Saturday, April 26, 2014

Connor Bottling and Squamscot Beverages

A few days ago we took our grandson on a short ride to Newfields, NH to visit the Connor Bottling company where the make Squamscot Beverages, a wide variety of flavored carbonated soda.

Their website tells us this local business has been run by five generations of the Connor family since the Civil War. They are still in the same building, with very few structural changes.  In 1863 they got their start by producing a spruce beer, which came in returnable bottles. (Remember them?)

During prohibition, Squamscot Gingerale became the outstanding drink in New England.  Growing the bottling works to nearly 26,000 cases and 14 flavors in 1930.  In 1938, they purchased their first bottling machine and named it Dixie.  She is still in the same place she was installed and is still cranking out product. From there, they never looked back and today produce 27 different flavors!

We got to see Dixie in action.  She has lost a little of her edge and sparkle, but she still makes a splash was still fun to watch. as you will see in the video.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Back Pain, Diets, and a New Blog

In January, I went back to the gym and within a week, my back started acting up. I have had sporadic chronic back pain, but my chiropractor, Dr. Callahan, was a magician and was always able to resolve issues when they cropped up, but this was different.  The pain was different, it was more intense and when I stood up, it just got progressively worse.  After three sessions, two more than usually needed, I decided to see a spinal specialist.  It turns out my past caught up to me.

You might say I over taxed my body.  In high school, I wrestled in the 115 pound weight class. In my senior year, I entered the AAU's, the 1960's version of the Olympic trials. Part of my prep was practicing bridging.  I used to do it with our heavyweight (250 lbs) sitting on my chest.

In college, I wrestled at 123 pounds at a Division I school.  When we wrestled other Division 1 schools, most of the time it was against state it was against a state champion. Being in the lowest weight class, I the competition was tougher, because high school wrestlers from 98, 106, and 115 were vying for the spot. That meant even when I wrestled a Division II school, I often met state champs.  That resulted in more injuries.  My nickname was Johnson & Johnson.

After college, I coached wrestling and as part of my team building it wasn't unusual for me to wrestle everyone on the varsity squad from 130 lb. on up through heavyweight.  While remaining relatively injury free during coaching, it still took it's toll.

All this is leading up to the obvious medical conclusion as shown on my X-Rays.  I had degenerative disc disease and arthritis in the upper and lower back.  Dr. Ahn, the neuro-spinal specialist prescribed an anti-inflammatory and eight weeks of physical therapy.  He felt that would do the trick and I would be fine as long as I kept it up.

The PT began improving my situation right from the first visit.  I'm going to Access Sports Therapy here in Raymond, NH, and the really know their stuff. On April 1, I had my very first pain free day since the beginning of January, and that's no April Fools joke! 

I also resolved to do all that I could to get better, because sitting on my ass for 14 hours a day was not the quality of life I was seeking. In March, I decided to start a diet to get rid about about 15-20 pounds of belly fat that was not doing my lower back any good.  It's a low carb diet, though not an aggressive one.  For me it was about cutting out processed flour and sugar, junk foods, pastries, and soft drinks.  I'm limiting my carbs to 100g a day.  By doing that, without even counting, my calorie count has DRASTICALLY fallen. The diet is just a few days short of a month long and I have lost 7 pounds!

After a few weeks, I decided to start blogging about the diet to share experiences and recipes.  I considered doing it here, because some of the entries were appropriate for this blog, but I didn't want TLRR to have a narrow focus or become a diet blog.  In line with the low carb diet and my effort to spread the word, I settled on the name of Art's Carb-Orator .   

After a month of dieting, I can truthfully say, I am eating healthier than I have ever eaten and feel better than I have in years.  The 100g of carbs a day isn't a starvation diet and I do have hunger pangs once in a while, especially late at night.  However, the results make it well worthwhile, and once I reach my goal weight, I will begin to quest for the carb level needed to maintain my weight. Based on what I'm seeing now, even a 200g a day diet will keep me well under 2000 calories a day, which I know will maintain my weight.

It's really fun looking for and tweaking recipes for my favorite dishes.  I've had stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikash, and even brownies, and peanut butter cookies.  If  you have a few extra pounds to shed, check it out.