The Covid Chronicles

Corona Camouflage: The Virus Can’t Get You If It Can’t See You, Right?

My last post here was published on January 31st, the Friday before the Super Bowl. That morning I tackled the subject of what low carb snacks to consider serving during the Big Game, this seemed like an important topic in those days. That weekend I also shot, edited, and posted to Instagram a whimsical video on the same subject. In the time since those posts, everything – the whole world – has changed. I’ve always considered myself something of a wordsmith, but I’ve struggled in the time since March to cope with and grasp what was happening well enough to put coherent thoughts on paper. Since the pandemic came to the States in March I’ve bought a home, postponed my wedding and honeymoon, moved, transitioned to a completely work-from-home lifestyle. Everything, like for so many others, is different. Here, finally, are my collected thoughts on three and a half months of quarantine.

Control and Flexibility

If the quarantine has taught me one thing it’s that the view that we are in control of our lives is an illusion. Think about it, even in The Land Before Covid, would you have agreed that the weather, traffic patterns or train ride delays, the songs your favorite radio station played, the actions of your co-workers, and your boss’s attitude had generous impacts on your day? I know I would have, they make HUGE impacts on five out of seven days a week. Yet, we’re in zero control over these things. The virus has magnified this reality. Crystal and I had been planning our April wedding and honeymoon for over a year and we were weeks away from both when, with much agony, we had to postpone.

The additional lesson that this reveals is that life and love demand flexibility. Things worth having are worth waiting for. I remind myself that, in the scheme of living together another 50+ years, an additional five months won’t seem like so much looking back. But time isn’t, of course, the only factor: the collective weight of being so close to one of the biggest days of our lives to see it fall into uncertainty is devastatingly traumatic. One cannot help but ask “What did we do to deserve this?” The inconvenient answer: Nothing. Things like these are out of our control, like with so much else in our lives. 

We can control, though, two things: How we prepare and how we respond. If we are merely paddlers in the river that is life, we can nevertheless make sure we have a sturdy canoe and a strong paddle.


One of the first things Crystal and I decided to do, in the wake of working from home and postponing the wedding, was to – temporarily – indulge in a little careless eating. Taking some control back from the virus and diving into snacks and foods I hadn’t eaten since childhood brought nostalgia in waves sufficient enough to help me cope with what was happening. Reese’s Peanut Butter cereal, grilled cheese sandwiches, grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, chicken tenders, Pop-Tarts. It was a culinary trip through simple, non-satiating carbs. For all the reasons I shouldn’t have made that choice – for all the reasons I should have doubled down on my healthy habits – it was fun, it was comforting. We’ve since corrected our ways and are very much back to our Pre-Wedding Diet. But it was fun, innocent, escapism. We could all use a little of that these days.


Equality, as an American and as a Christian, is not something I have spent enough time thinking about in my thirty years of life. Plenty would not be surprised to hear that. Throughout American history, plenty of great words have been written: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. For a long time, though, the promises therein were legally precluded from applying to many. Too many. Even as the letter of various laws have changed, the application of justice and equity has been slow and/or incomplete. Many companies and plenty of my peers took to social media to point this out, the efficacy and authenticity of this sort of thing has brought on much of its own debate. During this time I chose to engage in private, productive conversations with friends, family, and peers about their perspectives and how, at the individual level, we can influence change. I also set out on a journey through a familiar source: Reading. I recognized at the beginning of the protests over the murder of George Floyd that there was so much I didn’t know. To remedy this I dove into books to gain context, perspective, and knowledge. 

To that end, three books that I read stand out as particularly enlightening. They are at times uncomfortable, but they are powerful. Those are: How To Be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram Kendi, The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein, and White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. I learned a lot from these sources. I was amazed to learn, just as one example, that black veterans returning from World War II were, as a matter of legally protected policy, denied access to affordable VA home loans. This is the sort of history that plenty of us don’t know and is the sort of context that Drew Brees, as just one example, might have benefitted from knowing. There were countless other nuggets from these books, and plenty of other books are out there. 

Knowledge, in these contexts, is so powerful.

Walt, Steve, and Others

After returning the afore mentioned books to the library, I decided to switch gears to something a little more light hearted. First was “Disney’s Land,” a thorough history of Walt Disney’s journey to breathe life into imagination and bring his idea for Disneyland into reality. Today we know The Walt Disney Company as a multi-billion dollar monolith, but Walt was far from flush as he set out to build his park. Walt had plenty of people around him that genuinely believed him to be brilliant and talented, but he very much felt an anxious isolation about his work – something that resonates with me as an “aspiring writer.” Reading about Walt also served to scratch the itch of my deep rooted Disney addiction, something that’s been put on hold during the Pandemic. I’ve since started a tour of American CEO’s, starting with Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. After that I’ll return to Disney history with autobiographies from Michael Eisner and Bob Iger. There’s plenty to learn from successful leaders, regardless of what your own pursuits are.

