Monday, July 28, 2014

Operation Find My Abs: Day 1

Day 1: 184.0 pounds
Here we go...
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In writing this blog and sharing the pictures, I expect some snarky comments, eye rolling, and other negative vibes from some people. But I'm not doing this for them.  I'm doing this for me, and I'm sharing my story for those who want to read it.

Earlier this year I declared 2014 "The Year of the Abs."  It's now late July and I am no closer to finding mine than OJ is to finding the real killer.  Recently, my buddy Chad sent me a message challenging me.  I like the idea of having an "Operation Find My Abs" Challenge.  We're both middle age and a little crazy (wrestling fans will get that), so here we are.

Me and my BowFlex

I don't expect to get ripped and look like someone from the pages of Muscle and Fitness magazine.  But it's my hope to have some definable abs, loss the love handles, and build up my pecs.  I'm running more and increasing my workouts with DDP Yoga.  I've also dusted off my BowFlex and plan to start a regular workout program.
One last treat
For me the hardest thing is going to be watching what I eat.  I've always read the first step to finding your abs is in the kitchen.  I have a big sweet tooth.  I've recently cut back sweets to just the weekends.  But starting now, I will eliminate them totally, at least for this initial phase of the program and then I'll have them sparingly on a cheat day.  Last night was my first and last Chocodile for a long time.

I hope that by going public with this, I'll take it more serious. I've said hundreds of times, I'm going to do this to myself, but never got very far.  

The other reason I'm doing this is to hopefully inspire some others along the way.  I'm not a fitness or nutrition expert.  I'm a 41 year old husband and father who is still not 100% positive this is going to work.  Part of me thinks I'm too old to transform my body, while the other part of me is worried I'm biting off more than I can chew.  
My first half-marathon back in February
If you want to join us on the journey, please do.  We can all support each other along the way and if you've already found your abs, feel free to share advice.  It's not going to be easy, but I'm determined that now is the time to make this happen.  Thanks for the support.

Chad's Story:

Chad's before pics
Sixteen months ago, I wrote a blog about trying to get in shape. In typical fashion, shortly after the blog was posted I stopped doing anything type of workout. I blamed it on the annual Geek Week traveling and not having the time. Honestly though it was because I was lazy.  It was easier to sit around watching TV eating fast food then it was to exercise and go to the grocery store to buy healthier food.

During the past year of inactivity I managed to undo any positive steps I’d taken during the six-seven weeks of working out last year. I was back to almost 200 pounds, which wouldn’t have been that bad had it been 200 pounds of muscle. In May I started telling myself it was time to cut the excuses and get back to trying to get in shape. Kevin has been talking about #OperationFindMyAbs for a while and I started using that as my motivation.

This time would be different. I wouldn’t accept defeat and was more committed to an overall lifestyle change. Last year I was doing DDPYoga but fast food was still the main part of my diet.  Not this time. If I was going to do this, it had to be serious.

While I started prepping for the restart back in May, due to trips to Philadelphia over Memorial Day weekend and a trip to Dallas a week and a half later, I decided to wait until I was back in LA to start the search.  I consider June 9 to be the official first day of changing my life.

Surprisingly for me, I have managed to continue to stick with the workouts and healthier eating to about a 90% success rate. This past week has been an off week due to severe sunburn that caused pain when I moved my shoulders. Even without doing DDPYoga this week, I continued to be active. I have a daily goal of taking at least 10,000 steps and walking at least 5 miles.

Before I changed my eating habits, I thought it would be harder than it’s been. I don’t cook. That’s the main reason I relied heavily on fast food as my source of nourishment. I’ve managed to start doing some basically cooking, but most of my meals are prepackaged salads or frozen meals which can either be quickly microwaved or thrown in a skillet for a few minutes.  While technically not as bad as fast food, I know these aren’t the healthiest options either and need to start to actually cook. Seriously, have you ever looked at the sodium content of a lot of prepackaged food? It’s ridiculous.

