Chris' Corner

From The Inbox
--Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's been a while since I took the time to answer viewer e-mail here in the Corner, so let's do a little catching up.

Our first e-mail is from Roger in Morgantown...

Dear Chris,

I notice each night the weather segment shows the high and low years for temperature extremes for our area. Is it possible to get the listing of the record highs and lows for each day throughout the year?

I recently bought a copy of the Jerry Hill book about Kentucky weather. (I worked for Mr. Hill as part of work/study at the University of Kentucky about 1970. The job was recording the daily weather station charts from the University farm. My degree was in agriculture though.)

The tables in the book I found humorous were the monthly record highs and lows across the state. It turns out that 67% of the record daily lows for each month have occured since the year of my birth in 1951. What's really neat is that 83% of the record daily highs for each month occured before 1951. (tables A8,A9 pp. 170-171).
That points toward Kentucky cooling! Forget global warming, I'm staying here.

I've noticed for some time that the daily record highs seem to be 1925 or berfore.

Best wishes,

Roger Southerland

Roger...A great resource to find daily climate data in almost every city or town in the country can be found from the National Climatic Data Center. When you go there, you can pick the daily high (maximum), low (minimum) and other data you need to fill your curiosity. The link to the NCDC website is

Next we hear from Janice in Glasgow...

I hear a lot about "the digital conversion" but I don't quite understand what it's all about. I've been told I won't be able to pick up Channel 13 anymore after February 17th of next year. I can't do without WBKO so what am I supposed to do?


Well Janice, this subject has a lot of people confused and even upset. WBKO is not going off the air but will soon be changing the way we broadcast our signal. Since we began in 1962, WBKO has been broadcasting an "analog" signal on VHF channel 13. Starting February 17, 2009, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has mandated that every broadcast TV station (not just WBKO) must convert their broadcast signal to "digital" which will provide a much cleaner picture and better quality sound.

For us, this means we also will need to replace the antenna that sits atop our broadcast tower in Richardsville. For that reason, we are now working toward making the transition to the new digital signal earlier than the February 17th deadline. There will be a period of time later this year in which we will permanantly cease broadcasting on our regular or "analog" channel 13 signal that you now receive. If you receive us on Insight Cable, your signal will not be interrupted. We are working right now with other cable systems in our viewing area to make sure they are able to pick up our current digital signal so they can continue broadcasting us through your cable box and into your TV. When the new digital transmitter and antenna are installed, you will then be able to see WBKO at DIGITAL channel 13 using either a converter box hooked to the TV you now own or by purchasing a new Digital-ready TV set. If you currently watch WBKO through a local cable system, you won't have to do anything in order to pick up our new digital signal.

Once the conversion takes place, if you own a regular (analog) TV set, you will no longer see WBKO when you go to channel 13. In fact, you won't see any other channel either. It will all be static. That is why you must purchase either a digital converter box for your current TV or buy a digital TV set.

There is a great website that has been designed to answer all of your digital TV questions and where you can also apply for a DTV converter box coupon to help you out. The website is

Stay connected here at for more information about our eventual conversion to digital television and what it means to you. And keep those e-mails coming! CA

Chris Asks For Your Help! 55th Annual Crusade For Children
--Monday, June 2, 2008

Here it is folks...another opportunity for you to help children all over South Central Kentucky by opening your hearts and pocketbooks. The 55th annual Crusade for Children comes our way this weekend and WBKO is once again proud to play a small role.

While I've only been involved with the Crusade for the last 5 years, WHAS in Louisville started this campaign 55 years ago as a way to raise funding for special needs children in all of Kentucky's 120 counties. Since 1954, Crusade For Children has raised over $123 million dollars toward helping over 3-million Kentucky children overcome physical, mental, emotional and medical challenges.

Crusade For Children is much like another cause I am very involved with...St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. And while the two focus on the needs of children, CFC is designed to specifically aid agencies across Kentucky (and parts of southern Indiana) with the funding necessary to purchase medical supplies, special transportation and theraputic needs locally.

This weekend, I will be LIVE once again from our collection sites in Columbia (Saturday 6-7pm) and Rough River State Park (Sunday 1-3pm). You will be able to see our LIVE broadcasts from those locations this weekend right here on WBKO. At both stops, you'll get to see many of your local fire departments who volunteer their time to collect money from their hometowns for the Crusade. Starting this week, you'll see many fire fighters at area 4-way stops and parking lots collecting money for Crusade For Children. Please give anything you can. 100% of the money collected goes right back into the community it was collected from! That's right...if the money was collected in Warren County, it goes back into Warren County helping special needs children. In years past, money collected through the Crusade has helped agencies such as CASA, Bellewood, Caveland Educational Support Center and the Family Enrichment Center.

I don't want you to wait until this weekend to give. You can give now by going to the Crusade's website (see the link below) and making a tax deductible donation with your credit card. I'd love to see a huge representation from South Central Kentucky knowing that EVERY DOLLAR raised from here will return to this area.

Thank you and God bless you for your donation. And for those of you in Columbia and around the Rough River Lake areas, Shelia and I look forward to seeing you again this weekend! CA

CLICK HERE for more information about Crusade For Children and how you can donate on-line!

Keeping "Memorial" in Memorial Day
--Thursday, May 22, 2008

With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, all I've heard talk about is time off, going to the lake, cooking out and having fun. While all of that is great, I wish I heard more speak to the sacrifice our brave men and women have made...are making...and will make as part of our armed services.

Whether you agree or disagree with war, all of us should take a moment to remember the sacrifices made on our behalf so that we can enjoy the freedom to observe this holiday weekend the way we wish to. For those of you too young to remember some of our earlier conflicts, read up on them and gain a better understanding of America's invlovement in past wars. It's likely that 9 out of 10 of you will find an ancestor that served in some branch of the military which ultimately had an impact on your family's history.

I don't think it's just me that senses this...but have you noticed that lately celebrating America in general has become more a passing fancy or something only done by (what some label) "traditionalists"? What's happened to us? In modern times, Memorial Day especially has become overlooked...often ignored by those of us who are the very beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

How about flying the American flag? Too many worry about offending someone else these days - but this is America and you have the freedom to fly that flag proudly...not only on holidays such as Memorial Day but all year long. I do. It's my house, it's my country and I'm not afraid to show how proud of it I am. This is STILL the best country on earth!

There are a few rules about flying the American flag properly during holidays. The American Flagpole & Flag Company says on Memorial Day, all American flags are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon local time on Monday, then raise to the top of the staff. You can also fly the POW/MIA flag in unison with the American flag if you are remembering a prisoner of war or a soldier missing in action. It may creep you out (as they say these days) but pay a visit to a military cemetary or memorial and place small American flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.

If you'd rather have a more personal observation of Memorial Day, then you can participate in the National Moment of Rememberance at 3:00pm local time Monday to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day. It also wouldn't hurt to say a prayer of thanks for all those who have served before us along with a prayer for those serving us now.

Call me old fashioned but I still believe in our great country...bad gas prices, slow economy and all. I still proudly stand beside Her and believe that each of matter the situation...have the opportunity to become who we want to be and say what we want to say thanks to those who have paved the way before us.

All gave some...some gave all...and that should never be forgotten. CA

Our 25th Anniversary Weekend: Part 3
--Friday, May 9, 2008

In this last installment of pictures from our 25th anniversary weekend I thought it would only be fitting to share with you all the shots I took of the Smoky Mountains. The series of pictures below start from Saturday morning and go through sunset Saturday evening. Every few hours I would step out on our front porch and snap another shot. Like I said before, I just couldn't get enough of the view!

I thank you all for your feedback and for allowing me to indulge a bit about this trip as Shelia and I celebrate 25 years together.

Remember, if you want more information about this cabin, contact the good folks at Mountain Rentals of Gatlinburg. CA

Our 25th Anniversary Weekend: Part 2
--Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One of the things we loved best about our cabin in Gatlinburg is that it pretty much had everything in it you could want – except maybe food – and we took care of that by hitting the local Food City store which was only a couple of miles away.

Yes, there’s a game room complete with a pool table, flat panel TV, CD Stereo with iPod port and a digital dartboard.

Minnesota Fats I’m not…just call me Kentucky Slim!

Shelia’s a pretty good pool player and we both love to play. Having this table in our cabin made us want one at home.

Need some of the other comforts of home? There’s a washer and dryer in the downstairs bath if you need to wash clothes.

The cabin has a fully functional kitchen with microwave, stove and oven, refrigerator, dishwasher and coffee maker. There’s even dishes and some silverware…so all you have to do is supply the food!

Now here’s one of the best parts of the whole weekend…hot tub!

Ahh…so relaxing! And while the 102 degree water is melting your every care away, you can stare straight ahead and soak in the incredible view…which looks like this…

(No description necessary)

Want to cook out or have a picnic? Just off the driveway is a grill and a gazebo covered picnic table with the scenic woods all around you.

As most of you know, Shelia loves to knit and crochet…and this picture of her is one of my all-time favorites because it’s her in her element in the most beautiful setting I can imagine.

And yes, I felt completely at home as well. I could sit for hours just rocking away and staring at the mountains…and I did!

We did venture out Saturday morning for breakfast to one of our favorite places to eat in Gatlinburg…the Log Cabin Pancake House. There are literally dozens of places to get pancakes in the Gatlinburg area, but this one (to us) is the best. It’s located just behind the Convention Center and up the street from the Space Needle.

Next to the Log Cabin Pancake House is a gift shop where Shelia found her a new friend to take home.

And for the first time, we saw Shelia’s name spelled the way she spells it with the “i” after the “l” and not before it.

Yep, this is nice and we certainly enjoyed ourselves. We highly recommend this Smoky Mountain getaway for any couple wanting to celebrate an anniversary or if you just need to leave town for a weekend and relax. I gotta tell you the folks at Mountain Rentals of Gatlinburg were outstanding. And this is not the only rental they have available. The rates are not all that bad once you consider all the cabins have to offer. I’ve already had a few of you write me for their phone number and how you can rent this same cabin called “A Passionate View”. It’s a toll free number…1-866-482-1044.

Take a virtual tour of our cabin "A Passionate View" from Mountain Rentals of Gatlinburg

Come back tomorrow…there will be a “part 3” to this post and it will feature all the pictures I took of just the mountain scene out our front porch. You’ll not want to miss it! CA

Our 25th Anniversary Weekend: Part 1
--Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Today I celebrate 25 years of marriage with my wife Shelia. They call it the “silver” anniversary. I suppose that has more to do with the amount of gray showing in my hair than anything else, but it is a wonderful milestone. Thank you, babe for putting up with me and all my shortcomings…and they are many. Shelia is the only woman I know that loves me wholly and completely with no strings attached. I am by no means the model husband. I’ve given her plenty of reason to put her hands on her hips and tap her feet a few times in disgust. Throughout my career, she’s not always understood what I do but she’s always supported me. And somehow, even when I act like an immature idiot, she remains.

This weekend, I wanted to do something special for her 25 years of love and dedication. I’m the kind of person that feels no matter how big or extravagant the gift, it cannot equal what I’ve been given in return. Thankfully, Shelia and I both enjoy the simple things in life. To us, a weekend inside a romantic cabin nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains is heaven on earth. We’ve never been big city spenders or round-the-world socialites. Give us the mountains or the beach, some good food and place to sleep and we’re fine.

Shelia and I are happy to share with you some of our pictures from this past weekend. Many of you often write and say how much you appreciate us posting snapshots of our little weekend excursions and often want to know more about the places we visit. We took a lot of pictures and gathered a lot of information on this trip, so follow along and I will provide some links and phone numbers as we go along so you can plan a romantic weekend of your own.

In my search for a romantic getaway, I immediately thought of Gatlinburg, Tennessee…one of our favorite places to be. We’ve stayed there before either in a hotel or a chalet. But for this momentous occasion, I wanted something extra special. I wanted something that truly combined our love for the mountains with a few modern-day conveniences thrown in. We found the perfect setting with a cabin called “A Passionate View”.

This is the view from the front porch! It was so breathtaking that I couldn’t stop looking at it. I can only imagine what it might look like in the Fall.

“A Passionate View” not only applies to what you see outside, but inside as well. The interior of this newly constructed cabin was wood all over!

The bedroom was as cozy and comfortable as could be. It's simple country charm at its best with just a hint of modern conveniences such as a cordless phone, flat panel TV and wireless internet throughout. (Notice the pocket weather radio laying on the bed. Never leave home without it!)

And when you awake, you sit up and look out this window to see the view of a lifetime!

Now you see why they call it “A Passionate View”!

In the bedroom is a heart-shaped Jacuzzi. There’s also a full bath with shower in the bedroom loft if you so choose.

This looks like a good place for a picture.

The den has a flat panel TV with cable access and a DVD player. There’s a romantic fireplace there as well all nestled in the corner.

And the couch is rather cozy as well!

Check out the dining room table made with tile inlay right at the bottom of the stairs. Great for a romantic meal for two.

Well, I’ve run out of time for today but there’s plenty more to show you. Check back here tomorrow and the next few days for more pictures from our 25th anniversary weekend. In the meantime, if you are curious about our cabin called “A Passionate View”, click on the link below for a virtual tour. It really helped us decide this was the place we wanted to stay. And if you decide to make a reservation, ask for Vanessa...she'll take good care of you! CA

Virtual tour of "A Passionate View" from Mountain Rentals of Gatlinburg

Looking Back at StormFest '08
--Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A big “thanks” to everyone who attended our second annual StormFest this past Saturday! It was another successful StormFest full of helpful severe weather information, great food, science experiments for the kids and pretty much anything you needed to know about personal preparedness.

Once again, we are indebted to the staff at Bowling Green High School (a big tip of the hat to Mr. Alvey and crew!) and all of our vendors who helped us make this happen.

We thought we’d share some of StormFest with you in pictures in hopes that those of you who didn’t attend get a little better idea of what you missed. And by the way…we’re already planning our 3rd StormFest for 2009!

Here is former WBKO weatherman Jason Lindsey talking with the Richardsville Elementary School group who put together personal preparedness kits. Jason is now the science instructor at the Bootheel Science Museum and performed several experiments with the kids.

At this year’s StormFest, Midland Radio introduced the latest and greatest thing in weather radios…one that is very portable and will automatically scan for the nearest NOAA broadcast! This model fits in your purse or pocket and will sound an alarm if there’s a warning in your area. What a great idea to take outdoors, to a camping trip, while traveling or to a ball game. We’re working with Houchens to get these on store shelves in the coming weeks.

Here are some of the folks from Houchens that sold and programmed weather radios at StormFest. All day long, people were coming from all over South Central Kentucky to either purchase a weather radio or have them programmed for their area.

New to StormFest this year were the folks from Pet Protection Services. At their booth, they offered some great tips on how you can better protect your pets from severe weather and other dangers.

Tony Rhoades’ State Farm Insurance was another vendor this year and presented some unique disaster kits as door prizes.

