30-Day Ab-Challenge, created by her friend, Juan. I completed the extremely easy grueling and unpleasant ab-challenge.

 

The results after Christmas break? Check out this picture.

 

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The photo on the left was taken in the summer of 2013, but my body was in that shape all the way through December 18. The photo on the right was taken on January 22.

 

While standing at 215 lbs, I saw my weight go down slowly. My goal was to be under 200 lbs by February 1st.

 

I weighed myself on January 30th. I didn’t want to wait for February. I was nervous, because I wanted to reach my goal two days sooner. I stepped on the scale early in the morning, and I was never more thrilled to see the numbers 199.8 appear on the scale.

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I lost 15 lbs in six weeks and reached my goal two days sooner.

 

Since then, I’ve been strongly consistent with working out. It also helped my schedule was less hectic in the final semester of my college career.

 

Since that day, I have never been 200 lbs or more. Even though a knee injury has kept me away from the gym the past three weeks, I made extra sure I was eating healthier than ever to be sure that I maintain my weight of 195 lbs. (My goal was to be under 190 this month, but due to my knee injury, I’ll have to redo this goal for next month. Coincidentally, I’m seeing a doctor today and hope to return to working out.)

 

If I can do it, SO CAN YOU. It requires one thing; mental strength.

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Consistency was the key to eliminating a big belly.

 

1. Cut out junk food – You can enjoy an occasional soda or cupcake, but make this a rare occasion. If you want to completely eliminate both forever and you’re okay with it, then go for it.

2. Be consistent for BOTH working out and eating – I always wondered why I was never losing weight. It was because of my inconsistency.

3. Be patient – You won’t lose 15 lbs in a week. In fact, if you eat healthy and work out consistently, it’s likely you only lose anywhere from 2-to-3 lbs per week. Don’t stress if you don’t see a major difference within a week or two. It doesn’t happen like that.

 

Losing weight was a gratifying accomplishment for me. I have been eating smarter since then. In addition, as weird as this may sound, because of the smart eating, I feel smarter and far more confident in life overall.

 

Like I said before, if I am able to do what I thought was insurmountable, you can too. Good luck, and I hope my advice helps you!

Overhype misleads many NFL fans

Tom Brady was only a hot topic of discussion in training camp in 2008 when dealing with a nagging knee injury. In 2009, he was talked about a lot because of his return. Outside of that, Brady has never been a household name during training camp.

Tom Brady was only a hot topic of discussion in training camp in 2008 when dealing with a nagging knee injury. In 2009, he was talked about a lot because of his return. Outside of that, Brady has never been a household name during training camp.

Training camp is fully underway for all 32 NFL teams, and football fans are always ecstatic this time of the year. One of the many treats about training camp is that fans are given access to attend certain practices and watch some of the grueling position battles.

 

Following practices, eager fans wait in line with memorabilia either worn or in their hands in hopes of having some of their favorite players sign it. Most teams hold training camp in an area where fans have to deal with the sweltering heat for hours before getting those autographs, and those players reward those fans, giving them something to smile about when they make the long drive back home.

It is safe to say Peyton Manning is the most popular player at Broncos training camp.

It is safe to say Peyton Manning is the most popular player at Broncos training camp.

It is a special time for fans because they know the preseason is coming soon and the regular season is just around the corner. But there is something that I have always disliked about training camp.

 

Before I say what that is, I want to explain why I feel this way and the perspective I am coming from.

 

As much as I am a fan, I am also a sports journalist, so I tend to be objective. More importantly, even though I love my Kansas City Chiefs, I am a realist. When a team is struggling, some fans have the notion that they should still be positive and supportive of their team. That is okay. Some fans believe that a team should rightfully be criticized when things get ugly. I fall in the latter, after all, if someone is being paid millions of dollars to underperform, fans have every right to form a negative opinion, as long as they truly believe in that opinion and can back it up with facts.

 

With that said, I want to go back to my “beef” with training camp.

 

I feel like the activity on the field in training camp is blown out of proportion. Some players get way too much hype.