It’s been six weeks since I started this phase of working out and so far I’ve managed to lose 21 pounds. Still trying to figure out how to lose the stubborn belly fat and find my abs. Even if I don’t get the six-pack, at least I’ve made positive changes that I can see the results. That’s good enough for me.

As Kevin stated, if anyone reading this wants to join us on this trip, we’d like you to come along and have a circle of encouragement.

*The pictures included in this blog are from 2013 when I started working out. Wanted to represent where I was at the beginning. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spoiler Alert: Why Be Spoiled

Some of the new Star Wars characters
Photo Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

This past weekend (July 26 to be exact) I attended the San Diego Comic-Con for the fifth time. Originally I wasn’t going to go, but changed my mind on Saturday morning, found someone selling a pass on Craigslist and decided to make the, what was supposed to be, two hour drive from Hollywood to San Diego. Part of my decision to go was based on friends being down there since opening night and posting pictures on Facebook. Friends that I didn’t tell I was coming nor tell them I was there until after I had left. 

Part of the reason for not telling anyone I was at Comic-Con was I figured they would be sitting in panels and I was only interested in walking around the main floor seeing the displays and picking up some free swag. I have never been big on the panels. Maybe it’s due to living in Hollywood where on a monthly basis there are film screenings with actor/director Q&As so standing in line for hours on end (people camp out overnight in order to get into Hall H) just to hear an actor/director talk positively (seriously, has any actor while promoting a film ever said the movie sucks, making the movie sucked, or the co-stars are horrible people?) about a film doesn’t sound like time well spent. Add in the fact 90% of the panels will be up on YouTube either legally or not within minutes of the panel being finished so again, why spend hours to watch something you can view on your own time? 

Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
Some Comic-Con attendees will say the chance to see “exclusive” footage of films months in advance is a draw for attending the panels. This makes even less sense to me. First off, some panels in the past have shown the first 10 minutes, or scenes from upcoming films. I, speaking from a strictly personal perspective, don’t want to see 10 minutes of a film. I want to see the entire film. I will wait 6-12 months too see a film in its entirety instead of being teased with a small portion and then having to wait to see what happens next. 

When I got home from Comic-Con there were postings on Facebook of a scene from Superman vs. Batman. I didn’t watch the clip. I think it showed Wonder Woman, if I remember the description on the clip correctly. Again, to me, why would I want to have part of a film spoiled before seeing the film? 

More new Star Wars characters
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
A month or two ago, Kevin posted an article on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page regarding Star Wars: Episode 7. I used to be a HUGE Star Wars fan. I have a tattoo of Han Solo on a tauntaun, so it’s fair to question my judgment. The prequels kind of killed my Star Wars fandom, but I’m still interested in seeing the story being told in Episodes 7-9. However, I don’t want to know everything about the movie before I walk into the theater. That’s something I don’t understand about today’s 
entertainment society. 

With all the entertainment news websites and all the “Cons” throughout the year there is so much information being passed out on a daily basis if one wanted to know every detail about a movie, pressing a few keys and a couple mouse clicks and there’s really no reason to go to the movies anymore. My question is, why? 

Boba Fett
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
Why would you want to know if Boba Fett is going to make an appearance in Episode 7? Why would you want to know what Avengers villain would show up at the end of Avengers 2 to set up Avengers 3? 

If you know what’s going to happen, where’s the sense of wonder and just going along for the ride? If you read a book do you turn to the last page to see what happens before starting the story? I know I’m probably in the minority and some may claim the spoilers add to the excitement and anticipation they feel for a film. 

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Buzz on Sting

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For years now, many wrestling fans have waited eagerly for Sting to sign on the dotted line and join WWE.  Now that it's actually happened the question is, will the former WCW and TNA heavyweight champion step into the ring?  It's my hope that he has at least a couple of matches in WWE, gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, and calls it a career.

Obviously this didn't happen...
But who should the Stinger do battle with?  For me, it raises more questions than answers.  Do you bring in a legend like Sting and have him put over the younger talent?  Should he face equally great legends and let the cards fall where they may?  The speculation for last couple of years was that Sting and Undertaker would rumble at Wrestlemania.  Now that The Streak is over, talk ramped up even more, but with Undertaker's health status unknown, I'm not sure it'll ever happen.