The More I Read, The More I Write

Time and time again I’ve been told that if I want to write, I have to read. My ravenous consumption of written word over the past two months has served my writers mind and helped me get back to the table. I’m twenty or so hand-written pages into a rough draft of a book that will blend my memoir of an adolescence spent dealing with obesity, the path I took to change that, a social commentary of the environment that made both possible, and tips for those looking to make a transition similar to mine. I’m not an expert on these matters, but I hope that my personal narrative will inspire someone…even just one someone. To that end I am very optimistic and I’m passionate about getting the story out there. Keep your eyes open for details.

In any event folks… Whatever cruel reality the quarantine has cast upon you, it will pass. Eventually we’ll be back to concerts, weddings, and family vacations. Keep your head up. We’ll all be better and stronger on the other side.

Big Game Snacks: Wreck Your Opponent’s Dreams, Not Your Weight Loss

Low-Carb Can Be Delicious

I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but tailgating is one of my all-time favorite ways to spend a morning or afternoon. I love tailgating before football games, every January before the Gasparilla parade, I’ve even tailgated before a Christian comedy show. There’s just something about drinks and snacks with friends alongside the anticipation of the days events that make what boils down to just sitting still bearable…I’m convinced the PGA survives based off this fact alone. 

You can’t always attend the big game though, a fact that KFC looked to remedy with their “Couchgating” spot a few years back…the concept being that you can do all that eating and drinking in the comfort of your own home. 

Wherever you’re…gating(?)…this weekend, one thing is certain: Tailgates are minefields for folks on a low-carb diet. But they don’t have to be. 

Full Disclosure: I had a lot of grand plans to meticulously detail and photograph my process for these three recipes. But…I ran out of time. Here, instead, are three low-carb recipes that are sure to be a hit during your Big Game festivities this week; I’ve included my own commentary on these recipes at no additional charge. 

From Sarah, at LiveEatLearn

I include this dish first because it happened to be the first thing my Ninja air fryer made on its maiden voyage. This is a delicious, guilt free way to incorporate a timeless, unmistakeable flavor into your Big Game snack program. A few tips: First, buying a full head of cauliflower and trimming it yourself is significantly cheaper, buying pre chopped is easier…your call. Second, I sprinkle some garlic powder on mine as well for some added savory depth. 

From Shannon, at Fit Slow Cooker Queen

This bad boy WOULD be killer with some of those rustic, blue corn tortilla chips. But, in the interest of being low-carb, regular flavored pork rinds act sort of like Fritos Scoops. Carrot chips and celery sticks would also work. In a pinch, this could even go over cauliflower rice. I prefer to make this dip with leaner ground beef or…gasp…ground turkey.

Barbecue Meatballs

From Sarah, at The Magical Slow Cooker

The combination of barbecue and onions in this recipe takes me back to my old love, the McRib…but in a good way. This recipe is not, as published, a low-carb option…swapping the “regular” barbecue sauce for a sugar free option will accomplish your low-carb goals, however.

Note: These recipes are intended to be low-carb alternatives to other “carb-forward” standards. That said, I wouldn’t expect you to see any weight loss progress after a day full of these options. Be that as it may, I’m a supporter of cheat meals…especially if they’re intentional AND low-carb.

But what to drink?! No Tailgate or Couchgate is complete without a cold beverage. Here are some options to consider:

For the Beer Guy: 

The two leaders in the extra-low-carb beer scene right now are Bud Select 55 and Miller64 (the recently re-branded version of Miller Genuine Draft 64). Neither of these hold much favor among the beer community at large – holding less esteem than drafts like Mich Ultra or Corona Premium. That said, these two crispy boys replicate the macro-brew experience with even fewer carbs than most light beer options. 

Which is better? Well, they’re pretty similar. Lately I’ve leaned more towards the Miller, which could very easily be a subconscious reaction to their fresh look. Also, the Miller gets extra points in my book as I’m able to find them in glass 12 packs sometimes, most stores in my market (Tampa/St. Pete) only carry these two beers in 24 packs, which is way more than I need to buy at one time.

For the Vodka Queen:

Ocean Spray makes a wide variety of Diet Cranberry based drinks. CranPomegranate, my personal favorite, clocks in at just 3 carbs per serving, keep in mind also that most vodka drinks will call for less than a standard serving of juice. You also can’t go wrong with vodka, seltzer/soda water, and a splish splash of lime.

For the Pirate and Southern Gentleman Alike:

I’m a big fan of soda, a habit I tend to reserve for weekends and parties. I’m also incredibly sensitive to caffeine. When I plan to do some drinking during evening activities I reach for caffeine free Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, the artist formerly known in the States as Coke Zero. This pairs well with my two favorite mixing liquors: Evan Williams (Bourbon) and Captain Morgan (Spiced Rum).

For the DD:

Bubly Water. Full stop. This Pepsi branded carbonated water has zero sweetener and zero calories. There’s tons of flavors out there, my favorites are Watermelon, Peach, and Mango.