 

I read tweets from fans and reporters as well as media reports on how a player, who not many people knew of before, made an electrifying play in camp.

 

Keep in mind, this player made that glorifying play against some unheralded backups. And those backups are likely to get cut. Their chances of making the 53-man roster are very slim.

 

When I hear a certain player makes a magnificent play in training camp, especially when it is against second, third or fourth stringers, I take it with a grain of salt.

Eagles Camp Football

Eagles fans look on during Eagles training camp.

Don’t get me wrong. When that player makes a nice play, it serves them well in the eyes of the coaches. At the same time, I’m sure those coaches know that one jaw dropping play won’t promise them a spot on the 53-man roster and that the flash needs to turn into consistency. That unknown playmaker will strengthen his chances of making the team, and he will soon become known to the fans.

 

If a player makes that big play in the preseason games against a first-string player, then the hype is for real.

 

As a Chiefs fan, I want to use one example. Bobby Sippio.

 

Sippio was an all-star wide receiver in the Arena Football League for the Chicago Rush. He won an ArenaBowl with the Chicago Rush and was named first-team All-Arena in 2007. Later that year, Sippio gave the NFL a second chance when he signed with the Chiefs.

 

The same year, HBO brought back its popular NFL training camp show, Hard Knocks. Hard Knocks goes in depth with one NFL team and its training camp and preseason moments with some special behind the scenes activity that not even the local media can capture.

 

When the Chiefs were on Hard Knocks in 2007, Sippio was highlighted and became the star of the show. Through good editing, Sippio looked like a 10-time Pro Bowler. His activity in training camp was great, but he only made the highlight reel when he faced backups who got cut.

 

He made the team in 2007, but saw very minimal action. In 2008, he scored two touchdowns in four preseason games, but they all occurred late in the games when teams are already using backups who are unlikely to make the team.

Bobby Sippio scores a touchdown in Week 4 of the 2008 preseason against the Rams. This was his last time wearing a Chiefs uniform.

Bobby Sippio scores a touchdown in Week 4 of the 2008 preseason against the Rams. This was his last time wearing a Chiefs uniform.

When the Chiefs worked on their 53-man roster, Sippio was an unfortunate casualty.

 

Point being: the hype is overdone. The media will publically note a player’s big play, but fans take that out of context and take it as if he’s secured a spot on the team.

 

When it comes to training camp, these are the things I look for:

1. How coaches are getting the team ready

2. How certain players are doing while trying to bounce back from a recent injury

3. Whether or not players are missing repetitions because of injury

4. Position battles as those are always big

5. What I said earlier, if an unfamiliar player is building his way up

 

I understand not everyone has the mindset I have when it comes to sports, and that’s perfectly okay.

 

When I covered KU football for student media at the University of Kansas, I didn’t make a big deal when sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart dominated KU’s defense in the 2014 Spring Game. But many KU hopefuls think Cozart has the secret to making KU competitive just because of one glorifying scrimmage. As much as I love my alma mater and hope I am wrong, KU fans are in for a big disappointment (and will want to hit the fast forward button to basketball season.)

 

Keep in mind, training camp is a fun time for football fanatics, but don’t overhype everything. The real hype begins in Week 1 of the regular season.

The big question with The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Volume 21

I have been waiting patiently for this day; The Walking Dead Volume 21 is out in stores! You can find me at Barnes and Noble at 9 a.m. in line for this book. Anyone who knows of me knows I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead. Last summer, I got into The Walking Dead, watching Seasons 1, 2 and 3 on Netflix within a week. Let’s just say I sacrificed some sleep that week due to the intensity of that show.

 

I thoroughly enjoy the story in The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman, who writes the graphic novel, does a phenomenal job with the storytelling in The Walking Dead. He got enough attention for his work that a television show was created on AMC. Due to the popularity of the show, Telltale games teamed up with Kirkman to create The Walking Dead game for video game consoles and mobile devices. (If you have an iOS device, I strongly suggest it. Worth it!)

 

I am familiar with the television series, graphic novel and video game. Although some of the characters and storylines differ from one another, all three versions of The Walking Dead are entertaining and unique in their own way.