Mid South Lumber and Supply’s emphasis was on safe room construction. A lot of people have been asking for safe rooms to be built in their new homes and Mid South had tons of valuable information on the materials needed and estimates on what a safe room might cost the average homeowner.

This is a cross-section of what a safe-room wall might look like. As you can see, there are several materials that make up the structure of a safe-room which protect those inside from flying or falling debris caused by high winds and tornadoes.

Always ready and willing to help is the South Central Kentucky chapter of the American Red Cross. At their booth, you could get step-by-step instruction on how to put together your very own personal preparedness kit and buy a first aid kit on the spot.

Our corporate partner The Medical Center was also at StormFest highlighting their EMS services.

The Barren River Area Development District (BRADD) and CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) were at StormFest to provide information on how ordinary citizens can participate in rescue and recovery efforts during times of emergency.

Here’s one of the disaster kits put together by the kids at Richardsville Elementary.

Yes, there was food! And some healthy “Allen Challenge” treats, too provided by Crossroads IGA.

Ever been inside an actual in-ground tornado shelter? We had one at StormFest that you could sit inside of and Shelter Plus of Kentucky could give you information on.

Our thanks to Community Action of Southern Kentucky for being a part of StormFest!

Boxes and boxes of weather radios…the most popular item at StormFest.

One of the many presentations at StormFest featured a historical look back at the Spring Storm of ’98 that pounded Bowling Green and much of South Central Kentucky with large hail, flooding rains and tornadoes.

Some of the crowd at StormFest watching slides presented by Ronnie Pearson of Warren County Emergency Management and Joe Sullivan of the National Weather Service.

Some of the StormFest attendees with Shane at the WBKO booth.

Time for a break! In between the basic spotter class sessions, there was time for a refreshment break where folks could mingle, buy a weather radio or get more information about storm shelters and safety kits.

This is Bruce Thomas of Midland Radio. Bruce presented the attendees with information about how NOAA weather radio works, how many lives it’s saved and the latest advances in weather radio and all-hazards technology.

Noodles the Clown also made an appearance at StormFest to help kids (old and young alike) have a great time. CA

Why You Need to be at StormFest
--Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I promised you more pictures from my Spring vacation...but that will come in a few days. In the meantime, I would be remiss if I didn't implore you to attend this year's StormFest.

This will be our second annual event which promises to be much bigger and better than last year. If you don't already know, StormFest is this Saturday from 9am to 1pm at Bowling Green High School. Like last year, we will hold the event in the commons (cafeteria) area along with seminars in the auditorium and some activities outside.

First and foremost, I want to make sure you know StormFest is FREE and it's open to every member of your family. This is not an event just for adults or weather junkies. It's for young and old alike. You want to learn more about severe storms and how to spot them? Then you'll want to attend our storm spotter seminar presented by the National Weather Service. Need to buy a weather radio and have it programmed? Houchens IGA will be there with tons of radios for $29.99 (plus the cost of 3 AA batteries unless you bring your own) and we'll program it just for your area.

The American Red Cross will be there with preparedness and first aid instruction. For the kids, Jason Lindsey (a WBKO weather alum) will be here from the Bootheel Youth Museum with lots of science and weather experiments. The Bowling Green Air Evac chopper will also do a fly-in and we'll launch an official weather balloon.

In addition, there will be several door prizes given away including some weather radios.

The theme of this year's StormFest is centered around the anniversary of "Spring Storm '98" which happened 10 years ago on April 16th. Can you believe it's been ten years? I still see a few cars being driven around with hail pings! That was a big day in weather history for this region as 4-inch diameter hail fell on Bowling Green followed by over 5-inches of rain and tornadoes that killed and injured many in this area. That's the same day a tornado went through downtown Nashville. We will have a special look back at that day during StormFest with Warren County Emergency Management who witnessed the storm and the resulting damage firsthand.

While you're at StormFest, you'll also be able to test drive some of our weather products such as "WBKO-To-Go", "Fast Alert", "WeatherCall" and more. We have an entire arsenal of products available to you so that you can now take the weather with you at all times.

StormFest will also provide you an opportunity to give us some one-on-one feedback. We're always happy to hear your suggestions - and your gripes. Our goal is to continue to provide you the weather coverage you want and expect. Shane, Matt and I will be there to answer your questions and address your concerns. If there's something you're just dying to ask us or have an idea to toss our way, we want to hear from you at StormFest.

Don't forget, it's this Saturday at Bowling Green High School from 9am to 1pm. Oh, and one more thing...when you arrive at the school, please park in the back lot behind the commons area. The front of Bowling Green High has only a circle driveway and not enough spaces for the hundreds of people that will show up. We will try to have some signs or someone to direct you to the rear of the high school so that you can conveniently park and walk right into the commons area.

I hope to see you and your family at StormFest! CA

Spring Vacation - Part 1
--Monday, March 17, 2008

Ahh…nothin’ better than a Spring Break vacation! Shelia and I had been planning this for a while and we were ready to get away for a while. It’s been two years since we last visited our “second” home in southern Mississippi and after the crazy weather we’ve had, I was ready for a change in scenery and atmosphere.

So many of you appreciated seeing pictures from our last visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast so I made sure we packed the camera in hopes of seeing what progress had been made since hurricane Katrina.

We left Kentucky last weekend with snow still on the ground. And while seeing our first big snow in about ten years was exciting, I was ready to head south and get a taste of a warmer climate.

I think Shelia was ready for warmer times, too…although she looked pretty fantastic dressed to hit the ski slopes!

When you head down I-65 and you cross the Alabama state line, the NASA space rocket is one of the first things you’ll see. Shelia always says when she sees this, she knows she’s on her way back home to Mississippi.

Shelia’s home town, Columbia, Mississippi…population 3500…SAH-LUTE!

Shelia’s smile says it all…she’s home!

My smile says “I left the snow behind me!”

As we turn off US 49 in Gulfport onto US 90 (the Gulf Coast Highway), we begin to see some of what Katrina left behind. There are still hundreds of empty lots where million-dollar homes once stood.

On the other hand, we saw many signs of real progress that we didn’t see two years ago. This was one of many new condo townhouses going up along the coast.

As you travel down US 90 from Gulfport to Biloxi, you see towering condo after condo…certainly a wonderful sign that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is on its way back.

We saw many folks working on new homes right along the Gulf Coast Highway – like this one – while others have decided their not taking any chances and have moved their new homes further inland.

Oh yeah…Biloxi Beach.

Shelia loves it here and so do I. And while most prefer the beaches in Florida, we like it better here. It’s the same sand…the same body of water…the same sky…less hastle.

Let’s see…partly sunny, wind from the south at 12…temperature 72…it’s all good!

A true symbol of hope…the Biloxi Beach lighthouse. It has withstood many a bad storm or two, including Camille in 1969 and Katrina in 2006. On this day, workers were repainting it and adorning it with an American flag.

As the marker shows, this lighthouse has been here since 1848…160 years!

No doubt, both Gulfport and Biloxi still have much work to do putting things back together. Here is one of many piers still left broken by Katrina’s waves.

Despite what you might think, there’s lots of beach open along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And the best part, it’s not crowded!

The casinos appeared to be doing a booming business as we drove along the coast. One of the hardest hit casino hotels during Katrina was the Hard Rock in Biloxi. They were only open two weeks when Katrina hit and they’ve pretty much rebuilt everything the storm took away.

Okay Parrotheads (and Shane Holinde)…here it comes…the Margaritaville Hotel and Casino is under construction and will be opening in 2010. Native Jimmy Buffett certainly has high hopes for business along the Gulf Coast in the coming years.

This was one of the more breathtaking signs of improvement we saw. This is the US 90 bridge that connects Biloxi with Ocean Springs. It was totally destroyed by hurricane Katrina. This new bridge was opened only a few weeks ago. It’s built stronger and much higher than the original bridge in hopes it might survive anything else nature tries to throw its way. Important fact: this bridge was built in record time by many South Central Kentuckians! That’s right, there were dozens of contractors and workers from our area that were instrumental in rebuilding this bridge. This bridge will do more to help rebuild the commerce along the coast than you can imagine!

As you can see, only one lane of the bridge is open at this time. They’re still painting and adding other finishing touches to the bridge before opening all lanes.

Since Katrina hit in 2005, folks along the coast had to detour off US 90 up to I-10 and then back down to rejoin US 90 in Ocean Springs. Now the trip only takes a few minutes with the completion of the bridge and the new approach to the Ocean Springs side.

After a few days at Shelia’s grandmother’s house in southern Mississippi, we head down I-10 to southern Alabama. I’ll post some pictures from that part of our trip in my next post! CA

Finally, Snow!
--Saturday, March 8, 2008

Well, someone got their wish! Those of you who have been asking me for, months about a "good" snow don't have to ask any more. This snow storm will certainly be rememberd for years to come as the one that finally broke the "snow drought" over South Central Kentucky.

And even though some of it has already started to melt away, the totals around the state were impressive. We ended up with 5-inches of snow officially for Bowling Green. And the way the storm tracked, parts of the county saw a little less...others a little more. I live in the southern part of Warren County and measured around 3.5 inches. But as you head further northwest in the county - near Hadley - we had some of our SkyWatchers report almost 6 inches of snow!

We received literally dozens of e-mails and phone calls last night with reports of thundersnow. As I mentioned in my last post - the one just before the snow storm struck - I mentioned that thundersnow was a real possibility. It's a very rare event in which there's so much upper level energy associated with the snow storm it produces lightning and thunder, even though it's cold enough at the surface for snow. Many claim to have heard booms and rumbles of thunder but wasn't sure what it was. Anytime you have thunder with this kind of winter system, look out! It also usually means it has the capability of producing lots of snow...and it did!

Our projections for this storm were pretty much right on target...and yes, we're happy about that! What makes us even happier is that most of you we've heard from are estatic! Most are enjoying this rare treat so much we feel like kids again. I know I've talked with some of you in the past few months wondering if we'd ever see the kind of snows we used to see in our younger days. Remember the snows of the '70's? Yeah, me too...especially that big one of January 1978 when we were out of school for a month!

For those of you who have been persistent readers of my blog or who have heard me talk at spotter classes and classrooms know I am a big believer that weather patterns are cyclical. If you look back through history, there's an overall pattern change about every 30 years. It's not an exact 30 year cycle, but pretty darn close. Let's take the '70's for instance. It was during that time when Time Magazine had a front page spread making claims that we were entering the "next ice age" and global cooling was something we should all be fearful of. During that decade, we had some of the worst winters on record. We also had the worst tornado outbreak on April 3, 1974...still a record yet to be broken. And look what's happened so far this year - near record breaking tornadoes and huge snow events.

I truly believe the 30-year span from the '80's until now was our cyclical warm period. And what have you heard talk of for the past 30 years or so? Global warming. And what did Time Magazine feature on their front cover just last year? The claims of global warming. As we close in on the decade of the 20-teens, we are in transition to a cooler weather cycle. This means for those of us who remember the weather patterns of the '50's, '60's and '70's, they're likely to make a comeback.

Regardless of it all, make time to enjoy the snow and share it's beauty with friends and family. That's what it's all about. And thank all of you who shared your snowy e-mails and photos with us. Also a big thank you to our network of SkyWatchers who kept us up to date with your reports throughout our coverage. Satellites can see up high...radars can see a little lower, but only YOU have the eyes on the ground to see what's really going on and those reports help us so much.

Well, after all this excitement, I'm taking a little vacation. Shelia and I haven't been to visit the kinfolk in Mississippi in a while, so we're headed south next week. Matt will be filling in for me and I will return on the 17th. When I get back, we'll be hitting the ground running with a BUNCH of spotter classes and final preparations for our annual StormFest event on March 29th. I'll see you then! CA

Friday Afternoon Winter Storm Update
--Friday, March 7, 2008 - 3:07pm

Well, it's certainly taking it's sweet time, but hang on kiddies! This winter storm isn't over yet and the biggest punch has yet to be thrown.

This morning's round of mixed precipitation didn't last long and thankfully because surface temperatures were nothing like a couple of Thursdays' ago, we didn't have many travel problems. It was a heavy, wet snow mixed at times with sleet and rain for the most part. However, there were some heavier bands of snow that developed and redeveloped west and north of Bowling Green that produced some 1-inch and 2-inch snow amounts in Grayson, Edmonson and Hardin counties. In fact, Elizabethtown already has 4-inches of snow on the ground as of this writing.

The best moisture and energy with this storm is cranking into high gear right now with exceptionally heavy snow from (of all places) northern Louisiana, much of Arkansas, west Tennessee and running straight up the Mississippi River. This is the area of snow due in here this evening and overnight tonight. The latest computer forecast models indicate not much has changed from earlier projections. If anything, there is a bit of an increase in the projected storm totals for some parts of the region.

One notable change is the upgrade of Monroe, Cumberland, Clinton and Russell counties to our southeast to be included in the Winter Storm Warning. Earlier, a Winter Weather Advisory was posted for this area with projected sleet and snow amounts of 1-2 inches. It appears now that you could see anywhere from 2-4 inches of combined sleet and snow accumulation starting tonight and through midday Saturday for places like Tompkinsville, Burkesville, Albany and Jamestown.

The Louie B. Nunn/Cumberland Parkway corridor east of Bowling Green will likely see a swath of 3-6 inch total sleet/snow accumulation from this storm. In fact, much of the immediate Bowling Green area lies within the region most likely to see anywhere from 3-6 inches storm total snowfall before ending Saturday afternoon.

Anywhere west, northwest or north of Bowling Green still stands the best chance of getting significant "big time" snowfall tonight and Saturday. Those in the Hopkins, Ohio, Breckinridge county areas could see a good 6-10 inches of snow. From Hardin county northward into the Metro Louisville area may see a whopping 10-14 inches of snow by tomorrow! In fact, the latest indications are there could be a brief period of what we call "thundersnow" in that area due to the elevated convective nature of this intense winter storm. Think of it as a thunderstorm in the winter time that can produce heavy amounts of snow. Yep, thunder and lightning as the snow is falling. Pretty incredible.

Everything should begin to die down to flurries by tomorrow afternoon across the region. However, we're not going much, if any above freezing Saturday and everything will stay on the ground for at least a couple of days until we see some moderation. The snow and ice pack itself will keep temperatures fairly cold in the 20s overnight and only near freezing Saturday, back into the 20s Saturday night. Maybe we will get just enough above freezing and see some sun on Sunday to begin the melting process.

Just stay off the roads this weekend if at all possible. This will not be a good time to venture out if you don't have to. CA

Major Winter Storm Heading Our Way
--Thursday, March 6, 2008 - 3:50pm

Just to give everyone a heads-up...a winter storm of significant proportion is heading our way. Shane and I just sat in on a conference call with the National Weather Service and they are using terminology we haven't heard around here in about 10 years.

Late tonight/early Friday morning, precipitation will begin to fall to our west as mostly snow with some sleet and rain mixed in. That first wave of precipitation will move along the Ohio River tomorrow morning causing hazardous driving conditions. For this reason, Christian County Schools have already decided to close Friday and there will be more. Right now, it's looks as if our precipitation will start as mainly rain, but sleet and freezing rain may mix for a short time north and west before it all changes to snow tomorrow during the afternoon rush hour and into the early evening. It will then continue to snow all Friday night and through Saturday until about midday.