The face of WWE
Photo courtesy: WWE
If WWE is looking for a big blockbuster match and create that "Wrestlemania Moment", I'd say as of right now, (July 25, 2014) the company would have to make Sting's opponent John Cena.  I know right now Cena is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  I don't think that's going to last for long, much less all the way to Mania.  Cena remains the company's top active star.  Fans can hate that statement all they want, but someone please disprove it.

By the time Wrestlemania 31 rolls around in March, Sting will have just celebrated his 57th birthday. I'm not suggesting that his age will impede him, but I do think it'll play a factor in the match (any match for that matter)  I'm torn on how I'd exactly book the match.  On one hand, Cena doesn't need the win to prove anything.  His legacy in WWE was cemented a long time ago.  Sting has nothing to prove either, but for someone of his status, I'd like to see a win at the biggest event of the year.

Other worthy challengers: Bray Wyatt & Daniel Bryan
Photo courtesy: WWE
For the marquee value, Cena would be my opponent for Sting. (Undertaker and The Rock, I know both part-part timers would be my other picks)  However, in terms of the future and developing the next round of talent, one would think having Sting put over Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, or even Dolph Ziggler would lead to instant greatness.  That is all dependent though on how WWE packages the victor after the match.  The other conundrum I see with that idea is that I'm guessing Sting's matches will be limited, and I don't necessarily want to see him only being solely used in to put over guys, although it certainly wouldn't hurt his star power if that were to happen.

My favorite version of Sting
Photo courtesy: WWE
So I've picked a few of the guys I want to see Sting in the ring against, I just can't come up with the best way to execute the match.  Oh, I'd also have "Beach Bum" Sting in these matches.  I always liked that persona and look more than the Crow and Joker versions, but I'm weird like that.  I also know that won't happen. So who would you put Sting against in the WWE?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Killing My Wrestlemania Streak

My first Wrestlemania
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I have been fortunate enough to attend eight of the last nine Wrestlemanias.  The first one I attended with my buddies, Chad and Jeremy, was Wrestlemania 22 in Chicago.  It was a dream come true for this life long wrestling fan.  I'm not going to lie, it was an expensive trip, costing about $1,300.  But, it was something I've wanted to do since I watched the very first Wrestlemania in my neighbor's living room back in 1985.

Wrestlemania 24 in Orlando
(I'm dressed like Hornswoggle)
In 2007, we took break, but Chad and I had already talked about attending Wrestlemania 24 in Orlando. This one was special for me because I knew it would be the last for my all-time favorite "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.  It was another expensive trip, but well worth it in my opinion.  2009 brought us Wrestlemania 25 and I couldn't miss the silver anniversary show, could I?  Of course not.  

Goofing off in Hollywood
Year after year, despite the expense, I justified going.  I knew I was being selfish, but I'd become addicted to going to Wrestlemania and the Hall of Fame.  Then the trips started getting longer.  I went out to Hollywood a few days ahead of Wrestlemania 26 in Phoenix.  Chad lives there, so he took me around town and I did the tourist thing.  The same thing happened in 2013 when I joined my friends in New Jersey.  We hit up the Big Apple too, and spent nearly a week there.  And I did all this while my family sat at home. 

Spicing things up in NYC
I've always known my wife and kids were getting the raw (pardon the pun) end of the deal.  I was leaving for days and spending all kinds of money.  These mini-vacations were a lot of fun, but they were expensive.  When I started this blog and my YouTube channel nearly four years ago, I'd hoped the ad sharing would help offset some of the costs involved.  That hasn't happened yet.  I haven't made enough since becoming a Google partner to even pay for one trip. I'm disappointed and embarrassed to admit this.

