Friday, August 28, 2009

Wollersheim Winery Tour Pictures

All the wine-speak in my previous post made me want to post some pictures from my recent tour at Wollersheim Winery in Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin. If you haven't tried their wines, you must! They are affordable and delicious (I recommend the prairie fume) and I have an unusual amount of pride in any great product that comes from Wisconsin, especially if it is beer, wine, dairy products of all sorts, bratwurst, cranberries, honey, or any other agricultural product that we just rock at producing. Mmmm food. So, as I sip on some tasty wine, let me show you some pictures from our tour!

Barrels of tasty wine in the wine cellar.

Here I am participating in the wine tasting. The tour claims you only get three samples...I got UNLIMITED samples. Yum!

The beautiful grounds at the winery. This is the building that the aging cellars (pictured above) are in. Absolutely beautiful...

I didn't even know places this beautiful existed in Wisconsin. What's a winery without grapes? Wollersheim only grows about 10% of the grapes required for their wine making on-site. Hardly looks like Wisconsin, at all...I felt like I was in Italy or California!

Wine and Weight Loss

As those who are close to me know, I have recently lost a pretty significant amount of weight. While my appearance was a motivator for the change of diet and lifestyle, I was also motivated by the fact that many of my relatives have health issues associated with being overweight.

My initial path to weight loss was the Weight Watchers program, which I can't recommend enough. This diet's emphasis on low-fat, high-fiber foods mixed with the concept of accountability helped me achieve a total weight loss of over 30 pounds. However, some of my favorite consumables include beer and wine, and there is no weight loss plan in the world that would allow me to freely imbibe in my favorite beverages.

If consumption of wine and beer is so bad for you, then why do my francophone friends have diets high in fat and carbohydrates, smoke a pack a day, and drink glasses of wine with every meal, yet have thinner waist lines and longer life spans?

Common sense would dictate that the French are thinner and more healthy despite their dietary and overall lifestyle choices because Europeans are far more inclined to walk or bike to their destinations. However, research indicates that red wine contains an ingredient called resveratrol, which is proven to aid in weight loss. While it would take a shit ton of red wine in one sitting to provide enough resveratrol to have any measurable weight-loss effects, a lifetime of having small amounts of red wine (like our French friends) could possibly provide enough to allow our European neighbors to be less discerning about what they eat, while maintaining a great physique.

Well, this week, I decided experiment and drank a four-ounce glass of red wine with every lunch and dinner that I consumed at home (for some reason, I don't think the cinema would like me bringing a canteen of merlot to work with me...) and see what kind of effect it would have on my weight loss. Quelle surprise! Over the last eight months, I have averaged a loss of one to two pounds a week, and the week I drank red wine with every meal, I lost a whopping 3.5 pounds. While it might have just been a good weight loss week for me, I would like to continue my experiment by continuing to consume copious amounts of red wine.

Friday, August 7, 2009

R.I.P. Hans

This Wednesday, August 5th, I lost one of my best friends with whom I shared many of my greatest memories and best character-building moments. Hans, my 13 year old dalmatian, passed away after a brief illness. While I am sad that he is no longer with me, I am happy to reflect on the ways that he touched my life and made me in to the person I am today.

Like my mother said shortly before the good old dog passed, Hans taught me the invaluable lesson of how being patient and persistent has the potential of yielding great rewards.

An avid participant in the 4-H dog project, I spent many frustrated training sessions embarrassed by Hans' misbehavior which included any combination of barking, humping, pooping, running away, tugging and jumping. Imagine how ashamed my 12 year old self was upon being asked to leave a training session because my dog was being too rowdy. These dogs were at obedience training solely because they lacked training, and my dog went above and beyond any level of normal misbehavior (other than being mean, he never growled or bit anybody or any dog EVER) and got himself kicked out of a training session. However, I recognized the challenge and continued to train Hans, despite the negative experiences that occurred week after week.

Slowly, Hans began to learn. Through practicing every day, I taught him several commands including off-leash obedience. It was very rewarding to take such a unruly dog and turn him into a little gentleman.

Soon, the big dog show approached. To my astonishment, Hans put on his game face and was the portrait of an obedient dog. He perfectly listened to every command and impressed both those who knew his disobedient past and those who were seeing him perform for the first time.

When the results of the show were announced, I received an award especially given to the human student who had the best attitude despite having some of the worst experiences week after week. I was and continue to be impressed that the program recognized my struggles so positively. Generally, the people who receive this award have no chance of getting any other recognition at the dog show because their dogs perform so poorly. However, imagine my astonishment when I was also awarded a first place trophy for high point. Hans didn't only receive a first place award, but had the closest thing to a perfect score out of every dog there! The awards portion of the show literally showed how he had gone from being the worst dog ever to the best dog in attendance in seven short months of obedience training.

Well, in my opinion, Hans was always the best dog ever from the day he was born until the day he went to doggy heaven. Thanks for teaching me so many lessons and being my best friend, Hans!