This storm has the potential to produce ice and snow amounts of 2-4 inches in the immediate Bowling Green area by midday Saturday. There will be amounts of 4-8 inches...possibly even up to a foot of snow only a few miles to our west and northwest...from Todd and Christian counties northwest through Hopkins and Ohio counties. Lesser amounts of 1-3 inches is expected in our southeastern counties along and south of the Cumberland Parkway.

In addition, strong winds will be associated with this storm causing blowing and drifting snow across the area. The strongest winds may gust from 30-40 mph causing blizzard-like conditions in western Kentucky - something they have not seen there since the 1970's!

There is still some computer forecast model disagreement with this storm and the track and timing could change some - but either way you slice it, we are going to be impacted in our area starting early tomorrow morning to our west and working eastward into the afternoon across Bowling Green and beyond. If this storm tracks further south and east from what we're seeing right now, the amount of snow could be significantly higher than the 2-4 we're "officially" calling for right now.

Everyone should do what they can tonight and the first half of tomorrow to prepare for this winter storm and its impact. I will update you again tomorrow morning if i'm not too busy already! CA

Winter Storm Update
--Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 5:24pm

Well, as I mentioned in my post from this morning, the forecast computer models were having a hard time agreeing on just how this storm would play out. They still disagree to some extent, but are coming closer in agreement with recent runs. All afternoon, I've been consulting with fellow meteorologists and participated in two conference calls with the Paducah and Louisville National Weather Service offices. Then, Shane and I talked this afternoon to bring you this update.

The biggest change we're seeing from this morning is a delay in the start of the precipitation and even more warmer air working into the overall system. Right off the bat I can tell you this is now mostly going to be a RAIN event for Southern Kentucky. That's not to say there won't be a brief period of sleet and/or freezing rain for a time tomorrow, but the overall "event" from start to finish will be primarily rain.

Instead of the precipitation starting early tomorrow morning, it appears now we really won't see anything reaching the ground until a good 6-8 hours later than first anticipated. That's great news for those heading to work or school tomorrow morning (or, bad news if you wanted to get out of school!). There very well may be echoes on the radar in the morning across the area, but most of what we might see won't be reaching the ground as it appears we'll still be too dry at the surface to support any moisture. This will be the main reason for the delay in the start of the actual precipitation. So now we're looking at sometime after 10am or midday tomorrow before we begin to see precipitation fall - and it will most likely start as a brief period of sleet and/or freezing rain for Bowling Green. This will start a little earlier to our west, later to the east of I-65. Then, it should all change to rain as we go into tomorrow afternoon and evening as temperatures by then will be enough above freezing to keep the precipitation liquid. However, further north and northwest, there will be a longer period of frozen precipitation which could lead to some .10-.25" ice accumulations on trees and power lines. Unfortunately, for some of the same people that were hit with last week's ice storm, they could get hit again.

There's still some uncertainty with this entire system, so please check back with us tomorrow morning on AM Kentucky and I will also post an update here for those following along on our web channel. CA

WInter Storm On Thursday?
--Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 8:12am

First of all, the weather spotters class we had scheduled for tomorrow (Thur) evening at Van Meter has been postponed. It will be rescheduled at a later date. Now - the bigger story is that a "Winter Storm Watch" has been placed in effect all day tomorrow into Friday morning for the entire WBKO viewing area. A Winter Storm Watch means there is the "potential" for some accumulation of ice and snow in the area. Some of the computer forecast models we look at have different opinions as to how this will all play out, but here is what we're seeing at the moment: tonight, an arctic high pressure system will move in bringing us low temperatures in the 20s. This will establish lots of cold air over the region. Early tomorrow morning, much warmer Gulf air and moisture will surge northward. Since warm air is lighter than cold air, this warm moisture will override the cold air in place therefore causing a warm air layer just above us. However, near the surface will be a layer of cold air below 32-degrees brought on by tonight's low temperatures. We expect a period of snow to begin to our west and southwest early tomorrow morning spreading eastward. Precipitation may even begin here as snow in the morning until temperatures begin to warm above freezing. However, it's that critical time from morning until midday when we will watch what temperatures do at the surface and just above us as to what precip type we'll get. We're thinking that there could be a period of 2-3 hours in which the snow changes to sleet or freezing rain. This will no doubt cause slick roads - mostly west of us - as people are going to work and school. The longer it takes to transition the warmer air at the surface, the longer the period of frozen precip will last...and therein lies the big question we don't quite have an answer to just yet. If the sleet and freezing rain last much longer, we could have issues with a coating of ice on trees and power lines...possibly up to a quarter-inch thick. As the day progresses, we do see a complete changeover to all rain as we warm at the low levels. However, this warming will not make it much further north along the Ohio River and into northern Kentucky and southern Indiana where they could end up with several inches of ice and snow. If it all comes together, we could see another major ice storm in those areas. Shane will have more on this developing situation this evening as new information comes in and we will fine tune the forecast again for you..and of course, I will be here very early tomorrow morning to keep you up to date on any changing trends with this developing winter storm. CA

Alerting You First, Covering You Best
--Friday, February 15, 2008

I realize that statement may be an opinion to some, but it's the words we live by at WBKO. In just a matter of a week, we've dealt with a tornado outbreak and an ice storm. And while all the long hours makes us a bit tired, we won't complain. After all, there are still volunteers hard at work helping families put what lives they have left back together. For some, the loss is irreplaceable.

For the past week, those of us responsible for alerting you to severe weather have been conducting evaluations of our response. I, for one, am notoriously hard on myself after such events. From the top down, this evaluation starts at the National Weather Service and goes all the way down to emergency responders at the local level. We also do a measure of self-examination after such events here at WBKO.

Since the outbreak of February 5th, we've heard from a rather large number of you who appreciate our severe weather coverage. On the other hand, there are those critical that we could've done better. And while the "nice" e-mails are always welcomed, it's the more critical ones I really pay attention to. While some are straight out rants, some complaints contain a measure of real concern and some good suggestions we have adopted over the years.

I will tell you this...rants, especially those that use foul language, personal attacks or are unsigned by the sender go directly in the trash. In this day and age of e-mail and the internet, anyone can cowardly send an unsigned message literally ripping a person apart. In some instances, character homicide is the intent of the sender. However, if you have a legitimate gripe about something we did or didn't do, we encourage you to send it to us. We will read it and take it to heart.

Each severe weather event makes us pay more attention to detail next time. We evaluate and we re-evaluate. Yes, we found some things we can improve on, but overall, we did our job. We warned our viewers a good three days ahead of time of the potential for severe weather. As February 5th approached, we highlighted the severe weather potential when the Storm Prediction Center raised the risk to "moderate" and we warned everyone that unlike the windstorm of January 29th, this storm had a higher potential for tornadoes. I wrote about the severe weather potential here in the "Corner" (scroll down) not once, but twice. All of us pleaded with everyone to "check your preparedness plans" and "buy a weather radio". During our coverage - which was not only on TV but also live on area radio stations - we kept saying "take cover NOW!" and "don't go to bed yet, this isn't over".

And let's make another thing clear - we are the ONLY television station fully committed to South Central Kentucky's weather. We hear a lot of chatter about "the Nashville stations" or Louisville and Evansville and their coverage. I agree, they all do it well. However, on night's like February 5th, TV markets like Nashville had their hands full with Tennessee twisters and a state primary election. They're always going to focus more on their area than ours. They may give you the impression they are covering this area, but at best they can only give you a glimpse of what's going on right here. Only we can give you the full picture and devote all of our coverage to your hometown.

Please keep this one thing in mind...all of the tools we offer to help you prepare and keep track of severe weather are NO GOOD unless you exercise personal responsibility. No one wants to hear truth like that these days because a growing number of people would rather play the "blame-game". It's always someone else's fault. Truth be told, you now have at your disposal more ways to stay completely informed about the weather than ever before. Most of these tools are FREE from us and require very little effort on your part. Spending $29.95 on a personal weather radio for your home is a very cheap price to pay for what is virtually an INDOOR warning siren!

Our committment is to alert you first and cover you best. We do that better than anyone else - whether locally or regionally. This isn't bragging, it's fact. We've invested in the best weather tools available and have a team with a passion to make sure you know what's going on. And to help make sure that each and every single person in South Central Kentucky is better prepared for the next severe weather event, we will be holding a number of FREE spotter classes and programming weather radios on a regular basis in the coming weeks.

So, let's all use these past three weeks of terrible weather as a lesson. A lesson that ALL of us can learn from. CA

No More Dodging The Bullet
--Friday, February 8, 2005

Like you, I've been amazed at the pictures and footage of the damage from Tuesday's tornado outbreak. While the loss of property will no doubt total into the millions, the loss of life is the hardest to take.

For such a long time it seems, we've been able to "dodge the bullet" when it comes to storms this severe. While we've had some close calls, no storm event since the Super Outbreak of 1974 has been this deadly.

Until this tragic event, most of us recall the Spring Storm of '98 as the worst storm to hit this area in a generation. Can you believe it's been 10 years this April 16th? I still see some hail-battered cars driving around town - and I can still hear the noise those 4-inch chunks of ice made as they pounded the roof. That's a sound I will never forget.

For the most part, episodes of severe weather have been few and far between since then. And I'm afraid that has made us complacent. Right after the '98 storm, everyone wanted to attend a storm spotting class and buy a weather radio. After a while however, the requests for classes and the sales for weather radios went down. And that's how we are. It's human nature.

But complacency often breeds failure. Whether it's failure to prepare or failure to respond, complacency often plays a role. Aside from those who take us seriously any time severe weather threatens, some let us know in colorful ways that weve interrupted their TV program for no good reason. Part of our responsibility at WBKO is to make sure you don't take these storms for granted. Any of them. Some claim it is wrong for us to assume the next storm that hits could be dangerous. We're often accused of "crying wolf" or being on TV for lengths of time just to hear ourselves talk. Tuesday night, we were getting numerous complaints about "split-boxing" our coverage between the severe weather and Super Tuesday election results. It was either not enough about the election or enough about the storms. Suddenly, the hate mail and phone complaints stopped when I delivered the horrible news that three people had just lost their lives in Muhlenberg County.

People started taking us seriously.

We have a big responsibility to let you know what's headed your way and that it could hurt you. Sometimes, it's easy to guage the severity of the storm...most the time, it's not. And that's why for years, you've been hearing us emplore you to attend a spotter class or buy a weather radio. After the '98 storm, we partnered with The Medical Center to purchase a live, real-time Doppler radar. To date, we're still the smallest TV station in the country to have such a system. Recently, we upgraded our entire weather center with the very lastest in weather technology. We've armed our website with an entire arsenal of tools you can download to your PC or take with you on your mobile device.

Please, take advantage of these opportunities to prepare yourself. It's not a matter of "if"'s a matter of "when". We are currently scheduling spotter safety classes with the National Weather Service all across the area in the coming weeks and months. "StormFest", which launched sucessfully last year will return again this March where you and your entire family can attend and learn everything you need to know about protecting what means most to you. Go get a weather radio if you don't already have one. They're only $29.95 at any Houchens, IGA or Jr. Food Store in the area. It's a proven lifesaver.

The people that died, suffered injury or lost property this past Tuesday didn't deserve what hit one does. Our thoughts and prayers are with each of them and for any of you that has had to deal with the blow the storm brought your way. For some, it's an inconvenience. For others, it will change their lives forever.

WBKO, along with the American Red Cross is asking for your help. Today and tomorrow at our station, you can "drive in and drop off" your cash or check donation to help the families in our area affected by the storm. We will be here from 10am to 6pm today and 10am to 2pm Saturday at our studios on Russellville Road and the Natcher Parkway (exit 5). Whatever you can give will go a long way to putting these people's lives back together. Thank you and God bless the people of South Central Kentucky! CA

Viewer Feedback
"Chris, thanks for all the work that you and the storm team do. I was not directly affected by the tornado or winds, but we were tuned in all night. I didn't realize how bad the damage was until we took a visit to Muhlenberg County over the weekend. It is pure chaos, I couldn't imagine not having any warning of what was about to happen.Thank you for all your hard work and long nights.May God bless you!" - Judy

"Just wanted to let you know, you said something a couple of years ago during a severe storm that I have been wanting to comment on since. You had said that because of the tornado outbreak in 74 that you had decided to become a weather man. I was 4 when the tornado hit, and it has left an impact on me. I am not scared of storms, but I do respect them. I am originally from Xenia, Ohio. If you can't remember any details about that, it can be found on internet. Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know that someone that definately knows what you are talking about is out here listening to you. Thank you for all the times that you don't leave us when you can. Even my 2 girls got excited the other day and said, when they heard your voice take over the broadcast, that we would be okay, cause Chris was there. I don't mean that you are God, but we can trust the 13 team. Thanks for all that you do."
Chrissy and family


Update on Severe Weather Threat
--8:00am Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Things still look to go downhill as we get into this evening and late tonight across South Central Kentucky. SPC (Storm Prediction Center) keeps most of our area west of I-65 in a MODERATE RISK for severe storms and tornadoes while the rest of the area is under a SLIGHT RISK. A rare HIGH RISK of severe storms and long-track tornadoes has been posted now for portions of Soutwest Tennessee, Northwest Mississippi and much of Eastern and Central Arkansas. This is where the tornado threat will be highest (see the latest SPC severe weather threat here).

This morning's round of thunderstorms along the Ohio River was caused by a southward sag in the cold front to our north tapping into a surface moisture axis which is rich in abundant moisture. There have been reports of street flooding in Henderson with cars stalled in an underpass. There were also reports of penny-sized hail and wind gusts of 60 mph as the storms blew through. It appears that line will continue to move north and east parallel with the Ohio River although some of that activity could drift further south into our northern counties as the morning wears on.

Not much else has changed from my last post except the window in which I think we will see the cold front move through. The latest computer forecast models are hinting that we could get a few cloud breaks from time to time this afternoon which would add to the instability already in place. And for this time of year, it doesn't take much sun energy to fuel severe storms - so only a little sun will go a long way to fire these storms up. I anticipate seeing a second wave of mostly isolated to widely scattered single-cell or multicellular thunderstorms during the afternoon hours, especially to our west and southwest. These are the kind of storms that would become severe very rapidly throwing down damaging winds, large hail and even a few tornadoes - moreso in the HIGH RISK outlook area. Then as night falls, the cold front moves in and all the individual storms begin to congeal into one long squall line of intense thunderstorms moving west to east. This will be similar to what we saw last Tuesday in that any storm in the squall line may contain up to 70mph+ winds which will cause widespread wind damage. We will also be watching for bowing segments within the squall line. These will be key to spotting possible weak tornado spin-ups along the line as it passes through.