Wrestlemania 30
Legends' Beer Bash
We are finally taking a much needed family vacation to Disney World this year.  In addition to that, we've also been hit with higher health insurance premiums.  My son just got a second round of braces.  Our property taxes are going up again.  I'm not complaining, but I've finally seen the light, that the Wrestlemania streak must be stopped.  I finally realized that, and I'm fine knowing that Wrestlemania 30 may have been my last.

I'd love for things to take off with My 1-2-3 Cents, but the reality is, this is still more of a hobby that I'm really passionate about and not a source of income.  I will still watch wrestling and blog and vlog about it.  I'll tune in to Wrestlemania 31 on the WWE Network in March.  It'll be the first time since 2007 that I've done that, but it's time.  It was a helluva ride, a streak that I'm proud to have started officially in 2008.  

Thank you to everyone who continues to read this blog and share it with your friends.  Thanks also for subscribing to and watching my YouTube videos.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Way Back WhensDay: An 11 Year Old's Florida Odyssey

Not the actual bus, but close
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that 30 years ago this summer I embarked on an adventure of epic proportions.  I was 11 years old at the time.  My great-grandma, cousin, and aunt were visiting us from Florida, and someone got the idea that my brother and I return to the Sunshine State with them.  Here's the catch, we would travel by Greyhound Bus.

My cousin Tammy, Aunt Sandra, and I would leave first, because my brother had a week long scout camp to attend. He and great-grandma would join us a week later.  I had a big green suitcase packed as I prepared to spend five weeks of my life with my aunts, uncles, and cousins in Largo.  
My cousin DJ

The bus ride was 32 hours long.  During a pit stop and bus switch in Atlanta, I remember Aunt Sandra telling me to make sure they were putting our luggage on the right bus.  Bleary eyed, I watched the crew members throw my distinctive pea green suitcase into the luggage space under the bus.  A few minutes later I went inside the station and reported back that everything was good to go.  We then boarded the bus NEXT to the bus that was carrying our luggage. I didn't say anything, hoping that I was wrong, but when we got to the station the next day in Florida, my suitcase was not there.  Eventually I was reunited with my clothes.

My brother "playing" piano
Once my brother arrived, we with our Aunt Jo, Uncle Harold, and cousins Tonya and DJ.  We had so much fun, soaking up the Florida sun and spending time with all of our extended family. I remember riding a borrowed bicycle up and down Murray Avenue, visiting Aunt Sandra's and great-grandma's houses.  We'd take turns "playing" the player piano too. 

Like a teen or tween back in the 80's, trips to the mall were common during our stay.  There were frequent visits to the Pinellas Park Mall and lunches at the Woolworth's inside.  Ghostbusters was released on the big screen while we were there and of course we went to see it.  I also bought the vinyl 45 single record of the movie's theme song by Ray Parker, Junior.

Uncle Harold working
My Uncle Harold was installing an in ground pool that summer. One morning while he worked, we headed to Tampa to spend the day at Adventure Island.  It was a day filled with water slides, wave pools, and a lazy river, until we heard Aunt Jo's name announced over the speaker system.  She was summoned to the front office where she took a phone call that Harold had fallen into the empty pool and his wheel barrow landed on top of him.  Frantically, we headed back home, worrying the worst may have happened.  

I don't remember all the details, but Uncle Harold ended up with a bunch of stitches in his head.  I took a picture for whatever reason.  The trooper he is, he finished that pool and we enjoyed it for years to come when we'd visit.

That trip holds so many good memories for me.  Spending time with loved ones and gaining a sense of independence right before heading off to middle school.  It was five weeks of fun that I'll never forget.  I just wish I would have taken more pictures...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Planting the Seeds

Plan C in effect
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I don't think there's ever been a time where I'm more optimistic that the WWE is headed in the right direction in terms of helping develop the next batch of Superstars.  Yes, Brock Lesnar, a part timer, has been named the number one contender to the WWE World Title for SummerSlam.  I'm not crazy about part timers getting that kind of rub, but I believe for the story that's developing (at least in my mind) this will all work out in the end.  As wrestling fans, we have to be more patient and enjoy the ride.  The best example of that was the Daniel Bryan story.