One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

A major season of my life, highlighted by growth and self improvement, came to a conclusion this week with a major promotion at work. What started three years ago, with a simple attempt at weight loss, sparked a major overhaul of my life…in the time since I’ve lost 95 pounds, proposed to the most beautiful woman on the planet, left one job for another, and finally accepted the previously mentioned promotion. In November of 2016, when I started my weight loss journey, I never anticipated any of these things, individually, could happen…that all three have happened is a blessing beyond measure. This new promotion, the product of an emotional, month long process has brought me to reflect on the past three years and the journey I took to get here. Here are my thoughts… 

You Are The Product of Your Actions, But Mostly Your Thoughts and Attitude

Prior to November of 2016 I was obese, unhappy with my job, and stuck in a revolving door of dead end relationships. All of this was the product of my own action or inaction: I could have been eating differently, I could have been working harder or have been applying for jobs, I could have held out, instead of settling, for better love interests. But these truths, also, were the product of my own thinking. I thought fat was all I’d ever be. I didn’t believe I was smart enough or talented enough for a better job. I didn’t feel I could attract the type of woman that would make a healthy, long term partner for me. I resigned to lifestyle choices that perpetuated the characteristics of my life that I was most unhappy with. So, yes, my actions were the driving fore of my unhappiness, but my thoughts (about myself, others, the world around me) were the driving force of those actions. 

Set Goals, Don’t Stress Over The Specifics

In November of 2016, like I mentioned, I knew what I was unhappy about. My weight however, true or not, was the only thing I felt I had control over. I initially set out to try the Paleo Diet, described to me by a buddy over beer and football one day, with the aspiration of losing 15-20 pounds. I figured, accurately, that losing even 20 pounds would be a significant improvement over the status quo, so I set out to see what was possible. The results of that journey included dramatic changes in ways that I never could have imagined – which is the joy of the process. Had I, on the other hand, tried to plan and link every step from fat, single, and unhappy to slim, married, and professionally empowered…I might never have gotten started. The point here is… Don’t worry if you don’t know how you’ll accomplish all of your goals. Get started on what you can, you’ll be amazed where the momentum of good choices can take you. For example, how much time have you spent in front of the computer chasing weight loss advice compared to how much time have you spent actually changing your diet? Not starting a diet because you’re not sure it will return positive results is like never asking someone on a date because you’re not positive you want to marry that person yet. If you want to see actual results you’ll have to take actual steps. If that doesn’t work out? Oh well, try something else. 

I resigned to lifestyle choices that perpetuated the characteristics of my life that I was most unhappy with.

Not Everyone Will Like The New You, And That’s Ok

Major, transformative life changes will, at least at times, require sacrifice, selfishness, and a dramatic change in habits. There will be some…whether family, a once best friend, or an acquaintance…who will decide not to come on your journey with you. This point has been brought up by many others and plenty has been said about it, but here’s my take: Don’t Take It Personally. Say, for example, you’ve been going out for beer and pizza every Wednesday night for a decade with the same friend. This standing appointment may be something you’ll gladly sacrifice in the name of your goals, but maybe it’s what your friend looks most forward to all week. So if this friend decides, no, he doesn’t want a “red wine and steak friend” and decides instead to replace you with a new “beer and pizza friend,” wish him luck. Additionally, your own self improvement can be seen by others as a measuring stick of their own failures, inaction, and laziness…if they cannot get over this to cheer you on, wish them luck in life as well. A variety of minute differences boil down to two types of people: People that are rooting for you and people that aren’t. Surround yourself with the former, don’t lose sleep over the latter.

Don’t Forget To Show Gratitude

I don’t know a single person who would say “I feel sufficiently appreciated, at all times, by my family, friends, peers, and superiors.” People love to feel appreciated, encouraged, and validated…do your part to help them feel that way. To the buddy that turned you on to your successful diet, thank him. To the mentor at work that spoke highly, yet fairly, on your behalf, thank her. For the parents, siblings, and friends that stuck by your side, thank them.For the spouse or significant other that puts up with your shit every day, thank him or her. Life is all about choices. The people that chose to do those things for you could have just as easily chosen not to, don’t forget that. Expand this practice of gratitude throughout your life. The teacher working the carpool lane at your kids school hasn’t been thanked enough. The dude working your favorite Eli counter hasn’t been thanked enough. The cop working traffic after a concert or football game hasn’t been thanked enough. The solider sitting on a flight next to you sure as hell hasn’t been thanked enough. Put gratitude into the universe…it’s free to do and there can never be enough of it. 

So what will the next chapter hold? Well, most importantly, there is my wedding in April. More than anything, I’ve always wanted to be a husband…I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together. This chapter will include our honeymoon, with God’s blessing there will be adventures in home ownership and starting a family. Everything that has happened over the past three years, directly or indirectly, has lead to these moments. The past three years have taught me that when you combine a goal driven mentality with the willingness to bust your ass, great things happen. So that’s exactly what I plan to do.

Get started on what you can, you’ll be amazed where the momentum of good choices can take you.