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Old 09-21-2010, 02:28 PM   #1
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Default of excess and health, a cautionary tale

So, quick background, this past May I moved to New Mexico to start a brewpub, the Spaceport Brewpub. After quitting my job and investing much time and $$ - and joining this forum and learning how to homebrew - everything seemed to fall into place. I had an SBA loan approved, a building picked out, all of the market research done, business plan was solid, and was beginning to gather sources for brewing equipment and the kitchen operation. I had even interviewed two potential brewmasters, as there was no way I was ready to make the leap.

Two days before signing the loan paperwork, I was having some medical issues - shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling weak. At the clinic the found billirubin (sp) in my urine - a sign of liver problems - and sent me on for further tests and a CT scan. The initial symptoms were due to high blood pressure. I put the closing of the Brewpub deal on hold until I found out what was going on.

Sure enough, three of the five liver panel blood tests were high. The CT scan showed mild fatty liver disease, plus I had "metabolic syndrome" which means more than 30% body fat, high blood pressure, waist size greater than 40 inches (I had tipped the scales at 257 pounds) . .. a mess. They said that if I did not change my ways I had a one in ten chance of developing liver cancer and most certainly cirrhosis of the liver.

I have enjoyed beer and tequila all of my adult life, and though I never have had a DUI or had my daily consumption interfere with the job or relationships, after 30 years, it had caught up with me.

Doctors orders: Quit or severely curtail the drinking, exercise, diet . .

I quit drinking all together for three weeks just to be sure I was not physically addicted. I was not. I have since adopted the 2/2 rule: Two beers no more than two times a week.

Anyway, there was no way I could open a brewpub and be around all that great free beer - MY BEER - not to mention the kinds of deep fried foods that I was planning on having on the menu. I killed the deal and moved back to Denver where I could be around friends and family and better medical care, as well as exercise groups and bike trails and mountains to climb.

That was two months ago. I started on a very serious exercise program and adopted the tenants of the Primal Blueprint (you can do a search on this if you are interested) which included the elimination of all grains (beer!) and sugars and processed food from the diet. I started cycling again, and am up to 40-50 mile rides 3-4 times a week.

Just last Thursday I had my first follow-up blood work and physical. I have lost 25 pounds, my blood pressure is back in the normal range, and two of the three liver tests were in the normal range with the third one half way there. The doctor was amazed at the progress, and said "It looks like we caught this in time."

Yes, I have a new lease on life, feel great, and am brewing again - tho consuming very little - and am thankful that I had this wake-up call.

So, those of you who might find yourself in the same shape I was, drinking daily (I would have 4-6 beers a night), PLEASE go in and have a physical and liver panel done. The liver is a great organ, it can repair itself, provided the damage is caught in time and you do the right thing. Because mine was caught in time - and I was not addicted - I am able to get my health back and enjoy brewing again (tho in extreme moderation).

Now, this is not all rosy, as I lost many thousand $$ on the brewpub, and lost my dream of owning and operating my own place... but health is the number one thing, and there is now time - years paid back - to dream up the next Big Thing.

Enjoy this brewing journey, but in the words of Bono, watch for signs of "playing with the fire 'till the fire played with me"

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:33 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing!

I admire your discipline. Sorry it came so close and was so disappointing.

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:45 PM   #3
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Congratulations sir on your turnaround and may you continue to have success! I am so sorry of your lost dream and funding, however as you said, if you don't have your health what's the point?

I find more and more that I enjoy brewing for the sake of brewing, I like the way you can manipulate all aspects of the process to change the nuances of the brew. I love the way my friends and family's faces look when they taste the special homebrew and are extremely surprised by the way it tastes, be it good or bad (in their perseption).

Again I say "Good on you sir!" and continue to enjoy the ART of brewing even if you have to sample in moderation.

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Old 09-21-2010, 03:09 PM   #4
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You're a good man for sharing. Brewing craft beer is a slippery slope if you don't take a step back and recognize how much alcohol you're drinking. This is especially true in the "bigger is better" American craft brew scene where the trend is the most alcohol and IBUs you can fit in a glass. I hope the trend starts to move toward the most flavor you can pack into a moderate ABV 4-5%.

Your story is scary and I'm sure it's mirrored all over the country. I would hope once you reach your health goals you don't go the complete opposite way and swear off any of life's indulgences. Everything, in moderation.

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Old 09-21-2010, 03:32 PM   #5
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Glad you've regained health!

It's about balance. Drink beer but exercise so one doesn't have to go to extreme to correct their health

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Old 09-21-2010, 04:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalAngler View Post
This is especially true in the "bigger is better" American craft brew scene where the trend is the most alcohol and IBUs you can fit in a glass. I hope the trend starts to move toward the most flavor you can pack into a moderate ABV 4-5%.
This is one of my new goals in brewing, I hate starting to feel groggy or slow after just one of my 22oz bottles. So glad that they caught this in time for you SpaceportBP, somebody is watching out for you and your family for sure.
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Old 09-21-2010, 04:26 PM   #7
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Good advice. I too have cut (mostly) process sugars and grains and starches from my diet. I am not careful about fruits and veggies. I eat meats and fruits and veggies as much as I want, which is less total food than I was eating when I ate a bunch of carbs.

So far, with "mild" exercise, I have lost about 15 lbs. I haven't really cut back on the beer so much yet either. I still only have about 1 per day during the week.

I have found that eating more meats and veggies (I'm not really a fruit kind of guy), I eat less and I am content longer.

Thankfully I have blood work done each year at one of my bi-annual physicals and actually my blood test have come back better since I started drinking more often! I'm curious to see what it looks like since I started this diet thing. And I really coudl get on the bike more often yet!

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Old 09-21-2010, 04:35 PM   #8
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I say you could still have the brewpub. Just choose a healthier set of menu items to pair the beer with. I do hear you tho, I am not in as dire a situation but my health is on the same track.

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Old 09-21-2010, 04:36 PM   #9
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Good advice. I too have cut (mostly) process sugars and grains and starches from my diet. I am not careful about fruits and veggies. I eat meats and fruits and veggies as much as I want, which is less total food than I was eating when I ate a bunch of carbs.

So far, with "mild" exercise, I have lost about 15 lbs. I haven't really cut back on the beer so much yet either. I still only have about 1 per day during the week.
What is mild exercise? I've been wanting to start doing some "mild" exercise...
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Old 09-21-2010, 04:37 PM   #10
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great story, thanks for sharing it. cheers to your health!

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