Roman rules
Photo courtesy: WWE
The July 21 edition of Raw showed me that the WWE does in fact support younger, developing talent on the roster.  But the seeds that have been planted need time to grow.  Lesnar facing and defeating John Cena at SummerSlam can help that build up the next guy and have the big payoff again occur at Wrestlemania.  If I were a betting man, my money right now would be on Roman Reigns.  I think that's the most logical choice right now.

Lesnar makes sense as the champion too, considering he has done something no one else has ever done, pin The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.  Paul Heyman can do the verbal work on a weekly basis and keep his client in the spotlight, because we all know Brock won't be at Raw week after week leading to Mania.  I don't have a problem with that, as you'll remember in the 80's, Hulk Hogan rarely defended the WWF Championship on Superstars or Wrestling Challenge.

Two more bright spots: Cesaro & Dean Ambrose
Photo courtesy: WWE
With up and coming talent on the roster like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Reigns; the future looks bright as far as I'm concerned.  I believe in time all of these men will wear THE gold at some point in their respective careers.  They're young, they're hungry, and they're the future.  Also, don't count out Bryan.  Once he's HEALTHY and able to wrestle, I think we'll find him as champion again too.

He will have the whole world in his hands one day
Photo courtesy: WWE
Bray Wyatt, Rusev, Paige, and even established guys like Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston, and Dolph Ziggler continue to impress me too.  And don't forget about the men and women toiling in NXT, like Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Charlotte, and the recently signed Kenta.  All will be contributing to the main roster when the time is right for them to be called up.  I believe it's a good time to be a wrestling fan and the WWE is on the right path.  Let's have fun and be patient.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Confessions from a Reluctant Boat Owner

Our first boat outing in 2007
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In March 2007, my wife and I made the decision to buy a boat.  We were so excited to have it, we immediately took it to Crab Orchard Lake and bundled up in jackets and sweatshirts, just to test drive it.  The boat is nothing fancy, a seven passenger Stingray. We bought it in part because we live in southern Illinois and there are several beautiful and scenic lakes within a 45 minute drive of our home.  My wife grew up spending much of her summers at the Lake of the Ozarks and has plenty of experience boating.  I, despite being an Eagle Scout, do not enjoy the water so much.

Seven years later, still boating!
Several of our friends have boats too, so it made sense to buy one after our first trip down to Kentucky Lake, via the river.  We didn't have a boat at that point and instead of being passengers on someone's boat, we knew it was time to get our own.  The first few years we spent countless weekends out on Crab Orchard or Kinkaid Lake, tubing, skiing, and just cruising around.  Then as my son's baseball got more time consuming and my wife's work in graduate school intensified, there were a couple of summers the boat sat in the garage and never touched the water.

The last two years, that's all changed and we've been out.  But it's now mid-July and the first real time we've had the boat out was over the weekend to resume our annual trip to Kentucky Lake.  Five years have passed since our last river trip, so our getaway was long overdue.  I mentioned I'm not much for the water, but these trips have made it more fun for me.

Heading back
I call myself a reluctant boat owner because I am still a novice when it comes to operating the vessel.  We've had it seven years, and I think over the weekend I finally mastered the art of starting the thing within the first attempt.  Like I mentioned earlier, there's nothing fancy about this boat and from time to time it has a problem starting.  

The captain...
I also suck when it comes to tying the boat to the dock.  Eagle Scout confession time:  I am awful at knots to this day.  It was the one thing in Scouting that I had trouble mastering.  Over the weekend, I basically made sure the rope was tight and the boat was secure.  It never drifted from the marina, so I guess I did that right.

Tubing fun
I will never love the river or the boating experience as much as my family does. But I do love them and spending time together is always (mostly) fun.  This most recent trip saw much cooler than normal weather, so I stuck to mostly driving.  But at the end, I got wet.  I got out of the boat to go get the van and my feet got stuck in the mud.  I lost my balance trying free my feet, and fell in with quite a splash and several colorful words.  Overall though, it was a fun weekend and a great escape for a few days.