It now appears the squall line - followed by the cold front won't pass through until around midnight or shortly thereafter. This means it will be a mostly nighttime severe weather event so make sure you've reviewed preparedness plans for you, your family and co-workers today before the weather turns nasty. Stay connected here and I may have another update later if time - and weather allows. CA

It Could Be Last Tuesday All Over Again
--Monday, February 4, 2008

Here we go again! We could be looking at another round of severe weather as we head into Tuesday afternoon and evening. Last Tuesday (Jan. 29th), there were nearly 100 reports of wind damage across Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, southern Illinois and Indiana. In a few cases, there were winds in excess of 70mph (hurricane force) and at least a couple of places that saw winds up to 90mph. These winds produced tornado-like damage to places like Mt. Hermon on the Barren/Monroe county line and near U of L's campus in Louisville (see a recap with pictures here).

The Storm Prediction Center has already placed all of Western, South Central and parts of Central Kentucky under a MODERATE RISK for severe storms Tuesday afternoon and evening (see the risk map and discussion here). What this means is there is a little higher probability than last week of getting damaging winds and even a few tornadoes in our area tomorrow.

What makes this system a little more troublesome than last week's is the amount of added moisture and instability. By this I mean we will be seeing a lot of unseasonably warm, moist air surging under a cold, winter air mass to the north. We could be flirting with record high temperatures tomorrow across the region. I am predicting 72 as a high for Bowling Green, but it wouldn't be impossible for us to tie the record of 75 on Tuesday set in 1927. That's way too warm for February - and that kind of warmth at the surface combined with cold air aloft causes atmospheric instability. Here's something else to watch...if we see any amount of sunshine tomorrow morning/early afternoon before the cold front arrives, that will only add to the instability and could make the late afternoon/evening thunderstorms even more severe.

Heavy rains will also be a concern with this particular storm as we could see some 1 to 3 inch amounts in the area. While the rainfall forecast from the HPC (Hydrometeorological Prediction Center) paints an overall picture of .75 to 1.50" of rain in South Central Kentucky (see HPC map here), there could be some locations that receive more than that.

So, here's how I see Tuesday taking shape: we will start the day with a few scattered showers as we did this morning. Then, there will be a bit of a lull in the rainfall and may even see some sunshine breaking through the clouds around midday. Remember, any amount of sunshine we get will only add to the instability. If we stay cloudy or keep the rain in here, there will be less of a tornado threat later on. However, the cold front with the worst of the damaging wind and tornado threat will move through Bowling Green sometime between 5 and 7pm local time. But unlike last Tuesday, this front appears to be moving at a slower pace which means instead of a quick blow, this severe weather event could last several hours.

Each of you should check your severe weather preparedness plans and continue to monitor WBKO for the latest updates. We have a full arsenal of severe weather tools for you to use on your PC, your cell phone or PDA on our weather page. This would also be a great time to get a weather radio and have it ready to monitor any watches or warnings that might be issued. Shane will have another assessment of the severe weather potential tonight on WBKO at 5, 6 and 10 and I will update you again early tomorrow morning. And stay connected right here because we are going to Alert You First and Cover You Best! CA

The Allen Challenge: Week 12, The End of Phase 1
--Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I can’t believe it’s here…the final week of “The Allen Challenge”. Actually, it’s the end of what I call “phase one” of the challenge. I hope to challenge myself by staying fit and healthy for the rest of my life. I’m sure some of you are betting that I will gain it all back – and that’s fine. Have fun. It’s very possible I could, but I’m going to do everything I can to not ever go back to where I was. Today, Travis puts me on the elliptical for a few minutes and then it’s back to lifting weights. But the old problem with my left knee has returned. All I did was take a weird step and it was a stabbing pain underneath my left knee. That’s why it’s good to have the physical therapy folks standing by at Total Fitness Connection. They took a look at it and found some inflammation so I will ice it down a few times tonight and tomorrow and all should be fine. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk. Morning snack: Lean Cuisine pepperoni pocket. Lunch: Subway 6” lean turkey sandwich, Lay’s Light potato chips and Diet Coke. Supper: Homemade chili made with lean ground beef.

Travis says we’re going to take it a little easy today until my knee feels better. It doesn’t feel too bad so I get back on the elliptical for a while and then the treadmill. Today’s Diet: Honey Bunches of Oats cereal with skim milk for breakfast. Morning Snack: Apple slices and grapes with orange juice. Lunch: Lean Cuisine cheese pizza with Coke Zero. Supper: Leftover chili.

Wednesday weigh-in: 251 lbs. (-3 pounds over last week -32 lbs. total)

Yes! Another three pounds which puts me over 30 total pounds lost! This is really what I wanted from the beginning…to show at least a 30 pound loss for the 12 weeks. I told most people I wanted to lose between 30 and 40 pounds and it has worked! Through all the holidays, the times I “fell off the diet wagon”, the times I whined and moaned about exercising or denying myself of some of the foods I used to eat…it has all paid off. I pictured what 32 pounds lost might look and feel like…and I can tell you it’s even better than I imagined! I miss my workout today because of a day-long department head meeting. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk. Lunch: baked chicken with green beans and Irish potatoes, iced tea with Splenda. Supper: Tossed salad with grilled chicken, toast and iced tea.

Today, I get a late start working out and Travis has already left for the day. But I know what to do as he has trained me well. I workout on the elliptical for 30 minutes and then do a few leg extensions, abdominals and some free weights. Then I head over to the treadmill to round out the last 20 minutes. Today’s Diet: Sausage and scrambled eggs with orange juice for breakfast. Morning Snack: Apple slices and grapes. Lunch: Lean Cuisine Pepperoni Pizza with Coke Zero. Supper: Applebee’s house salad with 2 mini-burgers and Diet Coke.

Well, here it is…the official end of “The Allen Challenge: Phase 1”. I must say that when I started this challenge, it was hard for me to envision losing more than 30 pounds…but here I am! This morning at Total Fitness, we spent a long time shooting video for the big finale which will air next Wednesday on AM Kentucky. It will be a retrospective of the entire 12 weeks – all the ups and downs of my exercise and lifestyle change – along with (I’ve been told) a few surprises I don’t know about. Words cannot begin to express my gratitude to Total Fitness Connection for what they’ve done to encourage me, slap my hand when needed and get me back up on that healthy horse and stay fit! But we’re not quite done yet. Stay connected to WBKO as the 2nd phase of the Allen Challenge is announced next Wednesday. I can tell you that you might be surprised to learn what I’m doing next. I can’t believe I’m taking this next challenge on!!

The Allen Challenge: Week 11
--Saturday, January 19, 2008

The countdown is on…only two weeks left in “the Challenge”. I must say, if it ended today, I’d be incredibly happy with the results. Today, trainer Travis puts me on the elliptical for 30 minutes and then it’s more weights the remaining time. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana for breakfast. Morning snack: Apple slices and grapes with orange juice. Lunch: A plain Sonic hamburger with lettuce, pickle, ketchup and mustard with a Diet Coke. Supper: leftover homemade potato soup.

It’s another 30 minute cardio workout on the elliptical today followed by lots of weightlifting with Travis. As a matter of fact, Travis is dressed down in his gym clothes when I arrive at Total Fitness today and is in the midst of his daily workout. He is in the power weight section of the gym lifting what I call “big boy” weights that I have no business trying. But, you know me, Mr. Curiosity has to give it a try…so I go over and attempt to lift the big weights resting on the rack. Travis first shows me the proper way to lift without hurting myself and I give it a try. I think I lifted it a few inches and set it back down. Then Travis tells me I just lifted 350 pounds! Guys like him who are cut and have “guns” the size of cantaloupes make it look easy. I don’t think I will ever be on that level, nor do I want to be…but it was fun just to give it a try. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk for breakfast. Morning Snack: Lean Pocket Parmesan Chicken with orange juice. Lunch: 6” Subway Roast Beef sandwich with Lay’s Light potato chips and Diet Coke. Supper: O’Charley’s salad with 1 potato skin, 2 chicken tenders and no yeast rolls (I love them, but my weigh-in is tomorrow!).

Wednesday weigh-in: 254 lbs. (-4 pounds over last week -29 lbs. total)

Yeah baby…back in the game! Another four pounds lost since last week and I feel fantastic! What’s even better is that I know this last week-and-a-half will be much easier with a faster metabolism and no holiday foods to get in my way. Today, I do very little cardio as Travis wants me to work in the weight room. I do leg extensions, leg crunches and actual dead-lifts. They weren’t “clean” lifts, but I lifted 135 pounds from the floor to my waist about 12 times. Today’s Diet: Scrambled eggs and sausage with orange juice. Morning Snack: Lean Pocket chicken with Coke Zero. Lunch: A plain Sonic hamburger with a double-berry smoothie (these are great…a combination of strawberries and raspberries with no-fat yogurt). Supper: Zaxby’s Zak Snak chicken dinner with fries and Coke Zero.

Severe weather hits today and I am busy from sunup to sundown. I was supposed to be at several meetings and workout today, but the weather turned nasty early on…so I had to cancel everything I had planned including going to the gym. This also threw my diet off a bit as I started the day with no problem but didn’t really eat lunch until around 3:30. This is the first time anything like this has happened through the entire Challenge. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink and skim milk for breakfast. Late Lunch: 6” Jimmy John’s Roast Beef sandwich and Coke Zero. Late Supper: Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar with a cup of white chicken chili.

I am still rather tired from yesterday’s severe weather but look forward to getting back into the gym since I didn’t get to go. Today, Travis puts me back in the weight room to do a variety of reps. And, there’s a camera following me as we’re taping parts of my routine for the “big finish” of the Allen Challenge. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. Morning snack: Lean Pocket chicken with orange juice. Lunch: Long John Silvers baked fish with Diet Coke. Supper: Puerto Vallarta Mexican burritos with refried beans and rice.

I spent much of today at the Medical Center Health and Wellness Expo programming radios and talking to many of you about my weight loss and exercise program. I start the day with some coffee and a sausage biscuit. That was followed by a Lean Cuisine pita bread sandwich with chicken and a Longhorn steak with baked potato and salad.

Shelia is very sick today – probably with the virus that’s going around – so we stay home and veg out all day. For breakfast, I have a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with skim milk. That is followed by two whole wheat burritos stuffed with lettuce and vegetables, lean beef and refried beans. For supper, Shelia’s feeling better and wants a real good hamburger. It’s been a while since I’ve had one, too so I go to Toots and order two of their hamburgers with some curly fries. Believe it or not, I couldn’t finish it all!

The Allen Challenge: Week 10
--Monday, January 7, 2008

Here we go…it’s New Year’s Eve…the last of the big holidays. If you’ve been following along, you know I usually stay flat or only loose a little during weeks there have been holidays. The good news is, at least, I have not gained. I’ve been told that’s a pretty good feat. Still, I wish I was a little further along than I am. Those times I’ve lost 5 to 7 pounds in a week were sweet. But, I’ve been reassured by Travis and the rest of the crew at Total Fitness Connection that I’m pacing quite well. I am off work again today but I want to make sure I don’t miss working out. Travis has me cardio-up today, so it’s 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 on the treadmill. Today’s Diet: Egg Beaters scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast, turkey bacon and orange juice. Lunch: Lean Cuisine chicken parmesan with rice. Supper: Cracker Barrel catfish with green beans and corn with Sugar-free Apple pie for dessert.

Happy new year! And to think, I’ve got a jump on what most people use as a new year resolution – losing weight. I am hoping to stay much slimmer and healthier in 2008 than I did in ’07 or in any other year past. I do go to workout today even though it would be easy to stay home. Today’s Diet: Oh’s honey nut cereal with skim milk and orange juice. Lunch: Sonic plain hamburger with mustard, ketchup and lettuce and about six tater tots. Supper: Whole wheat spaghetti with Ragu Heart Healthy sauce and a side salad.

Wednesday weigh-in: 258 lbs. (-2 ounces over last week -25 lbs. total)

Well, it’s Travis’ turn to be on AM Kentucky for the weigh in so that must mean I won’t show a loss. Turns out, I didn’t drop pounds, but I did drop ounces! I’ll take it! When I get to Total Fitness, Travis has me spend only 5 minutes on the treadmill and then moves me right in to the weight room. He is increasing the weights each time and I’m really feeling it in my arms, legs and chest. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. Morning snack: Lean Pocket Ham and cheese with orange juice. Lunch: Lean Cuisine Pepperoni pizza with Coke Zero. Supper: Homemade chili.

At the gym today, Travis puts me on the elliptical for 30 minutes followed by a special round of weights. I go through a number of reps at each machine…abdominals, deltoid flys, leg crunches and back stretches. Today’s Diet: scrambled eggs and sausage with Diet Coke. Morning Snack: grapes and apple slices with orange juice. Lunch: Lean Cuisine lasagna. Supper: Leftover chili.

Just when I think there’s nothing new to learn, Travis shows me a few other machines at Total Fitness today. He says he wants me to learn how to operate the various weight machines around the facility so that I can fashion my own workout once “the Challenge” is over. I found a few of these really challenging…such as the abdominal crunch which really burns those belly muscles! Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk. Morning snack: Apple slices and grapes with orange juice. Lunch: 2 McDonalds grilled chicken wraps and a Diet Coke. Supper: Homemade potato soup with ground turkey sausage.

Not much going on today. Before Shelia and I head to the grocery store, we grab some breakfast at Ryan’s. I find it fascinating the number of people who give me funny looks when I show up to eat at a buffet restaurant. Again it’s about portions and choices. You can still go to your favorite place to eat as long as you eat right. For breakfast, I have some fruit along with scrambled eggs, one biscuit with about a tablespoon of gravy and some bacon. Lunch: Lean Cuisine cheese pizza with Coke Zero. Supper: Shelia and I head over to Barren River Lake and eat at the Driftwood Restaurant located in the Louie B. Nunn Lodge. I had baked chicken with green beans, a vegetable medley, salad and about a cup of banana pudding (hey…it has fruit in it!!)

I want it noted here that I chose to go workout today. That’s right, I wanted to go workout, so I did. This is a big deal for me because I’ve looked at the past 10 weeks as something I had to do. There’s a part of me that needs the accountability which is why I did this challenge on TV with you watching and keeping me on track. Then there’s a part of me that wants to do this on my own without anyone telling me what to do or how to do it. And just like with any thing else you learn in life, you ultimately have to take what you’ve learned and apply it. Today gave me a taste of that and I enjoyed it. I put in my hour with 30 minutes on the elliptical and another 30 on the treadmill. Today, I run house audio at Hillvue and breakfast is provided. They told me that just for the Allen Challenge, someone had brought in some yogurt, fruit and cereal so that we could make our own low-fat parfaits. While I did have one pig-in-a-blanket, the parfait was delicious and actually filled me up. Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with low-fat honey mustard. Supper: Dorito’s multigrain tortilla chips with refried bean spread and low-fat cheese.