 

For those who are not familiar with The Walking Dead, I’ll give you a brief introduction of the graphic novel and television show. (The video game consists of completely different characters.)

 

Rick, a small-town sheriff in Georgia, is shot after a high-speed chase. He is sent to a nearby hospital and is in a coma for two-and-a-half weeks. When he wakes up, he discovers that he is the only person in the hospital. The zombies he sees inside the hospital frighten him. The zombies chase any humans and will use their sharp teeth to bite the living. Those people then turn to zombies. He runs home to find his wife and son. Although they are nowhere to be found inside their home, Rick believes they are alive and safe when he realizes they took clothes, food and even photo albums from their house. Rick comes across a man in his neighborhood, Morgan, and tells him he just woke up from a coma, unaware of what happened. Morgan eventually informs Rick of the epidemic as the two, along with Morgan’s son, look for weapons that could help them survive. Rick leaves Morgan and his son when learns of a rumor that the CDC has set up a quarantined safe-zone in Atlanta. Rick’s only reason for going to Atlanta is the hope that his wife and son are at the safe-zone. He doesn’t find his family in downtown Atlanta, but he meets a group working to survive and escape the zombie herd in the area.

 

Beyond that, the story picks up and I want to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t seen the show.

Andrew Lincoln stars as Rick Grimes. Here he is in a bizarre opening scene of The Walking Dead.

Andrew Lincoln stars as Rick Grimes. Here he is in The Walking Dead’s bizarre opening scene.

The show is not necessarily about zombies, but more so how Rick and other characters act while they try to survive with limited food and water. The main point of The Walking Dead: survival. More than half of the population is gone. Many humans have turned into dangerous zombies and the very few people who are alive work tirelessly to avoid death.

 

This summer, my brother and I spent time reading the graphic novel. We caught up on all 20 volumes and are excited for the 21st volume. Some of the characters and storylines in the graphic novel and television show are similar. Some of the major events and deaths happen in a different order. Some people who are killed on the show are still alive in the comic book, and vice versa.

 

Those who closely follow the graphic novel usually know what to expect on the show. But the show still adds its own twists, creating unpredictability. For example, the location where Rick is right now on the show at the end of Season 4 and Season 5 (without giving away spoilers) does not exist in the graphic novel.

 

The television series has taken ideas from the graphic novel and the video game has also been inspired by events from both the show and book.

 

When I watch the show, I always ask myself the question that all of you The Walking Dead fans have pondered: how in the world will this story end? Does everyone die? Is there a special, magical cure to restore the world? Do they just endlessly fight to survive?

 

I believe that every show, book, video game and any other facet of storytelling has a beginning and an ending planned out before the writing process of the story begins. The writers might come up with ideas along the way, but they should know how their own story ends before they begin writing.

 

The Last Of Us, which came out last summer, is a one of the most popular video games that relates to the zombie apocalypse. World War Z is a book about the zombie war written by Max Brooks in 2006, which turned into a hit film in 2013 starring Brad Pitt. Both The Last Of Us and World War Z (the movie) are great, but I was expecting an explosive ending in both of those, which we never got.

If you like The Walking Dead as much as I do, you will enjoy The Last Of Us.

If you like The Walking Dead as much as I do, you will enjoy The Last Of Us.

In addition to how much I enjoy it, part of the reason I read the graphic novel is because I want to see how the story ends since the graphic novel is way ahead of the show. The events in the book probably won’t appear on television for a couple of years. Of course, some of the events we see in the book will be different on the show, but the main concept will likely remain the same.

 

My mom and I have debated how we think the show will end. She believes Rick will wake up from a dream, and perhaps still be in a coma after being shot. To me, this would be a disappointing ending, as it would appear that the show would copy Lost. I only watched the first two seasons of Lost, but I am aware of how the show ended.

 

While I enjoy reading the new released volume of The Walking Dead today, I will always continue to explore the question of how the story will conclude. For now, all we can do is appreciate the well-told story and trust Kirkman that he will build an unforgettable ending.