The Allen Challenge: Week 9
--Monday, January 31, 2007

It’s Christmas Eve and I know I need to go workout…but there’s still a lot of shopping to do. As hard as I tried to make it to Total Fitness Connection before they closed, I didn’t succeed. This could hurt me on Wednesday when I weigh in after the Christmas holiday. I also know I’m going to eat well tonight and tomorrow which I’m worried could cause a gain of a pound or two. This will be the first time I have missed a workout during the entire Challenge. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk and a banana. Morning snack: Lean Pocket ham and cheese with orange juice. Lunch: McDonald’s chicken wrap with Diet Coke. Supper: Healthy Choice sirloin beef tips with green beans and apple dessert.

Ahh…Christmas Day and there’s food a-plenty! This cannot bode well for the weigh-in tomorrow but I will do my best to exercise potion control over what I eat today. Today’s Diet: Sausage balls (not sure how many) dipped in mustard for breakfast. Lunch & Supper combined: Chicken and dumplin’s with dressing, green beans, corn and yeast rolls. Also, some of Shelia’s homemade fudge for dessert.

Wednesday weigh-in: 258 lbs. (-1 lb. from last week -25 lbs. total)
I have never been more surprised! I was certain I would have gained a pound or two from the weekend and especially Christmas dinner. Plus, I haven’t worked out at Total Fitness since Friday. But you could’ve pushed me over with a feather when I saw the scales! Travis was especially happy as I walked in to Total Fitness today and gave me good “high-five”. To keep the momentum going, he puts me 30 minutes on elliptical and 30 minutes in the weight room. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk. Morning snack: Lean Pocket scrambled egg and sausage with orange juice. Lunch: Lean Cuisine three-meat pizza with side salad and Coke Zero. Supper: Christmas Day dinner leftovers (still yummy!).

It’s back to the elliptical for 30 minutes and in the weight room for the last half-hour today. Trainer Travis tells me he wants to continue building muscle while I also continue to burn calories with cardio training. Today’s Diet: Scrambled eggs and sausage with orange juice. Lunch: 6” Subway lean turkey sandwich with Lay’s Light potato chips and Coke Zero. Supper: Charbroiled chicken in a whole wheat tortilla wrap with lettuce, low-fat cheese and honey mustard.

Ahh…it feels good to have a day off. I have plenty to do around the house but I also want to make time for my workout. No big changes with today’s workout except I choose to run a while on the treadmill instead of the elliptical, then another 30 minute workout in the weight room. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk. Morning snack: Lean Pocket Ham and Cheese with orange juice. Lunch: Chick-Fil-A Charbroiled chicken sandwich with fruit cup and Coke Zero. Supper: Whole wheat spaghetti with Ragu Heart Healthy sauce and low-fat Itallian bread and iced tea.

I feel some extra energy today and the weather looks good – so I think I will clean the garage! I know that doesn’t sound like the way to spend a Saturday but it needs to be done and I can’t find any of my power tools. I spend a good six hours working on the garage and a sense of satisfaction knowing it’s done and I had the energy to do it. I guess I can count this as a workout, can’t I?? Sure thing…I know I burned some calories. Today’s Diet: Cracker Barrel breakfast with one pancake, sugar-free syrup, turkey sausage and Egg Beaters scrambled eggs. Lunch: Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza with Coke Zero. Supper: Healthy Choice Salisbury steak with green beans, mashed potatoes and apple crisp.

I run audio at church today so I start the morning with some coffee and a banana knowing there will be breakfast served at church. Today’s Diet: One biscuit with a half-cup of gravy, egg casserole, sausage and a variety of fruit with orange juice. Lunch: Peanut butter sandwich with grapes and apple slices. Supper: Longhorn steak with baked potato and salad.

The Allen Challenge: Week 8
--Monday, December 24, 2007

I feel good about this past weekend. I’m hoping for a good weigh-in this Wednesday since there was not a loss last week. The challenge will be to keep water weight down while trying to sweat off as many calories as I can. The key to this is cardio. Trainer Travis says that if I do a lot of weight training, I’m more likely to store water in my muscles which would result in a gain of weight due to muscle mass. So, it’s back on the treadmill and elliptical to get the heart rate up and sweat out any weekend calories. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk and a banana for breakfast. Morning snack: Apple slices and grapes with orange juice. Lunch: Subway turkey sandwich with Lay’s Light potato chips and Diet Coke. Supper: Homemade chili with low-fat cheese and Coke Zero.

More cardio today in the gym as we work to sweat out any calories gained over the weekend. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk for breakfast. Morning snack: Apple slices and grapes with orange juice. Lunch: A peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat with a banana and water. Supper: Lean Cuisine three-meat pizza with a side salad and Coke Zero.

Wednesday weigh-in: 259 lbs. (-4 lbs. from last week -24 lbs. total)

Here we go…back on track! 24 pounds in 8 weeks. And even though I didn’t set a number for total weight loss by the end of the Challenge, I was hoping for at least a 30 pound loss at the end of the 12 weeks – and this pretty much puts me on pace. Now that the cardio workouts have proven successful, Travis has me on the elliptical for 30 minutes and in the weight room for the remaining 30. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk. Lunch: Subway turkey sandwich with Lay’s Light potato chips and a Diet Coke. Supper: Leftover chili and Coke Zero.

I can see Christmas looming in the distance and that means less time to exercise and more time to indulge in foods not really in my diet. Now I know why we decided to call this “The Allen Challenge” because it really is. Trainer Travis has me work a half-hour on the elliptical and then another 30 minutes in the weight room. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk. Lunch: Lean Cuisine chicken Panini with iced tea. Supper: Domino’s thin crust pizza with pepperoni and a small salad.

More time on the treadmill and elliptical today along with some weights to keep the cardio going while building muscle mass. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix chocolate drink with skim milk and apple slices. Lunch: Subway tuna salad sandwich, Lay’s Light potato chips and a Diet Coke. Supper: Logan’s 7-oz. steak with baked potato, salad and iced tea.

It’s been a while since we’ve had breakfast at Craker Barrel, so Shelia and I have a light breakfast. I had one pancake with sugar-free syrup, Egg Beaters scrambled eggs and turkey sausage. Lunch was leftover chili with Dorito’s multigrain tortilla chips. Supper: Longhorn Salmon with baked potato and salad.

I ran audio at church today, so breakfast was provided. I had one biscuit with gravy (it’s been a while) along with a slice of breakfast casserole and fruit. Lunch was leftover pizza slices from Thursday and Coke Zero. Supper: Last of the leftover chili (it’s finally gone).

My Christmas Wish
--Sunday, December 23, 2007

Well, this has been quite a year. In many ways, I'm happy to see 2007 go. Don't get me wrong...I am thankful. But this year really tested my faith and tried my patience.

Sometimes, I feel so out of place with modern times. I often tell people I feel I should have been born in a different era - maybe 20 or 30 years earlier. When I watch an old movie or listen to a vintage radio show, I imagine myself there. In black and white, I see myself through the grainy film wearing a freshly pressed suit leaning proudly against the wall with a look that would make Cary Grant jealous.

The other day on my satellite radio, I came across one of the old Bing Crosby Chesterfield Christmas Shows from 1949. How wonderful it sounded as Bing's silky smooth voice bellowed from the speakers "White Christmas". To me, he was the best of the best. Shelia and I enjoy listening to his music and watching those great "Road To..." movies which also featured the great Bob Hope. As I listened, I imagined myself transformed in time and wishing I was there.

As Bing's show continued, he asked that listeners "gather a little closer to the radio" as he was about to tell "the greatest story ever told". But before he began, Mr. Crosby "had a word for parents listening". He said "you know, I am concerned about today's young people and what they're getting into. Why, it seems they never listen to us anymore and they never take the time to read a good book. I know many of you often wonder what's happening to our generation".

Isn't it funny? In 1949, people were asking many of the same questions we ask today. Problems, it seems, are generational. But it made me realize I only "think" I might be happier if I lived in that period of time. There is no guarantee. That's right, happiness is not guaranteed to anyone. I may think living in that era would make me a happier person, but it probably wouldn't. I also think having more money would make me happier. But these things cannot bring a true, lasting happiness - only temporary satisfaction.

Joy is what I'm longing for. I see it displayed all around me this holiday season. I hear it in the song "Joy To The World". But have I really listened? Have I really taken the words at heart? No, instead, I have relied on "things" to make me happy. How many of us look to our wives, husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends to make us happy? Guess what? It's not their job. How many of us stare down at our paycheck (especially this time of year when you're hoping for a nice little bonus - i.e. Clark Griswold) only to see even more of your hard-earned money leave your hand? Well, it's not even your employer's job to make you happy.

Happiness is up to you. Joy is found in the One who came that Christmas night long ago. And when you realize that kind of joy - that peace that passes all understanding - you also find strength. Now, some of you will get bent out of shape if I mention God or Jesus Christ, so go ahead and send your complaint to my boss...he's used to it. But I would be derelict in duty as a follower of Jesus Christ if I didn't tell you my joy is found in Him. I do find a portion of joy in my my wife and my friends and even in some of the things I possess. But there is nothing that compares with the joy I find in the Lord. I find problems crop up in my life when I allow the wants and needs of my flesh to interfere with the wants and needs of my Spirit. Joy comes in the morning but sometimes finds a way to catch the next flight out of town by sunset.

My Christmas wish to you is that you not only find happiness, but true joy in the coming new year. Find a way to put others needs above your own. View what problems you may have from a different perspective...see them in God's hands instead of yours. Look, I am not preaching to you at all - I'm writing this stuff down so I can remember it, too!

You all have been so incredible to me this year. You will never know how much you have blessed me as a community. I wish nothing more than for you and your family to reap blessing upon blessing as we say goodbye to 2007 and welcome 2008. May God richly bless you! CA

The Allen Challenge: Week 7
--Monday, December 17, 2007

I go to Total Fitness today knowing I probably overate this weekend due to the Christmas parades. There was just too much temptation! I’m really exhausted from the weekend’s activities but I know I’ve got to work extra hard today to have something positive come out of this Wednesday’s weigh-in. Travis wants me to sweat it off so it’s on to the treadmill and elliptical machine. Today’s Diet…Apex fit mix drink for breakfast with a banana. A Mexican Lean Pocket and orange juice for my mid-morning snack. For lunch, a plain Arby’s roast beef sandwich, a potato wedge and a Diet Coke.

Travis has me return to the elliptical and treadmill today in hopes of shedding the extra “goodies” I had from the weekend. I feel good about tomorrow simply from the amount of sweat generated from today’s workout. I know it’s not all about the sweat, but the more water weight I can lose, the better the results will be. Today’s Diet…scrambled eggs and sausage with orange juice. Apple slices and water for mid-morning snack. Lunch was two whole wheat tortilla shells with broiled chicken chunks, lettuce, fat-free cheese and low-fat honey mustard with a Coke Zero. Supper was Applebee’s house salad with Thousand Island dressing, some chips and salsa and two mini-Cheeseburgers.

Wednesday weigh-in: 263 lbs. (no change since last week)
DRATS!! No change in weight from last week to this week. On the positive side, it’s not a gain. But on the negative, it’s a personal disappointment. I know I shouldn’t look at it that way, but I am a results-oriented person…and when I don’t get results, I get upset. My suspicions early on were correct: I blew it over the weekend. I also feel bad that this is the second time trainer Travis has appeared on AM Kentucky for the weigh in and both times, I’ve held steady. I will not lie to you…this is very discouraging, but I only have myself to blame. Travis has shown me the correct way to exercise and Sarah has explained to me the proper way to diet. At least for me, one will not work without the other. And it seems that when I slack off in one area, it takes away from the other. It really is give-and-take. I go to workout late today and my strength is about gone. It’s mostly elliptical and treadmill and it’s all I can do to keep pace for the entire hour. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink and apple slices for breakfast…Lunch is a Chick-Fil-A charbroiled chicken sandwich with fruit cup and Coke Zero…Supper is whole wheat Spaghetti with Ragu Heart Healthy sauce and Coke Zero.

Travis changes things up a bit today with 30 minutes of elliptical and the rest of my time is on the machines doing abdominals, back stretches and flys. Today’s Diet is a Mexican Lean Pocket and orange juice for breakfast…A turkey on whole wheat sandwich from Subway with Baked Lay’s potato chips and a Diet Coke for lunch. Supper is a Lean Cuisine three-meat pizza with a side salad and Coke Zero.

To change things up a bit, my workout begins with 30 minutes on the treadmill followed by another 30 minutes on the elliptical. I find I can get into the workout much better if I’m not doing the same thing the same way each time. Even if it’s just swapping up the order of things, it helps the time pass more quickly. Today’s Diet: scrambled eggs and bacon with orange juice for breakfast. For lunch, the station is providing some great food from The Brickyard Café for our staff Christmas party. I had about a 4oz. serving of roast beef, a 4oz. serving of baked chicken, a salad and lots of green beans with carrots. While there were a ton of desserts to choose from, I only had one serving of Miss Mary’s strawberry pretzel surprise. She makes it every year and I just can’t pass it up! For supper I was craving Mexican, so Shelia and I went to Puerto Vallarta’s and had a beef burrito with beans and rice, lots of lettuce (no cheese) and some chips and salsa.

We’re finally done with Christmas parades but Shane Holinde and I will be programming weather radios today in Horse Cave and Munfordville. So, I start the day with a good breakfast of Kroger Strawberry Mini-Wheats, skim milk and a banana. For lunch, we were steered to Snappy’s Pizza and Pasta in Horse Cave. What a great recommendation! I had a side salad with a hearty portion of baked chili spaghetti. Shane had a Stromboli (which looked awesome, but probably not a good “Challenge” choice for me). Any way you slice it, Snappy’s is an Italian delight – very clean and priced right – located right at the corner of 31W and 218 in Horse Cave. For supper, Shelia and I had roast beef and turkey wraps made with whole wheat tortillas.

This is my Sunday “off” from running audio at church, so Shelia and I attend the 9:30 service at Hillvue. We start the day with a simple scrambled egg (Egg Beaters), turkey bacon and mixed fruit breakfast. I was craving fish, so we went to the Catfish House for lunch. I start with a fresh side salad, then had only one-and-a-half pieces of catfish (out of three) along with a baked potato and a serving of white beans. Shelia couldn’t finish her plate either so we boxed up the rest of the fish to take home. For supper, I had some of the leftover spaghetti we fixed Wednesday.

The Allen Challenge: Week 6
--Friday, December 14, 2007

We’re now officially half-way through “The Allen Challenge”. I’ve decided that when I can, I’m moving my workout time to mornings when my energy is best. The two days last week I worked out around 9am were the best for me and I plan to keep it that way unless meetings or weather events prevent that from happening. Today, trainer Travis wants to make sure I burn a ton of calories before the Wednesday weigh-in…so, it’s on to the elliptical. He and I both have been worried about the condition of my knees and legs over the past few weeks and so we’ve been testing my endurance on the elliptical. Last week, I couldn’t go more than 15 minutes on that machine without some kind of knee pain or stiffness. Today, I went an entire hour and burned over 800 calories! Six weeks ago if someone would’ve told me that I would workout an entire hour on an elliptical machine, I would have laughed in their face. Day by day, I seem to be busting all the myths about exercise I had placed before myself. And yes, I will have to admit, there are times when I actually look forward to working out now. I never, ever thought I would feel that way. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink and apple slices with orange juice for breakfast…a Pepperoni Pizza Lean Pocket with a small salad for lunch and 2 Healthy Choice Chicken Quesadillas with 5 Dorito’s Multigrain tortilla chips with salsa and a Coke Zero.

Trainer Travis tells me today’s workout will be a little different. He hooks me up with Ricky Foxall who some of you might remember from the local “Biggest Loser” competition. He weighed 459 pounds but lost 172 pounds by changing his diet and starting a regular workout routine at Total Fitness Connection. Ricky suggests we do about 15 minutes on the elliptical and move on to a toning class conducted by Total Fitness instructor Deana Wilson. I tell Ricky I’m not too big on any kind of class that looks or sounds like aerobics. It’s just not the direction I want to go…but these are the professionals and they haven’t steered me wrong yet, so I reluctantly give in. We did squats and leg lifts and squeezes and foot lifts and…I can’t remember what else. All I know is, I did sweat a lot and it hurt. Yes, I admit it was quite a workout and I’m sure it produced results, but I really hated it. I’d much rather get on the treadmill or elliptical, plug in my headphones, tune out the rest of the world (except the TV) and truck on. Ricky says he wants us to workout together again this Friday. We’ll see. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink and apple slices for breakfast…a Mexican Lean Pocket and orange juice for the morning snack. For lunch I had two whole wheat burrito shells with lean roast beef slices, lettuce and fat free cheese inside along with a Coke Zero. For supper, Shelia and I were in town so we stopped at Applebee’s and had a hearty salad and I ate just one and a half mini-burgers with Diet Pepsi. The large salad really filled me up and it’s the first time I can remember not being able to finish two mini-burgers!

Wednesday weigh-in: 263 lbs. (net loss -20 lbs…-5 lbs since last week)
YES! 20 pounds lost in 6 weeks! I am so happy!!! The reality of real weight loss and eating more healthy has set in. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few pitfalls (i.e. the week of Thanksgiving), but all in all, it’s been worth all the sweat and tears. What is most amazing to me is that I’ve gone from a sluggish, overweight and always tired human being to a more slender, energetic and happier person in just 6 weeks. I also know it doesn’t stop here. I’ve got to keep it up – not just for the next 6 weeks but for the rest of my life. Today, my dietician Sarah Weidener pays a visit to AM Kentucky for the weigh-in and to discuss my diet. Trainer Travis congratulates me on the additional weight loss when I arrive at Total Fitness Connection as tells me to set up my own workout for the day. I start with 40 minutes on the elliptical with the last 20 minutes on the treadmill. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink early followed by a Mexican Lean Pocket for the morning snack after my weigh-in. For lunch, it’s a Sonic Junior burger and a diet Strawberry Limeade. For supper, it’s homemade chili with lean ground beef.

I continue to schedule my workouts in the morning and the difference continues to show. I feel much more energy in the morning and my workouts seem to fly by. The only negative about working out early in the day is that I have to change clothes, workout, then shower again and put my dress clothes back on to do Midday weather. It’s a bit of a hassle and is doing a number on my suits, but I will soon get some new clothes and another six weeks of the every day Challenge will not be that bad. Many of you have written to tell me I need to get new clothes now that I’ve dropped 20 pounds. I know they’re baggy and hanging off me, but I’m trying to wait as long as I can so I don’t have to buy “in between” sizes. I will be more than ready to buy new clothes in the next three or four weeks and be at the weight at size I want to maintain. Today, Travis has me go 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes in the weight room. Today’s Diet: It’s been 6 weeks since I’ve had a biscuit of any kind, so I stop at Hardee’s and have a sausage biscuit and Diet Coke. You know what? It just didn’t taste like it used to. Weird. For lunch it’s leftover homemade chili with Dorito’s Multigrain tortilla chips and lettuce (much like a taco salad) and Coke Zero. For supper, Shelia and I have the same thing…Chick-Fil-A charbroiled chicken sandwiches on whole wheat with medium fruit cups and Coke Zero.

Travis wants me back on the elliptical today but also has me work a few minutes on the treadmill. Nothing special today as Travis allows me to pace myself on both machines as long as I keep my heart rate up and continue to see results. Today’s Diet: For breakfast, Apex fit mix drink and a Jello strawberry/banana fruit cup. Morning snack: Peanut butter and crackers with orange juice. Lunch: Regular McDonald’s plain hamburger with Diet Coke. Supper: Roast beef and turkey sandwich wedges, vegetables and a handful of potato chips.

It’s another full day of Christmas parades today and the weather is not very good. There’s lots of fog and it’s raining. This is the kind of day where you want to stay indoors but we’re all off to parade it up again and try not to eat a lot food not on the Challenge. I start the day with some scrambled eggs and sausage wrapped in a flour tortilla shell with orange juice. That didn’t last me very long so we stop between parades and I got a Wendy’s single hamburger with lettuce, pickle, mustard and ketchup and a Diet Coke. Later, we have lunch at Pizza Hut. I got a Personal Pan Pizza with hamburger topping. I had a salad before I ate the pizza which just about filled me up. Late that evening after the last parade in Tompkinsville, we head to Francis’ BBQ and hook up with David Arms…one of my favorite people in the world…and he hooks us up with his famous barbeque! I stayed away from the potato salad and slaw but had baked beans instead. Okay, so today wasn’t the best of days on “The Allen Challenge” but it was parade day and I knew it would be full of calories and not so much of the wholesome foods I normally eat.

Like many other churches in the area, Hillvue Heights is featuring their choir all this month during December services which means a hearty breakfast is waiting for me. For those of you who haven’t read my earlier posts, I help the tech team at Hillvue just about every Sunday with audio recording and mixing of all three morning services to CD and DVD. This means I have to be there from 6:30am until about 12:30 or 1pm that afternoon. We have a team of volunteers at Hillvue that make sure the tech team, praise team and choir all get fed. Today, I have one biscuit with a little gravy, scrambled eggs and a couple of pieces of bacon with orange juice. For lunch, Shelia gets us both Zaxby’s charbroiled chicken salad, but instead of using their dressing, I use a low-fat honey mustard dressing that’s lower in calories. We really didn’t have supper because I was feeling a bit guilty about all the “other” foods I’d eaten over the weekend, so I worked out playing drums for an hour and we had fat-free Angel Food Cake with real strawberries.

The Allen Challenge: Week 5
--Monday, December 3, 2007

Thanksgiving week is behind me and I feel I did pretty well. Getting through the holiday was a challenge in itself with all the good food sitting around. Today, trainer Travis wants me to step up my cardio workout…so it’s back on the treadmill for 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes of weights. The last 30 minutes seem more like a sprint as Travis is doing his best to keep my heart rate up between 145-165bpm and has me going from the treadmill to the weights and back every few minutes. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink early followed by a Boca Breakfast Burrito later in the morning. (Boca brand foods are naturally made with less fat and calories and are found in the frozen food section at the store). For lunch, a Lean Cuisine Chicken Panini sandwich and Sprite Zero. Supper: Two hard-shell tacos made with Laura’s Lean Beef, fat free cheese, ketchup and lots of lettuce.

Trainer Travis keeps me with the same workout I have done the past few days – mostly cardio with some weight training thrown in. It seems to be working but my legs get tired. I feel I could go a pretty good distance on the treadmill until I’m told to run or jog…it’s then I feel my legs tiring out after about 30 minutes. Today, Travis wants me to punch it up a bit and go for some 2 minute jogs at 4.5mph increasing my heart rate and then bring me back down to a slower walk at a lower incline. The key is to strengthen the heart by simulating going up and down hills. It’s also building my endurance. Travis says my heart is getting in better condition now as it takes longer to reach my target heart rate and it takes me longer to get sweaty and winded. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink and banana early followed by 2 tbls. Peanut butter with graham cracker later in the morning. Lunch: Chick-Fil-A charbroiled chicken sandwich on a wheat bun with pickle and lettuce…fruit cup and a Coke Zero. Supper: Baked chicken with green peas and corn on the cob, small salad.

Wednesday weigh-in: 268 lbs. (net loss -15 lbs)

Can you believe I’ve lost 2 pounds and almost 4 inches after Thanksgiving? What this tells me – and the staff at Total Fitness – is that I’m getting back on track. Today, Travis has me spend about 40 minutes on the treadmill and the last 15 minutes doing reps in the weight room and even throwing around medicine balls (at least I think that’s what they’re called!) Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink and banana early followed by a Boca Breakfast Burrito later and orange juice later in the morning. Lunch: Healthy Choice Steak Tips with small potato halves and green beans. Supper: Wheat spaghetti with Ragu Healthy Heart sauce, salad with Thousand Island dressing, Pillsbury low fat Italian bread.

For the first time since I began the challenge, I did an earlier workout today. I have Midday weather at 11 and a conference call at 1, so I decided the only way I would be able to get some gym time would be around 9am. Boy, did it make a difference!! I have always thought my best energy is early in the morning…but by 11am or 12noon, most of my energy for the day is spent…and that’s when I’ve been working out. Travis has me start on the elliptical wants to see if I can go at least 30 minutes there. Yesterday, I could go only 15 minutes before my knees and legs started hurting. Today…I go 40 minutes! I also brought my headphones where I could plug in on the machine and watch CMT videos. My energy was high, the music was good and I was in a groove that I had not felt until today. Maybe coming in early was the difference. It certainly was the emotional and physical boost I needed. After 40 minutes on the elliptical, I got on the bike for the last 20 minutes. Travis said I needed to keep the RPM’s around 90…I hit a stride and kept it closer to 100-110 rpm’s equivalent to running 4 miles! This indeed was the best overall workout day I’ve had so far in “the Challenge”. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink early followed by Jello 100-calorie Strawberry/Banana fruit cup with 8oz. orange juice late morning. Lunch: Lean Pocket Pizza with small salad. Supper: Broiled chicken breast with lemon pepper seasoning, lima beans and corn.

Today I turn 45. I’ve lived 45 years and it’s taken me this long to really get in shape. But as they say…it’s never too late. Today, trainer Travis doesn’t let me off the hook just because it’s my birthday. It’s 40 minutes on the elliptical, 15 minutes on the treadmill and I volunteered about 5 minutes on the abdominal. Yeah, that’s right...on my own, I walk over to the abdominal machine and work it until it burned. Then I rested for a moment and burned it up again. It wasn’t done to impress Travis, rather it was my way of telling myself that I’m not about to slow down just because I turn another year older. Today’s Diet: Apex fit mix drink and a banana for breakfast, Mexican Lean Pocket for mid-morning snack…Subway 6” roast beef sandwich and Baked Lays potato chips for lunch. My birthday supper was at Longhorn Steakhouse where I had half…that’s right, half of a 7oz. Renegade steak with baked potato and salad. (What? No birthday cake? Nope!)

It’s Christmas parade day across South Central Kentucky! This is the first of two weekends in which I will be going all day and having to eat out. Now, that doesn’t sound like a bad deal but I have to be careful what I eat and make the right choices that are not going to come back and bite me at next Wednesday’s weigh-in. I start the day with a Chick-Fil-A multigrain bagel and fruit cup with a Coke Zero. For lunch, we all stop to eat at El Mazatlan in Munfordville. I haven’t had any real Mexican food since I started The Allen Challenge and I was ready for it. I lost count on the chips and salsa (oops!) but I had a regular beef burrito with refried beans and Mexican rice. I asked for extra lettuce on my burrito and a little less cheese, so I think I did pretty well. We finally got to eat supper after the Columbia parade at Shoney’s in which I had a large salad with some fruit, a 4oz. flank steak with a baked potato, corn and lima beans.

I’m running audio again at church this Sunday so I start the day with a good cup of coffee and breakfast is served at church. There’s lots of homemade goodies so I have to choose carefully. I eat a small piece of egg casserole and fruit but avoid the sweet rolls. For lunch I have leftover wheat spaghetti with Ragu Heart Healthy sauce. Shelia and I also have supper this evening at church as they have prepared a special Christmas meal for all the tech team members. There’s salad with roast beef and stewed vegetables (carrots, potatoes, green beans) along with sugar free apple, cherry and pecan pie. Don’t worry…I didn’t eat all three…I just had the apple.

The Allen Challenge: Week 4
--Thursday, November 29, 2007

Here we go…Thanksgiving week. Some people have asked me why in the world would I consider doing a diet and exercise program in the midst of the holidays. I really can’t answer that except to say I turn 45 in a few days and it just seemed to be the right time to take action. I will tell you that Thanksgiving is throwing me off. There’s much to do and more time off…which means more room for error. I will be honest with you and tell you this week was pretty much a blur so if the lack of details are obvious, that’s why. At Total Fitness, trainer Travis puts me on the treadmill for 30 minutes followed by reps in the weight room and ab machine. Today’s diet starts with the Apex fit mix drink followed by a Lean Cuisine Chicken Club Panini for lunch and three slices of Domino’s Crispy Melt Pizza. (Yeah, I know…I just ratted on myself, but I was craving pizza so bad!)

I know it’s a short week but I am just not into working out today. It’s warm outside and I just want to go home and prepare for Thanksgiving (excuses, excuses, etc.) I drag myself in and I believe trainer Travis can tell when I’m not having a good day. But I’ve come to learn the faster I face the fact I’m not having a good day and “get over myself”, the better off I will be. Travis puts me back on the treadmill…this time a little longer and a little faster. Today’s diet starts with the Apex fit mix drink followed by a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich with Coke Zero and leftover Domino’s Pizza for supper. I did eat a salad with it so I wouldn’t feel so guilty.

Wednesday weigh-in: 270 lbs. (no loss, no gain over last week)
As you can see, things have slowed down. My occasional “cheating” and not keeping a tight diary of my daily eating habits are showing up on the scales. I feel bad because Travis is on the AM show today and we have nothing to show for it. I suppose “no gain” is a plus, but we all want to see more weight loss. Later on for the workout, Travis explains that we got to do some catching up to stay on pace…so it’s more treadmill and weight room reps. Both Travis and Sarah the dietician spend a few minutes discussing with me the pitfalls of my recent diet detours. It wasn’t a scolding (although I felt I deserved one). It was more of an assessment of what I have eaten over the past week and where I need to be now. I really blow today’s diet (feeling bad about the weigh-in…and a little rebellious, too). I want a cheeseburger and fries so bad, so I give in and hit McDonalds. It didn’t taste right. Maybe I’ve become accustomed to not eating foods higher in fat. That evening, I eat the last two pieces of the Domino’s pizza and call an end to my “rebellion”.

It’s Thanksgiving and I am determined to eat better. So I fell off the wagon a few days and I coped an attitude. Who hasn’t? I guess there was a part of me that actually believed I could still lose weight eating “my” way. As you can see, I was wrong. I only have to work the AM shift today and then it’s home to help Shelia prepare our Thanksgiving meal which we will pack up and take to her mother’s house in Nashville. After my morning Apex drink, I come home to the smell of celery, bell pepper and other spices wafting through the house. I love the smell of Thanksgiving! I help Shelia prepare the turkey, dressing, vegetables and all the other “fixin’s” that go with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I recall what Sarah the dietician said on AM Kentucky a week ago when she suggested the correct portions of food I should be eating today. I actually surprised myself by not overdoing it. I had a plate filled with smaller portions of just about everything and I was full! I usually go back for seconds and thirds…but I didn’t do that today.

Black Friday is here but I’m not brave enough to get up early with many of the other shoppers and fight the crowds. Shelia and I both have the day off so we sleep in…until 7am (which is late for me) and head out to shop a little. We both start the day with a bowl of Bran Flakes and skim milk with a banana for breakfast. Shelia decides to go with me to Total Fitness for my “after Thanksgiving” workout before we have lunch. Trainer Travis puts me back on the treadmill along with some interval weights and stomach crunches to hopefully offset any additional Thanksgiving calories. But much to our surprise, the treadmill scale said that I may have lost a pound or two! While I continue my workout, Shelia gets on the treadmill and elliptical machine. After our workout, we decide we need something other than turkey leftovers so we head to Longhorn Steakhouse for lunch. I had a 7oz. steak, salad with Thousand Island dressing and a baked potato with Promise butter spread. For supper that night, we did eat Thanksgiving leftovers (and for several nights to come!)

The weekend is here and not much is going on. I will be going out today with Shane to program weather radios at the Crossroads IGA on Scottsville Road. On most Saturday’s, Shelia and I head off early to eat breakfast and hit the grocery store. Today, we eat a light breakfast with Egg Beaters scrambled eggs, wheat toast and some turkey sausage. For lunch I have a Pizza style Lean Pocket with a small side salad. And you guessed it, more Thanksgiving leftovers with some fresh(er) vegetables for supper.

I’m mixing audio again this Sunday at church so I start the day with my Apex fit mix drink. At church, a breakfast is prepared for all the tech team and praise team members. There was a lot to choose from along with a lot of verbal jabs about “anything here on The Allen Challenge?” There were breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, a breakfast casserole made of eggs, cheese and sausage, sausage links, homemade sweet rolls and fruit salad. I chose to eat one burrito, fruit salad, a small portion of the casserole and a sausage link with some grapefruit juice. I avoided the sweet rolls along with the biscuits and gravy. I thought I did pretty well. For lunch I had a baked piece of chicken chopped into a salad. For supper that night we had shredded leftover turkey made into barbeque with baked Lay’s potato chips.

The Allen Challenge: Week 3
--Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Here we go into my third week of the Challenge. Today, trainer Travis is still concerned about my left ankle and my occasional knee pain so he has me back in the pool to make sure I haven’t stiffened up. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. AM Snack: Special K strawberry bar and 8oz. of orange juice. Lunch: Lean Cuisine Chicken Panini sandwich with a Sprite Zero. PM Snack: Peanut butter crackers and water. Supper: Healthy Choice Lazagna with wheat toast, salad with 1 tbsp. Thousand Island dressing, iced tea with Splenda.

With the knees and ankle feeling much stronger, trainer Travis decides to move me from the pool to the exercise and weight room. First off is a 20 minute jog on the treadmill going up and down inclines at various speeds. Again, the goal is to get my heart rate up again to around 150 bpm. After an average speed of 3.6mph and a simulated 1.5 mile run, I hit my target heart rate and felt pretty good. After that, it was 20 minutes on the Airdyne bike. I’m not real crazy about this machine. In fact, Travis says not many people are. The seat is very uncomfortable and you must pedal and move your arms at the same time. The wind that is generated by the big fan wheel up front is chilling on my sweaty head…almost too chilling! About half way through, my legs and knees begin to give out. They’re just tired from the treadmill so I rest the legs for a few seconds while keeping the arms going. The last 20 minutes of my workout is in the weight room where Travis puts me on the fly machines and abdominals. My gut was on fire after that! Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. AM Snack: 100 calorie Jello Strawberry/Banana snack, water. Lunch: Lean roast beef sandwich on whole wheat bread with fat free cheese, lettuce and mustard, Coke Zero. PM Snack: 100 calorie Jello fruit cup, water. Supper: Homemade chili with 96% lean ground beef, tomato sauce, seasonings and pinto beans, iced tea with Splenda, salad with 1 tbsp. of Thousand Island dressing.

Wednesday weigh-in: 270 lbs (net loss -13 lbs)
Today, my dietician Sarah from Total Fitness Connection made an appearance on AM Kentucky. She brought in some real food (which I did not eat) which simulated a regular Thanksgiving dinner. Then she also prepared what Thanksgiving dinner should look like for folks like me watching calories and on an vigorous exercise program. Like I have stated here before, it’s not about giving up the foods you enjoy…it’s more about portion control and making the right choices. Sarah says you can still eat your turkey and dressing in smaller doses and still feel fulfilled. I’ve noticed lately that it doesn’t take as much food to fill me up as it used to. I grew up thinking it was wrong to ever leave food on your plate (I can almost hear Mom saying that to me now!). What I have also noticed is I’ve gone up two notches on the belt I’ve been wearing for the past six months! My clothes are very loose now which means eventually I’m going to have to think about a new wardrobe! I am also pumped that I lost another 6 pounds this week bringing my two week total loss to 13 pounds. It really is amazing and I’m starting to really see and feel the difference. Four weeks ago, I would not have imagined I would feel or look this way…it all seemed so impossible. But you’re seeing the proof yourself – all without gimmicks, drugs, formulas or surgery. My workout today…same as Tuesday’s. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and apple slices. AM Snack: Grapes with applesauce and water. Lunch: McDonalds Happy Meal hamburger (no cheese), Diet Coke with 4 fries (I gave the rest to my next door neighbor’s dog!) PM Snack: 100 calorie Lorna Doone cookie pack with water. Supper: leftover Chili with fat free cheese toast, Sprite Zero.

Trainer Travis continues my reps in the exercise and weight room at Total Fitness Connection today. When I arrive, he’s working with another client in the weight room so he tells me to build my own workout on the treadmill. So, having watched Travis the past few days, I set the treadmill clock to 20 minutes and program in some hills and valleys. I finish my workout as he is finishing up with his other client and he checks my progress. “Good job” he says…”as good as I would have done it”. Today’s Diet: AM: Hardee’s scrambled eggs and sausage, Diet Coke. AM Snack: 100 calorie Jello strawberry/banana fruit cup, water. Lunch: Lean Cuisine three meat pizza, small salad, Sprite Zero. PM Snack: Peanut butter and graham crackers, water. Supper: Applebees salad with Thousand Island dressing, chips and salsa…and a few of Shelia’s nachos.

Today, I’m really running behind. I’m very busy at work and I have a ton of bills to pay and errands to run. Tonight, I plan to play basketball with the WBKO Tube Jox in Munfordville. That will be a pretty good workout in itself, so I stop by Total Fitness and talk with trainer Travis. He agrees a good two-hour basketball workout tonight is just what I need. And let me tell you…it was quite a workout! It had been a while since I played basketball but I found it easier to run up and down the court and not get as winded as before. Oh yeah, I got tired, but I kept the pace and even scored a three-pointer during the game against the Munfordville PTO. We helped raise over $1600 toward playground equipment from that game for the kids at Munfordville Elementary. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. AM Snack: 2 Special K strawberry bars with water. Lunch: Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich (no mayo), about 4 waffle fries, Coke Zero. PM Snack: Peanut butter and crackers, water. Supper: Sonic hamburger with ketchup, mustard, pickle and lettuce (no cheese) and about 6 tater tots with a large Sprite Zero.

Saturday morning means time to go to the store and grab breakfast together. This morning, we’re off to Cracker Barrel with our good friends Jerry and Charlotte. As I did a couple of weeks ago, I have one pancake with sugar free syrup, turkey sausage and Egg Beaters scrambled eggs. For lunch we reheated the chili we made from earlier in the week and had low-fat chili dogs. Eckrich now makes a very lean hot dog and Polish sausage line that tastes very good so that’s what we used for the hot dog…and I ate only one. For supper that evening, I decided we needed to get out of town for a little while so we dined at The Driftwood Restaurant in the Louie B. Nunn Lodge at Barren River Lake State Park. I had a large salad followed by three pieces of catfish, green beans, baked beans and a half-cup of mashed potatoes. That was followed by a sugar-free slice of strawberry cheesecake and iced tea with Splenda.

I will be mixing audio at church this morning so I start the day with my Apex fit drink and skim milk. Later, I will have some fruit salad with three or four sausage balls and orange juice. Throughout the day, I decide to snack on slices of whole wheat bread, peanut butter and 100 calorie cookies. We’re going to a marriage ministry meeting tonight and we’ll probably find a lot of foods I should probably avoid, so I’m going to take it easy this afternoon. That evening, I have about a cup of pork tenderloin in BBQ sauce (no bun), green beans, baked beans, grape fruit salad and a couple of Little Smokies. There was apple dumplings for dessert and that was probably my biggest indulgence even though it was full of real apples.

The Allen Challenge Home Page

The Allen Challenge: Week 2
--Monday, November 12, 2007

Okay, I survived one week...11 more to go! Actually, the way I need to look at this is I have the rest of my life to go. The key to this weight loss program is a total overhaul of my personal health and well being - not a one-time-only diet deal. These first 12 weeks are to put me in better shape so that I can maintain a better lifestyle for the rest of my life.

Gotta get back at it today. I feel good knowing I didn’t really splurge too much over the weekend but instead “rewarded” myself for hanging tough after one week! Today, it’s back in the pool at Total Fitness. This time, trainer Travis has me changing up my reps. Instead of the usual jumping jacks in the water, he has me kicking and skipping in the pool. I told him it reminded me of Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through The Tulips”. Kinda strange, but the key was to get my heart rate up and it worked. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. AM Snack: Apple slices and 8oz. orange juice. Lunch: 6” Subway steak sandwich with Sprite Zero. PM Snack: Peanut butter crackers and water. Supper: Salad with Thousand Island dressing, Lean Cuisine pizza, iced tea with Splenda.

It’s back in the water today for my workout. Much like Monday’s workout, trainer Travis has me doing some different reps in the pool and comments I’m walking much faster and keeping pace better than when I started a week ago. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and apple slices. AM Snack: Peanut butter and graham crackers with water. Lunch: Lean Cuisine Chicken Panini sandwich with a Coke Zero. PM Snack: 100 calorie Lorna Doone cookie pack with 8oz. skim milk. Supper: Chicken salad with Honey Mustard dressing, iced tea with Splenda.

Wednesday Weigh-in: 276 lbs. (net loss -7 lbs.)

Wow! I’ve lost 7 pounds in the first week! I knew that my clothes were feeling loose and I’m now able to latch my belt at the next notch. For the first time in months, I am under 280 and I am determined to stay that way. It all high-fives as I meet trainer Travis and crew at Total Fitness for my workout at the Three Springs location. I usually workout at the Russellville Road location but it is closed today because they are getting new workout equipment. So, trainer Travis decides today we’re going to hit tennis balls. I played a little tennis and racquetball about 15 years ago, but it had been a while since I picked up a racquet. Travis lobs tennis balls at me one after the other…left, then right, then left…and I have to hit them back. At one point, I came down on my left foot awkwardly and a sharp pain went up my leg and left glute muscle. After that, the pain was pretty intense around my left ankle so Travis advised me to ice it down when I got home. Nutritionist Sarah congratulates me on sticking with the diet plan and says there will be no more changes unless I start to feel weak again. Right now, the meal plan seems to be working and my metabolism appears to be speeding up a bit. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit drink mix with banana. AM Snack: 2 Special K strawberry bars and water. Lunch: 1 McDonalds hamburger with ketchup, mustard and pickle (no cheese or fries), diet Coke. PM Snack: Banana and small glass skim milk. Supper: Wheat spaghetti with Ragu Heart Healthy sauce and fat free cheese, iced tea with Splenda.

Well, it seems my ankle injury yesterday accentuated itself a bit more today. I had iced it down last night and it really wasn’t bothering me before I started working out. Trainer Travis says we’re going to do some elliptical and treadmill time today instead of the pool. I can only go 7 minutes on the elliptical as my left ankle starting hurting. Next, I get on the treadmill and the pain begins to worsen. Travis decides to put me in the pool for at least the last 15 minutes of my workout so I can cool down and maybe stretch out the pain in my left ankle. But the pain didn’t go away and he told me to see Eric, the physical therapist at Total Fitness. Eric said that my left ankle was indeed inflamed and I should continue to ice it down for a while. In the meantime, he was going to advise Travis to keep me off the treadmill and elliptical machines until my ankle is better. Today’s Diet: AM: Hardee’s sausage patty with scrambled eggs and Diet Coke. AM Snack: apple slices and water. Lunch: 6” Subway tuna sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce, Baked Lays potato chips, Diet Sprite. PM Snack: Jello 100 calorie Strawberry/Banana fruit cup, water. Supper: Leftover spaghetti from Wednesday’s supper.

I call trainer Travis early and tell him it might not be a good idea to workout today because of my ankle injury. I will be honest with you, there was no way I was going to work out today with that hurting. But Travis tells me I can still workout today without impacting my legs and feet, so I reluctantly agreed to come in. He puts me on a machine (not sure what it’s called) where I pedal with my hands as hard as I can. While I’m doing this, Travis and the rest of the Total Fitness physical therapy crew ice down my knees and my bad ankle. The key today was to work the upper part of my body and of course more cardio to keep my heart rate up. I thought my arms would fall off after this workout! I had to keep a steady pace of 65-75 rpms per minute as I pedaled with my arms and hands. Travis tells me I’m making great progress despite the ankle injury and to keep up the good work. He also said I should ice down the ankle some more this weekend and schedule in a walk or drum playing session to keep me from getting stiff. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with a banana. AM Snack: Peanut butter and graham crackers with applesauce and water. Lunch: McDonalds chicken wrap with Diet Coke. PM Snack: Jello 100 calorie Strawberry/Banana fruit cup. Supper: O’Charley’s salad with Thousand Island dressing, 2 chicken tenders and 1 potato skin appetizer (no yeast rolls!), Coke Zero.

It’s time to head to the grocery store as usual on Saturday mornings. This time, I tell Shelia I want a real breakfast full of the calories and portions I probably shouldn’t have. We decide to go to Shoney’s where I can get as many scrambled eggs as I want. Of course, now anytime I eat out, I get strange looks or people coming up to our table and saying “are you supposed to be eating that?” Look, it’s okay. I am not restricted to rabbit food for this diet. I keep telling people that it’s okay to eat out as long as the portions are smaller and some healthy choices are made. Believe it or not, before I ate any breakfast items, I started with a salad. That’s right…a salad for breakfast! That way, I got in a lot of my vegetables for the day even before I get into the “bad” stuff. And you know what? I didn’t want as much of the normal breakfast foods because I had already half-way filled up on salad. I thought that was a smart decision. I ended up only getting two servings of scrambled eggs, a couple of pieces of bacon, a cup of hashbrowned potatoes and a serving of strawberries. Later that day, Shelia and I spent the rest of the day cleaning house, doing laundry and other chores which worked out some of the soreness in my ankle. I also played drums for almost 90 minutes. That also seemed to help. Today’s Diet: AM: (Shoney’s as mentioned above). AM Snack: Banana with peanut butter and water. Lunch: Lean Pocket pizza pocket with Coke Zero with a light salad. PM Snack: 100 calorie Lorna Doone shortbread cookie pak with a glass of skim milk. Supper: Two wheat tortilla shells filled with grilled chicken slices, salad greens, carrots and honey mustard with steamed sweet corn and green peas, iced tea with Splenda.

I don’t have to run audio at church this Sunday, so we get up a little later and fix ourselves breakfast together. Today will be a day of relaxing after grocery shopping and cleaning house all day Saturday. We also work in a well deserved afternoon nap. Today’s Diet: AM: 2 Egg Beaters scrambled eggs, 1 slice of wheat toast, 2 slices of bacon, 1 cup of orange juice. Lunch: Sliced turkey and ham sandwich on whole wheat bread, fat free cheese and lettuce, Coke Zero. Supper: Applebee’s salad with 2 mini burgers, Diet Pepsi.

The Allen Challenge Home Page

The Allen Challenge: Week 1
--Monday, November 5, 2007

Most of you know by now that I have challenged myself to eat right and lose weight over the next 12 weeks with the help of Total Fitness Connection. I will turn 45 later this month and I've carried this belly of mine around long enough. Like most people my age, realities begin setting in and you know it's time to do something. My aim is to not only improve my own health but that of many other people like me who need to stop putting it off and start taking it off!

During my 12-week intense diet and workout regime, I will be monitored by my trainer Travis, my nutritionist Sarah and my physician Dr. James Jarvis to make sure I'm taking full advantage of the program. They will help me eat right, workout for the best results and ensure I stay healthy through the whole thing. While you can check here and on the Allen Challenge web page for weekly updates, we will also be monitoring the progress of 5 other co-challengers from South Central Kentucky. While they are responsible for starting their own program at the gym of their choice, we will still keep you up to date on their progress.

Well, I have the first week behind me and it was pretty tough on me. The diet I could actually handle better than the workout as you'll read in the following updates.

The Allen Challenge: Week 1

Excited and a bit apprehensive about my first day at workout. While I am looking forward to taking off the weight, I honestly don’t want to work for it. You know what I mean? But as trainer Travis tells me “it took a while to put it on – it’s gonna take a while to take it off”. On this first day, trainer Travis puts me in the pool walking laps. I never realized it could be so difficult! After the workout, I meet with my nutritionist Sarah and go over my meal plans. The key is to eat less but more often. In other words, don’t try to eat the usual 3-squares full of calories. I will now eat 5 times a day but with less portions and healthier foods. The key is to limit my caloric intake to 2000 calories per day. Today’s Diet: the old stuff for the last time…AM: sausage and biscuit with medium Coke. Lunch: 2 McD’s cheeseburgers, large fry, large Coke. Supper: Baked potato with chili and cheese, glass of iced tea.

My second day in the pool. Amazingly, I don’t feel any soreness but my calves do feel a bit tighter than before. Trainer Travis has me doing laps along with jumping jacks, leg kicks and running in place reps in the pool. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. AM Snack: Special K strawberry bar, 1 tbsp. peanut butter, Coke Zero. Lunch: Lean Cuisine beef tips with corn. PM Snack: Apex cookie with a small orange juice. Supper: Healthy Choice meal with blackened chicken, Coke Zero.

First Weigh-In: 283 lbs.

It’s Halloween but I’m resisting the candy. I’m not a big candy eater anyway. I do feel somewhat weaker today than in previous days. My legs feel more fatigued than before and in several ways, I’m not looking forward to working out in the pool. But trainer Travis puts me through the reps again…this time for a longer length of time (feelin’ the burn!). Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and apple slices. AM Snack: Special K strawberry bar, Coke Zero. Lunch: 6” Subway tuna salad sub with lettuce (no cheese or chips) and a Diet Coke. PM Snack: a tangerine and 1 cup of skim milk. Supper: leftover chili (1 cup) with 3 crackers, iced tea.

I am so tired. I really don’t want to workout today. God help me if I have to go back into the water doing jumping jacks and walking laps. I am sick and tired of the water and frankly the workout routine. I got to have variety, otherwise I will get bored with the routine and not stick to it. So, trainer Travis meets me at the door as I walk in to Total Fitness and says we’ll shake things up today. That’s fine…but I just want to go home and take a nap. But, I decide to stay and see what trainer Travis has in mind. Thankfully, no pool time today…it’s all treadmill and weights. Wow, the newer treadmills are really something with fans and audio inputs so you can watch TV while jogging. Our treadmill at home is currently subbing as a closet with clothes hanging all over it! Trainer Travis starts me out with a steady jog around 3mph and constantly checks my heart rate. We’re trying to get an average heart rate of 135 to 140bpm on a regular basis. As I start to run, it actually feels pretty good. I can tell the pool workouts have helped the endurance of my legs. About half way through the 30-minute workout on the treadmill, trainer Travis raises the incline and speeds up the pace between 3 and 4mph. I want to stop right away but Travis makes me keep going. I don’t think I’m going to make it but then it’s over. 30-minutes jogging a mile and a half burning 200 calories! My average heart rate…137bpm which Travis says is perfect. After that, he takes me to the weight room. Now, I gotta be honest with you all…I wanted to cuss so bad after this. We went from machine to machine doing at least 12 reps on each. I was about ready to give trainer Travis “what for” a couple of times. I know he’s pushing me in the right way, it’s just my body wants to quit…give up…and not come back. But I know I’ve got to keep going. This is the period when many people do give up thinking it’s too hard to keep up with the pace. Trainer Travis assures me it will get easier with time. I hope he’s right. After my workout, I meet again with my nutritionist Sarah to discuss my tiredness. I give her a brief rundown of what I’ve been eating and she suggested I up my carbs and protein intake a little more. She also suggested I drink more water and that will cut down on the cramps and tightness in my legs. Today’s Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and a banana. AM Snack: Special K strawberry bar, small orange juice. Lunch: Lean Cuisine Panini sandwich, Coke Zero. PM Snack: Apex cookie and 1 cup skim milk. Supper: A salad with baked chicken nuggets and 1 tbsp. honey mustard and a Coke Zero.

Okay...after yesterday's workout, I'm ready to head back into the pool! I'm not sure I'm going to like weights at all. Trainer Travis seems to think I can handle the treadmill better than he thought. In fact, he told me I seem to be exhibiting better upper body strength than he anticipated. All of this is very encouraging but it still doesn't ease the tightness and some soreness I feel in my arms and legs right now. This is the first day I really feel the effects of my workouts all over my body. The diet is still going well. I'm looking forward to the weekend so I can "reward" myself a little for surviving the first week. After doing some more reps in the pool, trainer Travis tells me to take a brisk 40 minute walk sometime during the weekend to keep me from getting stiff and to get me prep'ed for Monday. Today's Diet: AM: Apex fit mix drink with skim milk and apple slices. AM Snack: 2 tsp. peanut butter on graham crackers with 8oz. orange juice. Lunch: Captain D's baked fish with rice and green beans, iced tea with Splenda. PM Snack: 1 cup light vanilla ice cream Supper: O'Charley's mini-burgers (without the buns), side salad and iced tea with Splenda.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3 workout today! Do I cheat or stick with the new diet? Believe it or not, I really don't want to cheat on what nutritionist Sarah has outlined for me. She told me that eating right is about choices...making the right choices even when you go out to eat. Today, I want to relax, take in the nice weather and maybe get with some friends later. We need to go to the grocery store, so Shelia and I start on our usual Saturday morning routine of eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel and heading to Wally World before the crowds set in. 'Cracker Barrel' you ask? Why not? Remember, it's about making the right choices when you go out to eat. Later that afternoon, we head to The Lighthouse in Sulphur Well for some wonderful country cooking served family style. Even though I was tempted to overdo things there, I resisted stuffing myself beyond full like before. I looked at this as a real test of my willpower...and I believe I passed! Today's Diet: AM: Cracker Barrel 1 pancake with light syrup and Promise spread, 2 Egg Beaters low fat scrambled eggs, 2 slices of bacon, water. AM Snack: Peanut butter crackers and orange juice. Lunch: 2 slices of whole wheat bread with 6 slices of lean turkey and fat free cheese with lettuce, Coke Zero. Supper: The Lighthouse - 3 small pieces of lightly fried catfish with 2 portions of country ham, a serving of lima beans, green beans, stewed potatoes, 1 biscuit, iced tea with desert.

This Sunday I am running house sound at Hillvue Heights Church, so I'm up by 5:30 and will be at church through all three morning services until about 12:30. My main goal today is to make sure I budget in at least 40 minutes to walk as trainer Travis suggested. On days when I run audio at church, breakfast is provided for the tech team. Today, someone must have known I had started my diet because there was a fruit salad cocktail waiting there! I resisted the chocolate chip pancakes and only ate one piece of sausage. After church, a well deserved nap and then my brisk 40-minute walk down the road and back. It was a beautiful day but a bit on the breezy side for walking. It reminded me a bit of the resistance I feel when walking in the pool at Total Fitness. Today's Diet: AM: Fruit cocktail, 1 piece of sausage, Diet Dr. Pepper. Lunch: Baked chicken with rice, 1 cup of corn, slice of whole wheat bread, steamed vegetables, iced tea with Splenda. Supper: 2 slices of whole wheat bread with 6 turkey slices, fat free cheese and lettuce, side salad, Coke Zero, Edy's frozen Strawberry fruit dessert.

The Allen Challenge Home Page

FutureCast Proves It's Accuracy
--Friday, October 26, 2007

By now, you've seen most of our new forecasting and weather graphics system we debuted only two weeks ago. It got it's first real workout Thursday a week ago when severe storms and the threat of tornadoes moved through the area. That night, we were able to see violently rotating storms and track them like never before with our new First Alert "X-Vision" Doppler radar.

When we decided to purchase new weather equipment, we were impressed with WeatherCentral's fleet of high-end, high resolution mapping and forecast components. One of the standout pieces of equipment that was a "must" on our wish list was something called Microcast. What this does is combine the latest forecasting parameters with our years of forecasting experience to produce the most accurate local forecast in South Central Kentucky! You've heard others say it...but the proof is in the forecast itself.

Take for instance the forecast you saw last night and early this morning on WBKO. Shane Holinde used his years of experience combined with the forecasting power of Microcast to let you know there would still be some shower activity this morning due to the area of low pressure passing to our northwest. This is shown as our "FutureCast" product on the air. If you were watching the local AccuWeather forecast, it wasn't accurate at all. In fact, there was no mention of rain in their forecast. And they weren't the only ones...even The Weather Channel made very little mention about the chances for rain today over South Central Kentucky.

We're not saying we're always going to be 100% right 100% of the time, but with this new technology, you will not find a more accurate local forecast for South Central Kentucky than right here. And we're going to keep you up to date even more often than before. Our new forecasting suite is designed to crank out weather products 24 hours a day without interruption. Stay tuned and you will see! CA

Thank you and the staff, for the weather updates, last night. We watch your show every morning, we can depend on WBKO, for the best weather updates. The storm came threw our neighborhood (West Owl Creek Rd.) about 1:24 this morning. We had high wind and rain but no damage. Thanks again, and keep up the good work. Cora Mirus

Just wanted to let you know that I'm very glad you're back. I love hearing your honest comments on things going on in the world. You're not afraid to voice your opinion about what you think and how you feel and it's just nice to see someone in the media not being one-sided! Keep up the good work and like I said, glad you back! Jenny

Roller Coaster...of Stuff!
--Monday, October 8, 2007

Shelia and I love the yard sales. But we really enjoy Roller Coaster because it's the big sale that's tailored more to our part of South Central Kentucky. One drive down Cordell Hull Highway this time of year and you'll see why Roller Coaster has continued to be one of the most popular yard sale events - 21 years running.

We didn't make the entire trip around Dale Hollow Lake. This time, we decided to double-back toward Smiths Grove and take in part of their Community Days Festival. In between, we stopped for a delicious lunch at the Driftwood Restaurant located in the Louie B. Nunn Lodge at Barren River Lake State Park.

Tons and tons of vendors along KY 63 just south of Glasgow.

Despite the warm temperatures, Saturday was an awesome day for Roller Coaster!

This is always one of the better stops on the Roller Coaster. On a hillside near Temple Hill you'll find just about anything for sale...from tools to clothes to farm animals to fine china.

See? Farm animals. Three little pigs all asleep and paying no mind to the people around them.

Ducks, too!

Always one of the best stops along the way is Temple Hill. Here you will find well over a hundred vendors and lots of great bar-b-que.

Here's Shelia with "Granny". Everyone in Temple Hill knows Granny as Hazel Moore. She's set up things to sell all 21 years of Roller Coaster, but this, she says is her last.

Me and "Granny". What a special lady. She's been declining in health and has decided this would be her last Roller Coaster. She was practically giving things away when we visited her.

Here's "Granny" in her trademark dress which was also for sale.

Don't tell me people won't turn out for a good yard sale. I bet this is the only time of year KY 63 sees this kind of traffic.

Downtown Smiths Grove. It's not part of Roller Coaster but their Community Days Festival is not to be missed with all the antique stores, yard sales, local craftsmakers and great food.

Shelia spotted a booth set up with lots of knitted shawls and crocheted items and started talking shop with a lady from Morgantown.

On our way back home, Shelia did what she always does...knit. Right now, she's working on a prayer shawl for the Prayer Shawl Ministry at Hillvue Heights Church.

Nice huh?

Hi Chris, I enjoyed reading and seeing all the pics! We failed to come to Sulphur Well for the duck race..maybe next year and we will say hello! I, as others, am so very happy to see the rain! There is 3" in my guage this a.m. but I do have a leak in my skylight..thank goodness its over the bathtub! lol My husband drives truck for Averitt but he's got some repair work for this weekend at home. I believe you and Shelia are fine people and set an example of that very well. So, just a few comments, don't have t.v. anymore, but come here to check on things, news, and of course the weather. May God Bless, Pat Carter

The 2007 Buddy Walk
--Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wow! What a day yesterday (weather wise, too) for the 2007 South Central Kentucky Down Syndrome Buddy Walk. Several hundred people came to cheer on the young men and women with down syndrome and to promote down syndrome awareness throughout the region. Many of you know my sister-in-law Felicia has down syndrome and lives in Nashville with my mother-in law. She is a precious part of my life - so when I see another person with downs, my heart goes out to them and their families.

Before Shelia and I leave to go out of town next week for some weather training in Wisconsin, I wanted to share some pictures from yesterday's event in which I was honored to be the Master of Ceremonies again for the second year in a row. When we get to Madison, I'll hop on here sometime next week and post some pictures from the trip. Until then, God bless you all and I will see you on the 24th! CA

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